On forum: 01/04/2011
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"Setrakian, you're such an idiot"|
"Goddamnit Setrakian, you're such a fucking idiot" he thought to himself as he walked to his death. The Duty executioner poked him with his bayonet as he stopped to catch his breath.
"Move, you piece of shit. You can rest when you're dead" said the corporal, his voice sounding distorted through the gasmask that covered his face.
He glanced up from his feet, only to see the corpse pit at the edge of the Duty controlled factory.
"Oh great, that's where I'm gonna end up" he thought. "Born in Romania, childhood in Târgovişte, adulthood in Bucharest and death & burial in Ukraine, the Zone of Exclusion, Rostok factory. What a wonderful life."
Another poke from the already too familiar bayonet awoke him from his thoughts.
"You're a real idiot, you know that?" the corporal said. "Everyone saw you shoot those scientists. Why would you come and walk in to the Bar afterwards?" The executioner shook his head.
"Look, I didn't..." Setrakian started, his voice fading out. He knew this wouldn't help, why bother?
"You don't even want to explain? It's alright. No one would believe you when we have 12 witnesses who saw you shoot those men. I'm one, by the way. It was real nice work. Just *pop-pop-pop*, right in the back of the head."
It was true that Setrakian had shot the scientists. The circumstances just simply weren't as they appeared.
"Well then, here we are" said the corporal and motioned him to stop. "Any last words? A caliber of preference, maybe? I carry 9mm, 7.62 soviet and 12 gauge buckshot."
Setrakian didn't even bother to answer.
"Nine millimeter it is." said the corporal and shrugged.
He kicked Setrakian to the back of his knee, and he fell face first into the asphalt.
"Kneel on the side of the pit, would you? You'd save me a lot of trouble, and I wouldn't have to piss on your corpse" the corporal said.
Setrakian complied. What good would have resisting done anyway?
He felt the steel against the back of his head.
"Nice knowing you, stalker" the corporal muttered.
Setrakian closed his eyes.
~Three days earlier~
Setrakian had just passed through the Army Warehouses-Rostok Duty checkpoint and was trying to slip through the quiet camp in the faint moonlight.
"Should be safe, everyone is sleeping, so I shouldn't bump into--" he thought as he bumped into the last person he wanted to meet.
"Oh, it's you Setrakian. Long time no see, eh? Why don't you come with me to one hundred rads, we have a lot to talk about." said the figure clad in the Duty PSZ-9d suit.
Setrakian followed him without uttering a word, knowing he was in deep shit now.
They sat at a corner table in the empty bar, the Duty Captain motioning Barkeep to grab them drinks from the cupboard.
"So, um, Captain Kochetkova, have you been well?" Setrakian meekly started, wondering what the man had in store for him.
"You know how I've been, Setrakian" the Captain responded. "You still owe me that twenty K and the loan sharks on my side are pretty impatient. Because you seem to have forgotten to pay me."
Only twenty? That shouldn't be hard to come by--
"In hryvnia" Kochetkova added.
"Oh." Setrakian said.
"'Oh' indeed. You're in big trouble if you don't dig up that money fast."
"Captain, you know how it is. No blowouts in ages, which means no artifacts, which means no money. How am I supposed to pay?"
"Well, about that. I just happen to have a job for you. Nothing suicidal, actually hardly any risk at all. Reward is 30000 grivnas to the dot. I get the twenty, you get the rest. How does it sound?"
"What kind of job?" asked Setrakian. You never knew about Duty after all.
"As I said, easy and no risk. There's a couple zoologists staying at the Duty base who want a small mutant sample. They've got merc guards of their own, they just need a guide. They asked for us since we're in friendly terms with the Ukranian ecologists, and Major Zvyaginstev in his infinite wisdom decided I'd be a prime candidate for leading them out into one of the uncharted forests. I have no interest in rotting my balls off with radiation, but you have that fancy artifact collection which should protect you. So, guide them to whatever they're getting, guide them out. If you encounter trouble, the mercs handle the shooting. They have some real firepower, I think they're from some American PMC. So?"
"Doesn't sound too bad" Setrakian said. "How do I contact the 'zoologists', whatever the hell that means?"
"The mercs will be here at the bar 9AM tomorrow. I told them that I'd find someone who is interested, so they'll wait for you there. The scientists don't want to leave the compound. Be here on time, if they accept you you'll get to talk to their boss."
"Alright Captain, I'll talk to them and maybe I'll do the job."
"Maybe? Just reminding you, you have three days to pay your debt and after that I'm coming with my friends, beating you unconcious, and selling everything you own. So pay me on time will you?"
"Yeah, yeah, sure I will. See you later Captain. Be well."
Without a word Kochetkova rose from the table, leaving his untouched bottle, and walked out.
"Might as well make myself comfortable with these two drinks, courtesy of Captain Kochetkova" Setrakian thought while he popped open the first bottle, leaned his head back and started gulping down the drink of the gods.
Setrakian's head hurt. A lot. It felt like someone had broken a bottle inside it, kicked the shards in deeper, and grilled a flesh in there.
He had a short flashback of last night.
Two bottles became three. Three became four. Four became sixteen, as Garik joined in.
They held a drinking competition.
No one has ever won against Garik.
Well, no wonder why his head hurt, then. Mother always warned about drinking too much.
He had been dragged outside the bar, probably so he wouldn't take anyone's place, snoring on the table like that.
He took out his PDA and glanced at the clock. 8:56. Something was bothering him. Had he forgotten something?
Give the Night Star to Sidorovich? The man had a strange obsession to them.
Nope, it was done.
Shoot some crows with Lavrenti Demidenko?
Nope, Setrakian had won his Night Star there.
It was just 20000 rubles, it could wai-- Oh no. It wasn't in rubles, it was in grivnas. Shit.
Now he remembered their meeting last night.
Mercs at the bar, 9AM, escort mission.
It was 9 o'clock.
He ran down the stairs to the Bar, tightening his belt that had strangely come loose last night, and once he was down he noticed two big and burly foreign mercs chatting with Barkeep. Barkeep pointed his finger at Setrakian, and the mercs turned around.
"You our guy?" the dark skinned merc growled.
"I, uh, yep" answered Setrakian.
"Our boss is in the back room" said the other merc, who looked like he could crush a bloodsucker with his biceps.
Setrakian nodded and turned towards Garik moved aside to let him pass. As he was walking past Garik winked. Why'd he wink?
Shooing away the thought for later examination, he saw the balding middle-aged man wearing an orange SSP-99 ecologist suit come and greet him.
"Nice to meet you Mr. Stalker, nice to meet you" the scientist said while shaking Setrakian's hand and nodding wildly. "You will escort us on our small mission? The payment is good, I promise you. Thirty thousand."
"Wait, what is your mission? What is a 'zoologist' anyway? Do you, like, study zoos?"
"Ah, no Mr. Stalker. Zoology is the branch of biology which relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct."
"So... You're like animal biologists? You study the mutants here?"
"An accurate assumption. Almost true, our organization actually wishes to capture a certain type of critter found in the Zone to study its unique biological properties."
"Don't say, you want a fucking bloodsucker or something? You have a deathwish?"
"Wait, Mr. Stalker, wait!" yelled the Zoologist. "Nothing quite as extreme. As we have heard, the one we wish to find is not very fast and should be easily transportable by the helicopter we intend to use to pick it up with."
Setrakian certainly was desperate. If Kochetkova and his friends paid him a visit, he'd end up with no protective suit, no artifacts, no weapons, and most likely with broken bones that he couldn't afford to have someone take care of. And he'd have no money for vodka.
"Okay, I'll do it whatever it is. Just tell me you're appropriately prepared? As in, you have big guns?"
"Yes, our mercs certainly have these 'big guns' you're speaking of. We hear the creature is quite resistant to common weapons however but we wish to take it alive. Our plan is to shoot maybe two to three thousand rounds at it, then capture it with special nets with spikes that administers tranquilizers."
"Three thousand rounds? What the hell, what are you going up against?"
"Oh, yes Mr. Stalker. We intend to capture a Pseudogiant."
To be continued et cetera
Note: grivna/hryvnia = Ukraine currency if I understood Wikipedia correctly.