Chapter 1: Two Worlds, Same Old Day

"The fundamental mission of the tank platoon is to close with and destroy the enemy. The platoon's ability to move, shoot, communicate, and provide armored protection is a decisive factor on the modern battlefield. It moves, attacks, defends, and performs other essential tasks to support the company team or troop mission. In accomplishing its assigned missions, the platoon uses fire, maneuver, and shock effect, synchronized with other maneuver elements and with combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) assets. When properly supported, it is capable of conducting sustained operations against any sophisticated threat.

The tank platoon can survive and win in battle, however, only if it is well trained, effectively led, and highly motivated. Crews must be aggressive, and their tactics must reflect the tempo and intensity of maneuver warfare. Platoon training must prepare them to operate in hostile territory with the enemy to their front, flanks, and rear."

-Mission of the Tank Platoon

BERLIN, FRANKFURT GERMANY 20XX

The constant thuds of cannon fire and chatter of machine guns echoed across a war-torn city as a heavy firefight continued. Both aggressor and defender were evenly matched and neither was giving an inch.

Helicopter gunships hovered above destroyed buildings like angry wasps, ready to unleash a deadly payload on anyone foolish enough to expose themselves for too long. Only when the opportunity presented itself, however. If they flew too high they risked being swatted by hostile jets screaming in the skies above.

Deep in the city below, two M1A2 Abrams tanks continued to push through ruined streets as they continued their mission: Secure a zone in the park in the center of the city and hunker down for reinforcements.

An easy task was it not for the fact they were the last surviving members of their company. The tanks' turbine engines whined as they came to a halt at the end of a small street just ahead of the park. The lead tank's squat, angular turret rapidly traversed left and right as it searched for potential targets. Inside the vehicles, the two tank commanders, Jasper Kincaid and Tyrrel Wilkes began drafting a plan of attack.

"Wilkes cover my six, I'm gonna go down the central avenue of approach. They still have multiple KA52s and I'm pretty sure there's a fucking Leo 2a6 or two still in play so watch my ass."

"Bruh, relax. We got this shit in the bag, I got MPAT loaded. You know I aim to please."

"Not the helicopters I'm worried about. You know the Kamovs ain't shit without the Vikhrs. It's the Krauts I'm afraid of, persistent shits."

The lead tank stopped traversing and its engine began to increase in pitch as the transmission shifted to drive.

"Alright, I'm pushing. Here goes!"

The lead tank picked up speed and zipped off over an old cobblestone road. The heavy vehicle cruised around the carcasses of its fallen teammates and picked up its scan as it searched for more targets. In an urban fight, the enemy could be anywhere.

Suddenly, a large olive drab shape caught the corner of Kincaid's eye. "Hostile tank, three o'clock my relative!" Kincaid slammed on the brakes and brought his tank's gun over to engage the threat. A Leopard 2a6, the pinnacle of German tank design and the latest in the Leopard family of tanks. The German tank's turbo diesel roared as it came out from within the heavily wood park. The Leopard 2 angled its hull and directed its arrow-shaped turret at Kincaid's tank. Anything less than a perfect shot on the hull would spell doom for Kincaid, fortunately, he was no stranger to fighting German armor.

Kincaid immediately directed his tank's gun towards the front right of the German's hull and sent an M829a2 Sabot dart screaming into the vehicle. A sharp CLANG rang out and in moments a conflagration could be seen through the settling gun debris.

A direct hit on the ammo, the crew was nothing but four crispy critters in a hot box now. Pillars of Fire erupted out of the top and turret underside of the tank as the vehicle lit up like a funeral pyre. Free of the hostile threat Kincaid was clear to push into the woods.

"Good fuckin' kill my guy!" Wilkes yelled into Kincaid's earpiece. "Should only be one more Leopard now, we bag his ass and we gu-gu-gu-gu-gu-"

Kincaid raised an eyebrow and looked around as his wingman's voice repeated over and over. A radio issue perhaps? Kincaid shrugged and pushed ahead, only to stop dead in his tracks as he saw a dark shadow loom over his vehicle.

Wilke's tank. The Abrams was flying up and into the air as if gravity had been turned off. His vehicle wasn't the only one suffering an issue and soon the entire city was covered in flying vehicles.

Helicopters crashed in from the skies above and bounced off the ground like Rabbits. Jets flew through buildings and terrain like ghosts materializing through walls. Then, just above Kincaid's eyes, a big red message flashed in bold.

"PACKET LOSS DETECTED."


1400 HOURS SECOND TANK BATTALION BARRACKS CAMP LEJUENE NORTH CAROLINA

"Oh for fucks sake!" Corporal Jasper Kincaid slammed a fist on his wall locker's desk as his computer screen faded to black. The sudden and violent impact nearly sent an expensive anime figure toppling off the side, but fortunately, Kincaid was quick to snatch it midair. He returned the merchandise to its proper place grumbling all the while. "Stupid Russian piece of shit tank game."

The U.S. Marine leaned back in his desk chair and groaned before reaching for a half-empty energy drink on his desk. He brought the can to his lips with a grimace as the lukewarm cough syrup taste hit his taste buds.

Across the freshly cleaned barracks room and adjacent to his setup Kincaid's roommate, Lance Corporal Wilkes, grunted as he leaned back in his chair. The heavyset black male brought a meaty hand up to his bald head and gave it a couple of scratches.

"Yo, we gotta get better internet for the room. That's the fourth goddamn match this week that we got disconnected."

Kincaid finished his beverage and chucked the can into a waste bin near the bottom of his wall locker. "Yeah, I know. Well, whenever you want to chip in for a better router and modem you let me know."

"Boy." Wilkes brought his hands together into an exaggerated clap. "You know I be out here stackin' paper." The Marine reached into the cargo pockets of his woodland MARPAT trousers and produced a couple of crumpled dollar bills. "Cash money dolphins, we out here."

Seeing his roommate's goofy smile Kincaid rolled his eyes from behind fogged-up glasses "Uh-huh." He fished through his own cargo pockets for a pack of smokes and got up on his feet. "That's why I got all the cleaning supplies for yesterday's field day. Oh and cleaned half the damn room too."

"At least I don't blow cash on strip clubs-wait." Wilkes put a hand under his chin in contemplation. "Nevermind yeah I do too, fuck me."

"No shit and I drive your drunk ass back every time." Kincaid responded solemnly.

"Thank you boo!" Wilkes replied with a smile before getting up as well, eyeing the pack of smokes that were now in Kincaid's hand. "Say speakin' of which-"

"Yeah yeah fine, I got you. Let's go."

Kincaid put a cigarette into his mouth and shook his head as he made his way past his roommate and out the door into the humid North Carolina air. The two Marines walked onto a concrete catwalk and leaned against a steel railing as they both lit up their cigarettes.

Across the street and separated by a large parking lot the pair watched as the hustle and bustle of base life continued. Long lines of cars rushed down narrow roads and formed traffic jams as Marines prepared to go home. Throughout the barracks music of varying genres poured out of other rooms as off-duty Marines got hyped for the weekend ahead.

Not just any weekend though, a 96 hour pass weekend. This meant nobody was coming back until four days were up. A rare blessing in such hectic times. Not all Marines were leaving though and plenty such as Kincaid and Wilkes were more than content saving money by staying in-state.

Though, that didn't mean they weren't going to have other ways to find mischief. Kincaid took a long drag from his cigarette and let out a cloud of smoke with a sigh

"Two more months man, two more months and I'm out of this shit." The Marine waved a hand over towards the parking lot and at the distant football beyond. "Hard to fucking believe it."

Wilkes nodded in agreement as he did the same. "Yeah, no tanks is makin' this shit really easy to ride out. Course, my ass is out a month before you."

Kincaid shook his head. "Yeah don't remind me." The Corporal took another drag. "So, what's the plan? Go back to Philly? College?"

"Nigga I told you!" Wilkes let his cigarette hang from his mouth as he started counting on his hands. "Get out, smoke some weed, drink, go into cooking school and open a Barbeque joint."

The Marine finished with a hearty laugh. "In that order too."

"Right, how could I forget." Kincaid rolled his eyes. "You enjoy that, I'm just trying to get out and go into college bro. Relax a little, try to figure out what it is I want."

"Good an idea as any man. You know I'm always a phone call away."

"Yeah, I know. Gonna fuckin' miss you." Kincaid gave his comrade's wide shoulders a couple of firm slaps. "Same goes for me."

"Hey I have an idea, how about both of you stop putting cigarettes out into the grass eh?!"

A voice called out to the two Marines from below interrupting their bonding and forcing them to groan as they turned their attention to the newcomer. A short stocky Marine of Hispanic complexion frowned up at them from down on the barrack's "yard". Yard meaning more of a wasteland of half-dead grass and dirt. The singular chevron on the Marine's service charlie's denoted him as a PFC, a rank generally held by newer Marines. As if the one ribbon on his chest wasn't a dead giveaway of his experience. Private First Class Benitez, a fresh-faced rookie only a month out of Tank school at Fort Benning Georgia. Probably one of the last tank school classes too.

Benitez fixed his olive drab garrison cover. "You know the Duty NCO* is gonna have a damn bitch fit when he sees you. That means I gotta get bitched at too." He glanced at Kincaid nervously. "No offense Corporal."

"Man you know I don't give a shit." Kincaid shrugged and gestured towards Wilkes. "He's who you gotta worry about."

Wilkes flipped a middle finger up. "Benitez shut the fuck up boot. Better yet!" He flipped a cigarette butt out onto a patch of dirt. "Here you go!"

Benitez watched in discontent as the butt impacted the dirt with a barely audible thump before bouncing up and coming back to rest. "C'mon Hermano, really? What happened to family and shit, you don't see me out here wrecking your duty time."

"Whatever, stop bitchin'." Wilkes leaned further off the railing. "You and Elton still getting relieved early? You know we got a couple bottles to polish off tonight."

"Yeah yeah, Perez and Dunn got it covered. Slid em a hundo', easy peasy." Benitez folded his large arms. New guy or not he still rivaled Wilkes in sheer mass. "They should be here once Elton comes back from chow. Then we can do whatever."

"Nice, nice." Kincaid responded with a thumbs up. Suddenly, a tricked-out red and white Ford Mustang grumbled into the parking lot. The sports car revved its engine a few times as it did a couple of victory laps around the lot, the heavy bass from within its cabin turning a few heads to the source of the commotion.

Once the vehicle slid into a spot its driver's side door opened with a black man of a slimmer build confidently strutting out. Like Benitez, he too was in his service Charlies or "Chucks" as they were also known. However, the two chevrons and cross rifles on both his shoulders denoted him as a Marine with far more experience under his belt. A large stack of ribbons over his left breast pocket further cemented this fact. Not surprising considering he had once deployed with Wilkes and Kincaid.

Corporal Parker Elton, a brother in arms and friendly face wherever he went. To those who got along with him anyway.

Elton danced to the tune of his car's music as he pointed up at Kincaid and Wilkes. "Yooooo we gettin turnt up tonight or what?!" He reached into the back of his car and pulled out two large cases of draft beer with a grin. "I got the party favors!"

All of the Marines nearby including Wilkes, Benitez, and Kincaid gave a triumphant cheer as the music was cranked up. To them; crap beer, good food, and good company were all that was necessary for a great night out. As the sun began to set and cast a purplish hue over the sky they did just that.

Having no idea it would be the last time they'd get to do so for a long time.


1100 HOURS TOKYO, JAPAN

Lieutenant Itami Youji was a simple man with simple desires. Peace, quiet, and above all, his hobbies. All of which were things the military was the exact opposite of. So it was no surprise that when the big Comiket convention came up he did everything he could to attend it.

Everything including faking every inconvenience in the book to avoid the upcoming monthly drills. By some stroke of luck, he managed to pull it off too. That or his superiors were just so fed up with his lazy antics that they simply didn't care anymore.

Whatever the case was he couldn't drop his shit-eating grin as the train got closer to his destination. It was a warm sunny day, the kind of day perfect for today's activities.

The off duty Japanese officer ran a hand through his totally out of regs bushy brown hair. His grooming coupled with his goofy bright orange shirt, cargo shorts, and flip flops ensured that nobody from his unit would be able to identify him.

Not that anyone he knew would be caught dead at his destination, Itami was the only self-proclaimed otaku of his unit after all. Knowing this, the lieutenant snickered before returning his attention to his cellphone and gacha game.

This was his last chance for the rare character of his dreams. Most of his attempts had been rewarded with minor success, but the object of his desires was still out of reach. The lieutenant tapped the "roll" button with a shaking finger and watched the animation play out. A shimmering light, the sound of magic resonating and then.

More of the same, another low tier character.

"Agh, dammit." Itami cursed under his breath and returned his phone to his pocket. There'd be other times and right now money needed to be saved accordingly for the merchandise ahead.

Now arriving at Shinbashi

A cool female voice spoke through the train's intercom system in Japanese and informed the passengers of the stop ahead. Filled with excitement Itami brought his hands together with a triumphant "Yosh!"

As the train's brakes began to screech and the station pulled into view Itami felt himself get fired up. Yes, this was going to be a good day As the doors slid open the lieutenant triumphantly pushed through the crowd of people and into the bustle of the city.

Having no idea that it was going to be anything but a good day.


GINZA DISTRICT, TOKYO JAPAN

Miles away from Itami and in the center of a crowded intersection a light began to shimmer and with it, a strange structure began to materialize.

For a few moments, the daily hustle of city life came to an abrupt halt as onlookers both foreign and local stopped to look at the strange sight. Japan was a country of science and extravagant advertising, so many onlookers immediately began taking out their phones in anticipation of recording something amazing.

Eventually, the shimmering stopped and the structure finally fully materialized. The design of the structure was odd yet somehow familiar. Like as if history itself had thrown it into the modern world.

It almost looked like some sort of tunnel system that the ancient Greeks or Romans would have utilized. Things were quiet for a while and this was when all the curious onlookers began recording with their phones, expecting some sort of fireworks display or anime CGI character to pop up.

Neither came, the city got something far worse instead. The only warning the people received was the sound of warhorn blowing at them from within the darkness. That's when the otherworldly army came charging out from within the structure and the killing began.


1130 HOURS AIRSPACE ABOVE JAPANESE WATERS, COAST OF TOKYO

Two USAF F15C Eagles flew in close formation as they continued their daily patrol. The Japanese had cleared them to operate close to the mainland so the pilots figured they could get some sights in before heading back to Yokota. The jets looked like gray triangles against a blue sky as they screamed through the clouds. They were apex predators in the world of combat aircraft, a symbol of U.S. military might in the modern world. Today they were just fulfilling the role of vigilant watchdog.

Captain Adam "Jack Rabbit" Willhelm loved his job. Flying was the pinnacle of human engineering, a testament to man's never-ending quest for progress. Splashing targets from thousands of feet in the air was also a nice plus. Willhelm and his wingman First Lieutenant Doug "Shaky" Smith had flown countless combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. A quiet patrol was a nice change of pace from constant QRF* missions and if they happened to intercept some uppity Chinese or Russian bomber, that would be fine too. The AMRAAMs hanging under the jets' pylons weren't just for show and in a world with an emerging Chinese regional threat, everyone had to be prepared. The world was shifting dynamically and the Japanese wanted more aggressive posturing against their enemies. Fine by the U.S. and the war hawks in the Japanese government.

Just so long as nobody had to pull triggers, even the most militant members of the government didn't want that.

Willhelm was just about to comment on the lovely flying weather when suddenly something caught his eye from the mainland. The pilot craned his head as he began to subconsciously bank over towards Tokyo bay.

"Hey Shaky, you seein' what I'm seein'?"

The other Eagle came in behind Willhelm's as his wingman came over the radio. "Yeah, I'm seeing it. Probably just some fire or one of those weird convention things."

Willhelm squinted as he saw more and more pillars of black smoke coming out of the city. "Yeah, I don't think so. That doesn't exactly look quite right."

"Well, you get anything from the tower?"

"Nah, but uh." There was a pause as Willhem's wingman looked at his console. "I'm getting one-no, multiple low flying signatures on the scope."

Willhelm looked at the city then back at his own radar screen. Sure enough, he could see multiple blips. The Jet's powerful AESA radar clearly distinguished them from ground clutter.

They weren't flying like helicopters or passenger airliners either, not that low.

Willhelm gave a thumbs up to his wingman. "Yeah, I'm seeing the same thing. Look let's do a quick boom n' zoom and see what's going on, last I checked we're the only ones supposed to be up here right now."

The two jets quickly gained momentum sped off towards Tokyo bay utilizing their powerful Pratt and Whitney engines. As the skyscrapers and various buildings began to appear under them the two jets turned on their undermounted FLIR* cameras to get a better look. As the thermal images began to take shape, both the pilots almost wished they hadn't.

"Holy shit, you gettin' all this Shaky?"

"Yeah, yeah I am."

Willhelm's mouth went agape from behind his mask as the thermal camera began transmitting crisp images. It was chaos. Civilians ran every which way as strange men and what could only be described as creatures chased after them. What was weird was that there was no weapons fire save for a couple of brief images of brave cops trying to keep order. Willhelm shook his disbelief as years of experience kicked in. Who or what the enemy was was irrelevant. Japan was under attack and Willhelm was a soldier of an allied power. This aggression wouldn't go unanswered.

"Jack Rabbit, on your six!"

Smith's frantic yelling shook Willhelm out of his trance as a dark shape took form in the pilot's rearview mirror. Willhelm didn't get a good look at it, but he was sure he saw wings.

Flyers? A dragon or something?

Whatever it was, Willhelm was sure it was no match for a USAF pilot behind the stick of one of the best air superiority fighters on the market. Well, short of an F22 anyway. A quick series of high-G evasive maneuvers soon proved this theory correct. The creature and its rider simply couldn't keep up with the supersonic aircraft. Had Willhelm taken a closer look he might've seen that his jet's powerful backwash had actually sent the creature tumbling down to the streets below. Its rider was barely a black speck as he was thrown off his mount.

Smith had seen it all though and had his adrenaline not been through the roof, he might've laughed. Willhelm banked hard towards the coast and grunted as the intense G forces shook both pilot and aircraft.

"Shaky watch the fuckin' skies we got flyers. Bastards are slow, but let's not have a bird strike. Push back towards the bay and reconnoiter. I'm gonna get a hold of the tower. Banking now."

"Copy that Jack Rabbit, on your six."

The two jets pushed their engines to the max and boomed back over towards the relative calm of the ocean beyond as Willhelm got a hold of the tower back at Yokota.

"Tower, this is Raptor One. Be advised we have a situation developing. Unknown enemy force sighted in inner-city Tokyo. We're seeing civilian casualties on the ground. The hell's going on?"

"Raptor One, this is tower, we read you. We're tracking the situation and are currently coordinating with the Japanese. What's your current position?"

"We're in a holding pattern over the bay. Are we cleared to engage?"

"Negative negative you are not cleared to engage."

Willhelm looked back over his shoulder and at the pillars of smoke rising out of the city. "Any particular reason why?"

"Until we can positively ID targets we cannot safely engage without the risk of starting an international incident." The tower operator responded calmly. "This is on the Japanese, not us."

"You gotta be fuckin' shittin' me man..." Smith muttered under his breath and over a personal frequency. "We just gonna wait until the whole damn city falls?"

Willhelm shook his head. "Rules are rules brother, shits beyond us." The pilot switched comms back over to the tower's frequency. "Roger, Raptor copies. We'll maintain our posture and update as the situation develops.

"Copy..." The tower operator responded dejectedly before keying out. Willhelm could tell he was just as angry as they were, another soldier held back by restrictive ROEs. There was a difference though, Willhelm wasn't afraid to get in trouble doing the right thing.

"Fuck that." Willhelm pulled hard on the stick and put his aircraft into a high-g turn back and towards Tokyo.

"So that's it then, we're doing this." Smith chuckled from over the radio as his Eagle began to turn around and point its nose towards the rapidly emerging targets over Tokyo. "Base is gonna be pissed."

Willhelm lowered his visor and began arming weapon systems on the dashboard. "Yeah, and they can eat my ass. Eagle drivers ain't no indecisive bitches."

"Amen to that, what's the music boss man?" Smith brought his aircraft next to Willhelm's and gave a thumbs up. "Shake n' bake?"

Willhelm took a deep breath as his combat mindset began to take over. "Yeah, on me."

"Copy that Jack Rabbit, on your lead." Smith signaled back. "Let's give em' a welcome to Earth gift basket."

The Eagles dropped their fuel tanks into the ocean and picked up speed towards the targets beyond. Free of the extra weight there wasn't a chance in hell the hostile flyers could hope to give them a fight.

Willhelm brought his gun piper over the first flying creature and pulled his stick's trigger. The roar of the jet's M61 Vulcan would be the first sound of war the otherworldly army would hear.

Thus Japan and the United States fought there.


Acronyms/Slang/Technical terms used:

NCO: Non-Comissioned Officer. A Duty NCO is anyone that isn't a Staff or Officer regulated to the role of "Duty". Basically, it's a glorified security task. Making sure the barracks are in good order as well as the unit headquarters building etc.

ROE-Rules of Engagement

QRF: Quick Reaction Force. Anyone on QRF is essentially a first responder should something go wrong. They're basically ready to rock and roll at a moment's notice. We did a lot of this during deployment, we could get on our tanks and roll out of the FOB in minutes.

FLIR: Forward-Looking Infrared. You know all those super cool black and white thermal cameras you get in CoD and shit? Yeah, it's basically that.

SPAMRAAM: An affectionate term given to the AMRAAM or Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. As I understand it, the slang came from an image of an F18 Hornet loaded with a lot of these.