The Rude One awakens once again, unsure of his whereabouts. This is not where he last remembered being. Through the gloom he could see that the walls were made of concrete and not steel, he also noticed that the ambiance from the swamp land was gone. He was no longer within the safe confines of a ship. At least this room looked familiar, that brought some relief. This has happened before, he often feels like he is starting over again and again unable to complete goals, frustrating to say the least. The kids like to call it iron man mode, a vague reference to that groundhog day movie. Feels like a fresh start today, this saddened him some.
He had grown accustomed to waking up unsure of where he is. Last remembered scavenging around the Skadovsk and was not at all interested in leaving, now he’s here. Suppose it could be worse, there is this vague recollection of waking up in a bandit camp over at Cordon, the rest of that memory is a blur. He really wanted to get back to Skadovsk but judging by the map on his device, he would need more money to buy his way north.
The backpack next to him beckoned, so he reached over and dragged it towards where he lay. Scored a few bottles of purified water while rummaging through and guzzled one down greedily. From the far corner of the pack, a chunk of stale bread rolled into view, like a bonus prize and it too was consumed. That did the trick he thought as renewed energy flowed through him.
“Water and stale bread, yummy.”
The zones’ cuisine left much to be desired but since survival is on the menu, beggars can’t be choosers. He licked his lips relishing in the starchy aftertaste, knowing it wasn’t enough food.
“Where the hell am I,” his focus then turned to the dimly lit space.
Slowly the room began to take shape, he could make out a familiar face at the far end. It was Trapper, another free stalker and veteran. That man is always standing in that spot, as if expecting someone of importance to come down the stairs before him. Trapper paid little attention to anything else and offered little guidance though he is good for a few jobs.
Took some effort, but he rolled upright into a stance then approached the supply chest in the corner on the floor. There he discovered an ammunition kit and a couple packs of cigarettes. He held the kit in his hands for a moment, then returned it to the supply chest. That kit is added weight right now, and this supply chest will be his main base of operation from now on, until access to Zaton becomes available once again. He then turned his attention to other matters.
He pulled an outfit from that backpack and mumbled. “May not be much but it is something.”
Basics once again, worn leather jacket, a sub-machine gun and side arm with extra rounds. This will have to do as the cries of mutants skulking about the area elevated his anxiety into that state of importance. Suddenly, gunfire erupted just outside the building, it went on for a moment then tapered off one at a time. The desire to embrace extra caution, now in full effect.
The mobile device lit up with more activities. An ecologist squad some distance west of here was in trouble, another opportunity to collect easy loot he thought, but judging by the location an easy death too.
“Crap!” He groaned as he made his way upstairs, “Mutants out in full force already. If there is a God, I would certainly like to have a word with her.”
Other than the usual suspects present at the Yanov station, the building lacked traffic, ne’er a traveler in sight. How treacherous could it be out there to have such a discouraging effect on stalker activities. Thoughts of leaving the station filled him with dread as he searched from room to room looking for anything useful to take. He did find a few cans of energy drinks. Thirst may be under control for now but hunger was still an open issue. No other choice, he had to vacate the safety of the station soon, and find supplies.
The last mutant cry came from the west side of this station he noted, that promptly settled one of his ongoing debates and the east facing exit won. He would roam in that direction towards where a few known stash boxes were located, collect as much as he could carry then hurry back.
It should have been a quick and easy tour but the first thing encountered after opening the door were the bodies of slain stalkers scattered about the yard under the shade tree. Three of them, all monolith and all stripped of their equipment. Members of that faction are usually well armed, and he had doubts this barebone team of free stalkers could have taken them without casualties. Could this be in part the result of a mutant attack? That question went unanswered and the decision to move forward weighed heavily.
He pushed himself and slowly moved forward, ears tuned into the environment while sights darted back and forth diligently searching for threats. As luck would have it he spied a backpack hidden under the stairs of the abandoned housing just outside the station, there he retrieved a military med kit and a few miscellaneous items. He kept on moving, hurrying across the deserted road east of the station, up the incline then collapsed into a prone position with his pistol out. There he paused to survey the field ahead. Other than mutants, caution would have to be taken to avoid members of the monolith, bandit and mercenary factions where encounters can also be fatal.
It wasn’t much, but enough to get him up racing back to the station. He ran like his life depended on it, even though he wasn’t sure what he had seen. He knew it wasn’t safe and succumbed to the default response.
“Run, you ass,” anxiety urged. “You damn well know what you saw.”
“Coward,” curiosity chimed in. “At least take a better look, it would be nice to know what we are running away from.”
Curiosity was right, whatever it was that flashed before his field of vision was not confirmed to be dangerous, but It was the color of what he saw that triggered the panic, and now fear is in complete control and he’s fine with that.
“Almost safe.” He thought as he raced, zipping by the broken automobile that sat adjacent the abandoned house, alternating to the right and left. Could have been a large Boar he wagered as he huffed pass the shade tree jumping over the remains he discovered earlier, but the familiar grunt shared by Boars just wasn’t there, and Curiosity had no immediate response to that bit of reasoning.
He did feel foolish standing inside the station pointing his machine gun at an empty door. Even more since he neglected to close the damn thing after barging inside. He knew that soon it would auto-magically close itself, a safety measure it seems but anxiety thought it best to expedite the process and all were in agreement.
The resident guide that often occupies the table by the west exit began to fire his rifle repeatedly towards where Rude stood, barely missing him. This was truly confusing as there were no good reason for a fellow stalker to be hostile.
“Look down you fool,” His inner voice screamed.
A lurkers head somehow became wedged into the closing door rendering it defenseless and vulnerable. The creature itself, seemed to also be in a panic as the struggle to free itself made things worse. That brought about some sense of relief to Rude’s anxiety and curiosity, one felt justification and the other fulfillment. All cheered as bullets rained down on to the creatures head killing it instantly. It was then harvested adding the mobile lab west of here to the list of places he needed to visit. He was confident he would fetch a higher price trading lurker parts with scientists as opposed to the Yanov station trader.
Despite this experience he still needed supplies and without hesitation set back out to complete the route, only this time with a little more confidence than before. There is one less mutant to deal with, but knew that hunger was on its way.