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Posted on Jun 6, 2006 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 19] – All Washed Up

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. 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:

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 19 – "All Washed Up"

The sun beats down relentlessly on the seemingly endless expanse of the North Atlantic. Shallow waves, taking a rest in between storms, bob up and down in a gentle rhythym.

As soaring seabirds fly majestically over the tranquil scene, they are startled by the sudden appearance of a bright orange cylinder which noisily bobs to the surface in a spray of foam and bubbles. As the birds wheel around in confusion, a hatch opens on the cylinder and a small tinfoil sail deploys from an extending aluminium pole. The sail immediately fills with the breeze and the cylinder is propelled along the surface of the water.

Meanwhile, aboard the escape pod…

General Menace: We’ve surfaced my Lord, a full 72 hours after the battle.

Doctor Sinister: Any sign that we’re being tracked?

No your Excellency – it seems that our escape wasn’t noticed as the submarine went down.

Superb performance General, you are to be commended.

It was your idea to blow the charges my Lord and escape in the confusion, although I was a little disappointed that you chose not to warn the crew that we were about to scuttle the boat.

The ends justify the means General. My escape was all that mattered. I mean, yes, we technically blew up our own submarine, but as you said yourself, it was doomed anyway, there were four torpedoes headed right for us.

I don’t suppose you subscribe to the adage that the Captain should always go down with his ship?

No I don’t, and anyway, I wasn’t the Captain, this is why I have Staff.

Well, yes, quite.

So, any idea where we are?

Well your Superiousness, we’ve been travelling at a phenomenal underwater speed since we escaped, this pod of yours has some incredible technology, but I’m afraid as remarkable as it is, the batteries are now dead.

So, we’re stuck again?

Well, we’re drifting in a Westerly direction. I’ve deployed the auto-sail and we’re making some progress. The GPS tracker is just trying to download our co-ordinates. And…

Yes? Yes?

Wow. It looks like I’m going home.

Home?

We’re about twenty miles off the coast of the Eastern seaboard of the continental United States of America. We’ll make landfall within the hour.

The USA? North America? But we should be miles South of there…I was rather hoping for Brazil.

It’s a tricky thing navigating underwater my Lord. But never mind, civilisation is only a short hop away. And you always wanted to be President!

(Some time later, two rather dishevelled figures, one wearing an eyepatch and a ripped black overall, the other wearing a slightly worn military uniform, festooned with elaborate medals, clamber from the entrance hatch of their grounded pod. Seagulls whirl and squawk all around them as they squint into the sunlight on the dirty shingle beach)

Well, this isn’t quite what I was expecting General.

Sorry my Lord, I thought we’d be best making an unobtrusive entrance to the USA.

Where are we? I thought you said we were going to New York City? This just looks like…a garbage dump.

Well, it is a garbage dump Excellency. And I wasn’t lying when I said we would be going to New York. Take a look behind you my Lord.

(Doctor Sinister wheels around to see the glorious spectacle of the New York skyline rising in the distance)

But that’s across that small channel. This isn’t New York.

No my Lord, my apologies for the slight detour. This is Staten Island – one of the five boroughs of New York City and, alas, also home to a rather large landfill site. What you see before you is the entire collected garbage from New York, stacked up over 53 years.

And you considered this to be a suitable place to ground the pod? To bring me?

Sagacity, if we’d turned up in downtown Manhattan looking like this in a bright orange escape pod…

Yes?

…on second thoughts my Lord, you’re quite right, we’d have fitted right in. Perhaps we will be alright going to the city after all.

Excellent, maybe we can buy some big apples.

Pardon?

Big apples – I hear they sell them here.

Erm…

Superb! We shall head there post-haste, but first…

First?

First we shall get changed and try to find my cats. Come on, there are spare uniforms in the pod.

(One hour later, Doctor Sinister and General Menace, wearing fresh clothes and carrying their own luggage, slowly trudge along the beach towards the Manhattan Ferry. Behind them, the burning hulk of the escape pod leaves no clues as to its origins. Doctor Sinister carries a slender briefcase, whilst General menace struggles along with two enormous boxes, one in each hand)

…Yes, one day General, all this shall be mine.

Oh, undoubtedly your Excellency. Your domination of the planet has never been more assured. I mean, it’s not like things can get any worse…

(Oblivious to the sarcasm) I shall enjoy ruling the Americans, they make such great TV.

If you say so. Of course, you couldn’t have picked a better place to start, I mean, after all, there is a precedent to us landing on Staten Island.

There is?

Oh yes, in 1776, British troops assembled their forces here in preparation for an attack on Long Island after the American Declaration of Independence. They occupied what is now Manhattan and stayed there for eight years. In a way, we are recreating that journey now.

Thrilling! I do so love treading in the footsteps of history General.

Really Sir? I thought you were more of a comic book man.

Well, yes, but it’s good to get out every now and then and see things for yourself. Can’t beat it.

I’m surprised to hear you say that. Erm, with respect, my Lord, when was the last time you left your island base?

March 1979. I spent a week camping in Wales. It was cold and wet, but apparently the place we were staying had some history behind it, there was a Castle nearby. I forget the precise details as I had a chill.

I see…

(Looks at the large box in the General’s right hand) How are the cats?

Heavy and hungry your Magnificence. I’m not sure how, but they ate better than we did on that Submarine.

Nothing but the best for my little pets General. Oh look, we’re at the Ferry…after you…

(After a leisurely crossing, the two men stand staring in awe at the massive buildings all around them, stretching into the sky. People hustle and bustle around them, yellow taxi cabs fill the streets and the air is one of brisk efficiency)

This is more like it General! Manhattan! Look at the towering skyscrapers, the throngs of people who will soon become my servants!

(There is a sudden screech of tyres and the crash of tinkling glass)

Yes, very good my Lord, but I think you ought to get out of the middle of the road, the sidewalk is over here…

(Distant shouts fill the air as General Menace hurries his lord and master away. New Yorkers passing by cast amused looks at the pair as they hurry down a narrow alleyway)

Excellency, we must try not to draw too much attention to ourselves, remember that we’re in America now, quite possibly the same nation that just nuked the pants off of our island base – things are bound to be a bit tense and we’re wanted men. Let’s just find a nice Hotel and lay low for a bit, maybe buy some cigars, see if we can hook up with some of our agents, get to grips with the situation and…my Lord? Doctor Sinister? Excellency?!

(Doctor Sinister has wandered off and is conversing with the driver of a large black truck parked on the roadside)

Come over here General!

Your Excellency, haven’t you heard a word I was saying?

(Doctor Sinister gestures briefly to the truck driver and strolls languidly across the street as cars swerve once more to avoid him and collide with various items of street furniture)

General, this is incredible – the gentleman driving the truck is on his way to Columbus, Ohio.

He is? How…fascinating. (Politely nods to the driver who is leaning out of the cab’ expectantly) Hello! (To the Doctor) And?

Apparently there’s some kind of war convention going on. They have code-named it Origins. It sounds all very highbrow, according to the truck driver chappie, there will be 15,000 experts on the art of warfare attending over four days. Imagine that General, a convention all about the art of war. Think of the contacts we could make, think of the weapons systems we could purchase! We could be back on top of things before the end of next month.

Excellency, I really don’t think this can be right…

Nonsense General – this is just what we need. I’ve hitched us a lift. Come on, we’re off to Ohio!

But…but…

Chop chop General! There’s no time to waste! My destiny awaits me!

Yes my lord…

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Will Doctor Sinister and General Menace make it to Ohio without attracting the attention of the authorities?

Will the USA tremble in fear at the arrival of our "heroes"?

Will they be able to find some decent cat food??

And what really is this Origins convention all about anyway??

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

A J Summersgill

andrew@armchairgeneral.com

Thanks to Eric Weider for a fantastic suggestion!

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!

Origins 2006

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