Hello there! Feel free to skip ahead to the actual story, but here are the details:
Setting: Desmond's era during the beginning of AC3. The other Assassins aren't from any specific points in their timelines; probably pre-Revelations Ezio, post AC1 Altaïr, and young Connor.
Genre: General/Humor. If you were expecting heavy angst/drama/romance/crime, then look somewhere else. This is meant to be relatively light and amusing, with a simple plot and no antagonist. Will mostly focus on character interactions and discussions. It'll touch on different genres depending on the chapter, but those'll be chapter-contained. (edit: Reviewer asked, so I'll answer: No pairings)
Warnings: Not many. Language, occasional violence, an innuendo now and then; the usual Assassin's Creed stuff. Rated T mostly for the language.
One more thing: I am really looking forward to writing this, (I actually have this one outlined and everything!) but I am not a fast writer. Chapter 2 is open and started on my computer right now, but I don't have much free time (currently procrastinating from a research paper). Writing's fun but it takes foreeeeever. I was going to wait until the next few chapters were completed before posting, but maybe this will motivate me more.
And so, here you have it:
First: A Malfunction
"Very well, I'll train you. Then we'll know if you've the right to wear those robes."
Yes! Desmond thought to himself, silently cheering for his ancestor from his spot in the Animus. He was sure the old man was going to be stubborn and refuse, though the young Assassin couldn't blame him; he would be just as hesitant if someone intruded upon his peaceful abode and demanded training, 18th Century Native American or otherwise.
He could feel the relief and excitement from fourteen-year-old Ratonhnhaké:ton as he followed Achilles out of the room. Desmond was impressed with his ability to keep it suppressed, replying only with a humble, "Thank you, sir."
They went off to tour the rest of the house and probably to begin training, but their observer stayed behind. He sensed that the highlights of the day had already passed, and he sure didn't need to go through basic training yet again. The world dissolved around him as the memory slipped away, his senses clearing as if he had floated into cloud, residual information being just enough to remind him that he was even still there.
Pressure returned to his feet, the simulated ground forming as he was rerouted to the Animus desktop. The white surroundings darkened slightly and shattered, the mirror-like fragments showing Desmond in his own clothes. It took some getting used to, with the new color and semi-reflective 'walls'—if they could even be called walls—but it was the same old Animus that he was used to.
"Well, look at this: Taking initiative to care for yourself, are we now, Desmond? Now you can stop your memories like a big boy!"
Rolling his eyes even though no one could see him, Desmond replied, in his worst British accent, "Now there's a voice I want to hear when I need to kill my good mood! Thanks for that, mate."
Shaun snickered. "Maybe you should go back to being Haytham. Then you might learn something about being English."
"He's not even out of the Animus and you're still fighting?" Rebecca's voice cut in, as amused as she was irate. "Save it for something important. What are you going to do now, Des?"
Hands nestled in his pockets, the former bartender rocked back and forth on his feet. "Can you skip forward to the next major memory? I don't want to go through the basics again, and he'll be learning them for at least a few months."
Silence. "Uh, yeah, sure. I'll…see what I can do."
He came to a standstill. "Should that hesitation make me worried?"
"Oh no, it's nothing."
"Am I going to have to rely on another failsafe?"
"No, it's fine." He heard her start typing, a bit slower than usual, before she explained. "When we skip ahead through memories, we can't know exactly what we're looking for. Like right now: Do you know what the next major event in your ancestor's life is?"
Desmond gave the desktop sky a confused look, even though Rebecca's voice came from all around him. "I guess not, but why are you telling me this now?"
"It takes a lot out of the Animus to skim through memory sequences to find something 'extraordinary,' rather than a specific memory at a set time. The last jump we did was what, nine years or so? That must have taken a lot of power, and remember what Shaun said last time you were with the world of the living?"
"Something about batteries, right?"
"Oh, good job Desmond!" Shaun cut in with his snide, sarcastic tone. "You're surprising us all with your skills today!"
"Shut the hell up and tell me what's going on out there!" he growled, beginning a brisk walk in some direction to ease the growing anxiety.
"Fine," the Brit huffed. "I said that the Temple is being powered by the battery you found on our way in here, but batteries run out of juice. We will need another to keep the lights on and, more importantly, the Animus running."
"So you're worried about how much power is left for the memory jump," Desmond concluded. "You could have just said that."
Rebecca stopped typing for a moment. "So you still want to go through with this, Des?"
"Yeah, sure. Just pull me out if it's going to die, 'kay? I don't want to risk getting deleted."
The typing dulled to background noise as the Assassin continued his stroll through the white landscape. It was interesting in a thought-provoking, philosophical way, but he wasn't exactly seeing any sights. Feeling boredom creeping up on him, Desmond stopped at the first interesting arrangement of the mirror-like triangles he found.
What looked back at him from various angles was an odd, fractured reflection of himself. His dark eyes watched him from one piece that drifted along at head level. Six others that were somewhat aligned held the image of the rest of his body. He had gotten used to the strange dismemberment, but it still gave him some childish enjoyment to watch his hand float free without an arm.
A quick sound of static rang through the Animus, instantly shifting the mirrors around. Brown amidst the pristine desktop color caught his eye. Turning to the right, Desmond saw Ratonhnhaké:ton partly reflected in the mirror shards.
The young Assassin hadn't felt the tingle on his skin that informed him of a new memory. He checked anyway, but he was still in his hoodie and jeans. "Hm," he wondered out loud. "Must be working."
He went back to watching the image of his ancestor, waving his hand and throwing some punches for effect. Ratonhnhaké:ton looked too old for being in his mid teens, though Desmond thought it was his weathered tan skin and serious face that gave that impression. He studied him for a minute longer before another clap of static rang through his ears, followed by a third.
Ratonhnhaké:ton was again on his right, having shifted with the Animus' landscape. However, Desmond wasn't paying any more attention to that mirage.
If front of him, held in several new polished shards, were Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad.
"The hell?" the young Assassin mumbled in surprise, taking a step towards them. His elder ancestors mimicked his actions like Ratonhnhaké:ton had, but it still did not explain why they had appeared; he hadn't gone near their memories in a long time.
Altaïr and Ezio had the same confused expression as Desmond, eyebrow slightly raised in a perplexed fashion and observant eyes watching from behind the glass. It made some sense to the bartender that Ratonhnhaké:ton could show up, since the Animus was searching through his lifetime for the next memory, but the others? He wasn't a genius in any sense if the word, but because it had never happened before, Desmond didn't think it should be happening now.
"Uh, guys?" he called out, watching three other men say the same thing. He could have sworn he heard their voices, but it was probably all in his head. "What's going on out there?"
"Wow," Shaun responded, his ever-present sarcasm noticeably subdued. "You never show concern for our end of the job. This whole thing is strange…. Oh no."
Another bout of static cracked through the Animus. The desktop color dimmed from off-white to dark gray. Desmond whipped around on reflex, his ancestors doing the same, though he doubted he would be able to see the problem.
Shaun's shout of "Rebecca!" rang through the space just before a warning buzzer sounded. Panicking, Desmond began to manually exit the machine, focusing on the outside world and leaving his ties to his genetic memory behind. It was harder than he remembered, like something was weighing him down. His fear increased for a second before Rebecca pulled him out of the program, alleviating the strain on his mind as his vision faded to black.
He was back in the Grand Temple, its cool, dank scent heavy in the air. He was lying with his eyes closed on that oh-so-familiar chair, which, it sounded to Desmond, was whirring as it powered down. Rebecca was at one of the computer terminals, muttering in distress, "No, Baby, don't be like this…."
Sitting up with a groan, Desmond rubbed his eyes out of habit. It was quiet except for the clicking of keyboards. Whatever the problem was, he didn't bother asking; while he was mentally alert, he was physically lethargic from inactivity. Still, his limbs felt as if they were not as responsive as usual, and something was bothering him in the corner of his mind. Massaging the back of his head, he finally blinked open his eyes to stare at his jeans.
"Look on the bright side, Rebecca," Desmond heard Shaun say off to the side. "At least Desmond isn't in a coma this time."
Footsteps came up to the Animus. "You are okay, right Desmond?" asked William, his voice mixed with worry, annoyance, and something else that his son couldn't make out.
Swinging his legs over the side, he answered, "Yeah, Dad, I'm fine."
Desmond froze. That voice—no, those voices. He heard more than one, but he was sure that no one in the room had said anythi—
What is going on here?
Beginning to freak out, he slid off the chair to stand on the floor, instantly regretting it. His legs went numb, a cold, prickling feeling under his skin that rendered them useless. The bartender yelped in surprise as he fell forward, but William caught him before his face could meet the stone floor. Again. "Really Desmond?" William sighed.
"Legs fell asleep, 's all," he slurred quickly, righting himself with a hand on his head. The voices kept mumbling with the occasional shout, but he couldn't deal with it there; the others would think he had finally lost it. He might have, but he wanted to come to that conclusion on his own first. "Just need to stretch a bit."
He started to jog away, his destination being as far away as possible. "Come back soon!" Shaun called after him. "You'll need to get another battery for us!"
The Assassin broke into a run, feet landing heavy on the hard ground. His skin was beginning to prickle in various places, but he ignored it, concentrating on his path. The voices sounded like they had quieted down, but he wasn't listening. He wasn't sure if it was Juno, or some kind of Bleeding Effect messing with his head, or what, but he was going to get answers.
As soon as Desmond was sure he was well out of shouting distance, he ducked through the nearest doorway. It led to a small rectangular room, a little over ten feet on each side. Being made of stone, it was not luxurious in the slightest, but he sat against one of the walls, lacing his fingers through his short hair.
Immediately the voices started up again, but one stood out louder than the others. Now listen to me, Sorcerer, I want answers, and you will give them to me! Desmond thought his accent was American at first, but it sounded like there was something more. Who are you, where are we, and what have you done to me?
Done to you? Another voice picked up, just as annoyed and irritated as the first. He has done the same to me! I have been trapped, unable to move, and yet I have been moving, my will stolen by someone else.
It was witchcraft, I tell you!
"Will you all just shut up for a minute?" yelled Desmond, throwing his hands out in a silencing motion. He couldn't believe he was arguing with voices in his head!
The two stopped speaking, but then a third voice groaned in discomfort. Could you not do that? he asked, his tone calm and even slightly lighthearted. It is strange to feel myself speak but know that it was not I who spoke.
Desmond paused, focusing on the man's accent: Italian. Wait, that voice…, he thought, believing it was private and unheard.
It wasn't. He could hear a grin in the man's voice. Bene, that feels much more natural. Grazie.
"You're Ezio." His hands fell to his lap, slowly fitting each piece into the puzzle.
He felt him—whatever he was—tense before slowly saying, Sì, I am. I cannot see your face, but I'm sure we have never met.
"Oh, I know you quite well."
Ezio Auditore? the second voice chimed in. Hearing him "speak," it was easy for Desmond to give the entity a name. The great Assassin? But you died over two hundred years before I was born!
"And Ratonhnhaké:ton too." He laughed, thinking he sounded a bit delusional. Leaning his head back against the cool wall, a humorless smile on his lips, he moaned, "Why did this have to happen to me? No wonder Clay went insane."
He could feel anger and annoyance from the youngest Assassin. Stop tormenting us! Ratonhnhaké:ton growled, making Desmond a bit nervous as he imagined the Native American's hard glare. Who are you?
Desmond chuckled, eyes distant. "That means that the other voice in there belongs to—"
The realization was cut off when his mouth and throat went numb, the words dying on his tongue. A cold feeling in the back of his head, like a small piece of ice, had wrapped around his neck. It dripped down his spine, leaving the frigid numbness to spread through his back and into every muscle, every cell of his being. He wanted to gasp or cry out or something, but he couldn't make a sound; he was frozen in place, unable to do anything but think about how uncomfortable that sensation was.
In reality, it was only a second or two before he was entirely numb. He tried not to think about how he was stuck there, and instead noticed that the Assassins in his head had been silenced.
His eyes glanced down to his arms, seemingly of their own accord. This startled Desmond, but not as much as when his left arm rose to his face.
Then his wrist flicked back, and he heard the shink of the blade sliding out of its gauntlet and the cool steel on his neck.
"Really, Sorcerer, you are such a novice at this," Altaïr said with Desmond's voice. "It is not wise to capture a Master Assassin by trapping him within your own body. That seems obvious."
Desmond tensed in cautious worry. At first, he tried to physically speak, but realized it was in vain and thought, Altaïr, please, if you kill me, then you kill all of us.
"You will give me answers I seek?"
The American mentally shuddered, realizing what Ezio had said was right: It was creepy to hear, to feel his voice being used by someone else. Yes, yes, I will. I was always going to anyway.
Without another word, Altaïr retracted Desmond's hidden blade and crossed his legs, sitting with his hands on his knees and eyes closed. It felt like a meditative position, though it could be the darkness that gave Desmond that idea.
A moment later, the cold stone of the room around them disappeared from his senses. Instead, he felt pressure return to his feet, like he was standing in the Animus desktop. Looking down, the Assassin felt some relief at seeing himself there, in a form that was fully under his command.
A short-lived smile on his face, he turned around to see the three other Assassins, each appearing as he imagined them: Altaïr and Ezio wore white-on-red robes, their clothes from some of his earliest memories of them, while Ratonhnhaké:ton had on the white-on-blue robe that was on display in Achilles' house. Desmond noticed that the Mohawk had added his own touches that expressed his heritage, as well as the fact that all three men seemed to have all of their weapons with them.
Finding no other explanation, Desmond said to the Syrian Assassin, "You brought us to some kind of mental world?"
"Indeed, and it is completely separated from the physical world." He could tell Altaïr was glaring at him from under his hood. "So if you wish to return to your body, I suggest you start talking, Sorcerer."
"I'm not a sorcerer," the American sighed, nesting his hands in the pocket of his hoodie. He noticed the other two seemed content with letting Altaïr do the talking; they were listening closely, ready to jump in at any time. "Ask away."
Not a second later, he demanded, "Are you a Templar?" The others nodded, indicating they wanted the same information.
Typical Assassins, Desmond mused with a smirk.
They must have seen his expression, because they all stiffened, ready to draw their weapons. Quickly he answered, "No, no, I'm not a Templar! I'm an Assassin like you."
The Master was still suspicious. "Where were you trained?"
"The United States."
"Never heard of it."
"Of course you haven't."
Desmond gulped at the scowl he got. "Why?"
"The whole continent wasn't even discovered during your time."
Altaïr paused, confused. "What do you mean by that?"
"Well, you lived during the Crusades, right?"
"To me, the Crusades were over eight hundred years ago."
That startled him. "What year is it?" he asked hurriedly.
"The two thousand and twelfth year after the birth of our dear baby Christ."
Silence. Desmond watched them mull over the news, knowing he would be surprised, too, if he were in their position.
Wanting to break the quiet, Ratonhnhaké:ton stepped forward, still trying to comprehend where he was. "You have yet to tell us what your name is, Sorcerer."
"I'm not a sorcerer," Desmond repeated. "The name's Miles. Desmond Miles."
"Well then, Desmond," the Mohawk said carefully, crossing his arms. Said Assassin grinned in mild amusement as they, of course, missed the reference. "What did you do to us and why? I am sure we all want to know the epic tale."
"First off," he started with a nod of his head for emphasis, "I did not do this on purpose; I'm just as surprised as you are."
"But you knew us already," Ezio pointed out. "Did we make it into some Assassin history book? Or have we eradicated the Templars, and our heroic deeds are sung around the world?"
Desmond sighed, rocking on his feet a bit. This was going to be a long explanation. "No, the Templars are still around. Those bastards nearly have control of the planet, while the Assassins are just trying to survive. On top of that, the world's gonna end in a few weeks, and I have to try to stop it."
Not even going to bother with that now, Ezio waved it off. "So how do you know us, Stregone? You have been avoiding this question."
"If you must know, Assassino," he added for the Italian, "You all are three of my ancestors, and I have been following your lives for a while."
Never had Desmond been so sure of anything in his life, but he decided then and there that he was never going to teach them how to play poker, especially Altaïr. They looked at him with blank expressions, perfect poker faces; he guessed they were trying and failing to understand what exactly his comment meant. It only took a few seconds before the Syrian Assassin sat down—with a mumbled, "Witchcraft," Desmond noticed—and the others followed.
Desmond cracked his knuckles and took a deep breath. "I'm no scientist—or sorcerer—but there's this true theory about 'genetic memory'…."
"…and while I will never win a prize for my technological skills, that's everything I've had to deal with for the past three months," the American finished, feeling a bit proud that he made it sound somewhat professional.
The three Assassins remained relatively placid throughout the explanation. Ratonhnhaké:ton looked a bit disturbed when Desmond went into detail about Abstergo, but the American couldn't figure out what the others were thinking.
"So, this…machine…," Altaïr said slowly, carefully enunciating the word, "taps into our memories as they were passed down through our descendants. You claim that you are related to us, and therefore know our lives most intimately centuries after we have died."
"Yeah, pretty much."
"And this Abstergo group," Ratonhnhaké:ton continued, "has control over or is influential in every major industry in the world at this point. The Assassins seem to be dwindling in numbers and power with each passing year."
"Is that why you brought us here, Desmond?" conjectured Ezio. "You require our assistance in redeeming the Assassin name?"
"Not quite. But first," the American said to the youngest member of their troupe, "yes, at this point, Abstergo is going to completely rule the world soon. Though it has its perks at times, this country has really changed for the worse since your time, Ratonhnhaké:ton."
Though Ratonhnhaké:ton tried to hide it, a worried gleam appeared in his eyes, but he perked up when he heard the last sentence. "Wait, we are still in my homeland?" he asked hopefully.
Desmond grinned. "Good ole 'Murica, the self-appointed great nation of the West! And before you ask, yes, we did win the war."
"You said many times," Altaïr interrupted, "that you did not bring us here, and yet we are all gathered together within your mind. How and why did this happen?"
The bartender shrugged. "I really don't know. I was in the Animus, reliving Ratonhnhaké:ton's memories, and then I think the Animus shut down or crashed or ejected me. I woke up with voices in my head, flipped out, and ran away before the others thought I was schizo."
A small frown appeared on Altaïr's lips. "That does not sound promising," he mused.
"'Others,' as in the woman and man back there?" inquired Ezio.
"Three." Desmond counted off on his fingers. "Rebecca, the only girl and the technician; my father, William; and a prick named Shaun. All Assassins. Speaking of which, Altaïr, how long have we been in here?"
"I am unsure of the method of tracking time in this era." The American thought the eldest Assassin only said that to annoy him.
"It hasn't changed much; trust me, I would know."
"Then I would say no less than three hours."
"Three hours!" Alarmed, Desmond sprung to his feet, intending to sprint back towards home base before realizing they were still in his head and settling for pacing instead. "Shit! I'm gonna need an explanation for being away so long…."
He again received identical blank looks from the Assassins. "Why not tell them the truth?" Ratonhnhaké:ton suggested. "They are allies, are they not?"
Beginning to get frustrated, Desmond sighed. "Yeah, but this will just complicate things. The Animus may be busted, the Temple's almost out of power, tensions are high between everyone, and we are in literally the only Templar-free place on the east coast. If I tell them about this, they will either try to use you to fight the Templars and the Apocalypse at once, experiment on me, or simply give up entirely." He absently rubbed the back of his neck and added, "Plus I'd never hear the end of this."
"I do not know, Stregone," countered the Italian with a wave of his hand, "the young one has a point. It may help us return to our own times and forms faster with more heads working through the problem."
"For all we know, this may fix itself the next time I'm in the Animus. Until we try that, I am not going to tell them anything about this, and neither are any of you." Desmond folded his arms over his chest as he stared at each man in turn, indicating the final decision has been made. To his relief, none of them argued. "Fantastic, it's been settled!" he cheered with mock enthusiasm. "We'll go back, turn on the Animus, and sort this out without letting the others know. You guys can just sit back and enjoy the ride for now."
With a grin, Ezio fell back with his hands clasped behind his head, lying on the black ground. "You heard him, Altaïr. Andiamo!"
The elder kept quiet, but after a second the darkness swallowed up the Assassins and the ground gave way under them. Mere moments later, Desmond found himself staring at his hands in his lap, back in the Temple. His body felt stiff and, more importantly, frigidly numb. Uh, Altaïr…? he prompted, his "voice" coming out as a clear thought.
"Know this, Desmond." The Syrian's cold, threatening tone underneath his stolen voice again made Desmond uneasy. "I will not blindly accept all that you have told us. Should I find that you lied at all, I will take control and torture your mind to insanity, locking you within your subconscious to wither away amidst your sins. Bring us harm and I can, and will, slit your throat. I will be watching your every step, so for all of our futures, I hope this will be a positive symbiotic relationship."
'Course, Altaïr, of course, the American replied somewhat nervously, b-but can you watch from the back seat? My ride means I drive.
A moment's hesitation later, (Probably just to scare me even more, he grumbled), warmth returned to his senses, and Desmond was able to stand and stretch. Blood flowing once again, he left the room and started jogging back to the front of the Temple, already feeling the beginnings of a migraine in the back of his overcrowded head.
Poor Desmond. He really does have a crappy life, and I didn't have to do much to make it worse. Oh Mr. Miles, just wait until I write chapter seven...
Now, my friend (my "unofficial beta" *coughcoughSonyacough*) never got back to me about this chapter, so this is entirely my work right now. I don't really like how Altaïr, Ezio, and Ratonhnhaké:ton (they'll start calling him Connor soon) kinda seem the same in this chapter, but I think it was the defensive Assassin instinct that made them so serious; now that they're all acquainted, they should relax and be more like themselves in the next chapter.
Speaking of next chapter, not sure when that'll get posted. Could be by the end of this year. Could be by the end of next year. And I also have one or two other stories on FFnet that I should work on. Hehe... sorry 'bout that. I blame this little game we all play called reality.