The Path Ahead is one of the retrospective articles prepared by CDN members to illustrate the events and changes that occurred during the year following the Reaper War.

The Path Ahead

by Matriarch Epentha, Chancellor, University of Serrice

Once, it was held that Thessia was the crown jewel of the galaxy - a world of peace, of joy, and of prosperity. When the Reaper War came to our home, all that was taken from us, and the path back is long.

It is one Thessian year now since the Artarva Project was completed. Artisans and engineers, with little more than salvaged tools and ancient transmitters, built and launched the satellites that let us hear one another’s voices from pole to pole of our homeworld once more. Their achievement, rising from the ash and ruin of the machines’ visitation, will rightly be seen by history as the first of many beacons lighting our way back to the Thessia that was our dream - but none of us will forget the terrible moment of awakening it afforded us that day, as we each lifted our eyes from our own personal struggles and saw - not heard of, or learned about, but saw - the vast wounds inflicted upon our precious jewel.

We all remember, and always shall. Our cities, our guilds and schools, reduced to rubble, from the Daylight Vale in the north to the Firewater in the south, a pattern repeated over and over - no mere random act of murderous vandalism, but the calculated assassination, on a terrible scale, of our people’s wisest sages and councillors. The crops that once fed us in harvest after bountiful harvest now ash, scattered across bare, blackened fields and shattered reefs. Our most courageous defenders slain, huntresses, commandos, and Justicars all. And most tragic of all, our dream for ourselves - our hopes and beliefs in what it is to be asari - laid bare as nothing but a dream, as we understood at last the cost of our complacency and pride, not merely to ourselves but to all the galaxy’s people, all those we once entreated to believe we and they were one people, only to fail them in their hour of greatest need.

We despaired. We saw what had been done to our world and our dreams, and darkly, selfishly, in our despair we wished we had remained ignorant.

But the gifts given us by a kind universe do not vanish simply because we choose to forget them. Even as the Artarva engineers’ efforts showed us how terribly we had been hurt, they returned to us our greatest strength: each other. Where an asari wept, now there was always another to hold her; where one stumbled, there was another to take her hand and help her up. In our grief, we are united, and united, we find the courage to hope.

Life and the promise of bounties return to our fields and reefs, as the Reaper crop blights are lifted - the tiny invaders defeated, in their masters’ absence, by the hard work of our scientists and farmers, and by the resilience of nature herself, reminding us that we are not Thessia’s only children, nor her only stewards. Where once we despaired of feeding our own, now we can look forward with confidence to the day we begin repaying the generosity of those sister worlds whose shipments prevented famine.

The legacy of those brave souls who fought for us - who had no way of knowing the Reaper juggernaut would ever stop, let alone with such shocking suddenness, yet who stood firm and gave their lives even knowing they could buy us mere days, in the end - has been taken up by a new generation of huntresses. With so few remaining, old warriors who had thought their days of service long past have returned, to serve now as mentors to the young, courageous volunteers who, even having seen what it cost their elder sisters, would place themselves between their beloved home and the desolation of war. Those who called them a shadow of an army, their new, automation-heavy weapons and vessels untried and inadequate, were silenced when they defeated the Tichon Raiders off Tevura. Even the Justicars, whose unswerving devotion to their duty came at so terrible a cost, have found successors, whose commitment to the Code will honor us all as their predecessors’ did.

Where the Reapers left blackened ruins, now our artisans lay down new mosaics in the courtyards and plazas where our children play and our sisters meet in the sunlight reflecting from new spires reaching into the sky. Roads and rails once more reach across the lands, spanning rivers and gulfs with graceful bridges, while our rivers and oceans welcome back their fleets of ships and pleasure craft, and the sky glitters with ships and maanru. The bright web of opticables and satellites reaches out once more - and will be augmented with quantum technology, so that it might never be broken again - uniting more settlements with every passing day in the network of shared ideas and hopes for the future that so defines us as a people. And as once again our voices are heard, our reflections on our past mistakes offer us hope that, in our humility, we may find the path to truly realize what we once dreamed, to share the harmony and cooperation we so cherish with all the people of the galaxy.

Once, our world was a jewel, and the path back is long. But we are asari, who have always walked long paths; we shall walk this one too, together.

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