Armageddon???? (Part Fifty Up)

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Post by [R_H] » 2008-01-31 06:29am

KlavoHunter wrote:
I never said that, indeed, I meant the precise opposite - SPAAGs are PRECISELY what are called for here.


What I was *SAYING*, is that a more advanced system like Tunguska, as opposed to the earlier ZSU-series, probably wouldn't be terribly much better than the ZSUs, when it comes to shooting down slow-moving, soft targets like the Harpies.

All you need is a mobile chassis with a bunch of small-calibre cannon slaved to a radar, with deep magazines. The Tunguska and ZSU-23-4 happen to share these qualities.
Ah, ok sorry about that. What do you mean "more advanced"? That the Tunguska carries missiles? I agree that a bunch of cannons would be adequate.

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Post by Stuart » 2008-01-31 08:56am

The Duchess of Zeon wrote:I doubt that everyone is being tortured 24/7 in Hell. I cannot see the demons doing anything beneath themselves like housework; surely they select a few broken and pliant individuals for such tasks. Probably also as amusement toys--slaves for sexual purposes who are tortured on a whim but who are not tortured constantly. These two groups, and especially because it seems they're so conscious of social roles that I seriously doubt that Army was doing anything except standing around, almost certain exist, and some labour--depending on the sort of economy hell possesses--might also be done by slaves. It is likely that when a demon dies, however, these people that they possessed are normally sacrificed as part of the funeral.
The working principle of hell (taken from Dante's Inferno) isn't that the demons actively torture the inhabitants (except for fun) but that they put them into what might be described as a tortuous environment - for example immersed in hellfire, drowning in what amounts to raw sewage, being blown around by great winds etc. The demon role is supervisory to make sure that everything is working properly. The numbers make that the only really viable approach. If we have (say) 90 billion souls on hell and about 20 million demons available for supervision, it means that each demon has around 4,500 souls to supervise - so obviously individual attention is out.

We'll be having a look at how hell works fairly shortly.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-01-31 08:59am

All you need is a mobile chassis with a bunch of small-calibre cannon slaved to a radar, with deep magazines. The Tunguska and ZSU-23-4 happen to share these qualities.
Gun trucks exist and are going to be very, very necessary. By the way, quite a few M42 Dusters still exist in active inventories, some people I knew used a couple to overthrow a government last year.
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Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2008-01-31 11:23am

Stuart wrote:
All you need is a mobile chassis with a bunch of small-calibre cannon slaved to a radar, with deep magazines. The Tunguska and ZSU-23-4 happen to share these qualities.
Gun trucks exist and are going to be very, very necessary. By the way, quite a few M42 Dusters still exist in active inventories, some people I knew used a couple to overthrow a government last year.
That is, quite possibly, the best quote ever.

EVER.
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Post by Sidewinder » 2008-01-31 11:31am

Stuart wrote:By the way, quite a few M42 Dusters still exist in active inventories, some people I knew used a couple to overthrow a government last year.
Which people and which government?
Please do not make Americans fight giant monsters.

Those gun nuts do not understand the meaning of "overkill," and will simply use weapon after weapon of mass destruction (WMD) until the monster is dead, or until they run out of weapons.

They have more WMD than there are monsters for us to fight. (More insanity here.)

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-01-31 12:14pm

You know, the Russians simply never throw things away, and I can't help but imagine that they still have a lot of late-WW2 vintage equipment which was nominally retired in the early to mid 1990s just sitting there in some kind of recoverable state. Assault guns, and artillery; stores for an army bigger than they can man. Eastern Front artillery densities against a demon army would be murderously effective.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-01-31 12:58pm

Sidewinder wrote: Which people and which government?
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Post by Stuart » 2008-01-31 12:59pm

The Duchess of Zeon wrote:You know, the Russians simply never throw things away, and I can't help but imagine that they still have a lot of late-WW2 vintage equipment which was nominally retired in the early to mid 1990s just sitting there in some kind of recoverable state. Assault guns, and artillery; stores for an army bigger than they can man. Eastern Front artillery densities against a demon army would be murderously effective.
There's literally acres of stuff out there; they've still got T-34/85s in storage (properly stored and maintained). In fact they're mentioned in Part Eight coming right now........
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Post by Stuart » 2008-01-31 01:00pm

Muncie, Indiana, United States of America

Muncie was a small town, typical of the American rust belt. Highly religious, conservative, with 65,000 people before the Message and 50,000 after, the city had been ailing even before a quarter of the population had laid down and died. The manufacturing industry had been slowly abandoning the city for decades, leaving it with rusting, overgrown factories, a 23 percent poverty rate, and a hospital and university as the largest employers. The Message had hit the town hard, too as it had most of the rural, conservative American Midwest, leaving the local economy in shambles and even further down the toilet.

Sharon McShurley, newly elected mayor, was sitting at her desk in the Town Hall wondering for the millionth time that day what she was going to do when the telephone rang. She picked it up. “Hello, the Mayor speaking.”

“Mrs. McShurley?” The voice was male and unfamiliar.

“Yes? May I ask who this is?”

“This is Nathan Feltman, Secretary of Commerce for Indiana.”

“Ah, Mr. Feltman. How can I help you?”

“Mrs. McShurley, I was contacted not five hours ago by Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. You know of The Message?”

“Of course.”

“And of the developments in Iraq?”

“Of course. It's been all over the news.” Truth was, she'd been doing little more than watch the news since The Message. There had seemed so little she could do even to regain control over her small town.

“Secretary Gutierrez has informed me that the United States is immediately shifting to a war economy. I don't know how things will work on the military side, but on the economic side, we're going to be ramping up production as fast as possible. I've already spoken with the mayors of Indianapolis, Gary-Hammond, Fort Wayne, Evansville, and Anderson. Do you have a list of production overcapacity and unused assets in Muncie?”

“Yes, we do.” Unemployment was just the single most pressing problem in the city, and had been for thirty years.

“We need to compare our list with yours, and then we'll send the updated version to the US Department of Commerce. They'll be asking corporations to buy them up and get working on military equipment. Given Indiana's central location, rail accessibility, and manufacturing history, we'll be up near the top.”

Feltmann gave McShurley the fax number for the Indiana Department of Commerce, and within twenty minutes, the substantial list of old factories, closed-up warehouses, abandoned rail yards, and defunct properties was on its way to Indianapolis. A half hour and two double-checks later, it was again winging its way through cyberspace to Washington, D.C., where an undersecretary of commerce opened it and copy-pasted its contents into a secure website, open only to the procurement officers of the vast national and international corporations which supplied the US military with its equipment.

The next day, McShurley was in her office when the phone rang again. “Hello?”

“Mayor Sharon McShurley?” Another unfamiliar voice.

“Speaking.”

“This is John Walker, with Borg Warner Automotive. In light of the recent developments, we've decided not to close down the plant in Muncie. Instead, we're retooling it to provide transmissions for tanks.”

“Well, that's certainly happy news. Thank you.”

The man hung up, McShurley got back to her paperwork, and within a half hour the phone rang again. “Hello?”

“Mayor Sharon McShurley of Muncie?”

“Speaking.”

“I'm James Torida of General Dynamics Land Systems. We have acquired an older factory in Muncie to build M1A2 parts, and we would like the cooperation of the local government in finding employees and in renovating and retooling the plant as quickly as possible.”

“We'd love to help in any way we can.”

They discussed the details of the deal for fifteen minutes, then hung up. McShurley heaved a sigh – two in one day! Wow!

The phone rang again fifteen minutes later. It was General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, wanting again cooperation, tax breaks, etc., to get another old plant up and running, this time to manufacture AIM-120C missile casings. McShurley was more than willing to cooperate.

Before business hours ended, three more corporations had called. One wanted to acquire land to build a fourth railroad track south through the city; apparently, it was working on a line south from Chicago to Cincinnati and the Ohio River to supply raw materials from the mines in Minnesota and Ontario down to barges on the Ohio. The second had bought two abandoned warehouses on the south side of Muncie and wanted to open up the old trackyard to the warehouses to help supply the rejuvenated factories. The third was applying for a construction permit for the properties northwest of town that had so recently been slated for urban sprawl.

804 South Tillotson Ave., Muncie, Indiana, USA

Jim Schenkel had been a tool machinist for forty years before being laid off from his long-time job in 2003. He'd elected to retire instead of pursuing another job, and for the past five years he'd followed the same schedule: up at six, drink his coffee, read the morning paper over toast, an egg, and a glass of orange juice, tend his gardens until lunch, eat a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, monitor his investments and piddle around in his workshop until dinner, eat a bowl of soup, then watch the news until 10.

It was 1:30 AM when the phone rang. Groggily, he rolled over, and picked up the receiver on the sixth ring. “Hello?”

“Jim? Jack Roberts here.” Jack Roberts was his old supervisor at the ABB factory, before they'd all been fired and the place shut down.

“Jack? Why the hell are you calling me at –“ he squinted at the clock – “1:30 in the morning?”

“Jim, you're re-hired. We need you in tomorrow morning at 6:30.”

“What the hell's going on, Jack?”

“The factory's been started back up for the war effort. We need all the equipment repaired and retooled; the management wants the lines rolling in a week.”

“... the hell? I'm retired, goddamnit.”

“Like I said, we need you back. To be blunt, Jim, you don't have a choice. We'll send men out to get you if you can't make it on your own.”

“I don't give –“ he stared at the receiver, listening to the audible dial tone.

The next morning, at 6:30, he pulled into the parking lot of the ABB factory on the south side of town, and stared. It was packed with cars, and people were streaming toward the factory. The factory itself was brightly lit; the loading docks were packed with semis, and parts were already starting to form small piles waiting to be taken inside. He parked his car and joined the flow of humanity heading back to work.

That morning, The Star Press headlines read, “Look out, Baldricks! Here comes Muncie!” That day, the Mayor's office received eight more phone calls from corporations, and the first semis and trains started to roll into the city as construction equipment started to move away from the university – which had agreed to put its new dorm on hold for the time being to aid in the war effort – and toward the old, broken-down factories. Overnight, the city had been transformed.

And it wasn't alone. All across the eastern Midwest, the rust belt was being de-oxidized. Surveyors were entering old factories, cleaning companies entering and sweeping up dust, weeds being cleared and broken windows replaced. Lights that hadn't shone for decades were being turned on and replaced; cars were parking in lots that were more grass than gravel and hadn't been touched by tires for thirty years. More and more trains were rolling out of yards and thundering down the immense but ailing network of tracks connecting American cities to each other, and tractor-trailer semis were moving down the highways in huge fleets, carrying piping and wires and tools and other implements of the new war economy.

If Satan could have looked up from Hell and seen this, if he had wanted to learn about his enemies, if he had been capable of comprehending the vast network of the US economy and felt the rage at betrayal coursing through the collective veins of that nation, he might have felt that he was seeing the first traces of life in the resurrection of a giant long dead. But in the next dimension, sitting on his throne, lording over his sulfurous domain, and trying to figure out how fifteen of the senior generals in Abigor's army had spontaneously exploded, these thoughts never even occurred to him. Ignorance is bliss, until the first bombs start dropping.

Moscow, Russia

And these changes were hardly unique to the US. In Russia, Vladimir Putin had immediately accelerated the redevelopment of the military; old factories closed during the economic woes of the 1990s were being reopened, old mines and oil wells were being rechecked for viability. The storage depots and military installations were being searched for equipment, tanks, armored carriers, artillery that had been sitting in storage for a decade or more was being refurbished. New tracks were being laid, and the first of tens of thousands of new T-90S tanks were rolling off the final assembly lines even as he walked toward this meeting, flanked by security forces.

Putin entered the church, and crossed himself before the altar before he turned to the men gathered there, about ten in all: the heads of the Russian mob. He spoke first, taking charge, as always. “Gentlemen. You are not stupid; you know why I've gathered you here today.”

They all nodded with varying degrees of alacrity. Putin continued. “Now, the human species faces a threat greater than anything it has ever faced in its past. We – I and all of you – face not just extinction, but eternal damnation. This is now our reality.” He paused to evaluate what he saw in their faces. Blank, hard, determined – they share the vision, he reminded himself, just like every live human now. “Therefore, in return for amnesty from prosecution for any crimes which may have been committed prior to the Message, I would like to request that all of you cease from any illegal activities in which you may now be engaged.”

There was a small stir in the room. One, a fat man with an unlit cigar drooping from his lips, spoke. “Sir, with all due respect, why do you take us for criminals.”

As he spoke, Putin fixed him with a lidless stare until the other man dropped his gaze. “We are not stupid, you nor I. You know that I called you here today; you know that I am aware of who you all are in actuality and where you may be found. These things are not unknown to the government.”

“Then why are we guaranteed amnesty?”

“Because the fabric of society must not buckle during this war. All of you are hard men; we need such men to help prepare our society for the terrors of a war on the very forces of Hell. And we will need such men to administer the territories of Hell once it has been conquered. I am asking all of you to become respectable, but I am not asking you to lose profits.”

That seemed to seal it for most of them. As he walked away, Putin allowed himself a thin smile. Russia would show the world what she was capable of, and Russia would play her part in fighting eternal damnation now and forever.

The Fifth Circle of Hell

Lieutenant Jade Kim tried to move. She was stretched out on some form of frame, her wrists secured by an iron shackle with a heavy spike driven through the palm of her hands. The pain caused by her moving was severe but that was the least of her problems. She was submerged in a ghastly mass that seemed to be comprised of equal portions of mud, toxic waste and raw sewage, she was drowning in it, only able to breath by the occasional drafts of air as the movement of the foul swamp briefly exposed her face. She had no idea how long she’d been here but she did know she’d be in this place for eternity unless she did something about it. Or, worse, she might be hauled out for another dose of the treatment she’d got when she had arrived. Gang rape was so unimaginative but she knew that if she hadn’t already been dead, the internal damage the baldricks had done would have killed her.

Time for applying the lessons driven home at SERE school. The drill taught by the instructors, Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape. Lesson in part four was that all bonds would loosen in time if worked on. Of course she’d never been nailed down at SERE. The spike through her hand was the first problem, until that was out, she couldn’t do much else. She twisted her hand around, trying to get a grip on the spike, succeeded even though the effort sent waves of pain up her arm. Then she started to rock it from side to side. She had no idea how long she kept trying for, it seemed like forever, but suddenly she was aware the spike was moving slightly with her pressure. Encouraged, she kept up the effort, feeling the motion increasing as the spike worked free. Then, at last, it was loose and she worked it up through her fingers, exquisitely careful not to drop it. Who knew how deep this foul muck was and anything dropped would never be found again.

But, with the spike free, she had a lever at last. Still with painstaking care, she worked it around and pushed it under the iron bracket that held her wrist down. Once more she started to push, levering the bracket away from its frame. In time, it loosened and she took a deep breath. The way she had been taught, she crossed her thumb over the palm of her hand and wrenched. Her hand slid under the shackle, scraping skin off in the process but her arm was free. That made levering the rest of the ironwork off her much, much easier. Her arms and legs freed, she was able to move and she now had four spikes as weapons.

The sight once she got her head out of the muck was grim, some sort of river meandering through the gray, foul-smelling wasteland. Enough to fill anybody with despair which was, she supposed, quite intentional. There were rocky outcrops from the swamp, breaking the featureless plain but they didn’t matter too much right now. She’d survived and escaped, now it was time to evade. She stood, sinking in the foul mess up to her waist, and started to make her way to one of the rocks. It would be a start, but she’d only managed a few feet when she bumped into another cross under the mud. Instinctively, she reached down to clean the filth off the face of the victim.

“Hi ell-tee.” It was McInery, the pilot of Tango-one-five-Charlie.

“Hi Mac. Hold tight. I’ll help you get out of this.” With her spikes as levers, she was able to pry the shackles off quickly. “Salvage the spikes, we’re going to need them.”

She looked around quickly, it suddenly occurred to her that all the members of her unit would probably be close at hand. It didn’t take long to prove that correct and not much longer to get the six members of Recon Team Tango One-Five out.

“You’re out of uniform ell-tee.” McInery noted the fact casually. Kim looked at him and laughed, the first time that sound had been heard here for longer than anybody could remember.

“So are you sergeant.” She reached out and quickly drew three chevrons on his bare arm, using the mud that coated them all. “There, that’s better.”

“You OK ell-tee?” Robinson, her co-pilot on Tango-one-five-Alpha spoke with pity in his voice, another thing that had never been heard for longer than anybody knew.

Kim glanced down, the damage the demons had done to her was obvious, even though the wounds were healing unnaturally fast. “Won’t do much good for my future sex life.” Then her voice caught and shook as the memory quickly overwhelmed her. “It wasn’t the size, it was the barbs.” Then she shook herself. It was gone, past. Now was time for the group to evade.

Only, something else got in the way. Or, to be more precise, the supervisor of this area did. Jarakeflaxis was doing his routine rounds, amusing himself by disemboweling some of the humans choking in the swamp. In truth, he wasn’t paying much attention to his surroundings, he’d been doing this round for millennia. He heard something, that wasn’t unusual, moans, screams wails, all were quite familiar to him. Only this sounded like a human woman yelling “take him down.” Then six figures smacked into him, knocking him over and swarming on top of him.

Jarakeflaxis couldn’t believe it, they were humans. What were free humans doing here? They were slamming metal spiked into him, keeping him pinned down as he floundered in the mud. One of the humans was the woman he and his friends had enjoyed not so long ago. She had a spike in her hand and he could see the gratification in her eyes as she started her swing. Then, he could see nothing because they’d driven their spikes into his eyes and he was blinded.

Kim looked down at the torn, shattered body. Rage, hatred and Krav Maga had killed Jarakeflaxis, killed him dead. So started the Resist bit of SERE. “Well done boys. Get him over to the rock there.”

They dragged the body over, then Kim drove spikes through its hands, crucifying it against the outcrop. Then, she dipped the hand in its green blood and painted four letters over the scene.

“PFLH?” McInery was confused.

“People’s Front for the Liberation of Hell.” Kim grinned savagely. “That’s us boys. Let’s tear this place apart.”

Wadi Al Khirr, Western Iraq
Memnon hissed softly and sniffed the remains of his companions. Groztith and Hezbitari had been flying next to him, soaring on the very ethers of this world savoring the panic and the fear. It was like the sweetest nectar to their refined senses. These monkeys were clever little things, they always had been but who would have imagined they would have come so far as to fly themselves in chariots of steel and plastic? Plastic. Memnon snorted in confusion. What was it? It was hard like metal yet he could divine nothing of the earth from it. No metal, no ore. It had no elemental song within itself, it did not sing, it did not even hum. It was a dead thing this plastic that only told him its name and nothing more.

Yet these chariots of steel and plastic had been so very deadly, yes. Unleashing arrows of fire and steel that tore through ethereal flesh with rude abruptness and unerring accuracy his wing mates were overcome. Groztith barely had time to chant its challenge to the once-born. The arrows tore him into this pool of viscera and smoking bone. Memnon groaned slightly as his ruined left shoulder began throbbing again, ephemeral essence gelling and congealing over the gaping wound where his massive leathery wings had been. The chariots had eyes and they were not fooled.

It had taken all of his will to overcome the pain and panic as another human arrow of steel and fire had pinned him between his once proud wings. Hezbitari was dead as well, the leering face plastered against the cracked tree trunk to his left. The rest of the demonic form was sprayed in a smoldering mess splashed among the tree tops and underbrush. "You're a fool Hezbitari." Memnon growled as he made it up to his cloven hooves and steadied himself. Above him he still heard the chariots roaring triumphantly as they raced away after having circled over his clearing these last few minutes.

His senses smelled the approaching monkeys before he heard them and he licked his lips. He smelled more plastic and steel and he knew they were armed with weapons that wounded far worse than simple steel swords and spears. It did not matter. Briefly, it was like the old days, he had the advantage. He had their minds before they even knew he was there. These ones were not like the others, the ones whose minds seemed shielded by something he couldn’t explain. These ones, the ones in the long robes, were vulnerable still. He held their minds in his hands and carefully formed the image of himself, transparent, invisible in his own. They would see what he wanted them to and that was nothing. He let loose a deep throaty laugh like some predator from this world's bygone days. Memnon liked to play with his food. It was time for his pound of flesh.

The first monkey peered over some underbrush, carefully keeping his crafted spear of plastic and steel before him like a talisman. Memnon stood imperiously, arms crossed and quietly waited as more of them approached, tentative and fearful. Some whispered curses as they saw the charred remains of his wing mates blasted all over the clearing. Several were easily within an arm's length of the never-born as it watched them with cold satisfaction. Twelve of them in all moved in tight formation into the clearing. What an auspicious number, Memnon mused.

Arabic. The language was Arabic. His gift of tongues was perfect as he listened to the monkeys musing and whispering as they examined the remains of his wing brothers. By the time the clouds overhead lifted and the sun shown down on these fields the ephemeral flesh and bone would boil and hiss away. One of them lifted a box to his ears and spoke into it. He could feel the ether sparking around him and trilling with voices. They were communicating over distances without seeing their audience. He had heard of this phenomenon from those who dared venture into this plain. He did not believe it until now.

"Clever little monkeys, you have come far." He finally spoke breaking the silence in perfect flawless Arabic save for the omnipresent low growl that undercut every syllable. Some of the al-Quaeda men whirled around and began firing wildly. They could not see him.

No matter. It was time for his pound of flesh. One of the humans stared dumbly down at his chest as a taloned claw erupted from his chest in a gruesome spray of crimson gore and bone. The soldier's eyes focused on the still beating heart held in the claws like an obscene flower before dimming forever. Memnon shuddered in near orgasmic joy as he felt the passage of the Essence through him and into the depths of his realm. The fallen soldier’s fellows screamed incomprehensibly in a panic, some fumbling for grenades and others were firing into the smoky form dancing along the edges of their perceptions. They heard the guttural chant of challenge from their unseen attacker and some of them found their bowels turned to water and fear gripped them as surely as the talon gripped the hapless soldier's heart. They had come to set up another roadside bomb, to strike another blow at the satans who had invaded earth but it was they who had been ambushed. Memnon's eyes rolled into the back of his head like a Great White Sharks' revealing black within black eyes, lifeless, like a doll's eyes, and he descended upon the children of Seth and ravaged them as only the never-born could with divine fury and hunger. Their screams could be heard for kilometers and then there was only a sudden still silence.

Commendations to Surlethe who wrote the first part of this section and to Stravo who wrote the last. Well and nobly done guys!
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Post by MKSheppard » 2008-01-31 01:22pm

Oh god hell being run by russian mafyia? You sadist, you. :D

One point though; on those factories in the midwest; how well preserved are they, or are they just gutted shells? Also, how are their floors? Did they manage to retain their stability? IIRC, Hipper (who was a aerospace mold maker for McDonnell) told me stories about how they had to spend an hour zeroing and levelling their equipment each morning, because management had decided to put their division in a building with very thin slab floors.
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Post by The Vortex Empire » 2008-01-31 03:05pm

I wonder how PFLHs efforts will turn out. Seems the baldricks can be killed easily enough.

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Post by Alferd Packer » 2008-01-31 03:19pm

The Vortex Empire wrote:I wonder how PFLHs efforts will turn out. Seems the baldricks can be killed easily enough.
I just hope it doesn't become a fractious movement. Before you know it, you'd have the Hell Liberation Popular People's Front, the People's Social Front of Liberation from Hell, the Hell Liberation Front of the People... ;)
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Post by Starglider » 2008-01-31 03:21pm

Stuart wrote:We have acquired an older factory in Muncie to build M1A2 parts
It'll be interesting to see what systems are ommitted, as irrelevant for fighting this enemy. Certainly I suspect the DU armour is fairly pointless against claws and teeth, indeed plain RHA is probably just as good as composite armour against these foes and considerably easier to make.
The Fifth Circle of Hell
Dante had some supernatural inspiration then? I suppose that follows if you're using material from other dark age demonologists. I guess we'll find out how literal this name is (in geographic terms) when the aerial surveillence gets going. The river could be a tributary of the Styx, but the traditional sin for being immersed in it is slothfulness, which doesn't seem to apply here. Most likely the idea of souls in hell being segregated by their sins is pure fabrication, since it's unlikely doing so would benefit the demons in any way, but there may be particularly high security zones for known psychopaths and the like, which could be the kernel of truth behind the myth.
Kim glanced down, the damage the demons had done to her was obvious, even though the wounds were healing unnaturally fast.
That appears to confirm the 'supernatural resiliance and fast healing' theory, not the 'die repeatedly with resurrection' theory. So no indiscriminate nuking of hell (at least, once the human leadership finds out). Still, if the demons make a habit of forming up in huge numbers on nice level parade grounds, they have to be in for a tacnuke or two once those sites are under regular surveillance by Northrop Grumman HellHawks.
One of the humans was the woman he and his friends had enjoyed not so long ago.
I confess to some curiosity about the demon's gender ratio. We've got a strong implication (from 'relatives on the parade stand' and the fact they're gendered at all) that they engage in sexual reproduction. However AFAIK Deumos and Sheba are the only female demons we've seen so far, and there's a weak implication here that all of the supervisors/torturers are male too. If so either the gender ratio is extremely biased or all the female demons are off farming or building or making things. I can't imagine they'd be spending much time on childcare, given the low reproduction rate implied by the stable population size and minimal yearly mortality.
Groztith barely had time to chant its challenge to the once-born.
ravaged them as only the never-born could
Ah, the 'trickle out hints about the cosmology' strategy. With this episodic delivery, more fun for the reader than big blocks of exposition - possibly moreso for the writers too, considering how much guessing it prompts.
He had their minds before they even knew he was there. These ones were not like the others, the ones whose minds seemed shielded by something he couldn’t explain.
It would appear that;
a) Tin-foil hats are inexplicable magic to demons.
b) No one bothered to tell Al-Quaeda about them, or if they did they didn't listen.

I find this rather amusing.
One of them lifted a box to his ears and spoke into it. He could feel the ether sparking around him and trilling with voices. They were communicating over distances without seeing their audience. He had heard of this phenomenon from those who dared venture into this plain. He did not believe it until now.
We're going to have to get some EW specialists down to Gitmo to figure out how to jam and/or spoof this (if they aren't there already). It doesn't seem to be as easy to stun them with EW as it does with sonar; locking misile targetting radar onto them doesn't do the trick. That said there should be some ADS units (the microwave system that makes crowds feel like their skin is on fire) over in Iraq, turning one of those on a demon could be interesting. It's true that if you're close enough to do that, you're also close enough to shoot them, but for charging waves of the big demons there might be some value in stunning them before you start pouring shells into them.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-01-31 04:06pm

I find it difficult to believe that there isn't already an established group of escaped survivors in Hell. People who both don't believe they deserve it and who wouldn't be broken by the experience of realizing the supernatural is true. That means areligious individuals of immense willpower who must be capable of confronting the existence of something they did not believe in, and acting against it. I would say that the only class of individuals like that would probably be, ironically, Old Guard Bolsheviks and Long March veterans, seeing as large-scale atheism is a fairly recent development, but most communists probably don't have the sheer willpower to function after finding out hell is real, let alone react rationally. Lots of intellectuals and individuals of random incredible willpower and immense conviction in personality as well, of course. But there must be tens or even hundreds of thousands of individuals who have escaped, with a continually increasing number in the 20th century--not long enough for the masters of Hell to realize there is a problem, considering the timespans they think in.
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Post by White Haven » 2008-01-31 04:19pm

The rough spot is that after an individual cracks under the torture, and it'll happen, effective resistance ceases to be an option. In fact, to explain how easy that escape was to pull off (a lot of soldiers have died in the past...) I'd guess that a bunch of overseers and guards were pulled off to invade Earth.
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Post by Beowulf » 2008-01-31 04:45pm

Only 60 out of 10k legions got pulled off for the invasion. It's unlikely that that small of an amount leaving would change anything. On the other hand, until recently, there's not really any point in resisting. You die, go to hell, and get tortured for eternity. Escaping might cause a temporary relent in the torture, but when you get caught, you get singled out for more abuse.

Now, it's all different. Escape, and you might be able to go back home. Or help those back home. Something to note about this situation is that normally torture has a point. The torturers want to gain something from them. In this case, the torture is the point.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-01-31 04:55pm

Beowulf wrote:Only 60 out of 10k legions got pulled off for the invasion. It's unlikely that that small of an amount leaving would change anything. On the other hand, until recently, there's not really any point in resisting. You die, go to hell, and get tortured for eternity. Escaping might cause a temporary relent in the torture, but when you get caught, you get singled out for more abuse.

Now, it's all different. Escape, and you might be able to go back home. Or help those back home. Something to note about this situation is that normally torture has a point. The torturers want to gain something from them. In this case, the torture is the point.
Still, getting caught may be very difficult indeed, if there are 120 billion + individuals in Hell and only 10 billion demons.

Furthermore, I was speculating on, say, around 200,000 or so people who have escaped, remain escaped, and successfully in hiding. Out of a population of 120 billion in Hell, that isn't just expected, it's almost mandatory. You cannot have a system with 100% efficiency, and that would mean that Hell is at least (since we're not counting aliens) 99.9998% efficient at keeping people in eternal torture. Considering the ease with which the pilots escaped, do you really think .0002% of the inmates would not have the will, motivation, sanity, and capability to escape and remain escaped?
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2008-01-31 05:15pm

Stuart wrote: New tracks were being laid, and the first of tens of thousands of new T-90S tanks were rolling off the final assembly lines even as he walked toward this meeting, flanked by security forces.
Those should be T-90A model tanks, T-90S is the export model for India with 3.5 tons less armor.

Setesh wrote: That's more of a case of shitty russian rocket design and manufacturing than anything else. If someone else with higher quality control and better facilities redesigned and manufactured the rockets it would become a more viable weapon system. Germany would be a nice candidate.
Russia has by far the best thermobaric weapons, and all current US thermobaric weapons are based off technology bought from Russia. Low reliability is simply a trait of large thermobaric warheads, and it makes ones using liquid or gas fuels almost useless (TOS-1 and other modern ones use a solid fuel in powdered form)

The fuel must mix near perfectly with the air to function, and the larger you make the warhead the harder it is to make that happen with reliability. Since you can’t adjust the warhead dispersion pattern for varying weather conditions, low reliability is what you’re stuck with unless the wind blows just like it did on the proving ground. This is why you don’t see billions of thermobaric weapons all over the place, despite the fact that they offer so much more firepower against soft and semi hard targets compared to normal explosives.
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Post by Fleet Admiral JD » 2008-01-31 05:38pm

I must say, I've been reading this since the beginning. Really, I have no comments to make, but I know how nice it feels to get compliments, so. Seriously, a truly awesome job, Stuart. I'm really enjoying the mix of modern-day arms with mythological beings. I can't wait for the next chapter, and I check here every day.

Well done indeed. :)
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Post by Starglider » 2008-01-31 05:46pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Stuart wrote: New tracks were being laid, and the first of tens of thousands of new T-90S tanks were rolling off the final assembly lines even as he walked toward this meeting, flanked by security forces.
Those should be T-90A model tanks, T-90S is the export model for India with 3.5 tons less armor.
Is the T-90S cheaper/faster to make? Would the extra armour actually make any difference versus demons?

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Post by Typhonis 1 » 2008-01-31 05:48pm

Other reas to keep an eye on for possible Balderick incursion.

The Bermuda triangle and the Dragons triangle in the Pacific. In fact the leviathans could have come from those areas to begin qith sincenthey are mostly water.
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Post by White Haven » 2008-01-31 05:49pm

My thinking on the drawdown of the overseer force wasn't so much that it depleted the overall numbers available, but that Hell's government is very hierarchial and feudal in nature, and these particular torture pits are housing those killed by the legions that own them, and those legions are on Earth right now.
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Post by White Haven » 2008-01-31 05:53pm

Typhonis's point just brought up the beautiful mental image of Leviathans coming through straight into the teeth of a prepositioned ASW screen. :)
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2008-01-31 05:57pm

Starglider wrote:
Is the T-90S cheaper/faster to make? Would the extra armour actually make any difference versus demons?
Well I have no idea just what armor they deleted (my guess would be the various secret bits of the composite protection), nor just how strong the various demons are going to be in close combat, so I couldn’t answer that one.

If the Russians really wanted to produce an economy tank, they’d probably simplify it a lot more then just reducing armor. I don’t see the need for new built economy tanks though; they’ve got hoards of old vehicles they can throw into action already as Slade has already mentioned. If you really wanted more mobile guns at the lowest possible cost, then you could just take a big truck and mount a 122mm howitzer on it, with a simple gun shield and 40 gallon vodka barrel.
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Post by Sidewinder » 2008-01-31 06:11pm

To Mr. Slade: so you were referring to the Thai military and its government?

Considering what was done to her, I'm surprised Broomstick didn't castrate the demon.

Some questions. Is the US going to put the M1 series tanks back in production, or is that no longer possible? What about gun control? With millions of demons running around, able to appear anywhere, I imagine a LOT of people in a LOT of places will demand self-defense weapons.
Please do not make Americans fight giant monsters.

Those gun nuts do not understand the meaning of "overkill," and will simply use weapon after weapon of mass destruction (WMD) until the monster is dead, or until they run out of weapons.

They have more WMD than there are monsters for us to fight. (More insanity here.)

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