Russian Federation, June 2045
The Kremlin, Moscow
"Mister President, Sir!" General Orlov whispered urgently as he stepped into the bedroom of Nikolai Abramovich Suvorov around 3 o'clock in the morning. "I am sorry to disturb you, but have to get up. There’s been an incident that requires your immediate attention." The President came to his senses surprisingly quickly and manoeuvred himself out of his elaborate canopy bed. "Alright, but do give me a moment of privacy to get ready", he grumbled while reaching for a dark grey shirt and black suit trousers which, perhaps a little suspiciously, laid folded on a nearby chair.
Moments later, Suvorov walked out of his room, sleek and stylish as usual despite his 60 years of age, and was immediately swarmed by his senior cabinet members and the military chiefs-of-staff. "We have received reports that our missile base in Kaliningrad was violently infiltrated by unknown assailants. The situation is still developing", explained Orlov while the group navigated through the lavishly adorned corridors of the Kremlin. The entire presidential residence was on high alert, with heavily armed guards posted at every corner. The Federation had fallen into turmoil after the loss of its vital African resources and the hunger crisis that ensued from the wildfires, forcing the once popular President to put a greater safety distance between himself and his people who were now rallying in protest. Elated by his early success in restoring Russia's economy, he quietly abolished the limit on successive terms and ruled for 17 years in which he won the hearts and minds of the Russian people through his justness, vision and strength of character. Now, the masses expected him to come up with a decisive solution to the perpetual crisis that threatened to throw the nation back into the horrible chaos of the 1990s...and their patience was wearing thin. "Damage assessment?" Suvorov inquired while glancing over to General Zhukov who was talking on his mobile phone. "There's been a prolonged firefight", the old General repeated the words of the base commander on the other side of the call. "A group of at least ten attackers was spotted within the perimeter and wiped out an entire platoon of ours before we pinned them down near the control centre. Our men are subduing the remaining stragglers as we speak."
The group entered an elevator which quickly descended into a reinforced command bunker deep underneath the Kremlin, down in the very heart of the secret secondary metro system under the Russian capital. "Attention, Comrades: The President!" exclaimed General Orlov whereupon the attending bunker crew members rose up and rendered a salute. "Sir! I just got word that we have defeated the attackers! Unfortunately, none of them was willing to surrender. We had to kill them all", Zhukov relayed. "Do we have any information on their identities? Who sent them?", Suvorov asked back. Zhukov raised his index finger, signalling the President to wait while carefully listening to the commander's report: "Sir......Judging by their equipment, insignia and eye-witness accounts...The attack was conducted by European special forces!"
The cabinet members and staff officers promptly broke into a frantic exchange of comments, the range of which included everything from shocked bewilderment to enraged profanities. But Suvorov remained collected: "Prepare a com-link to Yamantau in the situation room. I need to make a call; maximum encryption, no recording." Moments later, he disappeared into a nearby room with opaque windows, lit only by a large high-resolution screen at the head of a long table. "Greetings, Mister President!" the officer on the screen said in an almost offensively energised tone despite the ungodly earliness. For a second, Suvorov wondered whether this man ever slept. "Good morning...", he replied "General Aleksandr."
"I see you've just been informed of our little operation in Kaliningrad. I hope that my Troopers carried out their orders to your fullest satisfaction, yes?" the eccentric General and master scientist inquired. "Of course we tried to make it as exploitable as possible for you." The President nodded in heavy-hearted agreement. "You sure did. Although I wasn't expecting something quite as...graphic. In any case, you've created the believable impression that this was the work of the Europeans. I guess...I should thank you, even though the very thought of what you and I just did fills me with utter disgust. But after all the hardships and injustices that have plagued our nation over the last few years, our only remaining option -is- to go to war and finally provide a purpose for the fury of our people."
Suvorov was well aware that what he had green-lighted, a false flag operation against his own country, was clear-cut high-treason worthy of the most severe punishment. But having invested more than two decades of his own life, over twenty years worth of dedication and personal sacrifice for the sacred motherland, only to watch impotently as the work of his entire life fell apart in front of him bit by bit, who was he to make a decision that would not, in some way or another, entail either the risk of losing it all...or the chance of winning everything?
"So, Mister President...", Aleksandr asked with a tone of anticipation. "Are we now going to follow up on this as we've discussed?" Reluctantly, Suvorov approved. "We will commence today, at 16:16 Moscow time. And Nikita...I have pondered over this matter for a long time, but I have come to the conclusion that you'd be the most suitable man to coordinate the invasion. The moment you presented me with that prototype Tesla apparatus back in the day, I knew that we were very much alike: Two visionaries who'd given up everything, our youth, our hearts, our most human desires, for the creation of Novorossiya. But above all else, this choice is going to ensure that we two remain the only people under God who will ever know the truth about this...conflagration that we are about to unleash upon the world. Prepare the troops. I will assemble the Duma and inform the people. 'Plan Red' is now in effect!"
The Sentinel is the super-heavy tank of the Russian Federation. It has gone through several upgrades, always sporting the latest in technology the Motherland has to offer. The tank was first introduced while China and the US fought in the Global War On Terror but the old Mk.1 line never saw actual combat. The more successful Mk.2 version entered service with a wide range of exclusive protection and armament systems. As such, the Sentinel casts an iconic shadow that looms over the battlefield. Its immense barrel can fire battleship-calibre shells and its thick armor plating ensures that the tank will remain standing after all opposition is annihilated. The real mystery is the powersource of this behemoth, as it can keep functioning for extremely long periods of time without overheating. It is rumoured to run on a specially developed fuel that is both efficient and easy on the engine. A lone Sentinel is a rare sight on the battlefield due to the fact that merely the most seasoned Russian commanders have the clearance to field them in combat and even then only as part of an elite armor battalion deployed where the battle is thickest.
To help deal with anti-tank threats, the Arena defense system was made available to the Sentinel as well. The system fires a cartridge into the air that detonates and spews a spread of mercury and lead into incoming anti-tank munitions to intercept them before they can harm the Sentinel. It is advised however that footsoldiers that are foolish enough to venture near the tank while the Arena is firing will meet the most unfortunate end. Since the beginning of the Russo-European War, there have also been rumours of the so-called 'Black Bears'; the crew of a highly modifiable prototype Sentinel variant that unleashed havoc during lone wolf operations in at least two theaters of war. We have been unable to confirm the existence of this 'Sentinel Ace' at this time since both ECA and Federation spokesmen were unwilling to comment. In any case, the Sentinel reminds the Russian people of what makes them makes them a great nation: It is a very powerful, symbolic, pragmatic and practical approach to a super-heavy tank design.