|This article, Shinsu 'Refum, was voted as the Legendary Article of 2012 in the Fifth Annual Halo Fanon Wikia Awards.|
|This article, Shinsu 'Refum, written by Actene, was voted as the Best Covenant Character of 2012 in the Fifth Annual Halo Fanon Wikia Awards.|
|This article, Shinsu 'Refum, was written by Actene. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
Date of birth
9th Age of Reclamation (2537)
|Political and Military Information|
- "This galaxy will continue to rot unless it faces the fires of renewal. Just as I was born again through the fires of war, so too will this corrupt galaxy rise from the ashes of its own destruction and be reborn into something far greater than the cesspit of war and corruption that it has become."
- ―Shinsu 'Refum
Shinsu 'Refum, also known as the Black Knight of Sanghelios, was a Sangheili warrior and a son of Sesa 'Refumee, one of the first "heretics" to openly oppose the Great Journey. Unlike most Sangheili, he knew and had a caring relationship with his father when he was young, though Sesa would later distance himself from Shinsu due to the urging of his clan members and the responsibilities of his military career. Shinsu was learning the arts of swordsmanship in a blademaster's keep on Sanghelios when his father turned against the Covenant and was killed by the Arbiter Thel 'Vadamee. Facing persecution from the Covenant's religious authorities, Shinsu was saved through the intervention of the blademaster he was studying under, who hid him from his would-be killers. Almost the entirety of the Refum clan was wiped out during the and Shinsu emerged into the post-war universe believing himself to be the only survivor from his clan. Harboring a deep hatred for the Arbiter who had slain his father, Shinsu was eventually drawn into the Fallen separatist movement and was instrumental in forming and leading the Sons of the Preserving Blade militia during the ensuing civil war on Sanghelios. After heavy losses all but annihilated the Sons, Shinsu left Sanghelios and eventually became a trusted officer within the Fallen movement. However, he now had an agenda of his own and manipulated his position within the Fallen to gather followers and resources for his own purposes. His careful planning culminated with his betrayal of the Fallen and foundation of a new faction, the Cleansing Blade, with Shinsu at its head.
Shinsu 'Refum was born late in the 9th Age of Reclamation to Sesa 'Refumee and Senta 'Refum within the Refum clan's small keep on Sanghelios. Though relatively poorer and less prestigious than most other Sangheili noble families, the Refum clan lived comfortably enough and had been spared the loss of any clan members to the ongoing religious war against the human race. Most of the Refum clan worked within the Covenant's government, and only two members of the clan--Sesa and his brother Vonu--were active warriors within the Covenant military. Nevertheless, the Refums valued the careers of their two warriors over those of the rest of the clan, and when a series of promotions favored both Sesa and Vonu, the Refum keep was sold and the entire clan relocated to the Covenant's mobile capitol of High Charity to keep the warriors closer to their superiors.
Due to the disorder caused by the move, Shinsu was not raised by an uncle as dictated by conventional Sangheili customs. Instead, Sesa took it upon himself to raise and assist in his son's instruction as often as his military career would allow. As a child within the Refum clan's quarters on High Charity, Shinsu underwent conditioning to prepare him for the warrior training that was expected of all young Sangheili males. Even at his young age, Shinsu was fascinated by the lessons his father and uncle gave him regarding the history of the Sangheili and their role in the Covenant. He was particularly enamored with the warrior ideals that were central to Sangheili culture, and from then on devoted himself to living up to one of the greatest emblems of the millennia-old warrior tradition: the blademaster.
Although Shinsu was content to live on High Charity, Sesa observed his interest in the study of the blade and Sangheili warrior codes and deemed that these interests would be best suited if he took up his studies under an outside instructor back on Sanghelios. Using his connections within the Covenant military hierarchy, Sesa saw to it that Shinsu was admitted as a trainee within the keep of Shoma 'Yeshenee, a blademaster who was famed not only for his skills with a sword but also for his dedication to the Sangheili cultural ideals and practices. Although Shinsu was deeply saddened by the prospects of being separated from his family, he hid his true feelings and humbly accepted Sesa's decision, claiming that it was the best thing his father had ever done for him.
- Zura 'Kotar: "I can tell you're a determined one. Just like the sen-rats at my keep: once you latch on to something, you never let go."
- Shinsu 'Refum: "I suppose you're trying to give me a compliment..."
- ―Zura 'Kotar to Shinsu after their first training match against each other.
Upon arriving at the Yeshen keep and beginning his instruction along with several other young warriors-to-be, Shinsu buried his homesickness by committing himself fully to his studies. Although his work in most of the fields Shoma instructed on was merely on par with that of the other students, Shinsu showed an early talent for swordplay and attracted the attention of his instructors and fellow students alike through his dedication to practicing and honing his skills on a daily basis. Though he was externally confident and collected, Shinsu secretly feared that his longings for his home and family on High Charity would become a weakness that would bring dishonor on both himself and his entire clan. His efforts to suppress his desires for his family resulted in his being seen as aloof and withdrawn by the other students, and he made few friends amongst his fellow classmates. One of these few was Zura 'Kotar, a student from a wealthy keep who admired Shinsu's stoicism and talent. At Zura's insistence, a reluctant Shinsu entered into a friendly rivalry with his fellow student, with both competing to outdo the other on a daily basis.
- "He'll be strong, father. I can tell he'll make a fine warrior. If you raise him as well as you raised me, he may even surpass me."
- ―Shinsu to Sesa 'Refumee regarding his younger brother Tuka
Two years after his training began, Shinsu returned to High Charity to visit his family, who were celebrating the naming ceremony of his two-year old brother, Tuka. Upon seeing his younger brother for the first time, Shinsu predicted to Sesa that the newest member of their clan would become their strongest and most enduring member. A proud Sesa gave Shinsu a place of honor at Tuka's naming feast, and a day later Shinsu returned to Sanghelios. It was the last time he would ever see his mother and father.
The Death of Sesa 'Refumee
- "It was as if my whole life, everything I had dreamed and worked for, was laid out for me to observe. And without my father's light gone, it was all barren and meaningless."
- ―Shinsu recounting the impact of his father's heresy and death.
In the waning days of the 9th Age of Reclamation, Sesa 'Refumee shocked the Sangheili by leading the troops under his command in armed rebellion against the Covenant's religious authorities. The rebel faction distributed holographic footage of Sesa delivering fiery speeches denouncing the Prophets as liars and blaspheming against the Great Journey. The heretical propaganda sparked several other small uprisings within Covenant space and threw the Covenant's leadership into a panic. The High Prophet of Truth quickly dispatched an Arbiter, the recently disgraced Thel 'Vadamee, to wipe out Sesa's burgeoning faction. The new Arbiter did so with lethal precision, killing Sesa during the fighting.
Although Sesa was the only member of the Refum clan to participate in the uprising, his role as the faction's ringleader put the entire family under suspicion. After several Refum politicians were found murdered, Vonu 'Refum resigned his posting in the military and returned to High Charity, where he helped the remaining clan members into hiding aboard the massive city-ship.
On Sanghelios, Shinsu was shocked and deeply saddened by the news of his father's heresy and death. Ostracized by many of his fellow students, he ceased training and fled the Yeshen keep. He began fasting in a nearby forest, refusing to eat or even speak to anyone until he could come to terms with what had happened. While he maintained his self-imposed exile, Shoma 'Yeshenee lied to Sangheili religious warriors dispatched by Sanghelios's governing council to eliminate the heretic's oldest son, claiming that Shinsu had killed himself in shame upon hearing of Sesa's actions. The warriors reported Shinsu's "death" to their superiors, and official records declared that he had died an honorable death.
The Great Schism
News of the Prophets' betrayal of the Sangheili in favor of the Jiralhanae usurpers reached Sanghelios quickly in the weeks following Sesa's rebellion. As Sangheili worlds were attacked by the Jiralhanae and their allies, the homeworld was a focal point for the supplanted Sangheili's defenses. As more warriors arrived from the fighting around Delta Halo, they reported even more shocking news: the revered Halo installations were not in fact portals to godhood, invalidating the Great Journey and millennia of Covenant religious traditions. While the Sangheili people struggled to come to terms with how quickly their universe had been shattered, Zura 'Kotar brought news of the developments to Shinsu, who had remained in his self-imposed woodland exile.
The half-starved Shinsu had never been a firm believer in the Covenant religion, and the revelations that brought despair to so many of his people overjoyed him. Believing that his father's actions had been vindicated, Shinsu triumphantly returned to the Yeshen keep with his friend to prepare for the coming battles against the Covenant. Shinsu declared that he would do whatever it took to punish the Prophets and those who did their bidding, namely the Arbiter Thel 'Vadamee.
Although all of the Yeshen students were eager to join in the fighting, Shoma counseled them to remain in the keep to finish their training. The blademaster foresaw that the Sangheili would need a strong generation of younger warriors to build a future for their people and did not want the precious youths going off to die in the civil war that now raged throughout Covenant space. Even headstrong students like Zura and Shinsu respected his wishes and did not go to fight. However, Shinsu was determined to aid in Sanghelios's defense however he could. Breaking traditional Sangheili norms for nobility's interaction with commoners, he led Zura and several other students into the villages within the Yeshen keep's domain. Within those villages, they recruited commoners to form an irregular militia, which eventually grew to several hundred member's strong. Despite Sangheili traditions against arming commoners, Shinsu and his friends trained their militia in the use of all manner of weapons, including the sacred energy sword. Although the Jiralhanae invasion they were anticipating never came, the militias formed by the students would have a massive impact on Shinsu's future.
- "I, last of the Refum line, swear to restore my clan and bring justice upon the one who sent them to their doom. The Hierarchs' street killer, the Arbiter, will perish upon my blade!"
- ―Shinsu upon learning of his clan's destruction.
While Shinsu was busy organizing and training his militia recruits, Shinsu received word of two things that rocked him to his core. First, Shoma relayed a casualty report to him that chronicled the Sangheili civilians killed or missing during the fall of High Charity. According to the report, Shinsu's family had been caught up in the chaos of the schism and had not escaped the capitol as it was overrun by Jiralhanae warriors and Flood parasites. His unlce Vonu, mother Senta, brother Tuka, and the rest of his clan were all listed amongst the dead, leaving Shinsu as the last surviving member of the Refum line.
- "My father tried to save us all and they butchered him like a common criminal. That murderer betrayed us all, and they fall into line behind him like beasts to the slaughter. The universe truly has gone mad."
- ―Shinsu expressing his anger at Thel 'Vadam to Zura 'Kotar.
As Shinsu grieved and struggled to come to terms with the loss of everyone he'd held dear, word reached Sanghelios that the Arbiter Thel Vadamee had survived the Schism and emerged as a leading figure in the Sangheili's battles against the Covenant Loyalists. Shinsu was furious that "the Hierarchs' street killer" had not been punished for the murder of Sesa, whom he considered to be the true harbinger of Sangheili independence. As adult Sangheili warriors throughout the galaxy followed the Arbiter's lead by stripping the -ee suffix from their names in rejection of their Covenant past, Shinsu buried himself in his own training in a quiet rage. Zura, his closest confidant, was aware of his vengeful feelings and urged him to be content with reflecting on them until the war had ended.
Another development which troubled Shinsu, along with a large portion of the Sangheili populace, was Thel's mediation of an alliance between their people and what was left of humanity. Many Sangheili had lost kin to the humans during their service to the Covenant, and the use of a human superweapon to destroy the Sangheili colony of Joyous Exultation was still fresh in all Sangheili minds. Many protested that the humans were too weakened and primitive to offer any real help against the Loyalists, but the imminent threat of Jiralhanae attacks ruled out anything other than vocal dissent.
Though the alliance with the humans would prove instrumental in defeating the Loyalists and ending the Great Schism, many Sangheili, Shinsu included, continued to see humans as potential threats. These dissenters were be infuriated by the government's permanent alliance with humanity after the war. As protests and riots broke out on Sanghelios, a group of warriors formed a clandestine alliance aimed at fighting the union. These warriors would come to be known as the Fallen.
- "You're asking me to kill my own pupil? But I have no heir, and he is the one I plan to pass my bloodline on to when I die. You cannot ask me to do this!"
- ―Shoma 'Yeshen upon receiving government orders to kill Shinsu.
As the Sangheili's First Age of Amendment dawned, Shinsu officially completed his training under Shoma 'Yeshen. Though the blademaster acknowledged him as the best student he had ever taught, he also urged Shinsu to make peace with his turbulent past and forge a new life for himself in the rebuilt Sangheili society. Shinsu honored his master's wishes by remaining within the Yeshen keep, but in the end he could not abandon his dreams of revenge. Going out amidst the militia he'd helped train, Shinsu began delivering heated speeches against the government and its alliance with the humans. As his opinions were shared by many Sangheili, he became quite popular amongst the local villages, though none knew of his identify as the last Refum survivor.
- "Master... why?"
- ―Shinsu following Shoma 'Yeshen's attempt on his life.
- Main article: Shinsu 'Refum/Betrayal
Hoping to quell Shinsu's passion by giving him a new purpose, Shoma made plans to adopt him into the Yeshen clan. As he had no heir and the Yeshens were dwindling in number, Shoma also resolved to pass the role of kaidon on to Shinsu when he died. Meanwhile, Shinsu was approached by members of the growing Fallen movement who had been impressed by his stance against the government and asked him to join the underground movement. Though Shinsu strongly agreed with their position, he declined for fear of bringing government retribution down on the Yeshen keep. But the damage had already been done. Hoping to quietly do away with public naysayers, the Sangheili government contacted Shoma covertly and ordered him, as kaidon of the Yeshen keep, to kill his pupil. Though Shoma protested vehemently against the order, he was honor-bound and had no choice but to obey the government's wishes. Entering Shinsu's quarters as the young Sangheili slept, Shoma attempted to dispatch him by himself. But Shinsu was awakened by his master's approach and activated his energy sword in time to meet Shoma's attack. In a lighting-fast duel that lasted only three seconds, Shinsu bested and mortally wounded Shoma, who was acknowledged as being amongst the ten strongest blademasters amongst the Sangheili race. Shoma survived long enough to praise Shinsu's skill before turning his blade on himself and taking his own life.
- "The Jiralhanae threat is passed, and yet our people still accept that vermin as our leader. There is nothing left to stay my hand. I will kill Thel 'Vadam or perish in the attempt!"
- ―Shinsu upon entering Yermo
It did not take Shinsu long to realize that Shoma would only have tried to kill him on government orders. Quietly departing the Yeshen keep, he traveled to the Sangheili city of Yermo, the capitol of the Vadam state. Resolving to avenge both his father and master, Shinsu made plans to assassinate Thel 'Vadam when the Arbiter made his next public appearance in the city center. Shinsu made contact with several Fallen agents who were more than happy to aid him in the assassination attempt. Arming himself with a plasma rifle and his energy sword, Shinsu also prepared a suicide vest of plasma grenades that he intended to detonate should he prove unable to overcome Thel outright.
As Thel and his honor guard passed by throngs of supporters in Yermo, Shinsu burst out of the crowd and opened fire on the Arbiter and his surprised guards. Charging forwards while firing blindly, Shinsu cut down two of the honor guards before engaging Thel directly. Unfortunately for Shinsu, he had underestimated the fearsome Arbiter's own skill with a blade and was forced to fight him while his Fallen contacts emerged and attacked the remaining guards. In the swift duel that followed, Shinsu was able to hold his own against Thel but realized that he would slowly lose the fight if it carried on any longer. Resolving to take his hated enemy with him, Shinsu triggered his suicide vest only to have it fail to activate. The distraction allowed Thel to gain the upper hand and only by stripping the grenades off his failed vest and activating them manually was Shinsu able to blast the Arbiter back. The force of the detonation also threw Shinsu back into the panicking crowd, and he was overwhelmed and dragged away in the stampede. By the time Shinsu returned to the scene, all of the Fallen had been killed and Thel was long gone.
Although a failure, the attack marked the beginning of a slew of assassination attempts on the Arbiter that would continue for decades. Shinsu, however, fell into despondency and believed himself to be an utter disgrace for being forced to kill his master and failing to fulfill his vow to avenge himself on his father's killer. Abandoning everything he'd worked for, Shinsu began frequenting village taverns and abusing various recreational substances until he was little more than a drunken shell of his former self.
The Fallen Insurrection
- "I will fight under any banner, so long as I can help defeat the traitors in the government and make sure the Vadam keep burns for what its bastard Arbiter did to my father!"
- ―Shinsu 'Refum upon resuming his quest to avenge the Refum line
Although Shinsu's attempted assassination had failed, its effects were many and long reaching. Invigorated by the mysterious youth's assault on their greatest enemy, the Fallen began making plans to come further of the shadows to oppose the government through violent insurrection. By 2555 the Fallen had sown civil war across Sanghelios and the planet's states were divided between those who supported the Arbiter and his government and those who supported the Fallen's goals and ideals.
But as open war was waged between Sangheili, Shinsu had no part in any of it. Writing himself off as a disgrace his failure to kill Thel when he'd had the chance, Shinsu forsook his ambitious plans for revenge and found work as a day-laborer amongst serfs in a small state far from Yeshen or Vadam. When not toiling in the fields, Shinsu would squander his meager wages on recreational substances forbidden to warriors such as himself but widely used by the serfs he now worked alongside. By Second Age of Amendment, his once razor-sharp skills had been dulled by substance abuse and he was little more than a beggar, considered by the serfs to be mad.
- Zura 'Kotar: "Shinsu... what's happened to you?"
- Shinsu 'Refum: "There is nothing left of me... just leave me to my drinks..."
- ―Zura 'Kotar and Shinsu after Zura discovered Shinsu in a ditch.
But he had not been completely forgotten. Zura 'Kotar had been searching for his friend ever since Shinsu's attack on Thel and finally discovered him lying in a ditch surrounded by empty bottles of cheap substance. Horrified at what his ambitious friend had become, Zura took him back to his family's keep and helped nurse him back to health. Although Shinsu still considered himself disgraced, Zura begged him to rejoin their militia group, which had expanded since Shinsu had departed Yeshen. Now consisting of a mixed force of well-trained warriors and serfs, the group had taken on the name "Sons of the Preserving Blade" and vowed to aid the Fallen in fighting the government. Won over by Zura's promise of a chance to redeem himself by fighting Thel's government, Shinsu agreed to resume his leadership position within the militia.
- Cena 'Kotar: "You and my brother have important work to do, as do I. But promise me that once everything is over, we can be together."
- Shinsu 'Refum: "When peace returns to Sanghelios and my clan's souls are finally laid to rest, I swear that I will come back for you."
- ―Cena 'Kotar and Shinsu 'Refum following the latter's decision to join the Sons of the Preserving Blade
During his time in the Kotar keep, Shinsu also entered into a relationship with Zura's sister, Cena. Cena had participated in educating the serfs who now fought with the Sons and had known Shinsu before his assassination attempt. Though their feelings for each other were mutual, Shinsu knew that he could never settle down with Cena until the fighting was over and he had avenged himself on Thel and the Vadams. Nevertheless, he agreed to wed her once the civil war came to an end.
- "Let the Fallen worry about overwhelming our enemies through schemes and plots. We will simply kill as many of the traitors as we can until more rally to our cause and the very mention of our name strikes fear into the hearts of the enemy!"
- ―Shinsu, advocating a guerilla strategy for the Sons
Upon joining the Sons, Shinsu was immediately initiated into their leadership, a small group of skilled warriors known as the Preserving Blades. Aside from himself and Zura, Shinsu shared the title of Preserving Blade with Hij 'Saka, a stern warrior who had joined the militia after Shinsu's departure, and Gin 'Visan, a wild and unpredictable youth who was an expert Banshee pilot. Although Shinsu had little patience for Gin's antics, he got on well with Hij and joined his fellow Blades in preparing for battle. Donning a dark suit of armor, Shinsu advocated the use of small-unit tactics to launch ambushes on isolated government troops. Hij and Zura both preferred coordinating with the larger and better armed Fallen to wage war, but Shinsu was displeased with the Fallen's use of "human"-style warfare and their tendency to target civilian as well as military targets. At his urging, the Sons opted to remain mostly separate from the Fallen, fighting as an independent force against the government loyalists.
Upon launching their first attacks, the Sons set up a loose strategy that would serve them well throughout their campaign. By identifying multiple targets before splitting up into smaller raiding parties, the Sons could strike in several places at once before retreating and regrouping at an established rendezvous point. Such a strategy made it difficult for the loyalists to track their movements and kept them mobile even without access to large amounts of dropships and ground vehicles. Although the loyalist forces did not initially see the Sons as a threat when compared to the planet-wide Fallen movement, the militia's name and reputation began to spread as its attacks increased. Shinsu himself was easily identifiable my his dark armor and deadly skill with a blade, and stories began spreading about him among loyalist soldiers. As the Sons' attacks continued and they began recruiting and arming more serfs to bolster their numbers, they became wildly popular with Sangheili villages, particularly the poorer ones. Shinsu, whose true identity remained unknown to all but a few select Sons, was especially popular amongst the serfs and was eventually came to be known as the "Black Knight of Sanghelios" by friend and foe alike.
The Battle of Zandan
- "The Black Knight kills all who stand in his path."
- ―Saying amongst Sangheili serfs, popularized after the Battle of Zandan
Although the Sons had initially focused their operations around the Kotar state, Zura became worried about his keep's safety and urged the other Preserving Blades to migrate to the Zandan state, which was well-known as a bastion for Fallen warriors. Once there, the Sons resumed their ambushes, inflicting heavy casualties on local loyalists and incurring the ire of Ro'nin, a mercenary who had been hired by the local Fallen commander to direct combat operations in Zandan. Ro'nin, who was trying to coordinate an effective insurgency within Zandan, rightly worried that the Sons' presence would bring more loyalists into the region.
- Main article: Shinsu 'Refum/Retaliation
The Sons, like most Sangheili loyal to the Fallen cause, were appalled when the Sangheili government requested aid from the United Nations Space Command following the Fallen's large-scale abduction of Sangheili children, bringing human forces down to Sanghelios's surface. Among these reinforcements were the hated "Demon" Spartan supersoldiers leading to a large boost in Fallen popularity amongst the angry Sangheili populace. Enraged over the realization of his worst fears, Shinsu insisted that the Sons launch a series of ambushes to punish the loyalists for their betrayal. During these retaliatory attacks, the Sons killed over a thousand loyalist warriors and captured a large amount of weapons and vehicles. However, the victories came at a price. The Sons were losing plenty of their own warriors in their ambushes and the recruits brought in to replace the dead did not have the time to train enough before being sent into battle. Deciding that they needed time to regroup and recuperate, the Preserving Blades moved the Sons into several villages near the Zandan keep.
- "This is the moment we show all of Sanghelios our dedication, our resolve, our pride! Embrace this battle, for there will be many more like it on the road ahead. Prepare yourselves and remember: I will always be in front of you!"
- ―Shinsu, rallying the Sons of the Preserving Blade to face a large loyalist force in open battle.
But the loyalists had taken notice of the Sons' increased activity and dispatched a large force to the Zandan region to destroy the militia once and for all. As Ro'nin sent his Fallen warriors into hiding, Hij and Zura both made plans to do the same with the Sons. However, Shinsu and Gin believed they could face their enemies in an open battle and rallied the Sons to oppose the enemy force.
- Zura 'Kotar: "Well, Shinsu, it seems this is the end! At least we'll die beautifully, like heroes!"
- Shinsu 'Refum: "Zura, don't talk nonsense! You die all the beautiful deaths you want. I'm going to cut my way out of here!"
- ―Zura 'Kotar and Shinsu, cut off and surrounded during the Battle of Zandan
- Main article: Shinsu 'Refum/Surrounded
In the ensuing battle, the Sons used their new arsenal to match that of the loyalists. With Gin leading the Sons' Banshees and dropships from the air, Shinsu, Zura, and Hij led the Sons from the ground. Over the course of a three day battle, the Sons outmaneuvered the larger force, cutting it to pieces with precise striking maneuvers they had perfected during their many ambushes. Shinsu himself killed dozens of enemy warriors during the fighting, which served to solidify his position as "Black Knight" in popular Sangheili culture. At one point, he and Zura were completely cut off from the rest of the Sons and surrounded by loyalist warriors. The two friends held the enemy off for an entire morning before charging into their ranks and cutting their way back to their comrades.
Facing humiliation at the hands of a smaller, outgunned force, the Field Master in charge of the Zandan loyalists dispatched a special operations team to save his forces from defeat. After the special operations warriors had wiped out several Sons ambush parties, Shinsu faced the team alongside Zura, Hij, and several of their best warriors. In a pitched battle, the Sons force annihilated the special operations team and rallied their remaining warriors to press on. The Sons were unexpectedly bolstered by Fallen reinforcements dispatched by Ro'nin, who saw an opportunity to attack the weakened loyalist force. The loyalist force was completely routed with over half its warriors killed on the battlefield, leaving the victory to the Sons and Fallen.
The Battle of Zandan was the epitome of the Sons' success in their campaign against the loyalist government, and Shinsu saw it as proof that he and his comrades could resist and defeat their enemies wherever they chose to fight. Unfortunately, the Sons had lost over a quarter of their own force along with most of their vehicles and aircraft. Prevented from scavenging by the Fallen, who quickly took control of the battlefield, the Sons retreated to the Zandan villages to recuperate.
The Zandan Massacre
- "The humans brought down to this world by the Vadam and their followers have left only chaos and misery in their wake. This traitor government and its human allies will be stopped, and my hands will aid in every effort that is made to do so!"
- ―Shinsu following the Zandan Massacre
But the victorious Sons would have very little time to celebrate. Several days after the battle, a team of UNSC SPARTAN-III Headhunters infiltrated the Zandan Keep and abducted Cosu 'Zandan, kaidon of the Zandans and the Fallen's chief backer in the region. As the Fallen mobilized to retrieve their kidnapped leader, Shinsu and the other Sons were drawn into the pursuit as well and they eventually cornered the Spartans within a crowded village.
As the firefight raged, the Sangheili rebels suddenly found an unfortunate enemy in the UNSC's Office of Naval Intelligence. The team's coordinator, one Lieutenant Commander Yuri Rosch, had mobilized a large aerial strike force to extract the Spartans and their prize. The Fallen and Sons were quickly outgunned by over a dozen UNSC VTOLs, including three massive Vulture gunships. The civilians in the village, however, were sympathetic to the Fallen cause and formed a barrier between the human guns and the rebel warriors so that they could continue their attack on the Spartans.
- "No... NO!"
- ―Shinsu upon seeing human gunships open fire on Sangheili civilians.
But the Sangheili had underestimated Rosch, who valued human lives far more than the lives of aliens. After only a moment's hesitation, he ordered his gunships to fire indiscriminately into the village. As a horrified Shinsu looked on, hundreds of civilians were cut down along with dozens of Sons and Fallen. As the Spartans retreated to safety, Rosch's gunships continued to fire on the fleeing Sangheili even as they attempted to hide in the fields and forests around the village. Gin was killed trying to save a trapped child, and Shinsu found himself cut off from Zura and Hij as noxious fumes from the burning crops began to poison the air around them.
In less than a day, close to five hundred Sangheili laborers had been killed in what would come to be known as the "Zandan massacre". Shinsu, who survived the slaughter by diving into a nearby river, emerged to find only a handful of the Sons left. With no way of knowing what had happened to Zura, Hij, or any of the others, Shinsu led the crippled Sons away from the ruined village and into the mountains.
End of the Sons
- "You killed them. You killed them all. We're all dead..."
- ―Shinsu following the Sons' annihilation by loyalist forces.
- Main article: Halo: Valley of Death
Desperate to find a way to strike back at the loyalist "traitors" for summoning the humans who had committed such an atrocity, Shinsu led his remaining Sons into the snow-covered Nisa mountain range. As the only Preserving Blade left with only twenty-odd warriors at his back, Shinsu could only briefly contact Cena at the Kotar keep before realizing that they were being tracked by a loyalist special operations detachment. Retreating even deeper into the mountains, the remaining Sons evaded loyalist dropships and Banshees on a daily basis as they braved the frigid weather and did what they could to stay alive.
Two weeks after the massacre, the Sons set up camp in a small valley and Shinsu left for higher ground to contact Cena in the hopes of finding out what had happened to Zura. Midway through the transmission, he glimpsed several Phantoms zeroing in on their camp's position. Racing back down to the valley, Shinsu rejoined his warriors just as thirty special operations warriors, led by a Field Master, deployed from the Phantoms to surround the camp.
- Field Master Vinur 'Rolam: "Sons of the Preserving Blade, you stand accused of high treason. Surrender now and we will ensure you are treated fairly, but fight us and you will pay in blood for your crimes!"
- Shinsu 'Refum: "Blades, open fire! Shoot the loudmouth first!"
- ―General Vinur 'Rolam and Shinsu 'Refum at the start of the Battle of Nisa.
Given the chance to surrender, the Sons instead opened fire on the loyalists and the standoff devolved into a bloody firefight. After several on both sides were killed in a withering exchange of fire, the special operations warriors closed in to fight the Sons sword-to-sword. Shinsu more than lived up to his title of Black Knight, personally killing ten enemy warriors as his friends and comrades were cut down around him. Disarmed by a grenade explosion, Shinsu watched in horror as the rest of the Sons were slaughtered on all sides.
- Sangheili minor: "How? How did one rebel slay so many elite warriors?"
- Fira 'Demal: "With his bare hands..."
- ―Fira 'Demal relating the Battle of Nisa to a younger warrior.
Enraged, Shinsu leapt back up and continued fighting unarmed. After strangling one warrior, he seized up a nearby rock and crushed another's skull with it before breaking a third warrior's neck with a kick to the head. Facing down two more special operations warriors, Shinsu disarmed one and killed him with his own energy sword, then dispatched the second with a well-thrown plasma grenade. As the smoke settled, Shinsu found himself alone facing the loyalist commander, Field Master Vinur 'Rolam. The rest of his comrades were strewn about them, their blood staining the snow dark purple.
- "Alright. Let's go."
- ―Shinsu 'Refum to Field Master Vinur 'Rolam.
Exhausted and overwhelmed by all the fighting and losses, Shinsu nevertheless challenged the seasoned commander, who opted to take the legendary Black Knight on in single combat. After only a brief but furious flurry of blades, Shinsu cut down the Field Master. With the evidence of his latest crippling loss all around him, Shinsu simply collapsed into the snow as the surviving loyalists (over half the strike force had been killed) moved in to capture him. Amongst the survivors were the warriors Fira 'Demal and Autel 'Vadam (ironically known as the White Knight due to his unusually pigmented skin). A Vadam had once again borne witness to Shinsu's suffering.
- "Do you know how many of my warriors you've killed, traitor? Do you know how many we've had to bury because of you?"
- ―Sangheili interrogator to Shinsu 'Refum.
Taken captive in the wake of the Sons' destruction, Shinsu was spared immediate execution only because of the government's desperation for information regarding the Fallen movement and their allies. Believing that one as renowned as the "Black Knight" should be able to implicate more than a few enemy commanders, his captors handed him over to Sangheili intelligence agents. The agents interrogated Shinsu extensively, and when threats and promises of clemency failed to make the broken warrior cave in, they resorted to torture in a last-ditch effort to extract the information they were looking for.
Shinsu, driven to the brink of complete despair by the loss of the comrades he had fought so long and hard to lead, stoically refused to give in to his tormentors. It was only after the scars from the brutal torture criss-crossed his body that hate for his interrogators overwhelmed his misery. Seizing an unguarded moment, he killed his guards with his bare hands and broke out of the interrogation room. Blindly fighting his way through the prison facility, he encountered another prisoner, Ro'nin--the mercenary he had butted heads with while fighting with the Preserving Blades. Together, the two escapees blasted their way out of the facility and fled into the surrounding countryside.
Flight From Sanghelios
A Second Betrayal
- Main article: Shinsu 'Refum/Obliteration
- "Forgive me... Shinsu... my... light..."
- ―Last words of Cena 'Zandan
Shinsu parted ways with Ro'nin immediately after leaving the prison and spent the next few weeks desperately evading the army search teams sent after him. Unable to properly treat his injuries, he became a weakened shadow of his former self and was forced to steal from local farms in order to survive. Nevertheless on the few occasions that he did encounter government forces he managed to fight his way through them and back into the wilderness. Finally, starving and on the verge of death, Shinsu made his way into the state of Zandan, where warriors from his friend's keep encountered him and immediately brought him to the Zandan keep.
Shinsu was brought before Cena, who had now fully taken over her duties as mistress of her family's keep. Upon meeting his lover for the first time in over a year, Shinsu realized that the suffering he had experienced had stripped away his love for her. He was quickly confronted with the awful truth that Zura had been captured by the government and that Cena, in the hopes of preserving her keep and bloodline, had betrayed the Sons of the Preserving Blade and helped the government hunt them down. She then attempted to kill Shinsu, but even in his weakened state he easily overpowered her and cut her down. Upon Cena's death, Shinsu realized that his desire to destroy the government and the Vadams had been rekindled and that there was nothing left for him on Sanghelios. Feeling little more than regret over Cena's death, Shinsu treated his most serious injuries and fled the keep he had once called home.
- "There is only one path in front of me now, and it is one that I must walk alone. I don't care how many Gins or Hijs or Zuras or Cenas fall along the way; I will continue to walk this path."
- ―Shinsu upon the death of Cena.
Rejuvenated by the abandonment of his past, Shinsu scavenged armor from battlefields left by the Fallen and government troops and began seeking away to leave Sanghelios. By now he had realized that if he were to ever truly hope to bring down the government, he would need to look to the stars and seek help from the aliens he had once despised. With his old contact system from the Preserving Blade dismantled, he had no way of coordinating with other rebels and thus wandered aimlessly, living up to his reputation as the Black Knight by killing any government warriors he came across.
As he passed through the ruins of a village torn apart by incessant firefights between government and Fallen forces, he encountered a pair of government warriors debating whether or not to kill an orphaned child sitting beside the corpses of her parents. Shinsu promptly killed both warriors before finding himself facing the same dilemma: should he kill the girl or leave her on her own to starve to death? To his surprise, the girl was unafraid of the bloodstained warrior in front of her. In her eyes, Shinsu saw the same hunger and ambition that burned in him. Acting on impulse, he told the girl to get up and follow him and, to his surprise, she did.
Now accompanied by his new companion, Shinsu named the peasant girl "Pula" after a warrior female from the Refum clan's family saga. He put the skills he had developed while organizing the Sons to good use, teaching her how to accurately handle a plasma pistol and introducing her to basic sword drills as they continued to wander through Sanghelios's war zones. Pula impressed Shinsu when she ambushed and killed a stranded government warrior a mere month after joining him. Days after this, Shinsu encountered a group of Fallen warriors who had abandoned their crusade and become wandering bandits. Disgusted by their lack of drive, Shinsu rallied the outcast warriors and earned their loyalty by leading them in a series of successful ambushes against government forces. Possessing followers of his own once again, Shinsu knew that a return to the old tactics of the Preserving Blade would be useless. Instead, he plotted to flee Sanghelios and advance his agenda on the galactic stage away from the homeworld.
- "Today, we embrace a new chapter in our struggle for our people's future! By departing the world we have sacrificed so much for, we accept the fate of exile over glorious death on the battlefield. But we shall return, and when we do we will bring with us a force powerful enough to change the fate of the Sangheili!"
- ―Shinsu addressing his followers just prior to the assault on the Vigilant Acolyte
Aided by a handful of ex-naval officers, Shinsu and his small band of followers infiltrated an SDV-class heavy corvette, the Vigilant Acolyte, as it resupplied within Sanghelios's atmosphere. Once onboard, Shinsu's warriors seized the ship's bridge and key operations centers and slaughtered its entire crew. Now in possession of a fully operational corvette, Shinsu had the Acolyte engage and destroy two other corvettes as it fled into orbit. Just prior to jumping into Slipspace, the Acolyte was attacked by a government destroyer. In what would be the first of many close shaves, Shinsu's naval defectors skillfully closed on the destroyer and cut it in half with a sustained barrage from the Acolyte's weapon systems. Heavily damaged by the engagement, the Acolyte then limped into Slipspace and fled the Sangheili homeworld.
Forging the Cleansing Blade
With Sanghelios far behind him, Shinsu set about reorganizing his plans for revenge, which now stretched far beyond merely killing Thel 'Vadam. He now bore the weight of his fallen comrades from the Preserving Blade as well as the deaths of Cena and Master Yeshen; their blood, he felt, rested on the head of a government that had put so much stake in maintaining its alliances with aliens that it had bloodied its one people and forced the Sangheili down the path of ruinous civil war. On a more personal level, Shinsu blamed the entire Vadam bloodline for the suffering he and his clan had endured and swore to destroy it along with the government it had been so instrumental in supporting. The death of the Vadams would be a victory for both his personal vendetta and a signal to the Sangheili people that the cause they had championed had fatal consequences.
As the Vigilant Acolyte sought repairs from a Fallen raiding fleet, Shinsu solidified his plans to create a new movement with radically different goals than either the Fallen or the government. He had seen the effectiveness of progressive tactics such as guerilla warfare and the arming of peasants and females for combat, proof to him that a return to old-style Sangheili traditions was no longer possible. The months following the retreat from Sanghelios would prove to be a period of great mental turmoil for Shinsu as he grappled with the loss of his old beliefs as well as his continued desire for revenge. He buried himself in his work, privately drilling Pula to be ever deadlier with her blade while organizing his followers into a new force, which he dubbed the Cleansing Blade.
With the Fallen revolt still in full swing in Sangheili space, the government was distracted, allowing Shinsu and his followers to move about as they pleased. Realizing now that he needed influential allies as well as warriors, Shinsu slipped in and out of Sangheili colony worlds. Discreetly attending social events and political rallies, he impressed many rising stars in the colonial governments who shared his dissatisfaction with where the Sanghelios government was leading them. His natural charisma and passion for his cause attracted enough civilian politicians that he was able to establish a non-combat network of operatives working within the government. Seeing how effective a tactic this was for manipulating the government he hated, Shinsu settled on a working mission for the Cleansing Blade: to influence the Sangheili both subtly and militarily into choices that would maintain their species's superiority on the galactic stage.
Maintaining his small cadre on the Vigilant Acolyte--which he promptly renamed Cleansing Fire--Shinsu focused on forging his followers into an elite fighting force on par with the government's special operations warriors. But even as he and his handful of officers built up their combat and intelligence networks, Shinsu knew that in order to achieve the influence he was seeking he would need to re assimilate himself into the Fallen's extensive power structure.
Hiding their contempt for the Fallen's inability to effectively pursue its objectives, Shinsu and his followers presented themselves and their captured ship as new recruits for the insurgent cause. With his reputation as the Black Knight preceding him, Shinsu was given a warm reception by Urei 'Cazal, the organization's leader. Immediately granted the rank of Shipmaster, Shinsu retained command of the Cleansing Fire while receiving access to all the resources the Fallen had to offer. However, he was keenly aware that the Fallen leadership saw him as little more than a useful figurehead rather than a worthy peer. Rather than send him into combat, 'Cazal appointed Shinsu to the position of "Ambassador" and used the Black Knight's charisma to quell rebellious factions and secure deals with underworld pirates and criminal groups.
Although his work for the Fallen solidified his contempt for the organization, Shinsu used the opportunity to continue developing the Cleansing Blade. As he discreetly recruited like-minded followers from within the ranks of the Fallen, he made a fortuitous ally in the ambitious Umbra 'Vesic. The ex-special operations warrior had grown disgusted with the Fallen's stagnancy and saw Shinsu's ideology as the path towards reforming the Sangheili people. Umbra would prove to be one of Shinsu's greatest discoveries, as he used his years of experience within the Fallen to direct Shinsu towards elements that would be open to him and his message. Shinsu swiftly made the cunning officer his second-in-command, the first in a growing inner circle of the Cleansing Blade that shared in Shinsu's long-term plans that remained hidden from the rest of the organization.
The Famul Coup
- Shinsu 'Refum: "What you fail to understand, Umbra, is that our war is no longer about the Fallen or their ideals. It is places like this that will provide us with those things you speak of. This wretched underworld that the galaxy has cultivated will suit our purposes quite nicely."
- Umbra 'Vesic: "You can't mean that."
- Shinsu 'Refum: "I mean every word. I thought I'd made this plain to you before, but allow me to repeat myself: the Sanghelios we once thought we knew is dead. Perhaps it never even existed. We cannot save our people, nor the galaxy, without a reformation that is embraced by all. That is what this operation is about. We will conquer this underworld and in doing so we will gain the means to topple every government and organization that has corrupted the universe. The Fallen no longer matter. The Sangheili must be reborn. If you still fail to grasp this, then it will be best for you to leave my company immediately."
- — Shinsu 'Refum and Umbra 'Vesic discussing plans for the takeover of Famul.
- Main article: Halo: Avenger's Quest
In 2568, Urei 'Cazal tasked Shinsu with negotiating a treaty with Mallunus, a powerful Jiralhanae pirate who had made the planet Famul his personal kingdom. With its orbital stations, shipyards, and planet-side commercial centers Famul was the most prosperous colony outside of Interspecies Union space and as such made a tempting target for the Fallen. The plan was to lure Mallunus into giving them safe harbor in the Famul system before turning on him and seizing control of the entire planet.
Unfortunately for Urei, Shinsu had plans of his own. The Cleansing Blade had grown within the shadow of the Fallen and his network of contacts and allies now stretched far beyond the scope of the separatist movement. Seeing that the Fallen's defeat was drawing near, Shinsu prepared to break himself and his followers away from the movement as quickly as possible. Before he and his crew aboard the Cleansing Fire had even entered the system, Shinsu contacted several of Mallunus's subordinate chieftains. Playing off of their resentments for their over mighty leader, he planted the seeds of a planet-wide revolt that would remove Mallunus and give them control of Famul.
Arriving at Famul, Shinsu delivered Urei's offers of alliance to Mallunus. Even as the negotiations were beginning, he dispatched Pula to Famul's surface to continue rallying the local chieftains against the pirate king. He also hired the human rebel Redmond Venter to launch a series of guerilla attacks against Famul's asteroid mining operation, a play that succeeded in making Mallunus look weak in front of his subordinates. Finally, Shinsu struck a deal with the Syndicate to give the criminal empire full trading rights on Famul in exchange for their support. Within an hour of his bargain with Helen Powell, Syndicate agents were rallying dissent against Mallunus across the planet.
- "This is the end of your fight, warriors. The Cleansing Flame no longer sails at the Fallen's command. You may either stand with me and escape the lie you have been wasting your lives on, or you can die here for your decadent masters. The choice is yours."
- ―Shinsu 'Refum to the crew of the Cleansing Flame still loyal to the Fallen
As the cogs of his plan sprang into motion, Shinsu finally cast aside his guise of aiding the Fallen and took on the singular role of leading the Cleansing Blade. After readying those already loyal to him aboard the Flame he assembled the few crew members who knew nothing of his treachery and offered them a chance to join him in his new cause. When they angrily refused, the newly-revealed Cleansing Blade commandos slaughtered them to a warrior. Knowing that word of his betrayal would soon reach Urei 'Cazal's ears, Shinsu sent secret messages to the rest of his followers within the Fallen movement and enacted a long-standing plan to abandon their posts and withdraw beyond their former allies' reach. As he did so, he also signaled the Jiralhanae rebels on Famul and throughout Mallunus's fleet to launch their uprising while he and a contingent of warriors personally boarded the chieftain's flagship.
With all the chaos stemming from the uprising throughout the Famul system, Shinsu and his cadre easily fought their way through the flagship to the bridge. The plan was to kill Mallunus quickly, but before they could arrive they were rejoined by Pula. The young agent informed Shinsu that she had encountered another Sagnheili who claimed to be of the Refum bloodline. When they reached the bridge, they encountered this same youth fighting a desperate battle against Mallunus's crew. Shinsu quickly realized that he was seeing Tuka 'Refum, the brother he had long thought dead, and when Tuka revealed that Mallunus was responsible for butchering their clan on High Charity Shinsu had his warriors stand aside while Tuka fought the imposing chieftain. After a short but vicious duel, Tuka proved his natural talent with a blade and killed Mallunus.
With Mallunus dead, Shinsu confronted Tuka with their identity as brothers. Although the younger Sangheili was stunned by their relationship he refused Shinsu's offer to join him in his quest to destroy the Vadams and their government. Though their reunion was cut short by the arrival of Tuka's ally and mentor Fira 'Demal, Shinsu witnessed Tuka lapse into a trance in which he uttered a cryptic prediction of future conflict. Recognizing that his brother had inherited the Refum bloodline's fabled gift of prophecy, Shinsu took a sample of Tuka's blood for further study. Though he revealed his identify and intentions to Fira, Shinsu refrained from killing him at Tuka's request and instead allowed them to flee the ship as the uprising came to its swift conclusion.
With Mallunus and his few loyal followers dead, control of Famul ostensibly passed to the alliance of chieftains that had revolted against him. But with the influence Shinsu held over them the alliance was little more than a puppet government that masked the Cleansing Blade's true hold of the planet. He used his new alliance with the Syndicate to expand his influence and intelligence network even further while Famul became an even more prosperous center for underworld dealings. Although troubled by his brother's reappearance and rejection of his ideals, Shinsu redoubled his efforts to strengthen the Cleansing Blade for its eventual confrontation with the Vadam government.
Following the Famul coup, Shinsu vanished from the galactic stage. The Fallen were destroyed by the UNSC shortly after his defection and he used the ensuing peace to expand the Cleansing Blade and solidify his ties with the criminal underworld. Building upon his extensive intelligence network, Shinsu began preparations for his assault on the Sanghelios government. But the Cleansing Blade lacked the conventional strength necessary to confront the Vadams and their allies alone. In order to set the stage for his triumph, Shinsu set a plan in motion to plunge the Interspecies Union back into war.
Beta-14 and the Path Walkers
- Main article: Descent
The emergence of a powerful faction of Sangheili still devoted to the Great Journey proved to be the key to Shinsu's scheme. Learning that this group, the Path Walkers, was headed by his old commander Urei 'Cazal, Shinsu deduced that 'Cazal was simply using the religious fanatics to pave the way for the Fallen's return. Shinsu saw Urei as both an ally and a dangerous rival and plotted to prevent the Path Walkers from growing more powerful under the guise of peaceful coexistence with the IU.
Working through third-party allies, Shinsu hired the legendary mercenary David Kahn to disrupt the IU's negotiations with the Path Walkers on their base world Beta-14. Shinsu's intermediaries tasked Kahn with kidnapping Moru 'Ostal, a Path Walker and the son of an immensely wealthy shipping tycoon named Idat 'Ostal. Shinsu hoped to not only egg the unruly Path Walkers into war but also to gain access to Idat's wealth through a data disk Moru had on his person. The first part of the plan went perfectly: Kahn's interference triggered a cataclysmic battle that plunged the IU back into war with the new Path Walker threat. But the data disk wound up in the hands of Kahn's accomplice and fellow mercenary Stray. Better known as the rogue Spartan Simon-G294, Stray found himself hunted by the Path Walkers and Interspecies Union alike.
- Main article: Halo: Indelible Past
With the Path Walkers and Interspecies Union locked in their sudden war, Shinsu was free to continue gathering power from the sidelines. Operating from Famul, he forged alliances with key pirate and rebel groups while maintaining the Syndicate's trust and favor. In preparation for the assault to come, he hired the post-rebel Humanity Liberation Front to strike military targets on Sanghelios and cripple the people's faith in the Vadam government. This plan went awry, however, when the humans instead launched a terror campaign that indiscriminately slaughtered millions of civilians. Furious at his own lack of foresight, Shinsu turned again to David Kahn to ensure that the HLF's leader, Redmond Venter, was made to answer for his crimes.
Upon learning that Mordred had also been sighted on Sanghelios, Shinsu took the Cleansing Fire back to his home system for the first time since his exile almost ten years prior. There he arranged a meeting with Urei 'Cazal, who had no knowledge of Shinsu's complicity in the current conflict. Although Urei was initially mistrustful of the warrior who had betrayed him on Famul, Shinsu successfully convinced the Path Walker leader of his sincerity in helping to bring about the Fallen's goals. Outlining his plan to attack Sanghelios with the help of his pirate allies, Shinsu offered Urei a quick route to power in exchange for the Path Walker's support. With a new alliance between the Cleansing Blade and Path Walkers established, Shinsu and Urei traveled to Sanghelios to retrieve the data disk with the understanding that they would divide its funds evenly between each other.
By the time the Cleansing Blade and Path Walkers closed on Sanghelios, the human rebels had been destroyed and Mordred himself had been taken into Sangheili custody. Shinsu led a joint attack on the cruiser Incumbent Wrath in which the uneasy alliance proved its lethal potential. Path Walker and Cleansing Blade warriors annihilated the Wrath's security detail and Shinsu himself briefly faced the retreating Autel 'Vadam and his own brother Tuka as they fled the ship. Ironically, it was a weakened David Kahn who allowed for their escape; a prisoner of the UNSC forces who had participated in the rebels' defeat, the battered mercenary took on Shinsu while handcuffed and armed only with a pistol. After a brief fight, Shinsu impaled Kahn, apparently ending the assassin's legendary career for good.
- "I held my blade to your throat and threatened to cut it if she didn't do what I asked."
- ―Shinsu explaining Diana's cooperation to Mordred
In the meantime, Pula rescued a critically wounded Mordred as retreating Cleansing Blade and Path Walker warriors detonated charges throughout the Incumbent Wrath. Shinsu blackmailed the mercenary's AI partner into surrendering the access keys to Idat 'Ostal's immense fortune. When Mordred awakened, Shinsu found himself inexplicably intrigued by the traitor Spartan's trials and tribulations. Revealing that the UNSC and Sangheili both believed him dead, Shinsu chose to spare Mordred and agreed to escort him to the Visag keep, where both the human outcast and Tuka had been trained by its kaidon, Roni 'Visag.
Though he and his brother were now enemies, Shinsu felt indebted to the venerable blademaster for protecting and raising Tuka. He traveled with Mordred to the keep, intent on thanking Roni personally. But the scene that awaited them at the keep was one of carnage: government warriors had apparently attacked the keep and slaughtered every last inhabitant. As Mordred and the Cleansing Blade warriors absorbed the massacre in shock, Shinsu quickly deduced that such a senseless attack could only have been arranged through his own undercover contacts within the government. He furiously confronted the only person besides himself with access to those contacts: his lieutenant, Umbra 'Vesic.
- "Very well. I will shoulder the burden of your grand lie. Everything that transpired here rests upon my soul. But you will burn for this, Umbra. Very soon, you will burn."
- ―Shinsu to Umbra 'Vesic
Umbra admitted to arranging both the attack and the rebels' terror campaign, claiming that both atrocities would turn the Sangheili public against the Vadam government. Although he taunted Shinsu for cowardice and hypocrisy, a conflicted Shinsu let Umbra live, though he amputated his lieutenant's arm as punishment and made plans to arrange for Umbra's death in the near future. A stricken Mordred threw his lot in with the Cleansing Blade, promising to help destroy the Vadams. Having agreed to shoulder the burden of Umbra's "grand lie", Shinsu and his forces departed Sanghelios to prepare for their coming assault.
Personality and Traits
- "Swords are for killing. Warriors are for fighting. And avengers like me, well how should I put it? Anyway you say it, there are things that exist for one purpose; those like me are like that. After all, now there is only one path I can take. And to be honest, I don't care how many comrades or anyone else fall along the way."
- ―Shinsu 'Refum
- "Our pain has festered untended for too long. In order to survive with it, we learned to live through it and in doing so, we made it a shield to protect us from the reality of our suffering. Our pain is always protecting us."
- ―Shinsu to Simon-G294
From a very young age, Shinsu was a highly driven individual who believed he could accomplish anything with the right amount of willpower. This trait, coupled with his desire to emulate heroic warriors like his father, caused him to be proud and headstrong, often to the point of rashness. Following the Sons' utter destruction and his capture and torture at the hands of Sangheili loyalists, Shinsu was humbled and became far less reckless as he abandoned many of the old emotions that had driven him before. The Shinsu who fled Sanghelios to build his own insurgent group was calculating and strategy-minded, knowing that he would need to become just as cunning and manipulative as the humans and Fallen he had once despised if he hoped to bring down the loyalist government. Shinsu was fully aware of the immorality of many of his actions and was resolved to be punished for them in full once he had achieved his goals. To Shinsu, his honor, life, and very soul were acceptable sacrifices if they allowed him to fulfill his vision of the Sangheili's future.
As the leader of the Cleansing Blade, Shinsu maintained an aloof, casual demeanor around enemies and allies alike. This behavior often threw those unfamiliar with him off guard, a trait he used to his advantage when he needed to lie to or manipulate others. Extremely slow to anger, he was not above carrying out punishments and even executions within his organization when he deemed them necessary and commanded both devotion and respect from the warriors under his command.
Though trained to be competent with all manner of firearms within the Covenant, Shinsu's true strength lay in his artful mastery of the traditional Sangheili energy sword. While training under Shoma 'Yeshen, Shinsu was recognized as the blademaster's finest student, surpassing his fellow trainees in all manner of drills and exercises. His participation in the Fallen insurrection and his leadership role within the Sons of the Preserving Blade gave him the chance to hone his skills in actual combat, and his ferocity at close quarters lent him a fearsome reputation as the "Black Knight of Sanghelios." During the entirety of the conflict, Shinsu never interrupted his study of the blade and by the time of his split with the Fallen and takeover of Famul, he was arguably one of the deadliest blademasters within the Sangheili race.
- "Too slow. You divide your attention between your opponent's movements and your own, making it all too easy to manipulate your attacks. What's more, your strikes lack force and power. If you attack without the resolve to kill, you will be utterly defeated by those who do, just as you have been now."
- ―Shinsu to his brother, Tuka 'Refum
Shinsu followed the style of swordsmanship taught to him by Shoma 'Yeshen, which eschewed direct contact with an opponent's blade in favor of agile dodges and countersteps that allowed a duelist to find an opening in an opponent's defense rather than overwhelming them with direct assaults. The Yeshen style favored swift, cutting attacks that aimed to kill enemies quickly by targeting vital organs in the chest and torso. This style was effective against both groups, as the quick, disabling attacks allowed the fighter to swiftly dispatch one enemy before moving on to the next, and individuals, as the fighter avoided the opponent's blade through lightning-fast movements while striking past his defenses with equally blinding speed.
- Third Preserving Blade (Sons of the Preserving Blade)
- Ship Master (Fallen)
- Commander (Cleansing Blade)