|“||You got some spark in you, even if you're still on the same level as most of the superpowered dogs here in Praetoria. Me? I'm the Top Dog, I keep all the other powered dogs in line.||„|
Michael White, nicknamed Marauder, is a Praetorian Guard of the villain Tyrant, ruler of the alternate reality of Praetorian Earth in the MMO City of Heroes. All of the Praetorians are doubles of the game's signature heroes, but from a reality where instead of using their powers merely to protect their world, they took it over. Marauder is the Praetorian counterpart of the Primal Earth hero Back Alley Brawler and runs Power Division, a special law enforcement extension of Tyrant's government made up of superpowered individuals, drafted into service for the state. Ironically despite being the head of the illustrious Power Division, Marauder has no superpowers and he takes pride in his ability to remain firmly in-charge of a literal army of meta-humans thanks to raw human skill and drive.
The Hamidon Wars
Back in 1929, a man named Marcus Cole had found the legendary Well of the Furies, a receptacle for the powers of the gods of old, when he drank from it he became an actual demigod, a mortal vested with the power of Zeus, while at the fountain he found the fabled Pandora's Box, but found that the "Hope" said to be inside was the bound up potential of humanity, opening it caused a ripple effect that brought figurative demigods back to the world, not seen since times of myth and legend, but in a contemporary setting. Since that day technology, scientific breakthroughs, mutant birth rates and various paranormal events took a sharp rise.
By 2004 a geneticist named Hamidon used the accelerated techniques of previous 75 years to make his own breakthrough in biological engineering to create the Devouring Earth, with himself as patient-zero. Hamidon mutated into a massive amoeba like creature the size of an island with power over base elements. Hamidon's condition was contagious to an effect and anyone who came in contact with him turned into giant elemental mutations, this is the Devouring Earth. Hamidon exists on both Praetorian Earth and Primal Earth (the main reality of the game), but on Primal Earth an event called the Rikti War occurred in 2004. The Rikti were an invasion force from another dimension, many heroes including Officer Michael White, nicknamed Back Alley Brawler, fought to protect Earth from the Rikti and became a signature hero of the city once the planet was secured. In Praetoria things unraveled differently.
Since the Rikti were from their own dimension there was no Praetorian version of them, Primal Earth specifically had been targeted. On Primal Earth, Hamidon had seen the invasion and decided to lay in wait til either the Rikti or humans were dealt with. Hamidon would be discovered shortly after the Rikti War and with the meta-humans of Primal Earth still ready for a fight Hamidon was forced into retreat before it could get its plans underway. But with no Rikti on Praetoria, Hamidon began its own takeover instead. With no forewarning of the massive elemental monstrosities much of the world was compromised and The Devouring Earth were even more devastating than the Rikti would have been.
One Rule: The strong make the rules
Michael White became involved in gang violence at a young age. His neighborhood had taught him to either be strong enough to dominate others or he would be dominated and he progressively took on stronger and stronger rivals until he was a local street legend. White's life changed though along with everyone else in 2004 when the Hamidon Wars started.
With the monsters attacking cites and killing whatever did not end up becoming infected, White saw the opportunity to smash the heads of everything in-front of him. White prioritized protecting his neighbors though and after he had fought off the monsters on his street he went throughout his city looking for any survivors and fighting off whatever was after them and when he was done with his city, he moved on to the next and the next. White continued his pattern, wandering across the American midwest searching for any survivors and killing anything in his way. White had every able-bodied person he saved join him to fight the Devouring Earth and save others just as they themselves had been saved. White became a folk-legend of the post-apocalypse and he was nicknamed Marauder, as he ravaged across the land of monsters building up a bigger and bigger crew of survivors turned militia.
While Marauder and his crew worried about survivors, Hamidon's main forces were being fought off by Marcus Cole, who was leading every meta-human he could find against it. Marcus's personal attack team of the psychic Shalice Tilman, the radioactive Raymond Keyes, a bio-enhanced super-speedster named Steven Berry, the contract killer - Justin Sinclair and his own granddaughter Megan Duncan, managed to save the day and Hamidon retreated from the remains of civilization though still firmly ruled over the wilds. Cole declared himself the new Emperor of human society as no official forces had been able to fight off Hamidon and proclaimed he would keep humans safe from any further threats. Cole appointed his team as Praetors of the State and had them rebuild while he flew across the world looking for survivors to bring in as citizens under his new empire. When Cole came upon Marauder and his crew he was amazed at how many people Marauder had managed to save. The crew and their families were taken in to Praetoria as citizens and Cole offered Marauder an honorary position as a Praetor, something White gladly accepted.
White was put in charge of putting together law enforcement for Praetoria. This would become the Praetorian Police Department which White eventually left to it's own devices once he had set-up a proper chain of command and training system. The meta-human population showed no signs of slowing down and as society was starting anew, Cole was concerned and did not want another Hamidon to happen. White had his concerns as well, the remnants of his crew devolved overtime to petty thugs that could not function with society and formed a street gang called The Destroyers. Emperor Cole and Praetor White decided to form a special unit, working for Praetoria but outside normal law enforcement as a troubleshooting team, it was titled The Power Division. Meta-Humans, or extraordinarily well trained/skilled humans/human-like citizens, would be recruited into the Power Division as soon as their powers/skills were discovered. White would have lead of the Powers Division and threw newbies at potentially life-threatening situations to either have them killed before they became a threat like Hamidon, or get stronger and receive training to build character and loyalty as his new superhuman special-forces with extra-legal privileges.
Marauder was first encountered as part of the Maria Jenkins story line in City of Heroes, at the time an arc made up of using the inter-dimensional portals of Portal Corp. to explore alternate worlds. Eventually Maria and the Player attract attack by the evil alternate world of Praetoria over the course of portal activation. At the time, Marauder was not even addressed as a Praetor, just an enforcer for Tyrant who ran a crew of wild thugs as his back-up. After the game's 21st issue a new sister game called Going Rogue came out where the Praetors were greatly refined and players could chose to start off as Praetorians.
Starting as a Praetorian will see the player being recruited by the P.P.D. to deal with a Destroyer raid as a tutorial. Completing the fight against The Destroyers will see the Player recruited as a trainee in the Power Division. Marauder takes little mercy on the Player and sends them in to fight the Resistance. Depending on the Player's choices to fight or help The Resistance, which claim Emperor Cole and the Praetors are corrupt, the Player may be genuinely joining The Power Division as Loyalist or just paying lip-service in order to roam Praetoria without being labeled Resistance as well. Even as a Praetorian Loyalist there are alternating motive paths, Responsibility - Acting in the interests of maintaining order, or Power - Acting in the interests of building prestige. Regardless of alignment or true loyalties the Players will report to Marauder after the mission, as a formal member of the Powers Division.
- Canonically Maria Jenkin's arc is occurring as the Player is working their way up through Praetoria. So after it is done White will travel through to Primal Earth and begin assaults with other Power Division members.
Over the course of the game, Players will find many forms of corruption in Praetoria. The first scandal involving Praetor White is discovery that his girlfriend, Cleopatra, is a double agent for The Resistance. Alerting White to the situation or covering for Cleopatra is a line in the sand for alignments to the Resistance or Loyalists. If alerted White resolves that no exceptions can be made and goes to kill Cleopatra, once alerted White can not be talked out of it. White is in no mode to talk after killing his girlfriend but takes the time to enforce that traitors must be killed regardless of personal feelings.
White again loses his sheen when it is revealed the Destroyers are on a drug called Fixadine, which gives them extra-human strength and stamina but also causes them to become short-tempered, aggressive, hyper, and eventually feral, explaining their behavior after parting ways with White. But the Player will find White has been the one supplying the Fixadine to The Destroyers. If the Player is Responsible White will only be implicated but the Player will not be in a position to find the same proof, but instead be more busy finding a cure for Fixadine.
The Power path will find the proof and call White on it. When called on it, White states he has two reasons for supplying the drug: The first is he is there to make sure people get stronger and that is exactly what he is doing, The Destroyers get stronger on the drug and The Powers Division get stronger adapting to The Destroyers; The second reason is The Destroyers were already addicted to a primitive version of Fixadine and the withdrawal was seemingly killing them so White sees keeping them in an intoxicated state and killing them off while they are on top of the world as a kinder fate for warriors than dying of shock and splitting head aches. To get out of the situation White offers the Power Loyalist Players the location of the drug-lab he set up for the Fixadine and tells them they can go break it up and give him an excuse to stop supplying it while making the Player look like a hero for a firm blow against the Destroyers main drug supply with no need to go into details about where it came from; as a Power Loyalest the Player will agree.
After working with the other Praetors, Loyalests are sent via their own version of the Portals to Primal Earth with the same mentality White imparted with them at the beginning, throwing them into the wild and letting them either win or die. All of the contacts of the Players final moral path will be there to see the Player off. White is a Responsibility contact, but even if they go the Power route, White is still proud of them as a little whelp he helped turn into a "Big Dog". While on Primal Earth though, the Praetorian players will find Cole is initiating the strike, not Primal Earth. It is up to the Players how to rationalize this, but with Longbow and Arachnos, both offering more opportunities to guardianship/responsibly or power/violence for good or evil in Primal Earth and both also agreeing to help the Resistance, story-wise the lessons White imparts on the Players can be juggled for any motive.
The Last time White is seen in the story-line is for the endgame content of the Incarnate Trials. Incarnate trials allow the Players to break the level 50 barriers and get increased powers to that of Marcus's level as Incarnates/demigods. To grow as an Incarnate one must fight other beings of an Incarnate nature and absorb the essence of The Well of the Furies within them. By that point in the game with Emperor Cole's first strike at Portal Corp. fought off, he decides he needs more Incarnates to win and starts sharing sips of The Well of the Furies with his fellow Praetors - making them more powerful but getting them literally and figuratively drunk on that level of power. Because of this even former Praetorians are given a practical excuse to join the forces of Primal Earth in fighting off the Praetorians and becoming stronger and stronger Incarnates while bringing the corruption of Praetoria down.
The Players will go to raid the Lambda sector - the central military-supply-depot for Praetoria. White will be sent to protect Lambda but is now armed with a synthetic version of The Well of the Furies water, created by Praetor Berry, who himself was one of the Praetors who drank from the Well. With the synthetic Well water, White goes from peak-human past superhuman and to the level of faux-Incarnate. As with Cleopatra, White will not think twice about killing even those he once called friend and proceeds to murder the entire strike-force sent to disarm Lambda and undermine the security of Praetoria.
Unlike other Praetors which are "defeated for good" and at least one, Praetor Tilman, definitively killed, Praetor White is one of the few Praetors explicitly stated to survive but remain firmly secured while Primal Earth decides what to do with him.
Powers and Abilities
Marauder's official powers are Super-Strength and Invulnerability - though these are both naturally gained and not superhuman. In Primal Earth, Back Alley Brawler also is mostly operating on natural skill but wears a set of hydraulic gloves, so he could throw punches as hard as he wanted without continually damaging his hands. It is presumed Marauder has similar reason for his gloves (assuming they are gloves and not cybernetics). Michael's strength is a result of his Spartan lifestyle. His Darwinist outlook kept him steadily taking on stronger and stronger foes until he arrived at his current preposterous but still thoroughly human strength.
The Power Division gives White an obscene amount of prestige and though he is no longer officially an officer, the police and military forces are still subject to his orders over that of public interest and he can only be officially out-ranked by the emperor. After he becomes a faux-Incarnate, Marauder is truly superhuman, he is actually a temporary demigod. His strength has no upper limit at that point and he will steadily get stronger and stronger by the second as the fight goes on. Once Praetor White enters, the challenge of the force is to dismantle the remaining Lambda weaponry and portals while one party trades blows with White until the rest of the team can get back but before White's strength bonus is too high for even the entire team to fight him. When the weapon dismantlement is complete hopefully the Task-Force can unite their forces to take Praetor White down.
- Emperor Cole is exposed after White's defeat to have actually ended the Hamidon war by making a pact with Hamidon where Hamidon would control the wilds and Cole would control humanity. As both Hamidon was fought without Marauder and the videos are not broadcast until after Marauder's defeat it is likely Marauder was the only Praetor who did not know the entire government was based on deceit.
- Though he is an alternate reality version of Back Alley Brawler, conceptually Marauder is a re-used version of Lord Recluse in tactics and policy, where he views throwing his people into lethal danger as the best way to both remove the weak and improve the strong - even seeing causing said deaths as genuinely altruistic for the betterment of society.
- Both versions of Michael White start off in crime-ridden areas with corrupt police forces. To adapt to the street, Marauder got his start as a street-thug where as Back Alley Brawler got his start as a beat-cop.