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Are They Back?

FLETCHER, OHIO (Reuters) -- A swarm of national security agents descended on a quiet midwestern town early this week looking for the source of mysterious Morse code transmissions beamed into deep space and seeking a possible connection with Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.

According to NSA field team leader Susanne Feinstein, a new arrest may be imminent.

'We started intercepting bursts again last week after Mr Ballmer's return from the Orient, and the flight logs show he stopped over here both before and after his trip', Feinstein said.

The messages, a repetition of the letters 'VEETS' in Morse code, a method once used by the telegraph, started at noon local time and continued until 3 PM on 29 November and were repeated for two more days.

..--....._.._....-.-.-
Query V E E T S Full Stop
The message loop intercepted by the NSA.

'It's more than a signal - it's a question', Feinstein explained. 'Whoever sent this message expects a reply.'

Feinstein's team believe 'VEETS', an obvious anagram for the christian name of the Microsoft CEO, is also an acronym for 'Virus Engendered Extinction of Terrestrial Species' and that Microsoft may be in cahoots with the aliens.

'I tried to warn people but they just wouldn't listen', said David Levinson in a telephone interview. 'Everyone was so ecstatic over the last victory in 1996 and didn't see the obvious, that destroying one mothership was not the same as destroying all motherships. I knew they'd be back - and now here they are.'

Levinson is the cable TV technician who used an Apple Macintosh PowerBook to introduce a destructive virus into the aliens' mothership mainframe and sabotage their fighter coordination system. He is generally credited with repelling the aliens almost single-handedly.

'That time we were lucky', said Levinson. 'Microsoft Windows 95 had been released only the year before, and it was my guess the aliens would build up a virtual machine inside their own mothership mainframe with which they could monitor our computer systems on Earth.'

'They wouldn't have known an operating system could be that wobbly, or that cracking it could be that easy. They didn't give us much credit, but they definitely didn't think we were that stupid. I bet the future of our planet on that. So yes, we definitely lucked out. Next time it might not be so easy.'

Levinson believes the 'VEETS' transmissions are part of a new plot with a different twist, and that the same nasty bugs are out there again. 'Last time they used our satellites to coordinate their attack', he reflects. 'This time their strategy might be more blunt.'

'They've seen our so-called technology. They've discovered our greatest weakness. They're betting the mothership on each and every idiot on this planet migrating to Microsoft Windows, and when that happens, they'll turn my own trick against us. Game over.'

Fletcher Ohio, the NSA have learned, is the site of Systemax, a PC OEM involved in the new AOL campaign to sell junk-in-the-box PCs and lure people into long-term contracts. Feinstein believes this is the connection.

'If Ballmer and AOL can get every idiot on the planet running Windows and connecting with the notorious America Online, it's game over. The aliens will use this against us. They're still hungry and we're the blue plate special.'

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