A Rude Awakening Edit
Though the Andromeda Initiative had taken great pains to prepare for the worst, given the immense risks involved in their one-way trip to Andromeda and all the potential setbacks they could face, it is hard to overstate just how disastrous their opening days in this new galaxy were. The first Milky Way colonists to awaken from cryo-sleep in the Heleus Cluster did so in the wake of the Scourge disaster, their first moments not the well-prepared and calmly guided immigration process they'd been expecting, but a violent, spontaneous release as the Nexus impacted the massive dark energy anomaly known as the Scourge. The extensive damage the station took and the release of thousands of unprepared colonists from cryo-sleep to an uncertain future were only compounded by the loss of hundreds of their fellow sleepers, most notably Initiative founder Jien Garson, a blow the Initiative would never fully recover from. With Garson and most of the senior leadership dead, command fell to the newly appointed Acting Director Jarun Tann, who was both unprepared for the responsibility such a role entailed, and lacked Garson's competence and charisma in what would eventually become a genuine crisis.
Yet that was not their only problem. The Golden Worlds so ripe with promise and assured as their eventual homes in the Andromeda Galaxy were nothing of the sort, each habitat visited by the Nexus' forward survey teams largely inhospitable and far more fraught with danger than they'd ever anticipated. This only worsened their growing supply situation, without viable outposts to help provision and construct the station, and further eroded colonist trust in what they increasingly perceived to be an out-of-touch and incapable Nexus leadership. In an effort to preserve their remaining food stores, it was proposed that many of the colonists return back to stasis until the situation stabilized, but few were willing to accept, while numerous security incidents by disgruntled personnel only increased tensions and strained the ability of the Nexus security forces under Sloane Kelly to maintain order.
In a last-ditch effort to try and secure their position in Heleus, the Initiative attempted to settle the so-called Golden World they'd designated as Habitat 1, or "Eos". Despite the strenuous and dedicated efforts of the colonist blocks involved, a viable, enduring presence on Eos could not be maintained. Their first attempt with the outpost designated "Promise" ultimately failed due to the overwhelming radiation present on the planet, manifesting itself in immense storms that wrecked equipment, laid waste to any attempts at farming, and even overwhelmed the shield pylons keeping the harmful radiation at bay. A second attempt was made with the outpost "Resilience", only for a surprise and savage assault by a hostile alien species known as the kett to massacre much of the colonist block and force the few survivors to evacuate. This, combined with Tann declaring the mandatory return of colonists into stasis and the imposition of martial law, proved to be the last straw, and armed rebellion broke out on the Nexus, with many of the security personnel joining in with the mutineers as they tried to seize control of the station.
The Banishment Edit
Eventually, after much chaos and bloodshed, order was eventually restored thanks to the intervention of the Clan Nakmor krogan, who aided the Nexus leadership in return for a greater say in station affairs, a deal Director Tann would ultimately renege upon. Desperate to avoid starvation amongst the remaining population of colonists, and ensure that the mutineers would no longer pose a threat, they were given a choice to either return to stasis or be sent into exile. Most chose the latter, their numbers growing as dissenters of all stripes, from hardcore insurrectionists to peaceful protesters, were forced out in their wake, most with nothing to aid them in their efforts at survival but the shuttles that carried them and whatever equipment or provisions they'd managed to seize on their way out. Stability had returned to the Nexus, at least temporarily, but it had come at the cost of a veritable diaspora of their fellow colonists, with hundreds if not thousands of people forced out into the harsh expanse of the Heleus Cluster, many of whom would pose an active threat to the Initiative in the future.
Though those Milky Way colonists forced out in the wake of the Uprising constitute the largest proportion of the Exiles, they were but the first to become so, not the last. With resources aboard the Nexus strained and the station unable to house a long-term prison population, exile is the punishment of choice for many offenses, the continuation of martial law aboard the station enabling the sentence to be carried out quickly and even arbitrarily, with some residents threatened with exile for being guilty of nothing more than inadvertently provoking the ire of Director Tann. Additional colonists have gone into exile to be with friends and family members ejected following the Uprising, choosing the dangers and uncertainties of life in the hostile reaches of Heleus rather than remain separated from their loved ones. Still others have voluntarily left the Nexus in pursuit of greater opportunities or simply abandoning what they consider a failing organization, carving out places for themselves in the wider Heleus Cluster, violently or otherwise.
As one might expect, the Exiles are largely fractious and divided, the paths they take after leaving the Nexus as diverse as their reasons for coming to Andromeda in the first place. Many of them, either regretting their actions during the Uprising or simply seeking to build a home in Heleus absent the bureaucracy and politicking plaguing the Initiative, have sought a more peaceful path to survival, becoming independent homesteaders, wildcat salvagers, miners and explorers. Others, desperate to survive amidst the chaos by any means necessary or eager to exploit the lawless nature of the Heleus Cluster for their own gain, have devolved into Outlaws: ruthless bands of pirates, scavengers, smugglers, raiders, terrorists and petty warlords, as hostile to each other as they are the Initiative, kett and angara.
Exile Relations Edit
Officially, no formal contact exists between the Nexus and the various Exile factions. In the eyes of the Nexus leadership, all Exiles are considered untrustworthy criminals, no matter their reasons for leaving or the context in which it occurred, and are subject to execution should they attempt to return to the Nexus. Beyond the immediate jurisdiction of the station, however, Initiative personnel have collaborated with Exiles on numerous occasions. Perhaps the most persistent point of contact is through the thriving black market at the Exile-controlled Kadara Port, the concerns of politics fading in the face of economic necessity. Several Exiles have also found places for themselves at the various Initiative outposts scattered around the cluster, and Pathfinder Ryder is ultimately able to enlist the aid of either the Outcasts or the Collective in helping the Initiative during the Battle of Meridian.