• Published 8th Dec 2012
  • 4,898 Views, 167 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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2: Findings

One Week Ago

Hog knew his group was a rag-tag bunch. Not one was a capable fighter. They had all died on the Skadovsk. What he did have however were the VIPs of the northern zone, those too valuable to leave to be eaten alive. Nimble, Cardan and Nitro he got on with best. Those three were inseparable now, all obsessed with the trade in rare custom kit that they were lynchpins of. Thanks to Nitro, his Sig 550 actually hit where the sights pointed, more often than not, and sported a bulky underslung grenade launcher.

Owl and Pilot both preferred solitude, keeping themselves to themselves. Pilot he didn't mind; when he wasn't truculent, he gave directions and got them round the multitude of anomaly fields faster than any of them could. Owl on the other hand was the nastiest piece of work he'd ever met. The scumbag would happily slit someone's throat if it kept his ever-precious secrets He had half a mind to abandon all his discipline and shoot him on the spot.

The girls though, they were the ones he had to look out for. The black one, called some strange unpronounceable foreign name, had a level head on her, always erring on the side of caution and slowly learning the unwritten rules that meant life or death in the zone. The purple one with the horn, Twilight, wasn't coping quite so well. She had a blank stare, and had asked fewer and fewer questions after she'd realised that they'd left a dozen people to die horribly just so they themselves could escape.

On the horizon, a red sun blinked above the hills, as golden sunlight crept across the land. An amazingly beautiful dawn, if he ever saw one. He slung his rifle over his shoulder and basked in the clear sunshine. The gods must be smiling upon them, a day clear of the emission clouds. He smiled for the first time in over a month.

=

Present Day

“So, my few stallions left, it falls to us to carry out the Princess' instructions. Her orders were to scout this world to find to hopefully find the bearers and find any way to prevent the aliens gaining access to any portals that might form naturally in this strange place.

Any of these 'humans' finding their way into Equestria would be disastrous, so as far as I can tell the long term plan is to make sure that that cannot happen, whether through diplomacy or not, I don't know. Apparently we cannot rely on hoping our presence being overlooked, even if we tried to conceal it.

To be honest with you, given her limited instructions, I think we're here on damage control rather than any hope of success.”

=

Strelok emerged onto the railway bank exhausted and tattered in mind and body. He'd not had any sign of Degtayrev since the attack, about an hour ago, and storm clouds were starting to rumble in on the horizon ahead of him, collecting in the natural bowl of hills around the Agroprom Research Institute. Looking back at the swamps, the ruined homestead still swarmed with zombies, though the telltale shaking of reeds was heading ever further north towards him.

Heading up the railway itself, he dug through his bag and produced a spray can. Shaking it loudly, he carefully spelled out his message in large yellow letters on the side of the nearest train car: “GONE NORTH. SEE YOU AT YANTAR BUNKER. S”. Dropping the can back into it's place, he walked along to the large gap between carriages, his PDA showing a Stash location. Looking underneath the wheels, he saw the outline of vodka bottles and a box of shotgun shells. Nothing much worthwhile.

As he crossed the tracks, something caught his eye, a long, sleek black shape. A lightweight, stripped down VSS sniper rifle lay there, looking very much worse for wear, with a cracked scope and lichen-covered wooden stock. He needed a replacement for his AK74, and this could fit the bill nicely. Tossing away the broken scope, he turned his attention to the stock, scraping the dirt and lichen from it, revealing a single word carved neatly into each side: SCAR. Interesting.

=

Yar looked out over another grey Pripyat day. Pottering around his safehouse, he tidied up old cans, packed all his cutlery and vodka and collected up the map sprawling over a nearby table. He had to leave, his food was running out, and the city itself was barren of all supplies now, the last tins in the department store were all pierced from gunfire and rotten. Slinging his pack and rifle over his bag, and lacing up his boots, he headed for the stairs, quickly heading down the multiple flights of stairs, over his barricades and traps. Turing off at the first floor, he headed for a window, and jumped down onto the top of an old lorry.

Jumping down again, he took up his SVD, gripping it tightly. His only lead on the Monolith was this mysterious figure 'Charon', their supposed commander. His note suggested a hideout, somewhere they could escape the clutches of the Zone. He wracked his brains. Somewhere out of touch with the Zone's powers, yet still inside the wider military exclusion area presumably. Several came to mind: the Dead City; the deep, sinister forests beyond the Dark Valley; perhaps the swamps. He dismissed all of them, Dead City was a stronghold of Renegades and Mercs, the forest was unexplored due to it being one of the many places that stalkers never returned from, the swamps too distant.

It was all idle speculation anyway. The only real plan he had was to search for more clues. He needed to visit more Monolith outposts. He started the long walk north, deeper into the shadow of the ever thickening grey-brown clouds.

=

He arrived at the old port as rain began to fall. Pulling up his hood and goggles, he hunched his back against the wind and water, sprinting for the cover of the port buildings. Taking off his wet coat, he left hanging to dry and ventured inside. Skeletons lay around here and there, their Monolith suits often ripped and torn where the mutants had tried to eat them. If you looked closely, the bullet fragments occasionally lay under their bones. Wandering further in, he came across various bits of stalker paraphernalia: nothing of interest. Heading up the ladder to the upper floor, he found another corpse lying against a wall. It was a veteran in an exoskeleton, it's combat shotgun still in it's dead hands. Pushing past it, he saw precisely what he wanted. A map was pinned to a nearby wall, but no ordinary map. Most stalker paper maps showed from the Cordon to Southern Pripyat, and from the Dark Valley to the Yantar east-west. But this, this was a map of Monolith territory.

Pulling it down, he sat in silence, poring over the valuable document as the rain drizzled outside. There were places on here he had only dreamt of visiting. The Army Warehouses was at the bottom, with the Radar and Red Forest above. Then came Pripyat, all areas of the city fully mapped, even with marked building labels. Above that was the crown jewel, Chernobyl NPP. Seeing the plan of the power plant in detail was an astounding thing, with radiation spots too dangerous for even the near-immune Monolithians marked, and a small arrow pointing into the main shell marked “Sarcophagus”.

The rest of the map was something entirely new however. All of it showed Monolith base locations, and some of these markers cropped up in places he'd never heard of before, like Limansk and ‘Hospital, to the west. Alarmingly, to the north lay a place marked “Generators – Avoid, V. Dangerous”. He looked closer, trying to discern why, as a loud rustle came from the bushes.

With a start he sat up and dropped the map, reaching for his SVD. Something was snorting and snuffling around down below, outside the building. Footsteps echoed on hard concrete, partly masked by the soft patter of the rain. They sounded like a man's, but the loud, wet snorts emanating from downstairs were anything but. Suddenly, the ladder jerked. It was climbing.

Yar silently placed his rifle on the floor, reaching across for the bulky shotgun in the hands of the dead Monolithian. He tested it's weight, heavy enough to be loaded. The ladder rhythmically vibrated as the beast ascended each rung. Cocking it, a shell slid into the chamber with a satisfying click. The ladder jerked violently, slipping from side to side as the thing bellowed up through the opening. It's head appeared for a millisecond, anger covering it's monstrous visage, before Yar held down the trigger, unleashing shotgun shells into it on full auto. Red fluid spattered all over the wall as the body hit the floor with a thud.

Yar looked down at the corpse. A bloodsucker at least; thankfully not the Headhunter itself. Outside, bushes moved in the distance, and soft calls echoed around the empty tower blocks. Snatching up the map in one hand and his sniper rifle in the other, he slid down the ladder, and sprinted for his drying coat, slinging it on. He dashed off northwards, his back to the setting sun.

=

An Aside

Zone Folklore: On the NPP

“Some years ago I met this stalker, huge fellow, must have been 6ft 5 at least, made bigger by his exoskeleton. He had a lisp too, poor guy, he seemed so shy. So, this guy said to me that he'd been to the NPP at the bar one night after a long conversation about artifacts. None of us believed him, obviously, there's the Brain Scorcher to get through, let alone the legion of Monolithians. Now, this guy says nothing, and pulls out a photo of the NPP, all ruined and damaged like it is, nothing special there. But then he points out that the guy who took it, who was holding up his rad detector in the foreground showing some crazy reading, had a watch on facing the camera, with the date.

And, like he said, the gloved hand with the watch was his hand, and the date on the watch was not even two weeks previous. The whole bar went silent at that. The Barman even turned off the music so we could hear his tales. He'd said that he'd been part of a trio that had gotten past the Scorcher, he refused to say how, and had done the whole shebang. He’d reached the NPP and he'd made it inside the fucking thing.

Now, other than saying they'd been stopped by a locked door and had found this strange machine that he thought might be the Monolith, he stayed silent about the innards of the structure. But now, get this, the outside, the outbuildings and courtyards were some crazy shit from what he'd said. The radiation levels there were so high that the anomalies were massive, like two or three meters across, and you got loads of strange effects.

He said there were these “ghost creatures” that ran after you, leaping at you and disappearing in a puff of smoke that made you giddy, and patches of air that glowed and swirled like whirlpools, where things could walk in one and appear out of another. His tale of a firefight with a Monolith squad in the ruins while avoiding all this was gripping stuff. Apparently they would use these to pop out of nowhere, and ambush him. He had pictures to prove most of it as well.

On the way out, since he was the combat expert of his little group, and slower than the rest because of his exo, he lagged behind and explored a bit further around the north side. As he wandered round the grounds of the NPP, he realized that the Monolith units harrying him didn't follow him up into the northern area of the plant, they just hung back and took potshots from out of range, setting up a line of defense with snipers. They were too afraid of him!

So this guy, he presses on, and things seem fairly fine and dandy. But then he says he started coming across weird mutants that he'd never seen before, like big, hulking controllers with claws that made him feel like he was tripping on acid whenever he got too near. Needless to say, he scarpered after that, but not before he'd seen the gateway leading out on the other side of the NPP. The other side of the NPP, imagine that! He says he didn't get a good look, but all he saw was this forest, brown all over, cos the trees had died, and their branches had grown outwards like wooden tentacles making this crazy twisted canopy. Underneath there were these Zombies, not the braindead stalkers we've all seen, but decaying stalkers with holes in them and missing limbs that were still walking, heading South towards the sounds of gunfire. The only thing visible other than that were these huge domes sticking out in the distance above the trees that looked like they were sucking in lightning from the stormy sky.”

=

Inside the Agroprom Research Institute

Lightning struck the tall chimney stack in the middle of the decrepit industrial complex, illuminating the torrential downpour soaking Strelok to the skin. He dashed from shelter to shelter, counting the seconds between lightning and thunder. The rain wasn't a good sign, it made his Geiger counter tick whenever he was exposed to it. The irradiated water must come from an emission cloud. Thank whatever gods looked upon this godforsaken place that the epicenter was still a few miles away.

Sitting in the shelter of the main building, he stared at his PDA, waiting numbly for signals from Degtayrev. He wouldn't do well out in this storm, the Agroprom complexes were the only decent shelter for a few miles, and the swamps were treacherous at the best of times. The flashes outside were getting redder and redder. He slowly stood up and wandered over to the large shuttered opening, testing it's weight. With a groan, he pulled with all his might, dragging it across 25 year old rollers to close of most of the gap. He poked his small campfire, and pulled himself into his sleeping bag, cutting out the rumbling and shaking and headaches as the emission rolled past.

=

His head snapped to one side, resonating with the sound of a perfect bitch-slap. In alarm and surprise he whipped out his knife in front of him, to see Alexander leap back with a grin on his face.

“Wake up, sleepyhead. Time to get going for the day.”

“Wha- how?” He asked groggily.

“Emergency anabiotics and a railway carriage. Wasn't pretty, but it worked. Anyway, time to get up, at this rate we can reach Yantar before nightfall.”

Author's Note:

So, Oblivion Lost on master is pretty difficult. I hate humanoid mutants so much.