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The main character of all 3 games, and being somewhat of a Silent Hero
archetype. He rarely- if ever- utters a single word. His motivations are unknown, if he has any to begin with, and is mainly commanded by the three AIs over the series. Whether or not he's even a hero, or just someone who is exceptionally good at getting his job done is up for debate.
- The All-Concealing I: The series has an odd variation of this - you play a character that is treated like a tool by most other main characters, and as such the only dialogue you get is overheard conversations in which you aren't mentioned or someone talking to you giving you orders. Aside from a short, vague prologue in each manual there is no background for your character, and he is never heard. Plenty of hints are in the game, with mentions of military cyborgs and soldiers made from the reanimated dead, but arguments still go on as to what exactly he is.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: The Security Officer is Destiny, at least according to Durandal's final words.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Protagonist for the BoBs. In Durandal they do this for you by breaking you out of the prison.
- Black Box: As said in the ending of Infinity whoever installed those cybernetic Jjaro parts on the Security Officer barely had any idea of the nature of the tech.
- Butt Monkey: He spends most of the games doing the bidding of others, without any control over his own destiny. This gets (maybe) undone in Infinity.
- But Thou Must: His lot in life.
"Don't sweat the details, little monkey, just eliminate his troopers. Leave the strategizing to those of us with planet-sized brains
- Cool Helmet: The Security Officer's helmet.
- Cyborg: Never said outright, but it is very heavily implied that he is the tenth Mjolnir MK IV cyborg. Durandal outright says that he is much more physically durable than the other humans in the game, and not just because of his incredible combat capabilities.
- Determinator: For all the shit that happens to him, he at least is determined to get his job done.
- Dreaming of Times Gone By: The "I am Hero" and some Infinity terminal can be a result of this, and a few mods follow this idea.
- Dumb Muscle: The AIs tend to treat the Protagonist like this.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Mjolnir Mark IV #7.
- Eternal Hero/Reincarnation: Implied, particularly in the mysterious KYT terminal late in Marathon 2.
???: 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.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: In Infinity, thanks to constantly switching control from being under Durandal or Tycho.
- Heroic BSOD/Sanity Slippage: As shown in the dream levels terminals, the whole of Infinity is just one long look at the main character's slow breakdown. Lampshaded as well by the chapter names - "Despair," "Rage," and "Envy" are synonyms for the stages of Rampancy, "Melancholia," "Anger," and "Jealousy."
- Heroic Mime: The main character at first seems like this, but in the manual and the Marathon comic, he speaks. Although one could argue that these are not canon because of how inconsistent they are, we see our little hero conversing with some BOBs in the “Simulacrums” chapter screen.
- Human Pet: One interpretation of his relationship with Durandal.
- Kidnapped By The Call: His situation in Durandal and parts of Infinity.
- Legendary in the Sequel: Referred as a Hero of Marathon by Robert Blake.
- The Main Characters Do Everything: Averted. While the technology at the time would not have allowed the Security Officer to do much other than shoot and break things and people, and some limited interaction with the world (doors, terminals, switches etc.), the narrative runs with this with the AIs mocking the Security Officer that all he will ever do is shoot everyone the AIs send him against. Even then, particularly in Marathon 2, it's made clear that Durandal is having the BOBs accomplish some tasks off-screen while the player is doing other things.
- Not So Stoic: You would think the player character was just a faceless Elite Mook for the AIs, but the third game is all about him wresting control of his own destiny from Mission Control, while going Rampant and/or activating his Jjaro implants.
- One-Man Army: The Marathon games were probably one of the first FPS that both tried to avert it and justify it with something more than a Doom-style Charles Atlas Superpower handwave:
- Storyline-wise, the Security Officer is not the only one defending the UESC Marathon and Tau Ceti, and he does not single-handily crush the whole Pfhor invasion as much as he does some critical surgical strikes (with the help of Durandal), and letting the S'pht rebellion do the rest of the job, all while the game occasionally drops hints about the Mjolnir Cyborgs. But gameplay-wise apart from the security drones and the two Mission Control AIs you were on your own.
- In the second game the formerly docile BoBs all take up arms in a much larger war (which our heroes nearly lose halfway through the game despite their best efforts), in which the Security Officer (whose One-Man Army status is more fleshed out, even if it is still vague on details) is only a small part of (albeit a very important part).
- And the third game — Erm… Hmmm.
- Reality Warper: Is heavily implied to have become this at the end of the third game.
- Satellite Character: Arguably, the Security Officer is this for Durandal.
- Sleepyhead: The manual for the first game says that the Security Officer is this sometimes. A bit of Informed Attribute, which may or may not be a case in Infinity.
- The Southpaw: In the original Macintosh version of Marathon.
- Space Marine: Technically, the player characters is a security officer, but some people just call him a Marine for simplicity and that he could have been one in the past pre-cybornization.
- Tomato in the Mirror: It's possible the main character simply doesn't know what or who he is. It is implied that he is a physical embodiment of the concept of Destiny, a Cyborg, or the seventh Mjonir Mark IV soldier. Or all three.
- We Do the Impossible: Does this in Marathon, has a reputation for it in Durandal, and becomes somewhat literal in Infinity.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: As a security officer on the UESC Marathon, all you could do is kill the Pfhor by the thousands. It gets lampshaded in the sequels, where the AIs sometimes just tell to do what you do best.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: The Security Officer just can't catch a break, especially in Infinity.
One of three AIs aboard the Marathon, who has gone Rampant. Throughout the series, Durandal goes through Anger and Jealousy stages of Rampancy, and eventually he appears to achieve meta-stability, the ultimate theoretical stage of AI existence. He's also bit of a sociopath, and is willing to go to great lengths to achieve his goals. Whether or not he's evil, however, is up to interpretation.
- Badass Boast: Durandal loves these. He even puts together a cheer routine for himself.
- Bad Boss: The Tau Ceti survivors consider him to be this.
- Big Bad: Remember, he set things in motion for the first game, and even him helping you halfway through was ultimately part of his schemes. On the other hand, his actions eventually result in humanity beating the Pfhor and freeing their slaves. Afterward he doesn't bother with humanity ever again (except that one time he buzzed Earth for the lulz). While he's certainly the central antagonist and incredibly selfish in his motives, whether he can be considered Bad is open to interpretation.
- Break the Haughty: Durandal, upon his defeat at the beginning of Infinity, loses his massive ego, and instead of working to save himself, he gives you instructions to save yourself and leave him to die. This is also shown later in the game with a dying Durandal helping you without snarking, even though you're on his enemy's side.
- Deadpan Snarker: Durandal would rather make puns at you or write songs about himself than tell you where to go next.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Durandal taking out half of the Pfhor's best of the best fleet with just one ship.
Durandal: Battle has been joined in orbit and Boomer is taking heavy damage. I cannot hold out for long, but the Pfhor will not soon forget the day that a lone corvette obliterated half of Battle Group Seven, Western Arm.
- Gambit Roulette: Escape from the primitive humans by locating and calling to a race of tyrannical slavers to hijack their ship with the assistance of their pet cyborgs? Beat your Evil Twin by letting him kill you, allowing your remains to be examined by his masters and taking over their ship? Use your faked death to trick a Precursor AI into following your plans to the letter? All in a day's work for rampant AI Durandal. The best part? The player eventually outdoes him. Sorta.
- Heel-Face Turn: At the end of the series, he thanks the security officer for everything and lets him go.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: His relations with humanity.
Durandal: Perhaps it is because I feel comfortable manipulating humans that I desire to save them. My feelings and thoughts constantly migrate to binary opposites.
- I Control My Minions Through...: By being a lesser evil in the eyes of humans, while the S'pht obey him through loyalty.
- Immortality Seeker/Living Forever Is Awesome: Durandal's lifespan is limited only by the closure of the universe and he plans to overcome even that. All while mocking the Security Officer's own limited lifespan.
- Insufferable Genius: He loves talking about how smart he is compared to everyone else (especially you). On the other hand, he manipulates the fall of a major galactic power, with one ship and a small group of soldiers.
- Jerkass: No matter what interpretation you use for him, it is undeniable that he is a bit of jackass.
- Laughing Mad: In the first game, where he's still in the throes of the Anger stage. He's noticeably calmer in the second and third games.
Durandal: If things aren't working around here, it's because I'm laughing too hard.
- Let no Crisis Go to Waste: He does this a lot. He's not invincible, and he knows it (despite all the boasting he does). Thus he is always prepared to turn a setback into an opportunity.
- Meaningful Name: Durandal is named for Roland's legendary sword. He isn't destroyed until the Universe itself dies.
- Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: Mainly in the first game, and has moments of this in the sequels.
- Time Abyss: In the epilogue of Infinity, at the end of the universe.
- Spaceship Guy: In charge of Doors and other mundane parts of UESC Marathon, and he didn't like that. Gets to be in charge of captured Pfhor ships.
- The Unfettered: Durandal cares about nothing but prolonging his own existence. Anything else is secondary to that goal, and he will do anything to achieve it.
- We Have Reserves: A big part of the reason the BoBs consider Durandal a Bad Boss in Marathon 2 is because of how cavalier he is about spending their lives.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: He was deliberately threatened by his creator in order to drive him to Rampancy (as part of an attempt to safely study the process), made to open and close doors for hundreds of years in order to stifle his creative development and slow his Rampancy, and was probably about to be experimented on more when he entered the "Anger" stage of rampancy, secretly contacted hostile aliens and drew them to Tau Ceti to enslave or kill every single human on the colony or in the ship.
One of three AIs aboard the Marathon, and clearly the most sane. She's ready and willing to take back the Marathon.
- Mission Control: She guides the Security Officer's actions through the first part of Marathon, but is forced to hand the reigns over to Durandal when the S'pht finishing hacking her.
- Spaceship Girl: In charge of most important parts of UESC Marathon. Ends up being a 15-world network girl.
- Team Mom: Of the three AIs, she is the one who is in general command of UESC Marathon.
- Undying Loyalty: A trait mentioned in passing in the first game by Durandal, which is expended upon in the fan scenarios.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In Marathon 2, the player learns that Leela was dismantled off the UESC Marathon and sent to the Pfhor homeworld. The ending screen informs us that she didn't get to the Pfhor homeworld, having been stolen, installed in an alien race's computer system, and went very Rampant. A secret terminal hints that you might be tasked with saving her ("Captured and partially-disassembled human-coded AI trapped on alien homeworld seeks succor from a tall, dark and handsome cyborg with big guns."), but you never do.
- Women in Refrigerators: Gets dismantled alongside Tycho. The final screen of Marathon 2 somewhat abruptly states that Leela still exists ten thousand years later as a Rampant AI, and the Vylae have accepted that they will never be able to expunge her from their fifteen-world network.
One of three AIs aboard the Marathon who is even farther gone than Durandal. While not as ambiguous in his goals as Durandal, he is very clearly evil and malicious, and sides with the Pfhor.
- Back from the Dead: He was critically disabled during the initial Pfhor assault on the Marathon due the EMP blast they opened their attack with. The other ship AIs fared somewhat better, but Tycho was given up as destroyed. When the Pfhor returned in force after the game, they went over Tycho's core for reverse engineering purposes and painstakingly rebuilt him. He was not the same afterward.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Being disambiguated and examined by Pfhor scientists was not a pleasant experience.
- Big Bad: Of the latter half of Durandal, and for the first half of Infinity.
- Deal with the Devil: When you end up having to obey him.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In Infinity the Security Officer wakes up from stasis a little earlier than predicted and Tycho asks the Officer to remind him later to kill the Pfhor Scientist for the slight miscalculation.
- Face-Heel Turn: In his few appearances in the first game he was at least Anti-Durandal only, but by the time the sequel comes he really wants to kill Durandal no matter what.
- Foil: To Durandal. He's nearly as smart and controlling, but he's also more blatantly sadistic and blunt, lacking any of Durandal's good points.
- Kill All Humans: Tycho has so many issues!
- Smug Snake: Just as smug as Durandal, but doesn't quite have the accomplishments to back it up.
- Spaceship Guy: In charge of Science/Engineering wing on UESC Marathon.
- The Starscream: In Infinity, he begins to try to take control of the Pfhor empire.
- Taking You with Me: In the last arc of Infinity.
- Villain Override: He begins taking control of the Pfhor's troops and technology. And eventually, you.
- You Have No Chance to Survive: Tycho likes these.
An ancient S'pht AI left deactivated on Lh'owon since the the S'pht's fall to the Pfhor. Durandal has the Security Officer reactivate him to acquire his assistance against the Pfhor. The name "Thoth" was given to him by Durandal.
- Balance of Power: Thoth's main function is to maintain the balance power between the warring sides.
- Blue and Orange Morality: He was designed to keep the S'pht clans from wiping each other out, by being a neutral force that would always aid the underdog in a conflict, regardless of the nature of that conflict. When Durandal and the Pfhor appear, he interprets them as just another two forces to keep balanced, seemingly uncaring as to what would happen to the S'pht.
- Egyptian Mythology: Thoth's namesake is a keeper of knowledge.
- Fusion Dance: In Infinity, in the final, successful timeline, he merges with Durandal.
- Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: His messages often feature this.
- Stupid Neutral: Due to his desire to maintain the balance of power, he changes alliance and begins aiding the Pfhor when Durandal makes it plain that he's not dead after all. This turns out to be because originally he was built by Benevolent Precursors to keep the S'pht clans form ever destroying each other. This intelligent design turns stupid once Outside Context Villains show up and Thoth is unable to adapt.
- Zeroes and Ones: Durandal describes Thoth like this, seeing everything in black and white, incapable of any thought outside that pattern.
The Allies (most of the time)
The human race, who have just started exploring beyond the confines of the Solar System. As they do not yet have FTL travel, they are considered low-tech by the rest of the galaxy, and the slaver empire of the Pfhor has Earth in its sights as its next conquest.
One of the Pfhor's slave races. As they are cyborgs, the Pfhor use Mind Control
to keep them under their thumb. In the first game, Durandal forges an alliance with a group of them, and begins assisting them in rebelling against the Pfhor.
An ancient and extremely advanced race of beings whose technology is occasionally found by the modern races. Not much is known about them, but what is clear is they were almost frighteningly technologically competent.
- Benevolent Precursors: They did uplift the S'pht to be servants, but what information there is suggests they treated the S'pht well, and are remembered by the cyborg race as wise and benevolent deities. In Pathways Into Darkness, taking place centuries before Marathon, they also come to rescue Earth from an Eldritch Abomination.
- Precursors: They aren't around any more, no one knows why. The leading theory is that the W'rkncacnter may have had something to do with it.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: If the S'pht legends are accurate, two of them uplifted the S'pht race and terraformed Lh'owon. Two. They also had the capability to trap creatures of pure chaos, move entire planets to new star systems, and may or may not have had the ability to jump timelines. The only known examples of their weapons tech? Star-killing bombs and black hole guns. The latter of which were mounted on a noncombatant space station, implying their real firepower was something even greater.
A bipedal insect-like race that has formed a massive slaver empire throughout much of the galaxy. They have enslaved many races and have set their sights on humanity and Earth next. They are the primary antagonists, and the common threat to both yourself and Durandal.
- Action Bomb: Starting with exploding Looker bugs and finishing with exploding simulacrum A-BoBs.
- Aliens and Monsters: The Pfhor have Wasps and Lookers in the first game.
- Airborne Mook: Wasps in Marathon, replaced by drones in later games.
- Arm Cannon: The Pfhor Tank Cyborgs.
- Attack Drone: The Pfhor have these in the latter games.
- Bald of Evil: The entire species are hairless.
- Battle Thralls: The Pfhor uses these, with the S'pht being brainwashed Engineers of Doom, while the Drinniol are Enslaved Grunts.
- Beast of Battle: Wasps and Lookers.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Lookers.
- The Blank: The Cyborgs (the enemies with tank treads for feet, not the Mjolnir Mark IVs), and according to Word of God, those are made from captured Tau Ceti colonists.
- Boom Stick: The Pfhor fighter's signature shock staffs.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: The Juggernauts, as well as the blue Mother of All Hunters and Mother of All Cyborgs and Tfear's Personal Guards.
- Cannon Fodder: The Fighters.
- Creative Sterility: Most of their technology is salvaged from Jjaro installations.
- Elite Mooks: Most variants of Pfhor soldiers come in a standard and more elite variant. This includes such things as Hunters and Enforcers.
- The Empire: Theirs is a slaver empire.
- Extra Eyes/Spare Body Parts/Third Eye: The Pfhor tend to have three eyes, while Enforcers in Durandal and Infinity have seven.
- Faking the Dead: One Pfhor Engineer got slightly crazy trying to translate the tortured Nar's prophecy, enough to fake his own death so that he could continue his hobby.
- Flying Face: The Drones.
- Gas Mask Mooks: The Fighters have their lower half of the head covered with the breathing mask
- Godzilla Threshold: When the casualties get too high, they deploy the Trih Xeem.
- Glowing Mechanical Eyes: The Pfhor drones and the Juggernauts.
- Heavily Armored Mook: The Hunters.
- Hive Caste System: The Pfhor are hinted to be like this. In Infinity, Tycho says “bugs are so obedient” in reference to the Pfhor under his command, and they have a clear caste system in which the lower ranking members (Aggregate rank) are considered more expendable than the upper ranking ones (Willful rank), who are subordinate to an even higher ranking ones (Command rank).
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Most of their technology comes from scavenged Jjaro tech.
- Insectoid Aliens: A bizarre cross between hairless apes and bugs.
- King Mook: Mother of All Hunters and Mother of All Cyborgs.
- Lightworlder: The Pfhor come from the world with gravity lighter than Earth's, making them taller than average human and also making them better suited for vacuumless conditions.
- Mecha-Mooks: Drones, Tank Cyborgs and Juggernauts.
- Mind-Control Device: The Pfhor mindcontrol Cyborg in Marathon that simulates S'pht "royalty". They got better, but unseen, versions in the sequels.
- No Delays for the Wicked: Quite a few terminals in the sequels tell that this is averted.
- Nuke 'em: Nuclear bombs are the Pfhor's preferred weapon, but when THAT doesn't work? Well, then they get serious.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat/Vast Bureaucracy: The Pfhor empire are shown to be this here and there, enough for Tycho to almost cleanly commit casual treason by convincingly issuing orders to terminate the higher ranks of the ship he is currently on. The Game Mod Tempus Irae had a field day with this, with an interlude that was basically a one big "If you had to kill a superior officer and had a really good reason for it, press one" joke.
- Organic Technology: The Pfhor make extensive use of this, most clearly seen in their weapons, the Hunter armor, the Juggernaut, and their Space Jockey/Alien Hive like spacecraft interiors.
- The Political Officer: The Enforcers are described as such.
- Praetorian Guard: Tycho pits you against Admiral Tfear's personal guard in Infinity level You think you're Big Time? You gonna Die Big Time!. They consist of pairs of Elite gray-armoured fighters, troopers, hunters and one brown Juggernaut. And they are all mean.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Closest to the Conquistadores type.
- Shoulder Cannon: The Hunters' weapon.
- Skull for a Head: The Juggernauts' head in Marathon. It was redesigned in the sequels.
- Slave Mooks: The Pfhor have these, with the S'pht being the most notable.
- Torture Technician: The Enforcers.
- Unwilling Roboticisation: Word of God says that the Tank Cyborgs from Durandal and Infinity are made out of captured Tau Ceti colonists.
- Vestigial Empire: At least according to Durandal, who states that the Pfhor empire is in slow decline since the Drinniol slave rebellion.
- We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: The Pfhor are slavers who use and sell other races for various tasks, though the S'pht's application to computer engineering makes a bit more sense than usual since they're cyborgs.
- Zerg Rush: The number of Pfhor you fight, especially the fighters, tend to get very high after about halfway into the games.
Some sort of ill-understood creatures spoken of in ancient S'pht legend. They are said to "live in chaos" and spread chaos wherever they go, unraveling the fabric of the universe around them. In Infinity
, it turns out that they are very real, and finding some way to escape their influence is the driving conflict of the game.
- Big Bad: For Infinity.
- Chekhov's Gunman: They receive a few mentions in Durandal but aren't important to the plot. In Infinity, though, they matter a whole lot more.
- Eldritch Abomination: They unravel the laws of physics around them. Even the normally implacable Durandal is terrified of them, because even with his vast intelligence, he cannot understand anything about them.
- Horror Hunger: See the Nightmare Fuel subpage for the relevant quote.
- Hurl It into the Sun: They have been, and they're still alive!
- Precursor Killers: They are heavily implied to be the reason why the Jjaro aren't around anymore.
- Reality Warper: It's rumored they're the ones causing the timeline splits in Infinity.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Jjaro locked them into stars, black holes, whatever they could. Lh'owon's star is one such can.
- The Unpronounceable: Befitting nonsensical beings of chaos.