Prologue

Radiochemical Company: Zero Point

 An Unofficial S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Novel

 by  Jason Unruhe

Prologue


“Does the sky look greyish pink to you?”

            Nadovev turned back to look at Arkady who had suddenly stopped following the group. He stood almost motionless staring up at the sky. His body waved back and forth slightly as he attempted to keep a correct posture while staring up at the sky.

            “What?” Nadovev asked.

            “I said, does this sky look greyish pink to you?” Arkady continued to stare at the sky using his left hand as a shield against a sun that wasn’t quite peaking through the grey clouds.

            Nadovev sighed looking over at his inexperienced companion and his fresh new, relatively clean fatigues. “There isn’t another emission predicted for another two days.”

            Nadovev was fairly certain that was what he heard during their stop at the last Stalker camp. At least he thought that’s what he’d heard. He couldn’t really be sure, he was pretty tired at that moment, not really listening. They’d been walking for at least three days now, trying to reach their destination in decent time. Their goal was to reach the client’s meeting place on time. Twice now they’ve had to make a detour in order to avoid anomalies.

            Looking back a second time he noticed Arkady was continuing to stare at the sky in anticipation of an emission. No matter how many times he turned his head in that half circle, he continued to see nothing. His brow wrinkled in concentration as though if he focused enough he’d be able to see through time and space to the next outburst by the Zone.

            The new guy was a terribly nervous man. Nadovev wasn’t sure if it was just his inexperience, or if there was some kind of character flaw that would end up making him a liability in the Zone. Arkady thus far had proven to be jumpy when it came to travelling at night. It wasn’t too surprising, travelling in the Zone at night was a nerve-wracking experience. The problem was that he had a habit of wasting middle of the road ammunition on shadows. Nadovev was getting tired of his wasteful ways and was planning on having a word with him in private about it.

            “Stop staring at the sky and start moving again.” Nadovev altered his tone to express his annoyance at Arkady’s nonsense.

            Arkady took his eyes off his fruitless search and broke out into a trot to catch up with the rest of the squad. The number one priority right now was making it to the client’s contact point on schedule. It was a schedule that was becoming increasingly more difficult to keep. His nervousness about emissions was not helping them at all.

            The Zone was not a safe place for a man to begin doubting himself. He was far too busy with trying to stay alive. If you lost focus on the path ahead of you, it would be easy to fall into an anomaly and die. The Zone was not for the weak and the timid. It was a place for the strong and viciously ambitious. It was a place for cutthroats and soulless profiteers. One had to be made of stuff harder than steel to survive out in the Zone. You had to have a killer instinct, a certain proclivity and familiarity with danger… and that was just to survive the people around you, never mind the environment itself.

            No, it was not a place for the timid.

            Flashlight Nadovev, the leader of the group, had his eyes peeled for any sudden movement. In this area of the