'Citadel Scare' is a film genre (also applicable to novels and other fiction media) which arose in the Asari Republics as a reaction to the discovery of the Citadel.


When word of the Citadel reached the asari population, reactions were naturally strong - while various Prothean sites and artefacts in the Parnitha system, and the newly-founded extrasolar colonies, along with the mass relays themselves, meant the existence of technologically advanced alien life had been well established, the Citadel was a significantly greater discovery and mystery. While the majority of asari populations, including the Matriarchs, agreed that cautious optimism was the proper spirit in which to proceed with exploration, some felt that a galactic hub such as the Citadel, apparently abandoned yet in perfect working order and immediately accessible to its discoverers, was suggestive of some deliberate scheme that was at best potentially hazardous, and at worst outright malevolent.

In addition to these views being aired in political debates - where the more sensible suggestions were taken into consideration when forming policy for follow-up missions to enlarge the asari presence on the Citadel and gain a greater understanding of it - a number of novellists, filmmakers, dramatists and other artists, either adherents of the school of thought or wishing to explore it for debate's sake - turned the various potential scenarios behind the Citadel's existence into works of art and fiction.

The most famous, arising primarily in cinema, became known as 'Citadel Scare films', with the common factor being a malicious plan or series of events of some sort behind the outwardly-benign space station. Many scare films were low-budget, created by small production companies with little executive oversight - although this tended to result in cheap-looking, kitschy films, it also had the effect of presenting the writer's story concept (however bizarre) in a form very close to its initial inception, with little calculated alteration to appeal to the mass market, a trend later commentators noted as one of the genre's saving graces. At the time all but the most serious of the films were treated as fantasy entertainment only, but gained a certain appeal beyond their technical merits due to the popular fascination with the Citadel in general.

Given the ongoing failure of the Citadel to brainwash, kill, eat, or otherwise inconvenience its new tenants, the genre's popularity faded over subsequent decades, and was all but gone by the time of contact with the salarians. Subsequently new entries have been occasionally produced, either reinterpreting the original films with some novel twist, or deliberately playing on their low-budget production and erratic scripting for comedy purposes.

Some commentators have suggested that the genre may find new popularity in the wake of the Reaper War, given the surrounding revelations concerning the mass relays, and 'Prothean' technology in general. This has yet to eventualy in more than a scattered handful of works though, with opposing commentators noting that the genre's hallmarks are far too unreal and 'cheesy' to be successfully revived in association with such horrific real events.

Notable works

  • The Cage: Explorers discover other sapient species trapped on the Citadel, and realise it constitutes a 'galactic zoo', collecting examples of any race intelligent enough to find it for observation and scientific study.
  • Dreadnought: The Citadel is revealed as a giant warship that became artificially intelligent and consumed its crew, turning them into organic components in its own systems, which it now seeks to do to its new residents.
  • Dreadnought (novel): No connection to the film. A much later work of speculative horror fiction, notable for the critical acclaim it gathered despite its genre. The multi-layered narrative presents a descent into madness among several early Citadel explorers.
  • Heart of Chrome: Colonists inhabiting the Citadel find their minds gradually being influenced, transforming them into xenocidal conquerers who attempt to put in motion a plan to invade the Republics.
  • Point of No Return: An exploration vessel accidentally activates a dormant Citadel system, transforming the station into an enormous mass relay that sends them to a distant, hostile galaxy

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