No Single Raindrop

Matriarch Benezia T'Soni, on Siari, Athame, and Asari Culture, through the lens of those left behind.

As gathered and organized by Liara T'Soni-Shepard

My mother's wisdom was often sought, from as my earliest memories of my youth. Matriarchs of powerful Houses, alien visitors and dignitaries, wealthy investors of all races, and a seemingly endless procession of old friends and acquaintances often passed through the halls of the T'Soni. Not only the mighty and powerful, but often the humble and nameless came to hear her wisdom and, in some cases, of her investment might – the House of T'Soni in its final days was a shadow of earlier times, but that shadow was still a multimillion credit edifice with a large interest in the Armali Council.

In my foolish youth, I merely attributed these visits and her court of allies and friends to her serenity and wisdom. The idea that my mother's gentle advice was actually part of some larger machination never occurred to me, nor did the fact that many of the visitors we had in the Hall of the T'Soni were hardly the sort of figures one would expect to find a Matriarch entertaining.

Even further along the wave of this thought, it was not until the dark years on Ilium that I realized every one of the High Matriarchs of the Thirty was playing the same kind of game. My mother's (and aithntar's) plans were perhaps less inclined to sheer malice, but were for the glory of the House, not the asari people, just like the rest. What was unique was their sheer scope.

With the advantage of hindsight and the understanding I gained in my years spent as a data broker, I can see now what I did not grasp in my youth – my mother's plans were long set and, even for asari, spanned a breathtaking amount of time to come to fruition. Many of those visitors, I suspect, were investors and those who my mother sought to align with her future plans – both for the House and the asari people as a whole.

Sadly, I suspect the other side of the bay for that statement is that whatever she planned would not be good for the rest of the Houses of the Thirty.

If she and my aithntar had not been derailed by my birth and the machinations of the Council of Matriarchs, particularly the House of Storms, I wonder what would have changed. Then, on reflection, I ponder just how much worse it would have been if she had succeeded in her goal – our fate might have instead mirrored that of the Prothean Empire.

I still remain uncertain why my mother made some of the choices she did. As much I have tried, in my words, to explain her worldview and her ideals, it strikes me now in hindsight that she was in many ways a person who did not, as Sara puts it, practice what she preached. Some of this was no doubt due to how she saw herself – my mother never lacked for confidence.

But I think a larger part of it, and indeed why the asari people went so astray, was due to the very nature of our culture. We were arrogant and elegant, capricious and cruel, besotted with beauty, art, culture, dance… and yet willing and able to subvert everything around us, regardless of the cost to others. In no way did the asari embrace of siari ever make the asari people ask themselves: "Is this right?"

To put it in blunt terms, the asari as a race were, before the Reaper War, a sickened and oftentimes cruel culture masked under layers of sensual distraction, rich and evocative ritual, and, most of all, layer upon layer of power games. Both Benezia and Aethyta understood that eventually such things would rebound upon us, and wanted to change the fabric of the asari people as well as our culture. Yet both of them were ultimately suborned by it.

And yet, in the chaotic changes brought about by the end of the Reaper War, the formation of the Asari-Human Systems Alliance, and, of course, the… somewhat extreme actions taken by my Sara, I now begin to see the same sort of dissonance that ruined my people infecting the asari once more. In that light, I wish to review asari culture, and what my mother's ideas of change entailed.

The Ugly Realities of Asari Culture

The years following the Reaper War, and the destruction of not only the Thirty and many of the Lesser Houses, but the near total annihilation of almost all asari worlds, have left my people adrift. Once the pinnacle of might and power, outnumbering all others and with supremacy in every field of science and economics, we are now little better off than the quarians were in the days before they rejoined the Council – wandering and broken, without home or unity.

The Clans mostly inhabited the core colonies, and less than one in fifty Clan members survived the Fall of Thessia. The lack of Clans made the ability to unify our culture even more unreasonable, and illustrates keenly a point my mother made in her writings many times.

The vaunted unity of our people was an artificial construct.

Much of the knowledge of the Dark Matriarch Trellani died with her, thankfully, the nigh-blasphemous and disgusting truths she uncovered were never fully revealed to the galactic public. While she made detailed (and cunning) preparations to unleash the truth in the event of her death, she ultimately chose not to do so. It is well she did not – I am uncertain that the asari people would have survived the revelation. Certainly, war would have erupted.

Nor will I blacken the unseen digital pages of my mother's work and my own words with such things. The truth will not improve anything, much less the view of our people.

Let it simply be said that what the Thirty turned towards was not Athame, nor her wisdom, nor her wishes, nor her goals. It was fear, greed, and, above all else, overweening egotistical pride that formed the chains that shackled asari society.

Instead of listening to Athame's wisdom, they sought instead to abuse her power. In place of hope they relied upon pride. In lieu of the ideals of living as one, they deliberately broke the asari people – both mentally and physically.

Asari unity and siari, embedded in every aspect of asari life in the living memory, seemed an absolute. And I cannot dismiss the obvious truths and wisdom found in siari. The Thirty would not waste their time on creating a framework for our society that was not truly superior, even if it was in pursuit of dominance.

Yet, the ugly truth was that siari itself may have very well been, if not fraudulent in its content, then at least dishonest in how it supposedly arose. Conventional asari histories indicate siari evolved naturally from several philosophical concepts that grew in prominence as our people slowly unified, although it was slowed by the War of Queens.

Careful archaeological studies and research into the older writings indicate that for most of asari history, we were not unified – at all – until sometime after the War of Queens. That indeed siari itself was probably a construct put together by the Thirty at some point and used to integrate widely flung clans together, and despite the 'official history,' no trace of siari writings can be found in ancient asari documents.

The sutras of the justicars contained not one single reference to the mantras of siari – yet were supposedly written long after siari took hold. The mural-panels of the Vithae, carefully recorded by salarian archaeologists long ago, have been reexamined – and no trace of siari can be found in them, despite siari supposedly being influential in the work.

No, it is more likely the asari were no more unified than early humans. And what I will share from Trellani's discoveries is that this disunity is darkly ironic, as it seems – based on those same archaeological studies – that at one point, there were no Clans, no clanless, no Thirty, no ardats… just asari. And that the very division of my people that ultimately led to our downfall was instigated by the Thirty.

On the Public View of the Asari

It is ultimately a curious footnote in the history of my species that we were so successful at fooling the rest of the galaxy for so long due to alien biases rather than any effort on the part of the asari. That is to say, very few aliens – prior to the end of the Reaper War, that is – seemed to find anything wrong with the façade presented by the Asari Republic.

Humans, turians, salarians, drell – even volus – have long historical records of competing nation-states, of religious wars, of a deep-seated distrust of 'one world government' and fractious cultural commonality. Humans enslaved, killed, and hated over the pigmentation of skin. Drell murdered newborn babies and went to holy war over the shape of scales on the forehead. The main reason the gentle volus had to engineer a combat caste was the brutal annihilation of tens of thousands of volus in profit driven wars where your wealth was your only safety.

Yet the only large-scale warfare the asari admitted to having was the War of Queens. Everyone 'knew' the asari people were unified, peaceful, and wise. Not for us was internal squabbling.

The naïveté of my youth, where I also believed such lies, never fails to bring a smile to my face.

The asari were 'unified' only in the fashion that a master and his slaves are in harmony. Asari culture was designed – or shaped – over long millennia to corral all talent, wealth, and power in the hands of the Thirty. The Lesser Houses were both recruiting grounds for new blood and a management class to handle the day-to-day operations the Thirty could not be bothered with. Every technical or professional skill was restricted to the Clans, who were slavishly obedient in hopes of being adopted into a Lesser House or even a Greater one. And of course, the clanless were on the bottom.

Taken dispassionately, I am not seeing much difference in our ways and the sickening 'citizenship tiers' of the old Alliance, or the castes of the batarians. Unlike the turian meritocracy, there was no elevation based on true worth or skill – only one's ability to impress their betters. Unlike the volus margin castes, clever and hard work and dedication did not always reward one with promotion to better standings.

The aliens saw the clanless, for the most part, and were jealous of even that. The Republic did a good job of producing useful employment for the clanless. There was little unemployment, even in economic downturns. The idea of 'homeless' asari was ridiculous. Even the poorest of the clanless had a standard of living roughly on par with mid-tier Hierarchy citizens or Class III human ones.

There was little examination of what the clanless endured because it was not easily seen. Even the clanless were not really aware of it – of justicars deliberately going after strong clanless leaders, of the disgusting Nightwind framing innocents as ardat-yakshi to cover their own excesses, of the Dreaming Dancer cults abusing thousands of young maidens to fund their sick activities.

One only saw the beauty and glory of Thessia, the wave-cities of Anurne, the mountaintop Citadel of Clouds on Anistris. One only saw the endless fleets of merchant ships and warships, the art and song of the artisans, the glittering parties and revelry of siari celebrants.

My mother often wrote about the frivolity of asari culture. One passage, written after her time on Earth with humanity, stands out in my mind:

A warning to those who feel that the embrace of siari should be a life of beauty, joy, peace, and harmony. One cannot expect every day to be one that is enjoyable, nor should one be affronted when tribulations and darkness sweep across the bay of one's life.

It is easy to live when all is well, but it is very hard to grow, to learn, or to build upon one's soul in easy, halcyon days of joy. We all long for those times – laughter with our friends and beloved, the joy of a newborn's cries, the simple happiness of listening to our elders as they spoil their grandchildren.

Yet, those happy times do not armor the soul against loss and pain. When one has only endured the good things in life without cease, sudden tribulation will find them unprepared for what has happened. Do not endlessly chase joy. Do not assume that the sunrise will be free of storm clouds.

Siari is that all things connect – the bright and the fell, the good and the bad. Our current culture, our infatuation with surface images, our ability to ignore what we inflict upon our own people – these things are a rejection of siari.

I do not suggest that it is wrong to pursue happiness. I suggest it is wrong to assume that happiness is the default state of existence… and that it seems we spend more time pursuing the image of something, than asking ourselves what it costs us in our hearts, our minds, our dreams.

Is empty sexual release, rampant parties involving sordid chemicals and dubious alien practices, and a life of zero reflection and all moment to moment pursuit of 'joy' happiness? That is the mantra of the Dreaming Dancers, and if one wishes to live their life without point, one could make an argument for that.

Yet happiness, to me, is that which exists in abeyance of, not in ignorance of, heartbreak. One cannot find it in the arms of a random stranger in empty melding, but only in the arms of a lover. One cannot find it in the flashing lights of some party on the Citadel, but only in the warmth of family united.

It is a sad thing that the empty pursuits of the clanless, their only outlet, have somehow infested our entire society.

On the Clanless, Clans, and Lesser Houses

There have been many questions about the structure of old asari society. This is not surprising, as most asari who fled the Republic in the Reaper War were maidens – and young ones at that. At the wars end, less than a hundred matriarchs stood forth, and while I am sure there were thousands more… I suspect many of them died due to the sheer amount of bond-loss from dead family members and friends.

Amusingly, the new Asari-Human Alliance takes a dim view on prewar classifications. There are no 'formal' Clans, or clanless, and definitely no Thirty or Lesser Houses. Such things are simply not tolerated. Yet to deny the framework is still there is to deny biology – we were shaped to hold these roles and it will take millennia to fix that.

And thus, in the interim, while the Thirty have been nearly unmade by the Reaper War, and the Lesser Houses are a broken, spent force of less than five thousand souls, large numbers of the Clans managed to survive the fall of Thessia and have tried to maintain their specialist outlook.

Asari society has fragmented and coalesced and warped itself into a… parody of what it once was. Those few of us who were of the Thirty have cast aside any reins of power or claims of leadership, and yet the rest of our people are not so easily changed. While the clanless have taken up many roles denied to them by the Thirty in the wake of the war, the Clans resent this and what Lesser House members remain have attempted to form cliques of power and influence.

Amusingly, this posturing has produced nothing of real avail or purchase. While the Lesser Houses, perhaps, can be forgiven, the Clans puzzle me.

The Clans have clung tightly to traditions and cooperate only uneasily with the Asari-Human Alliance, most of them stubbornly attempting to rebuild and reclaim the ruins of Thessia. The reasons for this should be obvious, but again, it seems the outsider does not view the waters of the lake as whole, but only the placid surface.

In the old days, the Clans were perhaps the most restricted of the asari people, limited in who they could take as mates, what jobs they could pursue, and the like – and yet they were immensely proud, as they were held in esteem by the Thirty. The Clans were the holders of much of the technical know-how of the asari people. While most scientists were of the Thirty, engineers, doctors, construction types, technical workers, and almost every other creative or inventive field was restricted to the Clans.

A clanless who wanted to study medicine found no asari university would accept her. No hospitals or clinic would hire her. Almost no asari without a Clan background would even get any asari business. There were, I understand, some clanless with medical skills – Garrus's second mate, Melenis, was one such being. But such asari were not accepted within the Republic, and even Alliance asari would look askance at one and probably not use her services.

All the clanless were allowed to do was serve. They could be nurses, but never doctors. They could be repair techs, but never engineers. They could perform art, music, or other creative aspects, but almost none would be the managers of such acts. In most of the Republic, the clanless were the equivalent of Class I and II citizens – lower class and lower-middle class.

That the largest burden of taxation fell upon them should surprise no one. That the bulk of asari military, industry, and commerce was built upon the back of clanless labor, and yet the clanless rarely if ever benefited, should, again, shock no one. The Thirty designed every piece of our way of life to flow smoothly downwards, and while many of the Thirty and most of the Clans had matriarchs, it was a rare clanless to make the transition.

Clanless matriarchs were almost always alarmingly humble and sometimes fearful, and oddly enough, made up a very large percentage of asari fleeing the Republic for Aria's territory or the Alliance. They were wise enough to know that they were targets.

My mother met with many such clanless matriarchs, treating them with a grace and respect that seemed to surprise them. My aithntar (never one to like clanless) remembers asking Benezia why she treated them with such deference, and my mother's answer was, perhaps, chilling enough to illustrate all that was wrong with our society:

The Thirty dismiss the clanless as trash and detritus, the failed side-effects of elevating the asari people to greatness. The average clanless does not resent this, nor do they even see the problem – so long have they been placed into the role of the lesser that to question it seems not only pointless, but faintly scandalous.

The Thirty do not fear the Exodus because they worry human values will undo us. They worry because bondings allow the asari in question to really see from an exterior view how repressed and limited they are, and few indeed have proven willing to submit once more after bonding with the notoriously independent humans.

But beyond this is a greater issue. The society we all now enjoy is built upon layers of deference and interlocking measures of protection and control. If it is unfortunate the clanless are restricted from the levers of power or the halls of learning, the other shore of this is that they are not exposed to the ruthless aggression of those who would steal asari technology or biotic skills for their own use.

Wisdom is not knowing the answers to many things, but knowing the place from which it is unsafe to continue asking questions. To pity the clanless is to miss the point of why they exist, to champion their so-called 'rights' is to avoid the ugly outcomes such rights would involve.

The clanless matriarchs themselves know this. They are the strongest tool in keeping the discontent of the clanless at nothing more than mutters and the occasional Eclipse girl going to Aria. I treat them with respect and greet them because rare is the tool that accomplishes its task even when it is not in your hand.

I would like to believe my mother respected life and sacrifice. But many of her writings display a chilling lack of empathy in some cases, and this, I think, is one. To the Thirty, the travails and tribulations of the clanless didn't matter, and never would.

The events on Ilium during the Collector Incident should highlight the fears of the Thirty if the clanless became independent. If Trellani's information had been revealed, every asari world might have taken the same route. Billions – tens of billions – would have died.

Is it wrong of me to feel relief that so many horrid truths were kept sealed away? What purpose is there in bringing up the dark, ugly past, if all it will summon is pain and misery? Shepard says that only through remembering what we did wrong can we avoid such mistakes in the future, but I suspect the corruption of our people was something to be laid at the hands of parties other than the Thirty.

Asari Culture and Purebloods

It has often been wondered how, given the vast number of asari that never left their homeworlds, did we manage to only have offspring with alien mates.

The answer should be fairly obvious – for long centuries, they did not. Salarian mates were not, shall we say, ideal for most asari, and while quarians were closer, there were chirality issues to deal with. Turians were also affected by this. Drell were seen as exotic and desirable, but the asari are, at our core, an aquatic race, and humidity does not go well with drell.

I need not mention volus, or hanar, or vorcha…

That being said, prior to the discovery of humans, Thessia and the Core Worlds of the Republic boasted the largest alien populations in the galaxy. A full fourth of the beings on Thessia were not asari, and Menthis was unique in that there were more turians, krogan, and salarians living there than asari.

Many asari matrons engaged in what can only be described as sex tourism when they matured from maidens, an effort subsidized by the Republic, which provided transport, visa assistance, and even cultural guides when contacted.

The arrival of humanity only produced more of the same. Literally tens of millions of asari visited the tropical resort world of New Hawaiʻi, which the Systems Alliance cynically ran like some kind of factory brothel, paying young, single colonists to settle there and 'indulge' in dabbling with asari.

Of course, that does not mean asari everywhere did such things. Despite the 'public' declaration that purebloods were rare, such was the sort of lies the Republic engaged in all too often. There were plenty of pureblood children on Thessia, more on the colonies, and even more on the smaller settlements. The main tool in pursuit of this was proof that several ancestors had non-asari aithntars or fathers, which reduced the chance of ardat births to nearly zero.

One reason why the clanless were often so upset was the Thirty constantly pushing attempts to stamp out any such asari-asari breeding, when it was an open secret that they engaged in such things themselves. Much of the backlash against my mother and aithntar was due not to my birth, but to them acknowledging me and setting me as the successor to House T'Soni. Most purebloods, such as my half-sisters, were kept out of sight and their parentage made murky.

The Thirty did not want the clanless to engage in such things because they feared another tide of ardats, or so they claimed. I suspect the restriction of pureblood offspring from the clanless was also a high priority for the Justicar Order due to this worry. I've come across records from before the war that indicated even with all the initiatives put forth by the Republic, there were between fifty and sixty thousand ardat births a year.

The vast majority of these unfortunate beings were identified via gene testing prior to birth and aborted. Those who were not detected always demonstrated issues at puberty and were shipped off to the massive ice world of Gethan, where they were isolated in empty, cloistered monasteries guarded by justicars and worse. Millions of these poor souls were imprisoned there, on a world where the surface would kill krogan from exposure in under an hour. Escape was impossible.

Given the success the Asari-Human Alliance has had in mitigating the issues that ardats have, I have often wondered why the Republic did not mirror such things – drugs, conditioning, therapy. In my mother's works, I have found the troubling answer:

The demons of the nightwind and daywind are, perhaps, the Curse of Athame, for acts we committed long ago as a people. They are the ultimate image of fright and terror, the corruption and defilement of everything it is to be asari, to embrace siari.

The ardat cannot be as one with anything but herself. Her touch is poison, her love is lethal. I have seen ardats that are nothing more than murderous monsters, addicted to the rush of the agony they inflict on their unfortunate paramours. She is the very denial of siari, the rejection of the many for the self.

And yet, sadly, the ardat is also always alone. And in our society, that crushing solitude is more than likely what drives many to dark and vile places. For every ardat that is nothing more than a monster, I have seen two who kill themselves in horror at their first murderous melding.

And I have seen ardats who hate themselves and burn the very flesh from their azure and midnight, or lop off their very limbs, to encase themselves in cyberware and forget they could even bond or meld in the first place.

Ultimately, while there are many ways the ardat situation could be handled in a more gentle and loving manner, the Republic – or rather, the Thirty – has always turned its face from such waves. The reason for such is simple.

The ardat threat is useful.

It allows the excesses of the justicars, which I saw in my time with them. It justifies the brutality of repression and recollection teams. Fear of the ardat keeps the clanless from defying their masters, keeps the Clans from resentment at their own limited advancement.

Solving the ardat issue would not benefit the Thirty. And if it does not benefit the Thirty, the belief often seems to be it cannot possibly benefit the asari as a whole. To challenge this will see one accused of being an ardat (or worse, some kind of sick enabler) and few have the courage to do so.

Those who have spoken out against it end up silent, and I am old enough to read the message left by such acts.

The Triune Unity and the Black Blades

Reviewing all of the above illustrates that the asari people were not as monolithically joyful and unified as one would expect.

I am unsure why my parents decided to attempt to reshape the course of asari history and culture, but I do know it happened prior to my own birth. That means it had nothing to do with the things Trellani discovered, or humanity, or the horror of my mother's own research into Dilinaga.

I may not know the catalyst for their choices, but I can see the tapestry of events that led to it. My aithntar's fascination with combat and her blunt beliefs were shaped at some early age – perhaps by my varaithntar, a krogan known as the Red.

It is only through my connections to Clan Urdnot that I found out that Wrex and I are distantly related, something that always brings a smile to his face when Sara brings it up. But I digress.

The Red was an Urdnot who cast away his very name and clan out of disgust with the krogan people, deciding the model the krogan should shape themselves after was something more like the asari. I do not know many details of his relationship with my varaithserai, or grandmother. I do know that the Red passed along much of his personal philosophical view to Aethyta, and that she built upon that as she lived and endured her own life.

Benezia's shifting views seem to have come from, I believe, exposure to the ugly nature of the politics of the Thirty, and based on the information the Shadow Broker had on my family, the fact that her turian bondmate was probably murdered on the orders of the Thirty. I do not think my mother could prove any of this, but it left her in a position where she probably was more open to radical change than she would have been a century earlier.

My parents had a design to change the very nature of the asari people, one that was almost as audacious and breathtaking as it was flawed and in some ways nihilistic. Both my mother and aithntar had lost faith in the ability of the Thirty to lead the asari people to greatness, although I suspect the two had different frames of reference for the meaning of 'asari people.'

From what I have pieced together, the Triune Unity's primary focus and goal was to reinvigorate asari culture by turning its focus outwards rather than inward. While certainly self-reflection and the understanding of self were critical concepts in the Triune, the more focused point of this was to be able to apply one's inner understanding to external acts.

The Triune embraced a doctrine that called for robust and active leadership of the galaxy by the asari, not merely political and socially, but economically, militarily, and culturally. Rather than gently defer to the abilities of others, it attempted to take the core tenets of certain esoteric siari philosophies and apply them on a grand scale to galactic issues.

The most important of these was the focus on utilization of actual power rather than influence and suggestion to shape galactic events, and my aithntar's organization, the Black Blades, was the cutting edge of that plan. Trained as not merely biotic warriors, but heavily cross-trained combatants, the Black Blades would carve away the problems faced by the various independent colonies in the fringes of the Traverse, Black Rim, Silver Rim, and Volian Expanse.

Nearly two hundred such independent colonies – asari, salarian, turian, human, elcor, and a few others – lay scattered between the larger Citadel powers. By pushing the dangerous elements out of this space, the Black Blades would demonstrate asari prowess in fields we did not normally engage in. In the wake of this, the Triune Unity would sweep into the region, bringing trade, establishing Unity outposts, and basically laying down the framework for an asari-led overarching governmental body.

At the same time, the Unity's own preaching would make it more difficult to control the clanless by conventional methods. The Triune's acceptance of clanless as being 'just as good' as the Thirty was probably a sticking point for my aithntar, but the Black Blades and the Unity rarely worked directly together. And it was one reason why my mother's movement gained so much power so rapidly.

The Triune Unity was not merely an asari organization – Benezia had salarians, turians, drell, even a handful of volus adherents. More impressively, two of Athame's Godtalkers were also often seen listening to Triune preaching and interacting with Benezia. Although I do not know the details of why, I have long suspected the Godtalkers to have answered directly to Uressa, not to the Thirty or the Temple of Athame.

In the long run, the Unity did manage to shift asari perceptions a great deal, but drew the ire of the Council of Matriarchs. Ultimately, the confluence of events – my birth, the friction between Aethyta and several T'Soni house members, the financial difficulties and, of course, the ugly acts taken by the Black Blades in several campaigns – gave the Thirty all the ammunition they needed to try to take the Unity down.

My aithntar's sacrifice of her own plans, her position, and her bond with my mother neutered that strike before the Triune could be disbanded, but ultimately it did not matter. Without a more militant Republic, the larger aspects of my mother's plans were far more difficult to achieve. I suspect this is yet another reason why she pushed me towards politics and away from history and my Prothean studies – she quite possibly planned to use my pureblood birth as some kind of wedge issue with the clanless.

I am saddened that, even prior to having her mind warped by Nazara, my mother saw my life and my very existence as just another playing piece on the game board of the machination of the Thirty. I once had problems forgiving my aithntar for abandoning her. I do not feel that any longer – if a mother places her own goals and desires above the chance for their child to pursue their own dreams and happiness, I would question her fitness to be a mother.

In the final analysis, the Triune failed for many reasons. Reshaping the asari into a dominant, militant culture would not stop the rot in our society. It would put forth a direct challenge not only to the salarians, but the turians, and I cannot fathom why in the depths my mother or aithntar thought either would take that laying down.

Then again, given the ice-blooded nature of many of my aithntar's darker acts, she may have planned for the resistance to their plans from the Thirty to be resolved by STG assassins or Blackwatch actors. Too much of their ultimate ideas were never recorded, and in the last years of her life Aethyta only wanted to find some measure of peace, rather than contemplate her blood-soaked life.

A piece of my mother's writings, one of her last pieces before her fall from grace, still sends a shiver down my spine.

Many have commented on the nature of a species as its manifest voice. The salarian voice is one of external introspection, to see the facets of reality and manipulate them carefully with false cultures, false smiles, and spies. The turian's voice is found in the glory of battle, the joy of simple, almost primitive exultation in power and the feeling of a pack of baying hounds.

If the krogan had a unified voice, it fell into disuse long ago, most likely when Ganar and Urdnot became blood-enemies instead of allies. All that remains is the whispers of what could have been if the krogan had been handled more gently and with less cynical purpose.

Likewise, the voice of the volus is drowned in their endless pursuit of profits and safety, the drell in the hymns of their masters, and the quarians in the tears of their exile. They project nothing but the surface of who they are and what they live for.

The elcor and humans are the only races whose voice is unique enough to be held worthy of listening to, and despite the vast differences in the two races, their voice is identical – they will only view the universe through their own lens, not that of the stranger and the alien.

The asari voice, of unity, of siari, of supremacy through gentle guidance and the lies we drape over ourselves like fine robes, is faltering. We are a people who are exhausted, the long dance of years having sapped something vital and pure from us, replaced by the empty carnality of escape and the frustrated resentment of those too ignorant to see the danger beyond our borders.

It could be said that to change the voice of a people is to change their soul, but that matters not. Better the asari burn than we continue down this path. The reality of the galaxy is all others need our guidance, lest they harm not only themselves, but us.

If the voices of the others had any value, any perspective, then heeding them might have some point. But they do not. The salarians are broken inside, seeking some perfection they can never achieve, and one needs only glance at the Palavanus to see something is dreadfully wrong with the turian people as well.

The volus view might as well be meaningless, as money is merely a concept, and one that will neither strengthen your soul in times of darkness, nor shield from said darkness when it bursts full upon the shore like a tsunami. The drell are slaves, and their masters… dreamers of a dream I cannot fathom. But there is something wrong with that as well.

The asari are the only people who can change and shape this galaxy, to provide a foundation for the younger races to find themselves rather than end up like the shattered krogan, broken turians, outcast quarians, or whatever the Abyss is wrong with the batarians.

I place no value on the song of the morning-lark when it disturbs my needed rest. I hold no love for the mating call of the nexa when it kills my dartfish in the lake. What value, what need is there for the beauty of the xofia plant, when it chokes out the flamepear and the sindel tree that I need to eat to survive?

If there is one thing I admire about the krogan it is their direct and blunt nature when dealing with hard truth, and one of their sayings stands out. "There is no growth without suffering."

The human version is even more darkly ironic. "One cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs."