A/N: My rewrite of the Order of Battle left me some space for this document. It will be similar but not identical to the Cerberus Files documents on other races. Some things, obviously, need no rehashing, such as human physiology or psychology.
Others will show how Cerberus does not exactly toe the SA party line in many ways. It's written entirely by Dr. Minsta, the racist nutjob doctor who did the Asari section of the Cerberus Files.
The Cerberus Files: Addenda, the Systems Alliance and Humanity
Message Header: TYPHONET BEGIN ENCRYPTION STRING
ACKNOWLEDGMENT HANDSHAKE ACCEPTED
BEGIN TRANSMISSION: MINSTA
To the Three:
Enclosed is the time line and historical amplification, as requested. The first section covers the period from 2020 until the First Contact War. I remain puzzled by your request, a 'neutral-observer' historical overview of humanity since the early 21st century, but I've complied per your instructions.
The current state of the Systems Alliance is due to the traumatic experiences humanity suffered from 2024 through 2070. In a more perfect or ideal world, perhaps such experiences would not have occurred, but in such a world our readiness for meeting aliens would have been much less as well.
Humanity endures through it's own strength, power, and determination. Nothing will stop us from achieving our ultimate destiny.
Cerberus Thought for the Day: Never surrender. Never forgive. Never forget.
THE DAYS OF FIRE: 2019 through 2052
The 2020's and 2030's were fraught with rampant terrorism, overwhelming crime, poverty and starvation on record levels, and the slow collapse of society. The economy recovered and plunged into stagnation with increasing frequency, as debt ratios increased in both the public and private sector. Increasing pollution, governmental corruption, the deterioration of the Church and the splintering of meaningful diplomatic interaction by the fallout of hacktivist disclosures lead to a a public backlash against government spending that crippled the military forces of most countries.
The end result, of course, was a resurgence in terrorist activity. These attacks soured the American and European public on both peaceful solutions to the crisis in the Middle East as well as the governmental patience in dealing with terrorist threats. The global nature of such attacks also drove the US and China closer together, culminating in many treaties and adjustments in how the world's superpowers viewed each other. This culminated in the United States and China signing the Bilateral Arms Treaty. The BAT was a mutual non-aggression pact mixed with anti-terrorism elements, as Muslim extremist actions had become a thorn in the side of both nations that could not be further ignored. Conspiracy theorists ranted about New World Order tactics, but most of the public approved.
An initial military crackdown on terrorist cells destroyed many networks, but terrorists thrived under prosecution, and in 2031 a new group, the Hand of Allah, formed. At first written off as another bombastic cell of bombers, the Hand demonstrated advanced scientific and military capabilities unmatched by terror networks up to that time.
When the Hand of Allah detonated Ebola-laced virus bombs in downtown Barcelona, the world was stunned. Originally believed to be mere small bombs, within a few days tens of thousands of people were dead. Over the course of seven weeks, over two and a half million people lost their lives. The group Hand of Allah took responsibility, claiming that if Allah's will was not followed, they were prepared to end the entire world.
A few days after the broadcast, a second bio-weapon was let loose in Tel Aviv. Panic was rampant, but the Israeli government sealed the city. Rather than allow the disease to spread unchecked, the very next day a nuclear weapon was detonated in Tel Aviv, incinerating all known infected. Speculation ran rampant over who could have done such a thing, until the Israeli government broadcast the truth – one of their own military officers did it, to stop the spread of the disease from killing the rest of the state of Israel.
Only a few weeks later, in a stunning coup, the entire royal Saud family was assaulted, captured, and executed by the Hand of Allah, with only two members surviving by dint of being in the US at the time. Citing passages from the Hadith and interpretations from extremist imams, they declared the Third Caliphate and challenge all Muslims to rise up against oppression. The US and China declared war on the New Caliphate empire. Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Malaysia, Pakistan and half a dozen other Muslim nations angrily refused to make war on other Muslims, and join forces.
The results were not as the Caliphate expected. Used to a foe that would not strike with its full power, the Caliphate and its terrorist – religious masters were caught unprepared for the rapidity with which total war was declared. The UN called for peace talks, but the US threatened them with withdrawal, backed by China. Unable to buck prevailing trends, Russia and France attempted to reach some kind of compromise with the New Caliphate, warning them of the storm to come. They knew full well that leaders in both the US and China would leap upon such actions to distract their population from economic woes.
Ignoring such warnings, the Caliphate invaded Israel. They were barely two hours into their assault when B-4 Stealth bombers and hundreds of automated drones began sweeping over the cities of the Caliphate. Unwilling to negotiate with terrorists, eighteen low-yield neutron weapons were dropped. Cairo, Baghdad, Tehran and a dozen other cities were wiped of all life. At the same time, Chinese 'special forces ' – peasants blown on combat drugs and issued incendiary ammo in fully automatic weapons – stormed into Pakistan and Malaysia, parachuted into Algeria and stormed ashore in Ceylon. Tens of thousands were massacred, mosques were detonated with high explosives, water supplies wrecked and food storage facilities set afire.
The "War of Allah" lasted exactly forty-two days. At the end, every nation engaged in warfare against the US and China unconditionally surrendered. Even the most generous and positive casualty reports indicate nineteen to twenty-five million were dead, countless more poisoned with radiation or doomed to starve or die of dehydration as winter set in.
In a highly protested series of what amounted to ethnic cleansing on a grand scale, the US and China invaded, bombarded, ghettoized and conquered every nation-state from Morocco to Malaysia. China lead the effort, ostensibly and politically, stationing massive numbers of troops, encouraging immigration and investment, and taking the lead in suppressing religion and culture. But America financed it, and American companies invested in it. America's military funneled billions of dollars of military equipment to China, and America used its own leverage to prevent the UN from stopping China.
Meanwhile, the actions of Christian fundamentalists had gotten to the point where people in America were willing to give up freedoms and privacy for the right to not be blown up. 2035 was the year that the FBI trained 25,000 ex-military into a para-military nationwide super SWAT team. Known as the Terrorist Rapid Response Unit, the TRRU was deployed daily. Meanwhile, laws and the assault on what used to be known as conservative values pushed the backers of the terrorists to more extreme acts. In 2037, the state of Montana declared it was seceding from the Union, to be a bastion for the last "Christian heritage and lifestyle, free of cultural pollution and Satan's influence."
It didn't even take 11 minutes for NORAD to clear the use of nuclear weapons. The President appeared on national television, stating once and once only that the penalty for treason was death, and anyone who stood with them would share in said penalty. Twenty four hours later, Butte, Montana was wiped off the map. Riots ensued, the American government and FEMA declared martial law.
In Europe, NATO ejected the US, and in return Canada and Mexico stormed out of the NATO network, signing agreements with the US. By the end of 2038, the US, Mexico and Canada were one alliance, much like NATO itself. Still three countries, the expanded NAFTA II treaty stipulated that Mexico supplied raw labor and Canada raw materials to the American war machine.
The rest, of course, is history no one wishes to revisit. Unfortunately, we must. The European Union, aghast at US and Chinese actions, engaged in a short, meaningless war with the US, ending in the savage destruction of most of the Royal Navy at the Battle of the Azores, and a short abortive fight in southern France. The EU negotiated a peace settlement, but the diplomatic damage was severe.
The increasing hostility of the world and the short US/EU war meant that madmen were overlooked, and the popularity and charisma of Miguel de la Ardiente didn't seem to be a problem at first. Rising to power in a Brazil that was surging in economy, his rapid political maneuvering and the power of his Esperanza political party was seen as a positive thing. And at the beginning, perhaps it was.
But the state of South America was dire, its people abused by petty warlords and drug trades, its economy weak. This left them willing to accept any hardship and any means to improve their own lot in life. When Ardiente made his move to dominate and annex Argentina in the aftermath of it's civil war, no one complained. When he invaded Columbia to take down the drug lords and added it to the Nueva Brazilla, people cheered. When he made fiery speeches about the heritage of the Maya, the Olmec, and the proud history of the south American, from Bolivar to Peron, the people went wild.
And the uniforms went from camo, to black and green. The education reforms became re-education camps. The Catholic faith was carefully subverted to encourage submission, piety as patriotism, and racial distrust. Children were brainwashed, those who disagreed jailed or merely 'vanished', and the news media in the region became nothing more than Ardiente's mouthpiece.
As the wars tore apart the middle east, and America fought internal rebellions, no one paid enough attention to the darkness growing in Brazil until it was far too late. Ardiente declared himself Emperor in 2046, and began openly attacking and invading the remaining countries in South America. Aside from sending troops to reinforce the Mexican border with central America, the US did nothing.
The European Union splintered helplessly in 2050, with Russia and Germany facing down France, Italy and Poland over banking reforms, debts, and investment capital. Plagues swept through Pacifica, killing millions. Riots over food broke out in the Middle East, and nuclear weapons were detonated in a second terrorist attack on Tel Aviv that killed hundreds of thousands. The backlash was criminal, tens of thousands of civilians shot and killed.
THE END OF DAYS : 2052 to 2071
By 2052, it seemed the end times had come. Victor Manswell, the world's richest man, frustrated, began funding heavy space exploration, starting with the moon. In two short years he'd established a working base, on a lavish scale, where he promptly moved to. Calling it the Zurich Holdfast, in the next year thousands more millionaires followed him.
Meanwhile, the environment continued to worsen. Using recent developments in technology, the US, Europe, and China began encasing their biggest cities in arcologies, piecemeal building the massive constructions. The nuclear cleansing committed by the US and Chinese forces had choked the air with polluted fallout, and the poor died by the thousands as money only went towards ensuring the upper middle class and rich were protected. More people fled to the space colonies, as Manswell's Solar System Alliance was founded, a loose group of human survivalist colonies on the Moon and, in 2056, on Mars and several asteroids as well.
Events came to a horrific head in 2060, when 'Emperor' Ardiente allied with the drugs lords he had been fighting the whole time, bringing in terrorist networks and religious supremacists. He welcomed the anti-US survivalist Christian fundamentalist fringe, and even reached out to the remains of the Hand of Allah, pointing out that in a godless world the godly must stick together. His charisma allowed him to sway the minds of millions of poverty stricken Third World peoples as he gave railing, thundering speeches about the callous nature of the "white imperialist governments" who he blamed for ruining the oceans, the air, and the land.
Emperor Ardiente created a loose association of rogue states, sub-Saharan pirate gangs and brutal warlords, backed by the money of a fading, jealous Japan in secret and by drug lords in private. He bent the industrial might of his empire towards warfare and mandated 12% conscription on top of the volunteer army.
Mercenaries and gangs of ethnically displaced African and Afghan fighters bolstered his ranks, while rogue scientists from the former Caliphate boosted his technological capability, bringing nuclear weapons plans and more. On November 24th, 2060, when Americans were fat and dumb with food and watching football and the Chinese were just waking up, the Brazilla Emperor attacked.
A carefully orchestrated plan of terrorist attacks on power plants, dams, and fuel depots crippled America and China minutes after the declaration of war. The first appearance of the Sao Paulo death squads appeared, maddened by combat drugs, religious fanatics high on epiphany and PCP, equipped with body armor and fully automatic weapons. Much like America and China did in their war against the Caliphate, the Sao Paulo death squads went berserk in cities across the globe, detonating bombs laced with an air-transmitted virus that mutated lung cells into basal cancer cells. They struck at nurseries and elementary schools, they blew up the innocent and helpless, they made the average citizen cringe in fear.
The US and China fought back, hard, but Brazil was no Caliphate, lightly defended and with too much infrastructure to protect. Ardiente had dug himself into the Andes, using the past twenty years to harden his defenses, and the drug lords and mercenaries knew they would be killed if they try to surrender, so their fighting spirit is fierce. Worse, his own people believed in his propaganda, an entire generation having been the product of careful, slow brainwashing. The fighting was hard, and counter-attacks destroyed over twenty major cities in the US and China.
Limited nuclear exchanges only worsened the environment, and sabotage attacks killed millions more. Entire nations ceased to exist in the conflict, with tens of millions displaced into refugee camps that, revoltingly, became targets for the Sao Paulo death-squads.
Ardiente's mad plans were finally revealed in full in 2061, when the lunatic emperor took to the airwaves stating that he planned the execution of anyone who did not bow knee to his divine majesty. The transmission was a signal to dozens of hidden agents across the world, who unleashed a biotoxin attack that killed over nineteen million people in four days, leaving hundreds of millions more with health complications for the rest of their lives. Enraged at the death of his own daughter, the US President, Jack Coleman, promised to burn Brazil to the very ground.
Slowly, over the next nine months, the Chinese and US armies battled their way through Ardiente's forces, the Sao Paulo squads executing anyone who refuses to fight even while some continue to infiltrate other countries to wreak terror. Three million died in battle, millions more from wounds, disease, or starvation. The death toll of civilians was lost after the third outbreak of Ebola Zaire and anthrax. Europe collapsed in bloody ethnic civil war, Greece was consumed in flames. Ardiente seeded his religious fanatics across the globe, telling them this was the time of Revelations, to end the world and welcome Jesus, who would take up the Emperor's body and rule mankind for a thousand years of light.
Finally the US armies, lead by the Marines, broke through the lines surrounding Sao Paulo, crushing the Imperial Guard in a pitched battle that was the bloodiest in history, with over a million and a half dead just for the US alone. It took a further six day battle to level Sao Paulo and kill the beast, the Emperor fighting off multiple attackers.
Roaring defiance, the Emperor emerged from his palace and lead a counter-attack that nearly broke the US lines. He was stopped by Chinese forces lead by Song Chu, the Chinese general, and driven back. He died atop his own palace, shot over forty times, nose bloody from cocaine, eyes wild with crazed knowledge. Twenty-five SEAL's and twenty-two Chinese SSPD went down killing the monster, but the nightmare was over.
Until the next day, when his "Saints of the Bowls" detonated over one hundred cleverly hidden backpack nuclear devices. Vatican City was destroyed. Mecca and Bethlehem ruined. London's Buckingham Palace was leveled, with most of the royal family killed. Beijing and Washington DC both were hit multiple times, the governments of both nations destroyed in the chaos. Order collapsed, as bickering factions fought for power. The sky darkened from pollution and more nuclear fires. Millions, then tens of millions, died of starvation, of thirst, of engineered disease.
Even the best historians only know that order was restored in 2071, after ten long years of utter and complete horror and chaos, as Victor Manswell's private mercenary security forces slowly began restoring some semblance of order. China had fragmented into warring nation states, and the US was collapsing into bickering factions, with no federal government left to unite them.
THE DAYS OF IRON: 2071 to 2120
The iron will of Victor Manswell is all that drew humanity back from the brink. Hiring up mercenaries and paying with gold, arms, and medical supplies, he moved swiftly to secure dominance. Aided by manufacturies in orbit, Manswell first worked through what surviving nations with infrastructure remained – Japan, parts of Central Africa, the state of Alaska, and so on. His mercenaries, known as the Iron Guard, raided universities to rescue scientists, broke into military bases to recover arms and heavy vehicles, and co-opted governments with bribes.
He moved slowly, but his first real victory was in 2073, when his Iron Guard defeated the last government forces of the remaining US government in an ugly, savage battle fought, ironically, in the ruins of the national cemetery at Arlington, Virginia. A bloody four day fight saw the US Army and Special Forces break, but the Marines fought on to the last man, finally unable to hold back over fifty times their numbers in mercenaries. The surrender of the United States sent a shockwave around the remainder of the world still able to communicate, and Manswell's victories accelerated after that point.
It took almost three years, of fighting, starvation, and turmoil, but in 2074 the New United Nations Council formally surrendered control to Manswell's Solar Systems Alliance. The SSA moved in quickly, offering generous terms to those nations who agreed to it's mandates, and hard punishments for those that defied them.
Manswell had not been idle, using the chaos of war to snatch up resources. His researchers had built the first reconfigurable nanite construction robots in 2068, and these enabled him to build rapidly. Expanding using leapfrogging techniques and pre-built habitation and mining modules, his SSA had colonized over fifty asteroids by 2071. Using a mix of primitive ion engines and solar sails, he soon had a steady flow of raw materials flowing back to manufacturies in orbit, and on the Moon. Iron, nickel, bauxite, and aluminum he stacks up in huge repositories, dumping them into his manufacturies, producing habitation modules, wind power towers, and base-camp reclamation modules for the survival of millions of displaced persons on earth.
His rescue (or capture, according to some) of many scientists from top facilities enabled him to focus all their efforts on pure research. In 2072, his factories began producing powered battle armor, and in 2075, the first primitive research VI's came online. VI's control clouds of nanotech building robots, while more nano-constructed cleaning swarms go to work on pollution. Thousands of tons of polluted soil were dumped onto the icy center of Antarctica, while asteroids were broken down and chemically enriched in orbital centers to produce 'new' dirt.
By 2080, the SSA had resettled and controlled Japan, most of southern China, the eastern and southern US, central and west Canada, northern Mexico, England, most of France, Italy, and sections of central and southern Africa. Remaining government forces in the US, claiming federal rights, tried to resist his push into Texas and Colorado, but men in vests and armed with M-16's were no match for power-armor troops, armed with laser carbines and plasma grenades. The fight was short, bloody and a wake up call for those nations still holding out against the SSA's power.
It was in the aftermath of these short fights that Manswell, now in his eighties, decided to accelerate his control and ensure world peace. Using the manufacturies, he expanded the arcologies aggressively, building the foundations for over two hundred of them, as well as renovating the highway systems of the US and Europe towards massive, sealed expressways for both ground cars and hi-speed mag-rails. In rural areas of the US, China, and much of South America, he built 'farm arcologies' – massive, forty story fortresses that held floor after floor of genetically modified crops grown under lamps and huge assembly lines for livestock. Desalination and water treatment facilities were constructed along major shorelines, pumping billions of gallons of electrically-cracked and purified water inland to parched areas.
The cost of this endeavor was staggering, even given the vast wealth achieved by the use of asteroid mining. To aid in his endeavor he reached out to other wealthy figures still alive on Earth, or those who had fled with him to Zurich Holdfast. Promising them a return to a time where their names meant something, Manswell entitled some thirty families as nobility and gave them broad governing powers in return for financial assistance with saving the Earth. The Windsor family of Britain was the first to answer the call, followed by many others.
Manswell's scientists achieved 'cool' fusion using magnetically reinforced tokamaks in 2084, and in 2086 he built a ring of solar panel studded energy satellites, beaming energy down to the earth to specially reinforced power centers. But no matter how much raw energy and material he had, the economies of Earth's nations were strained, and the fledgling colonies struggled under heavy taxes.
Inevitably, there were revolts and backlashes, and every time the SSA reacted with heavier reprisals and crackdowns. His private mercenaries were formalized in 2091 as the Guard of Iron. The military expanded until almost six percent of humanity was under arms, and improvements in weapons technology – particular beam energy weapons – meant that the simple weapons most civilians had were no match for the military's response.
Rebellions flared in the ruins of the Middle East, in India, in the western US – all crushed in blood reprisals. The SSA did not tolerate terrorists, and every act was responded to with the capture of the terrorists, torture, and the utter destruction of whatever group or area that sponsored them. When a terrorist cell managed to severely damage a food arcology in 2095, it was traced back to a complicated group of agents in Spain, funded by what was left of the Spanish government.
Manswell, now 97 and near death, passed instructions to his heir, his grandson Jacen Manswell. The SSA formed an investigative council into the attacks, and once the perpetrators were fully identified, the massed might of the SSA military and the Guard of Iron fell upon Spain. Sixteen million people were brutally murdered in two weeks of shelling, orbital bombardment, and ground invasions, and Madrid obliterated by multiple days of high explosive artillery fire.
Even as Madrid burned, Jacen Manswell took to the newswaves, announcing changes. The time of nation-states was at an end, and the time for humanity to unite behind one banner was upon them. He announced the Systems Alliance, the unification of all human endeavors under one government, was imminent. This was announced as the Purge of Iron, and Manswell warned that resistance would lead to nothing but death.
Those nations who had supported the SSA in it's attempts to restore world order would be rewarded. USA, Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, Thailand, India, Germany, and Italy would be rewarded with permanent member status in the new Systems Alliance, and would have votes in it's parliament. Their citizens would be given priority, they would get arcologies built first and they would get the first crack at any colonization efforts.
Other nations, who had not been cooperative, would be disbanded into administrative districts administered directly by the SA itself. These administrative districts would be controls by the SA but this would at least involve some local officials from the governments in those areas. Over time, given a track record of support, the administrative areas would be allowed self governance as associate members of the SA.
Those nations who had hindered the SSA the most – Bolivia, North Korea, Spain, Norway, Algeria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Pakistan – would be obliterated. Even as he spoke, the SSA military was moving on those locations, starting with attacks on the capitals and laying waste to the countryside.
Brazil was especially targeted, and in a vicious revenge for Ardiente's madness, Jacen Manswell fulfilled the promise of Jack Coleman and had the entire country literally obliterated. It was rebuilt as a massive military training facilities and storage dump for the Systems Alliance, but never again would Brazil be a country.
Victor Manswell died in 2099, and it took the newly formed SA, along with the member state militaries, another ten years to subdue the rest of the planet permanently. The results were not as destructive to the environment as the war against the Brazilla Emperor, but tens of millions died all the same. It was brutal, sickening, and in the eyes of the leaders of the SA, necessary.
The spring of 2109 was the first year of the Systems Alliance uncontested control of Earth. The administrative districts – Azlan in South America, Swaha in northern Africa, Momba in southern Africa, Chazi in Asia – would over time, be able to administer themselves, as the plan went. Most of those regions were depopulated by war and famine now, and Manswell acted to build additional farm arcologies and military bases in them.
In 2103, the Mars Colony became fully self-sufficient, and was admitted to the SA as a Class III colony. Luna, Ceres Asteroid, Europa, Ganymede, Titan, and Callisto soon followed. The SA formed a semi-bicameral arrangement, and left most matters to the nations or administrative areas, focusing instead on space colonization. Despite the deep wounds of the wars and Manswell's brutal conquest of the planet, people wanted to put it all behind them.
Jacen Manswell aided in that, turning much of the Iron Guard out to serve as police forces, and spending vast sums on boosting civilian comfort. The arcologies were expanded again, allowing more people to move from the now execrable conditions on Earth's open areas. Radiation storms, pollution, and UV radiation from ozone losses had made the world less habitable, and something on the order of ten to twenty million people a year died from cancers and other pollution related diseases from 2100 to 2120. Manswell did what he could to alleviate this, with medical centers and nanotechnology research, but by 2130 anyone not living in an arcology on earth was probably dead.
Many nations in this time simply ceased to exist as meaningful entities due to the pollution and the inability to make the land habitable, ending up either absorbed into larger nations or into the administrative districts. Morocco, Nigeria, Mali, Sudan, Denmark, Poland, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Ukraine, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Iceland, Peru and Angola all suffered this eventual fate, with dozens of other countries following. There was a great deal of cultural intermixing and commingling, furthered by strict population limits on certain areas that moved millions of people around the globe.
THE DAYS OF PEACE: 2120 to 2157
The period from 2120 to 2140 was relatively quiet, as a new generation was born that knew nothing but living in arcologies, that knew nothing of war or of national sovereignty. Manswell was careful not to suppress people too hard – loosening some of the controls of the SSA's early years, and allowing the nations that made up the SA to regain some power and dignity. At the same time, he played the colonies against Earth, the member nations against the administrative areas, and the rich and powerful against each other.
With all of the major cities of earth (any city with more than 100,000 people, and many large metro areas such as DFW, Minneapolis/St. Paul, etc combined into one massive arcology) sealed into arcologies, and with travel restricted to the tube-ways and to expensive armored aircraft or special armored ships, the Internet was used to tie people together and foster communication. All such communications were monitored by the SA, and the media as a force almost died off altogether, replaced by civilian reporters, news aggrigators, and government information agencies. The largest media outlets combined in 2135 to form Westerlund News, while dozens of smaller outlets and information groups were combined by the SA to create the Alliance News Network.
Industry was advancing as well, as Ashland-Eldfell managed to extract HE3 from Jupiter and Saturn in 2137. The use of this more concentrated fuel source allowed much heavier colonization of the solar system, and even the moons of Uranus and Neptune. Meanwhile, the first primitive iterations of second-tier VI's were under production, and researchers felt certain true AI would not be far behind.
In 2141, Jacen Manswell resigned from the SA Presidency, stating that his father's dream had been completed. He declined to state what his plans were, spent several days putting his affairs in order and having sparkling social parties, and, after a long conversation with his son and heir, shot himself on March 5, 2141.
His suicide manifesto – some eight pages long – spoke of his guilt at the horrors he and his grandfather had committed to bring Earth to unified peace. "The only difference between myself and Miguel de la Ardiente is that I did not have the confidence to place a crown on my head, and that I won and he lost. Humanity can suffer no more megalomaniacs, no more emperors, and no more wars against our own kind. Darkness comes, and we must be unified to fight it."
The meaning of his words – and what he knew – was debated at length by many. It's known his scientist corps on Mars was doing some kind of research, and that at least one team simply vanished. We know now, after review of certain documents, that Manswell's researchers had come across the Prothean Ruins at Deseado Crater. They were not announced until 2143, and the discovery of element zero changed everything about the SA and human society. For one, humanity realized it was not alone in the universe.
The Mars Cache contained tons upon tons of eezo, plans for mass effect drives, and information about the nature of the galaxy. What it also contained was a Message. The Message, a simple warning, was found in the entry to the complex proper. The Manswell Doctrine was created upon discovery of the Message, to keep it safe until it's meaning could be deciphered.
The Message was "Seek out those akin to you. The Holdfast at the center of the web is a trap. When the Darkness comes, you must be ready. Look for the fall of black leaves." The meaning of this cryptic message is still unknown, although certain portions are clear. The Holdfast is clearly the Citadel, although how it is a trap is unknown. 'Those akin' can only be the asari. The rest we are still guessing at, although what the 'Darkness' is - or what more Jacen Manswell knew of it - we may never know.
It took almost four years for humanity to decrypt and build prototypes, but in 2148, following the information from the cache, SA Explorer Corps teams shatter Charon, revealing the mass relay there. Once activated, Jon Grissom was the first of a team of explorers in the SAV Enterprise, triggering the Mass Relay and erupting into Arcturus, over thirty light years away, in an instant. The explorers discovered that the mass relays are part of a vast network, making travel across the galaxy possible.
The SA began expansion of it's war fleet immediately, while corporations on earth scrambled to prepare for take advantage of the bounty. Earth was already overstressed by it's population, and the colonies could not take much more population with their limited resources, but now humanity could walk among the stars themselves.
In the haste to prepare exploratory spaceships, accidents were bound to happen. Several freighters and transports had accidents in Earth's atmosphere in this period, and several of these occurred in the arcologies themselves, dusting the population with eezo. Many children born after that point developed cancerous growths, but at the time this was seen merely as a tragedy. It happened again, at Singapore Spaceport, and a third time, at Dresden Spaceport, leading to over half a million deaths and around 2 million people exposed to the dust.
In 2150, Terra Nova, Eden Prime, and Demeter were all opened to colonization. The rush to space began and ramped up from there. Arcturus Station was built, mainly to defend the key jump link to Earth, but also to serve as a massive military base station for the SA itself. The Zurich Holdfast, the former location of the SA Government, was still too vulnerable to assault by GTS missiles, and in 2151 the SA government moved to Arcturus Station, expanding it fourfold in doing so.
Colonization rushed on, with explorer teams opening new mass relays every month. By 2157, Earth had sixteen colonies, and the first stage of the SA war fleet was complete. Experiments with eezo had led to the creation of personalized mass effect barriers and mass accelerated weapons, and in 2157 the first 'battleship', the SSV Vulcan, was launched at Arcturus Station.
It was also in 2157 that infants whose mothers were survivors of the eezo dustings began showing signs of biotic ability. The SA quickly figured out that eezo exposure in utero caused these bizarre abilities, and the effects seemed similar, if more powerful, than the abilities created by the eezo-laced red dust drug that had sprung up in 2155.
With it's eyes on the future, the SA began identifying these children, planning for some form of training and to learn the limits of this biotic ability. But destiny interfered.