Hellbound

Prologue

The judgment of the Almighty was quick and firm. Heaven was denied to me unless I proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, I had repented. It is worthless to ask what my specific crimes are, as all you need to know is they involve the deaths of hundreds. Well, I was more of an accomplice to the direct perpetrator, but I let him continue his rampage anyway. Needless to say, the Almighty Itself ordered him straight to Hell.

While he was a nit crazy around when he died, he's still my friend. He's rotting down in Hell, while I'm in Purgatory. I've been floating in a void for what seems to be an eternity. However, the Almighty gave me a proposal, recently. If I can go through thirteen layers of the six hundred sixty-six layers of Hell, I can redeem my friend, and myself.

My friend was not originally a bad man. He was once a noble idealist. However, he began to see how futile his quest was, and lost his sanity and compassion for others. I followed him, as my own moral compass was warped beyond recognition. He doesn't deserve eternal pain. Deep down, he's a good guy. I hope.

I helped mastermind terrorist attacks, assassinations, and mass murder, while he followed my plans. I am-or was, rather- the brains behind his operation. I had people fearing my name. I had him respecting me, and I respected him.

None of that matters, now. I don't even remember the specifics. I don't remember my name. I don't remember much of the way I died. I don't really care, though. Perhaps my friend will know when I rescue him. I have a guide assigned to me. He acts like a voice in my head, and claims to be my guardian angel.

That's right. Call me Virgil.

Virgil acts as an 'emissary' to the Almighty. He approached me with the proposal first, and I accepted, naturally. However, I was given some odd gear. Now, I know you might be thinking "blessed armor" or "magic sword" or some such, but I vague remember using this gear, or something like them, during my life. Rest assured, though, this armor is nothing magical.

It's a set of energy pistols of some sort, a jumpsuit and gloves made of some unknown, but strong polymer weave, and a helmet, that, when worn with the jumpsuit and gloves, allows me to survive in a vacuum or underwater.

That's right. It's called exomesh. The helmet is part of the set. When you wear both, it makes its own air.

Virgil mentioned I won't need food or water while in Hell.

You won't. The "natives" will try to tempt you with it, though.

How about shaving? That's a pain to do if I have a helmet on. Will I have to do any?

No. You don't have to worry anything about your physical appearance. You will have to worry about taking physical damage, though. If you die in Hell, you're doomed to stay there forever. However, if you can get to a 'relatively safe spot,' you will heal. Even apertures in your exomesh will fix themselves.

How about my pair of energy pistols, then?

They can be recharged by waving them around in light for a few minutes. They fire anywhere silently and rapidly, and do not need maintenance. Also, you can turn them around and use them as batons or tonfas.

Anything else I should know?

If you extend one like a tonfa or baton, you can 'hook on' to things. There's an adhesive surface on the bottom of the handle.

Well, then. It seems I'm set. Will you tell me anything about the layers of Hell I have to traverse?

Only a little bit, after we get to each layer. You must solve most of them yourself. Keep in mind, though, each layer has a certain sin punished there. Not all of the sins are the ones you'd expect, though.

What do you mean?

Sometimes, an extremist counterculture could see what most people see as good as evil, and vice versa. So don't be surprised if you see layers like Sanity or Invention. There's six hundred and sixty six layers. They comprise most sins, or what some groups consider sin, in order to break even.

I only have thirteen layers to go through, right?

Yes. The Almighty has deemed thirteen as a fitting enough number for your trial. If you complete it, you get out of Purgatory, and your friend gets out of Hell. If you fail, you become nothing, or are trapped in Hell. Whatever comes first.

Are there certain layers the Almighty "set aside" for me, or is the number of layers totally random?

The Almighty choose several he thought you be fitting for you, and you'll have to complete thirteen randomly chosen ones out of the total.

How much is the total he chose for me?

I have no idea.

Well, shall we set off?

We shall.

I don't see anything. I don't notice any changes. I'm still floating around this gray void.

Look closer.

With that, I saw a small rectangle approaching in the distance. It approached my position faster, until it stopped directly in front of me. It was a wooden door. I put on my helmet, made sure my energy pistols were drawn, and my exomesh was on right. It was a standard wooden door. I reached out my hand, and turned the knob. The other side was pitch black. I cloud not see any light from inside.

Get ready.

With that, I closed my eyes, and stepped through the door to Hell.