All right. No more Mr. Nice Grinadel.
You are currently on: 3F
Second Floor: Conclusion
You had thought Mr. Adams was weird, but Ms. Alperin definitely ups the ante in that department. Like the First Guardian, she congratulates you — with a hint of reluctance clear in her voice — and gives you a plastic object to help you on your quest. But this time, you can't even begin to make sense of its shape, let alone what it might be used for. It is a flat rectangular plate containing several square notches, white but speckled with a fine pattern of pink hearts.
"Oh," Ms. Alperin remarks as she catches your expression. "Don't know what this is? Fine, I'll show you. Give it here. And gimme that other thing too." You hand back both the square plate and the green tablet device that Mr. Adams gave you earlier, noticing too late that the letters of the Playfair grid you just finished using are still etched onto the green object's surface.
"What—?" you sputter, breaking the conventions of the Silent Protagonist for the first time.
"I made this for Mr. Venola upstairs," Ms. Alperin sighs. She prudently fits the square plate over the green device in a certain orientation, and you notice that the indentations in the plate leave three of the grid's letters exposed — the very same three letters, as you later find out, that make up Venola's first name. "It was supposed to be a cute gift... but then... well... it came... it happened... and then, of course, you know where it ended up... where we both ended up... Here you go, kid," she rapidly concludes, giving you back both objects.
Really? On top of all of these deeply entangled ciphers, there's going to be relationship drama? Suddenly, the $100,000 prize just seems that much further away.
Third Floor: Introduction
The featureless, semi-circular elevator opens at the Complex's outer edge, and you make a welcome retreat from Alperin's diatribe. You take a deep breath of climatized air, inhaling faint odors of metal and fuel, and try to catch a moment of relaxation, but the trip is swift and you soon ascend to a curved door on which an illuminated number "21" is visible. The digits are separated as the door slides open from the middle, and you are projected out onto the third floor without further hesitation. The walls are a muted purple, and are more artificial-looking than ever. Your eyes are, of course, immediately drawn to Room 21's central computer terminal.
And they find that somebody is already using it.
A gray-uniformed man with long black hair, a mustache, and an ID badge marked Ray Venola is standing over the terminal ahead; as you step off the elevator platform, he is obviously aware of your arrival. Mr. Venola wraps up his terminal tasks, approaches you briskly, and recites what seems to be a brief, plagiarized, and intensely awful poem:
"Look the look,
talk the talk,
walk the walk.
Some things are just so nice,
you can say them twice."
And without another word, he is gone, resuming his brisk motion and departing via the elevator car from which you just emerged. Uncertain as to the meaning of this encounter, you step up to the terminal, but it simply reverts to its standard behavior, with another twenty-five-letter string flashing onto the screen. You read it, noting the letters below, and proceed on your usual quest around the floor.
It's still very early on when you reach this room, and you are unprepared to find another human being in one of these sterile purple cells... least of all one who is performing a cheerleading routine!
Lively but grating music — sounding to you like a Toto greatest hits album remixed with tomtom drumbeats — streams from some invisible speaker as Katherine Ward (you judge that to be her name, based on a brief glimpse you see of her while she is in motion) waves a pompom in the air and yells "Go-Go!" and "Hotshots!" at you, flaunting a tutu she is wearing alongside her normal gray uniform.
All attempts to initiate a conversation with Ms. Ward are fruitless, resulting only in giggles of "Heehee" and shouts of "No, no! I don't want to make a booboo!".
With extreme difficulty, you shut out the distraction and read this terminal's letter string:
Yet another gray-suited employee occupies this room, and this time, the occupancy is permanent. An immaculately finished wooden desk sits against the outer wall; perched atop it, a metal plate bears the name Clay McAlestor. But your encounter with Mr. McAlestor is, once again, over quickly.
As you are still approaching the terminal, he inspects his watch, exclaims "Oh, man! I've gotta fly!", and blasts off. You're not even sure whether he went through the left door or the right. The room is again still and sterile, and you read off the next string:
The Third Elevator
With your circuit of the 3rd Floor complete, the walls promptly hiss, signaling your ability to advance to the floor's Guardian. Sure enough, as you again proceed into the Complex's hub, a Labrycean employee in a black uniform guards the way ahead. This one is small, blond-haired, and, definitely for the first time, seemingly friendly.
"Heh," he says. "Good job here. I'm Sean Kinsella. I'm the third Guardian of Labryca — sorry, they told me I always have to say that — and I need a password."
"What—?" you ask, quite a popular question from you today.
"Need a hint?" Mr. Kinsella inquires. "Well, please don't ever, ever tell him I said this, but it's six letters."
Despite his encouraging nature, you are now more uncertain as ever. Mr. Kinsella picks up on your quizzical expression.
"Heh," Mr. Kinsella repeats. "Still confused? Only got three letters, maybe. Well, I hate to be a fly on the wall here, but I overheard Ms. Ward doing her thing out there earlier. I'd urge you to pay careful attention to her — ahem — 'quirks', and apply them to the password you got. You really don't want to 'make a booboo', do you?"
And a blank smile tells you that with this last statement, you have exhausted his bank of hints. You are on your own.
What password do you give to Mr. Kinsella to access the elevator?