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The story follows Lieutenant Simon "Ghost" Riley during his experiences prior to the events of Modern Warfare 2. The series focuses on the origins of the character, as well as the origins of the skull-like mask he wears, and other events that take place before he joined Task Force 141.
Episode 1: Dead For a Day
The first installment begins to tell the story of how Ghost came to use his skull-branded balaclava. The narrative begins in a basic school in Lysychansk, Ukraine, at exactly two o'clock. It shows Ghost captured along with some children, probably students of the school, by a group of masked hostage-takers. One of the hostage-takers then, after telling Ghost his attempt at freeing the hostages was stupid and struck him in the face with what is probably an AK-47, saying that he is going to shoot a child at three o' clock believing that Ghost will take them "seriously" after that. Ghost then, without any option aside from waiting, begins to reminisce about an old friend of his, Lieutenant Simon Riley. He was recruited from the 22nd SAS to join a task force made up of Navy SEALS and Delta Force members. The group is tasked with eliminating a terrorist-smuggling drug lord, Manuel Roba. However, things start to unravel as one of the team member's parachute fails and he is killed. Riley suspects there is a rat in the team. His hunch later turns out to be correct, as one of the team turns and reveals himself to be in league with Roba. Riley manages to shoot his way out of trouble only to be shot by Roba, leaving the story at a suspenseful cliffhanger.
Episode 2: Dead Life
During Modern Warfare 2: Ghost, issue number two, it is revealed that Ghost and his team are captured by the Mexican cartel, and during their captivity they endure continuous torture and brainwashing techniques in order to be used as hired guns for various criminal and terrorist groups. Throughout this ordeal the reader sees flashbacks of Riley's early life, from his childhood and how he had to endure an abusive fiend of a father. To his early years in the SAS and how he, after coming back from his first tour of duty in Afghanistan on January 2003, takes care of his abused mother and helps clean up his drug-addicted younger brother named Tommy. In March 2004 he finally puts an end to his father and in June 2006 Riley is seen as best man at his brother Tommy's wedding, who is now completely free of drugs. During these flashbacks, many of Riley's adversaries are seen wearing "ghostly" makeup (presumably a hallucination of Riley) of similar style to that worn by participants in the Day of the Dead celebration. Eventually, the USSOCOM members Kevin Sparks and Washington are able to escape, having learned that the Mexican cartel plan to kill them due to the fact they can not break them down, but are forced to leave Riley behind. Moments later, Riley is buried alive with the decaying corpse of Major Vernon.
Episode 3: Dead will Follow
By using Vernon's lower jaw bone, Riley digs himself up from the grave, which takes him thirteen hours, and is later found by a Texas sheriff. The story then jumps to December 18, 2010; Riley is being debriefed about his experience to his superiors. Physically Riley is fine, but his superiors fear that his mental state is still in question. Riley has nightmares about Roba haunting and taunting him every time he sleeps . While spending Christmas with his family, Riley gets a surprise visit from Sparks. While having a beer together at a local pub, Sparks and Riley rehash old times and their experience during those hellish months in Mexico. Sparks tells Riley that he and Washington are getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. As they are walking back home Sparks approaches a young woman he previously saw at the pub and tries to sweet talk her into bed, but the young woman refused. Infuriated, Sparks knocks the woman out, and orders Riley to help him get her inside her house so that they can rape her. Riley secretly calls the police, and they arrive just before any harm could be done to the woman, forcing Riley and Sparks to retreat. Once they both arrive at Sparks' hotel room, Riley suspects that Sparks is up to something but by the time Riley had figured it out Sparks had pointed a gun at Riley's head. Riley immediately disarms Sparks and interrogates him. Sparks reveals that he and Washington have been working for Roba, showing that they had been successfully brainwashed, but before Riley could get any more information, Washington arrives from a task and attempts to gun down Riley. Riley escapes by jumping through Sparks' hotel window, slightly injuring his leg, and steals a cab to make his get away. Remembering about what Roba said about his family, Riley speeds towards his family's home and witnesses a shocking display. His mother, brother Tom, Tom's wife Beth, and his nephew Joseph have all been executed by Washington himself. In the end Riley claims that he will kill them all: Sparks, Washington, Roba and his entire organization.
Episode 4: Dead Won't Leave
Now that Ghost is back in the real world, he's finding it hard to tell what's real anymore...until a face from his botched mission in Mexico appears. It's someone he thought long dead. Could this be another hallucination – or something far more sinister?
Episode 5: Dead Won't Rise
In an elementary school classroom, Ghost is tied and bound as a hostage. The leader of the terrorists barges in fully armed and says the soldiers outside are taking positions and to get ready for a fight. Ghost is shown sneaking into a military base. He locates the barracks and kills Lt. Washington in his sleep. In a flashback, Riley locates Sparks in his home and binds, gags, and beats him for the murders of his mother, brother, nephew and sister-in-law. He is executed and his house is set on fire. Before torching the place Ghost switched dog tags to fake his death. Lt. Washington's body is discovered the next morning and the base is put on alert. They head to the security room to check the video surveillance. In Mexico, two ex-military types are enjoying themselves on vacation. They are ambushed and killed. Ghost learns about this ambush and starts the hunt for the ambushers. He locates the leader and kidnaps him. He is taken to a remote location and tortured for information.
Episode 6: Dead and Gone
After retrieving information on Roba's location at his summer home in the jungles of Chiapas, Ghost takes out the guards on patrol and cripples Roba's means of escape. Ghost confronts Roba and kills him by shooting him in the head. All of the commotion alerts the rest of Roba's guards and... Back in the elementary school classroom, Ghost is interrupted by the hostage-taker leader by stating it is a few minutes after 3 o'clock, past the deadline. The hostage-takers plan on killing one of the children and throw their body out the window as a message. One of the hostage-takers begins to wonder why the military have not attempted a rescue before the deadline. The hostage-taker leader is then killed by Ghost, who managed to unbind his binds and pull out a gun he had hidden. Ghost says that the soldiers were waiting for his signal. Soldiers then burst through the windows and kill all of the other hostage-takers except for one, who holds a little girl as a shield. Ghost warns him to put her down or he will be killed. A sniper on a helicopter outside the school shoots the last hostage-taker in the head. Ghost tends to the little girl, who asks him if the story of Simon Riley was about him. Ghost tells the little girl that it is just a story. A small flashback at the end shows Ghost walking away from Roba's destroyed summer home, all battered and beaten-up. A helicopter lands near the summer home, a soldier steps out of the helicopter and approaches Ghost. The last thing shown in the last image is a patch on the soldier's uniform; the patch says "Task Force 141".This shows that Ghost was accepted into Task Force 141 because of this massacre, most likely by General Shepherd.