Fall of Man: An Intro To The Gears Universe

by Meagan Marie on May 12, 2010 at 11:50 AM

“The humans of Sera built a glorious civilization. But humans were not destined to create. They inevitably did what they do best: destroy. But this was nothing compared to a new threat from below. An enemy that will force humanity to take their last inevitable steps toward extinction.”

          - Destroyed Beauty: An Inside Look at Gears of War

Sera, and the unfortunate denizens who populate its surface, can’t catch a break. Never short of cause for war, the planet’s history is steeped in blood. This was true even before the Locust plague ravaged their home.

Offsetting a hesitance to slow the franchises’ inherent blockbuster pace, Epic has chosen to flesh out the Gears franchise lore through several novels, a comic run, and more. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling a comprehensive look at the expanded Gears universe, including a few tidbits relating to Gears of War 3.

Welcome to Sera. Enjoy your stay.


“Humans are no strangers to war. After all, we’ve been fighting for as long as we can remember. War is all we know.”

          - Beneath the Surface: An Inside Look at Gears of War 2

Even before E-Day or the lengthy Pendulum Wars, Sera’s surface was riddled with conflict. Records of the time evidence undulating periods of depression and prosperity, but exact dates were not maintained so far back in Sera’s lore.

An Age of Armageddon: (XX Years Before Emergence) During the Age of Armageddon, Sera endured unending conflict for nearly a millennium – total annihilation always just over the horizon. Realizing the folly of their ways, humanity narrowly avoided self-destruction in favor of a temporary and fragile peace.1

The Era of Silence: (XX Years B.E.) Stepping back from the precipice of extinction, peace reigned in Sera for a period of time, ushering in a renaissance of art, science, and culture. The crucial concept of “destroyed beauty” relevant to the Gears visual identity originates here; If not for the temporary flourishing of Sera’s worldwide culture, it would never be obvious how far they, as a species, have fallen. Despite an optimistic future, skirmishes, crime, and a depleting store of energy reserves (petroleum and nuclear) caused tensions between once-warring nations to swell again. It is unknown how long this time of peace lasted.2

Discovery of Imulsion: (XX Years B.E.) Disproportionate energy reserve allowances reignited international conflict, making obvious that an alternative form of fuel was needed. First discovered during a mission drilling for crude oil, Imulsion was little more than a curiosity amongst the scientific community until it was found to have latent potential as fuel. Dr. Helen Cooper is credited for conceiving the crucial steps needed to tap into Imulsion’s raw energy – the Lightmass Process. The method converts the phosphorescing, low-viscosity fluid into usable energy, a move that rocketed Imulsion to the new standard for fuel.3 A starving Sera had found the answer to their energy woes and in so doing ignited the “Gold Rush.” But just as with other fuel sources that had come before, access to Imulsion was unbalanced. Several nations had the bulk of the Imulsion reserves, giving them a nearly endless supply of inexpensive fuel. Other nations weren’t so fortunate. Once again, envy planted the seeds of war.2 

"In the past, we fought for Imulsion. We fought for country. We fought for freedom"

          - Chairman Richard Prescott

For casual Gears of War fans, “Pendulum Wars” has slightly more meaning than a string of random syllables.  Although both Gears of War games mentioned the lengthy conflict as a platform for establishing the grit and service record of key protagonists – the Pendulum Wars remained abstract until explored through Karen Traviss’ twin Gears novels – Aspho Fields and Jacinto’s Remnant.

A World at War: (79 Years B.E.) The opportunity Imulsion offered for global prosperity was short lived.  When traditional forms of energy were abandoned, unregulated Imulsion speculation caused a worldwide economic crash.1 With an increased need for fuel, political disagreements and small-scale skirmishes escalated to full-fledged war. Those with abundant access to Imulsion reserves were attacked by those without, starting a conflict that would last 79 years and shape the lives of all those in the Gears universe.  Both men and women fought bravely on the frontlines during the Pendulum Wars, aligning themselves with one of two superpowers – the Union of Independent Republics or the emergent Coalition of Ordered Governments.4

Rise of the COG: Born from the socialist mind of Alexiy Desipich, the Coalition of Ordered Governments was closer to a philosophy of thought than a tangible, world-governing entity prior to the Pendulum Wars. Time helped to mold the COG into a recognized political party, gaining massive momentum as years passed. Their influence skyrocketed after E-Day, when they were found to be the only governing force willing to do what was necessary to ensure the survival of mankind.1

Birth of Marcus Fenix:  (21 Years B.E.) Gears of War protagonist and leader of Delta Squad, Marcus Fenix was born to Dr. Elaine Fenix and renowned scientist Adam Fenix in the final two decades of the Pendulum Wars. Raised with an insatiable desire to protect and serve, Fenix matured to play an essential role in the survival of Sera.4

Birth of Dominic Santiago: (19 Years B.E.) Future COG soldier and Delta Squad recruit Dominic Santiago was born to parents Eduardo and Eva Santiago 19 years before E-Day. Younger brother to Carlos Santiago, Dom, Carlos and Marcus were nearly inseparable the bulk of their childhoods.4

Enlisted Men: (4 Years B.E.) Marcus and Carlos, the older pair in the threesome, enlisted to aid the COG agenda a few years before E-Day. At this time Dom’s longtime girlfriend Maria Flores became pregnant, and Dom married her before enlisting shortly after.4

Operation: Leveler/Battle of Aspho Fields: (3 Years B.E.) When the Coalition of Ordered Governments learned of a devastating weapon possessed by the Union or Independent Republics, drastic measures were called for. Deciding that the Hammer of Dawn could change the tides of war in favor of the enemy, the COG decision makers organized a mission to seize the technology and capture or kill the braintrusts behind it. Led by Major Victor Hoffman, the battle was a success, but at a high cost. Carlos Santiago was a particularly painful casualty, as was Major Helena Stroud, whose daughter – Anya Stroud – was acting communications liaison at the time of her death. The COG justified their losses by putting an end to the decade-long stalemate and regaining favor in the theater of war. A good number of those who survived Aspho Fields were awarded the Embry Star for their service. A silver lining in a heavy cloud, Dominic Santiago’s second child was born the night of the assault.4

A Tenuous Peace: (6 Weeks B.E.) Thanks to the COG confiscation of the Hammer of Dawn, the Pendulum Wars ended with the UIR intimidated into submission.  Another brief period of peace punctuated Sera’s history, lulling humanity into a false sense of security as a new threat lay in wait.3

"For a time, the humans of Sera knew the illusion of peace...until Emergence Day. At that moment, our people broke free from our subterranean lair, erupting into the domain of these ground walkers, and wiping out whole cities. We fought and killed the humans on their fine boulevards, in their homes, on their battlefields. And they fought back. In time, their valiant defense was crushed. With billions dead, humans denied their enemy control by destroying their own civilization. They launched devastating attacks on their own territory – sacrificing their own citizens – so that we could not posses it. Such is their loathing and fear of us.

          - Queen Myrrah rallying the Locust forces

If the inhabitants of Sera thought they had seen the worst their world had to offer, they were wrong. Erupting through Sera’s surface, monstrous creatures spawned from children’s nightmares decimated the planet. Those who survived faced an uphill battle. There’s a reason most people say “The lucky died on E-Day.”

Emergence Day: (E-Day) With a respite measured only in weeks, a new enemy threatened humans with extinction. Dubbed “Emergence Day” because of holes dug from their subterranean confines, humans were forced to put aside their inbred mistrusts and animosity to unite behind a common enemy. Nearly 80 years of war left the world devastated, however, and within the first day a fourth of Sera’s population perished at the hands of the Locust horde.3 Everyone lost someone they loved, including Dom, whose parents and two children became casualties in the first few hours. The subsequent weeks saw the Locust capture industrial and urban epicenters – using human technology and resources as their own. On the brink of collapse, asset denial became paramount. COG leaders would do the unthinkable.5

Scorched Earth: (1 Year After Emergence Day) COG Chairman Richard Prescott tried unsuccessfully to unite the remaining nations of Sera against the Locust. Afterwards, a harsh decision was made. Refusing to cooperate due to blind self-preservation, a scorched-earth policy using Hammer Strikes from orbital lasers was orchestrated by Adam Fenix.  Those who survived the initial E-Day attacks were given three days to retreat to the Jacinto Plateau – a geographic region left relatively unscathed thanks to a solid granite foundation. Even if Sera’s infrastructure hadn’t been decimated, the majority of the planet’s population wouldn’t have made it to Jacinto in time. When the orbital strikes ended, 90% of Sera’s surface became an unlivable wasteland – a scheduled mass genocide turning people into char where they stood. The act produced results, even though the reduction of Locust troops was superficial.5

Birth of the Stranded: Harboring massive resentment towards the COG government, humans who survived the orbital attacks refused to align or cooperate with the Coalition of Ordered Governments. This marks the birth of the Stranded – a faction of Sera’s population that makes a point to knowingly loot and steal COG resources.5

The Fortification Act: (1 Year A.E.) In a move that was surprisingly well received, the Fortification Act was implemented by COG leaders in order to establish marshal law and make the greater Jacinto Plateau area impenetrable. Stipulations of the act included mandatory food rationing, curfews, and the right to conscript any able-bodied man into service. Women were also reduced to a primitive role – being tasked with reproducing so as to repopulate the earth. Still, realizing the desperateness of the situation, most COG citizens accepted the amendments without hesitation.4

Marcus Fenix Imprisoned: (10 Years A.E.) Despite an obvious commitment to cause and duty, Marcus Fenix knowingly abandoned his post and comrades during a nasty battle in an attempt to rescue his father. He was unsuccessful and believed his father dead. Caught and charged with dereliction of duty, Fenix was charged by a military tribunal with 40 years hard time at Jacinto Maximum Security Prison. Fenix narrowly escaped a death sentence for the egregious decision, saved only by a plea from lifelong friend Dominic Santiago and his spotless service record during the Pendulum Wars.3

Marcus Fenix Freed: (14 Years A.E.) Realizing what an asset Fenix offered, Dominic Santiago and the Delta Squad stepped in and freed him after four years of incarceration.3

Delta, Meet Alpha: (14 Years A.E.) The two surviving members of the eight-person Alpha Squad – Damon Barid and Agustus Cole – are rescued by Delta Squad. After Lieutenant Minh Young Kim is killed by General RAAM, Marcus Fenix is promoted to sergeant and Delta as we know it is born.3

Lightmass Bomb Detonated: (14 Years A.E.) After realizing that the sonic mapping device planted in the Hollow wasn’t up to task, Delta collected data compiled by Adam Fenix as a map for the Lightmass Bomb deployment.  Once General RAAM was bested, the Lightmass Bomb was detonated and took out a significant portion of the Locust tunnel network, in addition to eliminating the Krill breeding ground. This event marked a significant victory and boost in morale for the humans, even if the reprieve from active combat was brief.3

Unintended Consequences: While not as immediate a threat as a bullet to the chest, a condition known as Rust Lung was first introduced following the Lightmass Bomb detonation. The bomb thrust Imulsion vapor into the atmosphere, causing widespread fallout to plague civilians and Gears alike.

Sinkholes: (14 Years A.E.) Two neighboring cities of Jacinto called Tollen and Montevado collapse and sink deep into the earth, leaving behind a giant, circular lake.6 Unfolding several months after the Lightmass detonation, the events are unexpected and unexplained, but are translated as a sure sign of a Locust resurgence. Counter measures are planned.5

Operation Lifeboat: Realizing a resurgence of Locust requires an increase in troops, the COG put out a call to all able-bodied Stranded, promising food, a roof over their heads and protection for their family. This executive order succeeded in recruiting a good number of Stranded, but animosity between the two groups still ran rampant. Most of the Lifeboat conscripts were tasked with driving Assault Derricks during Operation Hollow Storm.6

Operation Hollow Storm: (15 years A.E.) In direct response to the sinking of Tollen and Montevado and the discovery of the massive Rift Worm, COG forces found it necessary to launch an all-out attack on the Hollow. Using the city of Landown as a point of entry – the ground being soft enough to deploy grindlifts – the COG confronted the Locust on their own turf. Delta was eventually able to take out the Rift Worm (from the inside-out, no less), but not before it sinks the city of IIima.3 This is also the setting for one of the more memorable moments in Gears 2, when Dom finds his long-lost wife Maria, only to be forced to euthanize her because of irreversible damage from Locust torture.

The Third Faction: During the second day of Operation Hollow Storm, Delta Squad infiltrated the capital of Nexus and discovered a civil war underway. A third faction – the Lambent Locust – appeared to have mutated from prolonged exposure to Imulsion. Taking advantage of the chaos, the COG forces and Delta team hatched a final, apocalyptic plan. Unfortunately, the Locust Queen seemed to have the same idea, except her endgame is to eradicate the “Lambent infection."


“The Coalition of Ordered Governments still exists, the rule of law still exists, and our social covenants still exist. We may no longer be in a state of war, but we still have a battle ahead to survive and rebuild, and in these difficult days there will be no tolerance of lawlessness and antisocial behavior. Unity defeated the Locust. But disunity will be the certain end of us all.”

          - Chairman Richard Prescott, speaking to the Jacinto’s remnant population

Having survived an assault from below, genocide from above, and years of hardship and toil, the sinking of Jacinto represented the end of civilization for surviving Serans. It was believed for a period of time that flooding the Hollows insured the survival of human kind.

Sinking of Jacinto: (15 years A.E.) Once again forced to make a massive sacrifice for survival, the COG government decided to sink the city of Jacinto in hopes of flooding the Hollow and wiping out the remaining Locust forces. The move evicted Jacinto’s remnant from their homes, however, leaving them unprepared for the bitterly cold winter ahead. All surviving civilians were directed to Port Farrall, an abandoned city to the north, where they stayed for seven weeks until a more permanent place of residence was found.5

Discovery of Vectes Naval Base: (15 Years A.E.) After coming to the conclusion that an island would be the best bet for unspoiled and relatively safe asylum, the remaining COG leaders began surveying nearby coasts for a suitable location. To their surprise, Delta Squad discovered the island of Vectes, finding it still populated with soldiers and civilians who escaped the orbital strikes unscathed. Having become self-sufficient after losing contact with the mainland, Vectes provided a new home for Sera’s denzins. Despite several tribes of aggressive stranded who were hesitant to share the island, humanity had cause for hope again.5

Return of Gorasnaya: (15 Years A.E.) In an unexpected turn of events, the COG is approached by the survivors of a small indie nation that refused to surrender at the end of the Pendulum Wars. Trading the use of a submarine and the location of Imulsion reserves for protection, the population of Vectes is augmented by several thousand.


Flash forward. Following the mass exodus from Jacinto and the discovery of Vectes, franchise lore hits a roadblock. We’re told that the pending third Gears novel – Anvil Gate – will continue to bridge the gap between Gears of War 2 and 3. We don’t know much about the resurgence of the Lambent, but what we do know can be found below.

Down, But Not Out: Believing they have eradicated all but the occasional straggling Locust – making their biggest threat hostile Stranded – survivors on Vectes begin to rebuild humanity on their island stronghold. The future looks bright until an infection begins to consume all of Sera. The Lambent – now powerful enough to terrify their Locust siblings – have returned. This time they’re not only after humanity. They intend to destroy the world.7

The Final Chapter: (16-17 Years A.E.) Gears of War 3 takes place 18 months after its forerunner, unfolding in the dead of summer. When Chairman Prescott inexplicably leaves, the decaying COG entity disbands, forcing Serans to revert to a tribal culture. Locusts and humans alike are all Stranded now. Epic’s debut Gears of War title detailed a battle. Gears 2 – a war. Gears 3 is about one thing. Survival.

Want to brush up on Gears lore for yourself? Epic has grown the IP to encompass several ancillary products – novels, comics, and more. Check out our compiled list of resources below.

  1. Destroyed Beauty: An Inside Look at Gears of War (Gears of War Limited Edition Incentive)
  2. Beneath the Surface: An Inside Look at Gears of War 2 (Gears of War 2 Limited Edition Incentive)
  3. Official Gears Of War Timeline
  4. Gears Of War: Aspho Fields (Karen Traviss)
  5. Gears Of War: Jacinto’s Remnant (Karen Traviss)
  6. Gears of War: Hollow (WildStorm Productions) 
  7. Gears of War: Anvil Gate (Karen Traviss)