2557 Heavy Losses at Vladivostok.
The Earth Union's new military capabilities in space are an existential threat to the Solar Coalition. They are trying to stop the coalition's expansionist activities by force. The Union had occupied the moon, attacked the Martian system, and captured Mars orbit. The Coalition was finally able to recapture Deimos and defeat the Earth fleet, using all the forces of the inner and outer system. A year later, the Coalition was even able to liberate the moon and take the System War into Earth's orbit establishing a blockade. Still there has been a stalemate for three years. The Coalition dominates orbit preventing Earth from launching military forces into space and the earth on the other hand controls the planetary surface.
Actually, this means that the status quo has been restored, which already existed for a long time before the war broke out. The Solar Coalition reigns in space, the Union on Earth. The coalition is expansionist and is now interstellar active. The earth is isolated. It focuses on a sustainable economy and on repairing its ecology. 90 million people spread across the solar system stand against 18 billion on earth.
But both sides cannot leave the situation as it is. Having long been anti-expansionist the earth is horrified at the Coalition's interstellar activities. And the Dilan incident, 25 years earlier, confirmed its worst fears. The Earth Union is determined to prevent further interstellar activity. Therefore, it is now trying to break the orbital blockade. But objects launched from earth do not get very far. Most are already neutralized in near-Earth space.
Failing to retake the orbit and to establish its forces in space, the earth has switched to terrorist tactics. The Earth forces launch long-range missiles with nuclear warheads to attack interplanetary targets. Both sides still shy away from hitting planets directly. But the frequency of missile launches is increasing and the Coalition's blockade forces can no longer prevent breakthroughs. Each of them can cause huge damage and strike millions of Coalition citizens. The first major loss on the Coalition side is Gemini, an L5 O'Neill cylinder with 40,000 residents. The Coalition retaliates by intensifying the orbital warfare shooting down even civilian suborbital transport vehicles and high-flying aircraft.
The Coalition is determined to stop the interplanetary attacks. To this end, they strive to achieve a regime change on Earth. In addition, there are still influential groups in the coalition that want to end the isolation of the Earth. Many have never come to terms with the fact that their home planet is inaccessible. Even though the interplanetary civilization has grown self sufficient, Earth nostalgia is still a strong motive. These groups see the current escalation as an opportunity to win back the earth.
There are still expansionists holding out on Earth. But they have to stay underground. The expansionists are not willing to accept that "the people of the earth are denied the stars". There are expansionist guerrilla groups in many regions. Some of which carrying out terrorist attacks, others quietly preparing for the liberation fight. The Coalition is helping with propaganda from orbit and by landing equipment and personnel in deorbiters. However, the Union has a firm grip on the earth. Just as the Coalition can suppress almost all launches into orbit, the Union has a dense surveillance network to prevent landings from orbit. Still sometimes landings succeed. But there is no reliable and efficient transport route. Material support for the underground comes through only very irregularly.
The Coalition therefore intends to establish a bridgehead on earth. From this base, agents are supposed to support the underground movement. Later, special forces with modern weapons will help in the liberation effort. For this purpose, the Coalition chooses a sparsely populated area in Asia northwest of Vladivostok.
Phase I: The area is levelled by kinetic bombing within a radius of 200 km. All vegetation and the topography disappear in a storm of high-speed projectiles, each of which deposits its kinetic energy of one kiloton. This has the same effect as thousands of nuclear explosions without causing any radioactive contamination. The Coalition takes care to use biocompatible non-toxic materials for the projectiles, as the region should later be habitable again.
Phase II: Crash-deorbiters land on the perimeter to establish a defense network that will later protect the space landing troops. Hundreds of launch units for hypersonic projectiles are stationed, each able to carry a ceramic pellet storm into the target area. The delivery systems employ linear accelerators (railguns) to take its offensive components to the threat over many kilometers within seconds. There are pellets for different performance profiles, e.g. heat-resistant boron nitride darts (against reactive armour), boron fullerenes (more of a dust storm against swarms of microbots), and diamond-encapsulated tungsten particles with particularly high penetrating power (against strong passive armour). All together they constitute a so-called ceramic shield. Every attacker, whether bullet, drone or soldier, encounters a storm of tiny hypersonic ceramic pellets when crossing the imaginary border. The pellet storm grinds everything in fractions of a second, including armour, microbots and military fog.
Phase III: More deorbiters land passive defense equipment inside the protected area including mirror projectors, i.e. swarms of sub-millimeter-sized programmable mirrors made of optically active metamaterials. These micro-mirrors are floating in the air automatically aligning themselves to strong light sources. They block laser weapons reflecting the beam energy. Phase III also brings in mobile aerosol generators, which prevent observation by the enemy and at the same time offer protection against plasma weapons.
Phase IV lands heavy equipment: classic missile defense, ground-penetrating radar against underground attacks, semi-autonomous drones, EW (Electronic Warfare), ECM (Electronic Counter Measures), and ECCM (Electronic Counter Counter Measures). Pioneers arrive with power generators for all electrically operated equipment and for heavy duty gear run by high performance vacuum power transmission tubes. In addition they land tunnel drills taken from asteroid mining, in-situ-resource utilization (ISRU) extraction units, and fabs for base construction as well as for ammunition. This equipment is the used to dig several underground bases distributed over the entire landing zone. The bases are widely ramified networks of underground tunnels with many exits. Thus, they do not offer an easy target.
The Coalition has the air and space superiority. It can stop air strikes and missiles through kinetic strikes from the orbit. Except for a few initial tests, the Union forces refrain from airborne attacks. Attacks on the landing zone are primarily conducted by heavily armored ground vehicles or through tunnels dug over hundreds of kilometers. For this purpose the earth is able to resort to its sophisticated tunnelling technology originally developed for the construction of vacuum railways.
While the base construction continues under constant attacks, Coalition ground troops finally land. The secret service personnel begin to establish connections to resistance groups. Special forces and their drones explore the wider area preparing for global deployment. On the land side, the Union forces have set up a blockade front. Yet, the bridgehead has been deliberately established at the Pacific Ocean to be able to transport people and material secretly underwater around the world.
Over the course of one year the military personnel grows to 10,000 people, 50.000 drones with upload crews, and 1 million semi-autonomous drones.
Then the antimatter mines explode. The bridgehead is completely wiped out by three 50 megatons charges. Brute force wins over high-tech.
A long ago the Earth Union had cunningly prepared for such an invasion by burying heavy nuclear warheads in all areas around the world suitable for landing operations. 100,000 antimatter mines had been sleeping deeply underground ready to strike on command.
The Earth had 200 years to prepare for an invasion.
It is a catastrophic loss for the Coalition. A huge amount of equipment and all available ground forces are lost. An invasion is now out of the question.