The Citadel Council is the governing body of the Citadel. Convening in the impressive Citadel Tower, the Council is the ultimate authority in Citadel space, passing judgement for violations of Council law, settling disputes between governments, and maintaining law and order, often through the use of its own covert intelligence service, the Spectres. The Council is an executive committee composed of one representative each from the member species. Though they have no official power over the independent governments of other species, the Council's decisions carry great weight throughout the galaxy. No single Council race is strong enough to defy the others, and all have a vested interest in compromise and cooperation. Each of the Council species has general characteristics associated with the various aspects of governing the galaxy. The asari are typically seen as diplomats and mediators. The salarians gather intelligence and information. The turians provide the bulk of the military and peacekeeping forces. Any species granted an embassy on the Citadel is considered an associate member, bound by the accords of the Citadel Conventions. Associate members may bring issues to the attention of the Council, though they have no impact on their final decision.
The Citadel Council was founded in 500 BCE by the asari and salarians, the first two races to independently discover the Citadel, believed to be a triumph of the lost Prothean civilization, at the hub of the mass relay network. It was the asari who suggested forming a governing body aboard the space station in partnership with the newcomer salarians. The founding of the Council marks the beginning of the Galactic Standard (GS) calendar, the year 0 GS. Over the next 500 years, the Council rapidly expanded outward from the Citadel, encountering several new races and incorporating them into the growing galactic community. The volus were the earliest known race that the Council made first contact with; in 200 BCE, the Council grants the volus an embassy at the Citadel in recognition of their contributions to Citadel space, including the Unified Banking Act which establish the credit as a standard currency. Along with the volus, the batarians, elcor, hanar, and quarians were also welcomed to the fold during this time.
The Rachni Wars
The times of peaceful first contact ended abruptly for the Council with the accidental discovery of the rachni around 1 CE. The hive-minded, insect-like rachni reacted with extreme hostility and initiated a large-scale war with the races of Citadel space. Negotiation with the rachni queens was impossible; the queens could not be contacted in their underground nests on the rachni worlds. A turning point in the war came when the salarians made first contact with the krogan in 80 CE, who had been living in the post-apocalyptic ruins of their homeworld Tuchanka for nearly two thousand years. The krogan were uplifted and manipulated into serving as soldiers for the Council. The resilient krogan succeeded where other Citadel races could not. Able to survive on the harsh rachni worlds, the krogan stormed rachni nests and exterminated queens one by one. By 300 CE, the rachni were declared extinct. As a reward for their service, the krogan were given a new, pristine homeworld. A lasting result of the Rachni Wars was the Council's establishment of new laws which prohibited the activation of uncharted mass relays.
Some 400 years after the end of the Rachni Wars, the Council once again found itself embroiled in a galaxy-wide conflict. The krogan, having exploded in numbers and encroaching on the territories of other races, were asked by the Council to withdraw from the asari colony of Lusia. Outraged, the krogan refused. The Council ordered the recently-formed Special Tactics and Reconnaissance division to make a preemptive strike against krogan infrastructures, and the Krogan Rebellions began. This conflict persisted for a century, ending only after the Council made first contact with the turians, who agreed the krogan were a threat and declared war against them. The turians inflicted a lethal blow using the salarian-developed genophage; without the ability to quickly replenish their forces, the krogan dwindled. Following the Rebellions, the Citadel Conventions were drawn up. By 900 CE, the turians have filled the military and peacekeeping niche in Citadel space vacated by the krogan. In recognition of their role during and after the Rebellions, the turians were inducted into the Citadel Council as the third race with full membership.
Expansion, Conflict, and Humanity
The next thousand years were relatively peaceful ones for the Council, interrupted only by some minor galactic incidents and the Geth War of 1895 CE. In that conflict, the quarians were driven from their worlds by the geth, machines created to serve the quarians that had achieved artificial intelligence and rebelled. With invasion by the geth an immediate threat, the Council refused the quarians' pleas for help and revoked their Citadel embassy, and also implemented restrictive laws on AI research and development. During this time the Council continued to explore the galaxy, encountering new races with varied success. One diplomatic failure occurred with the yahg, a pre-spaceflight race discovered by Council surveyors in 2125 CE. A Council delegation was dispatched to the yahg homeworld Parnack, expecting to quickly establish diplomatic relations. Unfortunately, the predatory yahg misinterpreted the delegation's non-subservient behaviors as an attitude of contempt and promptly slaughtered the delegates. The Council responded by cutting off contact with the yahg and declaring Parnack off-limits to Citadel races; the Council asserted that the extremely aggressive yahg were poorly suited to integrate with the galactic community. In 2157 CE, Council intervened in the Relay 314 Incident. A brief conflict instigated by the turians against the newly-encountered humans for what the turians viewed as a breach of galactic law, the First Contact War, as humans referred to it, was brought to an end when both sides prepared to escalate their involvement. The Council revealed itself and the existence of the galactic community to humanity and brokered a peace agreement which forced the turians to pay significant reparations. Humanity quickly rose to prominence and was granted an embassy on the Citadel in 2165 CE. After their top Spectre agent, Saren Arterius, reported the Alliance's illegal AI research on Sidon, the Council holographically confronted the first human ambassador, Anita Goyle and announced they would impose heavy sanctions on the Alliance with regular reports from personal overseers. Goyle predicted their ulterior motives - intending to curb humanity's rapid growth and expansion - managed to negotiate a better deal with a passionate speech about humanity's growth as a species. Goyle later asked for an audience with the Council, diplomatically offering Alliance participation in taking down the rogue AI researcher, Dr. Shu Qian, on Camala. She offered the services of one of the Alliance's most decorated officers, Lieutenant David Anderson and had him paired up with Saren, to assess his Spectre candidacy. As Goyle left, she realised that the Council had anticipated all her requests, agreed measures in advance, and subtly let her know that she had a lot to learn about galactic politics.
Unfortunately, Saren secretly sabotaged the mission and falsified his report to make Anderson look responsible for the destruction of a refinery that killed hundreds of innocent people. It was enough for the Council to bar Anderson from the Spectres. After Saren stole Dr. Qian's research, the Council had no other evidence of the supposed artifact that Dr. Qian had discovered, and refused to investigate further without proof. Shepard's induction into the Spectres is seen as the first step toward humanity getting a seat on the Citadel Council, but this is a thorny issue as humans are still newcomers. Initially the Council are reluctant to bow to the pressure from Ambassador Udina, but proof of Saren Arterius' treachery, and Saren's vendetta against humans, forces their hand. However, the Council do not want to send their fleet into the Attican Traverse, as this could trigger a war with the Terminus Systems. They task Shepard with tracking Saren down and give the commander authority to use any means necessary to apprehend or eliminate him. At the end of each mission, Shepard has the opportunity to report back to the Council from the Normandy's comm room and discuss matters with them. Despite this, many humans still see the Citadel Council as anti-human and excessively cautious, which is not entirely unjustified. Much to Shepard's annoyance, throughout the mission the Council refuses to see the Reapers as anything more than a story Saren is using to control the geth, and dismisses the commander's vision as a simple dream. They further justify that their own intelligence sources did not uncover anything Reaper-related. The salarian councilor explains their position: the Council's decisions affect trillions of lives across the galaxy, and they cannot act on the say-so of a single person, even a Spectre, without evidence. After Shepard discovers that the Conduit is on Ilos, gains the co-ordinates for the Mu Relay to reach the planet and discovers that Saren and Sovereign are planning to attack the Citadel itself, the Council sends word that they are putting together a massive joint-species fleet to handle Saren and the geth. But when Shepard returns, the commander realizes the Council are only prepared to put up a blockade to stop Saren reaching the Citadel itself, and they have no intention of going to Ilos. The Mu Relay's position means the presence of a Council fleet there could start a war with the Terminus Systems. The Council remains convinced that the Reapers aren't real, only seeing Saren as a master manipulator who plots to attack the Citadel and wouldn't reveal his true motives. Shepard's protests only result in the Normandy being grounded by Udina, while the Council quietly closes diplomatic channels. Shepard manages to escape the Citadel, but the Council has no time to retaliate, as they are soon faced with a massive geth armada led by Sovereign. When the Citadel fails to respond, the Council is evacuated to the Destiny Ascension, which then comes under heavy fire. Shepard, returning to the Citadel via the Conduit, has a choice of how to deploy the Alliance Navy ships as reinforcements, ultimately deciding the fate of the Council and the future politics of Citadel space. Focusing on Sovereign and abandoning the Council sees the Destiny Ascension destroyed and the Council killed, resulting in a new Council being formed with Captain Anderson or Ambassador Udina as chairman. Depending on the player's paragon/renegade score, Ambassador Udina either states the necessity for the new Council to be assembled of only one species - the humans, or merely calls for a human chairman in a multi-species Council. This however has no real impact on the story, as Mass Effect 2 will not treat these outcomes differently. Alternatively the Alliance fleet can save the Ascension and the Council, albeit at the cost of many human lives - in this event, the Council accepts that the Reapers are real and humans are invited to join the Council, with either Captain Anderson or Ambassador Udina as representative. Either way, the galaxy would look to humanity and the Council for guidance against the Reaper threat.
The Council was contacted by the batarian ambassador, Jath'Amon, with the intention of bringing about a reconciliation between the batarians and the Citadel races. Meanwhile, Jacob Taylor, a former marine of the Systems Alliance, was investigating batarian activity with the help of informant Miranda Lawson. During their investigations, they discovered that the true purpose of the peace talks was to facilitate an assassination attempt on the Council by means of a deadly bio-weapon. After confronting Jath'Amon with the evidence of his treachery during a Council meeting, the batarian released the weapon and infected the Council. Jacob repelled the batarian insurgents and brought Jath'Amon to justice. With the help of an antidote manufactured by the asari scientist Batha, the councilors were cured of their infection before any major harm could befall them. If the Council is saved, then humanity gains their full trust. Either Anderson or Udina is appointed as the human Councilor, with the other becoming their assistant. Nonetheless, there is not enough evidence to prove to the Council that the Reapers exist, even from what few fragments of Sovereign were recovered. When Commander Shepard returned from the dead, thanks to Cerberus, the Council was skeptical of their former Spectre's claims about the Collectors abducting human colonies. They were even more wary that Shepard was working with Cerberus, an acknowledged terrorist organization. Though the Council cannot take any official action, they offer to restore full Spectre privileges to Shepard on the condition that the Commander restricts operations to the Terminus Systems. Shepard can accept or refuse the offer. If the original Council died, the new Council will refuse to meet with Shepard. If Anderson is Councilor, the Commander can still be granted Spectre status, but this is played down as being a mostly symbolic gesture. If Udina is Councilor, then Shepard will not be granted Spectre status (this is the default condition for players who do not import a Mass Effect game file into Mass Effect 2). In 2186 CE, Councilor Udina informs Captain Bailey that C-SEC has been compromised and is working to undermine the Council. Bailey's investigation results in the death of Executor Pallin and Bailey's promotion to Commander, despite Bailey's reservations about Pallin's guilt. Udina does not elaborate on the nature of C-SEC's or Pallin's activities.
The Citadel is a massive space station, constructed over 50 millennia ago in the heart of the Serpent Nebula, close to the star known as the Widow. The nexus of the galactic community, it acts as its political, cultural, and financial capital, housing the Citadel Council, a powerful, multi-species governing body. The Citadel is hailed as being the greatest creation of the Protheans. The asari were the first race to discover the Citadel, soon after learning to use the mass relays. They were joined shortly by the salarians, and soon after, the volus. As other races were contacted by the asari, or discovered the station independently, they gained embassies on the Citadel and came under the jurisdiction of the growing Council, eventually comprised of the asari, the salarians, and the turians. Strategically located at the junction of a number of mass relays leading to various parts of the galaxy, the Citadel quickly became a hub of activity. The station was chosen to house the Citadel Council, thereby cementing its importance in the galactic community. It is accepted to be the political and cultural heart of Citadel space, the unofficial name given to all systems that fall under the Citadel species' control. Even after thousands of years of occupation, the Citadel retains many secrets. The precise age of the station is not known, nor what resilient material it is constructed from. The location of the Citadel's core and its master control unit, regulating systems such as life support and navigation, remain hidden. The most visible, and perhaps intriguing, mystery of the Citadel concerns its caretakers, the keepers. These mute alien creatures maintain the Citadel's vital systems, and can be seen working throughout the station, yet, despite this, little is known about them.
The Citadel Fleet is the main space defense force of the Citadel. The flagship of the fleet is the asari dreadnought Destiny Ascension, the most powerful ship of the Council races. The Citadel Fleet consists of a mixed group of turian, salarian, and asari vessels, though the greater number of them are turian, due to the turians' peacekeeping role. The exact number of ships in the Council's fleets is unknown, but there were enough vessels to patrol every mass relay linking Citadel space to the Terminus Systems and still leave a force stationed to protect the Citadel. Ambassador Udina claimed that the Citadel Fleet was large enough to secure the entire Attican Traverse if the Council wished. In the aftermath of the battle on Virmire, the Council deployed its fleet to every relay in Citadel space, believing that Saren Arterius wouldn't dare attack the Citadel. However, the massive dreadnought Sovereign, launched a surprise attack against the Citadel. During the attack, the Destiny Ascension ordered Citadel control to close the station's Wards, creating an impenetrable fortress. However, Saren had used the Conduit to infiltrate the Citadel and shut down both the Citadel and the mass relay network, subjecting the fleet to the full force of the geth attack and preventing any reinforcements from arriving. Sovereign then broke through the fleet and closed the Citadel's Ward arms behind it. The Destiny Ascension managed to evacuate the Citadel Council but was unable to fight her way through the hordes of geth ships accompanying Sovereign. Commander Shepard eventually reactivated the mass relays, allowing the Alliance Navy and the Normandy to aid what was left of the Citadel Fleet. It was then up to Shepard to decide whether to have the reinforcements save the Council and the Destiny Ascension, or to let them die while they waited for the Ward arms to reopen. The fate of the Citadel Fleet depends on the player's Paragon or Renegade choice. If Shepard chooses to save the Council, the flagship Destiny Ascension survives. It is not known how much of the rest of the fleet survived. The Galactic News in Mass Effect 2 mentions that the Destiny Ascension itself goes on to make a 20-colony victory cruise. If Shepard lets the Council die, it is implied that most of the fleet defending the Citadel was destroyed. In Mass Effect 2, the Galactic News reports plans for an Allied Citadel Defense Unit which will presumably replace the destroyed Citadel Fleet. The Systems Alliance provides the majority of ships for the Unit, while the Asari Republics have ceded their responsibility for defense to the Turian Hierarchy.
Special Tasks Group
The Special Tasks Group (STG) is a salarian espionage organization, usually deployed by the Citadel Council. STG operators work in independent cells, performing dangerous missions such as counterterrorism, infiltration, reconnaissance, assassination, and sabotage. They are currently very active in the Terminus Systems. The STG form a large part of the salarian military due to their heavy focus on gathering intelligence before making a move. They are used to monitor "developing situations" because they tend to attract less attention than more prominent figures, such as Spectres. This also allows them to quietly "handle" troublesome individuals. STG operators are brutally practical, devoted to accomplishing their mission regardless of the cost involved to others or themselves. Regardless, STG operators are highly flexible, accustomed to carrying out their missions on shoestring resources and changing their tactics when necessary. STG operatives who showed exceptional skill were some of the first Spectre candidates. The records of STG missions are sealed and even the greatest agents are only known by codenames. These include the Ever Alert, who kept armies at bay with hidden facts; another, known as the Silent Step, was so successful he once defeated a nation with a single shot. However, the STG's role in tracking down the infamous League of One is common knowledge.
Citadel Security Services (C-Sec) handles law enforcement on the Citadel. It is a volunteer police service answering to the Citadel Council, and is headed by an Executor who often liases between C-Sec and the Council.
The current Executor is a turian, Venari Pallin, whose office is located within the Presidium Embassies, near the Citadel Tower. The C-Sec Academy itself is located in the Lower Wards, partly due to the crime levels in the area compared to the rest of the station. Befitting their "public service" culture, it was the turians who first proposed creating a police force for the Citadel, which may be why more than half of all C-Sec officers are turian. Humans appear to form the largest minority, with at least 116 officers in the Zakera ward as of 2185, followed by salarians and asari. The 200,000 constables of C-Sec are responsible for maintaining public order in the densely populated Citadel, as well as providing pirate suppression, customs enforcement, and search-and-rescue throughout the Citadel and surrounding space.
Enforcement: Uniformed officers who patrol the Citadel, discipline minor infractions, resolve disputes, and respond to emergencies.
Investigation: Detectives who gather evidence, solve crimes, and bring their perpetrators to justice.
Customs: Officers who screen the passengers and cargo that pass through the Citadel's ports, confiscate contraband, and arrest smugglers.
Network: Technicians who deal with "cybercrimes", such as identity theft, copyright theft, hacking, viral attacks, and illegal AI.
Special Response: Officers who deal with hostage situations, bombs, and heavily armed criminals. In the event the Citadel is attacked, they are the front line of interior defense, armed with military-grade weaponry.
Patrol: The ships crewed by the Patrol division serve "coast guard" functions, such as search and rescue, piracy suppression, and interdiction of illegally transported materials. They are not used to defend the Citadel from naval attack; that task is left to the Citadel Fleet.
Joining C-Sec is prestigious; applicants must be sponsored by a Citadel Councilor or the ambassador of an associate Council race. Generally applicants have many years of distinguished service in the military or police forces of their respective nation, but an inexperienced applicant with demonstrable talent will be fairly considered. Most rookies are posted to the comparatively-calm Presidium to get some operational experience and familiarity with protocol before being assigned to the Wards. While C-Sec enjoys a long and respected history with the Council itself, C-Sec and the Council's Spectres are often at odds. Many C-Sec members, notably Executor Pallin, believe that allowing Spectres to be 'above the law' is a dangerous practice. In turn, the Spectres are aggravated when C-Sec's dedication to procedure and due process hampers their investigations. Many of C-Sec's own officers—usually detectives like Garrus and Harkin—occasionally find themselves at odds with C-Sec's strict regulations, likely in place to keep order among so many different races and factions aboard the Citadel. As Harkin discovered, C-Sec is not above keeping files on its officers if the Executor feels disciplinary action may be warranted.
Spectres are agents entrusted with extraordinary authority by the Citadel Council, including the power of life and death over the inhabitants of the galaxy. They form an elite group selected from a number of different species, and their primary responsibility is to preserve galactic stability by whatever means necessary. Though they are generally considered as being above the law and have complete discretion as to the methods used to accomplish their mission, an individual's status as a Spectre can be revoked by the Council in a case of a gross misconduct. Spectres work either alone or in small groups according to nature of a particular task and to their personal preference. "Spectre" is a syllabic abbreviation of Special Tactics and Reconnaissance. The Special Tactics and Reconnaissance branch was founded at some point after the salarians joined the Citadel and shortly before the Krogan Rebellions began, when the Council became uneasy about the unchecked expansion of the krogan into Citadel space. The Spectres were chosen from the finest salarian STG operatives and asari huntresses, intended to function partly in an observational capacity, but also as the Council's first line of defense. When the krogan finally turned against the Citadel, the Spectres were ready for them, using guerrilla tactics such as computer viruses and devastating sabotage to slow the krogan down before the turians joined the conflict. For years the activities of the Spectres were a Council secret, but their role was made public after the Krogan Rebellions were over. All records of the Spectres are sealed and only granted access with permission of the Council. It is not even clear how many there are: Alliance intelligence estimates that there are fewer than a hundred. Each Spectre is hand-picked by the Council after proving that they are an individual of exceptional ability and self-reliance. In theory Spectres can be chosen from any race; in practice they are usually selected from the Council races. Having a Spectre chosen from their kind often raises a particular species' profile on the Citadel. Many alien races have been part of the Citadel for centuries without a Spectre being chosen from their ranks. Ambassador Anita Goyle and later her successor Donnel Udina were both desperate to get a human into the Spectres, as this would be the first step toward humanity gaining a seat on the Council. The first possible candidate was David Anderson, but his observer, Saren Arterius, sabotaged the evaluation, falsifying his report to make Anderson look responsible for casualties caused by Saren's own ruthless tactics during the mission. After Saren submitted his report, the Council refused Anderson entry into the Spectres.
Spectres have no command structure. They answer only to the Council, and in some cases the Council prefers not to know the exact details of how a Spectre accomplishes their mission. Spectres act in any way they see fit, either with careful diplomacy or ruthless force, being officially above any law. Some people, like Executor Pallin, see Spectres as a potential risk because they are not constrained by the law, while others are in awe of them; Officer Eddie Lang mentions Spectres on vids are portrayed as super-agents always on some mission to save the galaxy. The assignment of a Spectre is often less contentious than a military deployment, but shows that the Council is aware of a situation. Candidates for the Spectres typically have years of military or law enforcement experience before even being considered. The screening process involves background checks, psychological evaluations, and a long period of field training under an experienced mentor. Because of the rigorous selection process, Spectres might sometimes use unorthodox methods but they rarely go rogue. When it does happen, the only solution is to revoke their status, then send another Spectre after them. No one else would be up to the job.
The second species to join the Citadel, the salarians are warm-blooded amphibians native to the planet Sur'Kesh. Salarians possess a hyperactive metabolism; they think fast, talk fast, and move fast. To salarians, other species seem sluggish and dull-witted, especially the elcor. Unfortunately, their metabolic speed leaves them with a relatively short lifespan; salarians over the age of 40 are a rarity. Salarians are known for their observational capability and non-linear thinking. This manifests as an aptitude for research and espionage. They are constantly experimenting and inventing, and it is generally accepted that they always know more than they are letting on.
In principle, the salarian military is similar to the Systems Alliance, a small volunteer army that focuses on maneuver warfare. What differentiates the salarians is not their equipment or doctrine, but their intelligence services and rules of engagement. The salarians believe that a war should be won before it begins (a doctrine also espoused by some of humanity's greatest generals, such as Sun Tzu). The unquestioned superiority of their intelligence services allows them to use their small military to maximum effectiveness. Well before fighting breaks out, they possess complete knowledge of their enemy's positions, intentions and timetable. Their powerful intelligence network is spearheaded in the field by Special Tasks Groups (STG) who monitor developing situations and take necessary action, usually without the shackles of traditional laws and procedures. This may be as simple as scouting and information gathering, or as complex as ensuring a conveniently unstable political situation stays that way. The effectiveness of the STG during the Krogan Rebellion is what provided the template for the Council to establish their SPECTRE program immediately afterward. In every war the salarians have fought, they struck first and without warning. For the salarians, to know an enemy plans to attack and let it happen is folly; to announce their own plans to attack is insanity. They find the human moral concepts of 'do not fire until fired upon' and 'declare a war before prosecuting it' incredibly naive. In defensive wars, they execute devastating preemptive strikes hours before the enemy's own attacks. On the offense, they have never issued an official declaration of war before attacking. Biotics are virtually unknown in the salarian military. Those with such abilities are considered too valuable to be used as cannon fodder and are assigned to the intelligence services. While capable of defending themselves against most threats, the salarians know that they are small fish in a universe filled with sharks. As a point of survival, they have cultivated strong alliances with larger powers, particularly with the turians. Though the relationship between the two species was rocky at first due to the krogan uplift fiasco, the salarians take pains to keep this relationship strong enough that anyone who might threaten them risks turian intervention. The salarian navy has sixteen dreadnoughts, which is considerably less than the maximum they are allowed to build according to the Treaty of Farixen.
The asari, native to the planet Thessia, are often considered the most powerful and respected sentient species in the known galaxy. This is partly due to the fact the asari were the first race after the Protheans to achieve interstellar flight, and to discover and inhabit the Citadel. A mono-gender race—distinctly feminine in appearance—the asari are known for their elegance, diplomacy, and biotic talent. Their millennia-long lifespan and unique physiology—allowing them to reproduce with a partner of any gender or species—give them a conservative but convivial attitude toward other races. The asari were instrumental in proposing and founding the Citadel Council, and have been at the heart of galactic society ever since.
The asari military resembles a collection of tribal warrior bands with no national structure. Each community organizes its own unit as the locals see fit, and elect a leader to command them. Units from populous cities are large and well-equipped, while those from farm villages may be only a few women with small arms. There is no uniform; everyone wears what they like. The asari military is not an irregular militia, however; those who serve are full-time professionals. The average asari huntress is in the maiden stage of her life and has devoted 20-30 years studying the martial arts. Asari choose to be warriors at a young age, and their education from that point is dedicated to sharpening their mind and body for that sole purpose. When they retire, they possess an alarming proficiency for killing. Huntresses fight individually or in pairs, depending on the tactics preferred in their town. One-on-one, a huntress is practically unbeatable, possessing profound tactical insight, a hunter's eye, and a dancer's grace and alacrity. Biotics are common enough that some capability is a requirement to be trained as a huntress; lack of biotic talent excludes a young asari from military service. While fluid and mobile, asari can't stand up in a firestorm the way a krogan, turian, or human could. Since their units are small and typically lack heavy armor and support weapons, they are almost incapable of fighting a conventional war, particularly one of a defensive nature. So asari units typically undertake special operations missions. Like an army of ninja, they are adept at ambush, infiltration, and assassination, demoralizing and defeating their enemies through intense, focused guerrilla strikes. Asari huntresses were among the first individuals to be chosen as Spectres and played a key role in the Krogan Rebellions. As a popular turian saying puts it, "The asari are the finest warriors in the galaxy. Fortunately, there are not many of them."
Known for their militaristic and disciplined culture, the turians are the most recent of the Citadel races invited to join the Council. They gained their Council seat after defeating the hostile krogan for the Council during the Krogan Rebellions. The turians deployed a salarian-created biological weapon called the genophage, which virtually sterilised the krogan and sent them into a decline. The turians then filled the peacekeeping niche left by the once-cooperative krogan, and eventually gained a Council seat in recognition of their efforts. Originally from the planet Palaven, turians are best known for their military role, particularly their contributions of soldiers and starships to the Citadel Fleet. They are respected for their public service ethic—it was the turians who first proposed creating C-Sec—but are sometimes seen as imperialist or rigid by other races. There is some animosity between turians and humans, largely due to the turian role in the First Contact War. This bitterness is slowly beginning to heal—as shown by the cooperation of the two races on the construction of the SSV Normandy—but many turians still hate humans, and vice versa.
Although they lack the brutality of the krogan, the refined skill of the asari, and the adaptability of the humans, the turian military has formidable discipline and their fleet makes up the single largest portion of the Citadel Fleet. Their fleet is also allotted the single largest number of dreadnoughts by the Treaty of Farixen, having 37 as of 2183 and 39 as of 2185, as a point to their fleet's service as galactic peacekeepers and position as the primary military arm of the Council. Officers and NCOs are "lifers" with years of field experience. Enlisted personnel are thoroughly trained and stay calm under fire. Turian units don't break. Even if their entire line collapses, they fall back in order, setting ambushes as they go. A popular saying holds: "You will only see a turian's back once he's dead." Boot camp begins on the 15th birthday. Soldiers receive a year of training before being assigned to a field unit; officers train for even longer. Most serve until the age of 30, at which they become part of the Reserves. Even if they suffer injuries preventing front-line service, most do support work behind the lines. Most turian families are said to keep small arms in their homes and basic training includes instruction on how to create simple firebombs that can be surprisingly effective against armoured vehicles. Biotics are uncommon. While admired for their exacting skills, biotics' motives are not always fully trusted by the common soldier. The turians prefer to assign their biotics to specialist teams called Cabals. Command and control is decentralized and flexible. Individual squads can call for artillery and air support. They make extensive use of combat drones for light duties, and practice combined arms: infantry operates with armor, supported by overhead gunships. Strategically, they are methodical and patient, and dislike risky operations. The turians recruit auxiliary units from conquered or absorbed minor races. Auxiliaries are generally light infantry or armored cavalry units that screen and support the main battle formations. At the conclusion of their service in the Auxiliaries, recruits are granted turian citizenship. Tradition is important. Each legion has a full-time staff of historians who chronicle its battle honors in detail. The oldest have records dating back to the turian Iron Age. If a legion is destroyed in battle, it is reconstituted rather than being replaced.
The elcor are a Citadel species native to the high-gravity world Dekuuna. They are massive creatures, standing on four muscular legs for increased stability. Elcor move slowly, an evolved response to an environment where a fall can be lethal. This has colored their psychology, making them deliberate and conservative. Elcor evolved on a high-gravity world, making them slow, but incredibly strong. Their large, heavy bodies are incapable of moving quickly, but they possess a rather imposing stature and immense strength, as well as thick, tough skin. They move using all four limbs to support and balance their massive bodies. Given their method of communication, they likely have highly-attuned olfactory senses. Only once has an elcor been seen actually walking in full view of the camera, in a long shot in Mass Effect 2. In Mass Effect, Xeltan leaves the office off-camera, but his walk is thunderously loud. Elcor speech is heard by most species as a flat, ponderous monotone. Among themselves, scent, extremely slight body movements, and subvocalized infrasound convey shades of meaning that make a human smile seem as subtle as a fireworks display. Since their subtlety can lead to misunderstandings with other species, the elcor prefix all their dialog with non-elcor with an emotive statement to clarify their tone.
Because their slow, conservative psyche is not suitable for making the spur-of-the-moment decisions necessary in combat situations, the elcor rely on sophisticated VI combat systems. These war machines can choose between thousands of gambits developed and polished over centuries by elcor strategists. The slow speed and immense size of the elcor makes them easy targets. Fortunately, their durable hide allows them to shrug off most incoming fire. Elcor warriors don't carry small arms; their broad shoulders serve as a stable platform for the same size of weapons typically mounted on Alliance fighting vehicles.
The drell are a reptile-like race that were rescued from their dying homeworld by the hanar following first contact between the two. Since then, the drell have remained loyal to the hanar for their camaraderie and have fit comfortably into galactic civilization. Drell are omnivorous reptile-like humanoids with an average lifespan of 85 galactic standard years. Drell appearance is very similar to asari and humans, but their muscle tissue is slightly denser, giving them a wiry strength. Many of their more reptilian features are concealed, however one unique characteristic is the hyoid bone in their throats, which allows them to inflate their throats and produce vocal sounds outside of the human range. They also have two sets of eyelids, like crocodiles. Drell possess the ability to shed tears. Because the drell ancestors emerged from arid, rocky deserts, the humid, ocean-covered hanar homeworld of Kahje proved tolerable only when the drell stayed inside a climate-controlled dome city. The leading cause of death for drell on Kahje is Kepral's Syndrome, caused by cumulative long-term exposure to a humid climate. This syndrome erodes the ability of drell lungs to take in oxygen, and eventually spreads out to other organs. It is noncommunicable, and there is currently no known cure, though leading hanar scientific authorities are working on creating a genetic adaptation. The drell possess eidetic memory, an adaptation to a world where they must remember the location of every necessary resource (vegetation, drinkable water and prey migration paths) across vast distances. The memories are so strong that an external stimulus can trigger a powerful memory recall. These recalls are so vivid and detailed that some drell may mistake it for reality. Thane Krios, for example, remembers every assassination he has ever performed and can describe them in flawless detail, and says he prefers to spend a lonely night with the perfect memory of another. This process can be involuntary.
The hanar are a species resembling Earth's jellyfish and are one of the few non-bipedal Citadel races. Hanar are known for their intense politeness when speaking, and their strong religious beliefs regarding the Protheans, whom they refer to as "the Enkindlers". The hanar "stand" slightly taller than a human, although most of their height is in their long tentacles which have three fingers at the base. The invertebrate, water-native hanar cannot support their own weight in normal gravity. When interacting with mainstream galactic society, they rely on contra-gravitic levitation packs that use mass effect fields. Their limbs can grip tightly, but are not strong enough to lift more than a few hundred grams each. Hanar also possess the ability to secrete natural toxins. It is not known if hanar have more than one gender, or are asexual (as some jellyfish species are). Despite evolving in water, hanar also appear able to breathe air, or use technological means to enable this.
The hanar homeworld, Kahje, has 90% ocean cover and orbits an energetic white star, resulting in a permanent blanket of clouds. Due to the presence of Prothean ruins on Kahje, the hanar have developed a religion centered on the ancient species, calling them the "Enkindlers". Hanar myths often speak of them as an elder race that uplifted and civilized them by teaching them language. Several hundred years ago, the hanar made contact with the drell on their nearby homeworld of Rakhana. Drell society was quickly collapsing due to overpopulation and warring over scarce resources, so the hanar rescued several hundred thousand drell and brought them to Kahje, where they integrated into hanar society with the remaining drell dying out. Now the drell serve as a client race of the hanar, and although to outside observers the relationship can be construed as a form of slavery, the reality is very different. Drell have integrated with every level of hanar society, and most consider it an honor to serve a hanar family in a tradition referred to as the Compact. Many drell become unofficial members of the family, and some even earn the privilege to learn their masters' "soul names". The hanar communicate using sophisticated patterns of bioluminescence—which other species need machine assistance to translate (though many drell apply genetic modification to their eyes in order to perceive higher frequency flashes which allows them to understand the hanar)—and speak with scrupulous precision and extreme politeness. Most hanar take offense at improper language, and must take special courses to unlearn this tendency if they expect to deal with other species. The hanar have two names, a "face name" and a "soul name." The face name is used as a general label for use by strangers and acquaintances. The soul name is kept for use among close friends and relations, and tends to be poetic. For example, a hanar known for its cynicism may take a name that means "Illuminates the Folly of the Dancers." That said, hanar are extremely polite, almost to a fault. They never refer to themselves in the first person with someone they know on a face name basis: to do so is considered egotistical. Instead they refer to themselves as "this one," or the impersonal "it." It is only around those who know their soul name that they would ever consider using the first person. Even when flustered or angry, a hanar will still maintain exquisite poise, and will remain formal even with those it wishes dead. Drell servants usually carry out hanar assassinations, as the hanar are too cumbersome out of the water to participate in a physical fight—though Zaeed Massani mentions that he was once nearly strangled by one. The drell assassin Thane also maintains that the hanar have a strong grip and possess strong natural poison. The hanar practice a religious holiday called Nyahir or "First Cresting Bloom" which lasts a full thirteen days and revolves around celebrating the gift of speech, which they attribute to having come from the Enkindlers. It is a mixture of contemplation and competition, with the faithful engaged in stylized debates, poetry duels, and other traditional hanar art forms. The winners of these events have their names inscribed in bio-luminescence on the side of Mount Vassla, an underwater volcano at the heart of one of the oldest Prothean ruins on Kahje.
The volus are an associate race on the Citadel with their own embassy, but are also a client race of the turians. They hail from Irune, which possesses a high-pressure greenhouse atmosphere able to support an ammonia-based biochemistry. As a result, the volus must wear pressure suits and breathers when dealing with other species. Because they are not physically adept compared to most species, volus mostly make their influence felt through trade and commerce, and they have a long history on the Citadel. However, they have never been invited to join the Council, which is a sore point for many volus individuals. The volus homeworld Irune features an ammonia-based ecology and a gravitational field 1.5 times that of Earth, as well as a high-pressure atmosphere. This is reflected in the physiology of the volus themselves. The volus are unable to survive unprotected in an atmosphere more suitable to humans and other carbon-based lifeforms, and as such require protective suits capable of providing the proper atmosphere, as well as being pressurized to support the volus. Traditional nitrogen/oxygen air mixtures are poisonous to them, and in the low pressure atmospheres tolerable to most species, their flesh will actually split open.
The volus are not physically cut out for combat, be it a full-scale war or even a bar room scuffle. As such, they are highly dependent on the turians for defense, although the volus themselves do provide some auxiliary troops to the Hierarchy. The volus will support the turians in any war they might pursue, and the turians will do the same for the volus. Possibly for this reason, volus weaponry tends to be utilitarian rather than high-grade. Some volus manufacturers specialise in cheaper, lower-grade copies of expensive turian equipment.