Ranger: Slipgate Marine
Two decades ago, a lone Marine stepped through the Slipgate and into nightmare. He cut through countless horrors to find four eldritch Runes, then laid waste to the abomination known as Shub-Niggurath.Trapped in these realms ever since, he has survived using the power of the Dire Orb seized from within the hot gore of the All-Mother.Time and delirium have eroded his resolve and even his name, but a worn family photograph tucked away in his armor serves as a scrap of hope and sanity.
Not much of a writer. But I have to get some things down on paper before my brain turns to mush. Some of the important stuff is already gone. Can’t remember what my own goddamn name is, for instance. It’s gotta be something about this place. It messes up my thoughts. The only time I can focus is when I’m fighting. As soon as the fighting stops, it’s like a fog rolls into my head. But I’ll get it written down. I have to, for Annie and the kids. If I forget them, I’ll never find a way out of this hellhole.
Seems like a hundred years since I got that call at 0400. I hauled ass to the Slipgate Complex, but the shit had already hit the fan. Marines bleeding from their eyes, some kind of half-done mods in their skin, all of them trying to kill me. Even a couple of guys I knew. Commander was AWOL. The place was a maze. It was like the worst dream I’d ever had. But I know how to follow orders. I just had to find “Quake” and kill it. No time to think about what the hell I was seeing.
They didn’t tell me much about the Slipgate. They had hired some creepy egghead to build it in the underground levels — Gilman, I think his name was. But what else was he doing down there? Why was the facility laid out like a death trap? When I used that first Slipgate, I got zapped to somewhere else, but it looked the same. Had they already gone through and built a base on the other side? What about those psycho Marines, the poor bastards? Who did that to them? Was it Quake, or was it Gilman?
Doesn’t make any sense. I was fighting for my life as soon as I got there, and then things just kept getting darker and weirder. There were other Slipgates, and I went through them. Nowhere else to go. No idea where they were leading to. I just shot at anything that moved, and I’ve been shooting ever since. Feels like the night terrors I got after Vietnam. Maybe the whole thing really is just a bad nightmare. What else would explain any of it? Somebody wake me up. My wife and kids need me.
Those runes I found. Every time I found one, my head flooded with stuff I wasn’t supposed to know. Stuff no one should know. That’s how I learned what Quake was: Shub-Ngurath. A pile of letters for a pile of tentacles. But those Slipgates led me to all four runes. Did someone or something want me to find them? Without them I never would’ve gotten to that squirming heap. Never would’ve found the Orb I used to kill her. The game-winning pass. I thought for sure I’d get to go home after that. No such luck.
I’ve had this damn Orb ever since. Not that different from a football, except I get to play QB and receiver at the same time. And nothing beats catching your own pass and killing some bad guy in the process. Sometimes I call out plays in my head during fights. Helps me keep the memories I have left. Miskatonic. The Fightin’ Badgers. I was pretty good back in the day. Not good enough to go pro, but enough to be the hometown hero a couple of times. Annie tells me I was clueless. She’s probably right. She usually is.
Need to stay sane, or whatever passes for sane here. Gotta be careful remembering Annie. Don’t want to turn her into some story I tell myself. So I try to remember the bad parts, too. How mad she was when I enlisted, how low she got after K was born. But damn I miss her. Everybody should have someone who looks at them the way she looks at me. We’ve always made it through the rough times. I hope we’ll make it through this, too. I hope she can forgive me for being gone so long.
One of the worst things about losing my mind in here: I can’t remember my kids’ names. I call them J and K now. Our firstborn was a girl. Tough as nails. When she busted her arm on the jungle gym, she tried to comfort her mom on the way to the ER. I cried at her graduation. Annie had fun with that. A couple years later J arrived. He had me figured out in no time. So smart, that kid. I haven’t gotten a chance to tell him how proud I am of him. But I will, goddamnit.
I used to try to keep track of time here, but it’s no use. The sky makes no sense. Some places seem to have day and night but most don’t. Feels like years, but I don’t feel any older. When I manage to sleep, I can’t tell whether it’s for minutes, hours, or days. Maybe no time has passed at all back home. I’ll get out of here and crawl back into bed with my wife. She’ll let me sleep in. I’ll talk her into making me pancakes and bacon in the morning. That’s the way it’s gonna go.
A crumpled, thirty-year-old family photograph is Ranger’s most prized possession and his only tangible link to life before Operation Counterstrike. A faded ballpoint scribble on the back reads, “Haverhill – Beach St – 1978.” Ranger keeps the photo between layers of his armored boot to ensure that no harm comes to it.
Voice Over Lines
- I know a good slipgate to shove you in.
- Let’s go you sons of bitches.
- Your friends are going to have a hard time peeling you off the wall.
- Operation is running smooth as silk.
- Operation is running smooth.
- Everything is good to go.
- Proud to serve.
- When you’re twenty feet tal and throwing lightning, then you can face me.
- Stay down, you’ve disgraced yourself enough.
- You’ve disgraced yourself enough, stay down this time.
- Manikin’ momma proud.
- No, no, no you shoot with it!
- I love the smell of gunpowder.
- Come get some.
- If it bleeds I can kill it.
- Are you even trying?
- You came to the wrong fight.
- Where have the portals taken me now?
- Lord, give me strength.
- I see them, all around us.
- Tentacles and teeth, within and beneath.
- Been tryin’ to get out twenty years, not giving’ up now.
- Spent twenty years trying to get out, not giving up now.
- I ain’t got time to bleed.
- Surviving, one day at a time.
- All these places are starting to bleed together.
- Put your back into it, coach always said.
- Put your back into it, Sarge always said.
- Let’s show ‘em what we’re made of!
- Weapons hot!
- I’ve got your six.
- You set ‘em up, I’ll knock ‘em down.
- You bastards! Why are you torturing me like this?
- This operation is falling apart.
- Kickin’ a man when he is down? That’s pretty low.
- I need to find a slipgate out of this place.
- When you’ve been here this long, nothing and everything makes sense.
- Too painful to be a dream, too real to be a nightmare.
- Slipgates are closed. Gotta find another way home.
- Maybe my kingdom’s finally come.
- Sometimes the world doesn’t need another hero. It needs a monster.
- Surrender is not an option.
- Too much going on in my head. Can’t focus.
- Damn stupid portals, taking me to damn stupid places with damn stupid monsters.
- Someone needs a little discipline.
- In the air!
- Coming at ya!
- Requesting backup!
- They have me pinned down.
- Where are you guys?
- Need assistance!
- Ow, make it stop.
- I’m bleeding out!
- Son of a….
- Holy hell!
- Thank you sir! May I have another?
Struggling for his sanity resulted in Ranger hunting the deadly shambler. Even the monsters fear him now.