The Prothean are an advanced species that mysteriously vanished in the Mass Effect universe.
This humanoid race developed on their homeworld where they were a society of hunters that developed numerous biological advantages such as learning through scent alone. Following their achievement of spaceflight, they discovered the ruins of a much older previous civilization known as the inusannon. From these ruins, the Protheans developed a mastery over mass effect and FTL technology which they used to forge an empire in the stars. In time, they quickly managed to spread throughout the galaxy through the use of the Mass Relay network and eventually turned the Citadel into their capital. Historical and archaeological records of this time indicated that the Protheans were the only star farring race in this time though this was actually inaccurate as there were numerous other such species that inhabited this epoch. These included the oravores, zha, densorin, ditakur, synril, enduromi, vandomar, tulomorian and the vanksher. During this era, the Protheans witnessed the zha modify themselves with an artificial intelligence that eventually became hostile that eventually took control of their creators. This new machine race became known as the Zha'til who threatened to overwhelm the Prothean Empire. Thus, the Protheans united all the galaxy's sentient organic life under the rule of their empire in order to defeat this threat. This was the reason why later historical records led scientists to believe that the Protheans were the only race in their time as all their inducted subject species became known as Protheans. Those organic races that resisted the Protheans were crushed whilst the servant races were assimilated into the Prothean culture. Through this means, their empire managed to resist the Zha'til in the Metacon War.
Following this time, the Protheans learnt of the existence of an ancient race of machines known as the Reapers that were responsible for numerous cycles of extinction of organic races. This was achieved by the studying of the ruins of other such extinquished civilizations. Their studies also revealed the existence of an ancient weapon known as the Crucible that was developed by these extinct older races and improved upon by their successors. With it, the Protheans began to attempt to develop a countermeasure by using these designs. At the same time, the Protheans were known to had formed alternative measures in case their primary plan failed. This involved an extensive observation program on the primitive younger primitive races whichincluded the asari, hanar, humans, salarians and the turians. Among their achievements included the deflection of an asteroid sent towards Thessia by the oravores that was remembered in asari mythology as the act of their goddess Athame. The aim of this initiative was for select Protheans to survive the Reaper purge and emerge in the new cycle in order to unite these younger races to form a new empire to finally defeat the Reapers. At some point in the empire's history, they discovered the primitive Rachni and became fascinated by them. The Protheans made use of the Rachni as living biological weapons that were deployed against their enemies worlds. To accomplish this, they enlisted only the most cunning and war-like of the Rachni queens. However, the Rachni rebelled and the Protheans attempted to exterminate them with them believing that they had succeeded in this task.
Similar to previous cycles, the Reaper invasion saw them emerge at the Citadel that stood at the heart of the Prothean Empire. With its fall, the Protheans fell into disarray as their leaders were lost and the Reapers tapped into the collective knowledge of the empire stored at the station. This information proved invaluable to the ancient machines as it contained population census's, list of facilities and planets held by the organic civilizations of the galaxy. The war with the Reapers were noted to had lasted centuries. A reason attributed to their defeat was their empire which was whilst was their greatest strength was also their greatest weakness. This was because they were an empire of many races that all adopted one strategy. The Reapers exploited this facet of the Prothean's who struggled to adapt to their foe. The Reaper War was a brutal engagement where they fought their foe in a war of attrition. Protheans fought the machine foe by making them pay for every city, planet and star system they acquired. This also saw them abandon world's to the Reapers thus sacrificing their populations to their enemies. The reasoning behind this strategy was the time spent harvesting a population was an opportunity for the Protheans to regroup their forces. Many of the empire's citizens also suffered from the affects of indoctrination where they became subservient to the Reapers will and sent to fight their own people. Through this means, indoctrinated infiltrators were used to help pave the way for the Reapers conquest.
At some point, a number of Protheans were converted by the Reapers into an indoctrinated subservient species that became known as the Collectors. These transformed agents were used to wage war against the Protheans in the final years of their empire. A number of initiatives were made to preserve their kind and survive the purge of this galactic cycle by the Reapers. One was on the planet Eden Prime where an underground bunker facility had been constructed to store nearly one million members of their kind in cryogenic stasis. Among their number included a warrior named Javik who was to lead his people into the next galactic cycle and re-create the Prothean Empire to battle the Reapers. Despite their attempts, the facility was breached when indoctrinated traitors had leaked its existence to the Reapers. In the resultant attack, the Reapers had succeeded in destroying hundreds of thousands of stasis pods with their occupants killed in the process. In order to preserve the survivors, the Prothean VI Victory initiated a neutron bombardment to eliminate the Reaper forces. However, this damaged key systems in the Prothean complex that damaged the automated revival systems that would awaken them. The VI thus set the stasis system to awaken Commander Javik when his stasis pod was discovered by he next intelligent culture. Due to the damage and length of time, a power shortage was present with rationing these reserves being initiated. Javik's survival was declared a priority and power was diverted from the remaining stasis pods to ensure he lived to the next galactic cycle. On Illos, a Prothean installation managed to escape detection where a team of scientists had managed to reverse engineer the Mass Relay. In order to survive, the facility's personnel went into stasis but the lengthy period of the Reaper harvest meant many years went by whereby a shortage in power led to the VI Vigil initiating its directive leading to individual pods being disconnected to allow priority personnel to live. By the time the Reapers departed, only the lead scientists of the project remained alive and after being awakened the used the reverse engineered Relay known as the Conduit to reach the Citadel. Once there, they altered the Keepers that tended to it and were key in bringing the return of the Reapers for a galactic harvest. This alteration led to the Keepers becoming benign whereby they would not respond to any signal to activate the station.
In the time that followed, the Illos researchers were said to had perished without food or water to sustain them. Similarly, the Reapers had left behind many of their indoctrinated servants who died off without the commands of their masters. Thus, through a thorough campaign of elimination, the Reapers had succeeded in removing any trace of the Protheans from the galaxy except for a few ruins. From Illos, the researchers last act was to send a warning signal to the remains of the Beacon network to inform them of the Reaper threat. One of the few legacies remaining were the Collectors that had been transformed by the Reapers from Prothean subjects with this engineered race retreating to the galactic core to continue their master's bidding.
After 50,000 years, the Prothean Empire was believed to had been extinct though records of their existence were known to the next cycles civilizations. These new races came to believe that the mass relays and the Citadel were construction of the long dead Protheans.
In appearance, the species were a race of humanoids with dark skin, a hard head crest and four eyes.
The process of evolution had a deep impact on the Prothean psyche to the point that their scientists referred to it as the "cosmic imperative". Protheans held the view that organic life went through this imperative where the strong survived whilst the weak perished. Thus, they held no mercy or sympathy for races too weak to survive. Furthermore, they believed that races capable of defeating them held the right to inherit the galaxy. This was partly the reason for their dislike of artificial intelligences as they believed that machines were incapable of evolving. In addition, they held the view that machines would always struggle with organic life as they knew who their creators were and that this would lead to their eventual rebellion.
In their society, there were a number of avatars who were considered exemplars of singular traits. Thus, there were avatars of bravery, courage, cunning and vengeance. Games of chance such as gambling were punishable by death in the empire.
One of the greatest strengths of the Prothean's was their empire which was a single government that consisted of many subject races. These races followed the singular doctrine of this government and even came to call themselves Protheans. However, this same strength became their greatest weakness during the Reaper invasion as their leadership was destroyed whereupon their kind became fractured and divided. Whilst Protheans were able to learn a language at a high rate, they did develop a language program tool which was used for their second class subject races. They also cultivated a number of races that were deemed to hold potential and once they evolved to an adequate point they would have been given a choice to join the empire. Such choices were non-negotiable as the Protheans often forcibly incorporated other species into their empire.
They developed cryogenic preservation techniques that allowed individuals to serve within pods. Within the pods, they were able to survive over the millennia so long as power was maintained to them.
In terms of weaponry, the Protheans were responsible for the development of Particle Rifles that came as a result of the Reapers annihilating the Empire's warships. The resisting Protheans were thus forced to develop weapons that did not rely on an intact supply chain. This led to the development of a stripped down yet powerful assault rifle that did not use thermal clips or specialized ammunition. Extended use required that the weapon take a temporary coolddown state due to overheating.
The Prothrean Empire was also known to had made use of VI technology though were distrustful of AIs. These were non-organic personality intelligences that had imprinted on them the minds of Protheans. VIs took the form of of green holograms that sometimes took the appearance of certain Protheans. They were tasked with handling tasks and following the commands of their creators. They also developed stasis technology with pods designed to contain members of their kind. These machines were able to keep a Prothean alive for as far as 50,000 years so long as power requirements were met. Protheans also made use of memory shards that were small rectangular hand-held devices that contained the memories of their users and were passed on to future descendants in order to share memories of past events. Their beacon technology employed systems that mimicked their own natural capacity to impart their knowledge through touch. The beacons were used at the apex of their civilization as a galactic communication network to rapidly send messages between worlds.
A secret research initiative by the Protheans during the Reaper war saw them reverse engineer a miniature mass relay. This was part of a desperate plan to thwart the plans of the Reapers by providing a backdoor to the Citadel itself. Known as the Conduit, this version was capable of being deployed on a planet and was separate from the entire mass relay network making it truly independent. However, it came at the cost of being a one way relay corridor which meant that travellers were trapped at the location of the receiving relay.
- Javik :
- Ksad Ishan :
- Pashek Vran :
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