Part VI – Dr. Stalklove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Zone
Last time, I met another contact on my journey through the zone and toward vengeance. Is it vengeance I seek? I can’t even remember. Either the radiation is getting to me, or it’s the vodka I’m using to battle the radiation.
Strelok, I must find him, but first it is time for the Zone’s night of nights – Agroprom.
[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 come through a gate into the next area. There are some abandoned vehicles and a Stalker ahead, waving to me. He’s yelling something, but I can’t hear him properly over the sound of helicopters nearby. I run up to him just as the two Hind assault choppers fly overhead.
The military is moving against the Stalker base in a big way. If I don’t go and help then everyone who could help me will probably be killed.
There are two artifacts laying on the ground along the path, I grab them both and decide now is probably as good a time as any to experiment with these strange, glowing hunks of slag that I’ve been collecting.
It’s a long run to the base, and I can already hear gunfire, so I choose one that will boost my endurance, and a second one that will increase my “bulletproof” rating. I’m pretty sure I am zero percent bulletproof, so anything is better than nothing.
It’s obvious the Stalkers aren’t faring too well in the battle – the military has pushed them to the edge of the base and there are friendly bodies all over the ground. I kill a few soldiers, and rummage through the arsehole corpse pockets for ammo. I don’t like the idea of stowing my gun long enough to loot, but I’m too low for this kind of battle.
We get the situation under control in the main trainyard area, when Mole gets on the radio, asking for help. Mole? Ah yes, another contact with an animal’s name and an arsehole’s face. I better go and save him then.
It’s a short but brutal firefight in the courtyard, but Mole is safe. He hightails it out of there before I can talk to him, so I follow. Despite the sounds of gunfire still emanating from inside the base, he is standing in the shade of a large tree, next to an underground tunnel opening.
We chat for a few minutes, and finally it is beginning to feel like all of the killing and the bullet wounds and the radiation sickness is getting me somewhere. Mole has met Strelok, he has seen Strelok fairly recently, and he has information on Strelok’s group’s stash that is hidden in the tunnels.
I look over at the tunnel entrance as he talks and I realise that I really don’t want to go down there. It will be dark, it will be dank, and it will probably be more dangerous than the firefight I just barely survived. Mole has no map of the tunnels and offers no help, just the information that I must go down there. Thanks, arsehole.
Steal the Military Documents
It seems like a really fucking bad idea, but I want any excuse to extend my stay above ground. And maybe sneaking in to a military base now, while they’re out attacking the Stalker base, is my best opportunity.
I know I bitched about receiving a pair of binoculars and no gun at the start of this journey, but the number of times I’ve found them to be useful makes me want to go back in time and slap myself in the face.
I creep to the top of a hill overlooking the base. There’s a radio tower there, so I’ve got a bit of cover from which to spy. It’s not enough though, and the soldier in the corner lookout tower starts shouting and shooting in short order. He throws a grenade, but the arsehole somehow manages to throw it into the lookout tower, killing himself.
I laugh hard, a deep laugh straight from the gut, but I cut myself short when I see all the arseholes inside the base, and the ones who are running towards the gate to see what’s happening.
I’m starting to feel very exposed on the hill, so I run down and start to walk along the wall of the base, weapon aimed ahead, ready for the soldiers to stumble into my bullets.
The skies have darkened without warning. This does not bode well…
This entrance to the base is swarming with soldiers, so I go back to my radio tower. There is a secondary checkpoint away from the base proper, with only a light attachment. I start heading towards it when Geiger starts chattering away. I can’t see an anomaly, so I take out my bag of bolts and start tossing them.
Holy shit, that was close.
This new anomaly type is completely invisible, and when you hit it with a bolt it responds with a sort of exploding flower of light which turns the bolt into a streaking comet of red hot slag.
Either the anomaly is huge, or there’s a closely packed series of them making a wall of invisible death. It takes the better part of a bag of bolts to navigate it, but eventually I find myself perched atop a small, dirt cliff, looking down on some soldiers whose faces are about to become intimate with my bullets.
I take a few shots from the cliff, drop a soldier and then slide down the dirt wall, run across the road, and take cover behind a pole. I crouch down low, breath slowly and squeeze the trigger gently. They respond with hurried sprays and bright muzzle flashes, but their bullets fly past my head as mine find their proper resting places. The ribcage of each soldier becomes a graveyard for a family of spent lead.
The forward guard can not withstand my zen assault, and before long I’m taking bullets from fallen arseholes to replenish my stocks. Ahead the base stands and I can hear the klaxon blaring from within. Another clutch of soldiers streams out and they send a concentrated hail of lead in my direction just as the heavens open up with a heavy downpour.
I call off my one-man invasion and back away, retreating in the same way that I came. Next time, military documents, next time.
There’s nothing else for me to do in this sector but climb down the ladder into the tunnels. I wish I had more ammo. I wish I had a flashlight. I wish I had fucking backup. If wishes were dishes then I would have a full dining set.
At least it should be drier down there than it is up here.
I drink a little vodka for fortitude and climb down. Once more into the breach, my friends. Once more into the cold earth, hopefully to rise again.