|“|| Got a little something... Last night stalkers saw some kind of weird glow at the dredge station... Too weird even for these parts. Why don't you check it out? Make sure to watch yourself there. I'm warning you, that place is full of radiation. Don't forget your meds — you'll thank me later.|
- Beard's advice when taking the job.
Strange Phenomenon is an optional mission featured in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat.
This quest is offered by Beard at Skadovsk which requires the player to travel to the Dredge Station in Zaton in order to recover the Altered Wheel. On the surface, this is a simple fetch-the-artifact-mission, but there is a surprise waiting for you. As soon as you pick up the artifact and exit the tug, a Loner named Tuna will confront you and ask for the artifact. He claims that it has healing properties and that his friend needs it. If you refuse, he will ask you again a second time.
Surrendering the artifact
If you give him the artifact, he'll sprint to the Skadovsk and sell it to Beard. If you meet him at Skadovsk and don't threaten him, he'll give you 1500 RU to "cheer you up". You will fail this quest immediately after turning over the artifact and you will not be able to complete the Pioneer achievement.
Fighting your way out
If you refuse to give him the artifact a second time, he will let you go only to be ambushed by his two buddies seconds later, when he demands again that you turn over the artifact. You can either give it up (holster your weapon and wait) - see outcome above - or fight your way out, which can be very dangerous, especially at higher difficulty levels. Tuna will melee hit you with his weapon, stunning you for seconds which always results in death. The strategy here is to turn around and run towards Tuna, firing quickly before he has a chance to react, and immediately hide back inside the tug. Wait a little while, and two other loners will move out of cover, giving you an opportunity to take them out.
If you deny all knowledge of the artifact's existence and state that you haven't seen it, then he'll lean back against the tug and let you pass by untouched, whether your weapon was holstered or not. This is a brilliant opportunity to shoot him in the head and back up into the tug, long enough for the hidden stalkers to come into range. The fight is thus simplified into three headshots. If you're quick enough, you can also land a head shot on one of Tuna's goons that tells you to holster your weapon. Then turning around quickly to go back to the tug, take Tuna out. Since Tuna is in the open and is wearing poor armor, it will be easy using the starting [AKM-74/2U]]. This leaves you with the one loner to deal with. Although, note that doing this, you will inevitably take some hits, while getting to cover since Tuna and his squad has you in a kill-zone. Along with that, the interior of the barge, which is the nearest cover available, is irradiated, so one cannot stay there for too long unless they have a good supply of anti-rad, or a radiation-neutralizing artifact on hand.
Another simple way to stop the ambush from a more defended position is to simply lean out of the windows of the ship's cabin. With the right angle, the player can see Tuna's two companions and open fire on them. With or without a suppressor this immediately causes them to retreat, which usually means wandering into your field of view and giving you ample time to gun them down from the safety of the cabin. If the squad survives, they will continue to harass the player throughout Zaton.
Another way to do this is to throw a grenade from the bridge and into or near the shed at the bottom left of the bridge's view. This will damage, or kill, one of Tuna's cohorts hiding inside the shed and force the rest of them to do a fighting retreat within full view. The bridge of the barge provides a perfect overwatch position which allows you to gun down Tuna's squad with impunity. This is a bit dangerous for new players since there is a chance one can miscalculate the throw and cause the grenade to bounce back into the bridge, utterly killing or severely injuring the player, so caution is advised to those attempting this to quick-save before trying.
Let him have the artifact and then kill him
If you are not fit to start a firefight with 3 stalkers, this is the other option. First give Tuna the artifact when he asks for it, this will make the rest of his squad neutral. As he's sprinting off along to the Skadovsk, gain some distance from his squad where you cannot be seen and gun Tuna down, afterwards loot his corpse and present the artifact to Beard for the full reward. If you are successful in gaining enough distance, his squad will still remain neutral, unaware you killed him, if not they become hostile and attack you on sight.
- 3000 RU
- Stash Location
- After completing this quest, regardless if you gave Tuna the artifact, Beard will offer quests to find specific artifacts.
- For some reason, having the weapon in first slot out as they ambush you makes them shoot you as soon as the cut-scene ends. This is yet another reason not to trigger the ambush.
- A lot of the tugboat's areas are irradiated, including the only corridor you can use as cover in the event you start a shootout. It is strongly advised to bring some vodka, anti-rad, or if possible Radioprotectant drugs.
- There seems to be no way to avoid the encounter with Tuna, as soon as you jump inside of the station, the only way out is through him. There is an invisible wall which prevents you from jumping over the side railing of the ship.
- The strange artifact is more or less useless since, all it does give off radiation only. It can't even be used as a flashlight, despite the fact it's supposed to emit a lot of light.