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The Saline Bandit: DayZ Diary – Part Four

The Sniper Hill Incident

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DayZ is a multiplayer zombie survival sim which, though incomplete, produces anecdotes of drama, desperation and clown mask-wearing weirdos. Emily Richardson has been playing it with a question: can you be a good person in the videogame post-apocalypse? Read parts one, two, three.

On the way back to Elektro we meet two New Spawns on the road. They’re totally bear, in nothing but t-shirts and jeans. They seem to be having a little trouble with a fence, so we puff out our charitable chests and take our opportunity.

“Hi there!” one of us announces. The pair turn to look at us.

“Are you guys thirsty? Hungry?” we ask. They say nothing, merely looking at us, a group of about four. We start dropping food and water on the floor for them and I try force feeding one some water from my canteen, but he shuffles awkwardly away to break the animation.

“Please let us help you,” we say, trying to give them more items, offering them saline and bandages and all sorts. The pair simply look at us, bewildered.

“Well, I guess we’ll leave this stuff here and if you want it you can have it.” We wait patiently for them to make a move. Eventually, one of them edges closer to the goods. We all stand and stare, eagerly waiting for him to pick up a can and start drinking. It’s like watching baby birds that have fallen from their nest and landed on a motorway. They’re terrified of us, and we realise that they think we’re going to kill them the second they pick up one of the items.

“Go on, we’re nice. We’re not gonna kill you.”

Eventually, they take our things and drink. We wish them very happy birthdays and continue down the road, pretty pleased with ourselves.

When we reach Elektro we do our usual and search the buildings. I head on over to the school and find two unarmed guys in t-shirts and jeans. It’s the same New Spawns from earlier. They followed us.

“Hello again!” I say, barging past them and taking whatever loot they’ve left on the floor. Again they simply stand and stare at me; the pair have never said a word. I tell one of them to take the yellow raincoat in the other room as it has more item slots than their t-shirts.

I head on upstairs, scan the rooms, and head back down to the second floor again. When I go back in the room where I saw the pair, one of them is lying on the floor. He’s dead. I turn around and see Yellow Raincoat Guy.

“Did you do that to him? That’s really mean. You’re a big fat butthead,” I say, and carry on, assuming that the guy isn’t going to attack me when I’ve a loaded rifle and magnum, plus military gear. Again, he just stares. I float around checking for more loot, talking to my friends, Tobias, Craig and Edward George Terry Fenning, who are all over at the hospital. I suddenly hear a gunshot and turn on my heel, going back to check on Yellow Raincoat Guy.

“What are you up to, Yellow Raincoat Guy? Not doing anything nasty I hope? I will kill you if you’re being nasty.” I go back in the room where the first body was and there he is. Yellow Raincoat Guy. On the floor. Dead.

“Oh,” I say, still in proximity chat.

“Um, guys?” this time in Skype, “I got two dead dudes over here and I don’t know how they died.”

“OH FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-” is the only response I get.

“What’s going on?!”

“I’m shot!” shrieks Tobias. “Goddamn it.”

“Where are you?” asks Craig.

“The roof.”

“I can get you, hold on a second.”

I’m crouching in the room where the bodies are, checking the windows with my mosin like a sniper’s whack-a-mole, when I see a guy dart out of the house opposite. Like a clever sniper, the guy is changing positions, but like a plonker, he’s done it without checking his surroundings. I watch him leg it down the road and call his location.

Amazingly, Craig manages to save Tobias. I give him some saline and he’s back to full health. He can’t believe his luck, but we can’t find the sniper. We never do.

I log out at sniper hill and when I come back, I’m joined by Edward George Terry Fenning and our friend Chris. We’re on a full server and Tobias has since ran off into the wilderness with Andy from Part 1.

Chris has a freakishly authoritarian voice, so everyone obeys his orders without actually realising it. After the shootout at the school I’m incredibly jumpy, and while we’re waiting for Tobias and Andy to join us on sniper hill I keep my sights trained on a plucky little looter who’s running across the fire station roof. I’m terrified he’s got a rifle and he’ll spot us, but Chris is determined no one is going to fire at this guy. “We’re not going to kill someone for doing what we’d be doing.”

He’s right. It goes against everything we’ve been trying to do this far. I hold position and let my trigger finger rest entirely on Chris’ moral compass.

Unfortunately, we get hungry pretty quickly. We can see a dead body down in the factory courtyard and it’s not long before Chris wants to risk everything for one can of beans that may or may not be down there.

“I’m going down there, you stay and cover me from up here with the rifle. Edward, you watch her back. Make sure no one comes up behind you.”

We do as we’re told and I watch as Chris vanishes down the hill, under my scope and into a thin line of trees. I’m really, really jumpy now. A full server; the fire station and the factory; one can of beans. This seems so stupid.

I check the roof of the fire station and the factory, both of Chris’ major blind spots, and the outlying hills. When I come back to Chris, he’s coming back toward the body having scouted out the side of the factory that I can’t see. As he sneaks up on the body I see a second player. I do a double take, assuming the server is just lagging out. It does this – sometimes a player will ping back a little way and I think this is what’s happened, that I’m just seeing Chris for the second time.

Then I realise that Chris is now on the body, and the second player is still coming up on him. This all happens in a matter of miliseconds.

“There’s a guy behind you, there’s a guy behind you!” I want to shoot so badly, but it goes against everything. We don’t shoot-on-sight. We’re not those people. Maybe Chris can say something to him? I know this is just as stupid as it sounds because I even say, “Chris, I’m going to shoot him.”

But I don’t. Not until he draws up on Chris and opens fire, at which point Chris says with a steady, focused voice, “kill him now.”

And I do kill him. I put two bullets right in his chest the second Chris pronounces the ‘k’ of ‘kill’, but it’s too late. Chris is dead. I’m furious with myself.

I’m so furious with myself I want dump all my gear at the top of the hill and give Edward George Terry Fenning my rifle so I can go down there and get Chris’ gear back. Unfortunately, however, Edward George Terry Fenning has not dressed for the occasion and says he’s not really up for sniping on sniper hill on a full server when he’s dressed himself entirely in bright orange. He has a fair point, he looks like a traffic cone. We decide to wait.

Chris does eventually get back to Elektro and pushes back down into the factory courtyard a second time. As soon as he gets to the wall, two other players appear. I order Chris to stop, to hide somewhere until I’ve got rid of them. I don’t hesitate a second time, dropping a bullet into each of them. Blood sprays from their characters and the server goes bonkers, pinging them in and out of walls like nobody’s business. I get worried – I can’t see where they’ve pinged off to. I really don’t want Chris to die a second time now.

But they never reappear. Chris gets back to his body and is halfway through looting his own corpse when the server goes nuts again. It sends him all the way back to his spawn point. Most servers aren’t as bad, but this one simply can’t handle this many players. It’s a disaster. Not only is Chris miles away and with only half his equipment, but our reinforcements have pinged miles back too. Tobias and Andy are vocally irritated.

I’m not switching servers though, not until Chris gets all of his gear back. It’s a long and exhausting wait, punctuated by M4 fire that feels like it’s right next to us. Every ten minutes or so we’re sure we’ve been spotted, and when nothing happens we put it down to a sound glitch or M4 fire that’s right down in the centre of town and echoing up to us.

That is until Andy and Tobias hit sniper hill. They round a corner and find a small building that’s surrounded with wire fencing.

“Whoa, there’s tons of bodies here,” says Andy.

“Where?” I ask, assuming he’s still a while away.

“On this hill. Isn’t this where you are?”

“Uhm, there’s no bodies where we are.”

Andy and Tobias decide to take a look at the bodies. There’s at least ten of them, probably more. They’re all stripped down to their underwear, according to the voice chat I’m listening in on. Suddenly Edward George Terry Fenning and I hear the M4 fire again. Then Andy and Tobias start swearing.

We’ve been sharing a hill with bandits the entire time. We’ve been sat here for at least an hour with bandits right round the corner, only metres away. We’ve heard them every time they’ve gunned someone down and now we’re pooping our pants. Edward George Terry Fenning and I do the unthinkable: we log out, instantly vanishing into the ether.

Epilogue:

The following is the story of how the Saline Bandit finally fell. Originally, I was going to have all my allies from the series team up with me and rampage down a really big hill onto the Balota airfield, waving bags of saline high over our heads as we went. We were going to charge at our enemies with love and kindness and saline and stuff, until the very last of us was killed trying to forcefully medicate people who violently disagreed with the notion.

We were going to die at war, with honour, doing what we did best (or not very well at all, but shut up.)

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. The Saline Bandit was actually minding her own business, trying to appease the adventurous nature of Craig, who is still very much to blame for all of this and won’t soon forget it.

Craig decided he wanted to go to Cherno on a full server. Tobias and I decided we should go with him for adventure’s sake. I’d scope from a distance with my rifle while those two went in. It was the usual procedure and we figured we could come off with some great loot, maybe even heal some people and make friends.

No. We were wrong. Not long after we get there the three of us spot armed bandits who are firing left, right and centre. We decide to bolt into a multi-storey building and wait. If they pass by us, great. If they come in, we’ll surprise them. This plan seemed perfectly sensible until someone decided to go up on the roof and yell, “I CAN SEE YOU.”

“Oh god what are you doing?”

“Shut up, Craig, shut up.”

“I CAN SEE YOU DOWN THERE. YUP. I CAN SEE YOU SHOOTING AT ME.”

More M4 fire. Then mosin bullets start hitting the windows just above where Tobias and I are lying prone.

“I CAN STILL SEE YOU SHOOTING AT ME.”

“It’s alright, it’s alright,” I say, “they think Craig is alone. They don’t know we’re here. They’ll come up for him and we’ll kill them on their way.”

Then Craig holds down public proximity chat and says, “Yup. Pretty sure they don’t know about you guys in the building. You can shoot them when they come up alright.”

“HOLY CRAP CRAIG SHUT UP.”

They came in the building, shot through the walls at Tobias and I and killed us. Craig continued to wind them up from on top of the roof until they sprayed him down too. All in all, it was a pretty pathetic way to die.

Sorry.

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Emily Richardson

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