Original Summary: It would be absolutely fascinating to actually experience the Animus, to leap and fly with Desmond's ancestors, wouldn't it? Frankly, it's as incredible and as terrifying as it seems; then there's always the knowledge that this story ends with your death. That kind of puts a horrible spin on everything, and Desmond's situation was terrible enough before I, well, became him. Yay.
Chapter 1 - Waking to a New World, with a New Body
When I woke up, slowly dragging my mind away from the realm of dreams, my body felt wrong; foreign. I kept my eyes firmly shut as I tried to remember the last dregs of my dream, searching for a reason why I might feel so…off. Several minutes later, my body still felt weird and I couldn't remember anything of my sleeping imaginations, beyond the fact that the last one was amazing, weird, and scary all at once. Giving up recalling the dreams as a futile effort, I tried to narrow down what felt so different than normal and figure out just what was so wrong as to set off the alarm bells ringing in my head.
Groaning at the effort, I dragged a hand to my face, laid it over my eyes, and frowned. There was something wrong with this simple action as well. I pinched the bridge of my nose, blindly reaching to the right for my glasses with my other hand. Instead of hitting my bedside table, my appendage swept through empty air. Grumbling under my breath – and I knew my voice was hoarse in the mornings, but I didn't realize it sounded this deep – I groped for the edge of the pseudo-wood. When, after all of my fumbling failed and I still couldn't find the bed table, I grudgingly opened my eyes.
It took several moments for my sight to clear, but when it did, I instantly felt even more on edge than before. Something was definitely wrong! I could clearly see the ceiling and walls, a plain white with an alarming lack of geeky posters. When I hauled my still-tired body into a sitting position, I could actually see the entirety of the room in precise detail, and absolutely nothing looked right. My bed table and glasses – which I apparently no longer needed, holy crow everything is so clear – were missing. My tall dresser had turned into a tiny, squat thing, and my closet had decided to jump up and hide itself away overnight.
What in this world was going on? I slung my legs out of bed to stand up, and my head hung low in the persistent exhaustion of waking up when you haven't had enough sleep the night before. It took several seconds before I finally realized just one of the reasons why I'd felt so wrong when I had woken up. "Where are my boobs?" I squeaked out, my voice deeper than I expected and only startling me further. "What happened to my voice?" When I put a hand to my throat, I felt a distinctly hard knob under my fingers. I pushed at the edges of the protrusion, noticing that it was firmly buried under the skin of my throat. "I have an Ann's Apple now? What in this world is going on?"
My breasts were gone, I had mysteriously grown an Adam's apple, and a quick check told me that, yes, I was now fully male with all the parts entailed, and that using the bathroom would be very different now. My bladder chose that moment to let me know that visiting the bathroom was indeed a requirement in my very near future. Oh that's great. I had no idea where I was, or why I was suddenly a guy, but surely there had to be a bathroom nearby?
I quickly hurried to the closest door, and halleluiah, there was the bathroom. Several highly embarrassing minutes later, I was thoroughly scrubbing my hands, trying to forget what had just happened. I had always wondered what having a- well, what having male organs would be like, and if it really was so much easier to pee. Now I knew, and I still didn't know what to think.
I was pretty sure I was in shock, and I knew that I didn't want to actually fully comprehend this situation. Shock was providing a nice little buffer that was letting me accept everything as it newly was, and I could panic over everything later once I knew just what this 'everything' was. Calmly not freaking out, I went back to the –my? - room and proceeded to open the squat dresser. Rifling through the drawers, I found some blue jeans, a black shirt with an eagle decal, and a matching white hoodie. I didn't really care what they looked like; I just wanted something to hide the odd flatness of my chest, and a hoodie was a great way to hide the foreign body shape. I did appreciate the eagle motif, but I personally would have preferred something a lot less white; maybe a black version of the hoodie instead?
Once I had awkwardly changed my clothes, I went back into the bathroom to get a better look at 'myself' and my new appearance. I had already noticed that my hands were different; they were callused, lightly scarred, with the fingertips especially roughed up. I used these newly scarred hands of mine to flick on the bathroom light, and I could finally see what my new body looked like. Ignoring the feeling of apprehension that told me to just go back to bed and sleep off this weird dream, I forced myself to focus and finally began examining myself in the mirror.
The first feeling that struck me, aside from the weird, shock-muted sense of wrongness, was the impression that I had seen this person somewhere before. I was immediately distracted from this thought by the almost complete loss of my hair, my waist-length locks receding almost entirely back into my head. I bit back a childish whimper at the loss of nearly a decades work, now reduced to a mere crew cut, and instead focused on my face. It was far darker than my easily burnt skin, and my permanently tired eyes had shifted into a more alert looking golden-brown. I couldn't compare the facial structure to my normal face – I would have to leave that to someone who could actually identify faces properly – and instead focused on what I could tell apart. My nose was thinner, and had a sharper edge. My lips were thinner as well, with a scar running down the right side of my lip.
I distracted myself with this new feature for a moment, letting a small smile play over my newly scarred lips. I'd always given my video game characters a little facial scar, and now here I was proudly sporting one of my own. Not only was it a neat little scar, if it had been on the other side of my mouth, I could have passed as one of my favorite video game characters. I watched in the mirror as my smirk twisted the shape of my lips, distorting the scar slightly along with it. Yep, I could almost pass as Altaïr with this face.
Finding some humor in this crazy situation, I flipped my hood over my face as I turned away and left the bathroom. Why not increase the similarities? It was something to distract myself with as I managed to keep my panic forced down. It also covered my poor hair, and a shudder wracked my body at the picture of my newly shortened brown hair. Was it wrong that I almost found that bit the most traumatizing? Even the new method of relieving myself hadn't thrown me as much as my new hair had, and that had been really weird. Maybe I was just trying to distract myself with something trivial instead of focusing on the actual problem… like just who in the world was I now? I certainly wasn't a college schoolgirl anymore, not with this decidedly masculine and surprisingly fit body.
Once I was back in the room I had awoken to, I tried to find anything that might help me discover who and where I was. Several minutes of searching assured me that yes, all of my clothes were this boring, my nicest shirt was simply a button up white dress shirt; and no, there weren't any handy journals or diary fragments handily lying around. I did find a wallet, hidden oh so sneakily away on the top of my dresser, with some ID and a chunk of cash inside, but no credit cards or pictures. According to my motorcycle license, my name was Nolan North and I was 28 years old – and apparently not an organ donor. There were several grocery store receipts inside the wallet, which I had seemingly paid in cash, but there was nothing else exciting, marginally interesting, or even slightly distinctive inside.
After not finding anything else in the area I had awoken within, I gave up on the bedroom and decided to search somewhere else. I tried going through the other door, hoping that it would lead to the rest of the house, or apartment, or wherever I was. It did indeed open into a hallway, and I proceeded to explore the rest of the floor. It was tiny and white, lacking many of the personal touches that naturally accumulated over time. There was a small bookshelf in the living room, but no TV. The fridge was well stocked with a mixture of tasty and healthy food. There was an abundance of non-perishable food in the closet, but I focused on the boxes of cereal. There was no reason for me to keep searching on an empty stomach, was there?
Somehow I managed to find the cupboard containing the bowls on my first try, and I then proceeded to pour myself a nice bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice, the cup of which also took me a single search attempt to find. I set them both down on the small kitchen table, and picked up the newspaper lying out as I sat down. It was already opened to the business section, clearly already rifled through. Deep within the page it was open to, was a headline that immediately caught my eye: Abstergo Pharmaceuticals Recall Product – Just What Went Wrong?
My eyes jerked to a halt as my brain struggled to understand, and then carefully looked higher on the paper for the date: August 31, 2012. 2012; no, there was no way this paper was even a year old, much less two! My mind was racing and screaming over the inconsistencies that had kept occurring once I had awoken but could no longer be held at bay. It wasn't 2012, Abstergo didn't exist, and I did not belong in a male body! I did not wake up in a body not my own with a completely different gender, and I did not wear a white hoodie or have a very distinctive lip scar!
Except… apparently, I did. Well, shit. I numbly slumped back in my chair and mechanically ate the cereal. Somehow I managed to avoid making a mess, despite the fact that I couldn't tear my eyes away from the Abstergo article and the damning date. Surely there was a rational reason behind these crazy circumstances? It could be some weird prank – moving me to a new building, creating a fake newspaper – except that wouldn't even come close to explaining the apparent body swap.
There really was no explanation for suddenly waking up in, apparently, the form of Desmond Miles. Even as I was frantically trying to reconcile everything that was happening, I mentally smacked myself for not recognizing Desmond earlier. The lip scar alone should have informed me, but looking at a real-life, full detail reflection was completely different then looking at an arrangement of pixels on a screen. Except… the ID upstairs identified the new me as Nolan, not Desmond… because Desmond hadn't gone by his name in 9 years. He apparently hadn't gone by his actual age for as long as that, as well.
Was I really Desmond, though? I pulled back the left sleeve of my hoodie, pushing the cloth up until it bunched just under my elbow and stared at the tattoo this action revealed. I raised the inked arm closer to my eyes for a better look, trying to find the meaning behind the swirling patterns. After several minutes of finally getting to see the tattoo up close, I had to admit defeat in interpreting the design. So maybe a tattoo wasn't the defining feature of Desmond, but when it was combined with the rest of the distinctive differences, it made for a pretty compelling argument.
Alright; I'm still fine, but I've replaced Desmond's mind. I breathed in slowly and tried to reconcile the incredible situation. I could just barely accept the fact that I was apparently firmly entrenched in Desmond's body, but how could this have come to be? The most obvious possibility – and the one I wanted to immediately discount – was that I had gone insane, drooling and chewing on my tongue, locked up in a padded room somewhere if I was lucky. I winced and pushed that possibility aside – if that was the case, there was nothing I could do, and I would enjoy this insanity while it lasted. My second idea was only a tiny bit better than the first. If I was in a universe where Abstergo exists, maybe I could be in an Animus reliving Desmond's memories? Except, there were no guiding voices calling from thin air, there were no Animi where I came from, and there was no such thing as an actual Abstergo company on the world in which I lived. I could try to intentionally desynchronize with Desmond despite these facts, but that could be a very bad idea; considering that to desynch would mean either I died or I completely screwed something up beyond all hope of repair. Or I fell into the water as Altaïr, but that doesn't really count.
I didn't want to do either of those things just in case my third possibility was the reality of the situation: I had somehow been transported into an alternate universe and inserted into Desmond's body. Now, this normally wouldn't have even appeared on a standard person's list of possibilities, but I was a huge fan of fanfiction and alternate universes were pretty standard for the course in many of those stories. They were actually a pretty common thing/theme, especially when dealing with crossovers. Like, say, a crossover between the real world and Assassin's Creed.
Transportation into an alternate universe and overtaking Desmond's body was by far a more appealing idea than that of having gone completely insane. If this was an alternate version of the game world, which I had recently run through in a marathon play, I had the foreknowledge of exactly what to expect. If I was insane and this was my minds way of coping with the trauma, 'playing' through Desmond's story properly might lead to me waking up at the end. If I was trapped within an Animus via Abstergo, it didn't much matter what I did. Other theories on to what happened were getting a bit, "far out there," even for me, so I decided to just stick with being trapped within Desmond's body in an alternate universe as my working theory.
So…right; where was I? I'm Desmond – and wow, wasn't that weird. I've always had problems with keeping myself and the characters that I played as separate, but this was the first time I could say, "I'm Desmond," and actually mean it quite literally. I knew I had a problem identifying with the protagonists far too easily: I completely mangled the pronouns when describing them or what happened in the game, using 'I' and 'we' instead of 'he'; I copied some of their verbal ticks and spoke like them immediately after playing; and I managed to carry myself like them if I truly identified with them, mostly unintentionally. I had tried copying Altaïr's mindset and moves for days while playing the first game, but had faced less than a rousing success when I had attempted to copy him intentionally.
Unfortunately, I have a somewhat negative character mindset: I have a malleable personality and a weak sense of self to go along with my low self-esteem. Thankfully, video game characters bled over less than book characters, but I was still crap at keeping myself separate from them. Well, at least that would make acting like Desmond easier: I had just gotten off an Assassin's Creed binge, playing through the entire series and gorging myself on the fanfiction available, and I had absorbed enough of Desmond that I should be able to act as him for at least a little while…
Wait – rewind, pause, replay. "Characters bled over." The bleeding effect; oh God, I'm going to go completely insane before this is over, quite literally. If the bleeding effect was bad enough for Desmond, who seemed to have a pretty secure sense of self, how would I fare when I wasn't even in my own body? Would I forget myself entirely with nothing at all to remind me of myself? Would I bleed Desmond as well as the others, and not be able to remember that I wasn't actually Desmond without any proof otherwise? My breath was beginning to race again and I forced myself to stop, breathing deeply and watching the spoon shaking in my hand. I focused on the spoon and my breathing, trying to keep steady as my distorted reflection finally stabilized and my breathing leveled out. Now was definitely not the time for a panic attack; I had to keep considering the situation and the possibilities trapped within.
Would I be able to access Desmond's ancestors through the Animus? It should probably work – I'm in Desmond's body, and AC4 which I've never played, but I've read enough about to get the gist of it apparently proved that Abstergo didn't need Desmond's mind to go memory diving, just bits of Desmond's body and DNA; my body, now. A better question was whether or not I was going to go along with the Animus joyride Abstergo puts me through – put Desmond through. I could leave New York right now, hop on my motorcycle and leave for anywhere else. I could just not show up at work today, or I could try and fight back against the Abstergo agents sent to capture me.
A self-deprecating smirk slid across my face for a moment as I imagined using my almost non-existent fighting skills against a crowd of well-trained opponents. The last option was a crappy choice and wouldn't work for far more than one reason. Besides, why would I avoid Abstergo? If I didn't become captured and thus 'rescued' by Lucy and eventually led to the cave, who was going to activate the First Civilization Artifacts and stop the planet from burning? My smirk faded as I realized just what playing along as Desmond and saving the Earth would entail. It wasn't just inevitable insanity I would face, but a martyr's painful death.
My breathing began to once again race out of control as I the possible repercussions of this new situation began to bare down on me. Desmond had not had a happy journey, not once in the moments between his capture and his death. He had first faced being a prisoner, and then after I had escaped, I had become functionally insane before becoming comatose, reviving long enough only to discover a possible end of the world and dying to stop it. A painful death, burning alive to stop the burning of the world –
My breaths were coming out in heaving gasps and my chest was starting to hurt. Why was I on the floor? My hands were hurting and my lungs were bursting and my breathing was burning and I needed to breathe, breathe, breathe in… breathe out; breathe, breathe, breathe! With a shuddering gasp, my panting began to slow incrementally. I rode out the panic and fear, shaking as I struggled to calm my breathing. Nose, mouth; nose, mouth; breathe slowly…
I carefully relaxed into a sitting position on the floor as my body slowly normalized. Well. That was a larger panic attack than I'd had in a while. I idly wondered how long this episode had taken, as I hadn't looked at a clock before falling into my state of utter panic. Instinctively turning towards the only clock in the kitchen and taking in the time, my body stiffened in panic. Crap! I shot forward in a sudden flurry of motion, frantically cleaning away the mess I'd made of my 'breakfast'. I was going to be late for work! In my panic and instinctive worry, my body operated pretty much entirely on auto-pilot. I rushed around the house, struggling to get ready for work as quickly as possible, grabbing the wallet of lies and rushing down to where my motorcycle was waiting. Soon I was soaring down the city streets, driving the route that would take me to my work at – the Tempest?
The incorrect thought finally brought me out of my instinctual actions and I blinked, finally fully registering just what was going on around me. I was at a traffic light, I had driven to said traffic light, and I knew exactly where to drive from here if I wanted to make it to work on time. Carefully guiding the small vehicle through the streets, I used my now-present conscious mind to figure out just what I was going to do. Before that though, I had to correct myself and remember the actual name of Desmond's workplace. Was it Bad Wolf? I shook my helmeted head as I took another turn. That wasn't it, but it was close… Bad… Bad… Bad something…Bad Tempest? No- Bad Weather; that was it! Hah, I got it.
One mystery solved, I turned my attention to the job itself even as I pulled into a nearby parking space. I had apparently finished the commute to work without a problem, but would I have the same success when it came to actually preforming my job? There was no time to guess as I was already heading into the back, slipping off my hoodie and into a white dress shirt. Several minutes later, I had finished preparing for my shift and stepped into the main area.
Time began to blur past as I was forced to focus entirely on what I was doing, on who wanted what, and on how to give the patrons what they wanted. I barely had a chance to think about my new situation in the bustle of the evening crowd. Finally, a few hours later when I could confidently take control of what I was doing and the gut-clenching panic of being forced into a new situation faded, I turned my thoughts away from running in fear and towards dealing with my new problems.
So, this is what I have to deal with. I was working Desmond's job at Bad Weather, and he had been kidnapped when he was heading home from here. His capture was in September… I took a moment to mentally layout an incredibly rough timeline of when everything happened, working from the end backwards. December 21 was doomsday, October 29 or 31 was the start of Assassin's Creed 3, and I was 'rescued' by Lucy in the second week of September after spending a week in Abstergo's clutches. I distinctly remember none of the e-mails I 'hacked' at Abstergo had been dated after September 10th – the 9th was the last I could remember, but I wasn't too sure – and I spent a week in Abstergo's clutches. I grimaced, knowing this was a horrible summation of the timeline, but I could focus on it and try to figure out more exact dates when I had a calendar and could write them down. The important part was that Abstergo had me within the first few days of September, and it was already the end of August.
As if responding to my thoughts, one of my coworkers flipped over the little day-calendar to September 1st as the clock struck midnight. Well…crap. I sucked in a breath as I tried to guess how long I had. Would it be tonight that I was kidnapped? Would it be tomorrow, or the day after at the very latest? I decided that it was probably today, mostly because that was the most inconvenient. Heh, inconvenient – that's a bit of an understatement. I would be facing the crazy, brainwashed, animus-trained Templar agent with the next few days… probably the next few hours. I spared a moment from working to gently thump my head on the nearest hard surface. I repeated this procedure until the urge to curse and scream finally receded.
I didn't have much time to acclimate or prepare; I could deal with that. No big deal, really. Keeping in mind the limited time, what were the most prominent problems and possible solutions? I sucked in a breath even as a patron requested a "Shirley Templar." I forced a little laugh as I served it to him, definitely not needing the reminder or the distraction right that minute.
Abstergo was definitely the biggest problem, but I couldn't avoid them, whether I wanted to or not. Not only was being kidnapped by the company the first stepping stone to saving the world (Irony, anyone?), but there was the simple fact that they wouldn't let me quietly slip away. They had caught my scent after so many years, and their resident insane bloodhound would not let me go free without chasing after me like a rabid lunatic. So, despite my biggest problem being Abstergo itself, I had to put aside that problem for now and do nothing but let them progress as they willed. God, I'm such a coward. Surely there would be something I could do if I thought I could actually go through with it?
Alright, so I had to ignore the Abstergo issue for a moment, but what I was really worried about was losing my sense of self, of forgetting just who I was – who I am. If I had more time, I probably could have come up with a working plan for retaining my persona in secret. As it is, though, I had no idea how to remember 1 single girl and the fact that I was she in the face of my oncoming madness and deluge of other people's memories! Drunken giggling interrupted my worries, and I turned to see a girl trying to look 'seductive'. I was not feeling seduced: A, she was drunk; B, she was horrible at looking seductive, but I would give her points for pulling it off with confidence despite that; C, I had only just left me female body and hadn't really reconciled with that yet – I wasn't about to go exploring my new male form and trying to figure out what my sexuality was just yet; D, I didn't do casual sex – or any sex at all, really; and E, she was drunk. Not getting into that mess just yet.
I molded my face into a polite but distant smile, relying on the part of me that was still Desmond to take care of this problem the same way it had taken care of the drive and my lack of bartending knowledge. Several minutes later, I was in possession of a new phone number and a request that I, "Don't forget about me, 'kay?" I went to quietly toss the number aside when an idea struck. I might not want to remember her, but I did want to remember myself. A while later, after I'd found a black permanent marker and a spare moment, my tattoo had new symbols written within its lines. More specifically, I now had my name and phone number scrawled on the inside of my arm, imprinted on my flesh and much harder to forget. It would work for now, and probably for the next few days if I was careful with washing and remembered what it stood for, but it was nowhere near a permanent answer.
However, I was temporarily satisfied with my solution, so I turned to what the next problem might be. Lots of little problems were trying to swarm around and catch my attention, but with some effort, I focused on what might be a very vital problem. Could I actually go through with the script, act perfectly as Desmond for the bare minimum of a week? Was it necessary to get Desmond down perfectly, or even advisable? How much would not acting just like Desmond would have acted affect the story, and could I keep up Desmond's personality and phrasings until the day I died? That still sounds so unreal, like an abstract problem that can just be thrown around casually. Until the day I die – not some random date years into the future, but a set date with death in less than 4 months. I don't think I can really believe that yet.
Would Abstergo even notice if I wasn't the Desmond they expected – and what were they even expecting? Abstergo hadn't been tracking me for long at all, and I – Desmond – had been incredibly careful, so they shouldn't know what Desmond was actually like normally. Any aberrations could be attributed to the kidnap, the Animus, or Altaïr. The only problem was if I threw the plot off by not preforming up to par, not being valuable enough for Lucy to 'rescue' me and bring me to the assassins. I was 'saved' because it was theorized that I would work better if I had a positive reason and was in friendly territory, and because I was so valuable. What if I did badly and they just went straight to harvesting my organs and sticking others through my ancestor's memories? Desmond's ancestor's memories, I meant. Argh.
Lucy was one of my biggest problems. She was both my ticket out of Abstergo and to the Assassins. Yet she was a traitor, and had continued serving Abstergo despite our escape. Her reasons for serving Abstergo were some crap about them actually helping the world, but she did have her heart fixed on the right problem…just the wrong solution to that problem. She was actually a mostly good person, and she had liked Desmond. I think she did, at least. This is one of those times where I wish I could actually figure those things out on my own, not have to be told about them bluntly via the Wiki and various fanfiction. If she decided not to like me where she had liked Desmond, this whole venture could be completely screwed before it even began.
I blew out a breath as I began cleaning away my workspace, the end of my shift fast approaching. I didn't really hold anything against Lucy, just that some stories ended up pairing her with Desmond, so I should be able to get along fine with her. She didn't ever straight-out lie to me, so I could accept that. I wouldn't exactly be telling her the full truth about myself, either. I finally just set the problem aside with my work shirt as I pulled my hoodie back on, about to leave the bar. It was 4 in the morning, and my shift had just ended. Mentally bracing myself, I finally began heading back towards my motorcycle, my senses on full alert. The Templars could be here any –
We have him.
Yes. Shoving him in the van as we speak, sir. Target will be delivered on schedule.
It's done! I typed up over half of this back in March, but lost my notes on where I wanted to go next. You can thank the Assassin's Creed Unity trailer (and song) for bringing me back to this fandom and finally finishing this first chapter. The formatting isn't perfectly consistent – I ended up italicizing the thoughts I had while writing as thoughts I would be thinking in the second half, where I had merely brushed them aside before.
So, as all of you have realized, this is a shameless self-insert story. Obviously I'm not going to pop in and make everything perfect – I've already fallen apart and had a panic attack on the floor, and I have no clue what to do. I'm equal parts terrified and secretly, quite thrilled. Obviously I've planned for such a crazy occasion – I research all my games just in case reality warps and I end up trapped as the main character. …It's a thing; it's been that way since I first watched Pokémon.
I'm trying to balance what I can actually remember when I haven't played Assassin's Creed in a few months, the knowledge I have at my fingertips, and the fact that my 'character' just went through an Assassin's Creed binge. …There's also the fact that I haven't finished Assassin's Creed 3 because, well, I don't want to see the ending.
If anyone is worrying about the pairings, so am I! I don't think I'll end up with anybody, but I'm not declaring anything off limits. It will probably just end up gen and I'll have worried for nothing. Oddly enough, even though I prefer Desmond and Shaun over Desmond and Lucy, I've already written and planned out several scenes between Lucy and me. I don't even know.
…Was it wrong of me to call Desmond the main character when he doesn't exactly, um, exist? I kind of thought of having his consciousness sealed away until I – well, until I died, and then him coming back, but I don't know. Ugh. Who can I add as main characters?
…Does my summary suck? What drew you in? What almost made you stop? Is the title alright? Most importantly, where can I improve? Thank you for reading, and for your feedback. Have a nice day!
Original upload: June 18, 2014
Last updated: June 25, 2014
Words w/o A/N: 5,169
Words with A/N: 5,638