Yes, don't drink and stalk kids. I did and look what happened to me. Left alone in the woods to be shrapnel buggered by the army in the middle of the night, that's what. (The poster is obviously an idealised representation, of course. As if a stalker would use a knife and fork.)
I've discussed old habits dying hard before (usually followed by you dying quickly), but it's difficult not to dwell on what's been learned, what could have been learned, what kinds of personal growth one can take away from a situation of another embarassing ignominious defeat by taking on board and actualising any factors arising in view of taking a positive perspective going forward.
If that sounds like bollox, it's because it is. Not just for the way it's written either. I'm thinking more and more that there's a point to these Zone dwellers being a bit detached. One that goes beyond being computer game NPCs of limited interactivity. No, somewhere behind all that there's an understanding of how to live at the whims of capricious fate without going nuts.
That moment when it all goes horribly wrong and you have to make one of a number of choices, there's likely to be a couple of good reasonable options. Any of which might just put you in line for something just as bad or worse. Ducking that bullet just makes sure the dog to your left bites you in the face instead of the arse. Maybe the guy would have missed. Who knows.
Actually, now that I think about it, I've kinda made it difficult to make any decisions at all with that logic.
Rather than try and think that through I'll just start again. Drinking in the Zone: Bad.
It's 5:53 on 5-1-2012
Sidorovich sends me out into the world in search of the flashdrive again. The weather is looking really nice this morning, for a change. With any luck it'll stay that way.
I get the day moving pretty quick, as per the usual assortment of tasks. The sun's still shining even as I meet up with Petruha and the boys. Not that it's all that light at 0630, but lighter than it could be. We attack, with me running in the usual way (it really is the "best" way. The other avenues mean the bandits have all the cover and you've got no assistance. Decision!). Sadly I brush the annoyingly loud bush and alert our foes a little early. Never mind. Press on.
Driving to the hole in the wall, I shoot down the first one I see by the fire. Rather than run for his life, the second one comes straight through the hole at me like a maniac. We trade a few rounds until neither of us can shoot any more because we're too busy reeling in pain/bleeding. The other guys come to my aid and distract him until I can recover and we pincer him.
I picked up that Night Star on the way over here, and it probably just saved my behind. But as we advance into the first room its radiation is starting to cut my already low health. Short on options I reach for the vodka. I guess it's not 'Nyet' at all, but 'Da, spasee ba!'. Well, that lasted a long time didn't it.
It's just one bottle, ok. Just one. Before I have time to worry too much about my lack of character buckshot is flying about my ears. I return fire. It's some guy shooting through the holes in the far side of the building. But my aim is off thanks to one of my comrades barging me out of the way until I'm behind the wall again.
Now the booze is starting to get to me and my vision shimmers. It's manageable. I step out and follow the action down to my right, into the burned out section of the building. The others have all moved off. I'm pretty sure I can hear at least one bandit is outside the wall here, heading to the back end of the complex. I stumble through the blurry dark trying to head him off in the open
A shot comes from my rear left and I spin around. The footsteps of the bandit outside keep coming. Now facing where I came from I see a hooded figure in the dark coming from the courtyard. I hit him at least three times and it dawns on me he barely made a sound and didn't react right away. I didn't see him drop before he went to cover. I think.
The bandit has made the end of the building now and opens fire on me. My vision clears a little. I step round the rubble and fire back. There's more fire from behind me, but none of it is at me. I keep my back to an old doorway just in case.
My bandit drops. I assist from a distance with another in the courtyard and that's the end of them.
After some looting I return to the front room. There are a couple of bodies in there, but only one is near where I was shooting.
He's not lying on the same line of sight, but I didn't see him fall. I just don't know. All told, it's just me and German Normal left. The place is his now. I've got other things to do.
After freeing Nimble I took his jacket mission right away to do the artifact shuffle. This got me enough cheese to buy that MP5. As much as I like saving up, you can't do it very well when you're dead.
I get moving while the weather's still good.
Up at the old factory , on my way to find the journeyman, I hear a lot of AK fire and yelping dogs. Down by the tunnel some guy is having a bit of a run in with the wildlife. So I check out how he does.
He does very well, thanks to that nice firearm of his. Say hello to Dima Grouse.
He doesn't have anything interesting except an excess of dog tails, funnily enough. Not a fan of his prices and bitter about his nicer gun, I don't buy any.
Dima seems to know where it's at, so I tag along with him as he heads in the direction of camp.
This is fun for a while. Good to have some company.
Certainly beats having to shoot rats and so forth myself. We could be best of friends. Stick together through thick and thin. Whatever trials may come. O'er hill and dale we merry two do stroll. Never leaving one another's side save for scenic snaps.
Wait Dima! I took the picture. Don't get into any adventures in that next valley without me.
I think maybe, kinda, possibly fatally wounding Petruha might have done something funny to me. I snap out of it after Dima's little accident though, and instead wonder where his gun might have ended up (whirligig's typically fling things for miles). It's not like I could have helped him anyway.
I turn and sigh and head back to the embankment.
The meet up with Fox went well enough. I even got some dog tails out of it (Dima would be proud). But the weather's started to turn and I'm less game to head for the crossing right away, so I head out to the east and check out some stashes (staying clear of the railway line this time).
Walking through dog country is always unnerving. Sometimes you can walk right through a well spaced pack and nothing will happen. But you always know that any moment one might decide to attack and then the rest will join in. And if you're not sprinting away you're probably screwed.
Psaudo-dogs are little easier, provided there's one of them and you see them coming.
Come to my barrels my pretty
Like this guy for instance. Spotted me at the top of the hill and came tear-arsing across country to get me. I got myself a tail out of it as well. There's a quest for that.
Back at camp I collect on the pseudo-dog tail job, and damn was it worth it. I got a load of dart shotgun rounds on top of everything else. Sid still wants five grand for the long barrelled shotgun though, so to hell with it. I'll stick with the sawn-off for now.
The question now is: what am I going to do with the rest of the evening?
I go beg Wolf and Nimble for jobs but they don't have any. Sid's only got artifact and animal part jobs that would require a lot of hunting. It's getting too dark to do anything major. But if I go to sleep now I'll wake up at about 3am and have to wait until dawn.
One of these days I'm gonna get me some night vision so I can stay up late. And a nice detector so I can avoid anomalies. And a big gun with lots of bullets. And a good suit. One day.
Waiting around is boring. I'm sleeping.
0300 - Day Two
It's pitch dark and dead quiet. Dawn isn't for another couple of hours. -click sleeping bag- "You don't feel like sleeping". Of course not.
A Blowout is due before noon. I'm also starving hungry. Apparently I ate my supplies in lieu of health at some point. Well, better go and see if anyone's recently died. That or buy some.
Continued in Part 2