Deftly clutching his shortened AK to his chest, Moskivin waded among the reeds in a swamp knee-deep with mud. Minimal sound was made by the commando, who quickly reached a dense tangle of swamp plants. A Phantom patrol of three wandered past Moskivin's hiding place, followed by a whirring of helicopter blades from a gunship. Moskivin immediately dropped two of the Phantoms with silenced bursts from his AK and tackled the last one into a bush.

"Where is the rest of you?" he asked smoothly. He had his knife drawn out and was ready to strike.

"Argggggghhhhhhh!" the Phantom groaned as he revealed the positions of his comrades. The soldier drew quickly on the map Moskivin supplied him with. A machine gun position in one grid there, a tank crew resupplying in a small clearing, and...

Moskivin thrust the knife into his back after his usefulness waned. The man crumpled like a dropped puppet, while Moskivin pushed him down into a pit dug up by god-knows-what kind of animal that grew here in these radioactive swamps. The short and secret nuclear war with the Phantoms had only made small pockets of such shitty areas thanks to Ghost efforts to decontaminate and disarm radiological weaponry deployed by the Phantoms. Moskivin circled one of the targets the interrogated Phantom gave up, a seemingly unknown unit whose type and purpose the soldier was not able to explain, yet had marked in his communications and pathfinding equipment. This was likely the unit that Moskivin had been assigned to wipe off the playing field.

"Galileo," Moskivin hailed the Ghost forward command team, "I have located the target."

"Affirmative, callsign Masterpiece," Galileo responded back in telegraphic phrases. "Mission update, reports received: additional hostile command relay assets have entered the AO. Neutralization of said assets will be required to secure decisive victory."

"Status report," Moskivin requested.

"Current alert level is low," the communications officer informed him. "Opposition has not expected such a small strike force, leading to low level of readiness of their security forces. Due to high calculated probability of success for your mission objective, teams Ida and Gaspra are not to be deployed until Directive Prerequisites Seven and Nine are met."

"End of communications window," Moskivin stated as he shut down the secure communications channel. Currently, neither side of this skirmish dared to use satellite uplinks as both factions had access to monitoring tools capable of discerning the locations of the transmissions and receptions of any general military satellite communications thanks to Ghost and Phantom insiders in the satellite communications providers of both sides. Therefore, they had to turn to independently developed systems for any reliable and protected correspondence between commander and soldier. However, this relied greatly on the presence of on-site command and relay teams, vulnerable assets that were critical to any battlefield strategy enactment.

Moskivin's target was Galileo's Phantom equivalent, the enemy's own command staff that were present in the Area of Operations. In a few minutes, Moskivin would meet them briefly and their terror would be short lived, as were the individuals experiencing the terror...