Previously on Andromeda Diaries: Ryder won over the grizzled hearts of the exiles and brought them back into the Nexus fold. Sort of.

Starting work on Kadara opened up all sorts of doors. When I return to the Tempest, my email inbox is full and everyone wants to talk. Peebee is having a meltdown in her escape pod, and I hop in to try to calm her down. She says that floating is what really calms her down, and SAM suggests she drop the gravity in the airlock and float around there. Ryder joins her and this progresses into further flirting that Peebee promises can be discreet, no strings attached. Assuming there are no cameras in the airlock, and Suvi, therefore, won’t find out, I let Ryder relieve some stress too.

Mass Effect Andromeda Diaries (Bioware 2017)

Zero-G stress relief. No strings attached.

Collecting remtech for Peebee has also paid off quite nicely. She’s created a Remnant VI for Ryder to use in battle. It’s a fantastic little machine that has saved my life a few times and earned me the Friendly Fire achievement by having it target the various type of remnant enemies.

Kallo and Gil’s earlier issues rise again, this time with Kallo sadly loading the Tempest’s blueprints up so that Gil can use and abuse her. Kallo expresses his love for the ship and all those who put their heart and soul into her creation. Ryder calls Gil up to see this and, despite my worry based on the earlier dealings these two have had, Gil does not respond rudely. Instead, he begins to see the ship through Kallo’s eyes and now they can be friends. This is the resolution I wanted for this conflict, but I’m still disappointed in how it played out and Ryder’s lack of input, and I’m baffled by its inclusion in the game at all. It’s a nice touch, but an incongruous one that holds no bearing on the overall plot. Kallo isn’t going to fly the ship any better or worse because of it, and Gil isn’t going to modify the ship any better or worse either. It feels mostly like a diversion written in by someone who wanted to add drama, but really didn’t do a good job of making it fit within the whole.

Arks are still missing, Cora, Vetra, and Liam all have personal problems to deal with and the Moshae wants to speak to Ryder in private about Jaal. All of this, and we still need to go after the Archon to steal information to find out how to get to Meridian and the mother of all vaults. Ryder calls a group meeting on the Tempest. Jaal and a few others want to go after the Archon, but the other team members caution patience and the need to gather more resources and allies. Drack speaks of the greatest allies of all: the krogan, who have built themselves up on Elaaden. Going after the Archon sounds very boss battle/final mission to me, so I want as much support as possible.

Liam Kosta

Liam asks Ryder to meet him at the bar on Aya, then asks her to scan some angara that won’t deal with him. There is little opportunity to side eye this request as hard as I would like to, even after Ryder complies and pisses of the angara in question. I do get to question Liam who finally admits that he’s been working with a group of angara to try to get stuff and things because he’s failed to get any support from the angaran government, the Nexus, or anyone else for his request to do something he thinks is important, but really probably isn’t. This all leads to a kett ship where his contact is being held captive. Side eyeing powers increase. But when we board the ship, it turns out the that ship has been taken over by an angaran rebel with a big chip on his shoulder. We fight our way through to kill him and rescue Liam’s friend and her mates, all with some seriously awesome help from Mayor August Bradley from the Eos colony, whom Liam had tried to get help from before, but was seemingly turned away. The best part is that Augie has brought mainly engineers with him and they fuck the ship up by literally turning everything upside down and sideways to help Ryder and her team get to the inevitable showdown with the pirate leader.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware 2017)

So done with you, Liam.

After we’re back safe and sound on the Tempest, Liam asks Ryder if they are okay. Like, as in, okay okay? No, Liam. There will be no more flirting with you, and I regret my Funko pre-order of your adorable POP! figure. Ryder doesn’t get to yell at him as much as I want to, and I’m still helping him organize his big movie night plans, but there shall be no sexy times, Liam. None.

Vetra Nix

Vetra’s little sister Sid has a lead on some missing colonists and asks Ryder and Vetra to help her follow up. Sid is fascinated by the Pathfinder and her sister’s adventures, but Vetra, having been forced to make some tough choices after their father abandoned them, does her best to keep Sid out of all that trouble. Vetra and Ryder track Sid’s coordinates to the planet that should have been the new turian homeworld, but this one is now completely uninhabitable. Ryder can’t even get out of the NOMAD due to the conditions. But there are several mining operations under protective domes and one leads to a trap set by Merriweather, an exile with a bad attitude and a serious hate for Vetra. Only, Vetra doesn’t know what is going on, even when the missing colonists appear and offer their gratitude. The light shines when Sid gets in touch with them and helps guide them out of the trap. Sid has been pretending to be Vetra and using her contacts to help exiles who want a second chance with the Initiative. And Sid is on the planet. Inevitably, this means she gets taken hostage by Merriweather.

Can’t we negotiate, Merriweather?

As with Liam’s mission and so many others, there is no opportunity for Ryder to end this peacefully through negotiation or manipulation, as offered in older BioWare games. (Or maybe we could have talked it through if I didn’t take the “shoot her” prompt.) We just get busy killing more of our own people. A cheap narrative out. Vetra and Sid have a sibling spat about this, with Sid wanting to be more involved–but realizing that what Vetra has had to do is not at all fun and games, and Vetra wanting to keep her little sister safe–but realizing Sid’s not so little anymore.

Cora Harper

Cora’s mission has already taken me to Eos to search for the asari ark, the Leusinia, and to Voeld. The goose chase finally leads me to the ark itself, which is severely damaged. Boarding the vessel, we find the thing practically deserted until the captain announces her plans to shoot us, believing we’re kett. Misunderstanding cleared up, we meet Captain Atandra and Sarissa Theris, the asari commando and bodyguard who has replaced Matriarch Ishara as the asari Pathfinder. They explain that they are being hunted by the kett after Sarissa stole kett navigation routes through the Scourge which would help them get to the Nexus. This is important information and Ryder backs the decision, even at the obvious cost to the Leusinia and its people, as well as the matriarch. The Leusinia isn’t going to survive another attack, and worse, there are kett on board. The captain has locked them down, so that means Ryder has to go clear them out. Along the way, we meet Vederia, a young asari commando. And here’s where this mission makes me want to tear my hair out because OMG Cora I need you to STFU.

Cora was an asari commando until her commander suggested she move on. She latched on to Alec Ryder as his second in command, but is still struggling with Ryder’s decision to pass SAM on to Penta Ryder instead. Cora has memorized teachings on asari honor and military tactics–written by Sarissa herself–and freely recites the precepts at what she feels are appropriate times. The Initiative is way too disorganized for me to believe there actually is a Pathfinder Handbook that is more than just doodled notes and maybe some memes, but if there was solid documentation, I know Cora would be reciting it to Ryder ad nauseum too. I am convinced that Cora is only the Pathfinder’s second because she incessantly chattered at Alec, who, in his obsession with working on on SAM, just grunted responses that Cora took as approval.

For this mission, Cora rolls back and forth between giving Vederia orders and reminding her of page 89,734 chapter 987,134 of how to asari, and kowtowing to Sarissa whom she idolizes as a hero and superior. This goes on so much in the mission that I found myself wishing I was back on Voeld listening to SAM tell me about the temperature instead.

The inevitable showdown with the kett is one of the more visually spectacular moments of the game, with Sarissa coming down for the epic save. But prior to this victory, we discover a datapad that reveals that Sarissa, a Tiamna, sacrificed the matriarch in order to get the Scourge route data. “‘Tiamna’ used to mean ‘guardian of the temples,’ a champion who stayed faithful even when all was lost,” laments Cora.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware 2017)

Sarissa looks pretty Tiamna to me.

Cora interprets this as Sarissa should have put the matriarch above the mission, but Ryder disagrees. The recording shows a Sarissa who regrets the sacrifice of the one, but believes that the data will save the 20,000 people aboard the Leusinia. Cora’s shattered delusion makes her hesitate when Sarissa calls for her help against the kett, but she finally steps up, strengthening Sarissa’s backlash shield that reflects the kett ship’s missiles back at it. Captain Atandra has gotten the FTL drives online just in time and they escape the explosion.

After, Cora freaks out on Sarissa, who defends her decision, though Ryder points out that Sarissa chose to keep it a secret which Cora believes is just about maintaining her hero status. Sarissa defends this too, pleading with Ryder about the Pathfinder’s job to also instill hope in the people. As always, Ryder is about the harsh truth and let’s Cora rat on Sarissa. Captain Atandra was already angry about the cat and mouse game Sarissa’s theft caused and is even angrier now. She and Cora want to replace the asari Pathfinder. Vederia is next in line, but she is too young and inexperienced. You could say the same for Ryder but, Vederia lacks the confidence and leadership skills that has Ryder displayed from the beginning and, under the circumstances, this isn’t a good time to be learning on the road. If you pick this option, Sarissa is displeased, and worse, Cora quotes her own words at her. Sarissa does not punch her in the face for this, but I would have. I choose to let Sarissa remain the Pathfinder. She made the tough decision and accepts the weight of the consequences. There are more such decisions to come and I need someone like that on my side.

Back at the Tempest, Cora is still reeling but she finally recognizes that she was never cut out to be a Pathfinder because she needs to have a path laid out for her, and is unable to forge her own, much less one for the entire Initiative.

Back at what has become Pathfinder HQ in Director Tann’s office, Sarissa expresses her concerns over being hated by her people, but Ryder tells her to take the opportunity to earn back their love. She intends to continue using the Scourge route data to help the Initiative and I’m sure good things will come.

The Corners of Alec’s Mind

I’ve been making sure to collect all of the memory triggers that will help SAM unlock access to Alec’s memories. I don’t exactly understand why the triggers are scattered all over the galaxy that Alec has never visited, but the memories revealed are, well, revealing. There are some touching family moments, including Ellen Ryder’s last hours. I get to see what Ryder’s twin brother looks like and remember that he’s actually part of this story.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware 2017)

Goodbye, mom.

I also get to “see” the Initiative’s secret benefactor. Or at least, I know that there is one and this person has contacted Alec Ryder about SAM and about the Initiative. Alec’s memories lead to an audiolog with Garson asking about the benefactor. Suspicion rises, but SAM has no further information on this benefactor, so I ask Director Tann. He doesn’t know anything either and isn’t a fan of Ryder’s implication that Garson isn’t the precious flower everyone believes her to be. He also doesn’t like the implication that her death was not the Scourge accident they all thought it was. After reading Nexus Uprising, I can confirm that the burned body was found by Sloane Kelly, with no foul play suspected, so Tann isn’t trying to hide anything. His concerns are purely for the mission. The Initiative is finally pulling itself together and working towards Garson’s dream. We don’t need to discover anything that will take away that hope.

Still, he directs Ryder to check out the room where Garson’s body was found. There, Ryder’s scans reveal murder, as well as a secret wall where Garson has a recording that warns that people are trying to kill her and she’s hidden passcodes in her VI in the Cultural Exchange. I return there, stopping to see what filthy propaganda Jaal is learning about the Milky Way inhabitants, and tap into Garson’s VI to learn more. It reveals that the Initiative is out of funds and something bad is coming to the Milky Way Galaxy, but the final answer goes on hold until I can figure out the security unlocks necessary to get to Alec Ryder’s final memory.

Of course, we couldn’t travel all the way to another galaxy without some murder and mystery!