Collington Splatterov (OSS)
Walking across the edge of the plateau I make my way to the crashed helicopter. It is in pretty bad shape but it hasn’t come apart in the collision with the surface. I spot a cave to the SW of the chopper and some snorks are moving about there. I’m very glad it is over 200 metres away: they don’t have very good vision at that distance.
I check the helicopter and find out that it also had evacuation points. These I record in my PDA and start to plot my route back to Skadovsk to plan my next course of action. Another emission alert. I’m sure the cave would be safe but I’m not going anywhere near that with those snorks around. I had seen at least four and that’s too many for me! Noah’s barge will have to be it since those bastard merc’s in the waste processing plant would shoot me on sight just for trying to get out of the way of the blow-out. I dump some gear that is not really in very good condition and start running for Noah’s barge. I make it with a few minutes to spare before the blow-out slays all the creatures and it rains crows again. It’s scary how inured I’m becoming to the after-effects of the emissions. They’re almost a weather-feature of the zone.
The swamps of Zaton are steamy on the way back to Skadovsk. I swing past the barge where I followed Beard’s plan for to backstab Sultan’s guys when they were ambushing Beard’s crew. I pass a classically shaped old speed boat that makes me think of better times and places.
Back on the Skadovsk I sell my surplus and chat to some faces that are becoming familiar. One of them mentions that there’s some weird, even for the zone, lights in the old dredge about 2 kilometres from the Skadovsk. He wants me to check it out for a reward. It had been in the back of my mind to go up that way, northeast of Skadovsk, to look at the boiler anomaly for a day now so I agree. I’m eating and Nimble sends me a message: my sniper rifle is ready to collect. He doesn’t remind me to pay the balance but I check my funds and realise I have enough. I pay the money and he hands me a rebuilt Vintar silenced sniper-rifle. He says it’s a “Tide” custom version already much more accurate than the Vintar because of a heavier return spring and breach block. I’m quietly impressed as I was aiming towards a standard Vintar that Cardan could tune up but didn’t expect to find one for less than 50,000. So 20,000 makes me happy. With my new found accurised Vintar I leave Skadovsk and head towards the boiler anomaly.
I see little on the way but find it quite beautiful, even with the cloudy weather. The boiler is like a heat cracked pustule rising out of the river backwash. Once it was a basin of reeds and rushes now it looks like a small volcano. I circle it with the Bear detector out and see some strong signatures of artifacts. The Sunrise Suit that is my armour holds two artifact contianers. One carries the Wrenched, radiation-absorber, and in the other I put a Crystal from the burnt farmstead to resist some heat. I move carefully amongst the burner anomalies and find a Fireball: a sphere of crystalline material like mottled glass. It is like a Crystal but stronger in effect. I swap this out and retrieve another artifact but get my armour scorched pretty badly. This time it’s a Soul. I find it quite beautiful with its white blue sheen. The Soul will accelerate healing and I use straight away to recover from the minor burns I’ve received. Circling around the anomaly I see a pair of stalkers. One is in front, with a detector, and behind him another is prompting him forward.
“That’s right, keep going.”
A burner erupts almost in the lead stalker’s face.
“See: your suit protects you. Keep going.”
The stalker in the armour advances cautiously. I can see the haze of an artifact in the anomaly and then with a cry a burner hits him solidly and he drops. His companion looks around frantically.
“You’ve got to help him. I don’t have any armour. Here, take this first-aid kit and get him out of there.”
I quickly do so with my new Fireball artifact and when we’re free and he’s recovered, the stalker who was advancing gives me the Fireball he just found. Great! I have two so I can sell one. Got to be worth a few thousand for just one.
After a few minutes of banter I head south towards the dredge. It’s rumoured to be very radioactive so I have only my Wrenched equipped. When I have a second artifact in a container the Wrenched has to absorb the excess radiation. This way the Wrenched only has to absorb the environmental radiation and not that from my other enabled artifact.
It gets dark quickly as I pick my way through gravity anomalies with the Bear and bolts. I detect artifacts and chase them down at the same time as I try to get inside the dredge. The glowing comes from the cabin. When I’m behind the dredge on the hillside I see a curled glowing thing, almost like a glow-worm, that twitches in unseen currents. The Rad-count keeps climbing. I take rad-blockers and still use some rad-recovery before I make it to the cabin. I snatch the thing and bag it in the anti-rad sack that holds all my artifacts. The sudden absence of light and I’m my eyes are playing tricks on me. Now to leave. Some acidic moss like stuff that registers as an anomaly on the Bear is in my way and then I jog through a heavily irradiated corridor to a door. The door opens on the port side of the dredge. I open it and there’s a stalker standing there in jeans and a hiking jacket with the hood up and a balaclava but he doesn’t look like one of Sultan’s miscreants.
“My buddy is dying and that artifact has healing properties. It’s his only hope. Help me save my buddy and give me that artifact.”
It’s too weird, alarm bells go off in my mind and I say I didn’t find anything. He briefly gets angry at me but then composes himself and says, “Keep walking.”
As I do he gets out his Viper-5 and cocks it. I pull my SPSA14 and turn back on him. I hear movement behind me and I duck into the door back to the irradiated corridor. I’m trapped. My only option is to shoot my way out so I lean the SPSA14 out the door and blast the stalker who was waiting for me. Gunfire erupts from the dock and I take out one more. My PDA shows there’s another so I sneak out of the corridor looking for him. A blast from the front of the dredge hits my upgraded armour. I spin and three quick blasts from the SPSA14 finishes the third and final bandit (for that’s what they were).
I run away back to Skadovsk and Beard. For retrieving the artifact Beard gives me 6000 and I feel that it’s not enough. He won’t even acknowledge that I’m talking about it so I drop it and get on my way. Feeling frustrated and a bit angry I find a bed.
3am I’m up and agitated. I’m going to take out those merc’s at the waste processing plant – after I supply the other ones with the food they wanted. As I pack my gear up I hear Owl muttering. That prompts me to remember he had a mission to find out what the merc’s at the waste processing plant were up to. I visit him and take the job for a few thousand. By the time I get to the substation workshops its almost sunrise but there’s plenty of light. The merc’s are happy with the food and let me wander freely. There’s 12 of them setup there. All armed with assault rifles or SPSA14’s. I find an old workbench with some fine tools in it. I have a recollection that Cardan can do some nice upgrades with tools like that so I head back to Skadovsk and ply him with two bottles of vodka and lots of money.
Whilst Cardan is working on Tide and the SPSA14 I check my maps. There’s a bridge that will take me to the elss guarded east entrance to the waste processing plant. I plot a course and when Cardan is finished on my gear pack up and head off.
The bridge is pipeline and road. A huge concrete arch span that has partially collapsed where vehicles have driven over it. The vehicles aren’t that old compared to the wrecks about the zone and I think that they must’ve been here in the weather for only a few weeks. As I stat onto the bridge my anomaly detector starts beeping. With Bear and bolts I pick my way across the entire bridge, having to use the stairs underneath, and the rails on top, to traverse it.
The battle at the waste processing station was a blur. In hindsight I must’ve been suicidal because there was 14 merc’s with two in exo-armour. If it wasn’t for an open pipe that I jumped down and then had the good fortune of some 90-degree bends to protect from grenades, I would have been killed. My Soul artifact healed up an arterial bleeder that drenched my side in blood. The last three merc’s were in the main building expecting me to come in from the east. I loaded up the armour-piercing rounds I had for the TRS301 and finished them off. What I found was a laptop and two PDA’s. I read them at the time but now I’m back on Skadovsk and I’ve already sold them to Owl for a total of 6000. Well, I did the mission, searched for tools but only found the gear of the merc’s I murdered. I feel bad. I think I need to be sick.