Vorticon Mothership

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The Vorticon Mothership in orbit around Earth

The Vorticon Mothership is a large, Vorticon shaped spaceship used by the Vorticons to attack Earth. According to the plans that Keen obtains in Keen 2, it is powered by cells from the Big Purple Space Amoeba in eight separate places, each of which must be destroyed before the ship is fully disabled. These are known as Tantalus Rays, and each ray is aimed at a separate notable Earth city and can be activated with a simple switch. The eight cities targeted are as follows:

  • Washington
  • Moscow
  • Rome
  • Paris
  • London
  • Cairo
  • Sydney
  • New York

Keen's mission in Keen 2 is to board and disable the Mothership. It is notable that Keen enters the Mothership where the rear would be if it were a real Vorticon, suggestive of the quirky humor of the ID team that is also responsible for the later appearance of Fucl.


The Vorticon Mothership blueprints as the Keen 2 world map

The Mothership contains a diverse array of levels. For a list of the levels on the mothership, see Keen 2 Levels.

None of the game's levels (except from Home A and Home B) has an official name. However, on the Mothership blueprints that act as world map, there is an inscription in the Standard Galactic Alphabet near each level. Levels containing Tantalus Control Rooms have the name of the city they are aiming at written next to them. They are usually called "<City> Tantalus Center", though they are never referred to that way in the games. Other levels contain two letters that are probably abbreviations of their names; however, the real names can only be theorized from those letters.

It is also worth mentioning that the Rome and Moscow maps must have been mixed up during the game's development, as entering the level marked Rome on the world map actually enters the Moscow level, and vice versa (see Keen 2 Bugs for more info.)

The two so-called "Home" levels appear to be some sort of nurseries, containing Youths and Vorticon Elders, which may suggest that on some level at least, the Mothership has nonmilitary functions. It is also possible that those levels are simply the sleeping quarters for the ship's crew.

Construction and design

Keen finds blueprints for the Vorticon Mothership on one of the Vorticons from Mars. The blueprints are shown as the world map in Keen 2. It can be noted that there is a small note on the blueprints, in the Standard Galactic Alphabet, saying "BLUEPRINTS ACME". Acme is probably the company that produced the blueprints; therefore, it is highly likely that they constructed the Vorticon Mothership itself for the Vorticons. Acme is probably a reference to the cartoon company that builds anything. It is also the company that built the Oracle in Keen 4.

The ship seems to have the following components. It seems to run on some plasma or atomic fuel, which is housed in the Reactor Core in the center of the ship. The energy is sent to the engines (Engine Room A and Engine Room B) near the rear thrusters, which allow the ship to move in space. The ship also seems to have two crew quarters (Home A and Home B), and a food storage bay (Bottom Galley). It also appears to have secondary attack systems on the two front paws, and next two them two weapon storages (Weaponry A and Weaponry B). The main attack system are the eight Tantalus Rays, controlled from the eight Tantalus Centers, which fire through the ship's mouth.

There is some debate as to why the Mothership is equipped with eight Tantalus rays when the activation of only one is sufficient to destroy the earth (something that can be seen if Keen flicks a Tantalus Control Switch). It is currently believed that these have two advantages: firstly to act as backups in case of a major attack or malfunction, and secondly, that the simultaneous (or nearly so) blast from all eight rays is needed to atomize the Earth and avoid formation of dangerous shrapnel that may pose problems for the orbiting Mothership.