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Posted on Jan 31, 2008 in Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 37] – The Enigma Variations

By A J Summersgill and Jim H Moreno


Yes yes yes yes yes General, must we list ALL of my failings? Save some for later dear chap won’t you?

Very well my Lord. I’ll be sure to send your compliments to those men in the sick bay. But if I might just add one more thing.

Oh, go on then.

It’s just that you’ve been playing Sunshine of Your Love for three weeks now and you rarely get to the end of the song, you’re on your third guitar now…

The others were faulty…

…and I really think you ought to accept that this really isn’t the game for you.

Rubbish – I’ve worked out an infallible way of dealing with this problem.

You have?

Yes, I’ve had Wilson modify my cybernetic arm so that it hooks straight into the remote control with a simple jack connection – and he’s written a software program that will never fail to play the notes as they are due – that way I can go straight through the entire game in one sitting and WIN!

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But, your Supremacy, where’s the fun in that? You might as well just leave the software running while you have a bath or something and come back when the game is finished at the end.

What a splendid idea General! Multi-tasking, I like it.

But…

I could beat every game I own that way, get high scores in everything imaginable. Yes, make it so won’t you?

As you instruct my Lord.

And whilst you’re about it, that online shooty thing I’ve been playing…

Battlefield 2 Sir?

Yes, that’s the one – I want to have a bit of an edge – you know, be able to see where the other players are at all times, through walls and what have you. So I can shoot them properly.

But, my Lord, that’s cheating!

Yes, I know, but I hate to lose.

But…but…this goes against all sense of fair play. I respectfully refuse Sir. I cannot in all conscience allow you to cheat online.

(The two men stare at each other evenly)

I see. Well, if that’s how it is. Let’s get onto some other business. Any luck on our missing month?

(Relieved) No my Lord, I’m afraid we’re going to have to accept the fact that our meddling in time has… somehow… ensured that December 2007 is lost forever.

Pity, because I feel like we should have done something last month – you know?

Yes my Lord, I do know. As it is, it’s like we never existed in December at all. It’s taken three trips by temporal engineers to get the world calendar back to twelve months at all – I’m not sure that our diversion to meet Pope Gregory XIII was a good idea at all. In fact, I’m not even sure why we went there in the first place.

If I remember rightly, we were rather hoping to grab a DNA sample from Philip II of Spain – the Pope just got in the way. I forget how that happened…although I have my suspicions.

My Lord, if we’re going to continue messing with time, we really should start keeping detailed records, or at least make proper plans of our proposed trips so we know exactly what to fix when the inevitable problems arise. That trip back to the American colonies could have been disastrous – as it happens I think I started the American war of independence. The causality experts in the lab’ are having kittens down there.

They are? Can they be cured? Should we order more milk?

No my Lord, it’s just an expression.

I see. Well, keep an eye on the situation anyway. We can always start a pet shop as a sideline.

Very well your Magnificence.

(Thoughtfully) Anyway I’m glad you are here General, there’s something else I want to discuss with you, come with me.

(The two men head to a small door on the opposite side of the War Room and enter a small but comfortable private office. Doctor Sinister takes a seat on a large leather sofa and invites the General to join him)

Well my Lord, I’m all agog, what’s up?

General, I fear that we are not alone.

Not alone Sir?

In this base.

Well, of course we aren’t alone, the SICC houses twelve thousand people, plus my troops, catering staff, those unfortunates in the prison cells…

I mean, I think we have a spy in our midst.

Again? Sir, the last time we had this conversation your “spy” was a plastic doll.

Well not this time. Have I ever told you about The Saintly Institute?

Erm, no my Lord, I don’t believe you have.

It’s a super – secret extra – governmental organisation, licenced by the United Nations, with the task of maintaining world order.

I see. And you think they are after you?

I know it. TSI was set up in the first place purely to trap me.

My Lord, are you sure about this?

I’m quite sure. I know the man who runs it.

(Doctor Sinister produces a buff-coloured folder from a nearby desk and removes a glossy photo from inside. General Menace stares at the picture intently)

But…your Superiousness, that’s YOU! But without the eyepatch.

Not quite. His name is Professor Saintly, you might say we’re almost the same person, but his ethics are quite different from mine. For one thing, he isn’t trying to conquer the world. You might call him the black sheep of the family.

What’s with the safari hat?

Oh the man’s completely insane – I don’t know where he gets it from.

No…I mean, it’s not like it runs in the family…hang on, is he your brother or something?

[continued on next page]

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1 Comment

  1. when are you going to write more of the Incorrect Art of War

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