Author's Note: It's been almost a year since this little exercise first started, evolving from a way to get some ideas out of my head into a full-fledged novelization. One of the greatest joys of this is the feedback I got from readers who enjoyed my interpretation of Shepard. So I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a sincere "Thank you" to everyone who has posted reviews.

To all those reviewers who have asked, I am planning anything similar for Mass Effect 2, which I have decided to call "The Hero We Deserve". I must warn you that it will be some time before it's ready, mostly because I'm still playing through the game, getting ideas on what Shepard might note and pondering how he might react to the latest life-threatening situation. Therefore, I'll borrow something from Blizzard Entertainment's playbook to answer the inevitable follow-up question of when readers can expect to see The Hero We Deserve:

"When it's ready."

And now, without further ado, the conclusion to Accidental Hero of the Galaxy.

I didn't really see much of the squad after what some dimwit was already calling "The Battle of the Citadel." (1) For starters, I had suffered some internal bruising and bleeding. Nothing too serious by modern medical standards, but it did require a few hours of initial observation. Dr. Chakwas insisted I stay for an additional thirty-six hours of observation, 'just to make sure'. Trust me; you do not want to go toe-to-toe with her on medical matters. I tried, and I still have nightmares over that encounter. Not that I'll admit it, of course. Bad for my rep.

Anyways, by the time I got out, everyone was neck-deep in work.

Kaidan was working his ass off handling the day-to-day operations of the Normandy. While I was slacking off in sickbay, Pressly assumed my duties as acting captain. Which meant someone had to take his place as XO. As exasperated as he might have been with all the paperwork, I think Kaidan was relieved to be doing something other than trying to fix that malfunctioning display panel for the umpteenth time.

Garrus had gone back to C-Sec. Officially, his resignation had been 'buried under paperwork' and had never been filed. Instead, he'd been on paid vacation this entire time—apparently, Garrus had never taken a single day off since he joined C-Sec, and subsequently accrued a heck of a lot of time. Anyways, the Citadel was in such a state of chaos—what with people searching for loved ones, workers trying to assess or jury-rig fixes, and looters doing what they do best—that C-Sec needed every able body they could find.

Tali was helping to fix some of the other ships that had limped into dock and had suffered more damage to the Normandy... which meant every other ship out there. She faced some resistance at first, what with her being a quarian and concerns that she was 'stealing' other people's hard-earned jobs. However, that quickly evaporated when she demonstrated her competency. I believe the turning point was when the captain of some ship caught the chief engineer having sex with some civvie instead of fixing the engines. The chief engineer insisted that the problem lay with the power regulators, which were hopelessly fused. Tali correctly identified the real problem as a misaligned valve and fixed it within a minute. The chief engineer was subsequently demoted, with a formal reprimand placed in his record to boot.

Wrex spent virtually all of his time on the command deck. According to Pressly, he marched up after I came out of surgery, demanded access to the comm room, and never came out. Seems he was talking to old contacts, friends and clan chiefs on Tuchanka about his time on board the Normandy.

Liara was technically in the sickbay, but I rarely saw her. She spent her time holed up in the back room, poring over the numerous Prothean data discs we'd collected during this mission. Now that Saren was defeated and we were no longer going off on missions, she suddenly found herself with more free time and, to use her words, "fewer explosions."

And I? As soon as I got out of sickbay, I was swept into meeting after meeting after meeting. For days on end I discussed every single mission I'd ever gone on since Eden Prime. That meant Therum, Feros, Noveria, Virmire, Ilos, and a bunch of planets I'd forgotten ever visiting.

I'd just emerged from an agonizing eight hour 'discussion' when Anderson reached me on the comm.

"Shepard," he said. "Is the meeting over with?"

"Yes sir," I replied automatically. Couldn't help it. Old habits.

"Then could you please come down to the Wards Access on the Presidium," he requested. "Ambassador Udina said The Council would like to speak with us."

I suppressed a groan. "On my way."

Call me a cynic, but it was natural that the Citadel Tower and the Presidium would get top priority when it came to repair work. Priorities of the politicians and the elite, right? Still, even that allocation of resources was unable to repair all the damage that the Tower had suffered. Rather than lower themselves by meeting in such a messy and undignified locale, the TPTB had apparently opted to choose a less cluttered place to talk—that being the foyer outside the Wards Access.

By the time I arrived, TPTB and Udina and Anderson were already there. We lined up, humans facing TPTB. Somehow I got stuck in the middle, with Udina on my right and Anderson on my left.

"Ambassador, Captain, Commander Shepard," the asari councillor began. "We have gathered here to recognize the enormous contributions of the Alliance forces in the war against Sovereign and the geth." (2)

"Many humans lost their lives in the battle to save the Citadel, brave and courageous soldiers who willingly gave their lives so that we—the Council—might live," the salarian councillor added.

To my surprise, the turian councillor also had his words of appreciation. Either I'd been hit in the head harder than I'd realized, or he had practised a lot. "There is no greater sacrifice, and we share your grief over the tragic loss of so many noble men and women." (3)

"The Council also owes you a great personal debt, Commander," the asari councillor said. "One we can never repay. You saved not just our lives, but the lives of billions from Sovereign and the Reapers."

No thanks to you, I silently thought.

"Commander Shepard, your heroic and selfless actions serve as a symbol of everything humanity and the Alliance stand for," the salarian councillor pronounced.

Thinking back to all those times I tried to save my hide and constantly scrounged for loot, I was reminded again by how TPTB were really lousy judges of character.

"And though we cannot bring back those valiant soldiers who gave their lives to save ours, we can honour their memories through our actions." This was from the turian councillor, which meant it was the asari councillor's turn again.

"Humanity has shown it is ready to stand as a defender and protector of the galaxy. You have proved you are worthy to join our ranks and serve beside us on the Citadel Council." (4)

There goes the galaxy.

Udina gave the formal reply, managing to make it sound both officious and boring at the same time. "Councillors, on behalf of humanity and the Alliance, we thank you for this prestigious honour and humbly accept."

"We will need a list of potential candidates to fill humanity's seat on the Council," the salarian councillor said.

Then the asari councillor said something that was entirely unexpected: "Given all that has happened, I am sure your recommendation will carry a great deal of weight, Commander. Do you support any particular candidate?"

Once I got over the shock, I gave it some thought. In particular, I thought of one man who'd been nothing but a pain in the ass from the get-go, and one who had sacrificed everything to get me to where I was today.

Suddenly, an idea struck me. I turned and looked at Ambassador Udina.

"We need someone with the courage to stand up for what he believes in," I started. Then I turned to my left. "Someone like Captain Anderson." (5)

"Him?" Udina sputtered. "You must be joking. Anderson prefers to let his fists do the talking."

"Only with you, Ambassador," Anderson replied cheekily. "Only with you."

"Are you sure about this, Commander?" Udina asked nervously. "The captain is a soldier, not a politician."

"The Council and the Citadel races don't need another politician. We've already got enough of those," I replied. "Ever since humanity emerged on the galactic stage, we've constantly impressed and amazed the Citadel races with our novel approaches and our new ways of thinking. In my opinion, the first human councillor should exemplify those very qualities. The captain would be perfect for this job."

"I think it's an inspired choice," the asari councillor beamed. No doubt she, and the other councillors, didn't relish the thought of some sourpuss like Udina joining their ranks. "The Council would welcome him with open arms, should he accept."

"I'm honoured, Councillor. If chosen as humanity's representative, I'll do everything in my power to help the Council rebuild." Anderson promised.

"Sovereign's defeat marks the beginning of a new era for both humanity and the Council," the turian councillor proclaimed. I groaned to myself. This sounded like the start of another speech or a round of speeches. I had to get myself out of this.

"Sovereign was only a vanguard," I interrupted. "The Reaper fleet is still coming. Hundreds of ships, maybe thousands. And I'm going to find some way to stop them!"

With that, I left the politicians—and Anderson—to talk amongst themselves. If I hurried, I could catch the next shuttle. There was a cafe near the embassies that served decent meals for reasonable prices. And I was starving.

Editorial Note: At which point, this compilation of logs draws to a conclusion.

(1): If memory serves, that individual was Rear Admiral Mikhailovitch, whose inspection of the Normandy may have been more antagonistic than necessary.

(2): The Fifth Fleet would receive many awards and commendations for their participation and sacrifice. Chief amongst these was the Palladium Star, given by the Citadel Council.

(3): The Alliance lost the cruisers Shenyang, Emden, Jakarta, Cairo, Seoul, Cape Town, Warsaw and Madrid during the Battle of the Citadel. Their sacrifices are remembered to this day.

(4): Not to be a cynic, but the Council races desperately needed the military resources of the Alliance, having suffered such tremendous losses. The fact that phrasing it as a gesture of gratitude would look good allowed them to kill two birds with one stone.

(5): I'm still trying to think of a proper way to 'thank' Shepard for that 'honour'.