Community Corner: Mass Effect Lore – Salarians

Community Corner

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Mass Effect Lore: Episode 4 – Salarians

by Adam Clark

In the field of science, it has been said that “if the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts,” and no other known species can do this better than the non-linear thinking Salarians. They prefer quality over quantity and when it comes to technology, they never settle for anything less than peerless innovation.

An amphibian race with a skeletal structure composed of mostly cartilage, the Salarians originated from their home world of Sur’Kesh, a humid jungle planet filled with diverse wildlife and abundant foliage. In the beginning of their civilization, Sur’Kesh was subjected to severe pollution as the Salarians became more industrious. They did not let this problem persist however. With their natural need for intellectual stimulation, the Salarians began to better utilize the natural resources of Sur’Kesh so growth could be achieved without a profoundly negative impact on the environment.

Strict rules and regulations for breeding are kept in place to keep the population from exceeding society’s production and to ensure the continuation of family bloodlines. Salarians are an oviparous race, with no concept of sexual attraction, or even romantic love. A female will lay a clutch of eggs and negotiations between family clans are held to determine which male will have the rights to fertilize them. Fertilized eggs will produce females while unfertilized eggs produce males.

Male Salarians certainly hold high positions of authority in business, scientific study, and the military, but the females are almost always the head of the family. Salarian females are rare even on their home planet, and the most powerful of them hold the majority of political leadership within the Salarian Union, the governing body of Sur’Kesh. The Union was designed by interbreeding the most influential families to form strong political alliances; this ensures the Salarians hold an undying loyalty to the first circle of their Union.

The Salarians were the second species to discover the Citadel, after the Asari. They opened diplomatic relations with the Asari and proposed the creation of the Citadel Council. As a gesture of good faith they opened the records of the League of One for the first time in their history.  This secretive Salarian intelligence agency was primarily used for espionage and assassination.  The League never held more than a dozen members whose identities were top secret information, known only by high ranking politicians and military leaders.

When the records were made public, the members of the League were concerned that this information would put them in danger, and disappeared from the public eye. Several months later the Salarian Union’s inner cabinet was murdered and it was assumed the former members of the League were responsible, though there was no evidence to support this theory. Even so, they were labeled a rouge faction and an enemy of the Salarians.

To find the culprits, the Salarians dispatched the Special Tasks Group, most effective counterterrorism and infiltration team they had to offer. These STG agents operated independently and discretely, much like the Council Spectres of today. Even though the team turned up no evidence of the Leagues involvement with the murder of the Union members, there have been no recorded League activities and it is assumed the League members were wiped out. To this day small medallions bearing the seal of the League can be found by scavengers on mummified Salarian corpses, or buried beneath ruins of abandoned outposts. These medallions are the only proof that the League of One ever existed.

The newly formed Salarian/Asari council’s goal was to expand from the Citadel and establish first contact with new races, incorporating them into council space. By activating dormant Mass Relays the council was able to extend its reach further across the Milky Way. It seemed that an age of peace and discovery was on the horizon.

This harmony was extremely short lived however. Only one year after the council’s formation, a Mass Relay was activated that lead to an unknown territory inhabited by an insect-like race, the Rachni. Originally from the planet Suen, the hive-minded Rachni hierarchy consists of workers, soldiers, brood warriors, and a queen. The Rachni swiftly captured the Salarian explorers and began to reverse engineer their FTL drives in order to create space faring vessels of their own. They began to rapidly and aggressively expand throughout the galaxy. Salarian attempts to negotiate with the Ranchi queens proved impossible. The queens lived far beneath the crust of their hostile home world, thus the Rachni Wars began.

The Rachni expanded and colonized new worlds at an alarming rate, and the Salarians were hard pressed to find a solution. Their enemy resided in the harshest environments that would almost instantly kill any Salarian or Asari that attempted to breech the hives. Even with superior Salarian technology the future for the council looked grim.

Eighty years later, the war reached a turning point when a new species, the Krogan were discovered on the war torn planet of Tuchanka. The Salarians discovered that the Krogan were able to survive deadly conditions and even penetrate Rachni hives. The Salarians convinced the Krogan to help in the war effort, and the Krogan were uplifted from their home world for the first time in known history, thirsty for blood.

The resilient Krogan stormed Rachni nests, systematically wiping out the hives one by one, until every last enemy was ash. The war was won and the Rachni; extinct. The Krogan were now able to expand freely and the Salarians established new laws forbidding the activation of any new Mass Relays without proper surveying and studying.

The Salarians knew the Krogan were a sturdy war hungry race, almost impossible to best in combat. What they didn’t realize was that the Krogan reproduced at phenomenal speed. The Krogan population erupted on multiple worlds and began to intrude on other species’ territory. After almost four-hundred year of over breeding, the council demanded that the Krogan withdraw from the Asari colony of Lusia, the Krogan refused and rebelled against the council.

The Krogan were easily able to replenish any forces and the council was once again at war. The Krogan Rebellions persisted for over a century and the council considered its options. The Salarians knew that the Krogan’s weakness was their lack of technology; they were violent brutes who always preferred a straight fight rather than fancy weapons and tactics, and the Salarians put a plan in motion to use this to their advantage.

The council was backed into corner, they could not defeat the Krogan conventionally, and they were expanding far too quickly for any other species to sustain itself beyond their own home planets. The brightest Salarian minds came together and created the Genophage, a bio-weapon designed to drastically reduce the number of viable pregnancies in Krogan females. The Genophage ensure that a Krogan fetus would not take to the mother’s womb and die in stillbirth. The Salarians hoped to use the Genophage as a bargaining chip, to be used only to intimidate the Krogan into submission under the threat of the devastating effects the Genophage could cause. A newly discovered race, the Turians held very different views on the situation, they saw the Krogan as a threat that needed to be dealt with, nothing more. Once the Genophage was completed, the Turians outfitted their ships with the bio-weapon, began its deployment, and the Krogan population slowly receded.

With the Krogan Rebellions over, the Salarians and the council have enjoyed a time of peace. Salarian scientists have been able to perform remarkable tasks. Their navy is much smaller than most, but they make up for the lack in numbers with cutting-edge technology. By researching the stealth technology used by the Alliance vessel SSV Normandy, the Salarians were able to outfit their heavy cruisers with stealth technology, a feat that was once considered impossible. While most other naval fleets use infrared anti-ship lasers, the Salarian fleets have harnessed ultraviolet energy, a very costly yet extremely effective form of attack.

Science becomes a dangerous weapon when the men and women who practice it only ask themselves “could we?” And cease to ask “should we?” The aftermath of the Krogan rebellions has left the Krogan numbers dwindling and would-be Krogan mothers are forced to live with knowing the life growing inside them will most likely never be born.

The Krogan have now lived with the Genophage for hundreds of years, it infects every cell in their body, rendering gene therapy useless. They are bitter, violent, and in danger of extinction, but that is a story for another day.

— Adam Clark