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 Post subject: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:19 pm 
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The Himilheothon Gate, The Eternal City, Heaven

Thirty eight thousand tons. The number echoed through Corporal William Bodie's mind as he shuffled up to the smaller doors set in the massive Himilheothon Gate. That estimated weight excluded the pearls that studded the wooden structure. Set in the road surface were dozens of curved strips of bronze that provided a path for the wheels at the foot of the Gate. What the ground pressure under the wheels amounted to, Bodie didn’t know and didn’t care. In any case he seriously doubted whether the main gate could be opened. It looked frozen in place from uncounted millennia of static disuse. Only the smaller doors were regularly opened and closed. Through them, a constant stream of second-life humans were entering the city.

The great wall of Heaven loomed over him. A hundred meters high and at least fifty thick. There was no way the track-head and the rest of the armies closing in on The Eternal City were going to get through that. It rather amused Bodie that he and the rest of the team had simply walked through the gate and thus became the first living humans inside The Eternal City. It helped matters, of course, that the Angels had such an appalling idea of security. The Ishim guarding the gate simply gave a wooden marker to each human as he went in and it was collected again as the human left. The whole system was designed to ensure that no human had the temerity to stay inside The Eternal City a moment longer than was necessary for them to pursue their duties. Faced with its first serious challenge, it had failed completely. But then, it had failed when faced by people who were unequalled experts at making security systems fail.

Bodie joined the stream of people passing through the doors, sliding unobtrusively past the Ishim on duty there. This was the point where amateurs always got it wrong. They either overplayed the nonchalant bit or were too obviously trying to avoid detection. The great art was simply to behave the way everybody else did. Anyway, Bodie already had his marker. It was a forgery of course, but that really didn’t matter. Once he was through the gate any challenge would be answered by his forged token and the Ishim would assume that it had been issued normally. All humans looked the same to them anyway.

Once through the gate, Bodie set off for the street edge on the south. He paused slightly to adjust the robe he was wearing and tighten the rope belt that held it in place. That same belt also held his pistol although what use a 9mm Sig-Sauer would be here was arguable at best. Pistol calibers had been 'redefined' since the Salvation War had started. Still, the P226 had a nice, comforting bulk to it. He glanced up; the sky still had streaks of dark gray across it. The original sight of heavenly blue skies with just enough small fluffy clouds to provide contrast had gone. When the Yanks popped that nuke, they had changed a lot of things.

The city block he approached was crowded by the standards of The Eternal City. It was mostly the abode of Ishim and they didn't live in the stately palaces occupied by the higher ranks of angels. The homes here reminded Bodie of the council houses he had grown up in. He took a closer look at the buildings in front of him. Studded with semi-precious stones just as those council houses long ago had pebble-dashed walls. The difference was the level of repair, these so-called palaces had plaster that was scabbing away and paint that was faded and peeling. In places, the wooden lathes that reinforced the plaster were visible. The Eternal City was very old, that much was obvious. The trouble was that in this case, old just meant 'so much more second-hand.'

Old it might be, and more than slightly run-down, but The Eternal City was still huge. It more than a twenty kilometer walk to the side road Bodie was looking for. Even in the temperate climate of Heaven that was still not something to be taken lightly, especially given the load he was carrying. Eventually, he recognized his turning and took it, heading down an alleyway barely fifty meters across. Here, the stones that embellished the walls were less glittering in their profusion and the signs of neglect and decay were stronger. Occasionally, there were even small areas of rubble on the stone of the streets. Bodie had noticed that, all the legends had said that the streets of the Eternal City were paved with gold but instead, they were a garish bronze-colored marble. Once in a while, the great slabs were cracked. Bodie ignored them; he was too busy counting buildings to worry about the state of the paving. At least that was what he thought until he tripped over one of the cracked slabs and nearly fell flat on his face.

Finally he reached the building the team had chosen. It was a disused temple, one that appeared to have been abandoned after its structural deterioration had reached dangerous proportions. Bodie climbed up the steps, cursing the fact that even the Ishim were a bit larger than humans and that made their steps uncomfortable to climb. Once in the main hall, he caught his breath and made for the rooms at the rear.

"No problems getting in and out then Bodie?" Sergeant Doyle was lazing between two fallen columns, a position that allowed him to watch the only entrance to the hall from a concealed yet comfortable position.

"Like babes in the nursery they are." Bodie dropped his load with relief. "They've got no idea."

"That's not surprising lads. They've never had any real infiltration efforts to worry about. Not as far as we know anyway." Captain Greg Crowleigh was also waiting in a concealed overwatch position. Unlike the guards at the City gates, his team never let their guard down. Although, the SAS team was beginning to wonder if the Angels at the Himilheothon Gate guards had ever had their guard up.

"They might have a lot more to worry about now." Bodie had picked up all the intelligence from the Outside Team on his visit. "There's Chinese armored recon in the woods outside and a Russian Spetsnaz group. They might be in here as well by now."

That caused a sudden silence. Crowleigh's team had never been one of the front-rank SAS sections, not until they had killed the gorgon Lakheenahuknaasi. By an odd quirk of fate that had resulted in them being the first living humans to take up residence in The Eternal City. Killing the gorgon hadn't lifted them to the top tier of teams but it had put them at the head of the second rank. Only, all the top-tier teams were tied down in Hell trying to get the problems there sorted. So, when this job had come up, Crowleigh and his men had got it. Sometimes things worked in strange ways.

"We'd better be damned careful then. We don't want to get our wires crossed. Especially since the HEA don't know we're here." That caused another outbreak of silence. This mission was just about as unofficial as it got. One thing that concerned everybody was whether they would get the word in time if it was decided to nuke the city into oblivion.

"Any word on how the HEA plans to get into the city?"

Bodie shook his head. "Rumor mill is working overtime but that wall seems to be chilling everybody. This city is fortified with a capital F. The current story is that the Russians will use gas again." That remark caused a series of whistles. Everybody remembered what the Russian sarin attack had done at the Phlegethon River.

"Boss, you'd better hear this." Private James Dempsey had a recording disk in his hand.

Crowleigh turned around, frowning at the interruption. "What is it man?"

"The temple we bugged? Well, there's just been a meeting in it. The local Ishim were assembled and addressed by an Elohim. The gist of it is that Yahweh is out. Michael-Lan has taken over."

"What?" Crowleigh was stunned. "A coup?"

"It hasn't been phrased like that. According to the announcement, Yahweh has been so distressed by the death of his son that he has blamed himself and gone into retreat. Apparently he is meditating on his actions and contemplating the future."

"Ah, he's dead then." Ray Doyle sounded positively chirpy.

"Undoubtedly. But Jesus has been killed as well?" Crowleigh thought for a second then realized there was more message to come. "What else?"

"Anyway, the message is that Yahweh has asked Michael-Lan to take over running Heaven until Yahweh considers himself fit to resume absolute rule. Until then, Michael-Lan has appointed a council of angels to help him rule. The first priority is to bring the war with the humans to an end and restore the 'natural order of things."

"We need to get word of this out immediately." Crowleigh decided that news of this importance had to go directly to Sir Michael Jackson. His orders were to have no contact with HEA headquarters but those orders had never envisaged a situation like this. He shouldered the responsibility for his decision and started the process of getting through to the HEA. In doing so, he and his team finally made it to the top tier of SAS units.

Over The Human Expeditionary Army, Heaven

Raphael-Lan-Michael, now offically in charge of communications as part of the provisional government of Heaven, hoped desperately that he was communicating well enough. While his wings drove him through the air towards the heart of the human army on the ground, his arms were desperately waving the largest white flag he had been able to find. In addition, he was frantically transmitting mental messages of surrender even though he guessed that the metal hats humans now wore would prevent those from being received and understood. Still, better to try it and fail than not try at all. Especially with humans around. Their tendancy to shoot first and shoot with lethal effect had been made all too clear.

Down below, he could see the long snaking columns that were making their way towards The Eternal City. There was no end of them, literally no end as far as he could see. He had adjusted his vision for its longest range but the lines of trucks and armored vehicles seemed to go on forever. The information coming in from the countryside suggested that this was just one of three great armies converging on The Eternal City. The frantic itching in his skin told him that the forces below had seen him and were already locking their weapons on him. Please don’t fire humans, I'm trying to bring peace.

For a moment he thought his pleas had been ignored. Four great bangs had surrounded him and he cringed expecting to feel the lash of iron fragments from the missiles lacerating his body. But, he had been spared that. It was just the crash the human aircraft made when they flew anywhere fast. This group formed up around him, one on each side, one behind, one in front. Then, with him nice and tightly boxed in, they started to change course. Raphael got the feeling he was being herded as if he was a helpless target. Then, he understood, to the humans that was precisely what he was.

Headquarters, Human Expeditionary Army, Heaven.

"Anyway, we had no women in the army until the late 1960s. There had been, right up to the First World War but when the Germans reorganized us in the 1930s, that was a change they made. Then, the Army found they needed us and started recruiting. I was one of the first few intakes. Of course, they had made no preparations for us at all. None of the things we needed were there and the stores were reluctant to issue the things they had. After all, as the quartermaster said, they are called stores, not issues."

Petraeus, Jackson and Gillespie all laughed while they refreshed their glasses. Asanee eyed Petraeus carefully, he seemed to be recovering from the depression that had affected him after the nuclear destruction of the previous Angelic army. She topped up her own glass of whisky and resumed.

"They didn’t even have any underwear for us. We had to supply our own and civilian standard stuff didn’t last very long. Eventually, the Army got around to issuing the women soldiers with underwear. Guess what. It was camouflaged, the old tiger stripe pattern. What did they expect us to do? Run around a battlefield in our underwear?" There was another eruption of laughter and she eyed the other generals severely. "First person to say yes will be killed."

Petraeus wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes. "You think you had problems. One of my men actually shot me on a field exercise. Tripped over and his rifle discharged. I always said there were problems with the lethality of the old 5.56mm."

"I wouldn't recommend trying it again now." Australian General Ken Gillespie sounded concerned. "The .50 Beowulf SLAP is a lot nastier. My boys prefer the Winchester .458 though. The Beowulf is a bit short-ranged for them."

"My general experience," Petraeus was interrupted by a general groan at the pun. "Is that it is better not to get shot by any kind of bullet."

"Sirs, Ma'am, apologies for interrupting but we have an urgent message from the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing. Their F-15s just intercepted an angel flying over our front lines. They're escorting it in to a forward air defense field now."

"Escorting it in?" Jackson sounded surprised. "Didn't shoot it out of the sky?"

"It was waving a very large white flag, Sir. The pilots thought it was better to try and bring him in. Sir Michael, there's a message for you in the British comms center. They're asking you to go down there to see it."

Sir Michael Jackson frowned mightily at that. Senior generals did not go running around collecting their own messages. Unless they were very important or very sensitive indeed. "If you'll excuse me David, Ken, Asanee." He left hurriedly.

"So, another angel is defecting." Asanee looked at her glass. "Is it me or is the situation in The Eternal City falling apart?"

"It's not looking good for them." Petraeus suddenly looked a lot brighter. The fear of having to blast his way into The Eternal City was beginning to lift.

"General Gillespie Sir," the communications officer was back. "A message in the Australian section for you. Very sensitive they say."

"Thank you Captain. If you'll excuse me David?"

Petraeus nodded. When he had gone, he looked quizzically at the contents of his glass. "Don't you just hate to be the last person to know what's going on in your own army?"

"Pretty familiar feeling in ours David. We had a coup once, somebody forgot to tell the commander of a tank battalion what was going on. He arrived for work one day just in time to see the last M41 in his battalion leaving their laager. He ended up chasing them through the streets in a taxi. With Army this big from so many nations, things bound to be screwed up."

"David," Sir Michael Jackson was back. "I've just had word from our team inside the Eternal City. There's been a coup in Heaven or so it seems. The message is a little confused but it seems that Yahweh has been deposed and Michael-Lan has replaced him. According to the message, Yahweh has gone into seclusion for a long period of meditation and contemplation."

"Ah, so Michael killed him." Asanee nodded wisely. Like all Thai officers, she understood the subtle nuances in the announcements that followed a coup. She'd written more than one of them.

"That's what our team leader says as well. Anyway, according to the official version, Yahweh asked Michael-Lan to take over in his absence. He's formed a council of state or something to rule Heaven and he wants to end the war."

"Do we have any confirmation of this?" Petraeus snapped the words out.

"We do, David." Gillespie had returned, a big grin dominating his face. "Our team has reported the same thing. More or less. Apparently, there was one hell of a fight in the Ultimate Temple, virtually wrecked the place according to my people. One followed by a very big splash in that lake we've all been looking at."

"Just where are your people?" Jackson sounded envious. The Australian message sounded as if their insert team was close to the city center while his were in the outskirts. "On second thoughts, don't answer that."

"And we have an Angel surrendering. This isn't a coincidence people." Petraeus turned to his communications panel. "call General Dorokov and General Ti Jen-chieh. Then get through to General James Conway. Tell him to get his Marine Corps task group ready. Major staff meeting coming up as soon as I've heard from that angel."

_________________
There are 550 million firearms in the world, enough for one person in twelve of the world's population. The moral dilemma that faces us is how to arm the other eleven.


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:24 pm 
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Heaven-17 Forward Airfield. Heaven

Humans had changed Heaven already, were recasting it in their own image and rebuilding it to their own needs. What had once been a bucolic pastoral scene with winding earthen roads separating lush green fields tended by happy peasants was gone forever. The roads were being converted to blacktop, straightened out and painted with strange hieroglyphic markings. Yet those changes were nothing compared with the human work he was standing on. A great blacktop strip, 4,000 yards long and 50 wide, with arrays of lights at both ends and smaller service strips all around it. Raphael-Lan would have been even less happy about the change if he had known that all the blacktop he was seeing was asphalt brought in from Hell.

Around him, engineers were still hard at work building the airfield. Several teams were erecting strange buildings to house the human's fighter aircraft that were already operating from here. Inside those shelters, the aircraft would be safe from weather and sonic attacks. Raphael looked at the buildings with interest, noting that they were built on shock-absorbent mountings. The four F-15s that had brought him to this base were parked on the hardtop a few dozen yards away. Raphael noted that nobody really seemed interested in him. He didn’t let that impression delude him, these were humans and he was very sure that something incredibly lethal was trained on him. He was, of course, entirely correct in that assumption.

The sound of Heaven had changed as well. The wind sighing in the trees, the rustle of grass, the far-off sound of the happy humans singing hymns as they worked in the fields had all disappeared. They had been drowned out by the growl of diesel engines, the roar of earth being scooped up and moved and the crash as anything that got in the way was ruthlessly chopped down. Even those sounds were drowned out now and then as the sky-ripping howl of jet engines briefly dominated the scene. Raphael reflected there were a lot of human aircraft around. The vicious little fighters, the great pot-bellied transports, the ominous shadows of the bombers, the humans surely did love their aircraft and they had some tailored to every need they could think of. Perhaps it was because they had no wings themselves and needed their machines to fly?

There was a new sound, a curious pulsing noise. Another human aircraft was approaching, this one a helicopter. A large helicopter with a single rotor over its fuselage. It swung in to land a few dozen yards away from him. As soon as it was down, the tail ramp dropped and a group of humans walked out. Raphael reflected that was another change in Heaven. Before, the humans who lived here had been friendly and grateful for the kindness shown to them. These humans were not grateful for anything and certainly not friendly.

Human Delegation, Heaven-17 Forward Airfield. Heaven

"Mike is upset he isn’t here for this." Asanee spoke with a certain degree of relish.

"One of us had to remain at base in case this is some sort of trap." Petraeus stood up and groaned. Unobtrusively he reached into a pocket and took a pair of Motrin tablets. "No disrespect meant Asanee, but I need a General who is also a politician here. We don't want to repeat the mistakes Norm Schwartzkopf made at the end of ODS."

"No offense taken David. Mixing the two roles is a familiar thing in our Army. Three roles in fact, we also run businesses. Are you sure you do not wish to carry a gun to this meeting?" Asanee's right hip was weighed down by a Desert Eagle pistol, one that she had owned for years before the demands of the Salvation War had made its heavy-caliber bullets vital.

Petraeus shook his head. "Not necessary. It's a subtle message to this messenger that I can have him killed without worrying about doing it myself." He paused for a second. "Have you ever actually fired that thing?"

"At people? Twice. They both died. But it was mostly to impress others, to make them remember me. I'd put it away before all this started." Asanee saw they were approaching the angel patiently waiting on the taxiway and dropped back so she was following a respectful distance behind Petraeus.
"You bring a flag of truce?" Petraeus's voice was clipped and certain. "And you are?"

"I am Raphael-Lan-Yah . . . Lan-Michael. I come here under a flag of truce to bring you a message from Michael himself. He has seized power in The Eternal City. With the aid of his fellow-insurgents, he has killed Yahweh. He did this for one purpose and for one purpose only and that is to bring this war to and end. I am charged with negotiating an end to hostilities between us. As a first step we are declaring The Eternal City an open city. It will not be defended and it's gates will be thrown open to you."

Petraeus glanced quickly over his shoulder and saw Asanee shake her head slightly. He agreed, what he had just heard was a skillful mixture of male bovine excrement and truth. The trouble with such mixtures was that even a small amount of male bovine excrement made the whole mix stink. "You expect me to believe that Michael overthrew Yahweh just to end this war?"

Raphael smiled at the human standing below him. "Of course not. Yahweh had gone completely mad. What was once a peaceful and happy community here in Heaven was being torn apart. Yahweh had already betrayed you humans by slamming the doors of Heaven in your face. He betrayed us by ruling with fear, arresting and tormenting all those who displeased him. You have found the concentration camp he founded for those who dared disagree with him? There may be more, I do not know. If there are, I beg you, in Michael's name, to find them and rescue those within. Ending this war is a part of remedying the harm Yahweh's madness caused." Raphael looked sadly at the blacktop roads and airfield, heard the roar and hammering of machinery and his next words were truer than anything else he had said. "Michael understands that things have changed forever and we can never go back to the past."

"So what are your terms?" Petraeus was slightly impatient. Apart from anything else, his back was killing him and he urgently wanted to sit down.

"The simplest possible. Michael-Lan-Michael, Commander of the Angelic Host, ruler of the Eternal City and all that surrounds it, wishes to surrender unconditionally to you. He has ordered all resistance to you to cease with immediate effect. He asks you to understand that communications are slow and uncertain here in Heaven. We do not have much in the way of radio equipment."

Petraeus heard the tiny cough from behind him. "You have some radio equipment?"

"We do, we have the ability to make limited broadcasts from our headquarters to a few trusted allies. That was essential for our coup to succeed. But, for the rest, we rely on couriers and message relays. So, spreading the word of surrender will take some time. Also, there may be Yahweh loyalists and other hold-outs who may continue to resist. If so, their fate will be in their own hands. And yours of course."

"So you expect us to kill off any resistance to your coup? Not going to happen. If they attack us, they die. That's all."

"Heaven is a well-ordered place and we do not expect resistance. All we say is that if any misguided angels do resist, it will not be our doing. If we can, we will throw the gates of the Eternal City open to you."

"If you can?"

"Those gates are vast and have not been opened since they were built. We are not even sure they can still be opened. If they cannot, we must ask you to blow them open."

Petraeus nodded. "Very well. On behalf of the Yamantau Council and subject to their approval, I will accept your unconditional surrender. General Asanee, call General Sir Michael Jackson and advise him that the Angelic Host has surrendered. He is to spread the word to our Army commanders. Raphael-Lan, return to Michael and tell him we have accepted his unconditional surrender and will be moving to occupy the Eternal City." His voice hardened noticeably. "And make sure he understands that if there is any treachery, there won't be an Eternal City left to occupy."

Headquarters, Human Expeditionary Army, Heaven.

General Sir Mike Jackson, Chief of Staff of the HEA and Commander British Forces, Heaven, sighed. It was over. Today, July 20th, would forever be Salvation Day. He knew this wasn't the end of the fighting, Hell still wasn't pacified completely two years after the collapse of Satan's rule. Then there was the problem of the rest of Heaven and Hell. The areas occupied by the daemons and angels were only a small proportion of the total land area of the worlds. Who knew what else was out there? Hell had already thrown one nasty surprise at them. There would be more.

"Sir, your 11 o'clock is waiting." Captain Rye was standing at the door, her clipboard in hand.

"Harriet, get through to all our sub-commanders ASAP. Tell them, Michael-Lan in Heaven has just surrendered unconditionally. Then arrange a portal for General Petraeus to go to Yamantau so he can brief them on what has happened."

"It's really over, Sir?"

"If Michael's authority holds, yes." Jackson sighed again. Back to routine. "Now trot that person in."

It was one of the penalties of being Chief of Staff. If he didn’t have enough to do in effectively running much of the HEA and all British military forces in the Heaven Theatre of Operations he also had to meet with dozens of visitors who arrived every day. Many were essentially official sightseers who had come up with some excuse to come and see Heaven, but others were a mix of boffins and crackpots who were convinced that they held the key to the ultimate victory and wanted Jackson’s backing before their proposals were sent to General Petraeus. It was his responsibility to search through the garbage and come up with the odd nugget of gold that was sometimes hidden within.

At least he was no longer directly responsible for the command and administration of the 1st Commonwealth Army; General Sir David Richards, who had been pencilled in as the next Chief of the General Staff before the war had extended Sir Richard Dannatt’s tenure, had taken over that command. The army was still expanding, two new British divisions and a third Canadian division had recently arrived in Heaven, but it was probably now very close to its natural maximum size.

His attention snapped back to his visitor. Fortunately, he didn't seem to have missed anything significant.

“…And because one of my ancestors was deeply involved with the guns and howitzers I’ve always had a deep interest in them as weapons. Of course when I decided to join the army the Royal Artillery seemed to be the natural choice, even though modern artillery never seemed to quite have the attraction of the really big weapons from the world wars…”

“So you never got your Jacket then?” Jackson asked the ageing Royal Artillery Colonel for no other reason than to stop his rather meandering explanation of why he was here.

The Colonel was a retired officer brought back into service, what in World War One would have been called a ‘dug-out’. His job was to run a training depot for National Servicemen assigned to the Royal Artillery.

“Ah, no, Sir. I’ve never had the pleasure of serving in the Royal Arse Hortillery.” Colonel Jonathon Cleeve replied, laughing at his own joke.

General Jackson’s stony face, indicating that he did not share the joke brought him up short. He cleared his throat a couple of times, rather nervously.

“Very funny I’m sure.” Jackson said, his tone of voice indicating very clearly that he thought otherwise. “What exactly was it you came to see me about, Colonel Cleeve, I trust it wasn’t to give me a history of British Army railway artillery in both world wars?”

“No, Sir, not at all.” Cleeve replied. “I just thought you would want some background. I’m here because I heard you had a potential problem in breaching the walls of the Eternal City and I thought I could offer you a non-nuclear option.

“One of the 18inch howitzers we built just after the end of the First World War has survived as a proof-firing weapon and is currently at Larkhill.”

Jackson nodded, he had seen the howitzer a few times, both when it had been at Woolwich and later after it had been moved to Larkhill when Woolwich had closed.

“Well in 1943 a concrete penetrating shell was developed and test fired; it was planned to use it against German fortifications in France and Italy, but in the event it was not chosen to deploy the howitzer. It was a mistake in my opinion, but…”

“Get to the point, Colonel.” Jackson interrupted irritably.

“Well, Sir it struck me that the combination of the 18inch howitzer and the concrete penetrating shell would be a perfect way of blasting a breach in the walls. We’d need a week, or two to knock up a proper mounting because I don’t think the current proof-firing sled would be really suitable. Once the howitzer and ammunition were ready we could open a portal in front of it and fire at the target from this side, so we wouldn’t even have to move it very far. It would cut down a great deal on logistical problems that way.”

General Jackson hated to burst the bubble of someone so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about his subject. He took no pleasure in it.

“I am sorry to have to tell you, Colonel, that within the last few minutes, Heaven has surrendered unconditionally? There apparently no longer a need to breach the walls of the Eternal City.”

Colonel Cleeve looked both downcast and like a man who had just seen the bottom of his world fall out. It looked like it was back to the training depot for him.

“No, I, ah…hadn’t heard that, Sir.” He said quietly.

“Cheer up, Colonel.” Jackson said. “I’ll need to speak to Major General Maxwell, but I am sure we can find a place for the howitzer once it is on a proper mounting. We may have to open the Gates on the City ourselves. The Angels are not certain they can throw open the gates themselves. Also, we may well have won the war against Hell and Heaven, but there is a lot of occupation duty in front of us. There is also the matter of what other nasties might lurk out there.”

Cleeve brightened up considerably at this.

“Of course we will also need a knowledgeable officer to oversee this particular project. I am sure we can spare you from the training depot to take this on.”

“Thank you very much, Sir. You will mention this to General Petraeus?”

“I’ll make sure he hears about it, Colonel.” Jackson told him. “I’m sure he will find this very interesting. I believe the Americans still have some railway guns in preservation, so they may follow your lead if you can pull this off.”

Underground Command Facility, Yamantau, Russia, July 20, 2010

"And so, contingent upon Michael-Lan-Michael's surrender being effective, resistance ceasing as per his promise and on this council's agreement with our acceptance of his unconditional surrender, all major combat operations will cease. The occupation of The Eternal City will take place as soon as we can get troops into position. That should be within a few hours." General of the Armies David Petraeus swallowed two more Motrin tablets and sat down.

All fifteen members of the Yamantau Council were present in person, an achievement that would have been impossible before the spread of portal transportation. Now, Yamantau had its own portal room and its own staff of sensitives. The applause from the assembled Council Members was deafening.

Chairman of the Yamantau Council Vladimir Putin waited until the noise quieted of its own accord. Then he spoke softly, relying on the sound system to ensure his voice carried to every corner of the room. "I formally propose the motion that the declaration of unconditional surrender proposed by Michael-Lan-Michael be accepted."

"Seconded!" President Sarkozy of France emphatically agreed. The roar of acclamation was convincing.

"Comrades, I would like to make a another proposal." President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil spoke as soon as the applause wound down. "That we declare this day to be Salvation Day, a worldwide holiday forever to be celebrated as an affirmation of humanity winning its freedom and liberty from an age-old curse. Never before in the history of humanity has such a victory been won. And let us not forget that in doing so, we have freed the daemons and angels from those who would oppress them also. Today is indeed Salvation Day for us all."

_________________
There are 550 million firearms in the world, enough for one person in twelve of the world's population. The moral dilemma that faces us is how to arm the other eleven.


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:24 pm 
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SAS Detachment, Eternal City, Heaven

"We've just got word. The excitement in Dempsey's voice was obvious. "Michael-Lan is surrendering unconditionally. The war is over."

"Don't jump to that conclusion lad." Crowleigh was very cautious. "The Septics made that mistake back in the old world. What you mean is that major combat operations are over. We and our children will be sorting out the mess up here for generations. And not everybody will be honoring that surrender, you mark my words. There'll be a lot of shooting yet. What are our orders?"

"We're to get into uniform and make ourselves obvious. Start patrolling around this area, make sure everybody sees armed humans on the streets. And we're to make it obvious we're in charge. The message says, don't throw our weight around but make it clear our word is the one that counts. Got the message flimsy here." Dempsey passed the yellow paper over.

Crowleigh nodded. Dempsey had summarized the message very well. Time to give orders. "Right lads. Into uniform and pick up our arms. You heard Dempsey, we're to patrol our patch in a military manner and take no **** from anybody." There was a chuckle around the team. Crowleigh's Scottish burr had added a note of class to the orders he had summarized.

Street of Ceaseless Exaltation, Eternal City, Heaven

"This can't be happening." Rubibael-Lan-Dasarapael didn't actually know who he was speaking to, if anybody at all. He wasn't even sure if he was speaking to himself. He was simply trying to comprehend the unbelievable sight that was now unfolding before him. It was as if saying the words was enough to bring them into a reality in which he had a place. As a humble Ishim, he had never had any ideas above his station but, lowly as he was, he had always had the humans to look down on. The doors set in the massive gate before him were open and humans were pouring in as if they owned the place. That was when Rubibael-Lan had expressed his disbelief. Only, it wasn't an expression, it was a howl of anguish.

"Move back. Get away from the gates." The human spoke sharply, without much attempt at friendliness. The steel helmet that covered his head and the nape of his neck gave him a ferocious look that was out of place in the Eternal City.

"I cannot. It is my place to y . o. . o. .o. .o . . w." Rubibael jumped in the air and howled with pain as a rifle butt slammed down on his foot. He hopped up and down on one leg, trying to nurse his bruised toes with his hands. His wings fluttered as he used them to stay balanced.

"When I tell you to move, you move. Understand? We're going to blow the gates and you don’t want to be here when they come down."

Rubibael nodded and hobbled off down the street, abandoning his position as marker distributor for the Mahatalabhuva Gate. He looked behind to see if the human was laughing at him but the man had seemingly forgotten all about him and was doing some of the mysterious things that these humans did. Somehow that made it all the more humiliating.

USS Turner Joy, DD-951 AUTEC Transition Point, Earth

"It's really all over?" Sophia Metaxas was hanging on the hatch leading to the comms room, listening to the roar of cheering and singing that was spreading throughout the ship. If the news was false, there would be a very unhappy crew.

Commander Reynolds was already in the crowded compartment. "Hi Sophia. It's true. It hasn't been announced over the civilian networks yet, not officially anyway, but it is confirmed. We won. Heaven's folded. Yahweh is dead, Michael is in charge. Temporarily at least."

Sophia gave a piercing scream of delight and her hat hit the overhead. Halfway through the celebration, the comms equipment started to rattle again. The message came in and was spooled out. Reynolds tore it off and read it carefully. "Uh-oh."

Her stomach clenched as the words came out. Surely it wasn't going to be revealed as a hoax or simply denied was it? "Problems? Please don’t tell me the war is still on."

"It isn't. It's over all right. But there's a portal being punched through from Heaven to here. We're to be first through."

"You mean we're going to lead the fleet into Heaven?" Rochelle Emerson had just come up from the engine rooms. "That's wonderful."

"No, it isn't. Reynolds was profoundly cynical. "They're sending us in because we're an old, steam powered destroyer with a crew of hired misfits that nobody will really miss if everything goes sour. Oh yes, and because we still have our spray equipment on board so if we run into the crap that killed off the seas around here, we can start to get rid of it."

Sophia looked around at the wreckage that had once been a near idyllic tropical island. The island was a brown wasteland, scoured of life. The beautiful green trees and parks, the white-roofed houses, they had all gone. Swept away or shattered into fragments by the succession of super-hurricanes that had devastated Bermuda. The one-beautiful beaches were scarred by the wrecks of ships that hadn't made it to the Hellgate before being overwhelmed by the storms. Just off Turney Joy's port bow was the wreckage of a Spanish destroyer that hadn't made it through. She was red with rust now and had rolled over, partly crushing a French corvette alongside her. The seas themselves were dead, the Red Poison had killed nearly everything in the area off and the sealife was taking a long time to recolonize the area. In a way, Bermuda was symbolic of Earth after the Salvation War. Battered, bloody and hurt so badly it would take a long time to recover. But, recover it would and it was something else as well. Victorious. Bermudans would come back and rebuild their homes, Sophia knew it and in a way she envied them. This old destroyer was just about the only thing left of her life. When it was gone, she really would have nothing.

"Where are we going?" Her voice was subdued as the realization of what this victory had cost sank in.

"A place called Lake of Placid Contemplation. Apparently, it's right in the middle of the Eternal City. If we get there and rule it safe, then all of these will be following us." Reynolds waved at the ships surrounding them. The aircraft carriers George H.W. Bush, Enterprise and Harry S Truman, the cruisers Pyotr Veliky, Sejong Daewang, Cowpens, Port Royal and Almirante Grau. Two dozen destroyers at least, most of them AEGIS ships or their equivalent. Then there were the amphibs. There hadn't been a collection of amphibious warfare ships like this since Inchon more that half a century before. At least six LHDs, a dozen or more LPDs and LSDs, two French LHAs, the Mistral and Tonnerre, a seven-ship British amphibious squadron, some of the big Russian amphibious hovercraft. Those were just the ones she could see. The sea was studded with ships and Sophia realized they were all waiting to go to the Lake of Placid Contemplation. She hoped it was a big lake.

"We've got a picture of the lake coming through now." Reynolds held it up and Sophia sighed with relief. It looked as if it was indeed a big lake.

Just Inside The Himilheothon Gate, The Eternal City, Heaven

"Who the hell are you? We're trying to decide how to blow this thing up." The Officer of Engineers was irate for a number of reasons, one of which was he'd had a conversation with his doctor a few hours before. The lump in his tongue was cancer, a fast-growing, very malignant cancer. It was already spreading and it was far too late to operate. It always had been, this type of cancer was a killer. Lieutenant Chard would be going home soon, to spend the last couple of months with his family before the cancer got so bad there would be no point in going on. He had already decided to sign out when that happened.

Another thing annoying him was the task he had been set. Blowing this gate open. The problem was, if he just blew the hinges, the gate would fall down all right. Only it weighed somewhere between 38,000 and 88,000 tons and that weight of door hitting the ground in a 100-meter arc would cause a fair earthquake. From what he had seen of the buildings around here, it wouldn’t take much of a shock to bring them down as well. So, he was going to blow the gate in a series of sections using linear shaped charges to carve off large sections of the meter-thick wood. That was another part of his forward planning. He already had a truck waiting and it would rush some of the wood back to Earth where he could spend his retirement carving it into furniture. After all, a man had to leave some heirlooms to his descendants.

The final straw was this man who had suddenly appeared in front of him, waving documents that gave him permission to film something or other using this gate. Just what he needed when he was running against the clock. Every kind of clock.

"We've been given permission to film an episode of our show here." The man with the moustache seemed to have enormous patience. "If everything goes the way we plan, we should be finished in a few minutes."

"And how often does everything go the way you plan?" Chard was not a patient man.

"This is a quite simple test. Nothing much can go wrong with it. We just need to have some people go backwards and forwards through the gate and that's it. We'll be out of your way in . . . ." The man hesitated slightly. "Thirty minutes?"

Chard nodded. "Very well. You have thirty minutes. Not a minute more. Then we're going to start demolishing the gate."

The man with the moustache looked up at the huge gates with interest. "Now that will be a really big boom."

Shin Meiwa US-2 Flying Boat, Atsugi Air Base, Japan.

"Welcome to our aircraft, kitten." Captain Oushi Terukata bowed respectfully as the couple stepped on to his aircraft. "We have set your portal generation equipment up in the stern of the aircraft. It will be ready for you to use as soon as we transit to Heaven. Before then, the forward cabin is quite comfortable. Our flight plan is quite simple. We will take off from here and fly through the Heavengate at Yokosuka. This will bring us out over our Third Army Group. There may be some delay there due to portal movements. We have yet to hear from the Chinese air traffic control. After we have transited to Heaven, we will fly to The Eternal City and land on the lake in the middle. Our estimated flight time is two hours."

"Thank you Captain." As usual Dani spoke for kitten. "You have an interesting aircraft here, I've never seen a flying boat before."

"There are very few large ones like this left now. We have less than ten and the Chinese have five. They are the last of their kind." Oushi paused for a second. "kitten, we understand you like ginseng tea? His Imperial Majesty has sent some from the Palace's own stocks for you. If you would like a cup now?"

Dani glanced at kitten then nodded. "That is very kind of you Captain. I know kitten will enjoy that."

Outside The Himilheothon Gate, The Eternal City, Heaven

"Of course, what we really need are those two maniacs on television who spend their lives finding different things to blow up." Colonel Paschal looked at the massive structure with something close to trepidation.

"They're already here. Apparently their viewers asked them about the myth that rich people can't get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So they've got Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Paul Allen and Larry Page plus four street people they found in San Francisco wearing accelerometers and walking backwards and forwards through the doors in that gate. Seeing if there is any difference to the resistance they experience when entering the City."

"Gonzo science." Doctor Kuroneko spoke dismissively.

"Better than no science at all." Doctor Surlethe protested. "It may not be science as we know it but they are teaching people to think about problems logically and carry out experiments to test their conclusions. And put proper controls on those experiments. That's a big step forward from making assertions and then repeating them."

"Apparently Gates asked the one with the moustache whether they were going to blow the gate open and the only reply he got was 'Jamie want big boom.' You'll note they don’t actually handle the explosives themselves on the show." Colonel Warhol shook his head. "Those gates are a real problem though. The demolition teams are having fits all around the city. Their consensus is to bring them down in sections."

The DIMO(N) team got into their Humvees and set off for the Himilheothon Gate. They were strangely aware that this was likely to be the last time their team would get a chance to come together like this. With the war ending, DIMO(N) would be losing its primary reason for existence and would be wound up. James Randi's team was already being demobilized, its primary function of finding sensitives who could contact the Netherworld was already obsolescent. Warhol sighed gently to himself, remembering the frantic early days of the war. Then, everything had been thrown together, haste being the over-riding driver. It hadn't mattered how much something had cost or how jury-rigged the system had been, if it happened quickly and got results, it had been funded. Then had come the jarring feeling of disbelief as Abigor's army had crumpled under the massive firepower of the human armies in Iraq. Somebody ought to write a history of DIMO(N), Warhol thought. We lost so much of our heritage in this war, we need more to replace it.

His thought train was interrupted by an excitable red-headed man addressing the television cameras around the gate. "And our data set is quite conclusive. Some of the richest and some of the poorest people in America have been through the gates of Heaven and there was no difference in the resistance they experienced. None at all. I love consistent data. So the myth that rich men can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven?"

"Busted." The entire TV crew echoed the verdict with relish.

Shores of the Lake of Placid Contemplation, The Eternal City, Heaven.

There was much to think about. Ohalam-Lan-Derepael looked out at the great lake and shook his head. The great storms of thunder that had made the whole city shake had dispersed and everything was tranquil again. Except for the great splash that had been seen in the middle of the lake a few hours ago. For the first time in countless millennia, Yahweh was no longer resident in the Eternal City. Ohalam hoped that he would enjoy his vacation, wherever it was. The Great General Michael-Lan was now in charge of Heaven until Yahweh returned. That was what puzzled him. Why had Michael-Lan surrendered so quickly? Could not the Great General think of a way to defeat the humans the way he had defeated the fallen Ones and driven them from Heaven.

Humans. Ohalam had great difficulty getting his mind around the problems they were causing. They had been menial servants, of little account for so long. How had this happened? How had they become the ruthless killers who had destroyed The Morningstar and cast down The Fallen Ones and then proceeded to do the same here? It made no sense.

The drone of turboprop engines interrupted Ohalam's train of thought. It was a human aircraft, one of the steadily increasing number that were passing over the City. Ohalam adjusted his eyes for long-distance vision and looked at it. A white aircraft with a blue stripe down its fuselage and its nose and tail painted bright orange. Quite different from the blue or dark red paint scheme the human aircraft usually wore. He watched as the aircraft circled around, obviously inspecting the area. In awe of the glories of the Eternal City, he thought.

Shin Meiwa US-2 Flying Boat, Circling the Lake of Placid Contemplation, Eternal City, Heaven.

"It's a bit of a dump isn't it?" Dani was looking out of a porthole, using the powerful binoculars the aircraft carried to search for survivors. That was, after all, the primary role of the US-2.

"All the reports say that." Oushi had come back into the cabin to make sure than his passengers were comfortable prior to landing. He was well aware that if kitten got as much as a bruise from a rough landing, his life would not be worth living. The old custom of seppuku might well be considered an appropriate form of apology in that event. "When looking the first time, impressive with all the precious stones but beneath that, not so much. Now, we will be landing on the lake very soon. We have check it carefully and it is very smooth so the landing should be just like a land aircraft touching down. If there are ripples on the water, they might cause some jolts, so please, be very careful and make sure you are properly strapped in. After we have landed, kitten, my orders are that you are in charge from that point onwards. Just tell us what you need us to do."

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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:25 pm 
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Angelic Treatment Ward, Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, MD

The thunderous roll of explosions shook the roof of the tent. Overhead, the sky was ablaze with colored lights as another salvo of fireworks threw their cargoes high into the air. They had barely begun to fade when they were replaced by an even more profuse display.

"What is going on?" Maion-Lan-Lemuel was confused by the firework display. "Are you being attacked?"

"No way, the war is over." Lieutenant Grace Zachariah looked at her patient carefully. "Yahweh is dead. Michael killed him. His first act after taking power was to surrender unconditionally to us. We're occupying The Eternal City now. The fireworks display you can see is the celebration. If you think this is good, try watching the display at Las Vegas on television."

"Michael loves Las Vegas," Maion spoke reflectively. Her mind was still trying to accept all the things that were happening to her and many of them hadn't properly been absorbed yet. "He loved New Orleans as well. When Yahweh wiped it out with a hurricane, it was one of the few times I have seen Michael really angry. Yahweh is really dead?"

The message had sunk in at last. The realization that the supreme authority figure in heaven that she had taken for granted all her life was gone left Maion looking lost and bewildered. As she had become accustomed to doing, she turned to Lemuel for support and guidance. "What will we do now?"

"We will get well, then we will go back to The Eternal City. There is so much that needs to be done, so many things that need to be put right. And there are many questions I wish to ask of Michael-Lan, ones that will take him much time to explain."

Maion felt the impact of those words and they perturbed her. She stretched her wings out. They were still small but had almost quadrupled in size since they had started to regrow from the stumps left of her old ones. A few more weeks and they would be regrown. Then she would be able to fly again. The price being paid was that she was ravenously hungry most of the time. That was an unfamiliar feeling to her, nobody in the Eternal City ever got really hungry. "Lemuel. Remember Michael saved my life."

"Having first endangered it. And having addicted us to his drugs." Lemuel's voice had no hint of doubt or any lack of resolve. "There is much he must answer for."

"Well, you may have to wait." Grace's voice was sharp. She didn’t like things that got in the way of her ward running smoothly. "Michael is in charge of Heaven right now. Whether he stays there is up to General Petraeus. But, at the moment, he's our person and we need him there. To be blunt Lemuel, we need him more than we need you. So don't get in our way."

Her words were interrupted by another barrage of fireworks explosions. Lemuel looked at them sadly, making Grace remember that, while the entire human race was celebrating the fall of Heaven, to Lemuel, the same celebrations marked the end of their history. Whatever happened next would be a new world for them. Nothing would ever be quite the same for the angels.

"You celebrate the end of the war?" Lemuel was confused. "I thought you humans loved war?"

"We're very good at it. That doesn't mean we like it. That may be why we are good at it, we want it ended." Grace wasn't quite certain of what she was saying or what she wanted to say. "For us, real war isn’t a game or a hobby. It's a very real horror. Nobody knows that more than people who work in military medical facilities. You know those angels that came in with radiation injuries and cancers? We weren't able to save any of them. Not one. They all died. I'd say if Michael made it unnecessary for us to do that to your entire race, then you should be damned grateful to him. Even if the personal cost to you two was high."

She stopped talking, realizing that she had been shaken out of her professional persona. Watching the sick and radiation-poisoned angels dying had been a harrowing experience. It had been made bearable only by the nearby sight of the crippled victims of Yahweh's concentration camp recovering from their injuries. She saw Lemuel staring at her, his eyes confused by conflicting emotions. Welcome to the human race, Lemuel. Moral ambivalence is the name of the game from now on. But, I guess it always was, you just fooled yourselves when you pretended otherwise. She completed Maion's treatment chart and ordered another set of meals to be sent up to her. Her wings might be recovering but she needed a lot of food to provide the raw materials for regeneration.

USS Turner Joy, DD-951 AUTEC Transition Point, Earth

The fleet was lit overall, every mast and yardarm twinkling with lights while searchlights swept the sky in complex patterns. Overhead, the beams mixed with the explosions as some of the ships fired off their chaff and flare decoys in an attempt to emulate fireworks. Turner Joy was not taking part in the celebration, not from any desire to remain dark and silent, but because her crew was hard at work getting ready for the transit to Heaven.

"Are we ballasted properly?" Captain Reynolds was concerned about the transfer from salt water to the fresh water he presumed filled the Lake of Placid Contemplation. It would be acutely embarrassing if his ship was to transit into Heaven and promptly sink because of the lower density of fresh water.

"Yes Sir. We've made the 2.5 percent correction needed. By the way Enterprise is standing out of the water, so has she."

Reynolds nodded and reminded himself to check the buoyancy numbers for himself before making the transit. "Any word from Heaven?"

"Nothing since the last sitrep Sir. The flying boat carrying kitten and her equipment landed safely on the Lake about an hour ago. Wait one Sir."

There was a long pause from the communications room before the voice at the other end resumed. "New message has just come through, Sir. We'll be seeing the portal forming very shortly and are to transit as soon as it is fully formed . We're reminded it's daylight in Heaven at this time. We're also ordered to be at full action stations when we go through, closed up and ready to engage any hostile forces."

"In a friendly manner of course." Reynolds laughed, the time-honored U.S. Navy caution was a legend. "I could make myself wish that somebody that side would try something. All I ever wanted was to get Yahweh under my guns for a few minutes. Now he's gone, we'll never get that chance."

"Sir, portal forming dead ahead."

"Very good. Here we go people."

Shores of the Lake of Placid Contemplation, The Eternal City, Heaven.

The human flying machine didn't seem to be doing very much. Ohalam-Lan-Derepael had been watching it carefully but it seemed reluctant to erupt into action and start destroying everything around it. That was when he stopped in amazement at the realization he was afraid of these humans. That sudden insight mad him feel cold, a chill running down his back, between his wings. Yet the aircraft just sat there, floating quietly in the lake, doing nothing. Or so it seemed.

The portal formation took him by surprise. The great black ellipse started to form beside the flying boat, spreading quickly to reach enormous size. What happened next served only to heighten Ohalam's fears. A ship came through the portal, one larger than anything he had ever seen before. It came through fast, a white wave around its bows, its long-barrelled guns scanning the horizon. Ohalam understood what that meant, the messages from the Ultimate Temple had been quite clear on that. Human guns were deadly. Don't make them use them. Otherwise the whole city will suffer the fate of the Incomparable Legion of Light.

The gray warship slowed once she was through the gate and clear of the flying boat. She was doing something, Ohalam couldn’t understand what, but he guessed these humans saw it as being important. He contented himself with the knowledge that things would all become clear in due course. After all, hadn't
Michael-Lan said all would be well in the end?

USS Turner Joy, DD-951 Lake of Placid Contemplation, Eternal City, Heaven

"We're through, Sir."

"Very good, change course ten degrees, take us clear of kitten's Shin Meiwa. Water conditions?"

"Fresh water as expected, buoyancy compensation as calculated. We're stable. No sign of organic contamination. The environmental people are taking samples now. Preliminary analysis should be through soon. Sonar room reports . . . . " Sophia's voice hesitated. "Sir, they can't find the bottom. The echo sounder shows no returns. Whatever this lake is, it's deep."

Reynolds nodded. "One day, we'll probably send a bathysphere down to find out what is down there. Until then, we'll try not to sink here. Finding us again would give even Bob Ballard conniptions. Comms room. Send to USS Enterprise, 'portal exit secure'.

Shores of the Lake of Placid Contemplation, The Eternal City, Heaven.

The gray ship had moved well clear of the portal and had come to a near halt. Only her guns and the strange, mesh-like things that rotated on her masts were moving. The threat they purveyed was frighteningly tangible. What came next was downright terrifying.

A massive structure, the front edge curved, the top flat started to come through the portal. It was huge, far bigger than any structure Ohalam had seen before. Already it dwarfed the first ship that had come through and yet it kept on coming. As more and more of it emerged, he could see human aircraft parked on its deck. There were dozens of them, all painted with the red and gray camouflage that he already knew was the color humans associated with their conquest of Hell. The message they intended to send was, to Ohalam, obvious. They intended to treat Heaven the same way as they had treated Hell. More and more of the ship came through. The superstructure, looking almost ludicrously tiny against the sheer size of the massive hull, appeared next. Its gray shape was marred by the number 65 painted in darker gray. Finally the rear end of the great ship appeared. As soon as it was through, there was an ear-splitting scream from the front of the ship and four of the aircraft on its deck were launched. They dropped slightly as they left the deck, then climbed away to start circling over the Lake. Less than a minute later, they were joined by four more.

The great ship curved away, the water foaming at its stern as it accelerated away from the portal. As it passed the first ship through, there was a load blast from a siren. Ohalam realized that the great ship was saluting the small one and the aircraft that had opened the portal. Then she was gone, moving quickly away to a distant part of the lake, still launching aircraft as she went.

Ohalam's jaw was open with sheer shock as one great ship after another followed the first through the portal. They were different, most of them. Two were almost repeats of the first great ship through, others were larger versions of the small ship that had led this massive fleet. His mind was already overwhelmed by the sight that was unfolding in front of him and he was barely aware of the growing crowd that had gathered to watch the spectacle.

The last ships through were smaller versions of the great aircraft-carrying ships that had led the parade. They had a different air about them though, they had aircraft on their decks but different ones. That isn't surprising thought Ohalam, there isn't much room left in the sky for more aircraft. That was when he noticed a tiny detail, one almost missed in the sheer awesome grandeur of the demonstration. The aircraft that had opened the whole show had taken off and left. Probably on its way back to Earth.

Still, the demonstration continued to unfold. The parade of ships through the portal had finally ended. Some were already on their ways to the far corners of the Lake. Others were almost in front of Ohalam's vantage point and were doing strange things. Their sterns seemed to be dropping and gates opening as if they were sucking water into their hulls. Meanwhile, they too started launching the aircraft on their decks. It was odd, these ones rose straight up with the fans over their bodies rotating so fast they blurred. The helicopters formed up in mid-air and started to disperse, heading in neat groups for key points around the Lake. Ohalam could see where they were going, the Temple of the League of Holy Court, the Temple of Righteousness and, of course, The Ultimate Temple. Every key administrative point in the city. Idly, a curious thought worked its way into Ohalam's mind. Was grouping all the administrative buildings in The Eternal City so closely together a good idea?

Yet more unexpected things happened before him. Some were great, some were small. The greatest of them was the sudden emergence of human vehicles from the rear ends of the ships that had halted before the city. For a strange moment, Ohalam thought that the ships were giving birth, but then common sense kicked in. These were not great creatures, they were just human machines. He watched the vehicles leave the ships and start circling behind their parent ships, doubtless waiting for the rest of the formation to join them. The small thing was that a group of humans carrying guns and dressed in red-and-gray uniforms were waiting on the shoreline. One had a box with a long wire sticking out the top and he was speaking to somebody. What he was saying, Ohalam could not hear.

The Ultimate Temple, The Eternal City, Heaven.

"Well, that was unexpected." Gabriel-Lan-Michael looked down at the fleet assembling in the Lake below the Temple.

"Humans always did know how to make an entrance. They also know how to do the unexpected. I was expecting them to come in through the gates and filter through the city, consolidating their hold as they went. I wasn't expecting the fleet to arrive in the middle of the city as well. It's a pity Gabby, I was hoping for a little more time to consolidate our position." Michael looked down at the fleet as well, noting how troops from the helicopters were already fanning out to seize every major building of importance in the administrative quarter. Obviously, Lemuel-Lan had been speaking freely about how the city was laid out."

"Is this very bad for us?" Gabriel wasn't as confident as Michael, that had always been his downfall.

"No, not really. I've always know the humans would set the agenda and timetable at this point. We have to just go with the flow. Think on our feet, Gabby, we've always had to think on our feet. Now is no different. If we don’t adapt, we end up like Yahweh."

"He did make a splash didn't he?" Gabriel-Lan-Michael was amused at the memory. "I wonder if he made a dent when he hit the lakebed."

"If there is a lakebed. We're never found one. Perhaps he will just sink forever." Michael looked at the helicopters. Sure enough, a group of more than two dozen were heading right for the Ultimate Temple. "Here we go Gabby. Keep smiling and whatever you do, don’t do anything threatening."

The helicopters touched down, disgorging troops that quickly spread out through the buildings that formed The Ultiamte Temple complex. Michael watched them separate out the strange creatures that had amused Yahweh so much and put them to one side. Doubtless for study, he thought. Humans really like to study unusual things.

More humans were fanning out across the steps that led up to the inner sanctum of the Ultimate Temple. Michael waved to his people and they settled down on the steps that had once led up to Yahweh's throne. "I would strongly advise everybody to keep their hands in sight and make no sudden movements." They were Michael's last words before the Marines broke into the Inner Sanctum.

"You, who are you." The leader of the Marines snapped out the question.

"I am Michael-Lan-Michael. Pro-tem leader and head of the council of angels running Heaven following the death of Yahweh."

"We'll see about that. Consider yourselves under arrest. All of you will remain here until General Petraeus decides what to do with you.

Shores of the Lake of Placid Contemplation, The Eternal City, Heaven.

The AAV-7 amphibious armored personnel carriers had finally finished launching from their mother ships. The circles straightened out into long lines and they swam to the white sand of the beach. The noise of the diesels as they pulled the AAV-7s out of the water and on to the sand drowned out pretty much everything and it was a blessed relief when the majority of the vehicles waddled away to establish occupation and a growing web of check points across The Eternal City. One small group of vehicles pulled up on the beach and unloaded there. The headquarters of the Marine Regiment that had just landed.

One of the small group of soldiers waiting on the beach walked over to the newly established beachfront headquarters. "Sir, I am Captain Tomas Villaflor, 4th Scout Ranger Company, Philippine Army."

The Marine commander looked at him and grinned. "We were told to expect special forces detachments. Colonel Robert Fortuna, 5th Marine Regiment."

"Please to meet you, Sir." The Captain also grinned. "But I must regret to advise you that, according to your operations schedule, you are three minutes late."

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There are 550 million firearms in the world, enough for one person in twelve of the world's population. The moral dilemma that faces us is how to arm the other eleven.


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:26 pm 
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Excellent work and I'm am very flattered to see my idea for the 18inch railway howitzer in there.
I'd have thought that Bodie and Doyle would have carried Browning Hi-Powers rather than Sigs, or maybe the P-38, or S&W Model 19. :D

I see the marines have finally made it to Heaven then.

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Adrian Carton de Wiart, VC wrote:
Frankly I had enjoyed the war...and why do people want peace if the war is so much fun?


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:23 pm 
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MYTHBUSTERS! HOLY MOLY! That would be awesome!

Edit: Oh wait, hrrm, Mythbusters did do one of those kinds of Myths before (trying to get vacuum energy) but decided at the end that they shouldn't do "weird" semi-paranormal myths anymore, it would strike me as odd for them to see if Rich people somehow couldn't get through the gates, they don't do that kind of Myths, they actually test much more scientifically sound myths, still out there/urban legends but something that seems like its plausible with current physics, like splitting a car open with a snowplow or seeing if you could accurately drop a car 9000 feet in the air onto a moving car on the ground (or testing if thermite explodes if used on ice), testing if rich people couldn't physically enter heaven seems kinda out of character for them based on their comments in the episode that they did try to tackle something paranormal.

On the other hand, I can't think of anything better, maybe they decided to do it since Heaven is now proven to exist? That it would be fun/funny? What Doctor Surlethe said is a perfectly accurate description of the show, (and also how its summed up on XKCD).


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:09 pm 
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JNiemczyk1 wrote:
Excellent work and I'm am very flattered to see my idea for the 18inch railway howitzer in there.
I'd have thought that Bodie and Doyle would have carried Browning Hi-Powers rather than Sigs, or maybe the P-38, or S&W Model 19. :D

I see the marines have finally made it to Heaven then.


I agree, excellent work and a nicely written section about the 18" howitzer. I wondered elsewhere how many tubes the US may have available in 14" or 16".

The Professionals was a nice touch - it was standard viewing when I grew up. Pity they could not have stashed a suitably worked Mark III Capri out the back of the temple!

One query. If Lan denotes a servant/master relationship, who is Michael's master but himself, given the references to Michael-lan-Michael?

Jonathan


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:40 pm 
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Pity they could not have stashed a suitably worked Mark III Capri out the back of the temple!


A Triumph Dolomite Sprint would be more interesting, though if George Cowley, sorry Greg Crowleigh is about perhaps a Rover SD1, or Ford Grenada. :D
An interesting tit-bit of trivia is that the SD1 driven, often rather vigorously by Cowley, was the same one driven equally vigorously by John Steed in The New Avengers.
I often think that our economic woes in the '70s must have been caused by the repair and maintenance bill for CI5's cars. The number of tyres they must have gotten through must have been phenomenal and I pity their mechanics.
Perhaps the variety of cars Bodie and Doyle drove in the early episodes reflects not that BL kept supplying different cars, but the fact that the 'in universe' cars needed lots of maintenance because Bodie, Doyle, Cowley, or another CI5 agent had broken them. :lol:

Some people complain about the fact that there is poor continuity wrt cars when BL was supplying them, but I think there is an easy way to explain it. CI5 is a government agency and its vehicles will be part of a pool; agents will be supplied with whatever car, van etc is available.

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Frankly I had enjoyed the war...and why do people want peace if the war is so much fun?


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:09 pm 
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JBG wrote:
One query. If Lan denotes a servant/master relationship, who is Michael's master but himself, given the references to Michael-lan-Michael?


It's Michael's back-handed humor at work again. His new name means Michael, servant of Michael. It's a droll recognition that he serves nobody's interests but his own. And yet, despite that, we know it isn't quite true. In some ways, we have a more sympathetic viewpoint of Michael than he does of himself.

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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:00 am 
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JNiemczyk1 wrote:
Perhaps the variety of cars Bodie and Doyle drove in the early episodes reflects not that BL kept supplying different cars, but the fact that the 'in universe' cars needed lots of maintenance because Bodie, Doyle, Cowley, or another CI5 agent had broken them. Some people complain about the fact that there is poor continuity wrt cars when BL was supplying them, but I think there is an easy way to explain it. CI5 is a government agency and its vehicles will be part of a pool; agents will be supplied with whatever car, van etc is available.


I don't know if British government agencies still work that way but they certainly did back in the early-mid 1970s. Even small agencies or departments had a car pool (perhaps one or two vehicles for a very small department, usually more) and if one was driving on official business one had to use one of those cars - and one took what was was given. Using one's own car for official business was seriously forbidden. The official reason was liability insurance. One very rarely got the same vehicle twice in a row, the reason wasn't the way the cars were driven but the truly dreadful reliability standards of BL cars in that era. They were awful beyond human contemplation. If Satan had bothered to keep up to date with human progress, he might well have made driving an Austin Princess for all eternity one of the circles of Hell.

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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:55 pm 
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I believe they do still work that way. Saughton House in Edinburgh certainly had a car pool when I was there.
There have been accusations of active sabotage by militant workers during the BL era.

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Frankly I had enjoyed the war...and why do people want peace if the war is so much fun?


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:27 pm 
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My Department has a motor pool, fleet manager etc.

It always has had one since I've been there, 1994 or so. NSW is a big place - you have to drive or fly to get out and about.

Now we have Yaris (WTF is the plural of that word?), Corollas, Aurions (local V6 Camry), Subaru Forresters, Holden Captivas (mid-size re-badged and re-engineered Korean 4WD) and some Commodores.

Every now and again some reason pops up to take out a car so I try to keep current on everyday cars.

Jan I mentioned the Capri since I knew people who had some. Even though a neighbour had a Dolomite Sprint and a family friend had an SD1 when I see a late production Capri I think of Bodie and Doyle. Fair call on Crowleigh though!

Jonathan


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:50 am 
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No 'proper' Holdens then? :D
Cowley used to drive his SD1 and Granadas like a man possessed. He could easily have been a rally driver in a previous occupation. :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:09 am 
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Query, not sure if this been answered but... when kitten dies, and crosses the Minos Gate what happens? Since people seem to regress in age to their middle years, is this partially based on their hell bodies being egoscopic projections?


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:42 am 
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I think it likely that she will transition the Minos gate normally. There is nothing so unusual about her to prevent that. Actually, I think more of an interesting question will be, will kitten regress to her pre-op state or is her body more dependent on self-image?


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:31 pm 
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Thats.... Exactly what I was asking! When I mentioned egoscopic projections I meant do spawn as they see themselves or as they were exactly at around the 45% mark of their age in their previous life?

As such if its the former then kitten should arrive as a natural female, if the latter then a male... one with regenerative abilities... making fixing her sex impossible in hell, and thus I imagined to a transexual, a fate worse then death.


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:40 am 
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Blayne Buradorii wrote:
Thats.... Exactly what I was asking! When I mentioned egoscopic projections I meant do spawn as they see themselves or as they were exactly at around the 45% mark of their age in their previous life?

As such if its the former then kitten should arrive as a natural female, if the latter then a male... one with regenerative abilities... making fixing her sex impossible in hell, and thus I imagined to a transexual, a fate worse then death.


I believe Stuart's made comments on SDN to the effect that people are regenerated as they imagine themselves to have been at their 'best' (I've not heard the term 'egoscopic projection' before, but it's a very good one), more or less, which would imply that kitten (and other transsexuals) regenerate in post-op condition. More interesting, IMHO, is what happens when such a person dies in pre-op condition.

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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:41 am 
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RLBH wrote:
I believe Stuart's made comments on SDN to the effect that people are regenerated as they imagine themselves to have been at their 'best' (I've not heard the term 'egoscopic projection' before, but it's a very good one), more or less, which would imply that kitten (and other transsexuals) regenerate in post-op condition. More interesting, IMHO, is what happens when such a person dies in pre-op condition.


This really comes down to the question that's at the root of the transexual issue; where does the root of sexuality reside? In the head or in the body? The answer to that question determines the answer to kitten's sex on rebirth into second life. If the root of sexuality resides in the head, she'll be reborn as a woman. If the root of sexuality resides in the body, as a man.

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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:28 am 
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RLBH wrote:
Blayne Buradorii wrote:
Thats.... Exactly what I was asking! When I mentioned egoscopic projections I meant do spawn as they see themselves or as they were exactly at around the 45% mark of their age in their previous life?

As such if its the former then kitten should arrive as a natural female, if the latter then a male... one with regenerative abilities... making fixing her sex impossible in hell, and thus I imagined to a transexual, a fate worse then death.


I believe Stuart's made comments on SDN to the effect that people are regenerated as they imagine themselves to have been at their 'best' (I've not heard the term 'egoscopic projection' before, but it's a very good one), more or less, which would imply that kitten (and other transsexuals) regenerate in post-op condition. More interesting, IMHO, is what happens when such a person dies in pre-op condition.


This is almost fanfic fetish fuel, I can already imagine rule 34 TSW slash fiction of people waking up alive again in Hell only to be the opposite sex... Or something inbetween.

*adds entry to tvtropes*

Quote:
If the root of sexuality resides in the head, she'll be reborn as a woman. If the root of sexuality resides in the body, as a man.


Isnt this the opposite? The believe is that this is something their born as, not something they choose isn't it?


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 Post subject: Re: Pantheocide 77 - 80
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:20 pm 
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I think that's the point. kitten was born as a woman, and only through a quirk of genetics did she arrive in a male body. I believe there is a rather in depth and somewhat technical thread on SDN regarding this.


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