Betrayal of the Worst Kind
Disclaimer: I do not own F.E.A.R.
A/N: Just a little short story of what interaction between Fettel and Alma might have looked like after Point Man killed him in F.E.A.R. I wanted to give my thanks to Alardem, as our conversations helped inspire me to write another story.
Summary: Alma visits him like always, but Paxton Fettel does not forgive easily. Set before the events of Reborn.
Beneath the earth, his spirit grew restless. Evidently, it was a form of his agitation, a mood that he could never shake off, no matter how thorough he had been in recollecting himself. There is nothing in this place but dry thin air and the smell of burning rubble, the remnants of the explosion from before he had reformed himself. He separated fact from fiction here in the ruins of rock and fire, older memories (not his) swirling in his phantom mind. At first, he could hear the din of hell and war raging above him, constant and never-ending. Then came into his view, the image of a little girl with stringy black hair and a hate-filled gaze burning through him hotly like acid; slowly peeling layers of flesh and soul until there is nothing left but him kneeling on the floor not in quite a merciful position. Any man alive might have been frozen in terror at the sight, unmoving until it was their own blood splattered on the walls and gushing on the floor. But he was not just a man and he was living no longer. He was not that far gone yet, she would do well to remember that. Her form was clad in the red dress from his memories, and he remembered it best because that is her favourite. Surrounding her were onerous black wisps of smoke that seemingly trailed in from wherever she had been (above or the place beyond, he can never be certain anymore).
Just like her other visits, she merely stands and looks at him with malice dancing beneath the unearthly glow of her eyes. Perhaps she is aware that he had tried to reach out again, recall his army from their lost ways. It took more and more of his energy to establish a link, this spectral form incapable of radiating the same psychic signature as she. Each time, his persistence was met with failure. He is nothing but patient, his days no longer numbered and there are no more tasks that await him from behind the door of this cell. Yet he must work faster in the coming days. It aggravated him to think that they are lost to him, unable to hear his calls and return to him as their duty demanded. They were made for him, moulded for him. But they are all the same unseeing herd. None had stood above, blind to their own distorted purpose. They are nothing but mere fodder for him. And yet…
There is but one that shows promise, a different breed that has managed to escape the common trappings of his clone brothers - he can sense this energy, he can feel this mind connecting with his own in short bursts of grainy images, even if this soldier - no, perhaps man - was somewhat unaware of it. It is freedom crashing to the city. A rebirth like no other. When it is time, Paxton will act.
As if she knew his thoughts, she rapidly moved to appear in front of him, the distance between the two of them nearly absent. Her childish face looked cold and unwelcome, frozen in her unending hatred. He can feel the oppressive weight of her anger prick into his body, like a warning. So she does know. She must feel it too.
Deep within him, there is a painful pinch he'd long come to associate with loss, but he never pays it attention. It is not something that she would understand, or even admit to its cause. For too long she had always been that whisper in the back of his mind, slowly driving him to the brink of madness and back - until he could never tell what his own thoughts or feelings were. Kill them, she told him, kill them all. He had done it with the razor sharp edge of her power that thrummed inside him as he marched inside Armacham and seized their headquarters with brute force. All for her. It was all for her.
Until, of course, his long lost brother finally deemed to show himself after their cat-and-mouse dance at the Rammelmeier Compound. He was caught unawares as he feasted, losing himself in the memories provided by the meat and blood of Alice Wade. He thought her to be a crafty liar, so skillfully determined to act out an ignorant, innocent role - he even gave her credit for being so convincing. It had been his desire, as a boy, to see a theatre after all. But only a Wade must know where she was being kept, and so her fate was sealed. The clock had been ticking so fast in that moment, F.E.A.R.'s point man coming ever so close to entering the Vault.
When all was made clear, the man had raised a gun calmly and, with mechanical precision, ended his life. Funny enough, those short moments had told Paxton precisely everything he had ever needed to know of his brother and what had been made of him. Did she try to help, he wondered. Once all had been done, he questioned if she ever felt the pain of a severed connection, much like he did in his quick death. Perhaps she couldn't.
He lifted his head to meet her eyes.
"I cannot go against you," he spoke the whole truth. She is more powerful than he and cannot be curbed on his own, but she can never stop him from reaching out. He looked into her eyes, unaffected by the searing intensity of her glare.
"No you won't…" Her poison-laced whisper became a dull roar once she rest her hand on his forehead. It was like a claw had reached in and sunk its sharp talons on the edges of his brain. White hot light flashed beneath his eyelids, echoes of her past pouring in him like lava. The familiar old anger was there, but he is already dead and he has learned to resist. "Remember…remember what they did…they took you both…they killed me…."
He is not unused to the method that she chose, where once it had been a connection that gave him an unbridled rage and sadness (more than a bond and somehow less than love) - now it is nothing more than an assault.
"I remember," He tried to appease, flinching as he did so. "I've never forgotten."
Alma narrowed her eyes and stepped back from him, her energy shifting rapidly in her irritation. Once Paxton had died, any possibility of another Synchronicity event was extinguished. Two phantoms trying to connect in that manner was outright useless, but he knew that she could think of no other form to exert any control over him. So he is being kept here, in the same cell she had freed him from months ago. Too dangerous to ever be left to his own devices, she had sensed this change in his loyalty. He had wanted to set her free once, perhaps even before he knew the meaning of the word - she held a tremendous amount of hold on him, after all. In a way, the only one who ever could. But a nuclear detonation, total destruction, was far beyond vengeance. He did not know what to think, of being used in a way to perpetrate a world of nightmares.
"You want to betray me. My son…my own son…" She hissed, but there was no hint of tenderness in her words. It was not an endearment, but almost an incredulous proclamation. He could not be her son because he refused to be blinded by her. Paxton knew what she wanted. He picked it up in her most recent memories. It's why she chose that soldier with the enormous amount of psychic energy, an impressive feat for it being artificial and unnatural. She wanted a child (another tool) that would only devote itself to her. He saw notions of an anticipated love and nearly chuckled. His mother did not know love, had never experienced or basked in it. Paxton did not know it either, but he knew enough from what he read in his youth, and that at least is something.
Now that she has somewhat disavowed the both of them, a third replacement was more fitting. Perhaps he and the stranger that he called a brother had something in common after all.
"I am powerless here, mother. There is nothing to betray," He replied, still a picture of calm and collected. He neither proved nor disproved her accusation. He was not idiotic enough to anger her in this state, and lying to her is impossible. She saw everything.
"I know what your heart tells me…" She tilted her head to examine him, making sure her stare pierced straight through his skull. Like the trajectory path of the bullet that passed through his brain matter, leaving his body lying in Alice Wade's pool of blood.
"I have no heart," he said coolly, staring at her pointedly. If that was blame, she could choose to acknowledge or ignore it. He was not sure himself, but he knew having one was not a part of his rigorous military training. He'd been told that emotions could get in the way of the battlefield, and that it was important to have a cold head on his shoulders when giving commands, especially in extreme cases where he would be on the losing side of war. An eventuality that Armacham was not fond of discussing. He had to give them nothing less than perfection. This is where he learned to be ruthless.
There was silence in place of her usual whispers, but she didn't seem affected by what he said. Then she turned her head to the side, as if listening for something. But then he felt it. Ah, there was ripple in the surface, something that emitted a lot energy. He knew what had come, and why she had grown so quiet. She faded from his cell in flakes of ashes, the malevolent weight slowly dissipating from the room until he was alone once again.
The soldier's time is numbered, anyone who came across her path shared this aspect. For Paxton, time here in this space is immaterial. Weightless. He only had to wait and the proper moment would come. Briefly, he again felt that little pinch of doubt, a little seed of doubt that only came from a reluctance to go through with it. But then, of course, the betrayal of the worst kind came the moment she imprisoned him in this cell. She acted like the very scientists she so despised.
Alma gave him many things though. Hatred and death. Not only that, but Paxton inherited his power from her. As he said, so many things - but there was one notable feature that he shared with his mother, and that was her unforgiving nature.
In this place, beneath mountains of ruined structure, he grew restless still. His own host would come in due time, and Paxton started to prepare.