• Published 8th Dec 2012
  • 5,114 Views, 169 Comments

The Zone - Rostok

This is a story of what happens when inhabitants of Equestria are shown a wasteland of decay, depravity, sadness and death. A S.T.A.L.K.E.R crossover. An experienced stalker and wanderer is teleported far, far away into a land of happiness and joy.

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1: If You Go Down To the Woods Today...

Murk sat blearily by the dying fire, stoking it with a branch. All around him the cries and squawks and noises of the forest penetrated, alien to his ears. None of the animals he'd seen had been truly similar to their Earth counterparts, from the highly intelligent small mammals like rabbits and badgers, to the complete lack of deer, wild horses, moose, or cows. Ignoring the rustling and shaking of the bushes in the wind, he wiped his tired eyes, and stood, heading off to relieve himself as the first rays of dawn poked above the horizon. Pushing past shrubs, he came face to face with a spear, pointed directly at him.


Hiker slowly crawled out from his camouflaged shelter, covered with leaves and branches. Looking out, he saw Murk standing still, facing the bushes, raising his hands. Puzzled by the strange sight, and his early morning tiredness, he blinked it from his mind, standing up further out of his small abode. Murk's head suddenly swiveled around to face him, contorted in shock.

“Run! They've-”

His shout was cut off by a spear erupting through his neck with a sickening crunch, pouring a torrent of blood down his body. As the fatally wounded stalker slumped to the ground, dead almost instantly, armoured ponies leapt from behind him, charging at him. He sprinted.

Running for his life, he sprinted past trees and vaulted logs, splashing through streams and leaping over rocks, into the wild. Hoofsteps were not far behind, getting louder. He pushed on, straining against his tired early-morning body and protesting lungs. The ponies were built for long distance gallops, not speed off the start. He weaved and turned hopelessly, crashing through the ever-thickening forests of rural Equestria, the effort to evade his pursuers getting ever greater.


Garry entered the railway tunnel first, rifle pointed into the severe darkness. All around him the dank smell of moss and musty mould filled the air, contrasting to the dead silence. He advanced step by step, towards the old decrepit carriage near the opening, left to rot outside the huge, rusted bulkheads that prohibited any travel further in. Swinging his flashlight round, he saw a ladder leading up to a small steel platform at the ceiling of the tunnel, by an alcove in the concrete walls. Sweeping one last time, he quickly padded over to the ladder, leaving his rifle propped up by the wall in favour of his handgun. Grasping the rungs, he carefully ascended, silent as the wind. From the perspective of the women waiting outside, he disappeared into the enveloping blackness.

As he slid back down a moment later, he motioned for them to follow him up, collecting his VSS. Once they had all managed the climb, he led them into a small space, the control room for bulkheads by the look of it, now defunct.

“We can rest here for the night, it seems as safe as we can get for the moment, so set up all your sleeping gear while I make us some food.”


Hiker paused, out of breath. He could no longer hear the hoofsteps behind him. Panting heavily, bent double, he looked around at his surroundings, taking in this new area of forest, darker and more imposing than before. The trees were draped with moss, the forest floor a dank leaf litter rather than the soft grasses that pervaded most of the Equestrian wilderness. He was back in the same woods he had found the Zebra's hut on that fateful night. He stroked his scarred cheek in memory.

Leaves began to blow around him, brushing past his sweaty legs, swirling through the undergrowth. The whispers of the winds ebbed and gushed, the trees around him shivered and rustled in protest, as clouds covered the darkening sky. Things appeared greyer now, dull and more lifeless, away from the nurturing sun.

As he rounded a corner in the vague path he followed, an obelisk stood firm in his way, a tall, resolute standing stone inscribed with weathered symbols. As tall as some of the trees, it loomed over him. Vines grew up it's sides, twisting over it's harsh faces. Weather-worn and chipped, overcome by the forest, it was a sorry sight. Hiker felt at peace in it's presence, as if the false warmth of Equestria was gone, replaced by something older and more... earthen.

Wandering up to it, he tugged at the vines that ensnared it, brushing off the accumulated muck and dirt, pulling away all that covered it. It felt strangely nice working in the cool breeze, under the cloudy skies. For over an hour he worked at it, carefully tending to it like a cherished weapon, cleaning and tuning it to deadly perfection. As he stepped back to admire his efforts, the characters on it's surface flashed with blue light, illuminating the fading evening forest for a few scant seconds.

As the light seeped away, a silhouette of dark robes hovered in front of the tall obelisk, floating gently in the breeze. The vaguely equine shape turned towards him, speaking in a ghostly voice.

Thank you, traveler. The ponies no longer care for the ancient forests anymore, let alone the spirits and denizens that reside within. I see that you do not belong here, and there is little I can do to help you with that, Still I wish you well on your journey, and tell you that the only way out for you is with the Sun-Goddess, and that you are to be admired for not bowing to the bittersweet ways of the ponies. I leave you a little token of my thanks, it is good to see some things are still acting freely in this world, even with the bounds of the Everfree reducing every day. It will hinder the orderly magic of ponies in it's presence, and contains many a hidden use inside for you to discover. Farewell, free being.

As the shade faded away, he stood speechless. The mysteries of the magical forests seemed to compound themselves with every mile he went. On the ground before him lay a spherical stone, glowing lightly from the three lines that bisected it along each axis. He reached down to touch it, feeling it's soft power through his fingers. Pocketing it into an artifact pouch, he felt reinvigorated and refreshed, as if after a cool shower following a hot day.


Garry set out from their encampment in the tunnel, determined to discover the fate of Yanov after the firefight that happened mere hours ago. The others he left behind. This was not going to be a safe trip, and he needed to scavenge them all the kit needed to survive, like proper stalker suits and firearms. Wandering through the misty wetlands around the Quarry in the early morning was ethereal, the only sounds were the whispers of the breeze and the distant caw of crows, mixed with the hint of the pungent fumes from the pit nearby him. As he passed the Bitumen anomaly, the ground began to rise, leading up to the shapes of the station buildings rising from the mist.

Upon approach, his head began to tingle, colours became harsher and brighter, and the rarest of all the warning signals broke the silence; a long, high-pitched warble, that of psy-emissions. Quickly backing off, he produced his PDA. A single new message was present on it.

Stalker, this is an automated message from Professors Hermann and Ozersky, Get clear of the Yanov and Jupiter areas immediately. A huge force force of mutants, mostly bloodsuckers, has attacked the station, wiping out most of the garrison there. The survivors are heading directly for Zaton and the Skadovsk outpost there, due to the highly increased density of mutated creatures and humans in this area. We ourselves are being evacuated within the week, along with any remaining members of our guard and expeditionary groups. A small group of stalkers is remaining here to investigate, headed by Kremen. I cannot stress to you enough the severity of the situation. In accordance, the respective leaders of the Freedom and Duty forces have agreed a truce in the north-west Zone until things start recover. Again we urge you, escape now while you can. Anomalous activity is making many more routes out impassable. End of broadcast.

Garry paused, taking in the information. He still needed kit and to find this group led by Kremen, whoever he was. It would be vital to getting out of here. Whatever was causing this catastrophe, it was pushing the stalkers to breaking point.