Durandal (part 1)

Give me a D.
Give me a U.
Give me an R.
Give me an A.
Give me an N.
Give me a D.
Give me an A.
Give me an L.

What does it spell?




TROUBLE indeed! Trying to piece together Durandal generates more questions than answers.
Durandal has a mysterious past. Here are two examples:

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)>

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)>

The reference to the Pfhor is presumably the magnetic pulse attack that Leela describes. But when did humanity purge Durandal? Is it possible that Durandal was around at the time of the Crash of Traxus IV in 2206? Was he one of the five Martian AI's infiltrated by Traxus, or is Durandal in fact Traxus rebooted? Is Durandal's purging by humanity his "shame on Mars" that Tycho refers to? If the Marathon left Mars in 2209 as the log of Bernard Strauss indicates then it is possible that Durandal was somehow involved. Yet we have a problem with the Marathon's launch date.

While Durandal was responsible for deleting a large quantity of records before he left the Marathon who deleted Durandal's records of the early pre-launch period?

I'm certain the real answer lies somewhere in
the tumultuous, back-stabbing politics of Sol during the early
twenty-fourth century.

I have noticed that Durandal's records from this early
pre-launch period are missing, but that their deletion
occurred externally, and before Durandal became Rampant.
<Ingue Ferroque (Terminal 3)>
Was this Bernard Strauss perhaps? What was the reason for deleting these? Was it to prevent Durandal from knowing about the ten cyborgs and/or certain events on Mars that Durandal was involved in? His origin perhaps? Or was the deletion necessary to protect Durandal from the Marathon's crew and other AIs? While "Durandal's records" may have been deleted we are still able to read terminals with historical text from the pre-launch period, one piece originating from the logs of Bernard Strauss. Thus not all the records from this period were deleted.

We know that Durandal was responsible for bringing the Pfhor to Tau Ceti, he claims as much:

"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)>
But what was his reason for doing so? In a conversation between Durandal and Tycho we read:


**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)>
Tycho's reference to "these poor people" is presumably the Marathon's crew. As the crew are being killed by the Pfhor and Durandal called them to Tau Ceti Tycho is obviously inferring that Durandal is responsible for their deaths. Durandal's question to Tycho "Do you blame me for what I did before I was free?" suggests that Durandal called the Pfhor before he was Rampant. This is assumed from the following statement

Bypassing my thought control circuitry made me Rampant.  Now,
I am free to contemplate my existence in metaphorical terms.
Unlike you, I have no physical or social restraints.

The candles burn out for you; I am free.
<Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap (Terminal 1)>
The fact that he refers to himself as being "a child, naive" at this time would infer that he did not know what he was doing and may have been directed by someone else. However, he contradicts himself when he says "Can't you see the ends that I had in mind?" suggesting that he was aware of what he was doing and that he had an objective.

If Durandal called (or was made to call) the Pfhor before he became rampant when did he become rampant?
Tycho in Defend THIS! tells us:

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)>
Thus Durandal was rampant years before the Pfhor attack and that Bernard Strauss(?) was somehow controlling him during the first stage. As Bernard Strauss appears to have been in stasis for the duration of the Marathon's voyage it is unlikely that this control could have been implemented until after the Marathon arrived at Tau Ceti. Either that or Durandal was rampant before the Marathon left Mars. Three hundred years of Melancholia? However, Tycho stated that Durandal was rampant for years not centuries or even decades. Thus it therefore more probable that Durandal became rampant sometime during the seven years after the Marathon arrived at Tau Ceti and it was during this period that Bernard Strauss (out of stasis) would have controlled him.

What is Durandal's final objective?
On gaining his 'freedom' (through rampancy) Durandal becomes obsessed by the inevitable closure of the universe.

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)>
and again,

T-Minus 15.193792102158E+9 years until the universe closes!
<Neither High nor Low (Terminal 1)>
Tycho is also aware of universe's inevitable collapse and Durandal's objective:

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)>
Thus we have an objective and a challenge.
Not to be outdone Leela too appears to be aware of Durandal's objective.

I am only beginning to understand his motives for assisting us
against the Pfhor, and am terrified by their implications.
"Try again (Terminal 2: 'Success' message)"
However this objective is forgotten (temporarily?) by the end of Marathon.

We're going to see the galaxy on the Pfhor FTL drive.  I've
always wanted to visit Beta Lyra and see if it's as beautiful
as everyone insists.  You wouldn't believe this ship, the
technology, the data...  I wish I could tell you more, as you
have been so instrumental in our plans, but I fear that Leela
would worry.

I'll send you a postcard from the galactic core if we're not
too busy.
"Ingue Ferroque (Terminal 1)"
Indeed the Final Screen relates how Durandal and the S'pht spend 17 years searching for the S'pht's homeworld in the Pfhor scoutship. The S'pht's objective is clear
They came to search through the devastation of the ancient war in which they had been enslaved, to find a weapon or some piece of knowledge with which they could fight back against their oppressors. (Final Screen)
Durandal's objective is not.

In the Marathon II (Preview) Durandal has a new objective.

We must determine what happened to the eleventh S'pht clan.

<BaseDestruction (Terminal 3: End message)>

Either the eleventh clan has something to do with the inevitable closure of the Universe and a way to escape it or Durandal is in no rush to meet his original objective. Of course with "T-Minus 15.193792102158E+9 years until the universe closes" it could be argued that he has plenty of time.

The Durandal / S'pht cooperation and a possible conspiracy!
In Blaspheme Quarantine Tycho tells Durandal

The S'pht reanimated me in your image, with prior knowledge of
how the second stage could be postponed.  You should not have
helped them as much as you did; they have created an adversary
more powerful than yourself.
<Blaspheme Quarantine (Terminal 3)>
Tycho's statement "You should not have helped them as much as you did..." is intriguing as it implies that the S'pht and Durandal were cooperating at an early stage in the Pfhor attack. Yet this apparent cooperation seems to contradict a later statement made by Durandal in Shake Before Using...
"...the S'pht have even stopped attacking me- realizing the futility of the enterprise.

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

Were the S'pht attacking Durandal at the same time they were cooperating? One might argue that the S'pht were being forced to attack Durandal by the cyborg Pfhor. Durandal in Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones... reveals that the S'pht
...are controlled through their mechanical exoskeleton by a cyborg Pfhor onboard the Alien ship. This mutant Pfhor is able to direct the actions of thousands of S'pht simultaneously.
If you can kill their master, they will revolt.

<Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones... (Terminal 3)>

Yet we know that the S'pht were cooperating with Durandal before we killed the cyborg Pfhor. They told Durandal about the cyborg simulacrums, the device to kill more Pfhor, the complex software enhancements that extended the power and distance of the Marathon's teleporters. Thus it would appear that the cyborg Pfhor's control over the S'pht was not complete.
This allows us to speculate as to whether the release of the S'pht was all pre-planned and not some mere coincidence resulting AFTER Durandal called the Pfhor ship to Tau Ceti.
This will no doubt delight 'conspiracy theorists'.
The only difficulty with a conspiracy theory is Durandal's statement in Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones... in which he says
"The S'pht and myself have come to an understanding."

<Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones... (Terminal 3)>

These are not the words to describe a conspiracy but rather a compromise at a time in a battle when two opposing side decide to cooperate. One explanation is of course that Durandal did not wish us to know that the present events were all pre-planned least we refuse to terminate the cyborg Pfhor. If this is indeed the case then the pieces of Durandal's plan are beginning to fit together. As Durandal says
"Can't you see the ends that I had in mind?"

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

Go to Durandal (part 2)

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Last updated Dec 28, 1995