Zona Alfa: A Walk Through Chernya

.

Most of the papers (from the previous mission) were ruined, but one at the very bottom had the heading RED GYPSY 3 on it in big block print. And below there was a list of rifles, pistols, a column of Special Weapons. Cases of ammo, boxes of grenades... All of it typed up neat as could be. If half this stuff is there, we'll be rich.


Trouble is that same piece of paper mentioned a keycard – a one-of-a-kind special keycard that's needed to unlock the steel door that leads to the stash. And that's a problem.


Yuri mentioned the last guy who passed through Blyatsk was new to the Zone: some thug named Big Nikolai. Apparently, he got tired of being a junior Bratva bull in Moscow and decided he wanted a bigger slice of the pie. So, he grabbed a handful of his boys and bribed his way past the Cordon guards. Word is he's camped in the area around Chernya, waiting for a rendezvous.


You're not big on that area, or chatting up Bandits for that matter, but it's the only lead you've got right now.


Guess it's time for Maksim and Recovery Inc. ("No job too big no client too small!") to go for another walk in the Zone.


TURN 1


Maks and crew crouched in place behind a rusty container.

"I can't see Big Nikolai and his gang... but I can sure hear them," whispered Nastya as she peered through her binoculars.

"So can we. Do you see any possible Hot Spots?" prompted Xenia. 


"Two possible ones... there... and there!" replied Nastya after scanning the nearby area.


"I've an idea," Maksim said. "Here's what we'll do..."


From her memory of the pre-Event Google Map of the area, Nastya knew that was the best possible plan they could come up with. Now, if only they could pull it off ...


Five minutes later, Maksim threw a bolt at a rubbish dumpster down the lane. 


CLANK!


Instantly swarms of frenzied vermin emerged ... eyes an unnatural red and bodies grossly swollen. Since Maks and crew were well hidden, they immediately swarmed at the nearest target: Big Nikolai's surprised bandit gang!


Nastya shrugged. Only idiots would chug down vodka and swap lies in loud voices while in the Zone. Even in a supposedly safe area. Too bad. 


She grinned when the loud bragging voices turned into shouts of surprise. 


Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Xenia's arm fling another bolt. Her target was a seemingly empty ammo crate. 


CLANK!


This time, a horde of Rad Ghouls swarmed out from behind a ruined wall. 


Tvoyu Mat'! Nastya was glad they were well hidden as the tentacled horrors emerged with the bandit gang in view instead of Xenia, who'd quickly ducked back behind a fence.


Silently, the Rad Ghouls charged at the bandit gang.


That did it! The bandits panicked. Hardened as they were, having swarms of vermin and Rad Ghouls descend on them out of nowhere in a seemingly peaceful spot crumbled whatever discipline they might have had.


Nastya couldn't supress a grin as she watched the bandits flail about in panic.


Two bandits tried to fight off the vermin while another two just blasted away, trying to "save" their friends. When the smoke cleared, the vermin were all dead... but so were their friends!


And the appearance of the Rad Ghouls put an end to things. 


"Tvoyu mat!!!" Big Nikolai screamed. "You stupid idiots!!!"


He ran behind an ammo canister and took a snap shot at a Rad Ghoul. The bullet glanced off its toughened hide. 


Not even bothering to stop, the Rad Ghouls bore down on the two remaining bandits who died screaming under a welter of teeth and claws. One died heroically, managing to take a Ghoul with him.

Satisfied, Nastya put her binoculars away and slunk off towards the Hot Spot that Maks had triggered while Xenia did the same with hers. Maks climbed up on top of a building to better command his crew and Sveta cautiously followed Nastya.


TURN 2


Xenia climbed up an ammo crate and threw a satchel charge at the Rad Ghouls. Wouldn't you know it. One survived. She fired her AK. The bullets tore it to pieces... then stopped. "@#%$!!! piece of junk!" she cursed, struggling to unjam her weapon.

On top of the building, Maks settled down to aim at the cowering Big Nik. The man was obsessively checking and rechecking the ammo feed of his rifle, unaware of his surroundings or the fact the Rad Ghouls had all been killed.


Shrugging, Maks took aim... the red dot centered on Big Nik's forehead... the target's head disappeared in a spray of red.


+ + +


Nastya kept an eye on Maks and heard the crack of his rifle. Then his hand raised: Coast Clear!


She immediately sprinted towards the Hot Spot (1) in front of her and got to work. She was disappointed. A paltry 350 in salvage. 


Behind her, Sveta climbed up a building, heading for another Hot Spot beyond the building.


TURN 3


Nastya scrounged around the Hot Spot (1) again. and grunted in satisfaction. Another 750! That should pay for a sweet armour upgrade for someone!


Once she was satisfied the Hot Spot (1) was empty, she used her binoculars to Inspect the objective. 


Movement! Humanoid forms. For a moment, she feared Rad Ghouls or worse lurked there. Then a mottled, rotting face came into clear view for an instant. She'd never been more glad to see a zombie rather than something that wouldn't look out of place in hentai tentacle porn. 


"Looks like a swarm of zombies close by, boss," she told Maks over the TacCom.


"OK, here goes ..." His first stone missed. The second didn't. Sure enough a horde of zombies shambled around the corner of a building... right towards Nastya!

"$#!% boss!!!" she eyed the approaching shamblers nervously. 


"Get out of there Nastya! Move your ass!!!"


"Going ... gone!!!" She scrambled back behind a concrete tank trap.


+ + +


Xenia had just finished clearing her jammed rifle when she heard the exchange over the TacCom. She looked up. The zombies were well within grenade range so she prepped a grenade and tossed it at them. It fell short! Even as the curses came out of everyone's mouths, the grenade bounced against a nearby concrete barrier and landed smack in the middle of the zombies!


When the smoke cleared, two were still shambling towards Nastya. 


Dammit! Those things were tough! Xenia pulled out another grenade but before she could pull the pin, an explosion blew the remaining zombies to bits.

She looked up to see Sveta's cheery wave. 


+ + +


Atop her building, Sveta turned around to look at the untriggered Hot Spot below her. A long look. "More zombies!" She spat. 


"Right. You know the drill. Be careful." That last bit was unnecessary ... but that was Maks. 


Sveta's bolt toss was good and it got the attention of the zombies all right. They headed towards her and started climbing up. 


Thankfully the mindless shamblers weren't able to make much headway as their rotting brains couldn't work out how to climb a featureless wall with no handholds. Instead, they turned with unerring instinct towards ...

"Bozhemoi..." Sveta whispered. "NASTYA!!!!!"


TURN 4


Preoccupied with the objective through her binoculars, Nastya was oblivious until a loud scream finally got through.


"...STYAAAA!!!!!"


She turned around... just in time!


"Gaaaahhhh...!!! Get these &@%#!!!@ off me!!!" Her rifle whipped up just as a zombie tried to wrap its hands around her throat. 


Maks was too busy prepping a grenade to reply. 


Nastya's ears were deafened by the resulting explosion. 


After the smoke cleared ... "Oh %#$!!!" Two of the resilient undead were still standing. Including the one who was still trying to strangle Nastya. 


"Sveta!"


"On it, boss." The redhead cooly took aim into the crazed melee just down below her. She took a breath... and squeezed the trigger. The zombie dropped!


One down. One more to go. 


She shifted aim. Took another breath. 


The second zombie dropped!

"Thanks love!" Nastya blew Sveta a kiss. She returned it with a grin. That zombie spawn thing was partly her doing if not exactly her fault. It was good that she could clean up the mess after all. 


"&@#!$ Maks...!"


Sveta's head whipped around. There was a pulsating blue glow where Xenia's last position was. 


"It's OK girl... you can do it..."


Xenia steadied herself, reached into the glow... and drew out a...


"Those mad boffins at the Institute will pay a pretty ruble for that one," Maks said with a grin in his voice. 


Xenia took a shuddering breath and jauntily waved back. She carefully stowed the glowing artefact that writhed before her eyes inside her pack and moved forward, rifle on the alert for anything. 


TURN 5


Now that things had more or less gone back to normal, Nastya made her way towards the objective. 


Xenia winked as she passed by then slowly backed away but otherwise kept her eyes and weapon at the ready, poised for trouble. 


Nastya searched the plinth. Besides being big, Nikolai was as advertised: stupid. This thing was the first place anyone would look for a stash! She got what she was looking for: a very official looking key card. Along with some other goodies. A Molotov Cocktail, a gas mask and a med-kit. 


"Got it!" She waved to Maks who moved closer to the building's edge. 


"Move back, Nastya!" He held a large piece of rubble in his hand. 


"You don't have to tell me twice, boss!" She scrambled back out of the way and Maks threw the rubble at the last remaining Hot Spot. It flew past and rattled against the side of a building, sending a swarm of feral mutated giant rats straight at Nastya!


"@&#%!! it! Why me?!"


Nastya watched in disbelief as Maks' grenade flew overhead, bounced against the concrete barrier and exploded harmlessly beyond the pack. 


Her mouth opened but before she could say anything else another explosion tore the pack apart. 

"I keep telling you, boss ... pull the pin then count to three before you throw." Even over the crackling TacCom Nastya could hear the grin in Xenia's voice. 


Maksim's reply was short and ... really, Xenia wasn't equipped, anatomically speaking, to do what Maksim was so graphically suggesting she do to herself. Nastya giggled a little hysterically. It had been that kind of day. She saw Xenia strolling towards the Hot Spot, rifle at the ready. 


"Hey, save that one for me!" 


Before she could take a step forward, Sveta's voice came over the TacCom.


"Oh %$#!! Maks..."


"Anomaly?"


"£&#%! Yes!"


"Be careful, you need to ..."


Nastya couldn't see the explosion. She didn't have to. "Sveta!!!"


She wasn't sure whose throat that cry came from. 


Her legs wouldn't move! Dammit! Nastya dragged herself around by main force of will. Sveta needs me!


Just then, a welcome voice buzzed in her ear. 


"You ... better buy me a better set of armour if you want me to... ugh!... play around with Anomalies, Maks. Mine's... blown to bits."


Nastya heard the pain in Sveta's voice but was thankful her friend was all right. 


"'Veta..."


"I'm ... alright Maks. Niechevo."


"Well... get your ass back here then!" Nastya could hear the relief and concern behind the gruff voice. As always, Maks could be ... 


She shook her head...


TURNS 6 & 7


... and made her way to Hot Spot (3). 


"Xenia... move back from there!"


"Oh thanks a lot boss! You suck!" Nastya threw an annoyed look at her crew leader perched up on the top of the building behind her. 


"Dushka... I nearly had a heart attack with Sveta. I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't look after you all as best I can."


Xenia shrugged apologetically and trudged back towards Maks. 


Nastya gave Maks the finger then set to work. OK, some normal salvage... and ... "&@#!!!"


"Nastya!!!"


"I got it, boss." Nastya carefully stored the salvage in her pack. Then took out the Detector that she'd salvaged from the previous mission. The readings were ... well, not exactly reassuring, but they were as good as it got when dealing with anomalies.


She took a deep breath and cleared her mind. Her hand moved forward... there was a tingling sensation... there was... or was not ... it was hot ... no, cold...! 


She pulled her hand back and opened her eyes. How could something so odd look so nearly-normal? An old analog alarm clock with a swirling blue pattern where the clock face should be. 


"Bozhemoi Nastya! Good work... now get out of there! I can see movement in the buildings in front of you."


"On it, boss!"


Nastya hopped down off the ammo crate and made her way back, keeping to cover as best she could. Soon she could hear harsh voices and saw four vague shapes moving in the debris across the courtyard from where she was. 

More bandits! She threw a look behind her. Maks was already slipping down the building. Xenia and Sveta had already melted into the shadows. 


Nastya offered a prayer to St. Dismas, patron saint of those who worked in the fringe of the law like herself. All was well. The job was done. And there would be no more fighting today. 


She carefully made her way back to re-join her crew. 


AAR: I'm not sure whether having the Zone Hostile spawns attack Big Nik's crew is according to the rules or not, but that was so thematic and fun! Makes for a great TV episode (if such a thing exists).


Having the armour saves now makes it uncertain whether I can wipe out the Zone Hostiles before they can activate and attack my crew. Very tense!


I'll try rolling on a d6 instead of a d10 for the random bandits next time.


A very fun game, and I'm looking forward to the final mission of this mini campaign. I will probably make enough to retire by the end of the 3rd mission if things go according to these last 2 missions.


Note: Grenades are sooooooo important when dealing with Zone Hostiles. Even when you miss, thanks to the blast radius, there's still a chance to catch them at the edge of the blast. And you can likely finish off the blast survivors with your main weapons once the armour saves are done.


Hope you liked the narrative style for this batrep. Let me know if you prefer this, or a more straightforward turn by turn blow by blow type of report.


Comments