...about three meters.

Durandal in one of his more helpful moods reports:

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)>

Of course, you would only have read this if you had lost your footing on the long bridge on Shake Before Using... and even then it would have made little or no sense. But we all learned very quickly to shoot green BOBs and ask questions later..... oops sorry! thought you were one of those simul... simacr... huh... 'assimilated' BOBs. Ah yes! that word rolls off the tongue much better. So 'simulacrums' became known as 'assimilated' BOBs amongst Marathoners. At what stage the term 'assimilated' became part of Marathon lore is not clear but the name has stuck and now features in the Marathon 2: Durandal (Preview) and (Demo).

The word 'assimilated' is used in Marathon. Once when Tycho informs us that he is:

being a~*ssimilated.

<Defend THIS! (Terminal 3)>

and again when Leela reports that she is
...disturbed by how easily the cyborgs were secretly assimilated into our midst...

<Ingue Ferroque (Terminal 3)>

It also appears a further time but I'll let you find that one! :-)

While agruments abound about whether or not Bungie ever called 'simulacrums' 'assimilated' BOBs the fact is the words mean much the same thing. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a 'simulacrum' as

  1. A material image, made as a representation of some deity, person, or thing;
  2. Something having merely the form or appearance of a certain thing, without possessing its substance or proper properties.
Oxford English Dictionary. Volume IX. London: Oxford University Press, 1970. Page 68.

Similarly, the word to 'assimilate' is defined as

  1. To make or be like;
  2. To absorb and incorporate.
Oxford English Dictionary. Volume I. London: Oxford University Press, 1970. Page 510.

From the above it can be seen that the term 'simulacrum' is a more precise description of those nasty green BOBs..... but more difficult to pronounce!

Eylon Caspi <> writes:

I want to bring up the possibility that the Pfhor did not mean to enslave the humans at all. They meant to destroy them... In M2, We're Everywhere, Durandal tells us about the simulacrums:

Do you remember the Pfhor-built human
simulacrums during the Tau Ceti invasion?

The elaborate Pfhor bureaucracy has a
Ministry for the Eradication Through
Imitation of Hostile Species Unsuitable for
Enslavement, Phan Pfhar Sfaern-Wsawn Tshah,
which is responsible for the design and
construction of such machines.

They meticulously constructed seventeen
different human body types and mixed them
with sixty-one unique facial models.  The
resulting walking bombs were in every way
indistinguishable from real humans.

Their one mistake, dressing every last one
of the six thousand simulacrums in the
plain green overalls of a Marathon airlock
technician, had the amusing side-effect of
making all the real airlock technicians
wander the ship naked during the invasion.
<We're Everywhere (Terminal 1: 2nd message)>

Note the committee's name - '...eradication... of hostile species unsuitable for enslavement.' Had the Pfhor decided that humans are unsuitable for enslavement?

Extrapolating from this Eylon suggests that:

Perhaps the proposed invasion of Sol, which began as a slaving mission, was revised to be a genocidal mission.

Eylon's observation also raises another issue.

We first encounter simulacrums in Marathon 1. As indicated above simulacrums were built by the Ministry for the Eradication Through Imitation of Hostile Species Unsuitable for Enslavement. This Ministry is part of an elaborate Pfhor bureaucracy.

Yet how does an elaborate bureaucracy decide in a matter of hours of contacting humans at Tau Ceti that they are unsuitable for enslavement?

How does a Pfhor scoutship have the resources to build six thousand simulacrums with seventeen different human body types... mixed... with sixty-one unique facial models in such a short time?

Tom Klancer <> writes concerning terminal 3 on One thousand thousand slimy things. Here we read:

rogue conditioned unit
origin: High Admiral Tfear (Command)
destin: rogue conditioned unit
ref: genocide
stamp: leniency

Very impressive. The primary function of intelligence is the subordination
of our instinctive desires, the mark of a strong species. Which is why your
kind will serve well the needs of the Hindmost Creche. The Hindmost is of an
intelligence so vast, it encompasses the span of the Pfhor, and to those
privilege to serve Her, appears insane. That is the final function of the
Commanding Rank, the thought that we keep forever in our minds, that we
deny our selfish, willful needs, so that the Empire will survive.

The humans are escaping through the cone of the volcano, where they have
activated containment fields to suppress the lava floe
[sic]. I want nothing
more than to cut them off so they can be captured, for long, useful lives
in the conditioned ranks.

<One thousand thousand slimy things (Terminal 3)>

Tom writes:

It seems to me that they definitely want to enslave the humans they have nearby, if not all of mankind. (It's also not the only time enslavement is mentioned, but it is the most explicit)

Tom makes an interesting point. The Pfhor do seem intent on enslaving humanity yet the fact that they created Simulacrums is a contradiction in terms. Simulacrums are built by the 'Ministry for the Eradication Through Imitation of Hostile Species Unsuitable for Enslavement'. Obviously Pfhor bureaucracy was at its confusing best again.

Christopher McCraken <> writes concerning terminal 3 on One thousand thousand slimy things and the line:

Which is why your kind will serve well the needs of the Hindmost Creche.

Christopher asks why does Tfear say your kind when speaking to you? Do the Pfhor wish to enslave Mjolnir cyborgs? Afterall the message is destined for rogue conditioned unit. If so then the Pfhor's use of Simulacrums would make sense. Yet Tfear goes on to to say that the captured humans will make useful slaves. Confusing indeed.

Did the Pfhor intend to enslave or eradicate mankind? The use of Simulacrums would suggest the later. Yet there are many references to Pfhor wishing to enslave humans.

Dennis Murphy <> writes:

...the Pfhor may see humankind as dividable into different species based on their roles in society. Thus, security guards would be a species suitable for eradication.

Interesting point. Simulacrums didn't seem to bother Bobs much. Not even those supposedly security (blue) Bobs. So maybe they just had it in for the cyborg kind. ;-)

Marco Turcios <> writes

Ok, I've got it. It's the engineers who are unsuitable for slavery. Maybe all they did was sit in front of their interface terminals and spend too much time on their intranet.

hehehe... nice one. Engineers would certainly be unsuitable for slavery. ;-)

Alex Samaras <> writes:

The Pfhor Ministry for the Eradication Through Imitation of Hostile Species Unsuitable for Enslavement was not trying to eradicate the humans through the use of simulacrums. Otherwise, the simulacrums would detonate when within 3 meters of a BOB. Humans would seem to be perfectly suitable for enslavement, hence the large number of BOBs on the Pfhor ship. It would seem that the player is the hostile species unsuitable for enslavement. I think that it is obvious that the player is hostile, and the simulacrums only explode when near the player.

Of course, then why are we a "rogue conditioned unit" in Infinity? There is a possible explanation for this. It seems that at the beginning of Infinity, when we are working for Tycho(and all other later instances) we are on an alternate timeline...perhaps a timeline where we never defended the Marathon, but rather were immediately put in stasis when the Pfhor invaded. I'm sure that it wouldn't be hard to construct a whole hypothetical timeline where this is the case, so I will spare the space.

Dispatcher <> in a Story forum
post draws our attention to the New Scientist article about a Canadian filmmaker, Rob Spence, who is attempting to build a wireless video camera into his synthetic eye, turning himself into a self-proclaimed "Eyeborg".

Currently, a working red LED has been placed in Spense's synthetic eye (see pic below)

Dispatcher points out this is eerily familiar.

Also on the Story forum, Bob-B-Q <> points us to a great
Marathon simulacrum homage on YouTube.
And yes simulacrums have no genitalia. ;-)

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Title graphic courtesy of Matthew Smith
Page maintained by Hamish Sinclair
Last updated Feb 20, 2011