Secret Origins: Old Ranger Follow-Up
Added 8/22/2012 8:56:00 AM by Send a private message to the author of this news item. coreth

Trouble began with a simple call to the Old Ranger-a call from General Hunter, of the United States Special Powers Directorate.  This was unusual enough for the Ranger, as his usual orders came down via Colonel Davis; the General rarely communicated with the Ranger in person.  But making it more unusual was the added hint that it might not be a bad idea to bring along other heroes for a briefing.  Heliodromus, Champion Woman, and Diamondskin accompanied the Ranger to the briefing.

The briefing had some chilling news.  General Hunter reported that over two weeks ago, a Rikti Science chief named Pomekt-a known Restructurist-had escaped from Vanguard custody.  This had special meaning to the Ranger:  Pomekt had engineered a nanovirus used to infect the Ranger at the very start of the Rikti War; a weapon to transform humans into an enhanced Rikti warrior!  The only good thing about it was that it was slow-it had taken literally years before it started to work on the Ranger, and only good fortune had cured him.

Hunter's intelligence indicated that the Vanguard were engaging a Rikti force in a town in North Dakota.  The Union was asked to bring in Pomekt-Hunter didn't really think the Vanguard were going to have much success against the Rikti, and he was certain that this was where Pomekt had been hiding.  Thanks to Helios's rapid transportation-his fiery chariot-the team got to North Dakota in record time, and immediately engaged the Rikti forces.  Champion Woman observed at one point Rikti firing upon each other; the Ranger wondered if the force had been infiltrated by the Traditionalist faction of the Rikti, which were more moderate in their dealings with humanity.

The team located the strike force leader, but the leader revealed that his team had bought enough time for Pomekt to get a clean get-away.  The Union left the defeated Rikti forces to the Vanguard, but took the strike team leader with them for questioning.  General Hunter had one of his people mind-scan the team leader, and eventually was able to determine that the Science Chief had retreated to a secret facility in a mountain range in West Virginia.  With the coordinates in hand, the team once again flew Air Helios and attacked the facility-carved into the mountain and with the trademark Rikti technology all over.

The team defeated the base commander, but once again, Pomekt had eluded them.  What didn't elude them were a pair of Rikti computers with disturbing data.  The first held a strike plan against Paragon City, but strangely, the plan didn't include enough Rikti troops to make any great impact-a plan destined to fail, which was out of character for the Rikti.  The second computer had more dreadful news:  Pomekt had managed to perfect the nanovirus technology, shrinking the incubation time from months to mere hours!  Helios put the two together:  this was why the Rikti attack plan was undermanned-they planned to use the nanovirus to boost their forces!  The Ranger had Diamondskin destroy the computer-which had yet to transmit its data to a central hub-so that the work would be lost forever.  He hoped.

General Hunter contacted them to confirm the worst case scenario, though.  The Rikti had arrived in Paragon City, and had been setting up devices that were probably containers for the nanovirus.  The Union had to get back quickly and deal with the attack!  The group arrived to discover that they were too late for many; citizens had been transformed into Rikti already, and had been overwhelmed by mental imperatives and pain.  The Union fought through the Rikti to destroy the devices; the wreckage indicated that they were deploying the nanovirus via aerosol means (which was a cause of worry-it was possible that the team had already breathed in the nanovirus!).

The team also found Pomekt in a Rikti Heavy Assault Suit, ready to defend his work.  He was no match for the power of the Union, however, and fell to their onslaught.  But the Rikti Science Chief had one last card to play.  He had a personal copy of the nanovirus specifications, and had turned it in on the ground to a Rikti commander from the Lineage of War!  The team had to find the commander and defeat him in order to keep containment on the nanovirus data.  This was a task that the Union was more than up to-they found the commander, and were able to defeat him in pitched battle.

During the cleanup, General Hunter admitted that the nanovirus still had no cure that they knew of, but the US-SPD were working with MAGI to see if a cure developed for the Lost would restore the people transformed.  As for Pomekt and the other Rikti prisoners, Hunter said that they would remain in the custody of the US-SPD until the Vanguard managed to get through the bureaucracy to have them transferred back to their hands.  In the meantime, Paragon City was safe once again.