Prologue: Chapter Four

The Drifter was a problem. At this point, everyone but Zavala knew about that Gambit of his, and anyone with sense was steering clear. Nothing good could come from harvesting motes of dark, and the Drifter was practically industrializing the process. According to the Hidden, it was supposed to be a ruse to draw out the Shadows of Yor, but even if that were true, the Drifter would still have a bank filled with darkness.

What's worse, some folks thought the Drifter was doing more than just "rounding up" Taken, that he was actually making them from the darkness that was collected. Unfortunately for everyone, Calus knows that's exactly what's happening, and the last thing anyone needs is for the next Taken King to be a Guardian.

Calus needed the Drifter dealt with, and he needed it done right. That meant he needed his Shadow of Shadows.


Onboard the Derelict, Above the Emerald Coast, Earth, Sol System

It would be lying to say getting on the Derelict was difficult. The Drifter used it to ferry his teams of Guardians to their arenas. All I had to do was blend in with a team, and sign up for Gambit. Easy enough, after having learned every book on the subject of blending in from Ikora herself, and a few more from Calus.

Fortunately for the Drifter, he's got the sense to keep each team in separate transmat zones, enclosed in some sort of Light-resistant cage. No one knows what it's made of, but it's transparent, and it can stop a nova bomb as easily as it would a paper airplane. You can't get through it, can't even blink through it. Not terribly surprising, given that Blink is really just shortening the space between yourself and your target.

Unfortunately for the Drifter, there are more ways to get from point "A" to point "B" when you expand your horizons beyond our four dimensions. Doubly unfortunate, when you consider who exactly was in that cage.

"Alright mavericks, let's see what we're fightin' today?" shouted the Drifter, playing with those tokens he loves so much. "Fallen, on the horizon! You know, they say the Whirlwind was worse than the Collapse. I say they deserved it. Transmat's up in three!"

I could feel the transmat platform spooling up, getting readings on me, preparing me for transit down to the surface. I prepared, too.

"Two!"

Pooling energy out from my brain, dispersing it evenly throughout my body, I prepared myself for my own, different journey. I wouldn't be going down to the surface to do battle, my battle was right here.

"One!"

I'd timed it correctly, disappearing right as the transmat fired. The Drifter didn't notice a thing, far as he knew everything was going normally, Guardians transmatting down to the surface. After all, all 8 transmats had fired, and all 8 Guardians were gone. I wasn't about to give him enough time to check his feeds and wonder why only 7 guardians showed up at their destinations.

The Emperor uses a council of Psions to maintain his Shadow Realm. No one but them had been able to learn its secret until he saw power in me that I did not know I had. I had been so blinded by the light, that every time I looked within myself, it was all I saw. He taught me how to look deeper. He taught me how to manifest my own psychic realm. My own void between voids. Mine was nowhere near as large as his, of course, for he had an entire council of powerful psychics to maintain his, but mine was still larger than a lone person's had any right to be. More than big enough to encompass The Derelict.

In this other world, my other world, getting to the Drifter was as simple as walking up the stairs. Then I could leave, be right there in front of him. Thing is, he's mighty quick on the draw, and this isn't the kind of confrontation I'd want to have on his turf. No, this was gonna happen on mine.

I didn't need to clap, to bring him here. I just had to will it, and there he was.

"Well, shit…" he started to make out before the world itself collapsed around him. My mind reached out to his, and I began to Devour him. He didn't speak, didn't scream. He didn't even twitch.

I'd Devoured the souls of other Guardians before, just enough to get to know the taste. He didn't taste like Light as they did. Calus often said to me that I was like the True Void, not just the blackness between stars but rather the Void between Light and Dark. He called me beautiful. Said I was pure, that he was in love. What I tasted in the Drifter wasn't the light, and it definitely wasn't the Void. It wasn't the Dark, either, not entirely. It just felt wrong, like the feeling of uneasiness mixed with disgust that you get when you think of something that simply should not exist. I can't imagine anything loving this.

Then he started to fight back. I don't know how, but it was like something inside him was struggling to escape, to avoid this fate. I recoiled in shock, and his body gasped.

Quick as lightning, he drew and fired. My body dispersed. I didn't need it here, and I didn't want to feel the bite of those Taken slugs that Malfeasance produced.

"You tried to eat me! Guess I should be flattered, shouldn't I. Must make a tasty morsel, heh," he said snarkily, eyes warily watching the horizon.

"I wish I could get the taste out of my mind, but unfortunately it doesn't work like that," my voice echoed from all directions.

"Ouch, you wound me. And to think I was starting to like you, what a rollercoaster I'm on today."

"There's something wrong with your soul, did you know that? That Darkness you've been toying with, it's infested you like a Worm."

The Drifter sighed loudly. "I'd figured as much, but we all have our prices to pay, don't we?"

"What could possibly be worth this price?"

"Revenge."

"You know it won't help, in the end."

"Oh, I know. Trust me, I know. But if I don't do this, no one else will."

"Justice, then."

"Now you truly wound me."

"I'm sorry, but you're not the only one who will pay the price for your 'justice.' I can't let you live."

He just smiled, mouth wide and full of teeth, before slitting his own throat.

It was exactly what I'd have done, honestly. There's no place in a Psychic Realm for the dead. Unfortunately, that means he knows more than any Guardian, any person even, should.

By the time I was able to manifest back on the Derelict, the Drifter's Ghost was already about to res him. I didn't even think, definitely didn't have time to reach for my gun. I just reached out and manifested violence and death. His Ghost shouldn't have stood a chance. It didn't have to. Before the wave of void energy reached it, it was Taken. I was so shocked I almost didn't notice when Darkness began to pool out from the artifact the Drifter kept behind the glass, slowly seeping into every part of the ship.

For once, I didn't know what was going on, and I was terrified. I jumped over the ledge and flew as fast as I could, practically rocketing myself out the hangar. As I drifted to the arena below, I looked up, only to see the Derelict itself Taken.

The Drifter was gone. His Ghost, too. Some part of me didn't want to find out what could take a Guardian's ghost, but a larger part of me did. Luckily for that part, I knew exactly what I'd have to do.


A/N: Damn was this chapter difficult to figure out and write, but I think I got down what I needed to. Starting with the next chapter, Chapter Five, we'll be following Shepard's story in detail. That means this story will be taking on a more traditional structure, following specific characters rather than basically a bunch of tangentially related setup chapters like the first four.