“As the writhing, teeming mass of Mind Worms swarmed over the outer perimeter, we saw the defenders recoil in horror. ‘Stay calm! Use your flame guns!’ shouted the commander, but to no avail. It is well known that the Mind Worm Boil uses psychic terror to paralyze its prey, and then carefully implants ravenous larvae in the brains of its still-conscious victims. Even with the best weapons, only the most disciplined troops can resist this horrific attack.”
— Lady Deirdre Skye, “Our Secret War”
It took me a while to figure out what was actually going on in this video. I certainly didn’t get it the first few times I played the game and built this secret project. The complication is threefold. First, this video accompanies the project that grants free Perimeter Defenses in every base (just like the Hive, but without the maintenance cost, which means that the Hive can still get some really good value from building it). And we know by now that Perimeter Defenses don’t help against mind worms. So that’s a strange choice.
Second, the images that go along with the video appear to be shots of a mural depicting the horror of a mind worm attack. We see panic and terror along with a shot of the worms drilling into a person’s head. It’s horrific enough that I always presumed this to be a memorial created by the survivors of the attack.
Third, Lady Deirdre is narrating the action over the shots of the mural as if she were there. “Our Secret War”, the title of the fictional work this quote is from, sounds like it’s a memoir of her wartime experiences. So that aligns with the idea that she’s actually there, describing the failure of the base defenders to protect the perimeter, despite being well-equipped with flamethrowers. If the base was overrun by mind worms, then how did she escape to write her memoirs?
It turns out the answer is so simple that I can’t believe I didn’t see it at first. Lady Deirdre was actually with the victorious attacking force! This wasn’t a random wild mind worm attack; this boil was driven by a human mind to overwhelm the base’s defenses. The doomed commander and his fellow defenders that she was observing failed to repulse her invasion.
That also implies that the mural was crafted by the Gaians to commemorate their victory. The careful renderings of mind worms spilling over the walls and drilling into human skulls were not intended to horrify the onlooker. Instead, they are supposed to fill him with pride at the sight of a great triumph on behalf of Planet and its noble guardians.
This shows just how far Deirdre and the Gaians are willing to go in defense of their ideals. We already knew that they were willing and able to use mind worms to kill their enemies. And we had some idea of what that meant. But to see them lionize it like this is new. It shows that they truly do not see this form of combat as any more illegitimate than combat with guns and lasers.
It is intriguing to note that the U.N. Charter agrees with them. The use of nerve gas and widespread nerve stapling are considered atrocities, but encouraging the native life to devour the brains of your still-conscious opponents is not. I suspect that part of this is that the vector of attack is completely novel, so how could it be in the U.N. Charter that was brought with the Unity?
But the other part of it is probably the plausible deniability of the attack. Mind worm raids happen. How can you really prove that a human hand is behind this one? Hence, the need to keep Lady Deirdre’s war secret. As long as she doesn’t admit it publicly, there’s no grounds for formal sanction.