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- "A few weeks after the Jewelbilee, what was supposed to be a proud day that commemorated Auradon's glory turned into a massacre the moment Kirito freed Zevon from the Isle of the Lost and recruited him into his rogue army that we now call the Shadowkeepers, who killed all of the civilians and corrupted Mal with the Darkness. But, what traumatized us the most wasn't her betrayal or the deaths of her friends, but Zavala's death, and now, what we saw proved to us that no one is safe. Not anymore."
- — Ikora Rey highlighting the start of the Shadowkeepers Apocalypse
The Shadowkeeper Apocalypse (also known as the Apocalypse, the Shadowkeepers Apocalypse, and sometimes the Second Collapse) was a massively cataclysmic system-wide conflict fought between millions of Guardians and inhabitants of the Solar System and Kirito and Asuna and their armies of Shadowkeepers, Shadow Army minions, and Ghosts of Nagasaki to take back Auradon, save Mallory Bertha, and protect the Light. Although this crisis was initially triggered when Mal killed Maleficent, it actually began when the Shadowkeepers murdered countless people in Auradon, including Ben, Evie, Suguha Kirigaya, Emperor Calus, the Auradonian Kids' parents, and Commander Zavala, in order to take over all of Auradon and begin an eight-year reign beyond the heart of Aincrad. Unlike the previous enemies the Guardians killed, the Shadowkeepers sought to rewrite history and create a dark future, with them controlling all worlds as gods.
After years of fighting against the proxy forces of the Darkness and emerging victorious, the Guardians found themselves traumatized and losing the will to continue fighting when the Shadowkeepers launched a surprise attack on Auradon, brutally killing Zavala and terraforming it into a realm of Aincrad. With replicas of their powers and arsenals corrupted by the Shadow Army and their timeline fractured, the Guardians ventured into the birthplace of the Shard of the Traveler and acquired Fusion. Shortly after reuniting with Cayde-6, the Guardians recovered and planned a counterattack in order to save their home and legacy.
After much sacrifice and determination, the Guardians succeeded in killing Kirito, Asuna, and the Shadowkeepers, driving the Shadow Army and Ghosts of Nagasaki away, and save Mal. Despite this momentous victory, various figures of the Shadow Army, including Kirito and Asuna's eldest son Tatsuyi Kirigaya, would resurrect the Shadowkeepers and his parents as Nightmares and attempt to carry on the Shadowkeeper Apocalypse, either for their own purposes or to finish what the Shadow Army elites had started in destroying the Guardians. Despite these new foes, the Guardians maintained their strength and determination, while also contending with major threats besides the Shadow Army and Ghosts of Nagasaki.
Prelude: The Swordsman's Arrival
- "The Dragon’s Eye has awakened. It is on a little world. A human world. They would only wield its power… But our allies know its workings as they never will. They are ready to lead. And our forces will follow. The world will be theirs. The universe yours. And the humans, what can they do but burn?"
- — An unnamed Taken commander, speaking to the Darkness about Kirito and Asuna.
Some time after the Guardians' victory of the Dimensional Wars and the events of The Witch Queen, the Darkness, having found a still-open portal, sent the Pyramids into the dimensional gateway to recruit its new allies: Kirito and Asuna. Having known firsthand about how they had seen what it saw and mourned for the deaths of their friends and of innocence, the Darkness not only gave them back their powers from Sword Art Online, but also granted them permanent access to its Pyramids, knowing that they can succeed where its previous forces failed.
Upon accepting the Darkness's gift, after stepping out of their dimension and into the Guardian's universe, Kirito and Asuna recruited both the Shadowkeepers and the enemies of Light, instilling into them a profound sense of freedom and purpose, promising them that they would be the one to save them and those cast out and left for dead by their own people from the Traveler's lies.
Attack on Auradon
- "I'm so sorry. I'm sorry, I just... I thought that... I was afraid to tell you. I thought I was gonna lose my life. But I had to do something! I had to protect my birthright! It's just... I wish things could've been different."
- — Mal, talking to Petra Venj shortly before leaving with the Shadowkeepers.
Some weeks after the Jewel-bilee, the Shadowkeepers and their newly-assembled Shadow Army freed the son of Yzma known as Zevon from the frozen prison on the Isle of the Lost before launching a high-stakes invasion on Auradon that resulted in Mal's corruption at the hands of the Darkness and the deaths of countless civilians and heroes, including Zavala. Kirito and Asuna, having triumphed over the now-dead Zavala, proceeded to launch the codes for the Darkness's corruptive-matter system, simply known as Lightfall, which summoned waves of malevolent Blights that destroyed everything that Auradon stood for, killed all living beings of Light and civilians of Auradonian blood within it, and turned the entire city into a realm of Kirito and Asuna's ideal birth worlds. Although the fall of Auradon itself was unfathomable and the exact aftereffects of this event were unknown, it is certain that Petra Venj and the Techeuns were the only survivors.
Death of a Legend
- "We should've been there. This is not your fault. This... is on the head of the Black Swordsman. But if he thinks what he's done is the end, it's not. It's... the beginning. We're going to fight him. All of us. Every Titans and Meisters. Every Warlocks and Shinobis. Every Hunters, Huntresses, and Huntsmen. We will take Auradon by storm... for our Fireteam. For Zavala."
- — Ikora Rey, addressing the Guardians.
Back at Felwinter Peak, the Guardians, the Vanguard and people of The Last City mourn Zavala's loss. Ikora, realizing that the Last City does not possess the strength to carry on in the wake of the recent conflicts, declares that everyone, including the Guardians, will have the chance to avenge his death and protect the Last City. Minutes before the funeral ended, the Guardian promises her that they will avenge Zavala's death and that she wouldn't have to worry.
A New Aincrad
Kirito's Reign of Terror
- See also: Forum:Fall of Heroes
- "When I was a kid, I entered the world of Sword Art Online to escape the cruel depths of reality. But now, as I look back, I remember the faces of those I saved from the death game. Klein, Agil, Silica, and Lisbeth, my old friends... may be gone, but they are with us now and always. As for you, my loyal servants, my new friends, my Shadowkeepers... I gather you today because the time has come to rain darkness upon Sol. For too long, the Traveler has prevented the universe from entering the true, final shape - that of Darkness. But now, this ends. Ever since you came to this world, you've helped me do what no one else has done: kill a Guardian. I have already slain the Guardians’ Vanguard Commander, the man they called Zavala. There could never be a better time to strike, now when their morale is low and they are susceptible to falling to Darkness. Go! Unleash chaos upon their people! Create fear in the hearts of those who follow the Light!"
- — Kirito, addressing the Shadowkeepers and his elites.
Moments after taking over Auradon, Kirito and Asuna set up countless programs and SIVA networks from his computer that the Pyramids used to rebuild Aincrad as they saw fit and split up the Shadow Army into its six respective groups: the House of Shadows, led by Kotrik, Bloodcrafter of Kirito, a notorious Fallen Kell of Shadows who stole Guardian tech from The Last City; the Shadow Swarm, led by Zharves, Shadowcaster of Kirito, a surviving Hive Deathsinger who formerly served Crota and his father; the Shadow Divisive, led by Hydrax, Mindkiller of Kirito, a massive Vex Axis Mind Hydra who possessed the ability to stop time; the Shadow Legion, led by Gha'arn, Crownforger of Kirito, a powerful Cabal warlord who helped murder Calus and overthrow the Leviathan; the Reborn, led by Thu'urg, Blightmaker of Kirito, a Taken Cabal commander who helped ignite a new Taken War; and the Cult of Shadows, led by Vayeriks, Fatesmith of Kirito, Fikrul's right hand and a commander of the first Scorn.
Hoping to further weaken the Traveler, they sent their forces across the system to launch countless waves of devastating attacks against its forces, some of which led to the extinction of numerous human civilizations and permanent deaths of the heroes of those extinct worlds, including Milo Murphy, Simon Templar, The Flash, Green Arrow, White Canary, Black Canary, Green Lantern, Supergirl, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and more.
Conquest of the Light
- "Dear Diary,
This is pretty much the first time I've written to you. In this new world, that is. The diary from my world doesn't exist anymore. So, the two of us are gonna have to acquaint. Maybe for the rest of my life. I don't know. Everything is a blur now. A dark, unforgiving blur. Much like me. But enough about that. Where do I start? Oh, there's too many places to start, but I guess I should start with why I'm writing to you.
It's been exactly 29 days since I woke up into this new world. A world I created. Long story short, I killed Maleficent and avenged my parents, but in doing so, I created a world even worse than what anyone had imagined. Just because this world isn't Maleficent's, it doesn't mean it's any better. The Shadowkeepers rule all of Auradon now. Kirito and Asuna are at the top of it all. That's right. The Shadowkeepers have won. I didn't just change reality. I changed history. To keep it simple, there was a war. A war that lasted 5 years. The Shadowkeepers, as I mention, won. The heroes are all dead, although some few unknown souls are in hiding. Kirito mentioned a resistance, but who knows how big or small it is.
As for me, well, I have it all. At least, what the old me ever wanted. A boyfriend who's proud of me. A luxury bedroom I can call my safe haven. Feared and respected by the entire kingdom. A lifetime supply of strawberries. Okay, that last one wasn't exactly what the old me wanted or expected, but you get the point. But I'm living the good life. The good bad life. I can't deny that a part of me is loving this, but a huge part of me knows this is all wrong. It's not real. It's just an illusion created by some few floating Pyramids. I didn't wish for all this. As far as I'm concerned, everything I created is random. If I ever wished for anything, I'd want to change myself completely. Be the good girl that everyone expected me to be. But I haven't changed. I'm still the same me I've always been. I may not possess the dark scepter anymore, but the transformation I went through when I touched it, it still remains inside of me.
My parents. Oh, how I wish they were proud of me for real. For being a sort-of good girl. Not this ruthless, heartless vixen she believes I am. For the past 29 days, I had to keep up the act. That includes acting like a bad girl, which isn't exactly hard. The hardest part so far was what happened on the anniversary of the Shadowkeepers' victory. Apparently, in this world, since I was 13, Kirito presents me with an innocent life to execute just for the fun of it. I know. It's sick. Hypocritical, I know. The next victim was a member of the resistance. A husband. A father. A soldier. I was asked to behead him. But I didn't. I put my sword down in front of everyone. But I knew that I couldn't risk suspicions. So, I burned that poor man alive. He screamed and screamed as his body slowly turned to ash. The Shadowkeepers, as you expect, cheered at the sight of it. You'd think I'd feel pleasure for burning someone alive, well, I didn't feel it. I felt disgusted with myself. The worse part, I barely hesitated.
I've kept myself locked up in my room since then. I just couldn't swallow the fact that this is the world I'm living in right now. It's horrible. Everything and everyone I touch, I'm worse than poison. But now, I'm done hiding. it's time I get out there, familiarize myself with this new world, and see how I can manage all this. Like they said, I'm gonna rule it all one day. Might as well start by getting to know everyone all over again, if they don't remember anything. Whoever's alive, at least.
I just wish the others are okay. Maybe they've gotten better or worse, but I would really like to see them. Evie. Jay. Carlos. Ben. Oh, Bennyboo. I miss you.
'Til next time.
- — A page from Mal's Diary, retrieved by the Exo Stranger.
With Aincrad rebuilt, Kirito and Asuna, along with the Shadowkeepers and their armies, would lead a series of devastating invasions against the forces of Light and people still loyal to Ben, corrupting numerous universes and turning them into realms of Kirito's world along the way. The Stranger, having witnessed the fall of Auradon's forces, the corruption of numerous outcasts, and the deaths of countless champions of the Light, led her forces in an attempt to avenge the Traveler; however, she was forced to retreat after a close encounter with Kirito and Asuna. Fueled by grief and her desire for vengeance, she attempted to reach Mal, but suddenly found herself transported back in time to the day Cayde-6 was named Hunter Vanguard after his victory over Taniks, the Scarred. Having determined that this had happened before, she was determined to make sure that she would successfully prevent the dark future from coming into existence.
Rebirth of the Red Legion
The Fall of Calus
- "Do I miss my arm? I miss my Empire. I would give everything to have it back. And I will."
- — Valus Nohr, mourning the death of Calus.
Some time after the Shadow Army launched countless invasions against the Solar System, most of the Loyalists would become corrupted by Mal's Birthright Jewel, an artifact that Kirito retrofitted with dark runes from the Cryptolith, and turn against Calus shortly before executing him and overthrowing The Leviathan. But luckily for those still loyal to Calus, Valus Nohr and her forces escaped the onslaught shortly before sending a distress signal to Variks, the Loyal and his House of Judgment, who immediately formed an alliance with them, so that Nohr can have the chance to avenge her people and bring an end to the Loyalist traitors.
Destruction of Danville
- "Our greatest fear has come true. Kirito has returned."
- — Dominus Xaruun
On Mercury, the Red Legion reinforced the beleaguered Cabal legions battling The Sunbreakers, which turns the tide after centuries of conflict. Although the Sunbreakers fought valiantly, the Legion actually manages to cripple and slaughter the Sunbreakers on Mercury by destroying their Light, putting an end to the once mighty Titan order. On Earth, they began launching an invasion on the Tri-State Area, brutally massacring its civilians and erasing them from existence shortly before terraforming all of Danville into a Cabal empire. On Io, they began to drill into the planet to access the latent Traveler energies within the moon, investigating the possibility to harvest and control the Light. However, their actions attracted the Shadowkeepers and their Cabal Shadow Legion, who formed an alliance with them in the hopes of crippling the Traveler.
The Dominus established a massive ship orbiting the sun, The Almighty, which projects a beam of energy directly into the sun to slowly destabilize it. With this, in the event the system continues to resist or when the Cabal are finished, the Almighty will cause the sun to go Supernova for system-wide annihilation.
Preparing for War
- "Ghaul was meant to die, and now this "Kirito" managed to slip past me during my prophetic resurrection and do the thing that I was meant to do?! This pest is slick and deserves pain!"
- — Emperor Zor
Enraged by their atrocities, the Neon Wraiths led an assault against the Shadow Army in an attempt to prevent the Pyramids from corrupting their world, but were eventually forced to retreat after a close encounter with Kirito and Asuna. Knowing that even their strength wasn't enough to stop them, they went into hiding and began bolstering what remained of their forces. Eventually, the Wraiths would be contacted by Zor and his Golden Legion who wished to join forces against the Shadowkeepers, an offer in which a disheveled and desperate Xaruun accepted.
Enraged by the atrocities committed by Kirito and Asuna, Ikora Rey and Rasputin, along with numerous Guardians hellbent on getting their revenge on the Shadowkeepers for killing Zavala, created Dawnrise Protocol in the hopes of fighting back against the Darkness and saving the Last City, while factions such as the Stygian Brood and the House of Lions would lead countless assaults against the Shadow Army and those who pledged loyalty to Kirito and Asuna.
War of Dimensions
At the same time, across numerous known and unknown dimensions within the Void, AJ would rally numerous factions of dimension protectors to fight against the Shadowkeepers.
Assault on the Empire
- "I need to warn Castris and the City... Kirito's planning an onslaught against the Empire and our world. If I can get that message to her in time, we might have a fighting chance."
- — Robert E. O. Speedwagon after uncovering Tatsuyi's plan to frame Castris.
Some time during Dawnrise Protocol, Kirito and Asuna and their daughters Yui and Konno and sons Tatsuyi and Yuji met up with Castris and her Elites, offering them a chance to work alongside his syndicate. At the same time, Rudolph McAlister, one of the spies whom Robert E. O. Speedwagon dispatched to investigate Castris's criminal empire, found numerous evidences about Castris's past and attempted to rendezvous with Ashe-5 so that they could bring down the empire, only to find that Ashe had been slain by a Guardian-issued Sword. Appalled and shocked by this, he attempted to find Castris and apprehend her, but is suddenly attacked by Kotrik, who immediately slaughtered him, but not before Rudolph sent a message to Speedwagon, telling him that Kirito had returned. By the time Speedwagon and his associates arrived, Castris had already escaped. As Speedwagon attempted to pursue Castris, he runs into Tatsuyi, Kirito and Asuna's eldest son who had stolen Cisco Ramon's metahuman powers and fused them with both his Necrotic Grip gauntlets and Thorn before murdering Vibe. Enraged by Vibe's unjust fate, Speedwagon summoned his version of the Burning Maul, an alternate form of the Hammer of Sol, and attempted to end Tatsuyi's life, but finds himself temporarily paralyzed by the effects of Thorn, which gave Tatsuyi an escape plan. Some moments after Kirito's family escaped, Speedwagon, no longer paralyzed, woke up to find his associates dead and vowed revenge on both Castris and Tatsuyi.
Picking up on the investigation, however, he would discover a distress call from the syndicate's main arms supplier, Wren, who stated he and his band of smugglers was currently under siege from the syndicate. Perplexing the Titan, he followed the distress signal to the gunrunners personal Cabal carrier and provided support for his gang. He would meet up with the Warlock and would begin interrogating him about the syndicate and it's prior transgressions to which the Warlock stated that the syndicate is currently still neutral at this time. When Speedwagon told about Ashe's fate and the sword used to slay her, Wren was shocked, stating that the Dreaming City-make sword was recently purchased off him by one of the Empire's associates. Before he could let on about the buyer, the two are attacked by two mysterious Fallen assailants armed with a mysterious power. The two are quickly overwhelmed by the empowered hostiles and Wren would end up abducted while Speedwagon would be knocked out, but not before meeting a third assailant who threatened his life if he got in the way again.
The Titan would be awoken by one of the Empire's Barons, Solviks, who consoled him that Castris and her Empire were allies, not enemies, albeit unconventional. Speedwagon would also meet one of the Empire's lesser known, yet most treasured associates Myra Winters, who told him that she had upgraded his Ghost with tech that just might help with his investigation and prove the Empire's standing on the Shadowkeepers, starting with a previously recorded conversation between Wren and his trusted Psion friend, Lithwe, who were conversing about Castris's decision on the deal with the Shadowkeepers as well as what might happen if they did accept. But before the two could let on about her decision, the two are interrupted by a familiar looking, muscular Fallen brute who was asked if he could purchase a special sword; Speedwagon recognized the Fallen brute as one of the attackers who snatched Wren, learning his name was Kamrak. The Titan hesitantly thanked the two Criminal associates before the two left, stating that they had some business to attend. Continuing the investigation, he would utilize the "ECHO" tech to discover the murder of Ashe, where he would see the Vanguard representative being escorted by some of the Empire's associates, learning that they were there to guard her on her way to Rudolph. Expecting them to turn on her, he would, instead, discover that the squad was picked off one by one and the Exo Hunter would be murdered by the other mysterious assailant from the night prior. Raising even more questions, the Titan would attempt to go back to where he meet Tatsuyi to learn more. Going back to the site and activating the recording software, seen from his eyes, the Shadowkeeper scion would be seen conversing to the members of the assailants and gave them new orders, attempt to frame Castris and rope the faction into war, telling the female assailant to stay here and wait for Speedwagon and attempt to escape to give the guise she was Castris while telling the other two to hunt down and capture some of the syndicate's higher weapons designers and suppliers such as Wren and Vyslaks to which a respected new member of the Shadowkeepers would get them to replicate some of the Empire's work. It all came to the Titan that this was a conspiracy, one that will force the Empire into war with the Shadowkeepers.
A New Consensus
- "Long before the Traveler came, I made a promise to live on for the sake of my friends and Fairy Tail. Now, it has called on me to speak on its behalf and help you fight back against the Black Swordsman and the Lightning Flash."
- — Lucy Heartfilia, speaking to the Guardian moments after becoming the new Speaker.
Some time after Dawnrise Protocol's initiation, Ikora Rey appointed Shiro-4 as the Hunter Vanguard and Luther Hargreeves as the new Vanguard Commander representing the Titans, while the Consensus would appoint Glynda Goodwitch as the Huntress Vanguard, Kakashi Hatake as the Shinobi Vanguard, Jotaro Kujo as the Meister Vanguard, and Lucy Heartfilia as the new Speaker in order to strengthen the defenses of the City and provide more protection for the Traveler.
The Cosmodrome Breach
- "Mayday! Mayday! Do you copy! Vanguard access code 0306! Guardian, requesting backup! I repeat! We need backup down here!"
- — Nova, Herrscher of Sumeragi, sending a distress signal to the Guardian approaching the Cosmodrome.
Due to the havoc caused by the Shadow Army, Sumeragi, led by Nova and Skalos's son Sakodis, have reemerged from their hiding places, seeking to restore order and balance to the system. However, despite their strength and wit, Sumeragi's forces weren't enough to stop the Shadow Army. After a close encounter with Kirito and Asuna, Sumeragi retreated back to their base, but not before sending a distress signal aboard the Cosmodrome, officially beginning a truce with the Guardians.
The Fallen Bloodcrafter
- "My name is Kotrik. I claim the title of Kell of Kells for myself. The Given shall fall. The Great Machine will be reclaimed. To arms, brothers! Let us advance the work of Kirito, who has given us this strength!"
- — Kotrik, Bloodcrafter of Kirito, rallying his Fallen brethren shortly before triggering an assault against the Guardian.
Shortly after claiming the power of Fusion in the form of its subclasses and arriving at the Cosmodrome, as the Guardian rendezvoused with Cayde-6 and Petra, they received a distress signal from Nova, who warned them about the threat Kirito and Asuna posed to Humanity. Upon hearing from him, the Guardian investigated the impending source of the Shadows' emergence, fighting the House of Devils along the way, and arrived at the base, where they acquired the Ace of Spades, Thunderlord, and Gjallarhorn shortly before encountering Kotrik, who wielded a corrupted version of the Thunderlord and declared his intention to eliminate the forces of Light and carry out Kirito's mission to bring the Traveler under the influence of the Darkness before unleashing his Fallen army upon them. The Guardian barely escaped just as more Fallen Shadows overwhelmed the base.
Preparing for the Hunt
- "This is very bad… If he claims himself to be the Kell of Kells, we could have another Skolas-like situation… There’s more to this than just enemies swearing loyalty to one person. This… Kirito… is the one who murdered Zavala. He has made the Traveler - and the Light - vulnerable to attack. If we are not careful, there may be a situation like the Red War in Danville… or worse. Across the system, multiple groups of our foes rally around his banner. The Fallen House of Shadows and their Shadow Splicers led by Kotrik, Bloodcrafter of Kirito, a master with weaponry who has stolen much Guardian tech; the Hive’s Shadow Swarm led by Zharves, Shadowcaster of Kirito, who is a surviving Deathsinger; the Vex’s Shadow Divisive, led by Hydrax, Mindkiller of Kirito, an immensely powerful Vex unit attempting to cast us into a dark future; the Cabal’s Shadow Legion, led by Gha’arn, Crownforger of Kirito, a powerful Cabal warlord; the Taken Reborn, led by Thu’urg, Blightmaker of Kirito; and the Scorn Cult of Shadows, led by Vayeriks, Fatesmith of Kirito, one of the first Scorn. We have also identified some of their leaders - the Shadowkeepers. They include the names: Uldren Sov; Fikrul - also known as Eugeo due to his current form; Ruby Hale; Totomaru; Malcolm Merlyn; and many others. I will send the full list to you, Guardian. One last thing. The overall objective of this is to save a certain high-value person - Mallory Bertha. She has been corrupted by the Darkness and made the Dragon Queen of Auradon and the Isle of the Lost. She must be saved from the Darkness. But we will have to defeat Kirito’s armies of Shadows in order to accomplish this. Go to the Moon - investigate this new Hive sect. Dismissed."
- — Luther Hargreeves, addressing the Guardian.
Upon reaching the Last City, Luther Hargreeves explained to the Guardian that ever since Kirito killed Zavala, many enemies of humanity have pledged their loyalties to him and Asuna, seeking to destroy the Light. The Guardian would also learn of the identities of the Shadowkeepers who helped kill Zavala and are planning to usher in a new dark future. Luther then tasked the Guardian with hunting down Zharves's Hive sect, to which the Guardian accepted.
- "So, it seems that one of Vizzy’s precious servants turned traitor and joined up with that stupid brat and his boot-licking army. That rat bastard Ahnkra’s been tearing up the Shore with a resurrected army of brainwashed soldiers. A trick he picked up from Xivu Arath, I assume. Anyhow, the Shitkeepers are gonna be even more of a problem now that they have knowledge of the Stygian Brood’s special blend of necromancy, so....you know what to do. Time to take out the garbage."
- — Vothriks, the Lost
Strike on the Dreadnaught
- "I was right... I was right all along... The day we've been dreading has finally arrived. The Black Swordsman is here."
- — Eris Morn.
Discovery of the Shadows
The Hive Shadowcaster
- "The Darkness didn't choose Kirito and Asuna for nothing. They're both looking for the same thing: the opportunity to settle an old score with us and the Light. My sister and friends gave their lives so that I can help you guys deny the Shadowkeepers that chance."
- — Anna Blue.
Some time after the Guardian uncovered the source of the Shadows' emergence in the Cosmodrome, Eris Morn, aided by her new recruit Anna Blue, intercepted a distress signal coming from the Hellmouth, searching for answers on Luna. After traversing deeper within the Scarlet Keep, she stumbled upon an abandoned Clovis Bray facility and touched a black surface, which revealed itself as some kind of footage. Upon getting a closer look at it, she discovers what happened to Mal back when she was a child and that the two adult Warlocks shielding her from Maleficent's attacks were her parents Kaguya Narusaka and Hendrick Yor. Moments later, the Guardian is summoned to the Moon by Luther Hargreeves in response to a disturbance that, according to Eris Morn, originated from the Phantom Keep, a massive citadel recently erected by the Hive Shadow Swarm near the Hellmouth. While assisting Eris Morn and Anna Blue in fighting the Hive, the Guardian would encounter Zharves and Xyurdok and their Hive army.
The Hunt Begins
- "You are too late. The world now knows the truth about Mal. And soon, everything they once thought they knew will be forgotten. This is your end. Accept it."
- — Kirito, summoning his Shadowkeepers.
Shortly after the Guardian intercepted the Hive ritual, they would soon come face-to-face with the Shadowkeepers, some of whom taunted them, with Uldren Sov claiming that Kirito gave them strength beyond the Light and granted them immortality and the necessary methods to finally destroy the Light once and for all and Eugeo replying that the Light has weakened, that the Guardian had become weak, that the loss of their commander had destabilized their order, and that with their weakening, the Shadowkeepers grow stronger. Upon hearing what the Shadowkeepers said, the Guardian retreated back to the entrance of the Hive chamber, but luckily, not before retrieving the blueprints for Anna's Scout Rifle, the Silent Scream, which she entrusts to them.
The Vex Mindkiller
- "Around the system, your fellow Guardians are taking up arms and fighting these new foes. Go and join them, so that the Light may be victorious."
- — Luther Hargreeves, addressing the Guardian.
As numerous Lightbearers ventured across many worlds to defend the Light against the Darkness, the Vanguard had the Guardian travel to Venus to find any lead on Kirito and Asuna. The Guardian arrived at The Citadel as the House of Flame were deploying their troops to repel any attacks by the Vex. Helping Koriks's Fallen fight the Vex, the Guardian ascended into a control room on the Citadel, where they discovered a superweapon capable of giving the Vex total control over time shortly before jumping into another place to escape the Shadow Divisive. Finding a bright gap in an otherwise dark platform, the Guardian would do battle with Kirito and Asuna.
A Personal Score
- "You claim to be a defender of humanity, Guardian. But, in the end, you’re just a person… someone who will always fall into the dark. No matter how fast you run, how far you go, and how hard you try to fight, it will catch up with you. The Light thought it could make you soft and sensible, but you have yet to feel all the pain I felt when I lost my friends and family! And this time, the Traveler will die for Auradon’s sins!"
- — Kirito, preparing to fight the Guardian.
Refusing to let Zavala's death go unanswered or let Kirito and Asuna and their Shadow Army rule the entire world, the Guardian prepared to fight Kirito and Asuna. While the Guardian initially had the upper hand throughout most of the fight, Kirito soon caught up speed and overwhelmed them, summoning Hydrax, who attempted to pull their Ghost out of its shell and delete them from existence, but was interrupted by the Exo Stranger, who arrived to help the Guardian fight back against it and the Vex. However, Kirito activated Deathburst Stream, his diabolical signature move that slaughtered the entire Auradonian enclavement, and attempted to obliterate the Guardian, but luckily for the Guardian, the Exo Stranger teleported herself and the Guardian to another dimension.
Witnessing the Dark Future
Upon arriving in another dimension, the Exo Stranger revealed herself to the Guardian as Elsie Bray, the long-lost sister of Anastasia Bray, explaining that she came from a future where the Darkness won. As the Guardian heard from her about what happened, they would also learn that in that timeline, Mal had helped Kirito and Asuna and their armadas succeed in erasing the Light and all the things and people it touched from existence. But luckily for the Guardian, The Drifter also revealed that when Sinon came along, she helped fight back against the Shadows and set up a headquarters for her and her faction. Together, the Guardian, Elsie, and the Drifter head out to meet with her.
Meeting the Resistance
- "Ever since my crew and I came to your world, we've been tracking down the Shadowkeepers, looking for a way to bring them down. Now that you're here, we can finally have the chance to do so."
- — Sinon.
Heading deeper within the Chinese Dead Zone, aided by Elsie and Drifter, the Guardian finally meet Sinon and her faction face to face. Upon hearing about their notable history of fighting the minions of the Darkness, the Guardian would establish an alliance with them, earning Sinon the honor of getting the chance to fight alongside the Last City. As the Guardian returns to the Tower, they would be contacted by Nagihiko and Ventharok, Axon, Varthon, and Arath, fellow members of Fireteam Infernium, all of whom want to meet up with them.
Revealing AJ's Whereabouts
Upon reaching the Tower, after regaining their memories of the Red War, Panoptes's attack on Mercury, Nokris and Xol's emergence on Mars, Cayde's death at the hands of Uldren, the battle against the Pyramids and Nightmares, Saint-14's resurrection, the fight against the Red Legion to destroy The Almighty, the destruction of Io, Mercury, Titan, and Mars at the hands of the Pyramids, the emergence of House of Salvation, Savathûn's arrival, and the destruction of the City, the Guardian learned from Nagihiko that they were living in a paradox and from Fireteam Infernium that many events had changed ever since the attack on Auradon, one of them being that the Red War had now destroyed Danville and transformed it into a Cabal empire. The Guardian would also learn that seven years after Zavala's death, AJ and the dimension protectors had fought in a war against the Shadow Army in an attempt to restore the timeline, but ultimately had their Light drained; although AJ was luckily able to escape, no one knew what happened to him after he left for Yavin. Nagihiko then tasked the Guardian with finding any intel on AJ's location so that the Vanguard can bring him back, to which the Guardian accepts.
The Cabal Crownforger
Return of the Ghost Primus
The Taken Blightmaker
The Scorn Fatesmith
Scourge of Dreams
- "For years, the world had been bound by aspects of a failed past, full of lies that the Traveler brought upon this universe. But, we knew the truth. In Light, there was only weakness. Only failure. Only subjugation. Only death. But where the Light took, the Dark gives. No longer will we be pawns of the Light's lies. No longer will we stand by and let those monsters and so-called heroes abuse our people. No longer will we watch the lives of those we care for be lost. In Darkness, there is only strength. Only power. Only victory. Only freedom. Only life. And we shall rise forever!"
- — Kirito, bestowing the powers of Fusion on his forces of Darkness.
Freeing the Nazi Cyborg
- "I'm a proud servant of the German Army! I am prepared to do my duty! I would proudly give a few legs for the sake of the Fatherland and your Traveler! Do it now, Guardian!"
- — Rudol von Stroheim before being freed by the Guardian.
The Death Game
Return of the Kell of Darkness
- "And so it begins. Once it is done, the Great Machine shall suffer for what it did to my people... and yours."
- — Eramis, Kell of Darkness to Magda Peterson.
Upon heading to Mercury, the Guardian, along with Jotaro and a new ally, Brayden-4, would assist Vance in defending The Lighthouse against the House of Salvation, led by a reanimated Eramis and various members of her Dark Council, including Taniks, Atraks, Kridis, Phylaks, and Praksis. Fighting past the Shadow Divisive and Dark Council forces, the Guardian would discover that Kirito's forces were planning to retrofit a Traveler Cage with horrifying dark energy that, if not scrapped, could not only destroy the Light from within, but also engulf the entire Solar System with Darkness. At the same time, they would also learn from Speedwagon that Kirito's acquisition of Fusion on the Dreaming City was only the beginning of something horrifying for the Last City. Determined to stop Kirito and Asuna from succeeding in taking over the entire universe, the Guardian went on to find fellow recruits.
Defending the Lions
- "This..."Kirito" has now taken up all of your enemies and has put them in one big pen and these are more desperate than usual, and AJ hates this guy...for some reason...but my reason for hating him is how everything is just given to him on a silver platter. The Pyramids. Your boss's head. Everything. So do yourself a little mental note and destroy everything he has gotten; ruin ALL of it, before you "pull the trigger." When you do so, tell me his look. I want to see his reaction when everything is taken away from him."
- — Joskaa, Lion Kell, talking to the Guardian about Kirito.
Hunting the Betrayer
- "Ahnkra the Weakling. Ahnkra the Coward! I had always despised that rat, but to become another dog to Kirito out of the delusion that he is the strongest? FAH! I should have never allowed him to become part of my Brood. Come, Lightbearer, let us show this fool what true strength is."
- — Viznoor, the Black, tasking the Guardian with hunting down Ahnkra.
Return of the Dimensional Mind
- "Ever since the Corridors of Time collapsed, the Vex have seized an opportunity to resurrect Menkrodos and wreak havoc on our dimension. Normally, we'd give that task to AJ, but this is something personal for us... and Menkrodos's death could be the key to finding AJ."
- — Osiris, tasking the Guardian with killing Menkrodos for good.
Challenging the Ghoulies
Bringing Down the Archangels
Way of the Hermit
- "Being brave is knowing fear! Making fear your own! Losing your breath is fear! But when you control your fear, you can breathe regularly! The Ripple breathing is the result of being brave! Human praise is the praise of human bravery! Human greatness is the greatness of bravery! However strong and powerful they may be, these Shadows do not know bravery! They are just like fleas!"
- — Caesar Zeppeli, praising the Guardian when using Hamon against the Shadows and Ghosts of Nagasaki.
To further strengthen the Last City's determination to avenge Zavala's death and stop Kirito and Asuna from taking over the world and corrupting the universe with Darkness, the Guardian, along with Caesar and Jotaro, would travel to the Tibet's Temple, where they uncovered many secrets from numerous Hamon users, one of them being Caesar's grandfather Will A. Zeppeli, who explained the existence of Hamon and how its powers, especially when fused with Fusion, can negate Kirito's dark powers. Along the way, they would fight against Jack the Ripper, Michal, Absalom, and Tarkus, former Agents of DIO who had been resurrected by Kirito as members of the Ghosts of Nagasaki, in order to harness the powers of Hamon and acquire a key that leads to Evie's grave, along with the Tommy Gun Overdrive, Joseph Joestar's fabled Submachine Gun.
- "This isn't Mal... at least, not the Mal I knew. Why is she acting like this?"
- — Evie Grimhilde after coming back to life as a Ghost.
While numerous Scouts of the Last City gathered information about AJ's whereabouts, Cayde had the Guardians travel to the remains of Charmington, where they would find blueprints for Evie's corpse. As they approached her burial site, they were attacked by Fusion-empowered Fallen troops led by Koltath Bjor, a mercenary hired by Kotrik to desecrate her grave and prevent her Light from being retrieved, but were able to repel them and find her coffin, where they would resurrect Evie, who had now become a Ghost.
Answering Karviks's Call
- "Ever since we escaped the bloodbath caused by the Black Swordsman, we've looked far and beyond, searching for a light that can help end this nightmare. I believe that you are our best hope."
- — Karviks, Dragon Archon, establishing an alliance with the Guardian.
Bringing AJ Home
Rallying the Troops
- "Times may be dark, but we are Earth's greatest and last hope. Look around you, a gathering of those who call this system home. This is a chance we've been waiting for. Our homes were attacked, and we were there to watch the onslaught. And despite the sacrifices we made, everything was lost. All that we may have left are those standing beside you. For today, we know our enemy: Kirito, the Black Swordsman and the dark leader of the Shadowkeepers. Look to each other for strength, for strength in each other will keep us united. So, I ask you! Who will stand with me?"
- — Ikora, rallying the Guardians and their allies.
Entering the Underworld
Conquering the Past
End of the Legion
Shattering of Bonds
Fighting the Shadows
Toppling the Shadowkeepers
Putting Eugeo and Uldren Out of Their Miseries
Avenging the Hidden Leaf
Nullifying the Destroyer of Worlds
Nothing Left to Lose
Wrath of the Relentless
The Final Battle
War On Aincrad
Death of the Black Swordsman
Saving the Dragon Queen
Birth of the Solar Coalition
Though Kirito and Asuna and the Shadowkeepers have been dealt with, thereby avenging Zavala and countless innocent lives, the Shadow Army remain a threat within the Solar System that the Guardians continue to manage with bounties from numerous allies. However, within the Tower, while its denizens are relieved that Mal and her parents, along with her daughter, are safe and sound, some of them would question what consequences Mal's existence will bring.
Over time, the Guardians hunting the Shadows within the Solar System receive a message from Tatsuyi, who has resurrected his parents and their champions as Nightmares, issuing a challenge to them to avenge the Shadow Army. Tracking the Vibebreaker to the abandoned chamber of what remained of Auradon Prep, the Guardians battle against Tatsuyi and his Shadow Collective and despite his Dark abilities, they slay the Shadowkeepers and Tatsuyi, but he swears that they will return.
Fall of the Remnants
- "Morgana is dead... but her forces remain a threat. And worse of all, her champion, Angor Rot, has filled a void that would've crippled the Ghosts of Nagasaki. He must be stopped at all costs."
- — Viznoor tasking the Guardian with hunting down Angor Rot.
In addition to Tatsuyi and the Nightmares of the Shadowkeepers, the Guardians deal with remnants of the Ghosts of Nagasaki after agreeing to take it as a favor for Viznoor. Returning to the downed Rachitech Warship, the Guardians find that the Ghosts of Nagasaki's numbers have grown exponentially since Magda's death. They also discover Greeble Ironclads adorned with Dark Ether, results of Gunmar's experiments. Delving deeper into the Troll nest, the Guardians encounter the new leader of the Ghosts of Nagasaki within the Tangled Shore, Angor Rot, who was a member of Gunmar's sect of the Ghosts of Nagasaki. Their battle with the Assassin takes the Guardians further and further into the Troll nest but they manage to corner him at the center of the chamber. There, despite his dark power in summoning a shade to aid him, the Guardians kill Angor Rot, which will lower the Ghosts of Nagasaki's numbers within the Tangled Shore in time.
Snuffing Out The Remaining Shadows
Slaying the Fallen Shadows
- "Kalviks is a special one to kill, he was once one of my lieutenants, before that spoiled brat of a "savior" came and brought his ass here. Now he betrays the House and expects me to "not be mad about it". But you know what I do to traitors, Yes? heh heh heh..."
- — Joskaa, explaining to The Guardian about Kalvkis.
Decimating the Hive Shadows
Eliminating the Vex Shadows
Destroying the Cabal Shadows
Ahnkra’s Final Stand
Seeking the Truth Eternal
- "You are finally here, Guardian. Monster slayer. Light avenger. All that strength, and you still have yet to fathom much more. You could be so much more... all you need do is wish it. This city within my vessel will challenge you in ways you have never thought possible. Come. Let’s enjoy ourselves."
- — Evangelion, Mastermind of Eternities, welcoming the Guardian to his ship.
Return of the Witch Queen
- "My loyal followers, with the Black Fleet gone, we now rejoice upon the safe reconstruction of this realm and celebrate the day we finally take back the world for our kind."
- — Savathûn, the Witch Queen, rallying her armies.
Some time after the Guardian hunted down and destroyed Ahnkra for good, Savathûn, her daughter Dûl Incaru, her nephew Nokris, and her brood would form an alliance with her sister Xivu Arath, her army, and Xol to rebuild the Osmium Court and establish a diabolical scheme to destroy all Guardians once and for all.
Raid of Kingdoms
Exposing the Lie
- "We know now why Auradon fell, why Kirito and Asuna killed Zavala. They knew that Zavala would help Ben keep the timeline unchanged."
- — Variks, the Loyal to Petra Venj.
Some time after the Guardians allied with Evangelion and his crew, Petra ventured to Europa, where she would learn from Variks that moments before Auradon came under attack, Ben and Evie committed treason by rallying Mal's would-be murderers and using the Stone Mask to free Maleficent from her prison while they were under the influence of Maleficent's curse.