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Is submission not preferable to extinction?
~ Saren regarding the futility of facing the Reapers, when subjugating to them could mean they all live.
Your species needs to learn its place, Shepard.
~ Saren Arterius to Shepard, revealing his thoughts on the human race.

Saren Arterius is the secondary antagonist in Mass Effect and the villainous deuteragonist of Mass Effect: Revelation and Mass Effect: Evolution, as well as a posthumous antagonist of Mass Effect: Ascension and Mass Effect 2.

He was working alongside his Reaper flagship Sovereign. He was the longest serving turian member of the Spectres, the Citadel's top covert operatives, who has always been known to be very brutal and ruthless, having little regard for life, and hates humanity, thinking that they should be lower in the hierarchy of galactic society. For 24 years, he has been an agent of the Council's will, a zealous defender of galactic stability in the unsettled border region of the Skyllian Verge.

He was voiced by Fred Tatasciore, who also voiced Ka'hairal Balak and another turian named Warden Kuril in the original trilogy, Mass Effect.

History

Background

Saren Arterius was born in 2139. Official records of Spectres are sealed, but it is known that Saren followed turian tradition and entered the military at the age of 15. In 2155, he was promoted to active service after only a year of training, though it is unclear whether his unit was involved in any of the battles against human forces during the First Contact War of 2157.

In 2159, he became the youngest turian ever accepted into the Spectres. Intelligent, cunning and capable, Saren quickly developed a reputation for ruthless efficiency. Although there were a number of unsettling rumors concerning the brutality of his methods, there was no denying his results.

In recent years, Saren has become an outspoken opponent of human expansion. Like many other non-humans, he believes the Systems Alliance has become overly aggressive in its efforts to establish the people of Earth as a dominant species in Citadel space. Historically, species took centuries to accomplish what humanity had achieved in less than one, and there are several species that have a "lower" standing on the Citadel compared to humanity, despite having been part of the Citadel community longer.

His speciesism is speculated to have originated in the First Contact War, when the turians attacked Shanxi. In 2165, Ambassador Anita Goyle informs David Anderson that Saren lost a brother in the war and has disliked humanity ever since. After their abortive mission together, Saren and Anderson retain a mutual dislike for each other.

Saren has little regard for life. He does not see saving lives as a priority unless the Citadel Council deems it necessary, or if there is information to be gathered. He remains the Council's top agent despite his records: Saren may be ruthless and calculating, but he gets results. He follows two principles, the first being: "Never kill anyone without a good reason" and the second: "You can always find a reason to kill someone".

Mass Effect

Years later, Saren met Sovereign, who was a Reaper, a race of gigantic evil synthetic life forms that terrorized the galaxy millennia ago and annihilated organic life-forms. Saren started working with it hoping to overthrow the Citadel Council and also save the current life of the galaxy from the Reaper invasion; by aiding in said invasion by finding the Conduit, which would allow the Reapers to enter the galaxy through the Citadel, Saren believed that he could prove to the Reapers that organics were useful and convince them to make them subservient instead of wiping them out, reasoning that enslavement was better than annihilation.

However, after enlisting the aid of a race of artificial intelligence beings called the Geth and a powerful Asari biotic named Matriarch Benezia, Saren began a murderous killing spree across the galaxy, killing many beings he was sworn to protect. Eventually, he was informed that a Prothean beacon had emerged from Eden Prime and Saren led the Geth to invade the human colony and find the beacon to get information on the Conduit and its whereabouts, as the message the beacon contained could only be read by organics. While there, Saren encountered fellow Spectre Nihlus Kryik, who was sent to investigate the invasion. When Nihlus questioned Saren of his reason on Eden Prime, Saren assured him he had it under control and killed Nihlus when he let his guard down.

Unfortunately, Saren's plan to cover his involvement had failed as the Alliance ship SSV Normandy had responded quickly to the invasion and a veteran human N7 soldier named Commander Shepard led a ground team to not only save the colony, but also secure the beacon and discover Saren's crimes. Saren quickly left the planet on-board Sovereign, where Benezia informed Saren that Shepard made contact with the beacon, which made Saren decide to eliminate the Commander.

After Shepard and Saren's rival, Captain Anderson, reported Saren's treachery to the Council, they refused to believe Saren would do such a crime. During a hearing, Saren attended in hologram and denied murdering Nihlus. He then used his past relationship with Anderson to complicate the matters further. The Council found no evidence to convict Saren and sent Shepard to find evidence while Saren was free to escape justice. Despite multiple attempts to silence Shepard, the commander met a Quarian named Tali'Zorah nar Rayya, who had an audio file taken from a disabled Geth which proved Saren attacked Eden Prime. With the newfound evidence, the Council revoked Saren's Spectre status, but this was not enough to slow his progress.

Meanwhile, Saren attempted to exploit the Rachni by indoctrinating them into his army, and retrieving information on the Thorian, a life-form with brainwashing powers similar to the Reapers. He also created a "cure" to the Krogan genophage in order to control the Krogan. Saren believed that with the Krogan, he would be unstoppable. Saren established his headquarters on Virmire to house his Krogan breeding facility and captured Salarian soldiers to indoctrinate them.

After being pursued across many planets, Saren finally confronted Shepard in person. During a brief battle, Shepard tried to convince him that he was indoctrinated, but Saren refused to believe this. He then escaped Virmire for Ilos before Shepard caused a nuclear blast to destroy his base, at the cost of one of Shepard's teammates (Ashley Williams or Kaidan Alenko) who stayed behind to protect the nuclear device.

En route to Ilos, Sovereign implants Saren with cybernetic upgrades to 'prevent' Saren from being indoctrinated, while in actuality, ensuring that he remained its pawn. On Ilos, Saren enters an ancient Prothean tomb, with Shepard close behind him. He enters the Conduit, a miniature mass relay leading to the Citadel. There, he lets Sovereign into the Citadel while he delays Shepard. Shepard can either convince Saren that he is indoctrinated, whereupon he commits suicide, or engage Saren in combat, killing him.

Final fight against Saren.

However, Saren is not finished. Sovereign takes control of Saren's corpse, stripping of the turian's flesh, revealing the heavy cybernetic upgrades beneath. Shepard engages him in combat, destroying the synthetic avatar for good. As it dissolves, Sovereign loses control of its shields, giving the Alliance Navy's Arcturus fleet, including the Normandy, a chance to destroy Sovereign once and for all.

Despite the victory, Shepard acknowledges that Saren was correct that the return of the Reapers is inevitable, and vows to find a way to stop them from continuing their cycle of extinction.

Quotes

Nihlus: Saren?!
Saren: Nihlus.
Nihlus: This isn't your mission, Saren. What are you doing here?
Saren: The Council thought you could use some help on this one.
Nihlus: I wasn't expecting to find the geth here. The situation's bad.
Saren: Don't worry. I've got it under control.
~ Saren's debut, before he betrays and kills his good friend Nihlus.
Shepard: Do you really believe the Reapers will let us live?
Saren: Now you see why I never came forward with this to the Council. We organics are driven by emotion instead of logic. We will fight even when we know we cannot win. But if we work with the Reapers—if we make ourselves useful—think how many lives could be spared! Once I understood this, I joined Sovereign, though I was aware of the… dangers. I had hoped this facility could protect me.
Shepard: Together we can stop Sovereign. We don't have to submit to the Reapers. We can beat them!
Saren Arterius: I no longer believe that Shepard. The visions cannot be denied. The Reapers are too powerful. The only hope of survival is to join with them. Sovereign is a machine. It thinks like a machine. If I can prove my value, I become a resource, worth maintaining. There is no other logical conclusion.
Shepard: You were a Spectre. You swore to protect the galaxy. Then you broke that vow to save yourself.
Saren Arterius: I'm not doing this for myself. Don't you see, Sovereign will succeed. It is inevitable. My way is the only way any of us will survive. I'm forging an alliance between us and the Reapers, between organics and machines, and in doing so, I will save more lives than have ever existed. But you would undo my work. You would doom our entire civilization to complete annihilation, and for that, you must die.
Saren: Join Sovereign and experience a true rebirth!
Shepard: I’d rather die than live like that.
Saren: Then you will die. And your companions. Everyone you know and love. Everyone you’ve ever met. Don’t you understand? You will all die!
Goodbye, Shepard. Thank you.
~ Saren, if Shepard convinces him to fight Sovereign's control, before he commits suicide.

Gallery

Trivia

  • It is Saren who appointed Avitus Rix as a Spectre.
  • According to The Art of Mass Effect, Saren's left arm is actually a grafted geth arm.
  • There are several cybernetic ports visible in the back of Saren's head during the events on Eden Prime, ports which are not readily noticeable on Saren's hologram during the first meeting of the Council, as well as his artificial left arm. The port going into his leg also appears to be missing.
  • The platform that Saren rides when being fought was originally intended to be used by geth troopers (see The Art of Mass Effect) but was later made exclusive to Saren. Like all geth technology, it has a distinctive flashlight 'eye' and may be controlled using Saren's cybernetic implants.
  • Early concept art for Saren portrayed him in a different outfit that was black and sleek, as well as wielding a sword or cane intended to tie into his biotic powers. This was later changed to make Saren more of an armored, military figure.

External Links

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           Masseffect logo.png Villains

Reapers and Servants
Sovereign | Harbinger | Human-Reaper Larvae | Saren Arterius | Matriarch Benezia | Collector General | Husks | Collectors

Cerberus
Illusive Man | Renegade Commander Shepard | Kai Leng | Oleg Petrovsky | Henry Lawson | Maya Brooks | Gavin Archer

Corrupt Party Members
Jack | Morinth | Zaeed Massani

Villainous Organizations and Species
CAT6 | Geth | The Citadel Council | The Blood Pack | The Blue Suns | The Eclipse | The Archon

Mercenaries and other Criminals
Aria T'Loak | Captain Enyala | Clone | Doctor Saleon | Garm | Golo'Mekk vas Usela | Harkin | Jaroth | Jedore | Ka'hairal Balak | Nassana Dantius | Shadow Broker | Tarak | Tela Vasir | Vido Santiago | Warden Kuril

Other Villains
Admiral Daro'Xen | Admiral Han'Gerrel vas Neema | Clan Chief Weyrloc Guld | Dalatrass Linron | Gatatog Uvenk | Maelon Heplorn | Ronald Taylor | Thorian | Urdnot Wreav

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