The Cerberus Files: Tactical Addenda, Opposing Forces



SYSFILL 393920-ADD-NINE:Cross check complete





I would like to again protest the concept of putting Ms. Lawson in charge of the Revenant Project. While I understand she is a competent organizer and somewhat acquainted with biomedical systems, she is not, by nature, a researcher or a real doctor. And this Wilson cretin sounds like the sort of snake oil salesman you get spam email from your TTL at three in the morning offering penile enhancement.

However, since you seem to be firmly set on this course, I can only caution you to expect setbacks. Ms. Lawson can be petulant at times.

I have received your most recent orders, and my preliminary thoughts are enclosed.

Dr. Galen Minsta

Cerberus Thought of the Day: Opportunity is both a weapon and a vulnerability.

I am ... ambivalent about the task you've given me, and I am uncertain that I'm the most qualified to take it on. A better understanding of alien cultures and histories, biology and military status – I can see how my expertise would be of credit and use there.

I am not so sure how well my abilities will translate into an overview – or examination – of the various groups that act as alien analogues to our own group. Nor am I sure that such groups can or should be compared to Cerberus.

I will begin with an overview of what I know to explain my difficulty with the notion.

When I speak of 'black operations groups' , a certain level of human connotation comes to mind. Humanity has had spies, assassins and saboteurs for centuries, in every known culture and nation-state throughout history. But the concept of black operations – deniable actions taken by a government's special forces, sometimes compartmentalized to protect from diplomatic blowback when such tasks were discovered or breached – is a far more recent phenomena in human culture.

Yet we must never forget the alien is just that – alien. Take the asari Nightwind, for example. With the ascendancy of the Thirty over asari city-states, no larger national grouping ever arose. With the dominance of linking and joining making the very concept of privacy a joke, and without any form of war once the Age of Queens had passed, there was never a need for such black operations forces.

Prior to the discovery of alien life, I very strongly doubt the asari had any such heritage of such acts at all. We are all very impressed with asari commandos, and they would seem a natural fit for such work, but the very word 'commando' is indeed a best-fit. The most appropriate translation is awkward, 'hunter-of-enemies-and-weakness', but gets across the concept. Asari warfare was never widespread and their entire military doctrine is about specifically applied pressure, surgical strikes, and the heavy use of indirect action.

Psychologically, asari would hate the very idea of a 'sacrificial' unit that embodies the very concept of black operations. It is no surprise they choose to use ardat-yakshi in that role, as in their eyes these females should be dead anyway.

My point is that alien views of black operations forces strongly differ from our own. Their frameworks for success, failure, and even operational standards vary. The Deathwatch of the Turians is not even remotely a secret thing – their chilling brutality, casual disregard for life or collateral damage, and amoral stance are blatantly, widely advertised, since the turian concept of black ops abandoned honor for fear, restraint for terror, and seeks to actually embrace blowback and controversy as a method of showing the turians will not be pushed further when the Deathwatch goes to war.

Likewise, the Remembrance Dancer assassins of the drell aren't even soldiers. Killers, yes, but they are also priests and artists and above all else – mercenaries. Aside from refusing to take jobs against the Hanar Ascendency they have no operational standards and more than once have ended up on the opposite sides of a fight and actually killed one another!

While understanding these forces – and what lead to their creation – may be useful, and even valuable in terms of operational preparedness, we cannot expect them to conform to the methods and limitations of Cerberus.

Specifically, Cerberus was originally founded to prevent hostile actors from deranging our culture, government, finances and lifestyle. It was designed to safeguard against the triple threat of salarian intelligence gathering and sabotage, asari economic and cultural sabotage, and turian military and paramilitary assault. While we have moved far off that model until recently, the framework we operated under when this project was a part of OPB still remains in effect.

No formal connection between Cerberus and the Alliance could be allowed because it would let aliens assail our government with charges based on our acts, which were driven by necessity and pragmatism. The same is not true in all ways of other races.

The League of Zero and the Nightwind are both comprised of beings that are illegal under Citadel Law and criminals in their own cultures. There is no possible way, no matter what evidence is gathered, to link either group to the ruling powers in question, since from what I can gather neither one actually answers to the government.

On the other hand, the atrocities of the Volus Defense Force are actually seen as a positive thing by the turians as they indicate a willingness to take up arms and actually do more than just economic support. Humanity would have been embargoed to hell and back if we did half of the genemod work the volus have, not mentioning their most recent stunt with the vorcha. And yet the ugly truth – that the volus are the lynchpin of the economy in terms of investment, tradeships, and banking – means they get a pass where other races would not.

I am unsure of what exactly you would want out of such a report, Mr. Harper, to be perfectly frank. And we now have much more limited methods of intelligence gathering in some arenas. Your missive mentioned Mr. Pellham and Mr. Leng would be assisting me as they recovered from their respective cybersurgical augmentations to fix the injuries from Omega.

They may have some more detailed ideas of how to address some of the shortcomings in my report. I will defer to them (where possible, and assuming Pel does not act like a moron).

Author's Note: My main fic story, Of Sheep and Battle Chicken (OsaBC) is set in an alternative universe to the 'canon' Mass Effect. My initial intent with the story was to do a 'show, not tell' reinterpretation, similar to but with a different focus than Renegade Reinterpretations. It wasn't intended to be a complete rewrite at the beginning, and it has grown faster and more AU than I originally intended.

The purpose of this document is to outline the AU world I work in. It is a more renegade place, if that word has any meaning at all, which I doubt. The difference between Paragon and Renegade is that Paragons do things the right way, and Renegades do things any way that achieves what they want. Not all good is nice, and not all bad is evil. But at the end of the day, both Paragons and Renegades end up doing the right thing.

Part of this more renegade verse requires a better understanding of why it is that way, and the actors involved. That is the ultimate purpose of this document.

Each of the 'major players' in the Shadow War will be covered: the asari Nightwind, turian Blackwatch, salarian League of Zero, Drell Rememberance Dancers, and the Volus Defense Force. Minor players like P's Circus and bits of the networks of Aria and the Shifter will also be covered.

The second half of this document will attempt to convey exactly what the alien governments are up to. Until this point, much of the Premiseverse has highlighted that the Systems Alliance is to be seen in a less than salubrious light. That is, they are monsters that make canon Cerberus look like Conrad Verner.

That being said, the SA is not even close to the worst actors in the galactic arena. That is what this document will highlight.

I usually do not put a warning on my works. Some of them can be slightly disturbing in areas, but nothing too bad. This work will cover events, concepts and images that may be highly offensive, extremely graphic, and involving concepts that are absolutely not for anyone not an adult. I'm not joking around, people - when I said I'd make 40k look like My Little Pony I was already thinking of this part of the Cerberus Files.