"I know it’s early, but we need your help now! Nyman... he was going to organize the training, but the narcotics trafficker he was going to send you after got to him first. There is no more that I can tell you now. This phone line is probably being tapped.
"Meet at the Palo Alto Baylands at the end of Embarcadero. We’ll brief you on his condition as soon as you arrive.
"Come quickly, but drive safely. We can’t afford to lose another narcotics enforcement officer."
The Palo Alto Baylands is a nature preserve on the San Francisco Bay, about 10 minutes from Stanford. It borders the Palo Alto Airport, a frequent transit point for intercontinental drug smuggling. As the teams struggled to find this location, Michael Nyman was threatening to drown himself in the bay, but a pair of heroic Cranea agents managed to restrain him at the end of a long boardwalk behind the nature center.
When teams finally reached the nature center, they were greeted by Agent Z, and their start times would have been recorded if we had provided Agent Z some way to record them. Instead, we just decided that everybody started at 6:00 PM, although, for instance, Team DumDums arrived after 7 PM, by which time everyone else had already left.
More importantly, however, Agent Z presented each team with three items:
- A two-page official message from Cranea supervisors, describing contact procedures
- A CD marked "Networking Toolkit" containing several songs (not available online) and installation executables. Download: Windows (4.2MB); Mac OS X (4.9 MB).
- A 120W power inverter for powering their laptops (a few teams got 75W ones, especially if we didn't like them)
After a few minutes, an exasperated Cranea supervisor (Jesse, wearing the official Cranea t-shirt) ran out from behind the nature center.
"Come quick! I was – am – a friend of Michael’s. He’s been, I don’t know how to say it... infected with one of these narcotics. We’ve restrained him at the end of the pier... maybe you can help us figure out what he’s saying, help us figure out where those narcotics traffickers have gone."
The Cranea supervisor led the teams down the pier, berating the large number of pitiful narcotics enforcement gumshoes who had trouble keeping up.
At the end of the pier, the teams finally met the Michael Nyman who had spammed their inboxes so eloquently over the past few weeks; he was doubled over on the ground, arms bound, muttering "Dement's drug dealt death upon" various Spanish-sounding people (whose names were written on his arms), groaning, bleeding, and generally seeming unhappy.
Another Cranea rep (Eric C.), who had been monitoring Nyman on the pier, explained:
"As you can see, the poor detective is clearly insane. When this all happened, he was on the trail of Victor Dement, M.D.Ph.D. Our reliable sources tell us that Dr. Dement has developed a mysterious super-drug that allows him to commit a heinous crime against all of mankind—something to do with torturing thousands of innocent souls at a time and destroying the habitats of sketchy graduate students in one sweep of the hand. Clearly this is an act that must be stopped; clearly this is a man who must be apprehended immediately.
"Dr. Dement’s narcotics are powerful – take a good look at what it has done to a fully trained CRANEA agent. Be warned – Dr. Dement is not an easy target."
Knowing that teams had not yet fully comprehended the information in the letter they already received, Jesse continued:
"In your quest to capture him, you will find useful the networking toolkit software that you should have received from our representative at the Nature Center. This will allow you to connect to Cranea’s central computers, via geosynchronous satellite, for help in analyzing evidence left by Dement and his associates.
"At Cranea, we also have another computer system that can put you in touch with resources such as the CIA, Interpol, the Japanese Embassy, or (more commonly) other experienced Cranea representatives. Their phone numbers are not advertised in any phone book, but may be accessible by entering extensions on the automated Cranea help-line. You should already have received this phone number."
And then, Eric explained:
"As you make your way through the Bay Area in your search to track down Victor Dement, you will receive support from CRANEA base and the supervisors working here at the control towers. You should already have received from us the contact information that will connect you to the CRANEA control station.
"Know that we will not let you wander into harm’s way, unless you do something insanely ridiculous and unpredictable that we simply have no way of preventing you. For this reason, you absolutely must call a Cranea representative before proceeding to a new location. Remember, CRANEA will always know what you know – and even what you do not yet know you know. "
Finally, Jesse concluded :
"We had the opportunity to record some of Dement’s ramblings and upload a transcript to the evidence folder on the Cranea servers. Your first task is to get the networking toolkit working and analyze his ramblings to see if you can find some information on Dement’s whereabouts. The code to get the ramblings is 'transcript bcjhrxor'."
Of course, narcotics enforcement gumshoes being as they are, the Cranea rep typically had to spell out the transcript code about three or four times before everybody was able to write it down.
Finally, teams had some work to do. After running back to the car, installing the networking toolkit, and entering the code, they were rewarded with the first clue towards the location of Dr. Dement.