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This article (Operation Fimbulwinter), is fan fiction and isn't automatically canon. On the other hand, no one said it isn't.

Unlike the Not Canon banner, this page is not intended to be seen as lore from Team Paradox, and is instead something from the mind of the author. It is, however, supposed to be read and enjoyed. Have fun! You should also browse the fan fiction category for more content. Maybe these will inspire you to write your own projects.


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December 28, 1968Edit

Niflheim Base, Somewhere in Norway


Major Lisette Hanley had picked her team carefully. Twelve of the Allied Nations' most elite - and specialized - commandos had assembled at Niflheim Base. Niflheim didn't appear on any maps, despite the pillar of light that had shone out of the base for most of the war, reaching into orbit to be distributed by modified Athena satellites back to Earth. Niflheim had been intended to keep Norway safe during the war, creating a massive cryonic storm around the nation that froze even the Soviets' mightiest war machines solid. The Russian winter was justly feared, but Doctor Fries' invention had been something else altogether. Too much so, in fact. Niflheim was surrounded by a ring of scorched land a mile thick where nothing lived, having been frozen into lifeless oblivion by Skadi. Although the project had been modified in time to assist in devastating Soviet forces during the Allied counter-offensive, the experimental project left many of Niflheim's personnel with a sour taste in their mouths.

And yet Project Skadi had been only one of several projects undertaken at Niflheim. It was, Hanley reflected, a curious irony that so few people saw the cold as anything but an annoyance. So few realized that true cold did more than chill the bone. The cold ultimately chilled molecules and matter itself. Absolute zero was, in theory, impossible to achieve by thermodynamic means.

At Niflheim, the Laws of Thermodynamics had been proven wrong.

"All systems nominal." The soft voice of a so-called smartware system whispered in Lisette Hanley's ear.

She hadn't asked where Intelligence had acquired the powered suits of armor she and her team wore. They were definitely FutureTech equipment, an even more advanced model of the armor they had proposed for the Cryo Legionnaire project. Some Syndicate technology had obviously been integrated, but beyond that, Hanley had only listened to the engineers long enough to figure out what the suits could do and how to do it. They were critical to Operation Fimbulwinter. All Allied insignia had been scrubbed from the suits, and no one on the team carried any dog tags or other identifying marks.

"The squad checks out." Lieutenant Pierce announced. "These suits are heavy, like those tesla trooper suits they had us test last month. You sure these things can actually work on water?"

"Try it for yourself on the base pool." Hanley advised, her smirk invisible beneath the armor's helmet. "Make sure the dial labelled 'Tundralest' is turned all the way up and you'll be fine, but I suggest turning it off on dry land. Flash-freezing the ground you walk on isn't a good idea. Do not, I repeat do not shoot that cryo-cannon at anyone you don't intend to kill. This isn't a cryocopter's gun, troops. It's intended to be powerful, not safe."

That they were. These cryo-cannons used a form of cryogenic freezing that had in fact been banned by the Allied Nations as inhumane and fired in an erratic beam with a propensity for hitting multiple targets. More ominous still was a lever on the cannon, which hadn't been explained to the commandos, labelled "Inverse Mode."

"So what's the mission?" Pierce asked. "Highly dangerous, top secret, could end the war forever, yaddda yadda yadda. Got that. Any chance you'll tell us what the actual job is?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you." Hanley answered.

Pierce laughed. "Try me."

So Hanley told them.

"You're right." Pierce laughed again. "I don't believe you."

"Then if you'll move to the waiting helicopters, gentlemen?" Hanley rolled her eyes, then switched channels. "Asgard, this is Freyja. Operation Fimbulwinter is a go."

December 30, 1968Edit

CCCP Volk, Somewhere in the Norwegian SeaEdit

Fssssss!

Lisette Hanley's cryo cannon turned the Soviet sailor into a human popsicle. However, the cryonic beam failed to affect the young man's momentum in any way and his lunge at the armored intruder on his ship carried him over the railing entirely. His legs broke off at the knees, spilling the rest of the frozen young man into the sea. Hanley kicked the lower legs overboard.


The techno-weenies were as good as their word. Lieutenant Pierce's shot froze the ship's communications array solid. A followup shot from his .50 caliber sidearm, almost a toy in his powered armored hands, shattered the base of the array. The Volk had been silenced.


Sergeants Turren, Loiselle, and O'Grady froze the sea around the Rodina class ship's stern solid to a depth of ten feet, trapping the ship's propellers in ice. The destroyer's powerful engines would get the ship moving again shortly, but all the team needed was a little time.


Turning off the Tundralest system, Corporal Leahy sank into the water and seized the automated hatch protecting the ship's starboard torpedo tube. With the enhanced strength of the powered armor, the metal buckled and yielded. An unconventional way to enter a ship, to be sure, but the Canadian trooper was known for his inventive approaches to breaking and entering.


Drummond, Butcher, Bear, Eddings, Grey, and Gonzales boarded at the stern. With the amplified strength of their powered armor, throwing up grappling hooks and lines that could hold their weight was no issue. More than a dozen Soviet sailors and marines died in less than a minute.


A simple motion of Hanley's right hand froze the Soviet captain's look of shock on his faze. A simple motion of Hanley's left hand shattered the Soviet captain's face entirely.


Ten minutes after the boarding action had started, the crew of the CCCP Volk surrendered. A proud ship, to be sure - its name was Russian for "Wolf."

The crew still had no idea who they had surrendered to.

Soviet Experimental Science Bunker, MoscowEdit

"You said you brought me here for a reason, Doctor Zelinsky." Brigade Commander Davidova reminded her companion curtly. "Start talking."

"Of course, of course." Zelinsky nodded, making a palpable, if mostly ineffectual, effort to keep his anxiety under control. "So much you need to understand. This, all of this, is a mistake."

The Soviet commander and chief of the Union's science directorate entered a cavernous testing bay for new models of tesla suits, but their elevated catwalk merely passed through the facility.

"What is a mistake?" Davidova asked with a raised eyebrow.

"The Empire, these tesla weapons... everything is a mistake." Zelinsky gave the tesla suits an odd look - almost regretful. "This is not how it should be. What I am about to tell you - it is very secret. Only Cherdenko and Krukov knew. Or were supposed to know. I wasn't supposed to. But I knew."

"Krukov is dead." Davidova reminded the scientist. "Cherdenko is preparing to make his last stand in Leningrad. Your secret is safe with me."

Zelinsky cleaned his glasses nervously as the pair passed another security checkpoint. "I know, I know. That is why I am telling you. You are the best hope for the Soviet Union. We tried to change things, make things happen a different way. We made things worse instead."

"I hope for your sake you didn't bring me here to talk about the Science Directorate's failures." Davidova frowned, and her hand went to the pistol on her hip. "I do not have time to waste."

"Time! Exactly!" Zelinsky shouted in the concrete tunnel. "We tried to change time! We built time machine!"

Davidova's eyebrow went higher still. "Time machine? You reverse-engineered the chronosphere?"

"No!" Zelinsky's body quaked with nervousness - or excitement. "Teleportation is travel through space and time, but chronosphere travels through time to travel through space! We built the opposite! We traveled back in time!"

Davidova stopped in mid-stride. "You're serious, Zelinsky? You were able to travel through time, and... changed history?"

"Exactly!" Zelinsky nodded furiously. "Krukov and Cherdenko did! But I built machine! I have memories of every timeline! Twice Cherdenko tried to change history! Every time, he failed! Every time, he made things worse!"

"Explain." Davidova ordered coldly.

"I do not know how time shifts started." Zelinsky admitted. "That was someone else, tried to remove evil man from history, stop a great war. Instead, he created a war between Allies and Soviet Union where there had been none. We lost. Cherdenko tried to undo what first man undid by going back in time and killing him."

"A twisted version of the grandfather paradox." Davidova nodded. "I take it Cherdenko's plan didn't work."

"No." Zelinsky sighed. "Cherdenko created new timeline. In new timeline, the Empire existed where it hadn't. Again, we lost. Cherdenko and Krukov were imprisoned, you lead Soviet uprising against Allied occupation. But in that timeline, something else happened. Allies meddled with time. Sigma Harmonizer. Time... time is like rubber band. Can only stretch so far before it snaps."

Davidova shook her head. "This is starting to make my head hurt. Zelinsky, what does any of this mean for the Union today?"

"Everything." Zelinsky - smiled?

A series of security doors, each thick enough to deflect any errant Achilles that might barrel down the halls, opened. In a surprisingly small lab sat a device like nothing Davidova had ever seen.

"Time machine." Doctor Zelinsky announced proudly.

December 31, 1968Edit

PhiladelphiaEdit

In a single, searing instant, the Philadelphia Master Chronosphere exploded.

From orbit, astronauts of all national affiliations shielded their eyes from the sudden burst of light from North America. The light drowned out all detail in its horrifying brilliance, while shadows became black as the void itself and the only refuge against the light. More than a dozen men and women unfortunate enough to be looking directly at North America simply died, their brains' ability to process what it was seeing simply overloaded. The more fortunate were merely blinded as their optic nerves burned out and mechanical photoreceptors melted. Those on the ground were more fortunate as the natural curvature of the Earth offered some shelter.

For miles around Philadelphia, concrete, asphalt, and steel liquefied and ran like water. Flesh and bone instantly evaporated into atmospheric oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon. Windows melted as far away as Pittsburgh and citizens in Washington D.C., New York, and other cities were transformed into black shadows on the walls and ground. A pillar of horrific radiance climbed into the skies, and an Achilles squadron boiled away into vapor before the pilots could comprehend the danger. The heat wave set off fire alarms in South Carolina and would change the global climate for decades to come.

But as dangerous as the heat and light were, they were only the first wave of the cataclysm. A massive pressure wave followed, driving the soup of melted Philadelphia forth like a nightmarish tidal wave that obliterated everything for nearly twenty miles around the city. An Allied shuttle returning to Earth had survived the heat, which had added little to the trial of atmospheric re-entry, but crumpled and shattered into countless pieces as the shuttle collided with the nearly solid force of the pressure wave. Windows shattered as far away as Georgia and trucks in western Pennsylvania were lifted off the ground and hurled across the Mississippi River.

The death toll would never be known for certain. Tens of millions, certainly. Hundreds of millions, probably. The United States of America would not - could not - ever recover from the disaster.

And yet the strangest thing about the greatest man-made disaster in recorded history was how sudden it had been. The Master Chronosphere's control center had recorded nothing unusual before the disaster. The Washington and London Master Chronospheres confirmed the appraisal. Philadelphia had not been under attack, and maintenance had just been performed a week before. The subsequent Allied investigation would go on for years, yet find only inconclusive results. There was simply no reason at all for the disaster, as near as anyone could tell.

Even before the disaster, however, there was a curious chart hanging in Niflheim Base in Norway. No one could say who placed the chart there, or when. There was, however, an even more curious entry on the chart.

Garm howls: Philadelphia: 12/31/1968/6

CCCP Volk, Somewhere in the Barents SeaEdit

Lisette Hanley sighed as the flash of light on the horizon faded. Philadelphia.

"Asgard, this is Freyja. Confirm Garm's howl."

It was a long moment before her radio crackled. "Freyja, this is Asgard. Confirmed and Garm has definitely broken loose. You have the green light, and Forseti is standing by in case you're wrong."

"Doubtful." Hanley answered quietly. "But we'll see. The protocols have been right so far."

"Acknowledged, Freyja." The other side of the radio answered. "Confirm Yggdrasil?"

"Confirmed. Captain's logs have given us the position."

"Then Godspeed."


Lieutenant Pierce had taken off his helmet to look curiously at his commander. Pierce was built like a bear and was about as well-shaven.

"So were you serious, Major? Back in Niflheim?"

"I wish I wasn't." Hanley nodded. "The truth, lieutenant, is that the Allied Nations have known for a long time that our situation cannot possibly be accidental. There's too many strange questions. We have no idea where the Master Chronospheres come from, for one. For one more, we're pretty sure the chronospheres in general shouldn't work. They do, but they shouldn't."

"You're kidding." Pierce shook his head. "That's comic book stuff, Major. I didn't think a lady who fought at Heidelberg and Tokyo would believe that kind of nonsense."

Lisette finally removed her helmet. Fortunately, none of the Soviet sailors were around. Her hair spilled out across the armor and its ridiculously and pointlessly oversized pauldrons.

"Lieutenant, what if I told you that what just happened in Philadelphia wasn't the first inexplicable incident of massive destruction in recent years?"

"I'd say you were crazy, sir." Pierce answered with a shrug.

"Try telling that to the Chinese." Lisette replied, then quickly added, "You haven't heard anything because we didn't want to stick our noses into it. But some of the very limited news coming out of China is unsettling in the extreme. And then there was the decades-long investigation of just how the Empire acquired the technology it did."

There was a long moment of silence between the officers. For his part, James Pierce had no idea what to make of the Major and her stories. Pierce still wasn't far removed from the Puerto Rican farm boy he had been not many years before, until he enlisted in the army to see some adventure. The drill instructors had seen the makings of an officer in him, but Pierce had never been what one might call a genius in the making.

"Major, what are we doing out here?"

"Operation Fimbulwinter." Hanley answered quietly. "A contingency plan we'd hoped to never implement. It was never intended for this particular situation, though. Rommel came up with Fimbulwinter in the event of a more conventional sort of crisis. You know about the Athena-2 satellites, right?"

"The satellites that shoot ice beams?" Pierce asked. "What about them?"

"Fimbulwinter calls upon the entire Athena-2 network." Hanley pointed an armored finger up at the night sky. It should have been a promising sign of the new year. "The satellites are actually designed to work as a synergistic bombardment network, collectively striking a single target with a greater force than the simple sum of its parts, just like the Athena-1 satellites. The Athena-2 version never worked properly, though. It needs a certain... catalyst to start."

Piece nodded. "Which we're providing. But... Major, you said we're heading to Moscow..."

"What do you want me to say, lieutenant?" Hanley looked up at the sky sadly. "Chronologists have been tracking the... disturbances, I guess you'd call them. They've been occurring for decades, and are growing in frequency and intensity. They believe the source of it all is something in Moscow, and with what just happened in Philadelphia, we have the go-ahead. Like I told you in Norway, our objective is to erase Moscow from the map for the good of all mankind."

MoscowEdit

"It started with small things." Zelinsky explained. "Strange disasters. Tunguska. Chrono-Guardian. Floating fortress in North Atlantic. All impossible."

"You're certain this has nothing to do with the Allies?" General Zhana Agonskaya asked. "They play with time every day."

"Some chronoports fail, yes." Zelinsky shook his head, and walked over to a map on the far wall. He pointed to the sea off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. "Island code-named Katorga-12. No longer on map. Erased in the 1950s."

Zelinsky pointed to the continental United States. "Strange failure during Second World War. Manhattan Project. Should have worked. I remember from last time. Nuclear weapons. Yet now... failed. Proton Collider nothing compared to atom bomb."

Davidova, Agonskaya, and Oleg Vodnik simply glared at Zelinsky. Davidova broke the silence a moment later. "Zelinsky, I do not care about what you say should or should not be. You convinced me that this time machine was critical to saving the Union from Krukov's idiocy and Cherdenko's arrogance. Start. Talking."

"I'm getting to that." Zelinsky answered nervously. "You must understand scope of problem. You wanted to know how I knew about other timelines. I built time machine. I know how to operate time machine. General, chronospheres are time machines. Problem is not Union. Problem is not Allies. Problem is time itself."

"How?" Oleg asked, oddly quietly. "Time is big problem, comrade. You may be biting off more than you can chew."

"I helped cause problem." The scientist sighed. "Real problem is not time, but causality. Cause and effect. I want to turn on time machine again. I want to reverse causality, kill past self."

"Kill your past self?" Davidova asked sharply. "What could that possibly accomplish?"

"I built time machine." Zelinsky stated flatly. "Kill me, time machine is never built. Time like rubber band, yes? My machine stretches band. Remove machine, time snaps back."

Zhana started to pace back and forth in the cramped lab. "You say our timeline is the result of changes, yes?" She asked while continuing to pace. "Zelinsky, you do this... what happens to us?"

"We snap back, I think." Oleg answered, crossing his arms across his chest. "Everything... gone."

"Yes, and for the better!" Zelinsky shouted. "Kill me, none of this happens! Only first change remains! You know about time machine, you can stop first change! You can put time back in proper shape!"

"Can we?" Davidova asked. "Zelinsky... you're talking about killing your past self, when your current self is what's responsible for wanting to go back in time and kill your past self. You're talking about deliberately creating a paradox."

80 Million Years AgoEdit

Laurasia

The time belt snapped Tanya out of the way of a tesla coil blast, but the time hop was... different. Not at all the momentary sensation of dislocation and disorientation, identical in feeling to a chronoport. Tanya felt herself sliding.

Snap

Reality reassembled itself.

The first thing Tanya noticed was the air. It felt like the rebreather bottles issued to high-altitude insertions... High oxygen levels. The analytical, mission-focused part of her brain noticed.

Then she noticed that she was no longer in snowy Russia. It was quite warm, in fact, and the fragrant smells of an unknown spring assaulted Tanya. Strange noises, too. Bird calls like nothing she had ever seen. Strange plants. They looked similar to the trees and shrubs she knew, but... they were different. She couldn't put her finger on it.

It was only several seconds after she rematerialized that Tanya noticed her time belt. The device had... melted, fused into a solid lump of metal.


Tanya was still fiddling with the useless time belt when a group of natives approached, each about the size of a large pheasant and complete with colorful feathers that would make a peacock blush. Each also had razor-sharp claws, powerful muscles, and teeth like knives. They had never seen this strange new arrival. Like most primitive creatures, their first impulse upon seeing something new was to attempt to eat it.

Four fell to snap-shots from Tanya's pistols before one of the velociraptors leaped onto Tanya's chest and tore her throat out with a single bite.

January 1, 1969Edit

CCCP Volk, Off the Russian CoastEdit

"What we codenamed Yggdrasil is one of the marvels of Soviet science and engineering." Hanley explained to the strike team. "Truth be told, it was the basis for some interesting ideas in Allied research labs. Did you hear about the canals in Leningrad and Amsterdam, and the lake in Switzerland, where entire aircraft carriers and Akula submarines could enter the waters?"

"I was at Geneva." Sergeant Loiselle nodded. "Chronosphere brought the carrier into the lake."

Hanley shook her head. "That's what we told you. It's not the truth. The Soviets were the first ones to learn how to fold space-time and create spaces of variable dimensions. Yggdrasil is a tunnel network they created in secret years before the war. It allows them to transport ships and convoys through what appears to be nothing more than water pipes and at highly accelerated speeds - the network is quite literally much shorter on the inside. We invaded and hijacked part of the network before the war officially started, but the Soviets quickly sealed off occupied areas of Yggdrasil before we could try attacking the Russian mainland."

Lieutenant Pierce put two and two together. "That's why we pirated this ship. You intend to enter Yggdrasil and take us straight into Moscow to deliver the catalyst for Fimbulwinter."

"Correct." Hanley smiled. "It's also why we hijacked this ship in particular. A Rodina-class destroyer escort has the... muscle, shall we say, to enter Yggdrasil. I have the location for one of the Barents Sea leaves of the network, and as a matter of fact, we'll be there in another thirty minutes or so. Of necessity, the fold-locks to Yggdrasil are sized for the vessels in real-space. We will enter the lock, transition into the main structure of Yggdrasil, head for the Moscow lock, and exit Yggdrasil there. Once in Moscow, we will plant the catalyst and head right back into the network. Yggdrasil should keep us safe from Fimbulwinter itself."

"Major..." Pierce asked slowly, "Why do I get the feeling you have no idea if this is going to work or not?"

"I most certainly do have an idea!" Hanley snapped defensively. "If you would like to name an occasion where anything like this at all was necessary, I'm all ears."

"No, nevermind." The lieutenant sighed. "Well, full speed ahead?"

"Full speed ahead." Hanley nodded.


Thirty Minutes Later


The Barents Sea fold-lock was stunningly well-hidden for something of Soviet construction. Which mainly meant a few stolen Mirage tanks had been wired together to project an image of a desolate and rocky cliff face, wholly unremarkable on the equally desolate and rocky cliffs of Russia's northern shore. The sentries were already dead by the time the Volk approached, casualties of Tanya moments before she had vanished, and the tesla coils only recognized an approaching Soviet ship.

Reinforced with steel and concrete, the external hatch to Yggdrasil had been built with defense against Allied attack in mind. Even powerful spectrum cannons would take time to melt through the hatch, while thick, sloped armor was a formidable deterrent to more ballistic or explosive weapons. The hatch had not been built, however, with an approaching warship at full speed in mind, moving in along the hidden channel dredged out to allow the largest Soviet warships passage into and out of Yggdrasil.

The bow of the Volk passed through the holographic cliff face and put lie to the disguise, then crumpled against itself as the ship ran into the actual door into the network. Unfortunately for the Soviet Union, a ship has far more mass than an errant crashing airplane. The CCCP Volk smashed through the lock hatch like a freight train, splintering steel and concrete like balsa wood and ripping the hatch from its hinges. Steel and earth rained down across the deck of the destroyer as the hatch collapsed, but the Volk had more than enough momentum to keep going without missing a beat.

Inside the lock, there was a curious sense of dislocation and compression as the fold went to work, not dissimilar to a cryocopter's S.H.R.I.N.K. beam. As the Volk passed through the fold-lock, the gaping entryway behind the ship steadily shrunk until it was nothing more than a small pinpoint of light that nevertheless fit perfectly with the spacious man-made cavern the Volk had entered. Lisette Hanley and her strike team didn't look back as they plunged into Yggdrasil, heading for the heart of the Soviet Union through its own veins.


Tokyo, JapanEdit

Thought. Action. Reaction.

Action. Thought.

Chicken. Egg.

Thought.

Make thought reality.

Thus, action.

What if?

Thought.

Thought becomes action.

Fundamental principle of psychic powers.

New thoughts.

action

Matter.

Energy.

energy is matter

Matter is energy.

Action demands matter.

thought demands energy

More.

more

more

Yes.

action

Clones.

Not Chinese technology.

psionic decimator

All minds. All me.

Linked.

yes

Reach out.

all minds

Clone minds. Soft. Putty.

action

action

Thought.

thought

thought

Action.


Thirty Seconds Later


Apocalypse.

How many times Yuriko had been cloned was a closely kept secret. Certainly it was in the hundreds, a technology the Empire had carelessly let slip into Chinese hands because the Empire never realized the true potential of the technology. Every gene pattern in China and Japan that had been cloned, had fundamentally the same mind. Time and experience may have made some minds diverge from the template, but such things can never change significantly. One of those minds was the most potent psionic will the Earth had yet seen.

For a brief, terrifying moment, Yuriko Omega was one with all of her cloned selves. Clones in Imperial psionic research centers, in psionic decimators, in aerial battleships making those craft that could not fly under their own power, in secret Imperial bases and organizations. Yuriko became something greater than the sum of her parts. Psionic threads reached out, touching other minds and drawing them into a a web of unfathomable power. Lives flashed before these brief minds before they were snuffed out, mere tributaries to the torrent of power emerging in Tokyo.

The web reached out further. Tunnel rats on particularly bad acid trips screamed as their minds were ripped [further] asunder, talents recently kindled by their chemical addictions explosively accelerated and unleashed. Lensmen clawed their eyes out in agony aboard their ships, overwhelmed by a power the Allied Nations would never have recognized.

Some gifted minds survived, of course. Armor of silver protected a few, refracting the psionic maelstrom in a way its makers never intended, but there was perhaps an unseen hand in the crafters, guiding them without their knowledge. Other minds were interwoven with iron and glass, no longer really human at all. These merely burnt out, fused with metal and machine. Tunnels that defied space and time shook, but the branches of Yggdrasil sheltered those who had taken refuge among it.

Those without psionic gifts were merely driven mad, and across the globe brother began to kill brother and kin lay together. A mighty Soviet space station shuddered and its systems ran rampant as its crew went insane, triggering devastating tidal events as the gravitational tie between Earth and Moon went awry. In desperation, the still-incomplete Chinese star fleet broke free from its moorings, attempting to outrun the cataclysm and set sail anywhere else.

Their electronic minds largely unaffected, the Electrical Protectorate mobilized.

And deep in the heart of Moscow, Davidova looked out at her burning world in horror.

"This what I was afraid of." Zelinsky said quietly. "Things fall apart."


January 2, 1969Edit

The overrides had been planted years ago, during construction of sealed bunkers by the Allied Nations, Soviet Union, Mediterranean Syndicate, and Empire of the Rising Sun. Some of these bunkers had survived the psionic devastation by quirk of design or simply random chance. Across the world, Romulus, Davidova, Marshal Bingham, Shogun Kamina, and a figure known only as The Viceroy watched their video monitors flicker to life. A woman of Arabic features and clad in silver plate appeared before them, while images of the other world leader appeared below her. For once, the leaders of what was left of the world were speaking together.

"Ragnarok, the Norse called these days." Lady Maria stated flatly. "The Holy Bible calls this the time of tribulation, the time of Revelation. It does not matter. What does matter is that the Norse were not the only ones to foresee what is now coming to pass. Loki has brought this forth, a group we know as the Black Hand. What we choose to call them no longer matters."

"We've detected a mechanized force in Antarctica." The Viceroy was the first to speak. "They're not making any effort to hide themselves."

"The Electrical Protectorate." Romulus whispered, his face shrouded in shadows as he spoke from his insulated stronghold in Rome. "Jacob leads them."

"And we have a space station wreaking havoc with the seas." Davidova noted.

"We're also registering severe atmospheric disturbances." Kamina agreed. "Evaporating Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and a sizable piece of mainland China doubtless caused problems without the interference of the Soviet Union."

"If we are to survive, we must cooperate." Bingham noted. "I bear no love for any of you, but..."

Static erupted over the channel for several agonizing seconds before it resolved itself into an iron-jawed man in a military uniform.

"Don't count us out, either." President Hoffhassle declared. "We've got the mother of all acid trips centered on Japan, but lots of problems elsewhere. Don't know if any of you have noticed, but global temperatures have begun to decrease very rapidly. It's already snowing in Florida."

"We will deal with your errant satellite, Russian." Bingham decided. "I will personally assemble whatever forces we have and take them into orbit."

"Then I will confront this... Electrical Protectorate?" Kamina nodded.

"That is what they call themselves, yes." Romulus answered. "I believe I can still find some answers, maybe even forestall this doom. Lady Maria, I know about the Cult. They will listen to me, I hope."

"Then I guess we get to deal with what you Allies unleashed in Philadelphia." Hoffhassle decided. "Funny thing about time. Twist it too much and it might just snap. Time isn't meant to look like a pretzel."

"And I shall attempt to strike at the heart of this matter." The Viceroy declared. "If any weapon of this earth can harm what the Japanese so foolishly unleashed, it will be something in my arsenal."

Lady Maria nodded. "Evacuate your survivors to South America. Northern South America seems to be the least touched by this bedlam, and we will protect them there. Godspeed, ladies and gentlemen."

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