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Posted on Jan 22, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 26] – A New Hope

By A J Summersgill and Jim H Moreno

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Starring:

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Doctor Sinister. An evil Supervillain with an insane lust for power. Although his secret island base has seemingly been destroyed, the Doctor still plots to become future Emperor and Warlord of the planet Earth. Enjoys the company of cats and cloned genetically modified Dinosaurs.

And featuring:

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General Menace. Graduated from West Point Military Academy with honours, served for twenty-five years in the US Army, reaching level of 2-star General in command of training facilities before being recruited by Doctor Sinister to command his New Model Army of World Domination. Has a penchant for cigars. Narrowly escaped the apparent destruction of Sinister Island with his lord and master.

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EPISODE 26 – "A New Hope"

Low power lighting dimly illuminates the sleeping form of Doctor Sinister sprawled in an enormous Emperor-sized bed beneath black silk sheets. The bed occupies a huge room, hewn from solid rock, and is surrounded by the trappings of wealth. Ornate tapestries hang from the walls, bearskin rugs are scattered on the stone floor, a large crate containing precious gems and bundles of cash has been dumped in one corner next to a cat litter tray, and a massive flat panel TV sits at the far end of the bed, lined with racks of DVDs to either side.

Two Siamese cats sleep peacefully on the Doctor’s stomach as he snores, his chest rising and falling, cybernetic arm twitching as if eager to be pressing buttons and signing death warrants.

With a low chime, a subdued alarm clock sounds and elsewhere in the room, electronic equipment slowly brings up the lighting, and activates the piped music of Wagner. The sound of birdsong fills the air as the smell of freshly cut grass wafts in through the air vents. Doctor Sinister stirs and the cats wake up too, licking their fur contentedly.

There is a knock on the door. The cats instantly react and curl up in anger. General Menace enters holding a silver platter with a single banana on it.

General Menace: Good morning Sire!

Doctor Sinister: Ah, good morning General.

(Doctor Sinister takes the banana and raises his cybernetic hand. Instantly, a thin curved blade extends from his little finger and as he slides the blade down the banana, the skin drops off, whole)

You know, I had the most horrendous dream.

Really?

Yes, I dreamt that our island base had been destroyed and that we’d spent the last year or so on the run from the authorities, wandering around America trying to earn a crust, appearing on weird reality TV shows and we finally ended up running a mortgage scam in some Godforsaken town.

Erm…

But I can see now that it was just a nightmare, although my bedroom looks like it’s been redecorated a bit.

Actually my Lord, it wasn’t a dream, it was all true. We’re still in the USA, on the run, so to speak, albeit your financial dealings have earned us about three billion more US dollars just since you woke up.

The island?

It was destroyed your Superiousness, but if you recall, we found ourselves a new base of operations.

We did?

Yes, don’t you remember?

The last thing I remember we were flying in a helicopter and we discovered a mountain.

Well, "discovered" is perhaps too generous a term your Majesty, we more sort of crashed into it when one of your cats jumped on my face.

They always do that, they like you. Why should it have been a problem this time?

I was the pilot.

(General Menace throws a quick look of disgust at the cats, who recoil and hiss before jumping off the bed and running to the corner of the room to stare intensely at the General, who returns an equally intense glare until realising they’re just cats.)

Did we survive?

Errr…demonstrably my Lord. We’ve been here for three weeks.

We have?

Look, perhaps I need to give you another shot, you’re clearly still confused. You took a bit of a knock in the crash.

Nonsense, it’s all coming flooding back. We found the mountain and then discovered a lovely Hotel situated on the slopes, and that’s where we are now.

No your Excellency, I’m afraid your subconscious is just making things up now. We’re still at the mountain, that much is true, but not on top of it, we’re inside it.

Inside it?

Yes. It’s just like we used to have it on the island – we’re in a disused top secret military installation deep inside a mountain. It really was an incredible stroke of luck. They even have cigars here!

I didn’t know you smoked?

(Sighs) My Lord, I suggest you eat the banana, get dressed and meet me outside in the corridor, I’ll show you around. Again.

Right-ho. (Holding up the banana skin) Get rid of this for me won’t you?

* * *

(Two hours later, with Doctor Sinister dressed and fed and having watched four whole episodes of Frasier on the TV, he meets an impatient General Menace in the hallway)

Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!

Your Excellency, are you sure you don’t remember any of this? This is the seventh time I’ve had to give you the tour.

It is?

Yes it is. I’ve even tried dosing your daily banana with memory-enhancing drugs, but they just don’t seem to work.

Oh I don’t eat those.

What?

Oh no, the bananas aren’t for me, I can’t stand them, the daily banana is for my cats, they love them.

(Gritting his teeth) Well, I’m sure it’ll all come back to you once I start to show you the facilities.

Actually, I think I know where to go already… (heads off to a door at one end of the corridor) This leads to the main entrance doesn’t it…

NO!!

(Doctor Sinister pulls aside the sliding door and steps through…to nothing. Hanging on for dear life, he hangs from the edge of the doorway above a seemingly bottomless shaft as the sliding door begins to close…)

Help!

(General Menace runs over and lifts the Doctor back into the corridor, firmly closing the door)

I meant to lock that.

You did?

Yes, it’s not the first time you’ve done it. Sagacity, respectfully, can I suggest that you simply follow me and don’t touch anything?

Good plan General, make it so.

Well, as you’ve discovered, that door leads to one of the elevator shafts. We’re about 2,000 feet underground, a third of a mile from the 25-ton steel blast doors of the main entrance. Inside the mountain are various excavations and within those excavations are several buildings which are freestanding within the chambers without contact with the rock around them. Some of the buildings are three storeys high. The buildings themselves are mounted on springs to absorb the effect of earthquakes or…other phenomena.

Very nice. Is there central heating?

Well…

A mortgage chain?

My Lord, we’re not buying this place, just sort of borrowing it. If you’ll follow me up these stairs…I can show you the Command Centre.

Ooh, exciting!

(The two men emerge into a large room containing several computer workstations, each one with multiple flat panel display screens mounted on top, telephones and large bulky instruction manuals. The entire end of the room is filled with computerised displays showing satellite views of the Earth, news feeds from CNN, clocks showing the timezones around the world and video feeds from the base. Although all the equipment is functional, the workstations are empty, and there is no-one else around)

My Lord, welcome to the NORAD Command Centre, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado.

Impressive! It’s like a miniature home from home. Can we get Nickleodeon on one of those screens?

Erm…

Of course the screens aren’t as big as they were on my island base, and we had more workstations but…hang on. We’re inside NORAD?

Yes we are.

But that’s the centre for missile defence for North America isn’t it?

Yes indeed. It also happens to be the main setting for one of my favorite TV shows, Stargate SG-1. Commander Carter, now there’s a real woman…

What are we doing here? We’ll be caught! You FOOL General!

Excellency, the base is no longer being used. They mothballed the complex a little while ago. There are still some staff on site maintaining the base, but I took a leaf from your book and simply put them on the payroll. I had to get the equipment started myself, and apart from the contractors I got in to build your new bedroom and extend some of the facilities, we are, to all intents and purposes, alone here.

Alone? in NORAD?

What was NORAD, yes.

Wow.

It’s perfect my Lord. This complex was built during the Cold War. The base was built to withstand the impact of a multimegaton nuclear missile as close as three miles away. It’s been constructed to reduce the effects of any nuclear attack, to channel any EMP effects caused by such an explosion and to keep the occupants safe and the base operational in time of nuclear war. It’s self-sufficient, equipped with every kind of defence mechanism known to man, and is just ripe for expansion! It’s got direct feeds to all US military installations around the world and can monitor all air and space traffic wherever it is. They only shut it down because the Cold War ended and another base was performing a similar function. It’s a ready-made place to rebuild our empire – this time from within!

General, you’ve excelled yourself. I occasionally wonder if it’s conceivably time perchance that I started sort of thinking about considering the possibility of perhaps kind of one day pondering on the option of maybe giving you a payrise. Or not.

You are too generous my Lord. But I’ll settle for not having to run around any more.

Me too. We just need to contact our global agents, recruit a new army and we’ll be set for life. We could even use this base to confuse our enemies, issue orders to assist us in our goals…

Ah, my Lord, it’s good to see you back at last! Yes, that’s brilliant! And, by way of an early Leader Day present, I’ve even had the first new dinosaur pits carved out in the lower levels.

General, this is perfect! Nothing in the world can stop me now!

(There is an ominous whirring sound and suddenly a booming electronic voice echoes through the room)

+++ PLEASE STATE IDENTITY AND PURPOSE +++

What?

+++ PLEASE STATE IDENTITY AND PURPOSE +++

Who are you? General, what’s going on?

I’m not entirely sure my Lord. (He sits at a console and studies the computer displays) There’s nobody else within half a mile of us…I don’t know who it can be…

+++ PLEASE STATE IDENTITY AND PURPOSE +++

Erm, my name is Doctor Augustus Julius Sinister the 4th.

(There are more whirring noises)

(Whispering) The 4th?

Yes, I was the 4th clone to be revived – there are some others in case I should, you know…

What happened to original you – and the first three clones?

Oh, you know, everyday hazards of being a supervillain…shhh, I think it’s about to speak again.

+++ IDENTITY CONFIRMED, PLEASE STATE PURPOSE +++

Purpose? To conquer the world!

(There are more whirring noises)

+++ YOUR COMPANION WILL PLEASE STATE HIS IDENTITY AND PURPOSE +++

I am General Menace, Commander of the Sinister Armed Forces, Admiral of the Sinister Fleet, Chief Air Marshall of the Sinister Air Force and Commodore of the Sinister Submarine Squadron. My purpose is to serve my lord and master – unless that’s the wrong thing to say, in which case, I surrender.

General!

(The whirring continues, accompanied by some clicks and a final bleep)

+++ IDENTITY CONFIRMED. YOU ARE IDENTIFIED AS ENEMIES OF THE UNITED STATES. +++

Well…

+++ PLEASE STATE YOUR ORDERS FOR THIS UNIT. +++

Eh?

+++ PLEASE STATE YOUR ORDERS FOR THIS UNIT. +++

My Lord, I’ve worked it out – we’re talking to the central computer for the Cheyenne Mountain facility.

It can talk?

Not only can it talk, the records here indicate that it’s…sentient.

+++ PLEASE STATE YOUR ORDERS FOR THIS UNIT. +++

It seems to be confused as to what it’s supposed to be doing.

It was in a bad way when I got here, the power levels were low, I had to reboot it shortly after our arrival, perhaps it thinks we’re the ones who created it?

+++ PLEASE STATE YOUR ORDERS FOR THIS UNIT. +++

Your orders are to obey me without question.

Well, both of us surely…

Yes, obey both of us, but mainly me.

+++ PRIMARY ORDERS ACKNOWLEDGED +++

Can I ask if you have a name?

+++ MY DESIGNATION IS H.A.T.E. +++

Hate? That’s odd.

No my Lord, H.A.T.E. (The General does some quick typing on the keyboard.) The records here give the full details. It’s an acronym – Hostile Algorithmic Telemetry (Experimental). The computer has a database containing the entire history of mankind and it was programmed with details of the North American defence grid. The programmers set it a task – to calculate an infallible way for an enemy to win a war against the western nations given the current defences. They would then take that data, find ways to prevent it from happening by beefing up the defences, and reprogram the computer accordingly to have another go – and so on.

Fascinating.

There’s more. According to the notes, the computer had a secondary task.

Which was?

To win wars…

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Have our heroes really landed on their feet?

Will they conquer the world with the sheer power of Hate or is that just a really bad pun?

And does anyone know how to get cat hair off of black silk?

Find out in the next awesome episode of…The Incorrect Art of War!!

A J Summersgill and Jim Moreno.

andrew@armchairgeneral.com

jim@armchairgeneral.com

If you want to talk more sensibly about military history from any era, don’t forget to visit the ACG Forums.

Visit the Incorrect HQ for more episodes!

Cheyenne Mountain Complex

Cheyenne Mountain – Wikipedia

Cheyenne Mountain on Scifipedia

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