World War III
Earth's last massive conflict, beginning May 1, 2053 at 0230 UTC, when the Eastern Coalition (ECON) launches a first strike nuclear attack against the states of the New United Nations (NUN), consisting of a wave of ICBMs simultaneously with a viral cyberattack against the network infrastructure of their targets. The NUN respond immediately with their own nuclear strike, as well as bomber- and satellite-strikes against targets across the Middle East and Asia. Nuclear explosions above London, Moscow, Berlin, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Toronto, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Mecca, Riyadh, Samarkand, Karachi, Singapore, and New Delhi, as well as conventional explosions over Hong Kong, Beijing, and Ho Chi Minh City, lead to the deaths of over 500 million people in the first minutes of war; due to the various cyberattacks and the electromagnetic disruption caused by the the hundreds of warheads, four in five ICBMs on both sides fail to detonate, with unexploded nuclear ordnance later found around Washington D.C., Denver, Paris, Madrid, Rome, and Istanbul. Largely unaligned before this point, the Pacific nations side with ECON in response to the indeterminate nature of NUN strikes, while the unaligned Muslim Bloc of the Middle East and North Africa is caught in the crossfire and devastated. Following the wave of EMPs and viral attacks, as well as the overall destruction of the strikes themselves, the nuclear capabilities of all involved nations are essentially destroyed, leading to an extended ground war with fronts across the globe, including both ground troops and AI-driven drone and robotics strikes. Innumerous individuals and terrorist organizations take advantage of the chaos to strike out themselves, with biological, chemical, and small-scale nuclear attacks recorded worldwide in addition to the global military action.
The continued war leaves much of the world in near-anarchy, most major governments collapsing and many local forces (including the infamous Colonel Phillip Green) claiming hold of wide swathes of territory in the absence of national forces. Many nations resort to drugging their own soldiers to keep order in the ranks which, while effective at preventing desertion, only turns combat into even more of a bloodbath.
Within mere months, following an attack on Washington, D.C. (up to this point, one of the few centers of government yet-untouched) by a nuclear airblast and the targeted bombing of Lee Kuan’s palace leading to the final collapse of the ECON, the few national governments to survive agree to end the fighting. WW3 ends in the same year it began with a ceasefire signed in San Francisco, one of the only major cities within the warzones to survive the war largely unscathed, but the era known as the Post-Atomic Horror continues for decades to come. While final casualty figures will likely never be known for certain, most estimate direct deaths at 600 million at least, not counting later deaths inflicted by radiation sickness or the effect of nuclear winter. (In a perverse happenstance, however, many credit the nuclear winter of WW3 to helping stave the growing effects of global warming until they could be reversed.)
- TLE Novel: "The Sundered"
- ENT Novel: "Uncertain Logic"
- TOS: "Space Seed"
- DTI Novel: "Watching the Clock"