Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from Assassin's Creed II, nor any of the material from Kage Baker's novels of The Company, and I am making no money off of this.
A/N: So it's been a while since I posted anything and the writing bug was biting. This is the result. I use elements from Kage Baker's novels of The Company, but it's not so much a crossover as a drop-in.
Florence, 1480. It is night, and Leonardo da Vinci is asleep when someone starts pounding on his door. He grunts, tries to ignore it, but his midnight caller persists, and finally da Vinci is forced to give in, light a taper, and stumble down the stairs. "Leonardo," a familiar voice whispers loudly.
"Ezio?" He opens the door. There stands his friend Ezio Auditore, holding a dripping bundle in his arms, partly swathed in his cape. It is obviously a body, and the liquid puddling on his floor is red.
"More trouble? Around the back..." While Leonardo is a vegetarian who often buys caged birds only to set them free and deplores the taking of human life, he accepts the different reality which is his assassin friend's life.
"No! She's still alive." Da Vinci holds the door and stands aside to let Ezio past.
"She?" Yes, those were a woman's skirts bunched up under Ezio's arm. "Shall I send for the doctor? He lives around the corner..."
"I think in this case that you will be more help than any physician." Ezio lays the unconscious woman down on a worktable and peels away his cape to reveal a small woman clad in a gown of light blue wool. Ominous splotches of blood darken the bodice. Her face is bruised and bloody too.
"Look." Ezio lifts her mangled hand, and for a moment da Vinci thinks her rings caught on something and came close to tearing off her fingers. Then he sees that the metallic glints in her flesh are not rings. They're her bones.
"My God," Leonardo breathes, although he is an atheist. Seizing her hand, he starts examining it. "It's not metal, not exactly-it's like ceramic, but not precisely-Who is she? What is she? What happened?"
"I don't know who or what she is," Ezio admits. "I was hoping you could tell me. As for what happened-it was an accident. I don't know why she's still alive. I stabbed her..."
"You did?" Leonardo turns his attention to the terrible stains on her bodice, reaches for shears, and starts to cut the dress off her.
"She startled me at the top of the Cathedral campanile, or we startled each other. I didn't know who or what she was-the blade was buried to the hilt before I knew. When I pulled it out-she fell from the top of the tower. I'm not a murderer, Leonardo. I have never wrongfully killed any human soul."
"I believe you." Stripping her fine cotton chemise away, da Vinci lays her torso bare. The configuration of her form was of no interest to him, not at the moment-not when there were such terrible bruises covering her ribcage-and then there was the hole, and the bloody bubbles that issued from it. "That has to have pierced the lung-how is she still alive?"
"How did she survive the fall?" Ezio counters. "Her skull should have shattered on the paving stones."
"All of her bones must be made of that strange material. The question is-is this a machine made to counterfeit a human being or a human being who is partly a machine?" Picking up a probe, he slips it into the wound, trying to judge the angle-and suddenly her hand grips his wrist with a strength that would have more than done justice to a full-grown man, not a small and wounded woman.
"Abstineas manum," she whispers. Hands off.
"She speaks Latin!" da Vinci exclaims as Ezio helps him pry her fingers loose. "Quid est nomen tuum?" he asks her in that same language. What is your name?
She does not reply-she merely shudders, and stops breathing. "Dead?" Ezio asks.
Leonardo lays his hand on her heart. "Ye-No! Look!" The wound in her chest is scabbing over, her bruises are turning colors and fading out.
She takes a deep breath and opens her eyes.
From The Assassins' Archives. The Chronicles of Ginevra:
Once upon a time, in the year 2335, there was a company called Dr. Zeus...
I don't know why I'm writing this, or who I'm writing it for. No one else here speaks, reads or writes Cinema Standard, although I suppose if anyone could puzzle it out, Leonardo could. But he already knows as much as I could explain. Still...
Once upon a time, in the year 2335, there was a company called Dr. Zeus, which had discovered and developed two of the most astonishing and revolutionary technological miracles of all time-time travel and immortality. The only problem was that because of the cost involved, both in terms of money and suffering, these two wonders of the ages were for all practical purposes, useless. Traveling through time was painful, debilitating, and occasionally fatal, even with drugs to ease the shock, and the process by which someone could become immortal (not to mention eternally young, superhumanly fast and strong) only worked well on very small children, and not all of them at that. Even the parents who could afford it weren't exactly lining up to sign their infants up for it.
So, there Dr. Zeus' executives were, with these two amazing advances on their hands, not knowing what to do. Then someone suggested combining the two, and hey presto, they were in business. They started mining the past for all the things that were lost to time-extinct species, works of art, libraries of knowledge, fantastic treasures. But how? By secretly using the immortality process to create a workforce of cyborg slaves who never got old or sick or retired or had to be paid or left to have families. Sterile drones who labored away behind the scenes to save paintings from Savonarola's bonfires, to clip cuttings of rare plants which cured diseases that didn't even exist yet, anything and everything you can imagine.
Everyone connected to Dr. Zeus got very, very rich.
Everybody mortal, that is.
But where did they get the children from to make into their immortal cyborg workforce? Anywhere there was an unwanted or orphaned child who fit the morphogenetic profile. From dung heaps and battlefields and plague-struck villages.
That was where they found me, in a small village in Tuscany, the only human being left alive in a peasant's hovel, a baby only a few months old. It was 1432 then. Instead leaving me to die slowly of hunger and thirst, they plucked me from my cradle and turned me into one of them.
So who am I, the person writing this? I'm Ginevra. I am smallish with dark hair and eyes, and pleasantly plump in a way that promises to become dumpy given time, pasta and a few pregnancies (lucky for me that I'm an immortal with an optimized metabolism and can't have children. That's sarcasm, by the way.). Neither especially ugly nor particularly beautiful, I blend in perfectly with the indigenous population of Italy, which is the point.
Dr. Zeus trained me up to be an Art Preservationist, which duty I fulfilled diligently for nearly nine hundred years. By then, pretty much everything that needed to be saved and preserved and conserved had been rescued, reconstructed, and cleaned up neatly, and there wasn't a whole lot left for me to do. Plus 2355, the year beyond which no timetraveler can go and no history is known of, was fast approaching. That's when supposedly all of us slaves will be set free and all the work we have done will be made known, when we can come out into the light and share in the brave new world we've created.
By then, a lot of the people I had met-by which I mean other cyborgs-had fallen off the map somehow. Of course you lose track of people over time, and in nine hundred years, you get to meet a lot of people, so 'lot' is relative. But these people weren't just off somewhere in the hinterlands doing fieldwork, they were missing. Which isn't supposed to be possible. We were supposed to be immortal and indestructible (but not invulnerable. We can be injured and we do feel pain.). No matter how badly we're hurt, even if our ferroceramic bones are bare of flesh and sinew, we are designed to regenerate fully.
Some of those missing people were very good friends. A couple of them were former lovers, in a friendly way.
I was starting to edge out of simple worry into active fear for those I'd lost when I was reassigned to go back to fifteenth century Italy. To Florence, in fact, where I had somehow never been when I lived through that era first. It was a plum posting, the sort that rarely come one's way-saving artwork from Savonarola's bonfires. I was going to arrive several years before the fact to do groundwork. Afterward, I would live all those years forward again, which suited me just fine.
It seemed to me that the twenty-fourth century was not the safest place for those of our kind. Also it was just so damn boring. The food was tasteless, the mortals listless, the environment devastated, the entertainment emasculated... Worst of all, what art was still being made didn't need me to preserve it.
So I jumped at the chance to go back in time. At my age, you'd think I would know better than to trust Dr. Zeus, but I did, and now I think I've become one of the missing.
I went back in time, all right. I even went to fifteenth century Florence. The Florence I wound up in is a Florence without Dr. Zeus, and in all the time I've been here, I haven't come across another operative from Dr. Zeus, mortal or immortal. Instead, I'm embroiled in a conflict between two secret societies, the Assassins and the Templars, who are fighting over the possession of an artifact which may be the original Apple stolen from the Garden of Eden. Or maybe it's the product of an advanced civilization that predates human existence. It might even be both. I'm on the side of the Assassins. In the process, I've done so many things, such as successfully treated Lorenzo de Medici's gout and arthritis, introduced antibiotics to the world several centuries early, not only provided Leonardo Da Vinci with more scientific knowledge than this century knows of, but gave him access to my credenza unit, a computer capable of synthesizing organic compounds and I don't even want to get into the business about Pompeii...
If this were my world, and Dr. Zeus caught up with me, I'd be in so much trouble Dante would have to come up with another circle of hell to describe my punishments. I've changed the course of recorded history, and that just isn't supposed to be possible.
But I am not sorry, and I do not apologize. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
TBC, if anyone likes it. Or maybe even if they don't.