This story is in no way intended to infringe on the established copyrights and trademarks of ID Software. It is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended for sale. It may be freely distributed providing that no alterations to the story are made.

The characters and incidents portrayed and the names in this story used herein are fictitious and any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person, living, dead, or otherwise is purely coincidental and unintentional.

Yeah, right…


QUAKE:

PLAYER ENTERED THE GAME

by Eric J. Juneau

*RiNg*

*RiNg*

Phone ringing. What time is it? He thought as he blearily opened his eyes. There was a fuzzy 4:03 on his clock radio.

4:00! Dammit, this better be the president or something.

He struggled for the repetitive monotone behind the clock and picked it up.

"Hello?" he said quietly.

"Spike," the other end said, "We need you to get down here right away. It's extremely important."

"Can't it wait until after the sun comes up?"

"No. It can't." Click.

Spike didn't know who it was at the other end and he didn't really care either. At least not until he had some coffee.

I don't care if it's World War III, I need my coffee. Spike managed to pull the sheet covers off and a cold blast of air hit him. He groped around for the lamp light and put on the bathrobe he had dropped on the floor last night. The lamp turned on and a sharp pain hit him right between the eyes.

Damn, I shouldn't have gone drinking last night.

Lumbering around like an ogre he switched on his bathroom light to wash up. Little, tiny hairs grew out of his large jaw, his short black hair was mussed up and his eyes were bloodshot.

Of all the days why did they have to call me in today, or tonight I guess.

Holding his steaming cup of black coffee he opened the door to get the paper. A light, chilling burst of air hit him in his arms and feet. Spike winced as the gust hit him and quickly grabbed the paper. A light sheet of water covered it from the night's fall.

Spike dropped the paper on the kitchen table and opened up the fridge. It's sole contents were a half-filled two-liter bottle of Diet Coke, two beer cans left in a six-pack, and a few boxes of Chinese take-out. Not exactly a breakfast meal.

I should go grocery shopping tonight.

He shut the door. Spike returned to the kitchen table, took off the orange plastic bag the newspaper was in and opened it to the front page.

"U.S. seeks peaceful agreement with Israeli terrorists" Spike let forth an inward moan.

Peace, peace, peace. That's all we ever do. Haven't those jerks in congress ever heard of war? Wusses.

He scanned the headlines of the other articles as he sipped his coffee. An article on the rise of inner city crime. Something about army reservists. A boy scout troop. Nothing much worth his time.

*RiNg*

The phone again? Who…

He picked it up.

"Hello?"

"Haven't you left yet?! I said to get here five minutes ago, it's been forty." The voice at the other end was more gruff and louder now.

"I'm sorry sir, I'll leave right now," he said as he glanced at the clock on the coffee machine. 4:43.

"You better damn well leave right now or I'll have your ass in a sling!" Click.

I wonder when his last bowel movement was. Well, I guess I better hurry up.

Spike grabbed a thermos from the cupboard and poured his cup into it. Then he grabbed the coffee machine pitcher and poured its remaining contents into the canister. Screwing the cap back on he hurried out the door to his car.

I like driving at night, Spike thought as he rode down the freeway. No cars, no cops, nothing I need to worry about, I can just relax and go.

I better put a tape in or I'll start talkin' to myself.

Spike grabbed the cassette closest to him on the dashboard and popped it into his tape deck. The car was soon filled with the lugubrious tunes of Metallica.

Much better.

About halfway into the album he arrived at the Installation. Only seven or so windows were lit in this tall, white pillar of purity and truth.

Spike parked his car and entered the lobby. The U.S. emblem was painted on the shining, buffed floor.

Spike approached the secretary's desk, a dark-haired girl in a red dress looked up.

"Hi," she said sweetly. Her name tag told him she was called Heather.

"Hi," Spike replied quietly as he handed her his I.D. badge.

The girl scanned the card and Spike watched the monitor pop up with his entire life condensed to a few screens of info.

Playerson, Rick Christian; "Spike", "Skippy", "Scud"

I.D. Number: :26010

Security Clearance Level: 2

Date of Birth: 1/06/64

Weight: 235 lb.

Height: 6'1"

Sex: Male

Relatives: Father - Michael Ward

Mother - Josephine Landers

Brother - Kyle Lee Ward

Address: 6100 Mekunekud Circle

Home Phone Number: 555-2958

Class: D

Account Number: S-500-2C25W3

Work Extension: #4205

Room/Office: JW 201

Etcetera, etcetera…

"All right, Mr. Playerson, they're waiting for you in conference room two."

"Thanks." Spike walked to the elevator at the end of the lobby and pushed the button for floor two. Fortunately, it was a short trip so he didn't have to listen to the mundane muzak for long. The doors opened up and deposited him into a maze of cubicles. Many had Dilbert comic strips or artwork by their children tacked to the wall. This was only the second floor so all the "little trained minions" worked here in this sardine can. It was the dominion of all the scientific geniuses, carrying out their long-winded calculations on their computers.

Spike heard typing in a close corner of the labyrinth. Spike stretched over the fabric wall and saw the back of a woman's head typing away at a computer screen with rotating geometric shapes on it.

"Hey Angie," Spike said.

Angie turned around and looked up at him. She had short, blond hair that curled up under her ears and vivid green eyes. Some termed them 'water-cooler comrades' by the other employees, because they had no other connection. Spike was a military executive for the Installation and Angie was just another mathematic drone in a lab coat. But despite the differences in their jobs, they were the closest friends in the building.

"What're you doing here? They call you in early too?" Spike asked.

Angie rolled her eyes and scoffed, "No, I've been here since yesterday, I haven't gotten any sleep at all. They didn't even tell me why they had me stay. I've just been working and playing solitaire the last 24 hours."

"You look pretty good for not having sleep."

"I just thank god I remembered the No-Doze in my desk."

At the end of the hall a door opened and a thin man with round wire glasses and blond hair popped out and looked around.

"Hey, you two. Get down here, now!" he said as he noticed the two. He retracted his head into the dark room without another word.

"Who's that guy?"

"His name's Brian Bovonitch," Angie said. "He's one of those top scientists from England or Russia."

"Probably one of those guys trying to clone humans or build thinking computers."

"Exactly one of those guys," she agreed as they entered.

The conference room was not grand. The lights were turned out for a slide machine that was set up in the back.

There were only two other people in the room besides Angie and himself; the blond man who called out to them from the corridor and a large man Spike knew as his boss, Robert Paxton. He had a large beer gut and was smoking a cigar.

"Hey boss, I thought you quit smoking," Spike asked.

"I did," he replied.

"We have no time for idle chatter here," Brian said.

"All right," Paxton replied, "This is Brian Bovonitch. He's heading our secret project Alpha."

"What's secret project Alpha?" Spike asked.

"I'll get to that in a minute," Robert took another puff of his cigar. "I really don't know how to say this so I'll just say it. For the past two years the U.S. has been at war."

"Huh? War? With who?" Spike asked.

"How can we be at war for two years and not hear a word about it?" Angie asked.

"I'll let Brian handle this."

"I'll start at the very beginning," he said. Spike was beginning to notice a slight English accent in his voice. Brian went to the back of the room, grabbed his slide-clicker, and pressed it.

An image of archaeologists digging in sand with tents in the background was shown.

"About six years ago, archaeologists in Egypt uncovered a buried pyramid. This pyramid was found to be a sort of temple of science where their mathematics and astrology were conducted."

Click. A shot of people working inside the tomb with hieroglyphics and artifacts.

"As you know, the Egyptians were highly proficient in scientific advances."

"Yeah, I saw 'Stargate'," Spike interjected.

"I bet you wish you didn't," Angie whispered smilingly.

"May I continue?" Brian said sternly.

Click. A massive door with many hieroglyphic symbols.

"There was one part of the tomb that was sealed off tightly from the rest of the site. These glyphs mostly represent symbols of the Earth and danger to anyone who enters the room. We couldn't figure out all of them."

"Let me guess - you just blasted right in," Angie said.

"Yes, and we found this."

Click. An odd sculpture shaped like a circular horseshoe with a sharp vertical mark at the bottom, laying on the floor in a room totally filled with hieroglyphics.

"This rune was what we found, along with a multitude of indecipherable glyphs. They were copied and sent back here along with the artifact. For a year and a half our top Egyptologists and glyphologists tried to decipher the symbols. What they were able to find astounded us."

Click. A cryptic blueprint for some kind of machine.

"It was an instruction manual. For a new type of transportational matrix. We called it a slipgate. Once we perfected these, we were able to transport people and cargo from one place to another instantly. We've put them in just about every major military installation in the U.S. Our first tests showed that matter placed in the transporter goes to a state of flux of about .5 ampoules. This makes the atoms more air-soluble and thus…" Brian began to drone on about the slipgate's specifications, oblivious to anything else.

Spike pounded his fist on the table, "Hey Poindexter, I'm going to sleep over here, you wanna speed it up?"

Brian gave an angry look and cut short his speech. "Anyway," he continued, "The important part is the rune we found."

Click. The rune again, only this time it was brighter, giving off a glow. "Once we began to use the slipgates more and more the rune seemed to start giving off some sort of energy. Nothing like what we've seen before on Earth."

"Then one day, we were shipping some test cargo to another slipgate in NORAD and it didn't come back. After a great deal of searching we discovered it had not ended up on anywhere on the planet. To cut to the chase, we discovered a new realm, possibly opened up to us by the rune, we're not sure, but our first duty was to send a scout in.

Click. A small, robotic machine with spidery legs and cameras on it.

"To test the slipgate we sent in JO-JO - a scouting robot made by NASA to record and send back information. We worried at first that it wouldn't be able to send out it's data, but we found that if we set it's point of receiving at the slipgate we could receive it back here."

Click. "This was the first picture we got back," Brian said.

Three large stone arches leading to three portals, one a walkway over water, the middle a metal plated track, the third a broken bridge over bubbling lava. At the top of the arches, engraved in the stone, was a five-letter word.

"Does that say 'Quake'?" Spike asked.

"Do they speak English?" Angie added. "Hey, that 'Q' looks like the rune."

"Of course they don't speak English!" Brian exclaimed. "If you would be quiet, I could explain. Now, we think that this doesn't actually mean to say 'Quake', it's just a coincidence. Some of their character glyphs just look like our alphabet."

"Pretty big coincidence."

"In any case, it's what we codenamed this place: Quake."

Brian clicked several more times, showing photos taken from the land. Their contents consisted of depressing imagery; polluted slime water, sickly gray-green grass, buildings covered with filth, and convoluted, torn-out machine insides exposed to the air.

"We were able to use JO-JO to take pictures for about fifteen minutes. Then we only started getting back blank screens, we don't know what went wrong though. Our next mission was to send an organic subject."

Click. An Akita dog strapped with electronics being led by someone.

"Fido went in a month after JO-JO's excursion with a video camera on his collar. From this, we got significantly more data. You can see the electronics on his back were designed to monitor his life signs. Oddly, they became stronger than before, possibly due to something in this environment. It means that if Fido was hurt in some way he would be able to endure longer. Unfortunately, it didn't help him any."

Click. A view from the ground showing a grisly picture of a Rottweiler feasting on the carcass of Fido. Angie grimaced in disgust.

"…he ran out of time.

"This was the first sign of animal life we discovered. After we showed this picture to our superiors they became extremely apprehensive about the mission and we experienced some setbacks. Our funding was cut and the slipgates were decommissioned in all installations. It took a while until we convinced them that it was in their best interest to continue using them and for us to continue our research on the new realm. Next, we decided to send in a human exploration team to make up for lost time."

Click. Picture of five people dressed in enviro-suits.

"These were our finest explorers, led by Colonel Norman Katrall. Their mission was to collect as much information on the environment as possible. We found that the air has 62% nitrogen, 35% oxygen, and 3% other elements we couldn't identify, but those appear to be semi-toxic. The water is mostly stagnant, unsupporting of life, and the soil was the most surprising find because it was completely infertile, totally dead, rendered so from the air and water. But the thing we can't figure out is how there can be animal life without plants. We theorized that all animals were forced to become carnivorous at some point in their evolution, and are constantly feeding on each other in a constant cycle."

"Did the team encounter any animal life, like Fido?" Angie asked.

"No, which was unfortunate because we could not get any animals to study."

"Yeah, real unfortunate," Spike added.

"After twelve hours, we had them return."

"How'd they get home? Same place they came in?" Spike asked.

"Precisely, our men returned safely without being attacked, in fact without meeting any previously seen hostile forms of life at all. Our next mission consisted of trying to communicate with these people, to try to understand their world, how it worked and so forth."

Click. A group of ten individuals, six men, four women, posing for a group photo in front of an American flag. They were wearing helmets and their respective military uniforms.

"This is the Alpha team - our trump players, led by Colonel Katrall again, in the middle there. Second officer Major Osmond who served two terms in Vietnam and Desert Storm. Dr. Lanford-"

"It's all right, Brian, they don't need to know about these people."

Brian gave Paxton a mean look and started again. "Anyway, the team included archaeologists and sociologists, and trained mediators because this was the mission in which they were going to attempt to make first contact.

"Did they find anything?" Spike asked.

Paxton pulled out a tape recorder from under the table and pressed play. "Yeah, they found something."

-This is Lt. Cartwright reporting. We have just found a citizen of this realm. He looks human, shaped like one. He is standing approximately twenty feet away from us with his back turned. Dr. Bolanski and Mr. Ford are now approaching him slowly… now Mr. Ford is speaking to the man. He is turning

*BOOM*

Get down! Get down, hide!

Oh my god! Oh my god!

Everybody get down

*blam*blam*blam*blam*blam*

*BOOM*

Unnh

He got Reynolds, my god, he got Reynolds

Get me the Rosebush, for Christ's sakes, get me the rose-

He's coming, get down!

Fire! Fire!

SZCRKKKSCZRKKKK

He's down, no he's-!

SZCRKKKSCZRKKKK

Oh my god!

Did anybody-

Click. Paxton shut off the tape.

"I guess it wasn't exactly a successful first contact," Spike said.

"No kidding. From then on we ordered the team to stay away from the people. They were only to take pictures when they could, and gather sociological info from observation. We learned that the people we encountered are drones, subordinate to some sort of mother creature named 'Shub-Niggurath'."

"The society acts just like a beehive, with soldiers, workers, etcetera - mindless automatons living only for their queen and defending her at all costs."

"Where is the team now?"

Paxton sighed, "We lost contact with them, after five days, we have no idea what's become of them."

"No mission to go in after them? God, you stupid sons of bitches. Who's running this military?" Spike asked.

Brian said, "We didn't have the chance to send in reconnaissance. Before we knew it, Quake was using their own slipgates to insert death squads inside our bases to kill, steal, kidnap…"

"The hell of it is," Paxton interrupted, "We have no idea where they're from. Our top scientists think Quake's not from Earth or our universe, but from another dimension. They say Quake's preparing to unleash their real army, whatever that is."

"And that's the war that's been going on," Spike concluded.

"Yep, that's about it," Paxton took another long puff of his cigar.

"I shouldn't have left my coffee in the car," he said as he rubbed his forehead. "So where do I come in?"

"And me," Angie added.

Paxton showed no emotion as he pulled out a folder labeled "CONFIDENTIAL" in red from under the table. "You're our best man. This is Operation Counterstrike and you're in charge. Find Shub-Niggurath and stop him… or it… You have full authority to requisition anything you need. If the eggheads are right, all our lives are expendable…

"Angie, you're our expert on slipgates, find out what makes theirs tick and untick them. If we can block his way in-"

"Even if it means we get stuck in Quake?"

"Like I said, all our lives are expendable."

"Forget coffee, now I need some vodka," Spike commented.

"Don't worry, Spike. We'll be outfitting you with the best the military has to offer."

Spike opened the folder. First was the cover sheet, table of contents, all the boring legalese. Why can't they just say what they have to say.

"Could you just give me the gist of it."

Paxton gestured Brian over. Brian gave an annoyed look and sat down at the table. "This is all the info we have that you'll need to make it through to Quake's heartland. It contains detailed information on the environmental areas, vegetation, animal life, culture, political structure, defense systems, and detailed information on slipgates should either of you be... incapacitated."

"You mean killed."

"That too."

"Y'know," Spike threw in antagonistically, "You could just say 'in case you get killed', instead of a word with twenty syllables."

"Watch it, guys," said Paxton, "Brian's graduated from three Ivy League colleges with Ph.D.'s in each, so I wouldn't make fun."

"I would."

"Let's just get back to the briefing."

"I bet you got a Ph.D. in getting wedgies too."

Angie smirked. Brian's face turned red, with rage or embarrassment, Spike couldn't tell.

"Mr. Playerson," he said calmly. "I would appreciate it if you would refrain from interrupting the briefing further."

"Fine, don't let me stop you from sending me to the jaws of gruesome death."

Paxton tore off the cover paper in the folder, unveiling a picture of the outside of a Quake construction.

"Quake has four basic areas you'll have to disable, the Dimension of the Doomed, the Realm of Black Magic, the Netherworld, and the Elder World."

"Nice names."

"We thought it was better than "Fuzzy Bunny Land". In each of these areas, there are various structural buildings or houses that Quake relies on. These places act as strongholds for the soldiers. Slipgates can be found in them too. That's how you and your men are going to do this. Attack and move, attack and move, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, you get me?"

"Yep,"

"Angie, as Spike clears the way, you'll be disabling the slipgates so you can't be followed. Your weapon specialist will be in charge of offensive tactics, your communications officer will take care of contact between you and us, you'll have a medic, navigator, sciences, the whole shebang. Like we said, you'll be outfitted with the best."

Spike turned page after page, skimming briefly the condensed biographies and statistics of his team. He would have plenty of time to read them later. He came to a picture of a grid displaying eight types of guns.

"This is my favorite part, the weaponry. From what we've found, the enemies in Quake are especially resilient to the weapons we take for granted here. Fortunately, our top scientists were able to come up with a few delights. On the top are a shotgun and double-barreled shotgun. They'll be your primary mission weapons, they were given to all members of the Alpha team. Next are the nail guns, they were discovered in Quake by the Alpha team. Very badass weapons, fire nails rapidly, but use a lot of ammo. Then there're the grenade launcher and rocket launcher. They both use some kind of explosive missiles that detonate on impact."

Spike flipped the picture and a large, sleek, three-pronged gun was shown before him.

"This is the prototype Thunderbolt Rifle. Codenamed the Rosebush Waterer after its creator, General H.W. Rosebush. It fires a beam of pure electric energy. Great for slicin' and dicin'."

"Now that's what I call a gun," Spike said in awe.

"Don't get too excited. We only created one and gave it to the Alpha team. If they're out of commission, we're hoping you'll pick it up and use it."

Spike turned to the next picture.

Flip. A black dog similar to the animal seen in the slides. Its mouth stained with blood.

"All right, these are the enemies you'll be facin'. This one's a Rottweiler, not very powerful, just take 'em out before they get a chance. The grunts send them out as sacrificial scouts, not that it makes them any less dangerous, and once the dogs have scouted the territory the soldiers go in with guns blazing. They usually collect in twos and threes."

Flip. A soldier holding a large shotgun and wearing dirt-ridden brown & green clothes and an cadaverous, blood-stained mug.

"These ugly asswipes we call Grunts, Quake's little trained minions, not much power, but they have big guns, some of them even have lasers, we call those Enforcers."

Flip. Close up picture of a thin man holding a bloody sword.

"Ah, this guy we call a Knight. He doesn't have any projectile weapons, but he's fast and quick with a sword, best to take them out at long range."

Flip. An underwater picture of a brown-red fish with large teeth.

"You may have to go in water at some point, so we included this Rotfish in the briefing. They're the only creatures that live underwater. Alone, they're not much, but if you're surrounded by them, it's time to get out of the pool."

Flip. A picture of two rotting, decayed corpses with fleshy, bloody bits of meat hanging out all over them.

"Ugh, these guys are called zombies. We have not found a way to kill them permanently. They just seem to keep popping back up. They travel in packs a lot. Get this, they attack you by pulling out chunks of their flesh and chucking it at you."

"Ick," Angie said.

"Listen for a moaning sound if you get near these guys."

Flip. A fuzzy picture of a beefy, burly man holding a chainsaw.

"We called these guys Ogres. Lots of them in Quake. They attack with a chainsaw and a grenade launcher. Move around a lot if you get in a firefight with one of them."

Flip. A shot of looking up at a squat creature with beady, yellow eyes, big, sharp teeth in a blood-stained mouth, and arms that tapered to sharp points at the end.

"This is the last one, called a Fiend. They're slow on the ground, but jump like super-rabbits and attack by slashing at you with their arms. Heaven help you if you get taken by surprise by one. Best to attack them from far away or snipe them from above."

Flip. Very unclear photograph. In the corner of the picture there was a gigantic set of yellow teeth that took up half the head space. It was like his face was a hood covering his jaw.

"We don't know what that thing is, but its large and dangerous. In general, just take out anyone who looks like shit," Paxton concluded. Spike reached the final page and closed the folder.

Brian came to life again. "In the interest of time I think we should get moving to the utility room to show you your other tools." Paxton nodded and stood.

Spike let out a long sigh and pushed back his swivel chair to get up. Angie did the same. The four exited the conference room and took a right turn to the elevator Spike had used moments before. Paxton pushed the button marked "B2".

"You never told me you were working on the slipgates," he said to Angie.

"It was classified. I couldn't tell you. Besides I didn't help build it, I just spent a lot of time working out the bugs, that's how I know so much."

"Guess a level two classification doesn't mean much anymore."

"I wish this whole damn thing never happened. I never thought we'd be at war for two years over these things and no one knows about it. And now we have to go in and fix it. It's ridiculous."

"No, this Operation Counterstrike is ridiculous. Sending seven guys to stop a war. I'm not a leader, I work best alone. And these Quake dudes don't want us messing up their neighborhood. We should just destroy all our slipgates while we can."

"That would be a tactical error," Brian said from behind, "The slipgates are responsible for the coordination of our troops, shipment of supplies and cargo, all capable in an instant - to do away with them would be an extreme disadvantage."

"We're at war because of those things! People are dying and you don't want to give them up because it's easier."

"If the country is attacked we can respond in a matter of minutes at full strength."

"Yeah, while we're getting our ass kicked by this alien army. We're really at full strength then."

"It is vital to national security that we keep the slipgates in operation."

"And it's vital to my life that we shut them down!"

"Guys, we're here," Paxton interrupted, before a fight broke out.

Spike, Angie, and Brian entered.

The utility room was huge, like a laboratory. Paxton led them to a table in the middle of the room. He picked up a helmet and held it up.

"This is the translator helmet. Make friends with it, it's an essential part of your mission." Paxton handed it to Spike, "Try it on."

Spike took it and fastened it to his head. Paxton reached over and touched part of the helmet. Spike heard a faint whirring and a small window popped down in front of his eyes, partially obscuring his vision. A little white cursor flashed at the lower left corner.

"What's this?" Spike asked.

"This is your console, it's how you keep in touch with us and you can analyze your data and interpret the language."

"Does it work?" Angie asked.

"I don't know. Say something in another language," Spike answered.

"Um, los gatos… beben la leche bien."

Nothing.

"It's not-"

:::*THE CATS… DRINK THEY THE MILK GOOD*:::

"What th', what did you say? I got something about cats and milk in here."

"I think I said the cats drink the good milk. It's been a while since I've had Spanish."

"Well it seems to be working in any case." Paxton held up a thin, plastic, shiny body suit. "This is a biosuit. All of the water in Quake is toxic, you might need one of these to get around in. They've got a supply of air, but the problem is that the water is so acidic they eventually degrade and disintegrate."

REEEE REEEEE REEEEE REEEEE REEEEE

Red lights began flashing throughout the complex while a brilling siren echoed in the halls.

"What the hell…" Spike muttered.

"My God. It's Quake," Brian said.

"The slipgate! He's used our own slipgate, the bastards."

"You mean there's a slipgate here, too?!" Spike yelled.

Paxton ignored him, ran for the wall, and grabbed the phone.

"Code one, code one, all non-essential personnel evacuate the building immediately. Repeat, all non-essential personnel evacuate the building." He pressed a different button. "All military personnel report to basement C for Operation Counterstrike on the double."

Damn, Spike thought, Quake must've heard about Operation Counterstrike and hit first.

"We don't have much time, let's move." Paxton ran to the elevator and the others followed him.

"Now where are we going?"

"While our soldiers fight Quake's soldiers we're going in the back way. Sorry we didn't give you more time to prepare."

"Wait, we're going in now?!"

Paxton nodded.

"You've got to be kidding! We can't go in now! We're not ready!"

"If we don't strike now we've already lost." The elevator doors opened. Paxton led them down the hall a ways, then bent down to open a panel in the floor. He began climbing a ladder down into a dark tunnel. Brian, Angie, and Spike followed. They descended for what seemed like forever as the sirens began to fade from their ears.

What the hell am I doing, following these idiots into who knows where. Why can't I just stay in bed on days like these.

Spike joined the others at the bottom of the ladder. Now they were in a dimly lit stone tunnel, under the Installation.

"OK, now what, Einstein?" Spike asked.

"The slipgate should be at the end of this hallway," Paxton said.

"No, you fool, it's the other way," Brian piped up.

"I don't think so. That's the main entrance, that's where our soldiers are fighting."

"Precisely, they'll cover our descent into the slipgate."

"But this way will-"

"We go this way," Brian said with finality.

"Brian, don't go that way, you don't know the Installation's-"

"Oh, excuse me. Just because I graduated from Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford then I can't tell where I'm going."

A Grunt came up behind Brian, cocked, and blew his head off.

"Aaaaaah, shit!" Paxton screamed.

As Brian's headless body slowly tumbled over, Spike instinctively rushed the Grunt and smashed him across the head with a right hook, left hook, and uppercut, knocking him out. Paxton and Angie rushed over.

"You all right?"

"Damn," Spike shook his fist out, "Thing feels weird, like all spongy and squishy."

Spike prodded the Quake citizen with his foot to see if he was down for the count. Seeing no reaction, he reached down to pick up the soldier's shotgun.

Suddenly, the Grunt grabbed his wrist.
"Aaaaaaah, get it off me, get it off me!" The Grunt bared his green-yellow, dirt-ridden teeth as he sat up, but Spike sharply kicked him in the head. Still the soldier wouldn't fall.

In one smooth motion, Angie picked up the shotgun and pumped a round into the Grunt. The man spun to the floor, another shot took him down.

"Whoa, nice shot, Angie."

Angie shrugged. "You learn a few things when you grow up in Alabama." She took the lead. Seeing no other of Quake's minions she proceeded down the murky passage. At the end of the tunnel they could see a large open door leading to the slipgate.

"Go! Go!" Paxton hurried them down the hall, trembling. Angie, Spike, and Paxton ran down the hall as the sirens grew louder. Angie held the shotgun close to her in ready position.

Suddenly, an explosion blew out the side of the hallway, bricks and smoke flew everywhere. The spinning front end of a chainsaw emerged out of the debris. The high pitched whirring equaled the sirens as it sliced through the smoke. The three were frozen with terror, but Angie was still able to aim the shotgun properly.

Out came a grotesque, fleshy man holding a chainsaw in one hand and a big gun in the other. It was an Ogre.

Angie shot immediately, but the Ogre took no notice and gave the chainsaw a full cross swing; Paxton jumped back to the wall just in time to miss getting sliced across the belly.

Spike looked around for a weapon or something to fight with. At the end of the passage he saw a red box attached to the wall. He ran to it.

Angie continued shooting at the hideous monster as it moved closer to Paxton. Sweat droplets were running down the boss' neck as he shakily reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small revolver. The Ogre looked at it for a moment, lowered his chainsaw and raised the gun. A grenade popped out and flew at Paxton. As it made contact the boss' body burst apart into a mass of blood and entrails.

Angie shielded her face with her arm as Paxton's human elements sprayed across the room. The Ogre slowly turned to her and raised his weapon.

Suddenly, an axe came down on the Ogre's neck, embedding in the flabby hunk of flesh, the Ogre bellowed as dark blood began to flow out. Spike tore the axe off the neck as the monster turned to face him. He held the axe over his head and swung down hard. The sharp blade cleaved the Ogre's head in two, split down the middle. Spike ripped out the weapon as the hulking monster fell down lifeless… or whatever it was before.

"You all right, Angie?" Spike looked up. Angie's white lab coat was covered in blood, dripping rivulets from her fingers.

"I'm… I'm just great," she said, staring blankly.

At the end of the hall, a rasping groan echoed from behind them. The two looked up and saw a battalion of Quake soldiers coming at them.

"Damn, that Quake bastard works fast! The place is overrun."

Angie ran up and grabbed the grenade launcher from the Ogre. "Get to the slipgate, I'll hold them off."

"I'm not going to leave you-"

"Do it - NOW!" Angie yelled as she fired off a shot.

Spike realized now wasn't the time to argue, but he couldn't leave Angie alone in the line of battle. On the other hand, if he didn't go now, the Earth would be doomed. Spike turned around and ran off, suppressing his emotions.

"Hey!" Angie shouted.

Spike turned back around and Angie tossed him her shotgun. "Close the door behind you," she said solemnly.

Spike didn't even nod, he just ran as fast as he could. He heard the sounds of explosions and gunfire and splattering body parts as he raced to the exit. Just as he passed under the gate he hit the control panel next to it, the door screamed of tortured metal as it came down just as he slipped through. The sounds of the battle stopped - the door was soundproofed. If Angie was in trouble, or dead, he wouldn't know now.

Am I the only survivor?

Spike suppressed his feelings and looked around. He was in the room with the slipgate, deep in the heart of the Installation. It was eerily quiet.

Why aren't any of Quake's troops coming through. Did he send them all?

Suspecting a trap he walked up to the slipgate. It was standing on several raised platforms, one on top of the other, like a pyramid.

God, why does it have to be so damn quiet. I don't need this right now. Somebody put on Metallica or something. Wait, wait, calm down, take a pill, you're gonna start talking to yourself again.

And then he saw it. Spike was on the second step to the slipgate when he saw it across the room, sauntering, pacing in one little spot in the corner. It was like a hairless dog/gorilla thing. Long, gangly arms that tapered to sharp blades dragged along the ground as it moved.

It's a Fiend, he thought. You know, I think I can take him out from here. Spike held the shotgun as carefully as he could along his eyeline like a sniper, waited until his target's back was turned and fired. The Fiend turned around, stared at him a moment with it's beady yellow eyes and jumped forward twenty feet at him.

Holy crap!

Spike tried to get another shot off, but surprise caught him, the shot went wide as the monster darted forward. Spike stumbled backward and fell from the platform, rolling down to its base. The Fiend jumped at him again as he lay prone on the ground. This is it, I'm dead, Spike thought as the monster raised his sword-arm.

Suddenly, it fell back as blood and smoke sprayed outward. Spike looked to his left and saw a collection of Grunts standing in the main doorway. Some of them held laser rifles and one had his aimed at the Fiend.

The wounded beast leapt over Spike at the troops and slashed away at his fellow comrades. Another Grunt shot and the Fiend took him down too. A chaotic battle ensued. All of Quake's soldiers were firing at each other like sharks in a feeding frenzy.

They hate each other as much as they hate us, Spike thought. They have a weakness. Spike stood up and turned back to the slipgate with new vitality. Operation Counterstrike is over, except for me. Since Quake's killers came through its still set to his dimension. Maybe I can get loose in his hometown, get to the asshole personally.

Spike checked his shotgun, 25 shells. Hopefully, he'd find more weapons in Quake. Some of those badass BFG's Brian yammered on about.

The hum of the slipgate grew louder as he approached, data displays and blinking lights surrounded it.

Spike pumped a round into the shotgun and got moving.