Chapter Five: DOWNLOAD VIRU-B-GONE TODAY AND RECEIVE A FREE IPOD!
Wandering about the ship, Carth tried to amuse himself. Karalina was out in Anchorhead with Bastila and Mission, so he was fairly certain that, at least for a while, he was safe from this "End User" character. He decided to take the opportunity to browse the HoloNet, and settled down happily in front of the computer terminal.
Unfortunately, the terminal was in no mood to be messed with. The screen merely blinked at him, reading, "YOUR COMPUTER MAY BE INFECTED BY VIRUSES. SCAN WITH VIRU-B-GONE FREE TODAY."
"What the-?" He tried tapping a few more buttons, but all it did was spread the ads to other computer windows in the area. Soon, he was surrounded by obnoxious animated images ranging from warnings about spyware to congratulations for winning a free iPod, whatever that was. "Oh, hell."
"Don't tell me it got in here, too!"
Carth whirled around to find himself face to face with a character a bit shorter than he, wearing an orange dress over black pants, and with a lively orange mohawk. She also looked a bit cartoonish, which was more than odd. However, he knew it could only be one person.
"So, you're back. Would you care to explain what happened here?"
"Argh. I let a friend use my computer for a while, and I don't know what she did to it, but there's spyware everywhere." She buried her face in her hands. "I didn't even know spyware could get in to games. Maybe that's where it hides so the IT people can't find it."
"Well, can you get rid of it?"
She paused. "I… I think so?" She shrugged. "I'm not really used to dealing with this… I mostly use the other operating system, and people don't write spyware for Linux. It's going to be an adventure, certainly."
Great. He was surrounded by adverts for the Force only knew what, and his only hope was a cartoon character with a mohawk who wasn't sure she knew how to get rid of it.
In the meantime, she was intently examining the computer terminals. "I have to figure out a way to get the scanners to deep-scan the game."
"Have you ever done that before?"
"What do you think?" She scratched her head and grimaced. "Where's T3?"
The little astromech, hearing his name mentioned, whistled and rolled into the room. "Dee deet?"
"All right, little guy… can I download some programs on to you?"
T3 whistled an affirmative, and she pulled what appeared to be some sort of memory stick out of her pocket. "There are three programs here- I want you to run each one of them, and delete anything and everything it finds. I don't care if it asks you to restart the game." After another cheerful whistle, she inserted the stick into his memory slot and stepped back. "Okay, do your stuff."
Carth looked skeptically at the 'droid. "Can you do that?"
She shrugged. "If people only did stuff they could do, we'd never have any advancement in the world, now, would we?"
"Point." He paused to look at T3, plugged into the Ebon Hawk's main computer and scanning for malicious software. "So… now that you're not hijacking Karalina anymore, do I get to hear your real name? Or am I going to have to keep calling you End User?"
"Well, my character's name is Riley. She's the model I used for my final project, doing a little tap dance. You can call me Alex, though."
"Alex? Are you a he on the other end?"
"No, the full name's Shawn Alexandra." She half-grinned. "Couldn't go by my first name, since it was the same as one of my aunts. So Alex it was."
"Huh." He'd heard of cultures where children were given two names, but hadn't really run into anyone with more than one. "I guess that makes sense."
"You're not the first person who's needed an explanation. Although, usually the question I get is, 'How do you get Alex out of Shawn?' Simple enough- I don't." She looked back over to the astromech 'droid, happily sorting through the filesystems. "How's it going over there?"
"Dreee deet!" T3 trilled, then blatted as he printed the number of infected files found on the screen.
Carth's eyes nearly bugged out when he saw it. "Damn it, what did your friend do to this computer? 176 files?"
"And that's only one program."
"So…" Carth examined the character in front of him. "Do you like this model?"
She shrugged. "Meh, it's okay. Not bad for a first attempt, certainly, and it moves pretty nicely. But I think I'm going to find a way to do better hair at some point. The mohawk isn't really me. However," she added, almost as an afterthought, "It's much more fun coming in here in my own model rather than taking over the PC. And adding stuff to the game is kinda fun. Now I see why the modding community is so huge."
"Modding community?" Carth looked confused. "What's that?"
"It's people who have played the game so many times that they feel the need to add things to keep it interesting. Or they want extra items. Or whatever. Did you ever wonder why there's a random store in the Ebon Hawk's basement?"
Well, it had been a little strange the first time he found it. "Modding people?"
"Oh yeah. Also, Karalina's purple robes are courtesy of the modders. I happen to like the colour purple."
"Didn't you turn the cockpit purple in a different game?"
She grinned at the memory of her handiwork. "That was enjoyable."
T3 beeped, indicating that he was done. 348 infected files scrolled across the screen, and Alex shook her head. "Good grief. Get rid of 'em, T3."
With a quick turn of his computer appendage, the files were deleted, and T3 trilled to inform them that the game would need to be restarted in order to make sure that the files didn't come back.
"All right, that's my cue to leave," Alex said. "I'll shut you guys down for just a moment until this is fixed." With that, she left the room, and moments later, everything went dark.
When the game restarted moments later, Carth blinked and looked around. Alex was nowhere to be seen, but that wasn't especially surprising. What was surprising was the large pink recliner in the corner that seemed to have the stuffing poking out of the top.
"How did this get in here?"
Almost in response, the chair started moving towards him. He stumbled backwards in surprise, bumping straight into the computer. He narrowed his eyes at the offending chair and bellowed, "ALEX!"
Annoyed though he was, he could swear he heard her laughter as the chair turned around and skittered out of the room.