AUTHOR'S NOTE: So, I thought I'd talk a little bit about this fan fiction before kicking the whole thing off. Some of you may be familiar with me and my original attempt to novelize the original DOOM Trilogy, starting about ten years ago now. (Holy crap I'm getting old.) This is going to be much bigger than that. What I'm trying to do here is to write my own personal end-all, be-all novelization of all things DOOM. However, to clarify, this is my own personal interpretation of the DOOM universe.
So what does THAT mean?
Basically, it means that if you're a fact junkie, you probably will be pissed off at me a lot, because this is not meant to be a direct interpretation of the games. The story will largely revolve around Doom and Doom II: Hell on Earth, and it will be taking elements, to varying degrees, from almost all the other media in the DOOM universe. (Except the movie. I hate the movie.)
To give you an idea of the scope of this story, there's going to be nine Episodes (including Episode Zero here), and each Episode will be broken up into parts, usually three parts. There will also be three different protagonists. So...yeah, it's gonna be huge. If I'm lucky, it'll take me a year to write this, though honestly it'll probably take longer.
One thing I also want to address is that I will be taking breaks in between Episodes, because I don't want to get burned out. I'm also not going to have a strict uploading schedule. As much as I would love to, the reality of the situation is that I'm an indie author now and my main focus has become writing original novels in order to pay my bills and keep from starving. And to keep from having to get a real job and wanting to kill myself.
So I hope you enjoy the story. Here we go!
–The Hell Before the Storm–
They were serving what was laughably referred to as meatloaf again in the mess.
Watts supposed he shouldn't complain, at least not out loud. It was a step up from the stuff he'd been stuck with back on Earth, which was impressive in its own right. It showed what kind of spending power the UAC had, that the slop they served in the cafeteria was actually better. Theoretically, at least. With a sigh, he grabbed the Styrofoam takeout box of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy and corn, then booked it for the door.
He wasn't in the mood to talk tonight.
It was the end of a particularly long shift, another day in his glorious life on Phobos. He stepped out of the mess and came into one of the big gray hallways that crisscrossed Phobos Labs. He'd been here three months already and he still hesitated sometimes when trying to figure out how to get from one place to another. Getting lost was embarrassing enough on its own, it was all the more embarrassing when you were in the Marines for shit's sake. Not that he actually considered himself a Marine anymore.
Technically speaking, the Space Division of the United Marine Corps was, as the name implied, still a part of the UMC. But that was as far as the reality went: in name only. What really went on up here, he thought morosely as he made his way back to his 'apartment', was that the UMC and the UAC had cut a deal. The UAC gave the Marines first pick on some choice weapons technology and, in return, the Corps sent up a small army to provide protection. Protection against what, no one had ever elaborated on.
Or, that's how it was supposed to work, anyway.
Nowadays, what with a new war popping up weekly back on Earth, the UMC didn't exactly have a lot of its best and brightest to ship up to Mars and her two moons where nothing was happening. So, to hold up their end of the bargain, they'd been sending rookies that didn't score too high and rejects. Guys who should have been discharged or idiots who'd gotten a squadmate killed. In Watts' case, he'd screwed around with a General's daughter.
That was a year ago, and he was still paying for it.
Watts heaved a world-weary sigh as he found his place and shoved his thumb up against the pad, then punched in his four digit personal identification code. The door slid open, creaking slightly cause something in the internal works was gunked up and there was no one around to fix it. Just one more thing on the list.
Watts closed and locked his door behind him, set the food down on his desk and walked over to the mini-fridge and snagged a can of Mountain Dew Lightyear. As he plopped down into his chair and dug into the meal, he knew he should be doing a better job of keeping his spirits up. When he'd gotten here a year ago, he'd made a promise to himself that he wasn't going to sulk or give up. He was going to try and make the best of it.
And he had, or at least, he thought so.
The fact that he was, in fact, a pretty decent solider, helped him keep in line, and it got him noticed by the Brass. The Brass in question being a humorless hardass named Master Sergeant Kelly. Watts had never been sure what the guy had done to get shipped up here, and had ultimately figured that he was a holdover from back during the days they sent actually qualified Marines up here. No wonder he'd always been so pissed, they sent him idiots, morons, rejects and kids who didn't know what they were getting into or only cared what they were getting out of.
But that was in the past now.
Kelly and the ilk he presided over were back down on Mars, in the aptly named Mars City. In nine months, Watts had received two promotions. Back on Earth, he'd gotten up to Corporal, but he'd been busted back down to Private when they'd upshipped him to Mars. He'd hit Private First Class in a month, then Lance Corporal after another three months. It had surprised him, but apparently standing out of the crowd wasn't really hard up here.
Although it had made him nervous. There were rumors that a lot of the cargo the UAC shipped back to Earth were bodybags.
Finally, three months ago, he'd been upgraded back up to Corporal and given a new position up on Phobos. The first month had been nothing but Hangar duty, patrolling, standing guard or unloading the seemingly endless supply of polished, silver crates that came and went in all shapes and sizes to and from Phobos Base.
It was harder to stand out of the crowd up here, because they only sent people who actually knew what they were doing to Mars' two moons, Phobos and Deimos. But within a month, he'd been shifted over to Command Control. And just recently he'd been moved yet again to Phobos Labs. That was high-tech, top-secret stuff.
He knew he should be thrilled, he was actually moving up in the world, and fast, too.
He even had his own apartment, though it was tiny, it was his. Plus, free room and board, and there wasn't really anywhere to spend his cash so his bank account was just getting fatter and fatter. Though he wasn't sure what the hell he was going to spend it on, if and when he ever went back to Earth. And they only did bi-monthly inspections up here, so it wasn't like he had to be a super neat freak and keep his apartment all spit-and-polish twenty four-seven.
And yet, despite all of this, despite everything good that had happened, today had just kind of gotten to him.
Most of it had to do with the fact that he wasn't actually progressing in his life, it was just the illusion of progress. Back on Earth, sure, he'd been fighting in every hellhole on the planet, but he felt like he'd been doing something. He'd been fighting off psychos with bio-bombs or religious fanatics trying to commit genocide or whatever flavor of the week terrorist had popped up. He'd been killing guys that had absolutely no problem setting off a bomb in a crowded building, guys who didn't give a shit who they killed.
But here...what the hell was he doing up here?
Guarding some secret that no one was ever going to get to see?
Despite all the official reports, the stuff he heard in rumors and the stuff the UAC did actually release to the public, he had the feeling that beneath all their medical breakthroughs and top-of-the-line weapons programs and never-before-seen, revolutionary construction materials projects was something else. Something hidden.
Something totally sci-fi.
He had no idea, and unless he was selected for the 'Special Assignments' that he sometimes heard about, he'd never find out.
Watts put it out of his mind as he finished his meal. He was starving at least, so he'd eaten the meal right down to the Styrofoam bottom. Then he dropped the remnants into his garbage chute, grabbed another Dew and snagged his PDA. It was always a good idea to check your PDA. Never knew when something interesting might pop up.
He brought it out of sleep mode and went to the messages tab. He hesitated. There was a single new message.
You Have Been Selected
His heartbeat began to thrum a little faster. He swallowed and tapped the screen. A message popped up.
CPL. Adam Watts,
You have been hand-selected by Master Sergeant Willits to be part of a top-secret task force. Details to follow in person. Report to Dr. Adrian Carmack tomorrow (11.10.2145) at 0700 for further instructions.
Watts read the short message three times over, then slowly set his PDA down on his desk and sat back. He'd heard of Sergeant Kaplan, seen him around a few times, actually. The guy was supposed to be part of some squad that routinely dealt with the deepest, darkest secrets of the UAC. All rumors...or so he'd thought.
Watts felt a smile spreading across his face.
Maybe things were starting to look up.
He'd only heard the name Carmack in whispers.
Watts found himself wondering why he was going to see a scientist when he'd been hand-selected by a Master Sergeant. It didn't make much sense...then again, this was a UAC operation. As much as they might liked to believe otherwise, the UMC were not top dogs around here. He'd actually had to consult his map, which had been updated with a strict warning. Previously, about fifty or so percent of his map of Phobos Labs had simply been blanked out, since he didn't have proper clearance. Now only about thirty percent of it was blanked out, and the warning said that he was legally obligated to not show anyone this updated map who didn't have the proper clearance.
So now, here he was, standing in front of a sealed door that bore the name ADRIAN CARMACK, PH.D on the front in bold, black text that stood out in stark contrast to the polished silver titanium beneath it.
He'd been waiting for a few minutes now.
Abruptly, the door opened up.
"Come in, Corporal Watts."
Watts stepped inside and found himself looking at the good doctor. The man in charge of Phobos Labs. His office was...not very big, surprisingly. Though the wall behind him was made of floor-to-ceiling, unbreakable glass and showed the dismal, gray landscape of Phobos. The man himself sat behind a large desk of polished wood. That had to be expensive. Watts found that he had an immediate dislike of Carmack.
He wasn't entirely sure why. There was just something...sleazy about him. Maybe it was his too-long, greasy black hair or his slightly rat-like features or the fact that he wore a completely self-satisfied smirk.
"Reporting as order, Doctor Carmack," Watts replied, standing at attention but not saluting. He wasn't saluting this man, and not just because he was a civilian.
"Corporal Watts...I know this is a little unorthodox and I won't keep you. I know Willits and Kaplan will pitch a bitch if I do. But I try to make it a point to meet the men and women Willits selects for this...special project of ours. And, well, to take care of a simple legal matter, as well. I just like to know if I can see what he sees when he makes these selections."
"What do you see, Doctor?" Watts replied.
"Courage," Carmack murmured. "Some determination. Guilt. Disappointment. But you aren't stupid, at least. I can see that. And so can he..."
They stared at each other for a long moment. Behind him, the dead, colorless surface of Phobos remained utterly still.
"Well," Carmack said, slipping a piece of paper across the desk, "let's get on with it. This is essentially a legal document stating that everything you are involved in from here on out is considered code BLACK by the UAC and the UMC. Talking about anything you see to anyone who is not directly involved with this project is hazardous to your career. And possibly your health. This is a confidentiality agreement and if you break it, I promise you'll be thrown into a prison out on the Belt and you won't ever come back. Is that clear?"
"Good!" He slapped a thin, metal pen down on the paper. "Please sign."
Watts grabbed the pen, removed the cap, pressed the tip to the paper...and hesitated. But only for a second. It didn't matter what was on the other end of this secret. He needed to know, one way or the other. He couldn't abide sitting here, playing statue all day where nothing ever happened. So he signed the paper.
"Perfect. You can find Sergeant Kaplan and his squad waiting for you down the hall to the left in the armory. Hurry along."
Watts nodded, turned and left the room.
A thousand questions shot through his brain as he moved down the too-bright, chromium corridor, passing a few technicians and scientists too deep in their work to notice him, as well as a few men and women in green security armor standing guard. He recognized a few of them. Right now, he put all the questions aside.
Hopefully, there would be answers soon enough.
He found the armory Carmack had indicated and, after passing a thumbprint and retinal scan, he was allowed inside, where he found a little over half a dozen men and women gearing up for what looked like a serious mission.
"Corporal Watts, you've finally made it," one of the men, who he realized was Sergeant Kaplan, said.
"Yes, Sergeant," Watts replied, snapping to attention.
"Yeah, we don't got time for that." He pointed to the far corner of the room. "Your shit's over there. Suit up, grab your weapons, we're due in fifteen."
He marched across the room to the broad locker the man had indicating, passing several of the others there. He counted eight of them in total. They all looked pretty pro. All of them Marines. Real Marines, not the rejects they normally shipped up here. Or so he hoped. Whatever they were doing, it was obviously serious.
Putting aside his questions, he opened up the locker and found a suit of green environmental security armor. It was fresh, new and shiny, a variation on the combat gear he'd gotten used to. Definitely more sophisticated. It even had his name on the chest. He began pulling it on. He'd been trained on armor like this and knew his way around it. He also noted, as he suited up, that the armory was pretty fully stocked.
He'd seen rows and racks of guns, guns and more guns. Shotguns, pistols, heavy-ass chainguns. He'd even seen a few rocket launchers. Who the hell needed fucking rocket launchers in space? That seemed insane.
Not to mention, what were they planning on fighting that required rocket launchers?
But that was just another question to stow for later, or maybe never. The Brass never seemed to have any real compunctions about keeping the lower ranks in the dark, forever if they could manage it. Not that he entirely blamed them most of the time. There was generally a lot of good reasons to keep secret shit secret.
Of course, by that logic, it was all too easy to keep everything secret, including illicit activities.
Watts managed to get the suit on in five minutes. He also grabbed a pistol for his holster, a shotgun and several shells and magazines.
"Ready, Marines?!" Kaplan called.
"Ready, Sergeant!" all of them, including Watts, shouted back.
"Good, let's haul ass!"
Watts fell in line with the rest of them as they left the armory. They marched for about a minute before coming to one of the trams that connected the various buildings of Phobos Base. He wasn't sure why, but the nine main structures of the base were kept fairly far apart, connected only by trams. Maybe some kind of security feature.
Once they got settled into one of these trams and it was shooting off across the surface, Kaplan felt the need to get introductions out of the way.
"Corporal Watts, welcome to Hades Squad. Quick introductions. I'm Sergeant Kaplan. That there is my second, Corporal Fletcher. Our medics, Lance Corporal Bryant and PFC Rogers. Our tech-heads, Lance Corporal Wong and PFC Morris. And our two kids with guns, Privates Davis and Berry. You'll be replacing Corporal Cloud. Questions?"
"Yeah, what happened to Corporal Cloud?" Watts replied.
"Transferred," Kaplan replied.
It sounded like a lie, but he wasn't willing to press the issue. At least not right now.
"What will we be doing, Sergeant?" he asked.
"Shockingly, more of the same you've been doing. Standing guard, patrolling and, if you're unlucky enough, playing escort for some eggheads. It's not what we'll be doing that forced you to sign a 'talk and we'll boot your ass to the Belt' clause, Corporal, it's where we'll be doing it. Don't worry, you'll see soon enough. Just pay attention, listen to orders and you'll be fine."
"Yes, Sergeant," he replied.
Watts tried to make himself remember the names of all the people he'd just been introduced to, but, unfortunately, he could only really remember one of them right now, and that's because she was giving him a really suggestive look.
She had her helmet off at the moment and goddamn if she wasn't a picture perfect poster model. Under normal circumstances, he'd feel more than honored, and thrilled, to be getting that kind of look from her. The kind of look that a lot of Marine women seemed to perfect, it was a kind of no-bullshit, I'm interested in sex and not much else kind of look. Nor was it a look he got very often, either. He knew he was kind of goofy looking.
But right now…
Well, his dick was the thing that had gotten him thrown into space in the first place.
So, instead, he looked out the window. They had passed two other structures on the way to their destination. He knew about them from the million times he'd seen the generic map of the whole base. The first was Central Processing, whatever that was, then there was the Computer Station. And then, finally, up ahead, their destination, was the cryptically labeled Phobos Anomaly. There'd been all kind of speculation about it, most of it contradictory. Personally, Watts thought they had some kind of alien device or craft there.
Kind of like a contemporary Area 51.
Man, what a disappoint that had turned out to be after they finally opened it up to the public in 2097. He'd read whole books about the mystery back before then. People though there was all sorts of stuff in there.
The tram moved into a tunnel of dark metal, lit by rings of white light that gave the space beyond the windows a creepy atmosphere. It came to a halt as it locked into an airlock and was cycled through. As it passed through the other side, Kaplan spoke up.
"Helmets on, Marines! Time to look tough for the geniuses."
Watts snapped his helmet into place. There was a moment of claustrophobia, then he relaxed as the HUD came online and the soft whispering of the air conditioning kicked in. That helped, for some reason.
The tram slowed gently and finally came to a halt. Beyond the windows, he could see...just an ordinary tram station. It didn't look basically any different from the place they'd just left ten minutes ago. Well, except for the beefed up security, including several more guards and a pair of drone guns that hung from the ceiling.
Drone guns that tracked them as they stepped off the tram.
"Please halt and wait while your identifications are verified," a soothing, disembodied female voice said to them.
Watts held still. Those were big guns, and the guards didn't look too friendly either. They were wearing black armor and held Raptor SMGs. He recognized them, too, though only vaguely. He'd never actually figured out what was up with Z-Sec, or even if that's what they were really called. He'd seen them a few times around Phobos Base and Mars City.
"All personnel are identified and cleared. You may proceed."
"Let's go," Kaplan said.
Watts followed him and the others up a flight of stairs to an enormous door that reminded him of something that should be in a bank, or maybe a bunker. It was huge, solid and chromed. Despite its size, it didn't take long to slide into its niche in the wall, admitting them access to the room beyond. Which turned to be enormous.
"Holy shit," he whispered.
"Stow it, Corporal," Kaplan snapped, though there wasn't much venom in his voice. Probably everyone reacted like that the first time.
It wasn't just that the room was huge, it was what was in the center of it.
Watts had never seen anything like it before.
It sat in the middle of an immense room. It was like a centerpiece. Three huge, black metal rings were affixed to a central, circular platform of midnight black metal about twenty feet across. Light didn't reflect off of this metal, it seemed to fall into it somehow. This curious device seemed somehow...heavier, more there than everything else around it. It also struck a cold bolt of fear that shocked Watts' system.
He made himself relax, taking in the rest of the environment. The room itself was kind of like a coliseum, with the curious device in the middle and lowest portion of the room. Various workstations and all manner of scanning gear were built up around the gateway, each level higher than the last. On the highest level of all, where they stood currently, were about thirty soldiers in black armor. They looked intimidating.
"Yo, Doctor Duffy! We on schedule?!" Kaplan called, his voice echoing across the chamber. The general chatter going on slowly died off for a few seconds. One of the men in a white lab coat standing further down, on the first riser, turned to face him.
"Yes, Sergeant Kaplan, we're on schedule. The device is powering up now. If you would be so good as to come down here for scanning, we can begin."
"Roger that, doc!"
Kaplan set off down a case of metal stairs, towards the device. Watts and the others silently followed.
He couldn't stop staring at it.
One thing was for sure. He didn't know how or why, but he knew that the device was alien. Human beings did not build this. They came to stand on a metal platform, like a giant pressure plate, on the first raised ring.
"Assemble on the platform, Marines," Kaplan snapped.
Watts did as he was asked, more and more questions slowly filling his brain. It felt like it might burst soon. And standing this close to the strange, ringed thing was beginning to freak him out. As they stood there on the plate, a soft hum filled the air. After a few seconds, the doctor who'd spoken earlier, Duffy, spoke up again.
"All right, you're clear. Looks like you got the new guy in finally." He turned to face a pair of men in blue jumpsuits. "Power it up."
They both nodded and set to work, moving their hands slowly but surely across a huge workstation they stood behind.
All at once, everything changed.
Watts swallowed as a low hum filled the air. It was much more powerful than before, and deeper too, like a bass rumble. He could feel it in his bones. It was almost like a...growl. It made him sick to his stomach and made his fight or flight instinct kick in hard.
"Steady," a voice murmured in his ear. He looked around, paranoid suddenly, but then locked eyes with Fletcher. He realized she'd opened up a private comm channel between their suits. "It sucks the first time, but you can get through it."
"Thanks," Watts replied softly.
She nodded to him and he turned his attention back to the device. The rings were beginning to move. They were picking up speed. Darkness began to spill into the room, as though living shadows crept from every crack and crevice. The lights hummed and dimmed slightly, some of them flickered uncertainly. The rings were spinning faster now and even as he watched they began to spin so fast that they began dark, metallic blurs.
Something was growing at the core of the rings.
It was dark and shapeless and very difficult to see.
"Don't look directly at it," Fletcher warned quietly.
But it was hard to look away. His head began to hurt, a throbbing, cold ache that slowly began to consume his brain. Some part of him realized, at once, that she was right, he had to look away. With great difficulty, Watts closed his eyes. The pain receded. As it did, suddenly, there was a great pulse that made everything in the room shake.
Watts opened his eyes.
The rings had stopped moving, all of them lined up now, and there was a flat disc of perfect blackness within the center-most ring.
"All right, let's go!" Kaplan snapped. He'd lost some of his bravado.
It took a second, but Watts forced his feet to start moving with the others. Some of the light had returned to the room and the shadows didn't seem quite so deep, but he realized that they were actually going to walk into that thing.
What was it?
A portal to where?
As he stepped up to the liquid darkness, he realized he was going to find out.