{Excerpt from archive: The Shadow War}

The war was lost; The Shadow Broker had won. Our Founder had thought that a war fought with weapons would be unfamiliar to the galaxy's most notorious criminal, but he was wrong. Every strategy we used ended in failure, every plan was thwarted, every tactic was countered. The enemy knew our every movement long before we ever made it. He set traps, struck at our vulnerabilities expertly, and annihilated entire platoons without so much as blinking. We developed weapons the likes of which the galaxy had never seen, assembled armies and fleets to overwhelm our opponent. Nothing worked- The Shadow Broker knew every tactic that we had, and predicted our movements precisely. We of the VEINS Military Coalition knew that we were doomed. For ten years, we valiantly fought a losing battle against an enemy that adapted to our every move. All hope was lost, and the VEINS would fall to this tyrant of a felon.

Then he came.

In our time of need, a hero emerged from a place most unexpected. The Founder had, for a year, harbored a child, a mere boy of sixteen, who was unlike any other. He was cunning and clever, and unmistakably inhuman at his core. Nobody suspected that he might become our savior- our light in the black- in our darkest hour. He spent his time in a scrapyard, building gadgets and contraptions almost whimsically every day, and never bothering a soul. He had come from a splinter-faction of the VEINS that had sought to directly oppose us; he was a human that was not born, but built. Yet he did more than follow us into Hell; he led the charge through the gates.

Once he entered the battlefield, we saw that our fight was not in vain. He fought with the strength of ten men, and the fury of a dozen stars. He brought the rage of the heavens down upon our foes, leading many to preach that he was the vessel by which the wrath of Heaven itself would be wrought upon the evil and unjust. Those of us who were not of faith were tempted to agree; this man, this boy, was unlike anything we had ever seen. He was more lethal than any weapon that we had conceived, more effective than even our best soldiers. He was an unstoppable force, hellbent on completing his mission: win The Shadow War at any cost.

He mastered every weapon and tool put in his hands, surmounting any challenge, and besting any enemy. No mission could not be completed, no battle could not be won, no objective was out of reach for this superhuman warrior. Whether with hot lead or cold steel, he cared not, he would kill his enemies without remorse or pause. Our hero fought tirelessly, drawing from a seemingly endless reservoir of strength with which to battle the Shadow Broker's forces. He was a weapon that had been created to destroy us, but now waged war for our salvation. The darkness that faced us, now found itself challenged by its own might. He was the shadow that brought light to the land. He was the Knight.

The Knight was impervious to the Shadow Broker's ability to know our tactics, for he had none. He did not contend with our ways of war, did not care for strategies nor plans, did not accept failure in the face of defeat. Leaving bloody death in his wake, the Knight moved without grace or tact, something that our enemy had never faced. He had nothing for the Shadows to predict or exploit; how can one thwart a plan when no plan exists? The Knight fought ruthlessly and brutally slaughtered his enemies, never deterred by the gunfire that struck at him constantly. He was a true killing machine- a man of war.

Off of the battlefield, the Knight spared no thought for the leisurely activities that his comrades enjoyed. While his brothers-in-arms would drink and dream of home, he would prepare for the next mission. He had no need to reminisce of home, for his home was in the trenches that were filled with mud and blood. He was that which our foe could not defeat, and he knew it. His crude tactics and primitive strategy were easy to learn, simple to predict, but impossible for our enemy to counter without an impossible force of their own. The Knight was the bane of the tactful leader, and therefore our enemy. However, this also made him potentially dangerous to the VEINS and VMC. We were infinitely glad that he bore the emblem of our people as he fought, and not that of one of our many foes.

When flanked, he would take on the new threat while his men and women under his command carried on fighting their foe as before. If caught in an ambush, he would order his units to stand their ground as he charged forth in a one-man counterattack. If an infiltration was needed, he could cause a distraction or silently accompany his Tactical Reconnisaince team as needed. In such cases, that small squad would be able to tackle and firefight, should they be found. The Shadow Broker would anticipate stealth, but not a slaughter. Unlike a tank or ship, the Knight could not be disabled or sabotaged, nor was he such a large target. He was a larger man, this much was true, but he possessed greater maneuverability than almost any other soldier in our ranks. He was the ultimate weapon against the Shadow Broker.

He was promoted quickly, becoming The Founder's right hand and answering solely to him. Ten years of war, of agony and bloodshed, hundreds of thousands of names added to the Honest Hearts Memorial, and in the course of a few months, one man, no older than sixteen, was able to turn the tide so absolutely. Countless lives were ended by his hand, and many more were saved as a consequence. But the Knight did not wage this war because it was righteous, not for honor or glory, not to save lives or bring an end to the Broker's reign. He fought for the simple purpose of completing his mission. Because his only drive was to kill his foes- "the deserving" as he called them- until his heart stopped beating and his last dying breath escaped from his lungs. The Knight did not want to win the war; he merely wanted his enemy to die.

And die they did. For ten years, we had struggled fruitlessly to gain a foothold in the war, and had lost so many people in the process. In one-fifth of that time, the Knight was not only able to turn the tables on The Shadow Broker, but bring him to his knees and finally end The Shadow War. He never lost a fight, never retreated or surrendered, never failed a mission, never left anyone standing who stood against him. The Knight was the opposite of what we stood for; we strived for peace and justice, using war and conflict as a last resort. But he cared not for such things. He took to bloodshed as the first and final solution to any opposition, and killed without mercy or remorse, showing no hesitation in butchering his enemies no matter how fearsome or pathetic. With his determined fury to spearhead our efforts, we cut down our previously unbeatable enemy swiftly and with few losses, and the war was brought to a decisive end.


Standing at the helm of the VSV-Midnight, Alpha gazed out through the viewport and at the infinite stars beyond. It had been exactly fifteen minutes since their departure from the Citadel, and he was ready to carry out his plan of action. After months of serving under his father again as an elite field agent, Alpha was ready to start making a life for himself where he knew his expansive skillset would be extremely useful: the quarian Flotilla. With over half of the collective crew between his three ships made up of quarians rescued from poverty on the Citadel and Illium, he would certainly make an excellent first impression on Tali's people. As of right now, they were preparing to make the necessary FTL jump through the mass relay.

Alpha was the only non-quarian member of the crew who was allowed to observe as the quarian crewmembers entered coordinates and set up the ship's computers to forget them after the jump. The location of the Flotilla, while always changing, was a closely-guarded secret amongst the quarian people. Not even Alpha's subordinates were allowed to know, and they were about to go there. Security measures were put in place to ensure that Alpha would be the only non-quarian aboard who could possibly discern where the fleet was located once they arrived. The only reason that he was allowed to know was that he was Captain, and he was already something of a minor hero to the quarians with his deeds in the past.

His role in the war against Saren meant that he had killed hundreds of hostile geth platforms, and it was no secret that he would gladly kill more. After his death, his gift that he had sent with Tali had been received incredibly well. So well, in fact, that Tali had been allowed to take on her alias of Night Witch and become a technical Vindicator on the Citadel. She had attested that it was in Alpha's honor, and that she wished to honor him for helping her people by helping his in turn. Now the cybernetic superhuman was back, and he was ready to give them yet another gift: himself.

"Well, when you put it that way," he murmured to himself with a quiet chuckle, "It stops sounding at all humble." Alpha did not see himself as a godsend to the quarians, but rather as a potentially valuable asset and ally. He knew that his skills would be put to the test on the Flotilla, especially his engineering prowess, and if his quarian crewmembers were to be believed, there was always work to be done and another set of deft hands was never misplaced. It would be nice to have some time away from the mud and blood, to trade his weapons for tools and appreciate being part of a community. At least for a while, until there was some conflict or another that required his attention.

"Sir!" A quarian man called to him from the floor of the bridge, "Coordinates are entered, and the computers are finally cooperating with us. We're all set, and we can get going as soon as you say the word!"

Alpha nodded, "Good to hear it. Contact the kids and tell them the news. They're linked to us so that they'll automatically match our course, so they don't have to do anything but prepare to jump. Their computers won't even know where they're going- they're slaved to ours." He had always found that term odd- slave- it sounded... bad. In the context of computers, though, all it meant was a subordinate connection. In this specific scenario, the Midnight's systems had control over the Sun Gunner and Nighthawk as if they were part of the ship itself, meaning that they had no need to work with their navigational systems for FTL jumps; the Midnight acted, and they mirrored it. Alpha had adopted the nickname "the kids" to mean the two subordinate ships collectively.

Tali appeared beside him, wringing her hands nervously. It had been some time since he had seen her do that, though it had also been some time since she had been so nervous around him. The three ships entered the relay, and they were off- no going back now. "Are you sure that this is where you want to go, Alpha?" Tali asked him, "I mean, I'm not complaining, but you don't have to do this for me, if that's your reason." It had been four days since their pseudo-date on the Citadel, and they had spent those days aboard the ship, managing the crew and taking inventory of their supplies in order to prepare for this trip. They had filled their storages to bursting so that they would also have a material offering when they arrived.

"A bit of a moot point now, Tali," Alpha grinned lopsidedly, "But I'm only partially doing this for you. I'm also doing it for the majority of our crew, and for myself. Not only is this something that I've wanted to do since I came back, but this is also an opportunity to forge an official alliance between my people and yours. Atlas has been practically begging me to do that since you and I got together."

"He knows about... us?" Tali whispered, looking around to ensure that no one was listening. Their relationship was not exactly a secret, but they were also taking care not to make a big show of it. They were two high-profile individuals, and the media would have a fit if they weren't careful. Their date had already served to kick the nest, which was part of the reason that they had remained aboard the ship afterward until departure. Plus, neither of them wanted the crew to think that they were flaunting anything. People were allowed to know, but that didn't mean that they had to.

Alpha shrugged, "Of course he does. I'm not sure if there's anything that I can do that he wouldn't know about."

She huffed, folding her arms over her chest, "I know that your father means well, but I don't think that he needs to pry into our private lives. You know how I feel about him watching our every move."

"Oh, he's always watching, Tali," he stretched, "You know that. It's his job; he's like The Shadow Broker, but good. And if he doesn't do his job, things fall apart pretty fast. Plus, he only watches my every move, and it's because of his constant observation that we can live in any semblance of safety."

Tali eyed his knee as he flexed it carefully. It had been in a cast until today, and they were still unsure if it was entirely healed. "Well," she said indignantly, "I still don't appreciate the fact that he's using our relationship as political leverage. I liked him better when he was marked as a terrorist."

Alpha laughed, "Tali, he's been trying to talk to the quarians for years! I admit that he's been more politically oriented since he was welcomed back into the scene by the Council as a faction leader, but I assure you that my dad is still a man of action first and foremost. Until now, Atlas has never been able to send an envoy to the Flotilla due to the fact that, despite his information network, he's never been able to find it. Your people do a good job of hiding your fleet- to the point where the most knowledgeable man in the galaxy doesn't know where it is. He's not using us as leverage, Tali, unless you think of it as leverage to pry the damn door open!"

She thought about it for a moment, then nodded, "Alright, I can accept that. Just be prepared: you probably won't have the warmest reception as it is."

"Captain!" A shout came from the floor, "We're coming out of FTL; brace for mass deceleration!" A few seconds later, the ship lurched slightly as they dropped out of the jump. Before them was the Flotilla, and Alpha could hardly believe his eyes. Not because he was finally seeing what so few non-quarians could ever hope to witness, but because the fleet was under attack!

Alpha tapped his temple, initiating a voice-link to the Midnight's speaker system, "All hands: man your battle stations! Repeat: all hands to battle stations! We just dropped into an active battlezone! This is not a drill!"

They watched as the displays in front of them lit up, showing just how quickly the crew was responding to their orders. Tali grabbed his shoulder, "Alpha, what's going on!? Who's attacking the Flotilla!?"

The display blipped an indication that they were being hailed. "I think we're about to find out," Alpha muttered as he activated the transceiver. The voice that came through sounded more than slightly distressed, but otherwise crisp and official.

"Unknown vessel," a man's voice said, "This is Admiral Rael'Zorah. Identify yourself or withdraw before we are forced to consider you a threat and you are fired upon."

Tali lunged forward, but Alpha held out a hand to stop her. This person was her father, and it was clear that she wanted to respond as his daughter, but right now he needed to take control of the situation as the Captain of his ship. "Admiral, this Captain Alpha Black of the VSV-Midnight," he responded in his own military tone, "We can discuss why I'm here in a bit- right now, you're under attack from another party, and we're packing enough firepower to knock a dreadnought out of the sky, sir. Permission to assist?"

There was a pause, during which they continued to advance in order to bring the enemy ships within range, then the Admiral responded: "Permission granted, Captain Black. I will ensure that my people know that you are not hostile."

He ended the transmission, and Tali turned to look at him furiously, "That was my father, Alpha! He doesn't know that I'm aboard with you!"

Alpha's hands clenched the guard rail in front of them as he established a neural connection to the ship. He could see everything that he needed to know without anyone using precious time to tell him. "I know. Trust me on this one, Tali; there'll be time for reunions later. Right now, this is naval warfare." He pressed a button on the control panel, "Release the Night Watch! Kal: get in there and draw their fire! Rick: cloak, flank, and hit 'em with everything you've got!"

The Sun Gunner accelerated forward, its frontal-assault-focused cannon batteries coming ablaze with gunfire. The Midnight's own turrets opened up with a steady bombardment of mass-effect-propelled projectiles once they maneuvered into range, accompanying her subordinate's barrage and that of the fleet. The Nighthawk slipped out of sight as it turned invisible, moving to ambush the enemy force. Now that Alpha was able to get a better look at the attacking ships, he could see that they were of a design that he recognized all too well: The Shadow Broker's personal army. But why were they attacking the Flotilla? He dismissed the question for now, focusing instead on the task at hand.

At the core of the attack was a much larger ship that Alpha had no doubt was the command vessel for the hostile force. A wicked grin crept onto his face; he had heavy firepower designed to take down ships like that, and he was just dying to test them. The main cannons excelled at eliminating the smaller ones, with each one individually manned by a gunner that could choose targets independently of the others. The Sun Gunner reached the opposing ships, utilizing its twin plasma throwers to melt anyone who flew too close. The plasma throwers worked like massive flamethrowers that could function in the vacuum of space, and they were far hotter. They turned the enemy fighters into slag in moments, and melted through the armor of larger vessels after quickly draining any shields that they might possess.

The Nighthawk appeared behind their aggressors, unleashing a torrent of deadly target-tracking missiles that surged forward all at once to hit over a dozen targets before the stealth ship disappeared again. This was what it specialized in: blitzkrieg tactics that counterbalanced the sustained frontal firepower from the other two ships under Alpha's command. The missiles streaked through space to hit their targets with extreme force, eliminating some ships and crippling the ones that weren't destroyed outright. At the same time, several of the enemy craft swung about in confusion, desperately trying to locate their new attacker. The Night Watch took full advantage of this chaos, shooting down hostile fighters while they were distracted and as the larger ships stopped firing at them for a moment.

The Shadow Broker's force began to recede, fully realizing the capability of their quarry's new allies. Now it was time for a real show of force. Alpha had taken care to eliminate as many of the smaller ships as possible before targeting the command vessel, since destroying it outright would cause them to retreat prematurely. The Midnight's main cannons, combined with the guns of the Flotilla, had managed to disable the ship's shields, meaning that its armor was vulnerable. Leaning forward with a predatory smile on his face, Alpha issued the order: "Fire the plasma lance!" A second later, the unmistakable glowing bolt of superheated material came shooting from the bow of the ship, soaring forward across the battlefield to strike the retreating command vessel with terrifying results: the shot struck it on the starboard side, and the armor there was practically vaporized on impact. The telltale signs of depressurization appeared there, accompanied by a few bodies that were jettisoned into the vacuum of space, exploding into a mess of blood and gore shortly thereafter as their bodily fluids boiled and burst them like bloody balloons.

The Nighthawk appeared once again to fire another salvo of missiles at the ship, this time focusing every shot on the vulnerable spot that the plasma lance had made. The sudden force of the twenty cutting-edge explosives ripped the vessel apart from the inside as they flew through the massive hole in its armor before detonating. The other craft made the jump to FTL just as the large ship was turned into scrap metal, and its inhabitants into red paste. Alpha leaned back triumphantly; his plan had played out perfectly.

"You couldn't have done that sooner?" Rael'Zorah's voice came through, "We lost three ships in that fight. It would have been two, had you ended it right away with that... weapon of yours- I've never seen anything like that before."

"I could have, Admiral," Alpha responded evenly, "And I sincerely apologize for your losses. But I wasn't just looking to end that fight; I wanted to make a statement- send a message."

"That message being?"

He grinned, "There's an old human phrase: 'Don't tread on me.' I'd say that it fits this situation pretty nicely. While I wish that there had been no friendly losses at all, I think that these bastards will think twice before attacking again. That kind of thing can save many more lives than were lost today."

Tali stepped forward, getting a nod of approval from Alpha before speaking, "Admiral Rael'Zorah, this is Tali'Zorah nar Rayya. I am aboard the VSV-Midnight with Captain Black. We have many people here who are looking to return home, and many others looking to make one with us. The Captain and I seek to bring these ships into the Flotilla and integrate their crew into our society. Do we have permission to follow you to the location of the civilian ships?"

The Admiral paused for a short time, and Alpha guessed that it was due to hesitation. It was understandable; this was quite the request, and there was a lot to process here. "Permission... granted," he answered finally, reluctance clear in his voice, "You are to come aboard for questioning once we arrive, Captain, and bring my daughter with you."

"Of course, Admiral," Alpha said respectfully, "We're here to help."


{/Transmission received from: Phantom Twelve}

{/Playing transmission}

{My dear friend, I have but one piece of news to bring to your attention. The Knight now belongs to the stars. The Shadows attempted to reach them before he could, but his power was too great, and their efforts were thwarted. I fear the worst; the Shadows should never have known how to touch the stars. They may know more than we once thought. Now that the Knight has intervened directly, he will be a target. The Phantoms await your instructions, as the flame has dictated.}

{/End transmission}

{/Record transmission}

{My dear friend, your tale brings me great worry. The Phantoms shall guard the Knight in this dark time, and see to it that he does not fall to the Shadows. I shall shed my light brightly, and together we will keep him from this conflict. As of now, the Knight has barely come from dusk, and it is your duty to ensure that he endures the darkness to bring the light of dawn. We must tread carefully, my friend, for the walls have eyes and the floor has ears. If the flame as dictated that I am to guide you, then I shall make it so. Good luck.}

{/Transmission sent}

{/Logout user: Victor}

/N: I haven't abandoned Alpha Logs! I know it's been a while, but I assure you that I am still working on this. I just have other projects is all. And with work coming up, things are probably going to slow down even more soon...

But I have a policy of finishing what I start, and this is no exception! While I'm not entirely sure anymore as to whether or not this will end up as the five-part series that I originally planned, I will at least finish out Knight to Remember. That much you can count on. Leave a review to tell me what you think, or PM me if you have any questions!

As always, have fun and stay safe out there! -VV