She walked alone through the tall, wrought-iron gates as she had so many times before and into the lush, green reserve that bore the name Shepard's Park. The trees had grown so tall since the first time she came here. Back then they were just hastily planted saplings that only came up to her waist. Now they towered over her and shaded the people in the park from the hot afternoon sun. A light breeze stirred from the east and blew pleasantly in and around the trees rustling the leaves and branches. Liara couldn't help but smile as the cool breeze caressed her skin as she strolled towards the center of the sprawling park to the only building, the only construct on the three hundred acre lot.
Here and there people enjoyed the beautiful weather playing games, walking among the trees or having picnics as chirping birds looked down from the branches and dogs frolicked in the grass. Many took notice of her, being one of the few Asari on planet, as she elegantly strolled along in her human style sun-dress, carrying a bouquet of flowers and a small back-pack.
There were no sidewalks or benches just open ground lovingly cared for by a cadre of volunteer workers from across the galaxy. It was so achingly peaceful and quiet here because no non-sentient tech was allowed in the park and no craft could over-fly it. Liara was glad of that, if anyone deserved peace and quiet it was Shepard.
In the center of the park on a small hill was the reason people made pilgrimages from the farthest reaches of the galaxy, the Shepard Monument. The immense sculpture seemed to climb out of the very ground it sat upon. Fourteen marble arches, one for each spacefaring race, sprouted out of the center, rose to ten meters and rooted themselves back into the ground at equa-distant points of the great circle.
These arches supported a huge round platform that had names inscribed all around its rim. She approached it from the back as always and walked around the monument reading each name in turn, remembering them all as they were all those years ago, some more special to her than others. Tali, she was such a courageous and giving person. Liara counted her as one of her greatest friends in life. Garrus, the confident, wise-cracking brother Shepard never had. Wrex, the abrasive, grumpy, nasty member of the family with a heart of gold. Jeff 'Joker' Moreau, the smart-ass cousin that no family re-union would be the same without. The list went on and Liara felt the familiar tightness in her chest as she saw the names, remembered the faces, and relived the past.
Coming around to the front, she gazed down the length of the only walk-way in the park. The five meter wide cement path stretched out from the front of the monument and ran four hundred meters to where it ended at the base of a twenty-five meter column that supported a bronze replica of the Normandy, its nose tilted up as if it was soaring through space.
She turned from this and lifted her gaze to the platform. Set at the front of the platform was a bier that held a three meter high eternal flame that flickered around in the breeze and illuminated the tall bronze statue behind it. A proud, calm and confident Commander Sarah Shepard stood in full armor, her left foot slightly ahead of the right, her right hand gripped a Mattock assault rifle pointed to the ground and her left hand reached out palm up in friendship. The design committee stated that it showed her deadly, tough no-nonsense side and the side of her that promoted unity and peace throughout the galaxy.
'That's what the people needed', Liara thought, but preferred to remember the loving look in her brilliant green eyes, the soft touch of her fingers as they caressed Liara's body, the feel of her warmth and love that was for Liara alone. Liara sighed in wistful misery wishing she could feel that again, and then giggled thinking what her version of the statue would look like.
She stopped and again read the plaque that she memorized long ago: "Dedicated to Commander Sarah Shepard. Marine, Infiltrator, Leader, Icon. She epitomized the very best of all races in the galaxy. With uncommon determination, deadly skill, profound empathy, valor, integrity and selflessness she united the races of a divided galaxy to face the Reaper hordes and battle extinction. With her final act, she gave her own life to save all sentient beings in the galaxy and brought an end to the Reaper cycle forever. With that act she avenged the countless races destroyed by the Reapers, freed us from destruction and saved our future."
'That does not say enough.' Liara thought as she moved away. 'There is no way to ever say enough.'
She walked down the cement pathway and only glanced at the Normandy statue as she continued on past it and climbed a small hill three hundred meters beyond it. The top of the hill was covered with a tight stand of tall elm trees. Their branches swayed in the growing breeze as Liara approached the outer edge of the grove.
A Krogan grounds-keeper holding a shotgun stepped out from between two trees and greeted her. "Ambassador T'Soni, it's good to see you again." The Krogan grounds-keepers doubled as guards for the park and for this grove of trees in particular. Selected from the best among Arlakh Company, these Soldiers gladly pledged themselves to Shepard, the Grande-Battlemaster, and guarded her with their lives. Less than fifty people were allowed to enter this place and they ensured that only those people got in.
"And you also, Urdnot Gratch." She said with a slight smile. "May I go in?"
The hulking Krogan stepped to the side and gestured with a hand. "Of course, the Grande-Battlemaster has been waiting for you, I'm sure." He said reverently.
"Thank you." She said with a slight nod.
"An honor, Ambassador."
Liara wound her way through the trees until she came to a small clearing. In the center of the clearing was the only bench in the park, a four by eight marble slab and a simple tombstone. Liara walked to it slowly and placed the flowers by the stone, then sat on the bench with one hand lovingly atop the marble marker.
"I'm back, my love." She whispered feeling her heart break again as if Sarah's death just happened. "I've missed you." She managed as a few tears escaped and ran down her cheeks.
After a few moments, she opened the pack and removed two glasses and a bottle of whiskey. "So, I'm sure you want to hear about your crew. They were your family after all." She opened the bottle and poured the brown liquid into the glasses the way Sarah taught her, "Three fingers at a time." She poured a little on top of the marble slab in front of the stone like Admiral Hackett used to and placed the glass by the flowers.
"It's been a hundred years to the day as you humans count time. I keep thinking about how we would have spent those years together." She took a sip of her whiskey. She didn't really care for it, but it was Sarah's favorite, so whenever she visited her love, the strong earth drink was all she ever brought.
"Well, back to the crew. I was sure more of them would have lived this long, but fate determines that not just long-life spans." She sighed softly before going on. "Grunt was killed in the Vorcha War last year. He saved a Salarian village of all things by holding a key bridge while the civilians evacuated."
She absently took another sip and stared off into the tree-line. "Miranda Lawson died a few months ago. It was a stroke. I know she was happy up until it happened. She loved taking care of children and Orianna's daughters provided plenty of those for her to watch after. She spoke of you often, you know. I think she always wanted to be more like you."
"So that is it, my love. I'm the last one." She said morosely. "Long life spans can be a terrible curse, Sarah. The only blessings are seeing your children grow to become good people, and for me, you. But I miss you so. Sometimes I think of how EDI just turned herself off after Joker died. She just couldn't live without him. But I at least have a part of you still. You would have been a fantastic father, I'm sure." Again, she reached out and caressed the cold marble stone as if were her long lost love.
"Speaking of that, your daughter has been creating quite a stir. It seems either your legend or your genes have finally taken hold. After satisfying my demand of finishing her education, she has run off and joined the United Galactic Marines. Yes, she went straight into the N7 Program." A small smile graced her lips as she thought of their daughter. "Elena seems to have a gift for tactics and violence." She glanced at the tomb-stone wryly for a moment. "I wonder who she got that from?" Liara had given up on what the scientists said about the father's genetics in Asari offspring. In Elena it was just too strong to ignore. "Anyway, Elena, er
Lieutenant Elena T'Soni-Shepard took her platoon to a merc-slaver space-station, infiltrated through an inactive thruster port, killed or captured the sixty man crew and saved all the slaves on-board within an hour. You would have been so proud of her. I see that same gleam in her eye that you had going into a fight. She is so like you. I wish you could have known her and her you."
A few moments passed as Liara sat there crying softly, remembering the past. Remembering her only love. "I wish I could hold you again, Sarah, and curl up next to you as we watch home vids of Elena. Her first steps, school plays, cello and dance recitals. It may have been a hundred years since you destroyed the Reapers, but it still seems like yesterday to me." Her tears flowed freely again, puctuated with soul rending sobs that wracked her shoulders, as she said, "I'm so lonely and I miss you with all my heart." It just seemed so unfair. Unfair to Elena, herself and mostly to Sarah. She deserved so much more in life. Happiness denied her by cruel fate.
A soft voice behind her brought her out of her reverie. "Ambassador?" A slim, lithe, green eyed Asari in Marine dress uniform stepped between two trees and walked gracefully to the bench.
"I've asked you not to call me that, Elena, or should I start calling you lieutenant?" She said as she quickly dried her eyes and forced a smile for her daughter.
The young woman's lips ticked up in a wry smile just as her fathers used to. "Well, you are the Asari Ambassador to the Galactic Senate, but ok, only in public, mom." She reached over, took Liara's glass, saluted the grave marker with it and downed the rest of the whiskey in a gulp. "Here's to you, dad." She whispered reverently before sitting next to her mother.
Liara rolled her eyes and turned back to the tomb-stone. "She is so like you, Sarah."
"I will take that as a compliment, mom. And dad should, too." Elena said with a big smile on her face. "I'm dating someone new." She added conspiratorially as she leaned toward her mother.
Liara looked up, happy for her daughter. "Tell me. Who is it?"
Elena put her hands on the bench, leaned forward and lifted her gaze to the shifting branches above. "She's a lieutenant in Delta Company. Tough, hard as a Krogan's head, smart and gorgeous. Her name is Breanna." She looked at her mother with a sly twist on her lips. "Breanna Williams."
Liara's eyes widened slightly. "Ashley's grand-daughter, Breanna?"
"The very same! Goddess she's something else." Elena added wistfully as she took another drink and looked into the glass admiringly. "Mmm, I really like this stuff."
"That is not surprising, don't drink too much." She cautioned.
Elena groaned in fake exasperation. "Ninety-nine and my mother still tells me what to do
The young woman looked at her mother seriously and noted the redness and unshed tears in her eyes. She had grown up with all the stories of heroic Commander Shepard. When she was younger, the battles and adventures of her father both terrified and captivated her. But it was the stories her mother told her that she really loved the most. How Sarah went out of her way and put herself in danger so many times for her friends, crewmen and people who just needed help.
She filled the glass again and took a sip before reaching over and placing a gentle hand on her mother's shoulder. "Tell me about her again, mom." She asked softly. "You know, the way you used to when I was a kid. Start from when you met."
Liara remembered all those times when the small girl would wander into her room, climb into Liara's bed and insist on a story about her dad before going back to sleep.
As the sun fell behind the trees Liara started to tell her daughter again how a young human woman rescued her from a Prothean dig-site and saved her from a Krogan War-Lord and a Geth company. Soon the bottle was nearly empty and they were laughing and crying the evening away together.
For just a little while, Liara had her family together.