“Eat lightsaber, jerk!” – Anna plays SWTOR Pt. 2
After we left the swamp that is Taris Zhyi gets an urgent message from General Var Suthra about Agent Galen, the SIS Agent who went after the weapons facility on Nar Shadaa. The emergency being that the Agent has missed his last check ins and can not be contacted. So Zhyi, Kira and T7 travel to the moon as quickly as they can. Nar Shadaa is very different from the republic worlds Zhyi knows. It is in Hutt space and pretty much neutral concerning the Empire/Republic conflict. They also don’t have a lot of lawful oversight in general. Formally the Hutt Cartell is in charge, but the whole moon is pretty much one big lawless city full of smugglers, criminals, businessmen who don’t want to deal with regulations and fugitives that are hiding from someone. Spliced with a lot of gambling, entertainment and red light districts. Not really an ideal place for a Jedi. And the fact that the Republic as a secret weapons project being developed here does not speak well for the project.
Turns out the Republic is experimenting on super soldiers. Combining cybernetics and drugs with people to turn them into the perfect durable soldier. Picking their test subjects from volunteers that have nothing to loose and usually a good chunk of hate towards the Empire. Even the General admits that this project might have gone too far. He doesn’t even know all the details of what is going on there because it was kept that secret, even from him. Zhyi arrives to find Agent Galen missing and the Empire having taken over the facilities. What follows is basically a scavenger hunt all over the place to find where the Agent, and just as important, the secret facility are. Because it is so super secret no one, even on their side, knows where it actually is. At some point Zhyi is reduced to stick her lightsaber into power conduits to find the one building that still works after that because it has it’s own independent power grid. Solving problems with lightsabers, not quite with their intended function but it works. In between Zhyi and Kira get to be snarky:
When she finds Agent Galen he has been “volunteered” for the program by the Empire, half machine and not fully in control of his actions anymore she has to fight him. She manages to take him down without killing him and goes after the Sith Lord working on this project who, oh surprise, is a servant of Darth Angral that talks a lot about how he will kill Zhyi slowly. In the end he dies. Slowly. Zhyi lets her anger over what he did to Agent Galen get the better of her and sees to that. She is a bit worried after that for not being more upset at herself for this. But she has little time to think about it as they are called off world as soon as they finished shutting the facility down. Not before leaving a lot of manipulated data for the Empire to find. If they should try to recreate the project there are some nasty surprises waiting for them.
General Var Suthra sends Zhyi and Kira to meet with en Imperial Admiral who wants to defect. “It’s a trap!” Zhyi is certain of it. The General says they have no indication for that and the opportunity would be too good to not follow up. So the two Jedi are going where they are sent. Only to figure out that of course it was a trap! Instead of an important Admiral there is a man waiting for them that is actually after Kira. Kira is terrified and begs Zhyi not to listen to him. He claims he is a child of the Emperor and he has come for his sister. Zhyi takes one look at her frightened Padawan and decides she can ask Kira questions later before she kills the man. Back on their ship Kira tells Zhyi her secret: She was born Sith, trained on Dromund Kaas in an elite group of force sensitive children. The “Children of the Emperor” being a group especially groomed by the Emperor himself, brainwashed into complete obedience. When she was about 10 years old and noticed the horrors around her she ran away, managed to hide in a cargo ship offworld and spent a few years on the streets of Nar Shadaa stealing to survive until she met Master Kiwikks who noticed her force sensitivity and took her on as a Padawan. She always knew she would have to tell the truth some day but was afraid that the Jedi would cast her out once they knew. I even have a few snippets of video for you when I remembered to press the record button in time. So you can actually see the characters in action a bit. Also hello male Hawke!
Zhyi is convinced that Kira tells the truth and promises her that she will never turn her back on her. Together they travel to Tython to tell the Jedi Council. Even though she is still nervous Kira confesses everything to Master Satele and after a quick debate in the council on what to do now they ask Zhyi for her opinion. She has Kira’s back and tells them that Kira may have been born Sith but she is a Jedi through and through and Zhyi would trust her with her life by now. That settles the matter for the Grandmaster and Satele allows Kira to stay on as Zhyi’s Padawan.
Have I mentioned that I love the voice acting? No? I do!
Kira is grateful for the vote of confidence but the two have little time to chat bout it because both Master Orgus and Master Kiwikks missed their security check ins. Last General Var Suthra heard of them Master Kiwikks was on Tattooine while Master Orgus went to Alderaan. Zhyi and Kirai decide to check on Master Kiwikks first set a course for Tattooine. Tattooine is a bit like Nar Shadaa in regards to having very little government oversight (ok, try next to nothing actually). Additionally is is basically one big desert filled with hostile natives and wildlife. What made it an ideal weapons facility point is the fact that it is largely uninhabited. But there is no notable republic presence on the planet, meaning they have no allies and no help. The manage to find the old facility none the less and find out what was developed here: A device called the shock drum. The shock drum sets off vibrations that over time turn materials brittle, literally turning the walls of an enemy stronghold into sand if exposed long enough. The trouble just begins though. The project was actually shut down because they realised that it has a side effect: When used over a prolonged time it destabilises the planet core.
And of course it is gone. The Empire has it and Darth Angral really doesn’t give a crap about Tattooine. He had Master Kiwikks captured by his servant Lord Praven, and ordered him to leave her next to the turned on weapon. He also wants the entire planet to blow preferably. Lord Praven disagrees with that thankfully. He sees no honour in destroying an entire planet to get to one person. He contacts Zhyi via holoterminal and offers to duel her for the codes to shut the weapon down. Zhyi agrees and is surprised that he actually sticks to the terms. Lort Praven is not the first Sith she met but he is the most peculiar so far. Zhyi has been taught that the dark side corrupts inevitably and therefore has a very specific expectation as to how Sith act and behave. Lord Praven defies them all. When she wins the duel he hands over the codes, telling her that Darth Angral wanted him to not hand over the real codes, even if he lost but he finds that unacceptable. He also expresses his regrets of not disobeying his earlier order to capture and leave Master Kiwikks behind. Zhyi is so impressed by how he is standing by his principles even if it means certain death by either her hand or Darth Angral’s that she offers him asylum. She convinces him that the empire is not the only way and that the Jedi will have a place for him. And to both her and his own surprise he accepts.
Kira and Zhyi hurry to find Master Kiwikks in time and turn the weapon off. They have to fight through the most hostile wildlife they have encountered so far but they manage to get there just in time. Master Kiwikks is grateful but greatly weakened by her injuries and her exposure to the weapon so General Var Suthra sends in a team to secure the weapon prototype and help Master Kiwikks back to Tython. When they are debating what to do with the weapon actually Zhyi suggests to move it to a secure location and find less harmful ways of testing and improving on it, so they can one day eliminate the side effects. That gets her some raised eyebrows from the Jedi Council but her argument that they can not expect to never actually need weapons against the Empire again actually holds some truth. Meanwhile the council is a bit surprised by the imposing sith lord that is just showing up and declaring his surrender to them but they agree to uphold Zhyi’s promise of asylum and a place among the Jedi. So still in a hurry they leave Tattooine and set course for Alderaan.
Zhyi later even gets a letter from Lord Praven:
The Jedi Knight story is a very straightforward hero story on the surface, but if you look a little deeper you have a lot of things going on. Given that your character is by default quite young still she gets an enormous amount of responsibility. Granted, not quite as much as the Jedi Consular gets but she has to shoulder a lot of things on her own. While the Consular feels like they get a lot of council support and backing the Jedi Knight gets thrown into the story and has to do many things herself without any clear guidelines. Sure, she has her training, but she gets promoted to knight, immediately gets a Padawan she is responsible for from now on and has to start making tough decisions right off the bat. Her main contact through all those quests isn’t the council like it is for the Consular, it is the military. The military having quite a drastically different perspective on war and politics than the Jedi. A perspective you grow to understand while working with them. Which in turn can bring the Knight in conflict with the council and their teachings.
Additionally Darth Angral holds the player personally responsible for the death of his son. All his actions are vengeance for that. He comes specifically after Zhyi. Trying to create as much casualties as possible, not simply to hurt the republic but to hurt Zhyi and make her doubt herself. And even with the best teachings in mind, this wears a person down after a while. All Zhyi ever wanted was to protect people, that is why she trained the become a Jedi first, later specifically a Guardian. And of course rationally she knows she is not responsible for the people he kills, but there is still this feeling gnawing at her in the back of her mind. The council’s only advice is to separate herself from her emotions. Which is all nice and well but way easier said than done. Especially when you are not sitting in a council chamber far away but actually see the consequences of what Angral is doing first hand every day.
And of course she is responsible for Kira. She trusts her implicitly but at the same time Zhyi is worried that she might not be the Master Kira needs. She just became a Knight not long ago, she is young and still very often doubting herself. But under no circumstances she wants to give the council the impression that she doesn’t want to work with Kira. So she swallows all her worries and tries to power through. Fake it til you make it.
Kira is by the way one of my absolute favourite companions in this game. She is witty, sarcastic, has trouble with authority from time to time but has a good heart under all her snark. Not to mention that she is funny and supportive. And NOT a romance option for the female Jedi Knight. Excuse me while I’ll go in my corner and cry about this. Zhyi has very much feelings for Kira at some point but settles for being her best friend. In my headcanon she told Kira years later, when she was over her crush and it never came between their friendship.
Companions, in any Bioware game, make gameplay and story so much nicer for me. SWTOR has a lot of them of course with every character having a crew of 5 people over the course of their story and the Shadow of Revan and Knights of the fallen empire expansions adding new ones even. Among all of them Kira is definitely in my top 5. Together with another companion in the Jedi Knight storyline who will appear later.
Who are your favourites? In SWTOR or in Bioware games in general?