A new t7h1s puzzle showed up on /r/puzzles on June 14th. There was another one a month or so earlier that appeared to remain unsolved, so I was very intrigued to see how far I could get with this one.
The first stage of this challenge is pretty straightforward. Up in the top left corner there are some jumbled characters and a clue to use rot47. The characters in the image are
Ef9`D]@?F?:G6CD6]4@>, which decodes to t7h1s.onuniverse.com
The previous puzzle also had
add as a keyword so I tried appending the randomly capitalized letters (
ORL) to the end of the domain (yielding t7h1sorl.onuniverse.com), which does not resolve. Next I tried just following the literal direction,
add goodbye (yielding t7h1sgodbye.onuniverse.com) and was rewarded with the next step.
Ctrl + z apparently means
Using the rot47 (the first code) we can translate
42== ab`\aha\_geb into
call 231-292-08631. Calling this number led to an incredible garbled sounding recording of various letters and numbers. A kind reddit user, /u/xhexdumpx, posted a recording of the call which proved to be invaluable.
I tried opening the file using audacity to see if there might be something hidden, or some easy way to clean up the audio. Spoiler alert: I don't know how to clean audio in audacity, and there was nothing in the sound file's spectrogram that looked like it could be turned into real words or letters or anything.
I relented and started listening to the audio trying to write out the possible matches. After several dozen passes I came up with
[hx]p[czgd]lo_w7[tjk]1vlwv[d??]oor1[8x]uijpdlo.frp. The 7 and the 1 after the
space seemed like they might be related to the t7h1s name of the puzzle so I tried running what I had through a Caesar cipher brute forcer which gave me
[eu]m[zwda]il_t7[qgh]1sits[a??]llo1[8u]rfgmail.com. Immediately the word email jumps out, and the familiar t7h1s is at the start. Cleaning up the guess based on common english words we get
email t7h1sitsallo??r??gmail.com. I guessed the real email might be
firstname.lastname@example.org so I sent a tentative email to that address.
The next morning I got a nice confirmation email. No prize, but it was good to know that I was actually done and didn't need to listen to that godforsaken recording ever again!