"This Vice Admiral Lord Sebastian T. Shelby, all personnel take heed; stand your ground. Make them pay for every inch and regret ever crossing this fleet. I look forward to seeing you on the other side."
―exert from Sebastian T. Shelby
Vice Admiral Lord Sebastian Tiberius Shelby, 37th Viscount of Whitelaw, also known by his troops as the Blueblood Admiral and the Swordsman Admiral, and to the Sangheili as the Second Impediment of the Path, was a skilled naval commander of the UNSC who served during the Insurrection and early Human-Covenant War. Born to noble blood in England, Earth, Shelby always intended to serve the greater benefit of humanity through military service, without letting his heritage get in the way. Graduating from the Academy at Mare Nubium on Luna, Shelby would quickly earn command of his first ship, the Hector-class light destroyer UNSC Galahad. Making only friends to those who could earn his respect through skill and strength of character, Shelby earned a reputation as a stoic aristocratic officer who was particularly harsh on pirates, and played a particularly-active role during the Insurrection.
Despite expecting to retire by 2525 at the age of 62, Shelby would be forced to stay on in command when the Covenant arrived, beginning the Human-Covenant War. Now commanding the lead ship of the Elysium-class, Shelby would risk forced retirement until the massacre of Midvale. Now witnessing the horrors of the war he was now fighting, Shelby would famously defend every colony he was assigned until the last civilian was evacuated, taking severe losses but inflicting damaging casualties on the alien invaders. He would continue doing so for another four years, until in 2529 he would meet his end during the Battle of Thorney. There Shelby would sacrifice himself to buy his fleet and the colony the time to escape in a legendary gambit, finally perishing after engaging in a duel with a Covenant Shipmaster.
Career Service Vitae
SEBASTIAN T. SHELBY
Vice Admiral (O-8)
FULL NAME: Shelby, Sebastian Tiberius SERVICE #: 06859-10013-SS
UNIT: Battle Group Victory ENLISTMENT DATE: 1/16/2478 GARRISON: UNSC Victory STATUS: KIA
The noble admiral himself. Courageous and well-disciplined; he runs a tight ship, not tolerating any excuses from his men and expecting them to uphold a high standard. Takes losses heavily but does not let his feelings impact the morale of his men. Brilliant strategist; it's just a shame he's being pitted against one that's just as good. Charismatic and has a slight ego, but not arrogant. Is an idealist.
While I admire his dedication and ability to prepare the next generation for when he goes, I cannot say that he's hasn't been giving me a headache with his sympathy towards the colonists. He has forcibly used his rank to allow even known Insurrectionists to get on evacuation craft, even injuring an agent over a disagreement (Referenced incident: 4/7/28). We cannot say whenever this action is a result of guilt or conscience, but he needs to remember that he signed up to serve the UNSC's interests - there's a damn good reason why we say 'let the Innies die.'
Keep a commando team on standby to forcibly remove him from his position if he disregards our orders again. He needs to learn that no matter what, ONI is always in charge.
Sebastian Tiberius Shelby was born on September 29, 2463, to Gennevieve and Viscount Tiberius Shelby of British Nobility in their native Viscounty of Whitelaw in England, Earth. He was the first-born of his family, with three brothers - Graham, William and Justin - and a sister, Raylene. Both his parents were heavily involved in politics, currying favour with the local English parliament and the United Nations that governed humanity's homeworld; as a result, they had a significant sway with whenever bills and laws were passed. Supporting the Shelby family in luxury was a dedicated staff that served their every whim, with all this being supported by significant paparazzi donations and the fact his family were shareholders in several of Earth's largest mega-corporations.
Towards the end of his schooling, Shelby's guilt over being offered so much without earning it at all finally forced him to act. On the day of his graduation in 2481, he announced to his family that he was going to enlist into the UNSC, using his family name to get a spot within one of Sol's best officer academies in which he could carve out a life of his own. This was strongly opposed by his father, although ultimately it did not stop him from attempting to seek out a spot at Luna's distinguished Academy at Mare Nubium. When the academy refused to accept him as a student, stating they were full for the next class, Sebastian independently sought out the Patuxent River Academy of Military Science. Negotiating his place independent of his father, he would only spring it on them at the last minute; the last thing he heard before boarding the shuttlecraft was his family threatening to revoke his inheritance, something which would fortunately never come to pass.
Once he arrived at the American military academy, Shelby would find himself struggling with the more laid-back atmosphere of Patuxent River. While he was well-prepared for the elitist attitudes held by the top classes he was apart of, he was alienated by the lack of discipline and rebellious nature of the students who were sourced from the local region. At first, he reacted by completely ignoring the latter crowd, being overzealously dedicated to his studies which ensured he became the top-performing student of his age group. Unfortunately, this worked against him as resentment grew with each high-scoring test that was received. To undermine their talented rival and make receiving the prestigious top honours much easier, a number of his peers began actively spreading rumours, such as attempts to sleep with known girlfriends despite Shelby consistently declaring the opposite. Pressure from social media was also applied to either force him to resign from the program or switch to a less-desirable career path such as a Logistics officer.
"If you've come out here to try and earn actual power beyond what your... What'd it say again, you were nobility, wasn't it? Anyway, you've come to the wrong place - there's nothing out here but ghosts and dead careers."
"... Respectfully sir, that's exactly why I came out here."
In response to the glassing of Harvest, in 2526 Shelby was put in charge of Battle Group Echo and ordered to protect the important Outer Colony of Midvale. Midvale served two key purposes; firstly, it served as one of the closest naval bases to the frontlines, allowing for UNSC ships to refill and repair themselves before heading back to ongoing battles. Secondly, it was the single-largest source of food in its region of space, and its loss would lead to famines across the entire sector. By reinforcing the already-existing defence fleet, HIGHCOM hoped that Midvale would stall further incursions into human space. As very little was known about the Covenant's capabilities, Shelby ensured his fleet was always kept at combat readiness in case of a surprise attack, with the planet's population already conducting preliminary drills of evacuation procedures.
Shelby had forty-four ships under his command, including the lead Elysium-class command cruiser, UNSC Elysium. On paper, Battle Group Echo was an impressive force, thirteen heavy cruisers backed by thirty destroyers and frigates. However, much of the fleet's manpower was derived from the Colonial Military Administration and were not only less-disciplined but also did not have any experience with fighting a superior alien force. Thankfully, Battle Group Bravo, commanded by Shelby's academy colleague and friend Rear Admiral Dustin H. Troy, was only a day's slipspace jump away, ready to reinforce their position at Midvale if they were attacked. By all accounts, Midvale should have been a well-defended and secure position.
Accurately described as a horde of enemy ships, Battle Group Echo stood little chance against this new Covenant fleet.
After nearly two months of waiting, Midvale was finally besieged by a massive Covenant fleet, larger than anything that had been sighted so far into the war. Led by multiple fearsome CAS-class assault carriers and outnumbering Shelby's fleet, he immediately ordered the planet to begin evacuating its population and sent out an emergency signal to Rear Admiral Dustin Troy's Battle Group Bravo for reinforcements. Unbeknownst to him, Battle Group Bravo had already been sent less than two days prior to conduct a counteroffensive in the nearby Nu Scorpii system and had been almost completely annihilated by a vastly superior Covenant fleet.
Hoping to hold out until those reinforcements could arrive, Shelby drew up battle plans to keep the Covenant preoccupied. He deployed his fleet deep within Midvale's gravity well, divided into three waves, with all his MAC-armed cruisers taking up position behind the repair platforms. While they defended the colony, they would overload themselves with civilians to further speed up the evacuation process. A second, forward group of destroyers took up position several kilometres in front of the repair platforms, which would prevent any guided munitions from reaching the cruisers and use their superior speed to keep the Covenant fleet outmanoeuvred, preventing them from using their full range of suspected weapons. Finally, a thirteen-strong fleet led by the Hades-class heavy cruiser UNSC Dutch West Indies would hopefully further draw off a portion of the enemy fleet, improving the situation of the defenders.
In spite of this careful planning, the Battle of Midvale would last minutes, not hours as Shelby had hope. After being intercepted by a Covenant armada at 14:26 hours, the Dutch West Indies' squadron was forced to break off and slip away after they badly underestimated the Covenant's speed. The bulk of their fleet was engaged by the rest of Battle Group Echo at 14:43 and ploughed through Shelby's battle lines. His plan fell apart when the Covenant fired off their plasma torpedoes, which could not be stopped by point defence rounds and were tenacious enough to hit targets that they missed. Shockingly, only MACs were found to have the power to breach the shields of even the smallest ships in the engagement, which led to Shelby authorising ships with the weapon to fire when ready, provided they attacked designated targets for maximum effectiveness. After minutes of trading fire and the destroyer line taking heavy casualties, at 14:51 Shelby's flagship, the UNSC Elysium, was completely and utterly gutted by a weapon which nobody had ever seen before - a plasma lance. The admiral was knocked unconscious by the blast, and he was carried off his dying ship by his crew. With the head cut off of the fleet, Battle Group Echo panicked - some attempted to flee, others stood their ground, but regardless their inability to coordinate saw them failing to defeat another Covenant ship for the rest of the engagement.
Battle of Trinity
Battle of Aldgate
Battle of Ross
Battle of Carthuer
"This is Vice Admiral Sebastian T. Shelby. Lieutenant Snow is indisposed. You are hereby ordered to allow that transport to leave unobstructed. Interrupt the evacuation of civilians again and I will deliver to your superiors, your heads. Personally."
―Admiral Shelby, ordering ONI agents to allow a civilian evacuation ship to leave despite the agents' belief that Insurrectionist-sympathisers were on board.
Battle of Terwilliger
Battle of Thorney
"Listen and take heed, alien scum. I am Admiral Lord Sebastian Tiberius Shelby, commander of this fleet and 37th Viscount Shelby of Whitelaw. By the power invested in me, this world and its inhabitants are under my protection. If you want them, you’ll have to go through me. I challenge you, cowards! I spit at your so-called warrior’s pride. You gutless Elites have butchered our worlds for the last time! And I’m coming for you! Helm, give me full power ahead!"
―Shelby's famous communiqué, challenging the entire Covenant fleet before launching his final stand.
"My mentor... He was never about the glory. He was serious and ran his crew hard, but we didn't mind - we owed him for his dedication at protecting the colonist. He was the most driven and interesting man I ever knew... Sometimes I still can't believe he's dead..."
―Captain Nanami Shinano.
In the immediate aftermath of his death, the Covenant temporarily pulled away from Thorney to celebrate his death. A week-long feast was conducted throughout the entire Fleet of Righteous Purpose in Shelby's name, with Shiru ‘Nagan being elevated to the title of Fleetmaster for his achievements. This gave the Covenant the time they needed to refuel and consolidate their forces within that region of space before commencing their attack once again. However, not all of it was positive. Despite being present at the Admiral's final battle, Imperial Admiral Xytan 'Jar Wattinree would face considerable tension from his troops over his passiveness, with some spreading rumours that he was actually afraid of facing his nemesis in single-combat. This would prove to be the final straw for many, which forced him to lead the campaign on the ground of a number of subsequent worlds to regain their trust.
For the UNSC, they faced some of the hardest days since the beginning of the war. Although Thorney was saved, the Covenant sent a threatening message stating they had ninety days to evict the colony. What followed was a mass-evacuation, with the UNSC abandoning the planet without a fight. In addition, the loss of Shelby's determination meant that what remained of the fleet in the sector were suddenly hard-pressed to protect their worlds. Within ninety days of the admiral's death, eight other worlds quickly fell to the Covenant's advance, with each being defended by less than half a dozen ships or completely abandoned. Even after a more competent admiral was placed in charge, the entire region would remain one of the Covenant's primary invasion routes into human space, with colonies mounted on either side facing a significant risk of being invaded by a particularly-powerful Covenant fleet.
His death would also have a significant impact on the lives and careers of others. Shipmaster 'Nagan was promoted for his accomplishments and was rewarded with command of the battlecruiser High Harbinger. It was the beginning of not only his prestigious wartime military careers but also his first of many encounters that led to him becoming one of the strongest advocates of the Human-Sangheili alliance that would follow twenty-years later.
This would also be the start of Captain Shinano's career, who would go on to become Fleet Admiral of the Second Fleet as well as the Fourth Impediment of the Great Journey.
As a child, Shelby was best described as an intelligent, if lonesome and driven, young boy. He isolated himself away from the other children because of his nobility but remained modest and humble. He quickly understood his position as a firstborn commanded no real power, so never ordered people around nor bragged about it. Instead, he knew it meant he had higher standards to meet, and wanted to achieve the goals he set himself and rarely accepted help. He made this up with his near-obsessional dedication to his studies, practising revisions from his lessons in his free time thanks to pressure from his position to do well. However, he often butted-heads with people who were lazy, unable to understand why they couldn't drive themselves to reach the average mark. This led to several confrontations in which Shelby fought against his classmates in early high school, though fortunately, he became more tolerant and calmer as time went on. He did not pursue relationships even this early, believing it to be a waste of time that could be allocated to his studies - this was also because he saw that the only ones interested romantically envied his nobility status. In fact, he rarely seemed to have fun, with the exception to his swordsman lessons which he enjoyed immensely. Out of school, he was well-mannered, mature and highly disciplined, always being a good host to visitors by politely pampering them. The only downside to this pressure and expectations from his family is that he did encounter minor anxiety which manifested itself as panic attacks during times of stress.
Unlike most people, Shelby did not actually change much since his childhood. He retained a drive to try new things and his perfectionism meant that he pushed himself to always succeed at the first hurdle.
Shelby spoke in a very proper, very well-calculated way with words. His accent was easily identified as being from English nobility, speaking loudly but softly in a way that still commanded attention and respect. He always included his manners and referred to people by their rank and last name, except with people he was close to in which he would refer to their first names or even nicknames, like with the command crews on his flagships. However, he could get quite bombastic when it came to his inspirational speeches, often drawing his sword and pointing it at the enemy.
As shown throughout his service, Shelby was a gifted tactician that was sometimes compared to the great Preston Cole by his men. Throughout his career, Shelby, while not an innovator himself, was quick to adopt new tactics should they prove more effective than his own, such as the implementation of Magnetic Accelerator Cannons, and continued to experiment with fleet formations and composition. Shelby was keen on always keeping the warships under his command properly supported, often luring in Covenant ships with his cruisers and using bold hit-and-run tactics to great effect.
Unlike Cole, who was willing to accept ruthless statistics and abandon some colonies to protect others, Shelby was determined to fight every single battle he could, having sworn to protect every colony under his protection until they could be completely evacuated. Above all else, he was far more driven than any other commander and encouraged his ships to fight tooth-and-nail until they could no longer fight, giving him an impressive number of kills under his belt. His tactics and motivation ensured that while he saw few actual victories, each defeat saw disproportionate casualties dealt to the Covenant.
While his inability to accept the futility of a situation could be seen as a weakness, the reason why he could perform such feats was another strength of Shelby - his charisma. Shelby made a great attempt to know or at least learn about every serviceman under his command and left an impression on captains who conversed with him regularly. Despite his noble-born status within an aristocracy, Shelby never distanced himself away from his crew. He frequently ate with them, listened to their life stories, answered many questions about himself and his thoughts on their situation without reserve, all with his usual well-composed dignity. For this reason, the Admiral never saw the crews of his ships as simply numbers, and the loss of each one spurred him on to rally his sailors to redouble their efforts. Unfortunately, this would come to eat away at his conscience, as each battle he fought ended with an entire world being glassed and many, many brave crew members who had chosen to follow him having lost their lives. While he bore these losses stoically, they would continue to weigh heavily on his shoulders. That said, he'd always regalvanise himself by being determined to be better prepared for the next battle, pushing himself to learn from each confrontation.
He did much to prepare the UNSC's reeling forces for the later war which he knew he would not be a part of. He compiled an extensive list of observations about Covenant tactics and fleet formations for other officers to use, proposing theoretical new ship designs aimed at combating the Covenant specifically, training untested crews and fleets in new tactics, and even personally took some promising captains under his wing to prepare them for the worst that's yet to come. All of this won him many allies and admirers who supported him.
Because of his noble upbringing, Shelby was a skilled swordsman trained in the art of fencing.
Although this had few, if any combat utility given his position, Shelby was a lifelong practitioner of swordsmanship and a superb fencer. While simply a long tradition in his family, even at an advanced age Shelby maintained strict physical and mental discipline, practising and sparring to stay sharp and fit. Trained in the art by a dedicated tutor starting at a young age, the man quickly developed a hard, fast style that he made sure to change occasionally, focusing on always adapting to the changing circumstances. This made him a very hard opponent to beat and even allowed him to last a fair while in a duel against an experienced Sangheili shipmaster. He carried around a ceremonial sword everywhere he went, expensively tailored by a master swordsmith to his exacting standards. As expected, it became the most treasured object in his possession, and he used it to exaggerate his pose when giving out orders on the bridge.
A humble Hector-class light destroyer, the Galahad was Shelby's first command of a warship. The Hector, like the Mercury-class destroyer that frequently operates alongside it, is a cheap but hardy vessel that made up the muscle of both the UNSC and CMA. While fairly lightly-armed with seven Ares missiles and only sixty centimetres of armour to protect itself, the Hector did not need more weapons as the most it'll be doing is tangling with armed freighters. The Galahad was run the loosest of all of Shelby's ships, mainly because of his inexperience with how hard to run his crew.
The lead ship of the Elysium-class command cruisers, the UNSC Elysium was essentially a larger, tougher and older version of the more common Marathon-class heavy cruiser. Heavily armed and equipped with an expansive bridge ideal for fleet coordination, the Elysium was part of an effort to phase out the even larger Valiant-class large cruiser from UNSC fleets. It was heavily-armed for it's size and contained an expansive bridge ideal for fleet coordination. In addition, it was also the first ship that Shelby had the crew hand-picked for, including its captain Nanami Shinano.
The UNSC Valhalla was Shelby's second flagship after the Elysium was destroyed and was the vessel in which he fought most of his Great War campaigns. It was destroyed during the Battle of Ross.
The UNSC Victory was a heavily modified Elysium-class command cruiser that was Shelby's last ship he ever commanded. Switching out the original fusion drives with those from the scrapped large cruiser Vinson Massif and its M910 "Ramparts" in favour of the upgraded M870 developed alongside the Gladius-class heavy corvette, the Victory also served as a test-bed for a variant of the base design. Despite lacking some weapons compared to his previous flagships. It was destroyed during the Battle of Thorney.