The sweat rolled down his forehead, the smoke made it hard to breathe, and his hands shook as he looked down the barrel of the centurion. Soon, he knew it would be soon...and right on schedule he appeared through the door at the end of the hall, carrying the man that would ruin the world. Was this really the only way? Couldn't he just put a bullet in Demichev, set things back to the way they were supposed to be? Of course not, no matter how many times he shot the bastard, he always seemed to come back through some stroke of luck.
He was halfway down the hall now, making a good pace as hewove around flames and debris. Renko had known it would be hard to pull the trigger, even as he stepped through the portal, damning himself to death one way or the other. The memory of the man that had screamed out back when He had been him, carrying Demichev down that smoky hallway. The memory seemed to repeat in his head once more, the man screaming "Renko, Demichev must die!" right before the roof collapsed on his head. Back then he'd been too absorbed in saving the man on his back to recognize his own face...oh how things would be different if he had.
No time to reminsce, he had to focus now, the fate of many sat on his shoulders. He was drawing close now, Renko could make his face out through the smoke. His finger tightened on the trigger, tears rose in his eyes, maybe brought on by the smoke, but he knew better. Everything he'd gone through since crashing on this cursed island had caused fear to be ever present...but at least there was a chance he'd survive...doing this, Renko knew there was no way to escape death. He'd run out of time, all puns intended.
He was turning the corner now, barely a foot away, Renko could see Demichev swaying on his back. It was now or never. If he failed maybe he would finish the job properly...how many had there been before him? One? Two? Three? A hundred? How many Renkos had stood where he stood now, praying for another way out yet knowing there wasn't?
Will it hurt?
He looked down the barrel of the centurion once more, fighting the urge to yell out before he pulled the trigger and watched as he fell forward onto hisknees, Demichev slipping out of his hands onto the floor that was steadily being consumed by flames.
"I'm sorry-" everything went white as Renko ceased to exist.
And then there was Devlin and the sound of a helicopter. It was startling to just suddenly be sitting there, across from the man he'd seen murdered not more than a day ago...or was it from now? What exactly had just happened? His thoughts were cut short by a voice in his earpiece.
"Hammer two one, red fleet actual, you are now entering Katorgatwelve airspace." he turned his head to watch as the other helicopter veered to the left, drawing closer to the island before straightening out to keep parallel with the helicopter Renko and Devlin sat in.
He knew this scene...he'd lived it not so long ago. It worked...somehow killing Demichev had sent him back to before the EMP pulse had downed both helicopters, stranding Renko on the island of the damned the russians had code named Katorga 12. The EMP pulse! There he sat in the helicopter, same as that fateful night...would it happen again? Had killing Demichev only sent him back to the beginning of the story? Would he be cursed to relive the same two days over and over again, always ending it with the beginning?
"I don't know why they keep making us do this run." Devlin's voice cut through Renko's thoughts. "It's not like we ever see anything." Renko shrugged and Devlin turned to look back out of the side of the helicopter, at the island that was beautiful if viewed from a distance. "Military intelligence," Devlin snorted. "What a joke."
Renko nodded then turned to take in the view. If the EMP pulse hit, it would hit soon. He searched the island's shores, watching and waiting...until it caught his attention.
"What?" he nearly gasped as the helicopter sped past the massive statue of Viktor Barisov, wearing the little device that had saved Renko's life more than once, the TMD-Time Manipulation Device, on his wrist.
"I know," Devlin said, turning from the statue to Renko. "I never get tired of seeing that."
This was wrong, that statue...this was impossible! But was it? A few days ago time travel and mutated monsters had been impossible until he'd crash landed on an island where both were prevalent. Was anything else different? Was He any different? A quick inspection, which brought on an awkward look from Devlin, showed that there was nothing drastically altered. His skin color, his face (as far as he could feel) was the same as it had always been, save for the scar on his right forearm...that was new. A statue, a scar...what else had changed? Were his parents still his parents, did he still have a girlfriend? Where did he live now?
"Hammer two one," the voice in his ear knocked him out of his internal hysterics. "Hammer two one, false alarm. Repeat, false alarm." Renko and Devlin shared a questioning glance before the voice continued. "Your mission has been scrubbed, head on home."
Devlin smirked. "Ha, what'd i tell ya? There's never anything interesting here, right comrade?" the last two words were like a blow to the chest for Renko.
Maybe it was just a cheap joke? Being close to Russia and all that...maybe it was just Devlin being a smartass?
"You okay?" Devlin cocked an eyebrow as he noticed the concerned look on Renko's face. "Getting airsick?"
Renko started to shake his head then thought better of it and nodded. "Yeah." he grunted, putting a hand over his stomach. "That or breakfast." what was he supposed to do now? Barisov...what had he done? For some reason he was reminded of a message scrawled on a long forgotten wall. Don't trust Barisov. Who had written that message? Had...had this happened before too? Was he just another Renko that failed to set the timeline on the correct path? Was he going to end up writing that message? How many times had this happened now? How many more times would it happen?
"Red fleet, this is hammer two one." the voice cut Renko's thoughts short once again. "I'm picking up two bogies south of our position...is anyone else out here?"
"One moment hammer two one."
"Shit." Devlin sighed. "Maybe we're gonna see some action after all." he started checking his rifle and only now did Renko recognize it as a variation of the valkyrie. The design was a little more refined, the barrel a bit shorter, but it was definitely a valkyrie, the gun that had saved his life more than once.
"Hammer two one, we have nothing stationed out near your postion." red fleet responded.
"Orders?" the pilot flying the helicopter asked.
"That was what we were sent out here to do, wasn't it?" Devlin shook his head. "Probably the chinese."
"Why do you say that?" Renko asked, extremely curious to learn about the state of the world. While he didn't relish the thought of a russian controlled world...maybe it wouldn't be so bad? Perhaps Barisov had brought upon world peace? Who was to say the timeline he'd grown up in was the best one?
Devlin snorted. "You sure you're okay comrade? You're not looking so great-"
Renko waved the concern away. "Yeah yeah, now tell me why you think this is the Chinese."
"...because they've been looking for a way onto katorga twleve since before the war started," War? Well there goes world peace. "you of all people should know that." Devlin squinted and leaned forward. "Seriously, you're looking pale...you-" alarms stopped Devlin mid-sentence. "What the hell?"
Renko turned to look out of the helicopter, eyes widening. "Missile!" he yelled. "Brace for impact!" no...not again. If it wasn't an EMP pulse it was a missile...if not a missile, then what? An entire fleet of helicopters? A bird in the rotor? The pilot falling asleep? Was he damned to always crash?
"Shit!" Devlin yelled as the missile downed the other helicopter. "Who the hell is firing at us?" the missile lock alarm went off in their own helicopter. "No...oh no!"
"There are boats in the water." the pilot said calmly. "They're flying the stars and stripes." the helicopter veered sharply and Renko nearly fell out of the side, barely noticing as the missile flew past the helicopter's tail.
"American resistance...do they ever give up?" Devlin sneered. "How the hell did they get past our other patrols?"
"Red fleet, this is hammer two one, requesting assistance." the pilot radioed. "Red fleet, i repeat, this is-" the missile lock alarm sounded off again. "HANG ON!"
Renko could see the boats in the water now and the missile, rapidly growing closer. The helicopter veered sharply to the left once more and this time it was Devlin who nearly fell out.
"That was too close." Devlin snapped, gripping his seat tightly. "Get us out of here!" he yelled at the pilot. "Now!"
"Orders are to neutralize any-"
"Fuck orders, if we don't get out of here we're going to get shot out of the sky!" Renko snapped, the events of the last few days finally catching up to him. He was so tired...and he didn't relish the prospect of reliving the horror of Katorga twelve again, regardless of how the world had turned out.
The alarm sounded once more and once more the helicopter started to veer, but this time it wasn't enough and before Renko knew what was happening he was gasping for air and drawing nothing but lungfuls of water.