Author's note: This is a very short ficlet, set somewhere towards the beginning of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. I don't think we get to hear much from Desmond in the game about how he really feels being so deeply connected to his ancestors, so I wanted to explore that a little bit, especially as his real life and his experiences in the Animus start to merge. Thanks for reading!
"Volare" translates to the verb "to fly" in Italian.
Monteriggioni at night.
Desmond had been here only minutes before, five hundred years ago. The Animus always left him feeling a particular way, jumpy and excitable, like a small puppy who'd been given an exceptionally large bone. Now that he'd been expelled whilst Rebecca made some technical adjustments, he just wanted to continue exploring. Shaun had complained about his inability to keep still and shooed him from the vicinity. Desmond needed to run and to fly. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop was a thoroughly addictive pastime.
In Ezio's time the town was noisier and livelier, humming with barely-contained renaissance life. It spilled out onto the cobbled terraces and ran down the hill like warm rain. Residents shouted with typical Italian exuberance from their windows to friends in the street below, courtesans eyed passers-by like lanky cats ready to pounce, and venders peddled their wares to anyone who would take them. During the night it was no quieter, because as the village people slept cicadas and crickets took it upon themselves to maintain the humid, pleasurable drone of Mediterranean life.
But now it was different. Metal fences covered the great high walls and electricity pylons laced like lightning across the sky. The town was still. Desmond descended the steps of the Monteriggioni villa at an eager jog, breathing deep the sweet Romanic air. The sun had set several hours ago, and in the intervening time the gentle wind had conspired to form a cool chill. The evening sky was so dark it was almost blue. Artificial yellow lights glowed from rooftops, creating perfectly spherical pools which were obliterated and relit in turn as Desmond ran past.
He increased his pace, heading straight for the side of a house below the villa. When he reached the wall he leapt upwards, his feet somehow leading him vertically, caught momentarily in glorious limbo before his fingers grasped the flat roof of the building and were able to hoist him up. Desmond clambered quickly to his feet. He wasn't yet as fast or nimble as his predecessors in the Animus, but he was getting there.
From there he leapt to an adjacent rooftop. It was becoming easier to gauge distances and the strength he needed to transfer to his limbs with each jump. Although the natural hum of life in Monteriggioni had been replaced by the synthetic whirring of cables and transformers, sometimes when he narrowed his eyes Desmond could see ghostly visions of those ancient people still treading those ancient paths.
Now he surveyed the town from his position on the roof. This was his ancestor's land. He felt the building beneath his feet, connected to the ground below, through which flowed the memory of the earth and all those buried within it, pouring into him the wisdom and power of centuries past.
He jumped to the next roof, then the next, intoxicated by the thrill of freefall. Sprinting, vaulting, climbing, until the entire town was his playground. He flung himself with what Lucy would call reckless abandon, grabbing onto ledges and handholds as he passed, barely pausing to catch his breath before he raced towards the next part of town. As he went his heart increased to a fluttering beat, driving him faster through the charcoal shadows. He remembered Ezio climbing these very same walls, with the exact same sensation in his abdomen, a sudden celestial release that felt like the opening of great feathered wings. From one windowsill to the next he soared, as if he had no knowledge that men were never destined to fly. He rose above Monteriggioni like an eagle. The cicadas saw him, were reminded of similar avian men far back in their collective past, and started up their own concerto to guide him on his way. High above Desmond the ever-watching moon lit him a gleaming path. He made his way to the top of the church, an indomitable building which had remained beautiful and untouched since the fifteenth century. The tiles of the roof were firm beneath his feet, although he might have expected them to be loose and unstable. The town had changed: he could not ignore the hatchbacks parked in the street or the ugly black lampposts. But the spirit of Monteriggioni, its anima, remained unaltered.
The young man held his side and tried to regain his breath. He smiled, laughed hoarsely to himself and listened as the sound cut through the nighttime atmosphere. The air tasted like warmth and spices, like life itself. He felt a sudden vital force being inhaled into his lungs, a strength which seemed to be drawn from the ground below and the sky above. He felt Ezio standing with his feet in the same spot, laughing and breathing, existing not in ages past but concurrently, his very essence passed on and alive in his ancestors. They were one and the same. The sweat at his temples which the dusky breeze cooled was the same sweat, the blood in his veins the same blood.
Desmond closed his eyes and saw Ezio stepping forwards. The argent moon, eternal and unblinking in her quiet encouragement, guided them both. There was Ezio Auditore da Firenze, whose heartbeat he could feel as strongly as his own in his ears, and his grandfather, and his grandfather, and somewhere much further back was Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, vague as a dark shadow but strong and real too, and his grandfather, and endlessly on and on back, until he wondered how many ancestors stretched on into eternity, like cobwebs brushing against the edges of his subconscious.
They showed him the way. He felt the fortitude of a thousand years in his bones, whistling under his wings, carrying him unstoppably forwards into the throes of time.
Desmond leapt, and he flew.