STG Field Manual
Subfile AYT-004 : Alien Interaction with other restricted races (drell, vorcha)
Prepared by Master Agent Unai, exploration specialist
Compiled by Master Field Agent Kossi, Executive Agent SOLUTHUS, Senior Agent Soril, Senior Agent Dagama, Master Agent Kolar (retired), and Master Agent Unai (retired)
This is a Virshan-Orange file. Distribution is for senior (non-FCA/non-FAC) agents and specialists only.
An opening statement
I am Master Field Agent Unai. I am no longer active duty STG, I advise the SIX and the RRC on STG initiatives for the most part. I am, I suppose, a curious choice for writing any part of the doctrine that will guide a new generation of agents as they safeguard the future of the salarian people.
In short, I am retired because my recommendations were not seen as fitting with the goals of the STG when they were made. I am hardly the only agent this has happened to – the vitriol of Vessi and the tired sarcasm of old Kolar are more of the same. Vessi is vitriolic because he has suffered personally due to STG Masters and Master Agents not heeding his words. Kolar is sarcastic and tired because he has seen the patterns that lead to failures repeat themselves without the Group as a whole ever learning the lesson.
Perhaps that is the nature of wisdom. All of us have had ideas, concepts, or recommendations that were ignored – and then, when we turned out to be right, had our contributions continued to be ignored and our recommendations taken advantage of without apology or remuneration. It is not wisdom to be 'right' – even a malfunctioning and broken time-measure is correct once a day. It is not wisdom to anticipate an action before it comes to fruition – any fool knows lighting a fuse will set it to burning.
Wisdom is in knowing how to phrase what you know, what you are seeing, what your experience tells you in a fashion from which not only do others benefit but grasp how you were able to do so – and use it to improve themselves. In that light, I suppose allowing me to write this and teach the next generation is a form of apology and acknowledgment.
No matter. If I have learned anything in my long years, it is that clinging to disappointment, betrayal or loss only magnifies and deepens the damage it does to you and your very psyche.
Do not let bitter emotion or old grudges stand in the way of performing the special task we have all given our lives to undertake. It does not matter if you are cast aside, or feted and honored. We are fleeting as smoke on the wind, but the salarian people and their future is forever as long as we maintain our focus.
You could even argue you should never let such things darken your outlook. If the Wheel carries you to a new place to stand, you should walk forward, not retrace your steps – the latter will only have you repeat your sorrow and loss, for a circle has no end or beginning. Find a new path, and walk it with the lessons you have learned instead.
In a way, the races I have been given are perfect examples of that. Both the drell and the vorcha are often overlooked and ignored, seen as the fish-lures of more powerful and dangerous forces. One is dismissed as being so utterly mercenary that they will sell themselves to both sides of a conflict and kill each other without hesitance, and the other are seen as barbaric sub-sapients with no culture or redeeming value.
Yet both, I suspect, were simply a victim of internal collapses that were cruelly and competently taken advantage of. Both also fell victim to clinging to what they lost or what broke them rather than setting a new path for themselves, and now both are trapped in the wake of larger forces. That does not mean, however, that they should be ignored, or looked down on.
For as the humans taught the turians, the wild animal is the most dangerous when cornered and with no route of flight.
Alien Relations and Interpretations
Ask three sophonts their opinions on the drell, and you will get three flavors of the same answer: hanar slave-soldiers, or immoral and uncaring mercenaries. Ask the same three of their insight into the vorcha and you will get three versions of disgusted disdain.
One rule of observation I have noted over the years is that the more widely disparate groups with no shared backgrounds share nearly identical views on something, the more likely it is that said view is a function of lack of knowledge rather than intelligent perception. While logic would seem to suggest the inverse, the truth is simpler. As the saying in siari goes, nothing exists in a vacuum except nothing.
The drell's ambient persona was a function of the losses to them in the Refusal Wars (and in the Refusal itself, though few remember any details). They were mysterious and terrifying ghosts, appearing inside warships as if by magic, red-robed nightmares slaughtering all around them before suiciding in horrific anti-matter explosions with shouts of devotion to their gods.
The discovery of Rakhana only made the image more pitiable and unclean, the ragged and savage tribes engaged in brutal warfare on the ruined hell-world made unfathomably vile by knowledge of their history. Genetic modification, multiple racial genocides, thousands of years of endless war over religious trivialities – all of it made the drell as to be either bloodthirsty savages or murdering lunatics, and possibly both.
The reality, of course, was much different – but the drell embraced this false presentation. They are a race who sees bare truth as both dangerous and complex, and are masters of letting their enemies demoralize themselves. The drell who serve the hanar body and soul could care less of the thoughts of non-hanar, and the mercenary drell who sell themselves to the highest bidder see such a dark reputation as a business asset.
I will not overstate that some of the perception of the drell is indeed accurate, but their masters the hanar are – as we learned to our sorrow – very good at presenting themselves as weak, drifty and helpless when they are anything but. The drell no doubt followed this ideal.
The vorcha, on the other hand, are more victims of circumstance than any dark plans or conscious work. Their home was a planet of violent weather, toxic landscapes, polluted plains warped by endless hellstorms. The vorcha evolved to endure and survive regardless of the cost, and their society had no time for the weak frivolities the rest of the civilized galaxy wastes its time on. There are those who decry their primitive art, their lack of philosophy and high technology, their simple-minded nature and fascination with fire, and their very lack of real racial ambition – without realizing how stupid expecting such things must be.
How impressive would the salarians be, I wonder, if some other alien had surveyed us in the days of prehistory when we speared fish and ate rotten carcasses, slinking along mudbanks and building heaps of dirt and leaves as homes? The vorcha are unfortunate enough to be caste into the limelight of interstellar attention when they were in the middle of their Bronze Age – hardly their fault.
And yet people overlook the innate stability of vorcha. Their Bosses are fearfully intelligent, almost anomalously so, capable of mastering alien languages in weeks and unifying their warbands via not only charisma and physical power but inspiration and instruction.
More than that though, the vorcha are – in my opinion, which many disagree with – potential incarnate. They are a young enough species that they can be shaped to fit any political or social-economic strata. Despite being an emotional people overall, they do not care about doctrines or causes or sentimental baggage that weighs down the humans and quarians, while they are free of the innate arrogance of our own people, the brutalistic unity of the turians and the social corruption of the asari.
Vorcha work hard, do not betray one another, rarely if ever lie (although they understand the concept just fine), do not fear death and see honor as stupid. Like salarians, they see morality as mostly a function of how others perceive it, not an innate value. And while they are certainly ignorant and superstitious about a great many things, they do not cling to such – with the exception of fire, once something is explained to them as mundane, they place no special value on it, unlike many other races I could name.
How does any of this apply to you, an agent of the STG? Good question.
Drell and vorcha have the somewhat unique property of being noticeable yet overlooked. No one who sees a mercenary drell impatiently waiting for the person he is guarding to finish chatting will think much of him, or of a small group of vorcha in work clothes trundling after a volus. Even on the wildest planets, the sight of some batarian, turian or krogan with vorcha sidekicks won't draw a single inhalation, and a drell can fit in almost anywhere. (Exception: Systems Alliance territory.)
This makes them almost foolproof couriers, delivery drops, people to pass orders to other agents, secondary support personnel or even distractions. Even better, they are absolutely perfect when you want to conduct surveillance or scouting on a target or location – even if they are detected, "everyone" knows salarians despise vorcha as primitives and drell as sellouts.
Keep this rule in mind: use the enemy's assumptions against them, and always turn biases of your own into errors for those who assume.
Secondly, the vorcha as a whole are being heavily invested in by the volus, who are never known for making bad or poorly researched investments. The volus saw something in the vorcha we overlooked, and I do not wish to wait for them to spring such a surprise on us before sounding out the dangers. Utilizing vorcha in dangerous STG ops as disposable assets, distractions, or as I mentioned above, covert observation units, also allows us to assess and measure.
Alien Interaction Guidelines : Drell and Vorcha
(This file only covers drell and vorcha. Asari and turians are in AYT-001, humans and quarians can be found in subfile AYT-002, and volus and batarians are in AYT-004.)
Amusingly, drell and vorcha follow many of the same rules of engagement, although they are nothing alike socially, mentally, or culturally. I would listen carefully to Koral's admonishment about stereotypes and assumptions, as there are vorcha who conceal a frightfully sharp intellect behind hissing words and broken language, and drell who see their contract as not something to be sold but a near-religious duty that cannot be broken by mere money.
The common points are as follows:
First, both vorcha and drell admire endurance, be that of physical hardship, mental trauma, emotional harm or merely ability to fight past pain and loss. To the drell, it is a measure of one's understanding of themselves – or as the saying they have goes, "To experience pain is to understand the nuance, to be free of such is only knowing half the tale". Vorcha, on the other hand, believe endurance is a mark of willpower and tenacity, as the Bosses are famous due to their ability to adapt more than once and to endure almost impossible levels of pain without showing any distress.
Second, both vorcha and drell define themselves as observers – for drell, as eternal outsiders watching a dance they can follow but not join, and for vorcha, as waiting for a time to sleep without dreaming, to end their physical lives for a spiritual one in a non-religious sense. Both cultures believe most of our actions are merely the impulses and instincts of 'meat bodies' and that the spirit or soul (the term is particularly unclear in the vorcha wording, 'inner fire') is matured or educated by suffering and tribulation. As observers they have no staked interest in anything the Citadel Races value, be that influence, power, or our culture.
Finally, both drell and vorcha have an instinct to defer and follow more powerful beings. While vorcha Bosses are indeed incredible leaders they are also clever enough and wise enough to grasp there is more to be had in following the Citadel Races and doing work for them than demanding to be measured on an equal basis. The drell, amusingly enough, have the view that their civilization destroyed itself and proved so unwise that they should not and cannot be allowed to govern themselves, even in many cases on a personal level.
For the drell, given their eidetic memory and powerful emotional states, this is perhaps wise.
When dealing with drell, a few points should be kept uppermost in mind and in action.
Drell strive for dignity and gravitas – rarely, if ever, are they free-spirited or prone to frivolities, at least in public or with those they do not trust. The more polite and professionally they are treated, the more they are likely to listen to your words.
Additionally, drell are not adventuresome in most cases. It takes some time to earn both their trust and their interest, and this is best achieved by showing dependability. A drell who has worked with a given employer for a decade and never had any reason to complain will be much more warm, friendly and trusting. Earning the gratitude of a drell is akin to the life-oaths among the krogan – a bond that does not sever unless one of the bonders dies.
Drell, however, are complicated persons who live in a society that states one's body is a sinful object that drives actions and complications to distract and corrupt the soul. Drell adhere to this in a varying amount of ways : some drell (particularly independents) judge themselves and focus mostly on staying neutral and professional. Others, the more risk-taking ones found with alien spouses or working directly for aliens and not the hanar, are more relaxed about it in general but tend to fixate very hard on one or two aspects of such corruption.
ALWAYS seek to understand what a given drell sees as distasteful in transactions and what they avoid in their personal lives. For many, you can actually ask them directly if you are engaging them in a contract for hire, and they will appreciate the courtesy of you asking. Others are more closely held and if that seems to be the case, statements that they should notify you or stop an action if it distresses them will be warmly agreed to.
Drell are not romantic or highly sexual beings. They despise games of chance, prefer poetic and artistic contemplation, are neat and tidy by nature and are not given to expressions of the strong emotions they feel. Humans call them 'stoic' and asari call them 'ansiaric', which are Collapse-be-damned opposites yet somehow both fit. They see enduring hardship as a badge of pride and maturity, but at the same time they evince no loyalties to one another simply because they are the same race.
Drell will treasure a long-lasting friend who is an alien far more than just another random drell. They have no sense of racial pride or unity and – this is crucial – absolutely NO instinct to sacrifice for the race, or even their nation. While they are protective of family members, such is only true really of siblings towards each other and females towards younglings.
Keep in mind that drell are not scaly salarians. Despite seeming much like us in features, they don't prize or care about logic, induction, or intellect. They are often reflective on old memories, sometimes so far as to lose themselves in them, and as a result see everything as a waking dream. They don't care about dominance or threats, and in fact the concept of threat is exciting to them, not a source of dread.
Older drell are more given to introspection than younger ones, and are much harder to read and interpret. Never forget they are ALL eidetic when it comes to memory and that they will remember every nuance of expression, tone of voice, and exactly what you say or did not say at a later date – and that Citadel Law recognizes asari link imprints of a drell's memory as legally binding evidence.
Standard considerations for drell:
Always assume that a drell is a self-defined unit. Drell rarely if ever bond together outside of the Remembrance Dancers, family units, or military groups. Drell do not pay attention to 'trends' and disdain the very concept of following another out of any reason but a fair exchange.
Drell admire those who can express themselves in a concise, dignified fashion. Militarism, crude language, or lack of preparation and intelligence are seen as reckless or foolish, while attempting to play on emotional stakes, guilt or common causes is seen as childish and insulting. Treat drell as you would the elderboy who advises the dalatrass and you will have the right mindset.
Drell are physically terrifying. They are far stronger than their slight frames would suggest, nearly as strong as turians, but extremely fast and agile – almost as agile we are. Furthermore, drell are tougher than salarians – even in a straight fight, they will more often than not be more than a match.
Drell do not like damp, wet environments and despise the smell of oceans. I have found hosting them in air-exchange rooms, life support rooms, or rooms equipped with dehumidifiers puts them at ease on an unconscious level, while damp rooms make them irritable and nervous.
For the most part, vorcha are... elemental. They admire simple things, they pursue simple goals, they evince simple but powerful emotions and lead mostly simple lives. That, ironically, does not make them simple to understand, much less manipulate.
Vorcha are pack creatures, who are inclined to stick with a pack they know from youth. This is not usually blood relations – vorcha are birthed in piles among multiple mothers and raised communally. This sort of environment builds a subtle but potent sense of bonds between vorcha who know each other a long time, and they do not – ever, in more than sixty years of observation – break such bonds to betray one another.
That does not mean that bond-sibs will not murder one another in a moment of passion, but they do not plot against each other for money or mates or things of that nature.
Vorcha see the greater galactic society as something akin to a selection of Bosses. In vorcha culture, each vorcha must determine what Boss to follow, based on the Boss's physical power, charisma, ability to induce both fear and bravery, and most of all what the Boss demonstrates as his 'fire'.
'Fire' (a very repetitive concept in the vorcha language) in this instance stands for a mix of goals, ability to endure hardship, and interest. The vorcha see the 'fire' of the volus, for example, as 'fire-that-consumes-the-unmet-needs', while the fire of the krogan is 'fire-that-heats-the-blood-and-laughs-at-sleep-without-dreams'.
Vorcha have extremely convoluted methods for determining the type of 'fire' that interests or excites them, and follow accordingly. It is often easiest to manipulate large amounts of vorcha by focusing on the Bosses, but keep in mind Bosses are not only much smarter than the average vorcha but clever in social dealings and surprisingly swift to sniff out betrayal.
When dealing with vorcha, speak simply and with force. Do not rely on concepts such as subterfuge or attempt to mislead, simply state what you want and why you want it. Vorcha will either name a price to follow along or, if interested enough, ask how they can gain such 'fire' for themselves.
Vorcha have no real need for money – they use their own teeth and horns as money among their own kind, while 'civilized' vorcha all have free-to-use accounts with the Volus Central Bank of Irune. That being said, vorcha adore weapons, thick armor, paints, decorative items and exotic forms of meat, and will use money to obtain such things as the whim strikes them.
Vorcha do not understand the idea of 'spying' but phrasing requests in terms of hunting works very well. Vorcha are actually very good at being quiet and unobtrusive when they want to, and have a complicated non-verbal communication language involving slaps, hand gestures and lip movements that allow them to communicate unbeknownst to people watching.
Vorcha hate weakness of any kind, but their idea of weakness is 'weakness of fire'. Someone who believes strongly in their goal and is willing to sacrifice anything to obtain it are highly admired, while a strong and powerful person with no real sense of purpose would be seen as a weak fool. Goals that focus on large groups, national levels or racial identity confuses the vorcha.
There is more I could say, but I have found that the vorcha are curiously polymorphic in how they react as well as what impresses them. Having rules of horn on hand to quickly deal with aliens is always a good practice, but with vorcha improvisation and creativity are more important than rote memorizing the best ways to talk at them.
Standard considerations for vorcha:
Do not treat Bosses the same as you would regular vorcha – treat them with a level of deference mixed with a clear display that you are also strong and wise. Bosses can smell some emotional states from krogan and asari (and possibly humans) – it is not out of the bounds of logic to assume we are the same. Applying fashion-scent, asari siaja or human cologne will throw this off (and is hilarious to watch them try to figure out.)
All vorcha will listen respectfully if you offer them meat and water as a token of appreciation for their time. The meat must always be uncooked – vorcha eat cooked meats only if they were roasted over a fire they themselves used. A sealed slice of prime Jakani Sixstep will suffice. Vorcha do not like alcoholic drinks but are fans of asari sheerwater, batarian scent tea, and human lemonade. (The latter is appallingly caustic and will cause chemical burns if you drink it!)
Vorcha are respectful of storytellers and shaman – engaging the services of krogan wayspeakers or shaman will usually allow you to win the attention of many vorcha if the krogan in question is presented as an elder of wisdom and not a warleader.
Vorcha and drell are useful tools. Never forget, however, that such tools are also living, thinking beings, with families, dreams, and ambitions of their own. Too many arrogant agents have sacrificed mercenary agents or duped victims, only to fall at the hands of enraged relatives – or worse, a Remembrance Dancer in the case of drell.
Utilized properly and with respect (which costs nothing but time and to lose some of your ego, hardly a bad thing) vorcha and drell can be devastating and unseen weapons that leave our enemies seeking a foe that doesn't exist. Keep in mind my points on how you and your ideas may be ignored, then used without apology, and fixate on how that feels, on how it angers you and dishonors your dalatrasses.
Now realize that misusing the vorcha and drell inflicts the very same thing upon them. We have no need to sink to that level, leave it for the batarians and the asari.
Respect and politeness cost less than revenge from unhappy relatives.