|This article is about batarians in general. For the in-game enemy unit, see Batarian (enemy).|
A race of four-eyed bipeds native to the world of Khar'shan, the batarians are a disreputable species that chose to isolate itself from the rest of the galaxy. The Terminus Systems are infested with batarian pirate gangs and slaving rings, fueling the stereotype of the batarian thug. It should be noted that these criminals do not represent average citizens, who are forbidden to leave batarian space by their ubiquitous and paranoid government.
Despite several disagreements with the Citadel and simmering hostility toward humans, most batarians prefer profitable pursuits such as drug running and slave grabs to out-and-out warfare. They have a reputation for being shrewd businessmen and merchants, though in more lawless regions of the galaxy like Omega, negotiations with a batarian are likely to be conducted at gunpoint.
Batarians are an anthropoidal race like humans and asari. Their faces are covered with short, fine hairs that grow longer and thicker around the mouth. A flat stripe of ridged cartilage runs along the tops of their skulls and down the backs of their necks. They have ears pointy at the upper end, though on occasion along the edges as well. The part of their faces commonly associated with the nose among humans and asari is instead an inverted flat triangle symmetrically ridged vertically. Compared to humans, batarians have a deep, guttural voice. Batarians' mouths are filled with dozens of sharp, needle-like teeth.
Their most distinctive physical feature is their four eyes, an uncommon trait among other races. One pair is set wide in prominent bony sockets protruding from the corners of their face. The second set of eyes is smaller and closer together, set higher on the face, just beneath the middle of the forehead. The eyes are uniformly dark orbs, with no discernible irises or pupils.
Batarians exhibit a wide range of skin tones and colors. Most batarians encountered by Shepard have a dark brown hue with pale facial ridges. General batarian complexions include reddish-brown, greenish, yellow-greenish to yellow-brownish, light brown, and teal.
Some batarians possess striped colorations on their heads. Observed patterns include multiple chin stripes, a single strip running from the lower lip, or a thin dagger of color above the nose. These patterns are usually colored blue, black, or red, while the nose pattern is invariably red. At least one, Balak, has what appears to be a black and yellow striped pigmentation at the temples with light green facial ridges.
Batarian blood has been observed to be red.
When the batarians achieved spaceflight, they discovered concealed Prothean ruins on Bira, a moon of Verush, that allowed them to develop FTL travel. It is a batarian point of pride that, since the ruins were damaged by earthquakes, they had less information to go on than other spacefaring races. The Citadel Council granted the batarians an embassy on the Citadel sometime after the volus, approximately a century after the batarians and Council had made first contact.
Despite being welcomed into the galactic community, batarian aggression provoked several crises in galactic relations over the years. Sometime around 1785 CE, a batarian fleet bombarded the salarian colony world of Mannovai; in 1913, the Batarian Hegemony annexed the independent asari colony of Esan; and in 2115, Citadel forces skirmished with batarian forces on the planet Enael.
In the early 2160s, humans began to colonize the Skyllian Verge, a region the batarians were already actively settling. The batarians asked the Citadel Council to intervene and declare the Verge an area of "batarian interest". When the Council refused, the batarians closed their Citadel embassy and severed diplomatic and economic relations, becoming an inward-looking rogue state.
Money and weapons funneled from the batarian government to criminal organizations led to many brutal raids on human colonies in the Verge, such as Mindoir, culminating in the Skyllian Blitz of 2176, an attack on the human colony of Elysium by batarian-funded pirates and slavers. In 2178, the Alliance retaliated with a crushing assault on the moon of Torfan, long used as a staging base by batarian-backed criminals. In the aftermath, the batarians retreated into their own systems, and are now rarely seen in Citadel space.
Bring Down the Sky
In 2183, batarian extremists hijack Asteroid X57 in order to use it against the human colony of Terra Nova. Originally intending to just snatch X57's human engineers and take them as slaves, the batarians brutally executed them and decided to use the asteroid as a weapon. Balak, the ringleader, claimed this was the will of the "batarian rebellion", and revenge for human activities in the Traverse. However, some of his underlings, including Balak's second-in-command Charn, did not want to commit this act, having initially signed up thinking it would be just another slave raid. The attempted asteroid drop, which would have destroyed Terra Nova and killed millions of people, was thwarted by Commander Shepard.
The batarian extremists on X57 consist of several kinds of troops:
- Batarian Trooper - A basic grunt armed with an assault rifle and shotgun.
- Batarian War Beasts - Despite the name, these are varren, identical to those found on Feros (and referred to as such by the batarians).
- Batarian Shock Trooper - A biotic trooper with Vanguard-type abilities and shotguns.
- Batarian Rocket Soldier - Another basic grunt armed with an assault rifle which has the ability to fire rockets by switching fire modes.
- Batarian Engineer - A batarian trooper who can use tech abilities to Sabotage weapons and paralyze enemies.
- Batarian Sniper - A batarian soldier armed with a sniper rifle and pistol.
Mass Effect Galaxy
As the batarian ambassador Jath'Amon attempts to negotiate a peace treaty between the batarians and the Citadel Council, batarian terrorists try to stop the meeting by unleashing a biological weapon. Fortunately for the Council, the terrorists, secretly led by Jath'Amon himself, are defeated by Jacob Taylor before they have a chance to use the weapon.
Mass Effect 2
Batarians are commonly found on the Omega station, as mercenaries as well as civilians. In 2185, a mad batarian preacher found in the markets claims that humanity is a blight on the galaxy and will cause its downfall. A batarian bartender in Afterlife's lower level is also known for poisoning humans. When a mysterious plague ravages the station's Gozu District, many batarians perish before the cure is distributed through Commander Shepard's efforts. A batarian whom the Commander meets initially believes that because humans are immune to it, they created it; if he is given aid he expresses surprise, but is thankful. A second batarian group, threatening the assistant of Dr. Mordin Solus, also believes the plague is human-sourced; if allowed to live, thereby keeping Shepard's word, he expresses surprise at "human nobility," and leaves.
At one point, batarian terrorists attempt to destroy the human colony on Watson by raiding an Alliance missile base and launching two Javelin missiles. Unable to stop both missiles, Commander Shepard is forced to choose between sparing the colonists or the colony's industrial infrastructure.
A rescue attempt of an Alliance scientist taken prisoner by batarian forces results in the total destruction of the batarian-controlled Bahak system and the deaths of its over 300,000 inhabitants after the system's mass relay is destroyed. The Batarian Hegemony believes that the destruction of their system is a terrorist attack undertaken by Systems Alliance agents. Tensions between the Hegemony and the Alliance rise sharply, with the batarians speculated to be willing to go to war.
The Reaper War
Batarian response to the assault was uncoordinated. Back in 2163 CE, the Hegemony recovered the Leviathan of Dis, a billion-year old Reaper corpse, from Jartar. They issued total denials of its existence then began secret intensive studies of its advanced technology in the hope of reclaiming the batarians' place in the galaxy. This allowed the Leviathan to indoctrinate the science team and prominent batarian officials. When the Reapers invaded in 2186 CE, the indoctrinated officials sabotaged Hegemony defenses and broadcast misleading messages, allowing the Reapers to easily conquer batarian systems and crush their navy.
As with most races suitable for combat integration, the Reapers converted captured batarians into Cannibals and dispatched them to numerous battlefields across the galaxy. Those that managed to get away found themselves refugees on alien territory, with some even taking refuge in the Citadel itself.
If Balak escaped Asteroid X57, the Reaper invasion leaves him the highest-ranking member of the Hegemony's military still alive. He makes his way to the Citadel where he directs the remnants of the batarian fleet against the Reapers by hacking Council transmissions to learn Reaper locations. Shepard can convince Balak to lend his fleet's support in retaking the galaxy from the Reapers or kill him for his actions above Terra Nova.
Surviving soldiers of the former Batarian Hegemony are one of several groups involved in the war effort against the Reaper invasion. According to one Alliance news report, however, their participation in the fight, though appreciated, has not yet earned them the full trust and respect of Alliance soldiers.
Starting Over in Andromeda
A few hundred batarians cast their lot with the Andromeda Initiative to begin new lives in another galaxy. Two of them - a Scrapper and a Vanguard - earned spots aboard the ark Paarchero in an asylum deal in exchange for their services in securing salarian interests across the Heleus Cluster. The remainder were bunked aboard the quarian ark Keelah Si'yah, which left the Milky Way shortly after the Reaper invasion of Camala.
During the 600-year transit between galaxies, a cross-species biological plague developed aboard Keelah Si'yah and spread to the batarian contingent due to its unique arrangement of a maintenance crew periodically reviving to check on the ship. A cascade of software failures forced revival of some batarians from cryosleep, further spreading the infection and claiming some casualties.
Due to the illness and subsequent death of one batarian passenger, the Sleepwalker team revived to deal with the situation were able to identify and track the progression of the disease. After the synthesis and delivery of a cure, the survivors disposed of the dead and returned to their cryopods to sleep off the remaining 3 decades before reaching Andromeda.
Batarians place an extremely high value on social caste and appearance, and overstepping one's place is frowned upon. Effective caste status can be bought on an ongoing basis like a subscription service, allowing the buyer to worm their way into the elite circles of batarian society given enough funds. Casting aspersions on the monetary worth of a social better is considered a serious insult. Batarians strongly believe that species with fewer than four eyes are less intelligent; they often gain the upper hand in interspecies arguments because other races find it difficult to know which eyes to focus on when speaking to them.
Slavery is an integral part of the batarian caste system, despite being illegal according to Council law. The custom is so deeply ingrained in batarian culture that batarians consider the Council's anti-slavery standing to be discriminatory. Rogue batarian slave rings are feared throughout the galaxy, especially among colonists on remote worlds, which are often raided by batarian slavers. Victims of such raids are usually implanted with control devices in their skulls, a painful operation since the slavers rarely make use of anesthetic; Talitha, abducted from Mindoir, was a victim of this practice. The batarians are also known to enslave addicts of the biotic drug red sand when they can no longer afford to support their habit.
Body language is an important part of batarian society. For example, tilting one's head to the left is a sign of admiration and respect. When a batarian tilts their head to the right, however, it is a sign that they consider themselves to be superior to the person whom the gesture was directed towards. Therefore, this gesture can easily be interpreted as an insult by batarians due to the high value that they place on social caste.
Little is known about batarian religious beliefs. Mordin Solus has noted that batarians do believe in an afterlife. When a batarian dies, his soul leaves the body through the eyes. Treatment of the corpse is considered unimportant, unless the batarian's eyes have been removed by an enemy.
In 2186, a batarian preacher asks Commander Shepard to recover the Pillars of Strength scroll so that he can guide his followers through hard times. It suggests that the batarians' religious beliefs are based on words from sacred texts, similar to some human religions such as Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam.
The rest of the galaxy views the batarians as an ignorable problem. Their government, known as the Batarian Hegemony, is still hostile to the Systems Alliance, but beneath the notice of the powerful Council races. It is not known what the average batarian thinks about their enforced isolation, as the Department of Information Control ensures that only government-approved news enters or leaves batarian space. Given the batarian government's oppressive nature, it is speculated their supreme leadership is autocratic or totalitarian in nature, although the batarian homeworld of Khar'shan remains divided into various competing nation-states.
The batarians blame humanity for their troubles and claim they were forced to fend for themselves, despite the fact that their exile is largely self-imposed. This has resulted in humans receiving the brunt of batarians' antagonism in the form of scams, slave raids, and terrorist attacks, incidents which the Hegemony covertly supports but is always quick to publicly distance itself from.
Despite their isolation, the batarians still provide up-to-date glossaries and linguistic rules to the rest of the galaxy, though it is suspected that this is only so they can continue exporting propaganda. Batarian languages have become "lingua franca" in the Terminus Systems due to the prevalence of batarians in the region.
Little is known about the batarian military. Citadel sanctions have left the Batarian Hegemony a paper tiger of an empire, one that fights rivals through deniable terrorist actions rather than the wars of its heyday centuries ago. By 2160, when colonisation of the Skyllian Verge began, batarian military capacity had apparently weakened to the point that they were unable to prevent human expansion; Balak claims that the Council and batarians themselves knew the humans were stronger but nothing was done to protect them, and the batarians were left to defend themselves.
The Batarian Hegemony does not trust private industry to create their military hardware. Most batarian military hardware is produced by a corporation called Batarian State Arms, a vast nationalized institution infamous for its waste and corruption. It produces various offensive and defensive products that are sold primarily in the Terminus Systems.
The batarian fleet is known to operate at least one dreadnought; as a non-Citadel race, they are not bound by the Treaty of Farixen and may have more. They also field smaller vessels, including the Hensa class of cruisers. Given one member of this class was twenty years old in 2183, however, the batarians may have retired the Hensa class from active service by this time.
The batarian military has a special forces division known as the Special Intervention Unit. All that is known about the SIU is that their training program is brutal. After the Blue Suns hired a group of former SIU operatives to run a hostile environment training camp on the planet Xetic, an investigation by Illium authorities into the camp found that the mortality rate was as high as 18%; however, an independent Blue Suns inquiry found that the batarian operatives' harsh training techniques were consistent with those employed in the SIU training program. Other known branches of the batarian military include the Batarian External Forces, which Ka'hairal Balak is a high ranking member of.
Whatever the true size and strength of the batarian military, it was virtually wiped out by the Reaper onslaught in 2186. The few ships that survived the fall of Khar'shan fled to Alliance space along with thousands of refugees.
- In the French version, batarians are called "butariens". This may have been because the French word "bâtard", pronounced "batar" means "bastard".
- Before the Bring Down the Sky add-on is downloaded, the Codex entry for batarians under non-council races features a picture showing a different concept of a batarian.
- An early iteration of Mass Effect's story featured the batarians as the primary enemies in place of the geth. The batarians were also originally intended to be "small bat-like people".
- According to a Mass Effect 2 character document used during development, BioWare had a pitch for a batarian squadmate. The "Batarian Gearhead" is a 27-year-old hacker who doesn't actually hate humanity compared to the stereotypes, and is basically a nerd whose brilliance precludes him from having a normal life. 
- Batarians are one of the playable races in Mass Effect 3's cooperative multiplayer mode, starting with two characters added by the Mass Effect 3: Resurgence Pack. Another 2 batarian characters were added by Mass Effect 3: Retaliation.
|Citadel||Asari • Drell • Elcor • Hanar • Human • Keeper • Salarian • Turian • Volus|
|Non-Citadel||Batarian • Collector • Geth • Krogan • Leviathan • Quarian • Raloi • Reaper |
Virtual Alien • Vorcha • Yahg
|Historical||Prothean • Rachni • Other Historical Races|
|Andromeda||Angara • Jardaan • Kett • Remnant|