On Saturday, February 2nd, various members of the unfiction.com message boards got an email containing the following message:
- -ATTENTION: THIS IS A CONFIDENTIAL AUTOMATED MESSAGE. PLEASE DELETE IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED THIS EMAIL BY MISTAKE. Status: Phase 11 complete.
The email originated from moc.suhcuihpotcejorp|nimda#moc.suhcuihpotcejorp|nimda. The website had a black background with a number "10" in barely-visable grey. Unfiction member Sylvia noticed that there were 15 total number images, from 0-15.
Within an hour of the the first posting on unfiction, MrToasty noticed that new binary had appeared in the source code:
Progress...</div></div></div></div><!-- 01010101011011100110000101110101011101 00011010000110111101110010011010010111 00110110010101100100001000000111001001 10010101110011011100000110111101101110 01110011011001010010000001100110011100 10011011110110110100100000010101100110 10010110110001100001011101000110010100 10111000100000010001010110110101100001 01101001011011000010000001110011011110 01011100110111010001100101011011010010 00000110010001100101011000010110001101 11010001101001011101100110000101110100 01100101011001000010111000100000010100 11011001010110001101110101011100100110 10010111010001111001001000000110110001 10010101110110011001010110110000100000 01110010011000010110100101110011011001 010110010000101110
Which, translated, told us that
Unauthorised response from Vilate. Email system deactivated. Security level raised.
Unfiction member Vilate confirmed that they had replied to the email they received and had gotten the following reply:
--ATTENTION: THIS IS A CONFIDENTIAL AUTOMATED MESSAGE. PLEASE DELETE IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED THIS EMAIL BY MISTAKE.-- Unauthorised response. Raising security level... Locking down Email response facility... Email has been deactivated for 'adminsplatrojectophiuchus.com'.
Also hidden in the source code were three-letter codes. Many speculated that they were airport flight codes, but when drizjr lined them up vertically we found they contained a message:
PARTICIPANTS SHOULD BE WARNED THAT EXTERNAL F
There was also talk of a file called typewriter.swf, which brought up a page that said "please pass in your text", but EnigmaFisk found a page that explained that this was a component of some wordpress themes and was probably unrelated to the game.
Later that night, Sylvia noticed that the picture file had changed to a "9", obviously signifying some sort of countdown. The clues in the source code had changed as well, and when translated said
Email system deactivateP¸M•ÕÉ¥Ñä±•Ù•°É…¥Í•.
The next code to be updated was as follows (some line breaks added that were not in the original due to formatting on the wiki):
ff00d2, 000000, f600ff, 595751, ff8400, 16fb16, 000000, 595751, 7a3f00, 000000, 00b9de, 00ffb4, 4b006b, ff0000,7a3f00, ff00d2, f600ff, ff00d2, b400ff, 900077, 000000, ff00d2, b400ff, 00ffb4, ff8400, 595751, 7a3f00, 7c0000, 595751, 00ffb4, 4b006b, 7a3f00, 595751, ff0000, 000000, 00ffb4, 7a3f00, 00b9de, ff00d2, 393516, 900077, 000000, ff00d2, 006a4a, 595751, f600ff, 7a3f00, ff00d2, 900077, 7c0000, 00ffb4, ffdc19, f600ff, 7c0000, ffdc19, ff8400, 7a3f00, 7c0000...Colour is key...
We initially made color charts color charts of each of the specified codes but it was enaxor who realized that the codes were a substitution cypher. By assigning each group a letter, starting with A, the group of numbers was translated to
which translated to "orces are trying to compromise the integrity of project ophiuchus th". When added to the original message, we could read
Participants should be warned external forces are trying to compromise the integrity of project ophiuchus th...
Natas noticed shortly after the code was solved that the source changed from "colour is key" to "GIF is key."
On February 4, the source code let us know that email contact had been restored and a few people sent emails back to the administrators. Later that night, Sylvia noticed that the source code had changed despite the background number staying at "8" on the site. The code said
[Vignere][NotInternetTelephonyButChat][Recruit169 has the key][krzqycvcelwkkxipqgdwwlzvlityyecyrnijcjjweensjcwvbztcwykztxeekkt oxfgmiswkkrsxycdmewiuorxlpfpwtczzmipexrmohssnoztcxyotgp]
Rogi Ocnorb quickly determined that the key to the cypher was kepler, which made the string of letters translate to "ankfullypastattemptshavebeenunsuccessfulandourservershavemanagedtowithstandmultipledenialofserviceattacks
When spaced correctly and added to the original message, it reads (again, with some added line breaks for formatting):
Participants should be warned external forces are trying to compromise the integrity of project ophiuchus thankfully past attempts have been unsuccessful and our servers have managed to withstand multiple denial of service attacks however the pre...
About an hour later, the code had changed. The code was now listed as
Again, decoding using "participantthirteeni" as the key yielded a translation of
dicted success of phase
Adding this to the original text then gave us
Participants should be warned external forces are trying to compromise the integrity of project ophiuchus thankfully past attempts have been unsuccessful and our servers have managed to withstand multiple denial of service attacks however the predicted success of phase...
The following day, Feb 5th, Unfiction member theguy noticed that the Project Ophiuchus site had updated,and the main page was now reading
Phase 12: Flight departed
And Unfiction member darkredeemer notcied that the source had once again changed. This time it read
Later that day, Unfiction member Vilate received an email from the Project Ophiuchus website with a .wav file attached. The file can be found Here The file was from a man named Sergei Poponov asked for immediate assistance at somewhere called Station 537, because someone named Karl was killed.
As usual, the main site's background number and source code updated again that night, changing to a 7, and displaying the following message in the source
<!--deardani. There's something you need to read.-->
Unfiction member Highwind767 quickly found the code and the page it led to, [www.projectophiuchus.com/images/deardani.gif], which led to the first letter on the site.
The message read
Dani, Many apologies for not using protocol with this message. I understand that the email system is out again - dang! Guess the worst has happened!? There's been no contact like expected. Should we be concerned? Is this connected to the death of P13? I'll remain vigilant just in case contact is made, though I guess we need to be more secure in verifying the recruit's identity. Ophiuchus will be successful. I know it! - R169 "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."
Roughly 25 minutes after the source changed, Highwind noticed it was updated again, this time displaying
<!--deardani. There's something you need to read. ForR169-->
Taking the same approach as last time, another letter was found in reply to the first.
This time the message read
R169, Protocol should be followed at all costs, though I understand your frustration. I've tried to contact the recruit in question, but no reply yet. He's usually fairly reliable. I guess we'll just have to wait. If they haven't responded by 06/02/08 12am GMT I'll start to lock down the project. That will ensure no information escapes. Don't worry about P13, they're not coming for us too. I think they understand the good in what we're doing. Stay vigilant. Dani P.S. Can you Skype me in future if the messaging system is down? It's more secure.
This message let us make our first contact with one of the characters via Skype.