Saying Goodbye/Lif Goes On

By Paige Francis Posted Monday Mar 11, 2024

Filed under: Epilogue, Paige Writes 6 comments

I knew late last Sunday I wasn’t going to get my weekly post done by midnight. I had the structure in place and most of the rough draft in hand, but the words weren’t flowing. I intended to get it banged in shape Monday morning rather than miss a week. But other things happened. I’ve been eating unhealthily and hadn’t been in a great place mentally, and ended up having trouble sleeping. I finally got up around 4:oo AM and went back to my office. At 4:30 my elderly dog woke up the entire house yelping. He sleeps every night in the second bedroom with one of my children and their spouse. He was let out of the room and spent the next forty minutes trotting through the house, yelping and otherwise vocalizing. He would stop only briefly for some petting, and slowly calmed down. He finally found a comfortable space to lay down and went back to sleep.

His name is Bass (pronounced like the fish) and he’s been a member of the family for eighteen years. He was probably about a year old when he trotted into our backyard in our former house. The kids were still young…like I said this was TWO DECADES ago. He immediately adopted us. We couldn’t keep him outside; he could climb and jump the fence to the kennel we bought. He was too neurotic to keep away from us. Until the past year, if a majority of the family left the house, he would bark nonstop until they came back. We had to take him on vacations with us. We tried kenneling him with the vet over a weekend once when he was young. He was so frantic when we went to pick him up we were afraid he would have a heart attack.

There are literally too many memories. I think of new things every day. I lost my sister to a blood clot in 2013. I knew her more than thirty years, but I lived with her for less time than I lived with Bass. I certainly loved my sister, but losing her didn’t hurt nearly as much as last Monday morning.

Bass was still vital and active until COVID. I think he got pneumonia, but it was never diagnosed. He never fully recovered, and lost a lot of his energy. There were signs of aging before that, of course. His joints clearly hurt him on cold days. His teeth were a nightmare and he had lost several. But the last eight months he had started showing signs of mental lapses. Problems seeing and hearing would come and go. He would sit and stare for extended periods of time, and seem confused. He walked the house constantly, seeming uncertain of what he was looking for. I hoped against hope that these were all temporary symptoms that would clear up eventually.

But in reality, I had been having increasing nightmares where he died, or was killed, or taken from me.

He was nineteen years old, and his quality of life was declining quickly. His episode last Monday morning was very likely pain-related. His daily behavior strongly indicated Alzheimer’s. We decided the best course of action would be to put him to sleep before it got worse. I was able to be with him at the end. I held him the entire time. I don’t know if any of it means anything; and I don’t want to know if it doesn’t. This is the closest I can imagine to losing one of your kids. I have never understood the allure of eternal life before now. If anyone deserved it, Bass did.

So. After that, Tuesday was spent with my parents at the hospital. My mother was getting carpal tunnel surgery, and she doesn’t trust my dad’s driving or decision making at this point. Dad and I ate at a thoroughly mediocre Mexican food restaurant called The Plaza (I think it’s a regional chain) while Mom was being operated on. The surgery went well; and Mom wanted a fish sandwich from Whataburger when she was released. She had one a few weeks ago and had been raving about how unexpectedly good it was. They apparently ran out of the good ones; this one was a 70’s school lunch frozen rectangular filet cut in half. She ate half and I hate half, just to see what it tasted like.

It helped to be distracted. By Wednesday I was able to get up and focus on things that needed to be done. I even did a few of them; like knocking down the barn swallows’ nests from last year.

Clearly I’m not in the right frame-of-mind for storytelling, but I can give some relevant updates from Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Rix’larril’an, as I previously mentioned, is at the level cap of 80. I’ve had her do all of the chapter updates that occurred between the original story and the first expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel. This includes some minor story content set on the planet Ilum. This story was one of the things that just about ruined SWTOR for me the first time I reached it. But this time, knowing the game a bit better, I realized the truly awful part of the story was part of an *optional* Flashpoint. I’ve brought it up before, but not many things in any of the stories have significant long-term implications. (OK, look…that’s a very broad statement for which there are MANY, MANY caveats. Depending on how someone understands what I just said, they could easily reply ‘that’s not true at all!’ What I’m talking about is, for example: in the Agent’s story in Chapter One, you can basically select whether a particular bad guy becomes the Sith Emperor, or “Acting-Emperor” as the case may be. But that has NO IMPACT on anybody else’s story. Dude doesn’t even get MENTIONED. And by the time you move on to expansion content, all sorts of stuff that completely contradicts that is introduced. Not all of the stories are so flagrant…but at least a few of them ARE.)

So I just skipped the Flashpoint. Every optional quest in an MMORPG gives you the ability to refuse to accept the quest. Most people don’t ever think about it, but I literally started the cut scene to begin the flashpoint, then refused the quest after telling the quest-giver I disagreed with the objective and was going to support the enemy. You would think they would try to arrest me or something (not that they could; at least in-universe…I’ve killed more powerful people with my vibro-shiv than some pathetic, whiny Imperial Moff) but they just let you fly off in your rare stealth ship (…AND THAT’S ANOTHER THING…because part of the whole raison d’etre for the Ilum story is to enable stealth technology for the Empire, but I HAVE A STEALTH-CAPABLE SHIP. Not that it EVER comes up again.)

There are two popular and fun “find the hidden object” quests that become available at this time. Both end in content requiring grouping; but one gives you a bunch of achievements and contributes to planetary completion percentage in your Legacy, and the other gives some decent rewards for not a lot of work. That one actually leads into a long, multi-story questline; but again as most of it is multiplayer, I’m not doing it at the moment. In fact, that quest also ties into the companion I have with me above. S.C.O.R.P.I.O. is a megalomaniacal murderous fembot you pick up on the next-to-last planet of the Agent storyline. And there is NO WAY to get around the “fembot” label. The classic progenitor of the “fembot” concept is the Maschinenmensch from Metropolis, also called “Maria/False-Maria” or “Futura,” among many others:

I mean, come on. I’m not even sure the artist changed enough to legally count as technically distinct under copyright law, if it applied in this case. Regardless, SCORPIO is a lot of fun considering her disregard of all lower life forms…that is; everyone else. It’s just a shame you get her so late in the original story she has less scripted dialogue than the other companions. HOWEVER, she plays a big role in later expansion stories. I was quite surprised.

I played through Rise of the Hutt Cartel while I was at it, to finish out my leveling to 80. It’s a fun story set on the planet Makeb, although an experienced casual player can finish it in a day; two at the most. Gear upgrades are, of course, useless at this point if you’ve already started maxing out your equipment with newer options; but there are many unique appearance and stronghold decoration options available that require reputation from RotHC. I haven’t really talked much about strongholds, yet. Mainly because of the two I have, only one is actually used. And both started out as a way to finish optional quests. I haven’t really DONE anything with strongholds, is what I’m saying.

So Rix is ready for Shadow of Revan content, but mostly I’ve been using her to make credits and complete Legacy achievements. That’s the main reason I have SCORPIO active as a companion. SCORPIO is one of the easiest companions to max out influence with. There is a high-influence gift you can buy for her in the Cartel Bazaar section of the Fleet Space Station with a fairly common currency…at least if you’re crafting at max level or grinding heroics or even other “elite” enemies. I was sitting at the cap on this currency, so I went down to the Bazaar and spent about 1/4 of it on enough of these gifts to get SCORPIO up to influence 50. I did actually buy one of those “Commander’s Compendiums” I mentioned a couple of months ago, but I used it with a different character, since I already had one influence 50 for Rix.

Lord Zeele and Vette enjoy the endless Kaas City rain. When I get around to decorating strongholds, this will probably be the first one I do. I have actually completed the original storyline with Zeele, but have only used him for crafting since then. One of the goals with Zeele, the entire reason I created him instead of my usual Sith Warrior Trada Visi (who is now doing a Sith Inquisitor play-through) was to do the full Vette romance option. As previously discussed, the original story published without “same-sex” relationships. So if I did a female Sith Warrior, then you form kind-of a “big sister” relationship with Vette. You’ll find this with most early female companions if you roll a female character, actually. The Bounty Hunter is one of the few that do this fairly well. Not that Vette’s story is done poorly, but the “big sister” version of the story highlights an aspect of the romance that is…problematic.

See, Vette starts out as a slave. That has become an established “thing” in Star Wars…Twi’leks tend to frequently be enslaved, oppressed, and associated with crime. Yes, I could surely dive right into real-world analogs, but we will stick with the story for now. Vette is a slave on Korriban, the location of the Sith Academy and starting world for both Sith classes. She becomes a companion toward the end of your time on Korriban; the same pattern as most first-companions follow. As a companion, you can continue to treat Vette as a slave, or you can choose to “free” her; but as she’s still your companion she stays with you. If you continue to treat her as a slave you will hit a dead-end in conversations unless you remove her shock-collar. However, once you do, the full suite of conversation options open up, including flirting and romancing, and eventually, marriage. So, yes; the abstract of the romance story is that the Sith Warrior romances and marries his slave, a Twi’lek woman he had absolute control over.

But to be fair to the story, the romance is removed considerably from the beginning of the story; although if you wait until late in the class story to remove her shock collar you could conceivably rush through it in minutes. Time is not rigidly defined throughout. It is frequently implied that some considerable time passes between various cut scenes that move the story along. I think Bioware TRIED to make this work better…but the implication is still there.

My Bounty Hunter is Mikan Sixteen. I have a ton of backstory for this character, but I’m in the middle of re-writing it because she was originally a Sith Inquisitor. She got re-routed to Bounty Hunter on this play-through primarily because the BH has no romance options I’m interested in, while the Inquisitor does. Or did. I found out later I wasn’t actually all that interested in the romance I built a character for, which is why the Inquisitor ended up being by left-over character template from my original Warrior. I’ve mentioned previously every female character-male companion romance I’ve tried is pretty lackluster; although the BH companion Torian is at least…tolerable. The older I get, the more he comes off as a kid, though; which is a bit off-putting. You can romance your first companion, Mako, if you roll a male character; but I just don’t like her very much. Her story is actually quite interesting in the end, but it’s served in my head-canon by having a spiritual sister in Mikan Sixteen rather than a romance.

I have completed the original story with Mikan as well, leaving her for crafting primarily. As I’ve never taken the Bounty Hunter deeper in the game, I suspect I’ll have a lot of companion achievements to finish up with Mikan. I was able to use the new open fighting-style options to give her the Agent’s Sniper skill set instead of the normal Bounty Hunter builds. I figured that made a lot of sense considering the Chapter One story for the BH is “The Great Hunt,” a Mandalorian-sponsored bounty-collection contest. You are given the option to “become” a Mandalorian in this storyline, but just as with other class story-only choices, this isn’t reflected in later content either way. As a Bounty Hunter, you’re treated as a Mandalorian when the story calls for it, or treated as an outsider when the story needs you to NOT be a Mandalorian. You are Schrodinger’s Mandalorian.

A glimpse of my Sith Inquisitor, Trada Visi. The Sith Inquisitor storyline has you start as a slave strong in the force, and chosen(forced) to attend the Sith Academy. This story wouldn’t really fit the Sith Pureblood race, but Bioware actually came up with some unique story elements about a family fallen from grace if you choose this. Which actually reinforces the Chapter One storyline, in which you find out you are the descendant of a long-dead Sith Master killed by the legendary Tulak Hord. Trada Visi has just turned a powerful Jedi padawan to the Dark Side and taken her as an apprentice, so look forward to some screencaps when I finish out their armor. I’m currently wanting some of the new metallic dyes that were just released, but I certainly don’t have enough credits saved up for them and I don’t currently want to spend REAL money. And honestly, I like the basic design of the Visi’s armor, but the dye patters don’t match between the top and the bottom (two different outfits). They also have different underlying tones, so dyes look different on each when applied.

My last active character at the moment is Teers (pronounced Veers, or beers if you rather) Quendrutus. He’s an absolute bastard that I created purely to do a romance I’ve never pursued: the Sith Warrior’s third companion and apprentice, Jaesa. Jaesa is unique in that you can recruit her as either Light Side or Dark Side depending on your own alignment and conversation choices at the right time. The Sith Warrior is actually incredibly easy to play Light Side, and Lord Zeele above is Light Tier 2 or 3, I don’t remember which. You build up influence with Vette faster choosing Light Side conversation options, AND playing a reasonable, pragmatic, Light Side Sith is HILARIOUS in your various Jedi encounters. They truly do not know how to react to a Light Side Sith, and end up attacking you in frustration…which reinforces the notion that the Sith Warrior is the well-adjusted, NORMAL force user in the room. And all these Jedi are nucking futs. I’ve done Dark Side Jaesa WITHOUT the romance and she’s INSANE. I figured the romance may add some interesting elements.

So, that at least ends us feeling a bit better than we started. Thanks for reading; see you all next week. I really am feeling better, now.


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6 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye/Lif Goes On

  1. Makot says:

    It’s never easy to lose a family member, even “just” a pet (it’s never “just a pet”. Somehow the little critters always became family members). Condolences.

    Re: Vette romance: iirc this is a huge improvement from the original version, where romance started whether the slave collar was on or not.

  2. Zaxares says:

    My condolences to you and your family over the loss of Bass, Paige. :(

  3. Daimbert says:

    Regardless, SCORPIO is a lot of fun considering her disregard of all lower life forms…that is; everyone else. It’s just a shame you get her so late in the original story she has less scripted dialogue than the other companions. HOWEVER, she plays a big role in later expansion stories. I was quite surprised.

    SCORPIO is another character that I don’t care for because none of my characters would want her around, which aligns her with Kreia from Sith Lords and Skadge from TOR. That meant when at the end of “Knights of the Fallen Empire” she joins with the remnants to be the new threat I was not encouraged to continue. To be honest, for me she’s just a little too impressed with herself but that is actually consistent because the writers are a little too impressed with her, too, and I tend to hate those sorts of characters (a reason I don’t care for Kaliyo either).

    One of the goals with Zeele, the entire reason I created him instead of my usual Sith Warrior Trada Visi (who is now doing a Sith Inquisitor play-through) was to do the full Vette romance option.

    Interestingly, while almost all of my characters are gray at worst, I went full Dark Side with one of them to do the Jaesa romance, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the Sith Warrior story. Jaesa’s alignment depends on the alignment of your Warrior. If you’re light or gray, she’s Light Side, and if you’re dark, she’s Dark Side. You can only romance her when she’s Dark Side. (And now I see that you mentioned that at the end of the post [grin]).

    As for Vette, I think she ends up enslaved as part of the introductory story — ie she’s captured by the Empire while doing something that you need to figure out, and is fitted with a slave collar because of that, and then given to you to help you with your mission — and so she isn’t a typical slave. She definitely mocks everyone when she gets a chance to and has her own personality before joining up with you. That makes her an interesting character and makes the idea that the romance starts after she has been with you for a while less of an issue, because it’s not like your influence really changes her in any way, and her romance options tend to be buttressed by the cases where you treat her well and so are more light side. She’s also one of my favourite companions in the entire game.

    I’ve mentioned previously every female character-male companion romance I’ve tried is pretty lackluster; although the BH companion Torian is at least…tolerable. The older I get, the more he comes off as a kid, though; which is a bit off-putting. You can romance your first companion, Mako, if you roll a male character; but I just don’t like her very much. Her story is actually quite interesting in the end, but it’s served in my head-canon by having a spiritual sister in Mikan Sixteen rather than a romance.

    If you don’t romance Torian or Mako — depending on the gender of your character — the two of them take up with each other. That romance is so cute that even with the characters who might romance Mako — my last one flirted with pretty much everyone — I refuse to romance either of them.

    While I hate any hint of self-promotion, here are the characters that I’m using for my TOR Diary runs (just text and no images), in a tidy page on my blog. I’ve completed four diaries and have the fifth character scheduled through to April and am almost done with that run. The only story that I don’t have a character for yet is the Trooper, because I can’t think of a character to base that one on.

  4. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Aw, I’m sorry about your pupfriend, age gets us all in the end.

    For several reasons I haven’t really had pets for the last 20+ years but one of my online friends had to put her long time dog companion to sleep some time ago. Near the end of her long life the poor girl has basically lost most of control in the back half of her body, could hardly go outside, couldn’t move her back legs or control her peeing most of the time and then she’d get very anxious about being moved around and cleaned. Sometimes you just have to make the call no matter how it hurts.

  5. Niels says:

    Remember: all dogs go to heaven.

  6. Octal says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    I’m sure he took comfort from your presence at the end.

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