It All Returns to Nothing
Extract from Interview with Hideaki Anno (2006)
: “To what extent did the events of April 10th 1996 influence the events of End of Evangelion?”
: “I don’t think there was a way that anyone, especially in Japan, couldn’t be influenced by what happened. The Japanese had always been particularly sensitive about nuclear weapons since 1945, so it was particularly hard for us to watch and experience. When we heard the sirens that day, millions of us thought we were going to die, or wish we were dead by the time we reemerged from the subways. As we hid in our shelters, we had images in our heads of fire and annihilation that was destroying all the places we had ever been or wanted to go to. The ‘Komm, Süsser Tod’ sequence was in large part my recollection of thoughts in the subway as I thought we were all going to die. Japan was a different country on the 11th, like everywhere else, even though we were lucky in how little we were directly impacted. We appreciated how easily we could all have died. And unfortunately, millions of people did die. I think that the Japanese, the nation of Hiroshima, have a particular closeness to the Russian diaspora because of this."
: "And you put those feelings into Evangelion?"
: "Yes, it had been the most nihilistic experience of all our lives. Evangelion was an exploration of my own feelings which were shared by millions of people around the planet about how anyone could mentally function in a post-April 10th world. On that day, we knew how close we were at any point in our life to total annihilation and death. The question that we all faced after that day was how we could go on? And by the end of the film, even as Shinji decides to return to the real world, even he doesn't know how he'll keep on going. No one did. And I still don't."
Extract from ‘A Continent of Fire’ by James Melfi
Once word got out that the Reds had launched a tactical nuclear strike, the bewildering confusion about what the hell the blast in Stalingrad was moot: it was now a nuclear war, whether Petrograd liked it or not. Planes were immediately sent into the air to launch Plan Zass before they could be caught on the ground: the annihilation of the Non-Slavs in Russia being more important than responding to the people attacking them with nukes. They were primarily located in Ilyan and Perm provinces, with swarms of nuclear bombers taking to the sky both north and south towards Komi and the Uralic states to begin the awful mission. The pilots had been rigidly indoctrinated to ensure their loyalty to the plan, with only the most virulent racists given the planes. Reportedly, in March, one pilot had to be physically restrained from stealing a plane to launch a lone wolf nuclear attack to kick start the race war, such was the fanaticism on display. There was no hope that any of the men enlisted would sway in their mission While further away, bomber fleets barrelled towards the Caucasus as well. Yakutia and Tuva were sent nuclear missiles, with the Reds likewise to be on the receiving end of a devastating nuclear decapitation, albeit a non-genocidal one. The ICBMs in Murmansk remained pointed at the West like a loaded gun to ward off any attempts to prevent the extermination. The first salvo of the first truly nuclear war was about to begin. 
Among the largest acts of destruction in this first nuclear hammer blow were the nuclear bombings of Sevastopol and Rostov on Don, the former of particular tragedy owing to it only being nuked due to its enthusiastic embrace of returning to Moscow’s orbit, only to see its annihilation. This was, of course, to wipe out the Black Sea Fleet and its accompanying nuclear arsenal, in which it was successful. The device exploded just off the coast, melting the ships of the Black Sea fleet before they were simply reduced to its atoms. The city was likewise blasted to shreds, with some 25% of the city dying in the initial blast. In one strike, most of the Black Sea Navy ceased to exist, something further compounded by the strike on Rostov, which wiped out 75% of ships in the Black Sea Fleet and likewise obliterated the city. At the same time, it failed to wipe out the submarines where many of the nuclear weapons resided, but the Fascists would find unlikely allies in the form of NATO, whose navies had been on full alert since the first nuke went off in Stalingrad. Their order was simple: wipe out every single Fascist and Communist submarine that could be carrying nuclear weapons. Mercifully, the technological gap that was already vast by the 80s had grown to astonishing proportions by the 90s, with all Russian submarines at sea having been consistently tracked by NATO. Once Clinton gave the order, these submarines immediately found themselves hurtling to the bottom of the Black and Arctic seas, many of the crew crushed from the pressure of the ocean’s titanic weight before they could even drown. Due to the quick action of primarily the US and Royal Navies, no NSF-affiliated submarines would be able to launch their nukes, saving literally millions of lives. By April 11th, all ships under the Fascist or Communist flag were either underwater or had ceased to exist.
Among other cities that were impacted by Fascist nuclear weapons were Samara, Voronezh, Krasnodar, Linetsk, Penza, Tambov, Kaluga, Astrakhan, and Sochi (big enough to obliterate both the defenders and attackers). Simferopol would be the largest Red city to not be hit in some way by a nuclear strike throughout the chaos, in part due to Ukrainian reluctance to target Crimea given that they would soon reclaim it. Most of the civilians had been caught by complete surprise due to the complete breakdown of communications caused by the explosion in Stalingrad, leading to not even an air raid warning being sent out to warn the population in many cities, with life and death sometimes a case of being slightly indoors at the right time. Stalingrad itself was given three further nuclear strikes, reducing the city to nothing even more thoroughly than Moscow. By any measure, Soviet Russia had been obliterated as a society and civilisation. Soviet Russia had been incinerated by nuclear weapons, only the weapons that killed them and their families were not the Americans’, but the very ones they had built by their own hands. These were just the major regions that got hit and is not a comprehensive list. Most of the hundreds of nuclear weapons launched were used against the various nuclear facilities run by the Reds, resulting in most of the Red Army’s thousands of nuclear warheads being caught on the ground. All in all, roughly five million were estimated to have been killed in the initial Fascist salvo, independent of the Nuclear Holocaust that was already in progress.
The Red response has fascinated philosophers and planners ever since as orders from Anpilov could not come in, therefore the decisions taken by the individual commanders. A significant portion (46%) of nuclear command posts who were determined to have had the time to respond did not appear to do so. Of course, there is a significant debate about how much of those were due to technical malfunction, but it appears a significant amount of nuclear commanders simply refused to use the weapons in question despite their inevitable demise. Of course, there was no way to stop the incoming weapons from killing the inhabitants of the bunker, but that so many refused to kill out of spite created various mental images within the Russian Diaspora and successor states about what the final discussions of those doomed operators would have sounded like, and why some decided to fire and some did not. Unfortunately, one of the ones that did decide to fire was the missile aimed at Petrograd.
Flying up from the Caucasus, the missile breezed through the Russian sky before slamming into the heart of Petrograd. The Hermitage, the Winter Palace and the Thunder Stone now existed not in shape, not in bricks, not even their dust remained. The Paris of the East vanished from the face of the Earth, alongside 650,000 people in the single deadliest blast in human history. Not among those casualties were most of the Petrograd Council, including Barkashov, Nevzorov, Dobrovolsky, Dugin and Shafarevich. They had all fled the city by plane with seconds to spare, as their escape plane’s engines had failed mid-flight given the shock of the blast and only barely found time to turn on again. Two more nukes would flatten the surrounding suburbs while one more would obliterate Vyborg just to the north. Moscow’s centre would, ironically, receive no nuclear strike as the zone was unliveable and it would be a wasted shot. However, two nukes did fall on the surrounding suburbs in Zelenograd and Lyubertsy. The other main victims of the Red atomic strikes were Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Vologda, Pskov, Tula, and Ryazan. Arkhangelsk and Murmansk were hit but both had already been hit by American nuclear weapons (albeit ones that minimised civilian targets by striking the ports while the Reds had hit the civilian centres on the basis it would cause the maximum confusion for the enemy). Naturally, a bevy of nuclear weapons struck the front line, obliterating entrenched Fascist positions that might have been exploitable if Red Army troops weren’t fleeing in all directions for their lives just as their Fascist enemies were. Nearly four million would die in the Red counterstrike. By the time the world’s counterstrike had begun, the Red Army as well as the various Fascist paramilitaries had ceased to exist as effective structures. No one could command their own legs let alone their soldiers. Privates and commanders, soldiers and civilians, villains and victims, parents and children spent the last moments of Russia’s existence as a civilization screaming and running in terror in all directions, many of whom would perish with it. As Russia’s final minutes approached, the question was whether the rest of the world would die with it. The fate of all existence hung in the balance.
Extract from ‘Averting Armageddon: The West in the Second Russian Civil War’, by Frank Wolfowitz
As the Red and Fascist missiles flew in all directions, the Allied Coalition began the most world-changing yet horrifying assignment they were ever cursed to conduct: a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Fascist and Communist Russia. The first American bomb exploded in hate since Nagasaki was a 6MT Hydrogen bomb that exploded over the stratosphere of Western Russia, a sight that could be seen as far as Kyiv while the locals ran for their lives down the leviathan of a tube system the city had. The attack scrambled radio waves, downed radar stations and silenced radios across both NSF successor states. An aurora lit the sky across Europe even in the day, a sight that could even be seen in Turkey, a sight many interpreted as divine involvement before the end of the world, further maddening the population. The first nukes that landed came from the Allied submarines in the Arctic and, much to the shock of Fascist planners in their final moments, from Belarus and Ukraine. The Fascists had, through British counterintelligence, assumed that Ukraine and Belarus only had cumbersome ICBMs and gravity bombs - nothing that could seriously threaten them. Then, at the crucial moment, fast-paced short-medium range nuclear missiles began to roar from their silos even as the trail of the missile that struck Sevastopol still lingered in the air. All across Western Russia, in Fascist and Communist zones alike, the nuclear missiles that lay in wait to annihilate Europe were caught on the ground.
While the Ukrainians and Belarussians did all they could to save their continent by dooming their neighbor, the Americans did everything they could to save their own continent from a nuclear strike by laying waste to the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk nuclear weapon fields. For the most part, they succeeded, crashing up through mountains of ice to fire volley after volley of nuclear missile strikes across Western Russia, perhaps the most cursed region in all the world. Despite the brutality of the operation, Clinton (and the other Western leaders) had demonstrably done their best to reduce casualties. Yet for all of the casualty reduction, the ultimate results were still brutal, with hundreds of thousands estimated to have died in the initial American assault in the north. While the Americans, British and French did their best to flatten the Fascists in the north, the Kazakhs (or more accurately the Chinese using the Kazakhs as a human shield) fired everything they had across the Communist rump (despite China recognising said state’s existence). The Red commanders, already overwhelmed by Fascist missile launches, were totally blindsided by the further assault, leading to the Reds, who had several thousand more nukes than the Fascists, being unable to get as much off. Meanwhile, Lebed would order his own nuclear stocks to fire just over the Urals into the Russian interior. As he would later recall, “I’m not proud of what I did, but I am proud that my being the one to make that decision stopped someone else from making that decision. Someone who’ll never have to have nightmares for the rest of his life, someone who’ll never have to question his decision for every waking moment, someone who’ll never have to look at the corpses and buildings smoldering together in what used to be the greatest country in the world and know he was the reason why those bodies burned. Somewhere, there’s a man who didn’t make that decision, and I took that burden for him. That does not make me happy, but it makes me at peace.”
Operation Allied Force was a near-flawless military operation, particularly for one that utilized the help of Kazakhstan and China. China had been in the bad books for their operation in Siberia, but once the threat of imminent nuclear war began to ring loudly following Anpilov’s threats, the Politburo was as needed by the West as the West was needed by the Politburo. The Chinese and the West, even China and Lebed scrambled together to try and avert an end to the planet, coordinating by phone to identify and destroy the entirety of the two Russia’s nuclear arsenals, collectively estimated at roughly 3,500 for the Fascists and 5,500 for the Communists by the CIA before the nukes started to fly. The Soviet figure of 30,000 or so at peak had been massively reduced due to the Soviet states taking over a third of the stock with them, compounded by all nuclear weapons east of the Urals being lost. This was a godsend to the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Taiwanese, Australians and New Zealanders, who would all be completely spared even an attempted nuclear attack. Further nukes had been lost by physical destruction to ensure they would not fall to advancing enemy forces in the civil war. And, of course, the elephant in the room was the unreliability of the missile systems themselves in such a setting. Even during the Soviet era, the missile system was already in decay by Gorbachev, something that accelerated to a terminal degree under Yeltsin, which became a prime location for theft. The nuclear arsenal was never expected to be used and was thus the most opaque part of the entire budget - a golden opportunity to rob the state given that no one expected the nukes, especially after the Cold War, to ever be used. This led to a budget that couldn’t sustain the nukes even on paper, something that was compounded by the desperate decisions necessary during the Civil War. Given that the only use for the nukes was the threat of their use, and given that the Cold War had come and gone without nukes, a naive feeling had permeated both tribes that the nukes would never be used in any case. As a result, the nuclear bases were essentially just the sight of day and night robberies. Recent estimates have determined that more than 25% of Russian missiles that got launch orders simply exploded or fizzled in the silos (nearly a third for the Communist nukes). Of the nukes that ever actually flew, roughly 20% either failed to explode while 6% veered wildly off target and blew up what essentially amounted to barren fields or even the open ocean. It was inevitable given the sheer scale of the Russian nuclear arsenal, however, that something would get through.
In the air, the now berserk Petrograd Council, seeing in horror that the West had joined the conflict ordered a total nuclear retaliation against the West. Roughly forty missiles managed to slip through the wall of nuclear fire, while NORAD reacted in horror as their slapdash defenses they had done everything they could to rebuild since 1994 were thrown into service to save the United States from the greatest destruction it had faced since the Civil War. But while NORAD and Clinton prepared for America’s Judgement Day, NATO forces sent their jets in at full speed from Finland, Lithuania, and Chechnya with one order: Destroy all Red and Nashi planes in Russia.
Extract from 'Ultimate Evil: Petrograd's Genocide' by Adrian Brown
From just outside Ilyangrad (formerly known as ‘Kirov’ and changed due to its new Fascist hosts), from all directions, flew the deadliest force ever assembled in human history. In order to not trigger Western retaliation, it was decided to not use missiles in the genocide to reduce the threat of the West misinterpreting the launch as one directed at them. A slow, methodical genocide of the Uralic states was the plan. A few planes flew north but the vast majority were turned south, towards Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia and all the rest. Just as the last plane was taking off from the airfield, a Red atomic bomb shattered the city, blasting the planes from the sky like they were swatted flies. Unfortunately, the deadly cargo continued their advance, the last few drops of fuel left in the Fascist armies that weren’t used in the Stalingrad advance having been kept in reserve for this moment. Their aim was to wipe the Uralic states and their people off the face of the Earth, ethnic Russians in those regions be damned - they lay with the racial enemy and would receive just punishment.
By the time the genocide began, Lebed had sent his MIGs into the sky from Chelyabinsk with the help of NATO guidance to find and destroy all Russian bombers. Chinese Migs in Kazakhstan began to move north as well on a collision course with Barkashov’s Airbourne Apocalypse. Komi however, was essentially unprotected and would receive the first atrocity. Hundreds of thousands of Russians had fled the Republic for Fascist Russia, leaving the indigenous ethnic Komi as an estimated narrow plurality by the time of the genocide, at roughly 300,000. Most of the remaining Russians were descendants of the gulag prisoners and consequently had no love of the Russian state in any form, and were consequently seen as just as irredeemable as the ‘racial enemies’ themselves. It was the first time in decades that the Komi had returned to their status as the largest ethnic group in their homeland, a victory that was now to be followed by its ultimate tragedy. Columns of nuclear bombers rolled through the sky like swarms of giant eagles, knowing full well that Komi had no air force to defend itself with. They had no military targets in mind, only lists of the largest civilian concentrations. Towns of mere 7,500 people were targeted for extermination for being within the top twenty largest civilian concentrations in the republic. The capital of Syktyvkar, a city of merely 200,000 was incinerated and stamped on by three separate nuclear explosions to ensure there would be as few survivors as possible (by 2000 only 8,000 residents of the city remained alive). As one of the very few survivors would recall, “It couldn’t have been true, but I remember seeing the sun itself blotted out by this wave of merciless, shadowed planes. I remember the whole city vanishing beneath mushroom clouds, the planes continuing their flight without swaying as if they hadn’t noticed the destruction.” Up the Republic rolled the wave of death, exterminating any proof that the Komi Republic ever existed, or that people ever lived there. Towns no one even in the Republic had heard of were destroyed in a wave of unimaginable extermination. Ukhta, Sosnogorsk, and any form of organised civilisation in the territory was gone in a mushroom cloud. By the time Vorkuta had been destroyed near the Arctic Circle, the mission had been complete: Nearly half of the population of the entire Komi Republic had been exterminated in nuclear flames in a single day. By the end of the year, the figure had risen to 70%, nearly 700,000. The planes were wiped from the sky in the coming hours by Lebed’s air force, but it would be no aid to the lives lost.
But it was the southern wing of the assault that would make April 10th 1996 the most infamous day in all of human history - the one-day genocide that surpassed even the Jewish Holocaust. Udmurtia was essentially ignored as most of the Udmurts themselves had moved into the interior of the Urallic states, a decision that only encouraged Barkashov to ensure there would be more casualties. Like a Satanic visitation, the bomber fleets began their extermination. Kazan, Ufa, Saransk, Cheboksary, Yoshkar-Ola, were removed from existence along with most of the helpless souls that lived there, some with multiple detonations. Large concentrations of refugee camps were deliberately targeted for no other reason than to maximise civilian casualties. Millions perished in the space of minutes, murdered by the people they had called comrades and countrymen most of their lives. Military fortifications that had assumed they would be hit were completely ignored for the nearby civilian targets to maximise the slaughter. By the end of 1996 due to the explosions and fallout, 2.3 million residents of Tatarstan were dead. Three million residents of Bashkortostan were dead. Six hundred thousand residents of Mordovia were dead. Eight hundred thousand residents of Chuvashia were dead. Three hundred and fifty thousand residents of Mari El were dead. Some 100,000 Udmurt refugees also died in the chaos. For the final run, the planes intended to destroy the camps and supplies in the Russian territory bordering Kazakhstan that the Uralic states took at the beginning of the conflict, especially Orenburg. There is even some speculation that the planes were heading further south to exterminate the Kazakh nation. Mercifully, owing to Siberian and Chinese planes, the bombers were shot out of the sky just before they could take out Orenburg - leading to bitter conspiratorial thinking that Lebed and the Chinese only cared about a Russian city like Orenburg and let the Uralic states be exterminated.
The remaining bombers flew south to the Caucasus to destroy the nations that began this implosion back in 1994, with the only missiles to be employed in the Zass Plan being sent to Yakutia. However, these missiles would prove either a failure or a mistake (from the perspective of wishing mass murder). The missiles to Yakutia would detonate in the five largest cities of the former republic, but there was almost no one there. The only people there were a handful of aid workers and military officials. It’s estimated that only 8,000 died in the entirety of the Yakutia strike, with the ethnic Russians living in the wilderness actually interpreting the event as proof that the shamans had been right about abandoning Western Civilisation, as those that returned to the cities were wiped out. This set the stage for Tengrism to be a serious and multi-racial religious belief system in Sakha, with Slavs abandoning their Russian identity for a pagan Yakut one. Meanwhile, the bombers to the Caucasus were set upon by the weight of the US Air Force and even several Israeli jets that were covertly operating near Turkey. Israel’s help in both establishing the independence of the Caucasian states as well as their help in preventing the genocidal bombers from reaching them would turn the Caucasus into the most Pro-Israel part of the entire Islamic world. With nuclear missiles flying in all directions in the air and the ground below already burning with atomic flame, American and Israeli jets managed to get past the escorts and obliterate the entirety of Barkshov’s demonic fleet. No Fascist nuke would fall on the Caucasian nations, though their forces near Sochi would be hit. Unfortunately, this did not stop the Reds from launching nukes of their own.
From all around the Northern Caucasus, while the world itself seemed to be coming to an end, roughly two dozen Red missiles managed to escape through the madness by commanders who decided to not die without dragging thousands and perhaps millions with them. In conjunction with the Fascist nukes that managed to slip out from Western Russia, there were now dozens of missiles that managed to slip through the net that the Western powers had made. The Fascists had primarily aimed for Northern Europe and the Americas while the Reds had primarily aimed for Southern Europe and the Middle East. Unlike America, the Europeans had very little defence once the missiles began raining down on them. Mercifully, the targets were not done to maximise civilian casualties as they had been in the Nuclear Holocaust. In total, the following targets in Europe and the Middle East were hit:
: Bordeaux, Calais
: Ramstein, Kiel
: Kemi, Utti, Upinniemi, Rovaniemi, Dragsvik.
: Shannon Airport
: Ramat David (the explosion shattering the windows at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth), Dimona
: Augusta, Lampedusa Island, Cagliari
: Baikonur, Kurchatov
: Lajes, Monte Real
: King Abdul Aziz Air Force Base
: Naval Station Rota
: Gotland Island
: Ekskisehir, Izmir
United Arab Emirates
: Jebel Ali base
: Gostomel Airport, Pobuzke nuclear base (it appears the country was mostly spared due to later plans to annex it and a religious belief among the Fascists that Kyiv was the birthplace of Russia)
: RAF Alconbury, Port Clyde, Northwood, Dover
So ended the nuclear attacks on Europe and the Middle East. All in all, it was a fraction of what was feared for when that terrible day would arrive, but the collective number of Western casualties had climbed into the six-figure range. It was a level none except those who remembered World War Two could even begin to compare. This would, of course, be only a fraction of the figures for Russia. Some nukes harmlessly fizzled on landing, sparing Naples, Odessa, and other cities from fates one wouldn’t even want to imagine.
Meanwhile, the few dozen nuclear missiles that had been fired at Canada and America continued their collision course. The ICBMs launched their warheads, totaled at 96 towards North America. NORAD tracked the warheads helplessly as they began to crest over the North Pole and back down to the Americas. The only way to stop them was on re-entry, but NORAD was ready for the final showdown. Multiple nuclear missiles were launched into the air from the American and Canadian side, their mission being to take the Russian missiles out by nuclear explosion before they land on American soil. Smaller Patriot missiles likewise did their best to save their country, practically blanketing the stratosphere in parts with mushroom clouds. To jubilation, the Russian missiles were swept one after another, and many after another from the sky. One missile predicted as being centred on New York was intercepted with seven seconds to spare. Thanks to this desperate work, only 21 of the original 96 warheads would land in the United States and Canada with only seventeen of those actually detonating, though that would be a scarce comfort for the victims and their families. The destroyed targets were:
: Halifax, CFB Edmonton, CFB Borden, CFB Kingston
: Anchorage, Fort Benning, Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, Fort Bliss, Fort Campbell, Fort Stewart, Fort Knox, Cheyenne NORAD base (twice), Camp David, White Sands Missile range, Rocky Flats Plant, Oak Ridge
So ended the nuclear exchange between Russia and the broader world. Kaliningrad, Siberia and the FEK had escaped with no injuries bar the imprudent attacks on Yakutia - partly due to the aversion to striking Russian territory and hopes of future deals that would never happen. All in all, roughly 1.3 million people living in non-Russian countries, overwhelmingly civilians, were killed that day, and the number would climb in the coming weeks and months. However, the death toll had been substantially reduced from what it could have been, with evacuation programs implemented by most Western nations saving thousands of children from perishing alongside their parents. No capitals had been hit outside Grozny (though London faced fires at its outskirts and Grozny itself had essentially been evacuated already), no heads of state were killed, Western armies were damaged but supreme. The Fascists and Communists and fired their best shots and come up wanting. The only thing left to do was destroy the final forces of the twin evils, and that was something the infuriated NATO ground and air forces intended to do.
Cesar ‘Rico’ Rodriguez became the first Flying Ace since the Vietnam War, and in style, because it was him who shot down the Petrograd Council’s plane over the skies of Northern Russia. The plane carrying Dugin, Barkashov, Nevzorov, Shafarevich and all the rest exploded over the skies of Vodlozersky National Park in the middle of nowhere. The largest body part recovered was a charred hand from Nevzorov, the rest having simply been reduced to ashes like the millions they had condemned to die. The location has since barred to the public due to survivors of the war going their on pilgrimage to throw faeces over the area the plane crashed as a final mark of disrespect. With the decapitation of Fascist forces, including General Rodionov after a nuclear device exploded over his head in Ilyangrad coming from Siberia, the two forces were collectively pounded into the dirt with all nuclear sites repeatedly struck from American, British, French, Belarussian, Ukrainian, Kazakh, Israeli, Siberian, and Baltic Sea Fleet nuclear weapons. Many were wasting nukes on the same target due to the chaos in communications and failure to coordinate, though it occasionally had the positive effect of accidentally knocking out wildfires. Finally, after hours of bombardment which eventually morphed to ‘merely’ conventional, the Russian nuclear arsenal was determined by NATO command to be destroyed.
By evening in Russia on April 10th, it was estimated that twenty-two million people who were alive the previous day were dead. April 10th had gone down as the deadliest day in human history, and a global day of mourning. Yet somehow the Second Russian Civil War was not over, as it was not incumbent on foreign forces to enter Western Russia and totally secure the ground. This was a nightmare due to the fallout but NATO had prepared for this contingency for years. By evening, from Finland, Lithuania, Ichkeria and Dagestan, Western forces began to roll into Western Russian territory, with the Baltic states, Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine all promising passage while rolling in the troops themselves. The latter nations had no protection but didn’t give a damn - they wouldn’t miss this event for all the world. Latvia and Estonia rolled into their previously stolen territories, while Ukraine rolled into Crimea. Lebed order his troops to life and demanded to go to the Uralic states to try and find survivors. The whole world, from Argentina to China, pledged peacekeeper troops and medical assistance to the shattered survivors. April 11th would have its very own challenges, and the question was whether the world was strong enough to face them.
Extract from 'One Soldier’s War in Russia' by Arkady Babchenko
I woke up, mangled on the floor beneath the rubble. It was the heat that awoke me, an already scorching heat that began to boil my toenails to their skin. I wrenched my leg up, tearing chunks from my flesh as it was pulled across the mortar and wood. As my deafness began to subside, I wished it hadn’t, as all I could hear were the agonized, pitiful wails of screaming. I looked around to the left and right to see what was happening. I saw one of my fellow inmates likewise pinned beneath the rubble. It was the first time I’d ever seen skin drip, drip
like water from a screaming face as the fire began to consume him. Seeing my inevitable fate if I continued to stay here, I clawed my way out of the rubble, so hopped up on my own adrenaline that I didn’t realise that I’d broken three ribs and an ankle. I stumbled to where I remembered the exit being, but all prior geographic knowledge of the camp had been thrown out the window. Solid walls had been knocked to the ground, doorways were crammed with rubble and burning bodies of wardens and prisoners alike. As I managed to leave the burning building just moments before it imploded and took its last remaining survivors with it, I looked up in desperate hope to see the sky and know i was free of the building. Instead, it was dark. It was the morning, but the sky was totally black, the sun blocked out by the demonic visitation of the mushroom cloud. Our camp was no more, neither was the ‘holding camp’ for the women just beside ours, nor even the nearby city itself. Everywhere, the ground was orange with flames and the sky was black with smoke.
My bowels gave way in maddened horror - this was the end. I had no idea that the West was mostly okay, that the East had survived intact - as far as I knew, the world was literally ending before my eyes. I didn’t know if my parents were dead before, but they were certainly dead now. Even my friends who were lucky enough to escape to the West couldn’t escape the atom bomb. I collapsed to the ground, crawling across the ground past wardens screaming in agony on the ground who were looking in the direction of the flash by sheer chance. I had no idea where I was going but my only desire was to get away, away from all of this. Stumbling with my shit-smeared legs, clutching my scars and wincing in pain, I interchangeably walked and crawled towards the entrance. If someone wanted to shoot me, they were entitled - we were all going to die now anyway. Instead, all the checkpoints were either destroyed or abandoned - I could see terrified Nashi troops running into the distance leaving everyone in the camps, including their comrades, to die. Some blindly ran in the direction of the minefields that had been constructed to stop us escaping, ignoring them simply due to having lost their minds at the sight of the end of days.
As I stepped outside the front gate while the barracks behind me burned to the ground, the reality struck me: what the hell was I escaping from? The world was finished. The world was over. There was nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. As Khrushchev had said, ‘The living would envy the dead’. I would be cursed to see the aftermath of the world. Already the idea of a bottle of vodka, a chocolate bar, Borscht made by your grandmother, warm Solyanka with your parents, a football match with your home team, a trip to the movies with your girl, kvass in the park with your friends - as if in one instance, I realised these things would never happen again. Not for me, not for my anyone - it was all taken from us by a brothel of scumbags in Petrograd and Stalingrad. So obsessed with bringing back the past that they destroyed the present and future. It was not the physical pain that brought me down, but my emotional collapse. There really was no point, not for anything. Just a few paces from the camp, I collapsed to my knees from pain and tiredness. In my weakness, I crumpled to the ground, the weight of my thoughts too heavy for even Atlas to carry. The screams faded as everyone slowly died, within minutes, I could hear nothing. Once I could hear nothing, I simply fell asleep.
I don’t know how much later it was when I awoke. The sky was as equally blocked from the plume of ashes and smoke from what used to be a city just beside us. The reason I awoke, however, was because of gunshots. Every ten seconds or so, I could hear a gunshot behind me inside the camp. I turned around, body wracked with agony as my adrenaline was exhausted. Inside the camp, I could see amidst the smoke haze someone walking up to some of the bodies and delivering pistol shots. Sometimes they stayed still in death, sometimes they were killed on the spot. After roughly a minute of this, the figure seemed to see me in the distance. He turned and walked to me at a leisurely pace. Walking past a final plume of toxic black plumes, his face was revealed to me. Of course, I should have guessed.
“C-Commissar?” I said, reminded of his aura whenever he held his pistol.
“There’s no need to call me that, Arkady,” he replied as he came up to me. “It would be prudent to conclude that there is neither a Petrograd or Stalingrad government left and thus I am without title.”
I looked at his pistol with an even blend of hope and fear.
“What are you doing with that?” I asked.
“Burn victims. They didn’t have long to live so I did the noble thing. Not that we have long to live either, it seems.”
As he said this, I heard a thunder from above. At first I feared another explosion, only to flinch as the first drop of black rain began to fall on my cheek. Soon we were both soaked in it.
“Is this rain radioactive?” I asked.
“Everything around here probably is,” Vladimir replied. “Of course, there probably aren’t many places in the world that aren’t right now. The same is probably true for New York and London too. Nothing but ashes, rubble and nuclear fallout”
“God almighty,” I replied. “There really is nothing.”
“Nothing,” agreed Vladimir. “But at the very least, Arkady, I was grateful to see you again one last time, given that there’s no more Russia.”
The nuance of that reply confused and threatened me.
“Wh-what do you mean?”
He raised his pistol to my face. Of course, this is how I always expected I would go. It was only normal, it was only fair that I would die too. Why was I special? I didn’t object, nor was I surprised as the barrel was aimed at my head.
Then I was surprised. Suddenly, Vladimir smiled, the first time I’d ever seen him do such a thing. Then he pulled his arm back and put the pistol to his own temple, though his smile didn’t change.
“What’s the point of living in a world where Russia’s not in it?”
He would have lived just long enough to hear my cry - I sometimes wonder if it made him flinch in his final milliseconds of life. But as my commissar collapsed to the ground before me, and my ears rang with the shot, the only person who had stuck with me on this entire hellish journey now came to the same end as millions of others that day. As my ears slowly began to return to normal, the silence that remained chilled my shattered bones, because the silence was the silence of death, the death of millions. Vladimir was dead. The wardens were dead. The inmates were dead. The wardens in the camp near us were dead. The women in the camp near us were dead. The children in the camp near us were dead. The city was dead. The birds were dead. The country was dead. The world was dead.
Everyone was dead. 
 - My account of the nuclear stage of this conflict was inspired by Giobastia's Able Archer TL which appeared to me to be a relatively plausible case of a survivable nuclear war TL and I want to give them full credit - they appear unreachable but I wish them well. https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...timeline-of-a-third-world-war-in-1983.279881/
 - This is a misquote of one of the most chilling extracts from his OTL Chechnya book about piles of corpses that he sees, to an identical reaction.