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Dust upon boots

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  08:15:48  22 October 2013
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On forum: 12/30/2009
Messages: 7
Dust upon boots

A story base around one of my rp characters for the ZSG 3.0 fan site. I felt I'd try my hand a some fan fiction for once. The title is just the working name for now and is bound to change once I have more of the story fleshed out. Right now I'm just getting the mood and my rendition of the zone setting right. If you like it drop some feed back on me.

Dust Upon Boots

The early morning cold and gloom was a distinct contrast of the warm rusty innards of the Skadovsk, Stalkers where slowly starting to shift out of the dark dreamlessness of sleep. They would wait until more of the sun’s rays penetrated into the Zone’s sky, for most mutants would be resting in their lairs then. There would still need to be reclaiming of certain key positions from blind dogs or a roaming platoon of zombies. Loners would visit their normal artifact hunting grounds and Bandits would lay in waiting for the overburdened to pass near.

One of these outlaws had a different design then his brothers in crime. He was a tall man nearly two full meters in height, but with a lean build. He had long hair that was as dark as the deepest lair or abandon lab that the zone held within. His ghostly gray eyes scanned his surrounding as he ventured towards his mission’s goal. This outlaw was better off than many of his kind; for under his long dirty trench coat hid a heavily modify SEVEA suit, its screen helmet removed. He carried himself with a distinct military demeanor, but if you looked for him by his true name you would not find any military record. In its stead one would find many warrants and bounty notices, a long trail of blood money hits and other manners of murder.

Given the birth name of Tosya Sergeyevich Arakcheyev, but he had gone by many different aliases over the years. However when he reached the ever alluring zone he was given the call name of Shade due to his like of shadows and dark spaces. Although a new blood to manmade hell, Shade had adapted quickly to this strange and deathly land. Perhaps it was instinct, but more likely than not it was just observation and clear unclouded judgment that had allowed for his continued survival. Still many Spetsnaz and Mercenaries with long and extensive combat and battlefield experience ended up leaving the zone in body bags more often than not. That is, if they left a body at all.

The Ecologist seemed to have a higher survival rate than others in the zone, but then again they never leave their bunker. The egg heads end up sending more stalkers to their fates each day with the lure of money and gear; few ever risk their own skins in this land. Stalkers that have made names for themselves did so by blooding their hands with the blood of their fellows. Your long time comrade might one day let you die because he did not want to share his last med kit with you or found that artifact on your belt more useful than you were. So called neutral settlements and bases only existed because fear of the Zone’s night overcame any greed or base desires that stalkers held in their hearts. At night’s end they would go back to their ways and continue to backstab each other, such was life in this blood stained land.

The Bandit’s trench coat brushed against the tall grass and reeds as he walked, causing a rustling sound that seemed to carry on for miles. He would stop and kneel every so often, listening for sounds of movement nearby. The amount of noise made by traversing the northern swamp in this manner troubled the bandit. However he preferred the cover given by the grass to the openness of the old roads, he knew how other of his kind eyed his gear. The mission he had accepted was a long way from where he was, and would take him through the Zone’s most dangerous parts.

The wind blew a crossed the lowlands, carrying with it the scent of stagnate waters and rot, years ago this land was famous for its rich farmland. Two ecological disasters later the waters only served to give off an unpleasant aroma, and a muddy hindrance to travelers in the area.

Tosya’s face held a clear expression of dissatisfaction, upon finding the prescavenged remains of a Loner that lay hidden in the reeds. The dark haired Bandit drew near to the remains; this poor fellow had failed to find cover during last night’s emission which was evident by the pools of pinkish, thick liquid that ran out of his ears. Most of that mess had been lapped up by the mutated canines. The beasts had eaten way the eyes and other soft tissues, leaving behind a gruesome and slowly festering sight. The blind dogs and their wolf like cousins had picked the corpse clean of their favorite parts and had left the rest to the rats and the crows. Unlike the dogs in the south that always hungered the northern curs where fat and bold.

Shade held his arm to his face as he found the thankfully undamaged pack, reaching over the remains he took hold of it but drew back when something hissed within the chest of the cadaver. Several rodents emerged from their bloody nest, rigid and snarling; ready to defend their new home to the end.

“Disgusting,” the bandit grimaced snatching the bag and retreated from the site. This disturbing spectacle was common in the northern reaches of the exclusion zone; the death truck did not make normal rounds as it did in areas south of the red forest. The bandit continued to navigate the reeds and grass until he found a relatively dry patch of earth, and began to sort through the new pack he had attained. The bag contained mainly dirty articles of clothing, pants, sweaters, socks and the like. A half use box of ammunition for common Eastern Bloc assault rifles, a few days’ ration of food and an unopened bottle of Vodka. In the very bottom of the pack sat a carefully bundle, cloth rapped item.

Shade took hold of the mysterious package, undoing the cloth rapping. A rusted Walker P9M and a small flat, rune covered stone was all the bundle contained. Tossing the useless gun aside with a snort, the bandit examined the unusual markings on the rock. They were like nothing he ever seen, as if they had been pulled from some long dead alphabet. A curious item to say the least but not likely to fetch him any money, still he put the stone into a coat pocket; a keepsake for amusement. Finding nothing else of interest the Bandit left the pack; removing his PDA he confirmed his location. The next leg of his journey would bring him into Jupiter; confrontation with the other factions was inevitable.
  17:54:14  30 December 2013
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On forum: 12/30/2009
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part 2

The reeds and tall grass became sparser and sparser, as the Bandit neared the dead Soviet industrial area. He paused to remove the trench coat, folding it and putting it away in his pack. There were fewer Bandits in this area, and many more other groupings that held hostility to his association. Few stalkers cared to double check the PDA network for information about their local contacts, and trusted the colors that others wore as an identification mark. Most stalkers of the north cared little for faction affiliation anyway, and where likely as not to shoot or greet each other, depending on the mood of the day.

He crossed a brook, holding his weapons above his head, so they did not become water logged in the waist deep current. The cold water would have otherwise been refreshing to the stalker, but the smell of swamp rot and the thick green sludge that floated along the top and clung to his body armor removed any thought of washing. What he would give for a bath, after weeks without bathing he was repulsed by his own stench. Even in the Zone’s inhabited centers hygiene was the least of the stalkers concerns, as clean water was a commodity. Most would rather use the resource for drinking or cooking.
Upon making it to the other side he saw the open lands of the Jupiter area, splashing off the slime that hung on his lower body the bandit climbed up the embankment. Nearby, from a top the tower of the Cement Factory, Shade spied a gleam of a reflective object. Reacting without much thought the bandit threw himself to the ground, trying to crawl to cover. Suddenly his radio crackled to life, and a tired haggard voiced spoke on the other end.

“Turn back stalker, there’s nothing here for you. Yanov station is under quarantine and the Military blocks the open routes to the south.”

“- I have business at the factory,” the bandit remarked PDA in hand.

“- Fine come up then, just don’t give us any reason to waste bullets on you.”
Shade slowly got to his feet, keeping his arms in the air where the others could see them. As he approached he saw a rather odd mixing of stalkers, mainly consisting of Duty and Freedom with a small hand full of Loners in between. Most of the men in the encampment where armed with shotguns, and other equipment useful to night time hunters. A few men that wore fresh bandages sat around a fire in the middle of the camp, surrounded by their armed comrades.

“- Bad timing to be coming to Jupiter sonny,” one of the Freedom stalkers greeted, he was an older man perhaps in his mid to late 40’s. Over his thin build a Dragunov sniper was casually slung on his shoulder, as he strolled over in an equally relaxed manner. The green suited stalker had been around the zone for a while; just exactly what gave the bandit that impression was unclear, but it was as if the zone had weaved itself into the man’s very being.

“I’m uncle Yar, but now a days its old man,” the elder croaked out warmly, “relax, we may be a little jumpy but we’re not going to shoot you. Got a name there sonny?”

“- Shade,” the bandit remarked taking a sharp inhale of breath, and slowly lowered his arms, “ what’s this about Yanov being under quarantine, I’ve heard no news of this until now.”

“- We sent a messenger to the Skadovsk, I guess he didn’t make it,” the old Freedomer pondered, “I don’t know too much myself, but one of the boys said that a loner came in to the station and that he’d been poking around some old lab. Brought a vial back with him, when he was showing it off he dropped it. Fellas started coughing and hacking not long after that.”

“- How did the army get involved,” Shade asked, “They don’t normally care for the wellbeing of stalkers.”

“- Must have heard the chatter over the radio,” the elder said, “ Not too much the clans or the army see eye to eye on but there are somethings that ought not be allowed to spread.”

“– That is agreeable,” remarked the voice of a new comer, as a tall robust Dutyer joined into the conversation, his green eyes sunken into his skull and dark hues hung under his eyes. His thick armor marking him a member of rank with the law making faction, however he didn’t carry himself as a man of military training. He was one of the first to dare tread this land during the early years of the zone.

“- Cut the niceties old man, we haven’t the time or the resources,” the Duty Captain remarked before turning to Shade, “ I don’t know who you are or why you’re here stalker, honestly I don’t care. You cannot stay here…”

“ - CAPTAIN KUNTSEV,” Suddenly a man from a top the tower yelled down. “ CHOPPER INBOUND!”

“- Shit! Not this again, everyone get to cover now! ,” the Dutyer yelled out looking towards the bandit once more, “Fine you can hide here just this once, but move.”

The encampment scrambled into the shelter of either the building or the tunnels that ran underneath. The wounded being pulled inside by the abled bodied, just as the drifting sound of rotors could be heard. Following the leadership of the camp into the underground the bandit pushed his back into the wall just as the sound of the engines grew louder. The Hind circled around the old Cement Factory for a few minutes, shining lights around the building. The stalkers pushing themselves deeper into the confines of their hideaways so that not even shadows poked out, moving out of the way of the spot light but ever so carefully as to not attract attention.

As the attack chopper left the area the sound of its spinning blades drifted away with it before becoming silent altogether. The stalkers slowly poked out of hiding before returning to their original positions.

“The next time you’re on your own,” the Dutyer grunted as the men settled back down, “we have no space for the likes of you.”

“Captain enough, he’s stuck here like the rest of us, he might even be able to help ,” Yar said before facing Shade, “ with the north cut off we aren’t going to survive too many more emissions, we had some scouts trying to find a path around the military but we’ve haven’t seen hide or hair of them. If you should find one or their PDA bring it here. We may yet find a way out.”

Kuntsev sighed; they had hardly the man power to send after the scouts, and their vital information. Whatever the stalker before him wanted with the factory was none of his or Duty’s concern however if he should find away trough to the south would be most beneficial.

“Do what you want stalker, just don’t kick up something you can’t put down,” the Dutyer said, “if you come a crossed anything that would be of use I might be able to find a reward, now get out of here before the next chopper comes.”
  20:09:03  20 February 2014
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On forum: 12/30/2009
Messages: 7
Part 3

Shade left the camp with due haste, the mild confrontation with the Dutyer reminded him just how much he hated these lands. His brows furrowed sharply upward and face red with rage; did no one know who he was in this land?

Outside the zone he was well known in his line of work, rivaling in the challenge of eliminating his targets that had hid themselves away behind security systems and armed men. Dogs, guards, even cameras and the latest technology where mere child’s play, but in the zone he had to start all over again. Contacts that he had built up over the years where now far out of reach and mostly worthless, just to reach the zone and get his gear he had spent what funds he had managed to keep.

The bandit took an inhale of breath, no time or need to be getting bend out of shape. He was not new at this he had to control his emotions and not allow bleeding pried to overtake him.

“Just need to start over,” he muttered softly to himself his voice just barely above a whisper as he cringed at the end of that statement.

Start over a term that only served to mock him in his failures to foresee a very blatant trap, his down fall into a lowly rookie in this land had been by his own hand. He failed to heed his one cardinal rule, never trust one who had forsaken. Had he not become emotionally attached to his partner he might have seen that she did not want him.

A rough laugh welled up from his throat, a tormented sound of self-pity, and self-loathing. No one cared for him or would miss him should something be fall him, in fact many would be joyous at his demise. He stopped dead in his tracts and looked up towards the sky as if to expect some divine message to appear before him. The only thing was a clear cloudless sky that was as devoid of all life and emotion as he was. His lips curled up from a flat line to a grin as if he suddenly understood the punch line to a joke.

Of course there was no higher power, no god or pearly paradise, what was he expecting. As a sudden fluttering thought passed into his head like a black butterfly; why just not end it now? He looked down at the dark unlively metal of his side arm, slowly slid his hand so that it rest upon it, but stopped.

His eyes where sealed shut as his face contorted deep in thought, much like a chess player who had found himself in check trying to contemplate his next move. A heavy sigh was released from the bandit’s lips, this is what his former partner and her newly formed syndicate wanted, he’d just be making things easier for them.

“Revenge is reason enough to live.” he said as he opened his eyes to new found determination, “just need to stay alive long enough, the money will come.”

He continued on his way, just as the wind blew aloft once more this time carrying a new foul odor with it. It had the chemical scents of burning rubber and gasoline, but also the smell of something more organic, smoldering meat or hide. The two scents mixed together in a sickening and very unpleasant aroma that caused the bandit’s stomach to lurch and turn. Green faced, he wished that his suit still had the closed breathing system; nearly gagging he pulled out a simple gasmask from an easily accessed pouch. He took a deep breath of the filtered air; the scent had been getting worse as he neared the buildings that dotted the area just outside Jupiter station. He could see smoke rising from a small open space just behind the stalker outpost, curiosity got the better of him and felt the urge to go investigate.

He kept his distance as he approached the origin of the smoke, having circled around to the side and found an overlooking knoll. He crouched down and pulled a pair of binoculars from out of his pack, and then focused in.

A few men dressed in full hazmat suits pulled an unsteady loner in a sunrise suit before a pit of open flames. The man was clearly ill; quivering intensely, coughing up blood and had a large lump on the side of his neck that oozed pus. One of the hazmat clad stalkers raised a gun to the back of the loner’s head, seeming hesitant to pull the trigger.

“Mercy killing,” Shade whispered lowly, it would seem that none of the stalkers at the makeshift encampment knew the true extent of the sickness. A shot rang out and the loner slumped to the ground. After a few moments the men in the full bio suits rolled the dead man over into the fire pit, the fire would eventually consume the loner’s body, suit and all.

The bandit slowly back away from his perch, now that his curiosity had been sated. Whoever the hazmat suited men where they had felt the need to burn the victim, perhaps worried that dogs or other beasts might go after the infected flesh. Then again; the bandit noted the absents of wild life it was if the very land was dead. There were no sounds of wandering hounds or mutant swine; not even crows just rotten silence. The zone was unsettling to begin with, but this kind of desolation was more than worrisome, the sooner he left Jupiter the better.

Staying off the road the bandit followed along the outer ring of the quarry, moving slowly and monitoring the skies for the Hind. The sun had rose it its peek as late afternoon set in, the bandit moved through some brush as a new sound caught his attention. Stopping he listen carefully, it was soft at first but as he moved closer he could make out the sounds of voices. Moving on to his belly he moved ever near, until he was able to make out the conversation.

“I’m not sick guys,” a young man pleaded his voice squeaking ,”I swear on my mother’s grave! Look I’ve never even been to Jupiter man!”

“You were just coughing!,” another voice stated, “you must have ran out of Yanov just before the lock down.”

“I just had some dust him my mask, man!,” the first man squawked nearly sobbing just as the bandit looked over the crest of the ridge, there were three men on the road from there suit Shade guessed them to be loners. Two men one with a sunrise and the other with a stripped down military Berill they had their weapons drawn and aimed at the last man, a rookie with a basic anorak.

“Look, Look I’ll show you! “the rookie whimpered unzipping his coat and removing his shirt, showing nothing but bare dirty skin, “No bumps or boils, nothing man! Please don’t kill me!”

The man fell to his knees crying and begging for his life, the other two were not swayed by the rookie’s pleas and stood ready to fire. However suddenly the bandit stood up and fired his Mosin-Nagant, working the bolt back he discharged the spent casing and fired again. The first round hit into the chest of the sunrise suit stalker dropping him nearly instantly, the other loner turned but it was far too late as the other round struck true and entered into the man’s head.

Shade stood absolutely still, and remained in firing position taking in huge breaths of air, he didn't move on his own accord, he did not want or mean to save the rookie before him. Eyes wide he blinked once then twice, confuse at to what took place.

“What…the fuck,” the bandit stammered finally lowering his weapon; his body had been forced to act as if it were a puppet being pulled by invisible strings and not by his own will. The loner still on the ground trembled for a moment then slowly raised his head looking towards the bodies of the other two. The man pushed himself up and nervously got to his feet bewildered, before jerking his head towards the bandit.
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