"Guess you could say, we were made for all the jobs that go wrong."
In an age of heroes not everyone stands in the spotlight. Names such as Preston Cole, Avery Johnson, Miranda Keyes and The Master Chief have left their mark on the history books and the galaxy at large, there are those who's names and deeds carry similar weight, but are not remembered so vividly. For some it is by design, their work requiring them to remain in the shadows. For other's it is accident. They might make the same sacrifices and fight the same battles but their names are only remembered by a few.
Born the son of an orbital drop shock trooper and an ONI operative Shepard would loose both his parents early on in his life. Given the opportunity to strike back at the Covenant and would join the ranks of Gamma Company. Facing difficulties at every turn, whether it was his own perceived failings or the legendarily tough spartan training regime Shepard would emerge the other side as a skilled fighter and talented leader with his friends in Team Shoto. Fighting in the last days of the Human-Covenant War he would go on to protect the fragile peace of the post war galaxy. However a string of unfortunate events would see Shepard slowly loose what remained of his team. In the wake of loosing his time Shepard was moved to a new squad, seeking to try and make amends for his failures, perceive or otherwise, Shepard would devote himself to this new squad, desperately trying to hold them together as new conflicts reared their heads.
Gender: M Birthplace: Ascalon, Stormhold Birth Date: 27/08/2538
Spartan-G127 is both a dedicated leader and a skilled fighter, though considered to be an average combatant in his company he maintains a much more unorthodox style of warfare than many of his compatriots. He is quick thinking and will often consider paths that others would write off as dangerous or to ridiculous. He can also be an inspiring presence to those around him and maintains a certain boyish charm that has made him a well like member of the Spartan Branch.
Shepard has a tendency to display a very self critical attitude and often becomes frustrated when he feel's he's not doing the best he can. Although his team mates do what they can to dissuade him Shepard never seems to be fully happy with his performance. He is also shown to be supremely loyal to his friends, probably from the training on Onyx. He shares a lot of traits with his uncle and its no wonder that the two get on so well. Shepard seem's more driven by a need to protect that to avenge, unlike many Gamma's. There are ghost's of that same rage in him but i've seen him in action, he fights as much for those around him as he does for himself. Perhaps that's the leader that Ambrose saw in him all those years ago.
Early life and conscription
As the war with covenant dragged ever on ONI began deploying more and more combat operatives and tacticians to assist in repelling the alien threat, or to buy more time. One such officer was Agent Dawn Knights, daughter of the recently promoted Rear Admiral Sarah Knights, Dawn was deployed as a mission planner and liaison for UNSC and ONI forces on Stormhold in the Psi Serpentis System. During her time there she would grow close to an ODST sergeant by the name of Donovan MacBrayne. Though initially trying to act cold and distant Donovan's kindly demeanor eventually broke through and they began an unofficial relationship.
A year into their time together Dawn revealed that she was pregnant. Perhaps fearing that her new child would be used against her by future rivals or just worrying about what kind of mother she would be Dawn decided to give birth to the child and the leave him in Donovan's care. Though he tried to dissuade her Dawn believed that it was the best choice for the three of them. Conceding defeat Donovan promised to raise the child as best he could. A few months later Sarah gave birth to a boy. her last action was to give her new son his name, Shepard, before being sent off on a new assignment.
Despite being a single parent and having the demanding job of training new ODST recruits Donovan still devoted as much time as he could to his son, as such Shepard and Donovan enjoyed a strong bond. During his time off Donovan would take his son out on long walks and took time to ensure he grew up physically fit as well as intelligent. Because Donovan couldn't always be with his son Shepard also spent his time at the local school where his friendly demeanor earned him a lot of play mates. Being brought up on a military base became well liked by the ODST recruits that passed through and the young boy became a sort of mascot for the battalion.
Shepard's idyllic life would eventually be brought crashing down around him when the covenant invaded the Psi Serpentis system. Though the main invasion force was met with a massive UNSC response fleet lead by the legendary Admiral Preston Cole small splinter groups of the covenant attack force were able to slip through and attack various other planets in the system, including Stormhold. Because of its position as a UNSC staging area the covenant attack was vicious and without mercy, the alien invaders were able to quickly overrun the planet's defenses and begun a direct assault.
Donovan, like the rest of his battalion were sent to fight off the attackers while evacuation transports got civilians off world. Knowing they was unlikely to survive this fight Donovan ensured that Shepard was on an evacuation shuttle and allowed himself to say goodbye to his son before he left. In his goodbye he tried to make sure Shepard understood why he had too do what he was doing and told him that one day the fight would probably be his. The last Shepard saw of his father was him donning his helmet as the shuttle took off.
The shuttle carrying Shepard left the system as soon as possible and arrived over the colony of Actium and placed in an orphanage. During his time there Shepard, at first, kept very much to himself and often secluded himself in his room. However as the year progressed Shepard opened up again, he helped out at one of the fitness clubs and was more attentive in class. All the while he kept an unwavering eye on the extranet, hoping that news of his father and his battalion would be uncovered. While news of his father never surfaced Shepard was exposed to a lot of reports of the covenants attacks. These reports slowly built a drive within the young boy, a drive that would be noticed when he was interviewed by one of the ONI agents sent to locate candidates for the Spartan III program. The agent that met Shepard noticed his inherent drive and will to help and found the boy all too happy to join. A few days later Shepard was collected and sent to Onyx.
"If you look, your probably not going to leap"
―A quote from Shepard's father that motivated him to pass the first night jump
After a three week trip, spent mostly in cryostasis, Shepard finally made it to Onyx along with the other 330 candidates. Like Alpha and Beta before them the new Gamma recruits were subjected to the same introduction, a speech from Lieutenant Kurt Ambrose, fully bedecked in his MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armour, and a high altitude night jump. At first Shepard was mesmerized by the giant in his massive suit, he had been told stories of the spartans by the troopers back at base and to see one up close filled him with renewed vigor and determination. A few minutes later that enthusiasm drained away as he was presented with the night jump.
At first Shepard froze up at the idea of jumping out of aircraft and, much like many of the children there, became stuck on the lip of the pelican. However as he sat there he remembered some of the stories his father had told him about his experiences performing orbital drops. Deciding to trust his fathers words Shepard launched himself out of the dropship. Despite briefly forgetting how to open his parachute Shepard successfully passed the first test and was accepted as a spartan candidate.
After the initial test the Gamma Company training began in earnest. At first the training was fairly easy, simple physical exercises and brief lessons on military history. Shepard found himself evenly matched against the other youngsters and enjoying the classes and exercises, he was noted as having higher reflexes than most other candidates but other than that he was indistinguishable from the 330 others. Eventually the training branched out into much more demanding subjects, including; small unit tactics, weapons training and hand to hand combat. During this time Shepard also begun making friendships with many of the other candidates and became known as kind if somewhat naive person.
Although he took to each of these exercises with gusto, and proved capable at performing them, as Shepard begun to understand more about what was expected of him he began to demand more from himself, often letting small slip ups get to him more than they should and developing a critical attitude of himself. While this did in some cases lead him to became much more determined it did also hamper his confidence.
During these early days Shepard first caught sight of Amber-G330, another trainee struggling with her own internal issues. The first time they met face to face was in one of the company wide games of hide and seek, a rush across a mile wide stretch of jungle covered in traps, obstacles and difficult terrain. In one of these games Shepard was caught in one of his pursuers traps and left at their mercy, had it not been for Amber choosing to help cut him down. Although they were both captured on the jog back they were able to get to know each other somewhat, with Shepard offering to help her with the classes she found difficult. This would be the start of a relationship quite unique among the Gamma ranks.
"Spartan's together, now and forever"
―The motto used by Team Shoto, it signified the teams beginning as a much more efficient team
After being shifted through randomly assigned teams and leaders the company was eventually sorted into it's permanent teams. These five man fireteams were what formed the backbone of the last two Spartan-III companies and was part of the 'family not fireteam' training that Lieutenant Ambrose ingrained into them. Each team would become a surrogate family to the ones they had lost. For Shepard this would prove to be his next big challenge.
To his surprise the DI's had chosen him as a potential leader and had sorted him into training team Shoto along with; Jay-G090, a skilled marksman and scout but a bit detached and impassive, Jess-G128, one of Gamma's technical experts who was known for a voracious intelligence, Lance-G244, a protective candidate that Shepard already knew and Shaiming-G231, a quiet candidate but one of the more skilled in the team. It was hoped by Kurt and Mendez that Shepard's potential for leadership would both bind the team together and help Shepard over come his nearly crippling self doubt.
At first the team didn't work as expected. Although Shepard and Lance seemed to work together the other three didn't gel as well, with Jay remaining rather aloof while Jess and Shaiming were either uncooperative or took a back seat in the proceedings. Combined with Shepard's unwillingness to take full leadership of the team meant that in the first few months of training their score dropped considerably, putting them at the lowest rungs of the company along with teams such as Machete and Jian.
Despite average combat performance Shepard seemed unable to push past the block he had placed on himself, however hope would arrive in the form of Tom-B292. One of the last members of Beta Company the older spartan-III had taken many of the other younger spartans under his wing. Having noticed Shepard falling scores Tom decided to intercede. Having lead his own team back in Beta Tom knew what it took to lead a spartan team.
Over the next months Tom put Shepard through his own training regime. Cultivating Shepard's combat skill while also trying to give him the confidence necessary to lead his team. Despite proving to have the necessary tactical knowledge to complete the theoretical battle situations Tom set him, Shepard proved to be to indecisive under pressure. However Tom never gave up on Shepard and he kept trying to push him to take the lead.
After six months of disappointing reports and only the slightest hint of Shepard taking the reigns, despite encouragement from Tom and Lance, Ambrose and Mendez begun to discuss disbanding the team and moving the recruits. Tom, knowing that Shepard could still prove himself, requested one more chance for the candidate to prove himself. Ambrose agreed but warned that this was Shoto's final chance. Armed with this Tom took Shepard aside plainly laid out the stakes. He knew that Shepard wanted to succeed and he hoped that this last push would be enough.
In a surprise to nearly everyone in Camp Currahee the next five matches that Shoto played in were their most successful, each one either a victory or a narrow defeat. This proved to be a much needed morale boost for the team as it's members begun to trust their team-mates and their leader. Though not full over his self doubt Shepard know trusted himself enough to lead the team effectively, jumping them up three positions in the company rankings. Unbeknownst to all but Ambrose, Mendez and Tom Shoto's games were slightly rigged by their leaders mentor. Although Tom was chastised for it by his superiors all three of them agreed that it seemed to work for the better, with Shepard now confident enough to lead they had become a much more formidable team than before.
With the whole company now settling into their new positions many candidates begun to mingle with other teams and form rivalries and friendships. During this time Shoto became acquainted with the members of Team Machete, with Shepard becoming good friends with Kodiak-G114. As a result of being friends with Machete it often lead to the members of Shoto being pulled into the other teams pranks, which on more than one occasion put both teams in isolation. Despite this there were very few misgivings between the two teams. Outside of his fellow candidates Shepard also grew to be good friends with Tom, who maintained a distant but approachable vigil on the team and often acted as Shepard's council in times of confusion. Around this time Shoto's fifth member Shaiming was moved to the Headhunters. The team wasn't told where Shaiming had gone, only that he'd be selected for another task. Despite being a man down Shoto was still able to function effectively.
Eventually, after years of rigors training and learning, the 330 members of Gamma Company were prepared enough to face the augmentation procedures. All gamma's were briefed on the dangers they would face during this time and were allowed to watch some of the vid captures of the original spartan II augmentations. Much like the rest of the company Shepard worried as the augmentations neared and brought them to Scott, though not able to fully calm Shepard he at least helped him to fear it less. A few weeks later Shepard and the rest of Gamma were taken to the UNSC Hopeful where the augmentations would take place.
Each candidate was taken to a different surgical unit and sedated. Once they were unconscious they were connected by intravenous and osmotic patches to an infuser which pumped the enhancement drugs into her system over the course of several days. The following chemicals were administered:
8942-LQ99 - a carbide ceramic ossification catalyst drug
88005-MX77 - a fibroid muscular protein complex drug
88947-OP24 - a retina-inversion stabilizer drug
87556-UD61 - a colloidal neural disunification solution
Unlike the other two companies before the Gamma spartans were also given addition enhancement through the drug 009762-OO. A A non-carcinogenic mutagen that altered key regions of the frontal lobe to allow the spartans to access their more animistic instincts when under stress. This would allow the spartans to fight hard and be harder to kill, making them even more effective on the battlefield. However without the counter drugs 009127-PX and 009927-DG it would cause the Gamma's to loss their ability to reason, causing them to become more violent and uninhibited.
Though he had been forewarned about the pain he would experience, as his bones and muscle structure grew beyond the human norm among other changes, Shepard was no where near prepared for what it actually felt like. He was the first to wake and within seconds was screaming in agony as his he felt the augmentations changing him. He was quickly sedated by one of the one site medical teams and moved away from the others to a separate room. He would wake up two more times before the changes subsided.
When he woke for the third time the pain had gone and he found himself a changed person. Like the rest of the company he was soon shipped back to Onyx to help them adjust to their new bodies and to compete in a final 'top honors' course. During this time Shepard was able to bring the squad up to middle position within the company, much better than the four of them had expected.
As the final stages of Gamma Company's training reached its conclusion Onyx received a dire message from ONI. The Covenant knew the location of Earth, and while the John-117 had been able to briefly halt their plans it was likely that they would soon try again. As such Gamma Company was to be sent to Inner Colonies, to bolster the human forces there and perhaps tip the balance in the UNSC's favour.
Lieutenant Ambrose decided to deploy the majority of the company, keeping three teams back to finish the top honor course. Having failed to make the fail three Shoto was among the majority that begun making ready to leave their home, for what could be the last time. Despite worrying about what he'd have to face when they finally reached their first battleground Shepard couldn't deny the infectious energy that surged around the camp, this was what the young spartans had been training nearly their whole lives for and to know their destiny was effectively on their doorstep charged each member of the company into frenzied preparation.
Before leaving Onyx Shepard made sure to seek out Tom, bringing his last few worries to his friend. As always Tom did what he could to give Shepard hope, reminding him to trust his own judgement and keep his team going. Not long afterwards the UNSC Vanguard slipped in system and the spartans of Gamma Company begun to leave Onyx. Just before he climbed into his transport Shepard picked up a rock and placed it in one of his suits pouches. He would keep the rock with him for the rest of his life, a reminder of the world that had forged him into a spartan. As soon as they were aboard the Vanguard the company were lead to the ships cryo chambers and sent to cryosleep before the ship left Onyx, bound for the inner colonies.
Raid on Chi Ceti IV
Team Shoto's first assignment wasn't dissimilar to the other deployments that other Gamma Teams were sent on when they were deployed. With the war moving ever closer to Earth, and the covenant having finally learned Earth's location, High Command was pulling every asset it could back to humanities home world in preparation for, what could well be, the final confrontation of the war. As such Shoto was being sent to Chi Ceti IV, more specifically the old Damascus testing facility. At the briefing Shepard and the rest of the team were told that a slipspace probe near the Chi Ceti system had picked up the silhouettes of what looked like a covenant raiding party headed in system. Fearing that the covenant had finally decided to come and back and wipe the facility, which had just recently been evacuated after another brief raid, away Shoto was being sent down with orders to secure any valuable data and equipment that was left there.
Though he didn't mention it to his friends at the time Shepard was feeling nervous about his first mission. Trying to draw on the lessons that he'd been taught on Onyx he did his best to calm himself, however he couldn't quite dissipate the nerves.
Transferring over to the UNSC ProwlerWayward Watch the young spartans were taken to the system. They arrived a few days later to find a covenant corvette already hovering over the planet. Deciding to approach the facility on foot the Watch slipped around the side of the planet and was able to deploy the spartan's without being detected. Dropping onto Chi Ceti IV's rocky surface the four man team moved toward the entrance and soon encountered covenant resistance. Using what they had been taught on Onyx they were able to eliminate the guards and enter the facility proper. Despite their initial success Shepard still felt nervous as they moved forward and soon fell back into the second guess nature that had hurt Shoto's progress back in training. Never the less the team was able to make it through the first few levels undetected.
Soon after entering the facility, slipping past patrol's and guards as they did, Shoto was contacted by the facility's AI Ramesses. Shepard told the AI of the spartan's mission and the AI agreed to help as best he could, starting by providing the spartan's with a way to reach the lower parts of the facility. As the team moved further down the met more and more covenant forces. Ramesses said that they were slowly forcing their way down into the facilities lower levels to access the data that was still stored, the data that Shoto was sent to retrieve.
Eventually Shoto was forced into a large engagement with the invaders, although they were able to fight them off it was by a small margin and Jay's leg was also injured. Remembering what he'd been told about the facility in the briefing Shepard asked if there was anything still available that the young spartans could do to gain the upper hand. Ramesses directed them toward a testing room two levels down. They quickly reached the room to find it stocked with various suits of MJOLNIR armour.
"Now this, is just awesome"
―Shepard, upon seeing the MJOLNIR armour left at Damascus
With Ramesses keeping the door securely shut Shoto set about armoring up. Shepard immediately homed in on a suit of MKIV armor, not unlike the suit he'd seen Kurt Ambrose wear when he'd first saw his old CO, and begun tailoring it for his use. Rejoining his similarly garbed friends and they set off once again to the data center. The suits proved highly effective in the hands of the young spartans and proved to be a good boost to Shepard moral. Now better protected and better armed against their foes Shoto was able to make even better progress through the facility, though with every level they faced more and more groups of enemies.
Once at the data center Shoto immediately set about securing it. With Jess working quickly to transfer the data with Ramesses help Shepard, Lance and Jay took stock of the situation. Ramesses had already notified them of the covenant forces advance through the facility and that they would likely breach the data center soon. While they would be able to bottleneck the aliens for a time their superior numbers would ultimately let them break through. With the data transfer set to take at least half an hour to complete Shepard elected to hold their position, prepare the area as best they could and call for help from the Watch.
As Lance and Jay set of to set trips for the oncoming enemies Shepard was able to contact their Prowler. His request for help was heard and the Watch responded with a single signal. Hold. Despite facing uncertain odds in a very uneven match Shepard ordered the team to prepare to hold their position. As soon as the data transfer was complete they'd fight their way out as best they could and find a better place to hold until the Watch could retrieve them.
The first wave of aliens soon made the charge toward them and Shoto soon displayed their true tenacity as they forced their foes back. Using the tight corridors and pre-set traps to take their toll as they fell back toward the data center. However the covenant numbers were a lot greater than the four young spartans and soon they were all hard pressed to defend as they lost more and more ground.
The entire plan nearly fell through when a small covenant team was able to torch through the ceiling and strike from above the teams heads but luckily the team was able to turn them away. Soon after the transfer was completed and Shoto begun making plans to escape. Shepard elected to use the hole the covenant had just made, rigging the data center to explode behind them as they fled back upstairs to the command room, which would hopefully offer better protection and a better way to contact their evacuation ship.
Climbing up through the hole in the ceiling Shoto fought through a second team sent to flank them and then detonated the explosives as more tried to follow them. Now running through the facility Shoto charged through the covenant forces as best they could and with Ramesses help they were able to make the command room alive. Locking themselves inside Shepard and the others were allowed a moment of rest as the covenant begun their search for them again.
Taking stock of their situation Shepard contacted the prowler again, this time demanding an evacuation. He was soon met with a response that stated that help was coming. Soon after Ramesses explained that he'd been tracking two UNSC vessels inbound to the planet, they had engaged the covenant corvette above them and were now sending in ground troops to help secure the facility. A few minutes passed and Shoto was soon contacted by a contingent of ODST's that had been deployed to secure the facility. Linking up with them Shoto helped remove the last of the invaders, clearing out the remaining covenant forces bit by it. With the facility securely back under UNSC control the team was picked up by the Wayward Watch soon after.
As a reward for their efforts in securing the facility and saving the data Shoto was allowed to keep the MJOLNIR suits they had procured from the facility, something that greatly pleased the young super soldiers who had already grown quite attached to their new armor. Soon after Shoto was debriefed as the Watch transitioned back into slipspace. Recent events, including the completion of Operation First Strike and the revelation that the covenant had already learned the location of Earth had sent the UNSC into a frenzy of activity. With a Covenant assault on Earth possibly days away Shoto was being sent to the center of human space and to the Great Wars final battle.
Battle of Earth
"I know it's obvious, but Earth is one of those battles that I am never going to forget. My first true campaign, and to this day I still can't tell if I messed up or not. But the LT was right. You can train yourself perfectly, memorize every tactic and strategy there is to know, drill yourself until it's as normal to fire a gun as it is to blink. But when your down there, in the middle of the chaos, it comes down more to adaptability and courage to do what needs to be done. I just wish I'd learned that sooner"
―One of Shepard's journal entries a few years after the Battle of Earth.
The Wayward Watch exited Slipspace some hours after the battle for Earth had begun. With the orbital defense grid in tatters, the home fleet suffering severe casualties and the maelstrom created by the Prophet of Regrets sudden departure humanities cradle was engaged in a desperate last stand for its own survival. On board the Prowler everyone was stunned by the battle raging in front of them. Shepard and his team were particularly taken aback, even from a distance the true face of a full scale war was beyond anything they had imagined. Shepard watched UNSC frigates duel with Covenant corvettes as the last few Orbital Defence Platforms strove to drive back the worst of the coming assault. To him it looked like chaos had engulfed the Earth.
Ghosting on the edge of the system the Watch's captain attempted to contact Naval Command to receive his orders. Luckily he was able to reach Lord Hood who was still leading the defense from his position on the Cairo battle station. Though grim the admiral was happy to see another group of spartans and provided them with new orders. While the Wayward Watch would remain in orbit to provide assistance Team Shoto was moved the the UNSC Crimson Aurora where they would deploy via drop pods into London which was currently under siege by the Covenant.
Rocketing down into Earth's atmosphere Shoto got their first look at humanities cradle. Even with a majority of the fighting still taking place high above the planets surface there were already signs of battle down below. London itself was already pockmarked by fire where an initial bombardment from a nearby covenant cruiser had ripped through the southern districts of the city. The northern side, across the ancient Thames river, was faring better as a network of AA weapons, set up shortly before the battle began, did what it could to keep the cruiser and it's fighters away from the city.
As the drop pods neared their objective there was a sudden complication. The cruiser over the city took an unexpected hit from MAC round, most likely fired from an orbiting vessel that had a moment to itself, and it caused the alien ship to veer off course. This also disrupted the flight paths of Shoto's pods who were forced to make quick adjustments to their trajectories. Desperately wrestling with his pod for control Shepard was able to safely smash through a building to lodge himself in a wall. Never the less, he and the rest of Shoto were now scattered.
Regaining consciousness Shepard ungracefully disentangled himself from his pod and retrieved his weapons. He immediately tried to hail his squad but the mess of signals in the city made contacting anyone nearly impossible. Needing a bearing on the situation Shepard headed through the hole his pod had made in the apartment building and onto the street. Immediately he was presented with a battle situation as a group of marines did what they could to push back a covenant lance that had made there way into the north of the city.
Contacting the marines on short range comms Shepard offered his assistance, telling them to keep the advancing aliens pinned as best they could. Moving quickly to make the most of the situation Shepard made his way though the apartment building to get behind the covenant forces. Despite fighting alone for the first time Shepard was able to use the element of surprise to get the upper hand on the covenant. But as Shepard moved to engage the last few hostile a second group of alien's rounded the corner. Taking cover from the renewed fire Shepard suddenly received help from an unexpected angle as a sniper rounds begun to take down the covenant moving toward him.
A sudden hail on the short range gave Shepard all he needed to know. It was Jay, having landed only a few blocks from Shepard's location. Now able to coordinate with someone Shepard was able to mount a much better offensive and the two spartans were able to put down their enemies with greater speed.
With the immediate battle over with Shepard and Jay regrouped with the marines, the human soldier seemed surprised to see a pair of spartan in their midst and even more shocked that they weren't at one of the northern bridges. According to the marines the UNSC forces in the city were able to set up checkpoints at each of London's bridges, stopping the covenant from making any armored push into the northern districts of the city. However, with new reinforcements coming in from the cruisers above them it was getting harder and harder to hold them back.
Asking to use the marines comm equipment Shepard was able to push through the mess of signals and make contact with his other two squad-mates. Jess was the first to answer, telling Shepard that she and Lance had landed in a southern district not far from Tower Bridge. Both sides of Shoto agreed to head that way to meet up. Linking up with the marine group they had just saved the human forces begun this push toward Tower Bridge.
The Battle of London
Shepard and Jay soon arrived at Tower Bridge to find a full scale pitched battle under way. The covenant were making another determined push toward the northern part of the city. With the path to their friends now blocked by a covenant platoon the young spartans had no choice but to join the marine forces that were holding the bridge. Posting Jay up high with another group of snipers Shepard made his way across the front lines, looking for the leader in charge of the defense.
Making his way through the defenses Shepard was faced with the true face of war, pushing past men and women as they fought to fend back the coming alien hordes. At one point a marine private was struck by a stray plasma round, the super heated matter burning through his armor. The young man fell back and Shepard saw the wound had burned all the way to his bone, he then looked up and reached for Shepard begging him to help. Shepard was briefly frozen, not knowing how to handle an injured man. Suddenly a medic appeared next to the spartan asking him to carry the marine back to protection.
Now with an objective Shepard agreed, gingerly carrying someone at least ten years his senior to the relative safety of the second defense line. Laying the man down he asked him if he knew the location of marine in charge. He told the spartan to keep heading back the way he was heading, the captain had a command base set up nearby. Shepard thanked him and headed onward, still adding his fire where he could.
Soon arriving in the forward command center Shepard greeted the captain in charge. Shepard stepped forward and was about to ask what the situation was when a huge explosion rocked the center. As everyone froze another detonation blew a hole in the wall as a wraith blast burned through the prefab concrete. Just before there was a flash of light Shepard saw the outline of an armored solider, as the light dissipated Shepard saw the armor belonged to one of the legendary Spartan-II's.
Russell-041: "What's your name Spartan?"
Shepard-G127: "Spartan-G127, Shepard sir"
Russell-041: "Well then Shepard, I need your help pushing these aliens back across the river"
— Shepard meets Russell for the first time
The armored form belonged to Russell-041, the older Spartan had dropped a bubble shield to protect the marines in the command center. As the soldiers fell back Shepard and Russell took cover behind the remains of the wall. Coordinating with Jay the three Spartans were able to stem the sudden covenant attack, halting the aliens renewed assault. As the battle raged on Shepard received a ping on his team comm link from Jess. His technical specialist informed him that she and Lance were trapped at the other end of the river, behind the covenant line, but that Lance was able to plant some explosives on the wraith tanks the covenant had left unattended.
Convincing Russell to aid him Shepard begun to fight his way across the bridge, despite the protests of the marines behind him, he fixed himself with the goal of getting his friends back. In his first taste of raw combat Shepard fell back onto his instincts, nearly losing himself in the frenzy of it all. Despite this, as well as the aid of the marines that pushed up in the spartans wake, progress was slow and soon they were forced to stop. Having reached a third of the way up the bridge Shepard ordered Lance to detonate the explosives, ripping apart the covenant's artillery and distracting the aliens.
The human's renewed their assault, finally forcing the covenant off the bridge and back into the city behind. In the chaos Shepard fought his way to Jess and Lance's location, standing side by side with his friends as the last of the aliens were beat back from the human's new position. However, before the team could get reacquainted, another issue rose its head. The covenant forces, now clear of the bridge, suddenly launched a huge artillery barrage on the bridge.
With the UNSC now split up across Tower Bridge the mortar strikes easily found targets. As the strikes begun to hit Shepard and the rest of the spartans were forced to jump into the Thames river, fighting the current all the way back to the relative safety of the UNSC's side. Once they were clear Shepard was able to take in the damage done by the covenant's barrage, something he saw as his own fault and believing that if he hadn't made the rest of the line move up then they wouldn't have been caught in the trap.
Russell soon stepped to the young spartan's defense, stating that he couldn't have known what the covenant were planning and that his only priority as a team leader was protecting his team. Before he could answer Shepard received a message from Jay. With the UNSC's forward command base devastated all front line units were pulling back from the Thames to the staging area set up in the old Emirates Stadium. Calling in a Pelican the four spartans arrived at the stadium a few minutes later.
Regrouping with the local commander, Colonel Siegfried, and the rest of the military leaders tried to work out a work out a way to lift the siege of the city. His confidence somewhat shaken from the events at the bridge Shepard remained on the edge of the conversation with the rest of his squad. As Shoto patched their wounds Russell developed a daring strategy to deal with the siege. With the marine contingent significantly lowered and their outer defenses compromised the Covenant were now confident enough to being deploying troops directly from their battleship. Which was now in low orbit just beyond the Thames. Russell's plan hinged on them taking control of the ship to clear a hole in the covenant siege to allow the UNSC to send in reinforcements.
"If your going to beat yourself up for every little mistake you make then your just going to drag everyone down with you. If you want to start being a better leader then trust your friends to look after themselves and focus on what you need to do"
―Russell imparts some wisdom to Shepard before the battle
Seeing few other options Siegfried agreed, allowing Russell to pick out team he needed. Naturally the older spartan immediately requested Shoto's help. It would take both Shepard's team and Russell's coaxing to convince Shepard to go along with the plan. Gearing up for assault as best they could Shepard brought his worries to Russell, seeing in the older spartan a potential new mentor. In response to his worries about his ability as a leader Russell cautioned him about shouldering all his mistakes and letting him trust his team more. When Shepard mentioned some words Mendez had shared with him Russell commented that he'd never known Mendez to pick a bad leader and that his trust in Shepard was a good sign.
Little under half an hour later Shepard and Shoto, along with Russell and a team of ODST's, were armored up and flying toward the target zone, the gravity lift of a Covenant corvette in orbit above London. As the spartan's rode toward the Covenant ship dusk gave way to twilight, allowing the team to make it into enemy territory unnoticed. The pelican dropped the team off a few blocks east of the target and the strike team continued on foot, sticking to the shadows of the buildings.
As they neared the last few blocks they begun to see signs of their enemy and very soon they came to a road blocked by a Covenant blockade. To Shepard's surprise Russell ordered him and Shoto ahead to clear out the obstacle. Swallowing his arguments he lead his team to the opposite side of the street before making their way through the cover of a bombed out building. Banishing as much doubt as he could from his mind Shepard forced himself to focus on the mission alone, trusting his teammates to handle their roles.
With Jay set up to cover them, Shepard along with Lance and Jess slipped their way down and begun to remove the hostiles as quickly as possible. With knives to throats and silenced rounds to skulls the barricade was soon cleared out and the team could proceed forward. Still, the fact that he had alerted a sentry grated at Shepard. Russell brushed it off with a pat on the shoulder as the older spartan led them forward.
Avoiding any further patrols and sentries the spartans and their ODST companions arrived at the base of the corvette. Making short work of the alien troops station around the gravity lift the strike team was able to enter the Covenant ship, arriving in the ships secondary hanger. Unfortunately their entrance to the ship hadn't gone undetected and not a few seconds had passed before a much larger reaction force suddenly burst into the room. No sooner had their enemy entered the room did the human's open fire, grenades blasting alien troops apart and weapons tearing through those that survived. Soon however the enemies numbers begun to mount and the hanger became a veritable mad house.
Sliding back on his training from Onyx Shepard let his fighting instincts, shooting, shouldering and punching his way through the enemy ranks. As the Covenant pressed in around the group they begun to crowd around a Wraith tank parked toward the back corner. Seeing a new weapon opportunity Jess decided she had a new way of clearing the room, jumping up onto the alien tank she clambered inside and begun trying to get it online. Shepard leapt up after her, spinning around to fire at the those that broke through the enemy ranks to get in after her as he ordered the team to form up around him.
Just as they looked to overwhelmed Jess activated the Wraith. Without ample space to fire the mortar cannon she instead let loose with the vehicles plasma cannons, scattering the nearby Covenant troops and forcing the rest to flee. With space cleared she then unleashed the plasma mortar, burning the remaining enemies from their cover, including a pair of Hunters that had only just made it into the room.
In the face of overwhelming firepower the Covenant were forced back from the hanger, giving the assault team a few moments to breath. Forming up and taking stock of the situation the team agreed to move toward the command room as quickly as possible. Luckily for the spartan's one of the lessons the Spartan III's had been taught on Onyx was the general layout of Covenant vessels, in case they were deployed on a mission that required them to take such a ship. With the four younger Spartan's leading the way the Spartan's and ODST's fought a series of viscous close combat engagements through the purple corridors of the corvette.
Even as more and more alien warriors crowded in around them and the team begun to take casualties the assault team eventually broke into the command chamber of the corvette. Inside they were faced with the ships bridge crew, including a trio of hardened Ultra's and the ships commander. The following fight was a tough challenge for Shepard and his team, although somewhat tiered from the battle to reach the room the five spartans charged to meet their foes never the less, wielding Covenant weapons in place of their own that had run dry of ammo. Plasma fire splashing across the wall as the five supersoilders clashed with their alien combatants, MJOLNIR armor smashing into Covenant metal when the fights descended into close quarters combat. Minutes of combat dragging by in what felt like hours.
Eventually the Spartan's won out as Russell brought down the commander Shoto was able to engage his guard, using their team coordination to keep their enemy off balance. With the bridge under their control the UNSC soldiers pulled inside, Jess sealing the door as best she could behind them. With the last few ODST's taking defensive positions at the door the Spartan's set about priming the ship for self destruction, not an easy feat even with Jess's working knowledge of some of covenant hieroglyphics. Eventually the ships reactor was ready to detonate, giving the team just five minutes to get off the ship.
With the gravity lift chamber too far from the command chamber the remainders of the team chose to flee back to a hanger bay they had passed through on the way. Just far enough to make it before the ship exploded. With the alarms blaring as the plasma reactors begun to overflow with energy the Spartans and ODST's fled back to the hanger bay, meeting much less resistance as the corvette's crew desperately tried to stop the ship going critical. Reaching the hanger the UNSC soldiers reached the hanger, swiftly jumping aboard the Spirit and jetting out of the corvette. A minute later the Covenant ship detonated. Leaving the alien forces below cut off and the skies above London ready to be reclaimed by the UNSC.
The Battle Rages On
With London back firmly in the UNSC's hands Shepard and the rest of Shoto were quickly redeployed. With the initial phase of the invasion over and the battle in space largely just sporadic hit and run assaults by the waning Home Fleet the Covenant now effectively had the full run of Earth's atmosphere. Even after the events of New Mombasa and the sudden departure of the Prophet of Regrets ships there was still a sizable alien presence on Earth. As Covenant forces spread across the globe Shoto joined their fellow Spartans in responding to the myriad distress calls where ever they came from.
The next few weeks were some of the most challenging missions Shepard and his team would undertake. As the Battle for Earth settled into it's inevitable grind the Spartan III's of Gamma Company were finally put to the test. In the first week Shoto took part in numerous raids against Covenant landing zones across the European Battlegrounds, fighting to stall the enemies advance for as long as they were able. With the loss of the garrison at Mars and the sudden influx of Covenant ships that arrived to bolster those already at Earth Shoto and many other Spartan teams were pulled from ground operations and sent to deal with these ships in a series of EVA operations, sneaking aboard and destroying these ships before they could tip the balance further in the Covenant's favor.
Despite the constant struggle against the seemingly unstoppable forces of the Covenant, with each engagement Shepard and his team learned to work together better than they had even during their best week training on Onyx. Every success pushed Shepard's confidence and every mission brought the four friends together as they never had before, and by the time the last few days of the Human-Covenant War begun to play out Fireteam Shoto had made more than a name for themselves alongside those they had fought beside.
After two weeks of constant, bitter fighting with the Covenant the famous endgame of the three decades long conflict begun to unfold. With the Master Chief's return the UNSC forces rallied behind Lord Hood's planned offensive, to strike at the very center of the Covenant occupation and tear the heart from the Covenant once and for all. Have just concluded a mission in Japan Shoto was one of the spartan teams called in to aid in what would later be known as the Battle of Voi.
As the Master Chief lead his assault group to punch a hole in the alien air defense network multiple other teams were sent to harass the Covenant lines, pulling their focus and keeping them off balance. Shepard, alongside a strike force of UNSC marines and ODST's, made a push up the Nairobi road. Running a parallel strike to the Master Chief's and dividing the Covenant's forces in the area. The battle up the road was hard, as the Covenant had entrenched all the way up the road in order to halt the UNSC advance. However Shoto, along with two other Spartan teams, proved to be a rallying point for the attack. Eventually the Chief was successful and Lord Hood engaged his attack run.
However the sudden appearance of the a Flood Infected Battlecruiser changed the fate of one of the wars last battles. As the Flood suddenly spread out from their stolen ship Shoto fought to give their allies time to be extracted. Thanks to their armor the young spartans were impervious to the alien parasites attempts to infect them. Despite his protection from the Flood Shepard was still unnerved by it and while it would be his only run in with the organism he would still be haunted by it years later.
"So...we fought some kind of galactic space parasite today...probably the only thing worth mentioning"
―An entry in Shepard's journal after the Battle of Voi
With the Battle of Voi over all UNSC forces were swiftly evacuated as the newly arrived Sangheili fleet begun glassing the area that the Flood had impacted. Shepard and his team were brought to a UNSC outpost set up in the mountains of Kilimanjaro. There they were allowed to rearm and rest as what remained of HIGHCOM tried to decide they're next move.
Following a meeting with the newly arrived Sangheili fleet under the command of Rtas 'Vadm Lord Hood agreed to allow Miranda Keyes to join the Sangheili through the newly opened portal to the Ark in order to potentially retrieve a way to stop the flood before it reached Earth. Going along with her would be many long standing hero's of the war including The Master Chief.
Expecting to be ordered to join the strike force headed through the portal Shepard surprised to hear that they, along with many other spartan teams were to remain on Earth. Although much of the Covenant forces had passed through the portal many still held their positions on Earth, no doubt to keep the UNSC busy securing their home world as their leaders completed their great work. Shoto would set to clear out one of these sites as a planetary re-offensive to reclaim Earth in time to fortify it for a Flood attack.
"White Wash, last mission of the Human-Covenant War. My best friend died in that mess, died to save me. And now all I've got to remind myself of him is this metal thing I call my right arm"
―Shepard, reflecting years later on his last battle on Earth
As the final, climactic battle for the future of all life the galaxy played across the surface of the Ark Lord Hood put into action his plan to retake Earth in preparation for the expected arrival of the Flood. Operation:WHITE WASH as the assault became known was a concerted effort by the UNSC to destroy the last bastions of Covenant leadership left on Earth, shattering the Covenant's choke hold on Earth.
Shepard and his team were deployed to Germany where the Covenant had gained a sizable foothold during their initial invasion. The invaders had claimed a large landing zone near the coast and had been using it to strike across Europe. UNSC Intelligence suggested that the Jiralhanae war leader called Demiscus was now commanding the Covenant in the area. Now cut off from overwhelming orbital support the base they had set up we now ready to be brought down.
Shoto were soon geared and ready to move, embarking in a pelican dropship as a column of tanks and warthog's rolled underneath them. For the young spartan team it was a sudden moment of realization, this would be one of the last missions they would undertake in the war that had been their life time goal to participate in. Whether the UNSC forces engaged at the Ark won would ultimately decide the fate of everyone but this Battle on Earth would be the last battle they would face. Shepard was struck sharply by this as they neared the target, suddenly surprised by the idea that something he had worked so long to accomplish could be finally over. The idea that the war could be over such a foreign feeling that he didn't know how to register it.
He was soon pulled from his thoughts as they reached the drop zone and the Covenant anti-aircraft fire begun to blaze ahead of them. With the main assault force distracting the bulk of the Covenant defenders Shoto was dropped a few kilometers from the alien base to the wast, covered from anti-air fire by a wooded area nearby. The spartan's mission was to infiltrate the base and disable their defenses to allow the rest of the UNSC force waiting in reserve to smash through the Covenant lines and drive them out.
Leading his team quickly through the woods, taking out the odd sentry that still stood guard, the young spartans crept their way closer to the edge of the Covenant holdout, as the broke the tree line the main UNSC force engaged the alien defenses. Using the deafening noise of the battle Shepard posted Jay on a rise to their west, giving his teams marksman a solid place to provide over watch as the other three scanned for a good entry point. Jess soon spotted a good area as a tank round blew through a series of plasma coils, scattering the grunt menials around it as well as creating a useful blind spot.
With Jay using the sound cover of the battle to pick off important enemy targets Shepard, Lance and Jess sprinted to the edge of the holdout. With assistance of their now well worn power armor the new spartans made it to the breach in seconds, just as quick the engaged the few grunts still trying to piece together their exploded plasma coils. Moving quickly to keep the element of surprise Shepard and his team pushed further into the base, engaging the defenders group by group as they made they're way toward the main objective, the shield generator powering the energy fields blocking the UNSC's access. As the passed through the base toward the generator Jess planted multiple remote explosives on secondary objectives, such as ammo dumps and methane reserves.
The generator was much more heavily defended than other parts of the base and the spartan team soon lost the element of surprise as they entered the generator room. Falling back on their instincts and squad tactics to clear the room and give Jess the time she needed to plant her final charge. As she did Shepard and Lance coordinated their fire, with Shepard pinning groups in place with his battle rifle to allow Lance to blast them back with his grenade launcher, with Jay's support fire and the ever encroaching UNSC task force the first line of defenders were caught between a rock and a hard place. Made worse when Jess blew the generator, stripping the outer defenses of their shielding and allowing the human troops to spill through.
As Shepard cleared through the remains of the first line Jay contracted him over TEAMCOMM, sending him a vid-feed of what looked like the Jiralhanae leading the defenders, Demiscus. Knowing that killing the warlord would bring a swifter end to the battle than carrying on slowly pushing through the Covenant defenses he ordered Jay to find a way to reach the Jiralhanae. Shepard then switched to TACOMM, hailing the UNSC Commander Captain Waverly. He informed the captain of the warlords location and his intent to peruse him, the captain accepted the request and moved his forces to secure the building to stop any escapee's while holding the enemies attention.
The four Spartans soon entered the main command chamber, bursting in and scattering the few guards that were protecting the doors. Not giving the aliens time to recover Shepard lead his team forward to engage the brute warlord and his two guardsmen. The ensuing fight was bitter as the three Jiralhanae warriors dueled with the four young spartans. Shepard himself took the fight to the main war leader, pulling on all his skill and tactics to keep his foe from crushing him.
Knowing that brutes are much faster than their bulk would suggest Shepard split his team up, allowing them all to fire from different corners of the room without bunching up or getting cornered. Still the fight was hard and the Spartans were soon running out of ammo as their bullets were soaked up by their opponents shields. As the first guard fell Shepard changed tactics, he ordered Jess to place the last of her explosives to lay a trap for the remaining aliens.
As she placed her explosives the other three spartans goaded their enemies into a berserk rage, the brutes lost their reserved attack and charged after their foes. Shepard lead them toward Jess's trap, diving out of the way at the last second as the final two brutes were torn apart by the explosions. Alive but no unhurt Shepard ordered his team to post up while he contacted Captain Waverly. A second later the door to the command chamber banged open. In the door way stood a much larger Jiralhanae, Demiscus.
UNSC Intelligence had wrongly identified one of the warlords guard as the one they were protecting and now the four weakened spartans were facing a much stronger opponent. Knowing that the brute was blocking the only way out of the chamber Shepard rallied his fireteam around him. If they wanted to get out of this alive they were going to have the kill the alien in front of them.
Though weak from their last fight the spartans still put up a good defense, harassing the warlord from all sides as he swept at them with his gravity hammer, and as the fight progressed Shepard become surer and surer that they could win the battle. Then, as it looked like he was on his last legs, Demiscus surged forward in a sudden charge that took Shepard off his feet.
The brute slammed Shepard into the floor and pinned him down with his foot. Before the alien could bring his hammer down again Lance suddenly appeared from the warlords left, however the brute anticipated the move and swung his hammer hard into Lance's chest, seemingly crushing the Spartan's MJOLNIR armor. As his friend was blasted back Shepard fought against the weight of his opponent, trying to free himself to help his team. But the overwhelming mass of the alien was to heavy and it left the young Spartan at the Jirelahanae's leisure. In one swift movement Demiscus brought the bladed head of his hammer down and severed Shepard's right arm.
As the alien prepared another swing he was suddenly grappled from behind, forcing him to take his foot of Shepard to keep his balance. On his back was Lance, fighting on despite his heavily injured chest thanks to the special augmentations that the Gamma's had received. Pulling the beast back Lance drove his knife into Demiscus's shoulder, holding him in place as Jay was able to line up a shot through the warlord's head. Demiscus fell to the floor, two bullet holes in his head.
With the Jiralhanae dead Shepard crawled over to where Lance had fallen. He saw his friend stand for second and stumble towards him, the two met halfway and collapsed next to each other. As Lance fell down next to him Shepard was able to see that Lance's chest plate was completely caved in and he was bleeding heavily. Managing to take off his helmet with one hand Shepard could see that Lance was slowly fading. In his last moments Lance said the very same thing he'd said when he'd fought with Shepard for the first time.
"That was a close one there Shep, think he had you for a moment"
―Lance's last words to Shepard, also the first thing he said after Shoto's first training match on Onyx
Lance passed away a few seconds later, in spite of the augmentations that Kurt had provided to keep his spartans going. Jay and Jess arrived a few seconds later, the latter tending to Shepard's severed hand while Jay contacted the Captain. Thanks to the brain mutations unique to Gamma Company Shepard was able to stay awake for a minute long, not even aware that he was missing his arm. All he could think about was all the decisions he'd made in the last few hours, and all the mistakes he'd made. He passed out a minute later.
"The War officially ended today, the Great War they are calling it. But here I am, thinking I lost it all."
―One of Shepard's journal entries a few days after the war ended
Following his injuries during his final operation of the Human-Covenant War Shepard fell into a coma from a mixture of stress, both mentally and physically, and blood loss sustained from his now severed arm. He would wake up almost two weeks later, just before the turn of the new year, on December 23rd 2552. What he found when he woke up wasn't anything he was expecting.
The first, and most likely biggest, shock was his arm. He'd only been tangentially aware of what the Jiralhanae warlord had done to him before he'd blacked out, so to wake up with his entire right arm replaced with a bionic alternative was a change he wasn't ready for. His initial reaction had been to enter a state of panic which had almost ended with him begin sedated before Jess and Jay made it in to calm him down. Unfortunately they were about to bring more bad news.
Once Shepard had calmed down significantly his squad mates begun explaining what he'd missed; the wars end, the state of the galaxy and their new orders to remain at Bravo-6 until told otherwise. All of this Shepard accepted fairly easily, although to hear that the war he'd trained all his life for had now ended was difficult for him to fully comprehend. His whole youth was taken up training for an event that had never happened, or so it had felt.
Eventually, once his friends had finished talking, Shepard asked the one question he didn't want an answer too. What had happened to Lance? Slowly the pair explained what happened during the battle, how Lance's injuries were to severe to treat and how he'd passed away before the medic's had reached him.
This news hit all three of the young spartan's like a hammer blow. For Shepard especially he saw it as his ultimate failure as a leader. Lance had been his closest friend, his most trusted squad mate. And Shepard's actions had gotten him killed.
Much like their other spartan brothers and sisters Team Shoto entered a time of mourning. For Shepard the weeks of rehabilitation seemed to pass with a blur as he and his team struggled to deal with all the doubts and fears they had for the future. What would become of them now that the thing they had been bred to do had ended? What was their purpose now?
Building the Missing Wall
"That's the thing no one gets about us, about the three's. We're not just a unit, we're a family. A big, dysfunctional family. And a family needs somewhere to mourn."
―Shepard discusses with the other Gamma's about building The Missing Wall
After weeks of rehabilitation and bed rest in ONI's secure Bravo 6 complex Shepard was finally cleared to join the rest of the Spartan III's. To keep the young Spartans from the prying eyes of other UNSC and UEG groups ONI had quickly moved the remaining Gamma Company squads off world and onto the newly finished UNSC Infinity, to await further redeployment orders.
They would remain there for the next few months, hidden away within the Spartan Quarters and with little contact from the outside world. During this time the memorial at Voi, the commemoration for all those that had given their life during humanities long and desperate struggle for survival. Many of Gamma Company, Shepard chiefly among them, were outraged that they weren't allowed to attend. Shepard still ached from the loss of Lance, as well as many of his friends lost in the fighting, and through his long days of rehabilitation therapy and training aboard the Infinity the aching feeling in his chest ate at him like a cancer.
Seeking any form of penance he could Shepard begun pushing himself harder and harder, barely eating and almost never sleeping the young spartan begun to drive himself down a self destructive path of atonement. He'd spend hours at the shooting ranges and the combat floors, running all manner of simulations not for the increase in skill but to sate the deep wound that clawed at him daily.
This went on for weeks but never proved enough for Shepard's search for anything that could deliver him from the terrible burden he had placed on himself. In his eyes he'd failed everyone; Lieutenant Ambrose, Mendez, Tom, Russell, Jay, Jess and Lance. In a way, he'd failed all of Gamma Company. To this end, finding no salvation in constant training, Shepard begun to self harm. A miserable fury drove his actions as he took a knife to his skin or punched a bag until the force of his punches turned his hand red and bruised. In the pain he just found more sadness, a constant bitter reminder of the darker pains at work in his soul.
Eventually his team discovered their leaders wounds, both of whom had been grieving in their own ways. Once again it was Shepard's close bond with his teammates that would see him through his challenges. Since discovering about the Voi memorial Jess had trying to find a way that she and the other Gamma's could put their ghosts to rest. A day or so before finding out about Shepard's activities she'd been sent a file by an unknown source. The file contained the locations of a now glassed human planet, Merken. A planet supposedly that was meant to be Gamma Companies first deployment. Jess presented the idea that they create a memorial there, somewhere secret that Gamma Company could have to mourn their losses and remember their fallen comrades as others had before.
In the idea Shepard saw a glimmer of hope, a chance to let go of his burden. He and the rest of Shoto gathered the rest of the Company and pitched the idea, to which many seemed receptive too. With a team assembled all that remained was to convince ONI to allow them off the ship and onto a vessel that could take them there. Although the young Spartan's were willing to use force to gain access to a ship all it took was an impassioned speech to the ONI representative on board the Infinity, an Agent Dawn Knights, who gave the group access to a shuttle. Graciously the spartans boarded the ship, agreeing to a three day time frame with Agent Knights, before setting off toward the planet of Merken.
Upon arrival a short geological survey located various locations for the Gamma Memorial. After some debate the group agreed on a small cave just off what was once the coast of the northern continent. Setting down nearby the Spartan's made their way inside. Within they found a large, empty cave, it's walls devoid of any kind of mark or indentation. It was decided that within the cave they would etch the name of every Spartan-III that had ever died in the service to humanity. Armed with a selection of laser cutters and a long list of names they set to work.
Despite the long list they had to complete, which included both Alpha and Beta's members, the group was able to complete it within the day. Each of them worked quietly, their minds drifting to friends lost as well as the future ahead of them. Shepard in particular couldn't imagine what would come next, in a time without a great threat to face what was his purpose?
Eventually the work was complete and the young warriors stepped back to look at their work. Lining the walls in tiny script, the name of every lost Spartan-III marked the walls. In that moment Shepard felt something lift itself from his shoulders, the ache in his heart dulled just a bit and the wound he'd fought for so long felt as if it had begun to close. Though he would wrestle with his loss for the rest of his life, at least the dead were laid to rest. And living were able to mourn those that had passed on. The Missing Wall was built, and with it Gamma Company could finally look forward to their future without the burdens of the last.
The Damocles Incident
"The code name they gave me was Avalon. But I see now, that in this new age, it isn't the sheath that protects people. It is the sword. So that is why I cast away Avalon. And in it's place. Is Excalibur"
―Shepard's mental breakdown drives him to abandon the UNSC and become the murderous vigilante Excalibur
Rehabilitation and Reassignment
"Spartan Knights's rehabilitation is progressing smoothly. Hopefully this process will allow us to work out methods should other wayward Gamma's be brought to us."
―A record from Shepard's rehabilitation overseer
Shepard's personality, in contrast to the other spartan's of Gamma Company, didn't endure the same level of change that many of his friends would go through. This is often attributed to the semi-militaristic environment he was brought up in which softened the change in his life when he was conscripted into the program. He started off life as most children of his age did, happy and playful with a slightly naive streak. However, while he never voiced it, he did always wonder why his mother was never with him. This eventually lead to him believing that she was in some way disappointed in him, even when Donovan found out he couldn't dissuade his son and he grew a very self critical outlook that lasted well into his life. Even when he eventually did meet his mother and found out why she'd left him his self critical attitude would remain long after.
The loss of his father, as well as his home planet, was a great shock to the young Shepard. Again unlike his future compatriots Shepard didn't succumb to grief filled anger but instead developed a fierce desire to help protect what humanity had left rather than the need to get even with the covenant. This difference in drive most likely came from the moral's and sense of duty that his father instilled in him at a young age. That isn't to say that Shepard didn't possess the same motivation necessary to become a Spartan III, it was just directed differently.
During his time as a spartan, especially in his early years, Shepard's personality went through it's greatest changes. Initially he allowed his self critical attitude to get the better of him which lowered his overall scores and almost got his training squad disbanded. This also made him feel uneasy around others, especially those he didn't know, and lead him into a slightly introverted state of mind. Eventually Shepard was able to over come his self doubts and in doing so was able to come out of his shell and display his true personality.
He was often known for being very naive, even late into his career, which often lead to him making rash decisions or saying things that he shouldn't have, though he never often meant to cause offence and would generally apologize if he did. This came from him being a very kind-hearted spartan, he always tried to see the best in others even if they couldn't and, if possible, he would always attempt to diplomatically end a tense situation.
Many that knew him noted that he possessed an almost indomitable will and would staunchly stick to his moral's even in the darkest of times. Even when he was being hunted by ONI and held in captivity by a forunner commander among other scenarios he always held to his belief's of selflessness and duty to those around him. Often Shepard would rise from defeat's stronger than before, possessing a great drive to better himself and win. These façades of Shepard's personality allow him to become an inspiring presence to those around him, motivating them through his own belief in them.
There is a side Shepard that he rarely if ever lets others see. Even during training Shepard worried that he was developing a much darker and more sadistic side to his personality. This was something that all the spartan III's struggled with and it was an doubly so for Gamma Company due to the extra drugs that they were given during the augmentations. Shepard greatly feared losing himself to his more violent side, and in turn ending up like someother spartan's. Although he has at times lapsed into a much darker state of mind, as many Gamma's did, he was often able to pull himself back out again.
"It's not a question of skill for you Shepard, it's one of self belief. You can do more than you give yourself credit for."
―Tom-B292, Shepard's brief mentor on Onyx, trying to get Shepard to believe in himself
As a spartan Shepard is a natural fighter. Years spent combating both human and alien foes as well as forunnner constructs has given the young spartan plenty of time to perfect his combat style. Early on in his training Shepard proved himself to be highly adaptable to battlefield situations. Where others would grow used to a specific roll Shepard would always work around his team-mates. He did however show great skill in close range and hand to hand combat where his natural athleticism and quick reflexes allowed him to triumph over those much larger than him. Shepard's fighting style mixes together a variety of martial arts techniques including Jujitsu and Krav Maga as well as kick boxing and Savate. Using this Shepard is able to use a combat style that capitalises on his abilities and allows his to face foes that are either stronger or in greater numbers to him. As mentioned before Shepard is a natural athlete. Even when he first arrived on Onyx he was noted as being one of the faster candidates, both in terms of running and reflex's.
Outside the realms of close quarters combat Shepard was also adept with a number of firearms. Commonly arming himself with weapons that allow him to flow with the battlefield situation. One of the most common weapons in his arsenal is the venerable Battle Rifle, allowing him to be as deadly at medium range as he is up close. To supplement this he also carries a pair of M6 handguns which he can wield with surprising accuracy. Shepard is one of very few spartans to refine the art of duel wielding weapons and his abilities are seen as almost effortless by some.
Along with his combat abilities Shepard has a variety of other skills that he has cultivated over the years. As with all spartans he was trained in weapon maintenance and years of combat have taught him how to get the best from his weaponry. Similarly he has an understanding off first aid, though not near the standards of other spartans more heavily trained in that area. He is however a very skilled pilot, often taking charge of any vehicles Shoto has the privilege of using. He has a great love for flying vehicles and has displayed a great level of skill will in control of them.
As a leader Shepard was far from inspired but still proved to have a certain flair and tactical understanding that allowed him to successfully lead his team through multiple engagements alive if not unscathed. Shepard's tactics often involved a swift and overwhelming application of force is a specific area. This mind set made Shoto a highly skilled hit and run unit and during the later years of training on Onyx Shoto was well known for launches sudden surprise attacks, both on and off the field.
Like many of his fellow spartans Shepard possessed a well built physical profile, he didn't have the same kind of muscle mass that identified a lot of spartans and he had more of an athletes build which reflects mostly in his combat abilities. His face, which remained remarkably unmarked even after his many battles, always seemed to retain it's youthful charm and his friendly demeanour. Through out most of his life he kept his hair below medium length, though slightly longer than military regulations would allow.
Although his face managed to remain safe from scars the rest of his body wasn't as fortunate. Below his armour and clothes are many scars and burn marks from plasma scouring, ballistic damage as well as from forunnner munitions. When not sealed inside his suit or wearing his fatigues Shepard usually dresses in a black coat and trousers, wearing this he can pass off a regular human. While not always looking the smartest Shepard always makes sure his appearance isn't too untidy.
Weapons and Armour
Semi-Powered Infiltration Armor, Mark II The MK II version of SPI armour was the main armour type worn by Gamma's at the beginning of the war. Following the suggested upgrades following Operation:Prometheus the light armour featured a much more effective cameo layer that provided the spartans with increased stealth capabilities. Shoto was deployed in this armour during their first battles.
MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armour During their mission to the Titan Facility Shoto was able to acquire suits of decommissioned MJOLNIR armour similar to the suits worn by teams such as NOBLE. Taking different armour pieces from various suits, including a prototype MK VI helmet, he created an armour system that maximised his effectiveness at medium to close range.
MA5 Assault Rifle series As his primary weapon Shepard carries an MA5 Assault rifle, favouring the series' versatility and over all effectiveness in combat situations. Shepard tends to favour the C and D models for the increased use as a trade off to the B models increased ammo capacity.
M6 Handgun To supplement his primary weapon Shepard carries a pair of M6 Magnums. Often used as back up weapons Shepard is also adept at wielding them together in a spartan combat style known as Gemini. The combat style focus's on the use of two weapons in a variety of combat situations and allow Shepard to be a much more dangerous opponent even without his main weapon.
ARC-920 Railgun A relatively unusual weapon choice for a spartan Shepard learned to handle the railgun during his tour on the Infinity and soon found it be to his liking. Favouring the portability and versatility it allows Shoto's leader to bring some explosive fire-power to the battlefield without weighing him down.
During his career Shepard was known to have kept a form of journal with him. The entries themselves often took many forms, including voice recordings as well as typed up conversations, but Shepard was able to store all of them away safely over his lifetime. Following his final disappearance a compilation of his journal entries were found hidden in the extranet and subsequently were distributed in the compilation known as Beneath the Armour.
Starting of his journal during the early days of gamma companies training as a way to find a way to talk it eventually became a habit from him. He would usually record an entry every month, although often his adventures meant he had to just do one when he was able. His entries tell a much more personal story than most other works done by other spartans and, while not as high profile as other works, it is still beloved by many who see it as one of the true links to the age of the spartans.
"The first time I killed something was on Chi Ceti. We were moving through the corridors and suddenly I turn the corner and there's an elite looking at me. And for one second there were these two sides screaming at me. One was yelling at me to pull the trigger and kill it, the other was crying out for me to run. I don't quite remember what happened after that. But remember another voice, it was cold and quiet and it said "Keep the team alive". After that, it was easier to pull the trigger I suppose, but I always remember the voice."
―Shepard remembers his first run in with an enemy during a psy-evaluation
"There are days I wonder how i've not gone completely mental after all the stuff i've been through. The war, all the deaths, the betrayal's and the losses. But every time I think that I remember what I was told at the start of the program, that I might have been trained as a killer but my mission is to be a protector"
"Shepard's one of those guys that's had the weight of the world thrust upon him so many times that I think it makes it difficult for him to give it up."
"Sometimes I feel like we aren't meant to be remembered, like we are the lost generation of Spartans that no one wants to talk about. We've fought the same fights, won our own battles. But when it comes down to it, when have you seen a TV show about what Alpha or Beta company did? When have you seen a statue to all the Spartan III's that died. They died fighting for all this, they deserve at least to be remembered for it"
―Shepard discussing his disappointment of ONI seemingly sweeping the Spartan-III's to one side
"You know what I think Shepard? I think you seek out pain, you like it. You've spent so much time convincing yourself that you need to be in pain that you can't function without it"
―During Shepard's rehabilitation
Though skilled at mid to long range Shepard had a knack for close combat
Shepard's strength of will made a him a highly driven person