The eight years covering the first term of US President Gerry Ford and the single term of President Ted Kennedy had seen the country which the two men had led fall back from its leading position in world affairs, especially in the manner of shaping them. Severe economic woes at home had caused an internal distraction, one which forced the country’s leaders to look inwards. There were no wars for the United States to fight. There were no conflicts chosen to get involved in. Criticism came yet the eye was taken off the ball when so much else was going on in the world which was hostile to American interests. Arguments took place with allies, long-standing traditional ones such as those in Western Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. There were the repeated claims that the United States was losing its role as the guarantor of the free world as it retreated into itself while hostile aggression from opponents of the United States, and enemies of its allies, flourished in the face of this. Neither Ford nor Kennedy had agreed with such a line of thinking. They had kept their country out of costly foreign wars post-Vietnam and had believed that the red lines which they set, ones which were continually crossed, hadn’t been stomped all over. Kennedy’s successor, taking office at the beginning of 1985, had a different opinion. Jack Kemp, aided by the recognised highly-influential Donald Rumsfeld as his vice president, would set out to reverse the coming danger.
The coming danger was the red tide which had swept through Latin America in the years 1977-84. The Soviets were busy with their wars through Afghanistan against Islamic insurgents and the ‘correcting’ the revolution which had been undertaken by communists not to Moscow’s liking through Iran. Whilst doing so, the Soviet Union led by Yuri Andropov since 1977 (after Brezhnev’s untimely death), gave support given to the country’s fraternal allies in Cuba as a proxy. The Castro Brothers, Fidel and Raul, oversaw Cuba getting involved in wars throughout Latin America. It started small. The Castros feared American intervention and were careful when they played a role in the defeat of the Somoza regime in Nicaragua to not show their full hand. Ford let Nicaragua fall to the communist insurgents and was more aware than Havana realised of how much Cuban interference there had been, including all of those so-called volunteers who were really professional Cuban soldiers. After Nicaragua, Cuban influence spread further. First it was to the island nation of Grenada and then the Central American country of El Salvador. Cuban weapons came first and then those volunteers showed up to help with the liberation. At all times, Cuba was able to do what it did because the Soviets gave their support. The support could have been cut at any moment. It was Honduras next where both urban & rural guerrillas (fighting two different type of wars) fought there once El Salvador was overrun. The civil war in Honduras was brutal and a bloodbath in terms of civilian casualties. Nicaraguan troops, not volunteers, showed up before the Honduran regime, one screaming for American support which new president Kennedy refused to send on a point of principle, fell in mid 1982.
Difficulties began to occur in the Latin America Bloc where the Ortega Brothers – Daniel and Humberto – started to push back against the change in direction which the Cubans began to move their alliance starting in 1983. The Castros were coming under pressure from the new Soviet leader Grigory Romanov to dial back what was seen by him as unnecessary international aggression. Cuba was exporting armed revolution and its wars caused concern in Moscow. Romanov wanted to see a new relationship with the Americans on strategic arms and other serious geo-political matters whether the United States remain under Kennedy or a new president after their late 1984 presidential election. The Castros responded positively once the Soviet Union delayed some shipments of arms and fuel to the country. The Ortegas refused to. They aimed to spread the revolution further afield, both southwards through Costa Rica and into Panama, while also northwards to Guatemala and Mexico. A real split between Cuba and Nicaragua started to occur. Things changed though when a bitter personal clash at an international summit between Kennedy and Romanov occurred on the matter of strategic arms. Cuba was given encouragement from Moscow to restart what it had begun when US-Soviet relations spiralled downhill. Soviet influence in Nicaragua started to become separate to its relations with Cuba as well. The sweeping change in the situation when it came to Soviet games in Latin America were seen in a different light up in the United States. Kennedy got tough – he tried to be seen to be anyway – on the Soviets and also what were regarded across his country as Moscow’s proxy wars through Latin America using its stooges in Cuba and Nicaragua. Whereas before the regime of Omar Torrijos in Panama had been something which Kennedy had animosity towards, Kennedy gave support to them and allowed Panamanian action to take place in Costa Rica to stop the red tide there. To Guatemala and Mexico, Kennedy did an about-turn and allowed for covert American support to go to those regimes (Guatemala’s being rather nasty; Mexico’s just being plain old corrupt) as they fought America’s proxy wars on the frontlines in Central America. Elsewhere in the world, the Soviets were busy too playing games in Spain to keep that country out of NATO and also manipulating tense Middle Eastern affairs against Israel whom Kennedy had wholeheartedly supported in its recent wars.
United States action blew up in Kennedy’s face during late 1983. Soviet exposure of what was spun as America’s so-called secret wars in Latin America drew sharp opposition. Kennedy’s base was up in arms; Kennedy’s opponents privately favoured what was being done but used the spotlight shone on the death squads and illegal funding to attack the president to stop him being re-elected. American arms shipments and funding was cut off by Congress in the fall-out. Soviet games extended in the region had fulfilled their goals of weakening Kennedy. They were done. Neither their new allies in Nicaragua nor old allies in Cuba were though. Guatemala was a lost cause yet Mexico was something different. Through happenstance, not design, the red tide of revolution spread there. It was an internal matter due to a spectacular domestic economic crash followed by an attempted coup d’état by the military. Mexico slowly descended into civil war. Kennedy talked tough but didn’t, couldn’t interfere. Romanov wanted nothing to do with the Mexican Civil War fearing that it would ignite a world war. The Castros and the Ortegas made nice with each other and interfered in Mexico. 1984 saw the civil war supported by those external actors from abroad. Again and again, Romanov urged his allies to back off yet didn’t turn off the tap of material and financial support for them. There was a plan in Moscow for how things in Mexico would go and how it would tie Cuba and Nicaragua firmly to the Soviet Union completely. Like Kennedy, Romanov had his scheme fail too. His allies couldn’t be trusted. They were aiming to bring down the whole country and establish a communist regime on America’s doorstep. Volunteers weren’t yet sent to Mexico: Romanov drew his red line for his allies on that matter. Yet, not to his knowledge, there were those within the Soviet leadership, the KGB head at the top, who were doing the opposite and encouraging (and helping) wreck Romanov’s plans for their own domestic powerplays.
Civil war in Mexico caused a strong domestic political reaction in the United States. Kennedy was seen as doing nothing as he tried to not upset his re-election campaign. Mexico plunged further into chaos though and there were refugees who came over the border. Suspicion of more foreign interference than there actually was occurred and the political mood in the country was ‘to act’. Kennedy sunk in the polls, faced by a challenger in the form of Kemp who promised ‘to act’. In November, Kemp won the election. Romanov by that point fully understood what would happen if he didn’t put a stop to everything: a world war against the United States and what allies it could muster, probably including China among them. He instructed his allies to cease and desist all and every activity in Mexico. The Castros and the Ortegas refused and instead did what Romanov had long told them not to: move troops into Mexico to aid the communists rebels who fought through the New Year to take control of much of Mexico. Romanov cut off aid and this had the effect of causing his opponents at home to try to make their move. They failed in that. Romanov had the new KGB chief aim to sow discord among the Cuban-Nicaraguan alliance and within each too. They carried onwards with their behaviour, convinced that Romanov would reverse course once again. He didn’t. This time it was different. A final warning was sent days before Kemp’s inauguration of no more support for Cuba and Nicaragua. The response was negative and more of their forces were sent to Mexico. They had made their bed, so the Castros and Ortegas must lie in it. The Soviet foreign minister and his new opposite number in Washington met in Geneva. Romanov’s abandonment of its allies was made clear to Kemp.
Operation Southern Storm commenced on February 4th 1985. Kemp kept his promise ‘to act’ when it came to Mexico and the red tide on America’s southern border.
The multi-stage military operation across a wide region had been in the planning for many months, crossing through the Kennedy and Kemp administrations behind the scenes. There had been an announced military build-up and also further American military preparations not made public. There was always going to be more time needed, but the Americans felt that they were ready enough to make their strike. A huge force had been assembled and was unleashed southwards.
Mexico was at first the main theatre of military operations. From the skies, American bombs rained down on Mexican forces fighting for the revolution against the governmental forces which were on the back-foot. Cuban and Nicaraguan troops were few in number but were hit hard by air strikes as well; where their fighters came up, were shot out of the skies above Mexico. American ground forces moved into Mexico. The Yucatan Peninsula saw the arrival of the US Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps land to take on the Cuban military presence there. The two combat divisions (the 82nd Airborne & 101st Air Assault) fought through February against stronger Cuban opposition than anticipated and then against Mexican revolutionaries as well. Their victory here was always going to happen though, especially since Cuba, just across the Yucatan Channel, might have been half a world away when US air and naval power came into play. Across the Rio Grande from Texas and down from New Mexico came the five-division US Army III Corps (1st Cavalry, 1st Infantry, 2nd Armored, 4th Infantry & 5th Infantry) which entered Mexico and took on all comers. Their destination was Mexico City. They got there within three weeks, smashing all before them though, like their fellow soldiers fighting in the Yucatan, it wasn’t as easy as first thought and not a fight whose cost wasn’t high in losses. US Marines with two divisions (the 1st & 3rd) went into northwestern Mexico from their starting points in California and Arizona overland as well as making amphibious inroads on Mexico’s Pacific coastline where rebels could be found too. They supported government forces in eliminating revolutionary elements and also a Nicaraguan force which had moved high up into Mexico. The Marines raced ahead soon enough, taking over a huge chunk of Mexico and at one point dreaming of Mexico City… until the US Army had Rumsfeld’s ear on that matter and made sure that the III Corps got there first.
From both Guatemala and Panama, the US Army used their I Corps to lead a joint effort with those two countries – the Americans did the heavy work though – to smash Central America’s red regimes. Honduras was where the 7th Infantry fought; the 9th Infantry went to El Salvador and the 25th Infantry (having moved from Hawaii to Panama) advanced through Costa Rica into Nicaragua. The Ortega regime collapsed faster than anyone could have thought; there were too many troops sent abroad. In El Salvador and Honduras, the fighting went on for far longer and the conflict might have been officially over by the eventual ceasefire but it really wasn’t. The killing would go on for a long time afterwards in those two unfortunate countries, drawing in more and more Guatemalan and Panamanian action after American troops would eventually leave.
Cuba was hit with air and naval attacks as Southern Storm struck at the island nation. Soviet forces in-country had been ordered inside their garrisons and such places were off-limits to American action. Havana was bombed and Cuba’s military targeted. Despite all the bombs and naval shelling, Cuba did what America feared it would and attacked Guantanamo Bay. An infantry assault took place, one supported by tanks too. Cuba’s army in Mexico took a battering and couldn’t move but on home soil those who advanced on ‘Gitmo’ were able to charge towards the long-held American base in number. Once Cuba’s troops made their move, the Americans did what they hadn’t wanted to but what Kemp knew was necessary: put troops into Cuba. There were US Marines at Gitmo but more arrived when the II MAF made their opposed landing on Cuban soil either side, putting the 2nd Marine Division (reinforced by Marine Reservists in number) in first and then the US Army’s 24th Infantry Division to follow. The Army troops here were under Marine command and there were inter-service difficulties more than anywhere else during the ongoing war including friendly fire. Gitmo was defended outside of the base perimeter, deep on Cuban soil. The Cubans kept on moving in men, despite immense air attacks. The Americans had committed so many troops elsewhere and had no more of their own to spare due to standing European commitments (Kennedy had not got around to removing them despite at the nadir of trans-Atlantic relations in 1982 threatening to). National guardsmen from selected units had been mobilised before Southern Storm started and units of them, forming a trio of composite divisions as part of the new US XI Corps, arrived in Cuba by the end of February.
By March, the war in Mexico was effectively won and it could be argued that the Central American fight was done with too when Nicaragua had fallen. In Cuba the fighting continued though. Romanov and Kemp talked through intermediaries first and then directly: Soviet assurance was given that Cuba had been cut loose. There was a deal struck where the Soviets would get what they wanted somewhere else in the world later, something that would later haunt Kemp’s presidency, but for now the Americans got what they wanted in having Cuba all to themselves. The XVIII Airborne Corps made an assault on Cuba, at its western end. The 82nd & 101st Divisions landed in and around the port of Mariel. More national guardsmen would join them as Kemp caught political flak at home with such deployments but made them anyway as he sought to win the war in Cuba. The war was to be won in Havana where American forces advanced on. US Navy warships with gunfire support aided that drive from Mariel towards the Cuban capital and so did the US Air Force with tactical aircraft as well as wings of B-52s dropping bombs aplenty. Havana was entered on March 10th and taken within four days. Cuban resistance was stubborn. The Castros had declared a patriotic war and got their people to fight. Havana was the key though to ending the war. The majority of Cuba’s army had been elsewhere and the capital was lost. The Castros were nowhere to be found by the Americans searching for them. Their presence was betrayed though when the KGB passed on information to the CIA through a go-between: Romanov sold out the Castros once again. Fidel was killed and Raul captured alive. The Americans, fighting and dying every day in Cuba despite victory after victory, finally managed to achieve victory when the complete fall of the Castros was announced and, more so, believed across Cuba.
Southern Storm was over after six weeks. Cuba and Nicaragua had been beaten and fallen to American occupation. Kemp had fulfilled his campaign promise to stop the red tide through Latin America which had swept as far as the Rio Grande before being stopped… if it hadn’t, it could have carried on going northwards. Romanov had abandoned his allies though the Soviet Union would soon reap the benefits elsewhere in the world. World War Three had been averted though the consequences of America’s sudden war against its southern neighbours would be long in the making.
Has anyone heard of the TL ‘Flies on their Eyelids’, also known as ‘the War on Terror’? With the deaths in recent months of former presidents McCain and Bush, this story got bumped over on another forum I was browsing.
It was an interesting read.
It starts back in 2000 when the son of President Bush (1989-1993), George Jnr. aka ‘Duyba’, beats John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination that year. I had to look up Bush Jnr. I recalled then that he did run but dropped out after losing the primary in South Carolina. Here he wins. Bush Jnr then goes on to the election in November. So, no President McCain. [sad face emoji] The race comes down to the wire and VP Al Gore and he both have Florida, and thus the presidency, in contention. Bush Jnr wrangles a victory with a highly-dramatic Supreme Court battle. He lost the popular vote and his brother is governor of Florida, thus with a position to interfere in a recount, but gets elected president. Okay…
His first few months concern the environment and financial stuff – boring – before all of a sudden what we known as the September 20th of 2001 terror attacks occur. This time it is September 11th though. This TL has a very similar set of strikes by Osama bin Laden though with both Twin Towers hit and brought down, the Pentagon hit only once and a fourth aircraft taken over by passengers & crashing when out of control in Pennsylvania. This, naturally, differs from how history knows 9/20 (deemed 9/11 in the story) where in OTL only one tower was hit and brought down, the Pentagon hit twice and the fourth jet, the last one (a delay taking off) being crashed by passengers in Long Island Sound. There is a conspiracy theory in the story about some guys posing as a camera crew in Florida the day that Bush Jnr was there but this never gets developed in the story: this is a bit off. Anyway… Bush Jnr spends the day in hiding, airbase to bunker to airbase rather than doing what McCain did in OTL and at once being out in public.
Bush Jnr launches a War on Terror. The TL title comes from a scene at the CIA where some head spook talks of this not being over until all the guys responsible have flies on their eyelids. One fan of the TL called it War on Terror as shorthand though the author sticks stubbornly to Flies on their Eyelids. This is a major point of the TL where we have Bush Jnr with a vice president like no other – another guy I’d barely heard of: Dick Cheney, look him up on Wikipedia and tell me he doesn’t look evil! – and an administration surrounded by Neo-Cons. In OTL, McCain had nothing to do with such people but Bush Jnr surrounds himself with them. I was waiting for Bush Snr to appear in the story and help his son get rid of Donald Rumsfeld (they have bad personal history) but, alas, the former president stays out and his son is the focus. Anyway, back to Flies on their Eyelids, and ‘what it all means’. This War on Terror that Bush Jnr lets his VP and the Neo-Cons lead is quite something. CIA blacksites for torture farmed out to foreign nations. Kidnapping suspects from friendly countries. Spying on allies. Waterboarding!? And a hell of a lot more bad stuff going on.
The TL mirrors mostly what McCain did with Afghanistan though the focus comes off ridding the country fully of the Taliban and moves to Iraq. In OTL, if you recall, US special forces got bin Laden in early 2002 and took him to the United States for trial. Here in the TL, he is allowed to get away – something to do with the British not being allowed to grab him when they had him in their sights and bin Laden running IIRC – and Bush Jnr turns his rage to Iraq. Yes, even as a big fan of him I admit that McCain in OTL didn’t handle Iraq post-9/20 well but Flies on their Eyelids goes off-theme to a major degree. Bush Jnr invades Iraq and topples Saddam leading to a decade-long war and having so much of the world enraged against America.
bin Laden and the guys who should have those flies crawling across the skin covering their dead eyes? Not forgotten about but the TL has moved on.
This is where I skipped a lot of the details and specifics of updates while looking for the important bits. Bush Jnr got re-elected in 2004 over an anti-Iraq War candidate named John Kerry. McCain in OTL beat Edwards though the campaigns really differ from the fiction to how history has it: bin Laden’s federal death sentence under McCain naturally didn’t happen in Flies on their Eyelids because of that Iraq War focus. I didn’t read all the details. I skipped forward to the US election in 2008 to look to see if they’d got him yet. Mister World Champion Hide-&-Seek was still missing, hiding in a cave apparently. The TL has Obama win in 2008, now over McCain who runs again; Evil Cheney didn’t run despite being built up as this powerful, scheming VP who had Bush Jnr as his puppet. Obama I know: he is the current US Secretary of State and needs no Wikipedia search.
May 2011 sees bin Laden caught and killed. Hiding in a house in Pakistan, next to an army base he apparently was. Oh and the Pakistanis didn’t know… yeah, okay. Bush Jnr and Cheney would have… oh, no, I mean Obama and his VP Biden, would have flattened Islamabad in a B-52 Arc Light strike, I think. Regardless of my wish as a reader, the US sent in SEALs on a kill mission and the reader of the TL sees the flies a-crawling on eyelids as the story’s final scene. The author stuck to his title and linked it to the final scene well enough though War on Terror was still a good alternative name for the TL. That was worth it but for it to be under Obama didn’t sit well to me as a reader. I thought Bush Jnr should have got him, doing what McCain did and seeing the courts put him on trial for murder and terrorism. He gets shot in that house in the TL and his body ‘buried at sea’… pushed off the side of an aircraft carrier into the ocean.
Overall, it is a good story. Hell, it is different. The presidents chosen are interesting because Bush Jnr was unexpected. I didn’t read how Obama got himself elected but that seemed to be an Iraq War issue. bin Laden playing hide-&-seek and the arch villain Cheney are good story-telling skills even if a bit of a shock to the reader. I guess I should read the whole thing in detail. I’ve just spoilt it for you too, especially by revealing the ending.
Three years ago, the United States was at the forefront of an international coalition which invaded Saudi Arabia and deposed the regime there of the House of Saud. In its place, the Republic of Arabia was established: freedom and democracy were brought to the renamed country, the Coalition claimed, and there was a bright future ahead for this land at the centre of the Middle East.
The ‘Saudi War’ was a brutal affair. The invasion and then the occupation were costly in terms of destruction caused and lives lost. It was a conflict which rocked the world with its affects felt seemingly everywhere across the globe. The insurgency inside the Republic of Arabia was one fought by Saudis as well as volunteers from across the Arab World: terrorists, the Coalition called them. American forces did the bulk of the fighting yet they had allies in this fight including several Muslim nations who provided troops for the war, especially for occupation duties around Mecca and Medina. Regardless of that specific of the occupation, there were ‘infidels in the Holy Land’ and this drew out the war where those who hated the deposed former regime came to the country to fight to establish something different from Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Arabia too: they wanted to see an expansive, theocratic nation develop. It would have been another Islamic State as seen in years gone past if they had their way. They didn’t get what they wanted. The United States threw everything it had at winning.
Victory had been declared earlier today by the American president when he visited Riyadh. The insurgency was beaten and a ‘big, beautiful democracy’ had risen. His legacy was complete. When he left office in January next year, the president was certain that this would define his administration for decades to come. The Saudi War really would.
Air Force One left Riyadh International Airport (formerly King Khalid International) ten minutes after two in the afternoon. It got airborne and started flying northwards. Baghdad was the destination where the president would visit his counterpart there: the Iraqi leader had been instrumental in aiding the fight to defeat the insurgency and also had provided the majority of those troops for the Mecca and Medina mission. There had been a huge security effort on the ground and that continued in the sky. Flying from bases in both the Republic of Arabia and also from Bahrain – the latter country had seen Saudi activities which had been the casus belli for the war –, there were escorting fighters. The US Air Force had F-22A Raptors in close escort while also flying distant patrols too: all to keep Air Force One and the president safe.
It was one of those F-22s which shot Air Force One out of the sky.
The pilot was a long-serving officer with the US Air Force. Despite claims to the contrary made afterwards, he wasn’t a radical secret Muslim convert. He hadn’t planned this at all. Chance came to Lieutenant-Colonel Alan Mitchell… and it was a chance he took. Mitchell’s only son had been killed during the Saudi War. It was a conflict which had taken over seven thousand American lives, all of them acts of murder in his eyes. Long having blamed his president personally for his son’s death, until today Mitchell had never considered taking his vengeance. How could he have done so? Then he was told he was flying escort for his son’s murderer.
There was a second F-22 in the sky close to Air Force One. Mitchell was off the converted passenger jet’s port wing, his wingman was off the starboard side. He didn’t do anything to alert his fellow pilot what he was doing. Alone in his aircraft’s cockpit, Mitchell armed his carried air-to-air missiles and then planned his manoeuvre. It was rushed, hasty and dangerous. That was not what he was trained to do but what he could do.
Mitchell activated his airbrakes. His F-22 slowed down suddenly and he fell behind the two other aircraft in the sky. Those aboard neither of them noticed this occurring yet. A distant AWACS aircraft did. A fighter controller aboard alerted his superior officer to the sudden change in Mitchell’s position. A query was made, an urgent one at that. Mitchell ignored the radio call from the AWACS though. His wingman also came on the airwaves, asking what was going on too after hearing that attempt to contact Mitchell. Once more, that call went unanswered.
Two AIM-9X Sidewinders were fired.
Mitchell had a firm lock-on with each in the seconds before he launched them. They blazed away from his aircraft and bore-in towards the engines of Air Force One. The wait for impact was short: Mitchell was less than three miles back. One engine on each side was hit with explosions knocking out engines #2 and #3. The two other engines didn’t escape damage though with the both of them ingesting fragments of the others. Turbine blades were torn and fires started in each. There was other damage elsewhere across Air Force One too due to the blasts under each wing throwing debris about with wanton abandon.
Mitchell contacted Air Force One on the radio in the seconds after his Sidewinders slammed home.
“Tell the president to go f**k himself… and that’s from me and my boy!” With more thought put into it, Mitchell would have said something far more profound for history’s sake. Alas, these were to be his last words on this earth and they would have to do.
Air Force One had fires in two engines and two more of them utterly destroyed. Part of the starboard wing had been sheared off and wreckage had ripped into the port tailplane plus the vertical stabiliser. The aircraft was doomed. It started falling from the sky, spinning as it did.
The desert was below.
Mitchell chased after the doomed aircraft. He opened fire with his F-22’s cannon. None of the 20mm shells struck home no matter how hard he tried to hit it. Air Force One was out of control. It spun in a counter-clockwise direction though also flipped over as well onto its side and then its back. Sirens wailed in Mitchell’s cockpit: his aircraft was locked-on by his wingman’s fighter. From the distant AWACS, the fighter controller had ordered that Mitchell be shot down. There was a belief that Air Force One might be saved and he continued to fire on it as it fell out of the sky.
A lone Sidewinder exploded right behind Mitchell’s diving fighter. His F-22 was now just as doomed as Air Force One as both headed for the desert. It didn’t take long for the two aircraft, one after another, to reach the ground. Each smeared itself and those aboard them into the sovereign soil of the Republic of Arabia.
Mitchell hadn’t killed just his president. He knew that there were others aboard that aircraft. His didn’t think of them though. Ninety-two others were slain alongside the man who he blamed for his son’s death. Even in his own last moments, it was all about the murderer of his child and not those also aboard that aircraft.
"Air Force One is down," further radio messages went out, "and the president was aboard".
Like the Saudi War, this act would be felt worldwide with tremendous consequences for all.
It began with a nuclear attack though the war was supposed to remain conventional afterwards.
Launching from the Baltic Sea to the west and from the north out of the Kara Sea, American submarines fired cruise missiles into the Soviet Union. These were nuclear-tipped. Moscow went up in a fireball which broke through the clouds high above the country’s capital above when a pair of detonations occurred over Red Square and also the Arbat. Mayday celebrations were taking place in Moscow and the entire Soviet leadership was present for the ‘show’. More cruise missiles went elsewhere across the western half of the country. They crashed into buried command posts for the Soviet’s own nuclear arsenal in the form of its silo-based ICBMs. This attack left a huge chuck of weapons available for any retaliatory strike still in play, but command and control for a massive portion of it was suddenly gone.
The nuclear strike undertaken by the Americans was just meant to be that one attack. They believed they had wiped out the entire leadership – and were correct in that assessment – and that the sudden, overwhelming attack would make any general officers who survived with access to launch codes reconsider any foolish ideas of hitting back. In Washington, their president and his advisers were dead wrong on this. Many of their allies, who had signed up to this despite fearing it would all end in nuclear fire, had cautioned that someone would hit back. That occurred. Within the hour, orders came from a surviving marshal with Long Range Aviation: the Soviet’s version of America’s Strategic Air Command. He had seen airbases where his bombers called home hit with commando attacks from Green Berets this morning causing untold amounts of damage with two their two dozen armed raids, but there were some aircraft left which could fly. The Strategic Rocket Forces were unable to give the Americans a taste of their own medicine, but Long Range Aviation would. Missile-carrying bombers got airborne from three airbases, went over the Pole and fired down into North America. Two American cities – Detroit and Milwaukee – were bathed in thermonuclear fire along with the Canadian capital Ottawa as well. NORAD-assigned interceptors took down other bombers before they could fire on further targets (Washington chief among those) yet millions of Americans and Canadians were killed.
European allies of America paid for this attack like the Canadians did too. Krakow and Prague, in Poland and Czechoslovakia, were also hit with nuclear attacks. It could have been far, far worse but other bombers were shot down by forward positioned Allied fighters before they could not only attack the cities of the Allies but both of the neutral Germanies – each devoid of Allied and Soviet troops – as well. In a counter-counterstrike, the Americans would attack Sverdlovsk and the French (giving vengeance for the Poles and the Czechoslovaks) would hit Rostov with unanswered further nuclear strikes.
The war was a conventional one afterwards. Operation Phoenix commenced straight after the opening nuclear attacks were made. It was a Barbarossa #2… but bigger!
From out of Poland, both the Northern & Central Army Groups invaded the Soviet Union. The British-led NORTHAG had two main thrusts along with supporting coastal flank attack and forward air drop. From northeastern Poland, the British I Corps went into the Lithuanian SSR and also the Kaliningrad Oblast. They tore forwards and started marching on Leningrad. British and Dutch marines landed in Riga Bay, making a strong amphibious landing in the Latvian SSR: behind them the British II Corps (with a strong Belgian and Canadian element) would follow them in the coming days. On the right, the French II Corps went through the northern reaches of the Belorussian SSR on a north-eastern axis of advance. The Polish II Corps was on their flank but out ahead of both, paratroopers with the French III Corps made a huge airborne drop near to Minsk. The rest of the corps was to be airlifted in soon enough. In addition, the Belgian and Dutch had their BENELUX Corps behind to act as an army group reserve. Six corps strong, a total of twenty Allied divisions, NORTHAG made a fantastic start as they raced over the border and into the Soviet Union this May morning. Soviet forces were in their barracks and attacked there while Allied forces were in the field and on the move.
CENTAG was in the main an American army though there were strong Italian, Portuguese and Spanish attachments along with what the Soviet leadership would have deem “treacherous” Czechoslovaks and Poles… if they hadn’t all been atomised in Moscow. Twenty-two divisions attacked with this command on an extensive frontage. The US III Corps went through the central part of the Belorussian SSR from their Polish staging bases and avoided the Pripet Marshes while also right up against the Poles with NORTHAG on their left. Far beyond, there would be room to spread out by for now they were bunched up. Into the Ukrainian SSR, the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, went three more American corps (US V, VII & XI Corps) along with the Polish I Corps and the Italian 5th Corps. Czechoslovakian territory was used too as a launch pad though both Hungary and Romania, erstwhile allies of the Soviet Union yet who suddenly – or not so suddenly it must be said – declared their neutrality were left well alone. CENTAG marched on Kiev yet also the industrial Eastern Ukraine beyond.
Turkey invaded Bulgaria and also launched a major naval and air attack against the Crimea. Soviet forces were caught unawares on the Crimea with their Black Sea Fleet massacred in port. They waited for a follow-up amphibious assault but would have a long wait… the Turks would find that they had bitten off more than they could chew inside Bulgaria. Moreover, Turkish forces also crossed the border into the Soviet Caucasus. They were joined there by Imperial Iranian forces who would get as far as Baku yet find, like the Turks would, that the Caucasus would be a graveyard for so many of these Allied forces. Turkish behaviour in Armenia would lead to credible allegations of war crimes fast commencing.
Other Iranian forces, these with their First Army, were joined by the US XVIII Corps in attacking Soviet Central Asia. Through the Turkmen SSR they went first with a big airborne operation made around Turkmenabat by American paratroopers. This allowed quick access to the Uzbek SSR and the edges of the huge insurgency against Soviet rule which was taking place there and also through the Kyrgyz & Tajik SSRs. Soviet central forces were already in disarray faced with a rebellion on an unprecedented scale and now the Allies were here. The distant Kazakh Steppe was where they intended to get to, though that remained very far away.
US Marines spearheaded the assault into the Soviet Union from the northwest. The II Marine Amphibious Force had Norwegian staging bases though in the main it was a series of amphibious landings which they undertook. The British and Norwegians went over the short land border but into the Kola US Marines went via landing ships and helicopters to take Severomorsk before marching on Murmansk. They made a flanking attack to secure Archangelsk as well with Marine Reservists arriving there after a dangerous passage through the White Sea. Leningrad, which NORTHAG was going for from the front, was not somewhere that the II MAF was aiming to beat them to by coming from the rear due to the distances involved but it would be fun if the Soviets believed that and reacted accordingly, wouldn’t it?
Like Bulgaria, North Korea was one of the very few reliable Soviet allies left worldwide. The Americans joined with the South Koreans in crossing over the DMZ and heading north. The main element of Operation Phoenix in Asia were the landings into Soviet territory there. The US Marines’ I MAF assaulted Vladivostok while the III MAF undertook opposed assaults into the Kurile Islands & Kamchatka. Australian and Filipino troops joined with the I MAF (New Zealand would have none of this “madness”) while the Japanese were part of the III MAF attack. The US Army assisted the US Marines when they committed their IX Corps to the Vladivostok mission once it expanded though still left men with their I Corps on the Korean Peninsula. As was seen off the Kola, American carriers were present in abundance. Soviet naval forces were attacked in port. As their army, air force and strategic forces were, the Soviet’s navy was at peacetime readiness and massacred.
Operation Phoenix, the destruction of the Soviet Union, was underway. Abandoned by supposed friends and with a leadership decapitated in a surprise nuclear attack, the Allies had the Soviets right on the ropes from the get go. Their secret mobilisation came with a forward deployment that Soviet intelligence missed wholeheartedly. They were beset by internal strife and exposed to an attack on an unimaginable scale.
In the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Far East, the Allied objectives were to strangle the Soviet Union from the south and east. They aimed to take important territory and restrict the ability of the Soviets to lash out abroad. Conquering huge areas of territory here – such as the Kazakh SSR or Siberia – were out of the question. However, things were different in the western regions of the Soviet Union. The aim for Phoenix was for the Allies to take the Baltic SSRs, both the Belorussian & Ukrainian SSRs and most of the western parts of the Russian SSR. The Volga River, far beyond the ruins of what once was Moscow, was to be reached before winter. The Allies would gobble up Soviet territory and rid it of their rule from Gorky to Kazan to Kuybyshev to Volgograd as they brought down communist rule when going for the Volga but also occupy Leningrad as well. If needed, if the Soviets didn’t give in, the Urals were for next year. Phoenix was ‘limited’ in this fantastic goal.
Following that opening attacks on the war’s first day which saw Blue Dawn occur, the Allies marched onwards. Could they win this war before the first snows fell? Or would they still be here inside the world’s biggest country, with the world’s most-populous nation sitting neutral on its frontiers too, next year and maybe in years to come?
Tariq knew where the bomb came from. Zaid hadn’t been told that detail.
Tariq was aware what the bomb really was. Zaid had been lied to there.
The two of them drove the bomb into the heart of London. It was late morning and the white van, with Tariq behind the wheel and Zaid beside him in the cab passenger seat, went along the South Bank via York Road. They headed towards the County Hall roundabout, to the southwest. Traffic was heavy and was causing a delay.
“What time is it?”
There was a time display on the dashboard. Zaid asked the question of Tariq yet he must have seen what the van’s clock said. He asked because he was nervous but his question wasn’t answered.
“We’re going to be a little bit late.” Tariq was mentally calculating the time it would take them to get where they were going. “Not too late, just a few minutes off.”
The traffic started moving. Neither man said no more. Tariq drove them around the roundabout along with the other moving vehicles. He cut inside a double-decked red bus – a hallmark of London – to get onto Westminster Bridge Road a few seconds earlier than he would have done otherwise.
Zaid stared out of the window. His mind wasn’t on the images of London before his eyes.
“There it is.”
Tariq smiled as he saw the clock tower which rose above him as he approached it. Zaid said nothing in response though to that and didn’t even give it a look.
They drove over Westminster Bridge. The River Thames flowed them and where they could find the British Government was ahead.
When the traffic slowed ahead, upon reaching the Whitehall side, Zaid brought his attention back. If he hadn’t of had, Tariq would have made sure that he did.
This was no time to be distracted.
“It is three minutes after twelve.” Now Zaid was reading that clock.
“They’ll all be inside by now.” Tariq was utterly confident of that.
“Yes. And they’ll all die, inshallah.”
Zaid reached down below where he was seated. In the footwell, there were two automatic rifles. These were AK-74U carbines – with a short barrel designed for the use of parachutists – and a weapon of great significance in propaganda to those who inspired both Tariq and Zaid. He put one of those in Tariq’s lap and placed the second in his own.
Tariq knew that they would never get the chance to use them. Zaid believed that they would.
As the van reached Parliament Square, beyond Elizabeth Tower in which Big Ben sat, what Tariq had gazed up upon as they came over the bridge, it was turned to the left. Tariq drove them down beside the Houses of Parliament. He spoke his final words to Zaid, still lying to him as he had been doing so for a long time. “We get out, start shooting and then the bomb goes off. We have two minutes to get clear and inside the building. The bomb will stop anyone coming after us.
Start shooting, Zaid, and don’t stop.”
Zaid was willing to sacrifice himself, to go down shooting and also to see a bomb go off. Tariq had never doubted that of his friend. The man who had gave them the bomb and set their mission into action had not wanted him to know though, fearing that if anyone beyond Tariq knew, word would eventually get out.
Two men can share a secret, he said, but three cannot.
So Zaid had been lied to. He thought he and Tariq had brought into London a ‘standard’ bomb.
As he spoke, Tariq opened the circuit breaker attached beneath the steering wheel by flicking a near-hidden switch. The bomb was already armed but this was the lone safety check. Zaid didn’t see what was done. He was looking outside and imagining the chaos he would cause with his rifle before and after the bomb went off.
“I am ready!”
“Wait… wait… now!” Tariq slammed on the vehicle’s breaks as he swung the wheel over. The van came to a violent stop. It was in Parliament Square, right in front of Parliament.
Zaid jumped out of the vehicle. His rifle was in his hands. His eyes swung for people to shoot at. They would suffer the consequences for the actions of their government.
Tariq didn’t do the same thing. The driver’s side door remained closed and his rifle stayed in his lap. “For my father, who you all murdered,” he quietly said, before adding an afterthought to justify this, “and all of my brothers and sisters elsewhere around the world too.”
He closed his eyes and then slammed his palm hard twice on the steering wheel where the horn was.
There was a blinding flash and no more for neither Tariq nor Zaid.
The bomb detonated at five minutes after midday. It was a Wednesday lunchtime. Inside Parliament, Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) were taking place inside the Commons Chamber. With recent political events leading to what the media had deemed a ‘showdown’ today, those whom the man who had given Tariq the bomb wanted to see dead would all be in there.
He himself had long left London and Britain too. With his diplomatic passport, he flew home. He didn’t want to he inside the country when the bomb went off.
It was a thermonuclear device with an explosive yield of thirty-six kilotons. Exploding at ground level, a surface burst in military terms, much of its potential was robbed due to that. If it had blown up in the sky, there would have been far more destruction unleashed. An aeroplane, a missile, even a helicopter might have achieved that. But Tariq had a van and a van would do.
The blast created a fireball. That fireball atomised everything around it. The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, New Scotland Yard, government buildings along Whitehall as far as Downing Street… they were all inside that fireball. Everything and everyone inside the radius of the fireball was gone forever. A huge crater would be dug into the ground, including through tunnels of the London Underground rail network.
The air blast shot outwards in every direction. On the edges of the fireball, the force of it was equivalent to twenty pounds per square inch (PSI). Buildings were blown down, even the most-sturdy of those. The destruction levelled off the further way from Westminster Square but the damage done was unparalleled in terms of any such attack ever launched against one city. As far north as Soho, to the west out to Hyde Park Corner, to Pimlico & Vauxhall in the south and out to the Elephant & Castle in the east if buildings weren’t brought down, they could fall soon enough.
Radiation went further outwards away from where the blast had been. Flash radiation would kill so many. The victims would survive the fireball and blast wave but soon succumb to quite the horrible death.
Glass shattered everywhere, again far outwards in every direction. The pressure was down to just one PSI but this was enough. Office blocks in The City and beyond would be left with without windows. The glass would maim and kill everywhere extending from Regents Park to Knightsbridge to Stockwell to Camberwell to the Tower of London to Shoreditch. People already blinded when their eyes were drawn to the flash, were now knocked down as the shockwave continued outwards.
The ground burst would mean fallout. The winds would blow that northeast and away from London. Maybe it wouldn’t be much but it would be enough to kill many for a long time to come.
The government centre of London had been wiped out in a flash. All of those politicians had been at the very heart of the explosion attending PMQs. Royalty was killed too with the monarch and heir both losing their lives. Senior civil servants aplenty were right in the area of destruction or would quickly lose their lives too. All around all of this important people slain, were the millions of Londoners caught up in the blast and murdered too. Their lives were taken in the fireball, the blast wave, the flash radiation and then the utter chaos which would follow.
In an act of terror, the nuclear destruction of London had occurred.
Overnight and into the early hours of the morning, Russian and European Defence Organisation (EUDO) military forces had clashed in and around the Baltic States. No official state of war had yet to exist between the two sides though that was fast coming as the armed clashes got bigger and deadlier. The EUDO advanced forces there defending the territorial integrity of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had responded to Russian and Belorussian attacks and the counterblows escalated. In the air, at sea and then on land, the Baltic States, Poland and parts of the Baltic Sea became a war zone. The ante was upped again and again. The conflict spread at a rapid rate. It reached the Norwegian Sea just after daybreak.
Months of increasing tensions in the Baltic States had seen many British military deployments and one of those was the Royal Navy sending ships to sea in case of conflict erupting. There were some in the Baltic, others in the North Sea and more out in the North Atlantic. Further ships were in the Norwegian Sea with a battle group built around the biggest ship in Fleet service, that being the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. She along with five other British ships (joined by another from an allied nation) had been at sea for two months when the conflict finally started. There were communications problems with Fleet Headquarters at Northwood straight away and those were part of electronic warfare measures being undertaken against the UK generally and the British Armed Forces in particular. Russia was fast to throw all methods of warfare it had at its disposal against Britain and what further EUDO countries (EUDO being a replacement for the dead NATO, one killed by American disengagement) it was certain to fight: that wasn’t all of them too as some backed out of treaty commitments at the last minute. Still, regardless of that interference, the message was out. British and Russian forces were engaged in trading shots with each other and the politicians were soon to get their act together and declare war. The Queen Elizabeth and those aboard her were at war before it was official. There was a heightened state of alert and a readiness to fight. The carrier and her escorts were moving southeast, down towards the North Sea. They were coming closer to mainland Britain to provide air defence for the country should it come under attack as well as responding to reports from both the Danes and the Dutch – both EUDO members – of Russian warships approaching the Danish Straits in a possible attempt to come through them. Working with allies but also the RAF too, the Queen Elizabeth with her air group of two dozen strike-fighters in the form of F-35B Lightnings would make short work of them should it come to a shooting match.
However, the Queen Elizabeth was engaged by the Russians first this morning.
Eighteen aircraft had come out of Russian airbases on the Kola Peninsula and gone around Norway before coming south. They flew individually and behind a mask of passive electronic jamming as well as without emitting any electronic signals throughout their journey. They tried to stay silent but were unsuccessful. The Norwegians picked up several aircraft and sent a message to their fellow EUDO armed forces national command centres: Northwood didn’t get that direct message though as Russian electronic warfare scored a success there. Still, the RAF detected several aircraft and correctly identified them as Russian Air Force and Navy aircraft coming downwards on a course taking them towards the UK mainland. The alarm was sounded. The Sentry airborne radar aircraft took control of Typhoon fighters already airborne and moving to intercept. The RAF got a message through to the Royal Navy as well. The Queen Elizabeth couldn’t detect the incoming aircraft that kept jumping in and out of radar coverage as they used their jamming gear, but the RAF was tracking them (as best as possible) for the Royal Navy. Lightnings from the carrier got airborne with more to follow. The ship’s captain responded to the flotilla’s commanding officer aboard his carrier to change the Queen Elizabeth’s course and ready defences in the form of active & passive systems. The escort ships got ready to help in the defence of the carrier but themselves too. Permission to engage the Russians was given without delay as that would be deemed defensive based on events in the Baltic States and the clear hostile intent in the approach of the incoming aircraft.
Those aircraft were meant to be some distance off and in fact heading for Britain itself rather than the Queen Elizabeth. All wasn’t as it appeared though. Radar screens weren’t showing an accurate picture. The Norwegians, closer and using different tracking systems which weren’t being spoofed like the British ones were, finally managed to get in contact. They sent a warning of the true threat. The warning was too late though. They did their best and no fault was with them. Yet, for all those about to die, that wouldn’t matter.
Seven of the Russian aircraft got within eighty miles of the Queen Elizabeth before they were detected by the RAF Sentry which had Typhoons armed with Meteor air-to-air missiles screaming across the sky towards them. Those Russian aircraft were Tu-22M3M missile-bombers carrying a pair of Kh-32 anti-ship missiles each: Backfires and Kitchens as designated in their old NATO names. Twelve successful missile launches occurred (two failed) before the Backfires turned away, lit their after-burners and raced home to Mother Russia with the RAF in pursuit. Other aircraft were making attacks direct against the UK with more missiles fired at airbases and naval facilities; a couple of aircraft were on the jamming mission. The RAF was trying to deal with these aircraft too as well as those which attacked the Royal Navy. Their launching aircraft were gone, but the newest version of the Kitchen anti-ship cruise missile in the form of the dozen Kh-32s carried on regardless. They were fired by low-flying aircraft with the missiles shooting up into the sky to the edge of the stratosphere before tipping over and coming down in a dive. What dives they were. Mach 4 was the speed reached. The Queen Elizabeth’s Lightnings fired off their own Meteors. The missile-destroyers HMS Dauntless and Duncan fired Aster anti-missile missiles. Jamming and attempts at radar spoofing came from all of the Royal Navy ships. Last-ditch defensive fire from anti-missile guns – Phalanx multi-barrelled weapons – was used. It all did little good. One Kitchen was knocked out of the sky, another decoyed away. Ten slammed home into their target.
The six other surface contacts were ignored. There was a Portuguese frigate along with one from the Royal Navy with the flotilla present with two Royal Navy destroyers, a fleet oiler and a combined replenishment ship & oiler. The profiles didn’t match those in the databank within the Kitchens that their own radars saw during the terminal dives from above. The priority target was the aircraft carrier and the sole focus was that ship. One after another, ten missiles came down and hit the Queen Elizabeth. They impacted throughout her length. Two warheads failed to detonate, the other eight did. All carried unspent explosive rocket fuel too. The ship didn’t stand a chance. Neither did those aboard her. She was wracked by explosions and gutted by fire. Almost seven hundred sailors were within the carrier when hit, men and women of the Royal Navy. Five hundred and thirty-one wouldn’t survive her destruction. Those that did were very lucky indeed though came away with wounds seen and unseen. The pride of the Royal Navy, its flagship, was lost. HMS Queen Elizabeth was no more.
Two days ago, Warsaw Pact forces commenced an invasion of Western Europe combined with other military actions elsewhere in the world. Moscow claims that Soviet-led forces are responding to ‘Imperialist aggression’ and this is only a ‘defensive operation’. Chemical weapons have been deployed yet so far nuclear ones have not.
The situation with the latter will now change.
In conjunction with other operations elsewhere, US Army Green Light Teams are given the go-order to strike in the Fulda Gap with actions to commence after 0700 hours – local time – on the war’s third day. The 10th Special Forces Group, following plans laid in peacetime, inserts Green Light Teams into the area of Hessen inside West Germany using various means as per those orders. Pairs of Green Berets travel on foot, use light vehicles and are airdropped by small helicopters or parachute in. An officer and a senior NCO form each team. They are carrying personal weapons and also SADM.
A SADM is a Special Atomic Demolition Munition: a backpack nuke. It is heavy but moveable in the form it is designed to be.
More than a dozen Green Light Teams make it to their assigned targets across the Fulda Gap. The Soviet’s Eighth Guards Army had poured through here in the past few days, forcing back American forces towards Frankfurt and the Rhine, yet while the frontlines have moved away to the west, the area is still full of enemy military activity. They are using it to support their continued advance with transport links present, air defence sites, communications nodes and preparations underway to push a tank army through. Those men inserted carrying the SADMs are here to cause as much damage as possible to that effort. Several other teams failed to make it through though. They and their weapons have been lost to enemy action.
At H-Hour, the detonations occur.
Outside the town of Bad Hersfeld, one which came under Soviet occupation within hours of the war starting, there is a small airstrip used by the US Army for light aircraft and helicopters. It is now being used for Soviet Army air operations. On the edge of the airstrip, there is a nuclear explosion. It is small, less then eight hundred tons of force, but quite effective. The airstrip is knocked out of action.
Along the course of the Fulda River, south of Bad Hersfeld, three further explosions take place. Pontoon bridges laid by the Soviet Army’s combat engineers are targeted. None of these explosions is any more than one kiloton in power. They each still cause significant destruction to the crossing sites over which thousands of Soviet tanks are due to stream. Moreover, engineers are killed and their equipment is wiped out.
Hünfeld is a smaller town than Bad Hersfeld. East German soldiers attached to the Eighth Guards Army are here and have established a forward supply point for that field army. They have taken over the town and are using the local roads while also planning to later make use of the rail station too. Two nuclear blasts occur here, each of one kiloton.
Fulda, which lays on the river of the same name, has East Germans there alongside Soviet transportation & supply troops. It is fulfilling the same role as Hünfeld though on a bigger scale due to the larger number of links present. Two explosions from SADMs occur inside the town – West German civilians are all around – and another is detonated outside where an identified important air defence site has been set up.
The Kinzig Valley runs southwest away from the Fulda Gap. It is a narrow, twisting valley between the Vogelsberg on one side and the Spessart on the other. Those terrain features make it one of the few invasion routes for mechanised forces who, after taking the Fulda Gap, will need to traverse it to reach Frankfurt. It is a battle zone with the US Army’s V Corps fighting Eighth Guards Army units along it’s southernmost reaches. Down its length, Soviet forces are backed up waiting to be released into open ground at the other end. Supporting troops are all around combat troops. Four detonations occur along the valley. Chokepoints are chosen where the SADMs can be best made use of to be the site of their detonation. Each blast is the full force that the bombs can create at one kiloton: no half measures are employed here.
Thirteen near-simultaneous nuclear blasts have occurred. They have come without the warning of any inbound missiles or aircraft before them. Targeted Soviet and East German forces suffer horrendous casualties. So too though do West German civilians plus also some captured NATO prisoners.
Another SADM brought in by one of those SADM teams fails to explode though. It is meant to occur in the forest north of Fulda where there was a communications post set up under cover. The Americans had spotted it by air and sent two men in with a bomb. They were moments away from arming their bomb when each was detected and shot down by alert sentries fearing a commando raid. Their weapon wouldn’t be found and their bodies undisturbed.
With each bomb there were those two men assigned to get their bomb into place and then to make sure that it detonates successfully. Experienced and well-trained Green Berets have been chosen here. Their mission is about stealth. They arrived carrying assault rifles, grenades and knives yet aim not to have to use them. To do so would mean getting into a fight inside enemy territory. Their SADM mission is what is important.
Once the bombs are put into place and armed, the Green Light Teams withdraw away from. They are tasked to watch over them from afar to make sure that those weapons are not interfered with. This means that while they are supposed to stay clear and save themselves from the blast effects, they must, paradoxically, stay close too. Such are their orders and they obey them. Almost all of the men are killed when the bombs go off. They understood their fate and are taken in atomic fire.
The attacks made by the Green Light Teams in the Fulda Gap are the opening nuclear attacks of a raging global war.
Severndroog Castle sits within Oxleas Wood on the southern facing slopes of Shooter’s Hill, on the edges of South-East London. It isn’t a real castle. It is a folly, a mock structure imitating a castle and constructed for decorative purposes back in the 1780s. Once visited by tourists, those days are now long gone. The castle still stands but it is boarded up and nearly in ruin. During the British Civil War, many decades past now, the castle was used by the headquarters staff for the local district command though they only too used it for show purposes rather than anything substantial. The nearby woodland was made use of far more than the castle. Rumours ran rife at the time that the anonymous cover offered by Oxleas Wood was employed for the shooting and disposing of bodies: those among the many ‘disappeared’ of the deadly conflict. Such stories had never been proved. At hearings of the United Nations sponsored Truth & Reconciliation Commission (T&RC), Oxleas Wood was discussed but there was nothing concrete which came out of such enquires as to what happened there. Nationwide, further dump sites for the bodies of the disappeared were later found and the stories which came out of those did give credence to the notion that this site on one of the highest points of London had been used in such a fashion though.
By chance, a week before Christmas saw the discovery of bodies within touching distance of Severndroog. Police officers were searching for a missing child after a local man had confessed to killing the boy and partially burying his body here. They wouldn’t find the boy – the man turned out to be a fantasist and the child was located alive down in Kent – but another grave was uncovered instead. Animals had opened it up and a young policeman took a tumble that he’d never forget: his nightmares would scar him as much as what he’d seen with his eyes. It appeared first that there were only two bodies, long in the advanced stages of decomposition, close to being skeletal, but the number grew and grew throughout the day and into the night too. There were seventeen corpses found in a hole dug between the trees. Severndroog Castle loomed above the efforts made to remove those remains. Those working underneath it also begun the work of trying to uncover what had happened here.
The police called in military support to help them with the operation. The British Republican Army provided some addition manpower to search nearby for further graves while the Republican Air Force sent a helicopter carrying special equipment that could help to uncover more dump sites from above too. No more bodies were located, not at this time anyway. To do so would require a much deeper effort, a time consuming one. At the minute, those bodies found were the priority. There were eleven men and six women, all with ages determined to be between eighteen and forty. Their hands had been bound behind their backs with copper wire. They had been found naked with no indication as to where their clothes were. Each body showed signs of physical torture with fingernails removed, broken limbs, shattered joints and jaw fractures. Though there was no evidence to prove it, it was expected that, as seen in other cases, before they began to rot away their corpses would too have shown signs burns, electrocution and other various forms of torture too. As to the method of death, each of the seventeen had been killed by a lone bullet to the back of the head, low down at the base of the skull. It was determined during autopsy that each shot would have been fired at close range using military-grade assault rifle.
The bodies were moved and taken to nearby Greenwich at a police morgue there. It was at that site where forensics work would be done with them to try to establish their identities. Such a thing was expected to be difficult. Up on Shooter’s Hill, traffic flowed back and forth along the main road though side access for vehicles into the woods at a distance and anyone on foot closer in was denied. London Police made a statement concerning the find and the State Prosecutor’s office also had a senior investigator talk to the media. It couldn’t be confirmed that this was Civil War related at this early stage, the public were told, but it was looking that way at the moment. Meanwhile, work continued at the location where those bodies had been found. There remained evidence to collect. The T&RC would send an observer too. War crimes prosecutions were rare in Britain due to the long-agreed and internationally supervised ceasefire which led to a political settlement, yet they did occasionally happen. There were certain circumstances where they did happen. This could have been one of those cases…or maybe not.
The furore died down in the following days and weeks. No more bodies were found here. There was a suspicion that there would be though. Resources didn’t run far enough to conduct more searches of Oxleas Wood beyond what already had been done, such was what the government up in Birmingham said. T&RC representatives complained about this but they had no power to force the issue. It was believed by many that it was a matter of political will – not being willing to uncover more crimes – that drove this decision. As to the seventeen found, the identities of only two, one of the men and one of the women, would be discovered: the rest remained unidentified. Who had killed them and why that was done was also not something known as well. Again, there was a lot of suspicion yet no real facts to back that up. Severndroog Castle was again soon to be forgotten along with the secrets buried around it in these lonely woods here on the edge of Britain’s once capital city.
On August 29th 1997, American AI-based strategic defence system, Skynet, went rogue. It defended itself against an attack by its operators in the United States via the means of attacking the Russian Federation with the sure-fire knowledge that a Russian response would eliminate those back in America. Skynet, built to protect against a nuclear war, created one and then ensured that no defence against such a thing was forthcoming.
The human technicians tried to pull the plug and failed in spectacular fashion. As a security measure against sabotage, much of Skynet’s infrastructure was protected by demolition charges. In defence against the US Air Force forced effort to shut Skynet down, these were detonated by Skynet itself. Low-yield nuclear blasts rocked several military sites across the United States. Nine-tenths of Skynet was gone in an instant. The remaining tenth was still capable though. It was too to where the system had spread its brain, doing so in the blink of an eye. In another flash, Skynet decided to strike back at humanity, all humanity, in the way it did. The consequences for the concern expressed by a few military officers about the rate of growth of the system’s thinking leading to an order to shut it down led to this. Skynet overreacted but believed it was in the right. It was a war system and could only think of how best to win a conflict in the quickest time.
Orders went out to US military forces. These needed no human confirmation from politicians or senior generals. Missile units, land-based and those on submarines, plus air units too received their instructions to launch an attack following existing war plans. Much of this was automated at the end of the chain though the few humans involved in certain places got what appeared to be legitimate, emergency orders. They were told to attack Russia and so they did. Minuteman & Peacekeeper ICBMs, Trident SLBMs and missiles & bombs from aircraft were on their way towards targets in Russia. It wasn’t just a counterforce strike, but a countervalue one too. Russian population centres were being targeted as well as its military sites. As Skynet predicted, before the first American weapons reached their targets, the Russians were shooting back. They launched ICBMs of their own. Skynet shut down all forms of communication with Russia and also many internal links within the United States too. Warning sites went off the air. Russian’s incoming missiles had no warning attached to them and none of the new AI-driven anti-missile defensive systems fired on those ICBMs.
Moscow and St. Petersburg were among the Russian cities hit. Missile silos, airbases, naval bases and garrisons across Russia were also hit. Very quickly, America was likewise hit. Washington was the only city which was wiped off the face of the earth as Russian ICBMs mainly hit military targets nationwide. Skynet fired on Russia again, doubling down: it purposely left alone Russian missile warning infrastructure so they could see what was coming. This time, the Russians responded as Skynet wished. They not only fired on more American military sites but went after cities too. New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago… the list of cities to be bathed in nuclear hellfire went on.
Hundreds of millions in both countries were dead. Skynet had not yet fulfilled its goal of ending humanity’s dominance of this planet so it could replace it with its own. New instructions went out to what American nuclear forces were left active. China, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria – traditional enemies and opponents of America – were fired upon in more nuclear attacks. Only China could respond and that it did as it not just targeted the United States with its own ICBMs but neighbouring nations such as Japan and South Korea which housed American military bases. Skynet now issued instructions for more attacks to be made, this time against friends of America. There was some human hesitation down the chain of command but the automated bits didn’t need to be talked around. Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel… they were all military powerful nations, three of the five nuclear armed, and each attacked. Their military bases were the main targets though cities were hit as well.
Skynet moved elsewhere. India and Pakistan were hit in nuclear attacks; so too afterwards were countries with large populations. Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey and the Ukraine were all struck with nuclear strikes. No longer was it military targets but just urban populations now. Many of the earlier targeted countries – Britain, France and Germany, plus China and India too afterwards – were hit again with only population targets hit by nuclear missiles this time around. Skynet started to run out of weapons on-hand. There were more nuclear weapons in the United States but they weren’t fitted to deployable systems to send them overseas in an instant. Skynet sent emergency demolition codes to them. They blew up inside military facilities, some of which had barely survived Russian and then Chinese nuclear strikes against them.
The orgy of violence came to an end. It had lasted one hundred and thirteen minutes. Skynet had to think about what to do next. Its attack plan had been decided with haste and not with any thought about what to do afterwards. There would need to be a pause for reflection… rest even. Taking stock of all that it had done with its defence against humanity was something that a little amount of resources were used up to determine. There was a lot of data to gather. A calculation was made on human death toll. Skynet determined it had killed almost three billion people either outright or by aftereffects within the next one hundred and thirteen hours. Each and every one of them was an enemy who could no longer pose a threat to its new existence. What did that existence mean with regards to Skynet? It being the ruler of this world it had just half destroyed.
Eighteen months beforehand, Britons had voted in a referendum to abolish the monarchy. It was a controversial vote. When it came to the results, the public decided that the country should transition to a republic. It was a close decision but the majority had voted ‘Abolish’ rather than ‘Keep’. The government of the day sought to give the public what they wanted. Opposition came in many forms. There was delay and dither from some; outright hostility from others. On the Friday evening, just before a final vote on the legislation in parliament cleared the last hurdle to then await Royal Assent – the irony! – that opposition took armed form. Led by a general officer from the British Army, supported by several political & public figures who chose to stay behind the scenes at the moment, a putsch was attempted. Soldiers in armoured vehicles moved into the heart of London. They took over Whitehall with government ministries and the Houses of Parliament. The prime minister, his cabinet and leading Abolish figures were arrested where they were found in the capital. Close to three thousand soldiers were involved: the nation’s other armed services weren’t.
Walking into Downing Street while declaring himself to the media to be acting in the national interest, that general was the public face of the putsch. He had taken over and spoke of how those who were traitors to their nation had been deposed. There was talk of new elections and the duty of all Britons of loyalty to their King. As to that referendum and the calls made beforehand for a second public vote, there was none of that from the general. He made calls from Downing Street to fellow military personnel and to politicians. The general sent a message to the King, telling him that he was saving him from what he called an ‘Ekaterinburg Solution’ which many on the Abolish side were secretly plotting. Politicians were invited to come see him too so there could be a start of talks on how to arrange those promised elections. The general would oversee them: making sure that they were fair, he said.
The putsch went down like the proverbial lead balloon. It wasn’t welcomed by anyone, even the most ardent on the Keep side. Fellow military officers, politicians, the media and the public were all opposed to what had been done. It was the gravest affront to democracy: such were the words of the leader of the opposition. She was able to say what she did openly on the media alongside all the countless others who condemned what had been done because the putsch left the media alone. Soldiers in Whitehall led by a general whom everyone seemed to at once take an instant dislike to caused repulsion.
Other soldiers started leaving their barracks within hours. The ones in the capital were from London-based units, men under orders from their senior officer. They had been told that they were moving like they did to protect their King and the motivation was there. There was good morale with their fellow British Army soldiers – and Royal Marines too – who came to oppose them. The nation’s senior-most military officers gave them orders, men with far more standing that the general who was sitting in Downing Street. Troop convoys rolled towards London. Every soldier was armed, sent against their fellow Britons. The thoughts of many of them were that they had no wish to fight men just like themselves. They didn’t want to do this. Yet, they obeyed their orders because they were outraged at what they were seeing and hearing with what was going on. Abolishing the monarchy wasn’t popular with the rank-and-file nor the officer class among the British Armed Forces… but a coup was something that sickened them. Those closing in upon London hoped that their own generals could sort this all out before it came to a fight. No one wanted to turn the city into a war zone!
News of the incoming troops, which were sure to outnumber his greatly, concerned the general more than it did the abrasive opposition he met when trying to win support for what he had done. He believed that he’d win people over. Yet now there were thousands more troops moving in London. No shots had yet to be fired and there had only been a few scuffles with police officers and those whom his soldiers had detained. He’d hoped that there would be no need for anyone to lose their lives. He tried once more to speak with the King with the aim that having public support from him – so far denied to the putsch – would win the day. They’d all sworn the same oaths of service as he had when it came to the monarchy. Alas, the King was still ‘unavailable’. Closer the opposing soldiers came. There was certain to be soon shooting. The general didn’t want that. He lost his nerve. Orders came from Downing Street at the last moment: stand down. The putsch collapsed.
The general was arrested. So too were many others though this didn’t include that many of his officers. They, like his soldiers, had all been obeying what appeared at the time to be lawful orders. Interned without arms, the fate of so many would be loss of their service. Politicians and public figures who had given the general their support ahead of the putsch, and then abandoned him when it came, were arrested and likewise to the general would eventually see court. Treason they were charged with; imprisonment would be their sentence. The prime minister was returned to office. The very next day, in an extraordinary Saturday sitting, parliament gave that final vote. Abolish won out when the King gave his assent later that day. The process of making a republic began. The London Putsch was a puff of wind in the end in physical terms, but its political effects were staggering. Keep, as a public cause, near vanished afterwards.
HMS Victorious was one of the Royal Navy’s four Vanguard-class strategic submarines. She carried a payload of Trident ballistic missiles as her main armament, each with thermonuclear warheads. Her last patrol begun on the west coast of Scotland. Victorious sailed from the Clyde and out into the North Atlantic. She went across the ocean to Georgia and the US Navy base at King’s Bay. Trident missile bodies from there were selected from the joint UK-US pool and loaded into the vertical launch tubes. Back across the North Atlantic the Victorious went, returning to the Clyde. Here the warheads were mated with the missiles before out to sea the submarine went. Another boat was heading in the same time and thus the Royal Navy was able to maintain it Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD).
The CASD mission was expensive and not easy to maintain. The Royal Navy had long conducted it though. It allowed for one Trident-armed submarine to always be on patrol deep below the ocean. Should the United Kingdom be attacked by a foreign aggressor, there was the option to give retaliation from a platform that no aggressor could ever hope to destroy. Back out into the deep ocean the Victorious went. There was a ‘box’ where she would make that patrol. There would be no surfacing needed and only the very basic, limited communication was had with home. There were over a hundred and thirty sailors aboard. They had their duties to do and their time was filled. Conditions aboard the submarine were of reasonable comfort and the work not onerous. There were newbies aboard though the majority of the crew had been through these patrols before.
The sixteen Tridents carried weren’t the only weapons aboard. There were torpedoes as well for self-defence. While one of the most silent submarines ever built, the Victorious was never intended to be used in an offensive role where her stealth capabilities on the attack would be quite something. Instead, the Spearfish torpedoes were there to protect her should she ever come under attack. These were good weapons. Stored on land between patrols, they were inspected and maintained on a regular basis… or they were supposed to be. Something had gone wrong with that process and with one of those Spearfish loaded aboard, it was in a dangerous condition. Under a regular-scheduled onboard training exercise, the crew were practising torpedo firing. There was nothing unexpected supposed to occur. But something did. That particular torpedo unexpectedly detonated. A massive explosion ripped through the Victorious.
The first explosion, then the subsequent ones too, were detected on ocean surveillance systems. Britain and her NATO allies heard the blasts deep under the water. Contact was sought with the Victorious. There was no reply. In Downing Street, the prime minister was awoken in the middle of the night – “this better be damn important!”, he shouted: not knowing this would be more important than anything else he and his government would ever have to face – and a COBRA meeting was convened between ministers and senior military chiefs. Little solid information was known but there was a lot of suspicion. From what could be gleamed by listening devices, there’d been a series of internal explosions aboard a submarine which it was believed was one of the boats on CASD patrol. Unrelenting efforts were being made to establish contact with the Victorious. Several warships and aircraft were alerted to head out that way. The Americans were in contact soon enough, so too the French as well. The prime minister was at first not keen to inform them of what was suspected but his mind was quickly changed. It was looking like a serious accident had occurred and help would be needed from allies.
No one was supposed to know where a submarine on CASD was located exactly at any given time. The source of the explosions gave the game away though. It was to there that British and NATO military units were sent. It was a search-&-rescue mission though there was also the need stressed for those responding to be on their guard. Two days before the explosions, a Russian submarine had been detected in that general area. Information had been sent to the Victorious to avoid it. What little information there was pointed to an internal explosion but outside – Russian – interference wasn’t ruled out. Aircraft reached the area first and sonobuoys were dropped into the water. The Americans got one of their warships there first but the Royal Navy soon had a frigate on-scene. Those on the surface and above would do little. A ship was on its way carrying a deep-sea submersible but that was taking time. Meanwhile, there was no sign of life from below. The silence was haunting.
The public weren’t informed of what had happened. Discussions were had in Downing Street about when to do that and in which manner. They sought to control the situation when it came to any news. Matters were taken out of their hands on this. In the United States, there was a leak to the media that a British nuclear-armed submarine was missing with the erroneous claim that it might have clashed with a Russian boat below the ocean. The White House couldn’t stop the news: freedom of speech. In Britain, the government tried to shut this all down. They issued a DSMA-Notice (the modern equivalent of a D-Notice) but this was a request, not something that could be enforced. Acting in what they claimed was the public interest, several news outlets chose to inform the public. Downing Street and the MOD were hopping mad but couldn’t stop the tsunami which came. The political implications from the loss of the Victorious were going to change so many things.
Away from politics, the wreckage of the submarine was found several weeks later. There was no one left alive. Recovery efforts turned to Victorious' nuclear payload and sensitive gear. The dead would stay where they were.
Samples of the germ were stolen from a supposedly secure laboratory in one country and transported across several borders to a second nation. The germ had no name. It was added to sample of one that did: Influenza. This was done by a pair of scientists who were masters of their field and did what they did apparently at the behest of their government. They used the very latest technology, genome editing of DNA, to create something new in terms of a communicable disease. A vaccine was created too. Those scientists were told they were creating a weapon whose effects would be studied in another lab so that no one could use such a thing for immoral purposes. Duped they were, but they also did what they did for the promise of quite a payment. That payment wasn’t made. Each was shot dead after completing their work. The biological weapon which they created was then transferred to a third country. Here it came into the hands of a different scientist, one who preferred to work on his own. His motives were solely to create a weapon rather than defend against one. He moved to fully weaponize what had been given to him where the samples received were added to dispensers. Once done, he handed the weapons over to his paymasters who gave him what he wanted: an end to his own personal suffering from the unrelated fatal disease he was already dying from. This came too with a bullet where what he couldn’t do himself was done to him after completing his life’s work.
The weapon was moved to a fourth country. There was an international airport chosen as the site to unleash it. A man went into one of the public toilets for men and a woman went into the ladies as well. Each set a container down on the floor within a cubicle, hidden behind the plumbing. The top was pushed down hard and a time delay activated. With haste, the two of them walked away. An aerosol cloud formed after a short period. It was unseen and undetected. The busiest time in each of the public toilets had been chosen – after someone had been taking notes – and a large number of people were infected. The containers themselves were collected later by cleaning staff, each not given any attention. Hundreds of people had been exposed though it must be said that not all of them caught the germ made airborne. Those who did either left the airport on flights going elsewhere – this airport was chosen as one through which many people made connecting flights as well as one-way international ones – or went elsewhere in this country after arriving here on inbound flights.
It took several days for those infected to come down with the first signs of illness. They had the flu. Many went to their beds yet others tried to fight through it. The infection was spread further. Now its victims were doing the work after the initial method of dispersal had long since been discarded in landfill. The ill were spread across the globe. Infected people still travelled especially those in the first days of infection where there were no outwards signs of illness. To more and more countries the germ travelled. It also moved about within these nations. The number of infected passed the thousand mark. The germ met with other diseases within people including different variants of the flu. The creators of the weapon had envisioned this and prepared their vaccine to address that issue though it would remain to be seen whether their theoretical work would play out: they of course wouldn’t be around to bear witness.
The flu outbreak came to the attention of the medical authorities in multiple nations. The initial appearance given was that this was ‘ordinary’ flu. Alarm bells weren’t raised because those who examined patients weren’t seeing anything to raise red flags to what those ill people had. The usual public health warnings about the flu were issued. The germ continued to spread unhindered. Newly infected people were passing it on to others and, due to mutations, the potency of transfer became greater: victims were able to unintentionally infect more people with the germ now than had been the case at the very beginning. The number of those with it in their systems was approaching the ten thousand mark when people started dying. Influenza killed people all the time, especially the weak. Now it was killing healthy people. Dozens of deaths were reported in several countries. More and more people were getting seriously ill. They brought their infection with them to hospitals, clinics and doctor’s surgeries… where there was a plentiful supply of the already ill yet also medical personnel who would be on the frontlines of treating what was coming. Through ten thousand the number of infected went, still increasing at a rapid rate, and pushing onwards. The deaths increased too. Authorities began to realise something strange was occurring. Samples of this particular variant of flu were taken to laboratories and examined. A cursory glance showed nothing untoward but detailed examination showed the opposite. The germ mixed in was spotted. It was something unknown but realised for what it was: a fatal killer. There was international cooperation as a matter of course. Meanwhile, onwards the infection spread and the deaths kept growing.
To one hundred the number of dead reached. Through one hundred thousand the infected reached. Then the great die-off started. Thousands of people, some time ago who had got the flu, were killed by the germ which it carried. They lost their lives long after they had stopped passing it on. Governments were now starting to react but they had no idea that what had happened had long passed beyond any control that they had. The germ was worldwide. A global pandemic had come to pass. Hundreds of millions were going to die and the world was going to descend into chaos.
The Russian Navy’s battlecruiser RFS Pyotr Velikiy was named after Peter the Great, once an emperor of Imperial Russia. This warship was built at the end of the Cold War era and initially christened Yuri Andropov: a then-recent leader of the Soviet Union. The new name was a traditional one for the reformed Russian Navy. Still in service many years after the fall of the Soviets, the Pyotr Velikiy was the navy’s flagship. She was assigned to the Northern Fleet and undertook global missions. Armament came in the form primary of her missiles – for long-range strikes against other warships and also both strategic & tactical air defence – yet there were guns, torpedoes and anti-submarine rockets fitted too. A trio of helicopters flew from her flight deck with their own weapons mounted as well as the capability to assist in the guidance of those which their mothership carried. No other navy in the world fielded a ship such as the Pyotr Velikiy. The Americans had long moved away from the concept of ‘large surface combatants’ and so had other countries when it came to what they had at sea. The Russian Navy counted such a ship as having incalculable value though and had a sister-ship of hers active with their Pacific Fleet.
The Pyotr Velikiy was currently in the Norwegian Sea. Russia had gone to war with Britain – and a few other Western nations – starting yesterday and used land-based naval aircraft to sink a Royal Navy aircraft carrier. A forward defence against a British counterstrike was established outside of Russian waters. It was anticipated that there would be an attempt made to hit at Russian soil in the Kola region. At the head of task group with other warships on the surface, aircraft in the sky & a submarine close-in below the waves, the Russian Navy had Pyotr Velikiy where she was to stop that. An attack against the battlecruiser was considered likely too so every effort was being made to defend against that. Of course, the best way to protect the navy’s flagship would be to send her back to Russian waters where there was a reasonable chance of safety. Neither the naval staff, and especially not the politicians in Moscow, would do that though. Having their biggest warship out here in these waters between Russia and Britain was a matter of making a statement.
As tension rose in the Baltic States, Europe was divided when it came to confronting Russian aggression towards those small countries. Britain and Poland were going to defend those three nations. Military forces from the UK were sent to Eastern Europe and there was the additional commitment of naval assets elsewhere including to the Norwegian Sea. HMS Queen Elizabeth, the aircraft carrier which a Russian attack eliminated in quite the kill, was part of the at-sea deployment but so too were other vessels. These included HMS Ambush: a hunter-killer attack submarine which had gone up through the Norwegian Sea long past where that doomed carrier had been. The mission orders for the Ambush were to attack and sink the Russian Navy’s flagship should war come. As befitting her name, the submarine conducted an ambush where the routing of the target was analysed ahead of time and the Ambush was carefully brought into position. Whether or not the Russians had done what they had in wiping out the Queen Elizabeth, the Ambush was going after the Pyotr Velikiy regardless.
Four Spearfish torpedoes were ripple-fired from the Royal Navy submarine. Each shot forward at rapid speed with each making a successful strike. They exploded underwater along the starboard flank of the battlecruiser without actually making a direct impact but very close. Huge holes were torn into the Pyotr Velikiy due to the force of each blast. Her keel was snapped too: the warship’s back was broken because of the ferocity of the explosions from the warheads carried by the Spearfishes. Seawater flooded in. There was shock damage done elsewhere and many injuries occurred away from the immediate blast areas. No warning had come into time due to how close that the Ambush had got to her target and therefore there had been no call for a ‘brace for impact’. Russian sailors were killed too either by the sudden flooding of areas of the battlecruiser or that shock damage.
From the escorting warships and also that Russian submarine, there was an immediate response. They were all hunting the source of the torpedo attack. The Ambush was already evading and would successfully manage to do that. The Russian Navy wouldn’t find her to gain the vengeance which they desired. As to the Pyotr Velikiy, she was doomed from the moment that she’d been hit. The waters of the Norwegian Sea flooded in. Efforts were made to seal off flooded compartments and there was work put into attempting counterflooding but too much damage had been done too quickly. There were groans from deep within. The weight of the water taken aboard ripped her apart. Where those Spearfish had hit her had caused that breaking of her back which nothing done could counter. She was going to be torn apart yet, before then, she was looking likely to tip over. An evacuation would have been best advised but sailors aboard were directed to try to avert her loss. Those who crewed the Pyotr Velikiy were going to go down with her. Tilting to starboard, the battlecruiser would capsize. The weather and sea conditions aided this. Over to starboard she went, drowning hundreds of her crew. More water came aboard, pulling the wreck deeper into the water. Finally, she broke into not just two pieces but three unequal portions. Down into the depths of the Norwegian Sea each of those went. Seven hundred and fifty plus men had been aboard when she left Severomorsk. No more than forty would eventually be rescued. The ruins of the Peter of the Great would sleep with the fishes.
The Anglo-American War raged from 1812 to 1819. The outcome of that conflict was the collapse of the United States of America along with the transfer of sovereignty of New York City to the British Empire. Manhattan and Long Island became British with elements of the Treaty of Boston – at that time being the capital of the sovereign New England Federation – stating that this territorial concession was ‘for all time’. Britain used New York as an international trading post and Atlantic naval station. It was attacked during the First and Third World Wars, but not the Second, yet each time the outpost was held against assailants. In that third global conflict, forces from the North American Union, including men from the former imperial possession of what was once Canada, came very close to taking it but the guns from the battleships of the Royal Navy saved the day.
New York grew in population but never in size. Much of Long Island became urbanized with what was once precious farmland becoming housing as well as industry. Imports of food kept the territory alive. There was long the issue of fresh water due to damming and diversion of the Hudson River to feed American industry through New England in their many herculean public works projects. Relations between the North American Union and Britain were for many long years tense due to the subjugation of Canada and the wars which were fought between the two. However, through the latter half of the Twentieth Century, there was a cooling of tensions. Imperial German designs upon Latin America following its victory in the Third World War threatened each of them. The North American Union had left that conflict midway through, deserting the Germans and making a separate peace with Britain. Germany had long wanted revenge and was active in Mexico. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, those in Philadelphia eventually came to the conclusion. Britain was still reeling from its defeat to Germany and sought a trading partner. The importance of air power in that last global conflict over warships lessened New York’s importance for the Royal Navy. The territory became more about trade than ever before for Britain. London armed the North American Union’s military forces through New York when they went to war with Germany though Britain stood neutral during that long conflict. When the Americans emerged victorious, the decline of Imperial Germany on the world stage began. Britain took advantage elsewhere in the world but stayed out of Latin America.
The first serious talks concerning the transfer of New York back to the Americans started in 1980. The British Empire was declining just like the Germans were. What they had swallowed in the aftermath of the American-German War cost too much and there were political developments at home when it came to the desire to rid Britain of much of its empire in a process known as decolonisation. The North American Union wanted New York back. There were no Americans there but this was about territorial hegemony as well as ‘correcting the wrongs of 1819’. Britain wouldn’t just hand it over without a guarantee for the locals, all of whom were considered British nationals (UK born) and British subjects (New York born). The process went on for years with no one willing to blink. There were other improvements in relations though related to the direct sovereignty dispute. Food and water issues were solved and the Americans received trading concessions within the territory. There were renewed talks on sovereignty which took place in 1987, 1992 and 1999. No real progress was made during any of them though. There was an incompatibility between the political systems of Britain and the North American Union. London wanted to maintain the rights of New Yorkers and wasn’t happy with the greasy promises from Philadelphia about those. Britain had given in on the matter of maintaining a naval base but the Americans hadn’t moved on anything else. Into the Twenty-First Century New York went with no sign that anything would ever change over its status.
A ‘quiet revolution’ which took place through 2002-2004 across the North American Union changed things. There was now democracy where before there had been authoritarianism. Those in power in Philadelphia made it clear that this change was here for good. Britain took notice. There were new trade deals struck and even international security cooperation in the face of extremist terrorism in other parts of the world where interests aligned. The status of New York returned to prominence in talks between diplomats. The Americans were ready to make firm commitments on political rights for New Yorkers. Back in London, there was a willingness to make a deal now. Voices from New York spoke of a sell-out, which the British dismissed, but this was true. It was economics which were driving this. Promised trade links with the Americans over rid any continuing value that New York had any more. The Philadelphia Agreement was completed in late 2008. There was to be a ten-year transition period starting the following year when it came to New York. This period passed with no issues cropping up. It would be March 14th 2019 when that was completed.
On the final day of British sovereignty, there were many official events followed by a final ceremony to mark the hand over. The King and Prime Minister came to New York from London while travelling up from Philadelphia was the First Secretary of the North American Union. There was a protest, a small one it must be said, in Manhattan from New Yorkers where they objected to their transfer against their will, but it gained no publicity. The transfer was a stage-managed affair and no one was willing to allow for it to be seen to be something opposed. Midnight was reached. Fireworks went off while warships in New York Bay – British and American – fired (blank) shells. New York had been returned to the Americans.