Gabriel had always spent most of his time listening to the needs of the universe. It sounds pretentious when you say it like that, but what it really means is, he didn't spend a lot of time trying to figure out what he wanted to do, but rather what seemed like the right thing to do at the time. And this in turn is not meant to imply that he was impulsive, but that he let the simple act of inspiration guide him.
For example: when he was growing up, like every other kid Gabriel enjoyed recess most of all while he was attending grade school, but he was often lost inside his own head, rather playing some pickup sport or other with the other kids. It wasn't because he was an oddball misfit, except of course his behavior certainly made him one, but rather because he was busy following his inner voice. His family, as his brother could attest in later years, was somewhat gifted in the intellectual sense, and so Gabriel normally had a few dozen more thoughts running through his head than most other kids. While it seemed like fun to most other kids, spending his free time playing kickball wasted more opportunities for mental exploration than it created. He could only be hit by a ball so often when he was thinking to lose the traditional sense of "fun."
What was he thinking about? It could have been one of a thousand different things. When he was trying to get some sleep onboard the frigate, Gabriel couldn't stop thinking about what they might be doing rather than waiting for some idea of salvation to save them. He was the first to switch on the datastream from the satellite, and he was the first to figure out how to make it useful, by hotwiring a direct connection to his terminal. He did in fact talk to a woman named Tabitha Thrasher, but what he neglected to tell the others was that he also spoke with a man who identified himself as James Ward. Gabriel had the sense that he knew the name. Or at least, his brother had.
Part of the reason he didn't inform Ray (whom he generally regarded as "in charge") about Ward was because of the concluding phrase he'd used in their brief conversation, before Thrasher had interrupted them:
"You might say I owned the world."