- "That's what freaks me out more than anything. Grubs- you knew they could think. But these things- they're just animals. Or plants even, like the damn stalks. What's driving them? What do they want? They're not even eating us."
- —Sgt. Drew Rossi, reflecting on the nature of the Lambent
The Lambent, or 'glowies' as the Serans would later come to call them, are a race of semi-sentient mutants made up of any living organism infected by Imulsion. Lambency is caused by constant exposure to Imulsion, and has the ability to subvert and mutate its host, robbing them of their free will and transforming them into a mindless, heartless killing machine with no other goal save to spread the infection. Upon death, all Lambent organisms explode and release the large store of Imulsion in their bodies due to the volatile nature of their rapidly mutating physiology. This allows for further infections to occur as fresh Imulsion begins exuding toxic fumes into the air around nearby organisms, replenishing the ranks even as hey are diminished.
While Imulsion poisoning, in the case of Rustlung, was discovered and studied extensively during the early years of the Pendulum Wars, the Lambent themselves weren't discovered until much later. The first known case of Lambency was discovered by Doctor Elain Fenix after recovering an infected Rock Shrew from the Hollow in 17 B.E., though her findings were never published. By 7 B.E., the Locust Horde began a war with their infected brethren. Queen Myrrah of the Locust Horde employed the assistance Professor Adam Fenix, husband of the now late-Dr. Elain Fenix, to cure the Lambency, which he was unable to do. The Locust Horde were then forced to invade and colonize the surface in order to escape the Lambent.
Publicly, the Lambent were discovered by the COG after the Locust invaded the surface and waged war against humanity. Lambent Wretches emerged with the Locust Horde as well during the beginning of the Locust War. In 14 A.E., Lambency grow to into a pandemic due to the sinking of Jacinto City, which caused large quantities of Imulsion to rise into the soil and leak into the oceans, saturating the planet with the volitile substance. The Lambent were eliminated in Bloom, 17 A.E., when Professor Adam Fenix detonated the Imulsion Countermeasure Weapon, a targeted-radiation wave aimed at killing Imulsion cells - vaporizing all Lambent and Imulsion lifeforms and ending the pandemic..
The Lambent organism lies within the Imulsion and spreads through Imulsion fumes, which acclimated after the Lightmass Process. The organism acts as a parasite and will kill its host rather than eject and find another. The parasite does, however, possess its host to spread the infection. Infected plant life acts as transport and fruiting bodies for other forms of Lambent to spread while infected animal life mobilizes and actively seeks to infect other living forms.
Lambency in organisms is followed in stages. The first stage of Lambency is infection. However, the Lambent organism is rather dormant unless exposure to Imulsion is constant. By 17 A.E., every living organism on the face of Sera was infected with the first stage of Lambency.
After consistent exposure to Imulsion, the host begins to develop the second stage of Lambency, which is a form of Rustlung, a condition that would incur death until Lambency evolved to properly colonize the cells of a particular species.
People with Rustlung often had a productive cough and rust brown colored phlegm. Other symptoms included trouble or labored breathing, chest pain, joint pain, weakness, hemorrhaging, headache, loss of speech, hair loss, accelerated nail growth, eye discoloration, sterility, nausea, vertigo, insomnia, paranoia, and increased aggression.
Fever and intense muscle pain are symptoms that those with Rustlung are developing into Lambency, as the Imulsion colonizes the host's cells and begins to heat the body.
The final stage is Lambency. The Imulsion completely colonizes the host's cells. The veins of the host illuminate with the golden hue of Imulsion. The heat begins to burn the skin and cartilage - blackening the skin into necrotic tissue. Mutations also occur, such as vestigial limbs and appendages, as well as defensive physical traits. The parasite possesses the host and aims to kill and infect other beings. The behavior and personality of the host can survive Lambency, but it is trapped within their body as it is controlled by the Imulsion parasite.
At the end of the host's life-cycle, the host will explode to release the Imulsion within in order to infect non-Lambent organisms within its vicinity. At times, the Imulsion would mobilize after the death of its host and move to another. Otherwise, the fumes from the explosion would carry Imulsion spores to other lifeforms, ensuring the continued spread of the infection.
Discovery of the Infection
Around a century before Emergence Day, the substance known as Imulsion was considered to be more of a scientific curiosity than a practical resource after its discovery, and was essentially useless until Dr. Helen Cooper created the Lightmass Process. The process was capable of refining Imulsion into an efficient energy source. In the early years, scientists had no reason to consider Imulsion a parasite or a living being at all.
Sometime later, in the early years of the Pendulum Wars, COG officials and scientists such as Niles Samson, discovered poisoned, infected Imulsion miners. In order to cure the Lambency for continued use of the fuel, the New Hope Research Facility was opened to attempt to find a cure for Lambency. However, Niles, after discovering that one test subject, Myrrah, was immune to Imulsion, began experimenting on the people infected with Lambency, ultimately creating the Sires. Eventually, due to information leaks, recent attacks by the Sires, and failures to find a cure, New Hope was decommissioned as well as the project, and all sources related were erased. This information, however, carried on about the health risk with Imulsion with Chairmen and COG officials. This would remain secret until a public discovery in 15 A.E. Niles, some of his test subjects and all of his research were relocated by a Fringe COG Party to a secret laboratory beneath Mount Kadar where he continued his experiments, eventually creating the Locust Horde.
The Lambent and the Locust eventually entered into a war with each other over control of the Hollow. With the Lambent spreading, they began driving the Locust Horde into extinction, and a desperate Queen Myrrah entered into a pact with Adam Fenix; if he could find a solution to the Lambent infection, the Locust Horde would not have to invade the surface. Unfortunately, the Pendulum Wars forced Adam to create another weapon to help the COG instead of the Locust Horde, taking up his time to make a countermeasure weapon against the Lambent. By the time the Hammer of Dawn was completed, the Locust Horde was preparing to invade the surface after the Pendulum Wars ended. With the Locust losing ground against the Lambent, General RAAM pushed for an invasion of the surface by the Locust, a plan that Myrrah agreed with.
Fourteen years after E-Day, during the Lightmass Offensive, Delta-One discovered Lambent Wretches for the first time at the Lethia Imulsion Facility and engaged them while trying to gain access to the Hollows and deploy the Sonic Resonator. The Lambent Wretches were reported to have been seen before by the COG and had in fact been seen six weeks after Emergence Day during the Destruction of Halvo Bay. Unlike the rest of the Lambent, the Lambent Wretches did not appear to be hostile to the Locust and worked with them on the Tyro Pillar. Their presence there may have just been coincidental, as while they did attack, they didn't attack at the same time as the Locust.
During the Siege of Nexus, Delta-One infiltrated Nexus and discovered that the Locust were already engaged in an urban battle with the Lambent. At the time, the COG did not know the full effect of the Lambent infection. With the Horde losing ground to the Lambent, the COG discovered how they were able to make great progress in the Hollows, because the Locust were split losing on their home front. Sgt. Marcus Fenix later discovered a Locust defense plan of the city of Nexus showing that the Lambent were attacking from under the city. During the battle, Augustus Cole killed a Lambent Drone which didn't explode and its Imulsion moved on its own up a cliff to the other Lambent Drones there. Later, the squad used the Hammer of Dawn to detonate the Lambent Brumak to sink Jacinto and flood the Hollows.
Several months after the sinking of Jacinto and the flooding of the Hollow, the Lambent infection spread to the surface. By this time, they had developed the capability to appear all over the place through the Lambent Stalks and deploying various different forms. Although at first believed by COG to only infect Locust, Formers - humans infected by Imulsion - begin to appear in areas such as Mercy. Adam Fenix developed a weapon capable of destroying Imulsion and all those that were heavily infected by it, thus the Lambent and the Locust, but Adam was captured by the Queen's Guard during the First Battle of Azura before he could activate it. When the remnants of the COG and the Gorasni launched an attack on the island, the Lambent attacked as well, battling everyone present. Eventually Adam managed to activate the weapon and a wave of Drudges were sent to try to stop him, but were killed by the weapon before they could succeed. The weapon was successfully activated and destroyed all Imulsion and everything infected by it, including Adam, the Locust and all Lambent lifeforms, marking the end of the Locust War and Lambent Pandemic.
The Lambent consist of an organic root parasite that infects other organisms, causing them to rapidly mutate into impulse-driven, feral and monstrous forms of their former selves. This parasite is linked to the Imulsion fluid that exists on Sera, as exposure to Imulsion vapors seemed to be what causes the Lambent infection. This was illustrated when Locust Gunboats abandoned their pursuit of Delta Squad over the lake in the Hollow in order to avoid the vapors, and also when a Brumak wandered through a large quantity of Imulsion vapors and mutated into a hideous, stronger form.
The most basic form is known as a Lambent Polyp, which has a crab-like appearance and is normally spewed from Lambent hosts after they have been destroyed or have mutated.
Lambent Stalks are huge plant-like tentacles that swarm over battle sites, dropping other Lambent forms into their enemies' midst. They appear to be the fruiting bodies of organic Imulsion material in the planet that carry other Lambent life forms to spread the infection on the surface. These are massive and easily differentiated from the smaller mutation of the Lambent Drudges. The opening level of Gears of War 3 involves Lambent Stalks rising out of the ocean, dropping other Lambent into the CNV Sovereign. The Stalks attack by ramming into a target and releasing Polyps.
Lambent Wretches were the first encountered Lambent life forms. Delta Squad first ran into them in the Lethia Imulsion Factory on the Jacinto Plateau.
The Lambent Brumak is the largest known Lambent creature. They are at least double the size of a regular Brumak, sporting large, snapping tentacles, and are barely recognizable once the mutation is complete. It is incredibly powerful and takes multiple blasts from the Hammer of Dawn to kill. There has only been one encountered and it is possibly unique.
The Lambent Leviathan were infected Leviathans that found its way out of the Hollow and surfaced in 15 A.E. It is much larger and faster than a regular Leviathan, but is also very volatile. Three attacked Vectes, leading to the Battle of Pelruan and the First Battle of New Jacinto. One was killed when a Raven unloaded all of its ammo into its head, another was killed by a combined torpedo attack from the Zephyr and the CNV Clement, while the third was killed by a blast from the Hammer of Dawn. All three of the Leviathans carried Polyps which attacked Pelruan and New Jacinto. Later, another one Lambent Leviathan attacked New Jacinto and was killed by a grenade being dropped down its throat by Marcus Fenix after being forced to the surface by makeshift depth charges.
During the final days of the Lambent Pandemic, a massive Lambent Leviathan, stated to be twice the size of the others previously encountered, attacked the CNV Sovereign at the same time as Polyps, Lambent Drones and Lambent Drudges attacked with the help of Lambent Stalks. After Delta-One pushed the Leviathan under Centennial Bridge using Silverbacks, Delta-Two dropped a whole crate of Tickers on its head from the bridge. The Lambent Leviathan was killed, but the explosion from its death destroyed both the Sovereign and Centennial Bridge.
Lambent Drones are Drones that have been exposed to Imulsion enough to become Lambent but not long enough to mutate into Drudges. Lambent Drones essentially share the same appearance to their Locust counterparts, with the exception of their glowing skin. During the Lambent Pandemic, the Drones have a slightly different appearance, similar to an amalgamation of the Drones encountered in Nexus and Drudges, hinting that Drudges are the next stage in a Drone's mutation.
The Lambent Drudge, a hideously mutated Locust Drone, is the most recognizable part of the Lambent fighting force. However, these creatures have lost all form of sentience. They have the ability to morph their ligaments and heads, forcing their enemies to constantly change tactics, and becoming a deadlier threat.
Lambent Berserkers can spawn from the Lambent Stalks. They are bigger, faster, more violent than their standard counterpart, and they jump unlike the original Berserkers. They have long spider-like appendages that sprout from their backs and have been shown to be much less vulnerable to the Hammer of Dawn than normal Berserkers; able to take three simultaneous blasts without significant injury. Only one Lambent Berserker was ever encountered by COG forces.
A Gunker was a Lambent-infected Butcher Boomer. The Gunkers had their right arms mutated onto their Butcher Cleavers while their left arms mutated into a spoon-like hand which poured and hurled balls of Imulsion from afar while their right cleaver arm was used to extend and mutate, killing their victims. They were first encountered during the Misson to Hanover by Cole's squad.
Formers are humans turned Lambent after prolonged exposure to Imulsion. During the Lambent Pandemic, cities that had major Imulsion refineries, like Mercy and Char, were the first cities to have their citizens turn Lambent. Halvo Bay also had Formers, particularly survivors who had taken refuge in a Beached Imulsion Rig.
- "We cannot allow the Lambent to pollute the surface. We must bury their infection here!"
- —Queen Myrrah
The Locust Horde and the Lambent are in a state of war and fighting for control of the Hollow. Queen Myrrah regards the Lambent as an infection to the Locust Horde and lower life forms, and that it is the duty of the Locust to stop the spread of the Lambent parasite to the surface of Sera. The Lambent is also the reason that the Locust invaded the surface: the Lambent were driving them from the Hollow.
In reality, the Locust Horde's origins are partially traced back to the Lambent due to Doctor Niles Samson's experiments on humans infected with Rustlung leading to the creation of the Sires and later the Locust.
The Humans now view the Lambent as a huge threat to the society of the Serans, and now attempt to stop them at all costs. The Lambent also find the humans as a new source of "species barrier" jumping as said by Marcus Fenix when first finding Formers in the sewers of Mercy. The Lambent is the reason why the humans are on full alert to them, most notably because of the Imulsion Countermeasure Weapon. The Lambent continue to amaze the humans, espically with the newer and deadlier lifeforms such as the Lambent Berserker, Drudges and Formers.
The Lambent make an appearance in Horde 2.0 as well. They consist of the above-mentioned creatures, except the Lambent Animals, and the Lambent Brumak, with a Lambent Berserker or two spawning in boss waves just like the uninfected variant. It is strange that the Locust and Lambent disregard each other and focus their attention on the players; however, they will turn on each other if one side's shots hits the other side.
Behind the Scenes
- Queen Myrrah was the first to refer to the glowing, infectious organism as Lambent.
- It is unknown if the Lambent have some sort of hivemind, as they always attempt to stop the Gears throughout Gears of War 3. This is evidenced when the Warehouse Stranded Leader says how tons of Lambent start appearing when the COG show up, and how the Stadium Leader blames the COG for getting their home overrun because of them.
- The Lambent may have been inspired from Bungie's Halo series as there is a counterpart to them; the Flood. Both are infectious parasites that attack and kill their victims, only to possess their bodies to spread their plague. When infected, both have their skin colors turn into jet black (Lambent) or decaying flesh (Flood). When the vessel is destroyed, both leave none or little remains behind.
- Lambency resembles the real-world Cordyceps, a parasitic fungus that infects and possesses its host to expel fungal spores and infect other members of their colony. Imulsion is also a parasitic fungal organism that infects its host through vapors, which act as spores - and the Lambent Stalks also act as fruiting bodies to further spread the Imulsion spores. The Lambent explode upon death in a last attempt to spread the Imulsion and, therefore, spread Lambency - similar to how Cordyceps hosts expel spores from their corpses.
- A Pendulum Wars Story (Indirect mention only)
- The Rise of RAAM
- Gears of War: Judgment
- The Slab
- Gears of War (First appearance)
- Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
- Aspho Fields (Mentioned only)
- Gears of War 2
- Dirty Little Secrets
- Jacinto's Remnant (Mentioned only)
- Anvil Gate
- Coalition's End
- Gears of War 3
- Ephyra Rising (Mentioned only)
- Gears of War 4 (Multiplayer only)
- Gears 5 (Multiplayer only)