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Suburban Stalker

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  21:31:14  6 November 2008
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liquidatr47
(Novice)
 
On forum: 11/06/2008
Messages: 9
Suburban Stalker

Hey guys, check this out if you get a chance. Thanks in advance for reading.

Having a wife is a hell of a thing. Devoting one's life to another person makes their joy, their flaws, their pulse yours. Unfortunately, my wife's flaws include a moderate to severe gambling problem, the consequences of which have become my own problem in a very large way. I finish scraping the ration can bare with my K bar, take a last lick from the worn, many times sharpened blade, and toss the can away. Only in the Chernobyl Zone could such bland mush be called a tourist's delight.
Have you, dear reader of this journal, ever heard the term "golden handcuffs?" Back at my home yuppie infested suburbs of New York, I wore of pair double-locked by the abstract world's most hardened street cop. the landscaping for my glittering, emerald lawn costs more in a month than most people pay in rent for an apartment. MY car is a twelve cylindered Nazi sled purchased purely to one-up the neighbors as I spent an hour each saturday morning waxing it, a ritual so distant that it seems to belong to another lifetime. The salon bill for keeping my darling Cora's hair platinum...you get the idea.
In spite of all this excess, I was still, miraculously, making more than we could spend. That teetering system collapsed one rainy saturday when I went to ye olde gun range with an ex Marine, Ukrainian-American friend of mine while my darling wife went to Atlantic city. Eight hours of pure oxygen and mai tai fueled blackjack later I was facing foreclosure, the gutter, and if my wishes at that dark moment were to come true, as they might well, a firing squad.
To my great relief, (or, depending on your interpretation of my current situation, total damnation) Malcovitch, the affluent shooting buddy, offered to make it all go away. He always seemed to somehow have more money than me, a condition that formerly annoyed me to no end but was now handy since he was more than willing to bail us out in exchange for a number of artifacts from the Zone. He would even furnish transport, equipment, and through his various connections the means to enter the stricken, cursed plot of land; he was obsessed with the inexplicable hunks that formed in unnatural, lethal furnaces. I took him for all he was worth; my threaded, custom scoped Sig sauer 550 could take me to the Pripyat ferris wheel and back, provided no one knifed me in my sleep for it. The USP compact .45, my own brought to the range that fateful day, would be a reassuring weight on my leg.
Cora insisted on loaded a few magazines and packing some food and liquor ("maybe this will make you less mad at me" before she broke down crying the night I left. Even by the time I reached the door I wished I had been kinder to her in the last days we had spent together.
Throughout my life, as I stalked game through semi-charted frontiers or swam through underwater caves where no natural light had ever shone, I scoffed at the fear of the unknown so intrinsic to human nature. That haughtiness went out the window right after my perceived immunity from financial disaster. Unable to sleep in the beginning of my nightlong flight to Kiev, I brought up the internet and researched just what I had gotten myself into. Exhaustion set in about four hours into the journey above a dark Atlantic, but by then I was simply willing myself to stay awake. Based on what I had seen, there would be plenty of nightmare to come without having to start with those fueled by pure speculation.
Starting roughly 10 years after the original disaster, tourists with a mind for the deserted and macabre could arranged for a guided tour in the Zone, through the deserted, rotting streets of Pripyat, past the lethal soil of the red forest and past villages where vestiges of a simpler, cleaner past insisted on living in defiance of government and radiation. Following the second explosion in 2006, these continued for a very brief time, ironically for an increased fee. The first tour to go in had in fact been closely observed; the shattering sounds of a government helicopter being rent by an airborne anomaly had distracted the gourp of 4 Germans and their native guide long enough for a Bloodsucker, later identified with a digital camera in its gullet, to slaughter three of them in a matter of seconds. The sole survivor ran 3 straight miles back to the entrance checkpoint, clutching a bizarre, bulbous, and hypnotically glowing orb in his shaking hand. So began the Zone's latest era.
Since the highly publicized initial hysteria and gruesome deaths of early researchers, only periodic news of scientific miracles and major battles between the Ukranian army, paramilitary factions, and packs of bandits came from the area once plagued by radiation and now by things much worse. I arrived in Kiev, a city increasingly terrified of the Zone's expansion, bleary-eyed but kept alarmingly lucid by pure nervous adrenaline. An inconspicuous suitcase containing my armament, kit, and somehow procured "Guardian of Freedom" protective suit was unloaded for me and placed into a military jeep right on the tarmac. It was late august, but there was a distinct chill in the air in that part of the wind whipped by on the 40 mile ride to the Cordon. Leaving a pair of jeans and Marine issue, OD green sweater on, I self consciously zipped into my suit, holstered the USP and slung my rifle over my back.
"Anyone ask," said a lieutenant in an almost indecipherable Ukrainian accent, " just say we let you out. You want anything, no worry about language gap, just put green money on table. Other than that, I say keep to yourself. Good luck, comrade-of-Malcovitch." He saluted, the jerk, which I awkwardly returned and started off into the somehow unnatural green landscape of the Zone. I was to move fast to stand any chance of pulling this insane crapshoot off and leave breathing.
  22:28:38  6 November 2008
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liquidatr47
(Novice)
 
On forum: 11/06/2008
 

Message edited by:
liquidatr47
11/07/2008 19:40:36
Messages: 9
For the first mile or so of my trek into the most cursed planet (it's hard to guage things when everything is in kilometers and kilograms) I stayed about 20 yards off the road that, according to my GPS PDA led straight toward the zone's core for a considerable distance before trailing off into the wreckage of a former industrial area. There were no signal bars displayed for the duration of the quest, and why would there be? The desperados that were only inhabitants in twenty years had little use for full digital service, as satellites seemed quite sufficient to guide the wealthier ones to their destinations. Several people, now my fellow stalkers, looked in my direction, sending my heart into my throat, but the ability to mind one's own business seemed greatly values. Not much different, I noted, from my own Manhatten, an island most of these dissolutes couldd never imagine. The contraption given to me by the lieutenant beeped twice as I saw my first anomalies, the first a humming tranparent blob of air that I only understood for its ability to efficiently kill me and a self contained, gale force wind that I had no doubt held the same abilities. That beep would come to save my life.
I was exhausted upon my entrance, but there was something intrinsic about the zone that seemed to root my combat booted feet to the ground more and more with each step. Stopping at a ruined, rotting and patially collapsed farm complete with a derelict dump truck, I crushed a red bull, noting with a wry smile that it and vodka, the drink of choice in the opulent nightclubs of the world, was a staple food here. Barking dogs sounded over the landscape, now curling upward with eerie fog. Remembering in a flash the Chernobyl dogs uncovered in my research, at best viscious wolf/dog hybrids left over from the 1986 disaster and at worst, apparition-generating, maneating horrors, I climbed the truck's hood and looked north.
Before my eyes was my first real challenge with the heavily armed and armored dwellers of the Zone. Members of the military patrolled vehicular wreckage underneath the caved-in span of a railway bridge. Razorwire ran across the embankment prompting the bridge's necessity. I looked west and hope sprang momentarily when I saw a tunnel, but the deathly flicker of an anomly left me with no choice. Atop the ruty tin roof of the barn I screwed the long, black, cylinderical silencer into my rifle, clicked the sight on (and would leave both accessories that way, the battery would last and the suppressor would at least reduce recoil) and aimed.
The silencer did its job wonderfully, and the 52 grain bullet tore through a soldier's armor before the whipcrack of the round's sonic boom sounded off of the walls of the embankement and ruined farm. Another soldier ran past the wreckage of a bulldozer to investigate the bang and I took him next, his helmet spinning off through the pink halo of blood visible through my scope. I ducked back behind the peak of the roof and slid to the ground, running for the left edge of the barn. My heart pounded and I stood frozen for what could only have been a moment but seemed like the entirety of my privledged life as I pondered what an AK-47 round, travelling at 710 meters per second, would do to my head as I looked around the cover. I went prone. In its constant attempts to talk to other PDAs, my own device was beeping with 3 remaining contacts at the bridge. The green suit did its job disguising me, and two more member of Ukraine's army fell backward. The silencer smoked as the remaining soldier shot from behind a pile of culverts, the project they were bundled for having never been completed. A plume of dirt was kicked up by his bullets to my left as I rapidly squeezed off 3 more rounds, unconsciously bracing for the impact. When the lethal plumes of dirt were 5 feet away my enemy's rifle, massive in my eyes from its flash spun away, along with dark shapes visible to my combat-heightened senses that could only have been fingers. The shooting stopped and cursing whose language I didn't understand but message I received perfectly began.
Minutes later I stood over his corpse, gasping the smoke from the end of my rifle's hot barrel and my chest rose and fell. I sunk to the ground opposite him. A half-empty bottle of vodka sat on its side a few feet away on the crumbling ground. I scrabbled over to it and drank it, the naturally cooled alcohol burning down my throat and steadying my hands. The carnage of my mission for expensive, supernatural trinkets had begun.

I spent my first night in the zone curled in the corner of a mostly-collapsed outbuilding about a quarter mile up the decaying road that stretched, from what I had gathered from the stalker parlance I had gathered, to The Garbage before forking toward several different locations featuring names ranging from sinister (Agroprom Research Institute) to terrifying (The Dark Valley). I felt as though I would surely have to explore as many of these places as possible in order to collect the bizarre tokens the zone my financier require. Before drifting into a fitful sleep made possible only through exhaustion and the malevolent, intrinsic fatiguing agents of the Zone, I reviewed the list by the immensely reassuring light of my zippo. Mama's Beads, Night Star, Moonlight, Pellicle, Kolobok. I had downloaded a list of these phenomena to my PDA, complete with a pictoral reference guide so I would know what I sought looked like, and imagined the orbs securely snapped in to the compartments of my suit. Some stalkers relied on their miraculous properties to keep them safe from the Zone's dangers, I knew. The artifacts might well do more than keep my rich before my journey was over. I snapped my lighter shut, listening to the distinctive sound fade into the blackness. Headlamps moved in the distance as nameless stalkers continued their unknown journeys that night, a great many taking advantage of the military's timporary abscence from the bridge to stream back and forth. I finally drifted off with the warm metal of the lighter in my fist. Cora gave it to me after making me quit smoking cigars. What a nuisance.

It was 4:30 am by the luminous hands of my Breitling Chrono Avenger when I awoke to the sound of a slight tapping on the edge of the shack. Sleep fell away from me like a shed robe as I brought my rifle across my chest, too paralyzed by fear and confusion to do anything else for a long instant. The tapping, horrifying in its subtlety, continued, sounding regularly every five seconds or so. In a crouch I made my way to the missing corner of the single room, whose floorboards still contained the scent of ancient oil and dust, memories of a simpler time made into a ghost by radiation. What farmer had kept his tractor and plow, his shovels and axes bought after long saving, here? My breath plumed around me as I slowly mady my way to the gap. These thoughts and awarenesses flashed through my mind in an instant. Rifle on full auto and at the ready, I cleared the edge of the collapsed wall.

At first I saw nothing; this was somehow more frightening than the presence of a bloodstained back of bloodsuckers and my knucles whitened around the grips of my weapon. Then I saw it, an oddly luminous, fist-sized hunk hopping under its own power into the splintering wall. I picked it up, mesmerized by the metallic glints and light inside. My first artifact. I scrambled to bring up the list on my PDA, scrolling down the screen with a shaking finger. A Stone Flower, the use of which would soften a bullet's impact. I dopped it into a pouch. Between my 550 and my artifact, let all comers give taking me down a shot.

In the midst of this idiocy game a growl. My thoughts of stalker glory disappeared as I saw a brown dog coming at me over a rise throught the mist, moving like a bullet, faster than any racetrack greyhound held captive by the thought of catching that mechanical rabbit. I brought up my rifle, tried to lead the animal down the slope, and fired. The violent hiss of the sliencer ushered in the rooster tail of wet dirt that blew up around the dog before the flying clods were replaced with blood. Somehow the crazed animal kept coming. I could feel my balls retract into my body as my weapon clicked dry. My pistol was just clear of the holster, far too slow to save me from the ripping teeth and claws that would have ruined me, when the dog fell dead at me feet.

I reloaded numbly. The amount of firepower the creature, which disturbingly lacked eyes had absorbed was staggering, and this was the least powerful of the known mutants the zone had to offer. It was time to move, and keep moving. A shotgun was looking like a great investment.
  08:10:15  7 November 2008
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BB_Berserk
(Senior)
 
On forum: 04/06/2008
Messages: 124
Good start!

Are you able to indent paragraphs at all? It makes it easier to read.
  21:51:37  10 November 2008
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liquidatr47
(Novice)
 
On forum: 11/06/2008
Messages: 9
The road crumbled increasingly as I walked along, still heading north. I could see why the rookies in the zone squatted in this region for months, some for their careers as stalkers, as there were very few anomalies to scatter their bodies to the wind in as many pieces as possible. That was great for their longevity, but horrible for my mission, as the low occurrence of Zone physics led to a very low occurrence of artifacts. The area in front of me appeared to be known for its piles of radioactive garbage, rotting Soviet-era machinery, and indigenous bandits. Seemed like a great place to start seriously looking. I crushed another red bull and passed through a derelict guard house, receiving a curt nod from a stalker whose face was obscured with a gas mask and went back to oiling his evil-looking Dragunov as I went by.

Sig 550 slung over my right shoulder, I crept into the garbage, my detector in my left hand and the German .45 in the other. The device constantly clicked with radiation, but about 30 yards in began to ping cheerfully; the lights that circled the imponderous central machinery also began to flash to the front and left. The elation of being hot on the trail was short lived, however, as submachine gun fire flew around my head just as I closed in on my prize. Bandits. I went prone next to a tree, thoughtlessly looking for someone to center in the USP's tritium sights.

Two bandits were throwing fire at me from 30 yards away. Not the most disciplined bunch of fighters the zone had ever seen, both fought in the open, recklessly shooting. I centered on the first the fire, sturggling to replace his MP5's magazine in what was surely a vodka riddled stupor, and emptied all eight eight bullets into him, the last two ripping his jaw off in a spray of gore and teeth. Harsh Ukranian curses came from his partner, whose smoking shotgun was cracked open as he fumbled two fresh shells into the barrels. I brought up my rifle and he fell, a smoking hole in his sinister-looking trenchcoat. Rising to my knees, I slid a fresh magazine into my pistol and holstered it. I had a very bad feeling that the two men I had just killed had heavily armed, pissed-off friends who would be investigating the commotion in very short order.

Oblivious to the fracas, my detector had continued to ping on the ground, the sound anxious, as if wondering just what was keeping me from collecting the miracle of the Zone that it was telling me about. I followed the sound to a fetid pond of green ooze, noxious smoke rising above it. A hypnotic, holographic looking sheet of light portruded from its edge, half sunken in the diseased bog. Steeling myself, I turned the artifact detection off and studied the dossimer's meter, which reported an always healthy level of 75 roetgen of radiation. If I stayed here deliberating for much longer, I would be glowing. This is for my Cora. I rushed forward, grabbed the artifact, and scrambled backward, running back until the meter no longer clicked and I collapsed in a heap next to a dead tree.

The artifact's beauty was momentarily lost on my as I tore open a pint of Solichnaya and poured it over my prize, then my boots, and last down my throat, draining it. I would save my potassium iodine, I reasoned, until I got deeper and the counter buzzed louder and I.... This thing is beautiful. The kolobok glistened under the dampness of the alcohol. I could have stared at it for hours, until the sun disappeared behind the murky horizon and some wild boar or bandit or worse took my life, expensive weaponry and mission forgotten as I sat, stupified, by its beauty. As it was, distant rattle of AK fire brought me back to reality. Before placing the artifact, the hardest to find by all accounts, in my backpack I crossed it off my PDA's list. At this rate, I would be back to civilization drinking a non-medicinal martini in 2 days.
  22:13:27  12 November 2008
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liquidatr47
(Novice)
 
On forum: 11/06/2008
Messages: 9
According to the satellite-woven map I hap in my hands, there was a major encampment of bandits a half mile to the west. The theives, killers, and druggies, who, as I would learn were almost solely responsible for giving the Zone's stalkers the frightening reputation they held worldwide were also extensively reputed to be great hoarders of expensive artifacts. An artifact could buy a man a great deal of vodka, and according to a semi-coherent blog written by a former stalker with a thyroid scourged by radiation the bandits had piles of them in their lair in a former train station leading west toward Poland, now ravaged by rust, rot, radiation and criminals. I had stumbled across the hardest entry on my list in the beginning out of pure luck; I would have to stack the deck from now on.

I waited for the night to fall in the ruins of a three-story concrete structure inhabited by a small group of stalkers whose main activity seemed to be excavating junk from the mountains of radioactive shit that hung throughout this dismal section of the Zone. I managed a 'hello' in the native language before settling into a corner of the wrecked building with my pistol on my lap for the rest of the day. I opened a can of corned beef hash with my knife and ate it, taking a morose comfort in the fact that it had come from the Stop n' Shop where Cora and I went shopping for food, washing it down with more vodka, clearly the official beverage of the Zone. How the stalker population didn't fall over from dehydration was completely beyond me, but as long as my grey sigg bottle had some water I knew to be clean in it I wasn't going to wonder too hard. I shared a few slim jims with a stalker in a beaten anomaly suit who wandered around my corner spot inquisitively, eliciting a grunt of thanks and seemingly causing the consensus that I was allright and valued privacy. By eight o'clock the Zone sunset, an almost disturbingly beautiful, otherworldly spectacle I will never forget, ended. I eased myself up on stiff knees, drank my second to last red bull, checked the action my rifle and set out, feeling the eyes of the hunkered down stalker camp following me as I cleared the short span to the train depot.

From behind a bush I checked my PDA's map a last time, noting where the slowly moving red dots representing bandits lay around and inside the building before activating my suit's nightvision and sending the world into a luminous lime green. I loaded my 550 with a magazine of subsonic ammunition I had marked with strips of yellow tape, part of the plan to silently dispatch the bandits, enter the depot, find the artifacts and get the hell out before anyone noticed that anything was amiss. Having never spent years of my life as a Navy SEAL, I doubted it would work, but would at least make a good start. I sighted down the scope, burning the red dot into a bandit on the roof whose cigarette glowed like a landing light for the bullet that blew brain and skull fragments through the back of his hood. He fell onto the roof, his AK mercifully not falling to the pavement below and the sound of his body hitting the roof masked by the droning Euro techno the bandits were blaring out of their bar. Stooped over and pulsing with exhilaration, I eased through the gate and into bandit heaquarters.

I moved low to the ground across the short space between the gate and the entrance into the depot. Through the crack of a rusted door I could see four bandits crounched around an indoor campfire, drinking, smoking joints and jabbering in Russian, presumably about who to rob and kill next. There was no way I could kill them all without at least one raising the alarm; the only option was to create a diversion. I crept north along the wall of the building, away from the bar and its sounds, and took aim at the filthy window furthest away from me down the wall. There was no sound from my rifle thanks to the silencer and ammunition, making the sound of breaking glass the only one that met my enemies' ears.

Back at the cracked-open doorway, I could see my ruse had worked. The bandits had hastily gotten up and headed away from me, towards the sound of the glass. One was so secure in his fortress that he had left his AK next to the fire, relying instead on a rusty Browning Hi-Power that pointed toward the ground as he walked toward the noise. Questions called between the bandits as I targeted the one closest to me and fired, the bullet taking him in the back as he crumbled to the ground. I shot the bandit next to him through the throat as he turned toward the sound of his falling comrade and then dropped a third, oblivious to the death behind him. The banidt with the pistol was the only one left to reach the window, noting the shattered glass and the, it seemed, the thick silence around him. He turned wiith his Browning rising to find a target he would never see as I squeezed the trigger for a fourth time, stifing a cry that hit the crumbling innards of the train station for only an instant before falling back into the darkness.

The fire seemed to only enhance the darkness as I stepped through the door, replacing my rifle's magazine with full powered armor piercing rounds that wouldn't be nearly as quiet but would cut through the meanest armor at long range; if I was discoverd now there was no point in playing it quiet. It was too bright even with only the dying fire for night vision, so I turned on my LED flashlight and began to look around for any likely hiding spot. The corpse of a bandit in a trench coat turned up a Soul, but nothing on my list. A board led to a depression in the floor, seemingly a tiny, open basement shrouded in the blackness of nuclear night. I went down the wobbling board, fearful of the combined weight of my body and gear shattering the wood to splinters and calling down the bandit camp on me, sending up a small cloud of filth around my boots as I hit the floor looking around me.

There was a wooden case of vodka immediately next to the ramp. I popped open a bottle and drank deeply, letting the harsh heat of the cheap, grain-distilled spirit wash out the adrenaline shakes from having silently killed four men. Two crates lined the low wall of the depression and I set aside the bottle and drew my knife, figuring that the bandits probably made an Olympic sport out of breaking things and the sound would hardly be out of place. The risk was well worth it, as when the dust and pieces hit the ground the gloom of the basement was aglow with otherworldly light.
  07:49:42  13 November 2008
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BB_Berserk
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  15:36:24  18 November 2008
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liquidatr47
(Novice)
 
On forum: 11/06/2008
Messages: 9
Anyone who knows anything about the Zone, a figures that includes much of the world's population, knows that at its unimaginably lethal center lies the Wish Granter, the fabled monolith worshipped by the Zone's fanatics, the glowing pillar or shimmering golden ball that brings to life the heart's desires of whoever is lucky enough to reach it. Thie feeling that overtook me as I watched the artifacts spill out of the crates my knife shattered has to be a close approximation of how one feels when the Zone grants their greatest wishes. A red light spilled out of the riven box, similar only to a dying ember from a wood fire but much deeper in color. Two objects slid onto the floor silently, not bouncing as ordinary hunks of metal or stone but lying in place. The fireball revolved slowly in place, its mottled round surface shining like a floating blast furnace, and the second, an X of connected dots pulsating with a similar glow, rose and fell inches at a time, as if begging to be picked up. Mama's Beads, a rare and lifesaving artifact. In my case, it rounded out another fifth of my list, and for the fireball, it would keep me safe enough from radiation that I might even be cancer-free with some hair on my head at the end of this. The beads went into my pack, the ball in my artifact container, and my rifle went to my shoulder as I went back up the rotting ramp to leave the house of death I had created.

Unfortunately for me, the amount of time I had spent staring at the firey objects that had spilled from the crate translated into a tracksuit-clad bandit turning into the depot just as I was leaving. He most likely entered to bum a bottle of vodka or hunk of sausage from one of his friends, and left immediately, thrown backwards with a bullet in his chest. The crack of the bullet echoed throughout the area, and I could hear shotguns being cocked and cries of alarm as I crouched in the doorway, ready to shoot the first bandit that came around the corner. One did seconds later, blasting with his sawn-off at the same time I fired. Some of the 6mm shot in the shell thumped against my shoulder; it would ache with a fearsome bruise the next day, but whatever madman Freedom had commissioned to make their suits did his job well, especially when supplemented by a Stone Flower. I rose my feet, senses screaming, sighting down my scope to take my next attacker.

"Kelooya, Chicky Bricky!" a bandit called from the darkness as shotgun pellets and AK rounds punched through the corrugated metal fence and pinged off the concrete all around me. Fortunately, the sight of the cohort being tossed around the corner by a NATO round had taken the wind out of their sails enough for me to make and exit. I ran through the door, somehow missing the hail storm of bullets around me, and sprinted off into the night, north towards the derelict industrial park once known as Rostok.
 
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