ROT7 of WAL becomes DHS. Close but not quite. However, the ‘H’ is three letters from ‘E’, so maybe… 3DES? Nah, I’m probably stretching it.
Ah, I figured it was WAL-MART related, but did they just put in three random letters or is there more to the “DES” than it possibly being a hint?
Normally in tongue-in-cheek jokes like that, the change would be purposeful. For example, instead of WAL-MART it would be ALL-MART (because they sell literally everything). I don’t know, I don’t get paid to write jokes, but hopefully you get the gist.
EDIT: Also, if you look close enough, there’s a drawing of the Tau Cannon on the piece of paper adjacent to the receipt.
Oddly enough, the phone number and store manager name are legitimate.
That receipt is not from the game, lol.
EDIT: Wait a minute…
EDIT 2: In the screenshot Guns posted above, the DES-MART receipt is partially obscured by the adjacent paper, so I went to see if I could get a better look. I knew I had seen it before, and as I suspected, the corkboard with the receipt can be found in Dr. Horn’s shack (aka the taco shack):
The actual texture containing the receipt is located in bms_textures_dir.vpk -> materials\models\props_office\noticeboard01.vtf. Below is the DES-MART receipt cut out from the texture:
The interesting part is the part where is says “4-21 ORDER #666”.
“4-21”? Or is it “1-21”? 21 goes into 1? But to me it looks like it says “4-21”. Oh well.
Then we have the “#666”. As you all probably know, 666 is the devil’s number, and that’s particularly interesting when you consider the fact that the DES cipher was directly based on a cipher called Lucifer.
Could this be the hint we’ve been looking for? Or is this just a joke saying that Walmart is evil?
However, the DES cipher idea isn’t exactly a new idea. All decryption attempts to date have failed, so what are we missing?
I had completely forgotten about this receipt. I don’t think I’ve seen it since long before the “21 into 1” hint. Otherwise, I would have made a mental note of it.
Found this today: https://www.linkedin.com/company/des-mart-safety-consultants-limited
Note the location and how it’s written: NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Tried it as a key using this online decrypt tool: http://aes.online-domain-tools.com/
No luck, however. I got some results that had about 2-3 solid lines of text without breaks, which is different from the other keys I’ve used in the past, but it was still all gibberish.
That’s the actual spelling of the county
Ah, sorry–I meant more the fact that everything on there is in caps. It could just be how it’s formatted, but it stood out to me that it’s written like that like most of the messages we’ve received in the ARG.
EDIT: Also, something interesting about Nottinghamshire from the wiki:
Note the reference to Romans–could be a hint from all of our Latin clues?
Actually, that brings up a thought–all this reference to “time” and the Latin references–is it possible this has something to do with Roman numerology or time keeping? Afterall, Latin originated with the Romans and surrounding areas: " Latin was originally spoken in the area surrounding Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the western Roman Empire."
shrug Can’t hurt I guess to take a look. I’ll see if I can locate anything when I get home tonight.
Want to know something fun? If you take the 1001085139140914 and convert to Roman numerals you get:
If you take only the I’s and 0s and convert to 1s and 0s, you get:
If you split that into groups of 8:
10010111 11111110 111
Leaving off the last three 1’s, you get this from a binary to text converter: “þ”
The þ symbol is this: Thorn
It’s a letter in Old English and other languages that is called “Thorn.” I mean, it could all just be a coincidence, but that contains “Horn” in it. I don’t know, if it’s completely random then dang, but part of me feels it’s intentional. It’s like he left his signature . . . “Horn”
Guys, I think I might be on to something–I wanted it as a new post so it could alert those that have been following this. I’m not big into this kind of technical stuff, but something Storm said previously stuck out to me, in this post:
"Time will still reveal all… eventually.
Who knows how deep this rabbit hole goes."
That part is almost directly quoted in The Matrix, when Morpheus says to Neo:
" This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more."
I was looking at the Wiki page that explains the cultural references of “the red pill” and “the blue pill,” and at the very end were these two other reference points:
In cybersecurity, a red pill is any means of detecting hooking or virtualization. It is frequently used by anti-cheat, antirootkit software, malware, and digital rights management, etc. Red pills usually make use of real-time clocks to measure the time it takes for [critical operations](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popek_and_Goldberg_virtualization_requirements#Virtualization_theorems) and interactions with peripheral hardware to occur, and compare the length of them with the expected length of such operations as they occur without virtualization. If the clock is compromised, the hypervisor can hide its presence by slowing the clock down in a controlled way, to hide the extra time imposed by virtualization.
Until they were removed from the Maemo operating system application installer in January 2010, certain advanced features were unlocked by a “Red Pill Mode” Easter egg to prevent accidental use by novice users but make them readily available to experienced users. This was activated by starting to add a catalog whose URL was “matrix” and then choosing to cancel. A dialog box would appear asking “Which pill?” with the choices “Red” or “Blue”, allowing the user to enter red pill mode. In “Red Pill” mode, the installer allows the user to view and reconfigure system packages whose existence it normally does not acknowledge. In Blue Pill mode the installer displays only software installed by a user, creating the illusion that system software does not exist on the system."
The first reference of the “real-time clocks” stood out because “time reveals all,” and the second one stood out because it seems more related to the web-based content of the ARG. Is it possible we can locate something like the matrix URL or something similar to move forward with the ARG? Or is that whole “red pill” thing somehow applicable here?
Again, I’m not very good with the technical jargon aspect, although I know there are many of you here who are. Any thoughts on this?
Found this random “HALO X-Ray” website today–seems legit, but oddly they are also based in Nottingham, same as the DES-MART folks: https://www.haloxray.com/contact/
1-800-786-1410 (listed for both Gordon and Eli) - Male voice states the number is disconnected.
1-617-253-1000 - Actual number for MIT - Asked for “Isaac Kleiner” via the automated inquiry message and got “Mark Verner” so hung up.
1-232-842-3383 - Not a valid number.
1-201-632-3901 - Got a woman with “Excelsior” something or other–asked for Eli and she stated she wasn’t aware of anyone with that name working there. Apologized for the wrong number.
Anyway, it made for an interesting meal, but nothing came of it.
Maybe a dumb idea, but the fact that we are pointed to that board and there is a time and place on it made me think, has anyone tried going their in game on monday at 8 o clock? Tempus omnia relevant and all that
I took another stab at building the story, and I came up with this: https://thepizzaisalie.wikia.com/wiki/Additional_Storyline
I didn’t write it all here, because I just blew up the forums about 5 times in a row, so I figured you folks can click the link if you want to see it
I’m not sure how accurate and/or how helpful it will be, but I hope you at least find it enjoyable to some extent.
Also, I’ve decided that:
All I want for Christmas is my
two front teeth HALOS FILE
two front teeth HALOS FILE
two front teeth HALOS FILE
Gee, if I could only have my
two front teeth HALOS FILE
Then I could wish you,
“Merry Christmas” HAPPY ARGING!
EDIT: Looks like the Curriculum Vitae is not ARG-related, aside from it’s directly referencing bmrf.us. I reached out to its creator and this is what he said:
“Sorry to disappoint, I have never heard of anything you mentioned…
Il gio 13 dic 2018, 19:15”
EDIT 2: Something else about the ITS that stood out to me: “The first device-independent graphics terminal output; programs generated generic commands to control screen content, which the system automatically translated into the appropriate character sequences for the particular type of terminal operated by the user.”
When I visited the link for the graphics terminal, I read this: “Vector-mode displays were historically important but are no longer used. Practically all modern graphic displays are raster-mode, descended from the picture scanning techniques used for television, in which the visual elements are a rectangular array of pixels.”
On its own, it’s not directly ARG-related, but I took another look at the “Lies.jpg” image, and if you zoom in enough, you can clearly see very defined squares that make up the picture. I don’t think it’s Steganography, but is there some way we could rearrange the picture in order to get a message? Or is there some other type of outcome we could get that has to deal with the larger squares within the picture?
One clearly defined area is right where the beard is drawn–you can see the lines that make up the blocks:
Another area is up where the “LIES” is drawn in the top-right corner–it’s drawn in a way that it looks like it’s trying to be fit into the square, and you can see that it’s right up against the line.
That’s weird, right?
EDIT 3: Since bmrf.us is down, I’ve been scoping out some of the screenshots taken with the previous versions. I was trying to figure out how “DALSystems” might relate to all this information about graphics terminals or whatnot, and I stumbled upon this: Data Access Layer (DAL).
“Applications using a data access layer can be either database server dependent or independent. If the data access layer supports multiple database types, the application becomes able to use whatever databases the DAL can talk to. In either circumstance, having a data access layer provides a centralized location for all calls into the database, and thus makes it easier to port the application to other database systems (assuming that 100% of the database interaction is done in the DAL for a given application).”
Or it could refer to Database Abstraction Layer:
“Database abstraction layers reduce the amount of work by providing a consistent API to the developer and hide the database specifics behind this interface as much as possible.”
“Executing the instructions in the correct order allows the DAL to perform the conceptual instruction.”
" Libraries unify access to databases by providing a single low-level programming interface to the application developer. Their advantages are most often speed and flexibility because they are not tied to a specific query language (subset) and only have to implement a thin layer to reach their goal. As all SQL dialects are similar to one another, application developers can use all the language features, possibly providing configurable elements for a database-specific cases, such as, typically, user-IDs and credentials. A thin-layer allows the same queries and statements to run on a variety of database products with a negligible overhead."
EDIT 4: Just as a follow-up, the Curriculum Vitae that I discovered for Gordon Freeman is definitely a bust, even though it directly referenced bmrf.us and used the same phone number from that website. The person behind the original template said they had no idea what I was talking about, and the user Vel who took that template and filled in the information for Gordon said it was just because he used video game characters in his stuff. Here’s the email correspondence:
I reached out to the original template creator in regards to this inquiry, and he had never heard of this supposed Pizza Code Mystery. Upon closer examination, I discovered that you had borrowed the template and updated it with its current information, information pertaining to a certain concerned party.
I believe you may have information relating to some misbegotten goods, and I would like to inquire further about that. Any information you provide would be much appreciated, and I assure you it would be held in the highest confidence. I wouldn’t tell a lie, even for the sake of pizza–a fact I think we can both appreciate.
You know what they say: “Heresy And Lies Obfuscate Sincerity”
I eagerly await your correspondence.
" Hi Gunsrequiem,
I had to read your email several times and then do some searching online to figure out what’s going on here. Unfortunately I can’t help you, I’m just a gamer and use game characters as dummy data for my templates because coming up with dummy data is hard and “John Smith” is boring.
Good luck finding whatever you’re looking for!
Even though it’s very, very tempting to keep looking for new clues, I guess we should simply go by what Storm said and focus on what we have directly related to the ARG. It should be enough–hard to solve, but enough.
So I watched the “A Cage for Satan” episode of “Bugs” and the Star Trek episode Justice. I definitely got more from the former than the latter, and I can definitely tell why Storm likes the Bugs show, or at least used it for the ARG. It has this very 80’s feel to it, even though it was technically made in the 90’s, and it reminds me of some old movies like Logan’s Run–kind of has that aesthetic.
Honestly, even though I was taking notes the entire time, I really enjoyed it. Now that I’ve watched it, there are definitely some very striking similarities between it and the ARG. In the episode, a virtual entity named Cyberax is able to be everywhere all at the same time, and it does so by using the power of humans as processors. At the very beginning of the episode, they talk about Niobium-5 being used for processing, but then it’s later revealed that human computers are “much faster” and allow Cyberax to be what it is.
The central plot is focused around the main characters visiting Technopolis, and eventually making their way to Technopolis Tower where Cyberax’s CPU (and the humans that support it) are housed. It’s your standard tongue-in-cheek action (at one point, they get shot at about 100 times, and all the bullets miss them, but when it’s time for the bullets to hit some “Flammable Liquid”–which is literally what it said on the barrels–they explode). Of course, only the bad guys get knocked down, and the main characters burst out in a vehicle like it’s nothing. Definitely goofy, but very enjoyable.
Anyway, I highly recommend you watch it, because there are some other very interesting details that feel ARG-y, and I’m starting to think that HALOS is Storm’s version of Cyberax, in that it’s able to be everywhere all at once. Another interesting feature of Cyberax is that he could take over people’s minds, making them do his bidding (at least that’s how I understood it). Sound familiar?
The Star Trek episode didn’t feel ARG-related most of the time, but there were some elements we’ve seen mentioned throughout. Some that stood out were the star dates (time reveals all?) and the fact that Data mentions at one point that there were 3004 other planets within the star cluster they were in–our Hex code has 3008 bits, so it could be a coincidence, although I find that unlikely.
Some other possible key phrases are: Prime Directive (mentioned multiple times), Edo, Edo God, Standby, Shadow, and Babble (Picard tells Data to stop babbling, and we do have the reference to the Tower of Babel/barrier of language with the Nimrod/Dante’s Inferno reference).
The most important pieces are likely with the Bugs reference, and there are a lot. Here is a comprehensive list of some of the passphrases I generated while watching the show, either from things spoken aloud or from things written on the terminals/props throughout the episode:
- Niobium Pentachloride
- Flood Gates
- Technopolis Tower
- All your friends are no help
- Welcome to Technopolis
- Technopolis Air Terminal Arrivals
- Image Recognition System
- No threat to security
- Entry Clearance Authorised
- Go Cyberax
- No 32X17 Jean Daniel
- Sleep Pattern Monitor
- Beet Juice
- Elephant or Elephants (at one point, the characters say that this is the key to everything)
- Don’t think of an elephant!
- Niobium processors are fast, but organically-grown processors would be faster
- Human Microchips
I tried a few of these, but honestly this past week has been so exhausting that I have no idea if I was making any headway or not. After all the theories and information I tried to derive, my head is quite literally spinning. I figured maybe watching the two episodes would spark some thoughts, and they really did–in fact, I felt more promise than I have in a long, long time. But as for how to implement those pass phrases, well, maybe someone with a bit more coding saavy can give them a shot.
Anyway, it’s going into Saturday–think I’ll take the day off from the forums, at least from posting. Thanks for hearing me out–apologies to the mods of the forum too. I know I’ve taken some liberties with posting all of this–I hope you’ll forgive the intrusion.
EDIT: I lied about taking the day off.
If you look up “Black Mesa Research Facility” in Google Maps, it gives you this image:
Note the “Tesla’s Tacos” and “Big Tony’s Pizza”–looks like it’s a screen cap from Blue Shift.
Another thing I noticed–if you look at the Tempus page, where it says “TRANSMISSION SOURCE TRIANGULATION NOT POSSIBLE.<|>” I thought it might refer to actually triangulating a location. This is what led me to discovering the Google maps image. There are technically two BMRF locations that are in NM listed in Google maps, but only one had the image–they both reference bmrf.us, however. I was also able to draw a triangle representing the “triangulation” of all three areas (for the sake of the image, I labeled the BMRF result with the aforementioned image “BMRF #1” and the other as "BMRF #2), and I also made an “X” like we have in our Lies.jpg image:
I think it wouldn’t hurt to check what’s in the areas delineated by the triangle or what may be in our “X marks the spot” area–which just so happens to be almost right on an area called “Tularosa.” Perhaps this is where Dr. Horn or possible the other scientists are holed up? It would make sense that this is where our message originated if we are going based on this triangulation theory.
Haha, also, look at the Google maps description from BMRF #1 (southeast one):
EDIT 2: I know we looked at steganography before, and I think we can probably exclude it, but using this tool I did notice something interesting:
You can very clearly see that there are certain parts of the image that have been modified, as in each bit-level you can still see those changes. I tried running binary analysis on some of the more obvious areas (like in the Arecibo message), but nothing really turned up. I’m not sure why the edits would have been made (possibly to disguise some personal stuff/location data? Seems farfetched but possible), but I definitely didn’t see any hidden messages.
EDIT 3: Also, TEI ZILE (the capitalized letters in the last IRC message) shows up in Google as meaning “three days” in Romanian. That coupled with the way “DES” shows up in the Lies.jpg image makes me think this is triple DES. Maybe each section of the Tempus page provides an 8-character password?
Also, does anyone still read this thread? Starting to feel a bit lonely lol.
I’m following your updates and trying to work through stuff but I’m really busy, if you want to throw things back and forth on discord, let me know
I read this thread all the time. Just never have anything to contribute :o Just moral support to all the ARGers :3
The intersection point doesn’t seem to be much. Just a random spot in the Fort Apache Reservation. Looks like a turnoff from the main path, maybe, but that’s about it:
What’s even odder, is if you look at the furthest West location, it’s in Apache Junction, and the intersection point is on Fort Apache Reservation. Remember when they switched to the “old code talker” and it was the Navajo code? Apache and Navajo are closely related tribes, so maybe the map clues are just a hint about the “old code talker” message. Seems like a lot of work for a puzzle that we cracked pretty quickly, but maybe Storm thought it would take us longer. Remember, he did call the HALOS.txt file a holding puzzle, so it could just be that he thought the previous one would take longer, so had all of these things in place.
Even though it may not be helpful, it actually could be, because if we look at how close together those IRC clues came out, I think we can expect a natural thought progression. In other words, unless he already had the HALOS.txt puzzle already in place, perhaps it will help us figure it out if we assume he would have continued that same line of thinking. So even though we have some other themes introduced, thinking about the progression of those puzzles may help us solve the final one. Kind of like when you have a theme world in a video game, and the final boss is related to the world’s theme in some way (think Banjo-Kazooie/Yooka-Laylee/Mario, etc.).
Just a thought, but perhaps it will be helpful?
Storm, you sneaky … argh!
We’ve had it all along, guys and gals! The whole bloody time!
Okay, remember how Storm left that message with the first letters spelling out SECOM?
So, Storm sent me two messages, the one you all have already, and the one leading up to it:
"Hey, sorry I’ve been super busy with things recently. I don’t have a huge amount of time, but I’ll look into it. I’ve got a few too many things on my plate at the moment, what with a new project I’ve just been put in charge of at work, but I’ll see if i can analyse this code somewhat and work out what it’s likely to be."
Now, take the first letters of each sentence from that message and the second one, as well as the “H” from “Hex,” excluding the lowercase “w” in the one line of the message–you get this:
H I I A I T T C I I S F H I I T W O R I I
Now, solve that anagram, and you get:
HI, I ARC IIII IT, TWOFISH IT
Or: HI, I TWOFISH IT, ARC IIII IT
Or: HI, I TWOFISH, WAIT, RC IIII IT
Or: HI, I RC IIII, WAIT, TWOFISH IT
Or, if you want to be fun with it and include the lowercase “W” as a capital:
HI, I ARC IIII, TWOFISH, TWIT
I can’t believe it. I can’t freaking believe it. I. JUST. CAN’T. BELIEVE. IT.
Storm, I love you and hate you all at the same time. Do you know how many times I looked at that message? How many times I looked for hidden meanings? Six years, man, haha.
Okay, so now we just need passwords and all the other stuff, but at least now we have a way forward!!!
You will also notice that he wrote “time” in each message: “I don’t have a huge amount of time” | “designed to allow time to construct further aspects of the ARG or work on whatever is behind their NDA.”
TIME REVEALS ALL
SEEK CODE OUT
But I think you missed another ‘I’ between the ‘O’ and the ‘R’, and ‘Hex’ with a capital ‘H’ occurs two times, resulting in
HII AIHTTCIISFHIITWOIRII (I put a space in there to separate the letters from the 1st and 2nd PM). With this, if you leave out the letters from the 1st PM, you can still get
HI ARCIIII IT TWOFISH IT.
Ah, I completely missed that, awesome! I think either way we have a pretty good way to move forward here, it’s just a matter of figuring out the best resource to do this with. I tried a few of the passwords/phrases we have with online solutions, but didn’t really get anywhere. Any thoughts on how we can get the resource we need to ensure we are getting valid results from our attempts? Or perhaps we can just code it into one script and run them all at once.
i can try and implement something in python but i’m not great and i’m not sure I can guarantee validity.
Long-time reader, first-time writer.
I’ve visited this forum about once every six months for years and years - long before the first BM:S release. I happened to login this evening and I see Gunsrequiem talking up a huge breakthrough. Well, that’s refreshing! ARCIIII and Twofish both… very juicy. I don’t get the “hi” or “it” parts, though; would’ve been nice if the jumble only had enough letters for ARCIIIITWOFISH.
I’m good with Python, and it looks like both ARC4 and Twofish have readily accessible Python libraries. I might take a crack at a brute-force algorithm.
Whatever you folks can do, I’m sure it can’t hurt! At least now we have a way to move forward (hopefully)–it would be crazy if it was just a coincidence.
I’m thinking the RC4 is probably an initial encode, as it would be less resilient to brute forcing. Then again, unless we had performed cryptanalysis on the resulting hex by happenstance, we likely wouldn’t see any patterns anyhow, so I guess theoretically it could be either way. I’m familiar with VBA, C# and Java, but that’s the extent of my programming knowledge–and I’ve never applied it to cryptography. So I’m not sure how easy coding both will be, but perhaps we can focus on that one first if it’s a lot of trouble to do both?
Anyway, take everything I say with a grain of salt–I love puzzles, and I understand how the different methods work, but my cryptography skills when it comes to application essentially amount to plugging in a password and pressing “Go.”