CS Sealey

New Zealand-based sub-editor, writer and author

One shot, one kill

Price crouched low in the long grass as the enemy patrol passed, clutching their guns. The Russians were expecting trouble, and trouble was a lot closer than they imagined.

‘Let’s move,’ Captain Macmillan said quietly into the coms.

The two soldiers, clad head to toe in leafy ghillie suits inched forward, their own silenced weapons at the ready. The sun above them was struggling to break through the cloud cover, making the sky seem grey and featureless. As they moved on, they left no footprints, not even a shadow.

The captain led them down a nearby side street and, again, they were forced to wait as another unit of guards passed. The hotel was but a hundred metres away, but the route they took was anything but direct. Keeping to the overgrown garden beds and silently stalking units of Russian mercenaries, it took a lot longer to reach their destination than Price had expected. Yet, they were still on schedule and remained undetected. Macmillan was efficient and reliable that way.

The Hotel Polissya loomed ahead and the two soldiers emerged from their alleyway cautiously. Glancing from side to side, Macmillan signalled for them to move forward. Suddenly, Price heard the distant purr of an engine and flung out his hand to grab the back of the captain’s armour.

‘Get down!’ Price whispered harshly and pulled him behind a brown hedge.

He could hear his heart beating loud and fast in his ears as the armoured truck with mounted gun slowly drove past. MacMillan nodded wordlessly. The two waited until the patrol had passed and then the captain signalled that they should move on. Minutes ticked by as they crept closer to the hotel, and then they were inside.

The ghost town outside had been grey and overgrown, but inside the hotel, it felt even more eerie. Glasses still stood where they had been placed on tables. Chairs were overturned. Newspapers and napkins were strewn across the floor, mixed with leaves and decades of dust and dirt. They found the stairs and climbed up, the floorboards beneath their feet damaged by neglect and the weathering hands of time. No guards were stationed in this building—a sign of their target’s false sense of security, or arrogance.

Price and Macmillan reached the roof and approached the low wall that ran around the edge. Peering over the top, Price saw a number of vehicles approaching the open square in front of the hotel. Inside one of those armoured cars was the notorious Russian arms dealer Imran Zakhaev. Price’s fingers twitched in readiness.

I don’t often play Call of Duty games (probably because the storylines are thrust down my throat in such a way that I just ignore them after a while). However, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and in particular this set of two missions, is a fond gaming moment for me.

The setting of Pripyat was such a bleak, eerie environment, executed extremely well by the level designers. I love stealth missions, so throw in lots of crouching behind trees and lying prone on the ground as enemies pass you by, and I’m a very happy chappie. Another reason I love these two missions is the pacing. When I say I love stealth missions, it’s because I can take my time, but I’m also required to make quick decisions, like dashing from cover to cover without being seen. If you get spotted, the mission resets to a checkpoint. I don’t play shooter games often, so this kind of gameplay allowed me to enjoy COD for a while. I felt as though I was really there, as my heart rate rose when the enemy almost spotted me, and I had to take a moment to wipe the sweat from my fingers.

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