Author's Note: A lot of the Mass Effect Fanfiction (especially the Self-Insert Variety) tends to follows the canon story almost to the letter, and after reading 1 or 2 they get very same-y. I decided to spice things up with this fic by having the character become an different species entirely and starting ~200 years before Canon even begins.

What this fic is not, is the diary of an OP OC who can enact plans hundreds of years ahead of time and create the "perfect" strategy to unite everyone and save the Universe single-handedly. Canon will go off the rails, plans will fail, knowledge of obscure facts from the games will be forgotten and so the MC will not be able to just "scoop up" Prothean tech and build the crucible "from memory".

However, if the idea of starting on Illium in ~2000CE and exploring the backstories and origins of the major players such as Wrex / The Shadow Broker / Cerberus / Aria etc. is interesting to you, then this might be the fic for you. Although it starts a little slow, I will try keeping the pace relatively quick.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I hope you enjoy.

— AE —

Youth Academy 3, Nos Astra Slum District, Asari Corporate World: Illium, 04-04-2559 GS

Perspective - Student A11344829 of Academy 3 - Nyxeris - Asari Orphan - 54 years old

Nyxeris listened intently to her VI Instructor as it taught them Athame Mythology. The other orphans in her class did not have the same laser-focus as she had — most of them could ignore the harsh realities of their situation better than she could — but they all payed attention.

Like her fellow orphans, Nyxeris knew that how well she performed here could mean the difference between life and death. If she graduated at the top of her class, she could get a 200 year work contract with Armali Council developing high-end Omni-Tools. She would be stuck working 14 hour days the entire time without being able to change positions in the company, but she would be out of the dirty slums and living a happy, comfortable life on a 500 credit/hour wage.

However, Illium might boast of a "0% crime rate", but it was anything but a happy life for the bottom 10% of society. If she did poorly, she would probably end up like the "Escorts" back by the derelict warehouses. Getting 40 credits "a session" and spending it all on drugs, they didn't live to see Matron.

Asari biology might mean it takes her twice as long for her brain to fully develop, but the streets don't differentiate between species or ages. She had grown up fast living in the Slum District of Nos Astra.

"Terith," the VI Instructor stated in its stiff robotic voice. "It appears that your attention has lapsed. Can you explain the three main Aspects of the Athame religion and what they are known for?"

Terith was the tiny Asari seated next to her. Her skin was a blueish-teal as opposed to Nyxeris' deep blueish-purple — not that her looks concerned Nyxeris at all. Coming in at only just over 4 feet, the tiny Asari just looked like any other child from preschool. Being the youngest Asari in the class by far at only 20 years of age, Terith grated on Nyxeris' nerves immensely. The Academy was the equivalent to "High School" for other races, and Terith did not fit.

The young Asari stared at the ceiling and did not even look at the instructor when she answered.

"Sure, Ah can do that for ya. The three Aspects are: Athame, Janiri and Lucen; who're the namesakes of the planets in Parnitha, the Thessian home system. Athame's the matriarch of the whole thing and the goddess of prophecy and fate. Janiri's the goddess of seasons, storms, and agriculture. Lucen's the servant who asked Athame for pottery, forging, and biotics then spread it to the Asari. Lucen's also the Betrayer, who was refused the gift of prophecy from Athame and so attempted to steal it from Athame's holy silver jars and was punished for it."

"Those are the correct answers as well as insightful additional context! Good job, Terith!" the VI replied. It followed its response with what would be a warm smile had it not been clearly artificial. Its expression then suddenly turned neutral before it continued the lecture. It would not ask another question of Terith for another 5 minutes or so. Nyxeris and the rest of the class were now intimately familiar with how the VI's programming handled "genius" students which didn't pay attention in class.

'Why by the goddess is that little brat so damn good at this?!' she thought as she angrily clenched her fists. 'She doesn't pay attention, she is over thirty years younger than me yet she gets perfect on everything!'

"Can ya stop lookin' at me? It's creepin' me out," Terith whispered in her direction.

Nyxeris blushed; she did not even know she was glaring. Rather than give an angry retort in the middle of class and get in trouble, she turned away from her "rival". She found herself calming down as she remembered all the things the baby Asari was bad at.

'Well her language skills are awful and everyone hates her as much as I do so she's certainly not as perfect as she thinks she is. I've never even heard of an Asari being a loner until that freak.'

In Nyxeris' view, Terith did nothing worthwhile. She did not try to make connections with the other Asari, she didn't care about gossiping with friends or even making friends at all. It did not even seem Terith enjoyed anything — even school — despite how good at it she was. The girl's entire routine revolved around waking up, doing weird training exercises around the Orphanage, going to class at the Academy, reading things on her Omni-Tool and then going back to the Orphanage to sleep. Throughout it all, she always had the same indifferent expression on her face. Even their VI instructor had more emotion.

'I tried my best to make friends or at least understand her, but it's just not possible!' While she could consider herself a model student that could make friends with anyone and vowed to make the necessary 'connections' which would get her far in life, the freaky child 'prodigy' would not be one of them.

'Still… there were ways she could still be of use. If I-'

"Nyxeris," the VI Instructor stated in its stiff robotic voice, breaking her out of her thoughts. "It appears that your attention has lapsed. Can you answer this question?"


— AE —

Soon enough, class ended and they were let out into the yard outside of the Academy. Every square inch of Illium looked like the Asari Homeworld of Thessia, even the slums. Despite being one of the poorest sections on the planet, the lush wildlife was cultivated by a fleet of drones and VI caretakers. The building itself fitted seamlessly into the smooth lines of glass, plastic composite and metal that made up the majority of Illium architecture. The Illium corporate interests allowed a slum to exist out of necessity, but that did not mean it had to be a glaring eyesore in the city skyline.

The Academy would not release the students for another half-hour and so. This time was designed to "force" the students — especially the non-orphan ones — to form strong bonds with their other classmates; a time which ensured the Asari ways of cooperation and compromise would be instilled in every student. Something entirely unnecessary to any competent Asari in Nyxeris' opinion.

She had formed a tight-knit clique that encompassed most of her class decades ago and now held hegemony over the entire Academy's social sphere even in the upper-grades. She was, by far, the most popular student at the Academy, despite — or perhaps because — she was an orphan. She had little to lose and everything to gain by dedicating her life to the one part of her life that cost nothing: spending time with others and building connections.

'Of course, our own local freak refuses to use this time properly.'

Nyxeris sneered as she thought that, looking at the lone Asari sitting on the ground next to one of the far walls. Like always, he was reading something on her Omni Tool rather than do anything that would put her ahead in life.

Her closest three friends stood with her and looked in the direction Nyxeris glared. Reading her mood, the group fell back onto a typical conversation.

"Looks like The Freak is off by herself again."

"She doesn't even try to fit in. Do you see what she's wearing?!"

"By the goddess, you're right. Overalls?! At the least she could wear a one-piece batar-suit if she wanted to look 'blue-collar'."

"Not to mention I don't think I've ever seen her wear makeup… and she needs it, with those facial markings. I genuinely feel sorry for her. At least all of our facial markings blend."

"Her… unfortunate speech impediment doesn't do her well either. The adults seem to think it's cute, but she won't have very many career options if she doesn't get rid of it."

Nyxeris gestured them to be silent.

"Enough. Those are all just the superficial problems. If it was just that, we would be able to correct her problems the Asari way: with understanding and kindness. Unfortunately, it is her selfishness and arrogance that is the core of all those issues. That is why we have to keep trying to correct those parts of her."

"I don't think I could be as kind as you Nyx."

"Yeah, I honestly didn't know it was possible to hate someone as much as I hate Terith but if you really think she can change…"

"Nyx is so cool."

'Of course, they're right. I know my "corrections" won't work, but Terith is such an easy target. The more I try to fix her the more she pushes back and the better I look in the process.'

The four girls made their way to their youngest Asari peer.

"What are you doing over here, Terith. Could we join?" Nyxeris inquired.

"No," Terith replied. It seemed even she realized how little tact that had and added, "Ah don't think none of ya even know an FBA Coupling from a CBT Coupling… uh, no offense. Ah doubt any of ya have an interest in ship design and reading ain't exactly a "group activity" if ya know what Ah mean."

"N-no offense taken…" Nyxeris forced out between grinding teeth. 'She could stand to sound less like an ass.'

Nyxeris calmed down and got her composure back.

"Anyway, my friends and I have come here to — once again — ask you to join us in our group activities. As a fellow Asari, we did not think this needed to be spelled-out quite so explicitly but you are the only one here who is by herself. You are not going to get anywhere in life if you don't begin to expand your connections right now."

Terith had the gall to roll her eyes at her; like she wasn't doing her a favor just now. "Ah appreciate it — honestly Ah do — but it ain't needed. Ah do perfectly well on my own. Ah'll worry about "expandin' my connections" when Ah get older and have to worry about that sorta thing."

'That bitch! How dare she look down on me like that! She must honestly think my life is a joke. She honestly thinks she can just "make connections" later, like it's something easy to do? That creating a network of allies in this dog-eat-dog city is something easy?'

Nyxeris glared at the seated Asari and gestured aggressively towards the Academy Entrance.

"If you don't have people that can back you up, you're going to die out there. This isn't a game Terith! I'm giving you one last chance! If you don't start making friends, things will only end badly for you!"

Terith sighed and turned off her Omni Tool. "Look, Ah appreciate that ya care enough about me to work yourself up like this, but Ah don't want friends right now. So if ya could leave me be, Ah'd appreciate it."

It was the last straw. For her to spell everything out so clearly and have her good will turned down...

"Enough is enough! I've tried being your friend, I've tried riling you up, I've even tried threats." She turned to her friends who all nodded along with her. "You've all seen me work hard for this freak. Well, you just burned this bridge."

Before the smaller Asari could react, she walked up to her and kicked her hard in the gut. Her friends gasped, but Nyxeris ignored them. With Terith already sitting on the ground, the kick was made all the more worse; coming out more like a curb-stomp. The tiny Asari doubled-over with a cry before she began dry-heaving into the ground.

"Don't hate me for showing you how vulnerable you are without friends. If logic doesn't work, even I will be forced to use violence to show you the Asari Way."

She turned from her prone enemy and addressed her friends. "Tell everyone that no one is to make friends with her until she apologizes to me first. I did not want to get physical, but this is the only way she'll learn."

Her friends looked hesitant, but they all reluctantly nodded and began to disseminate the information. She smiled.

'If she can't be useful as an ally, then she will be useful as my enemy. With all my attempts, no one will be able to doubt my intentions, yet everyone will see the lengths I'm willing to go to succeed. No one undercuts my methods and authority. I will be successful by any means necessary.'

When the Academy finally was dismissed a few minutes later, Terith was nowhere to be seen.

That suited Nyxeris just fine.

— AE —

Codex Entry - Asari Biological Development

Transcript from Thessian Galactic Press - Asari Biology: Fact and Fiction

There has been considerable misinformation circulating on the exact capabilities of Asari at their various stages of development. While the three main ones: Maiden, Matron, and Matriarch, are common knowledge to most, many believe that this is an full and accurate depiction of Asari development. This is a mistake.

As many may know, the Maiden stage only begins at approximately 100 years of age. If that is the case, it is easy to question why Maidens seem so inexperienced at this age? After all, this "young" age encompasses the entire lives of other, shorter-lived species. If all Salarians or a Turians were to only accomplish what a typical Asari has in the first 100 years of their lives, their civilizations would have never even invented the wheel yet alone space travel. Therefore, to many people — and perhaps even for some readers — it is easy to conclude that Asari are simply "slow" or "inept". That the average Asari is intellectually inferior or simply lazy; that they squander their long lives through drug-fueled binges and casual sex.

This author would like to dismiss these claims with the true, scientific, facts.

Asari are not Krogan; their development is not quick. The points below are extracted directly from the latest information[1] from the Thessian Institute of Biological Science on the average Asari lifecycle:

Infancy (0 - 15): Bodily Control, Basic Cognitive Development (Object Permanence etc.)

Childhood (15 - 30): Language skills, Fine Motor skills, Preoperational, Egocentrism

Pre-Maiden (30 - 60): Basic Abstract Thought, Socialization, Self-Identity, morality, infatuation

Maiden (60 - 250): Risk-Taking, Inhibition, Sexual Promiscuity, Intense Curiosity

Pre-Matron (250 - 350): Self-Actualization, Full Cognitive Growth, Metacognition

Matron (350 - 650): Self-Sufficiency, Sexual Maturity, Motherly Aspirations

Pre-Matriarch (650 - 1200): Career Satisfaction, Peak Biotic Potential, Peak Neurological Growth

Matriarch (1200+): Biotic Actualization, Leadership Aspirations, Full Emotional Control

As the above developmental stages imply, there are limits to the skills and understanding an Asari can attain at any given stage of her life. These stages are similar to other species but instead occur over a longer span of time[2]. An Asari Infant cannot grasp the sciences just as an Asari Maiden cannot grasp the "bigger picture" or a Matron compete with a Matriarch in biotic power.

This is not a failing on the individual, but a largely biological adaptation developed through the natural evolutionary pressures on the Asari Homeworld. Without Maiden "naivety", the Asari would be slow to take action and fail to perform the great feats of heroics and self-sacrifice needed for the fledgling Asari species to survive. Without their development into Matrons to settle down, the next generation would become increasingly more aggressive. This was the evolutionary path which lead to the Krogan: longer life and quick maturity at the expense of the peace and stability of a more slowly-changing species. Without the Matriarch, society would have no clear path to follow and Asari society may have never developed at all, instead being content to live insulated and comfortable lives without purpose.[3]

Likewise, the long growth periods in the pre-Maiden stages are biological and evolutionary necessities to safely and effectively absorb the Element Zero which allow "biotics".[4] This adaptation greatly increased Asari survivability and lead to a Golden Age of biological development including the ability to walk on land, an increased brain capacity and much longer lifespan. While modern cybernetic "wetware" or "Biotic Amplifiers" allows safe adaptation of biotics to occur more quickly in other species, the natural evolutionary process which lead to the Matriarch is still the peak of biotic potential.[5]

In conclusion, while it might be easy to point to a 100 year old maiden as proof of Asari mental inferiority or resource-waste, remember that their adulthood is only beginning. Give that maiden a mere 50 years and she can become a pinnacle member of her chosen field just as any other race[6] and as many as 60% of 300 year old Matron specialists rival the top 0.01% of any other species in their chosen fields.[7] While the investment is large and the progress is slow, an investment in a Maiden is one worth making.

[1] T. T'Goni et al., "Asari Developmental Lifecycle," Thessian Journal of Medicine, vol. D9418-44, pp. 4482, 2559 GS.

[2] M. Yaris, "Cognitive Development - A Comparison of the Council Species," Thessian Institute of Cognitive Science, Public Extranet Lecture, ver. 2.2.8, 2543 GS.

[3] S. Nuwari et al., "The Purpose of Matriarchs," Asari Traditions and why they have them, pp. 15-25, 2511 GS.

[4] D. Iallis, "Biotics," Asari Biology: Element Zero and the Evolutionary Process, pp. 8-12, 874 GS.

[5] F. B'Sala, "Biotics - A Comparison of the Council Species," Thessian Institute of Biology, Public Extranet Lecture, ver. 1.4.1, 2493 GS.

[6] N. Dantius, "Early Life," Biography of the Youngest Asari Diplomat, 03-2516 GS

[7] C. Korlack, "Why Asari dominate the fields of Math and Science," Vol Protectorate: Statistics on Foreign Markets, Report D, vol. 4022, no. 18, pp. 419-424, 2534 GS.