When he arrived at the Clear Sky stronghold. He noticed the place was busy with faction activities. Stalkers all over were gathered into squads, some hanging by the campfire, others preparing for their day. It was a joy to be among that many stalkers in once place, though the Doc was nowhere to be seen, no surprise there. That stalker is nomadic by nature, and spends his days wandering the marshes doing only the zone knows what. The loner had no interest in going out into that toxic landscape to find him. No, he would wait and bide his time, the Doc will show up eventually
There were other reasons to be here and a lengthy stay at the Great Swamps was already a part of his plan. When the loner had first arrived in the zone, he met a trader he now affectionately calls Sid. Sid had sent him on some outreach program to meet with his associates and do their bidding. One associate, known as the Librarian, is somewhere on this base, and should be expecting his arrival. The loner prayed this was not an assassination gig, he still had no interest in tribal politics.
The other reason the loner thought, is to get access to Clear Sky Armour. He had an interest in upgrading his gear and this faction just happens to produce an exoskeleton that supports five, count them, five attachments on board. That Armour comes highly recommended by other stalkers and the thought of exploiting power from more artifacts made him giddy with joy. At the moment, his outfit is limited to three slots. Not terrible, but this loner wanted more.
Unfortunately, the faction will not allow him access to that equipment right now, not until he proves himself worthy. Loyalty is big among faction members in the zone. Just not between them.
He could get lucky while traveling he thought, and stumble upon a fallen comrade with Armour he could take. Should this ever happen, he could move on to other things besides hanging around this rough isolated area, kissing Clear Sky rear.
During his extended stay in Zaton, the loner had picked up a few essential skills. He had developed the ability to repair broken equipment in almost any condition. He hadn’t practiced in a while and was eager to once again put those skills to good use.
As he mingled, the typical vague references to Strelok was all the loner could gather from this crew. Though the locals were friendly enough, the loner knew he had to put in work to gain their trust. That’s when he approached the Librarian and offered his services.
Sixteen packages of stimpacks was what the man wanted. The loner mulled his new task over for a moment, he thought of all the packages he sold and how useful they would be now. He then took a step back and hurried over to the stilted building adjacent the Librarians place of business. There he met with the local medical technician to get an estimate on the price of stimpacks. Wasn’t bad, just over a few thousand rubles, he could easily swing sixteen of them and this technician already had three on hand. The loner secured the three packages, but balked momentarily, at the other traders asking price.
That stalker wanted double, and he had only one in stock. As the loner made the exchange, he realized how badly he miscalculated. He had yet to see Sids’ asking price and Sid, Zone bless his soul, is one greedy bastard.
The other option is to simply hunt the undead. They, like us, once feared for their own safety, people whose lives were changed beyond their control. He thought about that moment he walked woefully unprepared into a psi-emissions field. He remembered the immediate drain on his existence and the rapid loss of his bodily functions. His contribution to the soiled underwear lore then, was impressive to say the least. That forced submission from things unseen was yet another terrifying moment in his short career, one this loner never wanted to experience again.
That moment once more solidified his empathy towards the undead. After all, it is not their fault. But, he will strike one down in an instance if need be. The undead have been known to have care packages on their possession, and stimpacks can also be found within them.
“Bah, another long trip,” he blurted out as he unloaded dead weight into a new secured stash.
He would need to stop at each settlement as he traveled, visit the traders on site and collect as many packages as he could find.
How far north he wondered, as he applied routine maintenance. He then stared at his map, noted the friendly icons scattered along his path forward, then left the base, headed towards Cordon.
The sun is still up he noted, as he traveled along the wooden bridge. All goes well, he should make it before nightfall.