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24 Jan 2013
By NashTrickster

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[Unofficial] Xi: Continuum Operation Sandman

[ Edited ]
69 Replies 832 Views edited 24-01-2013
24 Jan 2013
By NashTrickster

 

Xi: Continuum Operation Sandman is the work of a fan, completely unofficial.
Now that I'm done with the "legal disclaimers" (which were only potentially necessary, but better safe than sorry), a quick word of introduction...

Did you not get enough of "Xi material" from the 47 Days of Xi:Continuum to quench your thirst for mystery solving?
Then, with my modest effort, I propose to try and keep you occupied with Xi related fun for the next few days or maybe weeks, depending how fast your collective brains will break the riddles, codes and other mysteries I've concocted.

You will be able play this quest as a group effort, or alone if you prefer to... Thus, I'll ask everyone to be very attentive to add the appropriate spoiler tags when posting their answers to the different challenges...
 
I'll post the different "Primers", "Holomails" and other game related information in spoilers myself to allow people to go through this at their own pace. Although, if you're trailing behind, there will be in-Home live parts to the game which you'll probably miss. While missing the live action will probably take out some of the fun, simply  reading the reports of these events after the fact will allow you to catch up and thus won't stop you from going on with the quest.

I will most likely need help with some parts of the quest, mainly during the live parts of it. So anyone willing to spend some time, probably an hour once in while, helping me in providing a bit of fun to the Community, please contact me either via PM here on the forum or via the PS3 message system.
Thanks in advance on behalf of everyone who will play this quest.

From now on I will make any post "in Character" (as the NashTrickster from the quest) using the same format I used in the Praetorian Guard thread on the French Xi forum and here in the thread that was created about me. This means that, to make my posts as "Game Keeper" easily distinguishable from any comment my character could have to make here on the forums, the beginning and end any post I'll make as my character will be "tagged" with the following "techno-celtic" symbols:



Like with every Day in Xi:Continuum, this will start with a Primer message... It will be posted here on what would be Day 48 of the Continuum.

I hope you will enjoy playing through the quest as much as I enjoyed thinking and writing it. See you on Day 48 for the big launch!

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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft
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Addendum Day 56, Photographic analysis results:

Spoiler

SPSI 7: (1 picture) Anomaly Detected!
Spoiler

Location: Xi: Continuum (Axiom HQ)
The last SPSI has been located. With the information on all of them, the deep scan is progressing very fast. Expect the results very soon.
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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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Day 57 of the Continuum

 

Primer Day 57:

Spoiler

Congrats on finaly locating the SPSI. Thanks to your work, we've been able to locate the data-flows of each SPSI and have tracked them back to their sources and learn more on their nature (see Axopedia article "The SPSI" for more information).
Unfortunately, the SPSI are not linked directly to the Praetorians' systems. Instead they use a sort of cloud storage, encoding and fragmenting the data from each SPSI before hiding it within the free spaces left in the code of Home itself. This is therefore a dead-end.

But we can maybe use the information gathered so far to try and pick up a new trail.

The message dated Day 52 on the Tweeter account @TheRymour could be the starting point of this new trail. A dead-box is usually the name given by spies to a P.O.box or some other sort of cache where information and equipment can be left to be picked up by an accomplice at a later time. It is therefore likely that locating the dead-box could give us access to sensitive information.
Locating the Dead-Box will therefore be one of your objectives. Like for the SPSI, taking pictures of the area will allow the Xoff-Cola team to search for anomalies and pinpoint its location. Since we have no clue as to what the Dead-Box actually looks like, taking several pictures, to cover the whole 360° of the area in question would be better.

Moreover, the location of one SPSI seems very strange. SPSI 10 is located in a space of little apparent interest but was given a priority level similar to others (SPSI 7 and 10) placed in spaces of much more evident strategical value.
This suggests that SPSI 10 will be frequently maintenanced, and the space where it is located makes it very easy to monitor.

Your next mission will therefore be to monitor this space and report any suspicious activity which would take place there. It will probably useful to know that, given the activity log on this particular data-flow, it seems the activity is much higher around 5PM GMT on even-numbered days of the Continuum.

It is important that you avoid being spotted during these monitoring duties! Behave as much as possible as any other Home user to keep our targets from suspecting we are closing in on them.

 

Axiopedia article "The SPSI":

Spoiler

From the data gathered from the SPSI themselves, their code and the logs they recorded, we are now certain of their true nature and use.

SPSI stands for "Single-Pixel Surveillance Implant". It consists of a few lines of code which can be attached to any pixel of a texture in a virtual space. Any pixel of any space within Home can thus be turned into a virtual security camera.

Not only does this "camera" record anything that happens within the space it is located into, but it also instantly downloads the chat log history, as well as audio and video temporary memories, from the cache of every Home user that passes within its range, turning everyone into an unwilling spy, a kind of walking drone camera.

The data is then sent to another program, embedded within Home's core, which sorts, encrypts and fragments the data before hiding it in the free clusters that result from server drives fragmentation.

All of this is so well hidden from external investigation that had we not discovered their existence through other means, it could have remained hidden indefinitely.

We also discovered that there are much more than 10 SPSI already implanted into Home. One of the logs we recovered, though partly erased because of the corrumption it underwent while we were trying to decypher it, listed virtual serial numbers for at least 200 SPSI.

It seems whoever coded the SPSI has inside knowledge of Axiom's systems, because they made their code literally invisible to our I/O Data Sniffer (see the Axopedia article on the "I/O Data Bomb" available in Axiom HQ for more info)... We are currently trying to reprogram our I/O Data Sniffer software to locate all SPSI and erase them, but this process may take some time.

In the meanwhile, in Home, walls have ears, literally.

 

MISSION SUMMARY FOR TODAY:

Spoiler

1) Locate the Dead Box and take pictures of the area (4 max) for further analysis.
2) Monitor SPSI 10's location and report your findings here.
3) Read the Axopedia article "The SPSI".
4) Try to locate NashTrickster online and monitor his activities. Do not confront!
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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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I'm pretty sure im working on the right lines ...

Spoiler
I am superimposing the @therymour gif image over a fragments map from XI:C (VitalogyPJ's map)
The gif file is suspiciously transparent and has the same colour dots most people used to mark fragments.

Anyway I put the fragments map as a background in word, then insert the gif image. But after ages of resizing and moving I have not managed to line up the dots on discovered fragments and identify the marked location. I did briefly try flipping the image, but nothing seemed clearer.
I hope that I dont have to rotate as that makes the possibilities endless ...!!

Maybe the guys at xoff-cola can tell me what they think I should do ... (hint hint)
Or someone else with more patience (or a better eye) than me can solve it first.

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I won't take the "hint" for now (since that mission has only been a priority for one day) :P

So... Keep on thinking for now :P

 

Just a precision on the other mission:

 

Spoiler

 

I chose 5PM GMT as the hour for the "live action" because it's what's easiest for me, but if you guys wish we can set another "appointment", but then it'd have to be after 10PM and we'd have to set a day for it too...

 

 

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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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Day 59, a message from our Xoff-Cola Team:

 

Spoiler

 

Hello agents,

 

We've heard some of you have been trying to locate the dead-box by superimposing the dot-map found via the Tweet over the Continuum map, trying to get some dots to coincide with some of the fragments of Quinta Essentia.

 

While this seems like a great idea, maybe the color of the dots was (purposefully?) misleading and fragments are not what you should be looking at...

There are many other locations of interest that could be used, like the location of the HazCon markers, or the places where the AS-0's Simulacrum where seen during the events of the Continuum...

 

Good luck,

/The Xoff-Cola Team

 

 

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Re : [Unofficial] Xi: Continuum Operation Sandman


La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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two small bits of info:

 

Spoiler

 

1) I won't be able to be present for tomorrow's "appointment" near SPSI 10, so no use waiting for me there!

 

2) I have waited for nothing for an hour yesterday. So I have decided to change the way these "appointments" will work from now on:

I will only attend if someone posted here his/her intention to attend to the "appointment" before 4PM GMT on that same day. I give you the choice between 2 possible times 5PM or 10PM (GMT), just specify which time you chose in your "notice of attendance". (The next possible "appointment" being next Monday.)

 

 

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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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Spoiler

I won't confirm if you found the right spot yet (this will have to wait for the Xoff-Cola analysis), however, I'd like to ask an explanation as to the method that led you there...

 

Also, unless you posted these simply as a complement of the one posted on the French forum, the pictures only give 2 different angles, which leaves a lot of the surroundings out of sight...

 

 

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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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I uploaded the wrong ones. My third one is meant to be the same angle as the one on the French forum but a wider shot to include more. And I think I posted earlier.

Spoiler
My method, I just had to actually look at the continuum map. 

 

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Day 61 of the Continuum

 

Primer Day 61

Spoiler

Photographic analysis result: Anomaly Detected!
Spoiler

 

The Dead-Box was successfully located. The Xoff-Cola Team managed to download a large file but it is heavily encrypted. Our attempts to crack it have been fruitless so far.

However, it was noticed that the first and last line of the code are identical. Which led us to believe that it may contain some sort of key or password to unlock the file.

Here is the line in question:

46 72 6f 6d 20 48 52 20 32 30 36 31 20 74 6f 20 48 52 20 31 37 31 33

Your help in finding the key would be greatly appreciated.

 


MISSION SUMMARY FOR TODAY:

Spoiler

1) Find the key to the Dead-box's file code.
2) Monitor SPSI 10's location and report your findings here.
3) Try to locate NashTrickster online and monitor his activities. Do not confront!
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Re : [Unofficial] Xi: Continuum Operation Sandman


La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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Well it screams out to me as 

Spoiler
Ascii. And it makes some sense:

   From HR 2061 to HR 1713

Not sure what to make of that though.

 

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Spoiler

Well, it's hexadecimal actually :P

 

And you should know by now that when a task seems too easy it's usually that it will reveal a harder one ;)

 

 

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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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Yes. But It is hex pairs. Therefore ASCII.

It didn't have to be, but somehow I knew.

I'm beginning to understand your thinking!

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Day 63, Message from the Xoff-Cola team:

Spoiler

We are still trying to crack the Dead-box's file encryption, but we are sorry to admit this task does not make any real progress.
However, during the process, we uncovered an earlier version of it, partially overwrote. The repeating text in this earlier version was slightly different, reading:

From HD 39801 to HD 34085

We hope this complementary information will be helpful in finding the key.

/the Xoff-Cola Team
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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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Betelgeuse, HD 39801 & Rigel HD 34085
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veilcorp.com
BannerFans.com

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Oh of course:

Spoiler
The Yale Catlogue of Bright Stars (previously Harvard Revised Photometry Catalogue or HR for short)

 

I should have known!

 

Spoiler
Well I would say Alnilum (HR 1903) is halfway between them, if that is what the clue means.

 

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Day 64, message from the Xoff-Cola team:

 

Spoiler

 

HR 2061 and HD 39801 are indeed some of the names used to refer to the star commonly known as Betelgeuse. While HR 1713 and HD 34085 are some of those used to refer to the star commonly known as Rigel. There is no coincidence there, thus this must be what the message meant.

 

However, we tried entering Alnilum (and other possible spellings, Alnilam, Alnihan and Alnitam) and HR 1903 (and even HD 37128), as was proposed, in the file's password prompt without success.

These are therefore not the key we're looking for.

 

One of our senior team member made a remark which might be pertinent: if the key had been the star half-way between these two, the coded line would more likely have read "Between Betelgeuse and Rigel" and not "From Betelgeuse to Rigel"...

 


/the Xoff-Cola Team

 

 

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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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Two more possibilities:

Spoiler
These are the extremities of "Orion" 
Spoiler
Or "392" the distance in light years between them.
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Message posted from my PS3:

 

I have issues with my PC since this morning. I've tried to fix it for about 1hr this morning before I was forced to leave for work, and then tried yet again during half an hour during my lunch break, but without success. I think it's my ethernet card which is dead.

 

Since I'll most likely won't have the time to fix this issue before the week-end, I'll have to put the game on hold for now, probably till Monday.

 

I'm really sorry.

 

Just to keep you from continuing to bang your head on a challenge which already was solved, I'll tell you that the key was indeed found.

Spoiler
The key is "Orion"

 

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La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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(OOC: My Pc's finally fixed. It was indeed the ethernet card. Let's get going with the game...)

 

Day 66 of the Continuum

 

Primer Day 66:

Spoiler

Finding the key "Orion" has allowed us to open the Dead-Box file without further difficulties. The file mainly contains information on the spreading of a viral program called 5n0w, but it also reveals the nature of 5n0w and its ultimate goal: 5n0w is the container for half of a program which, once reunited with its other half will generate a kind of firewall in the core of Home, creating a DMZ which would allow the Praetorian Guard (and anyone managing to get access) to create their own spaces in Home outside of Axiom's influence (see Axopedia article "5n0w and Ch4rm1ng" for more information). This Primer Program, devoting 3.1% of available RAM, has calculated a 96% chance that this would be the "New Eden" mentionned in some of the Praetorians' messages.

Once again the Praetorians show a inner knowledge of Axiom's protocols since, like for the SPSI system, they made 5n0w completely invisible to the I/O Data Sniffer. Our teams have been working over the clock to modify the Data Sniffer ever since we discovered the nature of the SPSI and yet they report no progress. We therefore cannot hope to have discovered a way to eradicate 5n0w before it can be reunited with its other half without getting a deeper access to the Praetorians systems.

There are 2 possible courses of action which are still open to us:

1) The file mentions someone, or something, called "Wi11i4m-731" who/which is to be the vector of Ch4rm1ng. Discovering the nature/identity of Wi11i4am-731 could allow to us to create a quarantine program which would at the very least delay the Praetorians plans, if not thwart them completely.
There is a high probability (note from Primer Program: 78%) that the point of injection for Ch4rm1ng is located near SPSI 10 (it would explain why this apparently worthless space was given such a high rating), therefore monitoring the activity there has become of the highest priority. It should allow us to uncover the nature/identity of Wi11i4m-731. You must therefore attend to one of the maintenances of SPSI 10 ASAP.
(OOC: Post in this thread before 4PM GMT to announce your intent to witness the day's maintenance, and specify if you wish the "meeting" to take place at either 5PM or 10PM GMT.)

2) We could try to hack back into Aeropal #1013/CSM (Praetorian designation N.E.W.T.O.N.). This would provide us with a direct link to the Praetorians' systems. However, there are 2 prerequisites to a successful hack of this Aeropal, first that we know in which space NashTrickster will be for quite a lengthy amount of time and second that his attention be occupied elsewhere or he will very likely discover the attempt.
Your constant monitoring of NashTrickster's activities have provided us with the necessary information to be able to hope succeding. He likes to play a game called "Slay" (in the Dust 514 Event Horizon Lounge) and we could hack the Aeropal while he is occupied playing.
If, regardless of our warnings against getting too close to him, you already have NashTrickster in your friend list, simply send him an invite to play a game of Slay (if you don't have him in your friend list, send him a request with "Wanna play Slay?" as the motive)...
Once ready to play the game, you'll have to shut down the Aeropal's alarm. Simply post the following on Home (just like while chatting): XoffCmd{Alarm(#1013/CSM)=Closed; return=0}
Be careful for typos, NashTrickster won't be able to read it if the code is correctly entered but any typo would alert him to our attempt!
Then all you have to do is get the game to last long enough, which means you'll have to represent a decent challenge (or play several games if he wins too quickly).

 


Axopedia Article "5n0w and Ch4rm1ng":

Spoiler

According to the Dead-Box File, 5n0w is a viral-container, a program designed to spread as quickly as possible, attaching itself to as many legit files within Home and lie in wait.
5n0w contains only one half of a program. The other half is to be realeased at a later date, via another viral-container named "Ch4rm1ng".

Once both 5n0w and Ch4rm1ng will have attached themselves to a given file, they will fuse together, re-assembling the complete program they both contain in part. This method of dispertion was chosen because both 5n0w and Ch4rm1ng are innocuous enough to get past Home's security systems while the program they contain would not. But once both its constituants are already past the firewalls, the program will spread unhindered.

The file reveals that the release of these programs was problematic for the Praetorians. Finding an injection point took a lot of effort and, once they finally located a suitable one, it remained open only long enough for 5n0w to make it through, Home's firewalls then closed this injection point making it useless in the future and forcing the Praetorians to search for another one for Ch4rm1ng.
Moreover, 5n0w was responsible for a number of unforeseen problems, such as creating the famous Z(12,-2) error, which could have geopardized the whole attempt by uncovering the Praetorians agenda too soon. They therefore had to rework Ch4rm1ng almost from scratch, correcting it to avoid these problems, which delayed its injection.

The file also reveals what the fusion of 5n0w and Ch4rm1ng would cause, creating a very strong firewall inside the core of Home itself, which would allow the Praetorians to have a base of operation free of Axiom's scrutinity. They could then either create their own spaces free from our influence, or even "move" any Home space they wish within this "bubble" (by expanding it), and even the whole of Home, shutting us out of it. In other words, it would allow for an hostile take-over if they wished to. This ability was merely built-in as a bargain tool. A latent threat which, would we ever attempting to breach the "bubble", would allow the Praetorians to shut us off completely.

The rest of the file is merely data on the spreading patterns of 5n0w, which will serve in making Ch4rm1ng more efficient.

 


MISSION SUMMARY FOR TODAY:

Spoiler

1) Monitor SPSI 10's location and report your findings about Wi11i4m-731 here.
2) Play a game of Slay against NashTrickster to allow a hack of his Aeropal.
3) Read the Axopedia Article "5n0w and Ch4rm1ng"
4) Try to locate NashTrickster online and monitor his activities. Do not confront!

 

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Re : [Unofficial] Xi: Continuum Operation Sandman


La plus ancienne et la plus puissante émotion ressentie par l'être humain, c'est la peur. Et la forme la plus puissante de peur, c'est la Peur de l'Inconnu. -- H.P. Lovecraft

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(OOC: I was too busy at work these last 2 days to be able to post, thus I did not count these days in the timeline of the game.)

 

Day 69 of the Continuum

 

Primer Day 69:

Spoiler

Your monitoring of SPSI 10 finally paid off. An agent was able to attend the maintenance of the SPSI and thanks to his surveillance, we've learned a few very important facts.

First, unlike what we suspected, he discovered that the SPSI data is not downloaded via N.E.W.T.O.N. but directly into the avatar of the person doing the maintenance. (See video excerpt below.)
Now that we are aware of this fact, the Xoff-Cola Team has come up with a way to track where those data go and maybe a way to monitor directly the activities of the Praetorians. We will attach a marker to the data of the known SPSI and follow it, which may lead us to the Praetorians systems. The marker will also attach itself definitively to the the avatar it is downloaded into allowing us to keep track of NashTrickster's whereabouts (and of any other Praetorian who would have SPSI maintenance duties.)


Video excerpt of the SPSI data download by NashTrickster.

Then, the agent was able to record the chat log, even though some entries are missing because NashTrickster moved a lot through the space and our agent could not remain in range all the time...


A copy of the chat log as recorded by our agent.

(Translation:
<fragment>
[L]NashTrickster: log_entry/D68-025: Data transfer completed. Deploying Wi11i4m-731
[L]NashTrickster: log_entry/D68-026: Scan in progress...
<missing entry>
[L]NashTrickster: log_entry/D68-028: Scan positive, injection point located. D-5 to injection.
[L]NashTrickster: log_entry/D68-029: Mission complete. Relocating.
</fragment>)

From this fragmental log and the agents observations, we have learnt the nature of Wi11i4m-731, the exact location of the injection point and when the injection of Ch4rm1ng is to take place, in 4 days from now.
 
Wi11i4m-731 is a modified version of Stapler, probably reprogrammed to detect suitable injection points and to be the vector of the release of 5n0w and Ch4rm1ng. The Xoff-Cola Team is confident that with this information they will be able to come up with a targeted virus which should render this Stapler-clone inoperative and keep the Praetorians from releasing Ch4rm1ng.

Knowing the exact location of the injection point has allowed us to scan the area ourselves and to discover what characteristics are necessary for a suitable one. And our Teams have found a sure way to close these down and make them forever unsuitable to the Praetorians' use. (We will however wait till the last moment to close the one near SPSI 10, to avoid alerting the Praetorians that we have uncovered this information.)

Therefore, we will soon have the means to thrwart the Praetorians' plans. But putting a definitive end to the threat they represent would be a much better course of action. Hence, we need you to continue with our plan to locate their systems, which means challenging NashTrickster to a game of Slay A.S.A.P. (as described in the previous Primer).

 

MISSION SUMMARY FOR TODAY:

Spoiler

1) Play a game of Slay against NashTrickster to allow a hack of his Aeropal.
2) Try to locate NashTrickster online and monitor his activities. Do not confront!
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Re : [Unofficial] Xi: Continuum Operation Sandman


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