By David Cook & Ganzer6
I look at my PDA, and I looked up. I looked back at the PDA and I looked up again. Concrete building. South east of Skadorsk. Big doors. My friend’s information had been vague at best, but I figure it couldn’t be that hard to find this specific kind of concrete building in the Zone. I pulled the helmet strap down over my chin and scanned the building through my IL-86 scope. I couldn’t see much through the deluge of rain, that little drizzly sort of rain that slowly soaks into your clothes and takes twice as long to dry out…Yeah, that sort of rain.
From what I could see I realised that the building was occupied by at least two hostiles, their flash lights illuminating the hard concrete pillars of the building. I began to move, crawling towards the concrete fence that surrounded the building. I came to a rest against it, breathing softly as yet more rain fell. I slid my helmet off, and pushed my rucksack against the wall. The helmet would give away my position if the rain got any heavier, and the rucksack was useless since my suit’s ammo pouches held everything I required for combat. Before I departed I screwed my silencer onto the barrel of my rifle, checked the magazine and tied my shoe laces again. One can never be too prepared.
I crossed the small open area in front of the building as quickly as possible, all the while scanning the windows for more movement. I also kept an eye on the roaming lights, still unsure of whether they were held by- A light swung in my direction and I dived behind a sheet of discarded metal, hoping that they hadn’t seen me. The light roamed back and forth, reminding me of the army outpost’s searchlights back in Cordon. Slowly it roamed further away until finally I could no longer see where it pointed. I would have breathed a sigh of relief, but my reprieve was cut short by the sound of footsteps and the low hiss of a radio. I dared a peep around sheet, and what stood before me made me tremble like a child.
A man stood a little over a metre away, on a bridge. The first thing that caught my eye, and the source of my horror was the patch that was emblazoned onto his armor. The head of an eagle delicately sown into his blue-grey sleeve. I shivered within my armor, I’d only tangled with Mercenaries once, and I’d come off second best. I took a moment to gather my senses, containing my apprehension, and leaned slowly out of cover. The figure turned and the wide eyes framed by the heavy, black gasmask will forever haunt my dreams. Phit. My rifle spat a single bullet, and it went high. It buried itself into his throat and didn’t exit, presumably halted by the back of his gasmask. The man collapsed with a hard thud, gurgling as he fell. As the ejected brass danced elegantly on the concrete, the fallen Mercenary’s shotgun fell with a resounding clamor along the steel bridge and an alarm was sounded from inside the building. I knew at that moment that today was not going to be my day.
Figures filled the windows and the air began to buzz like a thousand angry bees. To the front I counted 6 figures, outlined in the windows by their muzzle flashes. On the roof of the building another heavy set figure barked orders to what I presumed were more men. The sheet of metal bent and warped under the volume of fire and was slowly being rendered to shreds. I knew I had to move, and fast. I reached into my front breast pocket and pulled from it my only F1 grenade. I removed the pin, leant back counted to 3 and tossed it. The resulting explosion punctured the air, flinging shrapnel in all directions and blasting out the window frames and a chunk of wall from the building. I was on my feet before the ringing in my ears had stopped. I’d dived behind a nearby drainage pipe and quickly slotted another cartridge into my rifle magazine, you never know when one bullet can save your life. The small pause was welcome, but the mercenaries were tough and would not remain stunned and disorganised for long.
Once again fire began to pour from the building, but sporadically now. They were being more precise. Shit. A voice yelled from the darkness, “Get those bodies out of the way, more rifles in the windows! Move damn you!” I was never the sort to wait around, so I decided to seize the moment once again. I shuffled further along the pipe until I came to a collapsed section where I lent my rifle on the dirt mound and went prone. From this position I had a clear angle on two of the windows and the gaping hole the grenade had left in the wall. I readied myself to engage anyone that dared attempt to pass these points. My first target took a little over 4 seconds to present himself. Moving into the window the glint from the moon on his flashlight gave away his position and I quickly loosed 3 rounds at the glint. The first shot pinged harmlessly off the side of his helmet, but the second and third left the air filled with a satisfying ‘thunk’ as the rounds punched through the ceramic plates in his armor. Another soldier swore and a torrent of fire enveloped the rim of the pipe, fortunately it seemed that they lost track of my position in the confusion.
If I wasn’t wrong, failing all else the mercs would soon converge on my position as they realised they would be unable to dislodge me from cover. They wouldn’t risk another grenade. I had to find a better place to hide, and if my friend was right, I knew exactly where to go. I slung my rifle onto my back and removed my Makarov from my leg holster. Although the Makarov was essentially useless against the armor the Mercs were outfitted with, it would provide enough fire to at least suppress them as I moved. I slotted an extended magazine into the pistol and stretched out. I slid my left hand on to the top of the pipe, kept my Makarov firmly in my right hand, and vaulted over the pipe, firing as I flew. At first my move was greeted with a volley of fire, but the Mercs, unable to be sure of what they were being shot at by, sought cover before returning fire. I kept the momentum of the jump as Hunter had once shown me and I sprung to my feet, ready to run.
I weaved and bobbed like an elf dosed up on cocaine, desperate to avoid taking a bullet in the open, and I eventually found myself in the small shed at the rear of the complex. It had to be here somewhere, I thought to myself. “The gift will be one top of the toolbox, in the duffle bag.” I searched for a toolbox, eventually finding it sitting over with a green camouflaged back sitting right where he told me it would be. I unzipped the bag, hoping to anything that it wasn’t trapped. I almost squealed like a school girl when the contents of the bag were hastily emptied onto the floor. Gaz had always looked out for me before we came to the Zone, and nothing had changed since. The bag had held an intricately engraved TOZ-34, roughly 40 rounds of buckshot and some assorted survival gear. I scooped the rifle up and crammed the rest of the items into various pockets and holsters on my armor. Pressing my body against the wall I could hear voices outside. The odds were now in my favor.
I positioned myself behind the toolbox and pointed my new best friend towards the door. Those mercs wouldn’t know what hit them. The voices got louder, and the mercs began their efforts to dislodge me, not wanting to risk funneling into the doorway. At first, grenades were thrown through the door, but the solid metal figure of the toolbox absorbed the blasts. Failing to dislodge me with explosives the mercs attempted to flush me out using armor piercing bullets. They surrounded the building, firing into the walls only to discover that despite the outside appearing to be a metal construct, the inside was reinforced with concrete, rendering quite a few of the mercs irate at the amount of ammo they had expended. I knew at this point they would attempt the foolhardy, but arguably inevitable tactic of piling in the front door.
I checked the shotgun was loaded one last time as I heard the thud of boots on the door. It would not be long before the steel bar I had placed behind it gave way, and they flooded the room. The bar bent under each kick until finally it bent enough that it slipped from the handle of the door. The first merc in was unquestionably the leader, a heavy set man in an exoskeleton wielding the latest in combat gear including a set of NVG’s and a M4 with a red dot. Lot of good that did him. The moment he stepped into the darkened shed my shotgun roared like a lion, illuminating the room with a line of fire as the buckshot thudded into the mercs armor. The man stood still for a second, the blood beginning to seep through the holes in the armor and finally he dropped the rifle and collapsed. Another merc replaced him, perhaps thinking he’d take me by surprise. He did not and was unceremoniously sent spiraling back through the doorway for his trouble.
A grenade was flung through the door as I slammed another round into the breach. Without thinking I kicked it towards the door and as passed the frame it exploded. The sudden blast of air threw me backwards and I hit the wall hard. My vision blurred and blood dripped over my left eye. I cursed myself for not wearing my helmet but it was too late. The hot piece of shrapnel had sliced into my skin, leaving a gash above my eye. I suppose I was merely lucky that the shrapnel had not flown lower. I checked the rest of my body, finding only minor damage to my suit in the form of a punctured breast pocket, the extra steel plate within had stopped the jagged point of metal from going any further.
I picked the shotgun up once more and scanned the room as I feared the Mercs had flooded in whilst I was down, but the room remained empty and now outside was quiet. I dared to venture forth passing the toolbox and eventually what was left of the doorway. Outside lay 3 bodies in a line. The Mercs had lined up for a breaching action, but the explosion had detonated another sort of explosive another man must have been carrying. All that was left was torn fragments of clothing, and bits of metal and bone. I rested the shotgun upon the wall and checked the bodies for gear. Within the backpack of the merc leader I found a folded map, a compass and a PDA. I opened the message application on the PDA and played the latest audio message.
“This is Commander Serbin. All available Mercenary companies are to report to our Forward Base on the outskirts of Pripyat. The maps you were provided by our contact contain the instructions for reaching the base. Good luck.”
Pripyat? Perhaps my day wasn’t so bad after all…
The Snork Attack
I dipped my fingers in the pool of blood, bringing it up to my nose to sniff. “It’s close”, I muttered to myself. I stood and checked Eugene was loaded. He was. Pretty little thing… A customized camo painted M1911 named after an old friend. He’d died of cancer a few weeks before our group was set to travel to the zone. My thoughts were interrupted by a snarl in the bushes to my left. My instincts kicked in and I threw myself to the side as a snarling figure hurled itself over my head, grasping for me as it flew. As it landed I was already on my feet, pounding away towards the hill.
My heavy breaths fogged the visor of my combat helmet as yet more snarls reverberated through my ear piece. ”Run, now.” The stern voice in my headset was not to be ignored so I pushed harder, my feet throwing mud left and right as I slogged through the mush that made up so much of the ground in this Miserable place.Half way. Thump. Thump. Garrrhghghghghhh. Another snarl. Oh god. That one was closer. I pushed harder… Thump.Thump.Thump. “Go”, I screamed to myself. “Go man go”. I crested the hill and jumped.
My legs buckled. I fell. I coughed, gasping for air. A claw scraped against the outer layer of my Bulat Suit. I tried to scream, but that caused me to cough more. I buried the pistol into the eye piece of its gas mask, and sent the monster’s brain skywards with a single pull of the trigger. The mutant slumped, but its friends still came. Snarling, scratching. Right up until that F1 at their feet.Cardan stepped out of a bush, firing his AK like a possessed man.
One Snork. Two. A third ugly bastard. Then, all was quiet. He sauntered up to me, dragged the dead Snork off me and hoisted me up to my feet. He spat in his hand and affectionately rubbed the blood off of my visor whilst laughing. ”That was close,” he chuckled “but you always were a tough bastard, Barge.”
CREDIT: David Cook & Ganzer6