The next day some lone stalker finds the truck and investigates. He gets no money or loot for his trouble. Only you, the last survivor of this mess (from a group that was mostly dead to begin with). You're taken to a crotchety old guy with poor table manners who checks your pockets for loose change (as though the other stalker wouldn't have done it already) and finds only your PDA, which you're reluctant to part with. It carries the instruction "Kill The Strelok". Presumably that's "Kill Strelok" in babelfishese. And there you/I am deposited in the game. Watch it here on youtube if you like.
Meet Sidorovich. He's the local trader and, in fact, the only trader for miles and miles. Sid here, as he explains, is the guy who saved you. So now he wants a favour: a guy by the name of Nimble is carrying some important information meant for Sid. But he's gone missing. I'm to go find him, first by talking to Wolf at the camp up top.
Sid gives me some starting gear and so, into the Zone we go.
This is the rookie camp, a small clutch of derelict houses where all the newbs hang out. Some guys hang out by the fire telling tales and playing tunes. Others can be found napping in the buildings. Some are more conversational than others and they'll sell you stuff and buy things from you if they have the money. Which they don't. It's not exactly the comforts of home, this place, but it's miraculously free of anomalies so I can see the appeal. There's also these coal cellar/air raid shelter things which are probably good for locking yourself in should the need arise.
Wolf stands by one of them. He's pretty chilled guy with a much better gun than everyone else (perhaps that's why the coolness) and he seems to be standing watch over all these new adventurers like me. I'd like him a lot better if he came to rescue Nimble with me, but whatever.
I take his job and he gets on his squawk box and let's some guys up the road know that I'm coming. There's one thing I'll always do before I go and that's grab the secret body armour suit from the attic of the last house on the left (honestly, that's where it is, not some inexplicable film reference). The basic parka gives next to no protection as it is. With realistic weapons I might as well be nude. Actually, if I were nude the enemy might be too distracted to fire.
So, off into Cordon. To the south is the Army checkpoint that gives the place its name. The Army guys don't like stalkers one little bit, so I want to go north. North to bolt throwing fun. Anomalies are invisible with this mod, so once you hear them the only way to pinpoint them is throw a bolt and set them off (then give them a wide berth, hopefully not right into another one). It means, in essence, that in unfamilar territory you can go as fast as you can throw bolts in front of you. Which isn't very fast.
A short distance up the road, by an old rail car and some bits of concrete, you can usually hear cries for help.
This is Tolik. He was with Nimble when the bandits attacked. He's here, lying on the ground initially, to teach stalkers how to play nice with others. Pick up the nearby first aid kit and give it to him and he'll be right as rain and your best chum. I could keep the medkit for myself, but I'm not that desperate.
You can stay and hear (at length!) about his adventures and fears, but I feel like moving right along.
(You get buzzed by the Army chopper at this point as well. They chuckle over the radio at us standing there. I've never looked up what it is that they say, but probably something about being gay. Army guys are the same all over).
I'm heading up the small hill on the other side of the road to where Wolf's chums are waiting.
Petruha and his couple of random friends (hiding on the left) wave me over and give me the skinny. Down the hill is an old Garage complex (they insist on calling it the 'Car Park' when it's clearly more specialised than that. So I'm calling it the Garage). A group of bandits have set up in there and that's where they're holdling Nimble hostage. Four of us and maybe eight of them. Seems fair. I haven't actually tried out this particular realistic weapons mod, but it should mean my worst-of-all-possible-pistols can still pack a whallop right?. Sure!
"Say a prayer and go?", Petruha asks.
We set off down the hill towards the complex.
This is the place. The other guys tear in over to the right to the gap in the fence by the truck trailer (which you can't really see). My favourite thing to do is run up to the near side window by the front entrance. There are usually guards in both of those posts and you can usually get the drop on one of them.
I run in as quiet as I can, but with everyone else wheezing on my tail it's hard to tell if it makes any difference. They start firing their shotguns pretty far out and I can hear the bandits getting wound up instead of hurt. They'll all be moving to attack, so I have to take my shot at the window quickly.
The others pour in on my right. Plenty of fire centred on that side of things. I head up the entrance instead to try and catch any bandits on the flank as they advance through to courtyard towards the other guys. The guards from the left side building should be moving that way by now.
- -The Marked One died of a shotgun blast at close range while attempting aggresive entry the Garage complex. T.O.D. aprox 0745