You're stronger than you know.
It began in the year 2020.
After months of cold warfare, the conflict that would come to be known as World War Three came to an end after only three days. Nuclear warheads ravaged the planet, three days of death and fire. In the aftermath, the world burned.
But with the destruction came new discoveries, furthered out of need for a cure to the growing epidemic of radiation sickness. The world united once more to solve a problem we had created, and gradually the nuclear radiation was suppressible. Suddenly atomic power was no longer as life-threatening. Radiation sickness could be treated easily and inexpensively, no deadlier than the common cold. Fear of irradiation and the concept of nuclear deterrence were in the past. Nuclear warheads, the weapons that had driven us apart, were deemed obsolete and the technology was refined and developed for other, communal uses. Nuclear power was used daily to power cities, factories, even cars. For a while, the world was at peace again. Calm.
Then it happened.
I know I was eleven or twelve but I don't remember exactly when. It doesn't matter. Something big fell from the sky in Washington and marched down the street. The police, the army, nobody could stop it. I remember watching it on TV and online, hearing about the attack on every major social media platform. It was unfathomable. Impossible. But it was true. This massive machine marched right up to the White House and assassinated the US president.
It was the first mech in the history of mankind.
Nobody knows who sent the machine, but it was rudimentary in design, remote-operated, and armed only for one purpose: to upset the balance of the political world. Hysteria swept across the globe and rumors swirled like the wind. If the world's leaders weren't safe, who was to say anyone was?
In the days following, as shock wore off, fear quickly turned to anger. The United States acted fast, accusing many nations, including allies, of the gruesome deed. The hot-headed Americans had many enemies, but what happened next was even more upsetting than the death of the president.
The United States of America began an armed march into Russia, aided by mechs of their own.
Mechanized Embarkable Combat Hardware, nuclear powered robots known as mechs, became the new weapons of mass destruction. These primitive, iron-clad machines were deadlier than any weapon and stronger than any tank. An unstoppable Iron Empire was poised to march across the world, leaving destruction in its wake.
These early machines were flimsy but deadly, based off the design of the first mech. An ironic punishment that some would say had been long overdue. The Russians denied responsibility for the assassination, but tensions had been high ever since the fragile truce that ended the third World War the President's death was the United States' opportunity for a fight. Despite a lack of proof of Russia's guilt, the United States would no longer listen to reason and as the tension between the two superpowers exploded once more, other countries in the United Nations had to make a choice. Seek justice on the side of the attackers, or intervene on the side of the defenders? Who were the heroes of this conflict? Who was right?
The entire world divided into nine factions, each developing mechs of their own.
The United States began mass-producing those rudimentary mechs that pushed an aggressive front into Russia, scouring the countryside with pockmark craters from shells.
The Russians had no choice but to respond by mass-producing mechs of their own. The daunting Monstro and nimble Veles were worthy foes to their attackers. With the Veles' unique ability to leap into the air, these robots turned the tide of the invasion. The United States' army grew desperate as they were beaten back one kilometer at a time.
Unfortunately, where there was war there was profit, and many wealthy businessmen from across America joined together to form the Transamerican Combat Corporation, a massive joint enterprise that manufactured new mechs for the American cause.
They turned out a massive slew of improved mechs, attempting to counter the Russian designs with their own. The Regiment was a powerful brawler, built to beat the Veles, and the Goliath was a mech that combined many aspects of the mechs previous to it, including a jump ability. Rarely they made a Legion or two, a massive, hulking mech that was better suited as a mobile artillery platform than a close fighter. The desperate Americans bought thousands of these mechs from the TCC, ensuring that humanity's next war would be one of iron and oil, with refined nuclear power a burning heart at its centre.
Because that's exactly what it was. A war. The Great Iron War.
At this point many nations had had enough, and some such as Canada or Japan secluded themselves off from the rest of the world. While the Japanese Self Defense Force mass-produced their own unique four-legged mech, the powerful Sentinel, purely for border defense, Canada refused to build any, stating that it wanted to remain peaceful and open to all.
Some countries became enraged at America's bold strike at an innocent Russia, and many peoples of Southern Europe united with Germany to help defend the Russians. Old rivalries were forgotten as people chose their sides, and soon Germany was churning out some medium-quality mechs of its own: the speedy Lynx, walking cannon Fox and the mighty Valkyrie.
The U.S, bolstered by the TCC's mechs, and the Russians, aided by German reinforcements, collided in the Russian countryside for the first notable battle of the war.
The Battle of Zolotoy.
The tiny, evacuated riverside mining district was where the location for the American's first true strike against the Russians they so badly wanted to believe were the enemy. It was here they stormed the river, attempting to take control of the facility and it's vast resources. Here the Russians dropped mechs from the sky in flying dropships, here German Valkyries fought off U.S Goliaths, swarms of Veles got into close-quarters fights with Regiments.
My father fought in that battle.
There were no rules of war back then. No beacons to secure. The mechs just shredded each other in a deathmatch. These early versions of the mechs had no ejection seats, no flare distress signals. If a mech died, it's pilot died in it. Game over. My father's final recorded moments were of his daunting Goliath mech shredding enemies like tissue paper, one broken weapon smoking, before being overcome by a barrage from a powerful Monstro.
I'm asked sometimes if I'm ashamed that he was fighting for the Americans, but no, I'm not. He didn't know they were wrong. In war, everyone who isn't you is wrong, and you're the right one, right for righteousness' sake. That's how it works. He left my family in Canada to join up for the Iron War, saying he wanted to do something despite the Canadian parliament refusing to partake in the war. The mining district where he died is now a sacred place, a monument to the first bloody battle of the war.
It's been ten years since the Battle of Zolotoy. There are more factions now, more mechs to worry about, and more places to defend.
The war didn't end with my father's generation, and if I don't do something it won't end with mine, either. The Iron War has gone on long enough.
I, Jackson Quinn, am going to end it.
But how can one man end a war, you ask? What could I possibly hope to accomplish all alone? Read on, my friend, and find out. But know this- though the concept of warfare is as ancient as we are, no matter what we do, humanity will always fight.
However, one thing is for certain.
War has changed.
YOU ARE READING
Iron EmpireScience Fiction
[UNDERGOING MAJOR REWRITES] The Great Iron War has been raging for ten years. The Earth is divided. War has changed. An unstoppable Iron Empire sweeps across the globe, conquering the world in giant robots known as mechs. The year is 2042. Our wor...