Nightwatch: Ch. 4.4 – Aliens and Nightwatch

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[4] To Stand Against the Night

[4.4] Aliens and Nightwatch

Obviously, there is no place for aliens in Nightwatch proper. For most non-humans, the feeling is decidedly mutual, in the sense that there is no room for Nightwatch in their regions of space. The Ministry of Peace can be polite to aliens for practical reasons, but the public excuse for this division is to protect Earth’s cultures and safety. Aliens in Earth space during the time when Nightwatch is in power can expect to be constantly monitored and occasionally harassed. Alien troublemakers will receive the same treatment as human ones, albeit with more disdain and without attempts to “convert” them.

On the other hand, the real powers behind Nightwatch are eminently practical, and most of them do not really care about aliens as long as they are not a threat to their authority. This hypocrisy runs deep, extending to the very heart of EarthGov and Clark’s association with the Shadows. Unscrupulous aliens with valuable information about human dissidents can expect to be well paid for their efforts. Smugglers with alien technology to sell to Earth will receive all the assistance Nightwatch can muster, no matter what they look like. The division actively recruits alien assassins willing to play the monster for propaganda efforts. Intelligent aliens are dubious about working for humans willing to use such tactics, but Nightwatch pays well, and those taking the precautions expected of a professional in these fields will live to spend the credits.

Unless the players have characters in these fields, those playing aliens will only encounter Nightwatch as opponents. Its leaders will avoid them, its agents will monitor them and its thugs will make the occasional not-so-subtle warning to stay out of Earth business. If the characters are involved in “Earth business,” players of alien characters can expect the agents to do more than just watch, using their usual tactics to discredit and destroy their enemies. Outside of Earth jurisdiction, however, their reach is far more limited, making alien allies valuable in the fight against oppression.

The problem with aliens allying with resistance forces is that it makes the perfect disinformation tool for Nightwatch. It simply declares rebels guilty by association, claiming that human opposition to it is merely a tool of the enemy aliens trying to subvert Earth and its culture. Alien player characters who help the resistance are labelled the true leadership, enemies of the all-important cultural and ideological purity that Nightwatch protects.

[4.4.1] Under the Shadow

As Babylon 5 fans know, President Clark owes much of his power to the beings known as the Shadows. Ancient, inscrutable and tremendously powerful, the Shadows could certainly exercise that power in any number of ways through Nightwatch.

In all likelihood, however, they never will, at least not in any way that will affect player characters.

True, some minor Shadow technology filters down to EarthForce and certain policies are suggested to Clark and his personal agents. Mr. Morden and others like him certainly have connections among Nightwatch’s leadership. Justin and his ilk probably co-opt Nightwatch agents for their own purposes. Nevertheless, the Shadows have neither the inclination nor the disposition to micromanage groups such as Nightwatch.

For that matter, given the Shadows’ intentions, it may well be in their interest to ensure that some form of resistance survives. They see great promise in the humans, after all, and their philosophy would seem to consider tyrannical order anathema in the long term. It is entirely possible that they intended President Clark to fall from the very beginning. Alternately, they might have wanted an Earth-based dictatorship to vie with the more independent colonies for supremacy, allowing Darwinism to take its course. Regardless of their choices, the Shadows are unlikely to involve themselves in the activities of human resistance groups except in two cases. If the rebel forces are all in danger of being destroyed, someone like Morden may come to them offering help. If they are in danger of forging a larger interspecies alliance, or have joined the Army of Light, they might be targeted for special attention. Otherwise, the only threat to resistance members will be from humans, which should be danger enough for most.

Of course, beginning with the release of the Keffer video at the beginning of 2260, the Shadows do play an important role in Nightwatch propaganda efforts. The creepy, disturbing images that slowly filter down to the public are just concrete enough to frighten the living daylights out of people, while remaining more than mysterious enough to keep them on edge.

The talking points regarding the Shadows are simple. EarthGov does not know who or what they are. They appear to be a threat to every race, which naturally includes Earth. They have tremendous power, yet seem determined to remain aloof and secretive. Every loyal citizen must therefore give all possible support to the President and the Alliance, trusting the government with as much power and authority as necessary to survive and overcome this new, uncertain danger. And of course, there is no telling which alien powers might have alliances with these shadowy beings, so all good humans should exercise extreme caution when dealing with aliens. Any alien anti-Clark “propaganda” is naturally an example of enemy manipulation.

It is possible that the only greater help Clark received from the Shadows was the death of Santiago. With these frightening, legitimate images available to keep citizens cowed, Nightwatch is able to justify excess after excess in curtailing liberties and increasing surveillance of the public. Ironically, the less likely an unusual sighting is to actually threaten Earth, the more likely Nightwatch is to use it as propaganda.

Once the Shadows leave, of course, everyone is on their own. While this obviously removes Clark’s most powerful ally, it also removes their…oversight. This makes the president the unquestioned top dog in Alliance space for the remainder of his rule, and all sanctioned Nightwatch activity will be directed at protecting that rule. Any restrictions on the use of available Shadow technology also vanish, particularly as the regime grows more desperate.

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