Arrival is the first chapter in Marathon and contains three levels mostly serving as an introduction to core concepts of the game. During this chapter the player is to several different enemies, weapons, and the story.
The player arrives on the UESC Marathon, a large colony ship created from the Mars moon of Deimos that has been relocated to orbit the human colony of Tau Ceti. He starts in a hangar area and upon accessing the first terminal he receives a message from Leela, one of the AIs on the Marathon. Leela informs him that the ship has been invaded by alien forces and instructs him to find the exit terminal in the Hanger Control Room while she gathers more information.
By the time the player reaches the control room, Leela has discovered the invading aliens have attacked the computer net as well. The player is instructed to kill any aliens that are accessing Marathon computer systems. To help with this Leela teleports the player to another area of the ship to find the M-75 Assault Rifle/Grenade Launcher. Here Leela explains the communications on the colony have been disrupted: the spaceport and the radio antenna have both been attacked so there is little chance of help arriving.
Once the player has found the assault rifle Leela gives more details of the Pfhor attack. The automated defense systems and the other two Marathon AIs, Durandal and Tycho, were incapacitated by the aliens. As a result Leela has taken on the duties and tasks of the malfunctioning AIs and formulated a plan to re-activate the Marathon's defense systems. The security officer needs to collect three new circuit boards for this defense system so that it can come back online. Once completed, Leela transports him to Defense Control to re-activate the defense system.
- This takes place in the hangar area. It is a simple introductory level that just requires the player to find the exit teleport jump pad.
- Another basic level. The player is tasked to find the MA-75 Assault Rifle/Grenade Launcher.
- This level is set in a manufacturing area of the Marathon. The objective is to find three circuit boards that will be used to later reactivate the on-board defense system.
- Although Durandal is the AI who communicated with the security officer before boarding the Marathon, it is Leela who directs the player in this chapter. The only contact with Durandal is a surreal story found on Public Access Terminal 95-w in Never Burn Money. This terminal is one of the most difficult to access in the entire game as it requires climbing a wall using grenade jumping and then solving a teleporter puzzle.
- Any terminals found near Compilers will report a security breach, as if the compiler has accessed it before the security officer.
- In the Aleph One version of Marathon, the first level starts as the last level of Pathways into Darkness, the preceding Bungie game. This was done as means of suggesting that both games exist in the same universe. In the original Macintosh version of the game, this reference doesn't exist.
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