This is a short fiction based on the game Escape from Tarkov from Battlestate Games.
Fuck this place, and fuck Terragroup for bringing us here. It’s been a week since the fall, and five days since Lieutenant Schaefer took a Russian bullet to the face. Our unit was supposed to be guarding some stockpile of medical equipment on the docks south of the city. Wait for a boat to come get the goods, and take us back to the States were our orders. BEAR got there first, then the scavs showed up. The five of us barely made it out alive. Now, holed up in some damp basement in the middle of Norvinsk, I have to figure out how to get these men home, or at least out of Tarkov.
“Here,” I tossed a box of ammo at Archangel when I got back to the stinking hole we called home. Outbreak and I had gone out to scout around and see what we could scrounge up. We’d only made it out with what we had on our backs. Not enough food, ammo, or meds.
“F.M.J. boss?” Archangel shook the half-empty box of rifle ammo with a look of disgust on his face.
“It will have to do,” I said. “We didn’t run into an ammo depot out there.”
Archangel shook his head, but started to load the rounds into his depleted mags. His R700 leaned against the wall behind him, clean and polished better than most men kept up with their own hygiene.
“Find any meds, Sarge,” Two-time asked. He was sorting the few items remaining in his med bag. I nodded to Outbreak.
“Here,” Outbreak tossed a couple sealed bandage packs and a bottle of painkillers to him. The field medic sighed, but tucked the supplies into his bag.
“Anything for me, Wizard?” Puncher asked. He was a big man, taller and broader than the rest.
“Not this time, Punch,” I said. Puncher returned to cleaning and checking his newfound RPK, a Russian light machinegun he’d managed to pick up after he’d lost his own USEC issued weapon at the docks.
“Did find some matches,” Outbreak said, pulling an old barrel out of the corner of the basement. He tossed in a few pieces of the wood debris lying around. He got a fire going in the barrel, which brought some welcome warmth and light to the dank cellar.
“What’s the plan, boss,” Archangel asked as he moved closer to the barrel to warm his hands.
“I have a lead on someone that might be able to get us some supplies but we have to prove ourselves first,” I looked around at the four men standing by the fire.
“Prove ourselves,” Puncher growled and spat into the fire, “To some Ruskie yokel?”
“Yes, he wants assurance that we’re worth his time. He doesn’t know us from Adam,” I said.
“Does he know a way out?” Two-time picked up his M4 and slung it over his shoulder, ready to get to whatever needed doing.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I asked, and all I got from his middle-man was that Norvinsk is locked down tighter than a drum.”
“What’s the job?” Archangel asked.
“Acquisitions,” Outbreak chuckled.
“Seems our man needs more shotgun inventory, and he wants us to go get some,” I explained.
“You barely scrounged up half a box of ammo and a few bandaids, where are we going to find these shotguns?” Puncher growled.
“We’re going to take them,” I said. “Seems the locals have been raiding hunting lodges and farms in the area and taking whatever civilian weapons they can find. We’re going to go find a few and take them back.”
“Take them back?” Archangel was gathering his gear as well. The men were ready, despite their questions.
“Yup,” I nodded. “These scavengers are bandits and thugs, and they’ll shoot you just for your boots, or a candy bar. Putting a few in the ground would do some good.”
The men grabbed their gear, what little they had, and headed for the crumbling stairs that led to the surface.
“Fuck this rain,” Puncher groaned nearby.
Outbreak shushed him and turned back to stare through the trees. I sympathized, as I tried to wipe water off the lenses of the binoculars. It seemed to rain three days out of five in this shithole. I pressed the PTT on the throat mic and whispered, “Archangel, are you in position.”
“Seven tangos, twelve o’clock, one hundred yards from my position.”
“I see em,” Archangel responded. He’d broken off from the squad when he spotted high ground; a blown-out farmhouse with access to the roof from the second floor.
I signaled to Puncher and he moved left to lie in the long grass overlooking the wooded depression where our targets were laughing and drinking around a small fire. Two of the scavs were on watch, but spent more time catching the bottle of vodka that was passing around than watching the surrounding woods. Outbreak stayed put, using a fallen log as cover. I knew Two-time was on my right waiting for the signal.
“On your signal,” I whispered into the mic.
Archangel would take the first shot, which would set the rest into motion. We all waited for our sniper to make his move. It seemed like an eternity but it was only a few heartbeats before one of the scavs slumped over in his seat, and another heartbeat before we heard the telltale sound of a suppressed rifle report in the distance. The scavs jumped to their feet, readying a variety of small arms and searching the trees for their attacker. Their moment of confusion was the signal before all hell broke loose.
Puncher let loose with the RPK in short bursts, which sent the scavs scattering. Four of them, anyway. Two dropped where they stood and the rest of my squad was moving before they hit the ground. I saw Outbreak vault over the log, and heard Two-time rushing through the brush on my right. We advanced quickly through the trees toward where the scavs were taking cover behind the rusting carcass of an ancient tractor. They were firing wildly over and around the old farm equipment. We moved in, using the trees for cover though it was hardly needed.
As we approached the tractor, Outbreak pulled the pin on one of his last grenades and tossed it over the old machine. There was a cry of “granata!” and the scavengers scattered from their cover. Puncher stopped one in his tracks. Three left. The grenade detonated with a heart-stopping thump in my chest just before the sound of the explosion. One wasn’t fast enough. Two left. They turned and fired in our direction as they backpedaled for cover. Two-time dropped another and the last one rabbited off into the trees.
“Archangel?” I keyed up the mic.
There was a pause, then a gurgling scream from the direction the scav had run followed by another muffled rifle report.
“Check and clear,” I ordered. “Take anything we can use, especially ammo and meds.”
The squad spread out, searching the bodies for anything worth taking. I met Outbreak back at the fire.
“Seemed too easy,” Outbreak said, nudging one of the dead scavs with his boot.
“Right where he said they’d be, bag of guns and all,” I nodded to the duffel of shotguns.
“Think they actually picked those up in the houses around here?”
I shook my head. “No, I think we were sent to recover stolen goods, not pick up new stock.”
“I don’t like being an errand-boy for some local thug,” Outbreak spat.
“Neither do I, but we need access to his stock.” I picked up the bag. “Let’s wrap it up boys, before any of their friends come to see what the noise was.”