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10th June, 1969Edit
Somewhere in Siberia, the USSREdit
0520 hours, local time
Nothing remained of the outpost.
Captain Sergey Andropov surveyed the blasted landscape. He and his group had just arrived a few hours ago, to investigate the loss of communication with the remote border outpost. This was the seventh such occurrence in this month alone.
"Time to leave then." Andropov turned to his men. As the company moved off, Andropov thought he heard something. Recalling the previous incidents where the parties sent to investigate had summarily disappeared without a trace, Andropov gestured for his men to stop at a clearing. He had not survived the Third World War by making mistakes, and he wouldn’t make one now.
"Something is following us, comrades. Be on your guard." The soldiers under his command looked around nervously, scanning the forest. Nothing happened for a minute or so, but several times Andropov’s soldiers thought they either heard noises or saw strange silhouettes. He ordered them to hold their fire.
Suddenly, hundreds of vehicles spilled out from the forest swarming towards the Soviets.
Andropov screamed an order. "OPEN FIRE!"
The sounds of machine gun and cannon fire could be heard as the Hammer Tanks and soldiers under his command engaged the advancing vehicles. Dozens of the strange vehicles fell to the first volley of attacks, but still more flooded out from the forest.
"Pull back!" Seeing that his men had no chance of withstanding the incoming barrage of enemy forces, Andropov ordered his men to retreat. As his forces fell back, Andropov grabbed a Molotov Cocktail from one of his conscripts and tossed it at the forest, setting the trees ablaze. This slowed down the advancing forces considerably, but still the monstrosities continued to pour out of the now burning forest, towards Andropov and his men. Now, walking skeletons were filing out of the forest, advancing towards the Soviet forces even as they burned.
For a moment, Andropov wondered if the skeletons might truly be the walking dead, before dismissing the thought as ridiculous. He realised that these – things must be machines, dastardly constructs of the Empire or some other power. Then a thought struck him. ‘’He would capture one of these machines!
As his forces continued to retreat, Andropov devised a plan, and radioed for support. His forces were approaching a bridge across a river, as the things continued in hot pursuit. The Hammer Tanks opened fire on the nearest tanks – Andropov decided that they were probably tanks, if pitifully weak ones, blowing them apart. We’re nearly there!
Suddenly, they came to a halt at the bridge. Andropov ordered his men across while the rest of his forces held back the advancing things. Soon, all his men had gotten across to the other side of the bridge. The timing had to be right. Andropov tossed a marker flare as the machines began crossing the bridge, with the walking skeletons in the front.
The Badger was just in time. Guided to the target by the marker flare thrown by Andropov, the Badger released its deadly cargo just as the first of the enemy forces made it across the bridge. The old bridge, already in poor condition after years of disrepair, collapsed when the five hundred pound bomb struck it, the arch breaking in half, as the things tumbled and fell into the water.
The lone skeleton that had made it across just realised what had happened, but before it could do anything, Andropov swiftly shot it with his Tesla Pistol. Its internal systems overwhelmed by the sudden burst of energy, the skeleton shut down. Andropov's soldiers went to secure it in case it reactivated itself.
It worked, Andropov thought. The Union will be pleased.
Several thousand kilometres above sea level, Sun synchronous OrbitEdit
The small, boxy object that was Athena Satellite ATC-42 fell towards the earth at several thousand kilometres an hour. As it did so, its photovoltaic panels collected energy from the sun, storing the energy inside its capacitors.
As the satellite passed over the landmass that was the continent of North America, a disk on the bottom slowly started to glow with intense orange light. Somewhere below on the continent, somebody was waiting expectantly for a blinding beam of solar energy to come from the sky.
The weapon finished charging, and fired. An intense beam of solar energy lanced out from the satellite dish, towards a target on the ground.
Then something went terribly, terribly, wrong. But it was enough. The beam of light lanced downwards and struck a target.
More than one, to be exact.
On the ground, a building burst into flames as it combusted, struck by the intense heat and light of the solar beam, just as had been intended. But the beam wasn’t done yet. Instead, it swept across several other structures. More buildings burst into flames as the beam of light swept across them. Screams and cries could be heard from the buildings, before they died off as the lives of the people they belonged to were extinguished.
The beam finally died, as several thousand kilometres above, the Athena satellite exploded in a brilliant flash of light. A tiny pinprick of light in the sky, and then nothing more, as ATC-42 blew itself apart.
11th June, 1969Edit
Allied Headquarters, London, the United KingdomEdit
1100 hours, local time
What had begun as a perfectly straightforward operation had ended in disaster.
It started as a plan to kill one of the Confederate Revolutionaries’ most infamous leaders. The Allies hoped that if they could "neutralise" some of the Confederate Revolutionaries’ more extremist leaders, then perhaps a non violent resolution to the conflict could be achieved, with minimal loss of life.
And now this. Goodness how many innocents perished as a result. Out of necessity, the Allied leaders had tried to suppress news about the incident – a decision that plagued their conscience. Things only got out of hand when a group of people forcefully broke into a radio station. By the time they had been handcuffed and taken away by Peacekeepers, the news had already broken out.
Things rapidly spiralled out of control after that, as news of the incident spread. The Allies could do nothing to stop it. The whole incident had turned into a disaster, as there were cries of outrage and protest, both internally and from externally.
The Soviets were taking advantage of this, of course, using this incident as an “example” of how twisted the Allies had become. And anti Allied riots had worsened.
Things were rapidly going downhill. As if the Allies didn’t have enough on their plate already. Field Marshal Manning thought.
The Field Marshal was right that the situation was getting worse.
It was just that no one realised how bad things would get in the days to come.
St. Louis, Missouri, the United StatesEdit
1830 hours, local time
"They’ve gone too far this time." The voice belonged to General Benjamin Carville of the Confederate Revolutionaries. He sat at a table, along with several other members of the Confederate Revolutionaries.
"I never thought that they would stoop to this level," mused former President Dennis Hoffhassle. "But this latest incident only makes it more necessary that we stop them,"
"We must do more than stop them. We must destroy them," muttered one of the people seated around the table. "They goddamn killed innocent people, and then they tried to cover it up. It isn't enough that they go after us, is it? Now, they must wipe the complete surrounding goddamn neighbourhood!" He gestured angrily to the others seated around the table. "This is what the Allies have become. They're like apples that have gone bad. Tell me, what does one do with apples that have gone bad?" His voice had dropped to a whisper, but the fury was unmistakable in his voice. "You goddamn throw them away. We can't just stop once we've liberated America. We cannot rest until we've wiped out the Allies!"
"At the very least, they must pay for their actions," another person said. "They must learn that they cannot just go around murdering innocent children and then assume that they can get away with it." The person looked around the table. "They must learn that their actions will have repercussions, and if they refuse to acknowledge that fact, we will have to teach it them."
"So, who is in agreement?" asked Hoffhassle. As he looked around the room, all hands were raised. "So it’s unanimous, then. The issue is decided."
The message was passed along quickly, relayed by sympathisers. Messages were relayed by various means, and soon the message had reached its intended recipient.
Inside his small home, former Staff Sergeant James Boyd unfolded the piece of paper passed to him by a courier, and read through it slowly. Once he finished reading the message, he lit his lighter and burned the paper, to make sure no one would ever read it. Then, he began making calls to several of his former platoon members.
Good. It was settled. They would meet at the old warehouse south of here. The former sergeant got up the chair he was seating in and went down to his basement, where he kept all the things he would need.
Soviet Forward Base in Siberia, the USSREdit
"This – machine here is very interesting, comrade. Where did you get it?" A bespectacled man turned away from the machine he was studying to face the other man in the room.
"We were attacked. They had many, many tanks, and more of these things. This one I was able to disable." Andropov shrugged. "Whoever - whatever these things take orders from, I do not know."
"Imperial scum, no doubt. This," gestured the man, "must be one of their blasted machines, or whatever they call them. Never the less, if we can find out something from this machine, it would be most useful to the Union," he concluded.
"Most certainly," agreed Andropov. But doubt lingered at the back of his mind. The insignia and colours certainly weren’t of the Empire. That could be easily explained off as the Empire not wanting the attack to be traced back to them. Still, the tactics, the insignia, even the design of the machines. It didn’t fit.
Something just didn’t feel right.
At an old warehouse, New Jersey, the United StatesEdit
Late at night
They arrived by various means. The first to arrive came in an old, converted Ranger Scout Car, and was followed soon after by several other assorted vehicles, and several others walked. Though it was illegal for large numbers of people to congregate at one place, no one would notice at this time of night.
Boyd got out of his old, converted Ranger Scout Car. He walked up to the large, padlocked door, and produced a key, inserting it into the rusting padlock. He had gotten a locksmith to make the key a short while back, and this was the first time he was using it. Fortunately, the key fit, and he turned it. The padlock came off, and Boyd pushed open the door.
The warehouse was not in very good condition. It had not been used for several years, and all around, things were rusting and breaking. The sergeant felt for the switch that he knew was there, finding it, and after a minute, the single functional light bulb flickered to life, dimly illuminating the vast warehouse. Boyd entered the warehouse, followed by several others, and stopped at an object that he supposed would suffice as a table. He took of the oversized backpack he was carrying, and emptied its contents onto the surface.
Several pistols, a number of cylinders that a soldier would have identified as silencers, a large quantity of ammo clips, a couple of hand held radios, some old ponchos, and several kilograms of illegal high explosives.
The others had brought equipment as well. ARM-12 Rangemaster rifles, illegal RDM-76 recoilless rifles, ammunition, hand grenades, pistols, several MX-15 assault rifles and M64 Javelin missile launchers, Springfield 1903 bolt action rifles, Winchester 1878 shotguns, and an assortment of various equipment and weaponry.
The former sergeant and member of the Confederate Revolutionaries stood to face his fellow rebels. "I'm sure you all want to know the reason why I called all of you here today. As I'm sure you know, several days ago, those Allies went and killed off a bunch of innocent Americans." He paused to take a breath. "So we're here to make those Allies pay for what they done." He explained in detail the mission they were to undertake, and their plan. "We attack before dawn, at 0250 hours," he concluded.
12th June, 1969Edit
Athena Computer Complex, Raven Rock, New Jersey, the United StatesEdit
The guard never saw the bullet that took his life. The .30 cal round blew his head off, and he toppled to the ground, lifeless. The second guard had his back turned to the first, and a second later, he too died at his post as a bullet entered his head.
A few hundred metres away, the Marksman lowered his Springfield 1903 rifle, satisfied with the condition of the two guards that were now crumpled at their post. Wasting no time, the Delta Rangers who were with him moved out of their positions stealthily, making sure to avoid any noise. The Allies had this facility heavily guarded, and there was a detachment of Peacekeepers not too far away. They would have to move quickly if they wanted to have any chance of sucess.
They quickly dispatched the patrolling guards and attack dogs with their silenced pistols. All was going well, and they radioed to say that the coast was clear. Next, a group of minutemen moved out of their hiding positions, and quickly reached the next checkpoint, where a pair of Reservist Defenders and a Retriever APC were on watch. Under cover of darkness, they approached.
The Retriever exploded, hit by a missile from a M64 Javelin launcher that one of the minutemen had looted. They trained their rifles on the Reservist Defenders, who died a moment later. They moved quickly to take weapons from the Defenders and extinguish the burning Retriever, before moving on.
The Confederates had gotten the layout of the facility from an inside sympathiser, but the intel was not perfect. Thus, they were taken by surprise when a Hermes UAV streaked overhead on patrol. There was no time to take cover under their fibre optic ponchos. Even so, they might have escaped notice, had a panicking Minuteman not fired a missile at the drone.
Inside a bunker kilometres away, the Hermes operator was alerted to the fact that a missile had been fired at it. The operator realised what was happening at once, thoughts running through his mind. The Athena Computer Complex was under attack! Immediately, the operator moved to alert the security forces at the Complex, as well as the Peacekeeper detachment on standby nearby.
The Confederates had lost the element of surprise.
Boyd moved quickly, with his silenced pistol drawn, dispatching anything that moved. With their cover blown, speed was even more important than ever, and he ignored the noise his footsteps were making.
He dove for the ground as a squad of Heavy Defenders had opened fire. Too late! The security forces had been alerted to the presence of the Confederate forces, and they had responded accordingly, reinforcing the checkpoint with Heavy Defenders. His force comprised solely of infantry, and his Minutemen couldn't possibly hope to force the Heavy Defenders out of their well entrenched positions. Boyd swore. With no other options, he radioed his Mortar Infantry for fire support. He had hoped to keep them in reserve for the attack on the main complex, but this latest development had forced his hand.
The sound of explosions could be hear clearly as the checkpoint was leveled by a barrage of mortar rounds. Taking advantage of this, the Confederate force pushed through the burning checkpoint.
Inside the Athena Computer Complex
"We've lost contact with ATC-169. Trying to reestablish contact now." The Athena operator tried to reestablish communication with the satellite, to no avail.
"Not another one!" The supervisor slammed his fist into a surface in anger. "What is going on? That's the 21st satellite we've lost in three days! There are men and women out there who's lives depend on those satellites!"
The operator wondered what could be the cause of it. Certainly there must be something behind the malfunctions.
A few metres away, a group of operators were thinking the exact same thing, and trying to find out what the cause was. They were looking through the records of all the lost satellites, just before they had lost contact. One of the operators noticed something. All the satellites had recently passed over the same area. A pattern. He turned to inform the supervisor, but was interrupted by the intercom.
"Attention, the facility is under attack, all personnel are to evac - " The voice on the intercom was suddenly cut off. The personnel moved to evacuate the facility, but it was too late. The reinforced door exploded, as it was blown open by a high explosive charge. The two Peacekeepers on guard moved to stop the intruders, but fell as they took repeated hits from various weapons. Confederate forces swarmed into the facility.
Sergeant Boyd lifted his pistol to point it at one of the operators, even as his right shoulder continued to bleed. He had been wounded after a firefight. Fear was clearly visible in the operator's eyes as he realised the reason the Confederates had attacked the facility. "It wasn't us -"
"You lying scum. Scum like you deserves to die." One of the minutemen leveled his rifle at the man's head, but he was stopped by another rebel.
"Liar or not, he's only following the orders of his superiors." The rebel tried to reason with his colleague.
"Even so, how can you sleep knowing you what you did?" The minuteman spat.
"Please, believe me, I swear it wasn't us. We lost control of the satellite."
"Listen to me. If I were you, I would shut up and walk out of this complex before I change my mind and shoot your goddamn head. We're giving all of you five minutes to leave this complex. Do you understand?" Boyd said coldly. The man, now on the verge of a breakdown, nodded. Most of the Confederates lowered their weapons, but a few continued to glower.
Five minutes later, as the last of the personnel evacuated the complex, a massive explosion blew apart the Athena Computer Complex. The Delta Rangers had planted explosives all over the complex, which they had detonated once they had determined everyone was safely out of range.
Peacekeepers arrived a few minutes later, to find smoke rising from the complex and the Confederate strike force gone.
Without the Athena Complex, there was nothing left to control and coordinate the Athena Satellite Network. Furthermore, the Complex had served as one of the command centres for the T.H.R.O.N.E C.S.N.
One of the Allies' most deadly weapon systems had been disabled, and another odne crippled.
Boyd grimaced at the pain coming from his right shoulder as he drove.
"Are you sure you don't want me to take a look at that wound, Sarge? It looks pretty banged up," his former platoon medic asked.
"I'll be fine. Wait until we get back to the warehouse. Damn that Assault Striker." Boyd cursed as he recalled what had happened.
After the strike force had gotten past the checkpoint, things bogged down after they ran into an Assault Striker. Another unexpected development. The Assault Striker had only arrived a few days back, to reinforce the security detachment. Though the Confederates could deal with the rest of the vehicles, the Assault Striker had proven too much for them to handle, and Boyd had been hit in the shoulder by a shotgun.
They could very well have been wiped out, if not for some unexpected help.
Boyd didn't know who it was, or why they had helped. He remembered that one of the Guardian Tanks had suddenly been destroyed. When he looked for the source of the attack, he saw a figure, wielding a strange weapon of some sort. Several of the Peacekeepers had suddenly exploded, as if they had been hit by some sort of invisible weapon. The figure had sliced the Assault Striker in half with whatever weapon he, or she for that matter, had was wielding, and then went on to wipe out half of the security detachment using an arsenal of bizarre weapons, before leaving. By that time the security detachment had been weakened sufficiently that the Confederate strike force were able to push through and take the facility.
Boyd's last act was to swerve to the side, as he tried to avoid the blinding yellow blast that had suddenly come out of the sky. He died a second later, as his vehicle was sliced apart and destroyed, and was joined shortly after by the rest of the Confederate strike force.
Not too far away, the figure watched without a hint of emotion, as the Confederate strike force was wiped out. Objective complete.
The Peacekeepers found the bodies a few hours later.
Tai Shan Mountain Complex, the Atomic Kingdom of ChinaEdit
Some hours later
"Are you certain the Allied Athena Network has been neutralised completely?" The man known as Viceroy asked.
"The information comes from several sources. The Allies are keeping quiet about it, but we know from several of our Courtesans that the Allied Athena Complex was completely leveled. Judging from the fact that all Athena bombardment has stopped and the frantic communication between Allied leaders, we can conclude that the Athena Network is well and truly crippled." The eunuch replied.
Viceroy thought about it. "Any other news of note? How are the preparations?"
"I was informed that assembly of the last of the sleeper ships will be completed in eight days, though as with all the other ships, it is still missing several core components."
"I am well aware of the technology we still lack. Nothing else then?"
After the eunuch dismissed himself and left the room, Viceroy sat back down in his throne, and smiled ever so slightly. A single thought ran through his mind.
Soon, I can finally leave this Earth.
Boston, Massachusetts, the United StatesEdit
The first person to notice was one of the man's neighbours, who complained of the putrid odour coming from the man's apartment. Someone was sent up to check, and subsequently received an nasty shock. They were quick to call the police, who arrived shortly after.
Lieutenant Keith Murray opened the door to the house and stepped inside. True enough, there was a dead body dangling from a rope around its neck.
Murray tried to ignore the myriad of unpleasant smells coming from the corpse, and instead looked around the rest of the house. The parts of various appliances lay scattered across the floor.
Another officer joined Murray. "We'll send the body to the lab for analysis, so that they can get a good look at it. Other than that, there isn't anything else to do here. We're pretty much done here."
Murray checked his watch. With luck, he would get home in time for dinner.
After the police officers left, another person came. No one noticed him, for it was in the late hours of the night, and everyone was sound asleep. The man produced a key, slotted it into the lock, and turned it. The door opened, and the man stepped inside, without making a single sound. He knew what he was looking for. He crossed over to the other side of the room, and quickly found the panel. With his fingers, he gently pried it open, revealing the hidden compartment.
Inside the compartment, mounted on the wall was a crossbow and a longsword. The man removed both and placed them into a bag. He did so with the rest of the items in the cabinet. Once the compartment was empty, he replaced the panel, so that no one would know what he had done. The man went about the rest of the house, removing anything that could possibly link the now deceased man to the organisation he had worked for during his life. Once he was finished, he left as quietly as he had come, and disappeared into the night.