I feel sort of bad for the Exiles of WildStar. This column kicked off with speculation about the Dominion, and not too long after that we started learning about the Dominion. As a result, those three races that we still haven’t gotten to play in this unreleased game are so last month and no one wants to hear about them any more.
Also, the Exiles have been systematically removed from every system they’ve ever collectively called home. So I also feel bad about that part. But mostly the timing thing.
But it’s time for equal treatment, at least insofar as the Exiles deserve more unpacking than they’ve gotten. On the surface, the Exiles are just a little easier to understand and a lot easier to see as a sympathetic faction. But just as the harsh presentation of the Dominion hides a more positive and benevolent side, the much shinier presentation of the Exiles hides elements that I don’t think the faction itself is necessarily all that comfortable with.
What it takes to survive
Let’s make something clear: The galaxy of WildStar is not a friendly place.
Every bit of science fiction has a fundamental assumption about what’s around the next nebula. In Star Trek, every new planet with civilized life is the source of potential allies and companions, even if sometimes you have to work through some pretty severe differences. It’s a fundamentally optimistic universe. In WildStar, by contrast, most of the galaxy is either controlled by the Dominion or filled with people who are just plain unfriendly and dangerous. It’s a big frontier, you are not safe, and the natives don’t want you in their backyards.
The Exiles have been out in this unfriendly galaxy for a while. Assuming that we mark Brightland’s rebellion as the start of the Exiles as a whole (which is only partly accurate, but whatever), they’ve been subsisting on whatever they can find for three hundred years. No matter what you assume the Exile fleets look like, having no port of call is going to be a pretty big deal after a while.
We know that the Aurin let the Exiles recover on their homeworld. We also know that the Dominion took that as an opportunity to blast the ever-loving crap out of that world. It can’t be lost on any race in the galaxy that the Exiles, as a whole, are bad news if you enjoy staying out of the Dominion’s way. They aren’t your problem.
So not many doors are open to this group of rag-tag and rebellious individuals out in the cold depths of space. How do you think they keep going? What has the fleet been doing during its long exile?
But we already know the answer: whatever it takes.
With us or against us
In the classic style of a Western story, when dealing with a stranger, there’s always a certain level of caution from everyone involved. The stranger is armed, and he’s wandering about. That means he needs things that other people have, and while he might be willing to trade in fair value for them, he might also just start the bidding at “I have a gun” and go up to “I am firing my gun.”
The Exiles as a whole don’t want to hurt anyone. But when push comes to shove, if the fleet needs to resupply and there are no other options, someone has to give them those supplies. As much as everyone in the world (including me) draws parallels to Malcolm Reynolds, the truth is that the Exiles are simply too large to all maintain permanent nobility.
Shots have been fired, I am sure. Innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time no doubt inadvisably said no when the Exiles were low on fuel but high enough on bullets to make a convincing counter-argument.
More or less everyone suspects that the last Exile race is some sort of space undead. I wouldn’t be surprised if this race is the one that takes care of these problems that the Exiles as a whole doesn’t want to deal with. The Aurin might not like pulling the trigger on a perfectly normal world, but they’re happy to help if someone else throws the first stone. The Granok are happy to be a part of a conflict that’s already ongoing. The humans want to keep going but want to feel like righteous and virtuous crusaders.
That leaves the last race as the one that does the hard work necessary to keep the fleet moving, work that’s distasteful but absolutely required. You’re either with the Exiles or you’re against them. Much like the Dominion, in the end.
A second shot
Amidst all of this, we come to Nexus. A world with advanced technology that could allow the Exiles to actually hold off their enemies. A world with everything they need. A world that could mean they stop running and start living where they want, giving them actual freedom again.
Why this world instead of any other? Because this is the world they need. It’s absolutely perfect. It’s a place wherein the men and women of the fleet can settle down and have a home after so much has been taken from them by the Dominion. If the Exiles never wanted to hurt anyone, here’s a spot wherein they could actually stop hurting anyone. All they have to do is make sure the Dominion stays off the planet.
It’s going to be a heck of a storm that brews on Nexus. And no one is backing down early.