A/N: So this is a sort of silly little thing I came up with since I'm still slowly working on the next chapter of TWCD.
Entries will be mostly done by whatever people review/message/PM/email to include, with the condition it would have to be someone Ahern has actually met or heard about.
Dragunov will also weigh in. :)
FROM : FIFTH FLEET, COMMANDING, ADMIRAL OF THE RED TRADIUS J. AHERN
TO: FLEET MASTER, SOL, FIRST FLEET SOLGUARD, ADMIRAL OF THE RED IVAN P. DRAGUNOV
ENCODING: BLACKFLASH 774 – SUPERNOVA ONLY ENCRYPTION KEY ATTACHED
ROUTING: CITFLTCOM → ARCRELCOM → SOLMAINCOMMS
CHECKSUM VERIFIED. KEY VERIFIED. DECRYPTING
SUBJECT: RE : COMMS REQUEST AND ORDER TASKING, AHERN, TRADIUS : GO FUCK YOURSELF
I guess you think this is funny, huh?
So, as you no doubt know, some stupid bastard in the Office of Military Recon got on the horn with me, as I was packing up my shit to leave Pinnacle. Said they wanted some kind of documentation, my opinion on 'potential hostile actors of note.'
For a minute I though the stupid bastard was asking me how many people Aish Ashland could kill with her fucked up singing, but they clarified it as they wanted a rundown on alien military forces. I wanted to tell them to go fuck themselves, but then they said you ordered it. Come to find out you're in a bit of hot water with the Ministry of Defense after that pack of N's got ass-raped by the Imperial Guard...
Well. I don't like doing it, but I will. Lord knows that the stupid Defense clowns probably won't read it the right way, but hopefully the AIS can do something with it. Just remember this, Ivan, the next time you give me shit about me cock-blocking you with Adkin's daughter. You owe me one now.
Trust me, you wouldn't have wanted to marry Sheila anyway. I'm goddamned thankful I didn't.
Since I only have a few days until I hit the Citadel, this report is going to be brief. You and I know most of this shit, but the point the staffing spook made was true – a lot of people don't really get it. They don't know how to deal with a charging Warlord, or what a goddamned Nightwind even is, or why a goddamned Razorsinger is only a threat if you're stupid enough to fight one underwater.
I'm going to do this as quick as I can. First I'll cover the alien military special forces. Then I'll go over the creeps and weirdos that don't quite fit that category. Finally, I'll cover some real killers.
As I am the most goddamned lethal thing in space after diving head first into a black hole or eating the pork at K-Changs in San Angeles, I've come up with a unit of measure for just how dangerous a potential enemy is. We'll call a single unit of deadliness an Ahern. One Ahern means, basically, a single member of the unit is worth one of me. Sometimes, I'll say a whole unit is worth one of me if you're not going to run into singletons.
I hear you laughing, but you come up with a better baseline on your own. This isn't an official report, jackass, just some notes. You can have your goddamned choir boys in the AIS clean it up, they'll probably get a kick out of turning normal English into spook-speak.
I'll start with the Big Three, then move on to cover volus, batarian and krogans, and finish up with the quarians and drell, what little I know about hanar, and then the superfreaks like P. Won't take very long, and if you need follow up you can find me on the Citadel.
Overall, the asari are the scariest military to deal with, because they have flexibility. They have more training, plasma weapons, they are all fucking biotic, get stronger as they get older, and don't squabble much among each other. They don't have pissing contests over who is in charge the way we do. Their tactics tend to cut your command chains into bits, and you can't return the favor because the matriarchs are seeded through the entire unit and prevent morale from collapsing.
Their stock military girls aren't worth worrying about, since they almost never actually get deployed. No, the main things you have to watch are the commandos, the war priestesses, and the goddamned Nightwind.
The commando is a middling biotic but has very good skills at tracking, sniping and suppression. They fight either from long range and stealth, or up close with speed.. A single commando isn't that much better than a human soldier in terms of durability without biotics, but in a group they're deadly. They train for decades in combined tactics, they know each others' moves inside out, and they don't get demoralized or angry-stupid. Best way to shut them down is when they're trying to close in, with explosives and anti-biotic grenades.
Most commandos work in teams, and some of these teams have been together for decades...or even centuries. Don't expect an easy fight, and do expect them to surprise you at least once. They sometimes contract out mercs as backup and support forces, so do your homework unless you like being flanked by a pack of Blue Suns heavies.
Best tactics I recommend are to break them up and don't let them use their teamwork. If that means smokescreens, explosives, or goddamned tapioca pudding, use it. A single commando will go down to enough firepower in short order.
Threat: about .2 Aherns. I had to fight some of the bitches in the mess with Vasir back in the day and dropped five of them by myself. They don't like flamethrowers very much.
The war priestess is on top of the fucking food chain. NOTHING else in this goddamned fucked ass galaxy is anywhere as lethal, crazy, or sexy.
The younger ones are fanatics, and the older ones can bounce tank rounds and knock frigates out of the sky. The WP relies entirely on biotics and a warp sword – the sword makes armor a waste of fucking time, and kinetic barriers won't stop it either. That means if you let them get close you WILL die. At range you're also fucking dead, because they can hit with flares that do more damage than artillery shells and every kind of biotic bullshit you can imagine.
Very few war priestess have ever lost a fight, and that's usually after they're half dead and exhausted. None of the ones who've been defeated in the past couple of centuries were done in one on one fights – usually you need at least three or four real hard fuckers to take one down.
The only people I know of who can drop one reliably – as in almost every time – are Dancers striking from stealth, and some crazy fuckers like Tazzik or Tetrimus. Anyone else who fights one-on-one is dead. I wouldn't advise it.
The best choices you have are (and I'm not shitting you here) air-fuel explosives and/or low-yield tac nukes. I've seen these bitches BOUNCE – as in completely fucking stop – mass accelerator rounds from a turian tank. And if they drop an anchor on a ship it's going to tear the mass core right off it's mounting, and then the ship will go boom.
Threat: Shit. Easily ten Aherns. Benezia took on six Spectres, a dozen Broker agents, god knows how many C-SEC fuckers, an asari blade-mistress, plus Shepard and her team, and the only reason she lost is she basically gave the fuck up and killed HERSELF. And the High Solarch fucked up a SPACESHIP on foot.
Let's not piss one off.
I've only heard bits and pieces about these asari, some kind of outcasts who can kill you with their mind – through melding, I think. What firm facts I know about them is that they're stronger biotically than most asari, kitted out with a ton of biotic blueware cybernetics, and used mostly in espionage and seduction roles by the asari. There's a couple of types, the Nightwind is used more for killing, and the Daywind is more for infiltration.
I don't know if the Nightwind and Daywind are the same thing or different. Asari... really, really do not like talking about them.
I asked my old buddy Tela about them and she told me a few things – reluctantly. (Protip: getting an asari drunk is bad, but it's worse when you have a sneaking suspicion she wants to bang you. My wife would have killed me if I let that happen.) What she told me – and I can't confirm any of this shit – is that the Nightwind were not really 'killers' so much as 'assassins when you didn't expect them'. If they sleep with someone, that fucker is dead or mind-fried, or at the very least incapacitated. The Nightwind have some kind of weird ability to mess with people's thoughts and make them go along with whatever they say, which sounds far-fetched but explains why the Asari has a hard-on for these ardat-yakshi things.
Tactics to take them out are simple: lots of anti-biotic grenades, lots of suppressive fire mixed with snipers, and once they close in, explosives. Don't ever get into a biotic fight with them, their biotics are too strong and they'll fucking massacre your adepts.
Threat: hard to say. If they fight like commandos but have stronger biotics, lets say it's .5 Aherns. If what Tela said about their ability to fuck with your mind is true.. ugh. At least two Aherns.
God, it would fucking glorious if there were actually two of me.
These are rare. These are deadly. These are not the bitches with which to fuck, and while I don't fear anything in this galaxy this is probably as close as it gets.
They're mostly matrons or matriarchs who have spent most of their lives practicing with and fighting with a warp sword, in a non-religious manner. To me, they sound like fucking Jedi, but their reputation in asari society is a mix of respect and dislike.
Asari aren't usually warlike, but blademistresses ARE. Very, very, very warlike. Most of them are blunt, rude, and direct. Most of their biotics is designed to work with their sword-fighting and bringing themselves in close to an enemy. And unlike the rest of the blues, blademistresses usually wear good armor and will happily use other weapons, explosives, poisons, and God only knows what else.
Stupid idiots ask why asari use warp swords. Again. The asari have a barrier, and most of these biotic barriers are strong enough to let them laugh off small arms for the few seconds it takes them to biotic charge your position. Then you have someone with a sword that ignores your own kinetic shields, slices through armor as if it ain't there, and will cut your fucking head off with a single slice. THAT is why they keep using them. You let one get in close, you're fucked.
On the other hand, at range, they vary. As I said, some use other weapons – some of them are nasty snipers, and if you run into one like that you're pretty much fucked. Others focus more on work with the biotic charge and shotguns to close in, and at range are pretty weak.
They have good barriers, tend towards heavier armor, and are tricky with a flash-step, but a sniper can stop one pretty easy. Or mines. I wouldn't rely on anti-biotic grenades or anything like that, though – like I said, they use other weapons a lot, and even if they didn't the eezo in their warp sword is too powerful to be disrupted.
Since they can literally run their biotic power through their sword, it allows them (at close range) to shake off any suppression.
Finally, be aware – in the sword there's about three pounds of eezo, highly charged. They can set that thing off by breaking it, and the resulting warp blast is extremely lethal to anything in close proximity.
Threat: at least 6 Aherns. Tela isn't half-assed trained in this kind of fighting yet, and I'd rather cut off my own dick than get in a close-range fight with her. Less fucking painful. I met her aunt once (aftermath of the attempt on the Queen Matriarch) and Jesus fucking Christ that old girl was scary with a sword.
CREEPS AND WEIRDOS : GODTALKERS and MIDNIGHT KISS
Ugh. One thing I've learned the hard way is every species has fucking freaks. These are the ones you want to write up as 'do not engage' without a qualifier.
There's never a reason to fight these people and you won't fucking win.
First , Godtalkers. There's a type of war priestess that is even crazier than the normal ones. They blind themselves ritually and somehow use biotics or something to 'see'. They're called Godtalkers.
From a strictly military standpoint, they're not as bad as a war priestess. They can't fucking see, and while they can sense things within a few dozen feet that won't help them against a sniper.
There's two problems. The first is Godtalkers are the so called Chosen of Athame. They wander space (mostly asari space, but who can tell) looking for things that 'the Goddess finds of interest' and then they get involved. Bottom line? Godtalkers are usually found where there's a large accumulation of biotic power without any kind of strong leadership. A Godtalker in Alliance space almost certainly means a big batch of biotic terrorists.
That doesn't mean they're hostile – twice they've managed to talk a situation down – but you can't be sure, because twice they've also made a situation go hot and end up with a lot of dead people. Did I mention only very senior priestesses end up as Godtalkers?
You probably want a slug of whiskey for this other thing.
The second part – and this is according to several people I trust – is that Godtalkers, while not technically part of the Church of Athame anymore, are seen as a direct conduit to the goddess.
Let me break this down to you real simply : A Godtalker can tell an entire pack of war priestess, an asari telsharess in charge of a whole fleet, or an entire chapter of Justicars to go do something and they will – no questions asked.
Killing one – assuming you actually could – would probably make the asari declare war on us.
So you get an idea here, when Kyle went crazy and died, there was a Godtalker at the base – she left with Shepard and went about her merry business. But just the fact that the Alliance assaulted a world she had been on infuriated the Asari Republic so badly they warned us if it happened again they would restructure trade and technology agreements.
Threat: Call it 3 Aherns, they're still war priestess. Danger? They can command almost anything. Leave it alone.
The other freak is the Midnight's Kiss. This is some kind of super-special ardat-yakshi killer. We don't know who's in charge of them, but there's more than one, and based on the way Tela talked about it, I don't think they answer to the Council of Matriarchs.
Not much that I know about them except they have all the danger of a top-end commando rolled together with the fun of a brain-eating serial killer. Again, there's no goddamned reason any Alliance force should be fucking with these people, and if some poor bastard finds himself up against one then I recommend he eats a bullet before she gets her claws into him.
No clear way to rate their threat, so call it the same as the Nightwind, 2 Aherns.
Grays are a bit more straightforward than asari – some of the asari are on our side, some are on their own side. The salarians are out to fuck everybody, though. It's nice not having to deal with ambiguity at times.
Salarians see warfare as a waste of time for the most part. Their professional soldiers are the Shieldbreakers, poor bastards with all their limbs cut off and shoved into a battlesuit. The rest of their military forces, frankly, suck ass – aside from the Shield Dragoons, they fight very poorly on defense. Even vorcha can hold a line better than standard salarian troops.
For infiltration, bombings, mayhem, assassination and dirty tricks, though, no one beats them. Salarians are (like me) very fond of grenades and know how to use them properly – a few adepts to use biotic throws and fling them back in their faces would be a good idea. Salarians are fast, accurate and smart, but can't absorb shock or damage and will rout quickly if broken.
Salarians are more flexible tactically in some ways than asari, but they have pre-set stances and responses to most attacks. If you can feint-out the salarian commander you can get him to do some pretty stupid shit before he wises up.
SALARIAN SHIELD DRAGOON
The more senior, older soldiers in heavier armor, the shield dragoon rates a mention because he is a very tough bastard to kill. Kitted in multilayer Silaris body armor and overlapping kinetic barriers behind a deployable kinetic shield, he's got onboard medical kits and other tricks to keep him alive.
Now, your stupider morons will think Shield Dragoons aren't a 'real' threat because they don't have a lot of offensive power. Which is FUCKING RETARDED, because while a squad of shield dragoons doesn't hit real hard, if you let them get good and dug in they can – and I do not exaggerate – survive heavy orbital bombardment. They will fuck your day up and taunt you about it, and getting past them is the worst pain in the ass I've ever seen. They are very heavy on field engineering and infowar, drone uses and deployable defenses, quick-set omni-flash barricades and especially mines.
The best tactics are feints and the use of area-denial techniques to flush them from cover, although that's going to be tough to do. Biotics would work wonders here, they don't have any particular defenses against that. If they're dug in heavily your best shot at pulling them out is sadly going to be attritional assault – use mechs if you can, because it's going to take a long time to wear them down.
On the direct attack they aren't much. If they are defending, I'd say they're a solid 1 Ahern. I've gone up against a squad once – damn near killed me with monomolecular wire, motion sensing plasma flare mines and sniping. I flushed them out by blowing a dam and flooding the area, then picking them off as they broke their defensive setup so they didn't drown.
STG WAR SPECIALIST
The STG is mostly spooks like the AIS. Now, the AIS guys aren't wimps, I'll give them that, but they aren't trained soldiers either, and neither is most of the STG. Nine times out of ten an STG team will panic if they come under heavy fire - I don't blame them, they're not trained for that. Bottom line is that intelligence agents and specialists may be nasty assassins and good at taking out lone targets, they rarely if ever are equipped - or mentally ready - to endure the rigors of true battlefield conditions.
The War Specs are the exception. I don't know details, but most of them are Solus clan, hard and twitchy bastards with a fixation on guns and speed. War Specs will focus on one field (tech, medicine, explosives, hacking, whatever) and then pick two more and a weapons style to master. The STG mixes these teams up freely, so you have no fucking clue what's coming down the pike.
In a straight fight they're not that dangerous – but you'll never, ever see a straight fight out of these fuckers. A cell is made of six to eight of them, and each one is going to be running their own schemes. Some of them have subgroups, mercenary companies, hired krogan or even Remembrance Dancers on call. Others have access to batttle-suits. Or chemical laser satellites. Probes that spit out clouds of nano-grenades. Fucking mech computing clouds equipped with tanglewire. A goddamned ghost-hacked krogan warlord with remote piloting overrides.
Or Jesus fuck knows what else. Most of them are, if you didn't already figure this out, completely motherfucking crazy.
As each cell is different, it's kinda hard to tell you what the best tactics are at taking them out. But a few points come to mind: liberal use of snipers, explosives, and poison gas will usually do the trick against almost anything. As most of these teams don't have biotics, the use of vanguard charges to get inside their battle range and crush them in CQB should also work. Above all else, don't let them have the initiative - force them to react, not set you up.
Threat : A full cell of these spooks is definitely enough to kill me, or you, so let's call it two Aherns for a cell.
Just... have your people write up 'Do not engage. Ever. Period.'
Salarian Transcendentals are their elite biotics. They move fast – very fast, much faster than most salarians, who already move like GASCAR on crack – and their biotics are extremely precise and deadly. You're not going to get a chance to take them out – most times when these guys go full out, the target is dead the minute they get on the field.
Eni Gasha? The guy who took down Tyriun No Kage? That was a Transcendental. Shift? The cybered up fucker who killed an entire company of Corsairs operating in Aria's space? That was one. You get the idea. They're nasty, fast, full of all the usual dirty STG tricks on top of magical blue bullshit, and worst of all, they look just like a normal salarian. Fuckers can pop out of nowhere and mow down a goddamned battalion before you even have time to scream.
I'm a bit vague on details (because I'm not nearly stupid enough to fight one), but they operate on their own, with only minimal oversight from the STG usually. A few (like Shift) have gone... independent. But the Salarian Union doesn't seem alarmed... which, given how sneaky the grays are, should just worry you more.
(As an aside, Yonis really, really hates these guys.)
It's hard to describe how fast these bastards are, or how quick they can pull of their biotic attacks. They don't have stamina – if the target survives and can hit back, they don't have good armor and they are shit in melee or most gunfights. Unlike Remembrance Dancers, they can't close in and finish you. They don't have the sheer endurance of a Warpriestess or Warlord, or the sheer power of a Glorious.
Tactics? Ha. Like I said, do not engage. If you have to, you can try area-effect anti-biotic weapons, but I doubt you'd get them off in time. Probably the best bet is flood them with mechs and then have a sniper team engage from multiple directions.
That doesn't mean they're not deadly. I've never faced one myself but Anderson did. Based on how he came out (hospitalized) and how the salarian came out (laughing his ass off) I'd call it a solid two, possibly three Aherns.
CREEPS AND WEIRDOS : SHIELDBREAKERS
Salarian Shieldbreakers are super-heavy mechanized infantry in space-capable heavy battle-suits equipped with self-healing armor, strong barriers, and an explosive railgun. The gun (BRKR cannon) is going to go right through the armor of any Alliance unit up to … well, light cruiser. Their battle-suits are far more advanced than anything the Alliance has, and the pilots are genetically modified to be a master of the suit.
They're also sealed into it. They practice all the time, and they're very good at fighting. Shieldbreakers are aggressive units designed to break enemy lines while protecting other salarians. Mini-missiles, plasma flamers, scatter-shot micromines, drones, you name it. The suit itself has cutting blades to use against infantry and a very powerful jump pack.
Tactically, taking these guys out is a pain. High-explosives will do the trick. Anti-tank guns will too. Nothing much else (EMP, mines, rockets, sniper rifles) even penetrates their shield. The problem is surviving the kind of firepower they're putting out to engage in the first place – the BRKR has a range that equals most Alliance tanks, and the suits have mini-GARDIAN systems to take out most light aircraft and gunships.
Threat? A single Shieldbreaker is definitely worth a good five Aherns. I've never directly engaged them myself, but I've run simulations here on Pinnacle. Even when I had time to setup, the results weren't pretty. Our own battle-suits will not – I repeat, not – be able to take one out even with a three-to-one advantage. Keep that in mind.
Overall, I probably have the most experience in fighting the goddamned spikes than anyone else in the Alliance. Turians are very straightforward, they fight to pin you in place then rape you with heavy weapons and drop infantry. Not a lot of tactical variations, but then again, the ones they have were perfected over literally thousands of years, and they work very fucking well.
Turian units have distributed command authority, never break, and only retreat in good order and to prepare for a counter-attack. Their soldiers are stronger and faster than humans, can take a lot more punishment, and their armor and weapons are a good bit better than ours.
Turians practice the Four Movements for their strategic sets - you can look it up online, I'm not the goddamned Common Knowledge Framework. The only thing that I take away from it is that it makes them vulnerable to high-tempo guerilla tactics combined with scorched earth denial tactics, but that isn't always possible to pull off.
Turian commanders aren't known for their creativity, and if you can get them into unconventional situations they're likely to default back to a defensive posture.
PRAETORIANS AND PRAETORS
If you weren't aware, the rank of Praetor is reserved for the most powerful, dangerous and crazy of turians. Praetors are supremely powerful combatants who've trained their whole lives on how to be a badass. They're guarded by a group of senior heavy infantry called Praetorians who emulate the spikey they're guarding.
This is another one for the 'Do Not Engage, Fucking Ever' book. The conventional wisdom is that it's almost impossible to take a Praetor down in single combat, and not much easier even in a full battle. Unlike most spikes, Praetors are likely to be more mentally flexible and willing to take chances and risks other turians wouldn't out of fear of failure. To be one you have to chase down and kill some kind of crazy biotic animal on Palaven, and all other sorts of ridiculous chest-beating testosterone poisoning.
Their fanboys are also seriously bad news, given that they're equipped with top of the line equipment and are training hard to be as powerful as their boss is.
I don't really have a good idea on how to counter them, as no human forces have engaged in combat with them. I did spar with one, the Primarch, once – stupid HANDSHAKE crap dreamed up by the team in charge of OPW. Fedorian was stronger, faster, and way tougher than I was, and while I did manage to last fifteen minutes in hand to hand, it wasn't pretty. I spent two weeks in the hospital after that fight, and needed two ribs and my shinbone replaced since they'd been pulverized. I think he was up and walking around the day after the fight.
Call the Praetor themselves six Aherns, and each of the Praetorians as .5 Aherns.
I hate these assholes. Turian hotshot snipers in SKYTALON battle armor, these fuckers are the turian equivalent of the DACT. Except their suits can fly, not just jump, and they carry a SPEAR minigun that will wreck an MAKO or HAMRHEAD in a few good shots.
The SKYTALON suit is a nasty piece of engineering. Stout enough to bounce almost all small arms fire, the only weapons we use that can take it down are missiles, heavy grenades (probably more than three), and anti-material rifles. Given that they hop around like a grasshopper on crack and usually lay down barrages of minigun fire, getting shots off with the rifles is tricky.
The best tactics I've seen are engaging them with biotics, flak, or determining where they are likely to drop in at and seeding the area with mines. In close a SKYTALON is no joke, they use an omni-axe that will cut a suit of Devastator armor in half, as well as anti-personnel mini-missiles and nano-wire tanglefields.
Threat? A solid 1 Ahern. I've killed six of these things over the years, and every one was a fight I barely survived.
FINAL LINE SOLDIER
The turians have this thing about retreating – they hate it. They hate the idea anything is stronger than them, and they hate running away from a fight. Now a normal species might work on defenses, or tactics to disengage while keeping into the fight. But not the turians.
Instead, they make a special group of soldiers who can't retreat and who will always die to hold the line. The Final Line, as they call it, hence the fucking name.
A Final Line soldier is a full-conversion cyborg that interfaces with a specially designed battle-suit. Most of the time the soldier in question is older, was dying or crippled, and has no living family left. Final Line soldiers never fall back even a single step.
The suits are extremely heavily armored, lots of evil backups and tricks built into each one, and armed with what the AIS weenies tell me is a fucking small-scale mass relay. It projects a beam of accelerated matter to way past lightspeed, coming out as a giant fuck-all cone of explosions, radiation and pain.
Nothing in the Alliance arsenal can take a hit from this weapon – it will go through battlecruiser armor.
Thing is, the turians only deploy these soldiers when they're getting their asses beaten, so while dealing with them is a pain, it does mean the turians are losing badly. The Final Line will hold position as long as possible so the turians can regroup and dig in, and their whole goal is to do as much damage as possible to the enemy before going down.
Tactics? The best tactic is to not play their silly fucking game and bring them down with artillery and biotics. If you can punch through or bypass them, the turians on the other side will not be ready to repel an attacks.
Fighting these things one on one isn't even suicide. I'd easily give it ten Aherns, as I saw one in action during the FCW. Back then, they didn't have their mass relay gun, but they had SPEAR miniguns, which are just as bad, and I saw them shatter an armored column trying to flank them.
CREEPS AND WEIRDOS : MASTER CABALISTS
Turians are strange fuckers. One of my old buddies, guy named Pellham, was actually shacked up with a turian chick before died, and a lot of what I know that I didn't learn from fighting the spikes comes from him. One thing he told me I always found very true was the turians are in love with melodrama.
Their biotics take this to whole new levels, wearing spooky black robes, red face paint, and acting like a pack of magicians. But turian biotics are no joke. Unlike ours, they train heavily in conventional military tactics and are more than capable in a regular fight.
A biotic turian is called a cabalist, and is part of a cabal – twenty four turians, twelve male and twelve female, bonded together in pairs. Out of these twenty four, almost all of them will be dead in twenty or thirty years.
The few who survive are put into more senior groups, and the ones who actually survive a second tour of duty are called Master Cabalists.
These are very bad people to deal with. Tetrimus was a Master Cabalist, and probably the most badass of them, but even the weakest of them would smear an entire coven of Adepts and could probably give a War Priestess the fight of her entire life.
Master Cabalists don't bother with regular armor. Their robes are sewn with packets of eezo to strengthen their barriers, and they use a knock-off version of the asari martial art susano to create kinetic 'plates' of hard barriers to block most weapons. They're well trained, tough, skilled with biotics at all ranges and a nightmare in CQB because they can cover their claws in warpfire.
Master Cabalists are truly dangerous because of their combined arms skills. They can use sniper rifles and assault rifles just as good as any other soldier, and many of them are snipers themselves. Almost all of them have camo-cloaks and they load themselves down with anti-biotic gear to take out other races biotics. Most of them have heavy blueware as well, meaning not only can the bastard fry you with warp or fling you off a cliff, but in close can kill you with a punch and take a direct hit from a LMG.
It's not worth fighting these bastards, because Master Cabalists are usually in charge of a strike team of lesser biotics, so you're going to be facing a dozen or more biotics and they're very good at teamwork and counterstriking. Tactics against them are pretty limited – they know how to fight without biotics, most of them tend to strike from stealth and flanking positions, and all of them are elites.
In the FCW we didn't fight these freaks until almost the end, and they tore through our ranks. Heavy explosives, mines, poison gas, and jury rigged shrapnel traps can wear them down faster. Artillery took out several once, if you can pin down a position and make sure they don't move.
I've seen footage of a rogue Master Cabalist fighting an asari war priestess, and it looked like some shit from a movie. Easily a good eight Aherns.