The Cerberus Files: Historical Analysis of Citadel and Terminus Space
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To the Three:
Per your request, I've completed my econo-historical analysis of Citadel space. Working with Dr. Uraj and Dr. Nielson-Kahn, we've attempted to pull together coherent studies , military data, and relevant cultural analysis on all current threats to Humanity.
I remain puzzled by your initial request, a 'neutral-observer' historical overview of humanity since the early 21st century, but I've complied with that as well. The outline covers every event until the most recent assault on Eden Prime, per your instructions.
The studies of alien species include the psychological workups requested by the Illusive Man required heavy use of the Shadow Cell's .. experimental projects. I would again like to (respectfully) recommend full review of said projects – we're an organization devoted to human supremacy, not goddamned terrorists.
We lost several of our Trojan operatives compiling this data, which has set back the Illusive Cell's forecast projections. As a result, we've been ordered to use resources from Shadow Cell and Iron Cell to make up the shortfall. Hopefully, the insight from this document will further the Illusive Cell's operative ability to find areas of manipulation in alien stock markets and investment opportunities.
Dr. Galen Minsta
Cerberus Thought of the Day: A mind empty of it's duty to humanity is fertile ground for the weeds of alien corruption.
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To Dr. Minsta,
Excellent work, Doctor. This is exactly the sort of thing we need to ensure our focus remains on the topic at hand – the bright future awaiting humanity.
Your comments regarding the direction of the Shadow Cell's work, however, were not well received by the Shadow Hand. While I understand and sympathize with your frustrations, we keep each cell tightly segregated not just due to security, but so that those with the taste for certain kinds of work are put where they can contribute the most.
You are a psychological historian, not a general, a financier, or a researcher. If you knew what we knew, you'd be less upset at the cost victory sometimes requires.
Cerberus Thought of the Day: The opposite of sadism is altruism, but the opposite of nihilism is mania. We must all remember never to cross lines that leave scars, and never to avoid a hard act in the name of mercy.
Author's Note: My main fic story, Of Sheep and Battle Chicken (OsaBC) is set in an alternative universe to the 'canon' Mass Effect. My initial intent with the story was to do a 'show, not tell' reinterpretation, similar to but with a different focus than Renegade Reinterpretations. It wasn't intended to be a complete rewrite at the beginning, and it has grown faster and more AU than I originally intended.
Based on the fact that my fic is now one of the top 30 or so fanfics in the entire ME fandom by number of reviews, I can say with no small amount of shock that it has been successful. And while I am happy about that, (and I appreciate those who like it), I feel that going into the depths of differences between the canon MEVerse and my AU Premisverse robs the story of it's vitality. In order to see why things are the way they are, back story – true back story – is needed. The Codex was a nice idea but didn't go far enough into where things needed to be discussed. And frankly, the irreconcilability of the Codex with the reality of what we see in the game only points to the greater disconnect. For all the rich lore in the Codex, shockingly little of it is used.
The purpose of this document is to outline the AU world I work in. It is a more renegade place, if that word has any meaning at all, which I doubt. The difference between Paragon and Renegade is that Paragons do things the right way, and Renegades do things any way that achieves what they want. Not all good is nice, and not all bad is evil. But at the end of the day, both Paragons and Renegades end up doing the right thing.
Even some of the darkest fics out there, such as RR , set humanity as taking rough or even horrific actions because they had no real rational choice. Renegades do what must be done, right or wrong, because there are no other choices. Shepard didn't make the call on Torfan because of anything else than being too bloodthirsty and perhaps too compromised by events. All the 'evil people' are neatly put into little terrorist groups so you can kill them without having to argue the grey-and-grey morality of things.
The Premiseverse dispenses with such rose-eyed sentimentality. People do what is evil, because it's the quickest way to power, and damn the consequences. Paragons like Branson due so mostly because people worship heroes, but they have no belief in their own actions. Renegades like Shepard are so broken by what has occurred to them that they would be sociopaths in any other society, where killing is merely another reflex response and regret NEVER stops them from pulling the trigger again.
Humans are evil, most are either xenophobic or distrustful, and all see themselves as innately superior. Sneering at aliens who took a thousand years to do what humanity did in a century, they are still bearing the scars of a century of the darkest, sickest warfare in human history, where two madmen fought each other to a standstill to determine the fate of the world, and sixty million innocent souls died in a single, horrific day due to chemical warfare by a doomsday cult. The SA is a brutal regime, a good old boys club that has plans to dominate the galaxy in short order, seeing all before it as the modern equivalent of the Chinese during the medieval ages – stagnant and is kept in line by brainwashed secret service agents, a rogue intelligence wing, and is heavily tied to Cerberus. Worse, the true leaders of the SA are monsters the likes of which even Saren pales next to.
Salarians are disassociated from the morality of acts by the speed of mental processing and the logic they are bound to, and do not even have a word in their language for morals. Obsessed with control, with knowing all there is to know, their government is at war with itself, as dalatrasses lost in the evolutionary drive to further their families risk killing their own race with mad genetic sabotage, and transmortal experiments are crippling the race's ability to maintain birthrates. Much of their energies are wasted on this mad goal, their own intelligence justifying it with the brutal realities that efficiency tops all other concerns. Unable and unwilling to compromise on their concept of total war, they have planned ways to kill off or neutralize every other race in the galaxy, some through horrific research into genophage-like viruses, others through carefully prepared sickeningly, they have begun experiments into producing supersoldiers built deliberately to interface with soul-crippling levels of cyberware.
Asari are going through a cultural civil war, as some asari have become obsessed with humanity – the chances of a race looking and being shaped almost exactly like them being so small as to be impossible. Sexual and social tensions have turned the asari against themselves, as asari grow tired of suppressing their naturally guiding natures and desire to sleep with and have children with at least something that looks like them. They want a humanity that is a kneeling, adoring slave of the asari, willing to be it's cats paws, brute muscle and sex slaves. The rulers of the asari know more about the Reaper threat than they let on, even while hiding a horrific secret from the galaxy. The asari manipulate all around them as reflex, and have plotted the downfall of the turians, the embittered nature of the volus, and more. Yet these plans now tangle with the ugly stirrings of the commoners, and the Thirty look for scapegoats and distractions.
The turians are utterly and totally more brutal than in canon, especailly after the UnificationWars, becoming more bitter, more hidebound, and above all else, more schizophrenic. Their colonial tensions run higher and higher as the meritocracy is diluted by the play of politics and the subtle sabotage of salarian and asari agents. There are those who remember the resurgence of the Valluvian Priests under Desolas Arterius, and feel the government is suppressing turian culture. Worse, the Council's support of humanity has enraged many turians, the First Contact War being far more brutal of a lesson to Turians and the raging threats of the human ambassadors still leaving an unpleasant taste to the mouth. The situation is complicated by the fact that the Salarians and Asari have compromised the Turian economy, leaving the Hierarchy in debt to the other two races to the tune of billions upon billions of credits.
The Batarians are not just slavers, but a religious movement bound into the Fist of Khar'shan that prophesies the destruction of all enemies of the batarians. This religion is tied in with the strange reactions of the upper Batarian military castes, who since the recovery of the Leviathan of Dis have been acting... strangely. Worse, their biotics are drugged, super-augmented religious fanatics, more than capable of facing down even asari matriarchs...and they claim they hear the voice of the Fist in their dreams. The voices from beyond compel them towards strange acts, and water worlds have gone dark and under heavy military guard.
The Hanar fascination with the Protheans is magnified to unhealthy degrees, and their Drell servants are pawns in a game of intergalactic know something others do not, and have stumbled onto secrets best left alone. In their arrogance, however, they see no dangers.
The geth are no simple machines, the quarians are more vicious and selfish, and perhaps worst of all, the fall of the krogan was not simply done at the hands of salarians and turians, but one of their own.
This is a universe where cynicism , petty revenge, and hustling for a credit are the norm. Every race has been victimized, and the evil in the hearts of people is not suppressed for the sake of the common good , as the common good is rarely seen. Smoke and mirrors, rather than honesty and openess, are the victors of diplomacy, and each race's secret intelligence services commit atrocity after atrocity in the pursuit of a psychotic and skewed ideal of 'balance'.
Humanity's shining hero, the Savior of Elysium, is a fraud, a human supremacist, and a megalomaniac, a constructed figure who would happily butcher aliens but actually sees himself as a heroic messiah. It's Butcher is a criminal psychopath turned unfeeling killing machine, made a hero when a SA plot to get her unit killed blew up in their faces and then used to brutally suppress any threat.. The Sole Survivor is a broken figure, losing his family, his unit, his fiance and finally his sanity and becoming a terrorist threat to rival Cerberus, convinced only he understands the sacrifices needed to bring humanity to a shining future – of human dominance.
The other races commit atrocities worse than anything in canon ME : salarians experiment with asari captives to lengthen their own lifespan, and turian Blackwatch units support pirates to drive volus separatists back into the Hierarchy's arms. Biotic cults , secretly backed by asari matriarchs, infiltrate alien societies, scattering Ardat-Yakshi as they go to weaken the upper classes of their foes. Batarians play with Reaper tech in their slave implants, and the volus scheme to destabilize economic markets and amass increasingly worrisome amounts of mercenaries for no known purpose.
Colonies are written off, refused even the slightest protection from the SA if they do not bow to heavy taxes, mental conditioning, and constant monitoring. Earth is a polluted cesspit, the mass of humanity living in massive arcologies stuffed to explosive overpopulation, ruled by iron fisted 'democracies' where only those with the money to prove their history can vote. The SA is a private club of member nations and early colonies that only allows newer members the right to pay a larger share of taxes for the minimum protection possible.
Mega-corporations are small nations-states, Noveria an armed presence that shoots Spectres on sight and has stood off the Citadel Fleets twice. The average colonist is an indentured servant, required to pay back his 'citizenship tithes' and 'colony debt fee' before he can even vote , bunkered in communal flophouses and worked 15 hours a day, and is pathetically grateful for it, since at least he has a chance to one day own a home and not pay 85% tax rates , or be shot on sight for protesting.
The SA's armies are stiffened by penal legions, with explosive implants in their head. Sniper-guards enforce their discipline, and biotic commissars drive them to fight, or to die at their hands. Political officers and bio-monitor systems monitor military officers, and the darkness between the stars is so much greater – the Reapers control not one galaxy, but dozens, and are hiding from something with the power to snuff out entire galaxies at a whim.
And yet .. hope can still flare brightly. There are those who refuse to bow to despair, to greed, to hatred and fear and the erosion of spirit. There are those who long for freedom, who dream of a bright future where all races work together. There are corporations who refuse to commit atrocities, gang lords who won't enslave children, even serial killers, barely in control of themselves, who force themselves to prey on evil men instead of the innocent. And even humanity's vilest sorts can have flashes of conscience on occasion.
In the end, which is more inspiring? The banality of doing the right thing when it's rewarded, or the light that refused to be smothered by the darkness all around it?
The Cerberus Files is a story,written around a series of reports gathered by the leadership of Cerberus during the events of ME1 and parts of ME2. The key actors are:
-Dr. Minsta, a brilliant doctor, historian, psychologist and economic guru
-Matriarch Trellani, an outcast asari matriarch who has joined Cerberus after discovering the truth of Athame, and now plots to eradicate the Thirty
-Pel, a cruelly dispassionate wetwork operator and assasin for the Illusive Man, who's past is a jagged mess of regrets
-Prime 302, a battered survivor network of the Geth which is captured by Cerberus
-Shades-Of-Examined-Views, an Ascention Protocol Level III Collector captured by Cerberus
The first part of the work is a review of the galaxy overall, including the Citadel, and a quick review of the races of the MEVerse. After that, in rough order, each race is examined:
Asari, Salarians, and Turians, Batarians, Quarians, and Krogan all get full workups - their history, psychology, physiology, culture, famous people, and military.
The Volus, Vorcha, Elcor, Hanar, and Drell get more limited workups - a brief history, quick overview of phsyical and mental efforts, a few famous people, and a quick glance at the military.
The geth and Collectors are told as stories by their respective actors in interview form.
After this, the various alien analogs of Cerberus – the Asari Night-wind, Salarian Group of None, Turian Deathwatch, the Volus VDFT, the Batarian Special Intervention Unit, Drell Remembrance Dancers are all covered in brief writeups.
An appendix covers the what Cerberus has uncovered regarding the horrific truth behind the Reapers, the Darkness, and just how screwed the universe is. Giggle