Love, Blood & Tears
Liara found herself awake in the early hours of the morning. She was worried about Thessia, worried about the crucible, worried about war, worried about
everything. She walked through the quiet ship; passing only a couple of night shift people along the way.
Looking down at the floor, she shuffled along to nowhere in particular when she bumped into something
someone. She looked up
"Javik," she said faintly.
"Do you make it a habit to not watch where you are walking?" he asked.
"Not usually, no," she chuckled. She knew he meant no humor in his question but she found him much more pleasant to be around if she viewed his comments that way.
"Why are you up? Can't sleep?" she asked him.
"I was asleep for fifty thousand years. I do not wish to sleep often nor do I require it," he replied. "What of you, Liara? What has you up at this hour?"
"I've got too much on my mind to sleep," she sighed.
He scanned the soft lines of her face and found himself wanting to run his fingers across her cheek. Were they as warm and soft as they looked?
He shook the thought off. What was wrong with him? Certainly he wasn't developing an unholy attachment to a primitive, was he? No, impossible.
"I'm sorry," he offered as he took a step back; fearing he would be unable to control his urge to touch her in such close proximity.
"I was headed for the lounge for a drink," she smiled warmly. "Would you care to join me, Javik?"
For some odd reason, he found his response being "yes". What was it about her that held him captive? He had no desire to find out and he berated himself as he knew that to be a lie.
Liara had a few drinks and found Javik to be a great listener. He said nothing but instead sat near her and kept eye contact as she spoke. She told him everything; her childhood with Benezia, her years spent researching protheans, meeting Shepard, stopping Saren, taking on the Shadow Broker and taking his place, and so on.
She found his stare to be intense. He could see that she was waiting for him to finally say something now that she had shared her whole life with him.
"It would have been much simpler for me to read your memories," he said.
"So why didn't you do that then?"
He could never admit it but
he enjoyed hearing her speak. He tried to think of a neutral reply but was interrupted by the feeling of Liara's hand on his thigh. He looked at her, confused.
"This could be the alcohol talking but I think maybe you like me," she giggled.
He didn't mean to, or maybe he did, but he let her read his recent memories. She saw flashes of him staring at her, flashes of her smile, her laughter, her
backside walking in front of him.
She gasped as she locked eyes with him. Her heart fluttered and she found herself speechless; a newfound quality that Javik found amusing. He said nothing; offering no explanation and instead keeping his gaze fixed upon her.
The air was thick with tension as they stared at each other. Liara did her best to think of something to say but was coming up with nothing.
thank you for listening to me," she finally stuttered out. "I should probably get to bed now."
"Sleep well, Liara," he said as he watched her get up and exit the room.
After listening to her speak that night, Javik concluded that Liara was not a primitive. A youngling? Yes. But primitive? No. The only primitive thing in that moment were the feelings Javik felt stir inside him thinking of the young asari.
Javik was sitting in the mess hall, when Shepard arrived early in the morning and fixed herself some breakfast. She sat down across from him with her bowl of oatmeal.
"Something's different about you
I sense it," Javik said as he stared at her.
"Maybe that's because this little primitive now has prothean DNA running through her," Shepard chuckled.
"What?" he asked in disbelief.
"I know, I'm hardly worthy," she snickered.
Javik stared at her harder; trying to figure out how it was possible.
"The beacon?" he inquired.
"That's what Mordin thinks - seems to be the only logical conclusion."
"That is very odd," he remarked, still puzzled.
"Does this make us blood brothers now?" Shepard teased.
Javik looked less than amused and Shepard started laughing. The laughter caused her stomach to stir again. She stared down at her oatmeal and she sighed as she twirled her spoon around in the mush. She had lost her appetite and stirring up the aroma of it all was making her stomach even more upset.
Garrus was on his way to the mess hall when he heard footsteps running up behind him
"Garrus!" Kaidan shouted. "Hey, I've been meaning to talk to you."
"Oh, about what?" Garrus inquired as he turned around to face him.
"I wanted to apologize for my behavior and
I wish you and Shepard the best. I just want to see her happy and I can see that she's very happy with you."
"Wow, thanks Kaidan," Garrus said; taken back by the apology.
"But, I'll still kick your ass if you hurt her in any way," Kaidan added with a smirk.
That's more like it.
"Understood," Garrus replied, "And I'll kick your ass if you touch my sister."
"Fair enough," Kaidan chuckled, "But I don't think it's me you have to worry about; I'd turn my focus to Vega if I were you."
"Thanks for the tip," Garrus nodded with a smirk of his own.
"So, what the hell do we know about this place?" James asked as they rode in the shuttle to Horizon's surface.
"Sanctuary is a facility devoted to aiding refugees from Reaper controlled space. Then they went offline and no communications have come or gone since," Shepard replied.
"Why would Kai Leng or Cerberus be interested in this place?" Garrus asked confused.
"I don't know but if there's a clue to Cerberus here, we'll find it."
"Ma'am, I'm picking up a signal from the facility. It's weak - I'll try to boost it," Cortez said.
"This is Oriana Lawson. Stay away from Sanctuary. It's not what it seems. Please, you must listen to me! They're using..."
"Oriana?! That's Miranda's sister! If she's here, Miranda can't be far away," Shepard said.
"Approaching the LZ," Cortez said, "Seeing some damage, Commander, but no activity."
"Alright boys, stay sharp," Shepard said as they prepared to exit the shuttle.
"Whoa, major firefight here," Vega said as he looked ahead at the entrance to the facility.
"Yeah, but who was fighting?" Garrus added.
"Let's go find out," Shepard replied.
Suddenly, a Cerberus shuttle crashed because of a Harvester attack. They took out the Cerberus troops that emerged and then entered the facility. It had obviously been under attack.
"My God, what happened here?" Shepard said.
They looked up through the ceiling windows to see Cerberus shuttles leaving. The welcome recording started playing through the wide spread facility speakers
"Welcome to Sanctuary. All arrivals are asked to submit their possessions to our sorting staff for inspection. They will be returned inside the compound. Be advised, communication devices will not function inside Sanctuary. Off world technology is not permitted. Please follow the instructions of Sanctuary staff."
They walked up to the front desk and checked the log:
Civilian processing ratios:
Adults, 60% sent to integration
Children, 85% sent to integration
Suitable candidates are being assigned to temporary living areas in alphabetical order. Family units are being preserved for ease of processing.
"Children," Shepard whispered to herself. They walked over to the reception area next and listened to the log recording:
"The amount of refugees has doubled in the last two weeks. I heard that people are just abandoning shuttles outside the main gate. They just don't have anywhere to go. We'll need to start setting up temporary shelters out there until they can be processed."
"If they had that many people
where the hell is everybody?" Vega asked.
"I've got a bad feeling about this," Shepard said as she felt her stomach tie up in knots.
They made their way further in and came across Cerberus assault troopers. They cleared them out quickly and made it into the next room. There was an active console and Shepard played the video message
This is Miranda Lawson. If you managed to get this far, you must be desperate or stupid. Listen to me. This is not a refugee camp. This is a Cerberus facility run by my father, Henry Lawson. Turn back now. There is no help to be found here - all communication is being blocked from the central tower. Sanctuary is a lie. Stay away."
"Okay. So, we've got Cerberus, Reapers, and Miranda's crazy father. Any ideas how this all fits?" Shepard asked Garrus and James; both of which stared at her with blank expressions.
"Yeah, me either," she said, "Come on, let's pick up the pace."
The further in they got, the worse Shepard's stomach felt. What was going on?
"Man, this is going to get ugly. Look, they have Reaper tech? Come on," James groaned as they entered the next room. The room after that looked to be a lab or research area of some sort.
"Whoa, this looks important. Power's out," James said.
Shepard walked over to the nearby console and activated it. All eight monitors above came online and showed video footage.
"What are we seeing here?" Garrus asked as they looked at the multiple monitors.
Cerberus staff members were putting people in these little machines
those are the refugees," Vega stuttered, "The Reapers
what are they doing? They're killing them!"
"Oh my God
," Shepard gasped, "Worse, they're being turned into husks!"
Shepard's stomach was churning as she leaned over the console; trying to gain her composure. As she took a deep breath, she noticed a large window at the end of the room. It was dark - nothing could be seen beyond that point. Shepard walked over to a console right in front of the window and pressed a button. Lights came on in the darkened room past the large window. Husks were everywhere and scurried the minute the light hit them.
Shepard stared at the window
Shepard jumped back a foot as a husk slammed itself against the window. Soon all the husks were crawling up the window.
"Let's move out," she said.
"Creating husks? Why? It doesn't make any sense," Garrus said.
They entered the next room where another video console awaited them. The last entry was Miranda's
"Reaper forces have made a mess of the facility. I'm shutting down the power to the processing plant to lock them down. Should keep them out of the entrance as well."
Before the video feed cut out
Miranda walked off and a few minutes later Kai Leng showed up on screen.
"Madre! She's going to be blindsided!" Vega said.
"Damn it! We gotta move!" Shepard said.
Shepard looked around the room
there was only one door to go through
and the sound of many husks waiting on the other side of it.
"You've got to be kidding me," she sighed, "The only way to go is through those doors
Garrus noticed her rub her armored stomach and close her eyes.
"You okay?" he asked softly as he put a hand on her shoulder.
"I'll be fine," she replied, "Let's just get on with this."
They fought their way through the husks and into the next research room. They played the first research log by Henry Lawson
"I've spent the last week making small adjustments to increase processing efficiency. There is no shortage of subjects; indeed, I am told there is a long line outside the main gate. The deception is an unfortunate necessity. Time is very short."
"Bastard," Shepard muttered as she played the next log.
"We've confirmed the results of Cerberus experiments involving the husk creatures. A crude, but necessary, first step in decoding how the Reapers communicate. The key is how the Reaper signal interacts with nanides implanted within the subject's body. It's early yet, but we are making progress."
Shepard shook her head as she logged off and they made their way to a large corridor. She heard the familiar screech of a banshee.
"Reaper forces!" Garrus shouted.
"Must be left over from the attack!" Shepard shouted back as she ran for cover. The sudden rush of movement and then crouching caused her stomach to react. She felt the urge to throw up rise into her neck and her mouth started to water.
"Garrus, rachni! Far end of the room," Vega said.
"I see 'em," he replied.
Shepard breathed deeply as she tried to suppress the nausea back down. James and Garrus took care of all enemies as she found her composure again.
"Are you alright?" James asked as he offered her a hand.
"I'm fine," she replied as she grabbed his hand and he pulled her to stand.
They walked into the next room and played another log by Henry Lawson
"The pursuit of efficiency has revealed an important fact: The Reaper's use of 'dragon teeth' to create husks is ingenious. The Reaper nanides attach themselves to the adrenalin released and quickly move through the body to speed conversion to the final husk state."
"What they did to these people
it's sick," Vega scoffed.
"Yeah, it is," Shepard replied as she played the next log.
"Doctor Nuri's legacy work with subject Paul Grayson provided a key element to our work here. Using the addictive drug "red sand" to break down the will was inspired, but proved unreliable for general application. We've proven that adrenalin, and its cross-species equivalents, is most effective and efficient."
After that, they entered the next room and another video console but the terminal was damaged.
"Hang on," Shepard said as she knelt down and opened the paneling.
"Reapers wanted the place shut down," Vega said, "Maybe we'll get some answers."
"It doesn't make sense," Garrus said.
"I know," Shepard said, "I thought Cerberus and the Reapers were getting along
"It's working, you got the video up," Garrus said.
Shepard stood back up and played the video feed. It was from Miranda.
"Heading to the tower to disable the communication scrambler. I have to get word out. Some refugees are turned into husks. Some are indoctrinated and shipped to the Illusive man. Whoever's left is used in experiments. The data indicates that my father is trying to figure out how Reaper indoctrination works."
"Tricking refuges with food and shelter only to turn them into test subjects. And for what?" Shepard seethed.
"Bait and switch. Can't believe it," Vega said.
"Well come on, Miranda said she was headed to the tower - we've gotta find her."
The fought off more Reapers forces as they moved further into the facility. Eventually, they came across another research log by Henry Lawson
"We're very close. Understanding the indoctrination process is one thing; however, turning it to our advantage is proving to be quite another. This is assembly line science. The sheer brute force of numbers and repetition is doing the thinking for us. Effective, but discovery happens at a pace."
As they went to exit the room, Shepard noticed another video terminal. It had an entry from Miranda
"Heavy resistance outside the tower! If you're receiving this, I've got evidence you can't ignore. Confirmation that my father is working for the Illusive Man."
The video feed switched to footage of Henry Lawson and the Illusive Man
"I have your report on the process, Mr. Lawson. Cut to the chase. Can you do it?"
"Theoretically, control is possible, yes. The Reaper subjects we converted are responding, but it's difficult to maintain."
"I thought that might be the case. Not to worry Henry, with Sanctuary's help, we'll get it sorted."
"Did I hear that right?" James asked. "This guy knows how to control Reaper troops?"
"I don't know. I'll play the rest," Shepard replied as she continued the footage.
"We've done it. We've found a way to co opt their control signal. As long as the Reaper troops remain in close proximity to our signal, we can maintain control indefinitely."
"Excellent news, Henry. And how could we extrapolate this technique to apply to the Reapers themselves?"
"That's a much bigger challenge."
"That explains why the Reapers attacked Sanctuary," Garrus said.
"Come on, let's move," Shepard said.
"Wait, Commander! There's more, take a look," Vega said.
The video showed Miranda running and Kai Leng right on her tail.
"Oh shit!" James said.
"Damn it! I hope she's ready for him," Shepard said, "Let's move!"
They fought through more reapers forces, room after room, as they got closer to the tower. They found another research log by Henry Lawson
"We have underestimated the strength of the Reaper signal. They are here. The Reapers somehow know what we have learned about them. They have a weakness. I'm compiling our research data to archive before it's too late. Cerberus sent troops to defend the facility against the Reapers."
The farther in they got, the bigger the enemies were. They fought through brutes and many more Reaper forces as they made their way to the elevator leading to the tower entrance. The rode up the elevator and entered the room. Miranda was sitting on the floor and Henry Lawson was holding Oriana in front of him like a shield.
"Commander Shepard, excellent timing," Henry said as he aimed his gun at her.
"Put the gun down," she replied firmly.
"No. Oriana tried to shoot me. Miranda's poisonous influence, no doubt," Henry spat.
"I'm sorry she missed. Where's Kai Leng?"
"I don't know, gone. He took my research and left us here to die."
"Miranda, can you hear me?" Shepard called to Miranda, worried.
There was no response; just grunting as Miranda got to her feet.
"That's close enough!" shouted Henry, "Both of you! Kai Leng didn't finish the job, but I will."
"This ends here," Shepard said.
"On the contrary. Now that the Reapers are taken care of, we have a way out."
"Let her go," Shepard ordered.
"Shepard, don't let him take her," Miranda said faintly.
please," Oriana cried.
"Look, I have no problem with you," Shepard said to Henry, "I just want Oriana and the research data."
"You want a lot," Henry replied.
"You get your life in return. How much is that worth?" she retorted.
"Alright, take her," he said as she shoved Oriana away from him. "But I want out alive. Deal?"
Miranda's biotics flared and she threw them at her father; causing him to fly back, crash through the window and fall to his death.
"No deal," Miranda said as she collapsed to the ground.
Shepard rushed to her side as did Oriana.
"Miranda?" Oriana cried, "Miranda, I'm sorry."
"Shhh, listen to me
listen," Miranda said weakly, "I wanted you to have a normal life. Marriage, children, things I could never have."
"He told me all about you," Oriana said with a quivering lip, "Thank you
for saving me."
"You deserve a life, Oriana. Be good," she choked out before turning to Jane. "Shepard
"I'm here," she replied.
"Before Kai Leng left, I planted a trace on him."
"A trace? You thought of everything," Shepard replied as her eyes filled up with tears.
"Not everything. Nobody's perfect, but at least Ori is safe."
"I'll keep her safe, Miranda, I promise."
"Good. I just wish I could've
" was all Miranda got out as she drew her last breath.
"Miranda?" Orianna cried.
Shepard sighed heavily and looked over at Garrus and James.
"Let's make sure everybody knows about this place," she said.
Vega nodded as he walked over to the computer and disabled the communication scrambler. With that, Miranda's warning was able to transmit clearly.
"Come on, let's get you out of here," Shepard said to Oriana.
As soon as they cleared the Normandy's airlock, Shepard bolted for the elevator.
"Is she okay?" Vega asked concerned.
"I don't know," Garrus replied as he took off after her. He didn't make it to the elevator in time and cursed under his breath as he waited for it to come back.
Vega looked at Oriana, "Well come on, we should have the doctor take a look at you and then I'll show you around the ship."
"Thank you," she replied timidly.
Shepard had rushed into her quarters, headed into the bathroom and leaned over the toilet. She barely had time to hold her hair back before the vomiting began.
What was going on? She wasn't sick. Was it stress? Had she stressed her body out so much that it physically could not take it anymore? Or was this a reaction to the prothean DNA that now coursed through her veins?
Her eyes started to water as the endless amount of stomach bile forced itself out of her. She finally got a break and heard the door swoosh open and soon after footsteps entering the bathroom.
" Garrus gasped as he saw her heaped over the toilet.
"Ugh, go away," she moaned, "I don't want you seeing me like this."
Her body tensed and she was back to vomiting. Garrus rushed to her side and held her hair back while gently rubbing her back. When she was finally done, he handed her a wet towel and helped her to her feet.
"I'm going to call Mordin," he said.
"No, don't," she weakly replied. "He'll just want to run tests and asks me a bunch of questions. I don't want to deal with that right now; I just want to sleep. If I still feel his way in the morning, I promise I'll go see Mordin, okay?"
"Fine," he sighed. He knew there was no point in trying to convince her otherwise.
He helped her to the bed and then grabbed a trash can to set down beside her. He carefully removed her armor, then his own and climbed into bed with her. He cuddled against her backside and wrapped his arm over her; careful not to touch her uneasy stomach.
Garrus laid there awake, long after Shepard had fallen asleep. He found himself too worried about her to relax. He would be of no use to her though if he didn't get his rest. He tried to think of a way to drift off. He remembered Shepard mention something once about counting sheep. He didn't know what a sheep looked like so he imagined varren instead.
Shepard was up early the next morning. She carefully slid out of bed so as not to wake her turian. She got herself dressed and headed to the mess hall to grab a cup of coffee. Her stomach still seemed very touchy but she had no intention of seeing Mordin about it. She was fine; of that she was convinced.
With coffee in hand, Shepard headed to the comm room to check in with Anderson. She took a sip of her coffee while she waited for him to appear on screen.
"Shepard. I was hoping you'd check back in again."
"Been putting my old academy training to use - organizing the resistance. You know, you've got quite a fan club back here. Any news we hear about the Normandy gives hope to the guys in the trenches."
"I know what that's like; fighting in the dark. I'm glad we're making a difference."
"It's more than that. A lot of these people have never held a gun in their life. When they heard you managed to get the turians and krogans to cooperate
that was a shot in the arm, Shepard. Of the one thing we're in short supply around here: faith that any of us will live to see another day."
"How bad is it?"
"It could be worse, but not much."
"Can you still coordinate any kind of counterattack?"
"We're hitting the Reapers every chance we get. Mostly guerilla style hit-and-runs. But it's not enough. It's time we started focusing efforts."
"London. Something big is happening there. Our networks in the UK say the Reapers have arrived in huge numbers."
"I don't like the sound of that. Any more details?"
"No, and that scares the hell out of me."
"Well, the Crucible will scare the hell out of the Reapers."
"We're counting on it."
"I've got coordinates to the Illusive Man's hideout. We'll recover the prothean VI and get the Crucible ready for the attack."
"Then I'll let you get back to it. Good luck, Shepard. Anderson out."
Shepard left the comm room and was quickly caught off guard by Liara; effectively spilling some of her coffee.
"Shepard! The asari High Command has requested help dealing with a distress signal on one of our colonies on Lesuss. We have to go! Please, I'm begging you. It's not that far away from our current coordinates - it wouldn't take much time. Please
I just can't endure the thought of more lives lost
not when we could've helped. Please
" Liara pleaded.
Shepard could see the pain in Liara's face, the pain in her words. The Mesana system was only a few short hours away - that much was true.
Shepard placed her hand on Liara's arm, "We'll go. Give Joker the coordinates. We'll head there right now."
thank you so much," Liara sighed.
"So where exactly are we headed, Liara?" Shepard asked as they rode in the shuttle.
"We're headed to an Ardat-Yakshi monastery."
"What's an Ardat-Yakshi?" Garrus asked.
"They're asari with a rare genetic disorder. When they bond, they destroy their partner's nervous system. The bonding is addictive and increases their biotic ability. They can be a significant threat. And they're an embarrassment to the asari people."
"Okay, so what's the plan?"
"If there was a chance the Ardat-Yakshi could break loose, the commandos were to purge the monastery," she said gravely.
"How much damage could these Ardat-Yakshi do?"
"The ones in this monastery took imprisonment over death. It's easy to imagine they could resent it. We are ashamed of them. Some of them kill tens of thousands over their lifetime. That's why High Command won't rest until this place is destroyed. They'd never risk a single Ardat-Yakshi getting loose," Liara explained.
before when you asked me to go on this mission, you said you couldn't endure the thought of any more lives lost," Shepard said, "You didn't mean the asari
you meant all the potential victims if these asari escape."
"Yes," Liara replied simply.
"Huh, I kinda misread that whole conversation," Shepard muttered.
"What do you mean?"
"I thought this was a mission to help people, not kill."
"Is there a problem?"
"No," Shepard sighed, "But if the asari want us to destroy this place, I need to know what happened."
"Agreed. Once we give a report to High Command, they'll stop wasting lives here."
The shuttle dropped them off right at the entrance to the facility. With each step Shepard took, her stomach quivered. The main door opened and they found that the elevator was out.
"To prevent escape or entry, I wonder," Liara said.
They had to jump across the platform and then down a series of ladders. Shepard's stomach was feeling worse and worse. In the nearby distance, they could hear the screeches of a banshee.
"Sounds close," Liara whispered.
"A little too close," Garrus added.
The facility was dark, nothing but the light from their guns showing them the way. The uneasiness of the unknown only added to the stirring motion Shepard felt lingering in her core. Shepard heard a noise
"What was that?" she asked, freaked.
"Oh, that was me, sorry," Garrus replied.
"Oh God," she sighed.
"Edgy, are we?" Garrus asked.
"A little," she admitted.
They ventured further into the dark and came across slain Reaper forces and a dead asari commando.
"This was the commando's captain," said Liara, "It seems they gave their lives fighting the Reapers."
Garrus picked up the data pad by the captain.
"Anything useful?" Shepard asked him.
"A map, showing the NavPoint location of a bomb. Some room called the Great Hall."
"So the commandos started the purge after all," Liara said.
"If there are no survivors, let's get to the Great Hall and set off that bomb."
They entered the next room and came across an unexpected familiar face.
"Samara!" Shepard exclaimed.
"It has been some time, Shepard. You are a most welcome sight. The corruption here runs deep."
"What brings a justicar out here?" Garrus asked.
"My daughters have lived here for centuries, Garrus. I've come for them. Unfortunately, the Reapers have already infested this place."
"Are these daughters just as dangerous as Morinth?"
"Falere and Rila have followed the monastery's rules ever since they arrived. They've shown no inclination toward violence."
"And you're here to save them," Shepard concluded.
"They are my responsibility and it's one that cannot be abandoned even as our galaxy crumbles."
"Okay, well, let's go together. There's a bomb in the Great Hall that we need to set off. We can find your daughters along the way."
"It has been centuries since I last saw them. "
They heard the nearby screech of another banshee and Samara's biotics flared as she took off towards the sound.
"We will meet again," yelled Samara, "I will draw these creatures off!"
Shepard and her squad made it further into the facility and came across a banshee. Seeing one with her own eyes again, she realized why the Reapers invaded the monastery.
"Oh my God!" Shepard shouted as they fired at it, "It all makes sense!"
"What?" Liara shouted back.
this is where the Reapers got their forces to make banshees!"
More Reapers forces appeared which they eventually cleared out and continued on their way.
"Think about it," Shepard said as they walked, "There were no 'dragon teeth' set up on Thessia. Those banshees weren't made there. And if the Ardat-Yakshi are as powerful as you say, Liara, then I can see why the Reapers targeted them. Maybe banshees can only be made from them and not from normal asari."
"That very well could be," Liara replied.
." Shepard's words were cut off as the stomach bile that had crept up her throat now forced itself from her mouth. She braced herself on her knees as she bent forward and endured the vomiting.
The last of the bile left her lips and she took a few deep breaths to regain her composure. She heard a heavy sigh from Garrus who was standing by her.
"I know, I know," she said, "I'll see Mordin first thing when we get back."
"I'll make sure of it," he replied.
With that, they ventured further into the facility and came across an asari fighting off a cannibal. Shepard shot it down and then approached her, just as Samara arrived.
"Mother? You came!" Falere said.
"As soon as I was able," Samara replied, "Shepard, this is Falere, my youngest. She and her sister, Rila, are Ardat-Yakshi. They
"Mother, they have Rila!" Falere said.
"What?" Samara gasped.
"I saw some of those creatures take her into the Great Hall. I've been trying to get there."
"If we're going to find her, we need to do it fast. The bomb is in the Great Hall. We have to hurry," said Shepard.
"A bomb? But didn't you come to rescue people?" Falere asked.
"We'll try, but we can't leave this place standing, Falere," Shepard said firmly.
"You sound like the commandos, and they didn't stop to help anyone," Falere spit back.
" Samara said softly.
"I'm sorry," Falere replied as she jumped over the railing and landed on the level below.
"Damn it!" Shepard grunted.
"The Great Hall, she's looking for Rila!" Samara said.
"Let's move, on the double!"
They made their way to the Great Hall entrance, fighting off Reapers forces along the way. They entered the Great Hall and took the elevator to the top. When they stepped off, they could see the bomb off in the distance. Beside the bomb was Rila laying on the floor and her sister Falere kneeling over her.
"Look! Rila's alive! She's not a monster!" Falere said to them as they approached. "Please, let me wake her up. Then we can leave."
Rila's eyes opened
they were black. She got up and choked her sister. Falere pushed her off and Rila fell to the ground.
"Why did she do that?" Falere gasped.
"Because they've begun to turn her into one of the Reaper's creatures," Samara replied.
"I'm sorry," Shepard offered and looked at Garrus, "Can we set off that bomb?"
"Not without a detonator," he replied.
"Well, it's gotta be around here somewhere - everybody start looking."
Just then, the familiar screech of a banshee filled the air. Multiple banshees, along with husks, entered the room. Once the enemies were cleared out, they returned to the bomb. Rila had gotten to her feet again but this time her eyes were normal.
"Falere, go! Take the elevator," Rila urged.
"What are you doing?" Falere cried.
"It's too late for me. There are hundreds coming. Just go!" she urged her sister.
With that Rila revealed the detonator in her hand.
"Garrus, grab her! We move now!" Shepard commanded as she, Samara and Liara headed for the elevator. Garrus grabbed Falere and pulled her to the elevator.
"No! Rila!" Falere cried.
"I love you," Rila replied as she readied herself for what she had to do.
"Rila!" Falere yelled at they entered the elevator. Before the elevator door closed, they saw multiple banshees approaching Rila.
The elevator was half way down when they felt the explosion from above. Soon the elevator had come to a stop at the exit of the facility.
Falere was the first one off, followed by Samara.
there wasn't even time to say goodbye," Falere said faintly.
"Few can break the Reapers' hold. Rila's will was extraordinary, as was her love for you," Samara said.
"We left her to die!" Falere said angrily.
"Rila made her choice and it has reminded me of what is truly important, why I swore I'd lay down my life," Samara said solemnly.
"What is that?"
the Code demands an Ardat-Yakshi cannot live outside a monastery that no longer exists," Samara replied as she pulled out her gun.
"Whoa whoa whoa! What are you doing?!" Shepard yelled as she ran towards Samara.
"I'm sorry, Shepard. Bu the justicar's code
there's only one way to save Falere," Samara said as she pointed the gun against her own head.
"Mother, no!" Falere cried.
"My daughters, you were all so much stronger than I believed," Samara said calmly.
Shepard rushed in and grabbed both of Samara's hands and held them behind her back.
go!" Samara said sternly.
"What are you doing?!" Shepard asked confused.
"Fulfilling the Code," Samara said.
"By throwing your life away?!" she said incredulously.
"I won't kill my last daughter!" Samara replied thickly.
"You won't have to," Falere said, "I'll stay here
no matter what's become of it. I could have left any time. I don't need a building to honor my own code. And if the Reapers return, they won't take me alive
Shepard released Samara's hands.
"Then the Code permits you to stay as you are," Samara said.
Falere walked forward and wrapped her arms around her mother.
"Once this war is over, and if I am able, I will visit. As a justicar should," Samara said.
"It's understandable if you want to stay and help Falere rebuild a home here," Shepard said.
"It must wait not that I can help oppose the Reapers," Samara replied, "I'll speak with Falere, then join your forces. If you'll have me, of course."
"I'd be honored."
"The honor is mine, my friend."
Shepard got on her comm, "Cortez, we're done here, bring down the shuttle."
"Right Commander, I'll just follow the smoke."
Garrus grabbed Shepard's arm as they cleared the Normandy's airlock and led her straight to Mordin's lab.
"Garrus, Shepard, need something?" Mordin asked.
"She's been vomiting," Garrus informed him. "It started yesterday."
could be prothean DNA
," Mordin trailed off and then looked square at Shepard. "Have you tested dextro tolerance yet?"
"Yes," she replied shortly.
sex," she replied timidly.
"Two nights ago."
"Any other abnormal occurrences besides vomiting?"
"No, why? You think this is an allergic reaction?"
"Uncertain. Will need to run tests," he pondered.
"Of course you do," she huffed.
Garrus felt a tinge of guilt in his stomach. If it was an allergic reaction
it was because of him. He felt bad for not trying harder to convince Shepard of testing her tolerance levels in a safer way. He had failed to protect her as he had sworn to do as her bond mate. He lowered his head and sighed.
"Stop it," she said as she punched his arm, "It's not your fault so quit feeling like it is."
He half smiled at her words. How she was able to determine his thoughts was beyond him. She knew him too well. He looked up at her and opened his mouth to speak
"No," she said, "I don't want to hear any arguments. This is not your fault so just nod your head and let's be done with it."
He nodded at her and then leaned forward to nuzzle her forehead.
"I love you," he whispered.
"I know, I love you too."