Excerpts from the Plight of the Castes (part 1 of 3) is one of the retrospective articles prepared by CDN members to illustrate the events and changes that occurred during the year following the Reaper War.
Excerpts from the Plight of the Castes (part 1 of 3)
In the absence of the unity provided by the Hegemony, the Kite’s Nest slipped into chaos. Reaper forces rampaged unchecked across world after world, and where the government stood it was only because they were complicit in the slaughter. Millions died by the day on dozens of worlds, and in the ignominy of death such trivialities as caste or rank meant nothing. Refugees flooded towards the rest of the Terminus Systems and even Council space, begging sanctuary from those who had until recently been their most hated enemies.
Then it stopped.
As suddenly as they had arrived, the Reaper death squads and dreadnoughts were gone, and with them went the mass relays. The entire batarian race fell into isolation and darkness unrivalled as entire worlds left to fend for themselves withered and died. The fleet was gone, the vast majority of transport vessels had been destroyed, and though worlds whose governments had been complicit remained largely intact their populations were too small and traumatized to establish any kind of order. In the immediate aftermath of the Reaper withdrawal the worlds of the former Hegemony underwent yet another crisis, the inevitable result of a power vacuum.
Few worlds suffered so tragically as Khar’shan, where despite the indoctrination of the leadership the batarian people rose in revolt against their attackers. Slave and nobleman fought side by side against overwhelming odds, and when they fell their blood mingled in the sand and muck. Vast swathes of grassland and forest were scorched black as orbital bombardment stripped the world of its capacity to resist, and the strongest of batarian nations crumpled like paper, yet still the people of Khar’shan fought and died as one against the invaders. In the end, barely anything was left of the batarian homeworld, once as populous as any in the galaxy.
Camala and Erszbat suffered very different fates than Khar’shan - centers of wealth and industry, both world governments were so thoroughly controlled by the alien menace that the populations marched willingly into the processing plants, at least at first. As the stench and gore became more prominent, more and more resistance sprung up, only to be crushed mercilessly by the government itself. The hopelessness of the cause became clear only when the resistance on Erzsbat was at its most successful, toppling provincial governments only to have their newly liberated city obliterated by overwhelming Reaper firepower. Though the two worlds were out of contact with one another, events took similar turns - those who wished to live fled into the countryside, while those who trusted in their government were guided by the hand to their grisly deaths.
Worlds on the edge of batarian space suffered a multitude of fates - some, though left virtually alone by the Reapers, could not survive without the oppressive might of the Hegemony to back them. Colonies suffered slave revolts, local governors who weathered them set themselves up as warlords or worse, and some fanatics even offered themselves up to the Reapers willingly if only to realize their mistake when their new gods did not look kindly upon them. Agricolonies suffered exposure as their sources of equipment and supply vanished overnight, while industrial worlds and their slave populations starved without access to imported foodstuffs. Military outposts destroyed themselves in orgies of violence, indoctrinated fighting those who resisted or even simply two commanders trying to determine who would lead.
Eventually, months after the Reapers had vanished, rudimentary communications began - governments began to form, even if only gangs built around local strongmen. Travel resumed, surviving ships carrying basic supplies and trade goods between worlds, trying to avoid the ambitious marauders and military remnant turned to piracy. Revolutions won or died out, allegiances were declared, and some even saw merit in the formation of an alliance. Survivors were rescued from devastated worlds, and those now in power began to consider the form their new society would take.
Khar’shan is now dominated by a religious fringe, and remains the recognized capital of batarian culture and civilization despite the insignificance of its surviving economy. As the Reapers demolished the planet’s population and infrastructure systematically, one small nation-state was left mostly intact. This traditionally religious and technologically backwards state was left alone only because every other area of the planet posed more of a threat - these farmers and monks using antiquated technology and hand-ploughs survived by chance. In the aftermath of the Reaper withdrawal, however, the green fields and intact homesteads looked like paradise, and the monks were quick to praise the divine for rescuing them from the apocalypse. A shattered and traumatized remnant of the batarian people on Khar’shan saw the monks and their quietly confident ways as a path to salvation, and what was once an almost insignificant faith has proven the dominant force. Unfortunately the perception that simple ways and the absence of technology promises salvation has stifled all but the most necessary reconstruction efforts on Khar’shan.
Camala had always been one of the richest planets in the galaxy due to its disproportionately large stockpiles of eezo. Only a few decades ago Camala was known as a multicultural center of trade, hosting alien merchants and guests from all over the galaxy. Most of this changed when the batarians isolated themselves from the Council species’, banishing almost all alien nationals without exception.
Despite being under the Hegemony’s often corrupt and inefficient rule, Camala continued to flourish, and was one of the most heavily defended planets when the Reapers hit. Camala was struck very hard, it defenses destroyed, its government indoctrinated, and large percentages of its populace decimated in Reaper death camps.
When the Reapers withdrew from the formerly wealthy world of Camala, there was no civil war. The government, heavily indoctrinated over a number of years, ceased to function on its own initiative, and the Triad-like Grusto came to the fore. Quietly murdering the remaining elements of leadership, these organized criminals assumed the mantle of respectable rulers. In many ways the crimelords are in fact an improvement on even the Hegemony government - centuries of working across class and ethnic boundaries in the interest of profit have left them capable of coordinating surviving slaves, nobles and casteless alike. Pragmatism kept the rank and file from following the commands of even indoctrinated Grusto commanders, and when the depleted populations of the surviving cities began to starve it was the Grusto who opened their granaries and food stores, gathering survivors into functional units with promises of food and warmth. The remaining populace rightly see these former criminals as saviors, and while its government bears little resemblance to what had gone before, Camala has proven one of the quickest batarian worlds to begin functioning in some practical fashion. While the corruption and lack of regulation engendered by the Grusto may eventually pose a problem, they formed one of the strongest remaining governments in the Kite’s Nest.
Continue to Part 2 of 3.