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Our Finest Hour by Sal Privitera

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On forum: 03/02/2005
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Our Finest Hour by Sal Privitera

Bravo team was about 1.5 klicks to our north, northeast coming south to our position on a heading that took them through the small farm and the forest which surrounded it.

We were awaiting their 6 man team arrival on the peak of a small grassy knoll in the middle of a densely weeded field facing north to the endless rows of pine trees and the abandoned logging route that split them apart.

About 10 minutes after our last radio conversation we heard bursts from an Ak-74 firing in the distance near Bravo teams position. We tried to make radio contact but all we could get was a few muffled words and hellacious screams. We could make out some of it but mostly we heard static radio interferences..

We immediately Headed towards their last known position and towards the firing of automatic rifles towards the vast outstretched woods of the Zone.

As we Advanced towards Alpha's position we heard a rumble of gun shots and then a death bearing silence. It was almost 15 minutes before we could reach their position and what we saw was not anything that you would want to keep in your mind to tell your grand children if you lived that long. The firing continued on and off as we approached the tree line where Bravo team was positioned and the shots came from. The first thing we saw was muzzle flashes from inside the pine rows. We radioed to Alpha team that we had a visual on their position but no answer came. Figures started to come out of the dense evergreens and we could tell it was two men of alpha team. We held our fire and we could see they were back stepping from the woods firing their rifles.

When we met up with them it had looked like they have seen a ghost their faces pallet with fear and hands shaking firing of rounds into the woods which were alive from the howling screams.

Oh god if I remember anything about the Zone it was the howling screams which haunted me in my sleep.

Ziergai asked the two Bravo team members where is the rest of their team was.

Two words came out and said "In there" as they pointed to the woods.

We could get them to speak no more to us but we had to go in to see if there were anymore survivors.

Roman and Yegor Advanced to the tree line with ready tenses cautiously waiting for something to happen. Suddenly the Woods opened up again with a hail of gunfire. Then the "pop" of a grenade launcher firing. The Ghastly moans of some formidable creature were heard in the woods as we waited in anticipation.

Moments later Roman and Yegor came out pulling the seemingly lifeless body of one of our comrades out, meanwhile firing into the tree line at whatever they encountered.

We fell back as fast as we could from the unspeakable dangers we faced by staying in that part of woods, we needed to get to higher ground in the open where we can make a stand. We retreating to ETA and made a desperate stand for the night.

The night was the worst part of the zone. Incomprehensible creatures would roam under the radiated moonlight searching for fresh food. And the howls of the dogs sent shivers down the backs of even the most experienced stalkers. And we were stuck there in the middle of an open field with little ammo left.

We were camped down and the sun had just gone down and we all were sharply keen to everything that was going on around us. We were no longer the stalkers, we were the prey. I knew that every creature within a few klicks would smell the fresh blood on our wounded comrades. We knew that they would try to attack us at night.

Bravo team had only 3 members left and we had our original 5. Oleg was one of the Bravo team survivors who was not too badly injured. He told us the story of what happened in the woods moments before.

"Ivan started to act strange, twitching and stuff then all of a sudden he unloaded the entire clip into Boris to his right and then turned on us with his knife. We retrained him but then the forest exploded with creatures swarming at the smell of fresh blood and the sound of gun shots. We tried to set up a defensive parameter but there were too many of....."

His speech was broken by a radio communication. It was extremely muffled and didn't seem like it was directed to us. But why was it on our wavelength? The voice was most definitely not human. Somewhere out there in the vast dead Zone there was a controller stalking us. We could do nothing about it but sit in a wait for the night to make its change to day. At mornings light we would make our way out of the Zone if we were still alive.

We agreed on taking 2 man shifts the rest of the night. 2 guys would have their night vision gear on scanning our parameter while the rest of us got our precious sleep which we had not gotten for 2 days.

I could not sleep. And I speak for everyone looking back on that night. We knew we were being hunted like we hunt them. The tides weren't in our favor this time.

During the night I could hear the Zone speaking its Nocturnal language of death. Dogs howls, zombies moans and other mutant things which would send you to hell in an instant. Some fog started rolling in from the north which restricted our visuals. The normal routine was broken by Igor when we signaled our team that he had spotted something out there about 200m away to our southwest. I put my night vision kit on and did not see anything out there but a vast dead land of grass. Then I saw it, the creature was trying to sneak through the grass to us. Ziergai ordered us to make a circular zone to scan around our parameter 360 degrees.

We shot a flair into the night sky which illuminated our surrounding area like a candle. What we saw was a site I wish to never see again. In every direction there was man like silhouettes at the tree line 300m away. The controller had made all types of creatures converge on our position at every angle. The moans of these Zone creatures could probably be heard a km away. We prepared for the worst as they started to advance towards us. some were very tall and some very short. Others very fast or very slow. Some were zombies and some were these Giant brawny grayish brown monsters like what i suspect attacked bravo team in the woods. . There were just far too many and we were low on ammo. Within minutes they were threatening our position. Our automatic rifle fire and grenade launchers was deafening to the ears. One by one our men ran out of ammo or were separated from us as the creatures attacked . Igor was ripped in two by one of these monstrous creature/mutants. They wiped through us like a hot knife through butter. In the midst of the battle I noticed a familiar face on one of the zombies. It was Ivan from Bravo team. He must of been taken by the controller also. Just when all seemed lost and i was down to my sidearm separated from my team in the middle of that field with creatures who were going to tear me apart and eat me alive. I felt a familiar feeling and my hair stood on end in anticipation.

I was thrown to the ground as I saw a blinding light and I went unconscious. I awoke a later under piles of rock and dirt when the sun was breathing its first life into the morning. Bodies of creatures and stalkers lie everywhere in what was once a beautiful green field. Now reduced to blood and dirt. A Zone explosion had saved my life. I would think that would be the last thing to 'save' my life. All my comrades were dead. Many of them eaten alive. I knew there was no time to stick around and bury them, I had to go and get away from the abnormalities that breed life from Zone explosions.

In the distance I heard a military chopper coming to my direction. I had one flare left so it to my position. I was saved but my whole stalker team was gone.

I will never forget that day and night. As much as I want to forget I never will...
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