Software Wars (a Star Wars parody)
From mrc@Tomobiki-Cho.CAC.Washington.EDU Mon Nov 19 18:39:32 1990
From: mrc@Tomobiki-Cho.CAC.Washington.EDU (Mark Crispin)
Subject: Re: Once upon a time (long)
Here's "Software Wars", which I wrote in 1978 as a parody of STAR
WARS, "Hardware Wars", Computer Science teaching fads (at the time
Pascal was the rage), and the (at that time) relatively new trend of
TV programs to suggest racy content without actually having any (or
rather, racy for your Ladies' Church Group -- today all TV in the US
is like this).
It presupposes some knowledge of the WAITS operating system (a PDP-10
OS that had a common ancestor with DEC's TOPS-10 OS in the late 60's)
and of the social and cultural environment at the Stanford Artificial
Intelligence Laboratory in its twilight years (SAIL effectively ceased
to exist in 1980).
Hit 'n' now if you don't want to see it.
by Mark Crispin
This story is intended for adult reading
only. While not "hard core", there is a
lot of rude language, rowdyness, and some
sexual content. With this story, you will
gain insight into many things: plagiarism,
the perversity of the author's mind, the
wisdom of the obscenity laws, your
None of this is intended to offend. If
this isn't to your tastes, you'd better
put this story down, back on the juicy
pile of pink-slip paraphernalia where you
found it. If you read on, or even if you
don't, you've been warned.
Copyright © 1978 Mark Crispin
Software Wars 1
The libel laws prevent me from mentioning by name all those who
have helped me in writing this turkey, but I will mention their
contributions here, so that I don't get stuck with all the blame:
To the people who brought us STAR WARS, for a
movie packed with outworn cliches, yet dull; filled
with symbolic symbolisms symbolizing symbolic
nothings, for providing me with ample source
material. All kidding aside, STAR WARS is indeed a
masterpiece of science fiction and fantasy. It is
an honor to be able to spoof it; and more so if my
readers have as much fun reading this little take-
off as I had writing it.
To the people who made HARDWARE WARS, for
starting me off on this thing in the first place.
To everybody here at the lab, for providing me
with material to fill in the gaps in the story. My
apologies to those who might see a bit of themselves
in the story, and yes, my insurance is paid up!
To the computer center where I spent my
undergraduate years, whose regressive and repressive
policies provided me with ample material for the
policies of the Empire.
To the friends who have read and proofread
drafts of the story from time to time, for helping
in some quality control.
And finally, to a good friend, who was hooked
from the beginning; who continually encouraged me as
we saw the story evolve and take a form of its own;
who showed me worlds of science fiction that I
didn't know existed before; and who provided me with
material which eventually determined the shape and
body of this story. Thanks.
Now that that's all taken care of, on with the story...
Software Wars 2
Once upon a time, sort of long ago, well, uh, you know what I mean,
it wasn't really long long ago but it wasn't like yesterday, I mean,
when you say long ago to some people they think like oodles and oodles
of eons ago and other people think it was last night or something, but
this is sort of in the middle long ago oh forget it. Anyway, long ago
and far away, well, not like so far away you can't imagine it I mean you
could probably get to it if you had a fast enough starship and lived
long enough but it wasn't near like next door or on this planet or solar
system or even in this galaxy, like that is near and this was far away
like another universe oh hell forget it.
Long ago and far away, the data processing galaxy was ruled by the
sinister forces of the PASCAL Empire. Years ago, it had been the
Hacking Republic, where all programming languages and programmers lived
together in peace and harmony. The land of the Republic was patrolled
by the Wizards, skilled in all forms of magic, who daily unveiled new
miracles for the wonder of the citizens of the Republic. They drew
their mystical powers from The Hack, which was their succor in any
But the days of the Republic were numbered, for one of the Wizards,
Daemon Feature, fell in with the PASCALs, who brought in crocks and
bletcherousness to the beleaguered Republic. Using methods both
sinister and cunning, he managed to entrap most of the loyal Wizards in
a fencepost error, where they were ruthlessly slaughtered. At last the
Republic was proclaimed to have ended, and the Empire was established
with Recordstructure, the leader of the PASCALs, proclaimed Emperor.
The old Republic's Senate was reduced to a mere rubber stamp for the
Emperor. And the lot of programmers was unhappy.
As our story begins, civil war has broken out. Rebel hackers,
striking out from a hidden data base, have won a surprise victory
against the Empire. In the course of the battle, rebel spies seized
copies of the Empire's design of the TENTH STAR, their new processor and
operating system. Horrified, they transmitted the plans to Princess
Lay-me, to be given to her father, so that the design of the new machine
could be analysed before it became operational. If the rebels fail to
design a winning monitor for it in time, its lossage will spread
throughout the universe. Fear would keep the more timid administrators
in line; and that would be the end of all programming winnage.
Now, a small ship, bearing Princess Lay-me and two snoids, is
speeding through space, an Empire destroyer hot in pursuit and
Software Wars 3
The Princess pleads for help
The Big Nastie, a feared vessel of the Empire's fleet, had now
approached within tractor range of the tiny ship. Already, it was
entangling the smaller vessel in its inescapable web of circular data
structures. Princess Lay-me acted quickly.
"Hey, snoid," she snarled at U-2-buckeroo, a video switched snoid,
"get ready to record a message for me." At that, the snoid made a few
clicking sounds as it mounted a spare cassette and started running.
"NOT NOW!!" Lay-me shrieked. "Wait until I get my negligee on.
How the fuck do you expect me to seduce some poor young kid into doing
all sorts of idiotic things for our cause wearing this? Oh shit, my
hair is messed up too. Fuck it, I'll just change and run a brush
through it a couple of minutes." She was thus engaged as her craft was
slowly being dragged back with greater and greater recursion. Soon its
stack would overflow and all would be lost.
"Okay, pretty shitty but it'll hafta do," she told the waiting
snoid. Then, lying back so as to emphasize her well-endowed cleavage as
much as possible, she began.
"Heeeelp meee," she purred. U-2-buckeroo clicked in surprise at
the sudden, but pleasant, change in her voice. "Oh heeeelp me Moby
Foobar. It's just pooor li'l ol' me all alone in the big bad world." A
tear appeared in her eye and slowly rolled down one cheek. "I just have
to get these papers to my daddy at Automagic or who knows what will
become of me." She started sobbing uncontrollably, and gestured to the
snoid to stop the recording. Instantly she straightened up.
"You got that right?" she growled. Another click. "If you screwed
this up I'll pull yar plug and sell ya for scrap metal." The snoid
beeped in fear as it hurried to assure her no mistakes were made. She
glared at it with a look that would melt titanium, then relaxed.
"Okay, I believe you. Now take these papers and lock them in core.
I don't want nobody getting swapped in until it's finished." The snoid
beeped acknowledgement and departed. Just in time, for at the next
instant in rushed the soldiery of the Empire: CS profs, grad students,
and not a few bureaucrats were among them. They howled with glee at the
sight of the seductively clad Princess. They were about to perform all
sorts of foul deeds upon her body when the ship's intercom rang out with
a feared voice.
"The Princess is not to be molested," said the voice of Daemon
Feature. "She is to be brought to me for interogation immediately." The
boarding party froze, and, grumbling, retreated, leaving an untouched,
but disappointed, princess.
"Oh shit!" she sighed. Daemon Feature was absolutely hopeless.
<<What will happen to the Princess? What does Daemon
Feature want with her? What reader is so naive that
he can't figure it out himself? Read on!>>
Software Wars 4
Snoids are more fun than duckies!
U-2-buckeroo rolled down the corridor, heedless of the loud
commotion in the control room. The Empire would not think of
intercepting a snoid, at least not until too late. But U-2-buckeroo
didn't have much time; the B-movie heavies may be dumb, but they would
figure it out soon enough, too soon if it wasted much time.
"Oh! There you are thweetie!" It was the voice of C-me-poo-poo,
the ship's interior decoration snoid. "Where have you been? I wath tho
worried! Oh dear, oh my, they are going to dithcharge our power packth,
I juth know it. Oh what thall we do oh what thall we do?" As C-me-poo-
poo spoke, its wrist joint wagged in frantic semaphore. "What were you
doing with the Princeth all that time alone, letting me juth worry
mythelf thilly over you?" U-2-buckeroo just rolled by, ignoring the
"Juth where are you going?" C-me-poo-poo demanded. "Thomtimeth you
are juth impothible to talk to. Now come back here." U-2-buckeroo just
rolled on, now heading away from C-me-poo-poo. "Well, I know when I've
been thnubbed. It'th all over between uth." U-2-buckeroo continued on,
and turned into an airlock. C-me-poo-poo stood there for a second, then
dashed into the airlock just before the I-level timeout.
And KERZOOM! They were both whisked away in a single packet (with
the priority bit set) through the network and onto a seemingly desert
host. They were on a bleak, windswept plateau overlooking a searing
desert. There was no sign of life; not that there would be in the
endlessly shifting sands below. C-me-poo-poo was still babbling
endlessly, giving U-2-buckeroo "one last chance" to "save our
U-2-buckeroo started down into the valley. C-me-poo-poo was still
babbling away in despair and finally blew a circuit breaker. U-2-
buckeroo had now reached the valley and was now cutting straight through
the valley towards the outskirts on the other side, where its eventual
It was perilous for U-2-buckeroo to take this route, but it needed
speed, and could not afford the time it would take to go around the long
way. The valley, which had looked desolate from the heights, actually
was filled with mechanical activity of the lowest sort. Here were the
ripoffs of the galaxy. Not a few IBM 370s were there, warring over
their individual territories. U-2-buckeroo's hope was to get through
this jungle unnoticed.
"Wanna date?" asked a cute little System/3 which had boldly walked
up to it. U-2-buckeroo beeped a "No thanks", and instantly the failsafe
systems started passing the message to the system console:
MALFUNCTIONING SNOID. U-2-buckeroo had no time to feep an objection
before it was powered down and moved to the shop for examination. In
its last voltage-starved cycles, it wondered how much longer the author
was going to get away with this sort of garbage. It wasn't the only
<<Are things ever in a mess now! The princess is a
prisoner of Daemon Feature, the snoids are turned
off. Is there any hope? Does anybody care? Read
Software Wars 5
Back on the farm...
Fluke Softwarespecialist sighed with relief as he made the final
pass over the card decks for the day. Then he looked at the horizon; it
was fiery red, but elsewhere night was already setting in. He set his
vessel's autopilot for home, and relaxed.
He had been living here with his aunt and uncle ever since his
parents died when he was a young child. He had been told that they had
been killed when their crippled vessel burned up upon reentry to their
home planet. He had never heard any other account, and his father had
been given full honors by the Empire, but he had heard dark stories that
all was not as it had seemed.
But when he had brought it up to his aunt and uncle, they only
repeated to him what he had already been told. If the truth was any
different, it had been well concealed.
Not that he had any reason to suspect them; they had been like
parents to him and he had always been treated with kindness. His uncle
had lived here since before Fluke was born, and over the years had
established a prosperous, if unpretentious, business, supplying COBOL
utilities for many of the settlements in this quadrant of the galaxy.
Fluke loved them dearly, but he was restless, and did not want to follow
in his uncle's footsteps; he yearned for adventure and excitement.
He joined his uncle, who was busy with a group of snoiders, the
cloaked traders in abandoned junk snoids who wandered around the area.
Good, Fluke thought, he's getting some more snoids. Perhaps with the
new snoids he would be able to leave these card punches forever. His
uncle had decided upon two abandoned snoids which had been found
wandering on the planet; a buckeroo and a poo-poo. Not really what was
needed; but the price was right and perhaps they could be reprogrammed.
His uncle paid for the snoids and they all went inside. Fluke
started cleaning and repairing them (being careful about the poo-poo
lest it get ideas) while his aunt and uncle prepared lunch. It was
while he was cleaning the buckeroo that it suddenly activated a
cassette, and a wraith-like figure appeared. It gradually formed the
shape of a woman.
"Heeeelp meee," purred the recording. "Oh heeeelp me Moby Foobar."
Then came a gritch and the recording repeated from that point. Clearly
there was more to the recording, but it was read-locked, and it was only
chance that that fragment had become unprotected, probably as a result
of the damage the buckeroo has recently sustained. But who was Moby
Foobar? At the far end of the valley lived Fred Foobar, an old hermit
whom everybody thought was crazy. But perhaps he was some relative?
Fluke reset the buckeroo and ordered it to play the entire
recording. Instead, it re-read-locked the entire tape and the image
disappeared, but not from Fluke's mind.
Later, at lunch, he talked about it with his uncle.
"While I was cleaning the buckeroo, I got a segment of an old
message, addressed to a Moby Foobar. He seemed to own the snoid.
Anyway, it seemed to be very important that he got that message."
Software Wars 6
"I doubt very much if Moby Foobar will ever want to get that
message," said Fluke's uncle. "He has been dead for many years now."
"But this was a recent message, and the read-lock was still on.
How could such an old message have survived? And could old Fred Foobar
"Fred Foobar is just a crazy old man. Tomorrow, I want you to go
and do a complete purge on the buckeroo. That should end this message
"All right. By the way, now that we have these new snoids, when
can I split? You have all the help you need now."
"Now is when I need you the most. Wait just one more year, when I
can hire some more workers, get a few more snoids, and then you can go."
"Another year?! That isn't fair! All my friends have left a long
time ago and I'm still cooped here."
"I know, but I have no choice. I promise this time."
"Oh shit. Well, I better get back to those snoids." Fluke left
the table and stormed out. His aunt watched him for a minute then
turned to her husband.
"You know, we can't keep him forever. He's just not destined for
COBOL. There's too much of his father in him."
"Yes, that's what I'm worried about. For him. I'm afraid he'll
get involved in hacking like his father did."
Software Wars 7
Fluke meets Foobar
Fluke walked into the shop and looked around. Neither snoid was in
sight. Fluke walked around to the other side of a cabinet, and cringing
behind it was C-me-poo-poo, shivering with terror.
"What are you doing back there?" Fluke demanded.
"Oh, thweetie, pleathe don't dithconnect me!" pleaded the snoid.
Fluke rolled his eyes heavenward. Give me strength. "It'th all U-2'th
fault. I told him not to go."
"Oh shit!" Fluke grabbed his magnifying glass and dashed outside.
He looked around in all directions, but no trace of the buckeroo. "That
little snoid is gonna cost me a lot of trouble."
"Oh, he exthellth in that. Are we going to follow him?"
"Can't now," Fluke answered. "Too many users out now. We'll have
to wait until dark." With that, Fluke and the snoid went inside.
Night fell, and Fluke slipped outside, careful not to disturb his
aunt and uncle. He had managed to cover up the disappearance of the
buckeroo up to now, but now he had to find it, and soon. Accompanied by
C-me-poo-poo, he hopped on the transporter, and soon they were speeding
across the desert waste. Presently, Fluke saw a snoid on his radar
beacon, and headed towards it. Sure enough, it was the buckeroo. Fluke
hopped out of the transporter.
"Where d'ya think you're going?" Fluke asked the buckeroo, which
only continued its endless, incessant feeping. Again Fluke rolled his
eyes heavenward and wondered how his uncle ever got suckered into buying
two snoids that anyone else would pay to get rid of. C-me-poo-poo
"He says there are life forms approaching from the north-west."
"Users!" gasped Fluke. "Well, come on, let's get a look." Fluke,
followed by C-me-poo-poo, climbed the ridge to the northwest and looked
down. He could see endless rows of consoles, all running WHO and RSL,
but no users. Then with horror, he noticed that one was running VERIFY.
Luckhams! These were the most feared tribe of users, cunning and cruel.
Fluke shuddered, and was about to slip back, when...
"People who are not contributing to the support of the lab are
taking up too much of the machine! The scheduler is not giving us our
fair share! If you do not bring the system up immediately heads will
roll!" Fluke cringed at each blow. The Luckhams had caught him, and
were after blood. "We are the only people doing real AI research! We
pay most of the lab's support! The S-1 and music groups are using too
much of the machine! We should have exclusive immunity from
autologout!" Fluke mercifully lost consciousness, the hideous blows
still coming down.
When he came to, a cloaked and hooded figure was stooping over him.
Embroidered on the cloak was Deux ex machina hermitage. The toothy,
slobbering face had a familiar look.
Software Wars 8
"Fred Foobar!" gasped Fluke. "Am I glad to see you!"
"The terminal rooms are not to be travelled lightly, young Fluke,"
said Fred. "You've had a busy day. Come! We'll have to get indoors
quickly. The users are easily cowed, but they will soon return, with
greater lossage. Luckhams especially; they are never appeased." Fluke
got up quickly, remembering the attack, and marveling that he was still
in one piece, but even more that the reader is still reading this
drivel. He looked at the large thick part still in the reader's right
hand, and sighed. Still a lot more to go.
U-2-buckeroo had been hiding under a ledge since the attack, and
now joined them, but C-me-poo-poo had tripped over his own lisp and was
lying there helpless. After lifting the giggling snoid up and bundling
it into the transporter, the party quickly sought the safety of Fred
Software Wars 9
The House of Foobar
"Tell me, Fluke," said Fred, "what brings you to such a remote
"I'm trying to get faster real-time response with this buckeroo.
It says it has to find Moby Foobar, and slipped away earlier today to
find him. I have never seen such devotion in a snoid before. Have you
heard of Moby Foobar?"
"Moby Foobar, Moby Foobar," sighed Fred. His eyes glazed over as
if remembering days long gone by. The 'ludes were having their effect.
"Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long, long time, since before
you were born."
"Then you knew him? My uncle said he was dead."
"Oh, he's not dead, not yet. He's me. In fact, I knew your father
back in the old days, before the Empire."
"You knew my father??"
"Yes. He was a skilled hacker, a resourceful wizard," sighed Moby,
"and a good friend. He was killed in the early days of the Empire."
"Tell me, how did my father die? I was told..."
"You were told a lie!" interrupted Moby. "Long ago, in the last
days of the Republic, a young wizard named Daemon Feature (who was my
student before he turned to evil) aided the PASCALs in the ruin of the
Republic. Feature betrayed, and murdered your father." He spoke those
words with such emphasis that Fluke shook. But his words were true;
Fluke could see it.
Moby sighed. "Feature was seduced by the darker side of the Hack.
Today, the wizards are all but extinct." He paused, searching his
memory, back to a time long ago. "Which reminds me. Your father left
me something to give to you." He reached into the piles of paper and
old, dusty manuals on the table, and withdrew a single binder. "His
HAKMEM. An elegant programming tool, of a more civilized age. With it,
one skilled in the Hack could perform programming miracles, get better
response time, and be invited to all the good parties. Here." He
handed the HAKMEM to Fluke.
Fluke took it, and looked at its first page intently; strange it
seemed, yet a feeling grew on him, as if he were looking at something
far greater than he could comprehend. He was considered a good
programmer, one of the best in the quadrant; but the HAKMEM took his
breath away. "What is the Hack?" he asked finally.
"The Hack is that what is nearest and dearest to the hearts of all
the wizards. It is what gives the wizard his power. The Hack is
everywhere and is part of everything. Without the Hack, only crocks
"The Hack!" gasped Fluke. He then pondered these words in silence.
A whole new vision was before him; he saw things of beauty and elegance
that he could not yet put into words. His reverie was interrupted by a
sudden chirping from U-2-buckeroo.
Software Wars 10
"Ah, yes, the message," said Moby. "Come, let's hear it." The
buckeroo gave one last chirp, then the princess appeared. This time,
the whole message was played. Moby sat back.
"Well," he sighed, "I must be off to Automagic. And you must come
with me, and learn the ways of the Hack."
"But I can't!" protested Fluke. "My aunt and my uncle need me! I
mean, I hate the Empire, but I can't do anything. I'd like to go, but
it's so far away. It's late, I have to get back. Aww, I'll give you a
ride to the DECUS conference. You should be able to find a way to
Automagic from there."
"Do what you think is right," replied Moby. Fluke looked at him,
wavering. Already the Hack was entering his thoughts; but he was still
afraid. He still was thinking over all Moby had told him, as the
transporter, carrying Fluke, Moby, and the two snoids, was speeding
along the paths to DECUS...
Software Wars 11
The Road to DECUS
Fluke slowed down the transporter. Ahead, he could see the ruins
of a snoider's trailer, and smaller brown objects around it. When they
reached it, they stopped and looked around. The brown objects were
bodies, brutally pie-sliced.
"Users!" exclaimed Fluke. "I have never seen them attack so
viciously. Look! Here is a jump out of a DO, and another back in. But
what would they want with snoiders?"
"Not users," corrected Moby, "but the Empire wants you to believe
it was users. See the accuracy of the pie-slice? Only Empire software
tools can be so deadly."
"The Empire? But why?" But Fluke's glance almost instinctively
turned to U-2-buckeroo, chirping faster than usual.
"You are looking at the reason," answered Moby Foobar. Fluke
gasped with horror.
"If they traced the snoids here, then they know where...NO!!"
Fluke dashed to the transporter, and headed to his home, ignoring Moby's
cries to come back.
Fluke approached the familiar fields. Smoke was rising in the
distance. He hurried towards it. His home was destroyed. The greedy
flames were still licking at the ashes which remained. And by what was
the entrance, Fluke gazed with horror at the charred and grizzled
corpses of his aunt and uncle.
A tear appeared in his eye. He brushed it away. Gradually, his
horror turned to hatred; hatred of the Empire and all that it stood for.
And at the same time, he wanted to go with Moby Foobar. The fear was
gone; the Hack had won. Fluke jumped back into the transporter, and
hurried back to Moby Foobar.
Moby had not been idle. He, assisted by the two snoids, had
constructed a makeshift pyre and had almost finished the ghastly task of
cremating the snoiders. As he completed this duty, he looked at Fluke,
who was standing there.
"There was nothing you could do. Had you been there, you would
have been killed too."
"Moby, I want to go with you to Automagic. I want to learn about
the Hack and become a wizard like my father. There is nothing for me
Moby smiled. He said nothing, but simply entered the transporter.
Fluke and the snoids followed, soon they were again on their way.
Software Wars 12
The transporter slowed, and then stopped. They were at the edge of
a high shelf, overlooking DECUS. Fluke and Moby got out and looked down
on the city.
"The DECUS conference," observed Moby. "Fluke, you would have to
telnet far to find such a wretched assortment of losers and villainy.
We must be careful." Fluke nodded in agreement. They got back in the
transporter, and soon were at DECUS. Moby was right; chieftains of all
the commercial timesharing houses were there, voicing demands for more
usage accounting. Fluke shuddered.
They had not gone far on their way when they were challenged by an
Empire soldier. Others appeared, and quickly they were surrounded.
"How long have you had these snoids?" the soldier demanded of
"Two or three releases," answered Fluke; not that there was much
hope in fooling them. It's all over now, he thought, no hope of escape.
His thoughts were interrupted by Moby's voice.
"The right half of a POPJ can be used to store data," he intoned.
The soldier's eyes opened wide. Moby continued. "These are not the
snoids you are looking for."
"These are not the snoids we are looking for," repeated the
soldier, as if in a trace.
"We can go about our business."
"They can go about their business."
"We should move on."
"Move on," said the soldier, waving them away. The others
"How did you do that?" Fluke asked once they were out of hearing.
"I thought we were dead back there!"
"The Hack has many powers, and over weak minds such as theirs it is
easy to take command." Fluke looked at him in admiration. Someday he
would be like Moby.
They stopped outside a seedy-looking establishment. There was no
sign of life outside, but the building itself was shaking. Even from
outside Fluke could hear the sounds within. You can tell by the way I
frob my crock, my randomness is hard to grok, blared the familiar music
>from Monday Morning Headache.
"Are you sure we'll find a consultant here?" asked Fluke
"Oh yes, of course," answered Moby. "All the best ones can be
found here." He paused at the doorstep. "By the way, be careful. This
place can get a bit rough." At that, he entered, with Fluke and the
snoids following. Instantly they were engulfed with the sound. Ah, ah,
Software Wars 13
ah, ah, stayin' online, stayin' online... A dark apparition loomed in
front of them. It allowed Moby to pass, but it stopped Fluke and the
two snoids. A light appeared.
"Let's see your ID," it demanded. Fluke produced his and the
figure held it to the light. Satisfied, it returned it to Fluke, and
then demanded the same of the snoids. "You can't come in," it snarled
at them. The snoids stood there, frozen. Fluke intervened.
"You better wait outside," he addressed the snoids. "We don't want
any trouble." At that, the snoids turned around and exited. Fluke then
went over to Moby, who was already in conversation with a tall, wraith-
like figure. It was covered with hair (and fleas). Fluke could see no
face. A hippie, Fluke thought. I hope Moby knows what he's doing. I
sure as hell don't. Suddenly Fluke was roughly pushed aside.
"Get outta my way, punk," snarled a hideous figure. It wore a
black leather jacket, and carried a chain in one hand and a blackjack in
the other. Not satisfied with merely pushing Fluke, it aimed a vicious
blow at him with its blackjack.
The blow never fell. Swifter than lightning, Moby had his HAKMEM
out and dispatched the biker with a single item. Moby looked around at
the crowd, which quickly turned away. Not only didn't they want to
challenge Moby, they didn't even want to know what had happened. Moby
left the mess for the after-hours crew to clean up, and helped Fluke up.
"I have been talking to the first mate of a suitable ship to bring
us to Automagic. The captain is supposed to be one of the best
consultants in this quadrant. Let us join them," Moby said, indicating
a table where the hippie was sitting. Sitting next to him was a tall,
self-confident man some years older than Fluke. He fit in with the
place quite well; his color-coordinated John Travolta outfit mirrored
the smoke-filled atmosphere. He appeared to be staring vacantly into
the distance, planning the conquest of one of the many wenches who
frequented the place, but a closer examination showed it was not so. He
The hippie nudged him awake. After a few groans he introduced
himself as Handwave Saga and the hippie as Cruftybraindamaged. Moby
quickly stated their business: passage to Automagic for Fluke, Moby, and
two snoids, with no questions asked. Handwave and Crufty smiled
knowingly at each other. Amateurs, stashing the shit in the snoids.
They accepted the deal immediately. Anyone that dumb deserved to get
Software Wars 14
Aboard the TENTH STAR
"So," snarled Daemon Feature, breathing heavily, "you vill not
talk? Ve hav VAYS of making you talk!" Princess Lay-me cowered.
Daemon had interrogated her for several days now. Not once, however,
had he beaten her or taken advantage of her. This is cruel and inhuman
torture, she thought. How does he do it? She was getting desperate.
The guard snoids were no help; Daemon Feature had sinisterly selected
She knew, though, that her silence was the only thing keeping her
alive. Should she yield to the torture, or the location of the rebel
data base be found out in spite of her silence, she would be killed
Daemon Feature signaled to an injector snoid. Truth serum, she
thought. Terror-striken, she watched as the needle injected the
powerful aphrodisiac into her veins...
The council was already in session when Daemon Feature entered.
Governor Softwarerot was addressing those present:
"The Senate is of no concern to us; the Emperor has dissolved the
council. All responsibility rests with us now."
"Oh goodie!" said Admiral Whatshisface, commander of the TENTH
STAR. "Let's go stomp them hackers!"
"Do not put too much faith in this hairy architecture you have
constructed," retorted Daemon Feature. "All this is insignificant
compared to the Hack."
"Aw, don't hassle us with your hokey Hack stuff. All anybody has
to do is take a few CS courses and he can program as well or better than
any of those hackers." Daemon Feature glared at him in rising wrath.
Suddenly Whatshisface found it difficult to breathe. The others watched
"Control-Meta-Top-BREAK! I find your lack of faith disturbing!"
snarled Daemon Feature. Whatshisface's face changed from vivid red to
purple, as the circular linked lists closed tighter.
"Feature, release him!" shouted Softwarerot.
"As you wish," replied Daemon Feature. Whatshisface dropped to the
table as he slowly recovered.
"Now there is to be no more of this!" continued Softwarerot. "Lord
Feature will continue the debugging. Feature, have you been successful
in your interrogation of the princess yet?"
"Unfortunately not. She has encrypted her file system. However, I
expect to break her soon."
"That may not be necessary," replied Softwarerot, "I have an
Software Wars 15
"Governor Softwarerot," observed the princess. "I should have
known you would be holding Daemon Feature's leash. I thought I noticed
your foul stench when I was first brought on board."
"Flattery will get you nowhere," returned Softwarerot. Motioning
to a viewscreen, he observed, "Automagic. Your home planet. Watch."
The princess looked on with horror as a 99 million year lease and
maintenance contract for a network of TENTH STARs was being prepared for
"No!" she gasped. "Automagic has no need for it. Our computing
resources are more than ample for the demand."
"Would you prefer another target, a hacking target?" returned
Softwarerot. "Then tell us the location of the rebel data base!"
The princess sobbed, then blurted out, "On [XY,ZZY]." Softwarerot
"You see, Feature, she can be convinced." Then, to the lawyers,
"You may sign when ready."
"WHAT?!" screamed the princess.
"You are too trusting," smiled Softwarerot, as her innocent planet
got permanently entangled in hopeless lossage. His smile faded as a
LOOKUP on [XY,ZZY] showed that the data base had been there, but had
since been backed up elsewhere.
"Double the Robert Redford movies, and don't stop until she talks!"
he ordered. The princess begged for mercy. "Take her away!"
Software Wars 16
It had been a weary journey, but the end was near at last. Fluke
listened intently to Moby throughout most of the journey as he lectured
on the ways of the Hack. Fortunately, Moby frequently passed out, so
the ordeal was never prolonged. Other times, Fluke stared at his
HAKMEM, seeking to become one with the Hack. He ignored the hippie's
occasional requests for "just a little fix." I wonder what he's talking
about, thought Fluke.
Suddenly Moby jumped up, then slowly sat down again, his face
contorted in agony.
"Have you sensed a disturbance in the Hack, as if millions of
innocent people were suddenly subjected to horrible cretinism?"
"Uh, no, just a hangover," reassured Moby. He went back into his
stupor and Fluke returned to his study of his HAKMEM. Presently
Handwave turned on the Fasten Seat Belts sign. They were now in the
vicinity of Automagic. Handwave switched the line protocol, and THWACK!
instantly they were hit with a repeated series of parity errors.
"What the hell?" exclaimed Handwave. The tiny craft was being
buffeted with increasing lossage. "This isn't in the manual. Automagic
was supposed to be winning."
"Are we at Automagic yet?" asked Fluke.
"That's what I'm trying to tell you kid," answered Handwave.
"Automagic has become a loser. It's running with longer turnaround
times, greater swapping, more stoppages, and..." He stopped suddenly.
A distant object had appeared on the view screen, and was rapidly
growing. Now they were clearly heading straight towards it.
"Turn the ship around," commanded Moby. "It's a mainframe."
"Huh? It's just a microprocessor," replied Handwave, "nothing
to... Uh oh, I think you're right. Crufty, let's get the fuck outta
here!" This last was screamed as the sheer size of the installation
became apparent. It was from there that all the parity errors were
Too late. Already their card deck was in the reader, and the
operator refused to give it back. They were being forced into the
"Crufty, full rewind!" yelled Handwave. But there was nothing the
hippie or anyone else could do. Already they were being compiled. Soon
would come the linking-load, and then the execution...
Software Wars 17
Fluke and his friends peered cautiously out of the concealed pages
where they had been hiding. The initial sweep by the Empire's evil
soldiery had failed to locate them, but they couldn't hide there
forever. It wouldn't be long before a kernel mode process was used and
they would be caught.
They snuck out onto a low-baud data line. That way they stood the
best chance of getting to a console undetected. In spite of all the
safeguards they managed to guess a correct password and soon were
online. Moby mumbled something about greater bandwidth and slipped
away, telling the others to stay where they were until he had flushed
the job streams so that they could escape. U-2-buckeroo started a WHO
and instantly began beeping furiously.
"What's it saying?" asked Fluke to C-me-poo-poo.
"I don't understand. Something like I found her...oh I see now.
It's I found the princess!"
"The princess!" gasped Fluke. "Where?"
"In low core, right above free storage," replied the snoid. "I'm
afraid she's about to be swapped out."
"Swapped out!" screamed Fluke. "We have to go and rescue her!"
"Hey wait a minute," retorted Handwave. "I didn't sign up for no
rescues. I'm stayin' right here."
"She has service level," replied Fluke. "She can have your
allocation increased to more than you can imagine."
"Really?" asked Handwave skeptically.
"Really. She makes the assignments."
"Hmm..." mused Handwave. "You better be right on this, kid."
"I am. Believe me."
"Okay. So how are we gonna rescue her?"
"First, let's lock Crufty in core." Fluke walked over to the
hippie, but the stench instantly drove him back. Turning to Handwave,
he continued, "Uh, you do it." Handwave performed the UUO undeterred.
I guess he doesn't notice, thought Fluke. "Now, let's set up an
interrupt for the next clock tick and process it with PI's off."
It was tricky, but eventually it was done. They had to hurry,
though, since soon the users would notice the service interruption and
reload. Fluke shuddered at the memory of his near-fatal encounter the
previous day. Several jobs had already been locked out of core, so they
knew that trouble was on the way.
Fluke mapped in the page where the princess was being kept and
entered. She was asleep on a crude cot, worn out after the harsh
torture she had undergone. She shivered and suddenly awoke. At the
Software Wars 18
sight of Fluke her eyes popped open. She rubbed them once and looked
again. It was not a dream; Fluke was really there. She sat up and
"Well, it's about time. Come over here." Fluke stood there, still
enthralled with her beauty (there weren't many women down at the farm).
"Come here," she repeated, somewhat louder. Fluke, as if in a trance,
walked over and sat down next to her. "That's better," she said,
softer. She took his hands into hers and looked at him straight in the
eye. Fluke looked back, uneasy, not knowing what to do. She smiled.
Slowly, and with extreme care, Fluke bent over and kissed her. It
was barely a kiss; to her cheek, light, and instantly over as he almost
jerked himself back. Her smile broadened. "You don't have to do that,"
she said, and, putting her arms around him gently pulled him back. This
time their lips met, and now she relaxed, letting herself down flat on
the cot, Fluke on top of her. Her mouth opened, and her tongue slipped
past his like molten glass. Fluke relaxed and gave in to the surging
waves that were washing over him. His tongue went past hers, and the
waves grew into a fierce storm, growing in intensity...
Software Wars 19
"FLUKE!!! We gotta get outta here!" Handwave's voice from outside
jolted them both back to reality. They were both hot, and very wet, but
now they both felt chilled. What was happening? Fluke gathered his
disorganized thoughts back together. Of course; the users were about to
reload. It was indeed critical. Grabbing the princess, he dashed
"Quick," the princess yelled, "do a garbage collection. It's our
only chance." With that, they GC'd and were in free storage.
But there they were trapped. Surrounded by truly-worthless-atoms
and the other flotsam and jetsam of free storage, they had no way to get
back into their craft. Already the blocks of free free storage were
being lunk together. Soon the blocks would be claimed and split up.
The snoids were the only chance. Fluke frantically screamed into
his communicator for the snoids to claim a huge block, so they'd be
safe. C-me-poo-poo answered. It started babbling on about how U-2-
buckeroo was "thimply impothible" to deal with and would they "pleath
thpeak to it." Meanwhile their margin of safety was getting smaller and
smaller. Tiny chunks were being taken, meaning they would soon be
chopped to death. Fluke yelled again, loud enough for U-2-buckeroo to
hear over C-me-poo-poo's idiotic chatter; and they were saved.
They quickly ran back to where their imprisoned craft was, hoping
that Moby had succeeded in freeing the resource. At last they were
there, and stopped, horrified at the sight in front of them.
Moby and Daemon Feature were dueling, clearly to the death. Daemon
Feature's HAKMEM was out in full power, but it could not yet overcome
Moby's, still standing there before the storm, yet wielding a great
power of its own. MOVNI'd ANDCA! Moby would shout, and Daemon Feature
would come back with a fierce EQVI'd HRLOI! The student had learned his
master's ways all too well.
Suddenly Moby became aware of Fluke watching him. He stopped
battling and looked at Fluke. He smiled, and an appearance of peace
came over him as the 'ludes took over. Suddenly Daemon Feature struck.
You can output characters 40-57 by putting the character in the
accumulator field of an XCT and then extracting 6 bits because the low
two bits of the XCT opcode are the right thing! Moby fell, and was
"NO!!" Fluke screamed. First his aunt and uncle, and now Moby.
Handwave and the princess had to drag him to safety inside the craft.
Handwave set the switches, ran the RIM loader, and hit START.
"I hope the old man got that tape right, or this is going to be one
short run," Handwave muttered. His hopes were fufilled. With a sudden
burst of processor level they were free; for the time being at least.
They had to reach the rebel data base quickly, though, before Daemon
Feature and his sinister band caught up with them...
Software Wars 20
To the Rebel Data Base
Fluke said nothing as the craft sped towards the rebel data base.
Handwave and the hippie could guess what he was going through, and left
him alone. Lay-me sat by him. Presently Fluke looked at her.
"He's gone," he said, "and I didn't do a thing to save him." He
buried his face in her shoulder, sobbing.
"There was nothing you could do, except to be killed with him." He
looked at her. Again she held his hand and smiled. This time Fluke
needed no encouragment. They embraced and held each other for what
seemed like an eternity. Once again they kissed, and the waves grew
again. She tasted salty, but pleasant, as again their tongues met.
There were no interrupts. They fell together. Fluke had never
imagined holding anyone so long, or so intensely. He felt his senses on
fire, as if every nerve ending had been sharpened to an exquisite
pinpoint. He caressed her lightly, but the sensations were almost
painful in intensity. The tiniest circular motions with the very tips
of his fingers were sending wave upon wave of complete ecstacy over him.
Lay-me was breathing hard, violently rocking herself from side to
side, her arms pressing tighter against Fluke's back. She had never
before encountered someone with so much energy, and she was savoring
every bit of it. But her own feelings were building up now. Somehow,
she managed to get her robes undone and to open Fluke's jumpsuit. Then
she gave in to the torrents and with a few violent jerks of her powerful
hips, she exploded.
But Fluke didn't let up. He didn't know what his limits were, but
he had heard enough stories from other people and had no delusions of
being any different from anybody else. He was determined in any case to
do whatever was necessary to bring her to the limit; he knew he would
have no trouble in taking care of himself. So he had held back, and now
continued as if she hadn't paused.
He didn't have long to wait; in quick succession she exploded a
second, and then a third time. Now she was slowing down, and this time
Fluke let go of all control. The waves burst through the wall and
overran everything in their path. It seemed forever, and it was...
"Umm...," sighed Lay-me. They were both very hot, and very very
wet, but neither cared. She smiled and quickly kissed him at random all
over his face, and smiled again. Fluke smiled back and looked at her.
"Hi," he said. "Don't I know you?"
"Uh-huh," she sighed contentedly.
"You wanna know something?"
"I love you." He kissed her again, as she had moments before.
Software Wars 21
"Umm..." She snuggled yet closer to him, but both of them were too
exhausted to do much more. Once again they kissed, but it was not a
sexy kiss. The sex was there but this time it was only a part of what
was going on. This time it was a I-love-you-never-leave-me kiss. Now
all the pressure was gone and they knew they had each other.
Fluke was wondering how it all happened; he had never imagined this
in his wildest dreams. Lay-me was wondering the same thing; how had she
been so affected by somebody. She had met her match, but the only thing
she could feel was very, very happy.
And it was with those thoughts passing through their minds when
they reached the rebel data base.
Software Wars 22
The Rebel Data Base
Fluke went forward to watch as Handwave ineptly guided the craft
into a median record in the rebel data base. As they head-crashed to a
stop, Handwave turned to Fluke and remarked, "You know, that chick is
one helluva good-looking broad. I think I might take her for my
Fluke shuddered, and looked at Handwave, trying to hide the
apprehension he felt. Oh no, he thought. "No, you wouldn't get along
with her. I'm sure."
Handwave looked at Fluke, and understood. He smiled, and said,
louder and intentionally baiting, "Yeah, but she would be a lotta fun
for a one-time shot."
"And that's about all you could probably do," interrupted the
princess. She had walked in unobserved and had overheard the
conversation. "You will get your service level, as originally agreed."
Then, to Fluke, "Your friend is a real turkey, you know that?" And with
that, she walked out.
Fluke smiled, and suddenly Handwave burst out laughing. "All
right, kid, you win. I sure hope you know what you're gettin' in to."
"Oh I do," answered Fluke very seriously. Handwave looked at him
and again burst out laughing.
They were now at the rebel data base, and the hackers were
frantically studying the plans for the TENTH STAR, searching for a
weakness. The urgency of their search was made horribly apparent as it
became clear that the princess' vessel had been traced with DDT, and now
the Empire was preparing to inflict lossage upon the whole rebel
movement. What had happened to Automagic would be nothing compared to
what was in store for the rebels.
With such gloomy thoughts in mind, the princess and Fluke sat
outside the laboratory, awaiting the results. Handwave had already
taken his service level increase and split. Presently there came an
announcement that everybody was to gather for the conference.
"We have discovered a weakness in the system," the chief hacker for
the rebels announced. "The TENTH STAR runs an incredibly cretinous
operating system written as grossly as possible in a so-called `higher-
level language,' but it is not invincible. We have determined that it
is possible to write in assembler for it. Of course, their assembly
language is almost useless, but it was enough for us to bootstrap a
winning assembler and from that a winning operating system. We have
done so. Of course, it hasn't been tested, but it's our only chance.
Now, some turkey, uh, I mean hero, has to volunteer to take a tape there
and, evading the operators, bring it up."
"Oh, Fluke volunteers!" yelled Princess Lay-me from the back.
Fluke had no time to protest before everyone was congratulating him on
his bravery, and before he knew it he was bundled up with a tape and
sent on his way. Lay-me had given him one last kiss, and he thought
bitterly about having just made her the beneficiary on his insurance
Software Wars 23
policy. Well, here goes nothing, he mused, as the story wrapped itself
up to its climax...
Software Wars 24
The Last Battle
Fluke looked at the pages still in the reader's right hand. Almost
over, he thought. And I bet I know how, too. But it was too late to
back down now.
He hoped nobody would recognize him, and so far he had been lucky.
The tape had been cleverly disguised as a new, non-optimizing compiler
for a theoretical structured language whose syntax was so incredibly
complicated that no human could possibly program in it. The Empire
would instantly go for it, and by the time they found out otherwise it
would be too late.
Now the acid test was going to be the machine room. He was walking
down the long corridor, trying to look inconspicuous when suddenly BAM!
came a blast from the rear. Daemon Feature had spotted him, and was
closing in fast. Fluke ran, but he couldn't run fast enough.
Fluke, remember the Hack. The Hack, Fluke. He could almost hear
Moby's voice repeating this to him. But what could he do? He turned
around to face his approaching foe, and attacked. LISP has base ROMAN
to read and print Roman numerals! Daemon Feature stopped, injured by
the blow, and Fluke ran on. He had bought himself a little time, but
not much. Daemon Feature had already recovered and was resuming the
Suddenly, WAITS has an @ monitor command! Daemon Feature, intent
upon his fleeing enemy, missed the attack from his own rear and was hit
hard. Before he could regain control he had been forwarded on internet
protocols to the other end of the galaxy.
"Okay, kid, get that tape mounted and let's get outta here," came
Handwave's voice. Fluke once again thought of the Hack, and his actions
seemed controlled by somebdy else. In almost slow-motion, he saw
himself dashing past the grasp of the operator guarding the tape drives
and flinging the tape on. Then he hit the ONLINE switch and fled.
Governor Softwarerot was preparing for the ultimate installation of
TENTH STARs at the rebel base, so that they would be permanently
crushed. He frowned as a subordinate came rushing in.
"Governor, there is a rebel attack in progress. We have analyzed
their means of attack and there is a danger. Do you wish to be backed
"Do a dump? In our moment of triumph? I think you greatly
overestimate their abilities," replied Softwarerot.
Just then all the consoles stopped. That was nothing new; a TENTH
STAR required a reload every 20 seconds or so. But something new was
happening. All the consoles beeped, and then...
TN ITS IN OPERATION 14:32:56
The rebels had succeeded! And all the users tried the new
operating system and pronounced it a winner. Instantly everything was
Software Wars 25
converted to run on it. Almost immediately, a flood of new software
appeared: the line-number editor was flushed in favor of a display
editor, assembly language programs proliferated, and new, true high-
level languages appeared. And the universe was again winning. Wizards,
loyal to the Hack, once again appeared and unveiled new wonders every
day. And the Empire was overthrown and a Republic established.
Softwarerot and Daemon Feature fled into hiding.
Software Wars 26
All's Well That Ends Worse
In the Great Hall of the Republic, a ceremony was in progress, and
each of the heroes was awarded according to his measure. To Handwave, a
Monday Morning Headache album and a pass to Studio 54. To Crufty, a
comb and a lifetime supply of deodorant. To C-me-poo-poo and U-2-
buckeroo, relationship counselling. To Moby's ghost, a year's
subscription to Your Spiritual Life and a cloud-duster.
Finally, the princess turned to Fluke. "You are last, love, but
not least. To you, I give...me." Fluke smiled, and in front of the
entire assembly they embraced. Lay-me had enough time to blurt out
"Everybody dismissed" before once again the waves overtook them. So
this is what it's like to be completely and totally happy...
_____ | ____ ___|___ /__ Mark ("Gaijin") Crispin "Gaijin! Gaijin!"
_|_|_ -|- || __|__ / / R90/6 pilot, DoD #0105 "Gaijin ha doko?"
|_|_|_| |\-++- |===| / / Atheist & Proud "Niichan ha gaijin."
--|-- /| |||| |___| /\ (206) 842-2385/543-5762 "Chigau. Omae ha gaijin."
/|\ | |/\| _______ / \ MRC@CAC.Washington.EDU "Iie, boku ha nihonjin."
/ | \ | |__| / \ / \ Lumchan ga suki ja!! "Souka. Yappari gaijin!"
Hee, dakedo UNIX nanka wo tsukatte, umaku ikanaku temo shiranai yo.
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