Fanfic / Accidental Hero of the Galaxy

Accidental Hero of the Galaxy is a Mass Effect fanfiction written by Random Equinox. It runs as a novelization of Mass Effect 1 with a spacer/war hero Shepard, with an interesting twist - it is run as a sort of biography compiled and edited by Anderson and later Liara from Shepard's After-Action Reports and personnel evaluations. Thing is, this isn't the brazen badass Shepard that most players know. Instead, Shepard's true personality is not unlike that of Ciaphas Cain - he just wants to be someplace safe and not in the middle of the fighting, having become the hero of the Skyllian Blitz by accidentally leading a ton of batarians into an allied force that he didn't even know was there.

It has a sequel, The Hero We Deserve, and a threequel in progress, The Hero Rises, which continues Shepard's story through Mass Effect 2 & 3, and dozens of other side-stories and adventures.

This fic contains examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Shepard is only the Hero of the Skyllian Blitz (a title he hates, mainly because it gets him sent into various dangerous missions) because he missed a shuttle, accidentally ran into the slavers he was trying to avoid, and then accidentally led them to the Alliance garrison.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The vast majority of the side-missions and the entire Mass Effect 1 Cerberus side-arc get covered pretty much in the course of a single chapter. Justified because Shepard and his crew regard Hackett calling them up to take out the Alliance's dry cleaning every five minutes to be irritating and distracting from the real mission, although they never turn him down, though Shepard does have incentive in the form of monetary compensation as justification.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The work averts the source material's usage of this by splitting Shepard's squad into fire teams. While Shepard is usually heading a three-man team, Kaidan Alenko is heading up the rest. They do travel in a group for the most part.
    • The sequels do the same. Shepard only goes without his full squad a handful of times, like responding to Ronald Taylor's distress call, going on Kasumi's Loyalty Mission (need for stealth), and Grunt's Rite (they decided that if too many came along, it would be too easy).
  • Badass Bookworm: On Noveria, Shepard gets talked down to by that Asari scientist at Peak 15 who expects him to be a dumb grunt. Shepard proceeds to demonstrate a surprising amount of knowledge about her subject. He later admits that he didn't know much beyond what he said because he couldn't get through a scholarly article without dozing, which explains why he enlisted instead of going to grad school. Also comes with the territory, as he is a sniper.
  • Becoming the Mask: Despite his self-deprecation, Shepard does genuinely start to act like a hero by the end of the fic. It goes to greater lengths in the sequel.
    • By the the time The Measure of a Hero, Random Equinox's adaptation of the Arrival DLC, rolls around, he's mostly dropped any pretense of being a coward. Kinda like the later Cain novels.
  • BFG: Shepard picks up the Widow in the sequel.
    Shepard: [upon first firing it and one-hit-killing a Collector] Oh baby, where have you been all my life?
  • Constantly Curious: Shepard as per the games asks a lot of seemingly pointless questions. He admits he just likes to know the answers to all the little things in life, but occasionally some of what he learns crop up later and helps out.
  • Celibate Hero: Before and during the first story, Shepard's consistently turned down all romantic advances for various reasons: Ashley because of fraternization regs, and Liara because he doesn't want anyone to catch on that he's not the big hero everyone thinks he is, and because at the time, she's barely out of the age bracket her species regards as the teens, making her jailbait-esque in his eyes. Averted in the sequel, when he and Miranda become a couple.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: As Shepard emulates behaviors commonly performed by players in-game, his tendency to steal anything that isn't nailed down while prying up anything that is, and wandering around aimlessly on ship gave his teammates this impression.
  • Cowardly Lion: Shepard just wants boredom and safety. Too bad he keeps getting sent on extremely dangerous missions and providing results. His (usually) Paragon actions are often done in order to maintain his reputation.
  • Day in the Limelight:
  • Deadpan Snarker: Just about everyone. Even Legion. Being around Shepard brings out everyone's inner snarker.
  • Disappeared Dad: Apparently, Shepard's dad. Nobody knows where he is. He shows up in a side-story.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: More or less averted for most of the series, but apparently, all those Male Gaze shots from the game were Shepard eyeing up Miranda.
  • Double Tap: After Shepard kills Kai Leng, he empties a full clip from his SMG into him, fries him with an EMP, blows his head apart with his sniper rifle, and then sets him on fire. He claims its just to make sure, because he's read the Evil Overlord List.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Shepard is in complete denial about this.
  • Expy: Shepard, and the story in general, are very visibly inspired by Ciaphas Cain(HERO OF THE IMPERIUM)
  • Friendly Sniper: Being an Infiltrator (tech/combat mixed class that favors sniper rifles) Shepard prefers to stay far away from the shooting. Unfortunately he keeps finding himself charging headfirst into combat wondering what he's doing. The friendly part comes from the fact that he's a (secretly) heroic and incredibly nice guy, if with an equally hilarious prankster streak.
  • Footnote Fever: Justified, as the story is apparently compiled from Shepard's after-action reports, and Shepard (as well as Anderson and Liara) help fill in some of the gaps. In addition, the story is based at least partially on the Ciaphas Cain novels, which made extensive use of footnotes as well, and in much the same manner- snarky asides, clarifying certain points, and interjecting personal opinions on the part of the author of the footnotes.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Shepard really hates being called a hero, and all the medals, accolades, important missions, and especially the god-awful statue that comes with it. In his opinion, heroes are just people who weren't smart enough to be elsewhere at the time of danger, lucky enough to survive something that others weren't, and icons that other people find easier to focus on instead of all the other people that were lost and all the other difficult issues.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Garrus. He even gets offended when Shepard jokingly refers to an Atlas as his best friend.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: After Shepard confronts a couple of looters in Omega, his teammates jokingly give him a hard time, forcing Shepard to admit that yes, it's hypocritical of him to condemn looters given his personal predispositions. Zaeed goes so far as to claim he thought Shepard didn't like the competition.
  • Insistent Terminology: In the sequel, Shepard's working with Cerberus. Not for Cerberus.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Downplayed. Shepard's smart enough to bring stealth experts Thane and Kasumi with him to rescue Kenson, allowing him to escape much earlier than in canon and broadcast warnings to the batarians in-system. It doesn't help much, thanks to the batarians not believing his warnings about the relay.
  • Kill It with Fire: Shepard really likes using the Incinerate power. He references his growing pyromania on more than one occasion.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: As in the games, Shepard will steal anything that's not nailed down, tied to something, or being watched by somebody (and sometimes even then). It gets lampshaded in Chapter 17.
    Kaidan: You'll be fine, Garrus. If you're ever in doubt, just ask yourself 'What Would Shepard Do?'
    Garrus: Oh that's easy. Search every nook and cranny, open everything that isn't locked down and hack open anything that is. Even in the middle of a battle.
    • Lampshaded again later, when they point out that his kleptomaniac tendencies are improving - he's not doing it during combat anymore.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Shepard is a master of this, at least internally. When it's mentioned that the core of the Citadel is inaccessible (during a discussion about the Keepers) he immediately points out how unsettling that is. On Noveria he also wonders how Benezia snuck multiple geth turrets and armatures past the weapons checks.
  • Large Ham: In The Hero Rises, covering Mass Effect 3, Shepard hams it up during the Grissom Academy mission while piloting the Atlas mech, belting out a modified version of the Rifleman's Creed. He points out that doing so keeps fire off the students and his teammates, makes sure that everyone knows he's friendly, and it's just fun.
  • Lemony Narrator: Shepard freely snarks in his after-action reports that the story is compiled from. The footnotes from Anderson and Liara get in on this occasionally.
  • Ludicrous Precision: Seems to be Miranda's shtick here.
  • Meaningful Echo: Miranda starts off The Hero Who Loved Me thinking that all heroes are either idiotic, naive and idealistic fools that are willfully ignorant to the real world, or manipulative and cunning enough to make themselves look that way to the gullible public, and spends some time wondering where Shepard fits in. At the story's end, when Shepard tells her why he hates being called a hero, she tells him her original musings on the different kinds of hero, then tells him that there's also the kind of hero that he is: the kind that is honest, brave, selfless, caring, steadfast and who makes the world and everyone he meets better.
  • Medal of Dishonor: Shepard reveals to Miranda that he views all his decorations this way, thinking of them as rewards for getting into situations that someone smarter would have foreseen and avoided.
  • Mythology Gag: Elevators. After a certain point he just skips over the elevator rides. In the sequel during Miranda's loyalty mission he brings them up again when Miranda zaps the elevator with her omnitool, shutting off the music and speeding up the ride.
  • Not in the Face!: On Sur'Kesh, Shepard is desperately trying to find a way to defuse the standoff between his team and Wrex and the salarians. He eventually blurts this trope out, confusing the other side long enough for the tension to subside.
    Shepard: Please don't shoot my face.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: The Hero Who Loved Me, an alternate telling of ME2 from Miranda's perspective, and how she fell in love with Shepard.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Many of the persuasion options in the game that avoid fights are used because Shepard really dislikes putting himself in danger.
    • His Kleptomaniac Hero tendencies are also partly this as his looting allows him to continually upgrade his team's weapons/armor. Either by grabbing better gear, or by getting the funds to purchase said better gear.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous. Shepard's a stated fan of "ancient" music, meaning that he tends to have a lot of music from the 1960s-2000s on his omnitool. He has a habit of playing "Don't Fear The Reaper" over the Normandy's PA before the final missions.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Emily Wong. She replaces Diana Allers on the Normandy.
  • Take a Third Option: Shepard's solution to the dilemma at the end of Legion's loyalty mission. Instead of rewriting or deleting the Geth Heretics, he chooses to use the virus to deliver a What the Hell, Hero? speech at the entire Heretic collective, briefly inflicting it on them to show "This is what you were going to do to your fellow Geth. How does this feel?"
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives a scathing one to the Quarians after getting involved in another conflict with the Geth.
  • Tranquil Fury: Miranda, upon finding out what Gavin Archer did to his brother. Even Jack takes a step back.
    Miranda: Then we're going to find Archer. I think I'd like a word with him.
  • The Trickster: Shepard is a mix of this and a Guile Hero. If there is an in-game option to persuade someone to do something, Shepard takes it. He's also apparently a prankster, with various incidents during his time in training (that are detailed in other fics by the author) and a habit of nailing most of his entire crew on April Fool's Day. He also took great relish in probing Uranus and trolled Kasumi to a degree by walking back and forth in front of contact advertisement until she got annoyed - just to see what she would do.
  • True Companions: As in the games, Shepard and his squad. It's one of the reasons he takes Kaidan's What the Hell, Hero? on Horizon so personally. It comes to a head during the escape from the Collector base, when it's not just his two in-use squadmates providing cover, but every member of the team that's certified in the use of long-range weapons.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: His teammates often crack jokes at Shepard's kleptomania. He's eventually forced to concede that giving a couple of looters a hard time is hypocritical (Shepard has literally made millions of credits doing so at this point).