V

The mission was simple enough. Cripple Soviet communications by destroying three satellite dishes at an outpost in northern Afghanistan.

I was told any old explosives would do, but all I had were hand grenades and C4. I was not about to let this mission depend on lobs.

A night time infiltration seemed like another smart choice, and when I got my first glimpse of the base I was relieved. Two out of the three satellites were backed against a cliff face, overlooking the rest of the outpost. The final satellite was, of course, dead center and surrounded by most of the guards.

My initial position put me at the same elevation as the easier satellites. Each dish was mounted on a metal container and only accessible by ladder. I scurried up the first, placed a charge, and was back in the bushes in under 10 seconds. Too easy. My journey to the second dish was slowed briefly by a single unlucky guard patrolling through the dark. With the second explosive placed, my attention turned to the final dish.

The late start to my mission had a second benefit I did not anticipate. Two guards headed inside one of several squat brick huts for the night, and one was actually going to sleep. Seeing my chance, I crept down the hill to the final satellite, mounted on top of another hut. Finding the ladder was simple enough. Picking the right time to climb it was harder. After reaching the roof of the building a guard spotted me briefly before I could lie on my stomach. He convinced himself that his eyes had fooled him and went about his business. I crawled over to the dish and planted the third charge. The rush of a perfectly executed mission was within reach as I descended the ladder. Then I realized I was trapped.

The plan had been to set all three charges and watch the post-detonation mayhem from a safe distance. As I crouched in the grass, back to the building I had just rigged with explosives, I saw 3 guards that would see me if I moved another inch. Taking out any one of them was no problem. Taking them out without being seen by any number of other guards in the outpost was not feasible. I needed a distraction. Luckily, I had three.

In hindsight, it would have been smarter to set off the first two charges and wait for the investigators to move away from me. I made the very American assumption that three explosions were better than two. With the damage done, I took my first step from cover. I was spotted immediately, but one silenced pistol shot made for an easy fix. Unfortunately, all attention had been drawn to the final explosion. A strange man emerging from the bushes after three bombs go off should be targeted by any reasonable guard.

I dropped all attempts at stealth when the first bullet whizzed by. A full sprint away from the outpost was the only thing for it. When it was clear I was not going to get caught immediately, I managed to whistle for my ride. D-Horse emerged from the rocks and I saddled up without breaking stride. A dust cloud covered our retreat. Pequod was inbound.

You could say I'm enjoying Metal Gear Solid V.