The Detroit Metro refers to the City of Detroit and the surrounding communities. By 2077 urban spawl had created a massive metropolis stretching into what were once the distant outskirts. Nearby communities were formally amalgamated into a megacity known as the Detroit Metro. Home to over 8 million people, the Detroit Metro was one of the largest manufacturing centers in pre-war America. Everything from cars to fusion cells to power armour was produced in the factories and its position on the Great Lakes made it a major hub for material heading into annexed Canada.
The city was considered to be a boomtown until the 2050s when the oil shortages became acute and the auto industry suffered. Thankfully the precarious international situation created a great demand for weapons. Tanks, guns and bombs rolled off the factories and were immediately shipped to frontlines. Detroit steel caused destruction from the middle East during the Resource Wars to the Tibetian Frontline during the Kashmir Police Action. When America found itself in turn embroiled in war these factories armed the troops heading to Alaska or southeast Asia. This meant there was always a large amount of manufacturing and shipping jobs available, contributing to a vibrant middle class.
But beneath the image of bustling industrious Detroit there was a more sobering reality. Laws written by corporate lobbyists had gutted worker protection and wages fell even as the GDP boomed. Unions were busted as communist fronts and many found themselves treated as little more than farm animals to be worked until they were broken and cast aside. A large underclass of unemployed impoverished people formed. Tension brewed in the city and began to boil over as the price of oil shot up and some goods became out of reach of the common person, like gasoline.
By the late 2060s Detroit was a pressure cooker. Crime was frequent, with robberies, carjackings and seemingly aimless murder an everyday occurrence. Riots occurred on a near weekly basis. The Chinese found a ripe ground to recruit malcontents into guerilla cells. Police were shot at in the streets, military convoys bombed and ammo shipments sabotaged. Detroit came to resemble a warzone even before the bombs had fallen. Military checkpoints were set up and there was an official curfew. Often times helicopters would fire on people who violated this.
The Great War
As a manufacturing and logistics hub, Detroit was considered to be a priority target for the Chinese. Because of its location inland, far from any coastline, it was thought the city could stand a chance of repelling a nuclear strike. Cities like Los Angeles and DC would be easy pickings for submarine launched missiles but with even 10 minutes warning some thought the arrays of newly constructed laser and plasma batteries could stop the Chinese ICBMs. The lucrative paydays for those who tendered and completed the contract had nothing to do with the decision it can be assumed. There were also several batteries of nuclear tipped surface to air missiles, though the EMP from their airburst would likely render the laser and plasma weaponry ineffective.
On October 23rd, 2077, the system would be tested. The Chinese launched a volley of SLBMs from the east coast and several ICBMs over the north pole aimed at the Detroit area. The laser batteries tracked the first incoming warheads and fired. Not a single one exploded. It was quickly determined the Chinese had realized the possibility of laser defenses and had simply added a coating of ablative paint. This absorbed enough heat that several hits was needed to ensure destruction of a warhead. The plasma batteries fired as the warheads dropped into the atmosphere itself.
To the credit of their crews they stopped the first half a dozen warheads. The first warhead makes it through and hits in the industrial sector, glassing several factories. The air over Detroit is a hellscape of nuclear fire, lasers and the sickly green glow of plasma. Several more warheads make it through. One destroys a power substation which shuts down a quarter of the available defense batteries. The last few warheads impact, destroying several sites outright. There is a brief lull as the next wave of missiles arrive. Half the batteries are intact.
To the absolute shock of everyone, a wave of Chinese bomber aircraft is detected rapidly approaching. The laser batteries engage them from afar, having more success knocking them out. Fighters are scrambled from Ann Arbor which hasn't been hit yet. A fierce dogfight takes place overhead. The bomber stream approaches, some falling to fighters, some to lasers, some to plasma, but more than enough break it through. When they drop the first bombs start to drop it causes a panic among the anti-nuke missile troops in Windsor. They fire their Nike-3 missiles which destroy most of the Chinese bombers (and most of the American fighters) but the interference makes it impossible for the ground batteries to even try to engage the next salvo of missiles. This one hits all over and causes the majority of destruction, over 25 warheads strike the Detroit metro in this one attack alone.
In the aftermath the city burns as radioactive ash falls like snow. Half the population has been killed outright and two thirds of the survivors would be dead within a year.
Following the nuclear exchange, surviving military and police personnel attempted to keep order. Plans for distributing rations, medicine and stopping looters quickly fell into disarray. Surviving hospitals were overwhelmed by the sheer number of casualties and violence soon erupted as desperate patients tried to take medicine by force. Ration points were overwhelmed and soon the military and police found themselves in gun battles with survivors. For a week they killed each other until the black rain began to fall. Surviving military personnel who hadn't defected by then retreated to Ann Arbor as law and order totally collapsed in greater Detroit.
Ann Arbor had been spared a direct hit. The airfield was damaged by an airburst but many personnel survived and assisted the national guard in keeping order. Refugees from Detroit were being turned away at gunpoint and then shot on sight by the third day. The few hundred ragged military and police survivors from Detroit were welcomed into Ann Arbor to assist in keeping things under control. The city would survive as they made a hard choice to 'encourage' most of the students at the University of Michigan to leave into the waste to find their family. Those with useful skills and degrees were kept, along with the faculty, but with so many mouths leaving the forces of Ann Arbor managed to just barely hold on. This community would survive until the present day and for decades it was the only sign of civilization near the city. It is by far the oldest community in the Detroit Wasteland and one of the oldest surviving communities in America, period.