Birthname: Slade Andreas Shepard
Father: Michael Allen Shepard
Mother: Anna (Hannah) Konstantinos
After losing both of his parents at age 10, Slade Shepard learned to fend for himself on the streets of Earth. Even at a young age, the fledgling Shepard showed combat potential. His lethal fighting skills and tactical ability were further honed on the hard anvil of experience. One such experience happened as a young boy when he was accosted in a back alley by two teens. One of them pulled a knife and demanded his coat. It was the middle of winter and Slade had no intention of giving his coat up. A fight ensued leaving one of the teen thugs beaten unconscious and the other suffering a broken arm.
Unbeknownst to Slade, the incident was being observed by a man named Colin Reilly. Colin, who was fifteen years older than Shepard, was a lieutenant and enforcer in the Tenth Street Reds (TSR), a gang known for its red sand smuggling and xenophobic beliefs. Impressed with the boy's skill, Colin took Slade under his wing and trained him. Slade showed a natural aptitude for weapons and hand to hand combat and Colin eventually allowed his young protégé to accompany him on several important assignments.
Shepard was eventually made a captain of his own crew and assigned to oversee various activites for the gang such as guarding red sand shipments through the Traverse. He was also a skilled assassin, pulling off hits with uncanny stealth and precision. These skills earned him the nickname 'The Terminator' among his fellow Reds. Unlike the Drell assassin, Thane Krios who was a household name in the underworld, and who would later join Shepard on his mission to defeat the Collectors, Shepard kept his wetwork covert and did not freelance his services. He worked solely to advance the interests of the Reds. This meant that most of his targets were other criminals or corrupt politicians who tried to blackmail the Reds.
Changing of the Guard
After five years in the gang, Slade’s life took a turn. A dangerous biotic named Gorbal Kazarin seized control of the TSR and executed the old guard including Shepard’s friend and mentor Colin. Gorbal filled the power vacuum with cronies who would help him further his ambitions. Additionally he held a deep hatred for aliens and believed that in order to compete with the Blue Suns and the Blood Pack the TSR would have to be equally ruthless. Gorbal's ultimate goal, however was to completely eliminate the alien gangs and put humans in control of the galaxy's criminal underworld. Whether or not he would have been successful, especially against ruthless and well connected leaders like Aria T'Loak, is open to speculation. Because of its xenophobic philosophy, the TSR was rumored to have had frequent dealings with Cerberus.
In addition to being deeply xenophobic, Gorbal was a demented, sadistic and violent man, especially during slaving raids. Before each raid, he would get his raiders dusted up on red sand to enhance their biotics and aggression. He and his men would choose an alien female, usually an Asari, to have some 'fun' with. During one raid he captured a Quarian female who was just starting her pilgrimage. He assaulted her by peeling off her environmental suit with a serrated blade then brutally raping her. She later died of air exposure.
Taking a Stand
Slade, who was already experiencing pangs of conscience about his involvement in criminal activity, was deeply disturbed by this turn of events. The TSR's new policies were in conflict with his own personal code which forbade him from killing or harming defenseless women or children. Additionally, in spite of the TSR's xenophobia, Slade held no hatred for aliens, but rather admired them and believed humanity could learn much from alien cultures. This inner conflict would lead Shepard to a confrontation that would set the course of his life. After the assassination of Colin and the other old guard leaders, Slade knew he was next on the hitlist; he was seen as a threat and had to be eliminated. Gorbal planned to take Shepard out during an upcoming raid on Elysium. What Shepard did not know, however, was that it would be at the hands of his own crew who had been bought off by Gorbal.
During the raid, many colonists were abducted. Slade watched, sickened, as Gorbal and his dusted up thugs murdered a young Asari mother by hanging her from a tree and biotically flaying her alive then attempting to rape her pureblood daughter. Enraged at Gorbal’s brutality and the murder of Colin, Shepard intervened by lashing out with a force throw that hurled the rabid Gorbal off of the screaming child. A bloody fight ensued between the two men, which ended with Slade biotically throwing Gorbal against a building, impaling him though the chest and killing him. Gorbal's thugs, angered at the death of their boss, turned on Shepard. Shepard, fueled and blinded with rage and tapping into his superior combat and biotic ability, was able to prevail against his attackers. When it was over, he was the only one left...injured but alive.
Shepard knew that his time in the TSR was over. He fled back to Earth and spent the next year in hiding, reflecting on his choices and the error of his ways. He decided to start over and undo the wrongs he had committed. He believed that by serving the greater good he could atone for his sins. He was approaching his eighteenth birthday and he had no family and no prospects. He joined the Alliance. Because of his strong combat ability and tactical mind he advanced rapidly and his unit commander recommended him for the Systems Alliance N7 Program.
Shortly after his graduation, he was given a week’s shore leave before deployment. He decided to return to Elysium to confront the ghosts of his past life. While on leave there, the colony was again attacked by slavers. Ironically, Elysium would again be the place Shepard's life would take a turn. This time, however, he would be the defender. Shepard was able to rally the colonists to make a stand against the invaders. The resistance unfortunately sustained large casualties, leaving Shepard the last man standing. Despite several injuries, including a broken arm, he was able to singlehandedly hold the enemy off until Alliance reinforcements arrived. His fame would eventually catch the eye of the Turian Spectre Nihlus and land him on board the SSV Normandy under Captain David Anderson who would go on to become a mentor and father figure to Shepard.
The death of Gorbal left another power vacuum in the TSR and the surviving underbosses fought for control which resulted in deaths on all sides. To replenish their dwindling armies, the underbosses needed soldiers, so they began hiring new recruits as fast as they could find them and neglected proper screening protocols. This left the organization vulnerable to subversion and infiltration.
The cause of the downfall of the TSR has been debated for some time and a couple of causal agents have been proposed by researchers:
The TSR's xenophobic philosophy attracted the attention of the pro-human organization Cerberus. This theory proposes that Gorbal was really a Cerberus agent who was sent to take control of the TSR and elevate it to a criminal power, further extending Cerberus’ reach, especially into the red sand market which would prove useful in Cerberus' biotics research arm. It is not likely that slaving and extortion were Cerberus’ original plan, as that would draw the attention of the Council and Alliance, risking exposure. Gorbal, however, went rogue and cut ties with Cerberus who then planned to eliminate him and his underbosses as a liability. After Gorbal's preemptive death on Elysium however, Cerberus seized on the internal chaos by absorbing parts of the weakened crime syndicate and eliminating others. Many of the augmented Cerberus soldiers Shepard would encounter in ME3 are believed to be former TSR thugs.
Aria had long planned to unite the Blood Pack, Eclipse and Blue Suns under her rulership. She sat on Omega’s throne for centuries and wasn’t about to relinquish it, especially not to a psychopath like Gorbal. Aria learned of Gorbal’s plan to move on the alien gangs and had him assassinated, although not in the traditional sense. One of her spies tipped Shepard off about Gorbal’s plans to have him killed on Elysium. Aria hoped that Shepard would kill Gorbal and cause a power struggle that would leave the TSR vulnerable. It was a gamble that paid off and Aria then took advantage of the chaos by sending many of her own human soldiers to pose as recruits, who would then further sabotage the organization from within.
Whatever the cause of its downfall, the TSR was a shell of its former self by the time Shepard encountered Finch at Chora’s Den on the Citadel. This is further supported by Finch's hollow threat to expose Shepard's past TSR affiliation and activities which were, by this time, public knowledge.
Trivia: Slade's original hair color is dark brown, however it began turning blond in ME2 then eventually grey by ME3. This change, in addition to enhanced strength and biotic ability, are believed to be side effects from the Lazarus Project.