Hard Light Productions Forums

Hosted Projects - FS2 Required => Silent Threat: Reborn => FreeSpace Conversion => Phoenix => Topic started by: Colonol Dekker on October 15, 2008, 06:44:19 am

Title: Gotcha! Welcome to Phoenix, Read This first!
Post by: Colonol Dekker on October 15, 2008, 06:44:19 am
Bo selecta! I am so relieved........bet you are too, read below for a summary.

Ok, just to sum up where we are in this whole thing:

Obviously, we have found out what 162 refers to and found this forum and this is where the actual puzzle starts.
Our messages come from some GTI person calling himself Aadarsh. The text "2-∞ - User does not compute" for this user seems to be a bug in the forum software and appears, because this user has only posted in a hidden forum, so he has "zero official messages" but there are messages created by him. It really seems to be a bug, I can't imagine that the text relates to the puzzle (MikeRoz, thanks for pointing out the same effect for my user after I had finally registered a my very own user to be able to post here).

  • The first message ("Can anyone hear me?", October 10, 1926, 05:07:28 PM) seems like it is just an introduction to see whether people get here and to set the mood
  • Next message was: "Not as it appears", October 26, 1926, 06:54:58 PM. Here, we have a mission briefing for a science vessel sent to Ross 128, shortly before the Shivan incursion. The briefing consists of an image and some text. "Not as it appears" probably refers to the image, because after the image data, a zip file has been appended. When the file is renamed to .ZIP, many programs can extract it. The password for the zip file is "hUj-Ge!ru_AraS-e?ewrE=e3e+uru9r5w*[email protected]$EwResT", as stated in the post itself. The hidden zip file contains the actual, classified mission briefing of the science vessel and a probe image showing Shivan ships. It seems that the official mission briefing was just a cover-up, but in terms of the puzzle there seem to be no obious hints in either the secret mission briefing or the secret probe image.

    The image in this post is loaded from the address http://holonet.hard-light.net/restricted/aadarsh/POINTS%20OF%20INTEREST.PNG which makes us aware of the existence of a web site at http://holonet.hard-light.net. So this must be the "holonet" but we can currently only read some public reference information and don't know how to log in. At some later point we will probably need to use the information that is given about the Vasudan language but at present, we don't seem to need that yet.
  • The next message ("Interesting times...", October 30, 1926, 06:18:24 PM) talks about the fact that people from outside have found the first messages. These people are us. They (i.e. we) only use four byte-addresses (for the current Internet Protocol, each address uses four bytes) and come from outsite the holonet. However, the title "Interesting times" is probably a hint that the DATES of the posts are quite "interesting", as has been noted by others. So far, nobody seems to have found out what these times refer to. Some speculations about a bible verse reference connected to the number 1926 have been officially stated to be wrong.
  • Then comes the fourth message ("Some more highlights", November 05, 1926, 02:34:55 AM). There we have some image that shows a probably classified ship. On the image itself, there is some hidden text that can be made visible by subtracting the regular dot-pattern that is overlayed over the complete image and by a few colour manipulations to make things more readable. The name "Points of interest" for the previous image might be a hint that now, one needs to remove the dot-pattern that covers the image so that the text becomes readable (or I could just be over-thinking). The text in that image is a key that can be used to decrypt information together with the words "God of Ohio State". The prase "God of Ohio State" is taken from a horrible translation of the Freespace Reference Bible and these words are the password which is needed to use the key for actually decrypting something. As a result, we have a usable key for decrypting things, but we have not yet found any encrypted message for which we could use the key.
    In addition to key data itself, any PGP key also contains some more data about the key's possessor (this is how PGP keys work - they contain additional information about a key's possessor and this information is used by encryption/decryption programs). The key that our friend sent us contains the information that it belongs to "Isaac Stone <[email protected]>". This is of course a fake email address, because there is no such thing as a .gta domain on OUR internet. But it alerts us of the fact that this is the private key with which a person called "Isaac Stone" decrypts (and also digitally signs) his messages. This means that if we now find encrypted messages for mister stone, we can read them because we have his key and the password for his key.
    It's also said that the image in this post is "only a thumbnail" and the image has the address http://holonet.hard-light.net/restricted/aadarsh/blueprints-thumb.png but playing with the image URL does not easily give access to a bigger version of that image (for example, there is no image called blueprints.png, blueprints-full.png, blueprints-normal.png, blueprints-big.png, etc. lying at the same place).

So what are the next steps? Obvious things that we are lacking are:
  • we have a key that can decrypt messages for a certain "Isaac Stone" but we don't have any such message yet.
  • we don't have a login for the restricted functions of the "Holonet" website at http://holonet.hard-light.net.
  • We don't know what the post dates mean (The year is "1926" and even the days are weird).

And on a further note: MikeRoz tries his best to keep people from focusing at the puzzle by spreading attachments with self-created messages that have nothing to do with the puzzle. So again for everybody: MikeRoz's Attachments have NOTHING to do with the puzzle. Mike has created these attachments by himself. Mike, you are not helping.

Also, it would be great for everybody to not make posts that don't help for getting further or ask questions without having read everything that has been posted here so far. Posts that just contain things like "Thank you", "I don't get it", etc. are cluttering everyting and will make things harder to follow and understand for everybody. And on the other hand it would be nice if those who have found out something could explain it clearly enough so that everybody can understand it and not just computer-hotshots.

(sorry for typos and for the many edits after posting this originally)

Also here's some info Aqcuired from the year 2335--

And without further ado, here is that transcription.  I've separated it out into the three individual messages and the accompanying voice interface.

Preliminary connection and input:

"Welcome to the Galactic Terran Intelligence Phoenix online network.  Please stand before your camera for security identification.  If you are calling from an audio-only terminal, please hold for further instructions."

"Unable to establish a video connection.  Please state your full name and rank."

*Isaac Stone, Commodore*

"Please state your classification level."


"Please state your authorization code."

*Alpha Tucanae Delta Lupi*

"Access granted.  Welcome, Commodore.  Please be advised that this communications node has not been cleared for classified activity.  Certain options may be unavailable."

*Play messages.*

"Accessing now. You have three saved messages."

First message:

"First message.  This message was sent on Monday, April 1, 2335 at 0637 hours."

"Commodore Stone, this is Captain Larsen, GTSC Valhalla.  We are en route from the node, and if you haven’t already heard, our publicly-stated mission has failed.  With considerable effort, the Valhalla was able to enter the jump corridor, but couldn't brute force its way out the other side. We've heard back from Beta Aquilae and Deneb, and they couldn’t get through at all. There will be more on this in the coming weeks, but that's not why I'm calling.

"Our discovery has confirmed 1st Fleet's final transmissions, and our salvage crews have been working through the past 96 hours. We have deep scans and physical samples from the engine systems, but the jackpot is that the aft defenses were almost completely intact. We've recovered five pulse turrets, as well as a complete missile launcher battery.  Unfortunately, deploying salvage haulers was impossible due to the increasing instability of the corridor, but even though we weren’t able to accomplish your primary objective, I would consider the mission to be a complete success.

"I look forward to sharing our results with everyone after tomorrow's press conference."

Second message:

"Next message.  This message was sent on Thursday, April 4, 2335 at 0437 hours."

"Isaac, hi, it’s Frank.  Listen, about that bomber, I talked to Sam this morning, and she’s called in a few favors from VCI.  Here’s what you need to know.  We have it from a reliable source that there is no, repeat, no evidence, on or off the books, that this originated in the PVN.  It has no prototypes, no schematics, not even a napkin sketch.  I wish I could get you some more information, but the Hammer task force is shot to hell, and any capture ops have to go through so much red tape…

"I honestly don’t think there’s anything more we can do.  If you want, I can schedule a meeting with Rybak and try to push it through the system…if it were up to me, I’d just leave it to the Vasudans.

"Anyway, give my love to Rachael, and good luck on whatever it is you’re doing these days.  Call me back whenever you get the chance.  Bye."

Third message:

"Next message.  This message was sent on Thursday, April 4, 2335 at 1651 hours."

"Commodore, this is Captain Montgomery.  I wanted to give you a sitrep on the integration status.  The whole report’s in your inbox, but I thought I should give you an overview, so that this doesn’t get buried beneath all the other issues you’re working.

"There’s no good way to do this, but…we can’t accommodate the additional hardware requirements without exceeding the redline limits by at least 20%.  In fact, it was all we could do to bring that down from our initial estimates.  The project simply wasn’t designed to interface with this sort of technology, and we won’t be able to fix it without a lot more work.

"Let me just go down the list here.  Navigation is the worst offender.  We’ve been able to jury-rig a conversion interface, but that pile of junk needs more babysitting than a two-year-old on Zod dust.  We nearly caused a plasma cascade while running some tests this week.  I can’t predict how it’ll hold up under more stressful conditions.

"Engines are another problem.  We’ve installed the new cores and tested each engine individually, but we haven’t been able to bring the entire array online yet.  The reactor certainly has enough power, but the energy conduits won’t support running all five of the new cores simultaneously.  I’ve installed teams to install mini-reactors in the four outboard pods, but that’s going to put us further behind schedule.

"Well, you get the idea.  The report has all the gory details.  Suffice it to say that I’m gonna need a lot more support if I’m gonna get the thing working at all, let alone by the deadline.  You’ve heard me say this before: I would much rather reverse-engineer the systems we have, and build our own versions, rather than transplant them directly into the prototype.  I realize this isn’t the direction we’ve been ordered to take, but I strongly believe it’s the better long-term strategy.

"All right, I’ll see you at the meeting tomorrow."



"Thank you for using the Phoenix online network.  Goodbye."
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Shade on October 15, 2008, 06:53:24 am
Welcome... just found it myself not long ago :)
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Colonol Dekker on October 15, 2008, 06:57:56 am
Found the site requiring password entry? If i can offer anyone out there a tip, it's read EVERYTHING. Then be literal.
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Androgeos Exeunt on October 15, 2008, 08:40:29 am
What do you mean "read everything"?
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: lostllama on October 16, 2008, 03:50:07 pm
So it's taken me what, nearly 2 weeks to figure this out? And I'd already considered the board number thing days ago but didn't know where to find it.  :o It's even kept me awake at night.

Goober, you diabolical... -.-
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: blowfish on October 16, 2008, 05:34:05 pm
Found the site requiring password entry? If i can offer anyone out there a tip, it's read EVERYTHING. Then be literal.

Does that imply that you've discovered the username and password?
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Snail on October 18, 2008, 05:40:39 am
I can't believe I didn't get here sooner.
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: General Battuta on October 18, 2008, 04:24:17 pm
Me too.
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Nuclear1 on October 18, 2008, 04:26:58 pm
Ha! Found ya!
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Mongoose on October 18, 2008, 05:20:29 pm
Hehe, welcome to the club, guys. :)
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Androgeos Exeunt on October 19, 2008, 12:38:00 am
So, how many people have found this board and solved the first riddle at the least? It must be below 100.
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Mobius on October 19, 2008, 04:41:31 am
It was easy to get...

http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php/board,158.0.html   <--- 158th

http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php/board,162.0.html    <--- Phoenix



What about...

http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php/board,666.0.html   <--- Inferno

Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Aardwolf on October 22, 2008, 08:32:58 am

And I still haven't solved it.
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Androgeos Exeunt on October 23, 2008, 01:06:25 am
Ask Goober or kara, Mobius. :)
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Colonol Dekker on October 23, 2008, 03:34:50 am
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Stormkeeper on October 23, 2008, 08:48:32 am
*****. Well. It's a helluva birthday present. Now excuse me while I go headbang myself.
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Mobius on October 24, 2008, 11:46:42 am
Ask Goober or kara, Mobius. :)

Well, dunno...
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Snail on October 25, 2008, 08:25:38 am
Ask Goober or kara, Mobius. :)
Why would Mobius know it?

Well, dunno...
You know more than you're telling us.

/me pulls out a spork.
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Mura on October 25, 2008, 10:48:23 am
Someone doesn't know how to read comas? interesting...

Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: chief1983 on October 25, 2008, 12:01:32 pm
I wasn't aware you could read a 'coma'.
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Androgeos Exeunt on October 26, 2008, 10:08:58 pm
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: unit2 on October 27, 2008, 07:50:04 am
Aha, found it!
Good to see i'm not too late for this stuff...
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Vip on October 29, 2008, 09:45:45 am
Muahahaha. Been away from HLP for a while, came back just yesterday or so. Damn that 162 thingy, took me an hour or two that I planned for learning physics ;D Now, time to crack that login on the website...
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Androgeos Exeunt on October 30, 2008, 08:14:19 am
Hey, one or two hours is good, okay? People like me needed a week and another member of the forum to figure out what you can in two hours. :D
Title: Re: Gotcha!
Post by: Vip on October 30, 2008, 02:18:22 pm
Well, first I read the entire "162" topic, there was enough hints there to get to this. You guys were working from the beginning, so it was definitely harder for you.
Title: Re: Gotcha! Welcome to Phoenix, Read This first!
Post by: Androgeos Exeunt on November 22, 2008, 03:35:41 am
It's a pity there aren't any moderators on this board, otherwise they could Sticky this. :blah:
Title: Re: Gotcha! Welcome to Phoenix, Read This first!
Post by: Annorax on November 22, 2008, 11:38:51 pm
Figured the 162 thing out almost immediately, but now I'm lost. :(
Title: Re: Gotcha! Welcome to Phoenix, Read This first!
Post by: colecampbell666 on November 24, 2008, 10:02:10 am
I got it once I read the thread on the ST board, clever!
Title: Re: Gotcha! Welcome to Phoenix, Read This first!
Post by: Mongoose on November 24, 2008, 02:58:08 pm
Figured the 162 thing out almost immediately, but now I'm lost. :(
There isn't really much to figure out that hasn't been figured out already, other than the most recent Aadarsh posting here (http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php/topic,57936.0.html).  The first page of this thread explains most of what took place since this board was revealed.  This thread (http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php/topic,57704.0.html) has an in-progress attempt to translate a message written in Vasudan that you might also find interesting.