Also known as the Flotilla, the Migrant Fleet is the massive collection of starships that became home to the quarians after they were driven from their home world by the geth. The Migrant Fleet consists of roughly fifty thousand ships that house seventeen million quarians in total. The Fleet is so large it can take days for all the ships to pass through a mass relay. Some of the vessels date from the original flight from the geth three centuries ago.
The Migrant Fleet is rarely welcoming to outsiders, as any risk to the Fleet is a risk to the quarian species. Quarians rarely leave except to go on Pilgrimage; ships sometimes leave on an individual basis to pursue their own goals, on missions that can last days or years, but usually return. As Tali'Zorah nar Rayya describes her culture: "Home is a state of mind."
Mass Effect 2
A fleet of 50,000 craft holding over 17 million quarians, the Migrant Fleet is the largest array of spacefaring vessels in the known galaxy. Though quarians on Pilgrimage have visited most settled worlds in the galaxy, few outsiders have ever stepped foot inside the quarians' ships.
Mass Effect 3
Prior to the mission Priority: Rannoch:
A flotilla of 50,000 craft holding over 17 million quarians, the Migrant Fleet is the largest array of spacefaring vessels in the known galaxy. It is a testament to the quarians' strategic skill that these numbers have not dropped significantly during recent battles. The fleet is now on the far side of the star from Rannoch, the better to cloak its movement from the geth.
After the mission Priority: Rannoch, if the quarians survive:
Although the Migrant Fleet has suffered losses, it stands ready to assist the rest of the galaxy. The Civilian Fleet, which forms the majority of the flotilla, will remain near Rannoch with a token force of the Patrol Fleet for protection. The remainder of the Patrol Fleet will accompany the Heavy Fleet and its logistics train once they have completed repairs.
Life in the Migrant Fleet
The Migrant Fleet is broken up into various clans, sometimes spread over several ships. Each individual ship has long been retrofitted to house as large a crew as possible. Over time the quarians thin out the vessels they can't use or are too damaged to repair, pooling the credits to buy and convert new ships. Due to the high value of ships, stealing one is a capital crime among the quarians.
Conditions aboard every vessel in the Migrant Fleet are extremely cramped. One cruiser, the Idenna, had a quarian population of nearly seven hundred, while an Alliance cruiser of comparative size would have only around eighty crewmen. Space is at a premium because of the sheer numbers of quarians living aboard the Flotilla. Captains are also keen to increase the size of their crew, as this increases their status in quarian society. Living space is therefore a priority; the cargo holds of freighters, for example, are converted into small compartments for individuals to live in, often lined with colourful fabrics to make it an individual space and reduce noise.
Quarians also serve volunteer rotations aboard the three Liveships which form the heart of the Fleet. Enormous vessels which are recognised as being incredible feats of aerospace and agricultural engineering, the Liveships provide much of the food for the quarian Migrant Fleet. If even one of these vital ships was destroyed or damaged beyond repair, millions would starve. For this reason they are positioned in the center of the Migrant Fleet and heavily defended by the quarian navy.
Little more is known about the Liveships, since only quarian ships are allowed to enter the flotilla. One of the foodstuffs grown there is the keleven, a breed of blooming high-protein bioengineered celery.
Everything the quarians do must help to ensure the continued survival of the Migrant Fleet. The Pilgrimage forms a large part of this, as well as being a cultural rite of passage and a safeguard against inbreeding. The Pilgrimage also gives quarians a chance to explore galactic society and appreciate their own people back on the Flotilla. Young quarians are prepared for their Pilgrimage by having lessons in life outside the Migrant Fleet, receiving gifts to help them, and being treated for immunodeficiency before they are allowed to leave.
Apart from their Pilgrimages, quarians typically spend their entire lives living shipboard and contributing to the Flotilla. In addition, quarians do not normally welcome outsiders onto the Migrant Fleet, because visitors carry an unacceptable risk of contagion; taken together, these factors mean quarians tend to be quite insular, caring little about the galaxy outside the Fleet.
Upon the Migrant Fleet's arrival in a system, the quarians begin strip-mining local planets for resources. In colonized systems, quarians are also often hired "under the table" by corporations for their specialised skills, replacing existing workers. These practices make the approach of the Migrant Fleet a very unpopular prospect. Some species make a "gift" of fuel, food, or ships if they know the Flotilla is approaching in order to discourage the quarians from entering their systems.
Politics and Military Policy
In theory, the Migrant Fleet remains under martial law, meaning the captain of a ship has the final say on disputes, but in practice the quarians are quite democratic. Each ship has an elected civilian council and the captain often defers to their judgment. Overruling the council without a good reason is grounds for the captain to be removed.
Representatives from each ship serve on the Conclave, the civilian government. The Conclave makes the day-to-day decisions about Fleet business: collection of resources, the current course of the Flotilla, policing and so on. Opposition comes from a group called the Outriders' Coalition. The Conclave is overseen by the Admiralty Board, five quarians who can override the Conclave's decisions.
Once they have chosen to override the decision, the entire Admiralty Board must resign their posts or be arrested by the quarian military. This rule is in place to ensure that the Admiralty overrides the Conclave only in the most dire situations, when the Conclave is making a mistake that threatens the survival of the quarians as a species. This policy has served the quarians well: in three centuries, the Admiralty Board has only overridden the Conclave four times.
Outside the internal politics of the Migrant Fleet, the quarian navy is small, but highly aggressive due to the need to protect ships that effectively safeguard the future of their entire race. If the motives of approaching ships cannot be established, they will shoot to kill.
The thousands of ships that make up the Migrant Fleet are organized into four groups, each commanded by a different member of the Admiralty Board and each filling an integral role in the overall fleet.
The Patrol Fleet manages navigation, internal security, and intership conflicts or crimes for the Migrant Fleet. The Patrol Fleet consists of mostly light frigates and fighters, and in times of war is assigned to guard the Heavy Fleet's flank. It is commanded by Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay.
The Civilian Fleet consists of all of the quarians' civilian ships, the majority of the Migrant Fleet, and the liveships. It is commanded by Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib Qwib.
The Heavy Fleet is the main military force of the Migrant Fleet, comprised of all quarian vessels suited for sustained combat, including several heavy frigates and advanced fighter squadrons. It is commanded by Admiral Han'Gerrel vas Neema.
The Special Projects arm of the Migrant Fleet is a collection of research vessels responsible for many technical breakthroughs used by the rest of the Fleet. Special Projects is commanded by Admiral Daro'Xen vas Moreh.
Mass Effect: Ascension
By 2183 CE the Migrant Fleet was passing close to a volus-controlled system, including the planet Daleon. The volus were appealing to the Citadel to help them hasten the quarians' departure, but the Citadel was too busy taking out pockets of geth resistance and handling the restructuring of the Council to deal with the perennial problem of the Migrant Fleet.
In the middle of this, three humans - Kahlee Sanders, Gillian Grayson and Hendel Mitra - were brought to the Fleet by Lemm'Shal nar Tesleya for protection from Cerberus. Lemm, a young quarian on his Pilgrimage, took them aboard the Idenna, hoping that by arranging a meeting between the captain and Kahlee, he would have found a suitable Pilgrimage gift to join the crew. The quarians, astonished at having outsiders aboard the Fleet, initially confined them to their shuttle out of fear of contamination, and later asked their visitors to wear environmental suits at all times.
During her tours of the Idenna, Kahlee saw the huge living quarters, the ship's trading deck, and the bridge where she was met by the captain, Ysin'Mal vas Idenna. Captain Mal was described by Seeto'Hodda nar Idenna as a proponent for change in the Fleet, wanting to send ships on long-term missions to find new homeworlds rather than focusing on simply maintaining the status quo. This often brought the captain into conflict with more conservative quarians.
Kahlee soon discovered that the quarians, after seeing Saren Arterius control the geth, had been investigating every scrap of information about his past, and come up with her name. She was invited to a conference and interviewed by members of the Admiralty Board. They wanted to find out what she knew about the so-called Reapers, and if there was any chance the quarians could use a Reaper to control the geth themselves. Despite being an expert on synthetic intelligence, Kahlee knew very little about Saren and had few answers for them.
After the meeting, Kahlee had a private audience with Captain Mal of the Idenna. He told her soberly that the Migrant Fleet was dying. Although the quarians had maintained zero population growth aboard the Flotilla quite successfully in the three centuries since their exile, their problem was the lack of spaceworthy vessels. They were unable to replace old ships as fast as they were losing them, and within ninety years, their population would be unsustainable. Unfortunately the conservative policies of the Conclave and the Admiralty Board meant little was being done to prevent it, when Captain Mal knew that exploratory missions could be the answer. He asked for Kahlee's help, but was interrupted when the Idenna was attacked by Cerberus and the traitor Golo.
The assault was eventually repelled, but the simple fact of it sent ripples through the whole Fleet. The quarians realised that they were vulnerable to a determined attack, and that the Flotilla itself was more fragile than they had thought. The voices of captains like Mal were finally heard. Proposals were quickly drafted to send cruisers - including the Idenna - on long-term missions outside the Fleet, either to find new worlds to settle, or a way to finally drive the geth from the Perseus Veil and allow the quarians to return home.
Mass Effect 2
Commander Shepard and Tali can travel to the Migrant Fleet in 2185 to answer the charges of treason leveled against the quarian. Tali allegedly sent operational geth to her father. However, she only sent parts on her father's request, though he did not tell her why. She assumed her father was testing weapons on the geth. But, despite the fact that all the parts Tali sent were non-operational and harmless, the geth had somehow managed to commandeer the lab ship, killing all onboard and repelling any attempt at retaking the ship.
Fearing for her father, Tali and Shepard undergo what amounted to a trial of arms: retake the lab ship, or die trying. (In the event of their tragic deaths, one of the Fleet admirals promised to have Tali pardoned posthumously). After a battle aboard the laboratory ship, they discover that Tali's father had the geth rebuilt in an attempt to find a viable way to hack them. The project got out of hand, leading to his death, and Tali was blamed, ironically contrary to her father's intentions.
After the incident with Paul Grayson and his daughter Gillian, the quarian government was in the midst of heated debate, torn between fighting the geth for their homeworld or attempting to colonize a new system. Tali's father was for fighting the geth (having promised to build Tali "a house on the homeworld"), using the quarian's skill with technology, along with other admirals, but there was opposition from the colonist faction. Tali's trial, intentionally or unintentionally, became little more than a veneer under which the larger issue was to be settled. The personal cost to Tali was not considered.
Once the lab ship is saved, Tali begs Shepard not to reveal her father's work, fearing his disgrace, that her people would vilify him to the point of making him a warning to children for centuries, and even strike his name from the rosters of all of the ships he had served on (in effect, deleting any record of his existence). Shepard can reveal the evidence, which pardons Tali with most other options lead to her exile.
If Shepard presents the evidence to the court, Tali gets angry at Shepard, prompting her not to speak with the Commander, unless it is really important. After returning to the Normandy, she also informs Shepard that the Flotilla is now in great distress: some call for immediate war with the geth, some (on the contrary) wish to make peace with the geth.
If Shepard decides to withhold the evidence, Tali (regardless whether she was exiled or not) is grateful to Shepard for saving her father's name and stays loyal to the Commander, and the Fleet is none the wiser until Xen follows through with examining the data from the Alarei.
Mass Effect 3
Prior to the Reaper invasion in 2186, Admiral Daro'Xen's research teams developed several new technologies from the late Rael'Zorah's research that proved to be effective against the geth. Using the geth's reliance on extremely detailed ladar pings in their active scans, Xen's scanning countermeasure overwhelms them with garbage data, effectively crippling geth ships in combat like a flashbang grenade. The edge this gave the quarians in ship combat persuaded the Admiralty Board to vote 3-2 (or 3-1 if Tali was exiled) in favor of invading geth space in the hopes of reclaiming Rannoch.
To this end, the quarians began arming all of the ships in their Civilian Fleet, even going so far as to fight with Blue Suns mercenaries on Korlus to obtain the materials necessary to build dreadnought-scale weaponry for the liveships. The quarians succeeded in the endeavor and even managed to install Thanix weapons on their vessels somewhere along the way.
The quarians opened the war by launching precision strikes on four geth systems and driving them back to Tikkun, the quarian home system. The fleet also attacked a Dyson sphere that the geth had been building, the culmination of centuries of work intended to unite all geth into a single optimized network that would maximize their processing power. The destruction of the sphere rattled the geth, and they decided to accept upgrades from the Reapers to avoid destruction.
Upgraded with Reaper code, the geth's processing power increased dramatically, allowing them to neutralize Xen's countermeasure and become more coordinated and effective in combat. The war shifted in their favor and the Migrant Fleet began to sustain heavy losses. The geth fleet trapped the quarians within the Tikkun system and pushed them in range of a powerful antiship cannon on Rannoch that devastated the Migrant Fleet until Admiral Koris crashed his personal flagship into it.
With Commander Shepard's help, the quarians are able to counterattack against a Geth Dreadnought and disable the signal broadcasting the Reaper upgrade programming. This victory is short-lived, however, as the Reapers had already installed a backup: a Destroyer-class Reaper embedded in a bunker on Rannoch's surface continued to emit the signal. Shepard also destroys the Reaper, interrupting the signal. At this time, the geth are freed from Reaper control and attempt to harness the Reaper upgrade program to strengthen themselves independently of the Reapers. Admiral Han'Gerrel takes the opportunity to launch a final assault against the geth.
Depending on Shepard's decisions, one of three outcomes will occur: the geth will download the upgrade and repel the Migrant Fleet's attack, destroying it completely and dooming the quarians to extinction; the quarians will succeed in attacking, annihilating the geth and reclaiming Rannoch; or the quarians will be stopped from attacking and reach a compromise with the geth that allows both races to agree to peacefully coexist. If the quarians survive, the Migrant Fleet joins the Allied forces in the battle for Earth.
- Alarei: The lab ship where Tali's father was experimenting with geth hardware and subsequently killed.
- Chayym: One of the Migrant Fleet's three Liveships. Birth vessel of Keelah Si'yah's Captain Qetsi'Olam vas Keelah Si'yah.
- Idenna and her scout vessels, Cyniad and Bavea: The Idenna is a decommissioned Hensa-class batarian cruiser. It was attacked by Cerberus.
- Honorata: A small vessel crewed by Keenah'Breizh that Tali'Zorah traveled on at the start of her Pilgrimage. It was abandoned on Illium after Tali and the crew were ambushed by Jacobus.
- Lestiak: Kahlee presented herself before the Admiralty and Conclave on this ship.
- Moreh: The home vessel of Admiral Daro'Xen vas Moreh.
- Neema: The vessel Tali'Zorah joined after completing her Pilgrimage, taking the name Tali'Zorah vas Neema. The Neema is also the home vessel of Admiral Han'Gerrel vas Neema.
- Qwib-Qwib: The home vessel of Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib-Qwib. The crew of the Qwib-Qwib has had difficulty getting the registry changed and renaming it. Admiral Zaal'Koris is proud of his home ship and its name, and will defend it harshly if questioned. Based on a conversation with Tali, this apparently happens quite frequently. The admiral notes that he sometimes considers transferring to another vessel to avoid the stigma of an alien surname. He wistfully considers traditional names such as "vas Defrahnz" or "vas Iktomi".
- Rayya: One of the Migrant Fleet's three Liveships. Notable for being Tali'Zorah nar Rayya's birth ship. Seeto'Hodda nar Idenna's sister also joined the Rayya after completing her Pilgrimage.
- Shellen: One of the Migrant Fleet's three Liveships. If Admiral Zaal'Koris wasn't rescued, the loss of his leadership leaves the liveship vulnerable to the geth and it indeed suffers enough damage for its crew to initiate evac procedures via escape pods.
- Tonbay: A vessel which Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay joined after going on Pilgrimage.
- Usela: The quarian traitor Golo, as 'Golo'Mekk vas Usela', was accepted into the Usela's crew after his Pilgrimage. He was exiled after trying to sell his fellow quarians to the Collectors.
- Yaska: A gunship that Admiral Han'Gerrel vas Neema and Admiral Rael'Zorah served on when they were younger. It had or has a crew of ten.
- Alliance News Network Information Partners: "Migrant Fleet refuses Council inspectors" by Diana Allers.
- The Migrant Fleet is not featured in Mass Effect, apart from being mentioned in conversations with Tali. In Bring Down the Sky, if Shepard suggests evacuating Terra Nova, Simon Atwell claims that only the Flotilla has the number of ships they'd need and he "[doesn't] see the quarians showing up to give [them] a lift."
- An abandoned quarian vessel can be found in the carbonaceous asteroid field in the Phoenix system during a survey, but is never seen.
- Bringing Legion aboard the Migrant Fleet in order to complete Tali's loyalty mission will trigger tensions between Shepard and the quarian marines guarding the airlock, as well as with the members of the Admiralty Board.
- Ships that look like the smaller Migrant Fleet vessels can be seen flying through the atmosphere of Korlus. Some of them are shown releasing something, presumably waste and/or discharge onto the planet.
- The Migrant Fleet's situation is similar to that of the humans in the sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica (both classic and new), and the Travelers from Stargate Atlantis, who have a similar system of government with a governing council and ship captains who have final say on what happens on their own vessels.