Armageddon???? - Part Eighty One Up

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Post by D.Turtle » 2008-07-15 12:33pm

Shouldn't it be possible to build a perpetual motion machine in Hell?

Just dig a hole straight down. At some point you end up back where you started even though you went down the whole time. Now throw something into the hole. Shouldn't the object now continually drop?

Do this with a water pipe and a water wheel -> infinite energy source.

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Post by Crayz9000 » 2008-07-15 12:42pm

I doubt that would work because at some point, space curves upward and whatever you drop into the hole will need energy supplied to make it go upward.

At least, I think that's what would happen. I doubt a Klein bottle universe would allow for such an egregious violation of the conservation of momentum...
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Post by Starglider » 2008-07-15 01:01pm

Crayz9000 wrote:I doubt that would work because at some point, space curves upward and whatever you drop into the hole will need energy supplied to make it go upward. At least, I think that's what would happen. I doubt a Klein bottle universe would allow for such an egregious violation of the conservation of momentum...
The obvious model of hell is a massive flat slab of rock, wide enough to encompass the entire 'universe' (and thus having no land border) but relatively thin. I'm not sure how this structure would form in the first place, but once formed there would be no tendency to collapse into a sphere the way a planet would, because the gravity 'wraps around' and thus the net lateral force would always be zero (ignoring minor variations in the thickness and density of the plate). This rules out perpetual motion machines.

However if this was correct the plate should have two surfaces, both with normal gravity. If you looked up into the sky of hell (and were high enough to avoid the clouds) you should see another pangea-sized landmass high above you. If you fired a rocket directly up, it would experience progressively less gravity until it was weightless at the midpoint between the two surfaces, then progressively more in the opposite direction until it impacted. The result of boring a deep well would be exactly the same as earth; you'd get progressively lighter until you were weightless at a point half way through the plate, then you'd get progressively heavier again as you ascended to the other side. Presumably it's mostly molten with a thin crust on each side, judging by all the volcanic activity.

There are two obvious problems with this model. The demons don't observe another land in the sky above hell; maybe they couldn't fly there if there's a stretch of vacuum inbetween, but you'd think they'd see it and maybe try and portal there. It could be that the other side of the plate is very dark for some reason and looks like black sky. The other is that (if I'm doing the maths right) it would have to be at least as thick as it is wide to generate 1G (assuming earthlike density) - so the space it's in would have to be of an oblate shape or it would have to be much denser than earth.

Another possibility that came up in chat earlier is that the space is torodial in the X and Y dimensions, but tapers to a singularity at each end in the Z dimension.
Last edited by Starglider on 2008-07-15 01:01pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Darth Wong » 2008-07-15 01:01pm

The thermodynamics of Hell in this cosmology are strange. Energy is constantly poured into the rock geology and atmosphere from these active volcanic processes, from where it must be radiated outward. But in our universe, such radiated energy simply escapes into space. In a self-contained Hell universe, it has nowhere to go, so it must circulate around, remaining as heat. But the place doesn't seem to rapidly heat up, so there has to be a heat sink somewhere.
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Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2008-07-15 01:16pm

Question: Are site-to-site portals within a dimension possible? We've seen people going point-to-point in hell using Earth as a stopping point, but is it possible to link two points in a given dimension directly?

Also, if it is determined opening hells without the assistance of a living being is impossible, I predict those able to do so will either become a wealthy class of people or a valuable commodity.
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Post by tim31 » 2008-07-15 01:17pm

EDIT: to DW: That's where I was trying to go with light, but you pointed out the flaw in that idea. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that the excess heat energy might be utilized somehow by the creation of corporeal undead entities that arrive in droves on a daily basis?

Chewie: I think the portal question was addressed in the negative.
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Post by Starglider » 2008-07-15 01:23pm

CaptainChewbacca wrote:Question: Are site-to-site portals within a dimension possible?
This question should be answered shortly.
Also, if it is determined opening hells without the assistance of a living being is impossible, I predict those able to do so will either become a wealthy class of people or a valuable commodity.
It is highly unlikely that it is impossible, because there just isn't anything that special about organic nervous systems. However targetting portals by computer may be a very hard AI problem. My guess would be that the humans will develop beacons that the portal generators can lock on to with another few months (years at the outside) of work, but that we won't be seeing a technological way to target arbitrary people or locations any time soon.

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Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2008-07-15 01:41pm

It is highly unlikely that it is impossible, because there just isn't anything that special about organic nervous systems. However targetting portals by computer may be a very hard AI problem. My guess would be that the humans will develop beacons that the portal generators can lock on to with another few months (years at the outside) of work, but that we won't be seeing a technological way to target arbitrary people or locations any time soon.
Then humans (or demons) capable of targeting specific locations or people are VERY valuable. Remember when they sent a spec-ops squad to the queen of the Succubi? Imagine corporate spies teleporting into Boeing. Or Hezbollah popping eight guys with vests into the White House. Portal technology, without severe constraints, might just be the technology that destroys our civilization.

Think about it: anything, anywhere, anytime.
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Post by AdmiralKanos » 2008-07-15 01:47pm

They can already detect portals. A lot depends on their ability to disrupt or forcibly close them. If they could work out a way to prevent portal creation or emit some kind of jamming signal, that would be ideal.
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Post by Starglider » 2008-07-15 01:56pm

AdmiralKanos wrote:If they could work out a way to prevent portal creation or emit some kind of jamming signal, that would be ideal.
As I said a few months back, this is likely to turn out rather like the Teraport / Teraport Area Denial arms race in Schlock Mercenary.

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Post by Coop D'etat » 2008-07-16 01:39am

Stuart wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:The chemistry and physics can't be that much different in Hell, or else humans would die the moment they set foot in the place. We are biochemical machines after all, and we don't have much tolerance for changes in the rules governing those biochemical reactions.
This is true, which puts an upper limit on the differences. However, we do note that there are drastic differences between native Hell life-forms (including humans reborn into that environment) and us. So, while the commonality is high enough to make interaction possible (otherwise the whole idea of anybody from that dimension intercting with us at all goes out of the window - a very powerful anti-theistic argument because if the conventional Christian God exists, the mutuality of interaction means we can shoot him) there are big areas of difference that will take humans time to understand.

One of the ideas I was playing with is that our life forms depend upon one of two mirror-isomers (dextro- and laevo-rotatory) . I was thinking that hell life depends on the other one. So Hell creatures can eat our food and vice versa without gaining any benefit from it.

If all you're after is a plausible reason for why Hell and Earth creatures to be nutritionally imcompatible you don't need to get nearly so exotic. Many of the organic molecules that are essential to known terristrial life appear to be fairly arbitrary. An independant eco-system like Hell is likely to have significant differences in the types of monomers used in biopolymer assembly.

For example, mammalian energy pathways are optimized for using Glucose, the main monosaccheride in starch and celloluse, but its easily conceivable that an alien biosphere might use one of a myriad of different sugars for this purpose, potentially one unusable or indigestible. to earthlings. There is a similar situation for proteins. While pretty much any conceivable protein system will use simple amino acids like glycine and alanine, many of the other members of the twenty (methionine is notable one) are fairly arbitrary. The upshot is, earth enzymes aren't going to be developed and optimized for what can be found in hellish tissues and vis versa.

This could probably work fairly well with the demon's evolutionary history. Hell's native denizens could be sufficently edible for an earth mammal to barely scrape by eating them. Fats are largely equaly usable and would be favoured over protein and carbs which would give the early demons am evolutionary push towards a carnevious lifestyle (which do a lot to rationalize the morphological differences between demon and standard humans). A side issue would be that cannibalism (as other demons would be a big source of earth style chemicals) would be strongly favoured in early demons which would do all sorts of interesting things to their social structure. Over generations the demon population would gradually become more adapted to the infernal diet to the point where a demon can look at both an orc and a human and see a tasty snack.

Given the vastly faster speeds at which bacteria adapt compared to humans, most of the evolutionary heavy lifting of developing enzyme systems to necessary to thrive in hell would probably be done by the bugs that populate demon guts (much like cattle and their cellulose processing bacteria just more so). Given the evolutionary pressures that their gut fauna would have gone through, the interesting mutations present would make demon entrails a microbiologist's wet dream. In fact a significant fraction of the next generation of Noble Prizes in Armageddon 'verse would probably go to the first biologists to get a chance to cut up a demon belly.

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Post by bilateralrope » 2008-07-16 01:48am

CaptainChewbacca wrote:
It is highly unlikely that it is impossible, because there just isn't anything that special about organic nervous systems. However targetting portals by computer may be a very hard AI problem. My guess would be that the humans will develop beacons that the portal generators can lock on to with another few months (years at the outside) of work, but that we won't be seeing a technological way to target arbitrary people or locations any time soon.
Then humans (or demons) capable of targeting specific locations or people are VERY valuable. Remember when they sent a spec-ops squad to the queen of the Succubi? Imagine corporate spies teleporting into Boeing. Or Hezbollah popping eight guys with vests into the White House. Portal technology, without severe constraints, might just be the technology that destroys our civilization.

Think about it: anything, anywhere, anytime.
I thought that a tinfoil hat would block the demons targeting, after all the three people targeted for the lava attacks were:

1 - Some conspiracy nut not believing in the demons.
2 - Someone having a shower, tinfoil removed.
3 - A drug addict.

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Post by EdBecerra » 2008-07-16 02:14am

bilateralrope wrote:I thought that a tinfoil hat would block the demons targeting, after all the three people targeted for the lava attacks were:

1 - Some conspiracy nut not believing in the demons.
2 - Someone having a shower, tinfoil removed.
3 - A drug addict.
Which makes me wonder...

What of people with surgical steel in their heads?

What would the effect be?

Hmm.

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Post by bilateralrope » 2008-07-16 03:28am

Depends on how much the steel surrounds the brain. Since the demon telepathy has an electric field as a key component, if the steel is sufficient to prevent the field reaching the brain then it will block the telepathy, otherwise it won't.

Though I do like the idea of people embedding the shielding into their own skulls (or getting doctors to), even though it will be very expensive (if it's even possible).

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Post by EdBecerra » 2008-07-16 03:43am

bilateralrope wrote:Depends on how much the steel surrounds the brain. Since the demon telepathy has an electric field as a key component, if the steel is sufficient to prevent the field reaching the brain then it will block the telepathy, otherwise it won't.

Though I do like the idea of people embedding the shielding into their own skulls (or getting doctors to), even though it will be very expensive (if it's even possible).
Well, as retired military myself, I know quite a number of veterans who have plates in their skulls, and a few more with powerful magnets. (It's a means of attaching facial appliances - like that one rather famous fellow from Ripley's, Mark Tatum, who had both eyes, his nose, and most of the surrounding facial structure removed, including the upper jaw.)

Come to think of it... magnets? Magnetic fields? Wonder what that might do...

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Post by KlavoHunter » 2008-07-16 08:02am

CaptainChewbacca wrote:Imagine corporate spies teleporting into Boeing. Or Hezbollah popping eight guys with vests into the White House. Portal technology, without severe constraints, might just be the technology that destroys our civilization.

Think about it: anything, anywhere, anytime.
Now you're thinking with Portals.




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Post by Stuart » 2008-07-16 08:37am

CaptainChewbacca wrote:Question: Are site-to-site portals within a dimension possible? We've seen people going point-to-point in hell using Earth as a stopping point, but is it possible to link two points in a given dimension directly?
No, the portal has to be between dimensions not within a dimension. To use the comparison in the story, you can't have a door without a wall to put it in. To get from place to place on Earth using portals, one has to go via Hell, likewise to go place-to-place using portals in hell, one has to go through Earth.
Also, if it is determined opening hells without the assistance of a living being is impossible, I predict those able to do so will either become a wealthy class of people or a valuable commodity.
One of the consequences we'll have to look at later. I deliberately introduced the need for a pathfinder at the other end of an opening portal to eliminate the consequences of universal access to portals.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-07-16 11:49am

Dis-Dysprosium Highway, Hell

His army was disintegrating, dissolving into chaos even while he watched. It had sounded so easy, so sensible, to drop back to a defensible line where he could hold and block the human advance. Demonic warfare had few concepts for defensive operations, mostly the two armies just attacked each other, but defense was the only option he had. Or thought he had for it had turned out that the option existed in name only.

He had picked his defensive ground carefully, a low line of hills, steep on the face the humans would have to climb, gentle behind it. It had been good ground, a good defense line and the humans had got there first. While one of their armies had pinned him on the Phlegethon, another had outflanked him and already taken the position he had picked with such care. What was left of his army had crumpled against their gunfire. His last organized legions had been shattered by mage bolts and sky-chariots that had swarmed all over them

Beelzebub heard the scream that announced the arrival of more sky-chariots and cursed Belial. It was that pathetic minor lord with his wyverns who had given the humans the idea of using their sky chariots to attack forces on the ground. If he’d minded his own business and left war to the Great Dukes who were practiced in it, then his force would not be subject to these shattering attacks. Over his columns of retreating legions, two white sky-chariots made their pass, a stream of objects falling from their bellies and under their winds. The objects stopped abruptly in the air as their tails spread out, then they started to shed a cloud of small balls that dropped over the heads of his soldiers before exploding. By the time the smoke cleared, a gaping rent had been cleared in one of his columns, another legion savagely mauled.

Overhead, four more sky-chariots were already closing in, ugly, ungainly looking beasts compared with the sleek white creations than had just passed. They had flown overhead high up, then one had turned and dived, the others following their leader. They were slower too, much slower and Beelzebub briefly wondered where his harpies were, they could destroy beasts like that. Then he remembered, they were dead, wiped out by sky chariots and a magery to horrible to name or even envisage. His pride, his flock of harpies that had gained him his name of ‘Lord of the Fliers’ were dead, their corpses already rotting on the accursed field of the Phlegethon.

Beelzebub watched with resignation as the Sky Chariots got to work, pouring fire-lances into a mass of his foot soldiers that were clustered on the road. What was it for? His army was gone, defeated, destroyed, savaging the remnants like this made no sense at all. Then his spine started to bristle for two of the sky chariots had turned and seemed to be heading for him. He heard a weird noise that drowned out the wail of their battle-cry a rasping, crackling noise that coincided with fire burning in their nose. A few trident-lengths short of his, the ground erupted in a cloud of dust and broken rock, a cloud that raced across the stony soil of Hell and embraced him. Beelzebub felt the slam as the mage bolts tore into his body, felt them bite deep, spreading sickness and destruction permeate him. Without being aware of it, he had dropped to his knees, and he was too tired to move. So tired, tiredness he had never felt before, weakness that made him want to give up and sleep. Overhead, the other two Sky Chariots made their passes and fired two more fire lances. Had Beelzebub been aware they were called Mavericks, he might have appreciated knowing the name of his killer but he didn’t and their impact sent him spiraling down into the sleep that he craved.

Cliffton Council Estate, Nottingham, United Kingdom

It had been ten days now, ten days of being forced to sit here all day staring at the news channels until he had passed out from exhaustion. Even that brought little respite, the foul presence made sure that his sleep was uneasy and his dreams visions of fire and pain. The demons had relaxed their mental leash from time to time, just long enough to see to essential bodily functions, but Christopher was still unable to do so much as leave the house. Every time he'd tried the crushing pain overwhelmed him; after the third day he simply had no fight left in him. The presence did seem to change from day to day, as if different minds were taking control, but he hadn't been able to identify specific demons.

They'd made him watch Detroit burn and the feeling of glee had been even stronger than for Sheffield. The demons seemed certain that the destruction of humanity was inevitable and Christopher had despaired. But when President Bush had made his defiant speech promising swift retaliation, a flicker of hope had returned – not because of the man's inarticulate rhetoric, but because the echoes of harsh laughter in his head had rung hollow somehow. Finally the pictures had come, supposedly 'before and after' infra-red images of 'Satan's greatest stronghold'. The reaction from the hellish presence was difficult to read but seemed to be disbelief. Christopher could feel them prying at his mind, trying to use his own memories to justify the idea that the whole thing was a sham. Before the possession he would indeed have been the first to proclaim the reports a hoax, but now he took a bizarre pleasure in telling himself that it was the unvarnished truth. It was a small victory, but it seemed to be enough to make the demon presence lapse into a morose silence for the last day.

The low throbbing of a diesel engine became audible over the television before cutting off. Someone was coming, in a van by the sound of it. Christopher jerked his head around to stare at the front door, struck by a sudden mix of fear and hope. 15 Psyops group perhaps? There had been rumors of a British counter-possession unit on all the blogs... The doorbell rang, its cheerful little electronic tones seeming surreal in the nightmarish situation, and suddenly his body was moving, his possessor operating him like a puppet. He pulled the door back to reveal a lanky youth with a mop of jet black hair. He looked haggard and strangely blank. Behind him was a large yellow van, parked on the street in front of the house and bearing a logo for 'Dynaflow Plumbing and Electrical - Grimthorpe'.

"Mr Hughes?" Christopher nodded.

"She wants you to come with us. Do you know who I mean?" Christopher had no idea but apparently the demon did because he found himself nodding again.

"Into the back then please. Come on."

The newcomer pulled the house door shut. Christopher wanted to protest but of course he was powerless to do so. The rear windows of the van were blacked out. He got a brief glimpse of bronze scales and glittering eyes before he was shoved roughly inside and the doors clanged shut, trapping him in the dark interior. There was a brief pause before the engine started up again and the van moved off. He had no way of telling where it was going and in any case the prospect of meeting a demon in the flesh was occupying all of his attention.

With a click the darkness was replaced by the sight of a humanoid shape crouching on the floor, clad only in metallic scales and possessing great bat-like wings, a twitching tail and face taken straight from a nightmare. The thing held a fluorescent lantern in one hand and seemed vaguely female. Then there was pain, something lancing into his chest accompanied by a sputtering crack. Chrisopher cried out and pawed at his ribs, his fingers closing around a handful of quills, which he pulled out. The demon presence was still there but it seemed content to allow him to act on his own initiative for now. For a second he considered attacking the demon but that would be suicide, it had claws that looked razor sharp and more of the quills sticking out of the snake-like growths around its head. A minute passed in silence, save for the sound of the van's engine.

Christopher was finding it hard to focus. The creature was staring at him, it didn't seem to want to attack. Finally his curiosity triumphed over his fear.

"Who are you? What are you? Why am I here? What do..."

His voice trailed off as the demoness put a finger to her lips.

"My name is Lakheenahuknaasi, and I am your goddess." In reality her voice was still raspy, but to Christopher it seemed like honey. "I see evil has made you its servant, but not willingly. I will rid you of it."

That's enough Zatheoplekkar, I'll take it from here

Are you sure? The count ordered me to keep this one alive and possessed.

This is how the angels operated, and you know how devoted their servants were. I will take all responsibility. Release him... please.

Very well.


The winged bronze woman made an extravagant gesture and Christopher slumped forward, suddenly in control of his own body again. The demon presence seemed to be completely gone from his mind! All thanks to this creature, who was seeming more pleasant by the minute. "Thank you... thank you..." The combination of stress, exhaustion and the drug infusion was too much, and Christopher collapsed to the floor, out cold.

Lakheenahuknaasi snorted. The earth-humans were so weak. No matter, she would continue later. She turned back to the magic tome the younger human had given her, unfolding it and waiting for it to come alive again. The human device was a marvel. Specifically, it was a marvel of foolishness. The humans had somehow crammed the contents of a vast library into a single tome, but they had filled that library with details of their entire magical arsenal and handed out copies to their most minor laborers. Her tame human had shown her the invocations of 'goo gul' and 'wiccan pee-dee-ah', which had revealed to her a treasure trove of secrets. The last was protected by an insidious spell that caused her to constantly lose track of what she was looking for, flipping from page to page until she was reading irrelevant nonsense about 'collectible card games' and 'sonic the hedgehog'. She persevered though, as it clearly warranted such protection because it was so rich in secrets. The task was made even harder by the casual way in which the humans seemed to mix reality and legend. She was fairly sure that this 'James Bond' was a most dangerous enemy assassin, but the notion of whole cities being destroyed by pieces of the sun was clearly either mythology or propaganda. The 'yoo tuub' and cee-enn-enn spells had shown her images from Abigor's pathetic defeat – for all his failures, his warriors had managed to slay some humans. She was sure that if the humans had possessed such impossible magics, they would have destroyed his army outright rather than face the demons at such close quarters.

Lakheenahuknaasi had already conveyed more valuable information back to Queen Euryale on her own than Deumos had obtained (or at least, shared with the other demons) with all her thousands of succubae. Her wounds were almost healed and she was fairly sure she could fly again if she had to. The next step was to acquire more worshippers. Here on earth her enthrallment darts held for days at a time, so she could easily build a small cult around herself. She would work her way up into the higher ranks and discover the human's most secret plans. Certainly she would at least be made a baroness for her accomplishments.

Broken Skull Gallery, Shaft 14, Slocum Mine, Tartarus

Reusikaanophaar stalked through the tunnel, his hooves crunching on the gravel. He was in a particularly foul mood, all of the demons were. The humans seemed to have settled down again, but there was still something wrong with them, something he couldn't quite put his talon on. Still, he'd heard that the Count's attacks on the humans had been a resounding success. If Satan granted Belial new lands to rule then he'd be sending his loyal servants to occupy them and with luck that could mean a posting on the surface for Reusikaanophaar.

The light here was very dim, but there was definitely something moving ahead. The demon strained to pick out the details... definitely a human, and its chain was broken off.

"Human! On your knees! What are you doing..."

Instead of throwing himself to the ground in the usual manner, the human had taken to his heels and sprinted away. Reusikaanophaar bellowed as he brought his trident up, then let loose with a lightning bolt. He'd had little practice with the weapon in the last few centuries and the bolt went wide, drawing a spray of rock chips from the wall. The human darted into a side tunnel before he could fire again. The demon roared again and charged after the man, now thoroughly incensed. The stupid little thing couldn't escape, all the passages here were dead ends. But he probably wouldn't be allowed to eat it; apparently the convoys of fresh humans from the pit had been interrupted, which meant no killings unless the human actually fought back. Then again, in this remote part of the mine, who'd know?

Ah, there was the human, waiting at the next bend. Probably frozen in fear. Reusikaanophaar closed the distance, bringing his trident up again... and found himself suddenly weightless, surrounded by snapping planks and falling rock. Before he could realize what was happening, there was a horrible impact and he found himself flat on his back, writhing in pain from the bronze spikes piercing his torso. With a roar that was almost a scream, he tried to lever himself back up. He was at the bottom of a twenty foot pit, filled with splinters and gravel. The bottom had pick-axe heads set into it, now dripping with his own blood. The deep wounds hurt terribly but his limbs seemed to be intact, so he should still be able to climb out. Reusikaanophaar looked up to see the face of the human staring down at him. It was a trap of course, it knew it had no chance in honorable combat and had resorted to this cowardly pit. He cast about for his trident and soon enough his hand closed around its hilt, half-buried in the rubble. But before he could bring it to bear a great lump of rock landed on his arm, shattering the bones. Reusikaanophaar screamed and looked up - there were more human faces up there now, and more rocks coming down. Almost every bone in his body was broken were broken before one boulder mercifully fell straight on his skull. The demon's last thought was regret that he'd never see his mate again.

"Well done Simplicus. Going out to face that demon unarmed, that took true courage."

Publius had been overjoyed to find another of the legions here in the underworld mines, even though their lives had been separated by over a century. He had no idea who this 'Mithras' character the man kept mentioning was, but he clearly felt betrayed by him. In any case Simplicus was a reliable recruit with a good sense of discipline and right now that was what he needed most.

"It was nothing. Those brutes are thoroughly predictable. I doubt they've had an original thought in the last ten thousand years."

The younger man's words were modest but his tone was full of enthusiasm - Publius couldn't remember the last time he'd heard that. He'd spent many hours telling his men that the demons weren't invincible, that they would die like all flesh and blood if they could be hurt badly enough, but here was the proof.

"These ones maybe, the leaders though..." But now was not time to discuss what he'd learned about the demon activity on the surface.

"Come on men, let's get this leveled off and concealed. We don't want to give away our tricks before we have to."

Division Wall Between 5th and 6th Circles of Hell

“Looks like they are coming.” Colonel Andy Jackson looked across the Styx at the great wall that separated the fifth and sixth circles of Hell. Gates were opening at regular intervals along its base and troops were starting to pour out. “Time for some action I think.” He dropped his hand to the Bowman radio and patched through to his battery of 105mm guns. “Battery, target reference……” A quick check with the laser rangefinder built into his binoculars and a frown. The dust in the Hell atmosphere played havoc with laser-based equipment. The range read-out was flickering and changing Jackson made a quick guess and read out a six-figure set of coordinates. A ‘best guess’ was better than nothing.

The gunners had their pieces loaded and ready to go, it took only a few seconds for three shells to whistle overhead and explode on the far bank of the Styx. Jackson winced slightly, the shells were well short. “Up 300, fire for effect.” The train-like roar of the shells passing overhead was immensely satisfying. This salvo landed directly in front of one of the gates, turning the baldricks pouring through it into a tangled mass of casualties. Very impressive Jackson thought, But that’s just one gate of the eight or ten the baldricks are using. The rest of them are getting out and forming up unscathed. Time to do something about that.

“Support group, bring down mortar fire on the area between the wall and the river bank. Grenade machine guns, do the same, open fire as soon as baldrick formations are within range. Artillery, keep hitting the present target until I tell you differently. Forward observer, we need some air support, now.”

“We have Jags coming in Sir. They’ll be here in five minutes. Cluster bombs and cannon.”

“Very good, what the hell do you want here.” The last remark was addressed to Jade Kim who had dropped into place beside him.

“Situation report Sir.”

“You’re supposed to be with the flanking forces.”

“Yes Sir. But the people I’ve got there are perfectly capable and don’t need me to look over their shoulders.”

At least she knows how to delegate. Jackson thought, for a junior officer, she’s got a lot of promise. She’d probably go far if she wasn’t dead. “Very good then. Now situation?”

“No movement on our flanks Sir. I’ve got my gun armed people and those who are trained to handle guns but haven’t got them yet spread out. We’ll do it Russian style, the ones who haven’t got guns can pick up ones the casualties don’t need any more. Caesar’s bringing up reinforcements, he’ll throw them in at the right moment.” Kim grinned to herself, Caesar had been very busy for the last 24 hours. She had watched him and realized exactly why poor old Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus had never stood a chance.

“As long as he doesn’t get them in the way.” Jackson didn’t like the way Caesar was operating, he had no idea of what modern weaponry could do or the effects that it could have on the recipient of the firepower it generated. He could screw the whole battle up by getting his untrained personnel into the kill zones Jackson had so carefully set up. “Thank you Lieutenant, return to your flank command and hold there.”

“Sir.” Kim slid backwards and set off for her command. In theory, anyway, in fact, it was very important she didn’t go too far.

Across the river, the baldricks were forming up on the banks and starting to throw things into the water, things that floated. Others were carrying planks, the makings of a floating bridge. The mortars and artillery weren’t putting down enough firepower to stop them. That would change, Jackson thought. As he watched, he heard the grenade machine guns coughing and starting to pump their 40mm grenades into the teams assembling the bridges

The baldrick response was almost instantaneous; from along the top of the wall opposite, a great streak of lightning flashed out, lashing at the human-held bank of the river. Jackson guessed that the baldrick commander had a high proportion of his force up on that wall and were firing down at his positions to suppress fire. They learn very fast, very fast indeed ran through his mind. The fire wasn’t, couldn’t, cause many casualties but it would pin down his men and allow the baldricks to build their bridges and cross the river.

“Sir. Large baldrick movement on our right flank. At least four of their legions are moving up to the flank positions in regular formations.” Jackson grimaced as the radio spat out the message. That was it, game over. Kim’s tiny force couldn’t hold against an attack of that size, not even with the minefields and booby traps she had set up. Then the Bowman crackled again. “Sir, Harpies taking off from behind the wall.”

Jackson cursed then looked at the wall through his binoculars. The harpies were there all right, rising from behind the wall as reported. He did a quick count, gave up and made a guess. Eight hundred or so? He knew the enemy force had taken a heavy pounding from air attack on the way down by even the force left was more than he could cope with. What else did he face? He looked off to the right and saw the four great black squares of the baldrick legions advancing in column. They had harpies as well, a great cloud of them. Half a legion, 3,000 or more? This situation wasn’t just critical, it was a catastrophe in the making. Jackson had a nasty feeling that 2 PARA was about to join the Gloucesters as a part of the British Army’s list of gallant last stands. Then his grim thoughts were interrupted by Kim rejoining him.

“Lieutenant, what the hell are you doing here I ordered you to…”

“Sorry Sir, but I have to be here. Your Bowmans don’t talk to our SINCGARS and we need both communications nets working. Anyway, I’m here in my capacity as Caesar’s First Tribune, not as a U.S. Army Lieutenant.”

“Lieutenant, or whatever you want to call yourself, you are going to regret this.”

“Probably Colonel. But please take a look to your right.”

Jackson followed the suggestion. The great black blocks of the baldrick legions had advanced right up to the point where the human defenses started and then stopped. Then, as he watched, they changed subtly although he couldn’t work out why or how. The harpies overhead had also changed, they were splitting into two groups. Then, the ripple of lightning flashes erupted from the baldrick legions, not from the front as he had expected, but from the sides, directed over the river. The salvo tore into the baldricks trying to build the bridges, scattering them. As Jackson watched in disbelief, the harpy cloud crossed the river, the smaller group tackling the harpies rising from behind the wall, the larger group descending on the crenellations that topped that wall. Abruptly the barrage of lightning fire from the wall stopped as the baldricks up there stopped to fight off the harpies that were attacking them.

“Caesar’s brought up his reinforcements Colonel. Four legions of foot soldiers and a half-legion of harpies. The whole of the baldrick army that was on our right flank. Under the command of Plomniferasticas. He used to be one of Asmodeus’s lieutenants but when Asmodeus was killed he was left in command of the force Asmodeus had brought down. He didn’t have a liege-lord any more and wasn’t given one. So Caesar persuaded him to change sides. The baldricks on our left flank are also under the command of Plomniferasticas and they’ve changed sides as well. Plomniferasticas has sworn allegiance to Caesar, and to me by the way as Caesar’s tribune. The left flank force is the anvil, the right flank under Caesar is the hammer. Hold one.”

The radio in Kim’s hand was crackling. Kim lifted it to her ear and spoke quietly.

While she did so, Jackson took another look through his binoculars. Overhead was a swirling mass of harpies, studded with fire as the two flocks fought. The wall over the river looked like it was crowned with fire, lightning bolts sparkling as the garrison tried to fight off the harpies. Far off to the left, he saw the shapes of four RAF Jaguars hurtling through the overcast, bearing down on the baldrick force between the wall and the river. “Forward air control, tell those Jaguars, on no account to hit anything our side of the river, no matter what it looks like.” Jackson looked back at the baldrick force on his right, still pumping lightning bolts into the enemy ahead of them. Then the carnage caused by their fire was blanketed out by the greater slaughter of the cluster bombs exploding over the baldrick force gathered between the wall and the river. As the jets howled away, the legion at the far end of the baldrick line started to move forward, crossing the river.

“Caesar loves radios Sir.” Kim had finished taking her orders from Caesar. “He’s crossing the Styx now, his force will swing through 90 degrees, then advance with the wall on one flank and the river on the other, rolling up the enemy line. He wants 2 PARA to concentrate its fire, especially the artillery, on the baldricks ahead of him so they don’t get a chance to form up. Baldrick warfare depends on rigid formations, so if they can’t form up, they’ll be destroyed.”

Jackson nodded and gave the necessary orders over the radio. The artillery and mortar fire shifted, concentrating on the baldricks who had survived the cluster bombs. By the time he had his orders issued, Caesar had his legions across the river and had executed his change of front. Jackson watched fascinated, knowing he was the first living human to watch demons fighting demons. The front rank of Caesar’s legions fired their tridents at the disorganized mass in front of them, then dropped to one knee to recharge. The next rank passed through them, fired, and dropped as well, followed by the third and fourth ranks. The effect was a constant ripple of fire that ground into the baldrick ranks. The fire from 2 PARA completed the job and in front of him, Jackson saw the force that had threatened Free Hell dissolving into chaos.

“How did he do it Lieutenant?”

“He took my DVD player Sir. And disks we got last night of the fighting along the Phlegethon. He just told Plomniferasticas that he could be with us, then showed him film of the gas attack on the harpies and the Russian tanks smashing Beelzebub’s right wing. Or he could be against us and then he showed him the film of the battlefield, carpeted with layers of dead baldricks, mile after mile of them. Baldricks aren’t fools Sir, Plomniferasticas knew he couldn’t win against us so he changed sides.”

“But we couldn’t have stopped him. Not with them as well.”

“I know that Sir, you know that, Caesar knew that. Plomniferasticas didn’t know that. To him we are the Lords of War, unbeatable. We even blew up Satan’s palace, we didn’t get Satan himself by the way. Plomniferasticas isn’t afraid of Satan any more sir, but he’s mortally afraid of us. Oh, by the way, the army in front of us is commanded by one Xisorixus. Another Lieutenant of Asmodeus left adrift when the Grand Duke was killed. His army was basically Asmodeus’s portion of the sixth ring garrison plus odds and ends he scraped up. Not real legions at all. Plomniferasticas has real legions. Take a look.”

Jackson did as he was told. Across the river, Xisorixus’s army was collapsing, Large portions were throwing down their arms, the rest were being driven into small groups and cut down. At the forefront of the advancing legions was a single figure in polished bronze armor. Jackson didn’t need to be told that was Caesar. He was directing the troops, sending groups forward, navigating the advance so that it would do the maximum damage possible.

Kim’s radio crackled again. She listened and then smiled. “Cease fire Sir. Xisorixus has just been taken prisoner. Its all over. He’s quite a man isn’t he?”

Jackson looked sharply at Kim. She was smiling gently and there had been a lot more than just professional respect in her voice.
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Post by JN1 » 2008-07-16 12:07pm

Good old wikipedia, it should be a good source of disinformation. :lol:
One small nit pick, as a battalion C.O Jackson should be a Lt. Colonel rather than a full colonel, which in the British Army would make him a staff officer.
It's wouldn't be the first time 2 PARA has been destroyed, btw. I guess the current members of the battalion may eventually encounter their predecessors killed at Arnhem.
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Post by Bayonet » 2008-07-16 12:19pm

Ave Caesar!

The baldheaded old bastard is going to be a power to be reckoned with, isn't he?

I hope Second Consul Kim isn't the jealous sort!
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Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2008-07-16 12:42pm

I'm sorry, did Julius Caesar just bluff his way into the command of four demonic legions? I'm pretty sure he's the only person in hell with Humans, Undead, and demons under his command at this point.

Also;
Beelzebub heard the scream that announced the arrival of more sky-chariots and cursed Belial. It was that pathetic minor lord with his wyverns who had given the humans the idea of using their sky chariots to attack forces on the ground. If he’d minded his own business and left war to the Great Dukes who were practiced in it, then his force would not be subject to these shattering attacks.
I find it hilarious that Beelzebub believes Belial invented the concept of Close Air Support.
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Post by Bayonet » 2008-07-16 01:03pm

CaptainChewbacca wrote: I find it hilarious that Beelzebub believes Belial invented the concept of Close Air Support.
Perhaps he did, ten thousand yers ago. But we never read his after action reports. 8)
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Post by Darth Wong » 2008-07-16 01:15pm

Ahhhhh, a new chapter. My withdrawal symptoms are starting to fade.

I'm curious what Euryale now knows, or thinks she knows, about human military capabilities. As much as one might scorn Wikipedia as a serious research source, its information is certainly good enough to get a general idea of what kinds of weapons humans have at their disposal, as long as you confine your searches to the term "weapons" and don't get too far off track. If her spy found her way to entries about James Bond and Sonic the Hedgehog, she's obviously wandered deep into the off-topic material.
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Post by Darmalus » 2008-07-16 01:19pm

I thought she was doing it personally, with a laptop. With the whole "insidious spell" comment.

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Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2008-07-16 01:36pm

Holy shit! Goddamn Caesar!

Ave Caesar!
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