21. Chapter Fifteen: Armageddon (Cont - 2)
It felt like someone had emptied a bucket of cold water over him.
For an instant, Major Andrei Nikolaevich did not know where he was. He stared at his fingers, poised upon the activation key in readiness to begin the launch sequence that would send the entire complement of thirty Class 204 SS-18s ICBMs to multiple targets across the globe from the Aleysk base. Beijing, Shanghai, London, Paris, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Geneva, Berlin, Singapore and Sydney, the targets named themselves in his head like the memory of a bad dream that would not fade away with awakening. Every missile had been assigned a target and to his growing horror, Andrei realized how close he had come to launching all of them on an unsuspecting world.
A kaleidoscope of images swirled around his head as the memory of the past few hours returned to him with every terrible detail intact. Nothing was spared him as he saw himself embark upon a course that would have made him nothing less than the worst mass murderer in history and for the life of him, he could not understand why. There was some residue of being wronged left in his mind, a sense that he had been angry for something that should not have driven him to this present situation. He could deny resenting his banishment to the Aleysk base when he should have been in Moscow but Andrei was a soldier first and foremost. He knew and had always believed that no matter how much he disagreed with the present regime, his duty to his country came first, not any selfish desires provoked by ambition.
He loved his wife and his family who lived in Moscow and would suffer dearly for the crime he had almost committed. If his actions did not precipitate a full-scale nuclear strike from either the Americans or the Chinese and doomed his family to death, they would have suffered no better a fate at the hands of Russian authorities once his culpability was discovered. Tears ran down his face when he realized that he could have been responsible for the death of his wife whom he loved more than anything in the world. He had been willing to endure the Aleysk posting so that he could keep her in the manner to which she was accustomed.
In a daze, he removed his hand from the key and looked around him to see the bodies of the men he had killed for no good reason, simply because they stood between him and his insane goal to bring about nuclear Armageddon. He had murdered them. Men, he had served with, with whom he had shared coffee with in the mess, who had looked to him for leadership and guidance. He had killed them without even knowing why.
A sob threatened to escape him but Andrei was too proud for that. He stifled it with a thick swallow and then noticed the light flashing on the telephone near him. Blinking back the tears, he picked up the gun he had used to murder his comrades while at the same time answering the phone. Holding the receiver to his ear, he listened almost numb, as a superior demanded to know what he was doing and more importantly, why he was embarking upon this course to destroy the world.
"I don’t know," he answered vaguely, unable to say much else and it was the truth, he did not know. He did not know what madness had driven him to this moment, he wished he did because at least then he would know why this had happened to him.
"I am sorry," he said softly, no longer listening to the voice on the other end of the receiver as he reached into his pocket after cradling the gun on his lap. Removing his wallet, he flipped it open with one hand and saw his wife smiling back at him, her eyes filled with love. His own spilled with tears as he kept his gaze upon that picture taken some years before and reached for the gun once again. It was ironic that the only trace of comfort in this installation was came from the cold steel of a gun rather than the picture of his wife.
"Please tell Elena that I love her and I am sorry," he said blinking once more and causing an errant tear to roll down his cheek.
Then without another word, Major Andrei Nikolaevich of the Army of the Russian Federation promptly blew out his brains across the console.
"I've got a pulse!" Aaron announced to everyone after the labours of his resuscitation efforts on David Saeran began to show fruit.
He had injected the man with an adrenaline needle and then went through the motions of CPR and every other procedure he could think of that would ensure that Saeran's heart started beating again. For a moment, Aaron had thought that they had left it too late, that Saeran was too far across the threshold to keep his death from becoming a permanent one but after minutes of using every skill at his disposal, he had managed to coax that elusive heartbeat out of Saeran's clinically dead heart.
"Gandalf!" Haldir said with concern when the old man collapsed to the floor next to them. Of all of them in present company, only Haldir had some sense of the titanic battle Gandalf had fought to keep Sauron contained within his human husk after his heart had stopped beating. The wizard fell on the floor, his body slack with exhaustion as Haldir went to his side.
"Is he alright?" Aaron asked, not able to leave Saeran just yet.
"Yes, yes," Haldir nodded as he made Gandalf comfortable," he is merely weary after his struggle with Sauron."
Gandalf was still coherent enough to speak and muttered softly, "Did it succeed?"
"He's breathing," Aaron answered meeting the old man's eyes briefly before examining Saeran once more. "His left pupil is still dilated. That's an indication of brain damage."
"How long will he stay like this?" Bryan asked as Aaron returned to his comatose patient. Saeran's eyes had opened during the resuscitation procedure in a purely reflective gesture but they saw nothing. Considering how this man had almost killed all of them and brought the world to a fiery end, his harmlessness was disconcerting.
"If he is an persistent vegetative state and depending on the severity of the brain damage, it’s hard to say. I'm hoping months at least, that way we can get him back to Valinor and the Valar can deal with him themselves," Aaron answered.
"Look this is all very well and good," Eve declared wrinkling her nose at the scent of thickening smoke. "But we need to get out of here. Leggy needs a hospital and this place is already going up like a roman candle."
"She's right," Aaron agreed while flinching at the use of her hated nickname Legolas, staring at Saeran's unconscious form and knew that he would need more sophisticated equipment. "I want Legolas in a hospital as soon as possible."
"What about Saeran's pawns?" Tory asked. "Can they still go through with his plans?"
"No," Gandalf shook his head, managing to sit up now without Haldir’s assistance. "Whatever hold Sauron had upon them is over. He can no more influence them than he can escape his prison."
"So he’s in there?" Tory asked, shuddering as she saw the catatonic expression on the dark lord’s face.
"For as long as we can keep him there," Aaron replied grimly.
"Well let’s get a move on then," Bryan said rising to his feet, eager to get out of this place. He had no more than straightened up when suddenly, a series of gunshots were heard and two bullets were pumped into his body.
"BRYAN!" Tory shouted in horror as she saw him go down.
The expression on his face was one of surprise as he slumped to the floor, a sickly patch of wet expanding across his chest through his clothes. His collapse preceded a sharp squeal of despair from Fred, who immediately scrambled to his side.
The shot had come from behind the raised platform where Saeran’s throne had been and standing there, with a gun in her hand, after everyone had forgotten her was Irina Sadko. The weapon was still trained on them and though Eve swung into action, targeting the woman with just as much ruthless efficiency as she had gunned down Bryan. Aaron, Haldir, Tory and Gandalf remained frozen for the moment, unwilling to act even though Aaron was fighting the compulsion to go to Bryan. While Irina might permit Tory to move without firing again, he doubted that she would grant him the same courtesy.
"Step away from him!" Irina ordered, waving the gun at Aaron. "You’re not taking him anywhere!"
"We’re not leaving him behind," Aaron replied, his jaw clenching because he really wanted to hurt her right this moment. "He goes back with us!"
"You have larger concerns then David at this moment," Irina hissed glancing at Bryan’s prone form. "I am a doctor as well and I know for a fact that you have an hour maybe less to get that English bastard to a hospital before he dies. A life for life Doctor Stone, you leave David here or you can let your friend bleed all over the floor."
"You will do nothing of the kind," Gandalf stepped forward hoping he could trick her. In truth, he was very weak after his battle with Sauron and a bluff was as much as he could manage.
"What will you?" Irina glared at him. "You think you have power enough to stop me from shooting, say her?" She aimed her gun at Fred, "after fighting David? The only reason you’re still alive if because your friends managed to trap him before he could finish you."
"You’d kill a little girl?" Tory asked, unable to believe how insane this woman was.
"She’s not a little girl," Irina hissed glaring at Fred. "She’s the Ringbearer and killing her is the least I could do for David. Now step away from him!" She shouted.
Aaron had no choice but to step away from Saeran, unwilling to risk Irina shooting Fred as callously as she had done to Bryan. He was thinking furiously as to how to resolve this situation since leaving Saeran here was not an option under any circumstances when suddenly an arrow sailed through the air and slammed into the woman’s wrist. Irina released an agonized scream as the shaft impaled her flesh, the gun falling harmlessly to the ground.
"I think not," Legolas Greenleaf said wearily, lowering the bow in his hand as he sunk to his knees.
"That was a most impressive shot," Haldir commented as he hurried towards the prince.
"Terrible actually," Legolas returned wincing in pain, "I was going to kill her."
Tory hurried towards Bryan as soon as Irina had been dealt with. Fred was at Bryan’s side, weeping, probably convinced that like her parents, Bryan was dead. Tory felt her insides hollow at the thought and when she saw the terrible wounds across his body, it took all her strength not to crumble completely. His clothes were saturated with blood and he was breathing hard, panting almost as he struggled to draw breath. He was not going to die, Tory told herself as she skidded to the floor next to him, refusing to accept it. Not now. Not after they had come so far together.
"Bryan!" Tory knelt down beside him and tried to remain composed. She pulled his head gently into her lap, not carrying that her clothes were becoming equally damp with his blood. He was starting to drift and the thought that he may never open his eyes again, filled Tory with cold fear.
"Stay with me Bryan," she ordered through gritted teeth, jarring him out of his near lapse into unconsciousness.
"I’m fine," his eyes fluttered open as Aaron reached them both and muttered in a barely audible voice, "its just a flesh wound."
Tory almost laughed but instead it escaped her as a sob, "how can you joke at a time like this?" She exclaimed in frustration, trying hard not to cry. "You always think you’re invincible but you’re not! You have people who care about you! People who love you!"
"I’m not dead yet," he raised his head weakly to look at her and then at Aaron who was going through the process of stabilizing him before he went into shock, "I’m just shot to bloody hell. It’s happened before you know?"
"Well its not all right!" she burst out, her effort at control wavering, "I love you, you twit! I love you and Fred loves you. We need you Bryan. We need you in one piece. So you keep your eyes open and stay with me."
"I really can’t go anywhere like this," he met her gaze with the barest hint of smirk across his face.
Well, Aaron thought silently as he worked to keep his friend alive, if Bryan did die, it would be utterly in character.
But somehow, Aaron did think he would. Irina Sadko had not lied when she claimed the wounds she inflicted upon him were not fatal. They were perilous indeed and without swift medical attention, he would die but Aaron was not about to let that happen. Bryan was too stubborn to shirk off the mortal coil without a fight and Galadriel’s riddle had been right about one thing.
After a hundred thousand years, Boromir of Gondor was finally found redemption.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.