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STALKER 2 is dead



  • StollsStolls Brave Corporate Logo Chicago, ILRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    STALKER 2 dead again? I had a simple reaction in mind - something along the lines of sulking or weeping incoherently for an hour - but I've also had a lot to drink, and that shuts up the part of my brain that stops me from doing things like this. I apologize in advance.
    The man before you groans wearily as he slumps into the creaky old chair, a dirty glass bottle clutched in hand. To the world he's the picture of youth, yet there's a cast to his face, to his bloodshot hazel eyes, that hints of more experience than most; more than someone his age should have. When he speaks, it's a dry, throaty rustle, burdened with the acidic bite of cynicism and dashed hopes. There is no question that he understands pain and loss.

    "You don't leave it all behind when you come here, you know," he begins, reclining into the chair. "It does file you down, grinds off parts so you'll stay alive. Little different for everybody, but you detach a bit. Happens in any dangerous place, and here more than most. But anybody that says it strips the person out of you... full of shit. All it does is knock off the loose ends. If you're a psychopath in here, then you were already gone before. The only difference is no one's surprised when you gun some kid down for a can of meat."

    He pauses to take a swig from the bottle, clear liquid sloshing past the cloudy glass and torn label. He smacks his lips, sucking back every last drop like it's the only thing keeping him going. "You still feel. Even if it's some dumb bastard who doesn't know which end of the gun goes bang, you still feel when your search party finds his body the next morning. What changes is how you deal with it, how you process it. You see one of your boys ripped in half, you break that down: 'what did it' and 'what do I do' are first, everything else comes later. You can cry about it and drink yourself stupid when you're back at camp, and you will."

    A deep breath. His eyes roam to the window, gazing out at the setting sun. "Sometimes you don't even remember why," he whispers, seemingly forgetting your presence. "But it gets to you. You just deal with it differently. In each our own way, we're marked, and most people will think there's something wrong with you. Hell, maybe there is, but it's not what they think. They think because you put up with it, that you don't care."

    Another pull from the bottle, a cough as some of the drink goes down the wrong pipe. He grimaces and shakes his head, determined to keep talking. "They think because you can face a challenge, you don't get scared."

    He squeezes the bottle tightly, running his thumb up the neck. A spark flickers in his eyes, a dangerous glint accented by the barest trace of anger in his voice. "Because you don't scream, it doesn't hurt," he says, his voice dropping to a low growl. "We are distant, damaged... we don't know what it means to lose something important."

    The fire dies just as suddenly. Anger is draining; he simply doesn't have the energy anymore. One last swallow empties the bottle, and he continues. "I've lost a lot of good friends recently. One of them, we went way back. Tough old bastard, but the kinda guy that's never had a bad day in his life, y'know? Violent, misogynistic, unabashedly crude... never saw the guy without a cigar and sunglasses. A relic of a bygone era, but god bless his crazy ass."

    You swear you can see a hint of a smirk, but it's gone in a heartbeat. Bitterness takes its well-earned place once more. "Came out of retirement after, what was it, fifteen years? Thought it was gonna be like the good ol' days. But you could see it in his eyes, something changed him. It wasn't fun anymore for him. Maybe it'd just been too long... who knows. So much for the King. Losing him didn't hurt, though. In a way, I think I knew the real him was never coming back."

    He carelessly tilts the bottle in his hands, watching the light play through the murky glass. A portion of him wanders somewhere far away, fetching another memory of better days. "Someone else I knew, maybe the last five years. Hell of a leader, kind of person you'd follow on a suicide mission if they asked you to." A pause; a weak, but earnest chuckle. "In fact, I think they went on one not too long ago. Couldn't remember their first name to be honest, which is funny for all the talks we had. Never too busy to sit down and talk with the team, stop and help the locals, or even straighten out some rookie who was in way over his head. Damn good times."

    "It all sort of fell apart towards the end." His eyes droop shut, brow furrowed as the memory turns dark. "We don't like to talk about it, let's just say things got too... philosophical at the last minute. Still, that didn't hurt either, not if I'm honest. I felt empty when it was over, but not hurt."

    A soft breeze brushes through the windows, disturbing the thin layer of dust in the room. His fingers grow limp, and the bottle slips out of his hand, landing on the floor with an unceremonious thud. Luckily, the thick glass absorbs the impact, suffering not even a crack. He doesn't even budge, now thoroughly lost in his own thoughts. "But this... this does hurt. It hurt when they told me, it hurt today, and it will hurt for the rest of my life. It's not something you can put a finger on, not something concrete. It's not even an emotional pain, like losing a friend or loved one. That heals, given time."

    He openes his eyes again, and in the fading light you can see the soft shimmer in them. His teeth clench, his hands dig into the armrests. "When I found out... it felt like my whole world had changed, like overnight something I believed in, felt passionately about, was just suddenly, irrevocably gone. It was like you woke up one morning and you weren't just out of a job, they'd phased out your whole line of work. It doesn't cripple you, not directly. Maybe you grieve openly, maybe you hide it, but life goes on; if you've been here, you know this as well as anybody. The difference is, it follows you. You never escape the sense that something important, something fundamental is now missing from the world, and if asked to explain it you're not even sure you could anymore."

    He slouches back against the chair, as if he could sink further into it and disappear. "They'll just wonder what the hell that old, eccentric fool is babbling about this time."

    Seconds pass in silence. At long last, you feel up to asking: "Any regrets?"

    With a deliberate sigh, he rolls his head to one side, gazing at a side table in arm's reach. An old, scratched Makarov waits for his hand, magazine full and round in the chamber; low caliber, but, properly applied, enough to do the job. Slowly he reaches for it, letting his finger play along the trigger, indecisive and noncommittal. The choices are obvious, the temptation paramount. A coward's way out, and you wonder if that was filed off him, or revealed within him.

    Thoughts dance through his mind again, his expression flat and unreadable. "It doesn't just take from you, you know," he says softly, warmly. "It gives you things, too. Things you wouldn't trade for the world."

    "Any regrets?" you ask again.

    Something approaching a smile climbs onto his lips. He takes the weapon in hand, and with no further hesitation he rises from his chair, a few bones in his back popping. He grunts from the strain, but stows the weapon in a holster and confidently shakes his head. "Not a one."

    The sun dips lower, taking with it the safety of day. He is undeterred, pausing only to admire the reds and oranges painted across the room. "Come on," he says, nodding to you. "Our friends in Kiev carry on. We should, too."

    Stolls on
    I write for these people. Shadowrun skillcheck guides: Dragonfall, Hong Kong
  • FleebFleeb has all of the fleeb juice Registered User regular
    Damn good stuff man.

  • XagarXagar Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Good Lord.

    Xagar on
    "For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow?
    Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?"
  • KlashKlash Registered User regular
    Well done, good man.

    That's how you close out a series!

    We don't even care... whether we care or not...
  • LodbrokLodbrok Registered User regular
    On the one hand, this is sad news especially after the conflicting news about the on-going status of Stalker 2 over the last half year of so. On the other hand, replaying Call of Pripyat made me realise that the story of Strelok and the zone actually achieved closure, something that you can not say about all stories, in games or other media. If there will not be any more stories from the zone, I am kind of glad that they ended it where they did, even if it was not planned.

    For now, I am glad that I had the chance to experience the zone through these games. Maybe there will be a Stalker 2 one day, and if not... well, I and a couple of friends are planning a trip the real life zone of alienation this summer, and I don't think that would have happened without playing these games! Happy hunting stalkers...

  • GaslightGaslight Registered User regular
    What, again since the first time last christmas? Eh.

    bowen wrote: »
    The bacteria in your poop exist everywhere.
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