By Moe Lane


It all started, innocuously enough, with the Halls of Progress. You'd be surprised how often it all starts with the Halls of Progress, actually: even before the Archangel of Creation's little walkabout, that Cathedral was known for producing some very interesting changes to the social dynamic. Now that Lightning has been assigned some of the more exuberant of Eli's Orphans, well...

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. As stated earlier, the entire thing started with Jean and his Recreation and Diversion division. They had been tooling about with...

I detect surprise. I can't really see why: of course Jean has a division dedicated to the design and creation of toys. The utility of play in fostering healthy physical, mental and emotional exercise has long since been demonstrated to any objective observer: Jean would be seriously remiss in his duties if he were to ignore any area where his Word would be a benefit to either Heaven or the corporeal plane. Besides, objectively speaking, it is much more sensible to not permit Vapula to do all the work in this field, no? Now, if I may continue...

Thank you. As I was saying, Jean's Recreation and Diversion division had come up with what they thought would be a killer application. Using a couple of scientific laws that humanity should discover about 54.576 years from now, one particular team had developed a new type of ground-effect vehicle. Utterly silent, capable of approximately 800 mph, height ceiling of about a mile and a half ... and utterly disdainful of anything so pedestrian as 'inertia'. These things were fun - and, better, safe (a side effect of the inertialess drive).

Needless to say, said team had made up a few of them to play with. Now, considering the odd physical laws in Heaven, they could do this without ever leaving the Halls of Progress: Jean's got one open area 'inside' that's roughly the size, of well, Delaware. Cubed. Perfectly secure, right? Alas, there's a rule: never wave a personal vehicle capable of breaking Mach 1 in front of a Servitor of Creation's nose. Or in front of a Servitor of the Wind, actually. Now that I think about it, don't do that to any Ofanite, either.

And, if you've done the above to an Ofanite of Creation IST the Wind, you might as well just hand over the keys and be done with it.

The Breakout was a scandal to the jaybirds: Jean doesn't really mind when his Servitors occasionally hoist a few beers from time to time, but sneaking in three kegs is strictly forbidden. Considering that said kegs made the idea of taking a fleet of supersonic Inertia Screamers and buzzing the Seraphim Council chambers seem a really cool idea, this is probably wise. Nobody got hurt, of course: this is Heaven. Still, the embarrassment to Lightning was severe ... especially when Jean couldn't confiscate all of the Screamers in time. Not all of Eli's Orphans work for him, you understand.

Yes, I'm afraid so: hundreds of thousands of angels and blessed souls looked upon these devices, and found them good. The first homemade Screamers took to the ... well, sky ... barely a week later. Right now, it's the latest craze.

Interestingly enough, the Powers That Be aren't actually too upset about this: they've seen it before (there was one century where you couldn't see the sky for the flying carpets), and again, this is Heaven. Nobody's going to get hurt, after all. Besides, the blessed things only worked on the celestial plane. The Council simply brushed off the old traffic regulations from the aforementioned flying carpet episode and delegated the War Faction to organize the inevitable drag races and aerial jousts. Everything's maintaining an even strain.

Now, of course, what Heaven has Hell imitates, immediately. Vapula, after he finished kicking himself, started doing his own version of Screamers: unlike the Other Side, Hell was quite pleased when a pack of Magpies managed to steal a few. This way, artificers that weren't incurably insane would reverse-engineer them. Once they started making their own (and once both sides started making versions that would work in the ethereal plane), things started getting odd.

Bearing in mind that Hell doesn't have any restrictions against violent activities, it is amazing how similar Divine and Infernal Screamers are. Both versions look like an abstract sculpture of a motorcycle, done in quicksilver and bronze. Up to two people can comfortably sit on a Screamer (although the contortions are a bit odd for those with non-humanoid celestial forms): larger versions are fairly uncommon, but known. The latest Divine Screamers are faster (Mach 4-equivalent, as opposed to the Mach 2.5 which is Hell's current speed record), but Infernal Screamers are armed and armored. Heaven is experimenting with a military Screamer for ethereal use, but it'll be a while before they get the bugs out.

This affects tactics in the Marches, of course. Heaven's Screaming Angel Squadrons (Windies, Laurencians and Michaelines to a celestial) specialize in quick lightning raids, relying on superior speed and shock value to disrupt demonic communications and campaigns. Opposing them is the Just Hell's Brigades (mostly Baalites and Magpies) who try to force engagements where their superior firepower and armor can be most effective. So far, neither side has been able to seize the initiative: whether this is due to the fact that neither side has many ethereal-capable Screamers, or just because that both Beleth and Blandine are actively opposing increased Screamer operations in the Marches, is up to the GM.

Divine Screamer - Speed: Mach 4-equivalent (or, 'really bloody fast'). Carrying capacity: 2 angels with a bunch of really cool hand ranged weapons that can do ethereal damage. Protection 10, Hits 48: every 8 hits done to the vehicle reduces the Protection by 1. Both types of Screamers regenerate 6 hits per day on their own, if not completely destroyed. Requires a Driving roll to operate ... and the normal Driving skill won't cut it, here.

Infernal Screamer - Speed: Mach 2.5-equivalent (or, 'not quite as fast, but he'll still be able to get a couple of shots in before you zoom away'). Carrying capacity: 1 demon with a lot of grenades. Protection 15, Hits 75: see above for ablative properties of armor and regenerative tendencies. Mounts a Really Big Gun (Power 12, Accuracy 2, Range line of sight) that does ethereal damage, and a couple of Rockets (Power 16, Accuracy -1 [damned Vaputech], Range Line of Sight) that do celestial damage. Requires a Driving (Screamer) roll at -2 to operate, -4 if firing weapons.


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