/-/S'pht-Translator-Active/-/


Tour of Duty: Aye Mak Sicur
Posted By: VikingBoyBillyDate: 1/19/15 4:37 p.m.

Last time on tour of duty we killed some of Tfear’s personal guards and we got whisked away to an old Jarro station orbiting Lh’owon to activate a weapon to contain the W’rk before Tfear’s Trih Xeem unleashes it to wreak chaos on our reality.

When I signed up for Infinity’s Tour Of Duty, I preemptively declined to write up Aye Mak Sicur. I just looked up “preemptive” in wiktionary and it says it means to deter an anticipated unpleasant situation. That’s not accurate to what I mean, because I wouldn’t call this unpleasant. I just assumed I couldn’t do this map the justice it deserves. But honestly… who could? It reallyy just needs to be played. So from here on I’m going to pretend we’re going into this with no expectations, like this is just another map and I’ll try to save the Masterpiece of Level Design speech for the end.

We start in a cramped room with a few slimy cubby holes. The door is jammed, but some investigation shows us a strobed light next to one of the slime holes, and we get stuck when we go in that particular one. Some button mashing opens a tunnel flowing with slime. Are we entering a Jjarro sewer? That would be some sixty million year old sewage we’re wading through.

We can hear the s’pht’kr battling it out with some hunters and I help them out a bit with my flechette through the narrow windows. This map has my favorite ambient sound effect in Infinity: the creaking metal sound. Helen’s Guardian of Steel has a similar sound and it scoffs in the face of those who say “metallic levels have no atmosphere (or something like that).” It makes you feel that the place is ancient and barren, but at the same time something could be happening where you can’t see and a big hunk of old metal could fall off the ceiling on your head.

Anyway.

We pop out in a place with a lift to a 2x canister and a teleport. There’s a terminal near the door (that’s jammed) which says:


Wow, so the W’rk is doubt. Does that mean when Tycho refers to himself as doubt he is… was that even Tycho at all on bagged again? Did the work use some time travel powers to possess Tycho and speak through him? This is a crazy theory, but perhaps Tycho and the W’rk have been merged in the same way Durandal and Thoth are. Yeah, that does sound too crazy… but Tycho was leading on that he knew a bit more than he should have on his own.
It’s only thanks to Thoth speak that I made a connection like that. Thoth’s weird crypto-dialect helped me understand more than plain english would have. Weird, isn’t it? But then something’s clogged up their thought with an overthought unravel and it appears Durandal has taken over with typical UESC Marathon AI instruction-speak. None of Durandal’s sass; just boring Leela-like instructions, with some hints that Thoth is trying to fight his way back to the surface. We need to find uplink chips (what else?) and contain this crazy thing before the Trih Xeem lets it escape.

The teleport zaps us in the middle of open fire with Hunters with no time to enjoy the scenery, though out the window we can see the part of the station where one of the uplink chips is waiting and a juggernaut is floating outside (to answer the implicit question: no, you cannot kill it). We have tons of rockets from the last map and it’s pretty much the only thing I got since I used up the flechette, so we might as well let her rip. A button at the side of the window will lower a bridge outside connected to the door on the platform we teleported in on; this is something that we should remember for later. There are a lot of ways to go from here; this is an open ended map, and could by far be the most nonlinear and confusing maps in Marathon history. I choose to look for the place where we teleported in at the start, where we see a dead shield charger and pattern buffer teasing us, the other end of the jammed door where we started the map (it’s still jammed on this side, so we can’t return there quite yet), and down some other stairs we see the narrow window to the sewage where we shot through to kill the hunters in here.

I suppose now’s as good a time as any to whip out the map, no use keeping up a pretense that we don’t already know where we are.

We’ve seen fragments of this place in our dreams before, or if we have not taken the hard paths to find the endings of the timelines beyond our dreams, this would be our first time visiting it. In any case, now we have the full Jjarro station accessible to us, divided into three rings.

This map is so dense it literally pushed the infinity engine to it's limit; it has 1024 polygons, which was the maximum the engine would allow at the time. For trivia, this is based on an M1 fan map called Pfhactory, and then expanded as Pfhactory N'Utopia, and then reworked a third time into the result we have here. I've attempted playing said map in M1 on aleph one... but just got a bunch of black textures. Bumping around and looking at the map revealed I started in the same sewage area.

Backtracking to the hall we came from, there is a teleport that takes us to the lower floor of the main elevator we’ve seen on our previous visits to this station. The teleporter in this shaft was once a level exit, but now we can use it to get back to the big window room and inactive pattern buffer. Taking the elevator up to the juggernaut we’re dreading reveals a welcome surprise of S’pht’Kr distracting him and the hunters, so we can make a break across the room to the 2x charger and pattern buffer. Whew, I needed that! I’m pretty sure the physics are evil and allows the juggernauts to respawn, so I’m not sure if he should warrant my attention. Also, the first uplink chip is in the middle of this room; I think that’s worth mentioning, and we should go pick that up.

Now, due to the security officer’s crippling inability to hold two uplink chips at once (even Duke Nukem could carry two guns), we have to find where we plug this thing in.

If we explore the narrow shaft to the south, we can find some ammo in the not-so-dead-ends-since-the-doors-open-now and we can jump across a gap in one of the tall shafts to get to a door with a yellow canister. Where to go, where to go, hmm… can you tell I’m writing this as I go along without a pre-conceived plan of the most optimal route? Just thought you’d like to know I’m wandering aimlessly.

Well, we can drop down to the place we “started” after that sewage swim, and we can run through that “troll corridor" I mentioned the last time I wrote up one of these levels. This time the door at the end is open and there are no teleporting troopers, but there are hunters on the other side we’re familiar with.

At the terminal where I exited that other time, we see Thoth lamenting his poor moon Pthia.

It’s very sad.

At least, that's what I thought at first. Some emails with Martin and reading a page of the volunteers series reminded me that the Lh'owon moon is K'lia. Pthia is yrro's partner the w'rkncacnter killed. I mixed the two words up in my head somehow.

Interestingly, this terminal shows us a ship we’re familiar with from Ne Cede Malis. Remember, it’s the first thing we saw out the window when we started this scenario? Is this retroactive time travel sheenanigans at play? Or is this Tfear’s attacking vessel we’re looking at?

Martin and I have discussed this terminal at length:
VBB: [...] Maybe I should ask you some questions to help me look like less of an idiot in this write up. Like, Thoth's terminal with the ship on it—that's the thing we saw outside on Ne Cede Malis, isn't it? Is that supposed to be the station we're on in this map? Because it doesn't resemble it well... I was guessing it could be tfear's ship or something, but that could be the smaller ship in the image that looks like it's attacking it. [...]
Martin: [...] Hmmm, I've never actually given that terminal pic much thought, which should seem odd given that it is really one of the few unique pics in Infinity. Yeah it looks a lot like the ship we saw outside at the start of NCM, and as you say, it kinda ain't the station we're on! Bring it up for further discussion - the terminal message itself is also odd, not surprisingly. The forces in balance and then nothing sounds liken the mystery we've been trying to solve all along - but is it actually that in the failed timelines, "balance" led to the destruction of Lh'owon and the W'rkncacnter and bad things ... and now we're screwing with the "balance" and ending up with something slightly more than "nothing"? Is this an innate failing in the concept of balance? [...]
VBB: [...] What I called the "Thoth terminal," that's my bad. It does make sense that this Yrro character from the mythology was writing about his lost partner Pthia. I get confused because I mix Pthia and K'lia in my head so I thought he was talking about the 11th Clan that left a thousand years ago, but they're not lost; they've been found and are kicking the Pfhor's butts! But K'lia will be lost due to the fact that the singularity will cause a sun to go missing and that moon is no longer folded into some alternative space. So what's the significance of that Ship in the terminal pic if it's something relevant (and as old as) the yrro/pthia mythos? In Carrol Street Station that terminal got erased and overwritten by a desperate human, apparently destroying a several millenia year old antique message. It has the Thorandal symbol, not the S'pht symbol with a "s'pht translator active" message though, so I don't exactly comprehend the details of what's going on with that message or who put it there. [...]
Martin:[...] Umm right, I might need to go back to reading things up again, the yrro terminal is a bit odd here really. You're talking about the arther frain term on you're wormfood right? I wonder if it had a precious[sic] incarnation. [...]

Oddly there’s a door leading out to space —which is locked, obviously— but you have to wonder what this is and why it is here. A boarding area for other ships?

I die a bit and it’s just… honestly there’s too much to explore to describe coherently, but there’s sort of a docking bay like place we can drop into from the main juggernaut room above, and if we somehow navigate around the ship to get to the platforms above the room, we’ll find a button that opens the windows and turns on an alarm to reveal a juggernaut and a kinda radio dish looking thing (???).

Anyway, near here we find the place to plug in our uplink chip. Thorandal is on a terminal nearby to give us the update explaining what this machine is actually going to do when activated and where the 2nd chip is (I already spoiled the location near the beginning, but Thorandal is here to confirm it):


That chip is in a weird location, as we’ll see, and it’s tricky to get to. A singularity capable of swallowing the nova would kinda make Tfear’s efforts to wipe out the s’pht’kr and flee futile, wouldn’t it? In M2 we were at a stalemate at this point because of the nova and had to wait some 50 years or whatever for the humans and s’pht’kr to team up and bomb the pfhor home world, but if the s’pht’kr can just stomp tfear and battle group seven right here and now without any effort or severe losses, it should mean the pfhor will be losing a lot faster. Too bad none of the aftermath of this alternate timeline is explained in the scenario’s ending (semi-spoiler).

Anyway, if we go back to the big window with the button to lower the bridge, we’ll see a door opened up to the sewerage where we started, and the teleporter to the door on that platform. Now we can lower the bridge and teleport up there to the second uplink chip (alternatively you can rocket jump, but really, now).

I got stuck in the bridge while battling the hunters when the door closed and had to press the inside button to lower myself back down to get inside again. Why did the Jjarro design this bridge thing like this? Well, BUNGIE designed it for the puzzle, but what’s the in-story purpose of something like this? I think this area may be risen at default to give room for incoming ships outside, possibly, like those folding bridges for ships passing underneath IRL and the water world of Mario Bros 3. That’s what I think, anyway. Now we can jump to reach the floating uplink chip and read… this terminal:

Okay, there's like, 26 more pages of this, but you know what? Go look it up on the story page. I'm very sorry to Martin or PS or whoever it was that took the time to take 27 screenshots of this hexadecimal mess, but I ain't posting it here just to waste my own time and effort bloating up the page. Seriously, go read it all here if you're so interested. Then tell me I'm a lazy piece of smashed nebulon for omitting 90% of that filler.

This is a continuation of the hexadecimal started way back on Ne Cede Malis, and supposedly putting them together creates a marathon map file called Hats off to Eight Nineteen! I've never played the map myself (), but we have seen it in terminal images in some of the durability knife story in our dreams, and I'm pretty sure what we see in the image is all there is to it. We do see another terminal in that screenshot, and it does have text, but instead of covering that map in it's own entry I'll post that terminal text here. I could just tell you it's bad fanfiction, but... here it is to read for yourself:

—no, no, I'll spare this tour of duty entry from one more textwall and just give you another link. My research tells me this was someone in Double Aught's idea for a future, non-Marathon game (an rpg maybe?).

We have left the Big Lipped Alligator moment and will now proceed with our scheduled Tour of Duty.

The second uplink panel is near those inactive shield charger and pattern buffer on the other side of the jammed sewer door (the uplink panel itself was inactive until we activated the first one, I think). Inserting the second chip rewards us with the active pattern buffer and a 3x charger! The jammed sewer door opens, and traveling through the muck again and reading the terminal gives us our goodbye message:


and we are warped to the finale screen.

I'm tempted to say "make of that what you want" to minimize word count, but that's not why we're here, is it? We don't get an epilogue summarizing the history of everything that happens between the humans, the s'pht, and the pfhor like we do in Marathon 2, leaving a lot of differences unaccounted for. What about Robert Blake and the Bobs? Thoth didn't send us to a pfhor refueling station to hijack for their escape, and Tfear had us slaughtering and trapping them for enslavement, so we don't know if they're okay this time. Presumably the pfhor lost the war, but everything else in the M2 ending screen has been demoted to fanfiction because of infinity. I hate to say that, but can you call a timeline that essentially didn't happen canon? That's the thing, though. What if M2 was real, and infinity was all a dream? Despair, Rage, Envy, Aye Mak Sicur - DREAMS. It would be fitting for an expansion pack for none of it to count. Yes, that's what infinity is, fanboys - an expansion of Marathon 2, not a sequel. The scenario's not called Marathon 3; it's Marathon Infinity, so stop speculating about Bungie making "Marathon 4." That irritates me greatly.

That's an entire paragraph and I haven't even started covering the contents of the endscreen. This screen is normally incomprehensible to all but the most attentive of first time players, and even after bathing in Marathon's story until you're a Marathon encyclopedia it's still a mystery what it means that you are destiny. Leaving us in the dark as to what's happened after the w'rk was contained in a singularity, it skips forward to describe the closure of the universe Durandal and Tycho were both seeking to escape. This screen is narrated in the second person, and it's not told who is talking to us, but the easiest thing to assume is this is Durandal (or thorandal, whatever). It certainly can't be S'bbhuth, because this screen tells us he attempted to escape only to meet his doom. So... was S'bbhuth another rampant AI? This lends credence to that theory, thought it's still likely he's some kind of immortal jarro or s'pht hybrid... thing.

The art itself shows some kind of tiny ship hurtling in an orage void, and then a big hand etched into a bloodstain. This symbolizes... I don't know. Is it all the player, w'rkncacncters, Durandal, or what?

What's important to take away from this is nothing else in the universe (or at the very least, S'bbhuth and whoever is talking to us) survived the closure. We alone, the player, escaped. We are Destiny, retroactively namedropping a game Bungie would make two decades in the future (as in, last year. Do you feel old?). Whether Destiny the game has anything tied in with Destiny the Mjollnir Mark IV Battleroid security officer, I don't know — I haven't played that other game — but this may have something to do with the supposed Jjarro technology that was used to create us that we tapped into a new level of potential in Ne Cede Malis. Whether we're aware of what we were doing or not, the title of Destiny refers to our ability to undo any natural course of events and pick a new timeline. Nothing is allowed to deviate from destiny's plan because we'll continue dreaming until we eat the right path. We are the vessel of fate, making history go our way even when there are multiple outcomes. We have died a thousand times, and will die a thousand more until we meet success. The pattern buffers make it all a foregone conclusion. I guess that can all be an analogy for having a save feature in video games, making mistakes meaningless as players can just jump back in time with the benefit of hindsight, but that's a discussion we don't need to derail to.

Here's some more of our correspondence about this:
VBB: I never checked out the volunteers series much (I just noticed Hamish compiled it all in a volunteers link under "facts and puzzling things about..."). It looks like they did the exact thing we're doing now. So... why are we making another series of writeups? (Because we have maps?) He's more succinct about the level architecture than I was (i.e., assumes you already know it and doesn't mention it much. I take the opposite approach). I disagree with some of his asspull theories. He says the player talks directly to S'bbuth in the first terminal and I'm certain that's all Thorandal (the overthought interruption is Durandal's side trying to take over to do the talking in human-readable dialect). He says the "we, as Durandal" line is referring to the Jjarro working through Durandal which... no, it's just Thorandal clarifying that the Durandal half of him who was the SO's master is the one giving you freedom, which is more personal to us since Durandal has manipulated us from the start.

[...]

I don't buy that Infinity and the M2 ending are the same timeline. I mean, the way M2 ended, the W'rk should have wrecked everything, but it doesn't refer to Durandal as a merged entity and it makes a refrerence to that refeuling ship full of humans you saved in the M2 timeline which couldn't have happened in the Tycho and Tfear enslaved timeline we were in. Bah... I put a more effort into these private emails than I do in the write ups.
Martin: Volunteers is a main link off the story page front, it's just that there are so many links it's hard to spot. I read some of them back when they were posted and have read them a few times in the years since. I came to understand much from them, and always consider them as a reference for our purposes, but some stuff I have only come to understand this time around; that's kind of why we're doing it. As you said, we have also been a lot more thorough and included a lot more discussion, but I consider it to be building upon volunteers and all the rest of what's on the story page, rather than being a one stop shop. We stand on the shoulders of giants :). Plus of course we have new people that were not around back then, PS was hardly born even. And it keeps the place on life support :). Not reacting emotionally to your dissing volunteers or anything, just other stuff to think about.

[...]

My take in few words is that what we do in infinity then allows us to return to the m2 timeline - the w'rkncacnter issue is dealt with in all timelines somehow? And then things continue just as m2 told us, without the catastrophic stuff that it rather forgot to mention. I just can't see how else to deal with the two games. The fact that durandal has nothing more to do with humanity can be understood as he's busy hanging with thoth and learning all sorts of more interesting stuff, before we eventually get to infinity's end screen and the end of everything. We were pretty important really. Of course the fact that durandal exists on his own at m2's end is a problem for this, but I'm sure there's a way around that somewhere :).

Well, that concludes Tour of— But Wait, There’s more! Down in the main window room where we teleported in from the sewage is an elevator leading up to a 3x canister, and there are several other health canisters behind doors and spawning ammo on top of crates (the AR ammo is useless to me since I never got one). There’s a really big hallway with lift stairs and a juggernaut floating around that I ran around in a few times, but never mentioned as it is not necessary to complete the map, just a nuisance if you stay in there too long.

The real bonus is up in the central juggernaut room. If we go into one of the corridors and tab a wall inside a drop, the wall will open, revealing a secret we can hop into.

Inside is a bunch of ammo, a hunter, and a terminal. Before reading the terminal, I want to take a moment to read the terminal. What am I talking about? Well look at what terminals look like in the Jjarro station with Goran Svenson's Hi Res texture pack:

This clearly says something. It's barely legible, but it is readable text.
I will do my best to transcribe it:


~text terminal interface ~2992 dud


It's too bad, perhaps
if I could have delayed
the pfhor from using their
weapon, I could have sent
you to explore the ruins of
Lh'owon. Perhaps what you
found would give us the answers
that we ???? need so desperately:
a way to stop the chaos. The purpose of
the station to which you're currently
standing, and why the chaos hasn't come.


here yet, that with each ????(second?) the
chaos grows, I am doomed to die
here, after so many triumphs. I have.

So, just a copy/paste of what Durandal said on Ne Cede Malis.

Now, for the actual contents of the terminal we're looking at.









There you have it. Grek Kirkpatrick named one of his cats Grendel. A terminal on either Son of Grendel or Bagged again has "Hastur rules the earth" hidden in the text, incidentally, as well as the initials gjk (I think. Maybe that's on another map).

So ends Marathon Infinity and begins the Vidmaster's Challenge. The vidmaster levels themselves are remakes of levels we've already seen and aren't much to commentate on, but that hasn't stopped me in the past. Martin, surprisingly, has never played the Vidmaster levels before, so if we should tackle those, I'll leave him to take up the mantle, under the conditions that he stop this kindergarten nonsense and scratchstart Try Again on Total Carnage difficulty, punching and grenading all switches and not using caps lock for the run key and all that. (we must revise to "turn always run off")

I'll put it to a vote in the comments whether we should do these or not. I say yes, so that's one vote in favor so far.

Did I say I was going to monologue about why this map is a masterpiece at the end? Meh... this may already the longest write up in the ToD series and the map speaks for itself. Just go play it.


















*dies from carpal tunnel*

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Pre-2004 Posts


Replies:

Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurVikingBoyBilly 1/19/15 4:37 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurVikingBoyBilly 1/19/15 5:39 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurRoland 1/20/15 3:04 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurVikingBoyBilly 1/19/15 5:42 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurMartin 1/20/15 2:16 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurForrest of B.org 1/20/15 10:46 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurMartin 1/20/15 11:23 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurHokuto 1/23/15 9:56 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurDispatcher 1/24/15 5:50 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurMartin 1/24/15 7:53 a.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurVikingBoyBilly 1/28/15 2:30 p.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurMartin 1/28/15 2:34 p.m.
                             Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak Sicur *LINK*Dispatcher 1/28/15 2:41 p.m.
                                   Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurMartin 1/29/15 12:38 a.m.
                                         Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurDispatcher 1/29/15 3:08 p.m.
                                         Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurDispatcher 1/29/15 3:11 p.m.
                                               Re: Tour of Duty: Aye Mak SicurMartin 1/29/15 3:32 p.m.

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