In the grim darkness of the 22nd century, nations fight for domination of a planet that is near-traumatized by countless deaths and screams of agony.
They bleed for a world in which the strong rule with impunity.
They die for the fickle dream of a realm which is barren by the countless firestorms that ravaged Earth over these seemingly endless, dark years.
With the creation of Savior Pods that allow pilots to survive all sorts of hits without being incapacitated or killed, the definition of war is now defined by the economy as much as by the heroism that these common soldiers show.
In this war, there are no winners.
Such is the reality of the world in which they live.
There is only nothing but death and despair…in the 22nd century.
Decisions. Doubts. Responsibility.
The air outside was cool in Geneva as the commanders of the Transatlantic Federation met at the Swiss Redoubt.
Five high-ranking officers, decked in their ceremonial uniforms, were discussing about the Milan invasion.
General Elric Schmitt of the Federal High Command led the battle conference.
“Gentlemen, as you all know, Milan has been attacked by one Pan-Asian Union Air Force fleet of higher-than-normal strength as well as an estimated ten mechanized warfare divisions earlier today.”
“Yes, what are we supposed to do about them? If we let them loose, then Italy and the rest of Southern Europe will be cut off from us!” exclaimed Admiral Pedro Paguila, commander of the Southern European District.
“Sirs, I would like to suggest that we launch an orbital strike,“ remarked General Richard Voss of the Space Command, before he was cut off by curses from the others.
“Voss, you do know that there are five to seven million civilians in Milan right now…right?” commented Admiral Ernest Blunt, who was in charge of the Federal Air Fleets.
“I am highly aware of that. But let’s think about the price of LOSING MILAN first,” said Voss.
“Comrades, I would highly suggest that we divert forces from Slovenia and Croatia into Italy,” opined General Emilio Jokic, commander of the Mobile Federal Forces. Jokic is responsible for special mechanized operations; after all, he used to be an ace mech pilot before he became a high-ranking officer.
“In addition, as I speak here, our forces in the Northern European District and Central European District have already experienced advances by the enemy. Finland is under heavy attack; Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania from the north…all the way to Romania to the south. Oh, if I may add, Moldova’s already lost at this moment,” continued Schmitt.
“So, sirs, if I may continue, let’s contain the flanking strike force by the Asians using mobile strike teams from Slovenia and Croatia. I will lead my own column and land in Northern Italy before the end of the day to rush to the aid of the defenders,” said Jokic.
“That’s good. Any other suggestions?” asked the Marshal.
“I would also suggest that we should start fortifying the rivers of Central Europe as well as plugging any gaps in the region. Also, let’s put forces over the Alps,” remarked Voss.
“Noted, General. Any other questions?”
“Marshal, what happens if we lose Milan?” asked Paguila.
“Your guess is as good as mine, Admiral. Southern Europe will be practically cut in half.”
“Understood, Marshal. I will exhort our forces there to improve their efforts and inspire them to acts of bravery against a technologically-advanced foe as that of the Asians.”
“Yes, you will. Anything else?”
The room was eerily silent, as if waiting for the storm to subside.
“Comrades, I want hourly reports on the state of the war in our region. Otherwise, you are dismissed.”
Everyone except Schmitt went out of the room.
When he reached the staging area in Pavia, Jokic immediately talked to his adjutant, Colonel Gregorio Pacito, inside the mobile command center, in order to try to get another perspective on the enemy’s operations. Even though he wasn’t as skilled as Jokic in special mech operations and mech piloting, Pacito knew how to dissect enemy strategy and divine enemy intentions long before they happen.
“If you were the enemy, how would you deploy your forces?”
“I would deploy my forces definitely towards this direction as well as the Suwalki Gap.”
“I would want to divert them. Look, even though stealing the Dardanelles and Bosphorus Straits would be a good option, everyone knows how hard it is to beat the Turks when they are fighting for their homeland.”
“So this is why they chose Milan.”
“Yes, it is quite near to Crimea, it is quite strategic and it has lots of value for the Italians. That will be a good way to do a flank while the rest of the Union advance goes unhindered. There’s a catch though.”
“What is it, Colonel?”
“I sense something bad will happen. I can’t figure it out, but I don’t think calling back battalions from Slovakia and Croatia were a good idea.”
“I do hope that it’s not as what you say. Otherwise, the Asians would be able to wreck us all.”
“Indeed, General. Indeed…”
Then, a lieutenant came into the command center.
“Sirs, dire news, Monza to the north has fallen to the enemy.”
Both of them looked in shock. Then, the Colonel regained his composure and said, “Thank you, Lieutenant. You are dismissed.”
The young officer saluted and walked away.
“General, what do we do now?”
“Sound the retreat. Just make a cordon and ensure that they are unable to break out any further. After all, it’s our job to contain their operations within a limited area.”
Somewhere in Duomo near the iconic Milan Cathedral, advanced units of the 125th Strikeer Regiment of the Pan-Asian Union were bogged down in a maze of defenses and chokepoints as they tried to break out and capture the dominant landmark of the city.
Even though they were equipped with Lancelots, Kumihos and Griffins, they were unable to gain any ground as a combination of well-placed crossfires were set up along the approaches to the historical site.
In addition, the Italians were giving up a ton of bodies, throwing their own Griffins and Pattons away, as well as their own tanks, mobile battle platforms and armored cars into oblivion. It seems that they understood the strategic and symbolical importance of holding the Cathedral.
“Sir, another Griffin is gone! At this rate, we will be reduced to 60% combat efficiency,” remarked one of Colonel Shin Nagasaki’s adjutants.
Nagasaki simply replied, “I see.”
The Japanese officer took a detailed look at the battlefield around him. The enemy was everywhere; they were not holding anything credibly other than a few blocks and the rear isn’t even fully secured as the jets of the Transatlantic Astronautical Command maintained local air superiority, at least as far as the city is concerned.
“Sky Eye, this is Zulu Zero-Zero, I repeat, this is Zulu Zero-Zero.”
“Zulu Zero-Zero, come in.”
“We are requesting orbital bombardment over the Duomo region, exact coordinates sent through cryptolink, over.”
“Zulu Zero-Zero, orbital bombardment request is denied.”
“What the heck? I’m losing a lot of men here, Sky Eye!”
“You have different orders instead. Pull out of the city center immediately. I repeat, pull out of the city center immediately.”
“I don’t understand, Sky Eye –“
“I repeat, pull out of the city immediately. This comes directly from the top.”
With a resigned voice, the officer said,
“Affirmative. Orders received clearly.”
“Very well, Omega Zero-Zero. Good luck. Be out as fast as you can.”
Nagasaki didn’t understand clearly why they were required to pull out from the center as fast as they could, when they could clearly see the Cathedral of Milan from the place where they were standing.
“Units under my command, we are to pull out of the city. Exercise caution, maintain formation and execute a fighting retreat.”
Everyone on the radio voiced their assent.
Throwing smoke grenades, chaff and electronic countermeasure units, they kept up their fire while slowly retreating out of the chasm they placed themselves in.