So, Halo 4 comes out in less than a week and several of my mates will not shut up about it. Because of that, and because I want somewhere to dump Non-Naruto plot bunnies, I decided to start on my second collection of shorts and one-shots. Just gotta get a few things out of the way before I begin, dates and ripple effects etc.

I'm taking the Human-Covenant War forward from its canonical 2525-2553 to around 2279-2307. The main reason for this is that, as I've seen others mention on forums and this very site, humanity's technology for the most part seems far too contemporary [Apart from what came out of ONI's work with the Spartans and their MJOLNIR armour, humanity's military gear wouldn't look too out of place on a current battlefield]. Human/Sangheili relations suffered when ONI involvement in arming Avu Med 'Telcam and his supporters. The unease that this revelation caused came to a boiling head when more than two-thirds of a Sangheili fleet refused to render aid to a human fleet engage in battle with a Jiralhanae/Yanme'e fleet. This resulted in the near total destruction of the human vessels and loss of all Sangheili ships that did engage. In fury, humanity cut contact with the Sangheili, instead focusing on re-establishing contact with 'Dark-Colonies'. The loss of human support, coupled with difficulty adapting to being self-reliant, hampered Sangheili combat efficiency and allowed the Jiralhanae to unite under a cunning new Chieftain of the Jiralhanae. When humanity re-established contact, they found a Jiralhanae ruled empire controlling most of the former Covenant's territory.

Humanity discovered the Prothean Ruins in 2387 when work began to resettle land damaged by debris from Battle of Mare Erythraeum. Lack of large scale Element-Zero supplies and a general unwillingness to embrace unknown alien technology meant that development of Mass Accelerators and study of Mass Effect Fields was slow and intermittent. The 'Shanxi War' between humanity and the turians here took place around 2557 and was very different. Humanity, having finally adopted Mass Accelerator weaponry and in the process of retrofitting its marines with Mass Effect shielding, found itself facing a race with technology far more advanced than its own… Again.

Another chapter, another attempt to entertain you all. I honestly do not have anything else to add, so on with the show!

Halo belongs to Microsoft Studios

Mass Effect belongs to belongs to Bioware


XX Shanxi, Colonial Capital - 2557 XX

Dammit, where's our support?" Quentius Qui'in roared at his Communications Expert. "We can't take this bunker alone."

"I know." Lantar Oraka roared back as his cover was pelted with rounds from the automated defences at the far side of the hallway. "A Cabel is on its way, ETA four minutes."

"Great." Qui'in sighed. "Maybe one of the biotics will be able to clear this hall for us… We finish taking this place and it's all over."

"You think so sir?" Oraka asked hopefully.

"It's been four months and their last commanding officer is in there… Along with that damn AI." Qui'in spat. Four months of debris drops and our forces pushing through the streets. These humans are spent… They gotta be."

"Yeah… I just want this to end." Oraka laughed before receiving a transmission from the Cabel. "Sir this is bad. Reports are saying there's an orbital strike inbound!"

"What! Are they insane?" Qui'in screamed. "Give the order, we're falling back."

As the turians rushed back to the surface the building shock slightly several times, dislodging dust and small clumps of mortar from the ceiling. As the neared the ground floor of the building they'd been fighting under they heard the sounds of rifles and pistols coming from outside before a worrying silence. As they rushed out into the courtyard in front of the building, the turian squad found themselves face to face with about two dozen armed humans. These humans wore heavier grey armour and had visored helmets. Scattered around them were the bodies of the turian soldiers who'd been in the process of securing the courtyard. Before he could raise his rifle, one of the human soldiers ripped through is shields with a barrage from an SMG and riddled him with rounds. As he and his men where cut down by the new human soldiers, Qui'in realised something.

"It's not there home world." He gasped as he bled out. "Spirits help us… There's more."

XX Earth – 2572 XX

"John Shepard, you have been found guilty on all charges." The judge announced. "According to your file you turned eighteen yesterday, as such you are no longer in State Care. Normally kids in leaving the foster system have to serve mandatory military service but it looks like you'll be spending the next few years in prison… Do you have anything to say?"

"I think some of my stitches reopened." John muttered, the bruises making it painful to speak. "Can we hurry?"

"Looking through your record, I see quite a list of achievements." The judge sighed. "You led nine police officers on a two hour chase, put four police officers in the hospital and even managed to take a nine year veteran hostage… If the floor hadn't given way beneath you I don't think you'd be standing here today, do you?"

"No, what's your point?" John asked, glaring at the judge with his non-swollen eye.

"I'm going to give you a chance." The judge told him. "You can spend the next six years in prison, or I can have you sent somewhere where you might find some purpose."

"A penal squad?" John snorted. "Why should I?"

"Because a penal squad will keep you out of jail, make you some money for when your sentence ends and maybe… Just maybe you'll find a purpose." The judge answered. "It's your choice Mr. Shepard… Your choice."

XX Arcturus Station XX

"You sorry sons of bitches are being assigned to the Fourth Fleet." The Staff Sergeant informed the collection of Privates standing before him. "That means you are being sent to support the 'squid heads', I'm sorry I mean Sangheili. You'll be fighting on the bloodiest front against the most vicious, vile and fucked up soldiers the Jiralhanae have to offer."

"What's a 'Jiralhanae'?" A Private next to Shepard whispered.

"Brutes you dumbass." He whispered back.

"Private, you think you got something more important to say that I do?" The Sergeant snapped as he advanced on Shepard. As he closed in, the Sergeant took in the red markings on Shepard's armour and snorted. "Penal Squad, wonderful. Listen kid, I'm gonna give you some advice. When someone outranks you is talking, shut up and listen. They might just be talking about something that could save your fucking life. Are we clear?"

"Crystal, sir." Shepard spat.

"You've got spirit, nice to see it the newbies." The Sergeant noted before flooring Shepard with a right hook. "Let's see if a few tours can do anything about that."

"Was that necessary Sergeant?" Asked a Lieutenant who'd been watching.

"He's Penal Squad sir, gotta be a little rough to teach them." The Sergeant replied before turning to the rest of the privates. "Those terminals on the far wall have your postings. Find your name, the name of the ship you're serving on and get on board that ship. Move It!"

Rubbing his jaw, Shepard got back to his feet and made for the terminals. Checking to see what ship he'd be stuck on, Shepard learned he was assigned to the 'Wrath of Reach', one of the older ships still in active duty. Catching up with several other Privates making their way to the Wrath of Reach, Shepard struck up some conversation. As the neared the ship they were passed by four men in heavy grey armour.

"ODSTs." One of the others, the same man who'd asked what a Jiralhanae was, told Shepard. "The best there is. One of them is better than all of us put together."

"Costs more as well." Snorted a nearby engineer. "Those ODSTs still use reverse-engineered Covenant tech for their shielding and rely on rejected MJOLNIR tech for just about everything else. One of their suits cost more to make than was spent training and equipping you ten."

"Yeah but… I mean they get results. The Helljumpers took back Shanxi." The ODST loving Private argued. "So what if they cost a little more than normal?"

"ONI used the 'they got results' argument when it was defending the stuff they did to make the Spartans… Still didn't justify it." The engineer snorted. "Besides it wasn't the ODST, it was the Navy in orbit destroying most of the turian fleet that took back Shanxi… Not that it matters, rumour is the ODSTs are gonna be replaced by some new spec-ops designation. Something that doesn't cost so much."

"So they're dumping centuries of history and achievement to save a few extra bucks? That's insane!" Shepard blurted out.

"It's that kind of thinking that's the reason we've only just started developing Mass Effect tech." The engineer countered. "If we'd developed it more, our shielding would have been able to withstand the turian weapons better. If we'd researched more, our weapons would have been better able to pierce the turian shields. Hell if we'd worked more on Mass Effect technology we'd have been able to mobilise a fleet to reinforce Shanxi faster. Face it kid, the ODSTs and what they represent are outta date."

As Shepard and two others dragged the now enraged Private away, so he couldn't punch the engineer in the face, Shepard wondered what was coming. Things were changing fast, trade with the turians and their Council was small but growing. While it didn't look like humanity would be joining anytime soon, not with the Citadel's ban on AIs anyway, they were growing closer with through trade and supervised tours of worlds under the other's control.

"Come on." Shepard said, slapping the now calm Private on the back. "Let's get on board. This hunk of scrap is gonna be home for the next twelve months."

XX Unnamed World – 2573 XX

Shepard's Penal Squad took cover as Kig-Yar snipers opened fire on their position. As rounds ripped through the rubble the squad had hidden behind, Shepard saw their CO take a hit to the throat.

"Dammit, fucking Jackals." Spat Corporal McArthur, one of the senior squad members. The man was four years through an eleven year sentence for multiple homicides and was scum. Rising from cover and opening fire, McArthur screamed insults at the Kig-Yar before two shots to the chest did him in.

"Fuck." Shepard muttered before crawling over to McArthur's corpse and taking one of his grenades. Watching for enemy fire, Shepard found where one of the snipers was hidden and tossed the grenade through the hole the Kig-Yar was firing from. Diving back undercover, and moving quickly to avoid shots from the other snipers, Shepard was rewarded when the grenade's bang was accompanied by a shriek of agony from the Kig-Yar. A moment later several more grenades detonated, taking out the rest of the snipers.

"Not bad kid." Called out Corporal Jones, the next most senior member of the squad and now de-facto commander. Moving out into the open, Jones signalled for the others to move up. As Shepard followed, he stopped to try a particle rifle from a Kig-Yar hand. Turning to see what was keeping him, Jones nodded. "Good idea. Right boys, find their corpses and grab any weapons you think you can use."

As the squad moved down a deserted street Shepard was ordered to take point. Trying to watch every window at once, Shepard realised that their location was a perfect ambush site. Holstering his MA5-MA, Shepard activated the scope on the particle rifle and scanned further down the street. What he saw made his blood run cold. A dozen Jiralhanae making their way towards the squad, led by a chieftain wielding a massive hammer.

"Corporal… We got incoming." Shepard gulped as he offered the rifle to Jones.

"What is it?" Jones asked as he took the rifle and tried to work its scope.

"Dozen Brutes, plus a chief." Shepard told him before pointing to the surrounding buildings. "If they keep coming this way we've in a good position to ambush them."

"Right, take that rifle and get up high. Find somewhere that you can see everything and when I give the signal blow that chieftain's brain out." Jones ordered before directing the rest of the squad to take positions.

Rushing to get up above the street and find somewhere to shoot from, Shepard climbed up rubble from a damaged building and hunkered down. As the Jiralhanae grew nearer, Shepard lined up a shot on the chieftain and waited for the signal. As the Jiralhanae passed where Shepard split from the squad, several grenades came flying into view. Taking that as the signal, Shepard dropped the chieftain and aimed turned to fire at a nearby Jiralhanae. As the Jiralhanae scattered for cover and came under fire from his squad mates, Shepard looked up from the scope to search for another target and spotted another group of Brutes rushing down the street to reinforce the ambushed group.

"Ah fuck me." Shepard cursed before opening fire on them. Two died before they spotted his position and began weaving to avoid him getting a bead on them. One disappeared into a doorway only to emerge a minute later with a fuel rod gun levelled at his position. Diving for cover as the Brute fired Shepard fired again. "Ah fuck me sideways."

Down below, the rest of the squad found itself struggling to deal with the additional Jiralhanae. But as more of their kind died, the remaining Jiralhanae began to go berserk and rush from cover only to be gunned down from several positions. By the time Shepard recovered from the explosion and made it down to ground level both sides were mostly dead. Targeting one of the two remaining enemies, Shepard opened fire with his MA5. Jones and another Private targeted the other, emptying the last of their magazines into the beast. With all visible hostiles down, Shepard holstered his rifle and made his way over to the others.

"How far left to go?" Shepard called before something to his right snarled. Turning Shepard could only watch as a wounded Jiralhanae lashed out with its Spiker, the bayonets slicing through his helmet and cutting deeply into his face. Turning the enraged Jiralhanae fired off a barrage at Jones and the Private before turning back to the injured Shepard. As it raised the Spiker to impale him, a bright blue orb struck its shoulder. The stolen plasma grenade detonated and saved Shepard's life.

"You alive kid?" Jones called out as he made his way over. Crouching beside Shepard and removing the injured man's helmet, Jones inspected the damage. "Shit kid, that thing cut deep."

XX Arcturus Station - 2576 XX

"Four years in a penal squad and you made Lance Corporal… Not bad son." The Sergeant congratulated as he read Shepard's file. "You've finished you court mandated service and now you have a choice, I can either sign your release forms or sign forms to transfer you out of the penal squads… Which will it be?"

"With all due respect sir, I'd like to go home." Shepard sighed. "Would you please sign the release forms?"

"All right." The Sergeant agreed before signing the documentation and handing them to Shepard. "A shame, with a record like that you'd have done well in the marines."

"Thank you sir." John said before turning and leaving. Making his way to the shuttle bay, John Shepard joined the small crowd waiting to leave the station. As he waited to be called for boarding John scanned the walls, reading the posters and advertisements on them. Most where simple 'Join Now' posters for the marines or the navy, one caught John's eye. It was a recruitment drive for officers. Thinking on what the Sergeant had said, John made a decision. Release papers gripped firmly in hand, he turned and walked back into the heart of Arcturus Station.


Basic, rough and ugly…. A lot like Shepard himself at this point in his life. I'll do another chapter showing Shepard's service record [This Alt. Universe's version of 'Ruthless'] and the events of Eden Prime.

So, what do you guys think?

I'm dyslexic, so please point out any mistakes in spelling or grammar [I spell things the way they do in England and Ireland, so some things may look off to Americans]. Please leave your opinion via review or send them via PM, I'd like to know what you think. Well, I think that's everything I've gotta say so, hope you enjoyed the chapter.

This is Highvalour saying bye and thanks for reading.