The First Lunar War was the first recorded instance of hostility between humanity and the BETA. Lasting from 1967 to 1973, the First Lunar War was, and currently is, the first and only off-Earth military campaign that humanity has participated in.
HistoryEditAfter the Mars rover Viking-1 first encountered the BETA in 1958, humanity embarked on an effort to find and communicate with what was possibly the first extra-terrestrial life found in the Solar System. For the next nine years, however, all attempts to land probes on the surface of Mars to replicate Viking-1's findings ended in failure. Attempts to make contact slowed to a crawl, until the days after 1st January, 1967, at the Sacrobosco Crater on the Moon, when contact with all of the geological survey teams sent to investigate a large-scale moon-quake a few days prior was lost by the Plato-1 moon base, all at roughly the same time. The first search party sent after the survey teams also met a similar fate.
The second search party, led by one V. Grissom, took a more cautious approach, and became the first group of humans to obtain a clear look at the BETA. Visual data transmitted by the second party gave humanity the first clear look they had at their adversaries, but due to the chaos of the following days, as well as the BETA's exterior characteristics, and Plato-1 being a primarily Western Bloc-aligned base, many had initially brought forth the possibility that the BETA might have been a Soviet biological weapons program, rather than aliens like those first sighted on Mars.
Following the discovery, the UN Security Council ordered all lunar surface personnel to withdraw to Plato-1, as it was the closest they had to a lunar frontline base. The UN Force, based on UN Charter Article 43, was first formed at this time, with its primary mission being the defense of the Moon. However, space development treaties prohibited the development of usable weapons in space; Plato-1 only had investigation vehicles, construction-use MMUs, and security-use firearms. While HSSTs had already been deployed in space during the Cold War, their operational range was restricted by the treaties; they lacked the capability to reach the Moon. Research on weapons that were usable on the lunar surface was also lacking; the mass drivers on Earth were maintained solely as supply vectors, and could not be used to deliver armored vehicles to the Moon.
For the time being, the UN Force established a Space Force with the US/Soviet aerospace forces as its core; troops were quickly trained for low-gravity missions, and, together with lunar vehicles and MMUs re-purposed as heavy weapon platforms, were sent to the Moon as a stopgap measure.
Humanity, however, was vastly outmatched; they lacked a steady supply train for the lunar forces, as most of the heavy metals that could be used for ammunition and armaments were already used for something else; at one point the idea of using stone mortars, like those at the dusk of the Middle Ages, were even considered, although that did not come to pass. Environment was another issue; the electrically-charged lunar regolith played havoc with any and all moving mechanical components, and the BETA were far more resilient to the harsh surface conditions of the Moon, as well as to damage that would kill their human adversaries; encounters with the BETA often devolved into a close-range fight, as the BETA could absorb more damage from firearms than the human defenders of that time could output. Despite humanity's efforts, the BETA continued to spread like wildfire, and in 1969, the current UN Force commandant, a General J.Campbell, was famously quoted as saying "The moon was hell".
Around this time, the UN Force managed to obtain the use of Earth-based mass drivers as a form of long-range bombardment weapon. However, efforts to assault the BETA with the mass drivers only momentarily halted their advance, and the lunar debris thrown up by the bombardment also severely reduced the range of human sensors; in the time it took for the regolith to settle, another three outlying lunar bases were lost to the BETA, and the idea of using mass drivers for bombardment was abandoned.
In 1970, the first product of research into anti-BETA warfare, the Feedback Protector, was introduced. Named the "Hardiman", infantry units equipped with it gained concrete results in combat against the BETA; they could carry heavy weaponry that would otherwise be unusable by normal lunar infantry, and their three-dimensional movement options gave them improved accuracy at attacking the BETA, as compared to re-purposed lunar vehicles. The introduction of the Feedback Protector allowed humanity to compensate for their initial disadvantages against the BETA, prolonging the First Lunar War for another three years.
Humanity's first encounter with a belligerent force in an unfamiliar and harsh environment had a slow and costly start, but resulted in the development of many technologies, such as the Feedback Protector, that would later lead to the Exoskeleton, and later on, the Tactical Surface Fighter. However, despite the best efforts of the lunar troops, the UN Force formally abandoned the Moon to the BETA in 1973, after the Kashgar landing, in order to shift their focus to home ground.