As a child growing up in sprawling Southern California, Ryder was exposed to the vagaries of life among the myriad nameless, faceless denizens of a modern megacity. Like many inhabitants of the rapidly degenerating planet Earth, Ryder grew up in relative poverty. Though his parents lacked the resources to provide him with an escape route from the crumbling society on Earth, his aptitude for mathematics and a talent for pattern recognition offered a faint glimmer of hope.
Like many of the Earth's poor, salvation could be had by enlisting in the military, and Ryder's gifts proved to be coveted assets. Consequently, he became a Signal Specialist and began training in the ways of codebreaking and cryptography. Unsurprisingly, these skills were worth quite a bit to the Military, which found itself in a constant battle to defend Earth's titanic megacorporations from environmental terrorists bent on hindering any effort to harvest what little was left of Earth's once great bounty.
At the age of 18, Ryder joined the army, excelling at decoding and signals within 5 years. In the next 4 years, Ryder worked as Signals Specialist interpreting covert codes and data. His skills earned him the nickname "Able," a common slang for Sigs Spec. After this, Ryder worked with the Resources Development Administration, deciphering the coded communications of eco-terrorists attempting to disrupt the RDA's mining efforts in the Marianas Trench. Although Ryder's work helped safeguard the RDA's operations in the Pacific Ocean, an accident during tectonic subduction exercises in the Trench induced a tremendous tsunami that engulfed a large section of the Pacific coast.
Succumbing to crushing feelings of guilt, Ryder left his post at the RDA and returned to the military to live out the rest of his days working a cryptology job that came with as little responsibility as possible. He was tormented by his role in a disaster that had taken the lives of so many, despite the fact that it led to the discovery of vast tracts of new mining resources which the RDA claimed offset any “collateral damages.”
And so it went for a few years, and Ryder kept his head down and his mouth shut while he collected his paycheck without ever having to worry about things like being invested in his work or caring about… well, anything, really.
He was approached with a way off the decaying rock that was Earth. In the far-flung reaches of outer space, big things were going on. Alien worlds were being discovered and new technologies were springing up as a result, and somebody wanted Ryder's help with it all. It was the chance of a lifetime, so of course it came with its share of strings. The RDA had re-entered Ryder's life for a second time, and they wanted to enroll him in their Avatar Program, a scientific curiosity that fused human DNA with that of an alien species.
He signed up almost immediately.
After the five year trip in cryosleep, Ryder travels down to the planet in a shuttle and is attached to both the RDA military forces and the Avatar Program, where he is briefed by Dr. Grace Augustine. After arriving at Hell's Gate he is greeted by Officer Kendra Midori, and brought to the main complex. There he is brought to Victor Monroe, and is linked into his avatar. After this he meets with Commander Falco, who tells him to travel to Blue Lagoon to find a mole who is giving info to the Tipani, a local Na'vi clan. After arriving in Blue Lagoon, he is greeted by viperwolves, but he is able to fight them off using a turret.
He is then commanded by Kendra to save a soldier named Dalton who has been cornered by some viperwolves. After making his way through the wilderness he finds Dalton and sets a beacon for him. After this he meets up with Kendra again and is linked up with his avatar. Then he makes his way to Dr. René Harper and his team of avatars. He is tasked with getting some plant samples and after doing so, meets with Dr. Harper and Tan Jala, a Na'vi Warrior. He kills two sturmbeests and is ordered to meet with Falco. Falco tells Ryder that Tan Jala is the link to the mole and that he needs to follow him. Ryder follows Tan Jala to a cliff overlooking the area and sees that Tan Jala is with Harper. The Na'vi warrior then escapes on his ikran.
Harper tells Ryder that the beacon was a signal for a Dragon Assault Ship to destroy a Na'vi reservation. Ryder is guilt ridden. However, a Samson, carrying Falco and several other RDA grunts, arrives to kill Harper. Harper attempts to get Ryder to side with the Na'vi.
The player at this point can choose either to remain with the RDA or join the Na'vi; this decision affects the remainder of the game.
Joining with the Na'viEdit
Ryder, now with a new perspective of the RDA, shoots Falco's soldiers, and wounds his former commander. Falco escapes in his Samson, swearing revenge against Ryder, as the two avatars escape. After they arrive at a Na'vi village in Iknimaya, where Harper tells Ryder that he and Tan Jala will lead a raiding party to get their link chambers from RDA territory.
Meanwhile, Ryder stays and meets with Beyda'amo, a fierce Na'vi warrior, who tells him to destroy a missile guidance tower. After stealing some bombs left by the corporation, Ryder destroys the tower and takes the long journey through the mountains to bond with an ikran. After doing this, he destroys several other towers, and returns to the village and meets with Harper. Harper has returned with their link chambers, but they were followed by a Dragon assault ship, and several other RDA personnel, who immediately engage the Na'vi. Ryder destroys the Dragon by crippling the rotor engines. Ryder escapes the Dragon as it crashes. Two more Dragon ships arrive and destroy the link chambers with missiles. Then the link bed is flung open, exposing Ryder's human body to the toxic Pandoran air, causing his avatar to collapse and black out.
Life with the Na'viEdit
Ryder suddenly awakens, in the Tipani Hometree. He is revealed by the Tsahìk to have had his spirit transferred into his avatar, making him a full Na'vi. Beyda'amo does not accept this but is dismissed. Ryder is also told that Harper could not be saved however. After this, Ryder and Tan Jala journey to Swotulu to gather a harmonic that will lead to the dormant Well of Souls, a holy place were Na'vi can communicate with Eywa, and where the RDA is attempting to go to and wipe the Na'vi off the planet. Once there, Ryder goes to find Lungoray, a Na'vi shaman that can decipher the harmonics needed to find the Well of Souls. After searching several Na'vi villages that are under attack, he comes across an RDA construction zone, where Lungoray was last seen. He finds Lungoray's student, Unipey, who tells him to destroy the RDA's bulldozers, and to free Na'vi warriors from an RDA camp. After fulfilling these tasks Unipey tells him that Lungoray might be in a RDA factory.
After fighting through the factory with a raiding party, Ryder battles three AMP suits, and destroys the main mining complex. After escaping on his banshee Ryder meets again with Unipey, who has recovered from the battle, and tells him to follow the trail of Unobtanium Shards. Eventually Ryder finds the Willow Cavern, where he is contacted by Kendra, who tells him that Falco is searching for the Well of Souls and that he has an emulator that will trick Eywa into thinking it is the First Voice, a Na'vi that has the ability to awaken the dormant site and communicate with Eywa. Ryder continues and meets with Lungoray, who tells him to gather three crystal shards from the cavern and bring them to the Willow Tree. Ryder gets the shards and finds Lungoray at the willow tree. Lungoray is about to summon the harmonic, but an RDA soldier who was hiding in the bushes, appears and shoots Lungary with a rifle. Tan Jala appears and shoots the soldier with an arrow, and tells Ryder to gather the signal, which the former SigSpec declines, but eventually does and succeeds.
Becoming the First VoiceEdit
After returning to the Hometree, he is seen as the First Voice by the Tsahìk and some other Na'vi. Ryder declines this, saying he is only a SigSpec and doing what is good. He is volunteered to gather other harmonics to find the Well of Souls. After several successful missions, Ryder journeys to a large area on RDA territory to gather the last harmonic. As he attempts to get the first shard it is destroyed by RDA soldiers. The second shard is also destroyed by the Corp. Beyda'amo tells Ryder to help in destroying the main RDA camp there. After raiding the camp, Ryder gains the crystal there, and arrives at the Willow Tree. Beyda'amo demands to know why he isn't getting the harmonic. Ryder confesses that he does not have the other two shards. Beyda'amo becomes enraged at Ryder, who decides to attempt to gather the harmonic without the shards and succeeds. After this, Beyda'amo is convinced that Ryder is the First Voice, and so is Ryder.
Tantalus- Race for the Well of SoulsEdit
After returning to the Hometree, they learn the location of the Well of Souls- Tantalus. The Na'vi forces journey there anf find that the RDA is there as well. Three Na'vi commanders tell Ryder to kill some RDA leaders. After defeating the RDA leaders, Ryder helps defend a Na'vi village from an RDA attack. A toruk arrives and offers itself as Ryder's mount for the final battle.
After arriving at the Well of Souls, Falco follows him in a Dragon gunship. Ryder attempts to stop Falco, but the RDA commander orders the pilots to open fire on Ryder and the Well of Souls. Suddenly the Tree emits a large EMP-like wave, causing the Dragon to crash and explode, killing Falco and crippling the RDA leadership. Tan Jala arrives and looks out to the skies with Ryder and tells him that the First Voice cannot have a second. Ryder tells Tan Jala that more humans will soon arrive. It is presumed that the battle ended shortly after word of Falco's death got around, and that Ryder continued leading the Na'vi forces against the RDA.
Losing his Avatar, and joining the RDAEdit
Ryder attacks Harper. Harper grabs a bow and arrow and backs over to a cliff only saying, "You fool," before falling off. Ryder looks over the cliff and is hit in the chest by Harper's arrow. His avatar falls down, dead.
Fortunately, Ryder survives and is brought with Kendra to Hell's Gate, but their Samson is knocked out of the air by two banshees in Needle Hills. He and Kendra survive the crash and Ryder gets a scorpion from a nearby RDA mining facility. He brings Kendra to the base and is told by Falco and Monroe to get three crystal shards and bring them to a willow tree. After doing this Ryder records a harmonic and deciphers part of a code that could find the Well of Souls, a dormant Na'vi site used to communicate with Eywa.
Ryder receives orders to journey to other areas on Pandora and find yet more willow trees in order to capture more harmonics. Journeying to areas such as Grave's Bog and the FEBA, Ryder helps the RDA forces to terminate any Na'vi resistance and give the RDA troops firm control of many brutally contested zones. After collecting the harmonics from these areas, Ryder eventually travels to the Hanging Gardens to collect one more harmonic, and where two link chambers have been found.
Gathering more shards and investigating mysterious signals, Ryder finds that they are two rogue avatars, neither of which is Harper; Ryder kills the avatars and their scientist controllers, who have long since gone rogue and been deemed as traitors by RDA High Command. Journeying within a vast glowing cavern complex to find the last willow tree, Ryder comes across the rogue Harper, who opens fire but is shot and killed by Ryder. Ryder comes to Harper's Link Unit and after a brief conversation as well as several taunts from Harper, Ryder shoots Harper's human body, killing him permanently. Ryder then gathers the harmonic and leaves the Hanging Gardens.
After returning to Hell's Gate, Ryder finds that Falco and Monroe are missing. He loads the harmonic into the computer and finds that the Well of Souls is located at Tantalus. Kendra tells Ryder that Monroe is dead and the Emulator, a device made to impersonate the first voice (a Na'vi who can awaken the Well), has gone missing and Falco has left as well. After going to the Plains of Goliath with his pilot, Trudy Chacon, Ryder meets with the new RDA commander, Colonel Quaritch. Quaritch sends him to three RDA commanders who assign Ryder a list of Na'vi leaders needing immediate termination, as they are rallying Na'vi forces against the RDA offensive.
The first Na'vi tries to persuade Ryder to defect to the Na'vi, but the Na'vi leader's words fall on deaf ears and Ryder immediately kills him. After killing the remaining Na'vi commanders, Ryder is given a Dragon by Quaritch and journeys to Tantalus. Ryder arrives and is told by an RDA commander to kill Na'vi defenders and demolish the stone walls that shield a defending Na'vi village. After doing so, Scorpion gunships fly through the clear passage and obliterate the exposed village, allowing RDA forces to firmly secure the now undefended areas around Well of Souls.
Ryder takes the Dragon and arrives at the Well of Souls itself. He comes across Falco and the Emulator. Ryder tells Falco his inexperience with activating the Emulator will doom everything on Pandora, but the former commander simply scoffs at his warning and opens fire on Ryder, who is forced to kill him. After defeating Falco, Na'vi forces riding banshees attack Ryder as he is attempting to configure and activate the Emulator, but the Emulator is finally activated and the Na'vi lose control of their ikran; the banshees then violently shake off their riders, causing the Na'vi to fall to their doom.
Ryder is contacted by Quaritch, who congratulates Ryder on his success by saying that the Na'vi have lost control of their war-mounts, and are fleeing from battles all across Pandora. Ryder is about to leave, but is contacted by Grace, who tells him that the immediate war is over and more humans will soon be arriving. It is speculated that Ryder continued to serve in the RDA under Colonel Quaritch.
Joining the RDA and defecting to the Na'viEdit
After arriving on the Plains of Goliath and meeting with Colonel Quaritch, Ryder makes his way to the first Na'vi Commander who asks him to defect to the Na'vi and stop the senseless killing. Ryder defects to the Na'vi to protect Pandora. He is then sent to three Na'vi commanders. The first tells him to kill his old friend Batista. After doing this he is sent to kill Winslow and the Quartermaster. After defeating them, the Na'vi forces attack the RDA Mountain Base and capture a Dragon Assault Ship.
Ryder flies to Tantalus and helps defend a Na'vi Village from the RDA, who are attempting to bomb it. Ryder takes the Dragon and arrives at the Dormant Tree of Souls. Then the former SecOps leader, Commander Falco arrives, in a stolen Dragon gunship. Falco is about to shoot Ryder, but the Tree of Souls awakens, creating a blast and deactivating the Dragon. Falco is sent crashing to the ground below and is killed in the explosion. Ryder then watches as the RDA forces evacuate. (Ryder also meets with Tan Jala, however this is a glitch as Tan Jala was killed in Grave's Bog earlier in the RDA story.)