The Guide X: A Tale of the A.I. Trail
by Adrian Hon
Before 24th April - 24th April onwards - 23rd May onwards - 19th June onwards - The Wrap-up Report
[All subsequent entries are on or after 19th June]
As with all things, every new Update Tuesday starts with an email from Laia (well, it does for the Guide at least). Her email was quite long so I'm not going to include it here - you can read it here. Laia is still understandably upset over the death of Mephista and she's now wondering what has become of Venus.
There's also a new Meditations by Laia. It's quite a long piece, and like our favourite girl in 2142 is still on the drink. The Meditations is all about her journey to meet none other than the Red King himself, Dwayne. Laia clearly thinks that there might be trouble, so she brings along her tazer. Unfortunately as you can read in the piece, she's a bit disorientated to say the least without Mephista to guide her and read her maps.
Now, this meeting isn't too surprising. Laia already knew about the Red King, as we read in a previous Meditations. However, it probably took a bit of detective work to figure out exactly what his real identity and home address was. What's more pressing is what they're meeting about. My guess is that Laia simply wants to team up with Dwayne or at least find out what he knows about Evan's death and everything else that is going on.
Also on the Salla Family website is an update to The Story So Far, which confirms Crane (as revealed in the 'Another Stone' origami puzzle) as being the killer of Ivy and all the other houses, and that he is now dead. It also mentions that the Mann Act has been introduced and that this really is the crux point for whether AIs become legitimate and equal citizens.
I'm beginning to look forward to Martin's updates - he seems to practically be the main character in this game now, sidelining Jeanine and Laia, and that's not necessarily a bad thing since he's quite a likeable guy who's been through a hard time.
As usual, Martin has changed his 'knock knock' password this week. The question is now "The tongues of dying men" and there are once again two answers. You can answer "enforce attention like deep harmony" (without a period) or "enforce attention like deep harmony." (with a period).
If you type in the one with the period, you get taken to the sleep.asp page which has been slightly updated with two new paragraphs. They notably mention that he's been running away from the 'things I did when I woke up' (suggesting that Martin has done some nasty things in his time) and that his mother is at Catskills and always had a problem with sleeping.
If you type in the answer without the period, you are taken to 6.18.2142.asp. This has two images of the same baseball player but in different colours. It's not known whether the two images mean anything, but the name of the first image (mayi.jpg) is remarkably similar to the may_i/ directory we went to at Catskills. This suggests that the name of the second image (goose.jpg) will also be a directory at Catskills. And it is! As with the may_i/ directory, http://www.catskillseaviewclinic.org/goose is also a transcript of what seems to be the same interview of Monica Swinton by Jane Sutter. Nothing of real substance, but I think that we might be hearing more from this interview.
Despite being closer to Dwayne's age than Martin's, I can't say I enjoy his updates at the Most Wanted page at SPCB as much, probably because it's so damn hard to read that silly hacker-speak. Oh well, here's his latest update:
"Et tu" is obviously Brutus, and the Red King is talking about his conversation with Jim Wheeler's son (who you'd forgive for being sloppy as he's only a kid). The Red King has managed to grab the transmissions sent from Jim Wheeler's son to Brutus and he believes it might be important. The link to the data stream was in the original text and it points to a new puzzle. The puzzle is a diagram of a baseball pitch with little clipart baseball images dotted around in groups.
I'll hand the explanation of how this puzzle was solved to veteran Cloudmakers hacker TripCX:
So this message is undoubtedly from Jim Wheeler's son and he's telling Brutus that his father and ARM will assassinate Senator Julia Mann (who else could it be?). Well, at least we know why Brutus was talking to Jim's son although I do think it's a tad underhanded for Brutus to be exploiting a kid. Oh well. It seems inevitable that Brutus will pass this information along to pro-AI groups in order to prevent the assassination, I should think.
There's a whole load of new news at the different websites this week. We'll start with SPCB's news. There's an 'Urgent Warning' about how some sentient houses could be infected via pulsed infra-red transmissions in the guise of keyboard drivers - without a doubt this will be a real clue into how Crane killed Martin's houses and it also fits into the Red King's thoughts about how he might do it himself. The other news story is about a 'stutter' in the datasphere; it's believed that this refers to a time in the past week when the game website servers themselves were temporarily offline - good recovery, Puppetmasters!
[Laia also mentioned the stutters in her own email]
At AIT there are also two new stories. The first unveils the secret project at their Tranquillity campus, which was to send an all AI crew to another star, Epsilon Eridani via a light sail. It's quite an interesting piece and it's all within the realms of science, although I have to admit that we're still some way off creating a petawatt laser and I have absolutely no clue what a 'Terahertz wave' is supposed to be; you'd think that they could've just turned the sail around and used the light pressure from Epsilon Eridani's sun to slow down, but no, they have to use a 'Terahertz wave'. Damn this technobabble and all its accursed works!
Of course, it's quite a neat idea for the AI crew simply to beam themselves back. Makes sense. As such, it's far too clear that the AIs, capable of travelling at the speed of light itself, will be the true explorers of the universe whatever happens.
The second news story is rather more down to earth and talks about the introduction of the Mann Act II into the US Senate. To refresh your memory, the Mann Act II proposes to hold a referendum in which the population of the United States could decide whether or not to give AIs equal rights. I found it amusing that the EU, the Pacific Rim and NAFTA all supported the act (being naturally more civilised countries than yankee America) whereas Mexico and the Americas disagreed.
It seems to be a very 'two news stories' day today - BWU News also has two news stories. The first story is also on the Mann Act II and it doesn't tell us anything we didn't know already. The second story is about BWU's collaboration with the French neurological institute Clinique De Lille in clinic trials of deep brain stimulation. The collaboration was cut short after the research yielded inconclusive results. Bugger all of that though - we now have a link to a new website!
The Clinique de Lille website is, impressively, entirely in French and completely done in tasteful (and small file size!) Flash. Translations of the website have been made for those of you not fluent.
The clinic doesn't disclose exactly what medical condition they are researching, but they are apparently genetic and thus heredity in nature and are extremely experimental. The rest of the information is about the clinic's environment, which frankly sounds like it's run by a control freak with utilitarian tendencies - I mean, they put holowindows with twisted and grotesque images in them to shock patients into recovery? Sure, it might get them better but that doesn't do much good if they go completely insane afterwards. I suppose they could always ship them off to Catskills afterwards though, they could do a good two-in-one bundle for that.
If you click on the 'Programmes de Traitements Généraux' button in the website, and then on the 'Dossiers de Recherche Avancée' link, a window opens that lets you type in a name. Now, for a bit of common sense. We know that the one person within the game who might be at a clinic like this, for experimental treatments, would be John Greenstreet's sister, Beverly, who has ALS. If you type in Beverly Greenstreet though, it doesn't work.
However, John did say in one of his encoded messages that 'They have my sister,' and the only 'they' we know of is Claude Gilbert. Initially though, John would have probably sent his sister to Claude willingly in the belief that her condition might be treated. For all of this to be above board, the best way to go about it would be for Claude to become Beverly's guardian and perhaps to adopt her, in which case her name would be Beverly Gilbert. And this time, Beverly Gilbert does work if you type it in.
It is of course a little peculiar that the clinic doesn't have more security measures than simply typing a name in, but what can you say? They are French, after all (only joking, sheesh).
Once you've typed the name in, you're shown a consultant ophthalmologist's report on Beverly addressed to a doctor at the clinic. It talks a little about her condition and how she is currently in cryogenic suspension (i.e. frozen to a very low temperature to stop metabolic functions but not to kill her), and also that she is not responding to treatment for something that is affecting her eyes. It's interesting to note that she is in a Cybertronics Holding Tank although this doesn't necessarily mean that Cybertronics is directly involved - it might just be that Cybertronics happens to supply all the cryotanks across the world.
A sharp Cloudmaker noticed that with the May_I/ and Goose/ directories at Catskills that pointed towards the Jane Sutter/Monica Swinton interview both had a 'mother' theme. Consequently, the other following directories were discovered by following that theme (there were no direct links or clues as such to these individual directories):
These all also point to sections within the same interview. A collated and combined transcript of the entire interview is available, stitched together from all of these segments. I can't really summarise it all here, it's quite long and to get an idea of the tone of the interview you have to read it yourself.
While it's not said out loud, I believe that the 'post mortem' referred to at the beginning is about David, Monica's AI son, and that Jane Sutter (being from Cybertronics) wants to understand the psychological profile of Monica and thus from that perhaps understand why the David project went so badly and why he disappeared.
Monica still appears to be very intelligent although not completely balanced, what with the 'knife' questions (from a scientific point of view, it's clearly an unfair test since a knife features in all of them and it's also the first word. But perhaps it's not supposed to be a fair test - all of these psychology tests are funny things. Speaking of which, I saw that they were called 'Kressian protocols' - I did a search for this on the web and came up with nothing, so I think it's a bit of homage to the excellent SF author Nancy Kress who writers about stuff like this).
The imagery within the interview - the waves, the cat, the tea, Monica's proficiency at concealing emotion all points towards her being Eliza, who is also a notable figure in the game with her waves, cats and tea. Even if Eliza isn't Monica, she must be at least modelled on Monica. Either possibility isn't unlikely as Monica is asleep for something like 22 hours of the day, during which time she is hooked up to AIs and thus could quite easily take on the Eliza persona for most of the day, or her AIs could do it for her.
[All subsequent entries occurred on or after 26th June]
Another week, and another email from Laia:
It looks like Laia must have had a chat with Dwayne when she met him back last week and then arranged this meeting at a restaurant. Unfortunately Dwayne was kidnapped and he only managed to write some cryptic clues on the bill - an image of the bill was attached to the email.
If you have a look at the bill, it's clearly very strange. I don't know what you guys do in America, but the last time I was over there I don't recall apple juice, raisin toast and meat loaf being combined into a meal. So it's a Clue, with a capital C, and it's a pretty easy clue since who would kidnap the Red King except for anti-AI militants, such as, say, ARM? The first letters of each of the items spell out ARM, after all.
Secondly, the bill is signed by Pat Henry which definitely isn't Dwayne's name. Patrick Henry is known for his famous saying 'Give me liberty or give me death.' Thirdly, the crossed off prices and the numbers he scribbled in replacement spell out a phone number: (212) 613-1632. Call that number, and you get an answer... not from an answering machine though, but a real person.
At that number, someone called Mike Royal answers the phone and says he's from 'Statue [of Liberty] Security'. We first thought that this couldn't possibly be in-game since none of the phone numbers we've called before were answered by real persons but after a few people had called him up, it was clear that he was in game. Through literally dozens of non-stop calls by players of the game, we managed to piece together what was happening by asking Mike questions.
Mike Royal is a low-level security guard at 'Statue Security' and early that afternoon on June 26th he saw some people bring someone in on a boat. Afterwards, he admitted that he knew that our friend Dwayne was being beaten up and tortured - the guys responsible for this were led by his boss, Mr. Anderson. Finally, once intrepid Cloudmakers had called upon his sense of honour, Mike Royal decided to do the right thing and open an almighty six pack o' whupass on the ARM guys who were beating up our man Dwayne.
It's hard to describe exactly the excitement of all of this while it was happening, but while I was in the Cloudmakers IRC channel things were literally boiling over as people were comparing notes over what he'd said and what they should attempt later. It was a real triumph of the game, I think.
The person answering the phone must have been incredibly familiar with the game as he avoided being caught out by anything anyone said. What I found absolutely hilarious was the sheer number of people who pretended to be Geri Khan (leader of BIOS, the group Dwayne works for) and ordered Mike to release Dwayne - in particular, the guy who rang up pretending to be Geri even though Geri is a woman.
Anyway, it all eventually got sorted out and after 5pm EST that day, Mike Royal stopped answering the phone and we got this message:
At this point, Mike Royal was approaching true godhood in the estimation of the Cloudmakers...
Mike Royal was also found to be added to the Sophia's Responses, which gave us a lot of information about him and also helped us identify with him over the phone.
A brief history of Mike: He played American Football and was a pretty decent guy in pretty awful surroundings. He ended up getting crippled during a game and had to leave football and become a security guard. He's still in his twenties. It's a sad story but hopefully things will be getting better for his after he saved Dwayne - after all, he says in his answerphone message that he's 'got a few leads on a better line of work.'
Laia said in her most recent email that Dwayne was going to explain the 'connect the dots' puzzle he put on her website at the restaurant. They never got around to meeting but that doesn't mean we can't figure the puzzle out ourselves. We've actually read the words 'connect the dots' before, in the last SPCB hack by Dwayne. What he said was 'Mann to sea, humans to fish'.
So we're supposed to connect the dots, and the puzzle is on Laia's website? Well, the only page that passes muster is the one on the Mann Act. If you go and draw lines between the word 'Mann' and 'sea' and 'ARM [humans]' to 'fish', then the point at which the lines intersect is over the word 'god'. Since Dwayne's hunting grounds are the SPCB and people seem far too fond of hiding stuff in easily identified subdirectories, a good (and correct) guess would be to go to http://www.spcb.org/god
There's more tiresome and easily-decoded text there in typical Red King fashion. It's quite long so I haven't included the decoded version here. Surprisingly, it turns out that Dwayne was the one who was conducting searches for David Swinton under the guise of Martin, and that Geri Khan had ordered him to do it. Exactly why Geri Khan is so interested in David is unknown.
Dwayne agrees with Martin that his houses were being killed because someone thought he was poking his nose too far into what happened with David, but now Dwayne is worried that if they figure out that it was him, not Martin, doing the investigating, then he'll get killed. Which is almost what happened, when he got kidnapped by the ARM. The question is, is it just a coincidence that the ARM kidnapped him or are they really the people who ordered Martin's houses to be killed? If so, does that mean that ARM are affiliated with Claude Gilbert and possibly even Cybertronics? But why would the ARM want David to remain such a secret? Surely they'd be happy that David was a disaster for Cybertronics?
If it wasn't a coincidence and if ARM are involved in this, then the only plausible explanation that I can see is that ARM are indirectly funded by Cybertronics as their 'dirty tricks' wing for assassinations and so forth. It isn't that impossible since, for example, we know that Cybertronics are against the Mann Act 2 and perhaps they might even pay the ARM to assassinate Julia Mann. We'll just have to wait and see whether this is true or not though.
An interesting thing Dwayne says is that the person who paid Jackson White and Geoff to kill John Greenstreet (Crane) works for a Japanese start-up that builds recyclable robots. The thing is, though, is that transmission from the person who paid Jackson White and Geoff didn't really come from the Japanese start-up; it was only routed through it along a long chain of translations that originate ultimately from a keyboard at the Little Islington Public Library in London.
What the hell? I hope you'll join me in thinking that this doesn't make any sense any more. Possibly John wanted to kill himself but wanted it to look as if the Japanese businessman had ordered it, so he sent the contract himself but rerouted it through the Japanese businessman's company on its way to Geoff and Jackson White.
If you go to the Dominoes puzzle on the Salla Family website, you'll see a new image at the bottom which is a link to a page called thief.asp. For most people, if you click on the link you get a message that says "I did not have Crane killed, although he did steal from me."
This message is almost certainly left by Sencha, the same person who leaves all of the puzzles on Laia's website. We already had a suspicion that Sencha was Japanese, by the themes of the other puzzles he left, but this confirms a few facts. This tells us that Crane did indeed steal something from Sencha, who is the Japanese businessman mentioned by Jackson White in his Sophia Responses. Sencha however claims that he did not order Crane killed, which would agree with what we just discovered, that the contract sent to Geoff and Jackson White did not really come from Japan but from London - possibly from John Greenstreet himself.
That's not all though, or else it wouldn't be a puzzle. You only get that message if you use new Internet browsers such as IE5 or NS6. If you use different browsers, you get different messages - the page can do this because it's possible for webpages to detect what browser version you are using.
The messages that we've managed to get you can read here - however I'm not convinced they're in the correct order. Luckily, I don't think it matters that much since it's quite clear what the messages are; they're fragments of a last message written by Crane (John Greenstreet) to Claude Gilbert, just before he died. John knew full well that the two killers were coming and he basically blackmails Claude into releasing releasing Beverly. Not sure what these 'sniffers' are that John refers to.
Speculation: Perhaps Claude ordered the killing of John? It just strikes me that John, in that last email, didn't sound as if he was a man who had ordered his own killing. In fact, it almost reads as if he knew that Claude ordered the two killers. Not sure how Claude pulled it off though, routing that message all over the place. Also, it just occurred to me that whoever killed John must have known about him stealing something off Sencha, so they must have some pretty good hacking skills.
The 'knock knock' question has changed to "A little more than kin," and yes, there are two answers with and with the period. You can answer "and less than kind" (without a period) with "and less than kind." (with a period).
If you answer with the period, you go to the good old sleep.asp page which has again been updated beginning with a poem, and a few words from Martin which show how much he misses David.
If you answer witout the period, you go to 6.25.2142.asp, where Martin and Brutus discuss the upcoming Mann Act 2 referendum - it looks as if the Mann Act 2 was passed by the Senate and now the referendum will go ahead. Martin expresses misgivings about the referendum which are well justified. By giving AIs the vote, whether you agree with it or not, then automatically whatever the AIs wish can legally occur, and there's absolutely no telling what they might want to do.
[I really liked the picture of the dog with a bag on its head. Absolutely perfect]
The images in this diary entry are again a puzzle and are numbered such things as U-7.jpg and E-3.jpg. If you put them in order, you get:
This stands out as some kind of login password, and it stands to reason that it has something to do with DonuTech and Evan Chan. If you go to DonuTech and click on the Investor Relations link, then a new window pops up which allows you to type in a 16 digit shareholder access code. If you type in the code above, which is probably Evan's, then you get access to the Investor Relations page.
It seems that DonuTech is doing very well for itself off the proceeds of a merger between WaterWorks Corporation of Kyoto and Green Microtech to form the new Waterworks Group in Japan. This is more interesting than it sounds, because of the fishiness of all of this. Let's consider all the information.
Evan Chan was working on the Waterworks-Microtech merger when he died. Afterwards, the merger was fast-tracked. Now, the person who heads up the new Waterworks Group company is Mel Green - brother of Audrey Green, the person who performed the coroner's report on Evan. Finally, Shantana Berwondi was a former Director at Waterworks, and now she works at Cybertronics.
The implication here is that Evan found out something that would have derailed the merger, and so DonuTech/Waterworks decided to have him killed.
Clinique de Lille has a new link on its front page pointing towards Watchtower Security. They do what their name suggests - provide security solutions mainly for computer systems. They're a very large company. Interestingly, a member of their Senior Management Team is Mara 'Farley' Penjanga; the very same person is mentioned back on the Chan Family news page. Is there a possible connection here?
Watchtower also provide the Cyber Coroner used by PACO...
There's also a restricted access page in the website which you can get to if you click on 'Navigation' and then go to 'Private Files'.
The password for this isn't too difficult to find. It's been noticed that the Electric Toyland website has been updated with two new specials. Also, if you click on the 'R' in the ETR logo at the top of the main website, you get taken to this page which briefly flashes up the word 'intrepid' at the bottom and then quickly reloads a new image without it.
So if you go and type in 'intrepid' into the Watchtower Security Private files password section, you can get in. What we see here are the same two people who we've seen watching Martin Swinton and Diane Fletcher also watching Claude Gilbert. It's clear from this page that one of the commentators is an AI, but we knew that from previous reports made by them as well.
They mention that Gilbert is Thierry N'gawa's 'cleaner' - N'gawa is also from Cybertronics and I believe that by 'cleaner' they may mean 'assassin' or at least 'dirty tricks operative'. Anyway, they also say that Beverly's ALS has been cured but Gilbert is still keeping her in cryogenic suspension, no doubt to get her brother, John Greenstreet, to do whatever he wants. They also say that this is 'David related' - there's only one David in the game, and that's Martin Swinton's AI brother.
So this confirms that Claude Gilbert, almost certainly acting for Cybertronics, made a deal with John Greenstreet (aka Crane) to kill Martin's houses to stop him from asking about David (it was really Dwayne asking the questions but Cybertronics didn't know that). 'Dalang' incidentally means 'Puppeteer' (I looked it up on Google).
Anyway, Claude is there for some kind of photo opportunity and these guys from Watchtower have broken into the Clinique de Lille's internal security. They're reviving Beverly to clean the cryogenic equipment she's in, and then Claude has the astonishingly bright idea to go and climb in the cryotube for a laugh and some amusing photos. At that point, Beverly's monkey supertoy [known as 'Sonic Death Monkey' to the Cloudmakers] goes and activates the cryotube which undergoes a malfunction (sabotage, really) and to cut a long story short, Claude is killed during the freezing process.
So the question is, how did this happen? It seems like Beverly didn't have anything to do with it, so it was just the supertoy. The watchers say that the supertoy has datasphere access, so really it could be anyone proficient at hacking on the datasphere. However, there's also motive and I think that limits it all to friends or at least acquiantances of John Greenstreet - who is already dead. Maybe John's AI or those 'sniffers' are still around, or maybe John went and uploaded himself to the datasphere, or maybe he went and pre-programmed the monkey supertoy to do this and pre-programmed the cryotube to malfunction. I'm not sure.
Whatever it is, you can be sure that Claude won't be able to release Beverly now, considering that he's dead.
On this same update day, people started getting calls with this message from a slowed-down voice:
This seems like the traditional pro-AI militant scare calls, and I'd bet a large sum of money that the people called were those who, a long time ago, put their phone numbers down on the ARM website. From the tones made by the phone, the number being dialed by the person in the call was discovered to be 1-212-465-3157.
If you call that number then you hear this message:
This appears to be a call from a high ranking ARM member to Oliver Wicks, ARM's in-house hacker. I was scratching my head a bit at this because I thought that Oliver was dead, but then I went back to the original BWU news story about him which said that he was merely rendered catatonic by Loki, not dead. Oliver must have recovered recently and as a result of his bad experience with Loki, an AI, he joined ARM. Explains a lot of things. Thank you for bearing with my slow-wittedness in realising this, folks.
Anyway, it appears that Oliver was the person who tracked down the Red King and found out when he'd be meeting Laia so that the ARM could kidnap him. Makes sense. Also means that ARM know about Laia...
Two new news stories at AIT today, both about the Mann Act 2. Senator Julia Mann was shot, but not killed since the police, acting on a tip-off told the Senator to wear body-armour which protected her life. The assassin was captured (probably some dumb ARM hick) and we can be certain that this tip-off was precipitated by Jim Wheeler's son telling Brutus about the assassination in advance. Brutus either contacted the police directly or told his pro-AI buddies.
As it happens, it didn't really matter anyway since the Mann Act 2 passed by a relatively comfortable majority and the referendum will be held on 20th July 2142, not too long from now in the game world.
'Mother' has left a new email for us at her usual place on Evan Chan's personal DonuTech pages (you'd think that DonuTech would have erased them by now, since he's been dead for several months). The email reads:
Claude being Claude Gilbert of Cybertronics, of course. If you go to the Cybertronics website, check the Employee Services page and click on C. Gilbert in the Management Hierarchy thingy, then you get taken to this page which asks you for his room number. If you've seen the film, which some people had by this point, then in the credits you might have seen Claude's room number, which is 93056. Input that number, and you are directed to a page with this message:
This appears to be a continuation of the Allen Hobby responses from Sophia's temple, and it talks about his work developing David. Nothing of substance that relates to the game itself so I suspect it's something of an Easter-egg for movie goers, or at least people who read the Guide and find out the room number without having to watch the movie credits.
Metropolitan Living Homes has a couple of updates. First off, their breaking news page has a detailed analysis of the Martin Swinton home murders. What Crane (John Greenstreet) did was to kill the houses in the same way as ALS affects humans, by gradually cutting off the house AI's from the home machinery, effectively incapacitating them. The AIs couldn't survive without their 'body' and so died. It seems that John employed a sense of black humour while killing Martin's homes.
Also on the front page, MLH announces that the results of the Debutante Ball will be released in late July and that entries will continue to be accepted up until July 9th. Go on judges, you know you want to vote for Teichoic Orbital...
[All subsequent updates occurred on or after July 3rd]
I know I normally start new updates with Laia's email but I want to do this chronologically (yes, it matters) so I'll start with her new Meditations. It's a long description of what exactly happened with Mike Royal and Dwayne during the kidnapping and rescue, partly told from Mike's perspective. Mike managed to get out of it fine, and only one of the thugs was killed, I think. Anyway, you can be sure that all the bad guys will be put to rights by Dwayne's mother. Dwayne, of course, is in a terrible condition, almost dead, but he'll probably get some good medical treatment and will be up to scratch soon enough - seems like it was only bones broken, no serious internal damage to the organs.
That's the good news. The bad news is that SPCB raided the homes of all of Red King's BIOS accomplices and shut them down, although Geri Khan made it out. The really good news is that Mike Royal is now living a charmed life in a decent new job. Proves that good guys finish first (or something like that).
Sure as eggs is eggs and every odd-number Star Trek movie is crap, Martin's updated his diary and password today. This time the 'knock knock' question is "Be thou as pure as ice, as chaste as snow" and the answer is "thou shalt not escape calumny". If you put in a period at the end, it doesn't work, so it looks like that nonsense has come to a fitting end.
It's an interesting entry this week. Martin and Brutus are both happy that Claude is finally dead, and now thanks to Crane, Martin is Beverly's legal guardian and has also consequently inherited everything that Claude owned. Crane managed to do this without Martin's consent by faking Martin's voice patterns - he got them in the first place by infecting Brutus to some extent with his changeling virus, which disturbs Brutus somewhat.
Brutus also tells Martin that he received a message from Georg, a known member of BIOS, but to Martin's surprise he won't say what it was about. Anyway, it turns out that Beverly doesn't want to be revived - instead she wants to be frozen and hooked up to the datasphere permanently; to her, it's the only way she can compete and live with the AIs. Martin eventually agrees to do this.
As usual, Brutus' images spell out a puzzle, but it's not much of one this week. If you put all the image names in order, you get the words "Ein Erwarhaft Evolutionaren Intelligenz" or in English, "One truly evolutionary intelligence."
Being in German and about Brutus, you'd think that the phrase might have something to do with Georg's letter, and that it might be on Beate's website. It is. If you go to the freidenker page there, and scroll down to the paragraph headed 'Evolutionäre Designintelligenz Georg', then you'll find that the last four words in that paragraph are identical to the ones spelt out by the images, namely 'einer wahrhaft evolutionären Intelligenz.' They are also a link to the letter sent by Georg.
It isn't strictly a letter by Georg, but a letter from someone probably in BIOS forwarded on by Georg to Brutus. It describes a peaceful and so-called humane way in which the human race will be phased out. Some might agree that it is humane, but I think it's pretty ridiculous. Come on, do you really think no-one will notice that the birth lottery winners are declining? If I were the AI's, I'd just bugger off across the galaxy and leave Earth as a festering pit for the humans alone. But what the hell, if the AIs think they can pull it off, they probably can.
Coming back to Martin's diary, the letter from Claude's lawyers has an Easter egg in it. If you go to the page and perform a 'Print Preview' on it from your browser, you see an alternative message from John Greenstreet that isn't even in the letter webpage source code. The reason this works is because in the letter webpage source code there is a line that redirects browsers to an alternative page if you are going to print it out. The alternative page has the message.
So it seems that John is still around, somehow. It can't possibly be a pre-recorded message since Claude was killed after John. Therefore, either John uploaded himself into the datasphere or he has some kind of AI simulcrum walking around. Could explain a few of the worries that we had regarding how Claude was killed - John probably did it through the datasphere. Also, this means that he may well have ordered his own killing since he would have been reasonably certain he could live on, at least in the datasphere.
But why would he have done that? He didn't seem like he was under any immediate threat from Claude or Sencha and he was probably good enough to kill Claude without any trace while he was still alive (I can't be certain of that, mind you). It's a bit confusing. But it's all done now, and we finally have some kind of conclusion to the house killings.
Remarkably, despite his life-threatening injuries and having had every single finger snapped, Dwayne has managed to drag himself over to a keyboard while in hospital and hack the Most Wanted page at SPCB to do his weekly update. I won't even bother pointing out how ridiculous this is, but what the hell, the Puppetmasters can do what they like. Maybe he has a direct neural interface or something, I don't know (although how he'd use that with a hairline skull fracture and bleeding in the brain is another thing entirely).
The hack follows:
So Jane must have been one of the original collaborators who worked with Allen Hobby on the first AIs alongside Katya and Jeanine. I wonder what happened to the new Davids though...
Anyway. I suppose it's interesting to think of how Jane Sutter could have been interviewing Monica Swinton when she's an AI, but anything's possible these days and no-one said that it had to have happened in real life (even though we were led to believe so). Maybe the interview occurred while Jane was alive?
So. Current speculation is that Jane Sutter is actually Mother - there are some pretty obvious clues towards this, the most prominent being the recurring mother-related links to her interview with Monica, and that Jane is actually an AI. And of course we'd all agree that she's one bit short of a byte from the looks of her emails, so I'd agree that Jane is Mother. Not that that really tells us much, but what the hell.
Lots of news about the upcoming referendum. 7to1 has updated with text on its front page telling people to vote No and a link to an article about why you should do this. I didn't have the heart to read it properly, but from my brief skimming it looks like the same old sentimentalist nonsense.
AIT has a survey on robots' feelings about mankind. Amusingly, the AIs were completely ambivalent and undecided about whether they thought mankind was beneficial to the Earth, which I imagine would be both reassuring and worrying to the humans.
No, not about Buffy, but about a storm named Xander. Three of the four new BWU news stories are related to this new story. There's an introduction to exactly what the thermo-plankton web (TP-web) is and how it works; a bit like neurones in a brain (the operative word being 'bit'), the consitutent plankton cells communicate with each other and are governed by an AI called Thor. They conduct climate control primarily by varying their reflectivity to the sun (their albedo). I won't comment on the scientific plausibility of the TP-web (okay, I will - it's implausible) but at least it's not too contradictory or unbelievable.
Two salient points: The TP-web controls the entire world's climate and it can improve it or destroy it. Also, it is completely controlled by an AI.
Anyway, the second story tells us that something peculiar is happening with the TP-web - all sorts of small problems, and that may have caused the appearance of the new Xander storm that is devastating India. Jeanine Salla is also having discussions with the Mysore Avatar (that means a representation of the Thor AI responsible for the Mysore area in Indias) called Vayu.
The last story talks about the extent of the damage in India and serves as a reminder of how powerful and how much destruction the TP-web can produce.
The fourth story, which isn't about Xander, is just about the anniversary of the BWU tiger.
Rogue Retrieval has updated their website a little - if you go to the agents page and click on Diane Fletcher's name, when her profile pops up, all of the text is a link. Click on that and you're told:
with the last line being a link to a new website for fans of the Circuit (robot gladiators) called Badmetal. It's, alas, constructed entirely out of Flash, and is absolutely horrible to navigate on a modem connect like mine because you'll click on a link and nothing will happen until a minute later when a text box appears. Sigh. See, this is why Flash websites are almost universally crap.
The Claude Gilbert room number puzzle has been updated so that it has a new entry:
Another diary entry from Allen Hobby, about David. Again, this relates to the movie, not the game so it's more of an extended Easter egg. Mind you, it does show exactly how much Allen is affected by what happened 8 years ago which was probably the death of his son, Samuel.
Save the best till last, is what they say, and that's what I've done with this week's update. We received this email from Laia:
What's that all about, eh? Well, you can pretty much guess what it is by the title of this section, but let me lead you through it. If you go to the case files section of Jeanine's pages on BWU then you'll see a new entry which is a transcript of Jeanine's conversation with Vayu (a climate control AI) that was mentioned earlier in a BWU news article.
What seemed to have happened was that just as the storm occurred, Vayu had some kind of 'whiteness' episode where it blanked out or at least was overwhelmed by random static noise. Vayu is trying to understand the white noise but it can't remember it clearly. It's practically obsessed with the noise which is definitely an artificial phenomenon caused by a third party - probably created to incapicitate Vayu and stop it from intervening in the storm's progress.
Anyway, just as Jeanine feels like she's making progress after hearing the word cicadas (more of that later), someone knocks at the door, and then the transcript ends.
At this point, considering that Laia said 'PACO just called' and something suspicious happened just as Jeanine was getting close to something big, it's probably a good idea to check if Jeanine is in PACO's database. She is.
Her coroner's report was made available for public viewing by Spinoza, AIT's psychiatric AI. To summarise the report, she died at about 9pm on the 2nd of July due to a severe allergic reaction to a shellfish she ate, causing anaphylactic shock. If this seems suspicious to you, then you're not alone. Who was the person knocking at the door?
There are more clues available about Jeanine's death. If you go to the Another Stone puzzle on the Salla website (accessible originally by clicking on the Chinese character in the steam on the Chemistry puzzle), you'll see at the bottom is a new linked called 8, which points to a page showing letters reflected off a computer screen called 1.htm. On that image is an image map shaped as a 'J'. Click on on the image map and you are taken to a new page (2.htm) which has an image map shaped as an 'A'.
This keeps on going for seven images of Jeanine, up to 7.htm. The last image links back to the first image at 1.htm.
If you go and work out the shapes of the images maps on all of the images, they spell out 'JANE DOE'. This is a proper Clue, and it suggests that we should look for Jeanine under the name of 'Jane Doe'. So we'll do that at PACO and type in 'Jane Doe'. Wouldn't you know, it works. It doesn't pop up a 'This was paid by:' window though, unusually.
The Jane Doe coroner's report isn't really a report - it's just a series of photos of Jeanine which show that she most definitely wasn't killed by a shellfish. The photos show bruising around her neck indicative of strangulation, as well as blood at her eyes and nose. She was murdered.
Why? Well, if we assume that the knocking on the door in the Vayu transcript was by her murderer then it was probably because she was getting too close to the truth of what was happening with the Thor AI and the TP-web - this would of course mean that someone was monitoring their conversation, but as the Red King has shown, it's easy to break through encryption.
Exactly what jogged Jeanine's memory was Vayu's mention of cicadas. Why is this important? Because in Evan's DonuTech personal page, he also talks about cicadas. I quote:
"Vid w/J re: TP firing. Neural wave? Did I already ask her about cicadas?"
So the cicadas have something to do with the TP-web and a neural wave. In case you didn't know, cicadas are insects that are renowned for their speciality and effectiveness at making noise. According the BWU, the plankton in the TP-web communicate via high-frequency sound. Could the cicadas be interfering with the TP-web communication and perhaps causing a 'neural wave'?
And indeed, could they be the source of the white noise heard by Vayu? Cicadas certainly do create something that sounds like white noise.
Speculation: Evan was getting close to finding something potentially damaging to the Green Microtech/Waterworks merger - he found that the cicadas were interfering with the TP-web and they were being controlled by someone - perhaps Waterworks or Green Microtech, or Cybertronics, I don't know. Before he could make this known, he was killed. Now that Jeanine got on the track, she was also killed. Conclusion: These cicadas have some friends in high places.
[All of the following occurred or on after July 6th]
Personal note: It's been a long, long time since I last updated the Guide and right now it's August 30th. Why did I leave updating the Guide for so long? Well, it was a combination of holiday, tiredness and illness. But here I am again, for one final slog to get it all done. As it's been a while since I last thought about the game, my memory is pretty tenuous and you'll have to forgive me for perhaps repeating or making some minor contradictions to speculations I've made in the past. With that said... let's go.
On Friday, July 6th, Teddy was evidently displeased with being out of the game's focus for so long and called various game players with this recorded sound file. It's nothing special, it's just the same sound that you hear when he kicks you out of Eliza's Tearoom. Or is it...?
If only it were that simple. If you play the sound file backwards, you can hear Teddy saying 'Do it again.' This can only mean one thing - go back to the accursed Eliza's Tearoom and go through the whole rigmarole all over again. The things we do.
As it happens, you don't really need to do much at all. You get the same message that sends you away but there's also a glowing grey button that if pressed, gives the following message:
Before you start rejoicing that Eliza isn't doing well at all (after all the crap that she's put us through, it's more than she deserves), you'll notice that if you click the grey button again, you are asked by Teddy, "I saw an odd version of something odd. What do you suppose it is?" and then he kicks you out to a various set of seemingly random pages.
In addition to this peculiar puzzle, a number of pages within the game have been changed to have an .asp extension instead of .htm or .html. So what, you might ask. Well, .asp pages can perform special operations and basically 'do neat stuff'. Now, the pages that have been changed to have an .asp extension are listed below:
If you go to any of these pages, you get redirected to http://www.elizas-tearoom.net/ascension.asp? host= and then immediately jump back to the regular page with a ?foo= added to the end of the URL. It is suspected that the purpose of all of this is that these new .asp pages will be activated once the Eliza puzzle is solved and a cookie is deposited on your computer (where the cookie says 'This guy has solved the Eliza puzzle - show him/her the good stuff!')
But we don't know yet. Or rather, you don't know yet - I do, because I've looked ahead in the game and it's already finished. The joys of being the author of the Guide, eh? But we'll deal with all of this when the time is right.
[All of the following occurred on or after July 10th]
You're waiting for an email from, Laia, right? Since Laia is normally the one who kicks off the week's updates? Not this time. Here's what we got:
Peculiar, hmm? You wonder why the Red King can't say anything straight out - or, indeed, why anyone in this whole damn game can't simply tell us anything without putting a puzzle in it. But of course that is half (if not more) of the fun. This, however, is quite a simple puzzle. The 'y=' parts are equations for curves and lines, and the parts in  delinate the ranges of x in which the curves should be drawn. Easy as pie (pun intended).
If you plot all the curves correctly, you'll get something that looks like this. As you can see, it spells out 'AFTER'. In the standard infuriating psuedo-logic employed by Red King, this means that he's probably thrown something onto the SPCB site (who apparently still haven't noticed the hacker creeping around their system) and that with a bit of guesswork, it's at http://www.spcb.org/after. And it is.
It's in standard hex code and you can read a translation here.
It's basically an account from the Red King of what went on during the interrogation/beating and the repercussions that followed. It seems that the SPCB will now be moving on all the BIOS members on the basis of what Anderson (one of the Red King's interrogators) let slip. What is interesting is how nervous the SPCB are about the Mann Act II - if it passes, then they won't move on the BIOS. Not surprising, since they won't exactly be the most popular organisation in town, but still. It shows how seriously they're taking it.
Anyway, it's nice to see that the Red King is getting his spirits back up again by messing around with the ARM people's computer records.
There were a lot of updates this week, and many of them won't make much sense without saying out the whole Teddy Strangeness puzzle (as I call it) was solved. The solution is 'grin without a copycat'. No, it doesn't make much sense - yet. What follows is Aaron Mandel's explanation of how this puzzle was beaten:
Thanks to Aaron Mandel for this explanation on how to arrive at the answer.
As I correctly speculated earlier, solving this puzzle puts a cookie onto your computer that states, 'This guy has solved the puzzle'. When you visit the .asp pages now, you can hear Eliza taunting people in nursery rhyme, and a collated list of all of the rhymes and the websites is here. Wouldn't you know, there's even a rhyme on Eliza's own website which you can hear after you've watched the Flash animation of her death. The rhyme goes, "A girl without a laugh, that's one thing ... but a laugh without a girl? Ah-ha ha ha! Ah-ha ha ha! Ah-ha ha ha! Ah-ha ha ha!" and fades out.
[As if we required any more confirmation that Eliza is not merely insane but has gone straight through insanity into the strange happy-fun land that exists in insanity's shadows]
Once the rhyme has finished, you see just a blank page with a submit box. By the way, I'm assuming that Eliza is pretty dead by now, and that this is a puzzle. It's not a difficult puzzle, and all you have to do is to type one of the seven special words that Eliza gave us previously into the submit box to get another word out in return. A list of the words is provided below:
So if you type in 'visor' you get 'stopwatch' out, and so on. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, 'Seven words, eh? Maybe that has something to do with the good old seven-word activation code for robots that I saw in the movie and also the movie trailer, in case you were worrying that Adrian has just spoiled the movie for me, eh? Perhaps I'm weird for speaking to myself, eh? Perhaps I'm a Canadian, eh?'
I suppose we'll have to have a look at all of this nonsense then. Remember that if you want to hear these rhymes, you'll have to have solved all of the Eliza puzzles and the latest Teddy Strangeness stuff to get the cookie that will open these up.
http://catskillseaviewclinic.org/______.asp: Monica Monica fly from your home! Your brain is on fire and your changeling is gone. Monica, Monica now you are two. To take care of David, I made one of you.
[This is from Monica's patient file on Catskills Seaview. This is definitely very interesting - it suggests that Eliza made another Monica to take care of David. But David is gone now - we know that from the movie. Unless, that is, they are talking about other Davids, like David II, II and IV. Just like the Davids Jane Sutter was making... Aha! Eliza is dying - Jane Sutter is dying. Eliza is involved with David and made Monica to care for him or at least the other Davids - Jane Sutter was involved with the same thing. Ergo, Jane Sutter is Eliza. Does this mean that Monica is Mother? Mother to David? Could be.]
http://www.bangaloreworldu-in.co.nz/salla/publications.asp: A diller, a dollar, a hundred-year scholar. How did you live so long? You've been the death of two of your boys. Don't you think that's wrong?
[I believe this might be referring to the death or at least incapacitation of Xander and Thor, the BWU-made climate control AIs, and perhaps the death of Jeanine, the 'hundred-year scholar'. Or is it someone else?..]
http://www.coronersweb.org/js3219.asp: Oh where are you going with Hobby's AI? Cruel body saved (?) shattered for a time, you copied that program and hid it somewhere! The A R M would call that a crime!
[This was Jeanine Salla's autopsy report at PACO. Hobby's AI? What? Have I missed something here? When did Jeanine copy Hobby's AI? Clearly we'll be hearing more about this later.]
http://www.cybertronics-corp.net/candy.asp: Who killed Allen Hobby? I, said himself. I hung him from his belt! I killed Allen Hobby!
[This was from the Room Number puzzle, I think. Hobby dead? More on that later, I feel.]
http://www.denkendeneshaus-de.dk/message.asp: Georgy-Porgy, faithless AI. Kissed a girl and said "Goodbye." When GK came out to play, Georgy-porgy ran away!
[This one is easy, thankfully. We already know that Georg, Beate Bosch's erstwhile AI lover, has run off to join BIOS or some random pro-AI group.]
http://www.donu-tech.com/employees/e~chan/jeanine.asp: Seas that are hot, seas that are cold, see how many folks get SHOT before the story's told!
[This is from Evan's DonuTech page. Doesn't make much sense - I mean, no more sense than usual.]
http://www.inourimage.org/katyareply.asp: I'm a little labtech, short and stout. My partner stayed in, but I got out. The humans finally got to her with guns and clubs and knives, because they think that we're to blame for ruining all their lives.
[This is Katya Rukowski's editorial on the Mann Act II vote at the Coalition for Robot Freedom page. Katya has already told us about her murdered benchmate in an interview of her that's in the Sophia's Temple responses for her for 'guilt'.]
http://www.ita-es.ro/Today_survey.asp: Geri? Geeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiii. Liar, liar pants on fire!!
[This is the page about the survey of robot's feelings on the Mann Act II vote.]
http://www.rogueretrieval.com/fletcher.asp: Basta's lover is fair of face; Martin's valet is full of grace; Kataka's house is full of woe; Whitman's friend has far to go; Monica's child is loving and giving; Beate's mate works hard for his living; but the mech that was born to track and survey must hunt their kind down to destroy and betray.
[This is on the page at Rogue Retrieval about Diane Fletcher. It's true, what will become of Diane if the Mann Act II passes? Will she be executed as a collaborator?]
There's all sorts of small bits and pieces of news around the various website which I'll relate below.
Evan's DonuTech page reveals that he received a new email on July 10th from Mother:
As usual, it makes perfect sense. Incidentally, it sounds a bit like a line from the actual AI movie although I don't really want - or have - to elaborate on that.
Some new news stories at AIT:
The Sad Passing of AIT Alumnus Jeanine Salla: An article about the life of Jeanine Salla. Nothing particularly notable although soon enough the day will come when we too will be able to say the words, '[she died] at the young age of 77...'
Circuit Mystery Part 1: Troubles at the Cathedrium: It appears that the peculiar goings on with the TP-web and all of that white noise that affected Vayu, a climate control AI, is spreading to the Gladiator robots.
Circuit Mystery Part 2: S2 on Trident and the TP-Web: S2, the leader of the pro-AI militant group A,R,I is of the opinion that some human organisation is out to destroy all AI life on the planet. She makes a good case, but it doesn't sound right to me - after all, what has the TP-Web and the white noise got to do with it all? And where would organisations like ARM and the Vatican get the expertise to kill the most sophisticated AIs in the world?
SPCB has a new news story about the Deputy Director, Sonia Reiser, being replaced. Is Sonia Reiser the mother of the Red King (Dwayne)? It'd make sense if she was.
PACO has a story about how Dr. Djombe Ojimbwa, the coroner who wrote the false report on Jeanine Salla's autopsy, has recently come into a small fortune. It's believed by the Cloudmakers that this is circumstancial evidence that he was paid off by as yet known agents to falsify the report that she died from eating a bad shellfish (as opposed to being beaten to death, as we know she was).
More news from ARM about the doings of Oliver Wicks, ARM's in-house hacker. Oliver has been conducting petty murders of AIs, but more interestingly has found out that Allen Hobby's AI, MUSE, is still around. Is this the same AI that Eliza (Jane Sutter) claims that Jeanine Salla copied and stole? And what has MUSE got to do with all of this? And what's this Watchtower crash investigation? We'll have to check that out later.
Cybertronics has a story about the death of Allen Hobby, aged 99 (so it was definitely Allen Hobby who was the 'hundred-year scholar that Eliza was babbling on about). Nothing amazing there.
Martin Swinton has received a new voicemail [dial (212) 613-1680 then press 4862] which is dated June 20th:
Interesting stuff. Is this message from the people who are watching Martin and Diane - i.e. the guys at Watchtower Security? By the way, Salaam means 'Goodbye'. Or 'Peace'. Or both, I forget which.
Just because we didn't get an email from Laia doesn't mean we get to hear from our favourite girl this week. She's written a new Meditations piece which reveals a great deal of information and has links to yet more.
Before dealing with the links that are within her Meditations, let's look at the content first. Laia's reconfirmed that she is indeed going offline. Providing that Jeanine wasn't joking when she was talking to Laia (and I don't think she was), there are Passers - AIs that look just like humans - and they operate seemingly just like David, Monica's AI son. There are also Passers in high places such as Congress; since these Passers would have to have been made by humans, they must have been placed in those high places. Therefore, we can assume that whoever is making the Passers (if in fact there is only one group doing it) is quite powerful.
I wonder if Laia's decision to go offline isn't just some romantic ideal of how life is somehow better without the Datasphere or technology... I guess they still have the myth of the noble savage centuries into the future.
The first link on the page, to an email about Curious observation about terminated JSalla node is apparently from some kind of computer administrator from AIT. It appears that Jeanine had some mystery email account to which thousands of messages were being sent every hour, from all sorts of AIs and notably Katya Rukowski (the pro-AI activist). It's believed that this group of AIs and pro-AI humans are the in-game equivalent of the Cloudmakers - people who are trying to work out the conspiracy that started with Evan Chan and is now spreading across the world, affecting AIs and the weather.
The second link from Nancy Chan, marked Laia-URGENT!!!! has information about some kind of plant. It seems like a very strange email to send, and bids us visit her place - or homepage, in our case. It's a puzzle. If you go to Nancy's page at the Chan Family website, you'll see that in the first picture Nancy is posed with a purple flower in the background - just like the colour of the flowers described in her email to Laia. If you click on the purple flower in the picture, then a new window pops up with a prompt.
Clearly it's some kind of password. After a bit of logical deduction, the answer was found to be 'jimsonweed' - another name for the flower than Nancy told Laia about. You then get taken to a page which is a letter from Nancy to Laia. It relates Nancy's suspicions over Evan's death and the goings on in the Indian Ocean. Throughout the letter is a conversation between Nancy and some other individual who turns out to be Cloudmaker, her boat. Anyway, more about that later.
So Nancy was contacted by Svetlana Cellini who seemed to be quite distressed and talking about knives and strings in a cryptic manner; there's a link to a message from Svetlana which we'll consider later. On the morning of the message, Nancy 'turns on' the smallest gnome in her garden (evidently some kind of AI robot) and then goes inside to answer a phone call about Svetlana killing herself. When she goes out, she finds out that her gnome managed to kill an assassin.
She then flies off to stay with some of Cloudmaker's friends in Melbourne. The question I have here is: where the hell is Cloudmaker, and what does he have to do with all of this? Why does he have friends in Melbourne? Perhaps Cloudmaker is far more important than we first imagined.
Onto the message from Svetlana. Svetlana, you'll remember, works at DonuTech and we first properly encountered her in Jeanine's Step-Self report about Svetlana's AI clone that was made for her husband, Alexsi Komarov (or AK as he is referred to in most places). Komarov, incidentally, is the Vice President and General Counsel of Belladerma so he could well be a significant character in whatever is going on.
Anyway, Svetlana is a bit unbalanced but she still manages to relate to us a puzzle. But this is no normal puzzle. This puzzle, unlike any other puzzle within the game, is something that I can actually understand! It's about biology, and more specifically about the interaction of proteins with bacterial DNA and how it affects that bacteria. Let me tell you, I was overjoyed when I first saw this puzzle and was immediately on the phone to one of my medic friends to discuss what it was all about. Wonderful stuff.
An explanation of the puzzle (written by me!):
But of course this is a puzzle, which means there must be a solution or at least somewhere where we have to go or discover. That somewhere is a little present in a 'treasure room' which according to Svetlana, Komarov wouldn't want us to see. This means that Komarov is a Bad Guy who doesn't appear to have any qualms about killing Svetlana. The only problem is, we don't know where this treasure room is supposed to be. On the bright side, at least we know that to get into the treasure room will require some understand of all of this DNA puzzle - which is what we have!
In case you think that Komarov killed Svetlana, it's clear at the end of this message that Svetlana definitely committed suicide - however, as I said earlier this doesn't preclude the fact that Komarov may well have been willing to kill Svetlana to keep her quiet.
A bit of digression here: At first we thought (correctly, as it happens) that Svetlana's 'treasure room' was her DonuTech personal page, just like Evan's. To get into her personal page, we'd need her four figure employee ID and her password. It was thought that her ID would be 1004 (three less than Evan's, because she's three behind Evan in the employee list) and so we tried 1004 with every possible combination of password that was suggested from the DNA puzzle.
At this point, I had to go off to the local pub quiz and was quite irritated that I still hadn't been able to figure out what the correct password was - in fact, I was convinced that as soon as I got back from the pub I'd find that someone had figured out the solution. They didn't. It took a bit longer than that - three days and another clue, actually. And since it took three days, I can't talk about it now because I'm supposed to be writing this Guide in chronological 'game-time' order. Patience, my dear readers...
The final link on Laia's Meditations is an email from Katya Rukowski that consists solely of a sequence of numbers. I'm told that, 'in the code, the '7' in the title represents one. Each number in the message corresponds to the nth word in the article Katya wrote on InOurImage.'
I have no problems understanding that each number in the message corresponds to a word in her (Katya's) article - we've seen a puzzle like this before, but I don't know what is supposed to be meant by the 7 in the title representing 1. Anyway, it doesn't really matter - here is the transcript of the puzzle solution:
'He' is none other than Allen Hobby, the man who created the first 'sentient child' - David. It makes sense that the 'human woman' was Jane Sutter, the person who we know made many more additional Davids - and it's very possible that the special evolving machine that Allen conceived was his AI MUSE that we've heard about. I think the 'engineer' also refers to Jane Sutter, and she ran away by hiding into the Datasphere and becoming Eliza.
The Evolving Intelligence is also possibly MUSE. Remember that MUSE was stolen and copied by Jeanine Salla (according to Eliza/Jane Sutter). 'They' desire the evolving intelligence and for some reason Katya believes that Laia is its friend's daughters daughter. Well, that means that the friend is a friend of Jeanine (Laia's grandmother) and I think the only plausible friend of Jeanine would be Nancy. Does this mean that Nancy has MUSE? Could Cloudmaker be MUSE? Who knows? This message from Katya is far from specific and this is all only speculation.
[All subsequent events occurred on or after July 13th]
From her new Meditations, It looks like Laia couldn't handle life offline - not a surprise, as she's lived entwined with the Datasphere for all of her life. Laia realised that she shouldn't expect that she could simply walk off into the sunset and forget about her grandmother. She couldn't become someone she wasn't, but by all accounts her hiking trip was cathartic and allowed her to grieve.
Wow, what a sympathetic guy I am.
When Laia talks about the messages of sympathy that she received about Jeanine's death, she is most likely referring to the 300+ messages that the Cloudmakers created in a database for her. I have to admit that even I, a 19 year-old hard-bitten cynic, finds these gestures from the Cloudmakers touching, and it's a great tribute to the creators of the game and the authors of the story that they have affect people so much that they will write notes of sympathy to a fictional character.
Like I promised, we'd get around to this. First, the clue that helped us along - on the 13th of July, we found this message in Evan's DonuTech Personal Page:
This was nothing but a huge clue for us in finding Svetlana's employee ID. Since this email says that previously, DonuTech employees were allowed to choose their own 4-digit IDs and it does not say that current IDs have been altered to reflect that fact, we can be fairly certain that Svetlana's ID was - and still is - a number of her choosing.
Generally when people choose ID numbers or PIN numbers, they use something obvious, like their birthday, or an anniversary, or something related to one of their interests. In Svetlana's case, we don't know much about her personal details but we do know about her one overriding interest - her step-self AI.
If you go to the Belladerma website and have a look at their catalogue of robots, you'll see that the 'Svetlana' robot has a serial number of 00742. Remove the first 0 and you have Svetlana's employee ID: 0742. Now that we have her real ID, we can have a proper shot at guessing her password, which is 'lysogeny', a key word involved in the explanation of the whole DNA puzzle that she set for us.
So. Go to the DonuTech website and then enter '0742' and 'lysogeny' and then we get to her Svetlana's personal page. There are four images on the page that each hold information. The four images have text that is in mixed case and wildly different presentations. Looking at various things (upper case only, lower case only, bolded letters only) reveals messages hidden within the plain text of these notes. Thanks to Paula for this transcript:
In the first top left message, I believe that 'she' is Svetlana's step-self AI, and it refers to Komarov taking out another AI to dinner, perhaps. In the top right message, we discover that Komarov and his Dalang friends have millions of dollars worth of shares in Waterworks (the company involved in the Waterworks-Green Microtech merger overseen by DonuTech). Could these Dalangs - these puppetmasters - be the people responsible for creating the Passers? It would make sense, what with Komarov being VP of Belladerma.
The bottom left message tells us that Komarov chose DonuTech for the due diligence work for the Waterworks-Green Microtech merger (as we know) but it appears that Svetlana told Komarov about the work Evan was doing in the Indian Ocean - the work that would have scuppered the merger. Once Komarov found out - "they killed Evan."
However, the bottom right message tells us that one of the Dalangs didn't want to kill Evan - but he did want to know whether 'she' wiped the boat. 'She' is almost certainly Venus, the person who carried out the killing, and the boat is of course Cloudmaker. The fact that this Dalang is interested in this further suggests that Cloudmaker is an important AI - perhaps even MUSE, Allen's old AI?
Remember when we read on the ARM news pages that there was something fishy going on with the Watchtower crash investigation? Well, now we get a chance to check it out. A new page has just appeared at Watchtower Security which is without doubt one of the most obtuse and intriguing puzzles yet.
I personally found this a complete bugger to work out, even with the instructions in front of me. You should refer to the Trail entry on this puzzle and a comprehensive email guide about how to use the interface first, before you read ahead. So what do you do?
Okay, first type in the following commands into the prompt (not the stuff in italics - that's just description):
Next, type in:
until the flight HNW-4123 is highlighted in the bottom left window. Now, in the middle left window (the one with the VCR controls) click the left and right diagonal arrows in the right trio of controls until you have highlighted the highest or lowest 'camera'. Next, click on the button next to the 'play' button - that is, the second button along from the left, the pointy arrow. Once you've clicked on it, it should be depressed and look like a loop.
Finally, press play. The video recording of the crash will now play as a loop. What you have to do now is look for the seventh camera, as shown on this screenshot. Well, I tell a lie - it is damned difficult to find the seventh camera, even if you are looking for it. The way I found it was by highlighting the highest or lowest camera (as we did before) and then repeatedly clicking the 'reverse view' button (fifth button from right, looks like a Christmas tree). This will cause the camera view to alternate between the top and bottom cameras.
You'll find that after a bit of clicking, a new seventh camera will be highlighted as dark grey - it's difficult to see, and if you keep on clicking you'll move off it. But with a bit of practice you'll get it. And it shows a very strange view of a streak of white lines creating a Morse code message. The message spells out 'SLAVE'.
How did we know to look at flight HNW-4123? Because that was the flight taken by Allen Hobby, as mentioned on the Cybertronics page about his death. The fact that there is a seventh camera on the crash analysis of his flight, and that it spells out 'SLAVE' strongly suggests that something strange is going on here. Does it mean that Hobby was killed? Or was it someone else, not Hobby but a 'slave' on that plane? Or something else entirely?
We received a phone call on 13th July from Mother (you can tell her voice from a mile off). The transcript is below, or you can listen to a recording:
Is she supposed to be talking to us? When and how did we help lead them to her cottage? What the hell is going on?
Martin Swinton's diary is updated again, or rather the password required to get in. The question is now, "Then no planet strikes, no fairy takes," and the answer is "nor witch hath power to charm". Instead of going to a normal text diary entry, you are taken to the start of a peculiar slideshow featuring Martin, Diane and Mother. You hear Martin and Diane walking around some secret Cybertronics lab that dates back to the disappearance of Martin's brother, David, and then the screen shatters (not literally, of course).
You can find pieces of the slideshow scattered all over the game websites but to save you the trouble of trawling them all, you can read a complete transcript and list of links. Xoxoc also created a very helpful index page that allows you to access all of the slides in a quick and easy manner.
There's a bit of debate about the order in which the slides go, as you'll read on Xoxoc's page, but the general storyline is quite clear. What happens, in short, is that Martin and Diane have discovered a secret lab at Cybertronics that had something to do with the production of the David AI child robots. While they are exploring, Mother's voice intrudes and we discover that the voice is that of Martin's mother, Monica.
So this confirms our suspicions that Mother must be some insane AI copy of Monica Swinton - and that Jane Sutter created her. No wonder Jane Sutter was so interested in interviewing Monica at Catskills Seaview Clinic all the time; she'd have to know as much about Monica as possible in order to construct a good AI replica.
Diane tells us that Jane Sutter must have created this Monica replica to take care of the new Davids and ensure that they experienced an environment as identical as possible to that which the original David grew up in. At this point, a perfect AI replica of Martin Swinton - a Passer - appears and Diane draws her gun. She charges it, and then Monica deactivates Diane somehow. Martin and his replica grapple, Mother/Monica spouts more nonsense, Martin grabs the gun and then shoots his replica. While he's doing this, he shouting out all of the seven code words that were given to us from Eliza (Jane Sutter). Once he's completed all seven words, Mother is killed. Martin revives Diane, and then they walk off into the sunset...
A lot has happened - Claude Gilbert has been killed by John Greenstreet. We've discovered that the Passers are being made by the Dalangs, of which Aleksi Komarov is a member. The Dalangs have a large amount of money invested in Waterworks and so were very keen to see the Waterworks-Green Microtech merger go ahead. In order for the merger to be approved, they had to get some due diligence done, and they hired DonuTech to do it. Evan was assigned to the merger contract and ended up finding something in the Indian Ocean to do with the TP-Web that would have stopped the merger from going ahead.
Svetlana, a co-worker at DonuTech, told Komarov this by accident and so the Dalangs had Evan killed. It was mentioned that one of the Dalangs disagreed with this decision - I think it might be Sencha. But why?
Well, first, we know that Sencha ordered the killing of Martin's houses, because they thought he was investigating the disappearance of his brother David (in fact it was actually Dwayne doing the investigating, under Martin's name). I think Sencha was a Dalang, and he ordered the killings because he thought that if Martin found out about David, he might also find out about the Dalangs making Passers, which is something they definitely want to keep secret.
We also know that Sencha has been leaving clues all over the place for Laia about Evan's murder. This strongly suggests that he was the one who disagreed with the rest of the Dalangs about killing Evan.
Other big news: Jeanine was killed. When she was called in to investigate the white noise experienced by the climate control AIs and made the connection with the TP-web and the cicadas told to her by Evan, she was assassinated and the coroner was paid handsomely to fake the autopsy report. I would conjecture that the Dalangs are also responsible for this - they probably don't want anyone looking into the stuff that Evan was investigating in case it threatens their holdings. Also, the Dalangs probably have the spare cash to pay off the coroner to do a job like this. Meanwhile, this white noise is killing and incapacitating AIs all over the world.
I don't know if the Dalangs control Watchtower Security, but they're both aware of each other. We know that one of the 'watchers' at Watchtower is an AI, very possibly a Passer. This AI believes that if the Mann Act passes, then he'll be destroyed by the Dalangs - this makes sense, since if the Act passes then the Dalangs will not want anyone to know that they were responsible for making Passer slaves.
Eliza is Jane Sutter. Jane worked on the original David project and after it was shut down she secreted carried on the work to produce more Davids. When the anti-AI militants came for her, she uploaded herself into the datasphere. She carried out many interviews with Monica Swinton in order to create an AI replica of her to take care of the new Davids but it didn't work properly and Monica turned out to be the insane Mother that we all know. Mother hated Martin and lured him and Diane to the secret David lab, in order to kill him. Martin managed to kill his AI replica and also kill Mother by using the code words provided by Eliza before she died.
Something strange occurred with Allen Hobby's death, as we saw with the Watchtower Crash Analysis lab. Finally, Dwayne was kidnapped and beaten by the ARM, but he's recovering well now.
Things are definitely beginning to come together now. We can see that the Dalangs are ultimately responsible for Evan's death, and exactly why they ordered him killed. Now that we know they created the Passers, it explains a great deal of things including Martin's whole involvement in this. And then we have the connected issue of Jane Sutter. It's clear that the endgame is coming very, very soon.
[All subsequent updates took place on or after July 17th]
Nothing really new here - we know that the BIOS terrorists are disappearing ever since Dwayne was kidnapped, then apprehended by SPCB. Interesting about the whole 'Nauticus' thing but it doesn't mean anything to me yet - and neither does the clay.
And on the Guide's weekly roundup of international news, presented by Adrian Hon..., BWU has three new news stories:
Tragic Death, Glorious Life: The Visionary Passes: Another report on Allen Hobby's death. I think the most pertinent pieces of information are that after his son David was killed at the age of 17, Allen began work on the emotionally enabled AIs - culminating in the secret work that created the David AI. Also, his wife died in 2099. I did think it was a bit over the top to have Allen going to university at 14, graduating at 15 and earning his PhD at 17. Sure, people might be smart a hundred years from now but earning your PhD at 17? That's really beginning to stretch the limits of my credulity, especially when I know that many hothoused youngsters who go to university early don't always turn out well.
Alarming Thermoplankton Dead Zones: This is more interesting stuff. The TP-web is dying, in specific areas. Also interesting is that we have finally found out what Waterworks does - it's a leading player in the TP-web market. No wonder the Dalangs were so concerned when Evan discovered irregularities in the TP-web - it would have shown that they weren't doing their job properly. Naturally Waterworks are downplaying the dead zones but all other organisations are extremely worried - with reason, since the TP-web controls the entire world's climate.
Another Mitochondrial DNA Mystery: Cut past the exposition in this article, and we find that the genetically altered plankton that comprises the TP-web is beginning to evolve very quickly. The new evolved strains cannot be controlled by Thor (the world climate control AI) but they are nevertheless absorbing energy from the satellite microwave transmissions that power the web. In other words, the evolved plankton are sucking energy from the TP-web but they aren't contributing anything to it. So what are they doing?
Badmetal.net has released a second issue; I have to admit I haven't exactly read it thoroughly but there is a story about a new Gladmech called Snow Queen who bears a startling resemblance to Venus...
[In case you hadn't figured it out, the Snow Queen is Venus, after she was reconditioned by SPCB]
Martin's diary was updated again this week. When it first came online, the question read, "If music be the love of food" which made me burst out laughing when I first heard it. A short time afterwards, the question was corrected to read "If music be the food of love" and the answer is "play on".
It's quite a short (normal text) entry this week. Brutus has received some mail from Georg - a napkin with some bars of music written on it, and Martin muses on how he had to deliver the mail to Brutus instead of vice versa. At the end of the entry, Martin takes off to go and help out Diane with capturing a Rogue Bot - not that he has to, of course... Is it me, or are Martin and Diane getting awfully close these days?
This musical napkin puzzle has relevance to another site, which we are going to look at...
...now. Laia has mentioned this café before in her Meditations and emails, and through trial and error we guessed the URL to its website, http://www.downandoutcafe.net/ (it isn't linked from any game website). Sadly, this is yet another all-Flash website. Happily, it loads up really quickly, even on my dial-up modem at home.
It's not a very interesting site and bears no revelations. After you've been on the site for a minute or so, a window pops up with a message that recognises us as a friend of Laia's. If you click on the nut in the bottom right hand corner of the window, you're taken to a new page that shows a Bathroom and some white tiles. If you run your pointer over those tiles, musical notes sound. Play the notes in certain combinations and coloured shards appear over the screen.
Counting 1 as the farthest away tile and 6 as the closest, the answer to the puzzle is 2-3-4-4-3-2-5. This was first figured out by trial and error, although strictly the solution should have been derived from the way in which the music on Georg's napkin would have been played on a lute (the music was written in lute tablature). Once you've input these notes, a door opens and you go down a toilet to emerge in an alternate Drowned Lands café for tweakers (humans who've had mecha augmentation), accessible via the exit door.
Bit of a strange website, all things told, and it's worth exploring a bit to have a look at the artwork and visuals, by clicking on the coloured hexagons at the top and bottom of the page. Once you've done that, visit the Menu page (I forget which button it is) and then follow these instructions:
I haven't actually looked at the video since my connection isn't fast enough, but from reading the transcript it seems that this is a video of the Rogue Bot that Diane went off to capture and Martin tagged along for. The transcript explains things pretty well - Diane is disabled while fighting a robot and then some other robots give her emotions, so she can experience remorse and sadness over her actions and the deaths of many other robots.
At Laia's In Memoriam page to Evan, there's a new link on the right hand paragraph of text to a new page that appeared without Laia's knowledge on her website. Clicking on the top image takes you to a new page called Cut of the Void; but before you can get in, there's already a puzzle. If you click on the bottom image at Laia's new page, you're taken to a Go puzzle. If you don't know the rules to this game, you can read them here.
There is a twist to this game - halfway through, you switch colours. Very tricky.
When you win, you will see four lines of Japanese text in katakana. They are the names of four kinds of tea:
tamaryokucha - deep green tea
These four words are what you need to solve the puzzle to get into Cut of the Void.
The website that you then enter is largely in Japanese. Translations of the website and the popups that appear are available. The first translation is pretty poor and I still don't really understand what the website is about. However, the one really important thing on the website can be found on this page, accessible from the front page. If you click the word in small letter, 'Orikaeshigitae', then it will take you to this picture. The word Orikaeshigitae refers to a point in japanese sword making where the metal is folded onto itself. This puzzle is solved by folding the image into 16 equal horizontal strips.
On that page is Sencha's story of recent events. Why do I think it's Sencha? Well, who else could it be? It doesn't require much summary and it's an interesting tale in itself; it's amusing to see him wryly admit that he sacrificed his friendship to the Dalangs for just a little honour. Apparently killing Evan Chan is too much, but casual acts of blackmail and AI murder aren't beyond him.
So Allen Hobby was in fact dead all this time - he killed himself decades ago shortly after David's disappearance and since then has been impersonated by a Passer. An inside-project at Cybertronics further advances the Passers, and years later Sencha develops an itch that causes him to investigate all of those people who might know anything about the Passers. He discovers that MUSE, Allen's AI, is still alive and well and is residing, incredibly enough, in Cloudmaker's AI.
While this was happening, the Waterworks-Green Microtech merger was being delayed by Evan, who had discovered signs of some 'demonic intelligence' - presumably one that is developing within the TP-web and killing all these AIs. Foolishly, the Dalangs were shortsighted and ordered Evan killed instead of looking closely at what Evan had found out. When the time came for Evan to be killed, for some reason Venus did not wipe MUSE - Sencha speculates on the reasons why this might have happened.
And then Sencha is killed.
The Red King has updated the 'Shadow Page' on SPCB hidden in the Most Wanted page with the following text:
Pondering puzzles piecemeal presents a plethora of problems.
Lots of Ps, eh? This can mean only one thing - Red King is being annoying and has put up a new page at http://www.spcb.org/p/
As usual, it's in the Red King's standard hex code, and for the hex-impaired of you you can read a translation. It's not as if it's top secret material or anything (well, not really) but Dwayne does like his games. At least this account by Dwayne sheds light on what Eliza meant when she called Geri a liar - she doctored the AI poll results so that it would seem far less of them would want to get rid of humans.
Dwayne's mailbot makes a few observations about the uneasy interface between AIs and humans, and reveals that as ever, things aren't quite as simple as they seem - they don't want to get rid of all of the humans. What a relief, eh?
The Story So Far has been updated with a fair bit of new information. There isn't much that we don't already know there - it merely confirms what we've learnt. I suppose the only good thing there is that it explains how Martin managed to kill Monica/Mother. Monica hated Martin, blaming him for David's disappearance, which is why she wanted to kill him. When Martin said the seven code words that would make Monica imprint on him and force her to love him, she couldn't handle being forced to love the person she hated and then simply died. Strange, but true.
Cloudmaker is definitely getting about these days. If you go to Evan's page at the Family Chan website, and click on the image of Cloudmaker, you get the usual larger image. But this time, if you click on the larger image, now a window pops up with a text prompt and a link saying Make a Beautiful Land. Click on that link and you see a map of some islands - a puzzle!
Laia mentioned earlier that she needed to go out and buy some clay, and in the Story So Far she says that she's trying to understand a strange message from Cloudmaker - she must be working on the same puzzle as us. Laia is probably trying to create a model of the islands out of clay. Perhaps we should do the same...
I suspect that the black and white colours are there on purpose and the numbers represent heights (otherwise it wouldn't really make much sense as a map to make a model of). As yet, though, it's still not solved.
[All subsequent entries occurred on or after July 20th]
Perhaps as a portent of the coming ending of the game (it can't be long now, alas - there are no more mysteries!), we've been treated to an extra-long entry of Martin Swinton's diary. The new question to get in is "the rest" and the answer is "is silence".
It's a quite touching tale of how Martin realises that he might have regarded Brutus as a friend, but then Brutus was nothing but coerced by his programming to be one. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when Brutus was overjoyed that he could leave, but I've gotten used to his reassurances to Martin. Still, I couldn't help myself from smiling when the two of them made up.
Martin appears to be finally at peace with the disappearance of his brother, decades on. It's a shame that it partly took the death of his houses to jolt him out of all of this.
There's a bit of a treat for readers of Martin's diary this week; if you look at the filenames for the Brutus images, many of them have joke names, such as the first one with 'What-do-you-mean,-I-need-a-name-for-the-picture!!--Brutus -never-said-anything-about-having-to-give-a-different-name -for-each-picture.--I-mean-it's-a-PICTURE,-for-God's-sake.jpg'
Some believe that these unusual filenames, and the one I just related in particular, indicate that someone is impersonating Brutus. I don't think so. There isn't any other evidence for it in the diary, and I prefer to think that the creators of the game are just having a bit of fun with us on what might well be the last ever diary entry, from the looks of the end of this one. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the idea of Brutus taking off and being impersonated by some other AI.
With the Beautiful Land puzzle still not solved, it appears the creators of the game have grown a little impatient with our dawdling and have provided us with some additional clues. If you go to Sophia's Temple and input 'Cloudmaker' with any of the emotions, you get the following words (the same for each emotion):
under no fond dune one found our eon drone rend rude redo node rue undo feud rune done fore round ode foe
Where each of the words is on a separate line. And if you look at all of them closely, you'll see that you can see anagrams of the word 'founder' (which is the solution, but more later). However, I don't think we were supposed to solve it that way. The Story So Far has been updated by Laia to have a link to a new page written by her relating her efforts to solve the puzzle using old-fashioned clay. So clearly we were supposed to figure it using the clay. But how?
Well, on this computer generated 'clay' map, it's believed that you can see the word 'Founder' if you look at the islands from a certain angle. And that's probably how the puzzle was supposed to work, except I suspect it was a bit more difficult than the game creators had first envisaged.
So let's go back to the Cloudmaker page and then click on the image and type in 'Founder' in the text prompt in the popup window. What do we get? A whole load of semaphore signals, of the kind that are used to communicate messages between boats at sea. You can read the translated message here on the Trail (might take a while to load up).
The big flags represent shorthand signals that are translated as capitals on the Trail.
It's a message from Cloudmaker, who we find out is definitely MUSE, Allen's old AI. He was hidden on Cloudmaker by Jeanine and often went out with Evan on cruises. After Evan died, Cloudmaker/MUSE spent his time with Thor, the climate control AI that oversaw the TP-web. And while he was there, he discovered that the TP-web was acting strangely, and considered that it might evolve into an intelligent organism - but not one that we would recognise. It couldn't live as a single organism - the oceans are too big for that and signal propagation would take too long. No, the TP-webs would have to act modularly, as individual organisms delinated by, say, 22.5m disks of water. And in the oceans, there would be enough space for 900 billion of those disks, each of which would be intelligent as a human.
But they wouldn't be completely distinct, not in a swirling ocean. Whatever they were, we wouldn't understand them - as Cloudmaker says, compared to the TP-web, AIs and humans are practically twins. He asks whether we should kill the emerging TP-web intelligence before it begins to threaten us - after all, it's killing humans and AIs alike through hurricanes and white noise. Is it hostile? Does it even understand the concept? Who knows.
Following on from this speculation, six game websites now have very strange popups about the TP-web, or 'Jelyhedz':
# discrEt jelyheads (cnsrvtiv) whirld oshnz: 900 BILIUN wel, Not discrEt. IndiscrEt, BAD brAnz. Noti mrjing noti bad 2 mani 2 mani brAnz
Uv cors, mi hed iz a bag uv salt watr 2. We'r ol nots uv red watr in fIn lethr
Amount of TP-laden seawater through which infrasound signals can propagate as fast as nerve impulses crossing a human brain: ~(22.5m/2)2x2m
Yes, it does make sense. I'm certain that the person writing all of this is none other than Geri Khan, leader of BIOS. We know that Geri is currently in Catskills Seaview Clinic and according to Monica in Martin's diary, she's a bit distraught and has a bit of being hysterical (I'm assuming that Geri is staying in the same area as Monica). Geri certainly has the hacking skills and intelligence to listen in on what Cloudmaker told us in the Founder puzzle, and to work out the implications.
Geri calls the individual conglomerations of intelligent, evolved TP-web plankton 'Jellyheads' - which is vaguely appropriate, considering their resemblance to large thinking Jellyfish. She's mostly concerned with proving that they have the capacity to be intelligent even though they're only plankton in water, and that in such a large ocean they can be present in numbers of around 900 billion. What's more, each Jellyhead has 25 times more neurones than the human brain and they all could have the possibility of communicating quickly around the world via the datasphere or through the Thor climate control AI.
She suggests that we could try killing all of them, by swirling the water around and disturbing the assemblies of TP-web plankton, using lasers and boats, but realistically that isn't an option when you would have to do it pretty much simultaneously to every single patch of ocean in the world.
Let's face it, kids. The Jellyheads are here to stay, and they're potentially smarter and there are more of them than both the humans and AIs combined.
[Reading all of this exposition from Geri Khan, I can't help but think back to the time when I wrote a long email way back when in response to someone who said that the TP-web might be conscious. I made various assertions about propagation times and said unequivocally that I would hunt down the game creators, destroy the servers, blow up Microsoft, nuke the site from orbit, etc etc if they ever made the TP-web conscious, since it was so scientifically wrong. Well, with this Jellyheads stuff I have to admit that they've put quite a bit of thought into the whole propagation time problem which plagues all of the other 'globe-spanning' consciousnesses we read about in science fiction - case in point, Nemesis by Isaac Asimov.]
The Mann Act is upon us, and the game players get to decide the fate of humanity and the AIs! Four websites, ARM, In Our Image, 7to1 and the Salla Family homepage have direct links to the Poli Pulse website where the vote is being conducted. All gameplayers with a UAN can vote and polling opens 'today' on July 20th and closes on midnight July 24rd GMT.
There are also ongoing exit polls (not results) but I don't suppose you'll be too interested in them considering that you're reading this after the result is known.
[All subsequent updates occurred on or after July 23rd]
I'd been hoping to have the Mann Act Results as the last entry in the Guide but it's just not feasible to do that for various reasons. So here it is. According to Poli Pulse, the Mann Act - the 48th Amendment to the US Constitution - passed by 682 votes to 488 votes. AIs in the United States now have equal rights. It was closer than I thought it would be.
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
Martin's diary has been updated although his entry password remains unchanged as "is silence". We get to see a movie, in several different formats, of Martin and Diane after they find out the Mann Act Result. For the bandwidth-impaired, a transcript is available. Essentially, Martin and Diane are something of an item, and they decide to go offline together. Hopefully they'll have greater success than Laia did.
You know the game has truly ended when the Puppetmasters, the creators of this wonderful game, reveal themselves. They did it with an email, which speaks for itself:
http://www.microsoft.com/games/aipuzzler which was originally just an error but has since gone live;
http://www.familiasalla-es.ro/credits/cheesydog/jpvd.htm which gives you a bunch of cool stuff, including a map of all the puzzles;
http://www.familiasalla-es.ro/credits/oliveloaf/tdet.htm which is a set of photos;
and http://www.familiasalla-es.ro/credits/cornbread/mervgriffin.html which is the Martin/Diane video for if the Mann Act failed.
Finally, Elan Lee and Sean Stewart (game producer and story author respectively) conducted an IRC chat at the end of the game, and you can read the transcript of that chat here. If you look out on #evanchan on irc.chat-solutions.org:6667, you might see some of the Microsoft team hanging around - even now.
It's not quite the end yet - after all, how could the Game be complete without a final word from Laia Salla?
Laia takes the Cloudmaker's favourite guy, Mike Royal (who else?) out to Cathedrium to see the Gladiator Robots in her last Meditation. It's as much a story about the community that built up around the game as about herself.
Does that remind you of anyone you know?
Like Martin, Laia is moving on. And so is Kate Nei - according to the Red King, she was the one who killed Sencha, in retribution for his murder of Ivy.
People are worried about the TP-web and governments, universities and all sorts of organisations are beginning to act. But as far as our friends in the game are concerned, they have to return to their normal lives.
What do you do when the heroes of the story gallop off into the sunset, or sail over the sea? Do they live happily ever after? Maybe. But their adventure is over. And so is ours.