At the start of this month This Week in Aurebesh celebrated its seventh improbable birthday. When I think about this project, I sometimes imagine myself as the Dread Pirate Roberts telling Wesley every night “Sleep well, This Week in Aurebesh, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” And, yet, after the better part of a decade, it’s survived into yet another day. I’m still finding things to write about, and as long as I continue to need a valet, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
This post is belated because one of the hazards of life in the big city is the noise, and over the last few weeks, indeed the whole darn year, the racket in my neighbourhood has been excruciating, and I have found it very hard to write and I’ve not discussed every topic I’ve hoped to cover recently.
Therefore for this blog’s birthday, I’ll try to catch up and cover as much as I can, and even toss in a quick Aurebesh translation as well.
The story of Darth Nul has been percolating mostly in the background of Legacy of the Sith, but it finally seems to be moving on to SWTOR’s main stage, hopefully as soon as this winter’s story update.
The story of Nul revisits a concept from SWTOR’s original class stories, “The Children of the Emperor.” In short, the Children are the result of a secret program designed to condition or brainwash Jedi and Sith often unknowingly under the influence if not the direct control of the Sith Emperor himself. Both the Jedi Knight and Consular played key roles in exposing and dealing with the Children in their initial Origin Stories. The concept of “Children of the Emperor”, however, begs the question: If Vitiate was the father, who was their mother?
That’s where Darth Nul comes in. Players have learned that it was Nul who developed many of the techniques used by Vitiate to create his “Children.” The source of this discovery was Darth Malgus who had access of many of Vitiate’s secrets during his short time as the False Emperor, and once he was freed from the current Sith Emperor’s control, Malgus started tracking down relics related to uncovering the origins of Darth Nul.
Over the course of the last year or so of updates, we have discovered that Nul was once a Jedi named Reniah whose theories were considered radical by the Jedi Council; after connecting with Vitiate through the Force, she was subjugated and turned to the Dark Side. Like Revan, Nul started as a Jedi but later became a Sith. Unlike Revan, however, it seems she was not given a chance at redemption, but her final fate remains tantalizingly unknown, All we can say for certain is that Darth Malgus seems to believe she is the key in transcending both the Jedi and the Sith in a way Revan never accomplished.
As a side note, it’s worth considering Darth Malgus’ role in all of this. Clearly he has set things in motion, but it’s fair to wonder how much control he has over events now, especially from his current position of confinement on the Fleet. I don’t believe he is the mastermind behind the recent actions of Heta Kol or Sahar or Ri’kan. Rather I imagine, Malgus might be more like a Star Wars version of Pandora who has ripped open a box of curses and wants only to see the disorder its contents creates. That said, I don’t think his part in the story is over.
And since I’m digressing, I might as well briefly touch on the theory floating around that Darth Nul might be Lana Beniko, whether she knows it or not. How much do we really know about Lana, anyway? I suppose it could be possible, but such a shocking reveal feels too far out of left field to really land successfully. Nul is known to be an inventor, and Lana hasn’t shown any particular affinity towards technology, and I have a hard time believing that Valkorion would not have noticed or remarked upon Nul’s presence so close to the Outlander during the Fallen Empire story. That said, could Nul have Children of her own without anyone knowing it? Sure, why not? And could Lana be one of them? Maybe. She does feel like a likely candidate if such a thing should come to pass. Time will tell!
SWTOR’s most recent story update Old Wounds continues the investigation of Nul’s history, but as with Showdown on Ruhnuk, the focus is less on our character, the Alliance Commander, than other characters involved in the past several years of story. It starts with a confrontation between Darth Rivix and Tau Adair. Tau is fun when she gets to be a stubborn bad-ass, and Rivix being simultaneously treacherous and smooth is a delight. It’s worth pointing out that while each of our characters’ play through of the story remain mutually exclusive, in this case watching both the Republic and Imperial versions of the opening encounter rewards players with a fuller picture of Rivix and Tau’s duel.
The story also takes time to focus on Sana Rae, the Voss mystic who has been guiding our Alliance’s Force Enclave since its earliest days, Arcann and Torian Cadera. I want to focus on Arcann here, but I am always pleased when SWTOR devotes space to characters that may or may not have survived in everyone’s story. It’s usually (but not always) the case that when the player opts to save or dispatch a recurring character, they are neither seen nor heard from again even if player spared the character in question. When it comes to companions, I know there are many, many mouths to feed, so it’s nice that players who have connected with Torian and Arcann can continue those relationships in the game even if only occasionally.
My main character for playing story content is my Consular, and she spared Arcann out of a sense of mercy. I do not run Heroics and Dailies with him as an active companion or send him on crew skill or crafting missions. For the most part, I have always considered him to be under house arrest on Odessan, under Sana Rae’s supervision. The interlude with Arcann during Old Wounds was the first time I actually felt sympathy for him since Fallen Empire and believed that he truly is seeking redemption. He has a long way to go, and still needs to take responsibility for his war crimes, but I do think he is on the path.
When the player does come to the forefront during Old Wounds, it is one brand new area on Voss, and it’s in a way that is somewhat unusual in the main story, and possibly not to every players’ taste. If there is one theme that SWTOR has been returning to again and again since the end of the Fallen Empire saga, it has been an exploration of the harmful effects of war on those who fight it. Tau is haunted by the battles she’s fought. Malgus rages against the endless conflict between the Jedi and the Sith, and Shae is barely keeping it together while she attempts to prevent her Mandalorians from splintering into yet another civil war. Likewise, the story of Voss is about both the physical reconstruction of the planet after its bombardment by the Eternal Empire, but also the strain on its people, the Gormak and the Voss, as they attempt to reconcile after generations of conflict and accept their shared heritage.
Old Wounds puts our characters in the middle of that conflict. Are these galaxy-shattering events meant to shake the pillars of creation? No, of course not. But I’ve always found the story of Voss to be fascinating. The Voss are a fundamentalist culture struggling to reconcile things they’d been taught which justified war with the Gormak with the actual fact of the matter that they are the same people as the Gormak. The Gormak had gotten so used to hating and fighting the Voss that they also never learned how to act in peace. These are knots as thorny to untangle in the Star Wars universe as they are in ours. But as the saying goes, all politics are local, and the Alliance Commander finds themselves in a position where they can guide both parties towards reconciliation or back to conflict.
The Interpreter’s Retreat area on Voss is a daily area unlike the others in SWTOR. There is no reputation track, no weekly quests, just optional quests and achievements for players to pursue. If you feel that cooking lunch for strangers, mopping floors and taking out the trash is beneath your Dark Lord of the Sith or Battlemaster of the Jedi Order, I get it. Once you complete the main story, you can choose never to step foot there again and not really miss out on much.
But I had fun. The quests are fairly easy, and unlike the Ruhnuk dailies, navigating the zone as a non-stealth using character isn’t bad. At the very least the mob density is much less, and you won’t ever have to slog your way through corridor after corridor choked with elite enemies. For achievement and decoration hunters, there is plenty to do in the Retreat as well.
I have been enjoying the different style of storytelling we’ve seen in Legacy of the Sith. Since the end of the Fallen Empire saga, the pace has been a bit slower and the threats more existential than galaxy threatening. We are now seeing scattered story threads begin to be woven together, and I do hope it is time that things start coming to a head. The next story update is scheduled to arrive in just a couple of months, and instead of sifting through more clues, I’d like to see our characters begin taking direct action so that the story can build to a climax.
Ri’Kan Can Wait
I do want to discuss some of the elements of the story of the siblings Sahar and Ri’kan, but I intend to do so in comparison with some of themes of the recently completed Ahsoka show on Disney+. Because I want to show solidarity with and support for the Screen Actors Guild’s ongoing strike against AMPTP which includes Disney, I have chosen to refrain from all “content creation” for media produced by companies targeted by the strike.
I know my reach and influence is meager, but let me unequivocally state that those who create and tell the stories we love should absolutely be treated and compensated better by the corporations who would rather pay executives exorbitant bonuses than their employees a living wage. The Writer’s Guild recently successfully concluded their strike against the AMPTP, and I hope SAG does as well.
And, yes, my stance will apply to video games, should it come to that.
So for now, let’s leave it off here. I want to thank each and everyone who has visited this site over the years, and I hope to see you on the adventures to come!