Part VII – Dr. Bloodroubles
I have travelled far and wide, I have recovered valuable artifacts, I have helped my fellow Stalkers, and I have put a lot of bullets in a lot of arsehole faces. The beautiful skies of Chernobyl have always sat above me, until now. Now I descend into the Earth where darkness and horror inevitably awaits.
[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.]
A Stalker greets me at the entrance to the tunnel. He’s dead, but surely a dead welcoming party is better than no welcoming party at all. I take his bandages and ammo, and thank him silently.
I walk down the tunnel to where some stairs descend down to a lower level cavern, and am immediately faced with two bandits sitting down, swapping stories and keeping it chill. I unload my silenced pistol into the face of one arsehole before he has a chance to stand up, but the other takes to cover. I can hear a lot more voices now, but it’s too dark to see exactly what’s happening beyond the staircase I’m standing at the top of.
I swap to my AK, crouch down and put the butt of the gun into my shoulder and wait for them. A couple of things work in my favour – first is that most of the bandits seem to be wearing headlamps, so if I aim for the light I should be hitting them right in the face, and second is that most of them are armed with sawn-off shotguns. Shells explode wooden crates and cement walls around me, but to get a clear shot they have to come to the base of the stairs.
By the time I’m done it looks like a Soviet slumber party – sleeping on a concrete floor with guns for pillows.
Now I can focus on the actual exploration that I came down here for.
There appears to be three possible routes. One large tunnel that is well-lit because of an electrical-storm anomaly.
A manhole that I might not even be able to get to, but if I could, it’s dangerously close to a droplet anomaly.
And a rusting metal, spiral staircase that goes down to a room filled with droplet anomalies.
Well, they’re all shit options, but at least one of them is filled with anomalies I can navigate around.
I descend the rusty stairs and look out for any droplet artifacts. I looted one from a dead bandit, and they have the interesting property of reducing radiation at the cost of some endurance, where every other artifact type I’ve found so far increases radiation. As long as I can take the hit to endurance it could prove very useful.
I come to another large, cavernous space, filled with droplet anomalies, with a couple of candles and a thick sense of dread hanging over the place. Now, I’m not particularly claustrophobic or nyctophobic, but in the words of Sir Han of Solo – I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
I climb the nearby stairs and grab a bouncing urchin artifact. The way it bounces makes me want to pet it, but the spikes make me rethink. Just as I’m deciding what to do with it I see something out of the corner of my eye. It’s only half-there, looking like a blurry trick of the light, or a radiation-induced hallucination, but I know it’s real; some vaguely humanoid, radioactive horror.
It exudes dread and menace, so in turn I exude bullets in its general direction. It flees at first, but I can see it rushing back and forth, testing me, waiting for me to drop my guard so it can rush me.
I squeeze off a few rounds as it dashes back and forth, and hear it howl when I wound it.
I slowly walk back towards the stairs, and it finally decides I’m close enough and rushes to meet me. I empty one and a half clips into it before it goes down. It might have been human once, but now it is closer to Lovecraftian beast than man.
If I wasn’t afraid of the dark before, I am now. Every shadow ahead of me is filled with monsters, every noise is my death, and every bullet in my backpack is sweet salvation.
Just as I think to myself that I would love to see a friendly face, I enter another tunnel and see someone moving around a pair of anomalies. Great! He’s military; he starts shooting at me. Not so great. At least I can see these arseholes.
I put him down quickly and quietly – well, as quietly as you can with a submachine gun. I proceed through the room he was guarding and into a second hallway. There’s another soldier, so I shoot him in the back a few times, but he retreats and comes back with friends.
They hit me a few times, but I stay close to the ground and take careful aim. Soon enough they’re all dead and I have enough ammunition to keep me going for a little while longer. If it’s called ‘hand-to-mouth’ when you’re barely earning enough to be able to eat, what is it called when you’re barely scratching together enough ammunition to put down all the arseholes and monstrosities you come across? Clip-to-gun?
I look at the map, and the place I’m meant to head to is right there. I look for a doorway, or a manhole cover, but there’s nothing. Then I see it.
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, right?
I push into the opening, waiting for a rat – or worse – to chew my face off. It’s pitch black, but I make it up to the top of the tunnel with my face intact. I’m exhausted though, so I stay watching the room in front of me while I catch my breath. I realise I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing here. Is this where Strelok is hiding out? Should I be prepared for ultra-violence? I don’t think so, I think this is just another stop on the Strelok express, but I check my clip just in case.
The room is empty. I can see no people, no loot. Well, not at first. My eyes slowly adjust to the light and I can make out a few things. There’s some armour sitting underneath a table – it’s the same as my current clothing, but without so many bullet holes – and above the table in a weapon rack is a rapid-fire AK47. I assumed they were rapid-fire by default, but regardless, this one has been modified. There’s also another new artifact type – a glowing orange orb that feels warm to the touch.
It takes a little longer to find the data I came here to retrieve – a flash drive hiding in a hole in the wall.
“Analysing” the info I see Strelok and his buddy Ghost use more emoticons than your average teenager. Lol, those arseholes are going to fucking die :p …Just as soon as I can make it out of these mothertwerking tunnels alive.
I want to go back the way I came, but the minimap is telling me to go the other way. It is probably right.