May the Root Access Be with You

“Help me, Opee Tey-lor, you’re my last chance!” That was the message conveyed by the little robot, GI-GO, that started this whole adventure from the desert planet of Tatunisia to the bowels of the massive planet-blaster, the Non-Moon.

GI-GO and the rest of the rag-tag team of misfits had just escaped detection when the Non-Moon captured their spacecraft and inspected it. GI-GO had cleverly altered the logs of the spacecraft to make it look like everyone had already left the ship and it was just drifting around. GI-GO, being a robot and all, was rather a dab hand at rapidly modifying log files.

As the rag-tag team hid inside a communications room, the young romantic interest Dirk Dirtstomper argued with space rogue Gawain Agogo about the best way to rescue the imprisoned princess kept somewhere on the Non-Moon. Said imprisoned princess, Ura Highnessness, had sent the message that got GI-GO, Dirk, Gawain, and the very Opee Tey-lor on this crazy crusade to free her from the clutches of the evil galactic overlords. How do we know the galactic overlords are evil? Well, they built the Non-Moon, for starters, then did a proof-of-concept test on an unsuspecting planet. That’s evil.

Anyway, as Dirk and Gawain argued, GI-GO took matters into his own interfaces. He decided to start hacking.

Opee Tey-lor watched as GI-GO extended a universal spinning connector (USC) and plugged it into a corresponding USC slot in a wall panel in the Non-Moon comm room. Opee set aside his concerns about an AI system that was capable of engaging in activity that could cause loss of life and instead chose to focus on how GI-GO expended very little effort in gaining root access to the Non-Moon’s systems.

“Hey guys, how about you be quiet and watch this robot go!” Opee’s command got Dirk and Gawain to shut up and listen to the little robot. GI-GO had a perfectly good voice system that only sounded slightly machine-y, like when it had to handle unusual proper names or foreign words. Earlier models communicated only with a series of beeps, and customer feedback overwhelmingly hated that system, so the next rev had speech function and sales went well after that.

Anyway, GI-GO was happy to say, “Well, I’ve got root. I’m happy to say the staff here were as lax about security as you were, Gawain. I just plugged in, started a network capture, and got the passwords I needed. What do you want to do?”

Dirk jumped the gun, speaking before anyone else thought. “Rescue the princess! We gotta rescue the princess!”

Gawain held up his hand to hush Dirk, then said, “Turn off all the security systems. THEN we rescue the princess!”

Opee shook his head and waved his hands, the universal signal given by smart people who want the hotheads to shut up and think carefully. “No no no no no no no. We got root access. We OWN this thing. Why would we just rescue the princess and abscond out of here? Chances are, the servants of the evil galactic overlords have put a GPS on our ship, so they’ll follow us back to the armed opposition’s base and attempt to annihilate it. That’s not a good move. No, I say we take a few minutes and maybe blue-sky some ideas we’d like to do with all this power we’ve tapped into.”

Opee addressed GI-GO. “GI-GO, how much time do you calculate we have before we’re noticed here?”

GI-GO ran the numbers. “Dude. We got ages. They have no clue. I’ve already got the logs generated here suppressed and the historical information purged. I’ve re-done the work schedules so that nobody reports to this room ever again. With the bureaucracy they have in place, they’ll never even glance twice at the locked door to this room.”

Dirk looked uneasy. “I need to go to the bathroom.”

Opee pointed impatiently at the door to the toilet adjoining the comms room. “Seriously, Dirk, take some time to look around. You’d lose your head if it wasn’t bolted on to your neck.” Opee then pointed at the food fabricator slot. “And that’s where you can get some chow, so no whining about eating. Aside from it being kinda cramped for sleeping arrangements, we can last here a good long while, like GI-GO says. And my guess is that if we’re smart, we won’t have to last here all that long.”

GI-GO said, “Bingo, Opee! You got that right. Since this is the most important part of the star fleets of the evil galactic overlords, we have full access to their ERP system.”

Opee looked delighted. “Oh man, we can totally jack with everything in their fleet!”

If GI-GO could smile, it would be beaming. “I know, dude! We can put an end to the overlordship part, for sure. I say we start with creating a new approved vendor process and require all existing approved vendors to comply before they can fill orders.”

“Good one, GI-GO! Let’s also schedule a mandatory upgrade for all our XP systems to the latest version!”

“Aw Opee, that’s mean, you know every single laser cannon targeting system only runs on XP!”

GI-GO and Opee Tey-lor laughed like kids at a pie fight while Dirk and Gawain looked on cluelessly.

Dirk asked, “How is any of that going to save the princess?”

Opee looked at the ceiling and groaned. “Don’t you get the bigger picture? We can rescue the princess anytime, whatever. But as soon as we start that process, we’re going to be found out and our agenda becomes much more limited, resulting in the scenario I described previously. What GI-GO and I are doing now isn’t just saving one person, it’s rescuing the entire galaxy from overlordship, evil or otherwise, by shutting down as much stuff as we can.”

Dirk protested, “But the princess! She needs us!”

Opee dismissed Dirk with a wave. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”

Gawain put a hand on Dirk’s shoulder. “Hey, buddy, I got an idea.” Gawain said to GI-GO, “Hey, GI-GO, how about you release the princess Ura Highnessness on probation? It’ll be easier to rescue her if she’s just wandering around than if she’s in a prison deck.”

“No prob!” GI-GO paused a second. “Done. She’s getting processed for release. I’ll have her put up in a luxury suite, that’ll be fun.”

Gawain and Opee started to chuckle. Opee was glad that Gawain was starting to get it.

Dirk was still mad. “Hey, I’m sensing a disturbance in the energy field that flows through us all, what did you call it?”

Opee rolled his wizened eyes. “The FEF. Flowing Energy Field. FEF.”

“Yeah, well, I sense a disturbance in the FEF. Something is coming towards us.”

Opee paused and looked up and to the left. “Yeah, I feel it, too. The FEF don’t lie. Hmmm.”

Dirk asked, “Is it Shmarth Shmader?”

“Yep. It’s him, all right. He’s here.”

“Should we duel him in the ancient style, with weapons of starlight?”

Opee made a “Pffff!” sound and said, “No. We got modern tech. What do we want with ancient weapons?”

GI-GO said, “Check to see if Shmader is still moving towards us?”

Dirk closed his eyes to get in touch with the FEF. “No, he’s stopped moving.”

“That’s because I just stopped the elevator he’s in. Mission accomplished.”

Dirk seemed upset at the prospect of not having an ancient duel. “But his minions are sure to release him!”

“Not if the alerts generated by the elevator are suppressed. And all the blast doors leading to that shaft are closed. And all the elevator tech contractors have their contracts canceled, effective immediately.”

Opee said, “Behold the power of root, Dirk. You would do well to study up on your systems analysis.”

“But I wanna be a space pilot!”

Gawain said, “Not a lotta money in space piloting, kid. Tell me more about systems analysis, Opee.”

“Sure, after we get out of here. You’ll be able to get some sweet gigs in IT, let me tell you.”

GI-GO interrupted their chat with a rather gleeful “Oh man! Oh man! Oh man! Oh man!”

Opee asked, “What’s up?”

GI-GO laughed. “Guess.”

“Dude, could be anything. Just tell me.”

“I just totally blew up the spaceship hosting the evil galactic overlord conference. I got the Galactic Tyrant and all his chief minions, Shmarth Shmader excepted. Dude!”

Even Dirk joined in the laughter at that news. And to think that at first he was only thinking about rescuing the princess!

After that, it was kind of anticlimactic. Sure, they all had some laughs when GI-GO downgraded every ranking officer, a few hearty chuckles when all the guidance systems on the fleet’s space fighters were reset to factory defaults, and some well-earned guffaws when all fleet elements with functioning hyperdrives were ordered to converge on the system where the Galactic Tyrant had just been obliterated, but after a few hours, all the crazy stuff had been done and the group all felt a little spent.

“Well, I guess we should be going,” said Opee.

Gawain and GI-GO agreed and started to look up where the princess’ luxury suite was located when Dirk said, “Hold on! I got an idea!”

Opee realized that the FEF was with Dirk when he heard Dirk giggle like a teenager in a marijuana dispensary. “What’s the idea, Dirk?”

“Order everybody abandon ship. Why should we have to leave? Make them go, let’s keep this sweet ride!”

Opee was thrilled. “Awww yeah! Do it do it do it do it do it NOW!”

GI-GO laughed out, “Done! Just us and Shmader gonna be on this boat!”

And, ever more, the legends were told of how important it was to secure access to critical systems. 🙂

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