26 November 1990

Anatoly Petrov crept through some woods in northeast of Moscow, Russia. A ground fog lifted off the snow-covered leaves as he slowly and soundlessly moved along. The final rays of sun thinly streamed through the tall trees. He breathed the dry, cold air through his nose to limit the sound and signs of his breath. He breathed evenly as he tracked his prey.

Anatoly heard a short sharp sound to his left and watched as a rabbit hopped toward him. He noted the location and then veered left, ensuring each footstep landed silently as he crept along hunched over to keep from being sighted. He drew closer to the origin of the sound and dropped to the ground to listen for signs. There! A slight rustle, just to the right of him. He peered through the underbrush and saw a shadowy figure heading in his general direction.

Khorosho. He will be here soon. Anatoly calculated the distance between the two of them, and his own reaction time. Though a large, muscular teenager, Anatoly could move much faster than a smaller man. He sank farther into the freezing leaves and stilled his breath to become one with the forest floor.

A foot came down within his reach, and Anatoly grabbed it and brought the other man to the ground as he leapt on top of him, shoving his head into the leaves with one hand and snaking a noose around his neck with the other. He held the man down with his body weight, feeling him struggle as Anatoly cut off his breath. He loved the feel of the death throes beneath him.

Anatoly checked the other man’s pulse and rolled off him. Aga! My mission is accomplished, he rejoiced. Now I can go to the KGB school in the Ukraine. He glanced down at the body of his fellow cadet. The trainers had warned all the cadets at the indoctrination that only one-third would graduate from pre-cadet training. At the time they hadn’t realized that the other two-thirds would be brought out in body bags. It is good. They guarantee our training is kept secret. Only the strong make it through.