Let's start with an assertion that shouldn't be too hard to agree upon: you don't build a machine to do things you don't want it doing.
Obviously, there are glitches that can crop up and mistakes in manufacturing, but that's something you test for and hopefully control. If you're trying to build a laptop, you don't include a wheelbase and a motor designed to yank the computer away from the user every few minutes. It might overheat and shut off at two-hour intervals, but you aren't trying to make it unusable.
The Mechari are machines. They were built for the express purpose of observing races for the Eldan, and eventually they took on the role of spymasters for the Dominion. Which is probably for the best, because they were apparently designed to be terrible at their original function.
See, even the Mechari didn't actually know what they were looking for. They reported back to the Eldan about species that might be of interest, but that could literally be anything. The Mechari had no idea what the Eldan actually wanted, leaving them to just poke aimlessly until they found something deemed of interest.
Beyond even that, the Mechari seem to have been designed with a number of very... biological traits. For all that we're told the Mechari have no sense of humor, it's very clear that they do have one. Go ahead and re-watch the path trailer with Voxine; she's enjoying her little speech. While that's an amazing accomplishment, it also doesn't help the Mechari do their stated job any better. Being curious just makes them more likely to question the Eldan, to form their own motivations, and ultimately be less useful as tools.
Obviously, the Mechari were instrumental in the founding of the Dominion. In fact, that seems to be a role they perform quite well. They have a vague notion of what the Eldan want, enough to guide some action without strangling the Cassians. The race as a whole is good at keeping secrets and ferreting out the truth. And there's no need to be concerned about the frailties of biology getting in the way.
Part of me wonders if this wasn't their designed purpose all along.
As dispassionate analysts, the Mechari have some notable design flaws. As the masters of intelligence, most of those flaws disintegrate. We know that the Eldan have designed biological species before, several of which didn't exactly work out. Perhaps the Mechari were another experiment along the same lines, trying to do something different for a heightened success rate. It's quite possible that the Mechari are just as much of an experiment as everything else we see in the Dominion, or possibly a robot rat placed alongside its furry companions to see if they accept it.
Which might sound ridiculous, but let's be honest, Voxine doesn't dress up in that tight-fitting suit jacket because she's cold.
Culturally, the Mechari seem to be in an odd place. The race doesn't seem to make art as we understand it, being analytical of Cassian culture rather than strictly consumptive. Being an entire race of spies and wardens doesn't make them incapable of enjoying things, but it does encourage a very different cultural perspective. There's a pressure to remain as outsiders, to be aloof and distant, and no real overall drive to create. Not that it prevents appreciation, perhaps even more appreciation than is entirely appropriate to analyze whether or not a certain play is subtly subversive.
We still don't know exactly how new Mechari are created, but there's the definite implication that it's more mechanical than Mechari genders might imply. One gets the sense that they're still not created with too much regularity, made more to fill a specific purpose than simply to exist. I suspect that the Imperial Corps of Intelligence serves as more or less the cultural center of the Mechari and helps guide the race's overall behavior, even though the Mechari likely think of it as an independent organization they just happened to found and almost completely staff.
Oddly, for all of their secrecy, the Mechari have perhaps the easiest motivation to understand of the Dominion races. They want to ensure that the Dominion remains in place and secure no matter what the cost, and that it remains completely loyal to the throne if not the people on it. Which certainly started out as being simply the role they were designed to perform and a task given by the Eldan that they carried out without question.
Now, however... it may not be that simple. The Eldan have been silent for a very long time now. The Mechari are accepted by the Cassians, welcomed even, and have developed something resembling a culture and an identity. They may not be the most welcomed people at a holiday party, but the Mechari are in fact integrated.
One wonders if that's not what they were supposed to be.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, we'll talk update analysis and speculation on game mechanics, classes, and the like.
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