Friday, November 8, 2013

From the Zones -- Jack Moulsen, Stalker


This fiction fragment is for the From the Zones community project. Though I haven't read Roadside Picnic nor watched Stalkers, the nature of this project intrigues me.

The rules are easy:

  1. create a Zone-inspired item
  2. use any RPG system
  3. post on blog or Google Drive
  4. leave a link on the From the Zone blog post.

I prefer to start with fiction for many of my projects. I'll build a couple things from the fiction for a game later.

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Jack adjusted the respirator mask straps behind his head. The rubber pressed snugly against his face. He pulled the balaclava over the top and flipped up the windbreaker hood. Next came several layers of duct tape on every seam. The rest of the suit was his own design as well, the most noticeable feature of which was the lack of exposed skin. Duct tape protected every joint. Waterproof nylon covered the rest of him. His first incursion into a Zone pointed out gaps that he had corrected.

On his first incursion to the Kenyan Zone, Jack was the only one to get out. Wilson and Nyoro died because their masks didn't seal correctly to keep the toxic fumes out of their lungs. They both drowned in their own bodily fluids. Cohen had most of his thigh bitten off by a gang-lion, a composite creature composed of eighteen different symbiotic subspecies, each performing a function of the whole. At least that's what the Institute scientists had called it. Cohen bled out in a matter of minutes. The last member, Darzhi, had needle worms enter his body through his foot. He had torn through the ankle of his suit on a piece of corrugated metal in the debris field, and the worms were attracted by his blood. Once they entered his bloodstream, it was only a minute or two before they reached his heart. Jack's nightmares were still filled with Darzhi's screams. The only reason Jack got out alive is because he ran, he ran like a little girl and didn't look back. The sackful of artifacts that he came away with was enough to keep him in lamb couscous, beer, and antidepressants for a year in Casablanca. The Institute had been generous, perhaps because of the losses.

Jack took on this incursion after his money ran out. He added the hooded windbreaker and duct tape, after watching Wilson and Nyoro die. This time, two scientists came along -- Nomura and Bakshi. Their expensive hard isolation suits weren't going to protect them any better than his homemade one would, Jack thought.

Seeing the eye-bending planar anomaly rising out of the savannah excited them. It made Jack clench, and he tasted bile. Jack gripped his sub-machine gun tighter. The bulge of his semi-automatic pistol dug into his back. Those were the other additions to his gear: weapons and 100 hours of practice with them. They were for the gang-lion, if it was still there. He frowned behind his mask. 'Would this be my time to die?' Jack wondered.