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Tour of Duty: ...evil so singularly personified...
Posted By: MartinDate: 2/12/16 9:24 a.m.




Tempus Irae
20
…evil so singularly personified…

Last time on Tour of Duty we tried to remember our instructions from the previous Repository level, as we explored the K’alima, trying to blow it up. Typing this up, I find myself thinking of Blake’s 7 episode Seek Locate Destroy and Vila’s speech to the guards: “Hello there. How are you? Excuse me wandering about your premises but I wonder if you can help me. I’m an escaped prisoner. I was a thief but recently I’ve become interested in sabotage. In a small way you understand, nothing too ambitious, I hate vulgarity don’t you? Anyway, I’ve come to blow something up. What do you think will be most suitable?” Mind you that’s pretty much the conspicuous approach we, as the SO, take to most missions :D. And yes, we made a bit of a dent on our first foray, climbing up and down between engineering drive reactor cores and smashing firewall switches.

And then we approached a wall and teleported to the next level, this level, instantly … it was just my writeup that took another month *sigh*. But here we are! Now, looking back at the last terminal, we are heading down to the auxiliary reactor core to smash more switches and then we can point the ship at the Sun. Sounds good!

We start in a roundish room with a view available of where we just came from, but that little window starts closing shortly after we arrive. A door opposite doesn’t want to open, but then the side walls start opening on their own, revealing some Hunters that want to kill us – get in line! They fail anyway, and we proceed ‘left’ through a door to find quite a wonderful haven: a 2x shield recharger, an oxygen recharger, a terminal, and a Pattern Buffer! Also a door that starts opening and then immediately closes again, but I guess you can’t have everything! The map and the spoiler guide suggest there’s not much going on beyond anyway.

The terminal is communication from some “rebel” Pfhor I guess, going against the decision from central on the previous level that Ha’rar would be executed for treason for trying to overthrow the Command Mecha. They have come to understand that this whole business of messing with history is not a great idea – yay for Pfhor self-awareness!

Heading back out, we quickly join back up to where that door wouldn’t open to start with, so at least this is not a massive detour level. There is another door that is just slightly open, but again, not to worry, that is absolutely the style of the time! We find a Fighter in front of another terminal, trying to send a message to further the conspiracy to save Ha’rar, but unfortunately we interrupt him, à la Infinity. We then proceed down some stairs – the start of a rather impressive figure 8 from here, with several rooms off to the sides, and various Pfhor along the way. The spoiler guide says that the whole level is 36 World Units tall, which isn’t something I readily understand, but the idea that combined with the previous level, it sees us descend 54 storeys, that I get, and … wow.

The first room off to the side from the stairs takes us back up a bunch, and has us look out over the chamber and indeed witness the execution of Ha’rar, a Fighter against several Enforcers. Well that was never really going to go any other way :(. The spoiler guide says we should sit and curse the injustices of Pfhor society, but I think it was just partly our fault what with the previous terminal. Anyway, we can’t do anything about it, and at this point I got distracted by something else. My examination of the full map, a little after I got here in my playthrough, made me a bit suspicious – let’s take a look.

First of all, this level really is into stairs in a big way! Unfortunately the main staircase gets lost a bit in the 3d rendering, but the height as mentioned earlier, is clear from the massive scenery space to the right. But more specifically on the 2d map, right where we are now, near the bottom of the figure 8, there is some weird overlap – a secret! Indeed, the wall here opens up to reveal a 3x recharger, and then a lift down, which we can see in the 3d map, and really does take us a long way down, in fact all the way to the end of this set of stairs, plus it gives us an invincibility powerup to boot! But that way we would miss some interesting stuff, so let’s save it for later.

Carrying on with the staircase as normal instead, we have an annoying downhill fight with a bunch of Fighters and Invisible Enforcers. I think the latter are actually doing their enforcing job as well here – perhaps these were some of the Ha’rar sympathisers? RIP. The next side room is nearby, and affords us a view out into a massive open area with some Juggernauts. It’s just a small observation room though, we can’t get any closer, and that’s never a bad thing!

The next side room gives us some ammo, and a terminal, which starts off as a S’pht one, berating us for wasting time here, but then gets taken over by this new merged Tycho-Us entity, which carries on the whole S’pht liars sentiment, suggesting that they put our world in danger in the first place – I thought that was Durandal calling the Pfhor, but I guess the reference may be to things longer ago than that. I like Tycho saying he cannot tolerate more than one of himself – when the M2 final screen tells us that later Pfhor AI personalities were all based on images of Tycho. Plus, in himself he has always seemed to be a candidate for split-personalities :).

We can run around the rest of this room – I just tried jumping off the platform and it worked; then I started wondering if I could get back up, and thankfully this was no Defend THIS bridge :). Anyway, I don’t think there are secrets of any kind; in fact there’s nothing of interest at all, a bit of a waste of quite a nicely shaped room, but hey, I guess that’s engineering!.

The next side room lets us look over the Juggernaut area again, quite a bit lower down. We still can’t access it at all, but this one does take us to a terminal that documents experiments with “nonmagnetic-fusion drives” in these Juggernauts – it says they weren’t sure what would happen when they were destroyed, but when I finished reading they were dead anyway – not sure if something dramatic happens on TC. The promised S’pht’Kr choose to help out here, rather than coming inside where we could use them! Either way, the terminal explains the differences between the standard Juggernauts and the newly-designed ones in this scenario. Interesting stuff.

And then we reach the bottom of the staircase again, an encounter with some Drones, and a 3x shield recharger and oxygen recharger. A small path leads to a ring inside the ring created by the staircase – both sides take us promptly to teleporters just like the ones we encountered during the previous level, and indeed at its end, with the blue electric fence textures. And again they just jump us a few inches to the other side, and on we go, to find a Pattern Buffer and another terminal. Umm, no it’s not quite that simple. When I was reading about the heights in the spoiler guide, I noticed the line “the teleporters in the middle ring are duplicated at -9 WU and 9 WU” but didn’t really get the implication at the time. These teleporters actually also chuck us back up 18 World Units, I guess mainly because they couldn’t make the level any taller at this point? Well anyway, the polygons are duplicated at least as far as we can see beyond them around the arc of the ring, so it is not at all obvious! Anyway, I mentioned a terminal!

Tycho might just be referring to the invincibility powerup, and it is probably a good idea to go and get it now – all we know so far is that there is a massive lift up ahead: what could possibly go wrong? Having said that, you can’t access that secret from the bottom of the stairs, so he would be referring to a pretty big backtrack, and there’s a bunch of SPNKR ammo just hanging out by this terminal, so is there a SPNKR somewhere as well? There’s no mention of it anywhere, and I think I’m only missing one because of Never Satisfied, so I guess there is no deeper conspiracy here. Shame we won’t get to use that ammo though!

Well, anyway, set the lift to head down before you go and get the invincibility, or it will pretty much wear off before you get to the action. At the top of the lift there is a ledge with two switches, a blue one that activates the lift, and a red one that sets a series of doors to the left slightly opening and closing repeatedly. The same layout is present at the bottom of the lift’s journey, but the doors open fully, and we carry right on through them!

It’s a decent fight, with Blue Hunters and a MOAC as well as some Green Hunters and hangers-on. We stand in a long open space lit at its dead-end, which feels like it wanted to be a door, but never got around to it. Along the way there are ways onto those other rounded staircases we noted on the map, and boy are they dark. Not good to be playing this with the sun around! I mean Marathon was always a dark game, and I guess I ask for it by having its brightness on “Dark”, but it’s extra hard on stairs … and when there’s half-a-dozen Invisible Enforcers on them as well. Quite a nasty encounter even on Kindergarten for writeups :).

These were the stairs to the left that I went down, and after dealing with the Enforcers, we are presented with a door, which heads us through a corridor underneath that we were just in before. Through the door at the other end, there’s a terminal that goes through the statuses of the various systems here in engineering. Currently only the weaponssubsystem is off-nominal, in fact marked as shutdown – did we do that *cute, innocent face*?

From here we can go to the left and right, to rooms with walls of brightly-lit engineering … stuff, and as we go by, panels open up to reveal our destructible circuits! So we destruct them – and that is all we need to do down here. Those instructions at the end of the previous level said as much, even to the point of the panels sliding open as we arrived! The terminal reports changes, with interlockingsystems in critical error, and failsafeinterlock failure, yay!

But it is not obvious that we are finished down here, and we are not used to going back to earlier terminals for success messages in this series, so I spent some time checking out the other stairs to the right.

These take us up to some switches – the left one activated and the other unresponsive. If we deactivate the left one, a door opens just opposite, to a corridor with the door closed at the other end. After things have run their course, the right hand switch becomes responsive, but it just closes the near door again. However, if we go through the door and then activate the right hand switch, we can get through to the other side of this corridor, kill another Enforcer, and get some very slight views out at another inaccessible space on the map.

Not being able to work out anything else of note down here, I eventually headed back up to check the terminals. The one at the top of the lift now has a bunch of garbled text, starting with “I have repressed Tycho for the moment”. Huh. Wasn’t it a merger of Tycho and the SO that was ranting at us earlier? Is this our own image trying to take over? Great, now we’re talking to ourselves!

But that doesn’t get us off the level. For that we have to return to the only vaguely S’pht-y terminal we’ve seen around here, where they told us to stop wasting time. Now they tell us that we’re off to smash more circuits and open some Enforcers to vacuum – well they are trying to fix the stuff we broke … that’ll teach them! It’s a very small level, as is the following one, so should be quick to write up, and there’s the added bonus that VBB has done writeups for the Mt Vesuvius levels, so we really are almost out of the woods here!

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Replies:

Tour of Duty: ...evil so singularly personified...Martin 2/12/16 9:24 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: ...evil so singularly personifieGeneral-RADIX 2/12/16 12:03 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: ...evil so singularly personifieHokuto 2/12/16 6:36 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty: ...evil so singularly personifieMartin 2/13/16 8:46 a.m.

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