The Lord of the Pings

Recently one of my friends, Linus Torvalds the computer wizard, paid me a visit. As we were talking I mentioned that I had recently installed Windows XP on my PC. I told him how happy I was with this operating system and showed him the Windows XP CD. To my surprise he threw it into my microwave oven and turned it on. Instantly I got very upset, because the CD had become precious to me, but he said: "Do not worry, it is unharmed."

After a few minutes he took the CD out, gave it to me and said: "Take a close look at it."

To my surprise the CD was quite cold to hold and it seemed to be heavier than before. At first I could not see anything, but on the inner edge of the central hole I saw an inscription, an inscription finer than anything I had ever seen before.The inscription shone piercingly bright, and yet remote, as if out of a great depth:

12413AEB2ED4FA5E6F7D78E78BEDE820945092OF923A40EElOE5 IOCC98D444AA08EI324

"I cannot understand the fiery letters," I said in a timid voice.

"No but I can," he said. "The letters are Hex, of an ancient mode, but the language is that of Microsoft, which I shall not utter here. But in common English this is what it says:

"'One OS to rule them all, One OS to find them, One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.'

"The lore from which these two lines are merely a part has been largely lost in the depths of myth. Not since the Age of Empires has the full verse been uttered. However there is one thing that is very clear. The disc you now hold contains powers you cannot even think of, and if it were to fall into the hands of the Dark Lord, Gates, then he could destroy Middle Earth in a flood of evil.

"Even now the nine Winwraiths will be riding from the ancient land of Redmond," the computer wizard told me.

"Winwraiths? What are these creatures?"

"Creatures, boy?" Linus scoffed. "Creatures now, yes. But once they were men. The Winwraiths were promised unlimited power through discs such as the one you are now holding, but they were tricked by Gates. They now exist in a form of half-life, and serve only the one OS, the disc that is now in your hands."

I noticed that by this time the runes upon the disc had faded so that they could not be seen, and the disc felt as light as it always had.

"The Winwraiths are drawn to the disc, and will stop at nothing to retrieve it and take it back to their master, Gates. This must not happen, as with this disc the power of Gates will be amplified by XP as to become limitless and he will be free to cover the lands of Middle Earth with his evil."

"What must I do?"

"This disc was made in the fires of Mount, known in the common tongue as Mount Doom, and only there is there the power for it to be unmade. You are now the discwielder, my boy. You must carry the disc to the heart of Redmond and cast it into the fires of Only then will Middle Earth be safe from the evils of Gates and of XP.

"I must go now, and talk to Ballmer. He is a good friend of mine and has been for a good many years, and a leader of elves in the lands near Redmond. He will be able to direct me in my actions regarding the disc. However, for the moment our destinies lie upon different paths, my friend."

"I am afraid."

"Not afraid enough, child."

* * *

In the depths of Microsoft.Net, something stirs. Ancient machinery that had not been used in millenia suddenly creaked into life. A shadowy figure is overseeing its operation. He is neither tall nor thin, but nevertheless he has the kind of long white flowing robe that really wishes he is. Goblins - small grey creatures twisted by the ways of evil and chaos - run around the elderly wheels, checking bits of their operation. Even though the various parts of the machine are caked with many many centuries of dust and grime, the way they work seems to be as if only just cooled from the forge.

Much of the activity is focussed in one large chamber in the depths of the mountain, uplit by the orange glow of magma. This attracts the attention of the taller figure, who walks over to a raised dais in the centre of the chamber. As he arrives, a horde of goblins set about opening the casket that sits upon the plinth. It is full of magma - cooler this time. For a brief few seconds nothing happens, then a hand reaches over the edge of the container and a huge shape slowly rises out of the fluid.

The big-set creature has very scaly, green skin, and its brow is furrowed in a permanent expression of anger. It is three times the size of the goblins and dwarfs even the cloaked man. This creature is the first for many thousand years of a race known as the D'Orcs. They are bred of pure Chaos, and serve only the dark lord Gates. This first D'Orc looks around him at the goblins tending him and clearing the dais, and then his eyes settle on the cowled man. His mouth turns upwards at the corners into a snarl, baring a set of sharp fang-like incisors.

"What you want me kill?"