Editor’s Note: In the Matrix, things
are not always what they seem. The questions and answers one person hears can
be completely different than the questions and answers another person could
story covers just one of the possible riddle sequences that were experienced
This is Neurophyte reporting in from HVCFT Novalis II.
Captain Niobe, you recently requested information about the hunt for the blood-drinker Invalesco. I admit, after my experience in Manssen Park, I was worried about a repeat performance.
I agree, however, that this Invalesco thing turned from a minor annoyance to a major crisis in nothing flat. I don’t really know what started this whole mess, but I have a feeling it’s going to lead to some real problems later.
Anyway, Malphas left a broadcast message in the main datastream. I don’t know what sort of administrative privileges he created for himself, but it blasted itself to every redpill in the city. It was kinda funny, actually, watching people’s heads come up as the messages scrolled across their HUDs.
He said something about some Machine Programs, name of Wollstonecraft and Bysshe. I’m not a big reader, but I got the joke. I never pegged the Machines to have a sense of humor. Malphas said they would start us on the path to finding Invalesco. The Captain told me to go after it, since I’m the fastest in the crew, so I got moving.
No question about it, this was a race. I could tell that someone was going to get there first, and the rest of us were going to have to sit back and listen to the aftermath for better or worse. Sometimes life is like that, but this seemed important enough for me to load myself with every stealth and speed program I could cram into my head.
The First Clue: Buildings in the Slums
I jacked into Tabor Park West. I knew that the first clue, “They will be in a building with at least 15 floors in the Slums or Barrens,” probably meant either Tabor Park or Kedemoth. Those are pretty much the only areas with really tall buildings, except for a few in the Eshean Projects.
climbed a couple buildings, and ran into Wollstonecraft and Bysshe after a
few minutes of searching. Some of the buildings in Tabor Park were pretty confusing,
like the one with the elevator that goes up to the tenth floor, then has another
six floor elevator from there. Sixteen floors, but unless you’re paying
attention, I guess it would seem like just ten from the bottom, or only six
from the top.
The one where I found them was the Hewitt Office Tower, right
behind the Tabor Park West hardline. I headed up to the eighteenth floor, where
I spoke with Bysshe. Bysshe was the strangest Program I have ever met. He was
kind of fuzzy around the edges already… probably because
of the thirty minute timer that had been placed on his RSI.
He invited me to
a secure team channel, and we talked for a bit.
Personal Conversation with Bysshe
Bysshe wasn’t much of a conversationalist, probably because the building was getting positively crowded with other hunters. I never imagined so many redpills would care about a Blood-drinker, especially one who was apparently nothing more than a con-man.
The clues were pretty complicated, so I took some time to study them: “In Mannsdale, on a roof next to the water, there is a satellite dish that is very small. It is intended to receive covert signals from the nightclub across the water at which it points. This club has two parks roughly to the south. Go to the second park and look east and slightly south. In the building across the water there is a researcher named Salazari. The location is the so-called Odette Haunted House.”
This looked to be pretty tough, so I high-tailed it to Mannsdale and opened up my map as wide as it would go.
Lines on a Map
Taking the clues, I drew an imaginary line roughly in the direction all the dishes in the area were pointing, and saw that there was only one club on the map, the Lynch Pin, that had a dish pointing toward it. Looking at the map, I could clearly see two parks in a line below it. After double-checking, I realized that there weren’t any other nightclubs in the Slums or Barrens with two parks to the south. This one had to be it. Looking east of the location of the second park, I saw a number of row-houses. I’d been in a number of them, and I knew that none of them fit the “haunted house” motif.
Looking slightly to the south, I saw a large, abandoned apartment building. Broken windows, strange shadows moving inside… I realized I had found it.
Pizza and Stories with Salazari
my way to the corner of Dannah Heights, I saw a faded tenant list on the building.
First floor: “Odette.” This was it, the Odette Haunted House.I went
inside, and found a funny bluepill by the name of Salazari sitting on the floor
and eating a pizza. He had a notepad and a tuning fork with him. I wasn’t
about to ask about the tuning fork.
He told me that an Exile named Yttri had recruited him to investigate strange things in the Matrix. He offered me information, but said if I wanted to hear it, I would have to give him stories in exchange.
I started with my “Blood Code” story that Tyndall got excited about, and that was worth a couple of clues from him. I added a story about the time an Agent morphed out of my boss at my old bluepill job, and that got me the rest of the clues.
They went something like this: “One of the subway lines is completely under the control of Invalesco. He has a deal with an Exile known as “The Trainman” to help him maintain his control. The person you seek is not in the subway, of course. The Blood-Drinker’s control emanates from Manssen Park.
Invalesco is not there right now, but in a secret fortress.
Each of the stops along the line is one of his hunting areas, though only one
will lead you to Invalesco. The final stop is next to the building where a
laborer is working on the top floor. She is in the building to the north of
the subway station. Do not disturb her work, and do whatever she asks to find
Invalesco. Follow the line that is green.”
An Expensive Flip of a Coin
Staring at my map for a few minutes, I quickly
identified the Green Line subway, which runs from Manssen Park down to Gracy
Heights. At that point, I knew I had a fifty-fifty chance on finding this “laborer.” She would either be in the “final” stop of the Green Line in Manssen Park, or the “final” stop of the Green Line at Gracy Heights.
I decided on flipping a coin. Heads, I was
going to Gracy, tails to Manssen. I got heads, and hopped on the Green Line.
Getting out of the subway, I went to the building due north of the subway.
It was a mess, walls falling apart, doors off their hinges… the
usual. Up on the fifth floor I found an old Japanese woman who called herself
Kaseifu wanted compensation, too. In her own
words, “one thousand info or this ends right here.” Personally, I’d
been hoping to have to tell more stories. A quick phone call to my captain,
and I got permission to use some of our crew funds to pay Kaseifu off.
Boy did we ever pay her off. It started with one thousand information, then two thousand for the next tidbit. Four thousand, eight thousand, sixteen thousand, thirty-two thousand… when it hit sixty-four thousand, my patience (and my authorization to withdraw from our crew bank) ended. Luckily for us, we heard everything we needed.
On Codepaw's Trail
In so many words, she told us: “Let’s talk about a Lupine who has betrayed his people. His name is Codepaw, and he knows the Matrix like none other. Codepaw hates Invalesco for losing his sense of perspective in this crisis. So he’ll feed you some words that will get you to that fiend. Codepaw will want to know a specific number in answer to a question he will ask you. I don’t know what this question is, but I know that the answer is also the number of ticket vending machines in the entire Morrell subway station. I’m talking about the yellow line now.
Codepaw will want to know something about moon phases. The
answer to his question is marked into a wall next to three initials on the
south wall in the subway station at Park East. I’m talking about the orange line here. Go outside that orange line station at Center Park and look for the Patcher Vendor. Make a note of his name. Codepaw is in a bathhouse in Murasaki. It is the largest square building in the district. Be ready with your answers to his questions!” She then turned away and “coded” some clean bricks. I was pretty fascinated, but I knew the race was still on.
At first, I was really nervous about going Downtown, but I looked at my maps and realized that the clues were all in or near subway stations. If I got into trouble, I could always hop back onto the subway and make my escape.
My first stop was, of course, the yellow line station in Morrell. Riding in from Apollyon, I got out and walked all over the station. Ticket booths were everywhere, so I went over the place with a fine-toothed comb. There were nine ticket machines in all.
I sprinted from the yellow line station to the orange line station a couple blocks over. From there, I took the next train to Park East and got out.
There was a lot of graffiti on the walls, but one jumped out at me. Three initials, and a little empty circle next to it. It almost looked like a degree sign for reporting temperature. If we’re talking moon phases, then a circle either means a full moon, or a new moon. I would have to hang on to this factoid until I met Codepaw himself.
Hopping onto one more train, I arrived in Center
Park. I left the subway line, and could see a street vendor leaning against
the entrance. He told me his name was “Scuppers.” I wrote that
down. Looking at his wares, I realized that a Patcher could get a lot of good
ability codes from him, but I was in a hurry.
I was in Murasaki with my map open again. Looking around, I spotted a large
square building in the south end, next to Ueno. Walking in, I realized my hunt
wasn’t even close to over. How do you find a Lupine who doesn’t
like to be found?
I ended up using a special code that my Captain provided for situations like this one. Bringing up my personal PDA, I entered the “addwaypoint” command, and typed in as a target, “Codepaw.”
Got him. He was twenty-seven meters away, upstairs from my location. Thirty seconds later, I was face to face with the wolf himself.
Luckily for me, he seemed more amused than angry at my approach, and he willingly gave up the information when I provided the answers to his questions:
“Before I send you after Invalesco, I need to know what you know so that I’m not sending you to be stepped on, hmm? I will ask some questions to see if you’ve been paying attention to things. In order to destroy any Blood-drinker or lupine, what is the optimum time of the month, by which I mean moon phase, to do so, Hmm?”
Well, I knew that in literature, most night-creatures did their deeds at the full moon, so it stood to reason they would be weak at the opposite time – the new moon. Codepaw agreed:
“Yes, indeed. Some of us enjoy that time, as they claim to be the most “human.” They are foolish, as we can never be anything close to human, hmm? We are at our weakest when the moon is new. And now, how many members sit on the Lupine and Blood-drinker council?”
The question took me by surprise, until I realized that I had an answer to another question: how many ticket booths are in a subway station. The coinicidence seemed too great, so I tried that number… nine.
“Exactly. Malphas and his three lieutenants, and Ookami with her four pack leaders. Finally, there is a vendor we occasionally work with. What is his name, hmm?”
I was ready for this one. I told him: Scuppers.
“Very well. I will tell you of Invalesco’s location. They may be very pleased with any meatwad who removes this thorn from their paw, hmm? And perhaps they will allow the return of a wolf that has strayed too far from the pack.”
“You will find him at: 783 117 -860 in Richland. Good hunting.”
Of course you know what happened next, and who did it. Invalesco was killed, and his story ended.
At least, it ended as much as any story in the Matrix ever does.