Epilogue: Everything is Permitted
The visor pulled back and Desmond blinked at the lab's ceiling. That was... That had been... "What the hell was that?" he demanded, starting to get up. Movement out of the corner of his eye made him still partway, however, as he turned to his right and saw three men in the conference room. One bald and in a tailored suit and two behind him looking more like bodyguards.
"... Well?" the bald man asked, his eyes focused solely on Vidic.
"We've got the map," the old man replied.
Desmond felt his blood chill. The map. That was what they were after. A map to all the other fucking Pieces of Eden. Oh it suddenly made so much sense. It wasn't that Altair had found other little silver balls; it was that he had seen a map. One he hadn't recognized outside of Europe and Africa and the Palestinian coast, but one that Desmond, of course, did.
"How many?" the bald man asked over the intercom.
Vidic smiled. "At least half a dozen."
Desmond glanced back and forth. That wasn't a half dozen! The map flashed around in Desmond's head, spinning slowly with each dotted glow of a location and he knew that there were closer to fifty places on that map. Good God, how many did Abstergo even have? To only see a half dozen new ones?
The bald man frowned. "We don't need them all."
"We can assume some amount of decay," Vidic replied. "I can't imagine they'll all still be functioning." Desmond sat up, eyes still going back and forth. "At least two appear to reside on landmasses that no longer exist."
"We'll dispatch teams to each site and determine viability. We only need one after all."
They had enough experience with these things that they could even "determine viability"? Something cold was working its way down Desmond's spine and latching onto any organ it could find.
"What about the rest?" Vidic asked.
"Collect them," the bald man replied. "Let's not leave anything to chance. Last thing we need is some damn survivor making trouble for us in the New World."
Survivor? Did they mean someone unaffected by mind-control or the literal meaning of "survivor"?
"And the Assassin?" Vidic smiled.
"We have what we need. Kill him."
Lucy stepped forward from behind her terminal. "Wait!" Desmond, Vidic, and the bald man stared at her. With a small breath she calmly stated, "You know how these things work. I doubt we'll be able to walk right in."
"What's your point?" the bald man asked. Suddenly Desmond had a theory on who the bald man was: Alan Rikkin. No proof other than he was in the conference room with Rikkin's email, but Desmond couldn't help but wonder.
"We might need him," Lucy answered. Vidic took one step forward, but Lucy continued, "His memories. I'd recommend we hold him until we have confirmation that there aren't any surprises waiting for us at the sites."
Vidic gave a loud scoff. "This is a waste of time."
Lucy turned and shot right back, "You said it yourself. We shouldn't leave anything to chance."
"Very well," Rikkin nodded. "Ensure we have no further need of him, then kill him."
"Fine," Vidic grumbled.
Rikkin turned sharply on his heel and marched out, his two henchmen following. Things were silent as they left, but once the door closed behind them in the conference room, Vidic turned and stepped right into Lucy's personal space. "Stop undermining my authority!" he hissed.
"I just saved your ass!" she yelled back.
Face twisted in anger, Vidic growled, "Let's go," before starting to walk away. "We've got a lot of work to do." He paused by Desmond. "Don't get too comfortable, Mr. Miles," he said pointedly. "We'll be back for you soon enough."
Vidic set off at a strong pace, Lucy only offering the tiniest of glances in his direction as she hurried past to keep up with him.
Desmond watched her go and wanted, desperately, to see a way out of all of this. To somehow find some way to fly out of here, to soar free again. Lucy, good friend that she had proven to be, had bought him time, but aside from that he saw no good. If only he could somehow reach out and...
Desmond looked down to the floor. What the hell is that? There was a pentagram in a circle right at his feet, glowing read. He quickly looked over to Lucy and Vidic as they were hastily making an exit and saw the red aura of an enemy that encompassed Vidic and the white aura of an ally that framed Lucy. There was more red on the floor, pictures and letters. Looking around, there were all sorts of things and Desmond just stared.
He walked past the foot of the Animus, looking at a triangle of neat rows and columns with letters.
Desmond looked, his mind switching to codes the Assassin's used that he remembered to try and read what it was. It took the better part of an hour, but once he basically flipped how he read to right-to-left and down-to-up, he felt the chill in his chest increase manifold.
THEY DRAINED MY SOUL AND MADE IT THEIRS I DRAIN MY BODY TO SHOW YOU WHERE I SAW IT
This was... this was... A previous subject was trying to communicate. An Assassin. Or a descendant of one that had learned Assassin codes. Looking around, Desmond saw the Nazca lines of South America, the monkey, the bird, and the spider. "... to show you where I saw it..." Was this a place for a Piece of Eden? Desmond looked around some more glowing red drawings as his sight continued to act strange. There was a landscape of some sort. Mountains and some sort of... farming steppes? But it didn't look like steppes. Plateaus of some kind? There looked to be a Mayan pyramid nearby, which leant itself to Desmond's thought of a Piece of Eden being in South America.
Shaking his head, he went in front of the conference room he saw the pentagram along with Japanese torii, tall Japanese castles, a mountain and moon, and English letters spelling out Yona guni.
The splatters in the pentagram were really starting to creep Desmond out but he didn't want to think about it.
By the other computer bank he saw three triangles and their placement reminded Desmond of the Egyptian pyramids, and the Eye of Horus seemed to validate the thought. But the next glowing red that caught Desmond's eyes were over a triangle filled with eyes that held a glowing apple atop it. And, instead of a triangle, there was a square of text. Desmond moved around to orient himself.
Once again the neat rows and columns reminded Desmond of Assassin codes and he read it the same way he did the triangle. From the bottom right and reading up.
ARTIFACTS SENT TO THE SKIES TO CONTROL ALL NATIONS TO MAKE US OBEY A HIDDEN CRUSADE DO NOT HELP THEM
In this, at least, Desmond agreed. He sure as hell wouldn't help them. Above the square was an Illuminati pyramid with an eye in it.
Christ it was like every conspiracy theory Desmond had ever even heard of was true. He shook his head again and suddenly his vision was back to normal. He blinked, trying to figure out what the hell had just happened and if what he had seen was really there or not.
He looked around the lab, not seeing any of the red writing and Desmond couldn't help but wonder if his mind was snapping. How else did he see something that wasn't there?
Blinking, the writing and pictures were all back and Desmond sucked in a breath sharply. But with another blink it was all gone.
As if the chill of everything that he had learned thus far wasn't enough to make him shiver, Desmond felt his stomach dropping as he wondered if he was entirely sane any more. He quickly went to Lucy's computer, anxious to see if there were any reports about subjects and their mental stability.
After almost two hours of digging through the same files he'd been staring at for nights, he gave up and went to Vidic's computer. He lead this damn operation, certainly he would have something.
By habit, Desmond checked Vidic's email first, and found an email from Lucy that he hadn't seen in her outbox or deleted folder.
Subject: Subject No. 16
I've finished my report on Subject Sixteen. You should take a look when you have some time as I believe it validates my belief that we need to be treating them with greater care. Failure to do so will only result in further breakdowns.
I'll summarize things for now since I realize you're probably pretty busy. Prolonged exposure to the Animus cause a "Bleeding Effect" within Subject Sixteen's genetic structure. The result was a blending of genetic and real-time memory. He became unable to distinguish his own life from those of his ancestors, as witnessed by the incident in his room.
I believe this effect is very similar to certain forms of multiple personality and delusional disorders. People who claim to be experiencing past lives or the presence of other minds within their own are quite possibly experiencing a naturally occurring version of this Bleeding Effect. Though the specific symptoms may vary from subject to subject, the end result is the same: they lose their minds.
This is what I believe happened to Subject Sixteen. One of his ancestors seems to have been involved in an important event in the ancient Far East. The wall writings he left us defy any conventional explanation, though I'm not ready to dismiss them just yet. Per your request, I've asked for a linguist and historian to research them further in case there is some significance. I'll let you know if they come back to us with anything.
I'll get you a full copy of the report so that you can review my findings when you have the time. I know this is not that important to you Warren, but it would mean a lot to me if you'd just take a look and think about it. We don't need to push them so hard. We don't need to kill them. From a purely practical perspective, there's no point in destroying the subjects anyway. Once they're dead, their knowledge is lost to us forever. And we both know how dangerous that can be.
Thanks for your time!
A "Bleeding Effect". Where historical memories mingled with the Subject. Desmond leaned forward, burying his head into his hands, letting the information roll around in his mind.
He was going to go slowly insane. Christ. He already was going insane! He'd lose who he was to Altair. Hell, maybe he should because Altair at least would know how to kill these Templar bastards. But how long? What did they do to Subject Sixteen that lead to this Bleeding Effect and the insanity? And what the hell did that have to do with Altair seeing what wasn't there?
Desmond heard an eagle's cry deep in his mind and out of an instinct that Altair had honed to perfection, he focused on the sharp vision of an eagle and reached for that part of his mind and...
Desmond saw the glowing red again. Standing he looked around, saw the codes and pictures. He let go of the eagle, sending thanks for the assistance, and the room returned to looking as it always had.
Reach for the Eagle's Vision and the room shined with red letters, let go of the eagle and it was back to normal.
Ignoring the possibility of insanity, Desmond couldn't quite help uttering, "Cool..."
He reached for the eagle again and started studying the pictures and messages again, trying to remember all the conspiracies he'd heard of and how they might connect to whatever these messages meant. Desmond worked hard to stay off the grid after all, and that led him to a few conspiracy websites to get information that he needed to stay hidden. He had never paid much attention, only a passing glance as he got what he needed before going back to his solitary life. Now he wished he looked more.
The Nazca lines had a conspiracy about aliens. Something about how they were only visible as animals from the air and flight was only a century old. Egypt, similarly, had a ton of theories, some about aliens, some about actual historical Egyptology, to say nothing of the curse of the Mummy, though Desmond doubted that was relevant. Japan had it's own mysticism stuff that Desmond never looked at, but these seemed to reference places more than the conspiracies behind them.
Desmond rubbed the back of his head, getting tired from continuously looking at the symbols and pictures, trying to figure things out without enough information or even the ability to go online to look up references.
Dinner eventually came, startling Desmond out of his Eagle Vision, but that was fine. The food helped his headache and he was just grateful to actually be able to eat. And the meal had all the earmarks of Lucy's interference. For starters it was a hot meal, some actual protein, and was just damn good. Desmond wasn't sure when he'd get a chance to eat something like this again, but that didn't matter worth a damn to being able to have a good meal.
He left the tray, since usually Lucy would take care of it but she wasn't there, and it wasn't like Desmond could leave and handle it himself, so he went to his room, intent on a shower and then bed to try and think about how to use this Eagle Vision for escape, the codes and pictures all around the lab, and avoid thinking about his impending insanity.
Walking into his room, an eagle screeched in his mind and Desmond switched to Eagle Vision on Altair's reflex.
"Oh my god..."
There was more... More writing... All along the wall behind his bed.
We are all books containing thousands of pages and within each of them lies an IRREPARABLE truth
I've entered the Abyss and never returned
Within Emperor Jiajang's sin and
Quetzcoaltz's Hunger lies the Answers
The Omega symbol, lots of Chinese (Japanese?) characters, Arabic that Desmond could suddenly read (Al Zalzala: Armageddon), a mathematical formula (Zm = Zn^z + C), strange mix of numbers (.0 and 22:13), none of these made sense.
But centered right above his headboard, was a butterfly. Sort of. But it reminded Desmond of a butterfly and given all the conspiracy writings, the Butterfly Effect came to mind.
Butterfly Effect. Bleeding Effect.
Desmond looked at the glowing red and looked not at the symbols and words it created, but rather the red itself. It looked like... Was that... blood?
Who the hell were they keeping there before Desmond? What the hell happened to him? What did this all mean? Why did his predecessor write all over the lab and his room in his own blood?
And then Desmond remembered his dreams.
Author's Notes: le Gasp, oh, no a cliffhanger! Like this shocks anyone who's played the game.
It as tempting to explain all the little conspiracies surrounding the symbols in Desmond's lab, but there's no way he could know all of it - it was kind of a stretch for him to know what he did. Partly because he's lied a sheltered life on the farm with a not-standard education, but also because Desmond reads as not particularly bright (sorry Des-fans, but it's true in our opinion). He has a sharper learning curve - especially compared to someone as educated as Altair or even Ezio (we say "even" because we're under the distinct impression Ezio didn't pay much attention to his education as a kid...). And so we left some of the symbols a mystery, and let you all figure out what they are.
And... that is Rikken, right? At the end?
And so AC1 is now closed, and reviewers (all three of you) are already asking about doing sequels for AC2. For the record that game presents a whole string of challenges because some memory sequences span years, or there are entire gaps from one memory to the next. There's also Desmond, of course, and figuring out just how long he and the others are stuck in that warehouse, blah blah whine whine. Having said all that, we've decided to do it. So yes, there will be an AC2 Novelization in the horizon.
In light of that, please keep in mind it's the school year and we're both substitutes, there's not a lot of time to do the kind of intensive writing a game novelization takes (as we learned the hard way). We'll likely start that project in the summer, so heaven knows when it will come out here on ff . net. But rest assured it IS coming.