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On The Neglected Assassini
They looked away. I didn’t. I was watching when the random sequence of images went through. Cesare, the apple, Minerva and other pictures flew across the screen. Desmond was thus the only other who saw them.
Of course, they had actual jobs to do, I didn’t.
Abstergo had kidnapped me a couple days ago. I was part of the group they were trying to train to hunt down Desmond. At the beginning of my time in an Animus, I had done what the others had. I’d trained, and been very good at it. I acquired the skills quickly. Then, I started to hold back and do more exploring then training. I would deter someone who was chasing me, as they got in my way of investigating the virtual world, but I didn’t actively hunt or flee the others.
Sensing something was up, Abstergo pitted me against the best trainee there. No, I don’t know who it was, and I’m sure he did not know who I was. Regardless I was too occupied with them to search so I turned my attention to defeating them. Here I was frustrated; if I won, I would most likely be expelled from the animus, but I could not continue my search if I was dead. For the past few rounds, I had following a blue trail through the Animus’s reality. I just knew it would lead to something odd. After all, it was the only blue in a population of red.
I came to the conclusion I would have naturally rejected. Even in my normal life, I hated losing. I did it anyway.
“Why are you surrendering?” my opponent’s avatar’s, La Volpe’s, trail contradicted his. He was neutral, tainted slightly red, and La Volpe’s was blue. But it wasn’t the same blue of the mysterious one I had found earlier. La Volpe’s was faint, nearly transparent, an echo of what the real La Volpe was.
“Why aren’t you?” I was the cortisone, but the voice I heard was my own.
“I want to win.”
“What do you mean? You’re my opponent in this round so I want to beat you.” I could hear his certainty slipping.
“I’m not the one who kidnapped you. I’m on your side.”
“But you won’t kill me if I fight you.”
“Neither will they! They trained us to be fighters, people who can defend themselves and slay their enemies. They want to fight fire with fire. They trained us to be…” I paused, searching for the right word.
“More than that… assassins.” The word clicked and his eyes met mine. The image of La Volpe flickered, and then faded, leaving a boy of about seventeen. I knew without looking I was again a fourteen-year-old girl.
That was when I saw it, the rich blue signature at the corner of my vision. I spun, grabbing onto it as it fled. I closed my eyes tightly as it hauled me out of the virtual area I generally traversed.
Suddenly it stopped and shook me gently from it. I opened my eyes. It looked much like the place I had left. Again, I was in renaissance Italy. I could see a man being beaten by some soldiers. The soldiers had trails the same pigment as their uniforms.
“Hey! Dude!” I shouted as I advanced to them, my hand moving to my belt. I smirked at the men as the reassuring shape of my saber’s hilt met my hand. “You can’t just kill some random guy!”
One of them turned to me and his fellows halted their assault, “The Borgia have reason enough to kill a rebellious man.” He sneered in what he thought was a threatening way, “Or woman, even one dressed so oddly.” I could understand that last comment; skinny jeans, a black t-shirt and a corduroy jacket weren’t the ‘norm’ back then.
“Right dude, like I care.”
“What does ‘dude’ mean?” a guard on the right flank whispered to his neighbor.
That was when I drew my weapon. The leader fell in seconds and I moved in on the second, the third and finally the fourth. My fellow rebel finished off the fifth and final. I extended my hand for a high-five. He stared at me blankly.
“High-five.” He didn’t do anything, “Come on dude! You can’t tell me you don’t know how to high-five!”
A woman’s voice echoed from somewhere, “Did she say dude?”
I decided to ignore whoever it was, “See you take your hand, “ I moved it into position, “And you hit my hand like this.” I demonstrated. He was looking at me like I had just confided I painted my lawn purple, white and yellow.
That was when Ezio had shown up, “Miss, what are you doing?” I turned and froze. Abstergo had shown us photos Desmond many times, and he looked exactly like that man.
“Are you all right?” he inquired.
“Desmond?” I switched visions. He was very blue. Then the surroundings fell to shards.
A British man’s voice exclaimed, “S***.”
Reality shattered. We were standing in a grey room. But Desmond was now dressed in modern clothes and missing his beard.
“I’m not going to kill you.” I had to tell him ok?
“Abstergo’s been trying to train me to kill you. But I won’t do it.”
“Abstergo has been training you to kill me?”
I could feel people from the real world trying to drag me back, “Yes, but I’m not going to do it. You’re blue. You are on my side.”
The last thing I saw was Desmond’s shocked expression.
My greeting upon forced arrival was not pleasant. The man in the lab coat yelled and I shouted back. Eventually some guards came after me. As I fled I was given an extensive bruising. But I was ok with that as long as I made it out before the Abstergo employees with guns showed up. I clambered up the wall, trying to get to the window, the first gunshot rang out and I fell as my shoulder exploded in pain.
Then things started getting really strange. As the ground hurtled toward me, I twisted, changed visions and reached out instinctively. I caught something and hauled up, my left arm screaming. There was a black rift. Desperate, I scrambled through. I was in a ghost realm, similar to where I had met Desmond in full form.
But there was the blue trail. I took off. The trail ended at another crack in reality. I clambered through.
Back in the real world, I followed the blue trail. It involved a fair amount of pain, but I had little choice. If Abstergo found me I’d be in even more agony. The trail led me to the ruins of some mansion. Eventually I reached a large chamber with four bright signatures in it. As I approached, I could hear them talking.
“I think I’ve secured the Animus so Desmond won’t have any more run-ins with Abstergo trai-“
“Hi.” They whirled around, I tried to look as unthreatening as possible. It didn’t work and I had to dart out of the way of a throwing knife.
“Lucy wait!” Desmond shouted.
The blonde, apparently Lucy, snapped, “Why?”
“She’s blue.” Hmm… I guess I’m not the only one with that ability. Lucy seemed to accept that.
The british man spoke, “Who are you?”
“My name is Alice, Alice Katrina Voltagio.”
Naturally, they wanted an explanation. I obliged. I told them everything. I spoke of Abstergo, the Animus, and even my old life. I eventually ended the discussion by asking for a band-aid for my bullet wound. This got some attention and an inquiry about my age. They looked a bit disturbed by the answer.
Other than my time with Abstergo they were most interested in my family and what skills I had. Now that I was sort of an assassin, they had to accept me (thank goodness we were an endangered species). I didn’t do much though. I did write down some of the clusters and researched clues (dates and all that jazz).
On the ride to the coliseum, I played the sequence through my head over and over. Were they a representation of Ezio’s thought process? Or Desmond’s? Or were they something else entirely? Were the snippets a clue? Provided by Subject 16? Or were they the creation of Those Who Came Before? In the back of my mind I was reveling at the fact that no one, even Desmond, seemed to care about it. Should I tell the others? But what would I tell them? ‘I think that random bunch of stuff, none of you noticed, means something, but I don’t know what that is so if you want to contribute ideas please do’? I wasn’t sharing until I had something to significant.
Hoping to have the same effect as a pensive, I went through my notes. There was something odd about Cesare. How come he couldn’t be killed by human hands or confined in prison? What made him so special? There was something else. I studied my notes on Cesare’s role in the time period showed in the Animus. There was nothing there to help me. I flipped to my background information on him. In
1496: when his father waged war with the Orsini Family to seize their territory, Cesare Borgia joined the battle. Among the enemy's ranks was Bartolomeo d'Alviano, in secret an Assassin. When Bartolomeo's resources were down to three fortresses, Cesare cut off his supplies. When it looked like victory was near, Carlo Orsini arrived with his army and joined Bartolomeo, even wounding Cesare in the face.
Wounding Cesare in the face… I flipped back to my sketch. It was possible I could have missed a scar. If I had then, judging how that was a common trait in Ezio, Altaïr and Desmond, Cesare could be related to them. The issue was that still wasn’t much of a conclusion.
I was still contemplating Cesare and such things, when we pulled up to the Roman Coliseum. I clambered out, still clutching my notebook, with Rebecca, Lucy, Shawn and Desmond.
“Déjà vu.” Desmond nearly murmured as our group surveyed the remains.
“I bet.” Rebecca chirped, moving forward for a better view.
“Let’s go.” Ordered Lucy as she stepped to leap over the edge.
Shawn stopped her, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what about us, eh? You might actually need a historian down there.” It was decided that Desmond would take the traditional route while the rest of us went the easier way. I thought some more on the journey. There was something that didn’t fit. If Those Who Came Before were supposed to be ‘gods,’ then who were the demons?
Desmond opened the door for us and we entered Santa Maria Aracoeli. While he jumped around I sat walked to a pillar and leaned against it. A pounding pain was starting in my forehead. I closed my eyes for a moment. That helped. Desmond was done. He touched the small pedestal and we flew downwards. Stairs appeared. Desmond and Shawn were bantering back and forth, but my head was hurting more and I took little notice.
After saying the password (72) we entered. When the others moved to the central platform, I sat down and stayed where I was with the excuse that my head hurt. They went on ahead. That’s funny, there’s a cross above the apple, what does- I felt claws begin to rake my back. I started to cry out as Desmond touched the apple, I was frozen, as was who ever my attacker was. I watched as the terrible events unfolded before me.
As Desmond and Lucy fell to the ground I lunged to my feet, thinking only to get to them and help. A massive weight smashed into my torso. Damn! I’d forgotten all about my assailant! I turned, instinctively reaching for my sword and realizing as I did so it wouldn’t be there. But… it was! Inexplicably, my virtual weapon was at my waist and very real. I drew it, slashing out at the massive beast that attacked me. I had never seen anything like it in any fantasy books, movies or other things of that kind.
It’s flesh looked beyond charcoal, a deep black yet somehow unhealthy and damaged. Cracks splayed across it in a pattern of red wounds, revealing flesh. Dark blood oozed from the sores. Was this a demon? My blade glittered gold as I fought.
After much sweat and toil, I finally slew the monstrosity and sent its head flying. The stump of it’s neck bubbled up like a geyser in blood as the thing pitched forward. I swung back, already running towards my fallen friends. Something caught my eye and I stopped. My skin was covered in a network of gold lines. For no cognitive reason, my hand moved to my cross. It wasn’t how it usually was. One, it was thrumming with heat and power. Two, it was sunken into my skin.
In a stupor of confusion, I didn’t notice anyone else enter until a heavy object descended on my skull, tossing me into unconciousness.