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The finale of a three part series:

Part 1 - The disappearance of Beastly Gerbil
Part 2 - The entrapment of Beastly Gerbil


I have a lot to think about... firstly I disappeared for two years, and now it turns out I was trapped in my own brain...

Well I'm out now and I'm back. I don't really recall how I escaped to be honest, all I know is that I did. But surely there was something that I managed to focus on to get me out...

Wait... where am I? I don't recognise any of my surroundings... am I... day dreaming?

In front of me is a bus stop, but it looks... odd. Like it's not supposed to be there. I'm going to take a closer look...

The wall in front of me seems to be some advert for 'PSE Buses'...

![enter image description here

The logo for the company looks weirdly familiar, although I don’t know what the text is referring to. Every 7 what... why is it free?

$\quad$    enter image description here

The bus routes don't seem to have a map, they're just random lines, maybe the map is missing... (click for a better resolution image)

$\qquad$$\qquad$$\qquad$$\qquad$$\quad$ enter image description here

I take a look at the bus time. It looks like gibberish but I made a copy of it to see if it might mean something, and wrote out the text. Surely this means something, it certainly looks like some of it is encrypted, what could the key be...

FROM         TO           Here as bus, train or taxi
-wl.titbcpj  uq.vjtaftn   Likely bus or train
xq.pnzjjrl   c.rvhujjp    Could be any who knows
-lx.ovjbhdn  fzm.mmbbill  Probably bus if it will stop
wn.qmtggth   ulv.hcjkset  Actually could be a plane
-ks.gcjjqeu  jqf.xdinmzq  For certain bus as thats the topic
qe.zfdpfc    -pq.gtiipnz  Obviously bus if it will halt
-kr.gtehtec  -mv.lvjjtlx  However this could be a taxi next
vq.bmtipwx   xx.evetqmg   Really sure it’s a bus just watch
lm.rwtipmk   qz.mmibwwm   Bus please
iw.itsgcsf   jq.eltmjwf   Quite sure its all
qz.hmhjdat   af.lxbsped   Uncertain need more info
ga.yketzrx   id.prtipvx   Yeah it’s a bus thats coming
aa.teebdiw   wf.ededlvx   Probably bus too

Finally there is the bus info, I hoped it could've helped me understand everything but it's just as confusing. I feel like it’s hiding something though...

Hello, if you are in here, probably stopped to read a snippet, a stop is right there! Lets kindly help here, you can stop. Come, we have loads of options waiting. Probably though, as this is muddled up, you’re somewhat addled. Fear not in here! Only some dare to stop. You shall have a bus, be fast ok? Hurry on please, all buses, aka who steers, very fast drive on. Rest now. Be placid. I assume from this that you see what comes soon. Jog on, move! For buses drive and only pause if asked.

@54.3692178,-1.6505385,10z


I'm incredibly confused... but I feel like this is meant to tell me what helped me escape.

Can you help me make sense of all of this?


I will add one hint every 24 hours since posting...

Hint 1:

Some has already been solved in the comments. Jens wrote:

'I took every 7th letter of the bus info which gave me "FIRST S ARE KEY TWO PARTS MUST FIND THE FULL KEY IS PARTS COMBINED"'

And Kralc wrote:

'The last line of the bus info looks like a Google Maps location link? - google.com/maps/@54.3692178,-1.6505385,10z'

Both of these are correct. The hint is that I could have added 'sentence' before the first line of the riddle.

Hint 2:

It seems that the 'FROM' 'TO' text is encrypted with a vigenere cipher. Can you decrypt it?

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Complete sidenote, making letters from the site logo looks really cool... $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Apr 5 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ Seems like you're very busy. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Apr 5 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ When you say "riddle" in Hint 1, do you mean the bus info? $\endgroup$ – Jens Apr 7 at 5:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Jens as the latest hint says, the cipher is a vigenere cipher $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Apr 7 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Jens I'm willing to be quite open with hints lol as I really didn't think this would take that long. What keys have you used/ciphertext? I might have made something not very obvious or there might be a small error somewhere. I've gone through and all the reproduced results where the ones I expected tho :) $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Apr 7 at 19:51
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The way Beastly Gerbil escaped was by focusing on

PUZZLES!

If we apply the "Every 7" clue to the

Bus info, by taking every 7th letter, we get the message "FIRSTS ARE KEY. TWO PARTS MUST FIND. THE FULL KEY IS PARTS COMBINED".

Now, we know that the From/To parts of the bus schedule are encrypted

So, the KEY in the message above presumably refers to the encryption key. Notice that there are 13 entries in the bus schedule and also 13 sentences in the bus info. I initially thought the FIRSTS referred to the first word in the bus info sentences, but hints by OP indicated that it was in fact the first letter that was relevant.

So

Taking the first letter of each of the bus info sentences gives HLCPFOYHRBIJF. If we now use this as the key in a Vigenere cipher for the first entry in the From/To columns (which is -wl.titbcpj uq.vjtaftn), we get "-pa.rtoneis ti.mempdei". The first 13 letters here give "PART ONE IS TIME".

And (thank you @Kralcl!)

If we take the first letters of the bus schedule sentences including the title we get HLCPAFOHRBQUYP. Applying this as a new key to the first entry, gives "-pa.rttwois ta.bletury", i.e. "PART TWO IS TABLE". Combining part one and part two gives TIMETABLE.

Using this as a new key

on all entries in the From/To columns gives:

-dd.heabbef bi.jfaaeij
ei.djgjigh j.jjdbjie
-he.gjfihcc bge.aiibhah
df.eiagfid bdj.djjjhaa
-cg.cjjifab beb.edhcigi
ea.gfcebj -he.caihejg
-cf.caegiaj -ej.hcjiihe
ne.xtthese pl.acesfin
da.ndtheir in.itialst
ak.easfrom be.astlysm
in.dthiswa st.hebreak
yo.uresone ar.lythere
so.pleased ot.akecare

The bottom six entries give the message

NEXT THESE PLACES FIND AND THEIR INITIALS TAKE AS FROM BEASTLYS MIND THIS WAS THE BREAK YOU'RE SO NEARLY THERE SO PLEASE DO TAKE CARE.

So

We need to convert the top seven entries into coordinates, i.e. numbers. Notice that the entries only have letters in the interval A to J. The clue to conversion is the two sentences under the "Every 7!!" line. They start with "A zero..." and "Be one...", which suggests using A = 0, B = 1, etc for the conversion.

If we do this we get

-33.7401145 18.9500489
48.3969867 9.9931984
-74.6958722 164.0881707
35.4806583 139.3999700
-26.2998501 141.4372868
40.652419 -74.2087496
-25.2046809 -49.7298874

Looking these up using Google Maps/Earth we find

Paarl Rock, South Africa
Ulm, Germany
Zucchelli Station, Antarctica
Zama Station, Japan
Lake Yamma Yamma, Australia
Elizabeth, USA
Sete Saltos, Brazil

Finally,

Taking the first letters of each location spells PUZZLES!

Postscript

The bus route diagram and the coordinates at the bottom of the bus info was another clue (not used by me). If the coordinates are entered into Google Maps and the route lines are overlayed, we get this image. Following the lines in the rainbow order gives "LATLONG", a hint to look for coordinates.

There was also an easter egg in the bus schedule sentences. The last letters of each sentence gives "inspect the logo", presumably a reference to the final answer.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wow you’re so close to the next part :P but surely if the other key gives ‘part two’ then the key will also have to start with HLCP... there’s your hint for today :) $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Apr 8 at 10:56
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    $\begingroup$ rot13(Gur svefg yrggref bs gur terra pbyhza tvir UYPCNSBUEODHLC -> "cneg gjb vf gnoyr" Eha gur pvcure ntnva (ba gur jubyr oybpx bs pvcuregrkg) jvgu "GVZRGNOYR" tvirf "arkg gurfr cynprf svaq naq gurve vavgvnyf gnxr nf sebz ornfgylf zvaq guvf jnf gur oernx lbher fb arneyl gurer fb cyrnfr qb gnxr pner" ng gur raq) $\endgroup$ – Kralc Apr 8 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried overlaying your coords and the route map diagram? $\endgroup$ – Stiv Apr 8 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv Only by eye by looking at a world map. Didn't seem to fit. Not sure how to try it electronically. $\endgroup$ – Jens Apr 8 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Jens this is the answer!! Congrats! I'll give you the rest as it may be difficult to reach and is non-essential to the rest. If you go to google.com/maps/@54.3692178,-1.6505385,10z and overlay the bus routes you get the following: i.stack.imgur.com/cDZFf.png and taking the letters from the rainbow (ROYGBIV) gives 'LATLONG' - it's not huge on the impact of the puzzle it was just a bonus :) The other bonus is the last letters of the bus info say 'inspect the logo'. If you want to edit those in I can give you the check! :) $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Apr 8 at 20:22

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