Four Hours Later

"Okay, now LIFT!" Shepherd ordered as he helped a team of soldiers lift up a chunk of wall to be used as a barricade. In the past four hours, the company sized group of survivors had managed to build a wall tall enough for the mechs to kneel and take cover behind, and still have infantry support. Outside the walls, the demolition engineers were gleefully placing all manner of explosive ordinance on the ground, ready to rip apart any turian force that came along.

Right now, Caleb was helping make a series of foxholes and crude bunkers, in the event that the turians came through the walls. Which, considering the size of the opposing force, was almost a certainty. "Okay okay, keep it up, keep it up! And set down!" Caleb said as he and the others set down the chunk of rubble.


Caleb turned and saw Kel heading his way. "Okay, keep up the good work!" he told the soldiers as he went over to meet Kel. "You need anything Kel?"

Kel looked around nervously as she spoke to him. [Shepherd, what if the turians don't honor their word?] she asked him. [What if they attack early?]

Shepherd chuckled as he looked around at the busy soldiers, and the Minutemen that were on guard duty. "Easy, we kick their asses same as we've been doing!"

"Shep, we've got incoming!" Jenkins said over the radio. "Birds, three count, coming in on bearing two six seven! ETA thirty!"

"Everyone heads up!" Caleb shouted as his and Grace's Minutemen swerved their weapons to their left, aiming up. "We've got incoming! Rocket teams, move in!" All over the camp, soldiers moved to either get out of sight, or in the case of eight of the assembled soldiers, to prepare firing surface-to-air missiles.

"In range in ten! Looks like gunships Shep!"

Caleb rushed with Kel underneath a piece of rubble. "All units, fire the moment you have lock!"

The assembled troops soon had a look at the three harshly angled aircraft coming in. Without preamble, the rocket troops and the Minutemen opened fire, sending SAMs and twenty-five millimeter spikes up in the air. The three gunships managed to withstand the onslaught of spikes fairly well…up until the missiles hit their shields. With that crucial defense gone, the Minutemen quickly made mincemeat of the gunships, as each of them spun out of control, smoking and crashing to the ground.

Shepherd looked at the direction the gunships came from. "Alright people, we need to move a little bit faster!" he said, moving to pick up a table. "Come on people, we can do it!"


Desolas growled as the commander of his air forces came up to him. "General, our gunships managed to make visual contact with the enemy camp," the commander told him. "However, they were quickly destroyed soon after. No survivors."

"That damned human," Desolas growled. "How is it that three heavy gunships, piloted by your best crews, fell to a ragged cluster of infantry?!"

The commander backed up, scared. "S-Sir, I have no control over their defensive capabilities!" she told him. Desolas whirled around, his subharmonics steeped in angry bass.

"THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY DEFENSIVE CAPABILITIES!" he roared. "Go! Get out of my sight!"

The commander very quickly got the hell out of the room, none too eager to stay on Desolas' bad side. Fuming, Desolas strode over to the next room, where the human general was strapped to a chair. [Having a little trouble?] Williams asked, his words slightly slurred due to the sheer beating and bruising that he had received.

[Your men are more stubborn than my incompetent commanders expected,] Desolas said, glaring. [I expect this "Roughneck Two-Three" to surrender after we kill his unit.]

Williams looked up, glaring. [Good fucking luck,] he spat out.

Desolas chuckled darkly. [And then 'General,'] Desolas said, drawing closer, [I will personally see your world burn.] Getting up, Desolas turned away and left.

Williams hung his head down. That turian was insane. But what could he do? After all, he was just a prisoner of war, and it didn't seem like the turians were the type to not practice total war. Out of the corner of his eye, Williams saw another turian come in, pulling behind some equipment.

"Oh, bug it all to hell."


Hound and his fireteam were resting as they looked at the turian encampment in front of them. "Alright, anyone have any ideas?" Hound asked as he looked at the base's defenses again through a pair of field glasses.

"Well," Butch said quietly, "We could snipe their guards, sneak in, and rig their powerplant to blow."

Hound shook his head. "Too obvious, and no guarantees we'll get out. Jayne, what do you think?"

Jayne looked at the mess below. "Well, I saw that they're leaving some of their cars unguarded," he drawled. "I figure we still sneak in, but we sabotage anything we can figure out, and then leave to watch the fireworks." Hound looked down and nodded.

"Alright. We follow Jayne's plan. Butch, bring the rear. Royce, take point. Strict silence unless necessary," Hound ordered. "Now lock and load."

The team of Marines snuck over to the edge of the turian encampment, keeping an eye out for any patrols and drones as they did so. Hound had decided to take point, not because he was an officer, but simply out of personal preference. That, and Butch wasn't really known for his subtlety; then again, seeing as he could play the bagpipes, and strike the fear of all things Scottish, it was probably for the best.

Soon they reached the edge of the encampment when Hound held up his fist to stop the group. The others stopped in place, frozen as Hound scanned the area. There! Small turian squad, ten strong, coming towards them, not aware of their presence. Hound crouched down, weapon at the ready just in case.

However, the turians stopped as the radio squealed softly. "Fuck, some kind of all frequency broadcast!" hissed one of the Marines as they dropped down as low as they could to the ground. Hound could only be still as the broadcast played out.


Shepherd was in a hastily erected tent looking over plans when the radio squawked. As everyone fell silent, Shepherd sat down and listened as a familiar voice began talking.

[Roughneck, you have been a rather… shall I say, interesting pain in my fringe since we met,] Desolas stated. [However, let it not be said that I have given you ample opportunity to surrender. As you haven't, I have been forced to take rather unsavory measures.]

Suddenly, there was a crackle, followed by a tormented scream of pain coming from the radio. [This is one of your comrades. A General Williams. He is currently subject to enough electricity to jumpstart a krogan's hearts. All in an effort to end this war. And I tell you this, because after I end your miserable resistance, I shall see your homeworld burn as your family bows to turian law.]

Veretti glanced over to his friend and noted, with steadily increasing dread, that Caleb was dead still, the trooper's knuckles white as he gripped the table.

[I shall see to it that your name is stricken from any histories! Do you understand you primitive excuse for a pyjak?!]

Everyone in the tent watched or listened as Shepherd took a deep breath. And when he opened his eyes, Veretti almost flinched at the cold, hardened look.


"Dammit, we need to get the general out of here!" hissed one of Hound's marines as they listened to the transmission. Hound looked back, ready to scold the trooper when he heard a voice he didn't he'd hear come over the radio.

"General Arterius," said the voice of his son in the most even tone that Hound had ever heard, "This is Acting Commander Lieutenant Shepherd. I have watched as you committed your troops to wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians. I have noted that you and your naval counterpart have not once asked to discuss any of this diplomatically."


Desolas could feel his face pale as he heard the human's name. While he understood that it was translated, he couldn't help but suppress a shudder at hearing what sounded like the name of an ancient turian spirit, one that governed the aspect of retribution in war.

"I just want you to know that while you took out the five warships that were here, it took nearly half of the initial ships to do so. And from what I've read from our quarian friends down here, you haven't had an engagement of this scale that lasted over a week for nearly a thousand years. Note General, that the brave soldiers you killed were just militia men supported by select elements of humanities armies."


All across Shanxi, people were listening to the radio as Shepherd continued to talk, hope filling their hearts. "General Arterius, as of now, you have committed an act of war with the United Nations Systems Alliance. And you will lose. The next time we meet again General, I will not be as cordial as I have been.

"This is Shepherd, signing off."


"Umm, Shep, are you sure it's a good idea to piss off the alien general who actually has an army at his disposal?" Veretti asked as Shepherd walked out of the tent, his posture stiff as the freshly promoted trooper scanned the chaos around him.

"Sun Tzu wrote that if you make your opponent angry enough, he'll make mistakes, and when he does, you take advantage of them," Shepherd said calmly as he went over to his mech. Veretti rolled his eyes.

"So what, you're following the advice of a dead Chinese general to attack to the turians?" he asked. Shepherd snorted.

"Angelo, I have to make sure that everyone here doesn't die in vain," he said, stopping to look at his friend. "And to that end, I need to do everything I can to make sure that the turians don't win this battle."

"How?" Veretti blurted out, exasperated. "How do you expect us to win when we can't even fight them on even terms?!"

Shepherd smirked. "Even terms? V, whoever said about fighting fair? Oleg!" Shepherd said into his radio.


"Grab your gear, I've got a job for you if you're up to it," Shepherd said, looking at Veretti.

"Well, what is it?"

"High value extraction," Shepherd explained. "Secondary objective is sabotage. Savvy?"

"Ah, so you do love me!" Oleg said as he walked away from where he was working with some troops. "Da, I will get what I need. Any time limits?"

"As fast as you can," Shepherd stated. "Just go whenever you're ready."

"Will do."

"If anyone's near the big radio, patch me in, all frequencies, and encrypt," Shepherd ordered. Soon, he heard a pop, signaling the patch. "Listen up. This is Shepherd calling for MARSOC, respond MARSOC."

There was silence for a few seconds before he got a response. "This is Hound, responding. What do you need lieutenant?" Shepherd gulped as he recognized his father's voice.

"Hound, do you see any turian encampments?"

"Sitting next to one. Why?"

"Alright, I'm sending in a Spetnaz operative to find and secure a VIP, with a side job of screwing with the turians. I want to know if you can help him out."

"Consider it done. And son?"

Shepherd looked at Veretti as he switched it the call to a private channel. "Yes sir?"

"…I'm proud of what you're doing kiddo. Way to stick it to the other guy. Just don't do it again, alright?" Hound said. Shepherd laughed.

"No promises on that last part sir," he said. "Just make sure you get through this alive, alright?"

"Wilco Caleb. Hound out."

Shepherd smiled as he cut the channel. Looking at the assembled soldiers and civvies looking at him, he bellowed, "What are you all standing around for? ASSHOLES AND ELBOWS, MOVE IT OUT! THE TURIANS AREN'T GOING TO THEIR AFTERLIFE BY THEMSELVES! MOVE IT TROOPERS!"



A/N: Thank you for being patient with me these last few months. I've had to deal with moving to a new town, and then working full time and trying to get into the military.

Now I know that there hasn't been much action, but you know what? I'm okay with that. As a fan of RPGs, I know that a good chunk of the game play involves talking, and I myself am a person who likes his characters be not just words. My characters are people, and they are sometimes reflections of myself, and in rare cases, they are me with all my flaws.

Next chapter, yes, there will be plenty of bullets flying, and the space battle that everyone wants will soon follow. But for now, relax, enjoy what little I've got, send me PMs voicing any concerns, and have a great time!