Palm leaves rustled softly in the cool morning breeze. The sun's early rays warmed the beach as critters stirred from their nighttime hideouts. Waves gently broke upon the shore, lending a soft ambience to the crisp morning.
The sovereign town of Fairing slept through the early hours. Known for its nighttime revelry, it would be several hours before the streets awoke. Litter fluttered along the sidewalks, interrupted by the occasional shattered bottle or incapacitated partygoer. The flag of Fairing soared from a single proud mast above City Hall, a symbol of the island town's history and independence.
Fairing was about two hundred years old and had grown to a population of fifty thousand. The citizens were generally attracted to its laid back take on life, its relaxed laws, and its lack of taxes. Located atop an enormous cache of valuable minerals, Fairing was one of the wealthiest independent nations. It was also one of the least defended, the citizenship being more concerned with the finer arts of brewing than with military service.
A quarter of a mile off the shore, the water gently stirred. A slender, crooked, metallic tube poked above the surface and swivelled in all directions. As quickly as it appeared, the tube vanished below the surface, leaving a wake of bubbles.
Another tube surfaced nearby, and another. Were a casual observer watching from the beach, he might suspect an odd type of sea turtle scouting its surroundings. He would be half correct, in a way.
Several minutes passed. More tubes began to peek above the surface.
A soft but firm voice with a very generic European intonation crackled over the radio. "Proceed with plan A."
An eighth of a mile from the sand, a dozen of the tubes arose in unison. The water among them began to swell, and soon erupted into full scale waves. From beneath each metallic tube appeared a lump of metal the size of a whale, growing in all directions until each rose ten feet above the water. The moment the machines came to rest, doors opened on all sides. Figures emerged from the hatches, dropped inflated rafts into the water, and began to paddle ashore.
Each of the thirty six figures wore a velvet robe and a blue sash. Swords dangled from their white belts, the jewelled hilts glimmering in the sun. They landed upon the shore and fanned out, spanning half a mile of the beach front. Standing ready, swords in hand, the figures paused and awaited instructions.
A thirty seventh figure emerged from the middle submarine, wearing a white tuxedo and carrying a cordless microphone. He climbed aboard the conning tower of the submarine, waved to the contingent on the beach, and spoke through a loudspeaker.
"Goooood morning, Fairing! My name is Rob, and I'll be your invasion host for today! Wakey wakey, rise and shine, come on out and play!"
Not a soul stirred. Fairing continued to sleep, unmoved by Lieutenant Robert's warm greeting. He paused for a few moments, expecting a defense force to show up, or perhaps a delegation to discuss terms of surrender.
"Helloooo, Fairing! You are being invaded! Wake up and smell the napalm! We burn the buildings, one by one, raze them down, oh what fun! We'll take your wenches, here we go, steal your money, ho ho ho!"
Curtains fluttered along a few of the beachfront properties as annoyed tenants peeked out their windows. Clearly this was being taken none too seriously. The thirty six beach guards did their best to look fearsome, but I suspect that the purple robes and blue sashes subtracted from their credibility somewhat.
Lieutenant Robert continued. "Now, now, I tried to be nice, but you leave me with few options. Proceed with plan B!"
A thirteenth submarine, larger than the others, broke from the waves and skidded into the sand. A single large hatch opened along the front of the vessel. A voice appeared over the radio. "Showboat kilo-niner reporting, sir!"
Lieutenant Robert glanced at the submarine, scanned the beach one last time, and raised his sword to the air. "Unleash... the hounds!"
The beach guards parted, leaving an open corridor in front of the new submarine. A horde of vicious wolfhounds leapt from the open hatch, barking and snarling in a most terrifying manner. They dashed across the beach, forming a fifty foot wide ribbon of utter canine horror. The pack of hounds disappered into the town.
The Lieutenant continued. "Say hello to our canine friends, oh good people of Fairing, and greet your new overlords! You may choose to resist, and be fed to the hounds, or you may surrender and join us! Wake up, Fairing! Good morning!"
A few moments later the pack of hounds returned. The pack was led by a tiny, furry creature, dashing with all its might just a few feet ahead of the snarling dogs. I reached for my binoculars and took a look. It was a cat. The pack chased the poor feline for a good mile along the beach before it disappeared up a tree.
Clearly the Lieutenant hadn't anticipated this particular turn of events. The hounds were meant to awaken and terrify, not spend their time chasing cats. Nonetheless, the dogs were now useless, gathered around the foot of a palm tree, barking furiously. "Oh, bloody hell, just charge!"
The beach guards raised their swords, loosed a battle cry, and ran across the beach. They broke into smaller groups and spread across the town. From my vantage point on top of Showboat number three, I could only hear occasional shouts. Lieutenant Robert paced atop Showboat Two, somewhat impatient by now. He showed promise, but had so much left to learn.
After half an hour of relatively little excitement the flag of Fairing fell from its pole, and my banner took its place. A victory cry went up. Lieutenant Robert and I descended into our respective submarines, leaving our thirty six trusted minions and the pack of distracted hounds to govern the city of Fairing. As agreed in the standard minion contract, they would be left with free reign of the city indefinitely, and would make monthly tribute payments based on the city's economy.
Upon returning to our secret undersea fortress, I called Lieutenant Robert into my command center.
"Robert, I must say I admire your style. But could you tell me, perhaps, what on earth you were thinking?"
"Well, sir, I did take over the city as planned, did I not?"
"Yes, the city is conquered. Though that is a loose term. We walked in and claimed the city. Had Fairing put up a resistance, at all, even a small militia of poorly trained soldiers, your attack would have been foiled."
"But our intelligence said that..."
"I don't care what our intelligence said. Our intelligence also said the citizens of Toorfolk were armed only with pitchforks, making no mention at all of the advanced laser weaponry. I'll also remind you of the whole Maroon Point incident with the skunks. Do not trust intelligence. Ever. And what was with the dogs? Did you not know that dogs would rather chase cats than people?"
"Ah, uh. Yes, that is true."
"And what was your backup plan? What if the resistance hadn't been unconscious, and you were required to put up some actual force?"
"As you know, we keep a thermonuclear warhead aboard Showboat Five. So as a last resort..."
"...so you'd turn the place into a salt flat? Brilliant. Use a billion dollar tactical nuke to dispose of a small island army, and meanwhile eliminate any chance of drawing a profit from the island within the next, oh, half century. Robert, I like you, but you have much to learn. Next time we invade a sovereign island, I expect better planning. That is all."
The Lieutenant saluted and left the room. I reclined in my chair and lit a pipe. This was the five hundred and twentieth nation brought under my control, and Robert's third. Trusted lieutenants are hard to find, and never cease to disappoint me, but I had hopes in Lieutenant Robert.
Being an evil overlord is hard work. I've been managing my empire for a decade now, and the job is still fraught with challenges and surprises.
Perhaps the hardest aspect is maintaining complete secrecy from the outside world. Were I to venture into the public and somehow lose my cover, I would be apprehended immediately. Needless to say, most governments do not appreciate my existance. As a result I run my operations out of a secret fortress in the trenches of the Pacific Ocean. We have quite an impressive facility; there are bunkers for over ten thousand minions, suites for my lieutenants, and all manner of weapons laboratories and arms plants. Our submarines can shuttle us wherever we desire.
But it is still stressful, and I do miss ordinary life. Unfortunately, as one of the most powerful and therefore most hated evil overlords in the world, there is no turning back.
Revolt is a serious issue. It can happen on two levels: personal and societal.
Very occasionally a minion, even a trusted one, will attain delusions of grandeur and seek to increase his personal power. The exceptionally bold ones attempt to assassinate me, which is something I've come to expect and have become proficient in dealing with. The penalty for a failed assassination attempt is being assigned to flea duty for life; more on that later.
The more intelligent traitorous minions work behind my back, forging alliances with others and constructing intricate plans for taking over my position. These are often very hard to detect. Recently one group of minions, regrettably including my previous trusted lieutenant before Robert, came up with a brilliant scheme for supplanting my reign. They nearly caused several of my nations to revolt and cost me over ten billion dollars. I was forced to come down hard on the lot of them so as to set an example.
There is really only one way to deal with a personal revolt. I do not like to kill people outright, even traitors. Bloodshed should be avoided if at all conveniently possible. However, I have no qualms about kicking traitors out of my base. And given that we live in a secret base surrounded by a completely inhospitable environment, doing so has the same effect, in the end, as simply executing them. It all works quite nicely, and my hands remain relatively clean. The prospect of being dispensed into the trenches of the ocean serves to quash most would-be operatives before they get around to causing trouble.
Societal revolts are more difficult to handle. Sometimes a conquered nation will fail to realize the futility of its situation and will attempt reclaim its independence. I hate to be heavy handed when this happens, because these nations are typically home to many innocent people and just a few malcontents. If my spies can safely isolate the troublemakers, the problem is solved. Otherwise I simply nuke the place and make sure a full writeup of the situation makes the headlines in all of my other nations. At a billion dollars a pop, however, nukes are an expensive way to go, but so far I've only had to do this five or six times (and three of them were the same island, which incidentally is now below sea level).
Which brings me to another interesting aspect of being an evil overlord: financing. A long time ago I walked into an ordinary bank and tried to take out a loan to buy missiles and fissionable material on the black market. For collateral I offered the recently conquered island nation of Dunan. The loan was not approved. (As a historical note, the bank in question disappeared overnight shortly thereafter. Not a single brick of its building remained, and the retail lot was swept clean to the concrete foundation. I elected to simply appreciate the humor of the situation and not claim responsibility for this.)
Financing becomes easier after taking over a few small countries, but getting started is complicated. I got lucky by finding some excellent deals on armaments and cheap, well protected real estate for my first mountain stronghold, but the early years were wrought with uncertainty.