Giovanni remembered the jolt that had come, and the way the motion of time travel was unlike anything he had ever felt. Eyes closed, he imagined colors swirling, space imploding—he imagined it all, and then the ship slammed to a stop…or so he thought.
The notion that he was still on the ship vanished the second his nostrils took in the scent of jungle air, fresh from a recent rain. A damp back confirmed this, and when he opened his eyes he saw large leaves overhead, blocking out the moonlight. He wasn’t strapped into the time ship, he was lying on his back on the moist jungle floor.
Had it worked?
Groaning in pain, he pushed himself up and glanced around, hoping to spot Quinn or the others.
From what he could tell, he was alone in the jungle…nothing more. But as he stood and moved to the edge of the small hill he found himself on, he pushed leaves aside and caught his breath—the mountain where it had all started, where he had been with Quinn, Milo, and the others, was right in front of him, completely intact. Lights shone from where Marines were at work, preparing the defense. The Syndicate had destroyed all that, which meant they had gone back to nearly a year before, to the days before the invasion.
Why now? Why here?
None of it made sense, but he figured he had to be here, and at this moment in time, for a reason. Instead of just standing there making his brain hurt, he worked his way down the hill and started toward the mountain. At first it was slow and calculated, searching for the others who had been on the time ship with him. If he was here, they had to be too, right? A sudden realization hit him that he had no idea how the time ship really worked—none of them did. His throat caught and his mouth went dry at the idea of him being out here all alone. No Quinn…No Luke.
He couldn’t take it anymore, and pausing to ensure he saw no enemy around, began calling out for the others in a muted shout.
“Quinn?” he hissed as he slid partly down the hill, catching himself on a tall palm, which cut his hand.
“Dammit, Cody? Milo?” He kept on, pulling his hand up to suck at the blood before realizing he was doing it. A glance down at himself showed that he was wearing black fatigues and boots, so he used his undershirt to wipe away the rest of the blood.
He could never really stand Milo, but at this moment, hell, he’d even be happy to see that son of a bitch.
It wasn’t the people on the time ship he was looking for, he reminded himself, but the Marines who had been with him on the day of the invasion. This had to be that day, because he didn’t think that sort of activity would’ve been going on at the mountain before that. Stocking it up and preparing the defenses, sure, but nothing like what he was seeing right now.
If that was true though, he realized as he thought back to that day, he and the crew wouldn’t arrive yet. They would still be out at that ridge, Quinn giving her impassioned speech while the Gunny watched like a little bitch. That had always bothered Giovanni—the fact that the Gunny let Quinn take charge so often. If it had been about training her or something like that, he could buy it. But he didn’t think it was that at all. Everyone knew how the Gunny’s wife had been back before the invasion. They knew she was sleeping around, screwing two other Marines, and they all knew that he knew.
So when it came to women and authority, the Gunny just got walked all over. At least, that was Giovanni’s opinion of it. Women were cool in his book, but they were just the same as any other Marine. Treat them with respect for who they are, not what they have between their legs.
Of course, he couldn’t say he was so strong when it came to Luke. Part of him screamed out that everything between them had happened because the man was so perfect. A perfect soldier, a perfect lover. All of it.
But another part of him, a niggling voice in the back of his head, said that maybe he had put the man on a pedestal just as the Gunny did to every hot pair of tits that came his way.
With a sigh of exhaustion mixed with frustration, Giovanni lowered himself over a small cliff. The drop was longer than he’d anticipated, so he had to roll with the decline and catch himself with a foot planted against a tall tree to break the impact. The resulting jolt sent a shot of pain up his leg, and when he tried to stand he realized he had twisted his ankle at an odd angle. Though it hurt when he tried rotating it, he was fairly certain it wasn’t sprained.
What a piece of work he was, he thought as he limped forward, bloodied hand pressed tight to his undershirt.
Gunfire sounded in the distance and he froze. That wasn’t right. If this was the night before the invasion, who the hell would be firing? It had to be practice, he told himself and continued on.
A second later, more gunfire, then an explosion lit up the night and he could hear men and women shouting. Not far off in the jungle, a full assault was in progress. His guess, based on the direction of the sounds and the way it was moving, was that their target was the mountain base.
How the hell could this have happened without him hearing about it? Unless…it was someone he had traveled back in time with? He had to admit that he didn’t know everyone who had been on the time ship. Interacted with at some point, sure, maybe. But know them?
It wouldn’t be out of this world to consider the possibility that someone had sent them here for the express purpose of rallying up the resistance to take the mountain.
Or maybe he was witnessing the events that had led the resistance to take over the tunnels as they had that day? That little fact still bothered him to this day.
But regardless of all that, he couldn’t fathom how he wouldn’t have heard about it, so he figured this had to be one of his time-traveling companion’s doing.
Was that how time travel worked? Maybe when you go back and change things they start to make sense second time around?
He scoffed at himself, wondering how the hell he could ever even begin to comprehend time travel. It wouldn’t happen, so he shook it off and moved on. The best he could do now was figure out what was happening, and either support it or put a stop to it, depending on which side made the most sense.
If this was the resistance…well, knowing how that would go and that he would actually become a member of them and meet Luke during that time, he couldn’t exactly go in there and kill them all off like a damn ninja.
But he wouldn’t attack his fellow Marines either…so he was in a bit of a quandary.
Just get in there and save as many lives as possible, without getting killed in the process, he told himself. That made the most sense.
So he ducked down, making sure he kept a low profile in the night as he ran toward the action. He was almost there, he figured, when someone plowed into him. The man’s face was covered in dirt, blood on one side, and his eyes wild as he threw Giovanni back, reached for the closest rock and paused with it held in the sky, about to bring it down hard.
His war-cry was cut short though, as he blinked, looking at Giovanni.
“Gio?” the man said, tilting his head. “Holy shit, I thought we’d lost you.”
Then it hit him—the hair was different, the dirt and blood like a thick mask, but underneath all that, this was definitely Luke staring back at him. Tossing the rock aside, Luke fell down on top of Giovanni, cradling him, kissing his cheek, then his lips, and then pulling back as gunfire sounded not far off.
“Come on, they caught us trying to infiltrate their hideout,” Luke said, standing and pulling Giovanni by the hand. “We have to move, pronto!”
Giovanni ran along, questions spinning in his mind. Whose hideout? The Marines? The resistance? If he had his timing right, Luke wouldn’t have known him yet, and still would have been a resistance fighter who hated the Marines.
So what was this?
They made it to a clearing and then hesitated, glancing back. Luke’s eyes penetrated Giovanni, his stare so hard it was likely to shoot right through him.
“How the fuck did you survive that?” Luke finally asked. “I mean, I saw them shooting, I went for you, and then the explosion.” He shook his head in bewilderment.
“Lucky, I guess,” Giovanni replied, unable to think of any other way through this. “What’s the next move?”
“We have to reconnect with home base and teach those sons of bitches a lesson.”
FROM JUSTIN >>> There it is – Gio is back! If you don’t know what I mean, he’s a character from the Syndicate Wars series. Here he goes through a time loop, so it’s a bit different. Here’s what we wrote for the intro to this series:
In the not too distant future, an alien empire called the Syndicate has invaded Earth. After the armies of the world are quickly destroyed, a ragtag resistance comprised of Marines and insurgents rises up to overthrow the invaders and save humanity.
With their superior technology and ability to manipulate time, the Syndicate has so far been able to keep the resistance in check, but the stakes are raised when the insurgents hijack an alien time ship.
When the mechanism that allows for time travel is triggered, however, the resistance fighters find themselves thrust into a maelstrom of infinite time loops and possibilities.
The stories that follow are what they experience when the fabric of time is ripped wide open.
I hope that gives you an idea of what this is and where it fits, and I hope you liked it and want more! If so, it’s only $0.99 and available on KU. No excuses right?