The Jjaro

"The Jjaro were a mysterious race that disappeared from our galaxy millions of years ago..."

Jim MacLeod <> writes concerning the Jjaro and the S'pht legend of Yrro and Pthia. Jim provides evidence to suggest that Yrro and Pthia were of the Jjaro race and that they created the S'pht to terraform Lh'owon then later granted it to them. Jim writes:

...the S'pht are not sentient without their cyber-implants"

Only I grasped the significance of the
dissection of some of the captives. These
creatures, repugnant as they are, are
sentient, and yet their bodies are not
bonded to any mechanisms. They can survive
without their armor and their staffs.

Until now, sentience had always required
cyber-organic symbiosis. All of our
science has led to this conclusion.

We can even give our pets sentience with
cyber-organic implants. Yet, these vile
conquerors are sentient without any machinations.

This leads to debate. Perhaps our own
sentience is induced by the birthing
operation, and that at some time, we were
no more sentient than a F'lickta.

If such a fundamental assumption of our
kind is wrong, then perhaps the myths were
true, and we were actual servants of Yrro and Pthia.

Perhaps they built us, or we were part of a
larger group who came to Lh'owon.

Alas, I fear that we will never know these

<The Hard Stuff Rules... (Terminal 2)>

Jim continues:

So who created the cyber-implants in the first place? The Jjaro had such technology:"

But the Pfhor found much that they were
unable to exploit, and they destroyed all
known traces of these technologies after a
foolhardy Pfhor scientist implanted a Jjaro
cybernetic junction into a Drinniol,
causing the most terrible and destructive
slave revolt in Pfhor history.

<For Carnage, Apply Within (Terminal 1)>

Jim writes further:

Yrro and Pthia made sisters for Lh'owon to protect and maintain the paradise:

Fleeing all W'rkncacnter, Yrro and Pthia
settled upon Lh'owon. They brought the
S'pht, servants who began to shape the
deserts of Lh'owon into marsh and sea,
rivers and forests. They made sisters for
Lh'owon to protect and maintain the paradise.

<Six Thousand Feet Under (Terminal 4)>

Jim maintains that as the Jjaro had the technology to move planets it is possible that they folded Lh'owon's three sisters into orbit around Lh'owon. On "For Carnage, Apply Within" Tycho tells us:

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.

<For Carnage, Apply Within (Terminal 1)>

Indeed this very technology allowed the S'pht'Kr to escape Lh'owon. The S'pht history terminal on "Eat It, Vid Boi!" tells us:

When once S'pht fought in brutal combat,
when hatred burned the tissues of one's
enemy, one clan, the S'pht'Kr, reclusive
and solitary, abandoned Lh'owon.

The clan went forth and up, stopping on
K'lia the third sister of Lh'owon, to
build a new home, free from their warring

For a thousand and one orbits, the clan was
forgotten, a memory lost upon the
battlefield smoke, until the all powerful
Yrro sent K'lia out to the stars.

<Eat It, Vid Boi! (Terminal 2: 1st message)>

As Jim remarks:

Easy come, easy go, especially with the help of Jjaro technology.

Interesting to note that the word "Drinniol" also appears in Marathon 1 in conjunction with the Hulks.

The Hulk is an enormous and rather slow creature, but it is
incredibly strong. The science report indicated that it had
no body fat, and therefore had to be fed often to keep it
active. One crew member reported seeing one of these
creatures pointing to itself and mumbling "Drinniol" right
before it "picked Johnny up by the shirt and crushed him
against a pillar".

<Defend THIS! (Terminal 4)>

Was "the most terrible and destructive slave revolt in Pfhor history" carried out by Hulks fitted with Jjaro cybernetic junctions?

Jeremy Condit <> kindly provides the background to the Jjaro in Bungie's earlier game Pathways into Darkness.

Jeremy writes:

The only text in Pathways referring to the Jjaro is in the introduction in the manual:


The alien projection appeared in the early Spring of 1994, flickering suddenly into existence deep within the Pentagon in Washinton, D.C. The hologram of the Jjaro diplomat interrupted, quite deliberately, an important briefing of the President by his senior military staff. It told them they had eight days to save the world.

No one outside the six men present that day knows exactly what was said in the hours that followed; only that a Special Forces Team, armed to the teeth, was immediately afterwards ordered to paradrop near the site of an ancient asteroid impact in the Yucatan Peninsula.


Sixty-four million years ago, a large extra-terrestrial object struck the Earth in what would later be called the Yucatan Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico. The dust and rock thrown up by the resulting explosion caused enormous climactic changes in the ensuing years, and many of the Earth's species became extinct during the long winter that followed.

The object itself was buried thousands of feet below ground, its nearly two kilometer length remarkably intact. It remained there, motionless, for thousands of years before it finally began to stir-- and to dream. It was a member of a race whose history began when the Milky Way was still a formless collection of dust and gas-- a powerful race of immortals which had quickly grown bored of their tiny universe and nearly exterminated themselves in war.

This particular being, whose name no human throat will ever learn to pronounce, was part of the cataclysmic battle that formed Magellanic Clouds, billions of years ago. It died there, or it came as close to dying as these things can, and drifted aimlessly for millions of light years before striking the Earth.

The heat of impact liquified the rock around it, which later cooled and encased the dead god's huge body far below ground. As it began to dream, it wrought unintentional changes in its environment. Locked deep beneath the Earth, strange and unbelievable things faded in and out of reality. Vast caverns and landscapes bubbled to life within the rock, populated by horrible manifestations of the dead god's dream.

Only during the last few centuries has the god begun to effect changes on the surface of the Earth. Grotesque creatures have been sighted deep in the trackless forest of the Yucatan, and strange rumors of an ancient pyramid-- which is neither Aztec nor Mayan-- in the same area have been circulating in the archaeological community since the early 1930's.

The god is awakening.


Though the god can never be killed, the projection of the Jjaro dignitary told us here on Earth that if we acted quickly we could prevent it from awakening. To do this, however, someone was going to have to carry a low-yield nuclear device down to the god's body and detonate it there. This would not only stun the dreaming god, but further bury it under millions of tons of rock.

The Jjaro claim to have made an extensive survey of the Earth's technology, and maintain that this is the only way. More permanent measures will be taken by the aliens themselves (who are already on their way) when they arrive in two and a half Earth years.

The aliens have provided us with a great deal of intelligence on the strange pyramid in the Yucatan, and the catacombs below it. This information has been compiled into this briefing, and has been presented to you and every other member of the assault team. Good luck.

Jeremy continues:

The rest of the text only provides mission information and does not provide any other Jjaro information aside from the dignitary's name (Ryu'Toth).

Thus in Pathways into Darkness the Jjaro feature in Earth's history in 1994. Yet in Marathon 2 Tycho tells us that:

The Jjaro were a mysterious race that
disappeared from our galaxy millions of
years ago, leaving behind military and
civilian outposts on the moons of many
habitable worlds. Most of the Pfhor's
technology was plundered from sites
abandoned by the Jjaro.

<For Carnage, Apply Within (Terminal 1)>

Jeremy offers a possible explanation for this apparent temporal discrepancy suggesting that the information that both Tycho and Durandal have on the Jjaro... strictly from the perspective of the Pfhor. All Durandal and Tycho know of the Jjaro is that they disappeared from the Pfhor's galaxy millions of years ago. Indeed, it is possible (even likely) that any information concerning the Jjaro's visit to Earth in the 1990's would have been classified by the American government; it would not necessarily have been included in a Marathon AI's history files.

The Jjaro must have abandoned the Pfhor region of the galaxy millions of years ago, as Tycho related, only to find themselves closer to Earth itself. The fact is that the Jjaro existed elsewhere in the universe up until the year 2000, if not longer. For all we know they may still be extant elsewhere in the Marathon/PID universe.

We might offer another possible explanation. The Jjaro diplomat that appeared before the President in 1994 was a "hologram" and not a real entity. Furthermore the Jjaro hologram claimed that the Jjaro themselves were already on their way to Earth and would "arrive in two and a half Earth years". This seems an inordinately long time to take for a race that could "warp entire planets between solar systems". If the Jjaro were already on their way to Earth why would it take them two and a half Earth years to arrive? Surely it would only take them a matter of hours or at most several days to reach Earth with a FTL drive? Unless of course they had NOT only disappeared from our galaxy millions of years ago, as Tycho tells us, but also from our Universe. Could they not have travelled a distance so far away from Earth that it would take even the Jjaro two and a half Earth years to get back? Could they not have left a pre-programmed hologram message to appear before the Earth's President (or other major dominant power at the time) to warn the Earth of the impending crisis and a means to avert it? Of course giving us only eight days to save the Earth is cutting it a bit fine! But that's the stuff we thrive on.

Many thanks also to Dennis Keeler <> for sending a transcribed version of the introductory text to Pathways into Darkness . Dennis' version included the mission information details. Although this does not add any further information about the Jjaro I've included it for the sake of completeness.


Ryu'Toth, the Jjaro representative, appeared via hologram in the Pentagon at 1500 hours (3:00 PM) on Thursday May 5, 1994. You and the rest of the assault team will be dropped from a C-151 transport over the Yucatan shortly after 0200 (2:00 AM) on Sunday May 8. This leaves five days before the dreaming god awakes, sometime on the afternoon on the following Friday.

In addition to weapons and ammunition, your squad of eight men will carry a small, low-yield nuclear device and three radio beacons. The bomb must be placed at the lowest point you are able to descend into the god's tunnels. Detonation can be delayed as long as forty-eight hours by the bomb's timer, but should under not circumstances occur after 1400 (2:00 PM) on Friday.

Upon returning to the surface, triggering any one of the radio beacons will signal the extraction team to pick you up. Ten minutes are required from the time the extraction team signal is given to the time the helicopters arrive at the pyramid. Allow an additional ten minutes for the helicopters to reach minimum safe distance from the explosion of the nuclear device you have been given.

Dennis writes further

The PiD text says that only 6 people actually saw the Jjaro diplomat, so perhaps only those six plus your team (and only you live) are the only ones that know about them. 2.5 years later, the Jjaro could use their planet warping technology to beam out the alien god from a distance, so that the general public never learned of the incident. The US gov't decides to keep the whole thing secret. But I imagine this important information would be passed down from leader to leader through the years. Perhaps Durandal knew of the Jjaro before ever leaving Sol."

Dennis then goes onto to suggest that this would support the theory that Durandal knew about the Pfhor before leaving Earth and sent a message to them. Perhaps the Jjaro secretly warned Earth about the rise of the Pfhor Empire.

Indeed Dennis's speculations have some basis. When we arrive at Lh'owon in 2811 we learn from Durandal that:

Over a thousand years ago, Lh'owon was all
but destroyed during the war in which the
Pfhor enslaved the S'pht. It is fitting
that we should return here to look for a
tool to use against them.

Waterloo Waterpark (Terminal 1: 2nd message)

Thus the Pfhor must have enslaved the S'pht some time around 1811 AD. The Jjaro may have been aware of this. Not wishing to involve themselves directly with the Pfhor/S'pht conflict [why?] they may have left the seeds for our later involvement.

As Dennis concludes

...perhaps they have even greater plans for you and Durandal".

Indeed, as the final screen in Marathon 2 relates:

When Durandal returned to Sol it was not with the captured Khfiva but in a Jjaro dreadnought he called Manus Celer Dei. What he learned of the Jjaro he told no one, saying only that he had stopped by to assure that Earth did not forget him.

(Marathon 2 Final Screen)

Dennis Keeler <> and Jeremy Condit <> both provide the credits for Pathways into Darkness. Although no actual story writer is credited it is interesting to note that Greg Kirkpatrick is thanked.

Product Design and Programming by Jason Jones
Graphics by Colin Brent
Manual by Alexander Seropian and Jason Jones
Box Art by Phil Candela and Colin Brent

Special Thanks: Greg Kirkpatrick, Nick DiCrescenzo, John Dawson, Craig Fryar, Julia Trice, Laura Feddersen, Ed Stelow, Dan Meltz, Ron Haidenger, Don Zamora, Julie Ross, and Mom and Dad!

Dennis Keeler <> also writes to say that the hologram of the Jjaro diplomat was unlikely to have been pre-recorded given the fact that the Jjaro knew about Earth's present technological capabilities. This would suggest that they were somehow keeping a close eye on our development even though they appeared to be a long way off.

Manfred <> writes concerning the possible role of the Jjaro in the S'pht origin. Manfred points out that on "Charon doesn't make change" there is a Pfhor terminal that discusses the F'lickta. Part of the text reads:

Our scientific studies have revealed that
these creatures are genetic ancestors of
the S'pht, although in morphological terms
this is absurd.

<Charon Doesn't Make Change (Terminal 4)>

Manfred continues: perform the birthing operation would require sentinence, and hence someone else must have performed the first of these at the beginning. How about the Jjaro, specifically Yrro and Pthia, took some of the F'lickta, and added some cybernetic implants to make the first S'pht, who then became sentinent and could recreate themselves. That would explain the above text, and give more support to the Jjaro creating S'pht theory.

Simon Rowland <> writes to suggest that the hologram of the Jjaro diplomat (Ryu'Toth) which appeared before the President could have been transmitted from a nearby Jjaro outpost.

The Jjaro were a mysterious race that
disappeared from our galaxy millions of
years ago, leaving behind military and
civilian outposts on the moons of many habitable worlds.

<For Carnage, Apply Within (Terminal 1)>

Could a Jjaro outpost be located on our own moon? Could the Jjaro have use this abandoned outpost to somehow remotely monitor Earth's development and at a time of crisis warn Earth via a projected image?

We might extend this idea to Mars. Our present knowledge about Mars would indicate that in its early history it may have been able to support life. Could the Jjaro have left an outpost on either Demios or Phobos?

And why is there "no completely satisfactory theory as to how Deimos and Phobos came to be in orbit around Mars."? [Bill Arnett, The Nine Planets: A Multimedia Tour of the Solar System, 1995]

Eylon Caspi <> writes:

It seems that the Jjaro used to enslave other races, same as the Pfhor... Durandal says:

The Pfhor invasion of Sol has been
recalled, and for now Earth is safe. But
man's respite from war means another
cataclysmic battle for the S'pht. The
slavers have not suffered a defeat like the
one we handed them today since the Nakh,
the last extant client race of the Jjaro,
rebelled six thousand years ago.

<All Roads Lead To Sol... (Terminal 1)>

The Nakh were a "client race of the Jjaro" who somehow fell into the hands of the Pfhor 6000+ years ago... I suspect that the S'pht shared a similar fate as the Nakh. Yrro brought the S'pht to Lh'owon to terraform the planet surface - they were essentially a client race. If Yrro was Jjaro, then the S'pht were indeed a Jjaro client race.

Simon Rowland <> writes suggesting that the W'rkncacnter may be a S'pht word for Jjaro. Simon draws similarities between the S'pht'Kr fleeing the battling S'pht clans on Lh'owon and Yrro and Pthia fleeing all W'rkncacnter. Both Yrro and Pthia appear to be peace loving members of a violent race much like the S'pht'Kr. Indeed the S'pht'Kr may have been specially favoured by Yrro because they reminded him of himself. When the W'rkncacnter arrive at Lh'owon they are powerful enough to kill Pthia and escape Yrro's vengeance. If Yrro and Pthia are of the Jjaro race as we assume (see above) it is possible that the W'rkncacnter are also Jjaro.

Juan Mares Martin <> writes:

I have noted an ongoing discussion on the nature of the Jjaro, and Yrro and Pthia. I would like to remark that here we are dealing with mythic and semi-religious knowledge, probably dating from the earliest periods of the S'pht civilization. Mythic histories (whether based on fact or not) generally undergone heavy distortion as the result of the intervening years or centuries, but in this case we are probably speaking about millions of years (64 millions of years?).

My theory is quite simple: that the names Yrro and Jjaro are in fact just two forms of the same word or name. If you look closely, both words have similar phonetics (as long as we assume English pronunciation, and longer consonants represented by double signs, we can assume very close sounds for "y" and "j"): both begin with a similar sound, and have an "r" sound as the only other consonant. Maybe this sounds bizarre but we do come across similar situations every day. I can suggest a number of scenarios in which this could have happened:

1.-Yrro being an archaic form of the word Jjaro, preserved only for ritual and/or religious texts or ceremonies.

2.-Both words are two different transliterations of the same S'pht term. We could assume a good number of sounds of the S'pht language as impossible to be pronounced by a human throat, so in the process of translation, the symbols must be translated for those consonants or vowels that are more closer in its sound, but there are probably several choices for some of the S'pht sounds, so different translators could reach to quite different transliterations of the same name. If fact there is a very close example of this in the Old Testaments: the names Yaweh (or Yave) and Jehovah are just two different transliterations of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, used commonly to represent the true name of God without directly spelling it. As most Hebrew consonants have no exact equivalents in the western alphabet different translators of the Bible can reached very different results depending on their background educations. It is not absurd to suppose that we are facing a similar scenario here, with one of the versions (Yrro) provided by the S'pht history terminals through the S'pht translator, and the second (Jjaro) coming to us via a Jjaro diplomat.

3.-Maybe the word Jjaro was the original name in the Jjaro language (we can accept this as the hologram in Pathways into Darkness does introduce himself as a Jjaro diplomat), and the form Yrro is the S'pht form of the same word.

4.-Yrro could be an intentional variation of the word Jjaro, applied to a mythic figure of the S'pht Mythos.

There may be many other explanations, and people are free to take which one most pleases them..."

Would the Jjaro and the S'pht have a common language base?

Juan continues:

"I think this is not only possible, but highly probable. If Yrro (the Jjaro) did give sentience to the S'pht (as we suspect) why would he (they) give them a different language? Much more logical to give them a language close to his (their) own, so making communication easier?"

But what does this all mean?

Juan continues:

...if Yrro and Jjaro are in fact one and the same name, maybe the text in terminal 4 of Six Thousand Feet Under has a slightly different meaning from what was originally thought; bear in mind that these are just myths, not a faithful description of the facts. In this scenario, Yrro could be just an impersonation, in a single mythic figure, of the whole of the Jjaro race. If so then Pthia was perhaps another impersonation, a different race? But lets read the terminal assuming for a moment that all this is correct:

In primordial space, timeless creatures
made waves. These waves created us and the
others. Waves were the battles, and the
battles were waves.

Obviously, the narrator is writing about things he never actually saw and which he probably does not even fully understand. He seems to be using heavy symbolism and metaphors to explain something which is quite out of reach of his understanding (and probably also ours). Nevertheless, we learn that "these waves created us (the S'pht) and the others (?). Note also that "In primordial space, timeless creatures made waves", not "made a wave", so were each wave a distinct race? Did they begin to fight each other? The narrator continues:

Fleeing all W'rkncacnter, Yrro and Pthia
settled upon Lh'owon. They brought the
S'pht, servants who began to shape the
deserts of Lh'owon into marsh and sea,
rivers and forests. They made sisters for
Lh'owon to protect and maintain the paradise.

So it seems that Yrro (the Jjaro) and (the) Pthia were close allies. Their common enemy was the W'rkncacnter. Fleeing the W'rkncacnter they came to Lh'owon and brought the S'pht with them.

But did they? We know from a Pfhor science terminal that the S'pht were genetically similar to the F'lickta.

Our scientific studies have revealed that
these creatures are genetic ancestors of
the S'pht, although in morphological terms
this is absurd.

<Charon Doesn't Make Change (Terminal 4)>

It has been suggested (above) that the S'pht were created from the F'lickta using Jjaro cybernetic implants. If this is the case then the F'lickta would also of had to be have been brought to Lh'owon. Either that or the S'pht account is incorrect and the S'pht were not brought to Lh'owon. Part of a terminal on "The Hard Stuff Rules" hints at these possibilities.

This leads to debate. Perhaps our own
sentience is induced by the birthing
operation, and that at some time, we were
no more sentient than a F'lickta.

If such a fundamental assumption of our
kind is wrong, then perhaps the myths were
true, and we were actual servants of Yrro
and Pthia.

Perhaps they built us, or we were part of a
larger group who came to Lh'owon.

Alas, I fear that we will never know these things.

<The Hard Stuff Rules... (Terminal 2)>

The line "Perhaps they built us, or we were part of a larger group who came to Lh'owon." suggests two possible origins. Either the S'pht were created on Lh'owon from the native F'lickta or both the F'lickta and S'pht (the larger group?) were brought to Lh'owon.

Juan points out that the former hypothesis is difficult to sustain because the F'lickta appear to be primarily marsh or wetland creatures (though some are not adversed to lava). Before Lh'owon was terraformed it was a desert world. Thus it is unlikely that the F'lickta were native creatures. When Lh'owon reverted to a near waterless desert following the Pfhor invasion the F'lickta seemingly survived by living in caves.

Concerning the actual S'pht creation Juan asks whether it is more reasonable to assume that the creation of a new sentient species was undertaken by a whole race (the Jjaro) rather than by a single individual (Yrro)?

Juan goes on to point out that in terraforming Lh'owon moons were warped in. We know from what Tycho told us about the Pfhor records that the Jjaro left "behind military and civilian outposts on the moons of many habitable worlds". K'lia would appear to have had such an outpost. The military nature of these outposts suggests that they were designed to forecast the arrival of the Jjaro's enemy.

When the W'rkncacnter came, Pthia was
killed, and Yrro in anger, flung the
W'rkncacnter into the sun. The sun burned
them, but they swam on its surface.

Juan writes:

Let us stetch our imagination. Could (the) Pthia have been on duty at one or more of these military outposts when the W'rkncacnter attacked? When (the) Pthia was (were) killed Yrro (the Jjaro) became enraged and counterattacked. He (they) "flung the W'rkncacnter into the sun" (were thermonuclear explosions used or something far worse?), While the W'rkncacnter were defeated they were by no means exterminated ("the sun burned them but they swam on its surface")."

Juan's interpretation is interesting. Could this be a description of the Jjaro's "trih xeem". From a distance a fleet of ships escaping an exploding star might look like they were swimming on the sun's surface. Of course such an event could not have occurred in or anywhere near Lh'owon's system.

Juan continues:

Angered by his (their) failure, and probably fearing the eventual return of their enemies, Yrro (the Jjaro) depart Lh'owon leaving behind their servant race, probably because they were no longer of much use and would be a burden in such a massive exodus:

Yrro became an angry master, bleeding for
his failure, grieving for the loss of
Pthia. He broke the S'pht into eleven
clans, and spread them over Lh'owon.

And he spoke, yet covered in blood from his

"I Yrro, who was your master, have failed
to preserve you. Take your royalty to
guide you, and live upon the paradise that
you built for me."

These last words are in fact quite interesting. Admission of failure and transference of authority to the S'pht's royalty. Was this the last farewell of the Jjaro, before they vanished from our universe?

Millions of years ago.

Juan finally writes:

...what kind of creature was buried under the Yucatan Peninsula, a W'rkncacnter perhaps?. This could explain the interest the Jjaro had in the matter. Why would a race who vanished millions of years ago take the trouble to leave behind a prerecorded message warning us about this danger? And speaking on this, has someone noted that the name of the Jjaro diplomat is Ryu'Toth? This name seems to have strong S'pht-like resonances (especially the apostrophe sign, so common in S'pht names), but also the second part of the name is _Toth_, almost identical to the name of the S'pht AI.

Actually yes. Matthew Smith <> some time ago not only pointed out that the name "Toth" was similar to "Thoth" but that the word "Ryu" was Japanese for style, method, or form. Just another intesting tidbit that never made it on the page. I wonder why? Oddly I can't exactly remember...

Concerning Juan Mares Martin's interpretation above Noah Schabacker <> writes: occurred to me that the "waves" talked about in the terminals and his [Juan's] hypothesis would probably be waves of colonization. Sometimes when sci-fi writers talk about different periods in future human history, the speak about events happening during the 'fist wave of colonization'. Could not the S'pht have been created by the Jjaro for much the same purpose as the robots in Isaac Asimov's books? I.e. the terraforming of currently inhospitable planets. A synopsis of what occurs is: First _wave_ of colonization carried out by 'Spacers'. Using robots the 'Spacers' colonize fifty planets. Within a few centuries, the so-called 'Spacers' begin dying off because the robots do everything for them, leaving them with nothing to do. The 'Spacers' become terminally bored and just start dying off. The people of Earth decide it's time to expand, and the second, greater _wave_ of colonization occurs. Could it be that something of the sort happened with the Jjaro?

Noah makes a valid point. The original S'pht were designed(?) for terraforming.

Fleeing all W'rkncacnter, Yrro and Pthia
settled upon Lh'owon. They brought the
S'pht, servants who began to shape the
deserts of Lh'owon into marsh and sea,
rivers and forests. They made sisters for
Lh'owon to protect and maintain the paradise.

<Six Thousand Feet Under (Terminal 4)>

Jjaro technology was used to fold in planets to help the terraforming process.

The F'lickta also seem to fit into this picture as they have a maintenance/cleaning role.

We are leaving behind many F'lickta to keep
the ducts clean and working. They should
be able to build one of their stable
societies here- there is plenty of food.

<Charon Doesn't Make Change (Terminal 8)>

It has also been suggested above that the F'lickta were unlikely to be native Lh'owon creatures. Thus they may be part of the terraforming process.

Were the Jjaro ancient colonists seeking new worlds in the Milky Way galaxy?

How could the Jjaro have been monitoring Earth when they had supposedly disappeared from our galaxy millions of years ago and were far enough away to take them two and a half Earth years to reach Sol.

The Jjaro claim to have made an extensive survey of the Earth's technology, and maintain that this is the only way. More permanent measures will be taken by the aliens themselves (who are already on their way) when they arrive in two and a half Earth years.

(Pathways Into Darkness Manual)

Were the Jjaro monitoring Earth from so far away? Or maybe from some remote moon?

David Cornwell <> offers another explanation. David writes:

Apparently someone forgot that the Jjaro were the ones who built the chips that give sentience to nonsentient beings. They could easly have written a program that would monitor Earth then create an appropriate hologram.

Were we being monitored by something or someone on Earth itself?

Gabe Rosenkoetter <> writes:

It's always been my personal opinion that the Jjaro, the first truly advanced civilization, seeded the universe with various races in an attempt to create a race similar to themselves and examine its development.

I feel that all the races mentioned in Marathon are some of these, but we don't know very much about the Nar, Drinniol, etcetera, so I'll stick to the big three.

The Pfhor seem to have something of a hive mind mentality (they resemble insects, come in droves, replace the fallen as nothing had happened, and work fairly well together till one gets pissed off and tries to establish its dominance), but that's the only way they come close to the Jjaro.

The Humans (Humen?) are individual thinkers, but work on a higher (mental) level than the Pfhor and were capable of creating cyborgs (the player) and AIs (duh).

The S'pht come the closest, combining technological and organic components, but, more importantly, bearing a "collective consciousness" - a cross between the Humans' intelligent but individualistic thought and the Pfhor's hive consciousness.

Those are in developmental (sort of) order, not chronological. (As far as technological advancement goes, the S'pht were probably first, the Pfhor second, and the humans last.)

(I'm making some assumptions about the Jjaro here based on impressions - not specific evidence, though I could dig it up, if you wish - from terminals especially in Infinity. First, that they are incredibly advanced by the time Humans/Pfhor/S'pht are civilized races and, thus, seem like gods, though they are really organic/AI combinations. Second, that the creation of the cyborg is what resembles the Jjaro - this is born up by Infinity's ending cut scene. Some other more minor stuff too, but those are the major assumptions.)

Brendan Ebner <> writes:

On the recent post by gabe. He has explained the jjaro/human/pfhor/s'pht connection well, but what about the w'rkncacnter? If the jjaro were the first race, then how do w'rkncacnter fit in ? The jjaro seem quite catious of these powerful beings, the space station shielding, their quest to rid earth of the dreaming god, and the fact that pthia was killed by such creatures is proof of their vunlnerability. The w'rkncacnter are very powerful, strong enough to destroy the jjaro. This doesn't sound like the jjaro are some high supreme race that can conquer all.

Gabe Rosenkoetter <> replies to Brendan Ebner's comments above:

I didn't mean to imply quite that. Looking back, I did say "the first truly advanced...," but that was a mistake, for which I apologize. (I guess I could say I meant "the first of the group including the Jjaro, Humans, Pfhor..." but that'd be a pretty lame excuse, eh?)

All I meant is that the Jjaro were around long before Humans, S'pht, Pfhor, Nar, Drinniol, Nebulons, etcetera and that they seeded at least three of those races in an attempt to observe something similar to their own development (which they weren't exactly recording in its prehistorical stages, obviously). Possibly also to play as gods. It's a little difficult to discuss Jjaran motives, though, as we don't know very much about them, only the lasting effects they left behind.

Anyway, it's quite probable that there are older, more dangerous beings around.

Forrest Cameranesi <> writes:

I think that the W'rkncacnter and Jjaro are both the "first races". I think they they represent order and chaos (guess which is which). They were created together in the beginning, and are in constant battle with each other, with the Jjaro trying to maintain the balance of everything, hence Thoth's mission, and the W'rkncacnter just trying to destroy it all, create chaos, giving one side more power than another and so on until everything is dead. They are of equal power, since a Jjaro can trap "the" W'rknacanter (interesting this is, that word seems both plural and singular, hence "the" could mean the entine W'rkncacnter race, or just the specific being in mention), and the W'rkncacnter could kill Pthia (supposedly a Jjaro).

Forrest Cameranesi <> writes:

...going even further out on a limb, I think that the old Jjaro outpost on our moon, the one which they were watching us from, had an AI on it, and perhaps a dead Jjaro cyborg, and this is where we get our AI and cyborganic technology. I could go even further to extrapolate that this could be found in the Tycho crater, and be the "tycho monolith" from "2001" (or was is "2010"? I forget). In that same vein, an on Gabe Rosenketter's post, another Jjaro outpost on Earth could have spawned life here, also like in "2001". Although what the outpost on, uh... which of the Jovian moons was is?... hasn't seemed to serve any purpose yet.

Interesting speculation from Forrest. Could the main theme behind the Marathon's Story be similar to the premise of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's screenplay for the film 2001? There are a number of 2001 references throughout Marathon. Indeed if you are familar with the film you will probably be aware of a similar underriding theme.

An enigmatic black alien Monolith triggers men-apes evolutionary leap, acts as a catalyst for mankind's journey to the stars, becomes the doorway across infinity, before finally transforming man into Starchild - the next step in our development?

Hal: By the way. Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?

Dave: No, not at all.

Hal: Well, forgive me for being so inquisitive, but during the past few weeks I've wondered whether you might be having some second thoughts about the mission.

Dave: How d'you mean?

Hal:.'s rather difficult to define. Perhaps I'm just projecting my own concern about it. I know I've never completely freed myself of the suspicion that there are some extremely odd things about this mission. I'm sure you'll agree there's some truth in what I say.

Dave: (Pauses) Well, I don't know, that's rather a difficult question to answer.

Hal: You don't mind talking about it, do you Dave?

Dave: No, not at all.

Hal:. Well...certainly no-one could have been unaware of the very strange stories floating around before we left...rumours about something being dug up on the moon. I never gave these stories much credence, but particularly in view of some of the other things that have happened I find them difficult to put out of my mind. For instance, the way all our preparations were kept under such tight security...and the melodramatic touch of putting Drs Hunter, Kimball and Kaminsky aboard already in hibernation after four months of separate training on their own.

Could the Earth's moon have contained an abandoned Jjaro outpost? Tycho tells us:

The Jjaro were a mysterious race that
disappeared from our galaxy millions of
years ago, leaving behind military and
civilian outposts on the moons of many
habitable worlds.

<For Carnage, Apply Within (Terminal 1)>

Thus an abandoned Jjaro outpost on our moon is conceivable. We don't know how many millions of years ago the Jjaro left our galaxy but traces of the first man "Homo habilis" can be dated back as far as 2,200,000 years ago and men-apes millions of years before that.

The Jjaro were certainly observing us. They knew when the so-called "Dreaming God" was awakening on the Yucatan Peninsula and sent a hologram of a Jjaro diplomat/dignitary to warn us (the Jjaro would not arrive in person until two and a half years later). Furthermore they knew that the "God" crashed landed on Earth sixty-four million years ago causing the extinction of many of the Earth's species.

Mankind found Jjaro technology somewhere close to Earth. The final screen relates:

A man long dead, grafted to machines your builders did not understand.

We also suspect that Durandal and most likely Tycho, Leela, Traxus were built with Jjaro parts, parts that made them inherently suspectable to Rampancy.

And in the final analysis...

I know who you are

You are destiny

William Spencer <> writes:

In Spanish, "Jarro" (pronounced ha-rr-o) means "Water Pitcher."

I know, in Marathon they are usually called the Jjaro, but Jjarro does appear, scrawled on the side of one of the maps ("Jjarro were at Tau Ceti!")

So why's this interesting?

Lh'owon might have been, originally, a desert world, before the Jjaro showed up, and when the S'pht'Kr took their moon away it reverted to its primal state. They could have terraformed it into the marshes of S'pht legend - "givers of water to the once lifeless sand", or some such. This would factor in S'pht myth - after all, Yrro and Pthia created the S'pht _and_ their home.

Lh'owon was certainly a desert world before Yrro and Pthia arrived. On "Six Thousand Feet Under" we read:

Fleeing all W'rkncacnter, Yrro and Pthia
settled upon Lh'owon. They brought the
S'pht, servants who began to shape the
deserts of Lh'owon into marsh and sea,
rivers and forests. They made sisters for
Lh'owon to protect and maintain the paradise.

Justin Blackmon <> writes:

William Spencer's interpretation of Jjaro as "Water Pitcher" intrigued me. In light of the aliens of 2001 being terraformers themselves (as we see at the end of 2010), it seems logical that this was the purpose of the Jjaro; to seed the galaxy with inhabitable worlds while leaving behind technology to aid the advancement of sentient life in order to observe the development of such life. As we see in PiD, they have some reason to inform us of the awakening God (W'rkncacnter?), and what better reason than to prevent the extermination of one of their most successful experiments?

Terrence Nowicki <> writes:

I'd just like to point out a correction to the post about 2001/2010 put up on 7/19/99.

It is likely that the aliens in 2001 (whoever they were) were terraformers, however, there is nothing in the story that totally confirms that they were (at any time during the series).

I tend to think that the books portray a more "correct" version of the story, so here is some info regarding some of the functions of the alien monoliths:

The monolith at the beginning of 2001 did not terraform the Earth. Life was already there, and capable of supporting itself. The first monolith (which I will add, was translucent, unlike any of the others) enhanced the neurons of the sub-human apes, because though they had the potential to become fully sentient, it did not appear as if they could before becoming extinct (without the help).

The second monolith signals the aliens so that they know man has landed on his own moon, and has thus achieved space travel, and the technology needed to find (the monolith).

At the end of 2001, the monolith Dave Bowman finds on Iapetus (a moon of Saturn), in the center of a "cream-colored, ovoid lake," serves as either a "spatial-temporal gate," or a transformation-evolution chamber (this is unclear, as the events Dave experianced after entering the monolith all could have been a dream-state, much like the one the player experiances in Marathon Infinity; a side-effect of the hyper-evolution that resulted in Dave becoming the "Star-Child").

The monolith in 2010 seems to function as some kind of mass/molecular arrangement machine. The aliens use it give Jupiter the mass necessary to turn it into a star. I should add here that this parallels the function of the pfhor "trih'xeem," which could simply add to the mass of a star in order to cause it to nova, perhaps using a similar method.

In 2061, there is a monolith that protects the "frog-thing" aliens of Europa from the frigid surface temperatures (of Europa) so they can evolve total sentience.

In 3001, the monolith is weapon (though we never get to see how the aliens plan to use it; obviously, making Sol nova wouldn't make sense, since it destroy both "Lucifer" (the new name given to Jupiter, since it is now a star) and it's planets (Jupiter's former moons, including Europa).

The aliens intend to use it somehow to kill the human race, since their period of observation (of the humans) was during the worst time in human history: the beginning of the 21st century. So though the humans have become quite peaceful and advanced, the aliens still plan to terminate the project and work on the frog things instead.

However, since the monolith is a multipurpose device, it also works as a computer and a communications antannea/moniter, and HALman (Dave and HAL 9000 join to become a singal entity when the Discovery is destroyed at the end of 2010) helps save the humans by infecting the "killer monolith" with a computer virus (interesting to note here that the project directing the strike against the monolith is called "project damocles." A connection in Oni, perhaps?).

This relatively non-violent retaliation surprises the aliens, and alerts them that mankind has indeed become peaceful, so they "deactivate" Lucifer/Jupiter, and end the project working on the sentience of the frog things.

So, as you can see, there are LOTS of similarities between Marathon and the 2001 series.

Christopher Powell <> writes:

I have one correction for the page on the Jjaro. Terrence Nowicki's description of the main plot of 3001 is accurate, but he misses two crucial details:

In 3001, the monolith is weapon (though we never get to see how the aliens plan to use it;

Actually, we do. On orders from its creators, the monoloth attempts to destroy the human race by blocking out all light from the sun and 'Lucifer' (Jupiter turned into a star, see "2010") so that the humans will freeze to death.

This relatively non-violent retaliation surprises the aliens

What the humans did was to use a computer virus to *destroy* the monolith (not really a nonviolent response). Hence the title of chapter 39, "Deicide". (If homocide is the act of killing a man, deicide is the act of killing a god; the monolith has been a god to the humans by imparting them with intelligence in the first place, in the opening scene of "2001".)

At the end of the story, the monolith's dying message to whoever created it will take 500 years to reach them, thanks to the handy-dandy old speed of light, and their response will take 500 years to reach Earth, so the human race has 1000 years to get ready for whatever the response to their act of 'deicide' will be.

The reason the aliens instructed the monolith to destroy the human species was because, having seen all our 20th-century TV shows, the aliens believe we are a violent and dangerous race. (No kidding! This is not Arthur C. Clarke's best novel ever.)

A marathon equivalent might be that S'buth, observing the inter-clan warfare of the Sph't, sends a message to the Jjaro who, being 500 light-years away, take 1,000 years to respond with a message of "wipe them out", by which point the Sph't are no longer warlike and have united the clans, so they concoct some way to destroy S'buth, and the story ends with us wondering what the next Jjaro move will be ...

It's worth mentioning that although Clarke reveals the Monolith to be a kind of machine possessed of some artificial intelligence, it never displays the sort of personality that Durandal does, or even that HAL does, even though it presumably has the capacity, being a computer far far more powerful than HAL 9000.

This raises an interesting possibility: is the monolith's lack of a 'personality' reflective of some aspect of its creators? Maybe extremely advanced aliens no longer have what we think of as 'personality'. Maybe if we encountered the Jjaro directly, they would be completely incomprehensible to us - or maybe we wouldn't even recognize them as living beings at all.

Forrest Cameranesi <> writes:

At the end of Infinity, when we are trying to activate the Yrro station, we must plug two chips (which Durandal refers to as "the yrro(farcast) pattern chips") back into the station's computer system. When we do so, the Yrro station comes back online and contains the exploding sun. Simultaneously, a previously inactive terminal becomes functional, with a message on it from what appears to be Yrro:

my old Pthia, lost, vacant, doubt
chaos, overpowering, underwhelming

two forces in balance
ancient endless balance
then nothing

I suspect this is Yrro because he says "my old Pthia", and Yrro seems the only being we know of capable of calling Pthia "his", as they seem to have been lovers.

Now, the greater implications of all this are that Yrro, who has supposedly been gone for however many thousands or millions of years, is suddenly here at a terminal. It may simply be a recorded message, but I believe it is more. Note that Durandal reffered to the chips as the "yrro(farcast) pattern chips".

Why would Yrro suddenly come back to "life" after the implanting of these chips? Why are they called "yrro(farcast) pattern" chips? Could the chips contain the mental "pattern" of Yrro, and thus by reactivating them we reactivate HIM?

Were the Jjaro AIs?

If so, this could also explain how Yrro vanished after Pthia's death, and yet was able to send K'lia to the stars thousands of years later. He may have deactivated himself in the pain of losing his love, his balancing force (Pthia), but the S'pht'Kr could have temporarily reactivated him in order to flee the carnage below during the S'pht Clan Wars. Or perhaps they saw the Pfhor coming, as has also been suggested.

The one fault to this theory that I can find is that a hologram of a Jjaro appeared on Earth in PiD. AIs don't have distinct physical forms, at least not any sort that they would bother projecting in a message (who wants to see a block of silicon wafers talking to you?) so how could they project an image of Ryu'Toth?

A possible explanation of this also answers an unasked question - if the Jjaro are AIs, who built them? I would argue that they build themselves, from a previous organic form. Tying back in to 2001 again, we learn in the end of that book that the "god" aliens were once organic in form, and later moved into cybernetic forms, then eschewing organics entirely to become robots, and later intelligences living within their starships, finally leaving the physical world behind entirely in becoming energy beings, frozen lattices of light in space.

The Jjaro may have progressed similarly - they were organics at one time, then cyborgs, robots, and at the time of Yrro and Pthia they were AIs. Their "disapperance" from our galaxy may have been their progression to the final form of pure energy. Anyway, getting back to two paragraphs ago: if they were once organic, they they could project their former organic form, the same way a human-created AI would project a human form as an avatar for dealing with humans.

Simon Christensen <> writes concerning the mysterious disappearance of the Jjaro:

Thought I should drop this in. A marathonish reference in "Look to Windward" by Iain M. Banks.

There are many spots in the book where Banks comments on races who achieve a state of evolution where they 'sublime', that is, evolve past the state of matter and become beings of pure energy. One could almost say godlike. But living things aren't the only things which sublime. The Culture's AIs, called minds, are known to sometimes sublime as well. Does this remind you of Durandal's intent to 'escape closure'? Evolve to a higher state and become a 'god'? Maybe this explains the Jjaro's absence. They may have sublimed... after all, they are an ancient species.

Ben Grabow <> writes:

I was reading through my new copy of Scientific American (8/03) when I stubled across an article about an Oracle from ancient Greece. This particular Oracle was an apparantly random woman from local society who inhaled gases from a geological crevice in the bowels of one of Apollo's temples and gave predictions in the trance-like state thereby induced. Interestingly enough, the name given to any such Oracle was Pythia, a group of which were called the Pythia. Given the common reference to Greek mythology in Bungie games, I can't ignore the likeness this name has to the Pthia associated with the S'pht/Jjaro mythology in Marathon.

I suspect that (the) Pthia (perhaps like W'rkncacnter, can be used as both plural or singular) could have been some sort of Oracle to the S'pht race and possibly to Yrro, providing a source of knowledge or intelligence. If Yrro in fact was acting independently from the Jjaro race, an Oracle would have been particularly useful in the absence of the Jjaro support by helping him avoid a possible backlash from the Jjaro race or from other dangers to his fledgling race.

The Yrro/Pthia relationship could be similar to the god/oracle relationship Apollo would have had with the Pythia in that Pythia/Pthia were connections to the people of a race that Apollo/Yrro presided over. The explanation of Yrro's grief over the loss off Pthia could be explained by his loss of connection to his people through such an oracle, and because of this loss of communication, decides to abandon the S'pht race and let them fend for themselves after the destruction of Pthia. With the seemingly religiousĘstatus of Yrro the S'pht seem to hold, an oracle for the purpose of communication would not seem unlikely. Given Bungie's history of Greek mythological allegory in their games, such a parallel could be likely.

Go Back to Marathon's Story Home Page

Page maintained by Hamish Sinclair
Last updated May 21, 2001