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 Post subject: Armageddon Parts 1 to 5
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:31 am 
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Eagle Flight, Over The Eastern Pacific

“I, Satan Mekratrig, Lord of Hell, Commander of the Legions of the Damned do hereby declare my dominion over the earth and all that it contains. Crawl to me, humans, knowing the eternity of torment that awaits you.”

“Oh, piss off,” said Lieutenant Michael Wong. The voice that had come over the radio link, booming in the cockpit of his F/A-18E, had distracted him from paying proper attention to the cockpit display of his APG-79 radar. The new AESA radar was a vast improvement over the older APG-73 but that was, as always, a slight problem all of its own. Until the pilots learned how to take full advantage of the improved data flow, they could be swamped with it. Wong was experiencing that problem now, the resolution of the new radar was phenomenal but it seemed to indicate that the wings on the targets 60 nautical miles out in front of him were flapping.

“Full of himself isn’t he? Or should it be ‘it’?” Lieutenant Anthony Squires was genuinely interested, he was renowned as being the Ronald Reagan air group’s grammar geek.

“Try a ‘that’.” Wong wasn’t really interested, the targets in front of him were behaving oddly. They were slow, 180 miles per hour at most. They had a strong radar image yet seemed to have no infra-red signature. That was an odd combination to put it mildly. The bombastic message that had interrupted his concentration was irritating, no more than that. So what were those contacts in front of him? Birds? They were too fast for that surely? The Peregrine Falcon was the fastest bird known and that could, just, hit 180 mph in a steep dive. These were doing that in level flight. So they had to be some form of aircraft. That was assuming the AESA radar wasn’t generating a completely false image of course. And who knew how the electronic systems were malfunctioning following the delivery of The Message three days ago? There was one way to find out.

“Buster, this is Eagle Flight, 200 miles out, bearing 353, we have an anomalous radar contact some 60 miles out in front of us. Please confirm.”

There was a pause for a few seconds, electrostatic discharges in the atmosphere were playing havoc with radio communications but the systems filtering programs quickly cleared the white noise from the channel. “Confirm contact Eagle Flight. Bearing 358, range from Buster is 66.6 nautical miles. Target speed 184 knots, course one-three-fiver. For your information, Crown and Scepter are tracking also. They have locks.” There was a pause, a series of crackles on the radio, then the message resumed. “If targets are hostile, you are cleared to engage.”

Wong translated the message in his head. ‘Buster’ was CVN-76 USS Ronald Reagan, ‘Crown’ was CG-70 USS Lake Erie, an AEGIS cruiser, while ‘Scepter’ was DDG-93 USS Chung-Hoon, one of the Arleigh Burke class destroyers that now dominated the fleet’s surface combatant force. Also AEGIS-equipped, that meant whatever the targets were, they were now being tracked by three of the most advanced radar systems in the U.S. Navy. The ‘lock’ part of the message was really interesting, that suggested the order to open fire was already being passed out.

That didn’t surprise Wong, human reaction to The Message had split neatly down religious lines. Those whose religion had demanded blind submission to the ‘Will of God’ had accepted it without a struggle and more or less laid down and died. They just weren’t around any more. The rest of the world’s population had followed the example set by Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown. His reply to The Message had been “Sod off, Baldrick,” followed by a reassuring message to the British people that he had a cunning plan to deal with the situation. The British had enjoyed the joke, whatever it was, and collectively told Satan to perform some highly improbable obscenities on himself. They’d been the first only by a matter of minutes as most of the other countries in the world has replied with similar messages. Ever since then, The Message had been repeated at regular intervals, almost as if the concept of human defiance was so completely unexpected that the powers ‘up there’ couldn’t comprehend its existence. Well, if that was the case, the powers ‘up there’ didn’t know the human race very well.

The three days since the first reception of The Message had been something of a standoff. Humans had waited for the next development, allowing the situation to mature in military parlance, while the only response to their defiance had been the repeated proclamations. No effort to force compliance, not yet at any rate. And no overt human resistance. Wong got the feeling that was all about to change.

“All members, Eagle Flight, increase to fiver-six-zero knots, say again increase to fiver-six-zero knots. Intercept targets in front, range, five-eight nautical miles. Weapons are free, say again, weapons are free. Good hunting Eagle Flight.”

The four F/A-18Es accelerated out of cruise speed, building up to maximum subsonic. The E model had more range and fuel than the older As and Cs but fuel status was always a serious concern to Hornet drivers. Wong had listened with envy to those who had flown the now-gone Tomcats or even longer-lost Intruders. Then, he glanced down at his radar scope again. There were four targets, apparently blissfully ignorant of the Super-Hornets bearing down on them. That was neat, one each.

“Eagle Flight, we are swinging around behind them. I have radar paints on all four, no infra-red signature yet. Each Eagle aircraft, take target corresponding to your flight position, from the left. Use AIM-120 then close in for 20-mike-mike. Not sure AIM-9 will work unless we can get a heat signature off whatever is out there. We’ll get a visual ID first.”

At twelve nautical miles range, the U.S. Navy Hornets got their visual ID. The contacts were four giant creatures, jet black in color, looking like a hideous cross between a gorilla and a bird. Four limbs, two wings, flying in an unconcerned, oblivious line.

“Just what the hell are those?”

Wong wasn’t sure which pilot had breathed the comment into the radio. Didn’t matter, they all knew what to do. So did he come to that. “Buster, this is Eagle. Targets visually identified, large flying humanoids about the same size as a Super-Bug. Wingspan at least twice as great as ours, probably much larger. Engaging.”

“Eagle, this is Buster. Acknowledged. Targets designated as demons. Good luck Eagle Flight.” A few days earlier the fighter controller might have added “And may God go with you” but not after The Message and the betrayal it had represented.

Wong switched the annunciator on his AIM-120s on. They were growling gently, a sustained continuous note that indicated their homing heads were logged on to his selected target, the demon second from the left. The F/A-18s were closing fast, the range was dropping to the point where the hits would be almost instantaneous. “Eagle Flight, open fire.”

Wong’s pressure on the firing button was almost simultaneous with his order. A pair of AIM-120 missiles streaked ahead of his aircraft, curving after the demon he had picked out for his target. He’d been right, the gap was so short that the target couldn’t have evaded even if it had wanted to. It never even tried.

Demon Shingroleth was actually aware of the approaching fighters, he’d seen them when they were still 15 miles out, far beyond the range of any human eye, so he had assumed their presence was coincidental. He had other problems to worry about, a few inconsequential humans were of no significant account one ay or the other. What concerned him was the way his skin was itching, it had started a few minutes before and was getting steadily worse. Maddening. He hadn’t even worried when the four human machines had swung in behind his group and started to close the range on them. That had been when his skin itch had become really intolerable. Then, the humans had done something really strange; odd streaks of smoke coming out from under their flying machines. Surely they couldn’t be resisting the all-powerful armies of the damned?

The AIM-120s worked as advertised. They were good missiles, well designed, well-tested, and they had a target that was proving co-operative to the point of suicide. No maneuvering, no electronic warfare, no interference, if the guidance had been capable of human thought it would have been vaguely offended at being asked to solve a task so undemanding. The first missile exploded between Shingroleth’s legs, just underneath his tail. The 50 pound explosive warhead was wrapped with heavy-gauge pre-notched wire that disintegrated into an annular hail of pre-formed fragments when the missile’s proximity fuse set off the explosive charge. Some of those razor-sharp fragments slashed through Shingroleth’s tail, severing it at the root and sending it spinning off in a long arc. Others ripped into his legs and genitals, tearing open the great arteries, sending his fire-and acid blood spraying over his body, and mangling his reproductive organs beyond recognition. Shingroleth’s scream of demented agony was heard even in the sound insulated-cockpits of the F/A-18s.

The second missile did really serious damage. Its proximity fuse initiated it right underneath Shingroleth’s belly. The holocaust of tungsten-steel fragments ripped open his stomach and tore his abdominal cavity to shreds. Even in a mind crazed by the ghastly pain from the first hit, Shingroleth noticed the sudden drop in weight as his intestines dropped out of his body. Then his fire-and-acid blood, spraying from more wounds than could reasonably be counted, set fire to his flesh. Shingroleth tumbled downwards, all hope of control had gone when he had lost his stabilizing tail. By the time his remains hit sea level, all that was left of him was a fine carbon dust.

Immediately on firing, Wong had firewalled his throttles, cut in reheat and taken his F/A-18 up into a steep climb. The last thing he had wanted to do was get too close to those things. As he rolled over at the top of the climb, he could see the havoc his attack had wrought on the demon formation below. His target had gone, its death marked by a black streak towards the sea far below. Another one of the formation had taken hits from four AIM-120s, for some reason two F/A-18s had fired on the same aircraft, well, that sort of thing happened. It had meant that the demon had been quite literally torn apart by the storm of fragments and blast of the explosions. More than 200 pounds of best explosive American dollars could buy had vented its wrath on the hideous creature and all that was left of it was a shower of burning fragments. A third demon was staggering away, it had been the last to get hit and had escaped the eviscerating body hits. Instead, one of its wings had been torn to tiny fragments and it was going down in a helpless spin. Even as Wong watched, two of his F-18s were closing on it.

Prigrathrath was desperately trying to control his descent. One of his wings had gone, it was just a mass of torn flesh and spurting blood. The only thing that was saving him was that his flight path was keeping the blood-and-acid away from his body, the fate of Shingroleth and Caranaskatos had shown him what would happen when demon blood and body parts mixed. Two of the gray-painted human machines were coming after him, he could see them, but with his crippled wings there was little he could do about it. It was odd, there was a strange twinkling light coming from the front of the two flying machines. Then Prigrathrath’s lights went out.

Squires had fired a much longer burst than was normal for the M61 cannon in the nose of his F/A-18. He and his wingman had aimed very carefully, using the plane’s on-board computer and continuously-computed impact point sights to place all 100 rounds of their bursts square into the demon’s face. The effect was more than either pilot could have hoped. The great, hideously malformed head had just disintegrated as the armor-piercing incendiary shells ripped through the skin and shattered the bones underneath. The demon’s eyes, in fact every feature of its face, had been destroyed in the hail of cannon shells tearing through its structure. Once again, fire-and-acid blood spraying from the ruptured veins and arteries finished the job of destruction that fragments, explosions and blast had started. The demon erupted into flames and dropped like a stone towards the sea below.

That had left one demon, untouched, unharmed by the sudden, vicious attack. Quellarastis simply couldn’t believe that the humans had dared to attack him and his colleagues, let alone that they had killed three of his flight-mates with such contemptuous ease. Filled with unrighteous wrath at the effrontery of the attack, he swerved to retaliate at the pair of human flying machines that were coming straight at him. Now, they would learn what the wrath of a demon meant. He opened his mouth and gave a blast of terrifying hellfire straight at them.
In Eagle-One, Wong saw the fireball leave the demon’s mouth and flipped the ailerons over, pulling the stick back in a barrel role around the jet of flame. It wasn’t precisely a hard maneuver, the demon may have had powerful lungs but they could only drive a jet of flame so fast. Compared with the problems posed by trying to dodge a multi-mach missile, the flame was easy to avoid. Even better, the jet of fire was a perfect infra-red source for his AIM-9 Sidewinders. Both annunciators were screaming with the demand to be let loose and Wong obliged them both. They streaked from his wingtip mounts, heading straight for the inferno of heat that was the fire-breathing demon’s mouth.

Quellarastis did the worst thing he could possibly do under the circumstances. He gulped in shock as the two missiles hurtled into his mouth. Once again, proximity fuses worked to perfection, preformed fragments slashed out, ripping through the slate-black flesh of the demon. Some went up into his brain, bouncing around inside his skull until all that laid within was reduced to a finely-ground slush. Others sawed down through the demon’s chest, carving into his heart and lungs. More fragments, from the missile Quellarastis had accidentally swallowed tore the demons neck apart, severing his spinal column and paralyzing him. That was a mercy for Quellarastis, it meant that he did feel it when his blood set his flesh on fire and he vanished within a ball of fire.

“Buster, this is Eagle. All four demons engaged and destroyed. Inform all Buster elements, they blow up and burn if you hit them hard enough. We’re on our way back, we’re hitting bingo fuel out here.”

“Eagle Flight, this is buster. Come on home, the party is just starting down here.”

Wong relaxed in his seat. His Eagle-One had two confirmed kills, Eagle-Three and Eagle-Four had one each. Not ace status yet, but a good start.

National Command Post, Washington D.C.

“Mister President, a message from the Ronald Reagan battle group out in the Pacific. They’ve engaged four flying demons, killed all of them. No casualties on our side. Whatever these things are, they aren’t immortal or invulnerable. They burn and die, just like we do.”

President Bush looked dully at Secretary Gates. The betrayal that had been represented by The Message had hit him deep, torn apart the faith that had kept him going even in the darkest years of his presidency. Then, with his opinion poll figures trending up at last, this had to happen. He shook his head, tried to clear the clouds of despair from his mind and absorbed the information. As he did so, his eyes lit up for the first time in three days.

“Get word out to all our armed forces. Tell them to engage these, these things, at every opportunity. Shoot first, hit hard and keep hitting them. Let them know that we may go down but it won’t be without one hell of a fight.”

“Them Sir?”

“Them. Everybody. Our forces, the religious leaders who brought that message to us, those who the message came from. I don’t care who “they” are, either they attacked us or they betrayed us and I don’t see the difference between those who promise us an eternity of torture or those who would hand us over to that fate. They’re both our enemies now. And we’ll fight them. All of them.” Bush’s voice had gained strength and he made his commitment. “We may have believed in higher powers once, but they’ve forfeited any loyalty we may have owed them. Secretary Gates, get the word out. We fight.”

“Sir, I have to warn you, this may well be committing a war crime. We haven’t had United Nations approval for any action and without a vote in the UN, we are committing an act of aggressive war, which is a war crime. I therefore rule that we must hold off any action until there had been a full meeting of the Security Council. I will also issue orders for the pilots involved in this incident to be arrested and brought up on war crimes charges.”

There was a rumble of discontent around the war room. Bush heard it and that made up his mind. He looked at the JAG officer with contempt. “Place this man under arrest. Remove him, get rid of him. From now on, the United States will act in its own best interests and defend itself as best it can. Any other nations who want to join in this struggle are welcome to do so.”

“There might be quite a few of those Mister President.” Secretary Rice was carrying a mass of message flimsies. “We’re getting messages from other countries right now. First one is from Mr. George Yong-Boon Yeo, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Singapore. Apparently a demon landed there, carrying a demand for Singapore’s submission.”

“What did he do?”

“Nothing Sir. The demon’s demand was wrapped up in some sort of parchment and he dropped it on landing. Littering is a serious offense in Singapore Sir, and the Singapore police riddled the demon with bullets and then beat it to death. Anyway, Mr. Yeo says that Singapore’s going to fight and they’d appreciate our help.”

“He’s got it. Who else?”

“Another one landed in Bangkok, Thailand. That one didn’t get very far either. It wouldn’t bribe the police at a checkpoint to let it through and then it got stuck in the Bangkok traffic jams. The Army blew it away. With tanks. Apparently, local street traders are selling bits of demon to the tourists. Anyway, same message from the Thais, they’re going to fight and they’d appreciate any help we can send, only they’re adding if we need any aid, we only have to ask.”

“Nice of them. Well, people, it looks like the war has started. Let’s try to do a better job this time round, right?”

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: Armageddon
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:40 am 
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HMS Astute, On Sea Trials, North Atlantic

“Any idea what it is?”

The Sonar Operator shook his head. The Type 2076 sonar system was the most advanced the Royal Navy had ever deployed. One Admiral had tried to describe its capability by saying a submarine in Winchester could use that sonar to track a bus going around Hyde Park Corner in London. That comparison wasn’t true, but the real capability of 2076 was a closely-guarded secret. Tracking buses at that range was child’s play compared with what it could really do.

The waterfall display on the sonar panel was showing the target track, it was diverging from norm slightly, first one way and then the other, as if the unidentified contact was snaking in the water. It always came back to the same course though. That course took it to London. Eventually. That was another problem, the target track indicated a speed of around 12 knots. Not the sort of speed that made much sense. Too fast for economy, too slow for a speed run.

“I’m not getting any blade beat Sir. None at all. In fact I’m getting no machinery noise at all. No pompholugopaphlasmasin.” The sonar operator got the odd word out without missing a beat. He was referring to the odd selection of pops, hisses, squeaks and rattles made by machinery as it went about its daily tasks, an odd selection that was a clear signature to a passive sonar system. “I’m getting broad-band flow noise and that’s about it.”

“Biological?” Whales, clouds of shrimp, schools of fish, all got give strange sonar readings. Pompholugopaphlasmasin was the sonar operator’s best tool to distinguish man-made equipment from the natural sounds of the sea. And there wasn’t any. That would normally point to a biological but the one thing these times were not was normal. There was a body in the submarine’s freezer to prove that. The Ship’s Chaplain had committed suicide when the full implication of The Message had sunk home.

“Not at 12 knots Sir. A biological will either drift or move slowly at random directions. One holding 12 knots would be attacking something and this one isn’t. Then, there’s its course. Straight for London, never changing. No Sir, this isn’t a biological but that doesn’t change the fact that we can’t pick up anything on our narrow-band demodulated noise tracker.”

“You don’t suppose it could be….” Lieutenant-Commander Michael Murphy adopted an exaggerated expression of terror. “….the Red October.” Across Astute’s control room, the duty crew rolled their eyes in disgust, then shook their heads. That wretched author had caused so much trouble. . . .

“No Sir. But respectfully Sir, we are on trials. FOSM may have slipped us a weirdness just to find out what we would do with it.”

Murphy nodded. Flag Officer, Submarines was known for doing things like that. “Right, Atkins. We’ll treat this like a hostile.” His eyes flipped to the tactical display where a long oval marked the position of the anomalous contact. Passive sonar could give fine cuts on bearing but its range data was much less precise. “We need to fine that up a bit. We’ll establish a baseline. Make course one-eight zero, speed 34 knots, hold for 20 minutes. Anybody want to take a head-break, now’s the time, we won’t be tracking anything at that speed.”

That was true enough, Astute didn’t have the phenomenal underwater speed of the American Seawolf class but then few other submarines did. Astute was still fast enough for the flow noise over her hull to blank out her sonar. Murphy checked the plot again and thumbed the intercom. “Captain to the bridge.”

Captain Phillips materialized almost immediately. Captains tended to do that when trouble was brewing. “Problems Number One?”

“Don’t know sir, we have a highly anomalous contact. Behaves like a submarine but has the signature of a biological. It’s maintaining 12 knots, course takes it to London. I’m establishing a baseline for range now.”

“Very good Number One.” Phillips studied the tactical plot with great care. When a new submarine ran sea trials, it wasn’t only the ship that was being tested. Her crew were under the microscope as well. “Very good Number One. I have the con. You take over the attack team. If this is FOSM playing games, we’ll go along with it.”

The crew felt the vibration from the submarine’s machinery build up under their feet. One advantage, one of many, held by the nuclear-powered boats was that they never had to worry about fuel status or battery charge. The Royal Navy nuke-drivers pitied their NATO allies who were stuck in diesel-electrics and spent their lives with one eye glued to their battery charge meters. Astute was barreling through the water, putting distance between herself and the scene of her first set of track readings. Once she got a second set, the cross-bearings would give her the range data she needed.

Twenty minutes later, Astute dropped back down to her four knot observation speed. The sonar team dropped their relaxed air and immediately got down to work, trying to re-acquire the anomalous signature. That didn’t take much effort, they knew where to look and the weird flow noise was distinctive enough.

“Got it Sir. Range 18,000 meters.” On the tactical display, a second long oval appeared. The computers eliminated the time delay that had taken place and then superimposed the two sets of reading. What had once been long, thin ovals now crossed and gave a single precise point. Then the screen blinked again as the computers applied the range data they had just calculated to the bearing figures already on file. A single green line now appeared on the tactical display, one that gave both range and bearing. All that was, in fact, needed for an attack.

Phillips thought quickly. “Stream towed array, sonar team check on passive for any emissions, anything at all. Every frequency band you can think of, whatever we’re tracking doesn’t have to be using what we are.”

It took a few more minutes but the result was worth waiting for. “Got him Sir. Active emission, very high frequency, much higher than ours.” Atkins’ voice was triumphant. “It’s like a biological, well more like a bat really, but it isn’t. Power too high. I’d guess it’s a navigational or mine avoidance sonar but its nothing like anything we have on the books. That’s why the computer didn’t call it.”

“Very good. Helm take us up to periscope deck, sensors prepare to extend radio mast. We’d better call this in.” Phillips disappeared into the radio room for several minutes. When he came back, his face was a mixture of grimness and elation.

“Word direct from DOps.” A stir went around the control room, when Directorate of Operations gave the orders, things were happening. “The situation is breaking loose. The Spams shot down four Baldricks a few hours ago. Been a few other similar incidents around the world. The old stories be damned, the Baldricks are not invulnerable and we aren’t going down without a fight. There’s nothing friendly out here so we can presume that any unidentifiable target we’re tracking is hostile. Torpedo room, load two Spearfish, tubes one and two. Load sub-Harpoon into three and four. Helm, take her down to two hundred feet, make speed 34 knots, course one-six-three.”

Helm punched the figure into the computers. The tactical display flickered again, the green track turning to red and a blue line superimposed on it. That gave the relative position of Astute and the target. Phillips looked at the position. “Make that 35 knots and one-six-one.” A tiny refinement that would put Astute into a perfect position for a torpedo attack.

Phillips watched the display as the carat marking Astute’s position moved along the blue projected course line. Mentally, he was calculating angles and ranges, the computer could actually do that for him but he preferred to do his own check. “Drop speed to four knots, say again, to four knots. Bring bows to oh-one-oh. Open bow doors, tubes one and two. Sonar, hit that thing with a low-frequency pulse to check range. One pulse.” Phillips took his authorization card from around his neck and inserted it into a slot in the sonar control console. By using active sonar, Astute was announcing her presence and position to the world at large, That was why using active sonar required the Captain’s explicit authorization. One the card was in place, the BA-WHOOM from the sonar array in the submarine’s bows could be heard throughout the boat.

Ralaraspanathsis was swimming quietly through the ocean of this strange planet, his great tail swinging from side to side as it drove him through the water . As one of the Corps of Diabolical Heralds, his job was quite simple, he had to go to the designated place where the humans gathered and give them the message that informed them of their fate. Not that their fate was ever in any doubt but it seemed as if the powers higher up had got bored with playing their little games with this dimension and decided to wrap things up. Ralaraspanathsis actually slightly regretted that, this wasn’t the first time he’d been on this planet and he’d rather enjoyed the way the humans had cowered before him on his first visit. Still, perhaps his master would allow him to play with some once they were all in his domain.

It was half way through that pleasurable thought that the pain hit Ralaraspanathsis. His head seemed to explode, his ears crushed by a terrible pressure that shattered the bones in his inner ears. His forearms moved, almost of their own accord, covering his eardrums, trying to shut out the dreadful crushing noise. Then, almost before he could think again, the terrible noise was gone.

“Wow, will you look at that.” Atkin’s voice was awed. The contact was spinning in circles, threshing in the water creating a maelstrom of flow noise emissions. “It didn’t like that at all.”

“Hit it again. Full power to the forward sonar transducers.” The contact had been settling down when the second pulse hit it. If anything the threshing was even worse than with the first pulse. “That’s a Baldrick, no doubt. Weapons, fire tubes one and two. Target that thing.”

Taking four tons off the extreme end of the moment arm caused Astute’s bow to dip. It didn’t matter to the torpedoes, they were already out and climbing to the shallower water near the surface. Once there, they kicked up to 81 knots and ran out to the estimated position of the target. At that point they dropped their guidance wires and dived vertically on the contact below them.

A shaped charge can penetrate six times its diameter; that gave the pair of Spearfish torpedoes a theoretical penetration of 126 inches. In fact, they did a bit better than that, blasting deep cavities in Ralaraspanathsis’s back, severing his spinal column and burning deep into his vital organs. His body tissues, vaporized by the blast, sprayed out and down, searing and cooking his internal organs and bursting open the swim bladder that kept him afloat. Crippled and dying, he felt himself floating upwards towards the surface. Confusion filled his mind, he was a herald. How could they have done this?

“Well, there’s no doubt about, we just scored a Baldrick.” A cheer went up around the control room. Ever since Prime Minister Gordon Brown had quoted ‘Blackadder’ in his initial announcement, the British had taken to calling the denizens of hell, ‘Baldricks’. It had a nice, contemptuous air about it, one that was beginning to catch on. “Number One, take the boat to the surface, we need to collect samples.”

Phillips looked through the periscope again. “In fact, if we can tow that wreck in, so much the better. Environmental, keep a check on water conditions, the Spams said the ones they shot down had acid blood. We don’t want our hull plating corroded, the taxpayers would get perturbed.”

Tamanskoya Motor Rifle Division, Outskirts of Moscow

“Remember Bratishka. Rodina, chest, slava! Let the name of the Chertkovsky Tank Regiment chill the very fires of hell!”

The Americans had killed four of the demons, others had killed one each. Now it was time for the Rodina to strike its blow against these arrogant beasts who had dared to declare their dominion over humanity. The demon had appeared an hour or so earlier and was walking across the countryside towards the Kremlin. If the pattern from earlier encounters was holding true, it was making for Russia’s capital. Well, it wouldn’t get there, not if the Chertkovsky Tank Regiment had its way. Colonel Mikhail Suranov had worked on the presumption that the beast was heading for the city and set up a neat L-shaped ambush. The kill zone was covered by the 125mm guns on his tanks and, just to make sure, he had his Smerch multiple rocket artillery systems dialed in.

Berwaniklasnin had his message to deliver, as a herald that was his infernal duty and he was going to do it. The problem was, word had started to spread that the humans weren’t cowering in fear the way they were supposed to, before it had only taken a single appearance to throw them into panic. Now, there was a whisper they were fighting back. Not just fighting back but showing uncanny skill in doing so. That was a troubling concept. Berwaniklasnin felt a sudden itch on his skin, there were ten or more brilliant green dots on his hide, points where his flesh was beginning to swell. One of his arms moved to cover them, as he did so, the dot vanished from his hide but appeared on the back of his hand. A beam of some sort? He never had a chance to work it out because a massive blow struck his chest and sent him staggering backwards.

The first shot had sent the HVDUAPCFSDS bolt screaming into the beast’s chest, sending it reeling backwards. An instant later the nine other T-90S tanks of the first company fired in salvo, their shots striking home as almost a single blow. The Russian tank gunners had been told that the Thais had killed one of these beasts with their pathetic little M-41s, the Russian T-90S could do better than that surely? There was an unspoken message, it had better. And it could. The beast was down, battered off its feet by the depleted uranium bolts that had smashed into it. Even as the gunners watched, the beats tried to get back to its feet but Second Company were waiting. A brief interval as their laser rangefinders locked in, then another salvo of shots. These ones struck low, sheering the beast’s legs from its body. It rolled to the ground, trying to pull itself upright.

What criminality was this? Berwaniklasnin couldn’t believe what was taking place. He was a herald, one of those charged with carrying messages to the others. By all the laws and customs, he was granted immunity from attack for how could wars be fought if neither side could talk? But these humans had opened up on him without warning. It was a hideous crime for which the wrath of the higher powers would be terrible. Berwaniklasnin shook his head, he was crippled, his legs gone, his green blood soaking into the earth. Even as he looked around another salvo of shells struck him, ripping his arms from his body. He crashed onto his back, helpless and dying.

Suranov looked up at the beast dying on the ground. It had taken 30 hits from 125mm guns to bring it down and it wasn’t dead yet. If these things resistance to damage was as high as that, these beasts were going to be trouble.

“Tovarish Colonel. Please ask your men to help me. I need to sit on the beast’s chest.” It was one of the politicians from Moscow. It didn’t take long to help him up, a T-90 pulled alongside the beast and the political was unceremoniously hauled up into place. Somebody handed up a camp stool and he carefully selected a spot overlooking the beast’s head, one clear of the bubbling craters where the armor piercing shots had torn through the beast.

“Beast. Before you should die, I believe you should know who it is you are waging war upon. I will therefore read you some of President Putin’s speeches. Listen well and learn of your folly.”

“I can almost feel sorry for the beast.” An engineer sergeant placing the demolition charges around the great body spoke quietly but his team heard and laughed. The word spread amongst the tank crews and the chuckles spread there as well. The politician appeared not to have heard, his droning monotone carried on unaffected.

A few minutes later, the preparations were ready. Suranov looked up at the politician who was starting the third speech of his program. “Tovarish. We are about to blow the beast. Please come down.”

“But I must finish the President’s Speech to the Iron Worker’s Union.”
There was a hideous racking groan from the beast, muted only by its failing strength. Suranov got a clear mental picture of it begging to be put out of its misery, anything other than to have to listen to another speech. The Colonel could see its point. “Now, Tovarish, my orders are to destroy this thing then bring samples back for analysis.

The politician reluctantly agreed, and the charges were detonated. Looking around, something puzzled Suranov. “Didn’t the Americans say these beasts had acid blood? Because this one doesn’t.”

James Randi Educational Foundation, Florida, USA

“Thank you for seeing me at such short notice, Sir.” The woman was Thai, middle-aged, still poised, elegant and attractive. She also had the hardest, coldest black eyes James Randi, aka The Amazing Randi, had ever seen.

“I am pleased to make your acquaintance Ma’am.”

“Major-General. Sir, for many years your organization has run a million-dollar prize for evidence of people with supernatural abilities.”

“That is correct General. We were going to end the challenge in a couple of years but now, after these events….”

“Sir, that is why we wish to speak with you. The events of the last few days have changed everything. You and your organization have decades of experience in exposing frauds and discrediting psychics. You probably have more practical experience in this than anywhere else. My government, and quite a few others I believe, need to exploit that experience. We believe that buried amongst all the frauds and imposters there may be a few who really can talk to the dead. If there are such people, we need to speak with them very badly. We want you and your organization to find them for us. Mr. Randi, I do not exaggerate when I say that the whole future of the human race may depend upon us finding such people.

Randi looked at the woman sitting before him. “In that case, how can I refuse?”

National Command Post, Washington D.C.

“Congratulations Prime Minister. And yes, we gladly accept your offer of cooperation in analyzing the body your submarine is towing in. We have heard from the Russians, they also have samples they are prepared to share with us. The more information we have the better, there appears to be significant differences between these recent kills and the ones shot down by our pilots. By the way, Gordon, are your legal people giving you trouble? Ours are claiming all sorts of strange things. Their latest one is that these are peace emissaries and we’re committing war crimes by killing them.

“We have had some such troubles yes. I suggest, Mister President, that you tell your people what I told mine. In view of the circumstances, Britannia waives the rules.”

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: Armageddon
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:47 am 
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Cabinet Conference Room, White House, Washington D.C.

“Condi, could you summarize the international situation at this point?”

“Mister President. So far, more than two dozen of these invaders, Baldricks the Brits call them, have been killed around the world. The latest was off Tokyo where a monster similar to the one killed by HMS Astute came ashore. It was engaged by the Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces and destroyed. According to the Japanese Ambassador, all that time spent shooting at Godzilla finally paid off.” A laugh ran around the room, partly a release of nervous tension but mostly in appreciation of the unexpected sense of humor shown by Ambassador Nishamura. “Most of the Far Eastern countries are coming on board pretty quickly. China, of course, has taken an early stand. The People’s Liberation Army, Army Air Force and Army Navy have all gone to full alert. Europe’s following the same approach, they’re all shooting at any Baldricks that appear on their territory.

“On the debit side, South America and Southern Europe appear to be in shock still. Christianity was deeply rooted there and The Message struck them very hard. The idea that they’ve been systematically deceived by the very being they worshipped has left them adrift.” Secretary Rice paused for a moment. Coming from a religious background herself, she could empathize with the degree of bewilderment that was paralyzing so many governments around the world. “The Middle East is a mixed bag. We’d expected the area to be virtually depopulated; after all the word Islam means submission to the will of god and we assumed that the populations there would just lie down and die according to demand. Well, that hasn’t happened, not universally at any rate. It’s hard to work out exactly what is going on but it seems as if, with radical Islam being discredited by The Message, the alternative philosophy of assertive Arab nationalism is returning. The largely socialist Arab nationalist movements have been eclipsed by the Jihadists in recent years but now, they’re coming back and coming back strong. Of course, the Sunnis are blaming the Shia and the Shia are blaming the Sunnis for The Message and they both blame us. Business as usual there. Equally predictably, the Israelis have gone to work with a vengeance. Apparently one of the Russian Baldricks appeared there, homing in on Jerusalem and the Israeli Defense Forces shot it to pieces. According to the Israeli Ambassador, 120mm shells are much more effective than sounding trumpets. They’ve sent word by the way, don’t use armor piercing shot to take the Baldricks down. Just whips straight through them. HEAT, high explosive and canister all work much better.”

“You like the term Baldrick then Condi?” Department of Energy Secretary Bodman seemed to favor the expression as well.

“I do Sammy, it has a nice, contemptuous ring to it. But, much more importantly I think it is very important to distinguish between the mythological demon and the creatures we face in reality. There is little doubt that the monsters we face today are the source of the myths we have all read about but I believe we must make the difference between the two very clear. There is nothing ghostly or ethereal about the Baldricks, they are very solid reality. As to what their powers are, that we must find out.”

“On that note, we need some scientific input. Thank you Condi. I have asked the Department of Defense to coordinate the scientific research into these Baldricks. Secretary Gates has resigned from his position as head of Defense, I have appointed, subject to confirmation by the Senate, Senator John Warner to be the new SecDef. John?”

“Thank you Mister President. At the moment we know very little about these creatures. Factually, we have identified three separate types which have very different characteristics.

“The first are the flying Baldricks we shot down off California. They’re the same ones that were whacked in Singapore and Bangkok. Working on camera gun footage from the F-18s, we can size them at around 30 feet long from tip of horns to root of tail with a wingspan of around 60 feet.” Warner gestured and a picture was projected onto the screen at the end of the Cabinet Room. “As you can see, they look rather like the traditional depiction of a demon or a cartoon devil. Horns, tail pointed beard. Two arms, two legs, two wings. This raises an interesting point, the combination of weight and musculature mean these things can’t possibly fly.”

“Just like a bumblebee?” Education Secretary Margaret Spellings tossed the quip in, one that gained her a reproachful glance from the President.

“In a way yes. You see, the musculature of the back doesn’t give any great strength to the wings, it can’t the bone structure won’t support it. The only way this thing can fly is if it weighs virtually nothing so its wings provide propulsion and lift, not steerage. The only way we can think of doing that is if the body contains a lot of very light gas, probably hydrogen. We think that is why they burned so fiercely when they were hit. The pilots reported that the creature’s blood set them on fire, we can only think that there’s some sort of body process in there where very acid blood reacts with a mineral to give off the hydrogen needed. That would allow the Baldrick to breath fire as well. There are things about these flying Baldricks that are reminiscent of humans, its almost as if they were a parallel evolutionary path from a common ancestor somewhere.

“The second class we’ve run into are the aquatic ones. According to Astute, the one they killed was more than a hundred feet long, about 20 feet in diameter and has flipper-like legs, six of them. They did careful pH testing on the water as they closed on the corpse and detected no sign of acidity. Also, note, despite being hit by two torpedoes, it didn’t burn. So, our working hypothesis is that this one doesn’t have acid blood. The one that came ashore near Tokyo walked on its flipper-legs, all six of them. Apparently it fought by shooting jets of water at things. Anyway, the JMSDF-GF will be sending over information as it develops. One thing they have said, apparently the flesh doesn’t make good Sushi. I’m not sure what worries me most about that, the fact that doesn’t make good Sushi or that somebody tried it. Either way, at the moment we’ll know more about the Aquatic ones than the others soon.

“The third group are the land ones. These have just started to appear. According to the Russians, they’re about thirty feet tall. They’re tough, they walk on their hind legs using their forearms to strike blows. They have vestigial wings only. No acid blood again. The few that appeared have been killed so quickly we have no idea whether they breath fire or what.”

“We’re going to need names for all these types. Baldrick’s good enough for a generic name, I agree with Condi, we have to distinguish between the mythology we’ve all read and the reality we have to fight.” President Bush leaned back in his seat, rubbing his eyes. “Does it seem to anybody that these Baldricks are getting tougher.”

“Certainly Sir.” Senator Warner tapped the pictures of the three types of demons. “There’s a definite progression here. There’s another thing, we have people going through ancient records, demonologies, grimoires that sort of stuff. Now, the information in there is undoubtedly corrupted and distorted but we’re hoping it gives us some form of clue as to what we can expect. One thing we have noted. You’ll note that these Baldricks haven’t come in blasting. We would, under the same circumstances, we’d be advancing behind a wall of missiles, tactical air and artillery fire. These just cruised straight into our defenses and died on them.

“We think we may have discovered the reason for this. One of our early readings found a mention of demonic heralds who were supposed to carry the word of their master to his new subjects. Apparently they would just appear in a population center, announce that all within were now subjects of their master and carry them off to hell. As far as we can see, nobody ever resisted. There’s even a suggestion that, by some sort of celestial Geneva Convention, these heralds are immune from attack.”

Bush frowned. “Attorney General Mukasey, has the United States ever signed an agreement to that effect.”

“No Sir, we have not.”

“Good, doesn’t apply to us then. Tell everybody to keep shooting. A question John, does ‘immune from attack’ mean that they can’t be shot at or that they are immune to weapons fire?”

“Our guess at this time Sir is that the second lead to the former. People found their bows and arrows and so on didn’t work against them so they rationalized it by creating the former. Of course, we could be wrong on that. But the key point is, if these are the heralds referred to in the Grimoire, the real armies of hell are still to get here. We have to stack our defenses ready.”

“I agree, Henry.” Treasury Secretary Paulson started. “Henry, we need supplementals, huge ones. This is a war, we have to fund it as such. We’re going to be spending serious money. Organize it. Elaine, Carlos, get to work shifting our industry to a war footing, get the missile factories and tank lines on triple shifts. Tell Boeing we’ll take every F-22 they can build, cost-plus basis. I believe the B-2 jigs and tooling are still in storage, if they are, get the Spirit back into production. Same with the Bone. What we can’t build, we’ll buy from abroad.

“Oh and John. Defense is fine but nobody ever won a war by defending. We have to go onto the offensive and attack. Find out how.”

Throne Room, Infernal Palace of Dis, Hell.

“They have done what?” The infernal voice boomed across the hall, making the thick red vapor boil and eddy as the banners of long-forgotten kingdoms twisted and furled in the smog.

“Your Eminence, I cower at your feet.

“I know. Do it some more. Then tell me what you meant.”

Abigor cringed on the ground at Satan’s feet, his tongue flicking over the great hooked claws. “Sire, forgive me”

“No. But continue.”

“Sire, they killed your heralds.”

“My gentlemen!” The scream of anger made the very foundations of hell shake. Across the fields of burning rock where the souls of the dead were forever held in torment, the devils looked up from their work and shuddered in fear. “They killed my gentlemen. It is laid down by our immortal will that the heralds shall be forever immune from attack.”

“Sire.” Abigor whimpered and abased himself still further. If he had been human he would have lost control of his bowels several minutes ago. “We believe that one of the heralds may have lived long enough to say that.”

“And what did those insignificant humans say to that? Do they cry for my forgiveness? Not that they’ll get it.”

“No Sire. It is reported they replied ‘screw you and the horse you rode in on’. We don’t quite understand that Sire.”

“Then they must learn obedience. I blame this all on Yahweh. He was supposed to have softened this lot up, got them to believe anything and obey everything. I thought he had too. Abigor, you will rectify this. You command 60 of the 6,666 legions of Hell. You will take them and wipe these upstarts out.”

“Sire, may I beg your indulgence for one moment of your time.”


“But Sire, the heralds are dead and we do not know how or why. The impossible, the impermissible, the unforgivable has been done and we know nothing of this. Sire, we should find out before we invade, then we can inflict yet greater suffering and despair upon them.”

“Greater suffering and despair, I like the sound of that. What do you propose?”

“Sire, I suggest that I ask Deumos send the comeliest and most seductive of her Succubi to Washington, capital of the greatest nation on Earth. There is one there, peculiarly susceptible to her charms who might be seduced into telling us what we need to know. Think, Sire, of his grief when he learns his lusts have betrayed all humanity.”

Macdonald’s Restaurant, just off Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.

Former President William Jefferson Clinton jogged up to the restaurant and headed through the doors, his Secret Service detail following behind. He stopped to mop his forehead, his sides heaving with the exercise. He carefully did not look at the two Secret Service agents, he guessed that they were unmoved by his evening routine. In fact, he doubted if they were even breathing heavily. Fortunately, the place was empty, or nearly so. It pretty much always was this late at night.

“Can I help you Sir?” The young Latina girl behind the counter was too tired to recognize the former President.

“I’ll have a double quarter-pounder with extra cheese, two super-size portions of fries, oh and a small diet soda please.”

“Coming right up Sir.” The girl got her order from the pass and gave it to Clinton. He paid his bill and went to a table.

“Hi Sir, mind if a girl sits with you? Don’t want to be on my own this late at night.” Clinton glanced up. The woman waiting politely by his table had a mane of jet-black hair that fell in curls half way down her back. Great, luminous black eyes and a mouth that promised everything imaginable without saying a word. “I’m Sheba, please I won’t bother you, you’re such a big, strong man. I’m sure I’ll be safe with you.”

A few feet away, the two Secret Service agents registered the scene with horror. How in hell had she slipped in there? It was appalling, a total breech of security, one which the senior agent had to do something about.

“Hey Lady get away from here. Don’t you know who….” Sheba looked at him her eyes pleading for understanding. “Well, alright I suppose it’ll be OK.”

Clinton finished his snack, leaving the garbage to be thrown away by one of the Secret Service men. As he left the restaurant, the girl was trotting along beside him. Clinton kept throwing calculating glances at her, she was, perhaps, a little on the heavy side but that mouth was so enticing.

“This is so wonderful, what is it?” Sheba was stroking the great black wheeled vehicle that stood on the road.

“A Chevvy Suburban. It belongs to my bodyguards.” Clinton threw another calculating glance at Sheba. “Would you like to see inside.”

“Ohhh, yes please.” Sheba peered in, the front seat was like any other automobile, controls, a steering wheel, pedals on the floor. “How many horses does it take.”

“Three hundred and thirty five.” Sheba blinked trying to imagine the sight.

“The front’s standard, all the good stuff is in the back.” He turned to his Secret Service men. “Open up the back please?”

“But Sir..”

“Open it up please.” Clinton’s voice was insistent. The agent sighed and did as he was told. A lot of the equipment in the back was classified. “Isn’t that one of the new automatic shotguns?”

Clinton took the nod for an answer and reached in, picking the heavy weapon up. With slickness born of long practice, he spun around, racking the mechanism as he did. Then, with the barrel less than a foot from Sheba’s stomach, he pulled the trigger.

The long roaring burst drowned out her scream and the blasts of buckshot hurled her backwards across the sidewalk, rolling her over as she started to fall apart. The Secret Servicemen’s faces were expressions of utter horror at the scene, horror that was replaced by revulsion as the figure sprawled on the ground began to change, its flesh going black, horns growing from its head, a tail sprouting from under the absurdly-short skirt. Their reactions were, under the circumstances commendable. They stopped their dive for Clinton in mid-lunge, spun, drew their SIG-Sauer P-229s and each emptied all twelve rounds of .357SIG into the writhing demon. Clinton had dropped the empty magazine of his shotgun, loaded another and a second roar finished the job. The demon was dead, its bright yellow blood spreading across the sidewalk.

“It was a demon.”

“Hey, Bill’s killed a demon.”

The whispers from the crowd grew as they recovered from the shock of the violent confrontation. One man, obviously the worse for drink, staggered up and smacked Clinton on the back. “Well done Bill. Have a drink.” Clinton grabbed the bottle in its brown paper bag and took a swig.

The senior of the secret servicemen was speaking on the radio. “Stay away from the body please, we don’t know what we’re dealing with here.” Then he turned to Clinton. “Well done sir, but, how did you know?”

Clinton grinned, the easy, friendly grin that won him election after election. “I’ve been married to Hilary for thirty years. Believe me, after going through that, I can recognize a fiend from hell.”

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: Armageddon
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:54 am 
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Oval Office, White House, Washington D.C.

“Sir, newsflash just in, Former President Clinton has just killed a baldrick at the McDonalds just down the road.”

“Damn, that will cost us at least one more seat in the House.” President Bush looked pensive for a moment. “I don’t suppose we could get my pappy to whack one?”

His public relations advisor shrugged, if one turned up in the right place it could be arranged, probably. But, that was asking too much. “No Sir, not that we can rely on anyway.”

Bush’s mouth twisted, a pity to be disappointed so late in the evening. “How did it happen anyway? How did Bill, I suppose we’ll have to call him Wild Bill now, manage it? And what were the Secret Service up to?”

“The details are very brief, Sir, apparently he just blasted the baldrick with an automatic shotgun. Doctor Surlethe, the National Science Advisor is waiting outside, perhaps he can give you some more details.”

A sigh wafted gently across the room, President Bush really didn’t like being briefed by scientists. They tended to use such long words. Like any good politician, Bush knew that the time taken to say a four-syllable word was greater than the attention span of the audience. “Trot him in.”

Bush leaned forward in his seat, giving the impression of studiously examining the papers on the Presidential desk. “Doctor Surlethe, good to see you. A great achievement by the former President, but one that raises a few questions I think?”

“Indeed so sir. Mr. Clinton was very lucky that the baldrick in question was a new type, one that apparently has some unnerving capabilities. In accordance with your instructions, we’ve started naming the baldrick types we encounter based on the Grimoires we have accessed. For example, the we’ve designated the flying baldricks as harpies, the aquatic ones as krakens and the land-based one as behemoths. The one killed by Mr. Clinton was human sized and gave every appearance of being a human female, a very seductive one. It changed appearance into what we assume was its real form only when blasted with several dozen rounds of double-ought buckshot and automatic pistol fire.”

“Wait a minute, this thing was able to simulate people’s appearance? It’s a shape shifter? That means it could be anybody, you, me, anybody could be killed and replaced by one of those things.”

“Yes Sir, although things may not be quite that bad. The other thing is that this baldrick, we’re going to call this type a succubus, just materialized by the former President’s table and started to speak to him. The Secret Service men thought they’d fouled up badly but nobody saw that thing before it was standing next to the former President and speaking. It’s as if it simply materialized there.”

“That’s appalling. It means nobody is safe, one could materialize here and now.”

“Well, that all depends Mister President. There are pretty much two possibilities. The first is that the succubus really is a shape-shifter and can teleport around. If that is the case, then we can take the entire science section of the Library of Congress and toss it on to the landfill. Everything we thought about the physical world is wrong. However, the other possibility is much more probable and something we can handle.” Doctor Surlethe paused for a second. This was going to be the tricky bit. “This option is that the succubus doesn’t change shape or teleport, it simply makes us think it looks the way it does.”

“How can it do that?” Here comes the long words Bush thought to himself.

“Mister President, are you familiar with the concept of quantum entanglement.”

Knew it Bush thought. Four syllables at least. “I’ve heard the term.”
That means no. Doctor Surlethe said ruefully to himself. Oh well, here we go. “Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon in which two or more objects influence each other at a quantum level even though the individual objects may be spatially separated. This leads to correlations between observable physical properties of the systems. For example, measurements performed on one system seem to be instantaneously influencing other systems entangled with it.”

Surlethe looked at the President, he wasn’t sure but Bush’s eyes seemed to be rotating in different directions. “What this means is that one quantum state can duplicate itself, transit information on itself if you like, to another without a direct contact. This has been experimentally demonstrated within a laboratory and we are just beginning to appreciate the implications of the phenomena. Now, the workings of the brain and nerves all use various kinds of energy fields, you’ve heard of brainwave measurement and things like that. We’ve been doing that for years. Now, theoretically, it’s possible that the succubus can entangle its energy field with those around it so that it transmits information to them, in effect it duplicates itself in them. So, the succubus holds a mental image of itself in its mind and uses this ability to entangle the sense transmissions in those around it so it duplicates that image in them. In short, all those around the succubus see it the way the succubus wants them to see it. It doesn’t change shape, it simply changes the way people see its shape.”

“And the teleport thing.”

“Easy, the succubus simply transmits an image of itself that isn’t there. It isn’t invisible, it simply tells the senses in its victim that it isn’t present. Now, if this is correct, we should be able to detect that energy field, there isn’t a part of the electromagnetic spectrum we can’t detect, and measure, and work out a way to stop it. Only, we’ll need a live succubus for that and we haven’t got one. Until we get one, we won’t know which explanation is correct.”

“We don’t need a succubus Doctor, we’ve got the evidence we need.” Bush grinned to himself. Just because he didn’t like using four-syllable words and usually mispronounced them when he did, didn’t mean he couldn’t understand them.

“We have Mister President?”

“This is Washington Doctor. The city with one of the highest crime rates in America. Knocking off fast-food restaurants and shooting the staff is a daily event. Or was, until the places started installing video surveillance cameras. Now, if I follow your explanation properly, the entanglement thing you talk about works on the energy fields in the brain. Surveillance cameras don’t have brains. The film should show us what is really there, not what it wants us to think is there. So, lets get that film.”

It took just under an hour. The manager of the 19th Street McDonalds had the interesting experience of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III arriving to collect his video surveillance tapes personally. Director Mueller carried the tapes went back to the White House where they were set up in the projection office just off the Conference Room. By the striking of the hour, the audience had assembled and the tapes were run.

“Right, here we are, we can see the former President and his two Secret Service men entering the restaurant …… will you look at that!” Mueller’s voice was incredulous. A jet black figure, human-sized but with a set of rounded stub horns and a long pointed tail entered through the open doors of the restaurant, only a foot or so behind the rear Secret Service man. By the time the doors had closed, it was inside. “He’s getting his food, going to the table.” The succubus had walked less than a couple of feet in front of the Secret Service agents, both had looked directly at it, but neither of them had seen it. The succubus spoke with Clinton while he ate, then the two left together. A few seconds after they left, there were the brilliant flashes of gunfire outside.

“There we are, Doctor Surlethe, it doesn’t teleport and it doesn’t shift shape. It just makes us think it does, so you can start to look for your energy field, right?”

“Yes Sir.”
Bush relaxed in his seat, running the implications of the scene in his mind. “Doctor Surlethe, your Quantum Entanglement theory was very interesting and, as far as I can make out, plausible. Don’t concentrate on it to the exclusion of other theories though. I’ve seen that happen all too often.

“Gentlemen, we’ve proved something else today. We can rely on our optical sensors even if we can’t rely on our own eyes and ears. That’s worth spreading to the troops, to everybody in fact. I doubt that this succubus thing that Bill killed so emphatically will be the only one that we run into, there will be more and we need to be on our guard against them. Closed-circuit television surveillance, remote surveillance so that the operator isn’t within the zone of control of these things, is essential. By Executive Order, I’m making the installation of such equipment a tax-deductible expense as from now. See that gets out as fast as possible.”

James Randi Educational Foundation, Florida, USA

James Randi rubbed his eyes. The last few days had been tiresome in the extreme, ever since the announcement that all mediums were being tested so that their abilities, if any, could be used in the war effort went out, the Foundation had been besieged by applicants. The big names, of course, had refused to show their faces. They were scared spitless of The Amazing Randi and with good reason. He knew the tricks they used and how to expose them, submitting to tests by him would destroy their livelihood. That reasoning hadn’t helped them, they had found themselves being picked up by the FBI, bundled into the back of a Chevvy Suburban and brought down to the Foundation. A few hours later, they had been on their way back, their fraudulent claims exposed and discredited.

“Not one. Not one genuine medium in the whole lot. There was a time when that would have delighted me but not now. We know there’s something out there but we can’t get at it. It was easier being an atheist, now I don’t know what to believe. Guess that makes me agnostic.”

“No, James. I know that the idea an agnostic lies between the extremes of atheism and religious fanaticism but it does not. It is a separate line of thought. An atheist denies the existence of any sort of god, the theist affirms it. An agnostic believes that the existence or non-existence of a god can never be proven, the Gnostic believes that the existence or non-existence of a god is subject to rational proof. If I understand your position correctly, you were a Gnostic Atheist. You denied the existence of a god and thought you could prove that your denial was correct.”

“And I was wrong, General.”

“Why James? We know now that there is life after death. That is undeniable. We know that the afterlife is ruled by beings. Why do you believe those beings are gods? We have already proved we can kill their servants with almost absurd ease. Why cannot we kill them as well? They’re probably more trouble than they are worth anyway.”

“We don’t like our gods, so we kill them. Now that’s a true soldier talking.”

“No James, it is not. A soldier fights for those who cannot fight for themselves. Today we fight for all those who have died, who are being held in horrid slavery. We fight for all humanity, past, present and future. You are part of that fight, don’t forget it. In this war, you are as much a soldier as I.”

“General, while we are speaking on this subject, may I ask something? How does The Message affect you and your people? Few or you are Christian.”

“On one level James, The Message does not concern us. I am a Buddhist, so are more than 90 percent of my people. The Lord Buddha was not a god, he was a man. A very wise man who laid down rules for living one’s life as well as possible on an imperfect earth. Good rules that when applied mean one lives a good life. To us, being a Buddhist simply means following those teachings, I could give you a long lecture on what that means but here is neither the time nor the place. When we meditate we simply ponder the teachings of the Lord Buddha and try to seek enlightenment on how they can solve our problems. When we pray to him, we simply are asking him what he would do under these circumstances. Any question of gods or devils is quite irrelevant to that center core belief. In my country, we are animists, we believe that everything has a spirit that lives in it, a spirit we can talk to and who will talk back to us. So The Message didn’t affect us much. On another level, what does affect us is the assertion that all humans go to eternal punishment no matter what they believe. The Message made no distinction between the religions or stated that one would be exempt while another was condemned. All humans are subject to the same fate. So we fight. That’s why governments pay us the big bucks.”

“Which brings us back to where we started. We’ve been pulling in every psychic, every medium, every fortune teller we can find. When we’ve exhausted this country’s supply, we’ll start abroad. Yet, for all our efforts we have not come up with one single person who can actually speak to the dead. What if there are none? What if the dead are indeed beyond contact?”

The General finished her whisky and refilled her glass. “Perhaps we are looking in the wrong place. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that so-called mediums cannot speak to the dead but that those who can speak to the dead are not mediums. After all, let us suppose that one can communicate with the dead. What will we learn? That the dead are subject to an eternity of hideous torture, without hope of end or reprieve. That the same fate awaits us all. Now, the grieving family of a dead person turns up on our doorstep. They want reassurance, they want to know that their beloved husband, or wife, parents or children have gone to the better place promised, that they are happy in their afterlife. Would you tell them the truth? That a terrible fate has fallen on them and that the same awaits their relatives?”

Randi shook his head. Such cruelty would be inconceivable. Thinking about it, The Message itself was an act of diabolical cruelty, one that only a truly foul mind could conceive. When Satan had proclaimed his dominion over the Earth and proclaimed that all its souls belonged to him, regardless of virtue or cause, he had fully lived up to his reputation. “So where do we look?”

The General sipped her whisky, savoring its smoky taste. “Imagine yourself as someone who can speak to the damned dead, know their pain and anguish, feel their agony, know that the same fate awaits you and that there is no hope, that the fate ahead is what inevitably awaits you. What would you do?”

Randi thought for a second. “I think I would go mad.”

The General looked over the rim of her glass. “Quite. So shouldn’t we start looking amongst the mad? Looking at those who hear voices, voices whose messages are so dreadful that they have driven the listener insane? All through history there have been those who have claimed they have heard voices that drove them to acts of rage or despair. They’ve always been treated as though they were insane but suppose they were not? Suppose they really did hear voices, either accidentally or deliberately. In ancient times, such people were described as possessed but in our arrogance we assumed otherwise. We assumed that they were sick, that they had a mental defect that we could treat. Perhaps they were not, perhaps they really were possessed by the demons who now assail us. That they were victims of the hideous game we are now playing to its final act.”

“So we should start looking amongst the mentally ill. That will be a long job.”

“It will indeed, James, but it is one we can move fast on. We are looking for specific kinds of people, those who hear voices that drive them insane. I think computers can help with this, we need to have the records searched so that we can find the most promising cases. Then we can bring them here.”

Office of the National Science Advisor, Washington D.C.

“Call for you, Doctor Surlethe. From Florida.”

“Thank you, put it through.” Surlethe waited for a moment. “Surlethe here.”

“Doctor, this is the James Randi Educational Foundation.” Surlethe recognized the contralto voice, one that had a threatening growl underneath it. A well-fed tiger that was eying a small animal with the thought that it had just a little room left in its stomach.

“Ah yes General. How is the research going down there?”

“We’ve hit a dead end, our initial concept was wrong so we’re changing tack. We’re writing off the known mediums etc as source material, its pretty obvious they’re all frauds and confidence tricksters. Instead, we’re going to start looking at people who claim to hear voices in their heads and are under treatment for such ‘delusions’.”

“So you and The Amazing Randi think that some of them really do hear voices.” Surlethe’s voice was bitter. Scientists had never forgiven Randi for exposing tricksters whose acts had fooled ‘scientific’ testing. Randi had pointed out that the skills needed to expose a fraud were different from those needed to conduct an experiment. It hadn’t helped, if anything it had made things worse.

“We do. What we need you to do is to get as much information on such cases to us as possible so we can start working through them. Also, I read the note about the search for energy fields? Can you get some instrumentation down here pretty quick, if we do start finding what we’re looking for, we should be able to measure what it is they’re hearing.”

“I’ll get the equipment sent down, along with some experts to install it. Thank you General, and good luck.”

Surlethe leaned back in his seat. A new front had been opened against the forces that were threatening humanity. While the armed forces were picking off the baldricks who appeared in earth, science and reason were striking at the very heart of their power. For the first time since The Message, Surlethe felt good.

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: Armageddon
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:56 am 
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Martial Field of Dysprosium, Hell.

His troops were formed up on the field, awaiting his inspection. 60 legions, each with 6,666 demons, a total force of over 400,000 demons if Abigor’s own command staff were included. By far the largest force that Hell had ever sent to another world yet it was only a tiny fraction of the army that Hell could deploy if it wished. There were 6,666 legions in hell, a total of 44,500,000 demons under arms, a mighty host that had never in its history been deployed against a single foe. There had never been a single foe whose ability had demanded that level of force. Always, those lower down the scale of existence had cowered in fear when the demons had arrived, genuflecting at the appearance of the creatures from a greater dimension. Mostly, the armies of Hell had never been needed, the Heralds had been terrifying enough to put their victims into a state of catatonic terror.

Only, not this time. This time the creatures from the lower dimensions had the temerity to fight back, even more than that, they had killed the Heralds. That had disturbed Abigor more than he let on. If the Heralds could be killed, what did that mean for the demons in his ranks? The Heralds were deliberately created to be awe-inspiring, terrifying by virtue of their size and apparent invulnerability, yet the humans below had fought back and killed them. Individually, the demons in the ranks of his legions were much less formidable than the great Heralds. They were formidable enough, that was true, their tough hides were impervious to arrows and the blows of swords yet would that be enough? What did the humans have that could kill so effectively?

There was another point that worried Abigor. The Heralds had been killed, what had happened to them? The rulers of Hell knew what happened to those on the lower dimensions, their creation and life built up a form of energy that, when they died, boosted them over the threshold and translated them to the next level of dimension. Unfortunately for them, the energy needed to surge the occupants of this reality level was much greater. That’s why Hell existed, the second deaths of the unfortunates from realities below were prolonged as much as possible, by millennia or longer, nobody knew the limit yet, so that the energy released by their suffering would boost the rulers of Hell up to their afterlife. The creatures from below suffered in their afterlife to provide the creatures of this level with theirs. But suppose the beings who lived in the reality above this one adopted the same philosophy. Was there a super-Hell that awaited Abigor and his kind?

The infantry in his legions were crashing the butts of their tridents against the ground as Abigor rode past on his beast. 56 of his 60 legions were his infantry, Abigor’s host was one of the less mobile of its kind, he had only three mounted legions and one flying legion. The information he had was that the humans lived mostly in cities, that meant the war would be one of sieges, the cities fighting from behind their defensive walls in a series of last stands. That would put a premium on his infantry, his mounted and flying legions would only be of use in isolating each city before the infantry besieged and destroyed it. It had been done before, Abigor knew that human myths were full of stories of cities that had been besieged by hordes of monstrous, inhuman foes. Now they would find out where those myths had come from.

The horns sounded, their wailing drowning out the crashing cadence of the trident staffs. The legions did a right-face, towards a black dot that had suddenly appeared against the roiling red smoke of the sky. The dot expanded, opening a gate into the lower dimension that had dared to defy the will of higher beings. This was the critical stage, the energy gradient ran steeply from the lower dimensions to the higher, it was relatively easy for the higher dimension beings to gain access to the lower, much harder for the lower dimensions to ascend. Only opening a portal could ensure easy access between the dimensions. Yet that same energy gradient meant that once a portal between the levels was opened, it would be very hard to close. Size also was a factor and this was the largest portal that had ever been created. Just how hard would it be to close again? Abigor had an uneasy feeling that nobody had thought to ask that question.

The portal reached its full extent and the horns wailed again. Abigor lead his host forward, into the black circle of the portal and from it into the brilliant yellow light and the clear blue skies of Earth.

Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, Task Force Iron, Multi-National Force Iraq

“Have we got the Global Hawk Feed set up?” Major General Wilkens snapped the order out. The situation was breaking loose at last and he didn’t want to fall behind the loop.

“Sir, yes Sir. Direct feed to us, to Washington and to Moscow.” The latter part was new, one of the hurried preparations that had been made over the last two weeks. There had been a frantic effort to link up the world’s military headquarters so that the fight, if it started, when it started, would be properly coordinated. Task Force Iron also had a direct download from Russian satellites and other recon capabilities but it was the RQ-4B Global Hawks that were the key asset. Nobody knew where the attack would come, on paper it could be anywhere but Iraq had been a leading bet. The association of old legends and the fertile triangle of the Tigris-Euphrates was too powerful to ignore.

High above the desert, the Global Hawk turned lazily, its long wings biting at the thin air. Its stabilized cameras focused on a strange sight in the desert of Western Iraq, a black oval that had suddenly appeared in the stony wastes, one that spread even though it had no apparent substance. It wasn’t even a shadow, it was more of an absence of anything. The cameras zoomed in on the strange spreading stain that still grew beneath it.

“Well, that looks like it.” Brigadier General Boothe looked at the image with horrified fascination. If the guesses were right he was looking at something humanity had discussed, described and occasionally cursed but never actually seen, the mouth of Hell itself. The black shadow had stopped spreading and seemed to be holding its breath. “Is that thing flat on the ground or perpendicular to it?”

“Can’t tell.” Wilkens spoke quietly, the tension in the room seeming to dull voices. “I think it’s a different dimension entirely, we’re not seeing it, we’re seeing its shadow. I don’t think it has dimensions or proportions as we understand them.”

Something stirred in the shadow and a line of figures started to appear. “Zoom in on that.” The order came from the commander of the UAV detachment that was operating the Global Hawk. The image enlarged in a series of jerks as the operator clicked up through the zoom scales. The group of figures resolved, one huge figure surrounded by a group of others. Then, another smaller group appeared out of the shadow, followed by lines of others.

“What do you make of that?” Wilkens wanted other opinions, other eyes looking at this.

“First group, the command group. Now. We’ve got combat troops appearing.” The analyst looked quickly at the emerging lines. “They’re coming out in a parade formation. If we only had the assets within range.”

“The alerts gone off to the fly-boys and the squids. We’ll have jets here soon enough. And we’ve got the friends with their toy on scene.”

On the screen the figures had continued to pour out of the portal, forming up into a huge square on the desert. The UAV operator dialed his cameras in again. “OK, that formation seems to be complete. I make it 81 ranks, each of 81 baldricks. They’re subdivided into 9 groups of 9 ranks with a command section between each. I guess that gives us 6,666 down there.”

“Appropriate number. About a brigade-sized formation then? And that would make the smaller sub-divisions battalions.” There were nods around the room, it seemed fair enough, 9 ranks of 81 meant 729 demons in a battalion. This was translating raw numbers into a structure that could easily be understood – and to the people in this room, what could be understood could be destroyed. Once structure, form and numbers were evaluated and put into context, destruction was a matter of planning. “Each line is a company with nine nine-baldrick platoons?” More nods of agreement

“If that’s it, this is something we can cope with.” Boothe spoke as if he was trying to convince himself. He needn’t have bothered, the situation was changing even while he spoke.

“More coming out Sirs.” On the television screen, a second square was forming beside the first, the stream of black figures emerging from the Hellmouth coalescing into a second square to the right of the first. Even as it was completed, a third square started forming to the left of the first. Still the figures poured out, new squares forming until the line had seven in all.

“Assuming the squares are all identical, there’s almost 47,000 of them down there. The baldricks aren’t playing games are they?”

Wilkens shook his head. Even as he did so, the line of seven squares started to move forward and another wave of black figures poured out, forming into squares exactly as their predecessors had done. The command center was utterly silent as the imagery poured in from the cameras on the Global Hawk. The second line of squares was finished, moved forward and a third row started, then a fourth. By the time the figures ceased to pour out, there were eight rows in all, 56 of the black squares spread out on the Iraqi sand.

“Rows are divisions, the whole thing’s a Corps.” More nods of agreement, faced with the huge numbers assembling on the screens in front of them, naming units seemed trivial yet it was utterly important if the enemy was to be understood. “Span of command is very large. Seems to run in nines.”

“Probably personal command, we’re going to be looking at a slowly-reacting army here. It’s very low-geared. Big but ponderous. Suits us just fine.” More nods around the room. The United States Army was built to fight large, ponderous opponents. It was beginning to look like it had finally found one.

“What are those?” More figures were pouring out, larger ones. The UAV operator played with his camera controls, zooming in on the new arrivals. They were baldricks still but sitting on a beast, one that looked vaguely like a rhinoceros with a great horn on its nose, but with a scorpion’s tail arched high over its back and claws like a lobster.

“I’d guess those are the cavalry. We don’t know how fast those things can move, mark them down as priority targets.”

“More coming.” The figures pouring out of the Hellmouth were flying, winged creatures, like the harpies show down by the squids a couple of weeks earlier but smaller. They landed and formed a last square. Seconds then minutes crept by but no more baldricks joined the awesome parade in front of the Hellmouth. The Global Hawk wasn’t equipped to pick up sound but nobody watching was in any doubt that the desert was alive with the sounds of drumming and the hammering of feet.

Hellmouth, East of Ar Rutbah, Iraqi Desert
Unnoticed in the noise and confusion, a small winged structure danced in the dust and glare. It was an odd little thing by anybody’s standards, a lumpy fuselage with two longish wings, a tripod tail unit and a propeller was at the rear. Its name was an MQ-1B Predator.

The Predator didn’t have markings which was hardly surprising, it’s operators, far back at Task Force Iron’s command center weren’t from the U.S. armed forces, they were Central Intelligence Agency. For almost five years, the CIA had been operating a clandestine force of Predators, using them for covert assassinations of terrorist leaders and others considered undesirable. That role had abruptly ended with The Message, those who had taken the “submission to the will” bit seriously had died, the rest had thrown their lot in with the rest of humanity. Now, the U.S. Army and CIA had the strange but not unfamiliar experience of working with people who only a few days before had been their blood-enemies.

The change had meant the Predators had a new job, one which was of absolutely vital importance. It was essential to find out if human weapons, human technology could be sent into Hell and return. More importantly, were those weapons as destructive there as they were proving on Earth. If the answer was yes, then humanity had a means of striking back at its foe, if not, then they would forever be condemned to an ultimately futile defense. The Predators were the vanguard of this exploration, the information they gained within the next few minutes would mark the start of the investigation. It was, quite literally, reconnaissance by fire. It’s orders received, the MQ-1B obediently turned around and headed for the shadowy ellipse that marked the Hellmouth.

Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, Task Force Iron, Multi-National Force Iraq

Back in the command center, the CIA operative held his breath as the little drone approached the disk and became swallowed in it. Then, the whole section erupted into wild cheers for on the monitor screen, images had emerged. Pictures of a vast plain, bare rock under a swirling red-orange sky, dust clouds sweeping backwards and forwards over the desolate scene. The image brightened and sharpened as the computer-controlled adaptive optics compensated for the wildly unfamiliar light levels and spectra but the images were there.

The operator manipulated his controls, getting the vision head on the electro-optical pod to pivot around. The pictures swirled, grotesque and unfamiliar but still vaguely recognizable. The imagery was coming back, that had enormous consequences.

“Tell Washington, and everybody else, Phase One is complete. We got the bird in and we’re getting data out. There is something the other side of that gate and we can get at it.” The agent’s voice broke into a chuckle. “No huge letters of fire yet, now we’ll try and change all that.”

He played with the optical head again, looking for something important. He found it, at least it seemed important. Some sort of review stand at a far part of the field. The Predator was closing in on it, the trouble seemed to be that it was hard to judge ranges in the red-clouded murk. A quick flash with the laser rangefinder built into the Predator told him what he needed to know. The target was four thousand yards away, easily within range of the two Hellfire missiles hanging under the Predator’s wings. He locked their homing heads onto the stand and fired them both.

Martial Field of Dysprosium, Hell.

The parade was over, the Army of Abigor had departed into the lower dimension, and the guests who had watched it leave were making their way off the stand. It had been quite an unusual sight, never before had such a force been sent to a lower dimension to enforce the will of those above it. Defiance was unprecedented, such a display had never been required. Now, with the mighty force appearing before them, they would be regretting their failure to submit. The demons who had watched the army leave never saw the two missiles streaking through the red murk towards them, or, if they did, they never realized the significance of what they were seeing.

The explosions destroyed the stand totally, sending fragments of wood and stone flying through the air, ripping into the hides of all around them. Blast seared their skin, flaying flesh from bones, shattering limbs, tearing at bodies. What had just a demonic second before been a decorated review stand was now a pile of shattered wreckage, splattered with the green, yellow, black, red and white body fluids of those who had been standing on it. Those outside the blast area looked on appalled at the catastrophe that had suddenly enveloped the senior guests. The more astute of them started running towards the disaster, hoping to gain status and rewards by being the first to aid the stricken. Above the chaos, still unnoticed by those below, the Predator turned around and flew back towards the Hellmouth.

Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, Task Force Iron, Multi-National Force Iraq

“Phase Two complete! Two solid hits, it’s chaos down there. Wherever it is, whatever it is, our weapons work there. Look at that people, boy have we just kicked an anthill over.” The CIA Agent’s voice was triumphant, the camera on the Predator was showing a boiling mass of confusion where the target had been. He had no idea of who or what he had just killed, if indeed he had killed them, but there was no doubt of the destruction. The reviewing stand had gone, its position marked by a pyre of smoke and flame. There was just one thing to check and that was coming up soon. The Predator approached the Hellmouth and flew through it. It took a second for the optics to readjust but when they did they showed the blue sky and yellow sand of the Iraqi Desert.

“Phase Three complete. UAV recovered.”

“Confirmed, we have a radar paint.” The transponder in the Predator marked the position of the drone as it set off on its long flight back to base. It had done its job better that anybody could have hoped and certainly far better than its manufacturers could have ever contemplated.

The Oval Office, The White House, Washington D.C.

“My fellow Americans.” President Bush paused, then shook his head. “No, my fellow humans, for today we all stand shoulder to shoulder against a threat that promised to engulf us all. Truly, in these desperate days, if we do not hang together, we will all hang separately. Today, there are no Americans, no Russians, no Japanese or Chinese or Australians. We are all humans together and it is to each other that we must look for our survival. We cannot hope for aid or help from others, we stand alone with only each other and the tools of our joint ingenuity to protect us.

“We have learned, beyond any shadow of a doubt that Hell and Heaven both exist but that the doors to the latter are closed to us. If we lose the fight in which we are now engaged, the entire human race faces only a screaming eternity. Hell and Heaven both have, by both word and deed, declared their undying hatred of Mankind united, and as such we return it tenfold. As of this day, we find ourselves embroiled in a war, the war, Armageddon as it was never once dreamed in the worst nightmares of our forefathers, a war not between Heaven and Hell for our own salvation, but between Heaven and Hell and Humanity, a war we must win completely and utterly if we desire the slightest chance of sparing untold generations of future men and women a literal eternity of suffering. We claimed to be fighting in a 'War on Terror', now we find ourselves allied with our former enemies, they are our brothers in a wider struggle, on all of those who would condemn humanity to an eternity of suffering.

“Once, mere weeks ago, I would have prayed to God to have mercy on our souls. Now I, and all others on this Earth, know better; the being many of us once worshipped as a God has stated in no uncertain terms that there will be no mercy on our souls. To that 'God,' to Lucifer, to all the angels and devils massing to rend and destroy the hope of Humanity's future, I respond: You who would show us no mercy shall receive none in return, for the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve do not suffer betrayal!

“Today we struck our first blow at our oppressors. Acting on national intelligence information received from reliable informants, a Predator aircraft operated by the an intelligence organization struck at a major enemy leadership figure. It is believed the attack was successful and the target was killed. This is the first in a series of targeted assassinations aimed specifically at the enemy leadership. There will be more. They will not know where the blows will come from or when they will strike but there will be more.

“In the war we are about to fight, we will take casualties, probably more than at any time in our history. But in this war, our fight does not end with death. I charge those who fall to spread the word in hell. Humanity is coming. We will not stop, we will not cease, we will not fail. To all those in hell we say, hold fast, we are coming. No matter what it costs, no matter what the sacrifices we must make, no matter how long it takes, no matter who we trample on the way, we are coming for you. You will be freed, your souls will be liberated from torment. You will be saved, not by prayer or submission to the will of some self-proclaimed deity but by the force of our arms. No human will be left behind. I will say that again so there is no misunderstanding. Myths speak of rapture in which many will be ‘left behind’. This may be their way but it is not ours. We serve notice. No human will be left in the clutches of those who would hold us in bondage for all eternity. On that promise may our enemies rest in an uneasy and frightened sleep.

Thank you, and good night.”

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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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:37 am 

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It's good to read this again, and to finally be able to comment.
I do have one question on this section. Why did Robert Gates suddenly get replaced with John Warner?

Intelligence can be identified by its rejection of self-deception; by its willingness to admit that it might be wrong; by its insistence upon evidence rather than mere impression; by reasoning that cannot easily be assailed. - Orson Scott Card

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:48 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:39 am
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"The only way this thing can fly is if it weighs virtually nothing so its wings provide propulsion and lift, not steerage."

Should this read: "...propulsion and steerage, not lift."?


Andy L

"Never trust anything you have to sign for. Look what happened to Neville Chamberlain...."
(Albert Arkright, as reported by Gerald Whiley)

"Leave Us . . . We Are DECORATING!" (Miss Quill, as recounted by Katherine Kelly)

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:52 am 
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ByronC wrote:
I do have one question on this section. Why did Robert Gates suddenly get replaced with John Warner?

Gates was notorious for involving lawyers in making decisions and giving priority to legal considerations when making operational decisions. Warner, on the other hand, was known for believing that lawyers should be finding legal reasons to justify decisions that had already been made on operational grounds.

Andy L wrote:
"The only way this thing can fly is if it weighs virtually nothing so its wings provide propulsion and lift, not steerage." Should this read: "...propulsion and steerage, not lift."?

Ooooops. Good catch.

Nations do not survive by setting examples for others.
Nations survive by making examples of others

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