back with a vengeance
On forum: 07/31/2003
My feet hurt. I've been wearing these damn boots for a week now, and something was starting to smell not right. My bones itched because I haven't moved for six hours now. Mark was across street to my left on the roof of another building. I wasn't looking at him, but I know he was looking at me. The cold rain was hitting my plastic poncho, making the dull thumping sounds, and then rolling off to the ground. I had managed to get comfortable. Well, as comfortable as one could get in this shit hole.
"You got anything yet?" Mark's voice, blurred by radio fuzz whispered in my ear."
I tapped the comms plug I had placed on the barrel next to my only available finger.
"Roger that." He understood the two taps were a negative. "Standing by." I heard his vox system cut out a fraction of a second after he stopped talking. My eyes had been trained in on one particular area for so long that I could see a light glow from the corner of my eye as he lit a cigarette. Fucker. He knew how bad I could go for one of those now. He wants me to hurry it up.
Mark, or Markov to be exact, has been a long time friend of mine. I had met him when he was on a student exchange program to the United States. He and I were pursuing our goals as scientists. Mine in metaphysics, and his in genetics. We became friends pretty fast. The only problem we had with each other was his thick Russian accent, and my flat, northwestern tone. But besides that, we stuck together like glue. Which is why I'm here. About twenty years ago, Chernobyl blew it's top for the second time. No one had officially said much about how it happened, but that it was an accident. Mark and I disagreed to that. That, and the fact that his family lived about 20 miles from the site when it went up. At that point we left the United States, and made the trip back to his land. We finished our doctorates abroad and began studying the effects of massive amounts of radiation. Mark began collecting specimens of flora and insect life along the borders of the contamination zone. I began to study the temporal effects when we discovered some of his test plants were growing at a different time in one location than others, but when switched, would be the exact same age. This is how we got to where we are.
"Is my smoking bothering you?" His voice shot over the coms like he was speaking thru a bullhorn." I inhaled a slight waft of cigarette smoke drifting by, and my nicotine addiction wavered. I supressed the urge to light one up.
"God damnit," I hissed,"Number one, keep it down, and number two, leave me the fuck alone." he replied with a snort and short chuckle, and grumbled something about yankees before the vox cut out. I supressed a twitching smile, and returned my attention to what was at hand.
My index finger slid down the trigger to wipe off any water that had been collecting, and quickly returned back to the guard. A wavering power line stretched out in the wind and made a soft groan. The rain pattering around magnified the ambience in the air. The dark grey clouds made the town look even more dead, if that was possible, save for the trees and bushes standing in their brilliant greens.
After being here for quite some time, Mark and I began venturing farther into the "Zone" as they call it. We would go as far as the government would allow us. After all, they were funding our projects. Space-time and genetic mutation is primary on NATO's list of research options these days. We would bring back specimens, as well as interesting objects that had been warped by the radiation. There were a lot of things that couldn't be explained, however, and as Mark and I looked deeper into this unusual world, the more psychotic things became. We saw more people inside of the zone, and even saw them kill each other over valuable objects. These people took some kind of thrill in calling themselves "Stalkers". Mark and I just chose to stay away from that whole gig. That is, until we realized we had become them.
We had killed a group of men who had come looking for a rare new creature we were studying in it's own environment. They had every intention of killing it, and us. We defended ourselves. We found out by one of the dying members that it was our own International government who had hired them to kill us, and bring back the specimen. We quickly dispatched from NATO, and destroyed the remains of the beast that had been killed on our scuffle with the mercs.
So now I'm sitting out here on this ledge watching in a window with the long range scope on top of my old, and trusty SVU bullpup. Mark is hanging out on the other building, waiting for me to finish this damn job.
Marks voice suddenly broke the rainfall.
"I got something on the motion sensors."
Not wanting to talk more than I already have, I tapped once in affirmative.
"No, you don't understand, friend," His accent slurring, "I've got something on all of the motion sensors." I froze. Cold water ran down my spine, matching the chill going in the same direction. I wasn't worried about the motion sensor in the building of which I was watching, I had been waiting for that, and I wasn't worried about the motion sensor in the building I was in, because Mark was across the street covering me. I was worried about the fact that Mark was no longer going to be alone shortly, and until I got my target, he had no cover. This mission might be a bust.
"I'm losing sight." I grumbled, getting ready to pull my rifle off of it's stand and get the fuck out of here.
"Negative. You must do this." Mark growled. "This will benefit all of mankind. Collect what we were paid to collect."
I slowly moved my hand to the side of my scope, and switched on my motion sensor in-scope hud. It took my eyes a second to adjust to the extra light, but when it did I saw what Mark was talking about. I could sense Mark was gathering up his claymore charge lines, as well as prepping all of his ammo out in a line in front of him, like he always does when shit is about to hit the fan. I could almost literally see his eyes harden as he scanned the horizon, occasionally checking the doors and windows on my building.
That was the funny thing about Mark. He did his job to the "T". He would gun down any creature coming for me, to ensure the job gets done. But he would die from whatever gets on his roof. His attention wouldn't stray from that.
I heard a pop from his building, and a shattering of glass in mine. They were coming, and he began taking them out one by one. I couldn't let this happen.
"Don't you move, comrade, or I will shoot you myself." Marks motivational words crept into my ear amidst the now rising wind. I adjusted my wind meter accordingly.
My mind was raging. I couldn't let it go down like this. I had to wake this fucking creature up, and take him now! I wanted to mentally scream at it for my own good, but knowing that this area used to be a haven for controllers, I figured thought projection that loud would not be a good idea right now. My body had turned to ice. I hear the popping and watched the blobs on my screen get smaller in my area. But they were getting larger in his. Most of the mutated creatures had left the other house attracted by the carbine fire, and were heading his way. Lightning cracked in the air, illuminating everything. My eyes flickered from the window for a second to catch the creatures that were crossing the street. They were looking directly at mark. Hollow eye sockets were focused intently on the man across from me moving around. They had no idea I was there, watching them. They were hungrily intent on the man shooting the other creatures that did know where I was.
As my eyes returned to my scope, I winced slightly at the muffled explosion of a claymore in Marks building. That would be the first floor desintegrating. Mark always rigs the staircases, so it makes it difficult for these nasties to gain stories. More rounds fired from his carbine into my building. I could hear splintering wood at my level now. Visualizing these creatures ripping apart the door. Knowing they were behind me now, not more than thirty feet. Mark gunning them down as they each made their way thru the door.
I could also sense the animals in his building, climbing the walls to the second floor, third floor, and making their way to the roof door. Another explosion rocked his building, and made the one I was on shudder in anticipation, or fear. Now I heard multiple fire. I knew he had his main rifle focused on my building, while offhandidly using his pistol to fend creatures off of his building.
The agony of knowing my best friend was going to die.
"Fuck this!" I muttered.
"NO!" Mark screamed thru the comms at me.
My eyes still focused on the window, I began yelling as loud as I could, every profanity in the book. I pulled my left hand off of my rifle, and unholstered my hand gun. Aiming blind, I popped three rounds into the side of the building across the street. My motion sensor lit up on my hud indicating that this beast we had been waiting for was finally waking. I fired another shot, knowing I had it's attention. Still in it's sleep, it pushed itself to a stand and looked out the window to see what was going on.
Mark Screamed again.
My pistol fell to the ground, almost in slow motion, splashing in a puddle as my hand snapped back towards me, and into my poncho.
The beast across the street, stared right at me.
The creatures face exploded as I stood up, my left hand leaving my poncho, carrying what it had been seeking for what seemed a millenia. My Herstall FN2000 I had slung to my side. I sighted up, switching off the safety in one fluid motion, and pulled the trigger at the first creature I saw pouncing on Mark.
Then time seemed to return to normal. Automatic machine gun fire filled the night as I relentlessly murdered these carnivorous animals on Marks roof top. Tracers dashed in criss cross lines from his gun, and from mine, as white phosphor rounds sliced thru the air at the enemies.
More explosions followed, for what seemed to be forever, but in reality was only a few minutes. Than it all grew quiet.
"How you doing?" I asked after the echo of the final shots subsided.
"I'm allright. Broke my hand."
"I'll meet you downstairs." I went to the side of the roof, and clipped into the repelling line. Even with a broken hand, Mark still managed to be waiting for me at the bottom. He was always cool like that. Unleashing myself I looked him over for any other damage.
"I'm good," he noticed," Let's get our bounty, and get out of here."
I nodded in reply and we began walking across Petrovisky lane. Mark held out something. It was a cigarette.
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From the halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli'
We fight our countrys battles In the air', on land, and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom , And to keep our honor clean,
We are proud to claim the title Of United States Marines.
Our flags unfurl'd to every breeze From dawn to setting sun';
We have fought in every clime and place Where we could take a gun.
In the snow of far-off northern lands And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job - The United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy Ever gaze on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines. - US Marines Hymn