Armageddon???? - Part Eighty One Up

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Stuart Mackey
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Post by Stuart Mackey » 2008-05-22 06:16pm

Firethorn wrote:I can see a life-death system being maintained. Death being a sort of 'ultimate fresh start'. Earth is for the living, Hades for the dead.

Soldiers working after death don't work towards a pension, though leave benefits and time off should be correspondingly more generous. So the dead soldiers who are actively working are getting paid for their current service, not their past service.

This, ultimately, provides the start of an economy hades side. They use their money to start businesses hades side, import equipment, etc... If not directly, when they use said money to buy services from other residents of hades, who then use it to buy said supplies from earth.

While advanced businesses start popping up, use the vast resources of the dead to provide labor so cheap as to make China look expensive. Want a highway in hades? A million men with shovels and pickaxes isn't out of the question, for an equivalent of 2 cents a day per worker. Pottery, metalwork, etc...

When they go home, they spend time building their new homes. Go quality. It might be more than a hundred years before it gets electricity, but most of the dead never had that. They save up their 2 cents a day($6.25/year), and invest or buy earth side luxuries.
.2c a day? I can imagine the healthy "Fuck You" heading toward any idiot who tries that one on. Oh..I'm sorry did you presume the 'dead' cannot think?
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Post by R011 » 2008-05-22 06:22pm

Stuart wrote: A simple example, take an infantry division from World War One. It's basically a large group of riflemen.
Hardly. A typical WWI division from one of the first rate armies was well equipped with support weapons, like machine-guns and trench mortars, as well as artillery. This doesn't include any assets that might be attached from corps and army level, like cavalry, more artillery, and engineers. Finally, WWI armies had a shitload of artillery. And lots of guns. Did I mention artillery? (OK. I'll stop now). A brigade commander in the Middle East would likely be very concerned indeed with the logistics requirements of his forces, something even more complicated by the lack of comparative lack of logistics resources available to him compared to a force from WWII or later. What is true is that the scale of the challenge would increase, but that doesn't mean an increase in effort on the part of the staff officers - many of whom can certainly be up-timers. I think most of the best British Empire commanders, at any rate, would be able to adapt

What they didn't have was then is todays C4I and much motor transport. I would say, though, that the staff work in ensuring that the mass of horse transport received proper food, water, veterinary and blacksmithing care would be equivalent to that for a motorized formation.

Where a Western Front experienced officer from 1918 might have trouble is adjusting to the fast pace of post WWI action. The French Army by 1939 had turned absolutely sclerotic after four years of siege-work and the British Army often showed a preference for set-piece actions with lots of preparation - Montgomery's forte. That isn't true of all of them from all fronts though. Allenby, who IIRC, was not a star in France, proved to be highly competent in the mobile war in Palestine and Syria.
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Post by Illuminatus Primus » 2008-05-22 06:24pm

CaptainChewbacca wrote:Another thought; Presumably, Yahweh was decididng who could come to heaven and who couldn't. What if he flips the switch, and our dead start going to heaven, only to be second-killed immediately upon arrival? No more 'second-chance' soldiers.
I realize you're a conservative Christian, by why do you always assume arbitrary expanses of power and capability on the part of the Celestial Powers in this fic? Their behavior and the movement of souls seems much more dependent on superphysical mechanisms than mere fiat.
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Post by Junghalli » 2008-05-22 07:09pm

Illuminatus Primus wrote:I realize you're a conservative Christian, by why do you always assume arbitrary expanses of power and capability on the part of the Celestial Powers in this fic? Their behavior and the movement of souls seems much more dependent on superphysical mechanisms than mere fiat.
Actually Chewie's idea is pretty reasonable. Only the people who Yahweh wants in Heaven seem to end up there, which implies he does have at least some control over the proccess.

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Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2008-05-22 07:45pm

Illuminatus Primus wrote:
CaptainChewbacca wrote:Another thought; Presumably, Yahweh was decididng who could come to heaven and who couldn't. What if he flips the switch, and our dead start going to heaven, only to be second-killed immediately upon arrival? No more 'second-chance' soldiers.
I realize you're a conservative Christian, by why do you always assume arbitrary expanses of power and capability on the part of the Celestial Powers in this fic? Their behavior and the movement of souls seems much more dependent on superphysical mechanisms than mere fiat.
As it was said, the way its set up seems to be that Yaweh has final say over (at least) which of two afterlifes people get to go to. That's actually the central premise of the story. I don't see any other explanation which fits what we've seen so far. It could be that he's subverting a natural process, or it could be he's SUPPOSED to be what decides where souls go. Either way, I don't see a viable alternative to my notion, my religious beliefs aside.
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Post by Guardsman Bass » 2008-05-22 07:57pm

One question: didn't Stuart write that the reason dead people in Hell can't stay back on Earth is because they eventually drain out of a certain energy that demons naturally generate? What happens if you figure out how to duplicate this? Do dead people have the right to move back (potentially en masse) back to Earth once the dust settles? What about vacations?

I'm wondering if, once you figure that type of thing out, you could gather the best minds from the 20th Century, bring them back to Earth, and set up some kind of super-brain trust.
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Post by Darth Wong » 2008-05-22 08:38pm

CaptainChewbacca wrote:
Illuminatus Primus wrote:
CaptainChewbacca wrote:Another thought; Presumably, Yahweh was decididng who could come to heaven and who couldn't. What if he flips the switch, and our dead start going to heaven, only to be second-killed immediately upon arrival? No more 'second-chance' soldiers.
I realize you're a conservative Christian, by why do you always assume arbitrary expanses of power and capability on the part of the Celestial Powers in this fic? Their behavior and the movement of souls seems much more dependent on superphysical mechanisms than mere fiat.
As it was said, the way its set up seems to be that Yaweh has final say over (at least) which of two afterlifes people get to go to. That's actually the central premise of the story. I don't see any other explanation which fits what we've seen so far. It could be that he's subverting a natural process, or it could be he's SUPPOSED to be what decides where souls go. Either way, I don't see a viable alternative to my notion, my religious beliefs aside.
"Viable alternative?" Are you on drugs? The viable alternative is that there is something other than Yahweh which makes this determination. There is literally an infinite field of possibilities. It could be some kind of power beyond Yahweh himself. It could be completely random, and Yahweh simply decides to either kill off the souls which come his way or open portals and send them to Hell. It could be that they had an agreement, and Satan actually send certain people his way. One could go blue in the face making up possible explanations other than "Yahweh stops them in mid-stream and then decides where they will go", for which there should be absolutely no preference whatsoever, based on the information at hand.
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Post by Adrian Laguna » 2008-05-22 11:02pm

Cecelia5578 wrote:Julius Caesar-why would the Italian Republic, which is in no way the heir of the (defunct) Roman Empire (Eastern or Western) owe Julius Caesar anything?
Italy doesn't owe ol' Gaius anything, but he would probably still get elected President if he ran, the man stands heads and shoulders above anything the current crop of Italian politicians have to offer.

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Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-05-23 12:00am

Hell's population is around 60 billion, right? (that's the estimate of all dead from Farmer's Riverworld, presumably it's not off-the-wall).

No way in Hell Earth can do anything there.

It's more of a case where Hell residents may form states so powerful, if Earth technology proliferates into Hell, that Earth itself would be reduced to insignificance with it's pathetic 6 billion population.
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Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2008-05-23 02:41am

Keep in mind, we don't yet know of any way for a dead human soul to survive more than a few seconds on earth. I don't think the liberated Hellions (anyone got a better name?) could attack us.
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Post by FedRebel » 2008-05-23 03:21am

CaptainChewbacca wrote:I don't think the liberated Hellions (anyone got a better name?)...
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Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-05-23 03:50am

I don't think the liberated Hellions (anyone got a better name?) could attack us.
Except sending long-range nuclear missiles and drone UCAV waves to wipe Earth out whilst sitting in the safety of Hell, the small windows into it thoroughly protected by ABM.

As well as ruining our economy due to massive economies of scale.
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Post by JBG » 2008-05-23 04:24am

R011 wrote:
Stuart wrote: A simple example, take an infantry division from World War One. It's basically a large group of riflemen.
Hardly. A typical WWI division from one of the first rate armies was well equipped with support weapons, like machine-guns and trench mortars, as well as artillery. This doesn't include any assets that might be attached from corps and army level, like cavalry, more artillery, and engineers. Finally, WWI armies had a shitload of artillery. And lots of guns. Did I mention artillery? (OK. I'll stop now). A brigade commander in the Middle East would likely be very concerned indeed with the logistics requirements of his forces, something even more complicated by the lack of comparative lack of logistics resources available to him compared to a force from WWII or later. What is true is that the scale of the challenge would increase, but that doesn't mean an increase in effort on the part of the staff officers - many of whom can certainly be up-timers. I think most of the best British Empire commanders, at any rate, would be able to adapt

What they didn't have was then is todays C4I and much motor transport. I would say, though, that the staff work in ensuring that the mass of horse transport received proper food, water, veterinary and blacksmithing care would be equivalent to that for a motorized formation.

Where a Western Front experienced officer from 1918 might have trouble is adjusting to the fast pace of post WWI action. The French Army by 1939 had turned absolutely sclerotic after four years of siege-work and the British Army often showed a preference for set-piece actions with lots of preparation - Montgomery's forte. That isn't true of all of them from all fronts though. Allenby, who IIRC, was not a star in France, proved to be highly competent in the mobile war in Palestine and Syria.
It depends on the army and the stage of the war that we are talking about, but Stuart was talking "basically" about an infantry division. British infantry divisions' stock of MGs increased dramatically during the war, same for trench mortars. A significant part of the artillery parks of that army at the end of the war were in corps and army level units. So, it is probably fair enough, at least at the start of the war, to say that most of the warm bodies in infantry divisions were there to use rifles, or command and control those using rifles. As time went on such divisions did become more as you describe.

You make an excellent point about logistics and horses. From (hazy) memory horse fodder alone took up an incredible percentage of the cross channel supply route. I may have read it in one of Keegan's books.

"Hell's population is around 60 billion, right? (that's the estimate of all dead from Farmer's Riverworld, presumably it's not off-the-wall)."

Stuart stated that it was about 90 billion. But thanks for reminding me of Riverworld. The first book was quite good.

""Viable alternative?" Are you on drugs? The viable alternative is that there is something other than Yahweh which makes this determination. There is literally an infinite field of possibilities. It could be some kind of power beyond Yahweh himself. It could be completely random, and Yahweh simply decides to either kill off the souls which come his way or open portals and send them to Hell. It could be that they had an agreement, and Satan actually send certain people his way. One could go blue in the face making up possible explanations other than "Yahweh stops them in mid-stream and then decides where they will go", for which there should be absolutely no preference whatsoever, based on the information at hand."

You may both be sort of right. Though Chewie's drug intake or lack thereof would be a personal issue! Stuart has been, no doubt intentionally, only letting out hints etc. Up to the comment about Ceasar Chewies "viable" solution was probably the best fit for the scant information available. Now, together with vague hints about other "planes", one's face could indeed go blue trying to imagine the possibilities. Whilst I enjoy the speculation, I have long ago through reading the TBOverse stories given up losing sleep over an inability to guess where Stuart is going next. Mostly I just go with the flow. Actually, I never lost any sleep over it, just a turn of phrase!

As to back taxes etc, a legal mind would say that the deceased have left the jurisdiction - return is an impossibility so claims cannot be kept in abeyance awaiting a return to the jurisdiction, willing or unwilling - and any claim against them became null and void at their passing. The alternative is a legal nightmare you don't want to go within cooee of.

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Post by JBG » 2008-05-23 04:29am

Stas Bush wrote:
I don't think the liberated Hellions (anyone got a better name?) could attack us.
Except sending long-range nuclear missiles and drone UCAV waves to wipe Earth out whilst sitting in the safety of Hell, the small windows into it thoroughly protected by ABM.

As well as ruining our economy due to massive economies of scale.
Isn't that assuming that the deceased can firstly get hold of sufficient quantities of such kit and secondly be able to maintain all of that?

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Post by KlavoHunter » 2008-05-23 04:32am

Stas Bush wrote:
I don't think the liberated Hellions (anyone got a better name?) could attack us.
Except sending long-range nuclear missiles and drone UCAV waves to wipe Earth out whilst sitting in the safety of Hell, the small windows into it thoroughly protected by ABM.

As well as ruining our economy due to massive economies of scale.
Hell's atmosphere seems pretty shitty for industrial advancement, as argued way earlier in the previous thread.
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Post by Starglider » 2008-05-23 05:28am

Stas Bush wrote:Except sending long-range nuclear missiles and drone UCAV waves to wipe Earth out whilst sitting in the safety of Hell, the small windows into it thoroughly protected by ABM.
The situation is much worse than that. You can strike any target you can get an agent to, simply by opening a portal, tossing a nuclear bomb through, your agent escapes, portal closes, target is destroyed. It also seems likely that the technology to target portals without requiring a mental link will eventually be developed. If and when that happens you will be able to send a warhead literally anywhere almost instantly. We don't know if hell has any fissile, but if the process can be made cheap enough it may be practical for massive conventional bombing strikes.

Of course working against that possibility we have the teams trying to develop countermeasures, like the effort Kuroneko is heading. I recommend looking at Schlock Mercenary's teraports / teraport area denail systems for a good example of how this could turn out.

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Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-05-23 06:07am

Hell's human power and bio-habitat conditions are way superior to Earth, and after a little work on the environment, it would become superior to Earth in every regard: eternal life, gigantic lands, with great warfare abilities...

Heh.
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Post by Chris OFarrell » 2008-05-23 07:55am

I think its going to be astonishing if more then a few million humans can be pulled from hell with their sanity intact. You're talking about people who have been swimming in lava for countless years, drowning in sewage, all manner of punishments for amazing lengths of times.

SOME of those people because they are just hardasses have managed to keep their sanity, or at least keep it somewhere safe they can pull it out later when they were rescued, but I bet the vast vast majority of people will just want it all to END, sweet sweet oblivion and all that. Some, especially those from the 20th and 21st centuries, especially WW2/Post WW2 people MIGHT have been down there with a short enough time, with enough knowledge of what is coming when they see F-111's roaring overhead, that they can pull themselves together.

But I'm thinking there is going to be FAR less then 60 billion wanting jobs afterwards.
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Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-05-23 08:42am

Well, WWII and later people probably still have a fair number of sane among them, but I did express the extreme unlikelihood of either Caesar or Washington, there for hundreds of years, being "sane" in any way.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-05-23 08:50am

Belial’s Study, Adamantine Fastness of Tartarus, Hell

Of course, Belial never sat with his back to a door. No demon made it past squad leader without learning such basic common sense. Thus when Euryale entered she was immediately met by the count’s calculating stare. She made no sign of having noticed it though, instead concentrating on bringing the food she had prepared for him to his table. She’d made certain that the tray held everything he liked and nothing that he did not, that wasn’t just being seductive, that was simple self-preservation. Once Belial’s meal was laid out, she sat quietly on the couch beside him, saying nothing. Belial was very familiar with this game, but still drunk on success he was in the mood to let it play out. He continued to stare at the meal laid out on the table, aware that the Euryale’s tail had curved around his leg and its tip was caressing the back of his thigh.

“Satan Mekratrig is pleased at my success. He has named me as one who stands beside him and is in his favor.”

“My Lord. The Baroness Yulupki is in position with her chorus. The second attack, on Dee-Troyt, will commence when you give the word.” Her voice was quiet and respectful but her tail continued to move suggestively up his leg, its tip now reaching his knee. The torchlight was glittering off her smooth bronze scales. Conniving little harpy. Belial thought, though the constantly-moving tip of tail curling around his lower leg was rather distracting. Still as comely as ever though.

“And then Satan will indeed reward me and grant me back the power I once had. Which raises the question of what to do with you, Euryale. Your display tonight was unforgivable.” Mentally, Belial gulped, the top of her tail had now reached his groin and thinking straight was becoming every more difficult. “You must be punished for your insubordination.

“I am in great fear of your punishment Belial.” Euryale put a distinct tremor into her voice, one that was either lust or fear and there was no way of telling which was which. In fact, of course, the answer was neither but that didn’t really matter. She twitched the tip of her tail and saw Belial jump slightly. You ignorant oaf, half your court want to rebel against you, the other half just want to assassinate you. The only thing stopping them is they don’t regard Tartarus as being worth the risk. As soon as you have something worth usurping, they’ll be at your throat. If it didn’t suit me to have you on the throne… the tip of her tail had reached up and now was circling Belial’s penis.

Any hope Belial had of thinking straight had long gone. Ah well, may as well go with the flow was the one thought that was running through his mind. He lurched upwards, getting to his feet and dragging Euryale up with him at the same time. Then, he pulled the demoness off the couch, and slung her over his shoulder before he carried her through an archway and flung her onto a sleeping pallet. Euryale landed heavily on her back, splayed out on the matted fungus. The briefest flicker of fear crossed her face before her features melted into a look of unbridled lust. Belial couldn’t tell if she was faking that or not, but his matching expression was certainly genuine.

Outside, the listening orcs heard the intense screams and were indeed convinced that a most horrible tortures were being inflicted. By the time the story had been elaborated and repeated, it was enough to chill the blood of even the most ruthless of Belial’s minions.

Half an hour later, Belial was back in his study, staring dreamily through the window (or rather, trident firing loophole). This owed less to the massage Euryale was giving him than to the drugged dart she’d managed to administer while the count was quite thoroughly distracted by her claws raking his back. It was a tactic she used most sparingly, due to the likely horrible consequences of him realizing what she was doing, but in this case she’d considered it justified.

“Yes, such a shame really, losing brave Lasee-urk-nasee.”

Euryale sighed mentally. “Actually Lakheenahuknaasi survived. She made contact with me just an hour ago, of course I came to see you immediately. She says that she was intercepted by a human sky chariot and gravely wounded. Lakheenahuknaasi thinks we must minimize the time between sending the pathfinder and the strike itself. If we do that, her sister will have a much better chance of survival..”

“Of course. Your handmaiden is alive? I expect you will want to retrieve her then?”

“Actually I convinced her to stay for a while. She said that she it may be possible to build a small cult of humans and that from them she can learn much of value to you.”

The idea of any of his subjects having a private cult didn’t sit easily with Belial, but then again they were only humans. After the immense effort it had taken to find the first two targets, the prospect of his own intelligence network on earth was tantalizing, however modest its beginnings.

“Most pleasing, Euryale. What has she discovered so far.”

“Alas she is still evading human pursuit and has not had time to gather much yet. But think on this my Lord, we both know how much influence Deumos gains just from her legion of succubi – yet she could not warn us of the human magery. My handmaiden has shown that given the chance, we gorgons can provide you with a superior spy network. How much would that be worth at Mekratrig’s court?”

The offer would have been tempting anyway, had she managed to get the count to hear it out, but in his current state it was irresistible.

“Very well. We attack De Troyt immediately and we use a nephilim as close to the target as possible. The search must begin immediately, to be sure of finding one who can travel there in time.” Suddenly energized, Belial stormed out of his chambers, bellowing for servants and messengers as he made his way to the great hall. Euryale followed behind, savoring a smug grin before she had to begin her performance for the nobles.

Third Platoon, Second Company, Third Battalion, Fourth Regiment, 247th Motor Rifle Division, Phlegethon River Front, Hell

“Bratischka, many times we have said that the spirits of our ancestors look down upon us but this time, it is true. They are there, Bratischka, there beyond the river. There, the heroes who defended the Bagration flèches, who fought to hold Port Arthur, who defended the Rodina against the Germans, they wait for us. There our gallant comrades who held the ruins of Stalingrad, who broke the fascist beast on the fields of Kursk and who chased him all the way back to his lair in Berlin, they wait for us. Everything we have we owe to them, everything we are, is because they sacrificed everything for us. Now it our turn to fight and make whatever sacrifices we must in order to repay our debt to them. Now it is our turn to break the armies of hell on our armor and send them scurrying away under the lash of our guns. Bratischka, the Americans won a great victory in the desert of Iraq fighting these same enemies. Can we show ourselves to be less than them? I say no! I say we should show the Americans how a Russian Army fights! I say we should score such a victory today that the world will be in awe of our power and the enemy shall tremble at the thought of fighting us again!”

Lieutenant Anatolii Ivanovich Pas'kov, standing on the back of the BMP-2 armored personnel carrier, looked down at the cheering men in his little command. Three BMP-2s, one Tungaska air defense system. Not so much as things went but one of hundreds of dug-in strong points that defended the front. Miles deep, each strongpoint covering the others so not one inch of ground was left unswept by heavy automatic weapons. The BMPs had been modified, they each had two AGS-17 grenade machine guns mounted on their rear decking to provide that extra bit of close-in firepower. Outside the earth banks, the ground was covered with wire entanglements and under them were the mines, hundreds of thousands of them. As a final thought, the river banks were criss-crossed with trenches, each carefully calculated to be deep enough and wide enough to catch a rhino-lobster’s hooves and send it sprawling on to the ground.

And far to the rear was the Final Argument. Artillery. Guns were lined up in a density unheard of since Zhukov and Koniev had raced to capture Berlin. In fact, some of the guns had fought at the Battle of Berlin and had been taken out of the storage where they had slept for so many years. Guns, 122mm and upwards, salvo rocket launchers and the short range ballistic missiles that could deliver their own special kind of hell. Further behind them were the aircraft, British, American, Russian, Israeli, Indian, Chinese, other nations too many to remember. All brought together to do one thing. To turn this stretch of the river into a killing ground the like of which had never been seen before.

Piquette Street, Detroit, Michigan

The tremors, the voices, the migraines; Donnie Cook was used to all of these. Indeed in the long, agonizing periods between hits, he had often fancied himself to already be in hell. For three years now heroin had been his demon, the black tar forcing him to beg, to steal, to prey on the unwary, whatever it took to keep the craving at bay. Now all that seemed like just the warm-up. Hell had come to him and made him its own.

Donnie stumbled through the abandoned factory, his emaciated body moving with the jerkiness of a puppet. In truth Baron Zatheoplekkar was having some trouble controlling the human; its whole nervous system seemed to be warped and damaged by the many cocktails of poisons it had consumed. To the demon it almost seemed that to kill this pathetic creature would be doing it a favor, and that quite took the fun out of it.

The man’s wasted form jerked to a halt in the centre of the ground floor, the puppet-master seemingly satisfied that the ruined building was deserted. For over a minutes he just stood there, twitching and staring wildly. At last the black disc of the portal swelled into existence, briefly surrounded by a carpet of tiny sparks as the wash of energy hit the rusting junk littering the floor. The gorilla-like forms of lesser demons began to emerge from the blackness, their tridents held low as they fanned out through the structure. Another minute passed before a single final creature emerged, closer to human in form if one could ignore the writhing hairlike tentacles and great folded wings.

To Donnie the creature seemed anorexically thin, yet moved with a flowing grace that only heightened the sense of being faced by a deadly humanoid snake. The female demon was within an arm’s length of him now and her stare bored into him. Fight fought flight as he alternately wanted to scream and run, or club and stab the monstrosity, but all he managed was a series of low moans. Animal yelps and screams echoed off the crumbling walls before cutting off sharply.

Megaaeraholrakni cocked her head at the approach of the strike leader. “I ssee that they are jusst as pathetic on thiss plane as they are in the miness.” Her imperious gaze switched from the possessed human to the demon. “No others witnesssed my arrival?”

“No humans here, gorgon. Just those.” He gestured at a pair of his demons approaching with the broken bodies of stray dogs dangling from their claws. Their expressions showed a clear disappointment at the lack of fresh human meat on this mission, but a determination to make the most of it anyway. “A fitting audience for your grand entrance.”

The gorgon hissed and thrust out her arm at the insolent demon. A bright bolt leapt from her claws and stuck the strike leader, leaving him reeling and roaring defiance. “Go! Before I fry the lot of you!” Megaaeraholrakni screamed, her form glowing with witchfire. She exchanged a long stare with her opponent before he decided that it wasn't worth risking the count's wrath. At a silent signal from their commander the growling lesser demons began to file back through the black disc and disappear. “And take that wretch with you!” The last demon in line dragged the human through the portal, which promptly shimmered and vanished.

Her flickering aura relaxed as Megaaeraholrakni released the psychic force. In truth, she could not have done much more; her kind were not built to fling lightning the way the naga were and it had taken her millennia of practice just to achieve the limited aptitude she had. No need for lesser beings to know that of course. She made her way to the staircase and from there to the highest floor of the crumbling building (a disused storehouse perhaps? she couldn’t tell and didn’t particularly care). A large section had collapsed completely, revealing a panorama filled by more nondescript boxy buildings, all made of the humans' odd artificial stone and many in a similar state of disrepair.

Like Lakheenahuknaasi before her, she recoiled in distaste from the telepathic clamor which filled the humans realm. Megaaeraholrakni was undeniably the superior witch though, or perhaps just less interested in comprehending the human babble, for within ten seconds she had pushed through the barrier to contact her waiting queen. It was time for this place to burn, so that this silly rebellion could end and she could get back to her studies.

Free Hell, Banks of the River Styx, Fifth Circle, Hell

You Are Now Entering Free Hell

The sign meant that they’d done it. For the first time in its history, there was an area of Hell where humans ruled. After the assassination of Asmodeus, the baldricks had stopped their advance and dug in. A de-facto border now existed, on one side of it the Baldricks continued their network of fortifications, on the other, humans had established their own administration. An uneasy truce existed between them, one that could be summarized from the human point of view as “don’t put your hoof over the border and we won’t blow it off”. It seemed like a small, practical agreement but in an insurgency there was no such thing as a small agreement between the government and the insurgents. Any agreement at all reflected a level of equality between insurgents and authorities and that made it an epoch-defining defeat for the baldricks. They’d been forced to deal with the dead humans as equals and concede ground to them.

“Friend, if I could speak with thee for a moment. I have a request for thine attention.”

The archaic language snapped Captain (deceased) Jade Kim's attention back to the reality of Free Hell. For a moment, she thought that it was one of the recovered dead, but the breathing mask showed it was a volunteer from Earth, one who had come to help with the task of finding the victims of this place and rescuing them. Behind him she could see another one of the crosses being hauled out of the swamp and figures starting to work, freeing the poor soul attached to it. Kim remembered her own time nailed to a cross and drowning in sewage and she shuddered.

“There’s a problem?”

“There is friend. Many have been rescued from the swamps and have recovered enough to travel. Some wish to stay here with thee to fight.” The speaker’s voice showed his dislike of that concept. “Others, they wish to leave this place. Can thou contact earth and arrange a way out for them?”

Kim relaxed, this had been anticipated. “Some don’t like our company huh? They know they can’t survive on Earth, right?”

“They have been told this, yes. And they understand but still wish to leave.”

“Well, they can. The plan is we’ll portal them back to Earth and then they’ll be relayed straight back to an area of Hell that’s under human control.” To her amusement, her companion looked around in alarm. “No, not like this one. We’re holding a pretty big area between the Phlegethon River and the sea, its called the Martial Plain of Dysprosium. There’s refugee camps being set up in there for the people we rescue. They’ll be looked after until we’ve won. I have no idea what will happen then, I don’t think anybody has. The catch is, I can’t contact out, DIMO(N) has to contact me. We have a schedule for that. Next contact is in a few hours, get the evacuees ready to move then.”

“Thou are kind. Thank you.”

The man turned to leave but Kim was seized with curiosity. “Excuse me, but could I ask a question of you. A personal one?”

“Certainly friend. I will answer if I can.”

“How come you people didn’t just die when we got The Message. A lot of religious people did, too many of course. But none of your people. Why?”

He smiled gently beneath his mask. “Friend, hast thou ever heard of Testimony of Integrity?” Kim shook her head. “It is one of our central beliefs. It says that we should always tell the truth but it means more than that. It means we should always deal fairly with people, we do not believe we should trick others by making statements that are technically true but whose meaning is false. It is our belief that this is how God deals with us and we deal with others. When The Message came, it did so as an inner revelation at our meetings. Those who received it stood to testify but at once there were doubts as to whether this was a true revelation for it ran against the Testimony of Integrity. How could a God who had for so long demanded we base our lives around the concept of fair dealing countenance such an enormous betrayal? Surely this could not be so and The Message was a trick, perhaps by Satan himself. So our meetings all decided to wait and see what would happen. Then the fighting started, we saw the baldricks invade and we heard what they did. We still do not believe that The Message came from Our God but it does not matter. The Message was true and we must wait to see what the whole truth is. Before then, our beliefs, the Testimony of Peace does not allow us to fight but it does allow us to come here and aid those who have suffered for all too long. So here we are.”

Rather you than me Kim thought to herself. Better to fight baldricks that spend the time here scrambling around in the mud, finding the souls in torment here then rescuing them. Unconsciously she shifted the M115 on her shoulder. Especially since modern weapons gave her such an enormous advantage over her enemies. The baldricks had numbers but even that advantage would fade as more and more souls were liberated from the torment in which they were held. And that, of course, raised issues all of its own.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a long rolling thunder, one that was very far away yet she could still feel the vibrations through her feet. Her companion was standing politely beside her, waiting for her to speak again, but the sound made him glance up.

“I did not know that there were thunderstorms in this place.”

“There are not.” Kim spoke absently. “That’s artillery fire.”
Nations do not survive by setting examples for others
Nations survive by making examples of others

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Siege
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Post by Siege » 2008-05-23 09:22am

Sweet. The plot is moving forward, the Amish didn't just lay down and die, and we've got another piece of epic ass-kickery to look forward to. Great chapter!
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Post by Chris OFarrell » 2008-05-23 09:38am

*Ques up soundtrack playlist for the next chapter and goes to buy some popcorn from the store

All the way in Dis, inside the what, 5th Circle of hell, Kim can feel the steel teeth of the Russian Army letting loose...

This is going to be so much fun to watch. I don't think there has, in the real world, EVER been this kind of concentration of firepower delivered to such a small area in such a short space of time, outside of nuclear weapons.
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Post by DarthShady » 2008-05-23 10:04am

I almost feel sorry for the Baldricks that are going to be charging the Russians, almost. :twisted:

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Post by Darth Wong » 2008-05-23 10:44am

Awesome! I think I speak for many people here when I say that we've been waiting for this confrontation for some time, and will now be slavering in anticipation for Part 56.

PS. The cleaned-up version has been updated.
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Post by Kodiak » 2008-05-23 11:28am

Depending on where in Detroit the portal opens, could this attack actually phase the wartime production of the US? I would think there's a lot of vehicle production going on in the Motor City. Did we ever get hard figures about how much of Sheffield was destroyed?
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