I'm back! *insert maniacal cackling here* So sorry for the wait, but hopefully it will all be worth it. This is probably the 4th version of this chapter, the other 3 having been vastly different. I do believe this one is far better though, and hopefully you all will agree. ^^; At any rate, for those of you who have forgotten, I have decided to name the Point Man Arthur for various reasons. I know this fan fiction stated it was initially to be told from Paxton's POV but, well, that changed and now it is going to be told from multiple POV's. Hopefully that will make it more exciting as I intend to include some unlikely points of view throughout the story.
Before we kick things off though I'd like to give a big shout out to Nightshade07, No One in Particular, Fettel's girl, electro moonlight, KafeiDetour, and no name for their reviews, as well as a shout out to all who have added this story to their favorites and watch lists! Much love to all of you! So without any more yammering from me, here is the long over due chapter 1! Please, read, review, but most of all, enjoy!
AN: Revised for vast changes in plot. Kickin this thing more original. Sorry F.3.A.R. but, well, you were sorely lacking. Hope you enjoy! Updates coming yalls way!
Arthur's eyes bolted open for the third time that night. Begrudgingly, he sat up, greeting the endless black that enveloped his room once again. Part of him wondered why this kept happening, why he kept awakening in near panic for no apparent reason. It had been going on for months now and the routine was beginning to drain on him. As he stared out into the black, he couldn't help but wonder why nothing in this world would give him a moments peace. But then he would remembered that dreadful mission that had occurred some nine months ago and he knew the reasons why.
With a sigh of resignation, he turned and switch on the lamp next to his cot. The lamp cast a dim glow throughout the small two-roomed cabin, sending oddly familiar looking shadows dashing for the corners with an irritated rumble as they tried to hide just out of the light's reach. He'd been seeing them again, those all too familiar shadows. They'd perch themselves on arches and rafters where they would stare down at him with their void, eyeless faces. Arthur had found that acknowledging them only invited more, so he grew accustom to turning his peripheral vision off at will.
But the shadows remained, their only purpose in life seeming to be that of torturing him, of making his attempt at anonymity damn near unbearable. Occasionally they even brought with them the memories of all the dead he had seen, some of them most unwelcomed indeed. Nothing a good hurtled object couldn't dissipate, but still, the imprint always remained, as did the many, many echoes.
He'd like to say he was surprised when he heard that haunting chuckle from the darkest regions of the room, but he wasn't. He wasn't sure how, but he knew he was there, watching as he always did, just out of reach. But Arthur wouldn't be the one to acknowledge him, to announce his unwelcomed presence. If he wished to lurk in the dark regions of Arthur's mind then so be it. Arthur knew there was little he could do to stop him. At the very least, he wouldn't give him the satisfaction of knowing he had gotten under his skin.
Arthur was pulled from his reflections with the sound of his radio crackling to life. The sudden noise had made him start. He had grown accustomed to the thing's endless silence in the last several months. Betters had told him to keep a hold of it, just in case, before he turned a blind eye as Arthur did his best to vanish from the face of the earth. "In case there is an emergency," he had said with a wan smile. But Arthur had known what he had really meant. In case he had to warn him of Armacham's coming. At first he wasn't sure he should trust him, but later he had come to appreciate the gesture. It was nice to know that at least someone gave a damn about his well-being.
A second crackling noise echoed from the device as Arthur swung his legs over the cot and reached out to pick it up. He answered the call in his usual manner, with a press of a button and no words, his preferred way of letting Betters's know that he was receiving.
Arthur's ears were greeted with the familiar mid-western accent of one of his only friends, only living friend anyways. "P. M.? It's Betters," he said, stress resonating in his tone.
Arthur felt a sinking feeling deep in his gut. Either something had happened or something was about to be asked of him, neither of which sounded very promising. He heard a very loud sigh emitted from his old team leader. "I'm gonna cut the crap and get right down to it," he heard him say. "Shit has gone past the damn fan and exploded all over Fairport, hell, all over everywhere. We tried to go in and clean up the mess after..." His voice trailed off momentarily. Arthur could sense Betters' apprehension to repeat the mission's name outright. "After...you know."
Betters' clears his throat awkwardly but continues. "But it didn't make a damn difference. Not one damn bit. Team after team just kept disappearing. Everyone I've sent in has gone dark. It's like they're a damn hive mind, buddy. You take out one piece of Armacham and the rest of the pieces just swoop in and rebuild. We can't stay ahead of 'em."
Arthur hears his old team leader sigh and aggravated sigh. "No one else can be bothered to help. Hell, half the damn government is helping the bastards cover up what those sons' of bitches did! And our people are gettin picked off one by fucking one. Now I'm gettin intel that they're movin about again."
Arthur's heart skipped a beat. What did that mean exactly? He wondered.
Betters must have sensed his reaction, as he responded in kind. "I know, buddy, I know," he said quietly. "That's why...that's why I wanted to warn you...That's why I wanted to..."
There was a pause as a dark reality set in. It was also obvious that Betters' didn't want to ask what he knew he had to. Arthur didn't like it, but he knew he was a fool for thinking he could escape it. Regardless of how much he fought it, this lot seemed to be his fate.
So be it…
He sent Betters his coordinates, knowing it was all the affirmation the man would need. There was another brief silence before Betters felt it best to speak.
"For what it's worth…I'm…I'm sorry…" he heard him say with yet another sigh. "…Meet us at the designated clearing. We'll pick you up and supplement whatever gear you need, fill you in on all we know."
Arthur grunted in acknowledgement as he started to ready himself for the long hike to the clearing, but was interrupted by a final word from his old leader.
"Be careful, buddy…"
After that, the chatter had ceased and Arthur finished gathering what remained of his old gear. He took one final look around the cabin. His time there had by no means been a reprieve, but it had been far better than any other alternative. He flipped the light switch off with a mental good-bye and reached for the door.
Arthur braced himself as he set out to traverse the woods in the shadowy night, but his partially adjusted eyes took notice of a man's shadow looming just beyond the threshold of his former inhabitance. Old habits kicked in immediately as Arthur instinctually reached for his gun and fired off a round between the man's eyes with alarming speed. But the man did not move, did not fall as he should. Fear gripped Arthur's heart as his sense returned to him, knowing the answers to such mystery were limited.
The puzzle was quickly solved as a dark chuckle returned to torment his temporal lobe. His eyes now well adjusted, he could see the form of a man nine months dead, a form he only wished he could forget.
A stream of blood trickled down from the scar on Paxton Fettel's forehead as a devilish grin danced across his face. His hate filled blue eyes glowed in the dark night as they fell upon Arthur once again.
"Hello, brother," Paxton said with all the malice laced sarcasm he could muster. "So good to see you again…"