Part 9: Nine Inch Snails
: When we last saw Jack, he, unfortunately, was released after getting knocked out by a heavily armed museum guard.
: Twelve mortal hours of ID checks. Morons... I've gotta talk to the boss straight away.
: And by "straight away" Jack means we wait until the evening of the next day. By the way, the 4th of July is never even mentioned by in this game. The developers were too obsessed with a different July holiday.
: How are YOU doing? How was it in the custody of our British colleagues?
: Oh. So they called you.
: Yes indeed! I had to confirm to the gentleman that you are a colleague of ours, Jack. I was rather inclined to say no.
: You could never be that mean, Chief. I know you've got a heart of gold.
: That'll do. I'd like to know how the damn inquiry's going.
: I'm right in the middle of it. I've checked out loads of his last contacts and I'm just checking out an employee of an art logistics company who had been in his office.
: I'm so glad all of that happened off screen.
: When you're not having to spend the night locked-up.
: Come on Chief, don't bust my balls. That was stupid mishap, a mistake. I just left my ID in the car.
: Can you confirm that?
: No, I can't do that yet. I need access to a few more records.
: More records?
: Our colleagues here have a fabulous video surveillance system. It's called CCTV. Can you arrange for me to get access to the data banks?
: No. We'll do it the other way around. You tell me from when and where you need pictures.
: Oh alright. The car park of the London Modern Museum, last night, 11pm to 1am.
: Pah. Whadda you want? A souvenir video of your arrest?
: I just want to check something.
: Hmm. Alright then. I'll let you know.
: You're twenty four carat, Chief.
: (sighs) You'll get an e-mail.
: We do get an email from the Chief. Check out the date. It's actually the 5th, apparently, and the earlier time card lied. That... makes things even worse. You'll see.
I'll try to use the only other tool we have on the PC
: Ah, yes. I forgot to open the attachment again. There's a jpg.
: Dammit... I can hardly read the number plate...
: We still can't use the plate search thing. The pacing is bad enough as it is, why are there Police Quest procedures in this game?
: Hey Chief, it's me.
: I can hear that. And? Finished watching TV?
: Almost. Now I've got a few new questions.
: I'm listening.
: I need log-in data for the British vehicle registration plate databank.
: The subtitle editing is so bad 15 Days manages to use "databank" and "data bank" five minutes apart.
: Of course.
: They're not especially generous with their data. Couldn't you have told me that before?
: Chief. Please.
: Cut the soft crap. You'll get your damn log-in, but I want a report from you before the end of the week. You've frittered away enough on hotel expenses already.
: I'm sleeping in the car Chief.
: You're sleeping where?
: In the car.
: Don't come back at me with reason. I'm trying to get all angry here.
: This little exchange got a chuckle out of me, but didn't help the overall tone of the section. We're not even half done here.
: So I'll get an e-mail from you?
: Yes, Goddamit.
: This reminds me of puzzles...
: If the number plate isn't there, then it has to be a fake one. Maybe it's just been altered.
: The number on the plate is not listed but there are similar ones. Probably.
Here's the deal. We can click on these letters, and then click search and see this message.
The actual, never revealed, rules of the puzzle are the following:
1. Mike's license plate has been altered only partially.
2. Mike could either add black lines and curves, or mask them with yellow, but never did both to the same symbol.
So, all the actual letters on his plate are one or two strokes away from the fake ones.
There's nothing he could have done do to X or W, L could be E, P could be B or R, R could be P, 3 could be 8. The game tells you none of that and lets you replace each letter with any on the other 25.
There is one hint, and that's the slight change in the wording when you're one character away from getting it right. But I've got 14 seconds on the timer, so that will solve itself.
: Mike Mensforth. Right, so I'll organise myself a little visit to the young fella.
: Hey, Mike has a last name.
: The 7th of July? Regardless of whether it was the 5th or the 6th earlier, the loft is across the river from the museum, Jack. I'm starting to see why the Chief is not so glad to hear from you.
It's time to re-examine the loft all over again.
: Yeah, use this camera angle, sure. You haven't got anything closer to the door.
: Mr. Mensforth! Open the door. Police! I've got a couple of things I need to ask you! Damn. No one there... Oh well. I'll have to have a look myself then.
: Said the man who could remember a random alphanumeric password.
: Time for the bump key(s)!
: Mr. Mensforth! This is the police!
: Oh well. I'll find my way around.
: There's absolutely nothing to investigate downstairs. Nothing on the answering machine.
: What's this on the couch? A clue!
: A photo album...
: That's it? OK, let's check out the rooms.
: Look at the shitty painting.
: I don't understand that much about it, but that's junk.
: Agreed. The books?
: I don't read.
: Jack is this game's writer.
: And that's all about Cathryn.
: There's somebody here who's definitely way too old to be living in shared accommodation.
: I hate chess.
: Don't diss the Belgian Miners! Check out that diploma.
: Bernard Dewaele, mathematician. Graduated 1989 from the Belgian university of Leuven.
: Bernard must be a pretty shitty mathematician if he's into gambling.
Anyway, time for Mike's den.
: A computer freak, a geek, a couch potato.
: Could this be my man... Mensforth? Hmm, I'll have a look around...
: Something about Mike really gets Jack excited
: The Sonamu cabinet is now off.
: Hey, that thing owes me all my small change from the seventies.
: The TV is also dead.
: Wow. How did the guy get the dough to pay for that?
: The pizza is probably self aware by now.
: Puh. A case for the forensic guys.
: Puh... the poster?
: Pretty depressing.
: Check out Mike's action figures.
: A collection of trash.
: Ah-ha! Mike's left desk is interesting.
: Hmm... looks like travel documents... someone has gone to Paris...
: He cleared the junk off the desk and laid out the route plan. Mike's exhibitionism didn't stop here. Let's examine his PC.
: Ha. A business card. At last something with a NAME on it. That'll help.
: OK. Let's see what we've got here.
: That's a certain Miss Winkler's business card - from 'Megabase', it's got a phone number on it.
: Naturally, the phone only works in the van. Can I call the Chief?
: Hold it. I need more information about this Mensforth. Otherwise the Chief will kill me.
: OK, Megabase.
: I wonder, if at any point any of the bastards testing this stopped and said "Hey, why do we have to stare at this expressionless mug for ten minutes?"
: Jack Stern, International Police. Hello.
: What can I do for you Mr. Stern?
: I'm looking for a certain Mike Mensforth. Do you know him?
: Yes, of course. Mr. Mensforth works for us as a freelance. Although he hasn't done anything for us in the past three weeks.
: Pinched a perfectly good pen, that twit.
: Do you have his cell number?
: I don't know if...
: Yes, yes, you don't need to worry about that. It's fine.
: Oh, alright then. 01078 - 1020987. Is there... something wrong with Mr. Mensforth?
: That's exactly what I'm trying to find out. Thank you very much. Good bye.
: Exciting. Well, that leaves one last chat with the Chief. I hope.
: Evening Chief... sorry for calling late...
: You get used to it.
: Erm. They had exactly nothing to do with the Henston case.
: Somehow. You got any evidence?
: Nothing solid yet, but I'm sure there's some connection. I just don't know what it is yet.
: Who are these people?
: Well... it looks like some kind of political activist community to me. Young autonomists or the like...
: Chief, I found a nerd, a climber and an middle-aged mathematician. Surely, they are a political group.
: That's not enough for an arrest.
: Not yet. And... unfortunately the three of them are fast. It would appear they're on their way to Paris - or they're already there. I've got a cell phone number for one of them. We can work out their exact location with that.
: How did you get into their apartment?
: Who said he did?
: Excuse me? Sorry, the line just went.
: You didn't break-in, did you?
: Let's just talk about the cell phone number, OK?
: Dammit, Stern. You're getting us all into deep water. So. What's the number?
: Wait. It's 01078 - 1020987.
: I'll put that into the locator.
: You're the greatest, Chief.
: And you're the greatest suck-up. You'll get an e-mail from the locating system.
: Thanks Chief. Sweet dreams.
: Yeah yeah. Whatever.
: In front of the Musée de Paris.
: Going purely by the letter dates so far, Jack did jack shit on the 6th.
: So let's go. The system will send me updates. He's not going to get away from me. I would just love to know what the kid's up to there...
: I hate you, Jack. Your entire chapter boiled down to watching a 3D dummy rotate for 15 minutes.
Yep, it sure is Paris here.
So much Paris.
: So do I, but for much better reasons.
1. There's no no loft babble in Paris.
2. The museum break-in is less than an hour from now.
3. We're past the half-way point, and this wreck of a plot will soon start to pull itself together in the most stupid way.
: I don't. Let's go in there, get the painting and go home.
: Would you stop whinging Mike!
: Really. Sometimes you're like a little kid.
: Not much. What's that stuff you brought with you?
: They're firecrackers. I want to have a bit of fun here at least.
: Don't you dare.
: Bernard's a little slow. He is in his "don't you dare" animation.
: National holiday? Seriously?
: Of course. The 14th of July. They have a huge fireworks display. It's gonna be great.
: Hmm... not a bad idea.
: I agree.
: I'm thinking "Will anyone face one another in this scene?"
: I think so.
: What? What are you talking about?
: Our model pupil is a bit slow on the uptake.
: Ah come on. Let's go in first.
: Hey! WHAT don't I understand?
: Later. Come on.
: That's a nice hall. There are statues of men scratching themselves, and a bunch of paintings.
: Cathryn produces a blue thing.
: OK. Time to check everything out.
: Mike bought it that time when he wanted to start jogging.
: Mike... bought it? Wow. Excuse me, I need some air...
: Just a moment. I still haven't got all the cameras...
: Cameras? Right. Here's one of our objectives for this section: mark all the cameras again.
: The first giant portal to our right leads to this tiny cellar.
: Only a pile of old stuff.
: Deeper into the dump we score two cameras. For measurements Cathryn stares right into the camera while holding the timer. The game still has different replies for looking at the things and marking them.
: There's another one of the things...
: OK, I've seen it.
: The pile of junk here has the same comment as the one on the previous screen, only it has "..." at the end instead of "." so it's completely different.
: Back here I check out the paintings.
: There are a few real classics here.
: Further in there are more paintings.
: Mainly landscapes.
: Our picture is in the side room.
: Let's ignore the side room and go forward.
: And? What kind of lock does it have?
: None at all, as far as I can see. Could be a type of automatic bulkhead.
: Oh, shit. They might have working alarms. And guards with bazookas.
: No chance of getting in there?
: I could knock. Maybe someone might open it?
: You just stay right there. Have you had a look outside?
: I'm looking at the outside window again.
: It looks like there's a man inside.
: We've got to get him out somehow.
: No no... it frightened me to death too. The kids are messing around with the fireworks. Can't wait for the holiday.
*MORE FIREWORKS NOISES*
: Oh, yeah. Something's happening up there.
: Stop that banging around immediately! You damned idiot. There are highly sensitive recording devices in here!
: Oh. I see. Sorry... I... wanted...
: You're sorry? You could set off an alarm in here with such a bang.
: Of course you fool. We use pressure gauges here.
: Ah ha, and when the pressure suddenly changes...
: The whole alarm goes off!
: Man, imagine being on a night shift here and holding a fart for eight hours. Five Nights at Freddy's will seem like a holiday.
: So what do you do on the 14th of July? I mean... there's a huge firework display isn't there?
: Now get out of here.
: Isn't that dangerous?
: The museum has enough other security systems. So, quiet now, OK? You are too old for this kind of child's play anyway.
: You're right.
: He's not very charming.
: Did you hear that?
: Absolutely! Very revealing.
: What did you say?
: Nothing. Nothing. I was just thinking out loud.
: Aha. Alright. Now I need to do my rounds. Good day to you.
: Next time, more talking, and the hatching of a beautifully dumb plan.
P.S. No gifs, no videos, no action. All thanks to Jack Stern.