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What would prevent growing minions as cannon fodder from being an alternative to hiring henchmen?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Erebus, Apr 23, 2021.

  1. Erebus

    Erebus Minstrel

    I am a self-made entrepreneur who runs an e-commerce giant which has morphed into one of the most powerful and wealthy companies in the world. However, my business is actually a front for my secret organization bent on world domination. We have successfully reached our tentacles into various nations, and have numerous bases around the world, including the most badass one built into the side of a volcano. These bases are guarded by mercenaries hired from 1-800 DIAL-A-HENCHMAN, an outsourced hiring agency for mercenaries looking for work. However, my ingenious plots have consistently been thwarted by pesky super agents working for world governments, such as the 00's. These agents continue to break into my bases to foil my schemes, killing the men that I have paid good money for and destroying my facilities. My expenses are high enough without these government spies causing havoc. On top of having to rebuild new facilities, I continue having to pay good money to replace the men that have been killed off. My organization has been getting a bad reputation as being a place where life expectancy is fairly short, which has discouraged henchmen from signing on to my projects, forcing me to shell out even more money for their services. In addition, many are asking for outrageous benefits, such as life insurance for their families in case of death, all of which are ridiculously expensive. This is a steep price to pay for individuals who are essentially cannon fodder meant to be mowed down. Fortunately, I am not the typical Hollywood comic book villian. Unlike the jackasses you have heard of, I am smarter than they are and pride myself on being two steps ahead.

    Artificial womb technology has advanced to the point where it can be afforded by the affluent middle class. With my large corporation's access to the latest tech, we can build a system in which children are mass produced on a grand scale and grown to adulthood fairly quickly. These children will be given the equivalent to an adult education while in these artificial tanks, as well as raised to be loyal to me, readying them for service when they are fully grown. While the initial investment is expensive, over time I will save on costs and effort. Through this process, I will be able to grow hundreds or even thousands of minions at once and grow them to adulthood. They will be completely obedient to my wishes and willing to die at a moment's notice. Then they can be easily replaced within a matter of months, giving me an endless supply of people to perform my bidding. Best of all, they work for free, and receive no life or health insurance, increasing my profit margin.

    I can only see the benefits of this policy. What would prevent this from being a viable solution to outsourcing my security?
  2. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Is this for a story you're working on?
    cak85 likes this.
  3. cak85

    cak85 Scribe

    Is your story a comedy? It sounds very much like a silly/spoof spy movie from the 90s, like Austin Powers or Spy Hard.

    If its comedy than, yeah, it could work.
  4. MisaMai

    MisaMai Dreamer

    I suppose this all depends on your theoretical perspectives on free will.
    Prince of Spires likes this.
  5. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Sage

    Genetics. You'd need to ensure you had a wide genetic base for your mass production of minions, because otherwise you'll make your minions vulnerable to a bio-weapon strike which targets some specific part of their genomes. Remember that your enemies would only need to capture a few of your minions to be able to analyse them and draw the appropriate conclusions.

    (Writes the Mad Swede, who has not in any way ever considered doing like this at all...)
  6. Malise

    Malise Scribe

    I think the drones and killer robot industry would kill the growing GMO henchmen industry.

    GMO henchmen are still made out of meat.
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Competence. To have whole armies of henchmen able to stand up against super-spy organizations, not to mention plain ordinary law enforcement and citizen action, at least some of your minions will need high competence. You can't engineer competence, still less experience.

    So, now you have hundreds (thousands?) of highly competent, educated "minions". The chances of some of them betraying you are high, and the consequences will be proportionate. Worse, the costs will be unknowable, whereas your current costs can be predicted.

    Also, a practical question: do you also have employees? Servants? Allies? If I were one of them, I would fear those cheap, raised rivals.
  8. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

    I think the tone of the piece would be important. Having henchmen complain about normal job stuff like no coffee in the break rooms or the vending machines are broken again would be great for a comedy. Or maybe they are all clones and they still complain about this stuff, or maybe they say something like "yeah, we don't get life insurance, but we get paid lunch breaks and overtime!" But if this is a Very Serious story then maybe the cloning thing would be better, because you are an evil business who, ultimately, only cares about the bottom line, so doing crazy unethical things like mass-cloning/brainwashing a personal army would fit the tone. Or maybe your super villain does have some morals, so he wouldn't do this, despite the cost (and the PR issues) of using real people. It's hard to say! You know your story better than us.
  9. cak85

    cak85 Scribe

    Now that I think about it - aren't the stormtroopers from Star Wars basically an army of cloned henchmen? Granted, I am not super familiar with Star Wars so I could be wrong about this!
  10. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    This is an easy one. Cloned henchmen can't hit a target with their gun / laser blaster even if it hit them in the face. They're basically blind or have terrible hand-eye coordination. So the "good guys" can just charge through them, laying waste to them without ever getting hit, let alone killed. Apart from the one red-shirt who was brought along by the good guys specifically for that purpose of course.

    Evidence: pretty much any movie where an evil overlord employs cloned henchmen.
  11. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    All of the above are valid points. What I think is that if you clone the henchmen using the same "recipe", then there would be a small chance of divergent behavior in a small number of the clones. (think like 1 in 1,000) but if you have made tens or hundreds of thousands, then you might have a serious problem if these divergents decide to go against the evil overlord.
  12. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    There actually is another real weakness with this plan. And that is sameness of thought. If all your minions are exactly the same and get the same upbringing, then they will all think the same. Yes, there's a whole nature/nuture and free will debate here, but since you're artificially growing adults I'm assuming some kind of programming is being done to them.

    This sameness of though gives 2 major issues. The first is that the best teams have a combination of skills and personalities. Look at big sports teams. There's the superstar's, the leaders who get paid the most and perform the critical role in the team in terms of scoring goals. And then there's the suport characters, who do the dirty work and in doing so enable the superstar to excel. There are people who put others in place, there's those who do their own thing, there are those who get the most joy in making others succeed. To continue with the sports teams, there's defenders, midfielders and forwards. They all bring different skills to a team and a team needs all of them. And then there's all the support staff, with coaches, medical professionals, managers and so on.

    The other issue is that sameness of thought will leave you very vulnerable to unconventional thinking. If everyone thinks the same way, then everyone will quickly end up being in agreement about the best approach to something or the biggest threat. There will be no one who raises their hand to say "are you sure it's a good idea to have a big, red self-destruct button out in the open for everyone to see and push?"

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