Ranathawn Diary: Balmorra

After fleeing from an attack by the Voidwolf on our contact point, we were directed to Balmorra to obtain some new weapons from what was called Project Nebula. Balmorra is a planet that was in the Republic but was invaded by the Empire, and once the situation became untenable the Republic pulled out and left it to the Empire. The Balmorra people don’t care for Empire rule, but also aren’t that happy with the Republic for abandoning them, and are keeping up a resistance movement that the Republic is now trying to aid, despite only having one small beachhead in an area overrun by large bugs. By which I mean human-sized bugs. So Balmorra’s not a good place to take a vacation, in other words.

I decided that I’d go out on these missions with Risha. To start, I actually like her. She’s competent and has some sense of honour, and she can be fun to be around. There’s something pleasing about two footloose and fancy-free women going out on the town to cause some mischief. Second, she’s actually pretty competent in a way that the others aren’t. Bowdaar is pretty much pure muscle and Corso is good with guns, but Risha has more subtlety to her than they do, because of her criminal background. This makes her a good back-up for cases like this. And, finally, she’s trying to reclaim her throne, and these missions are all about working with the Republic, which will get us some attention and possibly an association with the higher-ups in the Republic political and military structures (we’re already in contact with a well-known Senator). It’s a good chance for her to get known so that if she needs to call on them for help she can.

The one problem is that Risha has been taught mostly criminal activities, not politics, so she often gets annoyed when I take on jobs for the military and political entities without demanding payment first. The thing is, as a criminal or mercenary it’s the right call to look after your own interests first, but you aren’t going to be seen as a hero or even as someone incredibly useful if you do. If you act like a mercenary, you’re going to be treated as one, and being treated as one means you aren’t going to get to sit in on any of the interesting meetings; they’re going to pay you and tell you to stand by in case they need to pay you again. But if you seem like a patriot, then they’re going to involve you in those things, especially if you’re successful enough that they can use you to rally their forces. That gets you into the inner circles where the power is, and anyone who wants to play politics needs access to the power, one way or another.

That’s why when the opportunity came up to redirect some of the weapons to the Balmorran resistance instead of sending them all to the Republic I sent them all to the Republic. Sure, I was sympathetic to the Balmorran cause, but no matter what happened the Republic movers and shakers would see me as someone only interested in making a buck rather than the “greater good”, and their “principles” won’t let them make such a person part of the inner circle … or, at least, not after the hard work is done. I need an in there, and playing nice with them gets me that.

This is actually one of the bigger differences between the Republic and the Empire. The Empire, based as it is on the Sith philosophies, tends to accept those whose motivation is self-interest. In fact, often people in the Empire are suspicious of someone who claims to have no self-interested motives for doing something. The Republic, on the other hand, is all about sacrificing for the greater good, likely because of how it is influenced by the philosophies of the Jedi. Except the problem is that the Republic isn’t free from self-interest or motivated reasoning, and so oftentimes they have to try to justify their actions by appealing to the “greater good” even if it really isn’t.

I saw this in spades with the Barrager, an incredibly powerful weapon that uses pretty much every sort of power that a planet produces to fight off an attacking fleet. This really sounds like a pyrrhic victory, and so it only makes sense that it’s a weapon that was originally designed by the Empire. I was tasked with finding it and destroying it, but on two occasions the Republic commander seemed willing to put his own interests over principles. First, I had one use of a console, and he wanted me to use it to deal with an attack on his forces instead of helping out some hackers. This doesn’t seem unreasonable, except that those hackers were, in fact, the ones who got him access to that console and were only in trouble because they did that. Yes, sometimes you have to make sacrifices, but letting those useful hackers who helped out die isn’t likely to win you any favours in the future. But the worst was with the Barrager itself. While I had thought that we were supposed to destroy it, the commander wanted to keep it and use it. What was the “greater good” here? Seemingly luring a fleet to Balmorra, using the Barrager to destroy it, and thus ensuring that that fleet couldn’t devastate any other planet. So, essentially, turn Balmorra into Taris to prevent another planet from becoming Taris. It’s difficult to see how that trade off is one that fits in with Republic principles.

In the Empire, the underlying philosophy is to be self-interested … but, then, when you come across someone who stands for principles and order they’re almost certainly telling the truth. In the Republic, self-sacrifice is strongly encouraged … but that means that anyone who is self-centered is always going to at least mouth the ideals of self-sacrifice even as they — intentionally or not — focus on their own self-interest. I wonder if the Jedi and if some of the general Jedi arrogance comes from that: having to constantly convince themselves that the actions they take really are for the “greater good” even when, at times, they aren’t.

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