DISCLAIMER: I do not own DOOM or Marathon.
Chapter 2: Haste.
"The Haste sphere invigorates the imbiber with lightning speed. Once broken, it releases a charged cloud of Soul-Breaker energy which forms a powerful (albeit brief) exoskeleton that charges and accelerates all natural movement. While the effects are brief, the speed that a hastened subject can reach is breathtaking. The heart rate also increases dramatically, ultimately resulting in myocardial rupture. The heart, quite literally, explodes."
- Bernard Strauss, UAC, MIDA Division
Mars City, S. Hayden's private quarters...
Samuel Hayden had no need to eat, not since he was consumed by the UAC's original Argent Energy Tower, and converted into Argent Energy himself. Now he knows the horrible truth of the alien plasma, but Earth's energy crisis is still very real, and the magic of Hell is too potent to ignore completely; if there was an easier way— a better, more moral way— he would have found it already. Still, in spite of mining expeditions and research into the Demon threats (as well as the unnerving reality that a cult has begun to form within the UAC itself), the Argent Energy Tower is not the only crown jewel of Human technology.
Just thirty years ago the idea of a city on Mars was a dream from the insane, but under Samuel Hayden's leadership such a dream is now reality. Mars City, a collaboration project from both the United Aerospace Corporation and the United Earth Directorate, as a show of good faith to the people of Earth, and a sign of power to governments seeking a foothold on Mars. Families, veterans, rich and poor alike, UAC and UED and all the people caught between.
It does put Hayden a little on edge, seeing UED Marines so close to top secret projects. It's not his lack of trust in the UED that causes this (the number of people Hayden trusts can be counted on one hand), it's the fact that UED Marines are recruited en masse from penitentiaries and death row inmates, sealed into power armor shells the UED have named War Caskets and armed with Delta-12 Chainguns.
What they do to them to get loyal, unquestioning soldiers out of national criminals and men and women awaiting execution is unknown to Samuel, and seeing them throughout Mars City never fails to make him worry.
But now, the man reviews the day's events in his personal quarters, where despite his lacking need for food, he still kept such amenities close by, as his guest occupants help themselves to his fridge. Robert Blake, nicknamed the Man from the Moon by the newer generations of Battleroids and UED officials alike, nurses a cup of cheap ImmediaBrew! Coffee, his eyes focused on the pack of Salisbury Steak warming in the suite's in-wall microwave. Actually seated at the dining table is Hayden's (now red-skinned) adopted daughter, her eyes lazily darting between her mechanical father and her pseudo-uncle BOB, as she enjoys a non-nutritious breakfast of Sugar Bombs cereal and I Can't Believe It's Not Milk! milk-substitute.
"You gotta stock your fridge better Sammy," Blake says, the low hum of the microwave making its ambiance known.
"I only ever stock it with things you complain aren't there," Samuel counters, personally investigating each Personal Digital Assistant that ends up in the UAC's Lost and Found. Everyone's given a PDA in Mars City, essentially a UAC version of the smartphone and driver's license, so absentmindedly losing one is a big deal when it comes to keeping track of Mars City citizens. This latest batch of lost PDAs now sits on Hayden's workdesk, giving the man another grievance to take care of, as there are dozens to sift through when there should be none. "If you have a problem with the selection, it might be your taste is bad."
"You wound me Samuel," the head-BOB of Deimos Base playfully retorts, the ding of his Salisbury Steak finishing punctuating his tone. "ImmediaBrew! Coffee is leagues better than that posh junk from Earth. Anyway, have you given anymore thought to—"
"Hayden he's the perfect candidate—!"
"He's one of our most unstable killing machines Bobert. The Battleroids of Bad Batch are almost dependent to the point of drones, and their unoptimized Argent Energy loop makes them volatile at the drop of a hat; and you want to bond one of them with the Haste sphere?"
"You didn't see him on Deimos, I was there during his rampancy. He's not like the others— they lash out, open fire on anyone, they're scared and confused; but him? He froze for a couple seconds, took stock of the situation, and then turned the tide almost single-handedly. He's not like the rest of the Bet Series, he's different."
There's silence in the compartment for a second, only broken by the sounds of Eve's terrible breakfast choice being enjoyed by the Aleph Series killing machine. Dinner and a show, as they say.
"You're attached to him," Samuel eventually says, looking up from his work. He almost never looked up from his work these days.
"He did save me and the rest of us BOBs plenty of times on that outpost, so I'd be lying if I didn't feel indebted. He's also... different, from you and me, and I don't just mean because he's a Battleroid. He's a Psyker, I promise. I've seen him summon fire from his hands and shoot lightning from his fingers, and I don't think he even knows he's doing it."
Another beat of silence, one pure, and unbroken by the Hayden Battleroid's eating. Psykers are big deals, able to impose their will upon the universe; in old times they were called Witches, and older than that they were known as Magi. Even now, after countless centuries, it was only recently discovered that these wielders of magic exist, and were not just superstition and religious zealotry.
"... fine, you've convinced me Bobert. We'll see together just how far the best of Bad Batch can go."
"Thanks Tin Man, I promise you won't regret it."
Mars, UAC Holding Block 7...
If they didn't have access to his vitals, the scientists observing his cell would be sure he died in his sleep. He didn't thrash or sweat like Hayden did, nor does he seem to suffer the usual negatives of the yellow Ul-Thranx Demon, instead he just laid there, staring unblinking towards the ceiling.
"He's going rampant," one of the scientists says aloud, as it was the only explanation they had for the continual spikes of neural activity. He was remembering something, he was seeing something they weren't— something they couldn't.
They call the Bet Series the Bad Batch, and though they may not be as independent as the Aleph Series, they were still Battleroids. The UAC only had the seven Maykr-Sentinel-Chips, but they had the schematics to make more, and so they devised the Faux-Maykr-Sentinel-Chips; but there was a catch. These FMSCs, while replicable, produced an unoptimized stream of Argent Energy, resulting in a weaker Battleroid overall. To compensate, the Bet Series had organs non-vital to a weapon removed, such as the reproductive system, the pancreas, and the stomach; which did make the resulting feedback loop of the FMSC stronger, but still far from matching the Maykr's original tech.
The final result is still leagues beyond the average Human, but with a major flaw. The unoptimized Argent Energy flipped something in their resurrected brain, occasionally sending them into bouts of madness the UAC have dubbed rampancy. And so, for the UAC's own safety, the members of Bad Batch are left in stasis, until a time they are needed.
And then Deimos was attacked, and Recon 54 was away on another expedition into the realms of Hell. Out of options, Samuel Hayden sent the first and last ten of the Bet Series Battleroids to the natural satellite, where nine of them died in the conflict. Robert Blake and his fellow Born-On-Base Humans were evacuated, and Deimos Base was abandoned in a war between Battleroid and Demon.
They were weapons, they were dangerous and experimental, and they died heroes to Mars City, fighting a battle that only the UAC and UED would ever know.
And then the last of them spoke, for the first time since he laid down on the bed of Holding Block 7.
"Aye mak sicur," he says, suddenly alight with Soul-Breaker energy, his skin turning an unnatural shade of yellow, a sign of success in bonding with the Ul-Thranx Demon.
"I'll make sure," he says, a small burst of fire from his eyes, his hands and feet tingling.
Gheritt White, Bet Seven of Bad Batch, was now the first Battleroid to be a working vessel for the Haste sphere.
AN: In doing research, I learned some interesting tidbits about everyone from DOOM: Eternal and such, but I myself have not gotten that far into the game. I'm more a DOOM 3 kinda guy. Anyway, the important part is since most of my knowledge is pre-Eternal, this will be very AU.
Also if you think you saw a reference, yes it is a reference, and yes it is a reference to that thing you're thinking of.