This is the entire (Another) Doom Story, well, story. While reading through the whole story during my proof-reading process (which I should have done earlier--sorry), I noticed several errors and chronological inconcistencies. So I opted to re-release the whole tale as a sort of "director's cut," just in case you want an edited version, or you don't want to click on the five separate (Another)Doom Story threads. As always, please give me your comments and concerns. No criticism is bad criticism in my book. Here goes:
(Another) Doom Story pts. 1-4
"Alright ladies, five minutes until drop!" Lieutenant McPherson barked over the loud, low hum of the dropship's engines, looking back at us from the cockpit. The red warning lights in our little transport compartment made it look like his face was drenched in blood.
He noticed me staring at him, and yelled to all of us, "Stay frosty! That means you, Wiliamson!"
PFC Harold Wiliamson. That's me. My friends call me Harry. I was trained at Pendleton, 34th Drop Infantry, USDM--the Drop Marines. Baptism of fire in Israel, during the 2037 Afghan--Palestinian conflict. Got a Purple Heart taking a bullet for my idiot CO.
Got it? I like to keep introductions short.
I looked out the window at the red landscape of Phobos flying past us, like a river going at mach .5.
Craters dotted the landscape, sharp mountains jutted out in the distance, spikes reaching uselessly out in hopes of piercing the crimson sky. All of Phobos was red.
I thought it was beautiful.
The guy to the right of me--a pal of mine, Private Jared Stevens--poked my shoulder as he caught me staring out the portal.
"I thought butter bars told us to keep frosty," he told me in that irritating New Yorker accent of his.
"Butter bars can bite me," I replied curtly. He and some of the others chuckled.
I settled back in the small, uncomfortable bench on which five of us were crowded. Something, somewhere on my body itched. Stupid space-suit.
After the chuckling subsided, my comrades around me engaged in hushed conversation with one another, speculating on our mission and what we would have to do. A couple of Privates in front of me guessed it was some sort of police action, another two supposed it was more training. I didn't care what it was, just as long as I didn't have to do it in the cramped quarters of the dropship. I hate cramped spaces.
Again I looked longingly out the window at the red, flat plain, briefly noticing scattered rock formations and small basins as they flowed away behind us. Red.
Plenty of red.
I wanted to get out there.
A little info on Phobos, and its sister moon Deimos: They're Mars' two moons. Back in 2042, the Union Aerospace Corporation, or UAC, as they print on their ads, established scientific outposts on both moons, looking for water or studying rock or some boring science-type shit like that. During construction of the two bases, the UAC found three strange, alien structures, one on Phobos, two on Diemos. All three structures had markings on them that bore no similarity to any writing on Earth. Initial experimentation with the structures found that they were wormhole generators of sorts, at least two of them. They hadn't messed with the third one, last I heard. The two generators that UAC activated connected the two moons, giving them the ability to send materials, people, whatever, to the other moon, without having to use spacecraft. They were planning to reverse-engineer the two generators so they could use them on Earth. That's all this ignorant marine was told about it. My guess is that there was some secret government project going on in the bowels of the bases, but that's just me.
The loudspeaker system sparked to booming, ear-splitting life. McPherson's voice came through, unfortunately, giving everybody a pounding headache as he spoke. We toughed it, though; we had to listen to the briefing, and on top of that, we were Drop Marines, dammit! We were supposed to be able to withstand this kind of punishment to our ears.
"Okay, marines, we have a very unusual situation on our hands. We have lost contact with both our Phobos and our Deimos bases, both at the same time and with the same abruptness. The Phobos outpost will be investigated first, and once we find out what the problem is, the Deimos outpost will be investigated afterward, if we need to. We are not--repeat not--on high alert this mission, so do not shoot to kill until you have determined whether or not there is a hostile presence. If you shoot a UAC employee without proper clearance from the commanding officer, you damn well better expect a court martial! Your unit will be dropped off at the south end of the base, farthest away from the wormhole generator. A second unit, The 25th Drop Infantry, will be dropped on the north end, nearest the generator. Your two teams will radio in status reports every ten minutes until we have discovered the problem and solved it. Corporal Peterson will be in command for this mission." We all looked at Peterson, who was closest to the cockpit door. He met our gazes with a quiet dignity--just like a regular officer-school pukehead. I didn't like him much.
"Good luck, and don't kill anybody if you don't have to."
To everyone's pleasure, butter bars stopped talking and switched off the radio. I took my hands off my ears, and said to Private Stevens,
"Sounds easy enough."
"Famous last words," Stevens replied, smirking.
I punched him in the shoulder as the warning siren started blaring, signaling for us to get ready for drop. My unit and I stood up, getting on our military-grade drop jets, which would carry us down to the surface. The dropship slowed down to about 75 kilometers per hour, giving us just enough time to drop.
I strapped and switched my jets on as the deployment hatch in the back of the dropship slowly opened, revealing the moon's crimson surface about twenty meters below us.
The first troops jumped out of the ship seconds later, the sound of their roaring jets fading away below us. A second batch jumped. Then a third. A fourth. Then it was our turn. Stevens and I jumped out at 75 kilometers an hour, and descended gracefully toward the ground.
It's cold on Phobos. Though I didn't feel the freezing temperatures on my skin, my suit's thermometer read an extremely cold -13 degrees Celsius. One would most definitely not want to get caught outside a properly heated area on Phobos without a Space Suit. It would prove rather fatal, not only because it's damn cold on Phobos, but also because there is no oxygen on Phobos' surface, and that proves itself a difficulty as well. But, fortunately, we had our suits on and running, and my squad and I started heading north, toward the southern airlock of Phobos Base.
There was no cause of alarm when we reached the entrance to the base. Everything seemed normal, except the usual, deafening sound of mining machinery was absent. Maybe everybody had a day off. But we still had to be cautious in making our slow way towards the main airlock.
The red dust of Phobos was kicked up by our jets as we landed, and hung for a few minutes in the low gravity. I tried get my bearings, looking towards the base's yellow security lights through the dust.
As we were lost in the red dust cloud, Peterson started issuing orders, putting soldiers into small teams and telling us when and what to shoot if it ever came to that.
"LeTroi, Betz, and uh….Nguyen. You three take the point. The rest of you pair up. Roland, you're with me. Williamson and Stevens. You two are a pair. Kosky, you and……"
I tuned him out as I sought Private Stevens out in the lingering cloud. I finally found him close by, and we joined the rest of the group as the dust settled. We headed towards the airlock.
Nothing seemed amiss as Nguyen punched in the entrance codes. We waited patiently as Nguyen punched the keys for a minute, then spoke up.
"That's weird, the doors are locked. The thing here says we need level six security clearance to get in, but we have level ten security clearance. Maybe it's just a bug in the system, but to get in, we'll need to either bypass the system, which requires special equipment, or blast through with charges, which we have. I still can't make contact with anybody on the inside. There's too much interference, though from what I'm not sure."
The corporal stood there for a second, lost in thought, probably considering what other options we had like a good little soldier. Finding no alternatives, he ordered the squad to stand back and the demo expert, yours truly, forward to set the charges that would surely make a dent in UAC's nice little airlock door. I pulled two C4 charges out of my little space-pack and stuck them on the large door. I put the detonator plugs in them and walked backward, unwrapping the cord from the detonator as I went. The squad stepped back with me. When the cord was fully unwrapped we were about seven meters away from the door. I turned back to the squad to explain what to do once the doors were blown.
"Once the shrapnel and stuff stops flying, we're going to need to act quickly to get inside. The computers are going to detect the breach in the walls and start to close the auxiliary blast doors. This won't happen immediately, but we'll have to act quickly regardless. Once we're in, though, there shouldn't be much of a problem--other than what's inside."
No one had any questions. Grinning in satisfaction and anticipation of the coming fireworks, I turned towards the door.
I pushed the button.
The sound was muffled because we were wearing our helmets, but it was enough. We were deafened by the blast, and nearly knocked down by the concussion. I made a mental note to ask for longer detonator cord. Debris flew in every direction, but didn't fly fast enough in the low gravity to do much damage to our suits. Red lights started flashing inside the airlock. We made a run for it as the auxiliary doors slowly closed. The last soldier--Peterson, that wuss--made it inside the airlock as the two door halves slowly closed the gap in between them. The primary door beyond it had been blown into slag; some small fragments of it still floated mournfully in the air.
The door fully closed, leaving us separated from the outside. The red emergency lights stopped flashing, and returned to their normal yellow-orangish hue. We were in.
The first thing you find in Phobos base, once you get past the airlock, is the security checkpoint. Here you get hosed down and scanned for any Martian diseases. If you're female the rent-a-cops gawk at you through the security cameras. Never did like those security guards. Fat, horny bastards.
But, despite my prejudices against the glorified mall security, that was where we headed, with LeTroi, Betz and Nguyen taking point guard duty. Stevens and I took the rear, covering everybody's collective ass. Peterson stayed between us and the rest of the squad in front of us, issuing orders to them and not paying us in the rear any attention. Stevens took this quiet moment to talk with me.
"It's damned quiet. And no people, either. I think we should go to high alert. This is getting weird. First the door and now no people."
"Maybe they're all on lunch break." I suggested.
"The whole base? They don't have a communal lunch hour." He had me there. "And didn't you notice that the mining machinery wasn't turned on? If it had been, we would have heard it." He had me there too. "Jesus, what are you so uptight about?"
"You don't find this situation unusual? See, there's the security station. I don't see anyone inside. Do you? The lights aren't even turned on."
True enough, I didn't see any light coming out of the security station, which was nestled in a wall to our right, jutting out into the middle of the hallway. The hall we were in was plain and undecorated, save the caution signs and rules posters. Nothing was damaged or touched, it seemed, but the absence of people was starting to freak me out a little. I tightened my grip on my modified Zero-G M-4, which I had ignored up until now. When you're a marine, you kind of get used to holding a gun, and sooner or later you forget it's there. People say we're terrible that way. Those people are morons.
Peterson ordered our pointmen to go investigate the security station. While they went over to the station and started inspecting it, Peterson had the rest of us go past the security station, through the deactivated showers, and into the reception area, where he thought there might be someone to tell us exactly what the hell was going on. Peterson stayed near the security center, so he could "evaluate the progress of the pointmen." In reality, though, I knew he was too much of a pussy to come with us. We all knew that. We--that is Kosky, Kirin, Frederick, Stevens and me--left him and headed through the showers and into the hallway leading to the lobby and reception desk.
I noticed something strange while walking through the showers: The lights were flickering, like the lightbulbs were almost out of juice. That was my guess. But Stevens had a different idea.
"Hey, do you think the flickering lights have something to do with the interference Nguyen described?"
I hadn't considered that until now.
"Yeah, maybe, but it's more likely that the power system's all messed up. I'm still not very worried."
Actually, I was freaking out a little. This was so very weird I couldn't help being freaked out.
"Oh well. Let's get to the reception desk and figure out what the hell is happening."
I agreed wholeheartedly. The only thing I wanted right now was a good night's sleep and a beer in my hand. And we were all out of beer back at base.
I noticed we were lagging behind the rest of the squad, which was already at the ornate door leading to the lobby. Stevens and I jogged to the other guys, who were waiting patiently, readying their weapons for whatever was on the other side of the door. I cocked my own rifle on the fly.
"Okay, we ready?" Kosky asked, snapping a clip into his rifle, which he kept unloaded most of the time for some reason. "Frederick, Kirin, you guys stay in the rear. Stevens, Harry, you guys come up here with me and get ready to kneel down so they can fire over your heads if it ever comes to that."
The double doors were wide enough to fit four of us comfortably abreast. The three of us had no trouble getting into formation.
Stevens, in the middle, lifted his leg and powerfully kicked the doors in. We all yelled out a harsh battle cry, only to realize we were yelling at corpses.
Dead bodies littered the blue UAC carpet, their blood splatted on the walls and in crimson pools on the carpet. Some of the corpses--the ones who still had faces--had expressions of utter terror on them--unusual if you're fighting a human. In all, there were six bodies, two female and the other four male. They all wore UAC employee uniforms. All of them were unarmed, save a man who had a blood-stained pocket knife in his cold, dead hand. He was slumped against a wall, a large chunk of his head missing. Not everybody was so lucky, if you could call it that. One man who was sprawled on the floor had a hole blown through his midsection. We could see his organs quite clearly. One of the women was missing the bottom half of her body. We couldn't find any body parts scattered around; they must have been completely disintegrated or taken away for some perverse reason.
It took us a full ten seconds for us to come to our senses and fully realize what had happened here.
"Good God," Kosky breathed, his eyes wide as saucers.
Kirin went and threw up in a corner of the room.
Frederick kept his head on straight, and went over to inspect the bodies to see what had killed them. He bent down over a man whose head had been ripped off. The corpse was sitting at the reception desk, slumped forward over papers covered in his blood.
I decided to radio Peterson and the pointmen to update our status. About ten minutes had passed since we split paths, and BOY did we have one hell of a status report to radio in. I tapped the small com radio on my left shoulder.
"Corporal, we have something you should see here…over."
I waited. There was no reply. Only static.
"Sir? Sir!" I yelled into the radio. There still was no answer. My colleagues were staring at me now, fear on their faces.
"They're gone," I breathed, stunned. What-the-hell ever had gotten the UAC employees had probably gotten Peterson and our pointmen too. Frederick frowned. Kirin looked away. Stevens cursed. Kosky went berserk.
"Shit, shit, shit, shit!" Private Kosky yelled. "What the fuck is happening?!" He looked around frantically, his eyes slightly twitching.
"Keep your head, marine!" Yelled Stevens. "Maybe it's just that interference that kept Nguyen from opening the door. Let's go back to the security station and check."
"Yes, let's," I replied.
Everybody agreed with him. Stevens always came up with the good ideas. That's why we were such good pals. We all started towards the security station when I heard an unnerving hissing noise behind us.
We turned around in unison to find some sort of creature leering at us, crouched and licking crusty lips with a long and rust-colored tongue. It was brown, covered in white spines. I smelled brimstone.
The thing stood up to its full height--a towering two-and-a-half meters. It was large and well-muscled, with burning red eyes--like a demon. When we turned around it emitted an ear-splitting roar that sounded like it came from the depths of Hell itself. It raised its clawed right hand at me, revealing a small hole in the palm which started to glow red hot, as if the flames of hell burned from within.
Training didn't choose this moment to fail me.
"Duck!" I yelled as a great ball of fire flew at us. The fireball sailed over my head and pounded violently into a wall, turning the blast point into slag.
I brought up my M-4 and started shooting wildly, pumping several rounds into the thing's stomach before it went down bleeding and screaming something horrible. Its blood was brownish in color and sizzled like acid as it flowed, burning a hole in the nice UAC carpet.
I got back up when I was sure it was dead. My companions came in after me, their weapons up and ready, as they should be in a situation like this.
I went over to inspect the new corpse.
Its hide was dark brown, like dirt but not quite. It didn't have skin, but rather it was covered by tiny scales. It wasn't wearing any clothes, and it had no genitalia in any human sense. It had three clawed toes on its feet, and one short, stubby toe on the backs of its feet, like a bird. It had five fingers like a human, save that the fingers, like the toes, were clawed. In the palm was a hole that glowed red, and felt hot, even through my heavy gloves. There was no evidence of metal on the entire body, suggesting that the creature's ability to make and throw fireballs was completely biological in nature. The spines that were on its shoulders, elbows and chest were completely white and seemingly well polished--I could practically see my reflection in them. And, as I suspected earlier, they were sharp at their tips. I made a note of that just in case there were anymore of these things lurking around.
I tried to lift the corpse so I could take a good look at it from all sides, but it was HEAVY. I estimated it weighed between 300-450 kilos. I dusted off my hands, despite the absence of dirt.
I gave up trying to lift it and stood up. My comrades had been watching me inspect the corpse.
"No weapons or identification," I said, adhering to Drop Marine procedure, even though the shit had hit the fan---hard.
I sighed and hefted my M-4. I put on a mask of grim determination--more for my mates' sake than mine--and said in my most badass voice ever--
"Alright, let's move out!"
Everybody's spirits heightened when they saw one marine who hadn't lost his cool, even after killing a virtual demon. I smiled despite the terrifying circumstances. We were a unit again.
As previously planned, we all headed towards the security station, making sure to stay vigilant, should any more of those spiny things show up again. We all had our weapons' stocks to our shoulders, ready to fire at half-a-second's notice. I bravely took point, keeping true to the gung-ho façade I put up, while Kirin and Frederick took the rear. Kosky and Stevens were in the middle of our little formation, watching our flanks.
I kept a steady watch ahead of us as we passed through the still-deactivated showers, keeping watch both ahead and above us for any monsters that might drop in on us through the air ducts. Nothing happened to us as we made our way towards the security station.
The first thing I noticed amiss was that the control locking panel for the door had been burned through--probably the work of Peterson or one of his boys. The door was still open, its closing mechanism probably damaged by whomever--or whatever--had burned through the door control panel. I considered it a warning. I brought my gun up.
The rest of the group stood outside, waiting for me to come back after I'd scouted and report in. Kirin leaned weakly against a wall; his vomiting had probably taken a lot out of him. Stevens suggested he eat something.
I stepped cautiously into the station's outermost room--surveillance and identification. The camera monitors were offline completely, their screens white with snow. The identification computers were off, too. Weird.
Again it was quiet--too quiet. I cocked my weapon for anything that might surprise me. I looked on a desk in front of the window that gave me a view of the locker area. There was the usual assortment of identification papers and daily reports, a personal computer and a UAC coffee mug, half-filled with UAC-brand coffee sludge. To my amazement, the PC was still on, showing a document typed in wordpad. It looked like a report. It read:
January 27th 2039: Coffee machine in Detention is broken. Request repair. One worker had to be detained on charges of aggravated assault.
February 27th 2039: Prison riot started by prisoner Ruskin. Five guards injured, all seriously. One prisoner killed.
March 27th 2039: Anomaly detected in experimental labs. Two guards sent to investi***ERROR: MALFUNCTION DETECTED IN SYSTEMS ADMINISTo8$D*(*&^*jjf!!!090gjG*&fbhfaifh87***
Something had definitely gone wrong in the computer system. On my watch, it had happened yesterday. This wasn't surprising to me, anymore, given the fireball-throwing devil we'd just killed something had gone wrong with the whole station.
I turned away from the monitor and crept over to the door leading to the detention center, and deeper into the security station.
Again the control panel for the door leading to the detention center was damaged and rendered useless by whatever had forced its way inside the security station, but I had no trouble getting past it. The door slid easily to the side, revealing the austere gray walls of the detention center's main lobby area.
The lobby was a small 5 x 5 meter room, with a desk, a chair, a rules plaque, and an American flag off in a corner. An armored door to my right led to cellblock A, and beyond that, a maximum-security cellblock B.
I remembered spending time in cellblock A about a month ago, after I got in a barfight with some punk from USDM unit 33. I knocked his teeth out and spent three months in a cell.
I chuckled to myself as I remembered my first days in the Drop Marines. I thought I was a big-shot, way- back-when. I could have taken anything on, climbed any mountain, swimmed--swum? Swam? Any river. I was THE MAN. Not so much now, what with fireball throwing demons and dead civvies. I had welcomed myself to hell.
A pain-filled groan from behind the desk abruptly jolted me out of my thoughts. I hussled over to the paper-covered desk to find a man, wearing a UAC security guard uniform. He had a few blood stains showing through claw-marks in his gray kevlar vest, but he seemed alright, just stunned. The kevlar is what saved him.
The man had black hair which was matted with sweat. He was of light build, probably not very good in hand-to-hand combat. He looked Japanese, but most oriental nationalities look alike. I made no assumptions.
I bent down and did what I could to patch him up while he groaned unintelligibly; he was still getting over the shock of having been mauled by--whatever mauled him.
I sat him up in the desk chair and he started to speak more-or-less coherently.
"What happened?" He breathed, looking at where I had put field bandages on him.
"Something scratched you up real nice, but you're okay," I replied, relieved that he was speaking and functioning normally again. "What is your name and rank?" I asked, keeping it military.
"My name is Christopher Ho, and I'm a sergeant in the security team here. Where is everyone else?"
I ignored his question and, not thinking, handed him my sidearm, a powerful Beretta 92FS.
Silently noticing my mistake of arming a civilian, he handed my pistol back.
"I already have a piece," Chris said, patting his holster, which miraculously had not been taken by whatever attacked him. He was no dumb bunny.
"Now, what's happened here?" He asked. I obliged, briefing him on what we were sent in to do and what we had just killed. I also briefly mentioned the interference that kept us from entering, but it didn't matter too much at the time.
Mister Ho took my briefing better than I thought. He didn't even flinch when I told him about the eviscerated UAC civvies. He had a soldier's mentality, I could tell.
"Do you remember anything?" I asked after I was done with the report. He shook his head regretfully, saying,
"No. All I can remember of the whole incident is something heavy hitting me in the back of the head, knocking me down, and I remember something sharp scratching my stomach and chest. It's all a blank after that."
I nodded grimly, sizing him up and determining how good he would be in a firefight. Chris had a good head on him--I was glad whatever had attacked him let him keep it. He seemed fairly confident--not a quality you want going into a gun battle. But I was fairly sure he would be able to hold his own--he knew the ropes already. I let him keep his peashooter.
I still needed more information. "Do you have any idea what happened before we came?"
Again, he shook his head. "I'm just a security guard. I don't know what was going on down there in the labs before all this happened. But I'll bet money that the monster you described came in through the third gate. I've heard that UAC was experimenting with it, but I never checked it out myself."
The third gate. The gate UAC wasn't supposed to mess with. Those stupid corporate bastards let a demon in through the gate, and there were probably others with him. I figured then that, if what Chris was saying was true, we'd have to shut the Gate down somehow. But how….?
I escorted Chris back to the entrance of the security station, where he was received and briefed by my comrades-in-arms. He learned their names and ranks (which were all private) as I headed back to the lobby to check out the cellblocks.
The armored door leading to the cellblocks was undamaged--unusual, given the fact that all the other doors had had their control panels torched. I punched in a few random numbers to make sure it wasn't messed up internally and would let me in without a fireworks display. I got the familiar "bzzart" that comes with the "Access Denied" signal. I let out a quiet curse, then backed up and unslung my pack.
My backpack had all the marine essentials: Rations, extra clips, a computer map, frag grenades, and a few extras I put in myself: My demo charges, and my brass knuckles, just in case I had to punch out some poor sucker. I took out two of my C4 charges and put one on either side of the door. I stepped back as I unrolled the detonator cord, and attached it to the remote control. I grabbed my pack and ducked behind the desk where I found Chris. The light on the remote glowed green, and I punched the button.
The two explosions pounded my head in, but absolutely ripped through the armored doors, sending debris flying everywhere. Shrapnel punched through the desk and nearly cut my suit (not to mention me) open, but I didn't sustain too much damage. I got up and brushed the debris off as Stevens came running.
"I heard explosions!" He shouted over the ringing in my ears.
"No shit," I replied. "I had to blow the door to get to the cellblocks."
"Well, don't go exploding things left and right. You're freaking everybody out here, going off alone and blowing shit up. Not to mention the fact that someone's going to have to pay for all this when it's all over."
I hadn't considered that in my pyromaniacal zeal to blow things up, and decided I would lay off the explosives, for now.
"Care to join me?" I offered. It was a lonely pasttime, blowing stuff up by yourself.
Jared nodded eagerly. "I'll do anything to get me away from Kosky for five minutes. He's freaking out over there."
"Yeah, well, he's just a kid at 25, so I'd give him some slack." I remembered what I was like when I had joined the corps at 22. I freaked out the first time I killed a guy, way back in Afghanistan. I'm older and less sensitive now, though. Killing's one of those things that gets easier and easier the more you do it. I wish it weren't that way.
Stevens and I climbed over the rubble of the armored door, and, as before, emerged into a world of corpses.
The cellblock had ten cells in it--5 on either side of the 3 meter wide hallway. Only eight of the cells had people--rather, corpses--in them. All of them were still closed.