I have a post planned for the KotFE Retrospective series which will look back over the various Alerts and state which ones were my favourite or least favourite, but this will need to wait of course until the final one for the season. Whichever one this may be, because with Zenith's mission having been lost in the pipeline momentarily this may or may not reappear before Eternal Throne.
Something which I brought up in my most recent post made me think seriously about the future of this system. With the sole exceptions of Khem Val, Lord Scourge, and Tharan Cedrax, all of the returning Companions are Romance options, which means that there is a greater precedent - if not an outright guarantee - for their appearance in the overall 'main' story.
Certainly, given that the Alerts are disliked by several people due to us becoming the Revan-esque silent protagonist after hearing their voices for so long, the reaction to encountering a potential sweetheart and hearing nothing coming from our characters' mouths will not be pleasant, so it's 'safer' for the powers-that-be to eliminate this as a possibility.
Which then leaves us with the quandary; with only three non-Romanceable Companions left, is there much future for the Alliance Alert?
From a story perspective, the need for the Alliance to self-propagate is going to be greatly diminished with the advent of help from both the Republic and the Empire. Thus, any potential recruits would either be a necessity to aid negotiations or a representative from a certain body of people.
Say for example that the Jedi would have Kira Carsen as their spokesperson, the Republic military Felix Iresso, the Imperial military Malavai Quinn, Sith Intelligence Raina Temple, and the Imperial Diplomatic Service Vector Hyllus. These people are easy enough to tie down to a specific branch of each of the two factions and I imagine it's a fairly safe bet that we'll see this play out.
Then there's the SIS and the Sith, both of whom actually already have representatives in the Alliance but no impartial returning Companion, unless Scourge has repaired his ties with the Empire - there's also Jaesa and her potential Sith apprenticeship to consider - or Dorne has managed to secure a post in the SIS despite Saresh's hatred of her Imperial heritage.
This is also ignoring those who belong to the Republic in a still-significant-but-less-politicised role, such as Archiban "Doc" Kimble, who would in all likelihood have started a new clinic and be using his fame to attract custom, and Tharan Cedrax, who would likely have tried to do something or other to reclaim his good standing in the scientific community.
There are, of course, other branches or entirely separate factions to potentially bring into play. The Rift Alliance was of course briefly paid homage to by the return of Tai Cordan in Chapter XV: The GEMINI Deception, but it would be interesting to have it continue to exist and recruit new members, perhaps including the recently-'repaired' state of Dubrillion under Risha Drayen.
For the 'neutral' side, we'll have pirates and planetside militia to contend with, particularly with Companions like Andronikos Revel and Corso Riggs who fit the bill for being senior members in the respective groups. Securing the aid of either of these groups would be a bargaining chip for the respective faction if Revel's group has been raiding Republic fleets and Corso's band hitting Imperial outposts, as stopping such activities would receive gratitude.
I still need to find possible places for Akaavi, Ashara, Khem, Mako, and Nadia in all this.
The point is that a ton of these Companions have a role which can intricately be tied back to a faction, and particularly far more so than the majority of Alliance Alerts. Certainly, I wouldn't say that - in spite of their Imperial ties - either Talos Drellik or Eckard Lokin could be politicised, and certainly not in comparison to people like Quinn or Iresso.
If the story has put us in such a situation that the Republic and Empire will point these people out to us, then the 'Alliance Alert' as it is has no real rights to continue existing.
Whilst this post was mainly about the Alliance Alert, it's worth talking about the problematic ones for the story: Khem, Jaesa, and in several ways Elara.
Khem and Jaesa are obviously going to be problematic due to their dual-nature; Khem can either be the morose monster himself or his body could be playing host to Darth Zash's mind in its entirety, whilst Jaesa could either be Light Side or Dark Side.
I don't know how they'd even begin to handle putting Khem into the main story. Unlike Scourge, whose prophecy could be twisted to suit the Outlander's need - also solidifying the claims that the Outlander is in fact the Knight - and Tharan, who could potentially be in a Gault-and-Vette style partnership with another techie Companion (Mako), the grounds for putting our beloved Dashade into the main story in the absence of an Alliance Alert are very thin indeed.
If I were to say that anything that I could choose could happen for Jaesa and Khem, it's that they'd both be class-specific. It would negate all the possible problems and give the people the 'ending' they specifically 'chose' for these characters. I doubt it will ever happen, but this is me just saying what the ideal solution is in my mind.
Elara is going to be problematic because of one thing; she wants to serve the Republic military, due to her devotion to her new home, but she now can't because Saresh has cracked down hard on her due to her Imperial lineage. Her spot in Havoc Squad was all but shamefully revoked, and this also puts paid to any chances of her securing any 'significant' spot in any other branches under Saresh's nose on Coruscant.
This is in part why I list Iresso as the Republic military spokesperson, as he's far more the idealistic puppet which Saresh could manipulate. The only other option for this spot is Jorgan, but considering that for some players he may be deceased, it's safer to give this job to an alternative.
Elara could thus have several different paths. She could have spent a brief spell under Iresso, or be continuing her combat medic duties in partnership with either Corso Riggs, supporting his potential crew of 'good men' who may also be former-Republic, or the only other professional medic who isn't Eckard Lokin; Doc. Or she could pull in a few favours and get herself a nice little position on a backwater world helping recruit defectors. Or she could be a 'background asset' to the SIS.
There are many paths open to her, but I have to say that I myself am leaning more toward a partnership with Doc, based solely on the fact that having to recruit one medic experienced with working in a war zone immediately prior to recruiting another seems like an incredible waste of opportunity. This is also similar reasoning to why I previously suggested Tharan to be in-leagues with another techie Companion.
The only 'significant' hope for the Alliance Alerts is if there are to be new Companions similar to the Resistance Fighters or (not another one...) Subscriber Rewards like Nico Okarr and HK-55.
At this point, the only confirmed 'new' Companions are Z0-0M and either Master Ranos or Darth Hexid. Z0-0M is only the second feminine-programmed Droid (although curiously with a masculine-style frame) and will be available for those who are eligible for "A Shroud of Memory" on September 7th, whilst neither Hexid nor Ranos are currently purported to have any significance to the KotFE story.
At the same time, hinging the future of the Alert on a Companion who not everyone will even be eligible for doesn't exactly result in good tidings for the Alert. Z0-0M will be a story Companion, so 'it' doesn't even apply for Alert status!
As for any outright new Companions akin to the Resistance Fighters, we may still get some, but if it's in anyway too similar to the Star Fortresses there will be complaints regarding the lack of variety. Similar to Hexid and Ranos, it's also a lot to hinge the existence of the system on.
It's a rock and a hard place.
There are many, many unknowns about the upcoming content which will be present in Eternal Throne. We just don't know how any of this stuff is going to play out.
As I hope to have demonstrated, whenever I approach a topic of speculation such as this, I like to lay out as many possible paths as I can come up with and offer criticisms appropriately. If I can see a path which seems stronger than any other, I'll stick with it, but won't dismiss the others.
It doesn't help that in this context the parameters are just too limiting for there to be an alternative arrangement. The narrative all-but positing the Alliance in a situation whereby it no longer needs to actively search for support by itself, whilst a good advancement, really just whisks the reason for the Alerts' existence away.
Furthermore, if all Romance Companions are indeed destined to return in the main story if I understand what little BioWare have said on the matter correctly (although the fallout of the alternative would be too great) then only leaving three 'universal' Companions for potential Alliance Alerts renders the system all but pointless without anything new.
At the same time, if the Alert is destined to disappear, it might explain why they did so many right at the start of KotFE, to get as much out of the system as possible before it was no longer necessary.
BioWare have proven to be far too good at making strange decisions of late. I wouldn't put it past them to introduce this system as a 'world-building exercise' only to all-but-dismiss it at the first opportunity if the story no longer requires it.
In the meanwhile, I'm still wondering whether Zenith is going to show up or not before Eternal Throne. He may well be the key to the Alliance Alert existing for just a little bit longer.