|“||I go to Grandville for some decent coffee and this is what happens? Well, adopt, adapt, and improve, I suppose. At least it will give me a chance to re-organize things after we clean up.Though no doubt I'll have to annihilate the persons responsible first. How bothersome.||„|
|~ Arbiter Sands - Encountered during Statesman's Task Force|
Arbiter Sands is a recurring member of the super-villain government, Arachnos, who appears in the superhero themed M.M.O. City of Heroes. Sands is one of the lauded Arbiters - grand leaders of the organization who are all equal in rank and second only to Lord Recluse himself. Even among Arbiters, Sands is something of a unique case.
Arachnos controls the Etoile Isles A.K.A. the Rogue Isles and runs it as a Social Darwinian society - where those who can't do, do not live. Anyone who does not wish to compete in the sort of society where murder is a means of dealing with rivals must pay taxes and acknowledge Lord Recluse as their lord and master; Thus Arachnos sees it's unarmed civilians less as innocent bystanders than as investors in it's government and as such their safety is important to them. Everyone who is not a submissive tax-payer needs to be of value to Arachnos somehow, either as an employee, contract killer, business partner or ally - those who elect to be none of the above quickly find themselves removed from the food-chain. As the entire system encourages murder, hedonism and a rejection of traditional morals, running a government should be a near impossibility - but thanks to the Arbiter class of Arachnos it is not.
When a soldier or bureaucrat have worked for Arachnos long or well enough they are offered a spot in Arachnos's top position - Arbiter. To become an Arbiter one must submit to the Seer-Network, a telepathic hive-mind maintained by Arachnos's highly trained psychic assassins/information officers, The Widows and Seers. Seers hypnotize each-other by constantly broadcasting subliminal messages in their telepathic network appointing Lord Recluse as their undisputed master, as the network is used as communication for high-ranking officers the background noise in their subconscious saturates the psyche's of all those invited to use the network. Potential Arbiters are given the option to be telepathically linked into the network an as such become conditioned to place loyalty to Lord Recluse above all else. Though Arbiters can still make their own choices in life, they forfeit any parts of their minds that might come into conflict with service to Lord Recluse and deviant thoughts are erased before they can even fully form. This ensures that Arachnos's overseers can never be bribed, brainwashed, possessed, black-mailed or compromised in anyway. Becoming an Arbiter is entirely optional, any who do not wish to pay the price of surrendering a piece of their psyche' to Lord Recluse do not receive the conditioning, but of-course this also means they never achieve Arachnos's most prestigious rank. Considering the dog-eat-dog society of the Rogue Isles even though it is optional, practically no-one who gets high enough to be given the option to join refuses.
Little is known about Arbiter Sands' personal life. By all accounts he was just one of many, many Rogue Isles citizens who made a career for himself as a soldier for Arachnos and eventually became very good at his job. Arbiter Sands is somewhat unique in that he is deployed for combat. Most Arbiters do not enter combat, they are too valuable to risk their lives and their high-rank ensures they have waves of soldiers ready to fight for them. In-fact even raising your hand to an Arbiter is considered a capital crime to the point death-squads are deployed to deal with such criminals. Arbiter Sands does not have this protection. Arbiter Sands is permitted to be hit or even killed, he is treated as less like an untouchable Arbiter and more like just a very, very high-rank general. There is no solid explanation for this except some minor chatter that can be overheard from Arachnos soldiers working for Sands, who mention that Arbiter Sands disgraced himself on the job and he was sent to conduct foreign affairs rather than remain on Arachnos soil. Arbiter Sands does not wear the traditional helmet for most Arbiters, though some others like Arbiter Daos also go without their helmets so they can look their soldiers/enemies in the eye. Sands also wears a pair of purple-tinted sun-glasses. Sands tries to remain friendly even with those he intends to kill, yet views killing as mundane as office-work for his profession. Everything from Sands' accessories, to his style of speaking, to his assignment as a wild-card, paints the picture of a man trying to be unique in a rank that is supposed to drain-people of individuality.
Despite his efforts to stand-out, Sands is still an Arbiter and serves Lord Recluse faithfully. While Sands is on something of a gray-list there is no indication he is unhappy with his position outside the normal structure of Arachnos's top-tier officers. Lord Recluse has told Sands he may earn a return to the Rogue Isles permanently if he serves Arachnos's foreign interests, and while Sands is eager to fulfill his duties there is no indication it is any sort of personal mission and he preforms his duties solely because they are his duties. Sands is a cynic, sophisticated, professional, personable and a hard-core killer.
Sands was first encountered in the Faultline neighborhood in Paragon City by heroes working for Jim Temblor. Jim is the son of the super-villain who the neighborhood got it's nick-name for. Faultline was a super-villain with Earthquake powers who eventually created massive fissures in Overbrook on the southern tip of the city but died in the experience. After being put on lock-down, but before clean-up efforts were underway Overbrook started to just be called "Faultline". Jim is ashamed about what his father did, but wants to know why as the man he knew was a loving caring father and as such asks heroes to help him unravel the history of Faultline
While going through some crumbling buildings, heroes will encounter Arbiter Sands being held hostage by the Lost. The Lost are a group of mutated and brainwashed homeless people who in addition to many other things, kidnap wanders and expose them to the mutagen that will make them Lost too. As Arachnos are never officially encountered at prior levels, new heroes will likely have no idea who Arbiter Sands is (both on a narrative and meta-level. Sands is refusing to submit to his abductees and insists they are making a tremendous mistake. Sands thanks heroes for freeing him and says he is there too to unravel the mysteries of Faultline in Faultline. He proposes a temporary team-up. As Sands is unarmed due to the Lost, at first he is dependent on the hero walking him out. Before leaving he tells heroes he will remember them.
Sands will arrive later when the hero is subject to a Lost ambush. This time, Sands is armed and ready to repay both his abductors and liberator. Sands continues to follow along to uncover more of the mystery behind Faultline while he is there. It is discovered Faultline was originally a super-hero, but his foe PsiCurse, used a device he called PsychoChronoMetron - that converted psychic energy to temporal energy. The PsychoChronoMetron ended up turning Faultline into a super-villain, the temporal echo made it seem as he had always been a super-villain throughout history though PsiCurse could only affect the figure of Faultline, he knew nothing about the real man and so out of costume, Faultline reverted to his true self, completely unaware his alter-ego had been mind-controlled into super-villainy. Sands is very glad to find the info, though later it is revealed why, he intends to recover/reconstruct the device so that Arachnos will be (and always has been) in control of Paragon City.
The device will eventually be destroyed, and Jim Temblor's father cleared. Shortly after Faultline is cleared heroes will run into a rival of Sands, Nocturne. Nocturne is a Widow, looking to become an Arbiter herself by showing-up the one Arbiter she is allowed to openly fight if need be. Nocturne was trying to conduct an Arachnos invasion before Sands could. Her defeat reveals that Sands is already moving ahead with his original assignment, she had hoped she could undertake on her own. Before he found out about PsiCurse's device Sands was already concerned with the conquest of Paragon City. With the quake, there is much ambiguity on where Paragon City begins and ends and as such there is an entire Arachnos detachment who were using digging technology and high-explosives to enter Paragon City from underground. With a small army just under the surface, Sands is their contact already inside the city, trying to coordinate the operation. The hero will need to stop Sands once they find out that he was originally there to take-over the city. Sands and Nocturne are defeated but both disappear before the police can get there, Arachnos spirits them both away. As Arachnos is part of the United Nations, they can not be found operating on foreign soil. Though both will face punishment for letting their in-fighting alert heroes to the operation, Arachnos can not afford to just leave Arbiter Sands and Nocturne to police questioning which would implicate the entire government to international sanctions.
Statesman's Task Force
Arbiter Sands is the first major boss for the Statesman Task Force. Statesman is Lord Recluse's hated enemy (in fact the reason he became a super-villain and later established Arachnos). Statesman wants to bring the fight to Lord Recluse in his home-country and puts together a Task Force of high-ranking player-heroes to go on. The first stop of the Task Force is raiding an Arachnos weapons depot, overseen as it turns out, by Arbiter Sands. Sands claims he was just briefly back home to send in some reports and get some coffee when he saw the operation. He leads up the Task Forces first major boss fight.
Sands briefly appears on an alignment mission, a mission that changes Heroes to Vigilantes, Vigilantes to Villains, Villains to Rogues, and Rogues to Heroes. Sands is on the Vigilantes to Villains mission. He and Nocturne are in a stand off and the Vigilante - already a loose-cannon hero, will need to arrest both of them to maintain their alignment and bring in the forces of evil, but as it is a battle between rivals and not outlaws, doing so only reinforces how the Vigilante is no longer acting for the safety of the public and just on a quest to fight people worse than them.
Sands also guest appears as part of an invasion force against the alternate reality of Praetoria. Praetorian Earth is a reality where instead of using their powers to protect the world, Paragon's signature super-heroes used their powers to take control of it. The Praetorian government tried to invade the Primal Earth (the game's main reality) but were defeated. The Resistance against the Praetorian government reached out to members of Primal Earth to seek help overthrowing their oppressive overlord - both heroes and villains respond and Arachnos is more than happy to help overthrow an alternate version of their hated foes in exchange for forming an alliance with those who stand to remake society. In the counter-offensive from Primal Earth, Sands is the one leading the expedition, seeking to conquer Praetoria as the feather in his cap that Faultline should have been. Players who started off as Praetorians and found work with the Praetorian science officer, Anti-Matter, will need to stop Sands' offensive just as Heroes of Primal Earth needed to do in Faultline. Sands and his initial unit will be defeated, but escape.
Sands will return though to face Emperor Cole, A.K.A. Tyrant, in his POV story mission just prior to the game's final Incarnate Trial. The apex of the Praetorian counter-invasion will be lead by Lord Recluse, accompanied by nearly all his inner circle (Arbiter Daos being the only one not present to manage policy at home). Sands is among those to stand by for the show-down with Cole. Tyrant, using his full powers can not lose even against a full army of the best of the best professional super-villains and all of them are defeated. However Lord Recluse's attack was meant for three things that do succeed - Getting Cole to reveal his true powers, acting as a distraction for the Players in the Incarnate trial and while there giving Lord Recluse a chance to break Cole's internal justifications for his extremest policies by showing him the people of Praetoria accepted out-and-out super-villains as their saviors if it meant getting rid of him; All accomplished thanks to the Arachnos detachment. In the attack, Sands is little more than just an extra face in a crowd Cole will tear through, but with the attack fulfilling it's true purpose, even with all those who attended sent to emergency rooms, Sands' final appearance in the game sees him helping to win the day by losing in the initial attack.