Show Stopper from Advance Wars 2 is a pretty tough mission, especially on Hard Campaign. Losing only gets you tips on how to do better. But what kind of damage would Adder do if he defeated Sonja at such an early stage of the Yellow Comet campaign? Even snakes have their day every now and then.
Even Snakes Have Their Days: Yellow Comet Surrenders
Commander Sonja of Yellow Comet tried to keep from shaking but her worried expression said it all. Her first battle with Adder had become desperate. Black Hole had set up a fortress that would become a serious foothold within the Yellow Comet if it was not destroyed soon. But Black Hole's standing forces around the structure were substantial, and setting up an HQ and mobilizing an army had taken too long. Sonja studied the maps and recent intel while shaking her head. Adder's forces were closing in. Battleships patrolled the waterways, Bombers dominated the skies, Medium tanks demolished all resistance. If only she had more time. But she could not wait another day. The fortress had to be destroyed, that much she was sure of.
There were plenty of things to worry about, but the speech she gave her father before taking command loomed in the back of her head. She wanted to prove to him she could lead. He wanted her to stay behind. As much as she didn't want to admit it, she had a new uniform on for the occasion. Even Sensei had vouched for her. But now... she was losing badly. On her maps she identified more bases that Black Hole forces had captured. Their deployment power was now way above her own. But she had one last hope before retreating...
A soldier ran into the tent where Sonja was working. He looked ragged from all the fighting with dirt covering his uniform and face. She looked up and held her breath.
"Our lander was discovered. Submarines sank it halfway to their objective." The soldier reported hurriedly.
Sonja nearly bit her lip. Her best hope at winning had been thwarted. She used the last lander in her force to send infantry divisions to capture Adder's HQ... only they didn't make it.
"Can we send another one?"
The solider shook his head. "Black Hole took the port."
"I've failed..." Sonja said under her breath.
"What's that commander?"
She lowered her head in a mix of frustration and exhaustion. The next few words to come out of her mouth took more effort than she cared to admit.
"We need to retreat. Quickly. Tell all forces to fall back to the capital."
The soldier took a moment to process what he had heard, saluted, and quickly ran off. Sonja had plenty to do in the event of a retreat. There were more than a few important documents that had to be destroyed to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. But she stared at her map feeling bitterness creep into her mind. How could she prove anything to her father after a failure like this? It would take the world to convince him to trust her judgement now.
"What rotten luck." She sighed.
Shouts from outside caught her attention. Then came the explosions. Her heart started to race. Black Hole was already at her HQ? It was impossible. No army was that fast. She would have seen it coming. Her intel was never wrong. And it was then she had to admit she didn't know much about Adder other than he was a pale faced man with bad posture. She rushed into action, grabbing a pistol to defend herself and moved to the entrance of the tent. In doing so she was almost run over by her own soldiers who came to her side.
"They're here! Black Hole!" One shouted.
"So fast! They just... I've never seen a force move so fast!"
"We need to evacuate now!"
The pit of her stomach churned. It had been awhile since she had faced real danger. She forgot her files and documents and ran outside. Hopefully Adder's bombers would destroy any vital intel. She was out of time.
Adder looked out from his transport copter and admired the trail of destruction his forces caused on their march to the Yellow Comet HQ. His Sidewinder tactic had been a complete success and the enemy forces didn't know what was happening until his army was on top of them. Their ports and bases were occupied and what forces they had running around were quickly squashed under a hail of bombs and cannon fire. As he predicted, the Yellow Comet force would only fail if they tried to attack his fortress. He couldn't help but smile counting all the smouldering enemy tanks along the way. When he got to the enemy HQ he was going to tear it apart for any helpful information.
"Sir!" One of the Black Hole soldiers in the copter began. "We've captured the enemy commander."
"Excellent. Who is it? The old man?"
The soldier paused for radio chatter. "No. It's a... girl? Identified her as Commander Sonja, sir!"
"Kanbei's daughter? The so-called intelligence expert? Delicious."
Sonja? He thought. Today is a good day after all. It was perfect retaliation for his loss against the bag of bones commander known as Sensei. Not to mention Flak had lost control of a mother load of silos he could have made use of a week ago. Those were setbacks compared to a victory like this.
"Have her brought to the Yellow Comet HQ when I arrive." He ordered. "I'm going to enjoy this."
Plans were already spinning in his mind. Not only did he capture the brains behind Yellow Comet's military intelligence... but he also had the daughter of Kanbei. A princess if he wasn't mistaken. Although, he wasn't sure how that worked in Yellow Comet, nor did he care. Leverage was leverage, and he had the best kind. Family.
"Heh heh heh." He had never been in such a good mood before.
Sonja tried to hide her fear the best she could and held her head up high. She had been captured along with dozens of other officers and soldiers from her army. They were being kept in a small circle in the heart of her camp while space suited Black Hole soldiers stood guard. For awhile she tried to struggle against the ropes that kept her hands bound behind her back... but it was no use. And if the Black Hole soldiers caught her they promised to take it out on her men. Meanwhile, her base was being torn apart as the enemy looked for information that would help them out in the future. It was worse than defeat, she had made a mess out of the entire war effort.
Radio chatter overheard from the enemy let her know that Adder was on his way. She didn't know if she could face down the man who outwitted her. But she knew she didn't have a choice, and the last thing she wanted to do was give any sort of satisfaction to Black Hole. She had to stay strong, for her men, her people, and... her father.
"Look alive, worms! Commander Adder has arrived." A Black Hole soldier shouted.
A transport copter flew in and landed in a zone marked by flares. Sonja watched intently as Adder stepped out with mob of soldiers and started toward her. He was just as pale as her reports had said. His skin, his sunken eyes, and his purple hair made him look ghastly. It was going to be harder to stare him down than she thought.
"Heh heh heh. The look of terror on your face is delicious." Adder smiled.
"I'm not afraid of you," Sonja said.
"And a bad liar too. Is there anything else you want to say before I use you to defeat Yellow Comet in one fell swoop?"
"I won't tell you anything."
"Oh I know that. I'm talking about your father. Would he continue to fight knowing his daughter has been captured?"
Sonja felt like her heart stopped. The stern expression on her face melted into despair. Adder grinned watching his enemy fall apart in front of him. By the time she remembered to keep a straight face it was too late. She was so caught up with her failure... she didn't even think about how it could be used against her father. No. He wouldn't dare risk her life for anything. Not even the future of Yellow Comet. She lost her cool and grit her teeth together.
"That would be..."
"Inspired?" Adder interrupted.
"Heh heh heh. I don't think you understand who you're talking to. My orders are to conquer Yellow Comet by any means necessary... not share drinks in a tea ceremony." Adder turned to his escort. "Take her away."
"Sir! What about the rest of them?" A soldier asked.
Adder turned away. "Send them to Lash. I have a surrender to arrange."
The meeting was over. Sonja was plucked from the circle of prisoners and taken to an arriving APC. She could no longer hold her head up but refused to cry.
"Please... father... please... don't... please don't..."
It took longer than Adder thought for the emperor of Yellow Comet to arrange a meeting. He expected a small delay for their information network to confirm that Sonja had been captured, but after awhile it seemed like they were actively avoiding it. It took so long that Adder forced himself to do some work to speed it along. He used captured radio and TV stations to spread some propaganda around about Lash's pet projects. A few grizzly images leaked here and there from her failed experiments and Kanbei was ready to talk. They agreed on an island located in what Yellow Comet called the 'Sea of Hope'. The irony was not lost on Adder.
He wasn't one for crystal blue seas and beautiful beaches but the faster he got this over with, the better. As part of the meeting terms, he brought a small team of soldiers and Sonja. A month in Black Hole custody had made her uniform look like she had been on the front line, but she wasn't harmed. Lash may have wanted to take Sonja apart, but he needed his bargaining chip in one piece. It was enough that she looked as ashamed as she had ever been in her entire life.
"Sir! Reports of a lander on the other end of the beach. The emperor should be here soon." A soldier notified him.
"Excellent. Let's put an end to this." Adder grinned.
Right on time, Kanbei arrived with Sensei and a few soldiers in tow. He looked worried to death and definitely not as proud as he seemed in all the photos from Black Hole's dossier on him. Every step Kanbei made looked like it took all his power. One hand clenched the scabbard of his sword while the other curled up into a fist. The man was dangerously close to biting his lip and constantly fighting to keep a strong face for everything. At least Adder knew where Sonja got her emotional quirks from. As for Sensei... the bag of bones was as impenetrable as ever, mostly because of his paratrooper goggles.
"Emperor Kanbei, Commander of Yellow Comet, welcome to our little get together," Adder said with a smile.
"Enough. Enough of your speeches..." Kanbei stammered.
No small talk. Excellent. Adder had him right where he wanted him.
"I have your daughter. You won't have to make threats. We haven't harmed her. I-"
"Father, don't give up!" Sonja interrupted with a desperate cry.
Adder rolled his eyes and raised his hand. One of his soldiers moved forward and shoved Sonja as a reminder to shut up. Kanbei as well as his men flinched like they were about to spring into action... but they stayed put.
"I'm still talking." Adder resumed. "If you want her released, my terms are as follows: your complete surrender, as well as the complete surrender of Yellow Comet and all of its armed forces both here and abroad."
"Father, our people are more important!" Sonja yelled again.
"If you don't accept these terms then your daughter has no more use to me and I will turn her over to our interrogators or maybe even Lash. You know Lash, don't you?"
Kanbei shut his eyes and looked away. Adder could tell he was remembering the images released in the propaganda blitz a week ago. It was too hard for the emperor of Yellow Comet to picture his daughter in the same way. He began to shake, although it was hard to tell if it was out of fear or anger. Adder decided on anger.
"How dare you." Kanbei finally answered. "These matters should be decided on the battlefield. To hold a man's daughter captive and make such demands is unspeakable. Where is the honor in it? Now I know why they call you Adder. You are a snake."
Adder had half a mind to clap, but practiced some restraint. Kanbei did not sound like a man who was about to surrender. Everything could still fall through in an instant.
"Yes, you've deciphered my codename. Well done." Adder sighed.
"You are a snake who deserves to be cut in two."
Kanbei removed his sword and scabbard from his waist and stepped forward. Adder put his hand in his pocket and felt the handgun he had hidden away there. Soldiers from both sides tensed up and kept their hands close to their rifles. Time was slow. And when Kanbei was close enough to strike... he dropped to his knees and offered up his sword to Adder.
"...but I cannot imagine my daughter as a casualty. I cannot." Kanbei whispered.
Sonja could no longer watch. She turned away and began to cry silently. But Adder was unimpressed.
"I don't want your sword..."
One of his soldiers quickly stepped forward.
"Sir! Offering his sword is his declaration of surrender. His weapon is his will to fight."
"Did I give you permission to speak?" Adder snapped. The mood was ruined.
"No sir! But you did assign me to observe and examine Yellow Comet culture and military doctrine. I meant no offense sir!"
Adder's expression folded up into a glare but despite some rough edges to an otherwise flawless plan... he remembered what he came to do in the first place. He snatched up Kanbei's sword. Victory. But something was missing. It was a bit anticlimactic for his tastes. No one else was around to witness his accomplishment except a few of his soldiers. Their sole purpose was to serve his command, not sing his praises. No, he would need something dramatic.
"So... it's really over is it?" Sensei despaired.
"No. Not yet. There's one more thing to take care of." Adder smiled.
With Yellow Comet totally under Black Hole control, Adder had a whole array of TV stations, radio towers, and satellite networks at his command. He started production on a televised surrender at the Imperial Palace in Yellow Comet's capital. Kanbei, Sonja, and anyone else with a say in their government were going to sign a formal surrender to Black Hole in front of their entire country and the rest of the world. He had some of his best trained men shooting video cameras instead of rifles and managing the rivers of cords connecting lighting and microphones. Everything was going to take place right in the throne room. With such a big production, it didn't take long for someone to ask...
"Hey, Adder. Is this really necessary?" Flak said.
Adder did not welcome Flak's curiosity considering he was so busy making sure everything was just right for the worldwide broadcast. And on top of that, Lash was there too. He didn't remember inviting them.
"That's where our definitions of victory differ." Adder caught himself. "I mean, we have nothing in common. But where you're satisfied with explosions and mayhem as military victory, I'm thinking of the big picture."
"Ha. You gonna shoot a movie here?" Lash laughed.
Adder ignored her. "It's not enough to defeat an army. You have to crush their morale. Squeeze every last drop of pride and hope from their identity. That includes civilians too."
"Sounds like some one is getting greedy. Tee hee hee!"
"Yeah Adder. While you're putting on a TV show, Hawke is trying to put down Green Earth. You think he's gonna like that?" Flak added.
"Heh heh heh. What do I have to fear? You botched the Orange Star invasion, Flak."
"You sure did, Flak!" Lash giggled.
"And you failed to crush Blue Moon between your pathetic games, Lash. You have nothing to laugh about. But me? I defeated Yellow Comet. I've earned the right to enjoy my victory."
Flak and Lash went silent.
"If you ask me, you two should be helping Hawke. Or making up for your mistakes in Orange Star and Blue Moon."
"But Adder... Hawke put us under your command!" Flak protested.
Adder smiled. "Oh did he? In that case, make yourselves useful, and get out of my face!"
His subordinates cleared out and things went much smoother. They were twenty minutes away from broadcasting Yellow Comet's defeat to the rest of the world.
"Sir, the emperor and the princess are ready." The control room reported.
"Heh heh heh. Send them in."
To make things worse for his enemies, Adder decided to make them dress in their traditional clothes. It involved a lot of fancy robes and headpieces they haven't worn in ages, but the end result was something ridiculous all the same. Sonja was first to enter, dressed in a green kimono and decorative chopsticks in her hair. She kept her head down and her eyes on the floor as she moved to the table where the signing would take place. Kanbei was next, in a decorative yellow robe and a hat that must have been seen to be believed. Adder had gotten used to people calling him ugly, but he wished they had this as a point of comparison.
He supposed they would in due time. Emperor Kanbei and his daughter Sonja would have the honor of signing their surrender to Black Hole. Both of them didn't look as beaten as they first did on the beach. They were good about avoiding eye contact.
"I'm sorry Sonja. Sensei advised me to fight on despite your capture... but I couldn't carry on without you. You are my beloved daughter," Kanbei said suddenly.
"No... forgive me father. I underestimated the enemy. I put us all in this position. I should have listened to you."
Adder didn't care about touching moments unfolding between a father and daughter. But he couldn't think of anything quick and they were close to broadcast.
"Remember our script," Adder said while facing the camera.
Kanbei and Sonja refused to answer.
"You should thank me for this opportunity. If I was Lord Sturm, I would lay waste to your forces and burn your entire continent until only ash was left. Not even the worms would come up out of the ground."
The soldier behind camera number one started a ten count.
"Whatever happens," Sonja spoke up. "We will never truly surrender."
Adder forced a smile that should have been a glare.
"You say anything to the contrary and I'll execute both of you. Won't that be excellent news to your country?"
The soldier behind camera number one began a silent three count with his fingers. Adder took a moment to cheer himself up. He had been playing second banana to Hawke since the war began and babysitting Flak and Lash like they were two years old. For once, in his life, something had gone his way. The stage lights went on and they were live.
"To mark the end of Yellow Comet's..."
Adder's voice trailed off as he noticed shadows moving behind the camera crew. They were soldiers in red and blue uniforms. He barely had time to wonder how the hell they had gotten in when the gunfire started. A part of him knew it was almost too good to be true.