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Ahoy Mateys!

<...>

SoS! Seeing all of your tweet-sized programs has brought us much joy. You played the buzzer, animated WS2812 matrices, and... well, we're impressed. We flashed all your codes into a dozen of Arduino boards, and mailed them to The Sysop.

One of these programs, 145 chars of SoS, hit a chord - it turns out that in the Underworld BSS's lingo, SoS means "Salvage Ol' Skulls", a secret code that went through generations of pirates. Challenge solved. It let us in!

Logged in, we hoped we could find there the missing piece for completing The Firmware. Little did we know of the adventure that was waiting ahead... A blinking caret followed a prompt that said:

YOU are standing in a dark room. A light breeze enters through a half-shut window. YOU hear a blood-chilling scream from the north. At the same instant, a heavy wooden door shuts in the west. Do YOU try to open the door (w) or go north (n)?
>

Oh boy, this was a tough game! We sunk into it, not even sure what we were looking for. We went through an old rail tunnel to enter a maze of underground corridors, fighting fictional creatures. Along the way, we gathered a decent-sized party with a sacred healer, a mighty mage, a skilled archer, and whatnot. We got past the 3-headed charismatic lindwurm and arrived at The Obelisk of The Bitwise Or:

YOU enter a narrow, tall room. The wall is carved with skulls, with red-glittering eyeballs, riveted at YOU. The floor is covered with hand-scribbled three-letter acronyms: ALU, GCC, SPI, FTP, EEG and PDP. They are connected by a network of NAND gates and flip-flops. There are 8 rusty levers to your left.

What do you do?

EEG sounded intriguing, so we simply typed EEG. Before we could even type the newline, the connection was cut and we could no longer call into The Underworld BBS. So frustrating!

The next morning, a large package was shipped to us. They label said "Salvage Ol' Skulls", and inside it we found what looked like a 3D printed EEG device equipped with 16 precision electrodes. We quickly dug up an old skull and hooked it to the mysterious device:

{04-skull-eeg}

as a small note fell out of the package. It said:

A city on the Seine. Tunnels under earth with dormant skulls, no brain. In their faint signals the answer may pertain.

Chris: I'm not sure pertain is the right word, if not I hope you have a better one that also rhymes.

A city on the Seine? Underground tunnels with dormant skulls? We quickly made some phone calls, and less than an hour later, our entire team was on a private jet going to Paris! Upon arrival, we tried to book a ticket to The Catacombs, just to figure out they were closed until December 1st due to COVID. Couldn't we google that before flying out? What a rookie mistake!

Determined to bring you the best Skull firmware in the universe, we contacted a local cataphyle, whose name will remain Ms. Q. She volunteered to assist and took us for a "night stroll", and set up us with some oversized boots. After bootstrapping, we headed to La Petite Ceinture, an abandoned railway line, and followed the track through one of the tunnels, where a small hole in the wall led to a damp underground tunnel.

Ms. Q. led us through the complex maze of archæic graffiti-decorated corridors, some flooded with water that goes above the knees, faintly illuminated by the dancing flame of the gas lamp. when we encountered some good ol' bones, entering the Land of the Dead:

{04-terra-mortuis}

Perplexed by the amount of skulls around us, we seemingly mocking at us:

{04-jolly-roger}

Wait, this guy looks familiar! Isn't that the unpopular Jolly Roger? Surprised, we carefully wired it to our EEG equipement, and started recording the signals.

To be continued...

p.s. Please don't mention the private jet to CrowdSupply, they are quite strict about how we spend campaign funds.

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