■ ALIASES/TITLES... SOLDIER Tactician, Dire-Wolf, The Butcher, Blood-Knight
■ AGE & DATE OF BIRTH... 26 - October 28th [ μ ] – εуλ 1978
■ BLOOD TYPE... Highly modified.
■ EYE COLOR... Blue-Green Mako-Stained
■ HAIR COLOR... Brown/White
■ HEIGHT... 6'2"
■ WEIGHT... 218 lbs.
■ OCCUPATION... SOLDIER:1st Class - Colonel
■ PLACE OF BIRTH... Junon
■ RELATIONSHIP STATUS... Married to Jade - August 15th [ μ ] – εуλ 0003
■ EDUCATION... Privately Educated
■ ELEMENTAL AFFINITY... Darkness
■ SUMMON AFFINITY... Hades
Half a decade of continual struggle has reaped its reward. Gabriel now stands as the newest SOLDIER First Class into the Division, his efforts and achievements acknowledged with this lofty position of legend. With his legacy now etched into history, Gabriel keenly surveys the future before him- the light of hope finally cast over a life that had, until now, faced a cruel ending. Viewing his ascension to First as but one more stepping stone on the path he treads, he is slowly and steadily recovering from the arduous and modified treatment, intending to keep his forwards momentum and step towards utter mastery within SOLDIER.
Undergoing intense training, both physical and spiritual, Gabriel is stepping himself through the past history of SOLDIER in order to set a standard for its future. Determined to cast his own shadow and stand as one of SOLDIER's greatest, his insatiable pursuit of meaning, integrity and prestige take him down paths untraveled. As a leading member of ShinRa's SOLDIER Division, Gabriel is in his prime. Respected, renowned and often feared, Gabriel has become known as a well-known and competent First Class and one of ShinRa's finest active combatants. As the most senior member of the 70th SOLDIER Regiment, Gabriel now finds the responsibility of his comrades squarely upon his shoulder, and the burden is his to transition SOLDIER into a new age of prosperity - a fact made all the more difficult by the de-escalation of military forces and the gradual envelopment of SOLDIER under Heidegger's new regime.
Throughout it all, Gabriel has but one support and stability - his equally busy wife Jade Lycanthyr, perhaps the most apparent anchor that keeps the troubled SOLDIER connected with his own humanity.
Tall, built and athletic, Gabriel is clean shaven and sports mid-length but well-kept dark brown hair, his genetic quirk and family trait reflected in the icy-white fringe. Gabriel's skin is lightly tanned, marked with a network of scars and reminders of the many conflicts he has found himself in, in particular a long scar on his left cheek that travels down to his jawline and resumes onto his shoulder. His eyes, like most SOLDIER, are stained with Mako to a blue-green tone, the inner ring around the iris still its natural green.
Professional and controlled in his movement, Gabriel almost always holds a steely visage beneath his helmet, his expressions varying between even neutrality, detached apathy and an irritable scowl. Naturally, these expressions are more varied and informal when off-duty, and sometimes when among his peers. His humor is often dry and scathing, like his speech, but he has been known to be playful and friendly in his communication to those in his inner circles.
A complex, complicated and likely deeply troubled individual, Gabriel is frigid and harsh to most, slow to warm up to individuals- though those who win his respect also win his complete loyalty. Reserved, proud and aloof, he exhibits a behavior that is often seen as coldness and arrogance to many onlookers, and finds disrespect and poorly timed 'jokes' often unforgivable. Critical and scathing, he is by his very nature antisocial, holding himself and others to a high standard. Despite this, Gabriel is cautious and deliberate, and through his consistent self-analysis and quiet contemplation is often riddled with self-doubt and a harsh understanding that, ultimately, he knows very little about the world or people around him. Though he finds it easy to communicate his scorn and distaste, his beliefs are difficult to articulate, and he attempts to make up for this by his excellence in combat, his utter devotion to his ideals, and his refusal to compromise.
Gabriel is keen to see pattern and purpose in even the most abstract reasonings- and where context cannot be found, he has a knack for creating it from provided evidence. This desire for patterns, for context, and for understanding of why people do what they do renders him particularly stubborn and judgemental, his disgust at the acts of AVALANCHE deep-rooted in the context he has imagined for them, as is his reverence of several SOLDIER operatives. Often forced to re-evaluate his understandings as new facts come to light, they often serve as keen reminders of Gabriel's own flawed perspective.
Though his motives are hard to grasp, Gabriel is at his core a man trying to make the world a better place. Taking any and every commitment incredibly seriously- especially his responsibility as a SOLDIER and what that means, Gabriel's pride and arrogance harbor his consistent drive for self-improvement and mastery, a burning desire to reach the top of his game in order to have the strength he needs to protect the city he would, in a heartbeat, give his life for. Holding to a private code of personal conduct and a reverence for the concept of 'the innocent', as well as a malicious hatred of those who would threaten their lives, Gabriel has little mercy for the ignorant - and even fewer for his enemies.
The 1970's had been undeniably the years of ShinRa - the Manufacturing Works rising out from its sleepy origins in Nibelheim to eventually become an Electric Power Company that had begun to encompass half the globe. Reactors had begun to pop up across the world, promising clean and efficient energy. The plans for a new city of the future, Midgar, were currently in discussion. A gradually developing military superpower, its early successes drew many to its Security and Infantry divisions. And among those youths enticed by the promise of modernity in a world that had, until then, been caught between eras? Was a young man named Leon Lycanthyr.
Born to one of the Manufacturing Work's early R&D developers and one of the first to begin work on the Mako Reactors, Gabriel Corthas Lycanthyr, Leon grew up in the shadow of disgrace. By the time Leon was old enough to pursue a life of his own, his father had abandoned him- forced into exile after personally speaking out about the dangers of Mako Reactors, causing a small PR scandal that may have delayed construction on the new city of the future. Highly irritated by his old man's follies and the tainted legacy he had been left, Leon became notoriously self-motivated. Joining the Manufacturing Works' armed security division, he had a brief interest in the early elite Infantry known as SOLDIER, but decided instead to focus on field command. Despite his father's scandal, Leon slowly and steadily began to outshine the broken reputation he had been given- playing an instrumental role in the capture of a reactor site northeast of Junon that eventually afforded him the rank of Colonel.
And yet, Leon was a pragmatic enough man. With his status secured, his own legacy moderately repaired, and his future gilded by this show of loyalty to the new superpower? Leon went into pseudo-retirement in Junon at a very young age, citing a desire to look towards politics instead of combat. Rising modestly into the sleepy port town's social elite in the days before the city above had been planned, let alone built? Leon made a relatively comfortable life for himself, intending on looking to the future and expanding ShinRa's reach to all corners of the eastern continent. Though possessing far less wealth than his peers, and being an individual without familial backing, it was clear Leon had one thing above all else. Ambition.
It was perhaps this ambition and the lifestyle that Lycanthyr lead that attracted him the attention of a fair few female suitors. Though toying with the prospect of marriage to one of the wealthier sub-branches of the ShinRa loyal families, particularly those developing in Midgar, Leon's plans at any long-term political marriage fell to shambles when he came across a young pilot and shared with her a night of passion that would have an obvious consequence. Thinking nothing of the exchange, it was only a few weeks later that the trembling young woman came to his home to announce she was pregnant.
Leon's plans at a political marriage were dashed to the ground, but he could not be resentful of this young woman. Still, he struggled long and hard with his plans for the future, finally deciding to legitimize his child and marry the woman who would bear him. Though a marriage of convenience, affection gradually grew between the pair as the future loomed ahead of them. Though Leon was left embittered by his planned reach being stifled, he could still work on another project. If he could not secure his future as he wanted, he could at least secure the past. And on October 28th 1978, a year after ShinRa discovered something terrible and ancient in the snowy wilds of the north? Gabriel Magnus Lycanthyr was born, named for the grandfather he was to absolve in his own life, and the long dead primarch of the family who had brought them into relevance.
Pre-War Junon was not the vast military city it would later be- and stood as a collection of houses and a large, cut-off industrial port. It was here that the young Gabriel grew, supported by a family he hardly saw, born into relative privilege when compared to others growing up in the village. Despite this lack of real human contact from his perpetually busy father- who had yet to grow into the role of 'father', continuing with his socialite responsibilities and political ambitions for Mayor, Gabriel grew to idolize Leon, constantly vying for his support and admiration. Raised on stories of his father's military successes, on tales of heroism and bravery, he grew to daydream about conquests of his own- and despite his relative intelligence, was increasingly dejected by his schooling. Though sociable and polite, the young man seemed increasingly alienated by his peers and intensely thoughtful.
As history marched onwards, Gabriel glimpsed the brave men and women who signed up for the conflict in Wutai as they disappeared, one by one, to a strange and distant land with a mixture of hope and fear in their eyes. But on the other side of things, he saw those who resolved to stay at home- those who seemed to turn away from these larger problems and work towards an existence that prioritized survival over legacy. He couldn't help but feel upset and dread at this prospect of the future, despite his young age. His time alone gave him much time to think, to feel, to explore his thoughts and understand what it was he truly wanted. A life that made some difference.
In despair for their son's lack of engagement with his education, Leon and Ffion agreed to send Gabriel to a private ShinRa Academy, where he was quickly discovered to have a flair for history and writing. Leon, still believing his son a 'pet project' to repair the legacy of his own father, pushed Gabriel in the direction of Mako Engineering- to finally repair the tainted legacy left by the name. The young Gabriel, however, did not take to this direction particularly well. Even at a young age, he became increasingly aware of the dismal future he saw laid out for him- a monotonous, routine existence that worked like clockwork- just like the machines he was set to build. Though his youth brought a meekness and willingness to follow the line his father had set- his teenage years bred something different. Gabriel, keenly aware of history, of his own 'difference' with his peers and his daydreaming for a future of merit and meaning, dropped out of school- sick of living on the laurels laid down by his wealthy father. Hoping to create a future for himself based on his own merits, Gabriel left the academy and left his family, heading for Midgar.
Disc 1 - Trial and Error
[ μ ] – εуλ 1998
Travelling to Midgar was the first true adventure he'd ever had, but it was a long and eventful path that brought him a glimpse of the life he had prepared for himself. Packing his bags and announcing his intentions to his family barely two days before his departure, his limited allowance forced him to consult with some childhood friends who he had kept in some contact with to help facilitate his travel through the Junon plains and in the direction of Midgar itself. Travelling with this gang of renegades, Gabriel found himself watching closely, eagerly understanding that he'd have to present himself far different when he moved to Midgar itself.
Eventually his route brought him to Kalm, wherein he got his first real glimpse of the imposing city in the distance, Midgar raising from the horizon like a black mountain. Intimidated, intrigued, and completely enamored by the sight that loomed before him, Gabriel bartered passage with the owner of the nearby Materia store, Mr. Cardas. Travelling along this trade route, he witnessed firsthand as green fields peeled away to dusty, arid plains- to the harsh wastelands that rose around Midgar's gargantuan structure. Having gained a vague understanding of the layout of the city from his ride, as well as the more recent events that had occurred, Gabriel came to learn a little more about the rebel element he had come to understand was raising itself into the city. He had considered the future that they would offer- an upheaval of the old system in place of a new, but the news of the death of a young girl in a recent bombing run by AVALANCHE brought his disgust rather than his intrigue. Still undecided if life in the Military was entirely for him, he took a stroll around the city upon his arrival to consider his options, to think on the future, and to get to know what Midgar could offer him.
On his first day in the city, Sector Eight was alive with Military activity- with urgent looking Military Police parading around, with Marines and snipers on the upper rooftops searching for trouble. And with a single SOLDIER operative maintaining vigil at the fountain. Gabriel had learned much of SOLDIER in the past - though his father spoke of them only briefly, he spoke with a reverence and intimidation that Gabriel had never truly seen before. These mako-infused warriors were an enigma. Inquisitive, curious, and naive? Gabriel approached this waiting SOLDIER.
Gabriel knew little of the reasons the Military had descended upon the Plate with full force- responding to an appearance from Elfé herself earlier that same day. And so, as he asked a series of questions to this engimatic SOLDIER, he could not help but be disturbed by the man's increasing irritation. In Gabriel's eyes, this man in black had placed himself on a pedestal, and was growing irate with simple innocent questions from a member of the public. But as he pressed his questioning, as the SOLDIER's patience drew thin, he found himself grasped around the scuff of the collar and hurled with superhuman force onto the rooftops above the Sector. Stunned, embarassed, and completely dumbfounded by this display of superhuman strength? Gabriel lingered atop the rooftop in awe – promptly targeted by the Marines still on the look out for AVALANCHE operatives. It was only when the Military Police moved to the top of the roof to rescue him that he began to reflect on the strange examples the day had set. The first SOLDIER he had met appeared completely dehumanized by power, so far from reality as to be a sociopath. Disturbingly sobered by this revelation, Gabriel pondered on if this was indicative of the rest of SOLDIER- and upon learning this man was a General, Gale Trevise, he grew resentful of the inherent hostility within the ShinRa Military structure. Though he would never deign to tread the path of a terrorist, he saw an avenue for change- and in that moment of fear, a glimpse of what the power to influence the world was. His resolve set, Gabriel decided that his future lay in the Military- to renew and reform the system from within, and to set an example. To prove this man in black wrong.
But it was in his arrogance and his lack of understanding that he labelled Gale's actions. The man had thrown him out of the way of the continuing skirmishes in the lower plate, and many had suspected Gabriel a rebel given the sword on his hip. Though harsh, Trevise's actions had a purpose outside of mere annoyance. A lesson that Gabriel would come to learn in time was that nothing was ever as it seemed.
The next day, Gabriel made for the imposing headquarters ShinRa had called their own- the tower at the center of the city. There, he signed up for a role in the Paramilitary, to police the city that was to become his home. And, after a rather intimidating interview by Rikka Langly, Gabriel found himself promptly welcomed into the expectations and benefits of Military life. And though the work ahead of him was significant, he had found something in this life that Junon could not offer him. Purpose.
Time in the Security Forces brought to attention the gaps in his martial training – though gyms and trainers had been of no shortage to him in Junon thanks to his father's affluence, Gabriel was forced rather suddenly to confront the limitations of his own ability, despite the strength of his convictions. At no point was this more apparent than his encounter with a General of the Wutai Liberation Forces, a terrorist cell that sewed chaos within the city to diminish the war effort. Utterly decimated in combat by Shun Yotou after refusing to simply allow the man on his way, Gabriel came face to face with the stakes ahead of him. Stepping up to this future would mean fighting men like Shun time and time again. And it would mean, sooner or later, he would have to be able to win.
After passing his probation as a Cadet following a longer time than most, given a shortage of Officer staff in the Paramilitary? Gabriel was given the choice of the Companies ahead of him. Whilst he found himself equally attracted to the professionalism and pragmatism of Alpha, and the comeraderie of Charlie? It was to Bravo Company that the man saw the most potential, if only because of Bravo's suffering state as the smallest of the three divisions. Firmly believing in Bravo's creed and finding himself irritated at the instances of poor leadership he saw within the company, he made his private goal to enter the struggling company and rebuild it from within, leaving it in a better state than it had been before.
But this departure from Bravo would be further along than anticipated. Not long after Gabriel's admittance to the military fully, the first SOLDIER Recruitment in some time was held in the tower. Eager to witness the ruthless standards SOLDIER put forwards and to view those who would be his competition, Gabriel went along barely daring to hope he could succeed. And as he was , like many others, dismissed from the Recruitment early on for his lack of experience and his failure to spot the 'traps' in the written test? Gabriel realized the learning curve ahead of him, the standards he would have to rise to meet. And so that naive young man who had lead to Midgar slowly began to grow, to change his mindsets, to learn his lessons and commit himself to self-improvement. Gabriel, for a lack of a better word, got serious.
The next few months began to define Gabriel as an individual, his daily conflicts with AVALANCHE and WLF warriors serving to harden his heart, his experiences with monsters and phenomenon widening his limited perspective of the world. He worked, he fought, and throughout it he sometimes found himself promoted along in rank as well as experience.
Bravo's Company Commander, Ragna Sasaki, was a barely present feature of the regular lineup of active Military Police. This gap in upper leadership lead to relative flexability for the young MP, but with that came a deepening frustration and irritation at absentee, incompetant leadership. As Gabriel's mind was pushed towards a more professional outlook, he ended up coming into partnership with two Alpha Company upstarts – John Newton and Felicia Newton. Though briefly considering moving to Alpha Company himself, he decided it best to remain at the Company that needed leadership from the field when it could not get it from the HQ. And to his surprise, both John and Felicia joined him in this endevour. Steadily, this trifecta brought to themselves a solid reputation of action and leadership, growing to relative prominence within the ranks. And John's influence did much to sway Gabriel's own somewhat carefree nature to something far more sobered, the criticism of his partner often forcing him to confront new solutions to his problems.
Gabriel began to consciously distance himself from the carefree and callow youth who had joined the military some months back, his experience at the forefront of such a dangerous life quickly making him a changed man. In Gabriel's eyes? A better man. The failures and defeats he had experienced each only served to toughen his resolve, to lay bare the uncomfortable sensation of defeat. And with this resolve came an increasing passion for his choice of lifestyle, quickly adapting and embodying the Bravo Company ethos as he found himself completely passionate about this role he had fallen into. Working as a Drill Instructor for Bravo Company, his style of management gained the attention of the CO Lux Cealum and the VCC of Alpha Company, Davis Heitzer, both of whom Gabriel found himself working with when, as usual, Ragna found himself absent. Finally having enough of this lack of leadership, Gabriel and the Newtons organized for an impromptu Bravo Meeting where they discussed the best means of raising their concerns to this absentee commander- and in the process, reinvigorate their Company. This meeting was interrupted however by Nyx Langly, who considered the meeting a coup. Striking Gabriel directly, the man found himself face-to-face with the reality of going against ShinRa's appointed representatives, challenging authority in the face of a problem. Square-shouldered, he repeated his issues as calmly as he could muster. And eventually, Ragna himself came to the meeting, affording all with a hollow promotion for what Gabriel could only assume was appeasement.
Highly discouraged by this meeting's results, Gabriel's eyes turned forwards to his own future – and the SOLDIER Recruitments that loomed on the horizon, and the new year ahead.
[ μ ] – εуλ 1999
Gabriel was a different man to the one who had, all those months ago, dropped out at the first rung of the Recruitments. Experience had tempered his mind, failure had strengthened his resolve. And whilst before he carried himself with a rookie's uncertainty, he now found himself with a more mature, professional outlook. Just as he had shaped Bravo, Bravo had helped shape him. Taking place in multiple high-profile skirmishes and even an early raid against the AVALANCHE base in North Haven, Gabriel put all he could into self-improvement. When his ally and superior, Davis Heizer of Bravo, found himself ambushed atop the Archway by Daisuke? Gabriel helped lead a rescue operation consisting of both MPs and SOLDIER alike to combat the WLF forces and pull their commander out. But as he was tending to the injuries of a comrade, something caught the corner of his eyes. A glimpse of silver, a gust of wind, a flash of steel and black leather. It was his first time experiencing Sephiroth in the flesh, an experience that struck him with unmistakable awe and almost religious reverence as the Legendary SOLDIER covered their escape. Trembling by the time he returned to the hospital, he could do little but reflect on the warrior's godly prowess, his effortless power. Could such a power ever be attainable by someone like him, he wondered?
His neglected social life found itself briefly brought to some respite following a short trip to Costa del Sol the young warrior found himself unexpectedly invited to, accompanying a fair few SOLDIER Operatives and Military Police alike as they took a day away from the continual struggle and strife to enjoy a weekend in Costa- a weekend that drew Gabriel's attentions to the road ahead, contemplating on the beach all that had lead him here.
This cordial relationship with members of the SOLDIER Division extended, it appeared, to some vague guidance and even physical training from those in the Division who took an interest in his growing potential. With a mixture of these gradual lessons and his own drive for self-improvement, Gabriel found his martial prowess catapulted past his station- repeatedly surviving enormous ambushes in the Slums, going toe-to-toe with some of AVALANCHE's best... And perhaps most frighteningly of all, coming face to face with Oni Peridot and, despite his knowledge of the woman's skills, standing his ground to negotiate a withdrawal from the wounded MPs nearby. It was then that Gale Trevise descended into combat, engaging the rogue SOLDIER whilst Gabriel could do little but watch in relative awe. Those in SOLDIER, he saw, possessed a power deeper than just physical prowess. It was an ability to move the world itself.
And so, when the Recruitments rolled around once more? Gabriel found himself both invigorated by his experiences, and sobered by the realization of what this Division was truly capable of. In January's closing days, Gabriel found himself clawing his way through the trials presented to him by the prestigious SOLDIER Division. A free-for-all battle had ended in a stalemate between he and John, evenly matched. And when all was said and done, and the results were announced a few days later? Gabriel was summoned up to the SOLDIER floor by the relatively new First Class, Varen Lionheart – a man with whom he had spoken occasionally, witnessing the man's harsh outlook and stern judgements, escorted him up to the SOLDIER Floor itself, introducing him to what would be the rest of his life.
Along with Gabriel, both John Newton and Leonardo Volk had been selected for SOLDIER Recruit – a prospect that filled him with excitement despite his grown discipline. Newton had rapidly become his best friend, and Leonardo Volk seemed an intriguing individual. Together, he was certain, they could prove their worth to this dangerous corporation and emerge as SOLDIER.
Pride before a Fall
Though initially beginning training in Midgar, including martial combat training by Ayumi Mishima and a particularly inventive endurance training from Lucius Grant, both Gabriel and John found themselves facing an unexpected change in policy- one that was both opportunity and setback.
With new changes to the offensive plan of the Wutai War underway, operational staff in Midgar were enormously depleted- part of a final, big push to finally end the war once and for all. As a part of these major changes, many individuals were reshuffled into the Junon standing infantry- and many commanders had been sent to War, leaving the Infantry without leadership or judgement. In addition, with so many SOLDIER deployed overseas, there was a severe shortage of individuals to train the new Recruits.
Though Volk remained in Midgar, it was decided that both John and Gabriel were to be sent to Junon to receive further training and field experience from the operatives posted there, as well as serving individual short assignments to the current Wutai frontline tours. Though this would elongate the Recruit process, it also provided a unique opportunity that could not be passed up.
Initially somewhat skeptical about this change in venue despite the potential benefits, Gabriel nevertheless found himself surrounded by allies and friends that made this new home much easier to deal with. Though he had returned 'home', he found himself in a completely different situation to that he had been a few years ago- and a mindset that he felt was not condusive to surrounding himself with the people he had ventured to leave. And not wishing to face the scrutiny or judgement of his family, Gabriel decided against contacting them about his new placement – instead focused on supporting himself and focusing upon his career.
But the stresses of being a SOLDIER, especially in such a time of turmoil and strife, brought their own issues. Gabriel found himself constantly pitted against individuals who by far outclassed him, and yet he was amongst the only ones available to fight. The WLF were a constant presence, AVALANCHE seemed always ready to strike against the chaotic military forces, and those few leaders who had been shuffled into positions of authority appeared to Gabriel without a spine – allowing the rebels to walk all over them out of some misguided sense of pity and hope of their rehabilitation. As he was repeatedly appealing to the military structure to renew attacks, to intensify their grip; he was cast out by his peers and sneered at as another petty imitation of Gale Trevise, another supposed bloodthirsty warrior who thought only of War.
Whether this was true or not, the comparison drew him to look a little more carefully into the legacies of the warriors who had, for better or worse, inspired him in this direction. For when he was faced first-hand with the excesses of 'mercy' and perceived weakness in the military commanders he witnessed, and the AVALANCHE forces who ran rampant without fear? He began to finally understand why it was that people like Trevise existed. He began to understand better than ever the need for duality within authority, for the face of compassion and the face of fear to be equally felt. These comparisons, though made in insult, had only succeeded in one thing – forcing Gabriel to confront his own perceptions, and understanding that nothing was ever as it seemed.
Despite this, he came to find some camaraderie in Junon's SOLDIER and those within the military that showed some signs of professionalism and promise. In particular, Gabriel became extremely close friends with James Denton and Eric Moon, joining the pair on a short-term tour to the Wutai front that opened his eyes to the reality of war, the horrors that awaited a SOLDIER. Soberly, he witnessed the surrender of the enemy forces on the battlefield, he saw the devestation a single SOLDIER operative could sew amongst the ranks. Though his time in the frontline was mercifully short, the knowledge of war was one that would change his perspective. At home, it had been an easy fight to distinguish- to combat terrorists aiming to bring down a city, regardless of how many innocents died in the crossfire. But here, on the plains of Wutai, came a much different battle. One of moral ambiguity and endless horror. Prepared by his time in Junon and Wutai, Gabriel sent forwards a request to be returned to Midgar and complete his training, to face his final evaluation with John Newton.
But before they could even set foot back in the city, disaster struck. Their convoy found itself ambushed by retreating members of the Crescent Unit- Pulling out from the city to join the fight at home, they had stumbled upon the convoy and incorrectly assumed two SOLDIER Thirds aboard. Shamed by their own withdrawal perhaps, these foreign warriors took immediately to the assault, the vast numbers bringing down the two SOLDIER Recruits and pre-emptively celebrating another well-earned victory over the SOLDIER. But when the Wutai looked into the eyes of their fallen enemies and saw no glow of mako, they became enraged by a perceived deception.
Unsure on whether to execute their fallen enemies, it was decided for the sake of pragmatism that these two could prove useful in providing information on the SOLDIER Division – and also that they could be used as effective bargaining chips should the Crescent Unit require it as they left the continent. Captured, beaten, and shamed, The Recruits were carried separately to the homeland, upon which they were sent to different POW camps in the uncontested regions of Wutai.
In the hands of Wutai
Gabriel was sent to Camp Akuma. There, he was tortured and beaten, first simply to break him and then to coerce information from the wounded warrior. He had fallen, he had lost his opportunities at life and liberty. He had failed his duties as a SOLDIER and allowed himself to become a prisoner, a bargaining chip to be used against his former division. The only thing remaining to Gabriel was his pride- his means of resisting telling anything particularly dangerous or useful to his jailers. It was a resistance that would cost him dearly.
It was unknown, however, exactly how much regarding the mythical SOLDIER treatment the Recruits were made privy to. Drugged with various psychoactive compounds and even Makorin, his jailers attempted to induce a fugue state to reveal precisely what the Recruit knew. The ordeal, however, practically broke his mind. Reality became but a blur, the waking hell his time passed in seeming almost dreamlike and surreal.
The interrogation proving unsuccessful, Gabriel was left to simply dream and exist, his execution set for a later date. And back home? The Company did not mourn the loss of two Recruits – unaware or apathetic to their circumstances, the Company labelled Gabriel as a deserter.
Gabriel was unsure of exactly how much time he spent in the purgatory of Camp Akuma- how long he lingered like a shadow, a man already dead. Broken physically and mentally by the ordeals that had befallen him, sent into a destructive mental spiral by the drugs that left him with haunting hallucinations day and night, he flittered through each day like it was a fever dream, forced to revisit the mournful reminders of his failures. He was but a ghost.
And yet, whispers began to filter in through his shattered consciousness, glances and nervousness he sensed amongst his captors. ShinRa's war machine was marching onwards, their neighbouring provinces falling one by one to the steady, ruthless might of the Company. And then one day? The chatterings in the camp and the grim excitement in the air became too much to bear. The Wutai forces returned to Camp Akuma with a small group of prisoners taken in a recent battle. And amongst them was a SOLDIER First Class.
Moralized, excited, and stunned by this victory they had caught over the Shinra; the Wutai in the camp planned themselves a celebratory feast, awaiting the visitation of the Crescents to confirm their prestigious victory. But the Crescents would never arrive on time, and the feast would never come to pass. Barely twelve hours after the battle had closed, two black choppers were sighted in the vicinity in the dead of night. And then, before a search or defence could be organized, mysterious individuals bearing an archaic SOLDIER symbol made their way into the camp, utterly slaughtering anyone and anything that came in their way. The camp's overseers were split apart. The guard-beasts cut down without a second thought. Such a bold strike into their heartland brought the remaining troops into a frenzy- splitting and retreating and being cut apart ruthlessly by those strange and powerful SOLDIER operatives. Despite the pleading from the terrified captives, these warriors were single-minded in their objective. Stealing the wounded First Class away, they vanished as quickly as they came and left behind a ruination.
By the time dawn had broken, the miresome camp was a shambles. The dead lay with the dying, the yard filled with mud and blood and viscera alike. Stepping out blinking into the sun, the unharmed captives and occupants of the camp walked blindly to this apparent freedom laid out before them. Some fled the camp immediately, wandering off wildly into the depths of the jungle- even death of starvation a better solution than staying in this hell. But for those that remained behind? Two hours after dawn, after Lost Force and their operation destroyed the camp? SOLDIER Operatives were called in to mop up any remaining resistance and secure the rescue of those still alive at the camp. Gabriel was amongst them – stunned by this apparent freedom, and utterly crushed by the sudden weight of his failure. He was returned to Junon for his rehabilitation- a long, arduous process of recovery.
From the Precipice
Gabriel's treatment in Junon once more put him forcibly back in touch with his family, the wounded warrior undergoing an extensive period of treatment and rehabilitation as he was treated for the various damages on his body and his mind. It was understood that the psychoactive compounds that had been used against him, specifically the makorin, would take some time to fully flush from his system- and so Gabriel underwent a long and feverish detoxification. Feverish, his dreams became more vivid, his nightmares following him home from the frontline. But as he recovered, a far more vivid emotion haunted his waking moments, an uncomfortable weight that had settled in his heart, that made him hang his head and wonder his own worth. It was the weight of shame. The guilt of failure. The realization that his own weakness had lead to this bitter fate. That he had fallen so far after his goals and allowed himself to become so horrifically victimized was enough to put the man into a state of deep depression.
Physically, the man's recovery was fairly quick- fractured bones healed, malnutrition attended, lacerations stitched and tidied. But mentally the track was far longer- a factor that was quickly understood by the shrewd and ruthless ShinRa executive who came to the clinic to determine Gabriel's worth. His name was Garret Light. Interviewing Gabriel rather candidly on the circumstances surrounding the capture- and voicing his own suspicions that Gabriel may have set up the 'ambush' to defect to Wutai, he was quickly shouted down by the traumatized warrior. Gabriel's need for rehabilitation and a longer period of therapy was enough for Garret Light to determine the Recruit unfit for further duty, spening just two hours at the clinic before coming to his decision. Following Light's report of the incident and his injuries, Gabriel was officially discharged from the SOLDIER Recruitment Program, and out of the ShinRa Army.
Released from the clinic and allowed to return home, Gabriel wandered in isolated depression- his first and only reaction to confrontation with such dire circumstances to shut himself off from his world entirely, and to bury what remained of his past beneath layers of his mind. But his nightmares remained, his waking moments interjected with flashes of reality that struck him like a whip. No matter what he did, he could not hide from himself. He couldn't turn away from the guilt and shame eating away at him inside. And so, Gabriel went to the Junon cannon, staring out into the horizon and to the waves below that could consume him whole if he so wished. There, he closed his eyes, and remained deep in thought for what felt like hours.
He meditated on his failure, on the prospects of his future. And though it was easy to find Wutai the villain in his tale, and make a monster out of them for what they had done? He could not make the vector of his future into anything as trivial or short-term as 'revenge'. His torment had taught him much, his face-to-face confrontation with the extremes of war a harsh reminder of the world that still turned regardless of his existance. Gabriel confronted this truth. And he confronted himself, turning his attentions inwards, facing this darkness that ate away at his soul and made every thought and emotion sluggish. And within those shadows came something deeper even than shame, a drive that seemed to set his blood alight and remind him of why his survival was important. The desire to surpass himself. The obsession with self-improvement, to conquer a tainted legacy and emerge a stronger man, a better man. Gabriel found himself wishing nothing more than to distance himself from the weakness that had lead him to this low point in his life- to go back and force himself to face the life he had left behind, the constant reminder of his failures, and leave his past career in the shadows. It no longer became merely about changing the Company from the inside. His goals, whilst remaining lofty, now found themselves a far more powerful, more selfish objective – to leave his former self in obscurity, and emerge as a new man.
When Gabriel returned, shaking, from his epiphany atop the tower, it wasn't fear he saw in the corners of his vision anymore. It wasn't weakness or sorrow that haunted him. By focusing himself so purely, by giving himself such a tremendous goal to follow, he knew he had the strength to pull through his trauma and PTSD. Because that was what killed his old self, and he emerged now from the sunrise as a new person. It took him barely a day's preperation, a sleepless night of energy rather than terror to pack and think and plan his routes. Confronting his family, who had maintained something of a cautious distance, he announced his intentions with the clearest and most confident expression they had seen from him. To return where he had left off in the Paramilitary. To better himself, to regain his purpose. To change himself, and in the process, change the world.
Leon, infuriated his son would put himself into the line of fire -again- after such a reckless brush with death, could not abide this course of action. From his perspective, Gabriel would be opening himself to further ridicule, to face a shameful dismissal from the Paramilitary when his demons returned to haunt him. To retread the paths of shame that his namesake had. Tainted by his peers in the Junon elite and adamant against his son's resolve, he made a simple and stern statement. That if Gabriel left for Midgar, he would do so without any further backing or support from his family. That he would no longer represent the family. That he would be cut off from his inheritance and denied the opportunity to come home again.
To Gabriel? It didn't matter. Leon's son had died in Wutai. Gabriel's former self was but a ghost, and lingering on a given purpose in Leon's political gambits gave him no joy to the future. His convictions were stronger even than the ties to his family. Whether Leon's words had been sincere or merely a frustrated gambit to desperately stop his son from being hurt again, Gabriel would never know. He left Junon the very next day, retracing the path he had taken all those years ago. The first steps on a second road, his fate once again drawing him purposefully to Midgar. No longer intimidated by the city, no longer fearful or even in awe. He knew simply that it was his place. And here, he would -carve- his future.
Disc 2: Dedication
[ μ ] – εуλ 2000
Returning to Midgar meant facing an irreperable fact- that he would once more have to begin his climb from the bottom, to start as a Cadet and have his previous military history relatively inconsequential in light of his dismissal. This burden, this daunting climb ahead of him, was one Gabriel could only look to with a certain pride. He had been given the opportunity to beat his own records, to decimate his original standards. And so, buying up a small one-bedroom apartment in the city with what remained of his pay, Gabriel once more signed up to join the Paramilitary.
The city seemed different to how he had left it, though he was uncertain if that was a change in Urban Planning's structures, or perhaps simply the filter he now saw the world through. The oppressive atmosphere was a stark contrast to the sunshine he had recalled in Junon, and this darkness only served to sour his mood and dull his heart. All around him, he saw familiar places and recognizable faces, but all seemed distant and disconnected, as though he was living another life. This persistent Dejá Vu and inability to properly recall the details of his previous time in the city lead Gabriel to confronting a grim fact- that his sickness had not quite entirely healed, and that his mind remained somewhat damaged.
Not wishing to allow these personal demons to haunt him further, Gabriel travelled to the continent of Mideel to seek specialist help in the recovery of his symptoms. As well as being prescribed specialist treatment, he was assigned a psychiatrist in Jayda Delorenz, who attended to him upon his return to the city. In a cruel and bitter twist of fate, it appeared it was Jayda who required the psychiatric care instead – Gabriel quickly and bitterly discovered her split personality disorder, her penchant for cruel manipulations, and the web of lies she had attempted to construct to ensnare Gabriel into a trap. Furious, sickened, and perhaps pitying the young woman's deep psychological damages, he resolved to face his issues alone and head on, the experience imparting to him a deep-seated distrust of those who would offer him such help.
Further disheartening came when, testing himself in combat for the first time in months, he found himself easy prey for a young Military Policeman named Ace Dawnbreaker, who bested him with relative ease in the middle of the VR. Facing his irrelevance in the paramilitary, Gabriel was suddenly confronted too with his physical decay – previously, he had been besting opponents far his superiors. Now? He had proven easy prey for what was, apparently, simply a young MP. This experience shocked him to his core, and gave him yet another reminder – that he had a long route to surpass his former self. Energized by his defeat, considerate now of the casuality in which he had won fights in the past, Gabriel began to study and train extensively; spending every free hour in the VR or the gym, honing himself, regaining his abilities.
Just as Gabriel found himself returning to the fold, another SOLDIER Recruitment reared its head- and just like the first time he had gone, Gabriel understood that with his recent arrival back to the Paramilitary and his sketchy history, he was an unlikely candidate for selection. Nevertheless, Gabriel endured the certain failure to get a feel for what SOLDIER's selection had become, who his rivals and competitors would be. Who were those who would decide his future, the SOLDIER responsible for selection? Realistic in his expectations, pragmatic in his attendance, Gabriel learned much of the changed face of the SOLDIER Division. If he was to do as he planned and surpass his former failures, one reality was inevitable. He would have to aspire towards SOLDIER once again, pass his former failures, and change the world.
Slowly but surely, the Military Policeman once again began to see his influence rising in the Paramilitary, quickly becoming well known for his professionalism, his frankness, and his growing martial prowess. Dealing constantly with the new wave of criminals and terrorists that Midgar now faced, he found himself facing figures from his past who had continued where he had fallen. And perhaps most upsettingly of all – the fate of his former comrade Leonardo Volk.
Following John and Gabriel's dismissal, Volk had successfully been entered into SOLDIER, a promising Third Class Operative who took a friendship to a harsh and unpleasant SOLDIER named Lucius Grant. Quickly forming a mentor-student bond with this brutish warrior, Volk had continued for a time ignored by his peers, gradually alienated from his Division to all but Grant. And Grant's recent S-Class treatment by the sinister Doctor Von Dehua had warped his already unpleasant mind entirely. Grant went Rogue from the company- and not long after, so did his protégé. Gabriel's initial Recruit batch had completely disgraced itself. And somewhere deep down, Gabriel could not help but see this warrior as a kindred spirit, as a dark reflection of his person. Volk had swayed, but perhaps if he had been offered kinship, could he have strayed from a path of destruction? These thoughts haunted Gabriel, the possibility of another failure a heavy weight upon his shoulders. And he became dangerously aware of Grant's merciless crusade against the Company that had wronged him during a tremendous battle in the slums – SOLDIER's entire forces levelled against the Rogue and his compatriots, the Aeronavy carpet bombing the scene to do all they could to bring Grant down. And though they were successful, Gabriel witnessed the state of the returning SOLDIER and could only grimace. What kind of new monster had ShinRa created? Though assisting in the evacuation, Gabriel did not catch sight of Volk on the battlefield. Their inevitable confrontation, it seemed, would have to wait for another day.
In the meantime, proceedings in the city had involved Gabriel with a strange and mysterious plot involving small, grey materia. Selected from a crowd of people by a stranger in a robe, Gabriel was gifted with the strange grey orb and told to await a fated day. Shortly after, he and others carrying this trinket felt compelled in the direction of a forest far from Midgar itself. It would be the first of such phenomenon across the year. Joining forces tenatively with both ShinRa and AVALANCHE alike, the Grey Materia party were tasked with expelling the corruption from a small, ancient forest- fighting the guardians within, and defeating a parasitic organism that had attatched itself to the grove's sentient guardian. Though they succeeded, at risk of death and dismemberment, the guardian's life force was sapped suddenly and cruelly by a mysterious, cackling individual. They had cured the corruption of the forest. But whatever that man had taken would likely have dire consequences. The materia in his possession began to change ever so slightly – shaped by the experiences within the forest. Though this event was over, Gabriel had his suspicions that the grey materia would respond again in future.
This brief experience of natural corruption found itself inevitably juxtaposed against the grim reality of internal darkness in the Company he had sworn himself to serve. Lucius Grant had escaped- somehow breaking free of his cell in the SSD Floor, awaiting execution. The President himself had become suspicious as to the nature of this 'escape', with suspicion now falling upon the department that had so far acted with total impunity. The Turks.
Tasking members of SOLDIER to perform an emergency arrest upon one section of the Turks, authorized by [Giovani], the section's overhead. SOLDIER themselves chose two dependable Military Police from the ranks to assist in the arrest - to travel upwards to the clandestine Turk floor and supervise the pacification of the potential leaks. It was Gabriel himself who was selected for this task, clasping the handcuffs around a woman who had, unbeknownst to him, faked her death to become a Turk under a new identity. Grimly watching as the potential defectors were marched off to whatever fate awaited them, Gabriel was dismissed without further comment. What he had seen, evidently, had been highly classified. But this suspicion of the inherent hypocrisy in the Turks would leave a lasting impression in his heart.
[ v ] – εуλ 0000
Halfway through the year came a historic event – a declaration that proved ShinRa's grip on history. With the Wutai War in its closing phases, the President announced a large-scale celebration in the middle of Midgar, imitated and acknowledged across the world. Attending the 'New Era' party with some of his peers, Gabriel found himself keenly aware of his own atrophied social ability- his usual relaxed demeanor around peers apparently forever changed by his experienced. Uncomfortable, quiet and distant, the young man mused quietly that though his experiences had not diminished his professional capacity, they had perhaps irreparably damaged his personal skills. Was this a consequence of his experiences in Wutai, or merely a side-effect of his obsession with self-improvement and his utter embodiment of his job eroding away anything else?
From atop the Archway in Sector 8's LOVELESS Square, the President announced the purposes of this festival. Two thousand years had passed since the last marking of the calender, and a new era dawned on human kind. An era empowered by technology and mako, and guarded by ShinRa's organization. And so, to thunderous applause, the year was re-christened [ v ] – εуλ 0000 , the first year to exist in two calendars at once. The opening of a new chapter on humanity, for good or ill.
Silently resolved to put ghosts of his past to rest, to forge on forwards and become better than he ever had before, he made note of the recent appearances of his long time influence Gale Trevise present in the city once more- wondering if his new revelations regarding Trevise's mindset, his experience, his 'necessary evil', would mean a difference in his resolve. It had been Trevise's 'poor example' that lead him to SOLDIER to begin with, after all. But he had since learned the reality of that day, the AVALANCHE attack on the Plate, and wondered if he would have done different in Gale's shoes. Even without this figurehead to his ambitions of change, this demon to conquer personified in Gale? He knew his goals remained the same. SOLDIER had granted Gale the power to change the world. To have his every action have ripples throughout history. It was a purpose and meaning that meant far more to him than any petty stabs at proving the man 'wrong'.
This resolve found itself tested. After rounding up an escaped experiment on the Upper Plate, Gabriel and a few others, including Kouhei Iwate, were tasked with a special operations mission. Choosing to send members of the Public Safety Department instead of the conscientious objectors to DeHua's twisted means, SOLDIER, DeHua tasked Gabriel with assembling a small strike team to escort his combat experiment to the depths of the wasteland. There, not expecting the grim fate laid out for them, was Grant and his party of Marauders.
Having witnessed the horrifying shape and capability of this inhuman monstrosity first-hand, the task laid ahead of him filled him with a deep sickness. Grant was a monster, to be sure. But this 'victory' laid out seemed dishonorable, anticlimactic. Cruel. Nevertheless, Gabriel marched on to this wasteland with a squad of Military Police in tow- almost immediately coming into combat with a number of Marauders including Valdyn Faroe and James Malidus. Fighting was fierce, the Marauders refusing to go down to this execution squad without kicking and biting on their way down. And for some time, it seemed possible that Grant himself was on the ropes against this frightening creature. But when he finally dispatched it, when he put an end to this abomination of nature and science, Gabriel could not help in his heart but feel glad.
It was said that Grant's ability gave him a certain empathy, a strange ability to both read and imprint memories onto those he looked upon. Whether he did this to Gabriel or not, the MP couldn't be sure. But Grant seemed to sense the empathy in Lycanthyr's mind, understanding what it was to do your duty without hesitation even when that duty became something ugly and fierce. As the sides licked their wounds and came to an uneasy stalemate, and a withdrawal was issued through high command? Grant looked direct to Gabriel and read the resolve in his features. In a rare moment of humanity, he tasked Gabriel with a single thing. To restore integrity to SOLDIER.
Returning to the Headquarters battle-weary and confused, he ruminated on what he had seen and heard. Once more, appearances had been deceiving, the previously clear-cut objective of execution of a monster becoming now infinitely more complex. Troubled by Dehua's actions and callousness, Gabriel turned to Trevise- booking an appointment at his office to discuss with the General and Chief of Security exactly why he believed Dehua was of equal threat. The inhumanity of his experiments doubtlessly caused Gale some distant amusement, the insinuation that it was Dehua's machinations that drove Volk and Grant from the company met with indignation. Dehua's actions, after all, did not forgive Grant's. Or Volk's by association. Despite this, the two men came to a muted and insinuated agreement that Dehua was a serious problem, and that careful investigation would have to be taken to act upon their mutual suspicions.
Injustice reared its head from the increasing corruption of Alpha Company, too- though Gabriel adamantly resisted the more extreme principles of his colleagues who demanded a boycott of Alpha Company backup, patrols or services. Recognizing now better than ever the -value- in what Alpha Company had to offer the Paramilitary, the necessity of such a venomous snake to turn against their enemies, he nevertheless began investigations into the more blatant corruptions of the Company – forwarding them to the proper channels as he saw them. But his refusals to outright boycott the Company brought him a degree of scorn and hatred from his 'allies'. Spite was nothing new to Gabriel, nor was it something that would do much to injure him- reflexively responding in kind to this hostility, he found he had something of a tongue for the scathing, destructive responses. Despite these petty arguments, and despite the moral ambiguity of his work? Gabriel found himself symbolically reaching the position he had held so long ago. At both a position of relative prominence within the Paramilitary for one. And for his diligence, and continued activity in the line of duty, Gabriel found himself once more at the rank of Staff Sergeant.
And barely a month ahead, the SOLDIER Tryouts loomed.
Only two years had passed since he last stood as a Recruit, and yet he understood just how much had changed about SOLDIER's internal makeup, its policies, its very feeling. Suited up in the iconic SOLDIER Uniform, the young warrior was drilled and trained mercilessly, put through his paces by the DI Squad, tested by his peers in the rest of the Division. Quickly developing his reputation for seriousness and a remarkably dry and scathing sense of humor, the Recruit exhibited pride as well as humility, a willingness to learn and push himself further and further than he had ever dared before. For on the battlefield, the lack of Mako in his bloodstream mattered little to the monsters and rebels that he came across, each treating him as one would a full-fledged operative. Many were the days where Gabriel would wake up barely able to move, his limbs heavy with use, his body wracked with fatigue. His personal life, or what little of it remained, all but atrophied. All became secondary to his goals.
Steadily, Gabriel developed a strange friendship with Yelena Syratova, a woman who had ascended to Third Class just before his Recruitment. Despite taking a liking to the young woman, he witnessed oddities in her behaviour that began after the treatment itself. Faraway looks in her eyes, mood swings that bordered on the bipolar. Long looks into the distance that remarked back to PTSD. Warning signs that Gabriel did not yet know how to interpret, but found himself with a growing concern for the young woman. Before her treatment, she had been a bubbly and excitable young woman. But now she had become sullen and dejected, far-away and unstable. Gabriel had witnessed the aggression and physical lack of control that came with SOLDIER treatments in his history as a combat medic, but what he witnessed now was something far more disturbing.
He would never get his chance to understand what had happened to Lena. In the midst of his training a situation unfolded in Sector Zero in which Lena descended into a state of madness, whispering about the 'god' she had been talking to, the voice in her head that would not relent in its unending commands. Breaking from reality, becoming a danger to herself and others, Lena was killed in action during a fight with her fellow SOLDIER. And as Gabriel heard this news, stunned by the severity of Lena's fate, he found a single note in his locker. With her handwriting.
Don't let them do to you what they did to me.
Gabriel had come face to face with the price of failure- if his spirit was not ready, if his resolve broke at the final hurdle. Would he break as Lena had?
Gabriel was tasked with Recruitment alone, and so had nobody else to back him up, nobody to share his burden with, nobody to test himself against who was of an equal level. The young warrior was forced, quickly and suddenly, to adapt to the life of a superhuman. And yet, AVALANCHE began to become paradoxically cautious of this solitary Recruit. A slums patrol that had been ambushed by AVALANCHE forces required Gabriel's assistance to grant them safe passage home- passage that became hindered by the notorious Marauder, Valydn Faroe. Gleeful at the opportunity, Valdyn gave an ultimatum – that he would allow the patrol to return home, unhurt, providing Gabriel surrendered his sword and helmet. Symbols of SOLDIER, icons of the Division. A physical representation of the honor that Gabriel had been charged to defend. Refusing outright, he raised his sword in desperate combat, prepared to buy the patrol time to escape. Fully expecting himself to crumble under Valdyn's superior spellcasting, he emerged still standing on the other side of the man's furious magic, and cut his foe down. Stunned by his own achievement, Gabriel glanced around to find no others would meet Valdyn's challenge. The patrol was allowed to return home unscathed. And for his resistance? A bounty was placed on Gabriel's sword and helmet. A bounty that would find itself unclaimed for his entire career.
Gabriel developed a confident reverence of the Uniform- understanding its symbolic significance and imposing silhouette, he began to notice more and more would-be imitators that wore tokens of the uniform around like trophies. One of whom was Riki Barrett, a man who had once styled himself as a 'SOLDIER Hunter'. Initially refusing Gabriel's orders to remove the offending articles and return them to his possession, Gabriel explained in no uncertain terms the truth – that one had to -earn- the right to carry that badge of honor. And Riki had not. The 'civilian' pondered a moment, before suggesting a fight between the two that would settle whether or not Riki would 'square up'. Recognizing the ploy for what it was, and eagerly against allowing a spectacle to be made of the law, Gabriel walked away – stolen uniform parts safely secured.
And so it went for three months. Within the first month, Gabriel's official training sheet had been completely filled, his mandated records of performance achieved. With the first month devoted entirely to training, and the second to field experience, Gabriel was allowed to participate in missions- one such mission to a Titan facility leading him to successfully take down a young Behemoth. But it was in the waking of the third month, in the early days of October, that Gabriel was finally given his final test.
A VR Simulation had been custom-built, an imagined scenario that brought Gabriel face to face with the most relevant of subjects, the darkest recesses of his self-doubt. A re-creation with the single event that had hurt him the most and set him back on a path of despair. Gabriel was tasked with clearing out a Wutai POW camp and rescuing all those inside by any means necessary. Camp Akuma had been rebuilt from the ground up, and Gabriel found himself face to face with this surreal task. A chance to physically overcome -everything- that he had hated most about himself filled him with a strength that even SOLDIER could not teach. Dramatically confronting these shadows, he cleared his way bit by bit through the encampment, the artificial reality of the situation before him bringing him to almost believe it was real, to forget the manufactured nature of his scenario. Gabriel cut through the images of the guards who had tormented him. He scaled the walls that had loomed on him on all sides. And with careful, intelligent practice of practical and controlled trapping magic, he was able even to sink the monster the camp was named for into the ground, freeing the camp from tyranny.
Gabriel moved door-to-door throughout the encampment, battered and bruised and bloody from his ordeal. Those who could not walk to accompany him out were carried. And in the end, he was faced with one last hut he had not opened. Bracing himself for more signs of death and decay, of fear and pain, he was still taken aback by what he witnessed when he opened the door. A sight that froze his soul, that sobered his heart in a moment of symbolic understanding.
There, on the other side of the door, lay a dead man in a SOLDIER uniform. Bloodied, slumped over, his hair an unmistakable brown and white. It was like looking into a mirror, a photograph of his past. Trembling, lowering to the ground, Gabriel faced himself and looked into the dead face of his own corpse, quietly reaching forwards to close its eyes, muttering to himself a silent vow. What lay in the hut had been his past- a weakness he had carried like a sickness in his heart that had shadowed him throughout his career, stood behind him in his time through SOLDIER. It had been the kernel of doubt that still persisted in his heart. Now, finally, he could put that shadow to rest. He could bury the man he had been, and emerge as something new. Just like he always wanted.
Empowered by the realization of his self-improvement, reverent at the opportunity his beloved Division had offered him, Gabriel completed his assignment- passing the Final Evaluation with flying colors. And when he returned to his bunk, he slept better than he had in two whole years.
When he was called into the Briefing Room by Kanu Uncho, the woman had a grave expression on his face that brought narrowed scrutiny to the Recruit's eyes. Sadly, Kanu informed the man that he would not be ascending to SOLDIER Third, that they had decided to return him to the Paramilitary. Perhaps SOLDIER expected indignation or upset from the young warrior. But what came from Gabriel was instead disbelief. He knew he had passed the trials set for him. He had completed every obstacle they had placed in his way with stellar results. His loyalty had not strayed, his actions and motives had been nothing but serving to the Division. And so, as he rebuked Kanu's dismissal, he shook his head. And he knew that this, too, was one final test. A test to see how he responded to failure, or how he acted when faced with doubt. But all doubt had been eliminated from Gabriel's heart after the Final Evaluations. He stood now not with the will of a man, but the will of a SOLDIER. And Kanu, with a wry grin, confirmed his suspicions, confirming his ascension. On October 9th, Gabriel was promoted to SOLDIER Third Class.
Carving a Place
Gabriel was taken to the heart of the ShinRa Science Department, the 67th Floor of the Company Headquarters. Escorted by Carnelian Peridot and treated by Styx Kaijin, Gabriel faced the twin glass tubes ahead of him with a certain degree of apprehension. He had seen people emerge from this tube wrong. Jonah Harvey had descended into fits of rage and aggression. Lena Syratova had become convinced she had heard the voice of a god, and fell into the oblivion of madness. This glass coffin would either make or break him. But what he saw ahead of him primarily was rebirth. To both physically and spiritually leave his former self behind, and emerge a changed man, a better man- leaving the weakness of Camp Akuma behind forever, and achieving what he could not some years previous.
Possessed of an iron will and confidence that had been shaped on his meteoric rise through the ranks and the Recruitments themselves, Gabriel found the pain nevertheless excruciating - every cell in his body ripped apart and merged with the energy-giving Mako - and unbeknownst to him, a second and far more dangerous genetic addition. The walls he had built in his mind, the location within he retreated to when things became unbearable, found itself flooded in this transcendent agony. Until, finally, he staggered from the pod and emerged blinking from the solution that had suspended him. And when he looked into a mirror, he was greeted not by the familiar green hues of his eyes, but a blue-green glow that had stained his irises. He had emerged a SOLDIER, and found himself now possessed with near limitless energy and potential.
Feats that had previously felt arduous were now unthinkably simple to the newly christened superhuman- his veins alight with an energy he could not yet harness or burn. Slowoly he began to recover from those initial symptoms and dealt with his changed strength by carefully holding plastic cups filled with water, practicing day in and out. Proudly, he avoided the usual stereotype of breaking his COM device, and focused all efforts over the next few days to ensuring the safety of his body and mind. And as he tested his strength, as he began to understand the powers that had been gifted to him, Gabriel found a whole new emotion. Frustration. For no matter what he did, what challenges he came up against, he could only react with restlessness and irritation. His first hurdle had been overcome. What came next?
The answer came one day in the SOLDIER Floor, catching sight of the elusive Chief of Security, he confronted Gale Trevise, the man who had set him unwittingly down on this path so long ago. Gale's modus operandi, his ethics and complex levels of character intrigued Gabriel fully - as did the General's lingering hold over the future of the SOLDIER division that seemed to transcend a single individual. Sephiroth was out of reach, mythical in his presence. Lionheart offered a stubborn wall of terse communication. But in Trevise he saw something else- the opportunity to come to understand a man who defied understanding. And in doing so, perhaps understand the road ahead of him.
Their meeting was brief and candid, the esteemed General initially having little time for the inquisitions of the young SOLDIER. But much had changed since that day in Sector Eight, and through showing his understanding of his station and situation, Gabriel came to bring a begrudging acceptance out from the black-clad SOLDIER. Having keenly become aware of the dangers of a plateaued existence, having come to revile the 'standards' he found some of his apparent 'betters' keeping, and in refusing a path of mediocrity or one of naive ambitions, Gabriel was able to communicate his mindset efficiently enough to catch the man's attention. Gale had read Gabriel's letters in the past, had overheard the intentions of the ambitious warrior who wished to understand the past to change the future. And offering the man his card, agreed to providing training to SOLDIER's newest Third- in both martial and tactical understandings, he would find a point in his busy schedule to impart what Gabriel desired. And for the moment, Gabriel could look ahead - to the new generation rearing its head, and to the future he felt destined to carve.
He began slow and steady, his patience following him into SOLDIER Third Class as he took to the field once more, fully recovered and eager to prove his competence, trustworthiness and expertise on the field. Largely operating as a solo operative as he had as a Recruit, he nevertheless began to develop a respect and friendship with both Cheryl Cardas and Gustav Kraft, who seemed to share some degree of his cynicism and responded to his thoughtfulness. Gabriel trained relentlessly, accepting any and all encounters that came his way and proving himself a formidable opponent on the battlefield despite his short service. And it was whilst training beneath the plate, in the walkways and tunnels that formed a hidden network beneath the city and above the slums, that he overheard a conversation that chilled his blood.
The voices were unmistakeable- though he was hidden away beneath a walkway and was unable to see their faces, both voices he recalled from a time long ago. Leonardo Volk and Lucius Grant, the notorious Ex-SOLDIER who had drawn the ire of SOLDIER, brought Von Dehua's wrath upon them, and even brought suspicion onto the Turks. Whether they knew they had an eavesdropper was never clear, but remaining quiet and careful, knowing full well he could not take on these two titans alone, he overheard disturbing realities and uncomfortable truths. Both Volk and Grant candidly discussed their operations, their motives. Striking not specifically at SOLDIER, but at VonDehua. For what reasons had these operatives turned? Gabriel could not help but wonder once more as to the reality of his enemies' resolve, to their motivations and modes of practice. Was he, like he had so many years before, judging something terrible without seeing the purpose behind it? And even if he was, could he do anything about it? The oath he had pledged upon his ascension into SOLDIER transcended even compassion. It could not be broken. And the reality of his loyalty was a grim one. Inevitably he knew that his path would cross with that of these enemies of the SOLDIER Division. And it would be kill or be killed.
Gabriel eagerly leaped into the preparations for the upcoming tryouts, constructing the mission phase himself and overseeing the Tryouts with apparent interest. Though he had little interest in becoming a Drill Instructor, the prospect of directly influencing the next generation of SOLDIER was a particularly interesting one. One day, he hoped to have a lasting impact on the Unit as a whole. But for now, small steps would have to be taken. Eventually, after a long battle in a simulated wasteland, combat against an enemy they were designed to lose against, Gabriel assisted in the selections of these new three Recruits. Baylian Ashheart, a Military Policeman he had come to trust and respect. Kain Avelos, a man who came with respectable recommendations and the support of SOLDIER:2nd Constance Marren. And Worslei Storm, who had been suggested forwards by Carnelian Peridot and Sean Lyon.
Gabriel found the role he suited most in the initiation of these first three of the next generation was that of an adviser, providing thought exercises and guidance rather than direct martial training the majority of the time. Allowing Constance and her DI team to do their work, he lead these Recruits into battle - almost envious of the camaraderie they shared in comparison to the isolation he had felt. But in this time, he came repeatedly into conflict with Hikaru Arcand and Valdyn Faroe, repeated skirmishes and battles both solidifying his reputation within SOLDIER, and etching his name into AVALANCHE's hearts. Whatever limits remained to the SOLDIER Third Class, he was determined to break them. Bit by bit. But something was missing. His style of fighting found itself without a focus, and he still felt that restlessness that had haunted him fresh from his treatment.
Heading into the Underplate to spar with Cheryl Cardas and Matrix Hendrix, he found his arrogance tested, his limits once more established. The battle he knew had been building had reached him. The fated encounter with Volk and Grant that would serve as the cornerstone to the early phases of his life as a SOLDIER.
With the Wutai War finally reaching its endgame, it fell to the remaining SOLDIER in Midgar to maintain operational standards, improving themselves via training and continual field work that was designed to brace them for the inevitable shift from wartime tactics and deployment to the steadier assignments expected of an age of peace. Trainings and exercises were encouraged and permitted outside of the Virtual Reality space, and so Gabriel ventured with Matrix and Cheryl to the cavernous chambers and narrow walkways of the underplate. There, he engaged in a long and arduous spar with Cheryl Cardas, testing himself against the more senior Third Class. Almost knocked free of his footing as the duel progressed, Gabriel allowed himself a momentary break from self-control, the thrill of this direct challenge directly allowing him to peel back from his stoicism and tap into what bubbled beneath - the years of ferocity that had boiled within. Finding himself matching his senior blow-for-blow, he became enamored by this sensation, the compartmentalization of his feelings finally allowed to break through the surface in the midst of a duel, like a moment of awakening.
But revelations and even personal discoveries regarding the ability he possessed beneath the layers of control were quickly shelved as familiar boots set foot in the Underplate, emerging surprised to the Thirds on duty. A man Gabriel had not seen in years, only heard and heard of. His direct counterpart, his mirror image. Leonardo Volk had stumbled upon their training, and geared himself for combat.
Apparently being chased down by Sean Lyon and Constance Marren, Volk exhibited no direct desire to fight with the warriors- all of whom mobilized quickly and efficiently at the prospect of settling the score with their former comrade. But as Volk crossed the bridge, his company-loyal pursuers in tow, he joined backup gathering on the other side. Lucius Grant, Valdyn Faroe and many other members of AVALANCHE had gathered to ensure their comrade's escape. A standoff was developed. And combat became inevitable.
Drawn quickly into competition with several of the AVALANCHE members, Gabriel's eyes remained trained on the battles occurring around him- Grant and Volk orbiting each ongoing combat and evading the SOLDIER teaming up against them. But as, one by one, the rebels before him crumpled and fell, it was his turn to fall to the scrutiny of the two Rogues. It was Volk first who confronted his former ally, surprised that Gabriel had clawed himself out from the depths of Wutai to once more make his way to the SOLDIER Program. Cautious, and somewhat hesitant to directly engage Leonardo, Gabriel admitted the truth - that despite his efforts, he still had a long way to go to catch up.
Volk's command was simple. "Then catch up." And the two locked swords.
Even the earlier fight with Cheryl paled in comparison to these brief moments of combat with Volk, Gabriel's cautious maneuvers and accomplished abilities at first allowing him to hold his own against Volk's unrelenting force. Witnessing the Dark Knight's abilities for himself, seeing more than ever the mirror Volk represented as he fought without hesitation or pause. The two warriors fought fiercely, ideological opposites meeting on the field of battle in a glorious spectacle. Until, over Volk's shoulder, Gabriel locked eyes with Lucius Grant - who extended his hand and cast upon him the powers of Darkness.
The SOLDIER writhed in a moment of agony, his soul alight with Grant's cast ability. And it was all the pause that Volk needed. Raising his weapon, Volk focused all of his energy into an incredible attack, the Volksjager outright cutting through his sword raised in defense, glancing past his jaw and cutting deep into his torso. It was a maneuver that nearly bisected Gabriel entirely, the SOLDIER overwhelmed by the double strike of Grant and Volk. He blacked out, and in those moments of pain and defeat, he reflected. On the magnitude of the abilities he had come up against. Grant and Volk's purpose gave them a power Gabriel could not possess with loyalty and obedience alone. It was what came from ultimate belief in your case, what came from self-sacrifice and the fight for survival. Though the encounter was one he was left defeated in, as he recovered in the Sector 8 hospital Gabriel could not help but realize what a revelation the day's battles had been. Understanding what he had to fight, he knew better than ever what he had to become. There were pieces of his past that were not yet buried - the last great failure he had left unattended. Leonardo Volk, a man who should have been his brother, had become his most dangerous of rivals.
[ v ] – εуλ 0001
The battle in the Underplate had done two things- SOLDIER no longer assumed its own invincibility, and the AVALANCHE sub-group the Marauders had rose to infamy for their victories and actions. Apparently spurned on by this recent victory, they targeted a member of Aeronavy Command and successfully kidnapped her, aiming to hold the woman for ransom and interrogation. Shortly afterwards, a SOLDIER Operative by the name of Jonah Harvey also went missing in the Underplate, with the incidents suspected to have some form of connection.
Along with Baylian Ashheart and Kain Avelos, Gabriel headed down to the Underplate to search for clues as to the officer's disappearance, keenly aware of recent AVALANCHE activities in the lower plate, and intent to avoid their fellow SOLDIER's execution. But their pride lead them straight into the heart of a cunning trap - in an environment they barely knew, they stumbled upon a carefully planned ambush involving tripwires and stun grenades. Though they fought as valiantly as they could, the three SOLDIER were overwhelmed by the Marauders and their traps, gunmanship and ruthlessness.
Awakening behind a mesh cell, Gabriel's fears were confirmed. As well as himself and the two Recruits, the Marauders had successfully captured Katrice von Richten and Jonah Harvey. Though Gabriel would never know it until later, the circumstances surrounding Jonah's 'capture' were far less straightforwards than he believed. Nevertheless, the SOLDIER refused to see himself caged again and became violently resistant- the Marauders putting a bullet in his thigh for his troubles that nearly lead to him bleeding out. Contacting SOLDIER command through their captured COMs, they proposed negotiation - only for the entire affair to be disgustingly mismanaged by Sean Lyon who almost caused the death of the captives. When further reinforcements began swarming the underplate, however- the Marauders sealed their captives in and made off for hiding.
Furious, shamed and in considerable pain from his loss of blood, Gabriel's emotional spark triggered the Darkness materia he had been fostering, inhuman strength leading him to tear down the walls to their 'cage' and escape, delirious, into the sewers. The magnitude of SOLDIER's failures had lead to the attention of the Chief of Security, judging current leadership in Kanu Uncho and Varen Lionheart to be unfit, and the actions of Sean Lyon particularly damning. Gale Trevise himself stepped in to address the situation and the falling standards in SOLDIER. His first target was righting the wrongs, was addressing the failure in the Underplate. Gale gathered those involved, including all of the Recruits, and tasked them with a simple goal. To re-live the events of their ambush in a VR situation and win. Whoever performed poorest would be excused - either from their Recruitments, or SOLDIER itself.
Assigned to a team with Worslei Storm and Kain Avelos, Gabriel's team was to infiltrate to counter-ambush whilst Harvey and Baylian drew their attention as noisily as possible. Gabriel attempted to give leadership responsibilities to the two Recruits before bickering and the particularly disagreeable ideas of Storm himself- including throwing his shoe at a tripwire to detonate the device, thus ruining their entire plan. Stepping in himself, Gabriel re-calculated their approach and made suggestions of his own, using his tactical understanding to coordinate their movements. Despite this, the squad managed to make it into the small room, join with Ashheart's squad, and cut through a vast number of the 'rebels' in the VR. But once again, their numbers were too great. In the end, it came close- but their performance was judged suitable by Trevise. Addressing the gathered SOLDIER afterwards, they were congratulated on confronting their failures in such a poetic fashion. Gale awarded Gabriel a pardon for his earlier failure - and with it, a great honor he would bear with pride. Granted the official title of SOLDIER Tactician, Gabriel could only watch with grim agreement as Worslei Storm became the first of the Recruits to be sent back to the Paramilitary.
Under Gale's leadership, Gabriel watched as SOLDIER briefly became seized by a new inspiration to build further standards, and used the opportunity to begin to exert some influence of his own despite his relatively new appearance into the Division. Comfortable with his Unit regardless, Gabriel allowed his reputation and actions to speak on his behalf, steadily building himself a positive working relationship with several of his peers who seemed to share his attitudes to the job - including Cheryl Cardas and Gustav Kraft. Eager to throw himself headfirst into the life of a SOLDIER and forge an example for the new generation of Recruits, Gabriel began to participate in further missions and challenges, each new assignment beginning to test the young superhuman and reveal to him exactly where his current limits lay. But it was not on assignment that he found his first real 'defeat', but on the streets of Midgar.
AVALANCHE had, typically, spent the recent weeks with a lean towards anti-SOLDIER activities. In particular, two AVALANCHE operatives named Nim and Nyx began to target the superhuman force exclusively, modelling their fatigues on some dark reflection of SOLDIER and going out of their way to assault the Recruits, providing an opposition that was not so easily pushed aside. Nicknamed 'Crows' by their enemies in SOLDIER for their apparent 'imitation' of the infamous Ravens, they were symptomatic of a renewed vigor within AVALANCHE, and Gabriel found himself determined to cut this at the source. Time and time again he found himself thrown into combat with AVALANCHE's elite troops- and in each instance, he found himself either a victor or a relatively unscathed participant in battles that reminded him of the true purpose of SOLDIER - combat. Empowered by his victories, Gabriel's talents brought about a foray into untested arrogance. And it was only when in pursuit of Nikuro Rikan that the caster threw back something he could not have expected. Though he dominated Rikan physically, Nikuro had played to his weaknesses and almost haphazardly cast backwards a familiar, destructive spell. Ultima washed over him and knocked the breath from his lungs, this ancient and powerful spell causing him to miss a jump and plummet to the street below. Though he had fought incredible odds and emerged a victor, it had been this simple act of raw -power- that reminded him of how far he was yet to climb. Invincibility to such tricks would come, he assured himself.
As he came to witness the power he held as a Third, his mind could not help but be drawn forwards to his future in the Division. Without second thought, he knew his goals were set at the very top - and the first step to those goals was the achievement of the Veteran distinction early into the new year. But as there were positives, so too did he see the flaws in the system. Baylian Ashheart, his confidante and ally in the Recruits, had departed from his position willingly to aid the stalling Paramilitary. In the light of such selflessness, Gabriel could not help but reflect on his selfish, meteoric rise with some bitterness. Sobered by his realization, Gabriel witnessed the new SOLDIER Recruitment with a different viewpoint than before. Rather than direct tutelage, Gabriel opted instead to begin to challenge the minds of the Units new charges, careful to stress thought exercises and critical thinking first and foremost, as well as a deepening understand of what 'made' a SOLDIER. Deeply involved and interested in the philosophies of SOLDIER and its own personal history, he looked to the past to better the future. But as his standards and philosophies evolved, he found himself increasingly at odds with his peers - in particular Carnelian Peridot. Isolated and sternly focused on his own future, Gabriel withdrew steadily but surely, assuming more and more of the grim countenance he would later be well known for. Thoughtful, private and intense, he backed up his convictions with his record in missions, his acceptance of the most grim of truths, and his continual drive for self-challenge. For all he had been alienated by his pride, competence and high standards, he had been able to take solace in the steady success of his career. And though the road ahead was long? He was content, for the time being, to wait- and gave little thought to anything outside of his job or his role. But for how long could he play this part? Methodically and ruthlessly in pursuit of his goals, he gave himself little time for friendships that had not been forged in battle. And fewer still time for pleasures like love.
Strings of Fate
The young SOLDIER was rapidly entering into the ranks of notoriety and esteem amongst his enemies and allies alike - his repeated successes in the bloody conflicts with insurgents steadily drawing the attention of disgruntled rebels. Perhaps they were aware of the 'example' Gabriel was intending to set, for they set out to make an example of their own. After a particularly vicious encounter with the notorious rebel Blackout in the slums after the rebel had challenged him following a monster hunt, Gabriel found himself the subject of a rather sizable bounty. Any that claimed the SOLDIER's helmet and sword would earn themselves prestige in AVALANCHE. But to surrender symbols of SOLDIER, in the eyes of the young warrior, was unthinkable. Deeply invested into the philosophy of SOLDIER he had built and nurtured, he refused to allow any rebel to claim this reward- no matter how hard they tried. But such direct opposition only encouraged the SOLDIER's drive for self improvement. His career as a Third had been extremely successful. But his continued success had made him disquieted by the lack of recognition by his superiors.
It had felt to the young warrior that promotions and recognition had been stalled in the wake of Genesis' defection, and the myriad of developing issues within the Unit itself as jealousy and ambition mixed into a deadly cocktail- many operatives striving for the same goal, and all likely to become offended by the others advancement. In Gabriel's case, this frustration manifested itself in increasing displays of brutality and vengeance against the criminals and rebels of the city- irked that his betters in positions of authority and prestige -over- him seemed content to allow transgressions to reoccur, he sought to make a statement for himself. That though the past generations of SOLDIER had tread a line of mercy and even familiarity, Gabriel would not allow such base emotions to cloud him from his duty. This growing fury reached a head during a social event in Sector 8 - a single AVALANCHE rebel opted, in an act of extreme belligerence, to attend in their rebel uniform. Despite the rebel's protests that it was merely a 'costume', they met the unrestrained wrath of the SOLDIER who saw such a spit in the face of the city as unforgivable - and an indicator of ShinRa's recent weakness with dealing with the rebels. Beating the rebel to a pulp with Friedrich Eisenherz, publically, he came into direct opposition with Carnelian Peridot and her First Class lover Sean Lyon, who decryed the act as a PR nightmare and scolded him for his brutality. Increasingly frustrated with his superiors, Gabriel turned to the relatively reticient First Class Varen Lionheart, having heard the man's complaints of similar issues during his career. Typically, he was met with scorn and scathing remarks - the First Class dismissing his concerns and any promise of similarities or resolution. Disheartened, and wondering if that, just like Trevise, Lionheart had further depths to his apparent unpleasant exterior, he could not help but muse on what his 'advice' had meant. But it was a new perspective that Gabriel sought, an opportunity to temporarily leave behind the complexities of Midgar and the increasing follies of his commander. Hearing news of staff shortages and training issues in Junon, Gabriel sought opportunity in his hometown. And so, as summer dawned, he accepted a placement in Junon for training and protection of the city. A trip that brought to him opportunities he would have never expected.
The end of the Wutai war had left the troops of Junon in relative disarray - and the effective dismantlement of AVALANCHE activities within the city itself had lead the military into a false sense of security. Crime became vicious, but relatively infrequent - and the steady and troublesome withdrawal and re-shuffling of former Wutai War veterans left the military without distinctive leaders or cohesion. He had not found the challenge in Junon he so desired , nor had he found the competence and camaraderie he had envisioned. Relatively alone in his endevours as a SOLDIER, he came to represent the Division as best he could as one of Junon's sole responding SOLDIER Operatives. As well as thwarting a would-be attack from resurgent guerilla forces on the airport and fighting overwhelming odds alone, he also saved the life of the Vice President's party as they were ambushed atop Junon's top level. It was there that he had saved the life of an enigmatic young woman with white hair, a feline-hybrid who clearly stood out from the rest as one of ShinRa's many experiments. But Jade's inhuman nature was far from unappealing to the young SOLDIER - and a chance encounter on the Junon gondola-elevators sparked a strange interest in the young man. Behind Jade's careful and polite words was an inner sadness and a myriad of emotions brewing beneath the surface that she was powerless to speak. In many ways, he began to see the interest in this one figure he felt kinship with in a city that had, so far, only sought to isolate him further.
As though some cruel fate had a hand in their blossoming interest, they discovered they shared a living accommodation - and a few careful meetings brought each out of their shell as they dared to open up as they never had before. Two closed-off souls finding some kinship and familiarity, despite their mutual indentured servitude to a callous and dangerous company. Just as Gabriel was tied to SOLDIER, Jade was indentured to Rufus Shinra's service. And yet, despite these dangers and the increasingly perilous nature of their meetings, mutual interest developed into blossoming romance, their inner feelings seemingly reflected by the furious storms that struck Junon, as though the Planet itself witnessed the maelstrom of their feelings.
Despite their steadily building affection for one another, despite the solace they took in one another's company, and the steadily growing bond that formed between them - their secrecy would, inevitably, catch up to them. It wasn't clear if Rufus had discovered his Secretary's daring liason with a SOLDIER, or if the Turks had perhaps made note of the developments. But one day, Gabriel's deployment into Junon found itself mysteriously and enigmatically cut short - his time in the city ended by the whims of the boy-president of the Company. Under the excuse of reshuffles and retraining, Rufus had Gabriel re-dispatched to Midgar in a single day, and the friendships and relationships that the SOLDIER had finally begun to let into his life came shattering to a heartbreaking, devastating close. Unable to do anything but watch as he was forced to leave the room, potentially seeing his love for the last time, he was seized again by a crippling despair and a reminder that love for someone like him was an illusion - a luxury he could never afford. Unable to communicate with Jade without drawing the attention of the Turks or putting the feline experiment in danger for her daring fraternization, Gabriel devoted himself single-mindedly to work. To try and forget all he had learned, all he had felt, and the agonizing ache in his heart as he returned, bitterly, to Midgar.
His resolve had been catapulted into confusion, and the young SOLDIER found his heart filled with hurt and strife, his bitterness once more feeding into the grim mask that he wore on a daily basis, adopting the helmet more and more as a means of isolating himself from the world that hurt him. Perhaps more sympathetic to the path of traitors and rogues than he was beforehand, it was inevitable that his next major encounter with Leonardo Volk would be starkly different to his first. Though Gabriel still wore the brutal scars from his last encounter, he met Volk now with a begrudging respect. Though there was clearly unresolved business between the two rivals, it was apparent that their personal business was secondary to the events that continued to affect the Planet from behind the scenes. Gabriel's opportunity to prove he had 'caught up' slipped away as the two men shared information on the actions of the Genesis Army, a group that Volk was pursuing dogmatically out of some extreme sense of justice. That Volk had involved himself so readily in a matter that barely concerned his thirst for revenge against ShinRa struck Gabriel as odd, allowing for a moment the thought that perhaps Volk's methods and motivations were more complex than he believed. Agreeing to a momentary, wary truce - the two men delved into the Underplate to discover one of the G-Army's numerous cache's beneath the city. As they completed their objective, he reminded Volk of their places in life, of the inevitable confrontation. Agreeing to do what they both had a duty to do, they parted their ways in an insincere 'chase', as Gabriel ruminated on the darkness within his own Company. He had never been blind to ShinRa's evils, but saw them as a means to an end. But Jade had been subject to their darkest and cruelest manipulations. And Volk had felt just as he had - disillusioned by his superiors in the face of an enemy like Dehua, and taking a path of extremity to accomplish what he felt he had a duty to do. Though he would never join the rebels, Gabriel found his loyalty strained, and his heart uneasy.
Tension built in his heart, and paradoxically this anguish seemed to empower him. Boldened and calloused by his lack of care for the world, his vocal disparagement of SOLDIER 2nd Class Miyamoto Kaizen over the COM unit reached a head when the man challenged Gabriel to a duel, to back up his convictions and to 'punish' the Third for his scathing remarks. But Gabriel was far more eager for this chance to unleash his rage against an ally than he had anticipated, and he gladly accepted Kaizen's offer. It was his rage that empowered the fledgling Dark Knight, and his anguish that shielded him from even the fiercest blows. Distasteful to this display of pointless combat, Cheryl Cardas turned to the other watching SOLDIER - that whoever won in this bout would have to face a combined force of all of the onlookers. And so, when Kaizen finally fell and relented, Gabriel turned to find himself beset on all sides by his allies, aiming to put down his streak of pride in a stacked battle.
But Gabriel fought like a monster, his heart embracing this sudden anguish and empowering it against his attackers. He moved with precise fury, he struck with impossible force. And when the smoke had cleared and the carnage had passed, the shocking truth emerged. That even such overwhelming odds from his own allies could not put down the fire that had been lit in Gabriel's heart- he stood victorious, against all odds. He found himself seized by a quickening, a moment of realization and emotion as he felt -alive-, as he felt the thrill of combat seemingly fill the void that had been left in his soul. But his momentary introspection found itself cut short. The exhausted warrior was set upon by Varen Lionheart who launched into attack to stow Gabriel's pride, cracking a vicious punch at his jaw that shattered the bone. Though reeling from Lionheart's unprovoked attack and hateful that even his achievements had to be undermined at all times by his superiors, he became keenly aware he had reached a pedestal - a representation of his mastery of SOLDIER Third Class. Though his peers, even those who had become close to him, would become eager to knock him off this pedestal themselves in the love of a good-natured challenge, Gabriel kept his place. And his loyalty to his comrades far outweighed even his pride, taking the upcoming proceedings with a joviality. The rush of battle had given him an energy he had forgotten. And for the moment, he pushed even his greatest demons from his mind, turning instead for the desire to expand the Unit and improve himself further, to continue to strain himself to new heights of excellence.
Battle with Nim.
Disc 3: Will of a SOLDIER
[ v ] – εуλ 0001 - Late Months
The world had not stood still. And though Sector 8 had been Gabriel's focus of operations- all was about to change. The emergence of the Titans in Midgar seemed a prelude to a season of chaos and anarchy that gripped the Sector until, eventually, ShinRa sent in a wider and permanent guard battalion lead by the Turks. En-masse, staff posted to Sector 8 found their area of duty changing to the under-developed and seedy urban prefabrication of Sector 3. And Gabriel's SOLDIER were no different.
Sector 8 had always possessed a haunting, dark beauty - a charm that had lead it to become the 'heart' of Midgar tourism and entertainment. Sector 3 found itself almost in ugly contrast, and the recent upheavals to the Military structure met the already dejected SOLDIER Third Class with increasing ambivalence. For where ShinRa's battalion had lead, their enemies in the Midgar AVALANCHE cell had followed - seeking to undermine the weakened military structure in Sector 3 and gain a foothold in the upper plate.
SOLDIER met these renewed challenges and operational confusions gravely. Discussing tactical procedures and renewed focus, the 70th SOLDIER Regiment met in the tower to discuss their future within Sector 3, and their role in treading the line between military support and dedicated monster hunters. Several former Operatives had flocked to the sudden, 'progressive' military- and with that now came the potential for the SOLDIER Division to be flooded by irrelevance and operatives from the past who failed to align to the standards of the day. Gabriel made his voice well known in this, his near-elitism met with some skepticism by his peers. Discussion continued with Assistant Director Nicholas Nacht, who proposed a more formalized title of 'Class Leader' to unite each individual Class behind a common goal and example. But the names that Nacht had produced for Class Leader had been Friedrich Eisenherz and Jonah Harvey. Gabriel sat in muted disbelief, his months of irritation no longer willing to seethe behind the veil and instead pushing boldly to the surface. It was then that Nacht, with a rather superior grin, explained the meaning of his apparent faux par against the senior Third Class. His days as a Third were numbered. His achievements, despite his recent dejection, had been noted. And he was finally awarded the distinction of SOLDIER Second Class, a step in the direction of his ambitions.
But ambitions are costly, and as his mind was forced to the future, so too did he ruminate the past and the painful, winding road that had lead him to this milestone. And as he looked forwards, he saw only a road in shadow- stretching infinitely into the gloom of the horizon. Achievement would come, but at what cost?
His answer would come on the day of his 'treatment' - the 60th SOLDIER Regiment notably employing a 'tradition' of routine maintenance following Class Promotion. The intention was simple - to normalize the levels of Mako and J-Cells in the body to optimum levels, allowing for a 'tuned up' operative in time for their new rank. But this simple procedure would fall to pieces as previously unexpected circumstances emerged that would change the young SOLDIER's life forever.
It was only moments after he stepped into the familiar, clinical tube that the scientists realized the truth. Gabriel's 'levels' of mako and J Cell saturation were much lower than anticipated, requiring what was effectively a second 'mainline' treatment in order to bring him to optimal conditions. Whilst most SOLDIER only received a small dosage of the SOLDIER solution upon undergoing maintenance, Gabriel was subjected for the second time to the entirity of the treatment - and once more, he found himself washed away by pain and transcendent feeling- his mind finding only one means of escape from the endless agony as he plunged into the cosmic abyss, awakening in a hell of his mind's own making. Faced by a familiar enemy beyond normal reckoning, the spot in his mind that 'knew' this beast manifested itself as a dull red light, an unthinkable terror that lingered just outside of perception. And in his transcendent hallucinations he saw her - bleak, eldritch, infinite. The terror borne of the cosmos that had taken root within his mind and within his soul. And it was then that he came to the slow, horrifying revelation that this beast was a part of his power, a representation of the bargain he had undertaken when he traded his humanity for the power of a SOLDIER. And though he escaped this nightmare, and though he woke and fought his way from the mania that followed such a vivid understanding, the image would not leave him as quickly as the pain.
It was assumed at the time that this 'glitch' in his biology spawned from his increasing use of the Darkness materia, of his materia-borne 'self-harm' that seemed to be gradually eating away at his own life essence in return for the materia's destructive power. It was assumed his tenancies and combat style as a Dark Knight and its reliance on emotional and physical over taxation had developed an unusual side-effect. The levels of fused cells in his bloodstream had been dramatically diminished and thinned, and his superhuman regenerative properties called into question. Just how deeply did this ailment go, and how would it effect the SOLDIER's growing career?
But there were more immediate side-effects than merely his physical deterioration and degradation - the nightmares didn't cease, and he saw that infinite 'something' in the corners of his vision, in the shadows he passed in the street. Paranoia and waking terror gripped him at all times as he came to understand that the presence that was simultaneously within and outside of him was creeping in at the corners of his mind, drawing its sickly tendrils around his soul. The infinite form of Jenova had taken root in his mind, preying on his unease, taking sustenance on his rage and fears. Deeply distracted by his own creeping mania, paranoid at the seeming recognition of some of his First Class superiors as to the nature of his cruel suffering, Gabriel lingered in the shadows. If they knew the nature of his pain, the truth of his hallucinations, why would none of them share? Why would nobody entertain his understanding of what he was now facing - the same 'God' that had whispered to Lena and made her promises to Gale? His time spent adjusting to the role of a Second Class came with instability and resentment. The future looked dark, if he even rose to see it.
It was this emotional distance that lead him to a renewed lack of mercy or compassion to his opponents - even compared to his former operational standards, it seemed that both his new power and his own fear had emboldened him with a certain savagery. Whilst defending a medical convoy and becoming suspicious of the actions of a train guard, he raised the man by the neck until he obeyed his orders- watching himself from the outside tread the same paths he had seen others tread before. What was perhaps more frightening than the SOLDIER's growing lack of mercy was the effectiveness of his actions - in preventing an ambush on the medical convoy, and in fighting off AVALANCHE's Ravens and warriors in their raid with nothing but his determination and refusal to submit. Troubled with his own terrors, as much as the temptations of this wild and unrestrained power drew him he knew that his mental health came first and foremost. Reluctantly, Gabriel began to see a psychiatrist. Their first few sessions went without serious incident- before the two, after some drinks, began a brief and mutually dangerous affair that culminated in the woman's capture at the hands of the WLF, and later at the hands of the Red Mask. Distancing himself quickly as he came to recognize his own mental imbalances and the fruitless nature of this liason, Mika sought comfort into the arms of Friedrich Eisenherz before again gravitating towards her husband William Donahue. Gabriel could only watch with relative disgust as he realized that he was surrendering what he had always held closest - self-control.
For as much as he was troubled internally, on the outside it appeared as though little had changed for the SOLDIER's momentum or reputation. Gabriel continued to carve himself a place in infamy, his new Class bringing him against stronger opponents who had previously overwhelmed him in combat - but now found themselves likewise intimidated by the new Second's wild and unrestrained power. SOLDIER came and went around him, his peers slowly coming back into focus as he realized that figures from the past were once again making themselves known. In particular, the man he had come to know as a best friend during his time so long ago in Junon, when he was still a Recruit - and the subsequent tour of duty in the Wutai War. James Denton, a SOLDIER he had thought dead. But in reality, James had undergone a similar experience to him; capture at the hands of the enemy, and a long and troublesome period of confinement in a country locked in desperate war. The two had an opportunity to share common ground - and once again reunite, allowing the increasingly distant Gabriel an opportunity to connect to a man who had once been a brother. But even this brotherhood seemed destined to evaporate into dust, and James' motives were not as they initially seemed. Blinded by his desperation to re-connect, Gabriel was caught completely unawares when the nature of James' 'capture' in Wutai came to light. Whilst Gabriel had found only pain and humiliation in Wutai, James had found salvation. And his return to service was but a ruse - a means of gaining information for the disenfranchised forces of Wutai to seize and turn against ShinRa. James had defected to his most hated enemies - falling in love with his captor's country.
Gabriel was beset with hurt and rage and anguish, but discovered at least in this moment of sorrow. That it was his sense of justice that prevailed, his dormant SOLDIER honor that felt rekindled by this horrifying revelation. Gabriel was driven not by vengeance or hatred to track down his former friend, but his duty as a SOLDIER. And in that dark truth he found salvation from his fears - to prove to himself that his devotion to his duty could overcome even the darkest events. He made it his vow to bring his old friend to justice, and silence the doubts and fears in his heart forever as he affirmed himself, once and for all, a SOLDIER above all else.
It would only be a few days before he found both his incredible strength and his unwavering resolve found its opportunity to manifest in an event that solidly defined his progression, a battle that announced his threat to the world spectacularly. Following recent anti-AVALANCHE activities, the rebel group had all but declared martial law on the Slums, roving the streets in groups to overwhelm any foolhardy opposition who wandered into their 'territory'. One of the first to fall to their militant territorialism was John Newton, a SOLDIER Third - beaten and captured in the slums. It was the tip-off of an underground contact that alerted Gabriel to the ambush and its grizzly result, and the prospect of allowing a SOLDIER and his symbols to fall into enemy hands was all but unthinkable to the newly roused Second. Heading down to the Slums, it became clear to Gabriel how his comrade had fallen. AVALANCHE fielded a large force against a single operative, and despite his confident warnings they seemed poised to do the same to Gabriel. Renouncing his offers of mutual withdrawal, Gabriel found himself beset on all sides by a force greater than he had ever fought before. And he was alone, with nothing by his side but his sword and his awakened, unstoppable resolve.
The battle raged on, and the SOLDIER entered what felt like a transcendent state as he had so long ago against his fellow warriors in the VR. But now when his sword met flesh, the damage was real. He acted with superhuman ability, he fought with unbridled rage and passion, and his resolve was like armor. And when the dust cleared on the slums, it was the forces assembled against him that lay beaten and broken in the ground, and it was the SOLDIER Second Class that stood - his uniform stained crimson by his unbridled butchery. Gabriel stood victorious over a number he had never imagined himself able to touch. And he declared to the fallen rebels a simple challenge, a rapturous declaration that seemed to echo through the Slums. - "Never forget who did this to you."
Even such vicious victory only had a short lived place in Gabriel's heart - the inspiration and glory won by such an act of power and butchery had only a fleeting moment of glory before Gabriel found himself once more empty and longing for something further in his life to take his mind from the doubts and fears that had taken a piece of him. Growing increasingly impatient and willing even to swallow his own pride and personal judgement to achieve the goals he desired, Gabriel looked to his future career and the sacrifices he knew he had to make to achieve what he wanted. Seeking to better understand the Darkness materia he had become so accustomed and attuned to, Gabriel turned to Varen Lionheart for brief and terse tutelage into some of the more destructive arts of combat. It was in one such training session in the wastelands that Gabriel found himself appreciating a whole new level of the materia that had become his trademark. In finding a single emotion amongst the maelstrom when he called Soul Eater into being, he could channel its form much as experienced Casters could do with their elemental of choice. Possessed by this knowledge, empowered by his own growing understanding, Gabriel became something of a keen scholar into the theories of materia, even if he deigned not to use Magic all that often. In his day to day career, the SOLDIER aimed to prove his worth to his superiors as a commissioned officer - aiming to use his reputation and respect to take an active leadership role within the SOLDIER Division and bring his self-focused attitude somewhat outwards, to better the Unit he owed so much to. It was this desire for professional conduct that had Gabriel holding himself at a careful, cautious distance from his friends and allies within SOLDIER, but also a subtle fear of his remaining mental instabilities and disquiet as not to drag them down with him. He could not help but watch the active and blossoming careers of his Third Class peers with relative envy. He missed those simpler days - when prestige and achievement came simply from day-to-day survival. But his recent victories had left him prideful and placed him upon a plateau from which he had a hard time rising. For all his actions and achievements, they each felt empty to him. Gabriel felt himself missing something important - his direction had been muddied.
It was perhaps in his self-doubt and contemplation that his own darkness reared its ugly head once more. The Red Mask, a notorious terrorist and would-be-revolutionary had been terrorizing Midgar's citizenry in some media circus for some time, and each time had evaded capture and justice. But one fateful day brought Gabriel into combat with a creature the Red Mask had unleashed upon the slums- the vile criminal now resorting to acts of recklessness that needed to be addressed. Pitting his strength against the monster, desperate to make himself -feel- something again, he came up against one of AVALANCHE's deadly and notorious Ravens at the same time. But even the sight of these once-terrifying abominations did not stir Gabriel's stilled spirit- and even when he cut the monstrous shadow of humanity downwards, he found himself still missing the drive and passion that had burned so fiercely in his blood beforehand. It seemed as though Gabriel could not stir himself personally. But then the Red Mask did it for him.
The man had taken another hostage, another civilian with which he intended to play out his twisted vendettas against those who would otherwise destroy him. Marching himself out to the Plate Support, Red Mask revealed his hostage- Mika Donhue. Announcing to all watching that he -demanded- the presence of both Friedrich Eisenherz and Gabriel himself, the Red Mask seemingly intended to do what combat could not - to stir up the unfeeling warriors by using the lurid affair of their respective path's against them. And so, the Red Mask twisted and mocked, he jibed and goaded. And although Gabriel felt nothing intense for the Red Mask's hostage any longer, the insult of this terrorist attacking him personally could not be forgiven. He had seen people die to Red Mask. He had watched innocent people have their lives destroyed by the terrorists' sick and juvenile games. And although Mask's attempts to play Friedrich and Gabriel off against each other was all but useless, the moment Red Mask pulled the trigger and fired a round into Mika's skull, all that seemed inevitable. Red Mask would claim no more lives. And Gabriel would suffer this indignity no longer. Finally, he found himself seized of a singular emotion above all else. Fury.
Seized by a quiet and cold rage, the normally 'passionate' warrior found himself strangely unfeeling. His hands closed around the Red Mask's skull and did not let go, not as he felt flesh pop beneath his fingers and not as he felt bone crunch behind his horrifying grip. Not as blood leaked between his fingers or as the man who had been the Red Mask twitched and convulsed in the throes of death. He shared in his brutality with Friedrich, both men once more showing an act of brutality that seemed to disquiet all those around them. The crowd recoiled in horror at the murderous justice that had befallen the Red Mask, his broken and bloodied corpse falling to the ground as Gabriel released his grip, his hands irrevocably stained with the blood of his victim. This was not the first man Gabriel had killed. But it had been the first he had killed so vicerally, the first he had stolen life from with his bare hands. And perhaps most upsetting of all, this murder had felt -right-. What truly chilled Gabriel to his core was that killing the Red Mask had felt so, so good.
As instable as the SOLDIER may have felt, he possessed enough foresight to recognize this lack of humanity for what it was, for the dangers that such a vicious act had presented. Red Mask had deserved death, of which he was certain. But to deliver it so viciously, so suddenly, and in front of such a crowd had drawn attention he felt unbecoming. Seizing the unresponsive Friedrich and leaving the bloody scene behind him, Gabriel retreated with the Third to the SOLDIER floor and near-immediately enforcing a mandatory 'sick leave' upon the pair of them as they awaited reprisals for their act of violence. But none had came, and all that the two SOLDIER were left with were their own guilty consciences - and their bloody hands, forever stained. The days that followed allowed Gabriel some pause for self-reflection. Mika had, apparently, survived her otherwise fatal wound, and the two agreed in the hospital that this was where their lives parted. No longer wishing to associate himself with his mistakes and actions, Gabriel once more retreated inwards for self-reflection. He had experienced firsthand exactly what happen when he 'felt' too much. When he lost control. When justice turned into vengeance and how when possessed by this madness nothing could have stopped him. What separated him, in that, from the people he fought? From the examples he had spent his whole career trying to avoid? At the heart of it was a single fact, a reality Gabriel was brutally forced to reconcile. He was a weapon of war as well as an instrument of justice. He had traded his humanity for power, and with that power came a responsibility that sometimes left him with no choice but to bloody his hands. Sometimes, one had to walk in shadow to do what was right. Gabriel was a SOLDIER. But to ensure nothing like the Red Mask ever emerged again, to make sure nobody thought themselves capable of manipulating him or his Division? He would have to embrace what had recoiled him. He would have to become a Monster.
[ v ] – εуλ 0002
In the shadow of Gabriel's personal darkness, the new year dawned. And with it came perhaps the greatest personal and professional challenge that he had been forced to face so far. A letter that arrived to him from James Denton, specifying only a time and a place - an abandoned farm field on the outskirts of Kalm, far from the shadow of the city.
This was a fight that had been building from the moment James had detected- a reality he knew he would, sooner or later, have to face. A bout with James could mean only a fight to the death. He would be obligated, by morality and duty, to fulfill his role as a SOLDIER and make James answer for his crimes against SOLDIER. And James would perhaps be able to buy himself a wide berth by killing a SOLDIER Second Class on his retreat from the city. Still, forethought paralyzed him and the burden of his upcoming fight weighed heavily on his mind and soul - shadowing every step. For all he had believed of embracing his own darkness, of embodying the monster that his enemies saw, he was conflicted deeply. To kill a man who had once been his closest friend brought Gabriel to deepening, quiet despair. And yet, when the fated hour arrived? Gabriel arrived without pause to the field and faced off against his opponent in the tall grass, the sun on their backs. This was not merely a bout for survival - but a struggle to hold onto his very soul.
The fight was bitter and bloody - Gabriel's relative hesitation in comparison to James' steadfast and almost desperate self-belief lead the two SOLDIER, normally seperated by their respective Class, to a fairly equal combat, a fight in which advantage was gained and lost between both of the men. The sun had begun to set by the time their bout reached its conclusion, the sunset casting all in a bloody hue. And in the end, Gabriel performed his duty. He thrust his blade through James' heart, looking into the eyes of his opponent with sadness rather than triumph as the mako-glow left them. James had betrayed everything he had vowed to stand for- he had become a liability to the company. And yet, Gabriel almost envied the dignity he had faced his death with. James had laid everything on the line to protect his family - a family Gabriel had robbed of his life. Deeply tormented by the hard burden of his victory, Gabriel carried the fallen SOLDIER's corpse as far as the outskirts of Midgar - to the known WLF Encampment that remained hidden in the valleys. James, in Gabriel's view, had died a SOLDIER. But he had lived and died -for- Wutai, and it was to his country he now offered to lay James to rest.
He was met in the wastes by the collective, furious forces of the WLF - battered, bruised and demoralized as he faced down against what seemed like the entire dissident force. Steely, he gave James' body to their protection, but rebuked their offers to unburden him of his life- and gain the revenge they so desperately desired. Despite his injured state, Gabriel made his threats clear - that if his act of honor was besmirched with an assassination attempt, then he would take as many Wutai as he could with him, ending their rebellion in the process and drawing the fatal retaliation of SOLDIER. Bitterly, the WLF sheathed their blades - taking from him their fallen comrade, and returning to their encampment as Gabriel staggered home. Reporting his 'success', he retired to his apartment for days, haunted by self-reflection. He knew his actions had been 'right', but taking James' life had been the hardest thing he had ever been forced to do. In his heart, he felt a deep coldness. Desperate to hold onto -some- form of humanity, Gabriel siphoned some of his own rewards and wages to begin a trust fund for James's son, Juro- though even this act of kindness could not lift the weight from his heart.
Sullen and sobered to his duties as a SOLDIER, Gabriel immersed himself entirely into his rank and position- accepting his station as Officer and the responsibility that now came with it. Distanced by reputation and lack of threat from the more immediate combat scenarios on the plate, Gabriel began to step more towards oversight and direction - occasionally drawn into more taxing security roles and combat with the still-strong AVALANCHE Cell that continued to sew terror in Midgar. And as a new generation of SOLDIER Recruits passed their long and arduous training and were ascended to SOLDIER Third Class - it was Gabriel who watched now from the other side of the glass, morbidly fascinated by the sight of transformation from the outside. Had he writhed in agony like that? Had he retreated into the recesses of his mind as his cells were overtaken from within? Deep in thought, his eyes followed the process carefully and curiously, his long-held refusal to consider precisely what it was that made a SOLDIER challenged. What -was- the truth of this clandestine procedure, that made monsters out of men? Why did many like him experience these hallucinations and visions of some unknowable threat, of some cosmic horror that lingered on the edges of perception? Gabriel found himself deeply meditative on the subject, grimly resolved to put this truth to rest. For whatever the truth was, no matter how grim and sickening, he understood fully why it was a necessary sacrifice. No matter what SOLDIER's procedure could have in store, Gabriel was certain that SOLDIER's meaning would remain untarnished.
Even in the wake of these new additions, however- the SOLDIER Division did not sit still. From the shadows emerged a collection of former SOLDIER- of those who had retired, who had been declared rogue, who had vanished, who had been presumed dead. So many of those who would be his brothers and sisters returned to the city under an eye of scrutiny- and though the circumstances of their departure from the Unit previously had varying interpretations, all now met the same distrust and appraisal from the SOLDIER Second Class. Older generations of SOLDIER, he found, had wildly differing senses of standards - and many seemed to lack standards at all. Steadily, Gabriel became increasingly disenchanted with the apparent 'reward' of these disrespected 'colleagues', the Firsts and Seconds who seemed leagues below those he'd consider worthy of the title - and in Gabriel's haughty perspective, below himself. Embittered, he chose to push aside this lingering jealousy and his own rising ambition and instead took to accepting a myriad of personal assignments and missions from his immediate chain of command. One was to take him to Kalm, on what should have been a routine mission. On his way back, however, Gabriel ran into yet another figure from SOLDIER's past. A man he had not seen in years. Leonardo Volk.
The exact nature of the two's meeting in the fields of Kalm is uncertain - whether or not it ended like Gabriel's meeting with James seems to be something that the SOLDIER has left ambiguous and without saying to any and all around him - perhaps out of guilt, perhaps out of a refusal to accept 'credit'. But a few days later, Gabriel returned to the city with two well-known treasures in his possession. The first was the monster-slaying sword Volksjager- Leonardo Volk's infamous sister-sword to Lucius Grant's Lagiarant. And though that sword initially found itself placed into storage, it was the second treasure he returned with - the heavy duty materia bracer Volkspanzer, that he chose to continue to wear. SOLDIER were not the only ones to see the obvious - this grim 'trophy' quickly drew the attention of the Marauders, enraged that their former comrade's gear was apparently on display by his killer. None in Midgar would ever see Volk again. But those that knew him would be reminded of him every time they looked upon the bracer on Gabriel's arm.
It had begun without thought or deliberation - a day like any other, the mundane interrupted by something dramatic. A scent caught in the air as a crowd passed behind him. Something familiar and half-remembered, but unmistakable. An expensive Wutai perfume that brought his thoughts dangerously back to days in Junon, to a daring and passionate liason that lead to a blossoming love - cut bitterly short by the machinations of the Company.
These thoughts were dangerous. They were not memories he wished to relive, no matter how sweet they were- the bitterness of their separation and the guilt of his pragmatic 'abandonment' of the young secretary were cripplingly painful. And he did what he could to push them away - to try and forget what he had once had - and what he had been forced to lose. For a time, he had dared to look into her status from afar, to see what he could discern without arousing suspicion. But eventually, it was as though she disappeared - like she no longer existed at all, and Gabriel could not think on -that- without dooming his heart to oblivion.
Gabriel had been watching over the city, maintaining a Patrol following a Marauder attack upon the Tower the previous day. But as he peered down over the bustling crowds of Midgar, and as he loomed ominously above the Sector 7 Station, something caught his eye that stopped his heart. A flash of white hair, alabaster skin broke up by artful feline rosettes - a woman, arm in arm with Reeve Tuesti of Urban Development. Stunned, Gabriel's hesitation cost him his reunion - fighting through the crowd, he found himself too late to reach the unmistakable figure. But it was obvious to him who he had seen, and it was as though months and years of suppressed feeling and emotion had been pushed in an instance to the surface. Jade was in Midgar.
It had been a long time since Junon, he knew - since Rufus ShinRa callously tore the budding couple apart. Since he had buried those feelings and weaknesses deep inside, behind something cold and stony and immovable. Gabriel had done all he could to try and forget - knowing that contacting Jade would have put her in danger, wondering just how much Rufus had retaliated against his Secretary. Wondering if she was alive. And wondering, above all things, if she was thinking of him too. But in this one moment, in this chance encounter, those feelings had escaped his layers of control and overwhelmed him.
Gabriel's mind could not push aside what he had seen, no matter how often he had told himself it was wishful thinking or half a memory. The thought consumed him, though he was scared to pursue the truth. If it wasn't Jade, then he would find himself reliving that same pain as he had before. But if it was...? Would she even know him, welcome him? Did she hold his silence against him? It was unfair of him to expect her heart to open to him, to expect them to be able to pick up where they had left off. But he needed to see her. He needed to talk to her, even if he had no idea what to say.
Gabriel only had one lead - Reeve Tuesti. And calling in a number of favors from the Urban Development Department following his recent assignments, he learned that Mr. Tuesti had recently returned from Junon with a new assistant. The pieces were falling together, the story they told unmistakable. Ambushing the woman at work could do nothing good for whatever life she had managed to build himself. But now he had an address. And after a night of long deliberation, of feeling paralyzed by anxiety and fear and desperate hope, Gabriel finally summoned the courage he required to venture outwards. He had intended to leave at noon. He had only managed to leave the station, finally, at Midnight.
The moment he knocked upon her door, he became suddenly and frighteningly aware that for all of his thought and deliberation, he had no idea what to say. But when she opened the door and when their eyes met- and time seemed to stand still and the world stopped turning, he knew that words were barely necessary. To look upon her again after so long, to see the glimmer of moisture in her eyes and to feel his own heart beat furiously in his chest was more than enough. He took her into his arms in a longing embrace, shared their first kiss since their separation. Their mutual fears and questions were answered in a moment - and all of that fear and pain seemed to melt away, allowing the intensity of what he had felt when he dared to feel to emerge triumphant to the surface. Rufus' tyranny had ended.
They shared a drink, and their times since their departure, and all of the feelings they had kept buried and unsaid for so long. And the two once more resumed their relationship despite the obstacles that threatened them. Though Rufus ShinRa had been -somewhat- removed from the equation, Jade's status as an Experiment was inescapable, and consequences of their relationship still loomed threateningly over their heads. Undaunted and strengthened by their reunion, Gabriel opted to offer the unique 'cautious freedom' they lived under a symbolic representation. Taking the collar Jade had worn almost habitually since birth and transforming it into a piece of loving jewelry - transforming the oppressed into the transcendent and beautiful. Both had made a vow. To never let anything come between them again.
The future, for the first time in what felt like forever, became something that drew Gabriel's mind. As well as his professional advancement, his personal development with the woman he loved was close to his heart. But strife was quick to throw aside such an optimistic future from Gabriel's grasp. And he would be once more forced to realize exactly what he had traded for his abilities as a SOLDIER - and to suffer the ultimate irony of a mako-enhanced warrior.
Attacks upon the city itself had become far from commonplace - and it was thanks in part to the fearsome protectors of ShinRa and the conscientious within AVALANCHE that the regular citizenry of Midgar had not been directly threatened by the escalating violence of the Company and its hated enemy in some time. But this lull in threat was not to last - and it soon became apparent that no target was sacred in the midst of this bloody war.
A call had gone out on the ShinRa lines that seemed innocuous - small packages discovered strapped to the Mako transformer units that were affixed to the sides of many of Sector 7's buildings. On duty, Gabriel was amongst the first to respond to the imminent threat - and soon found himself at the forefront of a bomb hunt that stretched across the Sector. One by one, targets were identified and eliminated in a race against time or against the whims of Sprite, the callous rebel who had planted these charges. One bomb, affixed to the hospital, was not safely disarmed - a proximity counter signalling impending destruction. And there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.
Gabriel spat in the eye of fate, seized the bomb in the final moments of its countdown and ran with it to the less populated canal plaza of the Sector. And though his superhuman reflexes allowed him to throw the bomb skywards and away from as much collateral damage as possible, the ensuing fireball and shockwave impacted the Second without mercy. White-hot fire engulfed his senses, pain and delerium twisting his perception as he landed, charred and broken, into the canal. And as consciousness faded painfully from his mind, two female voices warred in his feverish dreams. One was unmistakably that of Jade. But the other...?
Gabriel might have met an end of sorts there- a heroic sacrifice against an ignoble enemy, were it not for the intervention of Ace Dawnbreaker - who fished his comrade from the icy water as he went into shock, or Gaius Valkyr, who pumped his lungs of the icy water that had crept inside. Gabriel was taken immediately to the emergency room and underwent serious medical treatment to save his life. Typically, SOLDIER could recover from such injuries with startling urgency. But as the days stretched onwards with no obvious improvement in Gabriel's condition- a group of wordless scientists emerged into Queens Hospital. Employed by the ShinRa Science Department's Scientific Inquiry Section, these clandestine individuals ran a series of tests upon the unconscious SOLDIER and hooked him to a strange, mako-dialysis machine. What seemed like months of recovery ahead quickly faded to days as Gabriel's condition bettered, slowly but surely. But as he awoke from this horrific injury, embracing the woman who had not left his side, Gabriel was seized with a grim thought. SOLDIER healed quickly, and his wounds had been drawn out - his body weakened, his mind spinning. Something was very, very wrong with him.
They called it Systematic Onset Regeneration Disorder, or SORD. In stark contrast to one of his greatest influences, and in defiance of his chosen career and lifestyle, it was determined that Gabriel’s blood type was dramatically at odds with the cells in his body. Failing, or outright refusing to catalyze environmental Mako energy as most SOLDIER did, Gabriel’s regenerated cells failed to re-bond with the free-floating Jenova Cells in his body. Slowly but surely, his SOLDIER treatment was killing him. And although the nature of these ‘foreign bodies’ was not spelled out quite so obviously to the SOLDIER, Gabriel knew full well that his theories of a ‘secondary’ catalyst to the SOLDIER treatment were true. Though he was yet to learn the terrible truth, the nature of his illness - and the inevitable mortality that he faced, shocked Gabriel to the core. True, he was a career warrior - his life was in constant and unknowable danger. But the expiry date now placed upon him sobered Gabriel with a bitter mortality and a crushing reminder of his own fragility. Here was an opponent he could not face, an obstacle he could not overcome. Here was irony at play- his destiny cut short by a disease none knew existed. Quietly, and without even expression to his beloved girlfriend, Gabriel sank into private and crippling despair.
But mortality presented its own perspective, and slowly Gabriel began to accept and even rely upon the date of termination that had been placed upon his life. Within the next decade his cells would mutate and either kill him or render him a sickening shadow of his former self. With no hope of a cure, Gabriel was forced quickly to understand and accept the severity of death- and the limited time he had on The Planet to accomplish his own goals. The time had come to no longer fall in line, to no longer step on the path of his influences and peers. The time had come to set something behind that would outlive him. Something that disease, injury and fate could not deny. A legacy. A shadow he could cast upon the world that had so cruelly dealt him this fate.
Though focused upon his developing relationship and the stability and love he found within it, despite the turmoil he faced and the magnitude of his impending mortality, Gabriel soon found the opportunity for Legacy would come quickly. As the spring subsided for the warmth and comfort of summer, Gabriel found himself slipping into the role of a casual mentor to the three newest Recruits - primarily Ace Dawnbreaker. Many times he had seen previous SOLDIER attempt to secure their mentorship via acts of physical ability. Through lessons of stamina and strength and technique. But Gabriel had learned quickly that though these disciplines were integral, they were far from the foundation of a successful SOLDIER. Though distant and measured in their training, Gabriel began to set ethical questions to these three new Recruits - to challenge their minds and resolves as much as their bodies. Here were a generation of new SOLDIER, he believed. A generation who would learn to use their heads, to exercise judgement and forethought. A generation completely devoted to the SOLDIER Ideal.
But the SOLDIER Ideal was soon to be questioned - firstly by a revelation he had long suspected, but finally found truth in. It was only after revealing the nature of his condition and mortality to his long time friend, mentor and peer - Cheryl Cardas, that he came to the greatest and final understanding of what SOLDIER truly was. That it was not simply ethics and power and fame that bound SOLDIER together - and not just mako, strife and adversity that bound them in blood. The truth was far more terrible - and the origins of SOLDIER far more troubling than any could have thought.
Finally, here was an answer. A name to the deity that had haunted his dreams and the unknowable power that had haunted his step. A name to the cells that were slowly destroying his body and robbing him of his life. A name to the bargain that all SOLDIER entered when they accepted their powers and abilities. So it was that one warm evening, in the storm drains beneath the city, Gabriel met Cheryl Cardas and discussed the grim truth of their reality. The Jenova Project was laid bare to the Second Class, and the nature of their bargain finally revealed. In their blood were the cells of a being from beyond the stars. An unknowable entity with limitless power that had attempted dominion of the world. It was from this eldritch horror that SOLDIER had been born. It was from the power of Jenova that Gabriel’s life would end. But this revelation did not bring with it the shocking nausea, or righteous indignation. Long since questioning his humanity and accepting his nature as a monster, the truth reached Gabriel with relative placidity. Knowing the monsterous origins of his abilities neither shocked him to his core nor unseated his bold visions of his future. Here was simply another fact - a name to the dark mystery that had haunted his steps. Here was closure, and confirmation of his view of self-sacrifice and strong ethical consideration. Yes, SOLDIER were monsters, perhaps the greatest monsters of all. But their sacrifice of humanity was an integral part to their identity. And Gabriel believed this now, stronger than ever. At ease with their origins, and understanding finally which Dark God Lena had spoken to - and which unknowable threat had haunted his dreams, Gabriel stood resolute.
Age of Heidegger
Allowed time to ruminate on his recent revelations - his recognition of mortality and understanding of SOLDIER’s horrifying origins, Gabriel and the rest of his Regiment were posted to Paradise Cove - and island resort on an all-expenses paid company trip courtesy of Lazard Deusericus, the SOLDIER Division’s stalward leader. Enjoying the momentary reprive from their burdens, SOLDIER relished their opportunity in the sun- and Gabriel spent valued time with those he saw dear, granted a rare glimpse of the man beneath the mask as he had become so deeply unseated by his recent traumas. Enjoying what time he could with Jade, the pair reflected on their time away from the machinations of the company - a brief glimpse of freedom to two lives encircled by corporate intrigue.
But an alterior motive behind this apparently selfless act was soon revealed at the disappearance of the very executive who had sent them. Midway through their vacation and at a time the SOLDIER Floor was relatively unguarded, Lazard Deusericus vanished into thin air. All he had left in his wake were vague clues and personal letters to those in his division- memoirs and notes, pieces of advice and information the Executive had attempted to leave them before seemingly leaving the face of the earth. Stunned by this news and almost in denial, events slowly brought the severity and weight of this sudden shift onto Gabriel’s shoulders. SOLDIER’s age of freedom, of heroics and individual merit were threatened forever. And after an emergency meeting with the President, the future of SOLDIER was clear. The Age of Heidegger had begun.
Everything Gabriel believed himself to know of SOLDIER’s future was drawn sharply into question by the severity of executive politics. Heidegger was a demanding boss- and the changes of attitude and policy that he suggested now pervaded SOLDIER. Integrity and honor became suddenly threatened by callous oversight. Gone were the days of integrity and personal ethics. Gabriel awoke to a new world - a world in which his role was challenged, and the lessons and legacy he had attempted to begin were poisoned by new policy. Disgruntled and disquieted by SOLDIER’s sudden spotlighted attention, Gabriel made his protest the only way he knew how. It was Leonardo Volk’s blade that he carried now as a reminder to the company that SOLDIER could not be chained - and that the power they held in their blood could not be preempted. SOLDIER in the past had risen against corruption and made their stand regardless of consequence. And though Gabriel intended -his- protest to be far more subtle, he made his passion known very clearly. If the executive board could not be convinced that SOLDIER’s way had results, or that SOLDIER’s autonomy was of value? Then he would have to show them.
But it was not merely his own life that was challenged by this change of policy - and the sudden realization of his status under ShinRa’s whim brought his beloved’s life sharply into context - especially when her brother had attempted to purchase the contract that still held her in indentured servitude to the company. Knowing her contract still resided under Rufus Shinra's despotic control, Gabriel became increasingly panicked as every hope and thought he had held of the future. Not only had his survivability been called into question, but so too had his beloved's autonomy and freedom. He had chosen his chains and burdens whilst she had not - and the reminder of the company’s severity brought Gabriel to once again consider how best to win Jade some semblance of security and freedom. Committed to a future with the beautiful experiment who had brought so much life into his life, Gabriel was even willing to attempt reconciliation with Lionheart , a man with whom he had been intensely at odds with. But even attempting to look past the ego and dysfunction of her older ‘brother’ in order to find a common cause fell short- as the SOLDIER found himself unable to reconcile with Lionheart’s self-serving world-views. Feeling he had disappointed his beloved and abandoned her to be left in the void between the two SOLDIER's egos, Gabriel became as consumed with guilt and powerlessness as he was with dread at his mortality. The one greatest thing that had entered his life was now threatened by circumstances barelling quickly out of his control, and Gabriel found himself for the first time with a lack of direction, a fear for the future that seemed all encompassing. With none above him to listen, none left in the company to serve as a voice of guidance, Gabriel grew increasingly worried of Lionheart’s unchallenged dominion over Gabriel’s beloved Regiment - and of the Company's threatening chokehold over his Division, his life, and his love. Fearing the man to be corrupted by self-importance, Gabriel could think of only one man on the Planet who could offer him the guidance and insurance he needed - the man who had trained Varen Lionheart and had once offered to do the same for Gabriel. The retired General, war hero and legendary SOLDIER Gale Trevise.
Venturing to the retired General’s estate in Junon, he found himself unusually welcomed by the man most had known as cruel and cold. Instead, he met Gale under relative familiarity and understanding - a meeting he had longed for, but never expected. Wearing a golden mask and bearing strange scars on one side of his face, Gale spoke at length to Gabriel about the nature of his role in SOLDIER, and gave him scant guidance for the future. But so too did he reveal truths - terrible admissions, dark secrets. Removing his mask, Gale spoke of the pact he had made with Jenova that he had eventually turned his back on. His punishment was, much like Gabriel, the gradual decay and decline of his body. Already, Jenova’s will had sapped him of his strength. Just like Gabriel, Gale was dying from the power he had borrowed. Noone, however lofty and however powerful, could deny Jenova’s will. Slowly, the veteran First revealed his motives, his morality, his black crusade against the Planet and its wheel of ruthless fate. But so too did Gale admit his faults, his flaws. For though destruction of the lifestream would grant mankind freedom from the demiurge that recycled their souls endlessly, so too would it prevent new beauty from being born into the world. So Gale imparted his final philosophies, and revealed to Gabriel another enemy to the Planet that far outclassed the petty threat that a man like Heidegger or even someone like Varen Lionheart offered. Nevertheless, Gale taught Gabriel all he needed to know to defeat this potential despot- and to save the Planet itself, if fate looked his way. Though the veteran SOLDIER had not been able to help Gabriel physically, he had imparted a new perspective to the warrior. His mind broadened, Gabriel was reminded of his reasons for joining SOLDIER to begin with. Not merely to change the company and influence the future of Midgar - but to change the world itself. SOLDIER was a means to an end - the fulcrum upon which ShinRa could turn. And the engine of turning the Planet itself. Re-invigorated by this guidance, Gabriel became convinced that not even the Company would keep him from his goals. He would use this dark god's power to accomplish what he required. To free his love from her servitude, to free his Division from its fear, and to free his legacy from its shadow.
Where his body had begun to fail him, Gabriel found himself armed with a far stronger weapon than even SOLDIER could individually offer - resolve. Steadfast in his beliefs despite his deepening feud with Lionheart and his consistently upfront attitude to the executives who challenged or threatened his path, Gabriel’s pride and self-worth became almost insurmountable obstacles. As determined to prove to -himself- that he was still capable of anything he wished as much as he wished to prove to his superiors and his enemies the same, Gabriel took on increasing challenges and battles. It was in the slums, hearing upon the attack on several of his SOLDIER operatives that Gabriel drew his sword against AVALANCHE’s most feared and infamous combatant, Elfé. Assisted by his enemy in Lionheart, he nevertheless fought bravely and with supreme conviction against the young woman who had once even blocked a blow from Sephiroth himself. And though their fight wore on and Gabriel knew he could not keep up with the woman’s might, he did not fall to her blows and it was circumstance that brought their fight to a close. Unsettled with fighting Elfé, Gabriel brought likewise retribution upon Krys Bremer after an attack on Zedrick LaVend’s life -nearly killing the rebel leader in a prolonged conflict that again highlighted Gabriel’s brutal self-belief. Perpetuated by this confidence and strength of will, Gabriel steadily grew arrogant with his ability- when extreme self-reliance was all he had left - and the only shed of hope for the future he could still cling onto. As his career as a Second continued, Gabriel found himself impatiently looking to the future - a future in which he would no longer be a slave to the world turning. He set his sights for First Class.
October 19th, [ μ ] – εуλ 1998 - Promoted to Private First Class.
October 22nd, [ μ ] – εуλ 1998 - Gabriel participates in his first SOLDIER Tryout.
November 5th, [ μ ] – εуλ 1998 - Promoted to Lance Corporal.
November 24th, [ μ ] – εуλ 1998 - Promoted to Corporal.
December 14th, [ μ ] – εуλ 1998 - Promoted to Sergeant.
January 20th, [ μ ] – εуλ 1998 - Promoted to Staff Sergeant.
January 27th, [ μ ] – εуλ 1998 - Taken on as a SOLDIER Recruit.
July, [ μ ] – εуλ 1998 - Captured by members of the WLF.
January 23rd, [ μ ] – εуλ 2000 - Re-enlisted into the Paramilitary, made a Cadet.
February 1st, [ μ ] – εуλ 2000 - Promoted to Private First Class.
February 5th, [ μ ] – εуλ 2000 - Put onto medical leave for therapy.
April 21st, [ μ ] – εуλ 2000 - Returned to active duty.
April 27th, [ μ ] – εуλ 2000 - Gabriel participates in a SOLDIER Tryout.
May 13th, [ μ ] – εуλ 2000 - Promoted to Lance Corporal.
June 3rd, [ μ ] – εуλ 2000 - Promoted to Corporal.
July 1st, [ v ] – εуλ 0000 - Promoted to Sergeant.
July 20th, [ v ] – εуλ 0000 - Promoted to Staff Sergeant.
August 12th, [ v ] – εуλ 0000 - Recruited into SOLDIER
October 9th, [ v ] – εуλ 0000 - Entered into SOLDIER as SOLDIER Third Class.
January 1st, [ v ] – εуλ 0001 - Promoted to First Sergeant.
April, [ v ] – εуλ 0001 - Awarded SOLDIER 3rd Veteran distinction.
June 11th, [ v ] – εуλ 0001 - Promoted to Sergeant Major.
September 15th, [ v ] – εуλ 0001 - Awarded SOLDIER 2nd Class distinction.
December 21st, [ v ] – εуλ 0001 - Promoted into the Officer ranks as a Second Lieutenant.
April 19th, [ v ] – εуλ 0002 - Awarded the SOLDIER 2nd Veteran distinction.
July 20th, [ v ] – εуλ 0002 - Promoted to First Lieutenant by Constance Marren.
June 2nd, [v] – εуλ 0003 - Promoted to SOLDIER 1st Class and Captain rank by Asura Dyfan, with unanimous approval.
September 21st, [v] – εуλ 0003 - Promoted to Major and made Vice-Commander of the 70th SOLDIER Unit, Jupiter.
SKILLS AND INVENTORY
"Affirmation without discipline is the begging of delusion."
"To a superhuman- what could sting more than a fate no power can ever alter?"
"I fear no dangers, do you hear? They will fear me."
"How much -should- you protect them? At which point does protection become mothering? We are looking upon them now to determine who among them, if any, have the spark of potential we require to build a SOLDIER. If you seek to aid them all, to aid everyone that suffers and comes up against odds greater than they are, you will only weaken yourself. And weaken them... The internal struggles, the moments of inner strife.. When fought and won alone, they yield our strongest rewards. But steal that struggle from them and it becomes cheapened. If you care for their progression, if you wish truly to foster their growth? Dispense of pity. Recognize the value in letting them fight their own battles. And if they triumph? They will be stronger for the victory."
"They can barely call themselves after the dangerous unit that Elfe lead. What 'war' do 'AVALANCHE' engage in? They are effectively 'trolls'. Attacking our military, then running away giggling into the shadows. There is no meaning to their conflict, no motivation outside of proving they exist. They're not rebels. They're not even guerillas." - on AVALANCHE.
"There's a difference between a thirst for blood and a desire to see justice done. Mercy is what tows the line between a protector and a despot- but if you truly want to make this city a better place, if you truly want to ensure the safety of the people you protect, you won't hesitate to make the call between life and death when the time comes. Some people cannot be reasoned with, bargained with or swayed from their path. Some of them are so hopelessly desperate to prove their life has meaning that they will take up any 'cause' as a front for their problems. If you don't have the conviciton to make that self-sacrifice, to bloody your hands for your city, then you're shaming it." - to Ace Dawnbreaker, on execution.
"Conflict gives you purpose. Adversity gives you strength. Competition gives you focus. Because you -are- SOLDIER. Belief in yourself, belief in your cause, can even weaponize hardships into something you turn against your opponents. Never shy away from that. Just know how to temper the thrill of combat with discipline."
"Such is war. Such is the reality of SOLDIER.... It is our resilience, our superhuman endurance, that puts us on top. Not just physically, but spiritually. Mentally. Train your resolve, your willpower. Make your cause your armor. And when you -are- forced to take a life, remember what it is for. Remember that your strength isn't solitary, but joined by all men and women who share your cause. That is SOLDIER's true strength."
"If this life is an illusion, then it would be arrogance to assume I'm anything other than an illusion too. And if I'm a part of the joke, then isn't the illusion real to me? I live, I burn with life, I love, I strive, and am content."
Ark Angel: "Save your breath. I'm already going." He'd say, turning to walk off and leave Gabriel to it."
Gabriel: "Go faster."
"In your fear, you paint me as a Demon. Why should I ever prove otherwise to someone like you?'
“Without strife, your victory has no meaning. Without strife, you do not advance. Without strife, there is only stagnation.”'
"I deny limits. Plateaus exist, but to linger upon them is death. And if it kills you, it kills you. One must constantly exceed his level. And one must never, ever, be satisfied."
"Defeat is necessary for progression. Without challenge, we plateau and stagnate. Defeat is a state of mind- and no one is ever truly defeated until they accept that defeat as reality." ... "I have found defeat in anything to be merely temporary, and its punishment is but an urge to exert greater efforts to achieve your goal. Defeat tells you simply that something is wrong in what you are doing. Defeat, therefore, is a path of illumination and truth. And no true warrior should be crippled by its burden, or be stunted without its presence. Learn from your defeat, and adapt. Grow. Strive. And never stop."'
"Swords well-worn in battle, or those that have survived long wars, are often hung on the wall of their wielder. Satisfied with their lot in life, they become little more than ceremonial objects. They imagine their trials are done. And they dull. - Many Firsts are the same. They imagine themselves 'done', their achievements capped. In their arrogance, they open themselves to weakness. They plateau. And they fade into irrelevance. My trials are not done. Let us not forget that we only know the majority of Sephiroth's endeavors from his time as a First, do we not?. First Class is not the end of the road unless you allow it to be. If your goals are so minute and so trivial that this distinction is your 'happy ending', then you will wither. You will hang yourself on the wall. And you will dull. But the weapon well maintained, well used, well known- the weapon that does not rely on reputation alone to win its battles. It will ascend into legend. Or it will break."
FRIENDS AND ENEMIES
OPINIONS & IMPRESSIONS
"Intelligent, focused and professional. Gabriel was among the finest of MPs and I'm sure is now equally as valued in SOLDIER." ~ Baylian Ashheart
"Don't burn yourself out just yet." ~ Cheryl Cardas
"Professionally, Gabriel is one of the best. His name strikes fear in the hearts and minds of those who would oppose him. Personally, I think this fact has changed him into the monster he told me he did not want to become." - Mika Donahue
"Thank you for upholding your promise. I will no longer bother you with any issues, be they professional or personal." - Mika Donahue
"I'm not saying I would -do- Gabriel..." ~ Zedrick
"Now all depends what definition you make of the word, boring. You're one of the men that can hardly be. No matter the physical or mental distance you could set yourself from the Paramilitary. You're certainly not to be forgotten. [...] Just don't forget to enjoy the time you're given" - Ace Dawnbreaker
"Even you, in your infinite grace and strength, have your right to weakness." - Jade
"Look to those before you, not behind you. You're too old to focus on learning from the mistakes and legacies of others... You don't need guidance anymore." - Jade
"Monsters roam the streets at night, killing in the name of justice. One monster stands above the rest; a Dire Wolf heedlessly feeding on those too weak to stand against it. However that monster wolf is going to learn that when you prey on your own kind, a real wolf is going to show up and show you your place." - Ark Angel
"How did I get so lucky? Nothing about my life should have ever given me the chance to know you, let alone be loved by you. All I can say is that you are the best thing that has ever happened to me, Gabriel. I love you so much..." - Jade
"Honest man, hard as a nut with a complex that insist there will be victory at all costs. Friendly, sincere yet blunt as a mace.." - Paige Whitwood
Maya speaks of her light in the darkness. You are the Darkness that I lovingly embrace. My Dark Knight. My Warrior. Every thought, every action, every breath, every single second, I have dedicated to you since the very beginning. Come home safe, Gabriel. This won't take you from me. Not a single force on this Planet can separate us again." - Jade
"A man I've once seen as a fearsome individual that I honestly couldn't muster up the courage to even talk to at first, but over time, fighting alongside the guy, or even talking to him, I've managed to see even more. A chance to even look at myself with transparency and see what I truly wanted, and what I wanted to fight for. Thank you for setting my head on straight to see reality, instead of sitting in a closed off world. I appreciate it." - Izuna Amamiya
"Ally? Family? Friend? Mentor...? To me you're a great inspiration, you are the man that stands tall no matter what. A pillar of strength and wisdom to which each talk adds one more stone to the monument. Even though you might be a tad too 'tough' at times, my opinion of you is just like you: unwavering. I will strive further, and I will earn my place between the giants of this world." - Ace Dawnbreaker
"Ah, a SOLDIER like so many before you and yet paradoxically so different. Your zeal and fire is something that could very well destroy you. But should you continue moving forward, you will persevere. Such is the life and sacrifice of a Dark Knight. Don't stop now, Lycanthyr. You have people that care about you; don't forget about that." - Kiru
"I could ask for no better friend or ally then Gabriel Lycanthyr, from these days till the end of the world. My rival, My brother, my best friend." - Eric Moon
"Under the emotionally manipulative influence of the Vice President, I never considered myself capable of loving someone to the capacity that I do you. One chance meeting in the streets of Junon changed my perspective entirely. You taught me the beauty of embracing my humanity; to flourish in spite of the oppression looming overhead. You are my first and my only love. There was no life to live before you. I'm so very honored and proud to finally call you my husband." - Jade Lycanthyr
Gabriel and Jade..
|SOLDIER 70th Regiment|