On forum: 03/16/2007
Janov and Zaitsev I|
“You know that small bog, near the Valley?” He asked me all of a sudden while we were eating dinner: tuna and a few cans of coke. I chewed my food and answered. I knew he had something “great” and “awesome” in his mind again.
“Yes, Zaitsev. I know them and I pretty much hate them. What about them?” I should have been quiet, he had that look on his face again.
“You see, I heard that theres this fat stash there, filled with all sorts of goodies! We should...” He got too excited again and I had to stop his mad ramblings.
“No, we shouldn’t. We would just be killed by the bandits. Usually in your plans shit hits the fan and we run. Remember Pripyat?” Yeah, we were in Pripyat. And no, we didn’t get anything from there. Not a single crumble or piece of an artifact.
“Well, yes, but how could I have known about those guys? This ones a lot easier! Imagine this: a stash, sitting in a swamp.” He stopped and took a sip of his coke.
“And?” I asked him and he looked like he remembered something. Sometimes I wonder why I stick with him. When he is tired his brains are switched off and he turns into this mindless zombie with dreams of a better future and gets all these ideas of going to ultra-dangerous places with mutants, zombies or stupid people which I happen to loathe more than any of the previous.
“And what? Oh you mean what will we do with the stash!” He stopped again and munched his tuna loudly. “I heard that...” Another spoonful of tuna and he continues. “I heard that a guy, lets just call him John, was some rich-arse fella from the States and wobbled here in his tin can armour, wielding the best self defence portable nuclear launcher his daddy could buy. Well, a guy like this can’t go around without money, right?” Where is this going now? He greedily shoveled the tuna into his piehole.
“Yeah, I presume so. So where is this going?” He wiped the surviving tuna off his chin and continued.
“So I heard that the bandits took him out, and if he had a lot of money it has to be around there, right? I heard it was stashed before he died!”
“Yes, yes and yes. Now how do you know that it was stashed and not spent? The bandits are awfully greedy, you know.” I told him and he laughed a bit.
“I have my contacts.” Hah! His contacts were either: 1. Me or 2. The Trader. “Anyway, he told me that the bandits stashed the stuff in the middle of the swamp and left it there! Can you believe it?” Well, I have to say that the story sounded plausible, but I doubt the money would be stashed in a swamp!
“Actually, I cant believe that. But if we must go there then we shall. I can’t stand you hopping around and being all hyperactive.” I told him to shut up and lied down on the mattress.
“I’m not hyperactive... I don’t hop around!” He mumbled, turned off the gas lamp and went to sleep too.
I think we are pretty safe in our “headquarters” at the moment. It’s one of the best ones we have had with a good view too. Its an attic of some old arse house with the door locked and not many rooms downstairs. It does worry me a bit though, that the windows were open and the glasses broken. Nah, I shouldn’t worry about bloodsuckers or bandits coming here. Even they are not silly enough to challenge the daring duo: Zaitsev and Janov, the two greatest snipers of the Zone. Well, maybe the guys who drove us out of Pripyat could challenge and beat us, but those guys had high-tech weaponry and armor, whoever they were. Enough thinking... Time to... Sleep...
“Rise and shine, darling.” Zaitsev woke me up. Bastard, I could have slept a few more hours. It was only 6 AM in the morning. And he even had the guts to call me “darling.”
“What is it, honey?” I asked him and he smiled and hunched in the corner of the attic and looked out the window. It was raining pretty heavilly outside.
“Some people walking on the opening over there. Not sure who they are.” He put on his hood and readied his Dragunov SVD sniper rifle. I stood up and took mine too.
“Do you recognise them?” I asked Zaitsev and crawled to the other side of the attic and peeked through a small crack in the roof. No one on the other side of the house.
“Yeah, I think they are military. Well, they could be Freedom, but I think they are military. Yup, definetly military, that guy has a helmet.” He was measuring the distance and his foes.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, Zaitsev.” I told him so he wouldnt open the gates of hell on the military stalkers faces.
“Do I ever tell you how much of a bastard you are?” He said to me and laughed, then aimed through his SVD scope.
“Oh you are not doing what I think you are doing?” I stood up and approached him. He was aiming at the tin men walking in the field. I slapped him in the head and he got really pissed off.
“What!? Whats wrong? Come on, let me shoot at least one!” He lowered his SVD and hissed at me, while the military walked out of view.
“Now look what you have done! A perfect chance to blow that donut munchers head to the depths of oblivion! Let me...!” I interrupted him again and he calmed down.
“Okay, got it. Calm down.” He said and after a few seconds of silence, I decided to tell my friend what happens to the people who shoot at the military.
“Yeah, but... You know, we could shoot the helicopters too! And if they survive the crash we shoot them again! Yeah!” He got excited again, but stopped after we heard someone at the door downstairs.
“Bloodsuckers? Bandits? Horrendous tentacle monsters? Soldiers?” Zaitsev stayed at the window and gazed outside while I peeked under the attic hatch. No one in sight.
“Mutated pigs? Packs of dogs? Stupid people?” He kept going on and on and on, listing every single creature he had seen in the Zone.
“I’m going to get the food from the cabinet downstairs. Don’t want to starve to death here.” I told Zaitsev and crawled through the attic hatch and climbed down the stairs. I walked to the left, through the living room in to the kitchen and opened the cabinet. 4 sausages, a couple of peasoup and tuna cans and two large two litre bottles of Coke. Oh, almost forgot the bar of chocolate. Yeah, we aren’t eating very healthy, but who cares? I took all the stuff and went back to the attic ladder and knocked on the hatch.
“Password!” I heard Zaitsev shout upstairs.
“Screw you.” I told him and put the stuff on the floor and opened the hatch myself. Well, finally Zaitsev came to me and helped me take some of the stuff upstairs.
“Shh! Quiet!” Zaitsev suddenly hushed and dropped the food on the floor.
“What is it?” I asked him and climbed up. Right then I heard the footsteps outside. Heavy leather boots clomping against the concrete slabs outside. I crawled through the hatch.
“Don’t tell me they are coming here.” Zaitsev said and closed the hatch behind me.
“Just be quiet and don’t shoot every single thing with a heartbeat, please.” I whispered to him and dragged the supplies to the corner of the attic. Someone opened the door and came in. I heard them breathing heavilly in their gas masks and making all sorts of funny noises in their heavy armor.
“I smell like a sack of dead cats in this hellish combination of rubber and tin!” I heard someone say. By the sound of their footsteps they were wearing some sort of heavy armor, probably military stuff.
“Actually that’s not tin, its kevlar.” Someone else said and I heard them walk around the rooms.
“Smartass.” The first one said and then they went quiet.
Zaitsev crawled next to me and tried to see downstairs through some cracks in the roof.
“That ones really fat, you know. Good thing we didn’t leave our supplies downstairs. He would have eaten it all and would come up here and eat us for seconds.” Zaitsev looked at me and smiled, waiting for me to laugh, but I couldn’t. Not now. Well, I have to admit that Zaitsev was right, he is really fat. Or was it just the suit? I don’t know, but one thing I do know: they are a threat to us as long as they exist in our vicinity.
We spent the morning and the afternoon in the attic, waiting for the stalkers to go away, but they didn’t. Zaitsev was sitting in the corner, playing around with his SVD and being really annoying again.
“Can you stop that?” I asked him and he snapped out of his daydream fantasies, which probably contain a lot of nudity and a beach.
“Stop what? What?” He stopped fooling around, but instead started unloading and reloading the clips of the rifle.
“You’re doing it again.” I said to him after a while of watching him bathe in boredom.
“Doing what? What am I doing?” He smiled at me and stopped reloading the clips. Oh my god, I forgot that we weren’t whispering.
“We forgot to whisper, they might have heard us.” I told Zaitsev and peeked under the attic hatch. The hall was empty, but I could clearly hear one of them breathing nearby in his gas mask. He stepped into the hall and looked at me. For a few seconds, we both looked at each other. Straight into the eyes.
“Jackal... Hey, dude, dont shoot. Jackal!” He called out for someone called “Jackal” and backed up a bit with his hands up.
“Whos Jackal?” I asked him and pointed my Tokarev straight at his nose. He was standing a few meters away from me at the doorway leading to the living room. Behind him was the front door leading outside, so he had two ways to escape. I looked back and noticed that Zaitsev was missing, then I looked back and the stalker was gone.
“Jackal! Jackal!” I heard him shout in the living room, then I heard a rifle being loaded. Call me a nerd, but I instantly recognised the sound and knew it was a... Hmmm... Yeah, I was right, it sounded like a 47 or something like it. Could it be a Dragunov? Nah, he didnt look like a sniper. Oh yeah, almost forgot: I need to kill him.
I jumped down from the attic silently and sneaked into the first bedroom on the right and peeked around the corner at the living room. I slowly went to the other side of the hall, to the kitchen where I could see in to the living room properly. I saw the gun barrel of the stalkers gun sticking out behind the sofa. Suddenly, he turned his weapon around and shot three shots at me from under the sofa.
“Jackal! Come here quick! I need help!” He kept calling for the Jackal guy and couldn’t shut up. Then, a shot was heard outside, but I ignored it. I ran back to the hall and ran outside. I jumped down from the patio and hugged the wall to the other side of the building. I climbed on a trashcan and looked inside through the broken window. I was straight behind the stalker and he was facing the front door. I raised my Tokarev... Aimed carefully for the head... And watched his head get blown off by a bullet that whistled straight past my ear. Zaitsev.
“Double kill!” He shouted from some bushes far behind me. He stood up and took off his hood, revealing his ugly almost bald head.
“I almost had him, you know.” I said to him when he approached me.
“Sorry, mate. I will let you kill the next two we meet.” He said and put his hand on my shoulder.
“What happened to the other one? The “Jackal” guy?” I asked him and he pointed at a large armored corpse lying in some bushes. I took a cigarette and lit it. This will help me survive Zaitsevs bragging for the next few hours.
We looted the corpses and found some “artifacts.” An mp3 player, two Kalashnikovs that were of no use to us and we also found out that the guy we called fat wasn’t even fat, he just had a big bulletproof armor on. We also found some cigarettes, an army lighter and some 7.62 ammo. I don’t really care if we killed them, they sort of started it. It’s all about survival. We went back to the attic for the day and decided to not let anyone near the house. You see, the neutral people here, like us, use a special radio frequency to identify each others as simple stalkers searching for artifacts and trying to make a living and we decided to shoot everyone who approaches the house and does not respond. Well, we dont belong in the “neutrals.” Our last heroic deed of slaying two stalker pretty much proves that. People around here know us. “Janov and Zaitsev” they always call us. Never do they talk about just Janov or only Zaitsev. We’ve been always a team in the Zone, even if we really hate each other.
“Really crappy music here.” Zaitsev took off the headphones of the MP3 player and threw it into the corner with the rest of some loot we have gathered.
“Time to eat.” I threw him a can of delicious seacreatures: tuna!
“Have I ever told you how much I like tuna? Sometimes I think that tunafish are some sort of greater beings, made to be eaten. They are a gift from the heavens!” Zaitsev kept shoveling the tuna with his old army spoon that had a fork and a knife attached to it. Quite handy, if you ask me. Just flip and you’ve got a knife and flip again and you’ve got a fork!
“Actually, you have.” I said and ate my rations. I dont really care about tuna as much as Zaitsev does, but its good energy I guess. Can’t wait to get my hands on proper food again after we get back to civilization. Pork ribs... Chicken... Better stop dreaming or I will lose my mind.
“Hey, what about that chocolate bar?” Zaitsev suddenly asked me after a long silence and I snapped from my delicious dreams. He had the greedy shine in his eyes again. He does that really often. I mean he gets that greedy look often.
“We should save it for emergencies.” I told him and we both looked at the blue wrapped chocolate bar lying on top of the foodpile, like the crown on treasure piles found in fantasy novels. Zaitsev coughed and smiled.
“Oh come on, lets not start this again.” I said quietly, but Zaitsev just.
“A little bit of healthy competition wont hurt you, comrade! Haha!” He raised his fists and moved around like one of those old 19th century boxers in their silly tights. This time there were no tights, just a long green cloak and a stupid stalker wrapped inside.
“Do I have to beat you up again over a bar of chocolate? Go on, take it then. I dont even want it.” I lied to him. I want it. It’s the only delicious thing we have around here. Zaitsev just laughed and went to sleep. Somehow, I knew that the night would be restless.
I can’t sleep and neither can he. He is just rolling around in his sleeping bag and occasionally glaring at me. Suddenly he stood up.
“Ok, enough of this. If you can’t sleep because of this it’s better for me to eat it away then, right?” He stood up and walked to the food pile.
“Oh no you wont! Ha!” I jumped out of my sleeping bag. I was prepared for this! I tackled Zaitsev to the floor and grabbed the chocolate. I have always been stronger than Zaitsev and he knows it, but he still wants to fight with me over the silliest things.
“Finally!” He laughed on the floor at me. His laughter was uncontrollable and hysterical.
“Whats so funny?” I asked him. I didn’t really think what I just asked.
“Look at you! You’re running around an attic in your underwear, tackling me to get a bar of chocolate! You are truly losing it, my friend. You truly are.” He just kept laughing.
“Shut up! It happens to be my favorite brand and you can’t touch it! Ha!” I let out a fake laugh and just realized that I made a total fool out of myself. It was 3 AM in the morning and we were chasing chocolate bars and fighting each other. Maybe its time to go to sleep and get the rest we need to find the stash.
I woke up first, before Zaitsev could eat the chocolate or do something nasty to me while I sleep. Its pretty rare for me to wake up early, but for some “strange unknown reason” I woke up early. Ok, lets forget that chocolate. I’ll just save it and eat it when I get exhausted carrying my gear. I went to Zaitsev and woke him up.
“A few more minutes, OK? Piss off.” I heard a voice come from the depths of the sleeping bag. Its really cold and I think its raining outside.
“Gather your gear, we are going to find the stash in the swamp.” The rain outside can’t stop us. The mood that the rain caused was different though. We both felt tired and sad. I don’t know... Rain has that effect I guess. Makes nature look all gray and boring and usually its filled with colour and joy. Well not here in the Zone, but outside. Zaitsev finally emerged from his sleeping bag and gathered his gear, took his SVD and was ready. I put on my long camouflage coloured jacket and we both climbed down the stairs to the hall. It was really quiet. I opened the front door and heard the rain drop on the concrete slabs outside and put on my hood. Zaitsev coughed a little and we left the house. It always feels unsafe to leave a hideout... We some of our food and the loot gathered from the two stalkers in the attic, hidden behind some bricks behind the chimney. I doubt anyone can find them there.
We walked through some fields in the rain and no one was around. Nothing unusual about that. Around here, only military patrols and daredevils wander in this area. I don’t really know why. Nothing dangerous here in my opinion, but that might be because im not up to date with all the latest news. The military don’t open fire at us always. When they do their deep searches, they dont bother to touch the normal stalkers, they are too busy and are not paid well enough.
“I feel like singing” Zaitsev suddenly spoke out after hours of silence and walking.
“Why?” I asked him. Didn’t really care what he does, as long as he lightens the mood a little.
“Because...” He stopped and stared into the distance.
“What? Because of?” I asked him and stopped too. Something is wrong.
“Because I see a bunch of target practice ahead of us.” He pointed to the swamp in the distance. Next to the swamp there was a campfire, a tent and one guy with his hands in his pockets or in his pants, dont know, too far away to be sure. But let’s ignore his hands. His head is what we need to concentrate on. I mean, putting a bullet through his head.
“I bet you 100 rubles. That guy is up to no good.” I said to Zaitsev and we both stared at the guy in the distance.
“I go there and you go wherever you want to go, OK?” Zaitsev said and ran away laughing. Poor man, he is addicted to sniping.
I ran to the right and Zaitsev ran to the left. I hid in the tall grass and approached a small hill. A nice spot I guess. I saw Zaitsev climbing up some steep muddy hill. Thats going to take a while. Nows my time to even my scores with Zaitsev. Time to earn back that kill he stole. I sat down and aimed through my SVD scope. He was wearing a balaclava, which confirmated our suspicions. This guy was definetly up to no good. Wait, something further up ahead. In the middle of the swamp there were at least five guys burying three other men on a small “island” in the middle of the shallow swamp. There was fog above the swamp and it kept bugging my aiming. I planned for a while and radioed Zaitsev.
“Zaitsev, you see those guys in the distance? Over.” I asked him and waited for a while. I heard a crackling noise and Zaitsev panting.
“Damnit, the worst spot to climb, but a great spot to shoot those bastards! Let me at them! Open fire! Over!” He shouted into the radio and I saw the guy near the campfire, on the edge of the swamp turn his head towards Zaitsev. Did he hear him? A shot. Doesn’t matter anymore. He fell to the ground like a sack of shit.
“Boom! You’ve got to do some serious sniping if you want to catch up with me, Janov!” I heard Zaitsev shout in the radio. I ignored his taunts and aimed at the guys in the middle of the swamp. One of them panicked and started running away and was stuck in the swamp. I squeezed the trigger. One of them fell to the ground with a bloody head. I shot again. The one next to him slowly fell and the guy next to him panicked. I heard two shots and the guy stuck in the swamp fell back with two holes on his chest. Two left. I shot twice at the second one running away with his back towards me. One to his shoulder and one on his neck. One left and I had one bullet in my magazine. I must get him before Zaitsev does. The last one lifted his hands up and stood still in the swamp. I didn’t hesitate. I squeezed the trigger and heard two shots. Both bullets from two directions pierced the mans chest and he fell to the ground.
“I got him! I got the last one!” Zaitsev cheered through the radio.
“Actually we both got him. Over.” I said and smiled.
“Lets call it a tie, shall we, friend?” Zaitsev said and laughed.
“Oh, almost forgot: over.” He said with a serious tone and we stopped the conversation. I heard him laugh in the distance as we approached each other in the field between the hills.
“I’m still winning, Janov! I’m still winning!” He shouted at me. Let me count. He was right. He had killed five, including the guys at the house, and I have killed four. Damn!
“Ok ok, you are still winning, but not for long!” I approached him and said. The mood was right again. The rain didn’t bother anymore and we were close to the presumed location of the stash.
We wandered into the swamp to loot the bandits and their victims. They had killed three normal stalkers and were burying them here. There are mounds of dirt everywhere. They have killed a lot of people.
“Could these be the guys who killed Steve?” I asked Zaitsev and looked around.
“John! I called him John and these could just be the guys. The man who told me about the stash said that its in a swamp and there are bandits around and that John would be somewhere around. Dead. Not alive.” Zaitsev said and had a focused look on his face. He wiped his brow and looked around.
“It will take half an eternity to dig up all the dead people and I’m not sure if I even want to do that.” I didn’t want to disturb the rest of the dead. It’s not right.
“Yeah, but... Hmmm...” He pondered for a while. “If we can find some clues around these graves and find the exact one where John is hidden, we don’t have to dig them all up and we’ll only disturb one dirty yanks rest.” He said and started wandering around.
A total of... Seven graves, three bodies and one unfinished grave that one of the three would have ended up in. We buried the three poor bastards after looting them and started searching for “John.”
We searched and searched and searched without finding anything, until suddenly I saw a piece of metal stick out under the dirt. It was barely visible and very thin.
“Zaitsev, I found something.” I signaled Zaitsev to come to me and I started opening the grave. Soon a piece of kevlar was revealed under the dirt and the piece of metal turned out to be a wire sticking out from “John’s” exoskeleton armor. It was broken and the structure armor was severely damaged. I lifted John from the grave and dragged him out to the open.
“Search his pockets or something.” Zaitsev said and lit a cigarette and tossed the match into the swamp.
“Help me. I have to take off his kevlar armor to search his pockets. They are under it.” I said to Zaitsev and he mumbled something, took his hands out of his pockets and came to help me. We lifted the heavilly armoured man and it felt like we were lifting a truck. Finally the kevlar armorplate slided off the stiff corpse.
“This is goddamn disgusting.” I said, but kept going. I searched his pockets and found a wallet. A few hundred rubles and a U.S driver’s license.
“William Bobinger.” I said silently.
“What? Who? Oh you mean John? I thought all americans are called John.” He said and laughed.
“And we are all called Boris or Vladimir.” I laughed and searched some more. I found a cellphone with a computer. I turned it on and was greeted by a message asking for a password.
“Its asking me a password. Any ideas? It’s got four numbers.” I guessed a couple of passwords like “1234” and “4321,” but they didn’t work.
“Try 0000.” Zaitsev said and sat next to me. What the heck. I typed “0000” as the password and heard a stupid cellphone sound and a message said: “Welcome! You have 45 missed calls. You have 2 messages. You have 2 text messages.” I checked who had been calling him, before the cellphone was turned off. There were 23 calls from someone called “Martha” and 22 from “Dad.” Pretty sad, actually. I listened to the voice messages and some young woman was babbling about calling her and the other one was the same, but a different girl. Useless crap.
“Wheres the stash, you bastard!” Zaitsev shouted at the cellphone. I felt like we were primitive cavemen playing with a cellphone, shouting and punching it. I checked the text messages and there was a message from some guy simply called “Shrek.” No, I misread it. It was “Shriek.”
“One of the salesmen told me to meet you at the old radio antenna by the swamp this Tuesday at 1800 hours. Be there or they wont be happy. –Shriek.” Who the heck is Shriek? The radio antenna is nearby. The other message was from a guy called Rake: “Don’t trust Shriek.” A short, simple messages.
We searched the bandits corpses and all we found, besides ammo, food and money, was a picture with 6 men in it. The same guys who we just killed. They all had names under them in the picture. The guy in the middle had the name “Shriek” scribbled under him. It seems that this “Shriek” fellow has been luring relatively and filthy rich stalkers to the swamp in promise of adventures and tasks handed by some salesman who I doubt even exists. A nice plan, but thats not what we need to know now. We need the stash! I took Johns... I mean Williams cellphone and sent a message to Rake: “Meet me at the radiotower by the swamp. I dealt with Shriek.” I knew that Rake was the one we need to talk to. Now we have to wait for the answer and stay in the bandits tent.
“I seriously hope that you can control your gas in the tent tonight, Janov.” Zaitsev walked to the tent and opened the zipper. Inside there were at least four sleeping bags.
“Plenty of space for us, eh?” I said and crawled inside. Zaitsev followed right behind me and sat down. I took the chocolate bar from my backpack and started eating it.
“You saved it for this long!? You are one cheap bastard.” Zaitsev drooled after the chocolate bar and I tossed him a tiny piece.
“Oh thank you... I will remember your kindness.” He said sarcastically and ate the piece anyway.
“Have you seen this Rake guy before? I don’t know who he is, but sounds like he is Williams friend or something.” I asked Zaitsev and took another piece of chocolate. Zaitsev opened one of the sleeping bags and crawled in. He didn’t answer me.
“Well? Do you?” I asked him again, but he only looked at me and went to sleep.
“Goddamnit, you do this every time you don’t know something. Why can’t you admit that you can’t know everything in the Zone?” I was getting frustrated with Zaitsev’s childish behaviour.
“Rake’s a merc.” He turned at me and turned back after saying it.
“Ah. I see. We need a plan...” A beeping sound interrupted me. A message! “Tomorrow morning, 09:00PM at the radiotower. Good job. –Rake.” The message was everything we needed to catch this guy and find the stash. It was pitch black outside and in the tent and we both went to sleep.
The sun was shining, the crows were making their usual annoying noises and the air was warm. A perfect morning in the Zone. We gathered our gear and left the tent. The old and rusty radio tower was visible behind a hill on the other side of the swamp.
“Come on. My boots barely made it through yesterday.” I didn’t want to go through the swamp, but Zaitsev just smiled and walked into the swamp.
“It won’t kill you! It’s just a swamp, friend!” Zaitsev waved at me and kept walking. Ok then, into the swamp... It was really hard to walk in the swamp, even if it was rather shallow I got really exhausted. Finally we got out of the stinking swamp and continued on over the hill. It was 8 o’ clock. We had one hour and... What the heck!? We got on the hill and looked at the radio tower below. There were at least six men in blue and gray overalls and they were all wearing helmets, balaclavas and bulletproof vests.
“Get down, this isn’t looking good.” Zaitsev whispered and we both ducked. I readied my SVD and looked at the men through the scope.
“Mercenaries, right?” Zaitsev asked me and took his own rifle.
“Rake must be one of them. What if it’s a trap?” I asked him while observing the mercenaries.
“Should we just shoot them all and everyone who tries to come anywhere near the radio tower?” Zaitsev got excited again and cocked his rifle.
“Now or never, I guess. Find a spot and let’s rain hell on them.” I answered and Zaitsev crawled to the left and stayed there. I saw him took out his radio and called me.
“Ok I’m ready, how about you?” He radioed me.
“You forgot to say over and yes, I am ready.” I answered and he laughed at me. There were six around the tower. Two of them on our side of the tower, two in the woods nearby and two in front of the tower on the road, next to a jeep.
“You take the guys at the left, in the woods. I will take these ones on our side of the tower. Over.” I switched off the safety and aimed at the two mercenaries. The first one, smoking a cigarette shall be the first to die. Wrong day to smoke a cigarette, friend. I aimed at his head and squeezed the trigger. A bullet flew straight at him, through his head and ended up in the wall of the radio tower. I heard another shot and a few bursts from an AK.
“Friend, I think they are coming for me. Cover my arse a bit, will you? Over.” I heard Zaitsev in the radio. He was clearly getting a bit intimidated by the advancing mercenaries. I aimed at the second guy near the radio tower and quickly shot him twice when he was running towards Zaitsev. Two... I mean three, Zaitsev shot the one advancing towards him. Three down and three to go. One advancing towards Zaitsev and... Two trying to get to the jeep. I left one of them to be handled by Zaitsev and concentrated on the two running for the jeep. Damnit, hard to hit them when they are running. I shot twice again, the clip was empty and one of the bullets missed and the other one hit the runners leg. I started reloading and one of the mercenaries shot at me and started dragging his wounded friend. A short burst from an AK and one shot from an SVD. I heard Zaitsev scream and the mercenary fell down the hill on his back. I saw Zaitsev rolling down to a ditch on the other side.
“Get the fucker! The one at the... The jeep!” Zaitsev shouted at me through the radio and I didn’t hesitate for a second. I aimed at the last two with my clip full of ammo and adrenaline pumping. Three shots. The one being dragged got hit in the chest, head and shoulder, leaving a bloody mess on his friends hands. The mercenary who was dragging him took out a pistol and ran at me, shooting and swearing. To avenge his friend.
“You bastard! Die! Die!” He shouted and emptied his clip on the hill while I ducked and crept for cover. I stood up and aimed at him and for a second everything was silent. He stared at me with his clip empty and I stared at him. I gently squeezed the trigger. A flash, a spurt of blood and a dead mercenary. Goddamnit, this is getting pointless. Suddenly I remembered Zaitsev in the ditch under the hill and ran to him.
“What happened?” I asked him and kneeled next to him. He was lying on his back in the ditch.
“Look at it! Look!” He shouted in pain and showed me his hand. There was a hole in the middle of his palm and his middle finger was missing.
“OK, stand up, we need something to stop the bleeding.” I looked around and didn’t find anything.
“Your coat. Use your knife, Janov.” Zaitsev said and pointed at my coat. Damn, I don’t want to ruin a perfectly good coat, but if Zaitsev’s life is depending on it. I tore a piece of my coat with my knife and wrapped it around his arm to stop the bleeding.
“We need to get back to the hut.” I told him, but he just walked the other way and went over the hill.
“Come here! One of them is alive!” Zaitsev shouted and started running. I heard a shot and Zaitsev shouted:
“Why!? Why didnt you let me kill you? Thats just rude!” I ran up the hill and saw Zaitsev standing next to the dead mercenary and the mercenary had shot a hole in his own skull. Yeah, even I would have done that if Zaitsev would be running at me.
“You seem to be feeling OK, friend.” I said and examined the mercenarys bloody body.
“What? Oh yeah! Ow, ow and all that. Now let’s examine these guys and go back to the hideout.” He said and started looting, using only his left hand. Strange man. The first mercenary, who didn’t have half of his head, didn’t have anything interesting but some chewing gum. Ah, a delicacy in the Zone, I’ll have that, thank you. Zaitsev was examining the guy who shot him and took off his necklace. It was a golden cross.
“You shouldn’t do that.” I said to him.
“Why not?” He looked surprised.
“Respect the dead.” I told him and continued searching the bodies.
“Yeah, says the man who just killed a handful of people and is now looting their corpses.” He said and took the cross anyway.
“Oh I cant believe how much shit these guys are carrying? Seriously. I’ve found radios on each one of them, bulletproof vests, helmets and all sorts of protection gear and every single one of them had their own medical kit. ” Zaitsev said and laughed at the mercenaries.
“Oh, look! A condom! Why on earth does he have them? The last time I saw a woman in the Zone was the year 2011 and that would be... Hmm... 2 years ago?” He started laughing even harder and took out a large packet of condoms. Yeah, I have to agree with him a bit. There are no women in the Zone at the moment and no one really knows why.
“Search the car.” I said and Zaitsev went to the jeep and opened the trunk.
“Only shovels here.” He said and closed the trunk.
“Ok... Wait, shovels?” Shovels and mercenaries are like pirates and shovels! It always means that there is treasure to be had around.
“Yes, shovels. They are used for digging and are usually made from metal. Interesting indeed.” He said sarcastically.
“Don’t you get it? These guys are after William’s stash too! One unlucky bastard he is. He had the mercenaries and the bandits after him!” I began to wonder who William really was.
“Well the bandits got him first, but didnt get his stash. The mercenaries tried next, but face us who are going after the stash next. It be cursed, I tells ya!” Zaitsev said and sat down. I wonder who will be against us next...
“I bet pirates will be next after we kill the military and every single stalker here in the Zone.” Zaitsev said. Feels like he read my mind.
“Can you read minds?” I asked him and he smiled.
“Let’s go back to the hideout, we need to plan our next move.” I said to him and we took the loot and left. A nice trip indeed.
To be continued, chaps!