Dan's Page DooM [Part 4]|
Rick Arnold flew at hyperspeed through a dazzling sea of red light with white lightning crackling all throughout, traveling through an inter-dimensional pathway.
Rick Arnold flew out of the Gateway and rolled under a console. The first thing he noticed, was that the floor was caked with burnt innards and flesh. The next was the Gateway itself; He craned his next to look at it and saw that the arch was now covered in blood and gore, etched with arcane and demonic symbols, dripping intestinal fluid in huge puddles on the floor. Red and blue lights flashed from all sides as computers worked overtime to maintain the portal.
A long white skinny leg peeked over the top of the arch. It was followed by another, and another...and another...and another. An eight-legged spider-like creature perched atop the Gateway and squealed. Its body was an upside down, bald human head, with eight legs protruding from the side. He soon noticed more Trites at work around the Gate.
“They're taking it apart...” Rick Arnold whispered to himself.
Yvonne thought he was talking to her, but didn’t quite pick out what he had said. “What?” Her voice came over his radio.
“I'm here, Doc,” Rick Arnold whispered. “Keep quiet.”
He ventured another peek around the lab. Trites scuttled across the ceiling, hauling wires and sheets of metal in their mouths. Undead Mods stood guard against the walls.
Rick Arnold looked in the other direction and saw a pile of bloody skulls, some with a few pieces of flesh still on them. An Imp walked by, kicking one past him. Beyond those skulls was a clear path out of the room. He began to ease himself out from under the console.
The Imp picked up a steel beam, its back to Rick Arnold. Trying to keep his eyes on all of the busy creatures, he slowly rose to his feet and sidestepped toward the exit. However, because of that, he did not see the pile of skulls. The sound of his leg plowing into the pile of skulls was like a china cabinet falling on its face at a funeral.
He froze in place, grimacing as every single monstrosity in the room turned toward him.
“Fuck you guys.” Rick Arnold raced toward the exit, but a grate from the ceiling popped down and an Imp peaked its head out, hissing. It jumped down and landed in front of the exit.
Rick Arnold made a sharp left and leaped into an open ventilation duct. He sailed into the ductwork, careening off the walls and plummeting into a diagonal shaft which was soon lit by fireballs from the pursuing Imp.
The Imp rushed into the duct, tossing flame after flame at Rick Arnold. Rick Arnold swiveled on his back so that he was facing the creature and fired the shotgun between his legs. The blast caught the Imp's shoulder and ground its face against the wall; still it kept coming.
“Having fun yet?” Rick Arnold shouted at it. The Imp lobed another fireball straight at him. He managed to roll aside and return the favor with his shotgun.
Rick Arnold smashed through a grate and fell out of the ventilation duct, landing in filthy brown water up to his waist, belonging to a sewage system. It filled his eyes and mouth and he flailed madly, spitting and coughing as he returned to his feet.
The Imp also fell out and slammed into his back, causing both of them to go under the water again.
Rick Arnold surfaced with the Imp and slugged it in the mouth. “Have a drink on me!” He dunked its head under the water. The Imp's arms flailed wildly, each blooming fireball extinguished with a splash.
Finally it stopped struggling and Rick Arnold let go of the body, letting it sink under the water.
His joints bruised and aching, Rick Arnold pulled himself up onto a concrete ledge and ripped a syringe from a stimpack on his belt. “Ah, Mod-issue painkillers. Sugar water straight to my heart. Thanks Dan.”
Chucking the syringe, he rested against the wall, getting a good look at his surroundings. The sewer tunnels were enormous, with walls and ledges of mossy brick and dried rivers of vile waste staining the floor.
“Okay. First things first, I gotta find those yellow and blue keys. Project leaders...” Rick Arnold repeated to himself. He found it more comforting to talk out loud to himself.
He jumped off the ledge and back into the water as he started making his way down the tunnel. “Hey Doc, ya hear me?” He said into his radio.
“Loud and clear,” Yvonne’s voice came back to him.” What was all that?”
“Just washing up,” Rick Arnold replied. “Listen Doc, who are the other project leaders?”
“Well, there's Doctor Junkee...” Yvonne trailed off as she tried to remember who the other person was. Finally it came to her. “And Lieutenant Rancor.”
“Rancor. Figures. You know anything about the layout of the sewage system?”
“I might be able to download an automap into your helmet.”
“Good, that’ll work.” A minute later, the inside of Rick Arnold’s visor lit up with a digitized image of the labyrinth that was the sewage system.
“The south pumping station is right below JP Database Command,” Yvonne said to said.
“Then that's where I am now,” Rick Arnold informed her as his eyes studied the map. He snapped his visor up. “Exit is straight ahead, first shithole on my right.”
“Good luck,” Yvonne said to him as he resumed his slogging.
A short while later, Rick Arnold was still in the sewer system, but now in a different section. Driftwood and oily pools swept past his legs and there seemed to be an obstruction of some kind up ahead.
As he got closer and his eyes adjusted better, he saw that there were several Mods lying in various states of mutilated decay before an enormous red mass clogging the tunnel; a bulbous, rank thing that seemed to be slightly moving and pulsating.
“Yvonne,” Rick Arnold whispered into his headset.
“Right here, Rick Arnold.” Her voice came back to him.
“How old is that friggin' automap?”
“I don't know, why?”
“Because there's something weird blocking the tunnel, and it looks like I wasn't the first poor bastard to get cornered down here by it.” Rick Arnold spotted one Mod’s dead body cradling a double-barreled shotgun.
“Hello there, beautiful,” he said to the glorious weapon. “Where have you been all my life?” Grabbing the weapon and dropping the pump shotgun into his other hand, he turned to face whatever horror claimed the lives of those troops.
Unbeknownst to Rick Arnold, a huge yellow eye slowly moved toward him from the darkness of a side-tunnel. A roar from down the tunnel diverted Rick Arnold’s attention and stopped him from turning around and seeing the eye. A chaingun-wielding zombie walked through the water, approaching Rick Arnold.
Rick Arnold’s eyes went wide and he dived under the water as a torrent of gunfire sprayed the water where he was just standing.
The zombie gunner advanced on Rick Arnold's position as belt after belt of ammo was sucked greedily into the whirring chaingun. Chips of concrete broke off from the walls as bullets ripped into it. The zombie was tearing the tunnel apart and our hero was nowhere to be seen.
Rick Arnold launched himself out of the water and emptied both barrels of the double shotgun. The zombie's chest opened up like an instant autopsy, and he staggered, but quickly regained his footing. But in that split second, the chaingun had spun down, and it was just enough time for Rick Arnold to slap two shells into his weapon and spit them into the gunner's face with a thunderclap.
He snapped up the chaingun with one hand before it hit the water. Score. Rick Arnold nudged the corpse away and admired his prize. Behind him, a giant brown-colored floating ball, which the one giant eye belonged to, inched forward. It had a giant mouth filled with sharp teeth. It was a Pain Elemental.
“What the fuck did these guys eat?” Rick Arnold asked, wondering just what the hell was going on, and why people were zombies, and there were other monsters going around.
The Pain Elemental screeched and Rick Arnold whipped around just as it spit a Lost Soul at him. Rick Arnold dived and the flaming skull skipped over the water, missing him, and then made a shrieking U-turn. The Pain Elemental opened its mouth again and belched out several more Lost Souls which instantly homed in on Rick Arnold.
Rick Arnold batted one aside with the chaingun, using it as a bat, and fed a shell from his double shotgun to another. The Pain Elemental squirmed and birthed more and more of the screaming fire skulls. They swarmed around Rick Arnold, nipping at his limbs, squawking at one another, trying to eat him alive.
Just as he dropped the chaingun, a Lost Soul flew up and engulfed his fist. With a mighty roar, Rick Arnold punched the skull right into one of its siblings. The collision resulted in a deafening explosion as the two fire skulls exploded. The others instantly scattered like fleeing fish.
“Yeah! Take that!” Rick Arnold shouted to them. They prepared to make a second run at him. He quickly picked up the chaingun as he loaded a clip into the gun. “Bring it.”
They came at him as one yowling wall of fire, and the chaingun cut into the ranks in a series of blinding bursts, sending Lost Souls off-course into one another, into the wall, and into the water with loud sizzles.
The Pain Elemental belched at his rear. Rick Arnold lobbed the double shotgun over his shoulder and gave the beast a taste of it’s ammo. The Pain Elemental twisted in agony and opened her maw. A bright red newborn skull appeared in her fiery belly.
Rick Arnold turned and pointed the chaingun straight at it. “Swallow this, Tubby.”
As Rick Arnold let loose with the gun, the Pain Elemental was deflated with a wet farting-like noise, smoke spewing from its blubbery lips. Suddenly tons of dark red water slammed into the tunnel from the side-tunnel, sweeping Rick Arnold off his feet and extinguishing the remaining Lost Souls.
Rick Arnold bounced off the ceiling and was grounded against the tunnel floor in the space of one second. He was being battered more by the water than anything the monsters have thrown at him so far. That’s when he realized that it was not water, but blood. A lot of blood. He flew down the tunnel, around the corner, speeding past rotting soldiers and jutting past stalactites made of skin and bone that were covered in blood smears.
Rick Arnold grabbed one of the horrid spears and held on for dear life. The blood eventually calmed, and lowered down. He let go and jumped down into the blood-filled water, out of breath.
“Rick Arnold!” Yvonne’s scream entered his ears.
“Present,” Rick Arnold replied, still slightly dazed.
“I found an alternate route that'll take you outside.”
“Hey, thanks. You're a lifesaver.” Rick Arnold breathed a bit to catch his breath. “It wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with a side tunnel near where I just was, would it?”
A few minutes later, Rick Arnold was staring up a ladder into a maintenance shaft, which made for a good hundred foot climb. On his right and left were radiation suits hanging from hooks.
“Where does this lead, exactly?” Rick Arnold asked.
“The Toxic Disposal grounds,” Yvonne answered.
“This just gets better and better, sweetheart. I love the fine print you keep giving me.” Rick Arnold grabbed one of the suits and pulled it on over his armor. With the double shotgun strapped to his back, Rick Arnold slowly and awkwardly ascended the ladder. Glowing green sludge drizzled down onto his hood from above. He shook it off and kept going.
The top of the shaft was capped by a huge hatch. Grabbing the handle, Rick Arnold braced his legs against the wall and twisted. The handle groaned, bent, and gave way, flakes of rust and toxic grime falling away. A good heave and the hatch flew open.
Rick Arnold climbed out of the shaft and onto the ground of outside. He looked and saw that he was surrounded by barrels as far as the eye can see; barrels brimming with unstable waste, all packed together in a fenced-in pen. As unappealing a sight as that was, it was nothing compared to the terrain beyond.
The skies were blood-red and churning with something dark and cloudy, but not clouds at all; something alive. Jagged black mountains rivaling Dan’s JP3 Page’s highest peaks stabbed into the stratosphere. Beneath the red sky, pyres burned at regular intervals, and great heaping piles of baking innards could be seen through the shimmering heat. Imps stalked across the barren wasteland, casting fireballs at humans impaled on giant wooden spikes with enough life still in them to wriggle like worms.
“I think I know where JP Database went…” Rick Arnold trailed off.
“What do you see?” Yvonne asked.
“Hell.” Rick Arnold squeezed between rows of barrels, pulling off the radiation suit and flipping up his visor. A stinging heat accompanied by the odor of eons-old decay blasted his face. JP Database hac been assimilated into the bowels of Hell. So had the complex itself; the entire compound was covered in gore and bizarre and disturbing configurations of bone and flesh.
“JP Database is in Hell,” Rick Arnold continued. “They're not Hackers, Doc. they're fucking virus’. I'm in fucking Hell.”
Back in Command Control on Dan’s TLW Page, Yvonne looked up at the crimson Gateway but refused to accept Rick Arnold’s description.
“Listen to what you're saying...” Even as she tried to find the right words to counter Rick Arnold's revelation, her eyes wandered from corpse to mutilated corpse in the lab. A halved Mod twitches on the floor and reaches up for her, his eyes white and empty. Yvonne quickly backs away, realizing Rick Arnold was right.
“Rick Arnold, you've got to get out of there.”
At the JP Database Complex in Hell, an unholy roar called Rick Arnold’s attention to a pile of rocks just outside the pen. A giant deformed shadow could be seen moving against one of the rocks and Rick Arnold could hear heavy booming footsteps.
A giant two-legged muscular monstrosity with a head to fit the size of the body, no eyes, teeth-filled mouth, and fresh blood dripping from those teeth, stepped around the corner. The Hellknight lowly growled as it spotted Rick Arnold.
“Hold that thought, Doc.” Rick Arnold dropped his visor as the Hellknight roared and unleashed a giant glowing blue energy ball from one of its hands. Rick Arnold knocked every barrel out of his path and tore toward the fence as the energy ball slammed into the waste dump, setting off a brilliant chain reaction of pounding explosions.
The earth trembled beneath Rick Arnold's feet as he scrambled around. The wall of fire behind him was growing at a fast rate and he'd be ash in mere seconds. He leaped and slammed into the fence just as the fire hit him.
Rick Arnold was kicked into the air like a puny rag doll and screamed all the way back down, hitting a rocky slope and sliding into a river of blood. Rick Arnold surfaced, hauling his ass onto shore and dumping every sidearm onto the ground.
He slammed shells into the double shotgun, pumped the single shotgun, and fed an ammo clip into the chaingun. He aimed up the slope with the chaingun, attaching the other two guns to his armor, and waist.
A series of cries and roars echoed across the wasteland. They increased in both number and proximity. The Hellknight was coming and by the sounds of it, he was bringing a few friends.
“If there's a Devil then there's a God,” Rick Arnold said out loud. “And if you can hear me, old man, there's just one thing I wanna say…” The Hellknight appeared on the hilltop with an army of Imps. “Let’s rock 'n' roll.”
Rick Arnold charged up the slippery slope with his gun blazing. The Hellknight roared and sent his troops down.
The chaingun chewed their knees out, sending the Imps somersaulting past Rick Arnold. Once Rick Arnold ran low on bullets, he took out the shotgun and pummeled the Hellknight with shot after shot as it howled in pain.
Rick Arnold fell to his knees in the rocks and crossed his arms, taking out three Imps with the shotgun, watching them sail into the river of blood.
The Hellknight rounded the corner and fired an energy ball at him. Rick Arnold whipped out the double shotgun and fired, taking out a large chunk of flesh from the Hellknight. He began to back up as he fired shot after shot into the creature and it took one giant step towards him, and then another and another.
Rick Arnold put the double shotgun away and took out the chaingun once again. He turned and ran, reloading as he did so.
He heard the sound of an approaching energy ball and dodged, the ball slamming into a rock nearby and exploding. Rick Arnold whipped around with the newly reloaded chaingun. “Go to…” Rick Arnold realized that the monster was already in Hell. “Um…here I guess.”
He pulled back down on the trigger and didn’t let go until the giant Hellknight was on the ground in a bleeding pulp. Rick Arnold stepped towards it and saw that it was still slightly breathing. He took out his double shotgun and fired a round into the head, exploding it in a grisly display of gore.
Rick Arnold raised his arms in a victory cry. Then he began his journey back up the hill and towards the JP Database complex.
Near the top, he came across a crashed Land Rover leaning against a boulder. He wearily threw the door open and saw the fried Mod inside, burned to a crisp. But more importantly, he saw a rocket launcher on the seat next to the scorched body.
Rick Arnold strapped on the rocket launcher and headed back to the complex.
12/27/2005 3:02:33 PM
(Updated: 12/27/2005 7:01:47 PM)
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