Russian High Command HQ, Berlin
Mere minutes after General Aleksandr received the news of the European nuclear attacks from Colonel Pushkin, he donned his trademark jumpsuit, put on his gasmask and quickly rehearsed a rallying speech for the Shock Divisions. In the meantime, his troops were called to assemble in front of the command centre for the special announcement that would, in one way or another, have a major impact on the General's role within the Russian war effort. Moments later, the loudspeakers were primed, the men stood waiting and their mighty leader stepped forth on the balcony, flanked by two enormous screens that lit up with the looming image of his mask.
"My fellow comrades. I stand here to inform you of grave news from the frontline. On this day, our wretched enemies have crossed the point from which there is no return: In a desperate attempt to delay our inevitable triumph in France, they have launched a massed volley of nuclear warheads and killed thousands upon thousands of our fighting countrymen in the most vile and cowardly fashion imaginable. This is no longer war. This is cold-blooded murder. Until now, the war has been conducted with honour, bravery, for the ideals of truth and justice and in the best traditions of mankind - until - this - moment. My brothers...The endless catalogue of bestial foreign atrocities which will inevitably ensue from this appalling act must, can and will be terminated! The forces of darkness and the treasonable maggots who collaborate with them must, can and will be wiped from the face of the Earth! We must break them! We must crush them! We must eradicate them all! We, as the proudest, most vigilant defenders of our sacred Motherland, will not rest until the final victory has been achieved. Death...to the eternal enemy of Mother Russia. Death - Death - DEATH!!!"
The rest of Aleksandr's speech was drowned out by a chorus of mad, fanatical chants that sounded all the way through central Berlin like a hellish cult ritual, scaring the residents into submission even though they could not understand a single word. The scene was eerie, the air burning with a wild, primal hatred that manifested itself in ever-renewing waves of ferocious exhaltations: "Kill them all!", "Peace through power!" and "All hail Aleksandr!" were among the more prominent bits that the General could make out from the uproar. He enjoyed the scene for several minutes, revelling in the moment. Then, he slowly raised his hands as if to conclude the twisted ceremony with an ungodly blessing. Suddenly, a glorious fanfare of trumpets blared through the base's loudspeakers. Within an instant, the wild crowd went silent, came to attention and the fanfare was followed by the official battle anthem of the Shock Divisions, with all attendants joining their voices in a passionate, unified chorus:
shock wave after shock wave.
Blood and glory await us.
Our leader gave the order - and off we go!
Our black banners flying in the wind,
towards the battlefield.
Camp life made us friends
with you, Aleksandr.
Together, we charged into battle.
The enemy recalls with anguish
our triumph at Kurmuk,
where eagle and dragon fell.
For victory, for victory
Day and night we'll be fighting,
crossing blades with blades.
And the rain will not wash away,
on the mound and in the trench,
the blood of brothers and warriors!"
The Hague, a few days later
General Leonid Zhukov was an old, weary man. Alcoholism had long gotten the best of him and his lauded military victories during the Ukrainian crisis of 2036 had since been forgotten, as were his warnings during the lead-up to the invasion of Europe. Decimated during the costly battle against the war machine of General Willem van der Meer and the failed invasion of the United Kingdom, his proud 20th Army had been relegated to the sidelines of the conflict while the ruthless careerist Aleksandr and his brutal Shock Divisions claimed every victory that would rightfully belong to the actual Russian Army for themselves. Thus, it came as a big surprise to Zhukov when a messenger entered his headquarters in the Binnenhof, the abandoned Dutch parliament building that day and presented him with a personal letter from the highest authority:
The Eurocopter Tiger was first conceived as a joint venture between France and West Germany in the early 1980s. However, when the new helicopter started to see action during NATO operations in Afghanistan, a series of problems became apparent: The German UHT variant was designed as a missile-armed support helicopter for use against Soviet era tank armies and had to make do with a static 12.7mm gunpod rather than a proper autocannon turret, making it unsuitable for counter-insurgency operations. In addition, the wiring in these early models was flawed, forcing the Tigers to remain on the ground for most of the time. Whilst the French HAP variant fared better in combat and was used as the basis for additional export versions, the German Tigers would not receive the necessary upgrades for years due to a general neglect of military matters by the government and thus delivered an abysmal performance during the GLA's incursion into Central Europe in 2028. After the civilian governments of Europe had collapsed in the wake of the attack, the Bundeswehr assumed temporary control of Germany and proceeded to develop a new version to iron out these critical flaws: Commonly dubbed the 'Koenigstiger' by the Germans, the updated model was armed with two chin-mounted, high-capacity rocket pods linked to the pilot's HUD that could be aimed in the same way as a turret, allowing the Tiger to lay down a deadly accurate barrage of high-explosive/armour-piercing rockets in addition to taking on flying targets with Starstreak anti-air missiles. Further adding to the gunship's versatility, it is also able to deploy the Icarus baloon mine to lock down down the airspace above an area of operations. The new Tiger showed its superiority during Operation Nemesis and was soon adopted by both the ECA and, somewhat ironically, the French Army as well.
Named after a Slavonian infantry force from the 18th century, the Pandur III is the third generation of the eponymous family of wheeled combat vehicles in service of the Austrian Bundesheer. Whilst originally designed as an armoured personnel carrier, the European Continental Alliance has decided to fill this particular role with the Swedish-made Lynx Bandvagn, choosing the heavy weapons carrier variant of the highly versatile Pandur as its standard infantry fighting vehicle instead. As such, the ECA Pandur omits its troop carrying capabilities in favour of additional storage space for a variety of heavy weapons that can be installed on the turret and operated by a dedicated specialist infantryman ordered into the vehicle. These include a 20mm auto-cannon, a self-loading, four-barrelled set of Panzerfausts, a rapid-firing grenade machine gun, an extendable repair arm, medical supplies and a short-barrelled canister gun. Its steel-encased polymer armour protects the Pandur against smallarms fire and keeps it light enough to fully utilise the mobility of its six wheels, making it a useful addition to any mechanised force. Oddly enough for a vehicle originating from a landlocked country, the Pandur is also equipped with inflatable rubber skirts to traverse stretches of water, such as the Danube river that runs through northern Austria.
There's still a few days to go until Christmas, but you'll be getting some of your presents early this year, starting tomorrow, one box every day!