A submarine is not a nice place to spend a long time. Cramped, uncomfortable, surrounded by hot metal and freezing ocean. Tempers fray when people spend long periods of time together. Even best friends could be at each other's throats within days of being submerged. This particular submarine had been on patrol for the best part of three Months, and during this tour of duty, there had been three separate capital punishments. One, two men fighting over a game of cards. Both had sustained severe injuries, bruises and broken bones. Committed to solitary rooms for three weeks. Two, a sailor who fell asleep on duty, almost missing the daily radio check. Sentenced to a Month of latrine duty. Three, a Sailor who killed. The pressure broke this man, who turned his service pistol on his three bunkmates, killing one. The other two subdued the murderer and, as punishment, decided to tie him to the outside of the Submarine the next time it dived below the waves. Both were sentenced to three years penal service, to be begun upon completion of the tour.

The submarine was old, but reliable. It had been afloat for over ten years at this point, with a long roll of honour and a reputation to match. It was rather slow, since it's belly was full of death. Quite apart from the usual armaments carried by such a vessel - torpedoes, small arms, etcetera - this was a Patrol vessel, but it was equipped with one of the most fiendish, powerful weapons mankind had ever devised - Intercontinental Nuclear Missiles. Each had a payload that would have put most normally delivered nuclear bomb to shame. Each could be fired at targets almost half the world away. Each was locked, payload and missile separated, so that no accidental discharge would occur. With a bloated corpse lashed to the conning tower and a hold full of the deadliest weapons known to mankind, this was a vessel of death. It, and hundreds of others of it's kind, have patrolled these waters for many years, ever since the first signs of a brewing conflict. Since the Cold War, these subs have roamed the oceans, waiting for their orders. Like a pack of sharks just waiting for the food to arrive, they circle, one eye on each other, the other turned to the sky, and both ears straining at their radios for the fateful words.

Alarm tocsins blare mournfully throughout the ship, making sailors raise their heads in alarm. Every alert had a different siren - One for the daily dry-fire test, one each for submerging and emerging, and so on. But this was an alarm far different to the others. It was high and keening, demanding the attention of all, but especially the Captain. He takes the received message with shaking hands, carefully reading and re-reading the curt message.

"Submersible 44-788, Victorious, Assume contingency fire pattern Alpha. " This was the message that preceded extinction. This was the call to arms. As soon as this order was confirmed, as soon as every authorisation was confirmed, the missiles were prepared. The sub became a hive of activity, people rushing this way and that, desperately preparing to unleash weaponized extinction. The payload of every missile was loaded into the missiles themselves by teams in Hazardous material radiation bodysuits, whilst updeck the targeting computers were fed a comprehensive list of targets. This submarine held four missiles, each with the power to eradicate anything within hundreds of miles of the target zone. Alone, this submarine could eradicate a country. By sending missiles at population centres, military encampments, political control centres and school, an entire country could be economically beheaded, and politically disarmed. Without Presidents, Queens or Kings, the populace of the target country would become unstable. Riots and anarchy would spread, further toppling the country. However, this was not the only submarine. Hundreds more patrolled through these waters, belonging to every country. Each of those would also have received this order, of this they could be sure.

With a final, solid click, the Captain, Master of Arms and the Head of the Missile Loading procedure slid their three code keys into the control board, revealing the switch to fire. With a deep breath and a whispered entreaty, he presses the submarine has slide to the surface of the sea, and, for miles around, other hidden submarines have followed suit. On the foredeck, the missile tube hatches iris open, droplets of harsh sea water dropping onto the loaded missiles. With a roar that heralds naught but death, the missiles fire. The explosive backwash flash-dries the upper deck of the sub, evaporating water in a small radius as it emerges from the tube, joining a stream, of others. The sky is laden with rockets, each streaming towards a different target. Of course, each country has thousands of devices to shot these down - anti-ICBM weaponry, specialist radars and scramblers - but these countermeasures can only stop so many. Even if they stop one hundred missiles, if they cannot stop one hundred and one, it was all for nothing. And far more than a hundred are in the air, leaving smoky contrails behind as they spear through the sky.

The submarine judders in the water as it's payload fires. As well as the crater of water evaporated by the backwash of the missiles, it's weight has massively decreased too. The submarine rocks, and this easily causes internal injuries. Men fall against bulkheads, injuring themselves and others as they are throws backwards. The most prominent injury is the poor fellow who falls against the control panel monitoring and controlling the submarine's ballast tanks. As it's final payload flies off, the submarine floods it's tanks and sinks straight down. The control panel, broken beyond repair, ensures that the tanks fill to their capacity and are locked open, forcing the sub to descend with no hope of ever rising again. It sinks beneath the waves, the only sign it was ever there the occasional bubble of escaping air and the glowing trail of it's missiles. Far above, above the waves, the other submarines slowly turn to one another. The air stills as the submarine captains observe one another, stood in their conning towers, watching their payload race away. They salute to each other, across miles of roaring waves, before diving one again and launching torpedoes. This is war, after all. The ocean is soon cris-crossed by the wake trails of torpedoes, followed by deep explosions as the rare munition strikes it's target. Oil floats atop the water as some sink, joining the Victorious beneath the waves. Others begin to limp home, listing heavily, filing with water, their battered crew barely alive. But even this great naval battle is barely even an annotation for the war to come. The missiles will impact in three hours. In three hours, the world will end.

Three Hours until the End

A small river babbles it's way along the hill, streaming down the mountain path. A father greets his daughter as he returns from his workplace, his vehicle parked outside. His loving wife greets him inside, and all three relax happily together. They turn on their television, arguing good-naturedly over what to watch - News or cartoons. Of course, the young lady wins, turning her favourite channel on.
The daughter raises a questioning eyebrow as her father flicks to the next channel, the the next, then the next, to be greeted by the same each time.
The father sighs, resting his mug on the table, and heads outside to grab a ladder and adjust the rooftop Ariel. Within moments, though, his call echoes through the house. The girl and her mother rush to his side, staring at the sky.

A huge orb of light fills the sky. Harsher than she sun, the rays from it sickeningly bright and artificial, it floats in the sky for a short while. An entire minute passes as it slowly descends, before the blast wave reaches the house. The trees rock alarmingly, the entire forest dancing in the sudden gust. A deep, heavy roar reverberates through the forest, echoing eerily from every corner. Every single light in the house pops simultaneously. Their microwave explodes spectacularly, blasting a hole clean through one wall. Their television melts into a pile of slag, popping and crackling. Clocks stop. darkness falls.

A High-altitude nuclear explosion. A single nuclear weapon can cause untold destruction by landing, but even one detonating in midair is far from safe. However, this is a deliberate attack. A high-altitude nuclear blast is like the ultimate form of electromagnetic pulse. It shorts out, destroys or outright melts any electronics for many miles around. And one...no, two have just detonated. Another bright starburst marks the sky to the north, the opposite side from the current blast. Within less than a minute, that blast wave overlaps the first, the deafening blasts causing anything electric that survived the first blast to succumb instantly to the second. Their car radio melts, setting off the fuel in their car. it explodes in a raging fireball. At the same time, their oven explodes spectacularly, blasting an entire wall off the building. The family huddle together, surrounded by fire and destruction, blinded and deafened, trapped and alone. As the last echoes of the EMP nukes fades, they look towards the nearest city. There, they see the true nukes land. Immense flashes rage through the city as overlapping nukes go off, shrouding the city in a mushroom cloud that rises miles into the air. Buildings fall as if in slow motion, huge skyscrapers teetering as overlapping shockwaves blast them this way and that, forcing them to the floor and covering them with a cloak of dust.

This is how the world ends. Not with the long, slow death of melting ice caps. Not with the lingering death of incurable diseases. Not even with the implosion of the sun, or the slow cooling of earth's crust. Mankind wiped itself out in a single night.