Mass Effect: Ghosts
The Citadel is an ancient deep-space station, presumably constructed by the Protheans. Since the Prothean extinction, numerous species have come to call the Citadel home. It serves as the political, cultural, and financial capital of the galactic community. To represent their interests, most species maintain embassies on the Presidium, the Citadel’s inner ring.
The Citadel Tower, in the center of the Presidium, holds the Citadel Council chambers. Council affairs often have far-reaching effects on the rest of the galactic community. Five arms, known as the wards, extend from the Presidium. Their inner surfaces have been built into cities, populated by millions of inhabitants from across the galaxy.
The Citadel is virtually indestructible. If attacked, the station can close its arms to form a solid, impregnable shell. For as long as the station has existed, an enigmatic race called the Keepers has maintained it.
Citadel: Citadel Security Services (C-Sec)
C-Sec is a volunteer police service answering to the Citadel Council. The 200,000 constables of C-Sec are responsible for maintaining public order in the densely populated Citadel. They also provide pirate suppression, customs enforcement, and search-and-rescue throughout the Citadel cluster.
C-Sec has six divisions:
- ENFORCEMENT – Uniformed officers who patrol the Citadel and respond to emergencies.
- INVESTIGATION – Detectives who puzzle out the truth behind crimes and bring perpetrators to justice.
- CUSTOMS – Screen the thousands of passengers and cargo containers that pass through the Citadel’s ports every day.
- NETWORK – Deals with “cybercrimes” like identity and copyright theft, hacking and viral attacks, and illegal artificial intelligence.
- SPECIAL RESPONSE – Deals with hostage situations, bombs, and heavily armed criminals. In the unlikely event that attackers board the Citadel, they are also the front line of defense, armed with military grade equipment.
- PATROL – Naval arm, with ships stationed throughout the Citadel cluster. Unlike the other divisions, they are rarely seen at the Citadel, nor do they stay in one place long.
Joining C-Sec is prestigious; applications 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 nations, but an inexperienced applicant with demonstrable talent will be fairly considered.
C-Sec and Spectres are often at odds. Many C-Sec members believe that allowing Spectres to be “above the law” is a dangerous practice. The Spectres, in turn, are aggravated when C-Sec’s dedication to procedure and due process hampers their investigations.
The “undersides” of the Wards between the inhabited superstructures and impenetrable outer hull are called the Foundations. These dangerous areas are filled with life support systems and power plants. Officially, only the Keepers are allowed in the Foundations. In reality, the Foundations are the slums of the Citadel, home to criminals, minorities, transients, and the occasional “stateless” exiles. Some stay in the Foundations of their own will. Others end up there when the opportunities they sought in the Citadel do not come.
The station’s recycling systems are located in the Foundations. These manufacture a variety of artificial organic pastes that can be eaten for sustenance. They are free and nutritious but nearly tasteless and of unpleasant texture. Poorer Citadel residents quickly become adept at dressing up this bland fare with sauces and spices while imported foodstuffs are a popular luxury of the wealthy.
Citadel: Presidium Ring
The Ring is an enclosed loop of park-like space serving as the connection point for the Wards. The interior walls are lined with the embassies of influential species and private residences for the galaxy’s elite.
The Presidium is full of “open-air” restaurants, bars, and luxurious meeting areas. Gravity is about 1/3 Earth-normal. A holographic “sky” is projected over the “ceiling” of the ring. Unlike the 24/7 bustle of the Wards, the Presidium maintains a 20-hour day schedule, with a six-hour “night” where lights are dimmed and the sky goes through a night cycle.
Offices and residences are often open to the interior. It is not unusual for embassies to have no exterior wall at all. This does not cause a crime problem due to the heavy C-Sec presence and ubiquitous monitoring devices on the Presidium. Thieves are quickly identified and apprehended.
The Ring is the location of the Citadel’s spaceports. Being closer to the center of the spin, there is less motion for a ship to match, and the reduced spin gravity makes handling cargo easier. Hundreds of ships pass through the Citadel every day, and every species with an embassy is granted a private dock.
The Tower, at the center of the Ring, holds the administration of the Citadel Council. The Tower rises over a kilometer from the ring, appearing to thrust forward parallel to the ward arms. As the Tower is at the center of the spin axis, it experiences little centrifugal force. Gravity is maintained using mass effect fields at a 90-degree angle to the Ring and Wards.
A Consular dock can be found at the base of the Tower. While normally used for diplomatic couriers and Spectre business, the shuttles docked here can evacuate the Council government in an emergency.
Citadel: Serpent Nebula
The Citadel is surrounded by a blue-tinted reflection nebula. The light of the nebula is actually light from the Citadel, scattered and reflected back at the station.
At first, the Serpent Nebula was assumed to be made of microscopic construction debris. Prevailing theory holds the Protheans used molecular nanotechnology to manufacture the incredibly durable materials used to make the Citadel. But unlike other nebulae, the Serpent does not dissipate over time. Therefore, it must be replenished constantly. The current popular theory is that the non-recyclable waste collected by the Citadel’s Keepers is somehow rendered down to the atomic or molecular level, and ejected into the clouds.
The thick nebula presents a navigation hazard. Beyond the relatively clear areas around the Citadel, electrical discharges are common. These are not blocked by kinetic barriers, and can severely damage metal-framed starships. In addition, some dense knots of dust can overwhelm the repulsion of kinetic barriers on smaller ships. If such a vessel is moving fast enough at the time, the effects are similar to being hit by a sandblaster.
Attempting to reach the Citadel through open space navigation is unadvisable; the only safe approach is through the various mass relays that orbit it.
Although the Citadel is equipped with mass-effect-generating element zero cores, most of the gravity on the station is generated by the centrifugal force of rotation.
- Rotation: 3.5 minutes per revolution
- Rotational Gravity in Wards: 1.02 Earth
- Rotational Gravity in Presidium: 0.3 Earth
- Total Length (Open): 44.7 km
- Diameter (Open): 12.8km
- Ward Length: 43.6km
- Ward Width: 330m
- Presidium Ring Diameter: 7.2 km
- Presidium Ring Width: 553 m
- Exterior Armor Thickness: 13 m
- Population: 13.2 million (not including Keepers)
- Gross Mass: 7.11 billion metric tons
- Height of the Presidium Tower: 1047 m
The majority of the Citadel’s population lives in the Wards, the five massive arms of the station that house the residential and commercial districts. Many galactic races have established cultural enclaves here. Population density and cost of living are extremely high, akin to Earth cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
The Wards are open-topped, with skyscrapers rising from the superstructure. Towers are sealed against vacuum, as the breathable atmosphere envelope is only maintained to a height of about seven meters. The atmosphere is contained by the centrifugal force of rotation and a “membrane” of dense, colorless sulphur hexafluoride gas, held in place by carefully managed mass effect fields.
The view from the Wards is spectacular. In the background, stars, Serpent Nebula, and the nearby blue giant called “the Widow” move across the sky as the station rotates to stabilize itself. In the foreground, the lights of buildings and vehicles on the opposing Ward arms perpetually shine. The Citadel has no real day or night. While the station keeps to standard galactic time for political functions, business rarely close, and residents acclimate to sleep and work according to personal need rather than a day-night cycle.
Additions and modifications are constantly being constructed, though they must stay within certain specifications that will not compromise the operation of the station. Occasionally, the Keepers will descend on an area of the Wards and move or change the architecture without explanation. Residents have learned to live with these inexplicable intrusions.