The evacuees sprinted towards the helicopters. Blades were spinning and the engines were spooling up ready to take off. Automatic fire streamed from west, east and south. Cutting the party like whips on already thrashed dogs. They leapt for cover and tried to advance.
One fell, cut down from a flanking burst, and the others killed his assailant. Obscuring scrub seemed not to hamper the attackers and they fired with accuracy as if guided by a higher power. Another evacuee tumbled to the concrete and his companions abandoned him.
Into the square the fought. The final two. A veteran stalker and an agent of the OSS fighting back to back in the centre of the square. They were within a short sprint of the helicopters when another force of Monolith advanced on them. Concrete planters that were intended to hold the vegetation that grew around them were the pair’s only cover. One fell and the OSS agent was left alone. Bullets hissing past his head and kicking up sharp clouds of fragmented concrete as the Monolith kept firing.
He seemed to prepare himself then leapt up firing and sprinting towards the helicopters. Tracers streaked into his armour, punching through, hitting the man within. He staggered and reached for the helicopter door to be pulled in by the crew. The helicopter door slammed shut and the machine took to the air in a whine of turbofans and chop of rotor-blades.
The crewmen swore angrily at their commanders. They were to rescue five and because of the lack of funding they went in with their guns empty. For the sake of a few hundred roubles they could have provided fire support and saved all the men instead of just lift off with the only one lucky, and armoured, enough to make it into the helicopter.
Cardyan’s missing friends: lost.
All of the men on the Pripyat tunnel mission: lost.
All of the crew of the Stingray mission: lost.
The mysterious client of the mercenaries identity: lost.
All of Strelok’s knowledge: lost.
Another chance to solve the mysteries of the Zone: lost.
And Collington Splatterov? Another man lost to the Zone.