This metapuzzle uses the following 7 feeders:
|City Placement||VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT|
|Kubernetes||EAST INDIA COMPANY|
|Now I Know||OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE|
Each puzzle is associated with a set of blanks in the conspiracy diagram. Each puzzle answer is the name of a fictional secret organization. We are looking for the leaders of each organization (hinted by “leads” in the flavortext). Since the histories of each organization vary, to disambiguate the connections some blanks are also for mottos (quotations), names of alternate identities of leaders (equal signs), and if they are canonically deceased (marked by X). Succession of leadership is indicated by arrow signs. The following table summarizes the information that goes in the blanks.
|Puzzle||Organization Name/Puzzle Answer||Franchise||Answers in Diagram||Explanation|
|CERBERUS||Mass Effect||JACK HARPER, ILLUSIVE MAN, EVA CORE, BEN HISLOP||Jack Harper renamed himself as the Illusive Man when he founded Cerberus. He originally served with mercenaries Eva and Ben, who are now deceased.|
|City Placement||VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT||A Series of Unfortunate Events||ISHMAEL, “THE WORLD IS QUIET HERE”, “FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE”||In the TV series story, Ishamel is the founder of the Volunteer Fire Department. The VFD is divided into two factions: The Fire-Fighting Side (“The World is Quiet Here”) and the Fire-Starting-Side (“Fight Fire with Fire”).|
|Conglomerate||HYDRA||Marvel||HIVE, JOHANN SCHMIDT, RED SKULL||HYDRA was founded by Hive and was led by Johann Schmidt, also known as Red Skull.|
|Diary||DOMINION||Star Trek||FOUNDERS, VORTA, JEMHADAR||The Founders established Dominion and created the two races Vorta and Jem’Hadar.|
|Kubernetes||EAST INDIA COMPANY||Pirates of the Caribbean||“DEO DUCENTE NIL NOCET”, CUTLER BECKETT||Deo Ducente Nil Nocet is the motto of the East India Trading Company led by Governor Cutler Beckett.|
|Now I Know||OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE||Halo||MARGARET PARANGOSKY, SERIN OSMAN||Serin Osman replaced Margaret Parangosky as Commander-in-Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence when Margaret resigned.|
|Weaver||PEACEKEEPERS||The Hunger Games||DISTRICT 12, COMMANDER HOFF, CRAY, ROMULUS THREAD||Commander Hoff was an earlier Head Peacekeeper in District 12. The position was later held by Cray and subsequently Romulus Thread, both of whose fates are canonically unknown though presumed dead.|
The completed conspiracy network looks like this:
Each string in the diagram connects a set of diagrams and leads to a leader of one of organizations, circled. The words or phrases spelled are in alphabetical order and are each a clue for the name of an unkeyed hash function. These hash functions must be applied to the names of the circled leaders. Note that hash functions are sensitive to capitalization and spaces. The intention here is that leader names are hashed uppercase and without spaces (shown by the similarly stylized puzzle names). Online tools such as this one and this one can be used to apply the hash algorithms.
|Circled Leader||Clue||Hash Function||Correct hash string||Given hash string|
Each resulting hash string nearly matches one of the hash strings at the bottom. The mismatched characters are always in sets of two. We can interpret these as hexadecimal values and take the difference between the characters in a correct hash string and the characters in the given hash string. The results are ordered by the position of the difference in the hashed string. Converting the resulting difference from ASCII, we get the answer THEY LEFT BIG INNER CIRCLES, referring to the state the leaders left their respective organizations in.
|Position||Hashed Word||Correct||Given||Diff (Dec)||Extract|