Sith Academy: Distance Learning
By the Intrepid Housemate Melissa TM
[Read Melissa's author bio]
For archiving only at the Sith Academy. Disclaimer: Lucasfilm owns it all and I don't, blabbity blabbity blah...
"A Sith Lord does not need to see his victims in order to destroy them, my apprentice," hissed Lord Sidious. "You must be able to wreak havoc from a distance."
"I understand, my master."
"Good. Now, find the one who has been on hold the longest."
Staring intently at the blinking operator's board, Maul reached out with the Force. So many anxious people waiting, full of anger and frustration. So many tiny minds, worrying about their insignificant futures. They were all at his mercy.
"This one has been waiting for nearly thirty-five minutes. He has an important meeting tomorrow and can't get his presentation software to work."
"Excellent. How would you deal with him?"
Maul activated the vidphone and purred, "Thank you for calling Software Industry Technical Help, Coruscant's #1 technical support service. Your call is very important to us, and will be answered by the next available operator. If you would like to continue holding, press 1. If you would like to try our automated voice mail system, press 2. If you would like to find out what time the movie starts, press 3. If you would like to leave a message with our answering service, press 42597398. If you would like to dial another number, press 10-10-321. If you would like to be connected with an operator immediately, press Q." Before the befuddled caller could reply, Maul placed him on hold again.
Sidious observed the operator's board. "Well done, my apprentice. He's still holding. You offered him the tiniest sliver of hope that he might get through to a live person. It will be all the sweeter for us when his hopes are crushed." He pronounced "crushed" with such glee that Maul shivered in anticipation.
"Ah, but he is only one man," continued Sidious. "What are the rest of them doing?"
"They're listening to hold music, my master." Maul held up a CD case. The bright pink label identified it as The Best of Ewok Party Music, Volume 2.
"Software Industry Technical Help, how can I assist you?"
"Oh, thank the Force, that hold music was getting to me. My name is Qui-Gon Jinn, I need help installing a software upgrade on a type R2 astromech droid."
"Instructions for that procedure can be found in your manual on page 235, Mr. Jinn."
"Er, well, you see, I sort of acquired this droid used, and it didn't come with a manual…"
"I'm sorry, but if you're not the original owner, you'll need to purchase a new service plan. I'll transfer you to sales."
"Yes, I can sense where your problem is. Go to the root."
"Now type RM-IR* and press Enter."
"OK… Umm, It's asking me if I really want to delete all the files on this drive. What should I do?"
"Wipe them out. All of them."
"Software Industry Technical Help, sales department, how can I assist you?"
"Your technical support person said I needed to purchase a new service plan for my droid before he'd help me out. It's a type R2 astromech droid."
"Type R2? That model's practically obsolete. I'll have to check with our archives to see if we keep those parts in stock. Please hold."
"Hey, callers! This is your hold music deejay, MC Maul, comin' at ya with the latest hits! In the next hour, we'll be featuring highlights from the Sy Snootles band, the Wookiee Tabernacle Choir, and the latest in Huttese opera, so stay on hold! I'm sure your call will be answered soon."
"Software Industry Technical Help, how can I assist you?"
"Oh no, I'm back at the beginning again! Now listen, you, I've been holding on the damn vidphone for an hour and a half now, being transferred from department to department, just to get a damn manual for my damn R2 droid so I can do a damn software upgrade! Now normally I am a very calm and stoic person, but I swear if you put me on hold one more time I am going to come over there and get medieval on your ass!"
Sweet victory! Maul savored the powerful waves of hate flowing through the vidphone connection. Yes, this one was powerful with the Force. Darth Sidious would be most pleased.
And now, for the final touch.
"Oh, Mr. Jinn, I can't imagine why our technical support people said you need a manual. The software upgrade procedure is quite simple, and I'd be happy to explain it to you."
"Oh, I know exactly what causes that. Press CTRL-F12."
"That's normal. Now press CTRL-ALT-F9-2-%-INS."
"Now it's beeping."
"Wonderful! Now press SHIFT-7-F7-COLON-TILDE-NUM LOCK-END."
"The screen's gone black! Oh wait, it's rebooting… Hey, what do you know, it's starting up again. Thanks!"
Maul stared at the vidphone screen in disbelief. He felt the dark presence of Headmaster Sidious slither up behind him.
"Maul, did you actually… HELP that person?"
Maul hunched down in his chair, wishing the floor would swallow him up. "I didn't mean to! It's not my fault!"
"You're losing them, Maul!" Lights on the operator's board blinked out as one caller after another gave up.
Scowling, Maul reached out with the Force and probed the minds of his callers. "They are frustrated, my Master. We have had the intended effect."
Sidious frowned. "But the trick is to string them along as far as possible for the maximum payoff. They're only averaging fifteen minutes hold time! Now they will go away and complete other, more productive tasks."
Maul pondered his situation for a moment. "Perhaps what they need is greater encouragement to call us."
"What do you have in mind?" asked Sidious, curious as to what twisted scheme his apprentice had conjured.
Maul swiveled his office chair and fired up his laptop. "I created a computer virus during my last night shift in the network lab at the Academy. I'll attach it to an email whose header reads 'IMPORTANT VIRUS WARNING!' The message warns you about the new Java Executable Disk Infection virus going around, and suggests that you call Software Industry Technical Help for the latest in virus detection information. Of course, at the same time you read the message, you get infected." With a few swift clicks, Maul sent the message out via every spam list he knew of, while forging the header so as to read "email@example.com"
Several minutes passed as the email message flashed through the high-speed computer connections of Coruscant. Then, the lights of the operator's board flashed on, one by one, as hundreds of horrified users rushed to the phones.
Maul glanced up for his master's reaction. Sidious nodded his approval.
Yoda frowned as a chirpy voice on his cell phone announced, "All circuits are busy. Please try your call again later."
"Hmph. Curious, it is, that at one time should so many be calling." He folded his phone and returned it to the pocket of his robe. "Pizza for lunch is not to be delivered. Leftovers perhaps there are, hmm?"
"What is the status of the phone queue, Maul?"
"I have seventy-seven callers tied up in an endless voice mail loop, four hundred and thirty-one still holding, nineteen who are still sitting in front of their vidphones because they don't realize they've been disconnected, three vidphone terminals destroyed by blaster shots from angry users, and one confirmed committal to an insane asylum."
"You have done well, my apprentice. There is no more to be learned from this exercise."
Maul grinned maliciously and ripped the one and only S.I.T.H. vidphone cord from the wall.
"Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!" cried Obi-Wan as his connection to the technical support center went dead.
Qui-Gon entered the room, a pained expression on his face. "I sense a great disturbance in the Force, as if a million voices suddenly cried out in anguish..."
"Now I'll never get my pod-racing game to work." Obi-Wan pouted. "Poodoo!"
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