Mass Effect: True Blue

BY : Ryswell
Category: +M through R > Mass Effect
Dragon prints: 4627
Disclaimer: I make no money from this story. I do not own the Mass Effect franchise.

AN: Set in a Mass Effect AU where humans joined the Citadel earlier than in canon, there are no Reapers to worry about, and Shepard isn't the first human Spectre. Those are just a few among a number of twists and tweaks to the established Mass Effect lore. Other canon characters besides Matriarch Benezia will appear, some altered and some staying mostly the same.


2180

The Presidium

The asari stared down at the peaceful lake from the balcony of her office, watching the denizens of the Presidium walk about. Some of them moved quickly, weaving through the light crowds that filled the lakeside commons, rushing to get to their destinations wherever they might be. Those were the couriers, the upstart businessmen, the people who saw it as heresy to waste even a second of their precious time.

Others moved slowly, their steps calm, deliberate. These people could move slowly because they could afford to. Meetings waited on them, not the other way around. Business was done on their time.

Lady Benezia could relate. With a few rare exceptions, of course.

Exceptions like today. The human was running late. A human Spectre agent to be fair, but a human nonetheless.

The Citadel's newest arrivals had quickly made it clear that they were not beholden to tradition or ceremony. In fact, they seemed to make a point to dismiss such things at any opportunity. Only fifty years had passed since their first contact with the salarians but the humans, represented by their "Alliance", had already built a firm reputation of being classless brutes. Brutes who barrelled through bureaucracy, politics, tradition, and slavers all the same.

And young asari maidens can't get enough of them, Benezia thought ruefully. The woman frowned, once again flashing open her omni-tool to observe the time. Twenty minutes late now. Ridiculous.

She flashed her omni-tool again, bringing up the holo of the Spectre's file. She had his name, his age, his photo, and his Alliance service record prior to his Spectre induction. The rest was classified by Council decree. Not even Benezia's connection to Tevos could grant her access to what was behind the "black ink".

Agent Gabriel Montes. Thirty-two years of age. A child by asari standards. The Alliance - and the Hierarchy - called him a war hero. The batarians called him a war criminal. The man had built his career on culling slavers in the Terminus Systems. And today he wanted to meet with Benezia T'Soni personally.

Benezia glared at the holo. She wasn't one to believe in old superstitions, but the elder asari hoped her anger would manifest as discomfort for the man, wherever he was.

A soft beep sounded at the asari's wrist. Her receptionist's soft voice came through, accompanied by the soft buzz of short-wave audio transmissions.

"Lady Benezia, your afternoon appointment is here."

"Thank you, Layana. Send him in." Benezia pursed her lips. Despite the affront to asari customs displayed by his tardiness, the centuries-old woman was looking forward to meeting the man. She would get a measure of the Spectre who thought a Matriarch's time was worthless. And then she would get her petty revenge, sending him on his way like a scolded child. A dog with his tail between his legs, as the charming human saying went.

Benezia heard him before she saw him, heavy armored boots thumping against the floor. The automatic doors slid open and a looming mass strode forth into Lady Benezia's office. Centuries of learning the value of poise and grace helped Benezia keep her composure, but even then she was struck silent for the briefest moment.

Agent Montes was large. Benezia knew she shouldn't have been surprised. She saw his biometrics in his file. Six feet, three inches was listed as the human's height. Freakishly tall by asari standards. Adding on to that was his bulk. The wide shoulders and thick arms were common among males of his species, particularly the martial types. The same went for the human's flat torso, solid like a slab of rock, and the narrow waist leading down to thick, powerful legs.

Human males made for ugly asari. But as aliens, they were exotic. Alluring, even. Perhaps that was why they were such popular choices for adventurous asari maidens. And the human standing in Benezia's office was as alien as could be. Which made his few clearly asari features all the more vexing.

Montes' face was so un-asari with its hard lines and sharp features. His brow and jaw were too pronounced. His neck was far too thick. But his lips, surrounded by harsh bristles that humans called "hair", were full and delightfully plump. And his eyes, a dazzling blue-green, were near-enchanting.

Benezia smoothed out the fabric of her outfit's long skirt. Asari business attire was much less formal than salarian, turian, or even human counterparts. Today, Benezia wore a gown of white Nevosi silk, snug around her belly and hips but loose around her calves and ankles. Like all asari, Benezia was well aware of her own beauty. Naturally, she dressed to accentuate it. But now with this human in the room with her, cutting an admittedly intimidating presence in his heavy armor, Benezia felt a tinge of… vulnerability. This, despite the kinetic barrier harness sewn into the fabric of her dress.

"Miss T'Soni," The Spectre greeted, his low voice rumbling from deep in his chest. Not gravelly like a batarians or nasally like a salarians. His voice wasn't musical like an Asari's or a Quarian's. It was clear, strong, and almost pleasant to listen to. Almost. He gave a short bow, as one would expect from a fellow asari. "Thank you for your time."

Two centuries ago, Benezia's heart would have been fluttering. Five centuries ago, she might have already flung herself into his arms, such was the spirit and daring of her youth. But today, at a respectable eight hundred and sixty years, Benezia T'Soni had long since sated her desire for alien company. She was no longer the blushing maiden, sent swooning at the sight of an exotic potential lover.

Benezia gave a short bow in turn, bringing an official start to… whatever this meeting was.

"I must admit, this is quite unusual." Benezia began, taking a seat at her desk. She gestured to one of the chairs opposite to her, inviting the human to join her. "It's not often that a Spectre agent requests an audience with me. To what do I owe this… Occasion?"

The human, Montes, spared the empty seat a quick glance… And ignored it. Instead, he moved right up to Benezia's desk, boots thumping with each step. His face remained mostly passive, keeping an even expression but for the small quirk in his lips, a grin that wasn't quite friendly but wasn't overtly mocking, either. Benezia wasn't sure if the man was trying to intimidate her or was simply acting the way humans were known for.

"I understand that you're a busy woman, Miss T'Soni." His voice cut through the air, deep and clear. Such was the way humans were often compared to krogan: their presence in a room was often unmistakeable. Montes' omni-tool flashed open, bringing up a holo-image of a very familiar face. "I'll just get right to the point. You have a daughter: Dr. Liara T'Soni."

For a moment, Benezia's blood ran cold. A Spectre had requested an audience with her out of the blue and now her daughter was involved. Possibilities raced through her mind. Terrible possibilities.

"Is she in trouble? Has something happened to her?" Benezia found herself asking, the words tumbling out of their own accord. Matriarchs had unparalleled restraint but there were few things in the galaxy more powerful than a mother's concern. Then she was rising from her seat, more questions ready to come flying from her lips.

"Your daughter is fine." Montes told her calmly and firmly. He raised a gloved hand, gesturing for her to stay seated. "Nice and safe back on Thessia. She's got a nice, cushy job at the Grand Prothean Museum in Armali, right?"

"Yes." Benezia nodded, feeling a sudden rush of relief. She exhaled through her nose, mentally chastising herself for having such an emotional display in front of a stranger - and a human, no less. "She was elated when they called her back after her interview."

"It's a very prestigious job from what I've read." Montes grinned down at her. She caught a flash of something in his eyes. Something less than savory. "And we both know she didn't earn it."

The relief Benezia felt was gone. As was the fear. Now, all the Matriarch could feel was a sudden rush of anger. How dare this lowly human insult the T'Soni family, insult Liara, in Benezia's own office. She stood then, pointing a finger accusingly at the human lout, a faint aura of biotic energy dancing across her body. An ancient asari intimidation tactic that never failed to get a response.

"That's absolutely preposterous." Benezia spat, sneering at the man across from her. Her glare, refined by centuries of experience, was surely burning itself into human's mind. "My daughter is one of the most brilliant minds in her field. If anything, she's overqualified."

"Is that why you had to bribe the Armali Historical Board to hire her?"

Benezia nearly recoiled as the words seemed to strike her across the face. That's what it had felt like, at least. The flame inside her wilted then into a mere simmer.

No, she thought adamantly. He's bluffing. He has to be. There's no way he has any proof.

"First you insult my daughter, now you're launching wild accusations against my character. Me. A matriarch of the T'Soni line." Benezia maintained some measure of composure, glowering as well as any turian. "Hmph. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Humans aren't known for their intelligence."

Montes didn't take the bait. As large and brutish as they were, humans weren't krogan. And from the knowing grin on this human's face, Benezia had a dreadful feeling that her worst fears had been realized.

"Not an accusation, Miss T'Soni. Truth. And evidence to support it."

The Spectre made a few keystrokes on his omni-tool and a moment later there was a ping at Benezia's personal desk terminal. The Matriarch pressed her lips into a thin line, her mouth suddenly as dry as the drell homeworld. The dread, the anxiety, they returned tenfold.

Benezia opened her terminal… And her heart sank. The human hadn't been bluffing. Staring back at her from her holo display was evidence, indeed. Damning evidence. Bank statements, transaction archives, audio recordings. They were all copies, of course. Not even a human would be stupid enough to hand over his own blackmail material.

Blackmail. The word rang through her head like a clock tower bell. Her shoulders slumping in defeat, the asari sank back into her chair. This man means to blackmail me, she realized then. The feeling of dread settled in the pit of her belly, heavy like a stone.

Montes moved around Benezia's desk so that he was standing beside her, looming over her. She briefly had the thought to toss the human into the nearest wall with a biotic throw, a fantasy of defiance fueled by the embers of her lingering anger. But Benezia thought better of it and kept her hands clenched upon her desk.

"Humans are known for their ruthlessness." Montes spoke again, his tone lower now. Lower and more severe. He leaned on her desk, crossing his arms over his armored chest. The grin he had sported was gone, replaced with a cold, stony expression. "I will leak this info to the Armali press. Citadel press, too. Your credibility will be destroyed. So will your daughters. I expect the same for the Armali Historical Board. And who do you think they'll blame for that? Your daughter's name will be poison. She'll never get hired in the field again. Is that what you want?"

Benezia felt her heart sink even further into despair. The man's words were cold venom, the nightmare he was speaking slithering its way into her thoughts. She imagined it as if it were real, a dreadful future for the T'Soni family. A young maiden's future destroyed by the very actions her mother took to secure it.

"Do you want money?" She asked, her voice shamefully small and quiet. In that moment, she hated this human. Hated the man called Gabriel Montes. Hated how tall he was, hated his bulk, hated how small he made her feel. She looked up at the Spectre, leveling her eyes with his. His blue-green eyes. Dazzling. Roguish. Cunning. She hated them, too.

"I'm a Spectre. I have plenty of connections and they all have deep pockets. I'm not looking for extra credits." His eyes glimmered with something more just then, something that unsettled the matriarch. It was a look that males, no matter the species, tended to have. Especially around asari. An unmistakable hunger. "My demands are much… simpler."

The human broke their held gaze then. She felt his eyes on her body, roaming over every curve. Benezia was suddenly aware of how form-fitting her business attire was. Of how she had chosen this gown specifically because of the way it accentuated her figure. His intent was more than clear. Benezia felt a chill spread across her skin... Followed by a wave of disgust crashing against her body.

In hindsight, Benezia should have expected this the moment Agent Montes walked into her office. Not only was he human, he was male. Asari beauty was desired throughout the stars, but especially by males - An oddity that was pondered by asari thinkers for nearly three millennia. A human male might find an asari matriarch to be a conquest among conquests. The thought sent a shudder down Benezia's back.

"You can't mean it." Benezia couldn't hide the enmity in her voice. She leaned back, inching away from the human brute, hoping fruitlessly that she could escape his hungry gaze. "Why?"

Montes gave a low chuckle. It was deep and rumbling sent Benezia's belly into flips. "Lady, have you looked in a mirror? That's why."

Her aunts had warned her about this, Benezia remembered. The price of grace and unmatched beauty. Even with all of the accomplishments of Thessia, even with all the steps taken in the name of diplomacy, unity, and understanding, even with the respect and admiration of the entire galaxy, there would still be those who would dare to take, to possess, to claim asari as playthings. As pets.

Everything I've done for my people… Everything I've done for my family… And this human just wants to get me into bed. To take me. To violate me.

"You're disgusting." Benezia whispered, scowling at Spectre Montes, at his dumb, grinning face. Finding the fire of anger again, even for just a moment, the matriarch rose from her chair. "You're a damned brute. You and the rest of your… barbaric race!"

Montes was unfazed. Maddeningly, his grin spread into a wolfish smile. He pushed off from Benezia's desk, standing again at his full height. Towering over the seething matriarch.

"And your daughters can't seem to get enough of us." He said plainly. "One of the galaxy's great mysteries. Tomorrow evening you can figure it out for yourself."

The words came as a shock.

"...Tomorrow?" Benezia repeated, aghast. A number of biting retorts entered the asari's mind, including a swath of insults against the human's questionable parentage. She opened her mouth to let loose a well-deserved verbal strike, but her moment was struck dead before it even began. Montes was already heading for the office door.

"I've already sent the details to your terminal. You'll find an address listed there." The human called over his shoulder. He stopped at the door and turned halfway, taking the opportunity to cast his eyes over Benezia's body again. The hungry look in his eyes made her feel weak. Vulnerable. Naked.

"Big bad human Spectre needs to blackmail a woman into his bed?" She didn't know where her sudden ferocity came from. And for a brief moment she feared she might have ruined her daughter's future.

But Montes only laughed. Another low chuckle rumbling deep in his chest. Benezia hated that his disregard of her only made her feel worse.

"Need's got nothing to do with it. I want you in my bed." His words were clear, firm, and cut right down to her bones. "And if those bribes you made are going to stay buried, then the only thing that should matter to you is what I want. You understand?"

Benezia felt her lips trembling but she wouldn't dare allow herself to shed tears in front of this animal. A matriarch needed to maintain her dignity. And he didn't deserve the satisfaction.

"...I understand." She said, finally.

"Good. Show up to the address tomorrow evening. Alone." He stroked his chin, thinking. "Wear something nice. Sexy. And who knows? You might enjoy yourself."

And then he was gone. Leaving Benezia T'Soni alone in her office with nothing but dread, anxiety, and fear to keep her company. That, and the tiniest sliver of hope that she just saved her daughter's career from being destroyed.

It seemed so awfully simple: As long as she did what the human wanted, her family was safe. Any mother would have taken that deal, Benezia knew.

But realization began to set in within minutes of the Spectre's departure. Tomorrow, she was going to surrender herself to his whims. His desires. No matter how wicked or depraved they were. Tomorrow, she was going to join him in bed. And do everything such an action would entail.

"By the Goddess…" Benezia moaned, sinking back into her chair. Fingers pressing into her temples, the asari grappled with the gravity of her situation. "What have I just agreed to?"



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