It's all very well to have a human army wading into battle on your behalf, or one of mechanical men, but it is an altogether more charismatic affair to be known as the one leading waves of fierce apes (whether chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, or gibbons) to do his or her bidding. Whether they are the jungle-variety non-verbal sort or the enhanced clothes-wearing kind, you can almost always count on banner headlines anywhere your forces show up, even before they see any action. It is a built-in fascination that accompanies a troop of fierce, scowling primate minions automatically, and even accrues to a ragtag troop of sedentary blank-faced chimps for the most part. Setting yourself at the head of that thrilling mass of fur, however, can sometimes be a challenge, especially if your own upbringing and training as a villain was far from the rainforest or the cloud-draped highlands, so here are some pointers on how to pull this coup off with the best chance for success.
- Operant conditioning. As with all animal behavioral modification efforts, the key to bringing about a desired set of activities and suppressing the undesired ones is persistent application of rewards and punishments. To a certain degree, you can plan these out by referring to the sorts of motivating factors you yourself find inspiring, but for a time-efficient training plan, employ specialists both in behavioral psychology and primate husbandry.
- Choose your apes with care. Those who are too young or too old, sickly or crippled, insane or frenzied are perhaps not the best to take on a long march, best left to support roles at your home base. Cannibalistic apes have their own pluses and minuses which you must carefully consider within the overall picture of your plots and schemes. Experts are divided on whether it is a good idea to mix different species together in the same fighting force, though typically you will find that the decision to do so is one dictated by external events.
- Have a bold scent. Smell is an often underrated tool among (human) supervillains but it is an important resource when it comes to apes, particularly the more feral sort. Avoid fruity or sweet colognes, which tend to confuse and make them hungry. Do not be afraid of the more gamy, dung-oriented musk odors which are better at carrying over a distance when you are somewhat hot and sweaty. Many fiends have reported that the use of scent helps them in their undertakings by awakening primal instincts within their own psyches, which can boost your career enormously.
- Provisions. Food is the universally understood medium of exchange. Not just the selection of foodstuffs and their preparation, but also the ration size is carefully scrutinized by every single individual in your charge for clues as to your attitudes and intentions. It is a message that arrives three times a day which no one ignores. Make sure you and your staff in charge of the ape chow are on the same page during times of stress or crisis, and you may well retain your hold on the levers of power.
Strokes of genius
- Mutual grooming. By regulating the important grooming rituals among your apes you can assert your mastery over them. The one who controls the body parasites controls the troop.
- Sign language. You can teach your simian charges formal sign language, an activity which properly takes years of intensive effort, or stick to the basics such as baring your fangs when you are inclined to display displeasure.
- Taking down the silverback. If the apes have a leader they recognize already, it is almost always hopeless trying to turn that alpha individual into a subordinate under you. A surgical regime change, a mishap under plausible circumstances, or a long trip of indefinite duraction are all better ways to install yourself in a lasting fashion. Although you probably cannot count upon support from inside the band (apes are much more loyal to their leaders than humans), once the switchover has been made, managing the new status will be fairly straightforward.
- Your inner troop leader. If you have trouble seeing yourself as a convincing alpha (fe)male in primate terms, try to get in touch with that part of your psyche that resonates with pre-civilized authority, and take that persona on as a mantle. More important than a calculating mind is the aura of raw passion that the apes can see and respond to.
- Learn from your mistakes. Failure is just a learning opportunity, even when it occurs in front of a huge army of armed gorillas. The important thing is to put measures in place that will help avoid making the same mistakes again, without setting yourself up for an even bigger fall in some other area, perhaps helped along by some rival primate.
Traps for mere fools
- Civil strife in the ranks. A certain amount of displays of violence (or, in the case of bonobos, sexuality) is necessary for regulation of the social order, but too much is too much. If your forces are distracted by infighting, give them something else to focus their attention upon: a change of scenery, an exotic foodstuff, screaming captives.
- Furry suits. This is a pitfall for the aspiring supervillain who wants to avoid the complications that come with actual ape bands. The rubber-suited or computer-generated ones you can spot a mile away are just not going to make it with the kind of sophistication you will encounter nowadays, not like the old days when it was rare for anyone to have any kind of information on what it was like in the natural habitat of these creatures. Unless you have really top of the line animatronic gorillas or can afford to keep your stuffed chimps in the deep background of all your sorties, stay away from these.
- Being the bad cop. You would think that as a leader you should be the one who would dole out the punishment for infractions of your rules. This is fine in theory, but not so much when the one you are disciplining weighs four hundred pound and sports sharp fangs in powerful jaws. Mete out justice through a designated enforcer if you must, but make it clear that the authority is derived from your own self.
- Empty abstractions. Our simian cousins are admirably practical as a rule, and appeals to honor or patriotism are much less effective on them than on most human henchmen. This is less a matter of raw intelligence and more one of temperament, most experts would agree, and represents a modification of the silver-tongued evildoer’s tactics that can take some time to accustom yourself to. Rather than emphasizing romantic and idealist rhetoric to justify your schemes, concentrate on the better way of life to be had just upon completion of the next mission.
Precious and needful
- Termite mounds. But be careful if your lair is made of wood.
- Advanced translation software.
- Rainforest canopy lair. One equipped with all the important amenities for your particular mix of apes, such as fruit-bearing trees, hanging vines, rough bark for backscratches, and abundant termites would be best.
- Fruit. Preferably easily portable and not too dangerous when flung.
- Body spray.
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- Image credit Same Old, Same Old by Tim Cummins
- Image credit pink gibbon, bristol zoo shop by Synwell Liberation Front
- Image credit The ascent of monkey. Quick, somebody warn him: "stay at the start where's it's funky, Monkey!" by Just_Tom
Created by: . Last Modification: Thursday 23 of September, 2010 06:53:24 EDT by .