Blood For Trade
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|Blood For Trade
|Alice & Smith & Paradox Interactive
You Are Cordially Invited
On 11 December, 2019, an admin on the Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 discord server posted a community update with a P.S. line reading:"p.s We hear there's something going down at https://www.bloodfortrade.com/ hmm... Suspicious."
Going to the above website and clicking the continue button goes to a video of a body bag in the background, with an audio play button for an audio file. Below the play button is an RSVP link linking to an RSVP form with questions leading to a promotion for a twitch stream: "Meet me during https://www.twitch.tv/outstar stream session (17:00 - 22:00 CET / 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM PST)"
The following is a transcript of the audio file:
You don't know me, but I know you. Your... kind. I'm not a... kindred soul, but I am in the know. I know about the societies crawling in the cracks. I know what you need. Maybe you're not ready, maybe you're too squeamish for commerce of this... audacity. But the nights favor the bold I dare you to RSVP. Tell the other sharks. This is going to happen with or without you. The goods are wrapped and ready. I have something you want, you have something I want. This can be mutually beneficial. Think of me as your remora.
In the website's robots.txt file
The contents of robots.txt is usually meant for search engine bots but the file's contents do not match this.
SZ40 Wheel-KH.ITA2.5/8/9 1-43:7.1-47:2.1-51:6 1-53:9.1-59:7.1-37:6 1-61:7.1-41:6.1-31:7 1-29:9.1-26:4.1-23:6
The SZ40 refers to the Lorenz-machine, a machine used to encrypt messages during World War II.
The following line describes the how the machine should be configured.
Wheel type is "KH" and the input format is ITA2, configured as 5/8/9. The next lines are the positions of the wheels within the Lorenz machine. These lines contain several wheels per line, seperated with a period symbol.
This configuration can be used on an online Lorenz machine .
Coming back to the odd filenames. The MP3 file is being hosted on Cloudfront are not garbled by Cloudfront themselves.
The filename of the audio file KBKCKRKCUB9Y.mp3 must have been chosen on purpose.
With the Lorenz machine set to Receive, the text "KBKCKRKCUB9Y" is translated to "SHORTVERSION".
This being the short version implies there is also a longer version.
Set the Lorenz machine to Send and input "LONGVERSION", this is translated to "OY5VEY9E9UT"
Transcript of OY5VEY9E9UT:
(???) This is exciting and terrifying, like riding a shark by the tail, what will they do. OK, OK. * deep breaths * I am my own law * 3 I know you, it's time we make a deal, I've waited long enough. I am due, I need, need, NO, fuck no, c'mon no weakness, no fear, do not show the predators fear. OK, OK, OK * deep breaths * - i am my own law * 3 You don't know me, but I know you. Your... kind. I'm not a... kindred soul, but (I'm in) the know, I know about the societies crawling in the cracks. I know what you need. I know things about you that would make a statue of the virgin Mary cry tears of blood. No, too much, too much. * deep breaths * I am my own law * 3 Just know that I know things you don't want out there. Now that's not a threat, not really, I'm not stupid, not a threat but a promise that getting rid of me is not worth the hassle and agony, especially when working with me can garner such rewards. He, *giggle* he is dead. He's dead, he's DEAD! Maybe he overreached, flew too close to the sun, but his clumsy masterpiece lives on, and I control his databases. Some of you know what that means, the rest of you soon will. I have something you want. I'm extending an invitation. Maybe you're curious, I suggest you RSVP. Maybe you want to kill me, In which case you should still RSVP. Spread the word, tell the rest of the sharks. I have something you want. You have something I want. This can be mutually beneficial. Think of me as your, remora. And do be careful, suns coming up.
In order to promote her stream, Outstar posted a photo of her setup on twitter. In the photo, there can be seen a snippet of a conversation from Tender on her phone. The conversation is with someone usernamed Remora71. The messages go as follows:
The first message from Outstar is illegible. Remora71: Hehehe! That's just a gimmick for my stream. Outstar: I know you like Malcolm knew you. Remora71: No one wants to end up like Malcolm. KNOW your place. Outstar: Ah (?), My business model is different. I'm right, (illegible) is a new competition to you(r)..."
Trust No More
During the day of the Outstar twitch stream, trustnomore.com came out with a new article titled "Ominous Shadows". In the article there is a link to a recorded conversation between Outstar and Remora in a nightclub.
The transcript is as follows:
Outstar: You're ridiculous. None of us want to go down Malcolm's path. Shouldn't even be talking to you. Remora: As I wrote in our texts, I'm offering something different than Malcolm, something more tenable. Outstar: (laughs) They are going to eat you alive. Remora: Ah, you're right. In that case, you'll get to be the one flushing me out of hiding. But, if you're wrong, well, then you'll get to be the one to lead your kind to a whole new level of trade and prosperity. Either way, you win. Outstar: I'm listening. Remora: I need to get the word out to your Kindred. I need your help. Outstar: (chuckles) Those withdrawals must be getting preeetty bad by now, aren't they? Remora: (panting) It's - It's fine, just make it happen. Outstar: What's the magic word then? Remora: Pllllease? Outstar: (laughs) Well, alright.
Outstar Twitch Stream
Leading up to the Twitch Stream, a quest appeared on Tender prompting detectives with a fill in the blank titled "Tell Us A Secret":
I 'believe|think|has been told' that 'I|Him|Angela|Malcolm|Outstar' 'did nothing wrong|made a huge mistake'
During the Outstar Twitch Stream on Saturday, 14 December, during the first break, Outstar received a call and went off stream. At the same time, the stream turned to the familiar Tender stream page hinting users to go to the Tender App. The Tender App was updated with a new Quest, with a video and a text prompt. The transcript of the video is below:
As we embark on this journey together, we here at Tender ask that you are honest with yourself throughout this experience: do you often find yourself feeling wistful? Has your appetite changed as well as your sleep patterns? Are you looking to channel your feelings into something more? Art is physical form given to the world of the mind. In every piece we see depicted our greatest emotions such as love, sadness, fear and anger, to broaden your own ability and freshen your mind. It is good to consider how different artists depict similar ideas. The theme is "Embrace". You are to find each on your own with a little guidance. To begin, this greek myth was from the spanish painter Goya, but he used Roman names.
On researching the hint in the final line, Detectives found the painting "Saturn Devouring His Son". Entering this into the text box completed the quest and a new quest opened titled "Why are you here?". This contained a fill in the blanks response page which read:
I 'overcame|destroyed|lusted for' 'a baloon|a bike|a song' with the help of 'my sorrow|a lewd poem|my pain'
During the second break, a new video and prompt appeared. The transcript is below:
Thank you for taking this step with us. Indulging in personal honesty can be quite taxing. But it opens your sleepy mind’s eye. Open it. Gain way to the vast vocabulary of symbols. Gain way to the library of communal consciousness. Kinship is the need to share experiences, positive and negative. You will find that once you master the shared symbolic language, opening the mind of others becomes easier and easier. It may seem hard to believe, but just think of all the meanings that might lurk and hide beneath a gift. This was very true for Gustav, who was known to create many images of love and intimacy. One of his works is said to be of his love, Emily, and him locked in symbolic embrace. But none can confirm that this painting is a self portrait. Can you at least confirm it’s title?
Upon research, the answer was found to be The Kiss.
During the third break, another quest appeared. Transcript:
Allow your mind the freedom to join us in an exercise. Close your eyes and gather yourself as we cast you away from the comfort of easy answer, and into the mystery and secrets of our origin. The brothers from Genesis who became the inventor and victim of this violent embrace. Innovators of love and treachery. It was a day of many firsts. This imagery is captured most famously by the Milanese oil painter Crespi.
The answer this time was Cain Killing Abel.
The fourth break led to another quest. Transcript:
It can be hard for your body and mind to function properly when you're stressed. Lack of proper diet, exercise, and sleep will only exacerbate this tension, spiraling into an unhealthy cycle. Tender understands the pressure you are under. Stop. Breathe. Imagine being alone, yet you are not. You are sleeping, but you are not. You cannot move, but nothing is wrong. You are safe in bed, and something is near you. The event horizon weight crushing your lungs does not exist. Remember: this is not real. This is nothing but dreaming. Breathe. Open. Now stop. The year is 1781, and the nightmare is over.
The answer was The Nightmare, another painting.
The fifth and final break concluded the last quest on Tender. Transcript:
Stop. Breathe. See the exit sign approaching. We are coming to a close, for now. Together, we’ve crossed the threshold of many singular emotions. Such as fear, desire, anger, and submission. Now, relax. Let our hands turn your mind’s eye upwards to the ceiling of the stratosphere. Gaze and see. Though it is much smaller than you first thought. See our first breath, depicted in an almost touch. The celestial and the earthly, touch. Gross matter awakens to self awareness as human life. All senses balanced as you breathe for the first time. The light fades. Now you breathe. Breathe. Forever after, you grope blindly in the dark without balance. For that almost touch. Good luck, and consider telling us which embrace you desire for your forever.
The answer was The Creation of Adam.
After, there was another follow-up titled "What Should We Do":
I [think | believe] that I should [make a trade with | report] you [when I make up my mind | this week]
At the conclusion of Outstar's stream, a phone call could be heard. It appeared to be one side of a conversation between herself and Remora. Her side of the conversation is as follows:
Do you really want to do this? Once you have their attention there is no going back. Alright (sigh). Way to weave your own noose.
A Tender Christmas Story
Following the wrap up of Outstar's stream and the phone call she received, a message was put up stating that the Blood for Trade website had been updated. The website now showed a title saying "Enjoy a Tender Christmas Story" with a button above it to enter the site.
Upon entering the site, the sounds of rain and thunder play in the background and a message at the top of the screen reads "We're dreaming of a red Christmas." Five numbered "Essences" were shown on the page, four with dates implied to be on which they would unlock. The first of the five was already unlocked, displaying an image of a Tender user's profile photo. Text at the top of the essence reads "Difficulty: Medium."
Along the bottom of the page were a number of statistics, though it is not immediately clear what affects them. "Points Gathered For The Vote (total)" started around 8000. "Negotiation Attempts (total)" started at 0 but has been going up steadily since. The last statistic, "Last Update," shows when the two former were last updated.
Essence #01 unlocked with the Christmas story's opening. The Essence's thumbnail showed an image of a Tender user's profile photo, pink and smoky in theme. A title dictated that this Essence was of medium difficulty. Clicking on the essence brings you to a page with three clues.
C01 led to a page on the WikiArt Visual Art Encyclopedia for a painting called Sewing Fisherman's Wife by Anna Ancher.
C02 led to a simply an image of meat from Wikipedia.
C03 led to the Wikipedia page for the 1987 World Series.
After some trial and error, the answer was discovered by Google searching "Sewn meat 1987," which led to the artwork Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic by Jana Sterbak. Entering "Vanitas" into the answer field solved the Essence, though later the Essence was changed so that only the full name of the artwork of "Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic" would solve it.
Upon solving the Essence an audio file played to congratulate those who answered correctly. The audio file's name was TYKFHNQ.mp3, which detectives noticed could be plugged into the Lorenz cipher from earlier and decoded to say "GOODJOB".
Welcome, to all of you sharks schooling in the dark, it's me, your remora. If you're listening to this, you are a valued patron. One of the elite. You have vision and taste. You've passed the first ring to my inner circle, and if I can only convince you not to kill me for one more day, then we might just become the very best of friends. If you are listening to this, you've come for the new and improved Tender. You might remember the last disasterous incarnation of our amazing app. The frightful panic of our GDC event, the shut down of our after-party. Those wild conspiracy stories posted at Trust No More. That was the night that Malcolm Chandler and his moment of perfect triumph was outed by an unlikely enemy. Then, the rest of you Kindreds swooped in and Malcolm was torn apart, tooth and claw. I felt that. It felt a little like heartbreak, and a lot like satisfaction. And here we are. Those of us left in Malcolm's bloody chum wake have to tread water as best we can, and so I keep moving. If I stop, I drown. And so, Tender is now mine and I earned it, the things I did, the things you made me do. Tender 2.0. I have distilled Malcolm's lumbering dream down to it's more elegant essence. No more grand plots of mind control. No more allusions to MK-Ultra. Nothing so ridiculously maniacal. No, nothing but meta-data, taken from others and brewed into sustenance and success for your kind. Information theft is a crime that humankind has already casually accepted. Even now, your data is being leeched by the very device you are engaging me with. So, let's begin. You've shown yourself worthy, and so we can trade. I trust you'll enjoy the vintage of your first sample. In return, I require some of your vintage, sealed in an airtight container and shipped to me fresh, or without ever seeing sun. That is how transactions will occur. All of you have a choice to make. Will you allow my proposed market to exist? But, don't decide yet. This is just the beginning. I have more to show you. To proceed, you'll have to humor a few more of my diversions. Indulge me, the first I made easy, but do try and keep up with the rest. And, do try and take caution, and care. Sun's coming up.
Shortly after Essence #02 unlocked on December 15th, Clue 02 of Essence #01 was updated to instead link to 4 Stones Vegetarian, a Taiwanese restaurant in British Columbia. This was later confirmed to be a mistake. This clue was intended to be an additional clue for Essence #02, rather than a change to Essence #01, and shortly before the solving of Essence #02, clue 02 was reverted back to the image of meat.
On December 15th at 5:30pm PST, the Blood for Trade website was briefly inaccessible. When it returned to normal, Essence #02 was unlocked for solving, with three clues.
C01 led to an article from Masonry Magazine titled "All About the Art and Science of Stone Carving".
C02 led to a Google Maps search for the address 2601 Clements Ferry Rd. The establishment previously located at this address was Four IV Stones Restrobar.
C03 led to the IMDB page for a collection of short films from 2016 called "Follow IV". The end of the URL also contains the code to a Youtube video, which turned out to be an upload of the song Welcome to Japan by The Strokes.
After about 15 hours of Essence #02 being unlocked, a search for "stone iv 2016" led to an art piece called Laughing Stone IV by Japanese artist Hirotoshi Ito. Entering "Laughing Stone IV" solved the Essence.
Upon solving the Essence an audio file played to encourage those who answered correctly to keep going. The audio file's name was HPNGY9Z5QFU4OHCF8POPE.mp3. When plugged into the Lorenz cipher, it was discovered to be a lead to a Youtube video for Never Let Me Down Again by Depeche Mode.
I’ve always enjoyed strange art. That place where beauty and the grotesque bisect. I’m rather fond of this ‘Laughing Stone’ piece. It reminds me of... The second time Malcolm fed me his blood, I resisted. Malcolm did not appreciate art, except as a sort of trophy of affluence. At night, he met with one of his peers from the Old Night Society. She waxed on and on about art… He cut her off, and she was insulted. Malcolm, you see, did not recognize the danger of being disliked by all of one’s peers. Not until it literally jumped up and bit him. So, he was already in a foul mood when he commanded me forward for the feeding. I pulled away. Malcolm grabbed me by the back of my head, and pressed my mouth to his flesh so forcefully, he broke my jaw. Ground the bones. His skin was like marble. My jaw never healed quite properly, no matter how many times I break, and re-break, and reset it, it never heals properly. Heh. Such a lovely piece. Like grinding a mouth into stone. My apologies for being so maudlin tonight. I’m proud to see you all keep your focus, and dive through my little exercises. Not everyone will make it through. Kindred from 2,073 different cities contacted me so far. I’m always astounded by Tender’s global reach. Out of 4,297 RSVPs, 963 kindred confirmed they will bring blood. I was not disappointed. And 56% prefer lust as their favorite scent. I will see what I can find for you. Now, keep going. I’ll make it worth your while. And do be careful. Sun’s coming up.
At approximately 8:19pm PST, the Blood for Trade website updated to unlock Essence #03 with 3 clues. This Essence did not have a difficulty listed at first, but was later updated to have the difficulty "Calm before the Storm".
C01 was the website for The Art Institute of Chicago, a museum.
C02 was an audio file from Remora of a quote. The quote was a bible passage, specifically Isaiah 54:14.
Within less than 10 minutes the clue was solved. Googling "bacon art 1954" (using the Bible verse as a possible clue for the year) lead to an artwork called Figure With Meat by Francis Bacon. Entering "Figure With Meat" correctly solved the Essence.
Upon solving Essence #03, players were again greeted with an audio file from Remora. The file name, ERLHTYKLUNGS4FXP.mp3, translated through the Lorenz cipher read "JUSTKEEPSWIMMING".
Hello. I have to keep moving. Some Kindred are not being good customers, good consumers. I had to change my place of residence again. The other night, someone was in my building. Someone that nobody could see but who showed up in the security cameras? Playing back the footage I caught a glimpse of the face. It... It looked like a charcoal drawing of a face that had been left out in the rain. Reminds me of a poem that I once read. 'Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today, I wish I wish he'd go away!' (chuckles) Isn't it silly but, I don't like the way the stray cats in the neighborhood look at me! Ridiculous yes, but, are you there now? Are you?! Show yourself! I am my own law, I am my own law, I am my own law. Hmmm. These are the sorts of things I need to be protected from, if Tender is to continue along with all the benefits it has to offer you. Many of you however are playing ball. The transactions are flowing, in fact, I'm about to open the latest payment. (drinking sounds) Ohh... It's good, it's good, it's good. (sighs) What was that? Hello? I've added something for you on Tender. A small token of gratitude. The answer you are looking for is... Regnant. Keep at it and... be careful. Sun's coming up, sun's coming up, sun's coming up.
Following this, a new quest was added to the Tender site. It was an "emotional activity" titled "Your essence is our essence." It was accompanied by audio that read the following:
We here at Tender hope you are enjoying your journey. Your continued progression is important for us. Your essence is our essence. In order to discover your real self, continue to explore your feelings. Question yourselves about the nature of anger and greed. How far would you go to satisfy your need? What would be a motivating enough factor to push you down a dark rabbit hole? A new dawn approaches. The key is a word. The word will be given to you. You will know when you have it. This key will reap the rewards you so desire. But some time may pass before the transaction is acknowledged fully.
The answer to this activity was given by Remora in the audio log, inputting "Regnant" completes the Tender quest.
At 8:15pm PST, Essence #04 unlocked, with a difficulty of Hard.
C02 went to a list of 19th century painters.
C03 led to the Wikipedia page for L'art pompier, a derisive French term for "official" academic art paintings, especially historical or allegorical ones.
It was quickly discovered William-Adolphe Bouguereau was on both the painters list and the L'art pompier Wikipedia page. Entering "Dante and Virgil in Hell", one of his paintings, while not solving the puzzle, played an audio file from Remora.
"Ah, but this time there is a second layer. I may help you a little, but you must delve much much deeper into the abyss of my fantasy. I'm very fond of this geeky fellow whose name rings like music to my ears."
Players learned that "geeky" could be a reference to Gianni Schicchi, and "music" could be a hint that they were not looking for a painting but instead an opera, and continued to enter related terms. Each term seemed to give a new response from Remora.
Entering "Gianni Schicchi" elicited the response "I have faith in you." Entering "O mio babbino caro", a soprano aria from Gianni Schicchi that takes place in Florence, got the response, "That's so very close!" Entering "Capocchio", the name of the man portrayed as being bitten in the neck by Gianni Schicchi in "Dante and Virgil in Hell" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, triggered an aggressive or annoyed "No!" Entering "Lauretta", who is a character from O mio babbino and played by an actress named Florence, received the response,
"Thank you for indulging in my little escapade; forbidden love. Mm, you're not there yet, I - I may have gotten sidetracked by some... feelings... regrets... I know that might resonate with some of you, might boil the cauldron of your heart, but for a very particular kind of customer, I should like to reference a very particular product I am offering: coffee extract, natural sleeping pills, and some very specific smelling salts."
From there, players tried various sleep supplements like melatonin, caffeine, etc., most of which were met with the response "Keep working."
Additional keywords tried sometimes led to similar responses. Sleep, Thin Blood, and elixir also led to the same "I have faith in you" that Gianni Schicchi led to. Choleric, human blood, and adrenaline also all led to "Keep working." In addition to the intially found "O mio babbino caro," it was also found that Giacomo Puccini, Giovacchino Forzano, cooking, home brew, The Craft, and mashup were found to lead to "That's so very close!"
Entering "Insomnia" elicited a calm "No." Ammonia led to a sigh, followed again by "No." Noticing that the calm "No" had the file name "fbk-no-01.mp3" and the sigh-preceded "No" had the file name "fbk-no-03.mp3", changing the file name to "fbk-no-02.mp3" led to the discovery of an aggressive or annoyed "No!" (triggered by entering "Capocchio").
A new unique phrase was discovered. Entering "Thin Blood Alchemy" triggered the response "A couple more minutes and you might just succeed."
Eventually, the answer was found. Hartshorn, caffeine, and melatonin are all potential ingredients in the 5th edition of Vampire: The Masquerade for Thin-Blood Alchemy's Awaken the Sleeper power, which can awaken other vampires from torpor. Entering "Awaken the Sleeper" solved the Essence.
Solving the essence led to another Remora audio log congratulating players for making it thus far. Once put through the Lorenz cipher, the title translated to "THE-END-IS-NIGH".
It's, it's getting treacherous out there. Dangerous times call for bold action, so, tonight I want to talk to you duskborne, you thin-bloods. Oh, they have other names for you, don't they? Names that are less courteous. Maybe you feel the weight of their scorn, maybe you long to sink your fangs into the heels of those who would tread upon you. I think we can help each other. You see, I know something about your blood alchemy, I know you require blood of a powerful and specific emotional resonance. Just the sort of thing that Tender's algorithms are perfect for finding and cultivating. You, more than any other group, could benefit most from Tender. I also know you require other lard and esoteric ingredients. I'm looking to expand Tender from a tool of social connection to also include the delivery of physical items. Imagine, any arcane ingredient you require at a moment's notice. The others might look down on you, but to me, you are a new and exciting market. You are a future just waiting to be actualized. your needs and what I have to offer fit together like key teeth and lock tumblers. Yes, let's open that door. You and I. Now is the time to be bold, the sun is coming up!
At 1:20pm PST, a new Tender quest appeared titled "Something to Cherish". It was accompanied by an audio file that indicated we did not yet have the solution for the quest, but would receive it in due time.
We here at Tender thank you for going on this journey. You are open to change. You are open to our gifts. You are open to excellence. You are what we want. We want to take you even further. Are you ready? Close your eyes and visualize. Follow my voice. Visualize a pearl. See its perfect opalescence. Feel its soothing, smooth surface. The pearl forms around the irritant. The pearl cannot form without the irritant. Tribulation excites potential. Remove the irritant and you remove your ultimate potential. Let us in. You are so close. Let us in. Do not remove the grain of sand. Let us in. Do not remove the irritant. Together we can form the pearl of actualization. The answer is not here. You will know the answer at the proper time.
At around 1:30pm PST, Essence #05 unlocked for attempts at solving.
C01 was a link to an audio file from Remora, who said, "Good evening to all of you sharks. Do you feel that? We are at the precipice. My business depends on your niche patronage. So, we have a decision to make. You have 24 hours to vote and decide it all. You have all been admirably diligent - gathering over 15,000 points for the final vote. And so Tender will reach out to you with a survey. Consider all that you've seen. Cast your vote - and good luck"
C02 led to an image of Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, a Russian chemist and inventor who formulated Periodic Law and created the precursor to today's periodic table of elements.
C03 led to a survey from Tender that would be open for 24 hours. The survey seemed to be a mix of in-universe and out-of-character questions.
1. Did you enjoy this small experiment so far? (Rate 1-4 hearts) 2. How are you feeling right now? A) Melancholy about what is to end... B) Excited about what is to be! C) Itchy for more 3. Would you recommend this heightened reality to a friend? Y) Yes N) No 4. What is your Tender username? (Optional - Lore Rewards) Type your answer here... "You have collected 15k vote points by sharing content. As a direct result, you have unlocked the following options. Please answer carefully..." 5. Do you accept the offer to trade through this new service? Y) Yes N) No 6. What do you think about a specific fish? A) It should be allowed to swim freely B) It's fine, as long as it stops wagging its fins so publicly C) It should hide in a hole to avoid being eaten by a shark 7. Will you use Tender for all of your dining needs? Y) Yes N) No 8. What is your comfortable commitment level towards Tender? A) Cautious B) Optimistic C) Devoted 9. What would you like to see in future Tender updates? Type your answer here... 10. Some of our quests on Tender may be challenging. How was the Overall Difficulty Level? A) Way too easy B) Perfect C) Little too hard D) I'm still shaking... but I like it 11. Do you have any message you want to leave our Tender development team? Type your answer here...
Users quickly evaluated that the vote Remora was referring to in his audio log was for question 6 of the survey, the one it appears would determine his fate.
Starting off with the Mendeleev clue and the periodic table of elements, many individual elements gave the voice response of simply "No" from Remora, indicating this would work much like Essence #04. However, one element gave a different answer - Uranium. Entering "Uranium" elicited a "Yes, good!" which started as the main trail for which direction to go.
Using other nuclear-related clues, certain keywords like "Nagasaki" and "Little Boy" also received a "Yes, good!" while "Hiroshima" and "Fat Man" curiously returned nothing. Knowing it must be something to do with nuclear weapons, the first part of the answer was discovered. Entering "Manhattan Project" got the first unique response of length from Remora. "Your nerves remain steady, figuring out how to operate in the dark... Before we take this further, a quick nod to all of you veteran Tender members out there. Capital Victor, capital papa, Mike, kilo, capital x-ray, alpha, capital yankee, capital tango."
Veteran Tender members recognized the code VPmkXaYT to be the end of a pastebin URL. The pastebin URL contained two more clues.
C05 was for a Google image search for "Francisco Water", and at the end of the URL it contained an additional hint: "Too much water, help, need air".
Going off of clue 04, using the keywords of John Singleton and shark, a painting called Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley was found. Entering "Watson and the Shark" returned the next unique audio response from Remora. "Ahhh, Watson and the Shark. I'm rather fond of this one. A perfect moment of horror, frozen and captured, and yet, when I look upon it, all I see is hope. A boy is brutally savaged by a shark, yet, he escapes the bloody waters and lives on to become the Lord Mayor of London. I look at the painting and I feel like I just might be able to pull this whole thing off. I can do anything, the sun beams down upon me. Fortune becomes my ally. She smiles at me. I feel the ascendant peak of my power."
Following clue 05, doing a Google image search for "Francisco drowning" leads to results for the Francisco Goya painting "Drowned Dog." Entering "Drowned Dog" gives us the next audio log from Remora. "The Drowning Dog... A brute beast at the mercy of its master. It struggles in vain against the cold uncaring waters. Often I feel that I cannot pull this off, I can't survive this. The stars are aligned against me, the deck is stacked, losing is inevitable, the moon glowers down at me... The mathematical probability of success is ludicrous against the powers arrayed against me! You're all against me! I just want to be heard. My proposal weight on it's own fucking merits! I want to be humored, my offered libations valued. I want your indulgence."
With the clues themselves solved, hints from Remora's audio log were used to follow his lead to the next audio log. Using words that stood out from the audio logs from clues 04 and 05, searching "fortune indulgence" led to the Wikipedia page for Fortuna, where "Fortuna Obsequens" was found to be the "fortune of indulgence". Entering "Fortuna Obsequens" brought the next response from Remora. "You know I... I still think about her often. Two things I want to say about that. One, it wasn't my fault. Malcolm fed me three times. And then it was like I could hear the voice of God surging in my veins telling me what I had to do. You all might judge me, burn me at the stake, but I only did what the God voice of Malcolm's blood commanded. (sigh) Persecution complex? Perhaps. Two, I remember when Malcolm used me to persecute another. I helped him crush her, but, impossibly, she perservered. She worked against Malcolm, becoming a very paragon of a detective. She would have done the first of her kind proud, someone of grace buried in the land of Chicago, at least, according to the diary of a very intrepid Kindred, one that Malcolm was fond of reading before he died for the last time." This audio log seems to confirm the suspicions that Remora's true identity is actually none other than Jobe Preston, CTO of Tender, Malcolm Chandler's ghoul and right-hand man.
From here a few logs were found in an effort to try and find who Remora was talking about. Entering "Angela" elicited the response "I'm sorry... I'm sorry... Are you still out there?" Entering "Outstar" returned the reply "Outstar made this all possible. I'd like to think she's rooting for me. Still, I'm wary of her fangs."
Using the clues regarding the "other" he helped Malcolm persecute, players were able to find that the first female detective in the US was Kate Warne, who is buried in Chicago. She is also mentioned in Beckett's Jyhad Diary. He writes, "I will sleep the day away in the grave soil of Kate Warne (1833-1868), the first female private detective in the United States. I like to keep good company." Entering "Kate Warne" gives us the more clear next step, with another response from Remora. "Yes, you know the half of it. To me she represents the wisdom and strategy of Athena, the judicious use of gathered intelligence. I do hope someone will review my situation and step forward to cast the deciding vote to save me. Someone to lead us all into a more enlightened way of doing things."
Finally, this audio log contained the clues that lead to the answer of the essence. In Greek Mythology, Orestes is saved by Athena during a trial when she votes for his acquittal. Entering "Orestes" solves the essence and gives the final audio log.
I can hear your murmuring out there. The night has a thousand tongues. Kindred young and old, deciding what to do, what do to... First off, let me thank you for your time and participation. Thank you for the data you've helped me gather. Data I can put to use for the both of us. I do hope that in the course of my diversions, you caught at least a hint at what Tender and I might do for you. I wanted to know if enough of you could resist the inertia of eternity so that you might see a whole new way of doing things. You've proved to me that you can. Kindred from 2608 cities have taken part in Tender. Hmmm, I know my time might be short, I know you are all circling, I sense it in every rat in my wall, every bird pecking at my window, every blank-eyed dupe walking past my door. I see it in empty spaces that seem to overflow with nothingness. You all live in a society of monolithic hierarchies, I know I know, but tonight those of you on lower rungs have an equal voice, in this at the very least, your voice, your vote, your input could decide everything. Does my market live? Does it die? Consider, please what would happen if I was rudely yanked out from under this towering pile of secrets. I wish you all a very merry holiday. As always, I am your remora. I may be many things, but I am a man of my word. I told you this would be worth your while. A reward is waiting for you on Tender from me to you. I offer you this code. I wish you ravenous revelry on this the longest night of the year. It will be quite some time before the sun comes up.
This also gave the answer to the Tender "Something to Cherish" quest, which will take "Solstice" or "Winter Solstice" as an answer.
On December 20th, the day before the final essence was set to unlock, a new article was posted on TrustNoMore at 11:08 PST. It was titled "FIRSTLIGHT Document" but was protected by a password. Within 10 minutes the document was unlocked thanks to knowledge of Vampire: The Masquerade lore. Within VtM, FIRSTLIGHT is an agency within the Second Inquisition, a union of secret service hunters, dedicated to keeping their activities completely hidden from all. Within official briefings, they do not refer to vampires as such, and refer to them instead as "blankbodies," a reference to their low body temperature. Once one person entered "blankbodies" for the password, it unlocked for everyone to read.
CLASSIFICATION: TOP SECRET//FIRSTLIGHT//REL TO FVEY, RUS, VAT, FRA, BRA FROM: Whisper Division TO: FIRSTLIGHT General Distribution SUBJECT: Recording E-772 (excerpt) The recent batch of recordings are still being transcribed. We’ve highlighted this small excerpt for consideration — a conversation between two confirmed blankbodies. An audio anomaly distorts the voice of one of the subjects beyond recognition. The audio files are currently being worked on to see if that distortion might be cleaned up. Full transcripts to follow. ***** Blankbody #1: Entertaining? Sure. But I don’t like it. Blankbody #2: [distorted voice] Blankbody #1: Precisely. Why hasn’t anyone stopped him, eh? Blankbody #2: [distorted voice] Blankbody #1: That’s what I’m saying. A regnant-bereft ghoul teasing and taunting on the internet, pawing us with this ludicrous market. And during these times! London. Vienna. Fully-toothed whelps are getting dusted for less. So I ask again, why hasn’t anyone stopped him? Blankbody #2: [distorted voice] Blankbody #1: Or… or he has support. A shadow patron. Maybe he knows about it, maybe he doesn’t, but I think someone is protecting him. Blankbody #2: [distorted voice] Blankbody #1: Ever watch footage of aquatic predators circling? The pattern breaks and they flit away when something bigger comes along. So what has the rest of us subconsciously shying away from this ghoul and giving him a wide berth? Blankbody #2: [distorted voice] Blankbody #1:[chuckles] There’s a thought to keep you up during the day.