Archive for the ‘Fanfic’ Category

Ranathawn Diary: Quesh

November 6, 2019

So, after the war-torn but still pleasant planet of Balmorra, we were sent to the toxic swamp of Quesh. Quesh is a planet that both sides are fighting over because it has some unique chemicals that can be turned into impressive drugs to improve the fighting ability of people by an outstanding degree. Of course, it can often cause addiction and terrible side effects, but they keep trying to get them and use them on their soldiers to fight to control the supply.

See, this is precisely why I say that the Republic and the Empire aren’t all that different.

There was the usual cases where the Republic officers kept trying to force me to choose tactical superiority over, you know, the lives of the people creating the stuff in the first place, but I decided that the better option here was to save the workers and things like that, not the least of which because you can guilt the Republic into thinking better of you if you rub you being altruistic when they were being pragmatic in their faces. That’s probably one reason why the Jedi gained so much power in the first place, as no one rubs altruism into other people’s faces better than they do.

However, there was an interesting traitor, a Major frustrated by not being able to take direct measures to oppose the Empire so he … decided to defect to them for some reason. Of course, an idiot like that is someone that no Sith is going to feel in any way indebted to, even the ones that have a sense of honour, so the Sith used the drugs to turn him into a super soldier and turned him on me, knowing that either I’d kill him or the drugs would. Well, I did neither, managing to defeat him and give him the cure, and then turned him over to be arrested. He was an idiot for his attempts at betrayal, but he didn’t deserve to die over that.

But I also picked up some help for myself and Risha, as I came to the aid of the privateer Ozzik and then used my help to take control of his gang. He was upset that doing so would stop him from the good work he at least considered himself to be doing, but I assured him that he could keep doing it … as long as he always came when I called. I guess he was used to other crime lords or bosses who would insist on his only doing criminal things, but, hey, I’m a privateer, not a pirate. I’m perfectly willing to do legitimate things and helpful illegitimate things if it gets the job done.

Risha didn’t care for Quesh, but now we’re going to go to the averaging out planet … and she didn’t get the first part of that average, for better or for worse.

Ranathawn Diary: Balmorra

October 9, 2019

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.

Ranathawn Diary: Privateer

October 2, 2019

So, after that treasure hunt, we needed something else to do. Sure, we had goals. I needed to worm my way deeper into the Republic command and political structure to get more information. Risha needed to build up support so that she could become the ruler of her planet again. Corso needed to get more guns that he could give stupid names to. Bowdaar … needed some raw meat or something. But the next steps on those journeys weren’t clear.

And then Darmas Pollaran contacted us. He’d been a minor contact when we were looking for our ship, but figured that we might be useful for a bigger job: becoming a privateer for the Republic. Of course, I jumped at the chance. What better way to gain the fame needed to walk among the movers and shakers of the Republic than to prove an important asset in their war against the Empire? And with an Imperial agent called the Voidwolf out there and some additional complications from Rogun, we were able to put on a live demonstration of our abilities, impressing any number of important people, including a Senator.

However, there is one downside to this: this definitely puts me in opposition to the Empire. I have no idea if the Voidwolf is someone we might want to recruit or not, but whatever we do is going to hurt his reputation and likely get him killed. I’ve been a citizen of the Empire all my life. I recognize its flaws. I understand Galen’s reasoning that the two flawed institutions must be torn down and merged into something better. My personal experience backs that up. But here I will definitely be directly opposing the Empire, which I’ve never done before, and risk killing people that are, at heart, like me: more interested in helping the Empire than personal gain or tearing it down, and will in fact help people whose sole goal is tearing it down. That’s … a bit daunting, even for me.

Ranathawn Diary: Treasure

August 7, 2019

So, with the hyperdrive installed, it was time to finally find that treasure. Well, almost. First, we had to go rescue some friends of Risha’s who were targeted because … someone wanted to kill her. Why? Because, as it turns out, she was nobility herself. I guess her distaste for the Alderaanian nobles was more disappointment that, deep-down, they weren’t really any better than anyone else, and so that world that she was hoping to potentially rejoin someday wasn’t actually any better than the one she had now. Her father likely regaled her with stories of her noble birthright in an attempt to motivate her to seek it out, and having her illusions shattered like that had to be devastating.

After freeing them — and having Risha be blamed for something that happened because she existed and some people were upset about that — it was finally time to unthaw the carbonite frozen person and see who it was. It turned out to be Risha’s father, the notorious Nok Drayen. Which makes sense. He disappeared without a trace, there were multiple conflicting stories about his death, and Risha when asked about how she thought this person that she had researched and had intimate knowledge of died wouldn’t speculate, since she couldn’t actually tell any true story about his death (and knew I’d figure out this mystery). Still, he was actually dying of some kind of disease and only had a little time left to tell me where the treasure was, which was a treasure ship from an old ruler of their planet. He wanted a crown that Risha could use to stake her claim as the ruler of her world, and offered me everything else if I took it.

I wasn’t that interested in the treasure, but was curious about the whole story and so went along.

Anyway, it turns out that the ruler had decided to flee the planet with the treasures and took along all of his crew, and then had them killed by his droid guards. He did this, of course, instead of simply only taking a droid crew in the first place. Nobles do often tend to think of their servants as disposable.

At any rate, I managed to get the treasure and the crown, but then discovered that Skavak had stowed away on the ship somehow and was waiting for us, to try to kill us. I then promptly killed him and went on my way.

Funny, I would have thought he’d’ve been a bigger antagonist than that. Oh, well.

Anyway, when we got back to Drayven he proved that he was a noble of the sort mentioned above, as he ordered Risha to kill me so that she could keep all the treasure for herself, as a test of her ability to lead. Because clearly a good leader and ruler couldn’t think of doing something like oh, say, asking me if I’d help her out with becoming ruler and putting the treasure on hold until then? Which, in my case, would have been completely safe because getting involved in the politics served my mission better than picking up a bunch of treasure, and she could have always tried to kill me later if I said no. But Risha refused, Drayen died, and Risha then joined the crew. I expect that her quest to rule is going to come up later.

But now we needed to find something else to do, and we then received a message …

Ranathawn Diary: Nobility

July 31, 2019

We arrived on Alderaan, where I discovered that I was going to have to deal with (shudder) nobles. Risha admitted that she had been enamoured of the nobility at one point but once she had to actually interact with them she completely lost that … so much so that she didn’t even want to leave the ship this time.

That being said, it went surprisingly well. The nobles that I had to make the delivery to — a brother and sister from a weakened house — were generally reasonable, beyond the brother thinking himself a ladies man and constantly flirting with me. There were a few complications — such as needing to get some information and eventually having to fight a duel over that theft — but for the most part the problems were easily handled, they paid easily and willingly, and seemed definitely appreciative.

The other nobles were also generally reasonable. Charle Organa contracted me to help him out against Imperial attacks and attacks from other houses, but when his enemy took hostages and demanded he come or else they would be killed, he did and didn’t hide behind his army or behind me. And his enemy himself, despite being willing to take hostages, lived up to his end of the bargain, letting them go in exchange for, surprisingly, me, and then living up to the end of that bargain by not hurting me in any way in captivity despite me being the biggest thorn in his side. Thus, when we caught up to him and captured him, I advocated that he not be killed. He lived up to the end of his bargain, I lived up to ours and acted honourably. And he even appreciated that.

Even Baron Ulgo, who was trying to usurp the throne, wasn’t without honour. He really did seem to believe that what he was doing was in the best interest of Alderaan. In fact, it was more likely that he was a little mentally disturbed than that he was evil or power-mad, as he bashed House Panteer for abandoning the Republic while he, himself, was taking Imperial aid in his campaign. But I held him over for trial; he deserved to be able to make his case, for all the good it might do him.

House Panteer, on the other had, was not so good. Their leader wanted me to kill Ulgo outright, because even captured he would be “too great a threat”. Generally, when nobles say that they mean that he is too great a threat to their claim to the throne, meaning that he probably has some kind of legitimate claim or grievance that they don’t want to have to deal with. Especially since nobles, after “fair” trials, usually have the option of executing these “threats” themselves. Asking someone else to do it only means that the person has things to say that they don’t want said. Well, to heck with that. If they want to silence someone, let them do it themselves.

Of course, Skavak caused issues, as he traded a fake Sith Lord head for the hyperdrive that he knew we wanted and tried to take off with it. But it didn’t take much work to track him down, and while he wasn’t there it was easy for me to dodge his trap and take the hyperdrive back and install it. Really, at this point it’s clear that he’s sneaky, but ultimately no match for us. So much for having an arch-rival …

Ranathawn Diary: I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name.

July 24, 2019

The next delivery took us to Tatooine. Tatooine, as a planet, is comprised entirely of deserts and rocky crags under the burning heat of twin suns, where water has to be dragged out of the sky and stored somehow just to avoid dying of thirst and having anything that looks even remotely like settlements. Such an inhospitable planet can’t help but become a hive of scum and villainy.

I spent the entire time there wondering why in the world Galen doesn’t let me buy a speeder bike. [Walking through the desert will provide you with the invigoration that comes from testing yourself against the harshest conditions possible – Galen] [That sounds like something that Ji’ark would say – Ranathawn] [You could learn from his dedication, determination and responsibility – Galen] [Hey, he didn’t even finish these reports for you! – Ranathawn] [Neither have you, yet – Galen] [Touche – Ranathawn].

So, while testing myself against the harsh … [You’re going to make me do this when I get to Hoth as well, aren’t you? – Ranathawn] [Well, it will all average out – Galen]

Anyway, while wandering around in the blistering heat trying to avoid heatstroke, I had to try to find a reclusive, shady individual who was totally paranoid and didn’t trust anyone, which meant that there were lots of people who wanted to find him, if for no other reason than to find out why in the world anyone would be important enough to be that paranoid. The most vocal was a Sith who was surprisingly polite, offering a reward if I only brought it up with him when I found him. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with how she kept trying to do an end-run around that deal by trying to follow my path, but she wasn’t threatening and didn’t even use Force Lightning on anyone.

On the other hand, there was a young Jedi who wanted to find the Sith, and kept demanding that I help her. I tried to be neutral on the matter, and while the Sith kept telling me to just consider it or pass her along some information if I felt it appropriate, the Jedi kept demanding that I help and got very upset when I demurred. This all culminated when we finally met the recluse, where all of them followed various other people to the spot. I would have liked to avoid bloodshed, but the recluse was not happy about having that many people near him and decided to kill everyone, and the Jedi decided that not actively trying to kill the Sith meant that I was in league with her and that I, the recluse, and the Sith all had to die, and the Sith … basically wanted to avoid dying and so decided to attack the two who were trying to kill her and not attack me. So I helped her kill the other two. And she proved that that was the right decision because she … kept up her end of the bargain. She offered me a number of things, but the one I accepted was the rather grandiose sounding “spend time with her”. If I was male, this might have meant something sexual, but here it meant getting some time to get information from her. And I’m an agent and working for someone who wants to know everything that can be known. I really couldn’t pass that up. [You’re learning my lessons well – Galen]

This is what also drove me to follow up with the Republic’s mission to investigate some strange thing that Czerka Corporation had been studying ages ago but that people were attempting to dig up again, and the Republic was interested in at least figuring out if it was a threat or not. This is the sort of thing that interests me, and interested me in the treasure hunt. I don’t really need massive wealth, but the information here would probably come in handy at some point, and you can never really know too much. Or when you already know enough secrets that many people would like to kill you except that doing so would only mean that the secrets get out, having more secret information can only be a good thing.

It turns out that one of Czerka’s head flunkies was interested in it as well, as a way to gain personal power. Remember, this is something that forced Czerka to seal up a very expensive lab facility and pointedly ignore for many, many years, but this yahoo thought that the best thing in the world would be for him to try to dig it up while having no idea what it actually was. He also thought it was a good idea to take his rage at having it all destroyed out on the person who not only managed to fight through the cyborg zombies that the thing spawned but also take on and destroy the alien mind controlling all of those things in the first place. So, he ended up dead, as someone too stupid to know that when even a corrupt corporation that has no problem letting their researchers die if they think they can make a profit out of it decides that something is too dangerous to turn a profit from, going after it yourself is probably not going to turn out well.

So, the main theme of my visit to Tatooine was having to kill people that I didn’t want to kill and had no reason to kill only because their own stupidity forced me to.

But, we got the item — after the recluse was dead — and now can move on to Alderaan.

Ranathawn Diary: It’s a Trap!

July 17, 2019

So, on Nar Shaddaa, we picked up a new engine. Presumably, where we have to go for that treasure is a bit off the beaten path. At any rate, after Risha installed it, we picked up a distress call from someone who had some critical damage and claimed that she couldn’t last much longer. I decided to go check it out, over Risha’s objections, where she basically called me out for being too altruistic. The thing is, though, that I wasn’t being altruistic. In fact, I thought it was a trap.

Why? Well, it’s too convenient. Soon after we pick up another piece of the puzzle on this treasure quest, we get a message from someone whose ship is damaged demanding that we arrive as soon as we can to help but where few if anyone else could receive the message or get there in time? I’m always suspicious of cases where I conveniently happen to be the only one who can do something but they don’t ask for me by name. Someone was going to make a move sooner or later, and it looks like this time it’s sooner.

So, if I knew that it was a trap, why did I go? Well, just because I dodged a trap once doesn’t mean that the person who set it is going to shrug their shoulders, say, “Well done!”, and go on their merry way. No, they’re more likely to set another trap, and another one, and another one, until I finally miss one and fall into it. Better to get things out of the way when you’re prepared for them rather than waiting until you aren’t.

And this gave me the chance to be careful. Normally I’d take Corso for a mission like this, but instead I took Bowdaar, the Wookiee slave/fighter I freed on Nar Shaddaa. Heck, that I was bringing him along instead of Corso should have proven to Risha that I wasn’t treating this as a rescue mission. Corso would be better at repairs than Bowdaar and, more importantly, has more social graces. I’m not stupid enough to go into a rescue mission and then have to say when I meet the rescuees “Yeah, don’t mind Bowdaar, even though he looks like he wants to kill you, skin you, and eat you raw … and probably does, to tell you the truth!”. No, I took Bowdaar along because I expected to have to hit and blast things into teeny-tiny pieces.

The second reason for springing the trap now was because as a someone trained in espionage I got a sense from the message that this would be a good time to move. The message sounded … amateurish. This wasn’t a clever professional arranging something, but an amateur doing so, probably acting on impulse. That’s the best time to make a move, before she learned anything or had someone else take over from her. And it’s a lot easier to get information from an amateur than a professional, so if she was involved in this it was a golden opportunity to find out some things.

So, of course, I went over there and it was, indeed, a trap. Not a very good one, of course, as Bowdaar and I had no trouble clearing out the droids that attacked us and finding the woman there, hiding behind a force field. Or, rather, behind what she called a “ray-shield”, which if she has that term right — and there’s no reason to think she did, as it was clear that she wasn’t the brightest star in the galaxy — that should mean that I couldn’t blast her, but that I could probably punch her in the face. And since Bowdaar was armed with a huge wonkin’ sword … yeah, a ray shield wasn’t going to help her much. But I wanted information, so I let her talk. It turns out that she was another of the women that Skavak had seduced and she was just trying to make him happy. She contacted him and I let him call her and her plan idiotic, as her shield ran out of power leaving her wide open. Skavak, as usual, abandoned her and she realized just how much of an idiot she was. For trusting him, I mean, which for her is a good start.

I let her live. She wasn’t any threat to me anymore, told me what little she knew, and at the end of it all was just someone taken in by a smooth talker. Hopefully, she’ll learn from this and not doing anything this stupid ever again.

So, with that, it was off to our next delivery on Tatooine.

Ranathawn Diary: Nar Shaddaa

July 10, 2019

It was bound to happen at some point, but Nar Shaddaa was where I first had a conflict with my loyalty to the Empire.

Helping to undo what Malak did to Taris wasn’t really a conflict, as what he did was stupid anyway, and the Empire wasn’t going to gain much from Taris remaining a hell-hole other than making the Republic look bad. But on Nar Shaddaa, far more shady projects were underway, which caused lots and lots of issues for me. The problem essentially boiled down to this: most of the projects were terrible things that the Empire shouldn’t get involved in, like kidnapping and experimenting on and reprogramming Republic soldiers. So, shutting them down, in the long run, probably benefits the Empire or, at least, what I and Galen think the Empire should become. But shutting them down risked the Empire’s involvement in them getting out, which would inflame tensions with the Republic and sink the Empire even more into a reputation for being utterly evil that it would likely try to live up to. However, most ways to try to hide that risked the information still being available and having the Empire or the Republic try to use those methods. As I’ve seen, the Republic is perfectly willing to use shady methods if they’re desperate enough. So my goal was to shut it down while keeping what was really going on a secret.

This ultimately involved lots and lots of killing, from scientists to fallen Jedi to, well, pretty much any Imperial who knew too much to be safe. I don’t really like killing, as I feel that there’s almost always better ways to achieve your goals. On Nar Shaddaa, killing seemed to be the safest and possibly only way for me to do that. That made me act far more like its shady denizens than I’d like to admit.

Ranathawn Diary: Taris

July 3, 2019

Taris was the first planet that showed the good the Republic can be, despite all of its issues.

The Republic set out to revive this destroyed world, mostly as a symbol. I’m sure that for many of those who are funding this or participating in it at the highest levels that’s all it is: a symbol that they can point to as being an achievement in altruism and reclaiming from the Empire. At best, they might see it as something to rally the people behind in the conflict with the Empire. Cynical, perhaps, but nothing in the Republic has made me think that it isn’t true.

But the people drawn here are different.

For the most part, the people drawn here are idealists of one sort or another. They can be as selfish and self-interested as anyone else, but underneath it all, for them, reclaiming Taris or even reclaiming their own property on Taris is about making things better, a better life for themselves and others. That’s why I was able to convince a pair of siblings who wanted to reclaim their lost homestead to share it with some aliens that had themselves reclaimed it from when the Tarisian government had appropriated it. They were able to recognize themselves in the aliens and so were able to understand that everyone would be better off if they worked together on it instead of fighting over it. Maybe when things are rebuilt and they don’t need each other they’ll start fighting over it again. But, for now, they’re working together to make things better.

This ideal of making things better doesn’t really exist in the Empire, at least not to the same degree, because people who openly try to do that are seen as at best naive fools and worst as people who can be victimized. It’s certainly not seen as noble or desirable behaviour. In the Republic, those who are willing to do that are seen as admirable … if, perhaps, a little naive at times. This spirit of improvement that is encouraged in everyone from the highest-ranked politicians to the lowliest labourer is something that the Empire sorely lacks.

Ranathawn Diary: Risha

June 26, 2019

After braving the criminal element of Coruscant, I found out where my ship was and used judicious threats to reclaim it [Finally! – Galen]. But it came with a bonus: some really odd items and one of Skavak’s latest companions (not in that sense), a woman named Risha.

Now, you’d think that I would have shoved her off the ship immediately, even if we weren’t actually docked at a spaceport at the time. After all, anyone who would associate with Skavak willingly can’t be trusted, right? But that would include Corso and myself. So, given that Skavak has been pretty good at convincing people that he’s willing to help and work with them only to betray them later, I figured it was worth seeing what story she could spin to convince me that it was worth going along with whatever plan she had had with Skavak instead of just kicking her off and going back to my mission.

And her plan was a doozy.

It seems that she had a map or information about a long-lost treasure, and with Skavak had been gathering up a number of things that she needed to get the other things that she needed to be able to finally track it down. Now that Skavak was out of the picture, she was completely and totally willing to work with me instead. All she’d cared about was getting to the treasure, not who her partner was. Given that I’m far less likely to betray her than Skavak is, she even comes ahead on the deal.

As for me, I agreed. After all, I’m here to educate myself on the details of the Republic, and running these errands around to various planets seems like a pretty good way to do that. It also, again, gives me a good excuse to be running around to various planets and poking my nose into things. So, in terms of my mission, it’s a pretty good framing device around which I can build my mission.

And, besides, I’ve always wanted to hunt for hidden treasure …