The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 38] – The Future
Editor’s Note: The Incorrect Art of War is one of our oldest continuing series of articles here at Armchair General. Episode I was written all the way back in November 2004, giving us a full five years of Doctor Sinister and General Menace as they try to take over the world and educate us on what NOT to do when it comes to military strategy. Each episode comes complete with the antics of our heroes as they try to survive a dangerous world of spies, secret island bases, and nukes – and each includes a serious lesson about military history. We invite new readers to take a look back at all 37 previous episodes and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we do. If you love them or hate them, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com. This will help us plan for future articles, which may or may not include supervillians, cigar-smoking generals, and prissy cats. Maybe you could write the next series with your own ideas?
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Many thanks to Andrew Summersgill and Jim H. Moreno for bringing this series the distance. And now, please enjoy this final installment of The Incorrect Art of War.
[Episode 38] – The Future
An evil Supervillain with an insane lust for power. Resurrected after saving the world from a power mad supercomputer, Doctor Sinister is finally master of the Earth and the entire human race. Enjoys the company of cats, cloned genetically modified Dinosaurs and people who say “yes” all the time.
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 a previous incarnation of Doctor Sinister to command his New Model Army of World Domination. Has a penchant for cigars and Alyssa Milano.
EPISODE 38 – “The Future”
22:00 Hours, Sinister Central Time, July 12th, 2029.
Waves gently lap against the sandy shore of a well-maintained beach as tall palm trees slowly sway in the breeze of the night. A full Moon shines clearly down onto the tranquil scene as the silent shadow of a jetliner briefly passes in front of the suspended silver orb.
On board the plane, with lights dimmed and most of the passengers quietly sleeping, an elderly man in a smart military uniform gazes down on the island below and smiles to himself. He runs his eyes along the twinkling lights that adorn the settlements along the coast, and finally settles with a long stare at the bright glow emanating from the centre of the island a few hundred miles distant.
As the plane banks to land, the man neatly files away his paperwork in a slim briefcase and grabs his cap from the adjoining seat. Six gleaming stars shine brightly on the cap, which he settles onto his head with a satisfied sigh.
Thirty minutes later, General Menace, head of the Combined Earth Armed Forces is being whisked away in a lengthy cavalcade of official vehicles. His destiny…to meet his boss, and friend, the absolute Ruler of the Earth and Emperor Eternal, Doctor Sinister.
01:30 Hours, Sinister Central Time, July 13th, 2029.
General Menace stands alone in the luxurious elevator as it speeds smoothly ever higher in the five-mile high central spire of the Imperial Sinister Victory Command Complex. He stares at his reflection in the mirror that covers the entire back wall of the elevator and brushes away imaginary pieces of dust from his lapel. His eyes glance briefly at the array of gleaming medals on his uniform and then he catches sight of the wrinkles around his eyes. He leans closer to the mirror, judging every inch of his face, wondering when he got so old, before catching himself. Best not to get too melancholic. Despite all the odds he had, after all, survived this long.
The elevator comes to a swift halt and the doors slide effortlessly open onto a massive living room tastefully illuminated at one end by a large fireplace. Deep carpets cover every inch of the floor, works of art are arranged on the wood-paneled walls and there is a sense of warmth and homeliness. The middle of the room is dominated by a sunken circular white-leather sofa, set into the floor itself, with a massive holographic television screen at one end. Smaller screens surround the sofa at head height.
Perched on the seat, flanked by two Siamese cats, is a tall elderly man with streaks of grey in his otherwise black hair. He wears a smart black suit, a leather glove on one hand and an eyepatch on his left eye completes the ensemble. It is Doctor Sinister.
Doctor Sinister – Good evening General, what’s the news?
General Menace - The news is good your Excellency, the rebellion in Africa has finally been quashed!
It has? Oh marvelous, I thought it would never end. How did you resolve the problem?
I arranged for the Sinister Air Fleet to make several low passes over the rebel strongholds…
Oh good! And you bombed them to smithereens?
Well, not quite My Lord…
You dropped Napalm on them?
Parachuted down elite troops to mop them up?
Definitely not my Lord.
So what did you do?
We dropped several metric tons of SinDollars on them.
You… paid them off?
Exactly right your Sagacity. We made them all super-rich and they agreed to lay down their weapons and go home.
Well, that’s inventive…I suppose.
It seemed prudent my Lord, I thought we’d had enough destruction back in the war, it would be a shame to start it all again.
If you say so.
My Lord, since you became Emperor Eternal, there is no power on Earth that can stand up to you. I think you can afford to be a little more charitable in your…
You were going to say ‘in my old age’ weren’t you? Admit it!
Not at all your superiousness, I wouldn’t dream of it…
Yes you were, you think I’m past it. I’ve heard what some of the staff call me – “The Old Man”. Just because I don’t go out any more and I spend my time watching thirty-year old TV shows, suddenly that makes me “old”. Well I won’t stand for it…you hear me? (Doctor Sinister stands, there is a sharp crack, and he sits down again) Bugger!
Bad hip again?
Not at all, probably trod on something…
My Lord, calm down, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, getting old. I mean, look at me. I should have retired years ago. (Under his breath) But you wouldn’t let me. Maybe now I can look forward to retirement…
I need you by my side General, you’re the only link I’ve got to the old days. You remember the old days? When we were trying to conquer the world? We made a heck of a team.
Actually my Lord we spent most of the time arguing. You had some pretty hair-brained ideas you know.
Oh really? Well I don’t see you complaining now. Look where my “hair-brained” schemes got us! Mastery of the Earth! Yes, it took a while and some good people had to, erm, disappear, but we’re here now. More than ten years of absolute power General! How long is it since the Americans finally surrendered?
They threw the towel in on June 27th, 2018 my Lord.
Yes, on Leader Day no less! My birthday! A tribute to my magnificence!
Well, more of a reflection of the fact that you kept lasering their cities from orbit my Lord, but I’m happy to concede that it made a nice birthday present…
And since then – peace! Aside from the occasional minor uprising…
Minor? Sagacity, I’ve been in Africa for 6 months.
Really? Has it been that long? Yes, I suppose it has, but then I did spend most of it watching my Mini-DVDs of “Lost”. Six whole seasons – and who would have guessed that it was all just a dream? Amazing…that’ll teach the conspiracy nuts to try and make sense out of a load of gibberish. Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that without your help we couldn’t have done it. Europe under heel, Asia in my absolute power, America worships me like a God. And you helped to no small extent General.
And with humanity united, with all war ended, we were finally able to sort out all that global warming business. Not to mention the Martian Colony, which you’ll be interested to hear is doing rather well. You see? Less bickering means mankind gets more done. We have no famine, no territorial disputes, no disease, education for all, I’m so brilliant it scares me…
(There is silence between the two men, each deep in their own thoughts.)
And yet. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not missing something in my life.
My Lord, why do you appear so down? Are there problems in the Empire?
No…no problems General.
Australasia is still under heel is it not?
Absolutely. They finally rolled out the new currency with my face on it. Looks very nice.
Vanquished utterly and in my thrall. I hear that the penguins keep building statues to honour me. The Polar Bears aren’t fighting me, so I guess you can call it mine.
Then what’s the problem my Lord?
Yes Bored. There’s nothing to do. I make the occasional speech, open a mega-market here and there, launch the occasional ship and order the odd execution or two but it’s all so boring. Everyone does exactly what I say, I never hear the word “no” any more and I’ve got someone to clean up after my cats – I feel strangely unfulfilled. Even Leader Days are dull, no-one buys me anything because I already own it all. Someone dedicated the new Moonbase in my honour the other week but I pointed out that it was already mine so that kind of put a bit of a dampener on the day. I thought about increasing the height of this tower by a few more miles, just to cause consternation, but the engineers said it wouldn’t be a problem and to give them a call whenever I wanted it done. Where’s the fun in that?
(Stifles a yawn) I don’t know my Lord.
Am I boring you?
No no your Excellency, but I am tired after my flight, perhaps we can discuss this in the morning?
Oh, sure, I ought to turn in myself. The guest quarters are free, you can sleep there. I promise not to let the cats get to you.
Thank you my Lord. Goodnight.
(The two men head to their respective sleeping quarters as the lights dim. Left on the huge sofa, the two cats look at each other and nestle down for sleep.)
* * *
04:15 Hours, Sinister Central Time, July 13th, 2029.
Soft padding. A slight click and a small holographic screen comes to life as a computer program is loaded. Hurried typing. The sound of a cat mewing curiously. Another click as the screen is switched off and then darkness once more…
* * *
07:23 Hours, Sinister Central Time, July 13th, 2029.
General Menace is awoken by the raucous sound of an alarm blaring through his skull. He reflexively grabs the communications console by the side of his bed but it is unresponsive. Cursing to himself, he quickly dons his uniform and checks his sidearm before opening the door and peering through the tiny gap.
Outside in the corridor, Doctor Sinister stands with a strange look on his face, suitcase in one hand, cat in the other, with the second cat sat on his shoulders.
Come on! We’ve got to get going!
Our security here has been breached. Someone deactivated the defence protocols and sent a message to a resistance outfit. They’ve already gained control of the outer perimeter and it will only be a matter of time before they are in the tower. We’ve got to go!
I don’t understand…what resistance outfit? What…what’s going on?
I’ll explain on the way, come on, we’ve got to take the stairs – you carry this. (Doctor Sinister hands General Menace the suitcase, it is astonishingly heavy. The two men head to the stairwell and begin a long descent.) It’s all very odd General, during the night, it appears that a previously unknown resistance group was able to gain control of a military base here on the island, and they are currently attacking the tower. Our men were caught completely off-guard, command and control has gone to pot and, well basically I don’t hold out much hope for our chances of survival if we stay here. It’s the end of everything General!
My Lord, this is impossible, there are no resistance groups, there is no enemy, this tower is virtually indestructible and all we need to do is call in reinforcements, or use the laser satellites. Why are we running? And where to?
No time to explain General! We’re here! (Having descended several floors, Doctor Sinister stands before an armour-plated door. He places his hand onto a palmprint scanner and the door slowly creaks open to reveal blackness beyond.) Chop chop! In you go! (General Menace struggles with the case into the room as lights come on automatically, sensing the entry.)
But this is…
Exactly! It’s where we keep the Time Projection Unit! We’re escaping in time!
My Lord? Why? Why are we escaping? What’s the point? It’s far from lost here, aren’t you overreacting a little?
We’re going to begin again General! Just think of all the good schemes we had back in the day. Imagine what fun we’ll have doing it all again! But we need to hurry…
My Lord, stop. Just think about this for a moment. You’ve got it all right here, right now. You’re throwing it all away for nothing.
General…take my word for it, we’re finished here in 2029, time to try our luck somewhere else. Now I’ll fire up the equipment, you, well, you just wait there.
(General Menace stands where he is told, confused and pensive, and then…)
Hang on! It’s you, isn’t it? You’ve set this whole thing up haven’t you?
(Doctor Sinister is engrossed, pulling levers and setting switches) Pardon me?
There is no resistance movement, no attack, just a false alarm. You’re bored, you said so yourself. This is just a bit of excitement to get the adrenalin flowing isn’t it?
(Doctor Sinister pauses and throws a final lever. There is a slow hum of building energy as he looks the General in the eye.) You’re partially right General. Yes, you know I’m bored by this whole running the world thing. I thought it was what I wanted, but I was wrong. It turns out that it was the thrill of the chase that really got me going. The mad schemes, the secrecy, the plotting. Building an underground organisation. Running from the authorities. Don’t you see General? It’s just no fun any more! I AM the authorities, there’s no secrecy, no thrill, just tedious paperwork and adulation. I need conflict, I need fear, I need a challenge.
And so you’re running away from everything you’ve got here to do it all again?
I’m running to the future. I figure we’ve studied the past enough. It’s time to look ahead, not back. Learn new lessons, correct the incorrect art of war for the people of the future and teach them how it’s done. Just me, my cats, and you. If you’ll come. Are you with me?
I’m too old your Excellency, too old and too tired to run any more. We’ve got it good here. Let’s just enjoy it while it lasts.
General. I know you too well. You wouldn’t have stuck with me for all these years if you didn’t enjoy the pursuit of victory as much as I did. We both know it wasn’t the pay. I need someone reliable with me. I need General Menace. If for nothing else than for someone to argue with.
(There is a long pause as the two men stand looking at each other, an incessant whine of unimaginable power increasing in ferocity from the equipment around them. Then, with a determined breath, General Menace pats his breast pocket to check that his cigar case is with him, and nods to his Liege.)
OK. Let’s do it. Where are we going precisely?
(The two men step onto the TPU platform, General Menace lays the suitcase beside him and the two cats clamber on top of it.)
That’s part of the fun General. I don’t know. I’ve set random coordinates so we could end up just a few years in the future, or hundreds of centuries ahead. All I know is that it will be fun! Who knows, we might even make it back here one day.
And with a sudden flash of light, the podium was empty. Doctor Sinister, General Menace, Fox and Dana were on their way.
And so ends the Incorrect Art of War for Armchair General.
But fear not brave reader, for this was only one version of Doctor Sinister. In this multiplicity of universes, even now, other examples of our “hero” are skulking around, scheming, performing misdeeds and generally getting up to all sorts of evil…
You just need to find him…