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World War III, also known as the Third World War, or the Great War, was a global military conflict that involved many of the planet's greatest superpowers. The war was largely a struggle for limited reserves of uranium, which was running in short supply. After reserves of the resource were depleted in North America and Central Asia, Australia was left with vast untapped amounts of uranium. Many of the world's nations grew to depend on Australia for energy. In the 2060s, Australia began using its economic power to build up its global political and economic dominance. In 2063, Australia demanded that Indonesia, which depended on Australian uranium for power, pay a high "tribute tax" to continue receiving the resource. Soon enough, Australia began to force nearby nations to cede their political sovereignty, on pain of sanctioning uranium exports to these nations. By 2080, Australia was the center of a vast Empire, with trillions of dollars flowing through tribute and tax to the continent.
In 2081, the Empire of Australia demanded that China and the United States join the Empire as territories of Australia. Both countries refused. Australia responded by blocking uranium shipments to both nations, as well as their mutual ally, the European Union. This caused a massive economic and energy crisis, with the American GDP falling thirty percent in a couple months due to the poor EROI ratios of remaining energy resources. By August, both the US, China, and their allies were determined to take control of Australian energy resources. India and South-East Asia were simultaneously invaded, leading to a long and brutal military conflict. In the end, the Coalition had victory, and the Australian Empire was defeated, with Australian energy resources jointly controlled by China and the West.