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The Job

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  14:45:53  21 May 2010
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Ex modder, Zones only ferret and will someday release a game


On forum: 02/20/2010
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Thanks billybob, I did put a bit more effort into the chapter than normal. Anyways, here's the next one (Yes, the story will go on, I'm not ending it here).

Chapter 11
Shadow and Sage sat in the cage, neither speaking to the other. Silently, they were trying to come to terms with their predicament, and Reapers betrayal. Every 5 minutes, a Merc or two would walk by, and laugh and say things they couldn’t understand. But they didn’t need to understand the Merc’s jeers, the message was obvious: “Ha, you lost”. They could hear the Merc’s in the next room laughing, and a fire crackling, and the steady footsteps of a sentry. It wasn’t long before they heard a soft ‘thud’, and the footsteps grew silent.

Sage cocked his head at this, and glanced at Shadow. It was clear that he had heard it too, and was listening as well. Meanwhile, the Merc’s in the next room carried on talking and laughing like nothing was wrong. Then everything went wrong.

The both barely heard the soft repeated ‘phfft’s of a suppressed automatic weapon, then slightly louder smack of bullets hitting flesh and finally the thuds of bodies hitting the ground. The mercenaries in the next room grew very quiet for a second, and then began making some noise of their own: mainly angry clamouring and the sounds of chairs and crates being tipped over. Then it grew quiet again.

Sage realised he was holding his breath, and let it go, trying to keep his breathing down to a minimum. He heard a pair of boots land on the ground, begin walking, and then stop. Then there was the sound of several silenced shots, followed by the changing of magazines and the rechambering of a new round. The footsteps started again and headed in their direction. On the ground, they could both see the shadow of a person approaching, holding a weapon. Then the owner of the shadow stepped into view.

When they saw who it was, Sages and Shadows jaws dropped. “What the hell? Your dead!” exclaimed Sage.

Standing there, holding onto a scoped and silenced TRs, blood covering his armour, with numerous bullet holes in the armoured vest of the Bulat, and grinning from ear to ear, was Ivan.

“That’s right, fresh from the grave and ready to kick some Merc butt. Where’s Reaper?”

“Turncoat traitor.” Shadow informed him dryly. “He also has your Tunder.”

“What? The guy was with the Merc’s all along? Fucker’s dead meat when I get to him. Let me just get you guys outta here.” Ivan holstered his rifle, and from a pocket pulled a couple of twisted lengths of wire, and began picking the lock.

“Firstly, join the que; we already both have dibs on his head. Secondly, last time I saw you, you got pummelled by a decent burst of machine gun fire. How the hell did you survive?” asked Sage.

“Yeah, tell us. I swore I could see moonlight through you” added Shadow.

With a click, the door swung open. “One word: Firefly” replied, pulling an amber coloured fist sized ball from a pocket, which emitted streams of light from small recessed pits. “Merc’s can’t search a corpse for shit. I was probably on deaths door with this thing, if I was lucky.”

“Ah, the Firefly. Said to be revive the dead. Looks like we now know that it does work” commented Sage.

“If you two are done discussing artefacts, remember, we have a camp full of hostages to save, and Reaper to kill.” Interrupted Shadow.

“Right, you two better borrow some of the Merc’s gear; I don’t think they’ll mind.”

They all went into the next room. Around the fire, five dead Merc’s lay, all with half of their heads missing, all wearing the Merc Sunrise suits. Since Sage and Shadow still both wore their bodysuits, they went straight for the armoured vests. Sage unclipped one of the Merc’s pistol holsters, and opened it up and pulled out the pistol for examination. ‘A HPSS, reliable, 13 shots’ he thought. He then attached the holster to his own suit. He grabbed the Merc’s thigh satchel, and opened it. Inside, there were several Army issue medkits, bandages, and several gd-05 smoke grenades, along with a spare clip for the HPSS. This he clipped to his belt, and began looking around for a rifle.

The first one he saw was an IL-86. 30 round magazine, bullpup configuration, and integrated scope, it was heavy and tended to jam every third round. ‘Nah’ he thought, and continued looking. The next one was a SIG-5K. 30 round clip, iron sights, standard layout, with decent accuracy and firepower. ‘That’ll do’ he though, as he grabbed the rifle. Looking up, he saw Shadow trying on one of the Merc’s gasmasks, with a Viper slung over his shoulder, silenced, of course.

“Sage, grab a mask if you can find one, else grab a breather.” Shadow told him when he noticed him looking. He quickly examined the corpses. None of them had masks; however, one did have 1st gen NVG on him. He put these aside, and began loosening the straps on one of the airtanks the Merc’s were wearing. Unclipping the breather, and putting the tank on, then clipping the breather to the front of his suit. He hung the NVG’s from his neck, and then grabbed several clips for the SIG, and stuffed them into the unused artefact containers on the front of his suit and the ammo pouch.

“We all set?” Ivan asked them once Sage stood back up. Both Shadow and Sage nodded.

“The hostages are likely in the centre of the camp, and we have to get through the barracks first.” Sage informed Ivan, who nodded in reply.
“Alright, lets kick some Merc butt” said Shadow confidently, chambering a round into his Viper. “They won’t know what hit them.”

They all nodded in agreement to each other, and turned and left the room, with Shadow leaving, and Ivan covering the rear, with Sage in the middle.
  14:24:10  18 May 2010
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Senior Resident

On forum: 12/22/2009
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Fluffy, it's stories like this that make me to scared to write another chapter because it can't live up to expectations, good work
  04:20:01  18 May 2010
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Ex modder, Zones only ferret and will someday release a game


On forum: 02/20/2010
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Chapter 10
He was lying, this time on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. It was bright, electric light bright. He couldn’t move his legs, arms, head, anything. Out of the bottom of his eyes he could see red; he could feel it covering his face. ‘I’m dead’, Sage realised. ‘They got me and shot me, and now I’m dead. He could hear someone walking, coming closer to him, and sure enough a figure stepped into view. He couldn’t see who it was, only that they were wearing something dark.

“Sage”, the figure spoke, echoing his name. The voice sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place it. The figure reached down, reaching for his neck. Then his face began to burn, it burnt away the red, the blurred form of the figure, and the bright light.

“Sage, wake up Sage. Now’s not the time for sleeping”

Sage blinked, and the vision was gone. In its place was Shadow, crouching over him. A single electric bulb hung from the ceiling, barely illuminating the room. He sat up and looked around. They were in a cell, a cage to be more accurate, about 2 ½ meters by 2 ½ meters, reaching up to the roof.

“Careful Sage, the bastards broke your nose when they knocked you out. As for me, I’ve got a lump on my head the size of a grapefruit.”
“Where are we?”

“Still in the Wild Territory, Merc base I would presume. I’ve seen a few of them walk past here.”

“Where’s Reaper?”

“I don’t know. I heard him cry out early on in the battle, and I saw Ivan go down. They must have had group behind us.”

“We need to get out of here.”

“No go Sage, I’ve looked for a way out. They’ve taken all our gear off us. And it sounds like there’s a whole squad outside the door sometimes.”

Just then, a Mercenary wearing a Merc Sunrise and carrying a Viper walked by, saw both of them, and jabbed off something they didn’t understand, before turning around and running off.

“What was that about?”

“Don’t know Sage, your guess is as good as mine. They’ve walked by a few times, mainly looked in and walked off. Guess they were waiting for you to wake up.”

“Hope this means we get to meet whoever is in charge. I’ve got a few questions I wanted answered.”

“So do I. I’ve got a feeling some of our questions are the same.”

Right on cue, a bunch of Mercs walked in. These guys were better armed; carrying TRs and SIG assault rifles, and one carrying a Tunder. When they saw who was carrying the Tunder, Shadows face drained of all colour. “What the hell?”

Sages response, on the other hand was the complete opposite. His face twisted with fury, and he slammed himself against the cage trying to reach him. Several mercs stepped forwards and slammed their rifle stocks into his face and arms, forcing him back into the cage. He felt warmth flowing down his face.

“Ah Sage, be careful now. I don’t really want you bleeding all over my floor. Had to clean my rifle after hitting you in the face. Shame about our ‘comrade’ Ivan though, but those were the orders I issued to the ambush squad. At least his gun survived though” he said, holding up the Tunder.

“So Reaper, how much did the mercs offer you to turn on us?” asked Shadow.

“Turn? Ha. They were paying me all along to keep an eye on you two. We want to always know what the best stalkers are up to, just in case they decide to interfere with out plans.” Replied Reaper.

“So then, why keep us alive Reaper?” Sage asked him.

“Why? Simple. Because I wanted to enjoy beating you, taking down the two most effective stalkers within the zone. I want you to sit here, utterly defeated and humiliated, knowing that your objective is so close, but you cannot do a thing to stop us.” Reaper said proudly.

“Reaper, just two things: One, what is your plan here?”

“Well, Sage, this would be the part where the ‘bad guy’, that would be me, would tell the ‘good guys’, that’s you two if you’re not following me clearly the mercs plans. Unfortunately, you two have a habit of getting out of spots like this, so just in case; I’m not going to tell you. And the second?”

Before Sage could speak, Shadow interrupted “Two would be the part where you run like hell because we’re coming to kill you.”

Reaper just stared at the two of them for a second, before bursting out laughing. “Kill me? Kill ME? You two are seriously out of your minds. First, you have to get out of your cage here, past the guards, through the barracks and the camp, and then to me. And all the mercs here have instructions to kill you if you get yourselves out of the cage. I don’t see you guys killing me anytime soon. There’s no help coming. The army won’t do anything until Ivan sends them a message, which isn’t going to happen. By the time the next Duty Clearance squad comes through, we’ll be gone, and you two will be bloodsucker food. Your beat, finished, history, hahahaha.” With that, Reaper turned around and left, still laughing.

After they left, Sage looked at Shadow. “Are you sure there’s no way out of this cage.”

“No, I spent half an hour looking. And I can’t break the lock quietly without alerting the guards. And one of them walks by every 5 minutes. We can’t do anything within that time.”

Sage just slid down the side of the cage, and put his head in his hands.
  13:46:35  12 May 2010
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Ex modder, Zones only ferret and will someday release a game


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Chapter 9
The floor was hard, cold, and white, the white of many ceramic tiles. He found himself hunched over on the tiles. He couldn’t see anything but the tiles. He could hear people sobbing in the distance, while regular low thumps told him people were walking around slowly. He could hear the continuous ringing of gunshots in the air, the smell of cordite and burnt gunpowder in the air. He could hear footfalls behind him, growing closer, ever closer. The tiles grew black, and cracked. Weeds started sprouting through them, climbing up his arms, legs, tying him to the ground.

The footsteps grew closer and then stopped. He felt a hand grab his shoulder, and a voice above him began to speak. “Ok, Sage, it’s time to go.”

“NO!” he yelled back. He pulled himself back, ripping himself free of the weeds and turning around, he grabbed the arm, only to have it turn into a snake and grin at him, and slither out of his grasp.

He was shaking, falling, the blackness streaking up past him. There was a light below him, growing closer, larger, and brighter.

“Sage, you there? Wake up, it’s time to go.”

“Shit, everything all right? We heard Sage yell.”

“It’s nothing Reaper; I just startled him, that’s all.”

The light swung away, and the darkness faded, and his vision returned. He could see Shadow crouched in front of him, facing Reaper and Ivan, who were standing a short distance away. Reaper nodded to Shadow, and turned around and headed outside, Ivan following him. Once they had gone, Shadow turned back to Sage.

“Nightmares again?”

“Yeah. It’s time already?”

“Yeah, you sure you want to do this?”

“Have to face your demons sometime.”

“True Sage, true. Come on, let’s not keep the other waiting, else they’ll be complaining it’s daybreak before long.” Shadow stood up and turned around, heading for the door. Sage watched him exit before standing up and collecting his gear. ‘Did I make the right choice?’ he found himself wondering as he shouldered his pack. He grabbed his helmet, looked at it for several seconds before dropping his pack, opening it and pulling out a spare respirator, and put his helmet into the pack and shouldered it again. He made sure a round was chambered in his Avalanche, and the safety off, before heading outside.

“Well, well, sleeping beauty has finally arisen” joked Reaper as he joined the other outside. Sage responded by whacking Reaper over the head, even though he was wearing his Sphere 12 helmet, and probably didn’t feel a thing.

“Ok, now we’re all here, let’s get moving. We need to cross the bar and enter the Wild Territory and recon the place tonight. If they’re there somewhere, we’ll hit them at first light. Clear?” Ivan ordered. Reaper, Shadow and Sage nodded their agreement.

“Reaper, Ivan, you two cover the rear. Shadow, you’re with me. We’ll move in standard 2 by 2 formation. Everyone set? Good, let’s go.”

Sage turned around and headed off into the concrete maze of the Rostik bar. Shadow walked parallel to him, several meters away.

“Sage, the safest and quickest route into the Wild Territory is the path north of the abandoned Arena. It’s also a choke point, perfect for an ambush.”

“I know. There are other paths even safer, but navigating them, even with a Svarog, would take too long. If we are going to be ambushed here, that’s where it will be. The Arena should only be five minutes’ walk from here, barring any problems.”

The walk was uneventful, unless scaring a lone Tushkano counts as an event. They stopped outside the Arena, and looked around. Sage could still see the faded sign of the 100 Rads bar, hanging haphazardly from the building. He could still remember the day he and Shadow first arrived in the Zone, and this was the first place they came too, looking for serious work.

“Wonder where the Barkeep and all the regular stalker who used to be here are now.” Said Shadow.

“Dead, or up north most likely.” Sage replied.

“So, this is the fabled Rostik Bar, home to the 100 Rads, the Arena, and Duty.” Snorted Ivan. “Doesn’t look like much, but then again, if anomalies move in, you have no choice but to move out.”

“Reaper, you see anything?”

“Nothing Sage, area here’s dead”

“Reaper, I always wondered? Why did you spend mega bucks on paying a tech to install that Infrared scanner, when you could have just gotten a Tactical Helmet?”

“Cause Shadow, the Sphere helmet offers better protection”

“Ok, equipment discussion, flashbacks, and general wondering breaks over. Let’s get back on task. Same story as before: Reaper, Ivan, rear. Shadow, with me at the front. Let’s go.” Sage started walking off, while the others followed. Not long after, they reached the gate which signified the end of the Bar, and the start of the Wild Territory. Sage pointed at Reaper, then at his own eyes, then through the gate. ‘Anything?’ Reaper shook his head. Sage turned and ducked through the gate, and headed for cover behind a block of concrete, aiming his gun down range. He could see the familiar shack in the far right corner, with the two story hallway connecting several factory buildings in front of him. Shadow took cover behind a bush not far from him, while Reaper and Ivan headed straight past and took cover behind the truck. Sage and Shadow ran forward, Shadow heading for a tree in front of the truck, While Sage headed for a pile of concrete slabs, using the support columns holding up a pipe for cover. He reached the slabs and saw Ivan heading the same way as him.

He saw it before he heard it. As Ivan was heading his way, a stream of tracer rounds found their mark, and pummelled Ivan. The sound of a machine gun reached him shortly after.

“Shit, return fire!” he yelled towards Shadow and Reaper. He peered over the top of the slabs, and In the light of the machine guns fire, saw a stalker wearing a blue suit similar to his operating it. ‘Knew it was Mercs’, he thought to himself. He fired in the direction of the gun, which promptly fell silent. Spotting several other Mercs, be began firing off short bursts in their direction, and was rewarded by several bodies crumpling to the ground. He ran dry, and ducked back behind the slabs to reload.

As he was doing so, he realized he couldn’t hear or see Reapers fire. “Reaper, you ok?” He yelled behind him. No answer. “Reaper, Shadow, you guys here?” Still no answer. Turning around, he saw a rifle butt speeding towards his face, and then black.
  16:51:31  9 May 2010
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Senior Resident

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  13:35:10  9 May 2010
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Ex modder, Zones only ferret and will someday release a game


On forum: 02/20/2010

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Chapter 8
Sage hit the ground and scurried away from the helicopter. Beside him, he could Shadow doing the same. He scanned the area with his VAL and didn’t see anything. Behind him, he could hear the helicopter powering up and lifting off. Dropping the folio, he quickly removed the loose sheets he had shuffled to the front and stuffed them into one of his pockets, before closing it again.

“Sage, where’s a safe place to hole up temporarily?” Ivan called from behind, over the noise of the departing helicopter.

“There” he answered, pointing at a low building 30 meters from them.

They approached the building in standard 2 up, 2 back formation, with Sage and Shadow leading, with Reaper and Ivan watching their backs. They approached a door in the side, with Sage and Shadow flanking it, while Reaper and Ivan covered it. Shadow grabbed the door handle and looked at Sage, who merely nodded. Shadow opened the door, and Reaper burst through and turned left. Sage followed and turned left, leaving Shadow and Ivan to bring up the rear.

“Clear left!”

“Clear right!”

“Room clear!”

“Ok guys, this will be our base camp for now” Ivan instructed them, lowering his weapon, while the Shadow and Reaper did the same. Sage however, just faced Ivan.

“Ok, now, tell us what this really is about Ivan, this job stinks too much to be the real deal.”

“What do you mean Sage, course its real. The Military doesn’t mess around with jobs like this.”

“Course they don’t. In fact, they’ve gotten a bunch of stalkers and some Military stalker to do it. And the pay: 30 grand each. The biggest before was 2 grand. It’s too good to be true. And they’ve never gotten us to do jobs of this scale before. It’s always ‘Track down this Spetznaz deserter, or kill these Bandits’. Not go out and rescue 19 school kids. And how the hell were they grabbed? You can’t get within 20km of the Zones boarder without an escort. And what is there out here to see? Nothing. News of something like this would have even trickled into the Zone, Sid would have heard about it, and informed Duty and other top ranked stalkers about it. And what school were they from? Some multinational private school? We’re not morons, unlike you. Now, what is this about?”

“Look, Sage, I only know as much as you. I got called in by General Valdimir, not that you’d know him. He told me about it, pointed at the Rostik bar, and suggested I start here. He told me to do whatever it took, but apart from getting in, I would have no support until it’s confirmed. That’s why I called you in. Your pay is coming out of the funding I was given to do this: bribe stalkers for information, to go somewhere and look, or to stay away from somewhere. That’s all, I swear.”

“I still don’t trust you. It seems to me that there is at least one Government behind this, maybe more. And something like this, the kidnapping, no way Bandits could have pulled this off, It’s gotta be Mercs, guns for hire. And someone with a serious cash backing. And why the old Rostik factory, why start looking here? Mercs only had a small base here while they were harassing the scientists. They’re main base is supposed to be in the Dead City, Limansk, unless you plan on going through Yantar, Red Forest and then into the tigers den.”

“Look damnit, I don’t know. I do what I’m told, and I do it. I don’t ask questions, unless something is unclear, and it was all clear. Kids missing, taken to Zone, look here. Here’s some money and a helicopter. Look, if you want to complain, go complain to the general who tasked me with this, he’ll probably give us all a bullet to the head, Ok?”

“Fine, whatever, let’s just get this over and done with Ok? I’ll take first watch.”

Sage turned around and headed back outside. He found a concrete pipe and sat down on it, and began looking around. Apart from the barely visible leaves swirling around a whirligig, the area was deserted. No mutants screeching or roaring or growling, the crows cawing above in the sky, no gunshots indicating a Duty mutant hunting party, and the soft rumbling of the whirligig. Apart from the fact there was a job at hand, the world as far as he was concerned was in good order.

“Sage, you ok? I know this is a... sensitive topic with you, considering previous... experiences. We’ve decided to head out at night. Ivan wants to start looking at the Wild Territory tonight. And I don’t trust Ivan as far as I can throw him. Reapers another story though, he seems to trust Ivan, although that may be due to the fact they’re both similar in many ways.”

Once again Sage remembered why he was called Shadow: he could tail you like one and be as silent as one. “Yeah Shadow, I’m fine. Just a little pissed off that I didn’t spot this all earlier. But it wouldn’t have changed much. I still would have gone ahead with it. Freedom wouldn’t do anything, Duty would to more damage than good, and the Military just wants the Zone to be forgotten. And I trust Reaper with my life. And I trust Ivan as much as you do. Let’s just get this over and done with. After this, I’m washing my hands of the Military, no more secret jobs, or regular jobs after this one.”

“All right, I’ll replace you in an hour. Make sure you get some rest then. We’ve got a long night ahead.”

Sage heard the door close behind him. The next hour passed without incident. True to his word, Shadow took over the watch. He headed back inside and noticed the others asleep already. He found an old mouldy mattress propped up against a wall, sat down on it, and closed his eyes.

Feedback appreciated.
  08:44:23  7 May 2010
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Ex modder, Zones only ferret and will someday release a game


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Another long one, this might become more common

Chapter 7
They all sat in silence as the jeep traveled down the road. After accepting the job, the Colonel pointed them towards a jeep, with a private who looked ready to throw himself into a Whirligig if the Colonel asked him to. Which meant they’d probably run into one while in the jeep. As the private drove the jeep down the road, Sage realized his earlier assessment of the driver was probably inaccurate: they wouldn’t hit any whirligigs with this guy driving; he had a damn keen eye. Sage had been watching his Svarog detectors screen during the trip, and watched as an anomaly blip showed up, the driver swerved to avoid it.

It didn’t take them long to reach the new outpost. It was larger than the Cordon one, with several guard towers around the perimeter. Nearby, a Hind helicopter was idling, its blades rotating. The barrier arm leading into the outpost was raised, and the jeep drove through, and came to a stop on a concrete pad, not far from the helicopter. As soon as the jeep stopped, a soldier in a Bulat armored suit came running over to them while they got themselves and gear out of the jeep.

“Reaper, Sage, Shadow?”

“Yeah, that’s us” Shadow replied. “You Ivan?”

The soldier in the Bulat nodded. “Yep. Come on, our rides waiting.” He turned and started to head for the Hind, but stopped to grab a stack of documents on a crate nearby. He turned around and passed a stack of the documents to each of them. “Reading material” he yelled out over the sound of the helicopter, before resuming towards the helicopter.
They all climbed on and began to secure their gear. Sage looked over at Ivan and tried to copy him, and glanced around. Reaper was busy making sure all his gear was secured, while Shadow opposite him was doing the same: looking around for help.

Ivan finished securing his gear and lent over to Sage and began to help him with his gear. Once done, Ivan sat back down into his seat and belted himself in. Sage did the same: he had no desire to take flying lessons today. He looked around and noticed the others had done the same too. He glanced over at Ivan, and noticed he had taken from the roof a headset and was already taking into a mike. Sage looked up and noticed one above his head. He reached for it and pulled it down and pulled it onto his head. “... alright, let’s get this show on the road.” He looked forwards into the cockpit and saw the pilots flicking switches and checking meters. He felt the helicopter lurch forward and looked out the side. He could see the ground slowly moving away from him and moving backwards.

He looked back at the others. Opposite him, Shadow was already looking green, and was trying to read the documents Ivan had given them. Meanwhile, Reaper and Ivan had started arguing about whose weapons were better.

“No, the Tunder has small magazine size, and its ammo weighs more than the Akabans.”

“The Tunder is lighter, more compact and more suited for close quarter combat than the Akaban.”

“It’s a bullpup: it has poor recoil, and poor accuracy. You can’t hit anything beyond 100 meters with it. The Akaban has a longer floating barrel, which increases accuracy and reduces recoil.”

“The Tunders rate of fire is better than the Akabans. Its ammo is also heavier and larger; so overall, it’s just as powerful as the Akaban. And its integrated grenade launcher is much less likely to break or fall off.”

This is going to be a long trip, thought Sage. He turned his attention to the stack of documents Ivan had handed him. He opened it and saw a number of cardboard folios. He opened the first one and saw a few sheets of paper and a photograph of some kid. He scanned the first page: The usual data, name, date of birth, parents, medical history, gender, etc. He looked at the data of birth and did some quick math. Shit, he thought. The kids only 12. He closed the folio and counted the rest. 19 in total, most of a class for a private school. He began looking through the rest. He wasn’t too sure but something just didn’t seem right. He looked over at Reaper and Ivan, who were still arguing, except the topic had changed to dealing with mutants and Monolith. He turned to face Shadow, who was looking at him, and then began signing with his hands.

‘Info not right’ Shadow gestured. “There’s something wrong with this info.”

‘Where not’ Signed Sage in return. “What?”

‘From bases, but not bases here’ Sage looked puzzled at this, so Shadow repeated it.

Sage opened up the first folio and looked at it again. From bases, but not bases here, what am I missing? He asked himself. He scanned the first few and then looked back up at Shadow.

‘All from wrong bases, but no bases’

Sage looked back down and glanced at each one in quick succession. They’re all different nationalities, he realized. Some of these are European, others Asian. The names are all different. Place of birth, where the hell is the place of birth on all of these? None of them list it. He looked back up to Shadow and nodded, which Shadow returned.

Just then the helicopter lurched in the air, and Sage lost his grip on the folder. It slid towards the door, but he grabbed it just before they fell out.

“Sorry about that folks, I’m sure you wouldn’t want us to fly you guys into an anomaly now would you?” The voice sounded familiar, and he realized it was the same person, the pilot or the co-pilot who had spoken at the start of the flight.

“Ah shit” he exclaimed.

“What’s wrong?”

“I lost some of the papers when we moved to avoid the anomaly” he lied.

“Forget Sage, they’d be destroyed anyway. And the chance of someone tripping over them here is pretty remote.” Ivan assured him.

“30 seconds till insertion. You guys get your asses into gear.” interrupted the pilot, as the helicopter headed towards the ground, near the outskirts of the old Rostik bar and factory. Sage quickly rearranged some of the sheets of paper and saw Shadow doing the same thing opposite him, before untying his gear and shouldering his rucksack. He removed the headset and hung it back into its cradle on the roof, pulled out his curtain helmet and put it on and made sure a round was chambered in his VAL. About a meter above the ground, the light above the door flashed green and he jumped.
  07:13:52  6 May 2010
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Senior Resident

On forum: 10/28/2009
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I like it fluffy don't see any problem in it missions intriguing
  06:23:04  6 May 2010
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Ex modder, Zones only ferret and will someday release a game


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As I am getting busier lately due to studies, I'd appreciate a bit of feedback on how much you like my first story attempt. This will let me know how much time I should try to find and spend working on this. Chapter 7 should be done within a few days or so, now that I'm finally over my writers block.
  08:38:50  5 May 2010
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Ex modder, Zones only ferret and will someday release a game


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At long last, and its a long one.

Chapter 6
It only took about another 5 minutes of sustained running to get to the Military outpost, supposed to lie just inside of the zones borders. The fact is, another outpost set up about 5km down the road, said to ‘control the paths into the zone’ was just a ruse. Any stalker who knew the history of the Cordon knew that was originally the job of the northernmost outpost, then their main base set up on the edge, reinforced during the faction wars, and now this new outpost further south. ‘The destruction of Monolith and their Masters’ the military boasted ‘has warranted the safety of the zone, as they aren’t running around causing us trouble no longer in our attempts to secure the zone.’ Bullshit, Sage thought to himself. The 18 years the Monoliths C-Consciousness ran the zone, it stayed stable, never fluctuated, never grew, but never shrank. And then came the day that Strelok moron battled his way through the Monolith forces at the Radar, Pripyat, and the NPP its self, right into the heart of the C-Consciousness. They tell him they only the same things as we do: to keep the world safe from the zone, it’s their creation, so it’s their responsibility. So what does the prick do? He kills them. All the solid research on the zone, years of knowledge collected by the C-Consciousness and Monolith, the paths to the centre secured, free from obstruction and interference, any hope of controlling the zone, gone, when Strelok, being the poster stalker of the zone in the eyes of the world, and his damn AK-74/2U, wiped out any chance humanity may have made. Sure, he was hailed as a hero for several months, but then the zone started to expand, and he hasn’t shown his face since-

“Halt, Stalker, remove your helmet and raise your hands slowly, or we’ll shoot. Got it?”

‘Oh well’ Sage thought, while sighing. ‘Time to come back to reality.’ He compiled with the soldiers orders, being used to it. ‘You’d think after the number of times I’ve done jobs for these guys, they’d be able to recognise me by now. Oh well.’

“Names Sage. I understand the Colonel wants to see me.”

“It’s about time you piece of crap. The Colonel has almost been shitting bricks wondering where you were. The zone isn’t the place for a Sunday stroll, or a picnic either, Stalker. Your ‘friends’ are already here, so don’t keep them waiting. Gotit? Good, get moving turd.”

Sage shook his head as he walked by the soldiers. A few years back, when some Major named Khaletskiy was in charge, the Military got beaten by a bunch of ragtag stalkers. Not long after that, when they were based in Agroprom after Duty left, Strelok waltzed in, killed off half the garrison guard, and made off with a bunch of Documents. He then went to X18, got in and out, and killed 2 squads of Spetznaz by himself, swung by this very military outpost, killed them off, and took another lot of Documents, before heading North to deal with the C-Consciousness. Needless to say, if the Military hated stalkers before, they hated them even more now.

He climbed the stairs leading to the briefing room atop the main outpost building. Sitting there on the sofa, loading bullets into magazines with a Sphere helmet next to him, along with an Akaban with an attached grenade launcher, was Reaper. Sitting on the Desk in the corner, sharpening a set of knives, wearing a black/green patterned suit styled after the Wind of Freedom outfit, with a silencer Viper next to him, was the third member of his team, Shadow. Standing next to the map board, was the Military Colonel, Sergei, or something like that.


Sage flinched as Shadow, sitting on the desk, with a casual flick of the wrist, sent the knife flying into the wooden door frame, parallel with Sages head, while Reaper just chuckled.

“Sage, toss it back here will ya?”

While Sage pulled the knife from the door frame and tossed it back to Shadow, who caught it expertly, the military Colonel just looked at Shadow.

“I’d appreciate you not doing that, Stalker

“Sorry, Sir

“Guys” said Sage “We’re not enemies here at the moment OK?”

“Provided the pays good” interrupted Reaper

Sage looked at Reaper while the Colonel took his turn to Chuckle. “Oh, the pays good alright, very good.”

“Well, since where all here, tell us what the job is already.”

“Reaper, if you’d shut up for 30 seconds, he would. Shadow; please stop tossing that thing around before one of us loses an eye. I don’t mind mutants though.”

“Ha, mutant lost its eye did it? OK, I’ll be quiet now” Reaper said, while Sage and Shadow glared at him.

“You three done?” asked the Colonel. They all nodded. “Good. Ok, it goes like this: Some foreign private school decides to take some of its students on a trip around, and they passed through the Ukraine. Now, we normally don’t care about this, except somebody, Mercs, Bandits, we don’t know, managed to grab some of the kids and made a dash for the Zone. Overran one of our outposts in the process. We don’t know exactly where they are, but we believe it’s somewhere south of the centre and north of here.”

“Which is the entire southern Zone” Sage whacked Reaper over the top of his head with his hand.

“Anyways, there’s a sizable reward offered for the safe return of the student’s and the Military’s been told to do it. However, we are a bit... busy and can’t spare the manpower to do this. This is where you three come in. I’ve been able to cut loose one of our agents, names Ivan, he’s waiting out by the helicopter, to help you three out.”

The Colonels excuse flew right over their heads. It was simple. This way, if the operation failed, the blame would be pointed at them, and the military would gain several more reasons to have the Zone emptied of stalkers. If they succeeded, they would have a military operative to personally detail the operation.

“Now for the pay. You do everything right, and there’s 30 grand in it for you... each.”

30 grand each, though Sage. 90 grand all up. That’s a sizeable reward. Either there is a massive cash prize on this, or the military really wants this to succeed. They usually pay jack all. This is nearly half of what they’ve paid us for all the other jobs they wanted done.

“30 grand guaranteed for competition? Count me in.” Commented Reaper as he loaded a magazine into his weapon. “Sage, Shadow, you guys coming?”

Sage looked over at Shadow, who was deep in thought and still idly tossing his knife up into the air and catching it. “I’m game. Sage, you coming or not?”

All three of them looked at him expectantly.

“I’m in.”
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