February 14, 2017, at UTC 11:28 am.

Welp. Forget about the Wow! signal. We've really been contacted by aliens this time – ones who have learnt English, too. Broken English, though, and even past the grammatical level – broken all the way to the graphemic level! Despite that, I think our team managed to squeeze meaningful words out of them.

Trouble is, they've been abducted. All we're left with is a record of the communications which took place, mostly overriden with noise, it seems, but with a few bits and pieces still coherent. I get the feeling that whatever message they had can be reconstructed from that, however...:

Green pot... Place of Agony?... Obtain..... Perhaps the moment of T... French meet... Prepared
*brief pause*
Quoth the raven... !... Stole back..... Verse: Jesus ____... UI?..... #unintentional... 1x(um um um)... 1 ppin?

Can you tell us what the message was?

  • $\begingroup$ Would [reverse-puzzling] be applicable? $\endgroup$
    – Mithical
    Feb 14 '17 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithrandir identifying the puzzle type isn't the aim of the puzzle, it's to find the message which it encodes. $\endgroup$ Feb 14 '17 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ Is the story relevant to solving? Or just the quoted rext matters? $\endgroup$
    – Techidiot
    Feb 14 '17 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Techidiot the story contains clues to the puzzle type, but only the quoted text is relevant to getting the actual message. $\endgroup$ Feb 14 '17 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ this is how aliens say "Happy Valentine's Day" ? $\endgroup$
    – Sikorski
    Feb 14 '17 at 13:25

Given how long this has been sat here, I'm not going to bother spoilering.

The main point here is a pun on the game Contact. What we're looking at is a series of Contact games, and the defenders' words constitute the message. The "..." separate Contact clues, leading to successive words passed by the defender; in each game the last word passed is the defender's actual word, which is a word of our message. Like this:

First game: defending G.
Green pot -> (something beginning G). Defending GE.
Place of Agony? -> GETHSEMANE. Defending GET.
Obtain -> GET, the defender's word. First word of message is GET.

Second game: defending R.
Perhaps the moment of T -> (something beginning R). Defending RE.
French meet -> RENDEZVOUS. Defending REA.
Prepared -> READY, the defender's word. Second word of message is READY.

Third game: defending N.
Quoth the raven -> NEVERMORE. Defending NO.
! -> NOT. Defending NOW.
Stole back -> NOW, the defender's word. Third word of message is NOW.

Fourth game: defending W.
Verse: Jesus ____ -> WEPT. Defending WE.
UI? -> WE, the defender's word. Fourth word of message is WE.

Fifth game: defending A.
#unintentional -> ART. Defending AT.
1x(um um um) -> ATRIUM. Defending ATT.
1 ppin? -> ATTACK, the defender's word. Fifth word of message is ATTACK.

The separators are ..... instead of ... at word boundaries. The "brief pause" presumably indicates a sentence boundary. So the message, in full, is "GET READY. NOW WE ATTACK."


The less-obvious clues: the "Agony" is that of Jesus, as reported in the New Testament, shortly before his betrayal and execution; the Raven is from Poe's poem; "!" means "not" in some programming languages; NOW is WON backwards; "Jesus wept" is famously the shortest verse in the Bible; "UI?" is (not a feeble sounds-like, as I thought; credit to Deusovi for pointing out a better explanation in comments) you+I, hence we; #unintentionalart is a hashtag used on Twitter, Tumblr etc. for images of things that have aesthetic merit by accident rather than design; 1x(um um um) is a tri-"um"; 1 ppin = 1 ttack = attack.


I don't know what "Green pot" is cluing, other than that it begins with G. Nor "Perhaps the moment of T" (though for that one I can dig up a few possibilities; e.g., if T is short for "truth" then it could be REVELATION, or Francesco ROSI who made a movie called "The moment of truth"). And OP informs me in comments that my solution to #unintentional is, er, #unintentional.


... to Deusovi for giving a much better explanation of "UI?" than mine. And to OP for reminding me to look at the .../..... distinction, which I had in fact noticed but then hadn't paid any attention to. Duh!

  • $\begingroup$ You've pretty much got it. The first clues for the first two words may well be too broad, although I like to think that the intended answers fit better than anything else. "UI?" does indeed clue WE, but not (only) for the reason you suggest. "#unintentional" does not clue ART however. Note also, not all the "..." separators are the same. $\endgroup$ Nov 26 '17 at 3:11
  • $\begingroup$ "UI?" is of course "you and I". $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Nov 26 '17 at 4:36

Okay no one has given it a try. So, I thought I would drop in some ideas which are almost certainly wrong:

Place of Agony=Hell?
Perhaps the moment of T = Time?
Prepared= Determined
Jesus= Christ?

No ideas about anything else though.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I assumed "truth" where you had "time" $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Feb 16 '17 at 0:41

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