In the early seventies, American astronomers discovered a meteoroid swarm on collision course with Earth. They calculated that our planet would be hit in the summer of 1998. Acting in total secrecy, a work commenced on a cosmic defensive unit. The Citadel Starstation was to be fully operational in March on that fateful year, so a few months before the impending catastrophe. Unaware of the danger the Soviet Union sent an official protest, accusing the United States of building a space nuclear rocket launcher. The tension between the two powers reached its zenith. Both sides began to gather strength. In 1987-1993, the United States engaged into so-called Drug Wars in Central and South Americas, which resulted in creating satellite, pro-American governments in the local countries. These countries, together with NATO, along with African countries, supported the U.S.A. Others joined the Soviets in their protest. Only Switzerland, Sweden, and Ireland decided to remain neutral.
Two weeks before the planned launch, the American Citadel gave an SOS signal. The calculations the scientists made proved wrong - both in terms of time and actual danger. The swarm never actually endangered the Earth. However, it destroyed communication and spy satellites orbiting the planet. Chaos spread, and suddenly blinded countries in panic launched 90% of their nuclear arsenal against one another, not realizing what really was going on. The destruction was enormous, and life on Earth disappeared almost completely. Almost, because in some places separate clusters of civilizations survived - some even unaware of the fact that the world as they knew had just ended.
During the exchange of fire a group of engineers of the U.S. Army was working in the deserts of Arizona. They were building bridges across dried riverbeds. Directly on the south of them there was a newly built state prison for prisoners sentenced to death. As part of the prison facility a few light industrial facilities worked.
The engineers escaped to the prison in search of shelter. They took control of it, driving the inmates into the desert. In time, other surviving groups were invited into the prison, to protect them from bandits. Together they begun to create a new community. The engineers started to call themselves the Rangers of Wasteland, honoring the tradition of Texas and Arizona Rangers, and the prison was renamed as Ranger Center - the last remaining bastion of civilization. The Rangers felt obliged to aid all the innocent survivors of the nuclear holocaust.