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Posted on Dec 9, 2004 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 02] – Project Sleigh-Ride

By A J Summersgill and Jim H Moreno



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.

EPISODE 2 – “Project Sleigh-Ride”

As the last light of a long day fades, General Menace strides up to the main doors of the Sinister Imperial Command Complex. He pauses only briefly to shake his head at the rows of twinkling fairy lights adorning the edges of the main entrance, and then stops short at the embarrassed guards dressed as holiday Elves, clutching their state-of-the-art assault rifles and miserably trying to snap to attention without ringing the bells on their furry hats.

The General enters the base, glancing about at the alarmingly large and lurid “Bio-Hazard” stickers hurriedly placed on the walls. He’s not lost on their striking contrast with the Christmas decorations that are strung from every torch, beam and supporting girder.

Five tinsel-clad minutes later, in the War Room…

General: Good evening, My Lord. My compliments, you’re looking a lot better than last week.

Doctor Sinister: Really? I bloody well don’t feel it. There are – things – flying around my head, whirling around the room. Can you see them?

Negative, Sir, I assure you, there’s nothing flying around the room. It’s probably a residual effect of the medication. Really, I think you look great. It looks like the cure has worked. Perhaps now we can re-open Lab 357 and allow everyone out? I’ve received reports they’re terribly hungry, and they’re all very sorry for allowing the sample to escape.

No, General, you will keep them locked up for another week, at least. I want them to suffer for their insolence. Would you like a cigar?

Ah, good news! They have arrived?

There are some flying around in the corner there, help yourself.

Right, maybe later, then. Your Benevolence, on my way here I noticed SEAL Team Two dressed as Elves struggling to bring a thirty-foot Christmas tree up through a service elevator shaft. Is this an effect of the escaped lab sample, also?

Observant as ever, General – it’s my latest plan for the conquest and subjugation of Earth.

(General Menace pushes aside a pile of multi-colored ribbons and bows for a seat on the couch)

Do tell, Sir, I’m all ears. A bit like the elves.

You see, I had a bit of a sleepless week, what with the infection and all. So, taking to heart your recommendation, I spent my nights watching documentaries about this D-Day invasion during World War Two, along with a couple of Christmas movies. Have a look at this.

It’s a DVD all about the glider assault on Pegasus Bridge! Ah, yes Sir, the first shots fired on D-Day, the British 6th Airborne Division completely surprising elements of the German 716th Infantry Division, the Gondree Cafe among the first buildings to be liberated. A fine example of a perfectly executed operation. I’m proud to see you trying to get some grounding in military theory and history, My Lord.

Thank you, General. I was watching this program and it struck me how fallible those gliders were. First off, having to rely on getting airborne by conventional, noisy and expensive aircraft. Second, once airborne, they weren’t very agile. Thirdly, they were extremely limited on their landing zones, right?

Bravo, Sir, but I’m not sure I follow you…

You ask me why we have gone Christmas-crazy here at the base. General, ready the War Room! As of tomorrow we are commencing Operation Sleigh-Ride of Death! You will lead an expedition to the North Pole. Your mission: to capture and bring back Santa Claus’ reindeer. We will use them to tow our gliders in an assault on Europe!

Pardon, Your Eminence, but I think I may have been touched by that lab sample, as well. It sounded like you said for me to capture reindeer to tow our gliders into battle?

But of course. Think of it. It’s brilliant! Just look at the advantages reindeer have. They don’t show up on RADAR…

Yes, but-

… they are completely silent…


… they don’t require fuel, just some bags of cheap oats…

Right, but I think-

… they are incredibly fast, so fast that they can travel around the entire world in a single night! …

Your Highness-

… they can take off and land with pinpoint accuracy, only needing so much space as a common rooftop …


… and as long as you dress adequately as Santa Claus, no one will notice the difference!

Say again? ME, Sir?

Of course you. Someone has to, and since you’ll be the one leading the men into battle, it’s only right. And that, General, is why we’ve decorated the base – to make the reindeer feel at home once you bring them here.

Above and beyond all due respect, My Liege, perhaps I should call in the base physician to administer another vaccine dose?

Nonsense. I’m perfectly healthy now, General. The hallucinations have almost completely stopped. Almost.

Very well, Sir, but, as I was trying to interject, the number of potential problems with this course of action is totally off the scale.


Flying reindeer don’t exist, My Lord. I’m sorry to break it to you like this, but they are simply a fairy tale. Even if they did, you couldn’t attack a country, much less the world, using only eight mythical reindeer and eight assault gliders.

Nine Reindeer General. Don’t forget Rudolph.

Well, who could, Sir. What? No! What I mean is, in any event, the age of the assault glider is long past. While the reindeer themselves are fabled to be unseen in flight, the gliders probably wouldn’t be. Modern air defences would spot them easily, chew them up like paper.

But these are magic reindeer!

Sir, the D-Day glider assaults on Pegasus Bridge and other objectives in Normandy were all part of a much larger, finely crafted operation. Those battles, while important, didn’t win the war by themselves, and you can’t expect to win a war these days using the same methods. The men in those gliders were elite soldiers, Commandos. They were also isolated, cut off from assistance with limited supplies and ammunition, until their comrades assaulting the beaches broke through the German defences to link up.

But … but these are magic reindeer!

If you really want to lead an assault on Europe using special forces, you’re much better off dropping paratroopers behind enemy lines before launching a massive air campaign to disrupt command, control and communications facilities.

Magic reindeer could do that.

Sorry, Sir, but, no. We don’t have that amount in resources at the moment. Right now, our army is only really good for base defence and the occasional raid to secure funds for future operations.

Could magic reindeer help with that?

Sire! Magic Reindeer do not exist!

Oh, bugger! Very well, General, if you say. So – no Operation Sleigh-Ride of Death?

I’m afraid not, Sir. Now, may I implore you to have a rest, and allow me to give orders to remove these silly decorations? The lights may be enough to give away our secret base location. I’m sure you’ll dream up some other nefarious scheme.

Actually, I have just thought of another one!

Dare I ask …

We’ll send you to the North Pole as planned, but this time you’ll kidnap Santa Claus himself! With his magic powers, we’ll ‘coerce’ him into infiltrating every home in the world to install one of our new video game mind-control devices. We’ll call it – Operation Chimney – of Death!

Commander, ahem, Santa Claus isn’t real, either.

What!? But … but … he’s magic!

You know, Sir, I think I will get me one of those cigars.


A J Summersgill and Jim H. Moreno

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