|Tour of Duty - By Committee|
|Posted By: PerseusSpartacus||Date: 8/2/14 9:59 a.m.|
Last time on Tour of Duty, a certain Viking Boy named Billy took us to a new location in the same Jjaro station, only to encounter heavy resistance from a rather large posse of Troopers and Hunters, not to mention the air (or rather, lack of it) - truly, we were Wormfood.
So what's been happening? That question should be rather important at any moment in Infinity, but here it is especially important. It's rather confusing as to what timeline we're in. A bit of review is worthwhile.
Already we've been through four timelines now. The first - 'Prologue' - was very short, comprising only one level, Ne Cede Malis. We all know what happened there. The second timeline - 'Despair' - saw us helping Tycho gain a foothold on Lh'owon and control over the Pfhor fleet. K'lia showed up inexplicably, and Tycho made it very clear that he would use the trih xeem - we, or some outside entity, decided that this was not going to end well, and we found ourselves in the first dream levels, taking us either to the end of that timeline or to the third timeline - 'Rage I'. In said timeline, we were helping Durandal, apparently at a time before Waterloo Waterpark. When Durandal said we would need to do the whole Waterpark thing again, we, or some outside entity, decided this would just lead us back into the original M2 line of events, and things would end badly for us, so we went through some more dream levels, the end of the world, and onto the fourth timeline - 'Rage II'.
Here's where it gets tricky. The first, second and third timelines were clearly separate, but in this fourth timeline, we switched back to working for Tycho. In the second timeline, he had said near the end that we would be sent in to lead the attack on Durandal's ship, and now we found ourselves at the tip of the spear in such an assault. So that leads one to wonder, were the second and fourth timelines really separate, or is the fourth actually a continuation of the second? After all, on Confound Delivery, Tycho mentions the rampancy of the S'pht on board the Boomer:
My little ship waited until he was close, and then sunk in its fangs. Durandal's compiler network is rampant, and his ship is off-line. While he contends with their madness, and the last of my troopers, the Western Arm of Pfhor Battle Group Seven is en route.
In the fourth timeline, we find that the S'pht are indeed rampant. Sounds like the two timelines are continuous, right?
But then there's that business about K'lia - at least, the general conception is that it's supposed to be K'lia, home of the S'pht'Kr; really nobody ever says it is in-game, but Tycho mentions in the same terminal as above that "Functioning sensors show a massive structure entering a Lh'owon orbit." In timeline four, there is no further mention of this structure, and the S'pht'Kr do not show up at all. So, close, but not quite.
On the second level of the fourth timeline, we somehow switched sides - apparently of our own free will, but the game never gave us any choice. We killed a good number of enemies, and Durandal thanked us while Tycho tried to teleport us into space. Eventually, Tycho got us back under his control, requesting that we kill Durandal before the Pfhor can attempt to capture him. We did this, but we also grabbed Durandal's primal pattern in an Uplink Chip before being spirited away onto some more dream levels, which finally dumped us... here.
Interesting. That looks like a dead S'pht'Kr we're sitting next to. And yes, that is a Despair tower in the background. So the chapter is titled 'Envy', the parallel to the third stage of Rampancy, 'Jealousy'. So we're coming to the end of our own Rampancy? How so? Who, or what, do we envy? Durandal? Tycho? Questions, questions.
The level name. Chris Geisel and Greg Kirkpatrick worked together on the level "from start to finish", and the name is a reference to the fact that the level was a product of such cooperation.
So where is here? When we first start, we find ourselves in a tiny cell, looking through an opening too small to go through. All our weapons, the uplink chip, and most all of our health are gone. The radar shows two red triangles moving around. One is a Possessed Drone, something we haven't seen since Nuke and Pave, and won't see the likes of again. The other is a Fighter. The two duke it out, then the Possessed Drone moves away and teleports out. After a little while, the opening expands, allowing us out into the corridor where the Drone and Fighter were fighting. Often, the two will still be engaging in mortal combat when we step out of the cell.
There are multiple cells along this corridor, and it's random which one we appear in. Heading east along the corridor leads to a dead end, at least for the moment. Heading west leads to a room with one or two Fighters in it, though that's nothing serious with all our skill in the art of fisticuffs. There are three things of note here: a switch, a door, and a staircase going down. The switch opens a cell containing a bunch of Simulacrums. For those without the skill, this is basically a death sentence, but if you're careful, you can run-punch the Simulacrums and step back fast enough to avoid getting blown up. Unfortunately, there's really no reward to doing this, other than bragging material - the cell is totally empty.
The door leads to a room with a pillar and three windows. The windows on either side of the room reveal two cells containing a bunch of BoBs randomly giving the 'All Clear' messages (as in, 'Get Me Outta Here'). The window facing you as you come in contains two BoBs who teleported in and fell onto a platform surrounded on all sides by lava. The central pillar has two switches on either side. The switch on the far side is the mundane one, and it opens a door at that dead end we encountered earlier. The switch on the closer side is a bit different. Press it with caution, for what follows may prove a bit unsettling for a fragile soul.
Enter the BoB Grinder:
A switch, a platform, two BoBs, and some lava. What results is a [?cruel?hilarious] display of [?savagery?comedy]. Hit the switch. The platform will drop. Hit the switch again when the platform is under the lava. The two BoBs will roast, and then two more will teleport in, and they'll roast too, and then two more will teleport in, and they'll roast too, and then two more will teleport in, and... well, you get the picture. If this isn't a good enough description for you, then just imagine a continuous series of screams, with piles of red, burning corpses building up on the surface of a pool of burning lava. Is it [?wicked?funny]? You betcha.
Anyways, moving on, the two cells with the phrase-spouting BoBs can be opened by a switch next to each of the doors. The BoBs will come pouring out of the cells, and then they'll start... cuddling you? Yeah, apparently they like you a lot, because as soon as they're out of the cells they all bunch up around you, making movement difficult if not impossible. This is behavior we've never really seen before, and it can be accounted for by a couple things in the physics model for the level, which can be seen under the 'Green Bob' section. First off, under 'Combat Settings', they have no attack. Monsters with no attack, and who encounter an enemy, will simply try to get as close as possible to that enemy - this is why Simulacrums always move towards the player. However, unlike Simulacrums, these BoBs do not deal any shrapnel damage on hard death, and do not have the 'Kamikaze' option turned on under 'Behavior Settings', and so, rather than trying to explode on an enemy, they will just follow them around. Now, here's the main thing: under 'Behavior Settings', these BoBs have us toggled as an enemy - that's why they seem so eager to give us hugs, not because they like us, but because they hate our guts! ;)
In fact, this isn't the first oddity of the level. There are two that I missed: first, the conspiracy of the sevens. The level is numbered 18 in-game. Subtract 8 from 1, or 1 from 8, and you get either -7 or 7, respectively. The second oddity is that the BoBs in the Grinder appear as red triangles on the radar, the reason being that they use the Enforcer Minor slot in the Physics Model. This level is in fact full of oddities, as explained by Philtron back in July 2012 in his Volunteers Expanded article. I'll be returning to that post frequently, as there's a ton of material in there I'd like to point out.
So, now all those hugging BoBs are dead. If we go into their cells, we find some ammo, and we also cause two Fighters to teleport in. Again, nothing serious. So, now that we've explored two of the three offshoots of that room earlier, let's enter the third. Head down that staircase you spotted a moment ago. In here is a rather interesting room. On the left is something that looks sort of teleporter-like, but doesn't actually do anything, and then on the right are narrow pathways surrounded by lava, which look like this (image borrowed from Philtron's Volunteers Expanded post, because, well, it's there and I'm too lazy to do any better, so just deal, man):
Embedded in the walls are five terminals, four of which are being read by Drones who will not wake up unless we attack them, and a 1x shield charger, situated just above the smaller offshoot path (right side of photo). Stepping onto said offshoot path causes ammo and a pistol to beam in on that thing that looked like a teleporter. Stepping way out on the main part of the walkway causes two Drones to teleport in behind us and attack. All of the terminals have the same message:
Okay, so which timeline is this? From what I can tell, it sounds like we're continuing where Rage II left off. Consider this: "As you can see, the bugs didn't like being robbed of their prize." Remember that on Hang Brain, Tycho implied that the Pfhor intended to capture Durandal, and so he sent us to kill him instead. That sounds like what's being referred to here. Then there's a mention of R'chzne and 'our trick with the authorization stamps'. That sounds rather like the Despair timeline, but we already established that Despair and Rage II were probably not part of the same timeline. Still, it is quite possible that the whole R'chzne/authorization stamp affair happened in several timelines - after all, we weren't really necessary for that plan to work out; we just helped Tycho finish the job. Finally, we still have Durandal's primal pattern, and Tycho knows it somehow. That implies one of two things: A) we really are in the same timeline, and Tycho found out about what we did on Hang Brain, or B) we've moved to a different but similar timeline, and Tycho's figured out we're not quite normal. The former seems more likely to me, so I'll say that Envy is a continuation of Rage II.
Now, two more things of note: first, the terminal picture. That reminds me of a certain Grinder we just activated. Also, what the heck is that red [?thing?stuff] around that BoB's head? Whatever it is, he's clearly the most unique BoB we've ever encountered - even [?Blake?Jason] looked pretty similar to all the other BoBs, unlike this guy. Then there's the strange red decorations on the back of those Enforcers' robes, and the big glowing light they're using. Second, the purpose of this room and the Drones. The original Volunteers article says this is a 'drone-programming room', and Philtron agrees, saying that "The terminals are above the lava so clearly they were meant for drones/compilers only; most likely this is how the robotic units receive their instructions." Philtron also points out that one of the terminals is missing a Drone. This suggests that Tycho hacked the Drone that was reading it, and that was the Possessed Drone that we saw at the start of the level. Philtron draws some more interesting thoughts from this:
So we now have a Pistol, full 1x shields, and some ammo. Time to head back through that corridor with the prison cells, I think! Heading east, which used to be a dead end until we hit that switch in the Grinder room. Now, the door is open, letting us access a Pattern Buffer and another 1x Shield Charger. We're then attacked by some Fighters coming down a staircase, but again, no big deal. So, finally, let's have a look at the map:
Note that this isn't actually the whole level - there's another large section running underneath this part, but it really clutters the map, so this is just there to make sure you can see all the other stuff clearly (and in fact, even without that whole section the map is still cluttered). The BoB Grinder is south of point A, and the drone programming room with all the terminals is just north of point A. We're right next to the 1x Shield Charger in the center of the map. Yes, I did forget to put the first Pattern Buffer on the map, in addition to missing two other such Pattern Buffers which I will mention when we get to them. Also, ignore all the little blue dots scattered around the map - those indicate BoBs or Simulacrums, and I really could not be bothered to take the time to cover them all up.
So, it's time to continue our adventure, at long last! Heading up that stairway, we find ourselves in a large area exposed to the sky (indicated by point B on the map). You may not see it at first, but behind two massive columns, there is a Mother of all Cyborgs waiting for us! Really there's absolutely no point in fighting it - just run past the columns to a door in the southeastern part of the area, where you'll run into a couple Fighters, but again, nothing serious. Now, at this point, anyone who's played the netmap Delusions of Grandeur a couple times will know this area by heart - that level was actually based off of this one, and this is the main part that got copied over. Heading through this little passageway, we turn right, and then there are three ways the passage goes. The left way is a short dead end with some ammo that teleports in. Forward leads to a room with two teleporters, and turning right past that, a room with a Pattern Buffer, a ledge, a 2x Shield Canister, and a pit of lava. To our immediate right, however, is a staircase that leads up to a ledge overlooking the area with the Mother of all Cyborgs. Heading to the far end, there's an Assault Rifle, some ammo for it, and two Terminals. One displays the same message we read earlier, but the other gives us a different one:
So they're supposed to be scaling back on how many BoBs they're killing? Uh, I think we undid that effort when we set the BoB Grinder to run automatically. Then again, maybe it's doing them a favor. After all, they won't have to suffer at the hands of the Pfhor, now will they? ;)
Now, what is this "Gd'nrl Prime"? Well, this is actually a bit of a misspelling on the part of whoever wrote that terminal, because two levels down the road, we read another terminal from someone else I won't mention yet, which contains this sentence: "Of course, that devotion to species will be among the first of your traits conditioned out on Gr'ndl Prime." Ah, so it's supposed to be "Gr'ndl Prime"! Now, at this point, the Marathon Story Page has a bunch to say about the connections between the Marathon series and the various 'Grendel's of the world. The most important part is early on, where Noah Johnson points out that in the Grendel comic book series by Matt Wagner, there is a character known as 'Grendel-Prime', which sounds a lot like "Gr'ndl Prime". This isn't the first time the Marathon series has been connected with Matt Wagner's comic book series. In the early versions of Marathon, there was a wall texture that clearly tied itself to that series:
That masked face is clearly the mask of Grendel from the Matt Wagner series:
Presumably, Gr'ndl Prime is a location in the Pfhor Empire, probably a planet of great significance. It actually has a special significance for me, considering that I picked it to be the central location for my scenario-sort-of-soon-to-be-in-the-making, Marathon Grendel. But anyways, back to the game at hand.
Between the staircase we came up and the terminals we're at is a hallway leading to a door, which opens up onto a ledge overlooking a room with a pit of lava. If we came up this way first, rather than heading forward from the first hallway and then around, we would find ourselves standing behind a blue Fighter who seems not to notice us, along with three orange Fighters (blue on TC) below on three separate ledges, the left-most of which has a Pattern Buffer (however, all of them are staring at the wall even though only one of them has something worth looking at, namely the Pattern Buffer). Anyways, these four Fighters are easily dispatched by whatever method we desire - fists, Pistol, or Assault Rifle/Grenade Launcher. In the back right corner of the room is a 2x Shield Canister, as I mentioned earlier.
So now we're in a pretty good spot - 2x Shields, an Assault Rifle, and a fresh save. Time to head east, to point C, where there are two teleporters. Facing the teleporters head-on, we'll take the right one (south on the map) first. This drops us into a ledge on the south-eastern side of the Mother of all Cyborgs area, where two Fighters are waiting for us. There's also an Alien Weapon just laying around here. The original Volunteers article says that some "careless Enforcer" just left it there, but Philtron, in his Volunteers Expanded post, would beg to differ. One very significant thing he points out about this level is the simple lack of Enforcers, which is clearly in contrast with everything we would expect. After all, they are essentially the Pfhor Empire's version of the Gestapo - they do all the torturing, executions, and interrogations, and in a way serve as a sort of military police, keeping all the other Pfhor in line. If you'll recall, on 'Thing What Kicks...' there was a terminal about a certain Nar named Robnar, who was interrogated by, you guessed it, Enforcers:
On this very level, we were told by Tycho that "The Enforcers haven't been able to squeeze [Durandal's primal pattern] out of you yet, and are taking it out on some of the former crew of the Marathon as we speak." This makes it sound almost like the Enforcers are here, in this very complex. Not to mention the terminal picture we saw, which evoked something sort of like the BoB Grinder:
On the first prison level, 'The Big House', we were guarded by a couple Fighters and two Enforcers. All in all, it feels like this place should be crawling with them, and yet it seems pretty clear that from the very start, they were never supposed to appear on this level, as both Enforcer slots are taken up by special BoB types. So where are they? What happened to them?
Here's where Philtron makes a bit of an interesting mental leap. He points out another time we encountered an Alien Weapon simply laying around unattended, back on Come And Take Your Medicine. That time, there were a number of corpses laying around nearby, human and Pfhor alike (image borrowed from Philtron):
The reason the Alien Weapon was just sitting there is not because it was abandoned by a careless Enforcer, but rather because said Enforcer was killed by the humans, who were then killed by the Pfhor. It's worth noting that that level and this one were both made by Greg Kirkpatrick, so perhaps he used the same storytelling technique here as he did on Come And Take Your Medicine. So why are there no corpses here? Well, the Lava set doesn't include any blood or corpses, just bones, which wouldn't really fit here. So, instead we just have an abandoned Alien Weapon, probably left by an Enforcer who was killed, which suggests that the other Enforcers that should have been on this level but aren't, were also killed. But who killed them? Certainly not the humans, who are at this stage being hunted down by the Pfhor. So could the other Pfhor on this level have killed the Enforcers? If so, why? Philtron says it's possible that Tycho pulled the same trick here as on Rise Robot Rise, only to get caught by Tfear and imprisoned. Ultimately, this all boils down to a relatively simple question: "What actually happened during those two weeks we spent in prison?" This is actually best left for the end, as there are some other things of note that play a part in the (totally speculative) answer.
So, setting all that aside for now, let's keep progressing through the level. We just took the right/south teleporter at point C, so now we need to try the left/north teleporter. To that end, we jump out the window, head left around the corner, and duck back into the hallway, safe from the Mother of all Cyborgs. Now we return to the teleporters, and now, obeying the Left-Wall Rule™, take the other remaining teleporter. This puts us in the top of a large column in the center of the Mother of all Cyborgs area. Heading down a set of stairs, we find a Fighter and a switch, which opens three thick 'bars' that serve as a large door in the south-west corner of the area. Before we go through there, however, there's something rather unusual here. Facing the switch is a nook that indicates the bottom of the stairs we just came down. This nook comprises of two polygons, both of which are actually secret teleporters! However, they take you to different locations - the one on the left (facing the nook) skips you a good ways ahead in the level, and the one on the right teleports you onto the platform in the BoB Grinder, which of course is suicide even if you let the platform raise above the lava earlier on! Why this is in there, Chris and Greg only know, but thanks to Philtron for pointing this out.
Anyways, dropping out the window and going through the door we just opened, we find a room with a wall bisecting it, on the far side of which sit two regular Cyborgs, who really are no threat now that we have an Assault Rifle. There's also a switch here, and a part of the north wall (on your right as you first enter the room) that's textured differently from the rest, looking sort of like a large door. However, it's not really a door, and the purpose of the switch is unclear at the moment - we'll be returning here near the very end of the level. Anyways, there's another smaller door here, which leads into a U-shaped hallway with five pairs of glowing red shafts extending off the sides, one of which (second on the left) contains a skull. What's up with that? Around the bend are two purple Fighters - Philtron points out that they are marked as 'Blind' in the map, and so if you use the hidden teleporters in that column I mentioned, you can skip past the trigger for these guys and stand in front of them while they just stare at you blankly!
Heading through the door at the end of the hallway, we are now in a large room on the opposite side of that oddly-textured wall/faux-door. Moving in a ways, a whole bunch of Simulacrums teleport in. Yet these Simulacrums are a bit unusual in one respect - rather than spouting their usual nonsense, they instead play a series of 'Apologetic' sounds (the sounds a normal BoB would make if he shot you in the back by accident). All in all, there's a lot of weirdness about the BoBs on this level. These apologetic Sims are distinct from the Sims we've encountered previously on this level, using the Major Enforcer slot in the Physics file so that they can continue to teleport into the room without causing the same thing to happen with the other Sims, just as the Green BoBs on the BoB Grinder used the Minor Enforcer slot so that they could do their infini-teleport thing without messing up all the other Green BoBs on this level. The end result is that both the Grindy BoBs and the Apologetic Sims show up as red triangles on the radar. Anyways, the Pistol works pretty well on these Sims, and there's a bunch of ammo in a niche directly to your left as you first enter the area. There's a door here which doesn't want to open, a staircase, a big column with a ledge way up high, and a weird pillar with lava at the bottom inside (image borrowed from Philtron, again):
The Volunteers article says "Through the teleporter is an area featuring those strange lava pillars we saw on Eat the Path. Perhaps we dreamt of this level." Indeed, the pillars are similar, if you compare:
However, as you can see, they are a bit different, so ultimately, it's a bit hard to tell whether the connection was intentional or coincidental. It is worth noting that Greg Kirkpatrick did create 'Eat the Path', so it is fully possible that he copied the design over to this level to hint at something interesting story-wise. After all, Chris said of 'Eat the Path':
Anyways, getting back to the gameplay, there's nowhere to go except up that staircase, which leads us to a large area with a couple Fighters, a ledge overlooking the Mother of all Cyborgs area, another ledge overlooking the Apologetic Sim area (the one I pointed out a second ago, inside the top of the column), another short staircase, and a Pattern Buffer I forgot to put on the map. Heading up the stairs there's first a window overlooking the Sim area, then a small room with a Fighter that teleports in, a ledge overlooking the area with the weird switch and the faux-door, and a teleporter. This teleporter leads us to another ledge overlooking the Mother of all Cyborgs area (this time in the north-east corner). Looking around, we find an open window looking out over an area with a bunch of those weird pillars (point D on the map - also, image borrowed from Philtron again):
Dropping down and looking left, there's a rather strange sight, more unusual even than the pillars:
This looks like it could be a teleporter (lights in the ceiling) or a platform (metallic floor texture), but in truth it serves absolutely no purpose. Nothing even teleports in on it, oddly enough. However, if you move far enough into this area (as invariably you will), three Cyborgs teleport in at different places. Still, this isn't really much of a problem, and the wonderful MA-75B w/ Grenade Launcher makes short work of them - just be careful you don't accidentally run into the lava inside those pillars! All in all, this level doesn't contain a whole lot of opposition - really it's meant to be rather easy, serving mainly a plot rather than a gameplay need. Heading through a passageway in the northwest corner, we find a big column and, in a secluded corner, another Pistol and some ammo. Past the column is a critical area, guarded by a fair number of enemies, including a Cyborg, three Fighters (all blue), and four Drones (three blue, one yellow). This is really not much trouble though, and we're free to pick and choose from our arsenal of weapons however we please. In the southwest corner is a small... security station, I guess you'd call it, containing a Pattern Buffer (which I did not forget to incorporate into the map) and a switch that opens a door just slightly to the east of here, leading back to the area with all the Apologetic Sims (it's the same door we couldn't open earlier on, thus forcing us to go up those stairs to that teleporter).
Now, in the northeast corner of this area is a staircase and a jump that leads to a relatively secluded area I had no idea even existed until just recently. Inside are two Fighters, a stash of 7 Shotgun shells (which we can't use yet), a second smaller stash of 2 Shotgun shells and a 2x Shield Canister, and two ledges overlooking the room with all the pillars. One ledge contains three Pistol clips, and if you step on it, you'll cause a bunch of ammo for the Assault Rifle to teleport into the big pillar room.
Finally, in the northwest corner of this area is a moat of lava that must be jumped over to reach a door which leads to a spiral staircase going down around a pool of lava. This staircase goes around twice, one time in one room, then another time in a second room below that one, thereby obeying Marathon rules regarding overlapping space. The second room also contains a couple of Fighters. Once you reach the bottom, you're presented with three passageways. The one to the right has a Cyborg that will pounce on us the moment we step out into its field of vision, but no matter. The one to the left is what we really want, and leads to this (again, picture borrowed from you-know-who):
At either of the far ends of the glowing section are two panels that can be smashed. Remember that Tycho said earlier "I'm willing to put the past behind me, and as a show of good faith I'll help you rescue your precious humans. But first, you will have to cut the power to the containment unit and get me out of this box." He then said "The power substations are located in the dungeons. You will be cutting the power for the entire complex, and the Pfhor will likely notice soon thereafter." So this is the power substation. Smashing the panels will supposedly shut off all power for the 'entire complex'. However, even though the lights in this room do flicker after we punch the panels, the lights and terminals throughout the rest of the complex we've traversed previously actually work just fine. I know, I know, there's only so far a given game engine can be pushed, but really it does seem just a little weird.
So the power substation is "located in the dungeons". There were two other ways we could go, one with a Cyborg, leading west and north, and one leading south. First, heading the former route, we find a short, windy hallway with a number of small rooms leading off of it. There are another two Cyborgs down this hallway. So what are these little rooms all about? They don't contain much. However, if you try entering them, you're in for a nasty shock - they have doors which automatically close for a short period if something walks over them. But these aren't just any doors; these are crushing doors. Step on one for a second or two, and you'll be a bloody pancake. What's funny is, something else got crushed like this before you (do I have to keep mentioning Philtron?):
Five of the eight cells here (the other three of which actually don't have the crushing doors) used to contain Pfhor Fighters. When we shot at that Cyborg earlier, they all came to life and promptly tried to exit their cells, only to step on the doors and meet their immediate demise. We never really get to see this happen, but if you were paying attention you may have heard their screams while you were fighting the first Cyborg. There aren't any corpses left because Marathon curiously removes corpses that are pushed into the floor or ceiling by a platform. So why are these Fighters being punished? Not clear - this may have relevance to the question about the Enforcers, but we'll get to that later. Secondly, why are the dungeons designed this way? If you're trying to keep prisoners from escaping, why leave it so that all you end up doing is killing them when they inevitably try to leave the cells? Philtron suspects this has to do with the ineffective and backwards nature of Pfhor bureaucracy. Then again, the level designers might always have their own reasons - they are, after all, the real creators of the dungeons. Here's a quote from Chris Geisel:
hence the name. We made it towards the end of the summer, and made great use of
Vulcan's 'copy and paste' to make the winding, organic hallways where Bob is kept
locked in the basement. About this time I was reading a book that mentioned the
French philosopher Bataille (sp?), and a group of conceptual artists called the
Survivalists. Anyway, they'd make pieces that would test people: test their
empathy, and test their suicidal tendencies. I think the point was that they
believed that you were only truly Alive when you were in danger, so they'd make
machines that would spin people around while randomly firing flamethrowers and
other deadly things. This was the inspiration for the Bob-o-lator, our Infinity
Most likely, the whole thing is an extension of this empathy test - oh, and yes, the 'Bob-o-lator' is what I called the BoB Grinder. So they mentioned BoB being kept locked in the basement - where is this exactly? Well, there's that other hallway we haven't gone down yet; this leads to another set those winding hallways, only now, it spreads out across (or rather, under) the majority of the map. To give you an idea of what I mean, here's what the map looks like after exploring the whole level:
Point E is the hub for the dungeons, and the two purple 'Objective' circles are where the power substation is. The sprawling dungeons we have entered contain many more Cyborgs, and a ton more of those cells, some of which contain ammo (meant to lure you into potentially getting crushed by the doors, although if you move fast enough you can get through unharmed, grab the ammo, wait for the door to open again, and then run through once more), and many more of which contain BoBs. This time, we can easily watch them as they run into the doors and get crushed. Sometimes they'll do this if you just stand in front of them, but sometimes you have to fire a shot to wake them up. Either way, they're doomed to a rather hideous demise. There is in fact another instance of the conspiracy of the sevens here. If we combine all the BoBs down here with the ones way back at the beginning of the level in the two big prison cells, we find that there is one [?pink?terracotta] BoB, 7 blue BoBs, and 21 green BoBs. Apart from two of these numbers being multiples of seven (in fact, all three are if you multiply 7 by 1/7 to get 1, but that probably shouldn't count), the total for regular BoBs is 29. 2-9, or 9-2, gets you either -7 or 7, respectively. That's a lot of sevens for one level.
It's pretty easy to get lost down here, but if you keep moving long enough, you'll find your way out. At one point down here, specifically on the north-east side of the dungeons, there's an oddly-textured wall. Tapping it with the action key causes it to play the locked door sound, hinting that there's something odd going on here. That 'something odd' actually is one of the most well-hidden secrets in the Marathon series - I'm actually kind of amazed anyone ever found it, but then again it has been eighteen years since Infinity was released, so I guess it shouldn't be so surprising.
Alright, remember that switch way back, located west of the Mother of all Cyborgs area, which seemed to serve no purpose? Well, it actually opens up a door where this oddly-textured wall is. However, the door doesn't stay open. You actually have to hit the button, wait a couple seconds, and then hit it again so that the door will be locked in place, allowing you to go through. You can always leave the dungeons, go back up the staircase, and head back to the switch to do all that before returning to the dungeons again. What you'll find inside is actually rather impressive. In total, there are 8 Pistol clips, 4 Fusion Pistol clips, an Assault Rifle Magazine, 5 Pistols, 4 Fusion Pistols, and a Shotgun. That's a hefty haul right there - the only thing that'd make it better would be a Flamethrower or Rocket Launcher!
So, now we're on the last lap of the game, having accomplished our objective. We head back to the room with all the apologetic Sims, through the hallway with the red shafts, past the part with the secret switch and the faux door, and back into the area with the Mother of all Cyborgs. Now that we have some heavier weapons, this MoaC is actually fairly easy to handle - just avoid the seeking bouncy bombs, and lay into him with the Shotgun and/or Fusion Pistol. Go through the corridor, up the stairs, to where we found the Assault Rifle, and read the terminal that previously displayed the starting message. The content has changed:
The curious thing about this terminal is that the login/logoff screen is the same one used for Tycho terminals, yet the text says that the message is from High Admiral Tfear. What's up with that, eh? Personally, I would chalk it up to a mistake by Double Aught - the text is clearly meant to come from Tfear, and the text is really what matters in any terminal. So, we've reached the end of the level. But so many questions still linger. Where are the Enforcers? Where are the Compilers? Why were those Fighters put in the dungeons? What happened in the two weeks we spent "under the painful caresses of the Enforcers"? This is the centerpiece of Philtron's article. I already mentioned some of his key points, namely that the abandoned Alien Weapon was there due to a battle in which the local Enforcers were killed, a battle likely caused by Tycho turning the lower-ranking Pfhor against the Enforcers. The Cyborgs are here because they stayed loyal, and the Fighters and Drones we encountered were probably shipped here after the battle by Pfhor Command to take the place of the mutinous prison guards.
But why did Tycho initiate a mutiny in the first place? Philtron says he believes the goal of Tycho's treachery this time was to have us killed in the crossfire - his obsession with destroying Durandal means that our possession of Durandal's primal pattern is bound to cause him some irritation. However, the plan failed, as we survived and Tfear took notice of Tycho's tricks. This explains why Tycho was being interrogated at the start of the level, and why he offered to "put the past behind him" and work with us (or rather, tell us what to do - these AIs are more often bosses than they are co-workers). Then there's that bit about Tfear having a special unit of Compilers running containment simulations for nine years, implying that he is now using those Compilers to contain Tycho. Why the need for special Compilers? Well, during the attack on the Boomer, Tycho seems to have caused the rampancy of the S'pht on-board, even saying on a terminal that doesn't actually appear in game "My ship has wrested control of Durandal's S'pht and is spurring them into rampancy." So if Tycho can do that with Durandal's S'pht, why can't he do that with any old Compilers the Pfhor would normally use to contain him? Thus the need for special Compilers, ones that are resistant to such induced rampancy. Now, Tycho must be nearby, in the same complex as us, because our cutting the power is supposed to allow him to escape his containment. So where are the Compilers? Are they all in that other section of the complex, the part we don't get to see? Or did something happen to them? It's hard to say, though I'm more inclined to believe the Compilers are fine and we just never get to see them.
So then, what really happened during the two weeks of our being in prison?
Philtron has one possible narrative: First, on Hang Brain, we destroyed Durandal and copied his primal pattern to some part of our cyber-brain. Then, we were captured, and interrogated by the Enforcers. Tycho, who at this point was still running free, tried to destroy Durandal by killing us, using forged authorization stamps to convince local units to turn against each-other, hoping we would die in the ensuing chaos. This is all right under the nose Admiral Tfear, who does not take long to notice, and sends his special unit of Compilers to capture Tycho, who was then interrogated (god knows what the methods of torture must have been like) and who revealed his earlier tricks with R'chzne (which is what we saw at the start of the game, on Rise Robot Rise), implicating us as a collaborator (which we kind of were, assuming that our actions on Rise Robot Rise really did occur, either because all the Tycho timelines - Despair, Rage II, and Envy - are really all the same timeline, or because in this timeline, there was a Security Officer that Tycho captured, and we are now controlling that Security Officer, if that makes sense). Tycho was then put in a containment unit near where we are being held, probably under the control of the Compilers. However, he was able to slip through the defenses, release us, possess a Drone to help us break free, and leave a message in the garrison network for us. He waited while we cut the power for the entire complex, but in this time Tfear took notice of what was going on and interfered, severing our connections with Tycho and forcing us to work with the Pfhor.
This does sound quite plausible, bearing in mind that it is all just speculation (but then again, what else is there). I think the only thing that could settle all this is a direct answer from Greg or Chris, but when is that ever going to happen? I would, however, love to hear what thoughts other people might have about this whole thing - new theories are always a treat, and even additions to old theories are most welcome indeed.
But soft, let me rest my case, whilst Martin leads the Pfhor once more unto the breach.
|Tour of Duty - By Committee||PerseusSpartacus||8/2/14 9:59 a.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty - By Committee||Hokuto||8/2/14 10:40 a.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty - By Committee||Martin||8/2/14 1:19 p.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty - By Committee||VikingBoyBilly||8/5/14 5:31 a.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty - By Committee||Narcogen||8/2/14 4:44 p.m.|
|Re: Tour of Duty - By Committee||Martin||8/2/14 7:12 p.m.|
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