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Project Aurora


Vedran
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Somewhere in Madagascar

Night

The rumbling vibration of the engine, the occasional jolt when the truck hit a pothole in the road, and the humid heat of the night were all simple little things a man would have noticed on a long, quiet drive across the country. A man that wasn't focused on something important, a man that wasn't Lt. Joseph Filipović of the MSDC (Mundokiir's Special Defense Command, colloquially the Herons) or any of the 80 other men who had the distinct honor of protecting this most precious cargo on its cross-country trek.

The convoy made its silent voyage along the newly paved roads of Arctica, encountering few cars along the way. It was composed of a small number of humvees, some wheeled APCs and IFVs, simple trucks carrying troops in the back, and in the middle a covered flatbed with soldiers hanging off the back and sides, calm eyes scanning the sides of the road for any threats. An attack by anyone was very unlikely, here in friendly territory, but considering the value of their cargo, no assumptions were made, no possibility discounted.

Office of Dr. Simpson

Underground facility, Nothern Lights research station, Arctic Circle

Some weeks ago

Dr. Simpson was the head of the Northern Lights research station, located on (or rather, under) Mackenzie King Island, under the decaying shell of old Arctica City. Possibly the most secure location in the entire country, NL was home to dozens of scientists, hundreds of staff, and two thousand soldiers. The entire island was a deathtrap for anyone without an up to date map. The old capital's abandoned buildings stood like ghosts in a small valley in the east of the island, uncared for and covered with snow. Among them, the streets were peaceful in their snowed-over state, characteristic of an abandoned settlement in some post-apocalypse film. The place might have looked like Procinctia, except with less rubble and more snow. Anti-aircraft defenses were placed all around the island too. Most contact with the outside came through satellite communications and the occasional cargo submarine (OOC: unarmed submarine, so I don't think it counts for navy) that went to and from the place, and very rarely by plane; an airfield was painstakingly kept snow-free for this purpose. Considerable space was given to a hydroponics lab which easily sustained the inhabitants, especially due to advancements the Arcticans had made in previous decades with having to support an entire population in the north.

Underneath the surface, however, things were much more hospitable, although bland. Various minor programs (most of a military nature) had occupied the researchers here over the years, though for the past six or seven months, Project Aurora had taken up most of their time. It had all started when the Mundokiir, as commander-in-chief of the military, had decided to take steps to increase Arctica's military strength. The country had always been a small player in world politics and the leadership was content with staying that way. However, the sheer aggressiveness of many of the world's nations was something that had given the Arcticans pause. For how long could they be safe, even in their largely unprovocative attitude in world affairs, with no military allies other than the various pan-African groups that emerged? But then, how long could they be safe, even with alliances to major powers, many of which went to war regularly? They did not want to stand alone against an expansionist power, but they wanted even less to be brought to ruins fighting in somebody else's war. Lesser women would have thought of it as a dilemma, but the Mundokiir realized that 20th century advancements in technology provided the perfect answer: nuclear deterrent.

And so Project Aurora was born, named after the aurora borealis which occurred in the north. The scientists had been set to work around the same time the Transvalers had begun their own Project Vela. Due to periodic budget cuts caused by needing more money for the rebuilding from August's debacle, Aurora's timetable kept getting pushed back, even long after Project Vela was complete. But finally it was done.

Simpson's office was quiet save for the faint buzzing of fluorescent lights, the clicking and claking of computer keys, and the sound of a coffee mug being set down. Simpson was a short man, in his fifties with balding blond hair and gentle blue eyes. In his lab coat he seemed more like a friendly chiropractic or something, not like a man who oversaw the development of weapons that could turn people into ash shadows. But he was. And just as he finished off his coffee, an intercom in his office buzzed. He pressed a button.

"Yes?"

"Dr. Simpson, the Aurora has been loaded onto the sub and the crew is preparing for departure" said a female voice.

"Good, good. Inform Oceana." He was about to shut off the intercom but thought better of it. "And, Natalie?"

"Yes, Dr. Simpson."

"I'm out of coffee."

Several hours later, the submarine was on its way. It made dock weeks later in the naval base on Oceana Bay, across the bay from the city itself. It was all very hush-hush. A site had been selected for the underground testing a long time ago, so all they really had to do was pile the cargo onto a truck and get it going.

Project Aurora convoy

Several hours into the trip

The truck slowed down and halted when the APC in front of it came to a stop. Lt. Filipović jumped out of the passenger's side door of the flatbed carrying the cargo, as did some soldiers from the other trucks. Gripping his assault weapon, he ran toward the front of the convoy, where he could hear some commotion, smoke rising, and a sickly yellow haze indicating something was ablaze. He reached the front, sweeping the area with his weapon and saw some of the other soldiers gathered around a burning civilian vehicle, its terrified driver looking on. There seemed to be no threat. A few of the soldiers got fire extinguishers from their humvees and doused the blaze. An irritated Lt. Filipović looked around, lowering his gun.

"What happened here, Sergeant?"

"Evidently, the civilian accidentally set the vehicle on fire by dropping a lit cigarette into a puddle of vodka that he had spilled on the hood. He's calling for a tow truck right now."

". . ." Joseph glanced at the civilian, then looked back to his Sergeant. How drunk do you have to- "Get the men back in the vehicles, then, and continue toward the site."

"Yes, sir."

Without any further incidents, the convoy reached the site just before sunrise, where the cargo was unloaded and checked, then prepared for testing.

Underground testing site, Madagascar

Some time later

BOOM

News Report: The government of Arctica confirms that the seismic activity detected earlier was indeed the testing of a nuclear device; officials estimate the detonation to be somewhere near its designed yield of 50kt. Later, Vedran made an appearance on national television to give a short statement.

"Earlier today, as you all know, this country performed its first nuclear test, the culmination of months of development in our Project Aurora. This is a great step forward for our nation, and will ensure our continued security in this turbulent world. We will continue to use peaceful nuclear energy in our power plants and we will continue to produce nuclear weapons. If any of you have concerns about yet another country getting its hands on weapons of mass destruction, let me be the first to say: our nuclear program is intended as a deterrent first and foremost; we will not use these weapons prematurely, we will not use them as a bargaining chip to gain land, trade concessions, what have you; they are a defensive tool only. Should the time arise to use them, and I sincerely hope that it does not, they will be employed responsibly and with consideration to the long-term consequences to the environment and to human life.

Thank you and goodbye."

Over the coming days (OOC: as I buy them) production of the nukes would be handed over to a mainland facility and the warheads fitted into various delivery systems. Northern Lights would return to lesser projects.

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