Welcome to the story of 'Sara and the Nightclub Riddler'.
Within this story are the clues you need to help Sara solve the challenges she encounters. The clues are found throughout the story.
Each time a story challenge is solved; it adds another level to your eChallengeCoin and continues the story. The story also contains two Easter Eggs which have no effect on the challenges but have been included for bragging rights.
Press ENTER when you are ready!
After Sara checked into the hotel, she immediately went to her room and began her settling-in routine. Her hotel room was posh by her usual standards. The large room even had a sitting area for 4 and a bright floral arrangement. There were definitely perks to being on a client's expense account.
She unpacked her luggage and hung everything up. Anything needing to be pressed was tossed on the bed. Her toiletry bag was hung by the bath.
Sara never bothered with the room alarm clock so it was unceremoniously tossed in the drawer. In its place, she plugged in her phone charger.
With her tasks done, she took a moment to relax in the small sitting area. On the table was a basket with fresh fruits, a selection of snacks, and a half dozen mini-water bottles . The card read:
Terry was always the consummate professional and forward thinking business woman. This week, she had invited Sara to Las Vegas to attend the Creative Counter-Security Conference.
Sara's assignment this trip was not her usual "social interface" role. Terry had hired her to use her skills and the recent training she had received from Terry's firm. As such Sara had brought a couple extra items to help capture notes and thoughts and to log all of her interactions.
This trip would be a welcome change from DC which had become something of a ghost town - unusual for the Capital city. Sara's client contracts had been sparse and she had taken advantage of the extra time for educational opportunities like Terry's seminars.
With a little luck, Sara hoped to have some personal time to check out the night scene.
Sara went down to the lounge around 6pm to meet up with Terry and get her instructions for the next few days. After this evening, Sara and Terry had separate agendas for the rest of the conference.
Terry had a car take them off the strip to Hanabi for dinner. It gave them a chance to discuss the conference itinerary and Sara's responsibilities.
Terry knew this would likely be the least hectic time and suggested they not rush dinner. They ordered a drink before dinner. Sara ordered hot Shochu - a taste she acquired from an international client who worked at the Japanese-American Society in DC. Terry said, "You're just full of surprises!"
When the waiter returned, Terry requested they order a couple items at a time - more like a tapas bar than a sushi restaurant. The waiter was happy to comply. The plan turned out to be ideal and the food was excellent. Terry had a well-deserved reputation for knowing the best people, places and things. It was part of her trade craft.
Terry ran a successful "security vulnerabilities" training firm in DC. Sara had met Terry at a gala event three years ago. They stayed in touch and eventually Sara signed up for some of Terry's seminars to aid in her regular clients' engagements. Sara's quick assimilation of the social engineering skills was what prompted Terry to hire her for this trip. Sara had a knack for reading body language and for controlling it. Her ability to steer conversations was both natural and imperceptible.
The two talked through dinner. Terry wanted Sara to attend several talks but primarily to assess three international consulting firms who were attending the conference - Cyfrinach from Wales, Hemlighet from Sweden, and Sirun from Saudi Arabia.
Terry's firm was growing and planned to expand globally. Her best method was to create a consortium - cross training several firms - and eventually bring them under a single brand. Terry needed to know if the firms would be a good fit. She also wanted to flush out potential problems.
Sara was comfortable with the assignment. Even without the extra training she had received, her social consulting skills allowed her to quickly set new contacts at ease and to steer conversations. The difference this time was she needed to not only get the people at these firms talking but also assess their current clients and training methodologies.
Sara was registered at the conference under her own consulting business. This solved the whole back-stopping problem since it was real and had been active for years.
It was getting late. The car took Sara back to her hotel and then continued on to Terry's hotel.
The next morning, Sara proceeded to the registration desk to pick up her credentials and the conference materials. She planned to spend the morning attending a couple of talks and then use the breaks to locate members of the three firms. Once she had some contacts, she would adjust her schedule to attend the same talks. Thinking of them as 'targets' was an odd concept for Sara. Her usual assignments were to provide a social buffer for her clients at their own business events.
During the first break, Sara wandered the coffee area listening for languages and accents which may suggest any of the firms. It wasn't long before she found attendees from all three companies. She made notes of their names, physical appearance, and what they were wearing.
When it was time for the next session, Sara stayed back a moment to watch which session the members of Hemlighet planned to attend. In the session she sat back a few rows from the Hemlighet members to watch their body language. She also needed to split her attention with the speaker to be comfortable with the session material. Sara repeated this tactic for the remainder of the day - eventually attended sessions with various members of both Cyfrinach and Sirun.
The conference organizers were hosting a reception that evening. It was Sara's first opportunity to socially engage any of the people she had identified from Hemlighet, Cyfrinach, and Sirun.
Sara decided to return to her room to freshen up and change before the reception.
When Sara got back to her room, she realized it had been a full day already. She decided a bottle of water and a hot shower would be a good refresher.
She grabbed one of the mini waters and then set out her clothes for the reception. She had brought along her sleek high neck sleeveless black dress. It also brought attention to her ginger hair. She wanted to be noticeable while also being comfortable.
She pulled the card from the basket and a second card fell out. The white card was plain and only had the typed message. The second card was dark red with a gold embossed logo - a pair of dice within a playing card. Sara picked up the card and looked for a name. There was nothing more on the front. When she flipped it over, there was a hand written note:
The riddle would have to wait. She needed to get ready for the conference reception. This was a work event for her.
Sara grabbed an orange for some quick energy and then took a shower.
The shower was both relaxing and a chance to collect her thoughts. She tried to focus on the reception and how she wanted to approach the three companies. But it was the rhyme that kept interrupting her train of thought.
Mostly refreshed and recharged, Sara dressed for the reception. She collected a few items in her clutch, including the red card and a room key, and then headed down to the reception.
At the reception, Sara made quick work of locating the people she wanted. She didn't need to cover everything Terry had requested. Her goal was only to strike up conversations and be sufficiently memorable to "run into them" more easily over the next couple of days.
Sara started with the group from Cyfrinach. They were easy to spot at the bar. She struck up a conversation about the session they were all in. Eventually, she had names, job titles, and a general understanding on their target clients. She didn't want to push her luck so she made a bit more small talk before excusing herself.
The group from Hemlighet had taken a small table near the middle of the room. Sara briefly interrupted their conversation to ask about a folk art printed scarf one of the women was wearing. It was clear they were not very interested in the conference and gave Sara the shortest of answers. She took the cue and apologized for the interruption.
The last company Sara needed to connect with was the Sirun from Saudi Arabia. They had positioned themselves far off to one side. Sara didn't speak any Arabic and, as a woman, needed to be respectful of the all-male group. She decided the best angle was to appear unaware of proper protocol and see if they would be forgiving and let down their guard . It was something of a long shot but to her surprise, it worked.
All but one of the men was young and appeared to be close to Sara's age. They each introduced themselves. Sara repeated back each name to help her remember and also to give them a chance to open up when hearing their name. Very quickly they started asking Sara all sorts of questions. Personal questions got short answers. Any questions about the conference or corporate security gave her the chance to reply with some open ended questions of her own. She used their question about legal security work to learn Sirun had been quite successful with international legal firms.
Sara noticed the time and needed to find a polite way to end the conversation. She suggested they continue the next day. The elder man, who had been mostly quiet to the point, said they would be happy to discuss more over coffee and suggested one of the open areas in the hotel. Sara made a note of the place and time and extended her appreciation for their conversation and generosity.
While Sara could have spent more time at the reception, there was a growing voice in her head repeating the rhyme. If "11" meant 11pm then she had less than 2 hours to solve the riddle.
Sara went to the lobby bar and found a quiet booth. After ordering champagne, she pulled out the card. She had so many questions. Was it from someone at the conference? Was it from Terry? If not, then how had someone added it to the basket? There was also the obvious question of how did Sara miss it the first time around, but she forgave herself for that gaffe.
Staring at the card, nothing new popped out. She looked at the logo carefully. She didn't recognize it as any hotel or any sponsor of the conference. So, she focused on the rhyme. Time was running out. If it meant 11pm then she now had less than an hour. There would be music, food, wine (and presumably a bar). It had to be relatively close.