Jason Crane is actually the direct descendant of Ichibod Crane that is depicted in the Washington Irving story. There is much speculation as to factual basis of the story, but the facts are that there really was a Hessian soldier and you can still visit the grave to this date.
Jason grew up in New York City and still holds a residence there. His father was a doctor in a small practice. They lived like most average middle-class families. Jason was blessed with an above-average intelligence. His life was normal for the most part. He started tinkering with electronics and mechanics at a young age and he seemed to be able to design in 3-D on an instinctual basis. He graduated high-school two-years ahead of schedule. He attended medical school but his true calling was not in the medical field. He applied to M.I.T. and was able to obtain his Master’s Degree in three years. After college, he started a small bio-technology R&D firm. He worked on proto-type designs as well as creating new original designs, including bio-medical applications. This allowed him to life comfortably even in the NYC area. Then one morning his normal life was turned upside down.
The morning was September 11th, 2001. The country reeled from the terror attack and so did Jason. Sitting in his apartment watching the horror, Jason realized that he had a burning desire to do something to help. He quickly made his way to his R&D firm and donned an advanced prototype exo-suit. The suit was designed to help people with spinal injuries walk again. The suit also could augment the wearer's natural abilities and grant the wearer enhanced senses through a cluster of sensors. Having donned the suit, he made his way to the site of the towers to help out.
As he helped to dig through the rubble, he realized that he felt alive for the first time in a long time. He returned home and started to think. Jason started to work on plans for the exo-suit to be modified to be used in a more combat-oriented role. He had the available tools thanks to his company but now he wanted a motif. Something that could be used for the psychological edge. His own personal calling card as it were.
The answer came in an email. Jason's cousin had just been sworn in as a police officer in the village of Sleepy Hollow, in upstate New York. She sent a picture to Jason as a sort of tongue-in-cheek joke about a Crane being back in Sleepy Hollow. As he looked at the picture, he took note of the arm patch on her uniform. A headless horseman rearing back on a steed. It was at this time that Jason had his answer. He started to work on the tools that he would use to craft his armor. He purchased new equipment and components through his company and then diverted them to his own workshop. As he assembled the components, his vision started to take form. The idea was simple. He designed a battlesuit out of the exo-suit that he had first used. He then incorporated a crystal lattice matrix cloaking layer on the helmet that could render the head invisible. This would give the visage of a headless warrior.
Next he created a large cyber-steed which he nicknamed 'Ichibod'. He knew that a regular horse would be vulnerable and a liability in combat. The tactic of taking out the rider’s horse was used since the advent of mounted combat. The mechanical horse allowed him to be able to ride at high speeds through the streets without having to worry about a real animal getting hurt. With all the pieces in place, he took to the streets fighting against street-level criminals, and took the name, the Rider. He started to make a name for himself and started to get the feeling that he was unbeatable. One evening, Jason came up against a super-powered criminal that quickly obliterated those feelings. The fight was over quickly and Jason limped away to lick his wounds and his ego. Jason returned to the drawing board and soon Ichibod received a major upgrade. Taking the idea of the rider and horse being as one, Jason took the cyber-steed back to the drawing board completely. After the redesign, the cyber-steed would be able to reconfigure itself and transform into a heavy Battle Suit that encompasses the rider. This power upgrade now allowed the Rider to become the HORSEMAN. In this new form, Jason could fight against or side-by-side with other super-powered heroes.
The Horseman Combat system is comprised of two key pieces: UNIT #1 A.S.I.C.S. (Advanced Sensory Integration Combat System)
The ASICS suit is an advanced system that can actually transfer data and sensory input directly to the brain via a synaptic relay. Once the suit is activated, the on-board sensors start scanning the surrounding environment. This allows the wearer to have an almost “super-natural” sense of his environment. It is also capable of studying an opponent and predicting the next movement that they could make. The suit’s outer layer is an advanced liquid polymer armor suspension that is capable of absorbing a considerable amount of damage. The enclosed exo-skeleton grants the wearer enhanced strength and with the onboard sensors, the wearer also benefits from an enhanced dexterity.
As more of a gimmick, Jason added a holographic lattice to the outside of the helmet. This lattice effectively cloaks the wearer’s head. The overall image is that of a headless soldier in armor. Jason remembered the stories of how the Headless Horseman terrorized the people of Sleepy Hollow. Jason realized that the time had come for the Horseman to return. Jason armed himself with an advanced design, mono-blade sword that was capable of cutting through all but the toughest materials. Thus the Rider was born. UNIT #2 “ICHABOD” (Mecha-steed)
“Ichabod”, as Jason has dubbed him, is the second component of the Horseman. The mecha-steed unit is what it sounds like. A mechanical/robotic horse which the Rider uses. The steed is the size of a warhorse and is powerfully built. It has a long black mane and tail. Its body is a satin black color. The eyes glow a fierce red color. The animal’s systems allow it to run for an indefinite amount of time and at speeds able to match most sports cars. The Rider is held on by magna-claps in the saddle area allowing the Rider to use both his hands to fight. Commands are relayed to the horse, via the A.S.I.C.S. interface. Ichabod has a rudimentary A.I. system that gives him the semblance of a real horse, however Ichabod remains completely loyal to Jason and would willingly face destruction to help Jason out.
The image of a headless rider galloping towards you waving a razor-sharp sword can be disheartening, but the true terror of the Horseman comes when the Rider declares, MECHAMERGE!!!
Upon the activation of the M.C.C.S. (Modular Combat Configuration System) the Rider and the Mecha-Steed become one. The steed switches its configuration and transforms into a power-armor combat suit. When the Rider and the Mecha-Steed combine, they become the HORSEMAN. The steed transforms and enclosed the Rider. The Rider is housed inside the torso of the Horseman, while the Rider’s legs and arms are in the Horseman’s limbs. Holding true to the Headless Horseman motif, there is no head for the Horseman. The same sensor system that is incorporated into the A.S.I.C.S. unit is used to provide the Horseman with its sensors. The pilot’s head is located between the shoulders of the Horseman. If there is a crash of the sensor systems and its redundant backups, then the torso armor can be reconfigured to allow for the Rider’s head to become exposed.
The Horseman configuration boasts several abilities that the Rider and Steed do not have access to. The Horseman has access to a Plasma Emitter that grants the Horseman ranged combat abilities. It also carries a larger version of the Horseman’s Sword which is not quite as sharp but can easily cause significant damage. The Horseman configuration has access to thruster engines which allow it to fly with a top speed of 250 mph. The armor of the Horseman is hardened and can take a significant amount of damage.
The Horseman configuration can be used in confrontations with super-powered enemies where heavier armor and weapons are needed. Jason has plans for upgrading the systems of the unit.
HORSEMAN 3.0: A New World, A New Suit
After relocating to the Freedom City area and joining up with the fledgling group of the new Freedom League, Jason was able to sit down and re-evaluate his design. Jason found that he had spent most of his time in the Horseman configuration and had not been utilizing the “Rider” mode much. Jason opted to cast away the “Rider” mode and started to work on a dedicated “Horseman” combat suit. As before, the battlesuit was taken back to the drawing board. The new suit would keep some of the key imagery of the “Horseman”, namely the cloaked head and black armor, but the transformation mode was discarded in order for there to be more space for advanced equipment and components to be added. The final system was a smaller, more compact unit that provided a wider range of resources/tools for Jason. Jason was in the testing stages of the Horseman Mk III, when a second tragedy struck the east coast.
A huge series of earthquakes shook the entire east coast in the period of 15 minutes. Millions of people lost their lives and billions of dollars of damage was reaped. Most of the major cities were badly damaged and Freedom City was no exception.
The new suit also proved to have its own share of problems. Being that there was no “Rider” mode, the ASICS suit, that had acted as the interface, was gone. Jason tried to incorporate the ASICS into the new armor but the interface was not as reliable. Jason then took a huge leap of faith in technology and went in a totally different direction. He knew that the problem was as much in the operator as with the armor.
Jason had researched the use of advanced nanites to repair and possibly modify the human nervous system. The research was being targeted to aid people with spinal injuries. Based on this information, Jason started to gather all the data that he could about the new bleeding-edge tech and then started to play with it. Several months later, at early hours in the morning, Jason had come to a point that he could go no further, without taking a mjor step. He had designed a nano-latice that would directly interface with his nervous system and provide the direct link between human and machine that he needed to optimize the performance of the suit. SO in those early hours, Jason injected himself with the nanites. Over the next few days, he gave himself several more injections of the nanites. After several more doses, the nanites started to graft a new artificial nervous system onto and over his organic one. This synthetic nervous system allowed him to interface with the suit on a level not thought of before. The suit’s sensors became his own senses. The new interface also had a secondary effect. The nanites provided him with an accelerated healing rate, as they continued to repair damage that they came across. The nanites had infiltrated almost all of his body, providing advanced healing as well as enhanced cognitive processing abilities as new pathways were created in his brain
In his personal journal, Jason has written on several occassions that:
“…the Horseman seems to rise from tragedy… as if it needs tragedy to “grow”. I cannot help but remember that the first Horseman system was spawned by Sept. 11th and now the latest incarnation was kick-started by the tragic chain of earthquakes that all but destroyed the east coast. Whenever I think on this, I would lie if I said that the old stories of the Headless Horseman didn’t seem to come back to me and chill me to the core. What legacy have I wrought upon myself? What have I done?”The Legacy Continues:
Dr. Adrian Eldrich, Master of Magic approached Jason about an idea that had come to him in a vision. Together they started to work on what would become the next major modification to the Horseman’s armor. This new armor was dubbed the Witch Stone Armor because of the gem-like stone mounted on the chest-plate. The Witch Stone Armor was designed at the prompting of Eldritch because he feared a time when a powerful magic-user could / would rise up and the ensuing battle would require might AND magic. The Witch Stone Armor looks different than the usual Horseman Armor. But still retains many of the function of the original suit. This also does not use a transformation system. This suit locked the configuration in, which became the standard.
Although both suits of armor incorporate many of the same operational systems, the Witch Stone Armor differs the most in the weapons it can employ. The Witch Stone suit is designed to fight super-natural foes rather than conventional ones. The suit’s GPIL is replaced by a magical array that can project “Spirit Bolts”. It can also cast a large “web” of sorts that is capable of snaring ethereal creatures. One of the biggest advantages that the Witch Stone Armor has is its ability to manifest a “Planar Door” that allows it to travel from one plane of existence to another. This doorway is generated at the expense of offensive abilities. The other major advantage that the Witch Stone Armor has is its “Spirit Field”. The armor generates a powerful force field that is only effective against supernatural energies. Horseman 3.0 - 3.5
There were a few upgrades for the latest version of the suit. The first upgrade is an on-board A.I. that can gather information and in rapidly developing emergency situations. In a crisis situation, the A.I. can take control of the suit. This is designed to act as a safety measure in case Jason is rendered unconscious.
The second change/upgrade was the switching of the main on-board weapon from a gas-phase iodine laser (GPIL) to a kinetic pulse weapon system. (KPWS). The KPWS system allows the weapon to be used in numerous different environments and does not degrade due to atmospheric particulates.
The next upgrade that was added in the 3.5 suit was an environmental adaptation /re-configuration system. The system incorporates a series of forcefields and thermal compensators that are designed to protect the suit in almost any enviroment. This system eliminates the need for numerous combat suits, designed for different enviroments.
Version 3.5 also was the first suit to have an on-board A.I. system, >"Ichibod"<. This new design now grants the Horseman an unparallelled advantage on the battle field.
The final change was a small cosmetic one. The suit’s outer shell was refined and smoothed out. Horseman MAXLOAD
The latest design to come forth in the Horseman series of battlesuits is the MAXLOAD armor.
MAXLOAD is the “heavy hitter ” of the arsenal. The suit incorporates long-range missles and a “zeus cannon”. The Zeus cannon is a large static discharge weapon that is capable of projecting a “bolt of lightning”. The fists are equipped with kinetic field generators that make the suit’s punches hit harder and with armor piercing effect.
The suit is designed with many of the same features as the Horseman armor. The MAXLOAD does not have flight or cloaking abilities. Jason determined that if MAXLOAD was being used, then cloaking was not an issue and the unit is too heavy to effectively be carried by the standard flight systems.Return of the Witch Stone Armor
While Jason kept himself busy with the upgrades to the Horseman, the Witchstone armor sat silently in a storage container. One afternoon Dr. Adrian Eldrich, Master of Magic appeared on Jason’s doorway. He was tired from a recent confrontation. Eldrich told Jason of a growing presence that he had sensed previously. It was this initial sensing that prompted Eldrich to have the first armor built. Now Eldritch was at Jason’s door with a simple message… “Time to go back to the drawing board.”
Jason and Eldrich worked around the clock to craft a new suit that would be able to handle the emerging threat. The decision was made to keep most of the original suit and then add to it. One of the first additions was an on-board A.I. system. “Ichibod” would now be able to function in the Witchstone Armor as well as the other suits. Jason upgraded the physical structure of the suit making it tougher and stronger. He also upgraded the sensors to function more effieciently.
As Jason worked on the mechanical side of the suit, Eldrich worked on Witchstone itself. Eldrich was able to open up channels of energy in the stone and then through arcane rituals, he crafted new channels. The Witchstone could now channel in such a way that it allows the suit to adapt to different opponents as needed. The suit can react to an opponent's attack and generate abilities that allow it to combat the opponent with the most effective weapon or defense. This was done so that the suit could stay even with whatever the spirit-realm through at Jason and the suit. The suit’s weapon systems remained the same, as they had always been effective.Horseman 4.0
After the battle with Ghost Tiger, Jason took the Horseman back to the drawing board and reworked the design. He removed equipment that was not used and tweaked the systems that he could use. He made a few upgrades based on the results of the battle. The biggest upgrade was the incorporation of a kinetic energy manipulation system. The armor's systems absorb kinetic energy and then use it for both movement and weapons. The KPWS system also allows the weapon to be used in numerous different environments and does not degrade due to atmospheric particulates.
The final change was a small cosmetic one. The suit’s outer shell was refined and smoothed out.