megazero_to_superhero: Just yer average ordinary everyday superhero. (Default)
David "The Daring Little David" Puskás ([personal profile] megazero_to_superhero) wrote2013-05-07 11:23 pm
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World Description

The setting of the City of Heroes multiverse is very complex. What follows is a summary of the most important and relevant events—especially those that took place after the launch.

David hails from Primal Earth. It's close in appearance to modern-day Earth, as much of its geopolitical history and culture is similar. However, Primal Earth is a world where superpowered beings are not only abundant, but operate openly as heroes, villains, and everything in between.

Although the modern ideal of the costumed superhero and supervillain came about in the early 20th century—starting famously with the all-American Statesman in the 1930s—superpowered beings have helped to shape human history throughout the ages. Many of the well-known legends involve such great folk, but behind the scenes of known history lie more. For example, fourteen thousand years ago during the Paleolithic era, there already existed sophisticated civilizations founded on the practice of magic. Two of the most powerful of these nations, Oranbega and Mu, waged a bitter war with each other that resulted in Oranbegan mages sinking their city deep underground in a bid to protect it from the wrath of Mu's skyships, and eventually the near-complete destruction of both nations.

Thousands of years later, the land where Oranbega once stood became the foundation for another city: Paragon City, Rhode Island. "The Birthplace of Tomorrow." The City of Heroes. What started as a collection of colonial villages became, by the American Civil War, a vital port city for the United States, and by the early 20th century fully lived up to its name as a center for industry, science, and commerce. At the conclusion of World War I, two of its citizens, Marcus Cole and Stefan Richter, would make a discovery that would usher in a new age of superpowered beings.

Marcus and Stefan fought together as soldiers in the U.S. Army during World War I. Both survived it, but Marcus was caught in a German mustard gas attack that badly damaged his lungs and left him terminally ill. After the war, the two friends became mercenaries in search of a cure for Marcus—an adventure that led to them stealing an early version of the Herodotus' "Histories" from a London museum and using it to discover the location of Praxidae, a long-forgotten Greek island. There, they discovered the Fountain of Zeus, the waters of which flowed from the Well of Furies. Drinking from this fountain not only cured Marcus of his ailment, but transformed both of them into Incarnates--beings empowered with powers of the gods themselves. Before leaving, the two discovered another artifact—Pandora's Box. Opening it did not let loose all the evils of humanity as it did with Pandora herself, but instead all the creativity it had collected over the course of a thousand years, leading to the rise of many more superpowered beings in the decades to come.

Marcus and Stefan parted ways afterward. When Marcus returned to Paragon City in 1931, the Great Depression was in full swing, and what was once the shining jewel of America was now a festering hive where every cop was on the take, and organized crime operated openly and freely thanks to corrupt politicians. Marcus resolved to save the city from itself with his newfound powers. To protect his identity from the police while leaving behind an unmistakable image for the public, Marcus fashioned the identity of Statesman, a personification of all the values and ideals that his beloved city currently lacked.

Statesman waged a public one-man war on crime and corruption, aided by his inhuman strength and an imperviousness to just about anything. Within a few short months he'd already made a difference, but in the process united the city's seedy elements against him. Statesman was starting to lose the ground he'd gained when suddenly other costumed crusaders joined the fight—the Dark Watcher. Elementar. Team Vambrace. Maiden Justice. All of them extraordinary people inspired by Statesman's example. On July 4th, 1932, under Statesman's leadership these heroes assembled into America's first supergroup—the Freedom Phalanx. Throughout the 30's the Freedom Phalanx continued to clean up Paragon City, their successes leading to the Crime Fighting Act of 1937, which made the supergroup a legally recognized crime fighting organization.

World War II saw the widespread use of superpowered beings as soldiers. Nazi Germany's Storm Korps. The British Empire's Dawn Patrol. The Japanese Empire's Imperial Wind. The Soviet Defenders of the Motherland. The United States' 1st Hero Brigade. Instead of only the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor as the impetus for America's entry into the war, it was coupled with an even more devastating raid by Nazi Germany's Storm Korps and 5th Column, who utterly destroyed a massive lend/lease convoy as it prepared to leave Paragon City's harbor. Ultimately, however, the widespread superpowered warfare did not divert the general course of history. The Allies triumphed over the Axis, and the stage was set for the ideological (and nuclear) standoff between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

The Cold War brought with it the rise of the modern supervillain. Some were former superheroes who, after the war's end, fell on hard times. Others, like Lord Nemesis ("The Prussian Prince of Automations" who had aided the Confederate Army during the American Civil War), tried to use the denouement as a springboard for very public displays of villainy. In Nemesis' case, he tried to take over the United States as its emperor, setting off nerve gas bombs in the twenty most populated cities when superheroes returning from the war in Europe sought to intervene. That tragedy was averted thanks to Shalice "Sister Psyche" Tilman and Dr. Mnemonic—the former, a powerful psychic, was able to pluck the location of an antidote from Nemesis' mind, and the latter was able to quickly synthesize an airborne version that both the Army Air Corps and flight-capable superheroes were able to distribute. Nemesis was defeated in a counterattack by hundreds of America's superheroes, though it was not truly Nemesis himself who had been present all along—only a robot duplicate.

In 1952, Paragon City expanded its Citizen Crime Fighting Act to grant officially licensed hero organizations limited police powers, allowing them to deputize their members. The Freedom Phalanx was the first group to take advantage of this new law, followed by the Dawn Patrol and then the secretive magic association, the Midnight Squad. Despite the growth in crime, especially superpowered crime, Paragon City could count on its brave and selfless heroes to keep the city a relatively safe (if interesting) place to live.

Yet on the world stage, the Cold War boiled underneath its icy facade. In 1956, the United States Congress passed the Might for Right Act, defining super-powered individuals as a valuable national resource subject to draft without notice. For the next decade government agencies including the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, and Federal Bureau of Investigation drafted heroes for missions both at home and abroad. Most draftees eagerly answered the call, wanting to serve their country in any capacity, but not all did so willingly; heroes with unpopular political views were a common source of draftees. Minority heroes found themselves discriminated against the most. While America's high profile heroes were battling costumed supervillains and criminals at home, the lesser-known heroes as well as those actively enlisted in the military fought a bloody shadow war with the Soviet Union's own conscripted superpowered beings.

The Might for Right Act came to an end in 1967 when three African-American superheroes brought the issue to trial, culminating in decision by the Supreme Court ruling the law as unconstitutional, and ordering the recall of all heroes drafted under the act. This took three years, as some of these heroes were deep undercover. Yet the United States still had superpowered beings enlisted in the military, and so the unsung war raged further—though the Soviets now had a clear edge, as they did not end their own (and far more abusive) conscription program.

By the 70's, both NATO and the Warsaw Pact saw superpowered involvement in covert affairs as a matter of course, and hardly worth an international incident ... at least for the low-key, small name heroes. America and Russia's star players in the Freedom Phalanx and Soviet Defenders of the Motherland, however, were a different story. That much was proven true when the Soviet Defenders of the Motherland brought down a U.S. spy plane. The crew included one superpowered officer—the psionicist and codebreaker Captain Gerald Mynor, who managed to hold off a scouting Soviet hero attempting to capture them, buying just enough time to send out a distress call. The U.S. Air Force turned to Statesman himself, who agreed to help and used technology owned by the Freedom Phalanx to teleport into the Soviet Union to find the crew before they could be captured. Statesman succeeded, knocking out a squad of Soviet heroes in the process, but when trying to escape to friendly airspace, the Soviets fired a tactical nuclear missile in revenge for embarrassing their premiere superhero group. The missile caught up with Statesman as he was over Finland, detonating point-blank. All of the spy plane's crew, including Captain Mynor, were immediately vaporized, though Statesman survived.

Never in Primal Earth's history had global nuclear war come so close to reality. All of NATO put its nuclear forces on standby in preparation for an immediate counterstrike. The Warsaw Pact did likewise. The United States prepared to launch a space-based anti-ballistic missile defense station to counter the Warsaw Pact's nukes. Soviet clairvoyants discovered the location of its launch facility, prompting the Kremlin to order a limited nuclear strike to destroy the station before it could launch. Witnessing the nuclear apocalypse about to unfold, the heroes of the world could no longer stand idly by. The Freedom Phalanx and Dawn Patrol organized a group of two dozen international heroes to both disable the Soviet preemptive strike as well as the launch of the American anti-missile station. Jointly, they issued a message to the world—this self-destructive madness would not be tolerated. Hero One, Great Britain's foremost hero, stepped forward to mediate a resolution and end the crisis. This event was a watershed for the history of superheroes, as it signaled an end of close cooperation between heroes and governments. Yet the world public adored its superheroes more than ever before.

At the closing of the Seventies, the United States was plagued by a major economic recession. Another wave of crime hit, fueled by a surge in the use of crack cocaine during the 80's. Paragon City's heroes joined in the War on Drugs, spearheaded by the Regulators, a supergroup headed by former PPD officer Michael "Back Alley Brawler" White—but no matter how many drug cartels or street gangs heroes apprehended and brought to justice, nothing seemed to stem the tide of drugs and drug-related crime. The Regulators, working with the Dawn Patrol, took drastic measures and attempted to go after ctop fields in South America and Central Asia that were used primarily for drug production. This only made things worse—not only did it anger the afflicted countries, causing a dozen nations to forbid members of both groups from ever flying through their airspace, but the temporary vacuum left by the drug cartels was quickly filled by chemical engineers brewing designer drugs at home. The worst of all of these was Superadine or "Supes," a modified and highly addictive version of an old American soldier enhancement serum developed during WWII.

Supes quickly cemented its hold over the drug culture of Paragon City, and nothing its resident heroes did stopped the flow of the drugs into the black markets. Driven to desperation, many heroes started to lose their way—becoming more brutal than they needed to be, even using the same methods as the criminals themselves. The most famous exemplars among heroes resisted this trend, but for most of the community it was a dark period. A break in this malaise came when the Midnight Squad and Regulators finally discovered just where Superadine was being manufactured. Back Alley Brawler raided the facility single-handedly. Seeing that he'd happened upon something far more than a drug cartel's base of operations, he requested and received the aid of researchers from the Freedom Phalanx. They discovered that the facility was actually a research laboratory using Paragon City's people as its lab rats. The personnel at the facility were monitoring the use of Supes among addicts, documenting their effects. Their goal was to reproduce a very rare effect among Supes users—1% of those changed by the serum developed the ability to see and travel to other dimensions.

Although the Regulators and Freedom Phalanx swore to take knowledge of this hideous, secretive research to their grave, not all of those who bore witness felt that the knowledge of worlds beyond Primal Earth should be buried. Dr. Brian Webb, who was part of the investigation, resigned from the Freedom Phalanx and founded his own company, Portal Corp. Dr. Webb did not seek to follow in the footsteps of the Supes researchers—though his eidetic memory let him perfectly recall all of the data he'd uncovered, he found their methods abhorrent and impractical. Instead, he reasoned the rare ability to travel dimensions was part of a cosmic law that had yet to be tapped into by science—so he sought it through technology, not through drugs.

In 1988, Portal Corp succeeded in creating technology that allowed easy travel between Primal Earth and other dimensions. Dr. Webb called a public press conference to break the news to the world, providing a demonstration by taking a group of reporters and cameramen to an alternate Earth where the Europeans had yet to discover the Americas, where Paragon City never existed. Dr. Webb described other worlds which were almost identical to Primal Earth but for minor details—sometimes something as slight as green stop signs. Others followed very different courses of history, where the Axis won World War II. Further evidence was supplied in videotapes of fifty other dimensions explore from just the previous day. Though Statesman was deeply disappointed that Dr. Webb had used the studies by the Supes researchers as his impetus for Portal Corp, curiosity could not help but get the better of him and the rest of Paragon City's greatest heroes. To help protect Portal corp employees from possible dangers—and to keep anything potentially dangerous from finding its way to Primal Earth—heroes from the Freedom Phalanx began escorting the research teams on their assignments.

Yet even with heroic support, tragedy struck. During one expedition to a contemporary Earth in which the Axis defeated the Allies during World War II, Webb's team was caught by that world's version of Marcus Cole—the tyrranic champion of Nazism, Reichsman. He tortured Webb and his team to death to discover their origin and means for traveling to "Axis America"—then took his supergroup, the Amerika Korps, through the still-active portal to Primal Earth. They were met by the Freedom Phalanx, resulting in a titanic clash between the two supergroups as well as Statesman and Reichsman. Though both Coles were equal in might, the Amerika Korps was inferior to that of the Freedom Phalanx, and the tide turned in favor of Primal Earth's defenders. Reichsman was imprisoned in the Freedom Phalanx headquarters, left in suspended animation.

The 90's saw the dissolution of the Soviet Union, bringing an end to the superpowered arms race of the Cold War. For former Soviet heroes, they were no longer in the thrall of the superhero program that conscripted them, and found themselves free to do as they wished. Most remained patriotic to their now independent states to fight corruption and organized crime, but some fell in with these unsavory crowds. In 1993, the first independent Russian superhero organization, the Valiant Defenders of the Motherland (or Otvazhnyye Zashchitniki Rodiny), with Statesman as an advisor. They proceeded to show the world that Paragon City's model for organizing superheroes was just as effective anywhere else.

The spirit of globalism that swept the last decade of the 20th century also brought with it the rise of corporate and mercenary supergroups. One of the largest is Hero Corps, which was born out of inspiration by British entrepreneur Rebecca Foss upon seing the marketing success of the Valiant Defenders of the Motherland. Hero Corps and its like-minded organizations draw ire from the "pro bono" community of superheroes, especially since some some of these organizations gladly performed less than savory work for the right price. When Hero Corps attempted to open an American branch office in Paragon City, it resulted in a three-year battle involving debates between Hero Corps spokesman and retired Freedom Phalanx member Kit "Luminary" Rafter versus his former colleagues, protests, and multiple (successful) attempts to sabotage the construction of the branch office itself. Eventually Paragon City revoked the Hero Corps' permit to build an office in Paragon City, though the superpowered corporation saw comeuppance when the United Nations formed the Special Council on Super Human Activities, and became its most favored agent to act upon its recommendations.

By the dawn of the 21st century, Paragon City was America's largest metropolis, and home to more superheroes than any other city on the planet. This was thanks in part to the municipal government's efforts to support its resident heroes. So long as they kept a good public reputation and minded the local authorities, heroes in Paragon City could make a name for themselves. With so many heroes making their home in Paragon City, by the 90's it was one of the safest places to live in the whole world. More than a decade passed since Portal Corp first breached the dimensions between universes and the disastrous rampage of the Reichsman. The global public had all but forgotten about the threat of other dimensions—until the Rikti invasion.

In May 23rd, 2002, at 4:30 PM Eastern Standard Time, tens of thousands of red, glowing, flat circles, ranging in diameter from nine feet to a hundred yards, appeared all throughout Paragon City and in twenty-seven other major population centers throughout the world. These lights devoured anything they touched, be it buildings, errant vehicles or passerby, or the brave heroes that tried to ascertain what they were by entering them. Three hours later, alien forces surged through these disk-like lights. It was a full-scale invasion—infantry outfitted with powered armor and hovering tanks on the ground, flight-capable infantry, robotic attack drones, and huge assault craft in the air. Their initial targets were infrastructure—targeting the power grid, communication towers, and water lines. They used electronic countermeasures to jam all forms of radio, radar, and GPS signals. They also assaulted any military or police facilities. Within minutes Paragon City and each of the 27 cities around the world were all but neutered, but they underestimated Primal Earth's superheroes.

Paragon City was home to the fiercest fighting. Even though the alien forces outnumbered them a hundred to one, within six hours all airborne alien forces were either destroyed or forced to retreat over the ocean or into space, though none ever attempted to return through their portals. The streets and neighborhoods of Paragon City, however, were still bloody battlegrounds, a melange of human and alien-controlled zones. The aliens consolidated their footholds, fortifying them with walls. Human forces did the same. Many of these walls would later serve as the foundation for the War Walls that have characterized Paragon City ever since. A full day after the invasion began, the portals winked out of existence. No reinforcements ever arrived through the portals before then.

Outside Paragon City, things were far bleaker. The first few minutes of the alien invasion saw over a third of the world's armed forces decimated. The survivors rallied and put up the fiercest fight they could manage against the invasion, but no military was able to match the invaders in combat. Not even the United States, possessing the most advanced non-powered military in the world, could manage a combat loss ratio of five men to one alien. Even the Joint Command Special Threat Response Battalion (AKA Vigilance), the United States' most elite unit formed in 1995 to deal with superpowered threats, had lost 85% of its forces and all of its superpowered members. Only when the regular military fought alongside superheroes did humanity win any victories. Realizing this, Great Britain and France spearheaded a United Nations Security Council emergency resolution authorizing the creation of Vanguard—a agency with the purpose of coordinating superhero efforts across the globe through a decentralized command network, comprised of the best the world had to offer. Vanguard allowed human forces around the world to affect the same kind of stalemate that had been achieved in Paragon City ... but even then, trying to reclaim territory from the aliens seemed impossible.

As the war for survival stabilized somewhat, the search for an identity to Primal Earth's attackers also made progress. Portal Corp's archives, files left untouched since the legal battle that ensued in the wake of Dr. Webb's death, revealed that the company had contact with these "aliens" before—they were not invaders from outer space, but from an alternate Earth in another dimension. They were known as the Rikti, from the report of the first and only mission to their dimension. The report did not describe the Rikti as hostile or warlike, and even hinted at the possibility of negotiating trade agreements, leaving their sudden genocidal motivations a mystery.

The fighting continued for six months. Despite the stalemate, the Rikti extracted a death toll in the hundreds of thousands. Over the course of these months it became clear that the Rikti had prepared for their invasion well in advance; human forces and heroes sometimes discovered hidden underground bases and armories, fully stocked and prepared. The Rikti's teleportation technology allowed them to strike anywhere, anytime, preventing humanity from mounting any kind of meaningful counteroffensive. Worse yet, during these six months the Rikti came to understand just how crucial superheroes were to the human forces, and concentrated their efforts on them instead. Over the course of one week, Rikti forces in Paragon City mounted a series of assaults on every supergroup headquarters. By the end of it, they lost 10,000 soldiers but killed almost 200 heroes and almost completely wiped out Paragon City's supergroups. Only a small number of the toughest and most power heroes in the city remained. Vanguard, on the other hand, was able to keep up the fight even after the Rikti decimated United Nations buildings in New York and Geneva, thanks to its decentralized command structure and ability to swiftly train and deploy new superpowered teams.

Steven "Dr. Science" Sheridan, a superhuman with a PhD in most almost every field of science, studied what data Portal Corp had on the Rikti with present reports from the field. By then, human forces had discovered that the Rikti were indeed receiving reinforcements from their Earth, in portals located within their underground bases. Dr. Science determined the most strategically important staging area, with the largest and most active portal, was located right underneath Paragon City. Deducing that the Rikti must be powering the portals from a central location on their own Earth, as the power to maintain all of them locally would be too taxing. With this in mind, Dr. Science proposed getting a team of heroes through the main portal and destroying that power source would cut off the Rikti from their Earth and finally give the humans an upper hand.

The past six months proved that humanity could not win a war of attrition. In November 2002, Vanguard agreed to Dr. Sheridan's plan, assembling the best heroes the world had to offer, leaving only a minimal rear guard. The plan called for two teams—Statesman led Alpha Team, consisting of a thousand heroes whose mission was to engage the Rikti's largest troop concentrations directly in order to pin them down and draw attention away from the real strike. Hero 1, the son of the famous Hero One and an Incarnate himself, led Omega Team. Omega Team consisted of only fifty heroes, but most of them had magic-derived powers and artifacts, as the Rikti proved to be ill-equipped to defend against the arcane. Even Hero 1's archnemesis, the villain known as Ruin, joined Omega Team—he wasn't about to let the Rikti destroy a world he wanted to take over for himself. Calvin "Ill Wind" Jefferson, a former gang banger turned small-time vigilante, was recruited for the ancient Charm of Invisibility that gave him his powers over light and air. With it, he would cloak all of Omega Team, hopefully sneaking them past the Rikti's forces and into their homeworld.

Knowing that the task before them would be almost certainly suicidal, many members of Omega Team wrote letters to the future or to their families and loved ones, to be sealed in a time capsule along with personal items to help the world remember who they were. Hero 1, who was chosen by the Lady of the Lake to wield Excalibur in the present day, decided that the fabled holy sword must not fall to the hands of the Rikti, and so chose to leave it in the care of Statesman's granddaughter, sidekick, and present leader of the Vindicators—Megan "Ms. Liberty" Duncan. The time capsule would not be opened for seven years.

On November 27, Alpha Team struck hard and drew as many of the Rikti forces the fight as it could. Eight hundred of the thousand heroes in its ranks died, but by the end of the operation they had slain 50,000 Rikti soldiers. Omega Team managed to pass unseen through the Rikti defenses until the last moment. Despite having to fight their way to the portal, most of Omega Team managed to cross over. Five were held captive in the Primal Earth staging area, but only one of these would survive what happened next. Reinforcements that had just arrived from the Rikti's Earth to engage Alpha Team were rerouted back through the portal to intercept Omega Team. Fifteen minutes passed—and then a massive explosion erupted from the portal, vaporizing the Rikti base and its surroundings for a whole square mile. Only Ralph "The Invulnerable Ajax" Valetti survived this blast on the Primal Earth side of the portal, thanks to his powers.

Omega Team had succeeded. The Rikti in Primal Earth were now cut off from their Earth's lines of supply and reinforcements. When surviving Rikti alerted the rest of the invasion forces deployed around the world, they immediately disengaged from their battle with Alpha Team, switching tactics from acting as a standing army to a guerilla force. Over the course of a few days, Rikti units fought a scorched-earth rear guard action while pulling back into their underground strongholds. Even in this act they were genocidal, claiming thousands more lives in the process.

Thus ended the Rikti War. Primal Earth was left in shambles; trillions of dollars in damage was done to cities around the globe. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers had died in the fighting. The Rikti had nearly eradicated all of Primal Earth's greatest heroes, leaving only a small number of its famed supergroups extant—and those that survived had scant few members. Paragon City, of all the major population centers during the war, was the hardest hit. Although what were now termed the "War Walls" had turned the city into a series of protected enclaves surrounded by nigh-impenetrable force fields and thick concrete walls as large as multi-story buildings, entire neighborhoods were left in ruins—Baumton and White Plains were utterly depopulated and leveled by the course of the war, and most other parts of the city were also left in shambles. The desperation that surrounded the Rikti War would linger for decades.

Where the Paragon Police Department was once confident in its ability to "serve and protect" the city, the Rikti War left it chronically suffering from severe lack of funding, unable to train or equip enough officers to replace the many that died. The PPD no longer had the ability to make safe the areas of the city that were completely ruined by one disaster or another, and was instead forced to seal them off as Hazard and Trial Zones, accessible only to personnel with the right security clearance. Even then, there were so few officers remaining that the PPD could barely contain even the most brazen acts of crime. Combined with the vacuum left by the death of so many heroes, criminals and villains were quick to take advantage of this fact.

Superpowered street gangs like the Satanic Hellions, the death cult of the Skulls, the Supes-addicted super-strong Trolls, and the elemental mutant Outcasts terrorized civilians with robbery, murder, arson and vandalism. Meanwhile, the Tsoo, an organized crime group drawn from the ranks of Paragon City's Hmong neighborhoods, led by Tub Ci Tang and backed by mystic powers bestowed upon them by their ancestors, competed with the Mafia-like Family in racketeering and "protection services" for citizens and small businesses.

As efforts to clearing the wreckage and ruin to rebuild the neighborhoods of Paragon City went underway, they were met with "assistance" by strange clockwork robots. These robots would help clear rubble and recover useful scrap metal or salvageable pieces of technology and parts, but they did not turn it over for use in reconstruction efforts. Instead, they used it to build more of themselves, who in turn would take whatever they could find to repeat the process. The people of Paragon City had encountered these robots before the war—and like before, these robots would react aggressively and kill with extreme prejudice to anyone who tried to prevent their wanton harvesting.

Demetrios Vasilikos, M.D., driven mad by the death of his father, continued to search for a way to conquer death itself through transplant surgery. Having gone beyond the fringe of medical society and ethical research before the Rikti War, he had assembled other surgeons to his cause. Collectively known as the Vahzilok, the doctor and his followers all shared the same wanton disregard for innocent lives, whom they saw as fresh supplies of blood, organs, and flesh. Taking advantage of the Rikti War's complete dismantling of society, Vahzilok minions eagerly murdered Paragon City denizens and dismantled them for use in building their grotesque medical analogues of zombies.

Paragon City was left with upwards of 20% of its population homeless. With little help from the government due to the ongoing effort to rebuild and restore infrastructure, the remaining heroes did their best to provide shelter, but there was only so much they could do. Many homeless sought shelter in caves and abandoned portions of the subway and sewer network. A good portion of these "mole people" would vanish into the depths—sometimes because they fell to prey to the Vahzilok or other criminal groups. Others, however, would return later on as part of a tight-knit group who became active criminals themselves. These people, when arrested and interrogated, identified themselves a members of "The Lost" and were discovered to have a mutagenic chemical in their bloodstream. It wasn't long before this organized crime group of homeless included hulking, mutated beasts. In some parts of the city, members of the Lost would preach to passerby of coming change, of an end to humanity's hold on the planet. The truth behind the Lost would not be uncovered for some time.

Meanwhile, an anarchistic group known as the Freakshow also made a display of force, preaching a philosophy of rage unleashed. Like many of Paragon City's criminal elements, they had superpowers granted from "Excelsior," an experimental drug first stolen from Crey Industries early in the 90's, which granted superhuman physiques, pain tolerance, lowered resistance to augmentation, outright regenerative properties and a powerful narcotic buzz. The disaffected twenty-somethings of Paragon City, struggling with feelings of impotence and unable to find meaning in a world devastated by genocidal aliens, flocked to "President Dreck's" banner.

Speaking of Crey Industries, while the company itself has long been considered the most influential and respected corporation in Paragon City—even if their controversial drug testing techniques have sparked several government investigations in the past—horrific rumors spread of Crey employees stealing the bodies of over a hundred fallen heroes during the Rikti War. Crey denied these allegations and blamed the Rikti instead, but the sudden appearance of helmeted and uniformed superhumans guarding Crey facilities—some using abilities in ways that reminded heroes of their dead comrades—left many troubled. In December of 2003, Dawn Patrol members discovered a Crey facility in the heart of Paragon City did indeed have two bodies of dead Rikti War heroes. When the owner of Crey Industries, Countess Crey, was presented with evidence of this foul play, she in turn provided ample evidence that the laboratory was run by rogue Crey agents. Other incidents like these—including cases of Crey agents openly harassing civilians—also became a mounting issue in the wake of the Rikti War, leading skeptical minds to question whether the Countess and her corporation is truly on the straight and narrow.

The ancient denizens of Oranbega, who had waged their own bitter war with the Rikti when the latter stumbled upon the ruined city of the former, now acted openly. The Circle of Thorns regularly stole the bodies of innocents for use as a new host for their own souls. They sought out and killed those who still had the blood of their ancient Mu adversaries in their veins. To bolster their ranks, they summoned demons and eldritch horrors into Primal Earth. The Circle of Thorns would continue to wreak terror across the city for years to come.

The 5th Column, which had remained dormant and hidden after Nazi Germany's defeat in WWII, resurfaced under the leadership of the war criminal Requiem—using safe houses and underground facilities in Paragon City to strike fear into Americans and disrupt attempts to rebuild.

Demoralized by the events of the war, the remaining soldiers of Vigilance went rogue when its country needed them the most—becoming the very thing they were trained to fight. Leading his unit AWOL when they were supposed to transfer to a new duty station, JCSTRB commander Colonel Virgil Duray then took his men to Paragon City, where they led a short but brutal campaign to control the city's airspace. What public statements he did make were full of bitter, paranoid hatred for the city's superheroes. Their hold over Paragon City didn't last long, however, as a large group of flight-capable heroes counterattacked in force, capturing those who were not killed and confiscating their government-issued hardware. Duray and his men seemed destined for the slammer, an anonymous benefactor arranged for their bail. With his freed comrades and logistics support from their new backer, Duray formed the criminal organization Sky Raiders, recruiting other disaffected special forces soldiers from around the globe.

One of the few sections of Paragon City to completely survive the ravages of the Rikti War unscathed was Astoria, a bustling commercial center also noted for having the largest and idyllic cemetery of the metropolis. Despite the dire straits that plagued the rest of Paragon City and the sharp increase in crime everywhere, Astoria remained mostly untouched, providing an important commercial bootstrap in the dark days following the war's end and allowing what remained of the PPD and the superhero community to focus on rebuilding the rest of the city while keeping the peace as best they could. Unfortunately, that all came to an end abruptly when the Banished Pantheon, a cabal of shamans and spirits serving a pantheon of misanthropic deities who were banished from the physical plane. The trickster god among them discovered that Astoria's cemetery was host to Mot, a Carthaginian god of death and sterility far older and more powerful than the whole of the Pantheon put together, who could be used to free his entire pantheon from the deific prison imposed on them by other gods. Thus, the Banished Pantheon sent all of its minions into Astoria, completely overwhelming it. The city officials had no choice but to seal Astoria off from the rest of the city, as neither the PPD nor any of the heroes remaining were able to concentrate on both Astoria and the runaway crime problems elsewhere while trying to rebuild. Astoria became a ghost town—those who did not flee the initial invasion of the Banished Pantheon were caught and sacrificed by its shamans as part of an ultimately futile attempt to awake the slumbering god. With Astoria utterly depopulated except for themselves, the Banished Pantheon continued their efforts to awaken Mot. For years the ghosts of the innocent wandered streets now covered in a thick fog that led to the new name for the zone—Dark Astoria.

Yet despite all of these troubles plaguing Paragon City as it struggled to recover, the advances made possible by scavenged Rikti technology have greatly aided efforts to rebuild. Development of unmanned police drones that could immediately teleport criminals to Paragon City's jail for superpowered criminals, Zigursky Penitentiary, provided some relief for the undermanned PPD. MediCom Teleporter Patches provided the few remaining heroes added insurance against death in the line of duty—they monitored the health of the wearer, and the moment the wearer's life signs entered a critical state, would initiate a teleport to the nearest hospital, where Rikti-derived machines would revitalize the would-be fallen hero to almost perfect health.

Yet even with such advancements, the post-war period of 2002 and 2003 showed just how dire the need for new heroes was. The call was answered loud and clear—aspiring superheroes from all walks of life made Paragon City the focus of their new careers, seeking to fill the vacuum left by the death of so many in the Rikti War. Statesman and Ms. Liberty's mother, Alexis "Miss Liberty" Cole, worked together to found a new hero organization to provide communication and coordination for Paragon City's new generation of heroes. Freedom Corps set up its headquarters in Paragon Heights—then-recently renamed to Galaxy City in honor of Kelly "Galaxy Girl" Graham, a famous heroine of the 50's and 60's who came out of retirement one last time to aid in the Rikti War, and died while helping a team of heroes escape the clutches of the Rikti. Freedom Corps set up offices throughout Paragon City to help fledgling heroes train and develop their powers, and also dispatched field trainers to select locations for the same purpose.

In response to the ecological destruction caused by the Rikti War, radical environmentalist and molecular biologist Hamidon Pasalima led a raid on Paragon City University, using the resources there to create what he called "the Will of the Earth," a colony of sentient bacteria with the ability to alter material on the molecular level. Hamidon escaped when heroes arrived to stop the raid. He retreated to a cave in the heart of the Woodvale suburbs, using the Will of the Earth to grow loyal, sentient beasts with bodies of plants, fungi, rocks and crystal. Later, Hamidon combined the Will of the Earth with dakr magics and his own knowledge of biology to (unknowingly) tap into the Well of Furies and transform himself into a massive amoeboid, rivaling the size of a cargo ship. No longer human but a force of nature, the Hamidon's minions poured out of its lair, overrunning Woodvale entirely, including the primary Portal Corp facility located there. Thankfully the War Walls left over from the Rikti War halted the Devouring Earth's advances beyond what came to be known as Eden and the Hive, but the Hamidon's minions found their way to other zones of Paragon City, tirelessly furthering their master's desires.

By June 29, 2004, Portal Corporation opened its doors of its Peregrine Island facility to the new generation of post-Rikti War heroes, now actively sending them out on missions to investigate and deal with potential extradimensional threats, in addition to keeping the Rikti contained and preventing Primal Earth's villaims from finding a foothold in some other dimension. Almost immediately, Paragon City's heroes had skirmishes with a group of villains from a mirror universe in which Primal Earth's most beloved heroes were its worst tyrants.

Around this time the Carnival of Shadows was born. To Paragon City's high society, they were a form of exotic entertainment similar to the Cirque du Soleil. In truth, it exists solely to feed souls to its leader, Vanessa DeVore—a former art student who happened upon a porcelain mask containing the spirit of 17th century duchess Giovanna Scaldi. This mask also conferred Giovanna's incredible psychic powers to its wearer, which Vanessa had used during the Rikti War to command henchmen with perfect coordination. It was also then she developed the hunger for souls to fuel her powers, leading to the founding of the Carnival after the war.

As the new generation of superheroes became veterans of these troubled times, they became aware of agencies lurking in the shadows, trying to rein in the chaos of post-Rikti world by going after both heroes and villains alike. After a number of heroes worked with U.S. government agents in fighting against this shadow force, news and information on them spread through the superhero community at large—they were the Malta Group—not at all related to the Knights of Malta or the Maltese government, but an illegal intelligence organization founded by members of various NATO intelligence agencies as a response to the Supreme Court striking down the Might for Right Act. While Malta may have been the only thing that kept the Soviet Union's superpowered covert forces in check, they did not disband when the Soviet Union fell. Instead, they focused on a new mission—to control world politics and the superpowered forces of the world. To that end they employed frightening technology capable of temporarily nullifying the powers of almost any superhuman, employed military-grade walking war machines (which they called Titans), and worked closely with an elite mercenary sorority group, the Knives of Artemis.

By September 16, Paragon City suffered a minor dimensional invasion from an old "friend" ... Rularuu the Ravager. This dimension-absorbing entity once threatened Primal Earth, but had been defeated and imprisoned in his own dimension, the Shadow Shard, by the mages of the Midnight Squad. Rularuu's minions made a brief but fevered attempt to break out of the Shadow Shard and into Primal Earth, but failed. The breakout prompted an international military and heroic response, setting up a military base within the Shadow Shard from which the best veterans of the Rikti War, both normal and superpowered, struck back at Rularuu and his armies.

By January 2005, the 5th Column faced a revolt from within by elements of another milita group—the Council, born from Facist Italy. Those 5th Council members who refused to join either went into hiding or were killed in the ensuing battles taking place across Paragon City. May of that year saw a true alien race come before the world stage—the Kheldians, energy beings who merge with a living host and form a gestalt personality for the duration of the host's natural lifespan. Having already lived among human civilization for thousands of years, a war between the Kheldians had reached a crucial point for Earth. Heroes helped two of the benevolent factions, Peacebringers and Warshades, fight against a third faction that sought domination, not fusion, with their hosts and the transformation of Earth into a new homeworld for their race—the Nictus. Despite lingering xenophobic attitudes from the Rikti War, the Kheldians were welcomed by Earth's populace—especially, as the Peacebringers and Warshades would point out, since they were fusion between a Kheldian and a willing host, Earth was just as much of a homeworld for them.

By August 31, 2005, the Paragon Transit Authority finished repairs to outbound tram lines caused by the Rikti War, allowing citizens to visit the resort town of Salamanca, three hours upstate from Paragon City. However, as the Autumn Equinox approached, the town was overrun by strange supernatural and magic phenomena. Creatures from the legends and lore of the British Isles were appearing in droves, forcing most of Salamanca's residents into hiding or out to leave town. Heroes found themselves in the middle of a war between two factions of very old supernatural enemies, with little choice but to wade in the middle of it in hopes of returning peace to the resort town.

Meanwhile, Stefan Richter had spent the past century consolidating his power over a secret society called Arachnos. In the 1950's he had used decades of political maneuvering and influence to stage a military coup that left Arachnos the ruling power of a small archipelago off the coast of the United States, commonly called the Rogue Isles. Now calling himself "Lord Recluse," Arachnos used the chaos of the post-war period to set his own villainous plans in motion throughout Paragon City and the world. In May of 2005, Arachnos started making serious forays into Paragon City, as Lord Recluse enacted Project DESTINY—his personal quest to defeat Statesman. To do this, his Fortunata Seers used their power of foresight to determine that Recluse needed someone who had access to a wide amount of possible futures, "destined to rise up from nothing" to become one of the world's most powerful villains.

Arachnos' actions spurred a response in Paragon City. Ms. Liberty, dissatisfied with Statesman's beliefs on where Freedom Corps' place lay in the superhero community, founded and organized an active military division of the Freedom Corps, which she dubbed Longbow. Although Longbow did have actual (if relatively weak) superpowered members in its more elite units, the rank and file were comprised of mundane humans with military training and equipment courtesy of NATO. In the field, these costume-clad infantry had only their convictions and kevlar-lined spandex to aid them. Most of these men and women would not survive their first encounter with a superpowered villain, but overall Longbow provided a bulwark to hold the line against common and powered criminals when heroes were not available, and to act as a military support network when heroes were on the scene.

The PPD also resolved to counter this new threat; under Chief Conrad Bochco's direction and with assistance by the powered armor-wielding Freedom Phalanx super-scientist Raymond "Positron" Keyes, the PPD founded experimental divisions devoted specifically to combating superpowered threats—the Powered Armor Corps, officers strapped into powerful exoskeletons outfitted with heavy firepower and vastly improved strength and reflexes—the Psi-Division, a highly controversial unit comprised of psychic police officers who are rigorously trained in not only the ethics of their psychic gifts, but also in using their psionic powers offensively—and the Awakened Divsion, comprised entirely of officers who volunteered to merge with Kheldians to become Peacebringers. The men and women in these experimental units were few in number compared to the beat cops and members of PPD's SWAT, but they provided a means for the police to level the playing field against truly dangerous supervillains.

On October 26, 2005, Statesman decided that Lord Recluse and the criminal elements of the Rogue Isles needed a show of force by the heroic elements of Paragon City. Marshaling both the Freedom Phalanx and Longbow, they staged an all-out assault on the Isles from the port of Siren's Call. Ultimately they were beaten back by Arachnos, who in response began regularly raiding "the Zig" for potential "destined ones" as determined by the Fortunatas, starting with the first massive raid on October 27, 2005.

In 2006, Paragon City made a concerted effort to rebuild one of its long-ruined trial zone of Faultline—formerly the neighborhood of Overbook, host to Overbrook Dam. By November, a fourth of the neighborhood had been rebuilt into New Overbrook, and Overbrook Dam was restored to operational status. The municipal government downgraded the Faultline into a regular City Zone. However, on November 28, unexplained seismic activity on the moon caused a break on the dam. flooding Faultline's still-ruined areas. Attempts to assess the damage and repair it were stymied by Arachnos operations in the area, as Recluse's minions picked through old supergroup base wreckage for technology to salvage. The Clockwork also arrived to interfere with construction efforts in New Overbrook, as did the Lost and Vahzilok, who warred over who would claim victims in the area for their nefarious purposes. They were all met by units from the PPD and Longbow, in addition to independent heroes answering the city's call for aid.

2007 saw several breakthroughs of different kinds. On May 1st, Dr. Reichart Von Gehirnsturm announced the invention of the Hypothetical Framework, a system that allowed the superpowered community to combine magic and technological components to develop new equipment for themselves to enhance their powers. It was also around this time that the Hamidon made inroads to Rogue Isles, appearing in the collection of islands known as the Abyss. The villains of the Rogue Isles would from that point on great sport of fighting the Devouring Earth.

Then the Rikti made a comeback in a big way.

Despite Omega Team's destruction of the Rikti portal network and Portal Corp's efforts in monitoring and keeping the Rikti isolated in their own dimension, the extradimensional invaders found a way to bridge the gap between their universe and Primal Earth's. On June 27, Rikti invasion forces sporadically attacked various parts of the world, disabling Paragon City's War Wall forcefields wherever they struck. Compared to their previous assaults, the Rikti focused almost singly on trying to kill Primal Earth's superpowered beings. Meanwhile, White Plains had erupted into a war zone, as Rikti invasion forces used the remains of the crashed invasion craft there as a staging facility. Vanguard quickly set up a number of forward bases in White Plains. This second invasion was far less damaging to the world than the Rikti War itself, but now that the Rikti had figured out how to return to Primal Earth, they were able to maintain a steady pressure for years hence.

Wars between dimensions were not the only problem for the superpowered community—they also had to contend with time traveling crises as well. Starting on November 27, 2007, the extratemporal organization Ouroboros reached out to Primal Earth's heroes and villains, especially those who had already been exposed to a plot involving time travel and were thus "entrusted with the secret." The Menders of Ouroboros enlisted their help in fighting what they called the "Coming Storm," an event that would precipitate not only the destruction of Earth, but the premature end of the universe as well. They sought to do this by changing the course of history subtly and scientifically. Through their haven outside the stream of time, Ouroboros was able to monitor changes in the possibilities of Primal Earth's timeline, and decide the next course of action—and then send heroes and villains back in time to "mend" events where necessary, or to combat the changes made by other, unknown extratemporal agents.

The year 2008 saw several major developments of its own. In May, Arachnos' own soldiers grew envious of the treatment afforded to those sheltered by Operation: DESTINY. The "destined ones" had long been reviled by Arachnos' rank and file, but some within the organization wanted to have the same benefits. A number of Arachnos' soldiers and the Blood Widows, brutal female assassins, managed to forge their names into the list kept by the Fortunatas, and in so doing bega their journey on the same path as many of the other villains under Operation: DESTINY.

On May 20, a member of the Midnight Squad, Montague Castanella, reached out to the heroes of Paragon City and requested their aid. Where once the Midnight Squad was one of Paragon City's most prominent supergroups—and certainly the largest one that catered specifically to Magic-origin heroes—the Rikti War had left only a scant few members remaining, a devastating blow from which they never recovered. Montague and the rest of the Club hoped to change that, by redefining the purpose of their organization. Rather than a supergroup devoted strictly to Magic-origin heroes, the Midnighters now opted to act instead as an arcane support network that welcomed membership from heroes of all Origins. This would be necessary, they believed, in order to properly answer the Rikti for the slaughter they wrought upon Primal Earth—as well as troubling developments in the timeline.

By now, Steven "Dr. Science" Sheridan had worked with other heroes to uncover a startling truth over the years—the Rikti were not only from an alternate Earth, but they were also completely human. Their alien appearance was the result of a mutagen willingly used by the Rikti to transform themselves into what they are now. That mutagen also happened to be the same substance used to transform the Lost, who often turned into something that looked very much like the Rikti. These revelations came about when the Rikti attempted to steal medical supplies and stores of donated organs to replace failing ones. Further evidence was provided when heroes also discovered that the Rikti were contracting human diseases, and were attempting to prevent children they'd been raising in underground bases from succumbing to them.

Armed with the knowledge that the Lost were the cause of a Rikti mutagen, Montague and the heroes working with him collaborated with a Rikti defector, Argot'BurWot, to devise a cure for the mutagen and administer it. With aid from the Magic-origin government agency M.A.G.I, the Vanguard leader Lady Grey, and the Midnighters, heroes were able to construct magical wands that restored Lost members to their original human forms.

Meanwhile in the Rogue Isles, Midnighter member Ashley McKnight was also recruiting Villains for the Midnight Squad—clear proof of how much the organization was willing to change to meet its goal in stopping the Rikti and other threats. With newly minted Midnighters joining the fold, Montague enlisted them for help with another issue—agents other than Ouroboros at work changing the events of Antiquity. Heroes and Villains used technology taken from Ouroboros to travel back to the Classical Era to the city-state Cimemora, helping its disposed leader Imperious and the people of that time deal with the usurper Romulus Augustus and those using him to alter the flow of history. Later that year on December 2, two Cimemorans, the armsmith Daedalus and prophet Sister Airlia, would actively seek contact with heroes and villains for further developments in the ancient world.

By April 8, 2009, Lord Recluse's chief scientist Dr. Aeon founded the company Architect Entertainment, opening branch offices all throughout the Rogue Isles and Paragon City. Mad scientist though he was, Dr. Aeon's goals for Architect Entertainment were not themselves malicious. Architect Entertainment allowed patrons a new way to craft stories and share them with the masses—by allowing the audience to experience it as if it were really happening, all through the power of the Arc Server—which transforms the entire body and consciousness of a user into a data stream that is integrated into the story in which they choose to participate. Because of the unique way in which the Arc Server works—allowing for a completely virtual yet completely realistic recreation of reality—Heroes and villains often used the Mission Architect as a way to train themselves.

Later on June 29 of that year, the Reichsman was rediscovered still in cryostasis within the ruins of the old Freedom Phalanx headquarters in Baumton. He was freed, and immediately set to work on furthering the cause of Axis America and the 5th Column within Primal Earth. Reichman attempted to make himself utterly invincible with a plan to siphon dimensional energies, but he was ultimately defeated by strike forces of heroes and villains in turn.

On November 27, seven years after Omega Team bravely sacrificed themselves during the Rikti War, the time capsule they left behind was finally opened. The letters many of them wrote in hopes that there would still be an audience for them in the future offered a number of surprises—the biggest one being that "The Invincible Ajax" was not the real Ajax everyone had known and loved in decades past ... but a street thug that inexplicably killed him and became the recipient of his powers. Following the opening of the time capsule the PPD filed a warrant for "Ajax II's" arrest, who fled to the Rogue Isles—but not to become a villain. Rather, perhaps out of added guilt for all he'd done, "Ajax II" proceeded to try his best to at cleaning the isles up alone. He got rather far, until villains working with a former PPD cop named Dean MacArthur figured out a way to bypass Ajax's legendary vulnerability. They would have killed him, were it not for a timely rescue by extratemporal agents ...

Starting in 2010, Primal Earth found itself fighting in earnest against yet another extradimensional foe&mash;the alternate universe known by the superpowered community and Portal Corp as "Praetorian Earth." A dark mirror of Primal Earth, in which the Hamidon and its minions awakened much earlier, nearly rendering humanity extinct were it not for that world's Marcus Cole. This Marcus, who had killed Stefan Richter shortly after the two drank from the Fountain of Zeus, had both the powers of Primal Earth's Statesman and Lord Recluse. When the Devouring Earth threatened to exterminate mankind, Cole led the charge taking the fight to the Hamidon. Once the Hamidon Wars were over, with little of the old world order remaining, Cole was made emperor of humanity by an adoring public. Emperor Cole christened the new world state as Praetoria, and on the surface sought to create rebuild human society is the ultimate utopian meritocracy ... but in truth, the Emperor's regime was built upon public deception and butchered innocents. Those who resisted his rule in the shadows where Cole's Praetorian Police and Seer Network could not find them came to know him by another name: "Tyrant."

Over the years, Tyrant and his Praetors interfered with Primal Earth and its heroes. Several times, Longbow aggressively raided Praetorian Earth, believing the whole dimension to be a perverse, evil reflection of Primal Earth. Tyrant resolved to put an end to the threat he believed Primal Earth posed to Praetoria. From the self-destructive madness he saw in the Hamidon Wars, Tyrant adamanrly believed that the common man was incapable of making the right choices, and so must be protected from themselves. To Tyrant, Primal Earth was a dangerous breeding ground where the dark impulses of mankind ran unchecked—and required the same treatment he had applied to Praetorian Earth.

Around November 30, 2010, Praetoria made its first move in the Primal-Praetorian War, sending forays into Kings Row, Steel canyon, and Peregrine Island of Paragon City and Grandville and the Nerva Archipelago of Rogue Isles, but was repulsed by task forces organized by the Vanguard heroes Apex and Tin Mage Mark II—the reborn Omega Team member, a robot and magician who left a copy of his blue prints in the Omega Team time capsule so that another iteration of him might continue to fight for justice after his demise.

In April 5, 2011, Ouroboros had a new patron—the titan Prometheus, one of humanity's greatest benefactors from ancient times, had returned to provide assistance to all superpowered members of the extratemporal organization. As he explained, the Well of Furies—which had given Statesman, Lord Recluse, Reichsman, and many others across the dimensions the godlike powers they now wield—sought out a champion to become its embodiment. It found the most favor with Tyrant, who (unlike all other candidates) freely surrendered himself to the will of the Well. As Tyrant consolidated his power over Praetoria and expanded it, so too did the favor of the Well increase. Nearing the end of 2010, the Well's favor spread to Tyrant's Praetors, Praetorian versions of many of Paragon City's most famous heroes. Primal Earth's heroes and villains struck back, with the aid of Prometheus, who helped level the playing field between Tyrant's Well-infused minions by showing them an alternate way to draw energies from the Well of Furies. A slower path, but a safer one that would keep the Well from taking control of those partaking in its power.

The first counter-offensive by Primal Earth's fledgling Incarnates and Incarnates-to-be began immediately, with near-simultaneous strikes at Behavioral Adjustment Facility in the Imperial City district of Praetoria City, and Lambda Complex in the Neutropolis district. Prometheus briefed the Incarnates on what the Resistance and other dissenters of Praetoria already knew—that while Emperor Cole outwardly proclaimed that the Behavioral Adjustment Facility was a benevolent institution that had the dual purpose of providing comfortable quarantine for those afflicted by the Hamidon's mind-bending Tellurian Plague and the rehabilitation of criminals by correcting mental imbalances, it was actually used by Sister Psyche's Praetorian counterpart—the Praetor of Health, Shalice "Mother Mayhem" Tilman—to psychically transform prisoners into unthinking supporters of Cole's regime.

This alone was not enough of a reason to assault the BAF, however—what made it a priority was that the Praetors planned to stage a "breakout" from the facility. The "mindwashed" prisoners who escaped would be programmed to terrorize populace or become sleeper agents within Praetoria's resistance groups—and the Praetors would place the blame on Emperor Cole's detractors. This reprogramming was also designed to cause confusion in other nearby minds, creating something of a contagion. Although the Praetorian versions of the androids Citadel and Luminary the Second, Siege and Nightstar, acted as wardens for the facility, Primal Earth's Incarnates prevented the staged breakout from succeeding and defeated both androids.

Meanwhile, the sizable fortress that dominated much of Neutropolis' acreage, Lambda Complex, served as both the primary facility for Praetoria's advanced military research projects as well as one of the largest Imperial Defense Force armories. Prometheus hoped that by assaulting the complex, not only would it be a crippling blow to the IDF's ability to wage war on Primal Earth, but it would also damage the confidence that Praetoria's people had for Emperor Cole. Michael "Marauder" White, Praetor of Security and the Praetorian version of Back Alley Brawler, saw to defense of Lambda Sector personally—but was repeatedly humiliated by the Primal Earth Incarnates despite the boost in power he'd received.

In May of 2011, after the repeated failures of staged mindwipe contagion breakouts and the raids on Lambda Sector destroyed chunks of the IDF's standing forces, Tyrant finally let loose the bulk of his armies in what became known as the Praetorian Surge. Unlike the Rikti, Tyrant's forces attempted to minimalize collateral damage and civilian casualties, focusing the bulk of their assault on Primal Earth's superheroes. That's not to say the IDF and its resident superheroes in the Powers Division did not wreak grievous amounts of collateral damage during the course of the war, however. As the Rikti before them, the Praetorian Surge failed in the titanic battles that clashed across Paragon City, the Rogue Isles, and the rest of the world.

On June 28, Prometheus directed Primal Earth's Incarnates into assaulting the Keyes Island antimatter reactors in Neutropolis. Rather than destroy or sabotage them, the Incarnates were to take control of the reactors. These reactors powered almost everything in Praetoria, from powering the portals the IDF had been using to stage their invasion to the sonic fence systems that kept the hordes of Devouring Earth monsters from overrunning the city. Therefore the Incarnates needed to seize the reactors to shut off power to the portals and select systems benefiting Cole's regime, while keeping the civilians protected. Former Praetor of Science, Raymond "Anti-Matter" Keyes (the Praetorian Earth version of Positron), viciously tried to defend his reactors from the Incarnate assault, but failed.

On September 13, Primal Earth Incarnates recieved a tip from the Praetorian version of Vanessa DeVore—who, instead of leading the villainous Carnival of Shadows as she does in Primal Earth, instead was the leader of the Carnival of Light: a group comprised of her own followers as well as remnants of Praetorian Earth's heroic arcane organizations, the Legacy Chain and Midnight Squad. Vanessa was the Resistance's foremost psychic defense against Emperor Cole's Seer Network and Mother Mayhem herself. While investigating matters in the ruins of First Ward—the city that would have been Praetorian Earth's capital, were it not destroyed by a Devouring Earth assault from below—she had discovered a terrible secret about the Hamidon. Primal Earth's Incarnates worked with Desdemona, a demon-summoning former villain turned hero, to investigate the lead. In the abandoned tunnel systems underneath First Ward, she and her companions encountered the Avatar of Hamidon, one of the Devouring Earth's mightiest creatures—and it had just killed Vanessa DeVore. After the Incarnates brought the mighty creature down, Desdemona examined the mask that gave Vanessa her psychic powers, and discovered the secret for herself ...

... Tyrant never defeated the Hamidon. At the conclusion of his titanic battle with the former madman, Tyrant psychically negotiated with it, striking a deal—if Tyrant could show the Hamidon that humans had worth and could coexist with the environment, the Devouring Earth would spare those few that remained. This, combined with urging by the Well of Furies to broaden his control, was the reason for all the cruelties Emperor Cole practiced beneath the shining golden facade, as well as his determination to bring Primal Earth to heel. However, in attempting to conquer and control Primal Earth, he had only allowed chaos to take hold in Praetoria itself. The Hamidon saw this as a clear failure. Cole's "peace treaty" with the Devouring Earth was now null and void.

The respective universes of the two embattled Earths did not pause out of courtesy for their interdimensional war, however. On September 27, meteors rained down on the Galaxy City. The destruction they caused was terrible enough, but it soon became apparent that these meteors were actually part of an assault by an old extraterrestrial nuisance—radiation-controlling sentient amorphous blobs known as the Shivans. The Freedom Phalanx, with full military support by Longbow, made a fevered attempt to contain the situation. They received help from some of Galaxy City's latent superpowered citizens, who started on the path to herodom as a result of the tragedy. Arachnos invaded during the chaos for their own purposes, and wound up collecting many new aspiring villains. Meanwhile, Longbow's years-long campaign on Mercy Island, one of the many islands in the Rogue Isles archipelago, finally won a major foothold when Longbow forces routed Arachnos from Fort Darwin, one of two of its bases there.

On December 6, 2011, Primal Earth's forces raided the Total Praetorian Network Campus, the global news station situated in Imperial City. Fighting off the Imperial Defense Force and Maelstrom, heroes and villains worked with a TPN employee, H.D., to broadcast the truth about Tyrant's supposed victory over the Devouring Earth in the Hamidon Wars. Eddie "Maelstrom" Polstra, a former U.S. Marine who had received live-saving augmentation but chose to betray Primal Earth and swear fealty to Praetoria, tried to prevent broadcast with backup from the IDF and Seer Network—but to no avail. The Praetorian public now knew the depth of Tyrant's locker full of bloody skeletons. Praetorian Earth descended into chaos as its people rose up against the man they once revered as their savior.

In response, Praetor Tilman decided to take more direct, iron-fisted approach to placating Praeotria's citizenry—controlling their minds directly, rather than through propaganda, surveillance, and behavioral modification. Primal Earth's Incarnates were briefed on a well-known fact among Praetoria—the Praetor of Health was actually a fusion of two women, Shalice Tilman and Aurora Borealis. In Primal Earth, the two women had once shared a body when Shalice was left in a coma by the course of the Rikti War. Aurora offered to play host to Shalice's psychic projection until her body could be revived. Instead of this temporary rapport, the Praetorian Shalice had been killed during an accident, upon which Aurora took Shalice's consciousness into herself, becoming a permanent fusion in which Aurora's body was a prison for her mind, and Shalice was the dominant personality. Separating Shalice's consciousness from Aurora Borealis would put an end to the Praetor of Health.

To that end, the Incarnates assaulted Mother of Mercy Psychiatric Hospital, situated on a cliff outside of the ruins of First Ward. Mother Mayhem sent her "childen" into the fray first before fighting the Incarnates herself. Incarnates had to defend Aurora's own consciousness while attacking Shalice. Eventually, the Incarnates were able to sever her from her Seer Network, and defeat her in body—but even evicted from Aurora Borealis' body, Shalice fought to the bitter end. She attempted to trap the Incarnates in her dying mind—but by then, disembodied and losing cohesion of herself, Shalice was unable to contain the Incarnates. Mother Mayhem was no more.

Terrible happenings followed the closing of 2011. Starting in January 11, 2012, the fog of Dark Astoria started to lift. The War Walls surrounding the zone took on the appearance of blood. By March 6 it was clear that the Banished Pantheon had finally succeeded their nearly decade-long attempt to awaken and free Mot. The Carthage god of death was free once more, and he hungered to feast upon all life on Primal Earth. Other groups flocked to Astoria. The Circle of Thorns, who (despite their utterly evil actions elsewhere) sought for years to counter the Banished Pantheon's actions, continued in vain to contain Mot once more. The only thing that could stop him was Primal Earth's Incarnates ... with the help of the still-living founder of the Midnight Squad, the Dream Doctor.

Tammy "Diabolique" Arcanus, the Praetorian version of Numina, captured the heroes of the Freedom Phalanx and Vindicators, as well as the Praetorian version of Ms. Liberty, Megan "Dominatrix" Duncan, who had been trying to track down Diabolique with the aid of Primal Earth's heroes. With her powers over death, Diabolique sought to serve Mot as its avatar, hoping that it would become an entity like the Well of Furies if she helped it consume Primal Earth as it wanted to do. Ultimately, however, she failed when Primal Earth's Incarnates freed her captives, permanently destroyed her, and sealed Mot with the power of the Dagger of Jocas, a Midnight Squad artifact that the Dream Doctor used for imprisoning Rularuu in the Shadow Shard. The Dream Doctor mused that this dagger could also work in defeating Emperor Cole himself.

The Freedom Phalanx was under high stress during this period. Its members were still reeling from the death of Miss Liberty back in November. Statesman sought solitude, needing time alone to think and cope with the death of his daughter. Even as the threat of Mot grew alarmingly clear, he did not return, perhaps trusting that Primal Earth now had many powerful heroes and a growing number of "slow-path" Incarnates to keep the god of death and sterility at bay.

Worse yet were a series of incidents that targeted Freedom Phalanx members—such as the trap a heretical enclave of magic-wielding Lost had set up for the famous super-speeding scientist Steven "Synapse" Berry, which nearly drained him of his powers. Sister Psyche's temporarily-reformed-villain and ex-sidekick, Jean-Pierre "Malaise" Lourdin, who was involved in the plot to kill Miss Liberty, used his capture to further sow chaos. Thanks to Malaise, Sister Psyche found herself battling an aggressive aspect of Aurora Borealis within her own mind, left over from when the two were joined in one body. No one had yet realized that the tensions between Freedom Phalanx members was playing right into the hands of former Midnighter-turned-Villain who'd taken great pains to stay off everyone's radar—Darrin Wade.

Darrin Wade leaked just enough evidence in the plot to kill Miss Liberty to allow Statesman and the heroes of Paragon City to trace the plot back to him. On January 17, Darrin Wade tricked Statesman into coming alone to apprehend him ...

... and then used an ancient magic ritual from the days of Cimemora to kill Statesman and absorb his powers.

The world was stunned. Even if Statesman had taken a step back from the world stage now that the superhero community had recovered and surged to even greater strength than before, he was still a living legend and symbol for what all heroes believed in. He seemed utterly invincible and destined to live for much longer than any normal human in spite of all the danger he'd faced over the past century.

The Freedom Phalanx was shortly afterward hit with another devastating blow—Darrin Wade set up another trap, predicting that the Freedom Phalanx would seek out a certain Circle of Thorns ritual that would allow Sister Psyche the ability to reassert control of her mind. The trap sabotaged this ritual, causing Sister Psyche's psychic powers to go out of control, threatening to painfully kill every person in Paragon City. While she could still speak, she begged her husband, wealthy playboy and Rikti War veteran Justin "Manticore" Sinclair, to kill her. Manticore had no choice ... but in so doing, Darrin Wade managed to absorb Sister Psyche's powers, especially her ability to "mind ride" to others' bodies.

By now the Freedom Phalanx gathered enough evidence to discover just why Darrin Wade had spent so much effort to kill two of Paragon City's greatest heroes. All along, his goal was to take over the body of Rularuu the Ravager, whom he planned to summon into Primal Earth. Aside from his desire for power beyond that of any being in Primal Earth, he believed that by taking the body of the dimension-eating abomination, he would render Rularuu's threat to Primal Earth meaningless, for he would instead use Rularuu's powers to protect his home dimension. Doing this required Statesman's strength and willpower, as well as Sister Psyche's mind-riding abilities. Investigating whether or not Darrin could succeed in his goals, heroes spoke to Faathim the Kind, one of the seven Aspects of Rularuu, fragments of the dimensional ravager's sentience. Faathim conceded that Darrin's plan was clever, but it would fail—Rularuu's very nature is chaotic and corrosive, and Darrin's mind would be consumed by Rularuu in short order.

Despite Darrin's attempt to keep pressure off of him by summoning Rularuu's forces all around the globe, an unlikely alliance formed to stop Darrin's plans. Vanguard, the United States Navy, and Freedom Phalanx were joined by Arachnos. Angered at not having the pleasure of killing Statesman himself (and alarmed that Statesman's powers were in someone else's hands other than his own), Lord Recluse and several of his lieutenants aided in the assault on the island base Darrin was using for his base of operations. In the ensuing battle, most of the U.S. Navy fleet sent to attack the island was destroyed. Darrin erected a powerful force field and began levitating the island into outer space. In response, Arachnos and Vanguard used the powerful experimental missiles stockpiled on the Rogue Isles island of Warburg to crack the shield open, allowing the unlikely alliance to confront Darrin personally. By that point, Darrin had already started merging with Rularuu, becoming Rula-Wade. Yet even with the powers of Rularuu coming into his grasp, he could not overcome the combined might of Primal Earth's mightiest heroes and villains. Rula-Wade was destroyed, with Darrin's shattered mind returning to his body ... now imprisoned by the Vanguard.

Though the Primal-Praetorian War lasted longer than that of the Rikti War, the Incarnate-powered Heroes and Villains of Primal Earth had systematically dismantled the Praetorian empire. On May 31, Primal Earth's Incarnates liberated the district of Imperial City from Praetor Justin "Chimera" Sinclair, Praetoria's version of Manticore. Following this, Arachnos attempted a full-scale invasion of the last remaining neighborhood of Praetoria City still in Emperor Cole's control—Nova Praetoria. Lord Recluse personally led all of his superpowered lieutenants and personal advisors in a direct assault involving hundreds of soldiers ... but even then, Tyrant personally humiliated Arachnos, forcing a defeated Recluse to retreat.

Yet Praetoria's days were clearly over. Following the Arachnos invasion, Primal Earth's Incarnates stepped in to press their assault. The Imperial Defense Force dispatched units to protect the Magisterium alongside Praetor Sinclair; Black Sawn, the Praetorian version of Lena "Sawn" Elliot; Nega-Pendragon, a corrupted Pratorian version of Hero 1; and Shadowhunter, the Praetorian version of the Woodsman. Black Swan brandished Praetorian Earth's counterpart to the Dagger of Jocas, known as the Quills of Jocas there. The Dream Doctor's theory about them was proven true on the Incarnates themselves, as the Quills would temporarily sever an Incarnate's connection to the Well if they were struck. Seeing that his empire was fully lost, Tyrant did the one thing he swore he'd never do—nuke his own people.

The nuclear blast did not stop Primal Earth's Incarnates. Cole was forced into battle himself, along with his Olympian Guards—clones made in his image, that share a considerable fraction of his power. With the Quills of Jocas recovered from Black Swan, the Incarnates systematically severed Tyrant's connection to the Well, and finally defeated the emperor of Praetoria.

With Tyrant's defeat and the complete destruction of Praetoria City, Praetoria had utterly lost the war it started. With Tyrant's final act, however, he sealed the fate of all his people. Hamidon saw Tyrant's inability to contain Primal Earth's Incarnates, and his willingness to use nuclear weapons on his own city, as a complete betrayal of the truce the two had negotiated. Thus, its horde was free to devour what remained of the human race on Praetorian Earth.

That, however, was a story just beginning to unfold by November 2012 ...

For further information, see the Paragon Wiki and its articles on Paragon City's history, Rogue Isles' history, and the timeline of events.

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