FHD Remix Chapter 4
Previous: FHD Remix Chapter 3: Doom
Chapter 4: The Final War Begins
[Second stage of Doom 3]
"To be a true featherwing, use your gift for love outside yourself. Help your brothers. Stand by your family. Save those who cannot fly." - Creed of the Featherwing Brotherhood.
She makes her way through the sublevel to her destination, carrying the pistol issued to her by Terry Brooks, the security guard at the checkpoint. She longed for the shotgun and Enforcer rifle from the other weapons locker.
She's looking for a Jonathan Ishii, but she's also looking for the old control center. She reaches for the door, but as she does so, she hears the Saviour whisper, <The attack begins.>
The blonde haired middle-aged woman recoils in fear. She has no idea what to expect, so she draws her weapon before opening the door.
"Huh, no, no," Dr. Ishii says as she enters. "Please, you must let me get this communication out. They have to be warned while there is still time. I can't let-"
She realizes they are on the same side and holsters her handgun. "Sorry, there is no time," she gripes. She moves to the controls, pressing a couple of keys and popping a maintenance access panel below, pulling out a small, but highly effective fire extinguisher.
<Systems activated. Teleportation will commence in Three ... Two ... One...> it is the voice of the computer, a soft female voice.
The frustrated operative abandons her task, and the bottle of scratched Pyrostop as she rises to see a screen labeled "Delta Sector 4". Dr. Malcolm Betruger is standing in front of it, holding the Soul Cube. "Ah, crud," she says.
Dr. Ishii continues, "You don't know what I've seen. You can't possibly understand or comprehend..."
Dr. Betruger steps through the now activated teleportal. She notices a gap between the Soul Cube and Betruger's hands, and that it wobbles slightly just as it disappears through the portal.
Dr. Ishii explains to her quietly, gravely that, "The devil is real. I know ... I built his cage."
A technician in Delta 4 suddenly cries, < I'm getting abnormal readings here.>
Ishii gasps, "Oh, God."
The technician's voice again, <This is bad!! I can't hold these levels, we're losing it!>
The Marine turns to the scientist and grabs him by the shoulders. She urgently says, "God is irrelevant if you don't know the Saviour," she shakes him gently, "Do you know the Saviour??"
"Saviour?" he gasps.
She turns away, grabbing her radio, waiting for a message to finish, "We have unidentified movement coming from all over the base."
"Dr. Betruger has taken artifact U-1 into the Delta 4 Portal. I say again. Dr. Betruger has taken artifact U-1 into the Delta 4 Portal," she cries urgently, watching people on the screens, especially well armed ones, succumbing as ghostly skull-shaped Soul Stealers tear their spirits from their bodies.
Then she realizes that it is happening to Dr. Ishii, right next to her. She grabs her scratch bottle from the floor, then grabs his shoulders.
"Call the Saviour," she urges, "His name is-"
He suddenly throws her arms off, and with no pupils in his glowing eyes, swings his arm at her. She blocks the blow and hits him across the face with the scratch bottle, then pushes him against the wall with both hands. The spray of Pyrostop does not distress his breathing at all.
[End of video coverage]
It is a zombie, she realizes. Succumbing far faster to the tiny bit of diluted scratch than anyone ever has before, it collapses at her feet, smoking as its temperature soars past the boiling point of water. Never has she seen anyone's body temperature fluctuate so wildly, dropping to room temperature as his soul was wrenched from his body, and now rising as it sizzles.
The door opens, a Marine with a pistol emerges.
Recognizing the uniform of a Private, the Corporal says to him, "We need to set up a-"
BANG! The round's impact is distributed about her chest by the armor she's wearing. <I was just hit by live ammunition,> she realizes as the zombie prepares to fire another round, probably into her head. The tap near her feet is the fire extinguisher hitting the floor, having slipped from her fingers.
She is frozen in her thoughts, unable to comprehend what has just happened to her. She thinks she is in the process of dying, but...
Somehow she sees three posts and a flash. BANG! Her weapon is in her hands and firing at the zombie. She decides to aim for its head. BANG! The sound of its weapon is drowned out as the round goes over her right shoulder into the wall behind her. Her well-trained mind does not allow her body to react, merely filing away the fact that enemy fire was a couple of centimetres away from killing her.
After her third shot hits its head, she realizes that its nervous system must have been transformed. It is far harder to "kill" than any human. It takes three more rounds before she no longer considers it a credible threat.
<Six rounds?> she gasps, <How do you survive three headshots, even in the twenty-second century?> Quickly she finds an answer and puts her helmet back on.
Sergeant Kelly is on the radio, "All units, this is Sergeant Kelly. We are under attack by an unknown enemy force. Fall back to Marine HQ to regroup. I say again: fall back to Marine HQ and await further-"
<Unknown?> she growls, checking the damage to her armor, <only because nobody's been paying attention.> "Sergeant," the woman radios, "Dr. Ishii was captured by the enemy ... I had to kill what was left of him. Only those who know the Saviour are immune."
She turns around to see that Dr. Ishii's body has completely vaporized. She realizes that scratch is effective against these creatures and drops the magazine out of her weapon to pour a swig of her bottled scratch over the bullets, then reinserts the clip and chambers a round thus treated. She takes a few seconds to treat the rest of her ammunition as she listens to her radio.
Hell has broken lose. A phrase usually used metaphorically is now quite literal. She knows from Hogosho's briefing what the intermediate dimension (ID) used by the teleporters really is. She knows from medical reports that only featherwings and Saviour-spawn are invulnerable to the soul-stealing spirits that have just emerged from the Delta Four hellgate. In a few moments, ninety-seven percent of the population of Mars will be her enemy, and the remaining three percent almost certainly confused and unarmed because the UAC regularly bypasses the relevant human rights laws and discriminates against the openly religious. She is the probably the only featherwing on the planet.
She sees Ishii's incomplete message on the comm console and reaches underneath with the scratch bottle and hoses the electronics with it. She then deletes the long-winded letter and types her brief message for the Board:
"TATAKAI IS HERE"
<An interesting codename,> she thinks, <the Japanese word for "battle.">
Upon commanding it to send, it cuts to a video feed of the satellite uplink room, where she painfully watches a zombie strangle the helpless operator. She hammers the console with her fist. Her attempt to realign the transmission dish with Earth is met with the message "REMOTE ACCESS DISABLED".
Her way back to the control centre elevator is blocked by a broken oxygen pipe and the fire it is supporting. The unarmed zombie emerging from the fire drops with one round. Her scratch is working.
Later, she encounters a damaged door, shoots some sort of angry alien creature through its small gap. She considers flying across to a catwalk, but that she should still keep secret her wings. She uses a maintenance access bridge to find an alternate route through Energy Processing.
The short detour to pick up this weapon is irresistible, so she goes for it. To her alarm, the floor drops away. It is a lift to nowhere, she realizes. A nowhere three zombies wait for some sucker like her. She drops the enemies with her scratched pistol. What surprises her is that the shotgun was actually loaded. It doesn't make much sense as a trap, but she shrugs it off and climbs out of the hole.
Over the next minute, she discovers that zombies have shotguns too. She isn't looking forward to the ones who have plasma rifles. She knows they must exist because that's what damaged the coolant manifold she found in the locker.
She passes through a storage area and opens a door next to an emergency medical station. The way to the left, which she knows is just an office, is blocked by a fire from a broken pipe. As she turns right she hears a cry that will haunt her over and over again for the rest of her life.
The imp jumps from where the broken pipe, along with several intact ones, passes through the wall ... across the hallway, then into the middle, whence it stands and screams, as though showing off. Tatakai's reflexes take over and she steps up to it as its right hand starts to glow. Her right hand, Tatakai realizes. Tatakai presses the muzzle of her shotgun against the creature's chest and blows her into the fire, where her body disintegrates. Tatakai does not realize that this is only the first of several hundred such creatures she will claim in her lifetime as a soldier in the losing war that is now only four minutes old.
She emerges from Energy Conversion into the lift area behind the security checkpoint. This is the sublevel's logistics area. She hears the lift platform's supporting cables starting to give out as she sees her sixth climb over the railing. She blasts this one into the cavernous storage area below, then gets clear of the crane's falling load.
After the first flight of stairs from the Energy Conversion exit, she sees on the other side of the cavern, a Maintenance Storage area with no obvious means of access. < I could just fly there, she thinks.> Then she realizes the door is locked anyway, so there's no point.
The security office is guarded by another Imp, which finally gets away a fireball. Tatakai immediately recognizes that this is what damaged the coolant manifold she found just before she descended to the sublevel. Caught at long range, where the shotgun's laughable scatter pattern is useless, Tatakai draws her pistol and executes the creature for its rudeness.
Once in the security office, she finds Brooks unconscious, holsters her weapon and shakes him.
"Brooks, Brooks," she cries, checking his pulse. He is cold, dead. "They got you too," she sighs.
They got him alright. His body snaps to "life" and it is everything she can do to keep his shotgun from lining up with her head. With no alternative, she deploys her wings for the first time since she arrived on Mars and scratches him with her left alula claw.
The creature warms up immediately, and Tatakai momentarily thinks the scratch might bring Brooks back into his body. Its temperature continues to soar and she watches as it disintegrates into flaming bits.
"Poor fella," she laments, then furls her wings. She finds his console still logged in, and opens the checkpoint area. Then she discovers that she can bring up an access panel and open other areas of the sublevel. An imp jumps on the window in front of her. Tatakai recoils just a bit, and then snarls back at her through the bulletproof glass. Brooks' account has only two areas available to it: the maintenance storage area across the logistics cavern, and the other weapons locker.
Going back into the lift area, where another armed zombie waits for her, she sees that she has indeed unlocked the door to that room. She deploys her wings and flies across (after killing the zombie, of course) and lands hard in front of the door. She goes inside and discovers plasma rifle ammunition and a medical station. She patches herself up, takes the ammo and wonders why there is no plasma rifle. After flying back to the lift operator platform, she heads back to the elevator. She never noticed the cable strung across the cavern.
Tatakai emerges into the sublevel's "lobby" to find another Imp dropping out of the ceiling.
"No!" she cries, blasting it with her shotgun, "God, will it ever end! Is everyone lost? Is everyone dead!?"
As she grabs her rifle, another Imp shows up at the door, from where she just came from. She fires a short burst from the rifle, forgetting that it has no scratch; it does hardly any damage to the creature. It is able to fire a fireball, which Tatakai only barely avoids and gets singed as hits the wall behind her. She drops the creature with a single round from her pistol.
She ignores Sergeant Kelly on the radio as he says, "Greenborough, the fact of U-1's existence is highly restricted information ... I don't know how you found out, but watch what you say on the radio from now on!"
She holsters the rifle and goes back to her shotgun. Somehow she barely feels the weight of her weapons and ammunition as she opens the door.
She remembers seeing him in Mars City a few minutes after she arrived. Less than an hour ago. His face is familiar but for the wrinkles, unpupilled eyes, and wicked grin, now waits in the elevator to ambush her. Before he can shoot her with his pistol, she blasts him in the chest with her shotgun, then she collapses into the elevator beside him.
As she draws his lids over his eyes, she worries, <What if I have to do that to a friend ... to Jack?> "God!" she cries aloud, "I'm just not cut out for this, why did you bring me here?"
"Remember who you're talking to, Tatakai," her Saviour answers, "I created you myself. And like it or not, you are cut out for this. Get used to it."
The distinctive sound of the shotgun's action fills the elevator as she chambers the next round. She rises to her feet as the elevator finishes its ascent back into Mars City, the body of the zombie burning away. Her Marine radio is very quiet now. She assures herself that Kelly must be Saviour-spawn if he's lasted this long. It has been only nine minutes since the containment of the Delta 4 portal failed.
99% of the human population on Mars is gone, she realizes. In just nine minutes. What will the final battle on Earth be like? "Be patient," her Saviour assures her, "You will find out."
< I'll just have to get used to it,> she realizes as the elevator opens.
Next FHD Remix Chapter 5: Glie's Only Defender
Author's Note: "My flower withered between the pages two and three." - Tarja Turunen as Nemo, in the song by Nightwish. Blogspot's editor crashed and eradicated an unrelated post after this part of the FHD Remix (Version A, this is Version C) was posted on my blog. The end of this chapter (then Chapter 8) is the transition between the second and third stages of the game, Doom 3. I discovered the Nightwish song two days later. Details now online at http://featherwinglove.tumblr.com