|This article is about Saren Arterius in general. For information and tactics on fighting him, see Saren.|
Saren Arterius, born 2139, is the longest serving turian member of the Spectres, the elite operatives answering directly to the Citadel Council. 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.
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.
During his time as a Spectre, Saren befriended or inducted several people into the ranks, usually after becoming impressed with their military performance. He was responsible for recruiting both Avitus Rix and Nihlus Kryik.
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, 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 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: Evolution
Following the First Contact War in 2157 CE, Saren is in charge of the human prisoners Jack Harper and Eva Coré. He is returning them to Arcturus Station when upon bringing them to the station, Eva tackles his brother, Desolas. Saren pulls Eva off of him then joins Desolas aboard the ship and departs the station. Later when Jack and Eva come looking for the artifact that they found on Shanxi, Saren ambushes them with several of Desolas' bodyguards before Eva and Jack escape. While running through the corridors, one of the guards catches Jack and Eva, and it's their old companion, Ben Hislop.
While Eva is pleading with Ben to let Jack go, Saren arrives and orders Ben to release Jack, and to seize Eva. Eva tries to get away up a ladder, but it is brought crashing to the ground by Ben. While Ben is combing through the wreckage, he comes across Eva's unconscious body, and has a moment of clarity. Saren however quickly shatters it by ordering him to bring Eva to the ship immediately.
Once back on the turian homeworld of Palaven, Saren approaches his brother in Temple Palaven to say that Desolas' servants, dressed as "Valluvian Priests" won't move the artifact into the temple, even after he ordered them in that language that Desolas dug up. Saren continues by saying that they were willing to appear with Desolas and wear the cloaks, but they won't go the last kilometer they need them to. After Desolas has a short conversation with one of them, telling them they will move the artifact once the colonnade is clear. Saren says that he doesn't like it as they don't serve them, rather they only care about the Monolith. However, Desolas is confident that he can use the Monolith to control them effectively, as well as use to perfectly replicate the circumstances that enhanced Harper's abilities without reducing him to a mindless husk. It is Desolas' plan to use the Monolith to evolve the turian race to the next stage, which Saren dubs meta-turians, so that they would be able to put their race at the top of galactic dominance.
Saren becomes suspicious of the meta-turians' excavation of the lower levels of the temple. Unintentionally meeting with an escaped Eva and Harper, they discover that the meta-turians are uncovering a second monolith. Harper explains that their ancient turian ancestors built this temple to hide the monolith so they could protect their species. And with two on the planet, the meta-turians will spread its effect across Palaven and beyond.
After realizing the extent of Desolas' madness, Saren destroys the Temple, with Desolas and his bodyguards still inside, saying that some secrets are better left buried and vows to avenge his brother.
Mass Effect: Revelation
In 2165, Saren is investigating an illegal arms dealing on Juxhi. A mercenary group called the Grim Skulls, consisting partly of humans, are buying stolen weapons from turian sellers, something which Saren takes personally. After wiping out nearly all the mercenaries and sellers, Saren interrogates a sole survivor, who tries to bargain for his life with information. Saren learns that the weapons are originally intended for the Blue Suns, who were planning a major operation, but they pulled out at the last minute to avoid the attention of the Spectres.
Saren becomes interested in their activities, and tracks down a member of the Blue Suns, a batarian named Groto Ib-ba, cornering him at the Sanctuary, an upper-class brothel. Saren patiently tortures Ib-ba for information and learns much of the Blue Suns' actions on Sidon. After Ib-ba told him about Kahlee Sanders and the krogan bounty hunter whom Edan Had'dah had sent after her, Saren breaks Ib-ba's neck and follows Skarr to find Kahlee, wanting proof that the Alliance has been acting illegally at Sidon.
Saren finds Skarr on Elysium and intervenes when the krogan attacks Jon Grissom's home. He saves Kahlee, along with David Anderson and Jon Grissom, then interrogates Kahlee about Sidon. Saren accepts her lie that it has been a training ground for human biotics but remains suspicious. Knowing Skarr is the key to finding the truth, Saren uses his contacts to ascertain the krogan's next move. After Skarr destroys the Dah'tan Manufacturing facility on Had'dah's orders, there is only one survivor, a female batarian called Jella who had been Had'dah's contact. Jella has been badly burned in the attack, but manages to give Saren Had'dah's name in a hospital before Saren lets her die.
Wanting to flush out Had'dah, Saren decides to quietly leak news of Kahlee Sanders' extraction from Camala, knowing Had'dah would take the bait. After Kahlee is captured, Saren finds himself assigned to work with David Anderson on the Council's orders, supposedly to evaluate Anderson as a possible Spectre candidate. However, the two dislike each other from the beginning; Saren has a universal dislike of humans, and Anderson resents Saren's brutal methods.
In truth, Saren does not care about rescuing Kahlee; he only wants to find Had'dah, along with Dr. Shu Qian, as he is becoming more interested in the artifact the two have discovered. When Saren and Anderson head to the element zero refinery where Kahlee is being held, Saren lets Anderson go ahead, then abandons the plan, destroying the refinery. Saren finds Had'dah and Dr. Qian in hiding. He kills the doctor on Had'dah's suggestion that Qian's irrationality has made him a liability, then, despite Had'dah's bargaining that without him, it will take Saren years to utilise their research, also kills the batarian, stating he is patient, and takes their research.
Later, Saren gives a very negative report on Anderson to the Council, claiming he alerted the refinery's guards and wrecked the operation. Saren then dedicates himself to using Dr. Qian's research to find this artifact and use it, believing he has found a weapon to control the geth and humble humanity once and for all.
Alliance with the Machines
After his acquiring of the artifact, Saren's activities are something of a mystery. The only report from that time comes from Urdnot Wrex, who was hired along with several other mercenaries to attack freighters, including a volus cargo freighter. While Wrex was looking for valuables, he saw Saren walking through the ship, ignoring the mercenaries who spoke to him. Wrex did not know why Saren chose to attack the freighter; there was nothing particularly valuable on board, at least as far as he was aware, but the krogan had a bad feeling about the job and left without waiting to be paid. His instincts were validated; every other mercenary who had been involved was found dead within a week. It is still unknown why Saren attacked the freighter, or if he ever found what he was looking for.
During this time, Saren makes his final preparations to discover Dr. Shu Qian's artifact, and encounters Sovereign. Through the ancient Reaper, he learns the fate of the many civilizations of eons past. Instead of using Sovereign as a weapon, as he had intended, Saren makes it his goal to save the races of the galaxy by aiding the Reapers, proving the worth of organics to the Reapers so that they might be spared. He believes that servitude is the logical answer, instead of instinctively fighting to the finish.
However, Sovereign has other plans. The more time Saren spends in service to Sovereign, the more indoctrinated he becomes. His free will is gradually sapped and supplanted by the desires of the Reaper, and the values of his people that Saren still believes in — that an individual's personal needs are always subordinate to the greater good of the group — are twisted so gradually that Saren remains certain he is right. Slowly, Saren becomes Sovereign's most powerful, and visible, agent. Able to begin the plans Sovereign had been laying for centuries while the Reaper kept its true nature hidden, Saren acts as Sovereign's agent on the forefront, never revealing the true enemy. The geth are sought out from behind the Perseus Veil to serve Sovereign, looking upon the massive ship as their new machine-god and Saren as their 'prophet'. Matriarch Benezia allies with Saren in an attempt to make him follow a better path, but ends up being indoctrinated herself. She then becomes Saren's most powerful ally.
Saren commits horrific crimes against the galaxy, killing citizens he had sworn to protect, using innocents for his private experiments, even murdering his old friend and fellow Spectre, Nihlus Kryik. When a Prothean Beacon is unearthed on the human colony of Eden Prime, Saren leads the geth there to use the beacon and find clues that will lead him to the Conduit, as the message sent through the beacon was coded so only organic minds could understand it.
Yet Saren's attempt to destroy the Eden Prime colony to cover his tracks fails when the Alliance ship SSV Normandy responds more quickly than Saren anticipated. Commander Shepard leads a ground team to secure the beacon, only to learn that Saren and the geth are behind the attack on the colony. Later, Saren is informed that Shepard made contact with the beacon, and decides to eliminate the Commander.
After the initial reports to the Council of Saren's rogue activities, the Council refuses to believe that one of their most highly decorated Spectres betrayed them. During a hearing, Saren denies killing Nihlus, even though it was witnessed by a dockworker, Powell, claiming he only knew about events on Eden Prime by accessing Nihlus' files after his death. Furthermore, his past with Anderson complicates matters and the Council finds no evidence to convict him. Because of this, Shepard is forced to find more evidence of Saren's treachery while Saren, duly warned that the Commander is on his trail, remains free to act.
While dealing with assassins loyal to Saren, Shepard's investigation leads the Commander to a young quarian named Tali'Zorah nar Rayya on her Pilgrimage, who carries an audio file taken from a destroyed geth proving Saren attacked Eden Prime. Saren bribes one of the Shadow Broker's contacts, Fist, to ensure the quarian would be silenced, but Shepard saves both Tali and the audio file. With the new-found evidence, the Council revokes Saren's Spectre status, but this does little to slow him down.
The Hunt for the Conduit
Accompanied by Matriarch Benezia — who tries to guide him back to the right path but instead, ends up partially indoctrinated by Sovereign — Saren continues hunting for the Conduit while building his army. He intends to breed rachni soldiers brought back to life from a queen egg found on a derelict ship, thanks to Saren's influence and investments in Binary Helix. As a bonus, the Rachni Queen holds genetic knowledge of the Mu Relay's location, which Benezia forcibly extracts from the rachni's mind. Saren believes the Mu Relay will lead him to the Conduit.
On Feros, Saren sacrifices a powerful ally, Shiala, to the Thorian to gain the knowledge of the Cipher. This will allow him to comprehend the Prothean vision, but it is still incomplete. Fearing that Shepard might also gain the Cipher, Saren orders his geth forces to destroy the Thorian to cover his tracks.
Most significantly, he finds a cure for the genophage that will allow him to breed and control an army of krogan. Alongside the geth, Saren believes he will soon have an unstoppable force to carry out Sovereign's will.
However, Saren becomes gradually more concerned about the power of Sovereign's indoctrination, scared that it might be affecting him. At his research base on the remote tropical world of Virmire, which houses his krogan breeding facility, Saren adds a major lab complex to study the effects of indoctrination. He recruits scientists, such as Rana Thanoptis, and orders experiments to be performed on the salarians that his forces captured from a recon and espionage team.
From the research, Saren discovers that the more control Sovereign exerted over an individual, the less capable they became. As long as Sovereign saw Saren as a useful resource, Saren believes his mind would still be his own. Saren convinces himself Sovereign needed him to find the Conduit and that the Reaper would offer him a reprieve in return. Nevertheless, he grows afraid of indoctrination, suspecting that Sovereign might be manipulating his thoughts.
After being hunted across several worlds, Saren finally meets Shepard face-to-face on Virmire. During the battle, Saren tries to recruit Shepard to his cause. The Commander tells Saren that he is indoctrinated, and that Sovereign is manipulating him so subtly he does not realise what was happening to him. Saren denies these accusations and escapes, narrowly escaping the nuclear blast that destroys the complex.
But Shepard's words breed doubt in Saren's mind. Sovereign sees his conviction beginning to falter and implants Saren, making him cybernetic and completely devoted to the Reapers' cause. Saren thinks of himself as "the future", a true cyborg, a fusion of both organics and technology, comprising "the strengths of both, the weaknesses of neither."
The next confrontation between Shepard and Saren occurs on the lost Prothean world of Ilos, where the Conduit is hidden. While Shepard is delayed by the Council, which believes a blockade would stop Saren from attacking the Citadel, Saren is able to reach Ilos first. The activated Conduit allows Saren to travel to the Citadel, bypassing its external defenses, while Sovereign and a geth fleet assault the Citadel from the outside. After killing the operators of Citadel Control, Saren makes his way toward the Citadel's master control unit, intending to transfer control of the Citadel to Sovereign to activate the latent mass relay, paving the way for the rest of the Reapers to enter through from dark space. Saren is interrupted, however, when Shepard and the Ilos ground team rush in, following Saren through the Conduit.
Shepard can convince Saren that, indoctrinated or not, he still has a way to stop Sovereign. Saren commits suicide by shooting himself in the head, to prevent himself from opening the Citadel relay, but not before muttering, "Goodbye, Shepard. Thank you." Otherwise, Shepard is forced to battle Saren atop the Council platform. At the end of the combat, Saren falls through the glass floor of the Council Chambers and is fatally impaled by a large glass shard. Shepard's team assures Saren's death by shooting the rogue Spectre in the head. Sovereign, however, reanimates the misguided turian's body, burning away all of Saren's flesh, revealing the extent of the cybernetic "upgrades".
By controlling Saren's corpse and speaking in his voice, Sovereign has the turian fight one last battle. Shepard and the team manage to destroy the nightmarish construct, and Saren's synthetic remains disintegrate. The avatar's destruction corrupts the signal used by Sovereign to control Saren's body and causes it to lose control of its shields, allowing the Alliance fleet to destroy it.
Despite the victory, Shepard knows that fundamentally, Saren was right. Sooner or later the Reapers will return, and Shepard vows to find some way to stop them.
Mass Effect: Ascension
Saren's influence outlived him. Publicly, the attack on the Citadel was attributed to a rogue Spectre leading an army of geth, while Sovereign's true nature remained classified.
But even this was enough to attract the interest of the quarians. They begin digging into Saren's personal history, looking for any clue as to how he had managed to supposedly control the geth. They even contact Kahlee Sanders, who only met Saren briefly in 2165. After word begins to leak suggesting that Saren used a Reaper to override the geth's intelligence systems, the quarians begin to wonder if it is possible for them to find another Reaper and do the same. However, to the galaxy at large, Saren's legacy remains that of a traitor.
Mass Effect 2
In 2185, the Council is unwilling to acknowledge the truth of the Reaper threat, insisting that Saren swayed the geth to his will by his supposed diplomatic talent and using him as a scapegoat to continue denying the Reapers' existence.
For Kasumi Goto's loyalty mission, a golden statue of Saren is forged and given to Donovan Hock upon arrival at his party as a gift. However, it is merely a Trojan Horse of sorts, as it conceals Shepard's weapons and armor for infiltrating Hock's estate. Shepard, however, stares uncomfortably at the statue on occasion, remembering the turian whom it represents.
- According to The Art of Mass Effect:
- Saren's left arm is actually a grafted geth arm.
- The platform that Saren rides when being fought was originally intended to be used by geth troopers 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.
- Saren's armor can be purchased for male Xbox Live Avatars, for US $3.99.
- Fred Tatasciore, who voices Saren Arterius, Balak and Warden Kuril, also provided the voices for The Grand Oak, Swiftrunner, and Cyrion in BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins and Captain Ing, Captain Sen, and Iron Soldier in Jade Empire.
- Karpyshyn. D: Chapter 19, Page 278. Mass Effect: Revelation. Orbit Books, 2007.