Community Corner: Mass Effect Lore – Cerberus

Community Corner

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Mass Effect Lore: Episode 3 – Cerberus

by Adam Clark

A shadow organization, funded by an Earth based starship manufacturer, and named after a hellhound of ancient Earth mythology, Cerberus has dealings in gruesome experimentation on aliens and fellow humans, political scandals, assassinations, and terrorist attacks. To Cerberus, humans are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and anyone who takes a stand against them publicly or otherwise might as well put an M-3 Predator to their own temple and pull the trigger.

Like most extremist groups, Cerberus is a product of war, specifically the First Contact War. Jack Harper was a mercenary under the command of General Williams. During the war he was ordered to capture a Turian General, Desolas Arterius, who was on Shanxi searching for a crashed Turian research vessel. After the successful capture of Desolas, Harper came in direct contact with a strange artifact that nearly killed him.

Soon after, he began to experience shattered visions of death and destruction. He could understand a strange language that the Turians were speaking, words that no other human in the Alliance could comprehend. He didn’t know the artifacts origins or purpose, the only thing Harper knew was that it had changed him.

By the time the war was over, General Desolas had retaken possession of the mysterious artifact, and after leaving the Alliance, Harper took it upon himself to find it. His exploits lead him to a temple on Palaven, where Desolas planned to use the artifact to create a legion of perfect Turian super soldiers. Harper convinced Desolas’ brother Saren that these goals were insane, that the Turian soldiers his brother was attempting to make would ultimately turn on all of them.  Saren was convinced of this truth, and contacted Palaven command. He ordered an orbital strike on the temple under the guise of preventing a bio-weapon outbreak. The temple, the artifact, and Desolas were no more.

After the death of General Arterius, Harper realized that humanity would not always be welcomed by the other races of the galaxy. He recorded a manifesto that soon after emerged on the extranet proclaiming dark times ahead, the testing of humanity, and the call to meet the coming challenges. The recording was dismissed as “survivalist rhetoric written by an illusive man” and began to fade from interest.

In 2165 a failed attempt to steal antimatter from the Alliance resulted in the resurfacing of the manifesto when the sole survivor named Cerberus as his employer. The name Cerberus grew and soon Humans who shared the Illusive man’s dream were recruited into the group.

Over the years Cerberus activity had become more prevalent. Professionally executed and heinous acts were carried out in the name of Human dominance.  In 2170 Paul Grayson, a Cerberus operative carried out a plot to sabotage  an Element Zero loaded freighter belonging to the Eldfell-Ashland Energy Corporation. The ship exploded over the Alliance colony Yondoa, exposing its entire population to the toxic debris.  This was the culmination of several Eezo related attacks engineered by Cerberus in for the purpose of studying the effects of Eezo on humans.

The Illusive Man’s reach has extended across the Galaxy, even into religion and politics. The assassination of Pope Clement XVI was arranged and carried out by Cerberus in order to replace him with Leo XIV, because of the values he shared with Cerberus.

In 2173 Claude Menneau was the prime candidate to be the new leader of the Terra Firma party, but the Illusive Man decided he wasn’t the best choice to further the goals of Cerberus. Tasking Paul Grayson and another shadow operative posing as a bodyguard for Menneau, his assassination was carried out ensuring the desired candidate was the victor. Charles Saracino ran unopposed and became the new head of the party.

Cerberus operatives know that terrorism and murder are brutal methods, but the result justifies their actions.  However there are some Cerberus operations that are so insidious, even most agents and officers can’t know about their existence. On the planet Pragia, Cerberus built a research facility devoted to unlocking true biotic potential in Humans. Life forms with the ability to create Mass Effect fields with one’s own body by utilizing trace amounts of Element Zero embedded in the skin are called biotics, and the Illusive Man knew this was going to play a pivotal role in Humanity’s ascension.

The Teltin Facility was built and staffed by scientists who could be trusted with highly sensitive information, not to mention a strong stomach. To produce substantial biotic abilities in humans, Cerberus knew that it had be grown and nurtured from adolescence, therefore the only viable test subjects were young children.  In 2165 a four year old human female was abducted from a human colony, Eden Prime. She was stripped of her name and given the designation “Subject Zero”.  The process required horrifying tests and procedures to be ran on other children. If the expendable subjects survived their procedures and the result was an increase in biotic ability, the procedure was carried out on Subject Zero; most subjects did not survive. Subject Zero was tortured daily, both mentally and physically to discover how pain and stress affected her biotic abilities.

Officially, all subjects besides Zero are allowed time to interact with each other in the facility’s controlled vivarium. Unofficially, the guards of the facility would sometimes pit the children against each other for fights to bet on, and because Zero was allowed to participate, she was injected with narcotics to induce a sense of euphoria, further advancing her desire for killing. The Illusive Man knows that extreme caution must be taken at Teltin. The public can never know what goes on there, and no subject can ever be able to escape.

When it comes to its foes, Cerberus doesn’t discriminate. Any Human who won’t cooperate with the Illusive man is just as much a threat as a hostile alien species. Cerberus knows the Alliance is too dependent on public opinion to assert any real dominance over the Council races, this makes them an enemy. Any chance Cerberus get to undermine the Alliance, they will take. Alliance personnel make durable test subjects, and with the right methods of persuasion, great allies. If an enemy combatant has the skills the Illusive Man desires, he will always attempt to indoctrinate them into Cerberus.

After being incarcerated for murder, a former N7 Alliance Lieutenant was approached to work for Cerberus. His unmatched ability in combat made him the perfect candidate to be an assassin for the Illusive Man. He was implanted with Cerberus Phantom-Class cybernetics and after a decade of service, Kai Leng became the Illusive Man’s most trusted operative.

The ability to convert your enemies can be a powerful tactic in war, and Cerberus knows there is a war coming. For humanity to rise, blood must be shed. Whose blood depends on who will be foolish enough to stand against the might of the Illusive man and his growing army, an army of sadistic terrorists, advanced combat mechs, and morally indifferent scientists.

Science has become a highly sought after commodity in the Milky Way. It lifted life to the stars, cures diseases and plagues, and gives armies the necessary means to defend its people. A highly skilled scientist can be more valuable than a dozen heavy cruisers, and there is one species out there with a natural ability in the field, but that is a story for another day.

— Adam Clark