Panda chat leaves the Rat in deep chai

R. Fink

The Rat's paranoia was sharpening to a point after his private panda powwow.

His audience with Hsing Hsing, chief of covert panda operations in the United States, had shaken his world in more ways than just his perception of the black-and-white beasties at the National Zoo in Washington [GCN, Jan. 22, Page 46].

First, there was Hsing Hsing's contention that the pandas were in charge at Microsoft Corp.

'You must have guessed by now that Steve Ballmer is in fact a panda,' Hsing Hsing murmured to the whiskered one over tea.

'That would explain a lot of things,' the Rat replied.

'He was placed on the staff of Microsoft after we offered Mr. Gates venture funding to pursue the purchase of MS-DOS,' Hsing Hsing said matter-of-factly.

'Venture funding?' the wirebiter queried. 'Where would you come up with money for venture funding? I mean, you're pandas.'

'And you are Larry Ellison, I suppose, sir? Let's just say we were able to capitalize on some merchandising licenses and then on the programming skills of our comrades, whom Ling Ling and I smuggled into the country throughout the 1970s and 1980s. We also managed to profit significantly from our media appearances.'

The Rat grew impatient: 'OK, so you fronted Bill some money, installed a shaved panda as vice president and achieved software world domination. Why am I here?'

'Very simply, we have brought you here to offer you an opportunity. With our candidate now in the White House ...'

'George W.?' the Rat wailed.

'No, Mr. Cheney. He is also a panda. I was saying, we will shortly execute our next phase of operations. Your talents would be invaluable.'

'And those plans would be?'

'The outsourcing of the entire federal information technology infrastructure'to us,' Hsing Hsing said.

The router rodent's head spun. 'And I would be important to that plan because ...?'

'Because, as a fellow anthropomorphized fur-bearing being and an able technologist, you are the perfect advance-rat for our cause. We need someone with credibility in the community to help us ease into our role.'

The Rat tried to assemble something like a coherent sentence, but all he could manage was, 'How?'
'I understand your doubt,' Hsing Hsing replied. 'We will begin our infiltration shortly and will offer you evidence of our abilities. You need not give us an answer until we provide you with a demonstration of our resolve.'

The bipolar bear clapped his paws. Two trench-coated pandas the size of Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa came forward. 'In the meantime,' Hsing Hsing whispered, 'this meeting never happened.'

The refrigerator-size escorts led the Rat back to his family. While sipping chai, they were enjoying a ringside view of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian rolling around their habitat. 'Aren't these pandas wonderful guests?' Mrs. Rat asked rhetorically.

'Indeed,' the Rat replied as he led his clan back to the family roadster.

The furry protagonist tried his best over the next few days to purge the interview from his mind. Unfortunately, events at the White House soon brought them back to the forefront when an express envelope arrived for him at his command cubicle.

Inside was a plastic bag filled with W keys.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at

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