Skiad Ops Gash
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The twenty-eight year old1 Gash hardly had an imposing physique for a leader, as not only was he of a quite diminutive size but he had lost his right hand in the past; the right side of his face was also hidden behind a mask, likely to cover extensive scaring. Gash’s right eye was apparently missing too, which gave the title “Shadow Eye” a somewhat ironic ring for him. Regardless of his disabilities, his fellow Seekers evidently did not find it hard to respect so decisive and determined a man. His misleading appearance would be just another asset in concealing his true nature from the outside world.
Some time after the events of Panzer Dragoon Zwei, Jean Jacque Lundi - the first rider of the Heresy Dragon - joined the reclusive society known as the Seekers. The Seekers had been studying the mysteries of the Ancient Age for nearly two hundred years, but as the dragon had imparted considerable amounts of Ancient knowledge to Lundi before he left him, Lundi realised that he would be able to help the Seekers greatly in their quest for understanding. Lundi took on the name “Endow” amongst them, and evidently he fitted in well with the like-minded Seekers. Endow eventually rose to a place of authority in Seeker culture, taking on the title “Skiad Ops” (or “Shadow Eye”), a term that reflected the dark and mysterious nature of a Seeker leader. The Seekers had many secluded villages and settlements throughout the world where they gathered and researched the relics of the Ancients, and Endow became the leader of one such village.
Endow also came to be the mentor of a man named Gash, who was perhaps even more fiercely determined than himself to end the influence of the Ancient Age. It was Gash who eventually took Endow’s place as the leader of that village, presumably after his master’s death.
A drawing of Gash.
The Empire and the peoples of the Frontier knew little of the Seeker’s true nature, taking them to be only a band of disorganised outlaws who pillaged the ruins of the Ancient Age. The typical black and red Seeker clothes that Gash wore and the familiar tattoo around his eye would make him seem like just another insignificant Seeker rogue to all but his own people.
The Seekers’ knowledge of events in the current world was extensive and their eyes were everywhere, constantly in search of anything that could give them an advantage over the ruthless Empire and the violent legacies of the Ancient Age. When they discovered that the dragon had returned to the world and that it had taken a new rider, the Seekers were quick to act, knowing that this could be their opportunity to enlist the dragon - and the immense power that it represented - in their struggle against the will of the Ancients. Gash himself set out and meet this mysterious new dragon rider.
Gash’s Role in Panzer Dragoon Saga
Gash first encountered Edge in the bleak valleys to the north of the Imperial excavation site where the dragon had found him. At that moment in time Gash was being chased by an enormous mutated monster called an arachnoth, but it is unclear if the Seeker was in genuine danger, or if he was just inviting the young dragon rider prove his character and abilities. In any case, Edge did indeed swoop in to defend Gash from the beast (although his coolia perished), and with the power of the Heresy Dragon he was able to overcome the arachnoth.
An arachnoth chases Gash.
Gash thanks Edge for saving his life.
When Gash introduced himself to the young dragon rider, it became apparent that Edge’s knowledge of the Seekers was fortunately as lacking as could be expected. The wily Gash was in no hurry to divulge their secrets however, so he merely asked a small favour of Edge for now: the Coolia that he had been riding was killed during the battle with the arachnoth, so Gash asked if Edge could transport him to a nearby village.
Gash’s subtle plans apparently met an unexpected shock at the village of Cainus though, as the lively settlement that he had expected to find was now deserted, its buildings nothing more than broken ruins. With night quickly deepening over the wasted landscape, Gash convinced Edge that they should rest there until morning; he had no desire to leave without discovering the fate that had befallen Cainus.
The ruins of Cainus.
Gash in Cainus.
Settled around a blazing campfire, the two talked long into the night. Gash did not seem displeased as he learned more about the young dragon rider, and he even admitted that the motivation for Edge’s quest - revenge - was “as good a reason as any”. The Seeker was unsettled when he chanced across a message left in the ruins though, a message revealing the true nature of Cainus’ destruction. The renegade Imperial commander K. F. Craymen - the very man whom Edge sought - had driven hordes of monsters into Cainus from the surrounding wastelands, leaving its inhabitants overwhelmed. Edge was well on Craymen’s trail already, without even realising it.
The next day, as Gash was once again in the middle of nowhere without transportation, Edge agreed to give him a lift across the Garil Desert. As the Seekers had performed some excavations in the Garil Desert in the past, Gash was quite familiar with the area and the monsters that inhabited it, and he was able to give Edge some guidance. The young dragon rider saw them through danger admirably, as before, and near the other end of the desert Edge’s dragon even underwent its first metamorphosis: proving to Gash, if he had any kind of doubt, that this was indeed the dragon he was searching for.
Edge and Gash fly over an oasis.
Edge and Gash go their seperate ways.
Beyond the desert Gash saw fit to part company with Edge, at least for the time being. Edge could clearly handle himself, and Gash was long overdue in returning to his people. The Seekers were somewhat pessimistic when it came to individuals not showing up on time, and Gash was likely running a risk of being presumed dead.
To help Edge on his way, Gash gave him a blue necklace that would let others identify him as one of his friends, then he departed. Edge likely never expected to meet Gash again in the vastness of the Frontier, but the Seekers who were Gash’s eyes and ears kept a keen eye on the dragon rider as he journeyed from place to place, without him even suspecting it.
Unfortunately for Gash, the Seekers had some immediate problems that needed careful attention. It seemed that the Empire had finally located the wreckage of Shelcoof, the flying Tower that Lundi had destroyed many decades ago. Shelcoof now hovered over the sea of Georgius in a semi-repaired state, brought aloft again by its own automated repair equipment. The Empire was as hungry as it ever was for new and more powerful technologies, and the Imperials were scavenging what they could from the great vessel.
A lone battleship left the Imperial site, towing a deadly burden along with it. The Empire had discovered Shelcoof’s long-dead Guardian Dragon, a monstrously powerful bio-engineered creature from the Ancient Age, which Shelcoof’s repair systems had also partially restored. The battleship was presumably going to tow the great beast back to the Empire, where it could be studied by the researchers of the Imperial Academy.
Gash breaks into the Imperial Ship.
Whatever Gash’s original plans may have been though, his realisation that the Empire had captured Edge - and that they were interrogating him on that departing battleship - called for new ones. The battleship lifted high above the clouds, and the Imperial interrogators eventually gave up on the strong-willed Edge, leaving him alone and unconscious in a locked room. Gash took this opportunity to slip down from his hiding place in the metalwork of the ceiling, and he released the young dragon rider from his bonds.
The Guardian Dragon.
Escaping onto the deck of the ship, Edge was reunited with his dragon; Gash rode with him once again, and Edge tried to take down the Imperial ship. Before he was able to disable the craft though, the Guardian Dragon awakened and tore the ship apart with its own lasers.
Edge needed little encouragement from Gash to know that the Guardian Dragon needed to be destroyed, and thankfully the weakened monster could not match the power of his own dragon. When the pair returned safely to Edge’s campsite though, Gash was forced to part company with Edge once again; a Seeker’s life evidently gave few chances for rest.
It was some considerable time later that Gash sent one of his messengers out to intercept Edge, to finally summon the young dragon rider to his stronghold. Current events regarding the renegade commander Craymen, the Tower of Uru and the drone named Azel were evidently turning out worse than the Seekers had hoped. Craymen had actually succeeded in activating the long-dormant Tower of Uru, and the Tower had resumed its millennia-old programme of oppression; hordes of bio-engineered monsters had been released from the great structure, and they were spreading across the nearby lands, viciously subduing all human resistance.
The awakening of the Tower so that the will of the Ancients could be carried out upon the peoples of the world was something that the Seekers fundamentally opposed. There was hope in all this, however, as a possible means of salvation had been delivered into the Seekers’ hands; Edge arrived at the stronghold with Azel, the drone who had awakened the Tower, unconscious in his arms; Gash’s people were quick to set about stabilising her condition.
A projection of the Tower.
Gash in the Seekers Stronghold.
In their endless studies of Ancient records the Seekers had uncovered information regarding Sestren, the data network that was linked to all of the Towers. Within the Sestren network dwelled the central being that ultimately controlled the Towers of the world, and at the heart of every Tower was a data transformation gateway that acted as a passage into Sestren.
If Edge and the Heresy Dragon were able to pass through the gateway in the Tower of Uru, and if they could destroy Sestren, the Towers of the world would sleep. The Seekers required Azel for this purpose; created in the Ancient Age to psychologically merge with the Tower’s systems, Azel would be able to open that gateway.
Another picture of Gash.
Gash himself seemed to have little warmth for Azel though, despite her intellect being easily comparable to that of a human, and despite the human emotions that she had also acquired due to her highly advanced nature. None of this seemed to move Gash; the hatred that he felt for the Ancient Age and all its creations evidently ran deep within his mind, and Azel was likely just another reminder of everything that he had learned to despise.
The Seekers planned to help Edge in his ultimate attempt to reach the heart of the active Tower, but they had more immediate troubles of their own. It was not long before their stronghold came under attack from the bio-engineered creatures that the Tower had unleashed; the battle resulted in many Seeker casualties, and Gash was forced to have second thoughts about his plans.
The Seekers say goodbye to the dead.
Although the culmination of all that he had hoped for was just over the horizon, Gash was a practical man at heart; he knew that the lives of his people were too important to waste on a mere chance. The Seekers were in no state to help Edge in his mission to reach Sestren, and Gash was ready for Edge to abandon the plan altogether so that they could escape from the region and survive. Perhaps they could attempt to reach Sestren one day, he decided: but only years or decades into the future, when the Seekers’ forces had grown and they were better equipped to take on the horror of the Tower.
Edge and Azel felt that things were not so hopeless, however. They recognised that the Seekers must indeed leave the area for their own safety, but they believed that the Heresy Dragon alone would be enough to give them safe passage to the Tower’s heart.
Edge tells Gash of his plans to stop Sestren.
Edge and Azel knew that their actions would probably lure many of the Tower’s bio-engineered creatures away from the surrounding lands, giving the Seekers a better chance to escape to safety. The Seeker leader saw the sense in these words, but he still feared for the safety of his friend. Gash made Edge promise that - if he was able to overcome the horrors of Sestren, and return with his life - he would rendezvous with the Seekers in the valley where the two of them first met.
Edge never did make it to that rendezvous. Time would show the world that he had indeed been successful in his mission, but Gash waited on the outskirts of that desert a long time for Edge, convinced that he would return. In the end Gash knew that he could not ignore the needs of his people though, and he resolved that they should leave.
Gash waits for Edge to return.
Was that the sound of wings?
Standing alone in the desert, Gash closed his eyes; he was unable to admit to himself that Edge was truly gone. In the silence, a strange sound seemed to come down from the winds, though, if only for a moment; a sound like the beating of a dragon’s wings. But Gash was still alone, staring into the blue light of the sky.