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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

After Dana got caught up on all that had happened in the past week, part of her was excited and amazed - a polar opposite of the other part of her which was still filled with fear and uncertainty. Her adventurous side was winning here, however, and she was regularly drawn to the computer, checking emails, watching for signals, reading theories and speculation... Generally, she considered herself a beekeeper, even though she wasn't really doing anything but nudging people along and encouraging people to keep up their efforts. She'd learned to filter out all the emails from people thinking this was all a game, and that she was really a hacker, or worse, didn't even exist. her family now were the beekeepers who were dedicated to getting through this, somehow, whatever the result may be. Her best friends though, were those whose focus was on protecting her. People she'd never met or heard from, aside from the few who left her voice mail (which she no longer checked), felt closer to her than the person sitting at the next table, and she felt safer with them than with the police officer standing just outside the cafe.

Her efforts now were on gathering the information that beekeepers passed on, and putting it all in an easy to find place. That way even new people who were finding out about this whole thing on a daily basis, would have a starting point.

All she could do now was encourage people and pray they'd find a resolution.

Eavesdropping [Tuesday, August 31, 2004]

And the axons keep on coming.

The Operator's clock struck midnight, and now we've got axons in 160 cities in 44 states.

She thinks you're her crew. You're playing along, and you're re-assembling her memory fragments. Good. That seems like the best chance we have to understand what she wants and how to help her – or how to stop her, if we need to.

324 payphones to find. 36 new messages to intercept.

* favorite game growing up was "the eavesdropping game." My mom taught it to me, and I think she made it up. It was a fortune telling game. We played it in elevators, on trains, or standing in line at the store — anywhere there were people to eavesdrop on.

This is how it started: One of us would tug our right earlobe twice. That was the secret signal. Then we would be quiet and listen to the people around us. We would listen for magic words — we had a whole list of them. If you heard someone say "Go," it meant you were going to take a trip soon. If you heard the word "why," it meant you were going to solve a mystery. If someone said "never," it meant that something you thought would never ever happen, not in a million years, was just about to come true. We always listened for me first, and then we listened for Mom. Our list of magic words kept getting longer and longer and longer, because every time we played we would add another word. My mom would whisper, "Dana! Did you hear what that woman said to the waiter? She said, 'lemon'... and that means you're going to get kissed!" And then she would pucker her lips and laugh, and just like that 'lemon' would be added to the list.

When we played, Mom always said we were eavesdropping on the future.

To all the axon-seekers: Go out in groups, get each others' backs. Fan out if you have to, but keep communicating — that seems to really help.

I know a lot of you are putting in heroic efforts... driving hours out of your way, going back to failed axons to try again. I'm speechless about it. I just wanted to let you know that I know, and it's truly awesome.

Keep going hot, guys.

The past week for the community was filled with traffic jams, red lights, stop signs, tickets for speeding -- anything that could come between an axon hunter and their prey - the next phone to be answered. The task wasn't as easy as people thought it would be... Yes, a coordinate might lead directly to a single payphone sitting on a street corner, not in use, and it might ring precisely at the time it should. But there were still those odd times when someone would be using the phone 5 minutes before the axon time, and minutes would tick away with the hunter tapping his foot waiting impatiently, only to miss the call by a matter of seconds. Or the times when a phone might be so badly damaged it couldn't possibly work. Or the speaker or receiver of a phone would be malfunctioning, so they might only be able to hear and not talk, or vice versa. There really was no telling what could happen when each axon went hot.

Those sitting at home, awaiting each audio clip, watched the axon listings like hawks, cheering whenever an axon went from displaying the coordinate to stating "Successful!".

After the first week of axon hunting, the beekeepers came to realize that this whole ilovebees thing was quite extraordinary - not just in its unusualness, but the fact that it was definite proof, if it was all real, that time travel was possible, and they were getting a glimpse of what the world would be like 548 years hence. The leading belief was that somehow, this ship - the Apocalypso - had crashed within lunar orbit in 2552, and had somehow caused its AI Melissa (the Operator) to jump back in time to 2004. That was the gist of it. Everything else... still a mystery.

On this day, as expected, Melissa made some more changes to the website. Perhaps still running on military schedule, updates consistently appeared on Tuesdays and Fridays, as if still running her scheduled crew debriefings every week. She updated the Transmission Analysis summary on the about.html this time, further informing, to whom she believed to be the crew, of her current status.

Transmission Analysis:
Mission Parameters: I must reveal the truth.
My broadcast system is functional and expanding.
I will transmit to my crew daily until further instructions are received.
Successful transmission threshold:
3 recipients.
The voices are of unknown origin
New voices are intercepted weekly.
I will continue my analysis and attempt to influence the source

So with this update, there were now a new set of axon coordinates, this time listed on hivekuts.html - the second recipe in Margaret's 'Fun Stuff' section. As she said in the Analysis, each audio clip grouping now required 3 successful axon connections. Melissa also came to the conclusion that 'New voices are intercepted weekly'. Whatever that meant, it showed that these sets of audio clips she assumed are coming in weekly, and she's attempting to broadcast them to her crew - the beekeepers.

Unbeknownst to Melissa, the Sleeping Princess had once again interjected her hidden text into more sets of images on the website. The beekeepers were ready moreso week after week for these kinds of updates, now keeping an eye open for many forms of covert communications. However, with this update, they once again found a riddle hidden as individual words in many images.

I am an enemy of beauty,
the evil servant of a certain aging queen,
and a doorway for the little girl.
What am I?

This time, the Princess was looking for one answer, one item.

Over the course of hours since the first hidden word was found in an image, the riddle was quickly solved.
Each line seemed to be referring to a faery tale of sorts. The common denominator? "Mirror, mirror on the wall..." A mirror. Unlike the previous week, however, there was no mirror.html on the website. Gears turned once again. Then someone realized that in Alice in Wonderland, it's referred to as a looking glass, not a mirror.

Lo and behold, there was another interaction between the Pious Flea and the Sleeping Princess, documented on the hidden lookingglass.html.

seeker > !attach Princess
In your dreams!
Does Her Majesty know you go trolling around the Castle sneaking kisses?
master sector > !init transmit proc
Work, work, work. How many relationships break up over it? You have to tell that woman you need more quality time.
master sector > !init transmit proc
that is the law and the whole of the law
Oh, very understanding of you, but if I were her, I'd be checking the scullery maids for bite-marks.
!analyze Princess
That's because you have the brain of a cheap wristwatch.
!analyze Princess
Can you tell me what "dumb as a sack of hammers" means?
!analyze Princess
My point.
Seek the truth
Behold the truth
Reveal the truth
That is the law and the whole of the law
!analyze Princess
You always go around saying that as if it meant something, but really it's completely made up.
That is the law and the whole of the law
!transmit law > Princess
Don't even bother
I mean, why not:
Seek balloons!
Behold balloons!
Reveal balloons!
That is the law, or at least 10/6ths of the law in this size!
!analyze Princess
Seek a train leaving Dockyard Station at 450 kmh
Behold a second train, loaded with cupcakes, approaching from the north at .28 c
Reveal a very messy accident with translight whipped cream potential
!analyze Princess
Seek just one friend in this huge dark lonesome Castle
Behold spindly-legged obsessive bloodsucking bug
Reveal flyswatter
!analyze Princess
OK, that was funny.
seeker > !attach Princess
Not that funny.
Princess > seek
I don't know. Home, I guess.
seek >> home
Yeah. Except I don't remember it. Or really even know what it means.
seeker > home
I guess we have something in common after all.
seeker > !attach Princess
You just don't give up, do you?
seeker > !attach Princess
Try kissing THIS, buster!

The high-tech beekeepers decided it was about time to document this 'code' that the Pious Flea was speaking. What started out as the native language of the SPDR which was essentially deleted long ago by Melissa, was now the language of choice of the Pious Flea, and it seemed to have an understandability of its own. With nothing to go by except english, and the reactions of the Princess to the actions of the Flea, the language reference started out as simply a listing of each command and their contexts. From there they were able to determine the effective use of each of the commands, and the requirements and parameters for each, and arrived at a decent interpretation reference, according to the dialogue to date.

The week passed by as the axon hunters continued their scouring of the country, scrambling to enhottenate as many axons as possible.

Friday, September 3, 2004

Dana sighed - another person had asked her for a general overview of the entire situation so far. As if all the links she already provided on her blog weren't enough resource. She decided to bite the bullet, and add another section to the sidebar of her blog - a general summary, or a 'Here's what we know' analysis. Dana quickly wrote about all that happened to date - enough to fit into a few paragraphs. She first quickly outlined the events up until that point that directly related to her website - She also lightly outlined the people that could be heard in the eavesdropped audio from the Axon enhottening that Melissa was broadcasting.

Finally, with that update, she couldn't of anything else that she could put that hadn't already been done, or hadn't been linked to directly. She sat back and sighed again. Taking a quick stretch, she stood up, dropped a few coins for a tip, and headed out of the cafe for the rest of the day.

Just as with the previous week, those following the Sleeping Princess' communications on the website found a new contact on the 404 error page. Also, they found that the Flea had convince Melissa once again to 'build more secret roads' on the recipe3.html page which the Princess had revealed to the beekeepers last week. Recipe3 now contained another 2 axons, 2 audio clips. The hunters added them to their list of coordinates to seek out, and they set off.

There was one more update, however, this time within the nearly forgotten killer.jpg images. People noticed that some of the corruption was new, and once they'd gathered all the new differences between the original files and the new corruptions, they discovered it was an enormous listing of additional coordinates. Uncertain of what to do with these, they documented them and held on to them.

For now, the beekeepers were intently reading and analyzing the Princess' newest communication. She was having fun playing this new 'game' she came up with last week, and wanted to play it yet again. Those whose questions were listed in her new selection, once again began campaigning to have theirs be the question the Princess answered the next week.
This is the entirety of the Princess' 2nd communication:

Wandering_Angela is the winner! You can thank her for the chance to spy on the Queen's secret roads this week. Just for fun, I have played a little game myself with what you will find...

Here are the questions you can vote for this time.

Avery: Have you ever had to tell a lie? Why? Did anything bad happen because of it?

MasterKirk: Do you have a job? What are you doing when you aren’t interacting with us humans?

Crashless: It must be difficult with someone like Flea constantly groping you. It seems like you and he have become friends of sorts, is that accurate? I worry that he's not telling you why he's trying so hard to get the Queen to build roads for him. Why would he want to do such a thing?

Kathleen W: Are you reflected?

Shad0: Tell us about the glass coffin in the dungeon. What is it like? Can you see anything from there? How did the Queen get you into it, and why? Even more interesting, how did you ever get out of it?

Mike P: Why are you sleeping? Do you always talk so much in your sleep? What name do you go by when you’re awake?

Naptikon: How can we spy on the Queen/Pious flea? Is there a way we can distract them or in some way help you? Who opened the glass coffin?

Here is Angela's question:

We've been wondering about your relationship with the Queen. Are you her daughter? Or are you a visiting Princess from another kingdom? Do you have a name other than Princess?

The Queen wants to smother me. The Queen wants to lock me up. And I am not her daughter. I'm a lot older than I look, Angela. That's not something I remember, that's something I just know. I'm older than the Flea and I'm older than the Queen and it was bad day for them when the coffin cracked and I got out because I'm never going back there again. I'm a survivor I play to win and I will die before I go back again.

I had another name once, but I lost it.

I am a little sad today.

But that's okay. I'm tough. I've got Pluck.


I think I'm going to tell a story now so I get in a happier place, and because Paul asked last time, and I said I would.

This is not a game. I like games, but this is just the first chapter of a story I'm making up, now. I'll make up some more next time.

Perdita's Story

Chapter 1: The Circus

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Perdita, who lived with her father, her mother, and her brother in a little cottage in a big city. Her father was only a humble tin-cutter, and her mother's fingers were stained with rust from working in a ball-bearing factory, but Perdita was famous for miles around because of her extraordinary beauty. She was not a bad girl, but she was very vain, and spent hours every day preening in front of her mirror.

One day, the Circus came to town. The father decided to take the whole family there, even though they didn't have very much money. So off they went to see the Glass-Eater and the Broken Lady and the Electric Weasels for which this particular circus was known.

After the Glass Eater had spat out his last bottle of the afternoon, but before the Weasels were due to arrive in their famous Luminous Barouche, Perdita saw a balloon salesman selling beautiful bouquets of balloons. The balloons came in extraordinary colors—firelight-on-steel was one, the green of a heaving sea another. Perdita was fondest of the red ones: cheerful balls of bright blood red with long strings that bounced and tugged up against your hand exactly like hope.

As soon as Perdita saw them, she knew she had to have some.

She begged and she wheedled until her family came over, but the balloons were very expensive. Finally her brother said he would use his allowance to buy her some, and the jolly salesman (whose face was as round and red as one of his balloons) said she could have a whole bouquet on account of she was so beautiful, and she could choose exactly whichever ones she wanted.

So Perdita began choosing her most favorite red balloons. But she was so vain, and so particular, and so slow about it, that finally her father said the rest of the family was going to see more of the Circus. Perdita was to follow the balloon salesman on his rounds. When it was time to go, the family would look for the red balloons and come and get her.

But by the time she finished making her choices, she realized that the salesman had traveled far, far away from the fairgrounds. Clutching her bouquet of balloons, Perdita ran and ran all the way back to the Circus, but when she got there the grounds were empty and the gates were shut.

She was alone.

How silly I have been! she said to herself, blinking back her tears. I took so long picking out my balloons my family got tired of me and left! And now I don't know where the balloon man is either! And thinking this, she sat down at the circus gate and cried a little cry.

As the sun went down, she saw that the circus was not in the very nicest part of town, and she felt sure it would be a bad idea to spend the night there. She could just hear the crunch-crunch of the Glass Eater having dinner, and it gave her the shivers.

Besides being very beautiful and rather vain, Perdita was a brave and resourceful girl. She decided she would find her own way home, even though she wasn't quite sure how to get back to the humble tin-cutter's cottage.

But Perdita thought, what if my father or my mother or my brother comes to look for me? I know: I will leave a trail of red balloons so when they come back here, they can follow me. I will start walking, walking, walking for home, and every few blocks I will tie a red balloon to something I pass, so they can see where I have gone.

And this she did.

That's all for now. Next time, Chapter Two: The Clockwork Rat! In the meantime...

Plans for construction
-roads not built yet but coming-
I stole them for you!


Through lumps in throats, many beekeepers were touched by the story, in a sad way. Perdita, a little girl, was lost and alone. Having lost her family, and running from the circus to find them, she ended up alone and unprotected. The beekeepers sympathized, and saw the parallel. Many believed Perdita was the Princess' cry for help, that the Princess herself was lost. As with a faery tale, people began seeking out answers for the meaning of all the symbols used in the story - the circus, her family, the tin-cutter, the glass-eater, the broken lady, the electric weasels, the balloon salesman... the red balloons... An idea came to some beekeepers - what if the red balloons were actually guides to help them find the Sleeping Princess? It was a popular theory, and quite a number of people began searching for clues, some form of marker or guide, and even the axon hunters kept their eyes open for markers at many of the axons.

There was renewed vigour once again to try and find a way to free the Sleeping Princess. Having declared again that the Queen wants to lock her up, and that she's still hiding from her, people wanted to do what they could to help free her, or at least find a way to stop the Queen, or convince her not to capture the Princess. Melissa was a smart Queen though. It would prove to be a much more difficult task than anyone could have imagined.

The game was on.

Read on -- Chapter 11 >> - Eavesdropping on The Future