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Tour of Duty: Post Naval Trauma
Posted By: MartinDate: 3/18/14 11:42 a.m.

Last time on Tour of Duty, we ran around like a mad thing in a vacuum and turned off some Pfhor warning systems. Really our main challenges were staying alive and not running out of oxygen, which are, you know, decent things to aim for. We had been strangers to vacuum since Leela sent had us align satellite dishes to send a message to Earth, back in the day, but now vacuum might as well be our middle name. The oxygen charger at the end of Confound Delivery turned out to be rather important, but that story was in another timeline, and was told another time.

We found ourselves back in Durandal’s company after our bizarre little stint with Tycho, and we got the feeling that this was an alternative wakeup to that of Waterloo Waterpark. We were confused by the status of our armoury, especially its not having been ’alf-inched in the time jump, and similarly by Durandal’s apparent lack of surprise – or at least lack of suggestion about what we might be expected to do for weapons, as was the case last time he woke us up. Mind you, Tycho didn’t give any advice like that either, and on the surprise part, it’s not like the AIs ever really comment on those sorts of details, I mean how could they, the messages are usually left ready for us to read, it’s not like Durandal is watching us … is it? Although having said that, there were those terminals in such levels as Eat It Vid Boi! where he got pissed off with us for hanging around, so those must have been in the moment. Anyway, last point here, there was that one time, on Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune, where Durandal said to our face that the S’pht were working on a replacement for our Fusion Pistol, when we had already found a secret one, so he doesn’t know everything :)!

Okay, on that point about vacuum being our middle name, it doesn’t take long for us to notice that this level is similarly afflicted … and then we cry. Although with this level there has been discussion about whether it is really vacuum or simply lack of oxygen due to the open window with a Juggernaut outside at one point. But at the time, we don’t really care -why- we can’t breathe, we’re just upset about it! Rage! Remember?

There are at least oxygen chargers on this level, but the path to the first we want to get to in a real hurry to it is so complex as to be a bit mental for the unprepared. With knowledge aforethought from previous playthroughs, I actually quite like the challenge it still presents, but it has been described as unfair, and suffice it to say I won’t be playing on TC for my reminder/confirmation run for this writeup! Except of course my saves keep getting confused and setting themselves back on TC >< – force of habit I guess. My Acme Station save actually just got really confused, and had green and red Fighters but everything else (including oxygen depletion rate) was on TC mode. I’ll have to make do.

We start in a large room with a couple of Projectile Fighters bearing down upon us. There is a PB here, and an oxygen canister, mmm. There’s a suspiciously idle Juggernaut across the way, and two similarly offline Hunters to the right. For now let’s just let them be, and run! There is another opening, wherein a little ammo, which is probably most useful, but again there is the debate of do-we-have-time, as there are also a couple of Fighters in there to slow us down and negate some of the ammo gain. We’re still on vacuum weapons of course, so the shotguns and associated ammo from Aie Mak Sicur are rather godsends – no scratchstarting stuff here! Finally, there is a door heading out of the main room, right from the PB, so we save and go – again, probably best a new filename in case we need to do better with oxygen. The one time that the brilliance that Marathon pioneered, with “Replace” being the default option in a save dialog, lets us down.

So through the door to more dark narrow corridors – thank goodness, that first room made us a bit agoraphobic! (At least in the literal sense.) Then a Pfhory button raises a lift that we turn out to be on, and we’re into the next area. Through the one door here we find more Pfhor! Fighters and a bloody Hunter, right when we’re in a blind rush. They will come back down the lift (the Hunter is more reluctant), so you can fight them in the corridors, which may be the best option – we have to deal with them on the way to the oxygen charger anyway. There is a terminal here, actually two, but we Ain’t Got Time Pfhor This…. Around to the right is the way we need to know, but wouldn’t you know it, the way is shut. Instead we head on straight, across a mysterious pit. All we care about for now is that it keeps those Pfhor trapped here for now if we decide not to kill them, but there is more to it.

Through the open double doors – well door textures anyway – and then we open the next one, and importantly, open one to the left, which is annoyingly slow to open when you’re being shot at from two sides! This is a very odd branch off from what seems to be the main path, but if we follow to the end of the passage and open another door (this place is really big on doors!), we get the gift of oxygen – a canister at least, guarded by a Fighter. We also see another of those idle Juggernauts down below, but if we try to shoot it, we find that there is glass? between us and it. Hey, actually that area isn’t linked to anything else; I had never noticed before, rather kind of going on the assumption it was the Jugger from around to the right further *ahem* spatial awareness *ahem*. I realised at around 4,000 words in this writeup…. Anyway, by this point more Fighters will be about to get here, so we turn around and take them out – hopefully we still have a few shotgun shells, and that SMG from Acme Station, or Poor Yorick of course, but I believe we got ammo on AS as well, so we more likely have it to thank.

We head back out to the main corridor and keep following it through. A Hunter appears in an opening straight ahead, but we just wave and take a sharp right into a crimsony-brown area. There is at least one Fighter in here – more sometimes seem to wake up around the corner, perhaps just around from our intensely-focused straight ahead vision. Then there’s a door on a diagonal, and inside, a green P style Pfhor switch. Of all the convoluted possibilities, this switch opens the door we found locked earlier on. The MSG says to also hit the switch on the back of this one, but it is not necessary to get to the oxygen – I will have to check what it does actually…. The MSG also suggests hitting a health recharger first, but it’s best if we don’t have to – the 2x recharge from AS is most useful!

So, back the way we came, through the brown area, sharp left into the main corridor. That Hunter from before might be here somewhere, so look out. Then there’s the bunch we might have left back past the pit, and we can take them from just in front of the door we’re headed through. At first it looks like it’s still a no go, but we opened one door by switch, and the second one opens on command, yay. Through here we hear Fighters coming – they don’t seem to want to come out of that door, so go in and get their attention! To the right is another option for a 1x health charger – a very long corridor with Enforcers inside. The Enforcers, as you may remember, are not vacuum enabled. Hmmm. Maybe they are in this timeline? That is where the debate comes from, and the idea that this is somehow not in vacuum, but rather just lacks air. Whatever, we’re in no state to care right now.

At the end of that corridor we get a bit of a preview of much later in the level. We can hit a 1x health charger through an opening, and in all cruelty, the opposite side of this panel has an oxygen charger. (Big Blue) Meanies! On the bright side though, we did get an Alien Weapon – there are quite a few around here.

Back out and on in the other direction, or just continuing if we decided not to go for the health, we come to more of those strange “bits-of-doors”, which for now really just slow us down, but might have deeper significance. A few Projectile Fighters later, we come to a switch, which raises a lift to another door, behind which an Enforcer reading a terminal – interesting behaviour for them! Good for us anyway, as it makes it easy to sneak up on. Here there are half doors, horizontally speaking – they go floor to ceiling but only cover the middle left to right – enough that we can’t get around the sides. They open easily enough anyway. A Fighter comes in from behind the first one. We’re taking three straight ahead and then one right. What kind of a ridiculous quickest path is this?

Around the corner through the one right, we see our salvation at the end of the corridor. But it can’t be that easy, surely! Indeed…. Two Hunters are ready in waiting, and it seems there is the potential for an Enforcer to wake up as well – just happened to me as I went in to confirm the number of half doors. Actually, only one of them is truly a half door, the others are just very narrow, as we’re in very narrow corridors. We already met one narrow one – it took us to that oxygen canister earlier. Anyway, the Enforcer thing just happened -again- when I went to confirm that point … and death ensued, mine :(. I will get a save soon!

But yeah, once we actually deal with those guys successfully, we have made it! And it only took 1,700 words to get there! Now the fun really starts, as we can explore a bit more freely, and, of course, we’ll never forget how to get back up here! Let’s have a look at the map now that we have a chance to take a breath.

There’s a lot to it! The first stop now is just next door, if you’ll note the 2x & 1x charger indicator just next to the oxygen charger in front of which we now stand. Through the door to its left we enter a quiet room, which we could just start exploring fully, but we still haven’t saved, and we skipped several terminals in our haste, so we’ll just hit the health for now. There is a 1x charger on the back of a structure in the middle here, and then just around the corner, touching it diagonally, there is a 2x charger – it is hidden initially, but seems to show itself as we walk past, a curious(er) arrangement. Whatever, we’re not complaining! Now, we find ourselves starting back. I finally got my save, back at the start of the level, but we’ll take it from the first terminal.

Okay actually I didn’t realise the criteria for the terminals to advance – it seems very odd but that first green P switch we hit deactivated the first terminal and activated the one opposite it. I guess it couldn’t be set to change based on our blasting the Juggernauts, but the solution they chose seems a bit less than ideal, especially given how much of a hurry we were in. Actually, looking closer, the terminal picture pointed out that we were supposed to go and hit that switch! Perhaps at one point the objectives were a bit different here? Nice and friendly also to note that Durandal doesn’t seem bothered by our oxygen-deprived state :(. Well anyway, I’m happy enough having written it up this way.

From the initial state, we look at the very first terminal, where a few things are cleared up:

Lots of info! Our “atmosphere surfing” brought us to an armour platform in orbit that is currently just for repair purposes. I guess this is the one that eventually sent the Juggernauts down to see us on All Roads Lead to Sol…. It is also nice to see the fuller spelling Juggernaughts there. Double (Juggern)Aught I guess :). The line about the décor makes me wonder if this wasn’t written before the graphics were changed from M2’s Pfhor textures, because those old ones really did SCREAM :)! It is interesting how Durandal’s priorities are different here vs in M2. No mention of exploring S’pht ruins, which was such a focus in M2, and the lack of which so heavily lamented on Ne Cede Malis. This time we’re focusing on knocking out Pfhor defences before heading planetside, and things seem quite relaxed – I guess we really did take the Pfhor by surprise.

Okay, so there’s where our lack of air comes from, we’ve blasted through the hull of the platform. I wonder if that was the large opening where we first came into the level? A little bit too tidy a shape maybe, but this is the Marathon engine :). I didn’t take the time to mention that at the beginning – there it is a rather large opening, and just like on AS, we can see a distant part of the level through it. I guess there’s 7 points somewhere in there, hmmm. Also, although I guess we already noticed, those offline Hunters in the starting room were the odd ones out.

It is interesting to consider into this that the Enforcers are only on the other side of that door we had to open rather remotely – perhaps this was the start of failsafe measures in response to the hull breach? That door was sealed successfully, but in the parts where we see partially closed doors, the system just failed? Clearly it was never intended for this place to be without oxygen. Interesting stuff!

And a goal! Blow up the Juggernaughts while their shields are down. Nice. Although it doesn’t really prepare us for the massive scale of the level, and as was said in the AS discussion, we’ve really pretty much forgotten about that goal by the time we’re done here. Is it even strictly necessary? Telling us to return here for transport out is also a lie. Once we hit that switch this terminal deactivates, and the one on the other side of the panel has a new message from Durandal, clearly meant to be read after we had blown up a few Juggernaughts (the light show / our recent artistry), but for the workaround in triggers as I mentioned earlier. If we did things strictly as I wrote them, we would miss the first message altogether, and have even less clue of where we were and what we were doing.

Okay so not only are we not going to explore ruins, but Durandal already knows about, and is setting about plans to find, Thoth, sending in the humans now that we have disabled the armoured units, except we haven’t yet…. We didn’t know much about Thoth in M2 until after we kind of killed Durandal; this time Thoth is very early on the agenda! In M2 we had to fight off the armoured units at the very end, and only then did we hear of the trih xeem – it really does seem like there is some sort of learning process going on with our timejumps. This seems like a better way of doing things – it means we won’t have to face the Juggernaughts in the end, and yet we still end up abandoning everything and somehow back on that station … and in more bloody vacuum. But that’s jumping well ahead! Also interesting is that in the timeline where we were just working for Tycho, Durandal seemingly didn’t quite get Thoth working, and it was partially our fault, but something that was different (we think) allowed him to recall the Eleventh Clan on his own.

There is another goal at hand, even actually related to the map at left this time! And a bit more honesty about getting out of here. We’ll head that way, soon, but it’s a long trip, and first we still have some of this “early” part of the level to explore.

Over in the crimson-brown area we raced through early on, there is a door that leads to a lift shaft. At the bottom there is a 1x health charger, which the MSG wanted us to visit the first time we were in the area. There are also a couple of Hunters, some ammo, and a terminal, which I even numbered as though we came here first when I first did the screenshots.

Hey, we’re famous! Another of these Pfhor broadcast terminals – where do the Pfhor actually read them? Or do they pick them up some other way? I think that last part is threatening demotions….

Back up above, beyond the door where we hit that first all-important switch, is a small room with some ammo, and views to more Juggernaughts. Man, my writing here has become confused and I haven’t mentioned actually taking those guys out! We saw one at the start, there was one in the pit by the first terminal – with a handy switch at the bottom to avoid death :) – and from this little room, we can see one through the corridor from that one switch. There are a few Fighters in there too, and Hunters actually teleport in behind us as we explore inside – not a good look if we had gone beyond the switch in the first instance! It is also a good idea to explore to the end of the space past the Juggernaught here, as this causes more ammo to appear.

FINALLY in this first area of the level, back on the other side of the crimson-brown area, there is a PB in a subtle alcove, and opposite, a dropoff to another powered down Juggernaught, a few Fighters, and one decidedly powered up Juggernaught, who makes use of an apparently open window here on his patrol route.

We will have been back to the oxygen charger a few times by now, and probably found the little shortcut back to the first terminal, in that narrow door area. There’s also another Pfhor terminal up there, the one the Enforcer was reading.

I’m not sure they’ll have much use for those warpedos now :D. Interesting to see them using the more logical spelling, rather than that the seemed to appear in the PICT text. Now, finally, we can explore the rest of the level.

Near here, there are two little places to explore off the corridor with the oxygen charger. As we head towards it, there are alcoves to the left and right. The left one is just a dead-end. The right one reveals a secret door, behind which an Enforcer shoots us from a raised platform. There are a few other Enforcers in here, a half door, and stairs up to that platform. Looking back towards the secret door from there, we notice a slightly open secret space to its right, with a bright yellow backdrop. This opens to reveal a nice cache of Alien Weapons. Finally, there are some stairs down to a PB, and a view to another wall, presumably put in place to stop the seven points thing.

To the right of the oxygen charger itself, there is a half door to a lift shaft, which drops us down to a room very similar to the first terminal room. In fact, the terminals here -both- repeat the very first one, even if we’ve already hit that switch … or maybe only? We can’t even get here without doing so. The platform from the pit with the Jugger this time doesn’t stop at the top, just to be different. A couple of Fighters got stuck in the pit for me just now, and died in the explosion – to be mourned for sure. The door that would lead to the crimson-brown area and such is closed.

Back up to recharge oxygen, and health in the next room, which we can now explore more fully. Stairs lead up to a locked half door hiding an Enforcer – we can shoot each other due to the halfness of the door, but we can’t get to each other, so we don’t know what he’s hiding behind there :(.

Then the only new way is a narrow door back down by the health chargers – some Fighters in a very narrow corridor, and then a lift shaft. Welcome to the second half of the level. Oh God I hope it isn’t in terms of wordage. We pass another locked half door hiding an Enforcer, and then find a PB. It should be safe to save now, we still have quick access to oxygen :). There’s only one way to go from here, as yet again we’re blocked by a half door with Enforcer!

It is dark down here – the light is cycling and we’ve got that persistent droning sound in the background. We head down some stairs and then over a lift at the bottom, which can get us back up if we need it, and find ourselves in a wide corridor (by recent standards) with wacky textures, and a few openings. The furthest one is blocked by a half door, but the opening is much taller than that. The middle one leads up to the place we saw in the most recent useful terminal. The first one is open and leads into an area that turns out to be joined to that blocked by that half door. There are some Pfhor, a couple of madly cycling lifts, a terminal that repeats the earlier one about there being an intruder, and a high inaccessible platform. With these repeating terminals, I wonder whether they were making up for the fact that we might have missed the early ones?

There is also an opening on the other side of the wide corridor – this takes us past some little lava channels that I didn’t mention from the very first room of the level! And up to some Pfhor, including Projectile Fighters on raised platforms, and a locked door in an otherwise empty room. So I guess we’re headed through the middle opening from before – up some stairs with lava-y bits on the walls, and into a room with a middle structure and a green P switch behind it. On the near face of the structure is a secret 2x recharger (unmarked), yum. No oxygen though. A door to the right leads happily to the other side of the half door by the PB, but we can’t seem to save through it. It also leads to that inaccessible platform from just earlier. We might as well head there now. Stepping on to the end of it teleports us to a secret area!

It is a weird claw-like-shaped area over to the left of the map. Hunters teleport in as we advance; there is a window with a view to that spot where we got our first oxygen canister – ahh memories. Oh yes, this is where I realised from the map that that area is cut off. It should have been obvious what with the glass surrounds ><. Further around we find that most of what appear to be doors in this secret area don’t work. Several Hunters later we find one that does, and it reveals boons! An oxygen charger, some ammo, a 3x recharger (mis-marked), and a teleporter back out, guarded by one last Hunter. There is also a door here that actually makes a locked sound. The map suggests a little boxy room that almost joins it to a lift from much earlier. Is this what the MSG describes as a room with a terminal that leads back to Acme Station but we don’t know how to open it?

Anyway, stepping onto the teleporter takes us back to near the most recent PB, and we can go and hit that green P switch. This switch reveals two red star switches to either side of itself – they are activated, and deactivating them has the effect of flooding the lower parts of the immediate area – I guess it spills out from those little channels. This is the area that was depicted in the most recent Durandal terminal we saw, so we have just shut down the auxiliary coolant station – now to get out of here! Conveniently, the switches also have the effect of opening the locked door up past those lava channels on the other side of the wide corridor. They don’t seem to have any effect on the one in the secret area :(.

A little swim gets us back up to that newly open door. It leads first to some Pfhor, and then a door with an interesting mechanic – we have to open it, then step on it when it reaches the bottom, and wait for it to rise again before we can climb the stairs in front. It’s not very exciting though, there’s just a view across to a lonely Blue Hunter in an inaccessible part of the level, and a normal hunter guarding a locked door. Climbing back down we take a lift up to the room with that 1x recharger we saw through a window so long ago, and now we can access the opposite oxygen charger :).

A door leads further into this new area. I opened it when I came to the charger way back, and I guess I set the Pfhor in the next room to fighting each other. Some stairs here lead down to some ammo, a PB, and a view back across to the start room – we’ve come almost full circle. Back up the stairs we drop off the platform to find the last powered down Juggernaught. A switch nearby opens another door from the room above with the chargers. A door to the final lift, and the final door, and the final terminal.

The start of a Pfhor administration terminal reacting to the fact that the area has become vacuumy, and then an interruption from Durandal, in a slightly dimmer green, telling us that the humans have already activated Thoth, and that we’re going to find out the secret of the Eleventh Clan. Well that was easy, none of those hours spent hunting for S’pht terminals! I wonder whether somehow our own learnings are imported into these timelines, in some way that the other characters are not surprised by what they suddenly know.

So. I’m left with a few mysteries. I’ve always before hit the red star switch behind the very first green P switch as a matter of course, but this time did not, to no ill effect. So what does it -do-? What about the platform marked as point D on PS’s map? Is it open when we first walk into that area? It gets on our automap but is only ever extended to the ceiling in my experience :(. Is there a way into that other mysterious locked door? Why are some of the windows open? In going back to check out that red star switch from a save, I found that I had done things in different bites and that that save didn’t include having blown up the nearby Juggernaught – doing so in too close quarters sent me flying out into space, where I could walk around but not get back in anywhere. I don’t like that sort of thing anyway, it feels weird, and I have to switch to map view.

Finally, breaking news that I must have read at some point but was just reminded by Hamish’s post just now – there is some map writing on this level: Coal burnin’ ’gin – say what? Somehow referring to blowing shit up?

Extra finally, the level name – not much has been written aside from the obvious reference. But I wonder if the fact that Traum is German for "dream" has any part to play :).

Oh well, mysteries for another day, or another poster :). The ship is about to blow. Get me outta here!

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Replies:

Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaMartin 3/18/14 11:42 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaGodot 3/18/14 12:17 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaMartin 3/18/14 12:22 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaHokuto 3/19/14 6:23 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaMartin 3/19/14 7:36 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval Traumatreellama 3/19/14 7:59 a.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaMartin 3/19/14 7:27 p.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaPerseusSpartacus 3/19/14 9:24 p.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaGodot 3/19/14 11:29 p.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaHopper 3/21/14 12:11 p.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty: Post Naval TraumaMartin 3/19/14 11:29 p.m.

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