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For Love

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  10:43:10  14 March 2008
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On forum: 02/20/2008

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03/16/2008 9:18:35
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For Love

(Ok, I had a sudden stroke of inspiration sitting at my desk, and so I wrote this beggining to a story that I thought some of you here might appreciate. Now, if you all don't mind, I hope you enjoy it! There is more to come, by the way. I just don't know when.

-Regards: The AlaskanKnight)

(Oh, and just so you all know, I would appreciate any feedback, negative or positive. If you liked what you read then say so! Also, it's going to start slow. But, as should be obvious, there's going to be a month of the Zone! Right? Riiight?)

(Edited because I spelled 'stroke' wrong.)

Romanov stood behind the counter, alone in the dim interior of the store. Around him was food, tools, appliances, the such. Occasionally a customer would come in to either purchase something or escape the cold outside.

It was the dead of winter and in the below freezing weather it wasn't uncommon for someone to freeze to death.

Romanov's dull existence in the shop was interrupted, however, when a young man about his height who looked vaguely like him entered, closing the door behind him and stamping his boots on the floor.

"Romanov!" he half whispered, half yelled, evidently very excitied and out of place in the dreary-ness of the store.

"Dmitri, for god's sakes, what are you doing here during work hours? Shouldn't you be at the plant helping to build those fancy armored suits?" Romanov asked, glancing about. If he was caught talking on the job by his boss he'd be in trouble for sure.

"No, brother, I'm being paid to come and talk to you!" said Dmitri. "And I have good news! I know how to get us out of this hell of a life and how to get us riches beyond our wildest dreams! We'll come back and be famous, and you can finally marry your girl like you've always wanted! Her parents will finally approve of you!"

"What the hell are you talking about, Dmitri!" asked Romanov, intrigued by his brother's words.

"Look, you know that the suits are being manufactured as experimental devices by the military, right? And that the ones that they are making now are for trials? Well, the boss, yesterday, he came to me while is was attaching a motivator unit to one of the legs of one of the suits, and he asked me how I was doing financially, right?"

"Yes, go on..." said Romanov, now more curious than ever.

"Well, I told him that of course, eeking out a living is harsh here, and so he asked me if I was willing to test out the suits in a 'combat environment' for him! I asked him what he meant, and he said that he'll send us into the zone free with no hassles and after a month of living there with the suits he'll get us back out and pay us each forty-thousand Hryvnia! That's nearly three times what we each make in a year! And, on top of that he'll let us keep whatever we find in the zone and will pay for our weapons! And, hear this, brother. The artifacts that you and I have heard of normally fetch upwards of five thousand Hryvnia each because they are so new, mysterious, and rare!"

Romanov was silent for a moment, soaking it all in. "You're saying that you want me to risk everything just so that we can make some money? You want ME to risk my life so that you and I can get rich? Do you know what you're asking of me here, brother? There is an enourmous risk of either of us dying, and what would we have then? What?"

"Look, Romanov, stop for a mo-"

"No, no Dmitri. I'm not saying that I won't do it, but I'm not saying that I will. Come by my apartment tonight and explain to me everything in full. You know me. I'm going to want a detailed explanation of EVERYTHING. Now, get out before the old bastard comes out and yells at me!"

"Alright, brother, alright. Here, I'll even buy something from you so that I don't look suspicious!" Dmitri said, grabbing a candy bar from a rack as he did so.

"That'll be ten kopiyok," he said, reverting back to cashier mode.

"Here's a Hryvnia, and keep the change," replied Dmitri. "See you tonight, brother." And with that he turned and walked back out of the store.

An old lady who had been waiting patiently this whole time then came up to the counter with her goods in a basket.

"Good afternoon, Romanov, how have you been?" she asked as he started counting up all of the items.

"I've been doing good Mrs. Kirok. How has life been treating you?"

"Oh, life has been life to me, Romanov! You know how it is," she exclaimed as she waved her hands about for exageration. "Now, what was it that your brother came to bother you about?"

"Oh, you know, he had another insane scheme to get rich quick. He'll be the death of me, he will."

"Now, now, boy. That's just the way of him. I've known you two since you were little and that boy has always been thinking up crazy ways to live life!"

"Don't I know it," Romanov said as he consulted a book in order to find out how much a diet sausage costed.

"And now, how's Natasha doing?" the old woman asked mischievously with a slight twinkle in her eye.

"Oh, come on, now, you ask that every time you're in here!" said Romanov, feigning exasperation.

"I know, I know!" chuckled the old woman. "It's just because I want the two of you to be happy with eachother!"

"Well, if you must know, she is doing fine. In fact, I'm thinking of approaching her father for her hand in marriage soon. I just hope he'll agree to it." He looked at the total for a moment. "That'll be nine hryvnia and seven kopiyok."

"Really? But it says ninety-seven kopiyok there," she said, pointing at the register.

"I know. Dmitri bought a candy bar and left me the ninety kopiyok. I'm just giving something back to you after all you've done for me over the years."

"Well, now, isn't that sweet of you?" the old lady said as she took the money from her old, worn out purse. "And, don't worry about her father. He's a good man, and I've talked with him about you. He definetly wouldn't mind you becoming a son of his is all that I'm going to say."

"You've been talking to him about me! Oh, geeze, what would I do without you? My life would be so much harder if it weren't for you!"

"I know that, dearie. Your mother did tell me to look after you, after all." With that the old woman grabbed her basket of groceries. "Alright, Romanov, I'll see you again next week. I'll be expecting to hear what it was that Dmitri concocted this time!"

The bell rang as she walked out into the late afternoon cold.


Two hours later is was dark out, and Romanov's shift was over. He mumbled his goodbyes to the teenage boy that took his place and grabbed his coat and headed out into the cold night.

He walked two blocks to a small shop that sold tea and other things that women enjoyed and he opened the door a small ways, slipping inside.

The inside was warm and comforatable. Two small tables were by the store's main window with three chairs each, and the shelves around were littered with random trinkets, kitchenware, and tea. The atmosphere was warm, comforatable, inviting. All together it was the opposite of where Romanov had just come from.

"Romanov!" the girl behind the counter, Natasha, said happily. "Is it that time already? Huh, normally Tevya is here by now..."

The girl was about five feet ten inches tall, a good two inches shorter than Romanov. She was fairly stoutly built, but not extremely wide. Her hair came down to her shoulder normally, and today it was pinned up nicely at the top with one long bang coming down the front. In Romanov's eyes she was beautiful.

And she always had a personality to match. She was a smart girl who knew what was going on, and she knew the best ways to deal with stress and the ordeals of everyday life. Younger girls often came to her for advice even though Natasha was only twenty-one, only two years older than some of the girls and in some cases much much younger. She was always there to listen and knew when to let you know that you were being stupid.

"That's alright, I can wait," Romanov said as he sat down at one of the chairs nearest the door, across from two old ladies who were actively talking about what the world was coming to and about the good old days - though it was quite obvious that they were actively listening in on Natasha and Romanov converse so as to gossip about it in the days to come.

"What'll you have while you wait, then?" Natasha asked him as she took out a thermos to make him some tea in.

"Oh, I'll have the usual, what I always have," he replied waving his hand idly to the side.

"Right. Good old mint julep tea, then." She went about getting the hot water and the teabag, while asking Romanov, "Why don't you ever try anything different? You always have the same old mint julep instead of trying something new!"

"You know me, Tasha..." he said slowly. "You know that I stick with what I like."

"Uh-huh. What's that supposed to mean?"

"You know how you asked me whether or not I loved you still the other day and I tactfully avoided answering you like I normally do? Well, think about it. I've stuck by you through thick and thin for the past, what? Three years?"

"Oh, how sweet of you, telling me that you love me in the most indirect manner possible," she said bringing him the thermos of tea with the bad still in it. Before she gave it to Romanov she kissed him on the cheek. "I love you, too. Now, here's your safe, lovely tea."

Romanov, out of the corner of his eye, saw one of the old ladies smile and distinctly heard one of them say 'adorable' and 'young' and 'sweet' and heard the other one laugh quietly.

Romanov sipped his tea for a moment, testing the strength of what was already in there, before taking the teabag out and dropping it in a wastebasket nearby.

The door opened and in walked another girl, Tevya, looking very flustered.

"I'm sorry I'm late, Natasha," she said breathlessly. "I was just visiting with Joseph before coming here."

"It's quite alright, Tevya," Natasha said, smiling at the younger girl while putting on her coat. "Ok, you'll not forget to lock everything up tonight, right?"

"Of course, of course," said Tevya. "I'll see you tommorow, Natasha?"

"You will, of course." Natasha walked up to Romanov who had gotten up by now and said, "Shall we go, then?"

Romanov nodded slightly and opened the door for her, stepping out behind her. She took his left arm in her right, and grasped his hand in hers as they walked down the street together towards an apartment block that was nearby.

"So, what shall I be cooking tonight?" asked Romanov as he took another sip of his tea.

"Oh, I would absolutely love some of your mother's potatoes! That is, if you wouldn't mind?" she asked hopefully.

"That won't be a problem. Nope, no problem at all," Romanov said to her. "Oh, and by the way, my brother is coming over tonight. I don't know when, but he's going to come and try to convince me to join him in another of his crazy get rick quick plans."

"Oh, then I'll be able to listen, too, right? After all, you are my mon couer and I need to be able to look out for you!" she said using the french words for 'sweet heart' that one of the old ladies had taught her.

"Of course, of course!" said Romanov as he leaned over to kiss Natasha. "You are my one love and a part of my life. That shall never change."

In the back of his head, though, he was thinking otherwise. If he died then he would lose her forever as well as vice versa. But it was forty thousand hryvnia, after all! If he had that much money he would surely be able to convince Natasha's father and mother that he could support her and give her the life that she needed.

But there were the doubts, as well. Oh, yes indeed, there were doubts and worries.

New bit here, for those that care or already read the first part.

Romanov didn't admit his worries aloud to her, though. "I hope not, Tasha. I don't know what I would do without you."

"Come on," Natasha said walking a little bit faster. "Let's hurry up and get home. It's cold out here and it's been a rough day."

"Why? What happened?" asked Romanov, slightly worried.

"That guy, he came back. He started asking more questions about your brother. I kept telling him that I don't know anything and that he should talk to you, and he wouldn't leave until some old ladies came in for their tea." She said all this rather slowly, as if pondering it.

"Damn it all," swore Romanov under his breath. "You have the gun that I got you, right? It's in your purse, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is, it is. But why do you think he keep coming and asking about your brother?"

"Probably because of his work. But, I don't want to talk about it right now, you never know who might be listening."

By now the two of them were just in front of the apartment doors, standing in the light cast by one of the street lamps.

"Hold on just a moment!" Natasha nearly shouted as she stopped walking. "Why do you always keep things from me? Half the time I'm talking to you you either answer in a cryptic manner or just tell me what you think I need to know! And I'm tired of it! Either you start being more honest with me, or I'm going to go and live back with my parents! I'm sure they won't mind and at least I'll be closer to my horses!" With this she turned around and stormed away down the street.

Romanov thought fast; he had to. "Look, ok, I will! Can we just get inside? You look cold and I don't like it when you're cold like that. I don't want you ending up like Mr. Sedrovsky." Running up behind her he grabbed her around her shoulder and her waist and said, "Come on, let's get inside. I'll make you some food and we can warm up and you can ask me whatever it is you want to know."

She stopped for a moment, considered what he had said, and then said "Alright" in a begrudging manner and allowed Romanov to take her back towards the apartment.

Luckily for Romanov their apartment was right next to the stairwell on the second floor, so he didn't have to walk very far to get to it.

Once inside he closed the door behind him and flipped on a lightswitch, shedding light on the small apartment.

It was a simple deal, quite small really. To his right was a small kitch with a table that could seat two people crammed in one corner. To his left was a cramped bathroom that needed very badly to be cleaned.

In The door in front of him led into a sort of pseudo bedroom/living room that was taken up mostly by a bed, with a closet and a television occupying the rest of the space along with a chair in one corner.

"Hey, you go freshen up and change into something nice and I'll start cooking something up for us, alright?" said Romanov as he threw his coat onto a chair in the kitchen.

All he heard in reply was Natasha moving around in the bedroom.

Romanov started searching his cabinets for things that he could use to put together some potatoes cooked like his mother used to. There were the potatoes, of course, and then there was some left-over ground meat in the old refrigerator that he had been trying to get the most longevity possible out of by using it sparingly. He grabbed that as well. The last items were some spices that he kept in a cabinet in the corner of the kitchen and some cheese that was left over in the refrigerator as well.

As Romanov was cutting up the potatoes Natasha came back in and sat down at the table, dressed in some old jeans and a t-shirt. "Now," she said while glaring at him, "You can start by telling me just what your brother does for a living."

"Well..." began Romanov, "he works for the military in making some new sort of suit. Perhaps the person is someone from another country trying to find out what they're up to in there?"

Natasha glared at him even more. "That's so goddamned short an explanation! Why couldn't you have just told me that before?"

"Because, you never know who's listening, and I technically should know that anyways."

"Oh, come on!" snapped Natasha. "This isn't the old Russia! This is Ukraine now! There is no more KGB roaming the streets looking to kill anybody who put a toe out of line!"

She was quiet for about a minute, Romanov didn't say anything.

"Alright, look, I'm sorry for being so harsh just now," Natasha continued. "It's just that with that creepy bastard bothering me and my parent's going on and on about how my sister ran off with that military boy... Well, I've just been stressed lately. I'm sorry, all right? That doesn't mean you're off the hook, though. You still have to answer me truthfully from now on. I want everything. Now, how was your day?"

Romanov was quiet for a moment as he started to heat the water for the potatoes. "Well, it was alright, I guess. What Dmitri has to say when he comes over is going to affect it a lot, though."

"Uh-huh," Natasha said, looking right through him. "And what is he going to come and talk about?"

"Well... Well, um... Right, he wants me to go with him into The Zone."

"What?! No! I'm not going to let you waste your life on some scheme to get rich quick of those artifacts or whatever they were called!" she said, standing up and looking right into Romanov's face.

"Look, Natasha, listen, it's not for the artifacts," said Romanov as he touched Natasha on the shoulder. "His boss, he wants us to stay there for a month and wants us to use the suits that they're designing while we're there. We're supposed to test them like that or some other ridiculous nonsense."

"And what? Get killed?!"

"I won't! We won't! I promise! From what he says the suits are nearly indestructable and we'll get paid forty-thousand hryvnia! That's enough to get us out of here and to further our lives!"

They were face to face now.

"Yes, but the promise of forty-thousand hryvnia doesn't change whether you'll live or die you damned fool!"

And with this Natasha burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably into Romanov's shoulder.

He gently edged himself behind her and sat down in the chair, holding her in his lap.

"It'll be alright," he kept saying to her as he held her. "It will be alright, Natasha, I promise. It will be alright."

All she did was sob and hold him back in return.

Now Romanov knew why he had to do this. He had to do it for her, no matter how much it would cause her to stress out. So what if she was stressed for a month? Once they had the money they could get a proper house and live there comforatably and Romanov could have her hand in marriage like he had always wished. What was a month of worry and stress to a life-time of happiness?

He knew why he had to do it. It was because he loved her. He would do it for their love.

New bit here, for those that care or already read the first part.

They ate quietly, neither of the two talking to eachother. They each had their own things to worry about inside the confines of their minds.

Natasha, for example, was ridden with worry about what would happen to her dear beloved while he was in the zone while Romanov was busy worrying about what would happen to him during the month.

So, in a way, their thoughts were the same.

After they had eaten Romanov cleaned up, taking his time while he waited for Dmitri to arrive. Natasha, meanwhile, went into the bedroom and shut the door. He could hear her sob occasionally.

After he was done cleaning Romanov sat down at the table in the kitchen, alone with his thoughts and the old clock mounted on the dingy wall.

It slowly ticked past eight, then eight thirty, and then eight forty-five. At exactly five seconds until nine Romanov heard a key turn in the apartment door and he watched as his brother walked in with several rolled up papers under one arm and a duffel bag slung over his shoulder.

It only took his brother mere seconds to make his way into the kitchen and drop the bag on the kitchen floor with a dull 'thud'. After that he pulled back his seat, sat down, and spread a map out on the table.

"Alright, brother, you wanted to know everything, right? I've got your everything right here." Dmitri said this as he put one finger on the exact spot of a map.

"And just what, exactly, is there?" Romanov asked his brother, raising an eyebrow.

"That, good brother, is Rostok. It's a now abandoned old factory complex that, from what my boss tells me, bless his fat soul, has not seen any people for nearly two decades now. Of course, there might be some animals that might have taken up residence there, but we'll deal with that later. There in Rostok are three bunkers that my boss knows about from his intelligence, all leftovers of the Cold War. One is watching an incoming road and probably won't be of much use to us. The second one has an entrance located near a small vehicle repair shop and is quite big, according to him. The third is located across the warehouse district, sandwiched in the corner of a small courtyard or something like that."

"Now, we will set up shop in the second bunker. My boss tells me that it is most likely still in great shape and that it has multiple rooms and plenty of storage space. On top of that, it is the only bunker out of the three that has a ventilation system that can be repaired, which will be very important to us-"

He was cut off by Romanov. "Excuse me? Now, wait just a damned second. Do you know how to repair ventilation systems? No? I thought so! Second of all, most likely in great shape? I need you to be more certain than that, alright? I don't think you realize what you're talking about, here. These are OUR lives that we are talking about here! I want more than just 'maybe' and 'might', I need you to be damned sure! You hear me?"

"Yes, yes, I'll get to that. We're not going alone, see? My boss says that he has a friend who wants to set up shop there, if you know what I mean, and his friend is willing to give us five subordinates who will actually be able to fix the place up! And on top of THAT he'll give us a vehicle and all the shit that we can carry on it! Look, it's all solid! We'll be fine!"

Romanov thought for a moment, and then said, "Dmitri, that doesn't tell me anything. That just tells me that we have promises and supposed, theoretical safe places that we don't even know if they exist with any surity! For all you know your-"

"Brother, brother, I knew you would be like this," Dmitri tutted, shaking his head in a condesending manner. "That's why I brought this." With that Dmitri swung the duffel bag onto the table and stood up.

Opening it Dmitri took out, first of all, a small box. He opened it and showed it to Romanov. Inside were ten-thousand hryvnia.

"An advance payment, we'll say," said Dmitri.

Then he took out of the bag a rifle. It wasn't just any rifle, however. It was a European rifle, one that the old men would stand around and talk about with the younger men in the alleys of the town, chatting about foreign movies like old women.j

"You don't have to say anything, brother, and I would prefer that you didn't as I probably should have this with me right now. But, yes, it is a German G3 like that old bastard farmer was showing off to us that summer a few years ago."

Romanov simply took it and felt it in his hands. It was a little heavy, and it showed the signs of quite a bit of wear, but Romanov didn't care. It was a foreign gun! One of the ones that the rich old bastards would by just to shove it into your face that they were richer than you and had connections.

"And this is just an old one, as I'm sure you've noticed," continued Dmitri. "The ones he showed me were new, black, and looked lethal. On top of that he's going to supply us with two-thousand rounds of ammo for every gun that we get. Two-thousand!"

"Does it not worry you that they think we'll need that much ammunition?" asked Romanov as he handed the rifle back to his brother.

"Not at all, brother, not at all! He's just a fat old bastard who's probably never been in a bar fight, what does he know? I bet he's never even fired a weapon!" laughed Dmitri. "Now, you're going to love this next-"

"No, that's enough, Dmitri," said Romanov as he stood up as well. "I made my decision before you came, actually. I just wanted to see if it was the right one. When do we leave?"

Dmitri seemed rather taken aback at this. "Perhaps I underestimated how much you care about your sweet little lover, then? Ha, brother, this is wonderful! I have your suit made already as I got measurements from you months ago, not telling you how, though, and the truck is ready to go from what I hear! Settle whatever unfinished bussiness that you have and meet me down at the factory on the outskirts of town by sunset and we'll be off without a hitch!"

"Alright, brother, alright," replied Romanov. "Take your things, leave, I will see you tommorow. Good night, brother."

"Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight! I shall see you tommorow and we will be off onto a rich life with new horizons!" laughed Dmitri as he left the apartment, shutting the door behind him.

As Romanov stood there locking the door behind him he suddenly realized that he had never given his brother a key to the apartment! But oh well, there was always tommorow.

Romanov turned around and went into the dingy bathroom, relieving himself in the ice cold toilet. After turning off all the lights and checking the door again he slowly opened the door to the bedroom and went inside, starting to take his clothes off as he did.

After he had changed into more comforatable clothes that Natasha had gotten him a year ago Romanov climbed into the bed next to her, aware that she wasn't asleep.

"Natasha," he whispered into her ear, "Tasha, I leave tommorow. Wake me up in the morning for a goodbye, alright?"

He didn't get a response, just like he had expected, but that didn't matter.

As Romanov got comforatable lying with his back to the only woman that he thought would ever matter to him beside his own mother his mind filled with thoughts about tommorow, all the tommorows that could be, filled with the idle daymares and terrors and worries that fill a mind when it is trying to stop thinking.

The last words he thought before drifting off to sleep, though, summed his greatest worries up in one sentence. 'Will I ever lie beneath a clear sky with my Natasha again?'
  14:41:53  15 March 2008
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On forum: 02/10/2008

Message edited by:
03/15/2008 18:05:54
Messages: 20
good story, but i think that u should reduce the love part a bit and write more about the more stalker like part.

EDIT: oh lol, didnt read the title nvm what I said about reducing the love part.
  04:04:27  17 March 2008
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Message edited by:
03/17/2008 4:31:04
Messages: 127
That's quite alright, good man. Edited because that one guy told me to!

Edit: Oh noes! An edit time-out! Gasp!

Well, here comes some more, I guess...
Romanov finally decided to get it over with and opened his eyes. The room around him was still dark, and in the dim light he could see that the clock by his bed read "Six twenty-seven."

He could feel Natasha behind him, and at some point in the night she had put an arm around his waist.

Moving carefully Romanov dislodged her arm without waking her up and slipped out of bed. He then proceeded to take a quick shower and freshen up, probably the last time that he would be able to do so for the next month.

After that Romanov went into the kitchen and was going to put something together for him and Natasha to eat for breakfast, and was surprised to see a package on the table.

It was a non-descript cardboard box with a note attached to it. The note read, "Brother, I forgot to give this to you. One is for you and one is for Natasha, as I heard that there's been a man asking about me and my job. He's a dangerous man and she should carry hers with her at all times. Oh, and yours is the bigger one like you've always maintained. (Right here a small smiley face was drawn) Dmitri."

Inside the box were two pistols, both revolvers. Both had holsters. One was small and silver and the other one had a six inch long barrel and was fairly hefty. As Romanov took the holster that it was in out he could see that it was ment to go across his chest.

It felt very natural there.

Romanov moved the pistols to the counter, though, and continued to make breakfast.

As he was making it he heard Natasha get in the shower, and ten minutes later she was out again and they were eating together.

As they ate Romanov felt seperated from her. Indeed, the silence was thick and awkward.

Natasha was the one who broke it, though, when she said, "Look. I don't want you to go, you know that, right? Of course you do. But, if you think that you'll be fine and think that this is in our best interests then fine! Go and do whatever it is you're going to do with your brother! If you die, though, I will kill myself so that I can find you in the pergatory, or hell, or heaven, or wherever it is that we go to after death just so I can kill you myself! Do you hear me? You're coming back alive, there are no other options!"

Romanov couldn't help but thinking this silly since there were plenty of other not so desireable outcomes, but he didn't say anything and just nodded his head.

"Now, let's go, you're walking me to work before you go."

Romanov nodded again and finished the last bites of the eggs that he had made and stood up.

"Ok, let me get ready to go," he told her, pausing to grab the revolvers on his way to the bedroom.
  04:23:04  17 March 2008
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On forum: 03/04/2008
Messages: 50

You should tell us those things later in the story instead of now so we wont expect it, great stories you should continue.
  05:58:48  20 March 2008
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Romanov emerged from the bedroom wearing a ratty brown t-shirt and jeans, his customary wear for no-work days. On top of the t-shirt he was wearing a light, old leather jacket that had seen its fair share of days.

The larger of the two revolvers was in a shoulder holster underneath the jacket, not too obvious. The extra shells were stuffed in Romanov's left pocket.

Romanov was about to put the other revolver into his other pocket when Natasha walked in, arms crossed.

Before she could say anything, however, Romanov handed it to her and said, "This is yours in case that creep comes around again."

Apparently this surprise tactic worked because Natasha cautiously took it from Romanov's outstretched hand.

"Don't worry, it's not loaded," Romanov told her while handing her twelve shells. "Keep these nearby, alright? If he tries anything funny or tries to do anything to you just shoot him, I guess. Alright?"

"Yea, alright," she said as she stowed the snubnose into her purse. "Now, let's go!"

"Alright," Romanov said as he took her hand in his.

The walk to the store where Natasha worked was uneventful, the streets were quiet at this time of the morning. Neither Romanov or Natasha said anything, they were just silently enjoying being near eachother - possibly the last time it would ever happen.

Their parting was just as quiet, neither of them saying anything. The only thing that was passed between the two of them was a last look into eachother's eyes and a long, protracted hug.

As Romanov walked away with heavy foot-steps an old woman who was a regular at this early hour came up to Natasha and asked her in her shaky old woman voice, "Why the long goodbye, dear? It's not like he'll be going anywhere! You can see him tonight, can't you?"

Natasha didn't have a reply for the woman as she opened the front door of the shop.

A single tear ran down her cheek in the darkness of early morning.


Romanov didn't have anywhere else to go, so he decided to pay his brother a visit early.

It took him an hour to walk there, but after that hour Romanov found himself at the front gate of a pre-coldwar factory that was looking dingy in the early morning sun.

There were boarded up and broken windows on many of the buildings, and in fact, only one building looked like it had been maintained regularly, and that was a relatively small garage in the back corner of the small complex.

Romanov was waved in by a lone man standing watch at the gate, and as he trudged by Romanov could see his picture taped to the wall.

As he entered the inside of the garage by ducking under a partially opened garage door Romanov was greeted by an altogether dissapointing site.

He had been expecting a high-tech laboratory or something of that nature, not what looked like it could be the workshop of any old mechanic.

This was offset, though, by an impressive-looking bodysuit that was mounted on the wall near the tools.

On the opposite end of the garage, however, was a positively monstrous military truck that barely fit in the garage. Six men were busily working to load supplies onto the back. Romanov could see plenty of fifty-five gallon drums, crates both big and small, and weapons in their distinctive wooden crates.

One of the men, upon seeing Romanov, finished moving the drum that he had been working on moving and then half walked and half ran over to Romanov.

It was Dmitri.

"Brother, I had expected that you would get here early! Help us load the truck and we can leave tonight, if possible, yes? Now, come!"
  06:05:08  2 April 2008
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On forum: 02/20/2008
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Hours later the seven men were finally finished loading the truck, and Romanov had finally begun to notice that there was a certain method to the way that things were loaded, particularly that all the crates containing weapons and ammunitions were being put at the top while everything else that wouldn't be essential in a tight situation was being placed at the bottom of the bed of the truck.

As Romanov sat on the hard, cold floor against a hard, cold wall he panted and his chest rose up and down while beads of sweat dripped from him onto the floor.

He hadn't gotten a workout like this in a long time, and he was beggining to question his choice to go on this potentially fatal venture into the zone with his brother and these other men.

Romanov's thoughts were interrupted, however, when Dmitri came over and laughed, "Brother, this is no time for resting! We still need to see whether or not your suit actually fits you! Come on! Let's go!"

Sighing, Romanov stood up and wondered where all of his brother's energy was coming from. It was wearing Romanov out, for sure.

He followed Dmitri over to the more cluttered part of the shop and leaned against a wall as his brother began to take down the bodysuit that was mounted on the wall.

First came the helmet, and then the arms and legs, and finally the body, all of these main pieces laid out on a cleared off counter.

"Ok, come here, brother," beckoned Dmitri. "We need to get you in the suit so that we can leave early, or at least try to."

Romanov stopped leaning against the wall and meandered over to stand by Dmitri. "All right, what first?"

"Well, I think we should start with the body piece..."

Dmitri picked up the large piece of body armor and held it up to Romanov, comparing the two, and then undid a series of clasps on the right side of the piece of equipment, opening it up so that it could be put on Romanov.

Romanov lifted his arms and let Dmitri put the piece of equipment on him and felt as each clasp was sealed with a slight 'click'.

"There, that fits remarkeably well, actually... Hell, I hope everything else goes as smoothly," laughed Dmitri. He was certainly in jovial spirits. "My luck will probably run out before we're done, though."


An hour passed with Romanov sitting around, gradually becoming heavier as Dmitri help him put on the heavy and bulky gear.

Finally, though, Dmitri had attached and tested the last motivator and sealed the last clamp and stood back to admire his work - his brother, fully outfitted in what was looking to be the pinnacle in personal protection.

"Ok, Romanov, brother, I want you to slowly try to move your arm, alright?" Dmitri said. "Slowly at first..."

Romanov did so, and it felt fairly easy despite the nearly three pounds of gear that were covering his arm.

"See, isn't it smooth?" Dmitri asked, laughing again. "Here, now, try walking around a bit now and see how it goes."

Romanov did so and found it extremely easy despite wearing thirty pounds of gear on his back. If it wasn't for the helmet Romanov would've thought that he was just wearing thick winter gear.

"Ok, there, you've got the basics down, just don't try to move too quickly. Now, see that crate over there near the truck? Yea, the blue one. Try picking it up."

Romanov walked over and did so, effortlessly lifting the blue crate into the air and holding it first in front of his body and then lifting it into the air and then setting it back down onto the floor. It couldn't have weighed more than ten pounds.

"Astounding!" sighed Dmitri. "I mean, I knew it would be like that because I've used one before, but that crate weighed nearly fifty pounds! Ok, I'm going to go tell everyone to pack up, we're going to leave in a half hour, I think."

Romanov watched as Dmitri strode over to where the five other men were waiting around and chatting idly and told them to pack up and get ready to go and then watched as the five men dropped their calm demeanors and began to put on gear that had been hanging on the wall nearby.

He watched as bulletproof vest were strapped on, helmets put on, gasmasks pulled into place, as bootlaces were tied and gloves pulled on.

Each man's gear was perfectly uniform, each of the men slowly began to look like the others, and soon they all looked the same except for subtle differences such as height and the way they would stand.

Also, each of the men were packing a pistol in a thigh holster while Romanov had nothing.

As Dmitri walked by Romanov tapped him on the shoulder - a little too hard, actually, and Dmitri rubbed his shoulder as he snapped out a, "What?"

"Wait, nevermind..." he said, but before Dmitri ran off Romanov asked him, "Could you open up the side of my vest and get my pistol out of its holster? I kind of forgot about it."

"Oh, damnit Romanov, you're gonna have to be more alive than this if you're gonna make it in the zone, I hear! Now, hold still and lift your arms, this'll take a minute..."
  07:18:09  5 April 2008
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On forum: 02/20/2008

Message edited by:
04/07/2008 4:47:34
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The truck rumbled to life and slowly pulled out of the garage and into the light.

The sun outside was high in the sky, casting small shadows from the buildings in the complex.

Normally Romanov would've shivered in temperatures like this, but he was snug in his body suit even though he was sitting on top of the supplies in the bed of the truck, wedged in between one of the other men and the cab of the truck.

Behind him was his brother and another of the men. Two more of the other men were in the cab of the truck, a very tight fit to be sure, and then the last man was standing in the middle of all the supplies manning a PKM that was on a tripod that overlooked the front of the truck.

The truck left the compound - Romanov watched the guard house go by - and turned onto the main road out of town and sped up, the diesel engine a muffled roar.

As he was toasty and warm and had nothing better to do Romanov settled in against the cab of the truck and closed his eyes and tried to get to sleep.

It only took ten minutes.


Romanov was woken up by the man sitting next to him who had shook him by the shoulder.

Shaking his head Romanov listened as voices talked with each other rapidly but evenly - like men haggling a price.

As he watched the space in front of him Romanov watched a Ukrainian soldier stroll by with an AK-74 slung in his arms. The soldier caught sight of Romanov and the other man and stopped and nodded at someone, and another soldier came over.

Together the two of them stood watch over Romanov and the man that he was sitting next to.

Looking up Romanov could see that the sky was turning dark blue and purple and realized that it would soon be dark.

After many more minutes of waiting and listening to the voices haggle with each other, a wait that seemed to last forever as Romanov began to realize that they were now on the edge of the zone, the engine of the truck roared to life and just a few moments later Romanov could feel the truck moving.

After about thirty seconds of driving the man next to Romanov motioned for him to stand up, so he did and then the man got up as well and began to open a crate that was next to him.

As the lid was pried off Romanov spied a black Abakan rifle that was lacking a magazine but did have a sling. The man lifted it out of the case and handed it to Romanov who took it without a word.

Stopping in the act of closing the crate the man turned and said, "The name is Vosya, by the way."

Vosya continued closing the crate and then set it off to one side carefully and began opening another - this one contained another Abakan with a sling. This one also happened to have a grenade launcher mounted on the barrel.

Vosya took the rifle and then closed the crate and set it off to the side with the other and opened a blue box that had been underneath the two weapons crate. Inside were a ton of black magazines for the Abakan, Romanov guessed twenty, and Vosya grabbed four, putting three in his vest and on in his rifle.

He then handed four to Romanov who found pouches on his suit to put three of them in and then put the last one in his rifle as well, finishing the act by pulling back the charging handle.

Romanov then looked back at the man who was keeping a tight grip on the PKM and caught sight of Vosya giving the man a thumbs up.

The gunner gave a thumbs up back and then turned and began talking to Dmitri, or at least that's who Romanov guessed he was talking to.

Looking out at the landscape that was passing by at a rather good pace Romanov saw many leave less trees and a good load of dead grass, and the occasional abandoned homestead, but other than that there wasn't much of interest.

Once he thought that he had seen a dog, but he couldn't be sure.

What he could be sure of was that he was now in the Zone and there was no going back for the next thirty days, the next seven-hundred and twenty hours.

"Shit," he swore to nobody in particular. "Shitshitshit."

There was no going back now.
  19:54:38  6 April 2008
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Milkyway M16
Explorer of the Zone


On forum: 04/24/2007
Messages: 318
More. I want more of this NOW!
  23:23:46  6 April 2008
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On forum: 02/20/2008
Messages: 127

More. I want more of this NOW!

I might be able to do that for yeh, man. Just give me a little while, gotta type it up since I already know where I'm going with it.
  12:29:33  7 April 2008
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On forum: 04/01/2007
Messages: 8
Im loving reading this
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