Chapter XII – Hell’s Keep
The marine fell through the portal, spinning head over foot through thin strands of throbbing energy. He fell through an alien sky toward an unknown world, a large circle was below. An invisible force oriented him and guided him gently to the ground in the centre of the circle, Hell Knights and Cyber-demons could be seen in the area beyond. Looking around, he found himself in the centre of a circle of tightly assembled slabs of stone, energy from the portal continued to radiate upon him from above. He looked at the ground, ancient bones protruded from the dry dusty ground and eyeless skulls looked up at him, spewing a steam-like gas from below the ground. It was a hellish stonehenge that rose five stories high.
The marine walked out to explore the area but found he was being pushed back by some force. A breeze swept through his mind, a thousand voices called out to him. The voices were animalistic but seemed to imply a query.
“Why were we summoned?” the voices asked. The voices plucked the answers from his mind. The voices commanded a louder tone, “You have violated our sacred conduit” the screaming voices implied. The marine could feel the presence moving through him, the Cyber-demons began to slowly stomp around the outside of the structure, watching the marine with eyes of pure hatred.
“You are much like the other,” the voices said in a slithering voice, making the marines skin crawl. “Hell’s icon will consume you both” said the voices clearly. “Baphomet!” The name echoed through the area.
Before his eyes the hellish dimension began to fade and the Earthly realm appeared between the clouds of shifting atmosphere. The marine reached toward it, he stumbled and bumped his way through the rift. He stood in the centre of a free-way lined with crashed hover-cars. The imagery of destruction shocked the test-marine, being trapped in a computer simulation for so many weeks he had no idea that the demonic invasion had occurred. He rationalized that whatever he had been fighting on that Phobos hangar seemed to have made the Earth it’s new home at some point. How many of my people have perished? Surely, Earth’s forces can’t fight like he did on the hangar moments ago—Wait a minute, what happened on the hangar? How did I-? Explosions in the distance brought him back from his troubling thoughts. A very strange structure was in that direction, likely a stronghold for these monsters he thought. It looked like someone was fighting in that direction, he made his way toward the sounds of explosions. As he trekked along he soon saw some moving green light followed by a sound of imploding energy. Someone was in that direction was using a BFG 9000, whoever this person is they’re my new best friend, he thought to himself as he quickened his pace.
A few kilometres away, the other marine fought onward. Despite his enhancements from the mega-armour and a previous injection of the BSK serum while on Phobos he was getting fatigued. The constant onslaught of demonic invaders was unrelenting. His nano-enhanced chainsaw was slicing through several imps at a time, stinking carcasses trailed behind him. He pushed the saw against a demon’s head, a large slice of its scalp fell away, blood splashed freely. He spotted an Arch-vile, he heaved the plasma rifle and charged toward it. The Arch-vile shot a stream of fire after him, he ducked behind a car, firing burst from behind. The alien made a hideous roar in defiance and threw another volley of fire. The marine dodges and ran toward the alien.
The charred monster raised it’s clawed hand, poised to strike. The marine jerked the chainsaw, the blade flipped out and came to life. He cut off the offending arm and then thrust the saw through its chest and pulled it upward, the blade exited through the top of the alien’s skull, exposing steaming organs and splattering blood and bone. He heard the growls of more demons approaching, he kept his chainsaw at the ready as he continued along. He soon came across a mob of Lost Souls, a few shells from the shotgun shattered them to pieces. More of the flying skull monsters accompanied by Cacodemons and Pain Elementals attacked. The grotesque floating orbs were moving in a ‘vee’ formation. The marine gripped his shotgun and more Lost Souls fell to the ground in pieces. He was in the process of stashing the shotgun in favour of the rocket launcher, when an explosion ruptured against the side of one of the cacodemons, cratering that side of its bloated body, exposing mysterious organs. It fell to the ground with a splash of blue blood. Who could that have been? Surely the Echelon didn’t return he thought to himself.
Shrugging, he turned his sights on a Pain Elemental and let the rockets fly, he was hardly in a position to turn down the help. Lost Souls flew toward him and were shattered against his bare fists, one of them was kicked hard enough to send it high into the sky. He continued firing rockets at the remaining aliens accompanied by the efforts of the marine from the test chamber. He was firing a grenade launcher he got recently from a former human whom he promptly disarmed, (literally). The floating bloated freaks burst wildly under both of the marines co-ordinated attacks, sending chunks and blood flying.
They kept their distance and silently traveled to the demonic structure that was growing larger in the distance. They passed by scenes of destruction, buildings were reduced to rubble, impaled and burnt bodies of the marine’s countrymen scattered the city, and they had to climb around the rubble of an intersection that collapsed into the sewer tunnels below. Oh—and it smells like rotting s***, luckily the helmets of the mega armour filtered out the odour. Soon, they heard a low rumble coming from South-West. They moved toward the sound and, using the advanced functions of their helmet’s visor to scope out the source of the sound, they could make out an army of Hell Knights moving to intercept them.
“Get psyched” said the Phobos marine. They took their positions and fired at the aliens. The projectiles traveled two hundred meters before exploding against the targets leaving a small crater surrounded by blood, limbs and organs. The platoon of Hell Knights changed their direction slightly and moved toward the marines, throwing balls of burning plasma. They were covering behind a partially destroyed wall. The blobs of plasma sizzled against the bricks. The test-marine lobbed grenades over the wall, while the other blindly fired plasma from the corner.
The grenades killed off pockets of the platoon, the plasma slapped against the facing side. The Phobos-marine gripped his BFG and broke for more cover near-by. He then dashed closer to the aliens and took cover behind a toppled bus, his BFG was charging when he jumped onto it. The blob of convulsing energy flew through a pocket in the aliens’ formation. The resulting explosion decimated the surrounding Hell Knights, those that were closest to the explosion suffered complete disintegrated. The test-marines’ grenades provided support, the Phobos-marine jumped down and unleashed quick succession of rockets, defiant, the hell knight roared and threw plasma. Crack-boom. The test-marine’s grenades cut their frustrations short.
A horrible choir of alien voices sounded. Arch-vile emerged from the collapsing platoon, they immediately began using their mysterious abilities to resurrect the fallen Hell Knights, while others shot flames back at the marines. The Arch-vile raised their arms above the pathetic remains of the charred aliens as the remaining Hell Knights advanced on the marines. Light glowed brightly between the Arch-viles powdery, pale hands, chunks of burnt flesh began to bounce and roll toward them, ashy remains twirled through intricate swarms. The chunks and ash flared red brightly, it soon resembles churning flesh. An unimaginable sight of bubbling and stretching flesh quickly took the form of the alien reborn. The sight caused the test-marine to lift off his helmet and vomit loudly. The other marine shrugged, its not the kind of thing one would ever expect to see. He fired another BFG round, the green blob sailed toward the Arch-vile but was intercepted by a Hell Knight and detonated prematurely, the Arch-vile stood unharmed and attacking. The Phobos marine jumped out of the way just before flames engulfed the area.
The Arch-vile approached the demons who had recently fallen and resurrected them quickly, the Hell Knights sprang to life, tossing plasma. The scream of a chaingun sounded, lightning fast gunfire tore across the battlefield. The test marine emerged with fire in his eyes, the chambers on the gun turned wildly, another gift from the former humans. The Phobos-marine gripped his shotgun and advanced on the dwindling horde, he rolled to evade plasma, then took aim at a Hell Knight’s head. He fired, reloaded and fired again, the aliens skull blew apart, revealing its green brain. He then took to punching craters into the chests of the Knights, the gunfire drew the attention of the aliens. He drew close to an Arch-vile and unloaded his plasma rifle in multiple bursts at it’s head, which promptly turned to ash. The Hell Knights fell defeated, revealing the remaining Arch-vile, running madly. They were caught in the crossfire of plasma and bullets, they were soon wiped from existence. The victorious marines stood before the smouldering remains of thousands of aliens. The alien structure lay closer than ever, they wasted no time.