Coinbase Hit With Lawsuit by Patent Troll Over Text

Blue Beelzebub (Final)

Link to Part 1
Link to Part 2
Mortaren’s appointment had left a slim window through which to prep. As a freelancer, I was free to travel across the country or the world for a story, so time off from work wasn’t an issue that vexed me. I opted to fly to Denver then drive I-25 to Walsenburg - a city to the east of the San Luis Valley and a spot my travels made familiar over the years. By week’s end, after a numbing but uneventful commute, I reached the comfort of my hotel days in advance - I wanted that buffer to breathe and to reconnoiter the site of our meeting.
The coordinates pointed to a site too remote for satellites to remap every year. Neither Google nor Bing ever sent cars there to photograph the area. The drive through US-350 was monotonous - mile after mile of farmland parched a uniform yellow. The only excitement, if such were the word, came from the prompts the GPS indicated which eventually took me onto a gravel road.
The route crossed a railroad. To my right was a farm. To my left was the overlook - a weathered and wizened hump of earth a geologist told me had been the remnants of a butte millions and millions of years prior. It stood by itself amid seas of grassy plains. A road lurched onto its peak; there the earth had been pressed into a level (and empty) lot. It felt like the safest place to stop, (hopefully), out of sight and out of mind.
My rented Wrangler was the sole vehicle at the overlook.
For a while I gazed westward. The sky was a vibrant shade of blue that smothered the distance. Across its haze I caught outlines of the Spanish Peaks. I let my eyes wander southward, toward that spot at the horizon where US-350 vanished into a point. I couldn’t see a car anywhere coming or going. A train roared as it approached from the side of the highway.
Eastward and below - at what I gauged may have been a spur of the historical Santa Fe trail, I noted the ruins that had drawn me onto that spot. It had escaped my eyes when I drove by it and then, then I realized why. It was at the top of the overlook that the effect was appreciable. The ruins, through the years, had been smothered to its roof by an orchard of junipers.
The ruin was that of a two-story house which had been built partially into the ground. I gawked at the style of it for it appeared so out of time, so out of place when compared to the architecture typical of the area around La Junta. The closest match was Spanish Colonial. The eeriest aspect of it was that in spite of the juniper’s swallowing it, it didn’t look like it had been abandoned for any lengthy period of time.
I approached the door - a slab of wood impressively resilient to weather - and stuck my head into the shadow beyond its yawning threshold. Its walls were tagged with an eclectic mixture of symbology, some of it Satanic, some of it native. Others defied my erudition.
As I grew bold enough to enter, my advance was stopped by a voice.
“Yeah, figured you’d check it out.”
“Mortaren?” I turned to face the orchard, whose miasma cloaked the figure. “Wanted to see it for myself. Doesn’t strike me as a place to stash a server.”
“Exactly.”
Mortaren, my erstwhile host, stepped out of the enshadowment and joined my stance at the door’s threshold. I sensed by the immediate familiarity he conveyed to the structure that he wasn’t a stranger to its curiosity. I followed into the abode and almost immediately choked at a waft of putrefaction - urine and feces from sources unknown. Squatters - or worse - I started to suspect may have sought the refuge of its confines. Still, Mortaren was not concerned.
Nor was he curious about the freshly-minted tools strewn about the rubble. Gear that I recognized from my years of hiking had been folded into the mess as if to disguise it. I detected, too, the odor of gasoline - faintly and sublimely - as if it were a suggestion stirred by the train that passed by.
“It hasn’t been a residence since the seventies.”
“Well if that’s so, it’s a mix-up.”
“No! Little of the sort, bub, this,” he said of it, swinging a finger around his head toward the upstairs, “this is the spot. Everything that happened, happened here. All of that was filmed where we stand. ZuZu or whomever they worked for, they chose this site not for the way it looked outside but inside. Then ZuZu embedded those clips of it into the code.”
“Is it booby trapped?”
“In a manner of speaking.”
We worked past the foyer and the library that followed it. We walked: Mortaren at the front and I at the back. Could it be doubted anymore? My host splayed intimate knowledge of the abode which could have come only from a personal investigation. How many times had he stopped by? Perhaps he more than stopped by? Perhaps he more than investigated.
We entered a wide, tall hallway and paused. The chamber was pitch except for a window at the apex of the stairs which blasted a square-shaped spotlight onto the floor at our feet. Behind us the hallway emptied into a kitchen. Light that filtered through its windows lent it a vibrant, green glow. A glow that came from the vegetation clogging that chamber. I noted flickering, whistling lights like fluorescents out of view but not of earshot.
Mortaren refused my help to unroll a tarp; “touch nothing, nothing - don’t leave a print anywhere, kiddo, you gotta trust me, OK”. He revealed a set of tools: pliers, machetes, rakes, and a crowbar. My host took the crowbar and aimed it at the stairs. “Let me give you a word of warning - if you insist you want that game - alright more, more than a word. Yes - I got it. And I’m far from the only sucker, let me say. I suggest, whatever you do, you don’t ever install it, you don’t ever play it, you don’t even stick it into a drive that autoplays, OK?”
We ascended; the stairs were droopy and I struggled to stay upright.
“Not saying that ‘cause of what it’ll do to your rig - you know what it’ll do, I don’t need to tell you what it’ll do. It’s the sort of stuff that’ll bring the FBI to your door faster than you can say Blue Beelzebub. No, damn it, it’s how that abomination tears into your soul. It’ll compromise you and that’s intentional not accidental. It wants to beat you into submission. The fear - that you’ll be found, that you’ll be trapped - imagine every day, every day thinking ‘today’s the day it happens’. It took a year to convince the FBI I didn’t know what that game was about and then it was too late to save my arse.”
Upstairs, my host drew my steps into a chamber whose walls were a faded memory of yellow. Cracks formed like veins running the heights of the walls. The reek of corruption, like that of decay, attacked us fiercely. A hum issued out of the air; it was strongest at the center where the rug that cloaked the floor bulged.
Mortaren applied a streak of coroner’s salve to his upper lip. I added a dab to my face. My host insisted I should be thorough; so I complied.
The chamber was a formal salon, a pit of “opulence and decadence” for the 70s. Furniture lay scattered to rot. An armoire, as tall as the salon, waited at the far end with its doors wide, agape almost like arms outstretched to greet us. It, like the rest of the furniture, soaked the elements and charred into onyx as if burned. Slowly my eyes accustomed to the ambiance and as such I grew cognizant of a trove of esoteric details. Books strewn about. Mounds of salt. Blobs of candles. Pentagrams. All of that competed head-to-head with the scratches etched into the walls.
I found a fingernail embedded into those scratches....
“After I posted the demo, a fan - let’s say they were a fan - contacted my office about it. They offered assistance and I, reluctantly out of curiosity - I complied. I sent them copies of the game. That was my downfall, kiddo.” He stopped to take a breath. “Imagine it. The stuff of nightmares that destroys a man’s life fits so perfectly into a pair of three point five inch floppies. Well, that fan reverse-engineered the executable. Dude sent everything right back to my house with a stack of paper. Never heard of them again. I assumed they were the first to contact the FBI. Can’t blame ‘em.”
Mortaren pointed to the rug that spanned the floor.
“Is that hum under the floor?” I asked - he nodded.
“The sound isn’t from the server, though.” Mortaren lifted the corner of the rug with the crowbar. We cleared the furniture and rolled away the carpet. It decomposed into rubble just by touching it as we did. “It’s a crazy layout. The house was built over a shaft. This room it’s, it’s right over that shaft. The hum comes from the way air works through it.”
“So ... the server is real and it’s here?”
My host nodded; “The game’s cloak and dagger - a virus that turns your rig into a zombie. You work for them, now, now, you’re part of something worse than anything you imagine. The events that created this mess, this wreck that you see - it was filmed right where we stand. ZuZu transferred the footage to AVI clips and used it to create the maze’s layout and texture. My fan, when they broke apart the game, they found the clips embedded right into the code and I had to watch ‘em, didn’t I? I had to watch ‘em. Look, it’s not over, OK. The ritual they started, it doesn’t end, it doesn’t, ever, end.”
I dared not ask what kind of ritual it was. The gaze of his eyes as they relived the video spoke volumes. His whole entire body shook as if the violation were fresh.
“I tell you the strangest part of this business. The people who started it, they’re a crazy kooky sex cult out of NAZI Germany. Yeah, they used Crawley’s sex-magik. They never touched kids, though. It wasn’t about the Cheese Pizza for ‘em. But the Chinese Sandwich wasn’t any better.”
We walked into the center of the salon, to a spot where the rug had bulged. Removed, we saw what it was. A circle had been drilled into the wood and plugged by plate like a manhole.
Mortaren lodged the crowbar into the crack at the circumference of the plate.
“You’ll never get it until you see it from their perspective. Twisted as it is. You gotta see it through their eyes. The game exists to re-create the ritual - to recreate the ritual and make you part of it. Simply by watching it, by playing it, you get tainted and that by itself makes you part of it. Damn it.” He tapped the crowbar to the plate that refused to budge. “Haven’t I tried? It’s not enough, is it? Am I too old, at the end? The server.... It’s at the end of the shaft, a hundred feet below. I donno how it’s powered. Maybe it’s geothermal? I donno. It’s there, idling, watching and waiting for a signal to awaken. It’s what sustains the game and the spreads the ritual. It’s the heart of the beast.”
###
Cheese Pizza and Chinese Sandwich, to those not aware of 4CHAN and its vernacular, is code for ‘Child Pornography’ and ‘Child Snuff’, respectively. ZuZu and LVN used the dog-whistles of their day to advertize the game to a certain clientele. But the cult that bankrolled Blue Beelzebub abhorred the former as it embraced the latter. And the game itself contained tedious 90s shock - glimpses of death and its like - it never showed the goods, so to speak.
The CD contained the augmented DOS the game installed as well as a thorough, documented unraveling of the game itself. Mortaren’s fan discovered and saved BMPs and AVIs that had been embedded into the code. I slipped that CD into a drive and scanned its contents with my virus and malware checkers. Not a single program detected a problem. Given the sizes of the files, though, I found it disconcerting that my checkers took minutes to complete.
Mortaren’s fan had placed their deconstruction of the game’s executable into a ZIP folder. The majority of it consisted of code that they converted from binary to ML to C. It was fascinating to gawk as the code which appeared so professional. Yet, as C was not a strength of mine, I found it vague and cryptic overall.
I dug into the multi-media directory and extracted images and clips that had been stored there. Saved to my laptop, I selected the largest AVI and played it. That film, whose sights and sounds were equally vivid and jittery, oozed the impression of an 8 mm production. It had been subbed in German and I (mostly) followed it.
Mortaren got it right - the clip had been filmed at the house by US-350, specifically, at its salon. I paused to check the layout and compare it to my notes of how I found the furniture and the other, macabre ancillary. Amazingly, decades after the fact, everything matched.
###
The clip itself comprised a continuous stream formed of what had to have been a sequence of shorter segments:
1irst Segment:
At a couch sit three women - an older, frailer matron flanked by younger versions of herself. They chat with the cameraman (I assume).
2econd Segment:
The matron walks out of the frame and the cameraman pans to the opposite side of the salon where a man approaches the couch. The man is dressed in a style similar to that of Crowley’s regalia - decked head to toe with shades of violet and onyx. The magik-man approaches the couch with the women and offers them leis that they take and wear.
3hird Segment:
The matron reappears, followed by a pair of Amazonian-like natives - they were naked but their bodies were painted. The lei’ed women at the couch rise as the matron introduces them to the natives. It’s at that juncture that the cameraman reveals the women, too, have been painted. Neither men’s or women’s paints are native-like; rather, the runes are straight out of Thelema.
4ourth Segment:
The magik-man sits at the rug between a pair of circumscribed pentagrams. The magik-man lights a roll of sage (?) - the lack definition masks the identity of the object. Smoke billows out of it as he waves it over the pentagrams. The matron sets lights and sets six candles - three to the left and three to the right of the magik-man.
5ifth Segment:
The cameraman drifts down and to the left, down and to the left, down and to the left, to reveal the orgy. Painted men and women are paired and writhe about the pentagrams. The males lay with their backs to the floor and their heads crowned by the candles. The females lay atop the males. Their limbs intertwine. Their bodies contort. All to the rhythm of the magik-man beats into a drum.
6ixth Segment:
The matron, naked and painted, sits in front of the magik-man and extends a chalice.
7eventh Segment:
The magik-man pours the content of the chalice onto a loaf of bread. The cameraman zooms into that bread - it is shaped like a baby. At that instant the hands of the males and the females, their paint smeared and mingled post-orgy, reach onto the bread and yank it into four-quarters. They eat the bread.
8ighth Segment:
The magik and camera men remain at the salon; it’s night, it’s lit by torches.
They peel away the rug and reveal a circular portal into a shaft.
For a while the magik-man speaks to the cameraman. Subtitles state: “we consecrate the well - are you ready to see it again - to see it as it is enlivened by the spirit of [REDACTED] spurred by the ritual - are you ready - do you think you are ready”, then, “it looks like a hundred feet”, then, “as if a hundred feet were enough”.
9inth Segment:
The bulk of the video consists of the exploration of the mine at the base of the shaft. The magik-man takes turns, sometimes leading, sometimes lagging, always speaking although the German is not translated throughout this segment.
The pair reaches a part of the maze that collapsed. Although their posture is merely suggested by the aim of the camera, the pause and the silence that follows indicate that they are not ready for the obstacle and so struggle to clear a way through it. The viewer notes by the appearance of their hand that the cameraman is at last captured by their own footage.
The pair works through the collapse and discovers a vast, circular chamber.
The chamber is lit, awash by an eerie, hazy blue light. A crack crazes across the chamber. The light filters through that crack. The cameraman savors the chamber - it’s adorned like the salon; it’s a site where the cult practices its rituals. The cameraman sweeps toward the crack, prompted by a sound that startles the magik-man.
The cameraman zooms into the crack - it’s like a well, filled to the brim with water. It’s almost like an abyss, it sinks on and on hundreds if not thousands of feet; the limitations imposed by the film and the pixilation cannot do the reality any justice.
The water is upsettingly transparent through and through - and straight into the blur of light at whereever its bottom lay.
As the magik-man speaks off-screen and the cameraman continues their zoom, it’s apparent that there are things, things of a sort not floating but swimming through the water.
I scream as the view jostles - it is not a jump or a cut, though, it is the cameraman’s shake. Whoever it is that films that site, they had been startled by movement elsewhere. As the camera’s view twists to the side, it pans by where the magik-man stands and captures a glimpse, just, a glimpse of something that had been standing at the other side of the chasm right as it jumps into the water.
###
The house off US-350 loomed abandoned in appearance only. Nobody occupied it since the 70s; however, it was not derelict. County records verified that its owners - Ache Industrias, SA - paid its taxes year after year. Ache Industrias, named for a tribe of South American natives, was a company from Paraguay famous for its advances (and patents) re: GMOs. They were a partner to Monsanto but not as known outside of agriculture. Ache Industrias owned that house and the farms that engulfed it; a total of 500 acres.
BM: “Word is that the company wants to use this land for research.
“A lobby out of Denver, that represents a lot of cattlemen, filed a lawsuit working its way into the Supreme Court at this rate.” Farmers and ranchers who would be, effectively, neighbors, sharing their grazing rights of the nearby Comanche Grasslands objected to the idea, fearing the consequences to their business if their livestock mixed with the GMO livestock.
“Meanwhile the acreage isn’t dormant; it’s rented and reaps a lot of profit from royalties.”
Ache Industrias wasn’t the first owners, or, as it should be stated, wasn’t the first incarnation of the first owners.
BM: “An occultist, Straniak, was its proprietor of record according to my contacts from Brazil.”
Straniak, in partnership with two other expatriated Germans, formed a company c. 1930 then known as Straniak-West. Although the exact nature of Straniak-West wasn’t advertised, it’s suspected that they profited from the Chaco War and the partners became wealthy in spite of the Great Depression (which had been a world-wide phenomenon). As Europe verged into WWII, Straniak-West changed its moniker to Ache Industrias c. 1940. Around the tail end of 1941 the partners bought a thousand acres around the La Junta area; about half of the original estate was shed through the years.
BM: “Straniak and cohorts summered at their Colorado estate. Right up until they started to rent the land, the house had been the estates only, permanent structure. They used its solitude to mask their rituals.”
The cult / company was especially fond of that house and guarded its secrets.
Mortaren, as an aficionado of the occult, a passion that spurred him to review games of that genre, became aware of Aleister Crowley and the Thules, chieftains of bizarro early 20th mysticism, strands of which wormed their way into the works of Lovecraft, Blackwood, and a slew of other writers.
Straniak, and allies, German mystics intimately linked to the Thules, “a society with their own weird take on Aryanism” whose forays into sex-magik, blood-magik, and sacrifices made them too extreme even for the NAZIs.
“He fled to South America before Hitler, if you believe that sort of stuff.”
The house wasn’t built by Straniak and Co, though. It already existed by the time they hired a crew to survey their property c. 1933.
That area of Colorado had see-sawed between Spain and France before it was ceded to the US after the Mexican-American. Records from two centuries ago were hard to come by. Historians were reduced to combing through diaries and correspondences, however, the ephemera revealed a portion of history that otherwise had been lost.
The house used to be part of a hacienda granted to a patron of great wealth. Disagreements arose re: their identity as the sources used to piecemeal the history were themselves uncertain if the figure was American / English or French. Nevertheless, they built an extensive estate c. 1792. The house used to be larger; an earthquake c. 1820 reduced it more or less to the dimensions that Straniak & Co. found it.
What probably enticed the occultist crew was what legends claimed had been revealed after the earthquake. Namely - that the house had been erected over a mine from prehistory. The earthquake, as it leveled the house, revealed a shaft into that mine – which so happened to contain gold. Tthe patron used its revenue to rebuild the house - albeit to modest proportions - with the novelty that the house hid or capped the entrance into the mine.
BM: “The cavity underfoot itself isn’t the end-all and be-all. The cult was attracted to something else, something else not connected to wealth. Is it a portal into another realm? I donno what but it called to them and they poured resources into it.
“They recorded all of their rituals; the climax of which, which became Blue Beelzebub, if my timeline’s correct, matches an earthquake in 1983. It wasn’t much of an earthquake but it explains part of the video. It ripped a gash through the system. The server’s got to be inside that chasm, drawing power from geothermal. A system designed to work for ages without intervention while their poison spreads through the internet. Ah, but it won’t be there for long, I promise you.”
Night cloaked the house as we descended its rickety, tilted staircase. It felt as if the structure somehow, someway gained a sort of sentience after decades of mysticism echoed through its confines. I fancied it understood Mortaren’s intentions and shook at the foreknowledge.
If it goes, won’t that destroy the evidence? What about the crimes they committed? Won’t they go unpunished?
BM: “Altruism, don’t deny it, kiddo.”
My erstwhile host was adamant about their business and refuted my pleas to reason otherwise.
By destroying the house, they claimed, they would be saving lives, lives yet to be taken.
BM: “Kiddo, you’re talking about people, people who will never be punished never, never, never be punished for anything. Blue Beelzebub, it’s just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. And you know it. It’s always like that. They regroup and reorganize. But they took me down. And I’m gonna take this much, this much if anything away from them. Mark my words, they’ll imagine another way to entrap kids and spread their filth. And that’s where you and those like you continue what I start tonight.”
###
A stark midnight moon loomed to the south west over the jagged peaks of the Sangre De Cristos. There wasn’t a cloud to mar the sky. Crisp, summery wind stirred a floral scent about the air, then it faded, driven away to the ether by a tide of gasoline then of a char / smoke. I drove by the orchard where I noted how the orange escaped the house. It almost looked like a face, a skeletal face, buried into the junipers. I waved. Maybe the gesture was or wasn’t returned. I didn’t stay.
That was the last I saw of Bobby Mortaren.
I dismantled the laptops’ HDDs; I scraped the platters then I applied a welder’s torch to them, fusing them, melting them, obliterating any trace what so ever of the data they contained. Later I shredded the floppies and the CD and the papers. For all I knew those may have been the last, extant copies of Blue Beelzebub.
My paying job resumed its malaise although I noted that my contacts with the FBI waned. Then my editors shuffled my workload. Cases I had been assigned to were re-directed elsewhere. Leads dried. I was shunned more and more. I could not help but recognize a familiarity to the pattern - to the way I was being isolated and overshadowed. I tried to squash the paranoia that may have transferred to me as I entertained the notion of starting yet another career.
Little had been reported about the explosion south of Timpas that night.
I eked out a single article about the decline and fall of bitcoin. After that I put my thoughts together to form this record of my dealings with Blue Beelzebub. Partly to settle the history of it - as much of it as I understood. Partly to form a defense. I wanted to be transparent; there’s such scant cover for journalists nowadays.
Earlier I received a call from a woman, a former FBI agent who claimed they owed me a favor.
They warned that “I had been flagged by an anti-virus software vendor that works with the government”. Apparently, the anti-virus / malware scan had detected a rare item and reported it to the vendor’s server for analysis. That’s how the NSA discovered “the executable” with “embedded content” that “raised eyebrows”. It wasn’t just the government that started to investigate Blue Beelzebub, they continued, “a third party, a cryptic South American outfit”, long suspected of trafficking and exploiting minors, “sparked a lot of chatter across the deep-web about you. You got enemies, son, lots and lots of enemies.”
I didn’t know of any FBI agent, current and / or former who “owed me a favor”. I stated that in fact I had received a couple of floppies from a source familiar with the game. Naturally, I scanned the media. “I couldn’t get the program to work properly. It needs DOS and there aren’t too many PCs like it anymore. I destroyed all of that ‘cause it gave me the creeps.”
It wasn’t entirely a lie.
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