The Cerberus Files: Separatist Races
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First of all, I appreciate the efforts made in the past few months to reorganize some semblance of a research corpus. I understand the new limitations placed on us in terms of interacting with alien subjects – it would hardly do to awaken your war-golem and have her try to kill us all for acting in a manner she finds objectionable.
That being said, the fact remains we are still faced with a host of unpleasant questions with no good answers. My daughter, Tiffany, has recently graduated from Arcturus' premier Academy of Science, and I think that adding her to my somewhat limited staff would not only ease my mind as to her safety but provide us with a much needed technical expert in terms of some of what we run across.
As to your latest directive, I find myself – as usual – at somewhat of a loss to your sudden interest in the races that never have had formal contact with the Citadel. While the danger of the Hanar Ascendancy is well known, and I suppose their drell servants are equally worthy of a look, I'm not sure exactly what you think we'll discover of any use on the so-called vorcha 'culture'.
However, as always, I will carry out your orders. My preliminary findings will be presented first before any in-depth analysis.
Dr. Galen Minsta
Cerberus Thought of the Day: The human is as strange to the alien as they are to us – use their unfamiliarity as a tool.
As I spoke of in my opening statements on the Citadel Races, there seems to be a rule of threes in place with the sentient species we know of. Three (asari, salarian, turian) form the core of the Council. Until recently, three (humans, volus, elcor) were on the periphery, and three (quarians, krogan, batarians) were in the dubious position of once having ambassadors, Spectres and potential for council seats and then losing them.
The races that have never had any formalized relationship with the Citadel are the hanar, the drell, and the vorcha. (As an amusing sidenote, the last three known races – geth, yahg and Collectors – have not had formalized relations with anybody, continuing the trend.) The Hanar Ascendancy is considered a passively hostile state to the Council, while the drell are their servants. Until recently the vorcha were only cultivated by krogan, but recent additions to volus forces of vorcha warriors is a troubling development.
The Hanar were never signers of the Ancestral Accords, that required all Citadel races to allow combined-race teams to examine and excavate any Prothean sites. From all known information, several core worlds of the Prothean Empire lay within hanar space and the hanar home world itself was a Prothean colony of some size.
As a result of this, and because the hanar have some method of sight and pheremonal reading that all other races lack, the Hanar are the foremost experts on the Protheans – who they also worship as gods. While in some areas hanar technology is no match for Citadel tech, in many others – particularly strange computer systems, the bizarre biotics of the drell, outlandish and nightmarish weapons and other bits and pieces of military tech – they are in advance of the Citadel race and even geth.
The Hanar have categorically denied the Council access to any Prothean ruin in their space and have paid off excavation teams more than once to discover and brutally loot-strip discovered Prothean sites outside of their space. They have attempted dozens of times to breach the Mars Archives, the Turian Hall of Knowledge on Palaven, and the Salarian Reach Research Institute.
As a result of this, the Council has gone to war against the Hanar twice – once not long after the Krogan Rebellions, and a second time roughly two hundred years ago. Both of these so-called Refusal Wars ended in staggering, embarrassing losses in Council forces and – in the second – the assassination of the entire Council and the elimination of eleven Spectres by Remembrance Dancers.
As a result the hanar are, with the exception of known outcasts such as Delan the Indulgent and Farmas the Denied, refused access to the Citadel and to most of Council space. The Hanar Ascendancy's basic stance is that any non-hanar possessing Prothean tech is a heretic who should be put to death, and they consider all Mass Relays and the Citadel itself to be Prothean tech.
The Hanar maintain strong relationships with the Batarian Empire, oddly enough, and are major customers of the Terminus systems. Most of the piracy and raiding done in the Bright and Outer Rim, and in pieces of the Volian Traverse, is financed by hanar wealth.
The hanar army is surprisingly powerful, and the hanar navy, while smaller than most other navies, is not only exquisitely trained but armed with weapons of sickening power, of Prothean design and unknown function. At least one of the weapons systems, the Prism Lance, completely bypasses kinetic shielding and can core a heavy cruiser with a single shot. Hanar tech includes a bewildering array of devices, including hand-held shields that can expand out to three times their width and block even direct tank fire, computer systems based on piezoelectric crystals and holographic imaging, strange stealth systems that can blank out a ship's FTL wake and blueshift, and more.
Hanar are gasbag like creatures that 'speak' through a mix of luminescence in several wavelengths combined with an elcor-like pheremonial emission that cannot be translated by Citadel tech. Drell often modify their eyes and sense of smell to pick up on this.
Ascetic and fatalistic, the drell are humanoid desert dwellers who the hanar saved from self-destruction after the ecosphere and climate of their world collapsed. While originally only trying to save a small fraction of the race, the drell's species-wide agreement to literal slavery for a hundred generations prompted the hanar to expend a vast sum of money and capital to evacuate nearly their entire population.
In return, the drell served the hanar faithfully, and even upon the expiration of the forced servitude contract, continue to do so. The drell government is independent on paper but in practice is a client state of the Hanar Ascendancy by choice. Every century they have a race wide vote done to see if they will remain so, the last vote had 82.5% of the race voting to do so – and 15.8% voting to do so in perpetuity and stop the voting.
Drell are lethal combatants, with biotic power that rivals an asari coupled with blindingly fast speed near akin to a salarian. As bad as this is, their physical strength and stamina are more on par with turians than humans, and they have a host of natural advantages. They cannot be strangled, have built-in abilities to navigate even in darkness, completely photographic memories, and a staggering level of immunity to almost all diseases and pathogens. Their only weakness is a vulnerability to highly humid environments that eventually causes lung decay, but hanar science has made strides in addressing this.
Drell do not worship the Protheans, although they see them as admirable. They have a pantheon of gods stemming from their wandering survivalist days, and are highly religious. They see sin as something imparted by the originator of an act, not the person who carries it out. As such, to keep their race clean of 'sin', they ritualistically have a caste of priest-assassins, the Remembrance Dancers, who kill their foes and keep the memory of their deaths alive and mourn them. The Dancers are widely feared, known to have achieved impossible kills and acts of infiltration. While not immortal – they can be dispatched by en masse attacks if overwhelmed – they are almost impossible to beat one on one.
The drell bring heavy hitting power to the hanar military. Drell ships differ in design while making use of the hanar tech base, providing heavily-armored defense ships that protect the lighter built, more heavily armed hanar ships. The drell army is fanatical and over forty percent of them have biotics, can march for days on end without food or water, and has a religious belief that dying in the name of their gods ensures a better life in reincarnation.
The drell, curiously, seem highly impressed by humanity for reasons that have not been made clear. I find it rather curious (and hilarious) that their impression of the asari is that they are deceitful to themselves and all others, the salarians as immoral and lost in their own pursuit of perfection, and the turians as brutal schizophrenics trying to justify immolating half their own people for honor. Their moral code is the only one with much similarity to ours, including injunctions against dishonesty, theft, and sexual immorality.
Ah, the cockroaches of the galaxy. The Vorcha are a barely sentient species that has demonstrated a laughable inability to stop murdering and eating each other long enough to move past the bronze age. With limited creativity, endless aggression, a short temper and a shorter lifespan, vorcha evolved on a literal hellworld that would challenge krogan survivalists to endure.
The vorcha were 'uplifted' by the krogan, if you can call it that, and for the past few centuries have mainly served as krogan fodder. Vorcha only value strength and power, for the most part, and were enthusiastic students of the sort of violence the krogan exemplify.
Fragmentary evidence suggests that there was a short period of time where there was a least a partially functioning global government, under the aegis of a rather intelligent linage of vorcha known as the Bosses. When civil war wracked the vorcha home world, most of the Bosses were killed, and no stable government has really emerged from the fighting. As a result, the Council declined to offer the vorcha any form of even associate membership – as I said once before, putting a vorcha ambassador on the Citadel would just result in someone being eaten.
Vorcha breed even more rapidly than turians, and can adapt to almost any environment due to a majority of their body being comprised of something akin to stem cells that allow for rapid and drastic mutation. Vorcha are perhaps the hardiest and most hardened survivors in the galaxy, capable of living through events that would eliminate most races.
Vorcha are almost immune to all known diseases, laugh off even the strongest toxins and nerve agents, think stun weaponry and even neural maces 'tickle', and can survive being shot in multiple places and missing more than one limb. The vorcha religion worships fire as a divine being and they are in love with any form of fire-based weaponry.
Vorcha never developed shipbuilding technology (or much of any other kind of technology) and yet, if properly trained, can become effective repair engineers. Despite my sneering dismissal, vorcha are not exactly stupid – merely very violent and disinterested in anything but eating, killing and fire. That being said, vorcha trained from birth can be 'civilized' and are excellent pilots, highly skilled infantry, well above average metal-smiths, and can produce surprisingly complex and multifaceted art.
The vorcha threat is that they can be crafted to whatever an end user wants, as they have almost no innate culture and no morals. Vorcha are completely fearless of death, as they think all vorcha simply come back in a new body unless they are killed with fire. (Given some of the things I've seen vorcha survive – including being struck by a out of control heavy air truck, falling into a vat of industrial acids, and even being shot by a railgun – this may not be as outlandish as it appears.)
The vorcha language – described as mostly snarl with the occasional bite or smack to the head – is hardly translatable, but most vorcha speak broken Galactic Asari Standard. Vorcha are curiously bichiral, capable of utlizing both levo and dextro proteins. Their blood is very slightly basic and can be refined into a potent compound to purify infected wounds.
The Hanar Ascendancy has been increasingly belligerent in the aftermath of the Benezia Incident, demanding all wreckage from Nazara be turned over to them and attempting several raids on various locales identified as Prothean sites in the incident. Reports from the agents we have in the Traverse indicate the Hanar are hiring on large amounts of mercenary units from the Terminus Systems and building remote bases in deserted systems along the Bright Rim.
Our own threat analysis indicates a good chance of another Refusal War brimming if the Council decides to take action to stop this buildup before it gets too big, and if the Hanar can bring Aria into the fight we could be looking at a potential disaster. Aria with hanar tech is simply a threat that cannot be tolerated or allowed.
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.
The Cerberus Files is a story,written around a series of reports gathered by the leadership of Cerberus during the events of ME1 and parts of ME2. The key actors are:
-Dr. Minsta, a brilliant doctor, historian, psychologist and economic guru
-Matriarch Trellani, an outcast asari matriarch who has joined Cerberus after discovering the truth of Athame, and now plots to eradicate the Thirty
-General Petrovsky, much the same as in canon but with a different focus.
-Pel, a cruelly dispassionate wet-work operator and assassin for the Illusive Man, who's past is a jagged mess of regrets
-Kai Leng, an equally cruel murderer who is more subtle and nuanced than the canon version.
-Prime 302, a battered survivor network of the Geth which is captured by Cerberus
-Shades-Of-Examined-Views, an Ascention Protocol Level III Collector captured by Cerberus
This part of this work is a review of the so-called separatist races: Hanar, Drell, and Vorcha. Other documents will cover the other races.