The flare of bright blue light faded, along with the wrench of transportation. The shear forces involved in tearing someone from one location to another had killed people, and drove most travellers to their knees, retching.
The Slayer steadied himself, and waited for the disruption to his inner ear to settle.
His eyes adjusted, aided by the active filters in his helm, and he looked out upon a land the likes of which he’d never seen before. And yet, seemed almost like a long forgotten dream.
Green grass and low rolling hills. Scattered fruit trees and bubbling brooks. Flowers, butterflies, small animals walking upright in clothing.
He straightened, hands tightening on his shotgun. That was not normal. And abnormal usually meant trouble.
He heard a sound nearby, and spun around, raising the gun.
“Oh! Sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you!” said the creature. It was possibly a dog, some golden soft thing, except it was wearing a professional blouse, denim skirt, and had its hair up in a bow. And it was walking and talking.
He said nothing, the pounding of his heart like a drum. It was not fear he felt, that had been burned out of him long ago, but the precursor to the rage. Like the gleaming double-barrels he held, it waited only for him to pull the trigger.
But he was not a demon. Not a monster. The line had been so fine to walk, but he had never strayed, and never would. He was ready, ready for the blood and fire and the rush, but he held himself still, and waited.
“Not very talkative? That’s alright. I haven’t seen you around before, and I’m not sure how you got here, but there’s room and space for everyone, so...welcome! I’m Isabelle,” said the dog.
Tactical assessment was no longer thought to him, but ingrained instinct, written into every cell in his body. The dog-thing, Isabelle, appeared harmless (do not trust appearances), and there were no visible threats (beware hidden ones). Unless his ability to judge a tactical situation was wrong (expect to be wrong, expect surprises), then this area was...safe (nothing is ever safe).
He slowly lowered his gun, still tensed and ready to dodge and return fire. He thought for a while, considering the situation, comparing it to the many, many other strange new worlds he had been thrust into.
They rarely, if ever, asked his name. Usually, they were too busy screaming for help, trying to eat his head, or monologuing about how it was for the greater good.
Isabelle was waiting patiently. He thought, not just considering, but remembering. His name. Did he have one? It had been eternity since anyone had said it, or even he had thought it. He had been the Doom Slayer for so long. Was he named for his great-grandfather, the one who fought in a different war, against a different evil? Perhaps it would do.
“William,” he said, voice harsh and dry.
“Nice to meet you, William! I hope you don’t think I’m being rude, but are you OK? You seem troubled.”
He couldn’t help it. The sheer incongruity, the ridiculousness of the question, the situation. He smiled, then grinned. Then a snort, followed by a rough cough that might have been a laugh. Soon, he was roaring, dropping to one knee as the hilarity tore itself from him.
An age. A minute. It passed, and he once again stood straight, holstering his gun.
“That didn’t seem like a yes,” said a worried Isabelle.
“I...have not been OK for longer than you can imagine. But it no longer affects me. Tell me, do you know of hell?” he asked.
Isabelle started, then answered “Well, yes, but I don’t believe in it personally. It doesn’t sound very nice.”
“No,” he said, “it isn’t. I have fought the legions of hell in all the worlds they have touched. I have torn their claws from everything that is good, and followed them back into the pit. The work shall never be done, and I shall never rest.”
He looked around once more. “You do not know of the reality of hell? Then this is a good place. A quiet place. The kind of place I only see after they come, when all is ruin. I...am glad to see that such places do still exist.”
He had forged himself into a weapon. Become a demigod, a monster even to the infernal. Lived long enough that the mere age of him would have broken most, let alone that which he had seen, experienced, and done.
Deep inside of him,in a tiny soft place, a green place, a small rabbit named Daisy reminded him that he fought for something, not just against something. His hate was legend, his rage eternal, but there was the line. He stood between, he guarded the way, because the soft things of the world needed him to.
He had almost forgotten.
“I’m glad we exist too, or I’d be out of a job!” said Isabelle jokingly. “It sounds like you’ve had a very hard time. Maybe you should take a break?”
He looked down at her, then checked his tether connection. Rebooting. VEGA would find him in time, but until then…
He reached up, and carefully unlocked his helm. He tucked it under one arm, and looked out at the idyllic island.
“Maybe I will,” he said. “Do you know where I can get a drink around here?”
“Well, I’m technically on my lunch break, but I think this is more important than paperwork. There’s no actual bar on the island, but we get stuff sent in if we want. I’m a bourbon gal myself, if that’s alright with you?”
He nodded once, slowly. “I think that will be just fine.”