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Metro: Beyond

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Coming to the surface was always accompanied by a set of feelings for Elenya. Gut wrenching, sweat-inducing, heart hammering; the fear always welled up inside her when she neared the surface. She would check and recheck her mask to ensure the straps were properly done, check to see if her filter was screwed on all the way and that his watch was working. Her fingers would dance along the pouches on her belt, reaching in blindly to fumble with whatever was inside to ensure it had not disappeared or fallen through a hole that suddenly appeared. The rifle in her hands would click and clack as she pulled out the magazine, gazing at the shoddily crafted bullets within before returning it to its slot. The firing pin would be pulled back once, twice, maybe even three times to ensure there was in fact a bullet loaded and more that could be loaded should she find herself squeezing the trigger with all her might. Hopefully there would be no need for that, but that fear always made her think that there could be. Fear was good, though. Fear kept you aware, and being aware kept you alive. She always welcomed it when it came and held on to it. 

 

After the fear always came the nostalgia. It was strange to only half-remember the world before it was blown to shit again and again until all that was left was a desolate wasteland plagued by monsters. Elenya would feel a thrum of excitement at feeling the rays of sun - filtered through grey skies of radiation or not - upon her body. Every time she marched up the steps of the nearest subway exit she could feel himself wanting to run out and look for those towering green trees that lined the street. Her mind would create facsimiles of the people she knew, all dressed in clothes not rotted from the passage of time or covered in the grime one always seems to accumulate from living underground. She would picture cars driving down the streets, honking their loud horns at each other as their engines roared with the push of a pedal. It was easy to imagine when birds flew in the sky instead of demons, when humans walked dogs on a leash instead of humans fleeing from watchers.

 

Of course, that nostalgia was immediately replaced by a sadness. Her boots would scrape against the topside, aged and cracked asphalt broken into chunks separated by cold hard-packed earth and reality would come crashing down. There would be no smiling faces of neighbors waving hello, no sounds of children running with little regard for etiquette and rules; instead there was only an acute awareness of the world around him. 

 

No more time to think of things that once were.

 

Elenya pulled out an old map, the browned paper crinkling softly under her gloves as she unfolded it. Each surface trip he focused on a certain area to pick through. Last time it was inner city, this time it would be the Dead City. A certain risk level came with coming to this area, more so than other places. Stalkers would whisper about strange happenings here. They would warn everyone to stay away lest they lose their minds to whatever force made this zone perilous to traverse. More than once he had been called crazy for daring to visit for anything, though Elenya had a sneaking suspicion that the reason for these rumors were less about ghosts from the war and more about what there was to scavenge. Spread enough horror stories and it would lessen the people you had to contest with for the treasures that had been left behind. 

 

There were a few items on her list this time around, the usual "anything useful", medicines, preserved foods, tools, weaponry, gear, and something unique. That last one was technically not on the list but it was something Elenya was always interested. Relics of the past that told stories of the beings that lived before the mess of this world were, to her, things to be treasured beyond bullets or a fresh pair of pants. She considered what she might find within these ancient-feeling halls, carefully picking his way down the street. It was a slow process, moving from cover to cover. There were always things to keep an eye out for and it was those who rushed that never made it back home. Elenya took her time, preferring the ritual of attentive travel. Anything was preferable to fighting for your life, best to avoid a situation all together.

 

A few hours later Elenya made it to the neighborhood she had circled on his map. The broken windows leered at her from the towering buildings. With unease she gazed at them as she crossed the street. It was equally oppressive and freeing for her to enter into a building like this. At least she would be sheltered from the openness of the streets, but Elenya could never shake the feeling that someone  or something would always be lurking around every corner. Quietly she entered through a doorway that had long since lost its door. From within her mask he gazed outward, reaching for her flashlight and flicking it on. The beam of light illuminated particles in the air as she shined it around the entryway. Her father had told him of how these buildings contained dozens of families all at once, and they stacked them higher and higher to accommodate the sheer number of people in the city.


"The whole station could live here, each of us with our own room even." 

 

The sound of her own voice startled her and suddenly Elenya felt the need to press herself up against a wall. She squatted behind a counter that faced the doorway, with the stairs to his left. There she listened, straining for even the smallest of creaks or groans. 

 

Edited by Juli
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@Juli

For a while nothing came, Vasily was about to get back up and go but then he began to hear the familiar sounds of boots on gravels and glass outside of the building....then came the voices. One old but confident, muffled by a gas mask. Another one younger. 

"You know I still think you're crazy for coming back right?" Grischa asked as Mikhail lead them through the neighborhood. It had been about six weeks since he was last in The Dead City, back then he had gone alone, and it nearly cost him his life, if it wasn't for those Rangers who happened to pass through.

"I know." Mikhail replied. "But the pickings are getting slim back home..." He began to explain.

"So come back to the most dangerous part of Moscow?" Grischa asked.

"And sometimes the most profitable, as you know." Mikhail retorted and glanced around at the soviet era buildings surrounding them, secretly praying he would run into any of the horrors that plagued his last expedition to this place.

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A portion of the building, they might eventually find, had caved in, and the corner was dark enough that without a light, nothing could be seen. Svetlana had no business there; in fact, she was supposed to be repairing weapons, making sure they were properly cleaned and oiled after use, but those that went above simply were not bringing back enough oil. Or if they were, she wasn't seeing any of it and thus wasn't able to do her job. Perhaps she'd be scolded--not being at the station meant a lack of production--but in the end, she'd have done what was necessary. Only, Svetlana didn't foresee the trouble she'd get herself into.

She lay under the debris, unable to free herself. Unaware as to whether her gear was punctured, she was terrified. The woman heard footsteps up above. Several more than she expected, actually. She drew her lower lip into her mouth, digging her teeth into it. A moment later she grimaced as her mind raced. Screaming might get her help, or it might be her death. She didn't know what kind of people were in the apartments above, just as she didn't know how sturdy the upper floors were. She'd fallen from the third, if she remembered correctly, but it was a blurry thought at best. Pain ripped through her right leg, which lay twisted under several beams and bricks. 

If she did nothing though, she'd die too. And more painful, agonizing death. It was a choice she had to make, and she had to do so quickly. She tried to shove some of the rubble of of her, but all she did was succeed in sending a few bits of broken wood and clay away from her. If that's what bricks were even made of. It was enough to make a noise though. And then, deciding whatever fate that alerting the others of her presence might take, she took a chance and cried out.

"Help!" 

Her voice sounded muffled, weak. The mask didn't help. She struggled again, managing to pull some of the smaller bits off. It hurt like hell, though She drew a few long breaths, blinking away the stinging sensation that bit at the back of her eyes. Svetlana didn't want to cry, but she also, more than anything, didn't want to die. She valued life, even if she didn't have the best living situation. Someday though, she'd make it to Polis. Her fingers curled around a decent sized rock and she hurled it as hard as she could at the wall. If they didn't hear her yell, then certainly that would get their attention!

"Please, help me!" Or put me out of my misery, she lamented.

@Juli @AnOriginalAccountNam

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Okay, that definitely was not Elenya's voice. She waited for the scratches, for the clawing of the monsters to come towards the voice shouting for help. A sharp crack of something against a wall and once more the girl dove behind the counter. It was only a matter of time now, for her and whoever was dumb enough to call out for help. A few seconds passed by while Elenya was having a very serious internal debate here. On one hand, someone had shouted "Help!" and not "I'm a nazi-bastard!" or "No don't worry, definitely okay with dying!". On the other hand, she was definitely not wanting to be here in the coming moments. 

 

"Fuck, shit, balls, damned stupid conscience!"

 

Elenya ran out from behind the counter and deeper into the building, looking for stairs. There was a desperation in the way she ran helter-skelter down corroded hallways with door after door closing off a world of possibilities behind them. She skidded to a halt when two figures entered the building from another side. Through the mask fogging from her breathing it was impossible to tell who it was and Elenya's instincts kicked in. What was visible to her was the hulking figure of a man who more than likely could kick her head in. Her eyes darted to a faded image of a person running down a stairwell with an arrow pointing at it and Elenya moved. She tore down the hallway, taking steps three at a time before finally just jumping off and landing on the lower platform. This was where she had heard the bang. 

 

Rounding a corner the girl's eyes alit upon a few different doorways. One was blocked by debris, another the door had swollen and jammed itself in the frame. The last was open, and there she could hear the heavy breathing of whoever had called out. Elenya grabbed her rifle and held it carefully in her hands. This was never the part she liked and she sent a silent prayer to whatever godly deity might listen that this would not end in a hail of gunfire. Vasya was the one who was good at these kinds of things, not her. She peeked once around the corner and pulled back in anticipation of a shot. When none came, the girl squatted lower and aimed her flashlight towards the figure trapped under a cave-in. It was a woman, her blue eyes shining in the stream of light that Elenya quickly moved from her eyes. 

 

"Are you still alive?"

 

She called out quietly, not wanting to alert the figures above to their exact location. Elenya stepped into the room to try and assess the situation. She could feel her heart hammering inside of her chest, the sweat dripping down her neck that sent a shiver through her body. There was zero chance of her being able to pull this person out of the cave-in alone. Her father had always joked about her noodle arms barely being able to turn the wrench alone and why was that thought popping into her head right now? Elenya pushed it out and refocused herself.

 

"I'm going to try and get you out, just uh...Don't move maybe, or you might get crushed."

 

Elenya had said it matter-of-factly, her brain swapping to calculations mode. With a fulcrum and something to offset the weight maybe she could lift the collapsed zone just enough to provide some wiggle room for the woman. If there was one thing that the Dead City had in abundance it was dust and rebar. Elenya was able to locate a long steel bar, perhaps once a part of the ceiling structure. She walked over with the bar in her hands and stood just in front of the woman.

 

"Don't cry out, there are other people here and...well I don't know what they want. Okay, three, two, one!'

 

Elenya shoved the bar just alongside the woman's body, careful to not accidentally stab her with it. This far from a station a wound like that could be deadly. She wiggled the bar back and forth quickly to wedge it further and further until she couldn't get it any further. The girl pressed the entirety of her weight upon the bar and grunted with the effort of pushing down. Her hands strained against the metal, boots sliding along the rotting floor of this apartment and finally, a shift! Oh god, was this enough room for the woman to pull herself out? Elenya had nothing more to give, no other strength behind the couple of inches of space she may have created. 

 

@AnOriginalAccountNam @Grimscythe

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Mikhail and Grischa continued on through the city.

"So, a jewelry store?" Grischa asked, somewhat confused.

"What's left of one, but yeah." Mikhail replied, hoping over a pit that had formed in the middle of the road and then Grischa followed after him. They continued on ahead, keeping an eye out for demons. At least Grischa was, Misha had seen enough of the other horrors that inhabited this city to believe in them, and keep an eye out for them as well.

"Why though?" Grischa asked a few moments later as they continued. "They've been picked clean for decades..." The old man began, then a small smirk formed under his gasmask.

"I don't think Katya is that kind of girl..." He muttered and Misha sighed in annoyance.

"What, she's not. Plus, I doubt a ring is necessary with how--"

"Help!" Someone shouted further into the city, cutting Grischa off.

"The fuck?" Grischa muttered, for a moment Misha considered ignoring it. Just another ghost, then it continued and part of it sounded to...alive for the ghosts in this part of the city.

"I think it was...west of here." Misha said.

"You want to check it out?" Grischa asked, looking his rifle over and waiting for his friend to make a decision. Misha nodded.

"Might as well. Come on." The younger man ordered and hurried off in the direction of the shouting. They eventually made their way to a building. Part of it had seemingly collapsed at some point, but the two eventually found a way onto the upper floors by climbing onto a delivery truck and into one of the windows.

"Think it came from a different floor, there's nothing here." Grischa announced. 

"I say we head down first." Misha said, heading for the staircase at the end of the hallway. Both of the stalkers had had plenty of run ins in the Dead City with other factions, the Nazi's especially, and by now both knew how to keep quiet as they moved through the crumbling buildings that made up this undead neighborhood. They inched their way down the steps, trying to stay as quiet as they could. Soon Misha stopped, hearing whispered voices.

"I'm going to try and get you out, just uh...Don't move maybe, or you might get crushed." One of them said, their voice heavily muffled by their gasmask.

"Nazi's?" Misha whispered, and Grischa shrugged his shoulders.

"Only one way to find out..." The old man muttered and checked the safety on his rifle.

Edited by AnOriginalAccountNam
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By time Elenya found Svetlana, the poor woman was panting with labored breath. She'd managed to free her upper body from the rubble, but she wasn't able to clear it from her legs. Svetlana's head swam, dizzy with the loss of blood. Worse, she knew deep down that her suit had been punctured and she worried about whether or not she was being exposed to radiation or some other toxicity in the air. The thought horrified her, but there was nothing she could do. Her head turned, blue eyes peering out from behind the mask and settling on the other woman as she laid back down, exhausted and hopeless.

"It's all wrong," she groaned. If Elenya looked at her face long enough, if she looked past her mask, she might realize that Svetlana's face was familiar, as if they'd crossed paths before--it wasn't exactly impossible, considering both women were from the Red Line. A low groan pulled itself form her lips. Blood and tears stained her face, a rock having struck her head. She wasn't aware of her headwear being torn, nor the blood that oozed from it. Her eyes fluttered and drifted closed, her head turning to the side.

"It hurts," she whispered, almost inaudibly. She could hear shouting from up above, more people--men from the sound of it--coming in their direction. She prayed they weren't someone that was going to kill them; Svetlana didn't want to die. She wanted to get to Polis and start her own life. Perhaps even meet someone. There were things she desired, things that would help her cope with the state of the world, but they weren't hers right now. She forced her eyes opened, turning her head to look at Elenya again. Her features looked drained, and the tiredness that came with encroaching death whitened her already ashen features. "Please... Stop it. Stop the... the pain...."

She shoved herself up suddenly, finding one last bastion of adrenaline within her small body. Her hands clawed at the rocks, gloves already torn and warn through from dragging against ragged edge of brick. Her fingers bled, but she managed to push another medium sized chunk of concrete off of her. Then came a loud groaning noise, as if the building had developed its own voice and ached--no yearned--to be free of the its molding. The concrete and bricks shifted, more rolling downward from the collapsed ceiling. The chunks that were crushing her legs shifted, digging deeper into flesh and finding more bone.

"Aaaaah!" she cried out, the force of her scream ripping through the air as she reached desperately for Elenya. "Do you... have a gun? I don't... I don't... want to go like this... please!" Tears rolled down her cheeks, gathering inside the mask.

@Juli @AnOriginalAccountNam

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Both men continued to silently debate going down to the lower levels, but upon hearing Svetlana scream, Misha internally said screw and began to hurry down the steps, his rifle raised, waiting for any possible threats once he got down there.

"Wait!" Grischa whispered loudly, then sighed in annoyance, following the younger stalker down the stairs, all the way down to where Svetlana and Elenya where. Soon the men found them.

"What the hell's going on?" Misha asked loudly once he was at the foot of the stairs. He didn't see any Nazi's like he had feared, but two people, one trapped under ruble. 

"What happened?" Misha asked again, beginning to slowly make his way over. He doubted this was some kind of an ambush but he still kept himself ready for anything just in case.

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Posted (edited)

Elenya was struggling with all her might to free the woman, only to cause even further damage. Panic flashed across her face as Svetlana groaned out in pain, begging for her end to be brought swiftly. Elenya could feel her body shaking with adrenaline and fear at the situation. Her hand briefly hovered over the pistol at her side when the girl asked about it. No, there was no way in hell that she would put a bullet in this girl's head. That was way too morbid for her, there had to be something she could do.

"I'm not going to shoot you, you're still alive. Hold on, just let me-"

Elenya was shifting around to try and find a better position to work from when her hands pulled away from Svetlana wet, coated in blood. The sight of the woman's life force decorating her gloves in such a macabre fashion. There was absolutely no way Elenya would be able to put her pistol to this head and pull the trigger. The only option was to figure out how to free her. 

"Listen to me, once we get you out of here I can take you to my brother. He's a doctor."

Svetlana didn't have to know right now that her statement wasn't exactly true. Anything to give her hope to keep her conscious. Elenya pulled free one of her emergency bandages and gauze and pressed it against the wound on Svetlana's head, gently. Slowly she wrapped it around her head to keep pressure applied. 

Elenya froze when Misha loudly exclaimed and her brain fired on all cylinders. Let go of the wound and let it keep bleeding freely or reach for her gun? Against all sensibilities she spoke.

"I don't know what happened! I found her like this and I think her legs are crushed underneath. I can't pull her out."

Elenya turned with a pleading look to Mikhail and quietly spoke.
"She's lost a lot of blood."

 

@Grimscythe @AnOriginalAccountNam

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@Juli @Grimscythe

Misha and Grischa exchanged looks for a moment before Misha gave a sighed and slipped his rifle over his shoulder and walked over to the two women.

"You're wanna help them?" Grischa asked, walking over. His rifle was lowered now, but still ready to fire at any moment.

"Yes." Misha said, more so like an order than a reply and Grischa, without a word came closer and then giving a small shrug slid his rifle onto his own back. By now Misha had crouched down in front of the girl under the rubble, trying to thinking of what to do.

"It's not exactly all in one piece....but all of us should be able to pull this off of here." He explained then looked down at the girl.

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Svetlana's eyes, a bright, sky blue, remained fixed on Elenya, even as the other men showed up. At this point, if they were hostile, then Svetlana would be perfectly happy to greet them and, hopefully, die by their hand. It was a different hope from what Elenya had, but when they reached the two women and lowered their weapons, the woman under the rubble was disappointed. She'd seen the other woman consider shooting her for a moment, considering whether or not to fulfill her wish. When Elenya chose not to and spoke, there was a sadness in Svetlana's eyes.

"I don't think I'll make it," she murmured, but she tried to smile. Tried to let the gesture seep into her voice, but she failed. The pain had grown numb by now, and it didn't hurt quite as much as it had before. Maybe dying this way wouldn't be so bad. She heard, but didn't quite comprehend Misha's acknowledgment that together, they could likely dig her out of the debris, but when they began to work on it, the three of them would be more than enough, even for the largest bit of concrete piled onto her.

The closer they got to the rubble directly on her body, the more blood that became visible, and when they finally cleared it off the young woman, they'd see that her legs were completely crushed. Bone, sinew, blood, and more lay beneath her. The pressure of the detritus being removed reignited the pain Svetlana felt as cool air rushed over the wounds. She cried out, but there were no words among those cries.

Her chest heaved as she drew in lungfuls of air, unaware that it might very well be poisoned. Her hands reached not for the men, but for Elenya--she was the first one that had arrived, and she had a brother that was a doctor. She felt the smallest rays of hope dawn within her.

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@Juli @Grimscythe

"Oh Jesus Christ..." Grischa muttered looking at the woman's legs, or what was left of them...He moved closer to Misha.

"I don't think all of her will be coming back with us..." He whispered, while Misha's face was hidden under a gas mask he looked in shock at the legs and then angrily back to Grischa.

"Shut up." He told him.  "let....let me just think..." He said. Maybe they could tie them together, make tourniquets or a stretcher...something, just not that. Part of him internal shuddered at the idea of amputation. Especially out here. Grischa sighed in annoyance while Misha pulled out some bandages from a pouch on his side and as Grischa continued began to figure how to best wrap what was left of Svetlana's legs up in them.

"I don't see any other options, Misha. Look at them!" He ordered. "It's not like we can work on them out here, look at us, all of us. Covered in the grim and shit of this place, if doesn't have an infection in them now she would if we worked on her. "You're just gonna make it worse!"

"Shut up!" Misha yelled then looked at Elenya. "You, help me. Come on, we gotta get her legs wrapped, stop as much bleeding as we can!" He said quickly.

"Misha, there's not much we can do for them!" Grischa said again, trying to get his friend to see reason, to accept the situation for what it was, even if it was horrible.

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