Greetings and welcome to Sword of the Nation’s first lore preview. This, the first of several planned previews, will give you an initial glimpse of the main heroes of this upcoming tale: The Gestalt team.
Disclaimer: These previews aren’t 100% final and may be subject to change before the book is published, in addition to that, certain information will be withheld for spoiler purposes, and all graphics and imagery are to be considered placeholder until further notice. This is still a learning experience for me, so please excuse the bumps and turbulence.
Gestalt is an initiative spawned from the joint efforts between the Director of Vaifen’s National Intelligence Center, General James Exley, and the regent of Vaifen, King Sulwyn Starsong.
It was created out of the growing necessity for an elite group that could turn the tide against the extraordinary threats that the Nation of Vaifen faces—threats such as the Ashen Reckoning, who have unleashed a series of gruesome terrorist attacks upon the nation and its citizens.
It was envisioned as a small multidisciplinary team comprised of Vaifen’s finest sons and daughters, boasting bleeding edge technology unlike anything the nation has seen before, and with exceptional operating liberties that allow them to act in a more unrestricted manner when compared to Vaifen’s police, military, special forces, and other branches of the nation-state’s security apparatus.
The initial team is made of seven members: Five in the strike team, who are clad in advanced suits of armor (each with their own unique color), a quartermaster, and an operator, all of which carry out their duties under the watchful eyes of Director James Exley, who oversees the entire project.
Vaifen faces enemies both external and internal, and evidence suggests that the nation’s security forces cannot be trusted anymore, hence why Gestalt and its enclave operate completely separated from the rest of the nation’s security apparatus.
No expense was spared in the creation of Gestalt—the security and peace of Vaifen demanded it so.
The initiative is not without its detractors, for example, members of the Senate and those who oppose the rule of Starsong, who, upon seeing Gestalt in action, have no qualms in denouncing the team as nothing but the Crown’s armed thugs—an organization that while may be fighting a good fight against the greatest threat to Vaifen’s safety in recent times, ultimately answers only to the King and not to the people.
While each member comes from a different background and excels in their own areas, they all share a desire to do good, to protect others, and to bring peace to a nation under siege.
Hailed as one of his generation’s finest soldiers, Commander Erron John Leitner was the first to be recruited into the Gestalt fold to fill the leading role of the nascent strike team. Kind-hearted, charismatic, and always willing to face each and every day with a smile.
Of humble origins, Erron was born in Vaifen’s southern region of Jera, son to a hard-working farmer and a loving mother, and brother to a rebellious younger sister. Gifted with remarkable physical prowess, Erron stood at a crossroads towards the end of his high school education and a choice had to be made by the young graduate: To pursue a sports career or to join the military—he opted for the latter, much to the dismay of his family.
His astounding performance and discipline as an early cadet drew the immediate attention of General Michael Traxler, who didn’t hesitate to recruit him into the special unit that he founded and commanded: Silent Echo.
By blood, hard work, and sweat, Erron joined their ranks and rapidly exceeded Traxler’s wildest expectations, becoming the youngest person ever to join the infamous elite black ops group. His tenure on Silent Echo, while prolific, was rather short-lived; all details of those days remain sealed and completely confidential, much like the rest of the group’s actions.
Erron participated in several of the numerous operations carried out by Silent Echo, up until the tragic events that unfolded on the night of Operation Warm Daylight, a mission with catastrophic results that took place in the region of Nimir, where Silent Echo met its demise.
The circumstances and events that transpired that night remain a mystery to all but the top echelons of Vaifen’s governance. What little is known through hearsay is that on that night, all members of Silent Echo were meant to quell a small group of rebels in, but they were ambushed and brutally massacred—leaving Erron as the sole survivor.
The young soldier could only watch how his General, his mentor, sacrificed his own life so that Erron would live, it was the worst sunrise in Erron’s life.
Following the tragedy of Warm Daylight, all records regarding Silent Echo were sealed. Erron has immediately granted the rank of Commander, and honorably discharged—never to speak a word about what unfolded that night to anyone.
His reinsertion into civilian life was marked by peace and tranquility, which allowed the young man to heal and overcome the tragedy to the best of his ability, eventually returning to the farm that had belonged to his family for generations, until his father died of illness.
Erron moved to the city of Ternion with his mother and sister, and worked in the field of private security for a few years; while well remunerated, Erron often considered it an unfulfilling misuse of his talents and teachings—and so did others. General James Exley, aware of the young soldier’s prowess and talents, often kept an eye on the sole survivor of Silent Echo, he contacted Erron, and offered him a spot in the Gestalt project.
Once again, duty calls to a soldier of Vaifen, seven years after the events of Warm Daylight. Armed with the teachings of his mentor, the memories of the friends he lost that night, and his unshakable loyalty towards the Nation. Erron now finds himself clad in blue, leading a chromatic quintet that fights for peace and justice for all of the people of Vaifen.
The second person to be recruited into Gestalt. Gale is a former intelligence agent with an affinity towards infiltration, boasting a most unparalleled marksmanship and firearm proficiency. Her acumen and dexterity are only matched by her beauty, she was born in Vaifen’s coastal region of Talcea.
Many have heard the whispers of Gale’s weapons in the past—whispers in the form of bullets that carry her death sentence.
The daughter of a prosperous household, Gale was often at odds with what was expected of her. As a young teenager, she sought the thrill of being a scoundrel, which allowed her to develop a remarkable talent and a skillset that made her able to blend in and out at will, always getting what she wanted.
The adventures and experiences lived through her late adolescent years nurtured a path that led Gale towards the field of espionage right as she entered adulthood. As part of Vaifen’s intelligence apparatus she had to deal with death and espionage almost at a daily basis, employing her talents to undermine threats to the stability and security of the nation, the gathering of intelligence in other countries, and dispatching those that got in the way of Vaifen’s interests.
Her line of work often makes one cast off their moral principles and embrace an unscrupulous cloak that separates one from the ‘job’. Gale’s career came to a grinding halt when she made the mistake of mixing love with the mission, something that almost ended the spy’s life.
Yet, fate sought fit to bless Gale with the gift of life, in the form of a daughter, Lilly. Bringing her daughter to the world changed everything for Gale; raising Lily gave Gale a new perspective that allowed her to see and value life through a different lens.
The talents she accrued and sharpened over the years aren’t exactly motherly material, nonetheless, she is determined to be the best mother for her daughter. Lilly is her treasure—the purest thing—after so many missions, so many deaths, lies, and deceits.
It took General James Exley some convincing, but he managed to sway Gale into joining Gestalt. She now fights to protect her nation, so that her daughter can one day grow up in peace, and live a fulfilling life—staining her hands with blood so that her daughter won’t ever have to.
Gale is identified in Gestalt’s strike team with the color yellow, much like her blonde hair; while boasting sufficient hand-to-hand and close quarters combat experience, she prefers to take things from afar.
The third to have joined Gestalt’s strike team. Cade was born in a family with a long lasting and stalwart military tradition.
Through the years, the Saunders family has given Vaifen upstanding Generals, Admirals, and other officials in both the military and police forces. Thus, family tradition dictated that Cade enlisted in the military, just like his father, uncles, and grandfather did in their time.
Cade’s career path pivoted towards Vaifen’s Special Forces—an unheard path in his family’s lineage, where he performed remarkably and always with a sense of duty worthy of his family name. His choice of joining Special Forces wasn’t well received by his family, especially his father, who envisioned the young Cade as a General among Vaifen’s ranks.
What drove Cade to divert from his father’s designs? An unconscious desire to rebel? A sense of higher calling? The answer is something he’s never shared with anyone—and perhaps never will.
Trained in a multitude of firearms and combat tactics, Cade also opted to train in the role of combat medic. An impasse between Cade and his superiors at the time drew the attention of Exley, who found his outstanding performance more suited to Gestalt’s needs, depriving Special Forces of a most valuable member in the process.
Cade accepted the offer with pride and left away Vaifen’s Special Forces almost instantly. As someone raised with a high regard for meritocracy and a ‘by the book’ way of doing things, his expectations with regards to Gestalt often clash with the reality of the team—especially the relaxed nature of some of its members and the way some were selected, not to mention their past deeds.
While not fond of it, he was assigned the color green among the team; his stern nature means that he’s rarely seen smiling, if at all.
A young woman with an intoxicating energy, an unbound curiosity, a recklessness that has caused headaches to many in the past, a passion for singing, an even greater love of music, and prone to speak her mind—even during inappropriate times.
Cameron’s talents rest not in combat or military. Beneath the apparent immaturity that she exudes at a first glance, lies one of the most dangerous hackers on the planet.
To talk about Cameron is to talk about the rumored Rhapsody, a myth among the field of cybersecurity—the unicorn of hacking. No one could accurately prove the existence of Rhapsody, let alone the scope and size of their operation, yet, their works could be seen every now and then.
From unmasking criminals hidden in plain sight, cases of corruption, to casting a light over companies’ unethical practices, the list of attacks that can be potentially attributed to the Rhapsody are numerous, yet not a single one of them has been done with malicious intent or has caused harm to innocents—quite the opposite rather.
Those that have done harm and tried to hide their actions under the name of the Rhapsody are met with an ill fate, impersonation is not tolerated.
The myth of the Rhapsody continued as it was until one recent day, when one single analyst among dozens, was able to outwit Rhapsody. It was then when it was revealed that the Rhapsody was no group, just a single person: Cameron Bennett. Director Exley offered Cameron a deal, she would never be prosecuted for her actions as the Rhapsody as long as she agreed to join Gestalt and employ her talents for the good of the nation—to which she agreed. As an orphan, Cameron sees in her teammates the brothers and sisters that she never had.
Clad in a modified version of the original BS-100 Nightingale suit—now bathed in pink, she sings her song of control in the battlefield with the help of her SED-A10 Drones. Quartermaster Edram Pertz and Cameron are often trapped in a never ending competition; her incessant tinkering of her suit’s firmware security to make it run unsigned code and install a music player has made the quartermaster up the suit’s security over and over again.
It is a game for Cameron, a game that she says, will only end when the Quartermaster finally adds it as an official feature in the suit’s operating system.
The fifth and final piece of the strike team’s puzzle, and the overall central figure of this saga.
Bastiel’s life has always been atypical and marked by the legacy of his family from the moment of his birth. His father, Aeoros Isthal, was the instrumental actor in establishing an alliance between the Nasivern race and the Nation of Vaifen almost three decades ago, while his grandmother, Isthara, was the celebrated hero that helped bring down the Arghest Empire during the Nasivern race’s Age of Devastation.
The heroic deeds of his family are only known to Bastiel through the tales of others, as he was never able to meet them. His mother, father, and grandmother fell in battle during the fall of Nineveh—the darkest hour of the now near-extinct Nasivern race. His father’s last request to his friend, King Sulwyn Starsong of Vaifen, was that he’d take care of his infant child, to make sure that he lived a peaceful life; it was a promise that the troubled regent agreed to right before the man known as the Indigo Blaze charged towards his last stand.
Following the tragic events that decimated the Nasivern homeworld, King Sulwyn took care of Bastiel and raised him alongside his son and soon to be born daughter. Growing up among the Royal House of Starsong, Bastiel always felt like an odd piece out, as if he was aware that he lived in a world that wasn’t his to begin with. Nonetheless, he lived a joyful childhood life within the confines of the nation’s Crown and its luxuries, causing all sorts of mischief along with the royal heirs as the years went by.
King Sulwyn always aspired that Bastiel lived a good, fulfilling, and normal life—his father’s last wish, but the young white haired boy had a fateful encounter at the age of ten. This encounter led forth to a path towards the doctrine of the warriors that preceded him, and thus, Bastiel embarked on a long journey.
Year after year, the young child would travel to an undisclosed place in Vaifen and train in the ways of the Nasivern warriors and their Absolute Doctrine, hoping that one day he too would be able to become a hero worthy of their ancestral tradition. What he lacked in life’s social aspects was now heavily compensated by a keen warrior sense, a mastery of melee and unarmed combat, and an unshakable loyalty for the Nation of Vaifen and its Crown.
Even though he always struggled with the intricacies and nuances of what’s considered a normal life, Bastiel deeply cares for the royal heirs that he grew up alongside with, he harbors an absolute respect towards the King of Vaifen, and would stop at nothing to protect and help those that he has the blessing of calling friends.
Entranced by the stories and heroic tales of the fallen Nasivern, the young white haired man is burdened by a legacy that he feels obligated to respect and live up to; yet, the world of Orbis—and the Nation of Vaifen itself—is much different than the fallen Nasivern society, there’s little to no room for Nasivern heroes in a human world.
After graduating from high school, he found little to no interest in pursuing a professional career, dropping out of higher education. He continued to train and travel through the years, engaging in all sorts of exploits and antics alongside the two Royal Heirs, until he moved on his own. An itch bothered his mind, like a splinter that pierced through him—a desire to be a hero, and to employ that Absolute Doctrine that he was now close to mastering to do good in the world.
And so, he adapted his heroic dreams to a more down to earth reality and opted to craft a persona for himself, concealing his identity with a modified biker’s helmet, a jacket, and a red scarf.
Agito, he called it, spending night after night dispatching his own unsanctioned sense of justice, with more than a handful of close encounters with both sides of the law.
King Sulwyn Starsong, aware of the potential in Bastiel, his nature, and dreams, offered him the fifth spot in Gestalt’s strike team, an offer that the young man did not hesitate to accept. He became Gestalt’s fifth and the only one not directly recruited by General James Exley.
Clad in crimson red, armed with blades most sharp, wielding the legacy of his people, and ready to serve his nation and crown; Bastiel aims carve his own path in Vaifen’s history, just like his family did in the past, all whilst wielding the Absolute Doctrine of the Heirs of Sin that came before him to become a hero in a modern fragile world that he may not fully ever be a part of.
Stout, with a disregard for workspace order, and with an insatiable appetite for creation.
Eddie, as he’s affectionately referred to by his teammates, is Gestalt’s sole Quartermaster. Tasked and credited with the creation and maintenance of the entirety of the Gestalt Arsenal: the Battle Suits, the weapons, the gadgets, and even the Gestalt OS that links everything together.
One of Gestalt’s two Nasivern, Edram’s mother and most of his family died during the fall of Nineveh, while his father, Edorath Pertz, died years later in Vaifen after a catastrophic workplace accident.
He longs to restore the technology of his people, lost through centuries of strife and conflict; always seeking inspiration from the past in order to create the tools that shape a better tomorrow, that is his way of preserving the memory and legacy of the Nasivern race he belongs to—a race all but set to be extinct with time.
Looking into his father’s belongings one fateful morning, he stumbled upon an old photograph of his old man and his peers, standing behind two of the most renowned Nasivern Battle Armors of the time: The Acri and the Illustris.
That single photograph sparked a fire within the then aspiring engineer’s mind, setting his eyes upon one single goal: to bring back the glory of those technological suits to life once more—to go even further.
To that end, he began to create a full fledged proposal towards the end of his college education. His ambitious and zealous dream required a heavy amount of funding, which made Eddie do all sorts of things, indebting himself with dangerous people in the process.
His proposal envisioned a fully interlinked and automated battlefield solution that combined advanced technology to be wielded by nothing but the best of warriors. His unique proposal and his proof of concept PeRTZtech-BSX0 Battle Suit were not met with the reception he expected, nearly crushing the dreams of the soon to be engineer.
It did, however, called the attention of the General James Exley, acting on behalf of Vaifen’s regent, Sulwyn Starsong. Exley not only took care of Edram’s debt, he ‘got rid of the rest of the problems’ as well. As soon as Edram joined the then nascent Gestalt project, he was given a vast amount of resources to bring his vision to life.
To craft an individual suit based around the wearer, one that enhances the user’s own personal abilities and talents, that was Edram’s initial goal, but given the fact that the team had not been assembled yet, he had to scale down his ambitions and procure a single, unified series of suits for the first generation, which he nicknamed the Nightingale Series.
Edram takes pride in all of his creations, but he is aware that they lack a soul and a fighting spirit of their own, which is what their wielders provide. There are many lost mysteries of the Nasivern’s technology that he would love to unravel and restore. Fortunately for him, time is not a resource that he needs to concern himself with.
Nicknamed by Cameron Bennett as the “Smartest woman in the room” and with a natural talent for strategic forecast. The young Leah is among the Intelligence Center’s new generation of analysts and certainly one of the most unique there is.
Leah is also the only person that was able to do what many couldn’t: catch the Rhapsody, a feat that she cannot boast about publicly, which doesn’t bother her at all.
People are often difficult for the introverted woman—chaotic and noisy even, but numbers, patterns, plans, layouts, they’re all so clear to her, so beautiful, that’s where she finds order. Her personality is a polar opposite of Cameron’s, she is extremely shy and silent, but able to come out of her shell when she’s working on what she does best.
Leah is Gestalt’s guardian angel, the soft voice that guides the team during their missions. Exley has kept her under his wing for most of her career and trusts her enough to let her call the shots when possible—something that’s rather unheard of in the past.
The main architect of the Gestalt project.
James Exley is one of the most renowned names in Vaifen’s military and intelligence apparatus, a veteran of the war against the Svarzfal Republic—were the then young intelligence agent made his name known.
He is a man devoted to his work and his duty towards the Nation of Vaifen, with a shrewd mind, and one of the few people in the world with the rare privilege of having King Sulwyn Starsong’s absolute trust.
Recently placed at the head of Vaifen’s National Intelligence Center, he immediately began to shake down its core and rid it of the entropy that had plagued it for so long. His private life has always been shrouded in mystery; “He’s married to his job” is a jest that is often murmured among the halls of Vaifen’s National Intelligence Center.
Aware that the entire Vaifen’s security apparatus has been subject to corruption and cannot be trusted—the mishandling of the Ashen Reckoning being the most glaring piece of evidence of said hypothesis, James, along with King Sulwyn enacted a plan that aims to restore the peace that the nation enjoyed in the past, to preserve the present, and to ensure Vaifen’s rightful future.
And thus, the Gestalt plan took its first steps alongside the regent of the Nation, much to the distrust and complaints of his peers, whom he kept out of the loop. Exley’s strengths are not valued in physical terms, or even in military warfare strategy; he is a man of intelligence, with an astute mind when it comes to managing assets, selecting the right cards, and knowing when and how to play them for the benefit of the nation.
His meticulous selection of the Gestalt team is one of the most exemplary displays of Exley’s sagacious nature.
Whether or not his overly expensive plan and the team he constructed yields the immediate short-term positive results that Vaifen desperately needs—and the threat of the Ashen Reckoning and their leader, Dogma, is stopped once and for all, is something that will make or break James Exley’s name in the annals of Vaifen’s history.
I hope this initial preview of the main heroes in Sword, Sins, and Soul of the Nation (and beyond) was enticing to you.
If you want to know more about this upcoming book series please check out Sword’s hub page. Please stay tuned for more previews and info as I chart and walk the path towards publishing this dream of mine.
Until the next one!