Readings indicated that he was regaining consciousness, and Data attempted to communicate with him, "Excuse me sir, can you hear me? Are you in need of medical attention?" After a moment of consideration, he figured it would be safe to ask, "Are you aware of how you arrived here? Do you know who may have brought you or myself to this facility?"
Even as LTCDR. Data began his tricorder scans of the coffin and its occupant, the Marine within writhed. As if struggling with unseen terrors, he thrashed about, reliving the nightmare that he had just been unhooked from in his own timeline ...
IMMORA, THE PLANE OF HELL'Al amect, invegna.'
SOME TIME PRIOR ...
Those whispered words - uttered from three silent witnesses, beings of ancient power and authority - echoed within the Marine's mind as he found himself within the inner sanctum of the tower he had invaded. Far above him, steps rose towards a monstrous throne hewn from iron and hell-steel. And before it ...
"You bring violence and war to thwart the Dark Realm, Slayer." the being rising from the throne spat down to him. The Marine's eyes hardened, barely containing his fury, as the armoured form of Davoth - the Dark Lord of Hell itself - stalked towards the platform's edge. "But conflict was born
in Hell." Red eyes, held within a face that eerily mimicked the Marine's own, bore into the Marine's gaze. "It is inevitable
- a fire that fuels creation and gives purpose to where there is none."'Not if it wielded in a fell cause, Davoth.'
the Marine privately fumed, his left gauntlet balling into a fist as his right unslung a massive, double-barreled shotgun from its sling. He had done too much - forced to slay the Khan Makyr and the guardians of Urdak, brought low the Hell-Priests of the Order of Deag and suffered so much loss in his fight for humanity and his memory - to discount the truth that Davoth all-too-conveniently omitted.
The Marine snapped the break-action of his weapon shut as Davoth rocketed to the floor, massive sabatons slamming as the Dark Lord reached for the Crucible at his left side and sealed his exo-suit's visor. "STAND AND FIGHT, SLAYER," Davoth's microphone within his helm's grill boomed, red blade lancing from the activated Crucible's hand guard. "HONOUR YOUR TRUE GOD. FIGHT - AND SHOW ME YOUR PURPOSE."
The duel that began to play out within the Marine's memory was too much of a blur for him to remember clearly; all he knew was that the Dark Lord had given him his most hard-fought battle in his life. After the expense of many rounds, and having taken bruises and wounds to himself, a pause in the fighting seemed to extenuate. A brutal bunch to Davoth's breastplate had damaged and forced the armoured brute back. Yet instead of pressing the attack, Davoth collected himself, unsealed his visor and glared ruefully towards his opponent.
"For too long," Davoth seethed, collecting his dropped sword. "Have the Makyr of Urdak and your so-called 'Night Sentinel Order' kept me hobbled and imprisoned. You
will not stop my vengeance!" The Dark Lord's eyes turned towards the blood-red, smoke-spewing skies. "Nor the one who betrayed me." Any brewing question the Marine had on this point was pre-empted by his foe's growl. "Tell. Him.""He is the first being ... and my creator. When he fell, I ascended."
At the second voice's admission, the Marine nearly choked. The Father - the 'god' proclaimed by the Makyr and their ruling mistress, the 'god' who ennobled the knights of Argent D'Nur with purpose and nobility, the being who had played no small part in the Marine's trials and tribulations - was the second being created by this vile
Lord of Hell? A lesser man would have despaired at such a world-turning revelation, and truth be told, the Marine was struggling not to.
He finally shook his head. 'No. It doesn't matter now.'
Having broken the action of his weapon to reload, he snapped the shotgun shut again. 'Even if I have been a pawn of beings of Hell's make all my life - even if I've been robbed of everyone I've loved and cherished by their manipulations, and after all the destruction the Khan Makyr had been complicit in - Davoth poses far worse a threat then the Ancient Ones. So I will see this through to its bloody end.'
A new-found resolve Davoth did not visibly take well, as he thrust a pointed fist towards the Marine. "They lied
to you, Slayer! Immora, and its inhabitants, would have been perfect if not for the treachery of my servants. They sealed me away, usurped my power and my name! And now the time has come for a reckoning."
The red blade leaped to life again, bathing Slayer and Lord both in its crimson fire. "As all things were made by my hand, so shall they be unmade! Starting! With! You!
Time flew by for the Slayer as the pair clashed once more. He did not know it at the time, but the pair had teleported away from Immora and were now on another world. He did not care, focusing all his rage, his grief and his iron-will to bring down the Dark Lord once and for all. Eventually, with one final blow, the battered, sparking exo-armour collapsed. Davoth's Crucible skidded a short distance as he fell, allowing the Marine a brief moment to check a particularly bad wound beneath his own armour.
Satisfied, the Marine stowed his weapons and unlatched the helm. Clear air flooded his nostrils and lungs, and the Marine cast the helmet away, striding towards the scrabbling Davoth.
The Dark Lord got a hold of his weapon again and, struggling with his damaged, failing armour, feebly lifted it towards his triumphant foe in a final gesture of rejection and defiance. Unhelmed with that final blow, the two men now met eye-to-eye; red irises filled with hatred and denied dominion, met a pair of hazel-green that reflected burning revulsion. Davoth calmly deactivated and threw his weapon away.
"Tell me ..." Davoth fumed, his tone gone from ire towards a grim acceptance of the end. "Have you nothing to say to your creator ... before you strike him down?"
Davoth's immediate reply was in the ka-chunk
of the Marine readying the blade at his vambrace. Brow furrowed and a corner of his mouth baring gritted teeth, the Doom Slayer thrust home and ran his 'creator' through the sternum. The word that hissed from the Marine's lips was answer enough:
The Slayer tore the blade out, taking a pace back as the Dark Lord died. His death throes sent a shockwave of agony across the planes; unknown to the Marine, daemons that still roamed beyond the boundaries of Hell - on Earth, Mars, Urdak and beyond - were all caught in Davoth's agony. And, like their master, they all were sent screaming into the banishment of eternal oblivion.
The Marine let out the breath he had been holding as he stared down at the corpse that began to fleck into the aether. Every death he had inflicted, all the agonies he had taken and meted out, all the lies and revelations he had endured, had all come down to this one last mission. And, as he felt his own tethers on life begin to give out and his consciousness fade, he could barely see the ghostly, hooded shapes of others coalesce around him.
It was over. It was done ...
MEDICAL CENTER, PARADOX ENGINE
The Marine's eyes snapped open and he leaped from the coffin with a crash. Barging towards the android, a gauntlet wrapped itself around Data's 'throat' as his wrist-blade flicked out once more. The Starfleet officer's tricorder would be screaming in alarm as the Marine's vitals fluctuated wildly; fired up and with a perceived threat in front of him, the soldier-turned-demigod was clearly in no mood for idle conversation.
And yet, even as his visor began to close the gap between the two, the man made no further move to attack. Eyes fixed on Data's optical 'sensors' and a growl barely hissed through the helmet's oxygen filter. Barely legible read-outs flickered and scrolled across the man's HUD; it appeared that, far from trying to finish the officer off, the Marine was trying to identify who he was facing.
Only question now was: who would make the first move to escalate or deescalate the situation?