STG – STG – STG
Report 93243-2 Girthon-Suelis
Classification: Black – Collapse Five
CONDENSED TIMELINE OF THE INCIDENT:
Dates are absoluted from Benezia's invasion of the Citadel, on Vevia 18, 5939, or Fifth-Month, CE 2184.
Sourcing for most of the information came from only three primary sources.
The main source was this time not news reports but direct Council reports, including augmented intelligence provided by the Broker. The quality of this began at 100% and degraded over time (both due to acts taken by Shepard and the Broker) to roughly 74%.
Secondary sources include conventional data-hack comms taps, either via info-war sequestration of the actual telecommunications hardware or decrypting transmissions themselves. This source is rated at 82%.
A final source was post-Incident recovered data : review of AIS findings from Noveria and, later on, Virmire. Given the AIS is not a cooperative party with the STG these are included as asides and for flavor only – we do not rate them as reliable and strongly suggest vetting whatever information provided by the AIS is utilized in decision making.
Early response to the incident was disbelief followed by ineffectual flailing. Later responses were no less effective. Commander Shepard was, however, brutally efficient and admirably skilled in ferreting out both Saren and Benezia, using multiple resources and vastly more intellectual capacity than earlier profiles indicated – she is developing into an excellent Spectre and STG should make every effort to cultivate her interest (perhaps sponsorship/partnership with AIS? Risky but doable, also fun).
ABOUT REPORT ORGANIZATION
Given the organic development of events, the decision was made to break the timeline into five distinct sections, to better isolate particular occurrences. The problem the STG faced in anticipating issues during 2183 and 2184 is the opposite of why we missed the lead-in events – things were happening too rapidly for us to analyze and react to the previous issue before the next one occurred. Conflicting tasking due to other events did not help.
The five periods are as followed.
Inception, the period of time from the attack on Eden Prime to revelation that Saren and Benezia were behind the attack. (Covered by this report).
Search: Period of time from Shepard's Spectre admission to destruction of Fourth Citadel Fleet at Feros.
Counterattack: Period of time just after Feros, culminating with attack on Cerberus HQ.
Assault: Period of time from after Cerberus attack to Battle of Port Hanshan and confirmed death of Saren.
Incident: the actual 'Benezia Incident', beginning with the detonation of bombs aboard the Citadel and on other worlds, and finishing with the Citadel assault defeated and the destruction of Nazara.
After-action elements comprise a following timeline which will be forwarded to the SIX and the STG master as soon as compilation and recheck is completed.
THE BENEZIA INCIDENT : TIMELINE OF INCEPTION
Dates in and of themselves provide no clear value in the examination of the period between 28 First-Month 2183 and 11 Fifth-Month, 2184. In many cases, dates could not be pinned down exactly. Other actions have no assigned dates since they took place over period of time ranging from hours to weeks.
In light of this, dates are done from strike time at Eden Prime. The zero date is noted as Eden Prime Strike (EPS) and serves as a baseline.
One month prior to EPS: Human surveyors looking at expansion sites on Eden Prime discover very late Fifth Era (Prothean Collapse) relics, fragmentary defensive structure. Announced to Prothean Studies Commission, but no technological artifacts found – only signs of desperate, ugly fighting and destroyed military installations. Follow-on STG team is still reviewing findings for more clues.
Late in the month, team discovers active Prothean beacon. AIS elements lock down comms information from the colony, but only after a fifty-eight hour window (sloppy as usual). Elements of SA government immediately approach Council with this as part of ongoing negotiation package happening during this period.
New agreement reached. Humans (and elcor, but not volus) will be granted one or two additional dreadnought frames, decreases in tax and duty burdens, and allowed to select a Spectre candidate. The elcor are included by clever machination of Donnel Udina to ensure salarian support – Council agrees but only after elcor also submit a strategically useful find to the Citadel.
Spectre selection process begins. As Kai Leng is believed by SA military to be dead, both Ahern and Anderson – former candidates themselves – are asked for input based on intercepted comms relay inputs. Ahern puts forward the name of Major Preston Kyle, but Kyle is in no mental shape for such a task. Additionally, the Major is under AIS and Commissariat investigation – reasons were, at this time, unknown. Anderson suggests review of all top performing N7 and I7 personnel.
Process opaque to STG penetration – it is done in Arcturus and high visibility figures, including Lord Maxwell's daughter, are known to participate. Personality analysis of the figures involved – Senator Adkins, Lady Maxwell, at least one Fleet Admiral and Anderson, with possible input from Udina based on long-range comms intercept, yields no likely outcome. Sir Richard Branson is flagged as highest likelihood candidate.
Barely a few days before EPS, in a surprising move, Sara Shepard is chosen. She is recovered from anti-pirate activity on outlying Eldfell-Ashland colony world and moved directly to Arcturus for attachment to SCV Normandy as Executive Officer under David Anderson. Normandy, paired with Saren's student Nihlus Kryik, will be picking up Eden Prime beacon.
Important note: Nihlus comm records indicate that while he was in communication with Saren, he did not mention the Beacon. Nor were his files to go to Saren in case of his death, rather they were supposed to go to his partner, Tela Vasir, who was recovering from actions fighting P. terrorist cell. STG remains baffled as to why Bau and other high ranking Spectres did not question Saren on this aberration after Nihlus death. Vasir attempted to do so, but by the time she was able to confront the Council on it, Saren had already been exposed.
Two days before the Eden Prime strike, geth sightings in Traverse by batarian pirates. Fragmentary comms records indicate batarian Emperor was shown imagery captured of geth ships along with unidentified 'dreadnought-plus scale vessel' and retreated to his palace in great agitation. The next day – five hours before Eden Prime blew up – the entire Batarian military was placed on high alert and all ships heavier than patrol frigates were rotated back directly to Khar'Shan and the outlying worlds. This is particularly notable, as initial reports had batarian cruisers on the scene at Eden Prime, but all such cruisers (these vessels were too large to be fielded by pirates) had been withdrawn hours before.
Zero Time: Eden Prime strike – the first warnings of an issue began early the morning of the strike, when STG comms pickups showed Cerberus communication packages and polymorphic code active at the Eden Prime TTG node. We had no assets at Eden Prime, so we are relying on gathered information, but it appears clear that Cerberus took actions to minimize human casualties. They evacuated one nearby arcology tower on pretext of 'security' and three more on grounds of emergency drills, and altered comms with the 410 heavy armor unit to prevent it from reaching the site of the attack. Given the size of the geth strike force, the 410 would have been massacred along with other units had it engaged.
At this time, Cerberus packet to unknown deep space location intercepted. Unencrypted words : 'Commence Trojan'. Significance unknown, Trojan was reference to human Trojan War, early iron age combat between nation-states where a ruse was used to gain access to a city.
Two towers directly adjacent to spaceport were notably filled with mostly spaceport workers – the poor, disadvantaged and poorly educated. Cerberus comm intercept between unidentified ground forces and voice-print matching that of Rachel Florez indicates orders were given to ensure there was no ground interference. This intercept was an automated pickup not found by STG analysts until almost nine months later. [Agents have been brain-wiped and converted to Shieldbreaker assets for this failure.]
The attack itself was, in hindsight, almost beautifully executed. Geth carefully infiltrated the entire Eden Prime datasphere sixty five minutes prior, shredding all communications, before precise low-impact kinetic impactors destroyed all sixteen hard-line communications facilities. Geth arrival in orbit targeted all comms satellites and the systems data buoys. The only site missed, a solar research station downlink, was only overlooked due to it being very new, although it had power sufficient to punch past solar storm interference.
Partial security video and extracts from police cameras, security systems, traffic cameras and other sources have allowed us to recreate invasion. Nazara landed at spaceport, using fusion-plasma torch system to slow descent combined with powerful mass effect technology. This incinerated the majority of the on site security bots (including over two hundred JOTUN mechs) and armored vehicles and aircraft, as well as most remaining heavy anti-armor weapons. SA infantry units were only equipped with light armor and rifles as a result, except for a handful of individuals. Without heavy weapons and the armor assets of the 410, human defenders had no way to answer heavy assault units of geth.
Personal Note: That did not stop the human soldiers from trying very inventive methods, including the use of spaceport fueling facilities and industrial machinery to destroy some ninety geth during the landing. Human 'kamikaze' tactics have not changed since Relay 314 incidient; again suggesting that pressuring humans into feeling they have no way out but to die will end up badly for opposing forces.
Geth were seen coming out of Nazara in waves, including heavy assault walkers ID'd as 'Colossus' units by quarian sources. These engaged and completely destroyed the 21 RIU in less than four minutes. Nazara employed its main gun to 'burn' a path through static defenses near the spaceport, and then opened fire on arcology tower when the tower's defense systems attempted to attack the Reaper.
A second tower was destroyed shortly afterwards, when it attempted to, based on utility energy readings and very fragmented comms chatter, detonate the fusion plant powering the spaceport and tower. Noted use of 'kamikaze' tactics and det-pack laden troop charges define most of the remaining resistance.
The Normandy arrived in system seventeen minutes after the attack began and required another eleven minutes to get to the orbit, nineteen to deal with orbital geth ships and land troops, and another fifteen to localize survivors. In that time, geth slaughtered most of the defending infantry, overran the dig site, extracted the Beacon using coerced human labor (geth were seen to shut down anywhere within ten feet of it) and move it to the spaceport. ALL spaceport footage was blank (no doubt hacked by geth) and at no time was Saren seen in any security recordings.
A small unit of infantry manged to fall back and, using the solar research station, signal the Normandy for assistance. The ship discharges Nihlus, Shepard, and a single reinforced kranta (roughly fifteen units of soldiers) to the surface.
Normandy ground forces pursue geth. Nihlus, acting separately, was killed (by Saren) during unknown time frame – omni-tool was missing and defensive wounds consistent with close range execution after being severely wounded by a Sunfire pistol. Given the price and restricted access of the Sunfire, only extremely high ranking turian generals, Final Line soldiers, and Deathwatch had access to the weapon – and of course, Saren.
Incoming FTL wakes corresponding to batarian strike cruisers detected by the Normandy. Normandy hides, as Nazara recovers geth and presumably Saren, leaving the system at a rate of speed unmatched by any conventional or experimental vessel, FTL wake indicating it was headed in the rough direction of the Ralx trade-lane relay (the one that heads to Noveria).
Shepard's team deactivates bombs at spaceport and recovers Beacon after pitched battle with the geth. Two of Shepard's marines (one biotic, one non-biotic) are not affected by the Beacon, although the biotic one later reported he didn't get as close to it as Shepard did. Shepard is picked up by the Beacon and began convulsions, bleeding from eyes, and showing erratic brain activity (based on hacked recovery of medical telemetry from the Normandy.)
One day post EPS: The Normandy evacuates the system based on FTL wakes from supposedly batarian cruisers. It takes almost six hours for follow up units from Third Fleet to arrive in system. No sign of batarians.
AIS and RRU forces descended to planet to deal with possible survivors. They found a total of sixty five additional Dragon Tooth artifacts, which had created almost five hundred 'husk' creatures – the RRU dispatched these with flame units for further examination. STG was unable to obtain one but is in the process of attempting to obtain final autopsy results.
RRU polices up the scene and AIS takes custody of dock worker who claims to have seen Saren interacting with geth. The worker has a criminal history of red-sand abuse, petty theft, and is deemed unreliable by the Commissariat. Intercepted comms signals indicate a request for direction was sent up the chain directly to the Fleet Master, who delegated the Eden Prime arena to General Rachel Florez.
The Normandy arrives at the Citadel bearing news of the attack and Nihlus death. Initial response was extremely chaotic. Notably, elements of Cerberus most likely involved in obfuscating Saren connection. General Florez authorizes a drell mercenary to access Eden Prime, and six hours after the dockworker was taken into custody, said mercenary murders the dockworker witness who claims to have seen Saren.
General Florez commits suicide shortly thereafter. (Addendum: body later determined by Commissariat forces to be a flash clone. Almost 100% certainty that Florez was acting on Cerberus, not SA orders – no firm evidence at this time the SA was directly involved with Saren.) Political elements of various anti-alien parties react poorly to initial reports from Citadel news sources that the Council is unlikely to approve aiding the Alliance in the aftermath of the attack.
Initial Council meeting is a matter of public record, no need to rehash. Initial STG investigations relied on information from former operative Anoleis regarding movements of Saren. According to Anoleis, he personally saw Saren and Benezia – or very good facsimiles with the ability to fool known close associates and imitate their mannerisms perfectly – at a function on Noveria two days prior to Eden Prime assault. No known ship capable of making the trip in that timeframe.
(Addendum: In hindsight, it is very likely Saren took care to be seen by Anoleis, aware of his STG past. If data recovered regarding speed and ability to 'jump' of Nazara is correct, reaching Eden Prime in two days is quite possible. Saren's ability to utilize much faster FTL travel and 'jump' to various Mass Relays is one of many reasons STG initially discounted Saren's culpability.)
Two days post EPS: Investigation further muddled by turian response to Alliance accusations of Saren's involvement and news that Nihlus was dead. Turian autopsy reports clearly show Kryik was killed by a Sunfire M-903 plasma compression pistol shot to the chest that crippled the primary heart and ruptured the turian aerial sac used for breathing. Head shot administered later was merely mercy kill. The number of Sunfire pistols in production at the the time was four hundred sixteen, all of which were accounted for.
(Addendum: the only Sunfire M-903 pistol not in the hands of the turians at the time belonged to the human Fleet Master, Ivan Dragunov, whose version is believed to be nonfunctional. Later, Shepard appropriated Sarens' own Sunfire M-203 after killing him – it is the only functional example of this weapon outside of turian hands. However, at the time of the Incident, given that several hundred Deathwatch members had one, it was not inconceivable that someone was attempting to frame Saren.)
At this point, current STG-CITADEL tasking was shifted from Citadel observations to dealing with fallout of Mirogi Incident (see subfile 4493-A-Tahso) and thus STG cells on the Citadel were not involved with or observing Shepard and the Alliance personnel. Eyewitness reports and comms intercepts report a chaotic situation – police reports show multiple killings, a firefight at Chora's Den, shootings in the Lower Wards and at a medical clinic, and possible sightings of the Shadow Broker operative Tetrimus all in the span of a day.
The sudden reversal of the Council's decision on Saren and their appointment of Shepard as a Spectre came about due to recovered information brought to Alliance attention by Tali'Zorah nar Rayya. (See subfile six-B out of the collection at the end of report – she is Admiral Rael'Zorah's only known child. The Migrant Fleet shows no awareness of the money Admiral Zorah sends to Tenta Soverian.)
Shepard's ascendance to Spectre was hotly debated by Alliance citizens, media figures and the like. A review of her record reveals why – poorly adjusted post-traumatic stress disorders, sexual abuse and criminal activities as a child, culminating in a career as a psychological terror weapon used by the SA against the hardest pirates. Shepard's combat history – while certainly robust – was not going to match up well against either Saren or Benezia – the STG gave her a 6.33% chance of success in capturing or killing both figures.
At the time she set out on her mission, Shepard's relations with the SA were best described as submissive – she did not question orders and was seemingly not aware of the political intricacies of what she got involved in. (Humans do not train their officers in political aspects until they reach command rank, at which time they are usually paired with a Commissar to act as a political minder, bodyguard, adviser and in some cases, lover. Curious.)
The bulk of our analysis of this time period focuses less on events and more on ramifications.
There is little to say that cannot be gleaned from existing media reports and the like. She is an exceptional soldier, a good biotic, and supremely unimaginative in terms of combat potential. Any force commander with anti-biotic and sniping elements would be able to neutralize her in a matter of minutes. The success she had enjoyed prior to being a Spectre is mostly due to her fighting pirates and slavers, as well as batarians – none of which have much use for strong anti-biotic devices or snipers.
(Addendum: Alliance Command seems to be remedying this, sending her to train with Admiral Tradius Ahern. No STG units are available to monitor this training but it's highly probably Ahern will widen her combat ability).
Mentally and emotionally, stunted and uncomfortable with social situations, much like older Solus types who have been involved in heavy warfare. Responds to most threats (literal, verbal, demonstrative and perceived) with extreme violence and intimidation. Intellectual levels unknown at this time – she was repeatedly able to out-think and react to Saren and Benezia, and their plans. Such is not simple. Given that she was capable of bringing the entire mess to a close, do not assume earlier dismissal of abilities as a slight – merely weakness.
Overall, another gun-jockey with very impressive talents at ad-hoc planning and a knack for motivating people. Recommend minimal oversight – while she is perhaps impressive in that she took down Saren and Benezia, much of this can be attributed to the fact she has an equally strong biotic on her side and is smart enough not to engage the enemy without a balanced backup team. She is not politically active and is unlikely to become so, and has a noted distaste for the sort of covert operations we are best suited to monitor and derail.
If you must, send one of the older, crazier Solus types – they should get on well assuming you wish contact to be made.
SCV SR1 NORMANDY CAPABILITIES:
STG scanning elements along travel lines were completely unable to pick up the Normandy on conventional long-range sensors and FTL-sensor packages. Convention sensors work on three methods: first, detection of FTL blueshift wakes incoming from out of system. Second, within the system, use of accelerated FTL positron packets to induce background heat radiation gradients, detecting ambient heat levels and picking out 'hot spots' that are usually ships. Third, conventional radar or hyperluminal 'forced beam' radar returns for physical detection.
The Normandy is immune to both heat detection and radar intercept. The hull, while lightly armored, is composed of heat-resistant chemically hardened beryllium/aluminum hybrid alloys that are also coated with radar-absorbent omnigel suspensions. This, combined with the shape of the ship, breaks up the already small radar return into falling below conventional forced-beam thresholds. Local radar sets can paint the frigate with enough power to pick up a return, but those are only useful at knife-fighting or close range – at longer than one light minute of detection arc, the Normandy is basically invisible. The details of the heat-management package are, as of yet, still opaque to us – common sense suggests the ship can only retain heat for so long, but we do not know how long that is.
Notably, the Normandy was able to evade the Reaper craft at Eden Prime and again at Feros. While it was apparently at risk at Hoc-III (Virmire), this was due to ongoing system damage and the fact that the Reaper was less than a light-minute out.
However, the cost of this invisibility is high. The Normandy has high maneuverability, a powerful missile load, and cannons usually featured on heavy destroyers or light cruisers, but it has a minimal crew capacity, and according to later reports from STG Captain Kirrahe, very weak armor, poor damage control, poor ability to deal with massed missile fire, and no fighter capacity. It has remarkably low endurance for even a frigate, unable to support itself on missions longer than one month in terms of food, water, omnigel, medigel and spare parts, and few if any redundancies (unlike most Alliance ships, which are almost impossible to kill outright.)
The geth that appeared on Eden Prime and the rest of the Benezia Incident do not match known geth body styles. All information on geth indicated they were roughly quarian sized, blocky and with heavy external armor, relying on hydraulics and base electronics. Geth observed fighting on Eden Prime and the Citadel were almost organic looking, using artificial myomer musculature, extremely advanced solid-state crystalline optronics of unknown make, and advanced heat-management systems for their rifles, which now feature a plasma-pulse dart capable of tearing through armor and disrupting shields.
Geth siege units are equally shocking, featuring weapons and armor that rival most smaller tanks. The geth fleet itself was almost too strong to fight, utilizing bleeding edge technologies such as UV GARDIAN lasers, hypermorphic digital ECM and ECCM attacks, VI-driven unfolding viral hack packages and daemons in assaults on the Citadel, and most worryingly, extremely refined info-war techniques capable of matching and repelling most anti-mechanical tactics.
Every geth unit so far examined by STG is both EMP hardened and, due to the solid-state electronics, resistant to directed EMP pulses and other anti-mech strategies. While an average geth soldier is inferior to a turian or asari soldier, and not markedly better than human or batarian soldiers, the fact that they can react instantly and without fatigue or upkeep beyond charging stations makes them more of a logistical threat.
The question of where the geth obtained such technology can only be answered by the fact that the new geth styling, both of ships and ground units, bore a distinct resemblance to that of Nazara. This raises troubling questions of just how advanced the technology given to the geth was, and if they are capable of developing it further.
ON HUSK CREATURES:
From visual records, husk creatures appear to be heavily nanotechnology modified humans, desiccated and with an internal energy system that generates a powerful electrical charge. Disturbingly, the charge is precisely calculated at the voltages that disrupt human nervous system operations.
Raises questions about purpose of husk units in assault – suspect that husks overpower humans, drag them to Dragon Tooth, and create more. Left undisturbed, a small amount of these devices could convert a large population on thinly populated planets.
Our conjectural analysis is that these are indeed 'terror weapons' – but the reasoning behind deploying them on Eden Prime, which they planned to detonate afterwards, makes little to no sense. Dragon's teeth have been found at various other sites – sites not associated with geth – for the past fifteen years, and the source of these is currently unknown.
The dragon's teeth recovered from Eden Prime were remanded to the Palavanus for study and we have no further information on their current whereabouts. Given salarian vulnerability to indoctrination, this may be for the best. Possible use of STG assets to acquire research results a good plan down the line, however.
NAZARA (INITIAL APPEARANCE):
Recovered video and cam footage from soldiers on the ground at Eden Prime show that the ship known as Nazara was fully capable of performing all functions – it could make planet-fall and disgorge both gunships and infantry while acting as a stationary artillery point and anti-air platform, even capable of taking down an armored arcology tower (rated to withstand direct hits from dreadnought main guns) with a single blast.
Speed records for the ship show a maximum speed of well over mark 100, twice as fast as anything produced by known Citadel civilization. With such speed, range management becomes impossible, as it can outrun the fastest torpedoes and even basic course changes would make mass accelerator fire miss.
CONCLUSION OF FURTHER REQUIRED INVESTIGATION:
Our primary unanswered questions from this stage are more conceptual than hard data.
Clearly there was a connection between SA elements and Cerberus, and between Cerberus and Saren. The nature of this eludes us, however, and no data recovered to state actually tells us why cooperation with Saren was seen as a positive. One possible analysis is that Eden Prime was becoming politically unstable, beginning to resent the tax rates levied on it and could have even began a movement towards the disassociationalist sovereign citizen movement among many wildcat human colonies. The disaster has certainly removed that tendency, but the cost to the Alliance – politically and economically – was severe, and hardly worth it in the long term.
Second and more troubling is how the SA or Cerberus knew what Saren was up to and to reach out to him in the first place, or how Saren knew to reach out to Cerberus. Cerberus was lead by Jack Harper, a man who was known to have personally suffered severe personal losses (best friend, fiances, many close friends, two relatives) to both Saren and his brother. Saren blamed the loss of his brother in human interference, specifically Harper's – why would they work together?
Third – why was Shepard, of all people, the Alliance choice for Spectre? The fact that she was the best N7 in the corps is a factor, but certainly there were more logical choices with the correct political and economic background for submission. Shepard has disturbing Cerberus ties – her mentor, Florez, was obviously involved, and Anderson has some involvement with Cerberus as well. Fallout from the Northstar fiasco showed that General von Grath might also have had Cerberus connections, and relay transmission intercepts show her former CO, Jason Delacor, was transmitting reports on Shepard to Florez weekly.
Is Shepard, despite her association with aliens, actually a Cerberus plant? Or possibly a pawn? Her actions against Cerberus HQ would seem to imply otherwise, but given that Jack Harper definitely escaped alive, it might be little more than some convoluted shell game designed to make Shepard seem blameless.
We simply do not have enough information, and infiltration will be exceedingly difficult. (Suggest using Kirrahe connection with Shepard to place observers – not due to Shepard, minimal interest there, but command structure and comms monitoring important to see where if we can find out tangential connections.