Yuri Nesterenko

Desert Storm - 2, or WinWars 2002

				Microsoft Corp. signed a contract
				with US Army for developing software
				for new types of weapons.
						(From Internet)

01.04.2002, 4:30. Saudi Arabia. USAF base.

Lieutenant John Falcon waved a hand to his friends for the last time
and got into the cockpit. He was very proud of course, such an honor
for him! He knew about that from General Brake, who said: "It's a
great honor for you, lieutenant. You'll make the first combat flight
on the newest top secret plane, the F-22M." "M means modified?" -
asked Falcon. "M means 'Microsoft', - answered the general. The plane
was fully re-equipped by those guys. They assure, that any idiot
could fulfill combat tasks now. However, for the first flight we
have chosen you as the best our pilot. You must destroy the Iraq's
nuclear center." "You can send condolences for Saddam right now, sir",
- answered Falcon.

Lieutenant Falcon latched the safety belts as he usually did and only
now noticed that the cockpit panel obviously differed from standard.
There were fewer gauges, and in a recessed panel, a two-button
metallic mouse reposed.  Falcon shook his head and turned on the main
power switch.

On the transparent HUD, with the outside-cabin view to the sky and
clouds in the background, a message appeared: "Microsoft Winwars
2002". Then, the engines started by themselves and the flaps extended
to take-off position. "Thank you for buying Winwars 2002! - said the
display. - Now the war will become more comfortable, your risk of
death decreases, and target defeating increases! Tip of the day:
before landing, release the landing gear."

"Eagle One, you are cleared for take off", - resounds in his flight
helmet.  "I'm not requesting it yet", - amazed Falcon.  "You needn't,
it's Plug'n'Play", - explained the ground control.

The plane, rashly accelerating, ran along the runway and soon was
airborn. "Now Winwars 2002 will target your ammunition to the
selected objective, - reported the system. - Selected target: Iraq's
nuclear center". Falcon clicked on the 'Change' button with curiosity
and saw a long list of many objects all over the world included
'White House' and the airbase from which he just took off.  Falcon
pressed 'Cancel' in a hurry.

"Select installation type: 
Minimum - bombs only will be dropped on the target.
Normal - bombs and missiles will be dropped on the target.
Full - the whole plane will be dropped on the target"

The system suggested the second variant by default. Falcon, fearfully
looking at the third, decided not to argue.

"Now the performance of your hardware will be tested. Close your eyes
to avoid damage while modes change".

The engines roared on the accelerated regime, and Falcon's eyes indeed
almost jumped from their sockets because of the monstrous overload.
It was really hell: the plane flung him to all sides, making many
sudden and steep dives, executing inconceivable maneuvers... Finally
the lieutenant came to himself; as the darkness in his eyes
dispelled, and he saw that the mouse, which was flying all over the
cabin, fell back to itís place.

"You are using the Lockheed F-22 airplane with two Pratt & Whitney
turbojets , - imperturbably reported the system. - Maximum velocity -
1451 mph. Tip of the day: don't raise the speed of the turbines
higher then the supplier specified.  Estimated installation time -

Same day, 4:52. Iraq's sky.

In the bottom of the screen a blue percent bar slowly crept.
Meanwhile the system advertised Winwars for tanks, submarines and
ground troops.  It also promised to send all who bought the airplane
version a copy of the free applet "Kamikaze 1.01". The slide-show
made Falcon sleepy, but he was soon jolted awake by the sound of a
buzzer. A green dot flashed on the radar.

"New hardware found: an enemy plane!" - reported the system gladly.
Falcon just wanted to make a standard combat maneuver, but saw a
"Delete" button and left-clicked it.

"Are you sure you want to delete the enemy plane?" - asked the

"Of course!" - Falcon clicked "Yes". The Iraq interceptor disappeared
from the radar. "So fast? - the lieutenant was really surprised. 
- Those Microsoft guys are really cool!". He began to study with
respect a Winwars advertisement for disabled pilots, which appeared
on the screen, but the rocket that flew right over the cabin
distracted him from this. Falcon turned around in perplexity and saw
the interceptor.

"What the shit..." - exclaimed Falcon who only now noticed the small
aircraft tail sticking from the hidden 'Recycle Bin' icon in the
corner of the screen.  Lieutenant furiously clicked on the icon and
choose "Empty the Recycle Bin".

"Are you sure you want do delete the enemy plane permanently?
Restoring it will be impossible", - attended the system.

"Yes!" - barked Falcon, clicking the mouse. A Sidewinder dropped from
underneath the wing and flew towards the interceptor leaving a white
fluffy contrail. A blinding explosion soon followed and the burning
wreckage of the enemy plane fell to the ground.

However, it was too early to calm down. A scraping sound indicated a
new danger.

"New hardware found: 'ground-to-air' missile!" - reported the system
and then fell silent. Vainly Falcon was thumping the mouse, looking,
as the sinister point creped to the center of the radar. At last the
system recovered from its state of stupor and reported:

"Couldn't find a driver for this device. Insert disk with correct
driver and press OK".

With curses Falcon pressed "Search".

"The nearest correspondence: hand grenades - has been selected,
- the system gladdened the lieutenant. - Apply?"

Falcon tugged the control stick to one side, making a
missile-avoiding maneuver. Too late. The plane shuddered from
explosion. Barely recovering the damaged machine from the dive, the
pilot clicked on the "System" button. Under "Left wing" a yellow
triangles with exclamation points "Aileron" and "Flap" were
shining, but for the rest he got nothing. The blue bar, continuing to
creep on the bottom of the screen, showed 82%, and he still had a
chance to complete the mission!

Radar showed two more enemy planes, but they came from behind so
Falcon didn't worry too much. He knew that those Iraq junk buckets
simply couldn't outrun his super-fast F-22.

However the planes came nearer. Falcon looked at the airspeed
indicator with perplexity and saw that he was quickly loosing
velocity. "Shucks! - exclaimed lieutenant. - engines are OK, and fuel
tanks are nearly full!". The screen in the meantime began to twinkle
fiercely with a hour-glass cursor. His instrument needles were moving
in spasmodic jerks, pausing often in one position. "Not enough free
memory, - the system suddenly condescended to the explanation. - Quit
unnecessary tasks".

Falcon called up the task manager, trying to understand what the
names 'winppl' or 'v666apl' mean and which of those are unnecessary.
Meanwhile, the engines almost became silent, the speed decreased
almost to the stall point: just a bit less, and the plane would fall
from the sky. The Iraqis, who were not ready for such air tactics,
passed Falcon, one to the left, one to the right, and still in a
state of surprise, collided right in front of Falcon's plane.

Meanwhile, the lieutenant found the words "Tracking enemy" in a list,
with text nearby in brackets that read: "[Not responding]", He
pressed 'OK'. The radar cut off, but the plane began to speed up

Blue bar was on 99 percent... than 100 at last... Falcon looked down
with perplexity: the desert below certainly didn't look like the
satellite photos of the nuclear center. Somehow, the system
understood it too, because behind the 100% appeared 101... than

When it reached 106 percent the blue screen of death appeared with a
message: "Error 000000e, called by module VXD0000(0) from module
VXD0000(0). It may be possible to continue normal flight. You can
press Eject for ejecting, or any other key to continue. Attention:
in case of ejecting you will lose all unsaved aircraft."

Falcon didn't want to eject yet, especially as the nuclear center
appeared ahead. Noting to himself not to depend on Microsoft, the
lieutenant prepared to drop bombs manually. He started descending,
waiting for the HUD targeting marker to come onto the target. Yes!
Falcon pushed the button.

There was a grinding sound and a new message appeared: "Bomb hatch
has performed an illegal operation and will be closed. If the
problem persists, contact the bomb vendor." Swearing, Falcon pulled
the stick back to put the plane into a climb but the aircraft
continued to descend quickly. The Lieutenant was feverishly looking
for the cause in menus. "Joystick is not detected", - he read at
last. When he understood that only reboot could restore the system to
the working state, he cycled the power switch.

"Last flight was finished incorrectly, - told the system. - Press any
key to start checking the integrity of the plane". "Damn!" - growled
Falcon, pressing "Cancel". The Winwars 2002 logo appeared; the system
began to load, slowly.  Meanwhile only a couple of hundred meters
were left between Falcon and the ground.

"System is loaded in a safe mode, - finally notified the screen. - In
this mode flight and weapon functions are cut off, you can only taxi
across the airfield."

Understanding that there was no time to do anything else, Falcon
commanded 'Eject', expecting that now the cockpit hood would be shot
off, to be followed by a powerful impact from below will throw him
out of the aircraft. But instead, another question has appeared on a

"Are you really want to eject?"

"Yes!!!" - cried Falcon in horror, looking at the hastily approaching

"Wait - preparing for ejecting", - the system informed the lieutenant
and then promptly fell silent...

2.04.2002, 13:20. Baghdad. Saddam Hussein's palace.

"And so, - cheerfully reported the general - thanks to the efforts of
our pilots, engaged in unequal combat with an American aggressor, we
have saved our nuclear center and destroyed the newest secret enemy

"Really? - the heavy look of the dictator stopped on the face of the
speaker, who hastily lowered his eyes. - Really unequal, of course.
Three against one, and they are lucky not to survive, because he
still reached the center. The center was saved only by Allah's

General broke out in a cold sweat. He understood that there's no such
mercy of Allah which will save him now.

"You have 30 seconds for improve your reputation", - lazily yawned

"Here it is! - exclaimed general, taking out of a sealed container a
shining CD. - This was found among the wreckage of the plane. The
best of American computer technology! The newest programs for
controlling military vehicles!"

"So, you have a small chance, - dictator sat back into the armchair.
- You have three weeks to install it on all the vehicles in our

"Yes, Mr. President!" - exclaimed the general...

After three weeks and one day Iraq unconditionally surrendered.

(C) Yuri Nesterenko (YuN), 2000 
Translated by Yuri Lapitskiy and Yuri Nesterenko, 2002