The Salvation War: Pantheocide. Part Forty One Up

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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2009-05-23 12:25pm

With the current F-22 line still producing planes, I would think that they would make more F-22s rather than less.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Pelranius » 2009-05-23 12:38pm

One would want to keep the F-22As around, though they aren't going to be exactly high priority. There are a whole bunch of other nations on Earth and even with the Event, there's still the chance of latter unpleasantness breaking out.

F-22As would be good for frying Baldricks and Angels with their radars, but sometimes a UCAV would just be a more cost effective solution.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2009-05-23 01:56pm

Yeah, that's not really touched upon, is it? How did the Salvation War affect UAV development?

I wonder what post-Pantheocide plans for the Earth governments are. Could there be a new Cold War, like that which broke out after WW2?
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Kodiak » 2009-05-23 02:49pm

"Screw them, they're out of service for weeks. Our boys fighting down in Hell need the Warthogs."
I've heard it both ways, but is the A-10 a Warthog or a Warhog?
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Scottish Ninja » 2009-05-23 02:59pm

It's Warthog, with the "t".
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2009-05-23 03:16pm

Stuart's back-and-forth with the guy is funny, but methinks he's enjoying inlining links a bit too much :-P

Edit: Reading the tropes page, they actually put the ENOLA GAY back into service? I missed that one.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Setzer » 2009-05-23 03:19pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:Excellente!

So there are still major combat operations in Hell? I thought with Satan dead and the regime change, there would be mass surrenderings and the need for major combat operations would be gone. Why does humanity still need A-10 strafing runs in Hell?

And why did you make the B-2 Spirit extinct? Personal preferences? :D
I think it was mainly that the B-52 sufficed for bombing, and there were so many more already built. The B-2 was simply a victim of a production bottleneck.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Stuart » 2009-05-23 03:30pm

fnord wrote:Damn that TVTropes entry is a funny read, and the exchange with the nutjob had me in stitches. I could almost hear a smooth-as-single-malt British accent calmly and with wry humour pulling the other guy apart.
It is interesting isn't it? What fascinates me is the way people come up with criticisms that have no relation to the contents of the book. It's tending to suggest that they've looked at the plot subject, decided they don't approve and then made up reasons to justify their pre-determined opinion. By the way, I deny absolutely that I insinuated the guy didn't know what he was talking about; I was under the impression I'd said that directly and unambiguously. Still, there we are. I'm very fond of that TVTropes entry, it's given me a lot of food for thought and a lot of useful ideas.
Shroom man 777 wrote: So there are still major combat operations in Hell? I thought with Satan dead and the regime change, there would be mass surrenderings and the need for major combat operations would be gone. Why does humanity still need A-10 strafing runs in Hell?
That's more or less what the previous administration thought would happen in Iraq - and the presumption is just as wrong. Well, sort of, in both Hell and Iraq major combat operations as classically defined were over but that's a lomg way from saying all combat operations are over. Hell is a huge place, its land area is almost double that of Earth and a much higher proportion of that area is habitable. So there are a lot of very nasty surprises lurking in the wings (Stas Bush has already touched on one). Also, some daemons didn't get the word, others decided to fight on, and there are troubles with the humans swarming out of Hell and the dead arriving from Earth to deal with. In fact humans have got their hands full. In some ways, Pantheocide is showing the mirror image of Armageddon. Armageddon showed the war almost as the daemons saw it, the humans well-nigh invincible shredding everything that got in their way. Now, we're seeing the situation from the other side of the hill, the human armed forces are desperately short of spares and support, they have maintenance requirements backed up past the ying-yang, they're struggling to keep their armed forces in the field and properly supplied.
And why did you make the B-2 Spirit extinct? Personal preferences?
Basically, it was a choice of either the B-1 or B-2. I chose the B-2 because they are concentrated on a single airbase and thus very vulnerable. Taking out the B-1 force would mean hitting multiple airbases simultaneously. You know, I had the same question writing The Big One, why did I bomb Paris? Coupled with accusations of Francophobia. The decision there was determined by a single factor as well. The choice was bombing Whitehall in London or the Champs d'Elysee. What decided that one was that Whitehall had a big bend in it that made tracking bombs down its length impossible, the Champs d'Elysee was more or less straight and this an easy target. Believe it or not, that was the only factor that influenced the decision. Likewise the B-2; the single airbase concentration was it.
Kingdragon wrote:What happened to the F-22? Was it still canceled?
The F-22 hasn't been cancelled, the plan was to build 184 and that's how many Gates budgeted. In TSW, Boeing get an unlimited production contract on F-22s - the Government will take every one that the company can build. The same orders apply to the F-16 and F-18 although the F-35 is cancelled to make way for added production of the big three. That's why Rockwell got brought back to life as an autonomous dvision of Boeing, it allows them to work on the problems of getting the Bone back into production without interfering with the demands of the new aircraft. That's also why Westinghouse are back in the jet engine business, they're trying to find ways of building old engines that are needed to keep older aircraft running while GE and Pratt concentrate on churning out as many modern engines as they can.
Shroom Man 777 wrote:I wonder what post-Pantheocide plans for the Earth governments are. Could there be a new Cold War, like that which broke out after WW2?
Wait untl volume three :D
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Sky Captain » 2009-05-23 03:52pm

It`s back!!! My second favorite story after Children of Heaven is back :D And it begins with a bang.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by SCRawl » 2009-05-23 04:22pm

I'll add to the pile-on that it's great to see more content in this story.

As for the formal publication, do I assume correctly that we'll be getting more information about where/how we can purchase hard copies? Will it be sold through the (more or less) conventional retailers?
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Magister Militum » 2009-05-23 05:07pm

As someone who followed your first story devotedly (albeit as a lurker), I have to say that I'm really looking forward to Pantheocide and the rest of the trilogy, as well as the publishing of The Salvation War.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Stan » 2009-05-23 06:48pm

Glad to see this start. I read Armageddon with interest, but was pained to see all the grammatical and spelling errors. If this is to be published (I want a copy!!!), it needs professional editing. I look forward to the continued episodes.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Peptuck » 2009-05-23 08:40pm

Oh my heavens, the TVTropes entry has me in stitches. Apparently, if you're technologically superior to your enemy to a degree that they stand no hope of a chance against you, that means you're a Mary Sue.

Shit, we better let the British Empire know they were Mary Sues when they went into Africa!

Also, lol at this line: "It doesn't help that the site where the story is posted brooks almost no negative feedback." Someone has been burned by SD.net before.

What's particularly amusing here is that that page is a classic misuse of the Just Bugs Me pages on TVTropes. Just Bugs Me is supposed to be for plot holes and "fridge logic," aka stuff that doesn't make sense from a plot perspective. The only part of it that would (and normally should) be allowed on a Just Bugs me page is the paragraph about elemental iron and Stuart's response to it; the rest is just whining. Instead its being used by someone to essentially complain about a story they don't like, which normally gets purged. I'm halfway tempted to purge it myself, but its too darn amusing.

EDIT: Ah, hell with it. I've purged the conversation on grounds of not following the basic rules of the JBM pages. If anyone wants to see the argument itself, its on the history.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by JBG » 2009-05-23 11:25pm

It is great to see the second book commencing Stuart. Like the first book it is starting with a, pardon the French, WTF chapter!

A good call on the B2s. The simple logic of the choice is supported by the, IMHO, greater utility of the B1, not to mention its drop dead gorgeous looks.

I got to the end of the TVtropes discussion to find it purged of comedic content!! Thanks for the re-direct Peptuck.

Stuart, since you have, not to mention your professional career and family life, "Decimating the Diodach" and "Lion Resurgent" ongoing, together with "Pantheocide", maybe you might consider "contracting out" dealing with people who don't read or cannot comprehend what you have written?

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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Darth Wong » 2009-05-23 11:56pm

Peptuck wrote:Oh my heavens, the TVTropes entry has me in stitches. Apparently, if you're technologically superior to your enemy to a degree that they stand no hope of a chance against you, that means you're a Mary Sue.

Shit, we better let the British Empire know they were Mary Sues when they went into Africa!
He probably never read it. Fundies do have a strong tendency to read summaries of things and then act as if they read the entirety. I get that all the time on my creationtheory.org website: creationists E-mail me asking questions that are right in the FAQ or the Argument list. In many cases, they even presume my answer, and then attack the answer they assume I will give, even though it's different from the answer that's on the site. I would bet real money that they see the front page and then immediately click on the Feedback link, without reading even a single article.
Also, lol at this line: "It doesn't help that the site where the story is posted brooks almost no negative feedback." Someone has been burned by SD.net before.
I think it more likely that he never even signed up. People like this are usually afraid to venture into an ideologically foreign environment. Remember that they have been trained their entire lives to think of foreign ideas as the Devil's work. In fact, the more persuasive the argument, the more likely they are to believe that it came from Satan, who they call "The Great Deceiver". They are taught not to understand such arguments, but to shun them because they carry the evil of Satan on them.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Edward Yee » 2009-05-24 12:17am

Updated the entry to account for Pantheocide being up and ongoing, as well as Stuart officially weighing in as to what it'll be like.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by JonB » 2009-05-24 02:14am

I hate to be the bearer of slightly annoying news, but the whole of the JBE for Salvation HERE no longer contains this argument(?) that people seem to enjoy. I don't suppose someone managed to rescue it? Feel free to PM me if you don't want to clutter this thread with it.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by tim31 » 2009-05-24 02:18am

Stuart wrote:The F-22 hasn't been cancelled, the plan was to build 184 and that's how many Gates budgeted. In TSW, Boeing get an unlimited production contract on F-22s - the Government will take every one that the company can build. The same orders apply to the F-16 and F-18 although the F-35 is cancelled to make way for added production of the big three.
I know it's low on the list of narrative threads, but if there are to be any more mentions of the Australian Defence Force in this book, could you clear up what the RAAF will be getting, if anything? With the F-35 cancelled, will they be buying rights to locally produce Super Hornets? Or will Australia do what it always does and 'make do'?
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by bobnik » 2009-05-24 06:37am

JonB wrote:I hate to be the bearer of slightly annoying news, but the whole of the JBE for Salvation HERE no longer contains this argument(?) that people seem to enjoy. I don't suppose someone managed to rescue it? Feel free to PM me if you don't want to clutter this thread with it.
That goes for me also. Thanks.

At one point it was suggested there might be a writer's guide for possible collaboration. Is that about anywhere?
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2009-05-24 06:47am

Guys, Peptuck said in this very thread, ON THIS PAGE that the argument on the tropes page was purged, but is still visible in the page discussion thread.
Peptuck wrote:EDIT: Ah, hell with it. I've purged the conversation on grounds of not following the basic rules of the JBM pages. If anyone wants to see the argument itself, its on the history.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by bobnik » 2009-05-24 06:55am

CaptainChewbacca wrote:Guys, Peptuck said in this very thread, ON THIS PAGE that the argument on the tropes page was purged, but is still visible in the page discussion thread.
Captain, I apologise most humbly and present myself for whatever punishment you deem fit.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Peptuck » 2009-05-24 09:36am

JonB wrote:I hate to be the bearer of slightly annoying news, but the whole of the JBE for Salvation HERE no longer contains this argument(?) that people seem to enjoy. I don't suppose someone managed to rescue it? Feel free to PM me if you don't want to clutter this thread with it.
Ahem.
Peptuck wrote: EDIT: Ah, hell with it. I've purged the conversation on grounds of not following the basic rules of the JBM pages. If anyone wants to see the argument itself, its on the history.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by JonB » 2009-05-24 10:14am

Consider me chastised. I'll go back to lurking for the most part and heaping praise on Stuart when more chapers come.
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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Zor » 2009-05-24 07:26pm

Xenu be praised it started up again, looking forward to part two.

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Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide

Post by Stuart » 2009-05-24 09:57pm

Cruise Liner “Carnival Triumph” Hellgate Bravo, Hamilton, Bermuda, November 2008.

“I can't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but thee
For there is no secret lover that the draft board didn't discover
They're either too young or too old

They're either too gray or too grassy green
The pickings are poor and the crop is lean
What's good is in the Army, what's left will never harm me
They're either too old or too young.”

The singer in the Rome Lounge finished her song with a flourish as the Carnival Triumph edged through the ellipse that marked the boundary between Earth and Hell. Captain Olsen sighed in relief as the dim, swirling red-gray skies of Hell were replaced by the clear blue of his native earth. Then, his own sense of relief brought down a crash of guilt on his head. For at least half the passengers on his ship, this wasn’t going to be a happy return home or a joyful visit to a foreign port. They were evacuees from Hamilton and if the weather reports and news bulletins had been anything to go by, they didn’t have homes left to return to. It sounded like Bermuda had been swept clean.

“Any sight sir? Any sight at all?” The Right Honorable Jenny Smith’s voice was a weird, strange mix of urgent, plaintive and wary, she was asking the question but she really didn’t know whether she wanted to know the answer.

“Not yet, Madame, but the damage on shore looks terrible. The weather reports say this was the worst hurricane the North Atlantic has seen since records started being kept.”

“Sir, off the starboard bow.” First Officer Carsten pointed to the shoreline. Olsen looked through his binoculars and was hard put to avoid gasping in shock. Two warships were hard aground, one almost clear of the water and twisted in a way that made it clear her back was broken. The other, larger, ship was still in the water but was on her beam ends and she was sagging midships in a way that showed her damage too was beyond critical.

Carsten was already flipping through his copy of Jane’s Fighting Ships. “Sir, the big one is the Alvaro de Bazan, Spanish destroyer. The other one is the Nivose, a French surveillance frigate. The hurricane must have got them while they were trying to escape through the Hellgate.”

Olsen stared at the two wrecked ships. “Make to both ships, offer them any assistance within our power. If they have wounded in need of care, we will take them in.”

That could have been the Carnival Triumph’s motto for the last few days. “We will take them in.” What had started as a routine visit on one of Carnival’s “special” cruises had quickly turned into something else. The visit to Hamilton had been a familiar trip, one where Olsen had captained a variety of cruise liners over the years. The last visit had included a new innovation, a quick trip through Hellgate Beta that gave access to Naval Base Hell-Bravo so the passengers could truly say that they’d been to Hell and back. That one had gone smoothly if one excluded the red dust that had covered the superstructure and been – literally – hell to clean off.

This one had been different. The weather picture had started the same as usual, the familiar procession of low pressure areas marching across the South Atlantic. Mostly they either were dissipated by windshear or faded away. Only a few would reach the standard of a tropical storm and fewer still would gain the status of a fully-fledged hurricane. Few indeed, but one of them had, it had started to swing north, taking it over the warm waters of the South Atlantic, picking up strength as it went. The hurricane chasers had plotted its path and projected it would make landfall somewhere in Georgia as a Category Two or, just possibly a Category Three. They had named it Hurricane Paloma and the WP-3s and satellites had kept a close eye on it. It was lucky they did, because it had made an unexpected northwards swing and picked up speed. So much so that Bermuda had received only a few hours warning that the storm was inbound and that its strength was unprecedented.

Olsen remembered those few hours vividly, fortunately the shore excursions hadn’t started so all the passengers were still onboard. Instead of taking the ashore, the ship’s boats had been used for a frantic evacuation of the inhabitants of Hamilton, all 1,500 of them. To make it possible, Olson had brought his ship dangerously close inshore and dropped scrambling nets over the side. He’d got the refugees on board and then, with the winds already howling round him and the rain coming down in sheets, Carnival Triumph had fled for the Hellgate and shelter.

Olsen knew that the memory of that voyage would stay with him until they day he died, and well beyond that. It was a memory he would rather forget but he knew, as all humanity now knew, death was no escape from bad memories. That was a knowledge already being reflected in crime and suicide rates. His ship had been fighting the winds and seas all the way to Hellgate Beta. His bridge still had two smashed windows, now boarded up of course, from where the anemometer had been torn from its bearings and flung into the bridge. It had been reading 155 knots before it had been destroyed and that had been on the edge of the storm. His ship had been listing from the wind pressure on its high sides and swerving almost out of control as the violence of the storm nearly overwhelmed her steering gear.

Almost, nearly, those were the key words. Few other ships could have survived such a hurricane striking in restricted waters and the mute evidence of the two wrecked warships and the unidentifiable debris that had once been private yachts, fishing boats, pleasure launches and all the other maritime inhabitants of a resort island and a naval base testified to the ferocity of the storm. Carnival Triumph had been uniquely fitted to survive the cataclysm although that fact was purely coincidental. She had been designed to maneuver her way into small ports, to dock without assistance from tugs and never to rely on local facilities when she made her visits. As a result, she had been equipped with bow thrusters and her screws were mounted in steerable pods that let her put all her considerable engine power into pushing her around. She could almost stop dead in the water and she could make a complete 360 degree turn in her own length.

That’s what had saved her, that and Captain Olsen had trained in the Coast Guard and had performed his tour of duty on the sailing ship Eagle. There he had learned more about the waves, the wind and the sea than any cadet could ever have achieved on a gas-turbine or steam powered training ship. Every bit of that knowledge had been called on to save the Carnival Triumph. He had stood, staring out of the bridge, watching the waves and the winds, sensing their patterns, how they interlocked, how they would push his ship this way and that. As he sensed them, he had snapped out the orders to counter their attempts to murder his ship, playing the bow thrusters and the stern engine pods, sometimes pushing the ship sideways, sometimes spinning her, always keeping their bows pointed at the black ellipse that offered a bare hope of safety.

Sometimes, he had looked at the track chart and marveled at how the computer had made some kind of sense out of it all. His own memories were of nothing but chaos, his ship swerving and skidding before he had suddenly realized the Hellgate was but a few meters away and a surge of engine power had taken them through. Even there, the other side of the gate, the seas were ferocious and the wind still howled from the energy passing through the gate but here at least he had sea-room and not the ever-present danger of being trapped on a lee shore. He had turned his bows to the wind and seas and as he did so, he saw that he was not alone. Somehow, somebody had radioed a warning that a civilian cruise ship was coming through and would be in desperate need. Had it been one of the two wrecked warships? Their radio operators, knowing their own day was done, attempting at least to give a more fortunate mariner a better chance of survival? Olsen didn’t know. What he did know was that there were two warships there, one of the massive Russian nuclear-powered cruisers and a French amphibious warfare ship, and they had said they would stand by Carnival Triumph until the storm was done. He had watched while the Russian cruiser took green water over her bows, flooding all the way to her bridge, and then had fought herself free.

And so it had gone on for sixteen long hours, until the fury of the storm had faded and the seas returned to tranquility. Eventually he had bidden his protectors farewell and limped back through the Hellgate, his ship battered and torn by the violence of the storm but afloat with all her passengers, crew and refugees still alive. Seasick, mostly, but still alive. They’d even tried to restore the routine of a cruise ship, Olsen knew for a fact that the glamorous singer in the Rome Lounge had still been heaving the contents of her stomach into a bucket ten minutes before her act, but had managed to clean herself up, change into her stage gown and give the best performance she could, before running back and continuing to try and purge the effects of a ride the cruise liner’s designers had never anticipated.

“Madame, Hamilton is off the port bow.”

The Right Honorable Jennifer Smith shook herself and tried to summon up the courage to look at the devastation that had once been Bermuda’s capital. When she finally managed it, devastation didn’t even begin to cover it. There was not a building or a tree standing, even the massive walls of Fort Saint Catherine were tumbled. The island, once lush and green, studded with white houses, was now bare, brown and desolate. Smith picked up the bridge binoculars, swinging them on their stabilized mounting and pointed them at the center of Hamilton. It was not hard to see where the Parliament building and Cabinet Office had been, although the buildings themselves were gone and even their sites were hidden by a massive Japanese car-carrier that had been driven ashore. With her single screw and huge, flat sides, she had stood no chance, no chance at all. Then she gave a shocked gasp.

“Captain, there are Baldricks in the ruins!”

Olsen took the binoculars and surveyed the scene. The hulking black figures of the Baldricks were crowded in the shattered town. Even as he watched, they swung the main walls of a refugee hut into place while another group lifted up the roof to slide it into place. He looked a little more closely, there were television crews filming them at work. “It’s all right Madame. They’re helping with the disaster relief.”

“Over here Madame. You’ll see what they’re doing on CNN.” Most non-mariners didn’t realize that ships had commercial television receivers on their bridges. There were things on television that sailors needed to know and often couldn’t get from anywhere else with anything like the speed and efficiency. The news was one of them.

“for the survivors. The scale of the disaster in Bermuda is only now beginning to sink in. It is believed that as many as 40,000 of the island’s population have died in the disaster inflicted by Hurricane Paloma. The death toll might well have been higher had it not been for an emergency disaster team who portalled in directly from Hell under the command of Arch-Duke Dagon. The daemons started to clear the wreckage while the storm was still blowing and have shown an uncanny ability to find humans trapped in the wreckage. Of course their added strength and endurance has made their efforts on behalf of the victims more effective. Asked about the prompt response to the disaster, President Abigor said ‘To provide aid is the least we can do for the humans who have rescued us from millennia of slavery.’

“And now, for a report of the Bermudan disaster from one of the victims, we now go to our correspondent in Hell who has been allowed to interview some of those killed in the catastrophe. David, are you there?”

First Officer Carsten leaned quietly towards Olsen. “I don’t feel easy in my mind about this Sir.”

“About the Baldricks helping out? Like they did after the tornados in Missouri last month? Or after Ike hit Houston?”

“Sort of Sir, the way Abigor is sending them to Earth and refusing to accept payment for them. It’s a bit like slavery if you ask me. We took Hell to stop that kind of thing.”

“Abigor is getting paid Knut, not in cash but he’s getting paid. He’s reconstructing the Baldrick image, reconciling humans and daemons to living together. Every time there’s a disaster, the Baldricks are there, helping out. One day, he’s hoping, we’ll be comfortable with each other. That day, there’ll no longer need to be a human army of occupation in Hell. You know as well as I do what the people we’ve rescued from the Hell-Pit think of the Baldricks. If we pulled the Army out today, there’d be a massacre of hideous proportions in there and it wouldn’t be the humans who were doing the dying. The Human Expeditionary Army stand between the surviving Baldricks and the deceased humans they spent millennia tormenting. Sending some baldricks to help is a good way of buying back acceptance. And also making us feel guilty by the way.

Carsten nodded. The people on Earth had been cheering their armies on, and still were in some senses, but the film of the battlefields in Hell had stunned them. Especially the scenes along the Phlegethon River with the piles of mangled Baldrick corpses that went on for square mile after square mile. For perhaps the first time, they realized the incredible disparity of firepower that had existed between the human armies and the Baldricks. The sight of the dead where the Baldricks had tried to fight tanks with bronze tridents had changed opinions in a subtle but very marked way. Humans now pitied the Baldricks who had stood so little chance and had died not even understanding what it was that was killing them. It was rumored that change in attitude was also causing trouble in Hell, with the refugees from the pit unable to understand why the newly-dead from Earth should be sickened by the slaughter they’d inflicted.

“Madame, radio room here. We’re receiving message from Prime Minister Ewart Brown. He says that some of the Cabinet and Parliament are in a deep shelter underneath the Cabinet Office. They can’t get out because, and I quote ‘some damned great ship is sitting on top of us’ but they’re safe and the Baldricks are tunneling down towards them. As apparently you are the only surviving member of the Government in the open, he would like you to assume responsibility for the Government until, and again I quote, ‘the daemons get their fingers out and finish digging us out of here’.”

“Thank you, is he still on the air?”

“He is indeed Madame. I took the liberty of asking him to keep the communication line open.”

“Very well, I had better speak to him.”

“We can patch you in from the bridge, Madame, if you so wish?” Olsen made the offer tentatively, he had a lot to do and a politician on the bridge was the worst form of getting in the way.

Smith grinned, she knew exactly when the cruise liner Captain was thinking. “I’ll go down to the radio room Captain. Once you are docked, we may need this ship for accommodation and as an emergency hospital. Will your company allow that?”

“I see no reason why not Madame. Emergency disaster relief considerations were built into these ships although I do not think they have ever been properly used. I will ask Head Office, but you can assume the answer will be positive.”

Six hours later, Carnival Triumph was as near to being docked as the shattered facilities of Hamilton would allow. In fact, she was anchored fairly close to where the quays had been and an emergency set of brows had been lifted into place by a U.S. Navy helicopter. The refugees were on their way ashore, most of them looking nervously at the Baldricks working in the ruined buildings. With one exception, as one of the men from the town had been standing in the street looking at ruins that were presumably where he had once worked, a Baldrick had carefully lifted a survivor from the wreckage, a woman who must have been in an office corner where she had been sheltered from the destruction. Why hadn’t she been evacuated? Too scared to leave the building perhaps or just never got the word. She’d been put on a stretcher and carried away, the man holding her hand all the way. His wife? Secretary? Mistress? Olsen didn’t know and guessed that he probably never would.

He had more interesting things on his mind, not least of which were the two telegrams he had received from Head Office. One was commending him for the rescue of most of the inhabitants of Hamilton, an action described as being in the finest traditions of the company and of the seafaring community. The other reprimanded him for hazarding his ship and passengers. He was trying to work out which one to take seriously when there was a knock on the door.

“Captain, I am Doctor Surlethe, the National Science Advisor. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about the storm.”

“I’ll do what I can Doctor, you probably know more than I do. You’re still in office then?”

“I think so, President-Elect Obama has said he will keep in place the scientific and military team that won the war against Hell. The political team is changing of course, although I understand Defense Secretary Warner will also be asked to stay on.”

“Florida and Ohio finally made their minds up then?”

“Nope still hung up. But McCain has conceded, even if he’d got both states, he’d still have been down by an electoral vote or two.”

“I was expecting the election to be a lot more decided than this. After all, the Republicans won the war in Hell.”

“Sure, but that was Bush, McCain didn’t gain that much from it and his attempts to use the victory looked like cheap electioneering which it was of course. The Gee-Oh-Pee had lost a lot of its religious people, that balanced things a bit although it hit the popular vote more than the electoral vote. Most of those who laid down and died did so in areas where they just reduced the Republican majority a bit. And the Democrats lost some of the immigrant vote for the same reasons. The people who do the analyses on the voting will be working for years to try and unscramble all the trends but the upshot is, Barry Obama is in by a narrow margin. Not that it will make that much difference given the circumstances. Now to business. You saw the way the storm changed course and picked up strength?”

“We did. Just like Missouri.”

“And just like Houston in August. By the way, we’ve looked back at Katrina and there was the same anomalous course changes and strength increases there as well. You know what that means?”

Olsen shook his head.

“Remember the old saying, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action? Well we’ve got four cases now of major storm systems that have suddenly changed course and picked up strength. Katrina and Ike were subtle, the storm didn’t pick up that much strength or change course by so very large a degree, but these last two were blatant. In Missouri the storm changed course by more than a hundred degrees in less than a minute while doubling its strength and then redoubled it. The storm here didn’t change course by that much, a mere 40 degrees or so, but its strength was phenomenal. We’ve got records that suggest the wind speed at the peak went over 400 miles per hour. No hurricane had ever, ever got that close. Nor have typhoons or cyclones.”

“Four times. And three times makes it enemy action. These were not natural events.”

“No, they were not. That’s why we need your reports as quickly as possible. It looks like Yahweh is moving against us at last, we were expecting this a long time ago and we’re a bit confused why it’s taken so long. We’ll need to look at all your records and instrument readings, But, we want to take down statements from everybody, impressions, thoughts all that good stuff. What really sticks in your mind about your run for the Hellmouth?”

Olsen thought for a few moments. “It was warm, the temperature was going up even as the pressure went down. That’s unusual, usually a storm like that is cold.”

“Interesting. Anything else.”

Olsen replayed the pictures in his mind. Suddenly one thing really seized his mind. “Yes, the clouds. They were spinning fast but usually hurricane clouds are gray. These were black, jet black, as black as Yahweh’s heart.”
Nations do not survive by setting examples for others
Nations survive by making examples of others

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