The Virtual Aliens are a race of about one billion individuals who “downloaded” their consciousnesses into a virtual world aboard a starship long ago to avoid extinction. “Virtual Aliens” aren’t their official name, obviously. That’s just how they’re referred to in the Cerberus Daily News. No actual name for their species is given.
About 8,000 years prior to the events of Mass Effect, the Virtual Aliens faced an imminent crisis. Their home star was about to go supernova, and they needed a way to save themselves. Instead of accepting their fate, they built an incredibly large starship, and a large network of super computers. One billion of them got onto the ship, left their homeworld, and transferred their consciousnesses into the computers, which contained their own virtual world for them to live in until further notice. They had built an AI to pilot the ship and to maintain their virtual world, and so it did its job. For 8,000 years.
Discovery by the Citadel Races:
In 2185 (during/after the events of Mass Effect 2), their starship entered salarian space, in the Antillin system. The starship’s pilot AI was seeking help. The ship’s energy source was dying. However, the salarians thought it was something completely different. Because of the strong AI signatures, it was assumed to be the vanguard of a Geth attack. After further study, however, this was found out to not be the case. Human exobiologist Dr. Jordan Detweiler was the first to board the ship and make contact. He communicated with the AI, and learned about the energy crisis. Detweiler came forward to the Citadel Council to tell them that they needed help, but naturally, the Council realized that this AI could pose a threat (since AI are considered very dangerous in Council space), and decided to rule against aiding the ship, thus putting the lives of the Virtual Aliens at risk. Alarmed, Detweiler returned to the ship and actually entered the virtual world in order to warn the aliens. He returned with an offer from the aliens themselves: they would trade their advanced technology in exchange for assistance. A veil of secrecy was immediately erected, and everything involving the aliens became completely top-secret.
Where They Stand Now:
One month later, rumors began to surface that Jordan Detweiler had been spotted on the Citadel, which was especially strange because no one had seen him in the previous month. he had been on top-secret business with the Virtual Aliens situation, and hadn’t been seen since. His daughter, Kyra, traveled to the Citadel and demanded a meeting with her father. Before this meeting, she was made to sign a confidentiality agreement, making it illegal to publicly speak about the meeting with her father. While she did sign it, that didn’t stop her from coming out about it. She stated that her father was seemingly in danger, and that he wasn’t acting like himself, at all. She even stated that he had no idea who she was. Everyone was suspecting that he was experiencing some sort of deteriorating medical condition. In response to these allegations by Kyra Detweiler, a Council spokesperson had to come forward and tell the truth. It was revealed that, while that was Jordan Detweiler’s body, it was not actually him. He was currently spending time in the Virtual Aliens’ virtual world, and had traded bodies with one of the individuals from inside the virtual world. They had basically put her consciousness inside of Detweiler’s body. This individual’s name was Sygan, and she was to be the ambassador to the Citadel Council. However, she realized that she actually wished for her race to be exiled by the Council. Her race had been sheltered so long from the pains of the physical world, that they realized that they actually preferred life inside of their virtual world, and wished to stay.
In the final Cerberus News update concerning the Virtual Aliens, they had come to an agreement. Dr. Detweiler would be allowed to return to his body, while Ambassador Sygan would be able to be put into another body in order to maintain contact with the Citadel Council. She would act as the permanent voice of her species with the Council. They asked for volunteers among the Citadel races for anyone willing to “swap bodies” with the Virtual Aliens. Some 400 individuals came forward, completely willing to be put into the virtual world, and to swap bodies with the virtual aliens. One salarian stated “I’m doing it because I’m tired of our universe. It’s a mess.” And this is where they stand now.
Hopefully there will be more insight into the Virtual Aliens in Mass Effect 3!