It started at as YASH (yet another scavenger hunt), but ABC_Keith thankfully threw in a puzzle for our amusement.
Full spoiler follows: [Prev Link Dead]
Connected to Agent Weiss on SecNetComm.
Weiss says: Weiss here. How can I help you?
You say: codeword: barrel
Weiss Says: Glad to have you back in service; sorry if we had to keep you in the dark for a while. We made a copy of the ‘package’ you led us to in Switzerland, and left it for SteveO to find. We think it’s something big, but we still don’t know what it is. We need to establish contact with someone who can help us. An occassional operative from Squaw Valley has is trying to contact us on an EXPN.com message board. If you’re as good as I think you are, you should have no problem finding their user name. When you get it, respond with ‘Barrel: [answer]’
Trail for Barrel
You say: Barrel: IronicTwist
Weiss Says: This particular resource provides invaluable information to us from time to time. She says our package is a spreadsheet of some sort, but it’s missing a critical piece of information. We need to pick up SteveO’s trail and find it. When you are ready, contact me with ‘Codeword: Astral’.
You say: Codeword: astral
Weiss Says: SteveO is going to have to communicate with this Bertrand Arceneaux again to get the piece that’s missing. We know SteveO is a frequent user of space.com, and he likes to pose as a businessman. Find out how he’s communicating with him, then respond back with ‘Astral: [Answer]’. Time is of the essence, as analysis shows the complete spreadsheet contain some dangerous information.
I found the following post on space.com at http://uplink.space.com/2/…
I love these government agencies and their pathetic lackeys. They move so slow, a dead dingus would outpace them.
I sent you a card, Bill. Did you not get it?
Prove to me that you get what you pay for, and not a half-hearted attempt like NASA gives.
Which brings me to a greeting card send from firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com.
“The bonds are friendship are strong, especially when one gives unconditionally, as I have.
I need the second half of the story!
Until then, I’ll be reading movie reviews of Eight Legged Freaks on Movies.com.
So I found a review by billy_marlin_2002 at http://movies.go.com/… which says: “great legged film! see it. this is a great movie. it hits the mark on everything it sets out to do. props to the writer, too. see this movie and have some fun for a change. do we always need depressing arthouse films? this is not a film for an idealist. or goofy film elitist. go out and volunteer in your community to see light, fun films that we need from time to time! i loved that this film was set in arizona. great use of saguaro national park. BOKCYUAXIK ba a
Meanwhile, back at the Weissbot, I had the following dialog:
You say: astral: egreetings
Weiss Says: Very typical for someone like SteveO. He’s got a weird sense of humor. This reads like Arceneaux withheld a piece of the puzzle until he received payment. Pretty standard operation with these guys. I think you’re ready to act on your own for a little bit, and track our missing information down. It’s a hard mission, but I have confidence in you. If you feel up to the challenge, let me know with ‘Codeword: Tracker’.
You say: codeword: tracker
Weiss Says: Glad you feel up to the challenge. You’re going to be on your own for quite a bit on this one. IronicTwist has told us we’re missing a key sequence of numbers from the spreadsheet. I need you to pick up Arcenaux’s trail with the link SteveO left, and follow Arceneaux until you find the numbers we’re missing. It’ll help you a lot if you take your time and write down anything that looks suspicious. Guys like this tend to talk in code and break up their communiqués into several pieces. If you need help, type ‘Hint: Tracker’. I’ll see what I can do. When you’ve found the numbers, respond with ‘Tracker: [answer]’.
Notice anything funny on the movie review? Yup, the letters idealist.org are in bold type. So, visiting there, we find they have (pausing for dramatic effect…) a message board. If you look at the topics, one is listed as “Volunteering in Your Community” and has a post entitled “volunteer in arizona national park”. Posted by WillieFish:
give us a PAT on OUr backs, and volunteer to help us clean up a national park! check the weather at weather.com, grab a board and head out for some recreation in arizona’s greatest national park, saguaro national park! help us keep it neat and clean. see you all out there! XQERK ba
Odd use of caps there! On to weather.com, click on the link for recreation, the link for national parks, choose National Parks Message Board which brings you here: http://messageboards.weather.com/3/….
Clicking through to the message with the topic “saguaro national park, arizona is where it’s at!”, b.A. posts: “this is the last part of our trip before our final destination. what an incredible park! a total value, and not as crowded as grand canyon. for finding this place, i am so smart, i’m JUZt a genIUS! well, on to my final destination so i can sign the guestbook. ba u”
To proceed, I admit to minor cheating and getting hints 1 through 4. I’ll post the hints in a separate thread. [Hints to follow in comments]
ok, now that I know a=u, we have a simple cipher substitution.
So, going back through and looking for funky caps, I find:
BOKCYUAXIK PAT OU XQERK JUZ IUS
which translates to
viewsource jun io rkyle dot com
or View Source juniorkyle.com.
Finally, a puzzle! At juniorkyle.com where I’m visitor 2612 (are THAT many people playing? Oh, the source says fake_counter.) No hidden text on the home page, so I reviewed the messages and then went to the Guestbook as instructed at weather.com. Hmm, the guestbook has a post from WillieFish. In the guest book source, WillieFish’s entire post was:
Your site is the bomb! I also really like the inside of your crib. Thanks for letting me post on it!”
which gives us the numbers we needed to find. Back at the Weissbot:
You say: tracker: 35 14 3 31 77 6 55 49 14 22
Weiss Says: You’ve done great. Email me your report at Weiss.CIA.DCHub@twdc.com. Make sure you include ‘Operation: Numbers’ in the subject line.
The email was sent. I will follow up if I get a reply.
Weiss replied withOperative:I’ve got our best analysts confirming what our expert suggests in her email below. If she’s right - and she’s always right - you’ve uncovered something potentially huge.You’ve been approved to stay on this through completion. Your next mission will start with “Codeword: Flower”. It should be active soon.Don’t respond to this email. I’ll be in touch.