I AND I, Anomaly, slow and steady

With each step forward, the desire to show extra caution intensifies. Why? Because it reeks of nothing but trouble in there. Normally, I would pay for safe passage across the region. But over time, the number of unchecked coordinates increased, and I now feel obliged to visit them. What challenges await me I wondered, standing before the dishevelled entrance to that tainted wonderland. I sighed heavily as I drew the gate open and crossed over to the gloom.

It’s that slow and steady approach to things, that will govern todays strategy, crawl forward for a few, pause and search for signs of trouble. Not foolproof at all, but goes well with my brand of anxiety. I must remain wary of the fanatics that call this forest their home. These heavily funded worshippers of the zone, come equipped with laser like perception, coupled with a strict shoot first ask questions later policy. They can be seen traveling between the open camps scattered throughout the forest, and if spotted, their own policy should immediately be implemented. It’s only fair.

The further into the forest I go, the more unease I feel. I can hear dogs in the distance, but can’t tell where they are. It does sound like they’re moving further away, some good news right there. I can also hear gunfire being traded some distance up ahead. Really hope those were ambient game effects, and not indicative of what’s to come.

As a strategy, the results from this approach can be a mixed bag. On one hand there is less physical strain on this aged potato hosting my sandbox, and much easier on my ability to react with my embarrassingly poor skills. On the other, there is this respawn rule where new characters are birthed after some time, and encouraged to go out and reclaim territory. Always a joy to find something unfriendly, bringing up the rear. Things are looking good though, so further into the forest I go.

Now unbeknownst to me, the current occupant of the camp ahead, had in his possession one of the more impractical tools available. And, he must have been privy to my presence, as the second I snuck around the bushes, he greeted me with that thing, pointed at my face.

I don’t like rocket launchers. As a rule, I stay away from characters that possess them. A stalker with a rocket launcher never ends well, and this one would be no different. Time stood still for a moment, and I could observe his finger at the ready, and through his mask, the eyes of a man that had already accepted the consequences of his decision. There was no turning back.

Next came the explosion, and it was deafening. It knocked my form some distance back, blurred my vision and left my ears with a constant ring. Crippling disorientation and profuse bleeding became the next concern and I hurriedly applied the near broken first aid kit retrieved from my pocket. There was quite a bit of damage to go around, but not as much as was experienced by the one who pulled the trigger. Found the man dead as I crawled around with my rifle, barely at the ready, to finish the exchange. Don’t know what happened, can only assume he sent his payload into the rocks, the moment I ducked behind them.

Praise Monolith I say! What luck.

This one came loot heavy as well, and may have participated in that skirmish I heard earlier. Clearly an adept stalker, who made an inept choice.

“Had to use that thing didn’t you.” I mocked his remains repeatedly, as I relieved him of his collection.

Shame I thought, haven’t covered much ground, lost over half my health, substantial damage to my gear and generated more than enough noise to attract his companions to this campsite. I sighed deeply, shouldered the days haul, and began the not so slow and steady trudge back to whomever is interested.

Fuq! This slow and steady thing is going to take some time isn’t it.