Armageddon???? (Part Fifty Up)

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Stuart
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Post by Stuart » 2008-02-09 06:33pm

Su-30MKI Tiger Group Leader over the Al Badiyah Al Janubiyah, Western Iraq

The world rotated around Wing Commander Gurka as his Su-30 hit the top of its climb and he rolled smoothly over. The survivors of the massacre were far below him, their bodies barely visible. His radar could see them though, he’d lost them as he’d climbed out but now he’d re-acquired. The devastating missile salvoes had destroyed hundreds of the harpies, their bodies dissolving in fire as the missiles ripped into them. Once there had been so many that they’d swamped the memory on the radars but now, the situation was clearly defined. There were barely two targets left for each of the allied fighters and Gurka had already killed one of his. He’d picked his target for the next pass already, one harpy flying west, its nerve broken, running for its life.

It didn’t stand a chance. Gurka pushed his throttles over and went after it in a long, smooth dive. His gun-sight carat showed the predicted impact point of his cannon burst, it was sliding towards the harpy, the diamond embracing its back. Then, it turned red and Gurka squeezed the trigger, blasting burst of 30mm armor-piercing incendiary ammunition into the harpy’s body. For a second or so, nothing happened although Gurka could swear that he saw lumps of black flesh flying off the body. Then it flared into orange fire, burning and spinning for the desert floor.

“Tiger Group, time to go home. Call your boys off Tiger Leader, the squids want to play.”

Gurka looked around. Already the American F-15s were heading south, their missile racks empty. “Acknowledged.”

“Head for Dingbat Tiger Group,” Gurka mentally translated that. Dezful. “Some Russian transports have landed with missile reloads for you. Good luck and don’t mix with any naughty ladies.”

“All Tiger aircraft, break off, head for dingbat.” Gurka looked hard to the west. There was a black cloud approaching. “Eagle Eye, contacts to the west.”

“We have the Tiger Group Leader. More harpies, covering the ground force main body. Sea Eagle Group will be handling them. Out.”

The out had a definitive note to it. The Su-30s were out of missiles and very low on cannon ammunition. Eagle Eye up there in his AWACS wasn’t interested in them any more. His attention was steering the group of F/A-18s from the three carriers offshore into the new harpy cloud.

Headquarters of Merafawlazes, Commander, Northern Flank, Abigor’s Army

“The cavalry have gone!”

“They’re through then. Order the flies to pursue the humans and cut them up on the way. The infantry will follow through. Advance on this place the humans call Kirkuk. Ravage it, Abigor will be pleased.”

“No, Noble master.” The messenger dropped to his knees and crawled across the floor to Merafawlazes hooves. “I must tell you, the cavalry have not broken the humans. The cavalry are dead. All of them. The humans killed them all with their magic.”

“What is this insanity? Humans do not have magic.” Merafawlazes’s voice dropped to a menacing growl. “This is not a good time to jest.”

It never was thought Falabrednowsa. Being a messenger was a very chancy and dangerous profession, especially where the recipient of the message was a Duke. They’d been known to eat messengers who brought bad news. “Sire, I fear to contradict you.”

“Good.” Merafawlazes interjected the comment with silky menace.

“But the humans do have magic. They have used it against the cavalry. They can call down thunder from the sky and drown their enemies in fire. They have destroyed our cavalry. It is a horrible sight, our cavalrymen dead on the ground torn to pieces by the fire, the surviving beasts on the ground screaming with pain as they die.” Merafawlazes attention was drawn by a thunder in the skies overhead, a roll of thunder followed by a deafening, hideous scream. “Sire, that is the war-cry of the humans in their sky chariots. A great battle is raging while we speak, the flies fight for their lives against the sky chariots. There is magic there too, the humans throw burning spears that never miss.”

“Our flies do well against them?”

The answer had better be yes was the reply running through Falabrednowsa’s mind. But he was a messenger and it was his duty to speak the truth. “No Sire, they die as the cavalry died. The human sky chariots are so much faster than they are. Our enemies cannot hear them come for the cowards give their battle cry only after they have launched an attack. They travel faster than the wind, they climb faster than any of us have ever seen before. They afraid to fight us in honorable combat so they kill by the hundred with their fire spears without ever coming close. Then, they sit above our fliers and dive on them like hawks. Our flies are worse than helpless against them.”

Merafawlazes grunted and turned his attention to the parchment map on the table before him. It wasn’t much help, it just showed the positions of the cities and his best guess at the locations of his troops. Why had the humans chosen to fight here? There was nothing important to fight for here, the nearest great cities were far away. All there was here were these rolling hills with the strange black strips the humans built across them. As he stared at the map, Merafawlazes got the feeling he was missing something very important.

Twenty minutes later, Merafawlazes strode out of his tent, towards the commanders of his remaining legions. Overhead, the sky was covered with strange, crisscrossing white clouds, although he didn’t know it, the contrails from the F-16C Vipers of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group. The Lawn Dart pilots had, to put it mildly, been having a field day. Merafawlazes didn’t know and didn’t care, he had more important things to think about. “Get the Legions moving forward, all of them. Two waves, seven and seven. Tell all the infantry, the suffering of those who hang back will be legendary even for hell.” Merafawlazes picked a piece of Falabrednowsa’s flesh from his teeth. He’d finally worked out what he had been missing. Breakfast.

The Royal Dragoon Guards, Al Badiyah Al Janubiyah, Western Iraq

“Isn’t this what they call a target-rich environment?” And that, Guardsman Bass thought, was the understatement of the century. The first wave of the enemy attack had been smashed, it had died on the mines and razor wire, the few survivors had been torn apart by the artillery. That had seemed like a victory until the whole horizon had turned black with enemy infantry. The enemy line was almost 10 kilometers long, the rising sun glittering gold off their bronze tridents. It was a terrifying sight, one that told Bass just as surely as if he could look into the mind of the enemy commander himself that the baldricks had never seen wire and minefields before.

‘Look into the mind of the commander’. Bass rolled the words over in his mind. It would come, it would come. The ability of the baldricks to enter people’s minds and create illusions had been a nasty surprise but it had been discovered. Once something was discovered, it could be investigated and measured. That meant it could be understood and one the scientists understood something they could duplicate it. Once the scientists had duplicated it, the engineers would take that work and turn it into practical tools. Once the engineers had created the practical tools, the armorers would turn those tools into weapons. And once the weapons were available, the soldiers would use them. That was the way it had always been, that was the way it would be now.

Bass lased the enemy line, waited a carefully measured ten seconds then lased it again. The computer in the tank thought for a microscopic second, then translated the two readings into a speed readout, one that made Bass raise his eyebrows a second. “Right lads, they’re advancing at 15 kay-pee-aitch. The brass better know about that.” Another guiding human principle, Bass had no doubt the same piece of data was being transmitted in by dozens of other tank commanders but it was better for an important piece of data to be transmitted a thousand times than never transmitted at all because everybody thought everybody else had done so. The fact that baldricks on foot could move three times faster than a human was very important.

Third Legion, Southern Flank, Abigor’s Army

Krykojanklawas jogged forward, most of his attention devoted to the enemy in front, the rest to the leader of his contubernium. Like most of his fellow demons in the ranks, he was holding his tripod underarm, the points angled upwards so he didn’t stab the demon in front. There might be time for that later. He and his fellows were lucky, the ground in front of them was clear, they wouldn’t have to pass through the hideous scene where the human magic had destroyed the cavalry legion. Word that the humans had magic had spread through the ranks like wildfire, the stories growing with each retelling. They could make the ground rise up and swallow their enemies, the stones come alive and crush their victims. They could conjure up snakes from the ground that would wrap themselves around their prey and slice them apart. That story was true, Krykojanklawas decided, he could see the great circular holes in the ground where the snakes had come from.

He could see something else, the ground ahead of him was littered with strange-looking bars, painted gray-yellow so they were hard to see against the sand and rock. There were a lot of them though. Curiously, Krykojanklawas glanced to one side, there were a lot fewer where the cavalry had ridden to its death. Even as he watched, a demon in the front rank stepped on one of the bars and the explosion threw him in the air, spraying yellow body fluid as his legs spiraled away from his body. The bars were human magic, Krykojanklawas realized the truth as additional explosions added their noise to the death toll that was already far higher than the Greater Demons had expected. He didn’t care much about the expectations of the Greater Demons though, what he did understand was that stepping on the bars was death. He’d heard about human explosives, how they could blast even a Lesser Demon apart so that all that remained was stains and rags of flesh. If they could do that to a Lesser Demon, what could they do to a Minor Demon like him? Krykojanklawas had just seen the answer and it didn’t please him.

So there were a lot fewer bars where the cavalry had died? Krykojanklawas did the obvious and started to edge sideways, being careful not to step on the bars, heading for where the ground was just littered with the scraps of flesh and mutilated bodies of beasts and their riders. All along the ranks of the legions, the other demons were starting to do the same.

The Royal Dragoon Guards, Al Badiyah Al Janubiyah, Western Iraq
“Here they go….” Bass watched with interest. There had been a ripple of explosions as the advancing horde reached the outer edge of the minefield and the first victims stepped on the bar mines. The mines had been intended for anti-tank work but their fuses had been adjusted so they’d be set off by much lesser pressures. That had worked, a handful of baldricks had died but the rest were starting to funnel in towards the area partially cleared by the cavalry charge. Bass lased them again, the advance had slowed right down as the baldricks tried to pick their way through the minefield. Poor sods. Bass thought, he could almost feel it in his heart to be sorry for them. Almost, but not quite.

Watching through the high-powered optics of his Challenger II, Bass could see the ranks of baldricks stretching, bucking and surging. He knew what would be happening in there, the NCOs and officers trying to prevent the lines drifting into the cleared zone, trying to force the baldricks to keep moving straight ahead, accepting the losses from the minefield. Idly, he wondered what the Iranian division was thinking, hidden far off to the left, but doubtless watching what was happening. He’d heard they’d cleared minefields by marching infantry through them. Looked like the baldricks were doing the same.

Overhead, Bass heard the scream of shells. “Outbound,” the sound easily distinguishable from the ominous “Inbound”. He wondered quickly how long it would be before the baldricks learned to tell the difference. He looked again through the optics, seeing the shells impact on the mass of baldricks hung up on the flanks of the cavalry graveyard. The artillery forward observers were doing their job, directing the artillery in on the flanks, trying to compress the advancing army into a huddled mass. That was happening already in the graveyard, the baldricks lucky enough to be facing that area were moving in but the ones to either side were sliding in also and the resulting congestion was slowing their movement to a crawl. The spams called this “shaping the battlefield”, a typically melodramatic term in Bass’s opinion but descriptive enough.

Anti-Aircraft Battery, Brigadier Carlson’s Headquarters, Al Badiyah Al Janubiyah, Western Iraq

“There are satans approaching. Raid count 20.” The Iranian Lieutenant rapped the report out in Farsi, then translated to English for the benefit of Sergeant Major Harper. “Prepare to engage.”

“With respect, Lieutenant, might I suggest we wait for a short while and let the situation develop?”

The Iranian frowned slightly, more from curiosity than annoyance. “Sergeant, we have modernized Osa-M missiles here. We have more than 20 kilometers of range.”

Harper settled back slightly. He’d been expecting some of the harpies to leak through the fighter screen, no fighter cover in history had managed to eliminate the threat of just one or two survivors getting past. The sheer numbers of harpies had meant more than that would although this was a larger group that he’d expected. “Lieutenant,” Harper’s voice was very quiet so nobody else could overhear, “how long have you been in the Army.”

“Three years Sergeant.”

“I’ve been serving my Queen for twenty. Let me give you a little advice. We blast those harpies now, when they’re 20 kilometers away and the brass will think our job is easy and move us somewhere dangerous. Now, we wait until they’re five kilometers away and the brass is really sweating, then blast them, we get to be heroes, get a commendation and possibly even a three-day pass. And we get to keep this nice soft billet.

“Ahhh.” The Lieutenant was impressed and a felt a little honored at receiving such a free gift of valuable expertise. Truly there was much a young officer could learn from a veteran such as this. “We will hold fire until… five kilometers?””

Harper nodded fractionally so the officer gave the orders to his men, adding the explanation he’d been given as if it was his own idea. He could see his men nodding as the logic appealed to them.

At five kilometers, the four Osa-M missile launchers opened fire, pushing 24 missiles at the 20 harpies now closing in on the base. One harpy made it past the missiles only to be sawn apart in mid-air as the ZSU-23/4s caught it in a crossfire.

Back in the battery command vehicle, the telephone rang. Carlson’s voice was on the other end. “Well done Lieutenant, that was a getting us a little worried. I’ll send a commendation to General Zolfaghari.” He paused slightly. “You left it a bit late didn’t you?”

“Needed to get a proper tactical picture Sir. We’ve only six ready rounds on each launcher and I didn’t want to get caught reloading.” Out of the corner of his eye, the Lieutenant saw Harper giving him a discrete sign of approval.

“Very wise.” Carlson paused for a second. “We gave you Sergeant-Major Harper as liaison didn’t we? Please tell him I would like a few words with him later.”

Local 3751, ATK Medium Caliber Systems, Mesa, Arizona

“Look, it's like this see. The plant is going to triple shift work whether we like it or not. We’ve talked with the bosses and this is what we’ve come up with. Morning shift from 6am to 2pm. Afternoon shift from 2pm until 10pm. Graveyard shift from 10pm until 6am. Graveyard pays double time. Shifts switch around monthly so everybody gets a crack at the double time.”

“What about weekends?”

“Forget them. Everybody works four days on, one day off. That’ll be staggered so there’s a full shift working the plan all the time. 24/7.”

“Four days on, one day off? That’s not fair.”

“Shadap Al, the boys on the front line don’t get one in five off, why should we.” A mutter of agreement ran around the room.

“What happens if we don’t approve the deal?”

“Mexicans. Or the Army gets the sub-munitions from Israel. Or wherever. Anyway, I’ll put it to the vote. All those for accepting the management offer?” Hands went up all over the room. “And against?” A scattering of hands, mostly those the organizer recognized as those who voted against everything. “It’s carried. New arrangements start tomorrow. Management will tell you which shift you’re starting on and your day off.”

A few hundred yards away, another meeting was being held. One where the worker’s spouses were being gathered. Once it would have been an all-women gathering, these days a few men were there as well.

“So that’s the new arrangements. Look, the guys on the production lines are going to be working their asses off, they don’t need to be worried about problems at home. So if there is a problem, deal with it, don’t go whining. If you can’t deal with it, see us here at the Union. We can help. Above all that, help each other. You older women, you’ve been through this before. You know the problems the young mothers will face, be there for them. Even if its just baby-sitting so she can get out of the house and have some peace for an hour, do it. Watch out for the oldsters as well, nobody will be around as much as they were so we all have to look out for each other. We know nobody else will. Don’t think some guardian angel will be looking out because we know they’re the enemy as well now.”

Across America and the world the same meetings were being held, the same messages given. Under them all was another simple, deeper message. The whole world was at war.
Nations do not survive by setting examples for others
Nations survive by making examples of others

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Post by brianeyci » 2008-02-09 07:06pm

That story was true, Krykojanklawas decided, he could see the great circular holes in the ground where the snakes had come from.
This part is the best. Some demons are bright enough to walk through the part the calvary cleared, but aren't so smart they can suddenly answer out-of-context problems. The shell craters might as well be snake holes.

Though it might not be smart or bright rather than a different kind of thinking. You certainly could think the other way -- walk where people haven't died thinking that's the safe way and get blown up by fresh mines.

Merafawlazes is pretty much a moron who should die. Abigor should make it back to the portal; he's smart enough to be in hiding. In my opinion the story should reward characters who think with reason and notice things, and if I was Abigor my first reaction would be maybe the human magic doesn't work in Hell. My second reaction would be, more information necessary to beat the humans. Abigor knows the only victories he's had against humans were the helicopters, so he'd probably want to capture a human somehow (maybe Al Quaeda or civilians) and torture information out of one.

Also, Abigor needs human prisoners for Satan if he isn't going to get executed for his failure. With a few human prisoners he could spin it as a victory. Without he's finished.
Last edited by brianeyci on 2008-02-09 07:08pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2008-02-09 07:07pm

Awesome. I wonder how many mexicans are left to do the labor, though? Without religious doctrine, I'd think alot of the poor in latin america would be rioting in the streets.

Also, what's happening to church assets worldwide? Did countries just nationalize/annex all church lands, or what?
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Post by Sidewinder » 2008-02-09 07:16pm

I imagine the sight of massed infantry is a big red sign saying, "BOMB HERE." Will the tankers get some air support, or are the fighters all tasked with destroying the harpies?
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 Androsphinx » 2008-02-09 07:26pm

During the Penking Expedition of 1860, at the battle of Sinho (such as it was), the Chinese thought that the front rank of British infantry were kneeling to pay homage, and were shocked at the treachery when they opened fire. While the number of malign paradigm shifts is extremely high, it'd be nice to see something like that happen deliberately. Up till now, we haven't really seen active exploitation of the demons' cultural blindspots (probably because they haven't had to).
"what huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx originally carven to represent? Accursed is the sight, be it in dream or not, that revealed to me the supreme horror - the Unknown God of the Dead, which licks its colossal chops in the unsuspected abyss, fed hideous morsels by soulless absurdities that should not exist" - Harry Houdini "Under the Pyramids"

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Post by Starglider » 2008-02-09 07:35pm

Solid chapter.
brianeyci wrote:Though it might not be smart or bright rather than a different kind of thinking. You certainly could think the other way -- walk where people haven't died thinking that's the safe way and get blown up by fresh mines.
I'm sure some demons did, the story just didn't follow them, because establishing that yes demons do have some limited ability to adapt to human weapons/tactics was more important.
Merafawlazes is pretty much a moron who should die. Abigor should make it back to the portal; he's smart enough to be in hiding.
Frankly any differences in what we've seen of them so far could be more readily ascribed to circumstances rather than character. In reality, the single most common human cognitive bias is overemphasing character for strangers and overemphasing circumstances for themselves (and close friends). There's some justification for it in stories, because authors tend to select circumstances to illustrate character, but still we don't know that Abigor wouldn't have eaten the messenger and ordered the charge, and for all we know Merafawlazes could be as contemplative as we saw Abigor being if we'd caught him at a quieter moment.
In my opinion the story should reward characters who think with reason and notice things,
I think it will. The author's usual style is 'set up initial conditions, infer what will happen, narrate the most interesting and thematically relevant bits' - which is more realistic than 'choose set-pieces, then invent connecting narrative'. Since reality rewards perception and reasoning, a story aiming to be realistic (within its premises) pretty much will by default.
and if I was Abigor my first reaction would be maybe the human magic doesn't work in Hell.
Yours, but not necessarily his. This would be an obvious intuition if the demon's powers change depending on whether they're on hell or earth. Right now we don't know if the undead human's regenerative abilities are the result of being in hell, or just due to their reincarnation process. If Abigor's used to everything but the weather working the same on the planets he's been to, this would be a less likely assumption.
My second reaction would be, more information necessary to beat the humans.
I imagine he's never had to do significant intelligence gathering before. This is a total world view break for him; not only has he personally never lost to a 'lower' species, as far as they know this has never happened to any demon ever. It wasn't supposed to be possible. However the demons clearly do fight each other (and possibly the angels) from time to time and Abigor may be able to draw on his experience here.

I'd say the real measure of how much clue he has is how quickly he switches from thinking of humans as pathetic cattle to thinking of humans as a group of hostile peers; dishonourable and physically puny no doubt, but a people with a deadly hate for his kind, not uncomprehending livestock. I imagine many demons won't manage to make this mental leap before they're killed.
Abigor knows the only victories he's had against humans were the helicopters, so he'd probably want to capture a human somehow (maybe Al Quaeda or civilians) and torture information out of one.
Probably, but there are lots of humans to torture back in hell, and he doesn't yet appreciate the importance of really fresh intelligence. Escape will likely take priority.
Also, Abigor needs human prisoners for Satan if he isn't going to get executed for his failure. With a few human prisoners he could spin it as a victory. Without he's finished.
Frankly I can't see how he's going to spin losing >95% (probably >99%) of his force as a victory no matter what happens. It would still be the first defeat in hell's history even if his forces had managed to devestate the whole middle east.
Androsphinx wrote:While the number of malign paradigm shifts is extremely high, it'd be nice to see something like that happen deliberately. Up till now, we haven't really seen active exploitation of the demons' cultural blindspots (probably because they haven't had to).
More likely because the interrogations still haven't produced enough useful info yet. It's going to take time to break the demons, drag information out of them, filter out the fabrications, assemble it into a coherent picture of hell, devise psychological strategies, test them and then advise forward commanders. Several months at best I would imagine, though there should be some rough guesses and useful titbits coming out of NeoGitmo rather sooner.

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Post by brianeyci » 2008-02-09 08:18pm

Starglider wrote:Frankly I can't see how he's going to spin losing >95% (probably >99%) of his force as a victory no matter what happens. It would still be the first defeat in hell's history even if his forces had managed to devestate the whole middle east.
He can spin it as sacrificing his troops to capture a powerful human warlord. It could be the first defeat in Hell's history versus foreign forces, but who needs to know that? Obviously demons helped the humans and that's how they had magic and won. It could be seen as a Hell vs Hell.

If Satan doesn't care about the rank and file, Abigor could spin it. Especially if Abigor privately confers with Satan and explains human magic. If Satan doesn't see Abigor as a liar, he should realize he needs Abigor.

When there's actual war, even insane dictators respect the skills of their generals. Stalin didn't execute Zhukov despite Zhukov's obvious threat and riding the white horse in because he needed him (even after the war was over prime time to dispose of Zhukov), and Hitler didn't execute his Generals who lost unless they actively plotted against him. Well Hitler started micromanaging the war, but that was after the German General Staff blew it in... I don't remember the name of the Battle but I remember an officer saying to Hitler "who the fuck cares if we attack this city in the middle of nowhere" and Hitler goes "I know it sickens me to my stomach" but Hitler still went along with his Generals.

So it all depends on whether Abigor can talk to Satan and tell him the situation without embarassing Satan.

EDIT : Another point,
Frankly any differences in what we've seen of them so far could be more readily ascribed to circumstances rather than character. In reality, the single most common human cognitive bias is overemphasing character for strangers and overemphasing circumstances for themselves (and close friends). There's some justification for it in stories, because authors tend to select circumstances to illustrate character, but still we don't know that Abigor wouldn't have eaten the messenger and ordered the charge, and for all we know Merafawlazes could be as contemplative as we saw Abigor being if we'd caught him at a quieter moment.
No, Abigor is definitely smarter. He realized from the beginning it was stupid to keep the portal open -- if he saw the humans as zero threat it wouldn't have entered his mind. He also survived the decapitation strikes and saw his commanders who survived as the ones who didn't unfurl their banners. He also was not present in the front command group when they got obliterated by the helicopters.

Also, the messenger mentioned "Dukes" have a tendency to execute people. Duke sounds like someone in the middle of the nobility, very high but there through heriditary means. But you can only get so far executing people who give you information, and eventually you hit a stone wall somewhere in the middle of command where the brass will refuse to promote any further. This is probably why the "Duke Merafawlazes" is stuck commanding a puny legion rather than an army, while people who reward their minions eventually achieve greater success and get to command an army like Abigor. Merafawlazes hit the invisible wall of competence versus cronyism in the military, which as far as I know is present even in peacetime militaries. Hence Stuart's defense of General Patraeus.

In short it seems Abigor is already superior to Merafawlazes.
Last edited by brianeyci on 2008-02-09 08:39pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Burak Gazan » 2008-02-09 08:29pm

Sidewinder wrote:I imagine the sight of massed infantry is a big red sign saying, "BOMB HERE." Will the tankers get some air support, or are the fighters all tasked with destroying the harpies?
*sniffs

"Smells like an Arc Light to me , boys"

:lol:
"Of course, what would really happen is that in Game 7, with the Red Sox winning 20-0 in the 9th inning, with two outs and two strikes on the last Cubs batter, a previously unseen meteor would strike the earth, instantly and forever wiping out all life on the planet, and forever denying the Red Sox a World Series victory..."

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Post by Starglider » 2008-02-09 08:32pm

brianeyci wrote:He can spin it as sacrificing his troops to capture a powerful human warlord.
Anyone they capture for that purpose is going to have their tinfoil ripped off and some serious mind probery going on. It would have to be someone damn impressive to be even marginally convincing. Who exactly is Abigor likely to catch that would make a convincing 'powerful warlord'?
Obviously demons helped the humans and that's how they had magic and won. It could be seen as a Hell vs Hell.
I suppose if any disgraced demon lords managed to make it out of hell alive and with their retinues at some point in the past, he could try for a 'rebel demon lord X was secretly helping the humans prepare defences all this time, and is planning to use them as pawns to challenge Satan'. That might work but he still lost and such weakness is usually rewarded with death in hell (see; assassination as an accepted method of advancement).
If Satan doesn't care about the rank and file, Abigor could spin it. Especially if Abigor privately confers with Satan and explains human magic. If Satan doesn't see Abigor as a liar, he should realize he needs Abigor.
It's possible, but frankly I'm expecting it to take a few more disasters before Satan really gets it. The best I expect for Abigor is languishing in a cell deep under Satan's palace for a few months, then being hauled out (once his value is finally recognised) and put in charge of the defence of Dis against human invaders (probably after the first demon lord assigned to the job loses a good fraction of the city).
When there's actual war, even insane dictators respect the skills of their generals.
That's the thing, Hell hasn't ever experienced total war, particularly against lower-plane beings. They may or may not have had a few bronze-age style minor wars against angels and/or each other. I'm really not expecting Satan to snap into Stalin mode though. Incompetence and malice both come way above 'the universe is no longer anything like you thought it was' in explanations, at least for feudal mindsets. Particularly when Abigor almost certainly has plenty of enemies in Satan's court who stand to benefit from framing it as incompetence or malice.

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Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2008-02-09 08:35pm

Frankly I can't see how he's going to spin losing >95% (probably >99%) of his force as a victory no matter what happens. It would still be the first defeat in hell's history even if his forces had managed to devestate the whole middle east.
AHEM. I believe it would be hell's SECOND defeat. This also isn't the first time they've done total war, its just the first time IN A VERY LONG TIME that they've done total war.
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Post by brianeyci » 2008-02-09 08:47pm

Starglider I edited in a new rebuttal to the "Abigor could be as stupid as Merafawles" post.

Abigor could capture an Al Quaeda leader. That could be spun as a human warlord who routinely kills US soldiers, not to mention give a realistic reason for Abigor finally "getting" it and realizing the only way to beat the humans.

Assassination as a way to advance could be assassinating incompetent leaders. Even the Klingons have certain rules on who you can assassinate and who you can't, and these demons are better than Klingons. Actually, Abigor could face an assassination attempt pretty soon and stop it, "proving" there's demons working against hell.

You're right that Satan probably won't get it until more disasters happen, to pull Abigor from banishment. Abigor could go on a long-term exile to different parts of hell to capture information from the humans who're dead, and when Satan finally realizes the magnitude of the war, come in with a solution and be reinstated.

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Post by Starglider » 2008-02-09 09:02pm

brianeyci wrote:You're right that Satan probably won't get it until more disasters happen, to pull Abigor from banishment.
Well, I've gotten about a third of the way through writing one possible counterattack, which isn't so much disasterous as woefully ineffective considering the expectations heaped on it. I don't know if it'll make it into the story though, and I'm currently stalled waiting for Stuart to check my assumptions (yes, I cracked and finally prioritised 'try to contribute to this fic' over 'pay attention to deadlines and customer requests').
Abigor could go on a long-term exile to different parts of hell to capture information from the humans who're dead.
That strikes me as quite plasuible (this would likely be seen as a demeaning punnishment duty with a faint chance for redemption) and interesting to watch.

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Post by brianeyci » 2008-02-09 09:08pm

Well to build Abigor as a character, it can't be Satan's suggestion that Abigor go to "capture information from the humans." Abigor needs to figure this out for himself. In fact, Abigor can't let on to anybody that this is his plan.

Satan simply banishes Abigor, and Abigor freed from his duties to any army can walk around hell free to interrogate whoever he wants. Abigor's enemies in the court shouldn't know about the Abigor's plans... they have to be convinced Abigor is humiliated for good and gone for good or else they'll push for Satan to execute Abigor.

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Post by Starglider » 2008-02-09 09:15pm

brianeyci wrote:Satan simply banishes Abigor, and Abigor freed from his duties to any army can walk around hell free to interrogate whoever he wants. Abigor's enemies in the court shouldn't know about the Abigor's plans... they have to be convinced Abigor is humiliated for good and gone for good or else they'll push for Satan to execute Abigor.
Fine but I'd note that this is still a best case. Summary execution for incompetence still seems fairly likely, and that assumes he's even going to make it back to Hell in the first place.

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Post by brianeyci » 2008-02-09 09:19pm

Well if Satan executes at the dime of a hat, Abigor should know this and he could go into exile on his own. I sure would.

Patraeus has already let demons live. He could've broken the demons early on but he didn't. I imagine he wants to let some demons get back to hell, to spread word of the disaster. Or else there's no point in showing off all that shit and he could've just used a few 500 lbs. bombs.

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Post by Starglider » 2008-02-09 09:27pm

brianeyci wrote:I imagine he wants to let some demons get back to hell, to spread word of the disaster. Or else there's no point in showing off all that shit and he could've just used a few 500 lbs. bombs.
You've got his logic completely inverted. The humans are using the least powerful weapons that will do the job because they're keeping the more powerful ones in reserve, to be used in incremental doses to maintain superiority as the demons start to adapt. This isn't 'shock and awe, show the demons every weapon we have and hope they leave us alone'. That's a ridiculously risky strategy; we know it won't work, the humans in the story know enough about demon pyschology to suspect that it won't work, and if it doesn't work you've lost the element of surprise several times over. In any case, even if you are going for a psychological victory, repeatedly allowing the demons to think they've got the measure of humanity, then escalating the violence another order of magnitude is going to be far more effective than trying to do it in one dose. Past a certain point it makes no difference; I doubt using atomic weapons instead of mines and artillery would make this defeat any more painful for the demon commanders. But after they come up with tactics to counter artillery and get bombed, then come up with tactics to counter that (assuming they even can) and get nuked*, they will truly know despair.

* Intermediate escalation steps ommited for brevity. :)

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Post by brianeyci » 2008-02-09 09:40pm

How is the logic inverted? Whether Patraeus keeps weapons in reserve for strategic concerns or keeps them in reserve for psychological warfare, demons are still alive which allows a plausible reason for Abigor to escape, which was my point. Besides, psychological warfare is the bread and butter of the US military and I see no reason it would change even when fighting demons.

Besides, Bush needs a demon alive for his dad remember :wink:.

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Post by MKSheppard » 2008-02-09 09:52pm

Aw, stop teasing us Stuart, and show the tank/IFV teams opening fire :P

EDIT: I swear this is almost as bad as TBO, you kept putting off the nuclear destruction of Germany; stringing us along. :wink:
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Post by The Vortex Empire » 2008-02-09 10:57pm

So the baldrick army has tightened up now? Artillery must be having a fun day.

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Post by Academia Nut » 2008-02-10 12:01am

It should also be pointed out that they have no idea the order of battle of the demons, so until they understand the total structure and composition it is best to conserve as much firepower as possible. Not only that, but if they limit what they show, there is the chance to draw out more of the enemy forces into the killing fields when the time comes to drop the hammer on them. I suspect if after this army is slaughtered if one ten times its size exits the Hellmouth then the nukes will start flying. Of course, if the humans do enough damage and push back to the Hellmouth, they could conceivably establish a WW1 style static perimeter for the purposes of containment, force the demons to go through the worst kind of hell just to get out of Hell.

Also, there is an interesting dynamic that should be pointed out. Presumably the highest ranking demons in Hell would tend to be the best warriors as befitting their martial nature. Warriors are concerned with concepts like "honour" and "valour", while modern soldiers may profess to such things, but at the end of the day their job is to kill the other guy and stay alive, by whatever means necessary such as using weapons with ranges so long that they and their target never make eye contact. I can see the most prominent officers quickly being blown up and their more capable and intelligent underlings not being promoted because the most capable ones are not "honourable". We could very quickly see Hell suffering a senior officer shortage as the commanders ride out and get blown up and the ones that survive are labelled cowards by their superiors and peers for retreating from "puny, cowardly, dishonourable humans". This could quite easily extend the time for them to actually learn to respect their foes and treat them as the danger they truly are.
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Post by brianeyci » 2008-02-10 01:16am

The shit is, there's no way "legions" can be that large and be led by pure Warrior Kings. The size precludes pure Warrior leaders and must mean some of the demon leaders have experience in logistics, military drill and march. Even Vercingetorix, leader of a band of warrior thugs, had competence enough to nearly defeat Caesar. Sure kings of that era have to lead by example and fight in the front, but above a certain size it isn't true. Caesar ran up to rally his troops, but he only did that as a last ditch, and certainly doesn't have to stick his neck out for every fight. Doesn't mean Caesar is a Warrior King.

I fully expect the most elite legions of hell to be disciplined to shit, if only to hold back other demons from using their own inadequate soldiers to usurp Satan. This legion would be led by a competent, not a moron, and presumably he'd be put in charge of the entire Hell army once enough of the bureaucrats blew it.

I expect a vast difference between Satan's personal bodyguards and dumbshit calvary which can't even charge as one, or else Satan would've been deposed long ago. The bodyguard retinue might be small -- but small in Hell's terms means millions of competents.

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Post by fusion » 2008-02-10 01:38am

If the heralds are lesser demons then who are the greater demon?

Other wise good story.

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Post by KlavoHunter » 2008-02-10 01:41am

fusion wrote:If the heralds are lesser demons then who are the greater demon?

Other wise good story.
The likes of Satan, who can mash a lesser demon to a pulp against a wall with a glance?
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Post by Stuart » 2008-02-10 02:24am

fusion wrote:If the heralds are lesser demons then who are the greater demon?
There are seven grades of Demon.
Minor Demon
Lesser Demon
Lower Demon
Demon
Superior Demon
Greater Demon
Lordly Demon

All the ones we've run into so far (with the exception of Satan and Abigor) are in the lowest three classes. The Lordly Demons are the Dukes of Hell.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-02-10 02:31am

brianeyci wrote:The shit is, there's no way "legions" can be that large and be led by pure Warrior Kings. The size precludes pure Warrior leaders and must mean some of the demon leaders have experience in logistics, military drill and march. Even Vercingetorix, leader of a band of warrior thugs, had competence enough to nearly defeat Caesar. Sure kings of that era have to lead by example and fight in the front, but above a certain size it isn't true. Caesar ran up to rally his troops, but he only did that as a last ditch, and certainly doesn't have to stick his neck out for every fight. Doesn't mean Caesar is a Warrior King. I fully expect the most elite legions of hell to be disciplined to shit, if only to hold back other demons from using their own inadequate soldiers to usurp Satan. This legion would be led by a competent, not a moron, and presumably he'd be put in charge of the entire Hell army once enough of the bureaucrats blew it. I expect a vast difference between Satan's personal bodyguards and dumbshit calvary which can't even charge as one, or else Satan would've been deposed long ago. The bodyguard retinue might be small -- but small in Hell's terms means millions of competents.
The actual span of command is 9. Nine baldricks to a platoon, nine platoons to a company etc etc. That's a big span but not that big. It'll lead to slow-moving, slowly-reacting forces but if everybody is the same, that won't matter. Mostly, the biggest force that ever operated together was a legion and that was a nice controllable 6,666 strong unit.

I disagree with you on the discipline issue. Cavalry is notoriously difficult to control in a charge - the Royal Scots Grays at Waterloo being a very good example. There are plenty of examples in the ACW of cavalry charges going out of control on both sides. If you describe cavalry as dumbshit because they went out of control in a charge, then that description probably applies to every cavalry force in history.
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