|Assassin's Creed: Apotheosis
Author: Shadow Chaser PM
Templars long sought control over the Pieces of Eden and the Assassins opposed them. But what if the line between the two wasn't so black and white? What if the grey in between held an even more frightful truth? -Post AC2, Alternate Universe- (Cover image drawn by doubleleaf - used with permission)Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Desmond M. & Lucy S. - Chapters: 57 - Words: 361,769 - Reviews: 236 - Favs: 142 - Follows: 115 - Updated: 12-21-12 - Published: 05-10-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5960779
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Assassin's Creed: Apotheosis
By: Shadow Chaser
The Pieces of Eden, powerful objects that can hold sway against the masses of this world, seemingly turning them against one cause or another. Long recorded in history, seemingly each major event in history and its actions have been attributed to a Piece of Eden. What are these objects left by Those That Came Before? Templars long sought control over them and the Assassins opposed them. But what if the line between the two wasn't so black and white? What if the grey in between held an even more frightful truth?
Chapter 1 – Sanctuary
The glow of the Animus 2.0 slowly faded away from Desmond's eyes as he slowly blinked them and his vision returned to normal. He let out a quiet breath as he sat quietly in the backseat of the minivan they used to escape the warehouse a couple of days ago. If someone told Desmond Miles two weeks ago that he was going to be reliving the memories of his ancestors, he would have called them crazy and checked the glass that they had been served for any mind altering drugs.
But now, that possibility had been blown into the water and here he was, just out of another session in the Animus. A quick look to the front windshield of the car told him that it was just after dusk, the bright red-orange streaks across the sky slowly fading away as another sunset dipped below the horizon.
"Desmond?" Lucy's concerned voice made him look from the windshield to her face, where she was sitting in the front passenger seat, a map in her hands. Shaun was driving now, he realized, having switched with Rebecca somewhere this morning before he went into the Animus to poke around Ezio Auditore's memories and life.
"I'm fine," he shook his head a bit, trying to clear the fuzz in his head that he always seemed to get after every Animus session. It was like waking up to a clouded dream, the teetering edge between reality and the Animus world. Lately, due to the Bleeding Effect, he had been having a tougher time clearing the fuzz away. It worried him, especially since his collapse at the warehouse just a few days ago, reliving Altaїr's memories without the help of the Animus.
But it was the only way they were able to train him to become an assassin in such a short time so he did not dwell too much on the memories, hoping that he would not turn into a psychotic like poor Subject Sixteen. He rubbed his eyes, stretching his unused muscles and felt a few pull in hurtful protest from sitting so long with the visor over his head.
Yawning he took the headpiece off and gave it to Rebecca who was now monitoring his progress in the Animus. "Did you get the data about the Bonfire of the Vanities?"
"Yeah," she replied absently, taking the headpiece and putting it in a secure foam box before continuing to type on her laptop. "That's some serious shit going on right there, you know."
"Yeah," Desmond had to agree with Ezio's thinking that no one should die by fire and had actually sympathized with Savonarola's rationale while his ancestor was killing all of his lieutenants. He wondered if his own sympathies had influenced Ezio during the hunt as he could feel the compassion from his ancestor pouring out to the ones he had slain.
Stretching once more, rotating his neck a bit, he kicked out his feet as much as he could, curling his toes a bit before grinning at Lucy, feeling a little more refreshed, "So, where are we?"
"Almost to the base," Lucy replied, "we've just passed Denver."
"Wow, good timing if I may say so," Desmond replied a bit cheekily before he saw Lucy roll her eyes and Shaun shake his head, "what?"
"Two days of non stop driving and all you can say is good timing?" Shaun shot back a bit acerbically, "well I'm sorry I didn't drive any faster because you were having too much fun mucking about the memories back there sleeping beauty."
"Hey! I wasn't sleeping-"
"Boys, please!" Rebecca cut them both off, "you would figure at least one of you can be an adult?"
"No, mother," Desmond smiled crookedly before looking at Lucy again, "so where is this base?"
"Well it's still in use by the United States armed forces, but our allies control it so we have a base in there. In recent years we've managed to clear out the Templar installation in the base by having it moved to Vandenberg Air Force Base," Lucy replied and Desmond frowned.
"Wait a minute…" he trailed off as his brain caught up and he realized what base she had been talking about, "are you serious?! Cheyenne Mountain?! NORAD?!"
"Yes," Lucy smiled slightly, "and no there are no stargates, no super computers ready to launch nuclear missiles all over the world. No war games, nothing there."
"Hah, hah," Desmond said sarcastically shaking his head in wonderment, "there's no terminator there, right?"
"You know, T3? The god-awful Terminator movie?"
"I thought that was T4, the one they called Salvation."
"That one was bad too, but T3 had Cheyenne Mountain in it," Desmond replied.
"No, I'm pretty sure that there are no terminators in there," Rebecca answered for Lucy, grinning at him.
"Good," Desmond barely suppressed the smile on his face, "that means I don't have to declare myself John Connor. Wait, I thought the base was military…the Assassins have contacts in the military?"
"Desmond," Lucy shook her head, "we are everywhere, just like the Templars. We have our own corporations too, but we're a bit more unobtrusive about it unlike the Templars with NASA and other government operations. Think about it, in Ezio's time there were Assassins from different walks of life. Surely there would be more now?"
He pursed his lips for a second before nodding, "Good point. I just…don't really believe it thought. Kind of hard to…"
"Yeah," Rebecca typed a few more things on her keyboard, "but most of the Assassins are average Joes like you and me. We took Altaїr's Codex to heart and disappeared into the walks of life. If you really want a twisted view, just think of the Templars as being the more visible one this day and age. An inverse of Altaїr's time."
"That's scary and creepy too," he shuddered slightly, "and it seems wrong."
"Not a popular theory, and Rebecca will disagree with me about it, but I believe that we should have abandoned the pretense of hiding and sneaking around when the Industrial Revolution happened. That's when the Templars made their move to seize control of various industries and place their top men in charge," Shaun spoke up.
"If we did that then we'd be no better than the Templars," Rebecca shot back.
"The Templars wouldn't have as much resources as they do now, hunting us down," Shaun replied and silence filled the minivan.
Desmond saw that Lucy had looked away, her expression neutral, but he saw the hurt in her eyes and wondered if she too believed Shaun's words. A quick glance at Rebecca showed him that she had a pinched and angry expression. He barely remembered his time at the compound that he had grown up in, having closed himself off to the past, but he did remember vague images of two adults, probably his parents, arguing with each other about some kind of seizure of power or something of that nature.
"We're here," Shaun muttered after a few more minutes of silence and Desmond peered through the window to see that indeed they were at Cheyenne Mountain, the words clearly etched above a semi-circle entrance way guarded by gates and several armed soldiers.
He watched as the British man pulled up to the checkpoint gate and hold out an ID of sorts to the guard on duty.
"Reason for visit?" the guard asked, looking at the ID while his partner, a woman with short dark hair and a hawkish gaze looked at all of them with a critical eye.
Desmond felt a whisper of something within him as the woman's sharp gaze focused on him and he involuntarily swallowed. That was one scary look the woman possessed as he focused his gaze somewhere else. He noticed that the woman's nametag on her BDUs said [ALLEN] and the guard that was checking Shaun's ID said [LAMDRID]. He did not know any military rankings that well, but Desmond suddenly wanted to all but avoid the scary Ms. Allen at all cost.
"Civilian contractors for the Operational Intelligence Watch division. Dr. Stillman here has some critical information that was obtained in the past week," Shaun replied smoothly.
"May I see you ID ma'am?" Lamdrid asked and Desmond watched as Lucy handed her ID. He briefly saw the flash of the Abstergo logo and wondered what she was doing showing an ID like that to an Assassin base…when he suddenly got the idea to use his Eagle Vision.
It took a brief moment of concentration, like dragging something out of the depths of his mind, but just as suddenly he saw the world around him grow muted and the bright blues of his companions in the minivan stood out in stark relief to the grey-muted background. Turning his gaze to the two guards, he saw that the one named Lamdrid was bright blue while oddly; the scary Ms. Allen was colored yellow. A target? Information? He could not quite tell as he released his hold on his Eagle vision and his gaze reverted back to normal.
He winced as he felt a pinching throbbing headache form in the front of his head and rubbed his temples slightly, trying to relieve the pressure. That had never happened before when he used his Eagle Vision to sense the intentions of others. Was it a part of the Bleeding Effect?
"Hey, he all right?" he heard Lamdrid ask and stiffened before giving his approximation of a happy smile.
"Yeah, fine, just tired, that's all," he shrugged, "woke up a few minutes ago."
The guard looked at him dubiously before handing Lucy back her ID along with Shaun's. "You're all cleared to go. Should I radio ahead to let them know you're coming?"
"Please do, I have vital information to deliver to them," Lucy nodded before Shaun continued into the base. Desmond glanced back to see Lamdrid the guard speak into a radio, but what surprised him was that Allen was still staring at them and he had a nasty feeling staring more at him. He suppressed another shudder and turned his gaze back to the front where Shaun pulled into a parking space and turned the car off.
"Well, here we are, home away from home," the historian unbuckled his seatbelt before stepping out of the car, Desmond doing the same.
As soon as he stepped out, he took a deep breath of the mostly fresh air, smelling a combination of gasoline and a musty basement smell. Stretching once more, he looked around him to see a lot of military styled vehicles along with some regular looking cars. There were even some luxury cars and sports cars and he thought he spotted an Alfa Romero nestled in the corner.
"Wow, whose Alfa is that?" Rebecca commented as she too stepped out of the car with Lucy.
"Probably some military big wig," Lucy replied as they gathered their things. Desmond didn't really have anything in particular to carry with him, except the clothes on his back, and stood awkwardly as he saw Rebecca pack everything into a backpack before shouldering it.
"There you are!" a warm melodic feminine voice spoke up and Desmond turned around to see a woman, with graying black hair pulled into a bun walking towards them. She was dressed in a sharp business suit and at least four others followed in her wake, all of them dressed in business suits to varying degrees.
Behind them an elevator door was opened with two armed guards standing inside it, obviously waiting for them.
"Dr. Patrice?" Lucy smiled before the woman engulfed her in a hug, "it has been too long!"
"Yes it has my dear," the woman replied before releasing her and shook hands with Shaun and Rebecca. As she finally looked at Desmond he thought he felt a slight pulse of power from her presence and realized that this woman, whoever she was, was probably the head of the Assassins of this day and age. Her gaze was kind, but he could see the undercurrent of power behind them and knew that she was not a person to be trifled with.
"Ah, you must be Desmond Miles," the woman grasped his hand and shook it firmly, "we've heard so much about you in recent weeks."
Desmond gave her a hesitant smile as she released his hand and looked at him with a critical eye. This was probably the person that Lucy had been communicating with while he had been locked up at Abstergo. "Sorry, I-"
"No need to apologize Mr. Miles," she smoothly cut him off, patting him lightly on the shoulder, "it is we who should be apologizing to you and to Ms. Stillman here for not being able to rescue you in time."
"Oh dear me," the woman gave him a smile that did not reach her eyes, "where are my manners. I am Dr. Alyssa Patrice, the director of the Operational Intelligence Watch here at Cheyenne Mountain."
"But I thought-"
"A military man or woman would be in charge? Well, I am also a retired Brigadier General if that helps ease your conscience," the woman continued and Desmond blinked in shock. This was definitely not a woman to be trifled with. "Now then," she turned to address the others as if answering his question was nothing, "I'm sure all of you have had a long journey. However we will need to debrief all of you before I can allow you to rest. I am sorry, but we must know where the Templars stand."
Yep, Desmond thought inwardly, Dr. Patrice was definitely part of the Assassin Order. No one could spit the Templar name out like she did with such venom.
"Before that, ma'am, is there a place where…you know…" Rebecca looked a bit uncomfortable and the woman laughed lightly.
"Of course, I am sorry," she apologized before gesturing for them to follow her to the elevator, "I'll direct you to the facilities before we begin the debriefing."
They followed her to the elevator and surprisingly with ten people in it, the elevator still had a lot of room. Desmond saw her insert a keycard before pushing a button to take them down to the 30th floor. The headache he had only a few minutes ago was starting to fade away, but replacing that was a bone-numbing fatigue that he didn't realize he had felt since his harried escape from Abstergo. He realized that it was because for the first time in the past two weeks, he felt safe here and his body reacted by finally allowing itself to relax instead of pumping a steady small stream of adrenaline in him.
The ride was silent and once they hit the 30th floor below ground, the doors opened with a quiet hiss and Dr. Patrice and the four other business suited men and women stepped out along with them before the door closed once more
"Facilities are that way," Dr. Patrice pointed down a hallway before gesturing to the opposite end, "please find us in the Briefing Room A afterwards Ms. Crane."
"Will do, thanks!" Rebecca jogged off and Desmond realized what she had meant earlier and shook his head.
"The rest of you, please, follow me," Dr. Patrice gestured for them to follow her and they did so. Desmond took in his surroundings, noting how grey and colorless the walls were. Pipes running throughout the hallway were exposed, but even then, the placed had a very sterile, military feel to it. He remembered vague images of The Farm that he grew up in, open aired and with a rocky countryside feel to it. Here was very industrial and closed…he was glad that he wasn't claustrophobic.
They entered the briefing room and to Desmond's surprise, instead of the military backdrop, it looked more like a corporate meeting room, but with some homely touches here and there. Leather seats enclosed an oval shaped table and on one end was a projection screen and on the other, stairs that curved downwards to the level below.
"Please, take a seat," the doctor smiled at them and Desmond did as he was told, sitting next to Lucy, Shaun opposite of him, saving a seat next to him for Rebecca. The others also sat down, except for one man who headed to a small coffee machine and poured himself a cup.
"Coffee?" he gestured with the pot and Desmond shook his head.
"I'll take one, black please," Lucy replied.
"Three lumps of sugar and some cream please," Shaun said and Desmond glanced at his friend.
"That's watered down," he really did not get the oddity of putting so much cream and sugar into coffee where he usually preferred his coffee black with two lumps of sugar if that.
"That makes the watered taste you Americans have for your coffee much easier to drink," Shaun shot back, grinning.
"Hey!" while he had mostly bartended the night scene, during his time off the grid he had done a few stints at high end cafes and served people their rich lattes and cappuccinos too.
"Mr. Miles, Mr. Hastings, Ms. Crane, and Ms. Stillman," Dr. Patrice started once everyone had been seated and coffees in front of them and Rebecca had returned from the ladies room, "I would like to first say, welcome home."
Desmond saw the other four nod and smile at them before Dr. Patrice gestured to the one closest to her on her right and the one that had asked if they wanted any coffee, "This is Leo Meridius, Patrick Li, Reina Smith, and Trey Jager."
"I take it that the other compounds have fallen then," Lucy looked saddened and Desmond was a bit confused.
"Yes," the doctor nodded sadly, "it is as you may have heard. The smaller cells, like yours are all that is left and the survivors are still trickling in."
"Won't the Templars eventually discover where we're gathering?" Shaun asked.
Dr. Patrice nodded, "Eventually they will, but even so, to get 30 levels underground even with a nuclear missile would be an incredible, if not reckless, feat. We are a military bunker and still have some control over the various governments of the world."
Desmond knew that her words were supposed to reassure him but the uneasiness inside of him grew slightly. Outwardly he felt relaxed and comforted that he was safe once more, however he could not help but think that bunkering down in a place with technically only one way in or out was like backing into a corner. Even with government access and power in places, in this day and age it was the businesses that ruled the government, constantly lobbying and pressuring lawmakers to make laws in their favor. Corporations like Abstergo had the power and the influence to make some radical changes.
"So what then? We stick it out and hope that the Templars don't come knocking?" Shaun asked and Desmond was glad to find that at least someone was thinking along the same lines as he was.
Leo Meridius, the one sitting to Dr. Patrice's right laughed lightly before shaking his head, "We were hoping to take the fight to them with the knowledge that your cell along with Ms. Stillman has gotten from her deep undercover op at Abstergo."
"Wait," Desmond spoke up, bringing everyone's gazes upon him, "taking the fight to Abstergo, to the Templars? Are you kidding?"
"I dare say I am not laughing now, am I Mr. Miles?" Leo pitted him with a steely look that felt like he was staring deep into his soul.
"I'm sorry, but remember when a team tried to get me and Lucy out of there? They kind of failed?" he hated to be callous, but how could these big wigs of the Assassins fathom the strength the Templars had? It was only a miracle and chance that Lucy was able to spring him from his cell and the two of them making their escape with relative ease. Even the ambush at the warehouse was all due to luck and Dr. Vidic's incompetence for not bringing armored personnel with him.
Stony silence from the five business suited people greeted him in wake of his statement and in hindsight, Desmond realized that it was probably not the right thing to say.
"Sorry," he muttered, staring down at his hands, rubbing his forehead to allieviate the headache that had flared up again. "I know the Assassins did their best trying to get us out-"
"No, you're right," Dr. Patrice cut him off, however, her voice was tight, "the Assassins did fail in their attempt. We had underestimated Abstergo's strength and the Templar's based where you were held. It was our fault that we did not get to you in time. You have every right to be angry with your Brotherhood for failing to protect you."
Now Desmond felt extremely guilt and he winced, "I left the Brotherhood, the Farm, many years ago. You guys shouldn't even have an obligation to me. I'm just a nobody, someone who-"
"Happens to carry the genetic legacy of extremely powerful and probably the most sought after Assassins in history," the African woman, Reina Smith, finished for him, "and many of your genetic bloodline have held the Pieces of Eden."
"You are also the only one to have survived from the Animus where sixteen of our Brothers and Sisters before you have not," Reina continued gravely, "you may not realize it, Desmond Miles, but right now, you are the most important asset we have to the Brotherhood, more than the Pieces of Eden."
Desmond slowly closed his mouth as he realized the implications of her statement and looked at Lucy, a wash of betrayal running through him. "You told me that these sessions in the Animus were to quickly train me as an Assassin, not some messiah for the Brotherhood… Did you know this?"
"Desmond," she reached out to grasp one of his hands, but he pulled away, pushing back his chair as he stood up and swore.
"Fuck!" he clutched his head, feeling his headache grow stronger, "I don't want to be used like this! I only wanted to help because those jackasses fucked up my life!" Suddenly he blinked as he saw ghostly images of several horses, galloping from the distance, coming closer. He watched as they galloped past the table, passing through the walls and people before disappearing and squeezed his eyes shut once more as he groped for his seat and sat heavily down again, his headache now a throbbing pulsating pain. "Fuck," he swore once more, quietly.
"Desmond?" Lucy's gentle touch was feather light and this time he didn't push her away.
"Ghost image," he muttered, letting his elbow rest on the table as he kept his eyes shut. Somehow, the headache didn't hurt as much when he kept his eyes closed. "Bleeding effect…"
"What did you see?" she asked gently.
"Calvary forces," he started shortly, "dunno what kind of banner they were holding, armor looked ancient Roman, definitely riding somewhere…"
"When did this start?" another voice, one either belonging to Patrick Li or Trey Jager he couldn't tell with his eyes closed spoke up.
"After I was half synched up with Ezio Auditore's life. I had Eagle Vision a lot longer…after I was completely synched up with Altaїr Ibn la-Ahad back at Abstergo," he replied tiredly, feeling completely drained of all energy.
"Has he had any other hallucinations or black-out episodes lasting thirty seconds or longer?" someone asked in the room as he squeezed his eyes tighter and rubbed his right temple, trying to find some comfort in the throbbing pain.
"Not that we know of," Lucy replied for him.
"Mr. Miles," Dr. Patrice's voice was now kind and gentle and he cracked open and bleary eye to look at her, finding that she had a sympathetic gaze on her face. However, the others all looked like they could have been carved from stone. "Desmond," she gave him a hesitant smile, "you may be excused from this meeting. We'll talk later, all right? One of the airmen can show you to your quarters."
Desmond nodded, grateful for the reprieve. He felt like such a fool, cursing out the head of the Assassins and the other big wigs while also falling prey to the Bleeding Effect at the same time. Getting up, he nearly stumbled and it was only with Lucy's hand on his arm that he was able to find some steady perch before she helped escort him out of the room, following the airman to his quarters in the base.
He barely remembered getting to his quarters, only the door opening into a dark room before the cool pillow resting against his cheek and maybe Lucy saying something to him before the blissful darkness claimed him once more and he fell asleep.
It was several hours later, the meeting long ended, but the two of them still sat in the briefing room. The dim darkness of the room elongated whatever shadows were visible, but they sat there, contemplating what was said at the meeting and what was implied.
"Did she get the data yet?"
"She's looking it over as we speak."
"Are you sure about this? It's dangerous, you know."
"But he has to know…otherwise we'll loose this war. We have less than three months left."
"What if he can't control it?"
"Then Minerva was wrong and all will be for naught. He will, have some faith in him. He's the only one that was able to survive."
"Are the others ready?"
"Andrew's been ready for a long time. Enzo, not so much…"
"What about Arden?"
"She saw power in him and confirmed it. She's not happy, but then again, she's the one that is closest to him in this day and age."
"What about you?"
"What about me? You know as well as I do what's at stake."
"It doesn't mean I am ready for the others to know. It's risky and it may break the will of some of the other Brothers and Sisters. They may see it as nothing more than manipulation on par with the Templars."
"I grow tired of this life…I have said my farewells long ago…I am ready."
"So am I, but the others, especially Arden, she may not be willing to let it go so easily. She is, after all, the youngest of us."
"Andrew taught her well…she will accept it when the time comes."
"The real question is, will Desmond accept it?"
"He has to, there is no other choice. It must be done or else everything will have failed."
A little fic I had started a while back, but I figure I post it for all of you to read. Not my first time writing in the AC fandom (I've got my Robin Hood/Assassin's Creed crossovers to thank for that). I also would like to thank moondusted who wrote "Above the Serpentine" for inspiring me to write this. Chapters will be updated, but very slowly.