Smuggler's Redemption: Chapter 1: The Eagle and his prey

Ezio Auditore da Firenze scanned the bustling city streets of Rome with a keen interest. From his place atop a roof he had a good view of the portion of the city laid out before him, his sharp eyes able to identify each and every passerby in his search for his target.

According to the man he had gained the assignment from, his wife had been threatened by a cloaked figure sporting a hidden blade like his assassins for refusing to close her store after the Borgia declared jurisdiction in the area it had been situated in. The woman had said that she would kill her if she did not close her store. Ezio had agreed to take care of the couple's problem for them, and to send a message to the Borgia that their assassins would not last now that he and his order had come to Rome.

Finally, Ezio spotted a figure who matched the man's description: a taller woman with a green hooded cape with mostly white clothing complete with brown boots, gloves, and a corset. And indeed, she had a hidden blade drawn, prepared to kill another innocent victim…

Ezio leaped down and towards his target with the superhuman agility and speed he had become legendary for. His target spotted him and abandoned her kill, sprinting away as quickly as she could. Not to be dissuaded so easily, Ezio gave chase, all the while feeling just a bit distasteful at the prospect of killing a woman. True, she was a Templar, and also a smuggler from what information he had gathered on her, but there was still a dirty feeling that came with the prospect. He always had been a sucker for a pretty face, and age it seemed had done little to change that…

"Stop chasing me!" The Smuggler shouted. "Figlio di troia! Who sent you?"

Ezio did not respond as he kept up his chase. The Smuggler scaled a rooftop with the same speed as any one of his apprentices, and began sprinting across them when she saw that Ezio still gave chase. She would not escape him. No Templar ever did.

She leaped across another rooftop. Ezio was silently impressed with how much speed and agility she possessed. She had certainly put up far more of a chase then the Footpad Lanz had.

But even she only had so much stamina. As their chase continued into another district and then into the alleyways, Ezio could see clearly that his prey was finally tiring. Growing weaker. In time, she would slow down too much and he would close in for the kill.

Finally, they made their way through another alley, and the Smuggler became fatally slow, as well as clumsy. One misstep and she went tripping over a broken crate and tumbled.

"Merda!" The Smuggler shouted angrily.

Such un-ladylike language Ezio thought as he closed in. With a snap, out came his signature hidden blade…

Ezio had to jump back at the last minute as the Smuggler lashed out with her own hidden blade. Ah yes. He had forgotten about that one little detail about her. The hidden blade. No doubt she had acquired that from an assassin…

Taking advantage of Ezio's brief back-step, the Smuggler sprinted forward again. But Ezio was now right on top of her. Soon he came lunging in with his hidden blade. The Smuggler whipped around and met Ezio's blade with her own. The impact made a crude clanging sound, as the hidden blade was not meant to trade blows in such a way. Reeling back a bit, Ezio lunged forward again, forcing the Smuggler back. With his other hand he drew his sword, and with a single fluid thrust jammed it into the Smuggle's cloak, pinning her against the wall. Ezio then readied his hidden blade for the kill…

The Smuggler looked up and he could see her face past her hood. She looked young for her age, with full cheeks and short black hair. She reminds Ezio of Rosa somewhat, and he again found himself left with a bitter taste in his mouth at the thought of slaying someone so beautiful…

He steeled past it as the Smuggler shouted at him angrily: "Why do you do this to me? I have done nothing wrong!"

"You lie. You have killed, and threatened to kill again. For this you must be punished"

"I haven't killed! I never killed! That shop-owner would have been my first one!"

"Then how did you acquire that hidden blade that you use?" Ezio asked angrily. In the back of his mind he chastised himself for continuing this conversation with his target. Really he should have finished her by now.

"I did not kill an assassin…I am a Smuggler. I deal in rare and hard-to-find things. This hidden blade was one such item. I decided that it would look better on me…"

Ezio snorted in contempt. A Templar using a hidden blade was the closest thing he could call to sacrilegious. He prepared to make the fatal lunge with his own. Seeing this, the Smuggler became pleading.

"No please don't! I told you, I never killed anyone! Please! Let me go!"

Ezio held pause. Any other one of his targets would have been long dead by now, but this one had apparently not killed. He of course, had no way to take her at her word, and at any rate, the life of an Assassin was not one of mercy. They stayed their blade from the flesh of the innocent but no one else. As a Templar, this woman was subject to death, killer or no.

And yet again he found himself unnerved by the woman's beauty and also her resemblance to Rosa. He criticized himself for his extremely unprofessional thinking. He could not spare someone wicked simply because of their looks. But was this one really wicked? Again, he had no way of knowing for sure…

Ezio lunged forward and the Smuggler screamed. But then she opened her eyes and found the Hidden Blade jammed in the side of the wall, mere inches from her head.

"Disappear" Ezio replied bluntly. "Sever all your ties with the Borgia family and the Templar order, and do not ever let me see you again. And if I learn that you have killed, you will die. Understood?"

The Smuggler stared at him shell-shocked for a moment before nodding. Then, in another lightning-like motion, Ezio scaled up a nearby building and disappeared, leaving the terrified Smuggler alone.

Author's Note: And that's the end of part 1. And no, I am not a chauvinist or a misogynist, but I had to think of some way to keep the Smuggler alive, and this way seemed like it fit Ezio's character somewhat. He is, after all, a known lady's man and sucker for a pretty face…