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I have read something which said that the large amount of common structure between the simple groups $SL(3,3)$ and $M_{11}$ indicated to Conway the possibility that the Mathieu groupoid $M_{13}$ might exist.
Indeed, it exists, and the group of permutations of the other points generated by paths in which the hole starts and ends at the same point is the Mathieu group $M_{12}$.

It is natural to ask whether or not something analogous exists for the Mathieu group $M_{24}$. The corresponding linear group seems to be $GL(5,2)$.
$2^{4}:A_{8}$ is a vector (or hyperplane) stabilizer in $GL(5,2)$ and an octad stabilizer in $M_{24}$. $2^{6}:(GL(2,2)\times GL(3,2))$ is likewise the stabilizer of a 2-dimensional (or 3-dimensional) space in $GL(5,2)$, and the stabilizer of a 'trio' (to use the term from SPLaG) in $M_{24}$.

The natural setting, therefore, in which to look for something analogous to $M_{13}$ is $(\mathbb{Z}/(2))^{5} \backslash 0$. (This can also be regarded as $4$-dimensional projective space over $\mathbb{Z}/(2)$, but I will here think of it as $5$-dimensional space over $\mathbb{Z}/(2)$ with the origin removed.)
Then, to have $24$ points left over when the 'holes' are put in place, it would be natural to have a 'missing $3$-dimensional space' for a hole.
A move should consist of moving the $3$-dimensional 'hole' to some other $3$-dimensional subspace (minus the origin) of $(\mathbb{Z}/(2))^{5}$. The intersection of these spaces can have dimension $1$ or $2$, and there should be different rules for moving the hole to another location depending on the dimension of its intersection with the new location.

Who has tried this before? Are there any papers on it?

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For the sake of supplying a reference to the Mathieu groupoid: neverendingbooks.org/index.php/the-mathieu-groupoid-1.html and the references therein. –  Qiaochu Yuan Jul 19 '11 at 12:46
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