A sapient race native to Rannoch.
The quarians have enjoyed a dramatic role reversal as of late. Just a few years ago, they operated in a state of perpetual "hand-to-mouth". While quarian ships included light manufacturing and assembly plants, they lacked heavy industries such as refining and shipbuilding. Food production was limited by space. A single disaster threatened to destroy the fragile balance. Free from such limits, the quarians have developed a fairly significant industrial and economic base in a shockingly short amount of time. Most of this is owed to the vast geth industrial base, and access to it and the resurrection of a number of major manufacturing plants on Rannoch has given the quarians a major leg up over a devastated galaxy at large.
Quarian skin comes in various shades from grey through brown to mauve/purple. Their most distinctive features when unmasked are their bright white-silver eyes.
The most distinguishing feature of quarian biology is their weak immune system, compounded by centuries of living in sterile environments. As a result, all quarians by necessity dress in highly sophisticated enviro-suits, to protect them from disease, or infection if they’re injured. Quarian immune systems have always been relatively weak, as pathogenic microbes were comparatively rare in their homeworld’s biosphere. Furthermore, what few virus-analogues were native to Rannoch were often at least partly beneficial to them, giving them a symbiotic relationship with their environment. After living aboard the Migrant Fleet for generations, the quarians’ immune systems have atrophied further still.
Their suits can be compartmentalized in the event of a tear or other damage to prevent the spread of contaminants (similar to a ship sealing off bulkheads in the event of a hull breach). A quarian’s lifespan is roughly equal to a human’s, but is prone to lessening if infection breaks in.
As such, quarians are given various vaccinations and immunizations to help ward off disease. However, they prefer the safety of their suits even in clean environments and are reluctant to remove them without good reason. A quarian who wishes to remove their suit must take antibiotics, immuno-boosters, herbal supplements, or the like in order to do so safely, and even then there are inherent risks. As a result, physical acts of affection are difficult for quarians, even for the purposes of reproduction. Ships in the Migrant Fleet often contained “clean rooms” where quarians could give birth or undergo medical procedures in relative safety, though there are always risks. The most intimate thing quarians can do is link their suit environments. However, doing so guarantees a quarian will get sick, although they’ll usually adapt over time.
As for other things quarians might wear, see: Quarian Clothing.
The Migrant Fleet
The Migrant Fleet was the largest single concentration of starfaring vessels in the galaxy, sprawling across millions of kilometers. It could take days for the entire fleet to pass through a mass relay.
When the quarians fled their homeworld, the Fleet was a motley aggregation of freighters, shuttles, industrial vessels, and the odd warship. After three centuries, all had been modified to support larger crews as comfortably as possible. After the war, most of these ships have been abandoned.
Of the some 50,000 ships in the fleet, the Evening War saw nearly half destroyed, including most of its Heavy and Patrol Fleet vessels. Many of the ancient ships that constituted the Migrant fleet have been stripped apart to help build settlements on Rannoch’s surface, and much of those that remained were converted to mining and interstellar shipping vessels. What was left of the ad hoc military frigates that had been marshalled for the war effort have been left abandoned over Rannoch’s skies, though the most functional of them still run system patrols around Tikkun.
The quarians have kept an open-door policy on the sale of former Migrant ships, selling to any willing to buy them, often at volume.
See: Quarian Ships (List).
One legacy of the Fleet was its extensive sensor data and survey records. Several years after the reclamation of Rannoch, the Quarian Conclave auctioned these off, the winning bidder being human corporation Trask Interstellar, who took possession of a bounty of information on untapped worlds and systems. Other known bidders included Eldfell-Aishland Energy, the Camalan Grusto, Corel Heavy Industries, ExoGeni, Titan Corporation, and the Drushana Syndicate.
Quarian miners have always been noted as aggressive and notoriously productive, and this holds as true as ever. Access to geth mining prospects and infrastructure has afforded these miners advantages that allow them to punch far out of their weight class. Joined by geth resource extraction platforms and buoyed by a vast number of converted Migrant freighters, quarian mining prospects will often be characterized by vast swarms of mining vessels both geth and quarian taking surveyed asteroids apart with brutal efficiency.
The greatest asset of the quarians is their rarefied skills. Most are experienced miners. Due to their life of perpetual salvage and repair, they are skilled engineers and technicians. With a nebula to freely exploit, alongside an inexhaustible geth mining force and hundreds of repurposed Migrant freighters at their disposal, the quarian resource industry now rivals many of the Council races; though they lack the means to refine most of these resources themselves. If these raw minerals aren’t exported, the quarians rely on the geth to process them.
The quarians' precarious existence and the need to enforce strict rationing encouraged an autocratic government during their exile. The Migrant Fleet's operations were directed by the Admiralty, a board of five military officers who were advised by a legislative body called the Conclave.
Aboard the Migrant fleet, each vessel had the right to send representatives to the Conclave aboard the flagship. The number of representatives was based on crew size. Larger clans, with bigger ships and more votes, formed the cores of political blocs. Opposition came from the Outriders' Coalition, with delegates from thousands of smaller ships.
The Admiralty deferred to the Conclave's decisions in most circumstances, but reserved the right to summarily overturn legislative decisions if all five members agreed that a Conclave decision jeopardized the Fleet’s survival.
Each ship captain had authority over the vessel, but was advised by an elected civilian Council, just as the Admiralty was advised by the Conclave.
With the long promised return to Rannoch finally achieved, quarians rushed to get away from ugly reminders of the autocratic, spartan lives that had defined their existence. Eager to ‘flip the script’, the Conclave was redeclared in the ancient Halls of Council as Rannoch’s civil, legislative, and military administration, with the Admiralty left to advise and moderate them.
Much of the Fleet’s government has survived the transition. With the Migrant Fleet’s vessels now in orbit, communities are represented by the clans that lived on them. Language has defined the subtler changes; representation in the Conclave is still held by the larger populated communities, with “Aldermen” leading their communities instead of their captains. The “Outriders’ Coalition” has been replaced by the “Common Council.” “Cliques” of likeminded representatives still form, even amongst larger political blocs in the Conclave, which are then divided among clan, ideology, and fleet divisions. Majority votes are still necessary to make decisions, and when a decision is reached, it is sent to the Admiralty for enforcement.
The largest change to the Conclave is the geth. Though they may be more traditional representatives amongst the Conclave, those involved are part of the Representative Advisory Board. Proposed bills will be sent to the Board, whereupon they will be sent back with the recommended revisions, or wholly approved and sent to the Admiralty. As per the Representation Acts, the geth also own a number of seats indexed proportionately to the population. This has come to no small controversy among many quarians uncomfortable at the prospect of involving the geth too much in the governmental structure.
While the Admirals’ actions during the Evening War have damaged their credibility, many quarians still respect what the Board represents. As such, each Admiral is considered to maintain their own seat on the Conclave. If necessary, they may declare a referendum amongst the quarian and geth platform population. Doing so would temporarily revert Rannoch to a total state of emergency should the situation ever demand it.
Law and Defense
Law and order were largely dictated by circumstances on the Migrant Fleet. The lack of constables amongst the congested population made it necessary for quarian marines to act as the enforcers of the peace, and the tenuous equilibrium of the quarian species and space concerns on the Fleet made it impossible to either execute or imprison repeat offenders. Now that the quarians have a world to call their own, those circumstances are now immaterial, though its influence is still felt on quarian law and defense -- namely, that the two are still largely inseparable.
A thin line separates the quarian Marines and their law enforcement officers. To be a member of one is generally to be a member of the other. Quarian military doctrine mirrors civilian police in tactics and training; though since the recolonization of Rannoch, a civil peacekeeping force was declared separate from the Migrant Marines, a distinction that has largely been irrelevant: almost every quarian police officer is also a member of the armed forces, though geth are allowed to volunteer their services for quarian civil peacekeeping.
Once taken into custody, the accused are brought before their respective community’s minor Conclave for a hearing. They may make their case, or allow someone to represent them, but the community alderman is not obligated to provide the accused with one. Members of the conclave act as the jury, and may make recommendations to the alderman on verdicts, though much like the Migrant Fleet days, the alderman has final say. Still, if the decisions of the alderman and Conclave contradict, the Conclave may add caveats such as a more lenient sentence or a longer period of probation. More serious crimes move up to the major Conclave, which functionally operates on the same principle.
Punishments are typically lenient, revolving around community services rather than imprisonment, though quarian criminals now have to fear it as a possible consequence. Quarian prisons more resemble work camps, however, most of them sent to work on reclaiming ruined quarian cities.
For their worst criminals, the quarians have chosen a fittingly ironic punishment: they’re imprisoned on converted Migrant tanker ships moored over Rannoch’s orbit, allowed to gaze upon the homeworld, but never allowed to set foot on it, though the makeshift prison infrastructure has led a number of governments to now demand that Rannoch take back its exiled criminals, many of whom are rotting in other species’ prisons.
Quarian civil law enforcement is largely tied up in cultural works protection. With most of the planet declared a 'cultural protection zone' of some kind or the other, quarian and geth patrols are largely concerned with keeping would-be tourists or looters out of the ancient cities.
The quarian military is anemic, many of its former warhawks and marines retiring to settle the surface or departing over the question of geth cohabitation. Many of its ships are still licking scars left by the Evening War. Thus, most naval defense concerns have been left to the geth.
Military technology includes:
When quarians of the Migrant Fleet reached young adulthood, they left their birth ship and found a new crew. To prove themselves, they had to recover something of value. This was offered to their prospective captain as proof that they would not be a mere burden on the shoestring resources of the ship.
This process was called the Pilgrimage. Stripped of ritual, the Pilgrimage was merely an attempt to maintain genetic diversity within the small, relatively isolated population bases that make up the Migrant Fleet. If the young stayed and married within their birth vessel, the risk of inbreeding would increase sharply. And like many necessary limitations that the quarians shed with the regained homeworld, freedom from the Pilgrimage would be one of them. Neither concerned with genetic homogeneity or forced to send Pilgrims out to collect essential supplies, the practice has effectively fallen into obsolescence.
Of course, old traditions are hard to break. While the Pilgrimage as it formerly was is no more, the practice has been hastily adapted into a new iteration, focusing instead on cultural rediscovery. Quarian scholars reasoned that it would be best to find old traditions through new ones. As such, young adults venture out from their homes much as they did on the fleet, not to explore the galaxy, but reconnect with their heritage on Rannoch. Pilgrims, often sent with a geth guide, will travel to their cultural homes across the planet, and try to reclaim an ancestral heirloom before returning home.
The ancient quarians practiced ancestor worship. Even after abandoning faith for secularism, quarians continued to revere the wisdom of elders. As time passed and technology advanced, they inevitably turned their knowledge to preserving the personalities and memories of the elderly as computer virtual intelligences. These recordings became a repository of knowledge and wisdom, stored in a central databank and available through any extranet connection.
They held no illusions that this was like a form of immortality; like all virtual intelligences, their electronically-preserved ancestors were not truly sapient. This was considered a surmountable problem; sapience could surely be reduced to simple mathematics.
The quarians began exhaustive research into creating artificial intelligence so they could learn to escape the bounds of mortality and give their ancestral records true awareness. Unfortunately, the life the quarians created did not accept the same truths they did. The geth destroyed the ancestor databanks when they took over.
In the centuries since they evacuated their homeworld, most quarians have returned to religion in various forms. Many believe the rise of the geth and the destruction of their 'ancestors' were chastisement for arrogantly forsaking the old ways and venerating self-made idols. Others have a more philosophical outlook, believing that their race was indeed arrogant, but that no supernatural agency lay behind the geth revolt. Rather, the quarians' actions wrought their own doom. Either way, every quarian would agree that their own hubris cost them their homeworld.
Having reclaimed Rannoch, some quarians have tried to - essentially - continue where they left off. Quarador, a neuroscience cooperative, began work on a ancestor archive based on surviving electronic and archaeological records dating back prior to the First Geth War. Since the quarian government refused to fund Quarador in light of geth protestations, the company was forced to secure funding elsewhere, from the Thamosi Conglomerate of Drushana.
Liveship Weaponry: Shortly before the Reaper War, CDN weighed in on the announcement that the liveships had been upgraded.
Remembering the Morning War: The quarian and geth posters discuss their shared history. It gets a little intense.
The Galaxy Treats Quarians Badly: Dani may actually be right for once.