February 5, 2009

Chapter 16: Highway to Hell


[Audio enabled]
*The terrain before them is torn and ripped, deep crevices and rugged juts of land shoot up out of the ground in random locations. The area around Chernobyl looks as if it’s been through hundreds of earthquakes, making the land look like a deformed piece of Swiss cheese. The sky above them is dark and overcast, a blood-red light reflecting off of the impassable clouds and filtering back down on the ground below.
A plume of red smoke pours from the large smokestack on top of the main complex, hinting at signs of activity inside - whether man-made or not cannot be determined. The power plant itself is darkened with decay and ashes, large holes pocket the sides and top of the building, revealing several floors in some places.
The wind picks up in their direction – their Geiger counts slowly start to climb as radiation is blown in their direction as a warning to turn back now or face certain doom. The Stalkers continue on.*
Nimbus: What… what the hell happened here?
*Jargon looks on in shock and dismay.*
Jargon: Hell has taken over… this place will be our deaths.
Gremlin: Hey! Don’t talk like that… we still have a job to do, and we’re here to finish that job and get the hell out – and I intend to do exactly that.
*Jargon looks at Gremlin; the look in his eyes says that the mission is hopeless. The look slowly dissipates as he remembers his fallen comrades.*
Jargon: You’re right. There is a way in, and we’ll find it.
*Gremlin gulps as he looks back towards the NPP, then slowly towards the ground in front of them. He looks around in despair, quickly regretting his words.*
Gremlin: OK… let’s just… let’s try this way.
*Gremlin begins to lead the group down the main road leading to Chernobyl. The road is dotted with dark potholes and larger holes that seem to go down forever. The Stalkers weave around the holes as they continue to follow the road towards the entrance of the NPP.*
Gremlin: Careful, the gravel ahead looks loose; it might crumble if we step on it. Watch your step.
*The road beneath the Stalkers feels shaky as they step over it. It almost seems to sway back and forth the further they walk.
Suddenly, the ground beneath Virtue gives way, and he disappears from sight as a gaping hole forms where he was standing.*
Enigma: Yuriy!
Nimbus: Virtue! Oh my God!
*The group falls back to the hole where Virtue was standing, finding him hanging on to a small ledge within the hole. The darkness below him seems to slowly crawl up towards him, threatening to take him with it.*
Phantom: I’ve got a rope! Hang on!
*Phantom pulls a rope out of his backpack and feeds it down to Virtue. The rope reaches the ledge Virtue is holding on to and he takes hold of it.*
Phantom: OK, help me pull him up!
*The Stalkers grab hold of the road and help Phantom pull Virtue slowly up to the top of the hole. Before he reaches the top, the ground gives way again. Phantom, near the edge of the hole, plunges in head first, knocking Virtue back down into the hole. The group yells as they are quickly pulled forward toward the hole.*
Gremlin: Phantom! Virtue!
*There is no response.*
Gremlin: Hang on to the rope!
*Gremlin drops the rope and runs up to the edge of the hole. Virtue is hanging on to the bottom of the rope, staring back at Gremlin like a deer in headlights. Phantom is collapsed on a ledge further beneath Virtue.*
Gremlin: Virtue… thank God.
*Gremlin looks back at the group and yells:*
Gremlin: They’re still alive! Pull!
*The group pulls with all their might, hauling Virtue out of the hole. He is dragged across the road towards the group, hanging on for dear life. The group rushes over to him – he remains frozen.
Gremlin ties the rope around his waist and runs around to the other side of the hole.*
Gremlin: Come on guys! Lower me down!
*The group quickly runs around the hole to where Gremlin is standing, leaving Virtue in his state of shock.
They grab on to the rope and slowly lower Gremlin down the hole. Gremlin descends to the ledge Phantom is resting on and shouts for the group to stop.*
Gremlin: Phantom! Hey buddy, say something!
*Phantom stirs as Gremlin lightly hits him in arm.*
Phantom: Am I dead?
Gremlin: No, but you almost were. Come on, I’ll carry you up.
Phantom: I’m dizzy…
Gremlin: I got you man, just hold on for dear life.
*Phantom nods and falls into Gremlins arms, nearly missing. Gremlin grabs a hold and tugs on the rope, signaling for the group to start pulling them back up.
The two Stalkers slowly rise out of the blackness below them and back onto the street above. Gremlin releases Phantom from his arms where he rolls over on to the street in a daze.*
Gremlin: Thanks guys. Come on, we need to make sure Virtue is OK.
*The group runs around the hole again, back to where they left Virtue. He’s now on his knees, both hands forward on the ground in front of him, trying to breathe slowly.
Enigma reaches him first:*
Enigma: Yuriy… Yuriy talk to me!
*Virtue looks up at Enigma with a confused look on his face.
He sees Emelia looking back at him. She smiles as her hair shines in the sunlight outside of their house. In her arms, is their newborn son – taking in the sights of the world around him that he has just seen for the first time. He smiles back as she kisses him softly, letting him know that everything is alright.*
Enigma: Virtue!
Virtue: It’s OK Emelia, everything will be fine.
*Enigma looks back in confusion. A look of concern crosses her face as Virtue’s smile slowly fades and reality re-enters his mind.
The group approaches quickly behind Enigma, trying to asses the situation.*
Nimbus: Virtue? You OK, man?
*Virtue thinks hard about the question.*
Virtue: No Nimbus, I’m not OK. None of us are. But none of that matters now.
*Virtue stands up, indicating to the group he’s ready to move on.*
Gremlin: Alright… we need to keep moving.
*The group continues on, trying to stay positive as they continue down the dangerous road. Gremlin glances back at Virtue and tries to smirk.*
Gremlin: You’re welcome.
*Virtue smiles back, thanking Gremlin for coming to his rescue. Enigma is staring at Virtue, her eyes red as tears streak through the dirt on her face. Virtue stares at the ground ahead, closing his eyes and gripping his firsts as he attempts to fight back his own tears.
The road stretches on for what seems like hours before finally curving left behind a group of trees. As the Stalkers round the corner, the NPP lines up directly with them, their path becoming more clear.
Thunder and lightning roll through the sky ahead of them, giving off the impression that a war is taking place just ahead of them. Nimbus breaks the uneasy silence of the group:*
Nimbus: So… I’ve been wondering; why is there smoke coming out of the chimney?
*Nimbus gestures towards the NPP, where the smokestack up top is still coughing out a steady red stream of dark smoke.*
Jargon: I don’t know… there are too many unknowns here now. I can only guess at what evil is going on in there.
Nimbus: Could it be the Monolith?
Jargon: Possibly. That would make sense seeing as they were able to survive in Pripyat and they did call Chernobyl their mother.
Gremlin: I’d almost welcome seeing those guys there… it would beat being there alone. God knows what we’ll find there if it’s not them.
*The Stalkers look amongst themselves uneasily, imagining what could possibly await them in the NPP. Suddenly, they find that their question may be answered sooner than they thought as they approach a gate blacking the road.
The gate is bent and twisted, bending inward toward the NPP. Abandoned cars and military vehicles line the road opening up before them – the gate to the Chernobyl complex.*
Jargon: This is it; we’ve reached the gate.
*As the Stalkers pass the twisted remains of the front gate, their Geiger counters continue to climb as they encounter large pockets of radiation before them. A deep rumble emanates from the complex in front of them, shaking the earth around them.
Old, rusted high-capacity power lines lead out from the NPP in all directions, line veins outward from the heart of the Zone. Smaller buildings fill the complex stretching out in front of them - remnants of the sub-facilities supporting the main NPP.
The terrain is jagged and rough in places and crumbled in others – deep holes are randomly placed all over the complex.
The NPP itself looms dark and ominous over them; its dirty white outer walls are covered in ash and other filth. The sarcophagus covering the remains of Reactor 4 stands as a reminder of the tragic events that took place there in 1986.*
Gremlin: So this is it… the center of the Zone.
Phantom: This is where all the shit outside is coming from.
Jargon: Once the pride of the Soviet Union - now twisted and perverted into this monstrosity.
Nimbus: I never thought I’d see it this close up…
*Virtue and Enigma refrain from speaking, and just stare on in fear and awe.
Gremlin, bringing his attention back to the mission, starts looking around for a suitable place to take shelter and prepare for the coming journey before them.*
Gremlin: Come on, follow me. We need to make sure we’re completely ready before we try to get in there.
*The group follows Gremlin to a small building nearby; the remains of one of the many workrooms supporting the main facility. The group checks their supplies, making sure that everything is good and making note of their current ammunition, med kits, grenades, and other supplies.*
Gremlin: Let’s take a quick rest. Have some food, water, whatever. Phantom and I will stand watch outside.
*Gremlin motions for Phantom to join him as he steps outside of the building, leaving the circle of Stalkers within the building.*

{Excerpt from Gremlin’s PDA}

Phantom: Any word?
Gremlin: No. I shouldn’t have expected as much with all the interference anyway. Any sign of our “friends”?
Phantom: Not yet. I know they’re back there though.
Gremlin: Shit… this is the last thing we need. We go in there, we’re dead. We stay out here, we’re dead. The way I see it, all we can hope for now is an answer to our questions and a quick death.
Phantom: I would have liked to see the motherfuckers responsible burn, but it doesn’t look like there’s any hope of that now. If I can find out what happened to my father I can die in peace.
Gremlin: What about Kateryna?
Phantom: If doubt she’s alive anymore. Look around you. Nobody could survive here alone.
Gremlin: What about those Monolith bastards? They survived.
Phantom: Yeah. I doubt the Zone was as kind to her as it seems to be with them.
Gremlin: Just remember what Jargon said: there are too many unknowns. Anything can happen… maybe she is still alive and she’s in there right now, waiting for you to find her.
Phantom: If you’re trying to make our situation easier for me, I appreciate it – but it’s not working.
Gremlin: Hey, I know how you hate to feel helpless – I do too – but the fact is that we ARE helpless. At the best – the BEST we can hope for is to die fighting. Time is against us here.
Phantom: So how long will you give them?
Gremlin: I’ll give it as much time as possible before those bastards catch up to us. I’d hate for their deaths to be meaningless like so many other good Stalkers I’ve known.
Phantom: They deserve as much. When I go down I’d like to have them on my side - and you on the other.
*Gremlin smiles and embraces his friend, knowing it will probably be the last time.*
Gremlin: I know man, I know. I promise you I’ll be there. We’ll die together at the hands of overwhelming odds.
*Phantom nods and looks back towards the NPP – towards their doom. Gremlin taps him on the shoulder from behind.
Phantom turns and looks toward where Gremlin is pointing. He squints into the distance, making out the outlines of a group of Stalkers.*
Phantom: Here we go.

{End excerpt}

Nimbus: What about you, Jargon? What will you do if we make it out of here?
*Jargon thinks for a minute.*
Jargon: I hadn’t really thought of it. the Zone is the only life I’ve ever known. Once I avenge my colleagues I guess I really won’t have a reason to be here. Maybe I’ll go retire somewhere far away from here – somewhere tropical.
Nimbus: That sounds really good right about now. I’ve had enough of the darkness in this place. I think I’ll try to open a business. Make a reputation for myself, you know. I’ve gotten into enough trouble in my life; I think I’m ready to make things right for myself. What about you, Virtue?
*Virtue looks back at Nimbus, his initial answer quickly forgotten as he is forced to remember the fate of Emelia.
Nimbus immediately withdraws the question.*
Nimbus: Fuck… I’m sorry man. I’m just trying to keep my spirits high…
Virtue: No, I understand.
*Virtue thinks for a moment. Enigma looks at him expectantly. Finally, he answers:*
Virtue: When I get out of this hell hole, I’m going to dedicate my life to defending those weaker than myself. I will fight injustice and oppression without mercy. I will hunt down and kill murderers and criminals, making them repent the error of their ways before they die a slow, painful death.
*Nimbus nods slowly, somewhat disturbed at his response. Then, he smiles back and says:*
Nimbus: Well, when we both make it out of here together, you’ll always be welcome to visit me where I’m working. Hell, if I become a successful businessman, I might even make you my partner!
*Virtue smiles, trying to look hopeful.*
Virtue: When you’re rich and famous, I’ll be your personal body guard. That way, when you’re under the pressure of other businesses, you can know that I’m right outside the door, watching your back.
*Nimbus nods back, acknowledging his offer.*
Nimbus: I wouldn’t want anyone else.
*Gremlin and Phantom return from their guard outside the building and stand in front of the group. The look on their faces speaks of another danger beside their current one.*
Jargon: What is it?
Gremlin: We’ve got a slight problem.
Nimbus: What? What’s the problem?
Phantom: Them.
*Phantom points out a window near the west end of the room at the road they came from.*
Jargon: No…
Virtue: Not them again.
*The Stalkers look into the distance at the road they came in on. Stalin, Martha, Bubba, and Slayer are approaching rapidly. Their suits are scuffed and dented all over – several pieces are broken or missing.*
Enigma: What are we going to do?
Gremlin: The only thing we can do. Run.
*The Stalkers retreat out of the building, onto road in front of them. They start to run down the road leading toward the front of the NPP, being as careful as possible not to step on unstable ground.
Stalin and company break into a sprint behind them.*
Phantom: They’re coming!
Gremlin: Stay with me, we need to get inside the NPP; we might be able to lose them inside!
*Bullets whiz over the Stalker’s heads and ricochet off of cars and gravel near them. The group behind them starts shouting incoherently behind them.
The Stalkers reach the front of the NPP, tracing the outer wall in search of a way inside. Their anomaly detectors beep as they go, indicating they are entering a field of anomalous activity.*
Gremlin: Fuck! We’ll never make it through with all these anomalies in the way! Find cover and lay down fire – their suits are pretty beat up from their run through the Monolith, we might be able to hit some weak spots!
*The group acknowledges and takes cover behind cars on the road and concrete pillars nearby. They ready their weapons and ready grenades in their opposite hands.*
Stalin: They’re up there somewhere... How the hell should I know! … Yes, we’ll kill some mutants after we kill them, now come on!
Gremlin *whispering*: Get ready…
*The Stalkers pull the pins on their grenades, cocking them behind their heads in preparation to throw them.
Stalin and his Stalkers round the corner outside the inner gate to the courtyard in front of the NPP, directly in line of sight of the concealed Stalkers in front of them.*
Gremlin: NOW!
*The Stalkers throw their grenades directly into the path of the oncoming Stalkers, sending them scattering. Multiple explosions shake the area nearby as Stalin’s group is forced backward from the force of the explosions.*
Gremlin: FIRE!
*Gremlin’s group opens up with their weapons. Bullets fill the air between them and the other Stalkers, pinging off of the metal around the Exosuits, some of them impact exposed parts of their suits making the Stalkers grunt in pain.*
Stalin: YOU LITTLE SHITS! KILL THEM!
*Stalin’s group returns fire, diving for cover around cars and pillars opposite Gremlin’s group. A barrage of gunfire and explosions is exchanged for several minutes before Stalin’s group finally ceases fire.
The area is deathly silent for a few minutes. Gremlin’s group looks at each other uneasily.*
Nimbus: Did we get ‘em?
Gremlin: Shh! I don’t know…
Phantom: I’ll try to sneak around and flank…
*Before Phantom can make a move, a roar like a dinosaur from a movie freezes him in his tracks. The group turns around towards the source of the noise to see a giant creature of some sort looming behind them. The creature appears to be just a head attached to a round body, with two legs attached to the body at the side of its head.*
Gremlin: What the fuck…
*The creature looks towards the source of the noise that drew its attention, spotting the Stalkers hiding behind cover. It roars again and begins stomping towards them.
The Stalkers immediately flee cover, running for dear life. As they do, Stalin’s group – groaning from behind cover, gets up slowly to find the source of the loud noise. Once they see the large creature heading towards them, they scream and begin firing.*
Bubba: Holy shit! I didn’t sign up for this!
Slayer: Shut up and kill it!
Martha: Where did those little shits go?
Stalin: Forget it! Kill that thing; we’ll get a huge sum for it!
Bubba: How we gonna do that?
Stalin: Shut the hell up and fire you dumbass!
*Gremlin and group scatter behind Stalin’s group without drawing the attention of his group or the creature heading towards them. They watch from behind cover in amazement as the creature continues to take on a storm of bullets and continues to stomp towards them.*
Bubba: It’s still comin’!
Stalin: No shit, Sherlock! Take it down!
*As the creature continues to rumble towards them, a hoard of mutants made up of Zombies, Snorks, Bloodsuckers, and many unknown types follows in its wake, like a freak parade. Stalin’s group ceases fire and stands up in horror.*
Stalin: Uhh… I think we’ve met our match boys! Run for it!
*The group turns to run. They make it near the inner gate of the complex when the creature roars again and comes to a halt. As it does, it stomps one of its massive feet on the ground, sending out a huge shockwave that sends everything in the area to the ground.*
Martha: Wha… was… that…
Stalin: Come… on… move…
*The Stalkers attempt to move forward again, but find that they are completely incapacitated.*
Bubba: Why… can’t… move…
*A sickening crunch comes from Bubba’s leg as he attempts to stand up. He lets out a blood-curdling scream as he hits the ground in pain. Stalin takes off one of the leggings on his Exosuit and feels around his leg. His finger goes straight through the skin as he screams out in pain. The bones are shattered. The group looks from one person to another, all sense of power previously felt by their enhancements is now gone.*
Stalin: Well boys… I’ll see you in hell.
*Stalin laughs manically as the horde of mutants rushes over them. Gremlin yells at the group through the various screeching and roaring noises coming from the mutants:*
Gremlin: Come on! Run while they’re distracted!
*Gremlin leads the group from building to building like a moth attracted to several lights. They dare to look behind them as Stalin’s group is torn to pieces. Their yells and screams turn into gurgling noises as they are eaten alive. Pieces of their high-powered armor fly off like shrapnel along with pieces of their bodies.*
Phantom: There’s a door ahead! I think it leads inside!
Gremlin: Keep running!
*The Moonlight artifacts accelerate them towards a large door on the side of the NPP. Train tracks lead in, suggesting that it leads to a shipping facility of some sort.
The mutants at the inner door in the distance finish their fiasco and begin combing the area for other sources of food. A large group begins running/crawling/hopping towards the Stalkers.*
Jargon: I think our friends are on to us back there!
Gremlin: Head inside!
*The Stalkers run behind the two large doors opened outward from the power plant, frantically looking for a way in or at least a place to hide.*
Nimbus: There!
*Nimbus points to what appears to be a service ladder leading downward from the sheltered train yard into a facility beneath them.*
Gremlin: That’ll do. Get inside!
*The Stalkers rush towards the small hole, shining their flashlights inside then sliding down the ladder to the bottom of the shaft.
Gremlin is the last one in. As he enters, he attempts to slide a large piece of discarded metal nearby over the hole.*
Gremlin: A little help here!
*Virtue stops descending and climbs back up to the top of the shaft, pushing his back towards the opposite side of the shaft to support his weight.
The mutants outside skid around the corner; entering through the doors in search of their targets.
The metal plate screeches with a sickening sound over the top of the shaft, immediately attracting the attention of the various mutants.*
Gremlin: Shit… hurry!
*Virtue and Gremlin push with all their might as the plate slowly slides into place over the hole. Finally, just as the mutants reach the hole, the plate slides into place – sealing the shaft from the outside.*
Gremlin: Whew… we did it.
*The metal plate above them takes a beating but remains in place as the mutants pound and claw desperately at it in an attempt to get in.
The dinosaur-like roar sounds from someone near above them again as a loud boom shakes the facility.
Virtue and Gremlin are knocked off of the ladder and tumble down the shaft on their way to the bottom. They come to rest with a crash at the bottom.*
Gremlin: Unhhh… my head…
*The rest of the group rushes up to help Gremlin and Virtue up. Virtue remains unmoving on the ground.*
Phantom: Virtue! Virtue talk to me!
*Phantom rolls Virtue over. He is bleeding from the head and is not responsive.*
Phantom: Shit… he’s not responding. He’s got a nasty bump on the head.
*Enigma gasps*
Enigma: Is he going to be OK?
Phantom: I don’t know… I think he’s got a concussion. He’s not going anywhere on his own for a while.
*Gremlin crawls over to a corner and props himself up with a grunt.*
Gremlin: Then we’re waiting right here for him. We’d all be dead is he hadn’t helped me seal the shaft, and he’s dead if we leave him alone here.
*Nimbus walks over to where Phantom is applying bandages to Virtue’s head and kneels down next to him.
Nimbus: Come on, man. You can pull through this. You NEED to pull through this. We can’t do this without you.
*Phantom looks at Nimbus, unable to reassure him of Virtue’s recovery.
Nimbus looks at the ground, hurt and angered.*
Nimbus: Dammit! I should have stayed and helped them!
Phantom: You were one of the first ones down; you couldn’t have made it back up in time. Don’t blame yourself.
*Nimbus sighs*
Nimbus: You’re right. I just wish I was up there with him or there to catch him… something! Anything!
*Phantom puts his hand on Nimbus shoulder, reassuring him.*
Phantom: He’s lucky to have a friend like you.
Nimbus: No, *I’m* the lucky one. He doesn’t need me as much as I need him.
*Nimbus gets up and walks toward a corner and sits down.
The rest of the Stalkers catch their breath as they take in the room around them.
Gremlin is the first to venture over to the door leading out of the room.
The door leads to a long, dark hallway. A deep, dark mist seems to hang in the air and piles of dust and parts of the walls and ceiling littler the floor. The hall seems to stretch to infinity on both directions. A deep rumble comes from somewhere in the facility, echoing throughout the empty halls. Creaking noises can be heard somewhere down the hall beyond, the cause of which can only be found in Gremlin’s imagination. Gremlin quickly ducks back into the room.*
Gremlin: Well… the halls ahead seem clear, but there’s some sort of fog or smoke all over. It’s going to be pretty tough to see anything in it. We’ll only be able to see about 10 feet In front of us here, so we’ll need to be extremely careful.
*The group nods in agreement as they sit in the silence of the dark room, awaiting any sign of life from Virtue.*

[End audio]

{Excerpt from Jargon’s PDA}

[1732]
My thoughts have been disturbed as late. I remember waking in X16 when I thought that surely I was dead. The images the Controller sent to me about the Soviet experiment here, the mutations, the explosion of the reactor, and the aftermath. I still can’t help but wonder if there is any truth to these images. What happened here? How is all of this happening? Who was in charge? What will we find? What will we do? What happens then? Too many unknowns.
I remember at the end of the disturbing dream where I saw my friends turn to mutants and push me to my death. Waking to see the faces in my dream incarnated, under the power of that Controller was enough to make me spend another lifetime in this place if that’s what it takes to avenge them all.
The Stalkers I travel with, all younger than myself, have been through so much already in their young lives that I believe they now match me in skill. Their dedication to this mission, their families and friends, and to do what is right is unparalleled in this world. How they continue to fight for a world that rejects and abuses them so, I’ll never know.
It’s this place; the Zone and its evil is a paradox that both destroys and unites. My only hope is that through us, and our mission here, the world will finally know the truth, and we will finally find our own.

{End excerpt}

{Excerpt from Phantom’s PDA}
[1735]
This is it. Everything in my life has come to this point. Here is where I will finally find the truth to my father’s death and my mother and sister’s disappearances’.
Could Kateryna still be alive? Every fiber of my being hopes and prays that she is… but it’s stupid of me to think she could be. That brings the next question; what happened to her? What did she see before she died in this place? Did she discover what happened to my father? Maybe I’ll never know…
My goal should be to stay alive long enough to find the truth for myself. As much as I respect the Stalkers in my group, I know they won’t all make it to the end. All I can hope is that somehow, something will get leaked out about what happened here, and somebody will take over where we’ve left off.
Gremlin, my partner in crime. I regret that we won’t be able to share in any more adventures with Freedom or any other Stalkers ever again. We go now to our graves. I just hope that fate will be kind enough to lay me next to the rest of my family… all of whom found their final resting places here.
Here’s to the truth.

{End excerpt}

{Excerpt from Nimbus’ PDA}
[1742]
The last few weeks have been the most exciting and dangerous I’ve ever had and can ever expect to have in my entire life. I’ve learned so much and come so far in such a short amount of time, and I know I owe it all to the men (and woman) I’m with.
But most of all – Virtue. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. When he punched me and pointed his weapon at me, threatening to shoot me if I gave away his position, I thought it was the end in my life. Little did I know it was actually the beginning.
Now he’s lying on the floor, unconscious. He’s got a serious head injury that might even prove fatal. If he doesn’t make it out of here… I don’t know what I’ll do without the support I’ve come to rely on from him. Even though he’s extremely depressed and distant form the death of Emelia I can still feel the good in him like an aura affecting everyone around him. I owe him my life, and I would gladly just to give him a chance at living happily to the end of his days.
Come on Virtue. You’ve gotta pull through…

{End excerpt}

{Excerpt from Gremlin’s PDA}
[1747]
We’ve made it this far. I’m filled with feeling of regret and sorrow at the fate that awaits these brave Stalkers following me.
I can’t help asking myself; is what I’m doing wrong? Am I forcing these brave warriors to their deaths? I might have already forced one to his death. Virtue caught me on the way down that shaft and took most of the fall for me, and now he might not even survive to find the peace that has been stolen from him.
As the former leader of Freedom, it is my duty to see this through to the end. If we expose a government cover-up, then anarchy could reign throughout the entire remnant of the Soviet Union. I can imagine what a little taste of freedom could do to a nation that used to be so prosperous!
We all have our own goals, but the success of them all depends on blowing the lid off of this and exposing the government as the wolf it is. I will lead us all to victory. For freedom!

{End excerpt}

{Excerpt from Enigma’s PDA}
[1755]
I can barely stand to see him lying there like that in this dark extension of hell. I’ve seen so much inner light in him and now to see it extinguished so quickly is heart-breaking to me.
I’ve felt feelings I’ve never felt before in his presence. It’s almost like reassurance that everything will be OK no matter what, and all the evil in the world can’t bring him down. He is a good person, and a brave man, the kind that any woman would kill to have – and I have killed to get him.
All those years alone in Limansk I felt that there was something calling to me just beyond the barrier – I know now that it was him. He will make everything OK again; he will bring life back to all the dead in the Zone.
Everything depends on him; I just wish I was able to tell him how important he is, not just to the Zone, but also to me. The loss of his wife has been hard on him; I can feel the void in his soul. I can only hope that he will be willing to allow that void to fill, and that the light will return to him now when I need him the most.
Everything depends on him. Everything…
{End excerpt}

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