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Somewhere on the Western Border

— Miron Province

Time of Day: Evening

“Fox One,” Colonel Thompson said and swallowed. His fingers tightened on the radio. “Mission is a go.”

“Copy.” Major Avarice pressed his display. Tapping in a code, he paused. A bead of sweat rolled across his brow and dropped onto sealed rubber. Within the gas mask, he licked his lips. The jet shuddered. His body jerked forward and black straps tightened against his jump suit. 
Mechanisms turned beneath—the automated gearshift activated and cogs churned. Turbo emissions blew through jet-pipes in a black propulsion. Head snapped back, the Major’s chest rose as oxygen pumped from his mask into his lungs; under several pounds of gravitational pressure, he couldn’t breathe on his own. Dark plumes shot out into open air, guzzled from tripled turbines. The aircraft’s reinforced frame reverberated under the strain.

Avarice gasped. White eyes slowly turned bloodshot as blood slid in a trickle from his nose. He blinked and his vision wavered despite the flooded oxygen. The strain of g-forces shifted puffed clouds to a streamed blur in open sky. A slit widened beneath the jet and retracting from the aircraft, the missile bay of the R1 Reaper detached its anti-grav catch.

Released, a high-altitude air-to-surface warhead hung suspended—the R1 Reaper narrowly leaving it behind at the speed of sound. Tilting, the projectile plunged, emitting a high-pitched squeal. Splitting the air, it dropped from an altitude of 60,000 feet. The sputter of sparks ignited into flame and the rocket blazed, shifting the missile into a shivering spiral. The roar of the jet thundered overhead, the sound of its engines catching up in the aftermath of a turbine long gone. 

Major Avarice watched, tracking milliseconds. “Fox—Fox One to Grey Wolf.” He coughed and sucked in a breath. “Critical impact point imminent. Terminal velocity of drop is Mach 33, over.” 

At home station, Colonel Thompson squinted. Furrowed, his expression was tense. He leaned over the digital array of the operation deck. Noting the jet’s flight path at a glance, he followed the trajectory of its “gift.” On course, the warhead did not waver. The colonel suddenly stiffened, back straight against an angular chair. “Titan Breaker strikes in ten seconds.” Sweat trickled down his wrinkled brow. “Prepare for—”

The bomb collided with the earth. Penetrating deep into the face of the mountain, it detonated. Snow vanished as vapor rose—the side of the peak blowing out. Shattered glass melted and the nose of the jet crumpled, compressing in the blast’s oncoming shock wave. Wings snapped like twigs as fire engulfed them. Static buzzed over the radio connection. Major Avarice was gone. Placing a hand onto the table, Colonel Thompson closed his eyes.

Digesting the birth of a one gigaton bomb, the ground tremored, rippling out in a force that cratered the earth. Thick black plumes rose, infecting the air with toxins as its legacy raged below. Wildlife eradicated, nature was scoured of its beauty. Once proud forests smoldered amid bright flames, illuminating the charred earth beneath the cover of thick smog. Poisonous vapors swirled over crusted rivers, haunting them in a ghostly fog, the wide banks blown dry as pocketed towns were erased in obliteration. From heaven, jagged particles sprinkled as a rain of ash fell. Abrasive, the tiny fragments showered a dark consecration upon the bombed in landscape. 

The withstander of time immemorial and guardian of Western peace, the once impenetrable Titan Mountains, had succumbed to breach. Lofty peaks fissured by technology, betrayed a smoking black scar gaping through the broken border of two hostile nations. A cavernous fracture in the mountainous wall, it was Kaiga’s declaration of the centuries old great war, resumed.

At the mountain range’s base, the Insie Sea raged. Tyrannical winds whipped the waves into surging tides, instigating an unpredictable flux of high mass that came crashing down. Bubbles swirled within churning water, roiling in the irate beginnings of an unnatural storm. Fighting to flee, the tail of a grade airliner turned and faltered, unable to resist nature’s will. Buffeted with a force that snapped wings, birds opened beaks in empty squawks, their cries lost alongside their flocks as they blew out of the sky. Amid the sea’s tumultuous tirade, boulders began to fall. 

Tumbling from the quaking alps in a rockslide, the fracture widened as the cliff face sundered. The range rumbled in a shift that quaked the planet, the aftermath of the gigaton blast running through it in a second tremor. Breaking off, the great peaks shuddered as slabs collapsed in on a weakened foundation, kneeling like stone glaciers. Caving in a cloud of dust and snow, the first to fall emphasized the impact of more falling bombs. The detonations sent rippling shock waves that resounded deep within the planet to its plates, enough for one to shift. 

Over a thousand miles away, the Nairobi Desert’s golden sand slid and descended across the dunes as the water of Lake Aspire, some further province away, sloshed into high waves. Culminating with the bombardment’s reverberation, the Titan Mountains’ partial collapse perturbed the planet to its core. In the three hundred years that the high range had guarded the Western Hemisphere—Kaiga, had finally pried a hole. 

Shadowed by a background of ten capsized battle ships, the insignia of the Kaigan Federation emblazoned along their flanks—uniformed bodies floated, their red star crests descending to the bottom of the sea. In the folds of the darkened sky, lightning flickered. Bright amidst the smog, its flash blanketed light across the tragedy and illuminated the dead frigates within the raging tsunami—the waves threatening to swallow them whole.

The roar of jets tore the howling wind. Armed to the teeth, they cradled tools of death beneath their wings. Rising into the atmosphere, the planes left an ear-splitting screech behind. Their thin trailing smoke crossed into unauthorized airspace, alluding to their nation’s ominous intentions. The mountain range broken, and territory open for the first time; Victashia lay naked and exposed. Thus, for Kaiga, time was of the essence.

The roil of turbines ignited and capsized battleships turned back over, righting themselves on activated controls. Water sprayed as gallons washed off their decks, dumping it back into the sea. Engines churned, jumped by the ignition of conversion-motor turbines. Gusts of steam blew back with the warships’ initial push off. Extending, massive propellers turned flat at their base and lifted the vessels with a slow heave as anti-grav transmitters forced the enormous bodies into the air.

The aircraft carriers were the first to rise. No sooner shadowed by sea-to-air battleships, the ship-crafts’ ascent panned out at an altitude of 40,000 feet. Eking their way through the mountain rift, Operation Persecution had begun. 

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