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Posted on Aug 31, 2007 in Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 33] – The Terminal Phase

By A J Summersgill and Jim H Moreno


"Let’s try the red panel…but be careful my Lord, it may be booby-trapped"

Nodding sagely, Doctor Sinister grasps the panel door with his cybernetic hand and wrenches it open. As he does so, a small cylinder falls out from the enclosure behind and red smoke billows into the air.

"Gas! Quick, cover your mouth, don’t breathe in the smoke – I’ll find the extractor control…"

You stumble across to the edge of the cavern, your eyes streaming from the small amount of gas you accidentally inhaled. As you stare bleary-eyed at a small panel on the wall, you find the switch to control the air filtration system. Gigantic blowers in the air vents begin to circulate the air and soon, the red mist is gone.


Doctor Sinister lies very still on the floor, his hand still grasping the red panel.

"My Lord?" You rush over to the prone body of your glorious leader and proceed to check that he is breathing. He is, and with a cough and a splutter, he awakens.

"Thank you General"

"No problem my Lord. I thought you were a gonner for a moment there though".

"Really? Oh, didn’t I tell you – I’m invincible!"

"Erm, yes my Lord, you said as much just earlier today in fact. Although I’d rather we didn’t put that to the test…"

You turn back to the enclosure that was behind the red panel. A bank of plug sockets lie beneath a small laptop computer which is plugged into the circuitry behind. Gritting your teeth, you remove each plug in turn, noting with some satisfaction that large parts of the H.A.T.E. computer go dark as you do so.


You smile to yourself as H.A.T.E. appears to enter his death throes, already the low hum in the chamber has reduced in pitch…but just then, the small laptop above the bank of plugs come to life.

"That’s odd".


"Terminal phase? What’s that?"

Doctor Sinister looks a little uneasy before responding.

"Erm, it’s something I planned for once in case of my…erm…demise".

"Demise? I thought you just said you were invincible?"

"Well, yes, I am, but Sinister Incorporated has a motto you know – "If we can’t have the world, no-one can!" – the Terminal Phase is just an extension of that…"

"Are you implying that your philosophy dictates that if you don’t become Emperor of the planet Earth…you’ll just destroy it?"

"Well, yes".

"Isn’t that rather spiteful?"

"I don’t think so – I’d rather take the planet with me than have some upstart telling me what to do…I suspect H.A.T.E. feels the same way. We’ve managed to breach his power controls so he’s going to take us with him."

"Might I ask…what exactly is the Terminal Phase?"

"Oh, it’s nothing particularly clever or special, we’ve hidden massive nuclear weapons beneath the sea at all the world’s major continental fault lines. The Terminal Phase activates them all simultaneously causing the entire planet to crack in half and be utterly destroyed. From the sounds of it, H.A.T.E.’s gained control of the bombs along with the entire S.INC network."

"I don’t believe this. All this time I thought you were just a little bit cracked…not completely insane".

Doctor Sinister says nothing, but studiously avoids your glare.

"OK then my Lord, how do we stop it?"

"The Terminal Phase’s final signal has to come from a control device – that laptop in there in fact. There are a few of them knocking around, I’ve usually got one of them with me somewhere – if the final signal isn’t issued, even once the countdown has commenced, the bombs deactivate themselves."

You point to the small screen and keyboard in the enclosure. "You mean this laptop, the one plumbed into H.A.T.E. is your control device?"

"Oh yes, that’s exactly right." Doctor Sinister glances up at H.A.T.E. "Thieving git".

"So, we’ve killed H.A.T.E. only to have him kill us in turn?"

"Yes, it would appear so. And even on reserve power, he’ll have enough energy to keep operating for a short time to broadcast the signal and…boom"

You quickly scan the options provided on the laptop screen.

"OK, well it looks like H.A.T.E. has this Terminal Phase console wired up with lots of extra security codes. According to this we only have five minutes to stop the bombs going off."

"Yes, it takes that long for the devices to power up, once they are ready to go, only the final signal is required. Be careful though…get one of the security codes wrong and the interface will shut down and you won’t be able to stop the signal."

Your fingers skip across the keyboard and after a minute or so, the display changes.

"I don’t believe this."

"What is it?" enquires the Doctor.

"This security program – it’s asking me trivia questions to move onto the next stage."

"Oh yes, I set that up in your honour General – you’re always going on and on about little bits of military history – I thought it would be a nice touch. It asks you random questions from The Junior Encyclopedia of Warfare."

"You programmed a genocidal doomsday machine…in my honour?" You look incredulously at Doctor Sinister as he nods gleefully. "My Lord, I never thought I’d say this, well, no, that’s not true…I just never thought I’d live long enough to say this…but when this is over…we’re finished, you and I."

"Oh…" The Doctor looks downcast and you turn back to the computer screen.

"OK, so the first question is this…name the codename for the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Overland or Overlord"

If you think the answer is Overland, go to page 8.

If you think the answer is Overlord, go to page 9.

[continued on next page]

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