After Action Report: NYC Special VIA NOIR Storyline Mission

It all started out with this post on the investigation board: A Clue For Tomorrow?

Aside from containing the usual daily passcodes, what it announced was much more intriguing.

It’s not too difficult to find the actual portal, but notice there has been a clock added to the portal image, indicating – combined with “evening” mentioned – a time frame between 17:00 and 19:00 local time (Sat 22:00 to Sun 00:00 UTC).

Ground teams were assembled.

Decoders and portal hunters were standing at the ready.

Then, suddenly, at 21:11 UTC the message came through: “@all Puzzles in New York missions

VIA NOIR Crossword Puzzles
(See here the original versions of the North Puzzle and South Puzzle)

Fortunately, one trick Niantic played was identified very early.

Out of the self-organizing chaos and information flood that ensued across Hangouts and Google Docs, the answers and resulting passphrases emerged:

North Puzzle

South Puzzle

Shortly after 22:00 UTC the mission passphrases could be relayed back to New York.

What came back provided another challenge (but also not too little amusement):

VIA NOIR Portal Clues
(North Portal Clue and South Portal Clue)

Focusing the search on the immediate vicinity of the ground teams, those clues were quite quickly found to imply “The Magical Garden” and “Rainbow in the skies”.

Media hacked from those portals lead to the puzzle (the right side is North and South combined):

VIA NOIR Colour Puzzle

(North Colours and South Colours)

The mission could move on, tasking decoders with:

(North Code and South Code)

Dissecting the task, it became clear, that all bits of information retrieved so far had to be used at this point.

The nature of the New York missions so far had been strongly interleaved, with each mission giving clues needed to continue the other.

In addition, agents reported back all descriptions encountered, among those:

  • “Keyword R: pac — Enter Keyword Q to proceed”
  • “Keyword Q: olw — Enter Keyword R to proceed”
  • “the sum of all things unlocks what comes next”

The two resulting passcodes produced media items pointing to the following enciphered texts:

VIA NOIR Messages
(Message 1 and Message 2)

Around 23:30 UTC, after a quick OCR – and a little less quick fixing of OCR errors – the final message could be decoded:

Thanks and congratulations to all teams on the ground in New York and those assisting with decoding, portal hunting, collecting, filtering, and relaying all information involved.

Be sure to read, among others, the publication of the message
and the Project Isthmus report.