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The Worst the Zone Has to Offer

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  04:20:34  25 February 2010
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On forum: 12/07/2008

Message edited by:
02/27/2010 4:01:51
Messages: 53
Thinking about continuing when time is available.

Hopefully it's somewhat enjoyable, as I'm sick at the time and my writing skills aren't top notch, in my opinion.

The Worst the Zone Has to Offer

Chapter I





"These damn lenses make everything purple!" the man said with a sneer. "I mean, you'd think that on our budget we'd be able to afford more than the bargain brand gas masks."

He dropped the mask and turned his gaze away from the sky and towards the only other mercenary on the top level of the half-constructed building he and his group currently resided in.

“Pat” he shouted, forcing the man lost in thought to look up and attempt a conversation.

“Ya?” the merc replied, his respirator struggling to hide the thick Irish accent fighting its way through.

“What color does your mask make everything look? Everything I see looks fucking purple.”

The Irishman laughed, knowing he had been given more fuel for the fire. “Mike, why do you damn Americans complain about everything? The ol' lenses were personally put in by our technician before we left.”

He stood there, half angry and half puzzled. “Why in the world would he do that? Sure it makes night a tad easier to see in, but, Jesus, isn't that what we were given NVGs for?”

Pat looked at him and managed to bust out another laugh. “SHE's a smart young lass, our technician is”

He took another look at his friend's face and continued, “Well, s'ppose you aren't able to equip your night vision in time. S'ppose your NVGs are broken, out of batteries, or lost.” “Then” he continued, “What in the hell do you plan on doing while your eyes are stuck adjusting to black and the only light is that of tracers flying towards you?”

“....Wait... hold the fuck on.” Mike said, shocked at what he had just heard. “You're telling me our technician is a chick!?”

Another laugh, this time louder and stronger than before. “Oh hell, Mike, you've met her yourself. Just before we left the base and came to this damned hell hole. Remember? That girl you whistled at as we boarded the chopper.”

“Holy hell.” he muttered. “I thought that was our cook or some shit. Your telling me that the model working at our base is fixing my weapons?” “Sweet Moses, I'm new, Pat, but you gotta tell me these things!”

“Hmm, I'm not sure if Beth would take that as a compliment or as an insult.” he responded with a grin across his now mask-less face. “I mean, she'd love the model part, but the sexism... well I'm not too sure.”

Mike took a look at his friend's face, just now realizing that he had never before seen him without a mask. Across his right eye was a gruesome scar that looked like it had been infected at some point in the past. Looking down more, he noticed that Pat's beard was completely unkempt, and despite the group having left only 4 days ago, it looked long enough to have been growing for a week.

Pat noticed his friend eying him and quickly chuckled. “Well now, maybe you aren't sexist after all. I mean with the way your staying at me, you could pass as the queerest man in the Zone.”

“Oh shut it, you Irish prick, you know I'm not sexist, and don't start with that gay shit.” he said, picking up his gas mask and putting it inside the camouflaged rucksack that he, like the rest of the team, had been given. “Besides, I was just surprised to hear that our techie was of the opposite sex.”

“Well I dunno, Mike.” He said, his heavy Irish accent much more audible than before. “Look a that bushy brown hair, that perfectly organized suit, that impeccably clean G36. Face it. You're gay”

There was a quick moment of silence before the both of them burst into laughter and sat down on the nearest pile of rubble. Pat brought over his bag and rummaged through it, finding a pack of cigarettes and a cheap, plastic lighter. He took two cigarettes out and brought one to his lips, lighting it.

“Want one?” he said, offering the unlit cigarette to the man sitting across from him.

“I don't smoke anymore, Pat. It took me three long years to quit that damned habit.” he replied, thinking about the three years of nicotine patches and quitters' therapy.

“Bah, you whiny bastard, it's not like you'll be living long in the Zone anyways.” he said, the cigarette dangling out of his mouth. “Most likely you'll be the feast of some mutant or the lead cushion of some stalker thinking he's got something to prove. You see, to them, we're the worst the zone has to offer. Foreigners with a fat paycheck, big guns, and a reason to kill anything that moves.”

Mike waited for Pat to say something further, to laugh his usual hearty laugh, but he was left with silence.

He had done, at least in his mind, extensive research on the Zone prior to signing up with the mercenary group. In fact, it was in his research that he came across the group themselves. Some ex-stalker on the internet mentioned how rampant mercenaries were in the zone during his time, and said he had even found out that one of the operating groups, known as Gallowglass, worked outside the Zone as well.

After checking up on the group, he had found a way to contact them about recruitment into the Zone. He knew that no one was allowed inside the Zone itself, so mercenaries and PMCs had to be extremely careful about recruitment into their “not so advertised” business ventures.

Despite that, Mike had managed to get a slot as a Zone merc as soon as his background checked out. The Zone was one of the most profitable business opportunities at the time, and he knew that groups wanted to get as many men as they could in order to spread their claim, but the ease at which he was inducted scared him. It wasn't his background that he was worried about; he had been a Marine for over 4 years and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather, it was the speed at which he was cleared and offered a job in the group that worried him. Not more than two days after he had contacted Gallowglass did they return his call and assure him a flight to the Ukraine. He was sure that the need for mercenaries in such a hostile environment was cause for a lot of the eagerness.

Not like Mike was complaining.

He was tired of searching for work after he left the mid-east. When he decided to call it quits he was told by other ex-Marines to join up with a PMC, as many were looking for talent like his. Mike wasn't interested in going back to Iraq, and thus, turned elsewhere for his excitement.

“You there, buddy?” the thick Irish accent waking Mike from his self induced stupor.

“What? Oh, yeah. Sorry, Pat, I got lost in thought for a second.”

“I can tell, you looked like a damn zombie, and that sure as hell isn't good here.”

“Look” he continued, “Don't get yourself all worried about what I said earlier about you not lasting long here. The fact of the matter is, we, as funded mercenaries, are more well equipped than 99% of the raggedy ass guys you'll find here.” He put away the cigarette pack, apparently having had the second one without Mike realizing it. “The majority of the idiots that come here unprepared die out within their first week. The ones that don't usually die not long after, and the ones that survive still know damn well enough to stay away from us.”

Mike looked up, noticing that the once blue sky was turning orange and drifting off into a purple horizon.

“What about Wolfhound?” he replied, “Everyone in the damn country heard about his death”

Pat looked at his friend, sighed, and continued trying to ease his weariness. “Wolfhound was a bloody moron that couldn't keep his head out of places he wasn't fit to see. He got lucky for awhile, sure, and his luck managed to build up a large amount of men, but that didn't last. The damned fool got pompous and thought he could take the whole Zone if he wanted.”

“What exactly happened then, Pat? I knew he died in some fighting with Ecologists or something, but I was never sure. As vast and wonderful the internet is, there just aren't enough informed ex-stalkers willing to spill information. The Zone is an enigma to any but a first hand visitor.”

“Well, you got it partially right, but the Ecologists sure didn't kill him.” he said, chuckling like he had been earlier. “He attacked a group of the scientists as they were headed for Yantar. The ambush point isn't far away from here, actually. Anyways, he and his group of merry men were close to killing the ecologists when a group of Duty, led by some new stalker, happened upon the ambush and took out the majority of his forces.”

He paused, then continued. “Poor ol' Wolfhound never stood a chance.”

“Duty, really? Mike said, curious as to how bad the info on the internet actually was. “I had heard that Freedom was more active in the area at the time and had probably saved the Ecologists, but no one is sure.”

“Well then, I guess you're probably right. No one IS sure” he laughed. “Hell, maybe it wasn't Duty, but honestly, I don't give two shits about it one way or the other. Wolfhound got cocky and paid the price for being an idiot. End of story.”

Mike thought about the obscurity of facts on the Zone once more. He had realized that most sources wouldn't be first hand accounts and would be skewed, but to the degree that no one knew the truth about the death of a major character in the Zone? He had trouble believing it. He began to work through the weeks of data he tried to pull on the Zone. How much of it was true? How much of it was altered? How much of it was straight up lies? He tried not to think about it. The experience would come eventually, and he knew he was better prepared for first hand encounters than the next guy.

“Looks like you got a zombie on your hands there, Pat.”

Mike awoke again from his second daydream to find another voice next to him.

It belonged to Demyan, the only native born Ukrainian of the group, and the “designated vodka tester” as he so liked to call himself. He put the name to use, too. Mike never saw him without a slight buzz, and always with a bottle of vodka somewhere in his suit. Now was not an exception.

“Tell me about it” Pat replied, his heavy Irish voice a strange contrast to Demyan's surprisingly light Ukrainian accent, despite being native born; a fact Mike could never get over.

“The damn newbie better snap out of it if he wants to survive in the Zone long enough to see anything more than a pseudodog ripping out his insides as he suddenly exits “zombie” mode.”

Both Pat and Demyan laughed.

“Aw, give him a break now, you smelly Ukrainian ass.” Pat looked at Mike and back at Demyan “He was a Marine before he decided to commit suicide and come here. What the hell were you, the town drunk?”

“You know damn well what I was, you stupid Irishman.”

“Yeah, special ops secret spy agent 007, right?”

“Don't get me started” Demyan snorted, “Hell, look at you, you're lucky as hell to get into a group like this having been part of th-”

Pat shot him a look before he could finish.

“Fine fine, whatever. I never knew why you cared so damn much about it, but if you're going to start something, then I'll shut my smelly, drunk, mouth.”

Mike wondered what Demyan was about to say about Pat, but thought better than to press the matter any further, as he didn't seem too forthcoming about it. Still, the matter irked him to a point where he wanted to change thought processes and focus on something more meaningful. He began pondering about the Zone again and what knowledge he thought he knew. If the Zone was as harsh as he read about it on the internet and in articles, then it was bound to be at least three times as bad as he had previously imagined. He had read about the mutants, the anomalies, the radiation, and even the politics of the various factions. After the center of the zone was safer due to changing anomalies, stalkers fled there in drones, setting up new bases and making new finds. It was a lot of information to handle for a person in the strangest area in the world. Hopefully, he thought, he'd be able to figure it out as he went along, and felt assured enough to relax for a bit.

That's when he heard the sound of a dragunov going off in the distance and saw the body of Demyan lying on the ground in front of him, his head a pulpy mess.
  17:22:54  25 February 2010
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On forum: 07/14/2009
Messages: 17
Very good, a solid introduction to the characters, feels like they have a lot to reveal. And a cliffhanger in the end

You also didn't make the common mistake of writing it sloppily, it was well structured with good punctuation and spelling. A lot of stories are so poorly written that I quit after just a few sentences, which is a shame since I bet the stories themselves are really good. Please do continue!
  04:00:32  27 February 2010
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On forum: 12/07/2008

Message edited by:
02/27/2010 4:02:33
Messages: 53
I'll try to get part three out by the end of the week if I can.

Chapter II

“Get the bloody hell down!” Pat screamed as another round hit the concrete barely feet away from where the two were standing.

As he dropped, Mike could hear shouting and gun fire exploding from the floor below him. If he, Pat and Demyan had been the only members of the squad up on the top floor, then that would mean that there were seven others below. He couldn't understand why a lone sniper would attack a fully encamped group of mercenaries in a dangerous area. Were mercenaries that hated in the Zone? No matter the hatred, only an idiot would attack with these kind of odds.

“Dragunov!” Pat yelled down to the rest of the squad “South, south-west on the roof of the concrete building, behind the metal gratings! He's moving to get a clear shot of Mike and me!”

Mike noticed it too. Even from his prone position behind the chunk of rubble that was previously his chair he could see a lone stalker sprinting across the roof, trying to flank them. He followed him through the holes in the destroyed concrete, not realizing that he was still lying there, ripe for the picking.

Before he could stand, he felt a large hand grab him by the collar. “Mike, get the fuck up and get downstairs, we are moving NOW!” Pat picked him up in an instant and started for the stairs down.

“Mike, don't worry about your gun!” he yelled again, signaling for Mike to follow him as he raced towards the rest of the group. “We've got much bigger problems at the moment!”

Pat reached the stairs first, and Mike soon followed. Luckily for both of them, the wall next to the stairs was still almost fully intact and allowed for some cover for the time being.

“Here.” Pat tossed Demyan's UMP to Mike. “I picked it up as we ran." He looked around the cover towards the roof where the sniper was perched. "Not like it has the range to shoot a sniper, though.”

“Thanks, I appreciate the thoughtfulness.” Mike responded. “We've got to-” but he was cut off as Pat started screaming again, this time at the four mercs holed up behind another of the semi-intact walls.

“Demyan is dead! Where the hell is Alexi with our sniper rifle?!”

One of the mercs shouted back, but Mike wasn't able to discern who. “He went to scout out where that bloodsucker came from two days ago! He took Phil and Garin and left a few hours ago!”

“God dammit!” Pat punched the wall behind him. “That fucking Russian is going to get everyone killed!” He looked back at the four men again, two of which were blind firing at the sniper, who had taken up a new position. “Well, if those three are gone, where is Abel?”

“He was down on the ground floor just before that asshole started firing at us! He was getting some food. He wanted us to have a cooked meal before we moved out tomorrow.” The response came from a new voice this time, and was finished with a “Shit!” as he dropped his magazine on the ground.

“Oh this is just fucking wonderful! Not only are three of our men, including our sniper, missing, but our damn captain is on the ground floor, planning a picnic for us!”

“Mike, wait here. I'm going to go rescue the damn princess and hopefully save our asses. If you could be a lad, do try and keep the sniper focused on something else... say, the four of you shooting at him? Thanks a bundle”

Before Mike could respond, Pat was already halfway to the stairs, and the rest of the men were blind firing at the sniper.

He realized that Pat would be the prime target for a nice hole in the head if the sniper wasn't too scared to aim. He put his back to the wall facing his enemy and started firing towards what he could only assume was the sniper's makeshift perch.

Mike looked to the other four men and considered asking for a status report, but the idea flew out the window when he abruptly heard the sound of the sniper firing another round, and the angry yells of Pat echoing up from the ground.

“Jesus fucking Christ, Abel is down!”

One of the four masked mercs looked at Mike, and then the other three before looking down. “What are his vitals?!”

“The fuck if I know!” Pat yelled as he came running up the stairs. “But a 7.62 to the neck certainly doesn't give much leeway for life, now does it?”

“Pat!” Mike yelled as his friend re-joined him at the wall. “What the fuck do we do now?!”

“Well, I've got an idea. That sniper is hittable, and I've got an old Mosin up top. Picked 'er up as a trophy during the first scout trip on day one. I planned on selling her as soon as I got the chance.”

“What's the condition of it?” Mike asked as another round shot through the wall the others were taking cover at, narrowly missing one of them.

“It's not too bad, I cleaned it as best as I could, but I don't know how to use old soviet tech, let alone counter-snipe with one.” Pat waved over one of the mercs. “Sergei here, however, hunted with them way back when he was a kid.”

“Don't tell me you plan on using that piece of shit you wanted to show me last night.” The merc said, removing his mask, apparently damaged from flying debris.

“Not me, Serg. You.” Pat said, patting him on the shoulder. “You're the only one of us that could possibly make that shot.”

“Fuck you, Pat. I'm not going up there. You want me to die?”

Pat laughed “You won't die. Hell, all you need to do it run up, grab it, and run back down.”

Mike looked at the worried Sergei. “We'll cover you. Don't worry”

The merc sighed. “Fine. Where do you keep the damn thing, Pat?”

"Thank you Sergei. It should be leaning against the broken pipe next to the sleeping bags. Remember just grab it and-”

The sound of another shot was heard, and Mike noticed one of the remaining three masked men go down.

“Fuck fuck fuck!” One of them yelled. “They got Jack! His arm is nearly ripped off!”

The one yelling quickly took Jack's mask off and pulled him back behind cover. As this happened, the other quickly slid in another magazine into his AK and opened fire on the sniper's position.

“Shit, Sergei, hurry up and get that fucking thing, before more of us die!” Pat pushed him up the first stair. “Remember, near the sleeping bags! I know it's not near much cover but you've got to do it!”

Sergei looked back, flipped Pat the middle finger, and ran up the stairs.

Pat looked around the wall as the two active mercenaries were tending to Jack before returning his attention to the sniper. “Fuck, that asshole is moving!” Pat focused on where he was going. “Jesus, he's going to have a full shot at Sergei!”

Mike looked at the area, but couldn't see the sniper before he got to his new cover.

“Everyone, fire at that big pipe on the roof of the house to the left of the one he was on before!”

Immediately, Mike moved to the area where Sergei previously was, checked his magazine, and opened fire on the new position.

“Pat, where the fuck is it?!” Sergei called down. “I can't find the fucking thing!”

“I told you where the rifle was Sergei!” Pat yelled up. “It's near the sleeping bags! Maybe it got moved! Check the area!”

Pat looked back down at the four of us. “Keep firing at that damn sniper!”

Mike looked back at the position and opened fire, yet to see his target's head pop through. “Pat, we're not entirely accurate, he can still get off a shot!”

Pat looked back at Mike, and then up. “Well, maybe if Sergei wasn't dicking around up there!

Mike heard a joyful shout come from up above. “I think I found it! You never said it was in a black case, Pat!”

Pat looked up. “It isn't...” he said. He didn't yell this time.

The sound of another shot filled the air.

Simultaneously, everyone looked up.

Pat looked back at Mike and closed his eyes, shaking his head. “I knew I shouldn't have done it. It was too damn risky to send him up there!” He hit the wall for a third time.

“Well what the fuck do we do now, Pat!?” Mike yelled at him, this time, his voice carrying a slight notion of anger in its tone.

Pat didn't respond. Instead, his gaze was stuck looking away from the sniper.

“The fuck are you looking at, Pat?!” Mike yelled once again as he quickly turned to see what Pat was looking at so intently.

Then he realized why Pat didn't respond.

A large group of stalkers approached the building.

“Fuck me!” Pat yelled at the three. “They must have snuck around while we were busy dealing with what we can only assume was their distraction.”

Pat sighed “There is no way we can defend the building from them. If we moved cover, we'd be completely exposed to the sniper.”

Pat looked down. “We're done, lads.” He dropped his weapon. “Maybe if we tell 'em we know of a secret stash, they'll let us live long enough to escape.”

“Jack is dead.” The merc that was trying to preform some sort of rudimentary first aid took his mask off.

The four of them looked at each other, all assessing their situation.

“Oi! We surrender!” The one that was blind firing before stood up and yelled.

Mike was waiting for the worst. A shot to ring out and a splattered head on the floor. He closed his eyes, waiting for the bullet to rip through the air and kill his comrade.

He heard nothing.

“Well.” said Pat, actually smiling a little. “Perhaps our captors won't be vicious psychopaths that want to eat our flesh and drink our blood.”

“We can only hope.” Mike replied, dropping his weapon on the ground and standing up as well.

As he stood up, Pat and the unmasked merc revealed themselves as well. Mike saw the unmasked man next to him to be Victor, the only one on the team that had serious medical training. He remember that Victor had been in the French special forces as a medic, but soon left when he realized not only how little he had to use his skills, but how little he was getting paid.

“Ben, take your damn mask off” Victor nudged the last masked person in the building.

“Quit yer whinin', I'm taking it off”

Ben slowly removed the gasmask from his face to reveal a rough face with very dark skin. Mike had forgotten that Ben was the only black mercenary on the team. He had only spoken to him once before, but remember his English accent quite well.

“Well, looks like we've got to pull out some diplomacy if we want to save our asses this time.” Pat chuckled as he slowly headed down the stairs.

The rest followed suit.
  21:57:50  1 March 2010
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100RadsBar - Formerly known as LoboTheMan


On forum: 06/03/2009
Messages: 1709
good very good. Keep 'em coming
  01:54:57  2 March 2010
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On forum: 12/07/2008
Messages: 53
Lots of work this week, hopefully I'll be able to start writing part three today or tomorrow.
  23:26:46  9 March 2010
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On forum: 12/07/2008
Messages: 53
Sorry to double post, but I feel bad about not being able to have anything written yet.

Between work, school, and being sick right now, I've had very little time to work on the story. I'll try to get to it when I can, as I really want to, but I've been so busy lately.

Sorry guys, hopefully I'll get it out before the end of the week.
  02:51:43  12 March 2010
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HL2 Master
Senior Resident

On forum: 06/28/2008
Messages: 271
Really likeing this, it sucked me in right away! Keep it up!
  03:16:11  12 March 2010
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HL2 Master
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On forum: 06/28/2008
Messages: 271

“Don't get me started” Demyan snorted, “Hell, look at you, you're lucky as hell to get into a group like this having been part of th-”

Pat shot him a look before he could finish.

“Fine fine, whatever. I never knew why you cared so damn much about it, but if you're going to start something, then I'll shut my smelly, drunk, mouth.”

Mike wondered what Demyan was about to say about Pat, but thought better than to press the matter any further

Pat did'nt happen to be Ex IRA (Irish Republican Army) did he???

I bet im right.
  03:29:53  12 March 2010
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HL2 Master
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On forum: 06/28/2008
Messages: 271
After just finishing the second part my one critisism is that the minute the drunk ukrainian got topped, those mercs, who all have combat experiance, would have all got to cover and spread out. I felt that three of them dying made it seem as though they were just waiting to get shot.

Otherwise this is great!

  10:27:51  12 March 2010
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Cake Muncher


On forum: 01/08/2009
Messages: 4114
Keep em coming.
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