Community Corner: Mass Effect Lore – Geth

Community Corner

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Mass Effect Lore: Episode 8 – Geth

by Adam Clark

All sentient individuals experience life differently. Sometimes our paths will intersect in ways that we never imagined possible, and the same story is never told twice. The only constant in our chaotic galaxy is that one day, our time here will end. Death is a certainty that every being must face, whether they are prepared to or not. The synthetic Geth have either transcended beyond this notion, or it does not apply to them.

The Geth or “servant of the people” in the Khelish tongue were originally created by the Quarians as a labor force.  Somewhat resembling their Quarian creators, the Geth are comprised of a durable solid outer shell and a synthetic muscle tissue that give them unmatched agility, strength, and speed.  Geth are capable of complex thought and strategizing but they are not a true hive mind, they cannot share data universally over their network or across any distance. Individual Geth programs possess no more than the most basic animal instincts; however groups of Geth in close proximity can share information through a small network. An elite team of Geth soldiers can be as brilliant as a battalion of the Alliance’s top researchers. If the body of a Geth were destroyed, its programs would simply transfer to another unit, or a local hub.

All organics possess certain aspects that make them who they are; the mind, body, and soul. The Geth mind is made up of hundreds of virtual intelligence programs working together to form an artificial intellect, which is constantly being transferred into and from server hubs in which the majority of Geth programs reside.  The body of a Geth is little more than a mobile platform for the intelligence programs; albeit a mobile platform capable of defending itself with plasma based weaponry. The soul is a controversial topic, even among organics; but the mere notion of a Geth having a soul sparked a war that drove Rannoch’s entire Quarian population from her surface. The Morning War was brought on by fear and misunderstandings.  A Quarian overseer of Geth labor units was asked a very simple, yet terrifying question from a Geth: “does this unit have a soul?”

The Quarians had manipulated Geth systems so drastically; they feared that they had created a true artificial intelligence.  A sentient mind, capable of independent thought and able to make drastic decisions was a scenario the Quarians had never prepared for and the Quarian government ordered the immediate termination of all Geth units. During the initial skirmishes of the war, very few Geth took up arms against their creators.  The Geth only wished to protect the units who were unable to defend themselves and the sympathetic Quarians who sheltered them. Full scale war initiated as more Geth fought back, and within a year, the Morning War had ended, and Rannoch belonged to the Geth.

It has been speculated that the Geth never wished to engage in hostilities with the Quarian people, that they even feel remorse for the genocide they committed against their creators. Even as the Quarians have long since forgotten their own people who protected the Geth in the early days of the war, the Geth have archived their memory as a tribute to their sacrifice. Quarian buildings are useless to the Geth, yet they are preserved as if to serve as a monument in dedication to the fallen Quarians.

For hundreds of years, the Geth have isolated themselves from the rest of the galaxy. Their programs lie in wait inside computer hubs while automated hardware gathers needed recourses and clears the debris left in the wake of the Morning War. They have been free to turn Rannoch into a fortress and amass a fleet with horrifying and deadly new technology. They have no need for a government, money, or political favors; the goal of all Geth is the advancement of their race by any means necessary. Rather than valuing individuality, the Geth prefer to share thoughts, and experiences. Geth do not wish to hide any information, personal or otherwise from their fellow Geth.  They view their society as a whole, rather than trillions of individual programs.  This makes privacy an alien concept among the Geth, no information is kept to a single unit. Even though the Geth are incapable of deceiving each other, they are more than capable and willing to deceive other races.

It is currently unknown if Geth are able to speak with each other in the traditional sense. It is a matter of Quarian record that the Geth have spoken to the creators before the war, but do not verbally interact with fellow Geth. After all, what good is speaking when you can digitally share every thought in your mind in an instant? This makes the Geth far more unknowable than anyone; especially the Quarians would care to admit.

Some experts on Geth culture have theorized that the Geth have developed a form of religion; worshiping superior technology rather than a single or a set of deities. This is a terrifying concept when considering that there is a possibility of a deadlier foe with greater technology than even the Geth.  Military factions in the Milky Way don’t generally consider Geth an active threat given their voluntary isolation behind the Perseus Veil, however if a new race were ever discovered that somehow managed to ally itself with the Geth, the Galaxy could face an enemy force beyond all possible comprehension.

The Quarians are not the only people to lose their home world. Two hundred years ago, a humanoid reptilian race was forced off their planet, not by war, but by the planet itself. The environment became dangerously unstable and less than one-percent of the population survived. Fortunately the few surviving remnants were given permanent sanctuary by another species and an alliance has developed out of fierce loyalty and gratitude, but that is a story for another day.

— Adam Clark