• Published 8th Dec 2012
  • 4,828 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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1: Into Equestria

Equestria, 3 Years after the defeat of Nightmare Moon, Deep in the Everfree Forest

Hiker awoke. A blue sky filled his eyes, ringed with tall green trees. Everything looked peaceful. He lay on his back, savouring the welcome rest after his ordeal in the Red Forest. The air felt cleaner here, invigorating his body. He knew instinctively that he was safe.

Sitting up, resting on his sack, he pulled out his PDA. All it showed was static. He pressed some buttons, causing it to fizz and hum, apparently completely fried by the Space Anomaly. Gathering his thoughts, he looked around him, trying to spot a landmark. He saw nothing he recognised. No NPP, no towering antennae from the old Brain Scorcher facility on the horizon. Both were a few kilometers away, and both were a constant sight near the center of the Zone. Where the hell had Forester's anomaly led him?

He went through his supplies. Bread, sausage and vodka, check. Shotgun shells, check. Medical supplies and anti-rad meds, check. Two boxes of 5.45x39 ammo, check. PDA, check. Two clips for his USP, check. Sleeping bag, check. Spare vest and boxers, check. Compass, check. Wrenched, Moonlight and Gravi artifacts, check. 2 F1 grenades, check. Veles detector, check. He had enough kit to last a few days at least, though his AK would be sorely missed. With only a handgun and a sawn-off pump action, he would be screwed beyond belief in a firefight. That didn't seem to be a problem, thankfully. He wasn't even sure if it really was the Zone. The inbuilt Geiger counter in his Veles read less than 8 counts. He had had bigger readings in Sidorovich's bunker. Readings that low were impossible in the Zone. That was the final proof. He wasn't in the Zone. He was in pine forest, somewhere, possibly anywhere in the entire bloody world. It was sunny. That was the extent of his knowledge. He screamed in frustration at this place, his life, the Zone, at the Forester, at the anomaly that took him here, fuming violently, until his profanity filled rant slowly came to an end. He was powerless, manipulated by cruel fate. His tired and depressed mind came up with the only solution. All he could do is to walk and hope not to starve out here.

Hours passed in the forest. The trees grew twisted and gnarled, not unlike those of the Zone. What he would give to be back there, in his element. It was a long-standing paradox, why stalkers remained in the man-made hell of the Zone. Surely no sane man would choose to live in such a place. Yet still, all those who could survive in the Zone were always drawn back to it, like flies to honey. It was the thrill of complete freedom, no dull drudgery, no boredom, no normal life. A stalker's life was full of adrenaline and wonders, of loneliness and misery, of death and horror, mixed together in the maelstrom of madness that is the Zone.

He felt out of place in this comparatively idyllic forest, full of strange plants and trees. many vaguely familiar, but none he truly recognised. As the strange sights passed his eyes, the reality began to sink in how far from his deadly home he was. Everything just looked so alien, so different, that he felt his longing for the irradiated wastes return as strong as ever. Until his was reverie interrupted by the strange hut standing in front of him. It seemed to be made from the same twisted wood as the trees around him, it cast an odd sight, adorned with almost-African tribal masks and totems. Walking round it, he realised that it was gown, not made, a carved out tree, not a wood-clad hut. His whole journey so far since the anomaly could be summed up by the words “What the fuck.” Entering through the door, at least 3 feet too short for him, he found himself in a spacious, low-roofed room, complete with iron stove, odd voodoo masks, strange herbs and bottles of even stranger liquids, a chair and tables sized perfectly for children, and what looked for all the world like a chemistry set.

Settling himself into the deserted tree-house, he prepared for a night in this alien place. He lay against a wall in his sleeping bag, watching the calming patterns of his Moonlight artifact glow in fading evening light, like a soft blue sun, shifting and swirling. He was careful to keep the Wrenched next to him to cleanse the deadly powerful radiation given off by the beautiful blue Moonlight. Removing it back into the foil-wrapped bag he kept it in, he lay there, at peace for once in his life, no longer on the run, or in danger of death. He began to doze off in his warm sleeping bag...

__________

“ “AAAGGGHHHH!”

For once in his life, he was woken by a girly scream from next to him. Slamming upright, he fumbled for his USP and held it shakily at the 'thing' standing before it. For all the world, it looked like a small, mutated Zebra with a bulbous head and large eyes, with pupils dilated in shock at obviously seeing him sleeping its house. It was wearing all sorts trinkets and charms, looking for all the world like some strange shaman. As the adrenaline started to get to work hurrying his thought processes, he wondered how a small mutated Zebra would have a house, not only furnished, but also complete with herbal drug factory.

His mind collapsed. All he had seen, all the people he had watched die, all those he killed, all the times he had escaped death himself, all the nature defying sights of the Zone, all the time spent in the brain-frying psy-emissions, all of that, and now this fantasy stuff he was witnessing right now sent him over the edge. What could he do? The world he lived in was beyond crazy, all he wanted was escape from it all. He raised the gun to his mouth, finger on the trigger...

“Who are you, strange creature in my abode, carrying such a strange load-”

In shock at watching speak , he pulled the trigger, firing the high-calibre .45 round through his cheek, blasting apart his jaw. All he made out through haze of pain, before blood loss took him, was the Zebra, a shocked and concerned look on her face, forcing a cold liquid down his throat, holding bandages to his ruined face.

__________

His eyes opened. The ceiling before him was white. Looking to the side, he saw a machine bleeping away, next to the bed he was in. Surrounding the bed were light green curtains. He was in a hospital. How? Was everything a dream? The mysterious Space Anomaly? But there were no hospitals anywhere near the Zone...

How was it possible? Lifting up his hand weakly, he touched his face. Everything felt numb and smooth, until he found a stitch over a large scar, and another, and another. Then what if it was real, with the taking mutant, and the strange hut? How was that possible? He didn't know what to think. He barely had the energy to move, let alone see what was happening. Thankfully someone had saved him. He should be dead, he knew it

Delving deep into the soft bed, the first he had slept in for months, he continued his observation of the room. All his kit, weapons, SEVA suit and rucksack included, were missing. That wasn't surprising. However, his legs were tucked up, resting at the bottom edge of the bed. Why was it so short? Putting that matter to one side, he looked back at the strange machine bleeping his pulse, with lights on and off for all sorts of readings and displays. It had a glowing antennae atop it. The only things he recognised were several small buttons marked 'On/Off', 'Call Nurse' and 'Calibrate for Patient'. He slowly pushed 'Call Nurse'. The machine bleeped in approval. Hopefully he would get some answers for his many questions. Hearing hurried footsteps and chatter, he looked up, watching the nurse enter through the curtains.

It was another one of those things. This time though, it was white all over, with red hair, a unicorn horn on it's head and a nurse's uniform. If he wasn't so shocked and scared, he would have laughed at the strange-looking thing stood before him, that bore most resemblance to some equine creature.

“What...” he croaked out through his mutilated face and mouth.

“You speak?” The creature looked just as shocked and puzzled as he felt. “I... umm, am Nurse Redheart. Is there anything you.... want or need?” Hiker coughed and choked, trying to get out a word, as the nurse continued. “Well, we managed to fix your jaw and cheek, though you've now got yourself a large scar. Serves you right for playing with that firework device you had. After Doctor Splint finished regenerating the tissues, we had to use stitches I'm afraid. Even these modern wound regeneration spells can only do so much. Your forehoof-, wait, er, arm, ah that's it! We patched up your arm, and thankfully that we could fully repair. There isn't even a scar. Now you just have the normal full body repair incantations to fix up all those nasty cuts and bruises.”

He didn't know what to say, even if he could. A unicorn had lectured him on how he was being fixed with spells. That hurt just thinking about, even the mysteries Zone made more sense. He just sat there staring and breathing heavily.

“Tell you what, I'll just give you some more painkiller, and let you sleep it all off...”

It's horn glowed, and the antennae shined brighter than before. As he sat, completely stumped by all that had happened, he felt the painkillers start to sedate him, make him feel sleepy....

When Hiker woke, his eyes were met by soft candlelight glowing across his bed. Just by stretching and moving, he felt better, though a dull ache filled his mouth. Going over what he remembered of what the thing said. Apparently he was healed with magic, a fact confirmed by that the strange antennae on the machine next to him was still glowing. Flexing his arms, he lifted his left up to assess his wound. Nothing. True to its word, the thing was right that there wasn't even a scar. He could barely make out any sign of the bullet wound, unless this was one long hallucination. Sighing, he had to decide what to do next. The presence of the candle obviously meant that it was night-time, and he would have to retrieve his gear if he wanted to escape this fantastical world. The problem was that he had no idea how to return to the location of the anomaly to escape.

He decided to act. Pushing the 'Off' button, he slipped out of the bed onto his feet, still slightly sore from the kilometers of walking in the last few days. It was only then he realised he was stark naked.


“Fuck.”


The creatures had apparently nothing to fit something of his shape, and the nurse-thing wasn't exactly wearing much. This could make things awkward. He slowly peered through a gap in the curtains around his bed. He was in an otherwise dark empty room, with a door at least 2 feet too short for him on the opposite side. Pushing through, he padded silently up to the door. Pressing his ears up to it, he listened.

“Clack clack. Clack clack clack clack clack...”

He peered down through the observation window, watching another unicorn, wearing a doctor's lab coat, walk by. Following it along, it disappeared into another, lit up, room. Carefully pushing the door ajar, he slipped out, keeping an eye on the room the doctor entered. Quickly making his way along the corridor, he turned into another, looking for signs. None were helpful, just wards with horse-pun names. Crossing the hall, to a window, he saw the ground a way below him, too far to jump. Wandering further, keeping silent, he saw a sign for the stairs. Walking into the stairwell, lit with small, blue-flamed torches, he went down and down, looking at the signs for each floor: “Magical Ailments”, “Royal Princess Wards”, “Operating Theatre”, “Reception, A&E and Storerooms”. Storerooms, that was what he needed. Looking through the window in the small door however, it was clear this whole floor was lit, and he could hear something muttering in the distance, in the direction of the Reception. Pushing through, he walked quickly along the back corridors, avoiding the reception, following the signs for the stores. Rounding the corner, he saw one of the creatures, walking towards the storeroom entrance, thankfully facing the opposite direction. Watching move to enter, he saw it draw out keys.

“Damn, keys, I can never remember which one of you opens what.”

Something felt amiss, as if the sight was trying to tell him something. Suddenly, it dawned on him that the door would lock him out, and his things in. That would not be good. Clambering forward on all fours, as quietly as possible, he drew up behind the tired thing, his sounds hidden by the jangling of it's key in the lock. Seeing his only chance, he clasped his arm round its neck, covering its muzzle with his other. Wrenching and pulling, he writhed as the shocked thing struggled in his grasp, resisting his attack. In silence he fought it, trying to control it's surprising strength. With a wrench, it broke free for a second, managing a small cry before Hiker clamped back on, twisted with all his might, snapping it's neck. Pulling it inside the unlocked door, he dumped the corpse in a corner, hurrying to find what he needed before one of the creatures noticed it's disappearance. Searching through shelves of strangely shaped clothes and various miscellaneous items, he found what he wanted: his SEVA suit, USP, shotgun and rucksack, left in a big metal deposit box in a corner.

Suiting up, he grabbed his sack, digging out a silencer to fit his USP and screwed it on. Slinging his pack onto his back, and strapping his shotgun to his thigh, he was set, Holding his pistol ready in front of him, he crept back to the doorway, taking care to leave the mutant's corpse out of sight. Almost everything had gone as planned, apart from one thing. His getaway. The red light of dawn was shining through the windows, showing a town outside surrounding the hospital, starting to wake up.

Surely they must have noticed his absence by now, and it would only be so long before they found him if he stayed. Checking that nothing was watching, he pulled out his shotgun, and swung it by the barrel smashing through a window. The SMASH of the glass shattering destroyed the calm of the early morning town, resonating through the widely spaced houses that resembled something out of a fantasy novel in their appearance. That would surely have woken them all up now.

Shaking the shards of glass from him, he vaulted through the wide-open window, and sprinted through the back alleys, passing all sorts of strange and wonderful buildings, thanking the weight reducing effects of the Gravi in his webbing with every step. The winding streets led him on and on, as he ran for his life through the idyllic fantasy village, puffing and gasping through gritted teeth for air. As he began to slow, he heard the clamour of the mutants waking to investigate more and more, converging on him. The hospital was some way away now, and ahead of him he could see a tall, majestic oak poking above the rooftops. He was close to freedom. As he passed an opening into a large high street to his left, he turned, and saw-

“HEY, WHERE D'YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING!”

A tan mutant, wearing an out-of-place cowboy hat, hurling a lasso at him. This world was getting stranger by the minute. It wrapped snugly round his head and arm, slamming him into the floor. Winded, yet still thrumming with adrenaline, he ripped out his pistol, and fired wildly. Most of the shots went wide, he wasn't a crack-shot at the best of times, yet one still found it's mark, the high calibre round impacting in its shoulder, knocking it to the ground.



Breathing heavily, he fumbled with the ropes as he scrambled up, trying desperately to escape. Looking back, he saw a large book, enveloped by a purple-pink glow, fly through the air at his head, slamming his vision into darkness once more.