If you look at the sky, it may seem blue and cloudless, but behind it the yawning blackness of the virtual network space awaits and a merciless war reigns at all times.

It’s a war in which there is no good and no evil, hackers and defenders change their roles depending on their point of view, governments and lobbies conquer or lose their supremacy – but first and foremost it’s a war against the bugs, the dark, parasitic creatures that are constantly on the lookout for destruction and spread unstoppably throughout the universe. Where they came from, nobody knows – there are rumors of a parallel dimension, because how else can you explain how they appear at any place unexpectedly? And then there’s the rumor that the developers themselves opened Pandora’s Box and brought the plague into this world, but these are just rumors…

But one thing is clear: once the bugs arrived, they don’t go away so easily. They have to be destroyed under a joint, time-consuming and life-threatening effort of all forces.

This is the task of specially trained development teams all over the world. Just like team Alpha, which in our story was sitting in its operations center staring at its screens. In the background of the room there were monitors showing the status of the systems monitored by the team, mainly in green.

Without warning, some of the panels displayed suddenly changed to their complementary color and showed bright red – at first a few, but then the red color spread as quickly as a virus.

Alarm sounded followed by an announcement: “Team Alpha to the Bridge!

One after the other the team members glided down the fire pole. Every move was rehearsed a thousand times in case of an emergency like this. As soon as the belts of the armchairs, in which the team took a seat in combat gear, were closed, the powerful engines started and the landing spoilers were retracted, while “Debug 404”, the mission space ship, gained height and left the firewall, which surrounded the planet as a protective shield.

The Internet Stellar Wormhole

As soon as they were in free space, various e-mail message probes headed for them. They contained the latest detailed information about the affected systems: a massive bug outbreak in the Gamma Draconis system. The customer’s order ships could not get through.

On the screen appeared the weather-tanned face of the customer’s fleet commander, Enex Deldate: “Crack! I hope for your sake that you are already on your way to solve this mess. You have assured us 99 percent free passage…”

He was talking to Captain Crack McZacken, the team leader, who replied calmly and seriously: “That’s how it is, Enex, we’re still in the one percent and already on the road. The next Internet-stellar wormhole has just opened. We’ll be at the endpoint in fifteen chronoseconds.”

“I’ll give you ten,” the commander replied, “The fire corridor closes in a centime. So, if you intend to give everything, step it up a notch! I want a detailed report every fifteen chronoseconds. And one more thing: pack some additional docker containers of ammunition – it’s getting hot!”

Suddenly you could see something like despair in the rock-hard face of the veteran.

As soon as the image of the commander had disappeared, the huge wormhole No. IEEE 802.3 took the entire field of vision. Bluishly pulsating it opened its huge mouth, ready to swallow everything that dared coming closer and to spit it out fully digested on the other side. At this sight the crew suddenly felt sick.

“Coordinates calculated: 40 hops to the endpoint of the system ‘Gamma Draconis’ – this will be a wild ride. Hold on tight,” Matt Poweronoff, the DevOps engineer, shouted grimly.

“Initiate virtual transfer. Merge our branch into the trunc of the channel. Let’s rock and roll” ordered Crack. With this, the mission ship floated through the huge portal of the space tunnel to the slowly swelling sounds of “Thunderstruck” by ACDC, until suddenly it got swallowed whole and burned up as a small dot on the black firmament of space.

Bug Barbeque

A flight through the SSH tunnel can be imagined as if all your molecules were torn apart and then reassembled, which in the end is exactly what happens.

Paralyzed by the impact of arrival, the crew hung in their armchairs, each occupied with their own out-of-control bodies. Stand By, the youngest member of the crew, threw up noisily. Immediately, a robot helper rushed over to mop up.

“My stomach can’t stand these SSH tunnels. The encrypting and decrypting of the atoms always makes me think that a different person arrived that the one that set off.”

“We’re here, it’s about time,” Crack said, not looking at him, “There’s the Traefik station. It takes us to the endpoint. We are dealing with a virtual middle-class solar system with three monolithic planets, accompanied by up to twelve microservice-trabants. Behind them is a field of microservice asteroids. Over there we can already see the customer’s spaceships racing back and forth between them. And…yes, over there, at the big planet, some of them are positioning themselves. They have raised their shields and are under heavy fire. That must be our problem child…”

“Correct,” Matt confirmed, “I’ll send some ping drones to circle the outbreak… ah, ok, some haven’t come back. That must be quadrant 333…”

“We have to narrow down the area even further. Sending some analysis log probes over the surfacing database cities…”

“Captain,” Dschuhr Figgs, the first officer, said “I just got word that our support troops are already on site. They have initial analysis data and are limiting the damage.”

“Well, do we have time for the landing oft the regular update infantry troups?”

“Unfortunately, no, that would take at least twenty Chronocentimes and we don’t have that time.”

“So direct hotfix deployment. Then let’s grill some bugs. Take us down, Porter!”

The person addressed, Porter Ex, the interface specialist, pulled a lever, whereupon the spaceship went down and penetrated the atmospheric fog.

“Prepare Warn-Selects…Fire!”

“No reaction,” noted Sudo Line On, the frontend engineer.

“Then even complex join selects won’t do much good. Load the update torpedoes and the insert missiles into the launch shaft…fire!”

One after the other the projectiles left the launching ramps of the spaceship and left a wide trail of devastation in the approaching masses of bugs. Flyway pipelines ensured a steady supply of ammunition. But no matter how many of the bugs were destroyed, more and more of them followed and took over the positions of their fallen brothers.

Legacy Core Brain Bug

“It’s as if they can foresee all our steps…Wait a minute…yeah, that must be it – somewhere down there is a brain bug, I’m sure of it,” concluded Yunique Dump, the database planet expert. “It’s been a while since I last met one. And I had hoped to be spared another encounter…”

“Ok, let’s see if its actions show a pattern so we can calculate where it’ll strike next…” Crack commented.

But after a few more attempts even Yunique threw in the towel: “It’s obviously a Legacy Core Brain Bug – it’s hard to get! Here we need the S.W.A.T-Team on site. From up here we can’t do anything anymore. The task force has to locate the brain bug and mark it. We’ll do the rest with the Delete torpedoes.”

“Ok, I will give the ‘Go’ to the team. Request committed. They’re on their way…”

Just a few moments later, a small WLAN glider landed in the desert region among them.

The voice of the commander of the S.W.A.T. team sounded rough and grumpy on the bridge: “You already know that you risk the lives of my men if we go through with this plan?

“Believe me, if there was another way, I’d take it, but there’s no other way, Commander Kiosukis. Now it depends on all of you…” Crack replied.

“Ok, now we’re penetrating into the subterranean cave system of the Bugs. May God have mercy on us, the critters won’t…”

Silence reigned for a long time. Then, when Crack already thought that something must have gone wrong, Stand By reported: “The S.W.A.T. team has set the mark, I can see the signal clearly on the radar!

“Fire” with this word, Crack initiated a massive bombardment that lasted for several minutes. When the clouds of smoke had dissipated, he said: “Commander Kiosukis, please report, Commander Kiosukis, come in!”

“This is Commander Kiosukis: the target has been successfully eliminated. I repeat, the target has been successfully eliminated!”

This message caused cheers on the bridge of the digital spaceship.

“Good work” praised Crack, “As always! Jump into your glider and go home – your beer for a job well done is waiting!”

It’s a trap!

“Um…” Yunique spoke with an ominous sound in her voice, “The glider of the S.W.A.T. team has just started without a team and is heading straight for us…”

“Excuse me? How can that be?”

Again sounded the voice of the S.W.A.T. Commander: “We have been had! We marked a major bug, but not the brain bug. It seems to have escaped with our WLAN glider!”

“It’s heading straight for us and wants to dock!” Porter shouted desperately, “I can’t prevent it, there’s no block algorithm for our own systems!

“It wants to take revenge. It is said that a Brain Bug sucks out the brains of its victims,” Stand By interjected, “we have to evacuate the ship!

“Everybody stay where you are” ordered Crack, “We’ll face it.”

“But that’s suicide!” Stand tried again, but nobody listened to him. Slowly the spaceship turned to initiate the docking manoeuvre. A little later, the entrance lock opened and a monstrous beast crawled inside, leaving a slime trail that shone ghostly in the light.

“Stop!” Crack’s rock-solid voice resounded, “not a step further!

“What do you want to do against me, human being?” the creature taunted telepathically, “I am a Legacy Core Brain Bug. No one can stop me!”

“That only applies to your world,” Crack replied calmly, “you left it of your own free will. Now you’re on our territory – and here our rules apply!”

With these words he operated a lever, whereupon a pneumatic hissing sounded and sliding doors closed from all sides around the Bug. Before he knew it, he was sitting in a hermetically sealed capsule and blockchains closed around his limbs. He raged in anger, but couldn’t do anything against the titanium walls.

“You planned this from the beginning?” Stand By opened his eyes in amazement and reproach.

“That’s right. Commander Kiosukis, we have it. Many thanks for staying the course. We’ll send the glider down by AI autopilot.”

“Damn! Cleaning it from the slime will take a whole week at least! But it’s good to hear that the plan worked out and we can finally take off. Its getting quite uncomfortable here.”

The spaceship started the engines and headed for the wormhole, while Crack informed the customer that their spaceships could get through again. As they flew past, they saw Fleet Commander Enex Deldate standing at the front window. He saluted with respect.

“Bring us home, Matt,” Crack commanded as he dropped exhaustedly into his armchair.