Solving the M round meta-puzzles gives you the M meta-metapuzzle.

M Meta-Metapuzzle

Each of the metapuzzle answers from rounds 1-7 will give one letter to the meta-metapuzzle answer, as follows:
Read the diagonal (starting at the bottom--remember that the rounds were in reverse chronological order). This gives the seven-letter word related to "the boss's other life" (which you were told about in the M1 Aha! runaround), namely MATCHES: he's an arsonist.

People may find some other, accidental message in the seven words. If they do, it's an accident. Wow. Two in the morning will do that to you. Who would have thought. Anyway.

Teams, having been told to go to http://www.acmecorp.com/<answer> once they've found the answer, will go to that site. They then get the Login Screen, asking for the big boss' password. Of course, they don't have the password. Entering anything into the field will tell them that access is denied. But wait! There's a "forgot your password?" link! Clicking on that brings you to the Forgot Your Password page.

The Forgot Your Password page asks for an email address to which to send the document. It also says, To access the document, please answer the following questions that only you could possibly know. The answers to these questions are the answers to the seven metapuzzles, as some lateral thinking will convince you.

When this page is correctly filled out, the organizers get email saying who has done so and whether they were successful. If they were, the team gets the runaround document. If they were wrong too many times, we'd send them agents. But that never happened.


The runaround and R puzzles contain:
  1. The "translation" message. Ignore the geography of the R puzzles, sort them by number, and read down the first letters. These spell a message telling what the key is: USE THE LETTERS AS VIGENERE KEY.
  2. The "key" message. Perform the runaround on the MIT campus and arrive at the key: PROF STRANG.
  3. The "encoded" message. As you solve to the run-around in the "real" world of MIT, you obtain numbers to fill in the blanks of the runaround document. You can also perform this runaround on the grid formed by the R puzzles. Since each step indicates a direction, follow that direction through R; since each step includes a missing number, take the indicated letter of the answer for the room where you end up. This gives the message: CFKQWTINGUSFRLWULLYKIJOYZJ.

The three, taken together, give a decoded message, "NOW LEARN TO DODGE BULLETS AT HQ".

Dodging bullets

Having been told to come to headquarters to "dodge bullets," teams will come and learn how to bend their bodies in all sorts of strange ways--playing Twister!

To dodge bullets, one team member was designated "The One". (The One didn't always have to be the same person.) That person could elect to have up to three people join them in the Matrix, aka the Twister board. Acme called out Twister calls until all the people in the Matrix had both hands and both feet touching the mat. Then the One could make up to two more Twister calls of his or her own. If this was accomplished without everyone in the Matrix falling down, they got to see part of a message.

Every space on the Twister board corresponded to a letter. After the team successfully dodged bullets, the letters corresponding to the circles that their hands and feet were touching were revealed on an overhead projector. Also, there were two sets of letters corresponding to the Twister board, which switched back and forth, although this may not have been immediately apparent to the solving team. Reconstructing the two boards gave:


...or, "Now to go MIT river/red planet/rudder mover/suit part's door." MIT river is CHARLES, the red planet is MARS, a TILLER moves a rudder, and a VEST is part of a suit, so solvers had to begin the runaround at MIT president Charles Marstiller Vest's office. (What? You didn't know Charles Vest's middle name was Marstiller? Should've read your training documents more closely.)

At Vest's office door, ACME greets the team and tells them, "You are ready to find the disc containing the core data of the Matrix. Controlling this disc controls the Matrix. If you'll jack in, we'll upload the map you need with this useful hand-held trainer--" taking out a Palm Pilot.

Coin trail

The final runaround is a Palm Pilot application. You can download it onto a palm pilot, if you have one, or run the program on a desktop machine using a Palm OS Emulator, like we did at the wrap-up. Source code is also available, if you're interested.

Nifty start-up screen. Nice! At each step, you must answer a location-specific question as well as provide one of two possible puzzle answers. Groovy matrix falling-text effect takes you from one location screen to the next. Final location, final instruction.

A memorable point in the coin trail is the lobby of building 34, where the location question is:

Estimate, to the nearest hundred, the number of triangles you see.
and what you see in front of you is:

ACME, in their mercy, decided that the Palm Pilot application would accept any answer at all as correct for this question.

The runaround was designed to reward teams for solving large numbers of the R and M puzzles, since if you'd backsolved metapuzzles to get to this point, there would be the chance that you'd get to a point in the runaround where you hadn't solved *either* of the two prompted puzzle choices, and would have to go back and solve one or the other of them before you could continue the runaround. Luckily for the lead team, Kappa Sig, this fate didn't befall them.

The complete runaround with all solutions is available as an Excel file, if you try to retrace the trail and get stuck.

The Coin

Your boss is a long-standing ally of Zion, who is still in the Matrix mostly because he was too old to be removed when they found him. He has stayed undetected for many years, and his position as CEO of Acme Corp. has allowed him to find out information about the workings of the Matrix that would have been impossible for the people outside it. A week ago, he found information about a place outside the matrix, containing secret data that could be used to strike a mighty blow against the machines. At the same time, he realized that the Agents were onto him. So he started leaving clues wherever he went, trusting in his loyal employees to get the necessary information to the people who needed it. To make sure no Agents got their hands on the data, he encoded it as puzzles, since Machines are very bad at solving human puzzles.

As the hunt begins, he is murdered by Agents. Teams, as his employees, follow his trail back through the week, and get access to the data he has hidden. As they are doing this, they are also (once they take the red pill) exploring the location with the secret data (though the key to that data is what the boss is hiding. That location is an abandoned facility from when humans and machines were working more closely together. It is composed of many cell-like rooms, with various purposes. Once they penetrate the secrets of this facility, they receive the fruits of their labors: a guide to the machines' central lair, where they can find the disc containing the central data of the Matrix. Controlling this disc controls the Matrix and wins the Hunt.

The coin in this year's mystery hunt is the disk controling the central data of the matrix:

It was designed and fabricated by Andy Lynn, with C. Scott Ananian providing laser cutter access and documenting the process. There are more pictures available of the fabrication process.

Tanis O'Connor, Todd Radford and C. Scott Ananian hid the coin early Friday morning before the start of the hunt:

As the Tech memorably described it: The coin had been hidden in Jofish's (Joseph N. Kaye's '98) pants, on the top of some pipes in the basement of building 16.

Kappa Sig Finds the Coin

Kappa Sig began dodging bullets at 6:07am Monday. Because the hunt had already exceeded all previous records for length, ACME substituted a more conventional game of twister for the full "dodging bullets" scenario. At 7:26am Monday morning, Kappa Sig found the coin.

We've got video footage of this in Windows Media and Quicktime (MPEG-4) formats, thanks to Jim Youll.

Back at Kappa Sig headquarters, ACME presented each member of the Kappa Sig team with their own copy of the "data disk", which contained a complete archive of the year's hunt, with solutions.

As a final image, here's Kappa Sig's "status page" from our whiteboard at ACME HQ:

In particular, the lower-right corner:

All information copyright (c) 2003 ACMECorp, Inc. All rights reserved.