Migrant Fleet
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Also known as the Flotilla, the Migrant Fleet is the massive fleet 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 starships that house seventeen million quarians. 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 eventually. As Tali'Zorah nar Rayya describes her culture: "Home is a state of mind."

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.

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 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.

Due to the high value of ships, stealing one is a capital crime among the quarians.

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 are the source of food for the entire Flotilla. Losing any one of them would be a catastrophe and doom millions of quarians to starvation, so the Liveships are under heavy guard and protected at all costs.

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.

Politics and Military Policy

In theory the Migrant Fleet is still 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 quarian policy of strip-mining systems for resources, and often being hired 'under the table' for their specialised skills, replacing existing workers, makes the approach of the Migrant Fleet very unpopular. Some species will make a 'gift' of fuel, food or ships if they know the Flotilla is approaching, to discourage the quarians from entering their system.

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