"The quality of the machinery is quite
extraordinary, and most of the computer
terminals are still functional even after
two thousand years."
Charon Doesn't Make Change has the distinction of being the Marathon 2 level with the most terminals. Ten terminals in total containing eleven separate messages. It is the level we first encounter S'pht terminals and they are somewhat unusual. But we will get to that.
Charon is also where the Marathon 2 story begins in earnest. On the opening terminal we learn from Durandal about a mythical eleventh S'pht clan who left Lh'owon (system) before the Pfhor invaded and enslaved the remaining S'pht.
If this mythical eleventh clan survived, then it has had a thousand years to grow and learn since leaving Lh'owon. My S'pht believe that there is a way to contact them somewhere on the planet, and that is what we are searching for. The S'pht rebellion against the tyranny of the Pfhor will certainly fail unless the lost clan is located.
This sets the scene for the story that unfolds throughout the game.
Commenting on this level the creator Greg Kirkpatrick wrote:
This map really only ever grew into 50% of what it should have been. If you notice carefully, you'll see that right at the beginning of the level the pfhor make a run for a nearby teleporter pad. Unfortunately, if you shoot anything or if they see you (and they have eyes in the back of their heads) they turn around and come after you. In the end, it's rather difficult for them to ever get away. Otherwise, I had a lot of fun making this map, and if I'd known, I would have made it at least another 300 polygons, and you really would have felt like you were in an ancient S'pht clan's homestead.
Even without the extra 300 polygons Charon has the feel of a large level. Its layout can be initially confusing and you need to use intralevel teleport terminals to access important areas. But you are given a handy terminal image to help guide you... assuming you can read Pfhor.
Lastly, thanks to Durandal's orbital bombardment on Waterloo Waterpark this level is about to flood.
Warning: Damage to dam on the Minor River has caused severe damage to the water system in zone 6, and flooding of this same river could cause catastrophic damage (?sarcasm) to station 29-s within two hours Station 29-s has been ordered to evacuate to Garrison Command
Which helps to explain why these guys are in a hurry to leave at the start of the level.
For more details about this odd behaviour see The Alien Teleporter on Charon section
So back to those S'pht terminals.
The first ones we encounter are underground and in a section that can only be accessed by an intralevel teleporter. See location A on the in-game map below.
At this location behind a wall section you must lower are a group of terminals. At first glance you might think there are only three terminals but there are in fact four functional terminals. I have numbered these (left to right) in the image below. Note that the numbering relates to the order you might read the terminals on this level. Your order may differ.
Terminals 5, 6 and 7 are S'pht terminals and terminal 8 has been modified by the Pfhor to act as a teleport terminal. In-game these Pfhor teleport terminals all have a sign-on and sign-off screen with the words Remote Tecibon.
Here is a pic of terminal 5.
And here is pic of terminals 6 and 7.
These actually appear to be clusters of four terminals, two upper and two lower. However since this area was abandoned 2000 years ago the terminals are in varying states of disrepair.
Based on the image we are shown on the first terminal of this level we might speculate that a cluster of four terminals (two upper, two lower) could have provided access for four of the original S'pht at the same time.
Another thing to note about these terminal clusters is that there is a triangular ledge in front of each one. The intent of this was probably to force the player to either side before activating the terminal. However it is possible to activate them standing directly in front of the triangular ledge.
This has the potential to cause the following problem. Having activated the terminal by standing directly in front of it you might simply move on without realising that there are actually two active terminals in the cluster. Standing to left will get one message and standing to the right will get the other message.
This is the S'pht message you get when you stand to the left and activate terminal 6.
This is the S'pht message you get when you stand to the right and activate terminal 7.
On your way back to the surface you will find a fourth S'pht terminal in a cluster of two. Only one of the terminals is functional.
Close by is a Pfhor teleport terminal. It looks non-functional and because of the low light it can be missed. It teleports you to the Pfhor science laboratory in the basement of the main complex.
This may have been placed here in case you overlooked the science lab at the start of the level. It can easily happen due to the placement of an intralevel teleport terminal just outside the lab. Either that or Pfhor scientists are just lazy.
It is worth noting that there is a terminal in the science lab that has a S'pht interface.
However it contains a Pfhor message from Science Manager 7 about their studies of the F'lickta.
This may be an oversight on the part of the level creator since all the other Pfhor terminals on this level have a Pfhor interface. However, we are going to see this apparent inconsistency again on other levels.