Reviews for A season of sorrows unending -- the Cerberus Files : Citadel Races
Skadarken-Weiz chapter 34 . 10/15/2016
This is the MOST DETAILED piece of work I have EVER READ in THIS CANON.
Have you ever written any novels? I would be very interested in reading them as well. This is some damn fine work!
Skadarken-Weiz chapter 5 . 10/11/2016
Typo:
"all to devoted" - "all too devoted"

"no series mental stress" - "no serious mental stress"

"appearance no defense" - "no apparent defense"
Skadarken-Weiz chapter 2 . 10/8/2016
Typo:
"Fairaxen" - "Farixen"
Bea Winters chapter 6 . 9/18/2016
Eyyyyy the lurker strikes again!

I'm still digesting the history section, so you probably won't see a review of that for a while yet (worldbuilding history can be so squishy and taste-based, I find it difficult to sort "things that aren't working" from "things I personally would have taken in a different direction"). With evolution and physiological adaptations, on the other hand, I'm a bit more confident in my ability to critique speculative stuff without being an idiot, so here we go.

In this installment of the Asari documentation, you've done several things that are pretty awesome:

1.) Explained the phenotypic homogeneity of the hot blue space chicks. Taking the whole "same 3DS Max model with replaceable heads" thing and turning it into a clue to the asari's gene-tampered origins is a smart move. (This has been a pattern; you have a talent for molding some of the games' worst failings into some of the coolest story content.) Good thinking!

2.) Head crest as heat-exchange system to maintain a constant intracranial temperature. Pretty ingenious use of an otherwise silly character design choice, and one I wouldn't have thought of.

- My one suggestion: You mention that the crests flatten down when pressure is applied. Since the asari are semi-aquatic, and water saps heat like no tomorrow, you might also push this to add a fully fledged heat-sealing function; maybe when an asari's core temperature gets too low, the crests compress into a series of overlapping flaps of tissue that trap small air pockets, insulating the skull instead of venting it. Maybe blood flow to the crests is sharply reduced when this is in effect. Or maybe redirecting blood flow from the crests to slow heat loss and keep the brain warm (triggered by low core temperature) is what CAUSES the sealing response in the first place.

This would make that feature even more versatile in its ability to do the job. A heat exchange feature that doubles as a convertible woolly hat would come in handy when you're diving deep enough that things get chilly.

3.) Signs of "conscious engineering for maximum efficiency" in the brain's structure. Three parts to this-

A: The presence of way more sulci/gyri, resulting in exponentially more surface area (and therefore more neurons). This makes a lot of sense for a species that will need to make trillions more neural connections over the course of their lifetime than any other organism (thanks to the "data download" function of bonding), and on top of that, will live LONGER than any other organism. The addition of "unknown structures" is also a great way to shore up the believability of their innate grasp of biotics.

B: You realized that putting the cortex on steroids with way too many sulci and gyri will leave the cerebellum shortchanged, and you actually USE that fact - which would normally be a serious oversight on the writer's part - to further underscore the notion that this species was tampered with, by scientists who had a very specific purpose in mind. Nice covering of tracks there.

C: You had the presence of mind to add a true sacral brain in order to pick up the shrunken cerebellum's motor control slack. A lot of people don't realize that the cerebellum, though ancient, still serves a critical function and can't just be excised in the name of a larger cortex without serious consequences; I'm stoked that this isn't the case here. (Also, dude, sacral brains. Dinosaurs may not have had them after all, but... come on. Butt brains.)

3.) The combination of a cranial electrogenesis organ and dedicated eezo storage glands to produce a species innately capable of biotics. Heck yeah, great way to make that happen. And you explained it without a boatload of jargon, too, which is impressive.

4.) STOOPID HUMAN-BODY-WITH-TENTACLE-HAIR BODY PLAN is actually used as evidence that both the asari *and* humans were hijacked and forced along a deliberately similar evolutionary path. This pissed me off so much in the game. So much. I mean the fact that almost all aliens are four-limbed with recognizable heads and eyes (and mostly bipedal as well) is pushing it far enough without... literally being color-swapped copies of human women. With the only exceptions being color-swapped copies of generic jellyfish.

Once again, you take Bioware's brain fart and make it cool.

5.) Retooling the ardat-yakshi from a "symbiotic genetic disorder" (?) into an error, introduced by gene tampering, that manifested too late to be corrected by the alien geneticists who mucked up the asari genome and caused it. Much more believable than the game's version of things, and also further highlights exactly how much the Protheans screwed over the early asari. (God, I hate how ME3 just... glossed over that little detail. You'd think the utter destruction and butchery and fundamental twisting of an entire species - sapient or not, depending on how late this happened in their evolutionary line - would be a bit more noteworthy. Mass abductions, vivisections, forced breeding, jeez. It should probably be considered xenocide to be honest, especially if it led to the extinction of the unmodified asari.)

(... you know what, I might do a fic about that myself. Anyway I'm rambling)

So in brief: You're smart and you've generated some cool material here.

That said, I know you like reader gushing to come with some constructive criticism, and this feels like it was written fairly early in OSABC's life so I'm confident that I actually have something to contribute for once. Here's some things I think could be improved.

1.) Three-chambered heart.
While I think the frog direction overall is pretty cool and something I haven't seen done, three-chambered hearts tend to work best for organisms who are small, ectothermic, or both. It's definitely not efficient enough for an endothermic species whose brains generate so much heat they're forced to develop a dedicated venting system. Deoxygenated blood would mix back into the oxygenated blood and be pumped back out into the body, carrying a fair mix of waste products with it; that's why mammals evolved a fourth chamber to make sure the two types remain fully isolated. Mammalian muscles need as much oxygen as they can get. Since asari biotics probably mean a higher-than-average caloric need compared to other organisms of similar size and lifestyle, a frog heart probably couldn't meet the oxygen demand.

2.) The double-spine setup is an interesting idea, and I'm curious to know what inspired it, but it does raise some practicality questions - how does bending side-to-side work? Wouldn't one of the spines be forced to warp oddly, either displacing vital organs or causing the torso to twist instead of bend? Or if one side doesn't warp, does the other somehow stretch to compensate? I didn't pick up on what specific purpose the split-spine serves, and without knowing that, it seems complicated and a bit cumbersome.

3.) The reproductive process still doesn't seem quite believable. (This isn't your fault; Bioware stupidity backed you into a corner and you've clearly done your best to work around it.) There's a few facets to this:

A: The "consciously editing DNA templates using bioelectricity" part seems sketchy to me. It sounds like a very small, subtle thing to control, and I certainly wouldn't trust a human to do that manually; they'd probably give instructions to a supercomputer with tools and let that handle it.

It also sounds like the asari in question would have to know the format of the protein template in the first place, or else her edits might be entirely scrapped 'cause Nature's like "dude, what are you doing. That doesn't work." And if that happens, how would she know? There doesn't seem to be a feedback system that would let an uneducated individual figure out how it's supposed to work.

And if it's an optional thing - the asari can just let her own body do what it wills, and not try to make a Custom Superkid - then it's probably the sort of feature that would be weeded out by evolution. Nature hates unnecessary extras. Even organs we no longer need are there because they once served a critical purpose, not just something that came in handy once in a while.

B: If there's no direct DNA exchange involved in asari reproduction, I'm not sure I buy the notion that the asari would assume traits from the "father" are passed to the daughter. There have been cultures in human history where the father wasn't thought to play ANY role in a woman's pregnancy, and human reproduction definitely involves direct DNA exchange. This sounds like the sort of mistake a human or other two-sexed species would make. And especially if there's no empirical evidence to suggest it's true - according to the narrator, anyway - then it seems implausible that the asari would reach this conclusion based on studies or something.

I can see the Thirty actively working to encourage the misconception among the uneducated, since they have good reason to foster asari-alien interbreeding, but I don't see it originating from the asari as a species.

That said, I can see why you included the DNA customization feature; there needs to be some sort of functional difference between asari/asari sex and asari/alien sex, otherwise both the premise that ardat-yakshi are born from homospecial unions AND the foundation of your Homogenous Phenotype Explanation fall apart. There has to be something the asari can do to their mates that non-asari, even biotics, can't - something which, when done to the mother, has a chance of directly causing the ardat-yakshi disorder, and which also results in an oddly small phenotypic range in fetuses who make it to term. This may or may not be related to how each generation is a sort of eugenic "improvement" on the last. (That sounds a little like the Krogan genophage, actually, except that instead of selecting for "the ability to survive the genophage," it's selecting for a certain suite of desir
darkerdeepdown chapter 34 . 10/24/2015
Lol I love when they say Jesus wept. As a Christian I find it most apt XD
Nefer Ka Re chapter 7 . 10/15/2015
"House Devir". "DeVir" Bwahahahahaha! :)
Divv chapter 7 . 8/6/2015
Hi. Can you tell me what a gesture of Siari might look like?
Michael1110 chapter 38 . 4/27/2015
And done for now : )

1. "The worst storms are those that come upon you far from any shore, after all."
; )
2. "but he is at least proficient in detaching his opinions and beliefs from the data he submits."
Again, I can respect him for that : )
3. "Almost twenty percent of the female's core body mass is given over to a heavily integrated womb that can regularly support triplets and quadruplets."
Made to breed.
"this explains why even though batarian females are constantly having sex pregnancy rates are even lower than that of humans or quarians."
Population numbers would be unsustainable otherwise.
4. "The dire situation of the batarian female is saddening to me, but it is the course of biology and little can be done to change their plight."
: (
5. "I worry about him, at times – he seems rather unstable, and anyone who utilizes that much sarcasm is clearly only a few bad tides away from some sort of incident involving far too many knives to think about."
Right... Right!?
6. "and the clever thinking of your Major Kyle on Mindoir of using pepper on the batarians was fiendishly effective."
Interesting : D
7. "an anomaly, to be sure."
; D
Michael1110 chapter 37 . 4/27/2015
More

1. "Only the fool expects the alien's outstretched arm to hold anything but a knife. "
Same goes the other way ; )
2. The low mental abillities of Batarian females : (
3. "We should set this entire species afire"
Alien too different from our norm. Bring out the flamethrower.
4. "the entire race sees physical prowess and fitness in almost as high a light as humans would view physical beauty."
hmm : )
5. "He does so because it is the ultimate method of showing he is worthy to force that level of submission, freely given or not."
: /
6. "It is a sickening fact that batarian females crave abuse as a form of attention.
Wouldn't work that much otherwise I would guess.
7. "They do not even actually have a word for self-esteem, is is something each and every batarian takes for granted – that they are important, that they are destined for something."
: D
8. "Such things enrage humans and turians, disgust asari, and make the salarians laugh as they take advantage of the openings, but batarians are too blind to see this."
: D
9. "any improvement would be slight at best, hardly worth looking for."
Waiting for an a-typical example in the main story ; P
10. "Either batarian low castes are so mentally warped that they actually think the tiny bits of freedom they are given makes them the equal of a high-caste, or their minds are so twisted they edit out the fact that no matter how high they rise they are little more than trash in the minds of higher caste types."
: S
11. "You can go ahead and dismiss the concept of batarian 'love'"
Thought so : S
12. "batarian females have no ability or understanding of how to consent, and the concept never entered the batarian mind."
: (
13. "drove home the fact that batarians as a species are hopelessly and irrevocably sick"
and possibly on purpose : /
14. "They also have a lack of care about issues such as the size of their sexual organs, unlike humans, turians and krogan."
: D : D
15. "Fittingly, these monsters have no tear ducts, and cannot cry."
Interesting. (there are other ways to show sadness, Minsta ; ) )
16. "The vileness of these people – nay, these animals – cannot be overstated."
I get it Minsta ; D
17. "whatever I feel like doing right now as long as no one stops me" So similar to Salarians XD
18. "Dark Gods"
hmm...
19. "Theft and murder are not crimes – if one is too weak or stupid to protect their property or lives, then the batarians are better off with that one dead."
: (
20. "Psychologically, batarians do not feel guilt. For anything. Ever."
There more I read, the more they seem like a over time manipulated and breed nightmare army.
Then again you could say similar things about the Turians, exluding the "nightmare"(mostly).
21. "drinking human urine is more tolerable than drinking battery acid"
XD
22. "about their only positive trait in my mind"
Nope
23. "The fact that the squints never had enough brains to develop atomic weapons until Aria sold them the idea goes unmentioned. Brutes."
: D
24. "There are times I could almost respect the grays."
: P
25. "some kind of virus that makes the squints all grow titties and turn into bitches"
: D : D
26. "Even those witches don't deserve that kind of vile death."
How kind of Minsta : D
27. "The idea that we are the closest culturally and psychologically to these things is enough to drive me to drink or to despair"
haha : D
28. "Pel has jokingly suggested all batarians are suffering from 'crazy'"
Or the oppsite ; P
29. "either the darkening of their culture is a natural evolution as they get more and more debased, or something has corroded and corrupted them and the very methods they view the universe with."
Hmm ; D Something Something long term Plan...?
Michael1110 chapter 36 . 4/27/2015
Something Something again...

1. "(mostly salarian, as the batarian versions are worse propaganda than anything put out by the Commissariat)"
hehe, then again sad for the Batarians : /
2. "shows signs of alien tampering"
So much manipulating everywhere ; P
3. "As a result there are six different ecosystems present on the planet today, most of them settled into climactic bands."
Interesting.
4. "The 'historical' aspect that bothers me is that most of the changes appear to be done in sequence, even when separated by gulfs of hundreds of thousands of years."
Hmm... someone possibly building up to something... ; D
5. "They also had brains roughly 15% larger than females."
I guess we will see who used that "advantage" more : P
6. "The common belief that the males of Khar'shan somehow 'did this' to the female batarians is thus unfounded."
: )
7. "as simply walking into a high-caste batarian library would prove problematic, followed by bloody."
Ahh, no charm? : D
8. "but the high caste batarians cleverly claimed to be able to translate them."
Some advanced guidance? ; )
9. "The war raged on for a good three hundred years"
not bad...
10. "Watcher of the Deep" advancing Batarian technology too quickly.
11. "fibers of the waters"
Possibly a shield?
12. "it does have a certain weight of the message it sends"
A very heavy weight
13. "The ability of batarians to be so easily manipulated by issues of pride, power and status is a weakness that should be noted."
hmm...
14. "As I said before, it can be very catchy."
Can't stop grinning : D
15. "a paranoid tactic that would pay off handsomely in later years."
: )
16. "However, their first contacts were not with the Citadel races directly, but the pirates and criminal elements of the Traverse – namely, Aria and her warlords."
: D
17. "fascinated by asari females"
Asari Females? : D
18. "The Imperial Guard used weapons and armor far more advanced than anything even the Fist had access to, and there wasn't any known source for this material."
Obviously ; P
19. "with a note snidely noting he did not comment on the actions taken by the asari Nightwind and STG, and would appreciate the same courtesy."
Does he now? : P
20. "The Council basically laughed him out of the room, stating they had no reason to do so given batarian slavery, hostility and lack of willingness to compromise."
haha : D
21. "someone is building an army that will not hesitate to commit atrocity."
; )
22. "assuming the fool can produce anything coherent and that Minsta can decipher anything from the morass of profanity"
: D : D
Guest chapter 38 . 3/27/2015
I appreciated the creativity that went into it. I look forward to the next chapter!
Seven Seven chapter 37 . 3/28/2015
Well this was disturbing, I can only the batarian condition will improve once the Leviathans are out of the picture (beacause what else could all the wierdness withe the Batarians be caused by).
I half expected to see Shepard on the list of females who could command respect from batarians, maybe after her ressurection and she turns into the terminator.
lukas chapter 37 . 3/25/2015
This story is positively brilliant. I absolutely love it.
SLotH4 chapter 38 . 3/27/2015
There's something poetic about such a vile species lacking a heart.
Wandering the Arid Sea chapter 11 . 3/26/2015
Sad case with Aria. Can't wait to see this ritualized combat between Okeer and the asari.

Always so tantalizing. Still, rather scary the parallels that can be drawn between Aria and Liara.

Can't wait to see the reaction of the Thirty when Aria's empire comes to fruition.

awesome stuff.
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