Alexi Simonov was always a bit of a dreamer, even in the as one might describe in a book he once read, in the grim-darkness that was the metro. However he still managed to retain a good head on his shoulders even despite being a dreamer, that along with combat experience against a few gangs of bandits in the tunnels, a nest of mutants in the northwestern tunnels of the Metro, and being one of the few to able to acclaim the luckiest achievement of all. An escapee from one of Reich's own concentration camps, hidden somewhere in the metro.
For what? A slightly bigger ear on one side of his head, bigger by an inch. Though it was easily explained by it getting nipped by a knife as he was shaving but the border guards in Reich wouldn't be having any explanation of it. To the camp he went, and out he came, he either had an angel on his shoulder or reich's inbreeding was really starting to effect the quality of it's soldiers. Regardless, he was never one to question providence.
But the bigger question as to why he left his home station to travel the metro? He originally left because he had two things to deliver to Polis, a book, and a letter. Now? With all he had been through in his journey to the station he was hellbent on getting there regardless, with one or with the other, thankfully he was able to recover both. Along the way in his multiple stops he learned what he could from weapons dealers, it was originally part of a future plan.
His travelling to Polis would've earned him 100 bullets, maybe more. That would've been enough for him to open his own armoury and start producing weapons, along the way, studying those weapons dealers he managed to recreate blueprints to most every weapon in the metro he could get his hands on. After reaching Polis, he continued taking jobs for a year, saving up every last bullet he could until he got the attention of the Rangers of the Order.
Unbeknown to him, Simonov was tested four times by a couple rangers on his travels after he got the Order's attention. All four times he passed, upon his return to Polis, he was approached by the two rangers and recruited for the Order.
For months he was just an errand boy, getting endless training, though in the end it was worth it. During that time, D6 was found and among most of the personnel left in Polis, he was sent there. Of course this was predictable, with D6 and it's stores found, rumours were abound in the metro that the Order found something, an El Dorado of sorts in the Metro, however instead of gold, it was food, water, ammunition, general supplies which a good portion of factions in the Metro were ready to turn on each other for at a minute's notice in the past for.
Now there was a whole pre-war military complex and the rumours ranged from general supplies to weapons and ammunition. The claim of weapons wasn't far off from the truth, Simonov saw that himself, one storage area had cases of ammunition as far as the eye could see, another held a whole room of tanks and APCs from way back when.
Simonov was more interested in the weapons of course, he managed to get himself issued a Saiga, an RPK-74M, a Kalash, Valve, and a Revolver. He modified the Kalash and managed to get the stock to fold down for easy storage in his pack along with his blueprints he carried religiously with him in a small notebook sealed in two plastic bags, with ten magazines for his Kalash and a few small sacks of spare 5.45 bullets, two magazines for his Valve, both loaded along with a spare bag of 7.62 bullets for said rifle, a couple small bags of .44 Magnum rounds, down at the bottom were ten 12.7mm rounds, lastly ontop were a bag of shotgun shells, on his chest rig he kept five magazines for his RPK-74M and seven magazines of 10 shells.
Further on, on his chest rig he kept two grenades, a lighter, a couple pouches for filters, he carried an additional satchel for filters as well as a few small sacks of 5.45 bullets. Lastly his helmet was customised only minutely with NVG goggles in addition to the built on gas mask that came standard on the helmets. To some of the more experienced ranges he looked a right fool with all that gear, perhaps he was. But what he knew for certain was, one could never. Never have enough ammunition.
Leaving his quarters in D6, Simonov passed through the by where most rangers on their off time congregated, going through the air lock door he passed through the eating area then the quartermaster just to pick up a couple more filters before he met Sam up top at a train, Sam was a former US Marine back before the war, and Simonov's mentor during his recruitment.
"So, Sam, where to now?" Simonov asked as he boarded the train waiting for him.
"We're heading somewhere near Oktyabrskaya. We just got word Artyom and that old ass pirate, Khan, left Oktyabrskaya-Koltsevaya after Artyom was cleared by the docs there, so we'll be seeing where they went." Sam said as the doors of the train shut behind Simonov and he took his seat at the front right while Sam took his seat at the left, the two went back to Polis then hooked up with a caravan heading to Oktyabrskaya-Koltsevaya, the trip took a few hours and they managed to get through Hansa's security to follow the trail as they were shown by some of the security officers to the air lock, Artyom and Khan left through.
"They left through here but the strange thing is there's nothing that way, no way out." A Hansa security officer said as he opened the air lock. "Well clearly that's not true because if there wasn't a way out they would've came back. Well regardless we'll find em." Sam said as the door opened and Simonov was the first through, walking with his gas mask on, Sam followed as he put his own mask on and the door shut behind the two.
"You don't really buy into that bullshit do you? That there's nothing here?" Simonov asked.
"I dunno kid, with Khan involved I'm not entirely sure." Sam asked while he lead the way through the tunnel, turning off the fans one by one as he and Simonov went through.
"If the rumours are right then we should be expecting some freaky otherworldly stuff as we press on." Simonov said as he turned on his NVGs, heading through was looked like an old utility room, the two came out down a pathway, already the corpses of the usual tunnel trash could be seen.
"Well this is definitely the right way." Sam said as he turned on his headlamp, leading the way while Simonov followed.
"Yeah." Simonov agreed while the two found their way through passages lost to time, cobwebs and spiders hung from the ceiling, skeletons and bones laid strewn about.
Soon enough the two came to an old sort of sewer tunnel, one way lead down a path with more cobwebs and the other, it looked like someone ripped the old rusted bars off a grate, next to said grate was affixed a skull and crossbones. "Well isn't that just ominous." Sam said somewhat concerned.
"If you want I can take this way and you can see if there's anything the other way." Simonov suggested.
"Alright, rookie. You go on ahead this way, I'll go see if there's anything back the other way." Sam said as he turned and walked, taking his lighter out, the otherway was filled with nothing but cobwebs. As was the small tunnel the grate lead to, Simonov took out his universal charger and charged his NVGs quickly, setting it back on his utility belt he went in and turned his lighter on, clearing the cobwebs from his way.
It was but a short trip for Simonov, his feet slid out under him and he slid down the tunnel and into water. "Chyort." Simonov said as he regained his footing and went down into the water. He held his RPK-74M up high above his head and continued on, his Saiga almost slipped off his shoulder and as did his Valve but he managed to catch them in time. That was the least of his problems, his night vision went out and he sighed, drying off his lighter he lit it back up again and sighed.
"Join the army they said. See the Metro they said..." Simonov said lowly as he went on, his lighter held up in one hand and his RPK-74M in the other while he walked on into the darkness, ghostly moans, low inhuman growling could be heard, almost enough to make a man on the spot believe in the old religions. Almost.
Simonov continued on going through a tunnel with water almost chest high while he walked, a light flickered on and a telephone started ringing. He just shrugged it off and kept going, something was causing him to become delirious, clearly.
The tunnel turned to brick and lowered slight going down to his waist, he went on despite all sense now telling him to turn back. The tunnel curved to the right and split off to the left at the end, he went down the left and up a ramp, what he saw was inexplicable. As the old saying went "All roads lead to rome", if sewage was rome, this would be it. But... Just what the hell was he looking at?
Simonov jumped down off the ramp and entered the water with a splash, it now was just down to his knees. He stopped and looked back into the darkness behind himself. "Turn back...?" Simonov said as he looked back, then he looked forward. "Or go forward..?" Simonov internally debated it for a minute then he decided aloud. "Forward."
Simonov said in a normal tone of voice, going on while he held his lighter out, going into the light that descended from the ceiling, he walked on and as he entered the centre, felt the floor under him give way.
Simonov fell into a slight panic but he knew, panicking in this situation would help, he continued on, it was as if he was falling in air, his vision changed around him. Simonov saw "everything". Well. Atleast everything from the start of his life, his birth just one year into the metro's existence then he saw everything he did further on but then...
Everything went bright, he felt not the coldness of the water but... Warmth? Not the warmth of breath but, a general heat as if the temperature around him changed, he opened his eyes...
Dirt? No. It was coarse, it was rough. It was like dirt but... No. He knew what it was. It was sand.
Simonov took his pack off and pushed it off to his right as he rolled over onto his left, right onto his RPK which he regretted, rolling back over he moved it and looked up. The sky, it wasn't grey, in fact... There was something odd. It wasn't cold. It wasn't winter, there weren't any snowflakes coming down to bury him, he couldn't hear the howls of watchmen or demons. But he could hear... Chirping? Singing? Singing of birds?
A creature he hadn't seen for himself but in pictures from before the war and yet before his eyes above in the skies, not demons, but birds flew. Simonov sat up and lifted his NVGs then his gas mask, he took a deep breath... Oxygen! Breathable air! He checked his Geiger counter on his wrist, no radiation to speak of save for the usual background radiation!
He stood up and looked around, he saw not snow, not wasteland, but greenery! Living trees, birds! What happened to him? Just where the hell was he? Simonov looked around and in the sand, he picked up his lighter, he flipped the "cap" off and it worked perfectly fine, stowing it away in a pouch he picked up his pack and put it on, then he grabbed his Valve, halfway covered in sand and cleaned it off in the water, along with his Saiga, then his RPK.
Upon further examination he wasn't near an ocean, just a river. He slung his Saiga over his left shoulder then his Valve over the right and picked up his RPK. He then went on into the woods. Now he just had to find civilisation but what he knew for a fact was he didn't need his mask. Though that didn't mean some feral threats like watchmen, lurkers, or demons weren't about. He had to be on his guard. Wherever he was.
Coming to a cliff he found a sight that left him with awe. A city on the coast of... Wherever this was. It was clear. He wasn't in Moscow, let alone the Metro anymore.
Simonov wandered down the cliff and made his way to the outskirts of the city, he put his mask down and slung his RPK over his right shoulder with his Valve, walking through the city he was clearly out of place, earning him some odd looks, but the ranger kept silent while he walked through the city. Finally a scene caught his attention. A brown skinned, green haired woman with red eyes knocked an old man off his ladder and in mid fall took his wallet from him. No one else except for Simonov noticed this as most didn't even stop to look.
Simonov listened closely to the woman asking for directions from the very same man who unbeknown to all but Simonov had just robbed. She got the information and then walked off down the street, disappearing around the corner for a couple minutes she emerged and went down the street with what now appeared appeared to be a young man with silvery-grey hair.
Simonov kept his distance and followed. Then he saw the man turn around infront of emerald and proclaim. "Ooh Emerald! Master thief! Please don-" When it became apparent the two were having something of a slight argument, Simonov ducked off to the side and put his hand on his revolver, cocking back the hammer. Simonov listened as the man cut off his spiel.
"What is it, Mercury?" The woman asked, turning behind herself only to see nothing there.
"We're being followed." Mercury said plainly.
"By who?" The woman asked again, her eyes now fixed on the corner alleyway between two buildings on her side of the street.
"I dunno. I might have just been seeing things, let's keep moving." Mercury said and Simonov let out a breath, he looked around the corner and the two continued on, hooking a left, the two went on. Simonov went down the alleyway and turned the corner, the two passed the alleyway and Simonov quietly made his way to the end of the alleyway, looking around the corner the two went into a building.
The building was labelled in English, a language he learned a bit of from Sam back in the metro. "Tukson's book trade". Simonov walked out of the alley and crossed the street, looking into the shop window he saw the two very same people. "Going to steal from one one else little green one...?" Simonov mumbled under his breath as he left the window and went to the door, opening it he could hear the girl.
"Do you have the thief and the butcher?" The girl asked.
"Yes we do, do you want a copy? Hello sir, I'll be right with you." The man, likely to be Tukson said, the girl with green hair turned around and as did Mercury, looking to the doorway to see the heavily armed ranger, standing there as he pulled the door shut behind him. But what were those weapons he had? And all those pouches? And just what was the knife he had adorned on the left side of his chest with that strange font that adorned the sheathe and the right side of his helmet.
"Be taking your time. I am not in rush." Simonov replied in his heavily Russian accented English while he walked over and perused the books, not entirely familiar with the english language, only the basics. The air was so tense it could be cut with a knife, soon enough the woman and Mercury just left, the owner let out a sigh after they left.
"I dunno who you are but you showed up at just the right time I think." Tukson said to Simonov who lifted his gas mask affixed to his helmet as he approached the counter, showing a rather battered face for a young man about 19.
"Yes I suspected as much when I saw the thief steal from old man. The one with green hair I mean." Simonov said, loosening up.
"You're not from around here are you?" Tukson asked
"No. I am not. I am from the Metro." Simonov said.
"The Metro? Where's that?" Tukson asked with an eyebrow raised, this stranger was seven different types of odd from his own observations.
"It is in Moscow, I am from Prospekt Mira, also known as the Market, I was born in Hanza after the great war." Simonov replied.
"So this Market is in... The Metro? In Moscow?" Tukson replied
"That is correct." Simonov confirmed.
"What is this "Great War" you mentioned?" Tukson asked
"The Great War of 2013, when world war III broke out and nuclear fire rained on the earth. Moscow, much of the world as far as is known is dead, only those who sought security down in the Metro survived the blasts. Though it didn't last long after mutants broke in at some places and began wrecking havoc at some stations." Simonov said.
"Uh... Well... That's..." Tukson didn't know if this stranger was insane or just a good story teller.
"Is there any military organisation nearby that maybe able to help me get back home? I must report to my superiors." Simonov said.
So. This guy is some sort of military guy huh...? Tukson thought to himself, he did just temporarily save him from two people who for what reason why they were there? He could only imagine it was to do with his past, but this guy? This guy was like a fish out of water, he had no idea where he was. He bought him time to run, the least he could do was return the favour.
"What you're looking for is beacon academy. I know what it sounds like but it trains hunters and huntresses, and as of late the Atlas military has been seen around there." Tukson offered as advice.
"If you have a map then I will be able to find my way." Simonov pulled a strange looking map off his belt, it was bound to a leather case, Tukson went in the back and returned with a local map, circling where his store was and where beacon was.
"Here, this will get you where you're going." Tukson handed the map over to Simonov and he put it in the case, looking at his watch then the clock on the wall above the double doors behind Tukson, Simonov adjusted his watch for the proper time which gave him two extra hours to find his way.
"Thank you. As a spartan ranger, I can tell you I will not forget my debt to you for this. If you come back to this place and find me at this Beacon then I will help you in anyway I can." Simonov said before giving a salute to Tukson who was gobsmacked. He didn't know who this stranger was but most weren't so willing to offer help even if they just got it from someone else.
Simonov pulled his mask down then left and Tukson began gathering a few things before he left, closing his shop up for the last time while the ranger walked through the streets, he could feel something or someone shadowing him.
Going down the street, Simonov make random right and left turns until he finally reached an alleyway, he turned into it and got behind a large trash bin, unslinging his Saiga, he slid the safety paddle down on the shotgun and pulled back the charging handle on it as he heard the familiar voices of the green haired, dark skinned woman and Mercury.
"Where did he go? I saw him turn the corner but... I think we lost him." The woman said with a sigh. Nope. Simonov coughed not of his own volition and he internally cursed himself as he did so.
"Nope, he's here." The familiar voice of Mercury came from the same direction as the woman's.
"You're right." The woman said and Simonov sighed as he walked out from behind the trash bin, his Saiga in hand, in plain view.
"What do you want little thief?" Simonov asked in his broken english and the woman laughed while Mercury got a chuckle out of it.
"You cost us a mark. We gotta explain how we lost him and you're gonna be what we take back to Roman." The woman said, Simonov narrowed his eyes at the woman.
"You'll not be getting anything from me. Not mutants nor fucking kids will kill me, little thief." Simonov said as he gritted his teeth under his mask.
"Why do you keep calling me that?" The woman asked innocently
"Because he's been following us since you took that wallet from the old man, Emerald." Mercury said.
"Yes. That." Simonov confirmed.
"I see then even better reason to take you down." Emerald said as she reached behind herself and Simonov turned to the right, shouldering his Saiga he shot a glass bottle sitting on a wooden crate.
The sound was loud enough to be heard from the next bloc over, Emerald and Mercury quickly booked it while the police were heard to be on their way, Simonov picked up his shotgun shell and put it in his satchel with his filters as he also quickly made his way away from the scene, slinging his shotgun over his right shoulder as he fled.
Day turned to night and Simonov got tired of running so he cleared himself a place behind a set of boxes in some alleyway he neared his objective at and made his camp for the night, there was no certainty that the businesses around took Military Grade Ammunition as currency so he just had new bullets he could use on whatever came his way.
Elsewhere in Vale...
Mercury and Emerald walked back to a dark hanger, worked by some men and women in white fang uniforms that were offloading boxes while Roman was off to the side, scheming before he noticed the two's arrival.
"Oh look, she sent the kids." Roman said as he came over and went around the two, hugging them from behind, he quickly stole Emerald's note without her realising. "This is turning out just like the divorce." Roman sarcastically remarked and Emerald shuddered in disgust as Roman let go of the two, quickly taking from Emerald's pocket, her note without her realising it.
"Spare us the though of you two procreating." Emerald said, annoyed.
"That was just a joke. And this will tell me where you two have been all day." Roman said as he flicked the note in between his index and middle finger.
"Wait how did you-" Emerald started before Roman interrupted her.
"I'm a professional sweetheart, pay attention, you might learn something one day." Roman said, sarcastic as ever while he read the note, then afterwards, he stared daggers at Emerald.
"Why do you have this address?" Roman asked.
"We were gonna clean up a mess of yours but some new guy messed everything up." Emerald said.
"What new guy?" Roman asked with an eyebrow raised.
"Thick accent, doesn't speak too much english as far as we could tell, plainly foreign, I overheard something about him being from some place called "The Metro" as we had to leave the place. Then we followed him and he shot at us." Emerald explained.
"I would've shot you too if you followed me." Roman said, once again, sarcastically.
"Cinder would fry you alive." Emerald argued.
"Don't remind me." Roman said with a sigh.
"What's this I hear about a foreigner?" A voice called out from the catwalks above and soon a woman with long brunette hair in a red dress came down on a platform.
"Cinder!" Emerald said somewhat happily.
"What happened?" Cinder asked
"We were about to take out the stray you asked us to but we ended up having to leave, there's a new problem." Mercury explained.
"What new problem?" Cinder once again asked to get somewhat of a grip on the situation.
"This guy in strange clothing and gear started following us after Emerald knocked this old guy off a ladder. She in the process of that stole the guy's wallet, which he saw then he followed us all the way to the book trade store, we didn't know what to do so we backed down then when the guy left we followed him to capture him and bring him back to you, well he has weapons that are loud, real loud. So we ended up having to book it and we lost him. Along with Tukson." Emerald explained.
"I see..." Cinder said somewhat mildly annoyed.
"Well have to find him then and deal with him. He's an unknown and he's managed to mess up one of my plans." Roman said in anger.
"Mhmm... He's certainly a concern but he's on his own so he'll be easy to deal with for the time being. Tomorrow Emerald and Mercury will search for him, make sure he doesn't get to Beacon." Cinder said before she turned and left...