Interval 0: Recollection.
What's the first thing you remember?
"This whacko's name is Paxton Fettel…"
A life of waking from one nightmare only to find yourself deep in another…
"You got to be fucking kidding me. This is why nobody takes us seriously, military clones...?"
Is someone there?
"Put Fettel down and it's over."
I'm waiting for you...
"You still don't know do you? Who you are? Why you're here?"
You have no name… no history…
I am… I am…
The First Prototype. A failure.
I am walking through the small, apparently abandoned building. It is dark, the electric lights either switched off or failed in the years since anyone has come here, and I am forced to use my torch to see the way in places.
My mission here is to neutralise Paxton Fettel, property of Armacham Technology Corporation, and a psychic commander apparently in charge of a battalion of cloned super soldiers. This mission is of vital importance, and I intend to succeed in it.
The mission is important. The mission is always important. Coming before anything.
I am in a way fortunate, in that so far there appears to be nothing particular here to stop me. The worst obstacle I have yet to face is the door to the building, which I broke through with no great effort. Still, I remain alert – better soldiers than me have been killed by being overconfident in situations that started out very much like this. I am not overconfident. I am prepared. I am alert.
I walk through the dark, dirty corridors into what appears to be a lobby entrance, filled with fire and the sounds of people in pain and babies crying – somehow, this is not strange to me – when suddenly, in this room, glass smashes – this immediately grabs my attention somehow, despite the fire and the crying and the screaming, and I aim my pistol, but it is only Spencer Jankowski, my superior and partner in the field. His empty eye sockets, bleeding down the grey skin of his face, somehow do not disturb me as much as they might any other day.
"Hey bro, what took you so long?" he asks, his voice taking on an echoing quality that it doesn't normally do. Judging from his informality, I guess that it is not a question he desires an answer to - a "rhetorical" question. People are strange like that. "Try to find another way around."
This is an order - I nod and move to follow it, as he fades into ashes where he stands – I briefly wonder why he has done this, but dismiss it.
I ascend some nearby stairs until I come to double doors - something flickers on my HUD, a transmission of some kind - "unknown origin"? According to the briefing on this HUD system, which is new to me, "Unknown Origin" means that the signal I am receiving isn't anyone on our secure channels, which shouldn't by any means be possible. I approach the double doors, and I look to see a little girl standing behind the door. I immediately attempt to force open the door, and succeed in doing so…
This is strange. The little girl is gone. I ascend another set of stairs to another door in the hopes of finding her (civilians cannot be allowed to wander around a military conflict zone, even one this clandestine: the security risk they represent is great and the risk to their lives - especially if a cannibalistic lunatic is on the loose - is greater), and push against the door…
"I hate you daddy!"
I am back at the first set of double doors. I have no explanation for this occurrence. I shake my head, trying to clear it of a lingering fog of some kind, letting the words I heard fade out of mind. Somehow this seems - this place, what I am experiencing - very familiar but I cannot quite place how… it is irrelevant. Not part of the mission, and the mission - my orders - must come first. I continue through the building. Although I am focused on my mission, I do notice the strange occurrences: doors slamming shut, strange noises. These things, which, if I were a different, less highly trained operative, might be unnerving, cannot be explained immediately and so I do not try. Instead I remain focused on my mission. I soon link up with Jankowski. He indicates a nearby door and we stand outside it, guns raised.
"Ready?" he asks. I nod in reply. He indicates a nearby door, and we break into the room with a hearty kick. Almost immediately, Jankowski dissolves into ashes again (he seems to make a habit of doing so), the world blues slightly and feels… dreamlike, out of focus, but I still have my mission, and I advance to find
You were born here. In this place.
a body, left sat in a chair. White male. Partially cannibalised, which is a sign of Fettel's presence – for some reason he eats his victims; our technical specialist, Jin Sun-Kwon – for some reason thinking of her elicits a twinge that is not fear, dislike or suspicion, but I have no time to think about this – believes that he consumes the bodies for a very specific reason. Jankowski returns, and radios for Jin to come here and look at the body. At Jankowski's instruction, I search for Fettel, ignoring the lingering
I was there.
feeling that I am missing something – something vitally important. What could it be?
This is all wrong. All of it. Something is nagging at the back of my mind as it shouldn't nag the mind of someone with my training. I know my mission must come first, but my mind wanders, as I have not let it in so many years...
So caught up am I in these strange thoughts that when I turn a corner and am hit in the face with a plank, I barely notice, instead blacking out for a moment. Over my dazed state, I hear a voice.
"It's you. Well, well. I am surprised."
I open my eyes, setting them on Paxton Fettel ("…property of Armacham Technology Corporation. They're working on a contract to create an army of clones that respond to a psychic commander") in person for the first time (and not the last).
"I suppose I shouldn't be. There is no such thing as coincidence, is there?" he smiles, half quizzically, half sadistically. "The dead man's name…" was Charles Habbeger. I remember him… but are the memories mine or hers?
It makes no difference. He deserved to die.
I remember now. This happened before. This – what I am now experiencing – is nothing but a memory. And I am, therefore, dreaming.
They all deserve to die.
And then a voice grabs me and hauls me awake.
"Wake Up Brother."
Dreams are something I should not have been having. I don't have time to dream. I don't have time to sleep. My eyes snap open, and I am as alert as I can be, and I find myself staring into Paxton Fettel's dead eyes: at least, he's meantto be dead. Saying that, being "meant-to-be-dead" doesn't seem to be a guarantee of anything anymore. He is also, as I have only recently discovered, my brother, not the first unwelcome family revelation of the night but certainly one of the more unpleasant one's, given the fact that he is an insane cannibal. And now a ghost.
"I see your little beauty sleep hasn't done you any good," he says, smirking. I want to shoot him, for a variety of reasons, many of which are to do with the bad night I have been having, but I can barely move. "I suppose it's pointless telling you that no more help is coming and that you might as well give, you'll presumably just try to fight anyway."
I summon the energy to spit at him. Since he is insubstantial it goes right through him, and he frowns at me, more in annoyance than genuine anger.
"Now is that any way to treat your brother?" he asks. I ignore him, and stand up, and he fades away into dust. "Fine," his voice says all around me. "I'll leave mother to pay her respects." I ignore this – in retrospect, this will turn out to be a mistake – and begin limping back the way I came, only to see a familiar visage that seems to be standing in the far doorway – a visage that has been haunting me, stalking me, all night.
Tall, emaciated, naked, fire in her eyes, and in fact behind her as well, which suggests that she is attempting to destroy the entire building – I experience another twinge as I realise Jin Sun-Kwon's body is still in the building but I ignore this.
My mother, Alma Wade. This one, the angry, adult version that has been assailing me all night, killing my friends indirectly (Jin - and some part of me I wasn't sure I had squirms slightly, though I immediately brush it off - and Holiday, about the only competent member of Delta Force I've met, although there has to be some new way of measuring competence around the undead nightmarish creations of a tortured psychic and her deceased, cannibalistic son) and generally being evil, is now apparently blowing up the hospital. Fuck this, I decide. Even though the course of action I take is suicidal and will no doubt lead to my painful and very messy demise, she is my enemy and I'm going to take her down, one way or another.
I grab my pistol, still thankfully in its holster, and begin firing at her, determined to at least go down fighting. She sends nightmares - creatures that float on no legs and have glowing eyes - towards me, and I destroy them with ease – they dissipate with one shot. I am momentarily confused. Not at the way she's attacking - though tactical sense would have had her materialising near me and liquifying me, tactical sense from a dead woman with the mind of a tortured eight year old having the mother of all temper tantrums isn't something I expect. No, the thing that confuses me is something I think I've seen previously (I say 'think' because, as this entire situation proves, nothing is certain anymore). Alma's emaciated adult form that is attacking me here is not the only one running around.
Bizarrely (by even the standards of this strange situation), there is also a version that takes the form of the eight year old, red dress wearing homicidal maniac child that menaced me before, during my entire mission to kill Fettel, except that one is now - apparently - benevolent, at least towards me. As Paxton Fettel himself said earlier, nothing much makes sense anymore. The confusing thing is, the red dress wearing child and the emaciated adult appeared to unite in one of the many psychic episodes I have had while I've been in this place, on this insane mission. Does that mean she definitely wants me dead in both forms? Or was what I was seeing something else?
It doesn't matter. This night has been one long run, an exercise in futility, a walk towards my inevitable fate, which is, apparently, here now.
She walks towards me, taking her time as I empty clip after clip into her. My mother - another unwelcome familial revelation of the night.
It is, I suppose, ironic that the night I find out who most of my family are, they all die, in rather unpleasant ways.
Harlan Wade, your classic evil scientist who sees the light at the end. A monster to be sure, but he apparently knew he was. "It is the way of men to make monsters, and it is the nature of monsters to destroy their makers," he said. Did he regret every horrible thing he did? Maybe.
Alice Wade, apparently my aunt, so cheerful and alive. Young, as well.
Images flash in my mind of the two, in a sanitorium, in another vision I've had this night. Alice so scared and shaking, Harlan sat in a corner, slumped and resigned. Though he could be said to deserve his fate, somehow I can't agree with that about Alice.
Family. A strange concept. Before my brother made me question my heritage it had never occurred to me that I lacked something others had. I would often hear Jankowski speak of his younger brother or Jin of her parents, and I never thought to wonder, "why don't I have that?" It is not my place to wonder, I would think. I will follow orders, and complete my mission, I would think. It's strange that I never knew them, and seemingly never wanted to – why is that? Was I programmed not to care by Armacham? I find I do not even truly care now – my motivation for this, what will probably be my final act, is still the mission. I wouldn't put it past Armacham to have programmed me to be like this, but if so, why did they not just kill me? Why am I here? What do they gain?
Thinking back to the question of family, my attention must of course turn to two of the nastier members of that constantly shrinking group: Paxton Fettel and Alma Wade, both returning to consistently haunt me.
She is still there, not fading into ash even as I keep firing every bullet I have left at her. She keeps walking, reaching the stairs. I back away, firing more. I am going to die fighting my mother. Will I return as a ghost? If I do, I swear I will haunt those two forever.
Suddenly, I hear a noise I could not have hoped for: another helicopter. Rodney Betters must have apparently sent it to pick me up after losing contact with the earlier one. Alma has vanished through a door, meaning that any moment now she will enter from the door to my right as I look for the copter. I face the door, aiming my pistol, even as the copter closes in. Then, without warning, she charges out of the door at what seems like the speed of light, grabbing my arms and pushing me to my knees, staring into my eyes with dead eye sockets…
Bullets rip through her flesh from the general direction of the incoming chopper, and from her lips comes an unearthly hissing sound as she turns to face the cause of her pain - and I take my chance, grabbing her thin form - it is surprisingly easy to do so, given how dangerous she supposedly is - and pitching her off the top of the building, watching her fall. I don't know whether she vanished before impact or fell to the street and I truly don't care. Instead of looking, I await the chopper, and as it lands I jump on quickly, allowing it to leave before she repeats the trick that crashed myself, Jin and Holiday in the first place.
Fettel doesn't bother wrecking this one I notice. I briefly wonder why, but remain thankful that he has decided to leave me alone for the time being.
I sit down, and face my rescuers, both men in F.E.A.R uniform, one older and grizzled, one younger, sporting a goatee. He seems familiar…
"David Raynes," the older man said. I nod at him. "Any survivors from your squad?"
I shake my head no, gaze still wandering to the other man. He looks back at me impassively, and neither of us speak. This man is something different… I can't place my finger on it. I sigh and remain silent as the helicopter continues its journey.