Lore:A Drifter's Gambit

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"And my vanquisher will read that book, seeking the weapon, and they will come to understand me, where I have been and where I was going."
The following is a verbatim transcription of an official document for archival reasons. As the original content is transcribed word-for-word, any possible discrepancies and/or errors are included.

A Drifter's Gambit is a Lore book introduced in Forsaken that contains transcripts from "A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter". Entries are obtained by completing activities in the game.

Uneasy Feeling

"I've followed him for a short while now. Tracked his path since he turned up on mine.

"He's not like them, but not far off—hard to trust, hard to know. He's seen more than most can imagine and done things most wouldn't dare. But he's always kept his distance—stayed far from the Light.

"Why head City-side now? Why risk antagonizing those best equipped to cut his journey short? Can't quite say. I get the sense he's on the run, but from what? From who? There are Shadows in his past. Do they linger? Do they hunt?

"Or is his desperation driven by other… concerns?

"All I've seen, all I've uncovered—of him, of his long, winding road—says he's made enemies at just about every turn. Over centuries, that list grew real long. He's been comfortable on the dodge out beyond the Reef—ever-moving, ever-exploring, never concerned with the dangers riding his wake.

"So, again… Why now? Why here? What's his play? More important…

"What's his game?"

—A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter

Justified Means

"The Drifter wasn't always my target.

"In fact, he only came to my attention when he started running with them I'd call prey.

"Before that he'd existed only as rumor—the strange Lightbearer who journeyed beyond the system's edge, the lone wanderer who was only a 'Guardian' by reductive modern definitions. He had a Ghost. He was touched by the Light. His motivations, though, were his own—some might say selfish, and I'd have to agree. In regard to the concepts of duty and devotion and using one's gifts for the betterment of humanity? Not his play. The City be damned. The Traveler be damned. The Light be damned.

"Which makes his run to the Tower and his newfound benevolence all the more… curious.

"I lost track of him when the Traveler fell silent. Could be that severed connection drew him back. If so, I doubt it's something he'd admit. Yet here he is—unwelcome, but with a gift for persuasion. I can't say it doesn't make me uneasy.

"There was—so we're clear—a time I'd call him a threat. There was a time I'd look to end him as punishment for the paths he'd tread. But things aren't quite so simple these days. Ghaul taught us that. And while I still plan to punish those who have transgressed, I can also see the value in certain… risks.

"This Gambit—the Drifter's strange little game—may just be one such.

"It requires care and a keen eye to ensure the means don't consume the ends, but I got a feeling our new 'friend' might be a necessary catalyst. And, if not…

"He sure makes for a fine cut of bait."

—A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter

Step into the Shade

"I want to be clear: I do not trust him.

"You get the sense he's working to mend that, sure, but the end game will reveal the truth of his intentions.

"This con is a long one, friend, but if any are built to see it done—and see it done right—the Drifter is our man. So, we see it play out—his Gambit and ours. It may not be ideal. In fact, I'd say far from. It's just that…

"I don't see another way forward. The Light is fragile but quick. The Dark, dense and slow. If we want to control the balance, tip it in our favor… if we want to confront those shadows who would see it shift further toward the night… we must play in the gray in-between. We must draw them out.

"Many have fallen to this path. It's not one I tread lightly, but I've found the only way to best a shadow is meet it in the shade.

"The Vanguard won't allow it—they're noble, but they're flawed. Frightened. Most Guardians wouldn't dare it—too many legends of heroes lost to such unpleasant pursuits.

"But things have changed…

"The Oryx slayers and their like have danced within Ascendant Realms. The nightmare legends of bonewalkers and nether worlds have been cast into the Light. Old fears are now trampled beneath enduring triumph. Now, if ever, is the time to step proud into the unknown and bathe it in our Light.

"And if doing so draws the attention of enemies old and new… if we tempt damnation… so be it. We will stand ever vigilant and burn them all away.

"Or maybe the Drifter pulls a double-cross and our end is met. No way of knowing. No way to tell.

"I say we let it ride. Trust ourselves. Trust our instincts—our Light."

—A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter

Artifacts and Old Friends

"By chance, he and I crossed paths in a… neutral setting. Didn't give me his name, just called himself a drifter. Told him if that's how it was, he could call me 'Pal.' He laughed at that, got comfortable. Got all kinds of open about where he'd been, what he was haulin'. Even dropped a tip on where an old friend of mine was hiding. I still wonder if he knows who I really am.

"He told me he left the system as soon as he was risen. Not immediately, sure. Had to get his bearings, find a ship—get it fit, get it flying. But soon as, he was good as gone. 'Drawn to the outer,' he says. I can appreciate.

"He says he's seen the deep side of Jupiter. Been to the Core Mines of Saturn. Name drops old myths no one's heard—the Luvial Crux, the Shift Chasms Below Elios, the Fourth Tomb of Nezarec. Goes on about the Idols of Lower Sul, the Treasure of Exodus Prime, the Solar Engine of Dead Star-Six.

"I think he's making most of it up, but he's got relics and etchings. He's got materials not of this system—odd metals, obsidian flames, thought engines, edible null cakes and a stuffed something that looks like a rabbit bio-fused with a cephalopod. He keeps all this stuff to himself—his 'gets,' he calls 'em.

"If they're for show, they put on a great one. But to what end? The clutter of oddities he's got ship-side ain't nothin' compared to what he's haulin'—that big, black mass of nothing you ain't ever seen before.

"He calls it an 'artifact,' but it's more than that. Just don't know what, exactly. He said he got far out as he's ever been. Said it was from a place cold enough to snuff out your Light. I ask him, was it Vex? Hive? Cagey as all, he said no, it was just 'other,' and it was powerful… maybe.

"That was his qualifier: 'maybe.'

"Why the hell bring it to the inner system then? 'Maybes' are trouble. But he's got an answer for everything. He says…

"'Brother… maybes are where the real treasure hides.'

"He could tell I wasn't satisfied, but I knew he wasn't lying. The chunk was 'other' for sure, and Ghost said its readings were off the charts, but abstract—unlike anything anyone had encountered.

"Can't say that made me comfortable, but then the Drifter, with his easy manner and eager charm, asked if I'd ever met a man in black named Callum.

"He was clearly changin' the subject, but he was lucky enough—or smart enough—to pick one I had interest in, and I could respect that."

—A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter

Shadow on a Wall

"I knew Callum by another name—a hated name.

"The Drifter had run with Callum's crew for some time. I get the sense he would've been one and the same as them—lockstep down sorrow's road—if they'd met sooner.

"Hell, maybe they WERE lockstep. Maybe his Gambit was theirs.

"Maybe the bait set when the Drifter first came to the Tower was for me and mine. Maybe all we were playing at was our own end. But all that's not worth the effort to dwell on. A path's been set. Best to walk it. If the turn 'round that final bend leads to death, all we can do is return the favor.

"Drifter told me Callum had a spot—a hold he used all his own. Said his crew been runnin' separate jobs to keep me off their trail. Said they knew one-to-one they'd have a hard time walking away, but rolling together only increased their footprint, made 'em easier to trail.

"Made sense. With the six of 'em—Callum's crew, I mean—spread out, each runnin' their own search for whatever it is they're searching for, gave me crossed signals. I'd hear conflicting stories of their deeds from one end of the system to the next, and I had a hard time keepin' up.

"But this info—Callum's safe space—it was a lead worth a look.

"Two weeks into a living hell, I thought Drifter'd fed me a line, maybe tryin' to kill two birds, one stone. There were signs of a Shadow's presence, but they were cold—old. I waited anyway. Shot me some Taken to kill the time.

"The wait paid off.

"Callum entered. Could hear him before I saw him—he was arguin' with his Ghost. I waited on the hope they'd spill goods I could use to track the others. No such luck. Their words were heated. Callum had gone too far. His Ghost was angry. I don't blame her.

"It caught me that she always used his proper name—Callum—and not his other. She still cared. Still hoped. Then she screamed.

"I drew and stepped into the light.

"Callum had his Ghost in his left hand. It was silent. With his right, he had stabbed her through the optics with a sickly dagger—a tool carved from the jagged spikes fired from a weapon I shall not name.

"The Ghost was dead, and Callum just laughed. I think because he knew what came next.

"He and I had words. Told me I'd never kill 'em all. Then he dropped the shell and went for his shooter.

"I lit my fire and painted him on the wall without another word."

—A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter

Bright Side of a Bad Idea

"At this point, the Drifter had me comfortable with the idea of him, but only just. Been a long time since trust came easy.

"I still needed to understand. Needed to grasp what he was after or what was after him—survival depends on knowing what's coming best you can.

"This is before I came to you—but only just. This is me smoothing out the rough angles before risking a proposition I know carries baggage.

"Anyway. He and I went out, found a spot we could be alone, and he showed me. He showed me proof that all of his relics, artifacts, treasures, and junk weren't just for show—our shady friend actually went out and lassoed himself a little piece of hell.

"While Guardians have been waging war with the Taken, while the City's newest legends have been trespassing on Ascendant ground and kicking in Taken skulls, the Drifter's been playing Warlock—which he ain't, if it wasn't clear. Not by common understanding, anyway. In drawing strength from curiosity and using knowledge to bend understanding to his will, this wily bastard has long since shed any pretensions of class or the limitations therein.

"While you lot have been having your fun, drunk on loot, dancin' on the corpses of your enemies—he's been watching, learning, stealing, and planning.

"Now, I make no promises that what he's done was ever intended for the greater good. Point of fact, I actively doubt it. But here we are.

"He's kit-bashed Vex tech with Fallen components, married it to Hive magic, and scavenged Golden Age science with a sprinkling of who knows what, and he's…

"Hold up. I know this sounds bad. Sounds like just the kind of trouble we squash, but…

"He's secured a pocket of the Ascendant plane. Not a throne world, nothing that grand, but a big enough chunk to matter—and he's gone and caged an army. A Taken army. Leftovers from Oryx's reign? Something new? Something old? Something… Hers? Can't say. Don't know. But he has 'em there. He says it's to hold 'em, study 'em—but the best bet says his intentions aren't so clean.

"Purity of intent aside, this is what he wanted to show me. This is why he's here—his Gambit. He wants to help humanity—help us poor fools who call ourselves Guardians—learn how to control not only the Taken… but the powers that bind them.

"Sounds like a bad idea, I agree.

"Bigger picture? Sometimes bad ideas are the best option. Hell…

"Sometimes they're the only."

—A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter

The Price of a Double-Sided Coin

"Here's the play. Ours, I mean…

"You have places. Cleared zones. Not necessarily the safest spots, but not wholly untamed. I say we… you… allow the Drifter to run his game. And let's you and me watch.

"We watch the action. We watch him. We watch who plays and who doesn't. On top of that, we watch their aggression—who's diving too deep, too fast, who's less keen to grow their knowledge, their strength. And who's simply lookin' to unleash themselves.

"The true promise of this Gambit is what you and I can learn. About our enemies. Maybe even about ourselves. That has to be first and foremost. After that, we assess Gambit's value and its risks. If the danger escalates, we shut it down. If any Guardians go too far, we shut it down—and them, if need be.

"My gut says we won't have to. My gut says, against everything I was raised to believe, this is our next step forward.

"And here's the rub: You know this, but only fair that I reiterate. As secret as this whole mess is, and as vigilant as we'll need to be… word must spread. It must. And when it does, I need you to corral Zavala and any others who won't understand.

"'Cuz the other side of that jade coin is the trap being set—this long con—the final bend after a long haul. If Drifter plays his part—and I believe he will—then those who test the edges of the Light will hear tell and come a'callin'. The Shadows brought to Light.

"But the ruse must be complete. Every Guardian must play their part. If you can buy in—if you can see the value in what's to come—then we roll. If not…

"You can stop this here and now. I'll put a bullet in him, be done with it.

"Just say the word."

—A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter

Checking the Chamber

"Your 'Jacks sure can clear a table. Combat area's clean. We're prepped and ready—set for the first run on Nessus.

"The Drifter'll pick up your Guardians en route. Have your 'Jacks primed to engage if—when—it all goes wrong. Not saying I have doubts, but if it hasn't been clear… I have doubts.

"I'll be nearby, as discussed. Anything goes off-rails, we'll close in and shut it down.

"After, if it runs smooth—and we're not all dead—he says he'll set up shop in the Tower. Seems risky, yeah, but that's his lot to handle. Truth is I'd much rather have him Tower-side where he can be watched and 'collected' if it comes to that. The alternative—him runnin' free-and-clear through the system—isn't an option. He's too much of a liability on his own. Luckily, he seems… open to havin' you nearby.

"Still get the sense this whole shindig is something he's cookin' up to face down some big, bad news—some problem he's making ours. But that's his nature."

—A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter

A Matter of Trust

"Well. That didn't go as planned, but your Guardians rallied and saw it through, and the Drifter did his best to fill them in on the sudden… change-state he dropped on 'em.

"I was seconds from rushin' in and toasting him, but he handled the situation and set the teams up to finish the match. To be honest… I thought it would all go much worse. What concerns me is… he'd never mentioned the word "Primeval" before. Not once. And that's a problem for obvious reasons.

"Tearing soldiers of the Deep from another realm is crossin' a bridge too far as is. But those beasts? Those weren't normal Taken possessed and set to rage. They were born of that shadow realm and they were… angry. Worse. They were hungry for the Light. You could feel it. Even a ways off. Their aura and their rage weighed on me—cast a shadow I could feel in my core.

"That he kept them from us is unsettling.

"He says it was a necessary deception. I put my gun to his head and asked if there were any others he'd mind sharin'. He just laughed, as he does, twiddlin' that coin of his, and smiled that winners' smile. Told me to take a load off. I almost shot him then and there.

"He said we'd never have agreed to let him run his competition if we'd known the full extent of the danger. He's not wrong… probably. But it's hard to move forward knowing the thing we've known all along is true…

"The Drifter can't be trusted.

"Yet what choice do we have? Again, the risks are justified by the promise of the ends.

"I leave it all in your capable hands. I'll be watching. My presence only muddies the waters, so I'll be watchin' from afar. If we're lucky… this Gambit will draw the interest of the rest of his old crew, and the Shadows will make themselves known. 'Til then, I'll return to the hunt, see if I can cut 'em off at the pass, wherever it may be.

"Oh. Before I forget—and at the risk of repeatin' myself—keep my real name off your lips. He don't know my face, but he sure as hell knows my name. This all goes sideways otherwise."

—A Renegade's Observations of a Drifter

The Long Con

"Can you do it, Drifter? Can you make the Man with the Golden Gun the villain in the eyes of those who would tempt the Dark? It's the final piece. Can you make them fear him?

"Cuz if you can…

"Any Guardian who truly embraces the nature of your Gambit will find themselves a real connection to the mantle of that dead legend. They will take bear that vile title. They will wear his vile colors. They will challenge and even remake the infamy of his vile deeds.

"Through these temptations, they will grow strong, but the hatred must be true—driven by the power they find in your wicked game, sealed in the fear you'll seed in the name of the Man with the Golden Gun. I wish there was another way, but your old brothers and sisters in shadow are too far gone. You've seen it. You know as well as me—better than me—the path they walk offers only ruin.

"They must be stopped.

"So, spread your unholy word, brother. Give new life to old myths. And when that hateful name Dredgen spreads throughout the system… his real disciples will have no choice but to confront their sins.

"And you and me? We'll be the ones hearing their confessions.

"Oh, one more thing. Let me know who has the gall to change their names. I might want to… give 'em a word or two."

—A Renegade's Final Words to a Drifter Before Resuming the Hunt