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Mass Effect: A Hero Rises

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Nervous excitement infected the crew. They were still doing their jobs, the chatter was slightly louder than normal, but I let it go for now. All I wanted was for the Normandy to get to Ilos safely and to finally track down Saren and kill the bastard. I did wonder what happened to Anderson once we’d made our escape. I had sent him a message but heard nothing back, so figured he’d already been arrested. I didn’t believe the Alliance would sent anyone to hunt us down. Anderson believed, and I had a feeling Hackett did as well.

The journey to Ilos would take at least a couple of days, heading deep into the Attican Traverse. We would pass through systems that had either only been recently discovered, or we would pass through completely uncharted systems, wondering if we shouldn’t be sending out a tonne of probes at the same time. I knew some of the crew would be worried about our presence, but we were a lone ship, and had the fact we could run silent and practically invisible. As long as we were careful, we’d make it to Ilos without a problem.

Of my team, it was easy to see Tali and Ashley were both in very good moods. Ashley remained a model professional in front of everyone. Tali… was a little more affectionate, though I didn’t mind in front of her engineers. They were all aware that she liked me, though wouldn’t have known that our relationship had turned physical. She didn’t say anything to give away what we’d been up to.

I had a chat with Garrus, and he told me he’d spent some time with Chloe, the relationship apparently already turning rather serious. Wrex admitted he’d had a lot of fun back on the Citadel but suggested his time with me would draw to a close once we’d caught Saren, not wanting to get involved with everything else going on.

Then there was Liara and Shiala. The pair seemed to be rather closer, enough that Benezia had picked up on it, pulling me back into the mess as before I had walked through the med-bay. “I do believe my daughter is involved with another asari,” she told me quietly, “I find this surprising considering both of them seem to be infatuated with you.”

“Maybe they need the physical release?”

“While that is true, there is something about Liara that makes it…” She paused before gesturing to the nearby table. Seating herself, looking as elegant as ever, she asked, “What do you know about the asari and our mating rituals?”

“Not a lot, to be honest.”

“Liara is what we term a ‘pureblood’ asari.” I didn’t understand, obviously, so Benezia added, “That means her mother and father, to put it in terms you would understand, were both asari. Though there are millions of pureblood asari still born to this day, there are negative connotations to being one.”

“Liara knows she is one?”

“She has always speculated. I have never confessed to it being the case. Asari falling in love with each is not unusual, and if there were significant dangers, we would never have progressed as a species. But once we realised we could mate with other species, it was soon popular for asari to mate with other species, as though the child is born asari, the child will take some of their ‘fathers’ DNA, and it is regarded as the further evolution of our species.”

“Why did you choose an asari as a mate?”

That made her smile. “Because I was in love, Shepard. You probably sit there now and see a Matriarch who has performed acts recently which would make you wonder how I’d ever fallen in love…”

“I wouldn’t say that.”

“I wouldn’t blame you if you did though. But I did love her father. We spent a century together very happily married.”

“I assume you are no longer together?”

“No. Once I fell pregnant with Liara, I chose to end our relationship so our daughter could be raised without the stigma of being pureblood. Very few if anyone knows the truth about her, though I’m sure the secret has been discovered over the years. The fact Liara has been suspicious would suggest she’s put two and two together over the decades. I very rarely mention her father.” Benezia trailed off, not meeting my eyes.

“You still love her?”

“Always,” she whispered, “But it was for the best.”

I figured moving the conversation on might help. “What will you do once we’re finished here?”

“I will fling myself in front of my fellow Matriarchs and beg forgiveness. If you succeed in taking down Saren, and I am part of your crew, though my current position suggests I’m… What am I, Shepard?”

“I’m not sure, to be honest. I can’t take you into the fight against Saren. You are far too susceptible to this indoctrination you spoke of. Is that still an issue?”

“I fight the voices every day, Shepard. It is… It is exhausting at times. But not being near that ship, near Saren, it is helping me. Anyway, if I am part of the Normandy when you eliminate Saren and his threat, then perhaps I will not be judged as harshly as I would be if you’d killed me on Noveria.” She paused before leaning forward, resting a hand on mine. “Thank you, Shepard.”

“For what?”

“For not killing me. It has given me a chance to reconnect with my daughter. It is still difficult but I am hopeful. I know she doesn’t exactly trust me. It will take time to re-establish our relationship. Shiala despises me now, and I do not blame her. Most of my acolytes are now dead. Those who remain alive are indoctrinated and are now at Saren’s side. I find myself… alone. It is an unusual feeling.”

“I’ve killed a lot of people, Benezia. There is a reason I saved you, though. I figured you could prove to be helpful, if not on the field, at least in helping establish what makes Saren tick.”

“Don’t believe all the anti-human propaganda you have been told, Shepard. There is one simple reason Saren is on this crusade. That ship he resides on. It has infected his mind as much as it did mine. Destroy his ship and you will likely destroy him.”

“Do you think he can be saved or redeemed?”

“I find that doubtful, Shepard. I believe he is what you would term a ‘lost cause’. It was hubris on my part that thought I could save him, turn him from the path he has since walked down. He or that ship was more powerful than I could have ever imagined.”

“And the Reapers?”

She met my eyes. “They must be stopped, Shepard. No matter the cost.”

“That’s the plan, Benezia.”

She smiled and seemed to relax back into her chair. “Were you planning on speaking to my daughter just before?” I shrugged, which made her smile broaden. “Do you find her interesting?”

“Of course.”

“Attractive?”

“Yes.”

“What about me?”

That caused a moment of surprise before I simply returned her smile. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.”

“I’ve never been with a human before, Shepard.” She paused before adding, “Not sure why I just told you that either. There is something about you though. An inner strength that seems to draw people towards you like a beacon. I have found myself increasingly attracted the longer I’ve been on this ship.”

“Are you proposing something, Benezia?”

She rose to her feet and gracefully took the seat next to me, her arm resting on the back of my chair as she leaned closer. “I believe I would enjoy my first experience with a human if it was with you, Shepard,” she stated softly, lips close to my ear, feeling her breath on my neck, “But… But you cannot be with me before you have enjoyed my daughter.” I couldn’t help chuckle for a moment before glancing at her, meeting her eyes. “I am serious, Shepard. If I were to… claim you first, she would be incredibly jealous and it would destroy the very shaky foundations of our rebuilding relationship.”

“Again, I would suggest you were offering your daughter to me, Benezia.”

“In a way I am, Shepard. She is infatuated with you. In fact, I believe it is more than just infatuation or a simply crush. I don’t believe she is in love, though it is possible, even likely, those feelings will develop in time if you were to be intimate with her.” She paused before adding, “But I still want to experience you too. I don’t think my daughter would be interested in sharing you with me, for example.” She cleared her throat. “You should be with her before Ilos. Then once you have been with her, perhaps you would like to enjoy me?”

I glanced her way again. In the low light of the mess, without the indoctrination that had appeared in her eyes, she was certainly beautiful. Pretty much an older version of Liara. There was a depth of wisdom in her eyes I had rarely seen. Her face was almost carved from stone. I believed many asari would have found her beautiful. I would admit I’d checked her out on more than one occasion. I noted the word above. Graceful. The way she walked spoke of a poise and natural flow that belied centuries of what probably amounted to training in certain societal circles.

“I might take you up on both your offers, Benezia,” I finally replied. That simply earned a smile and a kiss on my cheek.

“It is about time, Shepard. I believe my daughter will enjoy herself with you.” And with those words, she stood up and left me alone. I happily watched her walk away as she took the long way around, definitely putting an extra shake into her hips, glancing back and winking, which simply caused me to chuckle to myself again. I’ll be honest, I had only saved her because I thought she would prove useful against Saren, and while she’d been able to explain certain motives, I certainly wasn’t going to make her part of my team, and I knew the indoctrination of Saren or his ship still lingered. I doubt it would ever truly go away, therefore she would be difficult to ever trust completely. But she’d done nothing so far to earn my ire while on the Normandy.

But despite what she said, in the end, I didn’t even have to make a move. We were still at least a number of days from the Mu Relay that would eventually take us to Ilos when she knocked on my door one evening. Calling her in, I was still sat at my desk, going over more reports, turning to her when she didn’t approach. Instead, she leaned back against the door and appeared unsure.

“Something wrong, Liara?” I wondered, turning my chair to face her.

She hesitated for only a moment before striding forward with purpose, leaning down and she kissed me hard, the sort of kiss that spoke of a million different feelings at once. I kissed her back immediately, rising to my feet, wrapping my arms around her. I’ll give her credit right now. She had either been practicing with Shiala, or she was a naturally good kisser, as I rose to occasion very quickly, and she definitely felt it as she pressed her body into mine, as she started to smile.

There was no need to say anything. Her white suit was easy to remove, delighted to see the black lingerie she was wearing underneath, and I reckoned she had worn it for my benefit only. I complimented her on it, which raised a shy smile, before she focused on me. Once I was out of my jacket and trousers, she spent some time simply running her hands up and down my arms, chest and back. “Humans are so different,” she murmured, “All this… hard muscle…”

“We’re not all like that,” I retorted gently, “Took a lot of hard work to get into this shape.”

She took my shirt off and her hands seemed to grip my body even tighter. Kiss her again, I undid her bra with one hand rather easily, letting into fall to the ground, feeling her breasts press into my body, nipples already hard. My arms were long enough to help remove her underwear, surprised at how curvy her body was, and she had a fantastic arse, giving that a good squeeze once she was naked before me.

Lowering her to the bed, there was only one thing I was going to do first. Tease the fuck out of her. Her skin was different to mine. It wasn’t exactly scaly, but it wasn’t as smooth as human or quarian skin, from what I found with Tali anyway. Not to say it wasn’t a pleasant experience, it was just a little difference. But I learned quickly that asari had the same, perhaps even more erogenous zones than a human, running my hands and tongue all over her body, completely ignoring her sex, enjoying the gasps and moans when I found something new that provoked a good reaction.

Sitting back on my knees for just a moment, I couldn’t help but just gaze down at her, our eyes locking for a moment. She seemed to grow shy for a moment until she realised I was simply showing my appreciation. “Damn, shouldn’t have waited so bloody long,” I muttered. Leaning down to kiss her, I started to gently fondle her pussy, earning a whimper as I kissed her before I broke the kiss. “And I’m definitely going to taste you now.”

That earned nothing but a smile at first. “Make me cum, Shepard,” she whispered.

I did, quite quickly to be honest, and far quicker than I expected. I think she entered my bedroom horny, and everything I’d done previously certainly helped, but I only ate her out for around five minutes before I had her writhing on the bed, her hand grabbing my head to keep it in place, almost demanding I lick her ‘Just there, don’t stop’ until she finally climaxed. If she thought I was going to stop after just one, she was definitely in for a surprise, particularly after I slid a couple of fingers inside her to find that spot that humans and quarians had, so I figured asari might have something similar.

She did, and her next orgasm was even better. Took a few more minutes as I teased her again, bringing her to the brink before relaxing, earning at least two groans of frustration but also some giggles as she knew what I was doing. I had a feeling she’d been intimate with Shiala. I didn’t know the truth yet, and I might ask later, but she didn’t seem surprised by at least a few things I was doing. Though I still had my underwear on though I did wonder if she’d seen a real cock before.

After I’d made her cum a second time, she asked me to stop for a moment, kissing her up her body before I just rested on my forearms, caressing her face. Her blue eyes shone brightly, her cheeks slightly flushed, lips parted as she breathed deeply. I thought she definitely had strong feelings for me, as Benezia told me.

Pushing me up, she had me sit on my knees to see the tent in my underwear. Gesturing, she had me stand up on the bed, grabbing the band and gently pulling them down, freeing my cock. She gasped at its appearance, helping me kick off my underwear, before I sat back down on my knees. “Oh, I thought…”

“Don’t worry about it,” I stated, interrupting her, “Though I like a blowjob as much as the next man, I prefer what we’re going to do next, if that’s what…”

“I want you to fuck me, Shepard.” I raised my eyebrows at the use of that term. She simply met my eyes. “It’s not my first time. I wanted… I’ve been with Shiala.”

“I figured,” I stated, with a grin.

She smiled shyly again. “Though I wanted my first time to be with you, I didn’t know if it would ever happen. Shiala and I have history. She’s always been a good friend, despite recent history, and so… well… You know things happen.” She gently grasped my cock. “You will be the first cock I’ve ever had inside me though. I’ve used sex toys before so let’s just say you’ll be the first real cock inside me.” I couldn’t help chuckle at her honesty. “Trust me, Shepard, I left behind a couple of good toys on Therum. Got me through some very lonely nights.” She kissed me before adding, “But I think having a real one inside me will be so much better. And you’ll cum inside me at the end too.”

She did make me cry out as she lay down and pulled me with her, kissing me as I slid inside her far easier than I imagined, though she was tight. Very tight, groaning into her mouth as I slowly buried my cock inside her. She shuffled as I did, getting comfortable, before she broke the kiss and smirked. “Fuck me, Commander!” she demanded.

So that’s what I did. Liara T’Soni was fucked by Commander Shepard for the next few minutes. I was never going to last long. I’d thought about fucking her within the first few days of meeting her. I’d always found her cute, and intelligence was always a turned on, but she came across as rather innocent, perhaps even a little naïve at times. I think I may have been a little wrong on those latter opinions.

“Goddess, your cock is magnificent, Shepard,” she moaned as I lifted her arse off the bed slightly, changing the angle of my thrusts, really driving into her. She wanted to be fucked, I was going to give it to her.

I would have said something, but I was enjoying it far too much and anything I said would have just sounded corny. So I focused on trying not to orgasm too quickly but the noises I made, with plenty of cursing, would have told her what I was thinking and feeling.

“Are you going to cum in my pussy, Shepard?” she asked so innocently, I nearly came there and then.

“Soon,” I grunted, kissing her hard for a moment before resting my forehead against hers, meeting her eyes.

“Never had someone cum in me before, Shepard. You’ll be the first human to ever do so.”

“I consider it an honour, doctor,” I managed to say.

Feeling her legs move, her heels now resting on my lower back, I pounded her even hard, her fingers digging into my back as she pretty much was now just holding on. “Cum in me!” she cried. That pretty much did it for me as I groaned loudly, swore a couple of times, then buried my cock as I felt myself erupt inside her. I kept thrusting until I was simply too empty and my mind too frazzled to continue, slowly coming to a stop and relaxing, Liara keeping her legs and arms around me, feeling her kiss me softly on the cheek.

Resting on my forearms, I sucked in a few deep breaths before I leaned up so I could look at her. The smile on her face was definitely one of triumph. “About time you fucked me, Shepard,” she said, her voice wavering slightly, lower lip definitely trembling.

“Better late than never,” I retorted, though somewhat sheepishly, laying a soft kiss on her lips.

She did learn sex was messy, at least between a man and a woman after he’d cum, but that didn’t stop her giving me around ten minutes to recover before she pushed me onto my back and hopped on. “Use to ride my sex toys like this,” she stated, grabbing my hands to balance herself as she slowly established a rhythm, “Much better when the cock is attached to a body.”

Moving my legs, she definitely liked the new angle, moaning loudly as she remained in that position for a little while before leaning forward, resting her hands to either side, giving me a kiss though she remained in control. I just watched her face, the pleasure easy to rest, running my hands down her back and sides, enjoying the feeling of her skin. “You are beautiful,” I whispered.

“Bet you say that to all your girls,” she retorted with a smirk.

“Well, I think I’ve definitely been blessed regarding some of my crew. Won’t lie.”

I eventually rested my hands on her arse, met her eyes, and received a nod. I think it was a race to see who would orgasm first. Whatever I was doing, it worked well, as she had to kiss me to stop the loud moan that escaped from deep within, feeling her pussy grip my cock almost like a vice as she started to climax. Breaking the kiss, resting her forehead against mine, she simply begged me to keep going. Like I was going to stop anyway, but that was only her first orgasm. She enjoyed a second one rather quickly, though that pretty much ended me, as while she was clenching me again, I drove into her harder and faster, Liara by this time practically resting against my body as I unloaded inside her again. Lying together in post-coital bliss, we could only lie there in silence as we both recovered. My cock was now practically useless, feeling it fall out of her, while she seemed incapable of any movement.

We eventually got up to clean, Liara joining me in the shower, where we showed more appreciation of each other’s bodies, before she ended up under the covers with me in bed. Wrapping an arm around her, she snuggled into me and it felt so normal already.

What she said next was a surprise though.

“You should be intimate with Shiala tomorrow night.”

“What?”

“Shepard, you do realise how she feels about you, right?” I nodded. “Well, you should be with her. I won’t be jealous. I already know you’ve been with many others. I understand you don’t do exclusivity.”

“You’re okay with that?”

“Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be here right now. While I would like romance, a large part of me just wanted to be fucked by Commander Shepard. If it can happen again, I certainly wouldn’t say no.”

“Neither would I.”

“Good, but you should also be with Shiala. She definitely misses you in an intimate setting. It was part of the reason we ended up together. We both wanted you, couldn’t have you, so found something with each other to sate our appetites until we could.”

“What led you to my door tonight then?”

“Using the human term, I had to grab the bull by the horns. Once I walked in here, I had to take a moment as my courage failed me, but when you turned to look at me, you seemed to realise what I was here for. That gave me renewed confidence to see it through.”

“Well, I’m glad you did. Come to my bedroom, that is. There is one thing, though…”

“Oh… What is it?”

“Benezia wants to… you know… what we just did.”

That made her chuckle. “That comes as no surprise, Shepard. I’ve realised for a while now that she’s been attracted. If you wish to be with her too, I can certainly understand and certainly wouldn’t presume to tell you who you can and can’t be with.”

“You’ll be fine with me being with her?”

I felt her shrug. “Sure. We’re not in a relationship, Shepard. You’re free to fuck who you want.” I felt her look in my direction, glancing to meet her eyes. “Just don’t ask for any sort of mother daughter threesome or something. I love my mother but I won’t be doing anything like that.”

Walking out into the mess together the next morning, I was surprised at the lack of any reaction. Well, that’s a slight lie, watching Garrus hand Wrex a couple of credit chits, so I guess there was at least a bet or two. But Ashley nor Tali appeared jealous, while Benezia seemed to smile approvingly more than anything.

Figuring there was no point beating around the bush, I waited until the end of breakfast before speaking to Shiala, immediately inviting her to my room that evening. While surprised, there’s no doubt she was excited at the prospect, whispering a few rather rude things into my ear that had me thinking and perhaps even a little distracted most of the day.

Still, there was work to do, continuing our investigations into what we would find on Ilos, while the rest of my team focused on their day jobs. The crew was still as excited as ever about having escaped the Citadel, and while I thought about it and didn’t think we were being mutinous, I’m sure I would have a few questions to answer once we returned to the Citadel victorious.

Shiala wasted no time turning up in my quarters that night. From the time she closed the door to dragging me from my chair, she was already naked and it took all of thirty seconds for me to be naked, on my back, with her straddling my lap, cock already inside her. We fucked all night, that’s the easiest way to put it. I almost apologised for having ended our brief liaison but she just told me to shut up and enjoy the night together. So that’s what we did. No idea how long we fucked but the only reason we stopped is I’d enjoyed more orgasms than I could remember, and there does come a time that my cock just wouldn’t get hard again.

“Well, I think we got what we wanted out of our systems,” she murmured, spooned against me after we’d taken the required shower.

“Liara did suggest…”

“I understand why you stopped but… Well, I assume Liara told you about us.”

“She did.”

“We’re old friends and enjoying sex is just that, a physical release. We’re not in love or anything, but it’s still a lot of fun making each other cum.” She did turn back for a moment. “You can have us together, if you want.”

“Would she be okay with that?” Shiala just laughed, so that answer my question. “One thing you should know…”

“Benezia,” she stated somewhat bluntly, “Liara told me already. I don’t care who else you fuck, Shepard. Just don’t need to hear the details. As long as this happens again.”

I kissed her cheek and assured her it would.

Walking out into the mess the next morning, Liara met our eyes and simply smiled, while I think Benezia was slightly surprised I fucked her daughter one night then Shiala the very next. Garrus handed Wrex more credit chits, while Ashley asked bluntly, “When’s my turn, Shepard?” I could only chuckle as a few of the crew had a laugh amongst themselves at the same time.

“Depends on how much longer it takes to get to Ilos,” I replied once I was sat down.

“Oh, and why not tonight?” she asked, her tone all sweet and nice.

“I have plans.”

“With who?”

“Someone else.”

Liara and Shiala already knew. I figured it might not take her too long to figure out who. It couldn’t be Tali, not without preparation. While Chakwas was perhaps interested, we remained platonic friends only, and perhaps for the best. The regular crew women were almost far too in awe of my presence to even think about approaching me for anything. Sure, there were one or two rather attractive women around but I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything untoward, and believed they’d still consider it fraternisation anyway. At least Ashley had moved past that now, thinking I was a Spectre of the Council rather than a Commander of the Alliance Navy.

Chatting with Joker later than day while at the galaxy map, he checked the route and we guess that Ilos was perhaps only one night, maybe two more nights away. That was good news, at least, as all of us were eager to get off the ship and find Saren. Hopefully he was still on Ilos and we could finally catch the bastard. I knew we’d probably have to kill him as he wouldn’t allow himself to be caught. Wrex, Ashley and Garrus wanted to kill him with no thoughts of capture. Liara and Shiala preferred capture if possible, simply to interrogate him for information. I wasn’t sure what Benezia wanted, perhaps not trusting herself around him. Tali didn’t really have an opinion.

I let the crew know that night what Joker and I had discussed. There was relief that our objective was closer than anticipated, amazed we hadn’t attracted the attention of the numerous pirate bands that infected the Terminus Systems. Then again, we were probably flying through certain systems that had probably been uninhabited for centuries, if not since the last Reaper invasion. I wasn’t going to complain, though. Even the slightest delay on our journey to Ilos could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

After dinner, I headed to my office for some more busywork. I was hoping to hear from Anderson, but there was radio silence from the Citadel. I received a short message from Admiral Hackett, no doubt aware of what happened. He simply wished us good hunting, so it was nice to hear that at least part of the Alliance Navy was on board with what I was doing. After an hour or so, I messaged Benezia, inviting her to my room for a drink.

She appeared a few minutes later, dressed in a rather figure hugging black dress, that flowed to the floor. She seemed to be barefoot, at least, standing shorter than normal, making little noise as she approached the empty chair opposite me. Opening the small fridge, she smiled at the bottle of wine I offered her. “Well, you do have some taste it seems, Shepard.”

“I’m actually not much of a drinker. Shiala and Liara didn’t seem all that interested in sharing a glass or two before joining me in bed. I figured…”

Handing her the glass, she simply smiled as I poured her a glass before doing the same for myself. “What should we toast, Shepard?”

“I can think of a few things but what do you hope for, Benezia?”

She looked away for a moment before returning her eyes to mine. “Redemption, Shepard. And forgiveness.”

Benezia may never have been with a human before but she was probably the greatest lover I’d had in my life up until then. I guess when you have centuries of experience, it may make up for any inexperience you have otherwise regarding certain things. All I know is that she was eager, very eager, to enjoy my cock in more ways than one. She was practically insistent that she blow me, and the sight of her on her knees, my cock buried in her mouth, her eyes wide with lust and desire, was something I simply didn’t expected. She wasn’t sure about swallowing but was happy enough for me to blast on her face, then asked me to take a photo. Asking why, she told me not to worry for now.

After we’d cleaned her face, I made sure to return the favour, and it’s always nice to receive a compliment from an asari of advanced age at how talented you are with your tongue and fingers. She was certainly turned on and eager to cum, but we both enjoyed the fact I teased her relentlessly. Once I made her cum the first time, though, her next orgasms were like a crescendo, arriving again and again rather quickly. I thought I’d wear her out doing that, but she just begged me to keep going before she asked to stop, though only so I could slide my cock inside her.

I fucked Liara. I fucked Shiala. And I definitely fucked Benezia. I don’t think I’d ever received more compliments about the size of my cock, how good it felt inside her, how good I was at fucking her, than I did that night. Maybe she was just caught up in the moment, and I could only wax lyrical at how tight and wet she was. That actually made her blush the first time I told her. “Shame Liara isn’t interested in a mother daughter threesome,” I muttered after I came in her the first time.

“Oh, that would interest you?” she wondered, a sly grin on her face.

“Well, you certainly share some similarities. Plus, I think a lot of men share the fantasy. Though I guess it could get a little weird.”

“Not if the focus is on you, Shepard.”

“Well, let’s just file that away as something that might happen in the future.”

Having Benezia on her elbows and knees later was something else entirely, particularly as I was leaning over, whispering all sorts of dirty things into her ear as I fucked her. She was loving every second of it, asking herself why she hadn’t got herself a human as soon as we appeared. “Maybe I should fuck your arse tonight too,” I grunted into her ear.

“That’s virgin territory,” she moaned back.

“No-one has been there? Waste of a fantastic arse, Benezia.”

“Play your cards right, Shepard, and you can definitely have it too.”

She proved rather flexible, eager to please, and very open minded that evening. She didn’t quite wear me out as much as Shiala, who had proven insatiable from the moment she walked into my bedroom to the moment we fell asleep, but there was no doubt Benezia was definitely make up for any lost time, admitting she’d been attracted to me very early on but had obviously been unsure as to my reaction. Lying against me as she admitted that, I simply made her cum with my fingers as I whispered into her ear, assuring her I had found her beautiful from the same moment.

I thought the reaction would have been far more negative than it was when we walked out together the next morning, Benezia making me chuckle by wearing one of my shirts, long enough to cover her arse, walking out with bare legs and feet. She definitely seemed like a new woman, asari, whatever, enough that Liara had to make a comment. “I’ve never see you look so… carefree, mother.”

Taking a seat opposite her daughter, Benezia simply smiled. “I am now free, Liara. My life as I knew it before Saren is likely at an end. Perhaps I will spend more time in human space.” She looked around the room. “You certainly are very different to us in many ways.”

“How well did you fuck her last night, Shepard?” Ashley joked.

I just smiled and carried on eating breakfast. The immediate change in Benezia was profound though perhaps not surprising. Having spent a long time on the Normandy by now, most of the crew had warmed to her, at least a little bit. The fact her relationship with Liara was now better also helped. Shiala was a lost cause but I think Benezia understood why and didn’t pursue the matter.

Any idea that I’d enjoy another night with someone else, or perhaps that threesome Shiala suggested, ended when Joker informed me later that morning the Normandy was making better progress than expected, and that the Mu Relay would be reached within that day. Now was the time for the crew to prepare for what would be perhaps the hardest so far.

It was late afternoon as we made our approach to Ilos. Joker had got us through the relay itself when I was summoned to the bridge. The CIC was calm as I walked through, receiving more than one salute as I strode forward. Pressly handed me a datapad with what we knew about Ilos as I stood behind Joker. “We’ve got company, Commander.”

“Geth?” He nodded. “They noticed us yet?”

“Stealth systems are engaged. Unless we get close enough for a visual, they won’t have any idea we’re here.”

“Got something else, Commander,” Pressly reported, “Picking up some strange readings from the planet’s surface.”

“Very well. Joker, take us down. Lock in on the coordinates.”

Pressly shook his head. “Negative on that, Commander. The nearest landing zone is two clicks away.”

There were instant murmurs of dissatisfaction. “We’ll never make it on time by foot,” Ashley stated, “Get us something closer!”

“There is nowhere closer!” Pressly retorted, “I’ve looked!”

“Drop us in the Mako,” I suggested.

“You need at least a hundred metres of open terrain to pull off a drop like that. The most I can find near Saren is twenty!”

The CIC and cockpit descended into chaos and arguments as everyone discussed the pros and cons of such a move. I already knew the response but simply thought about the chances. I figured landing two clicks away, while the safer option, would lead us exposed if an army of geth now sat on Ilos. We needed to land as close as possible. I whistled for silence, everyone going quiet immediately. “Joker?”

He knew what I was asking. “I can do it, Commander.”

Turning back, I ordered everyone downstairs to prepare and board the Mako, ordering Joker to drop us right on the head of that turian bastard. That made him chuckle, assuring me he’d do his best to comply with that order.

I would be taking the entire team along this time, no-one being left behind as I was going to need everyone to assist to take down Saren and all his geth. I’d even considered Benezia, having a brief chat with her before boarding the Mako. She was honest enough to not trust herself near Saren but offered to help out on the Normandy. Pressly didn’t mind, though wasn’t sure what she could so. She simply wished me luck, giving me a rather nice kiss, before I joined the rest. It was enough for even Liara to joke about it as we waited for the signal to drop.

Joker earned himself a medal as he dropped us on a pinhead, leaving me just enough space to engage the brakes and stop of smashing into a stone wall. And we missed by Saren by only moments. The bastard managed to lock the massive stone door, so that meant getting out on foot.

The geth were waiting, no doubt hoping to ambush us. With all the talent I now had at my disposal, all the tricks we’d learned, we may not have had numbers, but we definitely had power. Liara and Shiala mixed up their biotics. Wrex was a battering ram, I think trying to outdo me. Tali caused havoc with her tech attacks. Ashley and I simply pulled the geth into chokepoints before laying waste. Garrus disappeared and was soon picking off geth at will.

The geth had regular troops, those armed with rocket launchers, the sneaky bastards that could snipe us from distance, the quick, leaping around bastards, and also a few Armatures. Tali was magnificent during all of this, particularly when she could hack them in such a way that the geth started fighting each other. The place where we had landed was a maze, and Liara talked to herself about this being such a treasure trove and wanting to return. I thought that was a bloody good idea.

We ended up running into all manner of geth ‘monsters’ as I liked to call them. Those big fuckers that took longer to take down. There were the Primes and Juggernauts we’d seen more than once, and a few Destroyers as well. They waited at particular points, knowing we’d be heading that way to chase down Saren. Tali managed to hack and turn some Armatures against them, though we couldn’t use them for long before they turned against us.

All of us took a lick or two during all of this. Wrex needed medi-gel more than once on a couple of particularly nasty wounds. That just pissed him off even more than he already was. Ashley almost had her head taken clean off by a rocket, saved only by quick thinking from Shiala. Tali suffered a suit breach, that required us to stop for a few minutes while she cleaned and sealed the wound before doing the same to her suit. She assured me that she’d be fine the rest of the battle but she’d need to see Chakwas in the end. Even I was left scratched by one or two explosions too close for comfort.

I found a hologram that sent a chill down my spine. A final warning from the Reapers. No-one else could understand it except Shiala, noticing she turned a paler shade of blue at the voice. It was garbled, no doubt damaged by the geth, but the warning was clear. Even I felt a shudder at the final words. ‘Cannot be stopped’. But the rest was simply too damaged to really understand.

Heading back to the Mako, the way ahead was now open, all of us boarding up and heading into the bunker. What we found was simply astounding. The bunker built was the likely last refuge of the Protheans, or that’s what Liara surmised. She also figured out that many of the things on the walls around us were stasis pods. All of them appeared inactive, or that’s what our sensors told us.

A few geth also waited inside the bunker, taking out those with rockets from a distance, running over any others who were stupid enough to get in the way. I drove on until we reached a barrier, and Liara figured out quickly that it probably wasn’t one left behind by Saren.

Clambering out of the Mako, we found a doorway that led us towards another elevator, descending until we ended up on a platform, surrounded by more inactive stasis pods but also vegetation that had grown during the intervening fifty thousand years. And it’s also where we found a working Prothean VI, introducing itself as Vigil.

To say Liara was excited was an understatement. But the information Vigil provided made for grim listening. Saren had been through recently and Vigil confirmed the indoctrination theory. Vigil also confirmed the Reaper hypothesis and many other theories Liara and others had been working on. The Citadel was the heart of galactic civilisation for a reason. It was a trap, an enormous mass relay that linked to dark space, and it was through there that the Reapers would arrive. The way it all worked was that the Keepers dotted around the Citadel were ‘agents’ of the Reapers, keeping it running, allowing us to use the Citadel without discovering its major secrets.

Liara did ask plenty of questions regarding Prothean civilisation and Reaper motivations, and while Vigil could provide the answers, one of his last replies spoke volumes. “In the end, what does any of this matter? Your survival depends on stopping them, not in understanding them.”

Good enough for me, far as I was concerned. “How do I stop them?” I asked.

“The Conduit is the key. Before the Reapers attacked, we Protheans were on the cusp of unlocking the mysteries behind mass relay technology. Ilos was a top secret facility. Here, researchers worked to create a small scale version of a mass relay. One that linked directly to the Citadel: the hub of the relay network.”

Through little more than blind luck, Ilos was spared destruction during the initial Repair invasion, and as records of the laboratory were lost, Ilos isolated itself, effectively ‘going dark’, severing any contact with the outside world. While the Prothean Empire was exterminated, Ilos remained intact. But the Reapers were methodical, and it took centuries before the Reapers retreated to dark space. By then, very few scientists remained to keep rebuild Prothean numbers. Those that remaining took one way journey to the Citadel to prevent the next invasion. The Keepers were the key to everything. Changing the signal sent by the Reapers, they had prevented them beginning our very own annihilation.

“There is a data file in my console. Take a copy when you go. When you reach the Citadel’s master control unit, upload it to the station. It will corrupt the Citadel’s security protocols and give you temporary control over the station. It might give you a chance against Sovereign.”

Thanking Vigil, I ordered everyone to leave immediately. Liara pleaded with me for us to remain and ask questions, so all I could do was promise that we would return one day so she could carry on her research. It was the best I could do. Saren had a head start, and the longer we dithered, the further ahead he would get. She understood, at least.

Hopping back into the Mako, the barrier had disappeared, and I floored it. We ended up descending, following the same bunker before we ended up in flowing water. The geth were waiting, no doubt ordered by Saren to stop us at almost any cost. It was only when we crested a rise that we finally understood what the Conduit was.

“The Protheans built a mass relay,” Liara whispered in awe.

“Guess that’s our way too. Ashley, radio the Normandy and tell them to get in contact with Admiral Hackett. Tell him that Saren and the geth have invaded the Citadel and that Sovereign is likely already on its way or already there too. They need to send a fleet immediately,” I ordered.

“Aye, sir.”

“Everyone else, buckle up. This is going to get tasty.”

I floored it straight away as the mass relay lay ahead. To either side were Geth Colossi. No idea how many. Four to six if I counted correctly. Tali reported hits to the machine but I didn’t care. All that mattered was getting to the relay before it closed. Garrus fired the main cannon and machine gun, though it was pointless. I wasn’t worried about taking them down. All that mattered was the relay.

With a hundred metres to go, our shields were nearly depleted. “Hold onto your hats, people!” I yelled as the Mako surged towards the relay and then, within a second, it felt like the entire machine was weightless and we felt ourselves pulled up.

Things then went a little black as there was an almighty crash and I definitely banged my head against something.