From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
- I shot an arrow into the air,
- It fell to earth, I knew not where;
- For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
- Could not follow it in its flight.
- —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Arrow and the Song, st. 1 (1845)
The Old Ranger is a character very loosely based on a concept originally explored in the MMO Star Wars Galaxies. However, the resemblence is only skin deep; while the SWG character was a wilderness survival expert and hunter, the Old Ranger's background is tied to a military background, and things were never quite the same since.
The Ranger has a very serious attitude, rarely becoming too angry at anything. At the start of his heroic career, he had little compunction about using lethal force against opponents trying to kill him; as time passed in Paragon City, he came to admire the heroes who captured criminals with apparent ease, and decided to use his lethal weaponry in non-lethal ways.
The Old Ranger is not a deep investigator; detective work was never one of his skills. Instead, his method of dealing with crime is to go behind enemy lines (so to speak) and take down the criminals on their home turf. His training as an Army Ranger is a great help in such raids. In instances when investigation must be done, he will usually call upon contacts better equipped to piece together the puzzle.
For a long time, the Ranger went out of his way to attack members of the Lost or the Rikti; he saw the Lost as willing pawns of the Rikti (even if that isn't completely true), and he maintained a mild xenophobia towards aliens in general for quite some time, thanks to his encounters during the two Rikti invasions. His tenure with the Justiciars has tempered that greatly, as teammates he has worked with included Kheldians, a Solairian, and deep-sea dwellers (who are close enough to alien to his thinking). This was further tempered by his involvement with the Traditionalist faction of Rikti, and he made strides in putting aside his vendetta. However, he still maintains that if they shoot at him, he's going to shoot back.
The Old Ranger has a mild dislike of magic; he understands that it is not magic itself that is good or evil, but it often defies logic and common sense, and so it frustrates him. In a similar vein, he has trouble comprehending the high technology that many heroes and villains utilize; for the Ranger, it's enough for him to know that the equipment works-he doesn't particularly want to know why it works. Finally, due to recent events, the Ranger isn't all that fond of time travel or its proponents, either.
The Ranger has a fierce loyalty to his friends; once he gives his loyalty to someone, he'll put life and limb at risk on their behalf. Betrayal brings out the other side of that coin-he'll spare no effort to capture the betrayer and bring him or her to justice. While he is perfectly capable of dealing with criminals on his own, he has no issues with working with other heroes, whether as a member of a Task Force, or as one of a random grouping of other heroes.
The Ranger has no special powers in and of himself; while he formerly possessed a super-speed power, he no longer possesses that ability. Instead, he relies on assorted equipment to face the dangers of Paragon City.
The Old Ranger is an expert archer, rated at Olympic level skill. He has demonstrated the ability to fire off multiple arrows in a single pull with some degree of accuracy; he has done this as a spread of arrows, or arcing the arrows to rain down on his opponents. One style of arrow is loaded with a concentrated napalm head, which ignites upon impact, while another arrowhead is loaded with explosive material. A blunt-headed arrow is used as a non-lethal weapon; it just tends to really, really hurt.
The Ranger's uniform utilizes future technology to duplicate creation of many devices he has used early in his career as a hero. Previous observation has shown the use of "goop grenades", thrown weapons that ensnare opponents in a sticky web-like substance; a circling targeting drone, caltrops and proximity mines which "cloak" after placement. He also carries under his trenchcoat a brace of throwing knives for emergencies. Integrated with his uniform and trenchcoat is a cloaking device that bends light waves around the Ranger, effectively making him invisible.
The Ranger has no special powers, relying on specialized equipment and his own skills and talents to make him more than a match for any opponent.
The Ranger's uniform permits him to teleport short distances. Another device in the uniform will also allow the Ranger to teleport allies from much longer distances, by keying on the Paragon City communications frequencies-effectively allowing transport for any registered hero.
While not strictly a power, the training the Old Ranger received as a member of the United States Armed Forces allowed him to learn a number of techniques used by officer candidates, even though he refused a commission a number of times. As a hero, he has started using that training to aid heroes in coordinating tactical assaults on their opponents.
The Ranger's uniform is constructed of an alloy of metals and other synthetic materials that is proof against most weaponry, helping protect him from serious injury in the face of superhuman opposition.
Riley's experience in both warfare and in fighting super villains allows him to quickly analyze at a glance not only the special abilities his opponents may possess, but also to coordinate his attacks-and those of his allies-against those foes with greater effect.
Don't call Riley an Incarnate. Just...don't.
That said, he has begun demonstrating some similarities to such beings. He can access other robotic drones other than his targeting and shield drones for use, and has been able to take down physically large numbers of opponents in a startlingly swift period of time. This is a product of the future tech he uses and his own skill and experience in fighting Paragon's threats for years now.
In addition to the archery skills mentioned above, it is worth noting that the Old Ranger remains in peak physical condition, despite his age. He is well versed in military tactics and strategies; as a result of Ranger training, he is skilled in crude demolitions, wilderness survival, and airborne deployments (among other things).
Weaknesses and Limitations
Most of the Ranger's weaknesses are the same ones most humans are prone to. At present, he is also recovering psychologically from effective exile for the last year.
The Old Ranger's uniform is derived from future technologies. In addition to protecting the Ranger, it utilizes particles in the air to "manufacture" the specialty devices he uses, as well as the arrows he fights with. These creations are temporary creations, dissolving back into their component atoms within two minutes.
The bow is also an artifact from a future time, built on principles similar to Talsorian bows used by the Vanguard, but instead of using monomolecular material, the bow is formed from hardened light emitted from the handle grip.
While the Old Ranger does not speak of his past, photo identification has proven enough to provide some information on this hero.
Thomas Riley was born on March 7, 1965 in the township of Herndon, Virginia. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1986. He was quickly assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, a section dedicated to ambush and raid tactics, skilled as survivalists, and able to operate on their own behind enemy lines for extended periods of time. The unit he served longest with was nicknamed "the Wolf Pack", emulating pack tactics in battle.
Riley had been promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant by May 23, 2002-the day the Rikti began their invasion of Earth. Riley fought alongside his unit, only to see them brutally killed by the superior technology of a Rikti strike squad. Riley himself had been knocked out in the fighting, and was apparently left for dead. When he awoke, he discovered that he was the only soldier in his unit left alive.
Determining that the Rikti were too strong for the Army-and perhaps the rest of the Armed Forces-Riley deserted his post. Interviews with the few people he spoke with prior to deserting indicated that Riley believed the war was lost, and the only way to resist was via guerilla warfare. Riley effectively vanished from sight. He remained among the missing at the end of the War; he was believed dead, although no body was recovered.
The next time Riley was seen was on June 22, 2007. A man wearing camouflage and a green trenchoat appeared on the streets of Paragon City in the Galaxy City district, wielding a bow and throwing knives, taking down Hellions and Vahzilok. To civilians rescued, he only referred to himself as "an old ranger"; it was during activity in King's Row that a photograph was finally taken of the Ranger, and positively identified as Riley. Subsequent information indicated that he was being supplied by a benefactor using the alias "Doctor Subspace".
Riley would reveal later that he felt drawn to Paragon City, and that he suspected the presence of the crashed Rikti ship probably played a strong role in that feeling. Upon arrival in the City of Heroes, he saw that criminals had begun their own type of war in the city, against each other and against the populace. Unwilling and unable to ignore it, Riley chose to show the criminals his own style of war. The fact that being a hero could eventually gain him access to the crash site also played a part in that decision.
Riley was presumably still wanted as a deserter, although the Army seemed curiously uninterested in pursuing him after learning of his presence in Paragon City. Major General Brian Hunter of the Army quietly questioned why Riley alone survived his unit's Rikti encounter; he wondered if there was a reason beyond good fortune. When pressed further, the general denied that he believed that Riley was a collaborator, but revealed his belief that the Rikti let him live-and that worried him more than a possible collaboration.
On July 24, 2007, the Rikti returned, their ships filling the skies of the world once more. The Old Ranger determined that this time, he would fight them his way.
Joining the Team
After spending a significant amount of time on the streets of Paragon City-particularly in the Steel Canyon district-Riley was contacted by Solairis, one of the leaders of the Justiciars. The Justiciars were a group of heroes sanctioned by the United Nations to handle threats to the security of the planet Earth. Solairis indicated that he felt that the Ranger would be an asset in this task, and invited the Ranger to join the organization. On September 12, 2007, the Old Ranger became an Honorary Justiciar, beginning a trial period where they would evaluate Riley, even as he would evaluate them. That period ended on October 7, 2007, where he was recognized by the group as a fully fledged Justiciar.
It was at this time that Riley began manifesting what could only be described as super-speed. Riley had no explanation as to how it was even possible, and began to suspect that the Rikti had done something to him years ago. On November 24, 2007, his suspicions were confirmed; a telepath investigating a mental block in Riley's mind uncovered the fact that the Rikti had used him as a guinea pig during the Rikti War-but were unable to complete their work. The same investigation showed that Riley had been compelled to avoid the military by mental domination.
The United States Army, as a result, cleared Riley of any wrongdoing, and restored his rank and privileges as an Army Ranger. Riley was put on detached assignment as a liason from the United States Army to the United Nations-sanctioned Justiciars. Shortly afterward, Riley became affliated with the Vanguard, the organization on the front lines against the Rikti. While Riley was uncomfortable with working with some people who had goals such as material wealth, ruling the world, or simply killing him, he was constrained from actually acting on his impulses to arrest them. He decided that if he couldn't put them behind bars, and as long as they restricted their activity to the Rikti War Zone in White Plains, he would let it pass for the present.
On February 1, 2008, Riley captured Science Chief Pomekt, the Rikti responsible for using him as a lab rat. Interrogation revealed that Riley had been injected with a "nanovirus", a micromachine/bio-organism that was designed to physically improve the Rikti; instead of using one of their own as a live trial, they decided to find a genetically compatable subject among the humans of Earth. The first one found was Riley. Pomekt hinted ominously that the nanovirus was designed to do more than simply give Riley enhanced speed; the possibility that the nanovirus was a precursor to Rikti mutagens was one of great concern to Riley.
Later that month, on the 18th, Riley was recognized in a private ceremony as a Hero of the City-prompted by his participation on a mission for the Lady Grey.
In recognition of his outstanding service, Riley was promoted within the Justiciars to the rank of High Justiciar on April 13, 2008. On April 14, he tendered his resignation from the United States Army, feeling that in such a position, there would be a greater chance of a conflict of interests.
Riley's term as a High Justiciar was not one of distinction; during his time, the villain Terrance Rihsen attempted to turn the world against the Justiciars; at the same time, he was absent from Paragon City much of the time attempting to run down the location of an Arachnos operation he became aware of earlier in the year. He voluntarily stepped down from the position as of July 13, 2008.
On June 23, 2008, during an incident with his Praetorian counterpart, Riley was finally cured of the Rikti nanovirus; his counterpart had been afflicted with a similar problem, and Riley was to be the "human trial" for the cure. The cure restored him completely, but had the cost of removing the speed power the nanovirus had given him.
Apparent Death, Return, and the Union Supreme
Riley was apparently killed in action on September 24, 2008. According to Justicar records, Riley was attempting to thwart an Arachnos initiative involving Rikti technology, and was atomized in the explosion of a Rikti power core. No body was recovered.
However, events in late July 2009 threw doubt on this belief. Pursuing an artifact dedicated to the spirits of earth, Winter Tornado infiltrated a Fifth Column stronghold in the past. While recovering the talisman in a trophy room, Winter Tornado also discovered the distinctive uniform of the Ranger being displayed as one of the trophies. He reported this fact to his team, the Union Supreme, as that team held a number of Riley's friends.
The possibility of Riley's survival became fact when he reappeared in Paragon City on August 25, 2009, having returned from a period of exile from the timestream. After contacting Solaris, he was immediately brought into the Union Supreme to rejoin several of his old comrades-in-arms. Since then, Riley began working for the US Special Powers Directorate (US-SPD) as a transfer from the Army. At one point, he was ordered to bring in the rogue David Donnell from the Etoile Islands, but Riley was unable to capture the renegade soldier.
Since that time, he has encountered an organization called the Superiority on multiple occasions, and they have become a focus for his own investigations.
- The Old Ranger is loosely based on the SWG character of Coreth Landwalker, a character on the Corbantis server. While the persona is a bit different, the appearance of the Old Ranger is a direct homage to that character.
- Riley is a good shot with military firearms. Since becoming a hero, he has preferred to use a more silent weapon-a bow. He was good enough to compete in the Olympics in his youth, but could not afford to spend the time and money to go into competition.
- Riley is a big movie buff; he tends to spend some of his free time catching up on movies he has missed in his long absences, as well as going to theaters to see new ones. He is also a decent bowler, and can be seen in his off-duty hours in bars enjoying the company and conversation. He absolutely loathes Pocket D, though-Riley will only go there if he has no choice in the matter.
Stories (External links)
- The Old Ranger: Origin
- The Old Ranger: Between Scylla and Charybdis
- The Old Ranger: Sua Sponte
- Public Service Announcement
- The Arbiter Initiative I: Smoke and Mirrors
- The Arbiter Initiative II: The Future is Now
- The Old Ranger: Transformation
- The Arbiter Initiative III: Defiant
- Ice and Flame
- Fading Away
- Turning Points
- Web of the Spider
- Days of Yore
- In-Character Blog of the Ranger (Discontinued)
|Councillors: Champion Woman • Doctor Spectro • Old Ranger • Raven Moonshadow|
|Hero: Amazing Trixie • Arcanist Ica • Blood-Eagle • Captain Midnight • Congressionalist • Diamondskin • Emerald Protect • Gods Speed • Gravijah • Heliodromus • Hero Paragon • Invictar • Moonlight Owl • Ms. Impossible • North Shield • Paradox Theory • Redbird • Shining Centurion • Solairis • Streetlight • Turbohawk • Winter Tornado|
|Primals||Heroes||Agent Repulse • Amazing Kane • Armored Battalion • Fighting Wolfman • Gatewarden • Invictar • Old Ranger • Qi'Lar • Skyshade • Spectral Fighter • Stellar Protector • Sunpulse • Timelost • Winter Tornado|
|Vigilantes||Nyctomancer • Occult Explorer|
|Villains||Devil's Chamberlain • Dracofire • Operative Rostov • Stellar Abyss|
|Rogues||Baron Craven • Ebon Thunderbolt • General Retaliation • Professor Dredd|