Part 2, Chapter 13 of Valkyrie

“What is the meaning of this?”

A datapad clattered to the table. The asari’s voice was low, but it’s softness held an edge, like a sword concealed in a scabbard of silk.

“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” the human replied. She leaned back in her chair and waved a hand at the empty seat beside her. The asari did not sit.

“That’s impossible.”

“It’s quite possible,” the woman replied. Her voice had a strange accent that the asari had never heard before. Even through the translators, the alien could hear the difference. It was more like the voice of Doctor Chakwas than that of Kaidan and Shepard…

At the thought of Shepard, the asari’s eyes squeezed shut.

“Can you really bring her back?” she whispered, opening her eyes again.

“I’m going to try,” the woman told her. “Have a seat, Dr. T’Soni.”

Liara paused for a moment, then she sat. She kept her knees pressed together, her back ramrod straight, as she always did. A childhood spent as the daughter to an esteemed personage tended to make one a little conscious of carriage. Looking over the woman before her, Liara saw that this woman had a similar bearing.

“What will you do with her?” Liara asked, her voice a near whisper.

“Ask for her help,” the woman replied. “We need her to help us save human colonies. They are disappearing by the day.”

“Why can’t you save these colonies yourself?” Liara wanted to know.

“We’ve tried. But the attacks are random. Shepard has a reputation for solving impossible problems.” She paused for a moment before going on. “Furthermore, my employer seems to think the Reapers are involved.”

“The Reapers,” Liara breathed, “by the goddess, I knew it.” She raised her wide eyes to meet the woman’s blue ones. “You think they targeted Shepard, don’t you?”

“I think that’s very likely,” the woman nodded. “If so, you can see how important it is that we bring Shepard back. She might be the only one who can stop them.”

“Because of her visions…” Liara murmured.

“You’ve seen them, too.” It was a statement, not a question. Liara looked up in surprise.

“I have. Though what I saw was a mere shadow of what was imprinted upon Shepard’s mind. Only she has the full story.” The asari’s eyes narrowed. “How did you know about the visions?”

“I know a lot of things,” the woman shrugged. “What you saw in Shepard’s mind is what *will * happen if we lose her. We need your help to find her.”

Liara’s eyes narrowed even more. “You don’t have to convince me of the threat,” she said.

The woman tried to keep herself from smiling in pleased surprise. She tried – and failed. “So you will help us?”

“If I help you,” Liara said, her voice still holding that steel edge, “you will bring her back exactly as she was – exactly?”

“That’s what I told you,” the woman replied, nodding to the datapad that lay upon the table.

“You won’t hurt her? Change her?”

“Change her? Not if we can help it. If we can salvage enough of Shepard’s brain to make a full recovery – and I think we can…” The brunette did not seem to notice how the asari suddenly paled, “…then we will be able to bring her back as she was. As for hurting her, well, we’ll keep her sleeping until we are done reconstructing any physical damage. She may experience some discomfort upon waking, but we will keep it to a minimum.” The human then looked up and saw how queasy the asari looked.

“Our goal is to work with the woman who was – and will be – Commander Shepard,” she said. “We do not plan to use her for experimentation.” Her eyes narrowed. “That is what the other side wants. Not us.”

“I see,” the asari said softly. She thought for a long moment, then nodded. “I will help you. But I’m not doing it for you – or for your crusade.”

“Then why are you doing it?” the woman asked. She told herself that she asked because she wanted to know all the variables, but in truth, she was curious as to the asari’s motives.

“Because…” the asari began. “Because I always knew I’d live to see her death and now that I’ve seen it, it came too soon and…” She stopped and swallowed hard.

“Because I can’t let her go,” Liara said at last.

The human woman watched the asari with an unreadable expression. Then she looked away and pursed her lips. After a moment, she picked up the datapad from the table. Her omnitool flickered to life for a moment as she tapped a few buttons on the datapad. Then she handed the tablet back to the asari.

“This is the information you need. Keep in mind that you are one of many people searching for Shepard.”

“I’ll find her,” Liara said, lifting her chin.

“You’re confident,” the woman said, admiringly. “That will help.”

“I won’t find her because of confidence,” Liara said. She took the datapad and stood. “I’ll find her because I can’t bear the alternative.”