Saturday, May 7, 2016

Second Stage of Something Started: Lost (Part IV)

They woke at first light and looked at Step One in their instructions for the Colosseum job. They were being asked to find a nice open space to build the whole structure. The best way to know where to find this was to climb up to the highest point. Otherwise, they would have to search the entire island. Again, they didn’t know how much time they had, but starting early was the best plan of action. They ate a couple of the freeze-dried meals Makarion left for them in the survival pack, then they headed out. The climb up the mountain wasn’t all that bad. They suffered some bug bites and burr scratches, but that was nothing compared to the lives they had led up until that point. What they discovered upon reaching the summit was possibly the scariest part. They didn’t have binoculars, but they could see something white and big moving in the middle of the valley of a mesa down below. No, it wasn’t just moving, it was crawling. It could have been a bear, and in fact probably was. In another life, Saga had been a huge fan of the television show LOST. “Perfect,” she whispered.
“That’s a golf course.”
“Sorry, I meant to phrase that as a question. That’s a golf course?!”
“Of course it is,” Saga answered before beginning the climb back down. “They build it in episode nine.”
By the time they got all the way down to the makeshift golf course, the polar bear was gone, if it was even ever there. Two people they didn’t recognize were standing by one of the flags, as if waiting for them. “You must be our competition,” one of them said.
“Are we?” Vearden asked.
“Only one team gets to build the Colosseum,” the other one explained. “Did the Rogue not tell you this?”
“Who is the Rogue?”
“Oh, yes,” Saga said. “I mean, no, he didn’t say anything about another team.”
“So we’ll be golfing for the contract?” Vearden asked. “Like rich idiots whacking balls around while hammering out business deals?”
“I thought you didn’t watch the show,” Saga lamented.
“What show?” Vearden asked.
“Are we gonna do this thing,” the first guy began impatiently, “or just talk about it? The wind’ll pick up soon.”
The other one felt the need to mediate. “What my brother, Octavian is trying to say is that bad things happen when you keep the Rogue waiting.” He lifted his hand. “I’m Sevastian, by the way.”
“Saga and Vearden.”
Sevastian motioned for his brother to be polite as well.
Octavian reluctantly shook their hands. “You must be the door-walking freelancers.”
“We are.”
“Well, let’s play, door-walkers.”

After losing the game, Saga and Vearden found themselves rushing through the jungle. What they hadn’t known at the beginning was that they were competing not for the contract to build the Colosseum, but for the right to live long enough to build it. Had they won, they wouldn’t have been able to go through with this task, but Sevastian and Octavian seemed to have no trouble with it. In fact, they were acting like their responsibility was no different than any other day. Perhaps they had killed people before. Saga and Vearden were no strangers to death, but they had never been the direct cause of it. Vearden drove the first ambulance back in 1487 during the Siege of Málaga while Saga was a nurse at the hospital. It is there that they met their spouses-to-be. Vearden’s future wife, Violante was a nurse as well. Saga’s future husband, Hernán was an injured soldier that they all treated. The two of them had spent the majority of their lives helping and healing people. They didn’t want to kill. They would never kill. But it was either them or the brothers. They had to find a way out of this.
“We have to get back to the stargate,” Vearden eked out while they were at a jog, unable to keep the high pace from the beginning of their escape attempt.
“We don’t know how to operate that thing,” Saga noted.
“I do not intend to operate it,” he replied. “The guns should still be under the ramp.”
She pulled him down so that they could hide under some brush. “I thought we didn’t want to hurt anyone.”
“This is our island. We can’t leave, even if we had the means to do so. If we don’t fight back, we’re just going to keep running and hiding. That’s not practical. Somebody’s going to die, and somebody’s going to build a Colosseum. I know which one I choose.”
“So we shoot them?”
“It’s a lot more humane than their plan to bash us over the heads with golf clubs.”
“Were there even bullets in the guns?”
“Yes, twelve. I did look.”
“Violante would be disappointed in you.”
“My wife is dead, and has been for centuries, so I don’t really have time to worry about what she might have thought.”
“You don’t know she’s dead.”
“She’s dead to me, just the same.”
“Okay, well what would your daughter say?”
“Stop putting up roadblocks!” Vearden yelled. “I’m trying to get us out of here!”
They could hear Sevastian and Octavian draw nearer. “I think I heard them somewhere around here,” one of them, doesn’t matter which, said.
Saga and Vearden stopped talking and kept their heads down. They watched as feet walked by, still on the hunt for their prey. Saga wanted to point out that this was an iconic scene in the second season of LOST, but she managed to stay quiet. Once the danger seemed to have passed, they stood up and started running again, this time in a completely different direction. They were able to make it about a half-mile before Sevastian plowed into Saga like a bull, dropping them both halfway into a shallow creek. Vearden tried to run back and help, but was stopped by Octavian.
“Just let it happen,” Octavian growled.
Vearden called upon his memory of fighting the two Gondilak on Orolak many years ago, and also of some things they had later taught him. Though they were an extremely sophisticated race, they had a special brand of battle. They didn’t learn technique or control. They learned to let go. They summoned their baser instincts and forced themselves into a kind of fugue state they referred to as the blood rampage, so that all of their reservations could drift to the side. He had never actually tried this himself, but there was no time like the present. He first pushed Octavian away from his person and knelt only one knee on the ground, holding balance with the opposite fist. He began to hyperventilate himself, increasing in speed and intensity with every breath.
“What the hell is he doing?” Octavian screamed to his brother who had Saga pinned down, but was too intrigued by Vearden to continue his assault.
Vearden ignored them and went about his routine, purposefully allowing slobber to spray out of his clenched teeth like a rabid animal. He added a voice to the barrage of breaths to convert them into howls. Part of this ritual was to enter the battle state, but also to disarm nearby opponents. It was especially effective against an enemy who had no clue what was going on. The howling changed to shrieking, and then to full on yelling. Vearden’s head was pulsating with pain, and had turned red to prove it to everyone else. With no warning, he leapt off the ground, higher than he ever had, aided by a surge of adrenaline. He landed in Octavian’s arms, who had opened them by an instinct of his own. Octavian fell to the ground so that Vearden could begin a proper beating.
Before Vearden could do all that much damage, Sevastian had gotten up from Saga to pull him away, holding Vearden’s arms behind his own back. Vearden kicked at Octavian furiously before sticking his leg between Sevastian’s and tripping him. Sevastian let go to protective himself from the fall, so Vearden took his chance to attack them both simultaneously. It was like an action film sequence, but one choreographed by somebody who had come into work drunk that day. Not only did the the blood rampage increase the user’s ability to do damage to the opponent, but it also prevented them from being bothered by injury. A rampager will continue to attack until their final breath unless the danger passes, or they can be calmed by someone else.
While Vearden was fighting, a sort of summoning happened to Saga as well. After turning to her side so as to not drown in her own blood, a silvery object appeared before her eyes. It was one of the guns from the trunk that Makarion had left them. Despite Vearden’s wild side, it was clear that he was going to lose. His defeat over the two Gondilak was a fluke. Deadly weapons were involved, and he was mortally wounded. The only reason he survived was because he was imbued with the ability to self-heal. And he only won the fight because this was something the Gondilak had not expected. Nothing like that was going to happen here, so if they were going to beat the brothers, they would need an advantage. Without hesitating, she lifted the gun, pulled that thing on the top of it back, and squeezed the trigger with her eyes closed. She quickly reopened them—embarrassed about succumbing to a stereotype of female weakness—to see Sevastian fall to his knees, and then to the side. She had landed a hit right in his back, exactly where she was aiming.
Octavian flipped around, hoping to catch his brother, and somehow prevent him from dying. Vearden, still in blood rampage, picked up one of their golf clubs and slammed it against Octavian’s head.
Makarion teleported into the clearing as Vearden was coming down. “Wow, that was totally unexpected. Where did you learn how to do that?”
Remembering one last thing about the blood rampage, Vearden slammed his fist into his own jaw as hard as he could. Gondilak were taught to go for their eyes. They were the most vulnerable spots of their bodies, and the pain of a strike there was enough to push them back over the edge in case a new threat ever came about while they were in the middle of the self-calming process. Vearden used this second wind to attack Makarion.

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