"When the Final Trumpet gets called, All Earth Breaks Loose On Hell."
The Salvation War is a Web Original trilogy that premiered online in the beginning of 2008, asking a simple question: what if God announced that everyone's time was up, and that Satan was coming to claim the bodies and souls of everyone on earth?The answer author Stuart Slade gives is simple: the governments of the world declare war on Heaven and Hell, and bring upon them all the might of the modern military services aided by every single technological advancement we've made since the Bible Times.In short, the series can be summarized as war fiction heavy on Technology Porn in the vein of Larry Bond or John Ringo that goes on a ramming course in order to deconstruct apocalyptic horror along the lines of The Taking or the hard-handed evangelism of Left Behind.The first book, Armageddon???, follows the fight against the forces of Hell, and all the tasks that must be accomplished to win first that fight, and then the one against Heaven itself.From The Amazing Randi trying to discover how to peer into Hell, to the rampaging demons that appear in civilian areas around the world, to all of Humanity mobilizing for war, the story covers a worldwide stage. The second volume, Pantheocide, concerns the war with Heaven and shows that the forces of Heaven are far better commanded and more dangerous than the forces of Hell.Armageddon??? and Pantheocide can be found in this forum. These are first-draft raw copy.Allegedly due to the creation and spread of a torrent of the stories, The Salvation War is now radioactive as far as publishers are concerned. Without this incentive, it appears as though the third part of the series, The Lords of War, is not going to be written, although the author did publish some details about the intended plot in late 2014.
The Salvation War provides examples of the following tropes:
Alien Blood: The Baldricks, of any subspecies, can have blood that is anywhere on the color wheel (usually yellow, green, or purple), or black. Harpies also have acidic, flammable blood. The coloration is likely a result of secondary pigments in the blood, since judging by their genetics they are almost certainly an evolutionary offshoot of the hominid family from Earth; they should have hemoglobin in their blood. Angels' blood isn't immune to the trope either. Sometimes it's red, more often it's white or silver. It seems that daemon and angelic blood pigment is also a type of blood group.
Averted. While the Americans provide the backbone of Earth's military response to The Message by virtue of having the most powerful military on the planet, it's very much an international affair, with the British and Russians in particular playing very big parts in some of the initial victories, while the Iranians both opened the first battle over Iraq with an aerial attack and commenced the tank charge that broke a demonic army there.
Chapter 41 of Pantheocide lays out just how multinational the war really is:
The Salvation War was a truly multi-national enterprise. That was why sub-munitions made in South Africa were delivered to China for installation in 227mm rockets that were shipped in Greek freighters to Hell where they were issued to American MLRS batteries that gained their mobility from oil that had been drilled in Saudi Arabia and refined in Singapore before being carried by Norwegian tankers to Dutch-built storage facilities on the shores of Hell. Early in the war, at least three economists were reputed to have committed suicide after trying to work out how to pay for everything.
America also ends up being more or less in charge of the entire H.E.A., with General Petraeus being its Supreme Commmander. This was explicitly due to America's logistical and communication abilities being most up to the task.
And This Is for...: Two brand new American B-1C bombers are named Spirit of Sheffield and Spirit of Detroit, to commemorate the first two cities lost in The Salvation War. Two Russian Blackjacks are likewise named For Sheffield and For Detroit.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The commander of the sub that nuked Tel Aviv wakes up in hell and is informed of his charges: "Captain Alex Ben-Shoshan, commanding officer of the Israeli Navy Submarine Tekuma. You are charged with crimes against humanity, treason against the human race, one hundred and fifty three thousand, six hundred and twenty counts of murder in the first degree and failing to complete your navigation logs."
Asskicking Equals Authority: Standard operating procedure in Hell. So much so that defeated demons are utterly confused when victorious humans don't order them back into combat on their side.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Beasts of the Apocalypse each measure somewhere around twohundredfeet. The Baldricks can also weigh in at not-insubstantial sizes and they have Greater Heralds, Behemoths, Leviathans, Belial's breed of Wyverns, and other such fun supersized creatures.
Author Filibuster: Although they're not particularly long, the author seems unable to resist occasionally slipping in little political monologues or Take Thats against people, beliefs, and policies he disagrees with, even when they don't exactly add anything to the story. Fortunately, these interludes are generally brief, and as indicated below, Strawman Political is almost completely averted. And even if a person or idea is presented in a negative light at first, that doesn't prevent them making more positive appearances later.
Angels are little better. As far as we know Yahweh hasn't killed anyone in his temper tantrums, but every time he gets bad news, the palace's chief mason is hard at work for a long time afterwards. The mason installed a bunker in the throne room early in Pantheocide.
To reiterate, an international army of humans with 21st century tech forces its way into Hell, trounces its legions, blasts Big Bad Satan himself, and now has done the same with Heaven, and would have done the same with God Himselfbut Michael beat them to it.
The massive demonic army, too. The author has even stated that the sheer demonic numbers and the enhanced physical toughness of each demon might have still prevailed over humans with World War I-era technology and may even have given early World War II-era militaries a desperate run for their money. For what it was worth, they definitely chewed up (in some cases literally) U.S. soldiers in urban combat, pushing them back three defense perimeters before finally being relieved by Apache helicopters... and suicide bombers.
Badass Boast: Uriel's introduction, when he speaks with Jude.
Uriel: I am a traveler in your world, I come and go as I please and where I go death follows me. Jude: You're not human. Uriel: I am more than anything you have ever known, Jude, son of Gregory. I am the sword, the scythe of the One Above All and in my passing entire nations have wept bitter tears. The first born tremble at my name.
Stuart: Because beneath that quiet, polite, scholarly exterior beats a heart of pure badass. Lady I know said he is the sort of man every girl wants to bring home to meet her parents — and the sort of man every woman hopes will be around to escort her across a parking lot late at night.
Bait the Dog: Throughout Armageddon???, Michael-lan is clever and funny, snarking at Yahweh's ineffectual rages and running the show behind the scenes. Then at the beginning of Pantheocide he's shown pushing drugs to further his plans. The specific example we see is Maion, a young angel hooked on heroin, who ends up a dancer and prostitute in his club to support her habit. He then uses her to co-opt his buddy, Inspector Lemuel. Then she's tortured and crippled at Belial's concentration camp, which was a part of Michael's machinations. Granted, he didn't realize the conditions at the camp and he states internally throughout the book that he likes them and is ultimately trying to benefit them, but that's still not cool, man.
Michael-lan shows himself to be one in Pantheocide. He is actively yet subtly plotting to take over Heaven by making multiple angels dependent on him for secretly-supplied drugs and decadence while he takes advantage of the war with the humans to get rid of the less controllable angels by having them sent to die in the front lines, effectively on suicide missions, without telling anybody it's suicide to attack the humans head on.
And then Elhmas comes along...
BFG: Demons are definitely not immortals, but strong enough so that 5.56mm or 9mm won't kill them before they reach their target and tear it apart. Humans adapt by, among other things, mass-producing firearms chambered for high caliber rounds, for example:
The American military rechambers M4A1s and M16s (originally chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO) to fire .50 Beowulf rounds (which already exist in real life but in small quantities), then by rechambering the Springfield Armory M1A (originally chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO) to .458 Winchester and designating it the M114, rechambering the M1 Garand (originally .30-06) for .458 Winchester (called the M115 carbine), and by using multiple variants of Barrett .50 Cal rifles such as the monstrous M82A1 or the M107 as standard issue sniper rifles.
The Brits phase out the SA80 family of assault rifles in favor for L1A1 SLRs (designated the L1A2) rechambered for .338 Lapua Magnum and adopt the L7A3, a copy of the FN MAG also rechambered for .338 Lapua Magnum.
The military aren't the only ones with heavy firepower. A Thai prostitute pulls a .50AE Desert Eagle on Luga when she is discovered in a bar in Thailand.
During the first Baldrick berserker attack, a hunter shoot the Baldrick with a Weatherby Mark V Deluxe rifle chambered for .416 Weatherby Magnum. Which finally delivers the killing blow.
Abigor wielding a 30mm RARDEN autocannon as an assault rifle. Then again, he is something like twenty feet tall and made of muscles on muscles.
By the end of the first book, most military personnel carry either a Desert Eagle chambered for .50AE or a Smith & Wesson Model 500 as a side-arm.
Completely topped by a Prince's George County cop with the king of BFGs ,a Pfeifer-Zeliska .600 Nitro Express Magnum, pretty much a revolver the size of a shotgun, to the point that he falls on his ass from firing the shot and is struck in the face by it due to the recoil force. But then, it was the first time he ever fired it. (This turns out to be a mild subversion, when a military colonel points out to him the practical uselessness of it.)
Big Applesauce: Lampshaded by Michael. The last Bowl of Wrath gets poured on New York precisely because it's the city that always gets attacked in fiction.
Big Damn Heroes: The defense at Hit, which is protecting one of the flanks of the human army during the first human-demon battle, has gone down to the last defensive perimeter. A suicide bomb car manages to break the demons for some time, and insurgents join the battle with RPGs. Then...
Links looked up, the terrific noise of the firefight was joined by something else, a rhythmic throbbing that shook dust from the ceiling and caused the shelves on the wall to bounce. Over his head, the sky suddenly turned black and red as a hail of unguided rockets passed overhead to slam into the buildings opposite. "It's the Apaches!"
Also, the USS Normandy for the people of Eucalyptus Hills in Pantheocide.
Pantheocide ends like this. The economy is so focused on war production it would collapse if it stopped. A demonic insurgency, led by Belial, is rising in Hell. The dead in the New Roman Republic are taking little chunks out of the economy, dust storms and hurricanes devastated vast regions of America. And there's always the possibility that the other pantheons aren't nearly so defenseless/technologically behind (or if they are, that they'll quickly learn the recent lessons and upgrade).
This was actually the point of the third book, which was going to be titled The Lords of War. The whole plot centered around humanity dealing with the fact that they had won the war and now controlled three dimensions, and the massive issues that would face Earth, Heaven, and Hell.
Blessed with Suck: Some humans are born with the ability to form portals and communicate with Hell. Up until God revealed his existence almost all of them were tortured by demons and/or declared insane. The process from making and maintaining a portal from Earth to Hell is very painful, although things got better as the technology improved.
Body Horror: Due to an undiscovered biological mechanism, the Angels are immune to cancer, despite the fact that they heal quickly and are essentially immortal. However, those who survived the nuking of the Incomparable Legion of Light and thus the subsequent radiation bath have had this mechanism destroyed. The result is that the survivors are less "angel" and more "angel-shaped lumps of cancerous tissue". None of them survived.
Bond One-Liner: Bill Clinton gets one of these in the third chapter, upon killing a succubus. With a shotgun.
How Satan met his demise, via a ship-to-ship missile.
A literal example occurs later, when the YAL-1 that finishes Uriel explodes just after the Angel of Death dies from a laser to the head, due to a catastrophic rupture caused by the physical strain of trying to turn enough to keep the beam on target.
Break Out the Museum Piece: With a severe shortage of combat vehicles, many militaries are forced to recommission planes that were long considered obsolete, such as F-111 fighter planes, piston engined B-25 bombers, and even steam-powered ships until the newer stuff is produced and can replace them.
If this looting of museums went on, there wouldn’t be an aviation collection left intact. Idly, he [Commander Martin Winters] wondered what the Russians were recovering from Monino and whether the Chinese would let the Americans have their U-2 back. Then it struck him that this showed just how seriously humans were taking this war. They were prepared to destroy their past, their history, their background, everything that they normally held dear if by doing so they could get one more combat aircraft, one more ship, one more tank into the battle zone. They were fighting this war regardless of cost, regardless of effort. All that mattered to them was winning. Suddenly he felt quite sorry for Yahweh and Satan whose posturing had unleashed this fury upon them.
Break the Cutie: Mentioned by name regarding one of the drug-addicted prostitute angels at Michael's club.
Break the Haughty: Kathryn Branch is incredibly resilient in holding on to her Fundamentalist beliefs after being discovered as The Quisling. She's finally broken when the angel Lemuel tells her about the Hell-like prison camp Yahweh ordered constructed. Kathryn can only accept one of two things from the experience: either Yahweh ordered a horrific atrocity, or an angel has lied to her, and each of them is a crippling blow to her faith.
Breath Weapon: Harpies can spit fire. Not terribly useful against jet fighters.
Brown Note: The Message, from what we're told about it.
Car Fu: Tank crews are delighted to learn that "Baldricks go crunch" just like human infantry.
SPC Brungardt: Hey guys guess what. Baldricks go crunch too.
An early mention of the former airborne laser (ABL) program being set aside in Armageddon???? isn't touched upon until later in Pantheocide, when in the course of targeting Uriel, the USS Normandy basically fries him with its target designation radar; after the government looked into this, the decision was made to revive the program, leading to the YAL-1 going airborne and one of them dealing the fatal blows to Uriel.
A Scientist who had examined Baldrick corpses confirmed that chemical weapons should work on them due to their metabolic pathways are almost identical to ours. Much later during the invasion of Hell, the Russians use Sarin gas on a Harpy formation to devastating effect.
Stuart left one in the thread that inspired these books responding to the board admin's answer: "You know Mike, there's a really good novel brewing up in my mind here."
The mysterious voice in Memnon's head that appears very occasionally, giving him advice. If a 3rd book is ever written, it is likely that this will be a plot point.
Chekhov's Gunman: Uriel, strongly hinted throughout Armageddon??? to be (more or less) a Person of Mass Destruction and Yaweh's incoming Super Weapon Surprise. Later is a feared presence throughout the first half of Pantheocide, killing tens of thousands and aging up hundreds of thousands (not to mention killing nearly all animals in the area of effect), though his effectiveness is greatly limited by tinfoil, short duration, and human willpower. He is finally killed in the Battle of Los Angeles, as detailed by other tropes.
The Chessmaster: Loads of them, 90% on the human side, with their king being General Dave Badass Petraeus (seriously, just look at any of his scenes), one with an indefinite side (Michael-Lan), and a few on the demon side who were all out-chessed by humanity and end up being Unwitting Pawns. Abigor thought he was one, what with his thinning of his ranks to extend his line to allow envelopment, unprecedented for demonic warfare...
The author has explained that the way Heaven was invaded is actually the payoff of Petraeus' plan from as far back as Armageddon???: not only did holding back in invading Hell (i.e. small units committing probing attacks) leave much in reserve, it also left Heaven unprepared for getting "tank rushed" from three directions at once.
The demons have Bronze-age technology. The humans have 21st century technology. The demons, naturally, think that the humans are using magecraft of epic proportions.
Another example is the demons' own technology. They have, through trial and error, discovered a way to enhance their portal making abilities through sets of amplifying antennae with wires stretched between them. So far as the demons believe, these are shrines for powerful interdimensional spirits aiding them.
Combined Energy Attack: Michael is able to borrow powers from his entire club, and even angels throughout heaven, through a network based on synchronized music.
Contrived Coincidence: How the succubus that forms a cult around herself in England is caught. A RAF Flight Sergeant just happens to enter a garden supply center (to ask for directions) at the same time one of the enthralled people goes there to buy a large quantity of fertilizer (to make IEDs).
Crapsaccharine World: Heaven. It's described as having "pretty rolling green hills, nice little forests, and air so clean it tastes like wine." The Eternal City is made out of precious stones and is incredibly beautiful. Don't expect to see too much of it if you're a human, though. Most of them live in slums outside the city, and work as slaves for the Angels. It's also shown that Yahweh isn't a very good leader, having gone mad with power a long time ago, and because of that all but the most loyal of the Angels are running some sort of conspiracy against him. Once Lemuel-lan finds out and starts making arrests, paranoia sets in, and people in the Eternal City become fearful and distrustful. The city itself has some serious cracks and structural problems under the jewels and shallow beauty.
The fate of Yahweh's personal chorus seems great when compared to the rest of the humans in Heaven. They get to live in the city, in the largest and greatest of all the palaces, sitting at the throne of Yahweh, a sight which never fails to awe. And they get to sing the chorus to him. The same songs, without pause, for all time. Also, once the H.E.A. finally captures Heaven, they find that unlike Hell, it has absolutely no strategic natural resources to exploit, and the vast farmland outside the city is barely enough to feed the existing population. In terms of war resources, Heaven is essentially dead weight. Those that were given Salvation thought Heaven was the paradise they were promised... but "paradise" for people of one thousand years ago basically is having surplus of crops, a roof over their head, and don't have to live in perpetual fear of raiders.
Also Elhmas, a.k.a. Jesus, or rather the angel who possessed him. For all of Armageddon??? and half of Pantheocide he seemed like a stoned slacker, the biggest letdown to a father with unreasonable expectations ever. We get one hint that he's smart before the army he's in command of gets nuked. But then he comes back at the end and reveals that he survived and admits that Michael's way of guiding humanity is more effective than his... but he'll be watching just in case Michael lets the power go to his head.
Crossover Cosmology: The story started heading this way in Pantheocide. At first it was just whispers of whoever was guaranteeing Julius Caesar's protection in demon-controlled Hell. Then we learn that there are other extra dimensional factions out there that not even Hell wants to talk about. It's unknown though how many of the deities from human religions actually existed (much less what happened) and how many were simply Yahweh or Satan in disguise. Chapter 75 of Pantheocide confirms that the Aesir, the gods of Norse Mythology, are real and were driven away by Yahweh's forces. In chapter 84, it is confirmed that besides the Aesir, at least the Baals and Olympians exist.
Despite the initial scare, the demons turned out to be total pushovers and were defeated at an approximate cost of a couple thousand per human casualty. Their task force sent to Iraq was nearly annihilated, with about one survivor per thousand. It definitely doesn't help that the military dead get dumped into Hell, where they can escape confinement and raise pockets of rebel forces alongside fellow fallen warriors, while it isn't known whether demons (or the dead in Hell) have another afterlife. Barring Sheffield and Detroit, the war is more demon massacre than actual war, especially when infantry small-arms stop being useless against them. About the only thing that would have restrained the humans is that if the war had run any longer we would have run out of ammo. Lampshaded in Pantheocide, as everybody refers to the war against Hell as the "Curb Stomp War".
Belial: There can be no denying this. We thought we were going to earth to exterminate the humans, but in truth exactly the opposite is happening. They have come here to destroy us utterly, to slaughter every demon in hell, and so far our armies have been as helpless against theirs as theirs once were against us.
The war against heaven wasn't as easy, but mostly because humanity had no direct way to get into Heaven, and Micheal was desperate to keep it that way for as long as possible. So most of the "war" was Heaven dumping various disasters onto Earth. When humans managed to get into Heaven, the Angels only fought marginally better than the demons in Hell.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Michael is pretty much the only extra-dimensional being that actually understands humans, and does a much better job of being able to predict their moves than Satan or Yahweh. However, he doesn't use this savvyness so much against the humans, since it makes him perfectly aware that they'll win. Instead, he works toward damage control for the Angel race and ending up in charge of the human-controled Heaven.
Dark Is Not Evil: A few of the Baldricks after Satan's fall, Memnon in Pantheocide being an example. Of course, after being conquered by human beings, being evil would certainly cost you your life, so...
Of the Demonic Invaders. In real life, they would had been curbstomped by humanity's modern weaponry just the same way as in the story.
Of Biblical tropes in general, really. Take the supernatural elements of The Bible and Word of Dante, make them conform to the laws of physics enough to interact with the real world but otherwise play them as straight as possible, put them in the modern world, and what do you get? A joke. God Is Evil, the Demonic Invaders are ugly but no real threat to a modern army, the only really bad thing about Hell is the torture, and Heaven is supernaturally clean but still basically a Third World country. It would all be awe-inspiring to a Bronze Age culture but not to anyone who has ever driven a car.
Death Is Cheap: If you die as a mortal, you get picked up in Hell before your corpse gets cold. But if you die as a "Second Life" human (or for that matter a demon or angel), see Final Death below.
Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: High-Explosive Anti-Demon rounds, developed with iron payloads to take advantage of the demons' aversion to that element (whether natural or psychosomatic is unclear).
The Determinator: There are quite a few of them, most of whom don't let a little thing like dying and being thrown into the bowels of hell slow them down:
The Demonic Army keep on marching through even when they are dominated by artillery, landmines, barbed wire, tanks, APCs, and aircraft.
One Russian soldier even goes so far as to rejoin the unit he was killed in after being recovered. In the same day he died.
The city of Los Angeles proves that they're this when Uriel attacks. Uriel finds that not only are the humans not rolling over and dying, they're basically hearing him say "You cannot survive me," and screaming back "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED." They win.
The Devil: Satan turns up a bit. He's a bit of a prick. However, in chapter 21 of Pantheocide, it's revealed that devils exist separately from the daemons of Hell, who do not see themselves as devils and seem pretty scared of them.
Didn't Think This Through: Abigor's "revolutionary tactic" — in demonic warfare — of extending his lines was intended to sacrifice depth for reducing casualties (by spreading the troops) and to envelope the British and US armies. Unfortunately for him, not only had General Petraeus' staff already accounted for this strategy, and Abigor didn't realize that he could now see only a small portion of his army — and thus the battle — at once, and therefore would have to keep riding back and forth along the line playing "firefighter", until he was already on the front line in the midst of the dying. In any case, it didn't solve his more fundamental problems (the British and Iranian armies having already kicked in his army's right flank).note Prince Charles of Lorraine had already attempted the "super-long line" against Frederick The Great, albeit this Austrian version failed for a different reason (the Prussian cavalry feinting so that the Austrian cavalry and reserve moved to the Austrian right flank, while the bulk of the Prussian army moved behind cover to the Austrian left flank).
Dissonant Serenity: General Asanee does this. She doesn't need to swear because she can be frightening enough without it.
The Documentary: The Salvation War stories, like the author's other works including The Big One and its sequels, are written in this style.
Doing In the Wizard: Demonic magic is later found to be the effects of things science had not previously studied before, and once such study does happen countermeasures and replication are soon set up: Possession, demonic torment, and the ability to open portals are found to be EM-related psychic activities, which are blocked easily enough by tinfoil. Succubus' seductive abilities are found to be due largely to pheromones, and air filtration sorts out that issue. The combat magic demons cast are merely electricity generated by their bodies and channeled out (mostly through tridents). Gorgons' ability to control others or petrify them are due to psychoactive chemicals they inject into people to drug them into compliance or paralysis.
[As one demon realized how the humans had advanced] They'd found their own answers and realized there was no place for "magic" and "magery" in the world they were learning about. There were only things they understood and things they didn’t understand — yet.
Do Not Go Gentle: General reaction of the non-fundamentalist countries to The Message. This attitude quickly changes in favor of a more optimistic one once it becomes evident that modern military can take up on supernatural threats and win.
Dramatic Irony: A captain of a naval vessel repeatedly wishes to have Yahweh "under my guns". Unbeknownst to him, Yahweh was already dead by the last time he said it, and his body had been dumped in the lake that captain's vessel was maneuvering on at the time. So he got his wish, but not in the way he expected.
Early Installment Weirdness: Quite abundant with the way it was written. For example, early on, a demon calls razor wire "silver snakes" (the way they are pictured later on, he would have recognized it as iron immediately), and dead people must learn foreign languages instead of knowing them automatically.
Easily Thwarted Demonic Invasion: Even with the sheer numbers and special abilities on the demonic side, human weaponry and industry is just too much for them to overcome. Somewhat averted in the case of Heaven, who while they never invade are more capable than the forces of hell.
Palelabor definitely counts, and is, according to Word of God, a reference to one of Stardestroyer.net's collaborative Dwarf Fortress playthroughs.
Yamantau in Russia, where a council of states behind the Human Expeditionary Army is essentially running the world with regards to the war against Heaven. (Several of them though had merely been "lucky" enough to have had demonic heralds proceed towards their capitals, hence the opportunity to gain early prestige by blowing said heralds away.) The Russian engineers chide the Americans about building NORAD inside a mountain, rather than under it like Yamantau.
Pretty much most of the nations on Earth barring a few exceptions have mostly set aside previous concerns and have united against the common enemies of Hell and Heaven. The few that don't eventually come to regret it. Myanmar gets curbstomped after trying to exploit the global crisis to invade Thailand. North Korea considers invading South Korea, but realizes they have more to gain by joining the human alliance rather than fighting it. They're still dicks about it, though.
Iraqi insurgents and even Al-Qaeda help American troops fight the Baldricks in the Iraqi desert.
Major Warhol: (discussing former Iraqi insurgents) That many of you will be uncomfortable working with him and his men, but the fact remains that the Iraqi insurgents have had quite a lot of experience in running insurgencies recently and their people fought alongside ours in Hit. We're allies now.
The IRA and the Belfast police have also teamed together to fight off Baldrick attacks on home soil.
Irish Civilian: Still, its good to see true fighting Irishmen all on the same side at last.
It's revealed that the Great Celestial War, between Heaven and Hell (and a few other groups of higher-order beings), was drawn to an abrupt end when another party invaded, strongly implied to be "Devils", and the various groups had to call a truce to fight them off.
When asked as to whether or not they had recon units at the Eternal City without informing H.E.A. central command, the head British officer replies: "I can honestly say that Her Majesty's Armed Forces have no covert operations groups stationed outside The Eternal City." (Bolding ours, in order to further emphasize the bleedin' obvious.)
Also used by Michael himself.
Stevenson: And what happened to Elhmasnote the angel that possessed Jesus? Michael:Most everybody thinks you killed him. Oh, not you personally, you humans. He was in command of the Incomparable Legion of Light when it was nuked. The Host is certain that he died there.
Explosive Overclocking: The USS Normandy (CG-60) turned up the power to max while targeting Uriel, severely wounding him and mission killing itself, and the YAL-1 prototype skirts this trope, not by overclocking its laser mechanisms, but by taking insane turns, well outside parameters, to stay on target. It proves too much for the airframe, and it, uh, explodes.
Eye Scream: There's several incidents of eyes being lost in combat, from two demons getting stabbed in both eyes (one later during the Battle of Hit, one in Hell by escaping US military undead) to various unfortunate demons and eventually angels, including Uriel from explosions caused by human weapons.
Fantastic Religious Weirdness: The whole story, obviously. More specifically, though, people of different religious persuasions reacted differently to The Message. Many devout individuals did indeed lay down and die as they were commanded. Many Fundamentalist leaders, on the other hand, remained behind and rationalized The Message as being meant for everyone but them, and/or a judgment against their own enemies. Most of humanity seems to have adopted Nay-Theist beliefs with speed that's hard to imagine, but several denominations have come to an accommodation between their beliefs and the war; for example, see references to the Catholic Church elsewhere on this page.
Fantastic Slurs: "Baldrick(s)" for demons and, more recently, "Jellies" for angels.
Abigor to an extent, after his Heel-Face Turn. He genuinely cares about the welfare of his people.
Robert E. Lee's reputation for this gets him a job helping soldiers from various eras adjust to their new reality after being freed from torture in Hell, after he accepts that he can't adjust to modern military tactics.
A photographic interpreter picks a very bad time to make a seemingly lighthearted joke in Petraeus' Heaven HQ, for which Petraeus just stares at him until he's "feeling thoroughly miserable." Mind you, the interpreter was being flippant to a general faced with the very real possibility of having to nuke the Eternal City's walls — and thus the slums around them — or to nuke the place, an urbanized country in size, en masse... the Eternal City holds around 250 million inhabitants, and the human-angel ratio is guesstimated out-of-story as 10:1. Do the math and enjoy the brain bleach.
When Detroit is getting destroyed by a lava-portal, Karl Rove remarks that the city's destruction might make the state a Republican one. The rest of the people present were not amused.
Final Death: What exactly happens if a demon, an angel, or an undead human die has yet to be made clear. Demons have been wondering if there was a "super-hell" waiting for them; this would end up being a reason for several Russian undead who defected from the leadership of modern Russia's military forces in Hell to instead join Peter the Great or Kliment Voroshilov's own proto-states — they weren't particularly interested in dying (again) for a state they felt no real loyalty to.
Fire and Brimstone Hell: More or less fit the description, though Hell is not described as a Single-Biome Dimension. Much of it is actually quite nice once the local torturing is stopped. Well it's nice enough for the demons and the humans who are already dead, but "first life" humans need protection to prevent them suffering serious lung damage from the pumice-laden dust in the air.
Ori (a samurai) and Aeneas (a Spartan), picked up by a team in the Seventh Circle.
This trope is why Robert E. Lee, who offered his service to the U.S. flag again, won't be leading forces into battle again. In fact, in Chapter 62 of Pantheocide, the fantasy is shattered forever:
Petraeus: Sit down Robert. What made you come to this conclusion? Robert E. Lee: Sir, for a week, I have been attempting to understand how your army works. With the aid of a very skilled and patient tutor. Sir, I regret to say I have failed completely. I am not fit to command and I must recognize that as a fact. One day, perhaps, but not now.
Even Julius Caesar has had this happen to him — while he's apt at running the New Roman Republic, he's had to admit that he doesn't entirely understand what his army is doing in the field other than fighting the enemy. After the Third Legion repels an attack by a forward division/feint of the Incomparable Host, when given an overhead tour of the battlefield afterward Caesar is surprised to see the extent of carnage that 21st-century weaponry can cause, and admits to himself that he regrets seeing it.
Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Not at all, though the streets and buildings are literally made of precious minerals, or at least studded with them.
The author has already made know that The Salvation War will be a trilogy. Armageddon??? is about Humanity vs. Hell, Pantheocide is Humanity vs. Heaven, and The Lords of War will be about the consequences of humanity being the master of Heaven, Earth and Hell. Chances of a third book are low however, due to a person creating a torrent of the first two books, resulting in Stuart being unable to sell the series in dead tree form. (Along with all motivation to finish writing the series.)
Pretty much Abigor's invasion of Earth to a tee, even after he basically went from ancient history-era to Napoleonic Wars/American Civil War general overnight, minus artillery. After all, who do you think came up with his tactics first?
Fragile Speedster: A harpy noted that attacking the human fortifications was utterly insane, since the harpies traded protection for speed and the ability to fly. Not that the hardier demons on the ground were doing much better.
Try six star badass. General of the Armies David Petraeus, who commands the Human Expeditionary Army (by way of the US Army), despite never once handling a weapon during, or being physically on the front lines of a single battle in The Salvation War; see Badass Bookworm. If including his history before The Message, he was once shot in a negligent discharge by a soldier, but simply grunted when he had to have a chest tube inserted without anesthesia. After some discussions about George Washington's rank and seniority), GEN Petraeus may be looking at either a seventh star or a rather convenient reading of the relevant law, considering that he is the de facto "Supreme Allied Commander, Earth and (parts of) Hell"...
Major General (and thus Three Star Badass) Asanee, inspired by a real-life person, who pretty much headbutts the Thai Third Army into shape in a matter of minutes with her sheer badassery, and only playing second fiddle to GEN Petraeus.
Major General Asanee: Yes, I am a serious bitch.
Subverted in the case of former General Robert E. Lee.
Julius Ceaser. Who personally leads an army of Baldricks into melee combat with one of Hell's armies. Much to his dismay, he later has to sit back in the rear lines and do nothing because he is terribly out of date with modern combat tactics, much like Lee. Also, his armor is an gaudy and makes him an easy target.
Frickin' Laser Beams: Uriel receives the bad end of them twice! The first time, he is cooked up nicely by an overclocked radar designator from the USS Normandy. In the second and final time, a YAL-1A (originally designed to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles) delivers the killing blow.
The Fundamentalist: The ones as devout as they claimed to be are mostly dead, except for a few traitors. A lot of leaders, though, were not so devout, and they have either gone into hiding or reversed their positions.
Department of Intelligence and Military Operations (Netherworld).
Also, when some demons realize that fighting against humanity is doomed, they consider ways to earn mercy from them, such as by starting a group called the Demons for Ethical Treatment of Humans.
Gambit Pileup: There looked to be more than one massive conspiracy in Heaven. Turned out that a good portion of the upper echelons of the angelic hierarchy was already plotting against Yahweh.
Geeky Turn-On: The message board lit up with love for Hillary Clinton after she quoted H.P. Lovecraft in a war room meeting, complete with scaring the others a bit as Cthuhlu might actually be listening. Mind you, this is a setting where that might be possible.
Pretty much all of Satan's generals honestly have no idea how to fight modernized humans, and with the exception of Michael, none of Yahweh's generals are any better.
Down on Earth, the Thai military is crippled by incompetent leadership until Asanee kicks them all out of her command post.
However, the trope is heavily subverted in the case of General Robert E. Lee. Even though he was an excellent general during his time, his inability to comprehend modern combat strategy and technology made him incapable of taking an active role in the H.E.A.
Genre Savvy: Michael plans to release the last Bowl of Wrath on New York City, because hey, every disaster movie has it happen to NYC.
God: Referred to as Yahweh. Whether or not this is the actual Supreme Being is questioned quite frequently, to the point where the Catholics literally excommunicate Him. Whether Yahweh is actually the Supreme Being, however, he is definitely a complete Jerkass.
God Is Evil: ... Or just a dumbass drunk with power and full of himself. Or both, no-one says the options have to be mutually exclusive.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: Satan's justification for torture, Heaven's justification for endless chanting. Official reason? Allowing them to build up "energy" for going into the "true" afterlife... Heavily hinted to be a big, fat amount of bullshit from Yahweh and Satan. They were actually using that so-called energy to increase their own powers, only they just weren't doing right in any meaningful way. Word of God is that Hell was ultimately perfectly futile and endless torture.
For the humans, they were willing to break out all the museum pieces, print money, and forget every long-standing feud they could (it helped that so many had just been rendered moot), just to get as many guns, planes, and tanks onto the battlefield, pulling out weapons forbidden from warfare including chemical and nuclear. The entire world's economy was refocused entirely on the war effort. After the war, this comes back to bite them in the ass, because now the world economy is based on the war that is now over, no-one is entirely sure how to bring it back to normal without sparking the next depression.
The demons and angels resorted to extremely unconventional/forbidden tactics to prevent their own extinction by the humans.
Good-Looking Privates: Keisha Stevenson, a supply clerk turned tank commander, is attractive enough for an angel to describe her as "comely", and her enormous breasts earned her the nickname "Hooters".
Gonna Need More X: An old lady in a mall shoots a demon six times with her handgun to little effect. When interviewed afterwards, her only words are "I need a bigger fucking gun!"
In demonic wars, sometimes a Duke would hire some of Belial's particular breed of wyverns. It is specifically mentioned that even a few of Belial's wyverns could fulfill this trope. They don't help much against humans.
Earlier in the war, human infantry forces at Hit are just barely holding their ground against a demonic Zerg Rush. Cue the Apaches.
Both demons and angels show a limited ability to heal and survive from very serious wounds, up to the point that they can (barely) regrow missing body parts. However, it can be disrupted if the bullets/shrapnel isn't removed. Memnon's wings didn't grow back properly until the shrapnel in them was removed, and Michael and Uriel had to undergo surgery to remove the bullets and missile fragments they were riddled with.
"Second Life" humans also heal very quickly and well, They need to, given the torments they got subjected to by the demons.
President George W Bush has been going through one since The Message, which had completely tore apart the faith that had kept him going for most of his political career. This changes when a squad of F/A-18E fighter jets shoots down a pack of Baldricks.
James Randi sheds Manly Tears when he is told of the death of his friend Richard Dawkins.
GEN Petraeus ends up having to take a break (for several hours, leaving General Sir Michael Jackson in temporary command) after ordering the nuking of almost 400,000 angels and Second-Life humans, despite commanding US forces during the battles in Iraq early in Armageddon???, where Abigor's army lost almost as many.
Taliban agents join the fight against the demons at the Battle of Hit, by using suicide bombers.
Philip Phelan, a security guard at the New Market Mall holds back a Baldrick to give some high school kids a chance to escape.
One of the most awesome ones is Al Bundy tackling a Baldrick.
The former member of Hamas who drove a truck bomb into the 200-foot tall monster ridden by the Whore of Babylon.
The entire city of Tel Aviv being sacrificed by the Israeli prime minister so that the human alliance won't suffer a serious fracture.
Hollow World: Word of God says that both Heaven and Hell are hollow worlds, where the inhabitants live on the inside of the planet. This was inspired by the common usage that people live "on Earth" and "in Heaven" or "in Hell" together with classical "Golden Age" science fiction that featured hollow worlds. However, the trope is subverted since Heaven and Hell are not so much hollow as complex multi-dimensional shapes (like klein bottles) that have an inner surface but no outer surface. Digging down from Hell doesn't lead to an infinity of rock, it merely brings the digger out somewhere else in Hell.
The source of Satan's personal mount: it is a crossbreed between a Greater Harpy Herald and a Hydra.
The gorgons are the result of a breeding program and are (at least) part harpy, part naga, and part succubus, but this is slightly less because the various breeds of demon (and the angels) are all one species with wide variations in morphology.
Seen as soon as chapter 29 of Armageddon???: after the first big battle between humanity and the demons, Abigor sees amazed how two demons are helping a third one whose legs have been blown off, and comments that they must have learned that behaviour from humans.
Played straight with Memnon informing a doctor treating angels with shattered wings that removing them and allowing them to regrow might just be the trick.
Mamnon: For millennia, uncounted millennia, so far back that time itself became misty, we did things that were brutal and cruel beyond limits. We gloried in that cruelty and measured ourselves by it. Then you humans came and you slaughtered us. It was so easy for you that you defeated us and cast us down in a few weeks. By our standards we would have been your slaves and treated as cruelly as we treated our victims. But you didn't. You healed our wounds, you repaired what had been destroyed. In doing so you showed us the deadliest of all your weapons, compassion. You changed us and gave us a different way of looking at the world. Now, those of us who saw the destruction you can wreak on those you fight, we want to be like you. By changing the environment in which we lived, you changed us. To help the crippled Angels is our first step back from the pit.
Humanity Is Superior: The war against Hell is pretty close to being a Curb Stomp War, thanks to the human advantages of science (as an acknowledged, non-proscribed concept), engineering (ditto), critical thinking ("thirded"?), and military firepower (thanks to the former) available to the humans. Add to that how they treat their prisoners and the defeated with such incomprehensible kindness by Demonic standards that to them, they rival Yahweh himself.
Humans Advance Swiftly: The real kicker for the demons and the angels. To beings who were effectively immortal, checking every couple of hundred years was sufficient to make sure the easily-slaughtered cattle were still easily killable, as in thousands of years of technological development mankind went from hitting each other with bronze swords and spears and riding chariots to hitting each other with steel spears and pikes and riding warhorses with couched lances. Two hundred years ago, smoothbore line-of-sight cannons were the most powerful weapon that mankind could field. Then in a single century mankind jumped to using tanks, missile artillery, jets, and nuclear weaponry. That jump is so mind-boggling that the demons spend a significant amount of time simply figuring out what happened when they weren't looking.
The DVDs he'd [Abigor] seen had been particularly illuminating. He'd had no idea how ferocious humans were to each other, and the scale of the battles that had raged across the human world even in the last century — the last few days, to him — stunned him. How had they come so far in so little time?
Humans Are Cthulhu: The above, however, fails to encompass Abigor's opinion after seeing the images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Abigor was sitting on his couch, mouth agape, staring at the screen as the credits rolled by. What sort of gods were the humans, to be able to destroy a city with a single bomb? He closed his mouth, then shook his head. A single bomb, capable of annihilating an entire city. An entire army would be nothing. They had played with him, when they could have destroyed him and everyone with him with ease.
Humans Are Special: Both the demons and some of the angels concede that there's something about humans that makes them special, such as their equal capacities for destruction and forgiveness, their desire to adapt, their habit of asking how things work rather than taking them for granted, and the fact that they don't just fight to "win", but to completely annihilate the enemy. Mildly subverted within the story, as the difference was cultural, though this is huge. The demons could and indeed did adapt several times throughout Armageddon???... they just had no chance to bridge the gap in time. Amusingly, the succubus "Luga" almost mistakes science and engineering for human religions.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Subverted. On the battlefield, according to the demons, human are ruthless killing machines. They just won't stop until the opposing army is annihilated. Still, they're also incredibly nice with their prisoners of war, by demonic standards of course. However, Micheal fears that humanity will not be so forgiving to Heaven, since Yahweh basically betrayed them. He figures that the humans didn't really like the Baldricks, but they hate the angels. The author's said that Michael, aware of lower angelic fertility, fears that angelic casualties on the level the demons suffered during the Curbstomp War would be an extinction event.
Humans Are Warriors: Several demonic characters started referring to humans as Lords of War. To say nothing of their reaction when they find out humans have weapons we are actually afraid to use (nukes).
God and Satan are competing for "Biggest Jerkass in the Galaxy" here.
Karl Rove comes in as a close third with his comments during the destruction of Detroit.
Jesus Taboo: Averted. There are several direct references to Jesus made by Yahweh and Michael. Yahweh thinks his son is a loser, while Jesus himself spends his time "testing" out various drugs for Michael's underground drug ring. It's since turned out that "Jesus" was actually a human carpenter whose body had been possessed for years by Yahweh's son whose real name is apparently Elhmas, commander of the Incomparable Legion, and he's actually...
Jesus Was Way Cool: It's pretty well-established that Jesus is not as crazy, fanatical, or prone to anger as Yahweh. However, he doesn't seem to be very concerned about humanity and spends his time getting high on drugs. Possibly justified... if your Dad was a Jerkass who believed his own all-powerful hype and threw hissy-fits every time someone told him something that didn't fit his worldview, and he was in charge... you'd probably be getting baked a lot too. The "groovy, man" bit is actually a ruse — when revealed to be Elhmas, angelic controller of the human body of Jesus the carpenter, he keeps up the guise in the presence of Raphael-lan, Michael-lan's minion, but drops it when talking to his own subordinate Enatenael-lan-Elhmas.
In Chapter 83 of Pantheocide, Elhmas actually turns out to really be way cool. It turns out that he was the first angel to figure out how potentially powerful humanity was, and his possession of Jesus of Nazareth was actually intended to instill stronger and more just morality among the humans so they wouldn't kill and hurt one another. In other words, he wanted to help humanity.]] Unfortunately, his message was perverted by humans, and he tried several more times over the years — first with Mohammad and Islam, and later with what may have been Martin Luther. Each instance backfired on him, and he finally gave up and started getting baked with Michael. When Elhmas confronts Michael about the deception and attempt to kill him, he just says that he's tired of it all, and that Michael's methods were correct — and then he gets baked with Michael again, after telling him that Elhmas is now the Man Behind the Man.
Several, considering that we're dealing with demons and short of pulling a Kill 'em All, some were going to get off easy. By the end of Armageddon???, we have, among the worst, Euryale, (one of the masterminds behind Sheffield's and Detroit's attacks, i.e two 9/11s on steroids) who is now owning a perfectly legal and thriving business, Euryale Real Estate Company. and Yulupki (same as above) who manages to start the Yulupki Express Delivery Service and puts Fedex out of business in mere months. Those demons learn really fast. (Both were able to pin the blame solely on Belial, the architect of the attacks (who is still alive), so presumably these would go south quick were the word to come out.)
Kim Jong-il is relying on this. He doesn't have long to live, is certainly going to Hell, and would rather get preferential treatment for helping the war effort, as opposed to neglect for staying out of it and (almost) conspiring with Heaven.
Michael as well, maybe. He's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who overthrew Yahweh, but his main goal was protecting angels, not humans, and he definitely could have made it easier for them if he wanted. He also completely screwed overseveral friends in the process, and carefully engineered things to avoid blame. His punishment in the end is... an admonition not to let power go to his head. It's coming from Jesus, so it has to be taken seriously, but still, Michael got off easy.
Klingon Promotion: Predictably, it's standard procedure in Hell (as noted by Abigor):
Abigor: Promotion by assassinating one's superiors was a well-known tactic in Hell, smiled upon as long as it was successful. A commander who couldn't even protect himself was unfit to be in a position of authority.
The Lancer: Former-Lieutenant — now Colonel — Keisha Stevenson, who ended up as GEN Petraeus' go-to field commander.
Lampshade Hanging: Following the story getting its own page on this site, some references back to it have started appearing, including:
Humanity nicknaming the war against Satan's regime (from the fighting in Iraq to Satan's death) the Curb Stomp War.
Lightning Bruiser: One of the biggest advantages for the human militaries during the fighting in Iraq was that they're faster tactically and strategically (yes there's a difference) than Abigor's army of foot infantry, "rhinolobster" cavalry, and harpies. Just came up in the invasion of Heaven as of Chapter 65 of Pantheocide, albeit with more emphasis on the "bruiser".
The flying demons, because for a creature of the size in question to fly, it needs to be very light. Thus, a mechanism by which "flight sacs" are filled with hydrogen generated by acid blood acting on minerals has been postulated (it was originally conceived in the book The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson and Wayne Anderson). Land-based and sea-based daemons are not injured by their own blood.
The Demons ability to control minds across dimensions can be completely blocked by a thin sheet of aluminum. This is explained in-universe by pointing out that to have avoided detection to date, the emissions would have to be very weak and in unfamiliar parts of the spectrum. Against such signals, aluminum shielding is effective and really is used in warships and military aircraft making this Truth in Television. This kind of shielding is the first option any design team looks at when dealing with signals interference. The discovery that tinfoil hats actually work is also Rule of Funny.
Magic A Is Magic A: In the effort to scientifically justify them, Baldrick/Angelic abilities follow specific rules, particularly portals. For example, portals can only be opened between dimensions (i.e. from Hell to Earth, or Earth to Heaven, but not from Earth to another point on Earth) and require a "beacon" to focus the portal on (either a human Nephilim, an angel, or a Baldrick).
Make Me Wanna Shout: The angelic "Trumpet Blasts" have been described as "the sonic equivalent of a laser", and are capable of shaking apart fighter jets and shattering stone walls.
Master of None: "Every gorgon quickly became used to being told they were not as effective at persuading humans as succubi, much weaker fliers than harpies, less powerful witches than naga, poorer fighters than a common lesser demon."
Medieval Stasis: The main reason Hell did so badly is that the last technological innovation they had was "the wheel" and "bronze trident". Justified because A. the demons and angels are essentially immortal unless they are killed and B. Iron is forbidden from their realms. Iron isn't really deadly, but does massively interfere with their electrically-based powers and their regeneration ability (to the extent that one demon has to have his shrapnel-laced wings amputated entirely before they regenerate properly).
Mêlée à Trois: Heaven and Hell were more or less in a state of Cold War before the story begin. Then humanity decides to take them both down. The continued hostility between Heaven and Hell is still a major plot point, and as a result, both Satan and Yahweh tend to see conspiracies all around, though as we see in Pantheocide, this isn't necessarily unjustified.
Mind over Matter: Raw, brutal telekinesis is an ability upper-tier demons and angels demonstrate the ability to have; Satan, for example, is able to squish lesser demons to paste with a glance. Uriel has the ability to use his willpower to shut down living bodily functions. At the climax of Pantheocide, Michael and Yahweh have a massive battle of raw willpower that ends with Yahweh being crushed to death. The telekinesis demonstrated does not appear to be particularly fine or precise, instead being sheer, raw mental willpower being pushed into either defensive shields or offensive crushing power — Uriel is the only one hinted at being able to use his power to do anything beyond defense and crushing.
Mood Whiplash: An entire chapter of the second book contains an almost poetically beautiful description of a nuclear device detonating. The next chapter describes the beginning of the Body Horror inflicted on those affected who are unlucky enough to not be killed outright.
Mook Horror Show: There are numerous points in the story where individuals — from rank-and-file demons up to Grand Dukes and Archangels — have the last moments of their life painfully detailed. You can almost see the battles raging around them in slow motion as their minds are clouded with confusion, despair and terror; some raged that "mere humans" could be doing such things, but others were so despondent and actively wondering if, maybe, there could have been some other way to have avoided it.
More Dakka: So much more that after finishing off Hell humanity is almost out of ammo. Michael refers to this trope by name when describing human killing methods.
Mundane Fantastic: As of the end of Armageddon: a succubus hosting a popular talk show, Gaius Julius Caesar and Lt.(deceased) Jade Kim creating a Roman Empire-inspired city-state in Hell for people who are already dead (but not without money), Nagas forming a Hell-based courier company using their natural portal generation abilities...
Mundane Utility: At the beginning of the series, Nagas used there mighty portal generation abilities to move entire armies between the planes of reality. By the end, they are using it to carry mail at almost instant speeds.
Mushroom Samba: Michael-lan reveals that the Book of Revelation came about via him inducing one of these... which bites Heaven in the ass because Yahweh's been following the prophecies within to the letter, and Heaven doesn't have any fire to rain down for the Fourth Bowl of Wrath. Subsequently remedied when Michael passes off his Return-to-Sender act on the nuke-in-a-drug-cart and the nuking of Tel Aviv as the Fourth Bowl.
My Friends... and Zoidberg: After Karl Rove makes a very foolish comment during a White House meeting (essentially suggesting that the destruction of Detroit might cause Michigan to swing Republican in the next election), he gets this treatment.
President Bush: Okay, ladies, gentlemen, Karl.
My God, What Have I Done?: Michael after a first-hand look at the Hell-like prison camp he convinced Belial to build (tricking him into thinking Yahweh had given the orders).
Nay-Theist: Played with: After a full book of war on hell with everyone confident that Heaven is next, late in Armageddon, the Catholic Church reconciles their beliefs with the reality of Yahweh's dogma by saying that Jesus' lessons are the truths of a God that just doesn't happen to be the one in charge... leading them to excommunicate Yahweh. Since then they've converted to a Church Militant and the Vatican has fielded several light mechanized brigades, which GEN Petraeus has tasked as reserve brigades for armies' headquarters. And by the end of Pantheocide, it seems that they were right.
Colonel Keisha Stevenson: Hokay, this is your stop. Keep the faith. Janice Haggerty: What faith? Colonel Keisha Stevenson: Why faith in science, engineering and applied firepower of course. What other faith could there be?
This is the reason why the US government will not carry out mass detention of those who do not wear their tinfoil hats, since the last time they did that, "the stain is with [them] still".
Colonel Paschal will forever be reminded about his "meeting" with Luga.
After literally thousands of years of horribly torturing and mutilating human souls, the Demons of Hell are seen doing their best in Pantheocide to try to make up for it. It's the position of much of humanity that they never will make up for it, but as Memnon puts it, at least trying to be better and honestly working at it is better than giving up.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Well, no morally decent ones, anyway. A smattering of cabinet members from the Bush and Obama administrations (along with the presidents themselves) and James "The Amazing" Randi appear as themselves, but Expies are used to explore the consequences of The Message and the current battles on people who achieved celebrity status by being total assholes. (A "Mr. Phlops" given to gay-bashing at military funerals, anyone?)
No Longer with Us: Inverted with Yahweh after the coup as he really is dead. The angels get told he's taking a vacation. The humans take nano-seconds to know what really happened.
One of the more subtle advantages Humanity has is that the typical management style of minions in Hell is to bully and degrade them, even punishing them for acts of excellent performance as proof of laziness. For turncoat Demons, the typical Human style of reasonable performance goals with effusive praise and rewards when they are exceeded makes them a joy to work for in comparison.
Luga is outright astounded when she watches two scientists debating over how portals are formed, and when the older one is proven wrong by the younger one, the older one isn't killed or tries to kill the younger one. Instead, he merely accepts the argument and tries to use the facts gained in future research.
Abigor is astounded (pre-Heel-Face Turn) to find that when he tells a messenger that he knows that the messenger is tired, and he apologizes for it, but needs him to go and help him again, the messenger actually works harder because Abigor empathized with him.
First done when they rescue Richard Dawkins from Hell. Then minds start to wonder who else is there in hell... Mildly subverted when it turns out that the (un)dead can't permanently leave Hell, since functionally speaking they have a healing factor that only works in that dimension. They may end up in human custody, but would start to die again if on Earth for more than a few minutes.
The main role of the U.S. Marines in Armageddon??? is to perform search-and-rescue in Hell.
Also a surprise for demons watching the retreat from the human meat grinder; an image that stuck in Abigor's mind was two demon soldiers helping a third with no legs back into the portal to Hell. Normally, demons just left their wounded where they dropped and if they recovered, good for them. Proof that Humanity Is Infectious.
Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Humanity, definitely. While the tactics and tech we use are fairly recent, they're still fairly normal for humanity. The ability to communicate instantly over long distances, use guns, and travel faster than the speed of sound are major advantages over the Angels and Demons, though.
Once Akropoulopos, a messenger, reports of the destruction of the road to Dysprosium, he is more terrified of Satan's silence rather than the usual hysterical fit.
When Beelzebub's forces are attacking the Russian defensive formation, they charge through artillery and anti-air fire without hesitation. But when the infantry arrive at the opposite shore of the river, they see the effects of Sarin shells on the harpies. Sarin is colorless and odorless, and to fire it, the artillery ceased their barrage. Of all the devastation of that battle by that point, practically the entire demonic army freezes in place when they see, without any explosions or gunfire, tens of thousands of harpies dying under the influence of Sarin.
A lesser case is mentioned in Pantheocide when a demon in the human forces holds the line against angels and notes they are the only ones to shout and sing during combat — because humans try revealing as little as possible to the enemy, and the demons believe in the trope.
When an angel first appears to one of the demon messengers early on in Armageddon, the author makes a point on how they're essentially the same in terms of monstrosity.
When Julie sees that her demon torturer was nothing more than a teenaged coward crying for his life, she decides that he is no different from the common internet troll.
Then she thought some more, about the people on earth who thought that adding "just kidding" to the end of a phrase made everything all right, no matter how rude or offensive they'd been. Or the humans on the internet who thought that they could do what they liked to people's lives because they'd never have to face the victims of their "games". Were they actually that different from Domiklespharatu?
During Pantheocide, some of the characters note that daemons begin exhibiting very human-like qualities after Earth shows Hell mercy. One doctor even goes to say they've essentially established the correct answer to the "nature vs. nurture" debate.
Micheal-lan gives one to Lemuel-lan at the end when he asks how Micheal could have drugged him and had Maion then kidnapped. Micheal then points out that Lemuel had numerous people tortured as head of Yahweh's secret police and is hardly any better. Micheal even comes out looking morally superior to Lemuel, since all of his actions were done out of a necessity to save Lemuel and the Angelic host from Yahweh.
Not Using the D Word: In Armageddon???, the denizens of Hell are almost universally called Baldricks rather than demons or devils. They get called demons more often in Pantheocide, but it turns out "devils" are a whole other type of creature that the demons fought in the past.
Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Surprisingly holds up through most of Armageddon for "economy of force" reasons, then averted in Pantheocide: first a nuke is used in an attempt to assassinate Michael but gets "returned to sender", then GEN Petraeus, Human Expeditionary Army (by way of US Army) is actually given release authority over the H.E.A.'s nuclear, biological and chemical arsenal for the purposes of use in Heaven — to prevent modern human military casualties who might then defect to Gaius Julius Caesar's New Rome. Finally, the author revealed that only air filtration (for aircraft) prevented humanity from simply nuking Hell.
One of several contingency plans for attacking Satan's palace, but as the imprisoned Abigor learns, far from the most devastating:
Targeteer: The destruction of Dis would take the lives of nearly every demon living there. It would leave no building standing, and in its wake there would be giant radioactive firestorms. After the fires died, there would be nothing of Dis left save craters; what was once a city would become a charred, radioactive wasteland. Nobody, human or demon, would live there for ten thousand years. We can do that, General. And we would be right to do that, after how your people have treated us in the past... A quick death in nuclear fire is the least that your race deserves... But I warn you, we can be pushed too far for that. This map... is still not the worst we can do. General, if you really anger us, we will try and bring democracy to your country.note That last bit is sarcasm.
The humans managed to slip a nuke onto the cart containing Michael's last drug shipment. He figures it out just in time to kick it back through another portal.
In Chapter 43 of Pantheocide, a Quisling Israeli nuclear submarine operator fed false information to his fellow officers on orders from an angel, causing a five-missile launch at Baghdad, Damascus, Tehran, Cairo, and Tel Aviv... unfortunately, there's only four interceptors, meaning three Arab cities plus either the last one or Tel Aviv. To prevent the newfound human alliance from falling apart, the Israeli prime minister chooses to save Cairo. Fortunately, it seems that an Arab liaison at the command center in Tel Aviv was able to get word of this out before the last missile's payload initiated.
In Chapter 69 of Pantheocide, the initiation of a Glickem cruise missile above a large Angelic army led by "Jesus" is described in minute detail. In case you didn't quite get that, the H.E.A. nuked "Jesus" and his army. Just to be clear, by "described in minute detail", we're talking about "each and every process of a nuclear reaction described, elaborated on, and given in a way that could theoretically be used to make a replica, it's that detailed. It has been simplified by the omission of some key steps and components (standard practice when speaking of such things)... he's since suggested it would be better if readers not try and add the bits missed out:
Stuart: By the way, if people do spot the bits I left out of the description of the physics package, it's probably better not to post them. We don't want to give people ideas.
Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are masters of this trope, and then-President Bush even invokes it to himself when succubi try to have their way with him.
"Jesus" — or rather, Elhmas — pretends to be a stoned, laid-back hippie around Michael and his compatriots, but becomes notably sharper and smarter when he's with his own subordinate.
Oh, Crap: There's enough to go around for all sides:
The Secret Service get one twice during Bill Clinton's trip to McDonald's. First when a woman somehow sneaks past them to talk to Clinton and again when Bill kills her before they see that she is really a succubus.
The Demonic army finally lose their shit when the humans bring out the "Iron Chariots" during the Battle in the Iraqi desert.
Secretary Warner when he meets Luga for the first time.
Luga gets one in turn when she hears that the Demonic army was defeated in Iraq.
The Presidential Bodyguards reacts like this when they hear about Bush wanting to drive a "deathtrap" like the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger.
When Abigor reports his defeat in Iraq and tells Satan about the human's "Iron Chariots", everyone in his throne room is horrified at the return of iron chariots (another one caused them problems a couple of million years ago).
This was also Abigor's reaction when he sees a documentary on the Manhattan Project and realizes that Humanity is toying with Hell when they could deliver more firepower on them than they ever dreamed possible.
"Statistically (as confirmed by the Federal Aviation Administration) 80 percent of cockpit voice flight records recovered after aircraft crashes, end with the words 'Oh Shit.'" (From chapter 60 of Armageddon???; it is indeed a real life statistic.)
Michael's reaction when Elhmas comes back... when Michael is stoned and defenseless.
It's mentioned before he dies that those in Yahweh's throne room developed this reflex whenever seeing Michael walk in, because he inevitably brings news that makes Yahweh go berserk.
One Steve Limit: Notably averted by Lieutenant Mike Wong and the Archangel Michael.
Our Angels Are Different: Extraordinarily beautiful (by human standards) winged humanoids who vary in size and power over 7 ranks, from "Ishim" (human-sized) to "Chayot-ha-Kodesh" (>20 feet tall). They fly with sacs filled with hydrogen in their bodies and use their wings for thrust and maneuvering; they have electrical generators in their backs that let them use telepathy, open portals (with enough power), know what a material is made of at long range, produce the hydrogen to fill their flight sacs, and charge their weapons with electricity for massive damage; they have the ability to know and speak any language, probably from reading the minds of humans with their telepathy; they also have the ability to shoot the sonic equivalent of a laser. They seem to be an offshoot of genus Homo.
Our God Is a Jerk, So We Declared War on Him. Seemingly, he is a highly overgrown angel. Uriel is the youngest brother of aforementioned god; he is able to kill people with his mind, and it can punch through tinfoil hats.
The Rest of Our Gods Are Probably Not Going to Be All That Great. Stuart has confirmed the existence of the Aesir (Norse gods) and the Baals. There is also the faction that kept Julius Caesar from being tormented in Hell.
Our Demons Are Different: They are of the same species as the angels (despite their vastly different appearance) and have the same electrical generator and "tongues" ability. Their electrical generator still allows telepathy and material examination, in all cases. They have a similar 10-rank system to the angels, going from "Minor Demon" to "Lordly Demon". They have wings (usually vestigial), horns, and pointed tails. They either have hooves or clawed feet.
The most common variety of demon has not been given a specific name. Their electrical powers are sufficient that they can charge it into a trident and shoot a bolt of ball lightning over range.
Harpies, also called "fliers" or "flies" by the demons, have about the same electrical power as the basic demons. They are unique in that their wings are not vestigial, and they have gas sacs to fly as the angels do. Since they have hydrogen in their bodies anyway, they can use that to breathe fire. They also have acidic, flammable blood and will explode if hit hard enough. They form the bulk of Beelzebub's legions; hence his name "Lord of the Flies".
Nagas appear as scaled humans with the lower body of a snake. A much larger proportion of their bodies than normal is devoted to electrical generation, and they have four tentacles on their backs with which to shoot lightning or open portals. Their names usually begin with "Yu", and they often speak in Sssssnake Talk.
Succubi produce pheromones which they call "miasma" to induce others to have good feelings toward them. Their electrical generators are no good for combat. Their male counterparts, the Incubi, exist but have not been featured in the story.
Gorgons do not fall under Gorgeous Gorgon. They are the result of an ancient breeding experiment and are (at least) part Naga, part Harpy, and part Succubus. They appear as winged humanoids covered in bronze scales with many one-eyed snakes instead of hair. They have poorer electrical powers than Nagas, poorer flight than Harpies, and poorer spying ability than Succubi. Their head-snakes shoot darts full of psychoactive darts: the red ones shoot enthrallment darts which have Mind Control-like effects, while the black ones shoot paralyzing darts.
Kraken and Leviathan: Krakens are aquatic demons that have not much been described, but form the bulk of Dagon's legions. Leviathans are heralds, 100 feet long with six fins and an ability to shoot super-high-pressure water (not seen in the main story).
Something is different about at least some breeds of herald. Heralds in general are enormous demons used as messengers and for shock value against human settlements. Heralds are a type of messenger of which shooting is not tolerated.
Wyverns are nonsapient, have wings instead of forelimbs, and are able to breathe fire. Belial's breed of wyverns is sometimes used in war, and a much larger gold subvariant is used as Satan's personal aerial escort.
Hydras are seemingly nonsapient, with seven heads and prehensile tails. They are commanded by the demon Minos at the gate where second-life humans come from; they wrap their tails a certain number of times around a newly-deceased human as instructed by Minos (this number determines where in Hell the human will land) and throw them into the Hellpit.
Our Orcs Are Different: They're the native inhabitants of Hell. They aren't as smart as humans but they're still sapient. They are used by the demons as slaves. Their native language, uniquely, is immune to the demons' (and presumably angels') tongues ability. When the war goes really badly in hell, they start lynching their demonic oppressors (when they can).
Overshadowed by Awesome: This happens to a British special forces Colonel sent to reinforce and take over Free Hell during the invasion of Hell. He invokes this after Julius Caesar uses his own argument of "command should go to the highest ranking officer" to take over his troops. Later Caesar did it again with the professional part of the Baldrick army that was about to attack Free Hell with overwhelming force, leaving the enemy general (that had been shown to be quite smart) with his less capable troops and under fire from artillery.
The Plan: A demon plotting against your rivals in a "closed system" (Satan's regime pre-war), is in for surprises when said system that determines the rules is threatened. Somebody on the board summed it up very nicely, by saying that Michael tries to play chess, but the game is Russian roulette.
Plane Spotting: The author (and collaborators) knows his military aircraft.
Portal Network: Being developed and used by the Hell Expeditionary Army to rapidly teleport troops, armor, and aircraft across Earth quickly, effectively shattering the last vestiges of the concept of "front lines" in warfare. Also to some extent the idea behind "Harry Turtleshell's" in-universe Alternate History of the fighting in Iraq, had Abigor brought along his naga.
What ultimately helps the archangel Michael to kill God.
Memnon states compassion to be humanity's most potent weapon.
The Power of Rock: Literally. Both Yahweh and Michael draw power from the ability of minds to synchronize while listening to music.
Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Jade "Broomstick" Kim, one of the first soldiers who died in the war against Hell, has this to say after her and the soldiers she's leading receive military supplies:
Jade: Okay, guys. We don't have to eat. We don't have to sleep. We heal ten times faster than ordinary humans. We're the United States military. Let's go blow up some Baldricks.
Precision F-Strike: The word "fuck" is used as an expletive once and once only in each book.
In Armageddon???, a woman who has just pumped seven .32 caliber rounds into a raging Baldrick without causing it any discomfort replies with "I need a bigger fucking gun" when asked by a journalist how she feels.
In Pantheocide, a Navy nurse (rank Lieutenant) who's carrying blood extender that's desperately needed to save Maion's life tells a general to "Get out of the fucking way".
Punch Clock Villain: "Just doing my job" is a fairly good excuse for most of the demons and angels. An interesting subversion appear however when some demons or angels (particulary Uriel) begin to really hate the humans because they just refuse to do what was expected, laying down and die.
Puny Humans: The Baldricks all tower above most humans, but they learn the hard way that modern weapons tech more that makes up for it.
Anybody sufficiently entranced by a succubus or one of Beilal's seductresses. Also anyone still clinging to notions that humanity wasn't condemned For the Evulz — such as the guy who stabs Richard Dawkins in Armageddon??? or the Expy of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps who gets tied to a truck and dragged to death early in Pantheocide after proselytizing at a military funeral.
Some of the humans trapped in the Slocum Mines of Tartarus try to give a true answer to the Demon's question of where the human's weapons of war are made. Most likely to get better treatment in the hell pits.
There's also Lieutenant Midyan Yitzchak, who tricks the captain and crew of the INS Tekuma into launching nukes at no less than five cities. Four Arab capitals are saved, Tel Aviv is not. Worse yet, as of chapter 48 he's the submarine's communications officer, making him the only connection between Tekuma and the outside world other than the ships or submarines now hunting Tekuma.
Also includes the infiltrator at DIMO(N), who was behind its headquarters being targeted for the Leopard Beast attack.
Rage Against the Heavens: Just in case you didn't notice, this series is a shining example. Unlike most such stories, however, God and Satan have a good reason to be afraid.
Rasputinian Death: Yes, we know it takes a lot to kill an angel, but really the U.S. army goes overboard with Uriel. He's not just the target of so many rockets (including a couple hitting him in the groin, but gets sliced into ribbons by lasers, and his body ends impaled into the spire of a cathedral. Ouch.
Reality Is Unrealistic: A common theme in the stories in general, or at least in Armageddon???, since it goes against a lot of ingrained real-life ideas or fantasies-assumed-as-facts.
A straight example of the trope are some of the complaints that humans are "overpowered" and that the demons' and angels' supernatural abilities are downplayed. Humans are only "overpowered" in the sense that real-life weapons actually can be just that powerful, especially applied en masse. No amount of special quick-healing and damage-absorbing abilities will survive massive barrages of raw firepower; the author's first post in the thread that inspired Armageddon??? pointed out that humanity had by the beginning of 2008 essentially outdone the known capabilities of demons from Hell or angels from Heaven, or even acts of Satan or God/Yahweh, as described in the Old and New Testaments.
Both the Thai General Asanee and the fact that the Israelis lost track of a nuclear missile sub have been lambasted as unrealistic, when in fact Asanee is actually like that in real life, and the Israelis have quite literally lost track of their nuclear missile subs before. The author seems to be of the opinion that the Israeli Navy is actually worse than this (see their Take That entry, though it's mainly about this).
Lakheenahuknaasi believes in James Bond... but not in nukes.
Michael:I'm not your anything. What I am is sick of your posturing and your self-importance. I'm sick of clearing up the messes you make and covering up for your blunders. You're a brainless, arrogant dolt who is drunk with unwarranted power and stoned on unearned adulation. You've caused millennia of grief and misery with your insatiable demands for worship. Now, you've pushed too far and the creatures you play your little games with have decided to hit back. Their worship of you is over, Yahweh. They've got a saying down there now, worship is not owed, it is earned. You've done nothing to earn their worship and you've done nothing to earn mine. So shut up and let me try and fix this mess as well. Yahweh:Michael, you go too far... Michael: Oh no, no I don't. If I wanted to go too far I would call you a apogenous, bovaristic, coprolalial, dasypygal, excerebrose, facinorous, gnathonic, hircine, ithyphallic, jumentous, kyphotic, labrose, mephitic, napiform, oligophrenial, quisquilian, rebarbative, saponaceous, thersitical, unguinous, ventripotent, wlatsome, xylocephalous, yirning zoophyte.note Which is a shout-out to a great book known as "The Superior Person's Book of Words".That would be going too far. But I'm not going to call you that Yah-yah. I'm just going to point out that even Fluffy and Wuffles couldn't stand the sight of you.
Red Baron: When Humanity's modern military's overwhelming power really sinks in Hell, the nobility starts to fearfully give Humanity the moniker, The Lords of War.
The flying baldricks have sacs of some kind gas, light enough to allow them fly and flammable to allow them to breath fire. Unfortunately, it makes their own blood both acidic and catches on fire if it touches baldrick's own skin.
The regular ones have large muscles on their back which makes up for the large amount of energy required by such large creatures, and gives them the power to fire electric bolts through their tridents.
Satan lead one long ago to liberate Hell from Yahweh's control.
US helicopter crews who'd been overtaken during "pre-battle" skirmishes in Iraq end up in Hell after their deaths, but manage to free themselves thanks to their training and, after linking up with "non-undead" US special operations forces, set up a "Free Hell" area using a combination of grunt work, sniper rifles, high explosives, and the strategic and diplomatic genius of Julius Gaius Caesar. Both would form the cadre for the "People's Liberation Front of Hell," which would eventually expand to include first Ori (an Ashikaga Shogunate-era samurai) and Aeneas (one of the "300" Spartans at Thermopylae), other soldiers from the 21st century, to even a veteran of the Battle of Verdun.
Retired Badass: The centenarian Chinese-Korean War vets who manage to fend off a demon attack on their village despite the obvious ravages of age.
Right Under Their Noses: The SAS got into the Eternal City by walking in through the front gate — the guards just assumed they were servants.
This was the point where amateurs always got it wrong. They either overplayed the nonchalant bit or were too obviously trying to avoid detection. The great art was simply to behave the way everybody else did. Anyway, Bodie already had his marker. It was a forgery of course, but that really didn't matter. Once he was through the gate any challenge would be answered by his forged token and the Ishim would assume that it had been issued normally. All humans looked the same to them anyway.
The point of this story is about averting this trope (mostly), although there are a few exceptions, many bronze tridents won't beat one M1 Abrams, and there's still people surprised by the following Curb-Stomp Battle.. General Petraeus puts it best:
Petraeus: Their faith met our firepower. Firepower won.
Played straight in that state of the art jet planes performed poorly in Hell since the polluted atmosphere literally destroyed their engines if they weren't properly filtered. The humans found that piston engined aircraft were not as adversely affected and relied heavily on those in the early stages of their invasion of Hell.
Played straight again with the harpies of Hell's forces. They are fast and come in great numbers, so much so that the US Army withholds air support in Iraq until they are knocked out of the sky and Anti Air guns are need so much to combat them, that old museum pieces are seeing action one final time during the war with Hell.
During the Battle of the Phlegethon River, burning sulfur is able to destroy a human tank.
A form of this is what saves Uriel from four RIM-156 surface-to-air missiles: he's so slow and lacking in "stealth technology" (at least, his "radar cross section" is full size) that the missiles' proximity fuses, designed for supersonic and hypersonic tagets, cause the warheads to prematurely detonate, so he's only horribly maimed.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: The House of Windsor certainly does its part; four named members join or rejoin the military, and others serve with their local Home Service Force Company. Then again, as the Queen points out, if humanity doesn't win it's off to Hell with them all.
The chances of Tucker McElroy's resistance team finding one of the Three Hundred Spartans and saving him from the river of fire are somewhat limited, but no one will deny that it is awesome as hell.
Held to in some cases (mainly tying in with Reality Is Unrealistic), but averted in a lot of other cases though, especially with regards to historical figures' relevance in the present day of The Salvation War. There are a few exceptions, such as Gaius Julius Caesar, Kliment Voroshilov (a Marshal of the Soviet Union) and Peter the Great heading their own proto-states in Hell post-Curbstomp War, but you will not have Robert E. Lee heading a military unit again, Virginian or not.
The discussion in the official threads for this story about the lack of prominent military figures returning to service ties into the underlying plot point about how far humanity has come in so short a time, that even relatively recent (in human history) dead would have outdated knowledge. When Michael's human doctor was consulted about the brain-damaged Scarlet Beast and the Whore of Babylon, he specifically told him that his knowledge was outdated. He's been dead for less than 20 years.
Titus Pullo is almost always confused by whatever Lt. Jade says.
Gaius Julius Caesar really likes radios.
Satan: Apparently the brother of the self-proclaimed god, as well as Uriel. Capable of some kind of telekinesis in addition to the other powers shown.
Science Hero: Humanity. Expressed in-depth during Luga's revelation in Chapter 35:
Humans had stopped accepting what they were told and started asking questions. And, when they didn't like the answers, they'd started arguing. They'd found their own answers and realized there was no place for "magic" and "magery" in the world they were learning about. There were only things they understood and things they didn't understand — yet. Their plastic, their machines, their terrible efficiency at killing, all came from that same desire to understand what they didn't understand — yet... And that was why Hell and all its demons were going to lose this war.
Semper Fi: The U.S. Marines' main visible role in the Curb Stomp War was running search-and-rescue missions for military [KIAs] and deceased, and clearing Palelabor. (There's a few digs at the Marines' expense in Armageddon??? though.) After it's confirmed that the invasion of Heaven is a go, one Marine general directly alludes to the ending lines of the Marines' Hymn: "And it is in accordance with the prophecies." Those lines:
If the Army and the Navy Ever look on Heaven's scenes; They will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines.
Sequel Hook: The mysterious voice that appears in Memnon's head every now and then could be this. It isn't impossible that it was Elhmas but it seems unlikely.
Shoot the Dog: The Don't wake me while I'm quiet side story has The nephilim Likho (Defector from Decadence) and her long-lost daughter Mara (Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds), who get blasted to bits moments after meeting each other again after five centuries mostly because it's the easiest way to deal with the problem they're involved in. It's hard not to feel sorry for them...
The beginning of the story starts out with humans killing off various Greater Heralds that were sent to spread the messages of doom to major cities. Of course, this was less, "They are bringing bad news and must die," and more "GIANT DEMONS COMING FROM NOWHERE! KILL IT!" since humans only learned they were messengers after they were already dead.
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.
They still got off better than the messenger demons who have to deliver bad news to Satan and his generals, though: not having guns to work with, they just crush the messengers' skulls bare-handed (sometimes eating them afterward) instead.
A messenger: (after being told that he had "nothing to fear") That's what they all say... before they kill the bringer of bad news.
Stuart has immense personal and professional knowledge about the military and culture of Thailand. In Pantheocide, this is shown. Ditto for England, as he's actually originally from there.
Is also a large part of the appeal of the story to it's fans; each and everyone piece of real-life equipment is shown in complete detail from its introduction to the part where it blows up something supernatural. There are so many examples of Description Porn that this could be called Shown Their Work: The Series.
A perfect example of this would be Chapter 69 of Pantheocide, where the Description Porn is turned Up to Eleven with the almost lovingly intimate description of a cruise missile-mounted nuclear device initiating over an army headed by "Jesus" Elhmas. When a reader commented that "someone's obviously been reading up on such" but nitpicked that a technical detail was incorrect, the author responded that "somebody has spent his professional life working with the things," and that he'd intentionallybeen inaccurate about one or more details (which is standard practice when writing about nuclear weapons).
Those who lived underneath were humans and they had defied the almighty will of Yahweh. Not just defied it, but broken it and cast the pieces back in His divine face. They had resisted His commandments, their armies had invaded the realm of the Divine Enemy and cast him down. "Blown him up to the max," as Michael-Lan had put it.
When he finally confronts and challenges Yahweh, Michael unloads an alphabetical series of increasingly obscure and crude insults.
There's also this gem:
Michael: No, oh nameless one, Lord and God of all. There is fear yes, but much more anger. In their own strange words, they are royally pissed off. I think the Eternal Enemy will rue the day he tried that action.
"Oh nameless one, Lord and God of all, Uriel-lan has done well given there are so few to snuff out in the area that he resides. Why he will not go to richer pastures, I do not know." Because if he does, the humans will put a cap in his ass, thought Michael, but no need to say that.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Yahweh seems to be following this to the letter, sending gradually more and more potent minions to Earth. Justified in that Yahweh is an idiot and he's being manipulated by Michael. Also, Pantheocide (or at least, the Heavenly campaign within) is more or less following the Book of Revelation to the letter, escalating threat schedule and all, making the sorting algorithm Older Than Feudalism. Since Yahweh is revealed as the kind of guy who believes the legends attributed to Him and imposes their reality on those around Him, completely believing his own propaganda, Heaven is pretty much stuck with an unchanging game plan.
Spotting the Thread: After Lemuel learns that he was addicted to drugs without his knowledge at the Montmartre Club, he starts paying a lot of attention when Maion mentions who owns the club.
Straight for the Commander: Hell is heavily geared towards the power of their leaders. Human armies (both "normal" and Second Life) soon begin to follow this trope.
Straw Character: Surprisingly averted generally, given how reality-based the series is, and how opinionated the author is. This may be the only story in history that simultaneously portrays Clinton, Bush, and Obama as three decent, reasonable fellows. Of course, the restraint isn't infinite — as mentioned above under Jerkass, Karl Rove barely qualifies as human, and Robert McNamara has a spot in the Ninth Circle of Hell reserved for him by name. (While this last one may be excised from a published version, the author's beyond-contempt for McNamara can be seen in The Big One-verse.)
Straw Hypocrite: Almost every Islamic terrorist leader refused to follow The Message's order to lay down and die, revealing themselves to just be using their religion and their followers for their own political ends. Implicit in the story is that most fanatic leaders acted the same way regardless of religion or political affiliation. (Note that Phlops also did not lay down and die on command, but he is but one of several who genuinely believe that they were specially chosen from on high to be spared from this command; the difference is, the infiltrator at DIMO(N) really was chosen, by Michael himself, Phlops on the other hand was just that full of himself.)
Stupid Sexy Flanders: Michael-lan is so damned beautiful he even makes a straight male human sniper leave off shooting him for a few seconds.
Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Subverted and played straight. This is basically the role angels and demons played in Biblical times. In the present day, however, they are most definitely Insuffiently Advanced. Once the story is underway, it's the humans who are Sufficiently Advanced.
The massive leaps in human technology — particularly weapons technology — came as a nasty surprise to the demons, who expected a Curb-Stomp Battle. They got one, just they didn't expect to be the ones getting curb-stomped.
Also applies to the use of Sarin on harpies and Belial's use of portals and magma chambers as WMD. The first destroys entire legions (but unfortunately cripples some Russian troops), the second only manage to piss off humanity really bad and destroy Detroit and Sheffield.
Heaven has been dropping these on humanity here and there, with the various Bowls of Wrath. Some have been strategic annoyances, i.e. anthrax that kills only Nephelim. Others, like the Seventh Bowl, which consists of gigantic rocks dropped through portals, or the various Beasts have proven to be a lot nastier.
''Only one person present didn't like her and that was the woman who had complained about eating meat. Lugasharmanaska eyed her and wondered, purely academically and without any intention of actually trying, what she would taste like.
"I can honestly say that Her Majesty's Armed Forces have no covert operations groups stationed outside The Eternal City." (Emphasis added)
Also, in chapter 84, Michael leaves one for Colonel Stevenson: "Most everybody thinks you killed him. Oh, not you personally, you humans. He was in command of the Incomparable Legion of Light when it was nuked. The Host is certain that he died there."
The Swear Jar: Any time one of the researchers looking for a gateway to Heaven wishes aloud for Einstein/Feynman/insert-Nobel-Prize-winner-here to magically appear and help them solve a particular problem, they cough up a couple of bucks. Last Friday of the month, everyone goes out drinking with the cash.
Take Our Word for It: The content of The Message. We're only told the effects it had on the world's population, not the actual Message, though some chapters do give some indication of it. The only part we really see is the very first two sentences of the story. Justified as the writer figured that he couldn't really do it justice by writing it down.
Lieutenant-Commander Michael Murphy: You don't suppose it could be... 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....
"That would be Michelle McManus, Sir, almost a different species I'd say.
Karl Rove also gets this big time, and there's a jab at Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as Secretary of Defense (the author later elaborated on this in discussion), but it's averted for the most part with both the Bush and Obama administrations. The author hasn't elaborated on the in-story Gates' abrupt dismissal at the beginning of Armageddon???, so it's unknown whether the circumstances of that were meant as a Take That.
The United Nations is often Lampshaded as being a completely irrelevant and powerless global entity.
There's also the depiction of the Israeli military as both disturbingly incompetent and only appearing successful due to having mostly faced opponents that somehow managed to be even worse. They manage not to cock up the raid that takes the Minos Gate (though unfortunately also killing Second-Lifers who had just arrived and had yet to regain consciousness), but in-universe they also have a reputation for reckless both on the road and with their fire "discipline," and the Navy... oh boy. The cliffhanger that was the disappearance of the nuclear submarine Tekuma? Sure, the Tekuma's communications officer is a traitor and the submarine's only human connection with the outside world, but on General Command Headquarters' end it turned out that an earlier watch at GCHQ had not updated the submarine's contact report since early in their watch, so when the watch shift changed the subsequent staff removed it (as outdated) from the plotting board, but then when the shift changed again, the staff after them didn't realize that the Tekuma was no longer on the board. As the classically-trained but hapless General Marosy put it:
General Marosy: I've heard of things like that happening. I never thought I would actually be present to see one. If somebody was to write that into a novel, nobody would believe it. Yet you imbeciles have done it, not once but twice? Give me strength. Have you people learned nothing in the forty years since you last pulled something like that off? Then you just shot up a ship belonging to your only ally. Now, you've mislaid a nuclear-armed submarine?
Abigor prowls some message boards and finds someone who had trolled the story's host site, arguing that a bullet to the head is not an efficient way to kill someone. The same message board had him wondering if humans can really destroy a star...
Talking the Monster to Death: The messenger demon send to Russia gets shot up but survives, which is followed by a local politician starting to recite Putin speeches about how awesome Russia is. Even the military commander pities the messenger.
Tank Goodness: The awesomeness of tanks and the deadly efficiency and effectiveness of mechanized warfare are repeatedly brought to notice, and tank tactics are detailed realistically. That effectiveness is magnified by the fact their enemies have no clue as to what they are and how to fight them. The tanks appearing in the story are all Real Life machines of course; they're already good enough for fighting the Baldricks, without needing to adapt as much as infantry (who needed new, heavier weapons) or air power (which had some problems being deployed to hell, since jets couldn't take the dust & grime).
Techno Babble: Subverted when Carl Friedrich Gauss plays himself up as a clumsy, scatterbrained genius who deliberately creates a flood of "demented nonsense" in order to provide Michael with the excuse needed to take an assault team to the spot he needs it to go. He knows and cheerfully admits that his entire speech is mathematical babbling.
The refitting of pretty much every aircraft from the last fifty years to fly again (among them the American B-29s Enola Gay and Bocks Car plus B-52s (called the "Gray Ladies" by the USAF) from the Davis-Montham boneyard), the mass conscription to fill out the ranks, the arming of pretty much every remaining civilian of earth for the duration of the war, and that's not getting into what the Legions of Hell do to Sheffield and Detroit later on... The refitting looks like overkill only up until you see the entire force of B-2 bombers get taken out in the opening of Pantheocide, and in Armageddon??? the times when the demons' sheer numbers almost did turn the tide. Oh, and it gets worse: the angels weren't nearly as doomed in the air. From the looks of it, all of this mobilization is actually needed.
It takes two S-35 Progress ship to ship missiles to kill Satan.
Token Wholesome: Exploited in Pantheocide where the infiltrator at DiMO(N) is spotted by her overly conservative clothing.
Tower of Babel: Near the end of Pantheocide, Petraeus muses on how the Tower of Babel story where Yahweh cursed humans with multiple languages was an attempt to prevent them from uniting against him, similar to what they were doing right now.
Aeanas stared at the scene with cold fury. He did not angrily demand that they throw caution to the wind and charge in to save the children, a hot-blooded rage that blinded its victim to common sense would have called for that. Instead, stone-faced, he watched the merchant empty his wagon, pack up his other trinkets, and be off down the rutted dirt road. So did Cassidy and McElroy. There would be a time for vengeance, a time when debts like this one would be paid but this was not it. Three humans attacking 300 Baldricks with edged weapons was simply a way to die. Or be thrown back in the lava streams.
Lemuel has a moment of "cold fury that he had not known for millennia" when he finds that Onniel has beaten one of his servants unconscious for obeying him over her, culminating in her getting publicly repudiated.
"Yahweh had gone beyond raving anger. He was now possessed by a cold, deadly determination to destroy the opposition to him that had so suddenly and unexpectedly erupted."
Translator Microbes: Something about the spawning process in Hell also makes people able to understand each others' speech.
Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: Anyone who dies winds up in Hell, normally starting off in a river of lava, a river of tar, or any other number of horrible places. If they're lucky, they get dragged out by some other lucky escapees... or the U.S. Marines.
Trigger Happy: The Israel units are constantly mentioned to have this problem and are kept away from more delicate operations.
Uncanny Valley: Invoked with a rather mysterious man only know as the Targeteer, notable for being creepy by the standards of Abigor, a former Grand Duke of Hell. His level of creepiness is best summed here, after he just left a room:
He glanced at the door after the man, then looked again. He could have sworn those plants were green and flowering before the man had come in.
While originally speculated to be an Author Avatar, he was later revealed to be a tip of the hat to Don Brennan, a friend of the author, who managed to have his entire lawn die in 3 months. All of it. Hence the in-joke that he could kill a plant just by being in the same room with it.
Unperson: Abigor is one for Hell from the moment he is sent on a suicide mission for his failure, and until the humans bring him to rule there.
Unskilled, but Strong: Yahweh is described as this when he fights with Michael. Due to being so much stronger than anyone else, he's never learned the need to finely control his power, using far more of it than necessary.
Unstable Equilibrium: Discussed in Pantheocide. When the humans try to resist Uriel via their willpower, they are told that they cannot afford to take any losses or else the survivors will get disheartened, which will allow Uriel to kill more of them, which further weakens the survivors, locking them into a Cycle of Hurting.
Unusual Euphemism: In an interesting example, given that the situation has rendered standard religious expletives obsolete, we are treated to a tank commander (and later on, some of the forumites) swearing by General Dynamics Land Systems, the company that made her M1 Abrams.
A recursive one via the succubi: Luga never expected George W. Bush to out-charisma her. The White House's anti-gas grenade vent system diffuses her natural pheromones, and thus she gets tapped to play her mistress Deumos for one of these. Deumos in turn is suckered into thinking that the humans agree to give up one third of their dead for demon torture in return for an end to the war, to the point that she actually believed that that was why the humans seized the area of Hell where the newly dead arrive. Abigor lampshades how much of a dumbass Deumos has been. She later got her brain squeezed inside-out and her face burned by the exhaust from a missile for her trouble. She does not survive her injuries. Turns out that she was in the same room as Satan when the anti-ship missiles were portaled in.
Michael-lan is aware that his "street-corner pharmaceuticals" aren't really "the good stuff," but thinking that the electric trolley the Myanmar junta gave him to haul them with (Pantheocide Chapter 10) is just a gift. The first one was. The second one, however... let's just say it had a very high boom quotient.
The entire Myanmar military is played for one in an attempt to keep the Human Expeditionary Army busy fighting on Earth. However, Gabriel-lan underestimated how far humans had come with teleportation technology, so the would-be war is very quickly wrapped up. At the same time Kim Jong-Il is almost tricked into the same plan, until his son talks him out of it. The plan not only fails, but backfired spectacularly. The entire conflict basically proves the H.E.A.'s newfound dominance over Earth, as well as sending the message that the H.E.A. was capable of defending its members, pulling the allies even closer rather than driving them apart like the angels intended, and getting North Korea to finally sign up for the war effort in so doing. They really had no way of knowing it was even possible, much less that the humans had achieved it. It also helped that the humans foresaw the angels trying to pull this tactic.
Poor Lemuel. Michael gets him hooked on drugs and seduced him with a heroin-addicted angel prostitute leading to Lemuel divorcing his wife — which itself appears to just be a ploy to turn Lemuel against Yahweh in order to keep as much of Heaven intact as possible when the humans roll in to invade. To quote one of the posters in the commentary thread, "Michael is playing Lemuel like a fiddle." Lemuel eventually put two and two together regarding his addiction to opiates and Maion's addiction to heroin, once the human doctors discover the drugs in their blood....
Belial was Hell's resident Evil Genius and the only demon lord who actually did any appreciable damage to humanity. In Pantheocide, Michael tricked him into running a concentration camp which was supposedly established by Yahweh, and set things up so that said camp will be the first thing the human armies come across when they enter Heaven. Needless to say, humanity is pissed the fuck off when these camps make it onto the news.
Most apparent between the demonic mindset (born of a brutally backward medieval and anthropophagic society where backstabbing is common) and the modern human mindset as noted by several characters in several different instances.
Also present in the thoughts of Aeneas (a Spartan) and Ori (a samurai) regarding the fighting styles of, and presence of women among, the modern-day soldiers who rescued them from Hellish torture.
Another was Corporal (deceased) Tucker McElroy having to mentally fight down the instinctive prejudice he was raised with when he found out kitten was a transsexual — he succeeds.
This becomes a complication for the humans in Hell and has already gotten the Russians busy in Pantheocide. It's led to a split between the living and newly dead as opposed to the rest of the dead, to the point that the Human Expeditionary Army is actually guarding the demons from their former victims:
The people on Earth had been cheering their armies on, and still were in some senses, but the film of the battlefields in Hell had stunned them. Especially the scenes along the Phlegethon River with the piles of mangled Baldrick corpses that went on for square mile after square mile. For perhaps the first time, they realized the incredible disparity of firepower that had existed between the human armies and the Baldricks. The sight of the dead where the Baldricks had tried to fight tanks with bronze tridents had changed opinions in a subtle but very marked way. Humans now pitied the Baldricks who had stood so little chance and had died not even understanding what it was that was killing them. It was rumored that change in attitude was also causing trouble in Hell, with the refugees from the pit unable to understand why the newly-dead from Earth should be sickened by the slaughter they'd inflicted.
It's also a problem for those in charge of training the new demon auxiliary military units. Demons, used to marching in large infantry formations and a lifetime of backstabbing, have absolutely no concept of supporting fire. To demons, they don't see why they should stay behind and put themselves at risk to help a rival unit that can steal all the glory.
Robert E. Lee experiences it when he tries to learn modern warfare techniques... from a black, female soldier. He often gets all his men wiped out in simulations, and between them can only plead his century and a half of torture in Hell be seen as sufficient penance for his My Country, Right or Wrong beliefs during the war.
Also applies between modern humans and those who were so pious as to get into Heaven — when COL Stevenson's new unit (Spearhead Battalion, 3rd Armored Division) kills off the resident angel in a village, the new "native chief" is one such human... who promptly requests to be allowed to carry out daily reverence to Yahweh:
Benedict: We have much to be thankful for. We live in comfortable homes that are ours to keep. No soldiers come to burn them down in the night. We have our fields to tend and our crops to grow and they do not get trampled down or stolen. We have clothes to wear, all we need to eat and much more besides. We live our days in peace. Truly, is this not the Paradise we were promised?
That's how bad this trope hits the demons — they learn exactly how absolutely horrible modern human weaponry can make warfare. Made worse by the fact that they absolutely don't know or understand what is hurting and killing them.
Lampshaded in passing by a second-lifer dead at Verdun, who joined Hell's La Résistance and kept amusing his colleagues (intentionally) by bombastically saying how much worse Verdun was compared to Hell. Even worse, with second-lifers being able to heal from almost anything that doesnt kill them — even moreso than the demons and angels — and being bothered by close to nothing else, he is right.
Unfortunately, as the sarin showed, they're not the only ones on the receiving end.
As of Chapter 70 of Pantheocide, the angels know it now... those that remain, anyway, for however long they have.
But it doesn't help the demons, mostly because humans weapons are justthatpowerful, although in particular engagements it almost does.
Subverted for the angels. While their army is absolutely massive and actually outnumbers the demons, their extremely low fertility rate meant losses were much harder to replace and they took a more cautious approach to warfare.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Michael could probably be considered this, considering that he recognized the total clusterfuck that Heaven had become, and everything he did was with the intent of saving his race.
What the Hell, Hero?: In Pantheocide, Judge Candlass calls out a pair of FBI agents who tried to take advantage of the fact that human laws did not yet take into account the hormone-aided mind-projection abilities of succubi by using the aid of a succubus during the interrogation of a quisling. The wording he uses makes this a Crowning Moment of Funny. Making this better is that the readers got to vote on whether the quisling would be found guilty, given the method by which her confession was induced. They overwhelmingly voted for "not guilty", despite knowing full well that she was. However, the prosecution then claimed that they had evidence not derived from the interrogation.
Her tame human had shown her the invocations of "goo gul" and "wiccan pee-dee-ah", which had revealed to her a treasure trove of secrets. The last was protected by an insidious spell that caused her to constantly lose track of what she was looking for, flipping from page to page until she was reading irrelevant nonsense about "collectible card games" and "Sonic the Hedgehog".
Woman Scorned: While Lemuel is not cheating on his mate, Onniel, she is violently pissed at how much he is neglecting her for his investigation. As of chapter 48, he is now, complete with "officially" becoming a patron for a heroin-addicted Montmartre Club dancer/hooker and buying a place for his mistress, then kicking her out after she attacked a servant. Unfortunately for her, she's been kidnapped, used while mentally upset as the scapegoat for Maion's being thrown into a concentration camp, and was brutally tortured before rescue finally came.
Word of Dante: In-Universe. For simplicity's sake, Hell is largely as Dante described it. It's stated in-story by a demon that they gave him a psychic tour.
Wrong Genre Savvy: When the invading demon general hears about the artillery that devastated his vanguard, he counters by having his soldiers use suppressive fire to disrupt the human "mages". He asks his soldiers to use lightning bolts against tanks with EMP hardenings. The tank's crew barely feel anything.
You Need to Get Laid: Michael states a couple of times that Big Y would have been much nicer had someone hooked him up with a good dominatrix.