The Marked One
At the beginning of Shadow of Chernobyl, the Marked One (travelling on a "Death Truck" which is struck by lightning) is found by a stalker at the side of a road and is taken to the trader, Sidorovich ("Sid"). The Marked One (so called because of his S.T.A.L.K.E.R. tattoo) has amnesia, and the only connection that he has to the past is a PDA entry that reads: Kill Strelok. Sid is willing to help the man if the Marked One will help him.
Sid reveals that "Strelok" is a veteran Stalker and is the leader of a small group, consisting of Strelok, Fang, Ghost and Doc. This group has previously made two journeys to the heart of the Zone, to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant itself. The Marked One spends the game tracking down Strelok's associates and attempting to find him. The Marked One finds the group's secret stash, discovering an audio message by Ghost saying that Fang was killed by an unknown mercenary while Strelok was away.
He discovers that Strelok's group actually made it past X10, known as the Brain Scorcher (which converts unprotected Stalkers into zombies) with the aid of psi-helmets from the Ecologist scientist faction based in Yantar. In Yantar, the Marked One finds the corpse of Ghost (presumably killed by the controller present in the room). The trail leads to Doc, the last surviving member of the group, who, confused, tells the Marked One he is
After that, Strelok, with the adjusted psi-helmet, fights his way to the Brain Scorcher, shutting it down. During the following chaos (where all the factions push towards Pripyat) he fights his way past the Monolith guards to enter the Nuclear Power Plant.
Shadow of Chernobyl Ending
Once you reach the power plant, you are given a choice of endings. You can choose to pursue your dreams by approaching the Monolith "Wish Granter" which is said to have the power to grant anybody's wishes. The wish you make is dependant on your gameplay choices throughout Shadow of Chernobyl.
- I want to be rich: To gain this ending, you must have 50,000 RU when you approach the Wish Granter. This is the easiest of the Wish Granter endings to get, as most people easily amass upwards of 100,000 RU. The Wish Granter generates an illusion of coins falling from the sky; in actuality, these are nuts and bolts falling, which sends the roof crashing down on Strelok's head, killing him.
- I want the Zone to disappear: Your reputation must be at least 1,000 for this ending to occur (you can see your reputation in the Ranking section of the PDA). Strelok witnesses a clean Chernobyl - the Zone has gone. However, the player will notice his pupils have disappeared; the Monolith has turned him blind and the Zone has only disappeared for him.
- I want to rule the world: To obtain this ending, you need to kill both faction leaders, General Voronin of Duty and Lukash of Freedom. You are absorbed into the Wish Granter to "rule" as part of it.
- Humanity is corrupt, it must be controlled: This is the opposite of the "I want the Zone to disappear" ending, you must have at least -1,000 reputation for this ending to occur. Strelok has a vision of the end of the world, and awakens in a dark void. (in the original Russian version he wishes for mankind to be destroyed)
- I want immortality: If the player doesn't fulfill any of the other criteria, this ending occurs. Strelok is transformed into a metal statue.
If the player explores further (if they undertook the quest where they met the Guide and then Doc, they can also find the C-Consciousness project using the door decoder in Strelok's stash in Pripyat. You fight your way through the Monolith Cult to the C-Consciousness Control Room, where everything is explained. You are Strelok, you were caught in a blowout and captured by the Monolith. The C-Consciousness was an experiment, research into creating a hive mind. It becomes self aware and tries to create world peace using global mind control; these efforts are abortive and create the Zone. To hide it's existence from the world, it creates a Wish Granter and subverts the Monolith stalker group to guard it. It has recently become aware of the threat from Strelok's group of Stalkers, and as a veteran Stalker able to fight their way past the Brain Scorcher, you were chosen to kill Strelok (the C-Consciousness being unaware that you are
Strelok). It answers your questions and gives you a choice:
- Join the C-Consciousness: Merge with the C-Consciousness and attempt to help it repair the Zone and reach world peace.
- Refuse to join the C-Consciousness: You are teleported back outside Chernobyl, where the C-Consciousness uses its last remaining Monolith soldiers to try and eliminate you before you can destroy it's equipment. After destroying its hardware, Strelok is seen standing in a grassy field, the Zone is seemingly gone (although this is left deliberately ambiguous). He states that he is "lucky to be alive".
During Clear Sky, it is revealed that blowouts in the Zone are gradually becoming more and more violent. The Clear Sky faction theorizes that this is a defensive mechanism created by the Zone to protect the Nuclear Power Plant. The player character, Scar, discovers that Strelok's group has made their way to the center of the Zone and the Clear Sky leader, Lebedev, orders you to hunt down and kill Strelok and his allies.