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This puzzle is part of a series - part 1 is here and part 2 is here. Any comments I make on the OP are canonical and out of character (OOC). Any comments I post on answers are for flavour only.

Since part 2 turned out to be too easy (or at least, solved too quickly), part 3 is harder. If it turns out to be too hard, I will start hinting, but that won't happen within the first few hours. It's a puzzle - get thinking :-) This version has gone through about 5 revisions and I'm finally happy with it, and where the series is now going (shakes fist at skv).


You take a deep breath and settle yourself. In a moment of brilliance you realise that $\overline{XC}CCCLXXXIII$ is the Roman numeral for 90383, and the b on the end forms a hexadecimal colour. You quickly map this to the colour used on the & logo of the English Language & Usage Stack - it's an exact match!

Something's nagging at you in the back of your mind though - Handel seems strangely familiar. You cast your mind around... do you know any German composers? No, that's dumb. Male friends who wear wigs? Well, you know plenty of them but you don't think any of them are called Handel.

Hang on a second... "called Handel"... what if Handel is actually a handle for the real name? As soon as that occurs to you, you realise that a Doorknob is a synonym for "handle". Just like that, in one moment of brilliance you identify "Handel" and absolutely infuriate the narrator of the series, who was hoping to sneak that one under the radar for a little while.

Deciding that since you've already caused so many headaches, you figure your best lead would be to check out Doorknob's profile - it's more likely to have an unintentional clue than whatever fiendish and convoluted puzzle awaits you in EL&U. Besides, you're on the same Stack so it's not like you're going to cause the deaths of any more Stacks, right?

You open Doorknob's profile, and straight away you twig that something's clearly not right.

http://new.tinygrab.com/c158ca1523a3647daaedeb813e9478b0cbbefa711a.png

As you try to make sense of the mess, suddenly pop-up windows start appearing all over the screen. Initially they're white, but then they all start loading different Stacks! "Oh no... no, no, no, not good!" you cry, trying desperately to close them but there are just too many. As a last-gasp effort, you flick the power switch on the wall to turn your computer off. The screen goes black and the fans slowly whir to a stop.

You wait.

You fear starting the computer up again, but know that it's not going to be very helpful in bringing the attacker(s) to justice if you just leave it powered off all day, and it could be disastrous if they're allowed to run loose, unchecked. You steel yourself, take a deep breath and turn the computer back on.

You pull up your browser when the computers finishes booting up, and breathe a sigh of relief when absolutely nothing unusual at all happens. Browsing to Stack Exchange also seems safe enough - nothing explodes, the site looks normal, and for a moment you let yourself think that maybe everything's OK.

Then you look at the list of Stacks. An ominous message greets you, there are even more dead Stacks and critically, English Language & Usage has been killed. Your last lead has gone cold. You slump back in your seat, a sense of defeat beginning to crash down on you. What on earth can you do next?

OOC: Ask Ubuntu should be dead too - I missed that when making the image. I'll fix it for part 4.

enter image description here

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ and finally my name makes an appearance in the question in SE :) yay $\endgroup$ – skv Nov 13 '14 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ Who's Tim in the Doorknob profile? $\endgroup$ – Realdeo Nov 13 '14 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Joe Does it have something to do with codegolf and the brainfuck in the profile? $\endgroup$ – Lyrion Nov 13 '14 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ You know, it strikes me that maybe I shouldn't be leaving clues like almost all criminals from bad detective shows who have no reason to not just commit their crime without leaving behind obvious clues indicating who they are... especially since we have a Puzzling site and- uhh, I mean, wait, I'm innocent I have no idea what you're talking about $\endgroup$ – Doorknob Nov 13 '14 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ I can confirm 100% that @Doorknob is not the big bad guy... not any more, anyway. Thanks skv :P Anyway, it's standard knowledge that baddies always leave puzzles to help you catch them. They're just desperate for attention or something $\endgroup$ – Joe Nov 13 '14 at 15:30
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This is all I've got so far but I'm at work and shouldn't be on PSE. :)

Check out Area 51.

Why?

Collectively earth, wind, fire, and water are the elements. Badly annoy Tim: anagram ANNOYTIM into the element antimony, symbol Sb, atomic number 51. "We are not alone" also fits Area 51.

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    $\begingroup$ That is some seriously convoluted logic. Nice find; even if it turns out to be incorrect! $\endgroup$ – BradleyDotNET Nov 13 '14 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ see his comments on my doubts in this area... :) he will soon be here to mark it as correct... @Joe where are you (6 40 PM probably stuck in london traffic) $\endgroup$ – skv Nov 13 '14 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ While skiving during a tediously show morning's work, you start sleuthing away on an incredibly complicated problem. After a little while, you jump on to PSE and open this question. You instantly spot the anagram indicator, and unscramble "antimony" and connect half the dots (antimony translates as "not alone", killed sites are all math related to suggest the number of antimony). Confident that you're on to a winner, you head over to Area 51... $\endgroup$ – Joe Nov 13 '14 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ (OOC) I'm glad this lasted a bit longer than the last one. Good work :-) I had a few routes to antimony but I think the others were just plain unfair :-P part 4 will be on the way in a little while. Oh, and @skv, what was your previous comment? I saw it changed while I was out but didn't read it properly first time around :-P $\endgroup$ – Joe Nov 13 '14 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ Yay, my first real PSE points! $\endgroup$ – shoover Nov 13 '14 at 21:12
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Joke answer:

RPG

I dunno. Blind guess. I look at that final line. There's 2 'fullstop' for stop. The last fullstop seems to be looped over. So 3 output letter

If this correct. Wow. But let's hope not.

Serious answer:

Please wait. I'm compiling this using pen and paper.

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    $\begingroup$ You throw your hands up in the air in despair, close your eyes and point at the screen. When you open them again, you're pointing at the RPG Stack. You toy with the idea of clicking on it, but decide that you don't actually just want to see the world burn. There has to be a more sensible way to go about this $\endgroup$ – Joe Nov 13 '14 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ (OOC) Feel free to keep guessing, naturally :-) $\endgroup$ – Joe Nov 13 '14 at 14:43
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I think the killer is:

Tim Post because he is the only Tim that appears both in Moderators and puzzling.

The site is:

Judaism stack exchange: I just googled "earth, wind, fire and water stackexchange"
Probably not a good answer after all.

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    $\begingroup$ You decide to try to track down this "Tim" fella. Thanks to your eidetic memory, you remember seeing someone called Tim who, like Handel/DoorKnob, is a Moderator on the Moderators Stack (despite that Stack now being dead). You desperately try to make sense of the rest of the words though, but nothing seems to fit. You get the nagging feeling that maybe you're taking things too literally, and the puzzle may be subtler than just giving someone's name away so cheaply - it feels too easy $\endgroup$ – Joe Nov 13 '14 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Joe: Tim Post is a staff member here at StackExchange. $\endgroup$ – Kaz Wolfe Nov 13 '14 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @New (OOC) He linked to the Moderators.SE profile though :-) it's still not right :-P $\endgroup$ – Joe Nov 13 '14 at 17:56
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I hope you don't mind me making up an alternative plot?

OK IC:

You are in complete desperation, unable to think off what to do next. You cannot dare touching another stack, which would simply result in another stack being killed. You cannot dare entering another page on StackExchange, where another vicious trap like on DoorKnob's profile might await you. You cannot search the internet - who knows in which other forums the killers are involved, and where they might have set up traps too...

If there just was a way to revive the sites...

And then it strikes to you. It's so obvious you can't believe you didn't think of that earlier.

What for do you have Nitromega Time Engine installed, after all???

You roll your browser closed. There is no time to waste. You double-click your Nitromega Suite desktop shortcut, navigate to the Time Engine settings and enable the "Activate" checkbox. Then you open your browser again, navigate to the Stack list and put the windows side by side.

After that, you close your eyes, realizing the magnitude of what you're about to do. You are starting a program able to recover the entire StackExchange page not from some backup on a server - from time! From the pure, unfiltered memory of the Universe! You take a deep breath, trembling in reverence to the power at your fingertips, open your eyes, and click on "Apply".

At the same moment, you see powerful waves of healing spreading across your browser window. Nitromega applications not only have the power to operate on space and time - they are also known for their effect animations. You see particles of life power forming a maelstrom of joyful energy on the Stack Overflow icon, and then, with a mighty flash of aura, it's the same as it was before it all started. Next is Ask Ubuntu, then Ask Different, then LaTeX... One by one, the stacks return back to life.

You feel excitement about the power you just experienced. Now DoorKnob and the other killers won't touch Stacks any more! Not because they lose interest - because you, the possessor of the most powerful tool in the computer world, won't let them!

You want the killers to know they are defeated, you want to make their defeat public with a post, along the lines of "How do you like THAT, eh?" So you click on Moderators Stack Exchange. What do you care that it will kill a Stack - you will simply revive it again!

For a few seconds your browser is hanging. Long enough to make you realize you won't need to revive a Stack. It won't come to that - Nitromega is loading an animation...

An undistinguishable figure appears, with a knife in its hand. It's heading straight towards Puzzling SE, which is going to be its next victim. For a moment, your heart stands still - Nitromega won't let that happen, will it?

Then, straight in the path of the figure appears - Mega Man! He's surrounded by a rainbowish aura of power. You remember exactly where you have seen that, you know exactly what's about to happen... And sure enough, Mega Man is firing a huge black hole - his Final Smash.

A roar of victory emerges from you as you see Mega Man and his allies blowing the figure away as though it was a Jigglypuff at 500% damage. You turn on your speakers, just in time to hear the famous "COM - DEFEATED!" Yes, the Stack killers are defeated - once and for all!

OOC:

Disclaimer: Nitromega and all its products are pure fiction. Software with the power to rule over space and time does not exist and will most probably never exist either.

Another disclaimer: I'm not affilated with Nintendo or any co-producers of Super Smash Bros or Mega Man. I'm just a fan hyping Super Smash Bros 4 along my posts.

Another disclaimer: I know that this story does not fit the spirit of a puzzle, being rather a brute force solution. But that's what I would do in reality - if the software existed, which is not so, and if such a situation ever occurred, which will almost certainly (and hopefully) never happen either.

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