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"Is this seat taken?"
Liara looked up, startled out of her whirling thoughts. "Lieutenant Comm...Ashley. No, please, sit."
Ashley Williams nodded gratefully, settling her tray across from the asari's and immediately tucking in to...whatever human food was in front of her. "Can't remember the last time I sat down and ate something," she mumbled around her first mouthful.
"Yes, it's been...hectic."
The newly-minted Spectre swallowed, suddenly less enthusiastic about her dinner. "We're getting reports from all over. It's the same everywhere...Thessia, Rannoch, Palaven...they're just...helping. Putting out fires, rebuilding infrastructure, bringing the pieces of the relays back together. Like someone just...flipped a switch." Ash looked up as Liara set down her datapad and sighed. There was silence until the marine said what they were both thinking.
"It was her. It had to be. She did something to them, fixed them somehow. Shepard actually did it."
Liara was staring at the table, just shaking her head. She looked like she was trying not to cry. They'd all been doing that a lot lately. "What do we even call them now?"
Ash smiled just a little. "Joker had an idea. Said what else are we gonna call them: Shepherds."
Liara forced a smile. When she finally looked up, it was to find the human marine staring at her. "What? What is it?"
"You did it, didn't you?" Liara's eyes narrowed in confusion, and Ash smiled. "I saw you two. In London, just before the...you did that mind-meld thing. I mean, I don't get the details, but I know that's how asari...you know."
Liara just blinked, her lips trembling. "How...how did you..."
Ash's smile turned bittersweet. "Because I would have."
On instinct, Liara's hand dropped to rest on her stomach. Ash cleared her throat.
"Did she...did she know?"
"I...I didn't tell her...." Liara closed her eyes with a sigh. "Yes. Just like I knew she wasn't coming back..."
Ash shifted uncomfortably. "Hey, I...I know that's what she wanted with you."
"Yes. 'Lots of little blue children...'" The asari's voice broke as tears poured down her cheeks. When Ash's weight settled next to hers, she didn't resist. Liara sucked in a shuddering breath. "This child...how am I supposed to..."
"Hey, it's okay. We're all here for you. Besides..." Ash looked out at the crew milling around them, working to get the Normandy, their home, spaceworthy again. The galaxy had changed forever. For the better.
"Besides, bringing one good thing into the universe...that's all any of us can do, right? That's what she'd really want."
Liara sniffed, then nodded. "And...and every time this little girl looks up into the sky and sees a Shepherd, she'll know how much her father would have loved her."
Doctor Liara T'Soni, archaeologist turned information broker turned mother-to-be, began to cry again. And Lieutenant Commander Ashley Williams, the second and now only human Spectre, finally let herself join her.
"Lieutenant! We just got word there are more survivors trapped under the Dome of Choka. The Shepherds are helping with the rubble, but they're too big to get down there."
Lietutenant Benezia T'Soni-Shepard nodded and helped pull the messenger, her team's medic Wrex Mordin, up onto the chunk of crumbled krogan masonry. She looked to the other members of her first command. "Eidolon, are there any other geth near there that can give us a status report?"
Eidolon quirked its head. "Yes. Four individuals have managed to infiltrate the ruins. However the krogan survivors are beyond their reach. Our consensus is that controlled demolitions are required."
"Y'hear that? Controlled," Wrex muttered. "That means not blowing my headplates off."
Ramani'Zali nar'Rannoch rolled her eyes. "That was one time..."
Beni shook her head. "Okay. Let's get to work."
Her squad dropped down past her, the quarian munitions expert giving her a flirtatious smile. "At your service, Lieutenant."
As the young asari followed after her overeager young team, she caught a glimpse of a Shepherd, its sleek metallic form hanging in the sky as it descended toward the crumbling city. No one knew where the giant synthetics went, but whenever something truly big happenedlike the worst earthquake in Tuchanka historythey were always there. Like guardian angels.
The harsh Tuchanka sun glinted off the metallic form, bathing it in white and orange, and Beni couldn't help but smile; she'd never seen anything so beautiful in her life.
"I love you too, Dad."
Benezia T'Soni-Shepard picked up her pace as her teammates pulled ahead of her again. She had a bright future ahead of her, after all, and she was going to make the most of it.
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