Okay, so I want to give another crack at this storyline/chain of events. I've been doing a lot of research about the niobium and how it may relate to AI, and what HALOS may altogether be related to--even going so far as to listen to videos about it while driving in the car. I will try to write it with a timeline in mind, and will implement the IRC clues and whatnot. I will also be updating the Wiki with this new story once I have it here. Also, keep in mind that this will turn out to be (yet another) long post from yours truly. Sorry, but I'll be damned if we don't solve this before Xen comes out.

Now, before we delve into the story, it's first important to understand what role the niobium played. In my current theory, I think there were two roles that it played:

1. The niobium may have been used for quantum computing, as the niobium can be used to build the chips needed for such a machine--coils made of niobium can be cooled to 150 times colder than the temperature of deep space. That information comes from this article, and what's even more fascinating about that article is that it later mentions this:

"It was just a thought experiment until 1994, when mathematician Peter Shor hit upon a killer app: a quantum algorithm that could find the prime factors of massive numbers. Cryptography, the science of making and breaking codes, relies on a quirk of math, which is that if you multiply two large prime numbers together, it’s devilishly hard to break the answer back down into its constituent parts. You need huge amounts of processing power and lots of time. But if you had a quantum computer and Shor’s algorithm, you could cheat that math—and destroy all existing cryptography."

Remember the whole BENALOHPAILLIER thing, and the reference to homomorphic encryption, which essentially uses two prime numbers? I think that may have more been a hint from Storm that there is more to the story here, that quantum computing is likely what's going behind the doors of rooms X01 and X02. And, to further prove the point, he basically said it himself while posing as 0418:

"”some secret project we dont have the access levels to get at"

That bit stands out the most, and I think is likely directly linked to whatever is in rooms X01 and X02.

Macroscale Quantum Systems could relate to anything that uses quantum mechanics for a larger purpose. We've heard stuff about Niobium a few times, and it's used in super conductive alloy, so I would assume some kind of Quantum computer system, probably an AI, perhaps under the name of HALOS."

Anyway, to sum up that first point, the niobium was used to build the quantum computer HALOS. Now, for my second point:

2. The niobium can be used for creating superconductors, such as referenced in this Wiki article. It mentions that superconducting radio frequency (SRF) cavities, which are made from pure niobium, will be used in the International Linear Collider, which is essentially just the straight-line variant of a particle accelerator.

And, as we know, Dr. Horn did help build the Tau Cannon/XVL 1456/Lepton Optronic Linearity Cannon, because there was a comment posted to the 752 Hex Code page of the Wiki that told us so:

"Aug 09 -------------- W### has been p########## well on the L#### O####### L######## Can####, other#### kn### as the T## Cann##. My t##### to the #####etic induction coil have reduced the likelyhood of overcharge by 200%! I still cannot fathom why the fuse we introduced continues to fail however, perhaps the leptons have a mi7s6d0976)(&^A)S()F ()A^SF) A()&^  ^)(AS&^ (^6097^)(76)(*"_)"_)(*")(*!")(*!")(!"*)(.................................. ........ .........................................."

And we also have multiple whiteboards that point to this fact.

Now to the story aspect—I will not include full clues here, as that will make this far too long, but you can find them throughout the Wiki:

Before the whole Black Mesa thing happened, the scientists were working on the Tau Cannon, and needed niobium to do so. Our first clue about how they did this comes from IRC clue #2, which talks about an unknown entity moving the niobium to a new location. The highlighted letters in the clue spelled out “NOTEWELSH,” which directs us to the note Welsh had on his website—the diary log. In this note, which is dated October 9th, Welsh complains about having all these lists that Horn presents him, and having too many tasks. He also mentions the whole secret rooms thing, and identifies that only Horn, Bottomley and Junek have access to them.

What’s key about this note is not only that it mentions these things, but it also gives us a timestamp. If we look back at the note dated August 9th, we can put together that Horn was supposedly having trouble getting the Tau Cannon to function correctly, as the fuse continued to fail. However, the timing of that note is perfect—and here’s why:

Clearly, Horn and Bottomley were working on something they didn’t want the rest of BMRF to know about; with that in mind, they had to hide whatever it was they were doing. In order to do that, Horn had to send Welsh about doing his other duties so that Horn could focus on getting the niobium for the secret project. The closeness of both of those notes is important, because it shows that these events were happening within a pretty short window of time (2 months).

Furthermore, we already have a theory that Horn was smuggling niobium into the facility, but what if he was also taking it from the Tau Cannon work? In other words, he had two things going on:

1. HAFB and the WSMR were both providing niobium to Horn, likely because niobium is used for thruster nozzles and they had a plentiful amount. However, it was likely expensive, so Horn needed to inflate the pizza budget to cover for the fact he was spending so much on niobium.

2. On top of inflating the budget to buy niobium, he was also making the Tau Cannon work look like it was failing by overcharging it, blaming the fuse. He likely used this as a cover story to continue getting more niobium on top of what he was getting illegitimately. We do only see one transfer take place via the IRC clues, so perhaps he was using some from the Tau Cannon work on the side, realized he would need a large chunk of it all at once, and made the purchase from HAFB/WSMR.

Now, one thing that threw me for a loop was the whiteboard that says: “Paul – Can you call Dr. J. D. Marcel on ext. 1187.463 about the niobium 5 – he needs it for that AI project “thing” - thanks. - Dr. Montero.” It doesn’t really fit into the ARG, and I was confused by the fictional J. D. Marcel character. And then it hit me—this is code. If you look in the top right of that same whiteboard, Dr. Horn is admonishing Dr. Stone for writing personal equations on the board. Therefore, we know that this board is used by the folks Dr. Horn is trying to hide his project from. So, instead of simply writing “Paul, get me more niobium,” he writes “Paul, this fake doctor needs niobium from you for his AI project thing.” I mean, it doesn’t fit perfectly, but it’s the only thing I can figure out in regards to the overall story.

Anyway, the point is that Dr. Horn is not only building the Tau Cannon, but is also working on his secret HALOS quantum computer. Since Bottomley, Junek and himself cannot meet publicly to discuss HALOS, they meet up at his shack in the cliffs, which is why there are three plates on the table. This also explains why all the diagrams of the landing areas and such are posted in the shack—this is how they devised their plan to get niobium. That takes us to the end of IRC clue #3, which talks about them successfully retrieving the niobium and project HALOS was underway.

Now, I don’t really need to get into everything that happened after that point, because from what the IRC clues and so forth tell us, everything goes to hell in a handcart. Instead, what I want to focus on is how this new HALOS.txt file may fit into the larger picture—and hopefully help us get a solution.

The first thing we should focus on, is why Horn wanted HALOS. In other words, why was it worth everything he was doing? Perhaps it was so he could break cryptography, as the article I mentioned before states: “But if you had a quantum computer and Shor’s algorithm, you could cheat that math—and destroy all existing cryptography.” Or, perhaps he was trying to create it to sell it for money. Whatever his reasoning for it, I think this is why homomorphic encryption is mentioned with the BENALOHPAILLIER clue—so that we are directly pointed to quantum computing. Whatever the reason for it, we need to figure out why we were pointed to it.

The second thing we need to figure out is what HALOS’s area/site is. Sites and areas are mentioned multiple times, but one of the most powerful messages is the one found in the HTML source code of the grilledpizza.jpg image:

“They stole the lie, as if that matters to me, HALOS is far too complete to stop now. They can't hide there, not now, not now I have this, this holds the key to all things... they CAN'T hide from me. I will follow them, I'll set up a link and this to remind me.

Perhaps I should hide it on the secure site, perhaps that would be best. I'll find them though and they will pay, they will definitely pay.

Dr Marcel was right when he said, "When you're building a cage for Satan, you don't ask him to wait around whilst you put the doors on."

Welsh is probably behind this, but he won't get away with it.”

Now, there are technically two key “areas” mentioned in this clue. First, we have the “they can’t hide there” part—where is there? It must be different from HALOS’s area, as Horn talks about following them. He wouldn’t follow them if he already knew where they were.

The second area mentioned is the “secure site”—and he clearly says “on” the secure site—not “in.” Therefore, I think this is simply a reference to his personal website, which is indicated in IRC clue #4 where it says: “Access detected to personal site. Security compromised. HALOS project under threat. Site offline as response. Switching to new protocols.” In that same message, we are told that the prime site has been compromised, so return to BMRF, and the login is HALOS.

Then, we get the message which was added to the metadata of the audio file for Code C: “Oh looky, Dr Horn has gone all open source. HALOS musn't see this, but the password to its area, is those two cryptographer peoples. I think you should get that ok. I'll be in Xen if you need me.”

Okay, so as it’s been mentioned multiple times before, we have a login and a password. And, quite honestly, I think that’s all we need to solve this. When Storm recently said that what we need is “visible,” I think this is what he was referring to. So, I think we are looking for another website. This is also backed by language Storm used as well when he said was an “umbrella” site—that indicates to me that that’s the major site, but there are at least a few more strewn throughout the internet.

I think that by using the Tempus page to help narrow our focus, we can find this other website. The “Lies.jpg” image is important, for it reinforces Horn’s hate for Dr. Stone, and the whole niobium thing is probably just meant to direct us to look at the whiteboards. Something that may provide a lead is the report name on the Tempus page—it’s actually referred to twice: “BMRF-HALOS-AITR-0001” in the BibTex reference, and “ComLabs Test Initiative - HALOS Project – AITR-0001” at the bottom of that page. 

Another thing that may help is breaking into what HALOS may stand for. Based on some of the other information we’ve gathered, I have a primary theory as to what it may directly refer to:

Hardware Abstraction Layer Operating System

Hardware Abstraction Layer Output Spy

Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) is a “software subsystem for UNIX-like operating system providing hardware abstraction.” Now, I’m not saying that’s what HALOS is in terms of the ARG, but it could be purposefully named that to direct us towards HAL. There are some other points that back this up:

1. HAL is a single daemon—when I looked this up, I discovered that a “daemon” in computing is a computer program that runs as a background process, rather than being under the direct control of an interactive user. Therefore, all those hints about demons/Dante’s Inferno/God, etc. may be pointing to that word “daemon.” For the purposes of this ARG, this would indicate that HALOS is a “daemon” in that it runs in the background and does not need direct user input.

2. In the Curriculum Vitae resume I found online, it lists Gordon as having attended MIT. It just so happens that the term “daemon” was coined by the programmer’s of MIT’s project MAC.

3. Another reference to MIT and project MAC comes directly from the game—if you look at the retinal scanner next to the doors to rooms X01 and X02, it says “Macroscale Quantum System.” I think that word is used on purpose, because of the “Mac.”

4. The MAC project dealt directly with groundbreaking research in operating systems, artificial intelligence, and the theory of computation. All things that we’ve been dealing with in this ARG.

5. There was a group called the “AI Group”—this group “shared a computer room with a computer for which they built a time-sharing operating system called Incompatible Timesharing System (ITS).” This ITS introduce many key features, although the one I found most interesting was something called the Output Spy (OS), which allowed users to utilize remote administration and see what was happening on another user’s terminal. Perhaps this is why Horn wanted HALOS—to spy?

Long story short, I know this is a lot, folks, but I really don’t want us to give up. That is why I continue to keep throwing things out there, because I want to solve the dang thing, and I hope every time that maybe just one thing I say will spark an idea for someone.

Anyway, sorry again for the long post—if you read it to the end, thanks for hanging in there with me!