This is an ongoing blog post which will be updated regularly in the time leading up to the launch of Shell v2. Follow the Shell Protocol Discord and Twitter to get regular updates when new sections are added to the post.
There's excitement in the air in Shell World this week. Alice and Bob having been watching the Accountant's drones complete their tasks, and Alice is pretty sure that the final testnet activation is coming soon. There's energy building in the system, and more Arbinauts have been arriving every day to prepare Shell World's connection to the Arbitrum network.
Today, however, something seems strange. A new radio signal has emerged from the depths of the Ocean, constant and strong. Alice analyzes the pattern on her scanner, and Bob can't help but wonder if this is the voice of the Accountant itself.
Alice thinks it must be a testnet announcement. Bob isn't so sure. The Accountant's network activity patterns seem different today, and he's noticed extra power being diverted to the Ocean's more distant monitoring posts. He'd like to go investigate, but Alice convinces him to stay. She's got all her gear set up for the testnet, and she doesn't want to miss the big activation.
Whatever strange occurrence is building in the waters of Shell World, it seems it will remain a mystery for today.
A green blast of energy washes over Shell World. The final update to the Ocean network's testnet is live! Thousands of toucans flock from the trees, filling the skies with color. Alice locks into the network and watches her device start filling with testnet Shell Points.
Bob, meanwhile, is still focused on decoding the Accountant's message. It doesn't seem like a warning, but it's clearly an indicator of some nearby anomaly. More clusters of Accountant drones fly out toward the horizon, following their undersea controller's secretive orders.
Unable to crack the code, Bob makes his case to Alice. Why not follow the drones to their destination? She can leave her testnet system running while they take a trip to sea to explore the mystery. After all, her Shell Points will continue to accrue on their own.
Alice gives in. He's waited long enough, and the chance to track the drones is quickly slipping away. As they pack their bags, she makes her own attempt to decipher the Accountant signal. Just at that moment a brand new message comes through.
The code is unclear, but the effects are obvious. A hundred more drones rise from the trees and fly in clusters out to sea. Bob points out that this is the best chance to chase them, as long as their boat can keep up. Alice says it would take a pretty daring captain to run a seagoing skiff as fast as an Accountant drone can fly. Luckily, Alice is a pretty daring captain.
They throw their bags in their skiff and push off into the water. Bob tracks the closest cluster of drones, and Alice sets the throttle to its limit. Once again, the two embark in search of new adventure.
It's a long trip out to sea. Alice and Bob's home islands of Shell World grow faint behind them as they follow the path of the Accountant drones. Bob takes a turn at the helm while Alice goes through her tools. Soon, she gets distracted with her testnet connection, watching her Shell Points grow. It takes a nudge from Bob to bring her back to reality, and he tells her there's something out on the horizon.
Alice can't quite see it with her bare eyes. She runs to grab her binoculars, and Bob slows the throttle down so she can get a clearer look. Sure enough, there's a ship ahead. It's long, tan, and spewing black rocket exhaust as it hovers above the surface of the Ocean. Alice doesn't think it looks like an Accountant ship, and Bob agrees.
Bob sets up skiff's communication system. Holding the microphone, he transmits a message to the strange rocket ship. Could this be what the Accountant's drones are looking for?
For a moment, there's no answer. Then, to Alice and Bob's surprise, a haughty robot voice comes through the line with a threatening tone.
Bob tries some diplomacy, but this 'Mastermind' doesn't respond. More rocket thrust pours from the engines of the ship ahead, and soon it races out to sea much faster than the skiff or the drones could possibly chase it. It seems the trail has gone cold for now.
Alice and Bob prepare to turn back. Then a strange sensation makes the hair on their arms stand on end. Alice soon realizes it's an energy pulse from a nearby Ocean tower. Something's causing the power in the network to surge, and it's getting more unstable by the minute. They might not have long before the entire region overloads.
Alice hauls the wheel right to avoid a huge wave. Bob rushes to push more power to the skiff's onboard pumps. Whatever's overloading the Ocean network is causing some serious chop! After a harrowing race away from the nearest tower, Bob spots a small, rocky island. It's got a ramshackle fishing town on its beach, and a natural harbor to protect docked ships from the waves.
Bob suggests it might be a good spot to wait out the energy storm. Alice disagrees. The island, after all, is a known hangout of gray hat hackers and ruffians. Then another huge wave wallops her at the helm. Eventually, soaked and eager for a break, Alice concedes that safe harbor does look appealing.
The two drop anchor at the dilapidated jetty of the island. Lights are on at a dockside tavern, and Bob can already hear a rowdy scene inside.
Bob makes a case for checking out the tavern. Alice isn't interested. She'd rather climb to the island's peak and try to get some energy readings. Maybe then, she suggests, an answer to the Ocean network mystery might present itself.
The two split up. Alice grabs her climbing gear, and Bob heads inside the tavern for a bite to eat. Immediately, he spots a familiar pair of eyes staring from a booth in the back...
Bob tells Eve that Alice's whereabouts are none of her business. Eve only laughs. Begrudgingly, Bob sits, and she tells him that she's here to scope out her next big win. There are just six days, rumor has it, until the Shell World network comes online for good. Who knows what opportunities for plunder and enrichment might present themselves along the way?
Bob reminds Eve that she should keep all her antics on the up-and-up. After all, you never know when the system might bring the hammer down on a troublemaker. Eve laughs and tells Bob not to worry. She's got a plan to use her bots to chart paths from node to node, helping out travelers and making a pretty penny in the process. Then again, she says, that other guy does look like a pretty juicy mark...
Other guy? Bob is curious now. He wonders if this might have to do with the Mastermind's transmission. Eve explains that there's some hothead running around with a bunch of robots, bragging to everyone he meets. Apparently, he thinks he's found a way to siphon energy from the Accountant all for himself.
Bob presses her on the mysterious man, but she refuses to elaborate. All he gets is that same old mercurial smile. Outside, the energy storm batters the tavern windows even harder than before. Bob pauses. He looks to the rain pouring down the glass, and to the rocks beyond.
Braving the storm, Bob exits the tavern. He barely keeps his balance on the loose rocks of the beach. At least the skiff in the harbor looks intact. Craning, he looks toward the steep path where Alice ascended. Then his blood goes cold. At the top of the cliff, her climbing bag sits alone. Alice herself is nowhere to be seen.
Bob scrambles up the foothills of the cliff, calling out for Alice. The rain continues to beat against the island, proving the ascent too treacherous to complete. As he stares up, he sees two hands gripping the side of a cliff face. It's Alice. With a groan, she heaves herself back up onto the path and collects her bag.
When she reaches the bottom of the path, Bob scolds her for scaring him so badly. He thought she might have fallen and hurt herself, or worse. Alice explains that she wanted to get a better look at the northern horizon from the clifftop. Far out at sea, she swears she saw a rocket-powered yacht of some kind sailing toward an inhabited archipelago.
Bob and Alice return to their skiff as the rain begins to lighten. Alice asks Bob if he found any leads in the tavern, but he just shrugs. He doesn't want to get into a whole debate about Eve if he can avoid it. Just then, a new Accountant signal come through the radio.
Alice copies down the transmission in her notebook, hiding the pages from the rain beneath a tarp. She's getting a little better at decoding all these weird messages. "He's saying," she murmurs, trying to piece it together, "something about a guy named Bro Kwon?"
"Bro Kwon?" asks Bob.
"Yeah," says Alice. "I dunno. The radio's been going wild all day. There are thousands of people out at sea all talking about some kind of airdrop. The lines are jammed, and I can barely get a signal."
"You said you saw a yacht," says Bob. "I bet it's the same one those drones were looking for. Do you think if we set a course you could get us there?"
"I could try," says Alice. "Let's hope this weather doesn't get any worse, and that nothing gets worse with the state of the Ocean pylons."
Taking this on faith, the two pack their gear back into the skiff and set out to intercept the mysterious rocket-powered vessel.
It's not long before Bob spots a plume of hot smoke just past the horizon. Someone out there is burning their engines hot. "Slow down," Bob tells Alice, watching sun break through the clouds in the afternoon sky. "It looks like there's something going on at that Ocean pylon."
Alice pops her head up over the wheel to take a look. Ahead, massive and gold, the pylon hums with unusual energy. As they near, the two can see a strange power cable attached to its side.
"That's not the Accountant's style," says Alice, scratching her head. "It's so blocky, and ugly."
"I think someone might be siphoning energy from the grid by hooking cables up to the Ocean network," says Bob. "Look, the cable continues undersea..."
"...and it leads right to that smoke," says Alice. "I think we're about to get to the bottom of two different mysteries at once."
Alice and Bob bring their skiff toward the northern archipelago as gloomy rain gives way to hot summer sun. Ahead, a rocket-powered beige yacht hovers just above the surface of the water. Ten huge, reinforced power cable descend from its side into the depths below.
Bob sees a few crewmen on the deck. "They're robots!" he exclaims as he waves. "Someone's got a yacht with a robot crew. He must be trying to give the Accountant a run for his money."
As Alice pulls the skiff alongside, a ladder drops down toward them. "Come on up!" a friendly man's voice calls out from atop the yacht. It's not anyone they've met before.
Alice tightens her laces and throws a few practice jabs before ascending the ladder. "Can never be too careful," she says, remarking on Bob's raised eyebrow.
"I have a hard time believing you could fistfight a robot," says Bob.
"I could too!" Alice exclaims. Then she takes the lead and scrambles up the ladder on the deck of the yacht. Under warm sun, relaxing on a lawn chair, an affable guy in a polo and shorts sits on a deck chair drinking lemonade.
Bob joins Alice at the top of the ladder. "Bro Kwon," he says. "I've heard of you. Eve told me you're trying to hack the Ocean network, or, something like that."
Bro Kwon yawns. With a snap of his fingers, he summons a lumbering robot butler with a tray full of sweets and goodies. "Eve," Bro Kwon says, dismissing the idea. "You trust her, of all people? Forget that stuff and come have a snack. This time tomorrow, I'm gonna make us all richer than you can imagine."
"Sir," says Alice, examining the power cables running from the sea floor. Each one hums with tremendous unstable energy. "Whatever you're doing here, I should warn you it's probably a really, really bad idea. The Ocean network isn't something you wanna mess with. For one thing, the Accountant's drone will --"
"Accountant's drones?" Bro Kwon laughs. "Oh, I took care of them. Ever since I turned on my new scrambler field, they can't touch me."
"The drones work to repair and protect the network," says Bob. "If they're targeting you, that means something must be --"
A tremendous whine interrupts him. On the deck of the yacht, all three of them turn to the south and see a huge flash of light from the nearest Ocean tower. It hums, blinks, and at once its light goes out. All across the horizon, dozens and dozens of Accountant drones begin to fall from the sky.
"What have you done?" Alice gasps, watching the network go dead. Onboard, the engines of the yacht begin to roar with new intensity.
"I secured the bag," Bro Kwon beams with impish glee. "I've taken control of the Accountant's power. His comms, his robots, everything. From this moment on, we are all gonna make it ."
“No one is going to make it if you don’t stop!” Bob exclaims. “You can’t mess with the Accountant—it’s too much power, you could destabilize everything! You’re putting the whole network in danger.”
Alice springs into action, darting past the hapless robot butler up to the ship’s bridge. She pops a fierce jab at the robot steering the ship, then shoves him aside. Grabbing the helm, she steers the craft sharply away from the Ocean pylon. The boat tilts under their feet and the rockets start to whine.
“Expando-Chads, grab them!” Bro Kwon commands.
A small army of menacing robots with thick metal jaws grab Bob and close in on Alice. Once again, she throws a swift punch landing squarely on the robot’s jaw. A loud thud rings out, but the Expando-Chad doesn’t seem to notice. The brawny robots wrestle Alice away from the bridge and bring her and Bob before Bro Kwon.
“Nice try, but you are no match for my body guards. Pity you can’t see the vision. With the power of the Accountant, I can usher in the future of finance!”
“This is no future. You’re just stealing,” said Alice.
“Guards, throw them overboard. Butler, another lemonade—with more sugar this time.”
The Expando-Chads dutifully launch Alice and Bob over the rails; they sail through the air and splash unceremoniously into the water.
As Bro Kwon’s beige yacht hums away, belching a trail of smoke in its wake, Alice and Bob are left to swim back to their skiff.
Wet and forlorn on their small boat, Bob says, “How can we stop him? He could bring down the whole network.”
“I don’t know,” replied Alice, “but I think he’s going to miss this.” In her hand is a glowing yellow crystal.
“Where’d you get that?”
“From the bridge. It was plugged into the console next to the helm.”
What could it possibly be for? All of a sudden, the crystal starts to pulse. The Ocean pylons on the horizon start to pulse too, in the same cadence as the crystal. The boat’s radio spontaneously comes to life and a strange transmission begins to play.
“Wait, I recognize this signal. It’s the Accountant!”
The ocean around Bro Kwon’s yacht starts to seethe. Energy pulses begin to burst from the pylons, traveling through the cables and setting off a series of explosions along the boat. Menacing sparks and flames light up the horizon. The chaos builds and builds until a rogue wave rears up next to the yacht. For a split second, Alice and Bob thought they saw a glowing hand in the wave. It crashes down into Bro Kwon’s ship, smashing it to smithereens.
A tidal wave surges across the ocean, buffeting Alice and Bob’s skiff. Holding on for dear life, the wreckage rapidly fades into the distance, the sky darkening. Lacking the power to battle such a storm, they put their fate in the Accountant’s hands and allow the waters to carry them away.
The next morning the pair found themselves washed ashore on a deserted atoll, soaking and exhausted. Bob limps across the beach and sits, carefully emptying water from his boots. Alice grimaces and pulls a stray bit of seaweed from her hair.
“Alice, I think Bro Kwon and his robots were using that crystal to hide from the Accountant. That’s why the Accountant was able to find them and destroy his ship.”
“Now what do we do?”
A toucan flies over and perches on a boulder next to them. It caws earnestly. Is it trying to say something? Alice and Bob follow the bird as it guides them around the beach to the other side of the atoll. There, a half-sunken crate has come to shore.
“It must be from Bro Kwon’s yacht,” says Alice. “I think he put all his ill-gotten gains into crates. When his ship sank, all of his booty went down with him. These crates are probably scattered all across the ocean from that tidal wave.”
“I guess he didn’t secure the bag after all. But at least you and I made it.”
The toucan flies over to the crate and starts to peck at it.
TO BE CONTINUED...