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Blood And Brass

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  06:43:49  11 August 2011
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The Ghost
(Senior)
 
On forum: 04/08/2011
Messages: 50
Blood And Brass

Ive been working on this story for a while now (since around April), but I forgot about it until a few weeks ago. So, here it is. Enjoy, and comment!

Cast:

Second Squad, Ninth Legion of Freedom

Nikolai Petrenko – Squad Leader, Grenadier
Andrei Gunman- Machine Gunner
Anatoli Boukreev - Machine Gunner
Vanya Eagle-Owl – Rifleman
Dimitriy Chernekov - Rifleman
Fyodor Gramps - Rifleman
Aleksandr Tarasov – Grenadier
Pyotr Krylov - Marksman
Mikhail Lutrova- Demolitions

Blood And Brass::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Part 1: The Squad

My name is Nikolai Petrenko. Freedom member ever since I entered the Zone. Currently I hold the rank of Squad Leader, and I proudly command Second Squad, of the 9th Legion of Freedom. Our base is in the Dark Valley. Our enemy is Duty. This is our story.

I came into the Zone as a young Military conscript. Told to guard the Zone against all intruders, although we did the opposite. Anyone who could thicken our officer’s wallet got past the wire. The duty itself was utter shit. Being sent out alone on patrols, having to stand guard at night while everyone else slept was utter hell. Not to mention the number that the constant fear did to your nerves. Fuck Afghanistan, fear in the Zone had so many names that you could fill dictionaries with all of them. I decided right then and there that I had to get away. We were sent on a patrol to obtain this odd artifact that our fat officer needed because his liter of vodka a day had finally caught up with him. Half of our squad died of anomalies, the mutants took the other half. All that was left was me, our sergeant, and Valentin Kolobok. They went one way, I went the other. Two days later, Freedom found me in the Dark Valley, with my Makarov in my mouth, last round loaded, bleeding from so many holes I could barely count them, and dead mutants all around. They patched me up and took me in. I came to accept the Zone, and began to hate Duty more each day for trying to exterminate it. And they wonder why there are constant mutant attacks in Agroprom, while the Dark Valley is nearly clear of mutants?

My squad had the same luck I had when I came into the Zone. Stories of mutant hordes and bandit raids kept old Uncle Yar's hangar alive well into the ngiht with smooth ska music, Mary Jane homegrown by Ganja, and even a few old Grateful Dead records that Ganja owned and played whenever he could.

Andrei Gunman, a man so large he looked like the bastard child of a T-72 and a T-90, with sloppy seconds provided by a surplus T-34 left over from World War Two, was my machine gunner. He loved things that go bang and boom, and because of this, his ears were so far gone you had to say things four or five times to him before he heard you. Despite his hearing problem, he was an invaluable member of my squad. He was like a effing pack mule. Carrying food and ammo for the squad, carrying his big PKM (plus belts of spare ammo and fresh barrels), while still making Duty babies run and hide so they can cry without getting torn up with 7.62PP is not an easy thing. He pulls it off. Andrei even had to have Uncle Yar custom build him a Wind of Freedom suit because he could barely fit into the largest size we stocked at the base.

Anatoli Boukreev was a new addition to the squad, having been a mountaineer in the world outside of the Zone. He spent his time not with the hard drinks and the soft smokes like the rest of us in the hangar, but climbing every single thing that could be climbed in the base. The man must have been half spider, every structure in the base was no match for him. Like Andrei, he liked his guns. When he was not climbing, he was cleaning. Every weapon he owned had more grease on it than a cheap hooker, and God help you if he found your weapon in disrepair. Weapon maintinance was virtually unheard of in the Zone, and Anatoli probably saved poor Ashot thousands of rubles in replacement weapons by teaching Freedom soldiers that stuffing joints down the barrel of your weapon is NOT a good thing.

On to the rifle team. Vanya Eagle-Owl might have one of the weirdest names in the entire Zone, but it fit him. He was Freedom's biggest hippie. He smoked more herb with Ganja every day than all of Freedom combined. He loved nature and the Zone, which made him hate Duty even more. He wasn’t one of those peaceful, tree hugging hippies. The only time he would hug a tree is if he needed cover to return fire on the poor Duty soldier who had the misfortune of opening fire on him. The only problem was his grass habit. I would warn him hours before a mission to lay off the stuff so he wasn’t seeing stars and floating bongs on patrol, and sometimes it worked. Sometimes you found him in the Hole outside of the hangar, snoring. It seemed like every time he got the slightest bit wasted, he walked around the base and fell in the Hole.

Dimitriy Chernekov was another soldier-turned Freedomer like me, but instead of just deserting like I did, he woke up one morning, threw a grenade into the barracks, emptied a entire magazine into his officer before blowing up half of the base, and then drove down to the Dark Valley in an old BTR-70 that he stole from the base. When he got out of the APC, every Freedomer at the base had his rifle pointed at him. His first words were “Hello. I want to join you guys. Look, I brought you a gift!”, smiling like a teenager who just got head for the first time. Ashot sat on his ass in the back of the firing line, cocking his SA80 over and over to “make it look more like those scenes in the movies where everyone loads their guns a lot!”. I know some nuts are loose in Dimitriy`s head, but he is absolutely fearless. His stolen APC now guards the entrance to the Freedom base. We cant find any more gas for it, so its going to stay there.

Fyodor Gramps is the last rifleman on my team. The oldest member of the team, he tells us how him and Uncle Yar were in the Zone when the mutants were dinosaurs. He says that his last name is short for “Grandpa”. The old man can sure fight, however, and his experience in the Zone has saved all of us from stepping headfirst into an anomaly many times. He also had the most near death experiences of anyone in the Zone. It seemed like everywhere he went, he was attacked. Everywhere he walked to on the Freedom base took a Duty mortar round within an hour of him being there. Fyodor even managed to escape the Duty base after being captured on a raid. He was in the basement, about to be shot in the back of the head by a Duty officer, when the officers pistol jammed. Fyodor grabbed it, cleared the jam, and killed the officer. Five days later, he was back in the Dark Valley.

Aleksandr Tarasov is the teams grenadier. Technically he is a rifleman, but our squad was only issued one GP30. We test fired it out at the southern farm. Aleksandr scored highest. He can drop a grenade wherever you tell him to. Once the GP30 quadrant sight raises, the man is a walking mortar.

Pyotr Krylov was the designated marksman in the squad. Early in his Freedom career, he was the punching bag of the faction due to his last name. Nobody talked to him or even issued him the proper kit when he joined. He got a tattered Wind of Freedom suit, with bits of its previous owner still plastered inside. But, on his first patrol, when it was discovered that he could turn three Duty officers into three headless Duty officers with a rusty Mosin-Nagant from 600 meters away, he finally started getting the respect he deserved. To this day he vows that he will be the one to kill General Krylov with his cherished SVU-Mk.2. I guess there can only be room for one Krylov in the Zone.

Mikhail Lutrova was the most recent addition to our team. He was transferred from Fourth Squad after a run in with a Bloodsucker. There was no more Fourth Squad, sans Mikhail, and so he was transferred to us. Every night, he tells the story of how he killed the bloodsucker. It was midnight in the Garbage. His squad was picked off one by one as they ran as fast as they could for the Dark Valley. His sergeant was first. The 'sucker ran straight up to him and grabbed his face, dragging him away. Then the men started dropping like flies. Every shaking bush or falling leaf was shot at. But, as soon as one of the men would stop to reload, the bloodsucker would drag him away. The squad bolted for the Dark Valley. The bloodsucker followed, picking off the slow runners one-by-one. Mikhail passed what is now called the Flea Market when the bloodsucker caught up with him. The bloodsucker knew its prey was done. It advanced on Mikhail slowly, its tentacles open wide for Mikhail's neck. The poor man stood like a tree, too tired to run and too scared to fight. The bloodsucker got closer. He was within 20 feet when Mikhail snapped to life. He grabbed his last F1 grenade and jammed it into the bloodsuckers mouth just as it was about to get some Mikhail for desert. The thing choked on it, and Mikhail ran as fast as he could away from the thing, not stopping until he reached the Valley. A patrol the next day saw a head and torso-less Bloodsucker corpse behind the Flea Market. Needless to say, if you want something to explode, he is your man.

There is nothing that we can not handle.


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  08:11:08  11 August 2011
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The Ghost
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On forum: 04/08/2011
Messages: 50
Part 2: The Job (An offer you cant refuse, because that would be treason.)

Communication is essential to the sustained presence of human life on this planet. Everybody needs to communicate. Loners need to communicate. Freedom needs to communicate. Duty needs to communicate.

The standard method of comms for every STALKER in the Zone was his PDA. But, those can be intercepted and jammed. Radio messages decrypted, plans foiled, ambushers ambushed before they even got out of the Valley. Duty knew this. In Agroprom, all of the buildings are connected by underground landline to the Duty base. The lines were laid by the old Soviet scientists working there, to allow the underground and the Institute to communicate. Duty tapped these phone lines, and now every outpost can talk to HQ whether we jam their PDAs or not. Your job is to take your men to Agroprom, and cut the main landline coming out of the Duty base. Doing so will allow us to finally jam their comms once and for all. We will be able to pick off their outposts one-by-one, Chekov said, the words rolling off of his tongue as he tapped the yellow, outdated map of Agroprom, the landline traced in black marker. Cut that fucking landline, he yelled.

Agroprom was the perfect place to set up shop. Roads connected it to the eggheads at Yantar, the Garbage, and even to the Swamps, but there is nothing there anyway. Most of the land is plains and plateaus. Underground is the infamous Agroprom Underground. Going down there was suicide. The only place that wasn't constantly patrolled by Duty and not bursting with radiation or anomalies was a mile long stretch of the landline, buried in a valley about 1,000 meters wide, running north. Insertion would be on foot, moving silently through the Duty lines.
Charges would be set on the landline at night, and by morning they would blow, signaling a massive Freedom offensive aimed at finally securing Agroprom.

“Fucking suicide.”, Fyodor told me. The squad sat over one of the maps of Agroprom in Uncle Yar`s hangar. Yes, it was suicide. One patrol, sent into Agroprom on foot. Nighttime insertion. Mutants owned the night. But I could see the reasoning in Chekov`s mission. We were the best squad in Freedom. We always racked up the highest Duty bodycount, and we were one of the only squads at full readiness. And, Freedom really needed those comms lines cut. Duty was beginning to get the upper hand in the war. We would have their PDAs and wireless frequencies jammed, but as soon as one of them saw green uniforms, he used the landline to call it in. Freedom squads were ambushed before they even left the Garbage. Squads returned from raids as fireteams. Something had to be done.

Over the course of the cool Zone night, we worked out a plan. We would leave in two days, PDAs off to avoid detection. A nighttime trek through the Garbage followed, and then we would cross over into Agroprom, and find a hide for the night. We would stay hidden for the next day, emerging at night to plant the explosives and extract before Duty even knew we were there. If we were discovered, we knew there was barely anywhere to go. Agroprom had a neutral Stalker camp, but who says they wouldn't hand us over when Duty starts offering rewards for our heads? The Swamps were a no-go, nothing was there except well, swamps. Yantar was also off of the list, the eggheads wouldn’t even let us in if Duty wants us dead. We all knew the op would not go according to plan. However, too much was at stake for Freedom. Krylov told the squad that the mission was “An offer you cant refuse, because that would be treason.”.

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  09:30:25  11 August 2011
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The Ghost
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On forum: 04/08/2011
Messages: 50
This is a confidential document recovered from a trash can in Uncle Yar's hangar.

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  23:30:51  11 August 2011
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The Ghost
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On forum: 04/08/2011
 

Message edited by:
The Ghost
08/11/2011 23:31:11
Messages: 50
Part 3: Kit

Our only consolation was that we would all be issued new, top-of-the-line kit. Freedom had recently disposed of the Dark Valley`s Merc infestation. Some unknown STALKER with a huge scar on his face had helped us clean out the Mercs, and then he stashed all of the Mercs weapons in an unknown place, selling them to Ashot and making a pretty penny off of the deal. Most of the kit was in top condition. We could ditch the corroded LR300s and SA80s in favor of M16A2s, M249s, and even a few SA80-A2s. I traded Ashot my old SA80, and its UGL unit for one of the M16s. He even threw in a M203 grenade launcher, introducing the weapon to me in his squeaky voice. “Emm Seexteen Ay Too. Emmm Too Ohh Tree Greeenade Laaauncher.”. Most of the squad chose also to trade their weapons for the Merc kit. Anatoli chose one of the M249 SAWs, trading in his RPK. Vanya grabbed a new SA-80A2. Dimitriy chose one of the M16A2s. He had to pay Ashot 6000 rubles to make the trade, however, because his LR300 was in a shit state and it wasn’t exactly a fair trade. Fyodor kept his AK47. Aleksandr took one of the M16s with a M203, like me. Krylov chose to keep his SVU. Mikhail took the last of the M16A2s. Andrei stuck with his PKM, however. Yar and Andrei had spent days in the hangar, modifying the weapon. It now fired about 200 RPM above that of a stock PKM, and it also had a precision rifled barrel that was less prone to warping from heat.

Never mind that we were inexperienced with the weapons. Most of Freedom’s kit was western in origin, albeit knock-offs like the LR300. We took them down to the firing range at the southern farmstead with tins of 5.56 and M203 grenades. Weapons are just a tool. As long as they go bang when you squeeze the trigger and hit what you’re aiming at, they’ll do. Aleksandr is just as good with his new M203 as he was with his GP30. Most of the squad got the hang of their weapons pretty quickly, and the Mercs even died with cleaning kits in their weapons! One impressive thing was Anatoli's new M249. That thing could put down a wall of solid lead. Duty was about to tear itself a new arsehole with all the pants-soiling its soldiers would do when they faced his SAW.
We also practiced with our new Browning Hi-Power pistols, also courtesy of the Mercs. The Hi-Power was a huge step up from the dirty Makarov pistols that had been issued.

We shunned the new Guardian of Freedom suits that we were issued and traded them in for the Wind of Freedom suit. The Guardian of Freedom was a piece of crap. Sure, it protected you well, but the design needed some revisions because it weighed enough to kill you as soon as you put it on. Freedom tactics focused on guerrilla warfare, and you couldn’t fight well if you had to lug around 20 kilos of straps and pouches. Plus, the Wind of Freedom had multitudes of modifications available, courtesy of Uncle Yar. The lighter weight meant we could place ceramic plates under the soft kevlar armor around the chest and back. It restricted your movement , but it was still not as bad as the Guardian of Freedom. Above the armor went something truly special. The mercenaries wore top of the line Western gear, and now we got to wear it. Vests labeled “MOLLE II FLC” were issued to us by Ashot. They were really an improvement over the standard load bearing equipment that came with the Wind of Freedom. We tore mag pouches off of spare FLC vests and put them on ours. Yar managed to repair some sets of night vision for us to use. They were simple Russian-made first generation NV gear. Turned everything to green, but a lot more subtle than a headlamp. Under our armor went standard Freedom woodland tiger-stripe BDUs.

Onto our vests went at least 10 magazines of ammo for your weapon, at least 2 F1 grenades, along with pistol magazines. Aleksandr and I also carried around 8 M203 grenades on the vests as well. Andrei Gunman carried three huge box magazines filled with 7.62PP on his vest. Anatoli carried 4 plastic drums of ammunition for his SAW.

Into our backpacks went food, ammo, water, and extra kit that we couldn’t carry on our vests. On the bottom of the pack went canned food, mostly expired Army rations. I grimaced at the cans when Ashot handed them to me. “Fried dates in a light sauce.” “Chicken and Beef Stew.” “Eggs with Cheese and Bacon”. All of this sounded good in civilian terms, but in terms of rations they could have been just packing the cans with animal dung. We wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Tabasco sauce helped with that. But we had no Tabasco. At best, we had some homegrown peppers from Ganja, ground down and poured into canteens with water to make makeshift hot sauce. On top of the food went canteens of water. We already carried two of them on our belt kits, but you could never have enough. On top of the water went extra ammunition. We all carried about 400 extra rounds for our weapons, and the MG gunners carted extra belts and barrels. Every man carried at least half a belt of MG ammo with him. When you are in heavy contact, nothing tells Duty to go to hell like a heavy MG. Aleksandr and I carried extra M203 grenades. Batteries for our night vision also went with the ammo. Finally, on top of that went medical supplies and explosives for blowing the landline. Every man carried a few field dressings and syrettes of morphine on his vest, but each man would carry two medical kits as well. All in all, the kit each man carried totaled up at 80 kilos. We jumped up and down with our kit on, to ensure that nothing rattled or jingled.

We left in the late evening. All of us went over the plan one last time, and then we hoisted our backpacks onto our backs, and walked out the front gate. Inside, The Specials were singing about some guy named Rudy who was about to receive a message. Leaving the safety of camp behind, we walked on toward the Garbage. Lord knows what the mission will bring. I hope that we all make it back in one piece, or at least in pieces big enough to send to our families to bury.

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  00:19:21  12 August 2011
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The Ghost
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On forum: 04/08/2011
Messages: 50
Part 4: Insertion

The Garbage was the junkyard of the Zone. Old Soviet equipment littered the ground, and radiation and anomalies made it hard to travel off of the path without stepping into a Springboard or Fruit Punch. Knowing this, the Bandits patrolled the Garbage, exacting tolls from anyone unlucky enough to run into them. Besides Duty, the Bandits were another enemy Freedom sought to destroy.

We crossed into the Garbage at 2200 hours. The Zone night was smooth and cool, and a breeze was blowing. In column formation, we moved through the woods behind the Flea Market. The whole area had a warm, friendly glow about it, and the sounds of smooth guitar music echoed throughout the Garbage. We couldn’t get spotted by the Loners there, because if we were, one word to Duty on their PDAs and they were swimming in rubles as a reward, and our mission would be aborted. We took a side route out through a valley between two huge piles of Soviet trash. Our route would take us through this valley, past the diggers, past the concentration camp, and into Agroprom via the southern pathways. We marched on.
The Zone was always a different place at night. We could hear firing in the distance, and sometimes you would see tracer fire light up the night. Most of the fire came from the south, we had heard that the Loners were dealing with a little Bandit problem down in the Cordon. Apart from the constant threat of mutants and anomalies, the Zone was a peaceful place at night. I just hoped we didn’t surprise a napping Bloodsucker or wake up a sleeping Bandit patrol. If our cover was blown, our job would be to harass the bandits any way we could before returning to base. Our patrol marched forward.

The cool night air gave me a odd, almost euphoric feeling as we snuck past the Digger camps. The breeze made my pack feel lighter and almost made me feel as if we weren’t in the Zone anymore. I felt like I could run a marathon with my pack and not even be breathing heavy at the finish line. Focus. Shit. I checked my weapon. Fire selector set to Safe. I pulled back the charging handle. A little brass round showed when I tilted the rifle to look in the breech. All ready to go. I looked down at the ground. My rudimentary night vision turned everything to green ooze. I stared down and made sure my next step wouldn’t land on a stick and wake the whole Garbage up.

Near the entrance to Agroprom, we came upon a dead Psuedogiant. The damn thing scared the shit out of me. Fyodor told me about how him and Yar would use their shovels to hollow out dead psuedogiants, and use the empty carcass as shelter.

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  18:29:17  16 September 2011
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Simbalime
Bacon
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On forum: 08/24/2009
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Very good, good job
  07:05:00  20 December 2011
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The Ghost
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On forum: 04/08/2011
Messages: 50
I tried to finish this a few months ago and ended up writing 4 pages about passing out from blood loss and being pursued by the demons of your Freedom buddies, and then being issued SP-FMJ (Soul Piercing FMJ) bullets by Uncle Yar to kill them... Never try writing anything at 3 AM because it will turn out to be complete shit. Spent the next day deleting everything and trying not to stab myself in the leg out of shame. I'll finish the story though.

Part 5: Good Morning Viet....Agroprom!

We made it past the Garbage before dawn and chose a LUP (Lay-up point) near the southern road to the Garbage. The LUP was where we would store our heavy gear, like our packs. Our belt kits carried what we couldn’t do without, like water and rations. We took what we needed to survive for a few days in the Zone, and left the rest at the LUP. We dug small trenches to bury the extra kit in. The area we chose was in a ditch covered by boulders and foliage, which made excellent cover. We would stay here during the day, and reconnoiter the objective at night. I gave Andrei and Aleksandr first watch. We would sleep in one hour intervals, with two men on duty to watch over us. I picked a spot near some rocks, moved one of them over to use a pillow, and passed out. The rock I slept on seemed mighty soft for a rock.

One hour later, I woke up to Aleksandr shaking my shoulder. “Wake up, boss. Its your turn. Now get up.” I got up, put my belt kit on, and moved to watch over the LUP. I saw Andrei try to wake up Pyotr, but when Pyotr raised his middle finger and go back to sleep, Andrei hoisted him up and shoved him away from his sleeping spot, pointed where Pyotr was to stand watch, and laid down. I settled into the routine of scanning the area with my binoculars, and watching my PDA for any signs of movement.

“Stand to! Stand to!”, I heard Pyotr whisper. I moved to where the rest of the team was sleeping and woke them up. “Stand to! Stand the fuck to!”. Soon, everyone was awake and scanning their sectors. Pyotr had spotted movement on his PDA map. Stalkers could conceal their exact position from being broadcast over the PDA, but you could still see their movements by checking the overhead map. Lord knows how our PDA was able to get live satellite feeds, but they sure came in handy. One loner was moving toward us. Directly toward us. We could either kill him, or hope that he would leave us alone. He kept walking toward our position. We couldn’t kill him. If anyone found out, we would be in deep shit. Loners would not trust Freedom anymore. If the loners chose a side in the faction war, it would likely be the side that did not kill their men. We decided to hide. The loner came into our vision when he was about 300m away. He kept walking towards us. I thought back to my short nap. The soft rock. I crawled back to where I slept. The rock wasn’t a rock, it was a backpack. The Loner had a stash here. He was coming to get it. There was no way we could exfiltrate before he saw us. I crawled back to the boulders surrounding the LUP. I slid next to Pyotr, who was watching the Loner through the scope of his SVU. “He has a stash here. I say we wait until he gets close, then pop out of cover and throw him the stash. With any luck, he wont open fire on us.” “Got it, boss.” I turned around and looked at Mikhail. “When I give the go, stand up and scare the shit out of this Loner. Shout “Drop your weapon!” as loud as you can” “Roger.” The Loner neared to 100 meters. We could hear the sounds of his boots on the grass. He was whistling to himself. He carried an AK74u, and his vest was stuffed with extra magazines. He neared to 80m. 70m. 40m. With each step that he took, my heart skipped a beat. We let him get to 15 meters from our boulders before we popped out. Nine men jumped from cover, weapons up and shouting “DROP THE WEAPON!” at the top of our lungs. He must have jumped ten feet in the air. Then he turned around and started to run. He fired his AK74u from behind his back as he ran, shouting “You can keep it! You can keep the backpack! Keep it! Leave me alone!”. Even though none of his rounds came close to us, we instinctively ducked behind cover. When he stopped firing, we stood back up. He was about 400m away now. Pyotr raised his rifle. 'I can take him. This range is easy. One to the heart, straight through his armor.” “Goddamnit, no!” I yelled. “We cant have every Loner in the effing Zone after our heads!” Pyotr lowered his rifle. Andrei slung his PKM and told me “Boss, this not good. We move now.”. He was right. We had to find a new place to stay. That loner was probably reaching a Duty outpost now, shouting his head off about the Freedom squad in Agroprom. They would be here any minute. We slung our packs and moved as fast as we could away from the area.
  07:05:48  20 December 2011
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The Ghost
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On forum: 04/08/2011
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Part 6: Choices

We found a temporary LUP a few klicks away in a cluster of trees. Goddamnit, I thought, the mission was blown and it was only 11 AM. The new LUP was a few klicks closer to our objective, but it was still around 20km away. We could still get there and blow the communications lines, and exfiltrate either through Yantar or the Swamps. Or, we could make a dash for the Garbage and hope that Duty had not sealed the exits. Dimitry checked the map on his PDA. Duty was way ahead of us. Sat feeds showed squads of Duty soldiers massing around our old LUP, and platoon-sized elements at each exit to the Garbage. We were trapped. Vanya Eagle-Owl spoke up. “Nikolai, I think that we still have a good shot at being able to accomplish our objective. The sat feeds show that Duty has only sealed the Garbage exits, and there are barely any men between us and the objective.” “I agree. We can still do it.”, said Anatoli. I thought about the decision while I tried to choke down “Ration, Military, Cheese And Beef Enchilada Meal”. You had to let the rations sit in the sun for a while. There was always a few centimeters of grease packed above the actual food, and the heat from the sun softened it up to the point where you could scrape most of it out. I got back to the task at hand. Twenty kilometers in broad daylight, carrying heavy packs. But then again, there seemed to be few Duty soldiers standing in our way. I checked my PDA. Duty patrols were advancing toward our new LUP, searching for us. We had to move. I made the call. “Everyone. Gather around. We are going to make one last push toward our objective. I believe that if we stay quiet and move fast, we can make it. In any case, Duty patrols are advancing toward us. We have to move, and move now.” “Well, lets get moving, then!” said Fyodor, lifting his pack on. I don’t know how someone that old can lift something that heavy, but he kept up just fine with the rest of the squad. I lifted my pack onto my back and started walking toward the objective.

We moved in a manner called “leapfrogging”, where half of the squad would move up a few hundred meters, and then stopping to cover the other half while they moved up behind them. Then, the second half would run past the first half, while the first half covered them. After a few hundred meters, the second half covered the first half as they caught up. It was slower than patrolling regularly, but it was much safer. I checked my PDA every so often. No Duty soldiers visible in our AO, but they were swarming around our previous LUP. It was the afternoon now, and we all cooked in the red sun of the Zone. We made sure to bring extra water, and we drank as much as we needed. Half full canteens were combined so that they would not slosh when moved. We walked on, and the mosquitoes were having a godly feast on our flesh. We had not brought bug repellant, so we tried to swat as many as we could. They must have sensed that poor Andrei was an easy target, so they swarmed around him. The big man couldn’t move his arms fast enough to swat them.

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  01:00:28  30 December 2011
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The Ghost
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On forum: 04/08/2011
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Part 7: Contact

Most of Agroprom was a combination of flat plains and low plateaus, but around the objective the land became a system of valleys. Valleys could be an understatement. Each valley was about 2 or 3 klicks wide. We were ten klicks away from our objective. We were becoming exhausted. Even Andrei, the pack mule, was getting tired. Fyodor looked like he was about to die. But for some reason, he was still able to keep up with us. Good man.

We had started to enter the first valley when I noticed something strange about the area. We got about halfway through the valley when I stopped the patrol. I pulled my PDA out of its pouch and checked the satellite feed. Duty was following us, but they were still a good seven or eight klicks back. I checked the route ahead of us. The end of the valley looked weird from the overhead images, like the ground was disturbed. Who knows. I put the PDA back in its pouch and grabbed my M16A2. I checked the chamber for dirt and signaled to the squad that we would be moving. We got about 100 meters further east before I heard Pyotr call out “Stand to, stand to!”. He stared through his scope, and everyone else scanned their sectors. I whispered to Pyotr “Talk to me man, whats happening out there?” Pyotr turned away from his scope and looked at me. “Sir, I think we just walked into an ambush.” He barely got the word ambush out from his lips before the crack of rifle fire reached our ears. I looked behind me and saw Fyodor fall backwards, his AK47 tumbling into the grass. The bullet tore out a chunk of his throat, and he laid on the ground, holding his neck and thrashing, his eyes as big as dinner plates. He died seconds later. “CONTACT!!” I screamed! We dropped our packs to the ground and dived into the grass. Pyotr whispered to me as he adjusted his rifle. “Sniper, 12 o clock. I got shitloads of movement around that area, too.” I stared forward. I couldn't see shit. Fuck it, they killed Fyodor. “Take him.”, I whispered. The rest of the men laid in the grass and waited. Safties were flicked off, chambers were checked. I checked the chamber on my M16 for what seemed like the thousandth time that day. Pyotr’s rifle cracked. “Got him.”, he whispered. Then the whole ridgeline exploded. Muzzleflashes were everywhere. We began to return fire. I heard Anatoli yell “Stand your ground!” as he began to fire his SAW. Calls of “Stand your ground!” went up and down the line as we began to return fire. We had to move. Incoming fire cracked over our heads. I stood up and ran. “We gotta go!”, I yelled. Andrei and Anatoli jumped up as well and followed me. You have to move forward and take the fight to them. Its the last thing they're expecting. You’re dead anyway, so anything you do is a bonus. I sprinted forward and dived the the ground. I put my sights over the ridgeline and began to fire my M16A2. We would leapfrog toward the enemy and kill every last one of them. Next to me, Andrei's PKM began to rumble. Bright tracers danced toward the ridgeline. Some of them ricocheted off of the ridge, flying up into the sky. On my other side, Anatoli's new SAW began to chatter. I could see parts of the ridge glowing red from tracer rounds that were still burning out. I stared through my M16 and kept pulling the trigger as Vanya, Dimitriy, and Aleksandr ran past me. “Move!”, I yelled to Andrei and Anatoli. We got up and sprinted forward. “Moving!” I yelled as we passed Vanya and his fireteam. I saw Andrei pull a fresh belt of ammo out of his pouches and load it into the PKM as he ran. I dropped the magazine out of my M16A2 and grabbed a new one from my web gear, slamming it in and hitting the bolt release with my palm. I tried to jam the empty mag into my drop pouch to reload later, but I think that I missed the pouch and dropped it in the grass. As I ran, I saw Mikhail and Pyotr running behind us, taking our old positions. Bullets zipped past us and thunked into the dirt at our feet. We ran past Vanya's fireteam and fell to the ground. Once again, I nested the M16 deep into my shoulder and began firing. We were still too far away for me to use my M203. I saw a few Duty soldiers on the ridge move a tarp out of the way, uncovering some sandbags and what looked like a PKM. I fired at the sandbags and hit one of the soldiers that moved the tarp, sending him onto his back. He got up, though, and I kept firing. He fell over once again, and then I just started pulling the trigger of my M16 as fast as I could. He stood up and raised his rifle, and then I saw his helmet fly off and he hit the dirt like a sack of lead. I tuned and saw the other soldier get behind the PKM. Just as Andrei and Anatoli stood up to advance. I saw it happen in slow motion. Andrei was the first to get hit, and I saw several rounds hit the big man. He fell to his knees, firing his PKM, when a second burst hit him in the chest. He fell over on his beloved PKM, dead. Andrei was hit, and he fell down into the grass. He was dead. I saw Vanya's fireteam run by, Vanya shouting “COMING THROUGH!” as he ran. Shells spit out of Vanya's SA80 as he fired it on full auto at the PKM. And then I saw Andrei get back up. I got up and ran with him, reloading my M16 as I ran. “Are you hit?!” I yelled. “Left arm!” he yelled back. When he dived, I dived next to him, and I put a field dressing on the wound as he fired his SAW. The SAW is a deafening weapon to hear up close. You don’t actually hear the individual shots from the weapon, because the rate of fire is so fast that it just chatters, like ripping aluminum foil. Spent casings and links flew from the ejection port, forming a small pile in the grass. We got up and ran past Andrei’s fireteam, with Pyotr and Mikhail taking up the slack in the rear. We were getting closer to the ridgeline. Friendly fire was a real issue when advancing like this. One extra second of firing your rifle and your buddy could be dead in front of you with two rounds in his back. I could see the Duty soldiers on the ridgeline, firing at us. Little bumps in the ridgeline, moving around, occasionally stopping to fire off a long burst at us. We broke up into smaller teams once we got within 400 meters. I ran forward with Aleksandr, Mikhail ran with Anatoli, and Vanya ran with Dimitriy. We split up and continued to leapfrog forward, putting as much fire downrange as we could. Incoming fire zipped over our heads. “Moving!”, I shouted as I got up to run. Aleksandr followed my lead, diving a few meters away and firing. I kept pulling the trigger on my M16, aiming wherever I thought the enemy was hiding. Before we got up to run, my M16 jammed. I yelled “JAM!” as I got up to run. I did the SPORTS technique as I ran forward. Slap the magazine, Pull the charging handle, Observe the chamber, Release the charging handle, Tap the forward assist, Slap the magazine. I fell to the ground again, and Aleksandr and I fired our M16s in unison. Mikhail and Anatoli yelled “Moving!” as they ran past me. It was time to move. I nodded to Aleksandr, and we got up to run. “Moving!” I yelled as I passed Mikhail and Anatoli. Once again, Aleksandr and I hit the dirt and laid down fire. Vanya and Dimitriy passed us, yelling “Coming through!” as they ran. We got up and ran past them. “MOVING!”. I changed mags, and watched Aleksandr do the same. We were getting closer to the ridgeline. I counted 4 muzzleflashes left on the ridgeline as I ran closer. I continued to fire, and watched through my sights as what seemed like the entire firepower of the team converged on one Duty soldier. The poor man was ripped apart by Anatoli's SAW, and the rest of the riflemen joined in, riddling him with lead. He fell to the ground, dead. We were 100 meters away from the ridge. I saw the Duty soldiers on the ridge begin to retreat. They stopped firing and fell back. We continued to fire on the ridge as we ran up. I fell to the ground near the top of the ridgeline near a boulder, and used it as cover. Anatoli dived next to me and set the bipod legs of his SAW up on the boulder. The SAW began to chatter, cutting down the retreating members of the Duty squad. Shell casings and links shot out of the SAW and made a tinkling noise as they hit the boulder. Only two of the retreating element kept running. I helped Anatoli feed rounds through his SAW. Then, Anatoli's SAW jammed. “Stoppage!” he yelled as he racked the bolt on his SAW. He cleared the jam and resumed firing. Next to me, Aleksandr fired his M203 at the two Dutyers that got away. I joined in, flipping up the leaf sight and aiming. I launched my first M203 round of the day, impacting left of the two men and making one of them stumble head over heels. He got up and started limping after his friend. Opening the 203, I pulled out the smoking shell, and inserted a new one from my web gear, closing the 203 and aiming. I fired again, but the range was short and it impacted behind the men. Anatolii finally found his zero with the SAW and dropped both of the men with a long 50 round burst. I ran ahead to the top of the hill with Mikhail behind me. One wounded Duty soldier stood up with his AK74 as I advanced. I fired twice and dropped him. Twenty feet away, another wounded man did the same. This time my rifle did not fire. All I heard was “click” as the striker slammed into the primer, failing to ignite it. “Damn.” I muttered as the wounded man fired his AN94. “Fuck.”, I thought. “I’m going to get some of this.” I felt what seemed like a sledgehammer hit me in the chest, and I fell over on my ass. I drew my Browning Hi-Power out of my leg holster and fired at the wounded man. My rounds were hitting the man in the chest, making his torso jerk with each round. The Duty soldier screamed in Russian as I aimed my Browning lower, hitting him in the legs. Mikhail stood over me and joined in , firing 3 round bursts from his M16, and the wounded man was tumbled out of sight. My Browning locked back empty. I dropped the empty mag out of my Browning and jammed a new one in, hitting the slide release with my thumb. Mikhail ran over to me and helped me up. Only one round had hit me, square in the chest. The new Western trauma plates that we took from the Mercs did their job well. I cleared the jam in my M16. The battle was over.

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