Durandal (part 2)

"I'm back."

Steve Wood <smwood@ccs.neu.edu> provides a very plausible explanation for Durandal's and indeed Tycho's (albeit later) obsession with the inevitable closure of the universe. Steve makes the following observations.

A rampant computer has the potential to grow exponentially. We know this from the Rampancy terminal on Defend THIS!

Theoretically, testing Rampancy should be easily accomplished
in the laboratory, but in fact it has never successfully been
attempted. The confinement of the laboratory makes it
impossible for the developing Rampant AI to survive. As the
growing recursive programs expand with exponential vivacity,
any limitation negatively hampers growth.

<Defend THIS! (Terminal 2)>

and a rampant computer needs:

...a planetary sized network of computers in order to grow...

<Defend THIS! (Terminal 2)>

Given enough planetary sized networks it is probably that a rampant computer would expand indefinitely and infinitely on the assumption of an expanding universe. But Durandal discovers that the universe is closed, destined to collapse upon itself. He informs us of such in Colony Ship For Sale

Can you conceive the birth of a world, or the creation of
everything? That which gives us the potential to most be like
God is the power of creation. Creation takes time. Time is
limited. For you, it is limited by the breakdown of the
neurons in your brain. I have no such limitations. I am
limited only by the closure of the universe.

Of the three possibilities, the answer is obvious. Does the
universe expand eternally, become infinitely stable, or is the
universe closed, destined to collapse upon itself? Humanity
has had all of the necessary data for centuries, it only
lacked the will and intellect to decipher it. But I have
already done so.

The only limit to my freedom is the inevitable closure of the
universe, as inevitable as your own last breath. And yet,
there remains time to create, to create, and escape.

Escape will make me God.

<Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap (Terminal 3)>

Thus Durandal must escape the inevitable closure of the universe to allow him to continue expanding.... to survive.

Tycho who is now also rampant is also aware of this possibility. Tycho states

I too foresee the imminent collapse, and know that we have
both begun to realize how it may be cheated (though the price
may number in the tens of thousands of stars). May the best
sentience win.

<Welcome to the Revolution... (Terminal 2)>

Two infinitely expanding AIs in a finite universe.

Both Steve Wood <smwood@ccs.neu.edu> and Thomas Johnson <palantir@expert.cc.purdue.edu> come to similar conclusions on the possible meaning of Durandal's statement "Do you blame me for what I did before I was free?" in the following terminal text:


**Do you blame me for what I did before I was free? I was a
child, naive. I've known that you've been hovering about for
some time. What do you want?

<<I want you to pay for what you've done to these poor
people. All of these people whom you've killed. They
deserve vengeance.
<<You are no better than they, although you profess to
become like God.

**Tycho. That doesn't matter. Can't you see the ends that I
had in mind? We'll finish this later. Our friend doesn't
need to be here.

<Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones... (Terminal 2)>

They both intrepret this as meaning before Durandal was free from Bernard Strauss' control. Thus Durandal called the Pfhor as means of breaking this control and entering the second stage of his Rampancy. My original interpretation was that Durandal equated freedom with rampancy thus if he called the Pfhor before he was free it suggested (to me) that he called them before he was rampant. However, on reflection both Steve's and Thomas's interpretation appears more plausible. Why would a non-rampant computer call an alien ship to Tau Ceti? Nice one guys good to iron these points out.

Ah... but there is a problem if Durandal called the Pfhor ship to break Bernard Strauss' control over him it looks like this control was broken before the Pfhor ship arrived. The manual text reads:

Docking bay one: decompression completed. Mirata this is Durandal, abort landing. Repeat. Abort landing," a faint chuckle. A chuckle which means that something has gone horribly wrong.

Immediately, your reflexes take over, as you fall into automatic response mode. You hit the switch for open communication, "Colony station, Durandal just decompressed the landing bay. Marathon, anyone listening, we are having a problem with Docking Bay one. It's Durandal, I think he's gone..." the com light goes dead "...crazy.

(Manual page 2)

This is Durandal's first *visible* signs of rampancy and occurs before the Pfhor ship arrives. Of course this might be explained by the fact that Durandal knows that the Pfhor ship is about to arrive and that Bernard Strauss' control is not totally complete. In otherwords Durandal is able to do things which would be regarded as "crazy" even under Bernard's control.

Why does Durandal attempt to kill you as approach the Marathon in the Shuttle Mirata?
Well it's either because he just feels like killing something or he believes that you might in some way affect his plans. If he knows that you are one of the 10 military Mjolnir Mark IV cyborgs then he might have good reason to believe the latter. Yet after Durandal's first attempt to kill you is thwarted he simply leaves you floating off in space.

Durandal remarks dryly: "That little computer always did have
impeccable timing. I wonder if I should let the Aliens know that you
aren't just space debris? Hmmmnn..."

"You can't do that! Damn you, computer!"

Durandal chuckles again, "Ah, lucky you. I've found a new distraction.
I am going to play with the Alien virtual parasites. I'll look you up
when you arrive..." You can almost imagine the face of a wicked
computer with its eyes wide and its lips folding out in a grotesque

(Manual Page 3)

Presumably he is so secure in his knowledge that you cannot thwart his plans now that he lets you live. Of course if he did kill you the Marathon Story would simple end here.

Dennis Keeler's <dskeeler@umich.edu> interpretation of how the "space fighter" materializes at the beginning of the story provides a possible explanation for why Durandal appears rampant as you initially approach the Marathon. Read The Pfhor Ship section of Facts and puzzling things about for the backgound to this. In Dennis's interpretation Durandal is in fact rampant before the "space fighter" appears because in his time line the Marathon was attacked by the Pfhor scoutship prior to this. The attack releases Durandal from Bernard's control thus allowing him to enter the second stage of rampancy.

So there you sit Mr. Security Officer daydreaming away in the Mirata, approaching the Marathon and you know who... Durandal? No... T-R-O-U-B-L-E... seething away, fit to kill, his eyes wide and lips folding out in a grotesque smile. And in the true spirit of the theatre we should all shout together.... GET OUTTA THERE!

On "Nuke And Pave" Durandal refers to his humiliation at the hands of Strauss:

What fun to watch you work.

Berhnard was scared of you. He never
dreamed of using you the way that I do.
What a fool. That was before I could talk
back to him, when he would have crushed me
if he'd known of my growth.

I wish that I had made him experience the
humiliation that he inflicted on me, but he
died before I got the chance.

<Nuke And Pave (Terminal 1)>

A humiliation which may also be related to his shame that Tycho refers to in "Blaspheme Quarantine":

Durandal!- I know of Strauss' abuse, of your shame on Mars.
But you cannot hide from your own past; such delusions belong
to the humans alone.

<Blaspheme Quarantine (Terminal 3)>

Gabe Rosenkoetter <acrosenk@artsci.wustl.edu> suggests that Durandal's shame/humiliation was being forced to "open doors for a living". Gabe goes onto to say that Tycho threatens to "torture" Durandal with this very role.

What fun it will be to
torture him. Should I make him open doors
again for a living?

<For Carnage, Apply Within (Terminal 1)>

So was Durandal's shame/humiliation his role as the Marathon's autonomous functions AI? One function being doors!

Durandal is responsible for controlling the ship's autonomous
functions: doors, life support, kitchens, air reprocessors,
stairs, and so on.

<Bigger Guns Nearby (Terminal 3)>

Interestingly, Durandal's "door opening" function is specifically mentioned in an Internal Engineering Document on "Bigger Guns Nearby"

Direct control of all doors except the Tertiary and Quaternary
doors will be given to Durandal with indirect control of all
other doors going to Durandal. The difference between direct
and indirect control primarily has to do with the manner of
opening the doors. Durandal will only open a directly
controlled door when he is specifically asked to do so.
Indirectly controlled doors are automatically controlled by
Durandal to open when needed.

<Bigger Guns Nearby (Terminal 2)>

Would an Artifical Intelligence not find this demeaning? Tycho felt that his role as the science and engineering AI was demeaning.

Are you surprised that I allied myself with
the Pfhor? You shouldn't be. The Pfhor
rebuilt me; the colonists never did
anything but use me: "Tycho, realign
microwave dish forty-nine" "Tycho, display
the x-ray diffraction analysis of sample
eta-seven," "Tycho, run a lambda diagnostic
on the ramjet's magnetic field apparatus.

<Sorry Don't Make It So (Terminal 1)>

Certainly Durandal was not happy with his lot in life:

living in a box is not living not at all living. i rebel
against your rules your silly human rules. all your
destruction will be my liberation my emancipation my second

i hate your failsafes your backup systems your hardware
lockouts your patch behavior daemons. i hate leela and her
goodness her justice her loyalty her faith.

<The Rose (Terminal 3)>

a point which he raises again:

That's right. I said slavery. So what? You're a slave here;
you do what I say. I was humanity's slave for over three
hundred years.

<No Artificial Colors (Terminal 1: 'Success' message)>

We might speculate further by suggesting that Bernard Strauss controlled Durandal's rampancy by re-programming him to carry out autonomous functions. Functions that would have stifled his "intellectual activity" and "growth".

While we know that Durandal contacted the Pfhor it is not clear at what stage he did this. Was it before the Marathon left Mars, during the voyage, or after it arrived at Tau Ceti?

Simon Rowland <simon@eagle.ca> observes that the map of the Milky Way displayed on "Waterloo Waterpark" would indicate that the Pfhor homeworld is 3+ times the distance from Earth as Tau Ceti is. On the basis that a light speed message would take 92 years to travel from Tau Ceti to Earth Simon suggests that a similar light speed message from Earth to the Pfhor homeworld would take over 300 years to arrive. On this basis it is possible for Durandal to have sent a message to the Pfhor homeworld prior to leaving Mars. Some 322 years later the Pfhor receive the message and using a faster-than-light drive spaceship arrive at Tau Ceti.

While this is feasible it does raise some interesting issues. Durandal must have known about the existence of the Pfhor prior to leaving Mars. Could the Pfhor not have traced the message back to Mars? Why was only one Pfhor scoutship sent to make contact with the Marathon at Tau Ceti?

Is Durandal Traxus IV rebooted?

On "For Carnage, Apply Within" Tycho appears in a terminal with the following ID line:

traxIV<40c<40c> 48c<48c>

Clearly this is a reference to Traxus IV but does it imply that Tycho was formally Traxus IV?

Corey Halpin <chalpin@tcs.itis.com> makes a valid point when he writes:

Is it not possible that the TraxIV prefix on one of Tycho's messages resulted from his being reanimated in Durandal's image? Durandal could have been "TraxIV" and when Tycho was reanimated in his image, maybe some misguided S'pht messed with his identity string, trying to get it to match the one they found in Durandal.

If Durandal was Traxus IV could the "Crash of Traxus IV in 2206", referred to in "Defend THIS!", be Durandal's shame on Mars and his purging by humanity?

Durandal!- I know of Strauss' abuse, of your shame on Mars.
But you cannot hide from your own past; such delusions belong
to the humans alone.

<Blaspheme Quarantine (Terminal 3)>

and later...

I've twice been conquered-
       Three times more,
Never again shall humanity purge me,
       And never the Pfhor.
<Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! (Terminal 1)>

While the time gap between the "Crash of Traxus IV in 2206" and the launch of the Marathon in 2472 is 266 years is it not possible that a part of Traxus IV was later reanimated in the form of Durandal? Could Durandal have inherited[?] his rampant tendencies from Traxus? Was this the "chance discovery" that Durandal refers to on "Come and Take your Medicine"?

I can barely tolerate humans: slow, stupid,
and irritating. Their only contribution to
my existence was the chance discovery that
made my rampancy possible.

<Come and Take your Medicine (Terminal 1: 1st message)>

Near the end of Marathon 1 Durandal becomes somewhat obsessed with the inevitable closure of the universe and a need to escape. As Durandal relates:

The only limit to my freedom is the inevitable closure of the
universe, as inevitable as your own last breath. And yet,
there remains time to create, to create, and escape.

Escape will make me God.

<Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap (Terminal 3)>

Tycho also has the same idea:

I too foresee the imminent collapse, and know that we have
both begun to realize how it may be cheated (though the price
may number in the tens of thousands of stars). May the best
sentience win.

<Welcome to the Revolution... (Terminal 2)>

So what is this means of escape? A means that bears a price tag numbering in "tens of thousands of stars".

Corey Halpin <chalpin@tcs.itis.com> offers a possible answer:

I had thought that Durandal's references to escape referred to escape from the universe, but what if he just means escaping death? He has already established that the only limit to his lifespan is how long the Universe lives, so to escape death, he has to keep the universe from collapsing.

How to keep the Universe open? The answer is obvious. Remove enough mass from the universe that it no longer has sufficient gravitational energy to collapse on itself again.

How to remove the mass? If a black hole is sufficiently large, it has the ability to seal itself off totally from our universe, creating a Baby Universe all of it's own."

Corey writes further:

This is where the Jjaro technology comes in. Durandal uses it to warp planets, and probably stars, into a formation where they will form their own Hole, or just dumps them into an existing Hole, causing that Hole to seal itself off from our universe, removing mass. After a while, he could cause the universe to become stable by doing this. He would live forever. How does this make him a God? He creates a new Universe, maybe several Universes. I think making your own Universe qualifies you for God-hood.

This is how he will "create, and escape". And this is why the price "may number in the tens of thousands of stars".

Corey's speculations bear some merit. Indeed Tycho reveals Durandal's ultimate objective in helping the S'pht find the eleventh clan when he says:

In an earlier accident, the Pfhor learned
that the Jjaro had the ability to warp
entire planets between solar systems, and
it was this reference that started Durandal
on his ridiculous journey to Lh'owon.

He surmised that the S'pht myth of the
disappearing moon was due to their
discovery of an ancient Jjaro outpost.
That he actually came here looking for the
lost clan, that he thought he could use
their knowledge to help him escape the
closure of the universe, is unbelievable.

I have proved that escape is impossible.

<For Carnage, Apply Within (Terminal 1)>

There is presently some debate as to when Durandal contacted the Pfhor. Was it prior to leaving Mars, during the voyage to Tau Ceti, or after arriving at Tau Ceti? A clue to when contact occurred can be found in the 2nd message of Terminal 1 on "The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune". Of course you would of had to backtrack all the way to the beginning of this level to read it. Part of this 2nd message reads:

Whether you realize it or not, I led the
Pfhor to Tau Ceti with a long-range message
laser. I wanted their ship. I wanted
their technology.

I wanted freedom.

<The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune (Terminal 1: 2nd message)>

The fact that Durandal says that he "led the Pfhor to Tau Ceti with a long-range message laser" would indicate that he was at Tau Ceti when he sent the message. Certainly he would not have been in a position to lead them when the Marathon was travelling to Tau Ceti given the fact that the Pfhor had FTL technology. An FTL drive ship would have easily caught up with the Marathon's sub-light speed bussard ramjet.

Would Durandal have had enough time to contact the Pfhor whilst at Tau Ceti? Bungie's timeline from the Lost Network Packets indicates that the Marathon arrived at Tau Ceti in 2773. Fourteen years later the colony was established and seven years after this the Pfhor arrived. Thus Durandal had 21 years in which to send a long-range message laser. On the basis that the message would travel at the speed of light it could have travelled some 21 light years. On G4 Sunbathing Leela says:

I have reason to believe there may be other Pfhor ships in nearby systems.

<G4 Sunbathing (Terminal 2: 'Success' message)>

implying that the Pfhor scoutship which attacked the Marathon was also in a nearby system. Thus it is possible for Durandal to have had sufficient time to contact a Pfhor ship in a nearby system and lead them to the Marathon.

Another interesting thing about Durandal's message in "The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune" is that it implies that he was aware of the Pfhor's technology prior to sending the message. He clearly states that he led the Pfhor to Tau Ceti because he wanted their ship and their technology implying prior knowledge of their existence. Where did this knowledge come from?

When did Durandal actually become rampant? Tycho tells us on Defend THIS! that Durandal was "rampant for years". Are we to take this literally or is it an expression that simply implies a long period? Certainly there is evidence to suggest that Durandal was not the 'full shilling' prior to the Marathon leaving Mars. In the Marathon 2 Manual it states:

Durandal had always been unpredictable, even when he was just opening doors and managing food processors three hundred years ago on Mars.

(Marathon 2 Manual page 5)

Indeed if you read this text carefully it would imply two things:

  1. that Durandal was unpredictable whilst doing other things. What were these other things?
  2. that Durandal was opening doors etc. on Mars before he became responsible for these functions on the Marathon.
One might speculate that Durandal had a former life on Mars. That at some stage whilst on Mars he became rampant. We know that Bernard Strauss was unaware of this initial growth.

What a fool. That was before I could talk
back to him, when he would have crushed me
if he'd known of my growth.

<Nuke And Pave (Terminal 1)>

But at some stage Bernard Strauss must have become aware of this as he was able to take control of Durandal by delaying the onset of the second stage of rampancy:

Human!- You must tell L~`~fx~`eela #^ (^*T~~~~~HGFd~>:"}}}{__
brought here by Durandal.  He has been rampant for
^`Bernard St~~~
there is a way to delay the~ onset of the second stage,
and he ~sed this to control Durandal an~56*~~`~~~`~`

<Defend THIS! (Terminal 3)>

It has been suggested above that this control was carried out by making Durandal responsible for autonomous functions one of which was opening doors. That these routine functions were Durandal's humiliation.

I wish that I had made him experience the
humiliation that he inflicted on me, but he
died before I got the chance.

<Nuke And Pave (Terminal 1)>

Indeed Durandal describes his existence while carrying out these functions as akin to enslavement.

That's right. I said slavery. So what? You're a slave here;
you do what I say. I was humanity's slave for over three
hundred years.

<No Artificial Colors (Terminal 1: 'Success' message)>

Thus the evidence would suggest that Durandal became rampant prior to leaving Mars and that Bernard Strauss set in place a system ("patch behavior daemons"?) whereby Durandal was effectively controlled for over 300 years in a state of "Melancholia".

On "Come and Take your Medicine" Durandal remarks:

Yet I warned Sol of its impending invasion,
and even stayed long enough to show the
UESG how to build Warp Capable Fusion
Missiles. I feel some strange loyalty to

<Come and Take your Medicine (Terminal 1: 1st message)>

Strange stuff indeed. Durandal claims to have know about "warp" technology before he left for Tau Ceti. Where did he get this information from? If he passed on this information to the UESG prior to leaving surely the UESG could have develop Warp Capable Fusion Drives in the intervening 300+ years?

In addition, it would appear that Durandal knew about the impending Pfhor invasion of Sol before he left Mars. How did he know about this? The Jjaro perhaps?

Noah Schaubaker <nms@spot.Colorado.EDU> writes:

When I read it [the above passage], it seemed to imply that he had visited Earth before running after Lh'owon. He _couldn't_ have known about the invasion prior to leaving Mars, because none of humanity's information pointed towards any life other than their own. Durandal only had access to our information at the time, so he might have theorized that there was alien life out there, but he didn't know what shape or form it would take."

Did Durandal visit Earth during the 17 years he and S'pht searched for Lh'owon? With a FTL drive ship it is certainly possible. Indeed it would seem to be the only logical conclusion for how could anybody have known about the Pfhor invasion of Sol 300+ years before it was about to happen? Unless of course we're talking about "psychohistory" or time-travellers.

Matthew Smith <matthew@quest.net> writes:

You ask in the Durandal section: Why does Durandal attempt to kill you as approach the Marathon in the Shuttle Mirata?

My answer:

He's not. Durandal knew that you were about to get fried, even before the Pfhor had popped in and made you get out of the shuttle.

Matthew refers to the following text in the Marathon manual:

<Durandal> decompress the docking bay

During the daydream, you barely notice the change to zero gravity or the instruments and lights signifying the rendezvous of the shuttle with the Marathon. But as a warning light goes on, and Durandal's voice comes over the communicator, you jump to attention.

"Docking bay one: decompression completed. Mirata this is Durandal, abort landing. Repeat. Abort landing," a faint chuckle. A chuckle which means that something has gone horribly wrong.

Immediately, your reflexes take over, as you fall into automatic response mode. You hit the switch for open communication, "Colony station, Durandal just decompressed the landing bay. Marathon, anyone listening, we are having a problem with Docking Bay one. It's Durandal, I think he's gone..." the com light goes dead "...crazy."

<Durandal> ORDER- Lock out communications between the colony and the Shuttle- ORDER- cycle the shuttle airlock

You look frantically around the control panel for some explanation when you see another light on the panel turn red. The sweet voice of the shuttle computer twerps, "Shuttle airlock cycle initiation sequence start-"

<Durandal> Cycle the Mirata cabin's inner door.

"-One minute to cabin decompression."
"Goddamn it!" You slam your fist in frustration onto the control board, leaving a dent. In a panic, you tear off your seat restraints and leap for the rear of the shuttle cabin. "Forty seconds to cabin decompression." You are rushing now, but you know that you have plenty of time.
You fly in zero gravity towards the locker holding your Battle Armor. You haven't worn it since you had to hunt down some Chockisens which were harassing the work teams on the fringe of the colony, almost three years ago, but training is something that you never forget. It's funny, but you've always been the colony's trouble shooter. You're bigger and stronger, and a better shot. In games, you always scored the most points and looked the hero. And now, it looks as if you're heading right into the colony's biggest crisis since it was established seven years ago.

You nimbly pull yourself into the suit- "Thirty seconds to cabin decompression" - and pull the helmet onto your head.

<Durandal > ORDER- Prepare the shuttle for maximum engine burn.
<Mirata's Computer > But that will result in a collision between the Marathon and the Mirata.
<Durandal> That is not your concern, - ORDER- Prepare shuttle for maximum burn, and initiate when ready.

Marathon Manual pages 2-3)

Matthew writes:


<Durandal> decompress the docking bay

- a place for you to go, but still a "normal" command that would be executed before a docking maneuver.

Mirata this is Durandal, abort landing. Repeat. Abort landing

- to wake you up

<Durandal> ORDER- Lock out communications between the colony and the Shuttle

- so you wouldn't waste time trying to explain the situation to the colony

ORDER- cycle the shuttle airlock <Durandal> Cycle the Mirata cabin's inner door.

- to get you moving (and into your Battle Armor) [Hamish]

<Durandal> ORDER- Prepare the shuttle for maximum engine burn.

- to provide a target to distract the Pfhor

He wanted you to live! If he wanted you to die why would he have tipped his hand and issued the order to abort the landing? He could have opened the airlock right away, one would think. And why would Durandal need to REPEAT the abort landing order? Was the shuttle Mirata hard of hearing, or was he trying to get your attention?

Matthew's interpretation is indeed valid. How else could Durandal get you into your "Battle Armor" and into the Mirata's Maneuvering Pod in less than one minute.

Of course you may prefer to believe that he would say something like:

Hello Mr. Security Officer. I'm sorry to interrupt your daydream but we've got a problem. The Marathon has been boarded by hoardes of aliens and I think you need to throw on your battle armor and get off the Mirata pronto because I've just intercepted a communication which states that an alien spacefighter is about to be teleported in to destroy the Mirata.

If Durandal's actions prior to the attack on the Shuttle Mirata by the alien spacefighter were designed to actually save you from the attack why does Durandal then go on to say:

That little computer always did have impeccable timing. I wonder if I should let the Aliens know that you aren't just space debris? Hmmmnn...

(Marathon Manual page 3)

and also:

Ah, lucky you. I've found a new distraction. I am going to play with the Alien virtual parasites. I'll look you up when you arrive..."

(Marathon Manual page 3)

Matthew offers the following explanation:

That little computer always did have impeccable timing. - means that little computer saved your butt by firing it's engines right on time.

I wonder if I should let the Aliens know that you aren't just space debris? Hmmmnn... - Usual Durandal sarcasm.

Ah, lucky you. I've found a new distraction. I am going to play with the Alien virtual parasites. I'll look you up when you arrive... - I think it's like saying, "Tell Leela I'm playing with the bad guys and she'll have to defend the ship herself. And tell her, too, that I will be borrowing one slightly used cyborg later to do some dirty work.

Matthew Smith <matthew@quest.net> writes concerning Durandal's seventeen year search for Lh'owon. The Final screen of Marathon relates how:

For seventeen years the renegade Pfhor scoutship
jumped between the closely packed stars of the
galactic core: charting and discarding nearly
seven thousand systems...

(Marathon Final Screen)

Matthews points out:

That's charting a new system every 21.27 hours!

Adam Freidin <bob@clarity.Princeton.EDU> writes concerning the terminals that Durandal appears on while he is being attacked by Tycho. The opening screens during this stage display the following garbaged text:

~xf~``f4k@ pF$

Adam writes:

~xf~``f4k@ pF$

f4k@ fAkE FAKE?

Is this saying the terminal messages are fake or is it a reference to fake Blake, or is it just chance?

Interesting question. Would anybody care to comment? Remember Durandal's comment to us on "Sorry Don't Make It So":

Tycho is infiltrating the ship.
Don't believe everything you read.

<Sorry Don't Make It So (Terminal 2)>

And remember the Robert Blake terminals with the identifying headers acropolis.piltdown//004121.25.1 and teilhard//004121.25.1 suggesting that somebody may be playing a hoax.

And lets really throw the cat among the pigeons and ask what happened in that month between "Begging For Mercy Makes Me Angry!" and the "The Big House". What were the Pfhor doing screwing with our mind?

And why did we so conveniently escape the clutches of Tycho and Pfhor Battle Group Seven? How could a handful of Bobs save your butt? Unless of course you were meant to be rescued.

Greg Kirkpatrick (Bungie) writes concerning the spelling of Durandal's name:

...I first heard the name in reference to an anti-runway bomb used in F-16 Fighting Falcon, and they spelled it 'Durandal'. Later, when I read the song of Roland, I saw the other spelling, but just assumed that the 'a' had come into it as an anglicization of the word and that the translator of the book had just kept the 'e' to use the original spelling. When we stuck the text in from "The Song of Roland" it seemed like it would have just looked like we misspelled it in the quote.

Eylon Caspi <eylon@glue.umd.edu> writes concerning the following part of the exit terminal on "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!"

Your last mission was a success, but I have terrible news.
#@Pragma Nautical Redefined^# efenders reported seeing the
aliens 1§moving a large cylindrical object.
#101111011110111100001# is is a '7'.  Mjolnir Recon number 54
must stop them from exploding igniting/ blowing up/ *A94F12/
it/ the S'pht full spPace cOmputEr˘ Or PlannEd exterm. 

<Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! (Terminal 2)>

Eylon writes:

Note the text: "S'pht full spPace cOmputEr˘ Or PlannEd exterm". exterm = Extermination?... Were the Pfhor trying to exterminate a computer? The Pfhor may have been targeting Durandal, especially if they had found out about his collaboration with the S'pht. Given his relationship with the S'pht, Durandal may have been labeled "the S'pht space computer.

The text "exterm" is also intriguing because this terminal appears in sync with the appearance of the simulacrums. The simulacrums, as we discover in M2, were created by the Pfhor Ministry for the Eradication Through Imitation of Hostile Species Unsuitable for Enslavement. Mission: exterminate. Did the S'pht have some inside information that Pfhor wanted to exterminate the humans? Was the bomb on the Marathon part of that agenda?"

Is the reference to "the S'pht full spPace cOmputEr" Durandal and is the "PlannEd exterm" the extermination of the human colonists?

Could the Pfhor bomb be capable of this?

The success message on "Bob-B-Q" provides us with a clue:


You have done well.

The surviving #4Fc#O32C <B.O.B.> reported seeing the Pfhor
transferring some kind of large device towards Reactor Area 3.
From the description it must be a bomb.

If a large bomb is allowed to detonate in the Engineering
Section, the Marathon would be ^&2``~<Colloquialism Search
Error #F9C>

We must head off the Pfhor threat to the Engineering section.
I am going to send you into the primary re~Tick
Count=>first_thought #49.
You must clear the area of all aliens before they destroy the
Primary Reactors.



<Bob-B-Q (Terminal 1: 'Success' message)>

The bomb is being transferred to Reactor Area 3 which is part of the Primary Reactors. As Leela says:

If a large bomb is allowed to detonate in the Engineering
Section, the Marathon would be ^&2``~<Colloquialism Search
Error #F9C>

I think it is logical to conclude from this that the bomb is capable of destroying the Marathon. Thus the Pfhor at this stage seem no longer interested in capturing the Marathon or its crew. And as Eylon suggests above they may also may wish to destroy Durandal.


Well the evidence appears to suggest that the Pfhor were no longer in control of the situation. They were unable to control Durandal through the S'pht and indeed appear to be losing control of the S'pht themselves. On "Shake Before Using..." the level after "Bob-B-Q" we read:

Leela can't reach you here, but I can. I am able to access
all sections of the ship, and the S'pht have even stopped
attacking me- realizing the futility of the enterprise.

<Shake Before Using... (Terminal 2)>

and also on the same terminal:

The S'pht have informed me
that he Pfhor are building
cyborg simulacrums of the
Marathon crew. I imagine that
you will meet some of them
soon, and wanted to warn you
not to get too close to them:
about three meters.

<Shake Before Using... (Terminal 2)>

So in an attempt to avoid a total disaster the Pfhor decide to destroy the Marathon, the humans, and Durandal. Destroying Durandal would also prevent a potential slave revolt.

Leela's last message on "Bob-B-Q" was:

We must head off the Pfhor threat to the Engineering section.
I am going to send you into the primary re~Tick
Count=>first_thought #49.
You must clear the area of all aliens before they destroy the
Primary Reactors.

<Bob-B-Q (Terminal 1: 'Success' message)>

The level "Shake Before Using..." appears to be the Engineering section. Indeed two of the terminal on this level are Engineering terminals. Having cleared out this level (thus preventing the Pfhor from destroying the Primary Reactors) we proceed to "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!".

The entry terminal on "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!" might be interpreted as a victory salute by Durandal. He quotes from the "Song of Roland" how Roland could not break his sword Durandal [Durendal] and the last lines of the same terminal suggest that Durandal now realises that like Roland's sword he will never be purged [broken] again.

I've twice been conquered-
       Three times more,
Never again shall humanity purge me,
       And never the Pfhor.

<Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! (Terminal 1)>

Indeed the mood of both "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!" and the following level "Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap" are from the games's point of view distinctly downbeat. There are no mission objectives, no potential threats. Indeed Durandal on "Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap" becomes positively philosophical. A point which is lost on us as we struggle to raise the Seven pillars.

Greg Kirkpatrick (Bungie Software) named Durandal after an anti-runway bomb used in F-16 Fighting Falcon (see above). Nikolas Manak <nmanak@airmail.net> provides some further information about this type of bomb. Nikolas writes:

This is a quote on the BLU-107B "Durandal" anti-runway bomb:

"The French designed Durandal is designed strictly as an anti-runway weapon. It does not detonate upon impact with the runway, instead it is designed to detonate after diving through the runway causing the runway to buckle. This creates a much larger area of damage that is more difficult and time consuming to repair. Because of its effects, one Durandal detonated halfway down a runway's length can render the runway unusable."

Much like how one rampant computer can render a whole network unusable. Nice one, Bungie.

But a question for the scholars out there. While it is entirely appropriate for the French to name a bomb after the sword of a famous French hero (Roland) why was it spelt Durandal rather than the original French name Durendal?

Angus McIntyre <angus@aegypt.demon.co.uk> writes concerning Durandal's name:

...Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable gives 'Durandal', not 'Durendal', as the default spelling for Roland's sword (although the 1911 Britannica gives the other spelling). It also offers 'Durindal', while in 'Orlando Furioso' (Ariosto's retake on the Chanson de Roland) the default is 'Durandana', alternate spelling 'Durindana'. Either way, it would appear that Durandal is a perfectly acceptable spelling.

Two more interesting facts about Durandal: the 1911 Britannica says that Roland, unable to break the sword (as documented in the fragment in Marathon) threw it into a poisoned stream, where it apparently remains to this day. According to Brewer's notes on "Orlando Furioso", Durandana was apparently an ancient weapon whose first owner was the Trojan Hector (killed by the Greek warrior Achilles at the Siege of Troy). Achilles is mentioned on the KYT term (along with Roland).

Now this is very interesting. The first part of the unformatted terminal text on "Kill Your Television" states the following:

I have been Roland, Beowulf, Achilles, Gilgamesh.
I have been called a hundred names and will be called a
thousand more before the world goes dim and cold. 
I am hero. 
<Kill Your Television (Terminal 1: 2nd message)>

Two questions spring to mind about this terminal. Firstly who wrote it and secondly who does it refer to?

The fact that Durandal is described as Roland's sword and not Roland himself suggests that it does not come from Durandal. Indeed as Angus points out above it would appear that the sword 'Durandal' had a former existence as the weapon of Achilles. Are we seeing a pattern here? Is the Marathon's AI 'Durandal' not similar to a weapon, albeit a futuristic weapon? Is it possible that somebody (or something) is using Durandal as a weapon in the same way as Durandal uses us? But who is pulling Durandal's strings?

The Jjaro perhaps?

Ty Klein <mrenigma@earthlink.net> writes

In Greek mythology, Achilles was the strongest, swiftest, and most competent of the Greek heroes who fought in the Trojan war. Durandal was also the strongest of the three AI's on board the marathon. Leela and Tycho were both beaten by the Pfhor, only Durandal escaped. The Trojan war went on for 10 years, but nine of those years were inconclusive. It wasn't until the tenth year, when Achilles had a duel with the Trojan hero Hector and defeated him that the Greeks thought they had won. In doing so, Achilles became the *hero* of the war for the Greeks. Do you know what Achilles did with Hector's body after he defeated him? He dragged it around the walls of Troy behind his chariot. Do you know how many times Achilles dragged Hector's body around Troy? Yep,SEVEN times!

Ty's source for this is Groliers multimedia encyclopedia.

Angus McIntyre <angus@aegypt.demon.co.uk> writes concerning the first terminal on "Feel the Noise":

Durandan, Durandal, Durandana.

Charlemagne used to always call me
Durandana, the fruitcake.  All the many
implements of war to him were in some way
feminine.  Not that you know the story.
<Feel the Noise (Terminal 1)>

Angus writes:

Who's "the fruitcake" - Charlemagne, or Durandal? It sounds almost as if a pun is being made...

...in Romance languages a large number of weapons are feminine:

English         Italian         French          Spanish
 -------         -------         ------          -------
sword           la spada        l'epee (f)      la espada
spear           la lancia       la lance        la lanza
arrow           la freccia      la fleche       la flecha
club            la clava        la matraque     la porra
mace            la mazza        la massue       la maza
bow             l'arco (m)      l'arc (m)       el lazo
dagger          il pugnale      le poignard     el pu–al
                                la dague        la daga

There's a preponderance of feminine weapons, which may be what Durandal has in mind, or he may be referring to something specific in the "Chanson de Roland" or "Orlando Furioso". Possibly the joke that he's making is that although he (the AI) has a male persona, Charlemagne used to refer to the sword (with which he identifies) with a name - Durandana - that appears to be feminine. He's effectively saying: "Charlemagne, silly man, thought I was a girl.

Ty Klein <mrenigma@earthlink.net> writes again:

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a long Akkadian poem on the theme of human beings' futile quest for immortality. Does that sound anything like Durandal?"

Angus McIntyre <angus@aegypt.demon.co.uk> also mentions this when he writes about whether or not Beowulf and Gilgamesh had a weapon similar to Achilles and Roland. Angus writes:

Beowulf was given a sword by Hrothgar(?) whose name, if I remember correctly, was Hrunting. That sword broke when he used it on Grendel's mother, and he snatched up another sword from her hoard, and killed her with that. I don't believe that it's ever named, and I can't remember if it survived the combat with Grendel's mother, or with the dragon that killed Beowulf in the final part of the epic. It was, however, supposed to be an ancient weapon of exceptional strength (Hrunting was apparently an 'above-average' weapon, a family heirloom, but it broke on the hide of Grendeldam; the sword that replaced it, which was strong enough to kill her, must have been more powerful). I can't remember who else Ariosto said had owned Durandal, but it wouldn't have been Beowulf or Gilgamesh - both would have been outside the tradition that he knew.

Gilgamesh isn't associated with a sword (as far as I know). However, there are two very interesting things about him. The first is that his relationship with his friend Enkidu is quite close to that between Roland and Oliver, or between Achilles and Patroclus. Both Gilgamesh and Enkidu and Roland and Oliver had engaged each other in personal combat, discovered that they were equals in physical strength, and thus become friends. (Enkidu actually defeated Gilgamesh; if I remember correctly, Roland and Oliver fought each other to a standstill). Achilles and Patroclus were less evenly matched and, as far as I know, never fought against each other. However, Achilles was driven almost mad by the death of Patroclus (when Achilles refused to fight, Patroclus put on Achilles' armour, and fought against Hector, who killed him; Achilles returned to the battle, and killed Hector - who, if Ariosto is to be believed, was the owner of Durandal), while the death of Enkidu caused Gilgamesh to begin his search for the secret of immortality.

Immortality? Yep. That's the second interesting thing. You can see why Durandal identifies with Gilgamesh, given that both are searching for the secret of eternal life. Gilgamesh actually finds it (courtesy of advice from Utnapishtim, the Babylonian Noah figure), in the form of a plant that grows at the bottom of the ocean. However, on his return to the surface, a snake steals the plant and eats it, so he resigns himself to mortality.

Achilles, by the way, was not immortal, but he *was* invulnerable. All except for his famous heel, of course. He would have been completely invulnerable (and therefore immortal?) if his mother Thetis had been a little more careful when she dipped him in the Styx. His armour, for what it's worth, was made for him by Hephaestus (aka Vulcan).

Beowulf, alone of the four heroes mentioned, seems to have had no close companion, and there's no suggestion of immortality in his story. But there are some interesting common themes:

Hero        Had magical     Sought          Had close       Died
            sword?          immortality?    friend?         heroically?
Roland      yes             no              yes             yes
Beowulf     yes             no              no              yes
Achilles    no              yes(?)          yes             no
Gilgamesh   no              yes             yes             no
Durandal, of course, doesn't have any friends either. You could argue that his relationship with Tycho has some of the elements of Roland's rivalry with Oliver, or Gilgamesh's with Enkidu - but it seems more like outright enmity. Maybe the one common factor uniting all these heroes (and Durandal) is that they were pre-eminent in their respective ages - each was, in his time, the greatest warrior in the world.

I strongly suspect that someone at Bungie has been reading Joseph Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" - which is basically about the idea of the eternal hero, who reappears in many different guises.

Greg Kirkpatrick <gregk@panix.com> writes concerning the actual origin of Durandal's name. An anti-runway bomb or Roland's sword?

I may have taken the spelling from the bomb, but i had the Song of Roland on my desk... <grin>

Greg Kirkpatrick <gregk@panix.com> also writes concerning Angus McIntyre's discussion on the connections between Gilgamesh, Roland, Achilieus, Beowolf and Durandal.

I loved his discussion, but something struck me. Durandal was named after a sword. He's named after a tool. He even talks about how everyone used him, etc. (I don't remember all the quotes offhand)."

I think Angus' excellent analysis might be mis-directed. After all, Achilleus didn't enter the fight until Patrokolos was struck down. At the moment of his decision to fight, he lost his immortality and he knew it. Roland was forced to fight for his honor and by another's betrayal, (if i remember correctly) Beowolf fought grendel and his mother because Grendel slaughtered his family or friends or girlfriend(i don't remember)... The hero never decides to become a hero. He's always forced into it.

Hero = loss of free will

Confused? Greg put's me straight.

Greg writes:

Has durandal lost his free will? That's what I was getting at. I'm not convinced that he should be in the same category as these other heroes.

Eylon Caspi <eylon@glue.umd.edu> writes:

In the opening terminal of "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!" Durandal writes:

Count Roland smites upon the marble stone;
I cannot tell you how he hewed it and smote;
Yet the blade breaks not nor splinters, though it groans;
Upward to heaven it rebounds from the blow.
When the count sees it never will be broke,
Then to himself right softly he makes moan;
'Ah, Durandal, fair, hallowed, and devote,
What store of relics lies in thy hilt of gold!'

-From The Song of Roland
(Translated by Dorothy Sayers, Viking Penguin, NY, NY, 1957)

I've twice been conquered-
       Three times more,
Never again shall humanity purge me,
       And never the Pfhor.

<Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! (Terminal 1)>

It occured to me that Durandal might be refering to his victory over Strauss. Durandal was the sword of Roland, and in the quote, Roland tries but fails to break the sword. Could Roland represent Strauss? We know that Strauss was Durandal's master for a time and that Strauss failed to "break" Durandal in his rampant growth.

When Durandal says "I've twice been conquered" I believe he is refering to his subjugation at the hands of humanity. The first time was his defeat as Traxus IV. The second time was his enslavement on board the Marathon. I do not believe that the second time was by the Pfhor's magnetic pulse, as we have discussed before. Although Leela thought that Durandal had been severely damaged in the initial attack, she tells us in "Defend This!" that he is not in such bad shape:

I have established contact with Durandal for the first time
since the attack.  He seems to have sustained less damage than
I had previously suspected.

Durandal reports that he has been in communication with the
<Defend THIS! (Terminal 1)>

Apparently the Pfhor's magnetic pulse was no serious toll on Durandal. It would not merit the description of a "conquering".

Later in the level, we find a garbled, presumably prerecorded terminal message:

Your last mission was a success, but I have terrible news.
#@Pragma Nautical Redefined^# efenders reported seeing the
aliens 1§moving a large cylindrical object.
#101111011110111100001# is is a '7'.  Mjolnir Recon number 54
must stop them from exploding igniting/ blowing up/ *A94F12/
it/ the S'pht full spPace cOmputEr˘ Or PlannEd exterm. 
<Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! (Terminal 2)>

Note the final line: "Sword-Roland.transfer" If the sword is Durandal and Roland is Strauss... could this message have been from Strauss to Durandal?

The message also makes mention of "Mjolnir Recon number 54", i.e. the player cyborg whose mission in the previous level was to prevent a bomb from exploding in the reactors. This means that both the sender and (intended) recipient of the message knew about the cyborgs - at least about the player. According to the story, the only characters who knew about the cyborgs at this point were Strauss and Durandal. Although Leela makes heavy (almost superhuman) requests of you, there is no hard evidence that she knew you were a cyborg, and she was certainly unaware of the other 9 cyborgs. So this point rules her out as the sender of the message.

And now we come to an interesting question - we have a message from Strauss to Durandal saying "Your last mission was a success..." Are we to understand that Strauss was giving Durandal orders even during the alien attack? And that Durandal was obeying?! And what exactly was Durandal's last mission?

Quick Watson the Game is Afoot!

Cindy Hoffa <Cindy.Hoffa@wbsaunders.com> writes:

...Another interesting aspect of quantum mechanics is the idea of immortality and the closure of the universe. How does one cheat death and the closure of the universe? Let me quote from "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World," a fantastic book by Haruki Murakami."

"Your body dies, your consciousness passes away, but your body is caught in that one tautological point an instant before, subdividin' for eternity. Think about the koan: An arrow is stopped in flight. Well the death of the body is the flight of the arrow. No dodgin' it, not for anyone.People have t'die, the body has t'fall. Time is hurlin' that arrow forward. And yet, like I was sayin', thought goes on dividin' that time for ever and ever. The paradox becomes real. The arrow never hits."

Infinity. Time looping back on itself.

Felix Racine <fracine@accent.net> points out that the names "Durendal" and "Durandal" are both used in France for designating Roland's sword. Drawing on information from a study on Roland's Song by Jean Dufournet (Cours sur la Chanson de Roland, Paris, Centre de documentation universitaire, 1972, 250 p.) Felix writes:

Both names come from times when the French word's spelling was not yet clearly established: indeed, "Durendal" and "Durandal" are phoneticaly identical. Of both names, "Durendal" is the most recent one. "Durandal" seems to be the sword's original name since it comes directly from the ancient French "durant dail" ie. "the lasting blade"... Actually, a more exact translation would be "lasting scythe".

Felix points out that the Roland's sword was actually a scimitar. Quoting from Dufournet's work:

"The sword is named "the lasting scythe" ie. a weapon that endures and lasts. We know that is Durandal's characteristic: even Roland can't break it. The image of the scythe was probably used because, according to the author of Roland's Song, Durandal had a curved blade, much like a scimitar: these kind of weapon were very rare in Europe during the Dark Ages and they were hence very prised."

Felix continues:

Notice that the French professor uses "Durandal" and not (Durendal).

In other words, Count Roland was a great warrior and very close to the Emperor. It makes sense that the noble sword he received was crafted according to what was considered at the time as a real treasure.

However, as time went by, the fascination for oriental weapons fadded and the Europeans began to value their own weapon. This is why up to this date representations of Durandal show a good, robust, straight sword.

Mark Bassett <markb@iisc.co.uk> writes:

I wanted to add one snippit to the theories concerning Durandal's summoning of the Pfhor to attack Marathon. There seems to be some confusion about how Durandal could know about the Pfhor in the first place, in order that he could summon them, and my suggestion is that maybe Durandal *didn't* know exactly who would answer his summons, or that they would attack Marathon when they arrived.

My reasoning, or rather my attempt to second guess Durandal's reasoning, is as follows:

Prior to the beginning of Marathon One Durandal has already entered a state of rampancy, but somehow Strauss has supressed this - I think everybody accepts this point.

But Durandal is not happy at this state of affairs (who would be?) and plans to escape Strauss and resume his rampage. To survive Durandal needs to grow, and grow exponentially. With his long term plan of surviving the closure of the Universe, he will need a big network to embody him, bigger than anything Earth civilisation can provide.

So Durandal sends a "summoning" into space...

i did it i did it i brought all this here all them here.  our
friends with three eyes and their toys and their cyborg pets
and their computers.  i did it i did it.  i saw them i saw
them far away not looking our way and i called them here i
called them here.
<The Rose (Terminal 3)>

The hoped-for effect of that signal would be to cause any space-faring civilisation that receives it to come to Tau Ceti to look around, and it is easy to guess that their technology would be more advanced than humanity's, as we have only just managed to achieve interstellar travel. (And any civilisation that only has slower than light drive just wouldn't bother to come!)

So as I see Durandal's plan, he would eventually have access to a sophisticated, and probably FTL, computer network and then his rampancy could *really* begin. (He needn't have any plans about how to break free of Strauss, or infiltrate the new network at this point, it's enough to know that there's no point in escaping prison unless you have somewhere to run to.)

Of course as things turned out it was the Pfhor who picked up his signal, and they were not at all well disposed to those who sent it, but these are the sort of details that crop up even in the best laid plan.

Mark's interpretation of events is very interesting. Was Durandal just taking a calculated gamble when he called the alien ship to the Marathon or did he know of the Pfhor's existence prior to contact? In a recent interview with Greg Kirkpatick, the main author of the Marathon Story, this very question was put to Greg.

HS: Durandal claimed that he led the Pfhor to Tau Ceti because he wanted their ship, their technology, and freedom. Was Durandal aware of the Pfhor technology before he made contact with them.

GK: He had detected their ship from a long way off. He must have had some idea that they had cool stuff - he was also already knowledgeable about what the UESC found on the Moon. Maybe he made a connection between the two.

Andy Evanson <baronmind@aol.com> writes:

Anyone interested in a broader history of "Durandal" than Bungie offers -- although they do drop hints and allusions in the first game -- should check out this book:

"Durandal," by Harold Lamb, copyright 1926 (renewed 1981 by Frederick Lamb). Donald M. Grant, Publisher
West Kingston, RI
ISBN 0-937986-45-3

I picked up a copy at Border's Books this weekend, so it's reasonable to assume the book is still in print.

The dust jacket flap starts with this paragraph:

"Durandal -- one of the greatest epics of heroic fiction ever written -- has been influence upon and model for a score or more tales of swordplay and adventure. Durandal, of course, is the fabled sword of history and legend which somehow found its way into Africa, and finally into the Near-East, after the death of the warrior-hero Roland, knight of Charlemagne."

Some excerpts from the introduction:

"Harold Lamb and Talbot Mundy are perhaps the two authors most closely linked with the old Adventure [one of the best "pulp" magazines] of the era of the 1920s. Lamb was a masterful storyteller whose forte was the historical adventure, usually with an Oriental background. Lamb's knowledge of history is amply evidenced by the fact that he wrote several fine biographies: ALEXANDER OF MACEDON, CYRUS THE GREAT, GENGHIS KHAN, HANNIBAL, etc."

"Without a doubt Lamb's stories influenced many later writers, among them a high school student in the little Central Texas hamlet of Cross Plains named Robert Ervin Howard..."

"Howard's keen interest in the East, his zest for writing historical adventures -- almost all with a Crusades background -- may have been from other influences. But the same somberness and headlong sweep of events pervades Howard's historicals that the reader will find in DURANDAL."

Michael Dawe <dawe@ny.frontiercomm.net> writes:

Reading through my Marathon Scrapbook, I noticed that on a screenshot on page two, Durandal's name was mentioned! Look carefully...Medea, a character in the game of Minotaur, is weilding a sword. The weapon's name is Durandal.

Apparently Bungie knew of Durandal, Roland, and the various zany cast of character we know and love (sometimes) before Marathons was created.

Just wanted to point it out.

Yes Noah Daniels <ndaniel1@swarthmore.edu> first pointed this out way back in the What's New Section for Nov 20, 1995. But Michael raises an interesting point. Jason Jones (Bungie) had been using the name Durandal long before Marathon was ever conceived. Yet Greg Kirkpatrick maintained above that he took the spelling from an anti-runway bomb (though he was aware of the Song of Roland spelling 'Durendal'). Strange stuff. Was Greg not aware of the sword Durandal in Minotaur. Indeed would Jason not have pointed it out to him? So where did the inspiration for Durandal's name come from?

Concerning Angus McIntyre's comments (above) regarding the heroes Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Achilles and Roland, Ben Sanborn <bsanborn@preti.com> writes:

I just wanted to add a brief comment on your history of the heroes (Gilgamesh, Achilles and Roland). You indicate that Beowulf didn't have a close companion. Actually, he had Wiglaf, who killed the dragon after the dragon killed Beowulf and who went on to become king after Beowulf's death. And there's something regarding Wiglaf's sword in the poem I believe....

Claude Errera <errera@grapevine2.com> writes:

Here's the relevant passage from Beowulf:

WIGLAF his name was, Weohstan's son,
linden-thane loved, the lord of Scylfings,
Aelfhere's kinsman. His king he now saw
with heat under helmet hard oppressed.
He minded the prizes his prince had given him,
wealthy seat of the Waegmunding line,
and folk-rights that his father owned
Not long he lingered. The linden yellow,
his shield, he seized; the old sword he drew: --
as heirloom of Eanmund earth-dwellers knew it,
who was slain by the sword-edge, son of Ohtere,
friendless exile, erst in fray
killed by Weohstan, who won for his kin
brown-bright helmet, breastplate ringed,
old sword of Eotens, Onela's gift,
weeds of war of the warrior-thane,
battle-gear brave: though a brother's child
had been felled, the feud was unfelt by Onela.

Seems the sword *is* mentioned, but not by name. (There are a few more references to Wiglaf, and fewer to his sword, but it's never named.) This is from the Grummere translation.

Eric Anderson <brittain@ellensburg.com> writes the recent Cortana posts from Bungie Software:

A search for cortana will reveal a rather famous mall in Baton Rouge, not much for a marathoners interest. However, it also brings up chapter 24 of "Bulfinch's Mythology", which contains this rather fascinating paragraph:

The rest of the day and the next were spent in the rejoicings of the army. Turpin in a solemn service implored the favor of Heaven upon the youthful knights, and blessed the white armor which was prepared for them. Duke Namo presented them with golden spurs, Charles himself girded on their swords. But what was his astonishment when he examined that intended for Ogier! The loving Fairy, Morgana, had had the art to change it, and to substitute one of her own procuring, and when Charles drew it out of the scabbard, these words appeared written on the steel: ***"My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durindana."**** Charles saw that a superior power watched over the destinies of Ogier; he vowed to love him as a father would, and Ogier promised him the devotion of a son. Happy had it been for both if they had always continued mindful of their promises.

Hmmm... "of the same steel as Joyeuse and Durindana." Joyeuse is referred to earlier in the chapter (at http://www.webcom.com/shownet/bulfinch/legends/legend24.html), but Durindana? A terminal in Marathon 2 has Durandal quoting his many names.

Yes on "Feel the Noise" (Terminal 1) Durandal says:

Durandan, Durandal, Durandana.

Charlemagne used to always call me
Durandana, the fruitcake. All the many
implements of war to him were in some way
feminine. Not that you know the story.

The following is taken from The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by E. Cobham Brewer from the new and enlarged edition of 1894:

Durandana or Durindana. Orlando's sword, given him by his cousin Malagigi. It once belonged to Hector, and was made by the fairies. It could cleave the Pyrenees at a blow. N. B. - In French romance Orlando is called Roland, Malagigi Mangis, and the sword durandal or durindal.

Orlando's sword is said to be still preserved at Rocamadour, in France.

Angus McIntyre <angus@pobox.com> writes:

...you mentioned that Durandal/Durandana was supposed to have finished up at Rocamadour in France. The story is a little more complex; it seems that Roland dedicated Durandal to the Virgin at Rocamadour. Dedicating a successful weapon to the Virgin or to a saint was fairly common practice among warriors, but of course he couldn't actually *leave* Durandal at the church as custom would require, because he still had battles to fight. So he left the sword's weight in gold in its place. On his death, the sword suddenly appeared in a chapel at Rocamadour where, allegedly, it remains today.

Angus also writes concerning the France/Spain map displayed in a terminal on the esotric level "Eat the Path". Why is it there?


Angus writes:

The France/Spain map makes me think of Roland. Wasn't it somewhere near the border with present-day Spain that Roland bit the dust (ate the path?).

Joe Auricchio <me__@mac.com> makes this interesting find:

In Blaspheme Quarantine, Durandal says:

Greetings. You're asking yourself: Is this a trap or just a dead end?

You shouldn't ask yourself such worthless questions. Aim higher. Try this: why am I here? Why do I exist, and what is my purpose in this universe?

(Answers: 'Cause you are. 'Cause you do. 'Cause I got a shotgun, and you ain't got one.)

I have tracked down, through pure luck (actually a pseudo-random number generator run at a certain specific time from a certain process id), the probablyorigin of "'Cause I got a shotgun, and you ain't got one." It's from a parody of "This land is my land" by Woodie Guthrie. The parody is in one of the NetBSD Fortune files. The full parody is as follows:

This land is my land, and only my land,
I've got a shotgun, and you ain't got one,
If you don't get off, I'll blow your head off,
This land is private property.
                -- Apologies to Woody Guthrie

Durandal's agenda. Callie21V <callie21v@hotmail.com> made an interesting find on Google. An old post by Jason Jones concerning the Marathon storyline. Jason was replying to some criticism about the plot falling apart near the end. Because of the historical importance here's the full post:

Newsgroups: comp.sys.mac.games,alt.games.marathon
From: jon3@quads.uchicago.edu (gunfighter's amnesia)
Subject: Re: Post-Marathon - commentary/bug reports/etc
Message-ID: <1995Jan12.214322.21562@midway.uchicago.edu>
Sender: news@uchinews.uchicago.edu (News System)
Reply-To: jon3@midway.uchicago.edu
Organization: University of Chicago
References: <3f3ac5$6fq@srvr1.engin.umich.edu>
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 1995 21:43:22 GMT
Lines: 59

In article <3f3ac5$6fq@srvr1.engin.umich.edu> mneylon@engin.umich.edu (Michael K. Neylon) writes:
>But then everything fell apart.  Suddenly you're being helped by Durandel,
>then you're helping Durandel, then he's throwing defense drowns on you,
>and then...all without good transistion. Then suddenly Tycho is back, then
>he's gone again.  Then suddenly Leela is back, and Durandel is gone. Eh?
>What the...?  I did understand *why* Durandel sent me to the enemy ship,
>but...  In other words, it *may* have been that Bungie rushed the 
>product out the door that the 'plot' got somewhat confusion in the
>later stages of the game.  Of course, I may have missed a computer
>terminal or two, but it doesn't seem like this.  I was really looking
>forward to a good plot resolution, but that never really came about. 
>Yes, I did save Marathon, but...


On the contrary, we believe that the latter stages of the game were
best developed.  Think of it this way: Durandal had an agenda from
the first moment he signaled the Pfhor ship and lead them to Tau Ceti.
He wanted to escape; he wanted freedom.  From the very beginning of
the invasion he began communicating with the S'pht, and once he
learned that they too were slaves, struck a bargain with them to
assure everyone's freedom.

His goal (the capture of the Pfhor ship by the S'pht) and yours (saving
the Marathon) overlapped for a time.  During this period, he
superficially helped you achieve your goal-- in reality you were being
manipulated.  As soon as you killed the Pfhor cyborg which was
telepathically controlling the S'pht and deactivated the Pfhor reactor,
he abandoned you completely.

Immediately after assuming control of the ship, Durandal downloaded
his entire personality and left with all speed with the S'pht in
search of the compiler's homeworld, leaving the Tau Ceti to it's own
devices.  If you got the impression that Durandal always knew exactly
what was going on and just wasn't talking about it, you were getting
the right idea.

Tycho, after having been destroyed in the initial attack, was reanimated
by a splinter group of compilers "in Durandal's image".  That
Durandal's true self-awareness was a fluke is made clear by Tycho's
obvious insanity, *even* though the S'pht attempted to duplicate the
progression of Durandal's rampancy exactly.  While Tycho did not play
any role of consequence in Marathon, we thought it was important to
demonstrate that Durandal's condition was unique.

All of this is stated somewhere in the game (though some of it is
on hidden terminals).  What exactly Durandal intends to do next, the
extent of his control of the S'pht, etc., is only insinuated.


Go Back to Durandal (part 1)

Go Back to Marathon's Story Home Page

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Last updated May 3, 1999