Throughout Human history, throughout the countless wars, acts of violence and the suffering brought about by it, people have paid the ultimate price. People, regardless of creed and race, religion and background.
Humanity in Aquarius is no exception. Wherever we go, the new worlds we settle, we bring with us our most basic nature. We bring war. The Unified Terran Nations has seen its share of wars, but we have prided ourselves on upholding basic human virtues of compassion, equality and freedom set by our founding Mothers and Fathers nearly two millenia ago. We prided ourselves to uphold Human Rights wherever we go, whatever enemy we face.
However, no such conflict in Terran history brought about such blame upon the few by so many as the Federation's military intervention in the Phoenix Cluster, which culminated in the Phoenix Incident of 3786, E (A.D).
The Fate of Millions
During the late Cycle of 3786, Eridonian Date, the UTN Military Command responsible for the invasion of Phoenix, after three months of intense fighting planetside - and attempts to occupy major cities failed - issued an order to supress an insurgency with orbital weapons, utilising extreme prejudice.
The result was the deployment of Localised 'Clean' Nuclear Weapons. Such weapons utilise Fusion Impulse charges to cause extreme destruction but without the residual radioactive fallout of conventional Fissle Nuclear Weapons. Under UTN Law, these weapons are considered Weapons of Mass Destruction and subject to strict control and regulations.
The deployment resulted in a single detonation, a 15 MT Concussive Airburst Charge (CAC) delivered by a Hornet-class Long Range Missile from an orbiting Vengeance-class Heavy Cruiser detonated approximately five-hundred metres over Kosiyurk, the largest city one Phoenix, and in the Phoenix Cluster, the seat of power for the ousted former Phoenix Republic Government, and the target of a Federal Planetary forces campaign for occupation.
Two million lives ended, civilian and insurgent. The city was left a flaming ruin.
The Legality of Genocide
The UTN Military Command issued a full evacuation of Federal military personell before the deployment was authorised, but no such operation was planned for civilians in the target zone. After the Incident, the legality of the operation was questioned. The man who issued the order, Sector General Lukus Vorni was placed under scrutiny.
The operation, termed "Phoenix Falling", was a joint Planetary Forces and Navy operation, but ultimately lead by the Federal Navy and General Vorni issuing the order himself. In defence of the deployment, the Federal Navy and Board of Admirality staunchly defended the operation. The primary reasons were cited to be a direct, and immediate threat to the UTN and her people, from the Capital of the Phoenix Cluster.
And indeed, UTN Naval Intelligence had discovered a plot to launch a terrorist attack of enormous proportions on the heart of the Federation. In the Cycles prior to the Incident, the Federal Naval Intelligence Agency uncovered a plot to deploy a CEG-era IPBM (Inter-Planetary Ballistic Missile) attack, directed towards Eriodonia itself.
Such weapons could be intercepted and destroyed before they hit their intended targets, but due to the scale of the weapons inventory on Phoenix, the UTN Military predicted it was likely at least one of the missiles would reach the atmosphere of Eridonia using Phasic Cruising technology, such that is heavily restricted and banned. This was unacceptable.
Simulations predicted over a million lives would be lost, including the UTN President and the Federal Senate. Such an attack had to be stopped. At all costs.
But at the cost of nearly two million innocent lives? What is the Legality of Genocide? This question has been asked countless times since Operation Phoenix Falling, and come the turn of the 4th Millenium, has caused huge resentment for the UTN within the Phoenix Cluster and her Territories. Ultimately, the UTN Supreme Court ruled in favour of the deployment, stating that no other means were available to prevent "massive, and catastrophic loss of life and damage to the very heart of the Unified Terran Nations".
After the detonation, the insurgents, mostly funded and supplied by the remnants of the Phoenix Military, had mostly been quelled. Federal Planetary Forces quickly secured the ruins of Kosiyurk and dismantled any remaining CEG-era weapons platforms. A huge humanitarian aid effort was launched, though few survivors remained.
Opponents to the deployment, accuse the UTN of ending two million lives without proper approval from Senate and consideration of the catastrophic humanitarian damage, but General Vorni, the man who must live with the knowledge that he ended millions of lives, states in his journal;
"Such a decision should not be placed upon any soul. Either outcome would have resulted in loss of human life that cannot be described by words. I was informed by my intelligence officers that the launch of weapons toward UTN space was imminent, I had to issue a response to prevent what would have been the most catastrophic loss of life in UTN history.
The only solution was to pre-emptively launch an Orbital Nuclear attack on Kosiyurk. I was shown indisputable evidence. There was no time to battle in the streets against the insurgents and terrorists, to secure the weapons. The installations were so well fortified that conventional weapons could not reach them. So I issued the order to use extreme, overwhelming force.
I issued an order that resulted in the loss of two million lives, most of which were innocent, non-combatants. I did not do this lightly, but my family lives on Eridonia. I can't live with my decision, and the only way I try to justify my actions, is that it was them or us."
-Sector General Lukus Vorni, speaking at the Phoenix Incident Trial, 29th September, 3787, E (A.D)
Lukus was relived of duty after the Phoenix Conflict reached its ultimate resolution, and suffered crippling traumatic stress for two cycles, before taking his own life in a hopsital in his home district of Eris Tier II, on the 9th of January, 3789.
The Trial Continues
On the anniversary of the incident, every cycle, opponents of the UTN Supreme Court's decision stage a protest outside the Federal Senate, demanding a new investigation into the legality of Operation Phoenix Falling.
Such an investigation was opened, almost a hundred cycles from the date of the detonation over Kosiyurk, based on new evidence that alternative means of preventing the attack on UTN space were available. But, with all the people involved with the decision no longer alive, how will justice be served?
New legislation was put into effect after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the illegality of the Incident. More stringent control of Extremely Destructive Weapons (EDW) and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was enforced, and such weapons were no longer carried on the majority of UTN Naval Capital ships, instead being relegated to designated "Planet-Killer" vessels, as part of the Federation's WMD Deterrent strategy.
But some claim, that the lack of a major enemy of the Unified Terran Nations, after the fall of Phoenix and the subsequent anexation by UTN Forces, such weapons no longer had purpose to exist.