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User:Eirik/...And the Universe Fell

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...And the Universe Fell

Author: Eirik

In the final analysis, you could blame it all on the French.

July 2, 1999.

It was the day that many had hoped and prayed for. The day the bloody Iraqi government fell in a violent coup d'etat. The battered and bloody body of the former government officials were dragged unceremoniously through the streets of the cities. A promise of a more peaceful future was beamed to the world.

The government that took over was weak at best and collapsed inside of a week. In the power vacuum that ensued, the generals and colonels of the former Iraqi military took their troops and began forming strongholds inside Iraq. Each faction looking to take control of the whole pie but unable and unwilling to work together.

It was an irresistible target for Iran. A deep desire to take over the region and convert it to their own had led to the slow, steady and quiet build-up of military machinery since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's. The leadership had watched the what happened with Iraq's ill trained and ill equipped soldiers during the Persian Gulf War, and had poured billions into bringing their army to true readiness.

So, it was on August 19, 1999 that Iran made her move. The plan was simple: Use the German concept of the blitzkrieg to roll over everything they could. Surge through Iraq unopposed by a cohesive military and split into three major groups: One going south, through Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and ending up in Yemen, one going east to Israel and into Egypt and one north-west into Turkey.

The plan was simple, really far too simple. It hinged on too many factors to work out exactly as planned. Yet despite that they nearly did it. If the Iraqi factions hadn't put up the resistance that they did, Iran may indeed have managed to take most of their objectives before the west and her Arab neighbors could have responded.

If anyone had known better, though, they would have let them.

Iran's crack troops took a beating from pockets of resistance. Delayed by the surprisingly fierce soldiers, the allied powers were able to assemble weapons of war in the mountains of northern Iraq, the banks of the Euphrates River and the outskirts of Jordan's capital.

The Battle of the Euphrates. That's the battle that world would really have remembered. A massive column of Iranian tanks, supported by thousands of infantry, APC's and trucks, rolling at a near breakneck speed across the desert toward a tiny forward defensive force. Twelve American M1-Abrams tanks, about two hundred Marines, five MRLS launchers, an obsolete Patriot missile battery, a handful of British and French helicopters, and lastly a new French weapon.

It had been dubbed "Dragon". They had been developing it for years in total secret. It resembled a mobile artillery piece and used a bizarre combination of lasers, acoustical waves and electromagnetic pulses generated from newly discovered radioactive elements to create a long range emission of extreme heat and disruption. A single pulse, completely silent beyond a few feet, could literally melt a hole though modern armor slightly oval in shape and the size of a mans palm. Even better, it had a range more than five times that of a standard tank round. The primary disadvantage was that it was line of sight. The gunner had to actually see the target in order to fire.

The French had built a total of fifty units and were forced by circumstance to put it to the full test in battle. This tiny holding force contained the largest contingent deployed, thirty Dragons, all in a small line protected by a rocky outcropping.

The helicopters were the first to go. The handful of battle ready choppers had flow over the Iranian divisions and started a free for all fire fight like the world had never seen and would never see again. It was the most target rich environment any of these pilots had ever seen. Those pilots fought well, but the Iranian troops were simply too numerous. Only three helicopters survived.

The cloud of dust and sand kicked up by the inbound tanks and trucks continued to draw closer as the MRLS missiles began to fly forth onto the yet unseen enemy. Soon even their pounding firepower was depleted and the launchers were ordered to withdraw.

The wave of tanks crested the top of a low hill just outside the extreme range of the French Dragon. It was a sight that none there would ever. It looked like a carpet of ants from one end of the hills to the other. A minute passed, two, three. The French commanders were waiting for more Iranian vehicles to enter range. Then, while the enemy was still far outside their own firing range, the French opened up.

It's doubtful that any of the Iranians realized what was going on. Their tanks began lighting up all over the place. Unlike most conventional weapons, a Dragon needed no time to reload and only a few moments to recharge. It was able to fire nearly as fast as a new target could be acquired. The heat from the beam was enough to set off ammunition and fuel, all without a flash to give away the Dragons position.

The Iranian commanders didn't know what to do. They probably thought they had blundered into a mine field and so ordered a halt. But even stopped their tanks and trucks continued to explode around them. The columns became badly disorganized as the hope of forward progression as well as retreat became blocked with burning hulks and exploding ammunition.

The French simply kept firing.

It went on for only a few minutes, enough time for the thirty Dragons to register two hundred kills, before it happened. Something that no one had expected. Something that hadn't been tested.

Seven French gunners all sighted the same thing, an armored personal carrier outfitted subtly with additional antennas and equipment. A vehicle converted for long distance electronic recon and communications jamming. The seven gunners, each firing at will, all let loose at this same modified APC within a split second of each other. The seven beams converged in the electromagnetic field around this single vehicle.

In that instant, the battle ended.

The battlefield became instantly still. Nothing electronic worked for a few seconds for a thirty mile radius. The only people who would ever know what happened couldn't believe their eyes as it did.

For those seconds, and only over the Iranian positions nearly four miles away, it got dark. Not like a shadow from a cloud, but a bubble of pure darkness which extended towards the defenders as close as a quarter mile before it halted itself.. A piercing sound could be heard from inside the bubble. Not really a scream, but a long wail. Thousands of human voices screaming out in pain and terror, clearly heard despite the distance.

Then, the darkness vanished into light. Everyone in the allied defensive line looked out across the plain and saw the massive Iranian formation still there, but silent. The tanks which had been burning only a moment before were now charred hulks, not even trailing wisps of smoke. The dust, which had so dominated the sky, had settled. A quick check of sensors could detect no communication activity, no electronic activity, no active IR signatures, no radar activity. Only a slight breeze, blowing over the allies toward the silent invaders, made any sound.

An American commander decided to investigate. Showing some caution, he ordered all troops into chemical weapons gear, and took five M1-A tanks forward. Each kept weapons at the ready, in case this bizarre behavior was some kind of trick. But somehow, they all knew that it wasn't.

The small cluster of tanks came first upon a group of five APC's, one of which had been destroyed by a shot from a Dragon. Some of the Marines dismounted their tanks to investigate.

The first soldier they found had been standing behind one of the vehicles when he died. His skull, glistening white, lay face down on the sand. His once tan uniform was soaked in a mixture of colors, dominated by red. A stream of thick fluid ran down the slight hill over the sand, looking like a mixture of red, gray, yellow and brown paint.

One of the men noticed a similar liquid dripping from the rear access door of the nearby APC. Guns at the ready, they pulled it open. Some of the skeletons were still sitting in their seats, others had fallen to the floor into a pool of the same heavy paint they had seen outside. As the door came open, it drained out onto the desert floor. It wasn't blood, it didn't congeal. There were no bits of flesh, it had a perfectly smooth consistency. Somehow, it didn't seem to stick to the skeletons. The exposed bones were all pure white.

The stench when the carrier opened was unimaginable. Despite their protective gear, they swayed when it hit their nostrils. None of them could describe it. It was a horribly sweet smell mixed with the stench of death and decay, with a bit of burning plastic and rotten meat. It was the stench of hell.

When the commander smelled it, he ordered his men back into the tanks and returned to their positions. All the way, frantically relating what he had seen in disjointed phrases to the command center in Kuwait City. Despite orders to continue his investigation, the commander ordered his men to withdraw from the area.

Almost three hours passed from the moment that the bubble had enveloped the invading troops. The small defensive force had taken only an hour to investigate, and only moment to fall back. They had taken new positions several miles back, but were still the only ones alive to witness the tear.

The French Dragon had ripped a small hole in the fabric of time. The original burst, the one that had ripped apart the enemy soldiers, had simply been the initial explosion. Like a firecracker set off on a pile of newspaper, it had burst forth in an instant, smoldered quietly for a moment, and then slowly caught fire again.

The American, French and British troops watched in awe as the azure sky seemed to fold in on itself, creating a spot of pure violet in the sky surrounded by a total absence of color. The spot seemed to hover for a moment, and then began to expand. Slowly at first, and then exponentially. It took only moments for it to expand over the troops, and seconds for it to expand to the size of the solar system.

What happened next was the single most significant event in the history of the planet. The fabric of time was wrinkled. The past and present began to blur.

Everything came to a halt. There wasn't a soul alive, be it human or animal, who didn't see the violet light surrounding them and yet casting no shadows. Those asleep woke. It lasted a minute, maybe a little more, and was gone.

People looked at each other on every street corner all over the world. Each person asked, "What was that?". Even the small number of men and women who knew where it had all started couldn't explain it, though. The world held it's collective breath hoping that there was nothing to worry about.

They were wrong.

Then people began to notice the alteration, the devolution. It was hard to detect at first, the changes subtle and seemingly minor. People grew more hair all over their bodies, foreheads seem to thicken as millions lost their posture and hunched over. Confusion could have reigned, but the world was still in the grip of that immense, pregnant pause.

Perhaps only a few thousand the world over recognized immediately what was happening, even if they didn't know why. Paleontologists, both amateur and professional, watched themselves pass through the familiar forms found in biology textbooks. Then they passed through the less familiar stages. Every human, animal and plant began to follow that trail backwards through time.

Every species of life on earth has a single, unbroken chain of ancestors to follow back on. Ancestors long forgotten, long gone. Shortly and briefly they began to reappear and vanish. Some animals and plants managed to survive, ever so briefly, without alteration. Sharks and alligators were but a few of the animals virtually unchanged for millions, even hundreds of millions, of years. But it wasn't long before they found themselves being forced back into time.

This trip down Darwin's memory lane was unstoppable and universal. Forests devolved in smooth progression, flowers vanished and for a time, the gymnosperm was the dominate plant again, and some dinosaurs again ruled the earth.

But unlike the previous reign, this one lasted only a few moments as the few dinos vanished back to their own ancestors, and the plants became more simple. Billions of life forms began to die at they devolved into water forms, too far from the sea. In many ways, it was more merciful than what happened to the survivors in the water. Not long after, even the few plants and animals left on the land fell behind time and died.

By then, any trace of human civilization was already gone.

But Mother Nature was not finished with her vengeance. The seas passed back though the geological epochs in minutes. Soon, not an animal on earth contained a bone, then cartilage, then a notochord. The brief explosion of the Cambrian era that had led to so much diversity worked in reverse as the sheer number of species on earth lessened. Animals and plants suddenly found brothers among species that no one would ever have suspected were related. Life on Earth continued to fall until it was little more than a collection of cells, and then single cells, and then primitive bacteria.

And then it was gone.

As the planet returned to a new primordial ooze, the backward spiral of time corrected itself and once again started forward at it's normal, slow rate.

Free to try again.