Year Zero Trail

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Last updated: 2007-04-08

Please note that this file is incomplete. Everything in it so far is thought to be true and accurate, but the discoveries of the past week or thereabouts are only skeletal bullet-points rather than complete narrative.

This document will attempt to describe the trail of websites, puzzles, objects, email, and phone numbers for the Year Zero experience. Because different people may find things in a different order and because things can get quite hectic when something new is found, there may be a few inaccuracies. If you have anything you would like to contribute, please contact me at . When possible, I have linked to the ARG content, which is so much more rich and detailed than this summary. Please do yourself a favor and don't simply read this trail, but also click out to the source material. You will get a much more fulfilling experience.

Table of Contents
[Year Zero] [I Am Trying To Believe] [Another Version Of The Truth] [Be The Hammer] [Consolidated Mail Systems] [105th Airborne Crusaders] [Church of Plano] [Real World] [US Wiretap] [More From The Real World] [Hollywood In Memoriam] [Secure Broadcast Informatics/Solutions Backward Initiative] [Survivalism Video] [The Water Turned To Blood] [Judson Ogram Correctional Facility] [Cedocore] [The Water Turned To Blood - Bridge] [Operation Swamp 0000] [Operation Chip Sweep] [Survivalism Garage Band File] [The Mailstrom] [Another Version of the Truth - revisionism] [The Prince of Treason] [The "24"Codes]

Year Zero

Before beginning, I highly recommend you visit The site itself has changed a few times over the past few weeks, but at the time of writing has a Year Zero trailer that will certainly put you in the right mood for starting along the trail.

Throughout your travels through the websites and physical artifacts, be sure to keep an eye open for number strings of the format "24.xx.yy". At present, the exact nature of these numbers is not known, but a listing and several theories are below in the numbers section.

I Am Trying To Believe

Phone Number

As Nine Inch Nails tours around Europe, someone discovered that the concert shirts have highlighted letters spelling out iamtryingtobelieve. This led to the website, a paranoia-fueled rant about terrorism, a mysterious phenomenon, and the water supply. While no date is specifically given, it's safe to say that it is the not-too-distant future. (Outside the context of the game, Trent specifically says: "It takes place about 15 years in the future. Things are not good. If you imagine a world where greed and power continue to run their likely course, you'll have an idea of the backdrop. The world has reached the breaking point — politically, spiritually and ecologically.")

In this future, according to the author of the website, a chemical called Parepin (generic name: zeridine) is being added to the water, much like fluoride, under the guise of combatting bioterrorism, but that actually makes the populous more easily controlled by those in power. Side effects may include hallucinations, which is one explanation for this "hand of God" that people reportedly see. The rare few people who don't drink the Parepin water have much more clarity--they are more awake, more able to experience strong emotions, and such.

The author invites you to email him, but if you do, a canned response is returned:


Thank you for your interest. It is now clear to me that Parepin is a completely safe and effective agent developed to protect us from bio-terrorism. The Administration is acting purely in the best interests of its citizens; to suggest otherwise was irresponsible and I deeply regret it.

I'm drinking the water. So should you.

It's interesting to note there are 24 dashes, 14 dashes, and 2 dashes: 24.14.2.

Another Version Of The Truth

Next, Another Version Of The Truth was found by fans plugging song names from the new album into their browser. (It was also simultaneously found by employing reverse-DNS trickery, but that's not as fun.) This is a site that speaks more about the political climate of Year Zero, starting off with a very patriotic image that you can scrub over by dragging your mouse, revealing some fragmented message boards.

The first message thread talks about this "hand of God" apparition, known as "The Presence"--people debating over what it is, the authenticity of the pictures, etc. In person, it supposedly really does look like a hand from the sky, digging its fingers into the ground, with the knuckles clearly visible. On camera, it can't easily be captured.

A number of threads talk about violent versus nonviolent resistance and vigilanteism, with one in particular pointing to Be The Hammer. Elsewhere, someone links to an MP3 recording of a man (formerly of the 105th Airborne Crusaders) describing a pretty extreme act of violent resistance (bordering on domestic terrorism) during a baseball game.

One thread talks about the media reports of cops that brought down a terrorist cell, but includes a chilling MP3 recording of a victim's cellphone conversation, which recorded the event, and tells a much different story.

Another thread is a discussion on Opal, a new drug, and includes an MP3 report from Columbia about it. A later comment in the thread points to consolidatedmailsystems, with the login "nooneimportant". The Spanish spoken in the MP3 file translates to (ref):

When I was a girl things weren't easy, but now it rains and rains. We haven't even dried the coca leaves and then they left. They say its because of global warming. 2 years ago the river took my brothers house, it took my brother his wife, my nephew, and the baby girl. We found her covered with mud and when she dried out she resembled ashes. Last year was difficult but the men who by the coca leaves told us to grow what we could and we did it and they they took it. We waited and we waited and then finally they told us that they could not pay us because nobody wants to by coca leaves. [baby crying in the background] [talking to it baby:] shhhhhh... there there pretty girl. This year the rains returned and we could not grow anything. Now the people say that nobody will buy the coca leaves, its not worth anything to anyone. In Bogotá they only want OPAL. They buy OPAL in the United States and they bring it to Bogotá... OPAL

Overall, this gives us some rich background information as well as several new sites. We're also starting to notice some numbers that initially look like they might be dates (in 2024?), but will later find out that several are impossible to interpret as dates (with months going beyond 12, etc.)

Be The Hammer

Be The Hammer appears to be a do-it-yourself terrorism-against-the-government manifesto. It was written by an ex 105th Airborne Crusader--very likely the same person who recorded ballgameOver. The site goes into detail about killing, efficiency ("You can make a difference. A credit card and a hardware store can make you a hero but you have to use them efficiently."), picking out targets, intentionally being a loner so your cohorts don't nark on you, and interrogation techniques.

Consolidated Mail Systems

Consolidated Mail Systems has the appearance of a webmail system. Interestingly enough, when you visit the main page, you get automatically redirected to Following this pattern, we replace "citizen_unknown" with "nooneimportant" (from the Another Version Of The Truth thread.) This leads to a page detailing Opal. While a footnote refers to a website called "Opalescent Haze," it has been determined by both the community at large, and eventually by the site owners, that this is a fansite and not actually part of official Year Zero canon.

Clicking on the page brings up a JavaScript warning dialog stating (note the date-like number):

WARNING CODE 24.10.4 (All page functionality disabled): You are not the citizen assigned to this account. Close this window immediately and stay where you are. Authorities will be in contact shortly for appropriate reeducation.

105th Airborne Crusaders

Presumably, this would have been found by the references in both the ballgame MP3 and Be The Hammer. In actuality, it was found in a much more mundane way--through examining IP addresses.

The 105th Airborne Crusaders is a very patriotic page dedicated to this armed services division. The site is pretty sparse of information and does not immediately provide leads to follow. Perhaps the names and locations in the Memories page will dovetail with future information.

Church of Plano

The Church of Plano is another site that was discovered via DNS, although it was also mentioned in the nohurry.mp3 file on Another Version of the Truth. It is a small site, but its content helps us paint a more clear picture of the future. It presents fear of "The Presence" as well as "Plano's Faithful Civil Patrol," which looks like a militaristic vigilante church group that performs "neighborhood cleansing."

Real World

Numeric shirt

At this point, several real-world artifacts provide more clues. Another tour shirt has highlighted numbers that form the phone number 310-295-1040 (ref). Additionally, a USB key was found in the restroom at a NIN concert containing "My Violent Heart."

The phone number holds an outgoing message, in a style similar to the Another Version Of The Truth MP3 files. It talks about presidential elections, American values, contains a clip of "Survivalism," and fades out to some morse code spelling 24.15.2.

The song, when run through a spectrometer, reveals an image of "The Presence" in the static at the end. The ID3 tag within this file references (probably how we were intended to find it, rather than blindly putting in song names), the word "dig" and the code "24.3.2".

The Presence

Next, someone in Barcelona discovered a USB key with new content (ref). This one contains the song "Me, I'm Not" and "2432.mp3" There's no ID3 information in these, but notice the song name follows the format of our 24.3.2 numbers. Putting the latter file through a spectrograph reveals a new phone number, 216-333-1810.

Phone Number

This new phone number's message mentions US Wiretap and references a case number. It is a recording of a daughter on a cellphone calling her mother, with the daughter trapped (by the police) in a building in which something brutal was happening. Morse code static at the end tells us 24.3.1.

US Wiretap

The most recent phone number leads to US Wiretap, which needs a case number. Fortunately, that was also provided in the MP3: 71839J. This shows a rather bleak overview of the incident recorded in the phone call. As something was happening in an old building ("There were 112 people locked in an underground nightclub.... They were murdered over the course of 2 days, hunted down and torn to bloody pieces."), the feds padlocked the doors shut from the outside(!), then the police were brought in to handle crowd control. There is some question as to whether the "feds" are really feds or are possibly some secret branch of government.

As speculated by a player (ref):

The girl in the phonetap says that the guy with the knife was sweating blood. Later, just before whoever it is gets to her in the stock room she screams that she is bleeding too; "there is blood coming out of my skin". It seems quite possible that the knifeguy infected her with something, and quite possibly everyone else at the venue, leading to the subsequent decision of cleansing the place with a flamethrower. What happened to the woman coming out, crying orange tears may also be a result of that infection.

More From The Real World

Paris Flyer

A red flyer handed out at the Paris show points us to Art Is Resistance. While there are a lot of attempts by the Year Zero government to block viewing of this page ("violation of the Federal Orderly Conduct Act Section 24.13.1"), it is easy enough to get around. The tools page provides a lot of great guerilla marketing type stuff for you to download and use: stickers, posters, stencils, icons, backgrounds, and avatars.

One of the pages on Art Is Resistance points to a previously unknown page on Another Version Of The Truth: artist.htm. This thread contains a bunch of people talking about how they've used the Art Is Resistance materials, as well as more violent versus nonviolent resistance.

A third USB drive was found at the Manchester show. This one contains the song In This Twilight as well as an image called invitation.jpg. This image points us to Hollywood In Memoriam.

Hollywood In Memoriam

Hollywood In Memoriam is a tribute to the 81st Academy Awards (2009), in which dirty bombs were deployed by Islamic extremists, spreading a pall of radiactive dust across the Greater LA area. [It is possible that this is the event in LA referred to by The 105th's History page as being in September -13BA? ...maybe not because they are held at the beginning of the year.] The archive page lists names, descriptions, and pictures of people who were lost in the event--similar to what was done for 9/11.

Secure Broadcast Informatics/Solutions Backward Initiative

HD DVD Insert HD DVD Insert HD DVD Insert

On the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD versions of "Beside You In Time," the text "solutions backward initiative" was discovered on the insert. (ref) This text is detailed in HDDVD-001.jpg, HDDVD-002.jpg, and HDDVD-003.jpg. The domain instantly redirects to At first glance, this is the website of a company dealing with communications and encryption. It is a company supported by the Department of Defense and is a high security environment. A contact email address is given, which returns the following autoresponse (note the number of ">" characters:2, 4, 1, 9, and 1 or 24.19.1):

As I write this, cops are coming to arrest me and my friends for trying to make America a better place to live. I'm an IT specialist, they are mostly scientists, ranging from graduate students to eminent professors. None of us are soldiers. None of us wanted to hurt anybody. We weren't in favor of violence-just the same free speech that used to be your right under the constitution.

If you look down, you will see an email I got two days ago. Is this the kind of country you want to live in? Are these the choices you want to make?

If you wanted a job here at SBI, ask yourself *which America do I want to defend?*

If you think about that for even a little while, be careful: the cops will be coming for you next.

Francisco Parro

IT consultant

PS I'm sorry, Elaina. If they had come to me even a little sooner, I would have betrayed my friends to save you. Now it's too late for any of us.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr,
der protestieren konnte.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

From: <blocked>
Content: hidden bandwidth

Dear Sir:

>>It has come to the attention of the Bureau of Morality's Internet Monitoring Taskforce that several of the clients for whom you handle IT seem to show bandwidth loads that do not match their formally submitted audit numbers.

>>>>We have asked for clarification of this matter on three occasions. Your replies have been either evasive or insufficient or simply late. Frankly, speaking as one human being to another, it has been as bad as dealing with a health insurance company.

You may be aware of that frustration yourself, in the lengthy delays you have encountered trying to process the papers for your wife's breast cancer treatments. So I know you understand our frustration, and will be motivated to do your very best to explain these bandwidth discrepancies.

>You may submit any information in the full confidence that it will remain anonymous.

>>>>>>>>>Perhaps your wife will start feeling better soon.

>A friend

The fragments on the page can be moved with your mouse and will form a login box and will reveal a username and password: "carolina" and "Matt 26: 45-46". Matt 26:45-46 is the following Bible passage:

"The Garden of Gethsemane" : "Then He came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners."

The login box will take you a "hidden" page containing a chat between scientists, including one from Fermi (Fermilab, the particle accelerator near Chicago.) Several things on the page indicate that they are using large amounts of company resources to send messages back in time--perhaps the very websites we are viewing! "Can't you just use an old computer that was around like 20 years ago and just, you know, send the message to the younger version of itself?" References to the Einstein Podolski Rosenberg Paradox. Unfortunately, the conversation ends with (we guess) the authorities breaking in and taking down all of the scientists.

Survivalism Video

The video for "Survivalism" appeared on USB keys at a concert (and several days later also showed up the NIN Year Zero site. Some very observant folks found that the security video timecodes would sometimes switch to letters for a frame or two (ref). This gives the letters "THE_TURNEDTO_". The specific frames are archive in the Survivalism screencap folder. That phrase, combined with the text on NIN's door in the video ("REV|16|3|4" with a screencap also in the above folder) gives the quote "the water turned to blood," which just so happens to be a new website!







Also the numbers 24, 16, and 4 appear in the video, giving us a new set of numbers: 24.16.4.

24 16 4

The Water Turned To Blood

This site contains the following warning:

WARNING: This site was created by inmate #4382BX12 as part of a therapeutic treatment program administered by the psychiatric support staff at Judson Ogram Correctional Facility. This patient is designated “extremely dangerous,” and is currently undergoing aggressive treatment protocols under the “hazard to society” statute. Judson Ogram Correctional Facility in no way approves, condones, or promotes the views of this or any other patient.

Based on the text and words, it looks like Mister 4382BX12 may have a few issues. His capitalization looks like a LeEt HaXoR or spammer, but if you look carefully, the capitalized letters at the top spell out FRANCESCA and the same for the lowercase letters at the bottom.

Clicking on the car door (behind the big arm's thumb) brings up a password dialog box, but there's not much we can do with that right now. The obvious choice, Francesca, doesn't work.

Judson Ogram Correctional Facility

With another proper name (Judson Ogram Correctional Facility), we have another URL to try, this time This appears to be a prison set up to handle terrorists: "founded in compliance with Ogram Law's mandate to address the growing security needs of a new kind of war: the war on terror." Of interest is the login box at the bottom of the staff page. The inmate number, presumably works as a case number, what what is the name and password? Looking up a bit, we see that one of the staff photographs shows the name badge of "Dr. Preston Gantry." Guessing that "francesca" is the password gets us in! We now have the page

This gives us the psychological evaluation of the inmate (John Ferminger, a.k.a. John of Boston) that created The Water Turned To Blood, providing a little background on the imagery on that page--the bridge, the hand, the car. During a day of heavy Red Tides (red colored algae in the ocean, turning the water red and causing potential health problems for people who drink or come into contact with the water), an accident pushed his car, containing him and his daughter, off of a bridge and into the water. He survived, but was unable to save his daughter. In a spiritual awakening, he claims that The Presence saved him and that he was cleansed in blood.

Between the doctor report, the police report, and a newspaper article, we see that he has become very religious, but is a quiet and reasonable man--not looking to start any fights, but just wanting to preach to folks. He was able to regularly cause gatherings of 1000+ people in Boston Commons including television and newspapers, which seems to be freaking out the police (or possibly those above the police), who pulled him in for not having a permit to gather.

The addendum is a transcript of an interview between John and Dr. Gantry. John is basically being sentenced to death (without a trial or anything messy like that) unless he goes in front of his followers, the television, and the newspapers, and proclaim that his revelation is false--whether or not he believes it himself. He can't do this and forgives Dr. Gantry. Supplemental information at the end of this transcript implies that the transcript itself is higher security than the rest of the documents and that Dr. Gantry himself has been snatched for re-education.

The Water Turned To Blood - Bridge

One thing that John says to Dr. Gantry during the interview is a Bible quote from Ephesians 6:12. This just so happens to be the password that John uses for Entering "Ephesians 6:12" as the password brings us to a brand new page: This gives us much more insight into John and the bridge accident.


A company, Cedocore, is mentioned on the JOCF staff page. Going to shows us a corporate pharmaceutical site. In fact, this is the corporation that manufactures Parepin. Aside from a number (24.18.1) and an interesting quiz with a little dark humor ("4. You are watching television when you see news of a natural disaster, such as the drowning of Miami. You are most like to: (a) feel shocked, saddened, and want to help (b) feel shocked, saddened, and want other people to help, (c) feel thirsty, (d) change the channel"), there is not much here. Drink the water.

Operation Swamp 0000

Brixton Flyer billboard

Yellow flyers that were distributed at the Brixton show (image 1, image 2) (ref) give an address (as well as the number 24.20.3 encoded as lines.) At this address is a very detailed painting/billboard, images of which can be found in the archive. This billboard mentions Operation Swamp 0000 and contains the numbers 24.20.3.

Operation Swamp 0000 describes how inmates have chips embedded in their arms (possibly seen in images at the bottom of John's Case File, and possibly referred to as the mark of the beast in the John/Gantry transcript) and how to remove them with common household items. There are numbers (24.20.1) and a reference to Operation Chip Sweep, the next site in the chain.

Operation Chip Sweep

According to the popup, the government does not want you to view this site and can revoke your citizenship, impose fines, or imprison you for coming to the site.

The site itself is a newspaper article. It describes the Operation Swamp 0000 movement (called Op Swamp 0000.) It goes into the background behind the chips. After a violent and brutal crime that was sensationalized by the media, the embedded microchip technologies began to be used (to mixed public opinion.) A law later sealed the deal. Prisoners that incorrectly tried to pull the chips from their wrists and ended up killing themselves, brought the issue back to the public forefront. This resulted in riots in Brixton. Our 24 number for this site is 24.20.2.

Survivalism Garage Band File

TODO: write this

The Mailstrom

NIN Litho

The listening parties, starting with Salt Lake City, distributed lithographs of the Art Is Resistance logo. In the corner of the litho are the words "the mail stro," leading to This site requires a login, in the form of a "wreckage" and a "shard." It also has the number 24.1.1 in the background.

Clicking on the logo gives an explanation of the site. In 0000, it seems that all internet traffic in the US is encrypted and controlled by the US government. The Mailstrom has access to this encrypted stream and lets you try random decryption keys against it (the wreckage and shard.) The chances of actually finding the right decryptor for any given piece of data is about the same as winning the lottery three times in a row--unlikely, but still a game of odds, and with the amount of traffic being pumped through the network, there is still a chance, no matter how small. The original programmers of this site are likely dead or imprisoned, but the site itself can hop around and obfuscate itself, resisting shutdown. As an example, they provide a single wreckage/shard pair: gallows/Y3RG7J.

Various listening parties distributed buttons to attendees. These buttons have writing on the edge and would pair up by theme (for instance the robot and the Molitov cocktail, both from the Brixton billboard.) The combination of buttons gives us a wreckage and a shard. For instance, the robot head has "gasoline" printed on the edge and the Molitov cocktail has "uuu891." (ref)

Not all of the buttons were found at the same time. Their findings overlap some of the future findings, but to keep things consistent within this trail, they will all be listed together in this section, even though they were found over a series of weeks. So far, it doesn't seem that their timing is terribly important with regard to the rest of the content. They just provide emails that show snippets of life in Year Zero, giving good background and texture to the world.

buttons1 buttons2 buttons3 buttons4

buttons5 buttons6 buttons7 buttons7

buttons5 buttons6 buttons7 buttons7

buttons5 buttons6 buttons7 buttons7

buttons5 buttons6 buttons7 buttons7

buttons5 buttons5 buttons5 buttons5

At present, the list is:

This gives us the following shard/wreckage combinations and the resulting email:

Another Version of the Truth - Revisionism

Last night, a PDf containing artwork reminiscent of the music video as well as the lyrics to Survivalism was released on the NIN site ( with a mirror at /media/survivalism.pdf.) Interestingly enough, the word "revisionism" in the lyrics is a hotlink, pointing back to Another Version of the Truth. While this is just the homepage of a site that we have seen and been to before, some folks tried adding "revisionism" to the URL (with or with an extension), leading to

This new page consists of two overlapping pages. The one is "A Brief History of The Dawn of a New World Order" and talks about Year Zero and events in preceding months/years (given in month and a negative number, the number of years before 0000.) The other is just off the left edge of your screen and can be dragged into place. It is kind of grainy, but once in place, a new shed of page appears at the top that can be dragged down to better complete the page. The new page is entitled "Another Version of the Past, or, how a nation founded of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' developed into a fundamentalist police state locked into a holy war with half the world." It paints a much different picture of the same timeline. Because it is a little tough to get to line up properly, it is being reprinted here:


The Prince of Treason

A large number of players (those that emailed water@ or francisco@?) received an email message from The Bureau of Morality. Specifically (and note another "24" number):

Date: March 26, 2007 10:30:49 PM PDT
Return-Path: <>
Received: from (unknown []) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 1CA7F77F4B; Mon, 26 Mar 2007 22:30:33 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from 72934-web02 ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.1830); Mon, 26 Mar 2007 22:30:49 -0700
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
Message-Id: <>
X-Originalarrivaltime: 27 Mar 2007 05:30:49.0187 (UTC) FILETIME=[13D65330:01C77031]
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.0.2 (2004-11-16) on
X-Spam-Level: *
X-Spam-Status: No, score=1.1 required=5.0 tests=FROM_ENDS_IN_NUMS,
SPF_HELO_PASS,SPF_PASS,SUBJ_ALL_CAPS,UPPERCASE_25_50 autolearn=no version=3.0.2

<INITIALIZE: DCS1000 v24.5.3>
||||| date-time failure |||||



The Bureau of Morality has identified you as A CONSUMER OF DISSIDENT MATERIAL.

This is a one time warning. Any further attempts to view, consume, or distribute un-american content will result in the loss of citizenship increments and/or the imposition of fines, penalties, or imprisonment.

You have choices. Make the RIGHT ones.

For further information on making good choices, visit


Bureau of Morality
One Nation Under God

This, obviously, leads us to a new site:

At this point, my real life obligations got in the way of maintaining this trail. The following "TODO" items were notes to myself about items to expound upon, but were never gotten around to. Please see the very excellent NIN Wiki at for more detailed information about the rest of the game.

TODO: detail about
TODO: penetratorxl (from Mailstrom) autoresponder and other autoresponder
TODO: number on sticker on back of album is phone number 866-445-6580.mp3 (ref)
TODO: subtle morse code in Another Version of the Truth track on CD: "grace the teacher," leads to (ref)
TODO: discovered from the CD booklet (ref1) (ref2)
TODO: discovered from thermal-reactive printing on the CD (ref)
thermal printing, before thermal printing, after
0110 010 1011 110
00011 101 00011
00101 0111001 00110110
1011 010 010
010 11 011 0
0 0 01 0 1 1 1 00 110
1 1100 1100 1 01 01
11 0 1
0 0

TODO: found by cleaning up audio in "The Great Destroyer" (ref1) (ref2)

The "24" Codes

The following list of numbers is a copy of information contained in the Numbers article on At present, the exact purpose of these numbers is unknown. Some people theorize that they map to letters. Since the new album will be Halo 24, it is possible that it is halo-number.track-number.letter. Other theories point to Bible passages or dates in 2024. Feel free to contribute your theories to Echoing The Sound or Unfiction.

This is a fan-created resource