Disclaimer: I couldn’t think of a way to do this in-canon in any real way, so it’s kind of an AU style “what if?” kind of variation.
Benezia slumped against the tank of the Rachni Queen, completely spent and badly injured. She looked up at her young daughter and the woman who had bested her who stood beside her. Both looked concerned and sympathetic despite the fact she had tried to kill them, especially the former.
“I cannot go on,” Benezia said as her head sagged down. “You will have to stop him, Shepard.”
The matriarch struggled to her feet and looked the human woman in the eyes.
“Hold on!” Shepard said urgently. “We’ve got medi-gel, maybe we can-“
“No!” Benezia interrupted. “He is still in my mind. I am not entirely myself. I never will be again.”
Tears came to Benezia’s eyes as she stumbled backwards. Liara’s welled up as well. “Mother!” Liara said urgently just as Benezia’s back made contact with the Queen’s tank once more.
“Good night, Little Wing,” Benezia cried to her daughter. “I will see you again with the dawn.”
“No!” Liara yelled, and her body pulsed with blue light. Benezia glowed and shimmered, freezing in place. Before Shepard knew what was happening Liara had stolen a pack of medi-gel, run forwards and flashed her omni-tool over her mother’s frozen form.
“Liara! What are you doing?”
“I can still save her, Shepard! I won’t let her die now!” Liara said with conviction.
“Would she want this, Liara?” Shepard asked softly. “She said the indoctrination was too strong and that she’d never be the same.”
“There might be a way. I’m not sure, it’s just a theory I have. But I’ll need to get her to med-bay on the Normandy fast.”
Shepard looked at Liara sideways, her face etched with skepticism. They hadn’t spent long together, but they had definitely grown close. Very close. Close enough for Shepard to know that look of determination on Liara’s face and how strong it was. The Commander finally sighed gruffly in defeat and nodded. “You and Wrex back to the Mako with her,” she ordered. “I will finish up here and met you at the vehicle as soon as I can.”
A few hours later, after a direct encounter with The Rachni Queen and activating a neutron purge, Shepard found Liara in the med-bay with Dr. Chakwas and her mother. Benezia was restrained on a medical bed and appeared to be sleeping. The two figures regarding her looked at what looked like some kind of scan of Benezia’s brain activity from what Shepard could tell. “What’s going on, Doctor?” Shepard inquired.
“She received some serious injuries from your little scuffle on Noveria, but she’s stable now,” Chakwas said. “The main concern of course is the indoctrination. Judging from these scans it’s pretty deeply set, and I would tend to agree with what Benezia had said about her recovery, or lack thereof. Liara here seems to think otherwise.”
“You said you thought there was a way,” Shepard said to Liara with a frown. “After seeing this do you still believe that?”
“I don’t know,” Liara admitted. “But I have to try. It’s either this or death for her. I already lost her to Saren, I don’t want to lose her entirely.”
“Are you willing to do what is needed if it doesn’t work?”
Shepard had a hard look and tone, and as much as the question and the way it was delivered hurt Liara she understood. Shepard couldn’t risk the ship, the crew and the mission if worst came to worst. Deep down she knew that her mother may end up dying at her own hand if it all came crashing down. It still took her a while to answer as her gaze fell both somewhere and nowhere. “Yes. I am.”
Shepard gave her a satisfied nod and then turned to Chakwas again. “Will those restraints hold her if the full force of the indoctrination kicks in?”
“I can’t honestly say. She’s a very powerful biotic, but she is still in a weakened state and the sedation will also be dulling her biotic potential. I still wouldn’t leave her alone without supervision and a gun or two nearby istanbul rus escort in any case.”
“Okay, so what’s this theory of yours then, Liara?” Shepard asked curiously.
“It’s based on a practice that’s sometimes worked with asari who have memory loss or certain mental illnesses. Basically, some asari suffering such afflictions have been cured when another asari close to them has linked minds, just like Shiala and I did with you after your visions. Over time they gradually get rid of whatever is afflicting them and gain more of their true selves. By connecting with somebody who they know and love they have managed to piece together their memories again and return to who they are.”
Liara sighed and looked at her mother sadly. “I just don’t know if it’ll work with Saren’s indoctrination. We have no idea what we’re dealing with here. It may be so deep I can’t reach her. She could be right, and she may never be the same again.”
“Will this put you in any danger?” Shepard asked with serious concern.
“Only if she has a violent outburst or something. It will be tiring and I’ll need her to cooperate if it’s going to work. If she can resist it like she did briefly on Noveria then it should be fine, and there’s probably little point in trying if she’s not really herself anyway. We’ll both need to fight this together, from both sides.”
“How long until she’s awake?”
“A few hours,” Chakwas responded to Shepard, “but I could give her a mild stimulant to make her conscious now. Hopefully not too much so.”
Shepard had her sidearm at the ready as Benezia’s eyes fluttered open. At first she seemed dazed and confused, but soon her eyes caught the sight of Liara standing before her and she smiled.
“Liara? What is– what is happening? Where am I?”
“You’re on the Normandy, mother, it’s Shepard’s ship. We gave you medi-gel and brought you here. Everything is going to be all right, we’re going to help you.”
Benezia shook her head. The stretcher she was on had been raised up almost completely vertically with the restraints on her wrists, ankles and around her body holding her in place.
“You shouldn’t have brought me here, Liara,” Benezia uttered with regret. “You shouldn’t– have–“
Liara jumped as Benezia’s features twisted and her mother gave her a cold, angry glare.
“You only ensure your destruction! With every passing moment you only come closer to the inevitable.”
“Mother, please!” Liara pleaded. “You have to fight it!”
“You waste your breath,” Benezia almost spat. “Nothing you can do to me will change anything. Sovereign’s victory is assured.”
Benezia’s body began to shimmer prompting Chakwas to lunge forward at the machine she stood near. “Decreasing the stimulant, administering more sedative,” the doctor announced.
“Not too much!” Liara barked as if it were an order.
“You cannot control me!” Benezia sneered, but her glowing faded. “You cannot–“
The matriarch’s eyes fluttered again, and she looked as if she was going to pass out again. “Mother!” Liara called urgently, and it seemed to stir her a little more.
“Liara? I think I can– can suppress it.”
“Fight it, mother. Just for a little longer. Open your mind to me.”
“I’m not sure– I can, Liara,” Benezia answered, and she sounded exhausted. “If I open my mind, Saren might claw his way back in.”
“Just for a moment. I just need a window.”
“I’ll try,” Benezia said as if she were defeated. Liara smiled. “Good,” she said.
Benezia breathed in and out deeply a few times as Liara closed her eyes and bowed her head. Both Shepard and Chakwas noticed that the very moment that Benezia’s brow twitched slightly a moment later was the same moment Liara’s head flicked up and her eyes opened to reveal two black spheres. Benezia’s eyes slowly opened too shortly afterwards and appeared to be the same as her daughters. A smile came across the older asari’s eyes.
“Liara,” she said. “It’s kadıköy escort good to have you in here instead of Saren. It’s like visiting a warm beach after years on a world of ice.”
“Mother, you have to listen to me,” Liara instructed, seemingly ignoring her mother’s touching comment. “I can help you, but I need you to help fight this too. Things may seem alright now, but we may not be able to keep it up long.”
“I understand,” Benezia said, her smile disappearing. “Tell me what to do.”
“I need you to think back with me. Think back to times we’ve shared before Saren. Happy times. Times that defined you and made you who you are. Try to think of them as a drell would if you can.”
“Okay,” Benezia said.
Shepard and Chakwas looked on and the doctor turned to the Commander. “I think this may work after all,” she said with hope.
“I don’t know,” Shepard frowned. “I’ve learned from experiences in the past not to get overconfident in matters like this. Give it time. Hopefully you’re right, but don’t count on it.”
“Ever the pessimist,” Chakwas half-joked.
“That’s just what an optimist calls a realist,” Shepard said back, but she gave the doctor a small smirk just afterwards. Still, she had to admit, things were looking good. At least for the moment.
Shepard had been right to be skeptical though. While the two had started off talking pleasantly and even laughing a few times, it was only a couple of minutes before Benezia began to feel a strain. It was less than half of that before the connection between her and Liara was broken and she made a violent outburst that was only saved from being fatal to her daughter due to the restraints and Chakwas being fast with the sedative. Despite the situation, Liara seemed strangely positive.
“It’s early days yet, Shepard,” Liara told the Commander. “This will take time and patience. With luck, it can only get easier from here.”
The young asari doctor suggested that they try it again the next day, but as Liara brushed past her Shepard could tell that despite her confidence the experience had both shaken and hurt her. It must not be easy for her to see her mother like this.
The next week or so was a rollercoaster of highs and lows, both related to Benezia’s condition or not. While Liara, Shepard and Chakwas tried to help the matriarch when they could at least a few times a day Shepard still had a mission to do and her attention had to be there before anywhere else.
The next place they had gone was Virmire, where tensions grew between Shepard and Wrex over a krogan cloning facility of Saren’s that almost had the two allies shooting each other. Beyond that Shepard had also come face to face not only with Saren himself, but also with his ship Sovereign, where she had learned he wasn’t just a ship but an actual Reaper. Both had managed to escape Shepard’s clutches, but she had at least managed to destroy their krogan cloning labs with a nuclear device. Unfortunately Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams was also lost while defending said device, and the loss had hit the rest of the crew hard, particularly Kaidan Alenko and Shepard herself. Upon returning to The Normandy Liara had discovered that Saren and Sovereign’s presence had also taken a toll on Benezia, who had apparently woken up and almost broke free of her restraints. All in all the couple of days The Normandy had been at Virmire had been a series of events most of the crew wished to never repeat.
On the positive side, the vision Shepard received from a beacon on the planet had revealed the final piece of the puzzle they all needed: the planet Ilos. That’s where they had to go, but not before returning to the Citadel first. While in transit to the relay Liara had another go at getting through to her mother, but ended up once again dealing with the monster her mother had become in the end. Shepard couldn’t help but notice that Liara seemed particularly defeated this time, but she had chalked that up to stress given recent events. kartal escort At least until a few days later.
The Normandy and her crew returned to the Citadel as planned, but the Council wouldn’t listen to Shepard’s pleas and the entire ship was put on lockdown. They were stuck while Saren and Sovereign had free passage to the Conduit, and with Shepard angry and distracted by these events Liara’s focus briefly shifted to the human woman who had become more than just a friend to her during their time together. She loved Shepard, and that made what she wanted to suggest to the Commander harder than it otherwise would have been, but for the moment it could wait. Eventually, thanks to the help of an Alliance officer who Shepard once served under, Shepard managed to steal The Normandy back and escape the Citadel. With that small victory and a chance of hope and yet also a possibility of death and failure, Liara decided to tell Shepard what was on her mind.
“I was just thinking about you,” Shepard said as Liara walked into her quarters.
“I’ve been thinking about you too, and what we are about to face,” Liara said. “But I have also been thinking about Benezia, and her chances of recovery.”
“You don’t think you can get through, do you?” Shepard said sympathetically.
“It’s not quite that,” Liara said. “There’s still a chance, but it may require some– some extreme measures.”
“How do you mean? Could she die?” Shepard asked and then hesitated. “Could you die?”
“No, it’s nothing like that. It’s rather complicated. Or more accurately, has complications. And implications. I’m not sure if I can or should do what could very well be necessary to save her.”
“Liara, just tell me,” Shepard said a manner both stern and comforting. “You know I’m always here for you.”
“Okay,” Liara said and she let out a deep breath. “To sum things up, I don’t think I can get through to her like I have been, it’s just not enough. I need to go deeper, I need to make a stronger bond and meld with her.”
“Why is that a problem?”
“I don’t think you understand, Shepard. What I’m saying is that I think I’ll need to a full meld with her, as deep as possible. It would be extremely personal and intimate. As much as two people can be.”
“Wait a minute– Are you saying that you’d essentially be– be mating with her?”
“I’m afraid so,” Liara said, her head hanging in shame. “That’s why I’m so conflicted, Shepard. She is my mother. In almost every culture to mate with somebody so closely related to you is a strong taboo, and with the asari it is no exception. In some ways it is even more forbidden for us. Mating within our own species is almost considered heresy in modern asari culture, but to water down our genetic diversity even more like that would be considered ten times as bad. And on top of it all, there’s you. I have grown very close to you during the time we have spent together, and I don’t want this to ruin it for us.”
“Are you sure there’s no other way? Couldn’t another asari do it?” Shepard asked with a strained voice.
“No. Not unless it was somebody Benezia was already very close to,” Liara said with regret. “A complete stranger melding that deeply would have even less effect than the standard melding I’ve done with her up until this point. If we knew somebody who had been close, like a former mate, perhaps. But we can’t afford to delay the mission to stop Saren either. Time is of the essence, for both our mission and for Benezia.”
“Do you think you can do it?” Shepard asked. “I mean, do you think you’ll be capable of going through with it?”
“I think so,” Liara said. “I’m not sure. As I told you before, when asari join in such an intimate manner the connection is primarily mental. I should be able to avoid any physical contact in the process. Not that that will change what I’m doing much. I’ve never actually done this before though, and I wanted– I wanted my first time to be with you.”
Shepard smiled and stroked Liara’s cheek.
“I love you, Liara. I will always be here for you and support whatever decision you make.”
“We must keep this just between us, Shepard. Nobody else can know, not even Dr. Chakwas.”
“I understand,” Shepard said.
“Okay then,” Liara said and she breathed in and steeled herself. “Let’s go. Before I change my mind.”