- "We're not Stranded. We just lost radio contact."
- — Hugo, refusing to be classifed as a Stranded
Fallback to NoroaEdit
Shortly after the Hammer of Dawn counterattack, Hugo and fellow Gear Darrel were still fighting against the Locust on the island of Kaia. They linked up with a paramedic and found a boat, and decided to head to the island of Noroa. After arriving, the paramedic gave the government there a list of names of people killed by the Locust he had retrieved from the morgue in order to allow them to notify any family members on Noroa or Galangi. One of the people notified about dead relatives was Sgt. Bernadette Mataki, who traveled to Noroa to join Hugo and Darrel in defending the island.
- "We've really got to think about going, Bernie. We've had a good innings. Eight years. I bet there are whole regiments that didn't hold out that long."
- — Hugo to Bernie, about the possibity of leaving Noroa
For the next eight years, Hugo, Darrel, and Bernie defended Noroa from Locust attacks, but the population of the island was slowly killed or left the island until only fifteen civilians remained to defend. Hugo and the others established a hidden camp in the cliffs on the eastern shore of the island, and gathered as much supplies as they could. They were joined by Miku, a civilian turned Gear, who completed their four man squad. One day, they were out gathering supplies when they spotted a group of Locust attempting to loot a van and push it into one of their Emergence Holes. Hugo and Darrel took up flanking positions along the path the Locust were taking, while Bernie hid in a tree to snipe them and Miku moved around behind them. When Bernie sniped the lead Locust, Hugo and Darrel opened fire on the other Locust, cutting two of them down. Miku flushed the remaining three out, and one ran directly at Bernie. Hugo cut him, while Darrel and Miku took care of the other two. The one Miku had gotten was wounded, and Hugo headed to finish the Drone off, but Bernie told him to work with the others to gather supplies from the dead Locust. He found a COG radio receiver and earpiece on one of the Drones, and realized it was fairly new. Hugo showed it to the others, but Bernie told him to look at it later because they couldn't risk staying there much longer. When they got back to camp, the four Gears began going through their haul, and Hugo told Bernie that he thought it was time to leave Noroa. Bernie suggested they go to Galangi, but Hugo suggested they go out and find a large Stranded group to join. Bernie refused to deal with Stranded, and he asked her what she thought everyone there was. She told him he knew what she meant, and that Galangi was safe because of the volcanic ridge and deep abyssal trench separating it from the other islands. The others agreed, and Hugo turned his attention to the radio piece. He excitedly discovered that it was new, and had been recently manufactured. Hugo showed it to the others, but they said that it just meant the COG had briefly been making radios after he had left Kaia, and that even if it had been made in the past year, whoever had made it could be dead by now. Hugo reluctantly admitted they were right, and found he couldn't get the radio to work anyway.
- "Bernie, no. You'll never make it."
- — Hugo to Bernie, after she learned that Jacinto was still holding out halfway across the planet
Over the next three days, Hugo and the rest of the camp began packing up all their supplies into a ship that would take them to Galangi to join the fifteen hundred people already there. Jake, one of the sentries, spotted a boat coming up the bay near their camp, and alerted Hugo and the others. He and Bernie took up a position near the shoreline, and as the Stranded boat got closer, Hugo suggested to Bernie that the driver might be looking for sanctuary, but Bernie said that he could piss off. They headed down to the shore to meet the boat, and Bernie told the driver to go away, because Stranded weren't welcome there. The driver said he wasn't a pirate, and just wanted some fresh water for his tanks. Hugo told him to look at the rivers inland, but to be careful of Locust. The man then asked if they were Gears, and remarked that he had thought they had all gone back to Ephyra when Chairman Richard Prescott had issued the recall order. They were surprised, having not heard about the recall order, and the Stranded explained that Prescott had given everyone three days before the Hammer strike to get to the Jacinto Plateau. Bernie looked at Hugo, and he told her not to even think about it. She told him they had been recalled, and he said that it was eight years ago, and didn't matter anymore. She asked the Stranded for recent news, and he told them that Jacinto was still holding out with a bunch of Gears and civilians. Bernie thanked him for the information, and sent him to a safe spot to get some water. After he left, Hugo asked her if she was really thinking about going to Jacinto, and she told him that it had to be her unit, the 26th Royal Tyran Infantry, that was still holding out. Hugo told her that she would never make it, but she countered by asking him what he would do if he heard the Fifth Kaia was still operating somewhere. Darrel arrived and was annoyed that she was talking about finding her unit again, and Hugo gripped her shoulder, telling her that she was a sensible woman and he just didn't understand why she couldn't drop the idea of trying to go halfway around the world to find something that might not even be there. He reminded her she didn't do well with water, and that there was no way they could divert thousands of kilometers to drop her off on the mainland. Bernie told him she would take the day boat with the sail, and Hugo responded by telling her they were a squad, and that they had done well on Noroa saving and protecting who they could. She snapped and yelled back at him that she was 26th RTI, and she would rejoin her unit, causing him to back away in defeat. Hugo told her to calm down and take it easy, and she apologized, saying that the thought of her unit still fighting was all that had kept her sane. Hugo was hurt, and asked if they hadn't helped with that, and she told him they had, but as a fellow Gear, he had to understand the sense of loyalty to a unit. Hugo reluctantly agreed, and he and the others said their goodbyes to Bernie as she departed on her journey to the mainland, and they left for Galangi.