While the Initiative's other arks aside from the Nexus are derived from standard designs and tweaked according to the needs of the majority race per ship, Keelah Si'yah is engineered to accommodate the needs of six distinct races. The vessel is a quarian ship, but the Initiative requested to allow other races to buy or barter their way in. Elcor, drell, volus, batarian, hanar, and quarian applicants all signed up to start fresh away from the Milky Way.
The quarians, no strangers to spaceborne living due to their background in the Migrant Fleet, wanted a ship that can be lived on indefinitely while they're looking for suitable worlds to settle on (just in case it turns out there are no suitable worlds). This, along with accounting for the disparate environmental requirements of the passengers, created technical challenges that delayed the vessel's launch. Hephaestus Station, a remote space station in the Caleston Rift, served as Keelah Si'yah's berth during the final stages of its construction and subsequent departure.
The starship still sports the same general outline as the other arks - four fins in an X pattern around a central superstructure, a kilometer and a half long, and weighing 17,000,000 tons - although that's where the similarities end as far as appearances are concerned.
Nodeports on the surface of the ship let people on the hull have a direct link to ship systems. A tram system allows for quick traversal between the massive ship's sections; known ones are labeled A to D. Internal security cameras observe and record events throughout the ship, though they lack audio capture.
Multiple layers of oscillating shields protect the hull from impact at relativistic speeds, with the outermost being powered by the starboard plasma-static generator. The outermost shield maintains the resonance of the inner shields, which cycle at longer intervals.
The ship has at least 14 decks. Deck 2 has Mess Hall 3. Deck 6 features the quarian residential zone, common assembly zone 5, and the inter-habitat tram line 1. Deck 8 holds the elcor cryopods. Deck 9 has the medbay. Deck 11 has the main cargo bay where all belongings of the passengers are stored as well as the batarian hibernation bay. Deck 14 has a data hub that's operational even during power malfunctions. One of the decks has facilities reserved for post-cryostasis physio-maintenance.
At least 8 cryobays hold the ark's frozen population. The onboard cryosystems are mostly cut from the standard mold except for the elcor's. The elephantine creatures require cryopods that are more appropriately called cryo-garages to house their colossal bodies. Deck 8 is actually a cargo bay repurposed to hold the elcor bulk.
Keelah Si'yah has 17 systems with a VI interface, each independent but all connected to the same datacore. The main interface program is called K, short for the ship's name, and vocally tuned to be prim and genderless. Other known VIs include the medbay's diagnostic VI, engineering's calibration VI, the bridge's navigation VI, and the educational VI in children's areas. Owing to the quarians' aversion to artificial intelligence, Keelah Si'yah's SAM is shackled and hardcoded never to become a true intelligence.
The known population figures of the ship at launch are as follows: exactly 3,311 elcor, around 4,000 quarians, around 4,564 drell, around 3,000 volus, a few hundred batarians, and an unspecified number of hanar, all amounting to about 20,000 passengers give or take. While the other arks have a Pathfinder each, Keelah Si'yah's 3 Pathfinders represent two races each.
Keelah Si'yah's command staff all have assigned cabins. Their belongings are stored in their cabins, not in the cargo bay as with the rest. The ship is fully equipped to house everyone aboard, but the plan is to have the passengers disembark immediately upon docking with the Nexus.
Besides the captain's pristine leather-adorned chair, the bridge contains a small weapons locker for contingencies. It has an Arc Pistol, an M-3 Predator, a Reegar Carbine, an M-7 Lancer III, and some ammo. The Sleepwalker Team logs from the security hub can be accessed in the bridge and projected into its gargantuan viewscreen.
The Radial Edit
The six environmental zones of the Keelah Si'yah converge into a hexagonal chamber known as the Radial. Bounded by thick glass walls that also function as airlocks, the Radial allows for interspecies communication and meets without going through time-consuming environmental adjustments. If desired, though, it contains the materials needed by any race to visit and survive the habitats of other races like containment suits and grav-bracelets.
These supplies are stashed in a cylinder at the center of the room. Atop the supply cylinder is the Radial's decorative hydroponic flower arrangement, composed of representative plants from each race's homeworld and artfully integrated with each other to form an aesthetically pleasing whole. Lerian ferns from Kahje surround usharet flowers from Rakhana. Onuffri blossoms from Dekuuna wind around ignac spice cones from Khar'shan. Carnivorous plants and kympna lobes from Irune, and keleven stalks from the Migrant Fleet, form the rest of the set piece, the totality carefully maintained through the centuries by botanical maintenance programs and whichever Sleepwalker Team is on duty.
Sleepwalker Teams Edit
Keelah Si'yah requires rotating teams of support staff during its long journey through dark space called Sleepwalker Teams. Typically comprised of at least 1 specialist from each of the 6 races, they are woken up at set intervals to perform monitoring and maintenance checks before going back to their cryopods.
If something goes wrong for a Sleepwalker, standard procedure is to simply put them back in cryostasis then wake them up on the Nexus for treatment.
Known Teams Edit
- Senna'Nir vas Keelah Si'yah - quarian first officer, Team Leader
- Anax Therion - drell detective, Systems Analyst
- Borbala Ferank - batarian, Specialist
- Irit Non - volus fashion designer, Specialist
- Yorrik - elcor doctor, Medical Specialist
- Ysses - hanar apothecary, Hydraulic Chemical Specialist
- Osyat Raxios - drell political refugee
- Goz Kympna - volus, Security Specialist
- Jalosk Dal'Virra - batarian, Munitions Specialist
- Kholai - hanar priest
- Malak'Rafa vas Keelah Si'yah - quarian, Medical Specialist
- Soval Raxios - drell, Systems Analyst
- Threnno - elcor psychiatrist, Analyst
- Unknown team
- Zoli Haj'nalka - batarian
Two representatives from each race - one male, one female (unless otherwise gendered) - form the Quorum, a governing body with the power to make shipwide decisions. These representatives were chosen by their own in a formal election before they set off to Andromeda, and would be revived - along with all Sleepwalker teams - halfway through the journey to review operational status before returning to cryosleep. Upon arrival at the Nexus, the Quorum are set to convene at the Radial to determine their next course of action.
Prior to departure, the Quorum decreed pets as contraband owing to the fact that they'll die of neglect during the long periods without Sleepwalker Teams around.
Known Representatives Edit
- Batarian - none
- Drell - Kral Thauma and Glamys Azios
- Elcor - Threnno and Nebbu
- Hanar - Chabod
- Volus - Gaffno Yap
Mass Effect Andromeda: Annihilation Edit
Stuffing multiple species inside a spacious but confined boat proves to be a difficult affair. The Radial's floral decoration caused a heated debate between the crew prior to departure, later labeled the "Battle of the Flower Arrangement" by Commander Senna'Nir. Detractors called it a waste of time since only the Sleepwalker teams would enjoy them. The practical Captain Qetsi'Olam deemed it silly and sentimental and the priest Kholai denounced it in keeping with its nihilistic religious beliefs. Half the crew objected to not having the topiary for cultural reasons, and soon enough some brawls erupted over the matter. Threnno and Osyat Raxios voiced passionate opposition against the naysayers while Irit Non saw the endeavor as symbolic of the races' cooperation. Borbala Ferank only saw the objection as an attack against the batarian contribution to the project.
The quarians initially weren't able to contribute since Rannoch was occupied by geth, but Senna'Nir eventually presented the bouquet's designer Irit Non with six stalks of keleven from his birth ship to compensate, an act deemed as the first cross-species decision the Keelah Si'yah crew made. Most subsequent decisions would prove to be just as contentious.
During the Keelah Si'yah's construction at Hephaestus Station, Tech Specialist Oliver Barthes and one of his dinner buddies were anonymously hired to discreetly install some items into the ship: the quarian lullaby My Suit and Me, and usharet-scented canisters near drell pods. At the conclusion of his job, Oliver is shot dead in the walkways of the station.
In Transit Edit
The vessel launched for intergalactic space in 2186, shortly after Camala was invaded by the Reapers, barely escaping the galactic holocaust that followed. The crew have little inkling of what transpired back in the Milky Way; Camala native Jalosk Dal'Virra witnessed the assault but got out of the planet before learning the true severity or extent of the threat.
In the intervening centuries the Sleepwalker Teams performed their duties with little fuss or issue. At the halfway point of the journey the Quorum and all Sleepwalkers revived to celebrate the occasion with a drinking binge in the mess hall. Unbeknownst to all, the items Oliver and his friend installed are software and biological malware, respectively. At around three quarters of the journey these were unleashed by the ship's own captain Qetsi, slowly poisoning the computers and the drell passengers for the next 150 years.
The computer malware is a worm instructed to hide the presence of the biological malware, an artificial virus. A flaw in the worm code slightly raised cryo temperatures beyond acceptable limits, allowing the virus to replicate and mutate inside their drell hosts for decades until it became lethal and able to jump across species, spread through infected Sleepwalkers contaminating their teammates who in turn brought the disease to their respective environmental zones.
The problem becomes so pervasive that K begins noticing discrepancies between sensor readings. On transit day 207,113 Sleepwalker Team Blue-7 is revived and told by K that passengers may have died while the sensors report nothing abnormal. After visual confirmation of deaths by the Sleepwalkers, further evidence of breakdowns become apparent.
The lights stay down despite orders for illumination, and when the team queries the VI they get erroneous answers in return, like asking for a temperature report on Deck 9 and receiving status reports for Deck 14 instead, or mistaking the medbay's location from Deck 9 to Deck 4. Water dispensation is also affected. Comms stop working halfway through the emergency, forcing a hotwire of the public address system to stand in for communications. Additionally, the ship's exterior kinetic barriers start failing every 9 minutes and 41 seconds, exposing the inner shields to hurtling debris at FTL speeds.
Despite the unreliable computers the Sleepwalkers manage to improvise a diagnostics platform for the biological virus using materials scavenged from the cargo bay. Complications further arise when the malfunctions begin to include comms breaking down, the trams breaking down, and prematurely defrosting passenger cryopods.
1,637 passengers and possible infectees initially take refuge in the cargo hold, with revival cascades still triggering in cryobays 1, 4, and 8 and increasing the number of people as time goes by. As it turns out, the Keelah Si'yah also has limited food supplies because it was presumed the Nexus would take care of the matter, rendering everyone awake hungry and everyone infected even hungrier. The Radial's floral bouquet is ravaged by desperate and/or diseased individuals, with some believing that ingesting the plants will cure the plague.
Thanks to the processing efforts of Senna's ancestor VI Liat'Nir, a breakthrough is discovered that should purge all traces of the worm from ark systems and allow computer-assisted help in synthesizing a cure for the recently-named Fortinbras Plague. Liat is uploaded into Keelah Si'yah, overwriting the main VI and gradually restoring functionality across the ship. Later, Liat instructs the awake and infected colonists to wait for the cure inside their respective environmental zones.
Meanwhile, Qetsi's crimes are exposed. Although she managed to avoid the security cameras by exploiting the blind spots between them, part of her shadow was caught for fleeting moments, enough for the Sleepwalkers to suspect sabotage and look for suspects. Instead of waking the Quorum for a full tribunal, Senna decides he and his teammates Anax and Yorrik would suffice to render judgement. Qetsi proceeds to atone for her schemes by being turned into the only carrier of the vaccine and visiting each racial habitat without her suit to maximize the spread of the cure.
Once the crisis has been resolved, the survivors dispose of the dead by ejecting them from Keelah Si'yah before returning to cryosleep. Extra efforts were made to isolate the Pathfinders and their equipment during the affair as their task of securing new homeworlds was deemed too important.
Mass Effect: Andromeda Edit
Sometime after the defeat of the kett invasion force in the Heleus Cluster a transmission from Keelah Si'yah is picked up by Port Meridian, warning people to stay away despite the plague problem being resolved decades earlier. The signal bounced around too many times to trace, leaving the ark's location unknown for the moment.
- The ship's name, which was first encountered in Mass Effect: Andromeda's epilogue, was given by Annihilation author Catherynne Valente during the game's development.