“Photojournalism from the fronts lines of the Chenarus infestation.”
Trust is a finite resource on Chenarus, but it’s a commodity that the boys of the Freeside Trading Company must rely on.
(Gallery of full-sized images at the bottom of the page)
When two people meet on Chenarus, usually one of them ends up dead. But the Freeside Trading Company is attempting to carve out a little piece of civilization in a world dominated by mistrust and desperate aggression. They are doing this in the face of banditry, zombie infestation and relentless hacker attacks.
The Company is run by three main officers: Publik, Vulwulf and Kurkistan. When Publik first contacted me he told me that they had managed to set up a working trading post on Chenarus. Every weekend they meet, customers turn up and they facilitate trades between the people who arrive. I was impressed. How could this even be possible? It seemed to me like a logistical nightmare. When I asked Vulwulf why it is that they do this he told me: “I can’t give you a really good answer as to why I do it – why we do it… So many people had said ‘this is a great idea but it isn’t possible’. I did it half to prove them wrong and half to do something amazing.” They have certainly achieved this goal.
When I arrived at the camp I was even more impressed. Barbed wire, tank traps and sandbags have been placed to force customers through a prescribed route through the camp and into the customer holding area. Customers are met a short distance outside of camp and are escorted by two members of the company whenever they wish to enter or leave. They must walk at all times, never run and have their weapons lowered. They are constantly watched by ever-vigilant guards. Customers must all stay inside the holding pen at all times and sit on the floor when not making a trade. That can either trade with each other or sometimes directly with the Company itself. The whole operation runs smoothly and efficiently with everyone aware of their roles.
The Company faces a problem. It’s the big one. The hackers. Every single op they run is a huge target for those looking to test out their new hacks. I had only been at the trading post for an hour before a hacker ran a script that insta-killed everyone on the server, and the hackers are taking their toll. Publik speaks of an “utter lack of morale at this point with all the bullshit that we pull. DayZ at the moment is kinda run by the hackers. It’s sad but true.”
So why are the company still trading in the face of this onslaught? “Every time I see a post on the forums saying ‘you guys are doing a great job, we traded with you guys and despite what’s happening with the hackers you should keep going’ that is what keeps me going.”
Juicebox, a charismatic and confident combat officer, told me: “It’s the greatest game I’ve ever played when you actually fight someone that’s legit. It’s the most intense feeling I’ve ever had. That’s why I keep playing, just hoping for that fair fight.”. Then Vulwulf chimes in: “We actually had a legit attack on Friday’s op. From what I gathered from the radio chatter during the confusion there were 8 of them. We had killed four and lost two of ours. We were laying down suppressing fire while a team of three led by Kurkistan tried to flank them. Then just as they were coming up on their flank a hacker teleported us all to Solnichniy and tried to blow us all up with a satchel charge. Even with the hacker attack it was still the most fun I’d had during an op.”
I was along for the ride during trading hours last Sunday when they suffered their most devastating attack to date, which ended with an explosive finale. For once the attackers appeared to be genuine non-hackers. They were highly organized and on this occasion the Freeside Trading Company were bested. Their number were diminished quite possibly due to the morale issues cited by Publik – ten players, four new. According to Vulwulf this is “what I consider just enough people to safely defend Devil’s Castle.” I was atop the tower photographing of one of their sniper team when it happened. The shot rang out and the sniper fell to floor before my eyes. I immediately hit the deck and crawled panicking back down into the tower. The radio chatter became furtive as the Company responded. Snipers manned their posts, the guards on the gate readied for battle and a team was designated to mount a counter attack on the snipers, to be led by Juicebox. This team needed another member and, tempted by the thought of the amazing action that might greet the lens of my camera, I volunteered. Big mistake.
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