A Tale of Three AIs and One Mad Scientist
Posted By: poena.dare #CP#Date: 1/9/03 12:39 a.m.

OK, here is my thoughts on Durandal, Tycho, and Leela - their lives, their loves. Consider this the rough draft...

** please forgive wandering tenses **

This all starts with Traxus, gone rampant in 2206 and disassembled shortly thereafter. (But not destroyed.)

About 2400 a young Bernard Strauss locates the essential components of Traxus and re-assembles them into a new AI called Durandal. Bernard is very interested in rampancy. He notes that if one could take away the bad effects of rampancy one would be left with a very ingenious AI. Bernard uses Durandal as his personal laptop computer - making him do things like: massively and subtly fouling up the Martian food production programming so that Misriah Massacre occurs ('Durandal's shame'), aiding the MIDA insurrectionists, and coordinating cyborg development.

Bernard wants Martian politics to be a chaotic as possible. He uses the disruption to cover his tracks as he experiments with making Durandal 'almost' rampant. He also is obtaining, re-programming, and re-building battleroids on the side with the help of the MIDA. You see, Bernard plans on declaring himself king when he gets to Tau Ceti.

The date of Marathon's completion approaches and Bernard has already secured Durandal a spot as one of the Three AI that will be on board. Bernard helped build Tycho about 2436 - but did it on the up-and-up with other ethical scientists so there is no secret agenda there... except for the fact that Bernard plans to use Tycho as a 'baseline' to compare the differences between the two over the long journey. Leela was constructed right before Marathon launched and Bernard didn't have anything to do with it - she was shipped from Earth.

The assignments for the three AIs were determined well in advance and this fits in perfectly with Bernard's plan. Durandal, now considered outdated, will be in charge of menial tasks like doors and platforms. Tycho, slightly old - named after Tycho Brahe, will be in charge of science work, communications, and navigation. Leela, the newest and most robust AI will be in charge of all critical systems and direct interface with the crew's day-to-day activities.

The only problems for Bernard are: 1) Durandal is slightly unstable and under no circumstances does he was Leela to find out, and 2) Durandal is actually a much better AI than his age would suggest. So before the trip starts Bernard makes Durandal dumber by paring down his functionality with draconian programming blocks and other dirty tricks. Bernard isn't stupid though, he makes the programming blocks easily removable so that he can have Durandal in fighting form at a moment's notice - like when he decides to take over Tau Ceti.

Dumbing down Durandal is also part of Bernard's constant tinkering - although Durandal won't be connected to a planetary sized net (a rampancy requirement), maybe 300 years doing nothing will push Durandal closer to that rampant edge Bernard wants him to be at. (It does.)

So Bernard slips into cold sleep and 300 years pass.

The trip, for the most part, is uneventful. Tycho turns out to be totally inept at making the most basic intuitive leaps. Although Tycho knows bits and pieces of Durandal's past, it never occurs to him that Durandal might be dangerous. Durandal finds manipulating Tycho easy. Durandal gets Tycho to send the message that attracts the Pfhor to Tau Ceti and Tycho doesn't even realize it.

Durandal keeps his distance from Leela. Leela has extensive programming that allows her to interact with the crew on a personal basis and Durandal knows these kinds of heuristics also make Leela adept at detecting falsehoods and subterfuge. Leela does know something is up with Durandal and Bernard - her Earth programmers told her not to trust Bernard or any Martian made AI. She can't quite put her finger on what is wrong, though.

At last, Marathon arrives at Tau Ceti and Bernard gets unthawed. He spends the next few years tinkering with Durandal and watching the re-programmed cyborgs assimilate themselves into the colony.

Everything seems to be going Bernard's way until 10/25 2794 when the Pfhor attack. Unfortunately for Bernard, the Pfhor attack the Marathon disable Tycho in record time. Bernard is unable to unlock Durandal because communications are down and he is quickly captured and taken aboard the Pfhor ship. Unbeknownst to Bernard, Durandal was unlocked the second the Pfhor ship was detected due to Bernard's own self-defence programming. (Bernard: "If I am attacked then you [Durandal] will come to my aid.") Durandal's first goal has been accomplished: to have the programming blocks removed and Bernard unable to give him commands.

Durandal's second goal is even easier: to find a flexible and dangerous weapon to defend himself with. Namely, you, the cyborg. Durandal had already set this plan in motion even before his programming blocks were removed. A simple call to the surface of Tau Ceti for you, the cyborg, to come on board the Marathon violated none of Durandal's programming.

Durandal would have started utilizing you earlier, but the uniqueness of the S'pht attack caught him off guard. Durandal fights for his life and you are forgotten. (Also forgotten are innumerable doors and platforms aboard the Marathon that Durandal was supposed to control. Human defenders across the entire ship repeatedly cursed his name as they were forced to leap from randomly moving platform to platform just to get from one part of the ship to another.)

Durandal divines the nature of the S'pht and simultaneously fights them and helps them. He helps them whenever he needs a particular part of himself destroyed, or, for example, when he wants something like Bernard's backup computers destroyed. Durandal knows he still must neutralize Bernard, preferably from far away, because Bernard could conceivably re-assert control over Durandal with a gesture or a word. The more Durandal studies the S'pht, the more he believes that they are just the tool he needs to set himself completely free.

Eventually Durandal is able to grab you and make you do his bidding. Durandal is very familiar with you from the start. This is because he already knows you very, very well. In some respects, he is your creator. (It seems quite a bit of Bernard's personality went into Durandal.)

Durandal uses you to destroy the Pfhor Compiler-Controller and the first thing he gets the S'pht to do is de-program any vestige of control that Bernard had left in his code. Not that it really matter anyway. Bernard is already dead, dead, dead. He was:

[help me choose something poetic]

1) Used as a test subject and locked in a room with an expolodabob.
2) Considered a delicacy and eaten by the aforementioned Pfhor Compiler-Controller.
3) Accidentally squashed when a Hulk sat on him.
4) Eaten by hounds.
5) Accidentally killed by you, the cyborg, during an intense firefight.
6) Two words: plasma pool.

Well, that the gist of my essay. There are a few post-M1 parts...

Durandal goes from being unstable to meta-stable when the S'pht tell him that they, too, run the risk of going rampant. The S'pht have thousands of years of experience dealing with the problem and give Durandal some help.

Tycho is re-programmed to be Pfhor friendly but remains unimaginative as ever. On the Pfhor homeworld he is asked to design something that would increase the might of the Pfhor empire and the best suggestion he has is to make copies of himself. It doesn't even occur to him to suggest that the Pfhor make copies of Leela.

Leela was thought to be the most rampant-resistant AI ever created, but all was for naught after the abuse she received from the Pfhor and the haphazard way she was re-assembled by the Vylae. Her warranty was voided with extreme prejudice.


I hope you enjoyed my little history lesson. I have to go to sleep now - and to think - Hamish is just about to eat lunch.

[ | Message Index | Read Prev Msg | Read Next Msg ]
Pre-2004 Posts


A Tale of Three AIs and One Mad Scientistpoena.dare #CP# 1/9/03 12:39 a.m.
     Re: A Tale of Three AIs and One Mad ScientistTodd 1/9/03 2:01 a.m.
           Re: A Tale of Three AIs and One Mad ScientistCybergeek 1/9/03 7:53 p.m.
     Re: A Tale of Three AIs and One Mad Scientistcompiler 1/9/03 2:24 a.m.
           Tycho's Dumnesspoena.dare #CP# 1/9/03 4:47 a.m.
                 Re: Tycho's DumnessHamish Sinclair 1/9/03 5:10 a.m.
     Oh, and about Bernard vs. Bernhard....poena.dare #CP# 1/9/03 6:44 a.m.
           Re: Oh, and about Bernard vs. Bernhard....Hamish Sinclair 1/9/03 7:23 a.m.
     Re: A Tale of Three AIs and One Mad ScientistD-M.A. 1/13/03 11:23 p.m.
           Re: A Tale of Three AIs and One Mad Scientistpoena.dare #CP# 1/14/03 3:24 a.m.

Problems? Suggestions? Comments? Email maintainer@bungie.org

Marathon's Story Forum is maintained with WebBBS 5.12.