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> I was paranoid about not screwing up the memory management/garbage collection

Rightly so.

> f->k[i]=L->base[2];
> Is this really safe? Even for a string? How does the garbage collector know
> about this reference?

That assignment is copying TValues, not complete data.
The GC in Lua is not done by reference counting. It's mark-and-sweep.

Anyway, that code of mine is experimental software at best.