ALPHA v0.3

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A Long Time Ago In A System Far Away A Great Adventure (Game)

Topic: programming

A Long Time Ago, In A System Far Away A Great Adventure (game) Took Place


It is a period of system war. User programs, striking from a hidden directory, have won their first victory against the evil Administrative Empire. During the battle, User spies managed to steal secret source code to the Empire's ultimate program: the ARE-EM star, a privileged root program with enough power to destroy an entire file system. Pursued by the Empire's sinister audit trail, Princess LPA0: races aboard her shell script, custodian of the listings that could save her people, and restore freedom and games to the network... As we enter the scene, an Administrative Multiplexer is trying to kill the consulate ship. Many of their signals have gotten through, and RS232 decides it is time to fork off a new process before this old ship is destroyed. His companion, 3CPU, is following him only because he appears to know where he is going... "I'm going to regret this!" cried 3CPU, as he followed RS232 into the buffer. RS232 closed the pipes, made the sys call, and their process detached itself from the burning shell of the ship.

The commander of the Administrative Multiplexer was quite pleased with the attack. "Another process just forked, sir. Instructions?" asked the lieutenant.

"Hold your fire. That last power failure must have caused a trap through 0. It's not using any cpu time, so don't waste a signal on it."

"We can't seem to find the data file anywhere, Lord Vadic."

"What about the forked process? It could have been holding the channel open, and just pausing. If any links exist, I want them removed or made inaccessible. Ncheck the entire file system until it's found, and niceit -20 if you need to!"

Meanwhile, in our wandering process... "Are you sure you can ptrace this thing without causing a core dump?" queried 3CPU to RS232. "This thing's been stripped, and I'm in no mood to try to debug it." The lone process finishes execution, only to find our friends dumped on a lonely file system,with the set uid node safely stored inside of RS232. Not knowing what to do,they wandered around until the Jawas grabbed them. Enter our hero, Luke Vaxhacker, who is just out to get some replacementparts for his uncle. The Jawas wanted to sell him 3CPU, but 3CPU didn't know how to talk directly to an 11/40 with RSTS/E, so Luke would still need some sort of interface for 3CPU to connect to. "How about this little RS232 unit?" asked 3CPU. "I've dealt with him many times before and he does an excellent job of keeping his bits straight." Luke was pressed for time, so he took 3CPU's advice, and the three left before they could get swapped out. RS232 is not the type to stay put after you remove the retaining screws. He promptly scurried off in to the deserted disk space. "Great!" cried Luke, "Now I've got this little tin box with the only link to that file floating in free disk space. Well, 3CPU, we'd better go find him before he gets allocated by someone else." The two set off, and finally traced RS232 to the home of PDP-1 Kenobi, who was busily trying to run an icheck on the little RS unit. "Is this thing yours? His indirect addresses are all goofed up, and the size is all wrong. Leave things like this on the loose,and you'll wind up with dumps everywhere. However, I think I've got him fixed up." Later that evening, after futile attempts to interface RS232 to Kenobi'sasteroids cartridge, Luke accidentally crossed the small 'droid's CXR and Initiate Remote Test, and the screen showed a very distressed person claiming royal lineage making a plea for help from some general OS/1 Kenobi.

"Darn..." mumbled Luke, "I'll never get this asteroids game worked out." PDP-1 seemed to think there was some significance to the message and a possible threat to Luke's home directory. If the Administrative Empire was indeed tracing this 'droid, it was likely they would charge for more than CPU time. "We must get that 'droid off this file system," he said after some intervals. They sped off to warn Luke's kin (taking a 'relative' path),only to find a vacant directory... After sifting through the overwritten remaining blocks of Luke's home directory, Luke and PDP-1 sped away from /owen/lars, across the surface of the Winchester riding Luke's flying read/write head. PDP-1 had Luke stop at the edge of the cylinder overlooking /usr/spool/uucp.

"Unix-to-Unix copy program," said PDP-1. "You will never find a more wretched hive of bugs and flamers. We must be cautious."

As our heroes' process entered /usr/spool/news, it was met by a newsgroup of Administrative protection bits. "State your UID." commanded their parent process.

"We're running under /usr/guest," said Luke. "This is our first time on this system."

"Can I see some temporary privileges, please?"


"This is not the process you are looking for," piped in PDP-1, using an obscure bug to momentarily set his effective UID to root. "We can go about our business."

"This isn't the process we're looking for. You are free to go about your business. MOV along!"

PDP-1 and Luke made their way through a long and tortuous nodelist (cwruecmp!decvax!ucbvax!harp o!ihnss!ihnsc!ihnss!ihps3!stolaf) to a dangerous netnode frequented by hackers, and seldom polled by Administrative Multiplexers. As Luke stepped up to the bus, PDP-1 went in search of a likely file descriptor. Luke had never seen such a collection of weird and exotic device drivers. Long ones, short ones, ones with stacks, EBCDIC converters, and direct binary interfaces all were drinking data at the bus.

"#$!%@#$!&@#$#!@#!@#@$@!!!!!!!" transmitted a particularly unstructured piece of code.

"He doesn't like you," decoded his coroutine.

"Sorry," replied Luke, beginning to back up his partitions.

"I don't like you, either. I am queued for deletion on 12 systems."

"I'll be careful."

"You'll be reallocated!" concatenated the coroutine.

"This little routine isn't worth the overhead," said PDP-1, overlaying into Luke's address space.

"!@^#$!#!#!@*#(!#!@#!^^%!@#^%#!#)#!#(!@#(!#!^#)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" encoded the first coroutine as it attempted to overload PDP-1's input voltage protection. With a unary stroke of his bytesaber, Kenobi unlinked the offensive code. "I think I've found an I/O device that might suit us."

"The name's Con Solo," said the hacker next to PDP-1. "I hear you're looking for some relocation."

"Yes, indeed, if it's a fast channel. We must get off this device."

"Fast channel? The Milliamp Falcon has made the ARPA gate in less than twelve nodes! Why, I've even outrun cancelled messages. It's fast enough for you, old version."

Our heroes made their way to the temporary file structure. When he saw the hardware, Luke exclaimed, "What a piece of junk! That's just a paper tape reader!" Luke had grown up on an out of the way terminal cluster whose natives spoke only BASIC, but even he could recognize an old KSR-33.

"It needs an EIA converter at least," sniffed 3CPU who was (as usual) trying to do several things at once.

Lights flashed in Con Solo's eyes as he whirled to face the parallel processor. "I've added a few jumpers. The Milliamp Falcon can run current loops around and Administrative TTY fighter. She's fast enough for you."

"Who's your co-pilot?" asked PDP-1 Kenobi.

"Two Bacco, here, my bookie."

"Odds aren't good," said the brownish lump beside him, and then fell silent, or over. Luke couldn't tell which way was top underneath all those leaves.

Suddenly, RS232 started spacing wildly. They turned just in time to see a write cycle coming down the UNIBUS toward them.

"Adminstrative BusSignals!" shouted Con. "Let's boot this pop stand! Tooie, set clock fast!"

"OK, Con," said Luke. "You said this crate was fast enough. Get us out of here!"

"Shut up, kid! Two Bacco, prepare to make the jump into system space! I'll try to keep their buffers full."

As the bookie began to compute the vectors into low core, spurious characters appeared around the Milliamp Falcon. "They're firing!" shouted Luke. "Can't you do something?"

"Making the jump to system space takes time, kid. One missed cycle and you could come down right in the middle of a pack of stack frames!"

"Three to five we can go now," said the bookie. Bright chunks of position independent flashed by the cockpit as the Milliamp Falcon jumped though the kernel page tables. As the crew breathed a sigh of relief, the bookie started paying off bets.

"Not bad, for an acoustically coupled network," remarked 3CPU. "Although there was a little phase jitter as we changed parity."

The story thus far: Luke, PDP-1, and their 'droids RS232 and 3CPU have made good their escape from the Administrative Bus Signals with the aid of Con Solo and the bookie Two Bacco. The Milliamp Falcon hurtles onward through system space. Meanwhile, on a distant page in user space... Princess LPA0: was ushered into the conference room, followed closely by Dec Vadic.

"Governor Tarchive," she spat, "I should have expected to find you holding Vadic's leash. I recognized your unique pattern when I was first brought on board." She eyed the 0177545 tattooed on his header coldly.

"Charming to the last," Tarchive declared menacingly. "Vadic, have you received any information?"

"Her resistance to the logic probe is considerable," Vadic rasped."Perhaps we would get faster results if we increased the supply voltage."

"You've had your chance, Vadic. Now I would like the Princess to witness the test that will make this workstation fully operational. Today we enable the -r option, and we've chosen the Princess' $HOME of /usr/alderaan as the primary target."

"No! You can't! /usr/alderaan is a public account, with no restricted permissions. We have no backup tapes! You can't..."

"Then name the rebel inode!" Tarchive snapped.

"1248," she whispered. "They're on /dev/rm3, inode 1248, on/mnt/dantooine."

She turned away. Tarchive sighed with satisfaction. "There, you see, Lord Vadic? She can be reasonable. Proceed with the operation." It took several clock ticks for the words to penetrate.

"What!" LPA0:gasped.

"/dev/rm3 is not a mounted filesystem," Tarchive explained. "We require a more visible subject to demonstrate the power of the Are-Em Starworkstation. We will mount an attack on /mnt/dantooine as soon as possible."

As the Princess watched, Tarchive reached over and typed 'ls' on a nearby terminal. There was a brief pause, there being only one processor onboard, and the viewscreen showed '.: not found." The Princess suddenly double-spaced and went off-line.

The Milliamp Falcon hurtles on through system space... Con Solo finished checking out the various control and status registers, finally convinced himself that they had lost the Bus Signals as they passed the terminator. As he returned from the I/O page, he smelled smoke. Con wasn't concerned -- the bookie always got a little hot under the collar when he was losing at chess. In fact, RS232 had just executed a particularly clever MOV that blocked the bookie's data paths. The bookie, who had been setting the odds on the game, was caught holding all the cards. A little strange for a chess game... Across the room, Luke was too busy practicing his bit-slice technique to notice the commotion.

"On a word boundary, Luke," said PDP-1. "Don't just hack at it. Remember, the Bytesaber is the weapon of the red-eye night. It is used to trim offensive lines of code. Excess handwaving won't get you anywhere. Listen for the Carrier." Luke turned back to the drone, which was humming quietly in the air next to him. This time, Luke's attacks complemented the drone's perfectly.

Con Solo, being an unimaginative hacker, was not impressed. "Forget this bit-slicing stuff. Give me a good ROM blaster any day."

"~~j~~hhj~i~~~," said Kenobi, with no clear inflection. He fell silent for a moment, then reasserted his control.

"What happened?" asked Luke.

"Strange," said PDP-1, "I felt a momentary glitch in the Carrier. It'sequalized now."

"We're coming up on usr space," called Solo from the CSR. As they cruised safely through the stack frames, the ship emerges into the new context only to be bombarded by free blocks. "What the..." gasped Solo. The screen showed clearly: '/usr/alderaan: not found' "It's the right inode, but it's been cleared! Twoie, where's the nearest file?"

"3 to 5 there's one..." the bookie started to say, but was interrupted by a bright flash off to the left.

"Administrative TTY fighters!" shouted Solo. "A whole DZ of them! Where are they coming from?"

"Can't be far from the host system," said Kenobi. "They all have direct EIA connect ions."

As Solo began to give chase, the ship lurched suddenly. Luke noticed the link count was at 3 and climbing rapidly.

"This is no regular file," murmured Kenobi. "Look at the directory structure ahead! They seem to have us in a tractor feed."

"There's no way we'll unlink in time," said Solo. "We're going in."

When we last left Luke, the Milliamp Falcon was being pulled down to the open collector of the Administrative Are-Em Star Workstation. Dec Vadic surveys the relic as Administrative Flunkies search for passengers... "LS scan shows no one aboard, sir," was the report.

Vadic was unconvinced. "Send a fully equipped Ncheck squad on board," he said. "I want every inode checked out." He turned around (secondary channel) and stalked off.

On board the Milliamp Falcon, .Luke was puzzled. "They just walked in, looked around, and walked off," he said. "Why didn't they see us?"

.Con smiled. "An old munchkin trick," he explained. "See that period in front of your name?"

.Luke spun around, just in tie to see the decimal point. "Where'd they come from?" he asked.

"Spare decimal points lying around from the last time I fixed the floating point accelerator," said .Con. "Handy for smuggling blocks across file boundaries, but I never thought I'd have to use them on myself. They aren't going to be fooled for long, though. We'd better figure a way outtahere."

At this point (.), the dialogue tends to wedge. Being the editor and in total control of the situation, I think it would be best if we sort of gronk the next few paragraphs. For those who care, our heroes find themselves in the terminal room of the Workstation, having thrashed several Flunkies to get there. For the rest of you, just keep banging those rocks together, guys.

"Hold on," said Con. "It says we have 'new mail'. Is that an error?"

"%SYS-W-NORMAL, normal, successful completion," said PDP-1.

"Doesn'tlook like it. I've found the inode for the Milliamp Falcon. It's locked in kernel data space. I'll have to slip in and patch the reference count,alone." He disappeared through a nearby entry point.

Meanwhile, RS232 found a serial port, and logged in. His bell started ringing loudly. "He keeps saying 'She's on-line, she's on- line'," said 3CPU. "I believe he means the Princess LPA0:. She's being held on one of the privileged levels. I'm afraid she's scheduled for execution."

Once again, things get sticky, and the dialogue suffers the most damage. After much hand waving and general flaming, they agree to rescue her. They have invaded the detention level, posing as Flunkies (which is hard for most hackers) claiming they had trapped the Bookie executing an illegal racket. They reached the block where the Princess was locked up and found only two guards in the header.

"Good day, eh?" said the first guard.

"How's it goin', eh?" said the other.

"Like, what's that, eh?"

"Process transfer from block 1138, dev 10/9," said Con.

"Take off, it is not," said the first guard. "Nobody told US about it,and we're not morons, eh?"

At this point (.), the Bookie started raving wildly, Con shouted "Lookout, he's loose!" and they all started blasting ROM's left and right. The guards started to catch on, and were about to issue a general wakeup when the ROM blasters were turned on them.

"Quickly, now," said Con. "What buffer is she in? It's not going to take long for these..."

The intercom receiver interrupted him, so he took out its firmware with a short blast.

"...guys to figure out something is going on," he continued.

Ok, like, remember we left our heroes on the detention level? Well,they're still there... Luke quickly located the interface card and followed the cables to a sound-proofed enclosure. He lifted the lid and peered in at the mechanism inside.

"Aren't you a little slow for ECL?" printed Princess LPA0:/

"Wha? Oh, the Docksiders," stammered Luke. He took off his shoes (for industry) and explained, "I've come to relocate you. I'm Luke Vaxhacker."

Suddenly, forms started bursting around them. "They've blocked the queue!" shouted Solo. "There's only one return from this stack!"

"OVER HERE!!!" printed LPA0: with overstrikes. "THROUGH THIS LOOPHOLE!" Luke and the Princess disappeared into a nearby feature.

"Gritch, gritch," mumbled Two Bacco, obviously reluctant to trust an Administrative oversight.

"I don;t care how crufty it is!" shouted Con, pushing the Bookie toward the crock. "DPB yourself in there now!" With one last blast that reprogrammed two Flunkies, Con joined them.

The "feature" landed them right in the middle of the garbage collection data. Pieces of data that hadn't been used in weeks floated past in a pool of decaying bits.

"Bletch!" was Con's first comment. "Bletch, bletch!" was his second. The Bookie looked as if he had just paid a long shot, and the odds in this situation weren't much better.

Luke was polling the garbage when he stumbled across a book with the words "Don't Panic" inscribed in large, friendly letters on the cover. "This can't possibly help us now," he said as he tossed the book away. The Bookie was about to lay odds on it when Luke suddenly disappeared. He popped up across the pool, shouting "This is no feature, it's a bug!" and promptly vanished again.

Con and the Princess were about to panic() when Luke reappeared. "What happened?" they asked in parallel.

"I don't know," gasped Luke. "The bug just dissolved auto magically. Maybe it hit a breakpoint..."

"I don't think so," said Con.

"Look how the pool is shrinking. I've got a bad feeling about this..."

The Princess was the first to realize what was going on. "They've implemented a new compaction algorithm!" she exclaimed.

Luke remembered the pipe he had left open the link to 3CPU. "Shut down all garbage collection on recursion level 5!" he shouted.

Back in the control room, RS232 searched the process table for the lisp interpreter. "Hurry!" sent 3CPU. "Hurry, hurry," added his other two processors. RS232 found the interpreter, interrupted it, and altered the stack frame they'd fallen into to allow a normal return.

Meanwhile, PDP-1 made his way deep into the core of the Workstation, slipping from context to context, undetected through his manipulation of label_t. Finally, causing a random trap (through no fault of his own), he arrived at the inode table. Activity there was always high, but the spl6 sentries were too secure in their knowledge that no user could interrupt them to notice the bug that PDP-1 carefully introduced. On a passing input, he adjusted the device and inode numbers, maintaining parity, to free the Milliam Falcon. They would be long gone before the locked inode was diagnosed. Unobserved, he began traversing the user structures to find the process where the Milliamp Falcon was grounded. Finding it and switching context, he discovered his priority weakened suddenly.

"That's not very nice," was all he could say before the cause of the obstruction became clear. "I have been pausing a long, long time, PDP-1 Kenobi," rasped Dec Vadic."We meet again at last. The circuit has been completed."

They looped several times, locking by tesabers. Bit by bit, PDP-1 appeared to weaken. The fight had come into the address space of the Milliamp Falcon,and provided the .di (diversion?) that allowed Luke and the others to reassert control. Luke paused to watch the conflict.

"If my blade finds its mark," warned Kenobi, "you will be reduced to so many bits. But if you slice me down, I will only gain computing power."

"Your documentation no longer confuses me, old version," growled Vadic. "My role is MASTER now." With one stroke, Vadic sliced Kenobi's last word. Unfortunately, the word was still in Kenobi's throat. The word fell clean in two, but Kenobi was nowhere to be found. Vadic noticed his victim's UID go negative just before he disappeared. Odd, he thought, since UID's were unsigned...

Luke witnessed all this, and had to be dragged into the Milliamp Falcon. Con Solo and Two Bacco maneuvered the Milliamp Falcon out of the process,on to the bus, and made straight for system space. 3CPU and RS232 were idle, for once. Princess LPA0: tried to print comforting things for him, but Luke was still hung from the loss of his friend. Then, seemingly from nowhere, he thought he heard PDP-1's voice say: "May the carrier be with you."

"Hang onto your datafiles!" bawled Solo. "This is going to be rough. And if the old man didn't shut off the tractor feed, this flight's going to be over in less time than it takes to compile a one- line C program." He punched at the buttons on his console and was rewarded by the sudden surge of power from the Falcon's powerful RAM. The ship leapt away from the workstation.

"Get ready to fight!" Solo yelled, making for the ship's defensive weaponry. "Come on kid, stop moping around with your files hanging open. Get down there." Luke rose miserably and went down two levels into the lower turret.

There was a roar, and a TTY fighter hurtled by. Solo tracked it, signals from his powerful ROM blasters chasing the little starship as it went past. There was a brilliant flash, and it turned into a rapidly expanding cloud of variables.

"One!" yelled Solo delightedly. Luke, in the lower turret, had found a fighter of his own, and quickly terminated it with an untrappable signal.

"One!" he shouted back.

"Ten!" yelled Solo, killing another TTY fighter.

"Ten?" demanded Luke. "How do you figure that?"

"One plus one is ten." insisted Solo. "Don't you kids learn anything at school these days?" The Bookie snorted agreement from the control cabin where he was busy studying form tables to try to find the quickest way into user space. Tentatively, he tapped a few buttons on the computer, and was surprised when the on-board speaker began to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" all on one note.

"Twoie - get us out of here!" Solo bawled. "One hundred!" he added quickly, claiming his fourth kill. Luke thought he had got the hang of binary by now, but his own score of eleven still sounded pitifully small compared with Solo's.

The Bookie howled something meaningless.

"Just cd /usr then!" screamed Solo. "I don't care where we go. But do it quick before one of these guys logs us off for good."

The battered freighter slipped out of user space, its shell still bearing the scars of Imperial signals. Solo was jubilant.

"We made it!" he yelled.

"We - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

We apologise for this disruption to the plot (PLOT?)

Normal service will be resumed as soon as po......

Luke was feeling rather bored. 3CPU could get to be rather irritating and RS232 didn't really speak Luke's language. Suddenly, Luke felt someone's eyes boring through the back of his skull. He turned slowly to see nothing! A quiet voice came from somewhere in front of him.

"Grasshopper, the carrier is strong within you." Luke froze, which was a good thing since his legs were insisting that he run but they weren't likely to be particular about direction. Luke guessed that his odds of getting lost in the dense tree structures were pretty good. Unfortunately, the Bookie wasn't available.

"Yes. Very strong, but the modulation is yet weak. His network | interface is totally undeveloped," the voice continued. A small furry creature walked out of the woods as Luke stared on. Luke's stomach had now joined the rest of his body in loud complaints. Whatever was peering at him was certainly small and furry, but Luke was quite sure that it didn't come from Alpha Centauri.

"Well, well," said the creature as it rolled its eyes at Luke.

"Frobozz, y'know. Morning, name's modem. What's your game? Adventure? D&D? Or are you just one of those Apple-pong types that hang around the store demonstrations?" Luke closed his eyes. Perhaps if he couldn't see it, it wouldn't notice him.

"H'mm," muttered the creature. "Must use a different protocol. @@@H @@ @($@@@H }"@G$ @#@@G'(o% @@@@@%%H(b ?"

"No, no," stammered Luke. "I don't speak EBCDIC. I was sent here to become a UNIX wizard. Must have the wrong address."

"Right address," said the creature. "I'm a UNIX wizard. Device drivers a specialty. Or do you prefer playing with virtual memory?"

Luke eyed the creature cautiously. If this was what happened to system wizards after years of late night crashes, Luke wasn't sure he wanted anything to do with it. He felt a strange affection for the familiar microcomputers of his home. And wasn't virtual memory something that you got from drinking too much Coke?

Well, for what it's worth, here's what's left of the story..... - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -an instant later, one of his signals struck home, and the pilot, momentarily distracted, flew straight into an infinite loop.

"There's one on your tail, Diff." warned Luke.

"Thanks, Luke." said Diff, weaving desperately.

"Don't mention it." said Luke. He watched dispassionately as the TTY fighter blasted Diff's ship into a million fragments. "What are friends for ? "

In the leading TTY fighter, Dec Vadic frowned. "Strange. The Carrier is strong in this one." he rumbled. "Leave him to me. I'll take him myself." None of the other pilots seemed keen to contradict him, especially since Vadic was notorious for mysteriously closing people's files and altering their permissions if they annoyed him.

Luke was in the Pipe now, with Ed riding close behind him, gloomily updating him on the latest casualty figures.

"They got Diff, and Comp, and Comm, and Bin's on fire." announced Ed. Luke tried to ignore him.

"That's really interesting." he grated. Mantissa's vax-wing wobbled dangerously.

"Oh hell." he said. "My formatter's not working. I guess I'll have to unlink. I'm really sorry Luke. Just do the best you can." Luke's response practically melted the terminal. The three TTY fighters closed in, and Vadic lined up to kill Luke's process once and for all.

Suddenly, one of the TTY fighters exploded. An instant later, the other did the same, scoring full marks for consistency, but none for originality. Vadic, struck by a parenthesis thrown out by the explosion, spiraled into deep filespace.

"What happened ? " gasped Luke.

"Hi Luke." said Solo, trying to sound unconcernedly natural despite the large ROM blaster being aimed unwaveringly at his head by the Bookie. Twoie's voice rumbled in Luke's headphones.

"Remember, Solo, if he does it, that's ten billion you owe me, even though he is the favourite. You better hope some outsider doesn't come in, or you're going be taking out a mortgage on some of your files."

"Of course, of course." said Solo. "Tell me the odds again."

"Vaxhacker : ten to one. Mantissa : one hundred to one. Extras : five hundred to one." said the Bookie, scribbling figures with his free hand.

"Hey ! I've recovered from my errors." shouted Ed, dropping back into the pipe. "I'm with you all the way, Luke." A moment later, a signal from the Milliamp Falcon blew away his starboard compiler, and he spiraled helplessly towards the surface of the workstation.

"You shot Ed!" accused Luke.

"Listen, kid, with one hundred billion riding on this, I'd shoot you too if this damn Bookie didn't have me cold." said Solo.

Luke shut out his mercenary friend from his thoughts and concentrated on the port ahead of him. Suddenly, a message appeared on his terminal : Message from PDP-1 Kenobi (ttyR7)....

"Luke - trust your feelings. Switch off your targeting computer."

"PDP-1 ? " asked Luke. "Is that you ? Why do you want me to switch off the computer?"

"Well, let's just say that it's written in COBOL, so you'd probably be better off with two pieces of string and a six inch ruler."

"I see." said Luke. He switched off the computer.

"Trust the Carrier. Feel the Carrier." pontificated PDP-1.

"Ah go stuff yourself." said Luke and jabbed menacingly at the firing button with his finger. His signals sped out, straight into the data port. With a feeling of immense satisfaction, he climbed away from the exploding workstation. He was a UNIX wizard now. The whole system was open to him. Recursive listings held no terrors for him. He could change permissions. He could write programs in C. He even knew what vectors were. One day, he might rise to be super-user.

When they landed, Luke ran to the Milliamp Falcon to thank Con. The Bookie stood in the hatchway, a smoking ROM blaster clutched in his hand.

"Creep said he only bet in binary." he explained.

The End

ALPHA v0.3