SWTOR: Rix’larril’an of the Ascendancy 2.03 – Compound Fracture

By Paige Francis Posted Monday Jan 15, 2024

Filed under: Epilogue, Paige Writes 15 comments

Instead of trekking back through the jungle to The Wall, I borrow one of the Revanites’ speeders and visit the Chiss Embassy. I’m a bit rankled that Intelligence didn’t provide me with transportation. While it is true most locations, no matter how remote, somehow have some minimal form of public transportation available, I seem to be doing quite a bit of walking. After a bit of arm-pulling and name-dropping, the Embassy arranges a personal transport that will adequately fit my needs:

I park the Colossus next to Acolyte Sandor and let him know the Cult of Revan has asked me to infiltrate Darth Grathan’s collection of Sith artifacts looking for “something that may have belonged to Revan.” I don’t mention specifics; this “Mask of Revan” keeps getting people excited and I do not want more complications. Sandor tells me the Order is known for excavating and researching various remnants from the First and Second Sith Wars, which the Jedi call the Jedi Civil War. Sandor’s master, Darth Charnus, first began suspecting some kind of organized Revan cult following increasingly insistent requests to access the databanks of his personal battlecruiser, the Tears of Taris. The Tears is a chimera of a ship; a Centurion-class battlecruiser built by the Star Forge under Revan’s direction, took part in the Siege of Taris under Darth Malak, and now rebuilt into a custom adaptation of a Harrower-class dreadnought. The “historians” contacting Charnus occasionally mentioned that records of the Sith of that era would likely still be present. Charnus and his commander, Decimus, realized these requests could only be pertaining to Revan and Malak. Malak was of no consequence, but Revan had long been a taboo subject in the Resurgent Sith Empire. Decimus claimed The Emperor himself once killed a Sith on the spot for mentioning the former Jedi Master/Sith Lord.

“Therefore,” Sandor concludes; “while Darth Charnus hasn’t mentioned the Revanites successfully stealing anything, it certainly seems within their intentions.”

Of course, he wouldn’t mention it. No Sith Lord is going to admit a handful of crazy people that hang out in the jungles of Dromund Kaas just waltzed in and grabbed a holocron from their library.

“But it seems like a strange entrance exam, if you take my meaning,” Sandor adds. “Are you positive they don’t know you are Imperial Intelligence and therefore might have a better chance at succeeding at doing something like this?”

“I wondered that myself,” I tell him. “But I really don’t think that explains it. The person who issued this ‘test’ is a bit…deranged. I think she only heard recently Grathan may have Revan-related objects in his archaeological collections, and tasked the first person she had control over to recover them. It just happened to be me, because this was her week on the hazing committee. The Revanite she sent me to for information didn’t seem particularly invested in the results. We also have to consider the entire chore may be a bluff…they really just want to see if I will even try to break in to a Sith Lord’s home. That would prove my dedication to opposing the government, to them.”

“Ah, yes. That does make more sense,” the Acolyte admits. “Good luck, then. Some of the stories I’ve heard hanging around here…” he points toward The Wall‘s interior compound where many Military officers and troopers are milling around, “…apparently Grathan’s droids, at least some of them, are quite advanced.”

Kaliyo and I make our way into the fortified passage through The Wall. I was told by Watcher Two to look for a Captain named Sarnova. She should be expecting me and has information on the inside of Grathan’s Estate. Not far from the entrance I see a blonde human woman in combat armor scanning IDs with an astromech droid. As I approach, the droid dutifully informs her that I am, indeed, Rix’larril’an, Imperial Intelligence Agent, accompanied by Intelligence Adjunct Kaliyo Djannis. She is only slightly disturbed that no further information is available through our records.

“I should have expected as much from Intelligence, Agent,” she addresses me. “I would have preferred being able to use my own judgement to insure you weren’t working for Lord Grathan.”

“You are Captain Sarnova?” The question is a formality at this point.

“I am. I will just have to assume the records my droid accesses haven’t been tampered with, and that you are the Agent Imperial Intelligence claims you are,” Sarnova answers.

“Why so paranoid?” I ask. “Although I suspect the answer is why Intelligence sent me to see you.”

“Indeed. Although I was surprised that Imperial Intelligence contacted me on this issue. I need a rescue, not an investigation. At least, I hope not.”

She bites her lip and looks troubled. Not the kind of behavior I would expect from an Imperial Officer.

“Tell me everything,” I prompt.

Captain Sarnova takes a deep breath. “I command a twenty-man scouting team specializing in confined infiltration. That is, we find ways into fortresses, stations, bases…”

“…and Sith Lord Estates,” I finish for her.

Sarnova frowns. “Not normally. Then, Lord Grathan isn’t acting like a normal Sith Lord.”

“I think that depends on your point-of-view,” Kaliyo interjects. “From what I can see, going rogue and declaring yourself King is kind of what most of these jerks are into.”

The Captain bristles at the open disdain for our Sith Lords and Masters…or maybe she shares the sentiment and was only performing as expected before. Hard to tell.

She continues: “My men were sent in to investigate allegations that the combat losses against Grathan are actually defections. A squad of troopers stationed at a listening post near the Northeast corner of Grathan’s Compound swore to their commander they heard men they knew talking inside one of the buildings. Obviously, this needed to be investigated. For the record, no one that has “gone missing” has appeared *outside* of Grathan’s estate, either. No one spotted shopping or traveling.

“So what happened next?” I ask.

Sarnova holds up a hand. “Before that…there’s another rumor. One that’s been circulating for months, that no one took seriously.” She lowers her voice and looks around. I suspect she means *SHE* didn’t take it seriously, until now. “Grathan has several cybernetics experts working for him, Theover Mindak; others.”

Kaliyo and I both nod. I hope that wasn’t too obvious.

“The rumor is that Grathan’s experts have been capturing the soldiers and putting their BRAINS in droids. Using human brains instead of electronic ones. This is supposed to make something as strong as a droid but as creative as a human…something the electric brain can’t quite equal.” Sarnova shudders. “Can you imagine? It would shred your sanity.”

“I have heard rumors around the wall that soldiers claim to have seen droids fighting in unusual ways,” I prompt her, thinking of Sandor’s report.

“So have I,” Captain Sarnova replies. “But honestly, that could just be creative programming.” She pauses. “But if it’s true…”

I wait for her to finish.

“Find my men, Agent. Find my men and send them back to me.”

I was hoping for more information about Mindak, but I guess if I can download the information on his cyborg/droids I could maybe use “crimes against intelligent life” as blackmail. Not the easiest thing to do in the Sith Empire, however. Most of them would think it’s brilliant, especially if it caused pain and suffering. I suspect my own bosses would reward me if I found a formula for this month’s Super Soldier. Bottom line, maybe there is something to this I can use. Maybe not.

“Right,” I tell Sarnova. “That could be useful information. I’ll see if I can find them.”

“Thank you, Agent.” She lowers her head, then looks up again. “One more thing. If you find them…tell them their Duchess misses them, and wants them home.”

I stare at her. Kaliyo stares at her. I suspect Kaliyo may want to kill her just for saying that.

I find my voice. “You have GOT to explain THAT.”

She has the decency to blush. “It’s what the men call me. I’m their Duchess.”

I beckon with my hand, waiting for the rest.

The blush deepens. “It’s not easy being a woman commander in the army,” she states aggressively. “If you’re clever, you find whatever advantage sticks! I’m their Duchess, and they would do anything for me!”

I turn to Kaliyo. She blinks at me rapidly.

We turn to go. “We will find your men, Duchess. If they can be found.”

“I don’t know whether I respect that, or hate it,” Kaliyo tells me.

“Until we know more about the situation, I think I’m just going to ignore it. Except I guarantee I will call Captain Sarnova ‘Duchess’ every time I see her for the rest of her life.”

My second contact for The Wall is a Captain Bryn, who I am told should be found commanding the bridge that connects the Kaas area with Grathan’s estate and archeological digs. Bryn doesn’t impress me. In fact, he registers so little presence I have to ask twice what it is he knows. Which is very little, actually. He can confirm all the same rumors I’ve already heard, and that Sarnova’s men crossed the bridge to Grathan’s Estate and didn’t come back…on his watch or anyone else’s. Also, he claims the laser turrets at the gates of Grathan’s estate fire slightly faster than the Imperial model he is currently using at the bridge, so could I please find whatever design they’re using. You know, since I’m sneaking in anyway. I mentally flip a coin to decide whether to kill him now or tell him I will “look” for the turret plans. By which I mean, of course, that if they somehow wind up in my pad by the time I see him next, I’ll decide whether to kill him then instead of now.

The coin comes up “ask again later” so I tell Bryn maybe I’ll take a look.

The guarded entrance to Grathan’s compound is within shooting distance of the end of the bridge. In fact, the bridge is heavily barricaded, and occasional blaster bolts fly past. Kaliyo and I activate our stealth shields and move off the path, hugging Grathan’s exterior wall. After sneaking past the guards, we’re faced with two hundred meters of rising path, hemmed by rock walls. This path opens into a clearing with several buildings around the perimeter. I point out the listening post Captain Sarnova mentioned, located behind a lightning tower positioned at the Northeast of the clearing. One of the two buildings angled off that corner is likely the location of the soldiers we’re looking for, but I can see another, larger area ahead past another guard station. Kaliyo and I move on to get the lay of the land.

That larger area turns out to be backed by Grathan’s personal dwelling; a heavily guarded fortress that would look more at home as the command center for some kind of secret government anti-terrorist special military force. A large power station is heavily guarded next to a large warehouse, that seems quite busy with shuttle flights in and out. Surprisingly, the sound of blaster fire draws our attention off to our left. Some Sith appear to be fighting with Grathan droids and guards. The building behind them is on fire. In the courtyard, droids are stacking crates being carried out of the burning building. A woman in an Imperial uniform seems to be coordinating the droids. Taking a chance, I sneak over and pop out of stealth and bring my vibroblade to her throat.

“What’s going on?” I demand, nodding toward the burning building.

“Oh, thank the gods!” she replies. “You’re Intelligence, aren’t you? I was hoping someone from the government would find me before the Sith started paying attention to me!”

“So you do work for Lord Grathan? Not sure I’m following the plot. And why are Sith attacking?” I back away and let her turn around.

“Yes, I did” she says, “but not willingly. My name is Ismar Brengle. I was a database manager working on a project connected to Theover Mindak when he sought protection with Lord Grathan. I essentially was kidnapped two months ago. And the Sith are here because the Dark Council finally decided to bring down Grathan. That’s what I heard.”

Great. As if I didn’t have enough pressure. Now there’s a time limit before Grathan and everyone else important evacuates.

I indicated the crates being brought by droids. “If you’re a database administrator, what are the crates for?”

“Data backups,” Brengle answers. “They’re supposed to be in here, at least.” She opens the nearest crate and starts checking the contents. “Nothing,” Brengle concludes with disgust.

“What’s so important about the backups?” I ask.

Brengle studies me for a minute, and Kaliyo. Finally, she says, “I’ll tell you. I’ll cut you in on the deal, because I think I need your help. You know what’s in the databases I worked on? Financial accounts. Black Market contacts. And the data for deals that haven’t been completed. Get me the data straight from the computer system in the warehouse.” She points to the active warehouse we just passed. “I can redirect the funds, and I’ll cut you in for a share. What do you think?”

“Deal,” says Kaliyo, even as I’m shaking my head “no.” “60/40 for the Agent. After all, we’re the ones getting shot at, here.” Brengle shakes on it.

“Kaliyo,” I say before we re-enter stealth. “I think we have more than enough to do at the moment. Can we PLEASE not do any more favors for anyone on Lord Grathan’s Estate?”

She gives me a dirty look. “That was for MONEY!” she says, as if I am a complete idiot. “But fine. Let’s just get the…1, 2…3, 4, 5 things we have on the list done and get out of here. I really don’t like hanging around Sith when they’re fighting.”

“FIVE tasks. You realize we only came this way for Theover Mindak, because he might know about some terrorists. Everything ELSE we have found has been CONNECTED to Mindak, but not in any way useful to us,” I grouse.

“You never know how any of this will pay off in the end,” Kaliyo tells me. “Any of these things could lead to money, romance, power, money…always keep an open mind and your eyes open.”


From The Archives:

15 thoughts on “SWTOR: Rix’larril’an of the Ascendancy 2.03 – Compound Fracture

  1. M says:

    It’s not a true RPG unless your quest log is full… :)

    1. I should post some footage of doing a Heroic2+ run for credits and Tech Bits. Just load up every Heroic2+ quest on a planet or two and roll through them. One a week I’ll do Hutta, Dromund Kaas, and Nar Shaddaa all at the same time. Takes a few hours and loads me up for a week or two, unless I’m doing something very specific that takes extra resources.

  2. Daimbert says:

    While it is true most locations, no matter how remote, seem to have some minimal form of public transportation available, I seem to be doing quite a bit of walking.

    All of my characters do that, because none of them ever use personal speeders. I mocked that a little bit in my first two (incomplete) TOR Diary entries, with the first character refusing to use them out of honour (which upset Vette, especially on Tatooine) and the second character not getting one from the overarching character setting up the diaries (who is an ex-pat of Galen from “Crusade”) because walking builds character. Out of character, it was a carry over from Oblivion where I didn’t use mounts because I didn’t like them that much and if you ran places it built I think endurance, so the extra time was a reasonable exchange for the skill increase.

    (That character was interesting, as I based it on Angel from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and, well, “Angel” and so built it a lot around stealth and unarmed combat. Towards the end, if I was careful enough I could sneak up behind people and kill them with one punch, which was a lot of fun).

    We turn to go. “We will find your men, Duchess. If they can be found.”

    I can’t help but be reminded of Chuck Sonnenberg at SF Debris using that nickname for Captain Archer …

    1. My character’s choice of speeder is like their armor: tailored specifically to their look and character. Obviously, based on my perception. And some of my characters I’ve never found the right mount, yet. Since rolling up a Male Pureblood Sith Sith Warrior called Lord Zeele just to finally do the Vette romance, I gave him the Swamp Rancor. It seems very fitting.

  3. Zaxares says:

    … “ROMANCE?” Not the thing I’d have expected Kaliyo to say. XD

    1. Within the game’s romancing mechanic, Kaliyo is an interesting case. She is romanceable by “male” player characters, although it always seems a bit awkward. Her regular dialogue, as you get to know her, repeatedly insinuates she’s pansexual. She regularly propositions the player character; and most of these propositions carry overtly sexual overtones. One of the most notable if you play a “female” Agent is a suggestion by Kaliyo to engage in a threesome with another female NPC. Very much a “one night stand” kind of woman, is my impression.

      I have heard stories that A) All or most romanceable companions were originally written to be romanceable regardless of the design choices made for player character, then this was removed from the game before release and rewritten minimally; B) Despite appearances and the desire to include this feature, it was NEVER included in the initial release and only added to subsequent content; and C) Some players swear at least some of these relationships were STILL IN the very first release and were only removed when the media made a big story of it, scaring EA. I think regular commenter Leslee Beldotti commented on this about a decade ago, but I may be remembering incorrectly.

      1. ClaudiaSilvestri says:

        It seems like if they were implemented back then, they could at least bring them back now. For the rest, given that this was released pretty soon after Mass Effect 2, I have to wonder if some of the same Fox News scare-related pressures that have been documented as influencing that one being mostly straight came in here as well. Well, that and Lucas; I know they had to cut a lot of Juhani’s content, and the first expansion that had any same-gender romance was also the first one released after Disney bought Star Wars from Lucas.

        I do wish they would go back and implement it; I’d be much more interested in playing it then, particularly since that’s one of the things that got me to try Bioware’s games in the first place. I expect the current experience would probably be more frustrating than just playing a game that didn’t have romance, sort of like comparing a restaurant that doesn’t have dessert because that’s not something they do to a restaurant that has desserts but only ones you’re allergic to, when their other location in the next town over has perfectly good desserts that you like and can eat fine.

        1. And that’s what makes me believe the code ISN’T just “sitting right there waiting to be turned back on,” regardless of what level of implementation it reached.

          Making class story companions more romanceable would definitely lead to replay of the class stories. I wonder if EA or the current developers have research indicating how big or little of an incentive it would actually be. SEEMS like it would be a big draw, but maybe not.

          1. CSilvestri says:

            It certainly seems like it would be a big draw to me too… but most of the other circles I talk about this stuff in are majority-LGBT, so I’ve probably got a good chunk of sample bias on that one.

            Still want it though. At least I hear the bi Sith woman in the expansions is good?

            1. Lana Beniko. Literally modelled after Lana Turner (I’ve heard this denied; but it’s so obvious), although the base hairstyle is influenced by Lauren Bacall, IMO. Because of the Eternal Empire storyline, she’s a very pragmatic Sith who serves as the Imperial representative to the player character (who is TECHNICALLY neither Imperial nor Republic during this story.) Lana is romanceable by any player character, as is her Republic counterpart Theron Shan (Satele’s “secret” son.) Beniko’s dialogue is well-written, the character design and concept works well, and the voice actress Lydia Leonard nailed her job.

              Lana is the reason that anyone upset about the lack of lesbian or fem-presenting queer relationships in the base game are ALWAYS referred to the Lana romance making up for this. I haven’t heard nearly as positive comments on the Theron relationship for gay or masc-presenting queer players.

              1. ClaudiaSilvestri says:

                Now I have to wonder if that’s coming from people who are just trying to silence a criticism they don’t really care about, or if it’s from actual people in the relevant queer communities (or, at the very least, people who in some way don’t get anything out of the base game’s romances). Because if it’s the latter that’s a pretty strong recommendation, I’d say.

                Unfortunately I don’t like playing things out of order, so I’d get to it in… well, someday maybe.

                1. You can actually start the Eternal Empire expansions from the beginning, if you wanted. When you create a character, you can start with “Star Wars The Old Republic” or with “Knights of the Fallen Empire.” Fallen Empire and the follow-up expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne, are an entirely separate storyline that takes place after a short time-skip. You lose all your companions from the base game and basically start an entirely new game.

                  You don’t need to know the events of the base game to play it, but that’s very much in the line of “you don’t have to seen any earlier Star Wars movies to watch THIS one.” It’s something that may be TECHNICALLY true but it’s not actually…accurate. You will understand more and enjoy more if you’ve played the original content.

                  Which, as I’ve mentioned, you can still do in SWTOR; without any “what did they take out or change over the years that actually makes some things not make sense.”

  4. M says:

    “I’m a bit rankled that Intelligence didn’t provide me with transportation. ”

    This line struck me as a bit odd. The character is a spy, and a lot of complaints are around NPCs not being sneaky enough. So why complain that your embassy is not arranging personal transport, i.e. they’re pretending you’re just an average citizen as opposed to being a VIP?

    I haven’t played the game and I haven’t really kept up with SW lore. Perhaps there’s an in-game explanation. Or perhaps it’s snark that *this time* they’re doing this, as opposed to all the other times when they’re basically shouting “Make way for the Chiss intelligence agent!”

    1. Good catch, actually. This ended up being a story element because of the intersection of “this is a MMORPG” and part of the Dromund Kaas class storyline I didn’t emphasize.

      The Agent is acting more like the FBI in this sub-chapter. Keeper told us to act openly on this mission and identify ourselves as an Intelligence Agent. This idea becomes muddled when you do the Revanite questline. It IS part of the planet storyline but is still TECHNICALLY optional. Conceivably I could have identified myself as an Intelligence operative TO the Revanites; they take people from all corners of Imperial society, including Sith.

      Oh…so much more I could be talking about the Revanite Cult at this stage of the game…but I still have to find a way to tie it in to the story SWTOR EVENTUALLY tells. And I’m not talking about actual game content, just the implications. The Revanite questline on Dromund Kaas is pretty much what it says on the tin, which made it disappointing to a lot of players coming straight from the KOTOR games.

      The other element is that this is a MMORPG, and usually you BUY your first mount around level 20 in most modern MMORPGs. At least all the ones I’ve played. I think when adding mounts first became a thing you usually got them later in the game, but they kept migrating to cheaper and earlier, and now you usually get them pretty soon after you finish up your starting area, or your first leveling center AFTER your starting area. I honestly can’t remember if “speeder piloting” is unlocked at level 15 or level 20, but as I’m generalizing a lot of the story it seemed like obtaining a speeder around this area fit in.

      Also, I wanted a screenshot pretty early in the post.

      1. M says:

        I think mounts got important mostly when they could have large areas where you could run in a (more or less) straight line for a while. I’ve played at least one MMO where they were purely cosmetic, because they were unneeded to get around.

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