The Arc Riders
The Legend of the Arc Riders
Eons ago, in the time of the Horses, great striders came and went as they pleased. These Horses of legend spanned the globe, easily Jumping from one continent to another. The Jumps of an Arc Horse resemble the jumps of lesser horses only in take-off and landing. If the grass is sweeter on the other side of the world, an Arc Horse merely Jumps to bury their nose in the fragrant blades. If the chill of artic waters or the siren song of the high plains beckons, the powerful old ones simply Jump and enjoy. The Jump of an Arc Horse clears boundaries not made of fence or hedge, but those of space – the barriers that form the curve of the horizon, the arc of the earth.
The lure of the great Arc Horses is strong; humans are drawn to their beauty, mystery and power. Arc Horses live for hundreds of years and change their skin as you and I change our clothes, allowing them to appear in guises irresistible to humans. In the old ages, humans were inconsequential to Horses, playthings to be used and tossed aside; amusing for a while, then quickly forgotten. Occasionally, one of the foolish bipeds would attempt to mount, only to fall off, lost forever in the sands between time and space – disappeared from the world when the Arc Horse Jumped.
Throughout history legends grew around these Horses; stories of certain death for humans. Known as the Scottish Kelpie, the Lakota Ghost Horse, the Greek Hippocampus, they are the myths that teach human children to fear beautiful, mystical horses; to touch such a Horse is to be dragged under the water, to become a ghost, to die.
And so it was from time immemorial until the Arc Horses were swept up in the Enlightenment and the fever for knowledge that gripped humans. Usually disdainful of bipeds, the Horses began to listen to the talk coming from the drawing rooms and societies of Europe. They lurked in the courtyards of universities. For the first time, the regal Horses began to contemplate their place in the Universe. Were they placed on earth simply to enjoy heady pastures, Jumping from one pleasure to the next? Was there a greater purpose for their gifts?
Horses who had listened in on the great thinkers and philosophers of the age in every corner of the globe met in a council and debated at length. They found common cause in the words of a preacher in the nascent Americas: “The Arc of the universe is a long one… but from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.” The Arc Horses decided it could not be coincidence that the human spoke of the arc of the universe. This was the purpose they sought. Arc Horses would become the arbiters of justice.
After much argument, it was decided that in order to work true justice in the world they would need to team with human partners. The time of discounting bipeds was past. Horses fanned across the world searching for humans that could ride. They quested to find a way to Jump without losing the rider in the ether. They were met with failure as human after human disappeared from the saddle mid-Jump. The beginning to doubt their new-found purpose, the Council began to hold discussions on the futility of the project.
One Horse refused to accept defeat and stranded rider after rider in the mist until one day, in an act of desperation, he chose a human child of barely thirteen as rider. He made the leap from Manhattan to the burgeoning shores of San Francisco while the child clung tightly to the saddle. Proving his theory with a second teenager, and then a third, this Horse brought news of his successes to the council. And so began the long partnership of teen-aged humans and Arc Horses.
During the first Jump, Horse and Rider form a strong empathetic bond – a merging of human and equine brain that serves as a primary conduit between the wishes of the council and the Riders. Horses have many special skills including a unique form of telepathy which allows the Rider to communicate with other humans, regardless the language.
After the success of the first Jumps, the council created dozens of teams consisting of six Rider and Horse pairs. They established a system of rules and regulations that helped the teams flourish and perform well. Attempts to overcome greater societal injustices were met with failure and oft times death until trial and error proved that each Rider could best bring justice to individuals.
As the first human Riders aged into adulthood, they began dropping off in the fog of the Jump field, leaving a Rider-less Horse at landing. To avoid these losses a pattern of Rider retirement, recruiting and training was established. Aged Riders become Groomsmen and provide grounded, human help to active teams. New Riders are identified young and watched until they mature enough to Ride. When a Horse ages beyond the 200 years of his prime, he joins the breeding program for the next generation of Horses and patrols the world seeking out injustices to be addressed by the Arc Rider teams.
The council provides careful stewardship of the program; thus the legacy of justice is extended and enhanced generation by generation. No Rider takes to the saddle alone. No Horse has to choose his Rider in a vacuum. No child with a hunger for justice will go without a mount.
For nearly two hundred years Arc Riders have spanned the globe, bringing justice to those that are downtrodden, to the hungry, to the misunderstood and to the persecuted. Any kid might be chosen as a Rider; if you see a Horse where there wasn’t one before, if you feel an irresistible desire to reach out and touch it, if you can stay in the saddle when it Jumps, then you too can join the Arc Riders to fight for justice.