The One-Day War

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The NovSlav Compact, a federalized empire with its capital in Warsaw, encompasses the Slavic-speaking peoples of Europe and Western Asia, plus non-Slavs like Magyars and Kartvelians. It keeps its members happy by producing low-cost biodiesel, supporting large markets, and providing the minerals to support some high-end manufacturing.

East Africa’s Jumuiya Coalition has changed the market by producing liquid hydrogen at low cost using solar energy. Hydrogen has less pollution, more applications (including satellite launches), and can be converted into biodiesel to support legacy systems. 

In a decade Jumuiyan firms have won marketshare from NovSlav producers in every North African market, sometimes against firms with government support. It begins making inroads in the islands and peninsulas of the North Mediterranean. When Jumuiyan tankers start flights to Cyprus, a strong wind moving the tanker drones inside NovSlav-allied airspace gave them a pretense to shoot down a Jumuiyan tanker. 

The next day Jumuiya declared war on the NovSlav Compact and launched three nanotechnology weapons at Prague (Praha), Vienna (Wien), and Budapest. For a day nothing came of it, until the unfolding activity broke the surface, when it was too late. 

In the Vienna and Prague attacks, the weapons ate all matter in a ten-kilometer radius—except for living, from animals to trees to house-plants (though it ate their pots)-turning it into nitrogen-rich dirt in which a million lost houseplants soon grew. Otherwise it utterly destroyed the city and any objects not carried out.

In Budapest, the nanites had a bug. They followed different, branching rules though Pest, eating some land down to the steaming hot water but others it ignored, and it was perfectly happy to eat people in its way. 

The local and national authorities dithered in fear, alienating the survivors who had expected evacuation. Within three months, the NovSlavs had embargoed the area, and spent a month firing rockets into it, which lost them global respect. This let the partisans in Pest offer a truce if  negotiated by Jumuiya—the same Jumuiya that had brushed off any offer other than surrender by telling the Compact that it should be happy to get more diamonds from Africa.