LNH/HCC: Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #59 [HCC48]
saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 30 22:17:12 PDT 2014
[LNH/HCC] Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #59 [HCC48]
| |-| \
| |-|  / #59
| | |  egion of \ 'The Dead Zone'
| | | __     / (Part of High Concept Challenge #48)
| | | [___][ \et.__eroes \
| | | \ ] [ __ ] / written by and copyright 2014
| |-|     \ Saxon Brenton
| | Cover shows a twilight forest, with a glowing skeletal figure
| | emerging from the trees.
[There is *no* Silver Age-style roster of characters in the form of
a series of mug shots in little circles running down the side of the
Alexandry ran for his life.
Around him late afternoon was falling, and soon it would be too
dark to be running pell-mell through the forest. The chances of
colliding with something - whether a tree or a rotting piece of three
decades old fence - would be too great. Hah. Even in full daylight
there was the risk of tripping over something in the thick undergrowth,
falling and breaking his leg. But right here, right now, the young
Ukrainian was panicked, and was grabbing as much distance as he could
before trying to sneak around back towards one of the ruins and taking
cover for the night.
After fleeing for maybe half a kilometre the teenager began to
tire. He slowed, ducked behind a tree, and then risked taking a look
back and then all around himself into the darkening woodlands. He could
hear no pursuers. Even better in the gathering twilight, he could see
no indication of the light from the literally burning-with-radioactive-
fire eyes of the... whatever they were.
Alexandry grinned. A part of himself - probably the part hyped up
with adrenalin - was enjoying this. The other part told him he was
stupid stupid stupid: crashing through the forest like that. He could
have attracted the attention of the security guards.
But... wow. That was just like in the video games. Adventuring in
the ruins around Chernobyl, sneaking around, fighting monsters, killing
people and taking their stuff...
Okay, okay, so in real life all it really meant was sneaking into
the 300 kilometre Exclusion Zone around the Chernobyl reactor, avoiding
the guards, camping out for a few days, and taking selfies in the ruins
so that you could post them online.
He took out his geiger counter and checked for any suspiciously
high rad counts (nothing that he could tell), and then his GPS to try
and plot his location. Let's see... he was somewhere to the west of
Pripyat. Absently Alexandry brought out a bottle of vodka and was about
to take a swig... and then he remembered the stories about how vodka was
supposed to help combat radiation. It was ridiculous of course, but
then so was the idea of nuclear zombies emerging from the depths of the
Number 4 reactor. Alexandry considered the flask, then screwed the lid
back on and tucked it away. You never knew. Then he adjusted his
backpack and started off to a rendezvous point. He hoped the others
Along the way he kept a careful eye out for any more monsters. The
evening forest normally didn't seem so sinister. Alexandry knew it, had
hiked through it and hid within it many times before. The cover of
darkness was the best time to sneak around to avoid the security guards.
But the knowledge that there were real monsters out there... real honest-
to-goodness glowing nuclear zombies... That bit of information made the
woods seem strange. Almost as though it was a completely different world.
Ha! Talk about a whole 'nother world. Ever since The Tragedy at
the nuclear plant, and the Exclusion Zone being set up, the farmlands
around Chernobyl were in the process of rapidly and aggressively
reverting back to nature. It was only a hundred kilometres from the
capital of the Ukraine, but the place was now a forest nature reserve
with a rebound in the amount of wildlife, and because of the fear of
radiation civilization was too scared to encroach. It may as well be on
Alexandry worked his way to the remains of a small village, barely
more than a few houses. He could see no lights, but if anyone else had
made it here they would be keeping their flashlights shielded. He made
a call like a night owl. A few seconds later the call was repeated.
Ha! So he wasn't the first to arrive. Quickly but quietly he made his
way to the house that was the pre-arranged meeting place. He knocked on
the door. "Guys?" he asked. There was no answer. He carefully looked
inside, but there was no one about. Disappointment stabbed him. It must
be a real night owl, after all.
Oh well. He moved inside, cleared out a space, and set about
waiting. He wondered who would be the next to arrive. Boris? Vassily?
But as the night continued still no one turned up. A prickle of paranoia
began to weight on Alexandry. What if they'd been caught and killed, and
no one was going to turn up? What if they'd been caught and killed and
turned into nuclear zombies, and were even now on their way here to get
him as well!?
He told himself he was being silly, but even so he began making
plans to ship out just before dawn tomorrow and slip back out under the
barb wire fence at the edge of the Exclusion Zone. He checked his
watch. He'd barely been waiting two hours. He stood up and went to
the window, staring moodily out into the forest. It was going to be a
From the window he noticed a strange glow in the sky. He stared at
it for a second, wondering what it could be. That direction was...
south-east, wasn't it? A quick check of the GPS confirmed this. Yeah,
south-east. But there was nothing it that direction but... Oh. The
Alexandry scooped his stuff into his backpack and shouldered it,
then ducked out of the building. Making his way as quickly and quietly
as he could, he began to work his way through the night time forest.
He had a bad feeling about this. He wanted to get out of here as soon
Yet he was also curious. A reflexive gamer instinct to know what
was going on, perhaps. So as he was moving away towards the fence of
the Exclusion Zone, he also took the time to climb as small hill that
would give him a view of the city of Pripyat to the east and Chernobyl
to the south-east.
Sound carried well at night. In the distance he could hear
gunfire. Alexandry half expected that the nuclear zombies were fighting
with the security guards. Argh! Well, of *course* they would be
fighting. Stupid of him! This wasn't a video game, where the wandering
monsters were programmed to leave each other alone and only go after
the player characters.
He had to get out of here. If nothing else, the guards would call
in reinforcements, and soon the place would be crawling with hostiles of
all sorts. If the nuclear zombies didn't get him, the guards might
capture him. Hell, somebody might even get shot in the confusion.
There was a rumble from the south. Then, like some sort of CGI
effect, the entire Chernobyl nuclear complex came into view above the
tree line as the building lifted itself up on two legs, reshaping itself
into something of a cross between a building and a human form and began
striding across the countryside, it's crude features resembling enough
of a face to be able to tell that it was looking about for something.
Blue Screen of Death, man! Alexandry just *stared* at the
spectacle before him. Then he pinched himself. Was he sure this
wasn't a video game?
Screw this. If the guards had any sense they'd be calling in an
air strike. He had to get out of here. Anyone else with sense - the
other surviving stalkers, any guards down on the ground - would be
bugging out as well. He turned to leave, and that's when the two
nuclear zombies caught him. He struggled and screamed curses at them,
but it did no good. He even managed to get his flask of vodka out and
try to splash it over them, like holy water, but he fumbled his throw
and the alcohol spilt without touching either of them.
They grasped Alexandry and picked him up, and then started running
back towards the huge Chernobyl golem. They were fast. Maybe they
could have run all the way, or maybe not. As it happened they were met
by a flatbed truck, where a number of other nuclear zombies had two of
the zone guards captive, grasping their prisoners tight in lieu of
anything like handcuffs or rope or plastic zip ties. Alexandry's
captors jumped in the back of the truck, carrying Alexandry along with
them and seemingly oblivious to the bumps and bruising they caused by
the rough treatment. Then there was a breakneck drive to meet with the
ambulatory nuclear complex that caused even more bumps as they were all
thrown about by the speed combined with the poor condition of what
remained of the roads.
Alexandry was seeing stars when they arrived. The Chernobyl golem
towered above them, it's legs stretching up perhaps a hundred metres
above them. It stretched out a limb that, because it had a flat palm-
like surface could maybe have been called a hand. The truck drove onto
that hand, and was then grasped not-quite-so-gently as 'fingers'
wrapped around it to hold it steady as it was lifted up to the level of
the building proper. Once there the nuclear zombies leapt from the
truck, still holding their struggling prisoners.
Into the building they were carried. One of the guards was yelling,
"Sh!t! Sh!t! They're gonna take us into the reactor!" Maybe this was
panic-fuelled speculation, or maybe he recognised the interior
architecture as they passed through it, but as it turned out he was
The reactor room had changed. It seemed to have opened up like a
vast bubble, with organic-looking pipes and conduits wrapped around
the walls and floor and ceiling. Down towards the bottom of this area
Alexandry could make out larger misshapen lumps, and despite the fact
that these too were moving as if they were pumping organs a curiously
detached part of his mind wondered if some of these might be some of
the lava-like remains of melted reactor core from the original
The nuclear zombies took them to parts of a wall where nicotine
yellow, blister-like bubbles had formed in the H.R. Giger-esque
architecture. In some of those blisters Alexandry could see other
guards, and some of his stalker group. They seemed to be unconscious
(or dead) and slumped in their prisons. Many of them had their hair
falling out. Then Alexandry and his two fellow captives were dumped
inside blisters of their own.
The youngster felt hot. Well, of course he did; obviously the first
indication of radiation poisoning. But whereas the others weakly pushed
against the semi-transparent before falling unconscious, Alexandry was
hyped up and anxious to escape. He glanced around the huge enclosure
at the heart of the walking building, looking for something that might
be of use.
As he peered about, he became aware of the approaching jet fighters.
Say what? But it was true: he could see them coming, somehow, through
the walls and out at a distance. They were still quite some way away,
but approaching fast. He felt another surge of panic. He had to get
He pounded against the walls of his prison, and they broke quite
easily. He scrambled out. Nuclear zombies moved to intercept him, but
fast as they were he was faster, and he threw them about, and into one
another, and when it became clear that they were continually getting up
and charging at him, he simply mashed them into the wall until they
were greasy stains.
"Guys, we've got to get out of here!" he yelled, and started
ripping open the blisters holding the other people. The other stalkers
were first, but then he released the zone guards as well. Most of them
were unconscious, and the remainder were very weak, barely able to move.
They seemed to still have pulses, however.
He hefted a group of them over his shoulder, four to a load, and
made his way out to where the trucks had been arriving. Maybe... maybe
he could sneak down on one of those giant hands just as it was reaching
down to pick up another incoming truck of prisoners. Yeah. Maybe that
The fighter jets arrived. Their missiles exploded against the
Chernobyl golem, sending bits of masonry flying. The platform started
to tilt. Alexandry tried to keep his balance, flailed about to also
keep a grip of the guys heaped over his shoulders, and it was almost a
minute before he realised he was flying.
Well, this was cool. Not to mention useful. He zipped over and
grabbed a truck that was rolling off towards the edge of the building.
He stowed the unconscious men in the back, then carried the truck back
towards the entrance to the reactor. The entrance was too small to
actually allow the truck inside, but that was okay. Alexandry simply
wedged the truck in one spot so it wouldn't go anywhere, then flew
inside and collected the rest of the unconscious captives. That done,
he prised the truck free, then flew it off into the night sky several
hundred metres above the Ukrainian forest.
Behind him some more missiles struck the ambulatory nuclear
complex, taking out it's legs. It slowly toppled over with an awful
prolonged fall. It's multiple arms flailed about, trying to grab at
the ground and brace the building to absorb some of the impact - but
the arms were two thin and spindly compared the load bearing thickness
of the building's legs. The complex hit the ground and shattered,
sending bits of radioactive architecture flying across kilometres of
Alexandry watched, curiously, then turned back to his task of
flying the truck to a safe place where he could get medical attention
for the others.
Written for the fourty-eighth High Concept Challenge, "A whole
'nuther country". Based on an online article I read about the geek
subculture of stalkers who sneak into the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
Considering how many recent HCC events I've was planning to
participate in, but never got around to actually completing (including
ones that I nominating the topics for) I thought I should get post
something. But even then I ended up making it complicated for myself.
I was honestly planning on having the nuclear zombies ambush Alexandry
at the village, at which point he would get proverbially bitten by a
radioactive origin and gain superpowers. But then I thought: nah,
that conforms to storytelling expectations, so I deliberately went for
something unexpected. He still got powers, but the story took the
long way around. Meanwhile, notwithstanding the initial planning I did
last night in bed with Alexandry running about in the woods, this has
been written in under 12 hours - which kind of explains why it's run
off in strange directions and then been tied off so quickly.
Saxon Brenton University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
saxonbrenton at uts.edu.au saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
"These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex
world of jet-powered apes and time-travel." - Superman, JLA Classified #3
More information about the racc