Because scrounging through the dead did not require it, the loner disabled his headset to save on batteries.
“You came to the wrong neighborhood kids” He joked as he loaded his backpack with whatever he could find.
He scavenged their rusted out worn weaponry and munitions, tattered suits, helmets, stale food and cigarettes, the typical items found on walkers, barely covering the cost of bullets. The loner had yet to improve his marksmanship and treasured every round lost.
“Have mercy please,” he cried out exasperated.
There were no devices, notes or diaries on this lot, disappointing to say the least. Sadly, his ‘stranded in Zaton’ status will remain unchanged.
“I’ll make the best of it then,” he said once again before shouldering his pack.
Other than the traders, It’s been weeks since he has seen another. The last friendly face he came across was that odd stalker with the equally odd name that dropped a world of hurt on a squad of invaders back at Skadovsk. Probably still out there roaming around. He hoped he would meet that stalker once more, there are questions to be asked.
Not too long ago, he ran across a Freedom squad in passing, over at the Ranger station. They eventually fell victim to some fanatics, which in turn fell victim to this loner. Lots recovered that day but none of the documents or devices had information he wanted. He understood sadly that the chance of finding the secret way out, was slim, and resigned himself to the reality of an indefinite stay.
A quick glance at his watch indicated midnight had come and gone. Should head back at once, another blowout will soon be here. With night vision enabled he began his trek towards Skadovsk. The blue hue from the headset brought breathtaking clarity to the dark, and he thought he could see it all, as he sloshed through the glowing pools of water scattered around without a care. Poisoning was no longer an issue, as his upgrades and attachments kept him well protected. His path forward remain direct.
Yes, he has made the best of it, minor improvements all around. Most notable is the mastering of the art of simple repairs. Over time he became efficient at that practice. No longer was he dependent on technicians or at the mercy of that damn vice, basic tools could be used to return weapons and outfits from any condition. A refreshing change indeed.
“Hello, what’s this?” The faint sound of music could be heard coming from Skadovsk. “Are there new stalkers here?”
Exciting he thought, as it has been a while. He picked up his pace, and hurried towards the ship eager for a meet and greet session. Indeed, there are new stalkers here, two of them, none with anything of value to offer, though a few easy jobs were obtained during their conversations. One wants a stack of Swiss army knives, cool, the loner already had that available. The other wants to find a personal device.
“You and me both buddy, high five.” That charm attempt was lost on this one, and the loner was left hanging. The task was accepted, and why not? He will extract that information for himself anyway before turning it over for that promised reward and everyone wins.
Next he approached Owl. The loner had grown suspicious of that trader. The man is clearly a liar, claims he doesn’t know where the exits are. But suddenly out of nowhere, new items in his inventory. Where did they come from? He keeps selling stash coordinates that are outside this area and there is no goddamn refund process available. Talk about a rip-off.
At least he will buy almost anything not tied down, got that much going for him. The loner felt that Owl was holding out, keeping him trapped in Zaton for the sole purpose of indefinite trade, and that thought infuriated him to no end.
“What the hell are these?” He asked.
Owl had in his inventory a set of PDAs of varying versions. When did this become a thing? Owl silently dismissed his query, which made the loners’ suspicion grow deeper.
“I’m watching you dude,” he mouthed towards Owl, as he walked away.
Weapon parts were then sold to the technician before finally wandering over to his own cache. With another blowout closely approaching, it was pointless to head back outside. Instead he elected to spend a little time arranging his collection, reviewing crafting abilities and doing essential repairs. Up to three containers now, one storage and two backpacks laying next to it.
The pack on the right is reserved for a growing pile of unused artifacts, kept just in case Beard, the other trader had a special need for one. He could not understand why Beard rarely asked for artifacts he already had, he felt this to also be intentional.
“Snap out of it you fool,” the loner said to himself. “Don’t let the zone get the best of you!”
Armour, weapons and munitions laid stored in the other pack. The loner maintains a modest collection. His most used items are his Hammer twelve gauge and the FN assault rifle, weapons he proudly restored all by himself and excellent tools to have at the ready when going for a stroll.
He keeps a set of monolith suits on hand. Had plans on infiltrating the squads, follow them around, gain their trust and perhaps learn more about their presence in Zaton or secrets untold. These suits are terrible though, plagued with poor carrying weight and defense, not at all worth it. Instead, he sought to bide his time, and wait around for that perfect gear to show up, and why not. Nothing else better to do.
The storage container held everything else, including an assortment of crafting and repair kits, there he retrieved rags, grease and tools to commence his maintenance routine. Always keep your weapons clean kids, a misfire can get complicated.
The PDA lit up once more with activity. Looks like an unlucky squad drew the short straw and ran across that odd stalker with the invisible friend. Reads like an attempt at taking refuge at the Waste Processing Plant, and the existing residents were not having it. Sucks to be them.
“Good to know he is still in Zaton,” mused the loner. “Perhaps I will meet with him again.”
He continued on with the maintenance and allowed his thoughts to drift over to Owls curious collection of devices. Strange he never noticed them before now. They are expensive, but he wanted to know more, what made them so damn special. Will sleep on this one, decide in the morrow, there is an alert echoing across the zone right now.
The blowout is here people, please stay sheltered.