Daniël Ezekiel Hammerson, born to Jacob Joshua Hammerson and Jana Svoboda on a blisteringly hot afternoon in Phoenix, Arizona.
As far as youth goes, Daniël's grew up in a borishly normal way. While he was no stranger to mischief, his general respect for his parents (paired with the firm hand of guidance from both his mother and father) kept him from going out of control and on a (relatively) straight path. A solid C+ student throughout his learning years up to the end of high school, he'd take up the same job as his father had so dutifully performed over the many hot summers in Phoenix, starting a apprenticeship under the guidance of his old man himself and learning all the tricks of the trade along the way.
A few years in (although at first perfectly content with his "low-end" job and no college education), he decided that it would be time for him to pick up the slack of his own absence of career. With the support of his dearest mother he enrolled into Arizona State College and managed to score himself a Bachelor's degree in Construction. Jobs being ample in supply for construction related projects at the time, he'd find himself engulfed in work and job security well into his adulthood.
The rest of his history was pretty unremarkable. He made a decent living, supported his old folks (even more so after his father's health declined and was unable to work after the many years as a construction worker) and even went as far as to sponsor his sister's college education, knowing that she deserved just as much of a chance that he had gotten.
In the earlier 2000's, Dan set his gaze to Europe. With his resume having been padded with years of experience and recommendations, he felt he could take the leap outside of the American borders and test his luck in the foreign construction market. He sold his small apartment back in Arizona after having acquired a contract or two for development in the eastern regions (mostly thanked to the Russian roots of his mother) and set off to continue his life and career in a foreign environment.
Eventually, he picked up several lucrative contracts for the redevelopment and construction of several projects in Chernarus. While being hilariously terrible at the language and unfamiliar with the traditions and history of the place, Daniël nevertheless dutifully did his part in the rebuilding of the ravaged country.
Most of his work taking place in the south western region of the country, Daniel never really got any real sense of danger coming from the resurgence of hatred between the russian government and that of Chernarus. It came as a surprise to him when the Chernarussian government declared martial law and had the military take over large portions of the government affairs. Dan immediately started making calls, wanting nothing to do with being stuck in a country under military control and knowing damn well that with the rising tensions, there'd be no shortly of local populace seeking to focus their hatred to the countries that just idly stood by. However, all his arrangments were met with negative response. All his pleas with the local authorities fell on deaf ears.
Unable to arrange proper transport back to home within the short time before the Russians bombarded Chernarussian soil (Dan hearing it was somekind of old storage depot, leaving him more than visibly confused as to why they would outright attack it in such a show of force), Dan found himself caught in a escalating conflict that he neither wanted to be part of nor be near. It was safe to say that it scared the hell out of him. He wasn't a military man, he'd never been in a conflict zone. The prospect of becoming a casualty in some faraway country was nothing more than terrifying. He holed up in the room he had rented at the hotel in Chernogorsk, watching the events unfold on the tv and spending each terrifying night on his phone with his family, telling them that he'd do everything he'd can to get the hell out of dodge.
It was the sense of safety that nearly got him killed as he had heard of the NATO fleet assembling off the coast and NATO forces coming to assist with whatever crisis was going on outside. During the early morning of the 19th of July, Dan would hear a few trapped tourists expressing their concern about the capabilities of the military forces in the area. The chilling reports of "maniacs, bleeding from their eyes and beating everyone to death" made Dan shiver, not knowing what had caused it to develop to such severity in one short week. Being in the lobby area during the morning, he watched citizens out on the streets, breaking into stores and generally causing havoc while (unbeknownst to him) the CDF and NATO forces were failing to hold back the march of the infected onto the city.
It wasn't long before the looting and rioting turned to the hotel, leaving Dan with nothing left but to try and act as inconspicious as possible to not get swept up in the rage and panic of the general populace. Unable to get back to his room, he'd find himself out on the streets, surrounded by angry foreigners and hearing gunfire closing in slowly. Terrified, bewildered and truly all alone (as his phone had been left upstairs) Dan tried to make his way to the docks, hoping to find somewhere, ANYWHERE where he could take shelter. Or maybe find someone of the NATO and explain to them that he was a American citizen stuck in this mess.
Unfortunately, lady luck wasn't much in his favor (as she hadn't been since the whole ordeal started) and he, much like many others, got stuck within the confines of the South-Zagorian province.
From here on out all future encounters and events are written in a first-person perspective. They're transcripts of voice-recorded messages Daniël keeps through the use of the cassette player.
Unlabeled Tape #01
"Life's just a giant loop, ain't it. After things fell apart with the folks I was roaming with I decided it to be better for me to make myself scarce and leg it to the mountains. Gave me a lot of time to think. A lot of things to reconsider, things like moral values an' how much of a waste it is to stick to 'em now that there's nothing left fightin' for. I expected myself to stay up there until I ran outta food or some angry Russian shot me but here I am, back in Chernarus. I guess it's better than the mountains, least the sea's pretty when it ain't busy getting nuked."
*A short shuffle could be heard on the recording as Dan shifted the recorder around while continuing his walk*
"I don't even know if these recordings will do me any favors. But it's better to talk to somethin' than stay quiet. It helps, y'know. Fills the void a little, makes you feel like you're gettin' things off your chest. I'm still not sure if I'll even keep these tapes. Or if I even got enough to keep myself busy until I meet some faces, but I guess we'll find out one way or the other.
The city doesn't seem to have changed much since I left. In fact, seems like very little's been changed, aside from the obvious signs of extensive lootin' and scavenging. I won't be spending too long here, the infected seem to have been growin' more plentiful during my absence and I no longer got the back-up to help me clear all of them out. Quite frankly, I ain't feeling like bein' clean-up crew anymore, those days came and past when the good intentions of some fine folks was met with bullets of various calibers.
Speakin' of which, found myself a dusty old box of buckshot. Surprised that it hadn't been snagged by some desperate fellar, but I guess sometimes you get a little lucky."
*the speech is interrupted by a short laugh*
"Knowing my luck, finding buckshot probably means I got some trouble ahead of me. Hopefully it's of the infected variety, I don't much care for shootin' those that still walk around with their heads not filled with flesh-consumin' thoughts. Whatever it may be, I'm sure Sarah will appreciate a fresh pair of shells in her tube. She's been a dead weight since my last hunting trip in the mountains. Ain't proud to say it, but seems like with age my eyesight's starting to wear down a little. I hope this ain't somekind of sign that the whole world's gonna be a fog to me in a few years. Survivin' the apocalypse is already hard enough when you've been spending most your life doing labor hard enough to get some permanent physical damage."
*Things go quiet for a bit, the sound of footsteps and shuffling fabric mixed with light breathing*
"Anyway, I'm not planning on staying here long. I'm heading west come the next morning. From what I still know, if you want to meet people, you gotta head west. Ain't always the prettiest types you meet. But it's a start. So... yeah, that's all, I suppose. I'll have to get used to making these. So how I do sto-"
*The recording cuts out*
*The first few minutes of the recording is filled with nothing but the stomping of boots in foilage combined with the whistling of birds and a breeze crackling up the microphone once in a while. After those few minutes, a heavy thud can be heard, followed by some deep breaths and the sound of a canteen being opened up. The moment that it sounds as if someone is about to speak, the recording cuts out for a couple of seconds, before continuing on*
"This goddamn cheap piece of trash's been recordin' on me for god knows how long. I suppose I should be glad I've met exactly zero folks during my travels, otherwise they might be gettin' the wrong impression when some handsome stranger's walking around with a cassette player on record. Ah well, it ain't like anybody's going to find anything worthwhile on these tapes. Unless they're really into listening to strangers talk about nothing for extended period of time.
I was hoping that moving west would get me on track of some people. I've went through Gorka, but the place was filled with nothin' but infected clawing at the usual places. It's like the entire country is abandoned. I've been hearing distant gunshots, so I know there's definitely some life out there. Or I've just been hearing folks killin' themselves. Which'd explain why there's just absolutely no living soul around. From there, I've been hiking past the old radio station on the hill. Found myself some batteries for this recorder, so I should be good on that for a while. Wish I could find some music cassettes, really. It'd be great to be able to play some music on the road. It'd probably attract some more attention than randomly shootin' in the air and hoping for a response."
*A gulp is heard, followed by a short 'ahh' before the recording picks back up the voice, this time a little further away*
"It's a hell of a long walk, mind you. My leg's hurtin' like I've been hiking for a week. The old ache is acting back up, but until I find some people to get some information out of I ain't allowing myself to give it the proper rest it needs. I can already hear future me winching in pain when he replays this a week from now and is stuck limpin' around like a one-legged fool, but I gotta find me some human contact to see what the current state of the province is in. Saw a stranger through the scope I found running down the freeway like he was possessed. Ain't had nothing but the clothes on his back. I tried to catch up to him but by the time I managed to get myself on the road he'd already become a dot in the distance. No use in wastin' the shell to get his attention or shoutin' my lungs out. I'd only draw in the dead ones.
It's already getting dark, found myself a solid small hunting shack to burrow down in for the night. Hopefully I'll have a little more luck in the coming days. I've got a bit of a weird knot in my stomach about the lack of folks roaming around. Not even the bad kind seem anywhere to be found. Leaves you to wonder if the bunch just ended up gunnin' each other down. I'd say good riddance, but at this point I'd just be glad to hear someone tell me to stick 'em up. Anythin' better than talking to myself about how I can't find folks to have a conversation with. Turns out I'm a poor conversationalist, who woulda thought."
*The recording cuts out*
*The whistling of the birds combined with the soft gust of the wind makes for a bit of a noisy background as the recording pops back on*
"So it's uh... what, the tenth? Eleventh? I don't even really remember. Anyway, I made my way down South after quite a long trek along the Northern edge. I ain't gonna lie, my map readin' skills ain't what it used to be. I managed to get myself lost in the woods for a solid two days before I stumbled my dumb ass down into Krasnostav. Wasn't hard to pick up the trail back down South after that. It's been quiet days. I was hoping I would've met some people up north, but I haven't met a singular soul up there. None that could talk back and not claw my eyes out.
But that changed today. I was restin' in a cabin near Dubrovka when some voices disturbed the otherwise mundane groans of the infected. At first I thought I was just doing some of that good ol' wishful thinking, but it turned out it was not one, but two folks that were passing through the town as well. A bit stroke of luck if you ask me. From my memory, Dubrovka ain't exactly a prime location for many of the travelers around. But then again, the quiet nature of it might draw some of the more calmminded folks. Which, to my delight, was the case with the folks I met today.
One of them called himself... Burgun? Birgir? Somethin' Bir. Seemed like a alright fellar. Bit of a religious type, but who am I to judge. Spoke of multiple deities, so he might be one a' them pagan worshippers. But hey, if that brings him peace and quiet, I ain't one to have anything against him. The other was named Alex, or Axel. Quiet type, definitely one of those types you keep around for protection. Wearing all green, carrying a assault rifle with a double-stacked mag. He ain't the type to mess around. They all felt... friendly, somehow. Not the usual folks that tend to drift around in groups. We made some smalltalk, which was a delight... to myself, mostly. I don't know how well they took my blabberin', but they had the patience to let me talk at least. After a while a third came out of the blue, had himself set up behind me to cover his buddies. Makes sense, really, back in the day I would've done the same for my folks.
We parted ways not long after, they gave me some directions and Bir asked his gods to give me some strength or somethin'. I ain't the worshipping type anymore, but every little thing helps. Gives me a bit of unwanted hope knowing there's still decent people around. But I need to keep my wits sharp. I ain't getting any younger and I sure can't square off against any big groups with ill intent. I'll have to keep tryin' to keep my business to myself and stay out of their hair. So uh... yeah, that happened. Headin' down to Novy Sobor before nightfall. This is Dan, signing off."
*The recording cuts out*