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Receda Cube.jpg

The Receda Cube, a priceless artifact of scientific and spiritual significance to the Perplex City citizens, was stolen from the Academy. Discovering more about the theft, identifying the culprits and locating the Cube on Earth was our primary objective, until it was discovered on 04-FEB-07.

The Night Of The Theft

The search for the Receda Cube on Earth

The ball is a grandiose celebration of the Academy, and everything it stands for. The Founder's Ball honours the grand champion of the Perplex City Academy Games as well, and on the night in question that was Ryan Cahill. Guests arrived via Gatehouse 1 around 7:38 PM. Season 1 Card #229 - Ball Night informs us of the course of the evening's events. "During the ball, each of the five events occurred in a different place, featured its own speaker, took a different amount of time, and was sponsored by a different Senior Fellow." Here is an event summary.

First, Sente Kiteway spoke at Carrick Hall during the 40 minute cocktail event, sponsored by Estelle Sedgewick.
Second, Robert Zhi-hui spoke at Kermeen Hall during the 30 minute awards event, sponsored by Hunan Mansoor.
Third, Aiko Entrescore spoke at the museum during the 60 minute art exhibit event, sponsored by Inari Ekeba.
Fourth, Anna Heath spoke outdoors during the 20 minute fireworks event, sponsored by Sanjean Adamek.
Fifth, Camryn Scott spoke in the Noi Ballroom during the 80 minute dance event, sponsored by Margaret Wildwood.

If all events begin in rapid succession (which is highly unlikely), the schedule would look a bit like:

Sente Kiteway - 7:38-8:18
Robert Zhi-hui - 8:18-8:48
Aiko Entrescore - 8:48-9:48
Anna Heath - 9:48-10:08
Camryn Scott - 10:08-11:28

On Ball Night, (Jan 15th, 2004) when Academy security is frequently stretched to its limit, the team struck. A note which appears on Season 1 Card #146 - You Are Cordially Invited, ostensibly exchanged between the conspirators, reads:

  Electric splash
  BB, 21 to 24
  4: C, V, K, Q
  20, V to 24

This message was intercepted by Helena Frye, and interpreted to mean The "electric splash" was a sort of distraction, possibly meaning the sculptures by Aiko (described below).

The Cube was stolen sometime before 2.00 AM. Police Chief Eoin Morgan recognized that the group would have to have been "highly organized and technologically sophisticated" in order to pull off the theft. It was recognized immediately by the Academy that portions of the security system had been reprogrammed in order to allow the theft to take place, and that three different systems had, in fact, been disabled without causing alarms to trip. Kurt's friend Leo suggested it would take at least two Academy insiders to circumvent such a system.

Security guard Fran Mendling was murdered the same night, apparently because she chanced across the theft (although it remains an outside possibility that she may have been allied to the team, and aided their entry). Fran was murdered with a neuro–suppressant, which appears to have killed her instantly. This could have been a knee–jerk response to the team’s discovery, but use of a neuro–suppressant may have actually been quite deliberate, inasmuch as it effectively masked Fran’s time of death, and thus gave the thieves more cover for their activities. K may have been the killer, given her aptitude with weapons. Fellow members of the security team later discovered Fran’s body at 2 a.m. when she failed to check in for a shift change. By that time, the Cube and the thieves would appear to have been long gone.

Early on in the theft investigation, it was suggested that escape was made by way of the Catacombs, which are known to run much of the length of the City, all the way from the Old Town (near the Five of Cups and the Brotherhood Temple) to the Academy, and further out, towards the harbour/dock regions of the City. It was eventually discovered, however, this was not the case.

There are a couple of other observations to be made about the night. Aiko Entrescore, artist and puzzle-scribe for the CRT, had an exhibit at the Ball that communicated and interfered with the keys of attendees. This was met with some suspicion, but a thorough examination of the exhibit appeared to confirm that it was in no way linked to the theft's security exploits. Violet Kiteway, meanwhile, told her father she was sick with a flu-like illness and did not attend the ball. She declined a visit from a doctor.

Our Prime Suspects

Much of our early knowledge about the theft plan came from investigation of Pietro Salk, a.k.a. the Salk Logs, which are definitely worth reading. Information eventually became available after Pietro's death indicating an ancient society known as The Third Power was operating behind the scenes to coordinate the theft. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. There are four known perpetrators:

  • V (Vadik) - The operational mastermind and leader of the on-the-ground thieves.
    • Recruited the other three members.
    • Described as a "true believer" in the cause of the theft.
    • Reports to a higher boss within The Academy.
    • Recognized as Cyrus Quinton, a recording engineer for Hesh Records; This is one of his many aliases.
    • Went on to murder two of the team members, Q & K.
    • No record of his DNA on city files.
    • Also controlling operations on Earth.
  • Q (Quercus) - Known to be Bernardo Holyoke, who owned the notoriously dodgy Five of Cups bar.
    • Probably provided underworld contacts and a base of operations.
    • High-tech equipment stolen from the Academy was found at the bar.
    • Started siphoning off equipment (presumably stolen in relation to the theft) and selling it on the black market - he paid with his life.
  • K (Kilo) - Known to be Monica Grand, a market analyst for PCBC.
    • Her specialty was with weaponry.
    • Scared by Q's death, she tried to take her story to Pietro Salk in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
    • Both she and Pietro were murdered before this could be completed.
  • C (Castille) - Known to be Claire Castille, computer genius.
    • She wrote some circumvention code for the heist.
    • She has a deep family history, which apparently was involved in the development of the Cube several hundred years ago, during the war.

After Monica's death, we were led down The Receda Trail, which was an elaborate hoax built by The Third Power to assess our abilities. We didn't know any of that at the time, mind you. We thought we were perhaps on the trail of finally discovering what the cube was and where it came from. Color us naive.

Due to Leaked Emails, we also know V is not the head of the organization; There is another person higher in the chain of command within the Academy (This may have been Roberto Solitano). Further, that person probably had superiors in the chain of command as well.

The Double Heist

"We never held it, it was already gone" were Monica Grand's last words to Sylvia Salk [12], who had gone to her apartment to try and get to the bottom of her husband's death. What can this mean? Two prevailing theories were deteremined:

  • The 'conspiracy' was a decoy operation - the real thieves got there first and stole the Cube, leaving VQCK to cause a distraction from the real investigation.
  • The 'conspiracy' team were beaten to it by another group of thieves working against our prime suspects, and it was already gone.

According to Claire Castille: "Someone else was there. I don't know who and I don't know why. But to do what they did, they must have been a better programmer than me. That's not a large group." This seems to support the idea that they were beaten to it by another group of thieves. While this doesn't explain V's apparently positive nature in post-theft correspondence, it does address the issue at hand.

Combed Thunderclap

The entity known only as Combed Thunderclap (or CT) managed to leave a number of clues on the Puzzle Cards, which went undetected by the Academy (or Mind Candy) which gave hints to her identity, and where the Cube was hidden. She eventually created a section of webspace under the heading Library of Babel [13]. On this page, she claims to describe stealing the cube. In general, the pages seem to describe CT's first arrival on Earth, and transporting of the cube to it's hiding spot.

  • From the first animation:
    • CT brought the cube to Earth.
    • CT landed in a city with "yellow cars" (which isn't very helpful, since yellow is the single most common color for taxis), which is described as an urban area with steam gratings.
    • CT insists they killed noone.
  • From the second animation:
    • CT seems to describe the actual theft, saying if anything the Cube stole them, not the other way round.
    • CT then confirms the cube is definitely buried on Earth.
  • From the third animation:
    • CT explains there was some planning involved in the theft, saying they "did what had to be done," which suggests they knew the Third Power were planning a heist, and so CT had to counter-heist.
    • The phone booths where CT landed are physically booths
    • The woman speaking in the animation has a british accent, prompting some to say that the city that CT landed in is not New York. However, NYC is an assimilation of many cultures, so this doesn't rule out NY as CT's landing point.
  • From the fourth animation:
    • This is the clue that lead to Receda's Revenge 2
    • This set of text seems to be a bit more oblique.
    • CT was greeted by a phone call from parties unknown who knew not only CT's name, but where they were and what they were doing.
    • CT was informed a car would arrive to pick them up and take them to someplace, requiring tickets and a hotel.
    • The car arrived and had a coat (in CT's size).
  • From the fifth animation:
    • We were shown a correct way to solve Season 1 Card #223 - Secret Location, which led us to Secret Location Meta Information Solution.
    • CT indicates that they are currently back in the city. This is inferred, because CT wants to "be quiet", but due to the network lockdown, any noise at all is very very noticeable. Therefore, for CT to be worried about such things, means CT must now be in the City.

The Evidence

  Electric splash
  BB, 21 to 24
  4: C, V, K, Q
  20, V to 24
  • This Sentinel article tells us the theft was discovered at 2.00 AM, that Fran Mendling was murdered with a neurosuppressant, and that three different security systems were disarmed.
  • Sylvia Salk's account of finding a dying Monica Grand provided us with the "We never held it" comment. ([14])
  • The Third Power emails indicate that while things may not be progressing terribly smoothly, V is still actively involved in the operation as of October 15th 2005. He also confirms Bernardo and Monica were definitely involved, and now definitely dead.

An older copy of this page is available here: Theft-Archive