Armageddon???? - Part Eighty One Up

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Post by Starglider » 2008-08-07 04:31pm

Sidewinder wrote:By the way, will the demons end up poisoning themselves through the extended use of iron weapons, e.g., the matchlocks Belial's henchdemons are making?
The matchlock project just got canceled for being functionally useless. That was simply Trajakrithoth's first attempt at replicating a human weapon - actually he did pretty well given the limited time, resources and skills available, though it's telling that he demonstrated the modified human shotgun prototype rather than one of his native ones (which would've had a significant risk of exploding in his face). He's been ordered to come up with something more impressive or die trying.

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Post by Edward Yee » 2008-08-07 04:36pm

Darth Wong wrote:Its best attribute is the fact that it is well-hidden and deep underground, so it is not easily located or destroyed.
Which seems to be the main selling point, considering the demonstrated strike capability of human forces against more visible targets. After all, there's bunker busters to deal with "deep underground," and then there's actually finding it -- Stuart may have a reason that it can't just be aerially spotted, i.e. would Abigor even know that it exists?
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Post by JN1 » 2008-08-07 04:46pm

Sidewinder wrote:I imagine the cultists' attacks will raise a hell of a lot of hysteria (pun intended). Of course, this will likely shorten the life of the Earthbound gorgon, as vigilantes, the police, the military, and any other group of armed humans take notice of such activity.
I suspect that with the increased security that goes along with wartime these attacks may be harder to execute than might otherwise be the case. In the UK for example under the Emergency Powers the security forces can declare the area around an important installation as being a defence area and keep the public out.
All that planning we did to deal with Soviet special forces, the PIRA and Al Q will come in pretty handy.
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Post by DarthShady » 2008-08-07 04:59pm

It was about time. :D

Awesome chapter, I loved Marina's part.
Belial waved dismissively. “Fine, tell her to continue. But I have a more urgent task for you. The humans have revealed themselves to be a more formidable enemy than the Enemy himself ever was. It is time to see whether the Enemy of our enemy might be our friend.”
Does this mean that the Baldricks will ask the Angels for help?

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Post by Darth Wong » 2008-08-07 05:19pm

DarthShady wrote:
Belial waved dismissively. “Fine, tell her to continue. But I have a more urgent task for you. The humans have revealed themselves to be a more formidable enemy than the Enemy himself ever was. It is time to see whether the Enemy of our enemy might be our friend.”
Does this mean that the Baldricks will ask the Angels for help?
That seems pretty obvious. It remains to be seen what the response will be. As they have often forewarned, Uriel waits in the wings. But the forces of Hell are already so weakened that the Heavenly Host may decide there is nothing to be gained from attempting to intervene in what is by now already a lost cause, and they might as well fortify Heaven instead. And given the millennia of mutual animosity, they are probably not inclined to help anyway.

As for Belial, he must be deliberately deceiving his fellow demons on some level. He knows that Abigor defected to the humans, and he seems quite confident that Abigor has profited from doing so. So he must also know that the humans do not necessarily wish to exterminate every demon, and that demons (or as we have seen, entire legions of them) can switch sides to their gain.

However, he must also know that the humans intend to exterminate him for his WMD strikes on Detroit and Sheffield, and so the option of surrendering no longer exists for him. His rhetoric to his fellow demons is designed to conceal that option from them as well. At this point, it seems to me that everything Belial does is geared toward his own survival.
Last edited by Darth Wong on 2008-08-07 05:25pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-08-07 05:25pm

JN1 wrote:AUTEC: - Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center.

Nice work, Stu. Hope you enjoyed your holiday.
Edit: Sounds like Palelabor is full of Morlocks. :wink:
I wonder if the RN is looking at all of those T42s it recently decommissioned, HMS Bristol and possibly HMS Belfast, Cavalierand Caroline (probably not the last one though). We'd probably be rushing the first two 'D' class destroyers into service certainly...which gives me an idea. :wink:
HMS Belfast might be restored to service because the RN is simply more desperate--for the USN, only a steam-fired ship in pristine condition is worthwhile, thus ruling out the Little Rock in Buffalo, for example (that and the Talos emplacement is just dead space). For the Royal Navy, a rusted half-sunken hulk might be a viable investment because they're simply that much more worse off. I'd definitely expect to see HMS Bristol back in service, though. Obviously not Caroline, but Cavalier is not totally impossible. Any T42s still in British hands and any decommed frigates you might still happen to have would also be restored to service.
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Post by Illuminatus Primus » 2008-08-07 05:28pm

I imagine if anything, Belial will offer to secede much of Hell back to Heaven, or place is protectorate to it, in exchange for military relief.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-08-07 05:35pm

Mr Bean wrote: Restored Steam Battleships?
DD-951 USS Turner Joy is a Forrest Sherman class destroyer. It is not remotely a battleship. It just happens to have a beautifully pristine and intact steam plant aboard, which to my knowledge no other museum ship in the country has--unless someone has some information to the contrary about the other main candidates. I understand USS Salem is in poor shape, and that would leave the Barry, also Forrest Sherman class, the WW2-vintage destroyers, and the aforementioned Little Rock to be evaluated--short of photographic evidence that the engine room looks pristine and intact, though, it would be unreasonable of us to assume a ship can be restored to service, at least by USN criteria. The Royal Navy might well take the effort to restore some museum ships down to the installation of CODAG or whatever due to the sheer desperation for ships they'd be in at the moment. As I noted, the Germans are restoring Mölders, but she only decommissioned very recently, so that's much more reasonable.
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Post by Starglider » 2008-08-07 05:37pm

Darth Wong wrote:As for Belial, he must be deliberately deceiving his fellow demons on some level. He knows that Abigor defected to the humans, and he seems quite confident that Abigor has profited from doing so.
Belial doesn't hesitate to deceive when it suits his purposes, but his current mindset is more a case of willful ignorance. Throughout the story he's been mirror-imaging; that's how he got the notion of striking human weapons production (because his own power base is based on weapons manufacture). Now he thinks that the ultimate human goal must be the revenge-fueled extermination, because that's exactly what he'd do in their place. Belial perceives everything through this lens, twisting it to fit where necessary. As yet it hasn't been a stretch for him; his personal experience of the humans has consisted solely of watching them kill demons with great efficiency. Unlike Deumos or even Euryale he hasn't picked up anything about their culture yet.

As for Abigor, Belial considers him the mirror-image of the human traitors he's tricked into working for him; Belial would cheerfully serve those humans as dinner at his victory banquet, and he simply takes it as written that the humans are planning the same kind of gratitude for Abigor and co.
However, he must also know that the humans intend to exterminate him for his WMD strikes on Detroit and Sheffield, and so the option of surrendering no longer exists for him. His rhetoric to his fellow demons is designed to conceal that option from them as well. At this point, it seems to me that everything Belial does is geared toward his own survival.
Certainly Belial would deny and suppress any evidence that the humans might be merciful, for exactly that reason.

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Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2008-08-07 05:49pm

What if Palelabor conceals some sort of weapon/power/energy that Belial can use to leverage cooperation out of heaven?

A second heavengate, perhaps? The celestial equivalent of a nuke?
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Post by Zim » 2008-08-07 08:35pm

I wonder what Belial's future goals are currently. He knows Hell can't triumphs over the humans militarily, so the best they can hope for is to bleed them until they agree to some sort of armistice.

Unfortunately, Belial's also shrewd enough to know that Satan wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice him to the humans as the perpetrators of the Sheffield/Detroit attacks.

I guess that leaves defecting to heaven.

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Post by Morilore » 2008-08-08 01:34am

Omigod, I just realized that this has become a High Fantasy story. In addition to a fragile, multi-national human Alliance and a demonic horde comprised of various fantasy game NPC foes, we have the undead, "elves" (angels), orcs, and now dwarves. Fucking dwarves.

Do humans have a derogatory nickname/technical term for angels like "baldrick" yet? I may have missed it.
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Post by Sidewinder » 2008-08-08 01:36am

Zim wrote:I wonder what Belial's future goals are currently. He knows Hell can't triumphs over the humans militarily, so the best they can hope for is to bleed them until they agree to some sort of armistice.
Like what the Japanese planned to do after the Battle of Midway, when they realized they had no hope of defeating the US?

Belial's about to learn how far we humans will go to get an enemy we've identified as a direct threat to our existence, to accept unconditional surrender or be exterminated, whichever works best to neutralize the threat. Things will get ugly for us humans, but it'll be considerably worse for the demons.
Unfortunately, Belial's also shrewd enough to know that Satan wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice him to the humans as the perpetrators of the Sheffield/Detroit attacks.

I guess that leaves defecting to heaven.
A defector needs to offer something desirable to the people he/she is defecting to, or those people will just leave the would-be defector to his/her fate. Belial may offer intel on human weaknesses, e.g., convince Yahweh that He can crush the humans if he destroys the forges where the human weapons are built, where those forges are, and how to defend Himself from weapons that us humans already has; if Yahweh doesn't find Belial's claims convincing, then Belial has nowhere to go but to the "higher dimension" demons go to when they die (assuming this dimension exists).
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 starslayer » 2008-08-08 01:58am

Morilore wrote:Do humans have a derogatory nickname/technical term for angels like "baldrick" yet? I may have missed it.
Nothing official yet, but a couple of people in the commentary have been calling them "Percys."

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Post by EdBecerra » 2008-08-08 03:51am

CaptainChewbacca wrote:... or some unholy, self-replicating demon of destruction perhaps.
Hell has found Pee-Wee Herman?! :lol:

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Post by EdBecerra » 2008-08-08 03:58am

starslayer wrote:
Morilore wrote:Do humans have a derogatory nickname/technical term for angels like "baldrick" yet? I may have missed it.
Nothing official yet, but a couple of people in the commentary have been calling them "Percys."
Given how hypocritical and two-faced the angels seem the few times we've seen them, might as well go all the way and call them "Percy Weasley's."

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Post by JBG » 2008-08-08 04:20am

"HMS Belfast might be restored to service because the RN is simply more desperate--for the USN, only a steam-fired ship in pristine condition is worthwhile, thus ruling out the Little Rock in Buffalo, for example (that and the Talos emplacement is just dead space). For the Royal Navy, a rusted half-sunken hulk might be a viable investment because they're simply that much more worse off. I'd definitely expect to see HMS Bristol back in service, though. Obviously not Caroline, but Cavalier is not totally impossible. Any T42s still in British hands and any decommed frigates you might still happen to have would also be restored to service."

Anyone know of the condition of HMAS Vampire, moored at the Australian Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour? Any RN Darings about? Apart from that the RAN tends to sink it's decommed warships as dive attractions. Our last Adelaide class ( Charlie Adams (!) ) was so sunk just before the message so it just missed being torn apart to assist in the rebuilding of Mölders.

"I imagine if anything, Belial will offer to secede much of Hell back to Heaven, or place is protectorate to it, in exchange for military relief."

If any deal is struck, Belial or indeed anyone from hell, will be the supplicant, notwithstanding curious weaponry. Imagine as a Gedankenexperiment that Hell is Taiwan and Heaven is the PRC for the sort of concessions that Heaven would seek to extract.

"What if Palelabor conceals some sort of weapon/power/energy that Belial can use to leverage cooperation out of heaven?

A second heavengate, perhaps? The celestial equivalent of a nuke?"


His comments about the shotgun may have been for "public consumption". Otherwise he's unsure of what he has up his sleeve ( ie Palelabor ). For all the as yet unrevealed secrets of Palelabor are deep and non-transportable. When the human air strike comes, as he knows it will, his sub-terranium and surface operations will be seperated as the surface forces move to Asmodeous's realm as foreshadowed.

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Post by ray245 » 2008-08-08 05:38am

Could the Palelabor in this case be a self-destruction button of hell?

It will sure destroy a huge amount of the military in hell...

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Post by Stuart Mackey » 2008-08-08 05:44am

The Duchess of Zeon wrote:.snip Any T42s still in British hands and any decommed frigates you might still happen to have would also be restored to service.

Belfast might be doable, the trouble is the condition of her propulsion plant , and I simply dont know what its like, and I shudder to think given the scope and funds required for preservation of such a ship. But It would be quicker to build a destroyer than get Belfast going again, but a static weapons platform should be possible given shore based power.
Caroline would be an interesting case because all she lacks is engines and weapons, but although easier and simpler than Belfast getting an engine plant would be damn hard for her.
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Post by JN1 » 2008-08-08 05:49am

I believe that Belfast is in pretty good condition and from pics I've seen in Brown's 'The Grand Fleet' Caroline does have much of her machinery intact. However IMVHO she's best left as a Stone Frigate.
The main problem with Belfast is that I believe that her main armament has probably been demilitarised.

I'll have a check tonight and see if I can come up with a list of recently withdrawn warships and ones that might be rushed into service.
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Post by Stuart Mackey » 2008-08-08 07:36am

JN1 wrote:I believe that Belfast is in pretty good condition and from pics I've seen in Brown's 'The Grand Fleet' Caroline does have much of her machinery intact. However IMVHO she's best left as a Stone Frigate.
Yeah, too much work for what the hull can put out.
The main problem with Belfast is that I believe that her main armament has probably been demilitarised.
Oh? I got the impression from the guides when I was there that it was functional, of course I could be wrong, it was a good number of years ago. Best way would be to ask, but I dont know their response times.
Another issue with Belfast is ammunition, its 152mm not 155mm iirc.


I just had a look at HMS Cavalier's info and I don't think she is a goer, too much time not being adequately maintained, esp her hull.
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Post by Patrick Ogaard » 2008-08-08 07:44am

About all the old warships being reconditioned, my question is why the various militaries haven’t appropriated the dozens of warship-derived luxury yachts in the world? Confiscate all yachts from 50 meters on up, yank out the luxury accommodations (especially the flammable bits), weld in some additional bulkheads below the water line, install the necessary electronics and as many deck guns and lightweight missile installations (like SeaRAM) as the ship will bear without overloading itself or its crew, and you’ve got a small warship. It won’t measure up against a real, modern warship, but it should be enough to be a serious threat to Baldrick forces. That is, until conventional warship building catches up.

High end luxury yachts like Octopus and Rising Sun, both over 120 meters long, would be prime candidates for that treatment, but even a luxury yacht of 50 meters or so could make a useful escort for one of its bigger cousins.

Similarly, there probably isn’t as much call for cruise ships anymore, leaving ships available to be snapped up by interested governments. A militarized cruise ship could serve handily as a kind of base ship. There’d be plenty of room for the installation of extensive hospital facilities if needed, large troop contingents could be transported, and recreational facilities would probably be appreciated by the deployed troops. Plus, there’s a place to stash the inevitable reporters and fact-finding dignitaries, where they won’t be underfoot on the real warships. Also, a military cruise ship’s armament, while obviously limited to the lightest naval weaponry, could be massive just by virtue of there being so much of it, and so many people available to operate it.

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Post by Darth Wong » 2008-08-08 10:09am

ray245 wrote:Could the Palelabor in this case be a self-destruction button of hell?

It will sure destroy a huge amount of the military in hell...
Are you on drugs? A "self-destruct button"? Hell has been hiding a weapon of apocalyptic power which can wipe out a Pangaea sized land mass, when their next most powerful weapon has been trident blasts and a crude medieval-style firearm?
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Post by Einhander Sn0m4n » 2008-08-08 11:22am

Dwarf Fortress, ROFL!
Darth Wong wrote:
ray245 wrote:Could the Palelabor in this case be a self-destruction button of hell?

It will sure destroy a huge amount of the military in hell...
Are you on drugs? A "self-destruct button"? Hell has been hiding a weapon of apocalyptic power which can wipe out a Pangaea sized land mass, when their next most powerful weapon has been trident blasts and a crude medieval-style firearm?
Mike, we're talking about ray two forty fucking five here. Count us lucky he hasn't pissed on the thread a thousand times worse!
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Post by Stuart » 2008-08-08 01:03pm

RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, UK.

Flight Sergeant John Archibald wiped his brow, reflecting on the fact that changing the gun pack on a Hunter FGA.9 had never been as hard work ‘back in the day’, at least it was not a Lightning ‘quick change pack’. If ever there was a misnamed piece of equipment that was it. Still he and the other ‘old timers’ needed to show these young National Servicemen and women how to do the job of rearming an aircraft and demonstrate that they were still up to the job themselves.

“And that, boys and girls is how we change the gun pack on a Hunter.” He paused for a second to let a patrol of Hawk T.1A trainers, once painted in bright red and white colors, but now hastily painted grey and armed with AIM-9Ls and a 30mm gun pod, take off behind them. “Not as difficult as you might have thought, was it? “We’ll get you started on changing gun packs today and once you’re proficient on that we’ll move onto something more challenging like a SNEB rocket pod, or one thousand pound bomb.”

Before retiring from RAF service as a sergeant Archibald had been an armorer, mainly working on Lightnings and Phantoms. Amongst the milestones of his career had been when a Phantom FGR.2 he had been responsible for had managed to accidentally shoot down a Jaguar GR.1, and he and some colleagues had once managed to trick an airman into standing guard over a WE.177 that was supposedly leaking ‘liquid plutonium’. His face when the ‘clean up crew’ arrived in full NBC gear had been a picture; sadly the RAF Police had been less impressed by the joke. Like so many other service pensioners once Queen’s Order Two had been signed he had found himself back in RAF blue, though at least he now wore a crown above the three chevrons of his former rank.

The RAF had deliberately chosen to form a number of new squadrons equipped with the Hunter. There were still many of them around in airworthy condition, the Avon engine was still in production for industrial use, they were rugged aircraft, not so sophisticated that they would need lots of technical support, yet fast enough to be able to deal with Harpies if necessary, and had a useful ground attack capability. The first source of Hunters that the RAF had turned to had been the one’s the service owned itself, aircraft in taxiable condition that were use for ground movements training, and British museums. After that they had gone abroad, buying some Swiss Hunters, before going as far a field as Zimbabwe, India and Chile, looking for potential airframes. Fortunately the majority of those aircraft exported were either FGA.9s, or had been based on that model, so commonality was not too much of a problem, though the most troublesome aircraft had been the ex-Royal Navy GA.11s which had to have ADEN cannons and ‘Sabrinas’ fitted to them, both of which were not always easy to source.

One other advantage of using the Hunter was that it was a good aircraft to teach newly qualified pilots and ground crew on. The RAF had also been lucky that the Hunter had survived in such prolific numbers and that there was no great shortage of spares. Besides learning to manufacture some spare parts on a lathe was good training for some of the conscripts. Some Hunters had already joined the Tornado F.3s and Hawk T.1As in performing Combat Air Patrol duties over the UK while the small number of FR.10s and similar Photo Reconnaissance variants had already proven themselves to be a useful Tac Recce asset to CINC-Combined UK Land Forces.

One other somewhat newer aircraft the RAF had considered was the English Electric Lightning. The problem with this aircraft, however, was that apart from the former Saudi and Kuwaiti aircraft, they could only carry out the air to air mission and were rather lightly armed for the anti-Harpy role. . Still, the air force could not really afford to ignore a potential combat aircraft, at least not until more Typhoons, Tornado GR.4s and the new Hawk FGR.2 were delivered. Even the Tornado F.3 had managed to diversify into the anti-Harpy mission and the RAF was now looking at adapting some of the F.3s it had brought out of storage to carry other types of air to ground ordnance Given his experience working on the Lightning it was inevitable that as well as his duties which involved training National Servicemen Flight Sergeant Archibald would also be assigned to the Lightning Training Flight that had been established at Scampton. Once he was able to hand over supervision of the trainees to a sergeant he drove over to the dispersal of the LTF, which was currently made up of four two-seat T.5s and five F.6s. The air force was hoping to get a few more F.6s and F.53s operational, but for now this small force was it.

The first problem after restoring the aircraft that the RAF had faced was arming them, while 30mm ADEN shells were plentiful enough and still in production, there were not exactly lots of Red Top missiles around. Back in the 1970s the RAF had trialed fitting AIM-9 Sidewinders to a Lightning F.6 as a possible replacement for the Red Top, though the MoD had decided that there was no money available for such a modification to an aircraft soon to leave service. Now the armorers of the LTF were working on fitting AIM-9Ls to their aircraft and getting missile and weapons computer to talk to each other.

“How’s it going?” He asked another Flight Sergeant armorer once he had arrived.

“It’s not bloody well going, Jack. The ruddy missile will fit.” He said pointing to an AIM-9L attached to the nearest Lightning. “But the bloody plane’s weapons computer, such as it is, doesn’t want to know. Damned thing has less processing power than my watch.

“I don’t suppose somebody has found a bunker full of Red Tops so we can knock this on the head by any chance.”

“Sadly not, this is something we’ll need to crack on with. You be nice to the Lightning and it will eventually do what you want it to.”

Archibald shook his head, perhaps the Lightning was going a step too far. It was just at the awkward point of development, too complex to run as a simple gun-truck like the Hunter, not complex enough to carry modern equipment. That brought him to the next item on his list of duties, one he was looking forward to. He had to go to Nottingham and pick up a cache of electronics equipment and technicians then bring them back to this base. It really was amazing what the RAF had stashed away over the years and, in many cases, forgotten that they ever had it. Perhaps the idea of a bunker full of Red Top missiles wasn’t so outlandish after all. Anyway, he had to take a small convoy of trucks over and that was the pleasant bit. Just over 100 kilometers and petrol rationing meant that the roads would be clear. A pleasant drive in the countryside was just what was needed to take thoughts of the Lightning’s balky computer out of his mind.

Three hours later, he was on the outskirts of Nottingham, doing the unthinkable. He was asking directions. His little convoy had managed to take a wrong turning and somehow got hopelessly off course. The problem was that somebody, in a fit if excessive zeal or perhaps ingrained memory of anti-paratrooper precautions from World War Two, had taken down all the street names. Rather than waste precious petrol he’d stopped at the first large store he’d seen, a garden supply center, and gone in to find out where he was and what he had to do to go where he was supposed to. His uniform had got him some quick attention.

“Twelve sacks of fertilizer.” The voice came from behind him, from a man speaking to one of the service clerks.

“Any particular kind sir?”

“Nutrafin.”

That made the staff pay attention and Archibald’s ears pricked up. Nutrafin was an ammonium nitrate fertilizer and, while not exactly a controlled substance any more, it was an ‘object of interest’ when purchased in bulk. Twelve sacks of the stuff were more than slightly ‘bulk’. That made the purchase more than slightly ‘interesting’.

Discretely, Archibald turned around and looked at the would-be purchaser. He was unkempt, dirty, disheveled, well, a man who spent his time working on other people’s gardens and didn’t get paid more than a very basic wage could well look like that. There was something else about him though, something that Archibald couldn’t quite put his finger on. It was as if he wasn’t quite here, as if a part of him was detached. Perhaps he was educationally sub-normal and this was the best job he could get? But if that was the case, why would he have been trusted with what had to be a major purchase?

“I’m afraid we’ll have to get an order that large from the warehouse Sir. It’ll take a while, would you mind waiting? Or perhaps you’d like to come back for it?”

“I’ll wait. And hurry up, the Goddess is waiting.”

Normally a remark like that would have added at least 30 minutes to his wait time but the garden center staff had noted there was something odd about this man as well and wanted him out. Archibald sympathized with them but the incongruity of the remark nagged at him. A worker might well refer to an imperious and demanding female manager as “the goddess” but there was something in the man’s voice that belied that explanation. There had been an echo of love. Adoration even? For a brief second Archibald toyed with the idea that the man might be the bottom in a BDSM relationship but his sordid appearance didn’t fit that either. Then his distanced attitude clicked in Archibald’s mind. He’d read an intelligence report about the gorgon incidents around Sheffield, how they appeared to be able to control people, even those who were wearing their tinfoil hats. Eye witnesses to the two doomed police officers had remarked on their distant, remote appearance. And the gorgon had vanished despite an intense hunt.

“Look, do you have a large-scale map of the area in your back office? That would make sorting me out a lot easier.” Archibald spoke easily and was relieved that the on-the-ball manager picked up the hint.

“Yes, of course Flight Sergeant. Should have thought of that myself. Come with me.” The two men walked away, into a back office where there was no map but which did possess a telephone with an outside line.

“Thank’s. Can you stall that man until I get help?” The manager nodded and quietly left for the warehouse. Delays were about to multiply drastically. After all, nobody could work slower than a British worker when he put his mind to the problem. Behind him Archibald picked up the phone, punched “9” and then dialed the number for the service hotline.

“This is Flight Sergeant Archibald here. Could I speak with the duty officer please?”

“Captain Mannock here Sergeant.”

“Sir, I’m at the Moors Garden Center, just outside Nottingham. A man’s just come in here, asking for twelve sacks of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. He’s an odd one Sir, I may be all wet but I think he’s entranced. He’s acting just like the descriptions of those two coppers the gorgon killed. And nobody buys that much ammonium nitrate for their back yard.”

At the other end of the line, Richard Mannock drummed his pencil on the desk. It was weak, certainly, but this came from an NCO, almost certainly a recalled veteran. Such men did not jump at shadows. Anyway, the leads on the missing gorgon had dried up and there was nothing else to follow. And if gorgons could entrance people, then it was possible they might be able to exploit their knowledge. Most people knew how to make ANFO.

“Well done Sergeant. Can you follow him when he leaves?”

“I’ve got RAF trucks here Sir, bit obvious for a tail. Hold one.” He covered the mouthpiece with his hand and looked at the manager who was just re-entering the room. “We think we’ve got a line on the gorgon that did for Sheffield. Have you got a van or car I can borrow? And a cell-phone?”

“We’ve got the garden center van, its just a plain white one. And you can have my cell phone. But the petrol?”

“If the van’s full and we get the gorgon, I don’t think you’ll ever have to worry about petrol again. Thank’s mate.” Archibald took his hand off the mouthpiece. “Got both Sir. We owe the garden center manager who’s arranged them. Owe him a lot.”

“Noted Sergeant. Get on with the tail and don’t be seen. Call us when you’ve found where he’s going or if you lose him. We’re sending a team down now, they’ll be there in an hour or so. Even if this guy isn’t entranced and its something else, its still worth looking into.” The telephone clicked and Archibald guessed that wheels were already starting to turn very fast.

“Here’s the keys Flight Sergeant.” The manager handed them over and Archibald left by the back door, clutching a local map in one hand. A few minutes later, the suspect finished loading the sacks into the back of his car and, with the rear suspension sagging dangerously, left. Archibald eased out and followed him, trying to keep at least one car between them. It wasn’t hard, the man was driving slowly and steadily, apparently not paying any attention to what was happening around him. That caused a few outraged honks from horns but he apparently ignored them.

Eventually he turned into the driveway of a detached house in what looked like a council hosing complex. He got out of the car and opened the garage door, allowing Archibald to see more sacks of fertilizer stacked up inside. The Sergeant drove past, stopped a hundred yards or so down the road and then got on the cellphone. This time he got straight through to the duty officer.

“Captain Mannock Sir? Sergeant Archibald again. I’ve followed the suspect to his home, there’s a lot more fertilizer in his garage, saw it as I drove past. The address is.” Archibald fumbled the map for a second. “18 Grays Lane, Clifton Council Housing Estate.”

“Good man. An emergency response team is already on its way down. Wait where you are and they’ll be with you soon.” Mannock hesitated slightly, the Sergeant had done well and he didn’t want to sound as if he was putting the man down. “We’re sending in the heavy mob so they can do the rough stuff. We need you to identify the man from the garden store after they’ve finished cracking skulls.”

Archibald grinned to himself, he’d been in the RAF long enough to recognize a tactful ‘stay out of their way’ when he heard it. “Very good Sir. Message understood.”

He settled back in the driver’s seat and, on a whim, opened the glove compartment. To his delight there was a Mars bar and a Twix pack in. Munching on the chocolate and watching the house through his mirror, he almost missed the sight of two Chinook helicopters passing overhead.

B-1B “Dragon Slayer” 128th Bomb Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, On Route To Tartarus

Major Curtis Trafford shifted uncomfortably in his seat, knowing that it was going to get a lot worse. He had been airborne for ten hours, Dragon Slayer pounding north, over the sea of murk that represented the dust clouds covering Hell. They had traveled more that six thousand miles since take-off and he was already aware that he was now deeper into Hell than any living human had ever gone. He also knew that his status in that respect was increasing every minute as the B-1s continued their marathon flight and that meant the aircraft’s fuel tanks were steadily being depleted. Coming up was their first refueling point, the tankers were already closing in on the agreed rendezvous point and their beacons showed clearly on the navigational displays.

The aerial refueling arrangements were a thing of beauty. The tankers themselves, a mix of existing KC-10As and newly-modified KC-10Bs, had already refueled once on the way to the rendezvous and would have to refuel again on the way back. The arrangements for the next refueling of the B-1s, after they had completed their strike were even more complex, the KC-10s would have to refuel twice before making the rendezvous with each of their tankers themselves having to be refueled in mid-air on the way. Overall, more than 100 tankers were assigned to this mission and that didn’t change the fact that it only needed one of the B-1s to develop problems with its air-to-air refueling system and that aircraft would be inevitably lost. The only air base that could take them was 6,000 miles behind them and there were no alternatives or emergency landing fields.

On the other hand, this mission was the only way humans could strike at the source of the attacks that had destroyed Sheffield and Detroit. Not to mention the only way any further attacks of the kind could be prevented. There were special forces in the vicinity of Belial’s fortress, the radar beacon they were using for navigation proved that, but they lacked the strength and firepower to do much about the place. A long way south, two human aircraft carrier battle groups were due to enter the Hellish Sea and start pounding their way up north but even flat out it would be two weeks before they were on station – and supporting them this far away from a home base would be a real pain. No, for the moment, the bombers were it, the best and most plausible form of striking at the source of the sky-volcanos.

“Tankers ahead Curt.” The co-pilots voice was relieved. It hadn’t quite been decided what to do if the complex refueling arrangements hadn’t worked. The B-1s couldn’t make it to the target area without refueling so if the refueling went sour, the aircraft went down. Trafford assumed that the only course of action would be to walk out but 6,000 miles was a long way by B-1. On foot it was an impossibility even forgetting the hostile environment of Hell. So, seeing the glint of red as the light flashed off the silver wings of the tankers was a great relief.

“Got them. This is Foxhound Leader to all Foxhounds. Tankers in sight, prepare for refueling.” Trafford relaxed a little and shifted in his seat again. “3,750 miles out, none of us are going to walk right for a month after this.”

“There’s always the steam baths and massages.” His co-pilot’s voice was droll, the idea came from an old film starring Jimmy Stewart and its ideas on post-flight treatment were a long-standing bomber crew joke.

“Yeah, right. It look to you like the clag is a bit thinner up here? Sometimes I’d swear I can almost see the ground down below.”

“Just your imagination Curt. Take two reality pills and remember we’re bombing the crap out of Hell.”
Last edited by Stuart on 2008-08-08 04:04pm, edited 1 time in total.
Nations do not survive by setting examples for others
Nations survive by making examples of others

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