The Cerberus Files : Outcast Races
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Mr. Harper, Ms. Florez, Milord Williams,
Pel and I have successfully penetrated Batarian Space – not a hard task, given the recent upheaval in Citadel Space. Rumors are flying that the geth plan to invade and the batarians appear to be arming up for opportunistic raids.
We may have accidentally blown up a few batarian ships on our way in. As an aside, we found you a replacement pinnace, the property of some high-caste batarian who disagreed on price regarding some women Pel was interested in. I understand that batarian blood is removed easily with baking soda and an admixture of simple soap and water.
As Pel and I have not managed to find a reputable historical datastore yet that is not simply propaganda, Pel had the idea of presenting an overview of the batarian species. We are still in the process of determining who has to deal with each section, and I would strongly suggest having someone with an IQ higher than room temperature review most of Pel's submissions – assuming any data can be extracted from the profanity they contain.
We expect this will be quick, mainly because while Pel and I work well together and have for the past thirty years, we would still like to kill each other.
Cerberus Thought of the Day: – warning: file not located … searching … end-of-file error 404 : file not found. CERBTEXT-TOTDTEXTHEADER missing.
Using Pel's template for an overview of the turians has proven surprisingly simple. I will begin with their mindset.
Batarians are basically predatory animals. I do not mean this in a pejorative manner – although I am no admirer of them. It is simply the most apt description. Humans and turians are predatory animals, as are asari and elcor. Volus, drell, hanar, salarians, and quarians are clearly prey animals. Krogan would seem to be predatory, but are actually prey.
I do not believe vorcha have evolved far enough to even call themselves animals.
It is a dividing line in how one sees the universe. Batarians see it as a place to hunt and take from, a place to set out a claim. The batarian does not have any time for weakness or soft emotions; they place no value on anything but the pursuit of power. Power is their entire focus – power in deed, in words, in music, in impressions, in dominance.
Aside from power, they also pursue dominance, which they see as going hand in hand with real power. I find such a link fascinating in how clearly they see what others fail to – that power you cannot use is no power at all. The turian is trapped in his own snare, the salarian experimenting himself to death, the asari watching all their vaunted culture slip through their fingers. They do not understand the nature of power, or of life and death.
It is a pity batarians are so crudely incompetent and hostile, they would make much better potential allies than the filthy asari and grotesque over-mating turians. I remain unimpressed by most aliens we have encountered, all of which die very easily and with far too much bleeding. I will give batarians credit for knowing how to die well, almost as well as humans.
Batarian 'psychology' is nothing Pel and I should really be touching, but since you have dispatched us to do so, we will do our best. As I will not tolerate Minsta's frothing for long periods of time, perhaps you could utilize the asari woman to collate such for us.
Or perhaps we could only touch on the psychology of the alien that actually matters, instead of such irrelevancies as their preferred color scheme and how their clothing indicates mental complexity. If it doesn't help me kill it, Mr. Harper, I fail to see the point in exploring it.
Pel says this part is required. I will be blunt – batarian culture is dying. There is every indication that they once had a more… deep cultural background. The rise of the Emperor and the state religion of the Fist of Khar'shan and the Dark Gods have put an end to that.
The asari woman has spoken of batarian culture before, but I think most of it is just the wreckage left behind by whatever has overtaken the squints in the present day.
Culture is striated by caste and distance from Khar'shan, much as it is in human society by citizenship class, wealth, and distance from Sol. Most of it organizes around caste – different castes have different foods, different housing styles, even different outlooks on life.
Batarian males and females are highly different – in particular, the females are smaller, weaker, and barely sapient. This explains why they view females in general in such a dim light. Due to their fixation on power, batarian males apparently prefer rape to consensual sex. Revolting.
Batarian food is sustaining, but otherwise revolting. The music is very catchy. Neither Pel nor I could be bothered exploring their art for any amount of time, but we plan on killing a few artists and providing information for Trellani to pore over. Again, if it doesn't help me with the knifing, I have little interest in its pursuit.
UPDATE: Pel suggests he will handle the cultural aspects when the time comes for a full report. I take back my words about this being of no interest; this is liable to be vastly entertaining, given the fallout from the turian physiology report.
The military of the batarians is curiously bifurcated. The 'state army' is run by the government proper. It is poorly equipped, poorly led, with subpar tactical and strategic functionality. The logistics are quite good, probably better than our own, but embargoes and a lack of local industrial capacity have crippled the fleet's range and capacity. Batarian State Arms is a well-known supplier of criminally bad arms and armor, equipment not fit to hunt gasbags on Eden Prime with.
Thus, to run into the gleaming ranks of the SIU, the Fist of Khar'shan elite combat units, or the Imperial Guard is quite the shock. These units are extremely well-equipped, supremely trained, and would not be overmatched even fighting N7 NCTs or other alien special forces. Nor can the power of their manufactured biotics be overlooked. The morale and fighting style of these units is markedly different than the State armies, as are the caste makeups.
Some of the war gear and weapons used by the Imperial Guard is far beyond even asari technology – we acquired a batarian model of a point-of-impact reinforcement shield that can bounce direct hits from a Widow sniper rifle. The technology has a curious look to it, black-blue with a sheen like oil on water. The owner is obviously dead and cannot answer questions regarding its source, and I doubt other batarians would bother to aid us in this either.
Pel finds it uncomfortable, and we have stored it in storage pods outside the ship rather than utilize it ourselves. Something about the shapes of the armor and the other equipment are very subtly… wrong. Pel's instincts are rarely wrong, and I would prefer caution to reckless behavior.
Other than those anomalies, their military is reeling from our various assaults. The fleet command structure is fragmented, and the Emperor – for whatever reason – seems less concerned about keeping his fleets in good order so much as defending Khar'shan and a small number of other colonies, most of them water worlds with few landmasses. These priorities confuse me.
The batarian economy is a wreck, with little development. However, the many pirate clans outside and inside Batarian Space are providing enough revenue and import/export capacity to prop the Hegemony up for now. Local industrial capacity is low and mostly focused on producing repair parts, basic medical and survival gear, clothing, and the like – very few factories are capable of producing high-tech equipment, and they have only one badly outdated shipyard.
If not for the Terminus warlords trading eezo, medical supplies, and technology for the food grown in the Hegemony, it would have collapsed by now. As long as that trade continues, however, the Hegemony will be hard to dislodge. If nothing else, every single colony they have is self-sufficient when it comes to foodstuffs and basic supplies, and batarians will not colonize planets that cannot survive on their own for long periods of time.
The batarians have endured over sixty years of an embargo – by this point, they have slowly begun to try and build up their own capacities to answer some shortages. There's also a lot of investment by Aria, P., and the Shifter out here, entire systems sold off to them for whatever they're up to. While these systems don't belong to the Hegemony, they do trade with it, and this has made the embargo less effective than it should be.
The SIU – the Special Intervention Unit – doubles as both elite soldiers and intelligence operatives. I have a high amount of professional respect for the SIU, as they are very talented and ruthless.
Batarian views on counterintelligence work mostly rotate around capture and torture of enemy spies, which is not a comforting thought as we wallow through Batarian Space in an unarmed tramp freighter. On the other hand, the SIU's attention is more geared toward internal rebellions and STG penetration than human assaults.
I find this very curious, Mr. Harper. Either the border colonies they have lost mean nothing to them, or they don't think the SA will actually invade deeply into their space. I know our military is overtaxed, but this still seems highly arrogant… and a good opportunity that should not be wasted.
The SIU focus on thwarting the STG has made Pel curious, and he claims that if they're focused on that it means the grays have found something interesting and are trying to penetrate it. If we can identify this in our travels, we will update you further.
Batarians are divided into multiple castes. The lower-caste is poor, ignorant, physically feeble and identified by gray skin, all-black eyes, and whitish teeth. They tend towards slender and do have some level of agility, but are not quite as strong as a baseline human. These are the manual laborers, cannon fodder, and slaves of the Hegemony. They do little more than breed and die for their betters, but are also the most likely to revolt.
The mid-caste, identified by sallow brown or dark tan skin tones, is the one we most commonly see in the Traverse. Larger and stronger than the gray batarians, they also have all-black eyes and whitish teeth, but a higher intelligence. These are the bulk of the military and the middle class. They have a higher aggression level than the grays, and are more inclined to look down on aliens as inferior. They are less likely to revolt, but most revolts are organized around them since the grays lack leadership ability in most cases.
The high-caste batarians are rarely seen, with golden or white skin, pure white eyes, gleaming black teeth, and a long fall of white hair in a queue trailing from their skull. The biggest and healthiest batarians, the high-caste are the rulers, officers, and wealthy among the Hegemony. They are slightly bigger and much stronger than most humans, and even the civilians train in warfare.
There is little of value in their caste system, which strikes me as inefficient and strangely out of place in their otherwise highly efficient culture.
The highest caste is the Imperial Blood, who have deathly pale white skin, glowing white eyes, long falls of white hair, and longer, fanglike black teeth. Very few have seen Imperials or the Emperor in person, and few want to – any non-batarian who gazes on an Imperial is immediately put to death.
The Emperor does not wield absolute power in the Hegemony – his will is constrained by batarian high-caste leaders and the military – but he is increasing his control over time. What little we know about him is that the position was once highly ceremonial, and when the old democratic government collapsed in the wake of something called the Readjustments, the Emperor took power.
What bits we're getting about this person is not encouraging or reassuring. Literally every batarian is terrified of him, and he tends to react to assassination attempts by immolating entire cities or colonies. It is also curious that not a single assassination attempt so far has even managed to hurt him – common batarians hold that he is a living god, more sophisticated ones talk of strange cyberware and 'black arts.'
The Emperor travels at all times with a ceremonial standard, which is a pale white banner with the Fist of Khar'shan sigil on it, topped by a glowing orb of swirling color. We've gotten some fragmentary reports that this standard has some kind of powers – probably mystical bullshit, but we will investigate and report our findings.
Batarian ground weapons are similar to human ones, relying on direct kinetic impacts through ballistic bits of metal, enhanced with various elements. Batarian sniper weapons rely on kinetic harpoons, some tipped with poisons, mechanical explosives, or corruptive nanotech. Batarians are very fond of melee combat and use special omni-gauntlets to amplify their strike power, but have no real history with melee weapons aside from the morning star and mace – edged weapons were seen as heretical or something.
Batarian space weapons often use enhanced 'multi-stage' rounds – nanotechnology or machinery to turn the final shot into something that prolongs the attack. Batarians do not use the volus M/AM missile or torpedo tech, using instead turian-style mass effect disruption torpedoes and ion-burst missile systems.
Batarian arms and armor outside of their special forces units is garbage. Most of it is inferior to some civilian turian gear. Their omni-tools and other infowar technology are badly outdated, and most haptic driven systems are falling apart due to lack of optronic components. Most armor uses carbon nanofiber weave and synthetic silk rather than the high-compression impact ceramics of asari design that the SA uses, making batarian armor more comfortable and sometimes elegantly ominous in design.
I cannot help but approve. Menace and dread are, after all, potent weapons, and one really should look the part if you're going to strike from the darkness.
On the other hand, batarians have a wide array of suppressive technology and implants that surpass our own, and have made advances into biotechnology that are very impressive. There is actually a great deal of recent batarian technology that is biotechnological in origin, a disturbing and ugly trend since I have no clue where it is coming from. We will have to examine the weapons we captured in some detail to get ideas.
Honesty, Mr. Harper, it would not take much to finish off the Hegemony. Khar'shan and the core colonies are protected heavily, but three-fourths of their space is only lightly held, often full of slaves, and badly policed. Taking the batarians out in those areas would not be difficult, although dealing with the pirate and slave raids would be.
The largest threat the Hegemony offers is that it distracts the SA from larger enemies and makes our military think it is actually effective. The average State Arms unit is not even on par with some private mercenary groups in terms of tactics or equipment, and beating the batarians is similar to outsmarting the vorcha.
Easily done, but hardly impressive.