DISCLAIMER: Bioware owns the concept of Mass Effect and all of its characters. This fanfic is for entertainment and no profit what-so-ever.
AUTHORS NOTES: My Shepard is Vanguard/Nemesis-Spacer-War Hero concept. The story of Liara intro into the squad as been done before and this is my take on that event. Armed with the foreknowledge that if you rescue Liara last she is believed she is hallucinating so I played around a little with that lingering doubt in her mind as she is being rescued. However she was the 1st mission so she isn't completely out of it.
SPOILERS: Set during the rescue of Liara on Therum. Liara's 3rd person POV. Takes place in my Rising from the Ashes world.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Preferring Research to all these Explosions
By Elizabeth Carter


She heard the miner's elevator above her grind to a halt with teeth jarring metal scraping against metal. Though she could not see it the young asari imagined the sparks of the emergency brakes clamping onto the rails as they stopped the lift from crashing.

There were no heavy footfalls, barely any sound at all. Had the lift simply fallen? Or was it the beginnings of a hallucination?

"Er… hello? Can someone help me?" her voice grew more desperate "Please? Can you hear me out there?" She heard light footfalls coming her way. Not geth or that krogan, thank the Goddess!

More footfalls, the soft thump of slight weight hitting metal and dirt. Not the geth…unless it was one of the skulking models but then they wouldn't have needed the elevator. Whatever…whoever was approaching had jumped from the broken mesh walkway to the ground. But if not the hunters then who? What? She saw three females approaching her, two human, one quarian.

"I'm trapped, I need help!" She cried out to them, her voice betraying her desperation and weariness.

Liara watched the one in the middle with chin length black hair approach and assess the glowing blue barrier between them with the studious nature of a warrior analyzing all possible aspects of upcoming battle.

Azure blue eyes looked at her with an almost amused expression. "Dr. Liara T'soni, I presume?"

Liara let out a very audible sigh, "Thank the Goddess! I didn't think anyone would come looking for me." Her voice cracked once more in her desperation, "Listen this thing I'm in is a Prothean security device. I cannot move, so I need you to get me out of it alright?"

The unnamed woman folded her arms over her breasts, "Your mother is working with Saren. Whose side are you on?"

Liara's face contorted into an expression of almost terminal exasperation and fear. She wanted to cry. She was so very tired, so very weary, she just wanted out and now her only hope of escape was asking her about her mother? "What? I'm not on anybody's side! I may be Benezia's daughter, but I am nothing like her! I haven't spoken to her in years! Please just get me out of here!" she cried out.

The dark haired woman looked at the barrier once more "So how did you end up in there?"

"I was exploring the ruins when the geth showed up, so I hid in here. Can you believe that, geth beyond the veil!?" She saw the eyes of the human leader reflect that she knew very well about the geth being beyond the veil. "I… I activated the tower's defences. I knew the barrier curtain would keep them out. When I turned it on I must have hit something I wasn't supposed to. I was trapped in here." Desperation rose once more in her voice. "You have to get me out! PLEASE!" Her voice wavered. Tears trickled down her cheeks. 'Goddess, this is the help you sent me? Please I just want out…'

"It will be alright, calm down we just need a way past this energy field." The tone of the dark haired leader softened, became gentler. "Don't worry we'll help you out." She smiled reassuringly.

"There is a control panel in here that should deactivate this thing. You'll have to find some way to bypass the barrier curtain. That's the tricky part; the defences cannot be shut off from the outside. I don't know how you'll get in here."

The still unnamed woman paused a moment to give the barrier another studious look. You could practically see her thinking out side the box. So far outside she was nearly orbital.

"Be careful there is a krogan with the geth. They have been trying different ways to get past the barrier."

"Thanks for the warning; we'll keep our eyes open for him. Oh…by the way my name is Commander Samantha Shepard of the Alliance Military, and Spectre of the Citadel Council. We will rescue you. Don't worry, I promise I'll find a way to get you out of there."

Liara watched as the three left her suspended in the bubble. There was a certain bearing to the woman who had finally given her name. Samantha Shepard. Samantha…the name was the purr of velvet caressing silk on the tongue. Samantha was indeed a huntress; you could see it in her eyes. You could see resolve in those eyes, you could see honor in there as well.

"Thank you Goddess, thank you. I know I will get out now. I just don't know how she will do it." Liara whispered. Neither did she know how many minutes nor indeed if those minutes passed into more than an hour before she heard the sounds of thunder.

Thunder? Impossible! How could thunder be heard several meters below the earth…the earth of an arid world?

"I'm going mad now. Oh Liara don't be so stupid. You are hallucinating! There was no woman, no Samantha Shepard. A human Spectre? And now thunder? Thunder deep down here…impossible…human Spectre…there is no such thing…Oh Goddess…"

There was a clink-clank-Grr-clunk. It was the sound of ancient grinding of machinery in motion. More footfalls, just as before they were lighter than geth or krogan.

Liara could just turn her head ever so slightly and saw a vision of pure beauty. The figure…Samantha Shepard…commander and Spectre was real! She was real! Liara's face lit up with the expression of a woman who had the privilege of going to Heaven while still very much alive. "Oh!" Liara gasped in her astonishment, tears of relief slipped out of the corners of her eyes. "How did you get in here? I didn't think there was a way past the barrier?"

"We blasted through with the mining laser." Shepard answered simply and succinctly.

"Mining laser? Yes of course. That makes sense." Fear still lapped at the edges of her mind. "Please get me out of here before even more geth show up. I've seen enough of them to last a life time!"

"You just said a mouthful, Doctor." Shepard responded softly with the supercilious way of knowing she was far from being free of confrontations with the synthetics.

"That button over there should shut down the containment field." Liara moved her head as far as she could to indicate the panel.

The human followed her gaze and moved for the control panel and brought up the lime green holographic keys. Her fingers danced over the controls easily, a moment later the bubble…popped. Liara fell hard on hands and knees to the ceramic tiled floor of the chamber.

"Ahh," she gasped in relief and a bit of pain. She stood up on shaky feet, dusting herself off. It felt so good to be free. To move! She resisted the urge to rush the dark haired huntress and wrap her arms around her. Oh but she was free!

For the first time Liara heard the quarian speak. "Any idea how we get out of this place?" her voice held a strange metallic but yet melodic accent as she spoke in galactic basic.

"There is an elevator back at the center of tower at least I…I think it's an elevator. It should take us out of here, before any more geth arrive. Come on." Liara inwardly gritted her teeth. She never fancied herself meek and chafed under the impression she was giving the humans and quarian. But she was so tired and felt the vague haunting of hallucinations whispering at her. She had been locked in that containment cell for over a week. Fortunately the damn thing had placed her internal systems in sort of stasis. Unfortunately it had left her fully awake without any way to sleep. Her mind so very acute had started to invent images and they had been growing steadily worse day by day. She shuddered to think what would become of her had she been left in that thing for any longer length of time.

They moved past the circular platform that had obviously been used by Shepard and her crew when they had entered the back-entrance. A small catwalk led them to the center of the tower and what looked very much like a massive elevator. Here Liara called up yet another green holographic command panel and keyed in the sequence that would power the elevator and make it ascend to the topmost floor.

Liara's mind raced over the first words spoken to her by Shepard: 'Your mother is working for Saren. Whose side are you on?' The asari knew that Saren as one of the turian Spectres. Over the past twenty years he had built up a rather ruthless reputation. He was loathing of humans, Liara knew. She further knew he was a bit resentful of the asari, though his reasons for this were not as known as those as why he hated humanity.

The way the Shepard worded it, made it sound as if Saren was now an enemy of Citadel space. 'Why is Mother working with Saren? Why did she leave asari space? In the last fifty years she hasn't crossed the borders. Well that wasn't fully true, Mother has been to the Citadel to speak with Councillor Lei'cree, but that doesn't count as truly leaving asari space.'

"I…I still cannot believe all of this. None of it makes any sense." She couldn't fathom any of it, nothing was adding up. "Why would the geth come after me? Do you think Benezia is involved?" Her voice was still betraying her inner-strength by making her sound shy with no self-confidence.

The second human, slightly younger in appearance to Shepard spoke; her voice was crisp and caustic. "Saren is looking for the conduit. Think Miss Prothean Expert! He probably wants you to help in find it."

Liara was now completely baffled; she had never heard anything about this. What in the name of the Goddess where they talking about? "The conduit? But I don't know anything…"

The whole world shook, trembled and shuddered.

"What in the hell was that?" demanding the caustic one as if the quake was somehow Liara's fault as well.

"These ruins are not stable. That mining laser must have caused a seismic event. We have to hurry. The whole place is caving in." Liara explained.

Shepard triggered the comm-radio at her ear. "Joker! Get the Normandy airborne. Lock in on my signal, on the double mister!"

"Aye-aye Commander. Secure and away. ETA eight minutes."

The quarian shook her head. "He needs to move faster!" she said in a reproachful voice.

The caustic human grumbled. "That isn't a lot of time for error, Skipper. If I die in here, I'll kill him."

"Tali, Williams heads up, we'll have incoming. Doctor, take this." Shepard removed the pistol from her hip and handed it over to her. "I don't know if you're accustomed to firearms, just point and shoot at the geth. It's got a hell of kick back if you're not ready for it."

Liara was ashamed to admit it but she doubted at this point she would be any good in a fire fight. Sleep deprived, a lack of nourishment had left her body drained. It was difficult enough to summon her natural biotic powers to shield herself. She imagined her childhood mentor Huntress Shiala chiding her for her lack of forethought and preparation. In justification for herself, Liara had been on remote digs for the past fifty years and never encountered a problem her biotics couldn't handle. Running afoul of more aggressive indigenous life forms or bandits she had always been able to defeat them. Liara T'soni was a survivalist, but right here right now she was a weak as a youngling in her first year of life just learning to walk. Her head was swimming, her body aching from being so long suspended. Liara knew she would be a liability in the battle to come. However she took the pistol from the human's hand and made it feel comfortable in her own.

For a moment blue eyes locked onto blue eyes. Somehow Liara got the feeling Shepard knew just how vulnerable she was right now. Yet she said nothing. Instead, Shepard withdrew her assault rifle from its locking holster on her back as did Williams. The quarian followed the humans' lead and unholstered her shotgun. Liara watched as the young girl looked to Shepard for reassurance which came in the form of a nod.

"Whatever happens, whatever comes stay close to Doctor T'soni, Tali. She isn't exactly five by five at the moment watch her six."

"I'm on it Commander." The girl nodded and moved closer to Liara. "Don't worry. Commander Shepard won't let anything happen to you. She saved me, she will you too."

Liara was about to answer but was caught off-guard just as the elevator banked with the top level. The party was unable to get off however as the illusive yellow-skinned-black shelled krogan battlemaster approached them. Flanking him on either side were four geth troopers, some of them the red shelled rocket troopers while others were the white armored shock variety.

"Surrender or don't." the hump shrugged in what the krogan obviously thought was humour. "That will make it more fun."

"In case you haven't noticed this place is falling apart!" Shepard was flippant in her retort.

"Yes exhilarating isn't it?" The krogan turned his head and pointed to Liara. "Now hand the doctor over!"

"Whatever it is you want you're not getting it from me!" Liara spat. She hadn't spent the last week… weeks… in that Goddess be damned bubble just to give up now.

"She'll stay with us," Shepard waved her hand in a mocking farewell. "Thanks."

Liara turned and looked intrigued and astonished by the levity in the voice, as well as the pure defiance in this human woman. She was clearly outnumbered and outgunned and yet she defied the mercenary battlemaster. The fear that Shepard might have complied vanished instantly. She knew then she could always trust this woman.

"Not an option." The battlemaster snorted. "Saren wants her. And he always gets what he wants." He turned to his geth entourage. "KILL THEM! Spare the asari if you can. If you can't it doesn't matter." The krogan shrugged in indifference.

Shepard sent a wave of biotic power at the krogan and his band of geth. The krogan barely moved but the geth juggernauts hurtled into the storage crates that once had been neatly stacked in the corridor beyond. It didn't stop them for long, they rolled to their double jointed legs and lifted their heavy assault rifles, aimed and fired at anything moving.

Liara's head swam, she heard shots being fired, felt waves of biotics at war. The krogan was a biotic but the human Spectre was greater, more powerful. She could feel wave after wave of biotic pushes, lifts, singularities and warps. Assault rifles roared in staccato beats.

The warriors human, quarian, geth and krogan danced the circumference of the great elevator, dodging in and out of the hydraulic mechanisms of the lift. Liara's mind staggered in a million fractured images as she tried to clear the bubbling fog her imprisonment had left her mired in. Frozen fingers of dread rose through her as she realized that in her attempts to summon her full biotics would be futile. She was too exhausted, too drained, locked up in that status bubble made her feel as if she had used her biotic energy constantly with no respite. What strength she did have she used in creating a barrier around herself.

The sound of a cease fire was deafening, daring herself to move, commanding her oh so weary body to obey Liara looked up to see strewn bodies of the geth. Hydraulic fluids leaked out of their synthetic skin as blood. The garish orange fluid mixed with that of the very dead battlemaster blood making it difficult to tell one from the other. The body of the krogan was horrifically twisted, the results of a singularity tearing it apart, its head was riddled with so many bullet holes it looked like a sieve.

Liara noted the orange blood splattered across Shepard's white and blue hardsuit. She kicked the prone body with the tip of her boot ensuring the reptilian warrior was truly dead before she collapsed her rifle and replaced on the holster on her back.

A second tremor was the only warning they had before the roof of the mine started to crumble. Liara watched as Shepard was dashing out in front taking point. She led them up the snaking metal gangplanks. Up. Up. Up they went. Liara felt her body grow more and more languid, she was falling behind, the mine was collapsing around her mocking her as it to say 'If you do not run I will be your tomb. Your body will never feed the Progenitor.'

Suddenly Shepard was at her side, pulling her up onto her feet, "Move! Move! Move!" she commanded all of them. She practically carried Liara the rest of the way out of the mine.

Only when they were fully free of the dying mine did Liara who was beyond winded look back to see Shepard taking in great greedy gulps of cloying air. The more hot stagnant air she breathed in the more it choked her, the more she tried to breathe in.

The ramp to the commander's ship was opened invitingly. The whole mine shuddered one last time before clasping in on itself in a gush of black smoke and rubble.

Liara turned to her human saviour and smiled for the first time. "Thank you for saving my life." She said softly.

The human only nodded and returned a very soft smile. "We'll get cleaned up, gear stowed before we have our briefing. I think there are a few things you need to know. Seems to me you were out there for a while and don't have clue what's been going on in the rest of the galaxy."

Liara nodded. "I've been a little removed from things yes. You do not get a lot of news out on remote digs."

"Saren Arterius went rogue, and has been stripped of his Spectre rank and privileges. He's got geth fighting with him as is your mother. I don't know how your mother fits into all of this, Dr. T'soni but she is involved. In fact he and your mother are looking for something called a conduit. I'll let you hear the transmission Tali recovered as well as bringing you up to speed. Right now I need to stow my gear and change into BDU's. Dr. Chakwas will have some extra lab-gear if you want to change into something clean. For what it's worth, welcome to the Normandy, Dr. T'soni. Don't worry you're not a prisoner; you won't have a security detail on you. I'm wagering you won't break the trust I'm offering you?"

"I will not Commander Shepard. Thank you." Liara felt a rush of relief fill her. She didn't know what it was but she knew she could always trust Samantha Shepard. This very young woman had saved her from the Prothean prison, the geth and the bounty hunter as well as Saren. Liara knew her first impression she had given the human Spectre was one of meekness and fragility it was something she would have to impress upon this woman that she was not. Liara had a very clear instinct that told her Shepard was a protector and though she wasn't looking for one, Liara felt grateful all the same.

The End

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