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The Zone: Life, and Death.

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  23:55:33  31 August 2008
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Psynexus
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 04/15/2007
 

Message edited by:
Psynexus
09/01/2008 1:46:05
Messages: 490
@BenClarke

I won't give away how far the story will go - but I will say this: I've been exposed to CS a lot lately and have seen a lot of the changes from SoC. I was already planning on having Virtue go to a "new" area that was not in SoC, but CS gave me a better idea of what area that would be.

I'll be needing some new characters in the upcoming parts so feel free to contribute! You can email me a backstory and anything else you'd like to include with your character at caleomega@gmail.com.

Until then, good hunting Stalker.
  23:58:43  31 August 2008
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HL2 Master
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 06/28/2008
Messages: 271
This story keeps getting better and better!!!
Oh and I have sent you an e-mail psynexus! Id love to be in this story!!!!

HL2
  00:48:54  2 September 2008
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Psynexus
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 04/15/2007
 

Message edited by:
Psynexus
09/02/2008 11:14:39
Messages: 490
The Zone: Life and Death - Part 6

Hey again! Day 6 is going to turn into a 3 parter because of the sheer amount of content and events taking place in one location! I'm trying to make the parts as short as possible, but I find that the best place to end each part is the same place I've already be ending them... I wouldn't want to leave you with a huge cliffhanger (just the small complimentary ones I've been giving out already )

I had a huge boost of inspiration for this one, so I hope it keeps you on your toes... there are a lot of revelations as well as intense action scenes that were a hell of a lot of fun to write.

So you know what to do - keep up the reviews, comment like mad, don't hesitate to submit anything for ideas, and above all - enjoy!

Update: If you're like me you hate reading long stories on a blinding white background. So, for your continued enjoyment, I'm going to post the fully proofread version, with a nice dark background and included bios for each character along with pictures and other useful info on my website - http://www.randombs.net.

Stay tuned for updates on that, and thanks again for you're support.
____________________________________

Day 6 (Continued (2))

[Notes]
Yuriy aka “Virtue” – Me, on my mission to start a new life for myself and support my wife outside the Zone

Boris aka “Nimbus” - Bandit turned neutral, he helped me get to the safety of a neutral Stalker outpost during an assault. He’s a good companion to have.

Gremlin – The Stalker in charge of the current mission. Dedicated to his goal, he expects everyone to get the job done. He and Phantom are best friends.

Phantom – The son of a Chernobyl worker presumed dead in the ’86 explosion. His mother and sister went missing after unearthing some government secrets about the events that transpired afterwards. He is on a mission of truth to uncover what really happened in the Zone.

Zombie – A quiet, mysterious Stalker. Often speaks in metaphors. He is a loyal follower; even while a bit creepy at times.

Jester (MIA) – His name says it all. He can’t stand uneasy silences and will say anything to cut the tension. Coupled with his natural ability to insult and speak without thinking he’s both a blessing and a curse. Last Seen in Yantar, after a horde of zombified Stalkers attacked the group waiting for Gremlin and Phantom to find the Ecologist bunker. He left to go find them and hasn’t returned.

Nikita (KIA) – The Stalker who’s taken notice in my skills and provides me jobs. After a grueling battle against zombies and Snorks at the entrance to a secret underground lab known as “X16”, debris from the top of the elevator shaft we used to gain entry crushed him after he threw his last grenade at a group of zombies coming to finish him off, causing collateral damage to the shaft. His history, family, and mission in the Zone may never be known.

Averiy aka “Jargon” – An Ex-Chernobyl worker who seems to have been in the Zone for a long time, he knows a lot about words, hence the nickname

Andriy aka “Mace” – The leader of a neutral Stalker outpost at the Garbage. A compassionate, dedicated leader

Oleksiy and Pavlo – Two brothers, dedicated to a leader and inseparable. Oleksiy seems to be more about brute force while Pavlo thinks through first.

[Audio enabled]
Gremlin: Watch those corners… it’s getting darker down here.
Phantom: One step ahead of you.
*A click sounds nearby followed by a whine/hum indicating Phantom has turned on his night vision*
Gremlin: The sooner we get to the bottom of this, the sooner we can get the hell out.
*The sound of machinery humming comes from deep below the Stalkers’ current location*
Jargon: Sounds like we’re right above where most of the noise is coming from.
Gremlin: Let’s just hope we can find an easy way down there, who knows what kind of collateral damage the underground part of the facility has suffered over the years.
Nimbus: I’m guessing a lot if it was enough to create those… monsters.
Phantom: Just watch your step.
*The stalkers proceed down the hallway, checking all rooms along the way for any hint of the source of the emission or unwelcomed guests*
Phantom: Wait.
*Phantom lets off a few controlled shots while something drops to the ground ahead*
Phantom: Straggler. Down.
Gremlin: Good eye, let’s hope we don’t find any more or alert any “hive” they may have around here again.
*The Stalkers move again, while Phantom lets off the occasional burst from his rifle, dropping an unseen target ahead*
Jargon: Wait, I saw something.
Gremlin: Where?
Jargon: Back there, in that room. Something shiny.
Gremlin: Let’s go check it out.
*The Stalkers backtrack a few rooms towards the light that Jargon reported*
Phantom: Where’s it coming from?
Nimbus: Over there, in the corner with that junk.
Zombie: The light of heaven shines within the hells.
Jargon: Well… I’ll be damned!
Gremlin: What the hell is it?
Jargon: It’s an artifact!
Virtue: Artifact?
Jargon: Yes! They started showing up sometime after the second explosion… supposed to be created from the anomalies located throughout the Zone.
Gremlin: That’s a hell of a find! I wonder what it’s capable of.
Jargon: I’m not sure what this one is… my scanner reads it as safe though.
Gremlin: Your find, your gold.
Jargon: This belongs in the hands of scientists. I’ll show it to Sakharov when we get back.
Nimbus: It’s… beautiful.
Jargon: Maybe it’s a sign that even in the darkest of places, there is still hope.
Gremlin: We’ll never know unless we get to the bottom of this. Let’s get out of here before someone notices we moved their toy.
*The trek continues, with the addition of one shiny artifact. Minutes go by without a word until finally, the hum of the machinery hits its apex*
Gremlin: This is it… the room has to be ahead.
Phantom: Cover me, I’ve got point.
*The Stalkers fan into the room setting up defensive positions, scanning every crack and hole*
Jargon: What… on… earth…
Gremlin: What… is that?
Phantom: Let me take a look.
*Phantom peers down his scope at the mysterious object ahead*
Phantom: It’s… it’s a man.
Gremlin: There’s someone in there?
Phantom: It looks like he’s in suspended animation… just floating in that glass container up there.
Gremlin: Is he the source of the emission?
Phantom: I can’t tell… there are a bunch of tubes running off of him that converge into a bunch on top. They all appear to go to that control booth up top.
Gremlin: We should head there and see what we can find.
*The Stalkers climb several flights of stairs surrounding the strange man, floating in the large glass container near the roof of the vast room*
Gremlin: The control booth is just ahead. There are a few lights on, but nothing substantial*
Jargon: Let’s just hope our floating friend can tell us something about what’s going on here.
*The Stalkers step inside the control booth, facing the man in suspended animation*
Nimbus: At least they were courteous enough to fog the glass below the belt.
Gremlin: Alright, look around for anything interesting. We need to gather as much information as we can while we’re here. I’ll start with this console. Virtue, Nimbus – have a look at those papers on the wall. Phantom, search those cabinets. Zombie - make sure we don’t get interrupted.
*The Stalkers get to work with their assigned tasks*
Gremlin *muttering*: “Purge”… “Filter”… “Communications”… “Shut down”…
Nimbus: Look here.
Virtue: Did you find something?
Nimbus: I think so. These are the blueprints for that device. On the back someone drew what looks like the concept behind the whole thing.
Virtue: You’re right. It looks like it’s based off of some long-range radar technology.
Jargon: You’re right… then that means it’s true!
Nimbus: What’s true?
Jargon: Over-the-horizon radar. The soviets were developing the technology here claiming it was an anti-ballistic missile defense system, but due to its other “properties” many people suspected it to be an attempt at mass-mind control.
Virtue: That would explain the zombified Stalkers.
Jargon: It would… but who is behind this and for what reason?
Gremlin: Uh… guys... did you touch something?
Nimbus: No. Why do you as…
*A voice comes over a speaker from an unknown source*
Unknown (1): Why hello little rats!
*The Stalkers look amongst themselves in confusion, startled*
Gremlin: Who the fuck said that?!
Unknown (1): It was me! I’m right here…
*voice turns into a hoarse whisper*
Unknown (1): …in your mind…
*Anticipation and fear fills the room as the crackling of static over the speaker dominates the minds of the Stalkers*
Jargon: Who are you?!
Unknown (1): I am the watcher of this place. I control all that you see here. Some call me God… but you can call me Dmytro.
Phantom: How did you know we were here?
Unknown (1) [Identified as Dmytro]: I see everything that goes on inside my playground!
Gremlin: What is this place?
Dmytro: Why… none other than the birthplace of many of the Zone’s children!
Gremlin: What is its purpose?
Dmytro: You might want to ask your companions that one. They figured it out already!
Jargon: We found some blueprints, and on the back the function of the device. It’s a mind-control device. The Soviets had been working on it for years up until ’86 under the cover of over-the-horizon radar.
Dmytro: Nailed it! Good work old man. Hey you look familiar… haven’t I seen you somewhere?
Jargon: I used to work at the plant up until the accident.
Dmytro: “Accident”. *laughs maniacally*
Jargon: It sounds like you’re the man I’ve been searching for all these years.
Dmytro: Everyone is searching for me in some form or another, because I am the root of all their problems here… and their salvation.
Jargon: What do you “control” exactly?
Dmytro: Everything… more or less. I make sure there’s plenty of work to be had for everyone, human and mutant alike.
Jargon: What work?
Dmytro: Look, you guys show up here to escape whatever problems kicked you in the ass in your former lives. So I make sure your stay is as “comfortable” as possible.
Gremlin: Are you saying you control the mutants here?
Dmytro: Oh no. Hell no. The children of the Zone are beyond control. They killed their parents long ago, there’s no one left to control them. But I do make sure they are “persuaded” to do certain things when I can - especially those who call this place home.
Jargon: Why?
Dmytro: Why? I don’t know… something to do?
Gremlin: Cut the bullshit and give us some real answers.
Dmytro: Temper, temper. What exactly do I get if I tell you? Nothing! Nothing but more questions and fingers pointed at me. What’s the motivation I ask? I can find none.
Jargon: How about justification for all the lives destroyed by the Zone?
Dmytro: Hey, I had nothing to do with that. I just make sure the odds are fair for both sides. All the inhabitants of the Zone need something; I just make sure the ones who need it more get what they deserve.
Nimbus: So you play God?
Dmytro: No, just referee. I like God though… has a nice ring to it. One syllable, rolls off the tongue…
Jargon: Listen to me! We’re here to deactivate the source of the emission. The Stalkers who fell victim to your trap deserve to rest. You’re sick for letting them roam around the soulless abominations that they are.
Dmytro: You’re right. That’s the one ounce of control I have over this place. I should give up all that hard work to satisfy your request.
Jargon: You owe it to every single Stalker out there who could be shooting at their friends and family members because of you.
Dmytro: No… no I don’t think I do. You see… I don’t give two shits about you, and your band of low-class vagabond friends out and about looking for buried treasure… not when there’s a whole world out there ripe for the taking.
Gremlin: So that’s it? You would play with other people’s lives for your own sick amusement?
Dmytro: I would. But that’s only a perk that comes with a job, I have my employers.
Jargon: Who? Who do you work for?
Dmytro: They pay me well enough to keep my mouth shut.
Gremlin: Mark my words: we will find out everything you’ve done here, and anywhere else in the Zone, and when we find you, I’ll put a bullet in your head!
Dmytro *laughs sadistically*: No Stalker! That’s where you’re wrong. You’ll never reach me! No man can! But I’ll tell you what – you and your group of pathetic zealots can leave right now and forget you saw anything and I won’t tell the kids you’re visiting.
Gremlin: I’m afraid we can’t do that.
Jargon: I’d rather die than let you do any more damage here… and rest assured, if I make it out of here, I will find you and on that day, justice will be served.
*The hidden com system laughs hysterically*
Dmytro: No, no, no. You haven’t learned anything! You’ll never find me.
Gremlin: Maybe not, but we CAN make sure you do no more damage here…
*Gremlin hits the shutdown button on the control panel. A warning siren immediately courses through the facility*
Dmytro: No you fool! Turn that back on, don’t let Junior out!
*The man in the glass container in front of them stirs*
Nimbus: Guys…
*The man’s eyes burst open, revealing nothing but empty sockets. He lets out a roar that echoes through the com system*
Dmytro: Now you’ve done it…
Phantom: Get down!
*Phantom jumps on top of the control panel and pumps the container full of lead*
Phantom: Shit… bulletproof…
*The man locks his eye sockets on Phantom*
Phantom: Shoot around it! If we can weaken the glass…
*The air fills with a sharp hum. The Stalkers drop to the ground in pain*
Jargon: IT’S A CONTR…!
*The glass containers shatters into a million pieces as the man thrusts his hand toward Phantom, creating a psionic shockwave that sends him flying through the air*
Phantom: Fuuuuuuuuckkkk…!
*Phantom is hurled into a stack of empty boxes and crates in the back*
Jargon: Stay out of sight! Don’t look at its eyes!
Gremlin: Grenade!
*Gremlin peeks up over the control panel, aiming his attached grenade launcher at the man*
*The man catches a glimpse of Gremlin and sends out another psionic surge*
*Gremlin falls back to the floor, a look of confusion on his face*
Jargon: Gremlin! Are you ok?!
Gremlin: I… you… control…
Jargon: He’s in the Controller’s grasp! Virtue – grab his gun, I’ll distract the Controller.
Virtue: Ok… just tell me when!
Jargon: GO!
*Jargon runs out of the booth and dives behind a support beam outside of the booth. The Controller immediately swivels and sends a shockwave at Gremlin*
*Virtue grabs Gremlin’s gun, aims, and launches a grenade at the Controller*
*The Controller steps back to face the Stalkers, and is instead greeted with a grenade in the face. A Deafening roar and high-pitched whine fill the Stalkers heads*
Nimbus: AHH! MAKE IT STOP!
*The Stalkers fall to the ground in pain, unable to silence the voices in their heads*
*The facility begins to shake as pieces of the device holding the Controller break off and fall to the unseen floor beneath*
Dmytro: Dammit! All that hard work! You’ll pay for that… with your blood! When I get that fixed you’ll…
*A shot echoes in the room, silencing the voice*
Phantom: I found the box.
Gremlin: We should leave, now!
Phantom: Roger that!
*The facility continues to shake as the main supports for the device in the center of the room break apart and fall to the floor*
Jargon: This way! I saw another room back here!
Gremlin: Come on!
*Jargon leads the group to a room off of the central area*
Gremlin: Do you know where this goes?
Jargon: No. Maybe nowhere, but it’s not back there.
Gremlin: Good enough for me.
Zombie: The hunters leave the den.
Gremlin: Wha… oh shit. We’ve got company! More zombies… it looks like hundreds of them!
Phantom: We need to find an exit!
Gremlin: There should be a back door somewhere around here.
Nimbus: Over here… this looks like it could be one.
Gremlin: Good call, let’s go.
*The Stalkers run ahead into the room, shutting the door behind them*
Gremlin: This door is locked… try the others!
Virtue: This one won’t budge.
Nimbus: Stuck here.
Zombie: Immovable.
Jargon: I think this one’s open.
Gremlin: Alright, let’s try that one.
Jargon: Dammit… there must be a strong draft or something, every time I open it, it closes again…
*The floor beneath the Stalkers gives way*
Gremlin: SHIT! Grab a hold of something!
*The Stalkers fall to the floor beneath them*
Gremlin: Everyone ok? Come on! There’s some stairs...
*The floor buckles under the pressure*
Gremlin: EVERYONE HANG ON!
*The floors continue to collapse under the added weight, scattering the group between floors*
Gremlin: VIRTUE! PHANTOM! HANG ON…
… AS53F6w%#agG#Ag%dGAg^rAGa$Gfda$gSAFD@gSF$Dgsgsfg

[Application error]
[Critical error… rebooting in 60 seconds]
[POST Check]
[Cannot find boot.ini]
[Resetting to factory defaults]
[Continuing with startup]
[Loading startup items]
[Logging in]
[Logged in as Virtue]
[Resuming last application…]

[Audio enabled]
Phantom: Virtue… *grunt* Virtue… wake up man.
Virtue: Wha… *cough* where are we?
Phantom: I think we landed on the bottom floor. The debris is blocking the floors above; we’re separated from the group.
Virtue: Are we stuck here?
Phantom: I’m not sure. We landed in one of the maintenance tunnels I think.
Virtue: What do we do now?
Phantom: I don’t know… we need to get back to the group, wherever they are…
Virtue: After you. *coughs*
Phantom: Alright… just give me a second to find my bag, my shit’s scattered everywhere now.
[3nd 4ud10]

[1735]
D4mm1t th15 th1ng 15 4ll fuck3d up! 1’ll h4v3 t0 h4v3 1t l00ked 4t l4t3r. F0r n0w, Ph4nt0m and 1 4r3 l05t 0n wh4t 4pp3r5 t0 b3 th3 b0tt0m fl00r 0f th15 G0d-f0rs4kk3n c0mpl3x. 1f th1ng5 w3r3 b4d up th3r3, wh0 kn0w5 wh4t c0uld b3 l1v1ng d0wn h3r3…

[4ud10 3n4bl3d]
Phantom: Alright, that’s the last of my inventory. Are you good to go?
Virtue: Yeah, my spinal column is mostly intact. I’m good.
Phantom: Good to hear. It looks like to back of this service tunnel is still accessible, let’s head that way. We should run into a staircase or something that leads back up.
Virtue: Alright, let’s do it.
*The Stalkers leave the debris elevator behind in search for a less painful way back up*
Phantom: I was right; this shaft connects with the floor above.
Virtue: Can you see what’s ahead of us?
Phantom: Vaguely. It looks like a bunch of old machinery for the most part.
Virtue: Hopefully the area past it leads back up.
Phantom: Yeah hope…
*Phantom stops mid-sentence*
Virtue: What is it?
Phantom: Look.
*Virtue looks in the direction indicated, and gasps*
Virtue: Jester?!
Phantom: What happened to you man?!
Jester *in broken speech*: I send… word… from my maaaaaster.
Phantom *whispers*: Look. His eyes are rolled back in his head. His brain got scorched.
Virtue: What’s the word?
Jester *forming a crooked smile*: Diiiiiiiieeeee…
*Jester opens fire*
Phantom: Take cover!
*The Stalkers dive out of the line of fire. Then, Phantom leans out of cover, shooting Jester in the torso. Jester drops to the floor, flopping like a fish out of water*
Phantom: Jester! God dammit… I told you not to go wandering off… now look what it’s done to you.
Jester: You… will neeeeveeer… make it out aliiiiiiveee… I control… the children here. Playtime is nooooooowwww…
*Jester grabs his weapon out from under him and fires at the Stalkers*
Phantom: That motherfu…
*One of the stray bullets finds its way to Phantom’s upper body. He drops to the floor, rolling behind a machine*
Jester: I… AM… GOD…
*POP*
*Virtue pulls out the Makharov he got from his first day in the Zone, and uses it to end Jester’s empty existence. Jester moans a few times, then lets out a final sign and dies*
Virtue: Phantom! Are you ok?
Phantom *coughs*: I think so… first the floor falls out from under us… and now this. Just another day in the office.
Virtue: Well, at least your sense of humor was not damaged. It looks like that shot missed most of your muscles but I’m no expert. Let me patch you up.
Phantom: Thanks man. I can’t believe it… you killed him.
Virtue: I had to, he was shooting at us.
Phantom: I know. I mean I can’t believe they got him… fried his brain. I know we were doing him a service but that had to be a tough thing to do.
Virtue: I’ve been faced with the same decision before… it wasn’t easier doing it a second time, but it had to be done.
Phantom: I’m a sniper; I shoot people from range. I’ve never had to look someone in the eye while I killed them, I don’t think I could do it. I guess it’s easier for me to end someone’s life without them knowing what hit them.
Virtue: I don’t intend to make a habit out of it.
Phantom: I hope not. Otherwise you’re no better off than one of them.
Virtue: One of “them”. Did you hear what Jester said?
Phantom: You mean the “I am God” part?
Virtue: Yeah.
Phantom: Didn’t that guy… Dmytro, say that? You think he was putting words in Jester’s mouth?
Virtue: He said he controls all the zombified Stalkers and he seems bent on killing us now. I have no doubt in my mind.
Phantom: That sick bastard… for all we know the real Jester was still inside there, trying to get out. If I ever find that guy I will tear him apart piece by piece and feed him to the dogs!
Virtue: First things first, we need to get back up top; our friends could be in trouble.
Phantom: Right. Let’s keep moving. You did a good job of dressing the wound.
*The Stalkers leave the room, making it Jester’s eternal tomb. As they continue up the passage, all other sounds die around them*
Virtue *whispering*: Man… it got really quiet.
Phantom: Too quiet… something’s not right.
*Phantom cocks his rifle, then carefully steps into the room above*
Phantom *gulps*: You may want to hold your breath.
*The smell of death and decay immediately hits their nostrils. The room ahead is filled with the twisted and contorted bodies of many ex-workers of the compound.*
Virtue: Oh my God… what happened to them?
Phantom: These must be the ones who… didn’t make it.
*Suddenly, the Stalker’s Geiger counters rise rapidly*
Phantom: Shit! Run back!
*The Stalkers back down the stairs around the corner as their Geiger counters return to normal*
Phantom: Some of them are still… alive… but dead.
Virtue: Undead?
Phantom: Yeah… they were stirring up dust on the floor… it must be heavily contaminated.
*The Stalkers peek around the corner back into the room. Some of the ex-workers turned zombies are twitching on the floor, most on either side of the room*
Virtue: It looks like they’re eating something…
Phantom: Yeah… what is that?
*The Stalkers watch as one of the closer zombies reaches into a rusty tub filled with a glowing material*
Phantom: My Geiger counter just shot up again… whatever that stuff is it’s contaminated.
Virtue: Look in the corner… there’s some boxes marked “X16”.
*The Stalkers step into the room, hugging the walls to prevent detection*
Phantom: My Geiger counter is reading high levels of radiation inside… it’s the same stuff.
Virtue: Whatever this stuff is, it must have come from Dmytro. Those things look like they love it.
Phantom: I think they’re distracted… let’s try to sneak past them.
*The Stalkers step out of the corner and back to the top of the stairs*
Phantom: Use signals only, don’t say a word until we’re through. Stay on my right.
Virtue: Got it.
*Phantom moves slowly into the room, Virtue directly to his right. Their Geiger counters start to rise as they approach the center of the room, barely within acceptable levels. Phantom taps Virtue on the shoulder, pointing at the readings he’s getting; any more and they could suffer radiation sickness. Their Geiger counters to click as they walk between the stirring zombies, still distracted with the contaminated material, which they ingest like cereal.*
*Suddenly, a pipe from one of the old machines loosens from its base, and clatters to the floor. The zombies lazily look up from their meal and scanning the room, see their unexpected observers*
Phantom *whispering*: Shit…
*The zombie closest to them yells and throws a glob of his dinner at them. The blog impacts the machine to their left causing their Geiger counters to shoot into dangerous levels. The other zombies take notice and start to moan*
Phantom: RUN!
*The Stalkers break for the other side of the room while the other zombies begin to repeat the actions of the first one*
Phantom: Don’t let that shit hit you, whatever you do!
*The globs of contaminated material continue to pelt the machinery about them, causing hissing and burning sounds as it slowly dissolves the rusty metal*
Phantom: Almost there… keep going!
*The sound of impact comes from nearby and Virtue falls to the ground*
Phantom: Virtue! Shit… come on!
Virtue: It’s eating through my suit!
*The zombies moan victoriously as globs pelt the immediate area around the fallen Stalker*
Phantom: Come on! Take my hand – we’re almost there!
*The Stalkers leap into the unknown darkness of the stairwell outside the room, Phantom slamming what’s left of the door behind them. Several globs impact the door, wearing down the metal and oozing down the holes*
Virtue: Get it off! Get it off!
Phantom: Hang on! I’ll use one of my bandages to wipe off the bulk!
*Phantom takes an unwrapped Gauze strip from his backpack and uses it to wipe off as much of the material as possible. The material hisses and burns away the bulk of the Gauze strip.*
Virtue *chokes for air*: I think it stopped…. But my Geiger counter went ballistic when it hit my suit… I was trying to keep my head away from the fumes coming off of it.
Phantom: That was smart; the fumes look like they’re giving off radiation at 5 times the amount of that stuff by itself. The material is mostly neutralized now… I just wouldn’t touch that part of your suit with your bare hands.
Virtue: Thanks… I appreciate it.
Phantom: Don’t mention it. When we get out of here let Sakharov take a look at it, he’s good at neutralizing radioactive material… some sort of super scrubber he’s made or something.
Virtue: Well… *grunts as Phantom helps him up* it looks like we’re going the right way. Let’s get out of this hellhole.
Phantom: No protests here.
[End audio]

{Excerpt from the PDA of Nimbus}

[Audio enabled]
Nimbus: Hello!? Is anyone up there?! ANYBODY!?
*A moan comes from the other side of the room*
Nimbus: Say something or I’ll blow your fucking head off!
Zombie: Do not shoot.
Nimbus: Zombie! Jesus man… you scared the shit out of me. We were both knocked unconscious; I don’t know where the others are.
Zombie: We are trapped on the third layer of hell.
Nimbus: Three floors down?
Zombie: Indubitably. *Zombie motions over to a dark sign on the wall that reads “Level 03”
Nimbus: Do you see everything around us?
Zombie: My eyes pierce the darkness, revealing the truth behind the unseen.
Nimbus: Can you find us a way out?
Zombie: Yes.
Nimbus: Alright… I’ll watch our backs if you don’t mind… lead on.
*Nimbus and Zombie pick themselves up, and continue into the room adjacent to theirs. The halls are dark and silent, seemingly barren of all life or anything of interest*
Nimbus: Man… this floor looks picked clean. No abandoned offices, old machinery or anything… just concrete wall.
*Zombie says nothing and resumes his usual “scanning” mode. The Stalkers continue down the hall in search of an exit, when finally something catches Zombie’s eye*
Zombie: The light shines and the truth is revealed.
Nimbus: Wha… oh. What have we here… it looks like somebody left that there recently.
*The room at the end of the hallway emits a single light. A small glow comes from the solitary object in the room*
Nimbus: It’s a laptop… and still on too. How can that be? The battery life can’t be more than a few hours. Let’s go have a look.
Zombie: See the light and discover the truth.
*Nimbus flips up the screen on the laptop, immediately checking the remaining battery life*
Nimbus: What the… that can’t be.
*Zombie looks inquisitively*
Nimbus: It’s just… the battery hasn’t been drained at all. But there’s something else… the time remaining shows as infinity.
Zombie: The truth surfaces when it needs to, despite impossible odds.
Nimbus: Well, let’s see what truth we can discover. I’m going to use my PDA to download whatever I can.
[End audio]

[Uplink Status: Complete]
[Downloading contents of C:/X16/Project Woodpecker]
[Download complete]
[Receiving audio]
[Resuming last application]

[Audio enabled]
*The sound of a sharp whisper pierces the silence*
Nimbus: Did you hear that?
*Zombie freezes in place, then swivels around, checking the room*
Nimbus: Maybe it was noth…
*The whisper continues, but is impossible to make out*
Nimbus *whispers*: Who is that?
Zombie: The whispers of the damned.
Nimbus *whispers*: What? What does that mea…?
*The whisper becomes louder until suddenly it seems as though the person making it is standing next to them*
Nimbus *whispers*: Zombie… what the fuck is goi…
Unknown (1) *whispering*: LEEAAAVEEEE… NOOOOOWWWW!
*The Stalkers immediately turn in place, looking for the person obviously standing in the room with them, but find nothing*
Nimbus: I don’t like this…
*Zombies eyes get wide as we looks behind Nimbus*
Nimbus: What’s behind me…?
*Nimbus slowly turns around to find nobody… but the laptop sitting in the desk is now hovering in midair*
Zombie: Do… not… move…
Nimbus: I… I… I…
*The screen flips open and hundreds of image appear showing scenes of the gruesome death and mutation of the ex-workers of the compound*
Zombie: The devil mocks us.
*The images continue to pour onto the screen, becoming more and more gruesome until suddenly the screen freezes on the image of something Zombie seems to recognize*
Zombie: I know you…
*All activity in the room ceases as the image on the laptop continues to stare at the Stalkers. The static from the speakers increases in amplitude, cutting the silence until a deep, inhuman laugh emanates from them*
*The Stalkers are frozen in place by fear, unsure of what’s happening or what to do. Then the laughter turns into a mixed growl/scream and the laptop is hurled at the Stalkers*
Nimbus: HOLY SHIT!
Zombie: We need to leave. Now!
*The Stalkers run from the room like bats out of hell and are greeted with the missing contents of the rooms, stacked neatly on both sides of the hall they came from*
Nimbus: That wasn’t there before! What the hell…
*The various chairs, desks, and common office tools slowly begin moving towards them, making a sickening grinding sound on the floor*
Nimbus: AHH! WHAT’S GOING ON!? IT HURTS…
*Zombie fights the urge to cover his ears and instead begins firing at the more unstable-looking furniture, carving a hole in the hallway*
*The furniture continues to grind towards them as pieces begin to hurl themselves at them like the laptop*
Nimbus: Zombie! Look out!
*Chairs, garbage cans, and a hail of smaller utensils slam into Zombie, who continues to fire at the possessed items*
Nimbus: The other side is closing in! I’ll help you!
*The barrage continues with many of the smaller items bouncing off the Stalkers and forming a flowing circle around them. Nimbus joins in the fight and begins gunning down the furniture like a pack of dogs*
Zombie: The light! The light!
*A hole begins to form amongst the broken pieces, which continue to get smaller in the path of the bullets*
Nimbus: We gotta get the fuck out of here!
*Nimbus fires through the hole forming as a metal desk near him lurches forward and clips his feet, sending him in a spiraling flip to the ground behind it*
Nimbus: I can’t… I can’t breathe…
*Zombie leaps over the desk, kicking it over and hiding behind it. The desk advances quickly in the other direction, backtracking to the Stalkers position*
Nimbus *gasps for air*: It’s co… it’s coming back!
*The desk grinds along the floor, picking up the Stalkers in its path*
Nimbus: It’s going to crush us between the door!
Zombie: Have faith.
*The Stalkers continue to slide with the desk, then slam into the door, the legs of the desk lodge in the door frame leaving the Stalkers mostly unarmed while the door suffers a large bulge*
Nimbus: I think that broke the latch! We can kick it in…
Zombie: DOWN!
*The hail of utensils flies at Nimbus’ head, hitting the door above him like a hundred tiny bullets*
Nimbus: *whew*…
Zombie: GO! NOW!
*Zombie kicks the door in and dives into the stairwell beyond, Nimbus following in his wake like a paper caught in a breeze*
*The door rips off its hinge as the rest of the furniture in the hall slams into the doorway, causing a loud bang that echoes through the stairwell. The furniture flies over the rail and topples into the darkness below*
Nimbus: We made it… I can’t believe…
*Above the sound of the furniture cascading down the stairwell the sound of electric static fills the hallway above and the same growl/scream they heard before echoes throughout the floor. The remaining furniture becomes lodged in the doorway, trapping the unknown assailant behind it*
Zombie: Our foe is subdued, we must leave.
*Angered growling an a sharp staticy hum continue to protrude from the room, then die down as the Stalkers climb the stairs, out of the creature’s range*
Nimbus: What was that thing? Was it just one, or several? How did it make those things float…?
*Zombie unzips a side pouch on his backpack which he used to store a pad and assorted pens and pencils inside. He pulls out a picture that looks recently finished*
Nimbus: What is it?
Zombie: Poltergeist.
Nimbus: Like a ghost?
Zombie: A malicious spirit, twisted by the Zone.
Nimbus: Why couldn’t we see it?
Zombie: The spirit only reveals itself to those who need to see it.
Nimbus: I hope I never see one… seeing the effects of its presence are enough for me…
Zombie: Level 01. Our fate awaits.
Nimbus: I hope the others made it back…
[End audio]
  09:18:46  2 September 2008
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HL2 Master
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 06/28/2008
Messages: 271
Hope they make it out of there alright .

I thought the bit with the PDA being broken was really cool, that Dmytro guy is an asshole, and the possessed laptop and furniture was just creepy.

Looks like they will be need in good ol' Reaper after all.

Another awesome installment man, it keeps getting better and better.


HL2 Master
  07:17:08  3 September 2008
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odyseus
(Senior)
 
On forum: 03/04/2008
Messages: 50
lol whenever i read about the poltergeist i always remember me first playing the lab x16 level in the basement getting things thrown at me, until i finally ran out of bandages to heal from the hits, and out of ammo from shooting at all the flying objects. When i finally got so pissed off i started chasing a floating light with my knife, i finally got to it and hit it and BOOM a body falls out and im like WTF?!!
anyways
great story i feel like everything is going to work out fine whenever zombie is around, like he knows whats going to happen b4 it happens, maybe you should make him be wrong once or twice
  02:55:26  7 September 2008
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Psynexus
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 04/15/2007
Messages: 490
Update

Day 6 is coming along great and will posted soon.

As an added benefit, I've also uploaded the website I've been making to make the story more readable and allow ease of access as well as other benefits. You can find all of this at

http://www.randombs.net/thezone/

There will be a lot of updates in the coming days so make sure to check back constantly.

Again, the remainder of Day 6 will be up soon. I hope you enjoy it.
  04:37:53  7 September 2008
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Commissar
(Senior)
 
On forum: 07/06/2008
Messages: 107

---QUOTATION---
Update

Day 6 is coming along great and will posted soon.

As an added benefit, I've also uploaded the website I've been making to make the story more readable and allow ease of access as well as other benefits. You can find all of this at

http://www.randombs.net/thezone/

There will be a lot of updates in the coming days so make sure to check back constantly.

Again, the remainder of Day 6 will be up soon. I hope you enjoy it.
---END QUOTATION---



Woah, that is awesome!

Great work! Can't wait to see how Day 6 ends
  20:57:51  9 September 2008
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BenClarke
(Senior)
 
On forum: 12/30/2007
Messages: 69
Great work as always.

I can has more plz? :3
  21:43:29  15 September 2008
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Psynexus
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 04/15/2007
 

Message edited by:
Psynexus
09/15/2008 21:44:08
Messages: 490
The Zone: Life, and Death - Day 6 (Entry 3)

Apparently the forums were down for a few days, at least on my end so sorry for the delay in posting this part.

This is the next and final entry for Day 6 and the end of the quest into X16.

The story in whole, as well as character biographies, an encyclopedia, and a soon-to-be-posted map of where the STALKERs currently are can be found at http://www.randombs.net/thezone

There is also an RSS feed you can subscribe to on the main page where you can follow story updates without having to check back on the forums or the page itself.

I hope you enjoy the latest entry ...

____________________________________________________

Day 6 (Entry 3)


{Excerpt from the audio log of Gremlin}


[Audio enabled]
Jargon *shouting*: Hang on young man!
Gremlin *shouting*: Don’t let go!
Jargon *shouting*: I won’t if you won’t!
Gremlin *shouting*: Uh… ok?!
Jargon: *shouting*: I’m just trying to lighten the mood, given our situation!
Gremlin *shouting*: … thoughtful!
*Jargon, who has been hanging by his feet, slowly uses his years of built-up muscle to haul himself and Gremlin out of the hole and back into the room they fell into after the floor collapsed above them*
Gremlin: *whew* Thanks… you’re pretty strong for an old man.
Jargon: Wisdom’s not the only thing that comes with age if you work for it.
Gremlin: Noted…
Jargon: Did anyone else fall on this level?
Gremlin: There was nothing below me besides a pool of something nasty.
Jargon: We’re separated then. I can hear the warning sirens above us still, and it looked like the annual zombie meeting was taking place.
Gremlin: There were a ton of them! How are we going to get out of here now?
Jargon: I’m not sure. There’s always a way out, you just have to know where to look. But we can’t leave without the others.
Gremlin: You’re right. Let’s try to make our way to them.
*Gremlin and Jargon step back from the hole that almost added them to the total body count of the facility and find the main stairwell they had attempted to take before the floor collapsed above them*
Gremlin: Alright… here’s the door leading back to where we fell.
Jargon: Watch yourself when you get up there.
Gremlin: As long as those zombies haven’t made it up here yet…
Jargon: No… not that. Remember how I told you the door kept shutting on me when I was trying to open it?
Gremlin: I think so. You said it was a draft didn’t you?
Jargon: I don’t think it was a draft anymore.
Gremlin: You don’t mean…
Jargon: I saw a blue flash above us as we were falling with the others… it looked like sparks of electricity flying in a pattern.
Gremlin: Dammit… that’s all we need.
Jargon: All it takes it one wrong step on that floor and we could end up further down next time, especially if someone or something else decided to complicate things.
*The Stalkers make it to the top of the stairwell and open the door back into the room they were last together in. A gaping hole is open in the ground before them, exposing several rooms and hallways below them, many of them with smaller holes inside where the debris continued to fall along with the rest of the group*
Gremlin *whistles*: That’s a long way to fall… it looks like it was a bumpy ride but they probably survived. Let’s hope they didn’t land in a mutant den or puddle of contaminated waste.
Jargon: We can’t get down there and the doors in this room were locked from the other side.
Gremlin: We’ll just have to hope they’re still alive and are finding their way back. In the meantime let’s head back to that control room and get as much data as we can.
*Gremlin and Jargon pass through a few rooms and back to the hallway connecting to the central chamber. The zombies are still below them, shuffling around aimlessly*
Gremlin: Jesus… there’s so many of them.
Jargon: Let’s just get in there and get back out before they take notice of us.
Gremlin: At least we know Dmytro doesn’t have direct control over them anymore.
Jargon: I’d rather not take my chances.
*Once inside the control room, the Stalkers continue the search for any additional information that might prove useful in explaining the purpose of the lab and the events following both Chernobyl incidents*
*Suddenly a loud speaker crackles somewhere in the chamber ahead of them*

Dmytro: Finding anything useful, my dear Stalkers?
Gremlin: Hey! Didn’t we shut you up already?
Dmytro: Yes… that was rather annoying. Do you know how long it took me to find the link to the old system?
Jargon: We have nothing more to say to you.
Dmytro: Fine, just listen then.
*The Stalkers stop for a moment*
Dmytro: Your friends are below you, getting well acquainted with the children in the nursery. If you want to see them alive, I’ll need something from you.
Jargon: What could we possibly have to offer?
Dmytro: Keep that information here, where it belongs, and I’ll give you some information that will help you survive the trip back to whatever rock you crawled out from under.
Jargon: Why does it matter, we have it all up here – in our heads.
Dmytro: Yes… that was inevitable. But if you simply leave the documents behind, I’ll let you and your friends live, and even give you a head start!
Jargon: I don’t think so. We’re blowing your operation wide open you sick bastard.
Dmytro: Oh no… you’re dead wrong. DEAD, wrong.
*The voice coming over the internal alarm system ceases to be Dmytro and is instead replaced by a robotic male voice.
[Com System]: Attention! All personnel evacuate the facility. Breach detected on Level Seven… Four… Three. Containment failure. Evacuate. Evacuate.
Gremlin: That’s our sign to move.
*The zombies below gawk at the sounds coming from the ceiling above them and further down the halls until one sees the Stalkers. He holds his arms out in front of him as if to grab them from where they stand above him and begins moving towards them, grunting at other zombies nearby.*
Jargon: We’ve been spotted.
*Other zombies begin to take notice, and shuffle slowly behind the leader*
[Com System]: Critical systems compromised. Opening emergency exits now. Warning: unidentified personnel detected in sections Alpha-One, Alpha-Three, Beta-Five, Beta-Six, Beta…
Gremlin: The exits are open, let’s go!
*The Stalkers run back to the hole they fell in, hearing gunfire and voices directly under them*
Phantom *distant*: Reloading!
Virtue *distant*: I got ‘em.
*pop* pop* pop* pop* pop*
Gremlin *shouting*: Hey! We’re up here, can you hear me!?
Phantom *distant*: Was that… hello?! Yes! We can hear you! We’re falling back to the stairwell on Level Three! We’ve got problems down here!
Gremlin *shouting*: Hang on! We’re on our…
Zombie *distant*: The Devil’s pawn seeks our destruction!
*BOOM* *BOOM*
Nimbus *distant*: Where is it?! I still can’t see it!
Zombie *distant*: Fire when the light turns to dark.
Nimbus *distant*: That stairwell is pitch-black!
Gremlin *shouts*: Zombie! Nimbus! Can you hear me?!
Zombie *distant*: The guests are gathered again.
Gremlin *shouts*: Phantom and Virtue aren’t far from you! Make your way to the stairwell on that side, all emergency exits are open!
Zombie *distant*: We will vacate.
Jargon: Those zombies below us are picking up pace… they’re only one level away now.
Gremlin: We need to hold them off while the others make their way back here. I saw some heavy-looking machines and some crates off to the side of the main chamber, let’s see if we can barricade the path up.
Jargon: Roger that.
*Gremlin and Jargon begin hurling anything in sight into the stairwell in the central chamber in an attempt to barricade the zombies on the lower levels*
Gremlin: This will only hold them for so long; we need to start looking for a way out… wait here.
Jargon: Make it quick! I think we’re making them angry…
*The roar of the zombies below them gets louder by the second*
*Gremlin returns to the room with the hole in it*
Gremlin: Ok… let’s see. Sector A there… Sector B, Sector G… *shouts* Guys! What sections are you in?
Zombie: *distant*: Beta Sector.
Phantom *distant*: Uh… Gamma! We could use some help here!
Gremlin: I’m on my way. Zombie – you’re near the top, just watch the floor when you get to the top.
*Gremlin steps around the hole and opens the door to Gamma Sector. The sound of gunfire gets louder as he descends the stairs*
Phantom *distant*: Watch your left!
Virtue *distant*: There’s more behind them! More than just zombies!
Phantom *distant*: Shit. Stay behind me!
*Gremlin finds the door to the room Phantom and Virtue are in*
Gremlin: I’m coming in guys! Fall back to the door, I’ll cover you!
*Gremlin kicks in the door. The sounds of gunfire, bullets ricocheting, and zombies moaning immediately fills the area*
Gremlin: Holy shit…
Phantom: I think we pissed off the nest!
Gremlin: I’ll say. Fall back! We need to get top-side ASAP. We had another encounter with the talking box.
Phantom: Virtue has a mild burn that needs some attention…
Gremlin: There’s no time! It’s a shit-storm upstairs too, we won’t last another minute in this place.
*The STALKERS fall back to the door, now hanging by a hinge, as Gremlin attempts to wedge it back into place*
Gremlin: The top is three levels up, Jargon’s up there covering our escape. Zombie and Nikita are…
*A growl comes from behind the door, interrupting Gremlin. A second later, the door bursts open, flying off the hinge and sending Gremlin flying to the opposite wall*
Phantom: Snork!
*Phantom and Virtue open fire while Gremlin struggles to get the door with the Snork attached off of him*
Gremlin: DAMMIT! I hate these things!
*The Snork claws at the door, sliding around the surface as Gremlin tries to kick it off of him*
Phantom: I can’t get a good shot!
Gremlin: Don’t bother – just go!
Phantom: I’m not leaving you here alone!
Gremlin: I left you – and if you don’t leave those zombies are going to kill us all. We’re wasting time – GO!
*Gremlin uses all of his strength to propel the door, and the Snork into the zombies in the opposing room, then looks up at Phantom – a look of dread on his face*
Gremlin: Good bye.
*Gremlin turns and runs – down the stairwell instead of up*
Phantom: Gremlin! What are you doing!?
*Gremlin sprints down the stairs, tripping several times on the way down and sliding instead. A few seconds later the reason for his flight is revealed – no less than 5 Bloodsuckers and several dozen Snorks immediately chase after him like a demented train*
[End audio]


{Logged in as Virtue}


[Audio enabled]
Phantom: Holy shhh… time to leave.
*Phantom and Virtue run up the stairwell, the sounds of gunfire and the screams of the Bloodsuckers and Snorks coming from below them, as well as the shuffles and moans of the zombies who have now filled the stairwell*
Phantom *muttering*: Dammit Gremlin… why did you do that… why…
Virtue: Here it is! Level 1!
Phantom: Just watch your step, from the sound of it the floor is still unstable… and that hole could get worse.
*Virtue opens the door to the top level, and the STALKERs step into the room with the gaping hole, next to the main chamber*
Nimbus: They made it!
Jargon: … and not a minute too late. The zombies are breaking through the barrier!
Phantom: We need to get out of here – now.
Jargon: Where’s Gremlin? He was supposed to find you.
Gremlin: He did… he won’t be coming with us.
*The STALKERs are silent, besides the gunfire coming from their weapons*
Jargon: Understood. Let’s move then.
*Pieces of metal and wood start to land around the STALKERs as the barrier is torn to shreds*
Jargon: Based off the blueprints we got, this way leads to a service room that contains a large pipe large enough for us to fit through. The pipe drains into Lake Yantar.
Phantom: Not my first choice for end location, but if it leads out of here I’ll take it.
*The zombies begin shuffling as quickly as they possibly can towards the group of STALKERs, throwing anything they can get their hands on to impede their progress, including their own body parts if necessary*
*Jargon shoots the lock on one of the doors on that level*
Jargon: This way.
*The STALKERs step through the door, into another series of rooms that look much like the ones they’ve been in, although void of any items or furniture, then close the door behind them*
Jargon: We need to follow the main hall, at the end there is a service ladder leading down to the utility room, the pipe is in there.
*The door behind them starts taking a barrage of debris and body parts*
Phantom: Don’t underestimate their strength, they’ll be through in seconds – let’s move!
*The STALKERS run through the hall, towards the end, the noise fading not-so-quietly behind them. A few moments later, they come to the end*
Jargon: I’ll go first.
*Jargon slides down the ladder, into the room below*
Jargon: I’m ok… come on down!
*The STALKERS take turns sliding down the ladder while Jargon reviews the blueprints in his backpack*
Jargon: This doesn’t make any sense… this ladder was supposed to go straight down, but we’re in another room that looks identical to the one we were in.
Phantom: That wall over there says “Level 02”.
Jargon: This area doesn’t show any levels besides the single utility room.
*Jargon glances back at the service ladder they dismounted trying to make sense of the situation, then stops cold*
Phantom: Wait… where’s the ladder we just came down?
Jargon: I… don’t know.
*Suddenly a shockwave comes down the ladder-less shaft the STALKERs came from, knocking the group over*
Virtue: What the hell was that?
Nimbus: I have a bad feeling about this…
Jargon: So do I… let’s move to the other end of the hallway.
*The STALKERs move to the other end of the hallway, finding empty rooms along the way, eerily empty of all previous contents*
Nimbus: I don’t like this at all…
*Jargon shines his headlamp at the dark end of the hallway, searching for a way out. His headlamp passes over stacks of furniture, neatly arrayed according the size and weight with the smallest and lightest objects in front*
Jargon: Shit… wrong turn…
*A loud roar fills the room, disorienting the STALKERs and sending them to the floor. The area fills with a static hum*
Nimbus: No… not again!
*Nimbus takes off running*
Phantom: What… the…
Zombie: The Devil’s jester is amongst us.
Jargon: Get back to the service shaft!
*The furniture immediately lurches forward all at once, the objects in front pelting the STALKERs like a side-ways hail*
Nimbus: Where do we go?! The ladder is gone!
Jargon: No it’s not – this is an illusion! Reach into the shaft, you’ll feel the rungs!
*A sickening screeching sound echoes through the room as the furniture grinds along the floor, the small objects in front hitting anyone nearby, following to the floor, the flying at them again*
Jargon: Phantom, Zombie! Shoot any of the larger breakable objects, I’ll cover you!
Phantom: Uh… did anyone else notice the fucking furniture is attacking us?!
*Jargon runs into the chaos of moving furniture, kicks over a desk, and balls up behind it. The rest of the furniture immediately starts pelting the desk, sounding like a metallic rain*
*Phantom and Zombie start shooting at anything breakable, ducking the occasional coffee machine or microwave that comes in their direction*
Nimbus: It’s here! Come on!
Virtue: Right behind you!
*Jargon peeks over the cover of the desk, the larger objects in back lurch forward again*
Jargon: Grenade!
*Jargon throws a grenade into the storm of furniture in front of him*
BOOM!
*The shockwave from the grenade disrupts the storm and sends the furniture in back flying back towards the end of the hallway*
Phantom: Ha ha! Take that you invisible freak!
Jargon: We’re not out of danger – Phantom, you go next…
*A deep rumble shakes the furniture in the room. Moments later, Phantom starts screaming*
Phantom: AHHHH! HELP ME!
*Phantom starts hovering off the floor, then is violently thrown to the ceiling, where he stays*
Phantom: What the fuck?! Kill it! KILL IT!
Jargon: Shit! We need to find it!
Zombie: I will seek the light.
*Phantom is dragged across the ceiling like a doll being played with by an invisible girl who has not been taught about gravity*
Phantom: AHHHH! Stop it!
*Phantom shoots at every light in the room in an attempt to either kill his attacker or make it more visible*
Jargon: Over in that corner!
*Zombie begins firing at a corner in the room that is distorting the light. A scream like a hundred voices mixed into one fills the STALKER’s perceptions. The distortion begins to phase out and is instead replaced with a floating creature, resembling a human torso with arms, but no legs.*
Zombie: Return to your master.
*Zombie puts a well-placed round directly into the creature’s forehead*
*A final screeching sound comes from the creature as the whispers and screams of a countless number of people echo throughout the room – the final moment of their lives before their deaths*
*Phantom falls to the ground along with the creature. A few moments later he picks himself up, stunned*
Phantom *breathing hard*: Someone wanna explain that to me?
Jargon: Another time perhaps, right now we have more pressing issues.
*The door with the zombies behind it is now standing wide open with a hoard of zombies standing inside the first room, captivated by the last whispers and screams from the Poltergeist*
Jargon: You two go, I’ll keep them distracted.
*As Phantom makes his way down the ladder, the zombies snap out of their trance and, when seeing the STALKERs in front of them, give a hungry growl and shuffle towards them*
Jargon: Grenade!
*Zombie opens fire while Phantom descends the ladder*
BOOM!
*The first line of zombies either falls to the ground or flies across the room in pieces*
Phantom: I’m down, come on!
*Zombie ceases fire, and begins sliding down the ladder*
Jargon: Come on… I’ll give you all the funerals you deserved years ago.
*Jargon continues firing, hitting the zombies in vital areas to keep them stumbling back into the line behind them, preventing advance*
Zombie: Advance when ready!
*Jargon reaches into his backpack and pulls out an old, makeshift napalm-c4 explosive*
Jargon: I knew this would come in handy one day. Rest in peace, my brothers.
*Jargon hurls the explosive into the midst of zombies and dives into the service shaft. A few seconds later a massive explosion shakes the facility above, sending a bloody shockwave into the shaft above him, causing him to slip off the ladder and bounce down the shaft to the bottom*
Phantom: Jargon?! What the hell was that? Are you ok?
*Jargon lands on the bottom of the shaft with a thud*
Phantom: Shit! Jargon! Talk to me!
Jargon: *cough* That’ll slow ‘em down.
Phantom: What did you do?
Jargon: I just introduced them to an old friend of mine. Now they’re where nature intended them to be.
Phantom: You must have blown that room to high hell! Come on, we need to get out of here; I hear secondary explosions up there.
Jargon: No. This is as far as I go. My work in the Zone is done. I may not have been able to save my former colleagues, but I did save other brothers and sisters.
Phantom: Don’t talk like that… there are plenty of other people in the Zone that still need saving.
Jargon: That’s for another STALKER. I made my decision up there, and now I’m paying the price for angering the Zone. Go on, there’s no room in this place for an old man. The Zone’s been counting down my days for 25 years.
Phantom: Dammit man… I’m not going to lose you.
Zombie: His life is unstable. His spirit is committed. He stays.
Phantom: *choking up a little* Fuck! You of all people! You know… I never got to tell you this Jargon… but you’ve been just like a father to me. The only father I’ve ever known isn’t the one I’ve been chasing after for the past few years… it’s you.
Jargon: I know. I’m sorry… son.
Phantom: Dammit! You were like a father to all of us! You can’t give up old man! YOU CAN’T!
Jargon: It’s too late for me. Don’t make it too late for them too. Get them out of here and leave me to the Zone.
*Tears begin to form in Phantom’s eyes*
Phantom: But… you… you can’t!
Zombie: The Zone watches over him now. We must leave.
*Zombie pulls Phantom away, turning towards the wall to hide the tear that has just escaped his own eye*
*Phantom, allowing himself to be dragged gently by Zombie stares after the old man fading behind him, tears streaming down his face*
Phantom: I’ll come back for you! I won’t ever stop looking for you! Mother and sister’s search will not have been in vain!
*Zombie, Nimbus, and Virtue proceed in silence, glancing silently amongst themselves, knowing of Phantom’s delusion that Jargon is the father he, his mother, and sister have been searching for for years and promised return to*
Zombie: Rest in peace, father.
Nimbus: May the Zone be good to you.
Virtue: Farewell, friend.
Phantom: Father… no father… I’ll find you…
*The STALKERs exit the room and enter the next, containing the utility room with the pipe in it. The facility above them continues to quake, while warning sirens fill the air*
Zombie: The light is near now.
Virtue: I’ll go first.
Nimbus: No, I’ll go. I’m tired of being protected by everyone. If I were to die, nothing would change. I’ve seen too many empty deaths today… never again.
Virtue: I understand… but just for the record, it would affect me if you died.
Nimbus: Thanks… I appreciate that. So… let’s go.
*Nimbus crawls into the pipe and slowly stands up inside, finding barely enough room to do so*
Nimbus: It looks safe.
Zombie: Proceed.
Virtue: Right behind you, buddy.
*Virtue enters the pipe following Nimbus, after which Zombie nudges Phantom inside and follows behind him*
Nimbus: So… where do we go when we get out?
Zombie: Return to Sakharov.
Nimbus: You know the way?
Zombie: I know all ways.
Nimbus: Ok… and once I give him the information from my PDA, what then?
Zombie: Mission complete.
Nimbus: Just like that huh? You know… I’ve only been on the “good” side for a day or two, and I’ve already seen so much death… I don’t know how you guys can deal with it so easily.
Zombie: The Zone decides who lives and died. There is no use disputing it.
*Phantom interjects*
Phantom: That’s bullshit! We’re the ones who decide who lives and who dies… just like Jargon and those zombies back there. He decided to kill that hoard up there, sacrificing himself along with it. That wasn’t the Zones doing – that was his! If the Zone had its way, we would all be dead, and men like him wouldn’t make the sacrifices they do for the sake of saving your sorry ass! You make me fucking sick!
How can you be so casual about someone sacrificing themselves for you and then just say, “well, that’s just the way it goes”?! Jargon didn’t believe that, and he’s been here since all this shit started and has been proving you wrong since day one! To hear you saying this after he sacrificed himself so you could go on living is a fucking insult! If you were really smart, you’d get your head out of your ass and actually give a fuck about the people dying because they had a cause, not because the Zone decided to kill them!
*Zombie remains silent for what seems an eternity. Finally, he breaks the silence with:*
Zombie: He was the father of the Zone. Perhaps the Zone will respect that.
Phantom: You’re hopeless. Fucking hopeless. I could shoot you in the head right now and you still wouldn’t believe that it was because of my own will, and not the Zone’s. Do me a favor and keep your worthless opinions to yourself.
*Zombie is silent. It almost appears that he is deeply hurt, but if so he hides it well*
Virtue: Look… we’re all still shaken up with everything. There will be a time to mourn our losses later… we’ve been through a lot today and we’re not out of it yet. I for one have seen enough pain and suffering to last a lifetime, and I’ve been in the Zone for less than a week.
I can’t pretend to understand the way everything works… maybe there is some force or reason behind the existence of the Zone that can dictate who lives or dies in some way. But I do know that we have a choice in that matter right now: we can get this data to Sakharov, and in turn, we can save thousands of lives, both past, present, and future. I’m not going to let anything stop that, no matter what the odds. I’m going to get this data to Sakharov, or die trying.
Phantom: At least someone understands.
Nimbus: I’m really sorry about your loss too. Even the Bandits knew about Jargon. We’ve had several opportunities to rob him, but we never really did. There’s just too much history behind him, the overwhelming sense of guilt was always too much for us. I guess you can say we looked up to him as a father too.
But I agree with Virtue, this information has to make it to Sakharov, or he would have died in vain.
Phantom: You’re right - both of you. We need to get this information out... people depend on it. I’m sorry for my outburst.
*Phantom glances over at Zombie who is more silent than usual, with a glazed-over look in his eyes*
Nimbus: Hey guys – are there supposed to be junctions in here?
Phantom: I don’t remember seeing any on the map; then again I didn’t get a detailed look at it. Just keep going straight, the main line leads into Lake Yantar.
Nimbus: Well… I can’t see it but the smell is getting worse.
Phantom: I wouldn’t recommend drinking any of the water to say the least. The lake is highly contaminated, so watch where you step ad stay on dry ground as much as you can.
*The STALKERs continue down the drain pipe in silence until Nimbus speaks up*
Nimbus: I just realized we haven’t eaten all day.
Phantom: Nope.
Nimbus: Well, whoever’s stomach is growling is doing a damn good job or reminding me of that fact.
Phantom: I’m not hungry.
Virtue: Not mine.
Zombie: …
*Nimbus stops walking*
Nimbus: Don’t tell me that growling noise isn’t your stomachs.
*The STALKERs stop and listen to the growling noise echoing through the pipe*
Nimbus: You sure it’s not you guys?
Phantom: No… that’s not us.
Nimbus: What is it?
Phantom: I don’t know, but I know what it could be. Snorks like dark damp places, and Lake Yantar is a breeding ground for them.
Nimbus: Could they be in these pipes?
Phantom: Possibly. Just stay sharp and quiet.
*The group treads carefully onwards, being as quiet as possible while their boots splash in the puddles inside the pipe. As they continue, a minor tremor starts to vibrate the pipe beneath them.*
Nimbus: You guys feel that?
Virtue: Yeah.
*The tremor increases in intensity, as do the cries of birds outside*
Virtue: What the hell’s going on out there?
*The rest of the group remains silent, a look of dread on their faces. Then, from behind them several roars echo through the pipes*
Phantom: Shit… Snorks behind us… run!
*The group splashes through the pipe, running towards the end as Snorks pour out of the junction in the pipe behind them*
Virtue: They’re going crazy back there.
Phantom: If it’s why I think it is, we need to get the hell out of here and find shelter.
*Some of the Snorks take notice of the STALKERs running towards the end of the pipe and give chase, jumping like frogs down the pipes, gaining quickly*
Phantom: They’re gaining – burn rubber!
*The ground continues to shake as the STALKERs break for the end of the pipe, the Snorks closing in behind them – some leaping like frogs, others crawling along the sides and top of the pipe towards them*
Nimbus: I see the end! Come on!
*Nimbus exits the pipe, seeing the first light in what seems like days*
Nimbus: It’s clear!
*The other three STALKERs pour out of the pipe while a group of Snorks lunges out behind them, one of them hitting Zombie square in the back and knocking him into the water*
Nimbus: Zombie’s down!
*Zombie picks himself out of the water, and unloads his rifle at the Snork that hit him, then turns it back into the pipe*
Phantom: Fire in the hole!
*Phantom rolls a grenade into the pipe, and then takes off in the opposite direction. The other STALKERs follow his lead while the grenade detonates*
BOOM!
Phantom: We need to make for the bunker!
Nimbus: Where is it from here?!
Phantom: It’s uh… uh…
*Before Phantom can think another explosion echoes through the area, but this one is 100 times larger. The STALKERs immediately hit the ground in fear as a deafening roar cuts out all other sounds*
Virtue *shouting*: What’s happening?
Phantom *shouting*: MY GOD…
*The STALKERs look up at the sky to see a huge flock of birds flying in every direction, apparently confused*
Nimbus *shouting*: No… it can’t be!
*The birds continue to fly chaotically until a massive shockwave erupts from the hills north of the area, tearing through the flock and continuing south in the blink of an eye. Seconds later the flock stops moving and begins to fall from the sky. The birds plummet to the ground, most impacting water making the illusion of rain hitting the lake.*
Virtue *shouting*: What’s that?! What’s causing that?!
Phantom *shouting*: IT’S A…!
*Phantom is cut off by a huge gust of wind and dust that rockets over the hill, sending plants and debris flying. The earthquake continues to increase in intensity as the sky flashes with a blinding white light. The STALKERs cover their eyes, afraid to move and unable to see.
Virtue: [Indistinguishable]
*Virtue attempts to speak or scream but is unable to due to the sheer intensity of the noise*
*The light in the sky slowly dims, but instead of being blue, the sky has turned blood red, filled with dust clouds and a noticeable large plume in the distance to the north, resembling a mushroom cloud. The sky around it flashes with lightening as the clouds roil upwards into the sky.*
*Phantom is the first to get up and attempts to shout something out, but is unheard. The Snorks, who are still coming out of the pipe, run around like the birds, jumping every which way. Some manage to locate the group of STALKERs and hobble towards them*
*Phantom attempts to speak again, but gives up and instead starts firing at the Snorks while running backwards. Zombie looks over at a hill in the distance and points in that direction, yelling something back. While running and shooting, Phantom makes one last attempt at communication by mouthing “RUN!”*
*Virtue and Nimbus, still huddled on the ground in fear, get the note, and start to take off. Nimbus grabs Virtues arm and points towards a region with plants and trees. Virtue, too overwhelmed to do anything but run, follows behind Nimbus, shooting at anything that gets too close to them. Zombie and Phantom continue off in their own directions, taking on a legion of Snorks apiece while they run for cover, firing behind them*
*The amplitude of the sound goes down a little to the point where voices are barely distinguishable*
Nimbus *shouting*: … need to find cover!
Virtue *shouting*: What is this?!
Nimbus *shouting* …out! … radiation… cover!
*The STALKERs make it to the over-grown plant area, but Nimbus keeps running. As they run, Virtue’s Geiger counter slowly begins to climb*
Virtue *shouting*: Radiation! It’s radioactive!
Nimbus *shouting* … running!
*The STALKERs continue to run, until about a minute later the sky breaks into a flowing-roar sound like a huge flamethrower. The earthquake shoots off the scale, disorienting the STALKERs and sending them to the ground. Nimbus gets back up and attempts to run but is constantly fighting to stay up. The plants around them turn dark red as if soaking up the red in the sky. Nimbus continues to stumble forward until finally he trips and vanishes*
Virtue *shouting*: NIMBUS!!!
*Virtue runs up to where Nimbus fell, and finds no sign of him – only a small underhang beneath him*
Virtue: What the hell… what the fuck is going on?! *shouts* NIMBUS!!!
*Virtue decides Nimbus might have scrambled into the underhang and attempts to make his way down*
*Suddenly, a massive wave of radiation sends the Geiger counter soaring*
Virtue: SHIT!
*Virtue trips on the top of the overhang attempting to shield himself from the radiation, and falls off the side. There is a loud whooshing sound accompanied by an electric discharge and a popping noise*
*All sounds abruptly cease as Virtue lands in a pile of leaves*
Nimbus: Whoa… good thing I moved!
Virtue: Ow… my head… what the hell happened?
Nimbus: Do you want the good news or the bad news?
Virtue: Whichever order works better.
Nimbus: Ok… well… we just escaped a blowout.
Virtue: A blowout?
Nimbus: Yeah… a secondary explosion from the NPP that happens every few days, spewing radiation and mutants, as well as killing anomalies and making new ones.
Virtue: That was massive! I’ve never been more afraid in all my life. I thought God almighty was coming out of the sky to kill the sinners of the world.
Nimbus: It’s another little unfortunate attribute about the Zone that you can’t avoid. Anyway, that was the good news.
Virtue: Really? How bad could the bad news possibly be then?
Nimbus: Well… we’re lost.
*Virtue takes a look around him*
Virtue: Holy… this isn’t where I landed.
Nimbus: Nor I. I wish I could tell you what happened… but I don’t know. All I know is that when I fell off that little cliff, I closed my eyes and the blowout stopped. When I opened my eyes I wasn’t where I had landed.
Virtue: You mean like… teleportation?
Nimbus: I don’t know… maybe it’s an illusion of some sort or we just fell further than we thought. But that doesn’t explain why the blowout just stopped…
Virtue: There’s a small hill over there, let’s see if we can make out our whereabouts.
*Virtue and Nimbus head over to a hill near where they fell, still shaken up from the whole experience and unable to accurately gauge their situation*
Nimbus: We should be able to make out Lake Yantar. If nothing else we might be able to see the fact…
*Nimbus stops and stares, jaw agape*
Virtue: I don’t think we’re in Yantar anymore…
Nimbus: Where the hell are we?
Virtue: I have… no idea…
Nimbus: Where do we go?
Virtue: I… don’t know…
[End audio]


[20:21]
Surveying the landscape, Nimbus and I find that nothing matches where we just were; in fact, this place looks nothing like we have ever seen. We are in a vast, dark forest. From the looks of it, it hasn’t seen human presence for years - possibly never. The trees are tall and murky green, with dark brown trunks. The sun is almost completely blocked off from above, with only small rays of light seeping in through the leaves or gaps between trees, adding to the eerie light of the forest.
It is still daylight, as the distant, dark fog amongst the tree trunks in the distance indicate. It smells like a swamp, and it appears some of the fog might be a result of that. There are no noticeable signs of which way to go, just an endless expanse of trees and fog.


How we got here and what happened to the rest of our group is currently unknown… it looks like it’s just Nimbus and myself now. I’m happy more than ever to have his company now… I would hate to be lost and alone in this place.
Our objective should be to regroup with the rest of the group, and return Nimbus’ PDA to Sakharov at the Ecologist’s bunker. But… where to start… I can’t even begin to guess. Nimbus says the best we can do is head south and hope we find some point of reference or marker of our location. Where that would be in here is beyond me… we could be kilometers from the nearest STALKER camp, and we have limited supplies on us after our mission to X16.


Well… we’re not going anywhere tonight, so we’re going to sleep on it and hope tomorrow yields some better results.


This entire day has been like a dream… I still can’t believe it. Nikita… killed by that group of zombies and Snorks at the entrance to X16. Jester… zombified by the emission – I shot him. Jargon… the wise old man I met in Cordon on my first day in the Zone who saved my life, died while taking out a room packed full of zombies. Gremlin… chased into the bowels of X16 by a hoard of Bloodsuckers and Snorks. Now, a massive explosion known as a “blowout” that seems to kill everything in its wake has separated Nimbus and I from the remainder of our group – only Phantom and Zombie. Not only are we separated… we’re lost… seemingly dropped in this place by the divine intervention of some higher power.
I doubt I’ll be able to sleep tonight… I’ve seen too much death and destruction… too many unexplained things. This forest doesn’t feel right either - it’s eerily quiet and there is no sign of humans ever being here. Nimbus is already asleep, which doesn’t help, now I have only myself to talk to.


[21:33]
Well… all’s quiet and I’m getting tired. I feel like I’m a million miles away from everything right now, both physically and mentally. I’m stranded in the middle of some dark, uncharted forest, within the Zone – it’s like a hell within Hell, and seeing all the suffering around me makes me feel like I’m here for the wrong reason. I mean… Emilia is depending on me to get food and money… which I am making… but there is so much more going on here. Seeing Phantom break down after leaving Jargon in X16 really hit me; these people are fighting and dying not just for themselves, but for the sake of everyone outside of the Zone as well.


For me to stay, get food and money, and then leave is a spit in the face to all of the STALKERs in here who have sacrificed themselves for people they don’t even know. And what of this rumor that the government has been behind this whole thing from the start – like Phantom’s parents and sister? He’s dedicated his life to finding the truth, like Jargon – who’s last thoughts were probably about the justice he was serving by finally putting those zombies to rest.


Anyway… these are thoughts for another day and I’ll need my sleep for the journey ahead.


Virtue, signing off.
  17:23:06  19 September 2008
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bob1
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 08/20/2008
Messages: 298
thsi story would make such a good movie, but this is very similar to resident evil. The group goes somwhere, gets stuck there, fights zombies and has to take care of the super computer (except here we have dmytro).
But seriously this is very good. keep writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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