A/N: This is my first fanfiction I'm publishing on here, so I'm still tinkering around with things and figuring it all out, so I apologize in advance for that. Also, thanks to Hodgepodge11 for stepping up to the task and agreeing to beta this... Whatever it is that this may turn into.
Disclaimer: Legally, I own nothing but the mistakes (And please, by all means, take them and use them how you will).
Desmond Miles bolted upright, eyes wide, and the image of Lucy Stillman's eyes as the blade punctured her stomach burned in his memory forever. He brought a hand up to rub his forehead, closing his eyes as he tried to think and ignore the memory that continued to replay over in his mind like a broken DVD.
Where was he? He glanced around and realized he had no idea and couldn't answer that question.
Where were Shaun and Rebecca? Again, no matter how hard he thought and tried to remember, he couldn't. Those voices… He could remember voices. He'd been on the border of consciousness, but just as he had been preparing to reenter reality, he'd been thrown back out of it. He couldn't remember anything but those voices after he'd fallen unconscious.
He laid back down, hitting his head roughly against the smooth flooring beneath him, though not hard enough to harm himself, clenching his eyes shut again.
He couldn't remember anything after he had killed Lucy… After Juno had made him kill Lucy. He gritted his teeth together and balled his hands into fists as he let the admittance of his action run circles through his head.
I killed Lucy. She's dead because of me. I couldn't save her.
Would she ever forgive him, in life or death, for what he had done? Did she know that he hadn't meant for it to happen? Could he ever forgive himself for letting it happen? He couldn't blame it all on Juno. He had grabbed the Apple. He could have chosen not to, he could have let Shaun finish his explanation and let the team figure something out together, as a team, but instead he had decided to ignore Shaun and do his own thing.
Now, because of him, Lucy Stillman was dead.
She had been the mastermind. Without her, Desmond would still be in Abstergo, or six feet under, most probably the latter, and there would be no one standing in Abstergo's way.
Desmond opened his eyes slowly. Dead or alive, Lucy wouldn't want him sulking, wouldn't want him lying there in self-pity. She would probably have yelled at him for doing just that and would have given him a good quick in the butt for wasting so much time already.
He pushed himself slowly into a sitting position as he let his mind wander over his possibilities and options. He looked around again, only more carefully this time.
What would Ezio do? What would Altaïr do? He asked himself. He scanned the room for every detail, every flaw, everything. That's when he realized there was nothing. The floor was the same as the walls, the walls the same as the ceiling. The only reason he could tell which of the six sides was the ceiling was due to the fact that there was a tube of white neon-light around the edge of the ceiling, which convinced him that he was on the floor and not delusional.
Other than that square band of light, there was no difference between the six sides of the cube that made up his prison. They were all white, smooth, and cold. There wasn't even a bed. The floor was vacant of anything, save for himself, as were the walls. He couldn't even tell if there was a crease for a door in the wall or not. All the tiles that made up the floor, walls, and ceiling were evenly spaced and all seemed to be exactly the same size.
Desmond frowned thoughtfully.
"Where the hell am I?" He muttered as he pushed himself to his feet slowly.
He looked up at his destination through dark eyes, plotting a path from where he was to where he needed to get, his hands gripping the cold stone of the cliff's face. He refused to look down, even to gauge how far he had come. He was not afraid to fall, he never was, but to look down would be to doubt himself, it would be a sign of weakness. He strived to have no weakness, he had no doubt in himself, and he feared nothing.
It had been one year since he had successfully hid the Apple after the battle with the man he had trusted, his mentor, his master, and his leader. He had trusted no one else with the location, not even himself. If you asked him to point to the location on a map, he could not do it. He had not thought about where he had been heading, he had not been looking for anywhere in particular. Something else had been guiding him. He couldn't even remember his path. The only thing he was sure was that the Apple would not be found unless the gods wished it. He was sure of that.
He had tried to destroy it, to no avail, and he refused to use it. The Apple held power that no man could rightfully wield. It was not something that belonged in this world. It was a tool of the gods, and if they so wished for a servant of theirs to use it, it would no longer be his problem, and he wished that it would never have anything to do with himself ever again.
Altaïr reached the edge of the cliff sooner than he had expected, not realizing that he had been moving as fast as he had whilst he had been thinking. He peered over the edge to make sure there were no guards stationed here, simply out of precaution, before he silently and swiftly pulled himself up in one quick motion and ducked behind a nearby boulder.
There were not supposed to be any guards on this side of the fortress. They did not expect anyone to come from the cliffs, which led to untamed waters below. They did not expect as trained an assassin as Altaïr, clearly.
He had already reconnaissance the area a few days earlier, which was how he knew there were to be no guards near the cliff's edge.
Altaïr lifted himself a few inches to peer over his shoulder, and the boulder, not making too much movement incase there were guards looking in his general direction.
The fortress was simple enough. A general of the European army had overstayed his welcome in the Holy Land, and he, along with a number of armed forced, were stationed in this fortress. The general had spent his time here torturing priests and monks for reasons no one was certain of. Rumor was that he simply found enjoyment out of proving that their god was not going to save them, that their god was 'nonexistent', and that, even in the 'Holy Land', there was nothing Holy about them, their god, or anything in the land they fought so desperately to protect. It was said that if the priest or monk turned away from their one true God, the general would release them. If not, the priest or monk was killed, the body burned, and all historic records of the victim were destroyed and anyone who dared refer to them as a 'martyr' was also killed. The unfortunate holy men simply ceased to exist.
Altaïr positioned himself into a crouching position, ready to sprint towards the wall of the Fortress, slowing his breathing until his body was as still as the boulder behind him. His eyes were closed as he, once more, went over his planned route. This 'general' was a monster, Altaïr was positive he was not working under any orders from any European leadership and was simply doing these horrendous things out of boredom, or something just as petty.
Altaïr breathed slowly, and when he opened his eyes, he wasn't looking out over the sea that he had come from, but was looking at a strange… City. Not of his world, with unimaginably tall buildings, and roads that were not made of dirt, but something else that he could not quite tell what was. He stared, lips pressed together in a tight line. The image flickered a few times, and then faded back to the seascape he was familiar with. He shook his head, as though he could clear the remembrance of the image from his mind.
It wasn't the first time this had happened, but it was becoming more constant, and he still could not figure out what it was. He had figured out it was a city he was seeing, but beyond that he had no idea. The buildings were not from his world, were not possible in his world. He could not say what the people looked like, for every time the image came, there had been no people, and he had only seen the roads and buildings.
He pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger as he clenched his eyes shut, refocusing himself on the task at hand.
Altaïr turned and checked one last time over the boulder before he sprinted from the cover for the fortress's wall, and without missing a step scaled up the vertically-set stones three steps before jumping from that third step best he could and grabbing onto a stone that was not set evenly into the wall. He quickly found a foothold and handhold for his free hand before he could slip and began scaling the wall as easily as if he had been born to do it.
"That is it! You are getting better!" The young man sidestepped out of the way of a swipe of the practice sword from his opponent, making it seem as though his opponent was getting closer at hitting him, but in reality was having no trouble dodging the harmless weapon.
"You keep saying that, but we both know you are not trying. How am I supposed to get better if you simply play with me as you do?" His opponent asked, a look of concentration on his face, though halfhearted.
Ezio smirked and made his move, stepping in closely and bringing his own practice sword against his opponent's quickly. In a quick, circling-movement, he had his opponent's sword spinning out of his grasp into the air, and clanking woodenly to the dirt below.
Ezio held out his hand to the fallen sword as though it were an example to his point.
"My friend, you are getting better, but if I were to treat you as my equal, then you would learn nothing." Ezio lobbed his own wooden sword over to where the other had landed and stepped forward, clasping his opponent on the back as they walked towards the exit of the practice ring together.
"You are learning the steps, and you are learning the technique. Speed and strength will come later." Ezio assured him before they parted ways, Ezio's young opponent to wherever his home was, and Ezio to his own villa.
The practice ring was on the edge of the city of Roma, out of the way of foot traffic, but easy to find for those that wished to practice, observe, or learn.
It had been a few years since the events of Roma and Ezio's last enemy had fallen. Now, he was done. He owned a villa outside of the city, and he trained assassins to carry on the legacy that had been passed on to him, though this had become more infrequent. He still partook in missions, and he led the Brotherhood, but he was not as involved as he had once been.
Though he hated to admit it, he was getting older. He just couldn't continue doing what he had been doing when he was younger. The fact was that he wasn't young anymore. He needed to grow up, as much as he hated the idea. He needed to take responsibility for the life he was now leading, the same thing his father had done, but he would not make the same mistakes.
Ezio walked to the stable closest to the practice ring, where he had left his horse in the care of the stable boy there. The boy retrieved the white stallion and handed the reins to Ezio.
He mounted the horse gracefully and took off in a trot for the northern fields outside Roma. He glanced over his shoulder to take one final look at the grand city as he left it in his wake, always loving the view that was there to greet him.
He frowned in puzzlement, as the sight he received was not the one he was used to. In place of Roma was the skyscape of a city unlike any he had ever seen. Towers of metal, taller than any he had seen before, rose to meet the sky in place of the tall church towers he usually recognized, with lights that were not made of fire dotting their peaks. The horse slowed to a stop when it felt the reins grow slack, and Ezio turned in the saddle to get a better look.
As he moved, the scene flickered and faded back to that of Roma.
Ezio shook his head roughly and pressed the palm of his head to his forehead, like he could push the thought out of his head.
He had no idea what it had been. A city, that was easy to figure out, but it was not Roma. At least not his Roma.
Ezio turned to face forward again, his eyes narrowing in thought as he kicked his heels into the horse's sides softly. As the horse started back into a quick trot, he glanced over his shoulder once more only to see Roma again.
"It is stress…" He reassured himself.
A metronome counted the seconds that passed by, never yielding, never changing, a soft click accompanied by a pendulum swinging back and forth on its mechanism. It sat atop a plain black piano. Sitting on the bench at the keys, Lucy Stillman watched the metronome, thinking to herself. Nothing else mattered in the room but the constant click of the metronome, and the piano in front of her.
She didn't even know where she was, she didn't care. For once in the past few months, she was relaxed, at peace. She couldn't even remember how she had ended up in this place and she didn't care.
A voice at the back of her head said this was all odd, that something was wrong, but she didn't want to listen to it. She felt like there was something she was forgetting, something that was important that she needed to take care of… But she still found herself not caring.
She cared only about the piano keys under her fingers, this instrument that she hadn't played since she had been a girl in junior high. It was something she had loved, but something she had lost time for when she had entered high school.
She counted the beats off: One, two… Three, four… One, two… Three, four…
She did not even realize she was counting these beats oddly, in a way that did not actually flow with the song she was planning to play.
She closed her eyes as she played the first note, which flowed into the next, and the next.
The song was a common, well-known composition. Moonlight Sonata, composed by Beethoven. It was the work she had always been the best at playing. She did not need the music in front of her in order to play it; she knew it easily by memory.
It was a haunting melody, one that someone couldn't play without the slightest bit of emotion. It needed to be played with emotion, without it, it would be an entirely different piece of work.
Lucy was broken out of her trance. Her finger missed a key, and the music collapsed. She felt her body tense up, not at her name, but the voice that spoke it.
"I did not know you could play the piano so well."
Lucy didn't open her eyes, she didn't want this peace to end, but she knew it had to.
"You have much explaining to do, Miss Stillman." The voice continued. Now, Lucy turned her head slowly to reply.
"Vidic," She breathed, a tone of impatience there, but she barely got the name out before the older man had his hand around her throat, pushing her roughly back against the piano and causing a few notes to be sounded harshly. The metronome fell off the side of the piano at the sudden shove that caused the entire piano to jolt.
"You have betrayed the cause. You have let Abstergo down. And here I was, vouching for you, giving you the honor of being there by my side as we retrieved the Pieces of Eden." The man snarled, his cordial tone turning sour. He spoke as though she owed him something, as though he had done nothing wrong.
In his eyes, he hadn't. In his eyes, she owed the world to him. In his eyes, the world would soon belong to him, even if she didn't give it to him.
"Abstergo is a corrupt cause. You are a monster." Lucy gasped out, her own hands grabbing onto the man's wrist to relieve some of the pressure.
"I will admit honestly that I am a monster, Miss Stillman. I hold no illusions about that. I am not here to be a kind person, nor am I here to make you believe I am a kind person. But Abstergo… Abstergo is here to open the way to a new civilization, a better place." Vidic's tone went calm again, and his scowl slowly turned into a pleased smirk that would make anyone feel uncomfortable.
"I am here, Miss Stillman, to eliminate Abstergo's enemies and opponents." With those words, Vidic pulled a hidden blade from inside his coat with his free hand, and without any more ceremony, thrust it into her stomach, releasing her throat as he did so.
Lucy looked down at her stomach, framing the blade in her stomach with her fingers. It was surreal. She had never really thought about how she would die, but the idea that she would be stabbed had never occurred to her.
When she looked up, Vidic was gone. In his place stood Desmond Miles, the look of shock and fear on his face a mirror of her own. The piano was gone, and she was suddenly on her feet again, standing straight. There was nothing around them but darkness.
Time seemed to stand still, and she could tell there were words that Desmond wanted to speak that time simply wouldn't let him. As she fell backwards, the hidden blade on Desmond's arm withdrew and he fell with her, only when she hit the ground did he hit the ground on his shoulder and roll onto his back, away from her so he didn't land on her.
As her head hit the ground, the fantasy vanished and reality snapped back into place.
Lucy bolted upright from the laying position she had been in, eyes wide. Within a moment, she regretted the movement as pain shot through her abdomen, but didn't lie back down. Instead, she took in her surroundings. She was in a hospital bed, a heart monitor sitting nearby sounding her vitals with a rhythmic 'Bleep, bleep… Bleep, bleep…'
No one was in the room with her, and from the looks of it, it was a regular hospital room. It didn't look scientifically advanced, nothing out of the ordinary. She had no idea where she was, but for the love of whatever higher being there was, she hoped she was in a regular hospital. She hoped Rebecca and Shaun were alright.
She hoped Desmond was alright.