Sergeant Preston Riveras was an experienced Gear soldier in the COG army, fighting in the seventeen year-long Locust War since the first day. He would serve for most of the conflict as the leader of Bravo-Two, becoming a capable leader in spite of the many hardships he and his soldiers faced. Having joined the military shortly before E-Day, he would see his first combat against Locust rather than the UIR and participated in dozens of engagements over the years. Preston rose through the ranks and became a Sergeant after a almost a decade, leading his own squad against the Locust and gaining a great deal of respect from his fellow Gears. Following the sinking of Jacinto, Preston led a small contingent of Gears away from what remained of the COG and attempted to start a new settlement away from the war.
Preston Riveras was born on the island of Galangi in the South Islands, nineteen years before Emergence Day. He was the youngest of three brothers in a large family and would often look up to his older siblings as a child. His father, William, had been a Gear in his youth, and encouraged his sons to join the military when they came of age. Preston and his brothers were taught the principles of the COG from a young age and were raised to be loyal to the Coalition despite not being citizens of Tyrus.
At school, Preston did reasonably well in most subjects, enjoying literature and writing, though he was often reprimanded for daydreaming in addition to having a rather nonchalant attitude in class. Nonetheless, he attempted to follow the example set by his brothers, who were two and three years older than him respectively, and do as well as he possibly could. He left school at the age of eighteen with a handful of decent grades. While he was offered a place in a University, Preston made the decision to enlist and become a Gear. By this point, his brothers were both in the military; Harold was a commando who had been on several operations, while Charlie had joined the prestigious Onyx Guard. As the youngest brother, Preston felt that his time had come to join up.
Enlisting with the COGEdit
Shortly after his nineteenth birthday, Preston visited a local recruiter, and signed on as his brothers and father had before him. Along with a group of local boys, most of whom he had known from school. From there, they were taken to Embry Station, a training facility in far-off Tyrus, where they would undergo the harsh physical and mental training required to become a Gear.
Though the training was tough, Preston managed to endure, helping along his fellow trainees as they fought in mock battlefields and underwent rudimentary survival training. Several weeks in, however, they received some surprising news: the Pendulum Wars had ended. While he was happy that victory had been attained, Preston was slightly disappointed, believing that with peace his military life would be one of endless patrols and drills. Nonetheless, he persevered through his training, occasionally checking in with his far off family.
Five weeks after the Pendulum Wars had officially ended, Preston and his comrades finally finished their training at Embry Station, though they were to remain there until a Gear NCO arrived to move them into their own units. It was on the morning of this person's arrival that the Locust attacked.
- "You're a Gear now, kid. Act like one."
- — Sergeant Tony Blackburn upon encountering Preston.
Preston and his fellows awoke one day to find their city under attack by an unknown foe. Thinking that UIR forces were launching an attack in spite of the recent surrender, they made their way towards the armoury at the behest of their instructors, well aware of a battle raging outside. The weapons in Embry Station were largely for training purposes, with barely a dozen working Lancer assault rifles and Snub pistols available, with little ammo to spare. In addition, the trainees only possessed lightweight training armour compared to the full suits that provided regular Gears with protection, further worsening their predicament.
It was not until the rookie Gears exited into the facility's courtyard that they realised they were not under attack by the UIR. In fact, their attackers were not even human. A number of Locust Drones emerged from the ground near the gate, opening fire on the defenders. This was Preston's first firefight, in which he remained in cover and fired in the vague direction of his foe. Though three Gears were killed, their superior numbers and defensive location brought them victory against the first few Locust. It was then that the attack began in earnest, with dozens of foes pouring in through the city streets towards Embry Station, massacring every human being in their path.
This time, the Gears were pushed back inside, losing another to enemy gunfire. Preston led several others back into the station, where they used tables and lockers as rudimentary barriers while they gunned down any Locust who came near. Even so, they were quickly running out of ammo. In spite of the strict orders given by their trainers, Preston's group attempted to retreat, using a side door to get outside and run for the vehicles in the courtyard. It was this that ended up saving their lives, as a number of enemy missiles impacted Embry Station, collapsing some of the roof and dooming the surviving Gears inside.
Preston and the seven others who had fled with him soon became pinned down in the courtyard, using stolen enemy rifles to hold them off. Just as the situation had become hopeless for the survivors, a Centaur Tank arrived alongside several APC's carrying battle-hardened Gears. They were able to quickly eliminate the Locust soldiers attacking Embry Station and the surrounding area, searching for survivors amongst the ruins. One Gear, Sergeant Tony Blackburn, discovered Preston by the vehicle bay, surrounded by the corpses of his comrades, and Locust drones. It soon became apparent that he was the last survivor of the training facility.
The Gears, who were attempting to evacuate the doomed city, transported Preston away from the area, heading towards a COG outpost in the nearby mountains. It was here that they found out that the Locust had attacked human cities around the world, slaughtering everyone they came across. Millions had already died on the first day. Preston and a number of other Gears found themselves panicking for their families, most of whom were likely to have already been killed. Sergeant Blackburn, the NCO who was sent to pick up the rookie Gears from Embry Station, calmed him and the others down, ensuring that they remained focused for the time being in spite of their losses.
For Preston, the next few months were spent travelling with a platoon of Gears. He was provided with new armour to replace his training suit, and provided with weapons to fight the Locust. He soon learned that both of his brothers had been killed; Harold had died on Emergence Day when their barracks was attacked, while Charlie had been killed along with many Onyx Guard soldiers during the Battle of Halvo Bay. There was some news that the South Islands had not seen the same amount of destruction seen on the mainland, giving him some hope that his parents were still alive. The platoon fought the Locust on several offensives over the next few months, though it soon became clear that the COG were fighting a losing battle in its cities against the Locust Horde.
One year and one month after Emergence Day, the COG's leadership made the decision to use weapons of mass destruction to deny the Locust access to any more Human technology and resources in the war. This was a sudden and desperate move, something that greatly surprised Preston, who had become a skilled fighter since his trial by fire a year before. With only a few days to evacuate, his entire platoon was forced into a retreat, taking casualties as they made their way towards the King Raven helicopters for evac. From there, he and the others were transported to the Jacinto Plateau, a safe place from the strikes.
Though he had been told about the strikes, Preston was still shocked to see what his own government had done in the name of denying assets to the enemy. Watching the planet scorched from the safety of Jacinto, millions dying in the process, killed off Preston's faith in the COG's beliefs, something that he had been brought up to believe in by his father. While he would never fight against his fellow Gears, Preston resolved to keep fighting for the COG against the Locust threat, at least until the war had ended.
Three years after Emergence Day, Bravo Platoon had been split up into a smaller squad, becoming Bravo-Two. As part of a new military offensive, they joined a large detachment of Gears sent to what remained of the industrial city of Romeca, in eastern Tyrus. While like the rest of the world it had been utterly ruined by the Hammer of Dawn strikes several years beforehand, enough of the city's infrastructure and the confirmed presence of Stranded settlers living there had warranted an operation, with the intent of seizing as much working machinery as possible and returning it to Jacinto intact. With news of increased Locust activity in the area, COG High Command allowed the operation to go ahead.
Deployed via King Raven into one of Romeca's abandoned plazas, Preston and his comrades were part of the advance force securing a route through the city so the convoy of trucks and tanks could move in safely. While at first it seemed as though the urban environment was totally abandoned, a Pesanga Gear named Bikash Sharma detected Wretches moving through buildings ahead of them. Realising that the Locust were already in Romeca, Bravo-Two advanced into combat without hesitation, easily killing the smaller creatures before distant gunfire signalled the arrival of enemy Drones.
Leaving the COGEdit
A New HomeEdit
- "What a wonderful world we've ruined..."
- — Preston looking over the ruins of Ephyra
Like just about every serving Gear, Preston was forced to deal with the loss of loved ones to the Locust onslaught on E-Day and beyond, something that affected him greatly. The fact that he was the sole survivor of the Embry Station training centre made him rather withdrawn on personal matters, preferring battle to conversation most of the time. For a number of years he was rather pessimistic regarding the war, fearing that humanity would lose in the end. That said, he tried not to let it show and actively tried to raise the morale of his fellow Gears rather than give in to hopelessness.
After the deaths of so many Gears in his squad, he had few friends in the military and often distanced himself with newer recruits, most of whom would either die quickly in battle or end up as battle-hardened soldiers like him. As a squad leader, he was rather harsh, but fair to those under his command. He despised cowardice and although he would often dislike the orders given, saw it as his duty to carry them out. He would not abandon civilians if there was a chance of saving them, however. This would include groups of Stranded, and occasionally earned him the ire of his superiors.
In spite of his guarded and dour nature, Preston did begin to show some genuine optimism later on, particularly after Operation: Hollow Storm. Though scattered, he believed that humanity genuinely had a chance of rebuilding the world that they had destroyed in the war against the Locust. He did often showed sadness upon seeing what the COG had done to itself, trading lives for time during the war. While he had once been very loyal to the COG and its beliefs when he joined the military, he no longer cared much for his government after years of frontline combat.
Skills and AbilitiesEdit
Like all Gears, Preson had been trained in a variety of combat and survival methods and had a decent knowledge of most COG-issued equipment. He became particularly proficient with the Mark 2 Lancer rifle after its introduction and preferred using it in combat due to its general reliability rather than resorting to a more specialised weapon. Years of fighting the Locust also gave Preston a very good tactical knowledge of Locust weaponry in addition to a number of improvised weapons that could be used to tip the scales in battle.
In addition to his skills as an infantryman, Preston would often be forced into close combat with the Locust, and would become fairly proficient at it. While he would often rely on the chainsaw blade of his trusty Lancer, he would later take to using a heavily modified machete of Pesangi design, made specifically for cutting through the thick skin of Locust drones. These skills would make him a formidable opponent on the battlefield and helped Preston to survive many close encounters.