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Never Say Never Again

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  23:03:31  6 February 2010
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
 

Message edited by:
Danlo
02/07/2010 0:53:33
Messages: 5198
Never Say Never Again

I told myself I wasn't going to write another Stalker story if I didn't get my book published. However, what with CoP being released in English and me rereading Roadside Picnic I've been inspired.

Never Say Never Again


I kind of felt sorry for Alex, I really like him. He was intelligent, quick, but he was also a bit soft and didn't know when to push things. That was why he was a technician in a base ten kilometres from the place he really wanted to be. Of course Alex, like all the soldiers at the Base, didn't really like me very much, but they had no choice but to put up with me. I think they are a little afraid of me: I'd been a Stalker, I'd been in the Zone and the Zone had nearly killed me, for all practical purposes it had. Well it would have done if it hadn't been for a group of soldiers and scientists: I had saved their lives and was dying because of it. They owed me! They brought me back, healed me and wanted me to work for them. I said sure, but there was no way I was going back. One leg broken in 6 places, my left arm broken in 3 places, five cracked ribs and a permanent ringing in my left ear: no I didn't want to go back and let the Zone finish the job. I said I'd advise them, I would train their soldiers, but I wouldn't go back. they made me a Captain and sent me here.

I was 19 when I first entered the Zone in late 2008. Almost one year later I was nearly dead. Funny I had survived everything the Zone had thrown at me and I had survived, I thrived, I was having the best time of my life. The one time I did something to help someone else, the one time I helped to protect a group of scientists when a band of Bandits attacked and the Zone punished me. But then again it does that. I held out long enough for the Army squad to rescue the egg-heads, even though a whirligig had mashed my right leg and I been thrown about by a springboard: I got all the Bandits though.

They had me in hospital with several artefacts attached to me to help me mend for three months, a further three months spent with a psychiatrist to stop the nightmares that would have me walking up screaming every night.

The dreams were always different. Nightmares of something crushing me, or voices whispering in the dark. Man shaped animals scampering on all fours in the twilight of an abandoned building. Watching a friend walk too far in one direction turn around and all thought was gone from his head, his mind and eyes were blank, the only thing left was a desire to kill me.

I would wake screaming, covered in sweat, weeping like a child.

I spent three months at basic training and three months with Special Forces and then here to train others to go where I really should be. Even with 10 kilometres between me and the Zone I can feel it calling me. The voices still whisper in my dreams: I know the voices, they are the same ones that whisper to every Stalker in the Zone every time they sleep. And the voices are getting louder, calling me home.

So yeah I think the people at this base might be just a little afraid of me. To them I'm some sort of god, surviving all that and still standing and mostly sane.

I can see the envy in Alex's face. He wants to go but doesn't know how to get there. I know the way but I wont go. Or at least I didn't want to. I've spent too many hours watching him pour over pictures and graphs and data provided him by others. Dissertations on artefacts, radiospectrographs, x-rays, electromagnetic data: all useless when you can hold a real artefact in your hand and you can feel the force of God through your skin.

"Doesn't it annoy you?" I asked Alex. He looked up at me puzzled.

"What?"

"Trying to reproduce the effects of an artefact from other people's observations. From second hand information. Hoping to build a machine to reproduce the effects of something you've never seen." I goaded him.

"Don't need to see one - I have it all here, virtually." Alex retorted, sweeping his hand over the documents in front of him.

"Wouldn't you rather hold an artefact in your hand?" I don't really know why I'm asking this - I don't want to go back. But I do, I can feel the desire to go back physically making me sick in my stomach. But I can't go back, the Zone will only finish off what it started almost a year ago.
  15:55:12  7 February 2010
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
Alex looked at me as if I had just made an obscene joke. His forehead creased and then he grinned.

"I'm too low down in the pecking order. But yeah it would be nice to actually have an artefact or two of my own to study. Maybe I'll put in a request for a Jellyfish." He said finally, a little wistfully.

"How about a Battery or a Shell?" I asked. He laughed out loud.

"While we're talking cloud talk, how about a Spring or a Bubble. Might as well go for one of the really big ones if we're just wishful thinking." He said mocking me. I didn't immediately answer him and he looked at quite intensely. "You're not talking hypothetically are you?" I shook my head.

"I know where you can get at least five rare artefacts, or at least where they might be." Alex just kept shaking his head as if he didn't want to hear what I was saying. "It's only ten klicks from here. It's a place most Stalkers don't go because it's too close to the Fence and it's a little difficult to get in and out. But I can get us in." I didn't mention that most people who went into the mass of anomalies never returned. It was one of the biggest artefact rich areas in the entire Zone, possibly richer than the Centre, but there was something inside that killed almost everyone who got to it. Only one Stalker had returned and he didn't live long enough to tell what was there, only that there were artefacts strewn everywhere just for the picking and he had brought out an artefact that no one had seen before or since: that artefacts evaporated when the Stalker died.

"It doesn't matter," Alex said. "I can't get there and you wont go back. I can't authorise a full field trip." I smiled at him then. I knew he didn't know how much authority he really had.

"You can't authorise a full platoon excursion or the use of one of the helos."

"Thank you for making that point doubly obvious," he said interrupting me.

"But you can requisition a small vehicle, say a UAZ. And you can authorise three passes through the Military checkpoints into the Zone." I knew I had him hooked now. He obviously hadn't realised what he could authorise and the idea was beginning to sink in.

"Ok. Say you are right and I can do all that who will I send?"

"Why send someone else. Haven't you always wanted to go to the Zone yourself. I have seen in your eyes when I talk about my time in the Zone. You never miss one of my lectures or zone training sessions. You want to go!" He nodded and he had the same foolish grin that children have when an adult has caught them doing something they thought was secret.

"Very well. But I need a guide! And I only know one person who can guide me and he's said he wont go back." I didn't want to say anything, I definitely didn't want to say anything about the Zone calling to me.

"It's in a good cause, and it's not too dangerous if you know the way." I lied. This would probably get us all killed but I could hear the Zone calling now while I was awake. "We will need one other and I know the person we need."

"Very well, if you think it's safe enough I will order three passes and the UAZ for tomorrow morning."

I nodded, "Make sure they are ready for zero six hundred hours. We want to get to the Main Gate at the Fence just before dawn." Alex looked puzzled but he nodded. "Tomorrow." I said as I left.

"Tomorrow," he replied.
  16:08:49  7 February 2010
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Simbalime
Bacon
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 08/24/2009
Messages: 348
i like the story so far. seems interesting and you are a good writer, so keep up the good work!
  16:53:43  7 February 2010
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
thank you - and before someone points out the similarity to the start of "Roadside Picnic" guess what inspired me.
  23:01:03  7 February 2010
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
 

Message edited by:
Danlo
02/08/2010 1:15:59
Messages: 5198
When I left the lab, which was really just a low shed containing a series of large offices one of which had been converted into making prototype electronic devices, I headed straight across the bases parade ground-cum-parking lot to the small barracks.

We had to have three people. You couldn't travel in the Zone with anything less than three people, unless you really wanted to die quickly. And we would need someone special. Alex was next to useless with a weapon and would be practically useless in the field, although he had grown quite proficient in following my orders without question and instantly. I would be spending most of my time guiding and trying not to whoop for joy at being back in the Zone. So we would need a weapon specialist. Someone who could react quickly, shoot straight and knew how to follow my orders as well. There were precious few animals like that in this base, but there was one I knew would want to go.

Dmitriy had been born in the old Soviet Union and his parents had moved to the Ukraine when the Berlin Wall had fallen and the USSR started to fall apart. The family stayed when the Ukraine became independent and Dmitriy had joined the military of his adopted country. Although still a Russian at heart he loved the army and the Ukraine but he also loved money. He felt like he was an outsider among all the Ukrainian patriots; they had all grown up in Ukrainian families that went back decades, some had even fled the area when the Accident had occurred back in '85.

He was the best shot in the base, even better than I was, and also the best soldier. He would follow me anywhere and not just because I was technically his superior officer. He considered me an outsider as well, I wasn't really military despite my rank and training. I was something else. And God love him this appeared to endear Dmitriy to me.
  17:06:50  8 February 2010
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
It was only fifteen hundred hours and I found Dmitriy on his bunk. He was the only one in the barrack room and sat up when I entered the room. He didn't bother to stand to attention and just nodded as I came up to him. I didn't press my rank to much with the non-coms in the camp and they seemed to respect me enough not to make my life Hell.

"Hard at work I see Sergeant!" I said as I sat down on the bunk next to his.

"It's a hard life Captain, but someone has to do it." He said as he lay back down again with his hands linked behind his head. He stared at the roof of the barracks and then asked, "Did you want me for anything?"

"I did do as a matter of fact. Got something really special lined up and immediately thought of you." He didn't move and I knew I'd have to give him a bit more of an incentive to be interested. "One of the eggheads is heading into the Zone tomorrow and needs a bodyguard. They could be gone for a couple of days, and who knows the bodyguard may not have to come back." That got him interested and he immediately sat up and swung his legs off the bunk.

"Are you shitting me?" I shook my head. "A real Zone trip? How many will be going?" He couldn't keep the interest out of his voice, he sounded like a kid who'd been promised a trip to a sweet shop.

"A real Zone trip, yes. Three people will be going. Scientist Hoggarth, the English egghead, me and the soldier of my choice." Dmitriy was grinning like a mad man. "I can assume that you are interested." It would be the first time he would be able to put any of the training I give him and the others in to practice. Of course he was interested.

I pulled out a chit and handed it to him.

"Take this to the Quartermaster and he'll issue you with all the correct stores. We'll be leaving at zero six hundred so be ready by five." I said I was stood up and prepared to leave.

"The Old Man wont let us go!" The Old Man was the camp Commandant, and it was a fair point. But then again Alex was useless as far as the Commandant was concerned, I had been a Stalker and should have been shot as a looter instead of healed, and Dmitriy had been put in the Glass House to many times for insubordination for the Commandant to care about him. Oh, he'd let us go. He just many not let us take any stores with us.

"Leave the Commandant to me and Alex. You just be ready and be by our transport by zero six hundred, or I leave without you."

When I left the barracks I headed back across the parade square and entered the Officers Barracks and went straight to my room. I had a lot to do and I wasn't sure I would have enough time to do it as the Commandant was bound to call me in to see him as soon as he heard about the trip.
  23:02:40  8 February 2010
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
 

Message edited by:
Danlo
02/09/2010 1:36:24
Messages: 5198
As soon as I got to my room I wanted to strip down to my shorts and t-shirt, but thought better of it, I wouldn't want to keep the Commandant waiting too long when he called for me. So instead I opened my foot locker and pulled out my old Stalker equipment and had a good look at it.

Despite the injuries I had received before I left the Zone my SEVA suit was actually in near perfect condition. I checked the breathing unit and used the built-in recharger to charge the air tanks and left the little compressor put-putting away. There were a couple of tears that just need sewing together and that was about it. Of course the boots stank but smelly feet was the last thing I had to worry about. I stripped my Beretta down and gave it the best cleaning it had had since I bought the thing from Sidorovich: I have fond memories of that fat bastard, but then again you always remember the good things never the bad. I knew he was an evil, bad tempered son of a bitch who just used Stalkers so that he could get rich, but we all had a good laugh at him. By the time I had finished with the Beretta and patching the SEVA suit the air tanks had filled and I switched off the compressor. I then turned to my pride and joy. I had bought it on the black market before first entering the Zone and it cost me everything I could beg, borrow and steal. It was called a Vepr and was a bullpup variant of the ancient Kalashnikov. It was shorter, had the same length barrel and fired the same rounds as the AK, and had an integral red-dot sight fitted as standard. It was an unusual weapon in the Zone but it had seen me through many a fire fight with ease. I slowly stripped the weapon down and gave it a complete cleaning and oiling, possibly lavishing a bit more time than I should on it, but this weapon had saved my life more times than I could care to count and I wasn't about to stint on making sure that it would continue to do so.
  23:32:44  8 February 2010
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Ghost_22
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 10/28/2009
Messages: 429
Glade to see your wrighting again this story got my interests by the boot straps.
  01:34:00  9 February 2010
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198

---QUOTATION---
Glade to see your wrighting again this story got my interests by the boot straps.
---END QUOTATION---



thank you. I'm still writing most days anyway I'm just not writing stalker stuff.
  15:41:31  9 February 2010
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
I spent the remained of the evening checking the other gear in my pack and then fell asleep around midnight. I hadn't received a call from the Commandant but wasn't worried.

My alarm, both external and internal, went off at five and I quickly dressed in my SEVA suit and headed out with my gear to the parade ground. I found Dmitriy waiting for me all kitted out in a Bulat suit. He was grinning at and he pointed to the UAZ waiting for us. I noticed the Commandant standing at his window in the small office block that he used but decided that I hadn't actually seen him so I didn't have salute him.

It was just gone zero six hundred hours when Alex finally showed up. He was walking out of the Commandants office wearing a dark green version of the Ecology suits the eggheads usually wear in the Zone. He plastic helmet was thrown back and I had never seen him look so happy.

"Took the devil of a time convincing the Commandant to sign the Zone Passes, but once I said that he really couldn't stop me going and I needed an escort he had to sign. He's not happy that I'm flexing my administrative muscles, as it where, but he's not going to try and stop us." Alex said as he joined us at the UAZ. "Is everything packed and ready Sergeant?" He asked addressing Dmitriy. The Sergeant nodded and showed me the provisions and equipment in the back of the UAZ. I nearly started laughing at the amount of stuff that Alex thought he was going to need, but was grateful that he had thought to order a couple days of rations. I didn't fancy living off Boar or Flesh meat. I hadn't told Alex that we have to leave the UAZ at the Fence as I thought it was best to only tell him what he needed to know as we went along.

Alex sat in the back of the UAZ and I sat in the passenger seat. Dmitriy started the engine and turned the wheel and slowly drove us to the main gate. We each showed are military identi-cards to the guards and they raised the gate and allowed us on to the road that eventually would take us to the one of the gates in the Zone. I could feel my heart starting to race and I had to quash the desire to start whooping with joy.


I suppose at this point I should tell you a little something about the Zone. The place is so shrouded with mystery and secrecy that much has really leaked out about it. Most of the stories that people hear are about hideous mutants wondering about, strange artefacts scattered everywhere for people to just pick up off the ground and make themselves rich with. There are even rumours of alien space craft being sighted over the Zone, or that the Zone was created by aliens who had stopped by and their technology had caused the Zone by accident. Of course these rumours are like many myths in that they are based partly on the truth.

Back in the mid eighties the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded and showered most of the northern hemisphere with radioactive debris. The worst affected places were those immediately surrounding the power planet, mainly Pripyat, the city that housed the workers and their families of the power plant itself. The Soviet Union declared a forty kilometre Zone of Alienation (or Exclusion Zone) around Chernobyl and the proto-Zone was born.

It appears that certain government funded experiments, and some privately funded ones as well, found that the highly controlled, completely deserted Exclusion Zone was the perfect place to hide their labs. There were genetic experiments conducted to try and build a better human and strange physics experiments that were looking at creating strange weapons or teleportation devices: I've seen some of the these labs myself I know they exist.

One of these experiments may have gotten out of hand, it's hard to say, but in '06 - almost twenty years to the day after the initial incident there was another explosion in the Zone. This was confined to the Exclusion Zone, now shrunk to thirty kilometres. Everyone inside died. The experiments hidden in underground labs escaped and the entire geography of the Zone changed. The zone we have come to love and hate was born.
 
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