Story So Far

Act 1

Week 1 - 2 (Oct 1, 2020 - Oct 11, 2020) - Recruiting Phase and First Contacts

Frances Austin is a guy which reached out on Reddit. He worked for a strange company. He "stole" some files and is on the run. Following his posts allowed people to get in contact with a company called Aeternus Center which is lead by a guy named Alexander Clark. In Parallel, AC sent out some packages to people that also allows them to apply for Onboarding this company in one of four factions: Precursors, Archivists, Explorer, and Oracle. During the recruitment Phase 1 people have to work on several challenges and we got access to the ACinternal employee website. Our main recruitment contact is Cole Johnson.

AC has several mystic projects running. Not much is known about them, but we got access to one of the main projects: The Tower. The Tower is a kind of simulation and works similar to classic text adventures. People were able to initiate and run a first simulation. Magus is the main contact for Tower related issues.

There was a mysterious person in the AC system that was able to add messages to AC's website posts and emails. These messages were always in blue color and the sender was Paula Lewis. She also was able to add a piece of code to the packages that were sent out before. That code led to her email address - so we were able to communicate directly with her.

But Paula was not the only person that added some code to the sent packages. Oakley Smith is another person that was able to hide a message in The Cards found in the packages. That led to his website Obscurum Space and email. It seems Oakley and Paula work against what is happening at AC. On the other side, it seems they are not directly cooperating but it seems more like "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Both wanted to get in direct contact with each other but the players did first hesitate to do so and decided to first check out what is going on. We learned that PLACEBOS are the four founders and combines the First Letters of Paula Lewis, Alexander Clark, and Oakley Smith. Later we learned that EB is Elliot. The letters also stand for their respective groups: PL = Protector of Liber, AC = Aeternus Center, EB = ???, OS = Obscurum Space.

Week 3 - 5 (Oct 12, 2020 - Oct 30,2020) - ETA, GAMMA and some letters

Cole asked the recruits to help him retrieve the ETA fragment. Even though we do not know exactly what those fragments are, we helped them to pin down the location. AC sent out a team to retrieve it (we never heard back what was the outcome!). After this, Cole informed us that there was a theft and the GAMMA crystal has been stolen. During our investigations, we were able to communicate with a bunch of AC employees and found that Tim Malor is now at AC. We were able to identify Karla as the thief. First, she said she did nothing but later she confessed. It is not that clear if she really did it or not. The GAMMA crystal never showed up.

People who left their mailing address at Oakley's site retrieved letters from him and people who send their mailing address to Cole retrieved recruit letters from AC. Again it seemed Oakley was able to add some "extras" to the letters adding new content in form of cards. Solving the AC puzzle gives us a bonus hint for the tower simulation: one of the "monster" doors contains poisonous gas. Paula wants us to send Oakley's contact information by mail, but we still hesitated to directly link Paula and Oakley.

The first Tower Simulation ended with a collapsing tower. We opened the North Door before doing anything meaningful in the other 8 rooms. Now we had to start all over with Simulation 19194127. By solving some codes for Magus in the Tower Communication Results we got some hints for the simulations and how to cope with four monsters. Additionally, we got a new Tower command from Oakley by solving his letter codes: "Override Inventory"

Week 6 (Oct 31, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020) - Game of Death by The Hunter

This part started not on Mondays as usual, but Halloween brought up something new: The Hunter and his Game of Death. Due to an AC tweet, we found a new Record ID linking to a Discord server where the Hunter was waiting for us. He wanted us to select one of the following to die: Cole, Oakley, Val Irvin or Erol Klarson - also forcing us to give up one of four important story streams: (Cole = AC recruiting, Oakley = OS, Val = End of Age(?!) and the Frances' path, Erol = The Tower). If we would not decide then all will die. We selected Val but warned him. He went into hiding mode, but we do not know if he survived.

In total The Hunter asked us to do four tasks for the four fractions: We passed PRECURSOR by making the decision who has to die, we failed the ARCHIVIST and do not know exactly what it was and two more were open: "For the third, find one who knows about True Enlightenment to tell me to spare someone. For the fourth, in the dark of the night, poison on my hand, delivery being made, tell me how I fail." So the EXPLORER should find True Enlightenment and the ORACLE should tell him The Hunter's fate.

For the Explorer task we got a hint revealing that the AC letters have been intercepted not only by Oakley but also contain some more hidden message: Recruit letter part 2. The following hidden message was found beneath the post stamp:

Layers within layers.
True enlightenment.
Awaken the Eater.
Contact me.
-Cal Devali (cal@)

Cal Devali and The Hunter are members of the Seekers - a group that wants to awaken a mysterious creature or energy, named The Eater. The Eater is something greater than humanity, a path to true enlightenment, where maximal well-being and happiness can be attained. But it also seems The Eater is a big thread able to destroy the earth or at least humankind.
For the ORACLE task, we asked the AC prediction machine and get this output: "As the Hunter rings the doorbell, a dog begins barking loudly, smelling the faintest traces of the noxious poison the Hunter carries. The target is alerted to the danger and quietly triggers the protocol, catching the Hunter in their tracks."

Week 7 - 8 (Nov 9, 2020 - Nov 22,2020) The Boston Drop and Elliot's Journal

We got a new puzzle for all recruits EPSILON: we should decipher an image-based puzzle. After we solved this, we got the task to encode a "Message received" in the same way as EPSILON challenge. Additionally each fraction got a a specific task, mainly with the purpose to prepare new players for phase 2: Explorer Challenge, Oracle Challenge, Precursor Challenge and Archivist Challenge. Especially the last one was interesting since we had to answer several questions about the story so far. AND… there were additional questions in blue (from Paula). One asked, "Who killed me?"! Paula is dead and seems to be like an AI bot!! Additionally, there was one question in red letters: "Who am I?".

We also finally established direct contact between Paula and Oakley by sending a blue letter to the AC mailing box with Oakley's contact information. Oakley also wanted us to look out for a Boston-based player. This Boston Asset (Starling) was very important for a live Boston Drop event - a morphic event, which is some kind of spatiotemporal event that might involve time travel. Starling was able to steal The Park Box.

This Box contained several things:

First, there was a letter from the future (10/20/2021) explaining how to set up a trap for the hunter. Second another letter from "Another you" explaining that this is the 18th attempt to translate the objects through a morphic experiment and hopefully this time it will reach the receivers. Third, a "failsafe drive" containing a big file, similar to a file we got from an Oakley letter. And finally EBs Journal containing a lot of drawings and other stuff collected by Eliott - one of the four founders, who already died. All the pages were cut out and out of order.

We were able to extract this message from the journal:

Killed my friend. The ark is dangerous. The pieces must stay lost. Alex can't be trusted. The edge of insanity. Oakley can make defense but Alex can make a weapon. Eternal safety or a final deadly struggle. The end comes soon. Good luck those remain. May failure guide you.

Alex and Oakley have different views on how to tackle some future threats - which probably is The Eater. While Alex wants to fight The Eater offensively, Oakley relies on a defensive strategy. What's on the other pages will become important later. But bringing the pages into the right order revealed a message written on the edges of the book:

MY SECRETS ARE PROTECTED WITH KEY EXPLORE THE LIMITS

After we sent this to Oakley, he gave us a hint leading to the faces site on Obscurum Space, which finally helped us to solve the cards puzzle revealing this message from Oakley:

THE SECRET LIES IN IMMORTALITY GAINED LONG AGO FROM RUINED ARK

Siteevent: Magus was still looking for Frances and the stolen Files. It seems Frances dropped some item at the identified location and an unknown person found it offering it on craigslist. But AC was faster than us and Tim Malor got it.

Regarding the Tower Simulations, we failed at the second simulation: We were able to open the north door after we placed fitting objects on the pedestals of the 8 first rooms. In the new area, there are four doors with different monsters. We could get rid of the snake-like monster with a mirror, but we failed in killing the dog and died. We immediately started a third Simulation 19194129.

week 9 (Nov 23, 2020 - Nov 29, 2020) Progress on Tower and Tim Malor Drop

But also the third simulation ended deadly. Even though we were able to kill the snake with a mirror, the dog with poisoned meat, the golem with a loud noise, and the gas with liquid nitrogen, we touched the remains of the snake and got electrocuted. So we started our fourth try simulation 19194130. But this time things changed. We were not outside of the Tower anymore but at Strawberry Hill in San Francisco. We were able to make our way to the (Coit) Tower. But while entering we accidentally deactivated the Failsafe. AND … red-letter writing person interfered again.

We received a long message from Oakley with the Ark explained:
oakleyanswer.jpg

Tim Malor contacted us via a hidden Record ID which led to another Boston Drop Recovery Sorted where Starling, our Boston Asset, found Tim's personal email address. Tim told us: "What I found on Block Island tells a disturbing story." and he wanted us to help to overload AC's proxies to be able to decode the files from Frances. We should post as often as possible PILGRIM within our communication.

week 10 (Nov 30, 2020 - Dec 6, 2020) Oakley's adventure, The Parley - End of Phase 1

Standard Tower simulation continued: we placed the eight objects on the pedestals, opened the north door, and killed the four monsters. That allowed us to open the two locked doors. The new rooms had 8 different vials with colorless liquids and one bowl on a pedestal in each room. Mixing vials reveal poisonous gas. So we used gas masks to protect ourselves. Nevertheless, we died (again).

A player who joined the seekers initiated a second Game of Death and it seems we lost Cole - our long-time recruitment officer.

Our communication due to Epsilon ciphers continued. We had to decipher EPSILON chess which decodes to a message from the unknown sender:

I seek asylum from the Seekers of True Enlightenment, will you provide safety

But there has been two other major events: During Boston Drop 2 our Starling was able to recover a Another notebook which helped us to solve several puzzles during the warehouse event. Oakley broke into an old PLACEBOS warehouse to recover a Black Box.

Secondly, AC tweeted something about a PARLEY. We learned about PERSONAL - which are the different involved organizations:

P = Protector of Liber/Paula
E = Erol Klarson - the architect of the Tower
R = ?
S = Seekers
O = Obscurum Space/Oakley
N = Nihil Agency - see Interlude chapter
A = Aeternus Center/Alexander
L = ?

During two sessions with those groups it has been decided to join forces and to build Taskforce.Earth.

Interlude

week 1 (Dec 7, 2020 - Dec 13, 2020) - Nihil Agency and communication with The Shatter

Even though Act 1 officially ended, the game did not stop entirely. During the december 6 parley finale something suspicious was posted:

P: Anyone solve that signal yet?
N: No, one person pointed out some useful tools, no one has been able to help decode it. I'll let you know if anyone else redds it and can make heads or tails of it.

And we were able to pin down the message on Reddit and the user u/nihilagency. So it seems "N" is another group/person named Nihil Agency - NA. The Reddit post linked us to the M0 signal which allowed us to communicate via coded messages. The coding of the messages was quite complex but very similar to the Arecibo-Message (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_message) which was an interstellar radio message sent out in 1974. So the audio signal has to be translated into binary which then assembles a visual image containing more "codes". Asking NA about the origin we got this reply:

Unfortunately the signal likely has terrestrial origins, we're just not sure who is sending it.

We started to communicate with the unknown entity. To signal that we understood the message we replied with X0 by continuing the number sequence from the first message M0. We then received M1 containing some boxes indicating the size and asking us to send in a 15x15 box. We did so and added number-coded text to X1.

From this point we got an automatic decoder translating the audio into binary-making life easier. We also got not only 1414 Hz signals but an 1815 Hz signal. We had to do some more signal overlaying to get M2 which composes the box we sent, an Arecibo message with planets (without Pluto) indicating "earth", a picture of a globe, an arrow indicating a place on the globe and a math test. Our reply x2 contained the solution to the math test, a copy of the globe indicating that the globe was 15x15 and asking for a bigger globe in 63x63.

The next message M3 was a quite huge image with different number codings, some mathematical operators, and with several "homework" for us. Before replying we were contacted by Spencer Klars from NA stating that the signal is from outer space and an entity named The Shatter.

week 2 - 5 (Dec 14, 2020 - Jan 13, 2021) - NA nor responding and Simulation Interlude

We replied with X3 answering the maths tasks, showing off some more math skills, and asking for two maths operators we have not used.

M4 was quite huge with five parts. The first part explained the two math operators (division and modulo). The second one was a new maths problem using the new operators and a new symbol we could not identify. The third and fourth message involves complex nesting of messages, which has not been "solved" so far. The fifth is the same as the second just in Revers Polish Notion.

We submitted X4 with the answer to the new maths problem. Since NA went to a break or did go underground it never appeared on the website, so it might not be transmitted. We also got no reply to our emails.

Besides the events with the Signals and NA, the Tower suddenly woke up and transmitted Tower Symbols. This helped us to initiate the simulation interlude alpha. We were at the base of The First Tower. The tower layout has changed and everything seems now like playing D&D. We got a list of 100 rolls of 20-sided dice, consuming a roll for some of our actions. This first tower looked like a maze on the base floor and had one more top floor, with 8 orbs protecting some kind of cloud. We were able to deactivate the orbs and retrieve a key fragment. Afterward, we were able to use an archway - some kind of portal which transported us to the next Tower

week 6 - 8 (Jan 13, 2021 - Jan 31, 2021 ) Meeting the Architect

The second Tower was referencing Cyberpunk2077. We could quite easily collect the second key fragment but of course, got into trouble while returning to the archway. A stranger kidnapped us and wanted to kill us. We tried to bribe him with our orbs. Since it did not work out, we tried to 'command' him to flee - which also failed. After distracting him we were at least able to flee through the archway.

During our escape we got a glimpse into the fourth tower, giving us a quite complex Fourth Tower Loop Puzzle which we solved offline in parallel to our adventure in The Third Tower. This Tower had some references to WatchDog Legion and we started at an unknown location near a river and an unknown destination. We got 20 yes/no questions to find where we are and what is our destination. Additionally, we had to provide the route utilizing images and videos. We were able to figure out that the destination is the London Tower and that we are on London Bridge. Providing the way as wanted (https://imgur.com/a/OPYzxgf (external link)) we got the third key fragment.

That left us with The Fourth Tower. After we have solved the loop puzzle retrieving the final key fragment was not an issue. We could combine them and end up in a new room:

Entering, you find yourself in a room.
There are monitors surrounding you displaying the room.
A cloaked figure sitting in a chair in the center of the room turns towards you.
They say:
"Hello X"

This is a reference to The Matrix and we asked "Who are you" and got the reply:

"I am the Architect. I created the Tower. I've been waiting for you.
You have many questions…"
The Architect trails off, the entire scene around you shifts and changes.
Only the Architect remains.
"Congratulations are in order, though the questions and conversations I'm sure you have should be held elsewhere. You never know what AEs are listening."

week 9 (Feb 1, 2021 - Feb 7, 2021) - Agmen of Nerds, more Signals, Other-Oakley, and the Sun

L and R chatted on January 31 chat and left a message with the bold text puzzle, which led us to Taskforce Earth. Additionally, Tim Malor posted a new fleet on Twitter with a strange message about a hacked website. We found that the Nihil Agency site was hacked and a Binary code on NA has been left. Decoding the binary led to a new email address of Spire from the Agmen of Nerds. After some communication with them there text get red letters again. So do we now communicate with the Agmen or with the mysterious red-letter person/AI - or are they the same?

Nevertheless, they want to learn about the way we communicated through the M0 Signal codes. They offered us the information about a new message M5 received as exchange. They even gave us the audio-file (which was just huge - 58 min) but not the decoded binary txt file. Of course, we did not cooperate. But we got some automatic processes to decode/encode messages. Spencer contacted us: NA is recovering from the hack and we are back in the Signal Sending Business. We decoded M5 and got the logo of The Tower. Which was sent back as X5. But we also understood there is a second image in the M5 message which was confirmed by M6. We decoded the Tower logo with Oakleys and Alex Logos integrated- with an arrow and question mark. We assume they wanted to know who we are. So we assembled a message X6 with the Taskforce Earth logo and Alex and Oakley integrated. The reply M7 was composed of different logos and symbols and is difficult to understand. Seems like they want to know if we are opposing the Eater. But things are quite unclear.

Other strange things happened on the Parley channels. First, we got a Groundhog day protocol message and then an Other-Oakley from the past contacted us in the Other-Oakley Parley Chat wanting us to help (again) entering the warehouse. It seems he is not able to contact our Oakley in our reality. Furthermore ☉ (Sun) contacted us allowing us to ask four questions in the Feb 2 Enlightenment chat. It seems many realities might affect each other at specific points, whereas the Shatter is the largest of those holes. The Alchark (Ark) entered our world while fleeing from the eater. The Eater is some kind of engine powering the Sun. The Tower is currently in orbit and four artifacts can reveal its location and we have to reach it. Additionally, we learned that Oakley and Alexander are gone and might be even dead.

We got a new Hunter Message leading us to a recruitment site of the Seekers. But we were denied for SOTE recruitment by The Witness a new character "working" for the Seekers. We also learned that Cal is no longer with them. We hacked into their SoTE Archive, but they observed everything we did.

week 10 (Feb 8, 2021 - Feb 15, 2021) - Confusion on Signals,

Spencer might be an AE. We sent out X7 trying to explain our current situation: Taskforce Earth opposing the Witness, Alex, Oakley missing, and so on. We explained the "Opposing Witness" part by having a Taskforce Earth logo and an upside-down Witness logo. The reply M8 was short:

Upside Down Witness = Death

Since we did not understand what it meant we replied in X8 with a simple question mark.

The Seekers complained about us since we tried to break into their website. During a february-12-13-chat the Seekers withdrew from PERSONAL.

week 11 (Feb 16, 2021 - Feb 23, 2021)

With some struggles, we managed to decode the Bifurcus Access Instructions, and thus gain access to the Bifurcus Site. We learned from information about some of the random symbols we'd been receiving in the m0 signal puzzles from Spire.

On Monday we received a slew of puzzles, Project Elliot's FTA - EB, memory fragment 2, and m10, but managed to solve all of them within the first 24 hours.

Act 2

week 1 (Feb 27, 2021 - Mar 5, 2021)

week 2 (Mar 6, 2021 - Mar 12, 2021)

week 3 (Mar 13, 2021 - Mar 19, 2021)

week 4 (Mar 20, 2021 - Mar 26, 2021)

week 5 (Mar 27, 2021 - Apr 2, 2021)

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License