Lesser Petroleum

An online shell into a secretive enterprise.

Account: Jonah, Snail, Paul
ARG code: 42



clear - clears console window

help - list of all terminal commands

list - lists files in current working directory

read [file_name] - shows contents of text file

view [file_name] - shows contents of image file

play [file_name] - plays audio file

su [user_name] [password] - switches user to another one (will ask for password)

cipher [string] - encodes a string with mysterious cipher (v.1.0)






12 32 35 21 44


Username: jonah

First Name: Jonah

Phone: 0-553-80373-5

Position: Lab Assistant


Username: snail

First Name: Elias

Phone: 0-553-80370-0

Position: -classified-


Username: paul

First Name: Paul

Address: 80 E. 11th St. New York 3, N.Y

Phone: 0-553-80371-9

Position: PR


Username: hermann

First Name: Hermann

Last Name: M.

Address: -classified-

Phone: 0-553-80372-7

Position: Chief Scientist at Severskaya UHS

The "phone numbers" in the contacts.txt file are actually ISBN numbers for several classic Isaac Asimov novels.

  • 0553803735 = Second Foundation (Jonah's telephone number)

  • 0553803700 = I, Robot (Elias' telephone number)

  • 0553803719 = Foundation (Paul's telephone number)

  • 0553803727 = Foundation And Empire (Hermann's telephone number)


From: Lesser Petroleum

Date: 08.18.1986

Hermann is messing around again from his cold hideout. He modified the security system.. again. With all his crazy puzzles, Nuts like his brother.

Just letting you know that file permissions are changed, and basically we can’t see the Severskaya lab results till this is resolved. I was hoping you can help.

Good Luck.

Jonah Eves

Lab Assistant at LP




From: Station Severskaya

Date: 08.17.1986

Think you are better than me? Security system my ass!!! You want answers? I want entertainment. Figure it out, or you get no lab results from severaskaya till next year.

And by the way, sending a plane here to punch me in the face will cost like - gazillion, so good luck with that.


H. M


Finding the next username:

Polybius in Greek

Using the cipher on all the alphabetical lower-case letters we get this conversion table:

12 32 35 21 44 = blpft / blpfu / blpfv / bmpft / bmpfu / bmpfv

The cipher command doesn’t allow vowels and xyz, so exclude those with an "u".
Using the cipher tool in the terminal cipher bmpfv we get the password for the snail account.
su snail 13y15s3r26s880y







Hey Jonah, if it's you...
The spectrum might come in handy later, no reason to use it now.
Paul is important, I'll wait you there. It's brutally simple.. as is.



Centuries would yet pass before the mighty works of fifty generations of humans would decay past use. Only the declining powers of men, themselves, rendered them useless now. The millions left after the billions had died tore up the gleaming metal base of the planet and exposed soil that had not felt the touch of sun in a thousand years. Surrounded by the mechanical perfections of human efforts, encircled by the industrial marvels of mankind freed of the tyranny of environment.

 Excerpt from book two of the Foundation series "Foundation and Empire" chapter 22 "Death on Neontrator" - Asimov


I keep seeing snails everywhere, as if they all now only move towards me. Maybe all of this is just in my head but whenever I go <inaudible>. It's just crazy. I didn't say which is the one. Dad.

Colonel Kurtz's monologue about watching a snail on a straight razor from the film Apocalypse Now. 

In the spectogram we can reveal:  46, 178, 23, 56, 89, 23, 117, 52, 85,42, 1, 87, 134, 98, 222, 213, 30, 59, 38, 168


Finding the next username:


The snail image has pigpen hidden using visual steganography. Correctly translated to: snailhascometotwelve
Using that as password for paul’s account. We get full access.

su paul snailhascometotwelve






qApeDnVixD buZGl VoRy


Hey Jonah, if it's you...
The spectrum nums proved to be useful, they seem to "fix things". First the image, but I think I can repurpose them for this...
Rightshift caesar with alphabetically self and globally rotational key, which is the spectrum.
Mm... A is 1, and Z is 26, remember? In case you forgot the alphabet... again.


mjxmw uaz dxqy ys... wkh fg'z bup ogsbf ndxx pcejygrg qmewfql. m cvgbhfm nvnw ftcjd lybua drtbsw he qaip.. im b aifi jaznwfrd k vh i, hmiu kiq nfpg pwoxvy ylhf qkoh.


There is a rat hole in space that, it seems, does not pay its taxes. 

Excerpt from the novel Foundation and Empire, chapter 12


Finding the next user:

mjxmw uaz dxqy ys... wkh fg'z bup ogsbf ndxx pcejygrg qmewfql. m cvgbhfm nvnw ftcjd lybua drtbsw he qaip.. im b aifi jaznwfrd k vh i, hmiu kiq nfpg pwoxvy ylhf qkoh.

Is encrypted using the spectogram numbers from the mp3 file found on Snail's account. The function used to encode is the modulo of the sum of the current letter in the alphabet 0-25 with the number in the spectogram in the same relative position, by 26.  It is pretty much a negative rot using the numbers in the spectogram.

snail has come to... and it's all about that specific chapter. i figured this thing about cipher as well.. if a word contains x or z, then you just ignore that word.