The Battle to the Cunning

“It is easy to use entropy to solve our kind of problems.  We may say this; we are sentinels, those sanctioned to use it when necessary.  It is the natural tendency of this universe, after all, to break down – and trivial, then, to use that against anything within it.  If it doesn’t work, you need simply to apply more of it.  As our more blunt-ended colleagues in the Legions and Navy say, every battle can be won with sufficient antimatter.”

“I say this by no means to disparage them; some nails simply require very large hammers, and in truth, they are graduates of the same War College as we, and learned the same principles.  That, as Xian Anandonos-ith-Anaxios said in the Thousand Wise Analects of the Supreme Warlord, to achieve victory in war without ever forcing the enemy to battle is the supreme test of strategy.  That to win a battle without engaging the enemy is the supreme test of tactics.  And that the greatest of warriors is he who never needs to fight.”

“They possess many tools and strategies to effect this – to ignore the forest and seize the trees, to capture nexuses in lightning raids, to attack the weak point and melt away, to adopt formlessness, to raid, and ambush, and strike ever at the flanks, or deep in the rear, or at the logistic chain, or the links to their allies, or the will, to daunt and deceive, even to overawe; these are our ways of war.  The admiral who lets herself be trapped into an attritional slugfest, an open engagement, even fighting on fair margin, has failed by our terms.”

“But most of all, these things are our province.  We ensure that the hammer of such applied entropy is never needed.  Some of you will become nomomachs, and wage war with legal manipulation.  Some will become memetic warrior-philosophers, and attack the heart, the mind, and the will to conflict, or raise up rebellion in the wake of war.  Some will become assassins, and eliminate leaders who command wars, or the engineers who make them possible.  Some will become saboteurs, destroying the machinery of war.  Some will fight with secrets, to shatter alliances and discredit leaders, or with the mere threat of their revelation.  Some will fight with money, bankrupting our enemies’ forces and depriving them of the resources to wage war – or raising up their other enemies against them.”

“There are ten thousand other tactics – but always, the smaller our intervention, the better.  We have won victories in the past by deleting words from messages, delaying mail by one day, arranging harmless respiratory infections, corrupting single data rods, or arranging the absence of single containers of oil.”

“Minimum leverage, always, for maximum effect.  Make these your model and this your watchword, and you will prosper here at the Stratarchy of Indirection and Subtlety.”

“Report here for initial assessment tomorrow at second-watch.  Dismissed.”

– Stratarch Villár Minaxianos, Sixth Lord of the Admiralty, address to new cadets

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