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Mass Effect Primer

Never played another game in the Mass Effect series? Looking for a refresher before taking up the helm of the Normandy again? Our Primer will help you get up to speed.

By the year 2148 mankind had been engaging in a slow but steady exploration of space. Mars had permanent settlements on it for forty five years and colony seed ships were being launched into deep space with the hope of finding distant habitable planets. While technology had obviously progressed, it is likely mankind would have stayed an unknown element in galactic lore if not for the discovery of a subterranean prothean ruin buried in the Deseado Crater of Mars.

This discovery catapulted human science forward by no less than two hundred years with the data caches found inside the ruin and ushered in the creation of the Systems Alliance, an organization formed by the eighteen largest nations on Earth to spearhead military and exploratory efforts in space. The two most important pieces of information recovered from the ruins dealt with element zero, a material that when subjected to an electrical charge could increase or decrease its mass. This allowed the creation of mass effect fields which enabled, among other things, faster than light (FTL) travel.

The second discovery enabled humanity to find that Charon, Pluto’s lone moon, was actually an iced over piece of technology known as a mass relay; a massive installation that when activated was capable of catapulting a vessel from one system to another almost instantly. In the year 2149, the first human explorer team is sent through the relay, arriving  in the Arcturus system, 36 light years away. This system would later become the capital of the Systems Alliance and a Nexus for human exploration and military development.

In 2157 the Systems Alliance continued its rapid pace of exploration and colonization, enabling any dormant mass relays they came across. Unfortunately activating mass relays was not looked kindly upon and led to humanity’s first contact with an alien race, the Turians.

The Turians approached the exploratory fleet around one such mass relay, #314, destroying the vessels without warning before moving on to occupy the nearest colony, Shanxi. This event was known as the First Contact War.

The Turians thought they were merely suppressing a backwards race with no knowledge of the technology they were playing with, and so they were unprepared for a second fleet of Alliance ships that had been sent in response. As a result the Turians had to mobilize a larger portion of their own military strength, which brought the war to the attention of the Citadel Council, the governing body in what is considered Citadel space. The council stepped in and took steps to declare an armistice and resolve the confusion on both sides.

With the intervention of the Council, the First Contact War was now over and Humanity had to accept that not only were they not alone in the universe, but that were not the dominant power. Over the years the Systems Alliance would struggle to find its place in the galactic community. The Citadel Council would eventually acknowledge that humans were a rising force in the galaxy, but were still relatively young and untested.

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