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"Now Faro, he'll foot the bill, but his money can't buy the time necessary to complete Zero Dawn. That... that can only be paid for in blood."
―Gen. Aaron Herres

Operation: Enduring Victory was the name given to the unified war plan enacted during the mid-21st century against the Faro Plague. It was spearheaded by the United States military, and was enacted from November 3rd, 2064 to the first half of 2066, ending when the last human military forces fighting against the Plague were overrun and destroyed. Like the plan itself, the name was a deliberate deception; rather than defeating the robots, its purpose was to merely delay their worldwide advance long enough to provide the time necessary to complete Zero Dawn, and thus prevent the extinction of life on Earth from being permanent.


The Faro Plague in action

During the mid-21st century, national militaries became completely automated, relying entirely on robots instead of human forces. The American robotics and technology corporation Faro Automated Solutions developed the single most advanced combat platform in military history: the Chariot line of combat automatons. The robots utilized the concept of insect swarms in their operation: a single “queen” robot produced overwhelming numbers of “soldier/worker” robots. They were given abilities that made them virtually unstoppable: to learn and adapt, use biomass as fuel, replicate at overwhelming rates, hack and commandeer any enemy robots, and virtual immunity to any attempts at being hacked themselves.[1][2][3]

The platform was highly successful on the military market, but in late 2064, one swarm experienced a glitch in its command and control functions.[4] This glitch turned the swarm into an independent, self-aware entity. Its abilities ensured that stopping it was impossible before it grew and spread worldwide, consuming the entirety of the Earth’s biosphere and thus eradicating all life.[5] The roboticist and engineer Dr. Elisabet Sobeck, on discovering this, immediately set to work on a plan that would reestablish life using a global automated terraforming system, which she dubbed Zero Dawn. However the rapidly spreading and advancing swarm, by then called the Faro Plague, had to be slowed enough to provide the time needed to complete and implement the system. Sobeck therefore also devised a plan to this end: the worldwide populace, doomed without any possibly of being saved, would have to sacrifice itself in a futile effort to defeat the swarm. The effort would cause the crucial slowing of its advance.


Military Commander: "You're going to thank her? After what she just said?!"
Gen. Herres: "Dr. Sobeck has made the situation very clear, General - and given us an option. We should all be thanking her."
Military Commander: "It's just... I mean... my God!"

Sobeck met with the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff at U.S. Robot Command headquarters and laid the two plans out. The horrific moral challenges of the plan to provide time were not lost on her, the Chiefs or on J.C.S. Chairman General Aaron Herres. Indeed, the Chiefs objected vociferously, and Sobeck and Herres would both later acknowledge their great anguish over what the plan entailed. However Sobeck’s logic regarding the plan’s absolute necessity was unassailable. Herres therefore overrode all objections, agreed to the plan and personally undertook the task of implementing it, dubbing it Operation: Enduring Victory. To keep the world fighting, he furthermore undertook to disseminate the falsehood that Zero Dawn was a program to produce a superweapon that would ultimately defeat the Faro Plague if only the robots were held off long enough for it to be completed. The truth was held a secret of the highest order.[6][7]

The War

"The enemy we're facing self-replicates faster than we can kill it, and it eats biomass as fuel. Project Zero Dawn is all we've got."
―Gen. Herres

Throughout the world, nations reassembled long-decommissioned and dismantled human military forces, and civilian militias were assembled and summarily trained in the use of military weapons. Both were deployed against the robots, separately and together. The deaths from these engagements were horrific.[8] But throughout all the death and destruction, Herres’ deception worked perfectly. Even as ever-increasing millions were consumed by the robots or perished of thirst, starvation and asphyxiation in the increasingly oxygen-depleted atmosphere, the global populace never ceased to believe that Zero Dawn would destroy the robots, and fought to the last man.[9][10] Indeed, a number of impressive victories were achieved over the Plague.[10][11]

However, as intended, these were only illusory; while the advance of the plague was indeed slowed, it was not stopped. In early 2066, the last human military forces were overrun and destroyed. By then, all human populations save those in underground hermetically sealed bunkers electronically masked from the Plague had been exterminated, followed by every other form of life a few years after.[12]


The plan was ultimately successful, though just barely. The robots’ adaptability and ability to learn from every engagement allowed them to severely curtail the reduction of their advance, and thus the end came much faster than anticipated. Even so, it provided just enough time for Zero Dawn’s functional completion.[13]



The scale of death resulting from Operation: Enduring Victory was unprecedented. The number of human fatalities was orders of magnitude greater than in the combined total of all wars in human history. However the plan was crucial to the success of Zero Dawn, and therefore crucial to the reestablishment of life after its eradication by the Faro Plague. While the inducement of the global human populace to sacrifice itself to slow the robots’ advance was coldly logical, it was absolutely necessary. Furthermore it was morally justifiable, as the populace was irrevocably doomed; by sacrificing itself to slow the Plague, it served a vital purpose with its destruction rather than being meaninglessly annihilated. This sacrifice slowed the Faro Plague’s advance until Zero Dawn was completed. It thus played a vital role in Zero Dawn’s success.