Anchors No More # 42: A Measure of SatisfactionNov 3, 2014
From the moment he saw Daniel take a bullet in the gut, Restrepo knew they would not be getting out of the ARCC alive.
To be fair, he had assumed as much from the very beginning, from the moment he cut a hole in the perimeter fence and crawled through it he had the feeling he would not be leaving the building with either life or limb intact. Still, there was that vague hope, that slight dream, that one chance that somehow they would succeed, their ruse would work and one way or another he would send Doctors Neff and Marshall back into the past and Restrepo himself would lead the charge for the gate, breaking most, if not all, of the Ankura Group out into the night to disappear without a trace. But then came the blinding smoke, the bullet in Daniel’s stomach, the footsteps charging down stairs.
From his position beside the staircase, Restrepo watched as James struggled with Vanderhoff, the two men rolling on the floor, gouging at one another’s faces and fighting for some upper hand. Restrepo wanted to help but he couldn’t, he had other problems. He shot at the legs of ARLIS men moving down the stairs under the cover of the thick greyish smoke. Mike was beside him, firing at will as their adversaries pushed nearer.
Steven was firing his rifle in bursts, dodging to the sides as bullets ripped past him, as the stairwell flooded with more men. Restrepo saw Steven try to throw the smoke grenade back upstairs but failed. Smoke continued to pour from the canister, blinding Steven, causing him to stumble back, firing his rifle towards the stairs. Steven shouted, “I can’t… there’s too fucking many…” before he was filled with bullets and slammed against the wall where he left a bloody smear as he slunk down dead.
“God dammit,” Restrepo muttered, stepping closer to where Steven had just fallen. He could see nothing in the smoke, he could hear nothing except the sounds of gunfire and screaming, “Hold here,” he said to Mike, “Just hold ‘em back, keep them away from the machine until we know Marshall and Neff are gone.” Mike didn’t answer, he just shot, hitting an ARLIS man in the leg and watching him fall down the stairs.
Restrepo stepped forward again, getting a better angle on the stairs, feeling the crush of men moving into the room. He shot once, twice, “Get in the god dammed machine,” he yelled out, hoping Holly and Gary realized the clock had officially stopped ticking and they were now operating only on borrowed time.
From the corner of his eye, Restrepo saw a movement, he looked quickly and saw James raise his fists in the air, stunned by the savage victory he had apparently achieved. But another movement caught his attention, a large blur hurling down the shrouded stairs. “Look out,” Restrepo screamed to James but it was useless, the group of charging soldiers opened fire, James dropped over, Restrepo and Mike killed their enemies and the mayhem increased.
The scientists they had been holding captive were panicked and running about, bodies and movement everywhere. Restrepo saw the basement was lost, two soldiers then three then four, the ten, making it down the stairs into the smoky room, opening fire at anything that moved. Restrepo walked backwards, shooting, always shooting, knowing his clip would be empty again soon. He saw Mike standing his ground, he killed one ARLIS man and then another, but then his clip ran empty as five more men took the dead soldiers’ places.
Mike tried to quickly change the clip but there was no time, a soldier shot him, knocked him back a little. Mike’s tactics changed. He used the gun as a club, pounding at skulls, and as a bat, swinging at faces. It was not enough and he was shot half a dozen times, dead before he hit the floor hard.
Restrepo saw the soldiers swarming and knew there was nothing he could do. He kept shooting, walking back, ignoring the burning in his arm where he assumed he had been shot. Just get to the machine, he thought, just get there. He dropped to one knee, fired twice and glanced back at the temporal device. He saw Gary shutting the door behind him, he saw Holly dashing to the control matrix panel. They’re doing it, he thought, it’s not all for nothing, they are going to do it. He turned back and fired his gun, again, again, click, click. Empty.
ARLIS men filled the basement now, everywhere riot-gear covered bodies with rifles raised and shooting. Restrepo saw a rifle pointing at Holly and he leapt at the man holding it, knocking into him just as he shot. With no time to check if his adversary found his mark, Restrepo just punched, he hit, he flailed as other men closed around him, pulling him off, flinging him to the hard concrete.
Before the hail of bullets tore through his heart and brain, Restrepo had a second to tilt his head back. He did not see Holly, he could not find her through the mayhem, but he did see a bright light burst from the small window of the temporal device. Whatever may come, Sebastian Restrepo knew he had completed his mission and that fact did bring him some small, albeit brief, measure of satisfaction.
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.