Part 3: Friends in Low PlacesPart 3: Friends in Low Places
Last time, we had a couple of informative chats with Carth, and visited the cantina to mingle with the locals and start our illustrious career as a professional duelist. "Fight for the honor, fight for the splendor," as they say. Frankly, I'm not so sure about the honor and splendor at this point, but we did earn a nice amount of credits from our two fights so let's visit Kebla Yurt's Equipment Emporium and see if she's got anything worth buying.
You looking to buy some supplies? My shop's the largest one in all of Upper Taris. Best selection on the planet. Whatever you need, I've got. Well, mostly.
Mostly? What do you mean by that?
The Sith confiscated all my heavy weapons. And they impounded all my ships and swoop bikes. But I've still got a real nice selection, if you're interested.
Let me see what you've got for sale.
Ah, just so you know, the prices on the items are final - no bargaining here. This isn't a swap meet, ok? I only deal in top notch stuff.
Kebla's got some nice weapons and armor for sale, although some of the better armor in particular is too expensive and we can find even better stuff for free pretty soon. I thought about picking up the Echani Ritual Brand, which is a double-bladed melee weapon and quite powerful, but our dual-wielding isn't good enough yet to make it worth it. So, I'll leave this one for later.
This, however, we will pick up right now. At the moment, we don't know what we need it for, but... well, something tells us a permacrete detonator might come in handy soon. Call it a hunch or a vibration in the Force, or something.
Finally, we'll grab some medpacs because we had to use a few in our last fight.
That's all we're gonna get from Kebla right now. Let's head back out.
Again? Okay then Carth, what's up?
Carth. Carth, please. I don't like where this is going.
We'll tell him as much.
Yeah, I've got some ideas.
That'd be chief among them.
Fucking hell, Carth! This is why everyone hates you. Well, maybe not just this specific thing because most players probably choose the male protagonist, but it certainly doesn't help matters.
I assumed Carth was over 12 years old, but I'm no longer so sure about that.
Carth. Carth, please stop.
Well, at least we get to call him a sexless marsh-toad. That's something, I suppose. We could also just have told him this was ridiculous instead of insulting him.
I don't want to hate on Carth too much because everyone does that, but he's making it really difficult to resist.
If you find Carth's antics charming for some reason, you can tell him as much. We'll just keep telling him he's out of line, not that he's going to smarten up anytime soon.
I just would like to know you better.
Oh. Well, if it's an interrogation you wanted, why didn't you say so?
This isn't an interrogation. I never said that.
No, l was just joking, though you do seem to be full of questions. It's rather refreshing, to be honest. Let me ask you something first, though. I've been going through the battle aboard the Endar Spire over and over in my head since we crashed. Some things just don't add up for me. Maybe you could tell me what happened... from your perspective.
Well, we woke up when half the ship blew up, then me and Trask fought our way through a small army of Sith, and Trask decided to sacrifice himself for no reason.
We lost the ship and a lot of good people... and for what? On the hope that Jedi powers would save us, somehow. Not that Bastila had much of an opportunity to act. We didn't choose that battle, anyway. It got forced on us. Hell, I'm just surprised that any of us are alive to talk about it. Come to think of it, it's more than a little surprising that you happen to be here, isn't it? Just what is your position with the Republic fleet, anyway?
I used to be a smuggler, if you must know. I was recruited into the fleet for my knowledge.
A smuggler? I should have guessed. Isn't it odd, however, that a smuggler who was added to the crew at the last minute just happens to be alive?
Are you implying *I* had something to do with the crash?
Carth's paranoia aside, the apparent fact Bastila requested us aboard the Endar Spire is rather odd. Why would she do that? And why weren't we informed?
Considering your connection to Bastila and the Jedi... whether you know it or not... your presence here seems a little convenient. I'm probably wrong and this is probably nothing, I know. I learned a long time ago not to take things at face value, however. And I *hate* surprises.
It's like he expects us to betray him or something.
I expect you're right. I've got no real reason to suspect you of anything. Still... it's better to be safe than sorry, right?
You do know we're on the same side, right?
Look... it has nothing to do with you, personally. I don't trust anyone, and l have my reasons. And, no, I'm not going to discuss them. So can we just keep our mind on more important things?
You haven't heard the last from me on this.
Alright, alright. You must be the most damned persistent woman I've ever met. We'll talk about it... but later. Right now I just want to get going.
Another stimulating conversation with Carth Onasi. We will learn more about him and discover that he does have a valid reason to be the way he is (at least in terms of not trusting people, not so much his questionable attempts at hitting on the female protagonist), but until then we'll have to deal with more passive aggressive bullshit. Maybe Carth wouldn't be so hated if all this stuff wasn't so front-loaded, but as it is you'll have to deal with it for many hours before he finally explains what his fucking problem is. That doesn't exactly endear him to the player, especially when you also have to deal with him being a pushy creep.
But with that out of the way, let's continue on. There are two more doors at the other end of the map. The one to the north will take us to North Upper City.
The door on the opposite side leads to a medical facility. We don't need healing at the moment, but might as well go check it out and see if they've got any supplies they could sell us.
Medical facility? Is this some kind of hospital?
This is a hospital of sorts, though my resources are quite limited since the Sith quarantined the planet. I provide basic medical services to all citizens of and visitors to Taris.
Tell me about the rakghoul disease.
The terrible affliction has plagued Taris for many generations. It is spread by the rakghouls, horrible monsters that live in the Undercity below Taris' great skyscrapers. Prolonged exposure to the Undercity breeds the disease and those infected will eventually mutate into rakghouls themselves, becoming mindless beasts that feed on the flesh of others.
Is there no cure?
There is no antidote for the disease, though I heard the Republic scientists at the military base here on Taris were close to perfecting a cure. Then the Sith arrived. They overran the military base and now they refuse to allow anyone access to the laboratories inside. The Sith are keeping all the serum for the patrols they send into the Undercity. If I could just get my hands on a sample of that serum the rakghoul disease could be wiped from the face of Taris forever. But I don't see how that's going to happen.
Well, that's clearly a job for us.
I don't see how anyone could get their hands on the serum. The military base is crawling with Sith guards. Breaking in there would be a suicide mission.
So clearly, we're going to be breaking into the military base at some point. Anything else?
That sounds like a challenge.
We could tell him straight out that we'll get the serum, but saying that out loud might be unwise because Zelka might be accused of suggesting we attack Sith patrols or break into the base. So, instead, let's just see what he's got in stock.
The Bio-Antidote package would be quite useful because it completely negates the effects of poison (which is no joke in KotOR), but we can't equip implants in the first place and that is also a level 3 implant, so we'd require all three levels of that feat before we could actually make use of it. Instead, we'll pick up a couple of advanced medpacs. He's also got some stimulants and antidote kits, but we'll get plenty of those elsewhere and I don't want to spend all of my money.
Just taking a look at the quest log again. Nothing too exciting, but there you go.
Before we leave, we should take a look at this locked door at the back. Our Security skill makes quick work of the lock, so let's open the door and see what's lurking behind.
Some people floating in kolto tanks, that's what. Kolto is the precursor to bacta (you know, the stuff they put Luke in after his encounter with the wampa on Hoth) and serves the same purpose. I'm not sure why they didn't just use bacta in this game, but maybe it's because some other Star Wars expanded universe work already established that bacta comes from a certain planet and BioWare wanted to include a plotline about it on one of the planets in KotOR, so they came up with this near-identical healing liquid with a different origin.
Needless to say, Zelka isn't too pleased about us barging into the employees-only area.
However, these aren't just some random guys. These are Republic soldiers from the Endar Spire.
[Persuade] I'm a friend of the Republic. You can trust me.
[Success] I guess... I guess I better tell you what's going on. I only hope the Sith don't find out what I've done. Since the space battle overhead, people have been secretly bringing in these Republic soldiers who crash landed on the planet. I had to take them in. What choice did I have? Their injuries are terrible, most won't survive. But at least I can make their last days more comfortable. And at least here they are hidden away from the Sith.
We could've gotten the same information by threatening Zelka, which would've required less Persuade skill but I think it would've also given us some dark side points. We have as many points in Persuade as we can at this point, so this check is not a problem for us in the least.
I hate to imagine what the Sith would do if they discovered these soldiers here. But since their initial questioning the Sith have not returned, so it may be my fears are unfounded.
Don't worry. Your secret is safe with me.
Thank you for keeping my secret. I only wish there was more I could do, but medical science has only come so far. I'm afraid there is nothing more anyone can do for these soldiers. Now, if you'll excuse me I should return to the front in case anyone comes in needing medical attention.
As we try to leave the medical facility, this shifty guy stops us. He's got some sort of offer for us, and I think we can all guess where this is going.
Davik Kang? Who's that?
Oh, come on - everybody knows who Davik Kang is! He's the big boss around here. Gambling, smuggling, extortion - he's got a piece of all the action on Taris.
Why does Davik want the cure so badly?
Davik's interested in anything that can turn a profit. He could make a fortune selling the serum to anyone infected with the disease - not like Zelka, who'll practically give it away.
Why do you care who gets the cure?
Look, Zelka can't afford to pay me much. If you sell the serum to Davik, I can probably get a nice finder's fee for directing you to him.
Gurney here should do his own dirty work if he wants to get paid, so we'll tell him to fuck off.
Ah, modern healthcare. Carth also says this line if you ask where to find Davik. Sure, the dialogue option does say that you want to give Davik the cure and that's why you wish to know where to find him, but I feel like that might be useful information even if you never plan on giving the cure to him.
We will not be doing that. Well, we are going to visit Zax at the bounty office for unrelated reasons, but we're not giving him the serum.
We're done in Upper City South for the time being, so let's make our way towards the north.
First off, though, there appears to be some type of commotion near the Upper City North entrance.
This doesn't sound too promising.
And Davik seemed like such a nice fellow from what Gurney told us.
But I don't have that much! How can I give you credits I don't have?
That's too bad. Davik's going to want to make an example of you! You're coming with us.
No, they're not.
No, we are not.
Davik doesn't like witnesses.
I don't like your attitude. I better teach you a lesson.
This goes about as well for Davik's thugs as you might expect.
Now I can't pay him back. It's not good to owe a crime lord money. He'll just keep sending more bounty hunters after me until I'm dead!
Let's see what gigantic sum the old man borrowed from Davik. We could also shake him down for the rest of his money if we were giant assholes, but obviously we won't do that.
100 credits? This massive loan that caused Davik to send his goons after you is worth 100 CREDITS? That buys... let's see here... two and a half medpacs. Why not add a zero at the end or at least double the amount to make this a little bit more sensible? That really goes for a lot of situations like this in KotOR. The economy just doesn't seem to add up.
In any event, we'll hand him the 100 credits. Frankly, I think he could go fight Deadeye Duncan and have a decent shot at winning.
It's 100 credits, dude.
It's 100 credits, Carth. We can find more than that just lying around in garbage bins.
Well, at least we did our good deed for the day.
And you know what that means - we earned our first light side points! The main character's alignment bar (seen in the Character section of the menu) is a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is Darth Hitler and 100 is Jedi Jesus (so technically, you don't earn dark side points, just lose light side points). You start right at the middle, i.e. 50 points, which doesn't grant any sort of bonus so you'll definitely want to be at one end or the other. Party members have their own alignments, but those are fixed and they can't earn any points in either direction.
Davik's thugs have 154 credits in total, so we actually made a small profit there.
Now we can finally continue on to Upper City North.
The low-res skyboxes look slightly jarring when the rest of the game is rendered at a higher resolution, but I still quite like the way this part of the city looks. To the north is the entrance to the North Apartments, which we'll visit in a little bit.
We're not here to stare at the scenery, though, so we should move on. Up ahead, we see two more doors - to the left is Janice Nall's droid shop, and to the right is the way to the Lower City elevator and the Sith base.
Before we get there, though, we'll have to deal with some local gentlemen who have been hitting the Tarisian ale just a tad too hard. I'm not entirely sure what makes these fellows think we're "shlummies" as they so eloquently put it, because we're clearly dressed for combat and armed to the teeth. The best case scenario from the drunks' point of view is that we're soldiers who don't have any time for this kind of bullshit. Worst case scenario, we're Davik's thugs who really don't have any time for this kind of bullshit. In either case, if you're bunch of drunken idiots you do not want to get in our face. Then again, no one said drunken idiots were smart.
Thanks for the contribution, Carth. Much appreciated.
This is a very easy Persuade check that doesn't require any points in Persuade whatsoever. We could also tell them we're too much for them to handle, or just kill them if that's your thing (which you shouldn't do, because that'll lock you out of a funny scene a bit later). We'll be nice this time, though.
I think we said the magic words.
The drunks shamble off in search of adventure, and we gain some more XP and light side points. From what I recall, you don't get any points if you threaten the drunks, and killing them will obviously give you dark side points.
With that potentially dangerous situation defused, we'll make our way onward. Our destination is still the Undercity, and that means going down the Lower City elevator. Before we can get there, though, we run into some crazy old man ranting about a terrible scourge sweeping the planet. Somehow, I doubt that refers to the Sith occupation.
Great, let's hear it.
The name Gorton Colu has to be a reference to Gordon Cole, the FBI agent David Lynch played in several episodes of Twin Peaks. The name is pretty much where the similarities end, though. Gordon Cole is a great guy and quite possibly the best character on the entire show.
That is why I, Gorton Colu, have formed the Anti-Alien League. The time has come for action! We cannot sit idly by while aliens blight our glorious planet!
Gorton Colu, on the other hand, is just a racist grandpa in space, and should be treated accordingly.
Come on. We should keep moving. Kook or no, people like him can make trouble for us.
My actual favorite response to Gorton is to slowly back off while saying "I see... well, good luck on your crusade", but he's too dumb to understand sarcasm so he thinks you're actually supporting his cause.
This important-looking elevator is obviously the way to the Lower City.
The northernmost part of Upper City contains the Sith base. We don't have any business in there right now, and even if we did we couldn't get in. No amount of security skill will get us through that front entrance.
So, back to the elevator we go. Unfortunately, there is a problem with that as well.
I'll be going now.
Move along then.
We need some way past the guard, and sweet-talking him is not going to be an option.
And there's our immediate objective - find a Sith disguise.
Now, we could go back to the cantina and apologize to Yun to get back in his good books and eventually receive an invitation to the Sith party taking place in the North Apartments. However, we don't want to party with the Sith, do we?
Let's hit the apartments and see what else we can discover.
The interior of the North Apartments is largely identical to the South Apartments. This apartment here is where the Sith party would be, but it doesn't look like anyone's shown up yet.
The apartment next door, however, has a Sith guard at the door. That seems promising.
We'll see about that.
Please - I'm only a visitor to Taris, trapped here by your quarantine. I know nothing about the Tarisian underground or your missing Sith uniforms!
Well then. I think we might have hit the jackpot.
*whisper* I know all about Sith interrogations. This isn't going to end well.
I don't think the Sith would really be able to tell one Aqualish from another, to be honest.
carth you're blocking the shot
Just stay out of this, if you know what's good for you!
I won't let you kill a defenseless prisoner!
Time to tell this civilian the penalty for defying the Sith!
We're at pretty close quarters here, so I decided to switch to the prototype vibroblade. The fact you can't actually switch loadouts without going into the equipment screen and manually changing weapons is kind of a pain in the ass, and was thankfully fixed in the sequel.
The Hidden Beks? Who are they?
In the Lower City there are some who do not bow to the conquerors. Swoop gangs like the Hidden Beks are gathering resources to one day strike against the Sith oppressors. If you wish to strike another blow against the Sith you would be wise to journey to the Lower City and speak with Gadon Thek, the leader of the Hidden Beks.
Well, we'd love to do so, but there's the matter of getting past the elevator guard and I'd hope this fine fellow could help us with that.
You would have to ask Gadon Thek to know the answer to that question. They approached me, and my only role was to obtain the Sith uniforms for them.
Can you take me to Gadon?
Access to the Lower City is restricted, l have never actually met Gadon. My only dealings were with members of his Hidden Bek gang.
Can I get one of those uniforms from you?
I am sorry, but all the uniforms I had were given to the Hidden Beks. I suppose you could take the uniforms from the bodies of the Sith soldiers in this room if you wanted.
I should be going now.
As should I. The Sith know my face now, I must find somewhere to hide on this world. Thank you once again, human.
Sadly, the Aqualish didn't have any uniforms to spare and suggested we just pick up a uniform from one of the dead Sith. Not really the optimal way to do it, but I guess it'll have to do.
The footlocker in the apartment contains some underwhelming loot and the Sith guards didn't have much either, but the commander can be looted for his armor and blaster rifle. I hope the blood and blaster marks on the armor won't be too noticeable.
The Sith armor doesn't offer that much in the way of protection, but it also doesn't restrict your DEX bonus as much as most other sets of armor.
Now that we're suited up, we can head back to the elevator and gain access to the Lower City. Carth doesn't need a uniform of his own, although at one point in the game's development that was actually required to get past the guard. At least that's how it works in the KotOR 1 Restoration Project. I feel the change was for the better, because we already have to run back and forth a lot on Taris and anything to streamline the experience is welcome in my book. Before we return to the elevator, though, we should go say hello to some old friends.
I love that bit of dialogue. You can walk around in your Sith uniform and scare various NPCs, but most of it just feels kind of dickish. This one is great, though, and I love the fact BioWare included it in the game even though most people would never see it.
Feel free to stay and listen if you wish. You'll find my message most enlightening.
Sadly, Gorton Colu has all the necessary permits, so we can't put a blaster shot between his eyes.
But that's enough of that. We need to get to the Lower City, so let's talk to the elevator guard.
"I could've sworn I saw that guy before... eh, it's probably nothing."
Next stop: Lower City.
We won't need the Sith armor anymore (spoiler: it doesn't help us get past the Undercity elevator guard) so we'll re-equip our combat suit for now.
Looks like there's about to be some action.
Meet the Black Vulkars and the Hidden Beks - the two swoop gangs vying for control of the Lower City. I am noticing a distinct lack of swoop bikes here.
The Beks get absolutely obliterated by the Vulkars. We haven't really seen enough to make a proper judgement on which group is stronger, but the Vulkars definitely had the upper hand in this skirmish.
They're not done, either, because they've spotted us and decided to attack. If you're wearing the Sith uniform here, this line is replaced with "Sith aren't welcome here!"
The fights up until this point have been relatively unchallenging, with weak enemies that are easily disposed of even if your character isn't exactly specced for combat. That changes now. The Black Vulkars are an order of magnitude stronger than anything we've fought so far.
Case in point: a Vulkar just hit Zila for 15 points of damage with his Power Attack (+5 to Damage, so even without that bonus he already hits like a truck at this point in the game). Had she been at full health, she would've just barely made it.
Fortunately, Carth is able to handle the rest on his own. This will happen multiple times while we're down here, because Zila just doesn't have enough HP to survive anything.
A quick fast travel trip to the hideout later, we're back at full strength and able to continue on. The Undercity elevator is at the end of this curved hallway, but before we make our way over there we should check these other points of interest along the way. First in line, we've got Javyar's Cantina.
Noted. Let's go inside.
The entrance area of Javyar's cantina serves as the pazaak room. We can buy pazaak cards or play some games here, but we won't.
What's this all about, then?
One? What that mean? You be funny, tough guy?
You know who we are, Calo? We're members of the Black Vulkar gang! You don't want to be getting funny with us, tough guy.
Me no understand. One? Two? Why he count? He trying to count how many of us is against him?
It's three against one, Calo. What do you think about those odds? Well? You have something more to say?
Calo throws a grenade on the floor.
It turns out to be a flashbang, or possibly a smoke grenade. It's kind of hard to tell with these graphics. While the light/smoke floods the room, multiple blaster shots are heard.
The end result is three very dead Vulkar thugs.
We can try to talk to Calo and compliment him on his handiwork as he walks past us, but he'll just repeat the three-count and you do not want him to finish it unless you want to get a game over for a really stupid reason.
As we make our way further inside, another cutscene activates. Looks like more Vulkars trying to harass a young Twi'lek girl, which I presume would at least be slightly less hazardous to your health than picking a fight with the most notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy.
I think we've found one of those "teenagers with attitude" I've heard so much about.
Who you calling a little girl, Chuba-face?
Little girl needs lesson in manners!
I'm pretty sure "Chuba" is Huttese for "you". That insult doesn't even make any sense.
The Twi'lek girl is noticeably unconcerned about the fact she's got a bunch of swoop gang members getting in her face, and we're about to figure out why that is.
Quit complaining... you can finish eating later. Besides, you need the exercise so get over here.
She happens to be friends with a Wookiee.
You got a problem with me, then you got a problem with Big Z. So unless you want to take on my furry friend, I suggest you greenies hop on out of here.
Not particularly looking forward to having their arms ripped out of their sockets, the Vulkars run off.
If you try to talk to Zaalbar, he's not going to be too sociable. You'll also notice Zila is able to understand Shyriiwook, which is the language of the Wookiees. The fact I know that and the correct spelling without having to look it up is extremely sad.
Say, I don't recognize you and I know pretty much everyone in the Lower City. You must be new down here. I guess that makes me and Big Z your official welcoming committee!
That's weird: a Twi'lek who speaks galactic Basic!
It's not that strange. Most aliens can speak Basic, they just prefer to use their own language. But I grew up here on Taris so I just sort of got used to speaking the native tongue.
Twi'leks usually speak Huttese, and at least in the newer animated shows they often speak English (or Basic, I guess I should say) with an accent. That is not the case with our new friend here, who speaks perfect Basic and is actually voiced by Catherine Taber a.k.a. the voice of Padme Amidala in the Clone Wars shows.
My name's Mission Vao and this big Wookiee is my best friend, Zaalbar. I'd offer to give you a tour, but the streets down here aren't safe. But if there's anything else you need...
How do a Wookiee and a Twi'lek street urchin end up as best friends?
We just kind of fell in together. It ain't easy on your own here in the Lower City - everyone's always looking to push you around.
So we noticed. Still, you seem like an odd pair.
When I met up with Zaalbar it seemed like a good match. I knew we could look out for each other. With my street smarts and his muscle, we make a great team.
Yeah, seems that way. Since we've found someone who isn't trying to kill us, maybe we could see if she could point us in the right direction in our quest.
Well, you came to the right person! If you want info on Lower Taris I'm the one to talk to! Davik, the Lower City gangs... I've even got the scoop on that bounty hunter Calo Nord!
Tell me about Davik.
Davik's part of the intergalactic crime syndicate, but I guess everyone knows that. But I hear he's got a new ship for his smuggling operations - the Ebon Hawk. I don't know much about space travel, but I hear that ship's fast enough to break the Sith blockade. Of course, this is all just second hand rumor.
That does sound like something we should investigate.
If Davik does have a ship, he's got it locked up in his estate. Nobody gets in there, except the people working for Davik and the Exchange.
Tell me about the Lower City gangs.
There's only two gangs worth worrying about here in the Lower City: the Black Vulkars and the Hidden Beks. Sometimes Zaalbar and I hang out at the Bek base. The Beks are led by Gadon Thek - he's a good guy. Lost his sight in a swoop bike accident a few years ago, but even blind he's a great leader. Not like that traitor Brejik! Before he took over the Vulkars he was a Hidden Bek. Gadon considered that ungrateful space slug his adopted son.
Why did Brejik leave the Hidden Beks?
When Gadon went blind everyone figured he'd step down and appoint Brejik in his place. But Gadon figured Brejik wasn't ready yet. He wanted him to wait a few years. But Brejik was too impatient. He left to join the Vulkars, and ever since he's been waging a war to wipe Gadon and his Beks from the face of Taris! This gang war in the Lower City is totally the Vulkars' fault. They're the ones killing everything that moves out on the street. It's like they've gone insane.
Yes, we noticed. One more question left.
He hangs around Zax's bounty office, but I don't think he's looking for work there. All the postings there are small time - way beneath a bounty hunter of his caliber. I figure Calo's been hired by Davik to do a special job for the Exchange. l'd wager a thousand credits that as soon as the quarantine ends, he'll be getting off this rock.
That didn't really help us find Bastila, but we did learn some very useful information so asking the questions was well worth it.
Anyway, that's all we can learn from Mission for now, so let's get a move on.
Can't you think about something besides your stomach for five minutes? Come on - we'll go see if there's anything good to eat at the Bek base.
With that, Mission and Zaalbar wander off. We've still got some stuff to do here at the cantina, but this update is already long enough so we'll get back to it next time.