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The Systems Alliance is the representative body of Earth and all human colonies in Citadel space. Backed by Earth's most powerful nations, the Alliance has become humanity's military, exploratory and economic spearhead. While the Alliance is relatively new to the galactic community, it has already made a name for itself, gaining humans an embassy on the Presidium. The Alliance is governed by a parliament based at Arcturus Station; the station also serves as the Alliance's capital.

History  

In 2148, a mining team on Mars made perhaps humanity's greatest discovery. After investigating the "Bermuda Triangle-like" reputation of the southern pole, the team unearthed the subterranean ruins of an ancient alien research station, revealing incontrovertible proof of the existence of alien life. Humanity was no longer alone in the universe.  The impact was profound in all areas of human culture, but nowhere more so than religion. New beliefs sprang up overnight such as the Interventionary Evolutionists, who zealously proclaimed the discovery as proof that all human history had been directed and controlled by alien forces. Even established religions struggled to explain extraterrestrial life. Some tried to incorporate this new-found knowledge into their dogma, some remained silent, while a few tried to stubbornly deny the evidence found on Mars.  The news of the discovery dominated the media and raised questions not only about the existence and purpose of man, but questions about the aliens themselves. Foremost, were they still out there? While these questions had served to fracture most religions they had a unifying effect in politics. Rather than nations fighting each other over their differences, it was now "us vs. them" and the foundations of a united human front were laid.  Within a year of the discovery, Earth's eighteen largest nations had drafted and ratified the Systems Alliance charter, establishing a representative political body to expand and defend human territory. Shortly thereafter, the various nations of Earth pooled their military resources to create the Systems Alliance Military. The same year, 2149, the Alliance discovered the Sol system's mass relay orbiting Pluto, previously thought to be a moon, Charon. The Charon Relay propelled them into space and the reach of humanity grew quickly.

The Alliance began a rapid campaign of expansion, establishing numerous colonies and constructing a large fleet, even though it had yet to encounter another species. Maintaining this expansion policy, the Alliance activated all the mass relays it could find to seek out new resources and possible colonies. But despite this success, the Systems Alliance was not considered a serious political body, as it was considered to lack the authority of individual nations.  Eight years later, humanity made first contact with another alien species and everything changed. A scout fleet consisting of three frigates and two cargo vessels, trying to activate a mass relay, encountered a turian patrol fleet. Activating a dormant mass relay without knowing where it led had been declared illegal by the Council, though the humans did not know this. Only one of the human ships made it back to Shanxi colony, which was subsequently discovered by the turians and invaded. While individual governments remained unsure on what action should be taken, the Alliance took control and attacked the turians.  The resulting First Contact War was relatively short and bloodless, lasting only months and costing 623 human lives (with a slightly higher number of turian casualties). The Citadel Council intervened and negotiated a peace. With the discovery of the Citadel and the greater community, humanity leaped onto the galactic stage. The Alliance received a surge of popularity, which gave it the necessary political credibility to speak for humanity as a whole.

Since then, the Alliance has continued its expansion, with the resource wealth of a dozen settled colonies and hundreds of industrial outposts flowing back to Earth. This expansion brought the Alliance into conflict with the batarians as both species rushed to settle the Skyllian Verge, while maintaining a careful truce with the turians. The Alliance has also been granted an embassy on the Citadel. It has been speculated, given humanity's remarkably fast rise in terms of military, political, and economic power, that the Systems Alliance may soon be invited to join the Citadel Council. This has been a source of some concern to several other species. Humans have expanded rapidly from Earth in a very short period of time, becoming swiftly integrated into Citadel society and the galactic economy. They have become less ethnically diverse in the twenty-second century, due to a more multicultural society and greater unity between nations. Improved medical advances and gene therapy have led to longer, healthier lifespans; the average citizen can now expect to live to around 130. Most humans retain their native tongue, but learn alien languages or trade pidgin for the sake of convenience or as a gesture of unity. One of the lasting consequences of the First Contact War was the interruption of a period of relative peace in the galaxy. Fairly or unfairly, humans are often thought of as aggressors, and are sometimes portrayed as a disruptive influence by non-human media. At the same time, other races recognise humans as an adaptable, intelligent and militarily capable race.

In the 2160s, the Alliance's ambassador on the Citadel, Anita Goyle, tried to induct a human into the Spectres as a first step toward a seat on the Council. Lieutenant David Anderson was selected as a candidate for the position due to his exemplary military service. But Anderson's observer, Saren Arterius, sabotaged his mission and falsified a report to the Council on what happened.  The Alliance cooperated with the turians to create a new stealth frigate, the SSV Normandy. The Normandy was commissioned in 2183 with Anderson as her captain. A Spectre, Nihlus Kryik, was assigned to the Normandy's shakedown run, supposedly to observe, though his true purpose was to recover a Prothean Beacon from Eden Prime. In the Paragon ending of Mass Effect, the Systems Alliance Fifth Fleet is told to assist the Destiny Ascension and later focus on Sovereign, the Reaper. Once Sovereign is destroyed, humanity is judged to have shown itself worthy and receives a Council seat. However, in one of the Renegade endings, the destruction of most of the Citadel Fleet during the attack on the Citadel puts the Systems Alliance in a position of unexpected military superiority, giving them leverage over the other Citadel species. Either way, the galaxy would look to humanity to lead them against the Reaper threat. Partly as a result of humanity's prominent new role in the politics of Citadel space, the Alliance has headed a coalition force to systematically hunt down pockets of geth resistance. Political experts from all species have been debating what humanity's ascendancy means for Citadel space. The two candidates for human Council chairman—Donnel Udina and David Anderson—are still being selected.

Sometime after the attack on the Citadel, the Normandy is destroyed by a Collector cruiser and Shepard was declared dead. Because of this, the Alliance came hammering down on the Commander's talk about the Reapers and tried covering it up. By 2185, the Alliance is still having time adjusting to its higher standing in interstellar policy. However, the Alliance was unaware of the Collectors abducting entire human colonies in remote locations. When they started catching on, the Alliance first suspected that Cerberus was behind the abductions. The Alliance began taking actions to prevent another attack, starting by installing anti-air turrets on Horizon, officially to "improve" relations with independent colonies. Depending on the players choice in Mass Effect, an Alliance soldier, either Kaidan Alenko or Ashley Williams, is sent to Horizon. Officially, the soldier's presence there was to assist in the calibration of the new weapons systems. However, the soldiers true purpose was to investigate the disappearances, and determine whether or not Cerberus was truly behind the attacks.  If the Council is saved in the first game, a news report will reveal that the turians and Systems Alliance are moving closer to becoming peacekeeping partners patrolling hostile territory cooperatively. The codex will also reveal that the Hierarchy has been moving to have closer ties with humanity as well as humanity earning deep trust and respect for saving the Council. Conversely, if the Council is sacrificed and solely replaced by humans, the Hierarchy reveals it won't be respecting the Treaty of Farixen dreadnought limits and that the Asari Republics have ceded their defense portions to the turians. The human Council doesn't comment upon this. Aliens are also deeply resentful of humanity taking over the Council and want to return to the status quo according to Avina.

If Arrival is completed, the Alliance detain Shepard for the destruction of the Bahak system and its approximately 300,000 colonists, though the Defense Committee refrains from court-martialing the Commander, considering Shepard's knowledge of the Reapers. By 2186 CE, the Alliance became aware that the Reapers were making an incursion into their space. While Admiral Hackett began mobilizing the fleets, the Defense Committee consulted Shepard for advice on how to deal with the threat. Unfortunately, the Reapers plowed through the Alliance's defenses and conquered Earth within a matter of hours, as well as destroying Arcturus Station, taking with it Alliance leadership. The Alliance was forced to abandon Earth before returning with a combined allied fleet to retake it.

Government

The Alliance is responsible for the government and defense of all extra-solar human colonies, and represents humanity on the galactic stage. It is a supranational government, and is based on a parliamentary system, with the Alliance Parliament based at Arcturus Station. It is unknown if the representation is based on the population of member nations on Earth and the colonies, or if all nations and colonies involved receive the same amount of parliamentary members.  The Alliance government is headed by a Prime Minister; as of 2185 this position was occupied by Amul Shastri. It is unknown whether the Prime Minister is an elected member of Parliament, or is appointed to the position. While the Alliance is a supranational government, the member nations retain their individual sovereignty back on Earth.  Among the Citadel races, the Alliance is considered a sovereign nation and no other species has right of oversight into Alliance affairs.

Military Doctrine

The Alliance military is respected by the Citadel races for its novel tactics and technology (and not least for the fact the First Contact War had more turian than human casualties). Their strength lies in fire support, flexibility, and speed. The Council regards the Alliance as a "sleeping giant" as only 3% of humans volunteer for military service. They make up for low numbers with sophisticated technical support (VIs, drones, artillery, electronic warfare) and emphasis on mobility and individual initiative. Their military doctrine is not based on absorbing and dishing out heavy shocks like the turians and krogan. Rather, they bypass enemy strong points and launch deep into their rear, cutting supply lines and logistics, destroying headquarters and support units, leaving enemies to 'wither on the vine'.

On defense, the Alliance military lives by Sun Tzu's maxim, "He who tries to defend everything defends nothing." Only token garrisons are placed on their colonies. These are intended for scouting rather than combat, avoiding engagement to observe and report on invaders using drones. However the Alliance stations powerful fleets at mass relay nexuses so that in the event of an attack they respond with overwhelming force.  The Hahne-Kedar company and Aldrin Labs are key suppliers of the military. All soldiers receive gene therapy for improved strength and stamina. The Alliance also recruits biotics, who are trained using techniques developed at BAaT (originally run by Conatix Industries). The new L3 biotic implants are considered a significant step forward in biotic amplification.  The Alliance maintains an impressive navy consisting of over 200 vessels ranging from small hundred meter frigates to imposing kilometer long dreadnoughts and carriers. It is one of the greater forces in Citadel space and a serious rival to that of the turians, however, the Alliance is only entitled to a small number of dreadnoughts compared to the turians, a 5 to 1 ratio as of 2183, due to the Treaty of Farixen limiting their construction among the citadel races. The Alliance navy has made up for this with the innovative design and deployment of carriers, which are as large as dreadnoughts but are not restrained by the Treaty of Farixen. The fleet is headquartered at Arcturus Station, a strategically invaluable installation whose system contains several primary mass relays leading to human territory in addition to the secondary mass relay to Earth, and as such it is heavily defended by sizable naval forces.

The Alliance Engineering Corps cuts roads through mountains and builds bases on asteroids. While the bulk of the AEC has active wartime duties, their brightest are helping build a device of Prothean origin recovered on Mars. Due to the staggering amount of raw materials required, the AEC has been given unprecedented emergency funding for any Alliance resources that will not interfere with the deployment of troops.

Human Biotics

After a series of starship accidents in the 2150s, which dispersed element zero over various settlements, the first human biotics were born, though not all were initially detected. By the time the children were teenagers, the Alliance had realised the enormous military potential of biotics through contact with the Citadel, and set up a company called Conatix Industries to develop implants for humans and track down element zero exposures. There are rumours that, after the link between element zero and biotics was made, some human colonies may have been deliberately exposed under cover of 'industrial accidents'.  In 2160 Conatix established the BAaT programme on Jump Zero, quietly hiring turian mercenaries as teachers, but after one of these instructors, Commander Vyrnnus, died, BAaT was shut down. The Alliance military eventually set up other training programmes to handle biotics, but the records pertaining to BAaT remain classified. Later projects would prove more successful. Human biotics currently have some oversight from the Alliance Parliamentary Subcommittee for Transhuman Studies.  Most modern human biotics use the Alliance's L3 implant, which is safe to use but not particularly powerful. However, some older biotics are stuck with L2 implants, which allow abilities to spike higher - using an L2 implant, Kaidan Alenko's abilities are apparently comparable to an asari's - but at a cost. L2 implants are notorious for causing medical complications such as insanity, mental impairment, or extreme physical pain. It is possible to 'upgrade' from an L2 to an L3 implant, but the procedure is unethical because it carries a high risk of brain damage. Many L2s are angry at the way the Alliance has - in their view - abandoned them and want reparations for their suffering. In some cases, extreme physical or psychological stress can cause even stable biotic implants to flare up and cause similar health problems.  Human biotics can face prejudice from those who are religiously or philosophically opposed to their physiological modifications. This is mostly due to ignorance: some people (wrongly) believe that biotics can read and control people's minds. There have also been cases of biotics who misuse their abilities - cheating at roulette, for example, or playing practical jokes like pulling people's chairs out from under them - being attacked by frightened mobs, and sometimes even killed.  Despite these concerns, the Alliance military welcomes biotics with open arms and offers huge recruitment incentives. Because of the massive physical efforts involved in biologically generating dark energy, biotic soldiers have a larger daily calorie ration and are given energy drinks to keep their blood sugar and electrolytes up. The electrical fields in their bodies mean they are also prone to small static discharges when they touch metal.

Alliance Navy

The Alliance Navy is the branch of the Systems Alliance military responsible for naval operations. The Alliance Marines, the ground operations branch of the Alliance military, are a specialized branch of the Navy. The Alliance Navy is one of the greater naval forces in Citadel space, rivaling that of the turians. Its military prowess has drawn the attention of the Citadel Council. While the Council is concerned about the possible outcome of another war between humans and turians, they are also keen to harness the Alliance Navy's peacekeeping potential, especially in unstable regions like the Skyllian Verge and the Attican Traverse. The Navy also makes humans an attractive prospect as the newest Council species. The Navy is a space combat force primarily charged with protecting human colonies, space stations, and mass relays. While the Navy stations only token garrisons to guard Alliance colonies, its strength is centered upon powerful fleets stationed at mass relay nexuses that can rapidly respond to any colony under attack. The Alliance Navy possessed over two hundred vessels as of the First Contact War, including several dreadnoughts. It possessed eight dreadnoughts as of 2185. Its individual vessels range considerably in size and firepower, varying from hundred-meter-long frigates to nearly kilometer-long dreadnoughts. Fleet units are also supported by fighters and dedicated interceptors deployed from cruisers, dreadnoughts, and carriers. Fighter carriers, dreadnought-sized ships that contain extensive hangars and employ fighters as their main armament, are a distinctly human innovation.

In peace time, the Alliance's Naval Exploration Flotilla is used as a survey force to chart out new systems. The NEF came under fire in 2185, when several dozen service people were charged with withholding information on rich mining deposits in order to sell the locations to the exploration firm, Baria Frontiers. The Alliance attempted to hide the controversy to little avail, as more and more officers were indicted. Eager to bury its shady history, the NEF has dedicated its entire flotilla and material resources to constructing the Crucible.

Alliance Vessels

Alliance ship types have specific naming conventions. Dreadnoughts are named for great mountains on Earth, while cruisers are named for cities on Earth. Frigates are named for historic battles in Earth's history, and carriers are named after great leaders, artists, and intellectuals from human history. Note that the "SSV" designation is an abbreviation of "Systems Alliance Space Vehicle".

Dreadnoughts: The Alliance has two dreadnought classes currently in service, the older Everest class and the newer Kilimanjaro class. The Everest class is an 888-meter dreadnought with a main gun capable of accelerating a 20 kilogram slug to 1.3% the speed of light (4025 km/s) for a kinetic energy yield equivalent to 38 kilotons of TNT. The Kilimanjaro class is armed with 156 broadside mass accelerator cannons, 78 on each side. The broadside guns are each as long as 40% of the ship's width.

Cruisers: Possessing more firepower and protection then a frigate and a greater cruising speed and maneuverability then a dreadnought, cruisers are the standard combat unit encountered away from large naval bases and form the backbone of the fleet. Cruisers lead frigate “wolf pack” flotillas in small engagements and fulfill a supporting role to the dreadnoughts in full scale fleet combat.

Frigates are light escort and scouting vessels equipped to screen and support the fleet. They are outfitted with GARDIAN defense turrets to provide anti-fighter screening for capital ships and Javelin torpedoes to take down opposing kinetic barriers. In fleet combat, frigates are organized into "wolf pack" flotillas of four to six ships. They use their superior speed and maneuverability to evade and maneuver into the opposing fleet to take down ships whose kinetic barriers have been destroyed.

Carriers are a uniquely human design first deployed by the Alliance Navy. As large as a dreadnought, carriers are instead equipped with extensive hanger bays, using fighters and interceptors as their primary offensive armament. In fleet combat, carriers launch their disruptor torpedo bearing fighters and then try to stay clear of the action, as their hangers are essentially a corridor through the armor into the heart of the ship and a well placed shot could gut the ship.

Ground Vehicles

The M-44 Hammerhead is an infantry fighting vehicle that hovers over the battlefield at up to 120 kilometers an hour. It most likely follows a theme of naming armored vehicles after sharks, just like the M35 Mako. The Hammerhead was released as part of the Firewalker DLC pack, which also included five new missions featuring the vehicle, and which was made available exclusively through the Cerberus Network on March 23, 2010, free to download for all Cerberus Network members. The Hammerhead is also included in Overlord for use in that pack's missions. The Hammerhead can seat at least three crew members at a time. It incorporates an onboard VI system that monitors the environment for dangers and alerts the crew. An integrated mineral collection system allows the Hammerhead to retrieve any resources it finds during a mission. Like the Mako, it is capable of being air-dropped from a frigate and of propelling itself vertically to scale obstacles by means of hoverjets. But continuous exertion of the Hammerhead's hoverjets will overheat them, rendering them useful only for short hops. The Hammerhead also incorporates a boost feature that allows the vehicle to move quickly across the battlefield. If the boost and hoverjets are used simultaneously, the hoverjets will overheat quicker and not cool until the boost is released. The Hammerhead is armed with a single gun which can only swivel vertically, but it compensates for this by boasting a fairly high rate of fire and a guided missile system that ensures accuracy even during aggressive maneuvering. Despite its formidable weaponry and design, the vehicle lacks onboard kinetic barriers, making it vulnerable to sustained enemy fire. This problem is somewhat mitigated by the Hammerhead's sophisticated repair system which automatically restores the vehicle's integrity (health) if no damage is taken for a brief period of time. Nevertheless, the Hammerhead's vulnerability forces its driver to maneuver constantly out of the line of fire in order to prevent major damage.

The M-080 is a large infantry fighting vehicle, or IFV. This class of vehicle is equipped with a turret. Like the M29 Grizzly and the M35 Mako, the M-080 is equipped with six wheels. Two of these type are seen at an Eclipse base at Daratar, and two of these type are seen at a Blue Suns base at Joab. They are either painted black (Eclipse), or metallic (Blue Suns). An example of the model is seen crashed through a wall of the hospital on Tuchanka. The vehicle has been 'personalized' with clan markings.

The M29 "Grizzly" Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) was the standard "battle taxi" of Systems Alliance Marines for nearly thirty years. However, while excellent in long-term planetary campaigns, the Grizzly's bulk and weight made it unsuitable for rapid deployment across the Alliance's expanding sphere of influence. To fill this increasingly important role, the M35 "Mako" IFV was designed to fit in the small cargo bays of Alliance scouting frigates. The M35's small size and low weight allow it to be easily deployed to virtually any world. Grizzlies are several meters longer than the Mako; however, when stripped of its antenna and turret, they are roughly the same height. With these optional features, the Grizzlies are taller than a Mako. Six people, including the driver, can fit inside the vehicle. The Grizzlies are compartmentalized into a driver/antenna/engine compartment and a passenger/turret compartment. There is a crew hatch in the driver/engine compartment. The power cells, which power the Grizzlies, are located in the front of this compartment. These cells power the systems aboard the vehicle and provide propulsion power to the wheels located on either side of the passenger/turret compartment. All six wheels of the vehicle are protected by wheel covers. The military-grade Grizzly can be equipped with either an antenna/turret package, or an antenna, minus turret, package. The oldest recorded use of the Grizzly was a turret-less variant used in a skirmish of the First Contact War. This skirmish was recreated as a simulation at the Pinnacle Station. These Grizzlies were painted in the white paint typical of Alliance Navy vehicles. With the success of the Grizzlies, the civilian-grade VT7 was introduced minus the antenna and turret. The VT7s were painted brown with orange highlights. The Grizzly can be maintained by one of two methods. The easiest approach is for the vehicle to be parked over a trench. This approach is seen in the garage at Port Hanshan on Noveria. Another approach is to raise the vehicle as seen in the southernmost torch facility on Asteroid X57. With this approach, the vehicle is supported by gantries holding the first and rearmost tires.

The M35 Mako infantry fighting vehicle was designed for the Systems Alliance's frigates. It is designed to fulfill the role of rapid deployment that its predecessor, the M29 Grizzly, fell short of accomplishing. Though the interior is cramped, an M35 is small enough to be carried in the cargo bay and easily deployed on virtually any world. With its turreted 155mm mass accelerator cannon and coaxial-mounted machine gun, the Mako can provide a fire team with weapon support as well as mobility. Since Alliance marines may be required to fight on any world in a variety of planetary environments, the Mako is environmentally sealed and powered by a hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell. The vehicle's armor is tough enough to withstand high drops, extreme heat and cold and rough terrain. The Mako's suspension and propulsion system allow the vehicle to adapt to various terrain, as well as enabling the vehicle to change direction quickly via independently reversible wheels (similar to a tank). For deployment on low-gravity planetoids, it is equipped with micro-thrusters and a small element zero core, which can be used to increase mass and provide greater traction. While not large enough to nullify the vehicle's mass, the core can reduce it enough to be safely air-dropped (a maneuver normally requiring a minimum of 100m of open terrain). This allows frigates to deploy their shore parties while limiting the ship's exposure to defensive anti-aircraft artillery. When used in conjunction with thrusters, it also allows the Mako to extricate itself from difficult terrain. The Mako's hull is covered with laser detection arrays, which forewarn the crew of enemy laser-guided ordnance. Ground-penetrating radar allows detection of anti-vehicle mines and other subsurface anomalies. These will be brought to the attention of the crew by the vehicle's micro-frame computer system. Several combat support vehicles using the Mako's basic chassis are manufactured for Alliance surface garrisons. These include a recon drone controller, a mobile air defense platform, and the M38 military ambulance nicknamed "Moby" because it is painted white during peacekeeping operations. Shipboard Marines exclusively use the tactically flexible and heavily armed base model.

The A-61 Mantis Gunship is a vehicle that appears in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. Since its introduction, the Mantis has become a staple of military forces across the galaxy. The Gunship is driven by vectored-thrust engines. First rolled off the assembly lines in 2170, the Mantis remains in service in dozens of armies across the galaxy. Its modular construction means that the versatile Mantis can be reconfigured as a low-altitude gunship, a fighter, a high-altitude bomber, or even a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane that can engage enemy craft around a planet or a space station. The only role the Mantis cannot perform is that of a true deep-space fighter, as it has no FTL drive. The Mantis houses an element zero core which lightens the engines with a mass effect field, allowing it to take off vertically and hover in place using minimum fuel. This also gives it far greater range and speed than the helicopters and jump-jet aircraft that once filled its niche.

The UT-47 Kodiak Drop Shuttle is a personnel carrier capable of planetary flight and limited FTL travel introduced in Mass Effect 2. The shuttle is used extensively by the Systems Alliance and Cerberus in Mass Effect 3. Nicknamed the "Combat Cockroach" by Alliance marines due to its durability and looks, the Kodiak drop shuttle is an interplanetary vehicle operated by a pilot and a co-pilot. It can carry up to 14 people, including the pilots, with a total of 12 in a cramped cargo space with full complement, as well as a VI. A true contragravitic vehicle, the Kodiak's substantial element zero core allows flight by entirely countering the vehicle's mass. Its small thrusters are for directional control only, so if the mass effect field fails, the vehicle becomes a proverbial "three-million-credit coffin". The unarmed shuttle forgoes weaponry-space for active masking, electronic countermeasures, and a robust kinetic barrier system. The Kodiak was extensively tested in the sulfuric acid and extreme temperatures of Venus, and can land in hard vacuum, high pressure, and temperatures from near-absolute zero to over 900 degrees Celsius. The larger mass of the Normandy SR-2—nearly twice the mass of the original—meant that it could not land on the surfaces of most planets with ease and had to be provided with one of these shuttles for ease of travel.

In Mass Effect 3, a variant of the shuttle, known as the UT-47A or A-model Kodiak, can be seen and used in various locations and situations. The Normandy SR-2 holds two UT-47A in its hangar bay. The Systems Alliance uses several shuttles to evacuate civilians during the Reaper invasion of Earth. These shuttles are painted blue and white with the Alliance logo. The A-model are equipped with a pair of front-mounted mass accelerator cannons that can be used in an attack role against enemy vehicles. It is also has an upgraded eezo core and a prototype stealth technology based on the Normandy design.

Tridents are single-pilot combat small craft. They are lightweight enough that they can be economically fitted with powerful element zero cores, making them capable of greater acceleration and sharper maneuvers than starships. Kinetic barrier shields changed starship battles from short, vicious bloodbaths to extended, indecisive slugging matches. Only the main gun of a dreadnought could punch a mass accelerator slug through the barriers of an opposing dreadnought. This changed with the development of the fighter-launched mass disruptor torpedo, a short-ranged weapon that can penetrate kinetic barriers to destroy their projector assemblies. Starship GARDIANdefenses must be overwhelmed through swarm tactics. Fighter groups can take heavy casualties pressing their torpedo attacks home. Once fighter-launched torpedoes have crippled an enemy's barriers, the mass accelerators on frigates and cruisers can make short work of them. Interceptors are a type of fighter optimized to attack other fighters, with no ability to damage starships. Interceptors are used to screen friendly units from incoming fighter attack.

Economy

The Alliance has quickly become a key player in the galactic economy, with several large human corporations taking their market share. The Alliance economy, though growing, does not yet come close to that of the asari or turians and is only approaching that of the elcor. The Alliance and the turians have become large trade partners despite lingering animosity over the First Contact War. Although humans have claimed many systems in the Attican Traverse and the Skyllian Verge, many of them contain rich resources which have not been fully surveyed, so the Alliance Geological Service (AGeS) offers bounties to those willing to explore these frontiers. The Alliance's various national treasuries are linked to the Citadel's credit network.

Diplomatic Relations

Overall, the Systems Alliance enjoys good relations with the Asari Republics and the Salarian Union, and it maintains a cold, yet relatively friendly, relationship with the Turian Hierarchy, though animosity over the First Contact War and the occupation of Shanxi remains. The fractured krogan rarely associate with the Alliance, and there is little, if any, dialogue with the quarians and their Flotilla, though they are not on bad terms. Because of Earth's colonization of the Traverse and the Skyllian Verge, humans remain the natural rivals of the batarians. Practically, the Alliance has no other allies. In 2165 the Alliance was granted an embassy on the Citadel, electing Anita Goyle as the first human ambassador. The Alliance desires a bigger role in galactic politics, preferably even a Council seat. If they get a seat, they can use the Council's resources and political pull to protect their colonies and interests, as well as being acknowledged as one of the senior races in Citadel space. The galaxy knows it is only a matter of time before the Alliance gets a say but the ambassadors believe it should happen sooner rather than later. In 2183, the Alliance got its first human Spectre, Commander Shepard, bringing the Alliance one step closer to the Council.  However, despite Earth's good diplomatic record - aside from a small AI research scandal - the Alliance is still feared by many aliens because they hold the opinion that the Alliance is expanding too fast. The Alliance draws some distrust from humans as well. It was not taken seriously until the First Contact War proved how much humanity needed the Alliance; as Doctor Chakwas points out, the Alliance is now essential to human colonization and expansion in the Attican Traverse. Currently, the Alliance's most notable human dissenters are supporters of Terra Firma, a political party who opposes humanity's growing integration into the galactic community. Terra Firma believes humanity needs to stand alone if they are to remain strong. The party has been getting much negative attention from both humans and aliens. The Illusive Man, on the other hand, believes that humanity should be ascendant over all other races. He sees the Alliance as nothing more than weak conformists who kneel before the Council. The Alliance is also sometimes criticized by colonists for its defensive tactics (see above). The fact colonial garrisons are meant for scouting rather than defense means that, in the event of trouble, the cavalry often only arrive once the damage has been done.  The Alliance is open to helping biotics integrate into normal human society, particularly welcoming their enlistment in the military. They now provide funding to the Ascension Project, a second-generation biotics training program, to allay any fears from the public that they are creating supersoldiers. However, some biotics, particularly L2s with severe health problems, oppose the Alliance, believing it is responsible for their suffering because of the failures in initial Alliance-sponsored biotic research. The issue of L2 reparations has created further anger and distrust.

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