3 of 6 | Chapter 17

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The moment arrived when each of the floating bases was moved to its place, and it was an enormous feat, regardless of how other events had been shaping up thus far. The entire planet had been divided into a total of ten military zones with five equidistant sites in each hemisphere. They were positioned at every 72th longitude.

ASEC was autocratic in this matter and brooked no opposition. They received varied responses as they advised national authorities of the platforms' movements. The affected nations either expressed their disapproval diplomatically, or took action against the violation of their sovereign airspace through global organizations, and some even threatened violent retaliation.

The fact remained, however, from mid-May the small city size platforms were elevated into the upper air and moved slowly across the planet to take their places. The enforcement pole final positions were carefully aligned along the 40th latitude in both the north and south until nearly all of the positions were lying over ocean areas, with one exception.

The first platform was placed slightly to the west of Italy above the Mediterranean Sea, then the next one 5960 kilometers away along the eastern coast of the US, and the following two platforms were positioned the same distances apart over two points above the North Pacific.

And finally, the fifth. China enjoyed special attention in the northern hemisphere, so an enforcement pole was to be positioned over the western edge of the country, where—because of its proximity to the Middle Eastern region—it provided strong security to the whole area, giving it immense significance.

The positioning of an enforcement pole over China did not, however, remain unanswered.

 

Fifth Northern Pole

Once admired and feared, with its ancient legends, spectacular geographical features and its vast history that alone made it one of the world's greatest civilizations. Architecture that caught the eye and touched the soul, fine art that had evolved over centuries, literature and scientific learning that stretched back into the depths of time all made it a cultural icon. All of these evocative, yet remote and embellished images trickled down through generations of empire managed by dynasties that were far from free of war and strife.

Where long ago, various branches of the arts had flourished, where the traditions, faith and fortitude had lived embodied through the ages, it was difficult to come to terms with the fact that such a rich and ancient culture had left such a faint imprint on the present.

*

China's form of governance had been converted back to a democracy during Peng Wan's presidency and displayed more confidence on the international stage, having built a market economy that wished to open new doors to other nations. As a result of his actions many things continued along the route that he had highlighted, and the country seemed to irretrievably break away from its semi-communist history. It was a very logical step, as the world's second-largest economy was stable in a free market competitive environment, besides it also proved to be a good trade partner.

However, the crisis at the beginning of the third millennium with its continuing shock waves forced many countries to their knees, something that even China's strong economy was beginning to feel. Following the death of his predecessor, Zhiqiang Gao, who took his place under the shadow of future storm clouds, was one who remained a believer in the ‘traditions’ of the old system, and started his tenure with introspective and restrictive measures. The effects were not felt immediately, but the Chinese people, now used to Western freedom of speech and movement, considered every new harsh rule as a patronizing infringement of their rights.

President Zhiqiang Gao's popularity was also heavily damaged when he initiated a nuclear missile attack against Russian cities, despite the fact that he continued to explain his actions as homeland defense. China's economy and military strength had so far spared him from the wrath of the global community, but with that, there was only one problem. Apart from his political muscle, nothing else held him in place.

However, there was always a more powerful force.

*

In the morning, the fifth platform arrived on the coast of Japan from the east, where it slowed and then stopped. Awaiting the order to resume its journey it floated, like a huge island basking in the sun, and from the shore it looked like a blurry, grey cloud. Within a short time, not only did schools of fish find refuge in its shadow, but the sight had also attracted dozens of ships. Anyone who viewed it from underneath felt as if a whole city hovered above them. The smooth surface revealed little to casual observers, sometimes just a line or strip could be made out, but then quickly disappeared into the distant haze. The only place where details became apparent were the bumps along the edges of the platform where a total of six, five meter wide DCG drivers worked hard to keep the platform elevated. The launch of the gravity orbs had been supervised by Steersman himself in the factory. The preparations had taken weeks, but the end result was a drive that was one hundred thousand times stronger than the original drive.

The base platform remained in place until the divisions—that had been assigned to that zone—arrived.

 

Confrontation

A few hours later, corps units took off from the factories in Odessa. They started their global positioning exercise in reverse order with the fifth LRT division being deployed first, heading east towards China.

ASEC officially presented the defense corps on the first of June, 2079. The announcement was a mere formality, an official declaration of what everyone had already suspected. With it, they cleared up misunderstandings and dispelled many of the rumors that had been flying around.

The organization had chosen to represent itself, not as a classic strategic offensive force, but as Oliver Trenerry's team outlined, a force focused on conserving the Earth's natural balance, a force for which the main directive was to protect the natural environment from human and non-terrestrial threats, as well as natural disasters.

This included the endless wars that humanity engaged in, and meant that henceforth no nation would be able to possess the means with which to oppose the ASEC NLE program. To validate this course of action in the case of any such opposition, a defense corps known as the IRD Black Army would be used.

The priority of the NLE program was decommissioning all undesirable military assets, consisting primarily of weapons of mass destruction, followed by long-range ballistics, and then high explosives, and so on, down the chain of military weapons systems used for killing.

However, the NLE program did not affect all national armed forces assets, but was based on a penal system of statutes listing all harmful activities, whereby those who were involved in harmful activities were deported thousands of kilometers from civilization. The guilty individual or group was trans-located as they were caught, regardless of whether or not they were equipped or properly attired.

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH