"Administrative Bus Signals!" shouted Con Solo. "Let's boot this pop
stand! Tooie, set clock fast!"
"Ok, Con," said Luke. "You said this crate was fast enough. Get us out
"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 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
"Governor Tarchive," she spat, "I should have expected to find you holding
Vadic's 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, /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:
"/dev/rm3 is not a mounted filesystem," Tarchive explained. "We require a
more visible subject to demonstrate the power of the Are-Em 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
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 Kenobi, 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
"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.
"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
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 ODS 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
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 accross 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
"Hold on," said Con. "It says we have `new mail.' Is that an error?"
"%SYS-I-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
"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
"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
"guys to figure out something is goin' on," he continued.
Luke quickly located the interface card and followed thecables to a
sound-proof enclosure. He lifted the lid and peered at the mechanism
"Aren't you a little slow for ECL?" printed princess _LPA0:.
"What? 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
"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
"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
"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 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 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 saybefore 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."
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."