23, July 14th, 1891
A Darcsen out of New Bedford, Vinland
Alex is fighting a losing battle against the trenches to preserve his appearance. Understanding that he will never be able to achieve parade conditions while at the front he settles for simply doing the best that he can under the circumstances. Instead of keeping his buttons and belt buckle shining and thus making himself a target he just tries to keep them mostly free of rust. Similarly his boots and uniform can never truly be free of stains, just kept from losing all of their original color.
The only nonstandard addition to his dress is the shawl he wears wrapped around his shoulders, the Darcsen pattern visible for all to see along with the color of his hair.
War is an adventure, the chance for a young man to experience fear and summon bravery not often seen in civilian life. To Alex the outbreak of this Europan conflict is the greatest opportunity he's been given. As a gentleman and a soldier his first priority is presenting himself properly, keeping cool and collected under fire so as to set a good example for his subordinates. As such he refuses to treat combat as anything other than exhilarating sport, taking in the exercise with a determined smile. The only downside to the war in his mind is that instead of serving as a cavalryman as intended he's been relegated to shooting at faraway targets that will never see him coming. This chivalrous (or perhaps simply foolhardy) outlook should not be mistaken for carelessness nor his disdain for sniping as an urge to shirk his duties. Alex is devoted to doing his part to win the war, seeing the Imperial's aggressions against Gallia as a slight that cannot go unanswered.
Alex sees his heritage as something to be proud of but not particularly relevant to his day to day life.. He's happy to talk about himself or Darcsen culture if asked and quick to defend it when slighted.
M1912 Fielder, Marksmen Variant: The standard Fielder equipped with a x9 scope and the option to fit a suppressor.
Turner-Cable Pistol:A gift from Alex's father.
Model 1909 Saber: The sword Alex used during his days as a cavalryman. Made almost entirely obsolete by his role but kept around out of sentimentality and the occasional enemy trench raid.
Fielder Bayonet: For cutting things that need to be cut.
Valkur: A former mercy dog although it would be impossible to tell from his temperament. Used to carry ammo, run messages and shred Imperials that get to close to his master Alex choose the name out of a sardonic wish to harness the savagery that decimated his people.
Dog Biscuits: Carried purely for Valkur's benefit.
Cigars: For Alex's benefit.
Kim's Game: An excellent memory and an eye for detail makes Alex as good a scout as he is a spotter. A pastime of his is looking through his scope to try and figure out what those damned Imperials are doing over on their side of the battlefield.
Revenge of the Old Ways: A former cavalry man who blames the advancement of military science for the decline of his beloved service, Alex takes out his anger upon those who roles illustrate the changing times best. Enemy sappers, snipers and gunners tend to be put in his sights before the average rifleman.
Blue-Blooded: Fluent in the Imperial language as well as possessing a solid grounding in a number of studies and coming from a respectable family line, Alex sees himself as a gentleman before a soldier. He treats subordinates and superiors with respect and expects the same to be given to him, as befitting someone of his standing.
Proud Darcsen: There's very few Darcsens in Vinland, the vast majority of them gathered in a few enclaves on the east coast. This low visibility means that there's little in the way of de jure or de facto discrimination against them due to the fact that they're rarely in the public mind. Growing up privileged without experiencing what his Europan brethren go through means that Alex reacts badly to perceived slights against his heritage. Officers can get away with it as a matter of rank but the enlisted man cannot.
High Velocity: Being accurate is one thing, being quick is another. Alex is a mix of both, sighting targets and putting shots downrange in mere moments before moving onto the next with workmanlike efficiency.
The Schäfers had first fled the Empire then all of Europa in an attempt to escape the entrenched anti-Darcsen attitudes, finding a home in Vinland where the low amount of so-called "dark hairs" meant that there was little in the way of purges or organized discrimination. It was a place they could start fresh, build themselves up without fear of being torn down. The Schäfer clan spread out, going into business and making a place for themselves in Vinland's burgeoning society.
Three hundred or so years later the family was almost totally removed from its fearful origins, them and the other Darcsen enclaves seen more as curiosities than real threats. Alex was born into this separation from the past, the scion of a successful banking clan born in a nursery that looked out onto the family estate.
His childhood was similar to that of any blueblood: wanting for nothing but freedom. Despite there being no risk of his being attacked for his heritage Alex was still the son of a family fearful of kidnapping due to their wealth and status His free time between studies and exercise was spent walking around the family manor with a hunting dog or listening to the stories told by older relatives, activities that could be monitored by any number of chaperones and servants whose job it was to keep the boy out of trouble.The closest thing he had to an escape was when he was allowed to go out riding or hunting, the boy showing an aptitude for equestrianism and marksmanship that would remain with him throughout his life. But even those trips were supervised, the woodsmen the family kept on payroll always close by.
As was common for children of his class Alex was sent to boarding school, spending years twelve to seventeen continuing his education while coming home every summer. The months spent away only increased the distance between himself and his family, the Schäfers slowly being replaced by Darcsen culture as a whole as his support net. His patterned scarfs and strangely colored hair marked him out as a person of interest to his peers, classmates who had never met a Darcsen poking and prodding for information. In a school full of upper class inheritors and future politicians Alex had something that made him stand out from the bunch.
Graduating from boarding school at seventeen, Alex really only had two options available to him. HIs branch of the Schäfer family had all been officers, business leaders or both and the weight of generations worth of peer pressure was simply too much for him to bear. Over the course of his first year out he engaged in a whirlwind courtship with a woman named Eliza (organized more by their parents out of practical reasons than they had for love) and prepared himself for military life.
Now married and eighteen years old Alex joined Vinland’s cavalry, the old riding lessons being updated for use on the battlefield. The military gave Alex another identity to hold onto, the young soldier taking pride in his service. The tradition of cavalry stretched back into ancient history, a long and storied lineage that he immersed himself in. The sense of camaraderie and honor he experienced in his regiment was effectively another replacement for the companionship he lacked as a boy.
As he worked his way through the enlisted ranks Alex’s relationship with his family got stronger, his parents seeing his eagerness to serve as indicative of their good parenting. He might not have been destined for a career in finance or trade but he would at least honor his country. His marriage suffered, already somewhat strained and made worse by his absence. He and Eliza had originally felt some sort of affection for each other despite their union having been set up outside of their control but as they saw less and less of each other it devolved into a more or less cordial facade.
Their affairs were open secrets, each knowing about the other’s but not bothering to bring it up. In fact, Alex was rather pleased that Eliza found someone she could actually enjoy her time with because it made his decision to accept a drastic shift in career that much easier.
Given the opportunity to serve as an attache to Gallia’s 4th Lancers Regiment and an increase in rank to match Alex packed his bags and made his way over to Europa, seeing it as a chance to see new sights if nothing else. Upon arrival he learned that he had been transferred into the ‘Chevaliers d’Arlem’ to serve as their platoon sergeant by the request of the lieutenant himself.
Perhaps due in part to the similarity of their names Alex took a liking to the younger Alexandre. The officer asked him to share information about his culture with the men and he did so gladly, taking to the impromptu anthropological lectures just like he had back in school. His commanding officer might have been inexperienced but Alex remained steadfast, gladly riding out with the rest of the Chevaliers when the Imperial Alliance invaded.
He was optimistic about the first engagement even as they prepared for battle. The plan was solid, backed by training and sheer force of will. The thundering of hooves would drive the Imperials away from the river and shred their lines, an unstoppable stampede crushing all under foot.
But it was not to be. de Bihain’s beloved Chevaliers pushed past rifle fire and static defences with all the bravery of the knights of old, crashing through the Imperial lines as their numbers were thinned. Schäfer pushed his charger to its limits, taking control of the platoon when his commander broke away without hesitation and leading the troops by example until Alexandre returned. When Alexandre led them through the woods he did not waver, not until the machine guns tore the unit to shreds.
Centuries of pride and strategy, undone in moments. When the lieutenant was seemingly cut down it was left to Alex to rally the survivors, marshaling a retreat even as more of their number were shot to death. The few bloodied figures who came riding back from the battle were no longer Lancers, their unit dissolved and the men and women who had made it great scattered to the wind.
Alex reported for retraining and was made a sniper much to his chagrin, his knack for shooting meaning that he was given a scoped rifle and told to aim true. This new role was indicative of the honorlessness that characterized the modern battlefield, his role as the executioner of unsuspecting enemies anathema to his sense of ethics. But refusal or desertion was unthinkable. He committed himself to being the marksman he could be for the sake of Gallia and its murdered hero, a sort of thanks to Alexandre for giving him a place to belong. He stood with the little unicorn nation until the ravages of war required he be reassigned to the 15th Atlantic Rifles.
But Alexandre had survived somehow, appearing in Alex’s unit one day as if he were a ghost returned to haunt the living.
John Schäfer - Father
Grace Schäfer - Mother
Valkur - Dog, messenger, pack animal
Alexandre Martial Alphonse de Bihainr
Alex’s old commander and the one most responsible for the destruction of their shared unit. Alex held and still holds a great deal of respect for the younger man but their relationship has been made complicated by the nature of their last moments together.