What was The Seventh HoTBob Competition?

Question of the week #25:

Riddle me this?
This is not a coat rack.
Welcome but access denied.
Could be a seven but not right.
What is being described here?

And the winner is:

Nobody
And the answer is:

Hangar 7A (Port) on "Arrival".

Let me explain.

This is not a coat rack.
But it is a Hangar. ;-)

Welcome but access denied.
Welcome to the Marathon the first words spoken to us by Leela. Unfortunately Hangar 7A (Port) is off limits. The hangar door is locked. Access denied. How many people remember trying to hack their way into this on the demo way back in Nov '94?

Could be a seven but not right.
Yes ANOTHER seven. Not content with assigning "Arrival" (Level 0) with soundtrack 7 Bungie also called the hangar where we arrive "Hangar 7A (Port)". Check the map view when you play this level. Hangar 7A is not right because it is on the port (left) side of the ship. This is confirmed by the Manual text

You are currently floating towards the midsection of the Marathon - near the docking bay section's port side.
(Manual page 4)


Question of the week #24:

If it had been nine more it would have been more like home. What would have been more like home and why?

And the winner is:

Jim Mitchell <BobJam@aol.com>
And the answer is:

Lh'owon.

Jim writes:

"Okay, ... the Earth has about 21% oxygen in the atmosphere and since the "Abandoned Homeworld..." term on "Where the Twist Flops" says Lh'owon has a 12% oxygen atmosphere I saw that there was a 9% difference. If Lh'owon had 9% more oxygen it would be more like home. Home, Sweet home."

Yes, spot on. Lh'owon is described as a having a 12% oxygen atmosphere.
ABANDONED HOMEWORLD FOR SALE, CHEAP!!!
Custom desert-marsh conversion in galactic
core, 12% oxygen atm., great weather,
friendly native life (missing one moon).
Great fix-er-upper. Must sell, alien
invasion imminent. $3995 or best offer.

<Where the Twist Flops (Terminal 2)>

The Earth's atmosphere contains an average of 20.95% oxygen (approximately 21%) at sea level. If Lh'owon had 9% more oxygen it would have been more like home. No wonder the Bobs didn't run around so much in Marathon 2.

Who said this wasn't an educational page? ;-)

Congratulations to Jim who gets his seventh HoTBob and wins the The Seventh HoTBob Competition. Many thanks to everyone who took part in the competition over the last 6 months. It was fun and I hope enlightening. Remember those Tips folks.


Question of the week #23:

Riddle me this?
Time is limited.
I have no words but I must read.
Four switches and a choice.
Choose wrong, switch none,
and I might fail.
What level is this and why?

And the winner is:

Nobody
And the answer is:

Ain't Got Time Pfhor This...

Let me explain.

Time is limited.
So you Ain't Got Time Pfhor This... One of the strangest of levels. Indeed you might ask yourself "What am I doing here... I Ain't Got Time Pfhor This... I have a Colony Ship to save!".

I have no words but I must read.
There are no terminals on this level, so there are no words to read. But words would have been useful. What is your objective on this level? You've just killed the Alien Leader so why has Durandal teleported you here? What are the strange egg things? What is the importance of the single egg in the room with the moving platform? Why do ranks of Wasps hover above but not attack? Shades of the hive room (Sub-Level 3) in Aliens perhaps?

Four switches and a choice.
There are exactly four switches on this level and about half way though this level you will come to a fork in a corridor. Left or right? You must make a choice. But you have no guidance.

Choose wrong, switch none,
and I might fail.

If you choose to go left and then not activate any of the switches in the large room with the single egg you can still use the teleporter to the final room but Durandal will not teleport you out. Indeed it is impossible to return to complete this level as the doors to the room are still locked - you never opened them. Unknowingly you have failed and must restart the game.

I have no mouth and I must scream. ;-)


Question of the week #22:

What was not being saved on "Bigger Guns Nearby?"

And the winner is:

Don Macron <dmacron@sas.upenn.edu>
And the answer is:

Fifty-SEVEN per cent of the base cost of a single basic inner bulkhead door.

Don writes:

"What is *not* saved is the additional cost of using the tertiary/quarternary door structure, since this type of door definitely appears on this level."

Yes indeed. The Marathon Internal Engineering Documents section 1-c appendix H displayed on the second terminal of "Bigger Guns Nearby" tells us about the five basic door designs used on the Marathon. Concerning the Tertiary and Quaternary doors the document states:

However, due to the expense involved with adding thermal and
visual spectrum sensors to the Tertiary and Quaternary door
groups, these doors will be minimally used.  The expected
savings of not using this extra sensory input is estimated to
be fifty-seven percent of the base cost of the basic inner
bulkhead door.
Bigger Guns Nearby (Terminal 2)
So this explains the lack of doors on the Marathon. The UESC decided to cut costs and use Tertiary and Quaternary doors minimally. However, "Bigger Guns Nearby" has ONE door. Indeed it is one of the few levels where there is only ONE door. And a strange door it is too. Way up high serving no real purpose. But that's the UESC for you. Or maybe Durandal messed with the Plans? ;-) Nevertheless by using this type of door fifty-seven percent of the base cost of a single basic inner bulkhead door was not saved.

Tricky! But that's Tip#10 or is it #13?... I can't exactly remember. ;-)

Well done to Don and thanks to all those who responded.


Question of the week #21:

On "Never Burn Money" we encountered the first of many 'system errors'. Where did we encounter the third?

And the winner is:

Brian Harriss <brianh@gcctech.com>
And the answer is:

When we pick up an alien weapon.

Brian writes:

"The third time is the first time you equip yourself with an enforcer's weapon. Your weapon display usually does a good job informing you what weapon you are currently using, how much ammo is left, etc. However, it doesn't recognize the Pfhor weapon, so it just displays some static and 'System Error'."

Exactly. The first two 'system errors' occur on "Never Burn Money". On the Terminal 1 there is the

AMS Transport System Error

and on Terminal 4 we have a

[system error #25 at_Jackson]

The third 'system error' appears whenever you grab an alien weapon. The first opportunity to pick one up is on "Pfhor Your Eyes Only...". Your Cyberhead helmet will display the following.

Yes folks Tip #13 again - read it and weep!

How many oldies out there know where system error 0xfded comes from?

Well done to Brian and thanks to all those who responded. Remember those Tips folks. ;-)


Question of the week #20:

Conspiracies. They're Everywhere!
We have the conspiracy of the ten.
There may be a conspiracy of the sevens.
But what was the conspiracy of the threes?

And the winner is:

Ben Elgin <belgin@osiris.ac.hmc.edu>
And the answer is:

The splintering of Battle Group Three by the Pfhor nobility.

Ben writes:

"The only reference to "threes" in Bungie text is when Thoth refers to the Pfhor as "the threes". That would seem to imply that we're talking about a conspiracy among the Pfhor...

"The only remotely conspiratorial episode I can remember in Pfhor history was when petty bureaucrats engineered the fall from power of Battle Group Three (see Marathon II manual text)..."

Yes indeed. As Ben correctly points out the Marathon 2 Manual says"

In its glory years, Battle Group Three had been known throughout the Empire; decorated in every battle anyone remembered from the Wars of Imperium, for turning back the loyalists at Tahrm's Gap and holding the approaches to the Pfhor homeworld itself during the slave revolt of the Nakh.

Undefeated in battle, it was finally politics that splintered Battle Group Three; by sending a few ships to suppress subservient races here, a few more to garrison the fringes of Pfhor influence there, the nobility had slowly broken the power of the old Navy.

A few ships here, a few there. A nice little conspiracy they had going. Of course we are talking "politics".

Well done to Ben and thanks to all those who responded.


Question of the week #19:

In Counterattack Leela had you insert three control circuits into Defense Control terminals to reactivate the Marathon's automated defenses, then she had you activate three control switches to block Durandal's access to a vital section of the ship, finally she had you manually reset four control switches of the dish array on G-4 Sunbathing Landing Station in order to send a light-speed warning message to Sol. In all how many circuits and switches was it really necessary to install, activate or reset?

And the winner is:

Eylon Caspi <eylon@glue.umd.edu>
And the answer is:

Three. Yes! that number again. Is this a conspiracy or what?

Eylon writes:

Although Leela asks you to insert 3 circuits on "Defend THIS!", activate 3 switches on "Couch Fishing", and reset 4 switches on "G4 Sunbathing", it suffices to complete only one circuit/switch on each of these levels! Well I'll be hornswoggled. Was Leela having us run around just for excercise?

You ask for the grand total... Of Leela's 10 requests (3+3+4 circuits/switches), you only need to complete 3 (oh that magic number 3).

Defend THIS!
1 circuit inserted at the middle room of the 3 final rooms with circuit panels

Couch Fishing
1 switch from Leela's 3 - the one she labeled "second" on her map

G4 Sunbathing
1 switch of the 4 at the radar array - the first one to the player's left (i.e. northernmost of the 4 on the map).

Yes folks three switches out of the ten.

As David Twist <dtwist@garlic.com&> pointed out in his answer:

"*7* of the switches were fakes!!! Hmmm... Durandal must have been up to something. ;).."

Yes, the mind boggles. What else did he get up to?

Well done to Eylon and hard luck to all those who succumbed to Sudden Death.

Tip #1 for devotees of the Marathon Story. Don't believe everything you read.


Question of the week #18:

Was Bernhard Strauss one of the seven?

And the winner is:

Jim Mitchell <BobJam@aol.com> AGAIN
And the answer is:

More than one as it turns out, much to my embarrassment. But here is my original answer.

Depending on how you play the answer is either "No" or "Who cares, Durandal didn't."

Jim sent in the first part of the answer early last Tuesday. Jim wrote:

"On "No artificial colors" you were supposed to find Bernhard Strauss among some captives the Pfhor have. In the room with the captives you find out that there are in fact 7 of them. Later when returning to the original computer you find out that he was not one of the seven captives."

But it wasn't enough. I wanted more as a number of you who also got this far found out. Six days later and with over fifty attempts to answer the second part Jim finally struck gold. Jim wrote:

"If we open the door next to the 3x refill we find seven captives that Bernhard wasn't one of. But, if we don't open the door and still finish the level we find that Durandal doesn't care. We can leave all seven captives in the room for the pfhor and leave but will still get the "Bernhard Strauss wasn't one of the captives" message."

Yes. Durandal didn't care. Let me explain further.

On "No Artificial Colors" after returning from your first trip to the Pfhor ship Durandal says:


I will be sending you back there shortly, but first you must
do something for me and get some more ammunition at the same
time.

I want you to find a friend of mine.  I must know if he is
dead.  His name is Bernhard Strauss. He has been captured, so
you must rescue him.  If he dies, you will be held responsible
by me.
No Artificial Colors (Terminal 1: 'Unfinished' message)
Thus you have two objectives on this level rescue Bernhard Strauss who is being held captive and get some more ammunition. As you progress through the level you'll find a room with seven (yes SEVEN) Bobs (one's a Simulacrum however so watch out) locked inside. If you release these and proceed to the end of the level Durandal will say.

Bernhard Strauss was not among any of the captives that you
found.  That is unfortunate.  However, my S'pht report that
two shuttles filled with humans have left for the Alien ship.
Those humans are to be enslaved.
No Artificial Colors (Terminal 1: 'Success' message)
So Bernhard Strauss was not one of the seven held in the room.

But now for the interesting part. If you do the unexpected (Yes folks Tip #13 read it and weep) and make no effort to release the captives in the room Durandal will still tell you that Bernhard Strauss was not among any of the captives that you found. Of course this is true. No lies from Durandal here! The only captives you found were those at the beginning of this level. But why didn't Durandal tell you to go back and search the room you passed? Either he was unaware of its existence (unlikely as he was watching everything) or he didn't care whether you found Bernhard or not. And neither did you if you didn't open the door.

Of course this helps to explain Durandal's apparent lack of interest in Bernhard Strauss later on. Remember how he sends you back to the Pfhor ship to rescue Strauss.


I am sending you back to the Alien ship to try and rescue
Bernhard, but while you're there, kill everything you see and
gather as much visual information as possible.
No Artificial Colors (Terminal 1: 'Success' message)
Not a mention of Strauss on your return to the Marathon. Like he never existed. So much for Durandal's so-called friend.

And what's all this about "try and rescue Bernhard" not like Durandal at all. As Brian Harriss <brianh@gcctech.com> pointed out maybe he should take a leaf out of Yoda's book.

LUKE: All right, I'll give it a try.
YODA: No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.
And now for those embarrassing alternative answers.

Avi Selk <avi@cyberspc.mb.ca> rightly pointed out that we would have known that Bernhard Strauss, the Marathon's first science director, was not one of the seven science personnel on either "The Rose" or "Bob-B-Q" if we had let them all die because Durandal told us later on to go and rescue him.

Nice ones Avi. You'd have got that HoTBob if my original answer had not been answered.

Tip #12 for devotees of the Marathon Story. The next tip is very important.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank everybody who responded to this week's question. I put alot of people through the wringer with this one. I'm even exhausted having read all the answers. It was fun. And well done to Jim who get's his sixth HoTBob, one more and he wins the The Seventh HoTBob Competition. But remember folks it's not over until the Fat Lady Sings! [is this PC?].


Question of the week #17:

What was, for you [the player], difficult to read at first, then unreadable, but later easily read?

And the winner is:

Jim Mitchell <BobJam@aol.com>
And the answer is:

Leela's message on "Blaspheme Quarantine".

Jim writes:

"Leela's term on "Blaspheme Quarantine" is difficult to read at first because the door to it is closed and you have to go through the entire stage to get it open. Then if you want to read Durandals song you have to go through the stage again but when you get back the door is closed rendering the message unreadable. Come back for a third time (with everything dead) and you will find the message easily read."

Damn ;-)
There goes another one I thought I had in the bag. Jim is correct. Let me explain further.

On "Blaspheme Quarantine" you are kidnapped by Durandal. Leela has access to only one terminal on this level. To get to it you must work your way through the level. Thus Leela's message was difficult to read at first because you had to clear the level of aliens and solve Durandal's little puzzle.

If you do the unexpected and return to Quarantine Storage you'll get to read Durandal's second (secret) message which tells you about the hidden stash of ammunition. You'll also get to read his little tune. When you return to the final room however you'll find that the door is closed and Leela's message is now unreadable.

To read it you must go all the way round the level a third time to get the door to open. Of course by this stage you'll have killed all (or most) of the aliens and Durandal's puzzle is no longer a big deal so Leela's message is easily read on this occasion.

Don't you just love them ;-)

I won't tell you what Leela says when you go round this level 7 times =)

Thanks again to all those who responded. You've just got to remember those Tips.

Tip #17 for devotees of the Marathon Story. Tip #14 is very important.


Question of the week #16:

Reading all the terminal messages in Marathon and Marathon 2 while you play can be difficult. Indeed some can only be read using a cheater program or a map editor. But one terminal message is impossible to read even with a cheater or a map editor. What is the message?

And the winner is:

Jim Mitchell <BobJam@aol.com>
And the answer is:

Leela's failure message on "Cool Fusion". Level 7 no less! Should have seen that one coming, eh? ;-)

Jim writes:

"It's the Fusion Pistol Message!"

"I played "Cool Fusion and didn't get the fusion pistol but when I got to the end terminal I didn't get a failure message! It is impossible to get the fusion pistol "Failure" message!"

Yes. If you make no attempt to obtain the Zeus Class Fusion Pistol on this level Leela will not tell you to go back and get it.

***MESSAGE FROM LEELA***

You have not retrieved the Fusion Gun.
Return when you have done so.

***END OF MESSAGE***

How strange you might say. Wasn't Leela supposed to be acting in our best interests? Never fear she had a Fusion Pistol waiting for us on the next level.

You can verify that this message is never displayed in a number of ways. Use a cheater on a saved game from the previous level to give yourself an assault rifle. Use a map editor to relocate your player position on the "Cool Fusion" map. The real way to do it however is to use Tim Seufert's Marathon Vidmaster Challenge Physics Model. This little gem of a Physics Model was created by Tim in response to Jason Jones's Marathon Vidmaster Challenge. Way back in late January '95 Jason wrote:

"I challenge anyone who thinks they rule at Marathon to complete all of the game's levels on Total Carnage starting with only the pistol and x1 health (via Command-Option Begin Game). Upload your replays!"

Cool Fusion was to prove impossible to complete using Vidmaster rules because of the need to trigger unreachable switches. Tim's Physics Model allows the .44 to toggle switches. Plain and simple nothing more. But have you got what it takes to complete Cool Fusion Vidmaster style WITHOUT the Fusion Pistol in order to verify this week's answer?

Impossible I hear you say - there are no other accessable weapons! To quote Jason's own words from Jan '95:

"...the most accessable weapon of all is your own fists, you must learn to lay aside your weapons of steel and use your flesh."

Of course you'll need more than a skillful fist to get through this level on Total Carnage without a Fusion Pistol. A bit of luck perhaps but more importantly an intelligent approach to this level. If you think you've got what it takes film it and I'll put the first complete film I receive on the Marathon's Story site (no boring hiding behind a door films please... vidmasters need only apply). Remember Vidmaster rules and NO Fusion Pistol. When you reach the final terminal wait five seconds before quiting. Unfortunately you won't be able to film the terminal message so tell us what it looks like ;-)

And don't forget - the map says "poenas dare" and you will... trust me.

Finally I want to thank all those who sent in answers. I'm sorry but the Lost Network Packets don't count because they never did make it into Marathon 2. It was not the "non-existent terminal" in the Marathon 2 demo as the Questions of Week only apply to the full games. It also wasn't the unreadable terminal pic text. You CAN read terminals under lava by hitting the tab key repeatedly. There is NO message in the Big House. Lastly a nice answer from Craig Stanton <Craig@maris.com> who said that we never did get to see the original message left by Robert Blake. Ah but we did get to see Durandal's version of it.

So Jim Mitchell gets his fourth HoTBob and is well on his way to his seventh. Who can stop him?

Tip #14 for devotees of the Marathon Story. Remember Tip #13.

Postscript:
Shortly after issuing the Story page's 1st Marathon Vidmaster Challenge the following film poenas dare: cool fusion without the fusion was sent in. I won't tell you who beat the challenge you can find out for yourself when you download the film. There is a trick for beating the "Pit from Hell" but you won't find it in any Spoiler Guide. True Vidmasters know the secret. Watch and learn. Please remember that in order to see this film you will need Tim Seufert's Marathon Vidmaster Challenge Physics Model which is included in the download. Enjoy.


Question of the week #15:

Durandal once said "Try talking to Leela. She always was a nice AI." But was she? Where did Leela choose to kill a large number of the Marathon's crew with your help?

And the winner is:

Brian Harriss <brianh@gcctech.com>
And the answer is:

On "Smells Like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken!".

Brian writes:

"On the first terminal on "Smells Like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken!", Leela writes:

"Time is limited. There is a large group of heavily armed Pfhor approaching the section of the ship where I have transported you. Their only logical destination is the sensitive engineering areas in the aft section of the ship.

As we are not yet in a position to halt their advance by force, I have decided to depressurize a large area in their path in order to slow their progress. Unfortunately, I cannot remotely seal the airlocks and isolate the zone I wish to depressurize from the nearby living quarters. Exposing this area to space without first isolating it would kill hundreds of human crew.

You will have to go and close the doors."

Leela says doors, implying that there is more than one door you have to close to seal off the area (and there are two doors you can close to seal off this level.) However, if you only close one of the doors (the right-hand one) and then go to the exit terminal, Leela presents you with the 'Success' message!

"Good work. I will begin the decompression process in a moment."

This means she's going to decompress the area with one of the doors still open, exposing a large number of the Marathon's crew to hard vacuum! All with your help, since you were too lazy to go and close the other door ;) "

Yep!... and we thought Durandal was bad!

Well done Brian. I thought I had this one in the bag. You get yourself a HoTBob. Many thanks to all those who responded.

Tip #13 for devotees of the Marathon Story. Marathon is first and foremost a game not a book. If you simply read the text of the terminals you will lose the spirit of the story. Play each level at least SEVEN times. Expect the unexpected and do the unexpected. Read and Endure.


Question of the week #14:

The numbers ten, three, and seven have a particular significance in the Marathon Story but together they spelt trouble. Why?

And the winner is:

Jim Mitchell <Asolo1@aol.com>
And the answer is:

1037 potential Simulacrum types. The resulting walking bombs were in every way indistinguishable from real humans.

Jim writes:

"A 10, 3, and a 7, huh? The Pfhor built simulacrums were built with 61 unique facial models and 17 body types according to the "We're Everywhere" terminal. That left you with, lets see, 61*17=1037. WHAT!!!! That's a 10 followed by a 3 and a 7! T-R-O-U-B-L-E!"

So Jim gets himself another HoTBob and pulls away from Eylon in the race for Seven HoTBobs.


Question of the week #13:

The Number 13 is unlucky for some but why was it particularly unlucky for us [the player]?

And the winner is:

Nobody - yet again :-)
And the answer is:

There are a number of occasions in the Story where the Number 13 is unlucky for us [the player].

Level 13 - Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap

Most people got this one, indeed I gave this one away in the What's in a Name? section. The most frustrating of levels. Unlucky for you if you didn't get the seven pillars the right height. Strictly speaking "Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap" is the 14th level in Marathon but Bungie numbered their levels starting from zero.

The 13th minute and all hell is about to break loose.

At the beginning of "If I Had a Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay" Durandal says:

"The first Pfhor dropship landed twelve minutes ago, and their troopers have already penetrated the hull."
So this is the 13th minute... welcome to the party.

Interesting to note that if Bungie had adopted the same level numbering system as in Marathon this would have been level 13. A number of people pointed out that "Six Thousand Feet Under" (Level 13) was unlucky because it was difficult to find your way off. True, but nothing like "Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap".

If you want to see the designer of this level (GK) take on his own map - Vidmaster style - then check out this film.

13 ships in Battle Group Seven

On "The Hard Stuff Rules..." Durandal says:

Battle Group Seven arrived sooner than I expected. The Pfhor fleet consists of seven corvettes similar to my own, four destroyers, a battleship, and an assault carrier.
Unlucky for us that Durandal couldn't destroy them all.

Special mention to Jim Mitchell <Asolo1@aol.com> who pointed out that the Marathon (Demios) was approximatey 13km in diameter. Unlucky for us as we had to run all over it. Unlucky for me as I didn't have this one on my list. Unlucky for him that he missed one of the above answers. Nevertheless thanks Jim :-)

And thanks to all those who responded. Better luck next time. Another two in a row for me... as Thoth would have said - "circumstances are cyclical"


Question of the week #12:

What did Leela imply was possible yet strangely we could never remember how to do it?

And the winner is:

Nobody
And the answer is:

Firing the Assault Rifle on a setting other than fully automatic which would have made it more accurate.

Yes, it's true!

On "Bigger Guns Nearby" Leela says:

There is an M-75 Assault
Rifle/Grenade Launcher and
ammunition at this location. 
When firing on the fully
automatic setting this weapon
is highly inaccurate, but the
grenades hit hard and it's the
best we can do right now.
The fact that Leela says "When firing on the fully automatic setting" implies that there is another (semi-automatic?) or other settings which would have made the Assault Rifle more accurate. As a Security Officer on board the UESC Marathon you would have been familiar with all the weapons listed in the Defence Planning Commission Report 1359-F - Militia Supply Supplement.

Strange how you could never remember to fire the Assault Rifle on any other setting other than fully automatic. Never Burn Money.

Many thanks to all those who sent in answers. I guess it's another HoTBob Award for me :-)


Question of the week #11:

What disappeared at a rate of one every five seconds?

And the winner is:

Jim Mitchell <Asolo1@aol.com>
And the answer is:

The 24 ships of Pfhor Battle Group Three orbiting Lh'owon were destroyed by Durandal in two minutes, an average of one ship every five seconds.

Jim writes:

"Pfhor Battle Group three had 1 battleship 20 auxiliary craft and 3 smaller destroyers. If it took Durandal 5 seconds to destroy each ship it would come out to 2 minutes to destroy the ships. In the manual it says that after 2 minutes only one ship remained in the debris above Lhowon, Durandals. So it was the wrecked Pfhor ships that disapeared every five seconds."

Jim Mitchell strikes again. Can he make it three in a row?


Question of the week #10:

What had a cycle of approximately 88 years?

And the winner is:

Jim Mitchell <Asolo1@aol.com>
And the answer is:

The CRIST Sol orbiter that only lasted 73 years before requiring refitting, a process that took about 15 years. A complete cycle of approximately 88 years.

Jim writes:

"The Fifth sol orbiter had a cycle of 88 years. The fifth sol orbiter lasted only 73 years as said in Couch Fishing on the flashing terminal that tells about the poor widdle oppressed martians. Since the refitting of each sol orbiter took fifteen years it comes out to 88 years between the time that the orbiter was made and the time that it could be fixed and put back up above Mars. 73 years + 15 for refitting comes out to 88 years."

Well done. Another quick answer to this week's question. Methinks I'm doing something wrong. ;-)


Question of the week #9:

The S'pht'Kr's final message was six thousand feet under but what was six thousand meters high?

And the winner is:

Eylon Caspi <eylon@glue.umd.edu>
And the answer is:

The words "Fatum Iustum Stultorum" if written end to end.

Eylon writes:

"Re. Question of the week - what was 6000 meters high? If you mean the letters of "Fatum Iustum Stultorum" stacked head to tail, I think it's reeeeeeally reaching..."

Yes... Eylon Caspi strikes again.

On "Fatum Iustum Stultorum" Durandal says:

Tycho's ship has been destroyed.  The
crater where it annihilated itself on
Lh'owon's inner moon is still glowing.
There were no survivors.  With a focused
message laser I burned his epitaph into the
surface near the crash site, in letters
three hundred meters high: "Fatum Iustum
Stultorum".
<Fatum Iustum Stultorum (Terminal 1)>

Each letter is three hundred meters high and there are a total of 20 letters. Write them end to end:

F
A
T
U
M
I
U
S
T
U
M
S
T
U
L
T
O
R
U
M

and they come to exactly 6000 meters high.

Don't you just love'm ;-)

Many thanks to all those who responded. Special mention must go to Adam Freidin <bob@clarity.Princeton.EDU> who sent in a graphic in support of his answer. Adam wrote:

"I think it's the citadel (6000 feet under refers to 6000 feet under the bunkers) Here's a JPEG to ilustrate the point:"

Nice one Adam... thanks.


Question of the week #8:

Who said "Time is limited"?

And the winner is:

Adam Freidin <bob@clarity.Princeton.EDU>
And the answer is:

Both Leela and Durandal said these exact words.

Adam writes:

Both Durandal and Leela said "Time is Limited".

Durandal:

"Creation takes time. Time is limited."
---------------------------------------------
Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap (Terminal 3)
---------------------------------------------

And Leela:

"Time is limited. There is a large group of heavily armed Pfhor approaching the section of the ship where I have transported you."
-------------------------------------------------------
Smells Like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken! (Terminal 1)
-------------------------------------------------------

Yes. Quite a straightforward question actually and not as some people suggested a trick question. Would I ask a trick question? <grin>

Tip #7 for devotees of the Marathon Story. Copy all the story text into a program that offers a multiple find and display facility (for example, BBEdit 3.5). Result - an instant reference source. Invaluable.


Question of the week #7:

If Durandal met up with Leela and destroyed her it would be after the year 7777. Can you give a reason why?

And the winner is:

William Pasquill <pasquill@usa1.com>
And the answer is:

In the final screen it states that the Vylae have long since accepted that they will never expunge Leela from their fifteen-world network. As the final screen is a narration written over ten thousand years in the future if Leela was destroyed it would be after the year 7777. A more accurate statement would be that it would have to happen after the year 12811.

William writes:

"It would be after 7777 because the ending of M2 states that it was tens of thousands of years before Durandal was seen on Sol again because he was searching for his Jjaro ship and up till this point Leela was in control of a 15 planet computer network."

Well done. Thanks to all those who answered. And many thanks to Matthew Smith <matthew@quest.net> who offered this as a question of the week.


Question of the week #6:

In 2881 the Pfhor system was sacked by the combined fleets of Earth and the S'pht'Kr but what happened five years later?

And the winner is:

Eylon Caspi <eylon@glue.umd.edu>
And the answer is:

Leela's light speed warning message sent from the Marathon reaches Earth.

Eylon writes:

"The object of "G4 Sunbathing" was to activate a dish array with which Leela could send a message to Earth about the Pfhor and the plight of the Marathon. In the success message of this level, Leela says:

You have done well. I have sent a message to Earth. I sent all of the information I have on the Pfhor: their behavior; their technology. The message will arrive in ninety-two years.

The attack of the Marathon occurs in 2794, and Leela's light speed message arrives at Earth 92 years later: 2794 + 92 = 2886.

This is 5 years after the "sacking of the Pfhor system by the combined fleets of Earth and the S'pht'Kr in 2881 AD." So, gee, I guess they already knew..."

Oh too easy I fear. Too easy ;-)


Question of the week #5:

Around the time you were hunting down Chockisens on Tau Ceti what was going down in another part of the galaxy?

And the winner is:

Keith Palmer <krjpalme@sciborg.uwaterloo.ca>
And the answer is:

The Nar were attempting to retake Epsilon Euobea from the Pfhor.

Keith writes:

"In the Marathon 1 Manual, it says that the player was wearing battle armour to hunt these strange beings three years before the story began. Since Marathon 2 takes place seventeen years later, the clue is something that happened twenty years ago."

"In Terminal 0 of "Curiouser and Curiouser...", Durandal tells the player that his plan to subvert the defense drones failed because the Nar had tried it twenty years earlier, while trying to retake Epsilon Euobea from the Pfhor."

Well done Keith and thanks to all those who sent in answers.


Question of the week #4:

Where does it say we had to suffer punishment?

And the winner is:

Nobody
And the answer is:

On "Cool Fusion".

Scrawled on the "Cool Fusion" map are the words poenas dare which is Latin for "to suffer punishment" or "to pay the penalty". Why this level should have been described in this manner is not clear. The words would have been more appropriate on the "Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap" level. Nevertheless here they are in all their glory.

<Map text viewed using Pfhorte 1.0d11>

Remember the Creed of the Marathon's Story Devotee:

I promise to leave no terminal unread, no binary string unconverted, no historical link unresearched, no Latin text untranslated, no map unopened.

Special mention must go to Greg Kirkpatrick (Bungie) who sent in the most amusing answer of the week - "Bobs".


Question of the week #3:

What was being secretly offload at Lh'owon?

And the winner is:

Nobody
And the answer is:

The colony ship.

Huh?

OK I'll explain.

On a secret terminal on "Where the Twist Flops" we read:

~fs`f~ns great. 5spd. bussard ramjet, A/C,
cruise control, power steering, power
airlocks, all orig. parts,  25GW 300
billion channel AM/FM radio.  90+ ly (all
interstellar).  Moving, must sell.  Asking
$6995.
<Where the Twist Flops (Terminal 2)>

But on a secret terminal on "Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap" we also read:

COLONY SHIP FOR SALE, CHEAP!!  2360 AD-model
planetoid-sized colony ship, slightly worn, runs great. 5spd.
bussard ramjet, A/C, cruise control, power steering, power
airlocks, all orig. parts,  25GW 300 billion channel AM/FM
radio. 90+ ly (all interstellar).  Moving, must sell.  Asking
6995
<Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap (Terminal 2)>

Seems somebody was definitely trying to offload that colony ship. The price has been dropped from 6995 to $6995. A bargain wouldn't you say? Then again I do seem to recall Durandal saying:

"I would surmise that the Pfhor have some plans for old Deimos; they bought the colony ship for sale."

So was somebody pulling a fast one here?

Flames welcome ;-)


Question of the week #2:

What was the first lie Durandal told us in Marathon 2?

And the winner is:

Matthew Smith <matthew@quest.net>
And the answer is:

Durandal says - We finally found Lh'owon sixteen hours ago. Of course this is a lie! He had been observing Lh'owon and Pfhor Battle Group Three for days.

Matthew writes:

"The manual says:

The stolen ship had been in the system for days, keeping its distance from Lh'owon and the Pfhor fleet surrounding it; dodging among asteroids and moons, testing and measuring. Looking for something. Waiting.

Then

Waterloo Waterpark (Terminal 1: 2nd message)

We finally found Lh'owon sixteen hours ago and are searching for something, a weapon or piece of knowledge to use to stop the Pfhor's conquest of the galaxy.

Ah ha!"

Yes, well done. And thanks to all the people who sent in later Durandal lies. I guess he's never going to go to heaven even if he thinks he is a God ;-)


Question of the week #1:

Name the moon that Tycho allegedly died on?

And the winner is:

David Twist <dtwist@garlic.com>
And the answer is:

The moon has no name. Tycho's ship crashed on a nameless inner moon.

David writes:

"OK. The name of the inner moon (where Tycho crashed) is never named in the text or pictures of M2. There are three names: K'lia, Y'loa, and T'jia. It is explicitly stated that Y'loa is the second moon and K'lia was the third. T'jia has to be the _fourth _ moon. This is from the passage:

K'lia, whom we have taken,
Between Y'loa and T'jia,
All in a line,

from level 13, terminal 5.

If K'lia (3rd moon) is in between Y'loa (2nd moon) and T'jia, T'jia has to be the fourth moon.

A diagram:

  O T'jia


  O K'lia (third moon)


  O Y'loa (second moon)


  O ???? (inner moon, where Tycho crashed.)

  _
 / \ Lh'owon
 \_/
So, unless I missed the name of another moon somewhere, you've posed a trick question."
It wasn't me I swear... it was Dur~~

Special mention must go to Reed Laughlin <blu9@wport.com> who wrote:

Tycho died and was subsequently re-animated on Deimos, the Marathon.
Yes a very nice alternative answer.

Many thanks to all the people who sent in answers. Better luck next week.