• Published 8th Dec 2012
  • 5,127 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.

  • ...

2: Defeat

Two Weeks Previously

The Skadovsk was a blinking firefly of light in the wet darkness of the swamps of Zaton. It's orange glow flickered and danced like a candle's, lighting up the gray, drizzling darkness of the rainy night. Unlike a candle's glow, it was not a thin tongue, but small flashes, sporadic and moving position. A quiet metallic cacophony was audible from even this distance. “Thank god we got out in time” thought Hog. The same thought was probably circulating throughout the rest of the small group with him. Looking through his binoculars, he could vaguely make out the half-dozen shapes causing the flashes running around atop the beached ship.


One of the figures standing on the Skadovsk looked back at the barely visible shape of the group of refugees. He remained expressionless. He didn't care that they were running away. He didn't care about anything much these days. The abrupt end to the recoil of the Sig 550 in his large gloved hands brought his mind back to the situation. With the precision and efficiency of a machine he pulled the mag from it's slot, flipped it deftly in his hand, and inserted the next one taped to the side. He opened fire once more on the ravenous hordes below him baying for his blood.

A handful of magazines later, the roaring symphony of destruction changed in pitch. A screaming stalker four feet from him writhed on the floor underneath a bloody snork digging into his neck. He turned and blasted them both into shreds, and retreated backwards up the rusty stairs onto the roof of the bridge. The disgusting things followed him, always cut down by tight bursts, severing limbs or shattering chests. The trail of corpses was feet high. Two other men were here, probably the only other two left. One was a tall stalker, Spartacus, letting off a syncopated staccato chatter from the double taps of his AN94. The other was pivoting on a bloody leg, held together with a splint. It was Beard. He twisted and turned, blowing leaping snorks from the air with his SPAS 12.

In a triangle they stood, raining lead on the mutants coming up from the bowels of the ship below them, swarming in over the sides of the hull. It felt so simple to him, just to be stood there, almost motionless, amid the chaos and blood and death, calm and composed. All he had to do was point, and pull the trigger, and relax into the moment.

Something collided with his back, staggering him from his focus. Spartacus had dropped his rifle in the pile of empty mags by his feet, and was taking wild shots with his pistol, unable to stem the horde.

Slamming his mailed fist into the face of the wounded bloodsucker clawing at him, he watched as the stalker deftly leapt from the top of the ship onto the deck, scrambling past dogs and fleshes, sprinting for the edge of the ship. He made it, just, and flung himself from the side. Beard was surrounded too now, still letting off blasts from his shotgun. He left him to his work and turned back to the stairs he was covering. The mutants were having a hard time climbing over the piles of bodies, slipping and sliding and screaming and growling and being shot into little pieces.

The rain was pouring down now, seeping through his thick outer layers. The cold clamminess didn't bother him. He heard the retorts of the shotgun stop.

Time to leave. Dropping a handful of primed grenades into the stairwell, he turned to Beard, now with bloodsuckers all around him, tentacles out. By the time they had latched on to his neck, bullets had found their way into the old man's skull. He had no obligations now. Everyone was dead. The rest had escaped into the night. Job done.

Pulling out a shot of adrenaline, he gasped as the needle shot the fluid into his veins. He drew his signature weapons. In his right hand, a Glock machine pistol. In his left, a wickedly sharp sickle. Charging like a bull, hacking and slashing and shooting and clawing and shoving he fought his way free, a mountain of metal and brown Kevlar, covered in dirt and blood and gore. It would take more than this to kill Sickle.


Present Day

Strelok and Degtayrev looked out over the dusk in the swamps. Ahead, as far as the eye could see, dusty grassland gave way to huge beds of reeds, criss-crossed with worn paths. Every so often, ruined buildings jutted out from the murky swampland. A bed of graveyard mist was slowly forming over the damp pools in the distance, slowly drifting south away from the large storm system to the north that obscured the orange glows both of sunset, and the murky red clouds over the block of the NPP far away.

“Are we going to find somewhere to rest or what? It's late Strelok, and I don't particularly feel like doing an all-nighter after that tunnel.”

The other stalker remained silent, scanning with his binoculars.

“There, see that machine shop over there? We'll leave there in four hours and continue. Can't afford to linger.”


“Soldiers, you know the stories of what awaits us. You have all been briefed will the most up to date knowledge the Princesses can provide us. You know the mission Most importantly, you ARE Equestria's best. I have complete faith in every one of you. Together, we will go in there, and we WILL prosper. Are you with me?”




Max looked out from his sniper hide, covered from by branches and camo netting. In the distance, mutant packs circled the concrete slabs, baying and screeching. The base was audible, if not visible, as the klaxon sounding an attack whined softly in the background. From here those slabs almost resemble a stone circle, as if the Zone left them left them jutting and leaning on each other like that, he mused

It was a boring watch for Freedom's master sniper, observing viable targets all day and barely being able to take a shot. As the hours passed, mutants came and went, fleshes and dogs and snorks and boars, all going crazy and kicking up a fuss. It's worse than a fucking occupy protest, they're dirtier, louder, smellier, more dangerous, more annoying and so much more bloody effective. They've had us holed up for over a week now.

As his mind wandered, a Burer came into sight, hunched and shuffling. A prime target. Almost absentmindedly Max took aim and let off a shot, blasting it's remains across the countryside. Well, I couldn't do that back in the day. The good old SVU was better, but really, what beats a Gauss gun eh?. The blue flash had set the mutants off again, causing them to riot like before. He sighed.

He was the probably the only person in the Zone with a Gauss gun, at least in the known areas. He was one of the best snipers too. There wasn't anyone else in Freedom that could do this, realistically. He was stuck on this post from now till eternity. Slumping down in his makeshift hut of leaves, he dozed, watching the goings-on in the distance with bleary eyes.


Battle Born and his century of Elite Guards charged through the portal, spears raised to meet upcoming threats. As the blue, swirling sheet of magical energy enveloped them, they vanished from sight and sound.


Max shot into alertness. Bright blue flashes, dazzling and searing his retinas burst into existence on the hills above the mutants. Turning away in shock, he rubbed the bright afterimages like fireworks from his eyes, Taking a careful look, he was dazzled again, as more and more burst out, silhouetting strange shapes emerging from them. The fuck?

As the light show faded away, what looked like horde of oddly shaped mutants ran in rows down the hill, into the fleshes and boars at the bottom, inside the concrete ring. With amazement he stared as they clashed in the distance, flailing and striking each other, a look of sheer puzzlement on his face. As the new mutants began to win over, something struck him: they weren't a disorganised bestial rabble; they moved with purpose, lashing out with sticks, helping each other. He grabbed his rifle, and aimed through the scope.

They wore armour, medieval armour; they were carrying forged spears, not sticks; they appeared to be shouting at each other, as one in gold plating at the front seemed to shout orders; they even had what were unmistakably gas masks attached to their sides. They looked like an army of fucking horses from the dark ages.

Max dropped his rifle, and sprinted to the radio in his kitbag.

“This is Max, we have a mutant army out here, armed and dangerous. I repeat, an actual mutant army, with spears and armour and whatever other devilry. I have no idea where they are headed, but they are definitely intelligent and able to communicate. They look a bit like horses, with metal plate armour and spears, held by levitation like a Burer's.”

”Say what Max? Did I hear you right? An army? Horses?”

“That’s right, and they just took out half of our mutant problems. Looked like they took quite a few casualties, plenty of wounded.”

There was a short pause of static.

”Get back to base immediately, it's getting dark and I need the whole story on this. Lukash out.”


It was a bright night at least, the swamps basked in the pleasant silver shine of the full moon above. The two stalkers trekked through it's damp paths, winding and twisting between irradiated pools. Each footstep led them deeper and deeper into the maze. Sometimes there were rotting wooden bridges over crossings, but half had fallen into the water already.

“Strelok, you said that Guide told you this place was deserted?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Then how come there are bridges and old campfires in all the ruined settlements we've passed?”

“He said that he thought the place was never settled, but I'm guessing he didn't try too hard to find out. This place is a dump. Whoever lived here obviously died a long time ago. They won't bother us now.”

In the distance the land rose up out of the water, peaking at a railway embankment. On the ridge, a dilapidated train lay wrecked on the rusted lines. Strelok pointed at it.

“See that? That's the edge of this place. Whatever secrets this dark place holds, it can keep them. Our mission is too important.”


Commander Battle Born sat shocked on the cold earth, surrounded by corpses of both ponies and mutants. Blood pooled and trickled from all of them. Spears and helmets lay scattered everywhere. Some of his guards still combed the area, looking for survivors. At least half of his century had died, and he had maybe fifteen wounded. Things weren't looking good for him. He stood, looking over the survivors.

“Soldiers collect any wounded and rally on me. It is time to move.

There is no shelter in the nearby area, and as we have seen this is not a forbidding place. You have done Equestria proud in your efforts, and it is fitting for most of you to return to safety. I will open up the portal for you to transport the wounded through, and report back to General Armour. All I ask is that a handful of you stay here, with me, to continue to scout the area and locate a safe forward base for the regular military.”

More than half of the standing ponies lifted hooves, even some of the injured. He assessed them; half had bags under their eyes from the alien darkness, others were shocked or exhausted. Selecting the least worn down, he drew in a deep breath, exhaling as he felt his magic channel up through his horn, flowing into the air around him. The blue portal cascaded down through the air like a sheet, casting off an ethereal glow.

The majority headed for it, supporting wounded comrades or carrying the dead. Battle Born watched it with impassion. Far, far too many had died today. It was like an exodus, and more than one trip was needed to carry everything unneeded back. Eventually, only the half dozen he'd picked remained, standing resolute among the carnage. With a groan he let the spell dissipate.

“I'm not going to lie to you, things here are far worse than we'd imagined. You probably realize that already. We have a duty to the Princesses to finish what we came for. Once we've got shelter, I'll tell you why we're here.”


Strelok pushed through the reed-beds, as he had done constantly for the last hour. They were seemingly endless, twisting and turning. The railway line far away looked no nearer than an this morning. Every sight was always the same, the mottled brown earth and reeds. So was the smell. The depths stank of rotten matter and shit. As the end of this particular thicket led towards a brick chimney, he wasn't quite as bemused with the situation as normal.

Brushing past the last of the reeds, with Degtayrev close behind, he emerged to the burnt out shell of a building, smashed and raised to the ground. The only feature worth noting was the corpse kneeling face-down against the wall. Like the body from the tunnel, it wore flecktan blue camouflage and a bulletproof vest, scuffed and dirty, ripped in places. But not old. The flesh was still there, by the look of the gloved hands. A helmet hid the rest of the head.

Strelok looked away and took in the sights as Degtayrev went to loot the body. Trying not to absorb the wretched smell, he wandered around the small sapling sprouting from the rubble of the little building, just like so many other structures in the Zone being reclaimed by Mother Nature. It brought back faint memories, of years previously, an old man warning him, always not to go north, an artifact, a photo: Chernobyl. Doctor had said... yes, that was the old hunter's name... it would be the end of him.

Well, it had been, hadn't it?

Not much of the ambitious talented stalker had left in that death truck. The Zone had stolen his very soul. Sometimes he just felt like a shell of bitterness and hate...

A low groan brought his mind back to the present, swiftly followed by a gunshot. Crows flew out from the reeds all around. A murder of crows. Degtayrev ran out a few seconds later.

“The fucker was a sleeping zombie; I just put him out of his misery.”

Strelok looked back at the circling birds as Alexander went back to scavenging. He didn't believe in bad omens. Carrion birds were the only ones that survived in the Zone. They just flew overhead and screamed and squarked and crowed.

“Waaak raven, waaak raven, circling above the grave.” He mused

They still flew, kicking up a fuss, refusing to land. The reeds swayed gently in the wind, echoing the harsh calls with their soft whisper.

Strelok was still lost in thought as the first one emerged from the misty swamps, murmuring and groaning. Alex saw it first, shooting through the forehead with his handgun like the previous zombie. His mind quickly jumped into gear as a second zombie shambled out from the reeds, brandishing a shotgun. Leaping forward, he knocked the gun from it's hands, shoving it backwards until it received a knife to the jugular. Before it had hit the ground, another pair had arrived, more alert than the previous one.

“We're surrounded, they're everywhere! Run!”

Degtayrev's shouts and gunshots started the adrenaline rush. Zombified were coming in ever greater numbers into the clearing, brought by the sounds of combat. Clicking off the safety of his AK, he opened fire on the nearest, dropping them like pop-up targets on a range, blasting heads from shoulders and radiation--addled brains from skulls. He saw his friend gesticulate, then sprint into the cover of the rubble to avoid the wild gunfire of the zombies errupting on the other side of the building.

Retreating inside, he swore. They were truly everywhere, closing in like a noose. He saw Degtayrev applying a bandage to a bleeding arm with gritted teeth.

“Bastards shot me, nothing I can't handle.”

Strelok popped his body back out from the ruins, dropping more of the zombies during their temporary confusion over the disappearance of their prey. Gunshots answered his own, ricocheting and glancing off of brickwork and burying through rotten wooded beams. He ducked back down, fumbling with a grenade, tossing it out behind him. The bone-shaking thump shook clouds of dust up around him, as a stray limb, severed from it's owner, impacted onto the wall beside him. Degtayrev was hunched down too, holding a bleeding arm tight to his chest and firing his handgun one-handed through a gap in the bricks.

They shared a look. Looking back over, more zombies were approaching from the south west, more than before. They were slowly homing in on the pair's hiding spot. Strelok held up three fingers as he detached his silencer and fitted a new, enlarged magazine. He dropped one, tensing his legs. He dropped another, pulling down his visor over his face. He lowered the final finger.

With a roar, he vaulted the wall in one swift motion, swing his legs over into an approaching zombie's chest, knocking it down. He emptied his magazine into the nearest targets before the horde could react, staggering them with bullet impacts. Over a hundred were there, gormless anger on their faces. The crows ahead were screaming a cacophony in accompaniment to their groans. Flinging away his rifle, he sprinted into the opening in the reeds behind Alexander as shots whistled past his ears. Hunched, unable to see for muddy water and reeds, he ran blind, twisting and turning. A stray bullet slammed into his back, knocking him to his hands and knees.

Splashing in the water, he scrambled to his feet, clawing at the air, stumbling back to his feet. Each frantic step was agony, the wet burning of the wound in his back wrenching his muscles. His heart hammered in his chest. He ran, and ran, and kept on running, even when the edges of his vision started to blur.

Author's Note:

That took too long to write, even with many exams and making an album of my horrible amateur bass music: http://soundcloud.com/rostok.

Also, shit hitting fans as per normal.
Still, next one's on the way :D