Sam takes the onyx you've just won and examines it closely, then pulls out a scrap of paper and traces the pattern of its bands. A moment later, as if coming out of a trance and realizing that you're still in the middle of a carnival, Sam suggests getting some snacks from the other end of the fairground. On the way, a carny approaches you with a challenge, "Guess what I am, just one dollar!" Before you can protest,
What's my name, can you fathom?
I'm made of many, many atoms.
Inside a canyon I can fit.
Often people call me 'it'. What am I?
You exchange a wry look with Sam, and then retort:
(In case you haven't seen the previous puzzles in this series, you don't always take on ridiculous problems in a conventional manner. No offense to the WAIers, the carnies just happen to be crooked.)
After the two of you have sat down to eat, Sam takes out and re-examines the onyx and tracing. "Looks like this is a live one. Want to take a look at it?" It's a stone with mostly black and dark red bands, and a few blue bands. In one of the regions between two blue bands, the pattern on the stone is slightly different from the pattern on the tracing. "I'll let you in on a secret. This isn't just any old stone, it's a locater. I thought the bands would be black and white instead of black and red, but I'm sure that's what this is. Those bands changed when we walked from one end of the fairgrounds to the other. If we go to the spot where the bands in that area are all completely black, we'll be at the location it's tuned to. You handled those carnies pretty well, you might be able to help out at this place." You ask, "what's this locater going to locate? And how was this thing made? By who?" "You'd think I was nuts if I just told you. Better if I showed you what's going on."
The two of you leave the fairground and travel a short way down a road, then Sam points out an abandoned shack in the distance and says "Wait until you see what I've got stashed in there." As you approach the shack, Sam stops short and cries "Aw nuts, someone locked this place up! I bet they found out what's inside and plan on taking it as soon as they can get a truck, and of course they don't understand what it really is."
ENOUGH WITH THE PLOT, TIME FOR THE PUZZLE: There are two padlocks on the shed. You don't have any tools to cut or shim the locks with, or to dismantle the shack with, there aren't any other doors or windows, and it's built on a foundation that you can't dig through. Not seeing any easy way around it, you decide that you've got to open the locks. One is a combination padlock, a type with 40 numbers (1 through 40, no zero) on a dial face and three numbers in the combination. Since you are in puzzle land after all, you search for the cryptic clue left behind by the bad guy, and you find a scrap of paper that says "Easy as a b c. a3bc-2b3c-7bc = 0." As for the other lock, it has a keyhole and there are no keys around. The back of the scrap of paper says "The other lock came from a room with 10 foot thick steel walls and no doors or windows or any sort of opening."