The Encyclopedia Biotica : A compilation of biotics
A/N: Please note that almost all the other chapters were also updated, especially the powers compendium.
Perspectives on Biotics : Salarians : Conversation between Eni Galsha and the Citadel Council, 2160.
Eni Galsha waited calmly as the Council took its places and the various functionaries settled down.
As usual, the council chambers were lushly decorated. The most startling change was the replacement of the faintly glowing flametrees of Thessia with pink-blossomed trees from the human planet Earth.
They smelled nice, he decided, as he focused on the Councilors. Of the three, he distrusted the asari Councilor, Seshna Vabo, the most. Her assistant, Tevos T'Sael, was rumored to be the next Councilor, although until this point most of the major families of the Thirty had always held the post.
Seshna was likely to cause trouble in this meeting, as she was given to extreme unpredictability in her old age.
The other two, the turian Councilor Yetras Mantha and the salarian Councilor Univ Dasso, were more easy to anticipate. The turian would fear and hate biotics, while his own Councilor had no doubt already been given 'suggestions' by the SIX. It was really all quite wearisome, in Galsha's eyes, yet that was what it meant to be a salarian biotic - explaining what others had ignored in favor of mystical claptrap.
Seshna lifted her chin. "This meeting of the Citadel Council is now in session, to discuss the requests of the Salarian Institute of the Mind. Cera Galsha?"
He calmly lifted his head and spoke, his voice soft but clear. "Thank you, Councilors. I wish to preface my request with a short statement. Salarians do not see biotics as dangerous, or mystical, or anything but yet another tool - one that can be used in the exploration of the universe and gathering knowledge, or one that can be turned to other, darker purposes."
He folded his hands behind his back. "I would argue that the training of the average salarian biotic results in a much different outcome than the ... methods ... used by the turian Cabals or even your own educational system, Councilor Seshna. I would also argue that the differences have resulted in a much better understanding of just exactly how biotics 'works' in several areas before left to chance and experiment."
He flicked his eyes back and forth over the group before continuing. "The Institute of the Mind believes that proper exploration of biotic principles entails a greater sharing of basic biotic data. I am not talking about various powers or uses of biotics. Rather, the medical records of growing biotics, measurements of energy expended versus caloric intake, and that line of information. Yet I have been informed that such information is held 'secret' by your races."
"My contention is that you should allow this information to be shared, so that we can improve our understandings of biotics and improve the lives and health of all biotic practitioners."
Seshna nodded. "I ... see. A question: Do you not think, given the method in which your STG creates salarians, that such a request would meet with some level of concern."
He inclined his own head. "I am of the opinion that how other races see our methods has no material impact on the sharing of data."
The old asari's lips twitched. "Is that so? Humor me, then, if you would. Salarian methods involve testing and contaminating many eggs, with high rates of failure, and then condemning the resulting biotic to a lifetime of service to the government. You will pardon me if I find handing over any kind of data that will be used in such a ... morally dubious method as a non-starter."
The salarian councilor frowned. "I wasn't aware we were here to listen to you imply there is a problem with our government, Councilor Vabo. Perhaps we should suggest that, given the activities of your house and that of certain guests there, asari should not be involved in the question how to react to the hanar?"
Eni Galsha made a slashing motion. "It is irrelevant. How my people view biotics has nothing to do with research."
The turian snorted. "Of course it does, when you plan to use said research to manipulate and create stronger biotics who are basically slaves."
Galsha sighed. "No salarian is a slave, Councilors. Our people simply see the situation differently. A salarian who becomes a biotic does so at a cost of several million credits, directly spent by the salarian government. The fact that such beings will spend a good portion of life in service to the state is no more 'slavery' than the turian practice of forcing every adult into the military, or all turian biotics - who are not invested in - into isolation and segregation."
He folded his arms, glaring at the turian councilor, who met his stare evenly. After a long moment, the asari councilor made a gesture of siari frustrated and spoke. "Cera Galsha, please attempt to understand our viewpoints on this. Whatever the Hierarchy chooses to do is up to it. They do not, however, do so in ignorance - biotics have caused issues in the past for turians in general. Furthermore, they are not asking for often important and classified data to be freely released in the pursuit of creating more powerful biotics, as you are doing."
Galsha shrugged. "I was a product of this program, councilors. From my earliest memories, I was trained and taught in the ways of becoming a biotic master of form and function. I never saw it as 'slavery' - it was what some might call my destiny. And in the process of learning about biotics, I can safely say that my research - which I have shared freely - has produced a great change in the way that biotics is viewed - as merely scientific phenomena, rather than some mystical power that cannot be explained."
The turian flicked a mandible. "Which is why, no doubt, your own Union terms your kind 'mystics'? You will of course excuse me while I engage in some hollow laughter at the concept that the salarian 'method' is anything admirable. Biotics are dangerous in the minds of most. Asari are one thing, in that they are natural to that species and they train for decades on their proper use. My own people heavily restrict biotics for both their own safety and to prevent the cabals from becoming corrupted and turned against us."
He gestured with one hand. "But your proposed course of study flies in the face of that. It seeks to attempt to catalog the changes that eezo makes on every races's metabolism and body in the course of forming biotic power. It seeks detailed neural mappings of biotics to pursue - how did you put it - 'the baseline reaction on an interaction level of the formation of a biotic's interface to mass effect fields'. Are we then to imagine that you will only use said knowledge in a manner from which the Union will not grow stronger?"
The salarian councilor raised his voice. "You should assume the Institute of the Mind will release any such finding that have any impact on the practice and study of biotic as a whole, councilor. Salarian interest in biotics is no different than our interest in plasma, or mass effect fields, or optronics. These are merely fields to be studied and learned from - hiding our results is not our intent."
Seshna smiled. "Then convince me, Galsha, that the perspective I hold is flawed."
The salarian biotic closed his eyes, then focused on his inner calm, the point between waking awareness and trance that they called the m'Stha, the betweening place. He held that, focusing on a note of song, on the smell of the alien trees, on the feel of the slightly sloped decking beneath his boots, and cleared his mind.
"To the salarian, what we experience is not biotics for the sake of combat. It changes us. Our perspectives slow, our frenetic pace falters, and we have time not to merely catalog and know but to wonder and ask why. Set aside the concerns of the heavy foot of government. Is there no room for wonder and curiosity in the turian soul, or the asari mind? How can you wield this power, this poorly understood thing that allows a civilian in plain clothes the same kind of power as a squad of heavily armed soldiers, and not ask yourself how it actually works?"
He opened his eyes. "Is there a possibility the results of what I learn, and what the Institute gains, will be used to improve salarian biotics? Of course. The same could be said of any research we seek to undertake. But I would also say that if you ever wish the mind of my people to be turned from attempting to derive actionable intel or advantage from everything we do and shape our path, then you must be ready to run that risk in hope that the sheer beauty and mystery of what biotics is will, in this case, outweigh the military applications."
He flicked his finger, and a tiny spike of biotic power lanced out, barely clipping the edge of one of the cherry blossom trees, plucking several pink petals loose to soar lightly across the span between the Council and the petitioners pier, carrying the scent with them as they tumbled past Seshna. Galsha gave a narrow smile.
"Not all power must be turned to the pursuit of more power. If my people's ways seem brutal or strange, then there can be no changing who and what we are without compromise."
The asari woman looked troubled for a long moment, while the turian was clearly not convinced. Then again, Galsha mused, he didn't expect to convince the turian. he knew full well the one to affect was the asari.
After long seconds, she finally gave a small smile. "And if we demand to be able to introduce an observer into this process?"
Galsha shrugged. "We would ask that anyone you send at least be ... knowledgeable of biotics in general and be willing to participate in testing."
The asari councilor laughed. "Very well. Strangely touching for a salarian. I expected a diatribe on the utility of power."
The salarian shook his head. "Batarian viewpoints are not logical. Power cannot be both a method of pursuit and an ultimate goal. Biotics isn't power. It is potential."
Mantha flicked his mandibles. "Vakar dung. It is nothing but power. Your own kind should know that. By the Titans, your very eyes glow with the power you contain!"
Galsha turned to face him. "Yet it by my skill alone that I can set my mind in motion. It is only by the use...the grace, if you will, of eezo, that 'thought' becomes 'force', that my eyes acquire a glow, and that glow becomes a dire warning." He folded his arms. "And ultimately, neither raw sheer power nor brutal and ruthless action is a match for the mind, for flexibility, for utility."
He bowed deeply. "I have made my requests, which you have clearly perused. Whatever answer you choose will in turn direct the focus of the Institute. If we are treated as little more than weapons of war and extensions of salarian political intent, that is how we will serve. If we are treated as the distinguished, open minded and information-free institution we have striven to build for the past two hundred years, then that is how we will continue to act. The choice - and consequences - are yours to make, honored Councilors."