Mass Effect: Ghosts
In the early 2160s, the Systems Alliance began aggressive colonization of worlds in the Skyllian Verge, much to the dismay of the Batarians who had been developing the region for several decades. In 2171, the Batarians petitioned the Citadel Council to declare the Verge a “zone of Batarian interest”. The Council refused, however, declaring unsettled worlds in the region open to Human colonization.
In protest, the Batarians closed their Citadel embassy and severed official diplomatic relations with the Council, effectively becoming a rogue state. They instigated a proxy war in the Verge by funneling money and weapons to criminal organizations, urging them to strike at Human colonies.
Batarians are an anthropoidal race like humans and Asari. Their faces are covered with short, fine hairs that grow longer and thicker around the mouth. A flat stripe of ridged cartilage runs along the tops of their skulls and down the backs of their necks. They have ears pointy at the upper end, though on occasion along the edges as well. The part of their faces commonly associated with the nose among humans and Asari is instead an inverted flat triangle symmetrically ridged vertically.
Their most distinctive physical feature is their four eyes, an uncommon trait among other races. One pair is set wide in prominent bony sockets protruding from the corners of their face. The second set of eyes is smaller and closer together, set higher on the face, just beneath the middle of the forehead. The eyes are uniformly dark orbs, with no discernible irises or pupils.
Batarians exhibit a wide range of skin tones and colors. Most Batarians have a dark brown hue with pale facial ridges. General Batarian complexions include reddish-brown, greenish, yellow-greenish to yellow-brownish, light brown, and teal.
Some Batarians possess striped colorations on their heads. Observed patterns include multiple chin stripes, a single strip running from the lower lip, or a thin dagger of color above the nose. These patterns are usually colored blue, black, or red, while the nose pattern is invariably red. At least one has what appears to be a black and yellow striped pigmentation at the temples with light green facial ridges.
Batarian blood has been observed to be red.
When the Batarians achieved spaceflight, they discovered concealed Prothean ruins on Bira, a moon of Verush, that allowed them to develop FTL travel. It is a Batarian point of pride that, since the ruins were damaged by earthquakes, they had less information to go on than other spacefaring races. The Citadel Council granted the Batarians an embassy on the Citadel sometime after the Volus did, approximately a century after the Batarians and Council had made first contact.
Despite being welcomed into the galactic community, Batarian aggression provoked several crises in galactic relations over the years. Sometime around 1785 CE, a Batarian fleet bombarded the Salarian colony world of Mannovai; in 1913, the Batarian Hegemony annexed the independent Asari colony of Esan; and in 2115, Citadel forces skirmished with Batarian forces on the planet Enael.
In the early 2160s, humans began to colonize the Skyllian Verge, a region the Batarians were already actively settling. The Batarians asked the Citadel Council to intervene and declare the Verge an area of “Batarian interest”. When the Council refused, the Batarians closed their Citadel embassy and severed diplomatic and economic relations, becoming an inward-looking rogue state.
Money and weapons funneled from the Batarian government to criminal organizations led to many brutal raids on human colonies in the Verge, such as Mindoir, culminating in the Skyllian Blitz of 2176, an attack on the human capital of Elysium by Batarian-funded pirates and slavers. In 2178, the Alliance retaliated with a crushing assault on the moon of Torfan, long used as a staging base by Batarian-backed criminals. In the aftermath, the Batarians retreated into their own systems, and are now rarely seen in Citadel space.
Batarians place an extremely high value on social caste and appearance, and overstepping one’s place is frowned upon. Casting aspersions on the monetary worth of a social better is considered a serious insult. Batarians strongly believe that species with fewer than four eyes are less intelligent; they often gain the upper hand in interspecies arguments because other races find it difficult to know which eyes to focus on when speaking to them.
Slavery is an integral part of the Batarian caste system, despite being illegal according to Council law. The custom is so deeply ingrained in Batarian culture that Batarians consider the Council’s anti-slavery standing to be discriminatory. Rogue Batarian slave rings are feared throughout the galaxy, especially among colonists on remote worlds, which are often raided by Batarian slavers. Victims of such raids are usually implanted with control devices in their skulls, a painful operation since the slavers rarely make use of anesthetic. The Batarians are also known to enslave addicts of the biotic drug red sand when they can no longer afford to support their habit.
Body language is an important part of Batarian society. For example, tilting one’s head to the left is a sign of admiration and respect. When a Batarian tilts their head to the right, however, it is a sign that they consider themselves to be superior to the person whom the gesture was directed towards. Therefore, this gesture can easily be interpreted as an insult by Batarians due to the high value that they place on social caste.
The rest of the galaxy views the Batarians as an ignorable problem. Their government, known as the Batarian Hegemony, is still hostile to the Systems Alliance, but beneath the notice of the powerful Council races. It is not known what the average Batarian thinks about their enforced isolation, as the Department of Information Control ensures that only government-approved news enters or leaves Batarian space. Given the Batarian government’s oppressive nature, it is speculated their supreme leadership is autocratic or totalitarian in nature, although the Batarian homeworld of Khar’shan remains divided into various competing nation-states.
The Batarians blame humanity for their troubles and claim they were forced to fend for themselves, despite the fact that their exile is largely self-imposed. This has resulted in humans receiving the brunt of Batarians’ antagonism in the form of scams, slave raids, and terrorist attacks, incidents which the Hegemony covertly supports but is always quick to publicly distance itself from.
Despite their isolation, the Batarians still provide up-to-date glossaries and linguistic rules to the rest of the galaxy, though it is suspected that this is only so they can continue exporting propaganda. Batarian languages have become “lingua franca” in the Terminus Systems due to the prevalence of Batarians in the region.
Little is known about the Batarian military. Citadel sanctions have left the Batarian Hegemony a paper tiger of an empire, one that fights rivals through deniable terrorist actions rather than the wars of its heyday centuries ago. By 2160, when colonisation of the Skyllian Verge began, Batarian military capacity had apparently weakened to the point that they were unable to prevent human expansion; some claim that the Council and Batarians themselves knew the humans were stronger but nothing was done to protect them, and the Batarians were left to defend themselves.
The Batarian Hegemony does not trust private industry to create their military hardware. Most Batarian military hardware is produced by a corporation called Batarian State Arms, a vast nationalized institution infamous for its waste and corruption. It produces various offensive and defensive products that are sold primarily in the Terminus Systems.
The Batarian fleet is known to operate at least one dreadnaught; as a non-Citadel race, they are not bound by the Treaty of Farixen and may have more. They also field smaller vessels, including the Hensa class of cruiser. Given one member of this class was twenty years old in 2183, however, the Batarians may have retired the Hensa class from active service by this time.
The Batarian military has a special forces division known as the Special Intervention Unit. All that is known about the SIU is that their training program is brutal. After the Blue Suns hired a group of former SIU operatives to run a hostile environment training camp on the planet Xetic, an investigation by Illium authorities into the camp found that the mortality rate was as high as 18%; however, an independent Blue Suns inquiry found that the Batarian operatives’ harsh training techniques were consistent with those employed in the SIU training program. Other known branches of the Batarian military include the Batarian External Forces.
Little is known about Batarian religious beliefs. It has been noted that Batarians do believe in an afterlife. When a Batarian dies, his soul leaves the body through the eyes. Treatment of the corpse is considered unimportant, unless the Batarian’s eyes have been removed by an enemy.
In 2186, a Batarian preacher began asking for assistance to recover the Pillars of Strength scroll so that he can guide his followers through hard times. It suggests that the Batarians’ religious beliefs are based on words from sacred texts, similar to some human religions such as Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam.