The final pizza the puzzle • The register

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Episode 6 It’s a law as old as the jungle itself: there comes a time when a young lion will desire the role of pride leader for himself.

Tired of being barred from the full rewards of leader of the troop, bored with the second role of fiddler and unfortunately accustomed to the prod of a cattle prod, he will engage the leader in combat.

And since the PFY estimates that it has had a few thousand extra volts this year, it has decided that I will take on the role of assistant – probably after a long stay in a medical structure. A stay I’m pretty sure would be punctuated by a series of incidents where a drop of saline solution becomes inexplicably contaminated with chili sauce moments after I’ve fallen asleep.

Better not to dwell on it.

Obviously, as IT professionals, we won’t settle this simple dispute with a crude show of primacy – but rather an unspoken battle of wills between Karpov and Spassky. The PFY plays its pawn, I play mine. The PFY sacrifice a bishop, I push one of the helpdesk guys down the stairs because I see a suspicious shadow (which turned out to be nothing). All is fair in love and war.

My arrival at work is greeted with disturbing news. The Boss slipped into the toilet, hit his head on a basin and landed heavily, breaking his hip. Part of me feels bad for him, while another part says I should have mentioned the missing box of silicone spray lube I noticed yesterday afternoon.

Another pawn has fallen – though neither of us can claim defeat or victory.

History has taught the PFY and myself that Mission Control and its adjoining rooms are not in the field of play. However, hiding there gives your opponent the opportunity to prepare surprises for your eventual exit. Additionally, hiding too long can also give your opponent the opportunity to discuss a technical point and send something to find you – so it’s best to keep moving.

I’m currently in the manager’s office ordering an onion bhaji pizza on behalf of the PFY in an effort to get him out. I have no idea where it is, but I see the telltale dust from the ceiling tiles in the hallway, so I know there’s something waiting for me up there – at least sure it’s not a bluff.

The PFY throws a knight to King 4 when I hear my car alarm go off and a quick glance out the window reveals a small desktop machine embedded in the sheet metal of my windshield. Normally this would require an immediate retaliatory attack – but that is exactly what the PFY would expect.

Also, I sold the car to one of the accountants last night because it looked like it was driving abnormally low and I wasn’t interested in finding out I had several jerrycans of petrol in the trunk – rigged on 17th brake light activation – pulling 70 on the highway.

The pizza delivery boy arrives and I use the diversion to move. I know the PFY won’t go looking for the pizza, but I also know they’ll be focusing their attention on that immediate area to see if I’m watching it as well.

The CCTV system is useless. Those cameras that weren’t masked will have been re-oriented to point at walls and ceilings, which will annoy security when they wake up from their night comas at the end of their shift. That said, I’m still watching. Only one camera is still working and it’s immediately outside the room I intended to move to – which means the PFY reads my mind in the relevant room or wants I think he’s in the room.

Looks like I’m going to have to sacrifice a pawn. I call security, wake one of them up from his nap, and tell him I noticed a delivery guy wandering down the hallway near the camera carrying an onion bhaji pizza he couldn’t get. find the owner. He will have felt a commotion in the Force when the pizza entered the building in the first place, so in less time than it takes to put on his boots, buckle up, walk to the elevator, press on the button, wait for the elevator, go back to his desk because he forgot to take a packet of candy canes for the trip, go back to the elevator, press the button again, wait for the elevator again, take the elevator to the second floor, put the empty candy cane in the trash can and wander down the hallway in question, there it is.

The door opens to an empty room and my thoughts begin to turn to the subject of relaxation, as this may be a battle I cannot win. I don’t know where the PFY is, he seems to be anticipating my every move and I’m running out of ideas. It’s time to move again to consider my options.

I go out into the corridor at the same time as the PFY advances in the corridor barely ten meters from me. The PFY’s expression of fear and doubt mirrors mine.

“Maybe we should…” the PFY says hesitantly, as the security guard blunders around the corner behind him “…cancel that?”

I see that the tide has turned and that as adversaries neither the PFY nor I will be able to keep the upper hand. It was truly unavoidable – over the years I passed on all the lessons in my Machiavelli-tinged Art-of-War playbook to him.

We are equal.

“He ate your pizza,” I said to the tired, hungry guard, pointing at the PFY.

Well, there’s always room to add another game to the playbook…

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