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  1. Born in the north-western part of Romania, a recovering post-communist country, Vladimir quickly got accustomed to the harshness of eastern European countries throughout his childhood. By the age of 7, he's already been sent to a few different psychologists, as his parents thought that he's a weird little boy not having any real friends and generally just being lonely, but as it turned out there was absolutely nothing wrong with him, he just liked spending time alone. At the same age, he received a computer as a birthday gift and at this point, it became clear what his lifelong passion was going to be. He would spend as much time as he could on that computer, playing video games, learning programs inside-out, even tearing all the computer parts out, and then putting them back in just to see how it all worked together. As the years went by, he was slowly becoming the "computer guy" of the neighborhood. He's made a few friends now and everyone got a piece of his applied skills. He was sneaking into internet cafes with CDs making copies of video games, music, adult movies, or whatever the "clients" would ask for. For a fair price, he would get you anything from the internet. The end of high school was approaching and Vlad had to think of a university path to pursue. He was already digging into programming so a career in robotics and engineering sounded great, so he started to plan his move to another city where he would enroll in a university. He dropped out of two universities over the next years, as none of them seem to satisfy his learning needs. In 2017 Vladimir met Andrei, another fellow ambitious programmer - but also a very passionate engineer - and they soon started to become inseparable. The two of them began working on multiple projects of their own, often talking about making their own company together. Their office jobs paid very well and their personal project also started making some money on the side, so they were saving money and began their plan to lay the foundation of their company. Vlad and Andrei shared a lot of common passions, besides the obvious one that is anything tech-related, they both loved video games, mountains, hiking, and motorcycles. Mostly every weekend they got together at Vlad's rented apartment for long nights of gaming and tech discussions, or they would hop on their bikes and go for a ride. One night they came up with an idea for an autonomous utility drone and they immediately began to make a presentation of their idea hoping they could get some funding for it. While also having full-time office jobs at the same company, they decided it was time to create their own company, being very optimistic about their drones project. After months of useless bureaucracy, they founded their company in the summer of 2019. Dozens of funding requests for the drones project started flying, but all of them got rejected. It was already November and they lost hope that they would start working on their favorite project in 2019, so they decided to keep their current company job and just resume the funding requests over the next year. It was a dull Monday morning. Vladimir was preparing his coffee in the office kitchen when Andrei bursts in so hyped that he could barely speak coherently. They got the call. Andrei started detailing how he's just been contacted by a private investor from Chernogorsk, saying that he would pay as soon as they present their full idea and that he would keep the funding rolling if their working prototype is delivered until the end of 2020. They were both very excited and they wanted to start right away. Vlad thought they should call the investor back and start working on the details. Borya Romanov - the mysterious figure behind their funding proposal - wanted to meet them in Chernogorsk as soon as possible to discuss further details about the project. Vladimir started explaining how they had to get their affairs in order before, as he was absolutely sure that they would be impressed with their project and would want to start working right away. (Vlad would often get arrogant or cocky, but it was the good kind, the kind that shows a lot of confidence - and in its own right). They set the meeting date for the 6th of March 2020. Vlad hanged up with a big smile on his face. They began to write their resignation letters together right there in the kitchen, laughing with joy and excitement over the new opportunity. Both of them had plenty of money stashed away so they wouldn't need the current job until they started working on their drones. It was done, they had quit their jobs. Not wasting any time, the guys started working on their initial prototype, just to get a head start on their work. The year 2019 has passed, it's the 21st of February 2020 and Vladimir got a call from Andrei in which he said that they need to meet up right away. Vlad got dressed immediately and headed to Andrei's apartment. When he got there, he saw Andrei nervously walking through his living room, looking worried sick. He started explaining how his mother has gotten sick and how she was taken to a quarantine zone in the hospital. No one could get to her, no one would give him answers as to what was happening. He feared the worst, that his mother got the new virus. Vlad tried to calm him down, saying that they will soon get answers (his mother was working in the same hospital and although she was on holiday at the moment, she would get some answers nevertheless). After speaking with his mother, Vlad informed Andrei that by the new hospital regulations, everyone sharing the new virus symptoms would be taken to the quarantined area and that she was undergoing medical tests and examinations at that exact moment. Andrei started ranting about the fact that he wouldn't be able to go to meet the investor because he needed to stay home to care for his mother. Vladimir reassured him that everything was going to be fine and that he could go alone to the investor if that was the case, but as he was talking, Andrei got a call from his mother. She explained that she got the tests and that she is fine, it was not the new virus. Andrei was relieved. He wanted to go meet with his mother as soon as she would be released. Vladimir also had to go check on his parents, so they parted ways for the day. On the way to his parents, Vlad called Borya Romanov. He wanted to make sure that the current situations wouldn't prevent their meeting and that it was safe for them to embark on the journey. Borya reassured him, telling him that there haven't been any hard restrictions imposed yet and that everything should be fine, as it was only stores and such that were closed, but they could still find a few shady pubs opened. They both shared a laugh at the pub situation. It the 3rd of March 2020, early in the morning. The guys met up at the airport and they were both excited to depart. They wanted to get there a couple of days earlier, just to get settled in, maybe visit a few of the surrounding areas. There was a private jet waiting for them which would take them straight to the International Airfield in Chernarus, courtesy of Borya Romanov. After their arrival, they were greeted by two armed to the teeth military guys. They were escorted to an SUV in which they were told that they would be driven to their booked hotel. Although pretty geared up, the military guys seemed nice altogether, but that didn't stop Vladimir's concerns building up. On one hand, there was way more military around the area than anyone would expect, but on the other hand, Vlad was now pretty sure that their private investor wanted military drones. He would not have agreed to build weapons under no circumstance. Andrei saw that Vlad had a blank look and was filled with worries so he asked him what was wrong. Vlad just shook his head, pointing with his eyes at the driver. Andrei quickly understood that it was not the place for discussions. Having just arrived at the hotel, Andrei immediately asked Vlad what was that about in the car. Vladimir started talking about his concerns. Andrei just laughed, although quite nervously, a bit unsure himself, he told Vlad that he did not think they would have to make military drones and that he was just being paranoid. They decided to see how the meeting went anyway and started their journey how it was initially planned. To settle in a bit and go in search of those shady pubs. The pub-hopping started as soon as they left their luggage in their hotel rooms. They were having the best time, they met a lot of people and especially nice girls, so the party went on until late in the night. It was about 2:30 AM when they decided to get back to their hotel rooms for a good night's sleep. They were drunk walking on the streets, barely standing on their feet, laughing, and chatting way louder than usual. Out of nowhere, they saw a guy running across the street, as fast as he could, making weird noises and screaming. It was just about a hundred meters in front of them. They both stopped, looked at each other, and laughed as hard as they could. Andrei told Vlad that he wanted to have what that guy had. (They both thought that the guy was under the influence of some strong psychedelic drugs). They finally arrived at the hotel and immediately fell asleep as soon as they got to the room. It was the 4th of March 2020, sometime in the afternoon, when Vlad woke up first. His head was pounding from all the booze he had the other night. Andrei was still out cold. Vlad went to the bathroom to freshen up a bit, then he tried to wake up Andrei. He eventually succeeded after about 25 minutes of failed attempts. Andrei told Vlad that he was feeling like a hammered shit and that he would go and take a shower. Vlad started to look at a map of the area that was just laying on the table of their hotel living room. He saw that there was another city nearby and thought that maybe they could visit it a bit later that day after their hangover chills out a bit. As Andrei got out of the shower, Vlad told him about the plan to visit the nearby city of Elektrozavodsk, but as he took his eyes off the map to look at Andrei, he noticed that one of his eyes was completely red. Vlad asked Andrei what the hell happened to his eye, but Andrei just got a laugh out saying that he probably popped a vein or something, as he got up to throw up during the other night. They both laughed while they were dressing up to go to one of the pubs they visited the other night, as they would also serve some food and everything else was pretty much closed anyway. As soon as they got out of the hotel, 4 big military vehicles raced on the street in front of them. There were other people on the streets, but no one really seemed to care. They went on to eat at the hidden pub. After they ate, they started walking towards the train station to board a train for Elektrozavodsk. As they got to the train station, they noticed there were quite a lot of people trying to get tickets, but not for Elektrozavodsk. The train started its departure and just about 15 minutes into it, Andrei fell asleep. Vlad took out his phone trying to contact his parents, but the reception was all over the place. He thought it was because of the moving train so he went on to play some games on the phone instead. Not long after, the train came to a stop. Vlad looked out the window and saw that they were in Prigorodki. A line of people has formed in the hallway, probably people that wanted to get off in that station, Vlad thought. He then heard someone started to talk loudly in Russian over the hallways. He opened the window and saw that there were armed soldiers at the entrance of the train wagon. He wanted to know what was going on, so after checking up on Andrei, who was still out sleeping, he got out of their cabin and into the hallway. Someone in the line asked him something in Russian, but he could only respond with a shake of his head, as he did not know any Russian. The line moved slowly but he finally reached the exit of the train car, where an armed soldier stopped him and started speaking in Russian to him. Vlad politely said in English that he didn't speak Russian, at which the soldier said something in his radio station strapped to his chest armor belt. Another soldier quickly appeared and he spewed a strong Russian accent "Hello". Vlad asked him what was going on. The soldier told him that everyone aboard was getting checked and that the train tracks were blocked temporarily up ahead because of some accident. As the soldier was talking, there was a loud glass breaking sound somewhere in the first or second train car. Someone burst out of the train car, straight through the window. The soldiers immediately started shooting and everyone still on the train started panicking and running. Vlad was still in the front of the train car entrance and he got knocked down by the passengers fleeing. He quickly got up and wanted to get back in the train car to go wake Andrei up, when another loud bang came from their cabin. It was Andrei. He too burst out of the cabin through the window, now running towards them and making the same weird noises and screams just like the guy they saw on the street the night before. Vlad just stood there, completely shocked. The English speaking soldier shot Andrei right in front of him. As he was trying to hold everything in, the soldier came up to Vlad and handed him a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. He told Vlad to run to the train station terminal as fast as he could. Vlad started puking all over the place, but eventually, he pulled himself together and ran to the station's terminal. The terminal was filled with panicked people and armed soldiers were guarding the exits. Vlad hid the pistol he received in the back of his pants, covering it with his hoodie. Everyone was talking in Russian and he had no idea what to do. A few soldiers were beating a guy near the exit. He was laying on the floor, his hand and feet being restrained with rope. As Vlad was watching the soldiers beating that guy, someone from the panicked crowd lost control too and started to hit and jump at anyone that was near. The soldiers from the exits quickly rushed towards the fight and just started shooting in the crowd. Dozens of bodies fell on the floor and people started to run in every direction. Vlad ran back trying to reach the train he was on, thinking that the English-speaking soldier might be able to help. He found the soldier lying on his stomach in a pool of his own blood. Vlad saw another group of soldiers towards the end of the train, about 50 meters in front of him, shooting at a group of enraged citizens. They turned towards him and started shooting without questions. Vlad immediately hit the deck and crawled under the train, making it to the other side. As soon as he was coming out from under the train he started sprinting along the train tracks leading out of the city. He ran as fast as he could, fueled by adrenaline. He didn't stop for at least half an hour. Vlad was now in the middle of nowhere, looking at a train track that would go on for what it looked like forever. The place was now looking peaceful, filled with tall trees and dense bushes. He stopped for a moment to catch his breath, thinking that those numerous hikes have now paid off for him. He started walking again along the train tracks hoping that he would eventually find someone who would know what to do, or at least tell him how to get out of the area. With the adrenaline slowly fading out, he was now thinking about his family and if the situation is the same back home. Flashbacks with Andrei being shot in front of him were coming back to him. He tried to pull himself together, but he fell. He was just sitting there thinking about all that just happened, overwhelmed when he just saw a small cabin near the tracks, partly hidden by the trees. He quickly got up and started running towards it screaming for help. As he got to the entrance of the cabin, there was still no answer. He made his way in easily, as the front door was unlocked. He started to ask if there was anybody home, but still no answer. He found a note on the kitchen table which had something written in Russian. Vlad got his phone out to translate the note with an app. "Anna, I went to the train station to pick up your mama. The basement is prepared. Father" He decided to go see the basement to find out what it was all about. The basement was absolutely filled with food rations, canned goods of all kinds: fruit, beans, olives. It seemed like the "Father" knew what was coming. Vlad then thought to himself that he would wait for Anna and see where they would go next. He waited for days on end, only using a bottle of water that he found in the kitchen, but still, no one came home. He then decided to lock himself down in the basement until some help would arrive, as the hunger was now too strong. He remained there for months and no one came, knowing that he will eventually need to go out, as the rations were slowly but surely running out.
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