Americans thought they knew everything. This was something British PITK (People In The Know) knew very well. Everyone in America's military especially thought they knew everything about everything and that everyone else knew nothing.

The reality might be a hell of a lot more complicated, but the British PITK and PWTC (People With The Cash) preferred the stereotypical, generalised version of how to deal with Americans. Namely, smile and nod, and do what the Yanks did, but better and behind their backs.

So when FEAR (First Encounter Assault Recon) was created, some British BAD (Berk At Desk) decided that the British forces should have a similar sort of thing. The British named them PIC (Paranormal Investigation and Combating) and stocked it with two types of soldiers; the Special Forces veterans, SAS types with good aims and tight lips, and the eccentrics from Regular Army who believed in all that ghost shit.

Jonathan Andrew Davison was definitely the latter. He was the sort of man who made it his business to know all the conspiracy theories, all that sort of shit, because he knew – he just knew – that one day it was going to pay off.

As it happens, one day it did.

Jon was one of about twenty Investigating Operatives (troops from PIC who went off to see if there was reason for more involvement) in PIC, and he was the only one who had never been on mission. So when the bossman, David Carmichael, called him up to the briefing room, he came eagerly.

Carmichael already had Jon's partner, a ABWA (Armed Bloke With Attitude) named Faraday, there.

"Jon," Carmichael said. "We're sending you to America."

"What did I do wrong?" Jon said.

"Nothing, but the yanks sure fucked up," Faraday said. "Some mate of an MI5 guy works for Armacham Tech Corporation in America, and they've got some serious problems with military clones and creepy dead shit."

"Our specialty," Carmichael smiled.

"And the FEAR team in America's," Jon reminded them.

"But they've not been too successful from what we've heard," Faraday said. "They sent in a team. So far, one's been thrown around and one's vanished from the face of Earth."

Jon sighed, and rolled his eyes.

"And you're sending us in," he said more than asked. It was too obvious.

"Yup," Carmichael said. "We're sending you and three squads of support, but you and Faraday have to assess the situation first. We'll brief you in full on the way."

"Great," Jon said, saluting lazily, and heading for his room. "I wanted a holiday."

Jon liked giving things Acronyms. In combat, this translated to stuff like, for example, DLAI (Die Like An Insect), UABAG (Use A Big Ass Gun) and EML (Eat My Lead). Faraday found this habit annoying.

They were not going to inform the Yanks they were there, because it would greatly piss the Yanks off. This was, in Jon's mind, FUBAR beyond FUBAR (and you really don't need a definition for that, do you?), because if the Yank team did attack them, they were screwed.

The three teams of support were all SAS type PIC operatives, all in the standard black combat fatigues of the PIC with the skull and wings emblem. The entire team was equipped with standard issue assault rifles. In short, they were ready for nothing except boggo standard infantry, and there was almost no chance of encountering that.

"Right," Faraday said in the helicopter. "Plan?"

"Plan?" Jon replied, glancing at him while checking his gun. "You're asking me?"

"You're the ghost jock," Faraday smiled.

"Huh," Jon snorted, standing up as the copter landed. "Remind me why we're here if we're not informing the Yanks?"

"Ours not to reason why," Faraday quoted.

"You're there," Carmichael said over the comm, "because our MI5 guy said that his ATC guy said that the world is gonna end in a big ball of flame if someone doesn't do something, and he doesn't trust FEAR to do a goddamn thing."

"Wow," Jon said, surprised gracing his features. "A straight answer from the brass. I'm going to have to check the sky for flying pigs later…"

"Another time," Carmichael's voice said. "There's some kind of interference, we're lsoing contact..."

And then the copter reached Fairport's Auburn District. Which had a mushroom cloud over it.

"Oh fucking hell," Faraday said.

"I'd call that interference," Jon said softly.

How to react?

He looked around the burnt and wrecked streets. There wasn't much to see. No people, no soldiers, no ghosts… although there was a weird feeling.

"You getting that?" he asked Faraday; the GG (Gun Guy) was a little ahead of him, and he glanced over his shoulder at Jon.

"What?" he asked.

"The feeling of CDS," Jon clarified. And then he clarified again. "Creepy Dead Shit."

"I'm getting a funny feeling," Faraday said, stopping and looking around, "but I don't think it's creepy dead shit."

"Right," Jon said, inwardly sighing at the man who worked for a paranormal combating force and yet didn't believe in ghosts. "Of course."

Fuckin' sceptics. That's why the bloody PIC teams had to have one Regular Army and one SAS or other hard-arse – because all the bloody hard-arses wouldn't believe there were ghosts until they were having their arses handed to them by one, which surprisingly happened a lot more than it ought to.

"So…" Faraday said. "Given the Origin facility is in bits, and that there don't appear to be any creepy dead things or similar – why are we still here?"

Jon glared at him, before taking point. Command gave no answer – this close to where the explosion had happened, they could no longer contact Carmichael – but Jon didn't mind. CDS had to be fought, this was obvious.

He didn't know why, but he knew there was something up, something not quite ordinary going on…

Of course there is. There always is.

He stopped. That voice had not been his.

Of course it wasn't, Jon. It was me.

Jon tilted his head, and aimed his gun, his eyes widening. There was a man standing in the street, tall, wearing a leather jacket and sporting a crew-cut. Tall-ish, wearing a military style uniform… face covered in blood. A familiar face to one who had read the reports.

Paxton Fettel.

"Shit!" Jon swore, firing – but Fettel vanished.

"What the hell are you shooting at?" Faraday asked, stopping by Jon's side. Jon looked at him, but the other soldier didn't look as though he had seen anything untoward at all.

"Thought I saw a…" Jon said, and then he stopped.

"…right," Faraday said, before walking off. "Come on – some warehouses might have something to look at – you never know."

Jon nodded tightly – warehouses were perfect for finding creepy shit, which was technically their job – before walking after Faraday. And then he stopped.

He heard laughing. He turned on his feet and looked for the source of the noise; it was a girls voice, of that he was certain.


Creepy Dead Chicks with Powers Of Death And Destruction.

Not the sort of thing he wanted to meet – even though it was technically his job – so he walked quicker after Faraday.

When they reached the warehousing area, they could see that someone had been busy – there were bodies lying all over the place, shot to bits with BAG and BAE (Big Ass Guns and Bigger Ass Explosives) and such. There was also gunfire from further in. Certainly, something had been busy around here.

"Replica's," Jon said. "Clone supersoldiers."

"Not so super," Faraday smiled. "Ok, now we know there's action coming up," he added, gun raised. At that, he ran forwards, eagerly – only to stop suddenly, as though he hit an invisible wall.

And then he began to float.

"What the fuck?" the hard-arse soldier swore. "What's going on?"

"Stay calm," Jon said, running forward to him, his paranormal-expert mind already working on what to do. "Creepy dead shit must have you in some kind of floaty-sort of grip… thing."

"THIS IS SUPPOSED TO HELP ME STAY CALM?" Faraday yelled. Jon looked around, but could see nothing that would indicate what had just happened.

And then he could.

There were humanoid apparitions, naked and grey and very dead and ugly looking – and they were coming right at him. His army training made him aim and fire, but his nerves shattered into bits like a shot, and he screamed at them.

"Argh! DLI! DLI!" he yelled, firing like hell. Faraday too, hanging in mid-air, opened fire, although some of his shots went wide – and then Paxton Fettel appeared.

"The fuck?" Faraday yelled from mid-air. "Fettel?"

"Oh, now you can see him!" Jon yelled. "Bloody brilliant!"

"You should not be here," the creepy cannibal psychic guy said to the PIC men. "This is none of your concern."

"Say that when I'm down on the ground, wanker!" Faraday screamed at Fettel, defiant to the last. Jon aimed a gun at Fettel, and started firing, but nothing happened except Fettel smiling.

"When you're on the ground?" he said. "As you wish."

And with that, Faraday hit the ground so fast that he made a minor impact crater and was squashed into several dozen small bits of dead thing and cloth, his gun smashed, his frame unrecognisable. Jon swore like hell and fired some more, but Fettel did nothing else except walk over to the dead man's mortal remains, and speak.

"You should not be here. This is none of your concern."

The cannibal smiled, and then turned to Jon.

"As for you," he said slowly, "there is something about you. Something I cannot place. For that, you get to live; for myself at least. I cannot speak for her..."

And he vanished, along with his creepy dead shit, leaving Jon alone with his thoughts.

And the two guys aiming guns at his face, one an African American with a Delta uniform, one a balaclava wearing man with the FEAR uniform – in nice whitish grey – on.

"Um…" Jon said, hands rising slowly, "I can explain almost nothing… except," he added with a confident voice, "that I believe that it's all insanely FUBAR, and just a bit CAF."