Age: 19Class: Engineer
Appearance: Slender build and average height (for a Quarian). Pale purple-y skin, slightly slanted glowing eyes, very short hair (all hidden beneath her mask and helmet, of course). From the rare moments she’s had a good look at her own reflection, Aya likes to think that she’s pretty. In truth, it’s been so long since the Quarians have seen each other beneath their masks that all conventions of beauty have been lost to them.
Aya wears a basic black enviro-suit, and before she left the Tyrrvina, she had a deep burgundy scarf and accents. But while on the Citadel during her pilgrimage, she stole a very ornate red and gold dress that she found in an unattended shipping crate near the back door of one of the clothing vendors.
It was the only time Aya ever stole anything, and she felt incredibly guilty for weeks afterwards (especially for helping to further the negative sterotypes of her people). But it was by one of her favorite designers (the Asari Lira Bontius), and just too beautiful to pass-up. Of course, knowing she would never be able to wear it, she cut it up to make a new scarf and sash for her suit.
Personality: Very scholarly and brainy (a bit of a know-it-all). Can be feisty at times (especially when you get on her bad side), but is otherwise easy-going, though she does not respond well to criticism. Extremely girly. She loves all things involving makeup, fashion, and beauty, though she can never partake in any of these things herself.
Though proud to a certain extent of her heritage, Aya harbors a secret shame at being a Quarian. She fears that no one will ever see her for who she really is as long as she’s hidden behind a mask. All she wants is to feel “pretty” and “normal”, but she feels as though she is trapped inside a shell.
History: Aya was born nineteen years ago on the Flotilla’s largest and most sophisticated medical research vessel, the Tyrrvina. Her father still serves as the ship’s head doctor, while her mother was one of the vessel’s top engineers, until her untimely death when Aya was just a few weeks old. The birthing room had not been properly sanitized before the procedure, and Elah’s immune system had not been strong enough to battle the resulting illness. Aya’s father, Zeev, has never forgiven himself.
Aya has spent her entire life wanting to learn as much about her mother as possible. She did not have much to go on, other than her father’s stories and the occasional anecdote from a family member or friend. But the one thing that everyone seemed to remember about Elah’Raazel vas Tyrrvina was her love of technology and passion for her career.
So when she was eleven years old, Aya began sneaking down to the ship’s engineering deck every chance she got, immersing herself in the incredible technologies she discovered there and reveling in the fact that her mother had once been a part of this intricate world of information. She had certainly inherited her parents’ intellect, and it seemed she shared her mother’s knack for technology as well.
The first time that the engineering team discovered her lurking down there, they had threatened to alert her father and send her away, but Aya’s curiosity and desire to learn more about her mother’s work had swayed them. Razela and Alon had once been dear friends and colleagues to her mother, and quickly became mentors and role-models to young Aya. She learned more from the two of them than she ever did from any of her instructors at the ship’s Education Center.
By the time she was fifteen years old, she had made a name for herself around the Tyrrvina as an extremely gifted engineer, just like her mother before her. Though not allowed to technically “serve” aboard the ship, Aya was widely regarded as a sort of honorary member of the engineering crew, and would head down to assist the others nearly every day. As her pilgrimage drew closer, there was buzzing among much of the crew, wondering what sort of incredible engineering breakthrough Aya would bring back to the fleet, and which of the Flotilla’s vessels would be lucky enough to one day add her to their crew.
But engineering was not Aya’s only passion, and the young Quarian had other plans for her pilgrimage.
One of Aya’s earliest memories was from when she was five years old. She and her father had been sitting in his quarters when she asked to see a picture of her mother. Zeev was happy to oblige. He handed her the framed photograph from his nightstand, which he had shared with her several times before. He still remembered the day he took it, not long after Elah had been promoted to head of engineering. She had invited him down to her new office to show off the project she had been working on. He had surprised her by bringing along a camera. His wife always hated having her picture taken. Zeev smiled softly at the memory.
Young Aya looked down at the photograph that she had seen countless times before. But this time, it was as though she was seeing it through new eyes. The young Quarian woman looked up at the camera from behind a cluttered desk, one arm outstretched in front of her, her omni-tool open. From behind the tinted mask that covered her face, her white eyes glowed brightly. They were widened slightly in surprise, as her husband had caught her quite off-guard.
“Are you sure this is her?” Aya asked.
“Of course, sweetheart.” Her father had assured her, confused.
“But how do you know?”
Behind the mask, it could have been anyone.
Only a few months later, Aya sat in her father’s room yet again, this time watching a news broadcast that the Tyrrvina had picked up from a nearby planet. It was the first time she had ever seen a non-Quarian. She did not understand a word of what was being said in the strange alien language, but she was entranced by the sight of the Asari news anchor. She was beautiful, from the subtle shimmering makeup on her eyes and lips to her satiny purple dress that hugged her frame perfectly.
But where was her mask? How was she wearing that beautiful outfit instead of her enviro-suit? Surely she would die. Aya began to panic, suddenly extremely concerned about the poor, doomed alien woman. Her father rushed in as soon as he heard his daughter’s cries. Once she finally calmed down enough to speak, Zeev realized immediately what had been troubling her.
It was then that she learned for the first time that the Quarians were not like other races. At the time, Aya was too young to fully comprehend her father’s words. But it was not long before Aya began to understand, especially after seeing more alien newscasts and vids from nearby star systems. It was almost too incredible to imagine… Being able to show your face to the world, to wear whatever you wanted. To have your father be able to wipe the tears off your cheek when you’re sad. To tell a joke and be able to see your friend’s smile. To look at a picture of your dead mother and know that it’s her. To recognize her face. Anyone’s face. To have the world see you as Aya’Raazel nar Tyrrvina, and not just another face hidden behind a mask.
Because really, that’s all any of them were, weren’t they?
Just as her love and passion for engineering and technology increased with each passing year, so too did her fascination with alien custom, culture, and fashion. Aya would give anything to be able to live outside her suit and be “normal”. She would dream about it all the time. Beside the mathematical equations and diagrams in her research notebooks are sketches and doodles of herself without a mask, without a suit, dressed in the gorgeous alien fashions she sees in the vids.
What would it feel like to paint your face with makeup, or walk around with bare arms and a flowing skirt? Perhaps one day she would find out. Aya has spent the last few years desperately researching options and alternatives to living in an enviro-suit, but to no avail. Her father has tried to convince her that it’s just not possible – thousands before her have tried, and none have succeeded. But his daughter will not give up.
Aya knew it would not be easy. In fact, she began making preparations for her pilgrimage more than a year before she was set to depart. No one but her father truly understood why she was completing so much research and gathering so much information. But her persistence and determination was widely admired by those around her, and the excited buzzing among the crew about the young girl’s future grew stronger than ever.
A few months before she was set to leave on her pilgrimage, Alon and Razela called Aya down to the engineering deck. They knew that she was busy preparing for her upcoming journey, and could use all the help she could get. After much discussion between the two of them, they decided it was time to share Elah’Raazel’s final project with her daughter.
They presented Aya with a plain-looking data disk which, they explained, contained a top-secret project that her mother had been developing for years before her death. After their friend’s demise, Alon and Razela had completed her work, then hid it away, unsure of what to do with it. But now it was hers, and she was free to do with it what she wished.
“Who knows what you’ll find out there.” Alon had patted her gently on the shoulder. “This might come in handy.”
“But don’t access the files until you’re alone.” Razela warned. “And… be careful.”
Aya had been shocked to discover that her mother had been working on much more than a simple research project… She had created an Artificial Intelligence system.
How could she have done this? And why? Surely she knew the risks, the rules against such a thing. The girl had been terrified when the program (who called itself Gili) first began speaking with her. But it did not take long for her to see the potential use of having “him” (for he spoke with a male voice) around. He could help her gather information, keep track of her research. And he was a connection to her mother.
Gili knew little about his creator, and even less about his purpose, though Aya still liked to press him about such things. Whatever the reason for his creation, it had to be something important. Why else would Elah have taken such a risk? Until she could discover the truth, Aya decided she might as well make use of this unexpected gift from her mother.
She downloaded Gili’s programming onto her omni-tool, and uploaded all of her information and research to his database, including notes on alien fashion and designers, much to Gili’s chagrin. (“Whatever your mother’s intent, I can assure you I was not designed to be a fashion catalogue.” “Oh, shut up Gili. I told you, it’s for… um, research purposes.”)
A few short weeks after her 18th birthday, Aya finally set out on her pilgrimage, with Gili as her only companion. She has vowed never to return until she has found a solution for herself and her people.
Equipment: Just her omni-tool (plus Gili) and a pistol given to her by a friend (which she has no idea how to use)
Skills: Advanced Decryption/Sabotage, Advanced Hacking, High-Basic First Aid (No weapon skills. Aya has never fired a weapon in her life)