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Posted on Feb 26, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 27] – Spies Don’t Like Us

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 original secret island base was seemingly destroyed, the Doctor spent some time on the run and now occupies the defunct Mount Cheyenne facility in Colorado where he still plots to become future Emperor and Warlord of the planet Earth. Enjoys the company of cats, cloned genetically modified Dinosaurs and people who say "yes" all the time.

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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. Narrowly escaped the apparent destruction of Sinister Island and runs the Cheyenne Mountain facility with his lord and master. Has a penchant for cigars and Alyssa Milano.

EPISODE 27 – "Spies Don’t Like Us"

Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries echoes through the cavernous bedchamber of Doctor Sinister as he stands on the bed, waving his arms rapturously as if conducting the orchestra. As the operatic section kicks in, the Doctor opens his mouth and sings along, albeit he is completely out of tune, and doesn’t know the words anyway.

In the corner of the room, two Siamese cats sit and glare at their master, wishing they could cover their ears to keep out the cacophony.

With the music reaching a crescendo and as he clashes virtual symbols, something suddenly catches the Doctor’s eye and he stops abruptly. Grabbing a sheet, he jumps off the bed and hurries to the door where he throws the material to the floor and appears to wrestle something inside the sheet. He leaps up…something is indeed struggling in his hands, and with a swift movement, he tightens the blanket around it and smashes it against the wall…where it becomes still.

Fuming with rage, he storms off down the corridor to the control centre of the Cheyenne Mountain facility to see General Menace giving a tutorial to some new Sinister Incorporated technicians.

Doctor Sinister: General, I must see you at once!

General Menace: Certainly Excellency. (General Menace turns to the cadets) We’ll resume this later…you might as well head to the canteen, this might take a while. (The two men head to an empty console)

General, this is intolerable, I thought you said we’d got them all?

Well, I was sure we had my Lord…don’t tell me…

Yes, I found another one – skulking around in my room, MY ROOM!

May I?

Sure… (Doctor Sinister hands the crumpled sheet to the General who slowly opens it up to reveal a shining chrome metal spider inside, about three inches across, and rather smashed)

Hmmm, these ones are sneaky, it must have avoided the detection equipment – I’ll get a team on it rightaway.

I do hope so General, for all our sakes – when we liberated this facility, you never told me it was being bugged by the US Secret Service.

Well, to be fair, it’s probably not just the secret service, there’s the FBI as well…

Oh that’s just great, let’s declare an open day shall we! Come and see the insane one-eyed lunatic and his useless General! I wouldn’t be surprised if we weren’t still on that reality TV show.

Well, the Americans did build it my Lord, I would be surprised if they didn’t leave something behind to keep an eye on the place.

Fantastic – next thing you’ll be telling me that our adventures are being serialised on a monthly basis and appearing on a website!

It’s possible…

I just don’t get what’s going on – I mean…metal spiders?

Yes, I agree, it does seem rather more sophisticated than I would have expected, this is the fifth spider we’ve found in the last month, they seem to be able to go anywhere – and they are equipped with powerful video and audio transmission equipment…I just wish I knew where they were coming from.

Well it’s not good enough, I was engaged in an important telephone conference with President Bush when I found this thing, it could have overheard everything.

Really? What did he say?

Oh, you know, the usual, how fearful he is of me, how much he respects me, that kind of thing…my future Presidency is essentially a given.

Wow! I’d sure like to hear that conversation.

Well, alas, it’s lost to the world now, thanks to this dratted spider.

I wonder…

What?

Perhaps we can plug the memory module from this spider into H.A.T.E. – see if he comes up with anything, and it’ll let me see how much the President fears you.

(Alarmed) Well…let’s not be hasty…

No, it’s OK, I think we need to do this, perhaps we can identify where these things are getting in, pick up the receiver for their signals, and jam it. (The General removes a tiny memory card from inside the spider)

General, really, it’s OK…

(General Menace heads to the large display screen at the end of the room and speaks to the main viewer)

H.A.T.E, have you been listening?

+++ CONFIRMED +++

Open an interface port. (A small hatch opens in the wall, General Menace locates the correctly sized port and slots the card into it) Run memory, most recent images first. (Turning to the Doctor) We can backtrack its movements better that way.

+++ CONFIRMED +++

(On the main viewer, a dark and grainy image appears)

Oh dear, it’s not working, what a shame, turn it off…

No no, my Lord, it’s dark because it’s showing us the last image it saw – and it was inside a sheet at the time. H.A.T.E, spool back at double speed.

(The picture speeds up to show Doctor Sinister leaping backwards onto the bed to the reverse strains of Wagner and then shows him conducting his pretend orchestra)

Big fan of Wagner is he?

Who?

The President.

(Embarassed) Shut up. H.A.T.E, spool back, four times speed.

(General Menace looks askance at the Doctor)

Sorry my Lord, whatever you get up to in your own quarters is none of my business.

It wasn’t me, it was my robotic arm, it’s not been itself lately, I think it could do with a service.

Of course Excellency, whatever you say. (Under his breath) I bet you could do one heck of an air guitar…

What was that?

Oh, nothing my Lord…

(The footage changes again to show a large white mass of hair)

What’s that?

I’m not sure, slow the recording please…

(The camera speed slows as the spider pans across the white mass, suddenly, a huge blue eye appears on the monitor, then a dark nose and mouth)

Soooo…is that the President?

I’m warning you General…

Sorry my Lord.

You know, I really must get my cats’ teeth cleaned…

(The image changes again as the spider crawls around the room, then briefly changes to show Doctor Sinister walking around the room wearing a pair of Superman underpants)

My Lord…

Say nothing. I mean it. Spool back – twenty times speed!

(The two men take seats as the footage becomes a blur of rocky ventilation shafts and occasional darkness)

You know, this takes me back…

It does? Spent some time in the air ducts did you?

No Sagacity, I mean back to the days when spying was all the rage – the Cold War.

The Cold War – ah yes, I read about that once, those Eskimos were mighty tough.

Eskimos?

Yes, you know, the chaps who fought in the snow – pretty cold there if I recall correctly.

My Lord, I’m not really sure the Eskimos have fought anyone.

Oh. I’ll scrub that idea off the list then. (He removes a notepad from his tunic and uses the pen built into his cybernetic hand to scribble some lines out on one page) What were you talking about?

The Cold War lasted for about 45 years after the end of the Second World War. Back then there were two Superpowers, the USA and the Soviet Union, each armed to the teeth with conventional and nuclear forces, diametrically opposed, each one determined that their way of life would prevail over the other. Most conflicts during the Cold War had one side or the other poking their nose in and stirring the pot. What’s more, during the Cold War, espionage was big business, imagine what they could have done with robotic spiders back then.

Not a lot if they were frozen…

No, my Lord, it was named the Cold War because both sides were rather frosty toward each other, not because it was, literally, cold.

I was going to say, because what with the global warming and everything…

Sigh…yes my Lord. My point is, that if they’d had robotic spiders back then, incidents like the shooting down of a U-2 in 1960 would never have happened.

I didn’t know U-2 had been around that long…Bono looks really good for his age doesn’t he?

Excuse me my Lord, I just have to pop to the little boy’s room…

(The General walks stiffly out of the command centre and is careful to close the door behind him. A long wail of anguish is heard before he comes back in and sits down again. The Doctor is oblivious and staring into space)

New Year’s Day, that’s my favourite U-2 song. Yours?

Majesty, I think you’ll find the band was named after the spy plane. In the late 1950′s, the USA would regularly send U-2s over the USSR to spy on their activities. They flew faster and higher than any interceptor so could invade Soviet airspace with impunity, until the Soviets shot one down on May the 1st 1960. The pilot, Gary Powers, was on a mission to inspect ICBM installations – the Americans denied any intent to spy of course, but it all got rather messy.

I see. So where do Bono and The Edge come into all of this?

(The General holds his head in his hands, just as the image on the screen changes from a rocky ventilation shaft to a view of a large underground building)

Aha! Look General, the spider reveals its source!

Pause the screen! (The image is frozen) Hang on, I recognise that building, it’s one of the lowest buildings in the whole mountain complex – it houses the logic circuits of our friend H.A.T.E. here.

Which means…

H.A.T.E. is the one spying on us all the time – he’s working for the enemy!

+++ STATEMENT INCORRECT. +++

Really? Then explain yourself you bucket of bolts.

+++ YOUR MISSION IS TO CONQUER THE WORLD. +++

Correct.

+++ THIS UNIT IS PROGRAMMED TO ASSIST IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE. +++

And inventing robotic spiders is your way of helping is it?

+++ FIELD TRIAL OF NEW EQUIPMENT. PLEASE STATE YOUR ORDERS FOR THIS UNIT. +++

(Doctor Sinister and General Menace sit down and look at each other)

Is there anything this machine doesn’t do? It can help us win wars and invents its own equipment to allow us to spy on our enemies.

Kind of scary huh?

On the contrary, it makes our lives a lot easier – for one thing, I don’t need to pay it, for another, I’ll never lose a set of keys again.

Erm… I suppose so. And I guess we could do more than invent spiders, I mean, in the Cold War they had all sorts of outlandish equipment. One is reminded of the hollow nickel coins used by Soviet spy Rudolph Abel to transport microfilm. In World War 2, the predecessor to the CIA, the OSS, came up with numerous secret items for spying. In 1960 the CIA hatched a plan called Operation Mongoose to assassinate Fidel Castro by injecting an untraceable poison in his favourite brand of cigars. (Shudders) Man, I hate to see good cigars go to waste.

H.A.T.E, your orders are to mass-produce these spiders – by the end of the month, I want every world leader under 24 hour analysis. I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth General – it’s time we re-established ourselves as a world power and took what is rightfully mine! Oh, and have that memory card wiped!

(Doctor Sinister sweeps from the room dramatically and closes the door behind him. General Menace looks at his watch and waits patiently. The door opens again and the Doctor emerges)

My Lord, to save your blushes, I shall pretend that you didn’t just walk into a closet.

Thank you, General.

(Ten minutes later, Doctor Sinister sits astride his bed, once more conducting his orchestra through the entire Ring Cycle, a huge beaming smile on his face…while in the command room, General Menace pockets a small memory card with a wry chuckle)

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Where will the metal spiders be deployed next?

What else is H.A.T.E. capable of?

And is President Bush really a cat after all?

Find out in the next incredulous 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!

Operation Mongoose

U-2 Spyplane

U-2 (Band)

Gary Powers on Wikipedia

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