Picked up a companion today. Hadn’t planned on it. I ignored him the first few times I walked by. He was alone and there was something else going on with him that I couldn’t put my finger on. He was a strange character indeed.
I spent the afternoon carving out a path back to the Dark Valley through the Meadows. Not too long ago, I stumbled across information related to two abandoned packages located at the southern border. It seemed pointless to take the Garbage route back as it was out of the way.
Bandits were everywhere when I first arrived. I may have startled the one closest as he squeaked something unintelligible then immediately ran for cover. The other was some distance away standing next to a run down truck. He fired the first round and missed. Moments after that, his friends appeared. I quickly ran into the safe house next to me and barricaded myself.
I count three bodies. Thought there were more. None of them had loot worth a damn. I loathed the idea of hauling this weight onward and did not want to leave it behind. It was time to head back to Cordon and pickup some extra storage for all that loot I was now expecting.
That Loner was still standing guard when I returned to the farm. And he looked as out of place as before. Still could not put my finger on it. I went inside and sold what I could to the trader. Stocked up on some armor piercing and grabbed a storage bag. Next I had the technician apply the necessary repairs to all my gear. I was ready now, and this time I’ll do the Meadows right. There was chatter on the net. Something about a military infiltration at the loner village down south. Was that stalker outside associated in anyway?
I’ve never taken the time to explore the bandit base. Did not plan on it either. My experience with the Meadows is limited to it’s position as a shortcut. This time I ended up following the trail of fallen stalkers created by my own hands. Bandits would appear. Bang bang bang. Down they’d go and on to the next. So much for that passive play through I kept talking about. That fight led me north across a back alley and into the adjacent facility towards their camp. Along the way I met one bandit that thought himself clever. He maintained his cover well and was successful at slowing my progress. His next strategic move was to flank, but was rudely interrupted by a vortex anomaly. How did he not know it was there? I chuckled as I watched his body rise up involuntarily, rotate rapidly and end in one glorious mess. Good luck finding that loot I thought, and continued on. The base and the surrounding structures was riddled with anomaly fields and heavy radiation. I did not understand it’s appeal. What would possess anyone to stay out here, let alone make it a base. Found nothing of interest and to be honest I did not do a thorough search. Instead I followed the trail back and collected as much as I could haul before returning to the safe house.
West of that bandit base is yet another facility I’ve neglected to explore. It may remain neglected for a while longer as the mutant presence there proved near fatal. Barely a round was fired before the pummeling began. Objects not tied down would rise up and crash hard into me doing serious damage. The burers stationed in that center high rise made approach difficult. From that position they could see me but I could not see them. The large warehouse bordering the high rise hosted a number of wandering poltergeists. I counted two but there could be more. Combined, the mutants psi-field proved formidable and made a solid case for my immediate retreat.
When I arrived back at the farm, overburdened and exhausted. That loner was in the process of leaving. I had to rest once more to catch my breath. Maybe I should have left the steel plates behind. Just a few meters to go I murmured as I watched that Loner stroll by. On his way to who knows where. Then it hit me. The reason this character looked so out of place. The man was unarmed. Ne’er a weapon on his person. How the hell did he survive for so long? He seemed to he angling towards that bridge south of here. Not a good idea I yelled out. No telling who or what is stationed there at this very moment.
He said his name was Matvey Shaggy and fell silent. He had no tasks and was somehow left wandering around aimlessly. I did not press him on his story. No need to. I understood the cruelty that is the zone. I instead offered to recruit him then brought him back to the safety of the farm. There are a number of neglected equipment in storage that I can lend. At least give him a fighting chance. He is an ally after all and I could really use some good karma right now.