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Epicenter (Chapter 1?)

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  21:33:59  21 January 2005
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Naaaaa
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On forum: 04/07/2004
 

Message edited by:
Amoki
01/30/2005 2:36:16
Messages: 825
Epicenter (Chapter 1?)

Hiya! This is my first S.T.A.L.K.E.R. fanfic! Many athanks to Alex (DoggyDogg) for helping me out. If you'll like it and it'll be good, I'll write another chapter, so please give me some constructive criticism .



“It’s a cold night tonight…” Piotr thought to himself. “It’s time to get going”. He hopped in his Niva and started the engine. In the meantime he was thinking to himself, calculating… shortest route to his desired location, evasion from animals, weather, military outposts, the forest… He’s been in the Zone for about 2 months now. He would be called an average stalker by any other stalker who’d meet him, be it a pro or a newbie. Even though, a couple of newbie stalkers did call him a "god" once, but that’s only because he could show them the way and who or what to evade, just basic Zone tips.

Piotr Strugorvsky was an ex-soldier in the Soviet army, released with an honorable discharge after he was on a mission with his squad, and a wrong decision killed everyone on his squad besides him and his commander, which he carried to safety, but actually the commander accused him of the mistake he made, and after a lot of arguing amongst a couple of senior officers, he was given the discharge, both him and his commander. His role in the army wasn’t a normal soldier though, he was at the Russian commando, the Spetznatz, and he was considered a master of stealth and navigation at his squad. He also knew how to pick locks, and he picked up a couple of hacking tips from his squad’s electronics expert, a good friend of him. Or was, anyway. After that, he was utterly bored of life. His mother lived in far away Russia, while he was serving in Ukraine. On one of his days still at the army, he overheard three senior officers discussing an incident that occurred in Chernobyl, the horrifying city which nuclear core exploded and caused death, diseases and an environmental damage for the next 10,000 years in 1986. The conversation he overheard had the topic of a second explosion in that same city, from the same core, number 04. This time, the rumor stated even more death, an increased wider spread, weirder mutations and the most interesting – weird artifacts that would gain the USSR the honor of the first advancements in every field of technology known to man. Glory to mother Russia. So the soldiers were supposed to move in, set up posts all over the site, and acquire those artifacts.

What?! Where they mad?! Did they really think the soldiers never heard of the Liquidators?! No, they must have known, and they probably knew the radiation was safe enough. The most interesting part in the conversation he overheard was a chance to make a buck; supposedly, several high profile companies and corporations were supposed to pay a large sum of money to whoever acquires the artifacts for then, something the president may be doing to put in more money for the country, or for his own pocket, whatever came first. But no! Piotr was a trustworthy, reliable soldier, which everybody trusted with everything. At least, that was before the discharge…

A week after he got out, several disturbing internet articles, TV reports and such about what the press called "Chernobyl 2" were brought to his attention. He tried to look for anyone else who would know more. On another search on the internet he found Boeing, the airplane company was smuggling people into Chernobyl to acquire the artifacts for them. And then it was a pharmaceutical company. And another corporation. And another! So many were paying for those "artifacts", and being pretty poor himself, what better job could he ask for as an ex-soldier outside a mercenary? And mercenaries aren't in high demands these days. While trying to search for another individual he met up with Gregory; one angry ex-scientist that also worked for the military, but was recently fired for being, quote: "hazardous to his environments and co-workers". He also wanted to make a quick buck, and get back at the military, so he offered his help with the geographical knowledge and information about "the Zone".

The Zone? Yes, the Zone. Gregory told him about the area deep inside Chernobyl, about the mutations, the mutants, the anomalies, the supposed "mind control" the Soviets were performing prior to the first incident, the other hired operators that like to call themselves "stalkers".

Piotr was shocked. Yet, as a trained ex-Commando, he knew that dangers are usually exciting, strengthening, and, most importantly – rewarding. So he revised Gregory's map and chose a route of entry to the Zone. He picked one route right between two outposts where there was the least security available, at night, and then consult Ivan, Gregory's inside man, of which he was to give 5% of his earnings to each. And so he did…

The Zone was difficult to handle to anyone, even an ex-Commando like Piotr, but together with Ivan's and Gregory's help, he quickly got his "Zone-legs". He joined with another, more veteran stalker, and he taught him a lot of basic stuff, and the more advanced techniques he figured out himself. And thus he has wondered the Zone for two years, taking on occasional missions from corporation's representatives, earning money, paying Ivan's and Gregory's cut and surviving.

It was time now. After moving through the forest, evading the Dwarf lairs and the pigs, and then killing that lone soldier, Piotr was close enough to his destination. He stopped his truck at a cavern, and covered it with leaves and enough camouflage to make even the sharpest-eyed eagle wander. Then, he checked his weapons; an explosive grenade and a flash grenade, a Fort 12 and an LR300 ML. He pulled the LR300 ML from the back holster, and then attached the gun a scope, a flashlight and a silencer. He then checked the magazine and cocked the gun, then put it on his back again, after turning it to "safety". Afterwards he pulled his Fort 12 out of his side holster, attached a silencer and a laser pointer, checked the clip and checked the crosshairs. Now he aimed it to the floor, all ready for a fight, but knowing it is better to avoid it. He stepped out of the cavern, ready to continue.

He remembered the person he got the mission from, a murky haired guy, with a nice tux and everything. Looked like James Bond. British accent, too. Ivan was the one that got him this one, he set up the meeting.

"Okay, Piotr, listen up. I'm going to make this quick and simple. I'm from… well; I'm not really in the liberty to say. I'm an important person, in any case. So, you know there is going to be a hefty reward for completing this one. Ivan will fill you in on the pay later. We need you to… spy for us." Piotr's eyes gouged forward and his head tilted downwards in wonder. "Who, me?" he replied. "Yes, you. You see… we need someone with need experience. Someone who knows the area. Now, the person we need you to spy on is an officer… in an outpost." Piotr looked at the man in a "yeah, right go ahead…" kind of look." He's in the northeastern army post, not too heavily guarded. We… I, estimate about 5 to 6 soldiers in that base, with one or two soldiers. I recommend you go in under the cover of night… but seeing as you are the ex-Spetznatz Ivan told me you are, I don't have to tell you that, right?!" the man talked quickly, with lots of questions to make sure everything is clear. Reminded him of the army again.

"You are then to enter his office, quietly, look for documents mentioning 'satellite enhancement', and leave thereafter. I really don't care how you go in, but make sure the next time we meet no one will be following you." The man picked up his briefcase, and prepared to leave, but Piotr stopped him. "Wait… so you want me to go into some military base, get in unseen, take some documents and then leave. Am I correct?". The man decidedly replied: "Yes only I didn't say you have to get in unseen, only thing I said is don't let anyone follow you when you come back here". "But!" the agent stopped him "Look, you want the money or not?". Ivan implored Piotr: "Look, we need the money; we didn't have such a high-paying job in 3 weeks." Piotr murmured. "Good", the British person ended, and left quickly.

"No." Piotr thought to himself. "I'm here to do what I'm told, not to wander about my employer's motives". "The Brit didn't talk nor had the attitude of just another corrupt corporate delegate... I must've been an agent, or spy, or something. Who else could he be working for? either he really is an agent, or just a someone trying to seem like one. But my instincts tell me he is. Agents like that aren't supposed to let others notice. The more he told himself that he's not supposed to question his employer's motives, the more he wandered what he wanted. He tried to think like a soldier, but in the army, and even now, the ones who gave him the missions usually told him why they need it. This guy, though… he looked like he's hiding something. And not just any something, but something big. But, Piotr knew becoming unfocused would mean his death, especially at the Zone.

He readied his pistol, and scouted ahead for soldiers. He noticed the first soldier on a tower, two on a bunker and the officer on the far-end building deep inside the base. The one on the tower would be the most dangerous to his stealthy entry, he knew that. He knew not only from his army training, but by common sense too. The first thing he's going to have to do, after entering, is killing the guard on top of the watch tower. But he can't kill too much, otherwise reinforcements will be sent to the base, and his mission will be F.U.B.A.R. He planned his footsteps carefully, calculating the time it will take to get to the lowest lit part of the wired fence. He exited, all the while keeping an eye on the watch tower guard; quickly, silently – like a snake.

*Thump*. That's the sound his body made when hitting the ground after the long run down the hill. He holstered his pistol, and then quickly took a pair of wire cutters out his backpack. He cut the wire quickly, the least he could so not to make fuzz before he manages to leave. He then crawled below the hole, together with his backpack and wire cutters, and placed it nicely again. He unholstered his pistol quickly, and left his backpack at the same place, as not to slow down his movements. He snuck up behind the nearest crate, and peeked to see it's all… clear. Strange, that. The base seemed completely empty. But why? Is it because they aren't prepared?! Because it's night?! Whatever, the case, he thought, if it goes through this easy he should be thankful. He holstered his pistol and climbed up the ladder as quickly possible. The soldier was there, seemed so unprepared. In a matter of two seconds, Piotr placed one of his hands on the soldier's mouth and the other on his neck, simultaneously, and then quickly snapped his neck. Then, to create the illusion that the soldier is still alive, he placed him nicely against one of the pillars supporting the roof of the tower. He checked the base again to see it's all clear, and climbed down quickly. He remembered the building in which the officer was in, and headed there, pistol in hand. He spotted another soldier in his sights again, and fired.

*pffft* *pffft* - Two silent shots.

The soldier fell down and Piotr rushed, still looking for more soldiers. He picked up the body, and hid between two crates in a dark warehouse. When he reached the officer's building, he saw another two soldiers drinking coffee and talking inside a cafeteria of sorts. This time, he avoided them both and headed for the room titled with the word "Headquarters" in Ukrainian. Inside, he found nobody, so he walked slowly and quietly straight to the folder cabinet. Inside, he found several interesting folders, but decided the officer may come soon so he should go. He headed straight out, and got to the exfiltration point, also his infiltration point, fairly quickly and completely unnoticed. He took his bag, which he had waiting for him after he used the wire cutters, and threw it above the fence. Then, he crawled beneath the hole he reopened, took his bag, inserted his pistol in, and again set the hole in the fence nicely, so as to give him the 5 minutes he may need. After a 1 minute run, he reached his truck, and opened the door to lodge himself in and the start the engine. He performed a one eighty and drove away, wiping his forehead from sweat and slowing down his heart rate, congratulating himself for a stealth mission well done.

After a fast, bumpy ride to Ivan's and Piotr's meeting place, an old abandoned military base, which they used because Ivan's current job at the military did not allow for them to meet at his base, Piotr stopped his truck , doing a quick 90 degrees stylish parking maneuver with his Niva, as stylish as the Niva can be. He exited out the car with his rifle and backpack on his pack, and documents well concealed inside the backpack. He pulled out his cell phone out of his backpack and sent Ivan an SMS for him and the British guy. He inserted his cell phone back into his backpack after turning it off, and waited for them.

Some 30 minutes after, the British guy and Ivan appeared at the door, both excited to meet Piotr. The British guy seemed pleased; Piotr thought he even spotted a slight smile coming from his mouth, or maybe it was just a twitch before the British took a seat. In any case, Piotr was ready for the prized Rubles, not caring much for who the British guy is now. Ivan also took a seat and rubbed his hands greedily. The British put the suitcase in his hand on the table, and opened it to reveal those oh-so precious Rubles. "There you go…" the British started, "30,000 Rubles in cash. Will I be blithely assuming now if I assume you've collected the document I asked you to acquire?". Piotr replied: "Yes… and with complete silence too. Got my hands messy with 2 soldiers but they didn't even see me coming." The British replied quickly replied: "Good", the British told after he got up, took the document from Piotr and intended to leave, but Piotr stopped him once again: "Wait… you know what I was thinking about during the mission?! How come there were only 1 soldier patrolling, 1 on the guard tower and everybody else, maybe 3 or 4 more, were not even combat ready? Why the hell was it so easy to get into that military base?". The British seemed skeptical, but before he mouthed a single word, the door was breached, and a burst of shots from an AK, held by someone Piotr couldn't see due to his angle at the door, splattering the British's brains all over Ivan, which was sitting right next to him. Ivan screamed in disgust and horror, as the man with AK revealed himself and another man walked in. But he recognized the second man… it was…

Gregory? He bolted in with a Makarov and aimed it at Piotr. "MI6, mister Strugorvsky", the unknown man replied, as if reading his thoughts. Gregory started yelling like a madman in Ukrainian, as if wanting to shoot him: "You fucking dumb son of a bitch! You held out on me – now I'm going to let loose on you!", aiming the pistol to his head. Piotr replied in utter shock: "What? I always gave you your cut, Greg, always! I didn't hide a dime from you!" and raised his hands, to which Ivan seemed a bit guilty, thinking about the repercussions of his actions. "Yeah, right!", the Ukrainian kept yelling, "I only got paid 500 Rubles for your first two missions!". The thoughts were running through Ivan's mind: "What will happen now? Will he kill him? Oh, what did I do? Should I stop him?", Ivan couldn't decide. "But I did!!! I gave your 15% cut to Ivan, and he delivered it to you! And what the hell does this guy and MI6 has to do with all of this? Stop it Greg, put the gun down and we'll talk! Don't be foolish!". The two continued the conversation in Ukrainian for a couple of more minutes, each claiming to be the victim. Amidst the conversation, Gregory explained to him that MI6 wanted the satellite enhancement for the UK and that the unknown man was actually a Hungarian agent that also wished to obtain the document, this time for Hungary, had made a deal with him, that if he'd give in their location he pay him a nice fee. The seconds each felt like a sledgehammer to Ivan's brain. He had a real dilemma here. What did he do, you may ask? Well, the scientist was the real one who held out on Gregory. He was the one who might now cause Piotr's death. And for what? A few extra Rubles?! But then again, Piotr was not very nice to Ivan… and Ivan wasn't that innocent himself, he killed more than a few people in his life. And, besides, by what he understood, Piotr killed some of his own troops! Finally, the scientist decided: "Stop it!" He yelled. The Ukrainian scientist finally lost his mind, picked up a holstered gun from the British agent's body, and shot the Hungarian agent in the back of the head. A stream of blood exited and hit Gregory's shocked face, an opportunity which Piotr took to disarm Gregory and stab him 3 times – gut, gut, neck – with his army knife.

"What in the 9th realm of hell were you thinking, Ivan?", the stalker screamed in Ukrainian.

"What the hell did you get me into?! MI 6?! Hungarian government?! All the money in the world isn't worth being hunted down like this! It's world governments we're dealing with here, fuckface! It's dangerous!"

-- "But we needed the money, Piotr!" the scientist responded in a plead for forgiveness.
"Forget it, you nearly had me killed, dumbass! I'm going, Ivan, for good!"

The scientist, realizing he had lost his inside-man and better-paying job, decided the threat of Piotr revealing him, had to be eliminated. He raised the British agent's gun again, now to Piotr's head. "Die you fool! Die!" he screamed. Piotr, realizing what he was going to do, dodged away out the door, into cover, and then when the firing stopped – *bang* *bang* *bang*

The lifeless corpse of Ivan fell down to the ground. The annoyed stalker scavenged all the bodies for anything useful, but the one thing he noticed was actually on the most recently bloody corpse – Ivan's keycard, a security card permit to every door on Ivan's base. He remembered Ivan's base, Ivan was the one who helped him sneak in last time. Without him, it would seem nearly impossible to even set foot in the general vicinity. But he would take this keycard anyway, just to insure a dull moment won't exist. And – who knows, maybe there are really good artifacts inside the base? But that's for later. He also found, or rather, re-found another interesting bit: the satellite enhancement document. But what in the world is he going to do with it? Nonetheless, it was also taken, and Piotr was set to leave – this time, looking for a job himself. But where would he go…?
  03:44:37  25 January 2005
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GrislySilence
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On forum: 10/06/2003
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The plot has me intrigued. There's spies, a satellite enhancement photo that contains information we don't know about yet, political intrigue... I definitely would like to see where this goes from here.

There's a good amount of information on the main character, though I would recommend introducing it piecemeal throughout the story, little hints and small details as to his past, etc. But a lot of the other characters need more to them. All I got was a name, and then they were dead. There should be some more unique details about them (if the main character knows those details, but if he doesn't, that in itself, is a detail). I did like the vague details about his past, things alluded to but not outright proclaimed, such as the event that got him kicked out of the spetznaz (which is a great element to bring in later, add more details to that, reveal more about him and how he reacts to stuff)

Try involving some more emotions from the characters, not just the basics of fear, surprise and anger, but more subtle details. Apprehension, sadness, wistfulness, or whatever.

And also just show emotions more. Like when the character was in the base and hunting around for stuff, he should be worried about people busting in on him, the alarms sounding, that he'll screw up, etc. It wasn't very tense, but is a great opportunity for tense action.

You might want to go over the story a few times to work out some problems with the writing. There was some word confusion that takes a second to figure out, and some misspellings that could be smoothed over. You should also go over it and think about changing the writing. It's too often rushed, when most of the time during the story, based on what was going on, you should be almost revelling in the details. The last part was perfect for the split-second action, though it happened just a little too fast for my taste. However, it was still a very interesting scene.

Ok, I know that's a lot of criticism there, though I hope you consider it constructive. But I wasn't lying when I said that I wanted to see where the story ends up. Everyone starts out with one thing they're good at, and have to work on the others. I write well, but need to constantly make sure my plot and characters are done just as good. From this brief chapter of your story, I'm thinking that your plotting is good, but you need to work on the writing some more. From what I've seen so far of your characters, I'm hopeful you'll be able to smooth out some of the details and come out with some nice, realistic, unique characters.

Now give us chapter 2!
  12:31:23  25 January 2005
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Naaaaa
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On forum: 04/07/2004
 

Message edited by:
Naaaaa
01/25/2005 15:55:41
Messages: 825
Yay! I thought this moment would never come! A response! And mostly a good one!

I'm not too much of a professional writer (well not at all actually), but it was helpful to consult DD to get another view. Ok, I'll take your advice and go do chapter 2 and go over it 5 times before posting (even if it is for 1 guy, still fun for me).

Any other opinion ? I'm seeing like 15 entries and 1 response, come on people I won't be insulted!
  20:45:19  26 January 2005
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Naaaaa
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On forum: 04/07/2004
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Seriously, why can't you respomd ?
  22:29:44  26 January 2005
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GrislySilence
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On forum: 10/06/2003
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---QUOTATION---
Seriously, why can't you respomd ?
---END QUOTATION---



Interest in the literary contest is waning. Even the spam voters left. Most of the regulars only come back sporadically.

But I'm still here!
  10:37:36  27 January 2005
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
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On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
I am around! But I have personal matters to take care of, that I have to resolve at the moment. Not to mention Verdict 3 (complete rework of Verdict 2). But once I get my stuff around I'll be posting.
  18:55:19  28 January 2005
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Naaaaa
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On forum: 04/07/2004
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Blah should've postde it before the contest was over :...
maybe more people would have come in and respond :.
  06:54:02  29 January 2005
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
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On forum: 07/31/2003
 

Message edited by:
Amoki
01/29/2005 7:02:46
Messages: 1729
Heh, how about a little spacing? It looks like hell ATM. I actually tried to read it, and so far, it looks amazing for someone who just got started. But the spcaing is very discouraging to keep on reading. I suppose I can use my moderator superpower, but... bah, let you do some work while you wait for comments
  17:10:53  29 January 2005
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Naaaaa
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On forum: 04/07/2004
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Use your moderator uber powers... as I seem to be unable to edit the post ATM :-.
  04:30:44  31 January 2005
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
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On forum: 07/31/2003
 

Message edited by:
Amoki
01/31/2005 10:29:05
Messages: 1729
Read it. These are my comments:

1) Plot - actually quite an interesting read, I must say. Something that is different from the rest. However, your plot is marred by cliches. Don't worry - it's a very common mistake for authors to write according to their version of the fact and don't realise it until someone pointed it out. I'm also pointing out plot holes among the way.

Cliche (1) - Why would the MI5 send an agent with a British accent to enemy territory? You used the word "Soviet", meaning the evil version of Russia, who would love to get their hands on enemy agents to use as bargaining chips for their own captured spies. It's like saying the MI5 send someone who speak funny "shaloms" to Isreal to spy on you guys over there. I know its for the sake of plot, but heck, realism IS realism. You don't expect the Americans to send a "lao wai" to China to try to spy on them, do you?

Fault (1) - "Satelite enhancement"... an Intelligence service that didn't have satelite enhancement and require someone to steal it? I defintely recommend you substitute it with reseach papers instead..

Cliche (2) - in the Soviet Union, Spetznaz who are disliked don't get sacked, they just get send to Afghanistan to hunt down Mujahedeens or other suicide missions. (Meh heh heh). In Russia today, your version of the story would probably be logical, but... why would a commander be on the field anyway? Isn't a plan of action is filed and discussed right before the mission? And even if there is a fault, you wouldn't get sacked so easily, you will be send through court martial and if the mission's failure has nothing to do with you (i.e unforeseen factors), you will get no punishment. You need to say clearly what had happened. And always show a clear distinction between 'The Army" and "The Special Forces" - those 2 have a deep clear line. To put it in your perspective, it's like calling the Jews living in the Gaza Strips as "Palestinians" because they are living in a (former) Palestinian territory.

fault (2) - you expressed your plot too quickly. Plot is like a blown balloon, you have to express them slowly so that we can comprehend what's going on witha greater detail. The betrayal of Gregory, for one, is too quick. And everything happened within a blur that I don't really get what's going on, and who's who.

All in all, I recommend a longer length for your story. Put more effort in explaining things.

2) characterization - too light. We know the characters' background and history and their purpose in the story, but we need something more, like the way he thinks or the way he feels (elaborate it). Also, consider using Russian swears. It's like asking a Dutch to swear the 'f' word when he would use something in his own language, like "Klootzak". I am, of course, not THAT kind to tell you what swears you should use. But using a swear in a different language make a huge difference. HAving a Russian/Ukrainian guy screaming "Chert Vozmi!" in your face is cooler than the same person screaming "Damn it" in your face.

That goes to all your characters.

3) Style - Elaborate more. We only get the overall picture of your story, not in depth. Don't be afraid to elaborate, although you should constantly delete anything irrelevant.

Additional note goes to your title. Epicenter for what?


My personal recommendation is that you try to read this story: https://www.gsc-game.com/main.php?t=community&s=forums&s_game_type=xr&thm_page=1&thm_id=2353&page=1&sec_id=5#34112.

It's damn long, but it is one of the top 5 stories in my review ATM, and the story that I think you will find some inspiration from. (33 pages in word!). You will learn something from this fanfic, definitely.

P.S - hope the review is good enough for you. Even though this is approximately the length of reviews I usually give.
 
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