It is February, 2187, one month after the battle of Earth. Commander Shepard makes the ultimate sacrifice to destroy the Reapers using the Crucible. It is a costly victory. Geth and synthetics are wiped out. Mass relays are shattered.
While much of the allied forces are able to escape, the destruction of mass relays means the rest are unable to leave Sol. The initial jubilance and grief turn to worry, as a lack of central leadership becomes apparent. The derelict Citadel lies in Earth orbit, while cities below are in ruins. Resources remain scarce, reconstruction is proceeding slowly, tension between species and factions mount, and the desperate turn to crime.
A job broker called Sol Restoration Network (SRN) has sprung up among the few surviving comm grids. In a time when authorities are stretched thin, it offers a way to connect survivors in need of help with specialists in need of purpose. Whether you are a survivor or former soldier, a thrill-seeker or altruistic volunteer, you are among the first to sign up.
Each character's personal equipment is limited by their class and role. NPCs will provide mission critical equipment player characters lack.
Two weapons and four powers max per characters. Grenades and heavy weapons count as either weapon or power. Carrying larger weapons and/or wearing heavier armor will result in less effective powers.
Custom items are permitted, but must be based on existing ones and approved by GMs.
Items below require GM permission:
Geth, Collector, Prothean or Reaper equipment
Commander John Shepard is an Earthborn soldier and sole survivor of a thresher maw attack on Akuze. The commander is dead.
Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko was sacrificed on Virmire.
The council was saved during Sovereign's attack on the Citadel. Donnel Udina was appointed the human councilor.
While working alongside Cerberus, Shepard recruited all possible squadmates.
Shepard's assault on the Collector base was a success with minimal casualties, though the commander chose to destroy it.
The rachni queen and it's copy were killed. The rachni are extinct.
The Genophage was cured. Urdnot Wrex and Bakara are leading the krogans.
The heretic geth were overwritten. Peace between quarians and geth allowed them to join forces against the Reapers. However, all Geth have been destroyed by the Crucible's activation.
Allied forces achieved moderately high effect military strength (EMS) going into the final battle.
The Normandy SR-2 and other important figures such as Admiral Hackett, Primarch Victus, Urdnot Wrex and Admiral Gerrel have evacuated prior to the destruction of mass relays. There has been no contact with any of them since.
Admiral Nitesh Singh assumes the role of provisional allied commander. His leadership is not universally accepted.
Andromeda Initiative's last ark launched a year ago. Contact with it has since been lost.
Admiral Nitesh Singh is the commanding officer of the Alliance third fleet. An aging Punjabi man who wears an Admiral's uniform with a kirpan, graying beards, and a turban in place of a cap. Singh is an accomplished strategist; his cautious and analytical approach makes him the ideal leader for protecting the Crucible. However, Singh's tendency to see the worst in everything and everyone does little for his (lack of) charisma. Though he currently holds the largest command in Sol, non-human leaders hardly see Singh as a unifying figure.
Susan Rizzi is an N7 fury and the commander of SSV Fallujah, the only surviving Normandy-class frigate in Sol. Rizzi is an experienced veteran of multiple operations against the reapers. Her identity is rarely known prior, as her missions are clandestine and her face usually hidden behind the mask of her suit. Since the loss of Shepard, Admiral Singh has appointed Commander Rizzi leader of joint special operations, and given her a blank check akin to Spectre authority.
Matriarch Lidanya is the captain of Destiny Ascension. She is currently heading the asari forces in Sol. Her experience leading the Citadel defense fleet makes her believe that everyone's top priority should be salvaging and repairing the Citadel. Lidanya argues Citadel is a more suitable habitat for non-humans compared to Earth, and the cost of restoring it is less than rebuilding the mass relay. Colonel Vaykom, the highest ranking salarian in the system, supports her.
Admiral Ravis Kandros and General Invectus control turian space and ground forces, respectively. Their top concern is the long term survivability of millions of turians in human's home system. Earth does not produce dextro food, and turian rations are finite. Any chances of relying on quarian supplies are dashed when migrant fleet's civilian ships fled upon noticing the Crucible fire. As such, turian leadership adamantly insist on fixing the mass relay above all else.
Dr. Jelize was the chief of the crucible project's circuitry department. The asari scientist now leads the effort to understand the full effects the crucible's activation. Unknown benefactors hired Jelize in expanding SRN's comm grid in exchange for research resources. She accepted, preferring the independent group over military forces.
Job posted: January 29, 2187
Client name: Specialist Yarik, Drell task force 26
Location: Windhoek, Namibia, Earth
Client's request: "My entire unit went berserk! They've been acting weird for the last couple of days. Might be something related to that device we deployed against the collectors. When our human allies investigated, the captain gunned down their leader! I tried to calm my teammates, but they all started attacking the humans. It's like they're in a trance, like that time I smoked [REDACTED]. I took the surviving humans in a kodiak and fled back to the city.
Oh, and the Locust's awake again! I'll explain this part when you get here. Please get here fast!"
Reward: 5000 credits and any salvage found.
Status: In progress—contractors assigned.
Week 1 — February — 2187
Batarian forces led by Balak seize control of Titan. Alliance personnel resisting the takeover have been vented out of the domed cities. This move is widely condemned, with an anonymous Alliance officer calling it "a resurgence of batarian terrorism." There is no comment from Balak.
Mercenary companies were given staging grounds on former Alliance training facilities on Europa. Last week, a three-way skirmish broke out between the Blood Pack, Blue Suns and Eclipse. The Blood Pack successfully ejects their rivals from Europa, and is using their victory to recruit krogans in the solar system. "Traitor Wrex and his alien co-conspirators abandoned the krogans," their propaganda broadcats, "but the Blood Pack won't!"
Blue Suns mercs near Uranus capture a turian survey ship heading for Charon relay. The Blue Suns captain demands a hefty ransom from turian command. Admiral Ravis Kandros calls for their immediate release and threatens to retaliate with "overwhelming force".
Due to above instabilities, travel beyond the asteroid belt is currently not advised.
A quarian mining ship has been detained by salarian patrols near the Citadel. The quarians claim they were rescuing survivors, while the salarians believe they were looters.
The largest resistances agree to a resource-sharing plan. They call for scrapping inoperable spacecrafts for rebuilding habitats on Earth. Non-human leaders are invited to participate, but so far none has accepted the offer.
Bragus Thul, the first krogan quarterback, becomes the mayor of Havana. Thul was traded from the NY Giants to Havana's new football team when the reapers invaded. He led survivors on Cuba after its human leaders were killed. Since Havana is relatively undamaged, Thul is opening up the city as a trade hub.
Oriana Lawson sets up refugee housing among the ruins of Brisbane. Oriana's sister, Miranda, agrees to lend several ex-Cerberus servers to SRN.
Long range communication is reestablished with Alpha Centauri. It appears the Manswell colony has survived the reaper war.
Kaya is slightly taller and a little more built than the average Salarian. He has a few scars here and there on his teal skin, small mementos of when things got a little too close. He likes to wear dark armor, usually brown or black, with an equally as dark cloak. Preferably something that can match the environment if he can find it. When he's working, he usually keeps his hood up so as to hide his bright coloration.
When he's not working, Kaya likes to wear outfits that compliment his skin tone. Usually red, white, or yellow.
MOTIVATIONS AND OUTLOOK◢
Kaya believes everyone deserves a chance at a happy and peaceful life. He was raised and trained on the principle of protecting those who can't protect themselves. A little idealistic, but he still stands by it. That belief was why he took to the stars when the reapers invaded. The people of the galaxy needed more help than his little colony did. And with his skillset, Kaya had to be sure he was protecting people. If a sniper's bullet doesn't protect someone, then it is taking a life for evil. And Kaya can't live with that. He can't save someone by curing them of an illness or building a shelter. But he can track down those trapped under rubble or take down a marauder from a hundred yards away. What kind of a salarian would he be, if he didn't use those skills for good?
Erinle Laka Greengrove Voten Kaya was born on March 5th, 2171 on Erinle in the Greengrove district of the Laka Colony. From a young age, he was chosen to train under resident weapons experts to protect the colony from the many dangerous variations of wildlife on Erinle. He was separated from the other salarian children of the colony and placed in a 'pod'. A small unit of a few dozen young salarians who were to be trained, the same as him. Kaya's early years were filled with long hours of Salarian Union history, ruck marches, weapons ranges, and tracking techniques. Most importantly, his instructors, who the young salarians all viewed as father figures, instilled in him the importance of protecting the public. The virtue of peace and the type of warriors who kept that peace. Kaya burned to be that kind of warrior.
Though they didn't learn with the other children, the members of the pod were often allowed to go explore the colony in their off times. It was important that they knew what exactly they were protecting. Kaya always found himself the quiet one of the group. Preferring to observe rather than chime in. Though sometimes that rubbed some of the other kids wrong, all of his podmates knew that it was a good natured, thoughtful silence. Kaya's instructors took notice of this and shifted the focus of his training to long range marksmanship and recon. Kaya thrived in it. He enjoyed being out in the wilderness, tracking the movements of his homeworld's creatures. However, in order to complete his training, he had to face an unpleasant truth. A truth his superiors would force upon him.
It was 2181. He had just come of age. This was his first real assignment. A human mobster was stepping off of his private ship. He had a nasty reputation and the leaders of the colony knew he would only bring chaos and mayhem to Laka. Kaya had him in his scope. Crosshairs on his chest. He knew he wouldn't miss. Maybe in another scenario, he wouldn't even hesitate to pull the trigger. But Kaya felt his finger trembling when he saw the two kids hop off the shuttle and cling to their dad's legs. When a lovely young woman stepped off the ship with a smile. The bastard had brought his family with him. Kaya realized his team leader was telling him to take the shot over the comms. Kaya just kept staring at him. This bullet would protect the colony. It would protect the people he grew up with. Those who deserved a peaceful life.
He pulled the trigger. He barely felt the recoil. Kaya just watched as that gangster's lovely young wife was painted in his blood. They were a few hundred yards away. Kaya could still hear her scream. Mission accomplished.
Kaya sometimes still has nightmares about it. He continued to defend his colony. And with every sentient life he took, there was a story. A mother, a brother, a father, a daughter. People who relied on his targets went hungry or vanished into the wilds without even a peep. Sometimes he'd track them down. But by the time he found them, Erinle had already claimed them. It was not a gentle planet. Kaya started to turn to drink, dreading the next call that came in. Hoping it wasn't a person.
Then the reapers invaded. The path of their destruction was televised across the galaxy. Kaya had an epiphany. He could use his skills to help people. Really help them. Defend them from monsters and pull them from the ruins of their scorched homes. Maybe that would help with the nightmares. So he made preparations to leave Erinle. Of course the colony leadership tried to get him to stay. He wasn't obligated to them in anyway. He had been serving the colony since he was barely more than a hatchling. And he made damn sure to remind them of that. He hopped on a cargo freighter off world and followed the distress calls. For months he hopped across systems, stopping here and there to kill some reapers and pull a few people out of the fire. It was exhilarating. And although he was seeing the destruction of whole cities, planets, it felt like he was finally doing some real good. That was not a feeling he had experienced in years.
Suddenly, Kaya had begun hearing about mass requests for mercenaries and freelancers. Specifically from the alliance. After doing some digging he discovered it was for a final assault against the reapers that orbited Earth. They needed skilled fighters on the ground protecting civilians and allied troops. So, with some trepidation, Kaya accepted. Soon after he was being rocketed to Earth, his human pilot dodging reaper lasers and friendly missiles alike. The fighting on the ground was intense. Some of the worst combat and devastation Kaya had seen since this damn war started. But after hours and hours of relentless death and destruction the reapers just...collapsed. They won. The worst war the galaxy had ever seen was over.
And he was stranded in the sol system. Nothing else to do but make the most of it.
Alcoholic: Though he is trying to recover, Kaya still has a major drinking problem. He always carries a flask of something with him. It does relax him when things get tense. But it also makes him sloppy.
Lightweight: Like most salarians, Kaya is incredibly light when compared to other species. Not only that, his hand to hand skills are very limited. It would not take much to lay him out.
Tactical Cloak Incinerate First Aid Neural shock
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CRIMES◢
- Served as a Sniper with the Laka Colonial Defense Force from 2179-2186 - Operated as a search and rescue specialist across multiple systems during the Reaper War
RELATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS◢
- Former soldier of the LCDF.
(For group members and NPCs; fill after IC introduction)
"What part of 'I am krogan' seemed subtle to you?"
| Callsign “Door Crasher”
2.2 meters/ 7.2 feet | 180 kilos/ 397 pounds | 75
Urdnot Territory, Tuchanka
Krogan | Soldier
An impressively statured krogan, Karnoc is a powerful figure of above-average proportions and mass that serve him well as a shock trooper, physically dominating the battlefield and an absolute nightmare in close-quarters fighting. Other than his heavily-muscled frame and towering stature, he has a tan hide and dark grey crest that tapers off to a yellow. Under his crest a pair of piercing amber eyes that always seem to be darting about, looking for threats and challenges. No obvious scarring or markings are present in his frame due to the regeneration factor present with krogan.
Karnoc makes no effort to be subtle or subdued, he is a presence to be known wherever go goes. Heavy footfalls, a confident and boisterous attitude, and a ferocious determination make him impossible to miss, although behind the explosive exterior is a quick-thinking and introspective mind that has served him and his comrades well through a lifetime of war.
MOTIVATIONS AND OUTLOOK◢
Karnoc is motivated by a sense of pride in krogan potential and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles to better himself and his species. He sees the trials and challenges that himself and the krogan face as yet another Rite to overcome, and the difference between simply being born and overcoming the genophage and giant monsters is a trivial distinction; it proves an individual’s worth.
Karnoc believes in what the krogan are capable of under the guidance and leadership of krogan who have their best interests at heart and he believes for the krogan to thrive, they need to rise up to be equals to other species in the galaxy. To him, the genophage and the Krogan Rebellions were the result of his people being “uplifted” by manipulative aliens who never understood what they were dealing with and weaponized a people who were still struggling to find their own path. The Reaper War was a chance to kill off old grudges and bad blood and forge a new path for all people, and it is his determination to see that the krogan don’t make the same mistakes as before while ensuring that others learn to treat them with understanding and respect, or history will repeat itself in a galaxy that will not be ready for the repercussions.
Within a clutch of krogan eggs, the viability of a live-birth is exceptionally low; only about 1 in 2,000 eggs will hatch, and for a mother who had tried for years to produce an offspring, her fortunes finally changed. Among the dozen or so eggs in her latest clutch, one began to stir. With hopeful eyes upon it, a pair of amber eyes matching the mother broke free of its confinement, and the infant boy had passed his first Rite of Passage; the Rite of Life. His mother picked him up from the dead and invalid remains encased in the tombs of their shells, never to know Tuchanka’s sun and hardships. The first word he ever heard would be his name; Karnoc.
The young krogan was immediately thrust into a world where violence and survival were a way of life. Tuchanka was a planet scorched by nuclear hellfire, any signs of vegetation or peace were fleeting, but Karnoc was raised to know that his people were warriors, survivors, and that life was a constant hardship that you had to rise against. Those who withstood the challenges survived and became powerful, and those who did not perished. It was a fatalistic outlook shared by all krogan that reflected that they were a people on the decline; the krogan would be a brilliant flash of light before succumbing to the dark the way they were going, but none seemed willing to change their trajectory. Karnoc certainly wasn’t; all that mattered to him was bettering himself and focusing on each day’s trials than some lofty impossible dream of the future. After all, he had a Rite of Passage to survive.
Having assembled a krantt of trusted comrades who were also seeking to undergo their own Rite of Passage for Clan Urdnot, Karnoc prepared for a battle of proportions he could have scarcely prepared for. A thresher maw was a colossal creature capable of pulling a tomkah armoured fighting vehicle under the surface, quite a far cry from battling packs of varren or the klixen hordes that dotted Tuchanka’s landscape, and the Rite of Passage demanded a krogan survive five minutes battling the beast. It was the fight of a lifetime, fending off beasts attracted by the mechanical percussion of pistons that served to agitate and draw in a thresher maw, and when Karnoc was becoming convinced that it wasn’t going to show, it burst from the ground before him, taking a pair of varren that threatened to overwhelm him.
Bellowing a defiant war cry, the krantt unleashed hell into the serpent-liked monstrosity, visceral chunks of flesh and fluid being ripped from its massive frame with high-caliber munitions… for all the good it did. No matter how many shotguns were shot to overheating, how many heavy rifles began to misfire from near-constant fire, no matter how many grenades were tossed at the thresher maw, it barely seemed to notice the harm inflicted on it and by the time the Ritesmaster called the krogan off from the proving grounds, it felt like they had barely escaped with their lives. However, with damaged equipment and an assortment of wounds, including a mangled arm from a varren that had latched onto Karnoc while he was trying to fix a malfunction with his shotgun, the four krogan in the krantt emerged victorious as new members of Clan Urdnot. Fashioning the varren’s fangs into a necklace and painting his armour with paint mixed with the blood of the thresher maw that had covered Karnoc, the newly blooded warrior kept with him reminders of what he had risen above and what he would have to face.
It wasn’t long after that Karnoc found himself pulled into the mercenary life, following an Urdnot Battlemaster named Urgar who was looking for warriors to earn credits and infamy for their clan that simply wasn’t going to happen fighting other krogan clans. “Keep hitting a blade against a rock and it dulls, keep at it and it breaks. We krogan have broken so many blades on each other; we’re better than that.” Urgar explained. It resonated with Karnoc; despite his belief that right made right, it was impossible not to look upon the ruins on Tuchanka and diminishing numbers of their species with distain. The krogan had been heroes once upon a time to the galaxy, and instead of overcoming adversity, allowed themselves to grow into weak and squabbling savages on a dying world that seemed incapable of healing.
While most krogan perhaps rightfully held deep seated animosity towards the salarians and turians for their role in the genophage, Karnoc held a somewhat more philosophical view towards it; was it not just another Rite that the krogan had to pass? Nothing in life was meant to be easy; everything needed to be a challenge to overcome. Being a sole survivor of a clutch of eggs or undergoing any other rite was a dangerous and often fatal experience. Did the shamans of the tribes not subject themselves to physical and mental trials that pushed them to their very limits to earn their right to be the clans’ spiritual leaders? Karnoc saw no glory or purpose in spilling the blood of other krogan for scraps. To him, fighting alongside a krantt to defeat an enemy was an honour. His Rite of Passage would have been impossible to survive alone, and the deafening silence of his unborn brothers and sisters never was far from his mind. When the krogan fought the rachni, they were heroes that the galaxy heralded. Too many krogan brooded over what was done to the species instead of uniting to overcome it and their enemies.
Karnoc would be better. It was time for the ideas of the old battlemasters to die with their stubbornness; he would lead by example. For decades, Karnoc fought in Urgar’s mercenary band, even being named to Urgar’s personal krantt. The band fought pirates and slavers, protected fringe colonies, protected VIPs, and clashed with other mercenary bands. For each new enemy faced, Karnoc went through a Rite of Firsts, and he would incorporate a part of that enemy into his armour or weapons, adding beasts’ teeth and claws to his necklace, welding dog tags to his pauldrons, and the like. If a better piece of technology came into his possession, he would incorporate it into his equipment, although his krogan-manufactured firearms still were his primary weapons. Over the years, Karnoc had begun to earn a reputation distinct from Urgar, he was seen as a reliable and honourable warrior, albeit one capable of shocking brutality if need be.
When humanity was discovered in 2157CE, Karnoc recalled he was in a bar on a station out in volus space that seemed positively abuzz with equal parts fear and excitement about the new first contact in centuries that their turian benefactors were off to war with. Although, “war” seemed to be an overly generous way to describe the conflict; Karnoc felt like he barely had time to finish one of several rounds of drinks before the ceasefire was called, although it was in reality a conflict that lasted about a month. Certainly not enough time to get riled up over, let alone travel the expanse of space to go take part in. Karnoc watched humanity’s rapid progression with equal parts interest and envy; they were the Citadel’s new favorite pets that would be tossed down like the krogan when their ambition outran their rope. When tensions flared between humans and batarians, Karnoc watched on as the batarians whined and left the Citadel and subsequently attacked human colonies, only serving to further humanity’s interests. They were an interesting people; they seemed to have a knack of knowing when to push and when to restrain themselves to their benefit. The krogan could have learned a thing or two from humanity following the Rachni Wars, Karnoc decided. Restraint was something krogan lacked, and clearly foresight.
And besides, the humans seemed to really annoy the turians. That was reason enough to like them.
After the geth attack on the Citadel, Karnoc found a newfound purpose in the form of Urdnot Wrex leading the clan. He spoke of reconciliation and alliances with the various krogan clans, focusing on strengthening the species and actually doing something about managing the genophage. Karnoc returned to Tuchanka and pledged himself to Wrex’s reforms, enforcing them with force when need be.
It wasn’t long after that the Reaper invasion took the galaxy by storm and for Karnoc, it felt like it was the ultimate Rite that had no name; this war would determine the fate of every single living soul in the galaxy. It felt like that old blood feuds were largely forgotten in the face of the unfathomable foe they faced. When Karnoc heard that turians would be coming into an alliance with the krogan in exchange for a cure for the genophage, brokered by Commander Shepard, the Primarch of Palavan, and Urdnot Wrex himself, he was skeptical at best, and he’d believe it when he seen it.
Perhaps it was seeing turian fighters in the skies above Tuchanka raining munitions into towering Reaper monstrosities that began to give Karnoc pause, at least enough to lead search parties to rescue downed pilots from Reapers. Perhaps it was seeing Kalros take down a Reaper using the same sorts of pistons that drew his own thresher maw during his Rite of Passage that suggested that unity was possible. However, it was when the cure for the genophage emerged from the Shroud, a climate control tower, that Karnoc felt something that the krogan were missing as a people long before even his ancestors walked Tuchanka’s surface; hope. The horrors of the genophage was undone, and its perpetrators atoned for it. Karnoc had survived what he would call the Rite of Redemption. With renewed vigor and determination, Karnoc was among the first of the krogan to step foot on Palavan to fight alongside the turians against the Reapers, an alliance that proved to be surprisingly effective.
Even Karnoc had to admit that it was preferable to not have experienced what it was like on the receiving end of turian firepower like his ancestors had during the Krogan Rebellions, and he admired their discipline and courage to face overwhelming odds with superior training and tactics that never waned even as entire units were wiped out. The turians never complained that their homeworld was being destroyed; it was simply another war to fight no matter the cost. This commitment to total war and unshakable resolve endeared the turians to Karnoc, and he even befriended a young Lieutenant named Regalus over the course of the war, saving one another’s lives on a number of occasions and taking a genuine interest in each other’s lives and dreams. It was perhaps the first time Karnoc had befriended a member of another species, and was able to see the person despite all of that.
As the war raged on and losses mounted, Karnoc found pride in this galactic coalition. Krogan were honoured companions in battles, and they were becoming the heroes they were in the Rachni Wars in the galaxy’s eyes. As the war came to its conclusion on Earth, Karnoc landed upon the human homeworld as a liberator, not as a conqueror and crushed Reaper forces with his new krantt. As the Crucible fired and the Reapers crumbled before his eyes, Karnoc felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. The greatest enemy the krogan had ever faced had been vanquished and under Urdnot Wrex’s leadership, the krogan had reclaimed their place as galactic saviours and heroes. Only one problem remained, however.
How the hell was he getting back home?
Fear of Heights Susceptible to Biotics Stealth is “optional”
Fortification Adrenalin Rush Ballistic Blades Incendiary Ammo Concussive Shot
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CRIMES◢
Rite of Life Several Rite of Firsts Rite of Redemption Liberation of Palaven Liberation of Earth
Decades of mercenary work, sometimes falling on the side of what would be considered illegal in Citadel space.
Birthplace: Berlin, Earth Birth date: February 27th, 2150 CE
Race: Human Class: Vanguard
Tall, sturdy, and cybernetically-enhanced, Sig is built to take as much of a beating as he can deliver. His face has been smashed apart and reconstructed half a dozen times, and even the best docs would struggle to work with the surviving material. Off-color skin grafts sit alongside scars aplenty. A crooked nose saddles between two glowing cybernetic eyes. His hair's going grey before he's even turned forty, and his hairline's already begun to recede. Just below the neck is a canvas of prosthetics, old wounds and bad ink. In short: he's an ugly motherfucker.
He dresses as poorly as he looks, too, preferring ratty military surplus with all function and no form. The only decent piece in his collection is his armor, and keeping it nice and shiny is regulation.
MOTIVATIONS AND OUTLOOK◢
The war gave Bauer something he'd never had: perspective. For his whole life he'd only ever looked out for himself. Afterall, nobody else was going to. He'd only ever been a tool to be used and discarded or a rival to be put in the dirt; why would he treat anyone else any different? People were selfish. They were cruel. Then came the war, and he saw some of the worst scum in the galaxy pulling families from collapsed building, patching up injured old men and comforting frightened children. Fragile as people turned out to be, wicked as they could be, they were capable of tremendous good, too. The road to atonement was long and steep, but it was climb he was willing to undertake.
John Siegfried Bauer was the second child of John and Ariel Bauer, a pair of starship maintenance technicians. An engine leak at the space port had exposed Ariel and her unborn child to Element Zero, resulting in two things: John Jr developing biotic abilities as a pre-teen, and Ariel contracting terminal cancer. Her death broke her husband, leaving him all-too vulnerable when agents of Conatix Industries showed up at his door 'requesting' to take his son away for his own safety. Dad had no fight left in him and let the boy go.
They carted him off to Gagarin Station, an isolated outpost at the edge of the Sol system, to participate in the 'BAaT' program: Biotic Acclimation and Temperance Training. Or, as the kids liked to call it, Brain Camp. It was a cruel, grueling environment where children were treated as weapons to be honed rather than people. It broke many of them, even killed a few. Those that survived the ordeal would have to live with the unstable, pain-inducing implants the program had forced on them. Sig was only nineteen when BAaT shutdown. With no home worth going back to, he hitched a ride on the first boat out of system.
Fate found him wandering the stars not long after. A cargo freighter he was working on came under attack by Eclipse mercenaries. They boarded the vessel and made quick work of its few marines, rounding up its occupants in the lower holds until they identified their target. Sig made the stupid decision to attack them instead of going quietly, lashing out with biotic power and nearly blowing a hole in the side of the ship. That display of violence impressed the boarding party's leader, Captain Baines, enough to keep her from executing him- instead offering him a place on her crew. He accepted.
Sigma fought under Eclipse for the next eighteen years. He took part in the Skyllian Blitz in 2176, receiving grievous injuries that required extensive cybernetic augmentation to fix. He was a hitman on Omega, smuggled Prothean artifacts out of the Attican Traverse, kidnapped dignitaries on the Citadel; he stole starships, sabotaged planetary defenses, dueled krogan bounty hunters on distant moons. Sigma was the gun and Eclipse was his wielder, and for the longest time he didn't give two shits about what he was asked to do. He owed this company his life for giving him a chance all those years ago- he'd do anything they asked of him.
The Reapers changed all that. They descended on the Milky Way in a fury, butchering whole worlds. Countless people were lost in indiscriminate culling: not a single soul was spared. It was madness. He never understood the true depths of evil until he witnessed the desolation of the batarian colonies. Numerous mercenary companies were hired by what was left of the Hedgemony to fill in for its decimated military: they performed everything from search and rescue to escort duty for refugees to emergency triage. They fought running battles against the advancing Reaper fleets, hoping to buy enough time for the colonies to evacuate as many people as they could. Sig could never put to words how those days changed him. He began to reflect.
Batarian civilization was shattered in less than a week. Eclipse retreated from their cluster, scattering to lick their wounds and decide what to do next. One truth became readily apparent: no one could sit out this fight; not Eclipse, and not Sig. His crew joined in on the massive, multi-species coalition set to fight the Reapers. He found himself shipped across the galaxy, fighting shoulder to shoulder with many of his worst enemies from his previous life. The war effort brought him back home. Besieged earth, having suffered long under Reaper occupation, would be the site of the final battle for the Milky Way.
Victory came at a high cost. Earth was in ruins, the survivors were divided and scattered, and loss of the relay had left the system totally isolated from outside help. Sig has spent the last month just trying to survive the harsh conditions, offering a helping hand wherever he could. The hope is to reconnect with the rest of the Eclipse on Earth and find out what their plan is, but thus far he's been unsuccessful.
It seems he's on his own again.
An overwhelming guilt complex Suffers from biotic-induced night terrors and acute migraines tech illiterate poor people skills
Biotic Charge Shockwave Barrier Warp
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CRIMES◢
John Siegfried Bauer has been charged with numerous accounts of: piracy, smuggling, kidnapping, murder and operating a shuttle without a license. He is wanted across several jurisdictions. Sigma has a reputation in the underworld for shooting first and forgetting to ask questions; yet paradoxical to his brutality he's been known to reject contracts on 'moral grounds,' refusing to go after underage, unarmed or otherwise 'innocent' targets. Those that've mocked him for his supposed weakness have been met with a headbutt to the nose or worse.
RELATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS◢
Longtime member of Eclipse, a 'private security organization' Subordinate to Captain Baines Former BAaT student Estranged son of John Bauer Sr
ur all stinky poopy haha
CREDITS & VALUABLES◢ 700 credits
OUTFIT◢ Ariake's Medium 'Mercenary' Armor (Eclipse Variant) A heavy cloak
The young Asari commando has feminine facial features, with high cheekbones and full lips. Her eyes are a striking shade, near violet in their coloration. This gives Keslia an especially piercing gaze. She has a set of red facial markings above her eyes and dotting the sides of her head. Her figure is sleek and slim, more akin to a runner's body than a weight lifter's. She does have wiry muscle definition from constant exercise and field combat. Her bust is on the smaller side, while her hips are somewhat shapely. She's lacking in any scarring on her face, though on her body is a different tale. Several scars mark her complexion, mostly notably several healed cuts on her right ribcage and left shoulder. Another distinguishable mark is a healed burn wound above her left breast. She possesses no tattoos or piercings.
MOTIVATIONS AND OUTLOOK◢
Keslia is a survivor, like many on the battlefields across the galaxy she has seen the true horrors of war. Her homeworld demolished and obliterated, family slaughtered, friends cut down before her eyes and her people turned into Reaper engineered freaks. She is often haunted by recent visions of the war, insomnia a too frequent enemy for the young Asari. As she is often unable to fall asleep at night due to haunting night terrors of the battles lost. Its evident by peering into her eyes that she is tormented by the past, as many are, but her own internal conflicts strike painfully deep. She does not speak of the things that haunt her, keeping it pent up out of fear of being judged or seen as weak. In her worst moments thoughts of self destruction ripple their way into her thoughts, beckoning to take her own life and end the internal suffering that refuses to leave her. She does her best to beat back all of this spiraling negativity with some hope for the future, but with the current state of life around her she is beginning to question if such hope is even worth keeping.
Her exterior is cold and unflinching, another bit brought on by the demons which haunt her inside. She rarely begins conversations, nor answers anything beyond the most simple, concise of wordings. Keslia finds herself shorter tempered than before, if met with idiocy or incompetence its not beyond her to lash out in frustration. Inner pressures boiling over. Though most the time she is more unemotional than anything else, finding it difficult to put much care in many things in her life. She rarely smiles or laughs, but when she does its very noticeable. The biotic flinches and cringes at physical touch, often keeping her space more evident from people than others. In social situations she'll often push to withdraw herself from them. She is not a cruel person though, simply so battered by horrors that they've essentially broken her. She does hold care in her heart for others, but most of those she cared for are either dead or missing from her life. She has a soft spot for children in her heart, as well as animals. Lia has been so stricken by tragedy that she finds it incredibly difficult to even think of opening up to others, or trying to trust people. She'd be endlessly terrified they too would die or disappear, then blame herself.
The Asari is chiefly motivated by returning to her homeworld and helping her people. If it were her choice the most important decision would be to fix the relays, allowing her and her people to return home as well as the other races. Keslia holds little regard for Earth, and little care for the Citadel. She never spent much time on the space station and sees the human homeworld as utterly alien and primitive compared to Thessia.
Keslia was born on the Asari homeworld of Thessia, the youngest of three sisters. Her father was Deius Fauslius, a proud Turian soldier. Her mother, Miarlia was a nurse when she met Deius. The two settled down together on Thessia and had three children, Riena, Vaedra and Keslia. Lia's childhood was not that out of the ordinary from other Asari, her family was comfortably middle class and she was a shy, but sweet young girl. Her father was a strict, but caring parent to his and Miarlia's daughters. A fiesty, devoted warrior in his younger years this seemed to rub off more on Keslia's two older sisters than the youngest child. Nevertheless he never lacked in showering Keslia with fatherly love. Lia would have never guessed she would end up one day taking up arms like her father did in his youth. Her mind seemed to be shifted towards a more peaceful future. Deius would pass away peacefully while Keslia was in her sixties, the tough Turian given a proper military funeral. Their father's passing would affect each of the daughters deeply, and be the catalyst for Keslia's decision to become an Asari commando, to make her father proud from beyond the grave. A shocking decision to her family considering her docile nature.
Still early in her maidenhood the young Lia was thrown into a new world of intense Asari military life. To become a proficient commando an Asari has to dedicate decades to training both the mind and body. She was separated from her family for twenty five years, a microcosm in the long lived race's lifespan but still a difficult adjustment. Nevertheless Keslia refused to show any weakness or allow herself to fail, even as she screamed at endlessly and run until she collapsed on the ground in a heap. She had dedicated herself to this, to making her father proud and continuing the proud military legacy which he'd always spoken so fondly of. She was molded from a gentle minded young lady into a fearsome warrior, devoting countless hours to perfecting the Asari martial arts and her biotic powers. Keslia was not the most physically imposing fighter, so extra emphasis was placed on her biotics. She couldn't blast enemies away with a shotgun but she could send them flying with her powers.
Once her training was deemed complete and Keslia passed the rigorous testing she was officially deemed worthy of bearing the title of Asari commando. Now a changed woman, she felt an intense wave of accomplishment overflowing her. Lia could feel her father smiling down upon her, but her duty had only just begun. She would then be sent right into field work, paired with a small group of four other commandos serving the Asari Republics. Her early combat operations often pit her against the truly vile scum of the galaxy such as slavers, raiders and terrorists. Field work was a far cry from the intense training but she fought with sheer determination. Her squadmates became like family to her, as they often tackled intensely complex situation which threw them against larger forces. The backbone of the Asari commandos was guerilla warfare, highly detailed tactics which allowed them to take down greater numbers with precision. For decades she did this in various worlds across the galaxy, striking against the wretched wherever command sent them. When one of Lia's fellow huntresses fell in battle she let herself cry for the first time since her father's death, as the wave of emotion overcame her and shook her to the core she only came out with deeper resolve.
The Reaper War is when things once more changed for the hardened commando. The rogue spectre Saren's betrayal sent shockwaves through the galaxy, as did his assault on the Citadel. The revered Asari Matriarch Benezia aligning herself with the turian sent further rattles through the Asari Republic. Keslia's unit had been far from the Citadel when the conflict occured, still focused on wiping out criminal forces which stood against the Asari. As the Reapers arrived to the galaxy her squad's missions changed drastically. The Reapers were a foe unlike any other opponent in the galaxy. The towering war machines which could obliterate entire cities and take on entire fleets, the sound of their laser cannons firing echoing within her mind on repeat. Even more terrifying may have been their reanimated ground forces which required a far different approach than a 'living' target. The twisted, horrific monstrosities were far more frightening to face down than any outlaw in past operations. Keslia and her commando unit were recalled to Thessia, a particularly personal mission for many Asari as their home planet was besieged by the Reaper forces.
The image of the landscape of her homeworld forever changed by the Reaper onslaught was burnt into her brain. Once towering skyscrapers brought to the ground in rubble, corpses lining seemingly every inch of the city streets, the forests and plains ablaze in flames as the horrifying machines assault did not spare those on the outskirts. It became near impossible for Keslia to even sleep, shaken awake with night terrors as the war invaded her subconscious. For some time her squad operated on the besieged world, often disconnected from the broader Asari military as they executed hit and run missions against the enemy forces. These included raids on Reaper processing centers, where civilians were detained before horrifically turned into husks. No matter how many of these operations here team undertook they never seemed to be doing enough.
The Reapers were unlike any enemy, their ground forces did not require sleep or eating, they had no concern for their own safety and were unaffected by mounting allied loses. They simply marched on forward slaughtering any who came in their path. She'd witnessed horrors which only seemed to grow worse with each passing day. If not for her intense training and psychological condition it was certain she would have broken and given up all hope of fighting the foe. Her squad's tactics grew more desperate, often resulting in explosive assaults. Her 'sisters' fell more and more around her, new faces rotated in often did not last long either. The entire conflict was only the start of Keslia's internal terrors.
During her time in this battle she had received little information regarding the whereabouts of her mother and two older sisters. The Reapers were eerily effective at cutting off communications and tearing apart families. Though Keslia did later receive word that her mother and Vaedra were slain by Reaper forces, her older sister trying to protect their mother as the enemy chased them through the streets. These two deaths simply piled on the harrowing depression ripping at Keslia's soul. She'd lost so many friends and family that she'd started to become numb to it all. Meanwhile, the whereabouts of her eldest sister, Riena were still unknown. Riena had gone on to become a doctor, likely on an Asari world somewhere helping the injured, beaten masses. She made a vow to link back up with her, when this war ended. Though she questioned if it truly ever would end or if she would survive long enough to witness an end.
As the situation on Thessia grew more and more hopeless Keslia and her team were pulled from the Asari homeworld. Much to the dismay of her and her fellow commandos. They wanted to keep fighting to save their home, instead their focus shifted towards the human homeworld of Earth, the unlikely center of the war. Word spread of the Crucible's creation, a tool which was said to defeat the Reapers and bring an end to the galaxy spanning conflict. Lia truthfully believed such a thing was impossible, so beaten and bruised by it all. Her squad's focus on Earth was similar to that on Thessia, guerilla operations against Reaper held centers. She held no care for the human homeworld yet fought without question in hopes of ending the war.
Upon the Crucible's activation the Asari huntress found herself stranded in the Sol system alongside many of her kind. The relay had been severely damaged by the firing of the Crucible. They were essentially stuck on the devastated human homeworld, refugees of the final battle of the war. She has spent much of the month since then trying to collect her mind and compose her frantic, fleeting sanity. A wave of relief had overcome her when the war finally ended, but an even more intense wave of unknowing concern had rippled through her. She had no way to return home.
Haunted and scarred by the war, riddled with trauma and pain.
Depressed, at times suicidal.
Cold, unfriendly outward personality.
Not elite with firearms, she is not a terrible shot but is lacking compared to her biotic talents.
Less of a team player than before, chiefly concerned with returning to her homeworld.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CRIMES◢
Keslia is a distinguished Asari commando, having served in this capacity for several decades. She has a very long list of successful operations and missions against different enemy forces. Her most distinguishing efforts being her actions taken against rogue terrorist groups, planetary raiders, intergalactic criminals and slaver bands. The exact details of these pre-Reaper war operations are frequently classified. Her fierce efforts during the Reaper war are also of note, taking part in strike operations against Reaper forces on numerous occasions.
RELATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS◢
Active duty Asari Commando, within the Asari Republics' military
Matriarch Lidanya - Current Asari leader
Giassu M'talyt - fellow Asari huntress and longtime squadmate
(For group members and NPCs; fill after IC introduction)
CREDITS & VALUABLES◢ 2000 credits
OUTFIT◢ The Asari is most frequently seen in her commando battle uniform, a lightweight variant of the distinctive dark colored armor which provides ample mobility and flexibility. The armor is marked with signs of wear and tear, scoffs and dents dot parts of it. Though none of these markings impact its ability to provide defense for the asari, they do serve as keen reminders of the brutal Reaper war. When relaxing she'll often opt for simple t shirts and sweatpants.
WEAPON & TOOLS◢
M-9 Tempest Sub-machine Gun
M-5 Phalanx Heavy Pistol
5 Frag grenades
Some food rations and water
ID & DOCUMENTS◢ She has her official military documentation, though doesn't carry it on herself at all times
BAGS & CONTAINERS◢ The Asari huntress travels light, the only thing she really carries is a sturdy bag with clothes and personal items.
Janiri looks strong. Rather than the lithe and agile forms of your average Asari, a life of farm labor without the use of biotics and technology have made her stout and broad with hands that are rough and covered in callouses. There is a knot of scar tissue on the back of her neck where her neck ends and her shoulders begin.
This starkly contrasts with Janiri's timid demeanor. She avoids meeting people's eyes and keeps herself hunched to make herself look smaller. She steps quietly, not from any skill in stealth but from fear of attracting attention. She's fidgety, her hands constantly messing with something. Whenever someone's voice is raised unexpectedly, particularly towards her, she flinches. When voices are raised, whether they are against her or not, she seems to shrink into herself. She pointedly does her best to keep as much distance as possible between her and anyone she may be working with, growing uncomfortable if the need arises for her to be in close proximity with another.
MOTIVATIONS AND OUTLOOK◢
Janiri is driven by the need of safety. Safety from persecution. Safety from harm. Safety from causing harm to others. She just wants to live her life, safely away from everyone, and not have to constantly look over her shoulder wondering if the asari government is closing in on her, if something is getting ready to attack her, or if she might hurt someone. That was the whole reason for her coming to Sol in the first place. She figured it was the last place the asari government would look for her when they were doing a headcount for who they had lost. Now she's stuck here with everyone else, and a whole fleet of asari military. A fact that makes her incredibly nervous.
While she joined the SRN primarily out of a need to keep moving for her own reassurance, Janiri also has a strong need to help people. Partially out of the community values her family instilled in her over a century ago, and partially out of a need to prove that she isn't the monster that she has been treated as. Whether its to herself, the gods, or the universe at large is something she can't answer. She just needs to prove it.
Janiri strives to stay positive and optimistic, a lesson her parents taught her. Janiri clings to this lessons as a precious memory. "If you get caught in the rain, what good will getting upset do you? You'll still be wet! Just upset, wet, and having done nothing to fix the situation."
She's a very passive and timid person, tending to go with whatever she's told to do and just letting things happen unless under extreme circumstances. It is rare that she'll stand up for herself.
She's a kind and gentle person, speaking quietly and always willing to help at the drop of a hat.
Beneath all of her other wants, Janiri wants to experience having a close community again. She wants to experience having a family again, even if they aren't related to her by blood. Its been decades since she was taken from her family, and though she tries as hard as she can to cling to those cherished memories, they're beginning to slip away and become fuzzy. She's terrified that she'll forget them entirely, and forget what its like to be wanted by the people around you.
Janiri wants to be a farmer.
It's all she ever wanted to be. It's all her family has ever done, for thousands of years. Her parents were farmers, their parents were farmers, and their parents before them were farmers. To say that it is a family tradition is almost an understatement. It's all her family has ever done, and it's all that she wants to go back to. The simple days of caring for animals and plants and worrying about nothing else.
She was born on Thessia to a family of farmers on the holy day of Janiris. Her parents took they day of her birth as an obvious sign that she was blessed by the god of agriculture and named her after the god. A daughter of farmers being blessed by the god of agriculture was a fortuitous sign and they did everything the could to raise her to be worthy of that namesake. To have a strong respect for the land and animals under their care. To be honest and hard working. To be kind and friendly to your neighbors. To be there whenever people needed you, and to help freely. They taught her the ins and outs of farming, and all the tricks they had learned over thousands of years of agricultural experience. For forty years this was the only life she ever knew. A simple life of maintaining and caring for the land and animals under their care, and helping those around her when they needed it.
For those four decades, her schedule rarely varied. Get up early, feed and examine the animals before heading to the fields with her parents. Go to school in the middle of the day, finish the day by feeding and taking care of the animals. Go to bed early after a family dinner and repeat for the next day. It was simple, and she enjoyed it a great deal.
There was a joke amongst her family that the Danyas were wired differently when the gods made them than all other asari. Whereas other asari want to move about, leave the community, or even go off planet when their Maiden stage hits the Danyas simply stay home. When her Maiden stage hit, Janiri was no different. Rather than getting wanderlust and chaffing at the idea of doing the same thing in the same place for the rest of her life, Jan looked forward to that. She looked forward to eventually taking over and expanding her parent's farm, adding new crops and animals to it. She had no desire to go to the bigger cities of Thessia, or even off-planet at all. She had everything she needed right here, and no desire to see what else there might be.
Of course, she still had the same interests in potential partners that came with puberty. In particular another farmer's daughter named Morelle caught her eye, and she caught Morelle's eye. Jan had already had a conversation with her parents about sex, melding, and how to be safe while doing both for her own sake and her partner's sake. With the awkward confidence and shyness of the young, they began to court one another.
It is the single biggest regret of Janiri's life.
After much fumbling, when they finally did achieve melding it all went horribly wrong. Instead of the joined euphoria of two becoming one, the moment was interrupted by a agonized scream from Morelle. Ripped out of her own melding, Janiri came to the sight of Morelle lying on the ground in an apparent seizure. Panicking and terrified, Janiri did the only thing she could think to do: she ran to her parents for help.
With her parents help, Janiri was able to get Morelle to the hospital and calm herself. She was able to tell the doctors exactly what had happened. The carefully controlled looks on their faces didn't strike her as particularly unusual at the time. After all Morelle was laying unconscious in the hospital bed for an unknown reason, surely they didn't want to cause undue panic or guilt. Within an hour they had secluded her from her parents for testing. Within three they got the results back, and she was kept from her parents. She could hear both of them crying and arguing with the doctors outside the door, but they wouldn't let her out. It was another two hours before one of the doctors walked back in with two armed (Armed? Why were they armed?) guards.
The doctor very carefully, like she was talking to a wild animal, explained that Janiri was on the Ardat-Yakshi spectrum. For a moment, Janiri couldn't hear anything other than the blood rushing in her ears. An Ardat-Yakshi? A demon of the night winds? Those were myths! That wasn't possible! And even if it were, she was blessed by her namesake. Surely something like that couldn't happen to her! When she started listening again, the doctor was explaining that she was lucky (Lucky? She didn't feel lucky. She felt cursed. Her world was falling apart around her.) as she was only barely on the spectrum. Morelle would live (a fact for which Janiri fervently thanked Alune), and may even fully recover. Janiri herself, however, would have to go with the commandos next to her.
Janiri began to step back, fear beginning to overwhelm her again. She didn't want to go with them. She wanted to go home. The doctor tried to talk to her, to tell her she couldn't go home but Janiri ignored her. Where were her parents? She wanted to see them. She needed to see them. This was a mistake, all a big mistake. It had to be. Her protestations and pleas fell on deaf ears as the commandos stepped forward. Before she could even put up a fight, they had her pinned against the wall with biotics and a sedative injected into her. The last thing she saw was the disgust on the face of the commandos.
When Janiri awoke, she was in a small one bedroom apartment. The base of her neck ached, and she rubbed it as she stood and examined the apartment she was in. It was utilitarian and comfortable, but she didn't recognize it. This wasn't home. She stumbled to her feet and headed to the solitary door that she saw. It wouldn't open when she tried the handle. Panic began to fill her as she tried it again. It was locked. She began to call out, beating upon the door, for someone to let her out. This continued for what seemed like hours, until the door was opened and she fell forward into another asari. Before she could even get a word out, she was unceremoniously shoved back into the apartment.
She was told, in no uncertain terms, that she was to stop such a racket until role call in the morning and if she kept up such a racket they would give her another shot of sedative. Panicking, but more afraid of being sedated again, Janiri bit her tongue. The other asari shot her a contemptuous look, and then closed and locked the door once again. It was her first interaction with Zandra, the asari who would be assigned to guard her, but it would not be her last.
When the morning came after several hours (during which, Janiri investigated the apartment at least three times over, finding nothing but a computer to give her any indication that time was passing), Janiri almost sprinted out of the door as it opened, being stopped only by the same asari from before. She was instructed to step out carefully and walk with the others. The Disciple in her hands made it all too easy for Janiri to comply. She joined a quiet line of other asari and was lead out onto the mostly familiar sight of farmland. This one was different than her parents' farm, however. Rather than the modern and welcoming farm she was used to, they were in an almost archaic farm with high towers and fences off in the distance. They were surrounded by guards, each armed and staring them down. Another asari stood atop steps leading to a building opposite the one they had come out of.
After a few moments of staring at them, the asari atop the stairs began to speak. They were lucky (there's that word again. Janiri was certain that someone lucky wouldn't be there at all) that they were barely on the Ardat-Yakshi spectrum. Any higher and they would have been placed into prisons or sanitaria. Because of their fortune, they were allowed to repay society for their transgressions (what transgressions? She hadn't done anything!) with honest labor without the aid of machines. They were too work all day, and then return to their apartments and be locked in there for the night. They were also warned not to attempt to flee. Not only would the guards and fence stop them, even if they did manage to escape they would be tracked down by the trackers embedded in the base of the necks.
The Warden, as Janiri began calling her, then dictated them to their work. They went and, as Janiri found out, 'honest labor' meant unnecessarily physical labor. They were allowed almost no technology or biotics to aid their work on the farm. Janiri's first day was brutal. She quickly learned that no talking with the other Ardat-Yakshi was allowed, and that they were expected to work silently. The day passed in an exhausting blur until they were allowed to head back into their apartments.
Despite her exhaustion, Janiri got on the computer and began to search the internet to see if she could find out what had happened to Morelle. This was her first realization that she was dealing with a side of the powerful asari government that most never knew existed. The government that used its power to kidnap her from her family, ensure their silence, put her in a secluded government work program, chip her like an animal, and then wipe her existence from the face of Thessia.
When she finally found a news report about Morelle, it wasn't about how the girl was recovering. It was about how she was the only survivor of a farming accident that took the life of Janiri Danya.
Dumbfounded, Janiri read the article again. Then she desperately searched for her name. It was the same thing every time it popped up. She was dead to the rest of the world. Killed in a farm accident. She signed into her email and tried to send a message to her parents. A notification popped up telling her that her email had been sent to the Warden's office for review. She tried all of her previous social media accounts. She was locked out of all of them. The asari government had taken her from her home, killed her to the world, and was now ensuring that she couldn't contact the rest of the universe without their explicit approval.
It only got worse as Janiri's first month came and went. She found out quickly that she was being watched in the apartment, as when she attempted to continue the biotic training her school had started Zandra's voice came from seemingly nowhere to inform her to stop or that she would be punished. They gave her a strict ration of food for the month. All of her online activity was monitored, and if she attempted to send anything that wasn't preapproved the VI that monitored the whole system would flag it, stop it, and send it to the warden for approval. Even on instant messaging, the VI quickly scanned and determined if what she sent was a violation of any rules.
The asari government was deeply ashamed of the existence of Ardat-Yakshi, and they were going to make sure that no one knew about them who didn't have to.
Janiri and her fellow prisoners were, surprisingly, paid for their work. It was a paltry amount, but it was credits nonetheless. Out of a guilty conscience Janiri ensured that half of her earned credits were sent to Morelle and Morelle's family every time they were paid. Janiri had been allowed to know that the Morelle lived, but would never fully recover.
They were even allowed to make authorized purchases for themselves and their apartments, so long as it was ran by the warden first. Most of Janiri's initial requests were denied. She would not be allowed a pet for surely she would meld with and absorb its strength (an idea that Janiri visibly recoiled at). She would not be allowed to buy anything that could be useful in a fight (so no asari dance training videos, no omni-tools, etc etc). She was only allowed to order specific parts and schematics once the warden had confirmed that they couldn't be used to craft some weapon (and several times were rejected anyway).
The apartments weren't, technically speaking, prison cells. They were nicer than that, and Janiri and her fellow Ardat-Yakshi were able to customize the apartments to their liking. But it was hard to forget that the doors were always locked at night, and that they were under constant surveillance.
As the first month passed into the next seventy years, Janiri settled into a routine. She would work all day in near total silence, collecting and loading the produce onto ships for transport to the city, herding and feeding the animals, giving them medicine, whatever she was told to do. When she was finished, she would go back to her apartment and then get on the extranet to escape. She would research all there was to know about the agriculture of Thessia. When she got bored of that, it was the agriculture of Palaven. Then the agriculture of Sur'Kesh. Then Earth. Then Tuchanka. So on, so forth. Each planet provided its own wealth of flora and fauna for her to research and study. Some, like Earth and Palaven, she studied in depth. Others, like Sur'Kesh and Tuchanka, she only got the most well known animals from. When it became clear that the Warden would make them do without the help of any machines that broke, Janiri began to study how to repair machinery of all kinds. She would practice building things in her room, making small mechs and drones that did useless things for her entertainment.
To help with the fact that she wasn't getting any socialization from those around her Janiri, with the help of the extranet, designed a very simple VI that she installed into a small hologram on her desk. All it did was talk to her and respond to basic commands with jokes or random facts from the extranet. It wasn't much, but it helped.
By far the thing she looked forward to most when joining the extranet was interacting with people all over it. She had several anonymous accounts that she accrued a wide network of similarly anonymous friends from. She still had to be very careful with what she shared and said, but as long as she didn't reveal anything that the asari government didn't want her to reveal she was good to go. It was her only positive interaction with anyone over those seventy years, as she wasn't allowed to talk to the asari she worked with and Zandra, the guard whom she had the most experience with, reacted with contempt to every attempt Janiri made at conversation.
The extranet was the lens through which Janiri viewed the galaxy and any exciting event that happened within it. When the humans and turians clashed, she saw leaked helmet footage from the battles. When the batarians were getting their noses bloodied by the same humans, she was able to cheer on humanity through her chats. When Shepard was named the first human Specter and chasing down a rogue Specter in Saren, she was able to follow his movements through extranet rumors and videos. Talking about all of these things and countless other smaller things that happened in the galaxy with all of her online friends helped keep Janiri sane. It helped her deal with the sad thing her life had become.
Like with the rest of the galaxy, Janiri's life changed completely when the Reapers appeared. At first it was only the news reports that they were coming, that batarian space had been completely taken over. But then they hit Earth. Then Palaven. Then friends she had made over the extranet began to disappear. One day they would be online, discussing the threat that hung over them all or actively avoiding discussing it, and then they would never sign back on again. With a speed that terrified her, the majority of the friends Janiri had made went silent. Within three months she heard the news that she had been dreading. The Reapers were heading for Thessia.
The planetary defenses of Thessia would slow them down, but not stop them completely. Everyone knew that. If Palaven was being ravaged right now, what hope did Thessia's weaker defenses have of stopping them at all? The asari government reacted by consolidating all their forces onto major population centers. This meant even their small work farm had its numbers of guards cut drastically down. Where there was once dozens of guards to watch over them, now there was only Zandra and one other. Even the Warden had been recalled to the main cities. They were obviously banking on the idea that Janiri and her fellows would continue to be docile.
After a few days of reading reports of the Reapers' relentless advance towards Thessia, Janiri came to a decision. She wasn't going to die on this pitiful excuse for a farm. She wasn't going to die for a government that had imprisoned her for no other crime than being born. She was going to escape. Or at least try. Zandra would probably kill her without breaking a sweat, if she was being honest with herself. But better that than waiting for the Reapers to find her and turn her into a monster. She had seen enough videos of them swarming over defenses and dragging prisoners away to be converted to convince her of that.
So when the next morning arrived, and she was tasked with moving the Yevan with the stun net incase she was charged, she stopped what she was doing. This attracted Zandra's attention, obviously and the guard began to yell at Janiri. Janiri couldn't hear her. Her heart was pounding and the her hands were gripped white knuckled around the stun net. For the life of her, she couldn't remember what she had planned to do. All she could focus on was that disciple in Zandra's hands, held loosely as the annoyed guard came closer.
Without even thinking, Janiri aimed and fired the stun net at Zandra. Caught by surprise, the guard didn't even have time to react and went down with a thud. Janiri dropped the stun net and flailed, simultaneously reaching out to take back the net she had just fired and cringing away from the sight. "Sorry! I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" She blurted out, quickly going to Zandra's side and looking around. The other guard was out in the fields with the other Ardat-Yakshi, so they were alone. Zandra was out cold, and Janiri acted fast. She started going through Zandra's pockets, pulling out a thousand credits. "Why do you have so much money? How do you have so much money?" She was speaking aloud, partially out of the novelty of being able to do it out here and partially cause she was on the verge of having a panic attack. Having found all that she needed, Zandra grabbed the disciple (despite not having any idea at all of how to use it) and ran for the fences.
The disciple made short work of the lock on the gate, and then she was sprinting in the direction she had seen the ships come from. That week was mostly a blur of unreasonable fear that the asari government would spare the resources to track her down, exhaustion, and a need to constantly move. She immediately wept when she saw the city in the distance, and stumbled into its streets. She needed to get off planet, and fast. There had to be someone who would be willing to take her away from Thessia, no questions asked.
After a few hours, Janiri found herself in a seedy bar with an Eclipse recruiter calling out that Aria T'Loak was taking the fight to the Reapers across the galaxy and they were looking for people who wanted good pay and training to do so. No questions would be asked. Janiri leapt at the opportunity, and found herself on a ship leaving Thessia. She held her breath as the passed by the blockades, but apparently the government was too concerned with the impending genocidal invasion force to worry about her. She breathed a sigh of relief.
The Eclipse shipped her to a very quick three weeks of training. At her request the Eclipse doctor removed the asari government chip from the base of her neck. He didn't believe her when she told him that it was a slaver chip that she wanted removed, but 1000 credits made him not care. When she awoke from the anesthesia, she had a scar on her neck and he assured her that it was gone. She was given no time to rest, given the dire nature of the war, and sent back immediately into training.
She picked up the basics of how to hold a gun and not shoot herself during their training, and then was sent to the coalition against the Reapers under the command of a salarian named Zevroth. They were to resist Reaper occupation, extract high value targets, and in general bring the fight to the enemy while Shepard and his crew figured out how to win the war. Her squad was small, no more than five members including herself and Zevroth, but she liked them. They didn't demand her silence, or look at her with contempt. All they wanted was for her to do her job, and that was something she could do. She didn't grow close to any of them, but she was more than thrilled with being able to simply talk to them.
The next two months almost made Janiri regret leaving Thessia. Prayers were seemingly endlessly falling from her lips as she fought against the Reapers. She had already known what they were like, having seen many of the hundreds of videos that popped up across the extranet. But it was one thing to see it and quite another to experience it. The only thing that kept her from freezing up and dying was the harsh voice of Zevroth in her ear, ordering her to move and to act. Seventy years of obeying whatever she was told to do kicked in, and she acted instinctively to do whatever he ordered. During the few moments of respite, he would often comment that she would have been the perfect soldier if she had had any biotic talent. Janiri kept silent and bore the dismissive comments, burning with shame.
When the Citadel was taken (a shock, as Janiri had been convinced it was impenetrable) they received new orders. They were to join the Hammer arm of the coalition and help fight a path through Reaper ground forces on earth so that Shepard could end the war for good.
The fighting was the most brutal she had so far experienced. The landing alone was nerve-wracking, with ships from Hammer being shot out of the sky around them, a constant litany of prayers being uttered by Janiri as they entered the atmosphere. She doesn't remember much of the fighting itself, just an exhausting blur of gunfire, working on mechs to keep them upright, and using what abilities she had over and over again in a desperate attempt to keep their position from being overrun like so many others were. It seemed like the Reapers had brought every monster in the galaxy to earth for this final confrontation.
She does remember one thing with clarity, they were pushing forward to help an asari commando squad that had gotten pinned down. Between the two of them they managed to eliminate the Reaper forces in the area and gain a brief breather. As she was resting, about to pull her helmet off to get some air, Janiri caught sight of the commander that was talking to Zevroth. It was Zandra, who had apparently survived Thessia. Janiri slammed her helmet back on and busied herself with trying to fix the broken bodies of the assault drones around them. Despite her absolute certainty that Zandra had seen her, the asari commando squad left without a word and Zevroth ordered them back into the fray.
When the Crucible was activated, Janiri was exhausted. Her avenger was jammed, her disciple was out of ammo, and every drone she had repaired had been destroyed. She and her squad were pinned in a building, a horde of husks tearing down the barricades they had set up. The crucible firing convinced her that the space battle had been lost, and the Reapers were destroying the ground forces with their ships. As she waited for the blast to reach them, she closed her eyes and muttered a prayer to Piares to guide her safely to the afterlife.
Only that never happened. When Janiri opened her eyes, the Reaper forces around them were all dead. The war was over.
The very same night, Janiri abandoned her squad. She didn't know what was going to happen next, but she was more than happy to stay on earth and help with the rebuilding efforts and start her own farm. It would be peaceful, quiet, and far away from the asari government. She didn't want to fight for the Eclipse, now that they were certainly going to go back to being a criminal organization.
Things didn't play out the way she had hoped over the next month. While she was able to find human survivors in the rural areas and send them to the refugee camps to begin rebuilding, the Eclipse and the asari forces didn't leave like she had hoped. In fact, no one could leave. The Mass effect relays were destroyed. Eager to keep on the move and not attract any attention from what was effectively the local asari government, Janiri leapt at the Sol Restoration Network's offer.
Anything to keep her moving.
Timid: After 70 years of not being allowed to do anything without permission and oversight, and often being rejected out of hand, Janiri struggles immensely to even assert herself, much less stand her ground against others who disagree with her (even if she knows she's right) and voice her opinion. Often times she'll simply go along with whatever she's been told out of sheer habit.
Naïve: Janiri has spent the majority of her life either in a small, tight knit, community or in a forced seclusion with a constant watcher on her. Her experience with the real universe is negligible. Her experience with people who will lie or manipulate her is even less. It isn't difficult to convince of her of something, as her experience people are upfront and honest, even if they're mean. This also means she has no experience lying. She's essentially an open book, whether she wants to be or not. Throw in the fact that she's had next to no interactions that were in person for decades (and even less positive interactions) and she's easily fooled and trusting.
Untrained: Janiri is not a fighter. She has received very basic training from the Eclipse organization, but she still finds herself freezing in terror. She is an okay shot in the best of situations, and would much prefer to be in the back of the fight providing support. She relies heavily on her tech, Kuri, and allies to make up for this.
Ardat-Yakshi: Janiri is a Demon of the Night Winds. She can never meld with anyone, lest she ravage their nervous system. Should she ever be found out by any asari, it is almost certain that they will never trust her again and may even try to kill her. Any non-asari who find out are likely to view her as a threat once they are informed what an Ardat-Yakshi is. As such, Janiri does her best to keep this a secret.
Weak Biotic: Despite being an Ardat-Yakshi, or perhaps because of it, Janiri is a weaker biotic than the majority of asari. Even if she develops her talents, its unlikely that she'll be able to even develop more than one skill.
Tech Armor Overload Damping Submission Net
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CRIMES◢
Accomplishments: Participation in the Reaper war, Liberation of Earth.
Crimes: Being an Ardat-Yakshi, she is technically a fugitive of the asari government.
RELATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS◢
Zevroth: Her salarian Eclipse captain.
Zandra: Her asari overseer on Thessia.
Shala, Tazun, and Mark: Her asari, salarian, and human eclipse squad mates respectively.
If you want to draw Janiri out of her shell, ask her about animals, plants, or agriculture in general. The floodgates will open with little prodding and she will tell you everything you want to know and then some in a seemingly endless torrent of information and trivia that she knows. She gets very animated during this, excitedly talking about her favorite subjects.
Janiri is deeply embarrassed by and ashamed of the fact that she has not developed any biotic skill.
Janiri worships the old pantheon of the asari and offers prayers to them regularly.
Her favorite plant in the universe is Irssal. The smell reminds her of home.
Her favorite earth animals are cows and pigs.
Her favorite animal in the universe is the Yevan. An Asari domesticated animal that her family had in great numbers. Large four-legged herbivores with two bioluminescent horns protruding from their snouts. They are capable of moving at great speeds with their biotics.
Janiri likes to sing as she does things.
CREDITS & VALUABLES◢ 100 credits Pictures of her parents (they're pictures she managed to screen shot from the Extranet)
OUTFIT◢ Eclipse armor (With all the eclipse symbols sanded off). It's too small for her.
When Janiri isn't in her armor, she's covered nearly to toe. Calf high boots, black gloves, long sleeve shirt and jacket. The only thing that isn't covered is her face and head.
WEAPON & TOOLS◢ Disciple (in good condition) M-8 Avenger (An old model, jams if full auto is used) Twin Omni-tools capable of flash forging whatever she might need for repairs. Assault Drone. Salvaged after the battle for earth. She's named it Kuri (in honor of Kurinth).
CONSUMABLE◢ Medigel 3 Frag grenades Omnigel Various salvaged supplies for repairing vehicles, mechs, or drones.
ID & DOCUMENTS◢ None. She didn't take any of her identification with her, and the Eclipse didn't give her any.
BAGS & CONTAINERS◢ Backpack. containing her salvaged supplies and valuables.
Species | Class ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Human | Soldier
At first glance, Katya doesn't cut the most imposing figure. Sure, she's slightly taller and heavier than the average human woman, but her physique clearly indicates that of a spacer, instead of a ground-pounder. She has a feminine figure paired with well-toned muscle: relatively large breasts, generous hips, sturdy shoulders, taut belly and strong limbs. Katya is in great shape at the age of 40, thanks to the military's nutrition supplements and exercise regimes. However, none of that is apparent under the standard issue field uniform and armor.
Katya's facial structure is typical of eastern Europeans, with hints of northern European ancestry. She wears her sandy blond hair in a bob, which parts slightly to the right and extends halfway down her neck. It's about the longest her hair can be while still fit under helmets. Her upturned hazel eyes often focus on the most pressing objective. Her nose is curved concavely with a hook, and her lips are heavier on the bottom. Finally, defined cheekbones with an overall round face shape gives off an authoritative yet motherly impression.
As much as Katya tries to carry herself stoically, she can only take so much before flinching and breaking. Since the war ended, she's been much less uptight around people. Maybe her vulnerabilities are too much to hide, or maybe that long held stress is finally releasing. Either way, what good is etiquette when everything formal lies in ruins? What's the point of standing at attention when there's hardly a chain of command left? After the initial wave of celebrations, Katya's face is just as tired as everyone else.
MOTIVATIONS AND OUTLOOK◢
Bitch, lover, child, mother.
Katya has been called many things, flattering and unflattering, and she's not ashamed to admit most of them are true.
Some people say Katya is a bitch, well, she's not a bitch all the time. These people probably see her as petty or ruthless, or occasionally, both. Katya really tries not to be petty, but some slights just have to be repaid in kind. There's a fine line between forgiving and spineless, and if she has to choose, Katya would rather wrong someone than letting them push her around. It is similar in principle to her ruthlessness, except, Katya embraces her ruthless side. After all, personal feelings are inconsequential next to the success of a group. If a few has to die for the many, Katya is willing to stomach that loss.
On the other end of the spectrum, Katya can be a passionate lover. Not only does she love her grandparents, her husband and her children, Katya loves her homeland, she loves to learn about history and cultures, and even loves her job (most of the time). This love is a mix of emotions and careful appreciation of the best parts of her life. It is also an understanding that when things are at their worst, what she loves keeps her moving forward. A soldier doesn't fight because they hate what opposes them. No, people like Katya know all too well they fight because they love what they fight for.
All these conflicting emotions make Katya a thoughtful adult, right? Or just a mercurial child? It's honestly easier to be a kid at times. When responsibilities become too much to shoulder, and they certain do, Katya closes her eyes and wishes she's still the little girl holding her grandparents' hands. Her fondest memories are those of her childhood, of a simpler time where there isn't a galaxy of worries to contend with. With that said, certain insecurities then persist even now. Can she succeed when many doubt her? Can she show compassion when her parents have never given her any? At the end of the day, when Katya throws a tantrum, as much as she hates to admit, it is because of her inner child rearing its tiny head.
Ultimately, Katya has to be a good mother. She has to be a strong and reliable mother figure to those alongside her. Earth is her home; if she can't lead those stranded far from home, who will? Sure, the reapers are defeated. But defeating the enemy is merely one step to winning the war. There would be no victory to speak of, should the victors never return. And when the victors do return, when Katya sees her beloved husband, daughter and son again, what will she tell them? She wants to tell them a good ending, an ending she will make sure her family will be proud of.
For as long as she could remember, her mother and father were never there. Even when they were physically near, she never felt their affection. But as long as would remember, her grandparents would always be there. Even when they were gone, she held them close to her heart.
As far as she knew, her parents dropped her off at her paternal grandparents' doorsteps in Volgograd as a baby. Her parents had named the baby, less than a year old, Yekaterina. And her grandparents, charmed by the little girl, nicknamed her Katya. Katya's parents would visit occasionally before she reached the age of five. These visits would be infrequent and brief; no more than three times a year, and no more than three hours each visit.
Fortunately, Katya's grandparents gave her all the love a little girl could wish for. Her grandmother, Lyudmila, or babushka Mila, taught psychology at a local college. Her grandfather, Maxim, was an eezo mechanic specializing in those new skycars. They were both semi-retired and lived in a large flat. On warm summer days, they would often take Katya fishing on Volga River. Those were the fondest memories of Katya's life. Cool afternoon breeze on her skin, the steady hum of the motorboat's engine, the splashing of lure, and the exhilaration of catching a prized sturgeon.
But school revealed Katya's childhood was not quite the same as everyone else's. When other children talked about their parents, Katya would gush about her grandparents. Then the question always came back to her: "where's your mom and dad?"
Initially, her grandparents would just smile sadly and say they were off to make lives better for everyone. Shortly before her seventh birthday, while they were watching news of the first extra-solar colony being established on Demeter, babushka Mila gave the answer: "you father is lost chasing stars."
It would be Katya's eleventh year when her parents returned. The news of that year would be of an interstellar conflict against the first sentient aliens encountered by humanity. Whatever her father and mother were doing among distant stars would no longer be safe. They stayed with her grandparents for several days. Her father, Feodor (or Ted), tried his best to connect with the young girl, but to no avail. Her mother, Oxana, on the other hand, barely acknowledged her.
Then they were gone as swiftly as the faraway battles ended. A bigger galaxy had been revealed, and Katya's father promised he would blaze a trail there. Lyudmila's disappointment was apparent, she believed her son had completely deserted his familial obligations. Maxim, on the other hand, argued some sacrifices had to be made to seize the best opportunities of this rapidly changing era, though he disapproved of his daughter-in-law's influence. Both of Katya's grandparents agreed on one thing, they failed to raise their son as a responsible person, and they would not repeat the same mistake on her.
During her teenage years, Katya would be ingrained with the most essential Russian values. Strength, compassion, sacrifice and loyalty, to one's family and one's colleagues. Her grandparents would show her the history of their home city. The towering statue of motherland's calling, the museum of the Great Patriotic War, the preserved wall where Pavlov made his stand more than 200 years ago. Through it all, Katya gained an appreciation for history, and a great sense of pride for her homeland.
Although her parents stopped visiting again, Katya had learned to overcome alienation in school. Quick-witted and never backing down from challenges, she excelled both academically and socially. She was often the head of cliques and honor student of social study classes, driven by competitiveness and a desire to cover her insecurities with accomplishments. By her 18th year, Katya had been accepted into Moscow State University on a newly created Systems Alliance scholarship.
Her first two years were a bit strange. Although she lived in dorms in Moscow, she would visit home when possible, and when not possible, her grandparents would visit her. Then the next two years would signal the biggest change in her life. In order to continue receiving the scholarship, recipients had to accept service contracts with the Alliance outside of the solar system. Even though Katya had traveled to several different places on Earth before, this was her first time going to space. It was difficult parting with her grandparents after 20 years. Would she never come home again, just like her father? No. She promised to return as often as she could.
By 2168, Katya Serova had graduated with a history degree from the academy on Arcturus Station. Her initial loneliness had been offset by dedication to study, a newfound interest in alien cultures, and several unsuccessful relationships. In addition, she had to deal with frequent stomach troubles from space food and living in artificial gravity. Still, she overcame them and accepted an officer's commission into the Alliance Navy.
She requested her posting back on Earth, and was posted to a spaceport in Sweden. It was there Katya met Nils Wistrom, a journalist working for Alliance News Network (ANN). Unlike her previous boyfriends and girlfriends, Nils was neither meek or overbearing, not too self-righteous or overly dependent. He supported Katya when she needed a shoulder to lean on, and challenged her when she became lazy. Most of all, he shared what Katya valued the most: dedication to family and open-mindedness for questions they did not have the answers for.
Upon finishing her first service contract in 2173, Katya proposed to Nils. They married soon later, on a luxurious cruise ship in the Baltic. It was a grand ceremony, where everyone was invited; her grandparents, her extended family, Nils' family, her superior officers, his editors, and even his strange and shy cousin Solveig, who took Katya's palm into her metal one and read vitality and conflagration for her future (whatever that meant).
Shortly after their honeymoon, the newly wed couple went back to work. The ongoing tension between human settlers and batarians was the event everyone talked about. Nils had been given the directive of interviewing refugees from batarian raids. Katya, inspired by patriotic propaganda, continued in the navy. In response to unconventional adversaries, the Alliance needed to expand its special operations capabilities. The Interplanetary Combatives Academy opened its doors to a wider range of candidates, and so Katya signed up.
The first course, N1, at Rio de Jainero, was a tough but manageable experience. While spending time with her husband and waiting for invitation to the subsequent N2 training off-planet, Katya found herself pregnant. So when the invitation finally came, Katya had to decline. There would be zero-G training, and such activity could negatively impact the development of her baby. It turned out to be the correct choice. Her newborn girl, whom Nils and her named Tessa, came to the world strong and healthy. In addition, Katya avoided a dangerous training accident on Europa that left three dead and a dozen seriously injured.
Even though her spec ops qualification stopped at the lowest level, Lieutenant Serova was nevertheless pressed into service during the Skyllian Blitz. Her first posting was an operations analyst aboard the carrier, SSV Nelson Mandela. Her job included no direct combat; it was mostly helping her bosses look over reports.
Back home, Nils had left ANN to become an independent producer. His position allowed him ample time for little Tessa. Unsurprisingly, Katya found the little girl preferring Nils over her. The feeling of alienation from her daughter brought back unpleasant memories. Was Katya becoming just like her father?
Speaking of her father, Katya got more than just flashbacks of him when she returned home. There was a message from Ted Serov, the investor of a shady interstellar freight company, and a recently arrested trafficker of red sand. He needed a psych evaluation from Lyudmila (whom once worked as a clinical psychologist), to exonerate him from any personal responsibility. But he was too ashamed to face Lyudmila personally, so he plead with a message to his daughter: "please make your babushka see, that I couldn't bear the burdens of this cruel galaxy."
Lyudmila's face was devoid of emotions. She said nothing when Katya brought her the message. It was grandpa Maxim that asked the questions: Was Oxana with Feodor? Where did he get the money to invest in this company? How did he even come across this "red sand" stuff anyway? Digging through the extranet yielded only vague answers. When Lyudmila finally spoke of it, she asked Katya. "Does he deserve a second chance?"
Everyone deserved a second chance, Katya thought. Everybody made mistakes, but the consequences of some mistakes were too grave to be forgiven. Forgiveness only mattered when one showed remorse. Katya's father was hardly remorseful. So personally, no. Legally, well, it would be a conflict of interests to be involved as an Alliance officer. Compassionately, yes; Katya wasn't supposed to be a cold-hearted suka.
The answer? No. Father wasn't there for daughter; daughter wouldn't be there for father.
Katya deleted the message. Sure enough, the news of Ted Serov's conviction was made public several weeks later. While watching the holo-news with Nils, Tessa barged in the living room.
"Mom," the little girl stared at the broadcast, "do you know him?"
"Then why are you watching-"
"Justice." Katya shook her head.
Tessa only got more confused. Nils sighed. So Katya left the room and let her husband watch cartoons with their daughter.
By 2178, the Skyllian Blitz had concluded and Katya's second tour had ended. She requested a less tumultuous posting next, and as such, appointed to the same academy on Arcturus she once studied in. The station had expanded since she was there last time, and with better permanent spouse residence, Nils (who worked primarily with online clients) and Tessa moved with her. Developing new training while completing a master's degree in strategic studies, Katya ascended to the rank of staff lieutenant. This relative stability also allowed Nils and her to plan for a second child; a boy this time.
But during her second pregnancy in 2181, Katya received the crushing news. Her grandfather was seriously ill. Apparently the cumulative eezo exposures during his career finally caught up to him. He was barely lucid when Katya rushed home. Within a week, Maxim was gone.
When she gave birth, Katya named the baby boy Max.
Later that year, her grandmother's health also deteriorated. Combined with her child leave, the Alliance gave Katya a full year off. She would spend much of that time with her babushka Mila. Katya would support her as they walked through the streets of Volgograd, just as they did when she was a child, except the cars have all taken to the skies and the old mechanic who pointed them out was no longer with them. Katya would steer the motorboat on the Volga, except she was reeling in the sturgeon (with much less success), and Lyudmila was smiling in the back seat. Katya would take her to revisit the memorials of the old war, now frequented by alien tourists, and show her their resilience as Russians.
"They don't have priyaniki here." It was Christmas, and they were in the hospital. Lyudmila was on the hospital bed, hooked up to Sirta life support machines. Katya sat by bedside, gingerly holding an aged and wrinkled hand. "But with these new meds, people live well into 120s."
"I'm sorry." Lyudmila suddenly said.
"You have nothing to be sorry for." Katya reassured her with a gentle squeeze of her hand.
"No, I'm sorry for your father." Lyudmila lamented. "I'm sorry Maxim and I couldn't give him the same love we gave you. Please, tell him, if you ever find the chance."
"I will, babushka; I promise." Tears welled up in Katya's eyes.
On the last day of 2181, Katya's grandmother passed away.
Nils, Tessa and Max were there during the funeral. Tessa was old enough to know what it was about, but she clearly lacked the connection with a great-grandparent. Afterward, Katya read Lyudmila's will. She inherited the flat, the motorboat, and a necklace of tiny seashells her grandmother always worn. The necklace was made during Lyudmila and Maxim's honeymoon on Cyprus, and every seashell was collected and strung by Maxim's own hands. From then on, Katya would always wear it, even under her dog tags.
On her last month off, Katya tracked Ted Serov to a prison on Benning. The security there was lax, and the prisoners were given a relatively large degree of personal freedom. Apparently, Ted had served the first half of his ten-year sentence doing hard labor in a maximum security facility. Now, he's deeply remorseful, undertook many community services and on track to an early parole. Well, that's what his files said.
When they met face-to-face, Katya saw a man she couldn't recognize. Ted agreed.
"You have all of your mother's looks." He started. It was true. Although Katya never questioned it, she knew she didn't resemble either of her grandparents. For starters, they were both brunettes, and she was blond...
"What happened to her?" Katya inquired, and frowned at reflections in the glass separating them.
"I don't know; Oxana left when we started moving red sand." Ted hung his head. "Smart choice. I didn't get this sentence for just running a 'smuggling ring'. One of our ships caused an accident on Asteria and crashed into an asari village."
That just raised more questions. "Why deal with drugs in the fist place?"
"Because we had no other choice. Back then, nobody's interested in human goods. Few alien spaceports let entrepreneurs like your mother and I through." Ted studied Katya's uniform. "People like you are changing that. I am trying to change too; I help recovering addicts here. But you have to understand, Yekaterina, it was a different-"
"Katya." She corrected him. "Okay, I'll put in an endorsement for your early parole."
"No, no, don't burden yourself." Declined Ted. "I should do my time anyway."
"Haven't you done enough time already? Or are you going to keep hiding from me? From your grandchildren? From saying goodbye to your own mother!?"
"Grandmother Lyudmila said she's sorry." Katya stated as a matter-of-fact.
Tears rolled down Ted's cheeks.
"They were working for the space agency when they had me. They were so busy!" He broke down. Ted's words came out as sobs. "I felt irrelevant next to their work; made me want to surpass them out of spite. They went to cosmodromes? I'll go to Mars, Jupiter, outer space...I forgot to come to home!"
Ted couldn't speak anymore, and truthfully, Katya didn't want listen anymore either. Her father looked broken, which caused tinges of pity to form. She shouldn't pity this neglectful, absentee excuse of a man. It would be unbecoming as an officer to show sympathy for a criminal, just because he's family.
Family? Her grandparents spoke of their work before, but never the impact on their family, and certain not from a perspective like Ted's.
Family. Katya was neglecting her own family. She spent little time with her husband and kids during her off year. So she left, with some closure and some unanswered questions she's content to bury. Tessa clearly preferred Nils at this point, but maybe Katya still had a chance with little Max. Either way, the last free week would be spent with those she loved the most, on...Bekenstein?
Oh, right. An old colleague of Nils opened a documentary studio on Bekenstein. They brought him in as the VP. The pay's great, the housing's bigger than the Alliance's, and he's directing holos that will educate all across the galaxy. There's no reason to stay on Earth anymore, so, what's not to like about this new garden world? Tessa sure liked it.
In 2183, geth, led by rogue spectre Saren, attacked the Citadel. There's also a new "geth dreadnaught", though nobody's certain what exactly it was. The most important part, however, was that the Alliance saved the council. Their success was attributed to Commander Shepard and SSV Normandy. Bekenstein received the news before everyone else. Seeing it on holo stunned Katya, but she felt immense pride in the commander's victory.
Upon returning to full active duty, Katya felt elated to be offered a promotion to lieutenant commander and an executive officer posting aboard a Normandy-class frigate. The ship was called SSV Stalingrad.
Never could she imagine returning to her home city to christen a spacecraft. But there Katya was, at Volgograd Spaceport, smashing a bottle of champagne against the nose of a stealth frigate. In a partly pre-written and partly improvised speech, Lieutenant Commander Serova spoke of the bloodiest battle in human history, how heroes sacrificed everything to defeat tyranny, and how former enemies now live side by side as brothers and sisters. Then she thanked her grandparents for making everything possible. For three days, her speech made ANN headlines.
That evening, Katya visited their graves. "If only you could see me now."
However, not everyone liked the symbolism. The Stalingrad was scheduled for the third fleet. When Nitesh Singh, a cynical old admiral in charge of that fleet, was interviewed, he said the ceremony was "a sentimental waste of time" and "no Alliance vessel should bear the name of humanity's worst dictators."
"By the way," Singh added, "that XO's only an N1. All special operation-capable officers need N2 at minimum."
SSV Stalingrad was reassigned to the first fleet (under Admiral Ines Lindholm) in the ensuing controversies. Out of sheer spite for that tupitsa Singh, Katya enrolled in N2 on her first extended leave. She was one of the oldest candidates, but that didn't stop her from persevering. The harsh air on Europa, the nauseating smell of thermal clips, the bruises, cuts and dislocated joints, the near-exposure to vacuum and the constant stress day in and day out only fueled her. After the graduation ceremony, she practically collapsed (with joy, though).
A fellow Russian at N2, a young PFC named Kuznetsov, took to calling Katya Tyotushka. He followed the experienced Katya like a lost puppy. Afterward, she brought him to the Stalingrad, and everyone started calling her Tyotushka. It was a sign that many onboard admired her (professionally, of course). That included the frigate's captain, Commander Jin Cheng. A fellow history enthusiast, the two of them often discussed their ancestral cultures, of how both the Chinese and Russians valued family and sacrifice. Then there's the pilot, Lieutenant Alice Kurvitz, whose exuberant demeanor belied extensive alien cultural knowledge.
When the first fleet narrowly escaped reapers at Charon relay, Stalingrad was performing solo recon near batarian space. They regrouped with other fleets, and learned the scale of this war was unlike anything ever seen (or even imagined). Arcturus Station was destroyed, everyone inside, including the entire parliament, was dead. Earth fell in a matter of hours, and now these monstrous foes were massacring by the billions. It was no surprise a conflict was on the horizon; Commander Shepard's recent exploits proved that. What was surprising, however, was the pure devastation. The loss of life dwarfed the world wars Katya read so much about.
Thankfully, her family was safe. Nils was making a marine biology documentary on Arvuna, a planet the reapers apparently ignored. Tessa and Max traveled with him to see deinorostrums. They stayed on the planet for the remainder of war. They could not have been luckier; reapers eventually glassed Bekenstein, and seized the Citadel.
This meant Katya fought with a peace of mind. Many of Stalingrad's crew were scared and angry, but she was their voice of reason. They rarely engaged any reaper directly, instead, they ferried spec ops behind enemy lines and rescued civilians. All those years planning operations paid dividends; combined with Katya's decisiveness and her willingness to make tough calls, she was instrumental in Stalingrad becoming one of the most effective frigates (other than Normandy SR-2, of course). The battles not only occurred in space, but also on the ground. Every crew member fired shots at the enemy, and some, like Katya herself, gained impressive marksmanship.
2186 came to its end, and so did the final battle. SSV Stalingrad rejoined the first fleet as an element of sword, the space offensive to retake Earth. Though their role was actually a distraction, to keep reaper capital ships away from the Crucible and clear a path for the ground assault. The Stalingrad screened occulus drones until hammer called for backup. Commander Shepard's team encountered intense opposition in London, but to make things worse, reapers across the globe were converging on Great Britain. To keep them away, Admiral Lindholm dispatched SSV Stalingrad to Southern Russia. Where it dropped off N7 operatives and resupplied local partisans.
In and out before before they knew it. Stalingrad needed to return to formation, where sword was taking a beating. But Katya noticed a reaper destroyer nesting in Volgograd, devastating her home city and turning defenseless civilians into husks. They must engage it, if nothing else, they're fighting for the ship's namesake, its "home port", for the lives laid down here 244 years ago, and for the symbol of defiance. Her rousing speech convinced the crew, and even Commander Jin, who had been notoriously cautious.
The fight itself was less encouraging. Not only did the destroyer outgun Stalingrad, harvesters and ravagers provided additional ground to air firepower. The frigate crashed down, killing half of its crew, including Commander Jin. Then the reaper creatures swept in like wildfire. The survivors were picked off one after another. A banshee impaled Kuznetsov right in front of Katya's eyes. Lieutenant Kurvitz was seconds away from being trampled by a brute when the red pulse permeated across the land.
This was the crucible's power. The reapers were dead. The war was over.
Katya lived. She was among victors, was she?
The destruction of relays didn't bother her nearly as much as most. She was home, among the ruins of home, but home nevertheless. She would like to reunite with her husband and children eventually, but she could wait knowing they were safe. What bothered her were the consequences of her last command. She ordered her crew on a meaningless suicide attack. Only eight survived in the end, and every single one, except for Kurvitz, resented her.
Of course, the highest ranking officer in charge had to be none other than Singh himself. Hackett and Lindholm both fled. Katya didn't even report in, she stayed where she grew up and helped the partisans. Kurvitz went to Estonia to check on distant relatives. The other survivors did report in. Two weeks later, they were all summoned to Geneva, the temporary Alliance HQ.
What proceeded was the shortest "court martial" ever. Kurvitz defended Katya, the other survivors testified against her. The charges were insubordination, incompetence, failure to execute mission protocol, desertion, and other military-legal jargon that were irrelevant given their current situation. Katya didn't deny or admit any of them. She just recounted exactly what she did. She did the right things and most of her crew followed her orders for a reason. Singh had none of it. He literally ripped the insignias from Katya's uniform and gave her a four word dishonorable discharge: "get the hell out."
Perhaps it was concern that this ublyudok now led the most powerful galactic military coalition drove Katya to Sol Restoration Network. Or perhaps it was the fact she felt she needed to redeem herself for the death of her crewmates. It could even be her need to establish a positive reputation, to be a role model when she eventual tells her kids her story. And most simply, Katya needed credits if she wanted to see her family again. Whatever the case, it was a stroke of sheer luck that SRN came online minutes after Katya opened the closest computer terminal. She submitted her application, and within days, got matched to a job.
Indigestion: Studies have shown artificial gravity generated by modern spacecrafts affects many aspects of the human digestive process. Nicknamed "gas effect" by spacers, for the excess of stomach gasses, this is a puzzling phenomenon with no apparent cure. In addition, space food are typically more difficult to digest, owing to their processing, artificial ingredients and often lack of preparation. Symptoms include constipation, bloating, nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite. Long term effects may lead to muscle atrophy, weakened taste, smell and sight, and gastrointestinal infections.
Left-handed: It's amazing how many "universal" interfaces are made specifically for right-handed people. Are all species dominated by right-handers? Either way, more ambidextrous features on everything from consoles to guns would make Katya's life a lot easier. It's 2187, damn it!
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CRIMES◢
Marksman proficiency ribbon
Interplanetary Combatives Academy "N2" designation
Lieutenant Commander, Systems Alliance Navy
RELATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS◢
Nils Wistrom - Husband (alive)
Tessa Serova-Wistrom - Daughter (alive)
Max Serov-Wistrom - Son (alive)
Feodor "Ted" Serov - Father (alive, imprisoned)
Oxana Khovanskaya - Mother (unknown)
Maxim Serov - Grandfather (deceased)
Lyudmila "Mila" Serova - Grandmother (deceased)
Commander Jin Cheng - CO of SSV Stalingrad (deceased)
Lieutenant Alice Kurvitz - Pilot of SSV Stalingrad (alive)
Corporal Kuznetsov - Security on SSV Stalingrad (deceased)
Solveig Wistrom - Cousin-in-law (alive)
CREDITS & VALUABLES◢ - 487 credits - Marriage ring - Grandmother's seashell necklace - SSV Stalingrad's red star patch