Hunting group got to the submarine just in time. Considering our previous experience with Rob, we did not want to risk anything and made sure our survivor cant do much when/if she wakes up. Except surrounding her with warm blankets, there was not much we could do for her before getting back to the rig. She was loaded on the sleigh and we have left the submarine almost immediately. I cant describe how the rush to the rig felt for us. Every now and then, there was a bigger ice shelf and I really hoped Phoenix is hiding behind it, but it was not. We kept rotating for the sleigh to make sure we can get to the rig as soon as we can. The female survivor has shown no signs of waking up, even when the path was a bit bumpy from time to time. It took another hour before an ice shelf in front has finally revealed Phoenix to us. We wasted no time. Sergei ran up the ladders and got into the cargo crane to quickly pick up our survivor and bunch of supplies we carried with her. Once everything was on the deck, we carried our survivor into the living quarters. We picked an unused room, got a bed in there, removed most of the stuff she could break out with and setup a camera while we were at it. In the meantime, Sasha has brought some more medical equipment with him and tried to see how our survivor is doing. His conclusion was that she is stable, just very weak. There were some developing frostbites on several parts of her body, but none of them reached any critical levels just yet. He took care of them to the best of his abilities. He also connected an IV kit with some nutritional fluid to get her metabolism moving again. At this point, there was nothing more we could do for her, just observe on regular basis and replenish the vitals. We have decided to keep an eye on her constantly as we wanted to avoid another Rob situation. Oh, by the way, I do not think I want to talk about what happened to that guy, like ever.
SKAT-12, as we have learned from the various labels and documents, was (or still is, depending how you look at it) a Russian Yakutsk-class submarine. Her cruise missiles have rained down the hell on so called NAC forces, trying desperately to keep the island under control during so called Namalsk crisis. She is also the one responsible for delivering the final blow in the conflict – a tactical nuclear warhead – the first time such a weapon was used in any conflict since WW2. Certainly a piece of a history of the humankind now. Over 5 days, we have pretty much salvaged everything we could out of the submarine. While there were some thoughts of actually manning the submarine instead of our rig, it was deemed to be too risky as we were not completely sure about the state of the submarine. There was some limited flooding at the back and the whole place just generally smelled like death. We kind of hoped we would learn what happened to the crew, but we just could not find any bodies, nor any recent information about the fate of the crew. I was overall really happy that we have managed to do this, nobody got harmed in any way and we have got so much stuff now that we may actually survive the whole winter. All that assuming our rig holds of course, but Phoenix has never failed us.
It was day 7 since the submarine discovery when I was awaken by Sasha with the news that our survivor has also woken up. Finally. To much of our relief, she was not bat shit crazy. Good start. Nobody talked to her yet, they waited on me to make a move. I did not know what to expect from her, but I have always suspected she may be some spec ops. Some western or even a Chinese one, I was not sure. I was a bit afraid of her reaction to the restraints, maybe she was even faking her state to be in a better shape than we actually thought. Either way, Sergei with 7.62x39mm was backing me up when I have entered the room. Her green eyes have instantly locked on me and Sergei. When I approached her bed, her face was clearly worrisome. She asked who we are and what happened to her. Her voice told me more than I needed, I looked back on Sergei and told him to put the gun down. I have explained her the situation around her rescue, her location. I have asked her for her name and got a full reply without a hesitation: Captain Netanya Keitner, NATO CTRG, TF Bering. She clearly was not ready to talk much more after that, I left her to Sasha, who brought her some actual food. It took us few more days to get her talking, and more to be moving, but once she has gained more trust from us and we have shown that she is welcomed here, she wasted no time in explaining what the hell is wrong with this piece of a land we are so close to. Apparently, there is some very deep connection between the disaster that struck the whole world and Namalsk. All of her recon group went missing, HQ stopped responding and she just got stuck, hoping the submarine would be a safe haven, but instead, it almost turned into her coffin. It became very obvious to us that she was carrying lot of dread with her for past few years, but for us, it was an eye opening experience. She wanted to continue her search to unlock the secrets of Namalsk and our resources would enable her just that. We did not hesitate much, she gave us a goal to pursue. To do more than just sitting here, trying to live off the salvaged supplies and wait until, well, I do not know actually until what. She gave us reason to live again.
We have started preparing for the journey to the west. The plan involves everybody, no exception. Phoenix will be left to run on its own for the time being. We expect to regularly check on the rig (and combine it with some resupply run), but our primary base of operations will move to Namalsk. Netanya thinks that we should try to settle in the massive Tara harbour, should be very safe place to stay, easy to defend and with lot of supplies laying around. Not a lot of us were combat-trained, but we got to learn on the way and help each other. We have been warned about the possible danger of the infected people, but Netanya thinks there is not many left on Namalsk. She had dealt with a lot of them already and the bad weather also does the job in making them weaker, near dead. Still, a bullet in the head is recommended if you see a body that does not show any obvious signs of fatal injuries. The other, much bigger unknown for us will be the presence of NAC forces. From the intel, gathered by Netanya and her group, it is pretty obvious that NAC is still operating on Namalsk, probably within the underground areas. But we will learn soon enough about these guys.
It took us few days to get ourselves ready, but we made it. The anticipation of the unknown was unbearable, but everyone have found a way to deal with it somehow. On the eve of our departure, Netanya was standing on the Phoenix deck, resting her arms and watching the sun set behind the horizon, slightly obstructed by the shape of Namalsk mountains. I made some noise to make sure she noticed me approaching, stood next to her and asked how is she doing. She did not react at first, but then suddenly proceeded to hug me. I was not really excepting this sort of reaction from her, but tried to comfort her. She told me about her daughter in Melbourne, how she cant stop thinking of her every day. She tried her best to prepare her to be an adult, but yesterdays challenges of life of a college girl are nothing compared todays horrors, happening around the whole globe. And that assumes, oh well, she is still, you know, one of us. It got me thinking of Lauren, the day she died in a car accident. The whole reason I have decided to leave everything behind and work on the open sea. Our thoughts were interrupted by a sudden pressure wave coming from west. Our ears were ringing. We have turned towards Namalsk and have seen massive lightning developing from the mountains. It looked almost miraculous, but somewhere deep inside I knew this was bad. I have turned back, towards Netanya, ears still ringing. She was shouting something alongside get to cover and pointing towards the lower deck entrance. I have started shouting the same thing into the radio, hoping guys would register it. Netanya looked like she knew what was it and wasted no time getting to a safe place. When I was about to walk down the stairs, I have looked up and seen the sky turning orange. What the hell is going on I said to myself. Just as I have entered the hallway of the lower deck, I felt an overwhelming pain in my head and have fallen unconscious.
Story continues in part 4, the harbour.