From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The Zodiac Guardsmen is strictly a theme created for building characters, some heroic and others villainous. This is not an actual Super Group in the game, or at least not yet.
-- Wei yau 15:05, 10 December 2008 (MST)
Millennia ago, the Jade Emperor arose victorious from the War in Heaven and ascended to the Celestial Throne. Though he had cast down his opponents, he knew that the war had not truly ended. There would always be threats from rival Immortals against the Emperor and his Lady Kuan Yin. In order to protect their Noble Personages, the Jade Emperor created the Zodiac Guardsmen. Each member of the Guardsmen would honor one of the Twelve Legendary Zodiac Animals. They would each be granted powers by both the Jade Emperor, as well as their Patron Animal.
The Chinese Zodiac consists of the Twelve Patron Animals, but each rules over their own Year, Month and Day. In turn, each Patron Animal and their time must honor each of the Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water). Thus, there are a total of 8,640 Zodiac Guardsmen active at any one time.
In the passage of time, the membership of the Zodiac Guardsmen would change, as they themselves were not immortal. Many would continue to originate from magical sources. However, the Patron Animals would be increasingly influenced by the mortal realm as it grew in power. Eventually, even mortal humans would be elevated to the ranks of the Zodiac Guardsmen.
The power of the Jade Emperor began to wane in the modern world, as all of the ancient gods would suffer the same fate. This fact combined with the presence of mortals within the ranks of the Guardsmen, would lead to the event known as The Great Betrayal.
The Great Betrayal
It would begin with the sins of pride, envy and corruption and it would end with a sundering echoed throughout Heaven. The sorcerers of the Tsoo and the Zodiac Guardsmen have encountered one another many times throughout history. The Zodiac Guardsmen would often be victorious in these encounters, but in the fullness of time even comparatively few defeats would eventually amount to a great many.
The Tsoo increased in power with each of their small stolen victories. Using this power, they began to whisper secret temptations to the most susceptible of the Guardsmen. They would appeal to the vanity, pride and paranoia found in each Guardsmen. For like all things in the world, even the Guardsmen struggle to maintain balance between Yin and Yang; between the better and the baser parts of their nature.
More and more Guardsmen would see truth in the lies of the Tsoo. Why should one serve, when one can rule? Why shouldn't the strong rule over the weak? What is the reason for this power, if not to enrich oneself? The Guardsmen had always had differences amongst themselves, as would any family. But, now the corruption of the Tsoo led to increased strife and outright hostility in the ranks. As the Guardsmen became less effective, the Jade Emperor became more distracted as he was increasingly involved in the defense of his realm against the rival Immortals.
When the time was ripe and the Tsoo believed they had turned enough of the Guardsmen, the betrayers would strike. However, before the first blow could be landed, the Lady Kuan Yin shattered the bonds of the Guardsmen. Her heart could not bear seeing her children turn against one another and against herself. Rather than witness such tragedy, she banished all of the Guardsmen, both Loyal and Fallen to the mortal realm. No longer could any of them set foot in the Celestial Palace.
In the Mortal Realm
Loyal and Fallen Guardsmen alike were cast from the Heavens. They would be scattered throughout the Mortal Realm. Some would be so devastated by their descent; that they would fade into obscurity. Others would turn on one another, leading to the deaths of many. But, many more of them would find themselves in the nearest approximation to the home of Immortals amongst the mortals, Paragon City.
Once in the mortal realm, each of the Guardsmen would discover that their powers had been greatly diminished. This was the price exacted for Lady Kuan Yin's broken heart. Now, each of them must rebuild their powers and no proving ground would be more suitable than Paragon City and the Rogue Isles.
The Loyal Guardsmen in Paragon City believe that they are to endure a trial set before them by the Lady Kuan Yin. Their charge is to restore honor to the Zodiac Guardsmen by recruiting new Guardsmen to replace the Fallen and more importantly to punish the Fallen Guardsmen themselves for their betrayal.
The Loyal Guardsmen thus far identified in Paragon City are:
- Ti Gou (The Iron Dog)
- Jiang Zhu (The Honest Boar)
- Hou Ma (The Fire Horse)
- Shan Lau Hu (The Lightning Tiger)
- Shi Kuai Niu (The Stone Ox)
- Gui Bai Tou (The Ghost Rabbit)
- Dragon Scythe (Variation on "Metal Dragon") - After protecting Ti Gou from a zombie horde, Valeria Martialis was invited into the ranks of the Loyal Guardsmen. It was Jiang Zhu who gave her the title 'Dragon Scythe' after witnessing first hand Valeria Martialis' power and prowess in battle. As a Guardsmen Dragon Scythe she has taken on the role of den mother.
The Next Generation
Several new heroes in Paragon City are being considered for the next generation of Zodiac Guardsmen. Though not members yet, they are being watched and evaluated.
- Bruce Leroy Greene (Dragon)
- Crimson Bantam (Rooster)
- Tornado Rider (Ox)
- Dog O'War (Dog)
- Kassai (Horse)
- Mr. JJ Jingles (Monkey)
The law-enforcement agencies and other interested parties of Paragon City have provided liaison officers to assist the Zodiac Guardsmen, they are known collecitvely as the Paragon Guardsmen.
- B.O.A.R. - Longbow (Boar)
- Psi-Lieutenant Caballo - PPD (Horse)
- Agent Hou - Wyvern (Monkey)
- Ram of Steel - Legacy Chain (Ram)
- Pulsar Dragon - PPD (Dragon)
- Indigo Tiger - PPD (Tiger)
The Fallen Guardsmen gravitated towards The Rogue Isles. The chaotic environment would seem as a second home to them. They gather power and allies in the Rogue Isles, building an army to finally crush the remaining Loyal Guardsmen and ultimately topple the Jade Emperor from the Throne of Heaven.
The Fallen Guardsmen thus far identified in the Rogue Isles are:
- Tian Shang Lung (The Celestial Dragon)
- Xi Xiong Ji (The Death Rooster)
- Qiang Hou (The Gun Monkey)
- Kuai Lau Shu (The Cunning Rat)
- Hei Se (The Dark Snake)
- Lei Sheng Yang (The Thunder Ram)
Ones with Potential
Tian Shang Lung is always on the look-out for potential recruits amongst the scum breaking out from the Zigg on a near-daily basis. The following show some modicum of promise. If they live long enough, they just might get an offer they'd be wise not to refuse.
- Atomic Tigress (Tiger)
- Richard Jones (Rat)
- Master Nuff (Snake)
- JAK-RBT 7 (Rabbit)
- Chrysόs kriόs (Ram)
- Rayzorbach (Boar)
Even villains in the Rogue Isles must maintain some semblance of organization or hierarchy. It simply makes for a more efficient environment in which to do "business". As such, major organizations will present "emissaries" to new groups, in order to "help". Of course, the primary motivation for these organizations is to identify and secure opportunities, that they might otherwise be unaware. Tian Shang Lung refers to these "emissaries" as The Interlopers.