It wasn’t until twenty-three years after the Moon was destroyed by the McKenziean Fanatics that the Asteroid was spotted. It made a shallow pass of the Sun, the gravity of which brought it around to pass over the orbit of the Earth. Calculations were run, and simulations were made, all within days of it being spotted, and two things were discovered: Firstly was its size, with observations placing it at around 5 miles wide. The second discovery was its impact location, just to the west coast of the USA. They also calculated, rather Ironically, that had the Moon still been in place, it would have been in perfect position to protect the Planet it had formerly orbited.
In a thick slice of irony, the ones who had destroyed the Moon in order to protect the Earth, had ultimately sealed its fate.
Meetings were held, governments worldwide gathered together to between them decide how to combat the problem. Two tiers of action were decided upon, the first being large, self-sustaining underground bunkers to wait out the destruction the impact would cause. The second course of action was to bump up the funding of space exploration, with the main goal being to destroy the asteroid. Private investors and pioneers would be reached out to if they felt they could be trusted. But the thing agreed upon more than anything else, was that the public would not be told.
422 days after the asteroid was first discovered, the largest non-modular space vehicle was launched from a vacant stretch of Russia. its purpose was a simple one: Impact head on with the asteroid and detonate its payload. The hope was two-fold, either the impact would bury the vehicle deep inside the giant metallic space rock, or it would slow it down even slightly. Neither happened, and the warheads detonating barely even scratched the surface.
As the Governments made provisions to start moving select people into the bunkers they had each built, a last ditch effort was made by a force no-one had predicted. Team Ogni-Ratha launched The Black Sparrow once again into the confines of space. No explosives on board, but instead ferrying an experimental nuclear engine. The asteroid was at this stage so close it was visible even in the day, a bright shining ball that seemed to rise in the sky just after the Sun itself.
Black Sparrow latched itself to the side of the plummeting hunk of metallic rock, as powered up the engine. With just enough force, he was able to nudge the asteroid away from direct impact. But not far enough to avoid impact entirely. Both the Sparrow and the asteroid ended up ensnared in the Earth’s protective layer, its atmosphere.
Black Sparrow, crushed between the falling asteroid and the burning re-entry, was destroyed almost instantly. But the giant rock kept tumbling, its elongated re-entry slowing it, spinning it, burning off huge chunks at a time. She lost a mile of rock as she tumbled, the pieces separating as she rotated. By the time she had exited the atmosphere again she was half the size she had been.
But despite her now reduced size, she impacted hard, a few miles off the coast of Australia, in the Indian Ocean. A 2.5 mile twist of metals and rock striking the earth at near 25,000mph. Whatever water wasn’t vaporised instantly by the impact was sent north and westward in excessively giant waves. While a dry shockwave spanned inland, dust and debris blew so fast along the surface that near enough everything was torn apart. Neither shockwave stopped until they stuck each other a full halfway around the globe, where they dissipated, dust and water molecules settling high in the atmosphere.
But Black Sparrow had done the job, the gentle nudge had been enough to stop the impact being completely head on, and as such the reduced size resulting from a longer burn through the atmosphere had kept the surface at least partially hospitable.
For the next 300 years after the impact, the people of Earth lived in two separate realms. The first were the Under-Dwellers, those who had been selected to live in the bunkers, and the generations that lived after the originals. They lived very structured lives, everyone playing a role in keeping the bunkers sustaining, either mining for fuel in the deeper portions or farming crops in makeshift soil. No-one’s time was ever wasted below the surface. The second were the Surface-Survivors, later known as the Surface-Dwellers, those who had survived the impact but now had to fight for everything. In the chaos after the impact there had been no effort to establish a chain of command, and so for those on the surface, every day was a battle for food and water. Every day became a battle to survive.
Then the beasts came.