It is a science fiction story, of the starships and space aliens kind. Most of the action takes place in a military context, as an apocalyptic threat against the galaxy emerges. It’s one of my favouritest games ever.
Writeups.org offers extensive Mass Effect coverage. The core articles are setting for Mass Effect 1 and the setting for Mass Effect 2, plus the profiles for the heroine – Staff Commander Mandala Shepard.
Unless you are highly familiar with Mass Effect, we recommend reading these articles first.
This profile is #2 in a chronological series. Here is the *first* entry for Dr. T’Soni, to be read first.
- There are S P O I L E R S in this thing.
- This profile assumes a specific video game playthrough. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.
- This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.
- This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.
- Real Name: Dr. Liara T’Soni.
- Marital Status: Single.
- Known Relatives: Matriarch Benezia (mother, deceased) and another Asari “father” (name and status unrevealed at this point).
- Group Affiliation: Director of her own intelligence brokerage ring, associate of Staff Commander Shepard.
- Base Of Operations: Illium ; later on Hagalaz.
- Height: 5’8” Weight: 140 lbs.
- Eyes: Blue Hair: N.A.
Powers & Abilities
Liara is *dangerous*.
- She was trained to operate with Shepard’s STR tactical unit.
- She has significant high-intensity combat experience.
- She’s a singularly powerful biotic combatant.
- She has become a ruthless and well-connected information broker.
- She is also extraordinarily intelligent, even by Asari standards.
The impression from the first game that she has some sort of eidetic memory is partially confirmed. Her memory, intelligence and academic training apparently allow her to process information with great speed and efficiency. She repeatedly has at her fingertips detailed and correct information about obscure subjects.
Liara seems to consider that studying the history of pre-spaceflight cultures is a relatively minor pursuit despite the huge body of knowledge that it represents. Since Samara and Shiala also seem to have a highly developed memory, it may be an Asari adaptation to their immense lifespan.
However all three of these Asari have markedly superior intelligence, discipline and biotic training. So it might be the result of personal training rather than a racial ability.
Our game stats assume that she learned some basics of the Prothean language by, errrr, studying Shepard’s psyche to understand the Prothean data and the Thorian’s data that were deposited there. This is not explicitly stated, but seems logical. It also explains why she was so much more efficient than Human researchers between ME2 and ME3.
When she goes armed, Liara prefers handguns. This way she has one hand free to direct her Mass Effect biotic fields. Shepard had a cutting-edge M-6 Carnifex and a M-9 Tempest fabricated for Liara on the Normandy. These have custom grips and a weight in the back to match her shooting techniques.
The Tempest was chosen for its similarities with the heavy handguns Liara had been trained with, and the intuitiveness of its automatic fire mode. Furthermore, the sights were replaced with those of a Master Spectre handgun Dr. T’Soni was used to.
As it turned out, having these guns prepared in case Liara worked with Shepard’s crew was a sound decision.
Gonna be the witness to the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
Liara’s signature biotic technique remains the singularity. She mentally collapses local gravity, leaving most opponents helplessly floating in the air if they’re too close to the effect’s centre.
Even defences that normally block Mass Effect manipulations don’t really work against Liara’s singularities. This can easily ruin the opposition’s day. A well-placed, well-timed singularity can turn a tough fight into skeet shooting. And a well-placed, well-timed singularity that gets detonated by a biotic warp from an ally can be an instant victory.
Though her list of biotic powers in Mass Effect 2 does not include it, she’s repeatedly seen using biotic throws in Mass Effect: Redemption. Our game stats include Throw. We assumed that her not having it in-game was just an effect of the shortened power lists in ME2.
Liara excels at taking control of the battlefield and causing chaos and disruption among the opposition. This is done biotically, using :
- Her singularities.
- Biotic warps that excel at destroying biotic barriers and heavy armour.
- Biotic suspension of a particularly dangerous foes.
- Telekinetically throwing ordinary opponents into the nearest wall.
When fighting along with Dr. T’Soni, the Commander usually brings another biotic along for a distribution of biotic one-two punches (such as detonating Liara’s singularities with a biotic warp, or having Liara warp-detonate opponents in the grip of a biotic pull).
Liara is also seen “feather falling”. This is the art of landing safely from a significant height. This is likely done through a mixture of erecting a bionic barrier and telekinetically slowing down the last phase of her fall.
At one point, she telekinetically lifts a table fit for four persons at a range of about 12 metres. She then propels it with great force to ram an opponent and shove her away.
Dr. T’soni once protected her team from a nasty biotic warp using a sort of large biotic shield. In game terms it was probably the equivalent of body-blocking the shot with her barrier on. Or perhaps Blocking the warp with her own warp as per standard DC Heroes RPG rules.
One gets the impression that young Maidens like the 108-year-old Liara are not supposed to be that powerful. Her Dark Energy output seems closer to that of a highly-trained Matron in her 500s. Furthermore, singularities are apparently an advanced technique requiring a lot of experience and biotic oomph.
Liara may be some sort of biotic prodigy. And/or she may have received elite training from Benezia during her childhood and adolescence (so about 60 years). And/or she may have inherited some unusual potential for biotics from her parents.
Her pureblood heritage may also play a role. As might the fact that both her parents were powerful biotics in their Matriarch life stage when they conceived her.
Liara doesn’t just start strong. The growth of her biotic puissance since she met Shepard is unbelievable. Between 2183 and 2186 she apparently crams several centuries’ worth of Dark Energy output growth.
In the comics, Dr. T’Soni is also seen fighting hand-to-hand while protected by a sort of force armour that amplifies the power of her blows.
As noted in our Mass Effect 2 biotics article this seems to be the vision of biotics the designers had before it had to be coded in video game terms. Various uses of biotics in cutscenes are also unlike what can be done in-game.
Our game stats merge the various representations of what Liara can do in the game itself, the game fluff and cutscenes, and the comics.
Since biotic augmentation and protection for hand-to-hand combat is something that DC Heroes doesn’t handle in a straightforward manner, a Power Reserve construction was adopted to power all of her biotic abilities. She can do everything she was seen doing – but not at once.
About the Asari – Liara’s species
Most of the new or retconned things learned about Liara’s species have to do with the ardat-yakshi condition. This is explored in our profile for the Justicar Samara.
An Asari who is ardat-yakshi has predatory instincts, and sexual psychic fusion with her is fatal. The most severe cases are serial killers with abnormal abilities, comparable to the Romantic conceptions of vampires like Lord Ruthven or Dracula.
This new information might further explain why Liara was socially awkward in her youth. Being a pureblood (the child of two Asari rather than an Asari and an alien) is not a mild social stigma. Purebloods are the ones who carry the greatest risk of being ardat-yakshi.
Purebloods apparently run into prejudice loosely comparable to transphobia among humans. In one overheard Illium conversation an Asari mentions that she did a lot of stupid things to flee the social stigma of being a pureblood, and nearly became a junkie because of it.
Many modern Asari seem to consider purebloods creepy through loose association with the most severe ardat-yakshi cases. Thus, they avoid them. This may have been doubly true for the dorky and obsessive Liara.
This is irrational. As far as we know, the entire Asari population across the galaxy in 2185 counts all of three persons with a full ardat-yakshi condition. But the very notion of an ardat-yakshi “vampire” seems viscerally repulsive to most Asari.
From a background conversation, it seems a common belief that there will be barely any pureblood births in two or three generations of Asari. Of course, “two or three generations of Asari” is at least a millennium.
Asari maturation, part 1
Another bit of information about Asari in Mass Effect 2 is that they might have a slow maturation by Human standards. A remark by one of Samara’s daughters implies that an Asari in her early 40s is the equivalent of an adolescent.
Based on this, one could imagine that Liara finished her PhD when she was in her 60s. In this hypothesis, she had been a xenoarchaeologist for about 40 years when she ran into Saren ’s forces on Therum.
One should be careful about drawing conclusions about Asari maturation rates, though. Asari cultures seem to greatly value well-processed life experience, and “experience” is defined in the context of a multi-centuries lifespan.
It is thus possible that a 40-year old Asari is close, physically and mentally, to (arbitrarily) a 25-year old human.
However, her 800-year-old grandmother would probably think that a 40-year-old knows very little about life. It’s hard for Humans to imagine a 800-year-old’s point of view about maturity, especially if Asari do have a superhuman memory.
Asari maturation, part 2
One scene on Illium features an Asari with a Salarian father. The dad states that he will soon be 35. Even with the rapid Salarian maturation his Asari daughter thus can’t be more than 23. The behaviour of the daughter would sound natural for a Human in her late teens.
It thus seems possible that Asari mature physically and mentally almost as quickly as Humans. Yet they are used to being treated as not knowing anything about life but their multi-centenarian mother until they’re 150+.
Another Asari on Illium mentions that she’s now 60 and finally got to leave her parents’ house. So this might be a common age for Asari to finish their studies.
Emotional detachment, part 1
There are in the first and second game recurrent undertones that Asari cultures feature some sort of stoic emotional detachment.
For instance Liara doesn’t seem to feel any strong emotion when her mother Benezia dies in tragic circumstances. Also the conversations between Samara and her daughters are oddly distant and formal. Though Samara mentions feeling very strong emotions when she kills Morinth, her tone and face express little.
Aethyta also describes the death of her parents in the tone usually employed to complain about mildly unpleasant weather.
From the material in the first two games, this detachment seems specific to mother-daughter relationships. “Mother” being understood here as the person who gave birth to the child.
It doesn’t seem to apply to romantic relationships. Liara is devastated by her bondmate Shepard’s death, probably more so than most Humans would. And there are weak hints that Samara was also deeply marked by a comparable tragedy.
Emotional detachment, part 2
Likewise there are multiple scenes featuring Asari having difficulties coping with the death of a lover with a much shorter lifespan. They usually prefer not to break relationships even if that means a decade or two of life with somebody they don’t really love anymore.
It is possible that the attachment to one’s bondmate is so strong as to overshadow other emotional ties. Yet the notion of Asari wanting to drift away from their mother and getting attached to their bondmate weakly suggests some sort of evolutionary drive to spread despite seemingly low fertility.
Various background scenes on Illium also feature Asari who have a positive attachment to their “father”. That is, the parent who wasn’t pregnant with them, usually an alien and quite possibly a female. This is true even if that parent died centuries ago.
Keeping a few carefully-selected mementos about the deceased short-lived parent is clearly considered very important by most Asari. Losing these is a catastrophe.
In the first game, Liara is explicitly using the term “father” to designate the non-pregnant parent in order to make things easier to understand for gendered species. By the second game the term seems to be in general use among Asari. But there’s every reason to assume that this is a shorthand used by the translation software in omni-tools to render words for “the parent who wasn’t pregnant”.
One hint of this was that Asari considered that calling the former don of Omega “Patriarch” was funny because they don’t have gendered words in their language. So the gendered-by-nature “father” is unlikely to exist in their vocabulary, except for xenobiology and xenomedicine experts.
The depiction of the texture of Asari skin also changes.
In the first game Asari had smooth and often shiny skin. But in the second it acquires a more leathery, textured look. By Mass Effect 3, fine tessellated patterns shaped like fish scales are visible all over, whereas in Mass Effect 2 they were only visible near the crests and the top of the head.
This is not so much a retcon as the shaders and lighting in the video game getting more sophisticated and detailed.
Still, the Description section in this entry includes a few No-Prize Hypotheses to make sense of Liara T’Soni’s appearance’s evolution. She’s the main Asari who associates with the hero(ine) for all three games. Thus, players see her changing as technology to render her appearance improves.
Mass Effect 2 features a broad range of Asari facial markings. This goes from persons with a solid skin colour (no markings and with the lips the same hue as the skin) to intricate markings in a colour sharply contrasting with the skin.
Cosmetics are probably involved, though. Which might be confirmed by a remark Joker will make in the third game about the Asari Councilor wearing too much makeup.
Still, it cannot be all cosmetics. Liara is not the type to wear much, especially given that she was found alone in the middle of nowhere on an obscure planet.
More about Asari reproduction, part 1
What goes on exactly when an Asari self-impregnates still isn’t clear. Two Asari in the game maintain that an Asari just uses sexual psychic contact as a randomiser seed to scramble part of the DNA of the blastocyst. This is in order to not get pregnant with a clone of herself.
Neither of these Asari is presented as a doctor or biologist, though. Plus, in context they have reasons to downplay the role of aliens in Asari reproduction.
Yet, random overheard discussions on Illium indicate that everyday Asari believe that they inherit traits from their “father” (that is, the parent who wasn’t pregnant). This normally means behaviour and preferences, since physically all Asari are 100% Asari.
Even Matriarch Aethyta makes off-hand remarks about personality traits of hers probably coming from her Krogan “father”.
The simplest explanation is that there’s no scientifically observable transmission of genetic material. There’s probably zero coital transmission of any biological material, period, except for sweat, saliva, etc.. Instead, Asari babies pattern a lot of their emerging personality after their “fathers”.
This would be congruent with the previous observation that Asari seem to form stronger emotional bonds with their “fathers” than with their “mothers”.
More about Asari reproduction, part 2
A few seconds of pondering will lead to the conclusion that Asari do not have Human-style female genitalia. But their striking similarities with Human women, the presence of a belly button and their abilities to don Human body armour in female configuration make it likely that their urinary system, birth canal and perhaps womb are very similar to Human women’s.
(Not similar, though. Everything about penile penetration and semen processing is unnecessary. And the ovulation mechanism would likely be replaced by a self-impregnation organ heavily tied to their nervous and cerebral system.)
A qui pro quo sex joke in Mass Effect 2 also implies the existence of an erogenous zone (or at least an area of erotic import) in the same general area as a Human’s vagina. Perhaps Asari coincidentally have a pleasantly sensitive nerve cluster in the crotch area.
Shepard also draws a sharp reaction from Liara at one point by doing something to her lower back. So it’s possible that the sophisticated Asari nervous system has some fun applications.
Asari psychic melding, part 1
During Mass Effect 2, an Asari — Aria T’Loak — makes a cryptic reference to Asari sexuality. It implies that Liara’s explanations on the matter in Mass Effect were the sanitised version. Aria is probably right, not to mention much more experienced than the virginal Liara.
In Mass Effect Liara was concerned about Asari Maidens being reputedly promiscuous. She insisted that it was largely people fantasizing about her species.
However, her explanations were motivated by a desire not to be mistaken for That Sort Of Maiden, Liara being much more reserved and less romantically adventurous than your typical young Asari.
She also apparently intended to make her species look good in general since she was the only Asari aboard. Dr. T’soni was concerned that the inexplicable actions of her mother might give Humans — and particularly Commander Shepard — a bad impression about Asari.
In contrast, Aria scoffs at the notion that Asari Maidens are not that sexually lively. She indicates that they have unique assets for seduction that more respectable Asari prefer to downplay. Aria strongly implies that her hetairai can easily manipulate their lovers, but how is not explained.
However, Liara described the psychic melding that is central to Asari sexuality as a rapturous experience. So a simple hypothesis is that the sexual company of an experienced Asari can be pleasurable to the point of being addictive, which would fit well with Aria’s remark.
Asari psychic melding, part 2
Since psychic melding also reveals a lot of information about one’s lover, it could also be used as intelligence gathering for improved psychological manipulation. The person with more sexual experience might perceive such things much more clearly than their partner.
Another faint clue is the presence of a bed in the office of a famous Asari consort, Sha‘ira. From dialogue about her one gets the vague impression that she can use sexual fusion as a sort of specialised psychic tool, a bit like hypnosis.
That this is an expertise Asari can develop seems likely when one considers how Shiala could telepathically transfer huge volumes of information in Mass Effect. It would also make sense given the behaviour of Morinth, an ardat-yakshi and thus the dark mirror of Asari sexuality. See Samara’s profile for more about Morinth.
Liara almost certainly does not possess whichever manipulative influence can be derived from Asari erotic skills. She is sexually inexperienced, is still something of a dorky romantic, and her seduction skills are loosely comparable to those of a barrel of doughnuts due to a complete lack of practice.
While other Maidens were experimenting, Liara was studying at the college’s library.
A word from Professor Solus
On Illium, Professor Solus makes an off-the-cuff comment about Asari living in hives with multiple persons competing to be the queen. The insectile metaphor is a bit weird. But it is possible than on the Professor’s planet this behaviour is associated with creatures that do not look like insects.
If one is willing to greatly reach, it might be a clue that the distant ancestors of Asari had a weak hive mind derived from their reproductive capabilities. Perhaps the life stages were much more pronounced and matched a role in a rigid social structure.
An overheard conversation in an Illium bar gives some players the impression that Asari have some sort of psychic ability. It would let them make themselves resemble an attractive female of the onlooker’s species, if applicable.
This hypothesis doesn’t seem sustainable. For starters that an Asari looks different in the flesh and on photos and vids would be obvious. It is probably just a persistent urban legend, perhaps made up as an improbable excuse for infidelity.
The conversation in question features a Human, a Turian and Salarian (and yes, they walked into a bar).
That Asari strikingly resemble Humans is obvious. The Turian situation is also relatively simple. From what we know by Mass Effect 2 (a Turian woman doesn’t appear until the third game), Turian sexual dimorphism is slight.
Turian females are apparently a bit smaller and more flexible than the males (perhaps their bone plates are lighter), but only one other difference from Turian males is mentioned. The main indicator of Turian femininity is the shape and volume of the bone superstructures on the head, called a “fringe” and much smaller than male superstructures.
Thus, when a straight male Turian looks at a woman, he tends to focus on cranial structures. Asari crests are apparently evocative of a sexy Turian female fringe. The Turian in the bar conversation even calls Asari crests a fringe.
The Salarian male’s attitude is puzzling, though. He makes comments about an Asari dancer making him consider tempting infidelity. But the species is repeatedly established as lacking a Human-like sex drive as it doesn’t derive satisfaction from love and/or sex.
A possible explanation is that he was completely sloshed and not making any sense. But Mordin later makes a comment about feeling some attraction toward Asari, and wondering what sort of biological mediators could possibly trigger that. This mystery might be more about Salarian males than Asari, though.
Mass Effect noted that Asari have an individualistic nature. They are not very good at collaborating on a large scale. Their militaries are best kept small, focused and with a flat hierarchy.
Asari soldiers can be extraordinary working in small commandos, but larger units would apparently be much like herding cats. This is especially true given the fickle, adventurous personality of many Maidens.
How the Destiny Ascension and its crew of 10,000 is operated is a mystery. Given the above, one suspects that it has a very specific social organisation. Perhaps something along the same lines as a prestigious Asari corporation such as Serrice. Her sailors may also chiefly be Matrons.
They imply that corporate office politics are a greedy mess and a battlefield of ambitions, that most Asari businesswomen are aggressively looking out for number one and that most Asari are quick to look down their nose toward other folks. Such as pureblood Asari, or Asari “fathered” by an alien species they don’t like.
Generally it doesn’t seem too different from early XXIst century corporate Earth.
However, as a species the Asari are not a menace. One reason is that mounting large-scale, lasting war efforts is difficult unless they’re defending themselves.
Another is that Matrons are interested in having a thriving variety of alien species close by as potential romantic partners. This avoids the dreaded possibility of ardat-yakshi births.
Asari are thus much more prone to alliances (though not necessarily fair ones) than conquest. That Asari were the first to discover the Citadel during this cycle shaped the entire cycle.
Asari blood and pathways
In Mass Effect 2, Asari blood is depicted as dark pink/violet. During the first game we hypothesised that Asari blood might use copper to transport oxygen, as their equivalent of haemoglobin. That seems falsified , since oxygenated haemocyanin is blue, not dark pink.
The copper-based haemocyanin originally came to mind through idea association with common Asari skin tones, and because Asari look descended from aquatic life forms. On Earth, haemocyanin is used in the circulatory system of marine molluscs, some arthropods like lobsters, octopi, etc.
Still, Asari blood has to use a metal ion that temporarily binds oxygen or carbon monoxide when surrounded by a ligating protein. Since they breathe in the same atmospheres as Humans, see ? Since it’s neither haemoglobin or haemoncyanin we have to turn toward more exotic binding agents.
The first oxygen-binder for a near-Human alien that comes to mind and would result in blood of that colour is haemerythrin . Haemerythrin is colorless when non-oxygenated, but pink-purple when oxygenated. Like haemoglobin it uses iron as a binder, but it oxidises oxygen in a very different manner.
On Earth, organisms using this type of blood are small – some shells, and various species of exotic worms. It seems reasonable that evolution would allow a 50-65 kilograms lifeform (a typical adult Asari) to develop using this approach, though. Haemerythrin-based blood may thus be the simplest hypothesis.
Fun with organic pathways
However, thinking about weird breathing systems evokes archaebacteria . These have been hypothesised to be alien lifeforms deposited on our planet, since they’re built so differently from how we generally do things on Earth. Thus they might be examples of alien physiology rather than simple inspiration for fictional alien organisms.
Several bacteria of this type use sulfate as an oxygen donor. Instead of oxidising what they “breathe” they perform the opposite operation, called a chemical reduction . A typical byproduct of this process is ferrous sulfide, which is brown or dark brown.
An amusing hypothesis would be that Asari use an haemoglobin-based blood just like Humans. But they also have an alien secondary biochemical pathway like that of archaebacteria which dumps ferrous sulfide in their bloodstream. Thus their blood would not be red – but violet like in the game.
(Well, for *our* definition of “amusing”, at any rate).
This secondary pathway could operate a reduction on chemicals related to sulfur, on hydrocarbons or even on metals to produce energy and power the high-performance Asari nervous system.
More power through reduction
In this hypothesis, Asari would get their energy just like Humans do. Breathe oxygen, eat food with carbon in it, start the ATP chain. However, they could have a secondary archaebacteria-like mechanism allowing them to generate extra energy by consuming, say, sulfur and iron.
This is an interesting hypothesis, since there are multiple indications in the game that Asari nervous systems are more sophisticated and can handle a much stronger amount of energy than Human nerves do.
This is why Asari normally have more biotic oomph than a Human. Their nervous systems can pump more energy into Element Zero nodules in their body and thus generate a stronger Mass Effect field.
In this fanciful hypothesis, biotically active Asari would have a diet rich in iron and sulfur. Perhaps it comes from sea food from their native planet, or through dietary supplements if local food isn’t rich enough in these elements.
Presumably they don’t themselves smell sulfurous. Asari organisms being depicted as very evolved and efficient, the hydrogen sulfide would be rapidly oxidised into a water-soluble form.
This would just leave some black sludge making their blood darker, then being processed out by a liver-like organ as a waste product (also making their urine darker).
Asari and Element Zero – pregnancies
During the first and second game, a reasonable hypothesis is that :
- The Asari homeworld Thessia is unusually rich in Element Zero, and thus…
- All Asari babies born there are going to end up with small Element Zero nodules in their body during the pregnancy.
Presumably they have about the same E0 concentration as a Human biotic by the time they’re born. One would imagine that Thessian lifeforms have all evolved to handle the carcinogenic effects of Element Zero.
In the first game we’re told that not all Asari develop their biotic abilities. But a Maiden in the second game states that all Asari are biotics. Presumably that means that even a completely untrained Asari can produce minor Mass Effect fields if she concentrates hard enough. Maybe enough to lift 20 kilograms or so.
This of course raises the point of Asari babies born from spacer parents, or on other worlds. But from a log in the second game, we know that Samara used to own a birthing creche.
If this is the common Asari practice, then they presumably give birth at home using a small medicalised structure. A one-person water tank with specialised obstetric systems comes to mind.
If this is indeed the common case, a reasonable assumption is that most such systems used off-Thessia are sold with an E0 option. It can be used at various points during the pregnancy to carefully implant small quantities of Element Zero in the embryo, and monitor any ill effect. This simulates a pregnancy taking place on Thessia.
Or it might enrich the equivalent of the amniotic fluid with E0.
It is also possible that Asari who get pregnant away from the homeworld can follow a pregnancy diet with Element Zero supplements. The goal would be for her daughter to have Thessia-level Element Zero concentrations in her body.
Asari and Element Zero – isotope enrichment
In the hypothesis of Thessia being unusually rich in Element Zero (which will be confirmed in the Codex of the third game), and in our fanciful hypothesis of a secondary pathway based on iron and sulfate reduction, another amusing possibility arises. Namely, the reduction and kinetic isotope fractionation of absorbed Element Zero.
(Yeah, our definition of “amusing” is still in effect here).
Since Element Zero behaves in physically impossible ways, it could conceivably produce significant amounts of energy from chemical reduction of very small amounts absorbed from the air, food, water, etc.
However, this rests on the notion that Element Zero doesn’t actually have an atomic number of zero as mentioned in the codex. Atomic number zero usually means neutronium. And while neutronium remains good techno-babble for hyperdense materials, having it manipulate gravity and mass is a bit of stretch.
If you want Element Zero to be literally box zero on the periodic table as in the game, the isotope enrichment hypothesis doesn’t work.
But if we assume that several stable isotopes of Element Zero exist, Asari could easily serve as living enrichment reactors to increase the amount of a higher, rarer isotope in their body. In good fantasy logic, a higher isotope would produce more intense Mass Effect fields.
An example of biological enrichment
For the sake of example let’s assume Element Zero-2 (E0-2) as the most common isotope by far and Element Zero-4 as a stable but much rarer isotope producing stronger fields when energised. This keeps the numbers low and Element Zero can’t possibly have a normal composition anyway.
This enrichment of E0-2 into E0-4 wouldn’t be fission based. Though given how much light the Justicar Samara gives off when generating biotic Mass Effect fields, one could be forgiven for assuming that she’s nuclear-powered.
Simply, the Asari absorbs quantities of Element Zero from her environment. Then these go through a chemical reduction reaction so the Asari’s metabolism can get ions for her energy needs.
However, it wouldn’t be surprising if E0-2 reacted much more quickly than E0-4 to this chemical process. This is a common phenomenon called the kinetic isotope effect.
For instance, one can get much the same chemical reactions with heavy water (D2O) than with basic water (H2O). But the heavy form can react up to 10 times slower (the “D” in the formula is deuterium – it’s simply a heavier isotope of “H” (hydrogen)).
Thus, EO-2 could get processed fairly quickly, whereas EO-4 would remain unused as it reacts too slowly and new particles of EO-2 get absorbed in the meanwhile.
The mechanical result of this would be that the ratio of E0-2 to EO-4 would slowly change over the course of an Asari’s life. The rarer and more powerful isotope gradually become more dominant in the composition of Element Zero nodules in her body.
This would explain why Asari consider that a Matron is ceteris paribus more biotically powerful than a Maiden and less so than a Matriarch. Biologically enriched Element Zero thanks to the kinetic isotope separation effect.
After a few weeks of hesitation, Liara decided to commit to her burgeoning relationship with Commander Shepard. Meanwhile, the Normandy rushed to intercept Saren in the Prothean ruins on Ilos. The showdown between Shepard and Saren would take place soon, and Liara was afraid that the Commander would be killed.
During the last leg of the flight to Ilos, she came to Commander Shepard’s cabin. The Asari youth made her wish to take their relationship to its next stage quite clear.
Both Staff Commander Shepard and Dr. T’Soni emerged in one piece from the desperate battles to save the galaxy. After an hospital stay, they both were again fit for duty. Liara joined the Normandy full-time as an academic and a biotics expert, living with Shepard.
After the battles
How long this lasted is unclear – probably 1 or 2 months. The Council had assigned the Normandy to a search-and-destroy mission against geth survivors of the Battle of the Citadel.
This was apparently to get Shepard out of their figurative hair. For the Commander insisted on the necessity of fighting the Reaper menace but could offer no proof of its existence.
During this mission, Liara presumably wrote down what had been learned about the Protheans and the Reapers on Ilos and on the Citadel. One imagines she continued to study the Prothean data gathered by the Normandy or deposited into Commander Shepard’s mind.
Given how little had been previously learned about Prothean history, her work was shaping up to be an academic blockbuster.
However, during a routine patrol, an exotic cruiser-sized ship came out of nowhere. It immediately opened fire on the Normandy, ignoring her stealth system. The first shot killed the shields and crippled the drive core.
Commander Shepard had Liara evacuate the personnel on the crew deck. Meanwhile, the officer made her way to the helm to force Joker to evacuate. The Normandy was destroyed and Commander Shepard was killed whilst rescuing Joker.
This shattered Liara.
What happens next ? What happens next ? 😀
This profile has been split into two parts since it was way larger than planned. For the second part – Dr. Liara T’Soni character profile part #3.
It is about the same length as this profile, if you count the game stats.
Source of Character: Mass Effect video game trilogy (including the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC), plus the events in the Mass Effect: Redemption comics.
Helper(s): Dr. Peter Piispanen, Eric Langendorff, Darci. Enhanced textures by Jean-Luc Fortier .
Writeup completed on the 16th of March, 2013.