Saturday, 7 January 2017

Gateway - Intelligence Tests

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #4: "This place is supposed to have a better chance to hold a jackpot. But man, what a dump. It's full of acid and ugly plants and even uglier aliens. There'd better be something really amazing here."

All the previous codes are labeled, with the new code on the right.

I mentioned last time that it isn't necessary to go on the rest of the missions, but if you don't, the list of locations matching the course codes in the ship's interface is never completed. Even though you switch badges and the new badge gets a new code, somehow all the codes you were given still show up in the list every time you go out on a mission.

The first aliens I encounter have to be the ugliest creatures ever.

The new code takes me to an undeniably alien world, with strange vegetation and two suns in the sky. And aliens! Aliens that are not very happy to see me, apparently. Their crude village is only two screens east from where my ship landed.

South of the crossroads next to the village there's a purple lake of acid with a pile of rocks on the shore, but the rocks are all stuck together. If I wait a minute, a salamander appears and adds another rock to the pile and sticks it together with its saliva. While I can't get any rocks, I can pick up the whole salamander and take it with me [5].

I guess they're called Mutzers because they say "Mutz!" a lot.

Northeast of the crossroads (north of the village), there's a huge dome of Heechee metal with a panel and a small circular hole. I can also hide behind a boulder and watch this entrance area. If I wait for several minutes, I start hearing strange wailing noises from the direction of the village. After a couple more minutes, a group of the ugly aliens appear and I get a short cut-scene where they hold some kind of ceremony.

The village leader gives a bit of a speech and inserts a Heechee rod into the hole in the dome. The panel opens to reveal a screen, but nothing much happens beyond some clicks, then the dome spits out the rod again. The aliens look disappointed and go back to the village. Some kind of check-in, perhaps?

The village is undefended.

I need to get that rod from the village so I can try to get into the dome myself. But the aliens won't let me into the village. I need to sneak in while they're occupied. Maybe they'll do another check-in ceremony soon. I try waiting at the lakeshore for a while. An hour later, I hear the wailing again. I wait one more minute for them to move away and then enter the village unopposed [2]. Now I can enter the hut belonging to the alien leader.

Go fetch, salamander!

The hut contains a large tank full of the purple acid water plus an opening leading down into a crawlspace. I can't reach into the tank, but I could toss the salamander into it. But there's nothing in there yet. So first I hide in the crawlspace and wait [2]. I hear the alien chief return from the ceremony and get into its tank. It's distracted, so I can re-enter the hut from below. I see that he has the cylinder with him, so I toss the salamander in [10]. If I wait a minute, it retrieves the cylinder and wanders off with it.

Now I just have to go back to the lakeshore and the salamander has dropped the cylinder by its pile of rocks. Fortunately, the cylinder isn't attached to the rocks the way they are to each other, so I can just take it [15]. I go use it in the hole on the dome to see what the aliens are seeing all the time.

Which one is different? Obviously.

The panel opens to reveal another button-interface screen that looks a lot like the ship codes, with Heechee numbers (which are inexplicably labeled with Arabic numerals also). This one has a display with five symbols in a row: three triangles, a circle, and another triangle. Maybe this is actually an intelligence test that the indigenous aliens are failing to recognize or understand.

I go back and check the Heechee numbers (I experimented with the numbers in the ship's panel when I was at the station, before locking in a destination) and realize the five buttons are labeled in Heechee as 0, 2, 4, 6, 8. So it's not a code because the numbers are all even. That means I'll try pressing the fourth button to correspond to the symbol that's different. Ah, that did it. Now the symbols show a pentagon, an octagon, a triangle, a circle, and a square. The one circle is still the only symbol without corners. Yep. Now we've got a series of symbols formed by two straight lines, some crossing and some not. The parallel lines are the right answer.

Somewhat harder questions.

Now a set of double overlapping shapes with a dot in the center. This time it's the two thin rectangles, because one is rotated relative to the other one. The others are all just shifted without rotation. Now we have a series of nested circles. There's only one where the edges of all three circles meet, so that's the answer, and I'm done. Definitely an intelligence test, and the acid-wallowers aren't able to figure it out or even just systematically try buttons until they stumble on the right sequence.

The treasure is mine!

A portal opens and I'm able to go inside [20]. There are three fan-shaped objects hanging near a platform holding a machine of some kind. I can take all three [2 each, 6 total] and climb the platform to reach the machine. Now we've got a color puzzle. Each fan can be placed into one of the three slots. Below each primary color slot we have a secondary color light. So I just need to put the right fan in each slot that would make the corresponding secondary color by mixing the colors of the fan and the slot.

One last basic intelligence test.

Into the red slot I place the blue fan to make purple [5]. Into the blue slot I place the yellow fan to make green [5]. Into the yellow slot I place the red fan to make orange [5]. Once I have all three, the machine starts hovering and spinning, and I can take it [25]. I don't know what this thing is, but it's bound to be worth quite a bit back on Gateway! If nothing else, it hovers, right?

I return to the ship and send myself back to Gateway with the device. Results: "You are awarded a $50,000 science bonus for discovery of a proto-civilization. You are awarded a $1.5 million royalty advance for discovering the Heechee device." Awesome. Now I'm set, right? I can go back to Earth and retire? Well, not quite. That was only the end of Part 1.

Next time we'll start Part 2: Other Worlds. Apparently we've spent six weeks celebrating and manage to spend $30,000 of that prize. I think the PC is not very good with money management. If it really costs $5k per week to live on the station, then I think we'd better decide pretty quickly whether to take another mission or go home, or we're not going to be able to retire.

Score: 307 of 1600
Balance: $1,541,450
Status: Orion Program (green badge)
Missions: 7

Session Time: 1 hr 15 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

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  1. The PC certainly knows how to celebrate! Either that, or the price of everything is absurdly high on the station because of either inflation (it is far into the future) or the cost of transporting anything from Earth to Gateway.

  2. "The first aliens I encounter have to be the ugliest creatures ever."

    They look a bit like the aliens from the Explorers: