Staff Sergeant Anthony "Tony" Blackburn was a Tyran Gear serving in the Coalition of Ordered Governments Army who fought in both the Pendulum Wars and the Locust War. A professional soldier, he was known for his skill on the battlefield and ruthless efficiency that allowed him to survive many battles in his lifetime. Having joined the military as a teenager he participated in many engagements against the UIR and was a Sergeant by the war's end. After Emergence Day, Blackburn led Bravo-Two against the Locust Horde and fought in several battles against this new foe. He was killed in 4 A.E during the Battle of Romeca, earning the Sovereigns Medal posthumously.
Anthony Blackburn was born in 36 B.E, in the Tyran capital of Ephyra. Both of his parents had served as Gears in the Coalition of Ordered Governments' Army in their youth, though they had retired from military service by the time he was born. Anthony was an only child and although poor had a decent family life, making many friends and excelling in school. Like most children, he was indoctrinated into the COG's belief system at school and fully believed in his government's principles. As such, he intended to join the military as his parents had done when he came of age. While Anthony - who preferred the shorter name of 'Tony' - had the necessary grades to attend the prestigious LaCroix University, he ultimately decided to become a Gear shortly after leaving school at the age of eighteen.
Siege of Anvil GateEdit
- "I feel like fucking shit, that's how I feel."
- — Tony brushing off reporter after the end of the famous siege.
Shortly after finishing his training, Tony was assigned to the 26th Royal Tyran Infantry, also known as the 'Unvanquished'. Several weeks after joining the battalion he was part of a large unit under the command of Captain Ranald Sander sent to the fortress of Anvil Gate in the COG nation of Kashkur. While it was initially expected to be a fairly uneventful mission, tensions soon rose in the area that ended up with a full-on siege for the Gears defending the fort.
As time went by the situation only worsened as Captain Sanders was killed in an Indie attack while on a recon mission. With Lieutenant Victor Hoffman taking charge shortly after, Tony and his comrades were forced into peacekeeping duties for weeks as UIR artillery bombarded Anvil Gate, killing hundreds and destroying the fort's walls. Tony was almost killed himself when an artillery strike hit nearby, killing two Gears and nearly embedding a piece of metal into him. He was present when Lieutenant Hoffman executed a civilian for stealing rations from the Gears, something that greatly disturbed him and made him question the ethics of the COG's presence in Kashkur. Nonetheless, he kept to his duties for three months until the decision was made to surrender to their attackers. While Hoffman spoke to the enemy leader, Tony and the rest of the Gears took up positions in the city and ambushed the Indie forces. It was here that he killed his first few men and racked up an individual bodycount of thirteen Indies in the massacre that followed. Though they broke the siege, Tony and several other Gears felt slightly bad for faking a surrender and refused to comment when questioned following the battle. Private Blackburn's trial by fire had cemented him as a lethal Gear within his unit and would be the first of his many engagements during the Pendulum Wars.
Battle of Irohma IslandEdit
- "There's no justifying what those bastards did here. This was slaughter."
- — Tony, upon finding a massacred village.
By the time the 26th RTI were deployed to Irohma in the South Islands, Blackburn was a decorated Gear and held the rank of Sergeant in his platoon. In the thirteen years since his first combat at Anvil Gate, he had fought in dozens of battles against the UIR and married Sarah Rolston, who was part of the COG Engineering Corps. When news arrived of Indies carrying out massive ethnic cleansing campaigns against the natives of Irohma and other islands, his squad were among the first to arrive to help the local tribes. Minutes after landing, Blackburn and the other Gears came across a village that had been razed to the ground by Indie troops. Seeing that their foe had left no survivors, he led his fellow Gears into the jungle in pursuit of the soldiers who had done this for some time until they came across an enemy platoon burning down another village. The Gears attacked from behind and wiped out most of the soldiers until their leader surrendered. Though Blackburn was aware that surrendering enemies were to be taken as POW's, he and his comrades could not let their actions go unpunished and executed the man.
Within days, COG forces had totally eradicated the Indies from Irohma with minimal losses to their own forces. However, most of the local tribals had been wiped out in the attack, including most of their warriors. While the COG did promise to help the natives rebuild after this devastating blow to their island, they also gave any survivors the chance to join the military as Gears if they wanted to. While they were only successful in recruiting one islander initially, the people of Irohma were grateful to the COG for saving them from the UIR's attempt at ethnic cleansing. Blackburn would later remark that in all his years as a Gear the sight of Indie soldiers butchering the technologically inferior tribals with was the worst thing he'd seen from the UIR.
Battle of TranwellEdit
Several months after Irohma, Blackburn was part of a large detachment of Gears sent to Tranwell, a city near the frontline under siege by the UIR. They were to secure the city's port of anti-aircraft guns as a staging ground for the COG to land reinforcements via King Ravens from the nearby CNV Unrelenting. The Gears attacked at dawn, attacking a weak point in the UIR's defensive line with groups of Centaur tanks while Armadillo APC's transported Blackburn and the others into the city proper. While their initial assault had been successful, the Gears were soon bogged down in bloody urban combat, forced to fight for every street and building within Tranwell.
Blackburn's six-man squad managed to fight their way into what had once been a hotel building, eliminating an Indie sniper nest before moving towards the seafront. As they crossed a street, several Khimera attack helicopters moved in, cutting half of the squad to pieces and wounding Blackburn in the leg. The survivors dragged him into a building and provided first aid as best they could, though it soon became clear that he couldn't properly move. Believing himself to be a liability, he ordered his men to press on and secure the port while he remained where he was as a rearguard. Aside from sparse radio updates, Blackburn was totally alone for several hours until an Indie platoon was sighted moving down the street. From his position, he waited until they were about to enter his building before tossing a grenade and opening fire on them. The entire group was killed in under a minute, along with any stragglers who ventured out into the open outside his building.
It soon became clear to the UIR forces that there was a COG sniper, prompting them to call in mortar strikes on the surrounding area. Blackburn was almost killed in the ensuing attack and was buried under a pile of rubble. When he came to, he was in a COG field hospital two days later with multiple broken bones and lacerations across his body. The surviving members of his squad had managed to clear out multiple AA guns across the port that allowed Gear reinforcements to enter the city, winning the battle after a great deal of bloodshed. Blackburn was bedridden for over a month following the Battle, though he was commended for his bravery in combat by his superiors. After being released from hospital, he was given a two-month furlough and returned to Ephyra to spend more time with his wife. Sarah, a full-time member of the Engineering Corps, was only given enough leave to spend a single week with Tony before returning to the field. Blackburn spent the remainder of his time visiting family members and old friends, pondering what kind of life he would lead after leaving military service. With no end in sight to the Pendulum Wars at this point, he was unsure what he would do and resolved to simply keep fighting as long as he possibly could.
Battle of Aspho FieldsEdit
A year and a half after the Battle of Tranwell, the 26th Royal Tyran Infantry's C Company was deployed to Aspho Fields as part of 'Operation: Leveler'. Blackburn and many other Gears had been training for beach landings and long-term survival for some time by this point, and were well-prepared when sent in. Their objective was to cut off all reinforcements to Aspho Point, and after arriving managed to set up defensive positions before attacking nearby UIR forces. Blackburn personally took down two enemy anti-air emplacements with a Longspear rocket launcher before being forced into cover by the Indie counter-attack. Hiding in a thicket of bushes, the Sergeant's Lancer jammed as a group of enemy infantrymen approached, leaving him nearly defenceless as his foes attempted to flush out nearby Gears with hand grenades. After watching two comrades go down in a hail of fire, Blackburn burst from cover and charged the enemy with his bayonet the moment their backs were turned. Caught off-guard, they did not react quick enough as the first man was gutted and several others shot repeatedly at close range by Blackburn's Snub Pistol.
This risky move had saved the lives of several nearby Gears, who moved to assist Blackburn. The man he had bayoneted attempted to fire back at the Gear with his own sidearm, hitting him in the shoulder before he went down in a hail of gunfire. Taking up a rifle from his fallen foes, Blackburn and several other Gears managed to fight their way back towards a better position that allowed them to hunker down and await further orders. Many Gears fell as the UIR continued to assault them from afar, pinning them down in the marshland while anti-air tanks kept air support away. Eventually, a lone Gear was able to hijack one and rampaged across enemy lines, saving the lives of many within C Company, Blackburn included. Though slightly injured, he assisted in carrying the wounded out when rescue arrived at the extraction point. Despite heavy casualties, news soon arrived that Leveler had been a major success for the Coalition of Ordered Governments, and a chance to turn the tide of war against the UIR. While his role in the battle had been minimal, Blackburn was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant, a position he felt he'd barely earned, but accepted anyway.
The next three years of Tony Blackburn's life were spent moving from battlefield to battlefield alongside the 26th RTI. Despite the promise of victory that had surrounded the aftermath of Aspho Fields, nothing seemed to come of it for a long while, making him wonder if the COG had really achieved anything major after the battle. However, the sudden arrival of the game-changing Hammer of Dawn satellites that obliterated UIR resistance dramatically changed everything in the conflict, finally bringing the Pendulum Wars to an end after generations of bloodshed and countless deaths. Overjoyed that there was finally peace, Blackburn's unit returned to Tyrus immediately. During that time, he and Sarah decided to try for a baby, believing that their child would grow up in a genuinely peaceful world. Then, six weeks after the Pendulum Wars ended, Emergence Day happened.
As reports flooded in from around the world of numerous cities being invaded by a subterranean force known as the Locust, Blackburn's platoon were en-route to a COG training outpost known as Embry Station in an armoured convoy. While confusion reigned and military leaders attempted to organise a defence against this new foe, they fought their way through city streets now teeming with enemy Drones and fleeing civilians, not stopping until they reached their destination. Using a Centaur tank to clear the way, the Gears were able to drive off the Locust attacking Embry station, though after a vicious firefight they only found one survivor: a fresh recruit named Preston Riveras. After calming the panicking young man down, Blackburn rejoined his comrades as they headed out of the city at once. While some attempt was made to pick up civilians as they left, there were simply too many to take and eventually the platoon's Lieutenant had them press on, going around or even over those screaming for help.
The next few days were some of the toughest Blackburn had to endure as he and the other Gears were forced to wait for orders in a mountainside base. Like many others he begged for news about his wife and family, but the sheer number of casualties made it nigh-impossible to track down individuals among the billions of dead. With a heavy heart, he was forced to accept that Sarah was almost certainly dead. After a week, they were redeployed to fight back against the Locust's ever-advancing armies.
Hammer of Dawn CounterattackEdit
Personality and TraitsEdit
- "Everything after E-Day just hasn't felt real. It's like a bad dream that won't end. Every day you wake up and for a few seconds you think everything is how it used to be. That's the worst part."
- — Tony, speaking in 4.AE