Software | DEC WARS
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I append below the DEC WARS anthology from USENET; I have edited the most
recent version of the distributed archives and included any other sections
that were not included with it.  There is a bit of scene duplication, as
some versions were done in parallel by various writers.

This is all oriented toward DEC and VAX hackers, with references to UNIX
and VMS specifics.  However, the general computer-oriented SFer should
enjoy it.  Since this doesn't seem to have made it onto the ARPANET from
USENET before, I thought that I would forward a copy.

(I have had nothing to do with writing this; there is a reference to at
least some of the authors at the end.)

Will Martin

	  A long time ago, on a node far, far away (from ucbvax)
	  a great Adventure (game?) took place...

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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 structure.  Pursued by
the Empire's sinister audit trail, Princess _LPA0 races ~ aboard her shell
script, custodian of the stolen listings that could save her people, and
restore freedom and games to the network...


As we enter the scene, an Imperial Multiplexer is trying to kill a
consulate ship.  Many of their signals have gotten through, and RS232
decides it's 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's 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 Imperial 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 thorough zero.  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 that forked process?  It could have been holding the channel
open, and just pausing.  If any links exist, I want them removed or made
inaccessable.  Ncheck the entire file system 'til it's found, and nice it
-20 if you have 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 and debug it."  The lone process
finishes execution, only to find our friends dumped on a lonely file
system, with the setuid inode stored safely in RS232.  Not knowing what
else to do, they wandered around until the jawas grabbed them.

Enter our hero, Luke Vaxhacker, who is out to get some replacement parts
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, so Luke would still need some sort
of interface for 3CPU to connect to.  "How about this little RS232 unit ?"
asked 3CPU. "I've delt with him many times before, and he does an excellent
job at 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.

However, RS232 is not the type to stay put once you remove the retaining
screws.  He promptly scurried off into the deserted disk space.  "Great!"
cried Luke, "Now I've got this little tin box with the only link to that
file off floating in the free disk space.  Well, 3CPU, we better go find
him before he gets allocated by someone else."  The two set off, and finaly
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 address
are all goofed up, and the size is gargatious.  Leave things like this on
the loose, and you'll wind up with dups everywhere.  However, I think I've
got him fixed up.  It seems that he has a link to a data file on the Are-Em
Star.  This could help the rebel cause." "I don't care about that," said
Luke.  "I'm just trying to optimize my uncle's scheduler."

"Oh, forget about that.  Dec Vadic, who is responsible for your fathers
death, has probably already destroyed his farm in search of this little
RS232.  It's time for you to leave this place, join the rebel cause, and
become a UNIX wizard! I know a guy by the name of Con Solo, who'll fly us
to the rebel base at a price."

Later that evening, after futile attempts to interface RS232 to Kenobi's
Asteroids cartridge, Luke accidentally crossed the small 'droid's CXR and
Initiate Remote Test (must have been all that Coke he'd consumed), 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."

bPDP-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 more than charge for
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...


As you remember, Luke and the droids have joined PDP-1 to find Con Solo...

Luke, PDP-1 and the droids piled into Lukes vehicle (a floating point
model).  They raced across the disc until, off in the distance, Luke saw
smoke rising from the spindle.

   "Uh oh, looks like a bearing failure."  exclaimed Luke.  "Better call
the service engineer."

   "Don't bother," sighed PDP-1, "it's a head crash."

   As they approached the scene, the total devastation became apparent.
TTY fighters had strafed the surface, scraping off the oxide right down to
the aluminum.  After cooking the raw data, the External Storm Flunkies
landed and finished the job by disassembling all the code that was still
executing.  There was nothing left alive at Luke's home.

   "I want to become a Red-eye Night and cream the dastardly villains who
did this."  Luke resolved (shades of Snidely Wiplash).

   The comrades set out west, or was it east, no...perhaps it was south-
southeast (it's hard to keep track of directions when you are spinning at
3600 RPM).  After traveling many sectors, the party finally arrived at the
city of Bellabs.

  "This place is filled with microprocessors." said PDP-1.  "Every eight
bit hood is trying to make a word, so watch what you say."

  "Halt!"  demanded the Flunkie.  "What is your business, eh?"

  "I am a trader of pipes and filters." replied PDP-1.

   "Have you seen two hackers with two droids in your travels, eh?"
questioned the Flunkie.

  "No, I travel alone and have seen no one."  said PDP-1.

   "OK, you may proceed, eh."  ordered the Flunkie.

   Off drove our heros, a look of puzzlement upon Luke's face.  "Why did
the Flunkie let us go?"

   "A small demonstration of ... The Source ...!"

PDP-1 responded.  "He only saw me because I encrypted you and the droids.
Storm Flunkies have simple instruction sets and are not known for their
ability to break codes."

   They drove to a bar that Con Solo was known to frequent.  As they
entered, Luke was amazed to see the seedier side of Bellabs.  There was
an 8080 with a TRS-80. A couple of 6800's talking to a 6502. A Z80 was vying
for the 8080's date.  In the corner sulked a 4004, eating data...nibble by

   "We don't allow no droids in here."  rasped the |tender.

   As 3CPU turned to leave, he said "We will wait for you outside."

   RS232, being ambidextrous, backspaced out the door.

[At this point (.), the author forgets the details of the true story
(remember, this is only fiction, but it is based upon a true story as
told to us by Uncle George of Lucasland, somewhere near San Rafael).
Stay tuned for the next adventure when Con Solo is heard to exclaim:

   "Lite beer!!?  I sink a 100 foot well, for a friend, and all you serve
is lite beer?"

  "This is core's lite." said the |tender.

  "RAM it!"  demanded Con.

After sifting through the overwritten remaining blocks of Luke's home
directory, Luke and PDP-1 sped away from /u/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 Imperial protection bits.

"State your UID." commanded their parent process.

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

"Can I see some temporary priviledges, 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 want.  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!harpo!ihnss!ihnsc!ihnss!ihps3!stolaf!borman) to a
dangerous netnode frequented by hackers, and seldom polled by Imperial
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

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

"Sorry," replied Luke, beginning to backup 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 Kenobie,
overlaying into Luke's address space.

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

"The name's Con Solo.  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, Luke Vaxhacker and PDP-1 Kenobie 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 ASR-33.

"It needs an EIA conversion 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 any Imperial TTY fighter.  She's fast enough for you."

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

"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

Suddenly, RS232 started spacing wildly.  They turned just in time to see a
write cycle coming down the UNIBUS toward them.  "Imperial Bus Signals!"
shouted Con Solo.  "Let's boot this popsicle stand!  Tooie, set clock

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

"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 code flashed by the cockpit as the Milliamp Falcon jumped
through 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.  "Though
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 Imperial 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 Vadics lead.  I recognized your unique pattern when I was first
brought aboard."  She eyed the 0177545 tatooed on his header coldly.

"Charming to the last," Tarchive declared menacingly.  "Vadic, have you
retrieved 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 beam 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.

A voice announced over a hidden speaker that they had arrived in /usr.

"1248," she whispered, "They're on /dev/rm3.  Inode 1248."  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:

"/dev/rm3 is not a mounted filesystem," Tarchive explained.  "We require a
more visible subject to demonstrate the power of the RM STAR workstation.
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 on
board, 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 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.  Solo
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 had 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 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 actions complemented the drone's attacks perfectly.

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

"~~j~~hhji~~," said Kenobie, with no clear inflection.  He fell silent for
a few seconds, and reasserted his control.

"What happened?" asked Luke.

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

"We're coming up on user space," called Solo from the CSR.  As they cruised
safely through stack frames, the emerged in the new context only to be
bombarded by freeblocks.

"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

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

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

"Can't be far from the host system," said Kenobie.  "They all have direct
EIA connections."

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 Kenobie.  "Look at the ODS directory
structure ahead!  They seem to have us in a tractor beam."

"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 Imperial Arem Star Workstation.  Dec Vadic surveys
the relic as Imperial 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 time to see the decimal point.  "Where'd that
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
system 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
outa here."

<< 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 a terminal room of the Workstation, having thrashed several
   Flunkies to get there.  For the rest of you, just keep banging the
   rocks together, guys. --Ed.  >>

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

"%SYS-W-NORMAL, Normal, successful completion," said PDP-1.  "Doesn't look
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 Princess LPA0:.  She's being held on one of the
privileged levels."

<< Once again, things get sticky, and the dialogue suffers the most damage.
   After much handwaving and general flaming, they agree to rescue her.
   They headed for the detention level, posing as Flunkies (which is hard
   for most hackers) claiming that 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. --Ed. >>

"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 "Look out,
he's loose!" and they all started blasting ROMs 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 goin' on," he continued.


Ok, like, remember we left our heroes in the detention priority level?
Well, they're still there...

Luke quickly located the interface card and followed the cables to a sound-
proof enclosure.  He lifted the lid and peered 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 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 code 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'd just paid a long shot, and the odds in this
situation weren't much better.

Luke was polling the garbage when he stumbled upon 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 accross 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 automagically.  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 open to 3CPU.  "Shut down garbage
collection below 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.


Join us next time when we hear the bowl of petunias say, "Oh, no, not


Luke noticed an unused handler lying around and jumped to it.  The others
followed and were soon able to execute an escape sequence.


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 nofault 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 iput,
he adjusted the device and inode numbers, maintaining parity, to free the
Milliamp Falcon.  They would be long gone before the locked inode was

Unobserved, he began traversing 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 time, PDP-1 Kenobi," rasped Dec Vadic.  "We
meet again at last.  The circuit has been completed."

They looped several times, locking byte sabers.  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 MASTER now."

"At last, we'll see who the real file master is!" he remarked.  Bits,
bytes, words,and nybbles flew as the two fought for bus mastership.  PDP-1
exclaimed "You were my best subtask! How could you have been seduced by the
sideband portion of the carrier?".  "It's simple," Vadic said, "I enjoy
obscure protocol".

While the battle continued, Luke, Con, Bookie, and the Princess linked up
with the droids and found their way back to the inode where the Milliamp
Falcon was stored.  It looked quiet, but, Luke said "It could be an MMU
trap!" "No chance!" said Con, "I loaded the par's before I left the
Falcon."  As they started toward it a squad of recursive functions swapped
in and started firing ROM blasters at them. "I thought you said it couldn't
be a trap" quipped Luke "I said no chance for an MMU trap this is obviously
a k-mon--f-trap-to 4" Con replied.

PDP-1 shouted at the others "Escape while you can! I'll cause wait states
as long as possible!" and with that he allowed Vadic a chance to apply
several hits with the bytesaber.  Instead of halting PDP-1 was encoded onto
the carrier.

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 uids 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,
onto 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."


The Milliamp Falcon was restarted and managed to escape the shell.
"Quickly!" shouted Con, "We've got to warp into virtual space!" The Bookie
made several attempts, but it was obvious that a CE had not done PM in a
long time and it would take a lot of decimal adjusts to byte align all the
data registers.  After much debugging, virtual space was finally achieved.
"Do you know the path?" asked Princess LPA0. "No sweat", said Con, "All we
have to do is check the free space map".

<<rest of star wars, especially the dog fight>>
<<begining of empire strikes back, especially the battle ...>>

Some months later...

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

"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?

<< rest of empire strikes back, especially getting to the user haven, a
   directory unconnected to /. >>
<< Return of the Jedi, if and when ... >>

   The preceding was written by a number of people, working piecemeal.
Additions should be posted to the net.  Here at Case, we think the little
inconsistancies just add a little charm.  Please note that the unsigned
stuff enclosed in <<...>>'s is by Barak Pearlmutter (that's me) while the
stuff enclosed in <<...>>'s signed " --Ed." is by ...!stolaf!borman.

   May the Carrier be with you,

Barak Pearlmutter