Unknown Date, Pre- E-Day
Years before the Locust ever revealed themselves to the surface world of Sera, there was still war. Still blood, still battles, still men clutching rifles and their thoughts not of death but of the life they might never have. For one man, those thoughts had already become reality.
Lieutenant Wayne Ogle had just placed a Coalition flag over the mound of earth that buried their comrade. It was a meager burial, but far more than what the hundreds of dead UIR troops would receive, their forces falling back from the beating they’d received. Win for his side or not, it hadn’t helped the new officer from losing one of his men.
He looked to his sides at the seven or so men standing in AP armor, a design which wouldn’t change in the years ahead, even as the enemy and the battlefield changed radically. The eyes of most were masked by softly glowing eyepieces, the blue light proclaiming their faction. Only one, an enlistee private named Minh Young Kim, had lost his in battle.
He stared at the ground where one of the men he’d only just met days ago lay dead. His brown eyes have remained wide ever since seeing the bullets puncture steel, ever since he first saw death up close. The only other with face exposed, Wayne met his eyes and tried his best to reassure him somehow. Kim still didn’t look like he understood what had happened.
“Does anyone have any words to say?” Wayne asked the squad. He was greeted by the awkward silence he’d expected.
The asking of final words had become a formality among Gears. What they experienced daily told them there was either no higher power, or that he had died, or that he was to be feared and hated for creating war. Or perhaps it was men who created war? In any case, the dead man’s comrades’ reverent silence was worth far more than any soliloquy they could have given.
The Lancer rifle at his side, its sickly curved bayonet a testament to what the human had reduced itself to, was lifted into both hands. On his signal, the squad fired a single round apiece; they had no more to spare. The Lieutenant then pulled the flag from the mound, folded it and handed it to Kim, who would put it in his pack for safekeeping . . . perhaps until the next one of them died.
From there, they had only the order to go on: to the next hill, to the next battleground, to the next war.
Needle in a HaystackEdit
A Few Days Before Gears of War 2
As he was walking across the motor pool in the mid-morning sun, William felt tired and as irritated by his problems as ever.
He’d fallen off of his bunk when Lieutenant Stroud radioed his earpiece, which he’d forgotten to take out of his ear before collapsing in his sheets after a long and late patrol. Not only was it the worst shift, but because of a convoy stuck in the road, it had taken hours longer than it should have. In return he was supposed to get extra hours of sleep equivalent to what he’d missed, but a situation had come up.
Then again, he might have considered himself lucky. It wasn’t combat, or recon, and didn’t even leave the base’s premises, hardly important. It could have waited till later, but what chain of command wants, it gets.
The only reason he was even considered was that it was a member of his squad, Private James Reid, was involved. With the plan for a second offensive against the Locust forming, old mining rigs were being refitted to carry troops and some very expensive and complicated equipment. One was almost ready to go, and had only needed the computer data to be cleared. Stroud had put the data on a disk drive, and had Reid deliver it to the technician assigned to that rig. But somehow, there’d been a screw up.
Apparently, when Reid had been handing it off to the technician, the drive had slipped from between them and into a grate on the rig’s deck, into the labyrinth of pipes, circuits, and hydraulics beneath. And you might have guessed, getting into it required major dismantling of the just-built rig.
So now because he was responsible for the kid, he was one of the unlucky saps who had to help with that. When he’d heard the report from the LT, he had planted his face squarely in the pillow. The stars were not aligned in his favor.
Up ahead of him, a crowd of people had slowly formed to watch the comical display. Armored bodies had taken up seats on and around other vehicles, making useless suggestions to those working, commenting on the situation amongst themselves, and one Gear had taken the opportunity of the crowd to see if he could trade for an extra pair of socks.
William pushed his way through, raising the volume of his mumbling to the point people took notice and moved. Then he passed the other Squad Sergeant overseeing the Grindlift Project with him, Fenix. A Corporal Santiago next to him said, “At least it happened to someone who deserved it, man.”
“Yeah, at least.” Fenix grumbled. His voice always sounded to Will like a hibernating bear getting up. He noticed Will’s approach. “Hey, Kulm, heard from Anya you get to help here.”
Will didn’t stop to trade words, he wasn’t in the mood. “Yeah, that would be her bed talk to you.” It was common knowledge that the angelic radio operator and Delta Squad Sergeant had something between them, but Will hoped that didn’t reduce its effectiveness.
“At least I’m getting something more than the inside of a truck." Touché, a-hole.
Even though the two Gear Sergeants had similarly grim and irritated dispositions, they’d never fully gotten along. If the two ever found themselves shoulder-to-shoulder in a fight, they’d fit together like any two Gear soldiers, but just had too different ideals. Will thought that Fenix might risk his life for a circle of close friends, but beyond that he didn’t care about much, and Fenix probably saw him as one of the idealists that hadn’t had all the hope beaten out of them yet, and would get people killed trying to save the already doomed.
Rig Number 314 had been just about ready to roll out from under the wooden booms and pulleys used to refit it when ‘the incident’ occurred. Now Dizzy Wallin was running back and forth to make sure only the pieces necessary to take apart were taken apart, and that they were placed in an orderly way to go back on as soon as possible. Most of this heavy lifting was delegated to an unfortunate Private Reid, and had to follow every one of the conflicting commands Dizzy was giving him by order of Corporal Baird, who was currently face-down on his back inside the cooling vents that lead from some of the deeper-in systems to the grates the drive had gone through.
Struggling under the weight of a piece of armor plating, he was pointed in yet another direction and complained, “How much longer do I have to put up with this?”
From in the rig, an angry voice echoed through the metal airways. “Until I find the damn disk drive, butterfingers!”
Reid just moaned. “You weren’t even looking when I was giving it to you!”
Up above on what remained of Rig 314’s deck, Augustus Cole had fell back on the rule, ‘When all else fails, read the instructions.’ He’d dug out the schematics from Dizzy’s crowded glove compartment and tried to make sense of its weathered ink. “Aight, check yo’ left side, it could’a fallen into the cylinder.”
Baird’s metallic voice rose again. “Well that’s just fucking fine, cause there’s no cylinders attached to where I am!”
Will came up alongside in the shadow of the massive vehicle and called up, “Where is he in there?”
Private Cole was rechecking the papers. “Hold up . . . oh, I got it. Pull the grate off the panel with a ‘D60’ on it, you can ask him yeself.”
Nodding, Will looked around until he found the right part of the undercarriage, and used his fingernails to get a start at pulling the grate out. Then, sure enough, a patch of blond hair was just visible in the dark, as was the shine of a pair of goggles.
“Having fun?” Will asked.
“Come in and see for yourself.” Baird replied. “It’s a fuckin’ party in here.”
Will took a step back, looking over the entire rig and getting a scale of his task, when the mechanic yelled, “Hey, shit! Gun! Someone get a gun, there’s something moving in here! There’s something alive in here!”
In a second Will had drawn his snub pistol and peered inside the grate when a small, dark ball shot out of it, hitting the ground and scampering away. A squirrel, its fur blackened by grime, bobbed up and down as it ran, with Dizzy Wallin cursing and going after it, eliciting more chuckles from the crowd.
Will had seen something when it jumped out, and asked, “Hey, Baird, does the drive you’re looking for have a silver band around the middle, blue casing?”
He bent down and plucked the thing from where it had fallen originally in the grass, and set it in front of Baird’s face in the grate.
“Problem solved, Corporal. Put this thing back together, we got a schedule.”
And with that, Will turned and headed back for his bunk as the technician began cursing machinery, Reid, and squirrels.