Units everywhere received reports of Pan-Asian Union forces retreating under a fighting retreat, even in places where they had the numerical, tactical advantage or both. However, those who were to the south or who were already in the south were advancing quickly.
“It doesn’t make sense, General, they are cutting their forces into half and leaving gaps both in the west and east from which our forces could advance!”
“Yes, it’s true. I don’t think we should advance. It’s probably a faint or diversion designed to give us a nasty surprise,” Jokic replied.
Then, the Transatlantic special forces general continued:
“Frankly speaking Gregorio, this looks like a huge trap to me. More than what we expect right now actually.”
“I’m afraid that’s the case, General; however, we can’t make our move without knowing the extent of the enemy’s true intentions. Besides, we don’t have operational command over the rest of the units here.”
“Very well. Pacito, call the sound for extraction to all Special Forces out there.”
“Affirmative, sir, will do.”
Minutes later, the special mech forces of the Transatlantic Federation who were operating in Milan received this dire message:
FLASH FLASH FLASH
ALL UNITS UNDER SPECIAL FORCES COMMAND IN OPS AREA M and AROUND, YOU ARE ORDERED TO RETREAT AND STAY OUT OF THE AREA IMMEDIATELY, REGARDLESS OF SITUATION OF SAID POSITION.
ORDERS: COMMANDER OF SPEC FORCES
ITALIAN FRONT – TAF
COPIED TO CENTCOM
A small, heavily-armored Indomitable attack gunship approached the large, looming Union battleship ahead.
“Eagle Zero-Zero-Zero, this is the Archangel’s Wrath, identify yourselves, over.”
The Archangel’s Wrath is the flagship of the Pan-Asian Southern Strike Force. While the force itself is already deadly with three battle airships, six cruisers, 15 light cruisers and 240 escorts, the Archangel’s Wrath itself represented the pinnacle of Pan-Asian airship technology.
It had thick prow armor, as well as eight sets of large-caliber gun batteries, ready to destroy enemies of the Union. In addition, it carries multiple bombs, missiles and guns of smaller caliber, which could be used to complete missions that are required from the safety of the ship. Furthermore, it has two squadrons of attack gunships, which could either serve as a force multiplier for the battleship on the offense or defend the battleship in large air-to-air battles.
However, its crown jewel is the so-called “Prow Cannon,” which is actually a multi=purpose cannon array capable of firing all types of large shells, depending on the requirements of the mission.
With that in mind, Admiral de Toros, the fleet commander of the Southern Strike Front, was thinking about the best course of action after seeing multiple divisions’ worth of reinforcements coming into the sector.
“Archangel’s Wrath, this is Eagle One-Two-Eight, requesting permission to land.”
“Identify intent, over.”
“This is the pilot of Admiral de Toros and we are here to personally bring a message to the fleet.”
“Our apologies. Very well, we will open dock #7 for you shortly. Commence docking sequence.”
De Toros came into the bridge of the Archangel’s Wrath with a grim expression.
With two heavily-armed soldiers flanked by his side, de Toros went immediately to the point without any pleasantries.
“Shipmasters, after consulting with the other Theater Commanders, we have come to a decision. We are not going to risk more casualties by pushing in. We will unleash the End of Fate to the enemy down below.”
Shipmaster Jericho David, the commander of the Archangel’s Wrath, asked, “What do you mean, my lord?”
“Shipmaster, load the prow cannons with plasma shells and high-velocity tungsten warheads.”
“Then fire at will towards that target. I DO NOT WANT ANYONE LEFT ALIVE.”
“But Sir, there are millions of civilians down there!”
“FIRE. THAT. THING. NOW.”
“Affirmative Commander, as you wish. All shipmasters, aim your guns towards Milan. Maximum effect. This is an order from the Theater Commander; I repeat, this is an order from the Theater Commander.”
After a pause, David continued,
“We will execute high-level protocols. Prepare your battle keys.”
The battle keys were a set of keys given to each captain, containing the codes for launching plasma and kinetic warheads onto the Earth’s surface. While the former can incinerate entire city districts with one shell, the latter can go deep into the planet, causing localized tectonic stability.
Toros loudly commented, “Gentlemen, Milan will be…OBLITERATED. TO. DUST.”
David never expected the Obliteration Protocol to be used this early in the campaign. Normally, the release of these warheads is only warranted when storming a piece of enemy territory would cost a lot more lives.
He looked at the giant screen as his communications officer wrote down the order.
Obliteration Protocol #1
Rationale: Attacking the city has proven to be expensive in terms of human lives.
Specific Payload: One full barrage of plasma and tungsten shells from the Southern Strike Front
Estimated casualties: 5 million
WAITING FOR KEYS 1 and 2…
In order to prevent commanders from abusing the Obliteration Protocol, the activation of the plasma and tungsten warheads require the computer to recognize two keys from any two Union Representatives, two Admirals, any two Shipmasters of Lead rank, or any combination of the above-mentioned ranks. As a result, only the Pan-Asian Union Air Force and certain members of the High Government have the access to the keys for these weapons of mass destruction.
Without any of the keys, the warheads will not be activated and will stay inert even if they were loaded into the prow cannons of the fleet’s ships.
Theoretically, any one of the key holders can prevent the launch; however, lower-ranking key holders generally follow the commands of those above them, unless they have strong reasons to oppose the strike.
The exception to this rule is the Presiding Officer of the Pan-Asian Union, as he already has all the keys for fleet-wide launch of the Obliteration Protocol.
Without much fanfare, Toros inserted his key into his designated slot. A couple of seconds later, the shipmaster also inserted his own key in order to complete the activation of the said protocol, thus allowing the warheads to be armed inside the prow guns.
Then, klaxons rang all over the ship as the prow cannons started to aim toward towards their designated targets.
After what seemed to be an eternity, the prow laser guns of the Southern Theater Strike Force have unleashed beam after beam of super-hot plasma towards the classical Italian city, turning buildings into dust and razing entire city blocks down with each flash of light.
People didn’t even have the time to marvel at the advanced weaponry as they were incinerated alive without pain, turning their molecules into more fuel for the fire.
In order to complete the destruction of the city, tungsten warheads raced at 25,000 kilometers per hour towards the ground, quickly raising the surface of Milan a couple of hundred meters high. This is to ensure that enemies who were hiding underground would not have a chance to survive the onslaught.
Meanwhile, the Admiral left the bridge and went back to his aircraft towards friendlier skies as he was satisfied with the results of the bombardment.
The Shipmaster of the Archangel’s Wrath could do nothing but sigh.
“It is now a dead city. It is now a city of nothing, except for the broken bones of the enemy and their shattered hopes!”
Indeed, Milan died that day.
“What can possibly justify disturbing me at this time, Adjutant?”
“Marshal…Milan has been…obliterated.”
“That much I know already. What I want to know is what we are doing right now.”
“Marshal, the Pan-Asian Union has overrun the Baltic Countries and they have reached the borders of Poland at the moment.”
“We have strengthened our defenses in Poland. Also, we have assigned more forces to Romania and we have started building defenses on the banks of the rivers, ranging from the North to the southern approaches.”
“This is what I want to hear.”
“Yes, Marshal. Anything else?”
Schmitt was lost in thought as he dismissed the duty officer back to his post.
So, this is going to be a long war. Besides, the African Collective and the Colonial Entities haven’t even showed their hands yet.
This is going to be one heck of a bloody mess.
I do hope that we are ready to do deal with a very long and bitter war against the Asians.
Schmitt knew very well that it is impossible to push back and utterly destroy the Pas-Asian Union outright. The best that they could get is setting back the borders to pre-war levels, which is an acknowledgement of the immense technological and economic power that the Union possessed.
In the aftermath of the destruction, everyone inside Milan was either incinerated to dust or buried under hundreds of meters of rubble, ensuring that no one was left alive.
Only the high spires of the churches were left standing, forever witnesses to the destruction that rained upon Milan.
Since then, it will be known as Dead City; a place where even the memories of the dead were killed and scattered to the ashes.
Read the previous chapter here!