A/N A reminder that affectionate terms for Asari parents are Asam (birth parent and occasionally used for very strong co-parent/child relationships also), Yasam (co-parent non DNA contributor), Rasam (DNA donor non co-parent)

Sita-kamala is an Asari endearment which roughly translates to purest love, beloved and indicates strong often lifelong love (only ever used by and for Asari relationships)

The name Benezia when spoken in Asari sounds like Ven-ehsh-he-ah (the Asari language has tonal qualities)

The Mansion, Thessia

Liara was making her way to the medical centre located in one of the ground floor wings of the large house.

Less than an hour earlier she had landed at her private residence where she had barely stayed long enough to pick up her son and leave instructions for the incoming supplies.

She wanted to see her father who was still under medical care and in bed which told her how badly hurt Aethyta must be. The similarity between the old commando and her bondmate in some things was uncanny and that included their refusal to be kept in a med bay despite the severity of any injuries they may have incurred.

Liara had said her goodbyes to Shepard’s mother who on landing had headed to her own shuttle to head back to her duties. Liara had grown very fond of Hannah Shepard and they were developing a strong relationship independent of their shared love for Shepard junior.

Hannah Shepard had given Liara a very warm parting hug and they had agreed to keep in touch regularly.

Her farewell with Aria had been a much stranger affair. There was no time to think about it now though as she had reached the entrance to the medical centre. Her two estate personal body guards stayed at the main doors and would stop anyone else coming in.

Liara still felt very uncomfortable with the amount of staff that now surrounded her and the commando guard that was never far away felt the strangest of all.

The doctor met her before she went into Aethyta’s private room.

“Lady Liara,” the healer said, “Matriarch T’Arani was very seriously injured by the blast and suffered extensive internal injuries. She is still not completely out of danger although I’m confident the worst is over.”

The Asari Doctors face and tone were serious and Liara was grateful for the honest appraisal of her father’s condition.

Liara nodded and then entered Aethyta’s room and tried not to show the shock she experienced when she saw how ill her normally robust father looked.

Aethyta’s eyes flickered open and she smiled, “ah now don’t be mad at Shepard for not telling you I got a bit beaten up,” the usually powerful gruff voice sounded strained and thin.

Liara tried her best to keep the tears from her eyes and wanted to keep the mood light but her will failed her.

“Oh Goddess I nearly lost you,” Liara said tears on her cheeks and her voice breaking, “I could not bear to lose you so soon after getting you back.”

“Aw come on little wing, I’m not going anywhere,” Aethyta said squeezing the hand that had slipped into her own.

“Baby suits you,” Aethyta continued looking at the sleeping figure nestling in the young Asari’s arm, “did I tell you how proud of you I am.”

“You always make me feel cherished Asan,” she used the affectionate term and kissed the back of her father’s hand.

“Well do something for me would you?” Aethyta said her voice a little stronger.

“Anything,” Liara said eyes now dry but still holding tight to the old commando’s hand.

“In the name of Athame’s tits tell me about the fight,” her father said, “I’m bored out of my wits and I’d kill for a drink if I wasn’t as week as a varren pup.”

Liara smiled and settled in to give the story its full due more than happy to be able to amuse and entertain her father who had nearly died protecting everyone she loved.

By the time Shepard got to the CIC, helmet in hand, they had jumped to FTL. With the speed they needed to land the shuttle it had hit the deck hard and slammed forward into the maintenance area. Everyone on the deck had kept clear as they knew the away team were coming in hot.

“Nice flying Joker,” Shepard said recognising that until they jumped out he had been avoiding taking hits from the Collector plasma beam, “status Edi?”

“Systems are secure they did not breach Normandy safety wire firewalls although the attack was a critical threat and reached a margin of 92% success before I was able to purge it,” Edi was her usual controlled self but during the virus attack she had sounded stressed.

“Did you manage to mine data from their systems when you pushed back and took control of some of their systems?” Shepard asked remembering the dire situation on the ship when it sprang its trap.

If Edi had not managed to defeat the attack on the Normandy and take control of some of the Collector ships functions she and her team would never had gotten off the ship.

“Yes Shepard we now know how to breach the Omega four relay and I am confident I also have the location of the Collector base.”

“Good we’ll have a tactical briefing in two hours,” Shepard said starting to study some of the data they had captured, “but first I am going to speak to Harper.”

Shepard’s tone dropped to a growl and leaving her helmet at the tactical station she had been using she made her way to the comms room.

The QEC fired up and before her eyes digital blocks swirled into shape and behind his usual stunning backdrop of a dwarf red star sat The Illusive Man as he had styled himself.

But for Shepard he was just one of the most successful terrorists that humanity had given birth to and that humanity was now inflicting on the rest of the Galactic community.

“Ah Shepard I see the mission was successful and the data from the ship looks interesting,” he said taking a break to pull on the cigarette that threw wisps of smoke around his face.

Despite the fact he was only a collection of digital imagery and light years away Shepard stepped forward and punched an accusing finger at the seated figure.

“You fucking bastard it was a trap and you knew it was a trap,” she said her voice edged with fury and hard as steel, “if you just want me dead Harper if you now regret bringing me back as I’m not going to be your puppet why don’t we meet and you can do it yourself?”

“Shepard at some point you will trust me when I say I didn’t want to bring back a copy or a puppet. Humanity needs you its greatest soldier and hero

Chapter 58