The vessels and transports that make exploration possible.
Ark Paarchero is the Andromeda Initiative's designated vessel for transporting salarian colonists to the new galaxy. Mirroring the design of its human counterpart, Hyperion, Ark Paarchero can accommodate 20,000 passengers and crew in cryogenic stasis.
Paarchero's development was plagued by early delays and disagreements between its senior crew and the Initiative's design team. The salarian penchant for constantly pushing the boundaries of technology was often at odds with the realities of budgets and time constraints. At one point, it was calculated that if every "vital and necessary improvement" suggested by the salarian contingent was incorporated into the Paarchero's design, its launch would have been delayed until 2204 at the soonest.
Seeking a suitable scout rover, the Andromeda Initiative purchased a promising but rejected design from the Systems Alliance military. The issue quickly became apparent: on rough terrain, without the bracing of heavy armor, the chassis was prone to twist. The Initiative had already developed lightweight but strong memory alloys which solved this problem.
The resulting ND1 Nomad exchanges heavy armaments for superior agility. The rover has a tripartite element zero core, which allows fine control over acceleration and a more modest helium-3 fuel cost for its microthrusters. Its lighter weight enables both six-wheel drive (6WD) and four-wheel drive (4WD), and four-wheel steering for hazardous surfaces. Fitting the Initiative's adaptive philosophy, the Nomad can be customized with appropriate camouflage or Initiative colors.
When necessary during long-haul exploration, the rover contains an emergency shelter. It can produce potable water from its hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells, though scientists recommend adding a flavor pack to it first.
The Tempest is a survey ship designed for long-range, long-term exploration under a Pathfinder's command. Its light weight and efficient design allow it to operate with a small crew and minimal resources.
Built by the Andromeda Initiative, the Tempest makes use of several once-proprietary technologies, including an IES stealth system originally developed by the Systems Alliance. Many of these systems were permitted on the condition that the Tempest only operate in the Andromeda Galaxy.
The Tempests engine is a variation on the arks' ODSY drives that allow long-term operation, capturing a percentage of the static buildup in capacitors. The recycled electrical charge powers several of the Tempest's onboard systems.
As a Pathfinder vessel, the Tempest has research and development facilities, laboratories, and a well-appointed meeting space to accommodate dignitaries, anticipating any potential first contact scenarios.
Without need for crew considerations, the Remnant are capable of fielding vessels with theoretically massive carrying capacity. Their function is likely tied to the Remnant role of planetary maintenance or terraforming. The general standby state of the vaults may explain why the larger examples of these starships are so rare: there was no purpose in maintaining them.
The full capabilities of these vessels are unknown. The smaller have been observed to exceed Initiative or kett starships in speed and flight performance, unburdened by a biological pilot's reflexes or the need to avoid maneuvers that could endanger a living crew. The larger are likely subject to the same operational limits as capital ships or arks: they may have no crew to maintain, but they must accommodate their cargo.
From observation, the Scourge is aggressively attracted to Remnant, and is particularly damaging to their vessels. While Ark Hyperion survived a direct impact and disengaged, most Remnant vessels have been found derelict with significant Scourge damage.
The kett flagship, Verakan, is a heavily armed warship that serves as the Archon's central command post for the kett incursion into the Heleus Cluster. Heavy main guns and exceptionally powerful kinetic barriers suggest that any frontal assault on the Verakan without a correspondingly powerful dreadnought would be suicide.
The vessel appears to serve as a research center for studying newly captured Milky Way species. Both krogan and salarian captives were encountered aboard, indicating the Archon's interest in exalting new species and acquiring their genetic traits.
The Verakan also houses many of the kett's most important Remnant relics, apparently gathered and presented to the Archon for study at his leisure. This fascination was evident in the Archon's private chamber, where he kept a special collection of Remnant technology and relics on display.
Constructed in orbit around Piares in the asari home system Parnitha, Ark Leusinia is named after a kingdom of wealth and learning in asari mythology. She is built to the same specifications as her sister ark Hyperion, with internal modifications to accommodate asari social preferences, and captained by Elonis Atandra.
The Andromeda Initiative was initially rejected as a human-driven boondoggle by many asari investors, and the construction of the Leusinia was met with ridicule. However, the efforts drew the attention of several Matriarchs who had assisted in previous attempts to send crewed missions to Andromeda, and their impassioned extranet addresses helped turn the tide of public opinion. At her departure ceremony, Ark Leusinia was officially blessed by the Atamna Politeia, an organization of siarist high priestesses from across the Asari Republics.
Ark Leusinia traveled to the Initiative rendezvous point in 2184, and left the Milky Way as part of the initial departure wave in 2185.
Tempest: ODSY Drive
Standard ship drive cores build up static electricity, and require periodic discharge on a planet or at specialized facilities to prevent static from building to dangerous levels. With few such suitable discharge points in dark space, the ODSY drive core was developed for the arks' long-haul journey to Andromeda. The Tempest's drive core is an experimental small-scale variant based upon the original design.
The ODSY (out-galaxy distributed static synch) drive core is designed to minimize static build-up, and transfers the remaining charge to specially designed capacitors attached to the core. The recycled electricity is used to run ship systems, reducing power requirements and lowering heat generation.
Cross-galaxy, the arks gathered hydrogen using an electromagnetic ramscoop, converting it into protons with an ionizing laser. Proton collision in the arks' fusion reactors provided power for their thrusters. The Tempest's thrusters run on conventional helium-3, though Initiative breakthroughs in fuel efficiency means their helium-3 requirements are drastically lowered.
The Tempest required a number of experimental technologies to accommodate the unique requirements of a Pathfinder team. Its planetary surface imaging, for example, uses photosensitive and radar/lidar-emitting microsatellites that coordinate with the Tempest's router back to SAM Node. I then conduct simulated scientific and probability studies on the data before presenting the Pathfinder with a summarized analysis, typically in 0.5 seconds.
The Tempest's computer network presented interesting challenges. As most Milky Way computer systems have anti-AI safeguards built in, the Tempest's network had to be designed from scratch to accommodate my interaction with the ship's systems. Firmware bridges, inspired by studies into geth networking technology, allow me to temporarily interact with and augment sensors, communications, and the ship's navigation array.
Given the desire to reduce mass without sacrificing safety, the electrical charge from the Tempest's capacitors is used to keep the ship stable, via prototype piezoelectric vibration reduction (PVR) technology. When the ship's superstructure is bent by vibrations—such as during atmospheric re-entry or complex flight maneuvers—piezoelectric elements receive an electrical charge that bends bulkheads in the opposing direction, reducing vibrations and smoothing the ship's flight path.
Tempest: Research Capabilities
Pathfinders are often the first to encounter new potential threats or valuable technology. The Tempest is therefore equipped for sophisticated research and development in the field, to support a fast turnaround of any necessary upgrades or analysis. Its Research Center syncs with the Tech Lab systems, giving insight into the capabilities of new materials and their potential applications.
My connection to Ark Hyperion and the Nexus allows me to transfer data and latest discoveries from the scientists stationed there. Quantum computing enables multiple complex simulations to be run simultaneously, and new components or configurations can be tested virtually before they are built.
Tempest: Stealth System
In 2183, the Systems Alliance and the Turian Hierarchy co-developed the IES (internal emission sink) stealth system for small military frigates. It's unknown how the Initiative acquired this system for its survey ships, as IES stealth technology is classified. Despite valid security certificates, no record of negotiations exists in the Nexus legal archives.
An IES stealth system is designed to capture the heat and radiation emitted by all starships in refrigerated storage sinks, effectively removing the ship from sensors. Initiative starship systems are streamlined to emit less electromagnetic and particle radiation, and to lower heat production. This reduces the amount of emissions to be stored. Additionally, breakthroughs in cryogenic research allow the storage sinks to be more effectively refrigerated, allowing longer stealth time before the sinks must be vented for safety.
The Tempest can remain stationary in stealth for several hours, or travel at FTL in "silent running" for shorter periods.
Ark Natanus was constructed in orbit around Aventen, a once-lucrative mining planet in the turian home system Trebia. The ark was named after legendary spacefarer Palex Natanus, who is believed to be the first turian to travel through a mass relay. The Natanus is built to similar specifications as the asari and human arks, but with minor changes to accommodate her dextro-amino-acid based passengers. Natanus is captained by the renowned Dea Praeton of the Sixth Fleet.
Like most economical ventures, turian investors were turned onto the Andromeda Initiative by their clients, the volus. The Turian Hierarchy was intentionally kept in the dark to keep the Initiative a private, civilian project.
Ark Natanus traveled to the Initiative rendezvous point in 2184, and left the Milky Way as part of the initial departure wave in 2185.
The kett utilize a variety of military aircraft, from agile dropships to enormous dreadnoughts. Closer inspection of kett starships, including several destroyed by the Scourge, has shown that they appear to be heavily biomimetic; while not organic, the kett take strong design inspiration from living organisms. Air filtration, electrical systems, and heat management mimic behavior seen in living creatures.
The few kett engine cores available for study show that while the kett use element zero cores, their design is radically different. While in comparatively short-range environments such as the Heleus Cluster they function similarly to Milky Way drives, kett drive cores are capable of gravitationally contracting space in front of the ship and shortening it behind, creating an Alcubierre waveform that allows the ship to traverse longer distances quickly. This design feature compensates somewhat for the lack of long-range mass relay transport in Andromeda, though these drives are highly inefficient by comparison.
However, it is clear we have only seen a small cross-section of kett starships; likely military vessels on long deployment. More scientifically advanced starships may exist elsewhere.
The Tempest is equipped for long-range survey and scientific studies, which are carried out at the ship's two main labs.
The bio lab is equipped to hydroponically grow both Milky Way and Andromeda plant life, for research or consumption. The plants also clean the ship's air and generate a modest amount of oxygen. Sealed observation chambers are set up to study small fauna, sequence genetic material, or simulate bacterial growth in carefully controlled conditions. All biomatter entering or leaving the lab is subjected to additional quarantine measures.
The tech Lab is used for engineering and technical studies, spectral analysis using laser apparatus, and for analyzing the capabilities of discovered technology. New minerals or metals can be subjected to additional resistance testing before being used in the Tempest's Research Center. Because of the potential volatility of new materials, the tech lab is equipped with heavy radiation shielding and can be sealed off in an emergency.
Ark Hyperion serves as the main vessel for carrying human settlers bound for Andromeda. Named after a Greek mythological figure associated with knowledge of celestial bodies, the Hyperion represents a breakthrough in intergalactic travel. Substantial money and resources were devoted to its construction, all privately funded by Jien Garson and the Andromeda Initiative.
Built to withstand the rigors of a nearly 2.5 million light-year voyage, the Hyperion is outfitted with ODSY drive core technology, which allows the ship to make a six hundred year voyage safely at FTL speeds. It features enough stasis pods to accommodate approximately 20,000 settlers and crew.
Ark Hyperion crashed on Meridian in the battle against the Archon. The ark was decommissioned; the vessel's internal structures are now being adapted for future industrial and residential deployment, re-designated as "Port Meridian."