Let me get this out of the way. No, I am not DinoJake using an alternate name. I am just an admiring fan who wanted to lend his talents to The Last Spartan and got DinoJake's approval.

First off, a huge thanks to DinoJake for all the hard work he has put into The Last Spartan, DigiDorks,Titan Shock and his other stories. If you are not reading any of these, check them out!

I am also very humbled to be a part of this. This was my first fanfiction story and I have had so many terrific experiences working on this. I may not update as regularly as people may like, but I try to deliver the best work I can.

If you are noticing a huge rewrite going on since you last read this, that's intentional. I feel that if I am going to continue with this story, I need to fully update every detail to keep things fresh. So, we are now getting the 2.0 of this story, which I hope to complete within a week or two.

For those unfamiliar with this work, the story follows OC's in the same universe as The Last Spartan. Partly a prequel and mostly a parallel story, it is made to fill in spaces unchecked in the main fanfiction as well as compliment the elements already in place. How far the story will continue to go will depend on its reception and DinoJake's plans.

So with all of that said, we now bring you the story of 2nd Lieutenant Kyle Nolan, the last of an ancient breed…


….

1434 Hours, December 15th, 2682.

Chroa's Den

Citadel

Widow System, Serpent Nebula

….

"Eight fives."

2nd Lieutenant Kyle Nolan leaned back in his chair as the two privates across the table did a double take. He smirked as he glanced down at the overturned dice cups. He had them baited, so now it was just a matter of time. Private Taylor Jensen glanced to Private Devon Resolme before directing his attention back at Kyle.

"Not getting any younger here," Kyle replied with a smirk. Not to say Kyle wasn't somewhat youthful looking. His grown out red hair, piercing green yes, neatly trimmed beard and overall fit physique shaved a few years off his actual age, or so he had been told.

"You're kidding?" Jensen scoffed.

"Nope. I'm actually getting older by the second," Kyle joked, eliciting a couple chuckles from the group around them. They had been slowly but steadily drawing a crowd since their first round, not that he was surprised. Most humans had never seen a game of Liar's Dice being played, so he can only imagine what the aliens on the Citadel thought.

"It's a big pot, sir," Resolme said pointing to the flashing number on the display in the center of the table.

"Oh, I know."

The privates curiously peaked under their cups. Kyle did the same out of courtesy, focusing his thoughts on the low, pulsing rhythm of the club's music. He let his foot tap slightly to the beat as the privates lowered their cups.

"What kind of game are you playing, sir?" Resolme asked.

"Same one you're playing, private," Kyle replied lowering his cup too. "Or did you forget the last hour?"

"We just barely rolled."

"Then I better be right."

"You do know the odds of that, right?"

"Well, how does the saying go? 'Never tell me the odds?'"

Jensen suppressed a chuckle, but it didn't escape Kyle's notice.

"Sorry," Jensen said. "Just thought you wouldn't blow your retirement fund like this."

"Insults are a sign of shook nerves, private. And I haven't used a credit of my retirement fund here. How much pocket change are you going to walk away with if you lose?"

Jensen scoffed as Kyle checked the area around them. Red, blue and green lights danced around them as dancers did their work on poles above the bar as Asari waitresses served every kind of person their poison of choice. Kyle didn't usually go to clubs, but Jensen insisted on a bar that served Heineken that wasn't one of their regular human run joints. Still, he wouldn't have chosen Chora's Den if he had the option. At least the people at the human bars weren't looking for an excuse to pick a fight with an Alliance soldier.

"Maybe my luck will run out," Kyle then said turning his attention back to the game. "We've each won at least one round, so it's anyone's game."

"There's no way you can win three rounds in a row, sir." Resolme said.

"Then call me a lair."

Jensen checked under his cup again, quickly glancing at both Resolme and Kyle's cups before setting it down. He started to form a smirk as he focused his stare at Kyle. Kyle smiled back as he leaned forward. This is the part of the game Kyle enjoyed most. Liar's Dice was maybe five percent dice rolling and everything else was mind games.

"You seem a little too confident, sir." Jensen said.

"Oh?" Kyle replied.

"The jokes, the attitude, that smile. It's not like you. Elcor have better Poker faces than that."

Jensen was getting cocky, just as Kyle had hoped. He hadn't won the game yet, but if he was wrong, which he doubted, he was going milk the moment as much as he could.

"Well...pride goeth before the fall," Kyle replied putting the tip of his finger on the cup and spinning it along its rim slightly. "Maybe I have the only fives on the whole table. Or maybe I don't. Still...if I'm right, wouldn't that just be the worst? Someone is going to ask, 'Hey! Didn't you have more credits than that?' And you'll say, 'Yeah, but that old lieutenant beat me in a game I challenged him to.' Don't know about you, but that would be hard to live down."

"Not as bad as having a couple of privates clean house right under your nose all because you got a little greedy."

"Wouldn't be the first time for me and it won't be the last," Kyle said as he stopped spinning the cup and placed his hand over it. "So, you want to find out which story we'll be telling? Or do you want to waste more time talking?"

Jensen seemed to have gained a surge of confidence as he leaned forward and placed his hand on his own cup. Resolme followed his lead, feeding off of Jensen's confidence. Kyle tapped his fingers along the cup in anticipation as he could hear some of their spectators guess who was going to win.

"You're pretty bold, sir," Jensen said smiling.

"As are you, private," Kyle replied.

"But I'm not a liar!"

With that, all three of them lifted their cups and quickly scanned their dice. Resolme had two threes, two fives and a four. Jenson had three threes, one five and a two. Kyle had four fives and a one. For a moment, Kyle cursed to himself as he was convinced he had lost. Then something came to his attention.

"Yes!" The privates whooped and cheered at their supposed victory, prompting claps from several of their onlookers. Kyle simply smiled as he let them savor this moment. They made one fatal mistake.

"Hoo…" Resolme exhaled. "You almost had us there, sir."

"Yup," Jenson said opening his omni-tool to collect the pot. "It was a good run, but—"

"Excuse me," Kyle said wagging a finger at the privates, silencing everyone immediately. "Who said you won?"

Jensen and Resolme glanced at each other confused before looking back to the lieutenant, waiting for some clarification. Kyle could feel everyone else's eyes fall on him as well as he learned forward.

"Do you remember what rule set we agreed on before we started?"

"Yeah, Common Hand," Resolme replied looking over the dice. "Why does that—?" And that's when the private clued into what went wrong.

"What?" Jenson asked still not getting it.

"Look at my dice again and tell me what you forgot," Kyle asked.

Jenson leaned forward and mentally tallied the numbers again, comparing to his and Resolme's own dice. Somewhere in the middle of this, Kyle sensed a minor pause as Jenson seemed to piece it together. Based on some of the confused murmurs of their spectators though, it was clear not everyone was on the same page. So, Kyle pointed down to his one die.

"That's right," Kyle said with a smirk. "Ones are wild."

Resolme and Jenson's shoulders slumped, followed by a couple gasps from some of the spectators and claps from the others. Kyle stood from his seat and gave a couple mock bows to the crowd.

"Thank you! Thank you," he said as he turned to the table and opened his omni-tool to collect the pot. "Wow, I must say. I mean, not to gloat or anything, but that's a lot of credits I'm looking at and…well, damn."

"God…" Resolme groaned putting his hands to his head.

"Oh, it's not that bad," Kyle replied tapping at his omni-tool. "Besides, you wanted to play this game."

"Yeah, but I didn't think you actually knew how to play this game."

"Well that's what happens when you challenge someone to a game you've only seen on old action vids."

"There's no way you could have guessed that," Jenson interjected more annoyed than Resolme. "What kind of lenses do you have on your eyes?"

"Do you see anything, private?" Kyle said opening his lid slightly before closing his omni-tool. "I don't need to cheat to win. You want to rematch me later, be my guest. In the meantime, I'd suck it up and go enjoy the rest of my shore leave if I was you."

Jenson glared at the lieutenant before motioning to Resolme. "Come on…I need to top off my glass."

The privates skulked away from the table with some of the other spectators while Kyle pulled out a bag from his pocket to collect the game.

"That was an impressive bluff, human," a Sanghelli said to Kyle.

"Indeed it was, Sanghelli," Kyle replied picking up one of the cups.

"If it wouldn't be too much to ask…" The Sanghelli continued, giving Kyle pause. "I'm sure some of my friends would love to try this game. Mind if you can give me a quick tutorial?"

Kyle thought about it for a moment as he opened up a clock on his omni-tool. He then glanced up at the few people who had decided to stick around. He might have time for a couple more games if they went quick.

"…sure," he said putting the cup back down. "Who else wants to join?"

"I'm in," an Asari said taking the third seat as Kyle and the Sanghelli sat down, with an Unggoy and Salarian standing behind them to join the next game. "So," she said glancing back to the privates at the bar. "They're not too mad are they?"

"They'd be piss poor ODST if they were. They're part of the strongest branch in the Alliance military. They should be used to getting burned by now. Oh and just put all the dice in the cup," he added pointing to the dice in front of the Sanghelli. "Give it a couple good shakes when I say so and turn it upside down directly onto the table."

"That was a lot of credits to risk on a call like that right out of the gate," the Sanghelli said as he and the lifted their full cups. "How did you know?"

"…I didn't," Kyle said. "Remember, ones are wild."

"So you knew you might have lost all that money on a wild call?" The Asari asked.

"Every call is a wild call," Kyle added lifting his own cup. "If we knew everything that was going to happen before it did, life would be pretty boring. I mean, did the Spartans always know they would walk out of every fight unscathed during the Human-Covenant War? No, and a lot of them didn't. Still, for everyone no sad story of that son of a bitch who didn't make it, there's at least ten that sound too good to be true. A Spartan besting three Covenant squads with a half-emptied pistol? Another going toe to toe with a Mgalekgolo? These guys weren't afraid to take risks. Oh and shake."

The three of them shook their cups as Kyle continued,. "Some people say this was all because they were such superheroes that they couldn't be beat regardless. Some say they were just better prepared for difficult situations because of their gear and training. In the end though, I think it's something so simple that we forget how true it is…"

Kyle looked up to the other two with a smirk as he turned over his cup. "…sometimes people are just really damn lucky."


Classified Date, 2657

SSV Harvest

In Orbit Around Planet Shanxi

...

"And how are we going to go in?"

"WE GO FEET FIRST, SIR!"

"Damn right we do!" 1st Lieutenant Dominic Ralston barked in reply to his squad's answer. This little pep talk was a routine for all ODST squads before a combat drop, but few did it with as much gusto as the lieutenant. There was no doubt from his graying temples and rugged appearance that he had done this plenty of times himself and would do it again for years to come.

Which Kyle hoped to live long enough to see. It had only been a few minutes since the Harvest had exited Slipspace with the rest of the first wave of ships and everyone around him was itching for some action. He could see some of the other soldiers twiddling their trigger fingers, gripping their weapons expectantly and trying hard to contain the sweat on their brows.

Kyle was definitely one of those sweating soldiers, letting out a quiet but long sigh to calm his nerves as he gripped his helmet in his hand. It was only his second week attached to Bravo squad and he had barely begun to get the hang of things when they got the call. He knew his first official combat mission would be a big deal, but he never suspected he would one of the first group of people to fight a war against an unknown alien race. It was a far cry from a simple recon mission.

He wiped his brow quickly as he looked back to the lieutenant, who strolled down the line of soldiers in their pods with his hands behind his back.

"You men and women are the luckiest sons of bitches in all the known galaxy," Ralston continued. "You are going to war against a bunch of feckless shit heel aliens who pick on civilian colonies than stand up against the combined power of the Alliance military."

"OOH RAH!" Several of the soldiers shouted in unison.

"Damn right! Even those gas sucking Unggoy have more balls than these 'Raptor' bastards. That's why Admiral Drescher has sent us in the first wave to tear them a new asshole. And if they don't have one, we'll tear them one anyway!"

"OOH RAH!" Kyle joined in with the rest of the soldiers. 'Raptor' was the nickname that stuck with many of the Alliance branches for these new aliens based on how they looked in the vids. It was a tradition as old as the Human-Covenant War to give nicknames to new alien races and the ODST weren't going to give it up just because they got rid of the old ones. These aliens weren't part of their treaty agreement, so there was no need for political correctness here. Now if only the rest of the ODST could agree on calling them this nickname. Some of the soldiers have tried introducing an ODST specific nickname and they wouldn't stop until one stuck. So far, they all kind of sucked. No one said the ODST were known for creativity.

"There's only one thing standing in our way," Ralston continued reaching the end of the corridor and turning back. "We got wind from the 'Spooks' at ONI that the Raptors have put anti-air batteries around the planned landing areas. If they aren't dealt with quickly, we're going to have trouble landing our birds so we can get more armor and support on the ground. Does that sound like a good idea to any of you?"

"SIR NO SIR!"

"Me neither! That's why 'Command' sent the toughest branch in the Alliance military to take those batteries out and make this day the worst day of these Raptors soon to be tragically short lives. They think we'll just turn the other cheek when they slap us in the face?"

"SIR NO SIR!"

"Damn right! They slap us and we ram a foot up their ass. Don't be fooled by our friends from the Sanghelli Empire. They may have graciously sent their soldiers to help, but this is a HUMAN planet. This is a HUMAN colony. So it's only right that HUMAN soldiers will be the ones to teach these freaks that we will not belly up like a puppy and play nice. You mess with one of us. You mess with all of us!"

"OOH RAH!" Kyle shouted again with the group. He couldn't help but feel pumped up by the lieutenant's words. He had been just as angry as anyone else over the news of Shanxi's occupation. The Raptors had bombarded General William's forces for days before they surrendered. He wasn't shocked, since Shanxi only had so much resistance they could give, but everyone was pretty convinced that wouldn't be enough. The Raptors would be close enough to the Mass Relays that, should they too cocky, they could use Shanxi as a staging planet for an assault on Earth.

There was no way the Alliance would even entertain that thought. It took them a while, but they managed to rally their allies from the former Covenant races to launch a preemptive counter-offense to take the planet back. This first fight was simply phase one of Operation: SUCKER PUNCH and it may well be the deciding factor for how their campaign against their Raptors would go. No one wanted this to be a repeat of the Harvest campaign from the Human-Covenant War, so this needed to be just the right morale boost should the Raptors retaliate in force.

"Stick with your groups and don't let them scatter you," Ralston said. "Your priority is the anti-air batteries. Let the other ground forces take on the bulk of their forces. The rest of Drescher's fleet is counting on us, so show them why the ODST is the backbone of this great military."

"Attention," the ship's AI signaled over the intercom. "We have engaged the enemy fleet. All hands prepare to drop in T-minus thirty seconds."

"You heard the hologram!" Ralston barked walking back down the corridor. "Close up and get ready!"

Kyle took deep breaths as he put on his helmet and pressed a button on the pod's side. The hatch door hissed as it slowly sealed him inside this small crammed space. The sounds of the ship filtered out as the hatch fully closed, leaving him alone with his thoughts and the sounds of his anxious breathing. He had only done one proper drop prior to this and it was one hell of a ride. Now he was going to help liberate a planet! Still shaking, he reached out and grabbed the ODST Hurricane Mark II sub-machine gun off the rack to his right. It was long past the point to quit, so he had to grin and bear it as he positioned himself for the drop.

As the countdown timer continued to tick down, Kyle's thoughts turned back to his family. Still gripping his machine gun in one hand, he reached down and gripped the handle of the old fashioned M6D pistol in his side holster. His grandfather carried this gun through the entire Human-Covenant War and it became a family tradition that everyone who served would wear it into their first mission. Sure, it wasn't as advanced as their current weaponry, but it still packed one hell of a punch at close range. It filled Kyle with some comfort knowing that in a way, his grandfather would be right beside him in this fight.

He synced the TEAMCOM communication system in his helmet just in time to catch Ralston's final words to the squad. "—is our time, everyone. Give them hell the ODST way."

"Five seconds," the AI said through the pod's speakers. Kyle took a deep breath and closed his eyes as he felt his heart pounding. Anticipation was killing him more than anything right now, so he could only imagine what the action fight would be like. All he could do was wait for the—

"Good luck," was the last thing Ralston said as his pod disengaged and the young ODST private plummeted through the Harvest towards Shanxi's surface…


Kyle looked down from the artificial sky in the Presidium Commons as a gentle ambient tune played from a nearby speaker. It only added to the soothing environment complimented by the Commons' smooth architecture and white color scheme. It was mostly for show and it was not enough to convince him to live on the Citadel, but he wasn't surprised some people considered this part of it a little slice of paradise.

He pocketed his gloved hands into his Alliance uniform's pockets, nodding to the other soldiers and civilians passing him by on their way to wherever they were going. He was equally as preoccupied with his own thoughts, currently going through a spontaneous burst of self-reflection. Twenty years. He had spent twenty years in service to the ODST. That carried its fair share of victories and defeats, let alone all the moments in-between. Still, he worked as hard as any other soldier in the branch to get where he was now.

Still, he didn't like to think that being a 2nd Lieutenant made him any better any other soldier. He was definitely more experienced and carried more responsibility than other soldiers, but it wasn't in his place to brag about his rank. That was for military meetings and formal dinner parties with people he didn't know.

There were none of those today though and he couldn't be more grateful for that. Not only was it a shore leave day, but it was also a shore leave day in December. Seeing other excited humans in the Presidium marketplace only reinforced the fact that Christmas was in the air. The other Citadel races would just have to deal with it.

Kyle stopped at the end of the line for a nearby store and peaked past the crowd to the front. A Krogan jabbered with the vendor about some refund or whatever he was motioning to, which meant that Kyle might be there for a while. He didn't mind though, letting his eyes drift as he watched humans, Sanghelli, Unggoy, Asari, Elcor, Salarians and more go about their business around him. It had taken a while to get used to so many different races all in one place. The former Covenant races were one thing, but now there were even more cultural fine points and sensitivities to account for. Hell, it was only a short while ago that the ODST had officially dropped the nicknames adopted during the First Contact War. Still, Alliance soldiers had to be examples of their race at all times, so Kyle had to learn how to adapt quickly. It was hard not to stare at the occasional person though.

He opened a note on his omni-tool and quickly skim read it. Winning all those credits was for more than bragging rights. There were some outstanding Christmas gift requests from back home and he was going to get the best items he could if he could help it. There weren't going to be any bargain bin gifts this year, no sir. Still, it was going to take a while to track down some of these items. A copy of the new Keyes biography from Jonathan Nylund, a "My Life with Bipbap" Omni-Tool customization pack, a subscription to Citadel Home Design's streaming channel, a model replica of the Pillar of Autumn, the Emmy Award winning Rain Forest War documentary…

"Earth-Clan!" A voice ahead of him spoke.

Kyle looked up to see that the line ahead of him was gone and the Volus cashier was waiting on him. He quickly walked to the counter holding a hand up in apology. "Sorry. Had to check on something."

"I'm sure," the cashier said, taking a breath from his gas tank after every sentence. "Well, welcome to Sirta. How can I be of service?"

"Well I got this list," Kyle said holding his omni-tool up to a scanner. "I just want to see which items from my list you have and if you can gift warp for delivery."

"That we can. Let me check the database for those items," The Volus said pulling up a data pad from under the counter and scrolling through some tabs. "You're not the first Earth-Clan I've met doing holiday shopping today."

"Probably won't be the last either, huh?"

"Don't remind me. It's those last few days that are the worst. What makes humans so crazy about this 'Christmas' anyway?"

"Who doesn't love gifts? We shouldn't need an excuse to give people stuff, but we make them anyway."

The Volus nodded as he put the datapad down. "We've got a few of these items still in stock. You can probably just order the documentary season through the extranet."

"Yeah…my brother-in-law is one of those old school types who likes having both a hard and digital copy just in case."

"Fair enough. You're probably not going to find much luck with that model replica though."

"Oh?" Kyle said raising an eyebrow.

"That's a popular model with Earth-Clan this year. We sold our last one half an hour ago. You might be lucky with that store though," the Volus said pointing behind him.

Kyle turned around to see a not particularly busy vendor nearby. What caught his attention, however, was the Turian cashier waiting patiently at the counter.

"…are you sure there isn't a better store?" Kyle asked the Volus.

"Probably, but none that would have that model in stock. I know that Fyl'gun said they ordered extras just in case."

Kyle frowned as he narrowed his gaze at the Turian. He didn't have to think this one over.

"Just ring me up for the items you got," he said tapping on his omni-tool. He was sure some other store was carrying that model that wasn't being run by a Raptor…


Kyle's drop pod rumbled as it pierced Shanxi's atmosphere and light flooded the window in front of his face. His helmet's visor quickly adjusted for the brightness as he looked out to the distance. He had taken flights through atmospheres before, but something about this view was particularly appealing. Dawn was breaking across the surface as the system's sun peaked over the horizon, engulfing the sky with a flash of orange, yellow and red. It was quite poetic honestly; light piercing through darkness to bring a brand new day to the planet. He should have brought a helmet camera.

Other drop pods soon came into view, speed lines flowing around them as the drop intensified. He noticed several of the pods were Sanghelli ones, with their slick edges giving them a little more velocity than the bulkier Alliance pods. This would be the first big cooperative offensive these two groups will have done since the treaty was signed. It was hard to believe that these races were at each other's throats only a few years back. Now they had a common enemy to unite against.

"All units repor…say again, all units report in," Captain Jessica Turner's voice crackled over the TEAMCOM.

Kyle winked green through his TEAMCOM as he assumed everyone else followed suit.

"Good," Turner replied. "We're almost groundside."

"What do you think the 'Boneheads' will throw at us, ma'am?" Corporal Kevin Shinjiro asked.

"The what?"

"'Boneheads.' You know, because they got bone like stuff on their faces."

"…whatever. I assume troops and artillery, Corporal. We've got you covered."

Kyle could hear Shinjiro sigh through the TEAMCOM. Each group in the squad was assigned a VIP whose main goal was to shut down the batteries. It wasn't as easy as it sounds, since none of them had much experience with this race's tech. Still, they had enough experience with the tech available with their races that they could give it a good shot.

Right then, Kyle felt his pod shake violently. He braced himself against the sides as the pod prepared itself for the final leg of the descent.

"Gah!" Private Duerden exclaimed over the TEAMCOM.

"Almost there, folks," Turner said. "Grab your gear and—"

A small ding against Kyle's pod interrupted that thought. Which was followed by more dings, whizzing noises and eventually missiles going past them!

"Ground fire!" Turner exclaimed. "Watch out!"

Kyle felt helpless as they continued to drop. The pods were shielded to endure a fair amount of punishment, but a well-placed shot could easily knock them out of the sky. It was hard to direct the pods at this speed, so they could only hope to not get—

Before he could even say that, a missile flew up and stuck Duerden's pod in front of his. Kyle flinched as debris and fire erupted before trailing up into sky. There wasn't even time for that poor man to react before they turned his pod into a funeral pyre.

"Shit!" Shinjiro shouted.

"Stay focused!" Turner shouted back.

Kyle's knees shook as he gripped his gun and peaked out the window. Past the gunfire and missiles, he could make out their target below them. A bunker with a giant cannon placed on top of it sat on a lush grassy hill littered with Raptor forces, barricades and weapon placements. All the ODST would have for cover were large rocks and the barricades should they push these guys back.

Kyle closed his eyes and prayed silently. If God was listening, He surely knew how he felt right now. All he wanted was to land as soon and safely as possible.

"Brace for impact!"

The pod violently shook one last time as it collided into Shanxi's surface. After regaining his footing, Kyle opened his eyes to see that he had landed safely. What's more, the impact had knocked two Raptor soldiers onto the ground in front of him. It was weird seeing these aliens this up close. The vids only showed so much of how they looked with the spikes on top of their heads, the bone-like material covering their faces, the bird like mouths and other features. And here he thought Kig-Yar were ugly up close.

The pod hissed as the hatch prepared to unseal. There was no more time to get ready. Kyle exhaled one last deep breath as his visor displayed his vitals and tactical information. An alarm blared through the pod as the hatch flung open in an instant.

Showtime!

Kyle shouted at the top of his lungs as he ran out of the pod and shot a flurry of Hurricane rounds at the Raptors. Still disorientated from the impact, they didn't stand much of a chance as they were quickly torn apart.

He ran past their corpses as he spotted his first incline towards ascending the hill. Unfortunately, a group of Raptors were there to greet him with retaliating fire. Kyle quickly dove behind a nearby rock as their rounds flung dirt and bits of rock around him.

He looked back to see several other ODST running up to his position. One took a round to the hip and collapsed to his knees before another round struck him in the chest. Another sprinted like an Olympian firing back at the Raptors with his Gorgon Assault Rifle until he took cover behind another rock nearby. Two more found themselves pinned down behind Kyle's pod trying to fire back against the assailants.

"Covering fire!" The ODST, identified on his visor as Sergeant Terrence Morgan, from the other rock shouted to Kyle. He nodded in reply, poking out from the rock and shooting at the Raptors. The lower elevation was not working to their advantage though, as the Raptors easily moved past their rounds to a barricade. Kyle moved back behind the rock as they redirected fire his way once again.

"We can't hit him!" He shouted through the TEAMCOM to Morgan.

"No shit!" The sergeant replied before redirecting to the squad's channel. "Bravo squad, this is Bravo Three! We've got men pinned down. Requesting support."

"This is Bravo Six! We're taking fire—"

"—oger that. Moving into position—"

"—requesting assistance. We got tangos coming through—"

"—damn it!" Morgan cursed. Everyone was dealing with their own problems at the moment, so help wasn't coming soon.

Something that looked like a grenade flew past the two of them and landed in front of the pod, flinging heaps of dirt against it as the other two ODST took cover.

"Nolan!" Morgan shouted to Kyle motioning his arms towards the Raptors. "Here's the plan. We got to move—"

Right then, an energy shot beam zipped between them and struck one of the Raptors between the eyes, eliciting a quick shout before it collapsed. This was followed by a flurry of plasma rounds shooting up from behind the pinned ODST. Kyle and Morgan looked back to see a squad of Sanghelli, Unggoy and Kig-Yar soldiers charge up the hill. Two more Raptors fell behind the barricade before the rest retreated back to a new location.

"Maksimov! Jaskolski!" Morgan shouted back to the previously pinned ODST. The two of them moved up next to Morgan as the sergeant motioned over to Kyle. "Follow my lead. We got to find Shinjiro. Move your ass, Nolan!"

The four of them broke from their cover and stormed the hill. As they made their way up, more ODST, Sanghelli, Unggoy, Kig-Yar and now Mgalekgolo were charging alongside them. Plasma and bullets shot up the hill as they dodged around the Raptor's rounds.

One Unggoy took a round to his side and collapsed onto the ground wailing as his comrades went to pick him up.

"Leave him!" An Unggoy in a commander outfit shouted to his squad. "Stick behind the Mgalekgolo!"

They followed his orders as they staggered behind the hulking armored brutes. The Raptors might not have feared the humans yet, but they definitely learned to be very afraid of the Mgalekgolo. Fuel rod rounds blasted barricades into pieces as the Raptors' returning fire merely bounced off the Mgalekgolo armor. Kyle grinned as he saw one knock its giant arm shield into two nearby enemies as its bond brother fired a fuel rod round into a nearby vehicle, blowing it up in a green and orange fireball. They were an awesomely terrifying sight!

Things got even better as a large metallic object crashed a few yards ahead of them, squishing a Raptor underneath. It's outer shielding collapsed, revealing a custom designed ODST Mantis walker with a minigun attachment. The walker's legs stretched out and the pilot cage closed up as turned to face the enemy.

"Die, you maggots!" The walker pilot shouted as minigun tore through several Raptors, cutting them to ribbons. Kyle couldn't enjoy this sight for long, however, as he saw an enemy sniper round pierce through the neck of a Sanghelli in front of him. The alien fell onto his knees, gurgling blood out of his split mouth as he futilely held his hands over its throat.

"Go! Go! Go!" Morgan shouted as ODST broke out from behind the armor and returned fire. Another sniper round struck one ODST through the chest, sending him tumbling down until his body came to a stop. A different ODST retaliated by pulling a grenade launcher from her back and blasting a group of four Raptors, with a couple of them getting their limbs blown off. Above them, a hive of Yanme scurried about firing wildly at the Raptors, picking off an enemy for every few of their own shot out of the sky.

At the top of the hill, turrets and reinforcements joined the fight. The ODST and other forces covered hopped between abandoned barricades, the Mgalekgolo and the environment as they fought for every inch they crossed. Every second felt like an eternity as Kyle ran alongside his fellow soldiers, panting as he shot and reloaded as much as humanly possible.

"We've got them on the run!" Turner shouted through TEAMCOM as Kyle spotted her ahead of him. Following behind her was a group of Kig-Yar, surrounding themselves with their shields Roman style as several Sanghelli Zealots barreled headlong through enemy fire with energy swords in hand. Dirt, grass and rocks fell all around Kyle as he looked over to see even more fighting going on all around them from the rest of their attack force. He couldn't see their progress, but he could only hope they were doing even better than his group was right now.

They hadn't won yet, however, as Kyle was reminded by seeing a Kig-Yar explode into pieces from a grenade blast ahead of him. The Raptors were not going to give up even an inch of soil without a fight and his group met them every inch of the way in a slow climb to the top…


"That will be a thousand credits!"

Kyle slipped out from his daydream, returning his attention to an Unggoy cashier waiting expectantly for a response.

"Oh right! Sorry…" he apologized as he ran some numbers on his omni-tool. After fiddling around on the Extranet for half an hour, he found a store selling a Pillar of Autumn model. It wasn't the nicest looking location and of course the price was jacked up due to demand, but beggars couldn't be choosers in this case.

"All righty! Credits all got and gift wrapped tight!" The Unggoy chirped as he worked the store terminal. "Shipping it in…two days."

"Two days?"

"Lots of hummies sending stuff."

"Fine…well, then would it be ok to put in a personalized note before you send it?"

"Sure sure!" The Unggoy said opening a new holographic screen. "What I write?"

"Hm…I dunno. Just write, 'Merry Christmas, Sandy. Love, Uncle Kyle."

"Awww!" Unggoy said with a chuckle. "Hummies love."

Kyle smiled slightly, not seeing what was so funny but going along with it anyway. The sooner this was done, the sooner he could get back to his ship.

"And done!" The Unggoy said closing the screen. "Thank you for shopping at Dip-Dup's Pawn and—"

"Yeah, that's cool, bye!" Kyle quickly interrupted as he walked away. Better not to waste the gas in that little guy's tank on something he wasn't interested in.

As he made his way towards the nearest elevator block, he took a moment to soak in the muted but more relaxed tones of the Lower Wards. All walks of life passed him by, including a few of the 'lower races' like Jiralhanae and Yanme that you would be lucky to find anywhere in the Presidium. Neon lit advertisements for everything from the latest Asari health product to more…salacious offers sought for his attention at every corner. Video screens broadcast the latest Citadel Security reports on crimes busted likely a few yards from where Kyle just walked by. Not exactly an ideal place to raise a family, but at least it was more transparent. People on the Presidium were too focused on enhancing their image or the image of their species, where down here everyone just wanted to make it to the next day. Not too far off from Earth life, though C-Sec could do better on tempering the crime rates. Still, if, and only if, Kyle had to live on the Citadel, he might possibly consider a place in these parts.

Business folks, armed mercenaries and other people walked beside him as they all ascended the staircase to the block. He wasn't particularly thrilled to share a lift with them, especially with how damn slow the ride was in those little glass fishbowls they called elevators. You would think that the Keepers would make speeding the process up a priority…

…and it looked like they thought so too. As everyone reached the top, Kyle heard scattered groans as the way was obstructed by holographic yellow tape.

"Unscheduled repairs are in progress," an Asari C-Sec officer called out near the elevator as mantis like Keepers bustled about doing their work. "We apologize for the inconvenience. If you need directions to the nearest block, please consult your omni-tools or the nearest map available."

"Oh come on!" A Salarian politician near the front of the group complained. "I've got a meeting at the Presidium in five minutes."

"You heard the woman," a human C-Sec officer next to the other replied. "Nothing we can do. The Keepers go where they please. Give your people a call if there are any problems."

Well, looks like Kyle was going to take the long way. Fortunately for him, he remembered an unorthodox shortcut Sergeant Mink showed him during a trip to C-Sec headquarters. So as the mass of people continued to murmur over their interrupted schedules, he ducked into a nearby alleyway and picked up the pace of his stroll.

If the Lower Wards in general seemed uninviting, this alley was outright a warning of violence. Steam simmered from a nearby floor vent, colored by the bright red lights stretched across the walls. Save for some scattered rubbish and a couple Keepers working nearby wall terminals, it was completely empty. Kyle wasn't armed at the moment, but he figured he could avoid a fight if he just moved quickly. He didn't have a reason to stall—

"I said get away!"

Kyle abruptly stopped as he heard that shout. The accent and filtered voice meant it was probably a Quarian, but for all he knew it was just some spat with a lover or some family member. Nothing he needed to—

"You're behind on your payments and Fisk isn't a cheerful person when people try to cheat him."

A Turian? Now they had Kyle's attention. He could recognize that reverberating drone of their voice from anywhere and it didn't sound like it was just some little argument. And this was happening just up ahead around the nearest bend. Kyle quietly made his way up and pressed against the wall, poking his head out to peek at what was going on.

Three Turian thugs had backed a Quarian female up against a wall. One of them was notably larger than the others, with unique face tattoos Kyle hadn't seen before. The one to his left was a really ugly looking bastard, with left mouth mandibles broken off and burn scars across the right side of his face. The third was a small one brandishing a jagged tooth dagger with a pistol strapped to his hip. With no one around to watch them and no cameras recording this particular place, they get harass this woman easily.

"I paid Fisk in full this morning," the Quarian replied to the large Turian. "Whoever is doing your numbers must be blind."

"Aw, you're going to insult poor Ful'get like that?" The large Turian said mockingly. "Well, I saw his screen myself and I'm afraid the giant zero speaks for itself."

"Zero? I've been paying in installments! How could there be a zero?"

"You tell us, gas sucker," the little one quipped as he stroked his pistol's handle.

Kyle could feel his blood boil watching those disgusting fingers stroke that pistol. It was one thing that these guys were blocking his way to the elevators, but someone was clearly going to get hurt very soon unless something happened.

"We don't suck gas, you racist bosh'tet!" The Quarian snapped at the little one.

"'You racist bosh'tet!'" The ugly Turian mocked. "Guys, I think she hurt our delicate little feelings with her horribly judgmental language."

The other Turians chuckled as the large one stepped closer to the Quarian. "You're going to need more than words to settle a ten thousand credit loan."

"I barely have enough left to eat!" The Quarian protested, noticeably trying to contain a growing sense of panic. "Run the numbers again. Go ask Xanik. I messaged him today about the final payment."

"Xanik's the guy who sent us," the ugly Turian replied as he and the little one also stepped up to the Quarian. "So tell us again, how are we going to resolve this little problem?"

After a few seconds of silence, the Quarian made an attempt to run. She was stopped almost immediately as two Turian hands wrapped around her waist and neck. Kyle could feel his hands slowly but tightly ball into fists.

"Let me go!" The Quarian shouted in an unsuccessful attempt to fight back. "Help!"

"Scream all you want," the large one said with a smirk as he mockingly cupped a hand near his ear. "You hear anyone coming? C-Sec has better things to worry about than a lying little urchin like you."

"Got any ideas, Quin'del?" The little one asked squeezing his arms tight around her neck, bending the poor woman back from their height difference.

"Hm…a couple. But I don't think she's hearing us clearly. Take off her mask so she can give me her full attention."

As the Quarian continued to struggle and the little one reached for her face mask, Kyle was already on the move. He hardly felt his feet touch the ground as he ran straight at the Turians, his eyes locked onto his first target. It had been too long since he kicked some Raptor ass and now he could use self-defense as an excuse…

...

Codex Entry (Alliance): Orbital Drop Shock Troopers

A Special Operations unit of the Alliance Marine Corps, Orbital Drop Shock Troopers specialize in small scale, high-risk combat operations. Though known for the eponymous insertion strikes, ODST forces are also trained to handle military and paramilitary responsibilities including long-range reconnaissance, sabotage, counter-contraband, counter-terrorism and guerilla warfare operations.

Previously a fledgling branch of the former United Nations Space Command, the ODST came to fame following successful campaigns in the outer colonies insurrection, the Human-Covenant War and the First Contact War. Their all-volunteer recruitment, chosen through rigorous screening and training procedures, allows for a diverse combat catalogue that seeks out the best in human combat experience. Furthermore, ODST troopers are often tasked with field-testing Alliance weaponry and armor, often receiving customized equipment suited for their operations.

Because of this, the ODST prides itself with a unique sense of identity and brotherhood apart from any other Alliance branch. Though criticized by some for their 'clique' mentality, the camaraderie developed within their squads has shown a statistical improvement in their combat performance. As such, the Alliance's Naval Special Warfare Command regularly attach and rotate ODST squads among Alliance cruisers and outposts to lend their combat expertise as well as boost morale among the other soldiers.

For more information on the ODST's purpose, consult your local Extranet station.

...


Continue on to Remember Shanxi Part 2 to see how all of this malarkey turns out! For those of you who are unfamiliar with DinoJake's The Last Spartan story or want a refresher, click on the link below to catch up:

s/5939286/1/The-Last-Spartan