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Posted on Mar 8, 2006 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 16] – Special Forces ‘R’ Us

By A J Summersgill and Jim H Moreno

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Starring:

Doctor Sinister

Doctor Sinister. An evil Supervillain with an insane lust for power. From his secret island base, the Doctor plans to become future Emperor and Warlord of the planet Earth. Enjoys the company of cats and cloned genetically modified Dinosaurs.

And featuring:

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.

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EPISODE 16 – "Special Forces ‘R’ Us"

It is a bright but cold day on the southern coast of Sinister Island and the sun shines forlornly over the gigantic Imperius Military Base that occupies several square miles of land along the seafront. Lines of black-clad soldiers on a dozen parade grounds are collectively harangued by bellowing Sergeant Majors as they march up and down in their various formation drills.

Slowly but surely, the armed convoy escorting Doctor Sinister’s private jet black limousine with black striping glides through the base, finally stopping outside Sinister Barrack complex 239.

Five minutes later, outside the penthouse apartment of one General Menace…

Doctor Sinister: Knock knock! Can I come in?

(There is no reply from inside, so without further ado, Doctor Sinister holds his robotic hand up to reveal a master key protruding from one of his metal fingers. The key is inserted into the lock and Doctor Sinister enters. Once inside, he looks around the room with interest. It is immaculately maintained, tastefully decorated, with fine velvet curtains bordering the panoramic windows on either side of the apartment. Exquisite paintings and antique weapons hang from the walls and glass display cabinets are lined up everywhere. In one corner, a small kitchenette and dining room is laid out in pristine fashion next to a fine bookcase containing hundreds of tomes on military history. In the centre of the room, two leather-bound sofas sit on either side of an ornate glass coffee table by a roaring log fire. Piles of neaty arranged magazines are sitting on top of the table. Off to one side, General Menace is standing next to an ironing board, where he appears to be straightening a pair of khaki underpants with an electric iron and listening to an iPod)

(Very loudly) Good afternoon General!

General: (Looks up from his ironing, startled half to death) Aaaarrrggghhh!!

Well, not quite the greeting I was expecting, but it’s good to see you too.

(As General Menace removes his headphones and stares aghast at Doctor Sinister, two Siamese cats sidle into the room behind him and stare hungrily at the General before disappearing behind a display cabinet.)

Aaaarrrggghhh!!

You said that already.

But…but…I’m sorry my lord, abject apologies of course, it’s just that, you’ve never come to the base before.

Well, there’s a first time for everything.

(Nervous.) And…it is my week off.

Well, I was bored and I didn’t think you’d mind.

How could I…

This is quite a nice abode you have here. Oh I say, you have a dog!

(A short bulldog is poking its nose through the door from the bedroom to see what the commotion is all about but it is almost instantly set upon by one of the prowling cats. The dog runs back into the bedroom and there is thunderous crashing sound)

Erm, yes, that’s Sherman. He’s probably my best friend. Ahem, present company excepted your Eminence.

(There is an ominous sound of scratching and one of the velvet curtains suddenly falls to the floor, followed closely by a cat which sneaks away sheepishly)

Well, erm, yes, I like it very much your Excellency. Living atop one of the barracks buildings means I can be close to the men, which is good for morale. It’s also spacious, with generous facilities, well built and of course I have a lovely view of the coast on one side, and an excellent view of the main parade ground on the other.

(There is a crash from the kitchen area and General menace whirls around to see the white blur of one of the cats streaking out from under a pile of broken plates)

Good to hear it General. Mind if I take a seat? (Doctor Sinister slumps onto one of the leather sofas and kicks his feet up onto the coffee table sending the neatly arrayed copies of "Cigar Aficionado" magazine flying all over the floor)

Argh! My magazines! (General Menace scoops up the crumpled magazines and folds them back into shape before reverently placing them on the table furthest from Doctor Sinister) Sorry your Supremacy, but these magazines mean a lot to me.

Cigars General? I never knew you smoked?

(With great effort) Yes Sir, in fact, we have had this conversation before, but for various reasons, you’ve never been able to find me a supply.

Oh well, you should have said. I’ll order some up for you now…

There’s no need my Lord, I have, in fact, only this morning received a delivery of hand-rolled Cubans. (The General heads to a cabinet by the window, pausing only briefly to see one of the cats running away from a suspicious yellow stain on his pristine white carpet. He opens the cabinet and removes a large wooden box from one of the shelves before heading back to the Doctor) You see my Lord, an entire box of the finest Cigars money can buy. I am planning to treat myself to the first one very shortly. It’s been a long time…

Well that sounds simply marvellous. Perhaps you can light one up to toast my latest plan!

(With an imperceptible roll of his eyes, General Menace carefully places the cigar box on the coffee table) As usual my Lord, I am all ears.

I had a great idea to improve the quality of our armed forces. And I thought you might like to assist me with the interviews.

Well, alright, I could pop over to the HQ for an hour or so but…

No need General – I spared you the effort. (Doctor Sinister turns to face the door) OK, number 1! Come on in!

(The door opens and a short figure dressed wholly in a black pyjama suit and hood stealthily enters the room, scanning all around until finally standing to attention before the Doctor and the General)

General, I’d like you to welcome Colonel Hanzo, a new recruit to the cause.

Erm, pleased to meet you I’m sure Colonel. My Lord, what is the aim of this?

Colonel Hanzo is a Ninja warrior. He’s also well-trained in the art of the Samurai sword, Judo, Karate, Kung Fu and Aikido. He’ll be a good all-rounder for the Black Berets.

The what my Lord?

The Black Berets – didn’t you get my memo’? I sent it an hour ago.

Well, no your Excellency, we haven’t had the post yet, and anyway, it’s my week off, as I said.

Well, never mind. The Black Berets is going to be the new name for the special forces.

Special forces? When did you decide on this?

I figured that it’s my Army, so it should be "special".

Oh right, so you’re forming some kind of Commando unit? That’s a very good idea…

Commando unit? Oh no no no no no, the entire army will become special – super-elite in fact.

But that’s impossible – you can’t train an entire army to the level of modern-day special forces. You can certainly have an elite detachment, but not everyone is able to reach that level. Frankly, some of our newest recruits don’t know one end of an assault rifle from the other.

Other nations have special forces…

Yes, but that term doesn’t apply to everyone in their entire army – it just means the best of the best. Modern day special forces are small units relying on close teamwork, specialised equipment and self-sufficiency and are only selected after the most rigorous training.

Oh, I see. I guess I’d better cancel that order for 20,000 balaclavas then.

Chin up my Lord, we can still try some people out for the elite detachments.

Well that’s just capital! I’m glad you’re getting into the spirit of the thing. Yes indeed, we will have the best of the best for our Army, people with the greatest skill, the finest traditions, people like Colonel Hanzo. Colonel Hanzo, show the General what you can do.

Wait! In here, your benevolence? In my apartment?

No time like the present General, you’ll love this…

(The General and the Doctor step aside as Colonel Hanzo unsheathes the Samurai blade on his back, whirling it around his head in a fine display of swordsmanship before lunging forward and effortlessly cutting down the remaining curtains in a single swipe. As the Colonel leaps around the room, he swishes the sword back and forth, knocking ornaments and displays to the floor before the sword is finally embedded in the centre of the sofa on which Doctor Sinister had been sitting. In a final stunning display, three shuriken throwing blades emerge from one of his sleeves and thud into the wooden panelling either side of General Menace’s head)

Oh bravo, bravo!!

…my curtains…my ornaments…my wall…

Don’t cry over spilt milk General.

(The General walks over to a shattered picture frame on the floor) This was a photo of me with General Norman Schwarzkopf from Operation Desert Storm! He even signed it for me. Look, this once said "From your pal Norm’, I couldn’t have done it without you". Now it’s just ruined…

I’ll buy you another one. That was a fabulous display don’t you think?

Well, frankly no my Lord. I’ve seen better – with all due respect to Colonel Hanzo, he’s a bit of a caricature don’t you think? Ninjas didn’t really wear black you know. And you want to form entire detachment of these people? Twirling swords and fighting curtains is all well and good, but our enemies use bullets my Lord, and more powerful weapons too.

Oh, very well then, point well made. I had a suspicion you might say something like that. Colonel Hanzo, you may leave. Come in number 2!!

(The disgruntled Ninja leaves, and is replaced by a tall, suave gentlemen in a pinstripe suit sipping from an elaborate cocktail)

And who is this?

This is Commander Fortescue, ex Royal Navy and formerly of the British Secret Service. He has a licence to kill and is an expert in all forms of espionage.

A spy?

Yes! And a crack saboteur. Commander, you may demonstrate your skills.

Erm…hang on a moment…

(Fortescue immediately proceeds to a large painting on the wall, which he pulls on one side to reveal that it is actually a hinged door disguising a safe beneath. He deftly withdraws a small amount of a soft putty-like substance from his elegant suit which he moulds around the door to the safe. Two wires are then plugged into the putty and with a quick smile to the watching audience, the Commander withdraws to a safe distance before flipping open the top to his watch which contains a sophisticated digital display. He activates a button on the watch and there is a sudden white flash and a deafening roar. Smoke fills the room and, as it clears, the General and the Doctor can see that the safe has been blown wide open. Unfortunately, the contents are now smouldering ash. Fortescue stands with a wry smile, his cocktail completely intact)

Superb! Simply superb Commander! A fine example of your talents.

Erm, that safe wasn’t actually locked your Majesty…

It wasn’t? Oh well, maybe that explains why everything inside is on fire – but you must admit, the man has talent. I hope it didn’t contain anything valuable.

Twelve million US Dollars…my nest egg…

Ah.

My Lord, this man is clearly incompetent, I don’t know what films you’ve been watching but spies aren’t the glamorous superheroes they’re made out to be. They certainly don’t wear designer suits, sip cocktails and use expensive gadgetry – your common or garden spy is usually some lowly operative with access to sensitive information who gets corrupted by the lure of money. And before you ask, no you can’t form an entire detachment from this sort of person either.

But you said bullets – this man has a very nice gun…

Your Superiousness, if you’re going to form some kind of elite unit, you need more than a man in a suit with a pistol. You need an entire detachment of trained soldiers bristling with firepower and the knowledge to use it effectively. Elite forces down the years have been men of honour, guile and determination. Take the British Commandoes, formed during the Second World War – they were able to inflict devastating losses on the enemy out of all proportion to the size of their units. Or look at the modern day Green Berets, or the SAS who were so decisively used in the Iranian hostage siege in London – well-trained, disciplined men with superb training and the equipment to strike all around the world and in a precise manner.

In that case, you’ll love this. Number 3 – come on down!

(Commander Fortescue leaves, still sipping his cocktail as the huge form of a fully-equipped soldier walks in. Festooned with equipment and weapons, he is covered in camouflage paint and carefully placed items of foliage. He carries a large Minigun in one arm)

Yes, you see, this is what I mean…

Excellent! This is Captain Connor who has come straight to us from the US Army Green Berets. Captain, let’s have the demonstration please…

Oh no, really, there’s no need…

(The air is suddenly filled with the crescendo of gunfire as the Captain unleashes the full power of the Minigun on the apartment. Bullets spew out at 500 rounds a minute, devastating the walls, floor and ceiling of the living room, blowing out the windows and smashing just about everything left standing. Eventually, after what seems like hours, the ammunition runs dry and the gunfire stops)

Excellent! That seems to meet your criteria completely! I think we’ve got our first successful candidate!

(Part of the ceiling collapses as General Menace surveys the carnage)

I…I just don’t…it’s…

I think we’ve had a very productive afternoon.

Well, if nothing else, at least my Cigars are safe…that’s one thing that I…MY CIGARS!!

(Doctor Sinister turns to see one of his cats sitting astride the box of cigars, heartily chewing on one of them)

Get off! (He sweeps the cat from the box with a swipe of his arm, but catches the box as well and, as the cat leaps free, the box flies into what remains of the open hearth of the roaring fire and the cigars are totally consumed)

My…cigars…

(There is a sudden commotion and the General is thrown to his feet as a startled Bulldog thuds into his chest, followed swiftly by an enraged Siamese cat which lands on his face, claws tearing into his cheeks as the cat struggles to get free so it can pursue the dog once more. Eventually, the cat does loosen itself and it continues its pursuit of the dog around the apartment. The petrified dog leaps from one item of ruined bullet-ridden furniture to the next, its terrified barking filling the air before it makes one final leap – through the now non-existent window and ten storeys to the ground. There is a moment’s silence, before the barking starts again. General Menace exhales a sigh of relief at the sound, but there is a sudden screech of tyres, the sound of a car horn, topped off with the crash of breaking glass followed by total, deafening, silence)

My…dog…

(The two men stare at each other for what seems like an eternity)

Right then. (Looks at his watch) Thanks for inviting us around, I’ll let you get back to the ironing. (to the cats) Fox! Dana! Come, we’re leaving.

(Doctor Sinister leaves, with Captain Connor and the cats in tow as General Menace, amidst the total ruin that was his apartment only ten minutes before, begins very softly to cry)

A J Summersgill and Jim H. Moreno

andrew@armchairgeneral.com

jim@armchairgeneral.com

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