back with a vengeance
On forum: 07/31/2003
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Through the eyes of a sniper|
I see the eagle, swivelling at the blue sky in circles. From above a tree, I feel exactly like an eagle. I feel powerful, I feel free, I feel closer to the sky.
I am a sniper in The Zone.
I see a crow, weakened by god-knows-what from The Zone. The bird looks tired, an easy prey in the sky. It will die soon, no doubt, by either hungry stalkers desperate for a meal on the ground or the aggressive bird of preys in th sky.
The eagle stops circling now, and, shifted its wing towards the bird. With powerful flaps, it smoothly glides towards the crow, its talons perched. Seconds later, a dead crow is firmly clutched in the firm claws of the victorious eagle, its weak bones crushed by powerful talons.
I am the eagle. My scope is my eyes, my camouflage face and painted ghillie suit my wings, my SV-98 sniper rifle my talons. I am the bird of prey among birds, the ultimate killer among stalkers.
I feel powerful. No- I am powerful. I strike when no one know, I hunt when the hunted feels safe. I track them down no matter day or night.
Conscience is not an impedance. Mutants and humans are all the same to me - big games to be shoot at to take prize for. Those who are good to me are my allies; those who oppose me will die.
I have seen too much in my time in The Zone. I have seen too much friends die, too much strife and conflict, too much crimes unrepented. I have seen too much to care. I do not take sides. I do not choose to be good, or to be bad. I just take opportunity, as well as justified reason to hunt them down. I just kill.
I am a soldier once- a Marine sniper who served my time with my country, honourably discharged but cannot find a way into civillian life. I have seen too much killing to know that life is fragile under a rounded piece of metal. I have killed too much - my given reasons were that those in my crosshair are threats to my country and my fellow soldiers. I am tired of my life. I came to The Zone to seek reasons to live, and I am still searching.
My attention turns down to the dense forest below. It has been a quiet day. I have been seeking for my target to practice shooting with, looking for both humans and mutants to hone my sniper skill. So far, I have none in my sight… yet.
I see a stalker moving, not far away. Tally.
My laser rangefinder tells me 574.54m. But does that tell me much? No. It only tells me I am in range. In range to kill
I raise my sniper rifle into action. My right knee moves to accommodate my right arm, which in turn accommodate the barrel of my bolt-action rifle.
The bolt-action rifle - a technology still well-embraced by snipers even after a century of its initial conception, even as automatic assault rifles now completely dominates the battlefield. Favoured by snipers because little kinetic energy is lost to eject shell casings from the chamber automatically compared to the likes of automatic rifles, the bolt-action rifle is my gun of choice: in this case, a SV-98 Russian bolt-action rifle, with match-grade ammunition.
The stalker looks so much peaceful than I am through the scope. He looks barely out of his teens. Must have been from around here, that boy. His blonde hair and white face told me of the features only Ukrainians possessed. He is only dressed in an old blue woollen sweater and a faded green cotton trouser. I smile. Everyone in this world knows that Chernobyl is a dangerous place. Obviously this boy knows nothing about radiation.
He takes his every step cautiously, gripping the dull-coloured AK-74. Even his way of holding a gun is wrong- his right hand rests on the banana clip instead of the barrel. His eyes constantly dart around in look for danger. A dented old mineral water bottle hangs loosely on his belt by a small piece of nylon rope. It doesn't take an imaginative mind to picture that this boy looks like a bovine to me, with a bell that chimes loosely whenever it moves.
I laughed silently. Newbie.
A newbie is easy-kill by all standard. Can I kill him? Of course I can. I do not have a moral obligation not to. I have no one to follow my footsteps, no one to point a finger at me to say "Look, he is a killer! Get him!" Justice will not catch up with me. I have nothing to fear. His death will mean nothing to me aside than another number in the daily statistic of dead stalkers in The Zone, motive and reason of death unknown and cannot be proven. The only thing I can prove is prove to myself that my sniping skills is still as sharp as ever, with the expense of a life.
I may have nothing to gain, but he may everything to lose.
This boy is here for a reason. He may be here because his dad cannot earn money anymore. Or maybe he and his dad are going into The Zone together, maybe he is lost. Maybe his dad even died in The Zone, maybe the man I killed yesterday, or two weeks ago, or maybe a month ago. Maybe his family needs money; maybe he has a sick sister who needs money for her daily medicine. It is so obvious- his costumes are the proof of a poor man.
How will they feel if he is dead? Maybe first they worry that something might happen to their son or brother when he has not come home all night, than finally in anguish when they realise the boy is not coming home. Maybe they will hold a funeral in absentia for him and moan for their loss, and maybe regretting that they have sent him to a world of danger that he can't possibly imagine until danger finally strikes him at his head at a moment too late. And even then, he may not be even to know it.
Hah. Serve them right, this kid belong back at home instead of The Zone.
I brush my head against the cold metallic butt of my sniper rifle. I adjust my scope to the range and the wind, and I am ready. I look into my scope. The trail of dots in my scope centre on his head now. I am ready to pull the trigger. I will pull the trigger.
So this is how the Serbian snipers always have felt when they shoot women and children at the street of Kosovo, like I always have tried to imagine when I patrolled there decades ago. The exhilarating feeling of having the power of life and death over someone you don't know, someone you don't care, and someone who does not know his or her life will be ended within seconds after you pull that trigger. The rush of adrenaline filling your blood next, your palm becomes sweaty as you strive to do it right the first time, you control your breathing, and soon afterwards your breathing comes to a perfect stop.
I pull it.
A dry "tack", of the hammer striking against a primer of a bullet which is supposed to be there.
I examine the coin put on the barrel of rifle. It did not drop. Good-
I did not snatch the shot.
I would have scored a headshot this time if there is a bullet in this rifle- no doubt. The coin didn't drop, meaning that my body did not automatically responding to the supposed recoil before the bullet actually left the chamber, at the same time squeezing the trigger too hard and affect what comes out at the end of the barrel. I still have my skill of a sniper well-honed. You don't have to pratice your skill of the trade with a bullet in the gun.
I look into the scope again, curious at my target.
The boy now stops for a rest. He puts his AK-74 on the ground while taking out his canteen. He looks around the quiet background, and plunges to the ground to sit.
Obviously this task is too tiring for him, looking around The Zone for something that can be taken and sold is no easy task. He also knows nothing of danger in The Zone. Somehow quiet doesn't mean safe in The Zone.
Now I am beginning to worry about the kid.
As I look around, I see dust begin to kick around slowly, driven by an invisible force. At first I think it is the wind. But when the phenomenon lasts longer, instantly I know what it is. Every stalker has either heard of it or see the thing and it's kind one way or another.
Bloodsucker. Deadly vampire of The Zone.
The cloud of dust quickly moves towards the kid, almost too fast. The problem? The kid is backing him. He can't even know until it is too late, that is if his senses are sharp enough to pick up the fast and soft footstep coming from behind.
I quickly load a 5-bullet 7.62 X 51R mm sniper magazine. Making sure I have driven the magazine home, I cock my rifle, and heard the locked-bolt mechanism inside giving a clear crack. A bullet is in.
Now comes the tricky part- killing a moving target.
There are 2 ways to kill a moving target. One way of doing it is to estimate the speed and vector of the target and adjust your scope accordingly. Not terribly easy task, but can be reliable. The other method is to aim at the direction which your target will probably be moving towards, pray and fire moments before it getsto the centre of the scope.
The sniper crosshair quickly locks on the cloud of dust and trails it. But a moving target is hard to pin down, let alone an invisible moving target.
I just have to take the leap of faith. I roughly pin-point a location where I think the cloud of dust will go to, and fire.
A painful yelp expands through the horizon, even as my right hand reaches for the bolt to eject the shell casing to reload another round.
As the sound quickly catches up in sonic speed, the kid frightfully jumps up in fright, and turns to his back. He sees the bloodsucker that now appears in full shape, and screams in shock. He never sees the hideous face of a bloodsucker before- those whitish eyes, that mishap face, the horrible skin full of sores and wounds and those tendrils that seem to move towards him even though the mutant is down. And if that is not enough, the mutant is only down, not dead. Painstakingly, the bloodsucker crawls towards the immobilized young stalker.
He wants to kill that mutant right there and right now, because that will also be what I want to do. Only thing is, he just realizes his weapon is still on the floor. And his own fear locks him in an immobilize state.
I have to intervene again.
Another "bang!" from my rifle. The creature shakes from the impact, convulsed violently and lies silently, without any movement. Its tendrils all descend downwards. The legs and hands no longer move to crawl towards the boy.
The bloodsucker is dead.
The kid looks fearfully around for unwanted guests, who he thinks now wants to kill him. He looks towards me, and scans around again, this time weapon in hand. He is only frightened, I know. He has the look of infantrymen caught out in the open when a well-hidden sniper takes out their CO. He will calm down soon.
The boy's expression soon retreats toa relieved look on his face, certain that his peril has passed. But there is still a nagging surprise and curiosity of what has happened in the pass minute. He looks around, a smile on his face, trying to look for his saviour.
His saviour is somewhere up a tree, in a ghillie suit, peering at him right now with a sniper rifle. He cannot see me, I am sure of it, despite his intense search and scan around his surrounding. Distance and camouflage are on my side.
Finally, he says something. I am sure it is not loud enough to be audible for me to hear, and it is not in English. But I am sure it is a "Thank you."
I have got my reward. It is far more satisfying than managing to nail down an enemy with a bulls eye.
It is helping people when they don't know who you are and where you are, but they are grateful that you just save their life. And the cherry on the cake is that they will never know your identity. Those people you help will live on borrowed time because you let them live, not stand by and watch them die.
The joy of bring a good sniper.
Great, independant Iraq War journalism: http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/
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