- “Nothing like a nice relaxing stroll on the beach, blasting bad guys with my boomstick!”
- —Ashley Williams
Ashley Madeline "Ash" Williams is a marine in the Systems Alliance, the second human Spectre, and the love interest of John Shepard. She was a member of Shepard's squad and the former platoon guide of the 2nd Frontier Division's Unit 212.
Born into a military family with a long history of service going back three generations, Williams’s father, grandfather, and great-grandmother all served in the Alliance since its foundation despite the stigma her family suffers from the dubious service history of her disgraced grandfather General Williams. When she came of age, Williams continued her family's tradition and enlisted directly out of high school. She is often described as confident, independent, and at times aggressive; however, at times her "human-centric" views can get the best of her and she can come across as insular and not willing to accept help when it is needed.
She was initially commissioned as a gunnery chief in the Alliance’s 2nd Frontier Division on Eden Prime, but was later assigned to Commander Shepard’s squad following the geth attack. The two would later become romantically involved. Throughout the Eden Prime War, Williams continued to assist with the war efforts against the rogue Spectre Saren Arterius and coordinate efforts with the Citadel Council to either apprehend or eliminate him. During the Raid on Virmire, Williams was rescued from a nuclear detonation at the cost of Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko's life. She assisted in leading a mutiny against both the Alliance and Council after overriding Ambassador Donnel Udina's orders to unlock the Normandy's systems and pursue Saren to the remote planet Ilos. Following the mission, Williams participated in the Battle of the Citadel as part of Commander Shepard's team, with the objective of destroying the Reaper known as Sovereign. One month after the Battle of the Citadel, Shepard was killed in a Collector surprise attack and was subsequently brought back to life by Cerberus two years later, Williams' relationship with Shepard was strained due to his temporary alliance with the pro-human terrorist organization.
When the Reapers invaded the known galaxy, Williams was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander and aided in the formation of a coalition to repel the Reapers. During the conflict, she was appointed the second human Spectre and slowly reconciled with Shepard and rekindled their romantic relationship. Williams soon fought in the final battle to retake Earth, a conflict that led to her being badly wounded and evacuated to the Normandy. After the Reapers were destroyed, Williams returned to active duty to begin assisting with the relief efforts.
The aftermath of the Battle for Earth left the galaxy in rubble, and with the Council reformed as the Interstellar Republic as the war came to a close, Williams continued to serve as a Spectre and was later promoted to the rank of captain due to her efforts in a number of repelling small-scale skirmishes by pirate forces during one of the galaxy’s largest reconstruction efforts. During this time, Williams and Shepard were married and had four children. Her eldest child, Kaidan, was often threatened by Shepard's enemies and Williams was always on the move to protect him. When the yahg became spaceflight and began attacking Republic-controlled space, Williams was brought back into the fight to lead the Normandy against the hostile invaders. The yahg were eventually defeated and Williams attended her husband's inauguration as the new First Minister.
In 2208, Williams returned to the Alliance as a General and commanded of the 2nd Marine Reconnaissance Division to help her son in the final battle against the extra-galactic targarium species. She is the first Williams since her grandfather to attain the rank of General.
Born on April 14, 2158 on the Vercingetorix Outpost on the colony world Sirona in the 61 Ursae Majoris system, Ashley comes from a large family that includes a long line of Alliance soldiers: her great-grandmother, grandfather, and father all served in the Alliance Navy. She is the oldest of four daughters, followed by Abby, Lynn, and Sarah.
Because of her father’s frequent deployments, Ashley and her family transferred from colony to colony at least half a dozen times before she finished grade school and grew up in a relatively stable life with her mother as her father was constantly on active duty while also helping to raise her sisters. As a result, the siblings grew close to one another. However, despite his hard work, her father never rose above the rank of Serviceman 3rd Class, a fact she is deeply bitter about.
- “Takes a special kind of thickheaded to march into a job where your family's blacklisted. Did it anyway.”
- —Ashley Williams
Following family tradition, Ashley enlisted in the Alliance military as a marine after high school and was assigned to the Recruit Training Depot in Macapá, Brazil. During training, she certified proficient with the standard-issue M7 Lancer assault rifle and light and standard weight combat hardsuits. She completed certification in zero-gee combat aboard the Rakesh Sharma Orbital Platform in Earth geosynchronous orbit. For Hostile Environment Assault Training, she was assigned to Fort Charles Upham on Saturn's moon, Titan. She was awarded a commendation for her bold assault technique in a field exercise simulating an attack on turian point defense emplacements. Drill Instructor Gunnery Chief Ellison noted her steadfast endurance and aggressive instincts, and promoted her to the role of squad leader. After observing her effective tutelage of the less skilled members of her training unit, he promoted her to platoon guide. She maintains a friendly correspondence with Drill Instructor Gunnery Chief Ellison.
Determined to do her best as she was quite resentful about the very clear discrimination against her father despite his exemplary record, Ashley worked very hard, setting high scores in almost every drill she was part of, and leaving very little leeway for her instructors to be able to reprimand her for any slacking of any kind. She got certified for use of assault rifles, Zero-G combat and garnered many commendations throughout her training from various instructors. She tried multiple times to get transferred to shipside posts, but her requests were always denied for no explicit reason and she was always assigned to groundside garrison posts. Still, she did the best she could with every mission she was handed, no matter how much she believed she deserved better missions that would truly test her abilities as a soldier.
Chief Williams has served in a number of ground force garrisons on Alliance colony worlds and industrial outposts. She has repeatedly requested transfer to a shipboard posting, but each request has been denied without comment by her superiors. Every year since enlistment, she has used her mandatory week of leave to visit her family on Amaterasu. In 2181, she made an exceptional request for a week-long leave of absence from her posting at the Czarnobóg Fleet Depot, citing family issues.
Eden Prime War
Attack on Eden Prime
- “Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams of the 212. You the one in charge here, sir?"
"Are you wounded, Williams?"
"A few scrapes and burns. Nothing serious. The other guys weren't so lucky.”
- —Ashley Williams and Commander Shepard
Two days before the attack on Eden Prime, Ashley was at a bar during shore leave with her fellow soldiers from Unit 212. Sergeant Donkey kept trying to seduce her to no avail, and Ash even joked about hooking up with Pennyloafer, a girl, instead. The horsing around was interrupted with the arrival of the unit’s commanding officer, who presented the soldiers with a rescue mission. A beacon was unearthed and the unit was assigned to defend it. Despite being a normal squad leader, Ashley wasn’t given command on the mission, with leadership duties being regulated to Sergeant Donkey. Ashley correctly interpreted the commanding officer’s prejudice regarding her heritage, and grudgingly accepted the situation.
Unlike the rest of the squads in Unit 212, Ashley’s 6-man team Dog Squad was ordered to go to the mission site on foot. During the long trek, Sergeant Donkey expressed his belief that Ashley should be the one leading the mission, praising her ability to keep a level head under pressure. Ashley observed that he was still trying to sleep with her and Donkey didn’t deny the assertion, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t being earnest. Ashley held out hope that maybe she and Donkey will get lucky one day, and continued the march ahead.
On the eve of the eve of the attack, Dog Squad discovered fellow 212 group Bravo Squad dead in a ditch. Ash was ordered to pair up with Bates to investigate, and noticed that the dead soldiers didn’t even have the chance to draw their weapons. Bates was distraught at the side of a dead soldier he once knew, and Ash put her hand on his shoulder to console him.
Intercepted transmissions later indicated that the other squads Able and Charlie were under attack from an unknown enemy. Because of the situation change and the need for a real leader, Sergeant Donkey relinquished leadership of Dog Squad to Ashley. Ashley then stirred up the group’s fighting spirit and encouraged them to double-time it to the dig site. Dog Squad surveyed the dig site at dawn, and surmised the enemy attackers were geth. They were unfortunately spotted by geth recon drones and fired upon. Ashley attempted to execute the squad’s battle plan: she sent Rasputin to an elevated position, gave Sergeant Donkey orders to create a diversion, and tried to set up an ambush herself.
Their flanking maneuver brought down some geth, but the squad began to take heavy casualties. Pennyloafer was dead and Ashley ordered Jenner to transmit a general warning, but the comm specialist was shot before long. Rasputin and Donkey went down before getting the chance to heed Ashley’s retreat call. Bates disappeared and didn’t respond to Ashley’s hails, leaving her alone to fend off the geth. She would not take defeat lying down, and successfully fought her way out of her surrounded position. She played cat and mouse with the geth until they found her again, and just when she was sure she was about to be shot dead she got lucky: Commander John Shepard and Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko arrived to her rescue, where they managed to thwart a planned bombing of the colony.
Serving under Commander Shepard
- “I have to admit, I was a little worried about being assigned to the Normandy. It's nice when someone makes you feel welcomed.”
- —Ashley Williams
As sole survivor of her unit and having demonstrated her combat abilities on Eden Prime, Captain David Anderson has Ashley transferred to the SSV Normandy SR-1. Initially, she was uncomfortable about filling a dead man's shoes after the loss of Corporal Richard Jenkins, and blamed herself for not being more alert during the geth attack. Over time, Ashley became more accustomed to the crew, even getting along well with Kaidan.
She was later approached on the Citadel by an Alliance psychologist named Captain Channing a day after the geth attack, who coaxed her to talk about the events on Eden Prime. Initially wary of the psychologist, Ashley warmed up a little when the introspective moment allowed her to think about what Donkey once said: "luck is for the lonely."
While off duty, Ashley spends her time in the Normandy's storage section, cleaning rifles. Upon interaction, she gives feedback on recent missions, or the latest shipboard gossip before anyone else. Ashley seemed interested in Shepard’s background. She is amazed that both she and Shepard went to the same training facility and even reminisces about getting yelled at by Gunnery Chief Ellison. Later, she revealed that her grandfather was General Williams, who surrendered the garrison at Shanxi to the turians during the First Contact War, thus becoming the first human to surrender to an alien force. Her superiors’ prejudice against her family meant she had mostly been stuck on groundside garrison posts – preventing her from gaining actual combat experience – despite her exemplary technical scores. Possibly due to the discrimination she experienced, Ashley asserts that a Williams has to be better than the best, to make up for Shanxi, making her dedicated to her job, but also prickly, blunt and quick-tempered.
Ashley has strong religious beliefs but is hesitant to discuss it with Shepard because she's concerned of the uneasiness it may cause in others. Her faith is strengthened by her work in space — "How can you look out at this galaxy and not believe in something?" — and she believes that her father who had passed away is with God. She still remembers his favorite poem, Tennyson's "Ulysses", by heart. When Shepard jokingly states that Ashley is the last person the Commander would expect to hear quoting classical literature, Ashley indignantly replies "just because I can drill you between the eyes from a hundred meters, doesn't mean I can't like sensitive stuff! But don't spread it around." Though she is tough and aggressive, Ashley has displayed a compassionate side; when meeting Samesh Bhatia she is very respectful and sympathetic, taking the time to say how much his late wife Serviceman Nirali loved him.
Due to her family history, groundside assignments, and lack of experience in working with other races, she tends to be distrustful of aliens. Ashley doesn't trust the Citadel Council and believes humanity can't rely on them staying allies. She questions the wisdom of allowing Urdnot Wrex and Garrus Vakarian to wander around freely, and dismisses the Prothean Cipher as "some asari mumbo jumbo", believing the Commander has suffered needlessly to get it. However, Ashley acknowledges that Shepard is in command and the presence of aliens on the Normandy is not her decision. That being said, Ashley isn't xenophobic. She dismisses the Terra Firma political party as a group of xenophobic "jackals" who have replaced the original noble aims of the party with anti-alien paranoia. Even though she will not hesitate to shoot Wrex if she believes he presents a threat to Shepard on Virmire, she happily volunteers to go with Captain Kirrahe's team and works well with the salarians, respecting their tenacity and skill.
At the operation on Vimire, Shepard saves Ashley’s life, but at the cost of losing Kaidan. During the debriefing, Ashley is angry at Shepard’s decision, saying Kaidan was a superior officer and she should have been the one left behind. However, Shepard responds by asking how far Ashley is willing to go in order to clear her grandfather’s name, quickly silencing her.
In a later banter, Ashley admits that she does have qualms about facing the Reapers, claiming she’s infantry and will have no place in the upcoming battles but Shepard assures her that she’s needed. Eventually she comes to her senses and agrees to work with the Normandy’s multi-species crew to stop Saren Arterius, even becoming good friends with Dr. Liara T'Soni, Tali'Zorah nar Rayya, and even Garrus and Wrex. The 'aliens' of the Normandy crew became good friends. She became very close to Shepard and fell in love with him, looking up to him for guidance in many issues and believed herself quite lucky to have met a man like him.
When the Normandy is grounded by the Council, Ashley persuades Shepard not to give in and the two nearly share a kiss before being interrupted by Joker. En route to Ilos, Ashley comes to Shepard's quarters, saying that, after a long career of being sidelined by the Alliance, he helps her to feel "good enough", and the two spend the night together. She continues to tease Shepard; claiming to have something important to tell him, but if he wants to hear it, he'll have to survive Ilos and come back to her first.
- “I wanted to believe that you were alive… I just never expected anything like this. How could you just turn your back on all of us? You betrayed the Alliance, you betrayed Anderson! You betrayed me!"
"Ash, you know me. You know I'd only do this for the right reasons. You saw it yourself. The Collectors are targeting human colonies. And they're working with the Reapers!"
"I'd like to believe you, Shepard. But I don't trust Cerberus. And it worries me that you do. What did they do to you? What if they're behind it? What if they're the ones working with the Collectors.”
- —Ashley Williams and Commander Shepard
Williams continued to serve under Shepard aboard the Normandy. During a routine patrol, however, the ship came under attack from a vessel belonging to the enigmatic Collectors and Shepard ordered her to evacuate with the rest of the crew. Though she and the majority of the crew managed to escape, the ship was destroyed, with Shepard killed after being blown into space. Her feelings towards Shepard made his death during the Terminus mission a painful blow. Ash initially refused to believe that Shepard died; she only truly began to realize it during the funeral held for him on the Citadel without his body being found. In private, Ash broke down in tears and mourned the loss of her commanding officer and the love of her life. Shepard’s death had impacted her greatly afterwards. She ended up throwing herself full force into her work and remained in the service of the Systems Alliance military for the next two years and was promoted to Operations Chief, all the while attempting to move on with her life.
At some point, Ashley was assigned to the Alliance Marine Reconnaissance Unit's Hunter Platoon, deployed during the closing operating stages of Task Force Justice. Hunter Platoon was assigned to covert surveillance and reconnaissance following the mysterious disappearances of several human colonies under the auspices of a colonial outreach program program operated by Alliance Intelligence.
After a string of Alliance colonies had been abducted, it was believed that Cerberus was involved in these actions. Ashley was even informed of reports indicating that Shepard was alive and working for Cerberus. Thus, she was dispatched to the colony of Horizon in order to update its defenses to prepare it for an expected Cerberus assault. However, that proved not to be the case as the planet suffered an onslaught from the Collectors while the defense grid was still non-operational. During the assault, Ashley is attacked and paralyzed by a seeker swarm, but is found after the Collectors leave Horizon.
The meeting was intense to say the least, and Ash was reduced to a yelling, illogical mess as she tried to deal with the shocks that kept coming one after the other as he spoke to her. When she noticed that Garrus was with Shepard, Ashley expressed her surprise that he is working with Cerberus and Garrus attempts to reason with Ashley claiming her feelings towards Cerberus are blinding her to see the truth behind the attacks. Eventually, she left, needing space and time to process all that she's learned, only to regret it a mere few days later. She sent him an email to apologize for her behavior; it wasn't much, but it was the best she could do given the circumstances.
Upon returning to Hunter Platoon, the team was recalled to take part in Operation: Gorgon somewhere within the Terminus Systems, with only four marines killed in action. Ashley assumed temporary command of the unit and was soon awarded the Silver Star for her bravery.
The Reaper Invasion
Fall of Earth
- “They're gonna take out that dreadnaught! Evasive maneuvers!”
- —Ashley Williams, during the Reapers' invasion of Earth
Ashley once again threw herself back in her work, as she was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, and prayed for Shepard's safe return whenever she could spare the time. A few months had passed until she managed to hear news of him again, during very hard times: Shepard had blown up an entire star system by ramming an asteroid full force into a mass relay. The first and only time she managed to see Shepard was when he was brought back to Earth, by the time she was asked by a committee of Alliance military leaders to testify about her experience with the Reapers.
Admirals Anderson and Hackett both assured her that they pulled every string possible to not get Shepard thrown in prison for the rest of his life, especially with the alarming reports he had about the Reapers. Shepard was stripped of his rank and his ship in the Alliance HQ based at Vancouver, while Anderson was out there trying his best to get the committee to listen to his and Shepard’s warnings and Ashley did her best to support Anderson anyway she could.
She then joins Shepard on a mission to recover Prothean data on Mars, where humanity first discovered mass effect technology. Upon arrival, Shepard, James and Ashley take the shuttle down to the planet, receiving a warning from EDI that the base is not responding. They soon discover the reason why upon witnessing Cerberus soldiers executing surviving Alliance personnel; the group fights their way through the enemy, inferring from the small size of the Cerberus force that they must have had help from the inside. Ashley expressed her surprise that Shepard was unaware of this, given his past association with Cerberus, and is unwilling to believe he cut ties with the extremist organization following his defeat of the Collectors, much to Shepard’s frustration.
After entering the station and arriving in time to witness Liara biotically overpower and execute her pursuers, Liara explains why Hackett sent them to find her; she has found in the Archives blueprints for a Prothean device that might allow them to turn the tide against the Reapers. Unfortunately, Cerberus has learned of it too, and now they must hurry to recover the necessary information before Cerberus can. After sending James back to the shuttle to secure their escape route and prevent Cerberus from doing so, Shepard, Ashley and Liara fight their way through the station to the main Archive, discovering along the way the identity of the traitor in the station: Dr. Eva Coré, supposedly a recently arrived researcher, but in truth a mole who sabotaged the station's defenses to allow Cerberus entry. The group then encounters Dr. Coré, who had been trying to upload information on the Prothean device, but her upload is interrupted by the squad and she tries to flee.
Although Coré is able to reach a Cerberus shuttle, James disables it with a kamikaze attack before it can escape, having also alerted the Normandy to extract the squad. Coré, revealed to be an android by the explosion, emerges from the wreckage and attacks. Near the end of the mission, after chasing down Dr. Eva, Ashley is critically injured after the Illusive Man orders Dr. Eva to "finish her." After disabling Dr. Eva, Shepard carries an unconscious Ashley back onto the Normandy just as Reaper forces begin landing on Mars.
Second human Spectre
- “I'd like an answer, Lieutenant Commander. The galaxy has need of exceptional soldiers like you, now more than ever."
"I still need time. You'll have my answer soon, I promise."
"I look forward to it.”
- —Citadel Councilor Donnel Udina and Ashley Williams, about being Spectre candidate
While recovering, Councilor Donnel Udina offers her Spectre status. After his missions, Shepard was able to speak to Ashley in the hospital. Although she admits that her doubts about him are still present, Ashley promises to work with him. She tells Shepard about the hard times her sister Sarah is going through as her husband, being a marine was called back in action. When Shepard asks her about her promotion to Lieutenant Commander, she remarks the old "Williams curse" must be losing its grip, to which Shepard replies that she'd earned it. In time Ashley recovers from her injury and accepts Udina's offer.
She spends more time with Shepard on Huerta Memorial regarding her new position, with the conversation shifting to her family. Ashley reveals that her family made it onto the Citadel and goes into further detail, saying that her sister’s husband Thomas who was a Second Lieutenant stationed on Demeter was killed in action, and that Sarah wants to at least say some words at the Lieutenant’s memorial service.
Cerberus coup attempt
- “Damn it! Cerberus hit the shuttle! Everyone back to the elevator!”
- —Ashley Williams
When Cerberus invades the Citadel, Ashley is discharged from the hospital and is tasked to protect the Council but is unaware that Udina is working with Cerberus to take control of the Citadel. Despite Kai Leng's best efforts to slow down and stop his pursuit, Shepard reaches the Council ahead of him at a shuttle pad, locking the exits to prevent Cerberus troopers from attacking and a tense standoff ensues, with Ashley standing in his way. Shepard reveals Udina's treachery and while he attempts to deny it, the rest of the Council, after all the times they didn't listen to Shepard, began to believe him. This puts Shepard and Ashley in a conflict.
When Udina tried to override the lockdown, Shepard succeeds in talking Ashley down and she instead turns her gun on Udina and orders him to stand down. Left with a few options, Udina began to override the lock on the door. Councilor Tevos tries to stop him, but he pushes her to the ground and pulls a gun on her. Shepard was ultimately forced to kill Udina. With Udina dead and their plan thwarted, Leng and the remaining Cerberus forces fled, while C-Sec began securing the station.
As Shepard is about return to the Normandy, Ashley meets him by the docks, where she reflects on how they both almost killed each other doing what they believed to be right. She mentions that she was offered a place on Admiral Hackett's team but that if she has any choice in the matter she would rather be on the Normandy. Shepard allows her back into his squad onboard the Normandy and Ashley takes up residence on the Starboard Observation Deck, the quarters formerly occupied by Samara.
- “Hackett asked me to join his team. It's a great offer, but... I prefer to ride this thing out onboard the Normandy.”
- —Ashley Williams to John Shepard
After the turian platoon’s rescue on Tuchanka, she sympathizes with the primarch’s son, Lieutenant Tarquin Victus, knowing that it’s never easy losing people in one’s unit. After the bomb’s defusal on the same planet, she expresses that it was a "damn shame it went the way it did." She stands by the Memorial Wall to pay her respects to Kaidan. Shepard tells her to put in a good word for them.
When the team bugs out of Utukku alive, Ashley complains that she’s still got slime to clean off her armor. She is distrustful of the deal Shepard brokered with the Rachni Queen they previously saved on Noveria three years earlier and comments on Grunt, remarking about his "badassery" after he walked out alive.
Upon completing the evacuation on Gellix, Ashley says she hopes a bunch of ex-Cerberus can be trusted. She’s also just glad that Jacob turned out alright, though she does note that scooping those scientists from under the Illusive Man’s nose is bound to piss the guy off, and that things could’ve turned out worse with civilians and children in the mix.
After blowing up the monastery on Lessus, Ashley remarks that banshees aren’t a side of the asari she wants to see, and acknowledges Shepard’s knack for making "unusual" friends after encountering Samara. She also says she wants to read Sarah’s old letters again due to the events that took place on the planet.
Battle for Rannoch
When it is revealed that the geth and quarians are now at war with each other, Ashley expresses her lingering resentment towards the geth after the destruction of the sabotaged geth dreadnought over Rannoch. She sighs in frustration and disbelief that even after all these years she is still fighting the synthetics. Humorously, Ashley says that the destruction of the geth ship leads to a 1-0 lead of humanity versus the "blinky flashlights". After the rescue attempt on Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib-Qwib, she approves of Shepard strafing the geth from the shuttle. Due to saving Koris, it got her thinking about the value of a good leader, on how many lives should be sacrificed to protect a truly inspired one, and hopes she never has to find out.
In one amusing interlude after Shepard’s trip to the Geth Consensus, Shepard found a drunk Ashley lying wasted on the floor with a hangover. She reveals she spent the previous night trying to "get her mind off stuff" by drinking an entire bottle of unspecified liquor with James. As the other human Spectre lies mewling on the cold starboard floor Shepard responds to this with playful banter, much to Ashley’s annoyance.
After the Geth-Quarian War’s conclusion, Ashley exclaims that she is impressed on the feat Shepard did after he managed to make peace between the quarians and the geth. She also expresses skepticism on how long the peace will last.
Rekindling an Old Flame
- “We had something before. A long time ago. Something important. You've seen me at my worst. Totally embarrassing. You were there for me when my baby sister was suffering. I've... held a gun on you, Shepard. I'm just saying... We've been through a lot. I have to know: are we... going somewhere?"
"I want more, Ash. I can't see myself with anyone else."
"That's good. I'd hate to have to punch out which table-dancing tart is throwing herself at you this time.”
- —Ashley Williams and Commander Shepard
During one the downtimes after missions, Ashley sends an email to Shepard stating that the preparations for Sarah’s husband’s memorial service are complete. It takes place on the Refugee Docks’ Memorial Wall, and she is going to comfort her younger sister but doesn’t want to do it alone. Shepard visits the sisters there in one of the next trips to the Citadel and is comforting and respectful to Ashley, cementing the relationship further. Ashley compares her sister's demeanor to their father's during the memorial: all smiles regardless of stress and delves further into memories of her father before joining Sarah in shared remembrance.
Later on, she sends another email asking Shepard to meet her on the Citadel. Ashley tells him how her dad would have liked Shepard. She apologizes for all that has happened between them and asks if they are "going somewhere". When Shepard reciprocates, they share a kiss together and rekindle their romance.
Chase down Cerberus
After the disastrous mission on Thessia, Ashley sympathizes with Liara’s grief and tells Shepard she will talk to Liara to ease her suffering.
During the mission to Sanctuary on the colony of Horizon, Ashley is horrified by what the squad found in the ruins, stating that she can’t get it out of her head. Just when she thought she’s heard of everything, she notes how the plan to lure in refugees was so cold and calculating that she can’t understand it. She is glad that she can’t, as it’s what helps retain her humanity and wonders aloud about what the galaxy’s refugees will do now.
Foiling an assassination plot
At some point, Ashley tags along with the rest of Shepard’s gang in trying to determine the mastermind behind the latest attempt on the Commander’s life. Liara figured out that they have a lead tracing the M-11 Suppressor Shepard stole from one of the assailants, a weapons dealer named Elijah Khan who happens to run a public events on his Silver Coast Casino. Shepard brings Ash along in the plan to get answers from the man, and the second human Spectre dons a tight blue evening dress for the occasion. She’s also part of Team Mako with Liara and Maya Brooks during an all-out assault on the Citadel Archives.
When Shepard’s botched shore leave is settled and real opportunities for Citadel R&R arise, Ashley requests a meeting with Shepard at the Silver Coast Casino's upper bar, where she challenges the Commander to a drinking contest to prove who is a "real Spectre" and who's just pretending to be one. Shepard matches her shot-for-shot, but the two have their evening interrupted by a batarian and a vorcha, with the former persistently poking Shepard and proclaiming their dislike for "Alliance types". Shepard quips "rain check" to Ash, and the two "Alliance types" proceed to beat up the aggressors.
At the first phase of Shepard’s big party, Ashley sits with James by the ground floor couches, teasing Steve Cortez. At the party’s second phase, Ashley is encouraged by James to support him in his argument for physical training over biotics. When everyone was invited to dance at the last leg of the party, Ashley hangs out on the balcony watching Liara floating James around. With the mood settling down to a relaxed phase, she sits with Steve, Joker, and most of Shepard’s acquaintances in the upper floor couches. Wrex recounts the time on Virmire when he was ready to kill for the genophage cure. He asks Ashley if she would’ve killed him back then. Ash says so without hesitation if he left her no choice, and Wrex announces that he respects her for that. Next morning, Shepard and Ashley awake in his bed and kiss each other good morning before rising. She later stands around by the central island counter in the kitchen, anticipating Vega’s eggs.
Assault on Cronos Station
Just before the assault on the Cerberus headquarters, Ashley visits the Captain’s Quarters and tries to comfort Shepard about all the people they’ve lost. She expresses how she felt lost herself and that it broke her heart when Shepard was dead. At long last, they admit their love for each other, then kiss and spend the night together.
After the raid on Cronos Station, Ashley comments on the demise of Cerberus, stating that she was glad that it was Shepard who shut them down, adding that it felt right. She never thought that she would see the end of Cerberus, adding "Good riddance."
Battle for Earth
Ashley and Shepard spoke to each other for what seemed to be the last time during the final assault on Earth, loitering near a couple of soldiers and a structure housing the London FOB’s holographic communications terminal. Restless when Shepard inquires how she’s holding up, she asks back if they have a chance, and the Commander assures her there’s always hope as it got them so far. She praises Shepard as the reason all of them got to where they are now, and Shepard answers that Ash and other people like her picked the Commander up when he stumbled, Ash quips back that "hero-man" saved her almost as many times as she saved him. She feels it’s been a thousand years since Eden Prime, finding it hard to figure out how they got to their current situation. Ash was always a survivor, and Shepard compliments her as such, though she doesn’t really believe it until Shepard adds that she’s also a Spectre and a fine soldier. He then recites from one of Tennyson’s poems "The Charge of the Light Brigade", a reference to how poetry has been used to convey their feelings throughout their relationship. Fearful, Ashley grabs Shepard and tells him she doesn’t want him to go and that she loves him. He gently replies that he loves her too and says "let’s get it done, and go home". In a breaking voice, Ashley responds "aye aye Captain."
Ashley is among the squadmates Shepard brings with him during the final push towards the Conduit, but is badly wounded by Harbinger and evacuated to the Normandy. After tending to her wounds onboard, the crew noticed the Crucible firing a red beam of energy that destroys the Reapers on as well as around Earth and transmits this energy to every relay in the mass relay network through the Charon Relay before damaging them and the Citadel as well. Admiral Hackett notices the Crucible activate and orders the fleet to disengage and rendezvous outside of the blast zone. Joker hesitates until the last possible second, desperate to save Shepard, but is convinced by Ashley to fly the Normandy to safety before getting caught in the blast wave. However, he leaves too late; the Normandy jumps to FTL speeds but is caught by the energy released from the Crucible and crash-lands in a jungle on an unidentified world.
Much later, Ashley is among the mourners paying their respects to the fallen at the Normandy’s memorial wall, but refrains from placing Shepard’s plaque on the wall, smiling with hope as the Normandy flies off.
With the activation of the Crucible, the Reapers (along with the majority of synthetic life) were destroyed and the war finally came to a pyrrhic end. Wondering what their next plan of action was, Ashley ordered Joker and the Normandy crew to return to Earth to find and recover Shepard’s body among the wreckage.
Upon hearing the news that Shepard survived the Crucible’s blast, Ashley breathed a sigh of relief and promised herself that she would never leave Shepard’s side until he fully recovered. She attended his ceremony when he was declared a hero to all races of the galaxy and was showered with medals and honors from all species. However, after Shepard was released from the hospital, he informed his squadmates of his decision to leave the Alliance military, greatly surprising them. Ashley tries to convince Shepard to change his mind, but when it was clear that Shepard wouldn’t, she sadly relented and watched him walk away, disappearing from the public eye for some time.
For her part in playing a role in helping to defeat the Reapers, Ashley was promoted to the rank of Captain and was assigned as the new commanding officer of the Normandy.
- “Skipper, I'm pregnant.”
- —Ashley Williams to John Shepard
Sometime after the signing of the Citadel-Guevara Accord, Ashley and Shepard decided to get married. They invited all their friends from across the galaxy and Ash’s family as well. Before the wedding ceremony started, Ashley looked up at the clear sky and thought about her father and grandfather. She then noticed that Shepard was sitting solemnly across from her and approached him, asking what was troubling him when Shepard met her gaze. He dismissed it as nothing serious and promised to tell her afterwards. Together, they had four children: Kaidan, David, Ethan and Carolyn, to which the parents were shown to have a very happy and loving family of their own.
First Lady of the Interstellar Republic
On March 15, 2198, Ashley attended her husband's inauguration as First Minister along with their children and officially became known as "First Lady of the Republic".
During her early weeks, Ashley tried carefully to guard her family's privacy. Regardless, she was an unprecedentedly outspoken First Lady and was involved in a number of issues concerning children and veterans; participating as a guest speaker on a number of occasions, often advocating for the promotion of volunteerism at local hospitals, civic organizations, and rehabilitation centers. One of Ashley's major initiatives included expanding early childhood education and veterans' access to affordable care.
Personality and traits
- “Why is it that whenever someone says "with all due respect" they really mean "kiss my ass"?”
- —Ashley Williams
Ashley is a tough, tomboyish woman known for being strong-willed, stubborn and rebellious. She is not afraid to speak her mind and often displays a no-nonsense attitude. Because of this, Ashley tends to come off as opinionated, brash, and quick-tempered; regardless, she keeps a level-headed demeanor in the presence of superior officers and is a highly disciplined model soldier.
Despite her prickly and aggressive nature, Ash does have a softer, playful, more compassionate side and is a generally nurturing and protective person. She cares deeply about her family name, ever since she was a child she wanted to honor her father and grandfather by carrying over the tradition by joining the Alliance military to uphold her family's legacy. Surprisingly, Ashley also likes poetry and states that she is not "one for words", using her interest in poetry to help say what she feels.
Ashley at first does not seem to trust aliens as Earth's allies and believes that humanity should trust their own. Because of this, she tends to play the cynic role, naturally distrusting politicians and their compromises. After her mission with Commander Shepard during the Eden Prime War, however, this changed quite drastically for her, as both he and the mission helped her see a side she’s never seen before and became good friends with Garrus Vakarian, Liara T’Soni, Urdnot Wrex and Tali’Zorah.
When she began serving alongside Shepard, Ashley developed at first a growing admiration and came to like him. Overtime, the more she opened up to him, her admiration eventually turned to love. A small way in which she showed Shepard her affection for him was through the playful nickname which she constantly called him—"Skipper."
She is a Christian and strongly religious about it, which by 2183 is considered a rarity.
When she married Shepard, Ashley slowly matured and grew accustomed to her new role as a wife in stride. She also expressed worry about Shepard’s well-being and grew suspicious of his strange behavior, which often escalates into heated arguments. Despite this, however, it cannot be disputed that she loves her husband very much and is dutiful to him. The same love and compassion Ashley showed to Shepard also manifested when they started their own family.
As a mother, Ashley retains most of her personality traits though she loves and is caring towards her children but would be stern and strict when she needs to be. Ashley has deep pride in her children's successes and didn’t hesitate to loudly cheer for Kaidan from the audience during his school’s biotiball tournaments when his team won, even though she embarrassed him. She is also fiercely protective of them, though she was often depicted as somewhat overprotective, as she personally defended them during a terrorist attack on the Citadel and is subsequently hospitalized. Although she has hoped that one day her children would volunteer for the Alliance as she had, Ashley is visibly disappointed when they all refused. Nonetheless, Ashley apparently grows more accepting of their decisions and that they mean well.
However, as a result of having taken up huge responsibilities in the Alliance military, it has strained her relationship with her children and made them particularly upset. Although Kaidan, David, Ethan and Carolyn loved their mother and were overjoyed when they spend time together, Ashley's frequent absences made them feel neglected and resentful towards the Williams family tradition. Despite not returning home while on active duty as often as she used to, Ashley actually tries her best to make time for them in person and to help them with their problems whenever she could. Eventually, after Balak's attack on the Citadel, Ashley's relationship with her children improved significantly to the point where her schedule was lessened and was able to spend more time at home.
Ashley has dark chocolate brown hair, brown eyes, and a tan skin color. Used to wearing combat armor, she sports a stockier and very athletic build, gained from her specialization in assault training. Her shoulders are slightly broader than that of most females, though she still retains some semblance of a feminine curvaceous and slender figure. She is also quite well-endowed, though she finds her sisters managed to get away with most of the assets in that area. Ashley’s hair reaches just past her shoulders, with long bangs that are usually pinned back. Like many humans in the 22nd century, Ashley is of mixed ethnicities – perhaps something like half Midwestern American of distant English descent, with the rest split between Latina heritages and Mediterranean ancestries.
As a soldier, Ashley initially wore medium Phoenix Armor with white armor clads, pink garments and kept her hair tied back in a low bun. During the Reaper invasion, Ashley donned a new blue jumpsuit and an Alliance-issued battle armor and lets her hair down. Her figure has also grown to become much more womanly. During her date with Shepard, she wore a tight blue evening dress and is seen wearing the Williams family heirloom around her neck.
When she and Shepard decided to get married, Ashley wore a simple long white wedding dress with a veil pulled back, her long hair had been done up, and she had been wearing lipstick. In the years following the Reaper invasion, she consistently wears a violet, collared short-sleeved shirt unbuttoned with a white V-neck tank top underneath, black leather belt, navy blue dress pants, and light brown high heel boots. In addition, Ashley began donning a necklace consisting of three rubies and maintains her wedding ring on her left hand.
Skills and abilities
- Expert markswoman: Being a weapons specialist she’s fully qualified and physically fit for light-to-medium armor, and is a superior marksman. Her aim is very accurate, and more importantly she’s just as good in the field and under pressure than at the shooting range.
- Genetic enhancements: As a Systems Alliance marine, Ashley received various minor genetic enhancements to increase her health, endurance, ability to develop muscle mass, power of recovery and other desirable characteristics.
- Leadership: Her comrades of Unit 212 described her as the most authoritative of her whole platoon, and she is a capable, collected and authoritative non-commissioned officer. She’s also good at coaching soldiers to develop their military skills, which she credits to having partially raised her three younger sisters. Secondary sources indicate that she has a B4 military qualification, with no indication as to what it means.
- Peak human conditioning: Ashley has a strong background in assault training and fitness. She is a formidable marine – an aggressive fighter, a competent weapons maintenance technician, and accurate soldier.
- Human vulnerabilities: One of Ashley's greatest weakness is that she is quite vulnerable to the physical attacks of stronger and more powerful opponents. Ashley, however, usually compensates for for this quite well with her fierce determination and combat training.
Summary of service
Vocational Codes: S1, B4, O5
Dates of rank
- 2176: Serviceman 3rd Class
- 2180: Gunnery Chief
- 2184: Operations Chief
- 2185: Second Lieutenant
- 2186: Lieutenant Commander
- 2187: Captain
Awards and decorations
The following is a list of awards and honors awarded to Ashley Williams. These include awards and decorations of the Systems Alliance, civilian awards, interspecies honors, and knighthoods.
- 2176: Systems Alliance enlisted service
- 2176: Student, Recruit Training Depot, Macapá, Brazil, Earth
- 2177: Student, Zero-G certified, Rakesh Sharma Orbital Platform, Earth
- 2177: Student, Hostile Environment Assault Training, Fort Charles Upham, Titan, Saturn
- 2180: Squad Leader, Dog Squad, Unit 212, 2nd Frontier Division, Eden Prime
- 2183: Participant, Battle of Eden Prime
- 2183: Crewman, SSV Normandy SR-1 (authorized by Capt. D. Anderson)
- 2183: Participant, Battle of the Citadel
- 2184: Student, S-Class Training Program (authorized by D. Anderson, D. Udina)
- 2185: Liaison, Alliance Colonial Outreach Program, Horizon, Iera system
- 2185: Acting Commander, Hunter Platoon, Alliance Marine Reconnaissance Unit, Task Force Justice (awarded Silver Star)
- 2186: S1 designation
- 2186: Spectre, Office of Special Tactics and Reconnaissance, Citadel Council
- 2186: Executive Officer, SSV Normandy SR-2
- 2187: Commanding Officer, SSV Normandy SR-2
The following is a list of emails sent by Ashley Madeline Williams:
Appearances in other media
- Mass Effect: Foundation
- Mass Effect (First appearance)
- Mass Effect 2
- Mass Effect 3
- Mass Effect: A Hero's Legacy
- (about her superior officer) "The lieutenant's the same as all the officers. He thinks because my grandfather surrendered at Shanxi I'm going to do the same thing. And he's an ass."
- (to Sergeant Donkey) "You still trying to get me to sleep with you?"
- (to Bates) "Stay close. I got your back. Okay?"
- (rallying her platoon) "We can't do anything for Bravo Squad, but we can help the others. We'll have to double-time it to the beacon, but we need to be smart about this. Deliberate and disciplined. With any luck, we'll catch them off guard. Either way, they're about to find out Dog Squad is the baddest, most dangerous squad on this rock! Hooah!"
- "Rasputin, circle back up the hill. Wait for my order. Donk, you know what to do. Give 'em hell, Sarge! Draw their fire and their attention."
- "God, throw me a bone. It can't end like this. It can't! I will... not... yield!"
- (to Captain Channing) "I bided my time. Playing cat and mouse with the geth, but eventually they found me. I was on my own. My entire squad wiped out. I was sure I was dead. But, sometimes... you get lucky. Commander Shepard and Lieutenant Alenko saved my ass. Not sure I deserved it, but there you go."
- "You were right, Donk. Luck is for the lonely."
- (about Dragon’s Teeth) "It must take hours for the spikes to turn people into husks."
- (to Powell) "You greedy son of a bitch! We’re out here trying to protect your sorry ass and all you can think about is how you can rip us off?!"
- (to Shepard) "Y’know, I’ve never met anyone who was awarded the Star of Terra."
- (flirting with Shepard) "If you expect to get me in a tinfoil miniskirt and thigh-high boots, I want dinner first… uh, sir. [...] If we weren’t on duty, I’d have to show you some of my dance moves… Sir!"
- "Nothing like a nice relaxing stroll on the beach… blasting bad guys with my boomstick!"
- "A million light years away from where humanity began, and we walk into a bar filled with drunk men drooling over half-naked women shaking their asses on a stage. I can’t decide if that’s funny or sad. […] Hey LT, put your tongue back in your mouth before you trip over it."
- "I’m the oldest, then Abby, then Lynn. Sarah’s the youngest. She’s still in high school. With four girls, Dad used to say he felt more outnumbered at home than on maneuvers."
- "The Williams women are a decisive bunch, Commander. We do things when we’re ready. Not before, not after."
- (about the Asari Commandos) "Unless that speed lets them outrun bullets, I’m more inclined to stick with nice solid armor and a big gun."
- "Hard to believe the krogan were once seen as the saviors of the galaxy."
- "Just because I can drill you between the eyes from 100 meters, doesn’t mean I can’t like sensitive stuff! Just don’t spread it around."
- (about the Zhu's Hope colony) "Nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here. Scratch that; it’s not a nice place to visit."
- (to Shepard) "Duty calls. Get up to the bridge, Skipper. I’ve got other weapons to check out. Hey, Shepard? Whatever happens down there, I just wanted to say… Wait. You know what? I’m not telling you. You want to hear this? You’ll just have to come back to me."
- (to Delan) "Commander Shepard. Captain of the Normandy. The first human Spectre. Savior of the Citadel. You’re in the presence of a god, Delan. Back from the dead."
- (to Shepard) "I thought you were dead. I almost… How could you put me through that? Why didn’t you contact me? Why didn’t you let me know you were alive?"
- (about Cerberus) "I’m no fan of aliens, but Cerberus has a history of being extremists."
- (to Admiral Anderson) "I can never tell with them. I’m just waiting for orders now."
- "Maybe this problem can’t be solved by some grunt shooting the boogeyman in the face. But if you think it might help? I’m game."
- (to Shepard, about why she never visited him while he was under house arrest) "I couldn’t face you. Even when Anderson requested my presence… it was difficult."
- (about indoctrination) "How do we fight something that can worm its way into your head?"
- (when Liara discovers a living Prothean) "You mean like those bodies we found back on Ilos?"
- (about her father) "He did his best with four daughters and a strong wife. He always said live fire exercises was good prep for facing his ‘girly horde’."
- (to her sister) "Okay, remember the trip to the beach the summer before I left for basic training? Abby was grumbling, missing some big party, remember? And Lynn had a new dress. She was so pretty. I always felt like an elephant next to her. It was a beautiful sunny day, but they were fighting about stupid stuff. Being kids. Remember when mom came up and hugged us all? A big, fierce hug? She said ‘This is one of the good days. Something you’ll remember.’ She was right. I love you guys."
- "Just wanted to let off some steam. Vega said he had ‘just the thing’ to take my mind off stuff."
- (rekindling her relationship with Shepard) "I’d hate to have to punch out whichever table-dancing tart is throwing herself at you this time."
- "This Leviathan thing can just… kick you out of your own head?"
- (about Henry Lawson) "This guy is someone’s father? Can’t believe what I’m hearing."
- (to Shepard's Clone, comparing him and Shepard) "You’re just a pale imitation of the real thing!"
- (about Maya Brooks) "Bitch."
- (after the raid on Cronos Station) "Never thought I’d see the end of Cerberus. Good riddance."
- (to Shepard) "I don’t want you to go. I love you, Shepard."
- (to Joker, when the Crucible is activated) "Joker… it’s time to go."
- (to Shepard) "Don’t beat yourself up over this, Skipper. You did everything you could."
- (to her mother and sisters) "Shepard and I… we… we’re having a baby. […] Doctor Chakwas told me after we raided the Cerberus base. She did three tests to make sure, but… I’m gonna be a mom."
- (to Sarah, about Shepard’s strange behavior) "Something’s troubling him, and I mean really troubling him. But he won’t tell me what it is. He wakes up from nightmares in a cold sweat, stares into the distance. At first I thought it was from the war, but he still won't say anything about it. These past couple of weeks… I just don’t know what to do anymore, Sar. He won’t get help, insisting that he doesn't need it. It was the only time I’ve seen him get that mad at me."
- According to official data, Ashley's Military Vocational Code is B4 and her Blood Type is B+. She had received genetic enhancements including in-utero vision correction (maternal predisposition for nearsightedness) and Class-B Alliance Infantry Upgrade Package.
- Ashley also shares the same name as Bruce Campbell’s character Ashley "Ash" Williams in the Evil Dead and Army of Darkness movies.
- Ashley was originally to recite Robert Heinlein’s "Cool Green Hills of Earth." The rights for Heinlein’s work are rather complex, and when time ran out to acquire permission, it was replaced with Tennyson’s "Ulysses," which is in the public domain. The second and third stanzas were used when she discussed her father, and the fourth and final on the way to Ilos.
- Ashley’s middle name, Madeline, is another reference to Tennyson from her poetry-loving father.
- She is the fourth generation of the Williams family to be in the Alliance military.
- Ashley's hobbies include reading poetry, cleaning guns, and having evening drinks.
- Gunny Ellison and his predilection for using elaborate words are a veiled reference to author Harlan Ellison.
- Ashley is bitter that her father never rose above the rank of Serviceman 3rd Class because of the stigma her grandfather still held among the Alliance brass.
- She occasionally expresses "human-centric" views, as a result of her grandfather having been disgraced in the 2157 First Contact War against the turians at the colony of Shanxi, as he was the only human to ever surrender to an alien race.
- Ashley has a strong religious faith, though her precise faith and denomination are never elaborated upon, except for her belief in Judgment Day. However, she is hesitant to discuss it with Shepard because of her concern of the uneasiness it may cause in others.
- During a conversation with Ashley at the memorial for Sarah Williams’ husband, Ashley mentions that live fire exercises prepared her father for a life with 4 daughters and a strong wife.
- When meeting with Ashley for drinks at the bar at Silversun Strip, a batarian and vorcha will confront Shepard and Ashley, stating that they don’t like Alliance types. This may be a reference to a scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, where Ponda Baba and Evazan pick a fight with Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisely Cantina.
|First Lady of the Interstellar Republic|
|Captain of the SSV Normandy SR-2|
|Commander of Unit 212|
None, Unit 212 effectively wiped out