The Business of War

Stage 2

Welcome back. Do you know my name yet?

With the opening act of the General's War coming to a close, I felt I needed to contribute something to the cause aside from disassembling and reassembling captured psyches to greater serve the Scissor Army. This is why I found a small piece of myself addressing him here, in the hangar of the Arizona base he affectionally referred to as 'Desert Gulch.'

"I assume," the metal skeleton before me said in his usual, cold manner, "that this is important."

I chuckled. "Of course it is, my General. You may recall repeated reports of some sort of Special Forces being fielded by the RPD, based loosely on a downscaled Gamma design?"

"They're a minor concern, but I've heard of them," he nodded.

"Well, never let it be said I don't steal the occasional good idea."

I snapped my fingers, almost purely for show, since I had complete control over what happened next: A towering robot simply appeared at my side, bringing some alarm and attention to the General's featureless visage. The teleportation shield, while different on a few basic levels than normal such security measures, was fully operational, meaning that any and all attempts to simply translocate into Desert Gulch itself would should have been disastrous, to say the least.

I raised a hand to stop him from attempting to bisect my new friend. "Allow me to introduce one of the first heavy attack units with a working short-range jump engine."

He was still visibly caught somewhat off guard. "Short-range jump engine? What nonsense..."

I launched into my full sales pitch, heedless of his protests. "A while back, I stumbled upon a research and development facility controlled in part by the government but wholly owned by private interests. This cute little arrangement was known as Syne Co, and while their previous works were laughable attempts, they did get one or two things right."

I gestured grandly to the machine at my side. "This is a basic cybernetic shell, the CHR-778-OME. This particular cyber-shell model has seen combat twice before, and is more commonly known as the short-lived enemy of the Maniacs called Siegema'am. Under my stellar influence, a young human friend of their oversized oaf was hardwired into this metal monstrosity, and did battle with Hardman himself, causing no end of sweet sorrow and misery."

General Cutman took all of this in. "So, it is a robotic shell for humans? What use have I for it?"

I grinned, as if I could do anything else. "I have no less than 278 of these shells stored away in my own special place in the world, and with some minor modification, we can simply wire some of your unique brand of Sniper Joes into them, instantly granting them the tactical superiority afforded by the better design, along with the increased firepower, durability, and rather unique assault talents of this unit.

While this design was originally intended for a specific purpose, that being the complete destruction of Hardman, I have since made some modifications to increase the range of tactical application we could use it for. The archaic hammer-spear launcher has since been replaced by a Syne Co series 3 2-Stage Canister Buster, which uses Helium and liquid Hydrogen with a superheated plasma catalyst to produce a heavy stream of plasma instead of the usual bullet. Prolonged exposure to such a weapon could not only melt tough armor, but liquefy internal systems.

The previously head-mounted Siege Buster, which I always thought was a ridiculous weapon anyway, has been replaced by an ECM/ECCM suite which will jam communications to and from enemy outposts in the field, and the heavy armor will ensure that, barring any unforseen circumstances, they will remain on the field for a while."

"Fairly impressive," the General said dismissively, "but what is this Jump Engine you were talking about?"

I placed a hand on the Siege's frame. "The Short-range jump engine is actually little more than some creative programming and compact secondary teleportation unit, geared specifically for operation outside of the normal Teleport Network and more specifically for short range jumps. Because of this these units can not only beam into a combat zone at will from any one of our bases, but they can also make undetected, short jumps for a range of up to thirty yards. Imagine it, seeing these on the surface and then, in an instant, they're in the middle of a subway system or a previously secret underground base."

I could see the wheels turning in his head. It was easy for me, since his head was such an open book anyway, pardon the pun. Finally, he seemed to settle into what I'd been interpreting as a smile lately. "They ARE a perfect counter to the RPD's special forces, and even more. They will be a fine addition to the Scissor Army, these... Siege Joes..."

"I live but to serve," I grinned, bowing low.


I have a wonderful old desk here in my favorite abode. It’s a vintage piece from the American Civil War era, and it’s a fine work of art. The front of it, where my guests would be if I were sitting at it, sports a finely cut relief, featuring vines, ivy, and a pair of carriages on either side.

Somehow, I doubt my current “guest” was properly admiring it. Then again, I was toying with one of my shears. That was usually a precursor to something far less innocent and casual.

“So,” I began, “can you tell me exactly why you felt the factory was expendable?”

The being before me was “Captain” Napalmman, who was himself a fine work of art from my own mind’s easel. He was easily twice my height and many times my girth, but somehow, he didn’t seem to feel that way before me.

“Now, sir,”, he started to explain. “I must again repeat that I did NOT believe the Berlin factory to be expendable. The city was, but only after we…lost the factory.”

I didn’t do much to show reaction. I heard him just fine, but I kept flicking my shears before me as I continued to sit sideways from the desk and him, not looking him in the eye in the least. I didn’t need to.

“Lost…the factory.”, I repeated. Nice wording, Captain. “You mean, the enemy managed to destroy their objective, even as one of my most powerful forces controlled it? Is this what you mean by ‘lost’?”

“I…Yes. The enemy…accomplished their objective.”, he gave me.

“Captain…You do realize that I expect results, correct? You understand that when I issue an order, I demand that it be completed to its fullest?”

“Sir, yes sir.”

“And yet, here we are, discussing your failure. Because that’s exactly what this is, Captain. A failure. Now…I’m not fond of failures. Do you have any suggestions to how I can remedy this disaster?”

“Sir…I’m unsure…”, the black-painted CO shifted on his weight uncomfortably.

“Unsure? I didn’t program you to be ‘unsure’. That’s not one of the qualities of MY commanding officers, now is it?

I am sorely disappointed, especially when I compare your performance against Captain Quint’s. He and his Mercenaries destroyed the biggest city in the Western hemisphere in appallingly fast time. When I get results like that, I will not tolerate excuses from other Officers. Even my solo forces managed degrees of success, whereas you failed your one and only objective.

Forget it. There are six hundred forty-two thousand, eight hundred and thirty six ways I could plunge you into a state of horrible pain and misery the likes of which not even the most creative human mind could ever have nightmares about…But then I’d have to decide on how to put you back together.

But understand this, Captain…Another failure will not be tolerated. The same applies to your team, so I suggest you not let them down again.

Dismissed, Captain.”

“Sir! Thank you, sir!”

Not wasting time, the machine dashed out of sight as fast as he could before I changed my mind.

In all honesty, I don’t have time to punish him. Not the way I’d see fit, in any case.

The war at hand isn’t going as well as I had hoped. Only three weeks into it and my Scissor Army hasn’t gained anything useful. Certainly, we have annihilated countless human lives in the process of going nowhere, but I have been disappointed, to say the least.

The other Robot Masters are putting up an even greater resistance than I had anticipated. I do believe I was spoiled during the last war, which didn’t even last this long in total.

My Sniper Joes seem to be functioning properly, but I have had reports of them malfunctioning or not performing up to snuff. Luckily, I had the foresight to anticipate such an issue, and even marketed it to these self destructive governments as an important feature. I can send software updates to each and every Joe en masse.

…I felt him. Just now.

I’ve gotten used to the feeling by now. It’s an alien, cold feeling at the base of my brain. The feeling of something browsing me like an internet search engine, looking through my data as if it were his to investigate.

That’s okay, though…

“General…You look perturbed!”, came his shrill voice even before he manifested himself. He was amused on a constant basis, even by my frustration. Perhaps, even more so.

“Merely concerned.”, I fluffed him off. There isn’t much I can hide from him…But I do have my ways. Oh, do I have my ways.

Mesmerman eventually gathered himself from nothingness right before me, sitting on my desk. Or, the closest he could get to sitting with that discombobulated form of his. He even had the gall to take up one of my shears to toy with.

“You should be. Things don’t seem to be going to plan for you.”

“This only means we get to have more fun before we get down to the real business at hand.”, I shrug as I pick up one of the dozens of newspapers strewn about the floor. This provided me endless opportunities for entertainment.

“Ah…Elysium.”, my partner in crime named, then seemed to stare a hole through me, as though he were silently accusing me of something.


“General…The stress seems to be getting to you…”, he said strangely.

I was genuinely confused. “Nonsense. My AI systems are functioning just fine.”

He aimed a disjointed hand towards my right arm, which had been resting on the helm of my desk.

It was shaking very slightly, accompanied by a barely audible rattling noise.


“It’s nothing.”, I surmise. “Just one of the bugs I’ve been neglecting on this body. That’s all.”

I could feel his psychic fingers twiddling about in my data bank. Feel around all you want, my boy. There are no answers there. As far as you know, that’s the truth, at least in my mind.

He stares at me again with that frozen expression of his.

“Mesmer,”, I start to change the subject. “How are our side projects coming?”

“Ah…Our big field project is right on schedule! We’ll be ready for a test run within a few days, as a matter of fact. Now THAT’S going to fun!”

“Kyehehehe…I imagine so…Won’t they be surprised when they see those coming at them, eh?”

“It’ll definately be an amusing day. But, as for your other pet projects…They’re evolving nicely. It takes time to completely dismantle a psyche like that. As fun as it is to watch him writhe, I can’t wait to see him rejoin his friend back on the field.”

I chuckle at the thought and agree with a nod. “Oh yesss…His friend seems to be even more of a joy to watch than I predicted. You do good work, o butcher of brains.”

“Naturally! But then again, you knew that long ago.”

“Yes…You’re right.

Well…Time is a wasting.”

“You seem to have something planned…”, my puzzle look-a-like compatriot half-asked. It seemed rather pointless to do so, actually- he more than likely had the answer pulled from my mind even before I went about forming the words. Unless my theory about him was indeed true. It was hard to tell.

“Yes, Mesmer. We’re going out.”

“Out?”, he asked with an air of excitement.

“Yes. Out. I’ve decided that its high time we got more involved in the action. We’ll have some fun by painting the town blood red.”, I proclaim as I slip on my freshly-cleaned duster. I strongly doubted it’d stay that way much longer.

“Sounds like fun!”

“That’s the idea. What a world coup without a few giggles, after all?”

Mesmerman faded away with some short fits of giggling of his own, off to God knows where. All I knew was that wherever he turned up next, it’d make for an interesting headline tomorrow.

I ascended the short tunnel to bathe in the clear night sky. By now, you couldn’t see things like stars in the cities, as they were filled with black smoke. But out here, in the Sonoran Desert, there was nothing to bastardize my view of the galaxy before me.

It was the way it was supposed to be. And, with due time, this view would once again visit all of Earth as we wipe away man’s mistakes.



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