Part V – The Zone Strikes Back
When last we meet, I was hanging around Chernobyl’s most famous Make Out Point, alone. The Garbage has treated me well so far – interesting sights, new friends, new arseholes to put bullets into. It is a good day to be a Stalker, but then again, every day is a good day to be a Stalker in the Zone.
[This is my first experience with Shadow of Chernobyl. It all began here. I’m playing it with the STALKER Complete 2009 mod after community recommendations, and the FOV Switcher after a headache kicked in.]
I can hear a pack of dogs nearby, barking, howling, running around and generally making a nuisance of themselves. I take out my silenced pistol so if a dog runs at me I can put it down without bringing the whole pack towards me, but they either don’t notice me or they don’t like the way I smell, and they leave me alone.
To get to Seriy I need to walk straight into the setting sun. I throw a few bolts to make sure I’m not walking directly into an anomaly like a newbie arsehole, but the path is clear.
The hill on the northern side is covered in junk and anomalies. Geiger chirps up a couple of times, but I think this area of the Zone simply has a heavier dose of radiation being carried around on the breeze than the last area. It can’t all be clear skies and beautiful sunsets, can it?
The facility that Seriy is holed up in looks huge on the map, and I spot it easily, blocking out the setting sun. It’s possibly ex-military from the stars painted on the gates, but these days who can tell. Just as I bend down to pick up an artifact that some arsehole has left lying on the ground my radio starts going – Someone is under attack by bandits, and knowing my luck it is probably Seriy. I better go before he gets his face shot off.
I pull Heckler and Koch out of hiding and sprint to the open gate. There is a Stalker crouching down beside the corpse of another. He is facing the gate, too stupid or shell-shocked to realise the bandits are already inside the building, right behind him.
I take cover behind a barrel and start shooting. I lose count during the firefight, but there’s at least 5 of them, all lightly armoured judging by how quickly they drop to the floor.
I’m out from cover, doing my best McClane impersonation when I run out of ammo.
“Peezdets’!” It’s the only Ukrainian I’ve picked up this whole time in the Zone, but it will do in this situation.
I stow Heckler and Koch and grab Kalashnikov and start spraying wildly… Like a fucking idiot, because he’s nearly empty as well.
There’s one left now, running for cover. He drops with my last bullet and all I can do is swear again. Fucking shit, indeed.
I took a lot of heat – by the time I finish bandaging all my wounds I look like a mummy, but at least I have the bandages. Now I have some arseholes to loot, and then hopefully Seriy is the living Stalker back there, not the dead one.
It really is my lucky day – Seriy is the one one his feet, and the “dead one” is only wounded. I patch him up because I can spare the medkits, and Seriy is so pleased with the martial and medical help that he gives me the information I need straight away, as well as some ruble-ruble-bills y’all. Again there’s some arsehole I have to meet, and again I’m sure the whole journey will be fraught with that special brand of post-Soviet danger.
I have vodka, and food, and this place is as safe as any. I unroll my sleeping bag and bed down.
Stash at The Dipper
What a glorious morning.
Visiting this next arsehole is going to take me to yet another separate area of the Zone, so I check my їҎDД quickly to make sure I’m not going to miss anything while I’m still here in the Garbage.
There are three stashes marked on my map. One of them is at a heavily guarded military checkpoint, one of them is on the far side of the Garbage, near the heavily guarded military checkpoint, and the other is not too far out of my way, and nowhere near the heavily guarded military checkpoint.
Tough decision. Think I’m going to have to roll a dice.
My їҎDД says the stash is at “The Dipper”, but I have no idea what that might be. A derelict theme park ride perhaps? What if it still works? I could make people pay me to ride it! I would be the godking of the Zone. Stalkers, Bandits, Soldiers, and every other kind of arsehole would have to come and kiss my boot.
I walk out the front of the Stalker compound, and around to the north. More junk, more anomalies, but at least now – this far into the Zone – I’m finding artifacts on the ground too. I grab an artifact and continue around to the theme park. I spot some big digging piece of machinery, so perhaps the theme park is behind that?
Peezdets! The yellow monstrosity of a machine is the Dipper. My godking dream will have to wait.
It is half-stuck in a ditch, surrounded by anomalies and concrete tubes. I can’t see this supposed stash, but my Stalker sense is tingling, and it tells me it is likely hidden inside one of the tubes. I hold my breath – because running into radiation is like diving into water – and race down the slope.
Sure enough, there is it, a backpack in the tube. I have to crouch right down to get it, then I backpedal it out of there.
I pull up my їҎDД map. The exit is straight ahead, likely another train tunnel, ‘cause I can see a stationary train and a tunnel opening. I start heading towards when I spot them.
More arsehole bandits.
The good news is that I’m coming up from behind and they haven’t spotted me. The bad news is there’s at least another 5 of them. I get a bead on the nearest one and start shooting. He tosses a grenade and forces me to rush ahead. My bullets get to him first.
It’s a long battle, relative to others I’ve been in, but in the end I am the last man standing. Seriy better thank me for keeping his little Stalking Utopia safe for another day.
I patch myself up, loot the bodies and then wander into the tunnel. It has an artifact and an anomaly in it, but it is blocked by train wreckage.
Goodbye Garbage, you’ve been good to me, and I’ll be back soon. But for now I must go to the Agricultural Prom – Agroprom. And me without a date.