Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places
I’m at the gym, doing my Sithliest workout day – long cardio. It’s 52 minutes into the Lord Scourge mix and I’m appropriately hearing Maroon 5’s “Misery.” Scourge and I are well past Zedd’s “Skrillex” and The Doors’ “Breaking A Sweat.” Is it really a surprise Lord Scourge is into the relentless rhythm of dub?
“Eight more minutes, or you might as well wear mom jeans,” Scourge hisses in my ear.
“High waists were all over New York Fashion week,” I mutter back. This earns me a wary frown from the woman on the machine next to mine.
“We Sith Lords like them lean and mean,” Scourge responds silkily. I glare at my gym neighbor and her gaze slinks back to the Food Network on her television. I may be having an imaginary conversation with a fictional SWTOR character, but watching the Butterfoot Contessa while running is a completely different level of crazy. I ignore her.
“Just remember, Scourge,” I purr, returning to my inner, oxygen-deprived conversation.
“What?” he asks, his topaz eyes narrowing. He trusts me as much as I trust him – which is to say, not at all.
It’s Scourge’s turn to be dismayed. Bioware’s recent patch allows me to dance with Scourge.
Scourge finds me particularly despicable when I make him dance in the cantina at the Republic Fleet station.
“Lean and mean, did you say, Scourge?” I ask him sweetly. One out of two is a start.
No matter. We’re on the cool down, and it’s Daft Punk’s “Something About Us” the love song from the doomed romance of the anime Interstella 5555:
It might not be the right time
I might not be the right one
But there’s something about us I want to say
Cause there’s something between us anyway…
I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO as a newbie, and I’ve finally finally leveled my Jedi Knight high enough to merit Scourge as a companion.
I’m mildly moderately obsessed with Lord Scourge.
Scourge is a Pureblood Sith Lord of the red-skinned Sith species, first introduced in Drew Karpyshyn’s Revan. Initially he joins Revan to defeat the Emperor, but has a vision that it will be another Jedi who kills the Sith leader. So instead of helping Revan succeed, he betrays him. Scourge sacrifices his ability to feel, smell, taste, and touch in order to gain his own immortality by becoming the Emperor’s Wrath.
He does it, though, not to gain power, as the Sith Code would have us believe. Instead, Scourge wants to live long enough to find the Jedi Knight who will be powerful enough to slay the Emperor. The Emperor of The Old Republic is pure evil, willing to sacrifice the universe to gain immortality. Scourge alone knows this, and in his unique position as The Wrath has the information to stop him.
While Lord Scourge is a Sith, he’s not evil. Well, not entirely evil, anyway. In SWTOR, Lord Scourge is the final companion to complete the Jedi Knight storyline.
For me, Scourge is much more than another non-playable character.
When we hang out at the Republic Fleet cantina, I ignore his ugly, tentacle-bearded face scowling down at me. He’s berating me for acting naively light-sided. Too many Jedi Masters have yelled at me for his intimidation to work. Maybe I am intimidated, just a little. But he doesn’t need to know.
He’s always pacing or glaring at me, arms across his chest. I don’t allow myself to get distracted by how his folded arms show off the bulk of his biceps or the cut of his delts. His voice, portrayed by Joseph Gatt, oozes dark side dark chocolate seduction. When I ask him to do crew skill errands, he rumbles, “As you wish” before setting off. Secretly I feel a bit like The Princess Bride.
Scourge has been subservient to the odious Emperor for the past three centuries, doing every abhorrent task demanded of him. He’s been waiting, patiently, three hundred years… for me.
On my ship, Scourge skulks in the cargo hold where I keep extra equipment. It seems like he’s always working out when I go there to update my gear. I’m watching him from the corner of my eye, flipping through the cargo inventory on a datapad. Did he just do fifteen pull-ups with no effort? And what were those augments I wanted again?
“Twenty, actually,” Scourge drawls. “You missed my first five.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I mumble. I glance up. He’s leaning against the wall, arms across his chest. His expression is frank, appraising. Smug.
His laugh is low. “Oh, Jedi,” he rasps, “we smell our own kind.”
I hope my hair hides the flush spreading across my face as I continue typing furiously into my datapad. Propriety makes me bite the first, second, and third responses that come to mind.
“You wanted the yellow crystal augment,” he adds.
There is no way he can make me this flustered, tongue-tied.
“Sith Lords!” I can’t find anything better to say. Annoyed, I stomp up to the bridge. From my captain’s chair, I stare at the galaxy map.
I’m not totally good. I’ve had my regrettable moments at the Fleet Cantina. I might be guilty of unsportingly dumping Imperials out of an airlock. I even have a few dark-side points. But there’s no denying I am light-sided. In fact, I’m a Light level 3, out of 4.
So why am I attracted to this tall, dark, and dangerous Pureblood?
He doesn’t even like me.
But he’s also had three hundred years to accumulate wisdom. In the midst of the death and destruction of the war around us, he has the ability to make me laugh.
When we fight together, he shouts at our enemies:
“Kill me, if you have the will!”
“Prepare for the inevitable… Die!”
And my personal favorite: “Feel the power of the Sith! My lightsaber hungers.”
Every interaction with Scourge makes my goody two-shoe heart beat just a little faster. Maybe Katy Perry “Hummingbird” faster.
Lord Scourge is noble, strong, and sword-wielding. He even has an English accent. Scourge is a beast – a sexy beast, straight out of regency romance.
He and the female Jedi Knight are the perfect set up for a “Beauty and the Beast” story line.
Moping on the bridge, though, I know there’s no point in wishing anything between us. If I try any more interactions with him, he’s programmed to curtly reply, “ Right.” Or worse, “There’s nothing more to say.” I’m the kind of girl silence stings, so I leave him alone.
Scourge’s ideals are lofty. He’s focused on the job of defeating the Emperor.
He’s not romanceable.
My Jedi’s only romance choice is Doc, a dark haired human male, former Balmorran rebel. Doc offends me on nearly every level:
- He has a soul patch. Never trust a guy with a soul patch.
- He doesn’t like my best friend in-game, my first companion and former Padawan, Kira. Never trust a guy who doesn’t like your BFF.
- He’s always bragging about being a doctor. He even says he’d invent a disease so he could cure it, for fame and cash. That manages to even offend me professionally, let alone trust a guy who’d do that and then brag about it.
- He says, “Trust me, I’m a doctor.” Free medical advice: if your doctor says that to you, leave. Immediately.
- Worst of all, Doc calls me “baby.” Let’s borrow from Carly Rae Jepson: Don’t call me, not even maybe.
It’s not just miserable for my female Jedi Knight. Throughout the classes, both Empire and Republic, the female characters don’t get the romances – or even flirt options – nearly as much as the male characters do.
Consider the plight of the female Sith Warrior. While her male compatriots get two romance options, she only gets one: the handsome Imperial Captain, Malavai Quinn. Sure, he seems ideal. He’s a guy in uniform. He’s handy with a gun, and he’s her healer. He seems to be an officer and a gentleman. He has a British accent and even writes love letters.
Then he betrays her! He betrays the male warrior in that version of the storyline too, but they aren’t married! (I won’t start a rant about Bioware’s unfulfilled promise for same-sex relationships.)
The romance complaints are all over the SWTOR forums – about Lord Scourge, about every class. I’d like to complain that this is just Bioware, but I’m fairly certain Jaina Solo fans understand what I’m talking about. So many missed opportunities. It’s a marked contrast to classic mythology timeless literature Episodes IV-VI and I-III. Han Solo and Princess Leia. Anakin and Padmé. All great adventures have romance and all great romances have adventure.
It’s sent me into a SWTOR funk.
It’s late on one of those dark nights when even the street noises are subdued. My Padawan is safely tucked into her Princess bed. Hubs is eight time zones away, in another EU. I’m in my black flannel Vader pjs, sitting cross-legged on my bed, work laptop open.
“I’m disappointed you are not using your Nar Shaddaa computer,” Scourge says. He’s referring to the gaming laptop reserved for SWTOR at our house.
“You’re like that Kylie Minogue song,” I snap. “I can’t get you out of my head.”
“You haven’t been playing.” Scourge’s tone is only mildly accusatory. It’s true, I haven’t. It’s been a combination of many things – a busy workload; I’m catching a cold; Padawan has a Science Fair project…
“Excuses, Jedi,” Scourge replies.
“I can’t decide if our conversations are interesting or disturbing,” I tell him, watching the sparkling lights of the San Francisco skyline. He’s right. I have been reluctant to continue my Jedi storyline.
“It’s not that I don’t want to love you,” Scourge says. “I can’t. I’m not programmed for it.”
A redeye takes off from SFO.
“Why are you telling me this Scourge? Is this a feint attack of some sort?”
Scourge rolls his broad shoulders in an elegant half-shrug, “I approve of your suspicious nature, Jedi,” he says. “But The Emperor remains undefeated and we haven’t even finished Belsavis. We may be running out of TOR time. You know you are procrastinating.”
“Wise words, Sith,” I answer. With all of the changes at Bioware, now Lucasfilm and Disney, the future of TOR is uncertain. Who knows what may happen to the MMO.
But it’s not that. Now that I have Scourge, I know I’ll lose what little story I have of him when I complete the Jedi storyline. I feel sad that I’ve become so attached. Then I feel ridiculous for feeling so sad about a fictional character.
Better just to play my Sith Inquisitor. Like my Jedi, she has an ugly and muscular companion, Khem Val. Maybe because he doesn’t speak Basic, or maybe because I don’t know his backstory – and probably because he’s not humanoid – he has zero romantic appeal to me.
“Consider the Sith Code.” Scourge continues, watching me carefully. “Peace is a lie.”
I agree. The universe is entropy. Strange things happen. The proverbial horse throws you into free fall… Suddenly you, your highly organized, highly structured life – chaos.
I nod at Scourge to continue.
“You have passion, Jedi,” Scourge says. “Use it to gain strength. Use it to find your power.” His eyes glitter in the dark, “We come from different universes.”
I shrug, feeling a little hopeless.
Scourge pauses for a long moment, his eyes intent on my face. “We don’t have to.”
It dawns on me what my Sith muse is suggesting.
He’s telling me there is no point in complaining, just passively asking for change. If your universe doesn’t give you what you want, you just have to create your own world, your own happily ever after.
“Nar Shaddaa?” I wonder.
Scourge shakes his head. “You have more credibility in your galaxy.”
I nod at him thoughtfully, fingers tapping. Where can I imagine impossible things happening? Someplace where a Jedi and Sith might meet? With a snap,“Vegas it is.,” I say.
I put away my laptop and pull out my battered idea notebook. I start outlining an idea for NaNoWriMo – November’s National Novel Writing Month.
“Just make sure you keep my delts,” Scourge adds.
“The future – it’s always in motion,” I reply. I hide my smile at his annoyed expression. I love doing that to him.
Scourge glowers at me, “Tomorrow is long cardio, Jedi. Versa climber.” I hate that machine, but Scourge’s Sith nature is rubbing off on me.
“Lay it on me, Sith.”
Scourge gives me his calculating look again, stroking his tendrils. The corners of his lips turn up.
“Keep it up, Jedi, and you’ll have me on the ropes,” Scourge murmurs seductively. He shakes his head. “You fangirls,” he says almost to himself, “You’re unstoppable.”