| 23:43:20 29 January 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
It didn’t go according to plan. Standing there, in front of the Stalkers with Lukesh and the Duty commander the Barkeep felt traitorous. They were all looking his way, while it was true that they weren’t enemies; they felt like it. For years they had been treated as hated outcasts but the Barkeep hoped they would run with the plan. The Stalkers were an elite-army unto themselves; each one was as good, if not better, than your average Duty or Freedom squadron when it came to wiping out mutants or discovering anomalies.|
“Brothers, I’ve come to ask something of you all” he started, Lukesh opened his mouth and took a breath to say something but the Barkeep silenced him with a wave “These aren’t your soldiers Lukesh, don’t preach to them” Barkeep hissed. A few of the Stalkers heard this, a shallow chuckle passed through them. “You got told” one of the Stalkers shouted over the heads of the others. Another collective chuckle.
“There’s been a slaughter up north, someone is wiping out all life without care and its heading this way, from Pripyat all the way down to the Warehouses it has spread; unstoppable but unseen” the Barkeep explained “But, it’s not some anomaly the Zone has created; it’s a person, using bullets and a gun; he has killed our kind, killed Duty and killed Freedom. Whoever it is has no compassion for anyone; Duty and Freedom don’t have the strength or the intelligence to stop whoever it is; they need us”
“Why can’t they deal with it? Duty have soldiers everywhere” one of the Stalkers argued
“We’ve had to retreat” the Commander admitted “Numbers don’t mean anything, whoever is doing this is moving fast and hard; we can’t determine how the person moves or where he’s heading next, it’s like he never sleeps; kills happen anytime of the day or night”
The same hush dropped over the Stalkers as had done in the Duty base. The Stalkers were whispering among themselves. The Barkeep found his heart nestling somewhere in his throat; make or break time. His mind was still settled on who could have the skill to take out groups of soldiers with such speed. He would have thought some evolution of the Brain Scorcher; if they were in immediate proximity then they would die on the spot but that didn’t explain the gunshots.
“I’ll join you” one of the Stalkers announced, raising his rifle. The Barkeep nodded
“Thanks” he smiled. Other rifles were raised
“Me too” “I shall join you also” and other variations echoed throughout the room.
“I won’t be joining you I’m afraid Barkeep, something about this isn’t striking a good chord” the Stalker explained regrettably. The Barkeep silenced him with a wave.
“You don’t have to explain yourself Kerch, there are many who won’t join this mission for the reason that it is incredibly dangerous” he sympathised, he had planned on staying back but now that so many were willing to go with; he had to be there as their Captain of sorts.
The party departed the Bar and headed North several hours later, Duty had amassed the largest force; lines and lines of black soldiers stood out in the sunlight like a small army. Freedom were there in large numbers too but the Barkeep was most impressed with the Stalkers. They stood there, almost thirty of them, casually leaning on their rifles; there was no order among them, each one was a professional in his own right and surveyed the Duty and Freedom soldiers with a mild smugness.
“So then, where first?” the Barkeep questioned; the Commander pointed to a tower in the distance
“The Warehouses, largest slaughter site; we’re setting up there tonight” he explained
“Do you have a plan?” Barkeep asked, cocking his rifle
“Sit and wait” the Commander told him; it was a pretty lame plan the Stalkers thought.
As the army marched out, the Stalkers chatting among themselves showing no military precision but Lukesh and the Duty Commander could see their eyes were burning with determination.
“Barkeep” one of the Stalkers whispered, Barkeep didn’t look around he just made a sound that suggested he was listening “Tonight, while the Duty and Freedom boys are patrolling we’re going to use them as bait” the Stalker explained. Barkeep smiled; that was the thinking that put them ahead of Freedom, willingness to sacrifice.
“They have sniper towers, Duty and Freedom will be on them” another Stalker added quietly “That will suggest that they’re expecting an attack, but they’ll be the obvious target”
“We need a few Stalkers in the camp though, spread out in groups of three, one group per guard tower” another suggested “If all the Stalkers went missing; well, it would look a bit suspicious”
“Groups of three, agreed, just be careful; whoever it is operates in the dark” the Barkeep warned. There was a murmur of agreement as the Stalkers spread out to talk amongst themselves.
It was getting dark, and the barkeep got a taste of what Lukesh had said; it was eerily silent, for miles nothing stirred, even the wind was keeping a low profile.
“Take a look” Lukesh called from up ahead.
They had stopped on a cliff edge, they were someway up a hill that towered above the open areas away from the Warehouses. More muttering from the Stalkers, most of it exclaiming and many gasps; For miles there were bodies scattered across the grasslands. Large groups of Freedom soldiers, lone Stalkers, Duty soldiers, mutants; hundreds and hundreds of them lying face down or on their backs. The barkeep raised his hands to his mouth; it was horrific, bone-chilling. He turned away but in his mind he saw them, men of all statures and ages cut down by someone. Countless numbers lying there in their own blood, in the dirt, unburied and callously left out in the open. One Stalker walked over to him, standing directly in front of him.
“He dies tonight” he growled, he was shaking but it was not fear; it was rage. The Barkeep saw it in his eyes; somewhere between distress and shock. The Barkeep nodded
“Agreed” was all he could say.
They made their way towards the Freedom Warehouses, Duty and Freedom soldiers teaming up to take positions on the sniper-towers. As night fell countless Stalkers spread out in their teams, like ninja they snuck into the night; Duty and Freedom soldiers unaware that they had become bait in the grand scheme of things. As the moon rose in the sky the Stalkers settled in for a long night but they were all on edge, rifles dismantled and rebuilt with upmost care; there would be no jammed guns tonight, they were a well oiled machine, unparalleled killers. As the Stalkers had left the camp, barkeep had pulled one of them to one-side to tell him to be careful. The Stalker had looked him straight in the eye as he cocked his silenced sniper rifle “This is what we do” he had said before jumping the wall and disappearing into the darkness.
| 23:06:25 29 January 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
My first Stalker-esque Fan Fiction
It was winter in the Zone, or rather as winter as it was going to get, for there was no snow, there hadn’t been since he, the Barkeep, had come there. Lucky that, glowing snowflakes would be a sight to see but then again radiation was as much of a problem now as it had been when Chernobyl had first lit up their skies on that fateful day.
Cleaning the glass in his hand the Barkeep surveyed the Stalkers in tonight; there were an awful lot of them, the entire floor space was filled, he had to remove the chairs to make sure there was enough room for them to stand and in all honesty he didn’t blame them. Outside those doors it was about as warm as Duty’s sympathy for Freedom. As his mind contemplated those black clad soldiers two appeared in the doorway. The Barkeep’s head snapped across to look at them; he put the glass down immediately. The atmosphere in the room dropped like a stone as the crowd stepped back; Duty had that effect on people. It was rare for them to come to the bar, no not rare; unheard of. The Duty members made their way through their hated Stalkers, coming to the bar.
“With all respect gentlemen, I wouldn’t ban you for being Duty, but you have your own bar, this here is a Stalkers bar” the Barkeep informed them, keeping his tone civil but there was a sting there; he wanted them out. The soldiers raised their hands
“We don’t want trouble Barkeep, we need your help” the soldier explained “We would not be down here otherwise” the soldier looked around at the inches of space the Stalkers had given him. The Stalkers, to be fair to them, were pushed up as close to their partners as they could be, sardines in a concrete can that was the bar.
“What’s it about?” the Barkeep wondered; Duty didn’t ask for help, ever, but then again they never entered the bar either.
“Its best we do this in private” the soldier suggested
“Our place” the Duty member stepped away from the bar. Curiosity had a hold on the Barkeep and so, closing the wooden shutters, apologised to the Stalkers but they understood, he could see that they were as intrigued as he was. Leaving the bar under the watchful eye of his guard, the Barkeep followed the Duty officers out of the bar and across the freezing concrete to their own place.
They descended into the Duty main-base, off-limits for civilians but the Barkeep knew what it looked like, he had worked with ex-duty members (as rare as they were, usually someone was Duty until death, something that happened a lot in the Zone) passing the lines of Duty, the Barkeep was starting to worry, there were more Duty than he usually saw. Some he recognised, for they had their helmets off and the Barkeep, having once explored a fair bit of the zone, recognised them as Duty soldiers who were stationed as far out as the Red Forest. What are they back here for?
As he passed through more lines, heading towards a small table, the Barkeep faltered mi-step; Freedom. It was surreal, black and yellow stood side-by-side. The Duty Commander seemed to sense the Barkeep’s confusion.
“Sit down barkeep” he ordered from out of sight. As the crowd parted, allowing him to sit, he almost gasped aloud; Lukesh was there, sat at the table, across from the Duty commander. The barkeep did as he was asked, sitting opposite Lukesh who gave him a curt nod.
“Can someone explain what’s going on here?” the Barkeep questioned looking around him. Duty, Freedom and him, a known Stalker contact sitting pretty in the heavily protected Duty Camp; surreal wasn’t strong enough a word for what the Barkeep was thinking.
“Barkeep, seeing as you’ve just joined us, I would like you to meet Kern” he gestured to a young man, early twenties at most, dressed in typical green Stalker garb, his short blonde hair had traces of dirt and his pale skin was coated in the stuff. The young man, Kern, gave a nod; he seemed the most nervous there.
“Lukesh was kind enough to bring him to us” the Commander explained “and Kern will be kind enough to tell us his story” there was malice in the Commander’s voice, he was not a man to argue with even when he was unarmed.
Kern sat forwards and took a glass of water off the table, he was shaking, the glass close to spilling as he took several large gulps.
“I’m from the North, Pripyat and I came down here for your help” he said “We’ve had waves of unprecedented killing, hundreds dead, not just Mercenaries; everyone is being slaughtered”
“Bloodsucker, they’re tougher than people give them credit for” the Barkeep suggested “One of them must have got smart, attacking at night when they’re harder to pin down” Kern shook his head violently
“Gunshots” he added “They were killed during the day, usually groups of them at once and not once has anyone ever got a shot off, all the rifles we found were fully loaded and there were no spent cartridges”
The Barkeep looked from the Duty commander to Lukesh who raised his eyebrows.
“Any ideas?” he asked.
“A rogue Stalker?” he suggested
“But all those bodies without a single shot being fired” Lukesh said
“That’s not all” Kern added “We’ve had some of the dead…” he paused, taking a drink “…well…they had no injuries; they were just dead”
For a few seconds there was silence, Barkeep broke it with a question he had been building for
“With all respect, this is mighty interesting but why are we getting involved? Duty and Freedom, you’d never have sat down over such a triviality”
More silence, only now it was tainted with something the Barkeep couldn’t quite put his finger on. Lukesh spoke over the both of them
“The Army Warehouses are nigh-empty, of life anyway” he said “We’ve been wiped out and the Duty members fled too, my men followed suit; something’s killed all the mutants in the area. I mean all of them, you can go there now and listen; tranquillity has descended but it’s not the type of tranquillity that you can sit through; it’s the tranquillity that comes hand in hand with fear” he explained “So we’re putting a party together, we need Stalkers too, our soldiers are good but Stalkers can hold their own in a different way; we need those expertise”
The Barkeep sat back in the squashy sofa and rubbed his eyes; it was one of those situations. “You’re sure it’s no anomaly?” the Barkeep suggested “Because if I send Stalkers out to get massacred by an anomaly I’m going to be shunned, they won’t ever come to me again” the Duty Commander shook his head.
“There’s more to it, people have been killed in groups, all across the Zone; massacred where they stand, you can tell it’s not an anomaly because there’s a kill pattern, look hard enough and you can determine where the killer was stood” the Commander told him. The Barkeep sighed
“Come on then, to the Bar” he got to his feet, Lukesh followed suit, taking Kern by the arm and helping him up forcefully.
“Come on” he smiled; it was pleasant with hidden bite “We have hunting to do”