A/N: Hi, Hihazuki here! After being obsessed for so long with playing the Multiplayer aspect of the Assassin's Creed III game, and taking a particular interest in a certain blonde, I played around with the thought of making my own twist of his background story, since their history was never properly explained, anyway. Also, I could never know which version of the historical content portrayed is correct; Abstergo's or Erudito's. Erudito's version of his history seemed so...twisted and dark, somehow.
When I found out that Lady Maverick was his sister, I just had to put pen on paper. It just begs for a great story. Not that I would call my stories great, pfft. I originally wanted this to be a one-shot, however, it demands to be a two-shot, instead.
On a side note, I kind of wish that characters in the Multiplayer menu had their own available stories to play. It would do them justice, what with their awesome designs. It's probably just wishful thinking, but what if Ubisoft releases separate events in the future that deals with each of the characters exclusively?
Anyway, I hope you enjoy my poor attempt at writing historical fiction.
I would never forget the day when everything went wrong.
I came from a wealthy family of Scottish descent. We owned a thriving business at the time, a business we inherited from a long line of accredited McCarthy predecessors. The McCarthy Building Company was flourishing like never before, with buildings built on solid limestone that was exceptionally rare and technological advancements we took full advantage of. We were the only builders who were able to secure access to assets that were self-evidently robust, strong, and established. We had passion in our career of building, unlike most businesses in the seventeenth century. We cared not mainly for profit, but for bona fide quality, with a clear cost and benefit solution that perpetually yielded the best final cost for prospective customers. When word spread of our pertaining reliability and integrity, clients came from all around to appraise us.
I'd go as far as to say we were the most sought out company out there. Because of that, there was nothing we couldn't afford, but that didn't mean we were careless either. Scottish people weren't one of luxury. We knew better than to publicize our prosperity, which would only invite controversial resentment from other companies. They were already bitter enough; there was no need to add fuel to the fire.
Taking the story further, I was a relatively small family of four. My parents were, at most times, away from home, tending to their demanding schedules. I hardly remembered their faces until now. My older sister was the only one constantly with me.
Gillian McCarthy. That was her name. Now she has a different designation, but that's another story. She was born during the peak of our success in the market. Everyone called her a beautiful and charming baby, that she would grow up to be ravishing. True to their expectations, she carried that trait with her as she matured. She was confident, but none too brazen. She was shrewd and austere, and had high standards. Others noticed how driven she was, that she was not one to be messed with. The passion of a Scottish still ran in her blood. She was the one who would usually tuck me in at night when I was still barely a child, her brilliant viridescent eyes outwardly glowing in the dark, noticeably gentler than usual. It meant nothing to me now, but sometimes I couldn't help but have unpremeditated flashbacks of these moments.
She had a soft spot for me, I could say. She always treated me differently from everyone else, even our own parents. I can't describe how, but it just was.
By the time I was a little older and enough to comprehend the basis of commercial and business affairs, something started changing. From minuscule things, such as missing objects in the house. At first, I thought a form of larceny took place, but paid no heed to it. No need to think about petty things like that, I thought. Let the low-esteemed scum be so desperate to pillage our wealth. It will hardly have any impact on us, regardless.
I couldn't be more wrong. At dawn the next day, I was awoken by a hushed whispers outside of my room. I was a light sleeper, and it worked to my advantage to the present day. I crept out of bed and sneaked out the door, quietly pinpointing the source of the whispering.
"-should have known." At the end of the hallway, a tiny stream of light leaked out. Paying close attention to the weight of my feet, I lightly hopped over parts of the floor that looked a little creaky. "We're losing...and cash flow. They've...observing us..." I strained to listen against the door that was ajar. Peeking through, I could see the bare silhouette of my parents, hunched over on their couch. They were speaking so low, I was only able to pick up broken phrases and words.
Another garble of incoherent words before I could make out a few more. "-No...what about...him...she can't..." Me? What about me? What can't she do?
"That's why I called her here." My father's voice rose to a more solid level, barely loud enough, but better. "Gillian, come here."
A door out of my vantage point opened. A few seconds later, she came into view, her expression stony and unreadable. "Yes, father, mother."
"Come here, sweetheart," Mother beckoned for her to sit next her. "We need to talk."
She didn't budge. Mother sighed wearily as my father spoke. "You do understand the grave situation we are in, correct? It's imperative that your brother does not know of this. He is asleep, isn't he?"
My heart started pounding hard, so hard I was partially surprised they didn't hear it. Was she going to check? I can't go back now. She's closer to my room than I am. But what if I get found out? I have to hear this out. I need to know what exactly is going on. This was serious. Even more serious if it was something I wasn't allowed to hear. The atmosphere was suddenly so quiet that anything could happen at any given moment. I felt like being suffocated by the mere tension of it.
"Last I checked, he was perfectly sound asleep." I was about to exhale when another unsettling thing occurred. Breath hitched in my throat. I was paralyzed, stunned beyond disbelief.
She was staring right at me. "If I recall correctly, Father, prior to this hereditary meeting sub rosa, you told me this was going to be strictly confidential. So confidential I made sure of."
A million questions stumbled over each other in my head. Among them were the most obvious; how could she know I was there? And why didn't she give me out? Did she trust me to keep quiet? For what purpose?
Fortunately, Father didn't take notice the silent exchange that took place between us. "Then I suppose you are ready? We told you earlier about this. Anything can happen to us at any moment, and when it does, we expect you to be his shoulder to lean on."
"I will protect him even without you telling me, father. That I promise. He will carry on the family legacy." She answered, unfaltering. She wasn't facing me anymore, rather, turned her back towards me. I couldn't see her face, but I imagined it was nothing short of earnest.
I decided not to dwell on the information revealed, if it only gave way to more enigmas. I resolved to keep listening to what they had to say next.
"I trust you, my daughter. We will endow him into your care. One day he shall know about this, but now is not the time. Time is quickly running out. We don't have much time left. If ever we can't go on, we want to make sure you children will survive. And to survive you must. You are the eldest, Gillian. There is only the both of you, and your distant relatives will no longer acknowledge you." Mother paused, and her voice sounded of defeat. "We have been careless, and we would be willing to die a thousand times over if it meant you two would not bear the consequences of our actions. But even that is too unrealistic. The least we want of you is to move on and recover swiftly."
"Careless is a poorly disguised understatement of what you truly are." Gillian responded quietly, but the sourness was evident in her tone. "I assure you, I will not condescend to the likes of you. I will not give up so easily in which case you have done. This will only serve as a short blow for us. We will recover. And we won't need you anymore. We'll learn to live independently, detached from society, from those who disappoint us, from injudicious people like you who would deign to let fate run its course. Of course, I have done all you asked. I have never disappointed you. Don't think I will anytime soon. May I be excused now?" She sounded so uncharacteristically bitter. I was taken aback by her scorning response. What kind of animosity did she hold against them that made her so astringent?
Without another word, she whirled around and went out of my vantage point. I could hear the door slamming shut a few moments later, deliberately startling our parents out of their sudden stupor from her fairly placid outburst.
I rose, feeling nauseous about the entire thing already, and before I could turn around, I felt hands close around the collar of my neck and pull me into the shadows of the hallway. I let out a muffled yelp and was momentarily terrified until I was whirled around to face my positively livid sister.
"What, exactly, are you doing out of bed? How many times have I told you that you should be asleep by nine, and not out of bed until five? Why do you keep disobeying me?" She growled in a low voice.
"I...I had to go to the bathroom! Did you expect me to piss my pants? And don't treat me like a kid! I'm an adolescent now!" I whined petulantly.
"Not while I'm still here, midget. Ten's still a brat. Fancy words do nothing for you. You'd best gain seven more years before you can start talking back to me, when you've the guts to fend for yourself. For now, I suggest you do what I tell you to."
Before I could muster up another reply, she dragged me by the elbow down the hall, presumably to my room. "Enough. We'll talk more about this when the sun's up. I'll take you out to the market and talk about what you already know. Now I'm going to make sure you get enough sleep like good, proper little Scottish boys do."
The morning was dismally somber when we went out the next day. The sky was gray, clouds enormous and inflamed with dark smudges that blotted out the sun. Thunder rumbled in the distance every now and then, threatening to approach us. But that didn't stop the marketplace from being as busy with people as ever. The cobblestones reverberated with raging hooves as horses pulled carriages along.
Gillian was quiet as she led the way. She was usually a conserved and restrained individual, keeping more to herself than fraternizing with others, but this time it felt different, like there was a certain kind of depth to it. From the side, I could see her brooding contemplation. I knew better than to ask her about it then. I would eventually find out later, since this was what the trip out to the market was mainly about.
Mimicking her silence, I played with the thoughts that were barely discreet in my head. If thoughts could speak, it might as well be screeching right now. I was somehow intimidated by both my parents and sister, for separate reasons. Naturally, my parents for not trusting me enough to talk to me about it. Furthermore, them having to sneak behind my back and convene with my sister about affairs that I should also be informed of as a legitimate member of the family was irksome. And her, too, for being so overbearingly reticent about practically everything. Not only that, but her palpable display of anger to them was unjustifiable. Unless she gave me a good enough reason for that inexcusable behavior, I would be taking preventive measures of my own.
As we walked along, I couldn't help but notice people occasionally staring at us, some with contempt, some with pity, and impassive disinterest. I instantly hated each and every one of them. And I hated my parents for thrusting us into this pitiful circumstance. It was egocentric and held no room for apt justification, but without any cultivation, on what ground could I take other than my own assumptions? This was why I was greatly hoping to have cleared things up with her, who was still mulling over her own invisible fears a few feet ahead of me.
We kept walking until we delved into the middle of the bustling market, but she still showed no signs of stopping. My curiosity grew every second. Where are we headed?
Ahead, flocks of seagulls swarmed, chirping growing louder as the noise of the crowd dispersed. Bells of loaded cargo ships preparing to embark sounded, and for an instant a wild thought attacked me; we were going to the dock to board one of them. But then she stopped, near the edge of the ocean, a little ways away from the dock, the exact point of equilibrium where noise from both sides were subdued. Only the lapping of the waves overrun everything else.
The ocean wasn't like anything I've ever seen before. Waves overlapped each other in a slow but consistent rhythm, which had me slightly mesmerized. The sun's rays shone down on the water, causing the ripples to glisten like gems. It wasn't until she called me to sit beside her did I snap myself out of my sudden reverie. As I rushed over to sit and dangle my feet over the edge, I couldn't help thinking why I couldn't be out more often, and that it took me ten years to recognize the beauty of my own hometown.
She stared out at the ocean, eyes carefully masked to look blank. To the common eye, she would be completely expressionless. But as I looked closer, I noticed they were glassy. Or was it just the ocean reflecting on them? She would occasionally blink, her long dark lashes contrasting flawlessly with her white skin, brushing against them as she opened them again. A cool breeze cascaded over us, gently caressing her golden auburn locks. Even when her red lips were etched in a frown that caused delicate crease lines to form around her mouth, but she was still stunning. I could definitely see why people found her attractive. She could undeniably be anything she wanted with that kind of beauty.
"So, where should I start." She started suddenly, breaking the silence I wasn't aware became a little off-putting. "Oh, right. Our financial affairs. So, putting it in the simplest way possible, we're losing money. We're going bankrupt. Our parents put in a lot of bad investments and the stocks are buying against us. We're losing manpower and resource. You know how illegal logging and mining is burgeoning at an accelerated rate now, and the hierarchy fails to do anything about it? We are losing our business to thieves, to treacherous bastards who care for profit, and only profit. Even our parents have succumbed to it in the end, otherwise this bankruptcy would have never happened in the first place." She held my gaze with razor sharp eyes, and it took every fibre of my being to not look away; there was just something dark and sinister in her eyes. "So the point being, don't judge me. I have my reasons to act the way I am to our parents. You must be thinking something along that line when you saw me with them the other day, am I right? Soon, when you're older and able to make your own decisions, you will see the light in my reasoning."
My head churned as I tried to take in this new information. It was hard to digest when she was talking so fast. "So...they became greedy?"
"Exactly," She nodded with a grim smile. "In the end, it all comes down to money. We can't live without money; that's the way of life. Even if it is morally wrong, it's only understandable why companies are always so willing to sacrifice anything for profit. They need money to survive. That's the basic rule in life. That's why I decided—"
"Move yer fat carcasses! Out of the way!" Loud voices broke the tranquil silence from afar, where the crowd made a huge fuss as they were forcefully shoved by a couple of scruffy looking men, hands holding firearms, waving them threateningly while cursing and yelling all the way. The person in front of the ragged line –who I assumed was their leader of ragtags— barked at his followers. "Find those filthy McCarthy kids! We'll get every single penny the damn family owes us!"
"Curses! They're onto us already!" Gillian hissed in alarm and leaped to her feet, tugging me harshly up with her. "Quickly, follow me. Whatever happens, don't panic! We have to be quiet, blend in with the crowd." She glanced with her peripheral vision and spotted a crowd of people standing near them, staring at the ruckus made by the thugs. "Just our luck. Over there, come on!"
"Wait! What about Mother and Father?" I cried out. If it meant that they were looking for us now, something must have happened to them. And judging from her abrupt change in expression, she very well knew why.
"...We have no time to think about them right now! Our—...no, your safety is the utmost priority right now!" Her sentence had a certain finality to it, and evidently wasn't open to any more objections. Since we were currently in a predicament, I let her get away with it for now. But she's wrong if she thinks she got away with it utterly. She will finish explaining when the condition is pacified. I've had enough of being treated like a little kid.
I followed as she effortlessly mingled in with the crowd. In that instant, I both envied and adored her uncanny abilities to adapt to any kind of situation. The unwanted feeling vanished as soon as it came; the severity of the situation striking a bell in my mind. I struggled to squeeze myself through the packed crowd, almost losing sight of my sister. Honestly, she could at least hold back a little for me.
When I caught up to her, she held a finger up to her lips as the rowdy voices of the thugs grew closer. I couldn't help but purse my lips to steady the slight chatter of my teeth. I admit; I was scared. What if they found us out? If that happened, what if I couldn't escape in time? What would happen to me, then? Would they kill me?
Their eagle eyes scanned the people closely knit around us quickly, as if they didn't have time to look for us properly. Their sinister presence alone worked to our advantage; the crowd eased away from them and bunched tighter around us. I was relieved, even though the lack of air was a little suffocating.
After a few seconds, the leader sniffed. "The scoundrels. I'll get 'em hides for sure. C'mon, boys!" He gestured to his followers as they ran to the docks.
I nearly jumped as a hand clenched my wrist. Fortunately, it was my sister, gone back to my side. "It's not safe here. We should get going now."
"Where are we going to go? Back home?"
"No," She kept her gaze straight to the front as she pulled me along. "It's too dangerous. We're going to hide for awhile."
"If you say it's dangerous, then..." My eyes widened in fear of the revelation that finally dawned on me, and my voice rose without me realizing it. "That means...father and mother...they..."
Gillian whipped her head back to glare at me in warning, but it was too late. A nanosecond later, a bullet planted itself dangerously near my head, to an apple stand right beside me. I froze in horror.
"There they are! Get 'em, boys!" The dreaded voice howled, and several triumphant cries followed.
"Shit!" She cursed for the second time that day as she ran, forcing me out of my paralysis. We shoved through the crowds that they previously did, and they were nothing short of angry. Foul words were thrown about as we forged on. Some of the bigger men in the crowd tried to grab us out of fury but my sister swatted them away like they were flies. Really, how strong was she?
We kept running, and her strides were still long and consistent. In the meantime, I was already gasping for breath, and my chest hurt every time my foot touched the ground.
A thug hooted as he managed to get closer, almost within arm's length. I was the closest. He was going to get me! "Gill!" I wailed, trying to pump more adrenaline into my already numb legs. "No!"
"Ck!" She lifted the hem of her skirt and pulled out something shiny. I didn't have time to wonder what it was because my eyes were already blurry from pooling tears. "Don't even think about touching him!"
The shiny thing flew from her hands and darted straight to the pursuing man. It hit him squarely on the thigh. He screamed in agony as he broke pursuit, and promptly rolling to the ground, drowning in the panicking mob of people around us. It was a wonder in itself how she didn't miss and hit an innocent pedestrian instead.
Too many things happened today, and it made me dizzy beyond belief. I could no longer feel my surroundings and her steel grip on my limp arm was the only thing that kept me going. But I have to hold on. Our lives were at stake.
She turned a corner into a narrow, dark alley and before I knew it, I was heaved up like a sack of flour and flung over her shoulder. I was too tired to feel surprised, and felt relief instead that I no longer had to force myself to go on. I absentmindedly watched as she charged up stacks of barrels and boxes and jump onto poles and window shelves. It all seemed like a fantasy, like experiencing a live action thriller. Losing my numbness and having fatigue invading every corner of my body, I couldn't take it anymore. I let myself be engulfed by darkness.