Exaudi orationem meam;

ad te omnis caro veniet.

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,

et lux perpetua luceat eis. ~ Requiem Aeternam

Spring, 1996 ~ Spain

The abduction had occurred at 8:16 AM. Ben noted the time on his watch with clinical detachment as three men grabbed him, pinned his arms, and placed a rough cloth hood over his head. His pockets were rifled, his baton confiscated, a small penknife tossed away. They did not speak when they threw their compliant captive into the back of the staunchly bland European auto, the faint click of firearm-safeties being the only audible warning Ben was granted. He remained still as the vehicle twisted through curving streets, out of the cramped Spanish village, and into the countryside.

Ben noted each sound the vehicle made as it passed over grates and unkept roadway. It might serve useful when he extricated himself. He held no doubts that he wouldn't escape. It was all according to plan.

After what he gauged was approximately thirty-eight minutes on the road, some of it doubled back and driven off-road in an earnest attempt to confuse the journey, the car pulled over. By the echoing sound of the doors, they had come to what was likely an old stone overpass in the countryside.

Ben was pulled out of the car and dropped unceremoniously to the cracking asphalt. He was on his side, one arm pinned underneath him and already dully hurting, the other used as a pressure point to keep him half-supine by one of the men. It was a left handed grasp, relying on balance and an overpowering position. A rustle of activity; the sounds of the other two men piling back into the car and peeling off. There was a long period of silence between captor and captive.

When the sound of the vehicle had completely faded, the man spoke. "You are to end your business here and go back where you came from. If you do not agree, you will die. There is no negotiation on this." The man's voice was clipped, carefully neutral. Ben recognized it immediately as a popular, if ineffective, method of disguising an accent's origin. He considered remarking on it, possibly even cheekily asking how the weather in London was this time of year, but let it go. He was wholly aware he was in for a bad morning and kept himself in silence.

"Very well. I will have to convince you." The man peeled away the black hood and Ben gave his captor a quick examination. Professionally unremarkable, off the rack clothes and ill-fitting jacket, a smoothly shaved head, and blank granite eyes. It was the face of a man who took his job very seriously, and believed he did it well. Ben allowed himself a moment of weary resignation, then began to steel himself for what was coming.

As the man's measured blows fell, Ben's thoughts slipped naturally into a fine monophonic rhythm. The pain became distant, dull, capable of doing little more than setting a tempo to his mind's internal pace. He watched the man's fist rise and fall with dispassionate interest -

Six-two, approximately one hundred and eighty pounds. Right handed, weak grip in his left, two rings between them, neither a wedding band, nor any sign of a missing one, cheap wristwatch (probably knockoff, recent New York travel? irrelevant). Can feel a slight bending in the left little finger that suggests prior fracture (file that as useful), impatient, probably a generalist brawler untrained in any specific fighting discipline...

A blow connected heavily against his cheek, and for a split second, a star rushed across his eyes and burned. He blinked involuntarily, sweat and blood dripping from his brow. His cheek felt as if scorched, and anger flared in him. His eyes fixated suddenly on the larger man. The man paused, rearing back slightly from the crystalline blue gaze, transfixed by the sensation of pure hate. And then it vanished, quick as it came. The eyes glazed over once more, emotion gone.

Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi.

The man grunted in frustration and struck out again, as if responding in self defense. Again. Time passed as the man hammered at Ben, striking his face, striking his body, his arm. Blood coursed from a cut along Ben's left temple.

Thirty-nine total blows. Grip lessening. (endurance weakening) Slipping fingers. Now.

"I won't speak more than this, so you'd better listen," said Ben. His tone was soft, possibly even amused, for all that his mouth filled with blood as he spoke. As expected, the man stopped and bent to glare into Ben's face.

"I hope it's to beg." The man's voice was pure gravel, the accent beginning to slip through. He shook Ben, his right hand moving towards his jacket, presumably for the gun that was there. Likely .32 caliber. Likely Glock. Ben had noted the holster earlier, a bulge vaguely disguised by a jacket chosen for the purpose. It would take about five seconds for the weapon to draw.

"Charles Widmore sent you to me to die. If you want a better outcome, walk away now."

The man laughed once in disbelief, his actions caught in a pause. Thusly distracted, the tension drained from the man's grip and Ben abruptly shifted his weight to free his pinned arm. His own hand snaked up and across his body to find the man's little finger. His thumb pressed against its bend and the rest of his grasp pulled. It snapped like brittle wood and the man opened his mouth to howl at the sudden injustice. Something clattered. Ben grabbed up and pulled down on his attacker's jaw with all the force of his prone weight. It dislocated with a horrible popping sound and now the man fell back, trying to scuttle away, weapon forgotten, his much smaller victim pulling himself upright with a grace that belied the abuse he had just endured.

The Englishman struggled back into balance and whirled on Ben, his jaw hung at an unnatural angle. He grabbed at his holster, then stared down at its emptiness. The gun had fallen free during the struggle.

It was like that, frozen in sudden terror, struck by the awful realization that Ben had done nothing more than tell him the truth, that bullets tore through his empty hands, his chest, and then his skull. Then there was nothing.

Ben dismantled the weapon in a handful of trained movements, beginning with the removal of the magazine clip, the ensurance that no bullet remained locked, and the snap-back of the slide. He littered the remains of his opponent's weapon through the sewer grates that marked either end of the stony, shadowed overpass. A car drove overhead, never to realize the miniature drama that had been enacted beneath it.

Benjamin Linus turned to leave, facing the route that he had been taken down. The road before him wound towards a gaudily bright horizon, the light inflicting a migraine on his already thoroughly abused skull. Ben ignored this pain as well, though he turned his head to spit a mouthful of fresh blood onto fresh spring grass. He thought of it as an offering for his unchosen home, that veiled and cursed island, with no small amount of dour humor coloring the notion. Blood and blood sacrifice.

How long would it be until this work was completed?

A shrike called in the distance. It sounded like mocking. It was the only answer he could expect.