To save a village, sometimes you must destroy a village.
I was sick and I knew it. That was the point. I walked, almost stumbling, through the time portal. I emerged into a world mine would never truly know. It was not the virgin forests and unadulterated environment many thought.
Man had never lived in harmony with nature. Not now, not in my time, not ever. That forced change upon the environment even predated our particular species of human: Homo erectus had been burning the forests of Africa to make more savanna and open woodlands over a million years before modern humanity emerged.
There were forests here. They were more like tree farms, almost orchards, near the villages and wiped clean near the cities. Pristine. I snorted. It was anything but. Had I been in the Yucatan during the Classic Period Maya, there wouldn't have been any forest. Everything from my time was secondary forest, regrown from the multiple collapses of the civilizations there.
There had only been one collapse here. One before the rise of its occupiers from my time. Those who were my bane, my people's bane.
I might be sick, but I was bringing goods. Goods to spread what was necessary, what was evil, but right. Tools and even some blankets. I would be damned for my actions, but would save a world, prevent another and end my people's great enemy before it could be conceived.
I looked down, my pack very heavily laden, near stumbling with my illness and saw Cahokia. It was the hub of trade in North America in 1347. Its tendrils of commerce reached from California to New York, down the Mississippi to MesoAmerica. An epidemic started here would flare like wildfire up and down and across the New World.
It would be genocidal. It would be terrible. There would be the postapocalyptic societies, collapsed and devastated and horribly poor when Columbus would show up almost a century and a half later. There would be no Aztecs, no signs of the great Maya, my cold would see to that. No Spanish Empire. And...no America.
And I would be the greatest Russian to have ever lived. And I would have my vengeance.
I made my way down to the city and received gawking stares. Once I was in the town, I dropped my heavy pack. I all but collapsed, vomiting onto the street, I had the flu too. good. I stood again, swaying and sneezed.
And it was the sneeze heard round the world. And echoed in time.