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  22:26:46  14 June 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
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Town-32

Based on a story told by Sidorovich in the AMK Mod - if it works well I'll be adding the whole story to the novel.

Town-32

Prologue

File: ZOE1267-UDF-2.15.2007
Date: Thursday, February 15th 2007
Report Author: Classified
Distribution List: Classified

Classification: For Your Eyes Only – Ultra Violet Classification
Burn After Reading

From: Ukrainian Ministry of Defence
To: Ukrainian Presidential Office

Update Report on Recent Events Within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

1. As you are aware on Wednesday, 12th April 2006, at approximately 14:30 hrs, an enormous explosion of unexplained origin occurred. At the same time the entire Exclusion Zone suddenly became inaccessible. Several attempts were made to gain entry, all these attempts ended in the teams dying from extreme radiation burns, or other more horrifying effects.

2. On Thursday, 13th April 2006 the extreme radiation barrier surrounding the Exclusion Zone dissipated enough to allow entry by teams in extreme Biohazard Clothing.

3. By Friday, 14th April the radiation had decreased enough to allow deep penetration of the Exclusion Zone. Six teams were sent in, in total approximately one hundred troops and scientists. Contact with all teams was lost as they approached the fifteen mile mark from the Chernobyl NPP. No further deep penetration teams have been sent to the NPP since.

4. June 2006, civilians have been seen illegally entering the Exclusion Zone. All Military posts were alerted and all civilians discovered were escorted away from the Exclusion zone.

5. July 2006, first Artefact reported. This Artefact was confiscated from the University of Kiev’s science department. The Artefact called a “Blood Stone” because of hard, glassy feel, although it does look organic in nature, and that it is the colour of blood. The scientists who had bought the Artefact claimed that it heals minor cuts and abrasions, but is quite radioactive. The Artefact was transported to the Ministry of Science. The scientists at the University of Kiev said that the man they bought the Artefact from claimed to “found” the Artefact in the Exclusion Zone.

6. August 2006, all civilians found within the Exclusion Zone are classed as Looters and all Military squads, patrols and bases are given orders to shoot all Looters on sight.

7. September 2006, the numbers of Looters, calling themselves Stalkers, goes to an unmanageable level. Most of them are heavily armed and are quite willing to fire upon our troops if fire upon. Decision is made to restrict access, to shoot anyone who tries to gain access to the Exclusion Zone – now finally fenced off entirely – however, only those Stalkers who are seen looting artefacts, and those caught with artefacts on them, are shot on sight.

8. December 2006, sightings of human activity all the way up to the Red Forrest in the southern part of the Zone. This activity appears to be originating from the NPP itself. Small squads are sent to investigate. No squads return to report on activity. Stalker informants claim that a faction of very aggressive humans who come from the centre of the Zone is making its presence felt at the edges of Stalker encroachment. Fierce fire-fights have taken place between the various Stalker factions and this new faction. Reports suggest that this new faction call themselves “Monolith”.

9. January 2007, gaps appear to have grown in areas that were previously impassable. Scouting squads, volunteers all, enter the area beyond the Red Forest and return with news of strange buildings, Monolith troop movements, strange creatures and an abundance of artefacts.

Recommendation:

Scientists from the Command Post at Vyshhorod have pointed out that an experimental station five miles to the North East of the Red Forest and is situated two miles from the east bank of the Prypiat River. This station is designated Town 32. They wish to establish a research station at Town 32 and investigate the anomalies of the Zone, the Creatures and the possibility of curing those afflicted with “Zombism”. It is my recommendation that a force of eight specially adapted vehicles, two BTR-94s and six BTR-152s (three to be used as equipment carriers) with a combined force of eighty men, some seventy troops and ten scientist. I would also like to request the hiring of three Stalkers at the Cordon Village to act as guides: these men have had more time in-Zone than any other men at my command and could mean the difference between success or failure of the mission.

Conclusion:

• A force of eighty troops and scientists to be sent into the Zone beyond the previous “line of death” at the Red Forest.
• The establishment of a research base at Town 32.
• Hiring of three Stalkers to act as guides.
  00:09:22  15 June 2009
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ZeroDead
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On forum: 12/07/2008
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Cool... I like how you did the government-style format. Let's see how it shapes up
  12:47:42  15 June 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
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---QUOTATION---
Cool... I like how you did the government-style format. Let's see how it shapes up
---END QUOTATION---



I wanted to get the correct feeling for starting the story - it took me a week to get the right starting point. Mostly a story will right itself if you get the correct starting point.
  13:42:04  15 June 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
Part 1 – Descent In To Hell

Eight armoured vehicles powered up the main highway that ran through the Cordon. They slowed to a crawl at the first roadblock at the fence that surrounded the Exclusion Zone. An arm from an armoured bunker waved them through the raised barrier; they had already been cleared in advance. The sped up and came to a complete stop about a mile further down the road when they came to the first military outpost on the road, Outpost 12. The convoy’s commanding officer, Major Andriy Kuznetsov exited from the lead BTR and walked in to Outpost 12’s main building swapping salutes with subordinates and smiles with various officers he recognised from other commands. Finally he stood in front of the Outpost commanding officer, Major Oleksy Viktorych.

‘Andriy,’ the Outpost Major said grinning from ear to ear.

‘Lyosha,’ Major Kuznetsov replied.

They exchanges salutes and both sat down grinning like a pair of schoolboys. Oleksy pulled two small glasses and a bottle of expensive Russian Standard Imperia Vodka

‘The good stuff,’ he muttered as he filled the glasses. ‘Bud’mo!’

‘Bud’mo!’ Andriy lifted his glass and downed the vodka in one go. Oleksy filled the glasses again and sat back and stared at his friend.

‘So what the fuck are you doing in my Zone?’ Andriy thought his friend sounded angry. Maybe I should have sent him a message to let him know I was coming, he thought. But that would have broached security and someone else would have been sent. He sipped from his freshly filled glass.

‘Sorry I didn’t let you know I was coming. You know what security is like. However, I afraid now I’m here I still can’t tell you what’s going on.’ He watched as his friends scowl softened in a knowing grimace. Both of them had had plenty of experience with modern bureaucracy, especially since Oleksy had become the head of an outpost inside the Exclusion Zone. ‘All I can say is we’re heading north by north west across the Prypiat River, and we’ll be gone several weeks.’ Oleksy nodded. He downed his glass of vodka and turned to look at the map of the Exclusion Zone he had pinned to a large movable board and guessed at the general area his oldest friend would be going to.

‘All the way into Hell, hey? I guess the reports from the Stalkers about passages into the heart of the Zone are correct.’ He didn’t bother looking at his friend for confirmation as he knew he wouldn’t get any.

‘Here’s a copy of my orders giving me permission to enter the Zone, and here’s a copy of my orders to hire three Stalkers to act as guides.’

‘Oh!’ Andriy was surprised to see his friends face suddenly grow confused and worried at the same time, it was a combination he wasn’t used to seeing on him. Although he hadn’t seen his friend in over five years he still thought he knew him better than anyone else.

‘You don’t approve?’ He asked.

‘What? Oh, no. It’s not my place to approve or disapprove. I know it was probably not your decision. But, to be honest you don’t know what those Stalkers are like. Insane every single one of them. You have to be to want to be here in the first place.’

‘You’re here and you’re as sane as I am!’

‘Well yes, but we were both ordered here. Stalkers,’ Oleksy managed to put a lot of venom in to the word, ‘they’re undisciplined, anarchistic, free-loading, looters who are only here in the hopes of making a fast-buck. None of them are loyal to the Ukraine, they’re just out for themselves and can’t be trusted. I miss the old days when I could shoot them on sight.’ Andriy was surprised at the last statement. He friend had never been that bloodthirsty before. So maybe it was right that the Zone changed you.

‘You’re probably right. But, not only have they got more experience and knowledge of the Zone than anyone else, they may actually have specialist knowledge of the area we’re heading for.’ Andriy explained.

‘Fair enough. I’ll radio ahead to Sidorovich – he’s the local trader – and he can see if any Stalkers in the Village are willing to act as guide. Now, more vodka!’


The Village that Major Oleksy Viktoych mentioned was about two miles further north from Outpost 12. The convoy pulled up the hill that the main road climbed and slowly came to stop just before the turn off to the Village, which sat in a depression just off the road. Andriy’s BTR pulled on the side road, nothing more than a dirt track really, and powered down the road into the Village. The whine of its diesel engine loud in the still quiet of mid-morning. Andriy stared out of the window of the vehicle appraising the ruined buildings that lined the dirty road. He saw smashed roofs and walls, homes with no windows, even completely missing walls: smashed fences and missing front-doors. He saw Stalkers sat around makeshift fires inside the ruined buildings, or lounging around outside next to quarter-drum fires. Stalkers sentries at each end of the village kept their Kalashnikov’s at the ready, suspicion written clearly on their faces. Andriy even noticed a few rifles aimed at the convoy on the main road, the Stalkers who carried the weapons hidden in the broken roofs of the ruined buildings. He didn’t know what his friend was on about but these people definitely looked organised.

Sidorovich’s trading bunker was just a little west of the Village and the BTR pulled up just passed the Villages last sentry. Andriy climbed out of the vehicle and stretched his legs, hoping that the fresh air would help counteract the half bottle of vodka he and Lyosha had consumed back at Outpost 12.

He could see some Stalkers huddled around a fire eating out of tins, or cutting strips of meat off some sort of animal that was being spit-roasted over their fire.

‘Have you noticed, Andrei, that there’s no birds, no animals. I’m from the Crimea and I’m used to countryside like this being filled with animal noises. It’s not natural.’ Andriy had been joined by his second in command, Captain Serhiy Vasilych.

‘I noticed Seryozha, and it makes you wonder what they’re eating over there.’ The Major said as he pointed to the Stalkers eating from the spit-roasted animal. Serhiy smiled and twisted his face in false disgust. ‘Which reminds me, we do have three weeks full rations before we have to start on field rations don’t we?’

‘That’s correct, sir.’ Serhiy confirmed still smiling.

‘Right then we had better go meet this Sidorovich.’


(If I've not some of the diminutive forms of the name wrong please let me know.)
  20:33:33  16 June 2009
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ZeroDead
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On forum: 12/07/2008
 

Message edited by:
ZeroDead
06/16/2009 20:34:18
Messages: 197
<Furiously takes some notes on style>
  22:13:19  16 June 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
That's one of the best complimenst I'd had Zero - thank you -

next section

The file that Andriy had been given concerning the Zone was quite extensive and including files on all the major personalities, including the major factions that seemed to be arising in the Zone: Duty – mutineers and deserters from the army; Freedom, Stalkers who wanted to Zone opened to everybody; and Clear Sky, who appeared to a collection of scientists and like-minded Stalkers who wanted to study the Zone – Clear Sky claimed that the Zone was expanding.

The file also included extensive information on a small time criminal, and one time businessman, who acted as a trader for the Stalkers, he went by the name Sidorovich, but it was well known that that was not his real name. Sidorovich was typical of many business men; he was middle aged, short, fat and balding. He was a Russian from Novgorod who had had a business supplying Russian tourists with supplies for outdoor pursuits, hitchhiking, rock climbing, etcetera, who did some arms smuggling on the side. When his contacts informed him that the Novgorod authorities were investigating him for his less legal activities he used his contacts in the Ukrainian Military to have himself smuggled into the Exclusion zone. He set himself up as a trader and using the same military contacts smuggled in food and weapons for Stalkers. He smuggled out artefacts, either to unscrupulous Western companies who wished to study and exploit the exotic substances found in the Zone or to the Ukrainian Government itself, and he arranged for Stalkers to be smuggled out once they had grown too sick of the Zone. He fancied himself as an entrepreneur and humanitarian, he was really just a money grabbing, slimy, small-time gangster.

Andriy introduced himself and Serhiy and got down to business as soon as possible.

‘We’re not here to negotiate Mr Sidorovich; we have a flat fee for anyone interested in helping the Ukrainian Government. As my colleague Major Viktorych told you on the radio we are heading deep in to the Zone somewhere to the North East of here. So we require three guides, preferably with extensive field experience, and if they have experience of the general area east of the NPP it would be a bonus.’

Sidorovich looked at the two officers in there clean, new Zone Field Suits. Part of his mind was calculating how much he could sell the suits for as they looked better than the ones the Stalkers themselves were manufacturing, obviously not as good as the SEVA suits from .... but they were hideously expensive. The rest of his mind was calculating how much he could skim off the top. He thought if he could skim enough he could expand his sphere of influence. He had a friend in the Quarter Masters Office who wanted to get out and saw the amount of money that Sidorovich was managing to pull out of the Zone. Sidorovich suggested a great place to set-up another trading spot would be the old factory complex just north of the Garbage, but it had to have the bandits and mutants cleared out first. With enough money he could pay Duty to go in and clear the place up. He suddenly realised that he had been thinking too long.

‘I’m sorry I was miles away.’ He apologised to the officer who had spoken. ‘I have three volunteers for you, two are perfect, Konstantin has extensive knowledge of the Zone from here to the Red Forrest, and Yuriy has excellent experience from here to the River in the east. They would be happy to act as guides for you for a good price.’

'And the third?’ Andriy asked. He already disliked this fat man behind his desk, inside his little cage. He was nothing more than a horse trader, a dealer in flesh. He started to understand his old friend more now, if the Zone attracted men like this then shooting them was all they deserved. But the political cost to the government would be too great.

‘He says he’ll go for food and water only. He’s been here longer than most of us and doesn’t really care that much for money. He’s called Pyotr! All three are waiting outside. Now all we have to agree on is the fee.’


Andriy couldn’t help but feel dirty when he can back up to the surface after being inside Sidorovich’s bunker. He felt he had just been dickering over cattle with an unscrupulous salesman. He breathed deeply when reached the surface and shook his head to help clean it. Odious little man, he thought, shooting would be too good for him. Then he saw the three Stalkers who had agreed to be his guides.

Konstantin was a giant at six and a half feet and about three feet wide. He was solidly built and had a gregarious grin on his face. He was already chatting with the BTR’s driver and Serhiy, and they both laughing raucously. He was dressed much like all the other Stalkers in worn hiking boots, a thick waterproof jacket that had seen better days and tough jeans. He carried an old AKS-74U like many of the other Stalkers they had seen in the village. It looked like Sidorovich had definitely kept up with his old contacts.

Yuriy was just under six feet tall and was dressed much the same as Konstantin, the only thing that differed really was the colour of their clothes. Yuriy was armed with a Remington Tactical shotgun and an H&K MP-5. He stood next to Konstantin and listened and smiled when Konstantin joked. Unlike Konstantin who was concentrating making friends Yuriy’s eyes were constantly moving about noticing details, checking the horizon and the general area. He nodded to the Major when he emerged from the bunker.

Pyotr was sat at the back of the BTR resting against its rear tire. He was dressed completely differently to the other two Stalkers. He wore a one piece green uniform that papered to have armoured pieces sown into the legs, arms and chest. Further padding and armour plates appeared to attached to an integrated vest. He was sat cross-legged and an AK-108, a firearm that hadn’t been issued to Ukrainian troops yet, lay across his legs. He sat reading a book that was propped against the rifle.
  12:30:21  17 June 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
 

Message edited by:
Racemate
06/17/2009 13:02:50
Messages: 1252
I've read two section so far, and have to say it's just awesome.

After reading I have lost all of my intentions to write anything about this subject from now on, or at least to publish it.

Your idea is simple as well as excellent to write about things that every STALKER player seems to know perfectly. You are making the Zone alive. We have a documentary of the STALKER world now.

Just keep going man.
  18:23:16  17 June 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198

---QUOTATION---
I've read two section so far, and have to say it's just awesome.

After reading I have lost all of my intentions to write anything about this subject from now on, or at least to publish it.

Your idea is simple as well as excellent to write about things that every STALKER player seems to know perfectly. You are making the Zone alive. We have a documentary of the STALKER world now.

Just keep going man.
---END QUOTATION---



Thank you.

Here's some more to enjoy.


‘So you three are my new Stalker Guides?’ The Major said in the general direction of the three guides. Konstantin nodded; Andriy hoped he wasn’t as dumb as he looked. Yuriy made a vague head flick which could have been a nod, and Pyotr stood up and stared at the Major.

‘We get paid for a job,’ he said flatly. ‘We aren’t owned by anyone.’

‘Fair enough,’ Andriy replied, there’s no point in arguing semantics.
‘Right, you’ll be riding with me in the BTR and I’m afraid you’ll have to leave you weapons here. My troops won’t be happy with armed Stalkers in their midst.’ Konstantin looked confused and Yuriy began unloading his shotgun. Pyotr laughed.

‘Then we don’t go anywhere. No offence Major but we don’t trust you and your men any more than you trust us. And I’d rather put my life in the hands of these two Stalkers than any of your men. No guns no go! Are we clear?’

‘Very well,’ Andriy didn’t think they would just turn over their weapons, but it was worth a try. ‘I’ll tell my men that you will be armed and that you are to be treated as officers. Good enough?’ Pyotr smiled and nodded.

‘Very smooth Andriy,’ Serhiy said as the Major walked towards him. ‘Very smooth.’

‘Shut up Serhiy or you’ll be pulling the graveyard shift for the next month.’

‘Yes, Sir! Comrade Major, Sir!’ Serhiy said quite loudly as he pulled himself up into a parody of a parade salute.

‘Let’s get going.’ Andriy said as he climbed into the armoured vehicle.


The BTR rejoined the convoy and the drove North through a small Military Outpost under a railway bridge – the railway bisected the whole valley. Further on up near the apex of the valley they came to Outpost 12b. This Outpost was little more than an overlarge roadblock. Concrete panels walled a small compound with a single two storey blockhouse forming the northern wall. A single soldier at the barrier checked the orders handed to him by the driver; he spoke quietly into a radio at his collar and then waited for the reply. He handed the papers back and walked over to the counterweight of the barrier and raised it. Another Senior Soldier came out of the blockhouse and ran to the double gates and opened them. As the convoy drove past Andriy noticed that both soldiers didn’t even bother to salute. He also saw the barrel of an AKM sticking out of an upstairs window covering the convoy as it drove past. He supposed extreme paranoia was something that eventually happened to all soldiers when they were stationed in the Zone.

Andriy looked at Serhiy and he guessed that the look of utter joy at finally being in the zone was mirrored on his own face. They were finally here and about to face anything they Zone could throw at them. They were no longer sat at the Gates of Hell. They were starting the descent.


About five miles north of Outpost12b was a dirty track that headed north east and joined the main road that left the area that was called the Dark Valley. The Dark Valley road curved east then north east and headed towards a bridge over the Prypiat. It was after they reached the end of the curved section of road that both Konstantin and Yuriy told the driver to stop the BTR. The message was passed instantly along the length of the convoy and they quickly pulled off the road.

All three Stalkers got out of the BTR followed by Andriy and Serhiy. Pyotr climbed on top of the BTR and made himself comfortable on top of the gun turret. He watched as Konstantin pulled some rusty bolts out of his pockets. Andriy hadn’t seen anything to indicate that they were about to drive in to a problem. He scanned the road ahead and still couldn’t see anything.

‘Last time I came through here the place was almost impassable. Wall-to-wall anomalies for almost the entire length of the road.’ Yuriy said.

‘I don’t see anything untoward,’ Serhiy said. Thank god for that, Andriy thought. He was beginning to think his eyes were going and if his younger subordinate couldn’t see anything then his eyesight couldn’t be that bad. Yuriy nodded to his taller friend who took a single bolt and threw it ahead of himself as hard and as fast as he could. It reached about twenty feet down the road before the road exploded into flame. A jet about eight feet in height seemed to appear as if from nowhere.

‘Well fuck me!’ Serhiy exclaimed.

‘This is going to be a lot more difficult than I first thought,’ the Major said to no one in particular. ‘Yuriy can you find us a way through?’

‘Of course, the anomaly field appears to have dissipated in the last week or so. There should be a way through. It’s just going to take time to find a path.’ He and Konstantin started moving about and throwing bolts, rocks or whatever came to hand to find a save path way along the six miles of road. The convoy took about six hours to travel the whole six miles and finally came to the bridge by six o’clock that evening. They parked the eight vehicles at a large enough flat, anomaly clear space just before the edge of the bank of the river. The Major decided that there was little point in travelling too much further. He ordered everyone to eat ration packs and to stay inside their vehicles. He got out of his BTR and found Pyotr say away from the parked convoy. He was staring out across the river and down the length of the bridge.

‘Don’t worry there’s nothing along the bridge to slow us down,’ Pyotr said when the Major got close enough.

‘I didn’t see you helping in finding a clear path here,’ it was a statement that was trying to be a subtle question and failed miserably. Pyotr grinned up at the Major. Damn as there no way to make this man angry, Andriy thought.

‘Too many cooks, Major. I would just have been in the way. Anyway once we cross the river I’ll be earning the money you’re not paying me. I’ve been there; well I’ve been on the east bank before just not quite this far north.’

‘What will we find there?’ The Major asked.

‘Not to sound too corny but Death, Major. Only Death in all its many varieties. I seriously doubt anyone but a Stalker is going to make it back to the Cordon. And to be brutally honest I doubt even us Stalkers are going to make it back alive.’

The Major was unsure if he should be annoyed with the obvious arrogance of the man, or seriously worried that this experienced Stalker, a man who had spent the last six months surviving, and obviously flourishing, in the Zone thought they were all going to die.

They crossed the bridge and hour later and made camp for the night in a large field a mile from the bridge on the east bank. The Major finally allowed his troops and scientists out of their vehicles. He set-up a clear perimeter using the vehicles and some of the razor wire they had brought with them. He didn’t think anyone was going to get a good night’s sleep that night.
  19:26:56  18 June 2009
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Danlo
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Part 2 – The Calm Before the Storm

Mission Log: Major Andriy Leonidovich Kuznetsov

Day 4: 20:38

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to keep this log up to date. And I’m afraid that this will only be a short recap of the last three days.
We reached Town-32 at 13:00 hrs on the second day in Zone. Although we have only travelled fifty kilometres as the crow flies roads very rarely go straight in this country. We also had to make many stops since we crossed the river. Two stops because of anomaly fields: one burner field that stretched two miles, and a field of what the Stalkers called ‘whirligigs’. The whirligigs can range up to five meters in diameter and appear as nothing more than dust-devils; however, as soon as something enters them they speed up to tremendous speeds, can lift a man to about three or four meters and then they explode. We saw it demonstrated when a boar (which is nothing more than a huge mutated wild pig) stumbled into one. Pyotr explained the easiest way to spot a whirligig was to look for the rotting bits of carcases around the perimeter.
The men have really taken to the three Stalkers. Their abilities here in not only keeping us out of trouble with anomalies but find edible wild game, and their natural tendencies to be marksmen has won the hearts of my soldiers. The Scientists have a begrudging admiration for anyone who would brave fields of radioactivity and anomalies to find artefacts.
We also had to stop when the convoy was attacked by a pack of pseudodogs. These animals are as big as wolves, are sleek, vicious and intelligent. They can leapt at a man from over six meters away and a single bite can take a man’s head off. The worse thing about them is that they can project an illusionary version of themselves that appears to attack almost independently of the real animal. I’m afraid to report that I lost five men due these animals. Pyotr showed his skill and daring when he tracked down and killed all the animals that killed my men. I’m almost afraid that when we leave this assignment half my men will desert and become Stalkers themselves.

The main camp was ready by 02:00 on Day 3. We have power supplied by one of the diesel engine of one the BTR-152’s. The entire town now has electricity again. At 08:00 on day three the Stalkers took out three man teams to track down and capture some of the animals that the Scientists wish to study: so far we have two blind-dogs, a single pseudodog (it’s a juvenile and can’t project an illusionary image), four rodents (very large rats like creatures). The Scientists have been promised a boar and a Zombie for their cages by the end of Day 5.

The stockade around the village has nearly been completed and will be finished by this time tomorrow. I will be able to keep a twenty-four guard on strategic positions and the arc-lights on the BTR’s have been rigged up on tall poles so that we can illuminate the surrounding countryside if necessary. I am confident that we can keep this place safe and secure for the three weeks we will be here.

Day 5: 19:14

We lost one of the scientists today. The man was stupid enough to get in the cage with the zombie that the Stalkers brought back this morning. The zombie had a military uniform and his name tag said he was .... According to our database he was one of the Special Forces scouts that were sent to investigate the reports of there being gaps into the centre of the Zone. The dead scientist, Maslovski, thought that he got an immediate reaction for the zombie when his name was mentioned. The zombie actually backed away from its cage door. Maslovski thought this meant that there was a glimmer of intelligence, opened the door and the zombie had him by the throat almost instantly. By the time the guards got to him Maslovski was dead. Oddly the zombie then lost all interest in the corpse. I suppose we have all been fed on a diet of American films where zombies just want to eat people’s flesh or brains. Apparently not! The zombie will eat rodents, cooked food, or anything other “normal” human food they are presented with. I have ordered that the zombie is to be taken away from the camp and shot. I have also ordered that any other soldiers seen in a similar condition are also to be shot on sight. The Stalkers say they have no problems catching zombified Stalkers for the scientists to experiment on. I asked Pyotr why this was, all he said was that any Stalker caught near the Brain Scorchers or staying too long in a radiation field deserved what they got. He said they should have known better. The other two Stalkers agreed with him. I’m not sure if any of my men could feel so callous about the suffering of another person. Konstantin laughed at this and said in his think Caucasus accent that, “there was no left to suffer”.
All security requirements are now in place. We are now as secure as we can.
  08:32:09  19 June 2009
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Racemate
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Message edited by:
Racemate
06/19/2009 9:43:16
Messages: 1252
Regarding to Russian/Ukrainian names:

- second name, it ends by -vich as Sidorovich, Leonidovich, etc., as well as first name by itself is used in a friendly manner only. Never used with a rank.

- first and second names together, e.g. Oleksiy Leonidovich, are used in official manner, in military can be used between people with the same rank.

- in military, lower rank must address to a higher rank using word "comrade" in Russia, or "Pun" (the same pronunciation, that means Mr, Sir) in Ukranian with following rank, e.g. Comrade Colonel in Russia, or Mr. Colonel in Ukraine , or by first & second names in more relaxed atmosphere.

- higher rank addresses to lower rank by a rank with following second name, e.g. Soldier Petrov.

- a rank with following first & second names is used in official manner only.

- there are differences in pronunciation of some Russian and Ukrainian names, e.g. Pyotr - Russian, Petro - Ukrainian.

Did I miss anything?
  12:40:50  19 June 2009
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Danlo
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---QUOTATION---
Regarding to Russian/Ukrainian names:

- second name, it ends by -vich as Sidorovich, Leonidovich, etc., as well as first name by itself is used in a friendly manner only. Never used with a rank.

- first and second names together, e.g. Oleksiy Leonidovich, are used in official manner, in military can be used between people with the same rank.

- in military, lower rank must address to a higher rank using word "comrade" in Russia, or "Pun" (the same pronunciation, that means Mr, Sir) in Ukranian with following rank, e.g. Comrade Colonel in Russia, or Mr. Colonel in Ukraine , or by first & second names in more relaxed atmosphere.

- higher rank addresses to lower rank by a rank with following second name, e.g. Soldier Petrov.

- a rank with following first & second names is used in official manner only.

- there are differences in pronunciation of some Russian and Ukrainian names, e.g. Pyotr - Russian, Petro - Ukrainian.

Did I miss anything?
---END QUOTATION---



I thought I'd got most of them right (and guessed correctly that Sid was a Russian) - Racemate - once the book is complete I'll need a bit of help making sure its as authentic in background stories and names as I can so any help would be useful. E-mail me any usual name combinations you can - oddly though the site I used for Russian/Ukrainian names doesn't have that many Ukrainian names lost fo Russian ones and Pyotr/Petro was only on the Russian one and I used the name for what it translates as in English
  13:34:29  19 June 2009
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Racemate
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---QUOTATION---
Regarding to Russian/Ukrainian names:

Racemate - once the book is complete I'll need a bit of help making sure its as authentic in background stories and names as I can so any help would be useful. E-mail me any usual name combinations you can - oddly though the site I used for Russian/Ukrainian names doesn't have that many Ukrainian names lost fo Russian ones and Pyotr/Petro was only on the Russian one and I used the name for what it translates as in English
---END QUOTATION---



No problem.

Do you need all of the background story's names in both Russian and Ukrainian or just some? Be more specific in what you need, please. There can be, and it's probably more realistic, any combination of Russian and Ukrainian names in the story.

And give me the link to that site, please.
  16:42:35  23 June 2009
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Racemate
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---QUOTATION---
...About five miles north of Outpost12b was a dirty track that headed north east and joined the main road that left the area that was called the Dark Valley. The Dark Valley road curved east then north east and headed towards a bridge over the Prypiat....
---END QUOTATION---



I'm kinda lost there. Is this out of the game maps?
  16:51:21  23 June 2009
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Danlo
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Message edited by:
Danlo
06/23/2009 16:53:31
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---QUOTATION---
...About five miles north of Outpost12b was a dirty track that headed north east and joined the main road that left the area that was called the Dark Valley. The Dark Valley road curved east then north east and headed towards a bridge over the Prypiat....

I'm kinda lost there. Is this out of the game maps?
---END QUOTATION---



yeah - needed a road going east just south of Dark Valley and there's a long stretch between Cordon and Garbage I thought could have a dirt track.

edit: - just had a look at the SoC map and I mayhave to rewrite that whole section - and send them east before they cross the railway - through the tunnel from Dark Valley
  18:03:09  23 June 2009
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Racemate
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Message edited by:
Racemate
06/23/2009 18:07:21
Messages: 1252

---QUOTATION---
...About five miles north of Outpost12b was a dirty track that headed north east and joined the main road that left the area that was called the Dark Valley. The Dark Valley road curved east then north east and headed towards a bridge over the Prypiat....

I'm kinda lost there. Is this out of the game maps?

yeah - needed a road going east just south of Dark Valley and there's a long stretch between Cordon and Garbage I thought could have a dirt track.

edit: - just had a look at the SoC map and I mayhave to rewrite that whole section - and send them east before they cross the railway - through the tunnel from Dark Valley
---END QUOTATION---



Yea, it would be more clear.

edit: So, they should get through the autopark, shouldn't they?
  18:29:08  23 June 2009
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Danlo
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---QUOTATION---
...About five miles north of Outpost12b was a dirty track that headed north east and joined the main road that left the area that was called the Dark Valley. The Dark Valley road curved east then north east and headed towards a bridge over the Prypiat....

I'm kinda lost there. Is this out of the game maps?

yeah - needed a road going east just south of Dark Valley and there's a long stretch between Cordon and Garbage I thought could have a dirt track.

edit: - just had a look at the SoC map and I mayhave to rewrite that whole section - and send them east before they cross the railway - through the tunnel from Dark Valley

Yea, it would be more clear.

edit: So, they should get through the autopark, shouldn't they?
---END QUOTATION---



yeah or around it - I could make the autopark Outpost 12a, as there was a military presence there during CS.
  18:46:33  23 June 2009
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Racemate
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Message edited by:
Racemate
06/23/2009 19:05:08
Messages: 1252

---QUOTATION---
edit: - just had a look at the SoC map and I mayhave to rewrite that whole section - and send them east before they cross the railway - through the tunnel from Dark Valley

Yea, it would be more clear.

edit: So, they should get through the autopark, shouldn't they?

yeah or around it - I could make the autopark Outpost 12a, as there was a military presence there during CS.
---END QUOTATION---



I see. If so, will the Garbage be missed out?

edit: Then, where is the convoy gonna move further, in the Dark Valley? If you gonna use game map there is no way out.
  22:02:31  23 June 2009
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Danlo
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---QUOTATION---
edit: - just had a look at the SoC map and I mayhave to rewrite that whole section - and send them east before they cross the railway - through the tunnel from Dark Valley

Yea, it would be more clear.

edit: So, they should get through the autopark, shouldn't they?

yeah or around it - I could make the autopark Outpost 12a, as there was a military presence there during CS.

I see. If so, will the Garbage be missed out?

edit: Then, where is the convoy gonna move further, in the Dark Valley? If you gonna use game map there is no way out.
---END QUOTATION---



there's a road running south west from Dark Valley to the river where I can put the bridge to other side - so yeah I wont be mentioning the Garbage
  06:41:46  24 June 2009
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Racemate
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Message edited by:
Racemate
06/24/2009 6:46:35
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---QUOTATION---
Then, where is the convoy gonna move further, in the Dark Valley? If you gonna use game map there is no way out.

there's a road running south west from Dark Valley to the river where I can put the bridge to other side...
---END QUOTATION---



I'm afraid I'm lost again.

From what I remember there's a road which bisects Dark Valley and goes from entrance to Cordon, along the bridge over kinda small swamp, passes near Lab X18, and ends at the Bandits base in Soc, or Freedom base in CS.

Am I wrong?
  12:27:23  24 June 2009
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Danlo
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There's one road in DV which is the one you mentioned - it goes south to the Gate - after that it meets the road coming out of the Cordon - or rather the Cordon road meets it - the road goes south east to the river.

http://img188.imageshack.us/img188/6576/cordondarkvalleyroad.jpg

this is part of the full map of the zone that comes with one of the collectors edition.

you can see its actually a fair way from the DV exit to the Entrance at Cordon and you go by the river
  18:07:03  26 June 2009
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Danlo
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I've gone along the route than the Second Incident that caused the Zone to exist changed a lot of things including the geography - here's an up-to-date version with some corrections for names and stuff:

Town-32

Prologue

File: ZOE1267-UDF-2.15.2007
Date: Thursday, February 15th 2007
Report Author: Classified
Distribution List: Classified

Classification: For Your Eyes Only – Ultra Violet Classification
Burn After Reading

From: Ukrainian Ministry of Defence
To: Ukrainian Presidential Office

Update Report on Recent Events Within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

1. As you are aware on Wednesday, 12th April 2006, at approximately 14:30 hrs, an enormous explosion of unexplained origin occurred. At the same time the entire Exclusion Zone suddenly became inaccessible. Several attempts were made to gain entry, all these attempts ended in the teams dying from extreme radiation burns, or other more horrifying effects.

2. On Thursday, 13th April 2006 the extreme radiation barrier surrounding the Exclusion Zone dissipated enough to allow entry by teams in extreme Biohazard Clothing.

3. By Friday, 14th April the radiation had decreased enough to allow deep penetration of the Exclusion Zone. Six teams were sent in, in total approximately one hundred troops and scientists. Contact with all teams was lost as they approached the fifteen mile mark from the Chernobyl NPP. No further deep penetration teams have been sent to the NPP since.

4. June 2006, civilians were seen illegally entering the Exclusion Zone. All Military posts were alerted and all civilians discovered were escorted away from the Exclusion zone.

5. July 2006, first Artefact reported. This Artefact was confiscated from the University of Kiev’s science department. The Artefact called a “Stone Blood” because of it had a hard, glassy feel, although it looked organic in nature, and that it was the colour of blood. The scientists who had bought the Artefact claimed that it healed minor cuts and abrasions, but was quite radioactive. The Artefact was transported to the Ministry of Science. The scientists at the University of Kiev said that the man they bought the Artefact from claimed to have “found” the Artefact in the Exclusion Zone.

6. August 2006, all civilians found within the Exclusion Zone are classed as Looters and all Military squads, patrols and bases are given orders to shoot all Looters on sight.

7. September 2006, the numbers of Looters, calling themselves Stalkers, grows to an unmanageable level. Most of them are heavily armed and are quite willing to fire upon our troops if fire upon. Decision is made to restrict access to the Zone, to shoot anyone who tries to gain access to the Exclusion Zone – now finally fenced off entirely – however, only those Stalkers who are seen looting artefacts, and those caught with artefacts on them, are shot on sight.

8. December 2006, sightings of unknown human activity all the way from the NPP to the Red Forrest in the southern part of the Zone. This activity appears to be originating from within the NPP itself. Small squads are sent to investigate. No squads return to report on activity. Stalker informants claimed that a faction of very aggressive humans, who come from the centre of the Zone, was making its presence felt at the edges of Stalker encroachment. Fierce fire-fights have taken place between the various Stalker factions and this new faction. Reports suggest that this new faction call themselves “Monolith”. The first “zombies” are seen in the Zone. These wretched people appear to have no minds and seem untreatable. There condition appears to have been caused by exposure to a combination of extreme nuclear radiation and a specific unknown electro-magnetic radiation. They are very violent if confronted but basically docile most of the time.

9. January 2007, gaps appear to have grown in areas that were previously impassable. Scouts, volunteers all, entered the area beyond the Red Forest and return with news of strange buildings, Monolith troop movements, strange creatures and an abundance of artefacts.

Recommendation:

Scientists from the Command Post at Vyshhorod have pointed out that an experimental station five miles to the North East of the Red Forest and is situated two miles from the east bank of the Prypiat River. This station is designated Town 32. They wish to establish a research station at Town 32 and investigate the anomalies of the Zone, the Creatures and the possibility of curing those afflicted with “Zombism”. It is my recommendation that a force of eight specially adapted vehicles, two BTR-94s and six BTR-152s (three to be used as equipment carriers) with a combined force of eighty men, some seventy troops and ten scientist. I would also like to request the hiring of three Stalkers at the Cordon Village to act as guides: these men have had more time in-Zone than any other men at my command and could mean the difference between success or failure of the mission.

Conclusion:

• A force of eighty troops and scientists to be sent into the Zone beyond the previous “line of death” at the Red Forest.
• The establishment of a research base at Town 32.
• Hiring of three Stalkers to act as guides.

Addendum:

On Monday, 17th April 2006 high altitude flyovers and satellite photographs confirm that something other than an ecological disaster had occurred. Prypiat City and other geographical locations appear to have changed positions. Prypiat is now south of the NPP, another city we are calling “Limansk” has appeared and the lake that serviced the NPP with water has vanished. Scientists attached to the local Military Forces claim that it appears the local space-time continuum may have fractured. They claim that we could now have an alternative Chernobyl area, from a Parallel Time Line. Personally I think that they do not know what they are talking about and are making it up as they go along.

Part 1 – Descent In To Hell

Eight armoured vehicles powered up the main highway that ran through the Cordon. They slowed to a crawl at the first roadblock at the fence that surrounded the Exclusion Zone. An arm from an armoured bunker waved them through the raised barrier; they had already been cleared in advance. They sped up and came to a complete stop about a mile further down the road when they came to the first military outpost on the road, Outpost 12. The convoy’s commanding officer, Major Andriy Kuznetsov exited from the lead BTR and walked in to Outpost 12’s main building swapping salutes with subordinates and smiles with various officers he recognised from other commands. Finally he stood in front of the Outpost commanding officer, Major Oleksy Viktorych.

They exchanges salutes and both sat down grinning like a pair of schoolboys.

‘Andriy,’ the Outpost Major said grinning from ear to ear.

‘Lyosha,’ Major Kuznetsov replied.

Oleksy pulled two small glasses and a bottle of expensive Russian Standard Imperia Vodka. ‘The good stuff,’ he muttered as he filled the glasses. ‘Bud’mo!’

‘Bud’mo!’ Andriy lifted his glass and downed the vodka in one go. Oleksy filled the glasses again and sat back and stared at his friend.

‘So what the fuck are you doing in my Zone?’ Andriy thought his friend sounded angry. Maybe I should have sent him a message to let him know I was coming, he thought. But that would have broached security and someone else would have been sent. He sipped from his freshly filled glass.

‘Sorry I didn’t let you know I was coming. You know what security is like. However, I’m afraid now I’m here I still can’t tell you what’s going on.’ He watched as his friends scowl softened in to a knowing grimace. Both of them had had plenty of experience with modern bureaucracy, especially since Oleksy had become the head of an outpost inside the Exclusion Zone. ‘All I can say is we’re heading north by north west across the Prypiat River, and we’ll be gone several weeks, if not longer.’ Oleksy nodded. He downed his glass of vodka and turned to look at the map of the Exclusion Zone he had pinned to a large movable board and guessed at the general area his oldest friend would be going to.

‘All the way into Hell, hey? I guess the reports from the Stalkers about passages into the heart of the Zone are correct.’ He didn’t bother looking at his friend for confirmation as he knew he wouldn’t get any.

‘Here’s a copy of my orders giving me permission to enter the Zone, and here’s a copy of my orders to hire three Stalkers to act as guides.’

‘Oh!’ Andriy was surprised to see his friends face suddenly grow confused and worried at the same time, it was a combination he wasn’t used to seeing on him: his face finally settled on disgust. Although he hadn’t seen his friend in over five years he still thought he knew him better than anyone else.

‘You don’t approve?’ He asked.

‘What? Oh, no. It’s not my place to approve or disapprove. I know it was probably not your decision. But, to be honest you don’t know what Stalkers are like. Insane every single one of them. You have to be to want to be here in the first place.’

‘You’re here and you’re as sane as I am!’

‘Well yes, but we were both ordered here. Stalkers,’ Oleksy managed to put a lot of venom in to the word, ‘they’re undisciplined, anarchistic, free-loading, looters who are only here in the hopes of making a fast-buck. None of them are loyal to the Ukraine, they’re just out for themselves and can’t be trusted. I miss the old days when I could shoot them on sight.’ Andriy was surprised at the last statement. He friend had never been that bloodthirsty before. So maybe it was right that the Zone changed you.

‘You’re probably right. But, not only have they got more experience and knowledge of the Zone than anyone else, they may actually have specialist knowledge of the area we’re heading for.’ Andriy explained.

‘Fair enough; I’ll radio ahead to Sidorovich – he’s the local trader – and he can see if any Stalkers in the Village are willing to act as guide. Now, more vodka!’


The Village that Major Oleksy Viktoych mentioned was about two miles further north from Outpost 12. The convoy pulled up the hill that the main road climbed and slowly came to stop just before the turn off to the Village, which sat in a depression just off the left side of the road. Andriy’s BTR pulled off the road on to the side road, which was nothing more than a dirt track really, and powered down the road into the Village. The whine of its diesel engine loud in the still quiet of mid-morning. Andriy stared out of the window of the vehicle appraising the ruined buildings that lined the dirty road. He saw smashed roofs and walls, homes with no windows, even completely missing walls: smashed fences and missing front-doors. He saw Stalkers sat around makeshift fires inside the ruined buildings, or lounging around outside next to quarter-drum fires. Stalkers sentries at each end of the village kept their Kalashnikov’s at the ready, suspicion written clearly on their faces. Andriy even noticed a few rifles aimed at the convoy on the main road, the Stalkers who carried the weapons were hidden in the broken roofs of the ruined buildings. He didn’t know what his friend was on about but these people definitely looked organised.

Sidorovich’s trading bunker was just a little west of the Village and the BTR pulled up just passed the Villages last sentry. Andriy climbed out of the vehicle and stretched his legs, hoping that the fresh air would help counteract the half bottle of vodka he and Lyosha had consumed back at Outpost 12.

He could see some Stalkers huddled around a fire eating out of tins, or cutting strips of meat off some sort of animal that was being spit-roasted over their fire.

‘Have you noticed, Andriy, that there’s no birds, no animals. I’m from the Crimea and I’m used to countryside like this being filled with animal noises. It’s not natural.’ Andriy had been joined by his second in command, Captain Serhiy Vasilych.

‘I noticed Seryozha, and it makes you wonder what they’re eating over there.’ The Major said as he pointed to the Stalkers eating from the spit-roasted animal. Serhiy smiled and twisted his face in false disgust. ‘Which reminds me, we do have three weeks full rations before we have to start on field rations don’t we?’

‘That’s correct, sir.’ Serhiy confirmed still smiling.

‘Right then we had better go meet this Sidorovich.’


The file that Andriy had been given concerning the Zone was quite extensive and including files on all the major personalities, including the major factions that seemed to be rising in the Zone: Duty – mutineers and deserters from the army; Freedom, Stalkers who wanted the Zone opened to everybody; and Clear Sky, who appeared to be a collection of scientists and like-minded Stalkers who wanted to study the Zone – Clear Sky also claimed that the Zone was expanding.

The file also included extensive information on a small time criminal, and one time businessman, who acted as a trader for the Stalkers, he went by the name Sidorovich, but it was well known that that was not his real name. Sidorovich was typical of many business men; he was middle aged, short, fat and balding. He was a Russian from Novgorod who had had a business supplying Russian tourists with supplies for outdoor pursuits, hitchhiking, rock climbing, etcetera, who did some arms smuggling on the side. When his contacts informed him that the Novgorod authorities were investigating him for his less legal activities he used his contacts in the Ukrainian Military to have himself smuggled into the Exclusion Zone. He set himself up as a trader and using the same military contacts smuggled in food and weapons for Stalkers. He smuggled out artefacts, either to unscrupulous Western Corporations who wished to study and exploit the exotic substances found in the Zone or to the Ukrainian Government itself, and he arranged for Stalkers to be smuggled out once they had grown too sick of the Zone. He fancied himself as an entrepreneur and humanitarian, he was really just a money grabbing, slimy, small-time gangster.

Andriy introduced himself and Serhiy and got down to business as soon as possible.

‘We’re not here to negotiate Mr Sidorovich; we have a flat fee for anyone interested in helping the Ukrainian Government. As my colleague Major Viktorych told you on the radio we are heading deep in to the Zone somewhere to the North East of here. So we require three guides, preferably with extensive field experience, and if they have experience of the general area east of the NPP it would be a bonus.’

Sidorovich looked at the two officers in there clean, new Zone Field Suits. Part of his mind was calculating how much he could sell the suits for as they looked better than the ones the Stalkers themselves were manufacturing, obviously not as good as the SEVA suits from Kiev, that were starting to trickle thorough his network of contacts, but they were hideously expensive. The rest of his mind was calculating how much he could skim off the top. He thought if he could skim enough he could expand his sphere of influence. He had a friend in the Quarter Masters Office who wanted to get out of the Army and he saw the amount of money that Sidorovich was managing to pull out of the Zone. Sidorovich suggested a great place to set-up another trading spot would be the old factory complex in Rostock just north of the Garbage, but it had to have the bandits and mutants cleared out first. With enough money he could pay Duty to go in and clear the place up. He suddenly realised that he had been thinking too long.

‘I’m sorry I was miles away.’ He apologised to the officer who had spoken. ‘I have three volunteers for you, two are perfect, Konstantin has extensive knowledge of the Zone from here to the Red Forrest, and Yuriy has excellent experience from here to the River in the east. They would be happy to act as guides for you for a good price.’

‘And the third?’ Andriy asked. He already disliked this fat man behind his desk, inside his little cage. He was nothing more than a horse trader, a dealer in flesh. He started to understand his old friend more now, if the Zone attracted men like this then shooting them was all they deserved. But the political cost to the government would be too great.

‘He says he’ll go for food and water only. He’s been here longer than most of us and doesn’t really care that much for money. He’s called Pyotr! All three should be waiting outside by now. Now all we have to agree on is my finder’s fee.’


Andriy couldn’t help but feel dirty when he can back up to the surface after being inside Sidorovich’s bunker. He felt he had just been dickering over cattle with an unscrupulous salesman. He breathed deeply when reaching the surface and shook his head to help clean out the wooliness he had felt filling it while he’d been speaking to Sidorovich. Odious little man, he thought, shooting would be too good for him. Then he saw the three Stalkers who had agreed to be his guides.

Konstantin was a giant at six and a half feet and about three feet wide. He was solidly built and had a gregarious grin on his face. He was already chatting with the BTR’s driver and Serhiy, and they both laughing raucously. He was dressed much like all the other Stalkers in worn hiking boots, a thick waterproof jacket that had seen better days and tough jeans. He carried an old AKS-74U like many of the other Stalkers they had seen in the village. It looked like Sidorovich had definitely kept up with his old contacts.

Yuriy was just under six feet tall and was dressed much the same as Konstantin, the only thing that differed really was the colour of their clothes. Yuriy was armed with a Remington Tactical shotgun and a very battered H&K MP-5. He stood next to Konstantin and listened and smiled when Konstantin joked. Unlike Konstantin who was concentrating on making friends Yuriy’s eyes were constantly moving about noticing details, checking the horizon and the general area. He nodded to the Major when he emerged from the bunker.

Pyotr was sat at the back of the BTR resting against its rear tire. He was dressed completely differently to the other two Stalkers. He wore a one piece green uniform that appeared to have armoured pieces sown into the legs, arms and chest. Further padding and armour plates appeared to be attached to an integrated vest. He was sat cross-legged and an AK-108, a firearm that hadn’t been issued to Ukrainian troops yet, lay across his legs. He sat reading a book that was propped against the rifle.

‘So you three are my new Stalker Guides?’ The Major said in the general direction of the three guides. Konstantin nodded; Andriy hoped he wasn’t as dumb as he looked. Yuriy made a vague head flick which could have been a nod, and Pyotr stood up and stared at the Major.

‘We get paid for a job,’ he said flatly. ‘We aren’t owned by anyone.’

‘Fair enough,’ Andriy replied, there’s no point in arguing semantics. ‘Right, you’ll be riding with me in the BTR and I’m afraid you’ll have to leave you weapons here. My troops won’t be happy with armed Stalkers in their midst.’ Konstantin looked confused and Yuriy began unloading his shotgun. Pyotr laughed.

‘Then we don’t go anywhere. No offence Major but we don’t trust you and your men any more than you trust us. And I’d rather put my life in the hands of these two Stalkers than any of your men. No guns no go! Are we clear?’

‘Very well,’ Andriy didn’t think they would just turn over their weapons, but it was worth a try. ‘I’ll tell my men that you will be armed and that you are to be treated as officers. Good enough?’ Pyotr smiled and nodded.

‘Very smooth Andriy,’ Serhiy said as the Major walked towards him. ‘Very smooth.’

‘Shut up Serhiy or you’ll be pulling the graveyard shift for the next month.’

‘Yes, Sir! Comrade Major, Sir!’ Serhiy said quite loudly as he pulled himself up into a parody of a parade salute.

‘Let’s get going.’ Andriy said as he climbed into the armoured vehicle.


The BTR rejoined the convoy and the drove North until they came to old bus stop at the side of the road. A dirt track turned east, descending in the Cordon Valley and up the valley’s sides to a tunnel about a mile distant. A small garage straddled the dirt road which was occupied by two squads of Special Forces. Unofficially this was called Outpost 12b and was merely a base used by long distance patrols, or at least that is what was written in the reports that Major had been given. As the convoy slowly drove through the garage they weren’t stopped, no one checked their papers. However, Andriy could see a single SF sat on a flat roof overlooking the road. He was watching the convoy drive past, covering them with a mounted RPK. Andriy wasn’t sure but it made him feel like they were making sure that the convoy wasn’t welcome.

Andriy looked at Serhiy and he guessed that the look of utter joy at finally being in the zone was mirrored on his own face. They were finally here and about to face anything they Zone could throw at them. They were no longer sat at the Gates of Hell. They were starting the descent.


After Outpost 12b the road climbed the steep east side of Cordon Valley and disappeared into a hill via a tunnel that turned to the south east. After the tunnel the dirt road connected with the Dark Valley road which had headed due south of the valley and then turned east and south east. It was after they reached the end of the curving section of road that both Konstantin and Yuriy told the driver to stop the BTR. The message was passed instantly along the length of the convoy and they quickly pulled off the road. The road was running directly south again and ran for about half a mile until it reached a bridge across the Prypiat River.

All three Stalkers got out of the BTR followed by Andriy and Serhiy. Pyotr climbed on top of the BTR and made himself comfortable on top of the gun turret. He watched as Konstantin pulled some rusty bolts out of his pockets. Andriy hadn’t seen anything to indicate that they were about to drive in to a problem. He scanned the road ahead and still couldn’t see anything.

‘Last time I came through here the place was almost impassable. Wall-to-wall anomalies for almost the entire length of the road.’ Yuriy said.

‘I don’t see anything untoward,’ Serhiy said. Thank god for that, Andriy thought. He was beginning to think his eyes were going and if his younger subordinate couldn’t see anything then his eyesight couldn’t be that bad. Yuriy nodded to his taller friend who took a single bolt and threw it ahead of himself as hard and as fast as he could. It reached about twenty feet down the road before the road exploded into flame. A jet about eight feet in height seemed to appear as if from nowhere.

‘Well fuck me!’ Serhiy exclaimed.

‘This is going to be a lot more difficult than I first thought,’ the Major said to no one in particular. ‘Yuriy can you find us a way through?’

‘Of course, the anomaly field appears to have dissipated in the last week or so. There should be a way through. It’s just going to take time to find a path.’ He and Konstantin started moving about and throwing bolts, rocks or whatever came to hand to find a save path way along the six miles of road. The convoy took about six hours to travel the whole six miles and finally came to the bridge by six o’clock that evening. They parked the eight vehicles at a large enough flat, anomaly clear space just before the edge of the bank of the river. The Major decided that there was little point in travelling too much further. He ordered everyone to eat ration packs and to stay inside their vehicles. He got out of his BTR and found Pyotr say away from the parked convoy. He was staring out across the river and down the length of the bridge.

‘Don’t worry there’s nothing along the bridge to slow us down,’ Pyotr said when the Major got close enough.

‘I didn’t see you helping in finding a clear path here,’ it was a statement that was trying to be a subtle question and failed miserably. Pyotr grinned up at the Major. Damn as there no way to make this man angry, Andriy thought.

‘Too many cooks, Major. I would just have been in the way. Anyway once we cross the river I’ll be earning the money you’re not paying me. I’ve been there; well I’ve been on the east bank before just not quite this far north.’

‘What will we find there?’ The Major asked.

‘Not to sound too corny but Death, Major. Only Death in all its many varieties. I seriously doubt anyone but a Stalker is going to make it back to the Cordon. And to be brutally honest I doubt even us Stalkers are going to make it back alive.’

The Major was unsure if he should be annoyed with the obvious arrogance of the man, or seriously worried that this experienced Stalker, a man who had spent the last six months surviving, and obviously flourishing, in the Zone thought they were all going to die.

They crossed the bridge and hour later and made camp for the night in a large field a mile from the bridge on the east bank. The Major finally allowed his troops and scientists out of their vehicles. He set-up a clear perimeter using the vehicles and some of the razor wire they had brought with them. He didn’t think anyone was going to get a good night’s sleep that night.


Part 2 – The Calm Before the Storm

Mission Log: Major Andriy Leonidovich Kuznetsov

Day 4: 20:38

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to keep this log up to date. And I’m afraid that this will only be a short recap of the last three days.

We reached Town-32 at 13:00 hrs on the second day in Zone. Although we have only travelled fifty kilometres as the crow flies roads very rarely go straight in this country. We also had to make many stops since we crossed the river. Two stops because of anomaly fields: one burner field that stretched two miles, and a field of what the Stalkers called ‘whirligigs’. The whirligigs can range up to five meters in diameter and appear as nothing more than dust-devils; however, as soon as something enters them they speed up to tremendous speeds, can lift a man to about three or four meters and then they explode. We saw it demonstrated when a boar (which is nothing more than a huge mutated wild pig) stumbled into one. Pyotr explained the easiest way to spot a whirligig was to look for the rotting bits of carcases around the perimeter.

The men have really taken to the three Stalkers. Their abilities here in not only keeping us out of trouble with anomalies but find edible wild game, and their natural tendencies to be marksmen has won the hearts of my soldiers. The Scientists have a begrudging admiration for anyone who would brave fields of radioactivity and anomalies to find artefacts.

We also had to stop when the convoy was attacked by a pack of pseudodogs. These animals are as big as wolves, are sleek, vicious and intelligent. They can leapt at a man from over six meters away and a single bite can take a man’s head off. The worse thing about them is that they can project an illusionary version of themselves that appears to attack almost independently of the real animal. I’m afraid to report that I lost five men due these animals. Pyotr showed his skill and daring when he tracked down and killed all the animals that killed my men. I’m almost afraid that when we leave this assignment half my men will desert and become Stalkers themselves.


The main camp was ready by 02:00 on Day 3. We have power supplied by one of the diesel engine of one the BTR-152’s. The entire town now has electricity again. At 08:00 on day three the Stalkers took out three man teams to track down and capture some of the animals that the Scientists wish to study: so far we have two blind-dogs, a single pseudodog (it’s a juvenile and can’t project an illusionary image), four rodents (very large rats like creatures). The Scientists have been promised a boar and a Zombie for their cages by the end of Day 5.


The stockade around the village has nearly been completed and will be finished by this time tomorrow. I will be able to keep a twenty-four guard on strategic positions and the arc-lights on the BTR’s have been rigged up on tall poles so that we can illuminate the surrounding countryside if necessary. I am confident that we can keep this place safe and secure for the three weeks we will be here.

Day 5: 19:14

We lost one of the scientists today. The man was stupid enough to get in the cage with the zombie that the Stalkers brought back this morning. The zombie had a military uniform and his name tag said he was Syrotenko. According to our database he was one of the Special Forces scouts that were sent to investigate the reports of there being gaps into the centre of the Zone. The dead scientist, Bessarab, thought that he got an immediate reaction for the zombie when his name was mentioned. The zombie actually backed away from its cage door. Bessarab thought this meant that there was a glimmer of intelligence, opened the door and the zombie had him by the throat almost instantly. By the time the guards got to him Bessarab was dead. Oddly the zombie then lost all interest in the corpse. I suppose we have all been fed on a diet of American films where zombies just want to eat people’s flesh or brains. Apparently not! The zombie will eat rodents, cooked food, or anything other “normal” human food they are presented with. I have ordered that the zombie is to be taken away from the camp and shot. I have also ordered that any other soldiers seen in a similar condition are also to be shot on sight. The Stalkers say they have no problems catching zombified Stalkers for the scientists to experiment on. I asked Pyotr why this was, all he said was that any Stalker caught near the Brain Scorchers or staying too long in a radiation field deserved what they got. He said they should have known better. The other two Stalkers agreed with him. I’m not sure if any of my men could feel so callous about the suffering of another person. Konstantin laughed at this and said in his thick Caucasus accent that, “there was no left to suffer”.

All security requirements are now in place. We are now as secure as we can.


Part 3 - “All hope abandon, ye that enter in!”

Anton looked up from the microscope and massaged the bridge of his nose. He was going cell-blind he was that tired. He’d been staring at cells cultured from blinddogs all day and he still couldn’t see anything in their cells that would allow them to resist radiation and certain anomalies. Horoliuk would be pleased. He had guessed that it must be something in the animals DNA that gave them their abilities to survive. Anton stood up and stretched his back muscles and watched Ivan through the plastic partition that separated the halves of the lab. Ivan was busy dissecting what the Stalkers had called a “snork”. Someone had written a few lines from Carroll’s Hunting Of The Snark on the creatures toe tag:

He had softly and suddenly vanished away
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see

The odd thing was that Anton had found out that it had been written by a Senior Soldier, not a scientist as he had originally thought. He wasn’t sure what he had been more surprised at, the possibility of a scientist on this mission with a sense of humour or a classically educated soldier.

Anton walked over to the plastic wall and stared at the face of the snork. Here was a very strange creature indeed. According to autopsy results, which Ivan was confirming now, and DNA scans this creature was human, or at least related to humans, more closely related than apes, but still not quite Homo sapiens sapiens: more like Homo sapien degenertus, damn that wasn’t even real Latin – I can’t remember what it should be called, Anton quietly thought to himself, the Zone was starting to affect him now. The snork ran around on all fours, could jump a tremendous distance, were extremely aggressive and their faces were a strange combination of a snorkelled gasmask and lipless animal with a mouthful of small sharp teeth. There was no real idea how these animals could have evolved, or devolved so quickly, especially as they appeared to be wearing what was left of military combat uniform. It was of the many mysteries that the Zone had been throwing at them daily since they had entered here.

Of course the snork had given fuel for Horoliuk’s theory, he was the head researcher. He claimed that the Zone was a manifestation of “cross dimensional contamination”. Of course it was a wholly improvable, unsubstantiated theory that he had been spouting since before the mission to Town 32 had even been proposed. He said that the original incident back in eighty-six had managed to seriously weaken the walls between dimensions, that the area was already a place where the walls between the dimensions were thin, and that the incident last year just tore a hole through to another reality. Of course if does explain why the geography here within the Zone was different than the maps said it should be.

Anton had enough of the lab for the day and needed some air.

‘To the devil with devil dogs and devil men,’ he said loudly to the air as he practically ripped off his lab coat. ‘I need a drink. I hope those soldiers have got that damn still working right,’ and he stormed out of the lab. Ivan took no notice of him; he though Anton was too highly strung and paying him attention would only encourage him.

Anton took deep breaths as soon as he was out of the lab and in the fresh air. The lab was nothing more than a sealed environment created inside one of the low barns that dotted the village that was called Town 32. He stretched again and turned and headed towards the soldiers barracks to see about a nice drink of moonshine vodka. It didn’t surprise him that the soldiers here knew enough chemistry to create a still; he suspected that it was one of those skills that all soldiers had as an innate ability. As he crossed the main street he glanced at the main gate and noticed that the latest patrol had brought back another specimen. This was one causing some commotion. All thoughts of booze vanished from his head and he sidled up to the front gate to get a look.

The four man patrol had brought in something roughly man-sized and shaped. Yet, there was no way this thing could have been a man.

‘...ook two full mags before it stopped trying to grab me.’ One of the soldiers was saying. ‘But it didn’t go down until we pumped another two mags into it. Damn thing was hard to stop.’ Anton got a good look at it: it was bi-pedal and appeared to be wearing trousers; it had two arms, no neck, a head and that was were all resemblance to humanity stopped. Its torso was a mass of twisted muscles and its skin was a sickly yellow. It face was also disfigured, with ropes of skin and muscle swathing where the neck should have been, and covering the lower part of the jaw. It was bald and the head was swollen at the rear. Of course the whole body was riddled with bullets; one of the arms had nearly been detached by gun fire.

‘You will all die!’ Anton looked about for the voice he had heard, and noticed that no one else had heard it. Then the eyes of the deformed corpse opened and it smiled directly at Anton.

‘Holy Christ,’ he screamed. ‘It’s still alive.’ He back away knocking people out of the way. He grabbed a pistol out of a soldier’s hostel and turned to shoot the horror. But it was dead. He could see that. He looked up and everyone was staring at him. They looked scared of him! Couldn’t they see it had moved!

‘We need to burn it!’ It was Pyotr’s voice. Anton turned to see the Stalker striding towards the gathered crowd. ‘It has friends and they seem to be near.’ He walked up to Anton and took the pistol out of the scientist’s hands. ‘Don’t worry, it didn’t happen.’ He said quietly to Anton and put a warm hand on the man’s shoulder. ‘It didn’t happen!’ He said again. Anton nodded and back away. Pytor watched as the scientist ran towards the scientists barracks.

Pytor turned to the nearest Master Sergeant and told him to go get the Major. The soldier nodded and ran off. When the Major turned up two minutes later Pytor took him to one side.

‘It’s a Controller,’ he said.

‘What’s one of them?’ The Major asked.

‘Some sort of experiment in mind control that went wrong and escaped from the deep labs when the Second Incident took place. They can rip the mind right out of you and turn you into a mindless zombie. They can make you see anything they want and eventually do what you want.

‘Snakes, snakes everywhere,’ was suddenly screamed by a guard up in one of the towers. He began firing his rifle at the ground and then he screamed in agony. He must have shot himself in the leg.

‘This is only the beginning,’ Pytor told the Major. ‘We have two chances, and three choices.’

‘What are our choices?’ The Major asked knowing that he didn’t really want to know.

‘We can decide to kill them, leave or die!’

‘And the chances?’

‘We stay and we die, we go and we live. It’s that simple. If there’s not too many then we might get out without too many casualties. But we have to go now.’

‘It’ll take about two hours to get the specimens and computers together and packed up.’ The Major said.

‘Major we don’t have fifteen minutes.’ Pytor pointed towards the barracks. Two men had just dropped into sitting positions. They removed their helmets and smiled at each other as the pulled their service pistols out. The raised them directly at each other and fired. They both died smiling. The Major began shouting orders but no one was listening. Men were screaming and running about.

‘It’s too late Andriy,’ Pytor said. ‘Get into your billet and stay there. Let’s hope they lose interest with us.’
  06:13:54  29 June 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
 

Message edited by:
Racemate
06/29/2009 12:59:05
Messages: 1252
Hi,

Finally, found a bit time to read.

- Why did you give the convoy so old vehicle BTR-94s and BTR-152s? They are after WWII time vehicles. I believe military were using more modern vehicles by 2006.

- "Addendum" sounds amusingly, but still fine.

- ‘Bud’mo!’ is perfect. Where did you find it?

- yeah, the way is more clear now.

That's it so far.

edit:

Major Oleksy Viktorych sounds a bit complicated.

First name is Oleksiy (Ukrainian), or Alexei/Alexey (Russian). Victorych sounds like short form for second name Victorovych (UKR), or Victorovich (RU) in an informal addressing to someone. If so it cannot be used with a rank, and in narrative, but in a personal addressing to someone only.

The same with Captain Serhiy Vasilych

Is that useful?

edit2:

I've finished that. So, it becomes quite interesting.
There's something not very smooth with ending. Let us see how it's gonna be continued.
  12:54:02  29 June 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
 

Message edited by:
Danlo
06/29/2009 12:56:38
Messages: 5198

---QUOTATION---
Hi,

Finally, found a bit time to read.

- Why did you give the convoy so old vehicle BTR-94s and BTR-152s? They are after WWII time vehicles. I believe military were using more modern vehicles by 2006.

- "Addendum" sounds amusingly, but still fine.

- ‘Bud’mo!’ is perfect. Where did you find it?

- yeah, the way is more clear now.

That's it so far.

edit:

Major Oleksy Viktorych sounds a bit complicated.

First name is Oleksiy (Ukrainian), or Alexei/Alexey (Russian). Victorych sounds like short form for second name Victorovych (UKR), or Victorovich (RU) in an informal addressing to someone. If so it cannot be used with a rank, and in narrative, but in a personal addressing to someone only.

The same with Captain Serhiy Vasilych

Is that useful?
---END QUOTATION---



actually according to my source material the BTR's are modern and used inthe Ukrainian army now

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTR-94

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTR-152

also the 94 is amphibous which I'll need when they come back across the Prypiat

thanks for the names - i was never sure about the informal/personal versions of the name as I can never find the right ones for all the names .

Addendum? I assume a word you not come across before? Of course I've never seen offical Ukrainian documents so I wrote it they way someone here would have done - addendums are typical for adding stuff that may not have been needed in the full text - I also couldn't see a good place to insert into the main body of the report without ruining the flow.
  13:40:29  29 June 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
 

Message edited by:
Racemate
06/29/2009 13:43:19
Messages: 1252

---QUOTATION---
actually according to my source material the BTR's are modern and used inthe Ukrainian army now

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTR-94

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTR-152

also the 94 is amphibous which I'll need when they come back across the Prypiat
---END QUOTATION---



Hey, you posted just before I added edit2 to previous post.

Well, I agreed with BTR-94, but not with BTR-152. It's history now.

Probably it's more real to use in the story this one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTR-80

and add some tracks since it's convoy, there should be a lot of equipment:

http://www.armyrecognition.com/Russe/VTTV_Omsk_2003_Pictures_Gallery/Ural_Truck_VTTV_Omsk_2003_Pictures_Russia_01.jpg

or choose something from here:

http://www.armyrecognition.com/Russe/VTTV_Omsk_2003_Pictures_Gallery/VTTV_Omsk_2003_Pictures_Gallery.htm

like this one:

http://www.armyrecognition.com/Russe/VTTV_Omsk_2003_Pictures_Gallery/KAMAZ_Truck_VTTV_Omsk_2003_Pictures_Russia_01.jpg



---QUOTATION---
thanks for the names - i was never sure about the informal/personal versions of the name as I can never find the right ones for all the names .
---END QUOTATION---



Have you seen my message in your e-mail about names?

You can also use these sites:

http://www.behindthename.com/nmc/ukr.php

http://www.behindthename.com/nmc/rus.php

If you need any kind of assistance I'd be glad to help.


---QUOTATION---
Addendum? I assume a word you not come across before? Of course I've never seen offical Ukrainian documents so I wrote it they way someone here would have done - addendums are typical for adding stuff that may not have been needed in the full text - I also couldn't see a good place to insert into the main body of the report without ruining the flow.
---END QUOTATION---



Sorry for inaccuracy in choosing words. I meant the text of the Addendum.
It changed story so unexpectedly, that it seemed to me amusing a bit.
  13:50:09  29 June 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
 

Message edited by:
Danlo
06/29/2009 13:52:42
Messages: 5198
I wanted to put something about the changed geopgraphy - but I think I might cut it and put it in the Major's diary section - it might fit better there.

And I'm liking the look of the Kamaz Truck - first one with armoured cab at the back. the reason I went with the 152's is the number of people they carry and its armour - but from the looks of it the Ukraine don't use them anymore.

The ending of the section so far is a bit ragged I agree - but its the first draft for the that section. I'm a little unhappy with the last couple of paragraphs so I'll be working on them.

And I'm pretty thankful for your help so far mate - and the encouragement
  14:50:50  29 June 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
 

Message edited by:
Racemate
06/29/2009 14:52:04
Messages: 1252

---QUOTATION---
I wanted to put something about the changed geopgraphy - but I think I might cut it and put it in the Major's diary section - it might fit better there.
---END QUOTATION---



On Monday, 17th April 2006 high altitude flyovers and satellite photographs confirm that something other than an ecological disaster had occurred.

it sounds pretty cool too.

On the other hand, since

...Scientists attached to the local Military Forces claim that it appears the local space-time continuum may have fractured. They claim that we could now have an alternative Chernobyl area, from a Parallel Time Line....

the area could have been changing permanently.

Also it allows to run the story any direction, but, in my opinion, a scientist fiction is not the best choice here.


---QUOTATION---
And I'm liking the look of the Kamaz Truck - first one with armoured cab at the back. the reason I went with the 152's is the number of people they carry and its armour - but from the looks of it the Ukraine don't use them anymore.
---END QUOTATION---



Since both type of vehicles, armed BTRs and trucks, would be supplement each other the convoy would be usefully and practically completed.


---QUOTATION---
The ending of the section so far is a bit ragged I agree - but its the first draft for the that section. I'm a little unhappy with the last couple of paragraphs so I'll be working on them.
---END QUOTATION---



It sounds promising. I like your attempting to reach the best.


---QUOTATION---
And I'm pretty thankful for your help so far mate - and the encouragement
---END QUOTATION---



No problem. Thank you.
  16:28:02  29 June 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
 

Message edited by:
Danlo
06/29/2009 16:33:50
Messages: 5198

---QUOTATION---

On Monday, 17th April 2006 high altitude flyovers and satellite photographs confirm that something other than an ecological disaster had occurred.

it sounds pretty cool too.

On the other hand, since

...Scientists attached to the local Military Forces claim that it appears the local space-time continuum may have fractured. They claim that we could now have an alternative Chernobyl area, from a Parallel Time Line....

the area could have been changing permanently.

---END QUOTATION---



Yeah I think I was trying to put too much in - I can add the first bit to the original report and the rest I put in further on.


Edit: Spetnaz? are the SF in Ukraine still called that or are they called something else - I couldn't find any reference to a specific name for Ukrainian SF other than the Marines.
  22:06:35  29 June 2009
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QuaNTuMbenxh
Albanian Monsteя!
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On forum: 10/05/2008
Messages: 918

---QUOTATION---

On Monday, 17th April 2006 high altitude flyovers and satellite photographs confirm that something other than an ecological disaster had occurred.

it sounds pretty cool too.

On the other hand, since

...Scientists attached to the local Military Forces claim that it appears the local space-time continuum may have fractured. They claim that we could now have an alternative Chernobyl area, from a Parallel Time Line....

the area could have been changing permanently.


Yeah I think I was trying to put too much in - I can add the first bit to the original report and the rest I put in further on.


Edit: Spetnaz? are the SF in Ukraine still called that or are they called something else - I couldn't find any reference to a specific name for Ukrainian SF other than the Marines.
---END QUOTATION---



Yeah its Spetnaz I think lol...
  12:08:28  30 June 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
Messages: 1252

---QUOTATION---
Edit: Spetnaz? are the SF in Ukraine still called that or are they called something else - I couldn't find any reference to a specific name for Ukrainian SF other than the Marines.
---END QUOTATION---



From what I've found through the inet it's named in general Security Service of Ukraine - Ukrainian Special Forces. They are also named as Ukrainian Special (Forces) unit Alpha. So, nothing special.

Look at these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avTezYzhxqY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBGJ7t3Aa2g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZJmozbXyPY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LqMIl6Lp7o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVhrz3GSld0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xQmd6kJrMM

there's link to Ukrainian Armed Forces:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC8Y7S3J-q8

and Special forces unit of Ukrainian internal troops - OMEGA. It relates mostly to police:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TXqSYmmVcY

Regarding the weapons. It would be cool to see in the story this one. It's pretty gruesome and effective. Russians used it successfully in Afghanistan:

http://world.guns.ru/grenade/gl48-e.htm

By the way, forgot to mention. This part:

‘...ook two full mags before it stopped trying to grab me.’ One of the soldiers was saying. ‘But it didn’t go down until we pumped another two mags into it. Damn thing was hard to stop.’ Anton got a good look at it: it was bi-pedal and appeared to be wearing trousers; it had two arms, no neck, a head and that was were all resemblance to humanity stopped. Its torso was a mass of twisted muscles and its skin was a sickly yellow. It face was also disfigured, with ropes of skin and muscle swathing where the neck should have been, and covering the lower part of the jaw. It was bald and the head was swollen at the rear. Of course the whole body was riddled with bullets; one of the arms had nearly been detached by gun fire.

‘You will all die!’ Anton looked about for the voice he had heard, and noticed that no one else had heard it. Then the eyes of the deformed corpse opened and it smiled directly at Anton.


This is really mind-blowing. It's awesome.
  16:14:52  30 June 2009
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hhiker
off to new worlds
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On forum: 10/31/2008
Messages: 4290
Whoa.. with all the technical and linguistic discussion here i didn't notice the next piece of the story has arrived...
I like where this is going
  19:46:14  5 July 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
 

Message edited by:
Danlo
07/05/2009 19:48:04
Messages: 5198
Part 3 - revised and completed

Part 3 - “All hope abandon, ye that enter in!”

Anton looked up from the microscope and massaged the bridge of his nose. He was going cell-blind he was that tired. He’d been staring at cells cultured from blinddogs all day and he still couldn’t see anything in their cells that would allow them to resist radiation and certain anomalies. Horoliuk would be pleased. He had guessed that it must be something in the animals DNA that gave them their abilities to survive. Anton stood up and stretched his back muscles and watched Ivan through the plastic partition that separated the halves of the lab. Ivan was busy dissecting what the Stalkers had called a “snork”. Someone had written a few lines from Carroll’s Hunting Of The Snark on the creatures toe tag:

He had softly and suddenly vanished away
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see

The odd thing was that Anton had found out that it had been written by a Senior Soldier, not a scientist as he had originally thought. He wasn’t sure what he had been more surprised at, the possibility of a scientist on this mission with a sense of humour or a classically educated soldier.

Anton walked over to the plastic wall and stared at the face of the snork. Here was a very strange creature indeed. According to autopsy results, which Ivan was confirming now, and DNA scans this creature was human, or at least related to humans, more closely related than apes, but still not quite Homo sapiens sapiens: more like Homo sapien degenertus, damn that wasn’t even real Latin – I can’t remember what it should be called, Anton quietly thought to himself, the Zone was starting to affect him now. The snork ran around on all fours, could jump a tremendous distance, were extremely aggressive and their faces were a strange combination of a snorkelled gasmask and lipless animal with a mouthful of small sharp teeth. There was no real idea how these animals could have evolved, or devolved so quickly, especially as they appeared to be wearing what was left of military combat uniform. It was of the many mysteries that the Zone had been throwing at them daily since they had entered here.

Of course the snork had given fuel for Horoliuk’s theory, he was the head researcher. He claimed that the Zone was a manifestation of “cross dimensional contamination”. Of course it was a wholly improvable, unsubstantiated theory that he had been spouting since before the mission to Town 32 had even been proposed. He said that the original incident back in eighty-six had managed to seriously weaken the walls between dimensions, that the area was already a place where the walls between the dimensions were thin, and that the incident last year just tore a hole through to another reality. Of course if did explain why the geography here within the Zone was different than the maps said it should be. Either the fabric of space/time had been severely warped or they were no longer in pre-Second Incident Ukraine. Prypiat had moved south from where it should be and a whole new city had been found. It was more than enough to make a man go mad.

Anton had enough of the lab for the day and needed some air.

‘To the devil with devil dogs and devil men,’ he said loudly to the air as he practically ripped off his lab coat. ‘I need a drink. I hope those soldiers have got that damn still working right,’ and he stormed out of the lab. Ivan took no notice of him; he though Anton was too highly strung and paying him attention would only encourage him.

Anton took deep breaths as soon as he was out of the lab and in the fresh air. The lab was nothing more than a sealed environment created inside one of the low barns that dotted the village that was called Town 32. He stretched again and turned and headed towards the soldiers barracks to see about a nice drink of moonshine vodka. It didn’t surprise him that the soldiers here knew enough chemistry to create a still; he suspected that it was one of those skills that all soldiers had as an innate ability. As he crossed the main street he glanced at the main gate and noticed that the latest patrol had brought back another specimen. This was one causing some commotion. All thoughts of booze vanished from his head and he sidled up to the front gate to get a look.

The four man patrol had brought in something roughly man-sized and shaped. Yet, there was no way this thing could have been a man.

‘...ook two full mags before it stopped trying to grab me.’ One of the soldiers was saying. ‘But it didn’t go down until we pumped another two mags into it. Damn thing was hard to stop.’ Anton got a good look at it: it was bi-pedal and appeared to be wearing trousers; it had two arms, no neck, a head and that was were all resemblance to humanity stopped. Its torso was a mass of twisted muscles and its skin was a sickly yellow. It face was also disfigured, with ropes of skin and muscle swathing where the neck should have been, and covering the lower part of the jaw. It was bald and the head was swollen at the rear. Of course the whole body was riddled with bullets; one of the arms had nearly been detached by gun fire.

‘You will all die!’ Anton looked about for the voice he had heard, and noticed that no one else had heard it. Then the eyes of the deformed corpse opened and it smiled directly at Anton.

‘Holy Christ,’ he screamed. ‘It’s still alive.’ He back away knocking people out of the way. He grabbed a pistol out of a soldier’s hostel and turned to shoot the horror. But it was dead. He could see that. He looked up and everyone was staring at him. They looked scared of him! Couldn’t they see it had moved!

The Stalker, Pyotr, walked over drew his own desert eagle pistol and stood over the horror that lay on the floor. He pulled the trigger on the handgun twice, firing the rounds directly into its head.

‘We need to burn it!’ It was Pyotr’s voice. ‘It has friends and they seem to be near.’ He turned to Anton and took the pistol out of the scientist’s hands. ‘Don’t worry, it didn’t happen.’ He said quietly to Anton and put a warm hand on the man’s shoulder. ‘It didn’t happen!’ He said again. Anton nodded and back away. Pyotr watched as the scientist ran towards the scientists barracks.

‘Someone better go and make sure he’s ok!’ He said to the general crowd around him, he then turned to the nearest Master Sergeant and told him to go get the Major. The soldier nodded and ran off. When the Major turned up two minutes later Pyotr took him to one side.

‘It’s a Controller,’ he said.

‘What’s one of them?’ The Major asked.

‘Some sort of experiment in mind control that went wrong and escaped from the deep labs when the Second Incident took place. They can rip the mind right out of you and turn you into a mindless zombie. They can make you see anything they want and eventually do what they want.

‘Snakes, snakes everywhere,’ was suddenly screamed by a guard up in one of the towers. He began firing his rifle at the ground and then he screamed in agony. He must have shot himself in the leg. A cry for a medic went up and several soldiers began running to the tower.

‘This is only the beginning,’ Pyotr told the Major. ‘We have only one chance, if we stay we die.’

‘It’ll take about two hours to get the specimens and computers together and packed up.’ The Major said.

‘Major we don’t have fifteen minutes.’ Pyotr pointed towards the barracks. Two men had just dropped into sitting positions. They removed their helmets and smiled at each other as the pulled their service pistols out. The raised them directly at each other and fired. They both died smiling. The Major began shouting orders but no one was listening. Men were screaming and running about.

‘Get into your billet and stay there. Let’s hope they lose interest with us.’ Pyotr said.


The two days were long, boring and in some cases extremely frightening.

The first night was definitely the easiest for everyone: no one knew what was coming, the vodka was still flowing and hope was still alive that the Controllers would pass them by. The next day the Stalkers went out to check on everyone.

Most of the houses that the soldiers had used as billets were all clustered together near the main gate; the scientist lived in homes not far from the two barns used as labs. The Officers lived between the two, along with the Stalkers.

Konstantin examined the soldier’s billets and found most of them in good spirits, asking questions and generally waiting patiently. He checked the house closet to the main gate and found a window smashed inwards and two of the three soldiers billeted there were gone. There was a mass of blood and the third soldier was barely identifiable from what remained. He checked the area and found bi-pedal tracks made by an animal with a long gait. He had seen this type of tracks before in the Wild Territory beyond the Factory north of the Garbage. Keeping his mouth shut he went to find Pyotr.

Yuriy never made it into the officer houses, he was distracted by the tracks he found outside them. Small paw prints made by a four-legged animal. They looked similar to that of a dog, only bigger with more pronounced claws. He counted about ten animals. He too started looking for Pyotr.

The scientists hadn’t fared as well as the soldiers. Mostly they lived either on their own or in pairs. None of them had slept all night and they told Pyotr of voices in the night, of ghostly animals appearing to them and vanishing when they attacked. Two of the remaining nine scientists had died of fright, and third was catatonic, a forth was tied to his bed as he had attempted to kill his roommate and then when he failed tried to take his own life. The man’s mind had gone; he just kept giggling and smirking to himself. Anton was found giggling to himself.


The other two Stalkers found Pyotr just outside the Officers billets.

‘We’re in trouble!’ Konstantin stated. ‘We need to leave as soon as we can.’

‘I have to agree,’ Yuriy said. ‘I’ve seen tracks for quite a few psuedodogs, and Konstantin has seen evidence of at least one bloodsucker. If we stay any longer none of us will live through the night.’

‘I can only agree.’ Pyotr said as he headed for the Major’s house.

‘It’s going to take about two hours to strip the hard drives out of the computers and to secure all the specimens for transport. And I’m only going by the fact that five people can do the job.’ The major said after he listened to what the Stalker’s said. ‘One of my officers and I will get the hard drives if you three could secure the specimens.’ The three Stalkers agreed.

‘What about the men?’ Yuriy asked.

‘You’ve seen them, would you trust them with delicate work. If my own feelings are anything to go by they’re too terrified to leave their billets.’ The Major answered. ‘I’ve been on the radio to one of the sergeants and going to get some men on the roof tops to keep an eye out, but I’m afraid that’s all we’re going to get.’


Two hours dragged into three. Eventually the hard drives and specimens were loaded into the back of one of the BTR’s. Due to the number they had lost it was decided to leave the Kamaz trucks where they were. It was just after noon when the Major gave the order to evacuate. Only three BTR’s were filled. The other men refused to move. The catatonic soldiers and scientists were loaded in to one truck with the specimens and data, the officers who were able to leave and the Stalkers. It was a tight squeeze but they managed ten people in one truck, and thirteen in another.

Despite calls to those that refused to leave no one else left their billets. The two BTR’s were on their own.

‘We have to go Major. Either we go or we all die.’ Pyotr said over the sound of the two sergeants shouting at those in the houses. It was a little after two and the sun was starting to descend. They had about two hours of daylight left and they wanted to be across the river by then.

Sickening cry went up, ‘They’re here!’, and ‘They’re coming for us!’ filled the air.

Pyotr climbed on top of the BTR and scanned the tree line and cold easily make out about twenty Controllers. They were just standing there watching. They seemed to be waiting for something. Pyotr climbed back inside and told the Major what he had seen.

‘We can’t wait any longer, but which way.’ Pyotr told him that he not seen any mutants to the North so the Major gave the BTR drivers their orders and the two vehicles started off.

‘May God forgive us for leaving these men behind, and may God protect us.’ The Major whispered as the two vehicles roared out of Town 32.


Full revised version here:
http://www.4shared.com/file/116130545/f2d5dbe2/Town-32.html
  00:10:37  6 July 2009
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Cmdr. Vasily Kutnetz
Cordon Commissar
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 02/03/2007
Messages: 673
I'm liking this, It reminds me of the story I had written a long time ago, very similar, in fact. though I went to yantar.... I hope to see more
  02:00:02  6 July 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
Thank you.

Nearly at the end of it now.

Its gotten to be quite a tale - over 8,000 words (damn nearly a novella in its own rite) - if I had known it was going to be long i'm not sure I would have started it - but I'm gald I did.
  17:43:34  8 July 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
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Part 4 – Out of the Frying Pan

The two BTRs that escaped from Town 32 only contained twenty three people. The vehicle in the lead was Major Viktorych’s, and contained the three Stalkers, two scientist, three officers (including the Major) and two enlisted Soldiers; it also contained all the research material they had managed to gather in the six days that they were at Town 32. The second vehicle contained one officer and twelve enlisted men. All the occupants of both vehicles were praying for their lives and their souls.


The main road that led away from Town 32 was twisted like corkscrew but seemed to lead them someway from the town. As the town quickly vanished behind layers of brush, trees and undergrowth the survivors of the expedition started to breathe easier. Maybe it was all a dream, they thought. Maybe it never happened. It was a defence mechanism only, everyone knew deep down that they could never forget what had happened.

The Major was hoping that the aerial photographs he had been given were accurate as they said that this road led to a bridge across the Prypiat. Yes the road led further north towards Prypiat City and the NPP, but there seemed to be enough land that would be traversable by the BTR’s between the river and the Army Warehouse. Or even, if they could get across the hills, to the relative safety of the Dark Valley; at least the BTR’s would protect them against the nests of snorks the Stalkers said lived there.

The BTR’s barrelled down the uneven, broken road as close to their maximum speed of 85 kph as the drivers thought was safe. They passed small broken houses and farmsteads. They occasionally caught sight of mutated animals romping around the fields on in and out of the broken buildings. Their feelings of optimism that they had had when they had left the town quickly vanished when they realised that they were still in an alien world. Even the Stalkers, who thought they were used to the Zone, began to feel that humans didn’t belong here anymore. This was a world of mutation and alteration. The relatively safe human world was gone, and probably would never return.

The sanguine mood returned when the land began to slope downwards towards the river. The road cleared a low set of hills and there was the river stretching like a blue wall of freedom. A quiet cheer went up from both vehicles when they got their first glimpse of the river and the bridge. The cheerful mood didn’t last long. Both BTR’s skidded to a halt and the Major climbed out with the Stalkers to have a look at the bridge.

The photographs that the Major had said that this bridge was fully intact; however, in reality it was only half there. Something had cut the east side of the bridge completely away. Two hundred meters of empty air stood between where the road joined the bridge and where the bridge actually began. Through his field glasses the Major could see that the bridge had been cleanly cut, there was no wreckage in the river, nor any on this side of the river. The Stalkers said that it appeared that an anomaly had done this, but they had never seen one large enough to do this sort of damage.

‘We’ll have to do a river crossing!’ the Major said to everyone and they set about making sure that everything was secure, evenly spaced about the vehicles and made sure that both BTR’s were still watertight. After ten minutes work they drove down a slip road towards the wide but turbulent waters of the Prypiat River.
  14:14:51  9 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
Messages: 1252

---QUOTATION---
‘It’s still alive.’ He back away knocking people out of the way. He grabbed a pistol out of a soldier’s hostel and turned to shoot the horror.
---END QUOTATION---



Hi Danlo,

Do you really think that a regular man able to grab a pistol out of a soldier's hostel so easily ? Probably yes, if he is a guy from Special Forces, but not scientist.
Just my opinion.

Still reading.
  14:43:05  9 July 2009
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-=Grunt=-
Cake Muncher
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On forum: 01/08/2009
Messages: 4114
Great story Danlo.



You don't know what a man can do with his rage.
  15:18:38  9 July 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198

---QUOTATION---
‘It’s still alive.’ He back away knocking people out of the way. He grabbed a pistol out of a soldier’s hostel and turned to shoot the horror.

Hi Danlo,

Do you really think that a regular man able to grab a pistol out of a soldier's hostel so easily ? Probably yes, if he is a guy from Special Forces, but not scientist.
Just my opinion.

Still reading.
---END QUOTATION---



the whole thing is that they are already being influenced by the Contollers surrounding them - good point though - might need to add something about that.

Thanks Grunt - appreciate it.
  07:37:49  10 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 02/11/2009
 

Message edited by:
Racemate
07/10/2009 11:08:57
Messages: 1252

---QUOTATION---
‘Snakes, snakes everywhere,’ was suddenly screamed by a guard...

‘This is only the beginning,’ Pyotr told the Major. ‘We have only one chance, if we stay we die.’

‘It’ll take about two hours to get the specimens and computers together and packed up.’ The Major said.

‘Major we don’t have fifteen minutes.’ Pyotr pointed towards the barracks. Two men had just dropped into sitting positions. They removed their helmets and smiled at each other as the pulled their service pistols out. The raised them directly at each other and fired. They both died smiling. The Major began shouting orders but no one was listening. Men were screaming and running about...
---END QUOTATION---



It seems those two guys, Pyotr and Major, are not influenced by Controllers in any degree, or, if their mind are more resistant, they don't behave according to the situation. Especially Major who has never been in the Zone before. One way or another, they are seen as they are out of the situation, like onlookers. They just fall out of the stream.

edit:

---QUOTATION---
Eventually the hard drives and specimens were loaded into the back of one of the BTR’s. Due to the number they had lost it was decided to leave the Kamaz trucks where they were. It was just after noon when the Major gave the order to evacuate. Only three BTR’s were filled. The other men refused to move. The catatonic soldiers and scientists were loaded in to one truck with the specimens and data, the officers who were able to leave and the Stalkers. It was a tight squeeze but they managed ten people in one truck, and thirteen in another.
---END QUOTATION---

.

I think it's just typos.


---QUOTATION---
...Major Viktorych’s...
---END QUOTATION---



I think you meant Major Andrey Victorovich's or just Major's. Since there are no other Majors there.

All those are just my opinion.

The rest is really cool.
  14:24:44  10 July 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
Good point about Pyotr and the Major - I should have pointed out that all the Stalkers would be more resistant and the Major used to command and order would probably fight off the effects better - yes that section needs a snother rewrite -

Racemate - you would make a great editor - you have a natural flair for it and your less brutal that most of the other editirs I've worked with.

Yeah it was a typo - trying to correct different things and missed some - thanks
  14:55:30  10 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
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---QUOTATION---
you would make a great editor - you have a natural flair for it and your less brutal that most of the other editirs I've worked with.
---END QUOTATION---



Thanks mate. It was my pleasure to communicate with you.
  17:55:26  13 July 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
Part 4 - continued

The crossing was mostly uneventful until they reached the half-way mark and someone looked back at the opposite bank. Everyone craned to look at the monitor for the weapons camera and they all could easily make out ten Controllers lining the ridge above the river. The mutants just watched the retreating BTRs until they gained the opposite shore and then slowly melted back into the undergrowth.


The vehicles came ashore about five klicks north of the bridge they had originally crossed the Prypiat on. But they where still inside the unexplored region of the Zone and about three klicks north west of the Army Warehouses, and about ten klicks north of the Dark Valley. The sense of hopefulness returned. They would all make it home. According to Andriy’s map the trees he could see at the top of the ridge was Red Forrest, the forest loomed to the west and sat on the top of the plateau that rose above the river.

The land gently rose to the forest and gave easy access to the hills that surrounded the valleys that made up the relative safety of the Explored Zone. The forest was about a kilometre away and there was literally nothing for anything else to hide behind; it looked as if they were going to have a clear run into the hills. The three Stalkers exited the vehicles and using both their naked eyes and field glasses scanned the sloping hillside in search of anomalies and pronounced the area relatively clear. There were some small springboards but they could easily avoid them.

Gunning the engines the much depleted expedition continued up the hillside.

The gunner in the rear vehicle reported movement in the tree line. The front vehicles turret swung around to verify and just managed to see a sudden flash as if something had exploded. He could just see the large projectile streaking towards the rear BTR and everyone heard the cry from the rear Gunner, ‘RPG!!!’

The rocket propelled grenade smashed into the rear of the second BTR. It exploded just over the rear wheels and slammed the vehicle’s rear which swung out to its left. The engine growled and the forward wheels turned but the vehicle was going nowhere. The first BTR had opened fire at the tree line. One hundred and fifteen millimetre explosive rounds impacted the exact point where the RPG had been fired from. The edge of the forest quickly caught fire. The gunner continued spraying cannon fire into the forest at either sides of the place where the RPG had been fired from, until the Major told him to cease.


- Major, there’s no way we can move this bloody thing. The rear wheels on both sides are gone, and two of the axles are either cracked or shattered. I’ve no idea what they filled the head of that RPG round with but it packed a hell of a punch.

- Ok, so what the plan then. We can travel slow enough to keep you covered until we reach the edge of the Army Warehouses.

- I’ve looked at the map, sir. I think we can cut across through the Red Forest on foot and reach the Army Warehouses in about three hours. We have enough men and armament to make sure we reach the fences.

- Senior Lieutenant, I’m not happy about it.

- Sir, there can’t be that many men in the woods. We’ll make it through. Besides the information you are carrying is the whole point of the mission. You need to get that to the base in Vyshhorod, as soon as possible. We were fortunate that none of the man were injured.

- Very well. If you are not at the meeting point in two hours I will request attack helicopters and a search party. We won’t leave anyone behind again.

Major Kuznetsov’s vehicle moved off, the vehicles gun turret scanning the tree line covering the soldiers that climbed away from the damaged BTR. Only a single soldier was left at the crippled vehicle. He pulled out two thermite grenades, pulled the pins and tossed them both into the vehicle. Two seconds later a great white light exploded out of BTRs and a bright red fire burned through the interior. The fire destroyed the electronics and any paperwork left behind.
  18:25:18  14 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
 

Message edited by:
Racemate
07/15/2009 5:28:40
Messages: 1252
Very cool piece.

I got that men from damaged BTR was going to cross the Red Forest on foot, but why they couldn't ride on the top of the rest BTRs? In any case it would be faster and more safety.

Or did I miss something?
  22:28:27  14 July 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
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If they are attacked again the men on the top would be more vulnerable sitting on the BTR, and they would slow the BTR down - I suppose I should put something like that in and mention that the BTR will travel faster and call for helo support
  23:30:45  14 July 2009
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hhiker
off to new worlds
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On forum: 10/31/2008
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---QUOTATION---
Part 4 - continued
- Sir, there can’t be that many men in the woods. We’ll make it through. Besides the information you are carrying is the whole point of the mission. You need to get that to the base in Vyshhorod, as soon as possible. We were fortunate that none of the man were injured.

---END QUOTATION---



Hmm... i'm starting to feel sorry for these poor bastards already ...
Can't wait for the next part.
  06:18:44  15 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
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---QUOTATION---
If they are attacked again the men on the top would be more vulnerable sitting on the BTR, and they would slow the BTR down
---END QUOTATION---



That's right, but is it more danger that they will go through the obviously hostile territory? In addition to the Major is not gonna lose people anymore.

Then are additional 10-12 people for two BTRs will slow them seriously down? (Each BTR has diesel engine 300 hp http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTR-94).

Even that is so, it would be more logical to send one BTR ahead to call for support and deliver info faster, and trying to get back under the most possible protection of second BTR for others.

I seems to me just logical. But anyway that scene is already fine.
  06:45:52  15 July 2009
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Mobius
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On forum: 07/11/2009
 

Message edited by:
Mobius
07/15/2009 6:46:34
Messages: 683

---QUOTATION---
If they are attacked again the men on the top would be more vulnerable sitting on the BTR, and they would slow the BTR down

That's right, but is it more danger that they will go through the obviously hostile territory? In addition to the Major is not gonna lose people anymore.

Then are additional 10-12 people for two BTRs will slow them seriously down? (Each BTR has diesel engine 300 hp http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTR-94).

Even that is so, it would be more logical to send one BTR ahead to call for support and deliver info faster, and trying to get back under the most possible protection of second BTR for others.

I seems to me just logical. But anyway that scene is already fine.
---END QUOTATION---



Aye but don't the military patrol into hostile territory constantly and get killed, and just keep sending in more patrols? it's obvious these people are not zone savvy and it's not much to question there intelligence really.
  11:16:06  15 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
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---QUOTATION---
Aye but don't the military patrol into hostile territory constantly and get killed, and just keep sending in more patrols? it's obvious these people are not zone savvy and it's not much to question there intelligence really.
---END QUOTATION---



Yep, but they aren't for patrol or gathering intelligence in the Red Forest. Major even didn't ask them for this. They just need to get through it as fast as they can. Moreover, they aren't zone savvy.
  13:14:50  15 July 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
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tbh - in the original story told by Sid in the mod I found this idea in he just said that the remaining transports where attacked in the red forest and the survivors of the vehicle were lost to the forest - I thought this was a better version.

Destroying an abandoned vehcile is usual for military ( I assume the Ukraine military would generally behave in a similar fashion to British and Americna forces) sending the undamaged BTR ahead made sense to me as it could travel faster - and had working radios -

also - a moving target in forested areas is more difficult to attack (maybe not everyone would get through but most should) - but of course no one knows what's in the Red Forest at this point in Zone history so not even the Stalkers can say that is not safe to walk through.

Remember the Zone, at the time of the story, is only 7 months old.
  14:50:46  15 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
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---QUOTATION---
tbh - in the original story told by Sid in the mod I found this idea in he just said that the remaining transports where attacked in the red forest and the survivors of the vehicle were lost to the forest - I thought this was a better version.
---END QUOTATION---



My bad, never heard about that story.


---QUOTATION---
also - a moving target in forested areas is more difficult to attack (maybe not everyone would get through but most should) - but of course no one knows what's in the Red Forest at this point in Zone history so not even the Stalkers can say that is not safe to walk through.

Remember the Zone, at the time of the story, is only 7 months old.
---END QUOTATION---



I saw in movies about WWII they used a tactic to have some infantrymen on tanks (only German army had first BTRs then) in case if hidden enemy could damage the tank infantrymen went first to wiped them out.
  20:43:34  15 July 2009
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-=Grunt=-
Cake Muncher
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Lol, infantry meat shield ftw.
  21:06:54  15 July 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
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On forum: 10/21/2008
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Part 4 - Continued - and The End

Eventually, as the BTR reached the top of the slope it lost sight of the men on foot; the gun turret whirred around to face the front.

‘God bless them all,’ the Major whispered to himself.

‘I hope he’s listening then,’ Pyotr said quietly into the Major’s ear, ‘he’s got a lot of people to watch over. Including us!’

‘Amen to that!’

The BTR made slow going in the short journey through the hills at the edge of the plateau the Red Forest sat on. Unlike the hillside at the edge of Prypiat River this area was covered with anomalies. Fortunately the anomalies were mostly electro anomalies and the BTR acted like a Faraday Cage and insulated the occupants from the massive electric discharge. However, it did make the vehicle about half an hour late for the rendezvous with the men that were on foot.

The meeting point was where a road coming out of the Red Forest turned due south and entered the valley that contained the Army Warehouses. The road was cut through the hills and was heavily wooded on both sides until it reached the edge of the valley. The BTR slowly edged its way down the road, the gun turret constantly scanning the surrounding trees for any signs of the men on foot.

The vehicle was stopped by massive blocks of concrete and old lorry containers. There was no way that they could get the vehicle passed the obstructions. The Major decided to wait for men who were on foot and tried to radio ahead for an attack helicopter to come and pick them up.


- This is Town 32 Expedition Force, codename Red Fox. We are stranded at the following co-ordinates. Please send helicopter for exfil.’

- ...ease re...t. We... did (the response was mostly static) This .... milt... freq... Please st....’

- This is Red Fox requesting extraction from the following co-ordinates..

- Red ..ox. Co-ord.... receiv... ...tion team on way. Eta ...... minutes. Repeat ..... thirty minutes.


The news of the extraction teams gave a boost to the dishearten troops. The Stalkers suggested that the move away from the BTR as it was nothing more than a bullet magnet now. A small contingent set-up watch twenty metres behind the BTR hoping to see the men who were on foot, but as the two hour deadline stretched into three everyone doubted that they would see any survivors.

The rest of the expedition’s survivors made a make shift camp at the edge of the hills where there was plenty of room for the attack helicopter to land.


There was no warning when the attack came. None of the sentries had seen anything. The camp at the rear of the BTR was hit first. Three grenades, fired from grenade launchers, exploded in the centre of the group killing everyone instantly. This attack was nothing more than a distraction. Bandits had managed to sneak up on the survivors as they waited for the helicopters to come and pick them up.

As the Stalkers and the bulk of the survivors moved back towards the BTR the sentries were attacked. Bandits seemed to appear out of nowhere and knives flashed. Knives cut throats, or where expertly slid between armour plates just under the ribcage, cutting the diaphragm and stabbing the heart.

The first that anyone knew of the full attack was when rifle fire slammed into them from the rear. Pyotr watched the Major turn to the weapons fire, his rifle in the process of being raised when a bullet slammed into his eye. The shot propelled him backwards, obviously dead. Everyone else dived for cover as bullets and grenades flashed passed. Konstantin stood his ground as he fired his AKM at the approaching bandits. Pyotr saw a bullet hit him in the neck and the giant went down clutching at the blood spurting from his wound. Pyotr put several rounds into the bandit that had killed his friend.


The battle didn’t last long, as most battles in the Zone never lasted long. This one ended when the attack helicopters appeared and opened fire on the remaining bandits. The bandits fled at the fire and led one of the attacking helos off to east to where several others were waiting with RPGs. The helo crashed in depression not far from where road north to the Red Forest. The crew survived and scrambled form the down helicopter and ran to the second helo as it touched down to load the survivors.

The two helicopter crews found the survivors of the battle. Two Stalkers and a single scientist. All the soldiers were dead or missing. One of the Stalkers handled some hard drives to pilot of the downed helicopter and then insisted that specimens from the back of the BTR were loaded into the helicopter. The scientist was a gibbering wreck and kept laughing at everything. The shorter of the two Stalkers climbed on board the helo and asked the pilot to make a stop at Outpost 12. The other Stalker turned around and started walking north.


Epilogue – Upon Leaving Purgatory


It was a rare occasion for Sidorovich to be sat outside his bunker. But he had been asked to meet someone from the military outpost. For two such rarities in one go Sidorovich wanted to make sure everyone in the village saw what was happening. Not that he didn’t trust the military but it best to be on the safe side. After the disaster with the convoy that had headed to the new Forbidden Zone he was hoping that he wasn’t going to be blamed.

A UAZ-469 drove slowly through the Village then came to a stop not far from the Traders Bunker. After about a minute a rear door opened and someone got out. Sidorovich recognised the man as one of the Stalkers that had accompanied the military into the Forbidden Zone.

‘I thought I would come back and tell you what happened to the Stalkers you hired to go with the military to the Forbidden Zone,’ he said and then he stood there and told the story of the expedition.

‘You said that two Stalkers survived,’ Sidorovich asked, ‘what happened to the other?’

‘He went back into the Red Forest. I doubt we will ever see him again.’

‘Why did he go back into the Red Forest?’ Sidorovich asked. He was horrified that anyone would want to go back in to that hell.

‘He said he owed it to the Major to find his men.’

‘And the egg-head, what happened to him?’

‘Anton will be fine,’ the Stalker said. ‘He’ll probably make a full recovery. They say he’s already making plans for a book on what we found, although no one will ever be able to read it.’

‘And you, Yuriy, what are you going to do?’

‘I’m going back to the Big Land. I’ve had enough of the Zone trying to kill me.’
  16:57:46  25 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
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Hi Danlo,

You know, it arouses very hard feelings. You did excellent job. Thanks dude.
  18:37:46  25 July 2009
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Danlo
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On forum: 10/21/2008
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---QUOTATION---
Hi Danlo,

You know, it arouses very hard feelings. You did excellent job. Thanks dude.
---END QUOTATION---



thank you
  08:27:56  26 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
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Hi Danlo,

Wanna say again part4 is awesome.

Is the next part to read Wolf’s Story?
  13:39:40  26 July 2009
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Danlo
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I'm not sure yet - I've two more ideas - one's a murder mystery (but I'm unsure how to proceed with it) - so I think doing Wolf's story maybe the easier way to go while I'm developing the ideas
  13:55:44  26 July 2009
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hhiker
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---QUOTATION---

Is the next part to read Wolf’s Story?
---END QUOTATION---



I was just going to ask the same

... ok, on with Wolf's story then.
  14:00:30  26 July 2009
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Danlo
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Thank you both for the encouragement
  14:05:07  26 July 2009
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Racemate
Loner
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On forum: 02/11/2009
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---QUOTATION---
I'm not sure yet - I've two more ideas - one's a murder mystery (but I'm unsure how to proceed with it) - so I think doing Wolf's story maybe the easier way to go while I'm developing the ideas
---END QUOTATION---



Are you still developing all of those stories as A S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Novel - Tales From The Zone project? Or it could be changed too?
  14:55:25  26 July 2009
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Danlo
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On forum: 10/21/2008
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---QUOTATION---
I'm not sure yet - I've two more ideas - one's a murder mystery (but I'm unsure how to proceed with it) - so I think doing Wolf's story maybe the easier way to go while I'm developing the ideas

Are you still developing all of those stories as A S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Novel - Tales From The Zone project? Or it could be changed too?
---END QUOTATION---



yes to both of those
  21:36:13  20 September 2009
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Danlo
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Town 32 (edited)

Town-32

Prologue – Man Made Hell

File: ZOE1267-UDF-2.15.2007
Date: Thursday, February 15th 2007
Report Author: Classified
Distribution List: Classified

Classification: For Your Eyes Only – Ultra Violet Classification
Burn After Reading

From: Ukrainian Ministry of Defence
To: Ukrainian Presidential Office
(Rest of the list blacked out for Security Reasons)

Update Report on Recent Events Within
the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (Formally known as the Zone of Alienation)

1. As you are aware on Wednesday, 12th April 2006, at approximately 14:30 hrs, an enormous explosion of unexplained origin occurred. At the same time the entire Exclusion Zone suddenly became inaccessible. Several attempts were made to gain entry, all these attempts ended in the teams dying from extreme radiation burns, or other more horrifying effects.

2. On Thursday, 13th April 2006 the extreme radiation barrier surrounding the Exclusion Zone dissipated enough to allow entry by teams in extreme Biohazard Clothing.

3. By Friday, 14th April the radiation had decreased enough to allow deep penetration of the Exclusion Zone. Six teams were sent in, in total approximately one hundred troops and scientists. Contact with all teams was lost as they approached the fifteen kilometre mark from the Chernobyl NPP. No further deep penetration teams have been sent to the NPP since.

4. On Monday, 17th April 2006 high altitude flyovers and satellite photographs confirm that something other than an ecological disaster had occurred.

5. June 2006, civilians were seen illegally entering the Exclusion Zone. All Military posts were alerted and all civilians discovered were escorted away from the Exclusion Zone.

6. July 2006, first Artefact reported. This Artefact was confiscated from the University of Kiev’s science department. The Artefact was called a 'Stone Blood' because it had a hard, glassy feel, although it looked organic in nature, and that it was the colour of blood. The scientists who had bought the Artefact claimed that it healed minor cuts and abrasions, but was quite radioactive. The Artefact was transported to the Ministry of Science. The scientists at the University of Kiev said that the man they bought the Artefact from claimed to have 'found' the Artefact inside the Exclusion Zone.

7. August 2006, all civilians found within the Exclusion Zone are classed as looters and all Military squads, patrols and bases are given orders to shoot all looters on sight.

8. September 2006, the numbers of looters, calling themselves Stalkers, grows to an unmanageable level. Most of them are heavily armed and are quite willing to fire upon our troops if fired upon. A decision is made to restrict access to the Zone, to shoot anyone who tries to gain access to the Exclusion Zone – now finally fenced off entirely – however, only those Stalkers who are seen looting artefacts, and those caught with artefacts on them, are shot on sight.

9. December 2006, sightings of unknown human activity all the way from the NPP to the Red Forrest in the southern part of the Zone. This activity appears to be originating from within the NPP itself. Small squads are sent to investigate. No squads return to report on activity. Stalker informants claimed that a faction of very aggressive humans, who come from the centre of the Zone (mainly made up of ex-soldiers and a renegade Stalker Faction (see appendix for notes of the various Stalker Factions)), was making its presence felt at the edges of Stalker encroachment. Fierce fire-fights have taken place between the various Stalker factions and this new faction. Reports suggest that this new faction call themselves 'Monolith'. The first 'Zombies' are seen in the Zone. These wretched people appear to have no minds and seem untreatable. There condition appears to have been caused by exposure to a combination of extreme nuclear radiation and a specific unknown electro-magnetic radiation. They are very violent if confronted but basically docile most of the time.

10. January 2007, paths appear to have grown in areas that were previously impassable. Scouts, volunteers all, entered the area beyond the Red Forest and return with news of strange buildings, Monolith troop movements, strange creatures and an abundance of artefacts.

Recommendation:

Scientists from the Command Post at Vyshhorod have pointed out that there is an experimental station five kilometres to the North East of the Red Forest and is situated two kilometres from the east bank of the Pripyat River. This station is designated Town 32. They wish to establish a new research station at Town 32 and investigate the anomalies of the Zone, the Creatures and the possibility of curing those afflicted with 'Zombism'. It is my recommendation that a force of ten specially adapted vehicles, six BTR-94s and four armoured Kamaz, to be used as equipment carriers; a combined force of eighty men, some seventy troops and ten scientist. I would also like to request the hiring of three Stalkers at the Cordon Village to act as guides: these men have had more time in-Zone than any other men at my command and could mean the difference between success and failure of the mission.

Conclusion:

• A force of eighty troops and scientists to be sent into the Zone beyond the previous "Safe Zone" at the Red Forest.
• The establishment of a research base at Town 32.
• Hiring of three Stalkers to act as guides.

Part 1 – Descent In To Hell

Ten armoured vehicles powered up the main highway that ran through the Cordon. They slowed to a crawl at the roadblock at the fence that surrounded the Exclusion Zone. An arm from an armoured bunker waved them through the raised barrier; they had already been cleared in advance. They sped up and came to a complete stop about a kilometre further down the road when they came to the first military outpost on the road, Outpost 12. The convoy’s commanding officer, Major Andriy Kuznetsov exited from the lead BTR and walked in to Outpost 12’s main building swapping salutes with subordinates and smiles with various officers he recognised from other commands. Finally he stood in front of the Outpost commanding officer, Major Oleksy Viktorych.

They exchanges salutes and both sat down grinning like a pair of schoolboys.

‘Andriy,’ the Outpost Major said grinning from ear to ear.

'Lyosha,’ Major Kuznetsov replied.

Oleksy pulled two small glasses and a bottle of expensive Russian Standard Imperia Vodka. ‘The good stuff,’ he muttered as he filled the glasses. ‘Bud’mo!’

‘Bud’mo!’ Andriy lifted his glass and downed the vodka in one go. Oleksy filled the glasses again and sat back and stared at his friend.

‘So what the fuck are you doing in my Zone?’ Andriy thought his friend sounded angry. Maybe I should have sent him a message to let him know I was coming, he thought. But that would have broached security and someone else would have been sent. He sipped from his freshly filled glass.

‘Sorry I didn’t let you know I was coming. You know what security is like. However, I’m afraid now I’m here I still can’t tell you what’s going on.’ He watched as his friend's scowl softened in to a knowing grimace. Both of them had had plenty of experience with modern bureaucracy, especially since Oleksy had become the head of an outpost inside the Exclusion Zone. ‘All I can say is we’re heading north by north east across the Pripyat River, and we’ll be gone several weeks, if not longer.’ Oleksy nodded. He downed his glass of vodka and turned to look at the map of the Exclusion Zone he had pinned to a large movable board and guessed at the general area his oldest friend would be going to.

‘All the way into Hell, hey? I guess the reports from the Stalkers about passages into the heart of the Zone are correct.’ He didn’t bother looking at his friend for confirmation as he knew he wouldn’t get any.

‘Here’s a copy of my orders giving me permission to enter the Zone, and here’s a copy of my orders to hire three Stalkers to act as guides.’

‘Oh!’ Andriy was surprised to see his friends face suddenly grow confused and worried at the same time, it was a combination he wasn’t used to seeing on him: his face finally settled on disgust. Although he hadn’t seen his friend in over five years he still thought he knew him better than anyone else.

‘You don’t approve?’ He asked.

‘What? Oh, no. It’s not my place to approve or disapprove. I know it was probably not your decision. But, to be honest you don’t know what Stalkers are like. Insane every single one of them. You have to be to want to be here in the first place.’

‘You’re here and you’re as sane as I am!’

‘Well yes, but we were both ordered here. Stalkers,’ Oleksy managed to put a lot of venom in to the word, ‘they’re undisciplined, anarchistic, free-loading, looters who are only here in the hopes of making a fast-buck. None of them are loyal to the Ukraine, they’re just out for themselves and can’t be trusted. I miss the old days when I could shoot them on sight.’ Andriy was surprised at the last statement. He friend had never been that bloodthirsty before. So maybe it was right that the Zone changed you.

‘You’re probably right. But, not only have they got more experience and knowledge of the Zone than anyone else, they may actually have specialist knowledge of the area we’re heading for.’ Andriy explained.

‘Fair enough; I’ll radio ahead to Sidorovich – he’s the local trader – and he can see if any Stalkers in the Village are willing to act as guide. Now, more vodka!’


The Village that Major Viktorych mentioned was about two klicks further north from Outpost 12. The convoy pulled up the hill that the main road climbed and slowly came to a stop just before the turn off to the Village, which sat in a depression just off the left side of the road. Andriy’s BTR pulled off the road on to the side road, which was nothing more than a dirt track really, and powered down the road into the Village. The whine of its diesel engine loud in the still quiet of mid-morning. Andriy stared out of the window of the vehicle appraising the ruined buildings that lined the dirty road. He saw smashed roofs and walls, homes with no windows, even completely missing walls: smashed fences and missing front-doors. He saw Stalkers sat around makeshift fires inside the ruined buildings, or lounging around outside next to quarter-drum fires. Stalkers sentries at each end of the village kept their Kalashnikov’s at the ready, suspicion written clearly on their faces. Andriy even noticed a few rifles aimed at the convoy on the main road, the Stalkers who carried the weapons were hidden in the broken roofs of the ruined buildings. He didn’t know what his friend was on about but these people definitely looked organised.

Sidorovich’s trading bunker was just a little west of the Village and the BTR pulled up just passed the Villages last sentry. Andriy climbed out of the vehicle and stretched his legs, hoping that the fresh air would help counteract the half bottle of vodka he and Lyosha had consumed back at Outpost 12.

He could see some Stalkers huddled around a fire eating out of tins, or cutting strips of meat off some sort of animal that was being spit-roasted over their fire.

‘Have you noticed, Andriy, that there’s no birds, no animals. I’m from the Crimea and I’m used to countryside like this being filled with animal noises. It’s not natural.’ Andriy had been joined by his second in command, Captain Serhiy Vasilych.

‘I noticed Seryozha, and it makes you wonder what they’re eating over there.’ The Major said as he pointed to the Stalkers eating from the spit-roasted animal. Serhiy smiled and twisted his face in false disgust. ‘Which reminds me, we do have three weeks full rations before we have to start on field rations don’t we?’

‘That’s correct, sir.’ Serhiy confirmed still smiling.

‘Right then we had better go meet this Sidorovich.’


The file that Andriy had been given concerning the Zone was quite extensive and including files on all the major personalities, including the major factions that seemed to be rising in the Zone: Duty – mutineers and deserters from the army; Freedom, Stalkers who wanted the Zone opened to everybody; and Clear Sky, who appeared to be a collection of scientists and like-minded Stalkers who wanted to study the Zone – Clear Sky also claimed that the Zone was expanding.

The file also included extensive information on a small time criminal, and one time businessman, who acted as a trader for the Stalkers, he went by the name Sidorovich, but it was well known that that was not his real name. Sidorovich was typical of many business men; he was middle aged, short, fat and balding. He was a Russian from Novgorod who had had a business supplying Russian tourists with supplies for outdoor pursuits, hitchhiking, rock climbing, etcetera, who did some arms smuggling on the side. When his contacts informed him that the Novgorod authorities were investigating him for his less legal activities he used his contacts in the Ukrainian Military to have himself smuggled into the Exclusion Zone. He set himself up as a trader and using the same military contacts smuggled in food and weapons for Stalkers. He smuggled out artefacts, either to unscrupulous Western Corporations who wished to study and exploit the exotic substances found in the Zone or to the Ukrainian Government itself, and he arranged for Stalkers to be smuggled out once they had grown too sick of the Zone. He fancied himself as an entrepreneur and humanitarian, he was really just a money grabbing, slimy, small-time gangster. Everything in the file about his present activities was purely conjecture, there was just no proof or he’d have been shut down by now. Andriy wondered to himself if this fat man was serving a useful purpose here. He was after all helping to keep these Stalkers alive. He also helped artefacts discovered in the Zone to find their way into Government institutions, much faster than the usual red-tape would allow.

Andriy introduced himself and Serhiy and got down to business as soon as possible.

‘We’re not here to negotiate Mr Sidorovich; we have a flat fee for anyone interested in helping the Ukrainian Government. As my colleague Major Viktorych told you on the radio we are heading deep in to the Zone somewhere to the North East of here. So we require three guides, preferably with extensive field experience, and if they have experience of the general area east of the NPP it would be a bonus.’

Sidorovich looked at the two officers in there clean, new Zone Field Suits. Part of his mind was calculating how much he could sell the suits for as they looked better than the ones the Stalkers themselves were manufacturing, obviously not as good as the SEVA suits from Kiev, that were starting to trickle thorough his network of contacts, but they were hideously expensive. The rest of his mind was calculating how much he could skim off the top. He thought if he could skim enough he could expand his sphere of influence. He had a friend in the Quarter Masters Office who wanted to get out of the Army and he saw the amount of money that Sidorovich was managing to pull out of the Zone. Sidorovich suggested a great place to set-up another trading spot would be the old factory complex in Rostock just north of the Garbage, but it had to have the bandits and mutants cleared out first. With enough money he could pay Duty to go in and clear the place up. He suddenly realised that he had been thinking too long.

‘I’m sorry I was kilometres away.’ He apologised to the officer who had spoken. ‘I have three volunteers for you, two are perfect, Konstantin has extensive knowledge of the Zone from here to the Red Forrest, and Yuriy has excellent experience from here to the River in the east. They would be happy to act as guides for you for a good price.’

‘And the third?’ Andriy asked. He already disliked this fat man behind his desk, inside his little cage. He was nothing more than a horse trader, a dealer in flesh. He started to understand his old friend more now, if the Zone attracted men like this then shooting them was all they deserved. But the political cost to the government would be too great.

‘He says he’ll go for food and water only. He’s been here longer than most of us and doesn’t really care that much for money. He’s called Pyotr! All three should be waiting outside by now. Now all we have to agree on is my finder’s fee.’


Andriy couldn’t help but feel dirty when he can back up to the surface after being inside Sidorovich’s bunker. He felt he had just been dickering over cattle with an unscrupulous salesman. He breathed deeply when reaching the surface and shook his head to help clean out the wooliness he had felt filling it while he’d been speaking to Sidorovich. Odious little man, he thought, shooting would be too good for him. Then he saw the three Stalkers who had agreed to be his guides.

Konstantin was a giant at six and a half feet and about three feet wide. He was solidly built and had a gregarious grin on his face. He was already chatting with the BTR’s driver and Serhiy, and they both laughing raucously. He was dressed much like all the other Stalkers in worn hiking boots, a thick waterproof jacket that had seen better days and tough jeans. He carried an old AKS-74U like many of the other Stalkers they had seen in the village. It looked like Sidorovich had definitely kept up with his old contacts.

Yuriy was just under six feet tall and was dressed much the same as Konstantin, the only thing that differed really was the colour of their clothes. Yuriy was armed with a Remington Tactical shotgun and a very battered H&K MP-5. He stood next to Konstantin and listened and smiled when Konstantin joked. Unlike Konstantin who was concentrating on making friends Yuriy’s eyes were constantly moving about noticing details, checking the horizon and the general area. He nodded to the Major when he emerged from the bunker.

Pyotr was sat at the back of the BTR resting against its rear tire. He was dressed completely differently to the other two Stalkers. He wore a one piece green uniform that appeared to have armoured pieces sown into the legs, arms and chest. Further padding and armour plates appeared to be attached to an integrated vest. He was sat cross-legged and an AK-108, a firearm that hadn’t been issued to Ukrainian troops yet, lay across his legs. He sat reading a book that was propped against the rifle.

‘So you three are my new Stalker Guides?’ The Major said in the general direction of the three Stalkers. Konstantin nodded; Andriy hoped he wasn’t as dumb as he looked. Yuriy made a vague head flick which could have been a nod, and Pyotr stood up and stared at the Major.

‘We get paid for a job,’ he said flatly. ‘We aren’t owned by anyone.’

‘Fair enough,’ Andriy replied, there’s no point in arguing semantics. ‘Right, you’ll be riding with me in the BTR and I’m afraid you’ll have to leave your weapons here. My troops won’t be happy with armed Stalkers in their midst.’ Konstantin looked confused and Yuriy began unloading his shotgun. Pyotr laughed.

‘Then we don’t go anywhere. No offence Major but we don’t trust you and your men any more than you trust us. And I’d rather put my life in the hands of these two Stalkers than any of your men. No guns no go! Are we clear?’ There was no threat in his voice, no sign of anger in his demeanour, he just said it as if he had been ordering breakfast in a Kiev restaurant.

‘Very well,’ Andriy didn’t think they would just turn over their weapons, but it was worth a try. ‘I’ll tell my men that you will be armed and that you are to be treated as officers. Good enough?’ Pyotr smiled and nodded.

‘Very smooth Andriy,’ Serhiy said as the Major walked towards him. ‘Very smooth.’

‘Shut up Serhiy or you’ll be pulling the graveyard shift for the next month.’

‘Yes, Sir! Comrade Major, Sir!’ Serhiy said quite loudly as he pulled himself up into a parody of a parade salute.

‘Let’s get going.’ Andriy said as he climbed into the armoured vehicle.


The BTR rejoined the convoy and they drove north until they came to an old bus stop at the side of the road. A dirt track turned east, descending into the Cordon Valley and up the valley’s sides to a tunnel about a kilometre distant. A small garage straddled the dirt road which was occupied by two squads of Special Forces. Unofficially this was called Outpost 12b and was merely a base used by long distance patrols, or at least that is what was written in the reports that the Major had been given. As the convoy slowly drove through the garage they weren’t stopped, no one checked their papers. However, Andriy could see a single Unit Alpha Trooper sat on a flat roof overlooking the road. He was watching the convoy drive past, covering them with a mounted RPK. Andriy wasn’t sure but it made him feel like they were making sure that the convoy wasn’t welcome.

Andriy looked at Serhiy and he guessed that the look of utter joy at finally being in the Zone was mirrored on his own face. They were finally here and about to face anything the Zone could throw at them. They were no longer sat at the Gates of Hell. They were starting the descent.


After Outpost 12b the road climbed the steep east side of Cordon Valley and disappeared into a hill via a tunnel that turned to the south east. After the tunnel the dirt road connected with the Dark Valley road which had headed due south out of the valley and then turned east and south east. It was after they reached the end of the curving section of road that both Konstantin and Yuriy told the driver to stop the BTR. The message was passed instantly along the length of the convoy and they quickly pulled off the road. The road was running directly south again and ran for about half a kilometre until it reached a bridge across the Pripyat River.

All three Stalkers got out of the BTR followed by Andriy and Serhiy. Pyotr climbed on top of the BTR and made himself comfortable on top of the gun turret. He watched as Konstantin pulled some rusty bolts out of his pockets. Andriy hadn’t seen anything to indicate that they were about to drive in to a problem. He scanned the road ahead and still couldn’t see anything.

‘Last time I came through here the place was almost impassable. Wall-to-wall anomalies for almost the entire length of the road.’ Yuriy said.

‘I don’t see anything untoward,’ Serhiy said. Thank god for that, Andriy thought. He was beginning to think his eyes were going and if his younger subordinate couldn’t see anything then his eyesight couldn’t be that bad. Yuriy nodded to his taller friend who took a single bolt and threw it ahead of himself as hard and as fast as he could. It reached about twenty feet down the road before the road exploded into flame. A jet about eight feet in height seemed to appear as if from nowhere.

‘Well fuck me!’ Serhiy exclaimed.

‘This is going to be a lot more difficult than I first thought,’ the Major said to no one in particular. ‘Yuriy can you find us a way through?’

‘Of course, the anomaly field appears to have dissipated in the last week or so. There should be a way through. It’s just going to take time to find a path.’ He and Konstantin started moving about and throwing bolts, rocks or whatever came to hand to find a safe pathway along the six kilometres of road. The convoy took about six hours to travel the whole six kilometres and finally came to the bridge by six o’clock that evening. They parked the eight vehicles at a large enough flat, anomaly clear space just before the edge of the bank of the river. The Major decided that there was little point in travelling too much further. He ordered everyone to eat ration packs and to stay inside their vehicles. He got out of his BTR and found Pyotr sat away from the parked convoy. He was staring out across the river and down the length of the bridge.

‘Don’t worry there’s nothing along the bridge to slow us down,’ Pyotr said when the Major got close enough.

'I didn’t see you helping in finding a clear path here,’ it was a statement that was trying to be a subtle question and failed miserably. Pyotr grinned up at the Major. Damn is there no way to make this man angry, Andriy thought.

‘Too many cooks, Major. I would just have been in the way. Anyway once we cross the river I’ll be earning the money you’re not paying me. I’ve been there; well I’ve been on the east bank before just not quite this far north.’

‘What will we find there?’ The Major asked.

‘Not to sound too corny but Death, Major. Only Death in all its many varieties. I seriously doubt anyone but a Stalker is going to make it back to the Cordon. And to be brutally honest I doubt even us Stalkers are going to make it back alive.’

The Major was unsure if he should be annoyed with the obvious arrogance of the man, or seriously worried that this experienced Stalker, a man who had spent the last six months surviving, and obviously flourishing, in the Zone thought they were all going to die.

They crossed the bridge an hour later and made camp for the night in a large field a kilometre from the bridge on the east bank. The Major finally allowed his troops and scientists out of their vehicles. He set-up a clear perimeter using the vehicles and some of the razor wire they had brought with them. He didn’t think anyone was going to get a good night’s sleep that night.


Part 2 – The Calm Before the Storm

Mission Log: Major Andriy Leonidovich Kuznetsov

Day 4: 20:38

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to keep this log up to date. And I’m afraid that this will only be a short recap of the last three days.

We reached Town-32 at 13:00 hrs on the second day in Zone. Although we have only travelled fifty kilometres as the crow flies roads very rarely go straight in this country. We also had to make many stops since we crossed the river. Two stops because of anomaly fields: one burner field that stretched two kilometres, and a field of what the Stalkers called ‘whirligigs’. The whirligigs can range up to five meters in diameter and appear as nothing more than dust-devils; however, as soon as something enters them they speed up to tremendous speeds, can lift a man to about three or four meters and then they explode. We saw it demonstrated when a boar (which is nothing more than a huge mutated wild pig) stumbled into one. Pyotr explained the easiest way to spot a whirligig was to look for the rotting bits of carcases around the perimeter.

The men have really taken to the three Stalkers. Their abilities are not only keeping us out of trouble with anomalies, but they are finding edible wild game, and their natural tendencies to be marksmen have won the hearts of my soldiers. The Scientists have a begrudging admiration for anyone who would brave fields of radioactivity and anomalies to find artefacts.

We also had to stop when the convoy was attacked by a pack of pseudodogs. These animals are as big as wolves, are sleek, vicious and intelligent. They can leap at a man from over six meters away and a single bite can take a man’s head off. The worse thing about them is that they can project an illusionary version of themselves that appears to attack almost independently of the real animal. I’m afraid to report that I lost five men due to these animals. Pyotr showed his skill and daring when he tracked down and killed all the animals that killed my men. I’m almost afraid that when we leave this assignment half my men will desert and become Stalkers themselves, following any of the three Stalkers. They are like some romantic hero out of Soviet and Pre-Soviet literature to my men.


The main camp was ready by 02:00 on Day 3. We have power supplied by the diesel engines from two of the Kamaz trucks. The entire town now has electricity. At 08:00 on day three the Stalkers took out three man teams to track down and capture some of the animals that the Scientists wish to study: so far we have two blind-dogs, a single pseudodog (it’s a juvenile and can’t project an illusionary image), four rodents (very large rat like creatures). The Scientists have been promised a boar and a Zombie for their cages by the end of Day 5.


The stockade around the village has nearly been completed and will be finished by this time tomorrow. I will be able to keep a twenty-four guard on strategic positions and the arc-lights on the BTR’s have been rigged up on tall poles so that we can illuminate the surrounding countryside if necessary. The men have also burned the brush back to a distance of ten metres from the town’s fence, giving us a clear line of sight and fire. I am confident that we can keep this place safe and secure for the three weeks we will be here.


Day 5: 19:14

We lost one of the scientists today. The man was stupid enough to get in the cage with the Zombie that the Stalkers brought back this morning. The Zombie had a military uniform and his name tag said he was Syrotenko. According to our database he was one of the Special Forces scouts that were sent to investigate the reports of there being gaps into the centre of the Zone. The dead scientist, Bessarab, thought that he got an immediate reaction from the Zombie when his name was mentioned. The Zombie actually backed away from its cage door. Bessarab thought this meant that there was a glimmer of intelligence, opened the door and the Zombie had him by the throat almost instantly. By the time the guards got to him Bessarab was dead. Oddly the Zombie then lost all interest in the corpse. I suppose we have all been fed on a diet of American films where Zombies just want to eat people’s flesh or brains. Apparently not! The Zombie will eat rodents, cooked food, or anything other 'normal' human food they are presented with. I have ordered that the Zombie is to be taken away from the camp and shot. I have also ordered that any other soldiers seen in a similar condition are also to be shot on sight. The Stalkers say they have no problems catching Zombified Stalkers for the scientists to experiment on. I asked Pyotr why this was, all he said was that any Stalker caught near the Brain Scorchers or staying too long in a radiation field deserved what they got. He said they should have known better. The other two Stalkers agreed with him. I’m not sure if any of my men could feel so callous about the suffering of another person. Konstantin laughed at this and said in his thick Caucasus accent that, 'there was no left to suffer'.

All security requirements are now in place. We are now as secure as we can.


Part 3 - 'All hope abandon, ye that enter in!'

Anton looked up from the microscope and massaged the bridge of his nose. He was going cell-blind he was that tired. He’d been staring at cell cultures from blinddogs all day and he still couldn’t see anything in their cells that would allow them to resist radiation and certain anomalies. Horoliuk would be pleased. He had guessed that it must be something in the animals DNA that gave them their abilities to survive. Anton stood up and stretched his back muscles and watched Ivan through the plastic partition that separated the halves of the lab. Ivan was busy dissecting what the Stalkers had called a 'snork'. Someone had written a few lines from Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark on the creatures toe tag:

He had softly and suddenly vanished away
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see

The odd thing was that Anton had found out that it had been written by a Senior Soldier, not a scientist as he had originally thought. He wasn’t sure what he had been more surprised at, the possibility of a scientist on this mission with a sense of humour or a classically educated soldier. Either way it was a disturbing thought.

Anton walked over to the plastic wall and stared at the face of the snork. Here was a very strange creature indeed. According to autopsy results, which Ivan was confirming now, and DNA scans this creature was human, or at least related to humans, more closely related than apes, but still not quite Homo sapiens sapiens: more like Homo sapien degeneratus, damn that wasn’t even real Latin – I can’t remember what it should be called, Anton quietly thought to himself, the Zone was starting to affect him now. It affected different people in different ways. Some people got paranoid, some became withdrawn, but most just seemed to think slower, became more confused.

The snork ran around on all fours, could jump a tremendous distance, were extremely aggressive and their faces were a strange combination of a snorkelled gasmask and lipless mouth with a jaw full of small sharp teeth. There was no real idea how these animals could have evolved, or devolved so quickly, especially as they appeared to be wearing what was left of military combat uniform. It was one of the many mysteries that the Zone had been throwing at them daily since they had entered here.

Of course the snork had given fuel for Horoliuk’s theory, he was the head researcher. He claimed that the Zone was a manifestation of 'cross dimensional contamination'. Of course it was a wholly improvable, unsubstantiated theory that he had been spouting since before the mission to Town 32 had even been proposed. He said that the original incident back in eighty-six had managed to seriously weaken the walls between dimensions, that the area was already a place where the walls between the dimensions were thin, and that the incident last year just tore a hole through to another reality. Of course it explained why the geography here within the Zone was different than the maps said it should be. Either the fabric of space/time had been severely warped or they were no longer in pre-Second Incident Ukraine. Pripyat had moved south from where it should be and a whole new city had been found. It was more than enough to make a man go mad.

A sudden sense of despair overwhelmed Anton and he actually felt like crying. This place was really starting to get to him, and the worst of it was he could not say why.

He had enough of the lab for the day and needed some air.

‘To the devil with devil dogs and devil men,’ he said loudly to the air as he practically ripped off his lab coat. ‘I need a drink. I hope those soldiers have got that damn still working right,’ and he stormed out of the lab. Ivan took no notice of him; he thought Anton was too highly strung and paying him attention would only encourage him, so he generally ignored him.

Anton took deep breaths as soon as he was out of the lab and in the fresh air. The lab was nothing more than a sealed environment created inside one of the low barns that dotted the village that was called Town 32. He stretched again, turned and headed towards the soldiers barracks to see about a nice drink of moonshine vodka. It didn’t surprise him that the soldiers here knew enough chemistry to create a still; he suspected that it was one of those skills that all soldiers had as an innate ability. As he crossed the main street he glanced at the main gate and noticed that the latest patrol had brought back another specimen. This one was causing some commotion. All thoughts of booze vanished from his head and he sidled up to the front gate to get a look. He felt the air of despair falling over him again. His head began to throb. He could see others near the gate under the same feelings of depression.

The four man patrol had brought in something roughly man-sized and shaped. Yet, there was no way this thing could have been a man.

‘...ook two full mags before it stopped trying to grab me.’ One of the soldiers was saying. ‘But it didn’t go down until we pumped another two mags into it. Damn thing was hard to stop.’ The soldier’s voice was cracking with emotional strain. Anton got a good look at it: it was bi-pedal and appeared to be wearing trousers; it had two arms, no neck, a head and that was were all resemblance to humanity stopped. Its torso was a mass of twisted muscles and its skin was a sickly yellow. It face was also disfigured, with ropes of skin and muscle swathing where the neck should have been, and covering the lower part of the jaw. It was bald and the head was swollen at the rear. Of course the whole body was riddled with bullets; one of the arms had nearly been detached by gun fire. The sense of despair increased and a feeling of impending doom started to creep in, Anton tried to shrug it off.

‘You will all die!’ Anton looked about for the voice he had heard and noticed that no one else had heard it. Then the eyes of the deformed corpse opened and it smiled directly at Anton.

‘Holy Christ,’ he screamed. ‘It’s still alive.’ He back away knocking people out of the way. He grabbed a pistol out of a soldier’s holster and turned to shoot the horror. But it was dead. He could see that. He looked up and everyone was staring at him. No one moved, no one seemed capable. They looked scared of him! Couldn’t they see it had moved!

The Stalker, Pyotr, walked over drew his own desert eagle pistol and stood over the horror that lay on the floor. He pulled the trigger on the handgun twice, firing the rounds directly into its head.

‘We need to burn it!’ It was Pyotr’s voice. ‘It has friends and they seem to be near.’ He turned to Anton and took the pistol out of the scientist’s hands. ‘Don’t worry, it didn’t happen.’ He said quietly to Anton and put a warm hand on the man’s shoulder. ‘It didn’t happen!’ He said again. Anton nodded and back away. Pyotr watched as the scientist ran towards the scientists barracks, he then handed the pistol back to its owner.

‘Someone better go and make sure he’s ok!’ He said to the general crowd around him, he then turned to the nearest Master Sergeant and told him to go get the Major. The soldier ignored Pyotr at first until Pyotr used a more commanding tone, then the NCO nodded and ran off. When the Major turned up two minutes later Pyotr took him to one side.

‘It’s a Controller,’ he said.

‘What’s one of them?’ The Major asked.

‘Some sort of experiment in mind control that went wrong and escaped from the deep labs when the Second Incident took place. They can rip the mind right out of you and turn you into a mindless Zombie. They can make you see anything they want and eventually do what they want.’

‘Snakes, snakes everywhere,’ was suddenly screamed by a guard up in one of the towers, almost as it had been planned. He began firing his rifle at the ground and then he screamed in agony. He must have shot himself in the leg. A cry for a medic went up and several soldiers began running to the tower.

‘This is only the beginning,’ Pyotr told the Major. ‘We have only one chance, if we stay we die.’

‘It’ll take about two hours to get the specimens and computers together and packed up.’ The Major said.

‘Major we don’t have fifteen minutes.’ Pyotr pointed towards the barracks. Two men had just dropped into sitting positions. They removed their helmets and smiled at each other as the pulled their service pistols out. The raised them directly at each other and fired. They both died smiling. The Major began shouting orders but no one was listening. Men were screaming and running about.

‘Why aren’t you affected?’ the Major asked as he saw the lethargy and fear that was gripping his men.

‘Get into your billet and stay there. Let’s hope they lose interest with us.’ Pyotr said. ‘And I am affected Major, but this helps.’ Pyotr pulled an artefact from one of the pouches on his belt. The artefact was about the size of an orange and was a clear, light blue: it had a light outer blue layer that shimmered with streaks of light, the core was a darker blue that surrounded a bright white inner core. The Major had never seen anything so beautiful in all his life. He watched as the artefact shed blue light like it was water. ‘It’s called a Moonlight and it protects me from the affects of mind control.’


The three Stalkers made sure that everyone was inside their billets before the sun had set. Everyone had orders to stay inside and the Stalkers noticed that the soldiers were too frightened to disobey.

The three Stalkers watched the last of the daylight fade and then closed and bolted their own door. They all heard a howl that could only have been generated by multiple throats. It was as if whatever was waiting outside the town was greeting the darkness in the same way birds greet the dawn.

The early part of the night was spent in conversation and reminiscing. The rest of the night they each took turns in standing watch.


It was after midnight that the noises started. Scrabbling of talons on wood, the sound of bodies rubbing against walls. Occasionally a muffled roar could be heard and a faint tinkling of glass.


That night was easy for almost everyone: no one knew what was coming, the vodka was still flowing and hope was still alive that the Controllers would pass them by. The next day the Stalkers went out to check on everyone, as they had artefacts to protect them against the Controller’s attacks.

Most of the houses that the soldiers had used as billets were all clustered together near the main gate; the scientist lived in homes not far from the two barns used as labs. The Officers lived between the two, along with the Stalkers.

Konstantin examined the soldier’s billets and found most of them in good spirits, asking questions and generally waiting patiently. However, he could see their bloodshot eyes that spoke of a sleepless night, and a quiet sense of despair that still hung over them since the day before. He checked the house closest to the main gate and found a window smashed inwards and two of the three soldiers billeted there were missing. There was a mass of blood and bone that could only be the third soldier; it was barely identifiable as human from what remained. He checked the area around the house, and between the house and the fence; he found bi-pedal tracks made by an animal with a long gait. He had seen this type of track before in the Wild Territory in Rostock north of the Garbage. Keeping his mouth shut he went to find Pyotr.

Yuriy never made it into the officer houses, he was distracted by the tracks he found outside them: small paw prints made by a four-legged animal. They looked similar to that of a dog, only bigger with more pronounced claws. He counted about ten animals. He too started looking for Pyotr.

The scientists hadn’t fared as well as the soldiers. Mostly they lived either on their own or in pairs. None of them had slept all night and the coherent ones told Pyotr of voices in the night, of ghostly animals appearing to them and vanishing when they attacked. Two of the remaining nine scientists had died of fright, and a third was catatonic, a forth was tied to his bed as he had attempted to kill his roommate and then when he failed he tried to take his own life. The man’s mind had gone; he just kept giggling and smirking to himself. Anton was found giggling to himself in a crouched, near foetal position.


The other Stalkers found Pyotr just outside the Scientist’s billets.

‘We’re in trouble!’ Konstantin stated. ‘We need to leave as soon as we can.’

‘I have to agree,’ Yuriy said. ‘I’ve seen tracks for quite a few psuedodogs, and Konstantin has seen evidence of at least one bloodsucker. If we stay any longer none of us will live through the night.’

‘I can only agree.’ Pyotr said as he headed towards the Major’s house.

‘It’s going to take about two hours to strip the hard drives out of the computers and to secure all the specimens for transport. And I’m only going by the fact that we only have five people to do the job.’ The major said after he listened to what the Stalker’s said. ‘One of my officers and I will get the hard drives if you three could secure the specimens.’ The three Stalkers agreed.

‘What about the other soldiers?’ Yuriy asked.

‘You’ve seen them, would you trust them with delicate work. If my own feelings are anything to go by they’re too terrified to leave their billets.’ The Major answered. ‘I’ve been on the radio to one of the sergeants and he’s going to get some men on the roof tops to keep an eye out, but I’m afraid that’s all the help from the men we’re going to get.’


Two hours dragged into three. Eventually the hard drives and specimens were loaded into the back of one of the BTR’s. Due to the number of people the expedition had lost it was decided to leave the Kamaz trucks where they were. It was just after noon when the Major gave the order to evacuate. Only two BTR’s were filled; the other men refused to move. The catatonic soldiers and scientists were loaded in to one vehicle with the specimens and data, the officers who were able to leave and the Stalkers. It was a tight squeeze but they managed ten people in one BTR, and thirteen in another.

Despite calls to those that refused to leave no one else left their billets. The two BTRs were on their own.

‘We have to go Major. Either we go now or we all die.’ Pyotr said over the sound of the two sergeants shouting at those in the houses. It was a little after two and the sun was starting to descend. They had about two hours of daylight left and they wanted to be across the river by then.

A sickening cry went up, ‘They’re here!’, and ‘They’re coming for us!’ filled the air.

Pyotr climbed on top of the BTR and scanned the tree line and could easily make out about twenty Controllers. They were just standing there watching. They seemed to be waiting for something. Pyotr climbed back inside and told the Major what he had seen.

‘We can’t wait any longer, but which way.’ Pyotr told him that he not seen any mutants to the North so the Major gave the BTR drivers their orders and the two vehicles started off.

‘May God forgive us for leaving these men behind, and may God protect us.’ The Major whispered as the two vehicles roared out of Town 32.


Part 4 – Out of the Frying Pan

The two BTRs that escaped from Town 32 only contained twenty three people. The vehicle in the lead was Major Kuznetsov’s, and contained the three Stalkers, two scientist, three officers (including the Major) and two enlisted Soldiers; it also contained all the research material they had managed to gather in the six days that they were at Town 32. The second vehicle contained one officer and twelve enlisted men. All the occupants of both vehicles were praying for their lives and their souls.


The main road that led away from Town 32 was twisted like a corkscrew but seemed to lead them someway from the town. As the town quickly vanished behind layers of brush, trees and undergrowth the survivors of the expedition started to breathe easier. Maybe it was all a dream, they thought. Maybe it never happened. It was a defence mechanism only, everyone knew deep down that they could never forget what had happened. No one could forget the noise in the night, the sound of breathing, the rustling of bodies and the howling.

The Major was hoping that the aerial photographs he had been given were accurate as they said that this road led to a bridge across the Pripyat. Yes the road led further north towards Pripyat City and the NPP, but there seemed to be enough land that could be traversable by the BTRs between the river and the Army Warehouse. Or even, if they could get across the hills, to the relative safety of the Dark Valley; at least the BTRs would protect them against the nests of snorks the Stalkers said lived there.

The BTRs barrelled down the uneven, broken road as close to their maximum speed of 85 kph as the drivers thought was safe. They passed small broken houses and farmsteads. They occasionally caught sight of mutated animals romping around the fields and in and out of the smashed buildings. The feelings of optimism that they had had when they had left the town quickly vanished when they realised that they were still in an alien world. Even the Stalkers, who thought they were used to the Zone, began to feel that humans didn’t belong here anymore. This was a world of mutation and alteration. The relatively safe human world was gone, and probably would never return. Assuming that the Zone had even been part of the human world in the first place.

The sanguine mood returned when the land began to slope downwards towards the river. The road cleared a low set of hills and there was the river stretching like a blue wall of freedom. A quiet cheer went up from both vehicles when they got their first glimpse of the river and the bridge. The cheerful mood didn’t last long. Both BTRs skidded to a halt and the Major climbed out with the Stalkers to have a look at the bridge.

The photographs that the Major had said that this bridge was fully intact; however, in reality it was only half there. Something had cut the east side of the bridge completely away. Two hundred meters of empty air stood between where the road joined the bridge and where the bridge actually began. Through his field glasses the Major could see that the bridge had been cleanly cut, there was no wreckage in the river, nor any on this side of the river. The Stalkers said that it appeared that an anomaly had done this, but they had never seen one large enough to do this sort of damage.

‘We’ll have to do a river crossing!’ the Major said to everyone and they set about making sure that everything was secure, evenly spaced about the vehicles and made sure that both BTRs were still watertight. After ten minutes work they drove down a slip road towards the wide but turbulent waters of the Pripyat River.


The crossing was mostly uneventful until they reached the half-way mark and someone looked back at the opposite bank. Everyone craned to look at the monitor for the weapons camera and they all could easily make out ten Controllers lining the ridge above the river. The mutants just watched the retreating BTRs until they gained the opposite shore and then the Controllers slowly melted back into the undergrowth.


The vehicles came ashore about five klicks north of the bridge they had originally crossed the Pripyat on. But they were still inside the unexplored region of the Zone and about three klicks north west of the Army Warehouses, and about ten klicks north of the Dark Valley. The sense of hopefulness returned. They would all make it home. According to Andriy’s map the trees he could see at the top of the ridge were part of the Red Forrest; the forest loomed to the west and sat on the top of the plateau that rose above the river.

The land gently rose to the forest and gave easy access to the hills that surrounded the valleys that made up the relative safety of the Explored Zone. The forest was about a kilometre away and there was literally nothing for anything else to hide behind; it looked as if they were going to have a clear run into the hills. The three Stalkers exited the vehicles and using both their naked eyes and field glasses scanned the sloping hillside in search of anomalies and pronounced the area relatively clear. There were some small springboards but they could easily avoid them.

Gunning the engines the much depleted expedition continued up the hillside.

The Gunner in the rear vehicle reported movement in the tree line. The front vehicles turret swung around to verify and just managed to see a sudden flash as if something had exploded. He could just see the large projectile streaking towards the rear BTR and everyone heard the cry from the rear Gunner, ‘RPG!!!’

The rocket propelled grenade smashed into the rear of the second BTR. It exploded just over the rear wheels and slammed the vehicle’s rear which swung out to its left. The engine growled and the forward wheels span but the vehicle was going nowhere. The first BTR had opened fire at the tree line. One hundred and fifteen millimetre explosive rounds impacted the exact point where the RPG had been fired from. The edge of the forest quickly caught fire. The gunner continued spraying cannon fire into the forest at either sides of the place where the RPG had been fired from, until the Major told him to cease.


- Major, there’s no way we can move this bloody thing. The rear wheels on both sides are gone, and two of the axles are either cracked or shattered. I’ve no idea what they filled the head of that RPG round with but it packed a hell of a punch.

- Ok, so what the plan then. We can travel slow enough to keep you covered until we reach the edge of the Army Warehouses.

- I’ve looked at the map, sir. I think we can cut across through the Red Forest on foot and reach the Army Warehouses in about three hours. We have enough men and armament to make sure we reach the fences. Also if we split up those guys with the RPG will have two targets rather than one.

- Senior Lieutenant, I’m not happy about this. There must be a better way.

- Sir, there can’t be that many men in the woods. We’ll make it through. Besides the information you are carrying is the whole point of the mission. You need to get that to the base in Vyshhorod, as soon as possible. We were fortunate that none of the men were injured.

- Very well. If you are not at the meeting point in two hours I will request attack helicopters and a search party. We won’t leave anyone behind again.


Major Kuznetsov’s vehicle moved off, the vehicles gun turret scanning the tree line covering the soldiers that climbed away from the damaged BTR. Only a single soldier was left at the crippled vehicle. He pulled out two thermite grenades, pulled the pins and tossed them both into the vehicle. Two seconds later a great white light exploded out of the BTR and a bright red fire burned through the interior. The fire destroyed the electronics and any paperwork left behind. There was no way anyone else would be using this vehicle again.

Eventually, as the remaining BTR reached the top of the slope it lost sight of the men on foot; the gun turret whirred around to face the front.

‘God bless them all,’ the Major whispered to himself.

‘I hope he’s listening then,’ Pyotr said quietly into the Major’s ear, ‘he’s got a lot of people to watch over. Including us!’

‘Amen to that!’


The BTR made slow going in the short journey through the hills at the edge of the plateau the Red Forest sat on. Unlike the hillside at the edge of Pripyat River this area was covered with anomalies. Fortunately the anomalies were mostly electro anomalies and the BTR acted like a Faraday Cage and insulated the occupants from the massive electric discharge. It was like being constantly hit by lighting: the electrics went insane. The vehicle had to slow down to avoid the worst of the anomalies and to stop the electrical systems from fusing. It did make the vehicle about half an hour late for the rendezvous with the men that were on foot.

The meeting point was where a road coming out of the Red Forest turned due south and entered the valley that contained the Army Warehouses. The road was cut through the hills and was heavily wooded on both sides until it reached the edge of the valley. The BTR slowly edged its way down the road, the gun turret constantly scanning the surrounding trees for any signs of the men on foot and for anyone hoping to take pot-shots at the BTR with another rocket propelled grenade.

The vehicle was stopped by massive blocks of concrete and old lorry containers. There was no way that they could get the vehicle passed the obstructions without more explosives than they had left. The Major decided to wait for men who were on foot and tried to radio ahead for an attack helicopter to come and pick them up.


- This is Town 32 Expedition Force, codename Red Fox. We are stranded at the following co-ordinates. Please send helicopter for exfil.’

- ...ease re...t. We... did (the response was mostly static) This .... milt... freq... Please st....

- This is Red Fox requesting extraction from the following co-ordinates..

- Red ..ox. Co-ord.... receiv... ...tion team on way. Eta ...... minutes. Repeat ..... thirty minutes.


The news of the extraction teams gave a boost to the dishearten troops. The Stalkers suggested that the move away from the BTR as it was nothing more than a bullet magnet now. A small contingent set-up watch twenty metres behind the BTR hoping to see the men who were on foot, but as the two hour deadline stretched into three everyone doubted that they would see any survivors. The rest of the expedition’s survivors made a make shift camp at the edge of the hills where there was plenty of room for the attack helicopter to land.


There was no warning when the attack came.

None of the sentries had seen anything.

The camp at the rear of the BTR was hit first. Three grenades, fired from grenade launchers, exploded in the centre of the group killing everyone instantly. This attack was nothing more than a distraction. Bandits had managed to sneak up on the survivors as they waited for the helicopters to come and pick them up. Nine months of ambushing Stalkers had given the Bandits an edge in this countryside over the soldiers.

As the Stalkers and the bulk of the survivors moved back towards the BTR the sentries were attacked. Bandits seemed to appear out of nowhere and steel flashed. Knives cut throats, or where expertly slid between armour plates just under the ribcage, piercing the diaphragm and stabbing the heart, killing instantly.

The first that anyone knew of the full attack was when rifle fire slammed into them from the rear. Pyotr watched the Major turn to the weapons fire, his rifle in the process of being raised when a bullet slammed into his eye. The shot dropped his head bent backwards, obviously dead. Everyone else dived for cover as bullets and grenades flashed passed. Konstantin stood his ground as he fired his AKM at the approaching bandits. Pyotr saw a bullet hit him in the neck and the giant went down clutching at the blood spurting from his wound. Pyotr put several rounds into the bandit that had killed his friend.


The battle didn’t last long, as most battles in the Zone never lasted long. This one ended when the attack helicopters appeared and opened fire on the remaining bandits. The bandits fled at the fire and led one of the attacking helos off to the east to where several others were waiting with RPGs. The helo crashed in a depression not far from where the road ran north to the Red Forest. The crew survived and scrambled from the down helicopter and ran to the second helo as it touched down to load the survivors.

The two helicopter crews found the survivors of the battle in a shocked and tattered state: two Stalkers and a single scientist. All the soldiers were dead or missing. One of the Stalkers handed some hard drives to the pilot of the downed helicopter and then insisted that specimens from the back of the BTR were loaded into the helicopter. The scientist was a gibbering wreck and kept laughing at everything and at the dead. The shorter of the two Stalkers climbed on board the helo and asked the pilot to make a stop at Outpost 12. The other Stalker just turned around and started walking north.


Epilogue – Upon Leaving Purgatory

It was a rare occasion for Sidorovich to be sat outside his bunker. But he had been asked to meet someone from the military outpost. For two such rarities in one month Sidorovich wanted to make sure everyone in the village saw what was happening. His prestige with the Stalkers would go up. It was best to be on the safe side, not that he didn't trust the military after all he was their biggest supplier of artefacts. But after the disaster with the convoy that had headed to the Forbidden Zone he was hoping that he wasn’t going to be blamed.

A UAZ-469 drove slowly through the Village then came to a stop not far from the Traders Bunker. After a minute or so a rear door opened and someone got out. Sidorovich recognised the man as one of the Stalkers that had accompanied the military into the Forbidden Zone.

'I thought I would come back and tell you what happened to the Stalkers you hired to go with the military to the Forbidden Zone,’ he said and then he stood there and told the story of the expedition.

‘You said that two Stalkers survived,’ Sidorovich asked, ‘what happened to the other?’

‘He went back into the Red Forest. I doubt we will ever see him again.’

‘Why did he go back into the Red Forest?’ Sidorovich asked. He was horrified that anyone would want to go back in to that hell.

‘He said he owed it to the Major to find his men.’

‘And the egg-head, what happened to him?’

‘Anton will be fine,’ the Stalker said. ‘He’ll probably make a full recovery. They say he’s already making plans for a book on what we found, although no one will ever be able to read it.’

‘And you, Yuriy, what are you going to do?’

‘I’m going back to the Big Land. I’ve had enough of the Zone trying to kill me.’ He walked off towards the UAZ and then turned back. He looked at Sidorovich, seemed to reach a decision and then walked back.

'We don't belong here Fat Man. The Zone isn't for humans, it never was.'
  12:16:24  24 September 2009
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snorkbait
Nexus 6
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 11/21/2008
Messages: 1081
Good story. I liked the build-up, travelling to the town, setting up camp... It all went together well. Ditto for the attack.
It did seem a bit rushed after that, though, especially around the sudden bandit attack. I was also surprised by the death of Kuznetsov, as a lot of the story had been focalized through him: typically, that person has to survive.
The epilogue actually seems to return to the form shown before the river crossing. Yuyiy's reaction is understandable and the narration is more patient.
In common with the other bits, though (especially 'In the beginning...'), there are a lot of interesting points and ideas here.
  13:09:43  24 September 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198
thanks - when I finally finish all the stories for "Tales From The Zone" I will be doing a final reedit and will be looking at the "weak bits". Or I may be bored one day and just do it.
  10:42:18  17 October 2009
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Racemate
Loner
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 02/11/2009
 

Message edited by:
Racemate
10/17/2009 16:10:02
Messages: 1252
Good, I like it.

There are some the same mistakes with the names in the beginning, unless you meant something else.

Your military are kinda too civilized/refined (the meeting Andriy with Lyosha). Although, some variation could be there.


---QUOTATION---
They are like some romantic hero out of Soviet and Pre-Soviet literature to my men.
---END QUOTATION---



Which ones do you mean?


---QUOTATION---
He could see others near the gate under the same feelings of depression.
---END QUOTATION---



It seems, it should be shown in more detailed here. I mean, I can understand Anton's feelings, since he describes them. But how it looks from outside? It doesn't say anything. So, it's a bit unclear, what Anton has seen.


---QUOTATION---
The Gunner in the rear vehicle reported movement in the tree line. The front vehicles turret swung around to verify and just managed to see a sudden flash as if something had exploded. He could just see the large projectile streaking towards the rear BTR and everyone heard the cry from the rear Gunner, ‘RPG!!!’
---END QUOTATION---



It would be sharper, more intensive, if some direct speech would be used there.


---QUOTATION---
...Konstantin stood his ground as he fired his AKM at the approaching bandits. Pyotr saw a ... ... ran to the second helo as it touched down to load the survivors.
---END QUOTATION---



I understand your writer's stream to put all in narration, first. So, it wouldn't be extra, if it was diluted with some direct speech here, too.

IMHO.
  16:14:54  17 October 2009
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Danlo
The Lazy Writer
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 10/21/2008
Messages: 5198

---QUOTATION---
Good, I like it.

There are some the same mistakes with the names in the beginning, unless you meant something else.

Your military are kinda too civilized/refined (the meeting Andriy with Lyosha). Although, some variation could be there.
---END QUOTATION---



what do you think I should have put?


---QUOTATION---
They are like some romantic hero out of Soviet and Pre-Soviet literature to my men.

Which ones do you mean?
---END QUOTATION---

I didn't have any in mind at all - tbh honest it just seemed like a good line - I've only read pre-Soviet literature (well Anna Karenina) and that was some time ago so names escape me.


---QUOTATION---
He could see others near the gate under the same feelings of depression.

It seems, it should be shown in more detailed here. I mean, we can understand Anton's feelings, since he describes them. But how it looks from outside? It doesn't say anything. So, it's a bit unclear, what Anton has seen.
---END QUOTATION---

- I see what you mean


---QUOTATION---
The Gunner in the rear vehicle reported movement in the tree line. The front vehicles turret swung around to verify and just managed to see a sudden flash as if something had exploded. He could just see the large projectile streaking towards the rear BTR and everyone heard the cry from the rear Gunner, ‘RPG!!!’

It would be sharper, more intensive, if some direct speech would be used there.
---END QUOTATION---

I understand what you mean - but the only way I can see to give it more impact would be the rear gunner having conversation with another soldier and then he sees movement - says so over the intercom and has just enough time to shout RPG - let me work on it


---QUOTATION---
...Konstantin stood his ground as he fired his AKM at the approaching bandits. Pyotr saw a ... ... ran to the second helo as it touched down to load the survivors.

I understand your writer's stream to put all in narration, first. So, it wouldn't be extra, if it was diluted with some direct speech here, too.

IMHO.
---END QUOTATION---

Everytime I read that I feel that its a bit sparse but can't think what to do with it - I'll try adding some speech and see how it goes.
  11:42:38  18 October 2009
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Racemate
Loner
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 02/11/2009
 

Message edited by:
Racemate
10/18/2009 11:43:13
Messages: 1252

---QUOTATION---
Your military are kinda too civilized/refined (the meeting Andriy with Lyosha). Although, some variation could be there.

what do you think I should have put?
---END QUOTATION---



Kinda some strong words or expressions. Especially in Lyosha's speech, since he had been living in the Zone some time, and had become resentful, embittered.

Especially when a bottle of strong liquid had been consumed.

But be careful with that, you easily can make them lowbrow warriors.


---QUOTATION---
They are like some romantic hero out of Soviet and Pre-Soviet literature to my men.

Which ones do you mean?

I didn't have any in mind at all - tbh honest it just seemed like a good line - I've only read pre-Soviet literature (well Anna Karenina) and that was some time ago so names escape me.
---END QUOTATION---



Yeah, it's a good line, but it's the very delicate point in the same time. Since there are a lot of people who love Soviet and Pre-Soviet time, and plenty others who hate it. Especially, if you do not mention exactly which hero.


---QUOTATION---
I understand what you mean - but the only way I can see to give it more impact would be the rear gunner having conversation with another soldier and then he sees movement - says so over the intercom and has just enough time to shout RPG - let me work on it

Everytime I read that I feel that its a bit sparse but can't think what to do with it - I'll try adding some speech and see how it goes.
---END QUOTATION---



Maybe, using a short phrases, exclamations, etc. along with action would make a whole picture more alive, methinks.
 
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