The following saga describes some of the events from the past games and provides you some clues regarding the upcoming Uranium minds game and quests.
Red sky, soft refreshing breeze, evening.
The only ones who were happy were the mosquitoes that flapped their wings while flying in circles looking for a place to land and suck some blood. Even the smoke of the burning fire was not scaring them off.
Whooop! Another “Kill” to my count, said the elderly stalker as he scratched the remnants of the mosquito from his bald head.
– It is unfortunate that the skin of mosquitoes does not peel off and you cannot sell it. The scientists wouldn’t give anything for it, although they did say they might drop a pocket med-kit for a bottle with a live mosquito – I didn’t understand if he was serious about it or just being sarcastic…
The stalkers, sitting beside him clapped, one of them even smiled. It had been a long time since the Zone met a smiling stalker. The very same smile that can get you a bullet in your forehead, because everyone will suspect you’re either hiding some “good stuff”, up to something or under PSY influence.
The sound of broken branches was heard from the depths of the forest along with some whispering and silent swearing.
Stalkers looked aroused. Everyone was looking at the old stalker, quietly listening.
– Fresh meat in the zone…
A few minutes later, a head rose out from the bushes, a stalker, he tried walking quietly by carefully putting his heels on the ground first. Still a novice, with a brand new backpack and a shiny gun. Sneaking around as if trying to find something, or track somebody.
The stalkers were just a few meters away from the newbie, they chose a good spot to set up their camp, and after the winter, the tall grass in the ravine remained thick despite the cold weather, so the newcomer didn’t even think that there could be some other people nearby.
– Let’s have some fun – said one of the stalkers. He picked up a small stone and threw it to the newbie.
The newbie heard the noise of the small rock hitting the dry ground full of broken branches, he jumped back and slowly turned the barrel of his gun toward the sound, and stood there waiting awkwardly. After some long five minutes, he relaxed and continued his journey. He did not notice a much larger stone that flew over his head, and fell on an old hollow branch, making a similar sound as if he just had stepped on a branch himself. The newbie was no longer in sight, but he started running to the opposite side of the sound, straight to the fire place where the stalkers were gathering.
He jumped over the bushes luckily missing the fireplace. The old stalker ferociously grabbed his arm and flipped it onto the ground, holding his neck, he put a knife on the rookie’s throat.
– Who are you? Where did you come from? Are you carrying any good stuff? Candy? Where are you hiding the goodies? Hand over the “Bacon” if you want to see another sunrise.
The rookie started mumbling, his lips were moving, but his voice was muffled, no one understood what he wanted to say. His eyes jumped from one stalker to the other. The old stalker smiled and released the novice.
– Sit down – relax, we’re not bandits, if you need to change your underwear, don’t do it here, your stink can interest some unpleasant entities.
The stalkers sat down by the fire while the newbie was still lying on the cold ground, without understanding what had happened and not knowing how to behave.
After catching his breath, he randomly checked all the stalkers by suspiciously looking at them, making sure they weren’t paying much attention to him, he stood up and sat down near the fire where the remaining stalkers were. He pulled out a bottle of vodka of his backpack and placed it on the grass near the fire, the others looked at each other alarmingly.
– Young fella, are you aware of the new dry law in the Zone? Nowadays, importing alcoholic beverages can lead to “deportation”, you can get a one way ticket to the big land, away from the Zone. Now, to get a sip of a cheap beer, you have to drag your new backpack and shiny barrel to the bar, it’s said the “Barman” pays tributes to the military by supplying them with booze. And if the military guys catch you wandering around with these illegal liquids in the Zone, your dirty money won’t help anymore.
“I didn’t know, this is my first day in the Zone, I just managed to get through a military block-post pretending to be a photographer from a survival magazine, I even carry a counterfeit permission to take pictures in the base area.”
– We don’t want to hear your fairy tales, one way or another, you ended up here… Besides, this place is creepy enough already….
– I came here searching for the “Oasis and its wealth”, everything else is out of my interest.
– Same old, same old, you’re not the first one, this whole story is wrapped by rumors, people say if you find it, you will live the rest of your life as a king. Like the teleport’s anomaly, everyone knows it exists somewhere, but nothing has been found so far, and when it will, nobody will know what to do with it.
– “I found it…” The words came out from nowhere and from all sides simultaneously.
Just a second ago, the stalkers who were quietly sitting down, were now standing with their rifles off safety and ready to shoot. Cold sweat drops were dripping from their foreheads, their fingers were glued to the triggers, and the guns seemed to be alive seeking for targets. The novice was sitting still, not understanding what was going on.
– Who goes there? Show yourselves!
Only the mosquitoes’ buzzing was allowed to sound through this dark silence. The sound of the wood burning in the nearby fire sounded as loud as it never did before.
– Lower your weapons, said the old stalker, if “he” who said this meant us harm, we wouldn’t be having this conversation by now.
The stalkers lowered their arms and looked at him relentlessly. Mosses and Lichens shifted to the top of the embankment, as another stalker came out of nowhere and grabbed the bottle of vodka.
– Good day Pathfinder. What’s new? – The stranger asked.
– Guys, please meet “Iltis” (eng. Fang), he’s a good guy, trust me, if he says he found something, believe it. I recognized your voice, but not immediately, how long have you been hiding there?
– For a long time, I was waiting for you, I wanted to show up, but then I heard the newcomer going through the forest, making so much noise, even a deaf Snork would hear it. How was your trip? Did you bring everything I asked for?
– Yes of course, I brought several med-kits sent by the scientists, food supplements, ammo and filters for gas masks. Pathfinder pulled a bundle out of his backpack and handed it over to Iltis.
– And as we traveled, we met Izlom at the former bandit base, he agreed to escort us safely, but this costed us half a kilo of candy.
– Meaning, in the near future there will be neither Snorks nor Bloodsuckers around.
Good to know…
Iltis moved away from the artifact container and handed it over to the Pathfinder.
– Here, this should compensate for all your expenses, a pair of “Drops”, “Crystals” and “Soul Stones”. You know I do not like to visit crowded places…. The higher number of people, the more active the Zone gets and that increases the number of deaths around. And I want to stay alive. Can you tell me what’s changed since I helped Stalkers evict the military base out of the Zone’s perimeter a couple of years ago?
I was at the “big swamps” and I have no clue about what’s going on here right now.
Pathfinder, reached for his smoking pipe and started smoking.
– I don’t even know what to start with, DUTY took over the place where the military base used to be, and they helped the Barman rebuild the bar, as a result, they are now settled right beside it. Then there was an accident on their base, and now that area is radioactive, so they are staying in the bar… Freedom has moved its base closer to the forest of Rye, they say the grass grows well there. “Sidorovich” also goes without a permanent place, traveling for more than a year, with no place to hide. Visva, the head of the gangsters, boasted that he had a piece of the “Wishmaker” that someone had stolen from him, then he, disappeared too, maybe he went to looking for it or whatever…. From that moment on, the bandits broke out and now became even more dangerous. Rumors say, Visva is back and is trying to put order, however no one knows the location of their current base.
The old man, Zadov, was disbanded, and he escaped from the Zone, Mil-Stalkers were executed, the survivors escaped and attacked the scientists’ base, presumably one was captured. The rest of the survivors perform “dirty works” for those who pay more. I heard that the scientists say that Zadov has agreed with someone from the Great Land and plans to return to the Zone and conduct illegal trials, as well as the previously called Mil-Stalkers are now called mercenaries.
Freedom attempted to assemble a device that would enlarge the zone and reduce its aggressiveness, as DUTY exploded the mini-atomic bomb made from the reactor’s residues, hoping to destroy the Zone, it actually resulted in the explosion of both devices and the launch of the Zone’s reaction, there was so much radiation coming out of the bunker that no one dares walking there without a gas mask. All electronic systems stopped working, ARM system did not work, the anomalies were changing positions after every discharge, and it was impossible to go by untouched. The military then spread a powder across the Zone’s perimeter that reduced the radiation levels, but it was not clear what long-term effects it would have.
The voice of the Pathfinder was metallic crackling, he stretched out his hand toward the bottle of vodka, and after a good drink he wanted to continue his story, but “Iltis” lifted his hand, stood up, and as the smoke disappeared in the woods, he came to the bonfire and threw a few pieces of wood into the flames.
– I stretched out the traps, now no one can see us further than twenty meters away. Let’s continue.
-The former scientist base was under maintenance and the experimental Snork was accidentally released to the Zone, it was a “she”, it’s worth believing, because population of snorks is growing rapidly and outnumbering stalkers, no one can hunt them all down. Now they are falling, maybe because of hunger. Last fall, the military was very active, going everywhere, hitting everything that moves, people say there was a SPECIAL OPS unit involved. No one had a quiet life during that time. The locals say the soldiers are using landmines now, further roads are now being mined and blocked, after losing a couple of armored vehicles, they are now patrolling the area on foot, but now they are not afraid of going to the woods, even though they only risk doing it under command and only if they see something interesting. The “Black Stalker” is often passing through the zone, and a group of stalkers even formed a circle of his followers, scared to fail to grow into his faith. Everyone is hunting for hints on the cursed “Oasis and Teleport”, but what if they are not real? Are these rumors? Or is somebody planning to ambush stalkers?
In the dark sky, the sound of a helicopter was heard from the north, it was heading toward the center of the Zone, toward the big swamps. The helicopter’s signal lights flashed from time to time revealing its position. The quiet of the night’s silence was overwhelmed by the harsh noise of the rotors, a blue lightning rose from the ground and hit the helicopter, it ignited, its tail was covered in flames, as the rest of the helicopter began to spin like a windmill and slowly free falling on the ground. A few moments after and the sound of the explosion reported the crash time.
All Stalkers stood on their feet and tried to see what was happening in the sky, “Iltis” grabbed his night vision googles as fast as he could to get a better look of what was going on.
– Just don’t say…. Pathfinder spoke with a trembling voice.
– Yes, the Monolith is back.
– It cannot be, the Wish stone was destroyed by an explosion and the stalkers have scattered its debris everywhere.
– True, but no one said the crystal can’t affect its owners, I had a suspicion, but I had no evidence. They were Monolith. Everything makes sense now, in the “Rust forest” I had repeatedly hit the “Psi wall”, where the brain starts to boil, I think I may have seen Monolith’s remains. Now, this is a hint, not just for somebody, but for the military. There is an urgent need to arrange raids and find the crash site. Night-vision binoculars made it possible to notice some glowing parts falling from the helicopter, I don’t know what it is, but it would be better to find out as soon as possible. If this really is Monolith, we must organize a global inspection as soon as possible and bring everyone together for a major defense.
There was fear and peace in sight. They looked at Iltis in a questionable manner.
– What should we do?
– I’ll start moving towards the crash site, I’ll give you my talisman, Iltis, take it to Sidorovich or Barman they value it the most, they will find out what to do with it, I will give you my compass, it’ll show you where to go (your target), also, take these envelopes with maps and signs, I will tell you how to read them later, flash-disks and the compact disks with the labs and the codes, give them to your stalkers and tell them to go back to the bar, one by one, from there, get to the military, they will know what to do, all the information is in your hands. I do not believe in fate, so I will not wish you good luck. Wait half an hour after I leave and then move, or wait till the morning light shines and avoid any possible traps.
Iltis vanished in the thick darkness of the woods. Pathfinder over-viewed all the items and distributed to the stalkers.
– Newbie, do you want to make some money? Take a pack and, with the first rays of the sun, deliver it to the Bar 100’s “X-rays”, the Barman will feed you and give you some water, and if you’re lucky, maybe some money.
It has been a few hours since Iltis went out, there were no gun shots to be heard, so everything started quietly, the sun would soon start to shine. A very quiet, but audible bell ring reached their hears: