The Systems Alliance is the representative body of Earth and all human colonies in Citadel space. Backed by Earth's most powerful nations, the Alliance has become humanity's military, exploratory, and economic spearhead. While the Alliance is relatively new to the galactic community, it has already made a name for itself, gaining humans an embassy on the Presidium. The Alliance is governed by a parliament based at Arcturus Station, which also serves as the Alliance's capital.
In 2148, a mining team on Mars made perhaps humanity's greatest discovery. After investigating the "Bermuda Triangle-like" reputation of the southern pole, the team unearthed the subterranean ruins of an ancient alien research station, revealing incontrovertible proof of the existence of alien life. Humanity was no longer alone in the universe.
The impact was profound in all areas of human culture, but nowhere more so than religion. New beliefs sprang up overnight such as the Interventionary Evolutionists, who zealously proclaimed the discovery as proof that all human history had been directed and controlled by alien forces. Even established religions struggled to explain extraterrestrial life. Some tried to incorporate this new-found knowledge into their dogma, some remained silent, while a few tried to stubbornly deny the evidence found on Mars.
The news of the discovery dominated the media and raised questions not only about the existence and purpose of humanity, but questions about the aliens themselves. Foremost, were they still out there? While these questions had served to fracture most religions they had a unifying effect in politics. Rather than nations fighting each other over their differences, it was now "us vs. them" and the foundations of a united human front were laid.
Within a year of the discovery, Earth's eighteen largest nations had drafted and ratified the Systems Alliance charter, establishing a representative political body to expand and defend human territory. Shortly thereafter, the various nations of Earth pooled their military resources to create the Systems Alliance Military. The same year, 2149, the Alliance discovered the Sol system's mass relay orbiting Pluto, previously thought to be a moon, Charon. The Charon Relay propelled them into space and the reach of humanity grew quickly.
First Contact War
The Alliance began a rapid campaign of expansion, establishing numerous colonies and constructing a large fleet, even though it had yet to encounter another species. Maintaining this expansion policy, the Alliance activated all the mass relays it could find to seek out new resources and possible colonies. But despite this success, the Systems Alliance was not considered a serious political body, as it was considered to lack the authority of individual nations.
Eight years later, humanity made first contact with another alien species and everything changed. A scout fleet consisting of three frigates and two cargo vessels, trying to activate a mass relay, encountered a turian patrol fleet. Activating a dormant mass relay without knowing where it led had been declared illegal by the Council, though the humans did not know this. Only one of the human ships made it back to Shanxi colony, which was subsequently discovered by the turians and invaded. While individual governments remained unsure on what action should be taken, the Alliance took control and attacked the turians.
The resulting First Contact War was relatively short and bloodless, lasting only months and costing 623 human lives (with a slightly higher number of turian casualties). The Citadel Council intervened and negotiated a peace. With the discovery of the Citadel and the greater community, humanity leaped onto the galactic stage. The Alliance received a surge of popularity, which gave it the necessary political credibility to establish its own Parliament and speak for humanity as a whole.
Since then, the Alliance has continued its expansion, with the resource wealth of a dozen settled colonies and hundreds of industrial outposts flowing back to Earth. This expansion brought the Alliance into conflict with the batarians as both species rushed to settle the Skyllian Verge, while maintaining a careful truce with the turians. The Alliance has also been granted an embassy on the Citadel. It has been speculated, given humanity's remarkably fast rise in terms of military, political, and economic power, that the Systems Alliance may soon be invited to join the Citadel Council. This has been a source of some concern to several other species.
Humans have expanded rapidly from Earth in a very short period of time, becoming swiftly integrated into Citadel society and the galactic economy. They have become less ethnically diverse in the twenty-second century, due to a more multicultural society and greater unity between nations. Improved medical advances and gene therapy have led to longer, healthier lifespans; the average citizen can now expect to live to around 130. Most humans retain their native tongue, but learn alien languages or trade pidgin for the sake of convenience or as a gesture of unity.
One of the lasting consequences of the First Contact War was the interruption of a period of relative peace in the galaxy. Fairly or unfairly, humans are often thought of as aggressors, and are sometimes portrayed as a disruptive influence by non-human media. At the same time, other races recognise humans as an adaptable, intelligent and militarily capable race.
In the 2160s, the Alliance's ambassador on the Citadel, Anita Goyle, tried to induct a human into the Spectres as a first step toward a seat on the Council. Lieutenant David Anderson was selected as a candidate for the position due to his exemplary military service. But Anderson's observer, Saren Arterius, sabotaged his mission and falsified a report to the Council on what happened.
The Alliance cooperated with the turians to create a new stealth frigate, the SSV Normandy. The Normandy was commissioned in 2183 with Anderson as her captain. A Spectre, Nihlus Kryik, was assigned to the Normandy's shakedown run, supposedly to observe, though his true purpose was to recover a Prothean Beacon from Eden Prime.
In the Paragon ending of Mass Effect, the Systems Alliance Fifth Fleet is told to assist the Destiny Ascension and later focus on Sovereign, the Reaper. Once Sovereign is destroyed, humanity is judged to have shown itself worthy and receives a Council seat. However, in one of the Renegade endings, the destruction of most of the Citadel Fleet during the attack on the Citadel puts the Systems Alliance in a position of unexpected military superiority, giving them leverage over the other Citadel species. Either way, the galaxy would look to humanity to lead them against the Reaper threat.
Partly as a result of humanity's prominent new role in the politics of Citadel space, the Alliance has headed a coalition force to systematically hunt down pockets of geth resistance. Political experts from all species have been debating what humanity's ascendancy means for Citadel space. The two candidates for human Council chairman—Donnel Udina and David Anderson—are still being selected.
Mass Effect 2
Sometime after the attack on the Citadel, the Normandy is destroyed by a Collector cruiser and Shepard was declared dead. Because of this, the Alliance came hammering down on the Commander's talk about the Reapers and tried covering it up.
By 2185, the Alliance is still having trouble adjusting to its higher standing in interstellar policy. However, the Alliance was unaware of the Collectors abducting entire human colonies in remote locations. When they started catching on, the Alliance first suspected that Cerberus was behind the abductions. The Alliance began taking actions to prevent another attack, starting by installing anti-air turrets on Horizon, officially to "improve" relations with independent colonies. Depending on the player's choice in Mass Effect, an Alliance soldier, either Kaidan Alenko or Ashley Williams, is sent to Horizon. Officially, the soldier's presence there was to assist in the calibration of the new weapons systems. However, the soldier's true purpose was to investigate the disappearances, and determine whether or not Cerberus was truly behind the attacks.
If the Council is saved in the first game, a news report will reveal that the turians and Systems Alliance are moving closer to becoming peacekeeping partners patrolling hostile territory cooperatively. The codex will also reveal that the Hierarchy has been moving to have closer ties with humanity as well as humanity earning deep trust and respect for saving the Council. Conversely, if the Council is sacrificed and solely replaced by humans, the Hierarchy reveals it won't be respecting the Treaty of Farixen dreadnought limits and that the Asari Republics have ceded their defense portions to the turians. The human Council doesn't comment upon this. Aliens are also deeply resentful of humanity taking over the Council and want to return to the status quo according to Avina.
Mass Effect 3
If Arrival is completed, the Alliance detain Shepard for the destruction of the Bahak system and its approximately 300,000 colonists, though the Defense Committee refrains from court-martialing the Commander, considering Shepard's knowledge of the Reapers.
By 2186 CE, the Alliance became aware that the Reapers were making an incursion into their space. While Admiral Hackett began mobilizing the fleets, the Defense Committee consulted Shepard for advice on how to deal with the threat. Unfortunately, the Reapers plowed through the Alliance's defenses and conquered Earth within a matter of hours, as well as destroying Arcturus Station, taking with it Alliance leadership. The Alliance was forced to abandon Earth before returning with a combined allied fleet to retake it.
- Main article: Codex/Humanity and the Systems Alliance#Timeline
The Alliance is responsible for the governance and defense of all extra-solar human colonies, and represents humanity on the galactic stage. It is a supranational government, and is based on a parliamentary system, with the Alliance Parliament based at Arcturus Station. It is unknown if the representation is based on the population of member nations on Earth and the colonies, or if all nations and colonies involved receive the same amount of parliamentary members.
The Alliance government is headed by a Prime Minister; as of 2186 this position was occupied by Amul Shastri. It is unknown whether the Prime Minister is an elected member of Parliament, or is appointed to the position. While the Alliance is a supranational government, the member nations retain their individual sovereignty back on Earth.
Among the Citadel races, the Alliance is considered a sovereign nation and no other species has right of oversight into Alliance affairs.
- See also: Codex: Alliance Military Ranks.
The Alliance military is respected by the Citadel races for its novel tactics and technology (and not least for the fact the First Contact War had more turian than human casualties). Their strength lies in fire support, flexibility, and speed. The Council regards the Alliance as a "sleeping giant" as only 3% of humans volunteer for military service. They make up for low numbers with sophisticated technical support (VIs, drones, artillery, electronic warfare) and emphasis on mobility and individual initiative. Their military doctrine is not based on absorbing and dishing out heavy shocks like the turians and krogan. Rather, they bypass enemy strong points and launch deep into their rear, cutting supply lines and logistics, destroying headquarters and support units, leaving enemies to 'wither on the vine'.
On defense, the Alliance military lives by Sun Tzu's maxim, "He who tries to defend everything defends nothing." Only token garrisons are placed on their colonies. These are intended for scouting rather than combat, avoiding engagement to observe and report on invaders using drones. However, the Alliance stations powerful fleets at mass relay nexuses so that in the event of an attack they respond with overwhelming force.
The Hahne-Kedar company and Aldrin Labs are key suppliers of the military. All soldiers receive gene therapy for improved strength and stamina. The Alliance also recruits biotics, who are trained using techniques developed at BAaT (originally run by Conatix Industries). The new L3 biotic implants are considered a significant step forward in biotic amplification.
The Alliance maintains an impressive navy consisting of over 200 vessels ranging from small hundred meter frigates to imposing kilometer long dreadnoughts and carriers. It is one of the greater forces in Citadel space and a serious rival to that of the turians, however, the Alliance is only entitled to a small number of dreadnoughts compared to the turians, a 1 to 5 ratio as of 2183, due to the Treaty of Farixen limiting their construction among the citadel races. The Alliance navy has made up for this with the innovative design and deployment of carriers, which are as large as dreadnoughts but are not restrained by the Treaty of Farixen. The fleet is headquartered at Arcturus Station, a strategically invaluable installation whose system contains several primary mass relays leading to human territory in addition to the secondary mass relay to Earth, and as such it is heavily defended by sizable naval forces.
The Alliance has quickly become a key player in the galactic economy, with several large human corporations taking their market share. The Alliance economy, though growing, does not yet come close to that of the asari or turians and is only approaching that of the elcor. The Alliance and the turians have become large trade partners despite lingering animosity over the First Contact War. Although humans have claimed many systems in the Attican Traverse and the Skyllian Verge, many of them contain rich resources which have not been fully surveyed, so the Alliance Geological Service (AGeS) offers bounties to those willing to explore these frontiers. The Alliance's various national treasuries are linked to the Citadel's credit network.
Overall, the Systems Alliance enjoys good relations with the Asari Republics and the Salarian Union, and it maintains a cold, yet relatively friendly, relationship with the Turian Hierarchy, though animosity over the First Contact War and the occupation of Shanxi remains. The fractured krogan rarely associate with the Alliance, and there is little, if any, dialogue with the quarians and their Flotilla, though they are not on bad terms. Because of Earth's colonization of the Traverse and the Skyllian Verge, humans remain the natural rivals of the batarians. Practically, the Alliance has no other allies.
In 2165 the Alliance was granted an embassy on the Citadel, electing Anita Goyle as the first human ambassador. The Alliance desires a bigger role in galactic politics, preferably even a Council seat. If they get a seat, they can use the Council's resources and political pull to protect their colonies and interests, as well as being acknowledged as one of the senior races in Citadel space. The galaxy knows it is only a matter of time before the Alliance gets a say but the ambassadors believe it should happen sooner rather than later. In 2183, the Alliance got its first human Spectre, Commander Shepard, bringing the Alliance one step closer to the Council.
However, despite Earth's good diplomatic record—aside from a small AI research scandal—the Alliance is still feared by many aliens because they hold the opinion that the Alliance is expanding too fast. The Alliance draws some distrust from humans as well. It was not taken seriously until the First Contact War proved how much humanity needed the Alliance; as Doctor Chakwas points out, the Alliance is now essential to human colonization and expansion in the Attican Traverse.
Currently, the Alliance's most notable human dissenters are supporters of Terra Firma, a political party who opposes humanity's growing integration into the galactic community. Terra Firma believes humanity needs to stand alone if they are to remain strong. The party has been getting much negative attention from both humans and aliens. The Illusive Man, on the other hand, believes that humanity should be ascendant over all other races. He sees the Alliance as nothing more than weak conformists who kneel before the Council. The Alliance is also sometimes criticized by colonists for its defensive tactics (see above). The fact colonial garrisons are meant for scouting rather than defense means that, in the event of trouble, the cavalry often only arrive once the damage has been done.
The Alliance is open to helping biotics integrate into normal human society, particularly welcoming their enlistment in the military. They now provide funding to the Ascension Project, a second-generation biotics training program, to allay any fears from the public that they are creating supersoldiers. However, some biotics, particularly L2s with severe health problems, oppose the Alliance, believing it is responsible for their suffering because of the failures in initial Alliance-sponsored biotic research. The issue of L2 reparations has created further anger and distrust.
- Arcturus Station - the massive and well-defended space station which serves as the capital of the Systems Alliance.
- Fort Charles Upham - a base on the surface of Titan where Alliance soldiers undergo Hostile Environment Assault Training.
- Gagarin Station - also known as "Jump Zero", a remote research facility on the outskirts of the Sol system.
- Jon Grissom Academy - in orbit over Elysium, this station serves as an educational facility for gifted children.
- Luna Base
- Unnamed United Kingdom base
- Unnamed Vancouver base