I do not own Mass Effect or any of it's characters. Just exploring the possibilities.
"In my hand, I carry the weapon that will rebuild our future. I carry the hope of generations. I carry the key to our legacy. The quarian race will be reborn." They cried out her name. Men, women, and children. "The geth have driven us to scavenge for our survival, forcing us to live in squalor, in this slum of a fleet. Long ago, the galaxy turned its back on us as our home burned. Our ancestors were slaughtered at the hands of the tools they had created. The Council spat on us, beat us down. For three hundred years we have lived in exile. But today, I come to you with the power to take back what is ours: our rightful place in the galaxy. With this, I will bring the geth to their knees, and they will once more bow down to their rightful masters. The galaxy will tremble as they see how the meek have inherited their former glory. There will be retribution for those allowed to suffer and die at the hands of this galaxy. Our ancestors. Our children. There will be no mercy, no negotiation. We will give no quarter. There will be no retreat. Never again will we be forced to run, forced to hide. There will only be justice for those whose backs were broken and their suits ripped from their flesh. There will be a bloody reckoning, and the tools that were once our butchers will return to their rightful place as our vengeance!" A transcendent chorus of jubilation greeted her words. They loved her. But fear was present as well. She didn't care, they served her. They were her toys. She had always had the best toys. She didn't need to be afraid with them around her. She didn't need to be that scared girl in the dark all those years ago. She would return to Council space with an armada, and the skies would burn with the ships of anyone foolish enough to stand in the way of her conquest. She would once more see the lights of Omega, and it's inhabitants would fear her, as she had once feared them. Never again would she run. Never again would she hide. Never again would she kneel. She would storm into Terminus with a firestorm of hot death and relentless vengeance. There would be a reckoning. For her people. For her ancestors. For her.
They cried out her name. Men, women, and children.
"The geth have driven us to scavenge for our survival, forcing us to live in squalor, in this slum of a fleet. Long ago, the galaxy turned its back on us as our home burned. Our ancestors were slaughtered at the hands of the tools they had created. The Council spat on us, beat us down. For three hundred years we have lived in exile. But today, I come to you with the power to take back what is ours: our rightful place in the galaxy. With this, I will bring the geth to their knees, and they will once more bow down to their rightful masters. The galaxy will tremble as they see how the meek have inherited their former glory. There will be retribution for those allowed to suffer and die at the hands of this galaxy. Our ancestors. Our children. There will be no mercy, no negotiation. We will give no quarter. There will be no retreat. Never again will we be forced to run, forced to hide. There will only be justice for those whose backs were broken and their suits ripped from their flesh. There will be a bloody reckoning, and the tools that were once our butchers will return to their rightful place as our vengeance!"
A transcendent chorus of jubilation greeted her words. They loved her. But fear was present as well. She didn't care, they served her. They were her toys.
She had always had the best toys.
She didn't need to be afraid with them around her. She didn't need to be that scared girl in the dark all those years ago. She would return to Council space with an armada, and the skies would burn with the ships of anyone foolish enough to stand in the way of her conquest. She would once more see the lights of Omega, and it's inhabitants would fear her, as she had once feared them. Never again would she run. Never again would she hide. Never again would she kneel. She would storm into Terminus with a firestorm of hot death and relentless vengeance.
There would be a reckoning. For her people. For her ancestors. For her.
Daro'Xen nar Khalos had never experienced the desert. The sand beating against her visor was a new sensation, certainly an unwanted one; one of many she had learned to endure on her Pilgrimage. Caleston was, without doubt, the most unpleasant world she had visited. Entire plains of molten sulfur, sandstorms that blocked out a distant sun, towering foundries populated by dirt-crusted miners, one would be hard pressed to find a less hospitable "garden world" outside of the Krogan DMZ. It almost made her miss the fleet. If it wasn't for the unusual abundance of raw materials, she would not have bothered. The capital of Syneu was home to the very foundries that made this world the largest source of drive core material in the Traverse. Just a small shipment to bring home to the Flotilla would be enough for any captain to offer her a place in their crew. Walking through the streets of the capital, volcanic air carrying more heat than even her suit could compensate for, she could see the looks of disdain she received from the miners through the clouds of dust, all of them covered in a layer of dirt thick enough to choke a drell. Humans. She had heard of them. Newcomers to the galaxy, welcomed to the Citadel after their war with the turians. Apparently, it didn't take much for an entire race to choose to hate her own. It was a sentiment she was growing increasingly accustomed to.
Soot-stained spires stretched into the sky above her as she walked, the concrete pavement worn smooth by the constant breeze of sand. A furnace-hot gale blew through the street as she walked, her mother's shawl wrapped around her billowing in the wind. A cruel reminder that she would never feel that breeze on her skin. Not that she was overly fond of the idea of being drowned in sand, however, the fact that it was denied to her at all felt infuriating. Daro pulled her black veil around her helmet, keeping the strong wind from blowing it away. Turning on the magnetic clasps on the back of her helmet, the hood locked back into place, fixed into it's proper position. She wore perhaps more cloth than was necessary, keeping more of her suit covered than most women her age would. Despite having their looks sealed away behind curtains of fabric and layers of armor, many quarian women often decorated their suits to best bring out their femininity. Daro dressed to keep the dirt off and best protect her petite form. A practical approach inherited from her parents. Her style of dress had never been mainstream, but she had never felt a need for it to be.
The youngest of the Xen family had never much cared for the opinions of others. She had grown apart from her peers through her childhood, shunned by those who never took the time to know her. Even if there was admittedly something morbid about dissecting and re-engineering a childhood toy, could she be blamed for her curiosity, her desire to be like her parents?. What could be more natural than a child who is curious about the world around her, who wants to be like the people who loved her? Her natural affinity for technology only made that more reasonable, as well as her parents proud. Daro had always received top marks, a prodigy in biology and cryptology.
Daro's mind turned to thoughts of home. The opinions of the people who knew her were the only ones that mattered, not that there were many who could claim such. A smile spread across her lips as she thought of Shen'Reth. The young man behind a crimson visor had always been quick to defend her when they were children. She could never figure out why, but he was always kind to her, treating her like an equal and not some duct-dweller who spent all her time taking things apart with her play scalpel. He was a good friend, her parents welcoming him into their home like one of their own. Part of her was sad to see him left behind when she left the Khalos. He was the only person she really had left to talk to, after what had happened to…
Daro's hands absent-mindedly brushed the black cloth she wore over her envirosuit, sending small clouds of dust and sand off of her shoulders. The shawl and the ornamental armor that decorated her slight frame was all she had left of her parents, an accident in the labs of the Khalos tearing open the hull and ejecting them into space. Such was the life of a quarian; living in constant fear that your home might abandon you to the great empty void. It was weeks before they had retrieved the bodies. A lonely funeral was held only a few days before she left home. It was a short ceremony where the daughter of two of the fleet's greatest scientists barely felt welcome. Daro'Xen, the outcast in a family as big as a city.
Pulling her cloak tighter around her small frame, the young quarian continued her solemn march, her head held down. She missed them so much. In a world where comforts were nearly forbidden, they had always been there to offer her a hand or words of encouragement. Daro had never had many friends growing up. She never really cared to make any. She had everything she needed in her cubicle. Two parents that loved her. What more could someone want?
Letting herself get pulled into the undertow of memory, Daro could perfectly recall the first time she had seen her father's face. One of the other children had called her ugly out of frustration from being locked inside his new fabric prison. Children new to the suit often had a hard time adjusting, and Daro had simply been the easiest target for this particular child's aggravation. She had also only gotten her suit recently, and as a result of being the oddball of her ship, was left feeling very insecure. The young girl had spent the better part of that day quietly sobbing, alone, afraid that the helmet that incased her head was a punishment from her parents for being hideous. The thought that she had offended her parents had left her distraught. Daro's father had returned from his experiments early that day to find his only child huddled into a ball on the bed, sniffling into the sheets.
Daro's eyes closed as she remembered every detail of the memory, letting it engulf her. She often let herself become enraptured in old memories. They gave her focus, helped her find the strength to continue her Pilgrimage. Memories of her parents were often her happiest. Her father had reached for the clasps that undid her visor, gently setting it aside. He had called her beautiful. Reaching for his own mask, he pulled it aside, showing her his face for the first time she could remember.
He had gladly taken the sick days for it.
Daro felt a hollow feeling in her gut settle. She continued walking down the scorching stretch of urban decay, trying her best to shrug it off. It was hard to take in that her parents were gone. Going off on Pilgrimage so soon after their passing had not done much for her self-esteem. Now that her parents were gone, it was like the flotilla wanted her to disappear. Shaking her head in defiance, Daro let her lips slide into a sly smile.
She would make her parents proud, and to hell with anyone who got in her way.
Making her way deeper into the settlement, bright neon signs reflected off Daro's visor, welcoming to any who wished to venture into the various businesses and shops. One of the shops had a small paper sign hastily taped to the door. "No quarians". The lone wanderer felt a pang of disgust. Welcoming to all but her, it would seem. She wasn't interested in anything for sale here anyway, nothing here would be enough. Paltry scavenging would not make them proud of her, would not make the fleet accept her. Everywhere she went, she found signs of Eldfell-Ashland Energy, the corporation behind all the mining and shipping of raw materials on Caleston. Brokering a deal for a shipment to be sent to the flotilla was her best choice. The Migrant Fleet would pay for it, provided they could get it cheap enough. Daro hoped to haggle with someone on behalf of her people, a grand gift for the fleet. Glancing around, she approached a stand in the markets, a man with streaks of grease and oil staining his skin and clothes greeting her by way of an irritated snort.
"Excuse me, could you tell me where I can find the Eldfell-Ashland building?" Daro kept her voice cool. Best to be polite and keep things civil.
The man looked her up and down as though inspecting some new form of insect he had discovered. He turned away, spitting a brown stream of something he had been chewing onto the dirt-encrusted concrete before speaking to her through yellowed teeth.
"They ain't gonna hire ya, y'know. Best turn yerself 'round, bucket."
The usual unpleasantness. Daro sighed through her voice modulator, her patience already wearing thin.
"I don't need them to hire me, I just need to speak with them."
The man sneered at her as he pointed towards one of the soot-stained spires in the distance, the silhouette barely visible through the clouds of dust.
"Right there. Now get away from my stand, the customers don't like yer kind puttin' yer funny little hands all over my stuff."
Daro swallowed her pride as she walked away from the pile of scrap and salvage the man called his stand. He wasn't worth her time. She had been shunned and cast out her entire life. What was one more insult?
Walking through the streets of Syneu, Daro saw that even the metropolitan districts of Caleston were more like slums. Shadows stretched oppressively over dirt-crusted streets as black clouds of soot were pumped into the dark sky, swallowing up a distant sun. Her feet were ankle-deep in volcanic ash and sand as she came to the foot of the Eldfell-Ashland building. The towering spire made her seem even less significant in it's monolithic enormity. Daro looked up at the colossal building, her eyes narrowing into a sharp glare. She would not be intimidated. She was a proud daughter of the Fleet.
The doors opened with a soft hiss, the cold, conditioned air of the building immediately rushing to meet her. Her suit's environmental controls immediately compensated for the dramatic change in temperature. The lobby was immaculately clean, an outstanding achievement in and of itself. Had she been more self-conscious, she might have laughed at how strange she looked, a quarian dressed in a ragged shawl trailing dust and sand with her entrance. The secretary sitting behind her sleek desk stared at her like she was a two-headed varren. Daro approached the desk, more dust and sand drifting off of her as she walked.
"I would like to speak with whoever is in charge of shipping contracts. Particularly for drive core materials."
The secretary slowly raised an eyebrow as Daro'Xen spoke, placing her manicured fingernails on the desk with an audible clack.
"Ma'am, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
Now it was Daro's turn to raise a brow.
The secretary sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose as her words came out in a condescending tone.
"Whoever you are, I can guarantee you that you have no business here. Please don't make me call security."
Daro's arms crossed over her chest, leaning back on one leg as she glared at the human. Just her luck. Were there any aliens on this ancestor forsaken rock who would at least talk to her without disgust? Was that too much to ask?
Of course it was.
"Is this the part where I'm supposed to be intimidated? You humans have a very limited understanding of other races, it seems. I will not be turned down simply because you are too ignorant to understand the importance of my mission."
"I understand that you are not supposed to be on this property. I understand that you are thief and a vagrant. Now I'm going to ask you to leave one more time before I call security."
"Thief? The only thief here is you, stealing my time and wasting it. I have important business your supervisor would be interested in, now let me speak with him."
The secretary's omni-tool flared to life as she pressed a holographic key, without doubt sending an alarm to security. Within scant seconds, two men armed with metal rods emerge from one end of the lobby. Daro sized them up immediately, as her Pilgrimage training had taught her, months of grueling exercise and practice honing her into a warrior of the fleet. Her mind had always been sharp, now made sharper by the spear slung over her shoulder, a M-6 Lancer Assault Platform. Her adversary's simple uniforms lacked kinetic barriers, easy prey for her rifle. Their barbaric cudgels stood no chance of breaching her suit, unless they struck her visor. The weight of the assault rifle she carried under her shawl pressed down on her, calling out to her, almost with a hunger all it's own. Killing them would be child's play, but pointless. Even if she killed them, she couldn't win here. She would conserve her bullets for another day, not caring to waste them in such a fruitless endeavor.
Daro turned to the secretary, glaring at her through her pale visor before racing out of the office building. Dust and sand kicked up as she raced down the sweltering streets, the thick footfalls of the security guard's boots on her trail beating into the dirt behind her. Xen slid on the thick layers of dust as she turned a corner, diving into the shadows of a derelict alleyway. The unwitting humans ran past as she hugged the wall, leaving her in the silent shadows. Alone in the darkness. Somehow, it felt comforting.
Daro leaned her back against the wall, slowly sinking to sit in the accumulated dust and sand. Her silver eyes surveyed her miserable surroundings. Was this her lot in life? To wander her entire life alone? Even if she returned, would she ever be home? An outcast among outcasts? To be reviled and shunned? That hollow feeling crawled back into her gut before she shrugged it off. It didn't matter what anyone thought of her. She was proud to call herself a quarian and proud to call the Flotilla her home. She would bring back a mighty gift, from this miserable besotted world or some other remote corner of the galaxy. All she needed was to let her ancestors guide her steps.
Daro slowly got to her feet, a powerful gale of sand tearing through the alleyway as she wrapped her shawl around her. Her steps were shuffles at first, weakly trudging through the sand. Determination slowly returning to her feet, the young quarian walked defiantly out into the harsh wind, her back straight and her head held high.