One of the many things I calmly and rationally ranted about regarding the lack of Mass Effect Andromeda DLC involved the Quarian Ark. Within the game, there are numerous mentions of a fourth ark that never arrived in Andromeda. It contained the quarians willing to give up the dream of their home planet for a fresh start somewhere new. And why wouldn’t they want that? They haven’t had a homeworld for centuries, and surely some are dying to get off the flotilla.
The mystery behind their missing Ark went up in flames almost the same moment the game’s review embargo broke. BioWare later said that they would fill out some of the unsolved mysteries with books. They’ve released two books previously that had nothing to do with any open-ended issues. Finally, with Mass Effect Andromeda: Annihilation by Catherynne M. Valente, we have our book about the Quarian Ark.
Halle-frickin’-lujah, am I right?
Oh and this is a fantastic tale, too. We learn what horrors befell the ship, and we get to meet an elcor who is so obsessed with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he changed his name to Yorrick. That fact alone makes this the best darn book I’ve ever read.
A Quarian, a Drell, an Elcor, a Volus, a Hanar, and a Batarian Walk Into a Bar
In case you missed it being hammered over your head two or thirty times, the trip from the Milky Way to Andromeda takes over 600 years. That’s a considerably long time to trust a ship to take care of all inhabitants in cryostasis. Throughout the journey, various Sleepwalker teams (consisting of one member from each race) wake every so many years and check ship maintenance, how their particular pods are doing, eat together, tell stories (I assume), and go back to sleep. Rinse and repeat. But of course, this story isn’t a usual one regarding a routine Sleepwalker rousing and maintenance.
The ship woke this particular Sleepwalker team early and rather forcefully. They weren’t allowed time to thaw slowly and rouse gently. Instead, the ship insta-defrosted them and pumped them full of stims so they could be awake and alert five minutes. The ship’s AI insisted something was wrong and required their attention, but whenever they asked the ship what was wrong, it would only reply that all was well. The best part of this whole scene was the elcor Yorrick, who had more stims than he’d had in his entire life and it made him rather drunk. He couldn’t keep his thoughts under control, and he had difficulty not walking into walls. Imagining a hyper, yet drunk elcor will never stop being funny.
But yes, something is indeed wrong, as quite a few drell and hanar are dead in their pods. This ragtag group consisting of a crime boss, a detective, a tech genius, an ENT doctor, a religious fanatic, and a fashionista has to get through their inherent racial biases to find out
- What killed these people; and
- Why the ship says everything is fine when it clearly is not.
In fact, when they ask the ship about the dead drell, the ship calmly replies that they’re alive, well, and happily resting in their cryopods. No matter what they ask the ship, it says everything is fine. It doesn’t even detect flaws in temperature or the fact other people are randomly waking up when they should not be.
What is it with Quarians and Viruses?
Senna’Nir vas Keelah Si’yah works on the ship, which is undoubtedly sabotaged by a virus, while Yorrick and a fantatical hanar perform autopsies on a couple of bodies. The drell detective, the crime boss batarian, and the volus seamstress work together to find every little thing Senna and the others need to solve their respective mysteries.
Yorrick learns that he too is also dealing with a virus, one that was manufactured specifically for drell, voli, elcor, hanar, and batarians. They didn’t have to engineer it for quarians, because it only takes a suit breach for them to get sick.
So viruses have infected both the ship and its various inhabitants. That’s definitely not a coincidence. Best part is that in the later stages of the disease, it causes madness and extreme aggression. As people are spontaneously waking and contracting the virus, mass riots break out, the hanar proclaim this is the End and rejoice in it, and there’s general mass hysteria. Murder. Fires. Theft. The usual.
So that’s how it goes, right? That’s why the Ark never made it to Andromeda—someone sabotaged the Ark and they ended up killing one another. Makes complete sense.
Except that’s not what happens. Without getting into major spoilers, they solve all the mysteries, fix everything, and go back into their pods. I’d question something else might have happened to them, except there’s this one subtle phrase at the very end:
Years later, when Senna’Nir remembered this…
That suggests another waking, does it not? The Quarian Ark eventually made it to Andromeda, probably after Ryder defeated the kett, correct?
So. Once again. Since the Ark remained on course, where is it? Are we ever going to find out? Ugh, I feel another rant coming on. At least you can say you know half of the rest of the story.