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Tom Redmond Riley is a New York City firefighter and the main protagonist in Resistance: Burning Skies. A fireman working on Staten Island, Tom was caught in the events of the Chimeran invasion of the American east coast in August, 1951.
Tom was born to Brian and Helen Riley. From a young age, Tom was aspired to becoming a fireman with the New York City Fire Department much like his father. On January 18, 1943, his father died from severe burns. On his will, Brian entrusted his fire axe to Tom, before the latter transferred to Engine 174 of the FDNY. At a later point, Tom fell in love and married a woman named Natalie, and sired their daughter, Rachel.
Riley responded to an incident at a power plant on Staten Island, where he first encountered the Chimera, which they originally came from a downed Chimeran ship that crashed into the plant. Riley fought his way through the plant and rescuing fellow fireman Smitty after another fireman, Larson, was killed by a Longlegs. He and Smitty escaped the building before bearing witness to the bulk of the Chimeran invasion of New York.
Bewildered by the invasion and concerned for the safety of his family, Riley was radioed by Central Dispatch and given orders to assist in the evacuation of the city and heading to the evacuation zone at the Howard Tunnel. He encountered members of the Minutemen, a militia group led by Ellie Martinez, before finally being reunited with his family. However, Riley was shortly separated from his family upon being forced to defend the evacuation zone. Riley and along with the Minutemen discovered an Army truck carrying Grey Tech components and their ability in upgrading their weapons. After defending the zone, their location is bombarded by Chimeran Spire Missiles and Riley managed to escape with the Minutemen.
Forced to tag along with the militia, Riley requested Ellie's help in trying to locate his family in which she granted his request by introducing him to Colonel George Amherst, the commander of a naval base in Bayonne. Soon after, the base came under attack by the Chimera. Riley assisted in defending the base, helping to install the main battery gun to the USS Puerto Rico, and single-handily killing the Abomination that had emerged from Upper New York Bay. Thereafter, Riley along with Ellie worked for Amherst in discovering the secret behind SRPA's Project Phoenix overseen by Richard Gorrell. While en route to SRPA Station Kali on Ellis Island, where Project Phoenix is located, Riley and Ellie witnessed Chimeran ground forces crossing the George Washington Bridge. Ellie requested Amherst for an airstrike on the bridge, but Tom went against it upon seeing a downed VTOL which crashed into the bridge with its passengers still alive. Unfortunately Ellie had already called the strike and was unable to call it off, forcing Riley and Ellie to rappelled down and managing to rescue the VTOL survivors. After saving the survivors, they were then left stranded on the bridge, and together fought their way to the other end of the bridge and barely escaping the airstrike.
Tom and Ellie continued on their mission to Ellis Island by boat and infiltrated Station Kali, which had already been abandoned and completely overrun by the Chimera. They then find a film pertaining to information on Project Phoenix, learning that its purpose was to control the Chimera through the mysterious Grey Tech components. Furthermore, it was also learn that Gorrell's project includes his intentions of abducting humans which he deliberately drawn the Chimera to attacking a Protection Camp in Union City, where Tom's family is located. Tom and Ellie traveled to the camp where it is already attacked by the Chimera. After fighting through the camp and destroying a "spire beacon" that is attracting the Chimera to the camp, Riley was too late to find his wife and daughter being taken away by Carriers. He and Ellie followed them by hitching a ride on Carriers, leading them to the conversion center located in the Appalachian Mountains.
Upon arriving in the facility, Riley was forced to split up from Ellie, who went to rescue other human prisoners, as he attempts to find his family. Eventually Riley finds Natalie, but only to discover that she has already been infected with the Chimeran Virus. Very reluctantly at his wife's urging, Riley killed her. He later regrouped with Ellie after she has found and rescued Rachel among a group of uninfected survivors. Ellie then showed him that Gorrell is controlling the conversion process and using it to create a Leviathan made from human victims. Riley had Ellie evacuated with Rachel before personally confronting Gorrel from using his creation. However, Gorrell reawakened the Leviathan but failed to control it, leaving Riley to kill the the creature and causing the entire facility to destabilize. As Riley escapes, he re-encounters Gorrell and engages into a fight that led to Riley fatally planting his fire axe into Gorrell's neck. Once reunited with Rachel, Riley bid his farewells to Ellie and leaves alongside his daughter for parts unknown.
Legacy and Ultimate Fate
Tom went on to be a symbol of hope and bravery among the citizens of New York. Several "Remember Riley" propaganda posters were created in honor of Riley. According to Ellie's prologue, several civilians began to take up arms following Riley's heroic actions. Henry Stillman mentions Riley's actions via Radio USA, acknowledging the battle against the Abomination, and the assault at the protection camp.
Despite Riley's renowned status, he is never mentioned in any other Resistance game. However, a man who strongly resembles Tom does make a brief appearance in Resistance 3. He is seen sharpening his fire axe near two other men. Resistance 3's Creative Director Marcus Smith told IGN that "only time will tell" whether or not this man is actually Riley.
- Tom Riley is the first playable character that is an ordinary citizen instead of a soldier in the Resistance series.
- He is one of two playable characters to come from the U.S. State of New York (Joseph Capelli being the other one).
- He's the only protagonist who has never been infected with the Chimeran Virus. Unlike James Grayson, he still has regenerating health despite not being infected.
- In the novel Resistance: A Hole in the Sky, there is a minor character named "Tom Riley". However, unlike Riley depicted in Burning Skies, the book's Riley was a former mailman.
- Tom's last name was originally spelt "Reilly", as seen on Tom's fire axe in an early screenshot.
- It is very possible that Tom's mother, Hellen, is deceased as she is never mentioned in Burning Skies, nor does Tom ever express his concern for her safety.
- The Burning Skies gameplay demo shown at Gamescom 2011 showed Tom waking up in an experimental factory. This could mean that Tom was originally going to be infected with the Chimeran Virus.
- A character named Tom can be seen sharpening a fire axe near the beginning of Resistance 3. Since Burning Skies came out a year after the third game, it is unknown if they are the same person.