Between Gears 2 and 3 and all the Oceans in-between
A continuing look at the books between the Gears of War novels. This time I focus on Jacinto’s Remnant.
Welcome back! For those who haven’t read my first article I recommend you go back and give it a try. This article will still make sense, but I think its just polite personally…
In this article I’m going to be looking at the three books that come between Gears of War 2 and Gears of War 3 which is going to cover a lot of story. Actually before I start I’m going to get this out of the way…
Warning- this article contains a lot of spoilers. If you haven’t played Gears of War 1, 2 or 3 and don’t want the story spoiled, stop now!
I’m not kidding, stop!
Right, with that out of the way let us begin.
Starting at the end of Gears of War 2 as all the members of Delta Squad fly free from the sinking city of Jacinto we once again find Bernie Mataki struggling to find purchase as the buildings flood and collapse beneath her. This is something I find very interesting as once again Bernie is not seen or mentioned at all in Gears 2, the fact Karen Traviss (the author) focuses on her so much before the game brings her in makes me feel she really connected to her. The fact she’s such a bad ass character would make a real edition to the cast of the game but she is saved for Gears 3. She becomes almost a mother character to them all, able to slap them around when they are being stupid (at one point she punches Baird out) and caring for them when it all seems too much. Talking about it all being too much, the beginning of Remnant hangs on a very large part of Gears of war 2….
Really, I’m about to spoil Gears of War 2. You have been warned!
The opening few chapters of Remnant are set in “real time” in the books and doesn’t use flash-backs; a large portion of this time is dedicated to Dom, grieving over the fact he took his own wife’s life. In the game this was a very moving moment but there wasn’t much time left to give any character development over such a grave moment. The book not only deals with the thoughts and actions that are running through Dom’s head but also the way that Marcus breaks the news to Delta Squad and how they band around him. A very poignant moment is when Dom takes the cracked and tired photo of him and Maria that he has been showing around for ten years and places it in with a pack of photos that he keeps with him, knowing that he won’t have to keep it separate any more.
Focusing back on the story. By this point the Coalition of Ordered Governments are truly done for. They have just sunk their last safe haven in Jacinto and now the Government, the COGs and any survivors that are left are on the run. Its obvious that the citizens of Jacinto are used to being moved on short notice and don’t put up an argument at being moved en masse, but little did they know what would be coming. All the survivors are moved to an abandoned COG navel base, in the middle of winter, with minimal supplies and no further plan.
This is where Traviss brings us back to our first flashback into the past of Gears of War. We go back 14 years from the present, to a year after Emergence Day and we find a younger, more politically minded Chairman Prescott who had only recently taken over the office from his dead father.
We get to hear more of his relations with other members of the Coalition of Ordered Governments, in fact we get to hear of the end of his relations as each nation in turn refuses to band together in one final push to wipe out the locust, worrying more about themselves than the population of the planet. We also meet an younger, still hopeful Colonel Hoffman and a worried Adam Phoenix. As readers we know where the story is going to go and what decisions are going to be made but its wonderful seeing how those decisions are made. It all starts with Prescott trying to lawfully take Martial law and place it over Tyrus using the Fortification Act. Meaning he would have complete military-style control over Jacinto and all of the COG. Then, using this power, he would legally fire the Hammer of Dawn on the area surrounding Ephyra (the Country of Ephyra is protected from the Locust by being on the largest unbroken area of granite on Sera). Using the Hammer he would destroy all the supplies and equipment feeding the locust army, the supplies they were looting and stealing from his citizens. He was going to burn the earth, and give his citizens only three days notice to evacuate back to the safety of Ephyra.
We know that Chairman Prescott is going to end up firing the Hammer of Dawn at the whole of Sera but I didn’t know that not only was Hoffman set against it, but Adam Phoenix as well. They both played pivotal roles in the Hammers’ capture and creation and they must have known that it was going to take a lot of lives. But the idea of it being fired on their own people sickens them both.
Away from the grim face of the war office we are introduced to Dom and Marcus on a rare bit of R&R, visiting Maria at the Santiago house. It has been a year since both of Dom’s children were killed along with Maria’s parents on E-Day. The relationship between Dom, Marcus and Maria is strained but obviously loving. Both Marcus and Dom know when they arrive that Maria has been up in the children’s rooms, still preserved from the day they disappeared, crying her eyes out for hours but Dom as an ever loving husband doesn’t say a word. He just makes a big thing about coming in the house and making dinner, so that Maria has enough time to calm herself down and cool herself off in the bathroom. We also get to see Marcus’ caring side as through their conversations he actually offers to move Maria from their home into his father’s mansion and pay to have the best doctors and carers on beck and call for her. With Marcus’ family background this would be very easy for him to get but for Dom and Maria this is something they would never dream off but still they refuse, Dom thinking that Maria would do better being closer to the children’s “shrines”. I personally found these sections very hard to read as you can see that Maria is already losing herself, partially down to the stress and anguish of losing both her children so suddenly but also from the medication she has been given to try and help her. Also knowing where the story would be heading made it even harder as you know there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Back in the present after months of surviving the bitter cold, rationing and random locust attacks (that’s right, flooding the hollow did nothing!) a decision is made to move all the survivors again. This time en masse and out to sea, to a small island in the south seas called Vectes.
Vectes is on the other side of an abyssal trench from the Seran mainland, which meant that the Locust would be unable to tunnel to the island. This along with presence of an old COG navel base which would provide a home for the now refugee survivors of the sinking of Jacinto. Delta squad are sent on ahead in a Raven to make sure the island is actually habitable and find not only a community still living there, but a community of COG citizens who have been living safely secluded from the locust infection. Greetings are exchanged and some harsh realisations are brought to the small town of Pelruan regarding the state of humanity and then all too soon – thanks to the intrusion of the local Stranded population – so is violence. Within days of this happening the main COG refugee force starts to land at Vectes Naval Base and normality seems that it might return. Who knew that 14 years earlier it was all nearly destroyed.
In the final flashback of this novel we are brought back to the last few hours before the Hammer of Dawn strikes. Marcus and his squad (which at this point include Dom, Tai, Kelso and a few other gears) are fighting their way through convoys to make it back. Back in Chairman Prescott’s office a more stressful and pressing time is being had. Not only are they very shortly about to bring the planet to nigh-on apocalypse, but Colonel Hoffman’s wife is still missing. After revealing to her that the hammer is going to be used on the population of the planet Hoffman’s wife ran out on him, planning to get her sister and return. At this moment she still hasn’t checked in. Time ticks down and Hoffman, Adam Phoenix and Prescott are left to deal with the decision they have made and the Hammer of Dawn is fired. Killing thousands.
Five days pass and we are left with Dom, leaving a clearly shaken and disturbed Maria to go out on the first recon with Marcus and Tai to see what is left after the devastation. Sadly, devastation is all they find. A world covered in a grey filth and nothing more until they reach the outskirts of the next city where they start to see cars melted by the extreme heat of the orbital lasers, then they are able to make out the heat effected remains of other refugees and it all gets too much. A few days later and with the grey smog clearing down Hoffman is sent out and encounters the first survivor, the first person they have found who survived being “stranded” outside of the safe zone and the hatred begins.
The book ends back in the “present” time in a very harrowing situation for one of the Gears that’s been growing for a while which doesn’t end in the best of manners but I will leave that for you to discover, I don’t want to give all this book away! The book does end on a fantastic cliff hanger, with the re-emergence of the UIR…
I could go on and start telling you all that happens in the next book, “Anvil Gate”, but this next book has so much depth into Hoffman’s past I feel I should give it the time it deserves.
Gears of War Images Copyright – Epic Games
Jacinto’s Remnant image Copyright – Karen Traviss