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| 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”
| 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.
| 19:12:36 5 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
**As Stated! Had work today for hours but I got some done **|
**Still writing now, just posting before food**
Every meter of the Freedom base was bathed in vivid white lights once the Duty soldiers had finished wiring up the lamps then just as quickly they went out. “Security lights up and running, how’s it look?” the soldier called up. At the top of one of the sniper towers two Duty and two Freedom soldiers stood looking down at the compound. The soldiers wiring stepped into the security field and immediately the base was lit up like the old Chernobyl explosion.
“Nothing’s going to get in here without us or everyone else in the Zone for that matter, noticing” the Freedom soldier joked, the Duty solders chuckled. A Stalker in the area laughed and elbowed his partner
“Would you look at that, Duty and Freedom actually sharing a joke” the Stalker smiled. They were a stone’s throw from the wall, hidden in a low-cut hedge, rifles lying next to them. At their feet a portable proximity unit sat quiet.
Inside the compounds walls the Barkeep sat with the usual suspects around a fire. Their minds were now on Kern. “So what brought you to the Zone, Kern?” Lukesh asked
“My parents, my father was a nuclear physicist and my mother a medical student” he said “We lived at Pripyat, they worked at Chernobyl and on that day…well, it’s safe to say they never walked out alive”
Silence, it seemed to be a common occurrence these days.
“How did you survive the blast? Pripyat isn’t exactly miles from ground-zero” a Freedom soldier asked
“A Stalker took me in, you could say the original stalker” Kern explained “He was a guard up at Chernobyl, the head of security but also a scientist, well, I think he was a scientist, he certainly knew his way around the dangerous chemicals in the area”
“So you survived the years until the Stalkers arrived, then what?” Barkeep questioned politely
“Well, its only recently the major forces have moved into Pripyat, we had an accord, they left us alone and if they didn’t…well they had to die” he laughed “But then it came, death on the wind they called it, Pripyat quietened, bodies were found and I fled”
“What about your stalker guardian? Did he get caught or get out?” the Duty Commander asked
“No idea, got up one day and he’d gone, I imagine he went out to sweep the area. I waited a few days but nothing so I barricaded the door and the next day at daybreak I made a run for it”
He sighed, scratching his head and looking up at the dark sky. Tonight there were no stars, there was no moon, it seemed that even the very heavens were backing away, hiding out of sight from this predator.
“Tell us about Pripyat, what happened on your escape?” Lukesh said; Kern smiled, Lukesh was a soldier after his guardian’s heart, always on the job and never taking a moment to relax. Kern thought back, onto that day, the look on his face told the others his memories weren’t the types he wanted to share and some of the soldiers preferred he keep them to himself.
“If I’m honest, Lukesh, there’s not much to tell” he shrugged staring into the heart of the fire.
“Not much to tell?!” Lukesh barked, a crack in his usual coolness “You’re telling us Pripyat was slaughtered and there’s ‘not much to tell’?” Kern looked up at him, a look that caused Lukesh to reel subconsciously; he had seen predators in the wild look at him like that but never a man.
“Bodies Lukesh, bodies!” Kern snapped “Hundreds of them lining the street, their blood baking in the sun, massacred, handing from the very drains; can you imagine what that’s like? Heading down a street looking straight ahead because all around you, EVERY BIT OF ROAD IS BLOOD STAINED!” Kern was on his feet now, raging at Lukesh who had shouldered his rifle but kept it pointed away “Every single street!” he emphasised “All of them! Hanging bodies, bodies strewn aside like so much litter! I recognised them all, THEM ALL LUKESH!” he advanced on Lukesh but found his way barred by two Freedom members. Lukesh was on his feet now, wary, the security lights were on because of all the movement. Stalkers were stepping from the shadows, taking advantage of the trouble to change shifts.
The Duty Commander placed a hand on Kern’s shoulder “I know how you feel, I once stumbled upon a platoon of my shoulders killed by a pride of Bloodsuckers” Kern looked as though he was ignoring the Duty commander but eventually he nodded.
“It’s not easy, seeing everything I knew slaughtered” Kern admitted “Lukesh, I’m sorry”
Slowly he headed for the main Freedom building, once inside he closed the door behind him. The group looked at each other, Lukesh seemed as though he wanted to speak to Kern some more but the Duty Commander waved him down. “Sit your ass down, Lukesh” he ordered “He’s not a soldier like us, he doesn’t have the stomach to see death…he’s just another casualty of the Zone”
| 01:27:33 6 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
The night wore on, it was indeed a long night, the Stalkers changed ranks secretly once more and came to join the Barkeep around the fire.|
“So then, Commander, what’s the plan for the Zone once this is all over and done with?” Barkeep asked. The Duty officer scratched the top of his helmet, his breathing heavy through the grille.
“Who knows? This relationship will not last, we will return to shooting each other” he said. Lukesh shrugged
“We were winning, nothing has changed” he smiled. The Duty Commander laughed
“You were winning were you? I’ll be sure to carve that on your grave”
The two of them laughed, the edge in their banter was clear, so clear in fact it could have cut the very flames that separated them.
“Anyway, he’s not a Commander” Lukesh pointed out, swigging from his bottle of vodka before passing it on to a Duty soldier “He is a General” the Duty Commander (now turned General) shrugged
“Each to their own” was his reply as he lay back “I’m going to sleep, keep an eye out”
Lukesh rolled his eyes
“Typical Duty” he jested as he too lay back “Barkeep, your watch”
“Oi, we never discussed this!” he argued but the two men were already asleep. Looking around him Barkeep saw most of the men, who he had thought were awake, were merely sleeping sitting up. Some of them leaning on their rifles others rather cleverly leaning on their hands and looking as though they were listening. Barkeep shook his head and sighed; long night ahead.
Pashka Buffalo, a Duty soldier who had been stationed in the Warehouse area to begin with, was stood high on a watch-tower surveying the deep blue sky above him; sunrise was coming and not a moment too soon in his books. All night he had been stationed up this cold tower and he wanted sleep. Energy drink now made up about 70% of his blood he thought. Orange shards were beginning to penetrate the sky. Footsteps beneath him didn’t faze Pashka; the new pair were on their way up to take watch. As planned a Duty and a Freedom pair appeared. On the floor the Freedom soldier, who had been softly slumbering for the last four hours, lifted his head.
“Aye, shift change” Pashka confirmed, taking the hand extended to him and pulling the old enemy to his feet.
The Duty soldier who had joined them stretched “Damn uncomfortable down there, try not to sleep on the ‘crete”
“Who would sleep on concrete?” Pashka laughed. The other soldier shrugged
“Everyone did” he said, turning off his torch.
The sun was now almost visible, a shimmering on the horizon before the final raise. All four soldiers turned towards the sun; it was a beautiful sight, they had been told. In a few seconds the sun would come above the horizon and golden light would flood the valley like a mist. It came as smooth as they had expected, the orange and yellow sphere peeking over the very edge of the world; the golden rays cut through the mist, lighting it and the valley up and in those seconds the Zone looked beautiful, as though in the night it had been peppered with diamond-rain. Trees in the sunlight were dark and mysterious, their long slender branches casting shard shadows but…something was wrong, the soldiers froze as their eyes took in the scene. Oh god Pashka thought, running to the edge of the tower.
In the morning sun, casting deathly shadows, hung the bodies of the Stalkers out the night before. Countless bodies, shot dead, wire lashed tightly around their exposed throats hung like tree-ornaments, swaying slightly in the fresh-morning wind.
“GENERAL!” Pashka screamed, and it was a scream, a scream from deep inside where fear clawed its way up his chest. The Freedom soldier who had been on duty with Pashka took an unconscious step back, a choke escaping him.
Pashka screamed again, not for his commander, but for himself. Across the Warehouse district the bodies hung. Countless Stalkers, Dutiers and Freedom soldiers with rope around their throats. Hanging from the beams of the Warehouse, at the base of the towers; everywhere. The rest of the camp awoke; screams for fellow comrades broke across the valley as swift as the morning sun. Or was that Mourning Sun?
| 03:35:37 6 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Lukash, the General and the Barkeep stood in the shadows of the kitchen area, the chef lay drunk in the corner, moaning, but they ignored him.|
"Barkeep, I'm sure you have a reason as to why your Stalkers were outside the wall? We have found the place where they were executed; just like before it was a perfect kill-zone" the General removed his helmet and stowed it under one arm.
"We were....the Stalkers were using your men as bait while your men were on an eye out for the intruder, it was a simple enough plan" the Barkeep explained. General Voronin had him by the throat in an instant. The Barkeep quickly backpeddled but Voronin used the movement to his advatage, using it to lift him from the ground and slam him against the concrete wall.
"You let them outside!" he roared, his face inches from the Barkeeps "You-let-them-outside!" he repeated loudly
"I know! They were capable men!" Barkeep gasped between tight breaths.
"Think, Barkeep! What happened in the night? WHAT HAPPENED?" he roared. The Barkeep thought about it
"Nothing! We got no warning, the Stalkers came and went...." he felt his heart stop; the stalkers came and went. Voronin let him go and the Barkeep slid down the wall, his shaking knees unable to hold his weight.
"Oh god....oh please god no" he whispered "The killer walked right in on the shift-change...."
Lukash was quiet, thinking but also not wanting to say anything just incase he followed General Voronin's lead of choking the Barkeep to death. His men had been among the men they had buried that morning, it was a personal happening but he had to keep a clear mind, there was more to come, he knew it.
"There's no use arguing about it, its another mistake to add to the list but not one we'll make again" Lukash said. Voroning disagreed, moving faster than Lukash was anticipating he drove his steel toe-capped boot into the Barkeep's ribs. Before he could kick again Lukash intervened which came in the form of a well-placed elbow to the throat.
Voronin stumbled back, gasping and coughing loudly.
"Keep a hold of yourself!" Lukash ordered "We don't have time to be kicking the shit out of each other, there's someone out there who's single purpose is to kill everything! We don't have time or the energy to waste on each other" Voronin shot him a dirty look before jamming his helmet back on. Once again the gutteral breathing commenced.
"You're right Lukash, but if you strike me again, you'll be sorry" he said, his voice hoarse even through the grille; he would have trouble speaking for sometime. Lukash didn't bother responding, instead he crouched to speak to the Barkeep.
"Are you ok?"
"I think he broke a rib" he groaned, lying on the floor clutching his side.
The General snorted and walked away, muttering to himself about Stalkers and the Barkeep.
Duty officers were waiting outside, their dead were on a pyre waiting for the General to strike the match; this was their way of respecting their dead, a warriors burial. As the fire burned, the black acrid smoke rose high into the already dark clouds.
"Get everyone here now, I want you in-line and ready to recieve orders in the next ten, ignore the Stalkers and Freedom, understood?"
The soldiers saluted and were off; of course it was understood. The Duty soldiers quickly rounded up their men and returned to the General who was stood on the bridge.
"Men, its a very dark day, thanks to the Barkeep and his feeble ideas some of our brothers died" he shouted, his voice carrying through the lines of black-clad stormtroopers "It is their weakness that allowed our strength to be compromised but not today! Today we find our brothers killer, today we quell this rebellion on life itself! Not with the weapons or tactics of these lesser men! But with a Duty bullet from a Duty rifle! Today we end this!"
The Duty soldiers roared as they scattered in groups of six, heading every-which way they could. The Freedom soldiers stood motionless but they itched to follow, the Duty General had the right idea they thought but where was Lukash to lead them?
On the brow of a hill the Stalkers sat, watching the drama unfold. They were sombre, brooding about the loss of their comrades. "Look at them go; I wonder what they'll find" one Stalker said, putting his rifle back together again after a good cleaning.
"Something, I hope" another answered "I know we don't get on but all this running isn't for me, especially after last night"
A murmer of agreement.
"Sleep men, I will keep an eye out" another Stalker suggested.
"Aye, i will too" another added.
In the shade of a tree the Stalker's slept, away from the commotion of the base down below. They were loners by nature but today they had died as brothers in arms.
| 20:46:47 6 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Message edited by:
**I'm afraid I'm back to typing in my browser window so there is a high chance of rather short chapters, sorry!**|
Kern, who had spent the morning watching the burning bodies of Duty soldiers, now found himself sat on the roof of a tumble-down concrete building looking out at the Stalkers on the hill. He knew that he would probably never bond with them. Although he doubted if Stalkers actually "bonded" they were sat there now, up on the high hill smoking but he wasn't sure if they were together as friends or just as numbers screaming against the larger Duty force.
Swining his legs off the edge of the building Kern wondered what the fall would be like if he stepped away, the feeling of the concrete underfoot at velocity. "It would hurt most probs" he said aloud.
Next to him his radio buzzed into life, startling him enough to almost push him clear of the edge.
"We have something" the voice whispered. Kern grabbed the radio and turned it up. Looking around he could see that groups had stopped walking, the Stalkers on the hill were looking at a point between two of the others. No doubt their radio, Kern thought.
Footsteps filtered through the dirty black grille, heavy breathing too and the signature sound of a cocking-rifle.
Kern clasped it close, not wanting to miss a thing.
"Where are you?" Voronin barked into the radio loudly
"The small village near the Farmstead, there's a tent"
Kern's heartrate doubled; a tent, there was life that wasn't connected to them!
"Hold your position, back-up is on the way" Vorinin ordered
"Sir, I'm right outside the tent" the Duty officer whispered "I'm just going to have a look"...then the line went dead.
The young Duty soldier advanced, he was almost suprised when Voronin came across the radio like a verbal-rhino.
"Where are you?" he asked, ask being quite a soft-word for how it felt in the Dutier's ear.
"The small village by the Farmstead, there's a tent" he whispered, turning down the volume on his radio to almost mute.
There was, in fact, a tent, quite a big tent, big enough for two or one man and a very big gun. It was tan in colour and stood out like a sore thumb. The Dutier continued to move at a crouch, his rifle's laser flickering on the tan material.
"Hold your position, backup is on the way" Voronin instructed. Taking in the order, the Dutier's step faltered but he was so close, so close he could actually touch the material with his rifle barrel.
"Sir, I'm right outside the tent, I'm just going to look" he whispered before poking the rifle's barrel between the fold in the door and pulling it back.
Static crackled from his radio and the Stalker paused. There was a sleeping bag, next to it a flickering red light; the Comm-Supression unit (which the Dutier recognised as one that had gone missing last year) but then his eyes were drawn from the base of the sleeping bag; there were two cables. Following them with his eyes they led to the tent's door; he had broke their connection. Quickly scanning the area he saw that two cables, identical to the ones he had broken, were connected to the CSU and then into the sleeping bag. His mind screamed run but his curiosity was too much. Crawling slightly into the tent he reached up and pulled back the head-covering of the sleeping bag.
Beneath there was a large black slab that seemed to absorb the light around them. He sighed, lowering his head; he recognised it. Naturally, being millitary.
I should have listened...I should have listened....I really should...have....
| 21:02:06 6 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Message edited by:
Skull and his group found the Duty soldier lying face down next to the inactive block of plastic explosive; it was a huge block for the Zone, it was a rarity and here, in the middle of a death-site with the body of a Dutier was a slab of it.|
Slab is definetily the right word Skull thought as he grabbed the Dutier's boots and dragged him from the tent before pulling back his mask to reveal bloodshot eyes and foam spilling form his mouth.
"What's wrong with him?" one of the soldiers asked
"General, we have the body of the Duty soldier, he's dead, poison it looks like. But sir, there's a huge block of plastic explosives here rigged to something that looks like a CSU" Skull explained "It doesn't seem to operate unless the door of the tent is open, the moment he was out the comms cleared up"
Silence for a few seconds before Lukash came across the waves
"Get out of there, its obviously a trap of some sort" Lukash ordered.
"Don't order my men Lukash" Voronin growled "Stay were you are, there should be another group coming up on you now"
There indeed was, Skull saluted to the sx men who were approaching.
"NO! Skull, get out of there now! Keep away from the tent!" Kern roared, his voice pricked by fear. The CSU beeped on again as the soldiers approached, their comms being cut off.
"Proximity" said his mind "Fuck" said his mouth.
Kern swore as the explosion in the village threw debris high into the air; it fell on the Warehouse like the devil's mocking rain. Stones mainly, them being the heaviest objects, brought down already perilous walls with loud crashes.
"Kern! Get into my office!" Voronin ordered. Kern looked out of the doorway where he was sheltering; the sky still had a few stones to come.
"One second" he asked. The second passed and immediately the stones came down like asteroids from space. One clipped a petrol barrel; enough to crack a hole in it.
"DAMN!" Kern cursed, jumping from the doorway into the shelter of the building as the fireball erupted. It scorched its way down the corridor Kern had just leapt through while also giving some nearby soldiers a good rattling.
Lying amongst the new debris Kern sighed; it was one hell of a job these soldiers had. He got to his feet and proceeded through the smoke-screen into the sunlight. Soldiers, both Duty and Freedom, stood scratching their heads; they had all heard the call and knew that Kern knew something.
On his way to the Chef's building he had gained himself a tail of eagre soldiers. Voronin stood waiting, his large arms crossed, Lukash stood next to him; his eyes were blazing, Kern didn't want to find out if it was anger or the need for information and so tested the waters from a distance.
"It not our enemy who set that trap" Kern shouted. Neither man replied, Voronin simply gestured for him to approach.
Raising his hands Kern smiled "Its ok, if it is who I think it is, which I really am sure of; then we're saved!"
Voronin grabbed him by the hair and threw him into the building
"You talk too much" he added, kicking Kern into the room beyond.
"Two seconds boys" Lukash beamed politely before closing the door.
Two seconds in the company of Voronin was indeed a long time....
| 21:24:23 6 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Kern was on the other side of the room before Voronin had even entered.|
"Wait wait wait!" Kern said quickly "I know who set that trap but he's not an enemy. That old trick, the plastic explosive and the CSU mixed in with a proximity sensor; he used it a lot! Plus he's one of the only people who could make plastic explosive" Voronin walked towards him slowly. Kern continued to back-pedal
"Please!" he pleaded "His name's Fury, he was one of a load of people code-named at the laboratory and that was his" still Voronin advanced in silence "God won't you say something!"
Voronin stopped "Didn't have to lift a finger and you told me everything" he chuckled. Kern, who noticed he had been breathing quickly, sighed a sigh of relief.
"You weren't going to hit me?"
"What made you think that?" Voronin asked
"Dunno, you seem the type" Kern admitted.
"So the man who set that trap is your guardian?" Lukash surmised "What makes you think we'll be any better with his guidance?"
"He's an amazing hunter and scientist, there's nothing he can't hunt which must be what he's doing all the way down here!" Kern smiled.
"So he's hunting this thing, and has come all the way from Pripyat, and he's unhuntable?" Lukash said.
"Yup, there's no-one who hunts like him and no-one who can catch him" Kern praised
"What weapons does he use?" Lukash asked
"Pistols, well, Uzi's you could say with a build in silencer for accuracy" Kern explained.
Voronin looked over at Lukash who made a strange face that Kern couldn't quite understand.
"Whoa, whoa! I know what you're thinking but no" Kern argued as the penny dropped "He's not like that, hell, the night the first group were killed we were eating this load of bread that was going off, I remember us joking about it"
Voronin shrugged "If you're sure then you're sure, kid. So how do we get in touch?"
Kern thought about it and then shrugged, not unlike Voronin
"No idea, he'll come to us, its not like we can be missed now is it"
| 21:51:56 8 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Message edited by:
Exctract of Lukash's Diary - Day 3|
Another day with the small band of soldiers we have. Last night was a disaster, it turns out that the Barkeep allowed some S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s beyond the wall. Granted it was a good plan and would have worked under different conditions but here and now? No, it was foolish. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R's should have seen it for what it was.
Pressure of the job I think. I've watched them for sometime up on the hill, they aren't too sociable but I guess that's expected because more of them died than ours.
Speaking of, Duty took quite a blow today, pardon the pun, they came across a trap, one of ingenious design and I think that even I would have fallen for it. A proximity explosive disguised as a CSU with plastic explosive. Designed to draw attention and create maximum carnage.
Kern has explained quite a lot about this man he calls "Fury" obviously an alias but that's where the Zone excel's itself, allowing us to create an image of what we want to see.
I heard that Max may still be alive, as we never found his body; I'll admit that when I first heard of 'Fury' my mind thought maybe it was Max in disguise. Alas no, the time is all wrong. Whoever this Fury is, he had damn better be worth it!
Duty are preparing a second squad to head over to the Village to find what they can about the explosion. Kern is going too, not by choice of course. Voronin is such a beast, taking everything by force and harsh words. I feel sorry for Kern, he's such a wet blanket, I don't think he'll survive on his own but he's got intelligence; a candidate for Freedom command??
If there is such a thing when its all over
| 03:23:25 9 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Message edited by:
The Duty unit, dispatched for the Village, moved at a quick pace. There were twelve of them in the unit, moving in a V-Formation to decrease the likelyhood of another proximity explosion being set off. Kern moved at the very back of the ground; out of sight but cradling a Duty-rifle he had been issued at the barracks.|
They came over the brow of the hill to utter-devestation. Buildings and bodies were scattered around a twenty-meter crater. It was pretty clear that they would find no-one alive. Sweeping through the debris with professional ease, the Duty Squad were done in minutes. Kern sat on the hill with his rifle on the ground next to him.
Kern jumped in suprise, looking over his shoulder he was amazed to see a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. stood directly behind him. He recognised him as one of the men from around the fire. Kern looked around; he was alone.
"yeah, that plastic explosive is potent stuff" Kern commented while he gave the S.T.A.L.K.E.R a quick once over.
He was slightly tanned, his eyes dark as was his hair which was cut short. His S.T.A.L.K.E.R jacket puffed out slightly; armour underneath Kern mused.
The S.T.A.L.K.E.R sat down on the hill next to him, lifting the rifle over his head and laying it down on the floor.
"They say you know something about a hunter called 'Fury' why don't you tell me about him?" the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. suggested with a smile from beneath his dark green-hood. Kern sensed trouble, he was very rarely wrong; this S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was trouble.
"Not much to say" Kern shrugged "We lived at Pripyat, moved in the shadows of the Monolith Soldiers, kept ourselves to ourselves"
The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. shook his head
"I didn't ask about you" he pointed out "I want to know about this 'Fury'"
"He's a scientist and soldier; that's it" Kern explained.
The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sighed and got to his feet "If that's all you're going to say" he picked up his weapon and, for a moment, Kern thought about going for his. Eventually the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. threw his rifle over his shoulder and walked away. "Stay safe, Kern" he waved.
"KERN! Get off your ass and come here!" a Duty soldier shouted into the radio. Kern, slightly shaken by the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. jumped to his feet and hurried down to the protection of the Dutiers.
"What is it?" Kern asked, the Duty soldier pointed to something black and flat sitting in the grass against a stone wall.
"Pick it up" the Dutier ordered
"Why me?" Kern eyed him suspiciously
"It might blow up, there is history" the Dutier said, pushing Kern towards it.
Crouching over the object, Kern laughed as he picked it up.
"PDA" he waved it at the group of Dutiers. He rolled his thumb over the screen, bringing it to life....
...with a thunderous explosion.
| 03:42:04 10 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Message edited by:
-Data Stream 65/766 – Radio Channel Open-|
Voronin: Kern? What’s happened?
*Sound of running feet, groups of orders being shouted distorted sound*
Lukash: Christ, what happened to him?
*More orders shouted, sound of door being kicked open*
Lukash: Put him down here, someone tell me what the hell happened
Soldier001: Explosive of some sort, exploded in his face
Voronin: Kern, don’t you dare die! We need your information you bloody fool!
Lukash: Tone it down and pass me that First Aid kit.
*Sound of heavy boots followed by a loud click of plastic*
Lukash: It’s a lot of damage, where’s that bleed coming from??
*Great deal of moving heard*
Soldier002: There, behind his belt
Lukash: Shit! Its gone deep, where’s the medic?
Voronin (in distance): MEDIC! Get over here NOW!!
*More shuffling, a clipping noise is heard – Lukash unclipping Kern’s armour*
Voronin (distance): Come on, come on! We can’t lose him!
*Kern groans, must try to sit up as Lukash’s voice comes back across the radio*
Lukash: Whoa there, lie back.
*Medics storm into the room, too much chatter to identify sentences*
Medic001: There, no there!…yes…no no no!
Medic002: I can’t find it…what do you mean?
Medic001: Large crack in the skull, three? No four separate penetrations caused by shrapnel
Medic002: is that plastic?…Careful
Voronin: How’s it looking?
Medic001: Step back sir.
*Shuffling can be heard as the Medic’s roll Kern over*
Medic001: We got another bleed here!
*Lukash steps out of the room, medical area is out of audio range*
Lukash: He’s in a pretty serious state
Barkeep: What happened? Someone said there was a second explosion, just how many devices are out there?
Voronin: What I want to know is why Kern didn’t recognise it as an explosive; if it’s his mentor’s device he should have recognised it.
*Gunfire in distance*
Voronin: Who’s shooting??
*Increase in amount of gunfire, orders being shouted*
Soldier003: Sir, we have incoming!!
Voronin: Incoming?! What the hell is incoming?
Soldier003: Mutants sir!
Voronin: Why now?!? Why fucking now?!
*Voronin kicks something metallic*
Soldier003: You four! Get up there and cover them!
*Running boots lead towards the gunfire*
Lukash: I’m almost at the tower
*The sound of footsteps on steel echo*
*Gunfire from close range, possibly Lukash’ weapon*
Voronin (over radio): Lukash, what is it?
Lukash (gunfire distorts voice slightly): We got incoming…*incoherent*…idea where they…*incoherent*
Voronin (Over radio): Lukash? How many?
Lukash: *incoherent*…40?…lost count…YOU MEN, BEHIND YOU!!
*More gunfire from close to Lukash as more soldiers join him on the tower*
Lukash: Damn it!
Lukash: Voronin, get your men to bring those barrels up here NOW!
S.T.A.L.K.E.R-001(over radio): Get away from the gate!
Lukash: EVERYONE BACK NOW!
*Running footsteps shortly followed by an explosion, heard over radio as static burst*
S.T.A.L.K.E.R-001 (Over radio): Sorted, a few stragglers, be careful!
*More gunfire over the radio*
Lukash: What’s the state of Kern?? Is he alive??
Medic002 (Over radio):*static*…there’s been complications… *Panting and static*…where’s that bleed?
Medic001 (Over radio): We need another First aid kit, NOW!
Soldier004 (Over radio): No luck, we only have what you’ve got there
Medic001 (Over radio): Does ANYONE have another first aid kit?? Vodka, someone get a bottle to us now! We’re losing him…fuck fuck FUCK!!
*Lukash storms back into the medical quarters*
*Chink of glass on metal followed by splashing noise*
Medic001: Damn it…there…quickly…quickly!!
Medic002: It’s not stopping…there’s so much damage! Someone find a first aid kit or he's gone!
Voronin (Presumably into radio): SOMEONE GET ME A FIRST AID KIT, THAT'S AN ORDER!
-Data Stream End-
| 18:05:33 11 February 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Message edited by:
Kern woke up, he knew he was awake because of the throbbing pain that emanated from any nerve still attached to his brain. His vision cloudy, throat dry and body throbbing it was an amazement to him that he managed to sit up, even more amazed was the medic who was sat at the other end of the room near a barred door.
“You’re up” the medic jumped to his feet and ran over to Kern
“I know; I should lie down” Kern managed to groan as he reached for a bottle of water
“Keep hoping” the medic passed him the water “Medically I should say you should lie down but in all honesty I think that will get you killed”
Kern looked up, his brain was still swimming with memories of what had happened. The PDA had exploded in his hand, he had felt the fragments penetrating his body. Looking down at himself he saw he was naked, lying under a harsh cotton blanket. Next to the bench he had previously thought was a bed, was a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. uniform in green. His body was covered in scars, he gasped as he looked at the patchwork that was his skin. Every now and then there would be a taped bit of cloth to keep any sever bleeding at bay. From his own body, Kern scanned the room; it was very dark, all the lights were extinguished but through one of the high-windows, moonlight spilled through and Kern saw that the door was heavily barricaded.
“What’s going on?” Kern asked as he quickly got dressed. His coordination was shot and getting dressed had become a challenge in itself but he was listening to what the medic had to say.
“Monolith soldiers arrived, chasing the mutants that attacked our base” he explained “Some of them were injured so we allowed them to stay, then suddenly tonight we came under attack. At first they seemed to think it was the Monolith soldiers but no, they’re out there now with the others”
“Eh?” Kern managed to say. Standing up, his knees were a bit shaky but standing up was a plus. Slowly he crossed the room, climbing onto one of the boxes to gaze out of the window.
In the distance he could see the Dutiers and Freedom, a few S.T.A.L.K.E.R’s dotted about and, amazingly, a small handful of Monolith Soldiers. The group were sitting around the fire, some unconscious or asleep while the others just sat in silence, looking around.
“What’s going on?” Kern wondered aloud. The medic pressed a pair of military binoculars into his hand and Kern lifted them to his eyes and peered closer.
"They’re just sitting there, alive for sure but not really talking. What’s happening? Are they TIED?"
Looking closer Kern saw the truth; "they're all bound by the wrists"
“How the hell did that happen?” Kern asked, the anger he felt made him feel sick. Running to a small bucket Kern vomited. Laced with blood and food, Kern groaned as he looked down at the vomit; blood was never a good sign.
“No idea, there were explosions, gunfire; the whole shebang” the medical officer stared out through the glass towards the Duty soldiers.
“Jammed” the medic tossed Kern the radio which just hissed static in his hands.
“Very professional” Kern frowned
“More than professional, whoever hit them, hit hard and very fast. I can see no injuries, no fatalities; hell I didn’t even see who they were shooting at!” the Medic explained as he paced.
Kern sat down, it helped his body more than his mind, and thought about who or what could have done this. There were no mutants he knew of that could execute such an attack or any military force. His mind, of course, pinged to his guardian.
"All those soldiers though? 70 or so soldiers without getting injured, don’t like the odds of that"
As he thought Kern eyed a mirror against a basin and his thoughts strayed to what he looked like now, an explosive going off in the face would certainly have re-arranged a few features.
"No, no! Keep your mind on the here and now. First, I need a weapon. Then I’ll need to find out what’s what."
“Medic, you got a pistol?” Kern whispered. The Medic nodded, taking a plain pistol from his belt. He tossed it to Kern who dismantled it before putting it back together at speed.
“You know your stuff” the Medic commented. Kern made a vague noise of agreement before getting to his feet, sliding the pistol into his boot.
“Get down, stay down” Kern ordered, crossing to the door and, with more strength than most would have attributed to him, kicked the blockade out of the way.
“You’re!” the Medic started but Kern raised a finger to his lips as he unbolted the door and stepped into the night.
Quickly the medic ran over to the door and bolted it shut.
| 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.
| 17:17:13 6 March 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Lukash began to stir, as his memory came back to him he jolted upright, trying to reach for his weapon. Once he found his hands tied he tried getting to his feet but he was lashed to the soldier behind him. Scanning the area he couldn't see the Bloodsucker that had attacked them but that was the thing that made them so dangerous, you often didn't.|
"Voronin" Lukash hissed, kicking the soldier in the knee. Voronin was slumped forward, completely unconscious. Looking around, the rest were too, only the Monolith Captain was awake, his eyes blazing. He shook his head to Lukash; what it meant was beyond him.
"Captain, where is it?" Lukash whispered, the Monolith Captain rolled his eyes.
"Lukash, the new man in charge of Freedom" someone said. Lukash looked for the source of the voice, although he didn't see, he knew it was there.
"You've evolved, you have speech, the ability to use weapons and an understanding of our language; quite impressive for something that may have evolved from a chameleon" Lukash summarized. The bloodsucker chuckled.
"Oh we didn't evolve from Chameleons, they only said that as a joke, anyway no-one knows how Bloodsuckers got that skill" the invisible assailant explained as he walked between the ranks of soldiers.
Looking at it, now without the rush of battle, Lukash saw that whatever this Bloodsucker was; he had evolved in more ways than just speech and movement, even its camouflage was superior, the air didn't blur as much and when it moved it was almost completely invisible; no trace of the blur.
"So what are you now? I'm guessing now you've evolved you're no longer part of the lesser species?" Lukash asked, again the Bloodsucker chuckled.
"Oh I haven't [i]evolved]/i] as such" Lukash could imagine it smiling, if it had teeth "But I'm certainly ahead of the pack"
Voronin stirred, groaning and muttering incoherent words. When consciousness was his he began the exact same set of movements as Lukash had, first the arms, then the legs and failing that he had ever tried dragging all the soldiers to their feet by forcing himself to stand.
When he failed, which was expected, Voronin looked around at the other Captains.
"General Voronin, you would do well to stay calm" the Monolith Captain said; Voronin did just the opposite.
"GET OUT HERE YOU MUTATED SCUM" Voronin bellowed at the darkness "YOU COME HERE AND LET ME OUT OF THESE BONDS AND WE'LL SETTLE THIS" Lukash rolled his eyes
"No need to shout" he explained
"WHY NOT?!" was the reply
"Because he's right behind me" the Monolith Captain explained. Voronin looked above the Captain, looking straight through the Bloodsucker.
"Where?" Voronin asked.
"Right here" the Bloodsucker whispered, inches from the General's face.
For a moment Lukash saw the outline of the Bloodsucker, the smoke from the extinguished fire curled around its thighs and chest; it wasn't a big Bloodsucker by any means; but its intelligence made the difference.
As the Bloodsucker moved, Voronin aimed a kick at it but missed entirely.
"DAMN YOU" Voronin shouted "I'M GOING TO GET OUT OF THESE AND KICK YOUR UGLY FACE OFF"
Lukash looked over at the Monolith Captain who, despite the severity of the situation, gave Lukash a look that said; I feel sorry for you to have to put up with this Lukash agreed; Voronin was a hassle but currently the lesser evil; they had to get out of these ropes.
While Voronin shouted at the invisible killer, Lukash poked the soldier behind him with his bound hand. Eventually the soldier replied, it was a soft grunt; he was awake and aware.
"Your knife, where do you keep it?" Lukash whispered into his armpit. As the soldier leant into him, Lukash felt the steely grip of the knife on the soldiers belt. He gripped it tightly and as the soldier feigned trying to get to his feet it came free.
"Sir down, there's no escape" Lukash ordered; the soldier did as he was told.
"WELL, WHY DON'T YOU ANSWER ME? COME ON!" Voronin shouted; now he was trying to drag the unconscious soldier he was tied to across the concrete in the direction of the Bloodsucker.
Lukash felt a powerful hand grip his own wrist, the knife fell from his hands.
"Nice try" the Bloodsucker chuckled as he held the knife out ahead of Lukash. Using his thumb, the Bloodsucker snapped the strengthened knife with relative ease. It pinged loudly as the blade bounced across the concrete. Dragging Lukash and the soldier he was tied to to their feet, Lukash gasped; This bloodsucker is impossibly strong!
Lukash heard the Bloodsucker break the neck of the soldier he was tied to before the two of them were pushed over. Lukash landed on his back, lying on top of the now deceased soldier.
"Killing all of you with weapons would be a great hassle for me" the Bloodsucker explained "Unfortunately for you Lukash, it's going to be worse for you than anyone else here"
"No-ones dying here" Kern stated, rifle pointed at the Blur that was the Bloodsucker.
"Who are you?" the Bloodsucker queried "In fact, who am I?"
"Well, your friends think I'm a bloodsucker, which is a good presumption" the bloodsucker chuckled "But what if I'm not? What if I'm something else. You see, if I'm skin and bone; your bullets will just punch straight through me and then your friends will take the fire. But if I'm something else; then your bullets won't penetrate the invisible exoskeleton" It was Kern's turn to laugh
"You've used that line before, it sounds so rehearsed" he activated the laser sight on the rifle; the small red dot expanded as it hit the invisible Bloodsucker, spreading a few inches. The bloodsucker was crouched over Lukash and Kern realised that if he missed the shot; he would hit friends.
"You realise your problem now" the Bloodsucker chuckled
"Just shoot Kern, shoot it!" Voronin ordered
"I agree, light him up" the Monolith Captain agreed "One man's death is worth the life of the rest of us"
The Bloodsucker didn't move; Lukash was sure it was a Bloodsucker He's so hesetant, if those bullets wouldn't penetrate it then it wouldn't have a problem; it would just walk over there and snap his neck. All that strength; it can't be human Lukash made his move, kneeing the Bloodsucker forward.
The Monolith Captain struck before the Bloodsucker had straightened up, kicking the fire aggressively; spraying ashes and smoke on the invisible Bloodsucker. Kern fired, emptying the clip into the stumbling and now semi-visible Bloodsucker. Voronin swore as the body of the Bloodsucker landed on top of him; it was so heavy! He swore and cursed at everyone.
"Oh shut up, Voronin" Lukash ordered "Kern untie us" Kern was busy reloading when the Bloodsucker spoke.
"Oh unlucky" it laughed, jumping to its feet and hurtling at him. The Monolith captain watched as the Bloodsucker hurtled towards Kern; lowering its shoulder and charging into him. Kern was winded, blind with pain and sent crashing into the concrete wall. The Bloodsucker reached down and picked him up, like a child lifting a kitten it was so easy, before throwing him over the tied up soldiers and against the opposite wall. The sheer physical strength was staggering, except to Kern who cared little about anything; he could feel his stitches had come loose, now it was only a matter of time before he bled to death.
"I'm ashamed, that you are the only thing standing against me" the Bloodsucker sighed "I thought it would be a challenge, the largest group in the Zone's history and you cannot defeat me"
"You're not a bloodsucker, are you?" the Monolith Captain asked "You are the end the Monolith predicted. I don't know what you are, but I know you're not a Bloodsucker, or ever were"
Again silence, only this one was shock rather than fear; even the 'Bloodsucker' was quiet.
"Fair play, you are as wise as you are insane" the invisible man said "Let me show you before I bestow upon you the worst death"
Something clicked, slowly, in the flickering of a thousand different colours; a man in a suit appeared before them. The Exoskeleton was like nothing any of them had ever seen. It was black and silver, covered by a billion tiny threads, threads so slim they were practically invisible. The helmet completely covered the person's head, the full-face visor was blacked out and they couldn't see who was beyond.
"What, the hell?" Voronin said "You're human"
"I was...but like you said - evolution" the man began to pace "X-18, oh the grandeur of their designs" he removed from his belt a glass bottle; a vodka bottle but when he uncorked it; it certainly didn't smell like vodka.
The man in the exoskeleton crossed to Lukash and poured some of the contents over him.
"This is the worst way to go, for you anyway Lukash" he laughed, it sounded hollow through the helmets visor "You think all the Bloodsuckers just left? Oh how wrong" he stepped back, corking the bottle. Lukash groaned at the stench of what was on him; he didn't want to know but he knew he had to ask.
"What is it?" he said, trying to ignore the trickle running down his chin towards his mouth.
"A splendid concotion they used at X-18 to lure bloodsuckers, mixed with a bit of my own mixture. You see, there are male and there are female Bloodsuckers, not unlike our species in that sense. What you are covered with, poor Lukash, is the pheromones of a female Bloodsucker, but also musk from the male Bloodsucker's sweat glands. The Male's will go crazy for your scent, they will come from miles for you, and when they get here; they will discover you are not a female, because you smell of male and oh will they take their anger out on you! I've seen it before, I had to test it, and I almost felt bad for the unfortunate man"
Out in the darkness something roared, the wind wasn't powerful but there was a slight breeze; enough to scatter Lukash's new scent.
"It will take them a bit to get here, but in time they will, scores of them"
"You see, that's the problem with fuck ups like you, you always have to say your plans" someone from the roof sighed. The Hunter looked up as something invisible dropped, picking up speed.
"YOU!" the Non-Bloodsucker roared as he jumped back; the second invisible landing heavily on the concrete.
"Yes me. Kern, are you ok?"
Kern groaned; he was not ok, he was so far from ok, in fact, he was very nearly dead.
| 18:43:07 22 March 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Message edited by:
A second figure fizzled into view. His suit matched the non-bloodsuckers almost identically. Except in his hand he clutched a machinegun with a long silencer.|
Lukash immediately knew who this man was; he was Kern's trainer, the one they had spoken about and searched for.
"You came all this way just to kill off the Zone? You dream big, X-18, but I have to stop you, for the sake of the Zone and all those inside it" Fury raised his uzi; from that distance even the dying kern would have found it hard to miss.
"You can't just shoot me to death" X-18 argued "That's quite an anti-climax after I've done so much! All those dead and you're just going to kill me off"
"You're a murderer, an escaped animal who should have been put to death a long time ago. I was your keeper, and now I am your executioner, I gave you life and so its quite poetic that i get to end it"
"Then what? Back to the old game of looking after Kern, keeping him safe and sound from the world?" X-18 moved slowly, pacing as though in a court "You can't keep him safe forever, eventually he will turn and when he does, anyone in proximity to him will die. It's why I wear my helmet, it became boring having to just exist in a place and people dying"
"I will protect him, don't you worry, all you have to decide are your last words" Fury replied
"In that case my last words have to be; if you're so single minded in your determination to protect Kern, why is it that he's just died?"
Fury looked around, Kern lay there bleeding heavily but not dead; X-18 was just after his opening. Fury pulled the trigger before looking back, there was no chance X-18 would be stood in the same place but at least there was a chance of clipping him. As he turned he saw X-18 shimmering out of the spectrum, running towards him with his right hand stretched out for the gun, left hand out of sight.
Fury dodged as his pistol kicked back as it fired. The bullets hit nothing but concrete but something else appeared. As X-18's hand clasped around his weapon, breaking the slide and making it unusable, a black spike erupted from seemingly nowhere. Fury only just managed to dodge, he could see the black steel shining in the darkness; a hidden weapon.
He knew the sneaker-suit inside out (having designed a great part of it), driving a hard elbow against X-18's throat brought the attacker back into the visible spectrum. The experiment stumbled backwards, from his wrist on his left arm the steel spike slid back into its sheath.
"So is this how we're going to do it?" X-18 chuckled, the black spike erupted again; it was almost four feet long and deadly sharp but Fury guessed there would be more hidden weapons. Reaching down, Fury drew a foot long brushed steel pipe. It activated with a crackle of electricity; the long white-hot blade crackled and spat as it extended to five feet.
"Battle of the Creator against the Created. Oh-so-poetic" Fury chuckled to himself, leveling the blade.
"A sword? After all this time, all that money they put into your R&D and you come to fight me with a sword?" X-18 scoffed. Fury was done talking, instead launching himself forward, swinging the mocked weapon with deadly accuracy. As the weapons clashed, sun-hot embers fell from their weapons, burning through the concrete.
| 17:46:21 19 April 2009
On forum: 01/18/2009
Lukash rolled Kern over onto his back; it didn't take a professional to see that he was in trouble and Lukash was learning that whatever was happening; Kern was a big piece in it all.|
"Voronin! Get away!" Lukash barked; Voronin had drawn his baton and was advancing on the Not-Bloodsucker and Fury. He paused only to look back
"I'll do what I like" he replied and charged.
Swords blazed, molten metal hissed but neither fighter let up. Fury's sword, although hot enough to cut steel, was not hot enough to cut X-18's weapon. They clashed with a hiss and Fury pushed hard, X-18 backpedaled towards the wall before deflecting Fury away from him. Voronin appeared from nowhere, swinging his baton at the place where X-18's head had been but a second ago. X-18 grabbed Voronin, throwing him over the concrete wall and out of the fight.
"Vermin" X-18 muttered as he parried another sword blow scattering more embers.
They fought like nothing anyone had ever seen, weapons flashed in the night, the grating explosion of metal on metal. When Fury dodged back, X-18 would strike only to lose his attack to a well placed parry. When Fury attacked the sound would be similar to a thousand falling coins but X-18 was ready for each one, slicing and using brute force but they were equalled.
Kern groaned as he reached out; he knew this scene from long ago, there could only be one ending.
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