A New Freeware IWAD Project for DooM
The Story So Far:
The year is 2172, and space travel within the solar system has been common for about fifty years now. Mars and the Moon have been settled, and large mass driver propelled mining ships regularly move among the asteroids.
You are a member of a small deep space salvage team operating in the vast region of space between Jupiter and Saturn. The cost of fuel to get out here is enormous, and it takes months of travel time before work can even begin, but there is still enough good stuff out here to earn a little money, and make things worth while.
“What day is it?” you ask, as if it makes any difference out here.
Yuri bounces his pen on the end of a rubber band a few more times, then lazily takes a look at his watch.
“It is August the twenty–fifth,” he says in his thick Ukrainian accent. “It is Tuesday, I think.” He then leans his head back, and rests his eyes in the half stupor experienced by the vast majority of people on long deep space missions.
You decide to settle down too. Your next shift doesn’t begin for another few hours, and there really is not much more you can do, except sleep until then.
Just as your face squashes down onto your pillow, the shrill sound of your cabin’s door buzzer jars you awake. Yuri struggles to get up from his chair, but you manage to jump down from your bunk and reach the hatch first. Maggie—all 4' 9" of her—steps through. You give her a dirty look for waking you up, while Yuri feigns a strangling motion with his hands.
Maggie looks at you and says, “I’m sorry guys, but the skipper wants you up on the bridge right away. I think we’ve found something big!”
You take a moment to pull on your overalls and boots, and glance quickly in the mirror to see if you look as wretched as you feel, then follow the little woman up to the bridge. The skipper addresses you and Yuri instantly as you arrive.
“We picked up a signal less than half an hour ago. It was extremely weak. We barely picked it up over the normal background radiation.” The skipper pauses a moment, then continues in a quieter tone, as if telling a secret, “We think it might be from the Leviathan.”
The Leviathan. There are very few people who haven't heard about that ship. It was one of the largest warships ever built—over two kilometres long, with enough fuel to keep it in space for years at a time. Its mission was to keep the peace. There were, and still are, many splinter colonies around the solar system, and many of those were run by militias or extremist cults. It was not uncommon for some of these colonies to declare holy war from time to time, either on each other, or on the Earth itself, and start yet another round of attacks and raids.
It was fifteen years ago, when an unknown attachment of ships attacked one of the outer colonies, that the Leviathan was sent on its last mission. As the closest ship in the area, it immediately took off in pursuit of the raiders. The pursuit went on for several weeks, as space pursuits usually do, out beyond the outermost colonies to the region around Saturn, then, without explanation, the Leviathan simply disappeared.
U.E.A. vessels searched the area for months, but nothing was ever found; not the ship, not the raiders, and not even wreckage. It was as if the Leviathan had never even existed. In the end it was decided that Leviathan must have fallen into Saturn’s gravitational influence, and been pulled down into its atmosphere, never to be seen again.
You step into the radio station, and start listening. Normally, the task of detecting signals is left to the computer, but not this time. For the next several hours you sit, intently listening for even the slightest pop or crackle that could be what you are looking for.
It is half way into the next shift when you finally hear something, soft and faint, but definitely there. You immediately turn all receivers towards it. Maybe you can get a good fix on where it is coming from, and boost its strength.
The radio bleeps and crackles. You and your colleagues strain hard to hear what it says, while Yuri tries clean up the signal enough for the computer to translate it. Three short bleeps, followed by a long ten second whine repeats over and over again—a definite distress beacon, then a series of numbers ...
C ... V ... N ... 3 ... 1 ... 8 ... 6 ... H ... B
A strange mix of emotion comes over the bridge. Half the crew begins to whoop and holler with excitement, and the others turn pale as if each of them has seen a ghost.
The skipper was right. It is Leviathan.
For the next ten days you follow the tenuous signal. Great anxiety sets in amongst the crew as the signal disappears, only to begin again a few days later. Saturn, which had been a pea sized dot before, now looms large in the bridge’s view ports.
“I think I have located the source of the transmission,” says Maggie, busily scratching calculations on a piece of paper. “I think the transmission is coming from Titan.”
“Titan,” you say. “That would explain why they never found it. The atmosphere is so thick with hydrocarbons, it would take a miracle to get any kind of scan of the surface. Even finding a ship that size down there would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, especially if that haystack happened to be in the middle of a tornado.”
Yuri continues, “It is probably why nobody has ever heard the distress beacon before. The ship has been transmitting it for years, but this is probably the first time the clouds have thinned out enough for the transmission to get through.”
The skipper grins. “This is the big one,” he says. “If we’re right about this, we’re all going to retire rich.”
It takes another two days to enter into orbit around Titan. You, Yuri, and Maggie do your best to pinpoint the source of the signal. The atmosphere makes it difficult, but you manage to narrow it down to a one hundred square kilometre area.
“Well somebody’s got to go down there,” says the skipper. “We can't very well send down the whole crew, until somebody can figure out exactly where we need to go.”
The skipper then gives you that look you have seen dozens of times from him before, and you know damned well who he is going to send.
Yuri is already in his E.V.A. suit. He never seems to have any trouble getting it on. You, on the other hand, have never become used to the myriad of layers, hoses, and seals. The part you hate the most is the “Liquid Waste Removal Interface”, a shallow bell like appliance, which you are forced to thread through a slit in your undergarment and secure over your genitals with a garter. You know it is an essential piece of equipment. It is the only way to remove the urine that you must inevitably produce during the long hours you will have to spent inside the E.V.A. suit, for you cannot simply drop your breeches in space. Still, in spite of the fact the uncomfortable little bell syphons every unwanted little drop of moisture away from your body, you will probably never get over the embarrassing feeling that you are wetting yourself.
“What have you got that for?” asks Yuri, motioning towards the push dagger on your belt. “It is not like there is anything fight against when we get down there.”
“That’s what they said the time we went on board the Celesta Colony Station,” you reply, “and you remember what happened there?”
“Jackson was almost beaten to death,” Yuri responds. “Yes. I remember.”
The two of you enter into the drop ship. The hangar bay depressurizes, and the bay doors open. The great orange ball that is Titan appears below you in the dusky twilight of the outer solar system. You spend the next three hours descending towards the surface along your pre-programmed flight path, fishtailing the craft back and forth to slow your descent.
Once on the surface, you begin searching for signs of the Leviathan, using flares to light up the murky dark of the gigantic moon, and taking advantage of the extra speed afforded you by the actuators in your E.V.A. suits. It takes little more than an hour for you to find your first piece of debris, and only minutes after that, you find something that silences you with awe. An immense debris field appears before you, stretching towards the horizon. Yuri sends up a flare, and the two of you start scanning the surrounding area with your field glasses. Then you find it, the Leviathan, its pale grey form contrasting against the black hydrocarbon rock, its aft end crushed, but the bulk of it intact.
You rush to his side. He is crumpled over, wincing in pain. A deep gash on his left arm penetrates all the layers of his E.V.A. suit, and a small trickle of blood surrounds the area, quickly freezing in to a patch of red brown sandy crystals. Much of the wound is covered with a strange yellow powder. Wasting no time, You quickly take the emergency binding tape from your hip pouch, and use it to seal the tear in the E.V.A. suit. Some of the skin may already be frost bitten, but at least now it won’t get any worse.
“What happened?” you ask.
“I am not sure,” says Yuri, slowly rising to a sitting position. “I was standing next to that strange rock formation, and it just exploded.” He points at a nearby rock with a sack like entity, with a large rupture in it, hanging on to the side.
You begin to think out loud, trying to come up with an explanation for what just happened. “Much of what is down here is frozen or liquid hydrocarbons,” you say. “What little amount of heat there was leaking from your suit must have been enough to make something in that formation to boil, causing it to burst.
“How do you feel?”
“It hurts like a son of a bitch,” say Yuri, “but I can still move my fingers, so it can not be all that bad.”
You help the Ukrainian up to his feet, and make your way back to the drop ship. “With that injury,” you tell Yuri, “you had better be the one to go back up to the ship. You can get your arm stitched up, and you can guide the others down to a spot closer to the site of the wreck.”
Yuri nods in agreement.
“Don’t worry about me,” you assure him. “I'll just set the navigation beacons up for you, and spend a little time exploring the debris field.
“I’ll see you in a few hours.”
The drop ship blasts off, and you head back out towards the debris field. After dropping the navigation beacons in the standard pattern near the edge of the debris field, you start to look around to see what you can find.
At first you take no notice of them. You assume that the tall, brightly coloured cylinders are merely containers that were spilled from the Leviathan as it crashed, but then you start to notice the large number of them, the evenness with which they are placed, and the fact that they are all standing upright. They are not debris. They have been intentionally set in place—warning markers.
You begin to pry off the cover of one of the markers to access the message inside, when you begin to hear what sounds like a moan.
You can barely see the outline of a man about 100 metres away in the dim light. “Could this be a survivor?” you ask yourself. As the figure stumbles closer, the hair begins to rise on the back of your neck. Something is very wrong. The temperature is almost minus 200 degrees Celsius, and the atmosphere is toxic to humans, and yet there appears to be no E.V.A. suit on this person. He continues to limp and stagger towards you, and you begin to see the chalk grey skin and white cue ball eyes of a corpse. The expressionless face is fixed on you. Before you can do or say anything, it raises its arm, and clumsily levels a pistol at your head.
Instinctively, you throw yourself to the side just before the pistol goes off. The man thing tries to turn itself towards you again. You pull the push dagger from your belt and quickly rush at the creature. Flesh that should be frozen hard as rock is soft as sponge and your dagger plunges deep. Again and again you stab and slash. Again and again the creature takes the damage, but acts as if nothing has happened. Finally, the man creature lets out a final gasp, and crumples to the ground.
To say you are freaked out is an understatement.
You hurry back to the warning marker, in hopes that the information on it can tell you what is going on. Prying off the cover, you begin to examine its controls. You locate the playback button and press it. The tiny plasma screen flickers and comes to life. The image of a man in a United Earth Alliance Forces uniform comes into view ...
“This is the captain of the U.E.S. Leviathan. If you are able to understand this message, I advice you to please leave Titan immediately!
“It has been almost six weeks since we crashed here. More than half of the crew was killed outright. We thought we could survive here in the ship until we could be rescued, using the ship’s nuclear generators for heat and light. Frustration began to set in as the signal for our distress beacon continually reflected back from the thick cloud cover. We tried to remain optimistic about our chances of rescue, but then something started to happen.
“We began to encounter alien life forms—hostile alien life forms. Some of the crew speculated they may have something to do with the raiders we were following. Whatever the case, they did not take kindly to us. Within a week, they were attacking the ship and the crew on a regular basis.
“At first we could not believe what was happening. Over the course of a few days, we began to see what looked like members of our own crew joining the aliens’ attack against us. What’s more, we began to recognize the attackers as members of the crew that had been killed in the crash. For the life of us, we had no way of explaining how this had happened, until what happened next.
“Several members of the crew became infected by spores of a fungus like organism living on the rocks around here. These spores instantly, and painlessly, started growing inside their victims, slowly replacing their tissues. The poor devils were being eaten alive from the inside out, and never knew it was happening. Within hours, they had been changed into zombie like creatures intent on killing the other members of the crew. It happened to my own first officer. One moment, he was perfectly normal. The next minute, he was a snarling monster, trying to kill everyone around him.
“We try to hold on, but our numbers continue to dwindle, as we continue to fend off the beasts of Titan, and the creatures that were once our shipmates. I can only hope that these warning markers we are setting out will allow others to escape from this moon, before they suffer our fate.”
As the image of the captain fades away, the true horror of your situation hits you.
That thing that exploded near him must have been one of those fungi the captain described. If so, then Yuri is infected with the spores. In a few hours, he will be one of ... them, and he is the one who is supposed to be leading the rest of the crew down.
You have to warn them, but how? The transmitter in your E.V.A. suit is only designed for local communications with other E.V.A. suited personnel, and you do not have a transmitter capable of sending a transmission to your crew mates. Even if you could send something, you are not even sure it can get through the interference caused by Titan’s thick atmosphere.
Still, you will have to try. Perhaps there may be a more powerful transmitter lying somewhere in the massive debris field before you, but it will mean you will have to risk attracting the attention of the hostile aliens of this world, and the attention of the creatures that were once the crew of the Leviathan.
You take the pistol from the corpse you killed earlier, and steel yourself for what you must do. You know you will have to hurry. You can already hear their growls in the distance ...