The prospect of heading north with only a pistol doesn't thrill me to bits. I am forced to admit I really kinda hid for much of the last fight and luckily the others did alright regardless. Now there's a Controller wandering around and heaven knows what else.
There's one little problem. The second most basic gun, that sawnoff shotty, costs 4000R from Sid. I take only a few more bullets and a bandage instead and hope to scavenge something better from somewhere.
I take the road north from camp again. Most of the nearby anomalies are becoming familiar now, so I can get around them without any bolts or increases in grey hair numbers. I'm thinking this should speed my journey somewhat when, as soon as I reach the underpass area I see a figure approaching from the direction of the Garage. It's a yellow jacketed stalker who's not registering on my scope yet as friend or foe. I remember the Controller and what it does to random stalkers. I crouch down behind the guard rail on the side of the road and pop the binocs.
It looks for all the world like Petruha. He's got his gun levelled and is marching purposefully my direction.
Zombified stalkers in this game aren't like the walking undead we all know and love. They shuffle around a bit and moan and groan, but are perfectly able to shoot you and reload their guns like a normal person (in that way they're more like the magically possessed zombies of voodoo tradition). There's never much question about curing them though, despite the fact that if a Controller is responsible killing it will return them to normal, so the usual zombie handling rules apply (ie: terminate with extreme prejudice).
I really don't want to shoot this guy if I don't have to. He's not done anything to me and in any case it could put the other stalkers offside . I crouch lower behind the barricade and get out my pistol.
I let him get well within shooting range. Nothing happens. I get up and walk onto the road in plain view and he just walks on by, gun at the ready.
He shouts threatening Russian phrases so I can tell he's not zombified, but there's no one around to threaten. He seems to know where he's going though, so I follow him into the fields.
We cross a couple of hills and dales, getting close to the back end of camp, and on one rise he stops. He looks around for a bit, says some mean sounding stuff to no one and then puts his gun away and walks calmly back the way he came.
Weird. The journey wasn't a compete waste of time though. Nearby I find the corpse of some hapless fellow and he still has his shotgun.
How sweet it is. Hardly any ammo, but it's better than nothing. I follow Petruha back to the road.
When we get there, I see two more figures coming towards us on roughly the same bearing Petruha had before. It's the other two guys from the Garage. When they reach us Petruha joins in with their aggressive march.
It seems the fellas are on a spontaneous dog and boar hunt. I leave them to their fun, but not before they chase an errant boar my way.
I feel the controller influence again as I head back up the road, but get out of its range just past the rat infested bus stop. The Garage seems the most likely place for it to be. Maybe it's why the guys got out of there and went hunting instead.
The old Factory waits up ahead. Sometimes its a good pace to find artifacts and probably other useful stuff. I head in to take a look around. I remember as I approach that in some mods a Bloodsucker lives here at some point in the game.
A Bloodsucker is another nasty mutant. Its name tells you pretty much everything you need to know, with the addition of; it's very fast and can turn transparent. I can't remember if this is a mod where you find one here. We have apparently got a Controller wandering around somewhere at the moment, already... I also used the last of my shotgun shells on that boar.
After all that; no one home. Just a corpse with some stuff. I'm almost disappointed. I found Sid's Night Star artifact too (this is a side quest I think the mod has tacked on). Another reason to delay going north and hike back to the camp.
It's a pretty valuable artifact and very useful, but I play along and give it to him. For my trouble I get not much money, a couple of spare rucksacks to stash things in, a GPS beacon (basically marks a spot on my map) and dosimeter. Well, a dosimeter is pretty useful. I had forgotten I didn't have one and could be walking through irradiated areas and not know about it.
OK, no more distractions. I'm getting itchy feet for ground that's not between camp and the damn bus stop (and its residents).
This is where I'm headed. Not far on from the old Factory. The passage underneath is guarded by some corrupt soldiers who charge stalkers to be let through. But it's possible to sneak over on the right hand side, running the risk of being spotted, or hike further down the track to find a gap in the fence (potentially running into trouble with radiation and anomalies, from memory). I take the sneaky option.
As soon as I start down the other side I get a message from Sid. There's a stalker called Fox who's injured and wants some help. He also might know thing or two about Strelok, so I should go save him from whatever it is that's trying to eat him (I know in advance that it's dogs so I'm not that worried).
I find Fox curled up in the derelict buildings just north of the Embankment. He needs help but I have no medkit. Luckily the attic of the place next door has one stashed away and I can get him back on his feet. He doesn't have anything to say at all about Strelok really, but his brother Seriy does. He's up at the rail hanger in Garbage. And so the trail gets longer.
A pack of dogs attacks us and we barely have time to chat. It's not too bad a fight with both of us there, but stay out of Fox's way when he's exacting revenge. His payment of 1000R for helping out soothes the fact that I have to pluck a few of his pellets out of my leg.
Fox settles in right here and I have to decide whether to hike further north or head back to camp. It's about 1700 and since any relatively short journey can easily turn into a death defying excursion, that much I have figured out, I decide to head back before dark. You never know what unpleasent things might come out then.
Home sweet home. The walk is, thankfully, uneventful. G'night folks.
It's already pretty good light for pre-dawn. But I dawdle around camp until the sun comes up. It's time for the Garbage run, or at least to the crossing post. I really need a better gun and some more money quite badly before I face what the Garbage has to offer. I can't do much about that in camp, so here goes nothing.
Up on the road near the bus stop, I can hear a firefight going on down in the Garage. Tweets come through for bandit sightings and calls for help from Petruha's friends. The bandits have returned to reclaim the place. I head in to see what I can see.
Running from one tree to the next I can hear all hell breaking loose inside. In particular the sound of MP5s spraying all and sundry. The bandits have come back in force, with better guns.
The shooting stops and everything goes quiet. I tiptoe in closer to see how many blips I get on my scope.
- The marked one bled to death after being shot repeatedly by automatic weapon fire. T.O.D. approx 0845