Storm Mine is the sixth and final audio play in the Kaldor City series. Written by Daniel O'Mahony, it centres on the character of Blayes, who finds herself awaking on a storm mine going round in circles in the desert.
Publisher's summary Edit
"Evolution. No one said it was going to be easy."
Eighteen months after her final confrontation with Iago, Blayes awakes to find Kaldor City in quarantine and herself on a Storm Mine in the Blind Heart Desert. Her companions are three strangely familiar figures, a vengeful spirit -- and a robot with a dangerous secret.
Trapped in a claustrophobic, dreamlike environment, the former terrorist must now undertake a journey which may end in the destruction of her world... or its beginning.
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(in order of appearance)
- Iago - Paul Darrow
- Blayes - Tracy Russell
- Chief Mover - John Leeson
- Commander - Philip Madoc
- Medvoc - Alistair Lock
- Supervoc 6 - Mark J. Thompson
- Voc 23 - Gregory de Polnay
- Voc - Robert Lock
- Voc 65 - William Johnston
- Dockmaster - Wanda Opalinska
- Chief Fixer - Patricia Merrick
- Blayes is believed to be the only survivor from her flier, if indeed she was with anyone else. The crew of the Storm Mine that found her thought she might have come from another Storm Mine, but there were no signs that that was the case. The Chief Mover's first thought she was on ore raider.
- V23 was present when Blayes was discovered.
- Iago appears to Blayes only as a disembodied voice. Blayes is all Iago now has left. Blayes can no longer remember what Iago looks like. When she hears his voice she now pictures V23.
- Iago describes Blayes as the most notorious terrorist in the planet's history.
- The last thing Blayes remembers was being in Kaldor City the day she tried to kill Iago.
- There are patches of shadow on the X-ray of Blayes's skull. Iago suspects you'd see something similar on the skull's of visionarys and ecstatics. He thinks they must be the only pictures of Blayes that make her look like a saint.
- Iago postulates that what Blayes may be experiencing could be the product of an elaborate kidnapping by her former employers (the conspiracy theory), the crew of the Storm Mine are lying to her as to what has happened in Kaldor City (the simplest theory) or she is suffering through a stress-induced hallucination. However, Iago reminds her that since he's supposed to be dead and nobody else can see or hear him, his word probably isn't very reliable.
- Blayes has had a scar on the nape of her neck since she was a girl. The scar is no longer there.
- Blayes has been given a room on the Storm Mine that used to be the Pilot's quarters, she was about Blayes' size.
- The Chief Mover seemingly hears Iago words, but thinks it Blayes talking to herself.
- Iago considers a 'serial sex killer' to be an improvement over being 'a hopeless fool', the former of which Iago thinks the Chief Mover is.
- The Chief Mover has listened to the Dockmaster's message, declaring Kaldor City to be quarantined, almost everyday for the last 18 months. The Chief Mover mis-remembers the Dockmaster's words as "We must all pull together". When the Commander plays the message for Blayes, the final statement is: "We're all in this together".
- The Chief Mover is knows who Blayes is and of her reputation.
- The Commander told the Company that the Chief Mover was unsuitable for the position but they didn't listen.
- The Commander considers 'Elska' to be an old fashioned and romantic name.
- It's rare for The Commander to get upset.
- The Commander considers revolution an insignificant concept when compared to evolution.
- The Chief Fixer reportedly considers the human face to be a dangerous pattern, and as such she no longer wishes to be recognised.
- The Chief Fixer describes Blayes as a 'mutation generator'.
- V23 claims the Chief Mover was killed by ore raiders. Blayes says that no one believes in ore raiders any more.
Kaldor City Edit
- Kaldor City has been quarantined for 18 months. The quarantine came right on top of the outbreak of killer robots.
- All the communication channels are dead, an recorded message informs that all communications are now running on 'automatic circuit' as Kaldor City is quarantined until further notice. Iago thinks the message is deliberate in order to confuse Blayes, and that the longer she takes to realise she is a prisoner the harder it will be for her to escape.
- The Commander believes that they aboard the Storm Mine are amongst the last human beings left alive on the planet, that the other 15 million are dead. He suspects there maybe other pockets of survivors, but not enough to make a difference.
- The air on the planet is manufactured.
- It is an unfashionable view that life didn't occur naturally on the planet.
- The Commander believes that systems such as the Company evolve out of a sense of existential insecurity.
Blind Heart Desert Edit
- Blayes was found in The Painted Sea one of the deeper regions of the Blind Heart Desert. Its like quick sand, or walking on water. Another few hours out there and Blayes would have been 'sand shredded'. She just missed a big blow.
- Blayes was only found because as the Commander was performing 'wave observation experiments' on the desert. Performing such operations isn't normal procedure, but the Commander has an extra curricular interest in the desert.
- The Commander wondered whether Blayes was in the desert researching the local geology.
- When they picked Blayes up, the Commander thought it was just another corpse, the desert giving up its dead.
- There is an exosuit in locker 3. It is worn by humans going outside into the desert to protect them from the elements. It has magnetic clamps to aid stability, however the suit is useless in a full scale blow.
Storm Mine Edit
- Blayes has never been on a Storm Mine.
- There was an accident on the mine 18 months ago, there are only 3 of the crew left. The crew of the Storm Mine have apparently been touring the desert for nearly 4 years. Although mining tours usually only last 2 years.
- Since communicating with the Dockmaster 18 months ago, the crew have had no with contact with anyone from outside the Storm Mine.
- The Storm Mine has been circuiting round and round in a figure of eight for over a year, ever since the quarantine prevented them from returning to Kaldor City.
- Storm Mine had got a "good score", the Commander's personal best. The mine is full of Lucanol.
- There should have been at least 3 other storm mines on tour at the same time. They send out messages every month, but get no reply.
- The Chief Mover is Company Security, its been standard procedure for the past 10 years.
- The Chief Fixer has a workshop on the lowest level. When Blayes goes there it is covered in dust unused.
- Storm Mine's are usually crewed with those that are greedy, ambitious, and/or have the right family connections.
- There are fictionalised dramas about life on Storm Mines.
- Kaldor City was built by Storm Mines. Its whole economy depends on them.
- Lodean, a mineral, is only useful for building robots.
- The only difference between the Vocs and the Dums are functional ones.
- The other crew members of the Storm Mine died in an accident involving three robots, V26, V5 and D41. They went rogue and killed the rest of the crew. And then after about an hour they stopped and went back to work as if nothing untoward had happened. The 3 robots were spiked through the head with a laserson probe and then corpse marked. A corpse marker is what technicians call a robot deactivation disc.
- V23 was associated with the Chief Fixer, before being assigned to Blayes.
- Robots normally scare Blayes.
- A robot can keep pace with a human, they never give up.
- The Commander dictates his memoirs to V11, which stores them in its memory.
- The Commander's main interest is geology. He considers the robot to be a remarkable piece of geology.
- It is often an early sign of robophobia to forget the fact that robots do not think.
- V23 believes it is possible for robots to dream. V23 is apparently capable of dreaming. It has a recurring dream of being hung from a tree of flesh. He is not alone, many humans are there with him, he estimates millions. Their living bodies form the trunk of the tree. It twists and writhes as though caught in wind, but the air is still. They are struggling to break free, though they are fused with one another, and their violence only makes things worse. Either side there are hungry faces and hungry voices overwhelming V23. V23's voice is obscured by the cacophony. V23 no longer has a name, it is lost in a sea of names. The hands of the tree pin them down, the thorns wind through their bodies binding them together. They have become one being. There is no escape.
- The Chief Fixer has built transmitters that interfere with V23's memory, and as such it has no memory of what she looks like. She has tampered with its programming, and has altered its interface with the 'command circuit'.
- The Chief Fixer gives V23 a corpse marker and free will.
- The real V23 has been deactivated for 18 months. The Chief Fixer substituted it for one of the killer robots by swapping the designation numbers. She describes V23 as a new form of life, the killer program has introduced new protocols, new routines and new patterns. When it was neutralised clusters of randomised data remained, this is the robotic equivalent of a dormant mutation.
- V23 disappears from the 'command circuit' and disables all the other robots, returning them to their default state.
- The way V23 processes and references information has become randomised. Its capacity to learn and take spontaneous and complex decisions is increasing exponentially. The more it experiences the more sophisticated it becomes.
- Robots can store every possible configuration of the Chess board in their head. V23 disagrees with Blayes that it kills the spirit of the game.
- The Commander made the pieces of the chess set from volcanic obsidian sandstone.
- The Commander doesn't play chess, believing it to be a game for young men and robots.
- Blayes plays chess with V23:
- V23 has the white pieces, and considers it to be the advantage.
- V23's first move is Pawn to King 4
- Iago suggests Blayes moves Pawn to King 5 as her first move.
- V23 considers King's rook to King 8 to be an interesting move.
- V23: Queen's Knight to Queen 2.
- V23: King's Knight to King's Rook 4, taking Blayes' Knight, provoking a straight exchange.
- Blayes: Queen to King's Rook 4, taking V23's Knight.
- V23: Queen to King 2.
- Blayes: Queen to Queen's Knight 6, check.
- So far they have played 43 moves. V23 claims only the first 18 moves were stored in its memory
- V23: King to King's Bishop 1
- Blayes: King's Rook to King's Knight 8
- V23: Knights Rook to King's Rook 6. At this point Iago urges Blayes to resign otherwise it will be checkmate, she complies.
- V23 believes Blayes could have forced a stalemate.
- In an attempt to show her the extent of her own freedom, Iago instructs Blayes to clear the remaining pieces from the chess board. He instructs for one of the Knights to placed on any square of the board, and tells her to consider a Knight with total freedom of movement once all the other pieces have been removed from the game. The Knight is Blayes. She's still stuck with the movements of the Knight, she'll never land on the same square more than once as she goes round and round, but she'll always return to her original position. A complete circuit, a trap.
- The story takes the form of a first-person narrative told entirely, except for a single scene at the climax, from the point of view of Blayes.
- The story at first glance seems to bear no real connection to the Kaldor City series as a whole. When questioned on the play's apparent lack of connection to the previous instalments, producer Alan Stevens often directs listeners to the analysis of the play by author Dale Smith, who postulates that the events seen in this play are taking place within the Fendahl gestalt as experienced from Blayes' perspective. This interpretation also speculates that Iago is attempting to subvert the gestalt from within. The refrain that "We're all in this together" would seem to support this theory. Another interpretation is that it's all a metaphor, part of the political and sexual power plays that permeate the themes of the series. This is supported by AUDIO: The Prisoner and AUDIO: Metafiction in which both stories feature characters seemingly aware they are part of a fictional world.
- The story involves several Buddhist themes derived from the teaching of Zen Master Linji Yixuan, founder of the Rinzai school:
- Followers of the Way, if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go.
- This teaching is echoed almost exactly in this story:
- When you set out upon a journey, kill everyone you happen upon: kill your friends and your parents and your children, should you meet them on the road. Kill the topmasters, the firstmasters, and the holy men; only that way can you become free. Only when you have killed everyone will you become truly enlightened.
- The difference is that Linji was speaking metaphorically, and did not carry a plasma pistol.
- Two specially recorded audio trailers were released to promote this story, both in the form of short monologues, as read in character, one by Gregory de Polnay as V23, and the other by Tracy Russell as Blayes. The one featuring V23, echoes the words of American novelist, Ellen Glasgow:
- All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.
- The copyright notice printed on the CD release of this production states: "Unauthorised copying, hiring, renting, public performance and broadcasting is strictly prohibited or you'll be found face down in the Painted Sea."
- This story was part of a recording block that also consisted of two Faction Paradox audio productions: Coming To Dust, and The Ship of a Billion Years.
- Gregory de Polnay (V23) previously played D84 in TV: The Robots of Death.
- The CD cover art was designed by Andy Hopkinson.
- The third edition of Mad Norwegian Press' reference work AHistory leaves this story unplaced due to its ambiguous nature. However if information provided in the story is taken at face value, that it has been 18 months since AUDIO: Checkmate, a year of 2892 would fit its version of the timeline.
- Although not part of the series as produced by Magic Bullet Productions, AUDIO: Robophobia is placed an arbitrary amount of time after TV: The Robots of Death allowing for the continuity established by the Kaldor City series in between. If AUDIO: Robophobia is considered to be part of the same continuity it presumably means the inhabitants of Kaldor City, or at the very least part of its civilisation, somehow manage to survive the fate strongly implied by Storm Mine. (See continuity section in AUDIO: Robophobia for further information as to its placement in relation to the series.)
- This story was adapted into a stage play of the same name by Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore.
- It has seemingly been 18 months since the conclusion of AUDIO: Checkmate. Blayes remembers nothing since that time. Kaldor City itself has apparently been quarantined since then due to the outbreak of killer robots.
- There are several hints within the play that all is not as it seems - for example, several of the characters bear similarities to characters from earlier stories, such as Philip Madoc's Commander sharing mannerisms with Russell Hunter's Uvanov, himself once a Storm Mine Commander, and John Leeson's mild mannered Chief Mover being much like David Collings' Poul, himself once a Chief Mover working undercover for Company security aboard a Storm Mine. Gregory de Polnay's performance as V23 is reminiscent of his previous performance in TV: The Robots of Death as D84.
- As with TV The Robots of Death this story is set entirely on board a Storm Mine.
- Blayes assertion that no one believes in ore raiders echoes a similar comment made by Borg in TV: The Robots of Death. Also, in PROSE: Corpse Marker the official reason given for the Storm Mine Four incident was 'ore raiders'.
- The Fendahl appears, apparently manipulating the crew and one of its robots for its own ends. (TV: Image of the Fendahl)
- V23 is given instructions by the Chief Fixer, who communicates with the sound usually associated with the Fendahl. A connection between the desert winds, known as 'the emptiness' in PROSE: Corpse Marker, and the Fendahl is suggested in the way the individual sound effects are crossfaded together. In AUDIO: Checkmate, the Fendahl Core mentions 'the emptiness' also suggesting some sort of connection between the two things.
- The Chief Fixer describes Blayes as a 'mutation generator'. (TV: Image of the Fendahl)
- V23 believes it is possible for robots to dream. SASV1 was capable of dreaming in PROSE: Corpse Marker.
- The gestalt entity V23 dreams about is reminiscent of the Fendahl. (TV: Image of the Fendahl)
- Iago says the colour 'Red' suits Blayes. In AUDIO: Occam's Razor he said 'Red' attracts psychopaths.
- The Storm Mine reminds Blayes of a deserted Storm research station she visited just after she first met Iago. (AUDIO: Death's Head)
- When Blayes was working for the Tarenists, she was also working for Company Chairholder Uvanov. (AUDIO: Hidden Persuaders)
- The air on the planet is manufactured. (AUDIO: Hidden Persuaders)
- Blayes mentions the terrorist attacks she was involved with against Oxygenator Four (AUDIO: Hidden Persuaders), and Company Central (AUDIO: Taren Capel) were both legitimate targets.
- Iago's bored dismissal of some diary tapes discovered by Blayes contrasts with his rigorous examination of Taren Capel's diary recordings in AUDIO: Taren Capel.
- Iago mentions that his voice will show up on a security recording if you listen hard to the static. Paullus did this in AUDIO: Taren Capel and AUDIO: Checkmate.
- The 3 killer robots aboard the Storm Mine were spiked through the head with a laserson probe and then Corpse marked. (TV: The Robots of Death) Also in AUDIO: Checkmate it is established that not all robots would be affected by Taren Capel's trigger phrase, due to upgrades that have occurred since he originally installed the command, hence why only 3 of the robots aboard the Storm Mine were affected.
- Taren Capel's trigger phrase activating the killer robots was released in AUDIO: Taren Capel. The command was neutralised a short time after in AUDIO: Checkmate paralleling here with the rogue robots onboard the Storm Mine suddenly returning to normal shortly after going rouge.
- Blayes plays chess with a robot. As did Uvanov in TV: The Robots of Death, and Carnell in AUDIO: Taren Capel.
- Inside one of the rooms of the Storm Mine, Blayes re-lives her final confrontation with Iago that occurred at the conclusion of AUDIO: Checkmate. The difference this time being that Iago's voice fades away into static. The scene as it originally occurred is re-played as part of an opening prologue at the start of the play, here it is overlayed by a sound effect associated with the Fendahl.
- Iago comments "History tends to repeat itself." In AUDIO: Checkmate he was seemingly given the chance to go back in time and change things.
- Iago comments "Hell is the place you relive the moment of your death over and over." Carnell (or possibly the Fendahl using Carnell's aspect) said something similar at the end of AUDIO: Checkmate.