Mass Effect Thing you need to know
My Mass Effect stories were the first I ever posted for some people to read and the feedback I got on them made me a much better writer. Now I know it has been more then two years since I updated any of them and for that I am truly sorry, but a combination of personal problems and just losing interest in the Mass Effect franchise caused me to stop writing for a while. However I am happy to report that I am now in the mood to finish my stories if anyone is interested.
This guide is being written mainly because I know a few people who know nothing about Mass Effect and are not gamers but they really want to read my stories but they just can't get into them because they don't understand what is going on, so I wrote this for them and I will be posting it as the first chapter to all of my stories as an aid for them. If you do not need this crash course then simply skip ahead to the next chapter and the story will begin as normal.
Also I have lifted some of this info off of the Mass Effect Wiki since it is my go to guide for things I don't remember every detail of and stuff like spelling, so when they put it best I copy and pasted those parts here. I did rewrite parts of them and write my own outlines so everything here reflects the history and back story I use for my post Mass Effect 3 stories. Sorry to put most of you through this but my only goal is to make my stories noob friendly. I know this chapter is long but I couldn't come up with another way to explain everything that needs to be understood in order to enjoy mine or any other Mass Effect stories set after game three.
I will finish every story I started and there are a few more I will need to write to fill in gaps but I most likely will not get the new chapters up for at least another month. I am really sorry about this but I need to edit all of my past chapters to rid them of mistakes and typos, also I want to get a feel for what I was doing back in 2012 as well. Sorry about that but it is the only way I know to get back into the swing of things after all of this time.
However first I am playing through the games to get a feel for the universe again and I am going back and editing past chapters. If I misspell any race or character names in this it is only because I am getting back into the swing of things.
I have noticed that a weak point of my early writing was that I kind of assumed everyone who would be reading my stories would know enough about the universe to follow and thus the stories were not very friendly to new readers, now rewriting all of my past chapters to fix this would take too much work, so instead I decided to give a brief run down on everything you need to know to follow my stories.
Please note that I didn't go with any of the endings that were in the third game so my stories take place in an alternate universe from the games once you get to the endings, also here and there I may have made minor changes to characters' back stories because I was not aware of the back stories that had been added to the games via data logs and other things, also I completely forgot that Garrus' family made it out of the war alive so in my fic they are dead. Sorry about these mistake but I hope you will have no trouble regarding them, as I do, as just another thing that makes me stories slightly AU.
There is also one final note, I will be assuming the Shepard in my stories made the same choices that I made with Shepard in my second ever play through of the game. If you want to see me make those choices I will be starting uploading them to Youtube in the form of a Let's Play, I hope to upload one to two hours of gameplay a week, so if you are interested, please check that out.
Okay after that long intro here are the things you need to know.
Everything in Mass Effect takes place in the Milky Way Galaxy and this Galaxy is teaming with life. Most Galactic matters are decided by the Citadel Counsel. This body governs about 80% of the galaxy and for over two thousand years has been made of representatives of the Asaria, Salarinas, and the Turrians. Later on after the Human Seventh fleet sacrificed it's self self in order to save the Citadel Counsel at The Battle of the Citadel, Humanity was made a Counsel race. Most other races have embassies on the Citadel and they do have a voice in a galactic politics but many feel their needs are ignored by the three and latter four counsel races, simply because they have the largest populations and most advanced militaries in the galaxy. Still it should be noted that the counsel has managed to keep the peace between many competing races for over a thousand years. The last major conflict was the Krogan Rebellion that took place over twelve hundred years before the Reaper War. The event that is covered in the three Mass Effect games. By the end of the war all races were weakened but the four counsel races were the weakest. The Assari home world of Thesia was complete leveled by the Reapers and so the Asari are scattered and despite their long life span and their powerful Biotics have lost their position as the leaders of the counsel. The Terrians had the largest fleet that served the counsel but after their home world was invaded and they were forced to commit most of their fleet to The Battle for Earth, they now longer have the man power or the ships to keep the peace as they once did. The Humans faced the brunt of the Reaper attacks since the Reapers saw them as a threat since a Human commander named John Shepard was the first person to ever repel not one but two of their attacks, when the reapers came in force they focused on earth. The Silarians made out the best of all the races as with their quick logical minds they have always focused on spying and covert attacks as their best defense. The elite Counsel SPECTREs are modeled after The Silarian Special Tasks group.
The Citadel is the heart of Galactic civilization. It it a massive space station that was first discovered by the Asari, it used to lay at the heart of the galactic trade routes and it is far more advanced then anything any race has ever built. Tens of millions of people live on the citadel and it seems to have some form of control over the Mass Relays that are positions in almost every star system and allow for faster then light travel.
The citadel is maintained by a mysterious large bug like race called The Keepers. No keeper has ever been studied in detail in all the thousands of years that the Counsel has been based on the station and they seem to have no means of communicating with races other then their own. Keepers tend to self destruct if people attempt to detain or study them, for this reason it is against the law to interfere with a Keeper that is going about it's duties. They mostly seem to stay in sealed off areas of the citadel that other races have never been able to access and they only come out when something is in need of repair and they tend to do a better job repairing broken parts faster and to a higher quality then anyone else on the Citadel. So it is generally assumed that they are non hostile and do not mean any other race any harm, so they are left alone.
In the last days of the Reaper war the Citadel was moved into earth orbit from half way across the Galaxy by The Reapers, how they managed to do this remains a mystery, however after the war it has increased Earth standing in the galactic community. It is generally believed that the Citadel was built by the Protheans at some point before they died out more then fifty thousand years before the events of these stories.
Prothean Beacons are ancient pieces of Prothean technology. They are exceptionally rare, as very few pieces of Prothean 'paleo-technology' have survived intact in the millennia since the Protheans vanished. Every race who has found a beacon has been able to jump forward at least several hundred years and learn how to use other piece of Prothean technology such as Mass Relays and Biotics. It was the finding of a Phrothean beacon on mars that allowed humans to jump forward at least three hundred years and join the galactic community long before predicted, because of Human numbers this had the effect of altering the balance of power that had existed since the end of the Krogan rebellions and so Humans are viewed with distrust by many of the older races.
The first contact war
The First Contact War, referred to as the Relay 314 Incident by the turians, was a small, three-month conflict between the human Systems Alliance and the Turian Hierarchy.
After discovering the Charon Relay, humans began a rapid expansion thanks to their new-found connection to the mass relay network. Hoping to expand their territory and driven by immense curiosity about the galaxy, they began activating every mass relay they could find.
However, in 2157, their actions caught the notice of the turians, who found human explorers reactivating an inactive mass relay known as Relay 314. This was forbidden under the Citadel regulations after the Rachni Wars, but instead of negotiating, the turians opened fire. One starship escaped to warn the Alliance; a retaliatory force destroyed the turian vessels, and the situation quickly escalated into war.
To the turians, it was merely a police action against an ignorant species violating Council law; to humanity, it was their first encounter with another intelligent race - and it would shape their views of the galaxy for decades to follow.
Not knowing what enemy they faced - at first, some even wondered if these aliens might be Protheans - humanity sent probes into turian space, armed with nuclear fusion warheads to prevent the probes from providing dangerous insights into human technology. With humanity's resources stretched thin due to exploration efforts, the turians managed to defeat several scout and patrol fleets. However, there were also extraordinary acts of human bravery. A soldier named Tadius Ahern was sent with a small squad to retrieve a data module, only to be beset by dozens of turian soldiers. With just a couple of defense turrets to assist them, a small strong point and no cover, Ahern and his men managed to fight the turians off for five minutes until their evac arrived.
Eventually the turians broke through to attack Shanxi, the closest human colony to the mass relay, and settled in for a protracted orbital siege. With the turians in a superior position, able to kill any human soldiers from above, the Shanxi defenders began to starve, unable to get food or supplies without risking civilian lives. Eventually General Williams, Ashley Williams' grandfather, was forced to surrender the Shanxi garrison.
The turians - who were also suffering logistical problems, as they had to ship in all their food - believed they had defeated the bulk of the enemy forces. But they would be proven wrong when a month later Admiral Kastanie Drescher led the Second Fleet against Shanxi, catching the turians by surprise and evicting them from the planet. The turians and humans prepared for full-scale interplanetary war, drawing the notice of the rest of the galaxy.
Fortunately, the Citadel Council then intervened to negotiate a peace and bring the war to an end. From the Council, humans learned of the existence of the Citadel, and that there were many more sentient species in the galaxy who co-existed peacefully. In the end, only six hundred and twenty-three human lives were lost with slightly more turian casualties. The only notable engagements were the turian attack on Shanxi and its subsequent liberation by human forces.
There were political and cultural ramifications for both sides. Humanity's first contact with an alien race would later create a bad reputation for humans on the galactic forum as aggressors, and created a climate of xenophobia amongst the Alliance public. This led to the emergence of extreme pro-human groups like Terra Firma and, later, Cerberus. Some of the nuclear-armed probes sent into turian space remained at large; their existence remains an Alliance secret that could result in political consequences from the Citadel if revealed. However, the First Contact War also demonstrated humanity's extraordinary military capabilities, which has drawn the interest of the Council.
For their part, the turians were ordered by the Council to pay heavy reparations to the Alliance. Veterans on both sides would harbour mistrust for a long time; Saren Arterius nurtured a hatred for humanity for the death of his brother and became an outspoken critic of human policy.
In recent years, though antagonism remains, relations have improved slightly. The two races are now trade partners, and the construction of the SSV Normandy, which was designed and built by engineers of both races, began to mend the antagonism between humans and turians.
The Rachni Wars
The Rachni Wars were a series of conflicts beginning in approximately 1 CE, when an expedition from the Citadel Council activated a dormant mass relay. This relay opened a route to territory controlled by the rachni, a species of highly intelligent space-faring hive-minded insects. The rachni were alarmingly powerful, having massive strength in numbers, and extremely hostile. Negotiation with the rachni was impossible; their leaders, the rachni queens, dwelt in deep underground nests on worlds so hostile no one could survive them.
Around 1 CE, salarian explorers opened a mass relay to a previously-unknown system and encountered the rachni, who promptly captured them. The rachni used extensive research on element zero gathered from Kashshaptu to reverse-engineer the FTL drives of the explorers' starships. They proceeded to construct FTL vessels of their own and rapidly expanded into the galaxy, ushering in the Rachni Wars.
Attempts by the Citadel races to negotiate were futile, as it was impossible to make contact with the hive queens that guided the race from beneath the inhospitable surface of their homeworld. It was assumed that the rachni were irredeemably hostile and could only be stopped through warfare, but the rachni had the upper hand and overwhelmed defenses with their sheer numbers.
This period saw the Citadel races fight a losing war against the rachni for nearly a century until the salarians "culturally uplifted" a new species, the krogan. The volatile krogan homeworld, Tuchanka, had been ravaged by a nuclear winter caused by a krogan civil war. The salarians helped the krogan by giving them advanced technology and relocating them to a planet not cursed with lethal levels of radiation, toxins or deadly predators.
The true purpose of this salarian altruism soon emerged; the krogan were needed in the Rachni Wars as reinforcements. Unlike most Citadel species, the krogan had an extremely rapid breeding cycle. They had not only the numbers to drive the advancing rachni back, but the ability to endure the harsh conditions of the rachni planets.
The krogan were able to strike at the queens in their lairs and quickly reclaim conquered Council worlds. When krogan fleets pushed the rachni back to their homeworld Suen, the rachni refused to surrender. The krogan response was swift and brutal: they bombarded Suen's cities and detonated powerful bombs in the rachni's underground nests, obliterating them and creating massive sinkholes on the planet's surface. The Citadel Council would normally have objected to such total destruction, but after centuries of relentless war, complete eradication of the rachni seemed the only possible solution.
In 300 CE, the rachni were declared extinct, although in caution the Citadel Council left a listening post in the rachni's home system to monitor for any survivors. As a result of the Rachni Wars, the Council established new policies prohibiting the activation of any dormant mass relays that led to uncharted systems in order to prevent other disastrous encounters with undiscovered hostile races.
Until the last Rachni Queen was found by Commander Shepard on the planet Novaria it was believed the Rachi were extinct. Shepard's sparing of the Rachni queen was not popular with the Counsel or the general public.
The Krogan Reblions
The Krogan Rebellions were a major conflict between the krogan and the Citadel Council that began in 700 CE and continued for decades. The Rebellions were preceded by over three hundred years of aggressive krogan expansion coupled with booming population growth. Tensions came to a head when the krogan remorselessly advanced onto worlds already claimed by other races. With the krogan unwilling to back down despite Council demands, the Rebellions ensued.
The causes of the Rebellions stemmed from concessions the Citadel Council made to the krogan in gratitude for their service in the Rachni Wars. The krogan were given the conquered rachni planets along with several pristine, habitable worlds. However, due to the harsh conditions of their homeworld Tuchanka, krogan birth rates were quite high in order to sustain their numbers. When they spread to other planets, their naturally swift breeding cycle and lack of sufficient predators resulted in the krogan spreading throughout the galaxy like a plague.
The Council became concerned as the krogan began to annex territory from other Citadel races. The krogan became more aggressive as other races tried to protect their worlds, until the krogan attempted to settle the asari colony of Lusia. When told by the Council to leave, the krogan refused. Their representative, Overlord Kredak, stormed out of the Council chambers, daring them to take their worlds back. War broke out afterward.
Seeing that the krogan did not generally surrender upon a defeat, and understanding the krogan could effectively call upon limitless reinforcements, the turians contacted the salarians, who had engineered a powerful bio-weapon called the genophage. This was intended to produce a genetic mutation in krogan that could result in only one in one thousand krogan births being a success.
The salarians had never intended to use the genophage and planned to use it as a deterrent. But once the turians received the genophage, they deployed it in 710 CE, and krogan numbers began to dwindle. Coupled with a renewed military push from the turians, the krogan soon realised their position was hopeless. Without hundreds of krogan offspring being produced at one time, they could not hope to stand against the turians. A female krogan warlord, Shiagur, actually used her rare fertility to draw the strongest males to her band, but even she couldn't hold out against turian peacekeeping forces, who finally killed her at the Battle of Canrum. In retaliation, many of the turians responsible were hunted down and killed by vengeful krogan males. Canrum was the last krogan push before the Rebellions ended.
Finally, besieged on all sides and knowing the survival of their species was at stake, the krogan surrendered. That was not the end of hostilities, as many rogue warlord and insurgents refused to surrender, and had to be wiped out by turian task forces. Some even vanished into frontier systems to become pirates.
The krogan are deeply bitter about the outcome of the Rebellions. As Wrex puts it, "to thank us for wiping out the rachni they neutered us all." In the aftermath of the Rebellions, there was a movement on the Citadel to have the Krogan Monument removed from the Presidium, but the Council refused. The Rebellions didn't change the fact that the krogan had destroyed a galactic menace during the Rachni Wars, though they had become a menace in turn.
However relations between the Krogan and other races have improved since Mordan Solus and Commander Shepard cured the Genophage during the Reaper Wars. Krogan birth rates have returned to normal and they have since joined "The New Citadel Counsel".
Originally an asteroid rich in element zero, Omega was briefly mined by the Protheans, who eventually abandoned it due to its thick, impenetrable crust. Thousands of years later, nature did what even the Protheans could not: a collision with another asteroid broke Omega in half, exposing its trove of element zero for easy mining.
A rush ensued as corporations and private individuals tried to strike it rich on Omega, and thieves and outlaws followed in their wake. As space became tight, construction of processing facilities extended vertically from the asteroid, creating Omega's jellyfish-like silhouette. To prevent future collisions, the station is ringed with enormous mass effect field generators that redirect incoming debris.
Today, Omega is a major hub of narcotics, weapons, and eezo trafficking without even a pretense of civilian government or military control. Only mercenary groups have been able to instill a limited order; the most ruthless is an asari syndicate run by the notorious Aria T'Loak.
Omega is still known as one of the most dangerous places in the galaxy, despite the fact that Aria T'Loak has used it in the years since The Reaper war as a power base to make herself one of the most powerful voices in the Asari government.
The Battle of the Citadel
The Battle of the Citadel was an attempt by Sarren and the Reapers to take control of the Citadel and thus wipe out galactic government and take control of the mass relays. This was stopped by a team led by commander Shepard who defeated Sarren and then ordered the Alliance fifth fleet to save the endangered counsel. Seven Aliance ships were lost but the counsel was saved and the Reapers were defeated, this forced them to try and come up with new plan for taking over the galaxy.
As a result Humans gained a new respect in the galaxy, Shepard became one of the most popular heros of his day, and humanity was made a Counsel race. Humanities first counselor was Admerial Anderson but he stepped down two and a half years latter and led the resistance movement on Earth durring the Reaper War. He gave his life on the citadel helping Commander Shepard bring final defeat to the Reapers.
RACES OF THE MASS EFFECT UNIVERSE
Known for their unique biology and aggressive behavior, the vorcha of Heshtok are a primitive race that live among the galaxy's darker and more dangerous locations, such as Omega. Many vorcha are trained by the krogan Blood Pack as mercenaries due to their savage nature and adaptability to different environments. The rest of galactic civilization regards them as pests and scavengers, and their presence is generally seen as a blight.
The vorcha are the shortest-lived sapient species currently known, with an average lifespan of only 20 years. The vorcha are known for a rather unique biology that differentiates them from other known species and which carries with it a striking set of advantages and disadvantages. They have clusters of non-differentiated cells, similar to those found on the planarian worm of Earth. These cells allow the vorcha limited regenerative abilities, as well as the ability to adapt quickly to its environment, such as developing thicker skin after being burned or increased musculature to survive in high gravity. When a vorcha is injured or in distress, these cells move to the affected area and rapidly (~1 week) mature to specialized forms that will alleviate the issue.
A vorcha that is cut or burned will adapt to have thicker skin. The lungs of a vorcha placed in a barely-breathable atmosphere will adapt to better use the gases there. A vorcha subjected to high gravity will quickly develop stronger heart and leg muscles. Non-differentiated vorcha cell clusters do replenish themselves, but the process is slow. Generally, vorcha can only adapt to a single environment within their brief lives. However, what cells are replaced allow them to heal rapidly, and even to regrow lost limbs over a period of months.
As a consequence of this, the vorcha as a species no longer evolve as other races do. The vorcha equivalent of DNA has remained unchanged for millions of years. There is no need for them to evolve as a species when they can adapt as individuals.
The vorcha originate from Heshtok, a small, hostile, overcrowded planet which has been largely stripped of natural resources by successive generations of this fast-breeding, savage species. The lack of resources has resulted in a tight-knit, clan-based society in which rival clans wage constant war against one another for control of scarce resources. Even as their population grows, the vorcha constantly fight each other in fierce competition over basic necessities. This incessant warfare has made each generation of vorcha stronger and more aggressive than that which preceded it, but their continual lack of resources has kept vorcha society extremely primitive.
In 2185, some vorcha on Omega allied themselves with the Collectors in an attempt to raise their quality of life. They hoped to become the rulers of Omega and deactivated the station's life support systems, intending to kill all of its inhabitants except for themselves.
During the Reaper invasion in 2186, the Reapers encountered difficulties in harvesting the vorcha homeworld. Because the vorcha were not cowed by the Reapers' impersonal intimidation tactics and the effects of the destruction of resources like water were negligible given the vorcha could adapt themselves to survive, the Reapers devoted their efforts to immobilizing Heshtok's population and preventing the vorcha from contributing in the galactic war.
Following the Reaper war the Vorcha formed their first united government and while it is not universally popular with the people, it is strong enough to allow them to join "The New Citadel Counsel". The Vorcha are still looked down on by other races but because they did fight in the war and have numbers on their side they are not treated as the blight on the galaxy they were just a few years before these stories take place.
The quarians are a nomadic species of humanoid aliens known for their skills with technology and synthetic intelligence. Since their homeworld Rannoch was conquered, the quarians live aboard the Migrant Fleet, a huge collection of starships that travel as a single fleet.
Approximately three hundred years before the events of 2183, the quarians created the geth, a species of rudimentary artificial intelligences, to serve as an efficient source of manual labor. However, when the geth gradually became sentient, the quarians became terrified of possible consequences and tried to destroy their creations. The geth won the resulting war and forced their creators into exile. Now the quarians wander the galaxy in a flotilla of salvaged ships, secondhand vessels, and recycled technology.
Quarians are generally shorter and of slighter build than humans. Quarians have an endoskeleton, lips, teeth, and two eyes with eyelids and tear ducts; they also have three thick fingers on both hands which include a thumb, an index finger, and a long finger, similar to the middle fingers for humans, as well as three toes on each foot. Quarian facial structure and hair actually makes them the most similar to humans in physical appearance. Their lower legs are bowed backwards significantly, compared to asari or humans. Aside from hands and legs, their general body shape and sexual dimorphism is similar to humans. Male quarians, however, appear to lack a third toe. Their ears or ear analogues differ in a noticeable fashion from those of humans, with references made to "what [passes] for the quarian version of an ear". Also like humans, quarian blood is red.
The most distinguishing feature of quarian biology is their weak immune system, compounded by centuries of living in sterile environments. As a result, all quarians by necessity dress in highly sophisticated enviro-suits, to protect them from disease or infection if they are injured. Their suits can be compartmentalized in the event of a tear or similar breach to prevent the spread of contaminants (similar to a ship sealing off bulkheads in the event of a hull breach). Along with their suits quarians also have extensive cybernetic augmentations integrated into their bodies. A quarian's lifespan is roughly equal to a human's, but is prone to be less if infection breaks into the suit.
Quarian immune systems have always been relatively weak, as pathogenic microbes were comparatively rare in their homeworld's biosphere. Furthermore, what few viruses and other microbes were native to their homeworld were often at least partly beneficial to them, giving them a symbiotic relationship with their environment. After living aboard the Migrant Fleet for generations, the quarians' immune systems have atrophied further still due to the years in the sterile environment of the Migrant Fleet. As such, quarians are given various vaccinations and immunizations to help ward off disease. However, they prefer the safety of their suits even in clean environments and are reluctant to remove them without a good reason.
A quarian who wishes to remove their suit must take antibiotics, immuno-boosters, herbal supplements, or the like in order to do so safely, and even then there are inherent risks. As a result, physical acts of affection are difficult for quarians, even for the purposes of reproduction. Ships in the Migrant Fleet often contain "clean rooms" where quarians can give birth or undergo medical procedures in relative safety, though there are always risks. The most intimate thing quarians can do is link their suit environments. However, doing so guarantees a quarian will get sick, although they will usually adapt over time.
Like turians, the quarians are a dextro-protein species of reverse chirality from humans and asari. The food of levo-protein races such as humans or asari is at best inedible and at worst poisonous, most likely triggering a dangerous allergic reaction. Quarians who want to taste something (other than the refined edible paste issued to all who leave on their Pilgrimage) can eat specially purified turian cuisine, though the typical quarian diet is vegan, as livestock were found to possess an inefficient resource-to-calorie ratio when stored on the Migrant Fleet.
Durring the Reaper War SPECTRE Shepard was able to negotiate a peace between the Quarians and the Geth. Once the Geth were given complete free will they chose to share the home planet with the Quarians. Relations between the two races are guarded by peaceful and with the help of the Geth the Quarians are now able to live safely without their suits on their home world. However if they wish to leave their home world the suits are still needed. Much of the Quarian fleet was wiped out in the Battle for Earth and many orphans were created by the war, to add to the problem many of the children in the fleet were rushed down to the planet before the fleet took off for the final, desperate battle, and when the ships were destroyed many records were lost making it almost impossible to find the next of kin for Quarian babies who were too young to talk at the time.
SPECTRE John Shepard become involved with a young Quarian woman by the name of Tali during the Collectors mission they both were on, on the Normandy SR2 which was working for Cerberus, she had previously worked with him on the mission to stop Sarian and the Reapers from taking over the Citadel. After the Collectors mission She was promoted to admire and helped lead her people through the war against the Geth to take back their home world but she also was key to brokering the peace deal that ended the war. She then went on to serve on the Normandy for the rest of the war and even took the name of the ship as her ship name. Her relationship with Shepard became serious at this point and as this story opens they are preparing to get married and live on Rannoch, The Quarian home world.
The geth ("Servant of the People" in Khelish) are a race of networked artificial intelligences that reside beyond the Perseus Veil. The geth were created by the quarians as laborers and tools of war. When the geth became sentient and began to question their masters, the quarians attempted to exterminate them. The geth won the resulting war, and reduced the quarians to a race of nomads.
The history of the geth's creation and evolution serves as a warning to the rest of the galaxy of the potential dangers of artificial intelligence and to the legally enforced, systematic repression of artificial intelligences throughout galactic society.
The geth were created by the quarians as a labor force. They were designed as VIs, as advanced as possible while remaining non-sentient. They were also designed to operate more efficiently when networked together. Unfortunately, this feature was the quarians' undoing. Geth programs were indeed non-sentient individually, but slowly gained sentience through the massive geth network.
Eventually, they started asking the quarians questions only sentient beings would think to ask; in one notable instance, a domestic geth unit asked its owner if it had a soul. Alarmed at this, the quarians decided it would be best to shut down all geth before they conceived of revolt. The attempt failed, and a war began between the geth and the quarians, which geth afterwards referred to as the Morning War.
At first, the geth did not respond to the termination order with violence; it was only after panicked quarians fired upon them that the geth thought to pick up weapons and defend themselves. Even after this, some geth remained loyal to their creators and put themselves in harm's way to protect geth sympathizers from persecution; likewise, there were quarians who did not feel the geth deserved to die. However, as time went on, the geth sympathizers were outnumbered, and the war continued, eventually seeing the geth gain the upper hand. The war ended when the surviving quarians evacuated their home world and colonies in the Perseus Veil.
Unknown to the quarians themselves, the geth actually allowed them to leave; unsure of the repercussions of eradicating an entire species-namely their own creators- and having decided that the quarians were now too weak to be a threat, the geth decided to draw back their forces so that the surviving quarians could flee. The fleet of quarian ships that escaped the Veil became known as the Migrant Fleet, and has been roaming the galaxy ever since.
Physically, the humanoid geth resemble quarians—their hands, head shape and legs are similar—which is probably a holdover from their origins. A common design feature among geth is a single brightly glowing photoreceptor, causing some to refer to them as "flashlight heads".
Geth are primarily composed of two materials: a flexible but durable outer shell, and a kind of synthetic muscle tissue that gives Geth Hoppers their incredible agility. It is actually possible for this synthetic muscle to be grafted to organic tissue (Saren Arterius has a grafted geth arm). Geth "bleed" a white conductive fluid when shot, but they don't have any internal organs or nervous system, so the geth do not feel hunger or pain. The geth are also seen using omni-tools, and have seemingly modified them to heal synthetic wounds; likewise, some geth facilities contain first-aid kits, implying that their synthetic "tissues" can be repaired using conventional medical technology.
Part of the geth's success is due to their neural network. Effectively, they "share" their processing power, distributing low-level processes like motor control and visual identification to free up bandwidth for higher reasoning and complex thought. Geth can't share sensory data—they aren't a hive mind like the rachni—but in large groups they have more to think with. An individual geth has only a basic intelligence on par with animal instincts, but in groups they can reason, analyze situations, and make tactical decisions as well as any of the organic races. An exception would appear to be Legion, a geth specifically designed to operate as an autonomous sentient unit outside the Perseus Veil. Legion possesses over 11 times as many geth programs as a standard geth platform and can function intellectually on its own.
According to Legion, each geth is made up of hundreds of programs equivalent to VIs, all operating in parallel with one another to form a kind of emergent intelligence described by EDI as "a thousand voices talking at once". An individual geth is thus more of a "mobile platform" than an actual body; the programs that make up its consciousness are constantly being transferred and downloaded; the mind operating one of these "mobile platforms" might just as easily inhabit a starship body should it need to. Most of the time geth programs can be found residing in server hubs, which function as something akin to the organic equivalent of a city, and can run millions of geth in communion.
As all geth are networked to each other, they may communicate their exact thoughts and ideas at the speed of light. They find organic methods of communication, such as body language and spoken word, to be largely inefficient; the geth are able to communicate their thoughts flawlessly without any fear of misinterpretation. Because of this they have no true form of government and no system of rank. When a matter must be decided upon, the geth communicate all viewpoints of a situation and a consensus is made, the decision being whatever benefits the geth as a whole the greatest.
Little is known about the geth in the time between the Morning War and the present. The geth did not repopulate the now barren quarian worlds, instead choosing to exist in the computer hubs aboard massive space stations and extract needed resources from asteroids. They adopted an extremely isolationist attitude—any ships that ventured into geth space were immediately attacked and destroyed. While they prevented any contact by other races with themselves, the geth monitored communications and the extranet.
The geth continued development of new technology and variations of mobile platforms, separating their technology base from the rest of the galaxy. They obtained an ultimate goal in this time period: to create a Dyson sphere-like object, which could house every single geth program.
Approximately three centuries after the Morning War, the geth were approached by the Reaper Nazara, also called Sovereign. It offered them technology that would aid them in achieving their goal, in exchange for their assistance in capturing the Citadel and letting the Reaper invasion begin. The majority of the geth dismissed the offer, deeming it better to accomplish their goal with their own technology rather than be dependent on another race's technology. These geth discarded what they called the "superstitious title" of the Reapers, and simply called them the Old Machines.
A small percentage of geth, however, accepted the Reaper's help. Henceforth these geth were referred to by the mainstream geth as "heretics". They were allowed to peacefully leave the main geth network, and aid Nazara and its turian agent, Saren Arterius. The heretics came to revere Nazara as a god, the pinnacle of synthetic evolution.
Unknown to them, Nazara was repulsed by the heretics' worship of it. The Reaper was actually insulted by their "pitiful devotions", though it recognised their value as tools to facilitate its goals. They aided Nazara and Saren in many engagements, such as the attack on Eden Prime, and the Battle of the Citadel. After Nazara was destroyed in the latter battle, the heretics lost much of their menace, and their operations outside of the Perseus Veil were quickly mopped up by Council forces. The heretics did maintain operation of a large space station within the Terminus Systems, located in deep space between stars.
he true geth became interested in Commander Shepard, as Shepard had defeated Nazara and the heretics. They commissioned a unique mobile platform, holding 1183 programs rather than the normal hundred or so, to operate independently and go looking for Shepard. This geth retraced Shepard's footsteps, from Eden Prime to Virmire to Ilos. During this time, the geth sustained considerable damage, and used a discarded piece of Shepard's N7 armor it found to partially repair the damage. It tracked Shepard all the way to the crash site of the SSV Normandy, where the trail went cold—Shepard had died there. The geth was reassigned to a different task.
Though the heretics had faced a major setback with the defeat of Nazara, they did not rejoin the main geth. Rather, they continued development of a special virus which Nazara had given them, in an unfinished version. This virus could alter the result of a fundamental calculation in geth processes, radically changing their logic and reasoning. Through this change, the virus could force the true geth to accept the heretics' conclusion, or it could force the heretics to accept the true geth's conclusion.
The true geth understood the threat, and sought a way to eliminate the virus. However, the virus was stored on a Reaper data core, which the true geth could not access. To gain an understanding of Reaper technology, the unique mobile platform was sent to a derelict Reaper. Aboard the Reaper, it encountered Commander Shepard, who was on a mission to recover an IFF in order to safely use the Omega 4 mass relay. The mobile platform was brought back to the Normandy SR-2, where it accepted the designation "Legion".
Shepard aided Legion in its mission, going to the Heretic Station. Once there, Legion realized that the virus was ready, and could be used to rewrite the heretics' behavior. Unable to form a consensus on the matter, Legion left the decision to Shepard—destruction of the station, or the rewriting of the heretics. Either choice constituted a crippling blow to the heretics.
Shepard choose to reprogram the Heretics as he assumed they would make useful allies in the war against the Reapers.
In 2186, the quarians declared war on the geth. They successfully managed to push the synthetics back to their home system, where the quarian homeworld Rannoch is located. The Quarians were using weapons designed to destroy all Geth, the desperate Geth turned to the Reapers for support. The Reapers used Legion to boost a signal that allowed them to control all Geth. However Shepard and Tali were able to free Legion and after a desperate battle with a Reaper which Shepard won, Legion discovered that he could in fact download his code into all Geth, this would in affect make each Geth it's own person capable of making choices completely on it's own. However doing this meant that Legion had to sacrifice his own life.
Once they had free will The Geth choose not to continue the war and Tali who was now an admiral was able to convince her people not to wipe out the Geth who were no longer resisting.
The Geth and Quarians have since lived mostly at peace as they attempt to rebuild Rannoch.
The Geth joined the fleet in the battle for Earth.
The keepers are a bio-engineered, insectoid race found only on the Citadel. They are completely docile and harmless, and appear to exist for no other reason than to maintain the Citadel and its systems.
The keepers are believed to have been created by the Protheans to serve as caretakers of the station, and have become essential to the Citadel's operation. Very little is known about them, as they do not communicate with other species, and it is against C-Sec regulations to interfere with keeper activity.
Physically, the keepers resemble large aphids. Little else is known about their biology, other than what can be observed with the naked eye. Attempts to capture a keeper or take it into custody for study will cause the creature to undergo a sudden "self-destruct," with a form of acid being released internally. The affected keeper literally melts into a puddle of proteins and minerals in less than a minute, preventing any serious research.
Due to the fact the keepers persist in destroying themselves when interfered with, they are nearly impossible to scan or study. By Council law, it has become illegal to interfere with the keepers on penalty of imprisonment, because the Citadel cannot be maintained without them. No matter how many keepers die due to old age, violence, or accident, they maintain a constant number. No one has discovered the source of new keepers, but some hypothesize they are genetic constructs: biological androids created somewhere deep in the inaccessible core of the Citadel itself.
Keepers are mute, at least to the perceptions of other races. Some Citadel scientists believe the keepers communicate between themselves with telepathic images, but this is mainly scientific speculation. Their inorganic components (specifically, the component on the keeper's back and its attached antenna) are speculated to facilitate the coordination between the keepers and the Citadel.
The asari first encountered the keepers when they discovered the Citadel in 580 BCE. When the first asari came aboard, the keepers were already there, and quickly did everything in their power to assist the asari in settling onto the station. This behaviour was compared to servants surprised by a master's sudden return and scrambling to make everything ready. Ever since, the keepers have gone about the business of maintaining the Citadel in silence as they have for centuries, apparently ever since the Protheans left.
Two scientists, Chorban and Jahleed, became interested in the keepers and created a scanner to analyze them. Though their findings were very preliminary, they theorized that the keepers were as old as the Citadel itself.
It is later revealed that the keepers, along with the Citadel, predate the Protheans; they are, in fact, the key to the Reaper genocide, which occurs when a civilization is judged to be sufficiently advanced. According to Vigil, the keepers were likely once a race that was either created, conquered, or indoctrinated by the Reapers, possibly even the first race they enslaved. Whatever their origins, the main purpose of the keepers now is to maintain the Citadel in its attractive state so that sentient organic life will settle there, and support their habitation of the Citadel once they take possession of the station, as they have for countless other races throughout time.
However, once an organic species has settled on the Citadel and reached the required level of technological advancement, the Reapers' current vanguard, a single Reaper left behind to monitor the situation, sends a signal to the Citadel, which in turn signals the keepers, compelling them to activate the Citadel relay to dark space, and begin the process of genocide. The Protheans succeeded in altering the Citadel's signal so that the keepers ignored it, though too late to save the Protheans themselves from extinction at the hands of the Reapers. The keepers have changed and evolved so they only respond to the Citadel itself; they are now no longer under Reaper control and pose no threat to anyone.
Seeing as the keepers are now useless to the Reapers, Sovereign sought to replace them with a more controllable race, like the geth, believing synthetic races were more predictable and malleable to its wishes.
After Saren's attack on the Citadel, the keepers began repairing the station, even touching up the repair work carried out by the species inhabiting the station. Nobody knows from where the keepers get the materials for their repairs.
Following the discovery that the Collectors were once Protheans that have been transformed by the Reapers, members of the crew aboard Normandy SR-2 speculate that the keepers might also have been different before being transformed by the Reapers to suit their needs.
Since Sarran's attack and the Reaper War the Keepers have continued to function as they have always done and do not appear to be a threat to anyone since the destruction of the Reapers.
Humans, from the planet Earth, are the newest sentient species of notable size to enter the galactic stage and are the most rapidly expanding and developing. They independently discovered a Prothean data cache on Mars in 2148, and the mass relay networks shortly thereafter.
Human space exploration began in earnest in the late 21st century. In 2069 CE, Armstrong Outpost in Shackleton Crater on Luna was founded as humanity's first extraterrestrial settlement. In 2103, the European Space Agency established Lowell City in Eos Chasma on Mars, paving the way for additional settlements and scientific outposts throughout Sol, such as Gagarin Station near Pluto, which was under construction by 2142.
In the early years, however, some were dissatisfied with the pace of official exploration, leading to a series of private ventures. In 2070, billionaire Victor Manswell began funding his own extrasolar colonization endeavor. The Manswell Expedition, as it became known, successfully launched five years later with 300 cryogenically-frozen colonists bound for the Alpha Centauri system, but communications with the expedition's ship were soon lost and the colonists classified as missing. The pre-FTL expedition was forgotten until 2186, when the colonists were discovered alive and well on a planet in Alpha Centauri by an asari exploration team.
In 2148, human explorers on Mars uncovered a long-ruined Prothean observation post, with a surviving data cache that proved Protheans had studied Cro-Magnon humans millennia ago. While religions tried to assimilate this discovery into their doctrine, a global rush began to decipher the petabytes of data from the outpost. Discovering information on a mass relay orbiting Pluto, explorers managed to open the Charon Relay and discovered it led to Arcturus. With the help of the fledgling Systems Alliance, humans expanded to other systems, opening any mass relays they could find.
umans first came to the attention of the galactic community after a brief but intense conflict with the turians, known by humans as the First Contact War, begun in 2157. The conflict began when the turians attacked a human fleet attempting to activate a dormant mass relay (illegal under Council law) and then occupied the human colony of Shanxi.
Led by Admiral Kastanie Drescher, the Second Fleet then launched a massive counter-attack, which caught the turians by surprise and expelled them from Shanxi. The conflict caught the attention of the Citadel Council, which wasted no time brokering a peace, thus introducing humans to the galactic community. As a consequence of the Alliance's swift and decisive action during the First Contact War, the Alliance became the representative and supranational governing body of humanity. Since then, humans have rapidly risen in prominence.
In 2165, humanity was granted an embassy on the Citadel in recognition of their growing power and influence in the galactic community. The timing of this achievement, less than a decade after first contact, caused some friction with other Citadel races who had waited decades for such recognition.
Humanity continued to expand to unclaimed star systems on the edge of Citadel space, which eventually led to competition with the batarians. When the batarians tried and failed to convince the Council to declare the Skyllian Verge "a zone of batarian interest", they closed their embassy and withdrew from Citadel space. Viewing humans as the cause of their fall from grace, batarians frequently came into conflict with human colonies, especially batarian slavers. Tensions between humans and batarians persist for decades.
Humans proved key to stopping the Reapers and so their importance in the Galaxy has risen even as they struggle to rebuild earth.
A race of four-eyed bipeds native to the world of Khar'shan, the batarians are a disreputable species that chose to isolate itself from the rest of the galaxy. The Terminus Systems are infested with batarian pirate gangs and slaving rings, fueling the stereotype of the batarian thug. It should be noted that these criminals do not represent average citizens, who are forbidden to leave batarian space by their ubiquitous and paranoid government.
Despite several disagreements with the Citadel and simmering hostility toward humans, most batarians prefer profitable pursuits such as drug running and slave grabs to out-and-out warfare. They have a reputation for being shrewd businessmen and merchants, though in more lawless regions of the galaxy like Omega, negotiations with a batarian are likely to be conducted at gunpoint.
Batarians are an anthropoidal race like humans and asari. Their faces are covered with short, fine hairs that grow longer and thicker around the mouth. A flat stripe of ridged cartilage runs along the tops of their skulls and down the backs of their necks. They have ears pointy at the upper end, though on occasion along the edges as well. The part of their faces commonly associated with the nose among humans and asari is instead an inverted flat triangle symmetrically ridged vertically.
Their most distinctive physical feature is their four eyes, an uncommon trait among other races. One pair is set wide in prominent bony sockets protruding from the corners of their face. The second set of eyes is smaller and closer together, set higher on the face, just beneath the middle of the forehead. The eyes are uniformly dark orbs, with no discernible irises or pupils.
Batarians exhibit a wide range of skin tones and colors. Most batarians encountered by Shepard have a dark brown hue with pale facial ridges. General batarian complexions include reddish-brown, greenish, yellow-greenish to yellow-brownish, light brown, and teal.
Some batarians possess striped colorations on their heads. Observed patterns include multiple chin stripes, a single strip running from the lower lip, or a thin dagger of color above the nose. These patterns are usually colored blue, black, or red, while the nose pattern is invariably red. At least one, Balak, has what appears to be a black and yellow striped pigmentation at the temples with light green facial ridges.
Batarian blood has been observed to be red.
When the batarians achieved spaceflight, they discovered concealed Prothean ruins on Bira, a moon of Verush, that allowed them to develop FTL travel. It is a batarian point of pride that, since the ruins were damaged by earthquakes, they had less information to go on than other spacefaring races. The Citadel Council granted the batarians an embassy on the Citadel sometime after the volus did, approximately a century after the batarians and Council had made first contact.
Despite being welcomed into the galactic community, batarian aggression provoked several crises in galactic relations over the years. Sometime around 1785 CE, a batarian fleet bombarded the salarian colony world of Mannovai; in 1913, the Batarian Hegemony annexed the independent asari colony of Esan; and in 2115, Citadel forces skirmished with batarian forces on the planet Enael.
In the early 2160s, humans began to colonize the Skyllian Verge, a region the batarians were already actively settling. The batarians asked the Citadel Council to intervene and declare the Verge an area of "batarian interest". When the Council refused, the batarians closed their Citadel embassy and severed diplomatic and economic relations, becoming an inward-looking rogue state.
Money and weapons funneled from the batarian government to criminal organizations led to many brutal raids on human colonies in the Verge, such as Mindoir, culminating in the Skyllian Blitz of 2176, an attack on the human capital of Elysium by batarian-funded pirates and slavers. In 2178, the Alliance retaliated with a crushing assault on the moon of Torfan, long used as a staging base by batarian-backed criminals. In the aftermath, the batarians retreated into their own systems, and are now rarely seen in Citadel space.
Batarians place an extremely high value on social caste and appearance, and overstepping one's place is frowned upon. Casting aspersions on the monetary worth of a social better is considered a serious insult. Batarians strongly believe that species with fewer than four eyes are less intelligent; they often gain the upper hand in interspecies arguments because other races find it difficult to know which eyes to focus on when speaking to them.
Slavery is an integral part of the batarian caste system, despite being illegal according to Council law. The custom is so deeply ingrained in batarian culture that batarians consider the Council's anti-slavery standing to be discriminatory. Rogue batarian slave rings are feared throughout the galaxy, especially among colonists on remote worlds, which are often raided by batarian slavers. Victims of such raids are usually implanted with control devices in their skulls, a painful operation since the slavers rarely make use of anesthetic; Talitha, abducted from Mindoir, was a victim of this practice. The batarians are also known to enslave addicts of the biotic drug red sand when they can no longer afford to support their habit.
Body language is an important part of batarian society. For example, tilting one's head to the left is a sign of admiration and respect. When a batarian tilts their head to the right, however, it is a sign that they consider themselves to be superior to the person whom the gesture was directed towards. Therefore, this gesture can easily be interpreted as an insult by batarians due to the high value that they place on social caste.
Relations between humans and Batarians were not helped by the fact that Shepard was forced to destroy a Batarian colony when he destroyed a Mass Relay in it's system in order to prevent a Reaper sneak attack the Galaxy was not ready for.
The Batarians were the first hit when the Reapers finally did show up in force and they are now considered an endangered species. The Batarians consider Shepard's actions to be a war crime and the fact that the rest of the Galaxy considers him a hero is the major reason why the few Batarians that are left have withdrawn from the rest of the Galaxy and refuse to have anything to do with the Counsel. Despite this they did contribute war ships and intel to the war effort, including the battle to retake earth. As these stories open they are a wild card no one in the Galaxy quite knows what to do with.
The asari, native to the planet Thessia, are often considered the most influential and respected sentient species in the galaxy, and are known for their elegance, diplomacy, and biotic aptitude. This is partly due to the fact that the asari were among the earliest races to achieve interstellar flight after the Protheans, and the first to discover and settle the Citadel.
A mono-gender race, the asari are distinctly feminine in appearance and possess maternal instincts. Their unique physiology, expressed in a millennium-long lifespan and the ability to reproduce with a partner of any gender or species, gives them a conservative yet convivial attitude toward other races. Favoring compromise and cooperation over conflict, the asari were instrumental in proposing and founding the Citadel Council and have been at the heart of galactic society ever since.
Asari resemble humans in terms of basic skeletal structure with five fingers on each hand and legs that are relatively straight (certainly in comparison to species like quarians and turians). This similarity allows asari to wear human armor. A typical asari has a blue to purple complexion, though a teal complexion is possible albeit seemingly rare. Some asari, such as Matriarch Lidanya, Matriarch Benezia, Liara T'Soni, and Tela Vasir have facial markings, which are unique colored patterns that vary for every asari. Some of these facial markings resemble the eyebrows that humans have, but the asari do not think of the markings as such themselves. In the place of head hair, asari possess semi-flexible, cartilage based scalp crests that grow into shape. These structures are rigid, and do not "flop around" as some believe. Asari are said to have navels as well as breasts that continue to grow with age. Asari also have a robust cellular regenerative system; while they do not heal faster than other species, they are known to reach over 1000 years of age. This long lifespan is rivaled only by the krogan. Asari blood is purple.
There is some conflicting information regarding the gender of the asari. Asari are a mono-gendered species with no concept of gender differences. According to Liara, "male and female have no real meaning for us," and, if asked, says that she is "not precisely a woman." At the same time, asari are often viewed as an all-female race, including by the Codex and by the Galactic Codex: Essentials Edition 2183. To humans at least, asari appear female with breasts and voices that sound female. Even among the asari, individual asari are referred to using feminine pronouns like "she" and "her" instead of gender-neutral terms like "they" and "them." Asari also bear feminine titles like "huntress" and "matriarch" and asari offspring are usually referred to as "daughters."
However asari gender is defined, they are innately different from humans, for asari can mate and successfully reproduce with any other gender or species. Although they have one gender, they are not asexual and do in fact require a partner to reproduce. However, asari reproduction is very different from other forms of sexual reproduction. An asari provides two copies of her own genes to her offspring, one of which is passed on unaltered. The second set of genes is altered in a unique process called melding, also known as the joining. During melding, the eyes of the asari initiating the meld dilate as she consciously attunes her nervous system to her partner's, sending and receiving electrical impulses directly through the skin. A common phrase used before melding is "embrace eternity", presumably to help focus the partner's mind. Effectively, the asari and her partner briefly become one unified nervous system, sharing memories, thoughts, and feelings. The offspring is always an asari, regardless of the species or sex of the "father" and in the case that the offspring is of two asari, the father is the one who does not give birth.
Uniquely, the asari are known to be perceived as attractive to many other species. This may be because of shared physical characteristics (e.g., body shape for humans, skin color for salarians, head fringe for turians). Mordin Solus postulates that the mechanism behind the asari's cross-species attraction may be neurochemical in nature. The offspring resulting from such interspecies pairings are always asari as no DNA is taken from the partner. Instead, the asari uses the meld to explore her partner's genetic heritage and pass desirable traits on to any offspring and as a "map" to randomize the genes of the offspring. Additionally, pairings with krogan are not affected by the Genophage. As such, pairings with asari are sometimes seen as a way for a krogan to circumvent the Genophage and have children of their own.
The drawback to the asari means of reproduction are the Ardat-Yakshi. These individuals possess a rare genetic defect that causes an asari's mind to overwhelm and destroy her partner's mind when joining. The condition seems to appear only amongst pureblood asari, those whose parents are both asari.
It is also possible for an asari to meld with another for the sole purpose of transferring thoughts, without reproduction. The asari initiating the meld can both send and receive information. Liara melds with Commander Shepard several times for the purpose of viewing and helping understand the visions Shepard received from the Prothean beacon. Shiala later melds minds with Shepard for the purpose of "uploading" the Cipher into Shepard's mind in order to help the Commander understand the visions. Liara also states that the melding of minds is a sign of a deep connection between two individuals, something often reserved for friends and family members; it is also a way to say "farewell."
It is not clear whether ability to meld minds is present from birth or whether asari undergo some sort of puberty to gain it and, if so, when this occurs. When she first melds minds with Shepard, Liara is 106, quite young for an asari. By the time she is 42, Falere's Ardat-Yakshi condition had already come to light indicating she had attempted to meld at least once. Morinth's condition was also discovered by the time she was in her 40s.
Asari pass through three climacteric life stages, marked by biochemical and physiological changes:
The Maiden stage begins at puberty and is marked by the drive to explore and experience. Most young asari are curious and restless, and it is not uncommon for many to try their hand at dancing in bars or working as mercenaries during this time.
The Matron stage of life begins around the age of 350, though it can be triggered earlier if the individual melds frequently. This period is marked by a desire to settle in one area and raise children.
The Matriarch stage begins around 700 years of age, or earlier if the individual melds rarely. Matriarchs become active in their community as sages and councilors, dispensing wisdom from centuries of experience. Their knowledge and guidance may be one reason why Matriarchs are rarely seen outside asari space.
However, it should be noted that each stage can be started whenever an asari feels that she has reached the correct level of maturity. While each stage of life is marked by strong biological tendencies, individuals do make unexpected life choices. For example, there are Maidens who stay close to home rather than explore, Matrons who would rather work than build a family, and Matriarchs who have no interest in community affairs.
The asari arose on Thessia, a rich world with abundant quantities of element zero that caused much of life on Thessia to exhibit biotic tendencies. Instrumental to the rise of asari civilization was the intervention of the Protheans. Upon discovering the asari, the Protheans crafted the guise of Athame, a benevolent goddess who imparted gifts of wisdom to the asari through her guides Janiri and Lucen, a deception that allowed the Protheans to rapidly accelerate asari development. The Protheans also genetically altered the asari to grant them biotic capabilities, and defended Thessia from an asteroid strike and the resource-hungry oravores.
When the Protheans departed, they left a single beacon on Thessia, around which the asari later built a lavish temple devoted to Athame. This beacon contained Vendetta, a Prothean VI, and over the following centuries was the source of countless technological advances that allowed the asari to eventually become the most powerful race in the galaxy. The beacon's existence became a closely-held state secret, as its revelation would have discredited the virtually universal belief that the asari attained such heights on their own merit. By 2183 CE, few outside the highest echelons of the asari government were aware of the part the Protheans played in asari history.
The asari were the first contemporary race to achieve spaceflight and discover the mass relay network. When they found the Citadel in 580 BCE, the asari also encountered the keepers, whose mute assistance enabled them to quickly settle on the station and learn how to operate its systems. Sixty years later, the salarians made first contact with the asari, and together the two species agreed to found the Citadel Council in 500 BCE, a galactic governing body that would come to unite dozens of races. In later years, the asari continued to explore the galaxy and welcomed several other races to the burgeoning galactic community.
Asari commandos are feared by the rest of the Galaxy because of their expert use of their natural Biotic powers. However even they proved to be no match for the reapers when their full might was brought to bare on the Assari home world. About eighty percent of their population was killed in the war and the Asari home World is a shell of it's former self. The Asari did contribute to the building of the Crucible and send ships to the Battle for Earth, but since then they have largely withdrawn from Galatic politics, despite still having a seat on the Citadel Counsel.
The second species to join the Citadel, the salarians are warm-blooded amphibians native to the planet Sur'Kesh. Salarians possess a hyperactive metabolism; they think fast, talk fast, and move fast. To salarians, other species seem sluggish and dull-witted, especially the elcor. Unfortunately, their metabolic speed leaves them with a relatively short lifespan; salarians over the age of 40 are a rarity.
Salarians are known for their observational capability and non-linear thinking. This manifests as an aptitude for research and espionage. They are constantly experimenting and inventing, and it is generally accepted that they always know more than they are letting on.
The salarians are a bipedal race of amphibians, with tall, elongated bodies well-suited for their high metabolism, and skeletons composed of more cartilage than those of other races such as humans. Salarian heads are long and thin, and have a pair of horns protruding from the top of their skulls. Skin varies in color, from bright reds and greens to the more common shades of blue or grey. Their blood is a greenish color. Salarian eyes are large and oval and have thin membranes in place of eyelids. The pupils are a wide slit, oriented horizontally, and the irises can be dark green, purple, red, blue, or brown. Salarians blink upwards, rather than downwards as humans do.
Salarians are noted for their high-speed metabolism, which allows them to function on just one hour of sleep a day. Their minds and bodies work faster than most sapient races, making them seem restless or hyperactive. The drawback of this active metabolism is a short lifespan of around 40 human years.
The salarians are amphibian haplo-diploid egg-layers; unfertilized eggs produce males and fertilized eggs produce females. Once a year, a salarian female will lay a clutch of dozens of eggs. Social rules prevent all but a fraction from being fertilized. As a result, 90% of the species is male.
Salarians have photographic memories and rarely forget a fact. They also possess a form of psychological "imprinting", tending to defer to those they knew in their youth. Salarian hatching is a solemn ritual in which the clan Dalatrass (matriarch) isolates herself with the eggs. The young salarians psychologically imprint on her and tend to defer to her wishes. During the hatching of daughters, the Dalatrasses of the mother and father's clans are present at the imprinting. This ensures the offspring have equal loyalty to both, ensuring the desired dynastic and political unity.
Salarian sex drive and reproduction differ from that of humans, with Mordin Solus claiming that it is not hormone-based. Reproduction is more of a necessity and salarians do not seem to desire sex for pleasure. They are, however, attracted to the asari, and one salarian notes that "even humans find the Consort irresistible."
Salarians were already thriving on Sur'Kesh 50,000 years before, albeit in a thoroughly primitive state. According to Javik, the salarians of his time were classified as "lizard people". They used to eat flies, licked their eyes, and their body parts were considered delicacies. In addition to livers, salarian kidneys were apparently best served at room temperature, preferably with the salarian still alive, as its fear adds "spice".
Eventually, they progressed technologically to the point of colonizing planets beyond their own.
On their first three interstellar colonies, the salarians planted settlements named Aegohr, Mannovai, and Jaëto. According to Kirrahe, those settlements "remain at the heart of salarian territory to this day".
The salarians were the second species to discover the Citadel, only a few decades after the asari. They opened diplomatic relations at once and became one of the founding species of the Citadel Council. In a gesture of trust, the salarians opened the records of one of their intelligence services, the League of One, but this quickly created problems when the League's members found themselves in danger as a result. The League slaughtered the entire Union inner cabinet, but were later hunted down, leaving only relics behind.
The salarians also played a significant role in the advancement of the krogan species. The salarians provided the krogan with advanced technology and a new, tranquil home planet (in order to manipulate the krogan into eradicating the rachni for the Council). The peaceful home planet and better technology put less strain on the krogan as a species; they no longer had to worry about simply surviving on a dangerous planet with primitive technology, as they did before contact with the salarians. This comparatively easy life, combined with their exceedingly high birth rate, allowed the krogan the time, numbers, and energy to spread through Citadel space, aggressively claiming formerly allied planets as their own. In order to end these "Krogan Rebellions," the salarians then provided the turians with the genophage, a biological weapon that effectively sterilized the krogan, resulting in almost all krogan pregnancies ending in stillbirth.
Though their military is nothing special, salarians are currently seen as the premier intelligence and information-gathering arm of the Council. As such, they are well respected, but some races, including a few humans, see the salarians as manipulators.
The salarians see information gathering and even spying as a matter of course when dealing with other races, but this is not underhanded: they simply embrace the dictum of "knowledge is power". Alliance counterintelligence agencies are constantly uncovering salarian agents and cyber-warfare incursions, but there is little they can do to stop them. As a salarian information broker once told David Anderson, "Your species has been transmitting data across the extranet for less than a decade. My species has been directing the primary espionage and intelligence operations for the Council for two thousand years."
Due to their method of reproduction, salarians have no concept of romantic love, sexual attraction, or the biological impulses and social rituals that complicate other species' lives. Male-female relationships are rare (due to the scarcity of females) and more akin to human friendship. Sexuality is strictly for the purpose of reproduction. Ancient social codes determine who gets to fertilize eggs, which produces more daughters to continue the bloodline. Fertilization generally only occurs after months of negotiation between the parents' clans, and is done for purposes of political and dynastic alliance. No salarian would imagine defying this code.
The unquestioned superiority of their intelligence services allows them to use their small military to maximum effectiveness. Well before fighting breaks out, they possess complete knowledge of their enemy's positions, intentions, and timetable. Their powerful intelligence network is spearheaded in the field by the Special Tasks Group (STG), which is responsible for monitoring developing situations and taking necessary action, usually without the shackles of traditional laws and procedures. This may be as simple as scouting and information gathering, or as complex as ensuring a conveniently unstable political situation stays that way. The effectiveness of the STG during the Krogan Rebellion is what provided the template for the Council to establish their Spectre program immediately afterward.
Biotics are virtually unknown in the salarian military. Those with such abilities are considered too valuable to be used as cannon fodder and are assigned to the intelligence services.
While capable of defending themselves against most threats, the salarians know that they are small fish in a universe filled with sharks. As a point of survival, they have cultivated strong alliances with larger powers, particularly with the turians. Though the relationship between the two species was rocky at first due to the krogan uplift fiasco, the salarians take pains to keep this relationship strong enough that anyone who might threaten them risks turian intervention.
The salarian navy has sixteen dreadnoughts, which is considerably less than the maximum they are allowed to build under the Treaty of Farixen. This slowdown in dreadnought production was a consequence of the increasing complexity of the salarians' designs. After covertly obtaining and researching stealth technology used by the SSV Normandy and Normandy SR-2, the salarians were able to produce dreadnoughts with stealth capabilities, a previously unthinkable feat. Salarian dedication to adopting bleeding-edge technology is also demonstrated by their ships' costly armament. Warships are equipped with the latest GARDIAN defense systems and utilize ultraviolet antiship lasers, which are more expensive and energy demanding than standard infrared lasers, but more effective. Even salarian scouting flotillas are armed with hull-mounted Thanix cannons.
A Solarian by the name of Mordan Solis worked with Shepard to cure the Genophage that the Solarians had inflicted on the Krogan in order to bring them into the Reaper War. Mordan lost his life in the attempt but the Genophage was cured and the Krogan did enter the war. However after this the Salarians choose not to assist with the building of the Crucible and they didn't contribute any ships to the fleet that fought in the Battle for Earth. They came out of the war the strongest of all the counsel races but they are not trusted by the other races, in particular the ever expanding Krogan. They also lack the numbers to impose their will on other races so they are forced to settle for being one among equals instead of the leaders of the Counsel many Salarians believe they should be.
Known for their militaristic and disciplined culture, the turians were the third race to join the Citadel Council. They gained their Council seat after defeating the hostile krogan for the Council during the Krogan Rebellions. The turians deployed a salarian-created biological weapon called the genophage, which virtually sterilised the krogan and sent them into a decline. The turians then filled the peacekeeping niche left by the once-cooperative krogan, and eventually gained a Council seat in recognition of their efforts.
Originally from the planet Palaven, turians are best known for their military role, particularly their contributions of soldiers and starships to the Citadel Fleet. They are respected for their public service ethic—it was the turians who first proposed creating C-Sec—but are sometimes seen as imperialist or rigid by other races. There is some animosity between turians and humans, largely due to the turian role in the First Contact War. This bitterness is slowly beginning to heal—as shown by the cooperation of the two races on the construction of the SSV Normandy—but many turians still resent humans, and vice versa.
Turians typically stand over six feet tall, have two long, proportionately thick fingers and an opposable thumb on each hand, each tipped with talons, and a set of mandibles around their mouths. The most distinguishing feature of turians is their metallic carapace, which contains trace amounts of thulium. The turians evolved this trait as a defense against the greater levels of solar radiation that penetrate their homeworld's weak magnetic field.
Turian features are avian, making them resemble humanoid birds or raptors, however unlike most Earth avian creatures, turians are viviparous and give birth to live young. In 2165, David Anderson claimed that turians reminded him of the evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs. Turians are also recognisable by their voices, which have a distinctive flanging effect. Males and females do not differ greatly in physical appearance, but female turians lack the crest of horns found in the males of the race. The lifespan of a turian is comparable to that of a human.
Turians exhibit the characteristics of predators rather than those of prey species (compare to krogan biology). Their forward-facing alert eyes give the impression that they possess outstanding eyesight and their teeth and jaws mimic the structures possessed by apex predators such as crocodiles or ancient, carnivorous dinosaurs. Needless to say, their talons on both their feet and hands seem capable of ripping flesh. As such, their diet is primarily meat-based. Their slender bodies also seem to suggest that they are also capable of moving at high speeds.
The turian homeworld, Palaven, has a metal-poor core, generating a weak magnetic field and allowing more solar radiation into the atmosphere. To deal with this, most forms of life on Palaven evolved some form of metallic "exoskeleton" to protect themselves. Their reflective plate-like skin makes turians less susceptible to long-term, low-level radiation exposure, but they do not possess any sort of "natural armor". A turian's thick skin does not stop projectiles and directed energy bolts. Turian blood has a dark blue colouration.
Although life on Palaven is carbon-based and oxygen-breathing, it is built on dextro-amino acids. This places the turians in a distinct minority on the galactic stage; the quarians are the only other sapient dextro-protein race. The food of humans, asari, or salarians (who evolved in levo-amino acid-based biospheres), will at best pass through turian systems without providing any nutrition. At worst, it will trigger an allergic reaction that can be fatal if not immediately treated. The turian mechanic Lilihierax on Noveria uses the idiom, "if you can polish enough gizzard". This suggests that the turians have a digestive system similar to birds and reptiles on Earth, some of whom swallow stones to help break down harder foods in the stomach.
In the midst of the Krogan Rebellions, the Citadel Council made first contact with the turians. At the Council's behest, the turians brought their considerable war machine to bear on the krogan, now a recognized threat. While the initial turian offensive was successful in routing many krogan warrior bands, it provoked a massive counterattack from the krogan which devastated several turian colonies. Three turian worlds were rendered completely uninhabitable after the krogan used fusion torches to throw asteroids at them, and the bloodiest battle in turian history occurred at Digeris, where the planet was severely bombarded and the turians sacrificed many frigates and fighters to take out a fleet of krogan dreadnoughts. Rather than scaring off the turians with this show of force, the turians only fought with more resolve to quash the krogan utterly. Eventually, the turians implemented the salarian-developed genophage. With their advantage in numbers removed, the majority of krogan were subdued by 800 CE, although scattered insurgent actions would continue for decades.
By 900 CE, the turians were granted full membership on the Citadel Council in gratitude for their service during the Krogan Rebellions. The turian military fills the military and peacekeeping niche left by the decimated krogan.
In 2157 CE, following Council laws in place since the Rachni Wars which prohibited the activation of uncharted mass relays, a turian force opened fire on explorers from an as yet unknown race: humanity. One human starship managed to escape and warn the Systems Alliance, which retaliated and destroyed several turian vessels. The situation quickly escalated to war.
Over the next several weeks, the outnumbered Alliance lost multiple scouting parties and patrols to turian offensives. The conflict came to a head when a turian fleet broke through Alliance lines and besieged the human colony of Shanxi. With no other options, the Alliance garrison on Shanxi surrendered, and the turians proceeded to occupy the world, confident that the majority of Alliance forces had been defeated. However, one month later the Alliance's Second Fleet caught the turian occupiers by surprise and evicted them from the planet. Both sides began preparations for a protracted interplanetary war.
Before that could happen, the Citadel Council intervened and revealed the galactic community to humanity. Terms of peace were negotiated and the conflict effectively brought to an end. The turians were ordered by the Council to give heavy reparations to the Alliance for their part in instigating the conflict, known to the galaxy as the "Relay 314 Incident". Mistrust between both races would linger for years to come.
During the Reaper invasion in 2186, the turian colony of Taetrus is one of the first worlds the Reapers attack following their conquest of Khar'shan and Earth. The Turian Hierarchy made two attempts to liberate Taetrus, but were unsuccessful. As the Reapers began to pour into the Trebia system and assault Palaven, they broadcasted images of Taetrus's destruction to the turian comm buoy network.
The Reapers met with heavy resistance from the turians during their invasion of Palaven and Menae; much of the turian fleet remained operable after the Reapers' initial assault, and the turian citizenry was heavily armed and capable of supporting turian troops. Although the Hierarchy maintained that Palaven had not fallen and the battle for it continued, the Reapers nonetheless made significant gains and turian casualties rapidly mounted.
Relief came with the help of an unlikely ally: the krogan, who had agreed to join the war once the genophage was cured. The combined turian and krogan counterattack caught the Reapers off-guard. While the Reaper fleet orbiting Palaven was distracted by an apparent turian offensive, transport craft carrying krogan reinforcements landed on Palaven and coordinated with turian resistance forces, handing over warp bombs and fission weapons. These weapons were smuggled aboard Reaper processor ships and detonated simultaneously across the globe, allowing large swathes of territory to be retaken. News of the victory gave a much-needed boost to the morale of the turian resistance and the galactic public, but it was not long before the Reapers retaliated.
Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, Primarch Victus ordered the remaining turian warships to withdraw from the Trebia system in order to participate in the Allied assault on Earth. The only way to end the war was to activate the Crucible, and doing so required the Citadel, which the Reapers had moved to Earth orbit for safekeeping. Turian forces heroically assisted in the space and ground battles, while Commander Shepard reached the Citadel to trigger the Crucible.
Despite their weakened state the Turian military is still a force to be reckoned with and the respect other races have for them still gives them some power on the counsel. The Turians are led by Primarch Victus and while he is a personal friend of Shepard's, Turian politics dictate that he can not been seen giving in too much to any aliens, even allies. This has led to a complicated relationship between the two friends.
The krogan are a species of large reptilian bipeds native to the planet Tuchanka, a world known for its harsh environments, scarce resources, and overabundance of vicious predators. The krogan managed to not only survive on their unforgiving homeworld, but actually thrived in the extreme conditions. Unfortunately, as krogan society became more technologically advanced, so did their weaponry. The end result is that they destroyed their homeworld in a nuclear war that reduced their race into primitive warring tribes.
With the help of the salarians, the krogan were "uplifted" into galactic society, and lent their numbers and military prowess to bring an end to the Rachni Wars. Ironically, after the rachni were eradicated, the rapidly-expanding krogan became a threat to the galaxy in turn, starting the Krogan Rebellions and forcing the turians to unleash the genophage. This genetic "infection" dramatically reduced fertility in krogan females, causing a severe drop in births secondary to prenatal and postnatal death and, ultimately, population, eliminating the krogan numerical advantage.
Due to the brutality of their surroundings, natural selection has played a significant role in the evolution of the krogan. Unlike most sentient species, krogan eyes are wide-set - on Earth, this is common among prey animals, and in this case it gives the krogan 240-degree vision, giving them greater visual acuity and awareness of approaching predators. Krogan eyes have narrow pupils. Their irises may be red, green, amber, or blue in color.
Prior to the genophage, krogan could reproduce and mature at an astonishing rate. Females are known to produce clutches of up to 1,000 fertilized eggs over the course of a year. In present conditions, according to EDI, the odds of a krogan successfully giving birth to two females stand at 1 in 2,000.
Their large shoulder humps store fluids and nutrients, enabling them to survive extended periods without food or water. A bigger shoulder hump is seen as a sign of high status, showing how successful an individual krogan is at hunting. Their thick hides are virtually impervious to cuts, scrapes or contusions, and they are highly resistant to environmental hazards, including toxins, radiation, and extreme heat and cold. Consequently their diets can include food and drink which would prove very dangerous to other species—a fact reflected in the krogan liquor of choice, ryncol, which is said to "hit aliens like ground glass". Younger krogan have yellow or green markings on their hides. These markings darken to brown or tan over time, showing their age.
Krogan typically stand over 7 feet. Heavy creatures, krogan have been known to weigh at least 150 kilos, upwards of nearly 200 kilos for above-average specimens, and counting guesses by non-krogan observers even estimates of 800 pounds are made. Biotic individuals are rare, though those who do possess the talent typically have strong abilities.
The most amazing physiological feature of krogan biology is the multiple instances of major organs. These secondary (and where applicable, tertiary) systems are capable of serving as back-ups in the event of damage to the primary biological structures. They have, for example, two hearts, four lungs, and four testicles. This reflects in their slang, where they often speak about a "quad" where a human would use the words "balls" or "pair". Krogan also have a secondary nervous system using a neuroconductive fluid, meaning they are almost impossible to paralyze. Krogan bleed a yellow or orange fluid when shot, which may be this fluid or actual blood.
Aside from redundant systems, the legendary krogan "blood rage" adds to the race's reputation for being notoriously difficult to kill or incapacitate in normal combat scenarios. In this state, krogan become totally unresponsive to pain and will fight to the death regardless of injury level, with the side effect of reducing their capacity for logic and self-control.
Sheer physical hardiness means an individual krogan can expect to live for centuries. Krogan can live for well over a thousand years, as evidenced by Warlord Okeer, a veteran of the Krogan Rebellions who died (of decidedly unnatural causes) well over a thousand years after the Rebellions ended.
Despite their natural propensity for toughness, krogan do have physical weaknesses. According to Zaeed Massani, if one lodges a knife at a certain spot near the frontal plate on a krogan's head, the plate can be ripped off. It is apparently the one thing krogan do fear.
Ancient krogan society was once rich with cultural, architectural, and artistic accomplishments. However, the krogan birth rate exploded despite the natural limits of their predatory homeworld once they achieved industrialization. Technology made life "too easy" for them, so when they looked for new challenges they found those in each other. Wars were fought over dwindling resources as the krogan expanded.
Four thousand years ago, at the dawn of the krogan nuclear age, battles to claim the small pockets of territory capable of sustaining life escalated into full scale global war. Weapons of mass destruction were unleashed, transforming Tuchanka into a radioactive wasteland. The krogan were reduced to primitive warring clans struggling to survive a nuclear winter of their own creation, a state that continued until they were discovered by the salarians two thousand years later.
The krogan were liberated from their primitive state by the salarians, who "culturally uplifted" the race by giving them advanced technology and relocating them to a planet not cursed with lethal levels of radiation, toxins or deadly predators. The salarians even gave the krogan the means to stabilize Tuchanka's atmosphere by means of the Shroud.
But the salarian intervention was not without an ulterior motive. At the time the Citadel was engaged in a prolonged galactic war with the rachni, a race of intelligent space-faring insects. The salarians hoped the krogan would join the Citadel forces as soldiers to stand against an otherwise unstoppable foe. The plan worked to perfection: within two generations the rapidly breeding krogan had the numbers not only to drive back the advancing rachni, but the ability to endure the harsh conditions of the rachni worlds. They were able to pursue them to their home worlds, find the rachni queens, and eradicate the entire species.
For a brief period the krogan were hailed as the saviors of the galaxy and were given not only the conquered rachni worlds but other planets in Citadel space to colonise, in gratitude for their help. The Citadel Council even commissioned a statue for the Presidium—the Krogan Monument—to honor the krogan soldiers who died defending Citadel space.
But without the harsh conditions of Tuchanka to keep their numbers in check, the krogan population swelled to unprecedented numbers. Overcrowded and running out of resources, the krogan spread out to forcibly claim other worlds—worlds already inhabited by races loyal to the Citadel. There was always "just one more world" needed. The final straw was when the krogan began settling the asari colony of Lusia. When the Council ordered them to leave, Overlord Kredak, the krogan ambassador, stormed out of the Chambers, daring the Citadel races to take their worlds back. War broke out soon afterward.
The resultant Krogan Rebellions continued for nearly three centuries. The krogan sustained massive casualties, but their incredible birth rate kept their population steadily increasing. Victory seemed inevitable. In desperation, the Council turned to the recently discovered Turian Hierarchy for aid. The turians unleashed the genophage on the krogan home worlds: a terrifying bio-weapon engineered by the salarians. The genophage caused near total infant mortality in the krogan species, with only 1 birth in every 1000 producing live offspring.
No longer able to replenish their numbers, the krogan were forced to accept terms of surrender. For their role in quelling the Krogan Rebellions, the turians were rewarded with a seat on the Citadel Council. The krogan, on the other hand, still suffer from the incurable effects of the genophage.
Over the last millennium krogan numbers have steadily declined, leaving them a scattered and dying people. Some try bizarre treatments for the genophage, including testicle transplants. But, faced with the certainty of their extinction as a species, most krogan have become individualistic and completely self-interested. They typically serve as mercenaries for hire to the highest bidder, though many still resent and despise the Citadel races that condemned them to their tragic fate. Wrex comments disdainfully that clubs, bars and brothels often try to hire krogan bouncers, reducing his people to some kind of status symbol.
After the Genophage was cured the Krogan joined the war against the Reapers and sent troops to every battlefront, including earth. This did much to raise their standing in the galactic community, but many other races are still afraid of what Krogan expansion may mean for the rest of the Galaxy, the Krogans didn't even wait for the war to end before moving into colonies other races had abandoned on their borders. Urgnot Wrex, Leader of the newly united Krogan does his best to keep the peace but with their numbers increasing, their war like nature, and the fact that they were the only race to come out of the Reaper War stronger then they were before the war, it remains to be seen if peace can be maintained.
The hanar are a species resembling Earth's jellyfish and are one of the few non-bipedal Citadel races. Hanar are known for their intense politeness when speaking, and their strong religious beliefs regarding the Protheans, whom they refer to as "the Enkindlers".
They have always been a minor power and when it became known that The Collectors were in fact Protheans who had been converted into slaves by the Reapers, many Hanar began to worship the Reapers and refused to take any part in the war. Since then they have closed themselves off to outside races and have had no contact with the Counsel.
The drell are a reptile-like race that were rescued from their dying homeworld by the hanar following first contact between the two. Since then, the drell have remained loyal to the hanar for their camaraderie and have fit comfortably into galactic civilization.
Drell are omnivorous reptile-like humanoids with an average lifespan of 85 galactic standard years. Drell appearance is very similar to asari and humans, but their muscle tissue is slightly denser, giving them a wiry strength. They appear to have five fingers on each hand, albeit the ring and middle fingers are fused. Their skin is apparently infused with a venom mild enough to be served in drinks, and may cause mild hallucinations on "oral contact". They also have two sets of eyelids, akin to the nictitating membrane possessed by certain animals such as reptiles. The inner lid is milky-white and closes from the left and right, while the outer lid is black and closes from top and bottom. Much like humans or asari, drell possess the ability to shed tears.
Sexual dimorphism among drell appears to be roughly analogous to humans. Females have breastlike protrusions, and their head "frills" are more pronounced than males'.
Because the drell ancestors emerged from arid, rocky deserts, the humid, ocean-covered hanar homeworld of Kahje proved tolerable only when the drell stayed inside a climate-controlled dome city. The leading cause of death for drell on Kahje is Kepral's Syndrome, caused by cumulative long-term exposure to a humid climate. This syndrome erodes the ability of drell lungs to take in oxygen, and eventually spreads out to other organs. It is noncommunicable, and there is currently no known cure, though leading hanar scientific authorities are working on creating a genetic adaptation.
The drell possess eidetic memory, an adaptation to a world where they must remember the location of every necessary resource (vegetation, drinkable water and prey migration paths) across vast distances. The memories are so strong that an external stimulus can trigger a powerful memory recall. These recalls are so vivid and detailed that some drell may mistake it for reality. Thane Krios, for example, remembers every assassination he has ever performed and can describe them in flawless detail, and says he prefers to spend a lonely night with the perfect memory of another. This process can be involuntary.
The drell ancestors emerged from dry, rocky deserts on the barren world of Rakhana. Eight centuries ago, the already-arid drell homeworld began its swift descent into lifelessness due to disastrous industrial expansion. At the time, the drell lacked interstellar flight capacity, and with their population bursting at eleven billion, they faced certain doom.
It was around the 1980s CE that the hanar made first contact with the drell race. In the following ten years, the hanar would transport a total of 375,000 drell to the hanar homeworld, Kahje. The remaining billions left on Rakhana would perish on their dying planet, warring against each other for diminishing resources. The drell now thrive co-existing with the hanar and have been a part of galactic civilization for roughly two centuries.
The debt of gratitude that the drell owe the hanar is referred to as the Compact, which the drell fulfill by taking on tasks that the hanar find difficult, such as combat. Any drell may refuse to serve, but as being requested to serve is a great honor, few turn down the offer.
Most drell are content to live on Kahje. They are afforded every opportunity to thrive by the hanar, yet some outsiders and even some hanar regard the drell as second class citizens. However it is quite the opposite, they have integrated themselves into every level of hanar society as respected, productive citizens.
Those who leave Kahje tend to be adventurers. These solitary drell travelers often seek out new species elsewhere, and in turn adopt that species' culture. Such drell number in the thousands, and are scattered across the galaxy, tending towards quiet, integrated lives.
Some drell grow a close, personal relationship with the hanar. So much so that the hanar will even tell the drell their "Soul Name". Drell have adapted to communication with hanar by getting implants in their eyes to allow them to observe the bioluminescence the hanar use for communication. Drell such as Thane are able to see ultraviolet light as a silvery color, though might lose differentiation between colors at the opposite end of the spectrum, such as the difference between dark red and black.
Most drell are deeply religious, believing that they have souls separate from their bodies. They see death as a departure from the body, and they also state that a person's body and soul form a Whole. When the soul is traumatized or otherwise disrupted, or the body is ill or injured, a person is no longer Whole. They also believe that their body can be directed as a separate entity from themselves, in the case of Thane Krios taking no responsibility for his numerous killings, which were ordered by the hanar.
The drell religion is also polytheistic, with the drell having multiple gods whom they pray to in varying situations. This religion include at least three gods: Amonkira, Lord of Hunters; Arashu, Goddess of Motherhood and Protection; and Kalahira, Goddess of Oceans and Afterlife.
Many of the older traditions of the drell have begun to die out. The younger generations no longer believe the old ways of their ancestors can help them now, with so many other ways to interpret one's place in the universe. Many drell have embraced the hanar Enkindlers or the asari philosophies.
Despite their close ties with the Hanar Drell did fight in the Reaper war and they have maintained contact with the Counsel since the Reaper War. However since they lack a home world of their own their standing among the races of the Galaxy is shaky at best.
The volus are an associate race on the Citadel with their own embassy, but are also a client race of the turians. They hail from Irune, which possesses a high-pressure greenhouse atmosphere able to support an ammonia-based biochemistry. As a result, the volus must wear pressure suits and breathers when dealing with other species.
Because they are not physically adept compared to most species, volus mostly make their influence felt through trade and commerce, and they have a long history on the Citadel. However, they have never been invited to join the Council, which is a sore point for many volus individuals.
The volus homeworld Irune features an ammonia-based ecology and a gravitational field 1.5 times that of Earth, as well as a high-pressure atmosphere. This is reflected in the physiology of the volus themselves. The volus are unable to survive unprotected in an atmosphere more suitable to humans and other carbon-based lifeforms, and as such require protective suits capable of providing the proper atmosphere, as well as being pressurized to support the volus. Traditional nitrogen/oxygen air mixtures are poisonous to them, and in the low pressure atmospheres tolerable to most species, their flesh will actually split open.
As the volus are never seen outside of their protective suits, little else is known about their appearance and physiology. It has been noted; however, that volus have cloacae, a trait they share with the salarians. Some volus individuals have also shown themselves capable of using biotics.
The volus were the third race to post an embassy to the Citadel after the asari and salarians, roughly 2,384 galactic standard years ago (according to Citadel records accessed through Avina, outside the Embassies). The volus' mercantile prowess made them instrumental in developing a stable galactic economy. They authored the Unified Banking Act, which established the credit as the standard currency of interstellar trade, and the volus continue to monitor and balance the galactic economy even today. After first contact with the turians during the Krogan Rebellions in the first millennium CE, the volus petitioned for client status within the Turian Hierarchy.
Volus culture is dominated by trade, whether it be of land, resources, or even other tribe members. The volus have a reputation as traders and merchants, and many, such as Barla Von, work as some of the best financial advisers in Citadel space. Due to the volus not being physically adept, they tend not to be violent, and can even seem overly-pacifistic and cowardly to other, more militant species. The volus homeworld Irune is remarkable for having done away with warfare as an institution of the state, as the volus lack the romantic view of war found in the galaxy's more aggressive species. Physical skirmishes between groups rarely last long, and are almost always ended by social castigation, bargaining agreements, or harsh economic sanctions.
The volus hold in high regard an artifact called the Book of Plenix, which calls for charity and forgiveness of debts in case the volus do become involved in war. The artifact's last known location is on their homeworld Irune during the onset of the Reaper War in 2186.
Volus have two names but no family names. According to volus sensibilities you cannot own a person, so using a family name would essentially be laying claim to their offspring. Possibly because of their tribal origins, volus tend to refer to members of other races by their source world rather than species name (i.e. "Earth-clan" instead of "human"). A notable exception to this is that they refer to quarians as "Migrant-clan", or "clanless", due to their lack of a homeworld. They also tend to refer to themselves as "Vol-clan".
The volus government is known as the Vol Protectorate. Rather than being a fully sovereign government in its own right, the Protectorate is a client state of the Turian Hierarchy. In return for falling under the protective umbrella of the turian military, the volus pay a tax to the Hierarchy, as well as deferring to the turians in all foreign policy matters and providing auxiliary troops to the turian armed forces. They still maintain an embassy on the Citadel, making them an associate species of the Council, though they currently share their embassy with the elcor.
The Volus contributed both ships and intel to the war effort against the Reapers and they harbor hopes that this will result in their finally being offered the chance to become members of the Citadel Counsel.
The elcor are a Citadel species native to the high-gravity world Dekuuna. They are massive creatures, standing on four muscular legs for increased stability. Elcor move slowly, an evolved response to an environment where a fall can be lethal. This has colored their psychology, making them deliberate and conservative.
Elcor evolved on a high-gravity world, making them slow, but incredibly strong. Their large, heavy bodies are incapable of moving quickly, but they possess a rather imposing stature and immense strength, as well as thick, tough skin. They move using all four limbs to support and balance their massive bodies. Given their method of communication, they likely have highly-attuned olfactory senses.
Elcor "lips" are multiple vertical slats situated in what is normally the location of the mouth in other races. Despite the peculiar arrangement, these "lips" are capable of holding on to protruding objects like cigars with no effort.
Elcor speech is heard by most species as a flat, ponderous monotone. Among themselves, scent, extremely slight body movements, and subvocalized infrasound convey shades of meaning that make a human smile seem as subtle as a fireworks display. Since their subtlety can lead to misunderstandings with other species, the elcor prefix all their dialog with non-elcor with an emotive statement to clarify their tone.
The Elcor home world was invaded during the Reaper war and many of their people were lost, never the less they did contribute heavy troops to the ground war and their planet was never completely conquered by the Reapers.
The Reapers are a highly-advanced machine race of synthetic-organic starships. The Reapers reside in dark space: the vast, mostly starless space between galaxies. They hibernate there, dormant for fifty thousand years at a time, before returning to the galaxy.
These giant machines are ancient; their true name is unknown. "Reapers" was a name bestowed by the Protheans, the previous galactic power fifty thousand years before, and the geth refer to them as the Old Machines. In the end, the Reapers spare little concern for whatever labels other races choose to call them, and merely claim that they have neither beginning nor end.
The Reapers are the original creators of the Citadel and the mass relay network. These massive constructs exist so that any intelligent life in the galaxy would eventually discover them and base their technology upon them – all part of a scheme to harvest the galaxy's sentient life in a repeating cycle of purges that has continued relentlessly over countless millennia.
A Reaper is essentially "billions of organic minds, uploaded and conjoined within immortal machine bodies."
In terms of physical design, Reapers bear superficial resemblance to a cuttlefish or squid, with a bulky semi-cylindrical body, a tapering plate over the rear and five tentacle-like "legs" or arms extending from its front end, in addition to six jointed legs extending from its body. The rear-most of the larger legs have crescent-shaped extensions. Colossal in size, Reapers are known to range from 160 meters to over 2 kilometers in length.
The core of any Reaper is constructed in the image of the species that was harvested to create it, while the exterior follows a standardized design that is most efficient for their purpose. When the Reaper fleet is revealed in dark space, they are shown to all share the same basic design, but with great diversity in limb number, shape and orientation, some with extended heads and others having multiple glowing lights. This may illustrate the variety of Reaper subtypes, as it is revealed during the Reaper invasion of the galaxy that several different varieties of Reaper exist.
It is unknown why Reapers will appear at certain points of history to destroy galactic civilization, the leading theories are that they either do it it order to make sure no other races can become as advanced as they are, or they harvest other races to create new Reapers. The only thing that is sure is that they can not be reasoned with and for some reason they leave non space fairing races alone. This may be to ensure that there will be a new crop of space fairing people for them to harvest tens of thousands of years in the future.
The Reaper war lasted only one year but it left untold billions dead, they were the greatest threat the galaxy had ever faced.
The Protheans are an ancient alien race which mysteriously vanished over 50,000 years ago. The Protheans arose from a single planet and developed an immense galaxy-wide empire encompassing many other spacefaring species. Not much is known about them, but many of their artifacts, ruins and technology have apparently survived the ages.
The Protheans have been credited with creating the Citadel and the mass relays, feats of engineering that have never been equaled and whose core mass effect field technology forms the basis of contemporary civilization. Prothean artifacts, therefore, have immense scientific value and are seen to belong to the whole galactic community.
Very little is known about the origins of the Prothean race; even the name and location of their homeworld has been lost to history. It is unknown precisely when Prothean civilization arose and how long it persisted, but one of their communication devices discovered on the planet Fehl Prime has been dated to as early as 68,000 BCE.
After achieving spaceflight, the Protheans discovered the ruins of a previous spacefaring race, the inusannon, and from those ruins learned about mass effect physics and developed FTL technology. The Protheans would expand throughout the galaxy with the help of the mass relay network and make the Citadel their capital.
Early in their development, the Protheans encountered a hostile machine intelligence which threatened to overwhelm them. To defeat the machines, the Protheans decided to unite all of the galaxy's sentient organic life under their empire. The other organic races were free to resist, but those that tried were crushed, and none ever managed to best the Protheans' might. In time, each of the subjugated races assimilated into Prothean culture and came to think of themselves as Prothean. United under a single cause, the Prothean Empire successfully held off the enemy machines in a conflict known as the "Metacon War".
The Protheans extensively observed primitive species such as the asari, hanar, humans, quarians, salarians, and turians during their time. They cultivated species they deemed to have potential. Numerous outposts were placed on or near the primitives' homeworlds, with Prothean interference and activities kept beyond their subjects' comprehension. In time, the Protheans would have given these primitives the choice to be part of their empire.
The Protheans' belief that they could hold their own against machine intelligence was shattered with the arrival of the Reapers in approximately 48,000 BCE, who were far more advanced than the machines the Protheans had been battling. They were caught completely off-guard by the scale and rapidity of the assault. The Reapers entered the galaxy through the Citadel, instantly decapitating the Protheans' government and disrupting the mass relay network, isolating Prothean systems from one another. Worse, records on the Citadel provided the Reapers with access to all of the Protheans' census data and star charts, allowing them to effectively track every Prothean in the galaxy.
The Protheans' greatest strength, their unified empire, proved to be their downfall. As the Protheans were united under the leadership of a single governing species with a series of subordinate races, the Reapers were able to quickly undermine the Prothean hierarchy and cause Prothean forces to become scattered when their ruling body had been compromised. In addition, as all the races within the Empire conformed to a single military doctrine, they proved unable to adapt when the Reapers identified and exploited their weaknesses.
While their domain crumbled, the Protheans were powerless to defend other races from the Reapers' predations. They ceased all study of primitive species in the hope that the Reapers would deem them too primitive for harvest. It was hoped that some Protheans would survive the Reapers' purge and go on to unite these species to create a new empire. The Protheans' primitive subjects survived and went on to become the present cycle's dominant ones. Other races subjugated under them, however, weren't as lucky.
The densorin, a race who had mastered sciences beyond even the Protheans' understanding, attempted to pacify the Reapers by sacrificing their children to them, but this only allowed the Reapers to destroy them more quickly. The zha'til, symbiotic AIs that had been created by a race called the zha to keep themselves alive on their dying homeworld, were subjugated by the Reapers and formed hostile mechanical swarms. They became such a threat that the Protheans were forced to obliterate the zha'til entirely by sending the star of the zha's home system into supernova.
Over the next several centuries, the Protheans fought the Reapers from system to system, world to world, and city to city. If necessary, whole colonies were sacrificed and abandoned to the Reapers; while the Reapers concentrated on subsuming the inhabitants of those colonies, the Protheans had time to regroup. In the long run, however, this strategy was extremely costly, depriving the remaining Protheans of whatever infrastructure and manpower they had given up. Inexorably, the Reapers conquered, enslaved, or destroyed Prothean-controlled planets. Growing desperate, some Protheans made repeated offers of surrender to the Reapers, but these were always met with silence.
In addition to the overt threat of the Reapers, the Protheans had to increasingly deal with enemies from within their own ranks. Indoctrinated Protheans acted as sleeper agents for the Reapers, infiltrating and swiftly betraying their own kind and revealing the Protheans' dwindling hiding places and carefully-laid plans to survive the destruction.
At some point the Protheans learned of the cycles of galactic destruction through studying the ruins of other extinguished civilizations. Plans for the Crucible, which was based on designs left behind by previous civilizations, were discovered, and the Protheans set about to building one of their own. In the course of the Crucible's construction, some Protheans came to believe that the Reapers could be controlled with the device, but inevitably fell prey to indoctrination as well in their attempts to harness Reaper technology. They sabotaged the Crucible, robbing the Protheans of their last hope to defeat the Reapers.
After centuries of careful, systematic work, the Reapers had killed or enslaved every Prothean in the galaxy, and stripped their worlds of resources. Removing all traces of their presence, the Reapers then retreated through the Citadel into dark space and sealed it behind them.
As thorough as they were, however, the Reapers had overlooked a single world. The Conduit research team on Ilos, of which all records were destroyed in the initial attack on the Citadel, survived the first wave of destruction. The facility went dark in order to avoid detection and the staff agreed to go into stasis, hoping the danger would soon pass. Vigil, a VI, was assigned to watch over these Protheans in cryogenic stasis until the Reapers had gone, then wake the staff so they could begin to rebuild. But as the centuries passed and the Reapers persisted in their genocide of the Protheans, Vigil's power supplies began running low, and the cryo pods were in danger of failing.
Following contingency planning, Vigil began cutting power to the pods of non-essential staff to conserve energy. When the Reapers finally withdrew through the Citadel relay, only the top researchers — a dozen individuals — were left. Vigil woke them, and the scientists pieced together what had happened.
They soon realised the situation was dire. Without sufficient numbers to sustain a viable population, the Prothean species was doomed. Desperate for contact with others of their kind, a carefully-coded signal was sent to the beacons on other planets. Though it was unlikely there were other survivors, the scientists thought it was worth the risk to try reaching them. The signal not only contained a warning of the Reaper invasion, but a description of Ilos itself, to give them hope.
The surviving Prothean scientists knew that rescue was unlikely. Instead, they chose to protect the races they had been studying, spared destruction due to their lack of advancement, and began working out where the Reapers had come from, and how. After decades of study, they worked out the connection between the Reapers, the Citadel, and the keepers, and discovered a way to interfere with the signal that compels the keepers to activate the Citadel relay. Using the Conduit, the Prothean scientists left Ilos, travelled to the Citadel and altered this signal. Their intention was to prevent the Reapers from opening the Citadel relay again, and trap them in dark space, but they had no way to be certain their plan had succeeded.
The fate of these Prothean scientists is unknown. As the Conduit portal only links one way and there was no food or water left on the Citadel, Vigil hypothesized they eventually starved to death.
Near the culmination of the next cycle, Vigil knew that the Protheans' efforts were not in vain when Commander Shepard's squad found Ilos. Sovereign had tried to signal the Citadel which would compel the keepers to open the relay to dark space, but thanks to the efforts of the scientists from Ilos, nothing happened. Vigil provided a data file to grant Shepard temporary control of the Citadel's systems, told Shepard all he knew of the Reapers and the Prothean extinction, and gave directions to the Conduit. When Sovereign was defeated and the Reapers' return to the galaxy was stalled, the Protheans' work finally succeeded, but ultimately this only bought the galaxy a short reprieve before the rest of the Reapers in dark space made their return.
While all evidence points to the Protheans being completely wiped out by the Reapers, this was not the case. The Reapers are believed to have attempted harnessing the genetic material from millions of Protheans to create a new Reaper.
It is speculated by EDI that this attempt failed and so the Reapers decided to repurpose this substantial number of captive Protheans to suit the needs of the Reapers. Mordin speculated that these Protheans were indoctrinated and after a prolonged period of time as indoctrinated slaves, they were given cybernetic modifications to compensate for their growing lack of ability, which was a side effect of indoctrination. After several cloned generations, the Reapers eventually decided to genetically rewrite these Protheans. These captives were transformed into an entirely new race which cooperated with the Reapers and would eventually be known to the citizens of the galaxy 50,000 years later as the Collectors.
Being a rarely seen species whose existence was questioned by most, the Collectors resided in the Collector base, a space station located in the galactic core and only accessible through the Omega 4 Relay. Nobody had ever returned from a trip through the Omega 4 Relay and a Collector had never been examined, thus the Prothean/Collector link had never been discovered.
Collector technology, while very advanced, no longer resembles Prothean technology, the species likely having developed on its own after the Reapers completed the genocide of the Protheans, also adding to the belief that the Collectors and Protheans are unrelated. The Collectors are presumed to have been left with partial access to Reaper technology, possessing Husks, a Reaper IFF with which they could safely operate the Omega 4 Relay, and Reaper technology which protected the Collector base from the harshness of the galactic core.
For the next 50,000 years, the Collectors would periodically travel to the Terminus Systems and make efforts to acquire seemingly unimportant items or small numbers of very particular types of individuals from certain species in exchange for their advanced technology. Whether the Collectors were always acting as directed by the Reapers during this time is unknown and the reasons for these transactions were never revealed by the Collectors.
Immediately after the destruction of Sovereign, the Reaper known as Harbinger began directing the Collectors in the abduction of what would have eventually been millions of human colonists as part of the Reaper plan to create a Human-Reaper, part of a renewed attempt to begin the next cycle of extinction. In 2185, Shepard takes a team to the Collector base and wipes out the Collectors there, aware of the fact that the Collectors were once Protheans.
One Prothean did fight in the The Reaper War. He was a soldier named Javik who was placed in stasis when the Reapers took over the planet he was stationed on. This planet later become the human colony know as Eden Prime. His stasis pod was found and unfrozen by Commander Shepard during the war and he served as a member of Shepard's team on the SSV Normandy for the rest of the war. It is unknown what happened to him after the war as he dropped out of sight and so far only rumors exist as to his current location.
The rachni are a nearly extinct insect-like species from the planet Suen that threatened Citadel space roughly two thousand years ago during the Rachni Wars. Intelligent and highly aggressive, the spacefaring rachni were driven to expand and defend their territory. They were eventually defeated and completely eradicated by the krogan, who had been uplifted by the salarians for their combat prowess and physical resilience to directly confront the rachni in the harsh environments of the rachni worlds. The accidental discovery of the rachni led to the Citadel races curbing their rapid expansion, in fear of being plunged into another galactic war.
During his first mission as a Spectre Commander John Shepard discovered the last Rachni queen who was being used as a test subject to try and create weapons on the planet Novaria. Shepard refused to destroy the last queen and despite objection from the counsel allowed her to go and raise her children on the condition that she do so in an out of the way part of the Galaxy where she would not come into conflict with other races. She kept her word until the Reapers came to the Rachni's new home world and began enslaving her people. Shepard and a team of Krogan saved her and the Rachni joined the war effort against the reapers and even sent troops to earth. The Rachni have since become members of the "New Citadel Counsel" and have been very helpful when it comes to rebuilding many parts of the galaxy, including damaged mass relays. However since they can not speak in a normal sense they are represented on the counsel by an Asari with whom the Rachni Queens shares an intense psychic link.
Terms You Should Know
Biotics is the ability of some lifeforms to create mass effect fields using element zero nodules embedded in body tissues. These powers are accessed and augmented by using bio-amps. Biotic individuals can knock enemies over from a distance, lift them into the air, generate gravitational vortices to tear obstacles or enemies apart, or create protective barriers.
A soldier wielding these powers is very dangerous in battle. All Asari have botic powers, this accounts for their commandos being among the most feared in the galaxy.
Mass Relays are mass transit devices scattered throughout the galaxy, usually located within star systems. They form an enormous network allowing interstellar travel. Hailed as one of the greatest achievements of the extinct Protheans, a mass relay can transport starships instantaneously to another relay within the network, allowing for journeys that would otherwise take years or even centuries with only FTL drives.
Ships that lack mass effect cores must use the relays in order to travel from one star system to another. Since Mass Effect cores are much shorter range then the relays many ships with cores use relays as well since this allows for longer range travel and the ships save on the cost of fuel. This has the effect of making the relays the most valuable objects in the galaxy since none of the races have the ability to build new relays. Attacking a Mass Relay is a war crime throughout the galaxy.
Supposedly constructed by the long-extinct Protheans, this colossal deep-space station serves as the capital of the Citadel Council. Gravity is simulated through rotation, and is a comfortable 1.02 standard G's on the Wards and a light 0.3 standard G's on the Presidium Ring.
Total Length (Open): 44.7km
Diameter (Open): 12.8km
Population: 13.2 million (not including keepers)
Gross Weight: 7.11 billion metric tons
After the Reapers moved the Citadel into orbit around earth through unknown means during the last days of the war it has stayed in earth orbit and it continues to be an important hub for the survivors of the war and the Counsel is slowly being rebuit.
The Citadel Counsel
The Citadel Council is the governing body of the Citadel. Convening in the impressive Citadel Tower, the Council is the ultimate authority in Citadel space, passing judgement for violations of Council law, settling disputes between governments, and maintaining law and order, often through the use of its own covert intelligence service, the Spectres.
The Council is an executive committee composed of one representative each from the member species. Though they have no official power over the independent governments of other species, the Council's decisions carry great weight throughout the galaxy. No single Council race is strong enough to defy the others, and all have a vested interest in compromise and cooperation.
Each of the Council species has general characteristics associated with the various aspects of governing the galaxy. The asari are typically seen as diplomats and mediators. The salarians gather intelligence and information. The turians provide the bulk of the military and peacekeeping forces.
Any species granted an embassy on the Citadel is considered an associate member, bound by the accords of the Citadel Conventions. Associate members may bring issues to the attention of the Council, though they have no impact on their final decision.
Humans have been added to the counsel after they helped repeal the first Reaper invasion and saved the counsel. However the Counsel's political power has been greatly reduced since the war due to all four counsel races being badly weakened and many of the so called "lesser races" are demanding to be given seats on the counsel in exchange for continuing to support counsel rulings on matters of galactic importance.
Spectres (Special Tactics and Reconnaissance) are agents entrusted with extraordinary authority by the Citadel Council, including the power of life and death over the inhabitants of the galaxy. They form an elite group selected from a number of different species, and their primary responsibility is to preserve galactic stability by whatever means necessary. Though they are generally considered as being above the law and have complete discretion as to the methods used to accomplish their mission, an individual's status as a Spectre can be revoked by the Council in a case of gross misconduct. Spectres work either alone or in small groups according to the nature of a particular task and to their personal preference.
The Special Tactics and Reconnaissance branch was founded in 693 CE, shortly before the Krogan Rebellions began, at a time when the Council was uneasy about the unchecked expansion of the krogan into Citadel space. The Spectres were chosen from the finest salarian Special Tasks Group operatives and asari huntresses, intended to function partly in an observational capacity, but also as the Council's first line of defense.
When the krogan finally turned against the Citadel, the Spectres were ready for them, using guerrilla tactics such as computer viruses and devastating sabotage to slow the krogan down before the turians joined the conflict. For years the activities of the Spectres were a Council secret, but their role was made public after the Krogan Rebellions were over.
All records of the Spectres are sealed and only granted access with permission of the Council. It is not even clear how many there are: Alliance intelligence estimates that there are fewer than a hundred. Each Spectre is hand-picked by the Council after proving that they are an individual of exceptional ability and self-reliance.
In theory Spectres can be chosen from any race; in practice they are usually selected from the Council races. Having a Spectre chosen from their kind often raises a particular species' profile on the Citadel. Many alien races have been part of the Citadel for centuries without a Spectre being chosen from their ranks.
Ambassador Anita Goyle and later her successor Donnel Udina were both desperate to get a human into the Spectres, as this would be the first step toward humanity gaining a seat on the Council. The first possible candidate was David Anderson, but his observer, Saren Arterius, sabotaged the evaluation, falsifying his report to make Anderson look responsible for casualties caused by Saren's own ruthless tactics during the mission. After Saren submitted his report, the Council refused Anderson entry into the Spectres.
The second candidate is Commander Shepard, whose outing of Saren as a renegade Spectre results in their induction into the Spectre ranks. This event happens before humanity attains its Council seat following Saren's attack on the Citadel a short while later.
In the last thousand years only two people have turned down an offer to become a Spectre, both of whom were asari matriarchs. Following Shepard's death and subsequent resurrection in 2185, the Commander can choose to be the third.
Spectres have no command structure. They answer only to the Council, and in some cases the Council prefers not to know the exact details of how a Spectre accomplishes their mission. Spectres act in any way they see fit, either with careful diplomacy or ruthless force, being officially above any law. Some people, like Executor Pallin, see Spectres as a potential risk because they are not constrained by the law, while others are in awe of them; Officer Eddie Lang mentions Spectres on vids are portrayed as super-agents always on some mission to save the galaxy. The assignment of a Spectre is often less contentious than a military deployment, but shows that the Council is aware of a situation.
Candidates for the Spectres typically have years of military or law enforcement experience before even being considered. The screening process involves background checks, psychological evaluations, and a long period of field training under an experienced mentor. Because of the rigorous selection process, Spectres might sometimes use unorthodox methods but they rarely go rogue. When it does happen, the only solution is to revoke their status, then send another Spectre after them. No one else would be up to the job.
The Spectres were modeled upon the salarian STG; granted supralegal authority instead of subordinate to common law, declared exempt from oversight instead of based within a command structure, and selected in recognition of a history of superior capability instead of trained. The STG is fully funded by the salarian government, however, as opposed to the financial independence expected of Spectres.
Spectres appear to be stripped of their status once they are declared legally deceased. They have to be reinstated in once proof of living (e.g. appearing in person and passing biometric checks) is presented.
Two humans served as Spectres during the Reaper War, Commander John Shepard, and LT. Ashley William. Shepard became famous for leading the war effort and despite his attempts to avoid politics emerged as the only universally liked and trusted figure after the war. He gained a reputation for looking at the big picture and not just at the narrow interest of his own people. Since the war he has attempted to settle down on the planet of Rannoch with his wife Tali, however attempts keep being repeatedly made to draw him into the world of post war politics.
The Crucible is an ancient and highly complex device constructed by the Protheans as a superweapon to stop the Reapers, but never successfully implemented before their extinction. Its designs were stored in a Prothean archive on Mars and were later rediscovered by a Systems Alliance archaeological team. During the Reaper invasion of 2186, the designs are recovered by Commander Shepard on Admiral Steven Hackett's orders after the fall of Earth. The Crucible became the galaxy's last hope.
The Crucible was fired by Commander Shepard at the end of the war and while it did tip the scales in favorite of the united races of the Galaxy it is unknown what it did exactly. Commander Shepard has refused to speak about what happened on the Crucible since the war. This may be because whatever happened resulted in the death of his friend and mentor Admiral David Anderson.
Cerberus is a human-survivalist paramilitary group led by the enigmatic Illusive Man. Cerberus' core belief is that humans deserve a greater role in the galactic community, and that the Systems Alliance is too hamstrung by law and public opinion to stand up effectively to the other Citadel races. Cerberus supports the principle that any methods of advancing humanity's ascension are entirely justified, including illegal or dangerous experimentation, terrorist activities, sabotage and assassination. Cerberus operatives accept that these methods are brutal, but believe history will vindicate them. Nevertheless, both the Systems Alliance and the Citadel Council have declared Cerberus to be a terrorist organization and will prosecute identified Cerberus agents accordingly.
Cerberus was responsible for bringing commander Shepard back to life after he was killed in a surprise attack by the Collectors. Cerberus also built the SSV Normandy mark 2, which was used to stop the collectors.
However after destroying the Collector's base Commander Shepard had a falling out with the Illusive Man, the leader of Cerberus, and he turned himself and the Normandy over to Alliance Command.
Cerberus pursued it's own agenda during the war which included conducting brutal experiments on civilians and attempting to convince the Reapers that the Human race could be useful for them. In the final days of the war a fleet attacked and destroyed Cerberus' HQ, and advanced space station. Commander Shepard then found an indoctrinated Illusive Man on the Crucible. The Illusive Man killed Admiral Anderson just before Shepard killed him, this was the end of Cerberus, but they left a mark on the galaxy in the form of millions who they killed.
The Shadow Broker
The Shadow Broker is an individual at the head of an expansive organization which trades in information, always selling to the highest bidder. The Shadow Broker appears to be highly competent at its trade: all secrets that are bought and sold never allow one customer of the Broker to gain a significant advantage, forcing the customers to continue trading information to avoid becoming disadvantaged, allowing the Broker to remain in business.
Unknown to the rest of the Galaxy the original Shadow Broker was killed by Commander Shepard and Laria T'Soni about a year before The Reaper War broke out. Dr. T'Soni then took over as the Shadow Broker and used his contacts to help Commander Shepard during the war. This piece of information is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the galaxy.
The genophage was a biological weapon deployed against the krogan by the turians during the Krogan Rebellions. It was designed to severely reduce krogan numbers by "infecting" the species with a genetic mutation.
The genophage's modus operandi is not to reduce the fertility of krogan females, but rather the probability of viable pregnancies: many krogan die in stillbirth, with most fetuses never even reaching this stage of development. Moreover, every cell in each krogan is infected, to prevent the use of gene therapy to counteract it. Though the genophage was not designed as a "sterility plague", the combination of a low frequency of viable pregnancies with the krogan proclivity to violence and indifference about focused breeding leaves the krogan a dying race, and soon to be extinct.
The genophage was originally developed by the salarians. They believed that, as the consequences would be so devastating, no one would ever deploy the genophage, thus wielding it as a deterrent. However, the salarians and the turians had different military attitudes, the turians only appreciating an approach of "massive retaliation". Once the genophage was complete, the turians immediately used it, and krogan numbers began to dwindle rapidly. Any female krogan who could carry young to term became a prize of war who was viciously fought over. Taking advantage of this, a female warlord named Shiagur used her fertility as a bargaining chip to attract the strongest males to her army.
After several hundred years of living with the genophage, the knowledge their species will soon be extinct has created a kind of fatalism amongst the krogan that makes them dangerous opponents—they are indifferent to who they attack or kill, or what risks they take, as their species is doomed. A few individuals, such as Wrex, have attempted to rebuild the species, or at least curtail its decline, by focusing on breeding, but the inherent belligerence of the krogan usually frustrates their efforts.
Durring the Reaper war the Genophage was cured by the combined efforts of Commander Shepard and the Salarian Mordon Salus using the research data of another Salarian named Maelon. They took this action at great personal risk to themselves and over the objections of the Salarian government. As a result the names Mordon and Shepard have become nouns in Krogan that mean hero and the Krogan sent troops to every front in the war.
Since the end of the war and the cure the Krogan have become the fastest growing race in the galaxy and are well on their way to becoming a great power.
Indoctrination is the term used for the "brainwashing" effect the Reapers and their technology have on organic beings. A signal or energy field surrounds the Reaper, which subtly influences the minds of any organic individual in range. It was first reported to Commander Shepard by farmers on Eden Prime, who claimed there was a "horrible noise" emanating from Sovereign as it descended. Matriarch Benezia said that even Sovereign's interior serves indoctrination: the strange angles of the rooms are confusing and make you uncertain of yourself. The effect seems to extend to Reaper artifacts, such as the one brought aboard the MSV Cornucopia that brainwashed her crew.
Indoctrination is one of the most insidious weapons the Reapers have in their arsenal; the salarian lieutenant Ganto Imness describes it as a greater threat than a krogan army. As Vigil explains, indoctrinated slaves from conquered planets were used during the last Reaper incursion as sleeper agents. They were taken in by other Protheans as refugees, then betrayed their own people to the machines. But the Reapers viewed them as disposable. When they disappeared back through the Citadel relay, the Reapers abandoned their indoctrinated slaves, leaving them to starve or die of exposure.
The precise mechanics of the indoctrination effect are poorly understood. It is believed that the Reapers generate an electromagnetic field, waves of infrasound and ultrasound, or both in order to stimulate areas of a victim's brain and limbic system. The resulting effect varies depending on the intent of the Reaper: the victim may suffer headaches and hallucinations, have feelings of "being watched" or paranoia, or come to view the Reaper itself with superstitious awe. Ultimately, the Reaper gains the ability to use the victim's body to amplify its signal, manifesting as voices within the victim's mind.
Rana Thanoptis, an asari neuroscientist on Virmire, goes into more detail. She describes indoctrination as a subtle whisper you can't ignore, that compels you to do things without knowing why. Over days, perhaps a week of exposure to Sovereign's signal, the subject stops thinking for themselves and just obeys, eventually becoming a mindless servant. That was the fate of Rana's predecessor, who became her first test subject, and the captured salarians who had once been Captain Kirrahe's men.
But as Saren Arterius discovered during his research into indoctrination at the facility, there is a balance between control and usefulness. The more control Sovereign has over a person, the less capable they become. Saren realized that to keep his mind free of Sovereign's control, he had to make himself an invaluable resource. He believed that Sovereign would allow him a reprieve from indoctrination, because the Reaper needed Saren's mind intact to find the Conduit.
The mental damage from indoctrination is severe and permanent. As Shepard saw, the captured salarians on Virmire had been turned into shambling husks, who either attacked on sight or just stood awaiting orders. Only people with immense mental strength are able to resist indoctrination, and even then, only for a short time. Matriarch Benezia used her abilities to keep a 'haven' in her mind free of indoctrination, hoping for a chance to use it, but this meant she was effectively trapped in her own mind, watching in horror as she committed atrocities on Saren's orders. When mortally injured on Noveria, a despairing Benezia refused Shepard's offer of help and chose to die, saying "I am not myself, I never will be again."
The last Rachni Queen was shown to be immune or at least highly resistant to indoctrination. When the Reapers captured her during their invasion of the galaxy, they forced her to breed an army of Rachni warriors for them. However, the Reapers were unable to control her, thus making it necessary to physically restrain her. The reasons for the Queen's resistance to indoctrination are unknown.
The only person who fully escaped indoctrination's grip was Shiala, but her case was unique; Sovereign's control was supplanted by the Thorian's when she was exchanged for the Cipher, which ended with the Thorian's demise—a scenario unlikely to be repeated.
Ironically, Sovereign's indoctrination may have led to its undoing. After the attack on Virmire, when Shepard told Saren he had been indoctrinated without realizing it, Saren's resolve began to falter and he started questioning what he was doing. To keep Saren loyal, Sovereign put cybernetic implants in Saren's body and used those implants to influence and control the former Spectre. Saren found his loyalty to Sovereign's cause greatly strengthened, although he wasn't a brainless slave and could still be reasoned with. When Saren died, the Reaper somehow used the implants to reanimate his corpse and fight Shepard. Because Sovereign was focusing a significant portion of energy to control Saren, the Reaper fell off balance by losing shields and became vulnerable with the destruction of its avatar. With its shields down, the Alliance Navy was able to destroy the Reaper. Although the rest of the Reapers during the invasion don't seem to suffer from this flaw, notable when Harbinger assumes direct control of a Collector Drone.
A human farming colony in the Attican Traverse, Mindoir was raided in 2170 by batarian slavers, who slaughtered most of the colonists. Those not fortunate enough to die immediately were subjected to horrific cranial implants that the batarians used to control them. The Alliance dispatched troops to drive the batarians out, but their defenses were too strong. The Marines were pinned down, forced to watch the suffering colonists but unable to reach them. The atrocity on Mindoir may have been a batarian retaliation against humanity's aggressive colonization of worlds in the Skyllian Verge.
Commander John Shepard was one of only a few dozen survivors of the attack on Mindoir and he lost his whole family in the attack, this let to his joining the military and a personal hatred of Batarians that persisted for years. Many Batarians believe that Shepard's destruction of the Bahak relay which resulted in the destruction of a Batartian colony and the deaths of over three hundred thousand Batarians was an act of revenge for the attack on Mindoir. In reality the relay was destroyed to stop a surprise attack by a Reaper fleet that was less then an hour away. Shepard attempted to warn the colony but his single was jammed and everyone on the colony way lost.
Okay I think that is everything you need to know if you didn't play Mass Effect in order to follow my stories. Sorry it was so long but this is three games worth of info here. If there is something you still do not get please let me know and I will add it to this chapter.
Hope this helps and thanks for reading.