| 00:27:24 12 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
A few hours earlier |
Lukash and Voronin emerged from the medical room and sighed with relief; Kern was saved, he wasn’t going to win any beauty pageants but he was alive. Lukash looked down at his blood covered hands and sighed
“Been a long time since I’ve had this much on my hands” he headed for the command centre with Voronin in tow. In the building Lukash began the old routine of washing blood from his hands.
“So Kern’s alive and we’re still no closer to finding out who or what is killing everyone” Voronin sighed as he summed up the day’s events in his head.
“Also our forces are depleted and I’m quite sure morale is an at all time low” Lukash added, drying his hands on an ancient looking towel.
“Thank you Lukash, as always your opinion is of great help” Voronin rolled his eyes as he paced the room.
“We have to look for this Fury person who trained Kern”
“Where do we start? The place is a mess, the Zone is a mess!” Voronin pointed out “It’s not so simple”
“It is” Lukash smiled, gripping the towel tightly; his eyes were losing focus as his mind fired off a million and one ideas “Oh it is” he smiled, grabbing a small case and hurtling past Voronin.
Down a floor, Lukash headed into the room where his engineer sat, a rifle in his hands slowly being put back together.
“Something I can do for you?” he asked. Lukash dumped the box on the table
“Increase range but also power, I don’t want anything to slip through” Lukash explained. The engineer opened the box to see an old Proximity Sensor inside.
“Ok…? Give me an hour” he said laying down the rifle and lifting the machine from its box.
Voronin and Lukash patrolled the camp, rifles slung over their back; they weren’t expecting any action.
“So what’s the plan Lukash?” Voronin questioned as they reached the furthest edge of the camp.
“What is there in the Zone? In the Warehouse district predominantly” Lukash asked enigmatically. Voronin thought about it, taking the Proximity Sensor into account.
“Nothing” he smiled “Nothing alive at any rate” Lukash smiled
“Simple, don’t you think?”
“But if the Fury moves, then we’ll see him” Voronin pointed out
“Not necessarily” Lukash wagged his finger at the General “Animals have a great way of blending into their surroundings, colours for backgrounds; if he had a lightweight suit, or say many light suits; he wouldn’t need armour as there would be nothing for the soldiers to shoot at”
“So you think he’s wearing camo? It’s a good idea and would explain why no-one can kill him but what about the blood-splatter? He would have to be one hell of a soldier to kill so quickly”
“Ninja’s used to, it’s only a small percentage of chance that someone would get close to their skill” Lukash shrugged “I don’t know, either way whoever is killing these people are good”
“Maybe stealth camo” Voronin joked. The general’s shared a laugh
“No no, there’s nothing that sophisticated” Lukash laughed “Invisibility isn’t something I want to work into my plans and definitely not something I want to try and understand”
As they walked both radio’s fizzed into life
“Sir? Can you come to the gate, we have a…situation” the guard said into the radio; he sounded shocked.
“Trouble?” Voronin barked; subtle as ever.
“I am, but no, nothing dangerous…not yet anyway” the soldier replied distantly. Voronin looked at Lukash who shrugged; he was doing it a lot these days.
“Just come to the gate sir” the soldier requested
“Give us a minute” Voronin said, closing the radio; the two of them headed off towards the main gate at a run.
As they approached Voronin swore audibly, rather than under his breath or at anyone in particular. There was a large force of Dutiers at the gate, the ones in the tower had their rifles pointing at whatever lay beyond the group.
“Out of the way!” Voronin barked; it happened.
As they parted Voronin became aware of two things; one was the small group of Monolith soldiers stood directly in front of the gate; a problem if ever there was one but the second was their weapons. They were lying on the floor.
“We need your help” the Monolith Captain jumped in before Voronin could say anything
“Why?” Voronin answered; he hated the Monolith as much as any of the mutants.
“Our forces got hit by something, we have injured but alive; we need a place to help them but also a force to help us get them” the Captain explained.
“Attacked? By who?” Voronin interrogated
“That’s what we’ll tell you when our soldiers are safe” the Monolith Captain said, his eyes were cold; there was no argument. But Voronin was not going to back down. Lukash was curious as to what the outcome was to be; they were very alike these two.
| 21:37:52 3 March 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Message edited by:
Voronin and his group of soldiers, backed up by the remaining Monolith that had come to their base, headed out from the Warehouses immediately. Lukash came along with a few of his Freedom soldiers, in all honesty he would rather have stayed in the warehouse and protected his own but someone had to keep Voronin and the Monolith Captain from shooting each other.|
Walking in a v-formation, Voronin at its head, the group of soldiers were increasingly wary. There was enough sun, that was for sure, but they were still on-edge; whatever was killing everyone had no problems about attacking during the day. So movement was slow, meaningful and always on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.
“So, you got ambushed? How’d that happen?” Voronin asked
“We were marching down, hunting whatever killed our men up north, then we were attacked without expecting it; the general nature of an ambush wouldn’t you say?” the Monolith Captain replied. Voronin didn’t reply, they were crossing a small hill and were faced by the radioactive waters of the Warehouse edge. The small building in the centre stood quiet, no ambusher would be visible, Voronin thought to himself.
“Spread out” Voronin ordered; he could see the fallen Monolith soldiers, there didn’t seem to be any movement from them.
“What were you attacked by?” Lukash asked
“We don’t know, I never saw anything” the Captain explained “We are the Monolith, we were sent here and we came; we were not warned of such an ambush”
“Let’s just get whoever’s alive” Voronin grunted “Lukash, you and the Freedom boys stay up here, keep an eye won’t you?”
Voronin and the Monolith Captain strolled down to the Monolith soldiers who were lying in the muddy grass, one or two had fallen into the radioactive waters; from their injuries Voronin judged them to be dead, and if they weren’t they soon would be with the poisonous water inside them. One Monolith moved as they approached, he rolled slightly to see who was approaching. On seeing Voronin he went for his rifle but then the Monolith Captain came into view and he relaxed.
“You have someone alive?” Lukash said in amazement over the radio “Maybe our great hunter isn’t completely infallible”
“Quiet Lukash, this soldier won’t last” Voronin said quietly, not wanting to alarm the wounded soldier; it was clear that the bullet had hit a major artery or organ, the blood was dark and fast flowing, it was amazing that already he had survived this long.
The Monolith Captain crouched by his fallen soldier, lifting his head into his lap. “Relax, you’re granted this. Did you see anything? Did our attackers come and check you over?”
The soldier nodded, blood sprayed from his mouth as he coughed, his Captain didn’t bother wiping it off his own uniform, instead concentrating on the dying Monolith.
“What did he look like? Was he a S.T.A.L.K.E.R? a Dutier?” he asked softly.
The soldier’s eyes were wide with fear as he remembered what he had seen, what had taken them all out with absolute perfection. He coughed again, spilling more of his life on his Captain’s uniform
“It’s not what we thought, no not what we thought, it’s gone…no it wasn’t” he choked and coughed again before slumping in the Captain’s arms, cold dead eyes looking up in fear at the sky.
“It’s not what you thought?” Voronin repeated “Monolith, what is it that’s brought you here? There are more than just your usual exploration party”
Lukash listened to the words of the dying Monolith through the grille of his radio; the Monolith soldiers had an idea about what was roaming these lands, or rather they’d had an idea, an idea now shattered by the words of a dying man. He scanned the earth and saw that Voronin had a point; there were a lot of bodies here; were they too escaping from a demon in their lands?
“We had theories” the Monolith Captain explained as he lay his soldier down and got back to his feet “We thought it was some advanced bloodsucker, something that’s evolved, maybe enough intelligence to use firearms but apparently not” he sighed “The Monolith didn’t speak, for some reason it did not tell us what was happening; we thought maybe it was a natural happening; we are just meant to die”
“There is no meaning behind this” Voronin pointed out “Someone is killing us off”
“Captain, is this your full Monolith force?” Lukash asked over the radio.
“Yes, it was all those who remained” the Captain said, Voronin’s radio picking him up clearly “We are the last of the Monolith, we are the only ones who will continue to protect our great…”
“Yeah yeah, we’ve heard the stories” Voronin cut across “Let’s get back to base, I have no idea how much sun we have left and I would definitely not like to be here after dark”
The group moved back to the base, leaving the Monolith bodies out in the sun to be picked off by animals. If any animals ever returned to the area. Duty collected their weapons and they all headed back to the warehouses without meeting any resistance.
| 21:59:31 3 March 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
As they neared the main gate, Lukash pulled Voronin to one side casually, they still walked but several paces behind their soldiers.|
“You never checked the small house” Lukash pointed out “It would have been the best way to hit the soldiers from a distance, the blood splatter from the soldiers would have confirmed it too if I’m not mistaken”
“Never miss a beat do you, Lukash?” Voronin chuckled “Yes I avoided the building on purpose, as I suppose you expect. Can you think why?”
Lukash thought about it; nothing stood out, they were hunting this person and so it would have been logical to check the building where their killer was hiding.
“Don’t forget to factor in your Proximity Sensor” Voronin said as he butted in on Lukash’ thoughts.
Of course! Don’t spook our prey! Lukash smiled at him Oh he’s a wry one is Voronin
Voronin smiled, reading Lukash like an open book for the first time.
“Yes” he nodded as they entered the warehouses “Later” he waved, setting off in a different direction, towards the medical area.
“Later” Lukash smiled, the casual goodbye off Voronin was more than met the eye “Not later as in, see you later, later as in later” he laughed to himself; “if things were different maybe Voronin would have been a good ally, except of course for being rude, argumentative, hot headed, trigger happy and generally an outright bastard; it’s all good”
Later came in a few hours, while being covered by snipers, Voronin and Lukash headed back into the fields beyond the warehouse, they were headed in the general direction of the house while staying within view of their soldiers. The ideal spot, they found, was at the top of the hill, the house was a short distance away while the base was right next to them.
They sat down under the cover of a tree, Voronin, with the proximity sensor in his bag, activated it while under the guise of getting a drink out for them both. It beeped slightly and they both watched from the corner of their eye as the red hand swept the screen continuously. There were many dots on screen; but they were all in the warehouse. Lukash increased the range, slowly as the range increased its power became less but there should easily be enough to cover the house.
Once Lukash was sure the house was within the Sensor’s proximity they sat back and spoke casually; to any onlookers that would seem. In fact both of them were eagerly watching the Sensor’s sweeping screen; once the murderer in the house moved, they would have him. It continued to sweep by the screen, nothing showing up, continuously it swept by and by; there was nothing in the cabin, this detector would have picked up the slightest movement, even the chest expansion caused by breathing so unless this hunter could hold his breath for quarter of an hour; there was no-one in the cabin. They looked at each other regrettably and, once Lukash had placed the empty vodka bottle back into the bag, they got to their feet.
Suddenly the sensor beeped, the shrillness of it muted by the bag’s fabric but it was certainly there! Again it beeped as the sensor did one full cycle. As Lukash opened the bag, Voronin drew some binoculars and scanned the radioactive desert; he could see nothing, but the proximity sensor had better eyes. Lukash pulled the entire sensor out of the bag, turning to face the house and he watched as over and over the sensor beeped; something in the house was now moving.
“Soldier” Voronin ordered, the soldier tossed him down his rifle.
Voronin, now peering through the powerful eye of a scope, scanned the broken wood cabin; there was certainly something moving in the shadows, he could see the faint outline of its edge. Without a word to Lukash, Voronin calculated the distance, the wind resistance and any drop the bullet may take and fired. Lukash jumped at the deafening crack from the rifle and he saw as the large calibre round punched through the side of the building. Voronin fired twice more, clearing any hanging wood and exposing the individual to sunlight. He sighed; it was just a pig, a pig which must have somehow foxed the sensors by accident. It was now very dead, through the scope Voronin could see the entrance and exit wounds, the blood splattered across the walls that still dripped.
“Just a pig” he said, lowering the rifle from his shoulder
“Well at least there’s life coming back to the Zone” Lukash said with a shrug; that was better than nothing.
| 13:47:54 5 March 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
With night fast approaching, the base began the new routine lock-down procedure. The security lights were activated, the gates were drawn across, the night's teams were paired up and sent to their appropriate positions while everyone else sat around the fire.|
Lukash on the other hand was in what had become the medical quarters, sitting by the unconscious Kern. He checked him over; the bleeding had now stopped but it would be some time until he completely healed, but otherwise all was looking well for the unfortunate man. Lukash didn't know if Kern should be referred to as a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and so stuck with "man" he poked Kern lightly in the cheek; he didn't even move he was so heavily under.
"He's drugged" medic one said as he crossed to the pair "He'll be out for quite sometime, but they were the last. Once he wakes up, he's going to feel it"
"Maybe we'll take a trip back to the Warehouses and pick up some stuff" Lukash said "I'm sure Barkeep won't mind us raiding his stash"
"Us? Send Voronin, that's what his grunts are for" the medic suggested as he took a bottle of vodka and took a long swig from its neck.
"I think the time has come for us to stop referring to them as such" Lukash said, he sounded downhearted "Friendly banter is all good and well but the Freedom/Duty wall is collapsing. Everyday I find myself spending more time in the General's company and I think we would do well to join forces"
"If you say 'for a better Zone' Lukash, I'll bottle you" the medic warned with a smile "I've worked with you for long enough to know when you're just being familiar with a person. Stockholm Syndrome they call it" Lukash glared at him whilst aiming a kick at the medic
"Funny man!" Lukash said loudly as the medic dodged behind a pillar. Lukash sighed as he picked up one of the other bottles of Vodka
"I think I'll go drink with my captors, if that's ok by you" he joked. The medic waved cheerfully as Lukash left the room
"Okay then Kern, lets talk about your family life" was the last thing Lukash heard as he closed the door behind him.
Crossing to the fire, Lukash activated several security floodlights; there really was no escape from them, he smiled as he tossed the lid of the bottle into a hedge. Voronin was sat with a few of his closer Dutiers, they had their helmets off and had no qualms with Lukash joining them. As the Vodka was passed around more and more soldiers joined their group.
"So then, Monolith eh? Now that was a surprise" one of the soldiers said
"Monolith, anyone seen any of them since we got back?" Lukash asked
"Not a peep, they're in that building" he pointed at one of the two buildings opposite their tumble-down warehouse. Lukash got to his feet, swaying slightly, and crossed to the building in question.
He knocked on the green door before opening it and stepping inside. There were no lights on, fumbling for the switch Lukash moved across the room; it was there somewhere. Eventually he found it, flicking it happily Lukash turned to the room as the familiar buzz of the lights powering filled the room.
"Monolith friends, won't you join us outside?" Lukash smiled. The lights flickered before finally powering up, bathing the room in white light. Lukash jumped; the Monolith were stood only a few feet from him, hands behind their backs staring at him.
"Bejesus!" Lukash said as he jumped "Were you standing there the whole time? And why in the dark?"
"It's easier to think in the dark, the Monolith can contact us better when our minds our open" the Monolith Captain explained
"Ok" Lukash smiled "Do you fancy joining us outside? It's the usual end-of-day discussions"
"After all that has happened you are still so lax with your security" the Monolith Captain sighed
"Lax, no no no, my friend, we are prepared" Lukash explained "Hundreds of floodlamps wired to proximity sensors dotted strategically around the base; nothing can get in without us knowing about it"
"And what about when you're drunk?" the Monolith Captain asked
"The lights aren't" Lukash beamed "Now will you join us?"
After a brief discussion "We will, lead on"
"Here they come" a Freedom soldier said to Voronin who had his head back, Vodka bottle wedged firmly in his mouth; its contents rapidly being flushed down his throat. He lowered the bottle and handed it across to another soldier.
"Monolith" he growled "Oh what did we ever do wrong to have them on-side?"
"Well at least we know we didn't insult the Monolith" one soldier joked "Otherwise they'd have been here to kill us"
"That's a good point" Voronin commended "But its wrong" he added; the group laughed.
The Monolith, it turned out, were not as crazy as they seemed. Of course they still sounded completely off their box when they began mentioning the Monolith but otherwise they were harmless. Voronin found himself getting on well with them. As he sat back, leaning on his rucksack for comfort, Voronin began on a train of thought he had never even conceived before this entire even.
'Duty, Freedom and the Monolith. Wow. We get on, I never thought that we would be so alike. If our views weren't so different we could rule the one without problem. Let's see those Bandits mess with a force like this one'
Then one of the Monolith's mentioned the crystal and his train of thought vanished
'No, they're out of their tree entirely, so we can scratch the Monolith from that idea. Hell, there aren't even that many...
"Oi Voronin you lump" Lukash said, pushing the General off his rucksack "Where's your thinking at?"
"Somewhere that's not as cloudy as your mind Lukash" Voronin replied, it was a simple gesture with a sting; Lukash was quite drunk.
"Yeah well, we deserve it" he smiled
"Lukash" Voronin said sympathetically as he took the bottle "You're the only one that's drunk" the group laughed heartily as Lukash blinked in total confusion.
Laughter lifted a great weight from their shoulders, Voronin found himself smiling broadly as he looked around, scanning through the great number of smiling faces they had. It was great to see everyone enjoying themselves. Looking beyond, into the darkness, through a veil of heat-shimmer, Voronin looked out to the horizon where there was nothing but more black; no moon or stars tonight.
Then the heat shimmer moved. At first Voronin took it for granted Heat moves, nothing big there then it began to advance, moving at speed. Finally Voronin came to his senses; that was no heat shimmer!
He sat up, unable to make a noise as the bloodsucker hurtled towards him and the fire, he was already reaching for his rifle before anyone else had even noticed its existence. Then it reached the fire, raising a hand and suddenly, in the glimmer of the flames, everyone could see it; there but just about unable to make out with its shimmering skin. What it dropped; they could entirely make out without doubt.
That's grenades that is Lukash thought, then the power of what he had thought struck through the drunken mist Grenades!!!
"Mummy" one of the soldiers behind Lukash managed to say as he swung his rifle.
"Mummy?" Lukash repeated; this was a confusing train of thought.
A tremendous series of flashes and deafening bangs took the group down; everyone was without helmets, they had absolutely no protection from this attack. Voronin felt himself being dragged somewhere, then the tightening of ropes around his arms.
"Bloodsucker" he growled sub-consciously
"Not so much" the bloodsucker replied.