Born on the Vercingetorix Outpost on the planet of Sirona, Ashley Williams was given the tools to succeed even before birth when she received in-utero vision enhancement, a genetic enhancement which helps prevent vision problems such as near-sightedness. When she became of age, she joined the Alliance Marines, directly out of high school, in order to follow her family's military tradition.
Williams excelled in all fields of training, proving to be of great use with the Alliance standard M7 Lancer assault rifle, showing her endurance and aggressiveness when it came to harsh combat and environmental conditions, and also exhibiting mobility and effectiveness in a variety of combat armor and hard suits. She quickly went up in the ranks and became a platoon guide, due to her ability to give orders to her comrades.
All of the soldiers in Ashley Williams' platoon have given nothing but high remarks and offer nothing but praise when speaking of her. This praise, however, may be unfounded since Williams has only served in units that have garrisoned near the rear of mostly every battle, prohibiting her from gaining much in the way of actual military combat experience. The player can learn the reason for her being posted to backwaters if the player engages in conversations with Williams. This story explains part of her personality where she feels she must be "better and tougher than anyone else."
Personality and Traits
Ashley has quite a Bolshoi personality and a no-nonsense attitude in the way she goes about doing things, but retains a good sense of humor throughout her operations. When playing as a male character and talking to her in between missions on-board the Normandy between missions, she will often have a dig at Commander Shepard for being too soppy if he chooses the sensitive approach when talking with her. She does have quite a bit more depth to her personality than is first apparent, which is revealed when she quotes long sections of poetry on a number of occasions, such as from the poem Ulysses by Alfred Tennyson. She is also privately deeply religious and sees the vastness of the universe as proof of a greater power, although doesn't spread this about due to fear of how others may react. She is distrustful of alien races in general and thinks little of the Citadel Council. Ashley's character provides a contrast to the more sensitive and demure character of Liara T'soni, giving a player playing as the male version of Commander Shepard a distinct choice between the type of person he wants to pursue a relationship with.
Williams and Shepard
Commander Shepard first meets Williams on Eden Prime where she had been battling the Geth. Williams joined Shepard's squad as he carried out his mission to retrieve the Prothean beacon on the planet and after becomes a permanent member of his squad. Between missions Williams can be found in the storage bay of the Normandy, organising files. During the mission on Virmire Shepard has to make the decision whether to sacrifice Kaiden or Ashley due to needing one person to stay behind with the bomb on the planet to destroy the krogan cloning facility. Should Shepard choose to leave Kaiden behind Ashley protests, saying Kaiden was her superior officer. Should Shepard pursue a romantic relationship with Ashley she will open up to him and grow to like him, telling him that he makes her "feel good enough". In Mass Effect 2 Ashley is found stationed on the colony planet of Horizon and is paralysed during the Collector attack on the planet. When Shepard meets Ashley again she appears angered that Shepard is working for Cerberus and if Shepard had a romantic relationship with her in Mass Effect she refuses to pursue it. Williams later sends an email to Shepard saying that she over-reacted upon seeing him.
Ashley Williams is closely knit to her family, consistently using her yearly week-of-leave to visit her family on the planet Amaterasu. She is known to place a high emphasis on family issues, and will use whatever means are necessary to see to their well-being and personal happiness and comfort. Her grandfather, General Williams, was the commander in charge of Shanxi when it fell to the Turians during the First Contact War. While no charges were laid, it destroyed his career and left a black mark on the family name. That is probably why she was not given a chance in the fleet, in spite of her high test scores. Ashley tells Commander Shepard that "a Williams has to be better than the rest" to make up for Shanxi.
Ashley Williams: Why is it whenever someone says "with all due respect", they really mean "kiss my ass"?
Ashley Williams: That puts a whole new spin on the phrase "drop on the floor and give me twenty".
Commander Shepard: You still sassin' me soldier? I think you need more physical training.
Ashley Williams: Tsk. Now, skipper, what will it take to prove I'm in prime condition?
Ashley Williams: Yeah, well if you want me in a tin foil mini skirt and thigh-high boots, I'm gonna need dinner first... Uh... sir...
- Bruce Campbell portrayed a character of the same name in the Evil Dead series, directed by Sam Raimi. Though the two characters are quite different, they do haves some commonalities, such as a penchant for cynicism and an aptitude in combat. Both are also referred to by the abbreviation "Ash." Whether her name was an intentional or coincidental reference to the movie character, Bioware makes an overt in-game nod to him when Williams refers to her weapon as a "boomstick," a word which is lifted from one of Ash's more famous quotes in Army of Darkness.