Title: And Then…..
Disclaimers: Sadly, I own no one Lost World, and am making no money off of this.
Authors Notes: I wrote this story while job hunting and waiting for season 3 to start. This is my take on the beginning of season 3, especially because I'm on total denial about what David Orth said about his participation in Season 3. Kate, this one's for you. Thanks for all of your help and patience with me!
Marguerite Krux opened her eyes with a groan, and then closed them again almost instantly against the blinding sunlight above her. A moment later she cautiously opened her eyes a little at a time until they adjusted to the brightness of the sun's rays. "What in the world?" she muttered to herself. She was lying on her back on the jungle floor, her body aching all over.
Slowly, she sat up and looked around, putting a hand up to her head at the wave of dizziness she felt the second she sat up. After a moment it subsided and she began to examine her surroundings more closely. She was alone, as far as she could tell, and the part of the plateau she was in was not a familiar one. How had she gotten here, anyway?
She closed her eyes and concentrated, trying to remember the events that had led up to this moment. She and Roxton had been alone in the treehouse, they'd heard a sound, they had found the dirigible and Captain Askwith- Askwith! Marguerite's eyes flew open with a gasp as the events of the past two days came rushing back to her.
She rose to her feet unsteadily, her eyes sweeping over the surrounding landscape in search of some sign of her companions. Instinctively, she reached for the pistol at her side before she remembered that Askwith had forced them all to give up their weapons. She groaned. She was alone and unarmed in the middle of the deadly plateau. "Wonderful," she muttered to herself. "Looks like it's really not my day."
Resigning herself to her weaponless state, she squared her shoulders and began to walk. Right now the important thing was to find the others and get back to the treehouse as soon as possible. Where were the others? Had they landed close by when the dirigible exploded? For that matter, how had she herself managed to wind up in the jungle with only a few bruises and aches after the aircraft she had been on had exploded? Had the others even survived, or was she all alone on the plateau?
Giving herself a mental shake, she sharply reprimanded herself. "Don't think like that right now," she said out loud, the sound of her own voice comforting her in the relative silence that surrounded her. "The important thing is to find them and get back to the treehouse before you end up as lunch for some dinosaur or tribe of cannibals.
"Okay, those thoughts really aren't helping," she muttered to herself as she repressed a shudder. "Think. What would Roxton or Veronica do in this situation?" Several hundred yards ahead of her, she saw a large cliff overlooking a valley below. "Well, that seems like as good a vantage point as any," she told herself as she made her way to the edge.
Her sharp eyes scanned the valley below her for any sign of movement, and a few moments later a smile spread across her face at the sight of a familiar blonde striding purposefully across the valley. Veronica. "Veronica!" she cried, waving her arms frantically. "Veronica, over here! Veronica, it's Marguerite! I'm up here, on the cliff!" she called.
Veronica stopped in her tracks and looked around, a puzzled expression on her face. Her gaze swept across the valley in front of her, then looked to the cliff where Marguerite stood. Marguerite waved her arms frantically, smiling as she yelled to the younger woman. However, Veronica's eyes seemed to look right through Marguerite as she continued examining her surroundings. She looked toward the jungle on her left and then began walking toward it.
"Veronica!" Marguerite screamed at the top of her lungs. "Veronica, stop, I'm up here! Veronica!" The blonde gave no indication that she had heard Marguerite's cries as she continued on into the jungle foliage on the opposite of the valley. Moments later, she disappeared from Marguerite's sight.
The heiress's shoulders drooped in frustration. "When did I become invisible?" she said aloud. Veronica had looked right at her, but it hadn't looked like she'd known Marguerite was there at all. "Maybe she didn't hear you," she consoled herself. "The wind could have made it hard for her to hear you," she added, choosing to ignore the fact that the sky was absolutely calm without so much as a breeze.
"Well now what?" she asked herself. Should she try to run after Veronica and hope she could catch up to her? Should she start searching for the men? Or should she try to figure out where she was on the plateau and try to make her way towards the treehouse where she would hopefully find the others?
Deciding that finding the treehouse was probably the most sensible option, Marguerite scrutinized the surrounding area in an effort to determine the direction of the treehouse. After a few moments of trying to figure out the cardinal directions, Marguerite acknowledged to herself that she had no idea which way was north. Furthermore, it didn't really matter if she did figure out the directions, as she had no idea which direction she would need to travel in to get to the treehouse.
"Well this is getting me absolutely nowhere fast," Marguerite grumbled in frustration. "Where's Roxton when you need him?" For a moment, Marguerite's expression softened as she pictured the handsome hunter, but her countenance became worried again when she realized she really didn't know what had happened to him when the dirigible had exploded. He could be hurt. Or worse…
"There you go again," she chided herself aloud, trying to fool herself with her casual tone and soothe her fear. "Roxton's fine. In fact, he's probably back at the treehouse right now, safe and sound, while I'm out here in the wild. Yes, that's probably exactly where he is. And when I don't return soon, he'll get worried and come out to find me. So the only question right now is whether I should stay here and wait for him, or try to make my way back to the treehouse on my own."
The sound of a Raptor shrieking in the distance decided it for her. "I'll just start on my way back," she whispered. "I'll probably run into the others on the way." And picking a direction at random, she started off at a quick pace, anxious to return to the treehouse and her companions.
Hours later, Marguerite dropped down onto a log, absolutely exhausted. "This is just getting me nowhere fast," she muttered to herself. Her body hurt, her feet were sore, and her head was beginning to pound. "Maybe I should just wait for them to come and find me," she said to herself. She knew she should keep walking – she certainly didn't want to be alone in the jungle at night – but she was so tired, and her headache was getting to be quite painful.
The sound of a twig snapping nearby caught her attention, and she quickly rose to her feet, her exhaustion and headache temporarily forgotten. Quickly scanning the ground around her, she spotted a heavy branch lying on the ground nearby. She snatched it up and waited for the approaching creature to show itself, her entire body tense and ready to attack.
A moment later her shoulders sagged in relief as the branches in front of her parted to reveal Challenger. "Challenger!" she cried. "Oh, am I ever glad to see you. I've been trying to find my way back to the treehouse for hours, but I feel like all I've been doing is wandering in circles. Have you found any of the others?"
Challenger looked up at her blankly for a moment, then returned his attention to the ground. "Have you seen it?" he asked her. "I can't find it! I know it was here, and I must find it!"
"Challenger, what on earth are you talking about?" Marguerite asked. "Come on, stop fooling around. We need to find the others and get back to the treehouse." She moved to take his arm, but he yanked it away.
"Get away from me," he hissed, glaring fiercely at her. "You're not what I'm looking for. You're not what's important. You're only in my way."
"Challenger, you're not making any sense," Marguerite said, reaching for his arm again.
"Out of my way!" he bellowed at her. He shoved her aside, knocking her to the ground, and raced off into the jungle.
Marguerite rose to her feet painfully, rubbing her elbow where she'd hit it against a tree stump. "Now what was that all about? Challenger!" she cried. "Challenger, stop! Come back! We need to find the way back to the treehouse!" She paused and listened, but there was no reply. "Dammit," she muttered to herself. "Looks like I'm on my own again." Sighing heavily, she brushed the dirt from her pants and continued on her way.
She had not been walking long when she came to a large clearing. Still holding the large branch she had found earlier, she cautiously made her way out of the cover of the jungle and into the clearing. She quickly scanned the area around her, but saw nothing that appeared to be threatening. About a hundred yards ahead of her, however, she saw a curious looking brown mound. Keeping her ears tuned for the slightest noise, she made her way towards the figure, her makeshift club poised to attack.
When she had almost reached the figure, she nearly dropped her club in relief when she realized what it was. "Ned!" She ran the final few feet to where Ned lay on the ground, his back to her, and dropped to her knees beside him. "Ned!" She shook his shoulder, but he remained motionless before her. "Ned, please wake up," she said, grabbing his shoulder and rolling him onto his back. She gasped and stood up, quickly backing away from the deathly pale figure of Ned Malone and the bright blue eyes that stared lifelessly up at her.
"Oh, God," she murmured, putting her hand to her mouth as she felt tears prick her eyes. "Oh, Ned, no." She crouched down next to him and tried desperately to find a heartbeat. Moments later, her hands dropped to her sides when what she had already known was confirmed. He was dead.
Brushing a hand over his eyelids, she gently closed his eyes. "Oh, Ned, I'm so sorry," she whispered. True, she and the young reporter had not always gotten along, but she had come to regard him as almost a younger brother.
Marguerite's tearful thoughts were cut off by an earthshaking roar. "T-Rex," she muttered to herself. "And it sounds close, too." She looked down at Ned's body and then to her left where she could already hear the T-Rex stomping through the jungle towards them. Taking a deep breath to steel herself, Marguerite knew what she had to do. "Ned, please forgive me," she said softly, swallowing against the taste of bile that rose in her throat. She rose to her feet and ran back to the jungle in the direction from which she had come. The direction opposite the T-Rex and its latest meal.
Guilt washed over Marguerite as she ran swiftly through the jungle, back the way she had come, so fast she wasn't even aware of her surroundings. Finally, she stopped to catch her breath, leaning against a tree for support.
She couldn't believe she'd just left Malone's body behind for dinosaur food. "What choice did I have?" she asked herself, trying to force herself to focus on the rationality of her decision. *He never would have left you behind,* a voice inside her head said harshly. *Neither would any of the others. Only you would have made such a cowardly, selfish choice.*
"I had to," she whispered to herself, tears beginning to slide down her face. "There was no other way." She slumped down against the tree, tears now streaming down her face. Veronica hadn't heard Marguerite calling her, Challenger had acted incredibly strangely, Malone was dead, Roxton was nowhere to be found, her head felt like it was about to split open, and she was lost in the middle of a prehistoric jungle with no earthly idea how to get home.
With a start, Marguerite realized that she was back in the place from which she had started when she had first regained consciousness. "Strange," she muttered to herself. "I'm not even going to ask what's next." As if on cue, she heard the sound of footsteps approaching. She hurriedly wiped her tears away and stood, leaning against the tree for support. "Show yourself!" she demanded shakily.
She gripped the tree trunk behind her as John Roxton came into view. "Roxton," she gasped.
"Marguerite, thank God," he said, moving swiftly forward and pulling her into his arms.
"Oh, God, John," she said, resting her head against his shoulder, tears once more falling from her eyes. "I thought I'd lost you. I'm completely lost and I saw Veronica, but she didn't see me, and then Challenger was so strange, and Malone's dead!" she finished, pulling back and looking up into his face in anguish.
His expression didn't change, however. "Shh, it'll be all right," he soothed. "Come on," he said, taking her hand. "We should get back."
"But Roxton, the others," she began.
"Shh," he said, placing a finger over her lips. "Don't worry. We should get back," he repeated.
"You know how?" Marguerite asked incredulously.
"Of course," he said, taking her hand. "Just follow me."
He began walking briskly and Marguerite hurried to keep up. After a while she realized they were heading toward the cliff where she had first spotted Veronica. "Roxton," she spoke up. "Are you certain this is the right way?"
"Of course I'm sure, Marguerite," he replied confidently. "Don't you trust me?"
"To find our way home? Of course," she told him, trying not to sound as nervous as she felt. They were quickly approaching the edge of the cliff. "But John-"
"Marguerite," he said as they reached the very edge of the cliff. "Trust me."
He turned around, her hand still firmly grasped in his, and started stepping backwards toward the edge of the cliff. Marguerite screamed when she saw that she was no longer looking at Roxton's face, but rather that of Captain Askwith.
Askwith smiled cruelly at her. "I told you there were only two ways off for you," he reminded her. "This time there will be no ladder and no Lord Roxton to save you. And this way off doesn't involve a parachute!"
He took a final step backwards off the edge of the cliff, pulling Marguerite with him. She screamed as she began to fall and closed her eyes tightly, waiting for the final moment of impact.
But it never came.
"Marguerite!" she heard a voice calling from far off. "Marguerite, can you hear me? Marguerite!"
Marguerite forced her eyes open and saw the worried face of Lord John Roxton before her. "No! Get away!" she cried, hitting him weakly in the shoulders before he caught her hands in his.
"Marguerite, shh, it's all right," Roxton soothed her. "You're just having a nightmare. It's okay. You're all right, shh, it's okay," he said, releasing her hands.
"What's happening?" Marguerite demanded, as she sat up. "Ohhh," she moaned, putting a hand to her head.
"Shh, take it easy," Roxton said, helping her to lie back down. "You've got a nasty bump on your head. Challenger, Veronica, Malone!" he cried, turning his attention from Marguerite for a moment. "She's awake!"
In seconds, Ned, Veronica, and Challenger were in Marguerite's bedroom around her bed.
"Welcome back," Ned said to her.
"We were starting to worry," Veronica said with a smile.
"You gave us quite a scare," Challenger added.
"What's happened?" Marguerite asked in confusion. "Veronica, I tried to call you, but you didn't hear me. Challenger, you acted like you didn't know me. And Ned, you were dead when I found you! And Roxton, you turned into Askwith and tried to pull me off of a cliff. What's going on here?" she demanded, awkwardly pulling herself into a sitting position.
"Marguerite, that was only a nightmare," Roxton said, taking her hand in his once more. "Askwith's gone, it's all right."
"But how? I don't understand," Marguerite said, putting her hand to her head once more.
Roxton turned to Challenger and the scientist cleared his throat. "Well, as far as I see it, we broke Askwith's curse on the dirigible," he said. "We refused to carry out the murderous existence of that thing by killing the other crew members. Therefore, we were able to escape the curse of the dirigible and were freed when it exploded. As for Askwith, however, I can't be certain what happened to him."
"But what happened when it exploded?" Marguerite asked. "I mean, how are we all all right?"
"I'm not exactly certain," Challenger admitted.
"When it exploded, we were all more or less cast out of the dirigible and onto the plateau," Veronica said. "Ned was a little distance from us," she added, clasping the reporter's hand tightly in her own, "because he and Askwith fell from the dirigible before it exploded. But we found him soon after we landed."
"You were right next to me when I opened my eyes," Roxton told her, warmth shining in his brown eyes. "But you had hit your head on a rock and were unconscious. You really scared me," he added, looking down at her tenderly.
Marguerite smiled at him and then closed her eyes a moment. When she opened them she looked at the four people standing before her. "I'm glad it was only a nightmare," she said softly. "And I'm glad you're all all right."
"It's good to have you back, Marguerite," Veronica said earnestly. The men agreed wholeheartedly.
Challenger checked Marguerite over and proclaimed her to be in good health. "All you need right now is a good night's sleep," he told her. "So we'll leave you now so you can get your rest."
The others bid Marguerite good night and left the room. Everyone but Roxton, that is. "Will you stay?" Marguerite asked Roxton. "At least until I fall asleep?"
Roxton smiled at her. "Of course I will," he said gently, still holding onto her hand. "Don't forget, I promised I'd never let you go."
Marguerite smiled back. "I'm glad," she whispered. She closed her eyes and in a few minutes was sound asleep.
Roxton, however, did not leave her side even then. "Goodnight, Marguerite," he whispered, leaning forward to softly kiss her forehead. Then he settled back in his bedside chair to keep watch over her far into the night.