Author's Note: What's this? Another story? Yes it is. Credit, or blame if you're so inclined, goes entirely to the author of "The Sweetie Chronicles", Wanderer D. His premise was taking a MLP and putting her through, essentially, the Sliders plot. My premise was taking all those different Shepards and cramming them together. There is a rhyme and reason to this, a method to my madness, and I'm not introducing it for several chapters. But given that I had already named the first six Sheps during my commute home, and the majority vote from the amazing folks in the Aria's Afterlife forum was for this, I'm writing it.
"Nihlus is headed your way, Captain."
"He's already here," came the terse response, followed by the channel clicking off.
"Nice one, Joker," Angela Shepard teased the pilot. "Get him all riled up for me."
"Yeah, uh, sorry about that, Commander." He seemed actually apologetic, which was a nice change from the major chip he had on his shoulder most of the rest of the time.
She ran her right hand through the short pixie-cut and glanced at her omni-tool. "Don't worry about it, Anderson won't hold it against you." She turned around, glancing briefly at her reflection on the window, before adding over her shoulder, "probably."
He just groaned, and she walked down the length of the bridge and around the CIC hologram, nodding to Pressly and listening to the doctor trying to talk the new Marine, Jenkins or something like that, out of being an idiot. For someone with nearly two years of service, he still acted like a damn teenager. She hit the button on the right side of the door.
She stepped into the meeting room, and her finely tuned hearing, guaranteed to catch a faulty capacitor at a hundred yards as Adams liked to joke, caused her to whirl to the side at a footstep that matched hers. Standing facing her was a complete stranger, despite an odd sense of familiarity about him. But she knew all the crew after three months with them, and whoever this was, he wasn't on the crew. She raised her left hand, omni-tool flaring to life, as he raised his left hand, biotics coalescing in nearly perfect unison.
"Identify yourself!" And speaking of eerie unison, she thought, as their voices rang out in perfect unison. Her eyes narrowed to even narrower slits, studying his tanned Caucasian features even as he studied her asian ones.
"Well, isn't this interesting," Nihlus said, but neither of them risked a glance at him.
The door opened again, Anderson stopping short in the open doorway. "Commander Shepard, what the hell is going on here?" he asked, looking back and forth between them.
"I'd like to know that too," both of them said, again in perfect unison. Frowning, she raised on finger, in the universal Hold on a second gesture, and he took the opportunity to drop a Stasis on her.
"Captain, I was reporting to the briefing room as ordered," he started, only to halt when Anderson pulled his gun out and pointed it at his nose. "Anderson?" he asked, slowly and obviously raising his hands in surrender.
"I don't know who you are, or how you got on board my ship, but taking out Commander Shepard was the last mistake you'll ever make." Her stasis broke, and she twitched her omni-tool, sending a taser-like Overload at the man, dropping him twitching to the floor.
"This really is interesting," Nihlus said with dry sarcasm. "How long did it take you to train him for this prank, Captain?"
On the floor, the twitching man in matching N7 armor turned with Angela and Anderson to look at the turian Spectre. "I don't know what you're talking about, Nihlus," the captain protested. "If this is a prank, it's most certainly not of my doing."
"Really," he drawled out, walking up and extending a hand to the man on the ground. "Well then, why don't you introduce yourself," he suggested.
The strange biotic glanced at all three people in the room. "My name is Commander Bradley Shepard, L3 adept, XO of the SSV Normandy."
The woman and Anderson gave each other a look of pure, unfiltered, dumbfoundedness. "I'm Commander Angela Shepard, engineer, XO of the SSV Normandy."
The two Shepards moved to stand nose to nose, staring each other down. In both was the same determination. "My mother is Hannah Shepard," she started.
"Formerly of the SSV Einstein, currently on Arcturus station," he finished. They started circling each other, still holding eye contact.
"I was born on Arcturus."
"I got this scar in basic training."
They paused staring at each other, startled when Nihlus suddenly clapped. "Excellent. I'll take the pair. Unless you're hiding a third Shepard on board somewhere, captain?"
The darker man blinked in surprise, shaking his head. "This … this can't be real. There can't be two Commander Shepards! They don't even look alike!"
They looked at each other again. "My father's name was Kwan," she said.
"Curious, mine was Bartholomew." She raised an eyebrow. "Really. Mom used to tease him he should change it when they got married."
"Then he died when a power conduit overloaded during a batarian pirate attack in the Verge."
"No, he died in a drive core leak, exposing mom to eezo."
They both frowned, staring at each other. "Something weird is going on here," they stereoed again.
"Stop that, both of you," Anderson said, clearly wigged out at the whole thing. "Both of you are in armor, check out weapons from the armory and go with Nihlus. We'll try and sort this out when you return."
They glanced at each other, shrugged using the exact same motion despite the six inches in height difference, and strode out, Angela's pace slightly faster than Bradley's. "I don't suppose you noticed," Nihlus said as he paused next to the captain, "but their hand motions for his biotic stasis and her overload command, were exactly the same motion." He made a flip-flop motion with his hand. "Makes me curious, if we had your doctor measure them, would they match perfectly once you account for the size difference?" Without waiting for an answer, he strode out and headed for the cargo bay.
Kaidan and Jenkins were, understandably, confused at the sudden appearance of not just another team member, but a male Shepard. Still, they listened to Angela's growl to ignore it and focus on the mission, double-checking each other's weapons and armor. They dropped onto the planet easily, splitting off into two-man fire teams, Angela and Kaidan covering Bradley and Jenkins, then reversing it as they leapfrogged forward.
Before too long, they heard the sound of gunfire and rushed forward, seeing a white and pink armored female marine ducking down behind a rock. Before either Shepard could give any orders on how to engage the robotic drones, Jenkins rushed forward, getting gunned down as he fired wildly in their general direction. "Fuck. Jenkins is down," Angela shouted into her communicator.
"I've got you covered," came a new voice, threaded with a thin accent she couldn't quite place. A sniper rifle rang out, and one of the drones exploded, followed quickly by a second. "That should be enough for you to duck out of cover and finish it off," the new man said.
He thinks I'm that marine, Angela thought to herself, but it proved moot, as she hit the drone with an Overload matching two sets of weapon fire and a biotic gravity slam. Rising from cover, five people converged in the middle of the field. "Kaidan," the new man said, helmet covering his face, "who are these people and what are you doing with them?"
Angela and Bradley exchanged glances, and this time with intentional unison, said, "I'm Commander Shepard." Whatever the new man might have said was interrupted by this, and he paused for a moment before pulling off his own helmet, revealing dark skin a few shades lighter than Anderson's.
"I do believe that's my line," he said, examining each of them in turn. "Commander Charles Shepard."
"Angela, he's Bradley." The adept merely nodded.
"Alright, what the fuck is going on?" the pink-clad marine suddenly interrupted. "If this is some sort of prank, then the guy over there better get up right the fuck now!" Her assault rifle was pointed at Jenkin's dead body, fifty feet further up the slope.
Angela stepped in front of it, her hand putting gentle but steady pressure on the rifle. "It's not a prank. I'm the XO of the SSV Normandy. We came here to pick up the Prothean artifact. Somehow," she glanced at the two male Shepards, "these two totally bizarre doubles of me have appeared all in the last half an hour."
"I wonder if the Prothean artifact has something to do with it?" Bradley mused out loud. "The dig site isn't supposed to be that far away."
"It is our destination. If not, perhaps Nihlus will have some insight into what is happening," Charles said. He collapsed his sniper rifle, exchanging it for an assault rifle. "I'm going to guess that I have the most weapons training of us, so I'll take point, unless either of me object?" Neither of the others objected, so in a loose circle, they moved forward.
The husked colonists were an unpleasant surprise, as was the presence of geth platforms, but between the five of them, resistance seemed incredibly light. Angela used her tech skills to disrupt the geth shields and weapons; Bradley and Kaidan used their biotics to interrupt charging geth, or just delay them, long enough for the matched firepower of Ashley and Charles to blow them to pieces.
Finding Nihlus' body was a sobering moment for all of them, however, and Angela stood back to watch Charles and Bradley play good cop/bad cop with the lazy worker. "Do I sound like that?" she asked Kaidan, while Williams worked hard to studiously ignore the entire lot of them.
"Mostly, you sound like Charles, without the accent," he replied, still somewhat spooked. "But I think you could sound like Bradley if you didn't have such a good hold on your temper."
Finished with their interrogation, they moved towards the tram, taking it across a long, boring track, to the other side.
Where a redhead with a ponytail in N7 armor was working quickly to dismantle a bomb, her back to the group. "Oh, fuck no," Williams complained, "not another one."
"Quit whining, marine," the redhead snapped out, "and keep them off of me unless you want to be turned into chunky salsa!"
Growling, Angela strode out from cover, snapping off an overload before shoving the redhead out of the way. "Let an engineer do this," drawing a look of irritation before the other woman took out her sniper rifle. "There, done, before you even fired a shot." The sniper rifle barked, taking a geth's flashlight and sending it spinning onto the track below. "I'm Commander Angela Shepard."
The redhead paused, turning to stare at her, before a couple of rounds pinged off her shields and she ducked into cover. "Commander Dierdre Shepard," she said, eyes narrowed. "Is this some kind of prank?"
"Afraid not. Charles Shepard, at your service," he paused to lean sideways and send a geth crashing to the ground, suddenly lacking knee joints.
Dierdre glanced around, and gestured at the as-yet-unidentified man throwing biotics around. "Lemme guess, he's Bart Shepard."
"Bart? Really?" he complained, sending another geth spinning with a singularity. "It's Bradley, L3 adept!"
"Commander, er, Commanders, the geth are down for the moment. I see four more bombs, though," Kaidan interrupted.
"On it," Angela and Dierdre said in unison, shooting daggers at each other. The two women raced off, splitting up and disarming the bombs quickly, Angela faster with the bombs but slower at the running. "I can see the beacon," the asian woman said, standing up from the last bomb as a husk came charging up the path. She shuffled backwards, her pistol putting three rounds in it before a sniper shot from the redhead took it down for good.
"Well then, let's move out, shall we?" Charles said, stepping forward to take the lead again. Aside from another husk, the platforms below were empty, as the group split up to search them and pick up any useful mods and weapons left behind.
"Oh shit," came Kaidan's shout, "I think the Prothean artifact is active!" All four Shepards turned around, seeing Ashley being dragged towards the device. In unison, they all sprinted forwards, somehow managing to not get in each other's way as they hurled her free. Then the beacon exploded.
Kaidan looked at the platform and the shattered pieces of the beacon. "Normandy, this is LT Alenko. I have," he paused to count, "six bodies needing medical care." He ignored the response from Joker, staring at the newest arrival, a blond man who looked like a viking. "What the hell is going on around here?" he shouted uselessly at the sky.