F.E.A.R. Consequences


Disclaimer: I own nothing that's recognizable as the intellectual property of someone else.


Interval 01: The Great Escape...


His new Strader Mk. VII a strangely comfortable weight in his hand, Xander proceeded to stride down the hallway. Leveling it before him, he fell into the long, assured strides that had been part of what he liked to call the 'refresher course' of his training.

But the prison itself was a shithole. The poor lightning in the whole damn place meant that it was apparently perfect for psychological warfare. It looked like Armacham commandos had apparently commandeered what had to be a condemned maximum-security prison before transforming it into an impromptu command post.

Why?

He didn't know.

And if he was being honest, he didn't care.

Not with his psycho brother Paxton and his crazy mama Alma running around as vengeful ghosts on the rampage, anyways.

Somewhere in the back of his head, the Hyena spirit giggled. Whether it sensed that he was on the prowl again, or simply determined to spill blood, it was something that Xander really didn't want to dwell upon for too long. That way lies badness and the whole idea of psycho-Faith's whole 'want, take, have' philosophy. Not something able to contribute to a healthy state of mind, no sirree Bob.

No, right now he had to figure out what exactly was going on. And if need be, he had to be able to stop it in its tracks. Plus, the whole prison smelled like rotting flesh and dried blood. Oh, well, that's just great. Vamps probably would've had a field day in this little Hellhole.

Dismissing that though, he reached the first door, which was little more than a sliding cell door, his radio crackled with an incoming transmission. Tapping the earbud, he heard some anonymous stooge say, "Negative, command. The subject's still being escorted up from solitary."

Halting in his tracks, the one-eyed man bunched himself up against the wall. Panting slightly, he tried to assess this new development. He'd managed to access the radio frequency that Armacham's cleanup crew was using? How- of course. It had to be Paxton again.

Why? Why was Paxton so obsessed with him? He'd put a bullet in the man's head and killed him. Did that guy really think that he had transcended flesh, like every other incorporeal creature with a god complex? He just couldn't help but be glad that the First Evil hadn't popped in at some point. Willow did mentioned that it'd been 'scrunched,' in her own words. Whatever that meant.

Slowly sliding the door open, he peeked his head out, quickly looking left and right. His right was a dead end, littered with debris. So he turned left, only to notice another series of cell-type doors dead ahead.

Wonder of convenience, there was an open corridor on the end, all the way down the end of the corridor.

Nervous, Xander thumbed the release lever of his Strader and quickly counted off the rounds in the mag. Twelve, which meant it was fully-loaded. Slapping the mag back into the Strader, he slowly stalked forward. The prison being so damned dark, the stench of dried blood in the air, that little glimpse of Paxton only minutes ago... all of it added up to something REALLY not of the good.

But then the radio crackled again, which had him hiding behind an overturned desk. And just in time, too, as another voice on the radio spoke in response to the first question. "Copy that. Do you want us to pacify the subject before transport?"

There had to have been an unspoken reply, because all he heard next was, "Understood. Subject will be pacified before being transported. Bravo Four-Three Actual out."

Shit.

They didn't know that he was out yet, but Paxton had some terrible timing. Goddamn Powers-That-Be.

"Goddamn thing's rusted shut." A male voice up ahead suddenly griped. Halting in his tracks, Xander let Soldier-Boy the Professional come to the fore and assess the situation.


One man.

Garb and appearance indicates Armacham clean-up commando.

Sounds inexperienced, but it's reckless to presume anything.

Using stealth, sneak up on him, using slow, steady strides.

Swap Strader out for use of bare hands. Combat knife now kept in sheath held on left side of chest, near left clavicle.

Assessment complete; stealth kill possible.

Enemy combatant is condition white, not minding his surroundings in favor of his task.

Reach up, grab Armacham cleaner's head and simultaneously cover his mouth.

Effort to keep him from crying out, successful.

Cleaner head held in chokehold; right arm snaked under chin to grip enemy's left temple, left arm wrapped over enemy's head to cup enemy's right temple.

Increase pressure of grip.

Pull arms apart.

Muffled crunching-cracking noise indicates successful implementation of neck-breaking technique.

Grunt of effort heard from down the hall.

I freeze.

Another male voice calls out, "Yeah, it's no good here either. It's not wanting to budge."

No longer needed here. Get back out there, rookie.


Xander shook his head. He hated it when Soldier-Boy threw him back out there like that. Oh, sure, he now knew how to break someone's neck cleanly! But that's not of the good when most of the things that you've been fighting lately can't killed with broken necks 'cuz they're jumping out at you from out of nowhere and they're technically psychic manifestations!

Shaking his head quickly, he tried to get rid of his pessimism. Pulling the Strader out again, he walked past the dying guard and made a left to the next cell door. Of course, it just had to be locked. And with an actual lock, too.

Groaning to himself, Xander stepped back a little before lining up the Strader's iron sights with the door lock. When it turned red, he pulled the trigger, and a loud gunshot heralded the door lock falling off. Just as the door slid open, he could hear a guard yell, "Hey, what the fuck?" Looking off to his left, he'd noticed a collection of supply crates stacked waist-high just past the door down the corridor.

Crouching down, with his Strader already in hand, he crouch-walked all the way up to the crate barricade before taking cover behind it. His heart was pounding so loud that the rhythm of his heartbeat seemed to throb in his ears.

Then he heard it. Footsteps. That other guard was coming down the corridor to investigate. A real coup. Readying the Strader, well minding the fact that he now had only eleven rounds left in the mag, he pointed the business end of the weapon upwards. He could feel a bead of sweat, treacherous in its birth, trickle down the length of his nose and fall off its tip.

As he huddled himself up against the crate wall, a balaclava-clad head slowly emerged over the line established by the crates. Never one to miss an opportunity, Xander quickly lined up the Strader's iron sights and shot the commando in the head.

What happened was almost predictable; the forty-caliber bullet punched into the man's head, in-between the man's eyes. And since the shot had been made at point-blank range, blood spray had hit the ceiling as little more than a light sprinkle. Xander grabbed the collar of the commando's tactical vest and then pulled forward. Now little more than dead weight, the Armacham cleaner was slowly pulled to the floor.

Xander just smiled at the Briggs submachine gun that he could see being pinned under the commando's body. Holstering the Strader, he liberated the Briggs and thumbed the release lever. It looked like the commando never had the chance to fire the SMG, given that its ammo mag was completely full. Ransacking the commando's body, he came away with four spare mags for his new Strader, which he slipped into his stolen tac-vest.

Shouldering the Briggs, he vaulted the barricade and continued forward. He reached a console in short order, and found a rather obvious lever that had been pushed forward. Pulling it back, the door on his right slid open, but the darkened room in front of him had briefly lit up to reveal Alma with her right hand pressed up against the glass.

Xander shrieked girlishly, pulling up his pilfered Briggs and leveling it at the window. But it was already dark again. Groaning, the one-eyed man rubbed a pinky against the inner corner of his right eye, working out some crusty matter.

It'd been... God, how many days had it been since Armacham had captured him? He'd been unable to clean out and disinfect his still-burning left eye socket for all that time. He'd have to find a bathroom, if only to wash out that damn socket.

But the sliding door had screeched. Loudly. "Shit," he swore with his usual SoCal eloquence. Pulling out the Strader, Xander took cover, but managed to see a pair of commandos burst through the pair of swinging doors way down at the far end of the corridor. Leveling and positioning the iron sights of his pilfered pistol, the one-eyed man somehow managed to pull off a low-light headshot that killed one operative. But that still left the man's comrade alive.

This didn't go unnoticed, however. The other commando pulled up his Briggs and opened fire, sending forty-caliber slugs down the corridor. Xander winced as he crouched behind a barricade, managing to holster his stolen Strader. The stock of his own Briggs suddenly dug into him, and he suddenly wanted to smack himself. Duh! He had his own submachine gun! Shoot back, idiot!

Grabbing the Briggs and bringing it up to eye-level, he peeked up from behind his cover and noticed the only other commando there already leveling his own Briggs. But Xander had learned much about himself during his time in Fairport, including a use of enhanced reflexes that he had once thought that only a Slayer was capable of displaying. With these reflexes came an ability to slow down his personal perception of reality; almost like bullet time from the Matrix movies, because he could see bullets in mid-flight as he weaved around them, but his physical skills and strengths had also been enhanced by the many procedures that Armacham had conducted on him.

As he narrowed his eye, his vision began to take on a reddish tinge at its edges, as the world around him seemed to stretch into the distance. The commando's Briggs had begun to roar, unleashing its deadly forty-caliber payload with a coughing rattle, but Xander was able to raise his own Briggs, set it to full auto, and pull the trigger.

The converted H&K UMP design shivered in his hands as thirty bullets flew from the Briggs' muzzle and hit home. Xander could actually see each bullet shatter against the commando's armor or punch into the cloth-covered flesh of his neck, face, and head. His Slow-Mo state, as he liked to call the pseudo-bullet time ability that he had discovered, faded away just as the thirtieth bullet hit home in the commando's head and blew the back of the man's skull open.

And as the adrenaline faded away, the one-eyed man was left panting. He slumped onto the empty ammo crate that had just been his cover and desperately tried to catch his breath. Doing a Slow-Mo so soon after his incarceration hadn't been good for his stamina, and he needed everything he had if he was going to get the Hell out of this prison.

Slinging the Briggs over his shoulder and letting it rest at his hip, the one-eyed man then knelt in front of the commando that he'd just killed. What was left of both the commando's face and head was almost completely unrecognizable, little more than a mess of red-stained bone and muscle and gray matter. All three of which had been strewn across the wall behind him and now accompanied by blood that was slowly dribbling onto the dirty prison floor.

Xander gulped, trying to keep his gorge down. He'd killed a lot of humans during his time in F.E.A.R, but it never got easier. He knew that it wasn't Buffy's influence, because she thought that killing humans was out and out wrong because they had souls. The idea was laughable, smacking of fatal naïveté. No, killing fellow humans never got easier because each of them had families, friends, and loved ones that would be devastated by their death. And any normal person would have to come to terms with that concept, and that they had been responsible for robbing their victim of its life.

Killing the Replica Soldiers were easier because they were clones, trained from birth to be cold and methodical killers. But he still didn't know what to think about killing Paxton, who was supposed to be his brother. Mainly because he had no sense of fraternal attachment to the psychotic cannibal.

No problem.

He'd just deal with that guy after he finished with this whole mess.

Reaching down to the man's waist, Xander looted the commando's body. The magazine in the other man's Briggs was slowly refilled with the five bullets left in the magazine of his own Briggs before he then loaded it into his new weapon. The one-eyed man then took two more ammo-mags from the commando and slipped them into the pouches of his tac-vest, choosing to stack them atop the ones that he'd stolen from the first commando.

Moving onto the next commando, he looted that body as well. This time, however, he discovered an extra mag for his Strader and two more mags for his Briggs. He double-stacked them in his tac-vest's ammo pouches and found that they were now at full capacity.

Okay. That meant that he had seventy-two spare bullets for his Strader Mk. VII pistol and a hundred forty extra bullets for his Briggs submachine gun. No pressure. Just man's reach exceeding his grasp when it came to the supernatural, that's all. Again. And if he ever found out who'd been behind this whole thing, he was going to pay them a visit.

Then a monotone male voice announced over the prison's PA system, "Attention. Support units arriving. ETA two minutes. All squads prepare for receiving and integration of support units." Xander swore under his breath as he made his way up the staircase ahead of him. Armacham was bringing in reinforcements. He knew that they didn't know that he was loose, so all of the extra goons had to be for something else entirely. He just didn't know what, exactly.

On the landing at the top of the stairs, he found an open weapons chest. Grinning in spite of himself, he whispered, "Jackpot," as he took four R3 incendiary grenades and added them to the five frag grenades that he already possessed. He'd have taken more, but he was confident that he could pick up more from the dead bodies of other Armacham commandos.

Turning left, he suddenly found himself grimacing. Several bedframes, each of them stained with old blood, had been tossed in the right-side corner of his vision. He couldn't help but wonder what had happened to their occupants, but cast it out of sight.

As he climbed up the next set of stairs, he could hear a commando up ahead complain, "What's taking those assholes so long?"

"Who cares?" his compatriot sneered. "Just shut up and enjoy the downtime." A part of Xander, the commando, mentally rejoiced at the carelessness of these idiots.

So, in line of doing what he did best, Xander burst through the swinging doors and tossed a frag grenade at the two of them. But because he'd also been diving for cover, the deadly little metal orb only managed to drop itself in-between the two of them. And, as was about par for the course, the thrown explosive clattered against the concrete floor pretty loudly.

"Shit! Grenade!" One of the commandos yelled, just before Xander covered his ears. But the frag grenade still exploded with enough force to rattle his teeth. There was no telling just how much damage that he'd managed to do. And with the way his ears were ringing, he didn't want to know just how much damage a flashbang would do in a confined space.

Just as his ears stopped ringing, the one-eyed man muttered, "Note to self; reconsider using high-powered explosives in confined spaces." Shaking his head, he unslung the Briggs and slowly peeked up and over his cover.

But the rattling of another Briggs SMG instantly had him hiding behind his impromptu cover again. The tracer rounds that soared over his head meant that there was only one shooter. Panting, he peeked around the edge of his cover and noticed a third commando, down towards the end of the corridor, with a Briggs to his shoulder.

And, in spite of the fact that he was about to be killed, Xander couldn't help but admit that this guy wasn't stupid and was conserving his fire.

Still... the guy had left himself open by keeping his head up over his cover. Xander swapped out his Briggs for his Strader, and held it in a one-handed grip. Lining up its iron sights, he could feel his heart pounding in his chest as the sights slowly turned red and the peak of the front sight topped off at just beneath the commando's nose. Pulling the trigger, Xander instinctively used Slow-Mo to watch the bullet as it tunneled through the air before burying itself in-between the eyes of the last commando's head. Almost instantly, a fine red mist sprayed from the back of the man's skull, just as a small crater blossomed into existence. He was dead, all right.

As he stood up, Xander absently checked the ammo-mag of his stolen Strader. Noticing that there were now nine rounds left, he slapped the box magazine back into the pistol butt and yanked back on its slide. As the slide sprang back into place, and a new round slid into the firing chamber, he could suddenly hear Paxton's sibilant voice.

"Hmm... how quickly it all returns to you," his voice mused aloud. He actually sounded like he was hissing. The one-eyed man easily detected the serpentine condescension dripping from every syllable, and suddenly felt a chill run through his blood, as though ice water had suddenly begun to run through his veins and arteries.

Suddenly worried if Alma was going to generate another one of her manifested psychic horrors, the one-eyed man quickly swiveled about in a circle. His Strader out and at the ready, he could almost feel each and every last fluid ounce of adrenaline surging through his veins.

But there was nothing there.

Paxton had been talking to him telepathically again. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he groaned aloud, muttering, "This is gonna be a recurring theme with Paxton, I just know it..."

Then someone from behind one of the nearby cell doors suddenly yelled something. Xander knew that the guy was talking in Spanish, but he couldn't figure out exactly what that poor bastard wanted. And if he was going to be honest, the guy was probably dead man walking anyway. Leaving him to the nonexistent mercy of Armacham's goons was so not of the good, but what could he do? He had a nasty fight ahead of him already, and trying to keep a tag-along safe would strain him.

"I'm sorry," he muttered to himself. "God, forgive him his sins. God forgive me for leaving him to his fate." He couldn't help but feel unlike himself by praying to a higher power. After all, he'd been on the front lines for over ten years. In that time, he'd seen the worst of demon and human alike. Did he want some validation from God for his efforts at fighting the good fight?

Maybe he did, but he didn't know for sure. He had certainly wanted acknowledgment from his so-called friends and family, but all of the acknowledgment that he'd ever gotten was from the United States government, its armed forces, and his fellow soldiers in F.E.A.R.

But why was he thinking like this?

He didn't have time for theology or recriminations!

He had to get the Hell outta this prison!

He rounded a barricade before making his way down the corridor, and noticed that the passage turned left. Taking the turn, he found yet another barricade right in front of him. Raising his Briggs, Xander grimly prepared himself for any kind of opposition that he might encounter. His heart seemed to pound in his ears as he vaulted the next barricade. It was at times like these that he really cursed his 'fight-or-flight' instinct.

Making his way down the corridor, he noticed that the door was blocked off at the top but still left the bottom wide-open. He had no idea why anybody would do something like that, but he was glad that the whole door hadn't been blocked off.

As he crawled through the space that had been left open, he noticed a whole bunch of wooden office desks stacked on top of each other. Whoever had condemned this prison had left behind a whole lot of useful scrap. Putting that thought out of his mind, he made his way up a small flight of stairs.

A quick glance to his right revealed only a check-in desk that was groaning under the weight of several filing cabinets that had been stacked on top of it. Xander grimaced at the sight, and then turned left to find yet another sliding cell door. Grabbing the handle, he pulled and watched the barred door slide to the right.

It was only then that he noticed it. Sunlight peeking through the windows. Given how much orange was in the sunlight itself, Xander surmised that the time must be close to sunset. A slightly muffled voice to his right had him swiveling about, Briggs at the ready. What he wasn't ready for was that very same voice to say, "Pair of deuces on the board."

"Deuces?" Xander could hear the incredulity in the voice of a responding commando. He suddenly felt the need to ruin the day of the first guy, so he kicked in the door and slung his Briggs to his right shoulder. Only absently did he notice that there were three commandos sitting at a table with playing cards scattered around it.

"Aw, shit! He's loose!" one of them yelled. But Xander watched the red stains of Slow-Mo seep into his vision as he brought his stolen Briggs to bear and pulling the trigger. The submachine gun bucked and rattled in his grip as bullets corkscrewed through the air. Seven forty-caliber slugs chewed through the neck and head of the closest commando, reducing both to meat just before he turned the Briggs on the other two commandos at the table.

Now able to afford a little discriminate shooting, the one-eyed F.E.A.R. Point Man pulled the sighting scope of the Briggs up to his eye, targeting the second commando's head. By pulling the trigger, he sent five bullets streaking through the air, ripping into the second commando's skull, and reducing it to little more than mulch.

The third commando had managed to grab his weapon, but he wasted too much time fumbling with the weapon and caught six rounds to the chest and neck. Xander left the last commando choking on his own blood. Instead, he went ahead to deal with additional opposition coming from the much larger room behind the room that he'd just stormed and shot up. He could hear some grunt yelling, "We're getting torn up!"

Not in the mood for an extended shootout, he primed an incendiary grenade and tossed it into the larger room in front of him. Taking cover with the wall separating the two rooms, Xander winced as an explosion prompted inarticulate screaming. He could see a number of immolated silhouettes thrashing about animatedly before he took cover beneath the sill of the window looking into the larger room in front of him.

Then a sudden spate of absolutely rookie gun-handling behavior compelled him to prop the Briggs over the wall and onto the sill. He laid the American-made submachine gun on its left so that the ejector port now pointed up, towards the ceiling. Pulling the trigger, he then emptied the rest of his mag in a classic cinema-style "spray-and-pray" maneuver. He only hoped that Armacham's grunts would take that random fire as a cue to keep their heads down.

Bringing another frag grenade to his lips, he used his teeth to yank the lethal egg's primer ring out of its socket before tossing it with a one-handed reverse overhead throw. Then three bullets punched into his left forearm, and he yelled in pain briefly as the sheer fire blossoming from the wound seared itself into both his flesh and his thoughts.

God, that hurt like a bitch!

Panting, he slowly managed to use his right hand to grab a strap and sling it around the back of his neck, wrapping it once around his left wrist and bringing his left arm close to his chest. Using his teeth, he managed to tie both ends of the strap into a crude knot, which he then placed near the back of his neck. Sloppy field-medicine work, but he'd have to make do until he could find one of Armacham's medikits or medical boosters.

Knowing full-well that his Briggs was out of ammo, Xander pulled his Strader from its tac-vest holster and held it in a sloppy, one-handed grip. Then he leaned forward and popped off three shots to his left, hitting another commando just above the knee and sending him to the floor, howling in pain. Another bullet to the top of the soldier's head blew it apart.

"My whole fuckin' squad's wiped out!" He could hear another commando complain, just before a loud explosion rattled his teeth and shook some dust and paint chips from the ceiling.

Shit.

He must not have thrown that last grenade very far, and now he was down to three grenades apiece for both incendiaries and frag grenades. He was going to have to make them count, especially if he couldn't resupply himself with explosives so easily.

But, first things first; robbing Armacham's dead. He tossed aside his empty Briggs and pulled a new one from the bloodstained hands of the first commando that he'd killed in the room. As he removed the mag, he smiled once he realized that this ammo-mag was still completely full. Replacing it, he then slung his new Briggs around his right shoulder and let it rest at his right hip.

Then, he picked up another Briggs within reach, and winced as his left arm decided to complain about its new burden. Fiery shards of pain seared itself through his nerves and into his mind, making him wince as he nearly dropped the Briggs that he'd been gripping with his right hand.

Goddamn it, his left arm was going to be almost completely useless until he could find time to do some field surgery! Armacham's advances in the field of medicine seemed almost supernatural, somehow being able to promote greatly-accelerated bodily regeneration without all of the many risks that came with using healing magic.

If he'd stayed with Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies, he never would've heard about any of this miraculous technology, even if it was Armacham's intellectual property. If... no, rather when, he escaped and cleaned up this whole mess... he had a lot of things to do after he finally dealt with Paxton. 'Cuz, hopefully, he could do something to send his cannibal brother off to Hell for good.

Moving to the dead commando lying on the floor in the room, Xander noticed a pair of shadows out of the corner of his eye, and twisted his body so that he fell on his left side. Scrabbling to pull his legs out of a field of fire, he noticed several tracer rounds punch open divots where he'd just pulled away his feet. That would've been so much of the badness; take out his feet, and he couldn't walk or run, and then it'd be easy for Armacham's goons to catch up to him.

Then, as Armacham commandos began shooting into his cover, he heard it. "Frag out!" one of the commandos yelled, and even as his blood chilled, he was hauling his ass back into the room that he had just left. Diving under the windowsill and curling himself up into a ball, Xander gritted his teeth as a loud explosion had his ears ringing. With a firm grip on his other Briggs, the one-eyed young man pointed it to his left, ready for anything.

"Did we get him?" he could hear one of the commandos snarl.

"Shut up! We don't know that we got the prototype!" another hissed.

"Can it! Both of you! Flank the room! Go! Go!" a third barked.

As boots pounded against concrete, Xander closed his eye briefly before tossing a frag grenade to his right and made a break for his left. Diving behind the wall on his right and keeping his eye on the new window that he saw only a ways away in front of him, he distinctly heard someone in the other room yell, "Grenade!" just as a loud explosion sent debris and smoke flying through the opening between the two rooms.

The unique sound of combat boots clomping against concrete was even louder this time, and Xander tossed an incendiary grenade preemptively. A large gout of flame prompted a great deal of screaming as flame-wreathed figures thrashed about in a futile effort to quench the flames, even as explosions and metal shrapnel from detonating superheated bullets only ended up sending more shards of metal and lead in every direction. The stench of burning flesh, a Helluva lot more pungent than a barbecue, rankled at his nose and made him wince. He was down to two frags and two incendiaries now...

Panting, Xander pulled out his Briggs and riddled the thrashing commandos with another spray-and-pray that emptied the ammo-mag of the submachine gun, but then he felt something press itself against his left temple. A harsh voice rasped, "Drop it, prototype."

Shit.

He knew that his little escape attempt had been going all too well.