The "Alpha-Omega Gambit" is a pivotal moment in the history of the City of Heroes MMO.
It was the last major campaign by the Earth's heroes to stop the threat of the Rikti, and the sacrifices made as a result were so powerful that it had an effect over the whole hero community for years to follow.
The Rikti War
The Rikti War had been going on for six months. Much of the major cities on Earth were devastated by the Rikti in the first few days of their attack starting on May 23, 2002, but none more so than Paragon City. The Rikti seemed fixated on not just destroying Paragon City and its heroes, but in deconstructing the city by dividing it into huge zones through giant War Walls.
Although the heroes managed to keep the Rikti from completely destroying the city, privately they knew it was a losing battle. The Rikti continued to get supplies and support from their own home universe, and those supplies seemed endless. In addition, the Rikti had been preparing for this invasion for quite some time; establishing pockets of storage spaces all over the world.
The United Nations had successfully mobilized all the heroes and villains into one collective army known as the Vanguard, and, under the direction of Statesman, they were able to shut down, seize, and destroy almost all of the hidden Rikti bases.
That left the Rikti's most fortified base in Paragon City, which contained the main portal connected directly to their home in the Rikti Universe. As long as the Rikti could continue to get supplies and support from there, they could not be stopped. They would eventually prevail through attrition.
The plan, which was eventually called the "Alpha-Omega Gambit", was conceived by Statesman, Dr. Science, and the British superhero known as Hero 1. Dr. Science used data collected from the Portal Corporation to determine the precise dimensional frequency of the Rikti Universe. Dr. Science was able to come up with a "barrier" that, when used in conjunction with the destruction of the main portal's generators, would not only shut down the portal, but also prevent the Rikti from creating new portals to the Primal Universe.
The catch was, that for the barrier to work, it had to be put in place in the Rikti Universe. And the portal generators had to be destroyed on their side as well, since the Rikti showed they could create new portals quickly. It was a suicide run for whomever would have that task.
Statesman and Hero 1 came up with a way for the Vanguard forces to carry out Dr. Science's idea. The remaining heroes would form into two teams, with the larger team committing to an all-out assault on the Rikti facility to draw out as many Rikti troops as possible. This would allow a smaller team to slip past the defenses and make their way to the main Rikti Portal, and on to the Rikti Universe.
It was extremely risky. If it worked, the Rikti would be routed and the invasion would come to a quick end. But if it failed, humanity itself would be doomed to extinction.
The Alpha Team, which engaged the Rikti directly in an all-out assault outside their main base, was led by Statesman. It consisted of most of the remaining super-powered beings - over a thousand strong, hero and villain alike - along with ten thousand human Vanguard soldiers.
With the humans providing support and perimeter defense, the Alpha Team charged head-on into the fortifications to draw out the Rikti troops. Tens of thousands of Rikti shock troopers along with drop ships and hovering probes raced out to defend their base.
Lives started to be lost in a matter of seconds. Heroes and villains worked together to keep the Rikti distracted and focused on them.
While the Alpha Team kept the Rikti engaged, the smaller Omega Team, led by Hero 1, slipped past the defenses. The Omega Team consisted of fifty heroes of either natural or mystical origins, and included some of their most powerful surviving mystics.
Most of the Omega Team would slip through to the Rikti Universe, while a smaller subgroup, led by Colonel John Battlerock, would cover the team on the Earth-side of the portal and destroy it when they see that the generators were destroyed on the other side or they discover that the rest of the team failed. That way, if the "gambit" failed, they would buy humanity some extra time, since it would still cut off the Rikti's main source of supply and support.
The team were able to use powerful charms to conceal themselves from the Rikti, having learned early on in the conflict that the Rikti were particularly vulnerable to magic. This allowed them to gain entry into the facility and make their way to the room housing the main portal.
But magic charms are not precise. A mistake was made, and the team was discovered.
The Rikti sent reinforcements in from the home world, forcing the team to make a mad dash to the portal. Battlerock and the other support members fought bravely but were quickly overpowered. Ajax was hit with a containment field. Battlerock was critically injured when his head was shoved into the side of the main portal and then tossed through a smaller portal, seemingly to his death.
Hero 1 and the rest of the surviving members were able to erect the barrier spell and destroy the portal generators, thus destroying the portal itself and preventing the Rikti from sending any more reinforcements.
On the Earth-side, the feedback from the destroyed portal destroyed much of the main facility itself. The containment bubble which imprisoned Ajax was hurled to the outer periphery of the battle area.
Without further help from their home world, the remaining Rikti forces quickly folded. They abandoned their bases and seeking shelter underground.
Earth had won and the super-powered beings had prevailed, but at a terrible cost.
Of the thousand-strong members of the Alpha Team, about two hundred heroes and villains survived. The eight surviving "leaders" of the Alpha Team were later referred to in the media as the "Surviving Eight", creating the urban myth that they were the only survivors of the conflict.
Ajax was considered to be the only survivor of the Omega Team, with Vanguard forces retrieving his comatose body in the outlying area of the destroyed Rikti base. Years later it would be revealed that Colonel Battlerock had survived as well, although he was clearly damaged from the battle.
With the invasion over and peace returning to the world, the long process of healing and cleaning up began.
In honor of Hero 1 and the Omega Team, all heroes and villains agreed to give up their capes, which was the distinctive symbol of the British superhero. This gesture of remembrance would last for a couple of years, with the act of "earning the right" to wear a cape being a rite of passage for both heroes and villains.
Five years after the start of the First Rikti Invasion, the Rikti managed to return through a different series of portals. It was also discovered that two other members of the Omega Team survived and were fighting to return home.