The raid on the Command System took place in 1331 CE during the Idiran-Culture War in the Command System on Schar's World. Two groups, both nominally aligned with the Idiran Empire, mistakenly fought each other to capture a damaged Culture Mind from the planet. The mutual destruction of these groups allowed the Culture to rescue the Mind.
The Mind was intended for installation in a GSV. The factory ship it was on was attacked and destroyed by the Idirans. The Mind evacuated on a smaller ship but was intercepted by the Idiran 93rd Fleet. It self-destructed the escape ship and encoded a message in the blast, and escaped on personal warp units to Schar's World. "Mr. Adequate", the Dra'Azon overseer of the Planet of the Dead, allowed the Mind entry because it was in distress. It emerged in the Command System critically damaged: its field and hyperspace capabilities were disabled, and it only had one remote drone. Once in the System the Mind used the local resources to fashion crude defences and mislead pursuers.
The Idirans believed the Mind was meant for a new class of GSV and sought to capture it for intelligence purposes. The 93rd Fleet dispatched troops on a chuy-hirtsi warp animal to Schar's World in pursuit but the mission started inauspiciously when they were shot down upon crossing the Quiet Barrier. The survivors lost contact with the fleet but made their way to the Command System, killing the Changer caretakers on the way.
With contact with the team lost the Idirans turned to one of their agents, Horza, a Changer who had once served on Schar's World as a caretaker. It was believed the Dra'Azon would be more likely to allow the Changer access.
Kraiklyn's Free CompanyEdit
Horza was rescued from Sorpen by The Hand of God 137 specifically to capture the Mind. He was briefed by the Xoralundra but before he could be dispatched the ship was attacked by the GCU Nervous Energy and the Changer was forced to abandon ship. He was recovered by Clear Air Turbulence of Kraiklyn's Free Company and eventually came to command the Company. Horza used the Company to take him to Schar's World and carry out the Idiran mission. Horza originally intended to rendezvous with the 93rd Fleet near Schar's World but this was pre-empted by Culture subterfuge. As a result Horza eventually found himself fighting against the survivors of the first Idiran force.
The Culture dispatched Special Circumstancer Balveda to intercept Horza before he could reach Schar's World. This was unsuccessful and the agent was taken prisoner by Horza and Kraiklyn's Free Company. Balveda cooperatively accompanied the Company into the Command System.
The Culture was falling back from the surrounding volume and unable to maintain a blockade of the planet.
The Idirans read the message encoded in the destruct of the escaping Mind's ship which outlined its plan to hide on Schar's World. The 93rd Fleet dispatched a raiding party of of 44 troops to the planet on a chuy-hirtsi warp animal. They were shot down by "Mr. Adequate" within the Quiet Barrier using a weapon resembling gridfire, and crashed 2000 kilometres from the Command System's entrance. Eight Idirans and 19 medjel survived, but many were wounded. They set out on foot to the objective with only a little food and almost none of their equipment; communicators and weapons were destroyed and suit functions reduced to merely illumination and heating.
The Idirans numbers diminished as they died from their wounds, the extreme cold, and dehydration because it was not possible to consume the snow and ice without ill-effects. With so little food the survivors also resorted to cannibalism.The Idirans scaled mountains and lost two to crevasses while crossing three glaciers. In a mountain ring, the party's Querl was lost after sinking into an oil marsh thought to be frozen.
Death of the CaretakersEdit
The surviving raiders attacked the caretakers' base driven by a desperate need for food and shelter. The four Changer caretakers were killed. A medjel snapped Kierachell's neck while she slept. Xoxarle killed another barehanded. One Changer destroyed the base's controls with explosives and disabled the base's power before falling. The last fought and was killed in the storage area. One medjel was killed. The raiders had intended to keep a Changer alive for interrogation.
The raiders burned religious symbols into the walls and unsuccessfully attempted to create a mass sensor from salvaged parts. They took the caretakers two laser rifles and small pistols, freeze dried rations, and four portable communication sets, before heading down into the System. They unsuccessfully attempted to activate the power at station four. The Idirans did not know the correct procedure and instead destroyed a critical cable-run.
A medjel remained on the surface as a sentry with a communicator but no weapons. It was instructed to keep the communicator hidden. The sentry froze to death before the arrival of Kraiklyn's Free Company. When the Company discovered the body they did not find the communicator.
The raiding party did not know of the sentry's death. After being satisfied that they were the only ones in the tunnels other than the Mind they sent a medjel runner back to the surface with a laser carbine and plasma pistol to arm the sentry. The runner arrived on the surface just after Kraikyln's Free Company.
At station five the raiders engaged a crude turreted projectile gun-armed vehicle constructed by the Mind in the System's workshops. The vehicle was destroyed but killed the four remaining medjel.
Kraiklyn's Free Company and Clear Air Turbulence passed through the Quiet Barrier without incident. "Mr. Adequate" gave free passage after deducing Horza's mission. The ship touched down 200 metres from the System's entrance. The Company quickly discovered the ransacked caretaker base and signs of the Idiran raiding party. The Changer ordered only light weapons to be carried. Heavier weapons like plasma cannon and micronukes would be dangerous in close quarters and possibly cause unacceptable damage to the System. The Company was better equipped than the Idirans. They had fully functional suits with anti-gravity and two mass sensors, one in Horza's Rairch-built suit and one created from stripping down the unit mounted in Clear Air Turbulence. The mass sensors would make it much easier to detect the Mind. Finally, Horza knew how to activate the System's power.
The Company prepared to descend in the caretaker base. The medjel runner came up the spiral tunnel and fired on Yalson but missed. On Horza's order Neisin and Yalson exchanged fire with the medjel and kept it in the tunnel leading to the shafts. The runner's laser carbine was struck and destroyed and forced it back into an elevator shaft. The Changer moved into the tunnel while the others provided cover. He found it hanging from the edge of an elevator shaft and attempted to reason with it. The runner fired its plasma pistol, but Horza evaded and fired back. The wounded medjel let go of its hold and fell into the shaft.
The Company used an elevator shaft to descend by AG to the five-kilometre deep tunnels. They discovered the damage caused by the Idirans' attempt to activate the power. The damage was too extensive to repair immediately. The mass sensor rigged from Clear Air Turbulence only detected a backup fission reactor eight kilometres away on the lowest service level. They stopped at the station for the night. Horza broadcast a short message but received no reply from the Idirans.
The Company used AG, which was faster than walking, to float toward station five. They followed tracks made in the dust by the preceding Idiran raiders.
The Mind EvadesEdit
Quayanorl and Xoxarle, all that remained of the raiders, reached station six. They found the Mind's decoy, its last drone projecting a soligram and visually disguised as the Mind. The Idirans believed the decoy was the real thing and took its unresponsiveness as a result of the damage sustained during its daring hyperspace escape. By this time the raiders knew the Company had arrived and they planted an active communicator in the tunnel to station five and another at the mouth of the tunnel for early warning. They began preparing the parked train to carry the Mind back to the surface. Quayanorl worked in the control cab at the front, with Xoxarle further back in the reactor car.
Kraiklyn's Free Company approached from the train's rear. They were alerted to the activity in station six by noise while still two kilometres away. Horza moved in front and intended to parley with the Idirans before revealing the rest of the Company. He saw what appeared to be internal welding occurring in the reactor car and was concerned because of the age of the equipment. The Changer also saw the Mind's decoy. Horza noted the decoy did not project the same mass signature as expected of a Mind but for the time being the disguise held.
The Company discovered, and tripped, both planted communicators. Horza walked into the station but the Idirans were not in the mind to parley. Before the Changer could speak Xoxarle opened fire at him from a slit window near the train's rear. The helmet of Horza's Rairch-built suit took the plasma hit and was destroyed. The suit was heavily damaged and lost most of its functions; only a few sensors and a near useless mass sensor remained on backup power. Quayanorl also fired from the front of the train but missed. Yalson dragged the Changer out of the line of fire. Horza was merely stunned and blacked out.
The Company returned fire while Xoxarle repositioned. When the Company's fusillade stopped, Xoxarle fired from the bottom level of the last car at Dorolow and Wubslin. Dorolow was severely wounded. Under Quayanorl's cover fire, Xoxarle exited the car, shooting and killing Dorolow, and hitting Wubslin's gun arm. The Idiran was disabled when Yalson laser caused the passenger ramp and gantry to collapsed on him.
Quayanorl ran out onto the top level of the gantry at the front of the train and fired at the Mind-disguised drone. The drone was destroyed before it could escape. The Idiran was in turn struck multiple times by Yalson and Wubslin. Quayanorl fell to the station floor and was thought killed, but was only severely wounded.
The Search ContinuesEdit
Kraiklyn's Free Company took stock of their losses. They examined the destroyed drone and discovered the Mind's ruse. Unaha-Closp discovered Xoxarle was still alive. Xoxarle refused to believe Horza was acting under Xoralundra's orders. The Idiran remained uncooperative even after Balveda, a captured enemy Culture agent, corroborated the Changer's story. Horza took Xoxarle prisoner and hoped the Idiran would survive long enough to be court-martialed.
Balveda conferred covertly with Unaha-Closp about taking action against Horza. The Culture agent hoped the drone had military-grade equipment it had been hiding. The drone was sympathetic but had no additional equipment.
The Company detected a very strong mass in station seven as they left station six, stronger than the nuclear pile in station six's train. They stopped to rest half way to station seven. When the Company moved again Xoxarle unsuccessfully attempted to escape but managed to destroy the mass sensor.
Station seven had two trains, one in the main station and one in the repair area. Before its pursuers arrived the Mind hid itself in the reactor car in the main station's train and disguised itself as the reactor. With Clear Air Turbulence's mass sensor destroyed, and the one in Horza's suit damaged to minimal function, the Company could not tell the Mind was there when they arrived in the station. Nonetheless while the disguise was effective the Mind was otherwise blind and powerless.
The Company turned on the System's power with the station's functioning equipment. Wubslin could not repair Horza's mass sensor. The Changer sent Unaha-Closp to search the repair area and its train.
- ↑ Consider Phlebas, State of play: one
- ↑ Consider Phlebas, Interlude in darkness
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Consider Phlebas, chapter 11
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Consider Phlebas, chapter 2
- ↑ 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 Consider Phlebas, chapter 12
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Consider Phlebas, chapter 9
- ↑ Consider Phlebas, chapter 8
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 Consider Phlebas, chapter 10
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Consider Phlebas, chapter 13