Scientists continue experiments with high-energy heavy-particle accelerators. Once this leads to the formation of microscopic sizes black holes, which decay create discontinuities in the structure of space-time. World shaken by subsequent disasters...
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The government troops sent to the Zone found themselves cut off from the mainland, due to the recent outburst of the anomalous activity. Disrupted communication, mutants, marauders -- all that makes the sergeants seek assistance from the stalkers. Recruits with military backgrounds are especially valued for their skills with firearms.
The Assaulter is the cornerstone of the strike forces, specializing in quick seizure of the key town districts and further clearance of the mutants. An Assaulter will be an expert in firearms, wearing assault armor, strong and quick enough, ready to handle any situation.
The Sniper is mobile and strong, always in the shade, in the back, providing coverage. The enemy will not even know where the bullet came from.
The Commando is an expert in heavy weapons and reinforced armor. Dubbed "walking tank", he will cover his friends with his own body, taking the enemy's shots or slaughter everyone around with his trusted machine gun.
Doctors in the Zone are honored and appreciated. People will seek a doctor's assistance, be it heavy wounds, mysterious diseases or mutant bites, as their last resort for survival in the cruel world. Most illnesses cause by the anomalies, are still unresolved mysteries for the mainland medicine, which frequently results in official scientific medical expeditions to the Zone, as well as private medical investigations.
A Doctor will be proficient in pharmacology and personal protection equipment. He will be able to defend himself, while staying away from active fighting. His lot is to treat the wounded and save the ailing from death grip.
Indispensable Handymen, capable of assembling anything from makeshift materials at hand: from automatic rifles and grenades to armor and elaborate gear. Alien engineers have no idea what to expect from the Zone but they are very well prepared, both in making new things and in disassembling broken equipment to get valuable components.
A universal Handyman knows a little bit of everything. He is a can-do person, but in the Zone he may lack some purely practical skills. However, for each new problem a universal handyman will offer a couple of plausible solutions, one of which is bound to work.
People who come to the Zone for the sake of science, are extremely courageous and smart. They will usually need support in fighting immediate danger, be that mutants or robbers, but in future it is the scientists who will discover new methods of fighting the anomalous activity. Due to the specifics of their profession, they are not too eager to use thick clothing and burdening armor. Their gear of preference is costumes protecting from various hazardous effects.
The Theoretician is a former "armchair scientist" who strives to prove to the colleagues(and to the rest of the world) certain assumptions about the nature and character of the Zone that only he can understand. Genuine desire to uncover the truth and a healthy scientific interest have enabled him to overcome the fear before the dangers which any stalker is bound to face. Obviously, the Theoreticial will seek support from the military men or from the private hired guards, otherwise he will have to rely only on the "Pistols for Dummies Crash Course" and on his unprecedented knowledge of chemistry.
The Mutants of the Zone are not protectes as endangered species, which attracts crowds of professional hunters. These people don't have military gear to the extent of the army soldiers or private mercenaries, but they are well familiar with the behavior of wild animals and able to find, catch, kill and skin a mutant. Some of them can walk miles and miles into the depth of the Zone, keep an impressive stock of supplies and can carry heavy loads to great distances, efficiently using the available space in the backpack.
Mutant hunters seldom care about politics or the balance of powers in the Zone. They are believers, almost romantics, fascinated by the very prospect of fighting dangerous beasts, unknown to scientists. They are not ideally fit for the coming overloads, but they adapt quickly.
The "druid" is the name that the army men used to call the local herbalists, not even suspecting that soon this offensive nickname will become a proud term for a whole profession. When the aliens faced mutants and anomalies, it turned out their doctors could not handle the mysterious illnesses and weird wounds. The druids have no special medical education, but in the Zone their experience, intuition and knowledge of folk medicine prove more useful and reliable than the traditional method.
The Witch Doctor is a self trained doctor who learned to treat illnesses and wounds inflicted by the dangers of the Zone. The Witch Doctor relies on his own experience and on the knowledge he received from his ancestors, as well as faith and intuition. His strength is medicinal herbs, plants, making infusions and cataplasms.
When bandits or the alien army starts "bullying" a viilage, the villagers will call their warriors for help. However, during the years of fighting the aliens and the mutants, the natives were deprived of most of their territories, and their warriors got scattered all over the Zone. Now, when a relatively peaceful time of cooperated research came, many prefer to join the government army or the mercenaries. The Warriors may be not too comfortable with modern warfare, but their quick thinking and stamina are truly impressive.
Warriors prefer to attack head-on, their choice is a submachine gun and assault armor. A few years ago they were in the vanguard of an improvised militia of the natives, which fought the first wave of the mutants. Little has changed in their character since. They are still aleays ready to drink, have a fight, be it for greater purposes or "just for the hell of it".
The Defenders were people of honor, trusted and respected in their villages. When they were no longer able to handle the mutants, many left homes and are currently living in the streets of Lubech or walk the Zone, seeking revenge for all the troubles their people faced. The Defenders are learning to use rifles and reinforced armor. They are not as tough as they seem, but they hardly feel any exhaustion until they fall dead.
When mutants threatened the village, the villagers would send out the Pathfinders. The well trained native hunters would trace and bait the beasts luring it away, to the depth of the Zone, or killing and cutting it up, if the village needed supplies. Frequent walk to great distances teach the Pathfinders to use the available space in the backpack with maximum efficiency, and their easily developing ability to carry heavy loads can only be envied.
The Mutant Slayer learns to see what parts of the carcass are most valuable for sale and collecting, what can be safely eaten and what will be most impressive as a trophy. His remarkable health and stamina frequently get mentioned in the stalker legends, songs and anecdotes.
The native Inventors leared long ago that the Zone gives no useless things, any junk may prove useful and save one's life at a certain moment. They are not that familiar with the aliens' instruments and gear, but they are unmatched in everyday economy: they quickly learn to mend and patch up almost any item of clothing.
The Mechanics focus on knowledge and skills that will definitely be needed in the Zone: making devices and ammo out of makeshift materials, searching for armor components... Unlikely to succeed in the Mainland, they will definitely make a living here, inside the Perimeter.
Some rural school graduates have tried to understand the Zone based on rationality, not faith. They lack theoretical knowledge, but their empirical knowledge base would be priceless for any alien PhD.
A Natural Research Scientist possessing a vast base of empirical knowledge, as well as skilled in practical use of the Zone's objects and phenomena, in particular - learning methods of creating and using artifacts.
Over 40 kilometers of the unknown, from abandoned cities to secret facilities, from the forests of Tunguska to the snow deserts of Terra Nova.