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The Gathering of Armies
Somewhere in the United Kingdom
0214 GMT, 30 November 2001
The creature branded as Lord Voldemort was reveling in his triumph of the American bombers, and said that it showed his superiority of the muggles. There was another rationale as to why he was triumphant; he had presently received word that the lion's share of the Dragons would fight on his side. He received this news through his adherent Severus Snape, who in his obligation as a double agent had stopped by the Order HQ and relayed the same information to them as well. This intelligence caused numerous different responses from both groups; in the Dark Lord’s camp, this meant that now they had an almost indestructible ally, but in the Order HQ, this caused mass pandemonium as dragons are notoriously challenging to kill and there were thousands of them in the wild.
USS Valhalla formerly the Red October, in the Baltic Sea
0341 GMT, 30 November 2001
Commander Marko Ramius ordered the submarine to periscope depth in order to pick up new orders after being on the bottom of the ocean floor for the past week. Instead of the accustomed ‘return to port’ orders he was anticipating, he received a FLASH message ordering to maintain missile release depth, radio silence and immediate launch readiness. His first impulse was to ask his superiors why, and he was informed of the proceedings of the past 24 hours. His sub was the only one on station with an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) suite accessible. He was to be on red alert, with his missiles prepared to fly in seconds if need be. He had not been this apprehensive since running his sub across the Atlantic Ocean avoiding both the Red Fleet and the US Navy. From then on, he would sleep no more than six hours a night.
SSN 21 Seawolf, Somewhere in the Adriatic Sea
0403 GMT, 30 November 2001
The ELINT systems aboard the Seawolf were lit up reminiscent of Las Vegas at nighttime. The radar showed hundreds of bogeys flying toward the Italian coastline. The sub had already lost contact with its escorts, the Ticonderoga class cruiser Port Royal and the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates Reuben James and Ingraham. The last communication heard from the cruiser was something about dragons attacking the SPY-1B radar. Then the sonar stations picked up the sound of an old, Russian Alfa-class submarine. The next thing that anybody knew there were several torpedoes in the water and all of them were making a beeline towards the Seawolf. Although the crew was quick to respond, the torpedoes were quicker. All 349 sailors and SEALs onboard died in battle, but not before getting a warning out to the Allied Air Command of the impending assault. This forewarning saved thousands of lives all around the Italian peninsula.
0421 GMT (0521 Local), 30 November 2001
The canals of Venice were empty in the early pre-dawn hours, but on every street corner, you could see a Guardia Nazionale soldier with a Stinger AA missile pack nearby. The first dragons began the attack runs at 0422, shooting out jets of flame at anything in their path. The Stinger missiles took out most of the first wave but the second came so quickly that there was no time to reload the man-portable missile launchers. Fortunately, the Allied Air Command had their own kind of dragon in the air. The 503rd Squadron 1st flight was composed of customized B-52 bombers. These AL-52 Dragons fought not with missiles but with formidable onboard lasers that could slice through 18 inches of solid steel from 40 miles away. After only 20 minutes of firing from a protected position 35 miles, NE of Venice the entire northern strike force of the Dark Lord looked like it had come off worse in a fight with a nuclear weapon. Out of 179 dragons, only four were still breathing at dawn.
0452 GMT (0552 Local), 30 November 2001
Although the defenses around the Italian capital had been said to be airtight, the one thing the military planners never counted on were traitors and saboteurs. Dark Lord partisans all around the city knocked out huge sectors of the AA emplacements all at the same time. When the dragons flew in like winged harbingers of catastrophic doom, they encountered sparse resistance from the city defenses. The aerial assault joined with a massive ground attack, and ended up destroying nearly a third of the city and over 40000 lives. By the time allied ground and air units responded, the majority of the attackers had disappeared in the night and the whole of the Italian command been annihilated off the face of the earth. This only strengthened the Italians resolve to overcome the fiend who had controlled this appalling onslaught.
Hogwarts Castle, Scotland, the British Isles
0630 GMT, 30 November 2001
The war had been going badly for the Order of the Phoenix. The man named Harry Potter lamented the people he had loved and lost. Ginny had defected to the Dark Lord early on in the war and now she was as fanatical as Bellatrix Lestrange was before Harry had killed her. Ron had also tried to defect after Hermione had rejected his ‘romantic’ advances, but he accidentally stepped on a land mine while trying to escape. Hermione had been working as a healer on the graveyard shift at St. Mungo’s at the time of the nuclear barrage. Many more had been lost to either a curse or the inescapable nuclear fires. Now was Harry’s first chance to payback the creature responsible for his pain. Today the Order began a series of hit and run attacks utilizing the equipment the Americans had sent over, along with the military hardware of the American SpecOps. As he stepped into his cybernetic battle suit his face showed a sense of grim determination to never forget the horrors of the war he already had and was about to see. Moreover, as he headed out to the transport that would take him and others to the first target he resolved never back down from this or any other battle that would be joined in the name of freedom.
Fifteen miles NW of Amsterdam, Holland
0712 GMT (8:12 AM Local), 30 November 2001.
As the transport aircraft neared the destination, many of the occupants began to get cold feet about doing this first, crucial mission. At this point, only the elite strike teams were outfitted with CID battle armor systems, all the rest were in their battle robes. The people in the battle armor were busy fitting on the weapon pods that attached to their battle armor, so all those in plain robes could do was sit and agonize about their fates in the upcoming battle. At 0718 the transport landed and the troops inside left the armored tilt-rotor aircraft. However, as the Osprey lifted off to return home an Anti-aircraft missile struck it directly in the pilot’s compartment and it crashed and burned. Grimly, the small attack force started moving toward the National Parliament building, since Holland had for some ungodly reason openly sided with the Dark Lord. The primary objective of this mission was to eliminate any hostile presence from the government of Holland.
As the elite squad, Squad Alpha, moved forward in their heavily armored battle suits, they encountered heavy resistance from both wizards and the military. Most of the spells bounced right off and soon the enemy was in range of the CID weapon systems. The first one to open fire was Larry Hovis with his 40mm grenade launcher, and this caused massive devastation to the enemy. After that, every single CID unit was spewing forth a great stream of tracers, bullets and frag grenades. Unfortunately, 3 of the elite squad were lost to lucky hits from small arms fire and Claymore mines. Then Harry Potter, squad leader ran through the hailstorm of bullets, at a suit-enhanced 50 mph, to start hand-to-claw fighting. Many followed him and soon the exterior defensive force that the enemy had produced was choking to death on their own blood.
Following that, Squad Bravo the regulars, ran forward to the entrance of the Parliament building. The enemy set of some explosive charges that buried squad Bravo in rubble. The entire fire team knew that all the members of the Dutch parliament were still inside because no helicopters had lifted off from the pad near the building. After the explosions, squad Alpha quickly dug out 2nd squad from the rubble, but almost half of the squad had been killed by falling debris. The demolitions expert on the team, Larry Hovis, quickly placed several charges of C4 on the steel doorways. After the doors had been blown in, the rest of the job was easy, as nobody had anticipated any strike force to be able to infiltrate the outer defensive force. After all the primary objectives had been achieved, the team used the available military CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters to extract themselves to allied Germany.
Allied Ground Forces Command, Moscow, Russia.
0923 GMT (12:23 PM Local), 30 November 2001.
The foremost reports of the successful missions in Holland and Venice were just coming in, as were reports of the devastation of Rome, Athens, and Budapest. Reactions to the reports were diverse but one thing was clear; there was a clear-cut need for a more sophisticated early warning system. Then one of the most disconcerting news flashes ever heard of was reported on CNN: there had been an authenticated epidemic of smallpox at the Ankara Int’l Airport. The pandemic was already hours old so now there was almost no chance of containing or stopping it. Before long, suspected cases of smallpox in Germany, France, India and Japan began cropping up. It looked like there was another new weapon in this conflict and it was equally imperceptible and lethal.
CIS Konovalov, Juliet II class SSBN, in the Artic Ocean
1024 GMT, 30 November 2001
The sub crew was edgy, they had been awake for 36 hours and the lack of sleep was getting to them. The submarine they were in was more then 30 years old and as such had no ELINT systems aboard. When the crew got the order to launch their missiles at new targets, they had no way to authenticate the message. When the commander of the Konovalov tried to dissuade the crew from launching the 4 nuclear missiles, a man by the name of Antonin Dolohov led a mutiny. Soon after this mutiny, the missiles began their maiden flights toward the continents of Europe and Asia. The new target coordinates for the missiles put them squarely in the capitals of China, France, Spain and India.
SAC-NORAD Headquarters, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, USA
1025 GMT (3:25 AM Local), 30 November 2001
Since the initial nuclear strikes the Strategic Air Command was on 24/7 alert. Therefore, when the missile launch signatures of the Konovalov’s showed up and the vectors were confirmed, the response was very quick. Three AL-52 Dragon Laserplanes were hastily scrambled from an airstrip in northern Sweden and were able to destroy three of the four missiles. The one missile that got away was the one headed toward Beijing, China. The Chinese high command quickly notified local authorities and this saved millions of lives. By the time, the missile detonated above Tiananmen Square nearly an hour later only six million people had been caught out of fallout shelters, as an alternative to the 17 million of an uninformed city. After collaborating with the Russian High Command, the source of the missile launches, quickly confirmed to be the Konovalov was to be consequently eliminated as quickly as feasible.
Situation Room, White House, Washington DC
1200 GMT (7:00 AM Local), 30 November 2001
The NSC had convened for a special meeting with the commander in chief of the Order of the Phoenix, Harrison James Potter. The meeting was held so that the Order could relay the next moves of the Allied military forces on to its component parts throughout most of Eastern Europe. The next move for the Allied Command would be to eradicate the threat of the dragons under the control of Voldemort. Several satellite and drone passes had revealed most of the nests, and the next move was to wipe them out. In the end, the safest option to all involved was a surgical nuclear strike, and Harry accepted after some protestations. One of the men most strongly against this plan was the Secretary of State, Robert Heinlein. He was more concerned with the environmental consequences than anything else was concerned. Nevertheless, despite his protests the plan was given the green light. At 8:15 AM Eastern Standard Time, that day, America would use nuclear weapons in anger for the third time in its history. A single MX Peacekeeper missile launched from eastern Maine, and carried within its titanium casing lay the death of hundreds of dragons, and as Secretary Heinlein feared, the death of thousands of people lay within as well.
DreamWorks AFB, Diamond Lake, Nevada
1345 GMT (6:45 AM Local), 30 November 2001
After the catastrophic shoot-and-scoot mission over England, The 501st squadron was placed on Status zero-zero alert by the Air Force Chief of Staff. In other words, they were on administrative review and both the planes and the personnel became officially grounded from all flight missions as of 0600 MST. However, to Major General Patrick McLanahan this meant absolutely nothing more then the missions they would fly would most definitely not be officially sanctioned events. Patrick had already called up Jon Masters and asked him to put some of his NIRTSat constellations in orbit above Europe. NIRTSat stands for Need It Right This Second satellites, and they could do things that any normal spy satellite could only dream of doing. They can provide any battlefield commander with more useful information then a dozen regular satellites could. Moreover, right now they were watching several plumes of radioactive ash move slowly across Eastern Europe.
Just then, the intruder alarm sounded, and the internal defense systems came online. The whole base went into a total lockdown, which meant that nothing lager than .02 microns could get in or out of the building. The defense computer swiftly found the source of the alarm, Research Laboratory 1, and isolated the lockdown to that section of the building. The computers then activated an EM pulse signal scrambler, to stop any form of electronic communication from within the building. Unbeknownst to the military this technology also stops all magical forms of travel and gives the one trying to get in or out an excruciating headache. The security detail sent to secure the lab, quickly found the cause of the ruckus. Somebody had portkeyed an extremely powerful explosive in to the lab. They were obviously hoping that by the time anyone found the charge it would be too late to defuse the bomb and it would cause massive, possibly irreparable damage to the base. Gratefully, the bomb was defused well before the timer on it ran out. Then somebody asked the $64,000 question: who leaked the location of this supposedly top-secret base?
Soon after these events occurred, the modified B-1B Lancers began loading fuel and ammo for a mission that would reduce pressure on the troops in the Korean peninsula. Kim-Jong II had openly sided with the Dark Lord and praised his guiding principle of racial hygiene. He had mobilized the whole of the North Korean military in an attempt to overrun nations sympathetic to the Order of the Phoenix. His first target was obvious to most of the world, South Korea. Only four hours after receiving the Orders envoy, he ordered his troops across the DMZ. He even went so far as to claim to be able to take over the United States with his People’s Liberation Army. South Korea had swiftly requested assistance to dispatch this foe of freedom. Thus, the 502nd Lancer squadron’s flight status was restored for missions over the Korean peninsula. All the men and women of the 502nd squadron could see that this would be a long and bloody war with two great armies at the centerpiece of it all.