Turian Embassy, Citadel, [sic; translate] 2085

Asari reporter: "Ambassador Vellick, thank you for agreeing with this interview, I understand that with all that has happened over the past couple of months you must be quite busy."

Ambassador Vellick: "Not a problem. I believe it's important to keep the galactic community informed over the events of the Relay 314 Incident."

Asari Reporter: "Yes, the incident has caused quite a stir in the galactic community. Many people believe that the actions of the Turian Hierarchy was aggressive and ill-conceived. How do you respond to such claims?"

Ambassador Vellick: "I admit that the actions taken perhaps weren't the best way to handle the situation. But it's important to remember that what we know now and what we knew then are vastly different. It's easy to look back and point out mistakes that were made, but military commanders don't have the luxury of time. As the Citadel's peacekeeping forces, it is the responsibility of the Turian Hierarchy to protect Council Space and carry out its decisions with the full force of the law. Blindly activating Mass Relays is forbidden for a reason. The reckless actions of these humans put us all in grave danger, and the Turian patrols that discovered these dangerous actions acted in full accordance with the law. I would remind those detractors of what happened the last time Mass Relays were blindly activated. It caused a three century long war that nearly wiped out the Council."

Asari Reporter: "But Ambassador, the humans couldn't have known of these laws. Stopping the activation of Relay 314 aside, wasn't an invasion of one of their colonies a grievous amount of excessive force?"

Ambassador Vellick: "As I said, we had no idea what we were dealing with at the time. After our peacekeeping forces successfully stopped the activation of 314, the humans sent in war ships and ruthlessly destroyed most of the patrol ships. The last thing we wanted was a young and irresponsible species sending in military crafts through Citadel Space, so it was decided that the best way to prevent that was to pacify their closest colony world."

Asari Reporter: "From what I understand many in the Hierarchy were surprised that such a young race was able to not only actively resist the invasion of their colony Shanxi, but eventually managed to push the Turians out of their system. Is the Hierarchy concerned about any future confrontations with the humans?"

Ambassador Vellick: "The humans had the advantage of being in their own territory, and the peacekeeping fleet was facing logistical problems of its own. Yes, mistakes were made and poor decisions were implemented on Shanxi, I'll admit that. The human's reinforcement fleets managed to take the peacekeeping forces by surprise. But that was due in large part to the commanding officer not taking necessary precaution. The humans have only known about element zero for 28 years, and they've known FTL flight for even less. And as a race they are still highly divided beyond what any of our races have ever known. Our ancestors defeated the Rachni and saved the galaxy from the Krogan Horde while these humans were living in mud huts. I hardly think they pose a threat to us."

Asari Reporter: "Still, as Professor Malleon noted, the humans have progressed extremely quickly for a species of society of their age. The Hierarchy isn't concerned that such rapid development could continue and eventually match Citadel technology?"

Ambassador Vellick: "Yes, you're right. We should go out of our way to dispose of our fleets and treat them kindly. After all, they may not like us, and we only outnumber them a thousand to one."

The Asari reporter and Ambassador shared a laugh on camera, as did millions of beings who were watching the interview on vid screens.

Thirty years later that statement didn't seem so funny.

2018: The United States becomes the first nation to equip a space vessel with a practical Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket engine (VASIMR). Nicknamed the 'Ion Engine', the VASIMR engine utilized radio waves to ionize and heat a propellant and magnetic fields to accelerate the resulting plasma to generate thrust. Although the concept of the VASIMR engine was nearly two decade old, it was stunted because there was no long term viable energy source to power it in deep space. This changed when NASA developed a VASIMR engine capable of running off miniaturized nuclear power generators allowing for a near limitless power supply. The US faced much criticism for using nuclear generators in space - for fear that if a space shuttle were to explode in the atmosphere, radiation would drift thousands of miles on the planet. However, specific cautions were made to ensure that even if a shuttle was destroyed during its assent into space, the generators would remain inert, only activating when in safe distance from Earth. The criticism quickly dwindled as the VASIMR Program turned into a stunning success. The engines allowed for speeds vastly superior than traditional rocket based propulsion, capable of travelling on average about 3 million miles per day at top speeds. A trip to the moon would now take only 3 – 4 hours (taken into account acceleration and deceleration time). And at closest range to Earth a trip to Mars would take only 43 days. Other space capable nations quickly followed suit, producing and engineering their own versions of the VASIMR engine.

2020: The European Union and the Russian Federation begin producing their own space vessels with VASMIR technology, followed by the Chinese Republic soon thereafter. Because traveling to the moon was no longer an economical strain, many more lunar missions were implemented. On august 3, 2020, NASA and the European Space Agency constructed a permanent observation post on the moon.

2022 – 2025: The Mars Initiative begins - a unified effort by the major space capable nations to put a human on Mars. The combined capabilities of American, European Union, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian space agencies set out not only to put a human on the red planet but set up research labs and an orbital station. On January 27, 2025, Elizabeth Hunter becomes the first human to step foot on Mars.

Six flags were planted on the surface of Mars – the five flags of each nation enclosed in a pentagon – with the United Nations flag in the center. Three Research labs were made from large, airtight inflatable tent domes, and the old international space station – which had been re-modified and refitted with VASIMR technology, now rested in orbit above Mars.

2031: With the Europeans unified with their space competition against other major powers, the European member nations sign the 'Unified Euro Accord' officially becoming one sovereign state. The many nations were now considered 'states', much like the United States system. The capital of the European Union is Geneva, which was now considered a neutral district, independent of Switzerland.

2035: The first Lunar colony is established. The colony of Scutum started out as an industrial complex by the Eldeff Ashland Corporation for mining lunar minerals - particularly lunar aluminums' and glasses which could be made into composites. These two materials proved to be highly profitable, and thus the 'Lunar Rush' began, where mining companies both large and small from various nations on Earth came streaking in, hoping to reap in the profits of the new market. The colony quickly expanded into a dozen closely grouped craters that were domed-over. These domes allowed localized terra-forming inside the craters and had perfect earth-like atmospheres. Each of the crater domes were linked by rail transits that travelled both above and below the surface.

A major diplomatic crises nearly lead to armed conflict over which nation Scutum belonged to. The United States, Russian Federation, and Sahara Republic claimed Scutum for themselves. While the US was the first to begin colonization, a heavy drive by both Russia and the many African states of the Sarah Republic ensured that they had a population advantage. The population of Scutum was 21% American, 28% Saharan and 35% Russian - with other nations making up the rest. The bickering nations took in little consideration for the colonists themselves, many of whom merely wanted to be left alone from Earths major powers. The crises was eventually resolved with the signing of the Colonial Lunar Agreement, which stated that Scutum would become an independent state under the United Nations, while U.N. Peacekeeping forces would provide security. This agreement came just as both the US and Russia was preparing to move in military forces to Luna. The Scutum Crises ended without bloodshed. Given how close the situation came to military intervention, the various space capable powers began creating and designing military space vessels.

2038: The first American colony on Mars is established. Although Liberty only composed of a few thousand colonists in underground structures, it is significant as being the first colony on a terrestrial world. As the colony quickly began to grow the US initially only allowed Americans to move in – not wanting to repeat the events that led to the Scutum crises. However, eventually agreements were made to allow Canadian and Mexican civilians to immigrate to Liberty.

2039: The United Nations pass the Mars Terraforming Act.

2043: The Brazil/Argentina War over oil reserves engulfs South America. Although the Superpower nations were quickly doing away with fossil fuels for more efficient energy consumption, third world nations relied heavily on them. The three year war was the bloodiest conflict since World War 2. Millions of civilians died in cross-fires and starvation. Soldiers fought brutal battles in dense rainforests and rundown cities. The war spread though out all of South America, completely destabilizing the region. The war – at first fought between two powers for oil reserves eventually became a chaotic mess as many powers and nations began fighting with their own goals and agendas. The entire region became an 'every nation for itself' shootout as nations fought for control and power. Fearing the war may reach the Mexican borders, Mexico signed a defense treaty with the US and Canada. The combined forces of the Superpower US along with Mexican and Canadian forces on Mexico's southern border dissuaded any South American power from bringing the war north.

The war eventually came to a close when Brazilian forces smashed through the Argentine lines with overwhelming force. Argentina– who was fighting on multiple fronts against other nations – could not hold the Brazilian forces back. The final battle of Buenos Aires took place in dense, built-up urban conflict. Despite overwhelming forces Argentina managed to hold the city for over a month. But in the end, their efforts were in vain. After over three years of fighting, the war officially ended when the Commander of Argentina's forces surrendered.

Although the war was over, the fighting still continued. Over the next few years Brazil, along with its allies, marched across South America to stabilize the region. No longer fighting Argentina, Brazilians now focused all of their efforts on the smaller warring nations that were still fighting for more power. The smaller nations were no match for the battle hardened Brazilian Army, and they easily defeated anyone that stood in their path. The impoverished, war torn civilians welcomed the Brazilians and their allies as they marched into their cities, hoping that they would end the war.

After four years since the war began, over 2/3rds of South America was under the control of Brazil and its allies. The remaining nations, now realizing it was only a matter of time before Brazil took control, choose to join rather than fight a war they would lose. On December 8, 2047, all of the nations of South America signed the South American Unification Act. The South American Union was born. All of South America was a single nation, much like the European Union.

2049: The Russian Federation, China, Japan, Saharan Republic, European Union, and the United States have established various colonies on Mars. Most are small, but some have grown into vast atmospherically sealed complexes boasting hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. Liberty is the largest colony with a population of 330,000 American, Canadian, and Mexican colonists. Overall, over 650,000 humans live on Mars. Not wanting to incite border disputes within the increasingly crowded red planet, the various nations convened at the U.N. Headquarters to discuss territorial claims. After much debate - with each nation haggling over everything from easily defendable positions on the planet to where the most valuable resources are - an agreement is finally made, and Mars is divided among the various nations.

2053: The United States, Canada, and Mexico unify to form the United North American States. Due to the fact the Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans made an aggressive effort in colonizing Mars, most of the colonies were from their prospective nations. When the three nations joined, the United North American States now had control of over half of Mars.

2057: A small band of independent miners accidently stumbled upon ancient alien ruins on Mars. What they discovered was a small cache of highly advanced Prothean technology hidden deep beneath the surface of Mars on the south polar region of Promethei Planum. Further investigation into the underground complex yielded several large crates of an unknown material. It was regarded as the single most important discovery in human history. The cache became the focus point of virtually every scientist, researcher, and engineer of the human race. Researches eventually learned that the 'Protheans' travelled faster than light with the use of the newly discovered element with the atomic number of zero. Major media outlets quickly dubbed this mysterious element as 'element zero'.

2057 - 2062: Within a mere two years of the discovery, Earths major powers had managed to reverse engineer and develop ships capable of faster than light travel. Element zero or 'eezo' was discovered on various moons of the outer planets, no longer making the large containers of eezo found on Mars valuable, thus removing incredible tension over which nation got how much. Artificial gravity was unlocked shortly after the mass effect engines, followed by mass effect shields. Each nation began building their own civilian ships and military fleets to secure their territory. The United North American States, European Union, and Chinese Republic had larger fleets to defend their larger territorial holds, particularly on Mars and around the many moons of the gas giants.

In 2061, researchers finally unlocked the greatest secret of the Prothean data cache. Charon, the moon orbiting Pluto, was in fact a giant machine incased in ice. The machine, which the Protheans called a 'Mass Relay' was apparently capable of unlocking true interstellar travel. A joint effort by the world powers was undertaken to 'thaw' the machine and activate it. On December 3, 2062, Jon Grissom and his crew became the first humans to travel through the Relay. His subsequent return two hours later (after traversing a distance of over 900 light years) was universally celebrated by every citizen on Earth.

2062 - 2082: As the decades passed, the various nations of Earth set out to colonize new inhabitable worlds, open more Mass Relays, and build up their interstellar empires. The more powerful nations like the United North American States, European Union, Russian Federation, and Chinese Republic each had dozens of star systems and worlds to their claim. Smaller nations like Japan, South American Union, and Sahara Republic had a few systems of their own, although nowhere near the scale of the superpowers. Back on Earth all of the African nations were finally absorbed into the Saharan Republic, while China controlled most of Asia (although roughly a third of Asia was united behind Japanese leadership against China). Tensions between Japan and China consist today.

Each interstellar empire set out to outdo each other, weather in economics, politics, science, territorial control, or in military might. Every nation had differing views of how humanity should progress into the future. The human race rapidly began to spread throughout the galaxy. Conflicts came and went, power balances altered and shifted, and the expansion of human civilization continued on.

2085: China's colony of Shanxi goes dark.

I have studied them; the humans. What I have seen both utterly fascinates me—and utterly terrifies me. They are creatures of action, and pursue their goals with an indomitable determination that is both admirable, and unsettling. They are capable of producing art that would make any Asari Matriarch hold her breath in awe, but are also capable of such vulgar and barbaric actions that even a Krogan warrior would disapprove. Throughout their history they have demonstrated an ability to show unparalleled compassion to their fellow man, but have also committed such disturbing atrocities against each other that it is a wonder how such wounds could ever be reconciled. They very passionately and poetically extrapolate complex and profound meanings behind their natural world. But they refuse to, or perhaps are incapable of, keeping their passions in check.

I say that they utterly fascinate me, because I have seen an inner beauty to this young species that should be shared and treasured with the rest of the galaxy. I have studied there art and literature—such wondrous creations! So much variety, viewpoints, and opposing viewpoints. I have seen their magnificent architectures and bustling cities. I have experienced their acts of kindness; their positive and hopeful outlook to the future. I have seen with my own eyes such a diverse and vibrant group of cultures; thousands of different beliefs, religions, and differing views about every avenue of life. And I have witnessed firsthand their unrelenting curiosity and wonder; how they set out to unlock the secrets of the universe with a tenacity and vigor that I could only envy.

But I too have seen what this species is capable of. I have studied their wars, and how they conduct them with unmatched skill, determination, and ruthlessness. I have read of their greatest acts of atrocities and systematic attempts of genocide against their fellow man. This is a species that has known constant strife and warfare since its recorded history; a species who managed to split the atom and breach the heavens within a breath of one of their single short generations, all in an effort to gain an advantage over one another.

There is much we can teach them. The passion, the intelligence, the ruthlessness to do what needs to be done, the audaciousness to attempt the impossible, and the will to actually succeed at it, is already there. If we can instill in them what they are severely lacking—patience, diligence, fortitude and foresight—the very things we asari have mastered, then I know they will achieve amazing things.

When I look at humans I see potential. I just pray that it doesn't go to waste.

~ Professor Auras D'lana, excerpt from article in Citadel News Net, [sic; translate] 2086

AN: If you haven't guessed, this story takes inspiration from the brilliant author Arthur C. Clarke.