In which Gatatog Ukarn manages to figure out a mining laser:
24 February 2183, Interstellar Space
Liara's knees hit the deck plating, pain lancing up through her body at the harsh impact. One more morsel of suffering, to add to hunger, thirst, bruises, lacerations, and the itching sensation of her filthy clothes.
The two krogan standing beside her put a hand each on her shoulders, to prevent her from trying to rise. Not that she had any intention of doing so. Any thought of resistance had already been beaten out of her.
She looked up and saw a massive turian, crouching on what appeared to be a throne. A more familiar figure, graceful and feminine, lurked in the shadows behind him. They both seemed difficult to see in the harsh blue light. Or perhaps it was the fact that Liara's eyes had almost swollen shut.
"Liara T'Soni," rumbled the turian. "It's a pleasure to meet you at last. Your mother has spoken of you often. I trust we will be able to work very productively together."
Liara only shook her head in futile denial.
"No need for that," said the turian. "Benezia."
The female figure stepped forward, into the light, and Liara choked back a gasp of terror. She recognized her mother, but much changed: dressed all in funeral black, her face as cold as the darkness between stars, no sign of affection or love in her distant gaze.
"Take your daughter and have her physical needs seen to. Water and food, medical care, a chance to bathe and put on clean clothes. Perhaps she would like to sleep for a while. Krogan can be such blunt instruments. I'm sure that in your care, she will feel more at home. More ready to learn what will be required of her."
Benezia nodded. She came forward, kneeling for a moment to take Liara's hands in her own. Then she led Liara away from the krogan and their brutality.
Liara stirred, enough to glance at her mother in distaste.
"Why, Mother?" Her voice trembled with fatigue. "Why are you helping that monster?"
"Hush, child." An arm around the younger asari's shoulders, gentle but detached, like a parody of maternal care. "Let's just see you healed, fed, and rested for now. Saren only needs your expertise. There's nothing to fear."
A flicker of resistance stirred in Liara's soul, but it soon died in the face of undeniable facts. One young asari could do nothing against her own mother, against a renegade Spectre, against an army of geth and krogan. She didn't even know where this ship, Sovereign, was located in the galaxy. She could do nothing but accept Saren's gesture, play for time, and pray fervently for rescue.
She accepted medical treatment. She ate and drank until she felt restored. She changed into clean clothes, and that seemed the greatest kindness of all. She lay down on a soft bed and slept for twelve hours straight.
By the time she awoke, of course, the whispers had begun in the back of her mind.
She never heard the name Shepard, at least not until it was far too late.
By the time she learned of her mother's death, it no longer mattered to her.
By the time she located long-lost Ilos, she cared for nothing but her master's voice.
By the time the Reapers poured through the Citadel Relay, she cared for nothing at all. She stood at Saren's side, in her mother's place, witnessing the death of a thousand worlds.
She could not even scream.