Mass Effect: Ghosts
The second species to join the Citadel Council, the Salarians are warm-blooded amphibians with a hyperactive metabolism. Salarians think fast, talk fast, and move fast. To Salarians, other species seem sluggish and dull-witted. Unfortunately, their metabolic speed leaves them with a relatively short life span; Salarians over the age of 40 are a rarity.
The Salarians were responsible for advancing the development of the primitive Krogan species to use as soldiers during the Rachni Wars. They were also behind the creation of the genophage bioweapon the Turians used to quell the Krogan Rebellions several centuries later.
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’re letting on.
Salarians are noted for their high-speed metabolism, which allows them to function on just one hour of sleep a day. Their minds and bodies work faster than most sapient races, making them seem restless or hyperactive. The drawback of this active metabolism is a short lifespan of around 40 Human years.
The Salarians are amphibian haplo-diploid egg-layers; unfertilized eggs produce males and fertilized eggs produce females. Once a year, a Salarian female will lay a clutch of dozens of eggs. Social rules prevent all but a fraction from being fertilized. As a result, 90% of the species is male.
Salarians have photographic memories and rarely forget a fact. They also possess a form of psychological “imprinting”, tending to defer to those they knew in their youth. Salarian hatching is a solemn ritual in which the Dalatrass (matriarch) isolates herself with the eggs. The young Salarians psychologically imprint on her and tend to defer to her wishes.
During the hatching of daughters, the Dalatrasses of the mother and father’s clans are present at the imprinting. This ensures the offspring have equal loyalty to both, ensuring the desired dynastic and political unity.
The rare Salarian females are cloistered on their worlds out of tradition and respect. Powerful female Dalatrasses are dynasts and political kingpins. They determine the political course of their respective regions through shrewd negotiation. Though male Salarians rise to positions of great authority in business, academia, or the military, they rarely have any input on politics.
Due to their method of reproduction, Salarians have no concept of romantic love, sexual attraction, or the biological impulses and social rituals that complicate Human lives. Male-female relationships are rare (due to the scarcity of females) and more akin to human friendship.
Sexuality is strictly for the purpose of reproduction. Ancient social codes determine who gets to fertilize eggs, which produces more daughters to continue a bloodline. Fertilization generally only occurs after months of negotiation between the parents’ clans, and is done for purpose of political and dynastic alliance. No Salarian would imagine defying this code.
Salarian names are quite complex. A full name includes – in order – the name of a Salarian’s planet, duchy, barony, fiefdom, family, and finally, the given name.
The Salarian economy is the smallest of the three Council races, but still far larger than the Alliance. It is based on “bleeding-edge” technologies; Salarian industries are leaders in most fields. They make up for a lack of military quantity by holding a decisive superiority in quality.
The Salarian government is called the Salarian Union. It is a labyrinthine web of matrilineal bloodlines, with political alliances formed through interbreeding.
In many ways, the Salarian political network functions like the noble families of Earth’s Medieval Europe. Structurally the government consists of fiefdoms, baronies, duchies, planets, and marches (colonization clusters). These are human nicknames; the original Salarian is unpronounceable. Each area is ruled by a single Dalatrass (matriarchal head-of-household) and represents an increasing amount of territory and prestige within the Salarian political web.
Approaching 100 members, the first circle of a Salarian’s clan comprises parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, and cousins. The next circle includes second cousins, etc., and escalates to well over 1,000 members. The fourth or fifth circle of a clan numbers into the millions. Salarian loyalty is greatest to their first circle and diminishes from there. Their photographic memories allow Salarians to recognize all their myriad relatives.
Salarians were already thriving on Sur’Kesh 50,000 years before, albeit in a thoroughly primitive state. The Salarians of his time were classified as “lizard people”. They used to eat flies, licked their eyes, and engage in other more lizard-like behavior. Eventually, they progressed technologically to the point of colonizing planets beyond their own.
On their first three interstellar colonies, the Salarians planted settlements named Aegohr, Mannovai, and Jaëto. Those settlements “remain at the heart of Salarian territory to this day”.
The Salarians were the second species to discover the Citadel, only a few decades after the Asari. They opened diplomatic relations at once and became one of the founding species of the Citadel Council. In a gesture of trust, the Salarians opened the records of one of their intelligence services, the League of One, but this quickly created problems when the League’s members found themselves in danger as a result. The League slaughtered the entire Union inner cabinet, but were later hunted down, leaving only relics behind.
The Salarians also played a significant role in the advancement of the Krogan species. The Salarians provided the Krogan with advanced technology and a new, tranquil home planet (in order to manipulate the Krogan into eradicating the Rachni for the Council). The peaceful home planet and better technology put less strain on the Krogan as a species; they no longer had to worry about simply surviving on a dangerous planet with primitive technology, as they did before contact with the Salarians. This comparatively easy life, combined with their exceedingly high birth rate, allowed the Krogan the time, numbers, and energy to spread through Citadel space, aggressively claiming formerly allied planets as their own. In order to end these “Krogan Rebellions,” the Salarians then provided the Turians with the Genophage, a biological weapon that effectively sterilized the Krogan, resulting in almost all Krogan pregnancies ending in stillbirth.
Though their military is nothing special, Salarians are currently seen as the premier intelligence and information-gathering arm of the Council. As such, they are well respected, but some races, including a few humans, see the Salarians as manipulators.
Salarians: League of One
Before they joined the Citadel Council, the Salarians’ most potent military tool was a small reconnaissance team known as the League of One. Their primary training was in espionage and assassination. Never more than a dozen strong, the team was adept at infiltrating the tightest defenses and eliminating all necessary obstacles.
Only a few top members of government and military were privy to the League’s identities. League members wore no distinguishing garments, and held no particular rank. The only evidence of their participation in the League was a small medallion presented to each member upon induction. This secrecy was maintained until the formation of the Council.
In an effort to dispel rumors and appease their new Asari partners, the Salarian Union released all classified documents pertaining to the League. The League of One was suddenly exposed and in danger of being hunted by enemies of the Salarians. Before any harm could be done, the team mysteriously disappeared. Most assumed this was a convenient lie to help hide their identities, but a few months later, the inner cabinet was murdered. Though there was no incriminating evidence, it was clear who was responsible.
Realizing the threat posed by this rogue outfit, the Special Tasks Group dispatched a team of hunters. When they didn’t return, the STG dispatched ten of its brightest operators with broad discretionary powers. Only two returned; they reported no evidence of the League.
No further incidents were reported and it was assumed the League was wiped out. Some recently declassified documents, however, have suggested there may have been a thirteenth member who eluded the Salarian military.
Salarians: Military Doctrine
In principle, the Salarian military is similar to the 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.
Conventional wisdom holds that the Salarians know everything about everyone, and this is not far from the truth. In war, 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.
In every war the Salarians have fought, they struck first and without warning. For the Salarians, to know an enemy plans to attack and to 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 offensive, they have never telegraphed their intentions with a 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 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 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.
Salarians are not notably religious, but as free-willed sentients there are exceptions. One of the less favored Salarian religions (which the Council deems a “cult”) worships a goddess, and claims that a certain pattern of overlapping craters in the southern hemisphere of Trelyn resembles her. Many Salarians believe in a wheel of life, which is likened to Hinduism due to a shared belief in reincarnation.
Salarians: Special Tasks Group
Salarian intelligence field agents are grouped into an organization called the Special Tasks Group. STG operators work in independent cells, performing dangerous missions such as counter-terrorism, infiltration, reconnaissance, assassination, and sabotage.
The STG is a proactive organization, puncturing worrisome trends before they become movements. At any time, a dozen groups are operating covertly within the lawless Terminus Systems, sowing dissent among the various factions. Civilian analysts also note how troublesome “hinge point” individuals in Terminus frequently meet unexpected deaths.
STG operators are feared throughout the galaxy for their clear-eyed, remorseless practicality. They are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their mission, even if it kills civilians or results in the team’s own destruction. In many ways, they are akin to the Council Spectres.