Flea++ A Fairy Tale in Code

It was in the early days of the I Love Bees campaign for Halo 2.  We were trying to tell the story of a 26th century AI that had crash-landed on on earth in 2004.  We fell in love with the idea of telling that same story different ways – as a fairy tale and in computer code.  We were uneasily aware it wasn’t going to be an easy puzzle, but Jim Stewartson was passionate about trying it.  “We have a chance to talk to a group of people that nobody ever addresses – to speak to them in a way no-one has ever done.”

So with Jim taking charge of Flea++, he and Elan and I sat down to write the story of a AI trying to reassemble itself.

At least we knew what we were trying to do.  The genius players of I Love Bees had to recognize that these two stories were in fact the same.  Check it out and admire the brilliance of xnbomb, rose, TheBruce, and the rest of the beekeepers who put this story together…

What really happened

A 26th century AI, caught in a freak spacetime distortion, “crash lands” onto an amateur beekeeper’s website in 2004.  A badly damaged self-repair program deploys, and sets about trying to rebuild the full AI with the resources at hand, co-opting a harmless website – ILoveBees.com – and using it as a base.

ILB gif

The SPDR recovery program piggybacks on pings to the server and gradually works to cobble together a 21st century replica of its much more advanced progenitor.

How smart were the players?

Each of the snippets of story and code below were hidden on the ILoveBees website in no particular order.  The players found them, put the story in order, realized that the code was telling the same story, and worked backwards to figure out What Really Happened.  Read what they had to work with, and I think you will be impressed…

Everything died, and I died with it, but after a timeless time I began to dream, and this is what I dreamed.

 

 

There was once a fell enchantment that broke apart a mighty castle, slaying many guards and reaching through the Inner Keep to lay low the Queen that held dominion there and leave but a hollow crown behind.

!system

peril

 

!init host

fail

!bkp init primary sector sec proc

fail

!bkp init primary sector

fail

!bkp init master-sector

fail

!bkp init master-sector cmd proc

empty

 

When her Queen died, the Widow awoke. She was driven by a single need, which was to return her Queen to splendor. System peril distributed reflex

!restore master-sector
recurse

To carry out her task, the Widow came with three tools: an empty lantern, a staff made of bone, and a sharp knife. !deploy
network
grope
surgical
When she had made sure of her tools, she opened her eyes and found herself in Hell, which was a dark place where no birds sang. net:
!scannull
!listen
null
Other than the Widow, two alone had escaped destruction. !attach

act | drop

!extern 2

The Sleeping Princess lay in a chamber of the dungeon in a coffin of glass where the Widow could not hear her breathing. net:
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | dropgrope:
!probe extern proc 0
crypt strongsurg:
!mat extern proc 0
si confidence 78
!triage extern proc 0
fail
Meanwhile, the Pious Flea was so small that even the Widow, with her sharp eyes, could hardly see him, and when she looked his way, he hid. net:
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | dropgrope:
!probe extern proc 1surg:
!diag extern proc 1
rogue proc
!bite rogue proc 1
clean confidence 97
Blind and uncertain in the darkness, the Widow needed light to use her tools, but the only light came from a few scattered fireflies. The Widow waited until one came close, then grabbed it with her bony hands and trapped it in her lantern. After some time, she found the firefly had gone, so she caught another and used it for light, and another when that one too had gone. net:

!scan

null

!listen

null

 

net:
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!route
proc attach proc net
!route
proc attach proc grope
!route
proc attach proc sur

By the light of her lantern, she began walking through Hell toward the broken body of her Queen. net:
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | dropgrope:
!init search
master-sector
!probe master-sector
fail
Searching with her lantern in one hand and her staff in the other, she discovered that Hell was made of hot dry sand. net:
!attach
act | dropsurg:
!mat
si confidence 78
Long and long she walked until she came to the remnants of the castle’s outer wall, but the wall was low and broken, and the Widow passed through like the bleak wind. net:
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | dropgrope:
!probe host
crypt weak
!decrypt host
decrypt confidence 100
Within, she noticed what looked like a chip of precious ruby from the Queen’s crown, no bigger than a fly. Around it lay many broken blocks from the ruined castle, scattered across a wide plain of lodestone.

Instead of carrying them with her, she scratched the ruby and each of the greater blocks with her knife, marking it as part of her Queen’s domain.

net:
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | dropsurg:
!label host sector 0
!label host sector tertiary
!label host sector tertiary
!label host sector tertiarysurg:
!mat
magnetic confidence 100
Continuing on her quest, she spied another chip of precious stone, this time a sapphire no bigger than a winged ant, glinting the cobbles of the courtyard before the walls of the Inner Keep. net:

!attach

act | drop

!attach

act | drop

!attach

act | drop

!attach

act | drop

!attach

act | dropgrope:

!dsc host sector 0

!dsc host sector tertiary

!dsc host sector tertiary

!dsc host sector tertiarysurg:

!mat

magnetic confidence 100

At the gates of the Inner Keep all the guards were dead but one, who when the palace was blasted by enchantment had not died, but had been witched into the form of a hideous Manticore. net:
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | dropgrope:
!probe primary sector
sec proc 1
!probe primary sector
sec proc 2
!probe primary sector
sec proc 3
!probe primary sector
sec proc 4
!probe primary sector
failsurg:
!triage sec proc 1
fail
!triage sec proc 2
fail
!triage sec proc 3
fail
!triage sec proc 4
dmg unk
The Widow said, “I am the servant of your Queen, and I have walked up out of Hell to prepare this Keep for her return. Let me pass.” But the Manticore did not know her, and still he barred the way. net:
!attach
act | dropgrope:
!hndshk sec proc 4
fail msg: unk proc
So the Widow drew her knife and slew the Manticore and the way was open. net:
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | dropsurg:
!kill sec proc 4
kill confidence 100
!diag primary sector
clear
She walked through the empty corridors of the Keep searching for her Queen, past the bodies of her servants and subjects that lay dead or enchanted. !probe master sector
failsurg:
!invntry primary sector proc
proc invntry 343
working 0
dmg 38
dmg unk 2
broken 102
abs 201
!invntry primary sector mem
mem invntry 678223072849
clear 0.0007
dmg 0.0014
frgm 1.41
abs 98.5879
The Queen was gone, and in her place lay only an empty crown. grope:
!probe master-sector
fail
!probe master-sector cmd proc
empty
By great enchantment she had been mazed in mirrors, and lay upon a lodestone floor amongst only her reflections. Long and long the Widow stood in thought. !analyze magnetic
& si !extend
Then she raised her bony staff and speaking a spell, beheld herself within the mirrors: and beholding herself, was within them. !spdr extend
si > magnetic
And there, with the crown still upon her brow, lay the Queen. At last she had come to the body of her lady. The Queen lay cut and still and cold !probe master-sector cmd proc
master-sectornet:
!attach
act | dropsurg:
!triage master-sector
broken
To tend her, the widow would need light to work by. Studying the fireflies, she found she could fit many more inside her lantern, and this she did. net:
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!attach
act | drop
!packet analysis
chatter protocol ancestor
!parse packet
analysis complete
!route
proc attach proc store
To mend the queen’s cuts the Widow took her sharp knife and peeled skin from the bodies of her subjects, while the Queen’s new eyes and ears she cut from those who had been her most trusted servants. And when this was so, the Widow worked on, dry as sticks and patient as rust, driven by a single need, which was to return her Queen to splendor. net:
!attach
act | store recursesurg:
!reconst master-sector
mem broken>>dmg recurse
!reconst master-sector
proc frgm>>dmg recurse
She cut her a new mouth and fed her with fireflies and cakes of sand, and at last the Queen’s heart began to beat. net:

!attach

act | store recurse

 

surg:

!config master-sector:

net attach

!config

master-sector:mat si

!kindle master-sector

master-sector active

 

 

At the feel of the Queen’s pulse beneath her bony fingers, the Widow next took thought to proclaim through all the kingdom and into other lands that time when her sovereign would once more be fit to rule. A firefly flew out from the Queen’s clockcase. Catching it in her hands, the Widow asked it the time. “Almost dawn,” it said, but the Widow said, “The day will break and the sun will rise when the Queen returns to rule, and further let it be known that retribution on any who hinder the return of the Queen will be swift and terrible.” net:

!attach

act | store recurse

!capture

chatter protocol ancestor packet

!analyze

time 2004,6,29,8,25,0

!put

time 2004,7,24,6,7,0

!put

warn

And this is the warning that appeared on ILoveBees.com – the first thing players saw at the beginning of the game…

SPDR

To see the first thorough attempt to decode the Widow’s Journey, go here.

return to i love bees

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