"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to
THE SEVEN GATES OF HELL
- or -
OBVIOUSLY INFLUENCED BY THE DEVIL TOO
by Richard Karsmakers
III - INTO THE LUNGS OF HELL
They found themselves now at the beginning of a tunnel that was
hewn out of rock in a most crude manner. A flickering orange
light could be seen at the end of it, and a variety of sounds
emanated from there - evil laughter accompanying the anguished
cries of tortured souls. Bats flew towards them, flitting around
their heads and disappearing in the sudden darkness they had left
behind. The bats seemed impervious to the force fields of Hell.
Some of them, Cronos could see in short flashes, had faces like
ugly fat babies with moustaches.
In front of the tunnel entrance was a doormat that had "Welcome"
on it. Welcome to Hell. Yeah, right.
Cronos almost tiptoed through the tunnel, that was gradually
becoming hotter and lighter. Trom followed him, which Warchild
reckoned was a brave thing to do. The sounds became louder, and
genuinely sliced through Warchild's bones, so he guessed it might
be even worse for the boy. What in all the Netherhells were they
doing to those from whom wailed those anguished, long-wound
cries? And which creatures could utter such profoundly evil
laughter in the face of such agony?
Cronos had an idea of what the answers to those questions would
be, but blocked out their implications. He found himself
shivering despite the ever mounting heat.
Before them, the tunnel now opened into a wide hall that seemed
the setting of some weird and diabolic rite. There were hideously
ugly creatures jumping left and right, with their winged
counterparts bobbing in the air above them, spitting and cursing.
There was, as it were, not a very friendly atmosphere.
Amidst these ghastly creatures of hell and flickering flames of
glowing fire there was a large black throne that seemed made from
bones - human bones. Several blackened skulls gaped at Cronos and
Trom lifelessly from the back of the throne, the flames of life
quenched from them and replaced by those of purgatory.
Someone sat on the throne, laughing evilly along with those
around the throne. Whoever it was must, he had to be impervious
to the flames that seemed to lick and consume, caressing the
throne and everything around it.
Cronos should have kept his head low, for a demon spotted him,
immediately pointing at the mercenary annex hired gun with a
warty, long-nailed claw. It opened its jaws and let go a drawling
sound that almost seemed to ooze from between its fangs. Cronos
was pinpointed by dozens of pairs of red eyes, red eyes gleaming
with unholy joy. Trom hid quickly behind the mercenary's huge
square form, liking all of this even less than he had liked the
whole stuff of going down to hell through its Seven Gates in the
first place (though, of course, he had liked making acquaintance
with the spitting image of the girl of his dreams in the form of
the lady Innana of the Third Gate).
An intricate mechanism set to work to turn the Darkest of
Thrones around with agonizing slowness. The demons hushed up
while their master's throne turned to face the damned intruder.
This was it. He had bested the Seven Gates of Hell, had ridden
Hell's Stallions and had had a Disagreement with Death. Now he
would face Satan, Baphomet, the Fallen Angel, Azagtoth, the Dark
One. He closed his eyes. He wasn't actually afraid as such, but
wasn't feeling too confidently secure either. The ground throbbed
from the inner workings of whatever mechanism it was that turned
the vast, blackened, skeletal throne around.
When the throbbing stopped, around him was a virtually complete
silence. The tortured souls, wherever they might be, seemed to
have turned mute. The evil demons seemed no longer to have the
urge to utter their cursed laughter, nor even a chuckly guffaw.
There was only one person - creature - who made - dared make -
sound, and did - a deep kind of restrained chuckle. Cronos opened
his eyes; he'd have to face this sooner or later anyway.
His eyes instantly opened a lot wider, and his jaw dropped
deeper than it ever had. Nobody had ever mentioned to him the
fact that Satan might not be like the way he is commonly
described. Well...she was quite different indeed.
"You are...er...are...a...a...woman?" Warchild stammered.
He looked at her extremely tight leather outfit with the sexy
tail and perhaps rather too high heels that, somehow, she must be
able to balance on. How the hell did people get into those
clothes? It seemed like a physical impossibility to him,
especially because there was not a zipper in sight anywhere.
"Now let's not get all male chauvinist pig on me, my dearest
Cronos," she tut-tutted, wagging a finger, "I am not known to
take too kindly to that sort of thing."
Within his mind, Cronos suddenly had irrepressable visions of
being strapped to a bed, this woman towering above him, about to
do to him very unspeakable things indeed. He swallowed. His eyes
Satan smiled. It wasn't her usual grin, no, it was a true smile.
One of her minions, standing by her, couldn't believe its eyes.
It blinked them and shook its head, only to discover that the
smile was still there when it looked again. Actually, though you
wouldn't normally think these kind of things, Satan was a
Her head abruptly twisted around to face her minion. It twisted
the wrong way around. All thoughts vanished from the demon's mind
entirely. It felt very small indeed, exceedingly insignificant
and altogether more uncomfortable than it'd ever felt before in
its almost eternal life.
It expected her to vomit.
She continued turning her head, completing the 360° turn, facing
"Cronos, baby," Satan purred, wagging her tail enluringly, "I
shall cut to the chase. I need you. I want you. I need a man
without a conscience. In the day-time you can reap souls; tempt
people to sell them, promise anything, and then, well, kill
them." Her eyes flashed; she licked her lips almost as if
subconsciously. "And when night falls, well..."
Warchild thought he was going to faint. Not a very manly thing
to do, but every muscle in his body told him it might be a good
idea anyway. Satan ought not to be looking at him like that,
woman or not. It made him feel strange, insecure, vulnerable. It
also made his scrotum contract.
He spotted the Battery Pack on one of the arms of Satan's
blackened throne. Maybe, just maybe, if he leapt for it he just
might be able to grab it, quickly slip it inside where it ought
to be, and then beat them all silly. He had a vague hunch that
there might be one or two flaws in this theory, the most
important of which was that there were rather a lot of demons in
the direct vicinity, including a few between him and the Battery
"Your timing is a bit off, er, Mrs Satan," Warchild said.
"Do call me Lucy, please," Satan said, then asked, "Why? I do
hope you're not, er, spoken for, as it were?"
"Well," Cronos said, "not as such, but, you see, I've got an
apprentice to train."
He stepped aside and pointed at Trom. Trom wished he didn't, and
prepared to cower to the best of his ability. Not a very heroic
thing to do, he reckoned, but that would just be, as they say,
Satan threw back her head and laughed loudly. The minion who had
previously observed her smiling now felt reassured again: It was
one of those typically evil, echoing bouts of laughter, the kind
that made the inhabitants of hell cringe, that could impale
people due to stalactites spontaneously tearing loose from
"The boy?" she said, sneeringly, "The boy will no longer need
Trom had not the slightest reason whatsoever to like that tone
of voice. Instead of waiting for whatever was going to happen, he
took matters in his own hand. Displaying a skill he had not been
taught by anyone in his life, he dashed for Satan's throne, agile
like water, cleverly dodging demons that slashed at him with
daggers, wanted to impale him on their lances and strove to run
him through with their swords. He had love in his heart and in
his head, which gave him the strength he had never known was
somewhere within him.
He seemed made for this kind of thing. Something in his mind had
gone "snap" and he now finally felt in touch with whatever it was
that ruled his dream fits, whoever the hero was that sometimes
gave him glances of a distant past but that had so far refused to
come out. Trom barked like a dog, fending off whatever weapons
threatened him with his bare hands. Just to see if he could, he
took from one particularly surprised demon a lance and threw it
away with all the power that was in him. He then ran, faster than
the wind, to catch it himself.
"Ha!" he cried, triumphantly, "Ha!"
"Are you crazy?!" Cronos shouted.
"Provided I be famous," Trom cried, pride and deep emotion
throbbing in his voice, "I am content to be only one day on
Trom - or whoever he was now - again pursued his way to Satan's
throne. More and more of the Dark One's minions joined in the
fray, and some of them were getting seriously injured. Young Trom
seemed invincible and, indeed, as it would later go down in the
Hellish Annals, he was.
He reached the throne. Satan warded the young boy off, afraid
that she had now finally met someone who was clever and quick
enough to assassinate her, like so many creatures of Heaven and
Hell had attempted in vain in those many millenia that had gone
before. It was not her, however, that Trom was interested in.
Instead, he snatched Cronos' Mega Absorb Groin Protector Battery
Pack off the arm of Satan's throne where it has been standing,
and tossed it to the mercenary annex hired gun. Warchild quickly
slipped it into the designated cavity.
Trom's hair looked all funny now, like nails, just like in his
dream fits. His eyes crossed and he looked around wildly for more
hostility to quench.
Satan could but sit back and watch. With a subtle sign of a
professionally manicured, red-nailed hand she told her servants
to allow this boy, this hero, live. She had for him a worthy
reward in store, a worthy reward indeed to praise one of such
"Be still, young Trom," Satan intoned in as much a voice of
authority as she could muster. Trom looked around at her, feeling
relaxed but not devoid of the tremendous strength that he had
discovered within, the well of force that he had learned to sip
"That's better," Satan now said, almost purring, "because I have
in store for you something befitting a hero like you." She
signalled to somewhere behind the throne, from which now stepped
Innana, his Passion Goddess and now former guardian of the Third
Trom felt his heart pounding in his chest, and now he felt his
eyes cross and his stomach knot, not from one of his warrior's
fits but from the most sincere feelings of love that any man
could ever feel for a woman. Sometimes you meet someone that is
really meant for you, someone that is your person. Innana was his
person, and to Innana he was hers.
And they called each other by different names henceforth, Cu
Chulainn and Fedelm, and they walked off in the wings, started a
life of love down there in the very wombs of Hades. And the last
words he uttered before disappearing with her forever to a
distant outpost of the Dark One's domain, as recorded in the
Hellish Annals, were, "Leave me in Hell".
All the excitement having abated somewhat, Satan stepped down
from her throne and strutted up to Cronos. She was wearing a
really weird kind of perfume, he noticed, something he'd never
smelled before. Was it perfume actually? He now also saw that she
was actually rather a tall woman, standing almost half a foot
higher than him.
She bent over, her infernal breath tickling his ear.
"Spank me," she whispered under it.
"What?!" Warchild said, incredulously. Obviously, the phrase
must have meanings he was quite unaware of.
"You heard me," Satan continued, taking one of Cronos' hands and
laying it on the patch of leather that covered one of her buns,
"spank me, loverboy!"
Her breath is his ear, her raspy voice in his mind, her scent in
his nostrils and one of his hands on what he had to admit was a
particularly gorgeous and very tight ass, he could only but
succumb to her wishes. Reluctantly, of course.
Satan was smoking a low-tar cigarette, blowing pentagrams to the
ceiling. Cronos was exhausted. His hands ached and throbbed. And
not just his hands.
"Darling?" Satan purred.
"I heard on the grapevine that you're thinking of retiring?"
Cronos thought about it for a bit. He'd had a fruitful life. Had
his share of fun, his share of violence. Now it was time to
settle down. Lead a quiet life. Devote himself to a more peaceful
hobby or two. What's more, he'd like to disappear from public
life, as it were.
"I will," he said, a bit drowsy, "and I think I already have."
"Hmmmm," Satan crooned, "I like the sound of that."
"I do, too."
"Now kiss me...there."
"And now I'd like you to kiss me...there."
AND THAT IS, AS THEY SAY,
OF THE 32ND AND LAST OF THE CRONOS WARCHILD STORIES
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.