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Mass Effect Lore: Episode 1 – Humans and the Alliance
by Adam Clark
Humans have been explorers and discoverers ever since they left their caves. The most famous of them accidently discovered entire new continents while attempting to prove their home planet wasn’t flat. Others discovered that the Earth was part of a whole set of planets that rotated around a star, not the other way around. Almost every new discovery will lead to internal and sometimes external power struggles, and humans were fooling themselves if they thought an entire galaxy worth of discoveries would be any different.
Earth- birthplace of Humanity, an overpopulated, over heated slum where thousands of Humans are killed daily by disease, famine and war, war for recourses, war for profit, and war for survival. The planet had become too small and crowded. Humans needed to look to the stars for expansion. In the one thousandth and sixty ninth year of the Galactic Standard Timeline, A Human Named Neil Armstrong was the first of his kind to reach Earth’s moon, Luna. Humans had landed on a celestial body other than Earth for the first time in history. One hundred years after landing, the first Human settlement was founded on Luna and named after the first to ever step foot on its surface.
As technology advanced, and Humans were able to lift themselves even further into the heavens, Earth entered a new age. With more breathing room, humans were able to colonize the other planets and moons within the Sol System. Corporations extracted Helium-3, an extremely rare fuel on Earth from Saturn’s atmosphere. Mining operations were constructed on Luna and Mars. Disease and pollution were on the decline and more resources were harvested.
In 2148, the ruins of an ancient space faring civilization were discovered on Mars. It was obvious that whoever built this outpost was hundreds if not thousands of years more technologically advanced, and scientists were foaming at the mouth to unlock its secrets. The greatest discovery the Mars ruins yielded was refined pockets of a new element dubbed Element Zero, or Eezo. Using electrical currents, enough Eezo can raise or lower the mass of any object, creating a ‘Mass Effect’ primarily used for “Faster than Light” travel. Traveling between the planets of the Sol system was no longer a daunting task. After much study and debate, it was discovered that the race that left the Mars outpost were called Protheans, and they haven’t been back to Sol in at least fifty-thousand years.
Science had advanced further in a year than it had over the entire course of Earth’s history, but Humanity is notorious for being a gullible, yet stubborn species. When the Mars ruins were discovered, the domain of religion was shook to its core. Most of Earth’s major religions were based on the belief of deities that were not of this universe who created the worlds with nothing more than thought and will. Beliefs sprang up claiming that the evolution of Humanity was designed by the Protheans, and the more radical diehard zealots of the old religions were willing to go to extreme measures to protect their belief structure. The fear of such a sudden dramatic shift in the social standard could be enough to provoke hostility and violence, but as religion was being torn apart, politicians were uniting.
Considering that the Protheans might still be out there, Earth’s governments adopted an “us vs. them” mentality. Eighteen of Earth’s largest nations came to a consensus and drafted a charter to establish an independent body of government to represent all of Humanity, somewhat similar to the United Nations of the 20th and 21st centuries. The Systems Alliance was born.
The need to explore is never ending, and Humans knew that their system of planets was only a small fraction of the Milky Way. The FTL drives Humans used weren’t sufficient for travel beyond Sol. A massive amount of Element Zero would be needed, much more than Humanity would ever have in its possession; then a new discovery was made.
In 2149 the Humans discovered that Pluto’s moon, Charon, was not a moon at all. It was a massive, derelict space station encased in ice. Upon reactivation, it was unveiled that this station housed an Eezo core large enough to send a fleet to the far ends of the Galaxy. It was assumed that this Mass Relay was created by the same kind who left the ruins on Mars; the race of people who came before and vanished without a trace, whose technology Humans now based their entire way of life. But where would this relay take them? What was waiting on the other side?
A score of probes was sent though the relay, with no successful communication after departure. The Alliance then decided that a team of explorers would have to be sent through. A surly man named Jon Grissom was chosen to lead an expedition through the relay and back. It was discovered by Grissom’s team that the relays were part of a galaxy wide network, making travel throughout the Milky Way possible. After the team returned to Sol, Jon Grissom was elevated to hero status and unwillingly became the face of Humanity.
The Alliance knew that after going through the relay, they might not be uncharted territory. Someone else might have already discovered the other end of the pipe. An alien race with superior technological war machines and itchy trigger fingers was the biggest fear, or maybe the Protheans, who built the relays and left the Eezo for Humans to find, was waiting. It was widely accepted that first contact was inevitable and the Alliance needed the means to defend Earth’s interests; it needed soldiers.
Using a modified version of the Rank-and-file system that Earth’s armies have used for hundreds of years, the Alliance began to recruit ground units, fighter pilots, officers, and specialists; thousands were called to serve. Unfortunately not many answered the call. Roughly fewer than three percent of Humanity enlisted in the Alliance military. To make up for the lack in numbers, The Alliance offered diverse training and implemented unique and advanced warfare suites throughout the naval fleet.
To this day the Alliance Navy is a powerhouse that can hold its own against any rival fleet in the Galaxy. The Navy is charged with protecting Human colonies and any newly discovered Mass Relays, ship to ship combat, kinetic-bombardments, and getting Marine boots on the ground. The First and largest fleet is responsible for guarding the Relay that connects directly to Sol. The first and last line of defense for Earth, the First Fleet is ready to jump at a moment’s notice.
Since its beginning and expansion, the Alliance has established another school of training. The Interplanetary Combatives Training or ITC is where the Alliance’s prime soldiers train to become unparalleled masters of combat and exceptional leaders. Full graduates of this program are given the vocational code N7, the highest combative rank the Alliance has to offer. Hopefuls are put though a grueling twenty hour a day training process, left in hostile territory, deprived of food, water, and sleep, and that’s before they are even accepted into what some applicants call “N-school”. Trainees who pass the ‘wash out’ process are invited to return and given the rank of N1. Don’t be fooled however, even an N1 merits respect and sometimes intimidation throughout the entire Alliance. N6 is officially the highest grade of training officers can achieve in the ITC. They operate in high risk and danger close combat zones. If an N6 performs admirably and effectively, they will be given the coveted rank of N7.
When the Alliance activated the Charon Relay, Humanity’s curiosity was peaked. They began to send military and civilian ships through the relay network to colonize as many systems as possible. Every relay lead to a new system and almost every system linked with another. Mining, manufacturing, scientific study; the applications were limitless.
Major consortiums started to colonize other worlds like Demeter, Eden Prime, and Terra Nova. Humans began to find and activate new dormant relays across the Milky Way. Today this practice is Illegal and considered highly dangerous and irresponsible, but the Humans couldn’t have known that. They had never met another species during their short years of space travel. Nonetheless, their actions were attracting unknown attention.
A species who was already comfortable navigating the galaxy and had asserted dominance over lesser races was watching them, ready to strike. For the Humans, first contact was about to be made, but that is a story for another day.
— Adam Clark