A/N: The next Cerberus file is unique in that it will be mostly written by other authors, those in the Editing Gang. This is for two reasons. First, any cultural anthropologist will tell you that when researching and cross-referencing cultural states or history, we all have biases. While I crafted the very basic outlines of these two races, I feel it's best if I don't fill in the fine details to prevent my biases from making them too similar – i.e., fucked up – as other races in the Premiseverse. The volus, elcor, and yahg are all *very strange* by our lights… but UNLIKE the other races in the PV, they are not cruel, corrupt, or obsessed with supremacy, racial cleansing, or nobility.

The second reason is that many of my contributors (Jacob, nogoodnms, mrosera) are excellent writers, while others (ArielFetters, Shalum) are authors of note on the scene in their own right, and I'd like very much to have those talents seen by as wide an audience as possible.

While the volus probably seem at first to be hard to wrap your mind around, that is by intent – they are *alien*. The elcor are even more alien and the yahg have almost nothing in common with humanity at all, not even most emotional states fit. Yahg fear is what we would consider anger, yahg anger is what we could call, I suppose, disdain or dismissal, and yahg joy is such a strange concept that the closest best fit is something like a sociopath's release during violence.

That does not make them evil. Merely different.

The Cerberus Files : Secondary Races



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I am not sure if this is your idea of humor or if you are attempting to, perhaps, give Doctor Minsta an aneurysm, but either reason is in very poor taste.

Galen Minsta dislikes asari for a number of good reasons that stem from emotional distress, professional affront, racist pride, and intellectual rigor. He and I have come to something of a détente in regards to his views. While most of what he believes is either warped or simply wrong, the reasons behind him holding such beliefs can be traced back to the Thirty, and thus I see no reason to correct him.

An asari stole his wife, an asari ruined his intellectual career, an asari bankrupted his company producing a much superior product through financial trickery. I can safely say the good doctor has a potent array of emotional, but rational, reasons to hate my people.

His daughter, on the other hand, hates asari viscerally because one took her mother from her. I cannot argue with that. I cannot reason around it. She simply sees all asari as threat, as invader, as outrage.

I can reason with Galen. I can debate him, I can engage him intellectually, I can fence logic with him until he retires in disarray, because at the end of the day, he is a scientist, a historian, an intellectual. He values consensus only when it is based on facts and hard truth, but he does not, I believe, lie to himself.

Tiffany Minsta is a spoiled child. She is blessed with high intellectual capacity and an excellent, if… eccentric, education, backstopped with wealth and the privilege only a child of the Lords of Sol could achieve in your species. This blinds her not only to her own limits and failings, but the very idea that anyone not of her social station could provide such a thing.

For all of that, she hates me for illogical, irrational, and frankly immature reasons and it is not possible for me to take her 'in hand' as I did with Ms. Lawson. Miranda is just as spoiled and blind as Tiffany, and hates me for different, if equally illogical, reasons, but she also despises and questions herself. Tiffany does not question herself, she assumes.

She cannot match me intellectually, as I was her better when her ancestors were tenant farmers. She cannot match me martially or physically – she is a child, I am a matriarch and a war priestess. She cannot match me economically – I ran a galaxy-wide shipping concern with hundreds of millions of credits worth of contracts. She cannot even match me socially – her tiny collection of peerage friends is no match for rubbing shoulders with Matriarch T'Armal or being feted by the Palavanus on their own private moon.

She cannot even match my hate for the asari, as she only hates because of what was taken from her by the choice of her mother, not by criminal assassination and the oblivation of the future of millions of clanless.

Teaching her how to become useful to Cerberus is a waste of time, beloved. She will not listen, and my patience does not extend to children too ignorant to heed their betters.



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You want me to what?

Bossman. For serious.

I don't like the doc. Past year and a half ain't changed that. I don't give a fuck how useful his House is or any of that dog and pony shit, the man's a poof. Don't mean that sexual-like, I mean he ain't got the spine for the hard shit.

His little girl? Running in the Dog? Get the fuck outta here. STG catches that bitch they'll split her fucking head wide open like a pack of turians on a shantha. She's not in it because she saw her fucking family get waxed by spikes, she ain't in it because she had to lose everything she had and have her spouse cheat on her, she ain't in it because she had been double-crossed by the Broker and left to die in an icy gravel pit.

She's in it because momma ran off with some blue tits and that pisses her off.

That's not good enough, sir. Due respect and all that shit. Taylor and I had a talk, black man to black man, and he said something I like – he works for you because you ain't full of shit. We know where things lay with each other.

Only reason you need a bird like that in the Dog is you plan on doing something with the Lords, and we had that discussion a while back.

Ain't doing it.



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Jack, are you drunk?



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I was not aware you engaged in practical jokes, sir.

I will put this plainly. I neither have the patience nor nerve for immature young women. If you intend on me 'training' her to be of use, there is a very high chance she will end up with a slit throat.

I do not think it is advantageous to the organization to go down that route at this time.

Although, if this is an occulted request to have her quietly disposed of, I can do that.

Jack Harper stared quietly at the form of Galen Minsta, watching the man read through various reports on his omni-tool, and dumped the ashes from his cigarette into the ashtray built into the arm of his chair. "As you can see, most of my senior operatives are less than enthused by the concept."

The silvering hair of the doctor bobbed slightly as he nodded, clicking off the omni-tool. "Yes, I can see that." His voice was dry. "Kai Leng, in particular."

The doctor sighed. "She is… not entirely what I would wish. Perhaps with good reason. I was… not always available for Tiffany when she was younger. The loss of Merissa, the collapse of… everything, left me in a poor state. Her aunt – my sister – did what she could, but Chelise was not the sort of influence I should have allowed in her life."

Jack sipped at his drink, frowning as a drop of condensation splattered over his slacks. "Very few people who have had the chance to raise a child can say they did so without mistakes, in judgment or in other matters. That strays from the point I wish to make. Your daughter is talented, I will not deny that. She is skilled in a wide array of fields."

Galen's dark eyes met his own, the good looks blurred by his own glass of Scotch and fatigue. "I know, Mr. Harper. But skills alone are not enough, are they?"

The Illusive Man exhaled. "You never clearly explained why you wished her to join…" He trailed off expectantly, and Minsta gave a sharp bark of laughter.

"I didn't, did I?" The erudite voice turned almost playful, as he sipped his own drink. "I suppose it is a number of things, sir. I know you plan to have Miranda take your place once your various plans – and those of your… of the Matriarch… come to some level of fruition. I believe the organization needs someone who is more flexible than a mere combat operator in place."

Jack arched an eyebrow. "You speak of your own role in my various plans?"

Galen nodded. "Indeed. I am your window into the Lords of Sol. I am a window into the upper crust investment groups, into the intellectual and educational community, into the tight-knit group of diplomatic contacts that bridge Vancouver and 660 Citadel Tower. I am a scientist, I am a historian, I am a medical and biological doctor, I am a…" He paused. " 'Renaissance man' sounds as if I am assigning myself airs. 'Didact' has the taste of someone whose opinion of himself outstrips his ability. 'Polymath' is better applied in clinical terms."

Jack inhaled and blew out smoke. "Your value to me is none of those things, although all of them are undeniably useful. You are a microcosm of how the High Lords, the wealthy, the intellectuals think and perceive the galaxy. You are sure enough in your own way of being correct that I have to stop and examine why you are wrong before I decide that you are indeed wrong… or that, in some cases, my biases are not the same as yours, but are no less crippling." He stubbed out the cigarette. "Tiffany does not seem to offer that level of depth to her thinking or actions."

Galen folded his arms. "I understand entirely, sir. That being said, I think she simply needs more time to deliver on her ability."

Harper shrugged. "Revenant is far too important to assign her to it. I know – having Shepard with a handler in the Lords of Sol would greatly simplify matters. But Shepard is going to be handled… very carefully. We can't afford loose cannons."

The doctor sighed. "Leaving her to the influence of Miranda and Kelly. I'd almost rather Rasa and Brooks run her."

Harper paused before taking a sip of Wild Turkey. It would never do to choke, after all. "That is a rather strong statement to make, doctor."

Galen's folded arms hunched in a bitter shrug. "Miranda is damaged, Mr. Harper. I am not being insulting. But it's clear she's fallen out with Mr. Taylor, who strikes me as the kind of man who does not simply give up unless there is nothing left to achieve. I have already told you Ms. Chambers is a mental case with severe trauma from what she went through and is simply enough of a master-class psychologist to cover it up." He turned to face Harper fully. "If they break, we lose all control over Shepard."

Jack smiled. "I don't think we have control over Shepard in the first place, doctor. Control isn't what I need, anyway. I need cooperation… sympathy… and eventually, fatigue. I want Shepard to get tired of banging her head against the stupidity of the Council and the Systems Alliance and decide I'm the best of a bad lot… and for that, Miranda's vulnerability and Kelly's less than stable nature work perfectly."

He finished his drink. "I've also arraigned, in the proper time, for Shepard to be exposed to a young woman much like her, down to the background and certain, shall we say, deviances in the bedroom. Lonely, stressed, and out of options, Shepard will be emotionally compromised enough that she will listen to me, as long as the framework of her surroundings is … empathetic. Understanding." His smiled thinned. "Flawed and yet compassionate."

Minsta stared at him for long minutes, then nodded. "I… see. Tiffany would be a poor fit for that role."

Harper nodded, pleased internally. He had not expected Minsta to give way so easily. His mind thought on that for a moment, then he smiled. "That being said, she will have a place at the appropriate time. Given some of the reactions Miranda has had recently, and the non-zero chance of some kind of accident or misfortune, your words on a line of succession are taken well into point."

Manicured fingers tapped a control on the chair. "I suggest a different focus. Given the deep cover assignment for Brooks, Rasa is… isolated. She can be paired with your daughter for this operation."

Galen turned to glance at the hovering images on the large viewscreen behind him. "…More file workups on aliens? Why?"

Jack Harper sighed. "The purpose of this gathering of information is a baseline. It is not for one person, but I think having Shepard see things from our perspective will be of great use to us. This also plays to Tiffany's strengths. Vol Space is safe. Elcor Space is safe. The next likely species to be accepted into the Citadel, depending on how fast they advance, are the yahg – hardly safe, but she can't get close to them anyway." He exhaled. "A commendable job here would ameliorate the objections from some parties that she doesn't fit. And then other options can be examined."

Galen nodded sourly. "She won't like this, you know. And I'm not sure I'm comfortable with having her exposed to Rasa."

Harper shrugged. "Rasa is a known factor. She has no objections… and is only dangerous to women with dark hair and dark complexions, neither of which is possessed by Tiffany. Furthermore, I'm thinking they don't need to operate in physical space, only working together remotely. Rasa is an excellent teacher, as far as her arts go."

Minsta shuddered. "God help me, if it came to that I'd rather have the fucking asari do it."

Harper managed to suppress a smile at that. "Vol Prime has a number of fascinating museums and other places of interest. I'll expect at least a status report from her within a month of her arrival there."

The doctor met his gaze again, then nodded curtly. "I'll let her know. She'll be very pleased. Despite her abruptness at times, Mr. Harper, she truly does look up to you."

He exited the Observatorium, and Harper gave a sad smile. "That only proves Trellani's point, my good doctor." With a shake of his head, he tapped his comm-link. "Ezno."

The hard bass voice of his Security Chief answered. "Yes, sir."

"Security workup, Tiffany Minsta. I need a pair of solid Centurion teams as cold-wipe backups. I don't need her getting killed out there; she's going into Volus and Elcor Space on fact-finding."

Ezno's voice carried a faint note of amusement. "I'll have the teams hot in six hours. I'll do a walkthrough of her ship myself. Who is her shadow?"

Harper kept his voice level. "Rasa."

There was silence on the line, then soft, amused laughter. "You are a delight to work for, sir. I'll TTL you when I'm done."

He clicked off and nodded. "Now, let's see if the volus take a nibble."

A/N: 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. Galen Minsta, a brilliant doctor, historian, psychologist, and economic guru

-Tiffany Minsta, Galen's talented and snobbish daughter

-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 Ascension Protocol Level III Collector captured by Cerberus

This part of this work is a review of the volus, elcor, and yahg.