Community Corner: Mass Effect Lore – Asari

Community Corner

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Mass Effect Lore: Episode 6 – Asari

by Adam Clark

To most races of the galaxy, biotics are a new and unexplored concept, requiring the infusion of sometimes dangerous amounts of Eezo directly into the host. Talented biotic individuals have spent their lives honing their skills through neural implantations, vigorous training in dedicated academies, and in extreme cases; bodily experimentation. Even with total commitment, no sapient species’ are natural adepts in the use of biotics other than the Asari.

Native to the planet Thessia, the Asari are an all female race with a natural lifespan of one-thousand years. A typical Asari has a blue or purple complexion, though in extremely rare occurrences, teal skinned Asari have been spotted. Rigid cartilage-based scalp crests grow on the top of an Asari’s head rather than hair. These cranial formations have earned the Asari nicknames like “tentacle heads” and have spawned rumors that the growths can “flop around”. Contrary to their physical differences however, the Asari tend to sexually attract several other species. Krogan males will often attempt to coax an Asari into mating since their reproductive system is combatable and has no trace of the Genophage. This will always produce another Asari, but the Krogan will still claim the offspring. Unfathomably, even an asexual Salarian male can sometimes develop a slight attraction to an Asari.

When Asari reproduce they engage in a unique process known as “melding”. During the melding an Asari will attune her mind to that of her bond mate, sending and receiving electrical impulses directly through the skin.  Melding can also be used for non mating purposes. An Asari can use this technique to witness her partners past experiences, genetic heritage, or subconscious memories. Asari can successfully meld and mate with most other intelligent races. The term “pureblood” was coined when Asari began reproducing with non Asari, it signifies a child that is born of two Asari and is usually negatively implied.

Asari advance through three stages of their millennia long lives. The first stage is the Maiden stage, in which a young Asari begins puberty and feels the need to explore beyond the confines of her home. Many space stations that house bars and nightclubs will employ exotic Asari dancers that are currently in the Maiden stage of life. The Matron stage usually begins at the age of three hundred and fifty. Matron Asari will feel the need to settle in one location and prepare to raise children. The final and most respected stage of Asari life is the Matriarch stage. An Asari will begin to exhibit traits of a Matriarch around her seven hundredth year of life. Matriarchs fulfill the roles of sages and councilors in the community due to their years of experience.

Thessia’s history is not written in blood like many other home planets of the council races. The Asari have a remarkably peaceful history before the Rachni Wars. Because the Asari are primarily democratic in nature and prefer to handle power struggles politically, Thessia has been called the “apex of democracy”. To other races, Thessia may seem like a sanctuary of harmony, but some see it as soft or a death trap if a galaxy wide conflict were to occur.

There is an extravagant temple on Thessia dedicated to the goddess, Athame. In ancient Asari history, Athame was the goddess of fate and matriarch of Asari culture. When an Asari says “by the Goddess” she is referring to Athame. The Asari have since moved away from Athame worship, but the illustrious temple on Thessia is still kept in pristine condition and often visited by the Asari.

As biotic skill grows among the Asari, some of the most advanced biotics are recruited into the military as Commando units.  Usually in the Maiden stage of life, Asari Commandos are placed in small teams that employ guerilla tactics in battle. Commandos also often serve as mercenaries or bodyguards for distinguished Matriarchs.

The most elite warriors of the Asari are known as Justicars. A Justicar holds no loyalties to the military, family, or even themselves. When a powerful Asari takes an oath known as the Oath of Subsumation she casts off her family and is bound by the Code of the Justicar. The Code forbids a Justicar to have family or personal property other than armor and weapons. The duty of a Justicar is to punish the wicked and protect the innocent even at the cost of her own life. Justicars try not to be too curious about any developing situations; they try to see every individual’s actions as good or evil and render judgment accordingly. A Justicar may take another oath called the Third Oath of Subsumation if she wishes. This oath pledges her absolute loyalty to someone and even overrides the Code of the Justicar. If a Justicar is in another’s service and must carry out dishonorable tasks, the Code requires that she kills the one she swore the oath to after being released. Justicars are not considered above the law like Council Spectres, however most law enforcement will allow a Justicar to carry out their work out of respect, or possibly fear. Justicars are revered in Asari culture as defenders of the weak, but where there is light there is always darkness.

About one percent of Asari purebloods suffer a genetic condition that alters their entire nervous system. Those affected by this affliction are known as Ardat-Yakshi or “Demon of the Night Winds” in old Asari Dialect. When mating, an Ardat-Yakshi will completely overtake her mate’s nervous system, dominating every aspect of their being. For the victim, the outcome is brain hemorrhaging and usually death as the assailant grows stronger and deadlier with each encounter. This is an extreme case however, most Ardat-Yakshi do not kill their mates during the melding, they are simply unable to reproduce and their mates will enter a comatose state. Even Ardat-Yakshi who do not embrace their condition are addictively compelled to mate, increasing their power and endangering others.  When an Asari is identified as an Ardat-Yakshi, she is given a choice: exile or death.

Monasteries have been constructed to house Ardat-Yakshi who choose a life of exile. They are not allowed to leave the monastery without constant supervision, but are also not considered prisoners. They are trained to suppress their natural urges, given instruction in the skills of their choosing, and ample recreational activities. Ardat-Yakshi who go into hiding after being identified are considered criminals of the highest order. If a rogue Ardat-Yakshi were allowed to mate unchecked for hundreds of years, increasing her power every time, she would undoubtedly become far more lethal than any Commando or Justicar the Asari have ever seen.

The Asari tend to act as though they are above other species because of their long lives, and innate ability with biotics; likely due to Thessia’s naturally abundant quantity of Element Zero. Having found the Citadel first, some Asari assume diplomatic control even after the formation of the council with the Salarians and the Turians. The Asari have climbed their way to the top of almost every official and unofficial hierarchy in the galaxy, but for someone to sit at the top, someone else must always be at the bottom.

An entire race of nomads, exiled from their home planet must live on wayward ships, unable to survive in any alien environment. Entire generations spend their lives in full body protective suites, living in constant terror of infection and disease, but that is a story for another day.

— Adam Clark