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Desmond stopped in front of the animus, lacking the usual sense of excitement and anxiety over what would happen next in his ancestors’ lives. He had the ouroboros key from Connor’s grave, and while no one had said it, he knew he would never be getting into the animus again.

“Are you ready?” William asked, voice worn.

“As I’ll ever be,” Desmond responded, looking warily up at the blue holographic gate.

Before moving, however, he turned to the Apple they had left sitting in the seat of the animus where it wouldn’t roll away on them. He had wielded it once as an efficient weapon, and now it seemed so insignificant and harmless in the face of his next task. He reached out, wondering if Minerva had left one last message for him before abandoning him to face Juno.

He felt the cold smoothness of the Piece of Eden and the ground disappeared beneath his feet. His stomach dropped, and he instinctively pulled his hand away. He looked down to see new ground rushing towards him, and he braced for impact. He landed awkwardly, mostly on his toes, and he tipped forward; knees softening the landing for his face.

“Ow,” he murmured to himself as he tried to judge just how far he’d fallen. Where had he even fallen from?

He could feel grass beneath his hands. He pushed himself up onto his hands and knees to see the golden globe the Piece of Eden had produced; the last memory of Altaïr’s he’d seen in the animus. He frowned as he watched the globe spin slowly. The angle was wrong.

Then he saw the man standing before the holographic globe. He glanced around to see if anything else in the memory was wrong. There were two men beside him gathering themselves and looking around just as he had. He recognized them as readily as he recognized the man before the globe. He looked back to the man robed in white standing before the globe and knew him to be Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad just as he knew the other men to be Ezio Auditore and Connor Kenway.

He had no idea what to do, but he was quickly coming to the conclusion that the Apple must have sent him back in time though he had no idea how Connor and Ezio had arrived with him. Too many thoughts crowded into his head for him to even begin to choose how to proceed.

“What is this place?” Connor asked though he did not look at Desmond.

A group of men came into the courtyard, and Desmond recognized them as Malik and his men. Altaïr collapsed to his knees before the globe, and Malik rushed to him. Desmond could remember him having used up all of his strength to face Al Mualim, but he couldn’t remember if he’d been injured or not. Whatever the case, Altaïr would need rest.

“Malik,” one of the men said, gesturing towards Desmond and his two other ancestors.

Malik straightened, hand on his sword and stepping before Altaïr. Desmond scrambled to his feet. “Safety and peace,” Desmond said as if he were Altaïr, but somehow it sounded wrong. His mouth did not make the words the same way Altaïr’s did though his mind felt them the same.

He glanced to his sides to see his ancestors’ reactions.

Ezio and Connor both mimicked Malik with their weapons ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice. Connor however looked rather befuddled as he understood none of the language. Desmond didn’t believe Connor had ever heard much 12th century Arabic, and likely would have forgotten it due to disuse even if he had. Ezio, however, looked back and forth between Desmond and Malik as if he could parse out the language if he just squinted at them hard enough.

“You are not my brother,” Malik growled. “Who are you? How did you get in here?”

“I’m Desmond Miles,” he explained as he pulled back the sleeve of his sweatshirt to reveal his hidden blade. “I’m an Assassin, and a descendent of Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Desmond could see Ezio react first to his name and then to Altaïr’s. Connor also stirred at the sound of Altaïr’s name. However, Desmond refused to look away from Malik in case that’s what got them killed.

“Impossible,” Malik said though he didn’t seem to believe his own words. “Altaïr has no family.”

Desmond knew that it was impossible to deny family resemblance despite the centuries between him and Altaïr. He carefully gestured towards the Apple so as to not startle anyone. “I was brought here by the Piece of Eden.”

“And you two?” Malik asked, looking at Connor and Ezio.

“I am Ezio Auditore,” Ezio answered for himself in a strong accent. “I am also an Assassin and believe a Piece of Eden brought me here though I don’t know for what purpose.”

“He’s Connor, and he doesn’t speak this language,” Desmond said, gesturing to Connor. “He’s also an Assassin and probably also was brought here by a Piece of Eden.”

“How do you know my name?” Connor asked Desmond.

“Long story,” he told him in English, still keeping his eyes on Malik.

They all stood silently on the brink of a fight as the holographic globe spun and they sized each other up.

“I believe them,” Altaïr said, struggling back to his feet.

“You’re not in any state to offer such an assessment,” Malik remarked.

“We have more pressing concerns than whether or not you believe them,” Altaïr returned.

For a moment, they all looked at the body of the fallen Assassin leader. Malik looked from the body first. “If you are who you say you are, that you are Assassins, you will not mind if we hold you until such a time that we can determine your allegiance.”

Desmond liked the sound of that well over getting stabbed in the guts. “Of course.”

“If I remember my history correctly,” Ezio said. “I could expect you to do no less. I’ll surrender myself until such a time you can believe my honesty.”

Desmond then quickly explained the situation to Connor in English. Connor nodded, removing his hand from his weapon. “I’ll accept the imprisonment if that’s what it takes to sort out this situation without bloodshed.”

Desmond switched over to Arabic. “Connor agrees as well.”

Malik quickly instructed the men he had brought with them to relieve the three of them of their weapons and lock them in one of their more comfortable cells. Well, Malik did not say that it was comfortable, but given Desmond’s insider knowledge from the animus, he would not complain compared to other options available. Connor and Ezio turned over their weapons and armor with some reluctance. Desmond minded less as he knew no one would even be able to use the weapons for themselves except for his hidden blade.

The cell they were locked in was fairly small, but at least it had one window though that was more a slit in the wall than a true window. There were pallets on the floor and a bucket to act as a toilet. Desmond was not someone who prayed, but he was praying they weren’t in there too long. Why did everything historical have to be so gross? This was worse than the Monteriggionni underground.

“Now, that we have time,” Ezio began as he settled down onto one of the pallets. “Are you the Desmond the woman spoke of?”

“Yes, but this is gonna be one long story so let me tell Connor that this is gonna take a while,” Desmond said, speaking to Ezio in his native Italian. Ezio seemed impressed with his fluency.

Desmond turn to Connor in English. “You kind of know the least out of all of is so it’ll take a while for me to explain everything to you so just hang tight while I explain things to Ezio first.”

“Hang tight?” Connor echoed.

“Have patience. You’re a lot better at it than literally everyone else I know.”

“Very well,” Connor said, picking out a pallet for himself.

Desmond stayed standing so he could pace while he talked. “Just ask questions as they come up because neither of us are going to remember it all by the end of this,” Desmond warned Ezio then launched into his tale and doing his best to translate the technology of the future as best he could with the dated Italian he had and the lack of context Ezio had.

Eio asked a lot of questions. Desmond did his best to answer him, but there was only so much he knew of the entire situation on his own. Eventually, he wound down to the last minutes before the solar flare and ended with, “And then the Apple dropped me here.”

“I would not believe it if I had not seen the Apple for myself,” Ezio said, leaning back against the wall of their cell. “We have much more still to discuss about how we should proceed from here.”

“We’ve got other people to catch up first,” Desmond said then switched over to English for Connor and start the spiel all over again.

Morning arrived before Desmond finished speaking and answering Connor’s questions. He felt like his mouth had gone completely dry. He also had no idea what the Assassins beyond their cell were doing. He had a sense of it given Altaïr’s knowledge of them, but he knew the Altaïr of this time had much more of Assassin bureaucracy to learn before he could fully understand the complexity of the situation. Therefore, Desmond knew just as little of it at this time in history.

At least they received breakfast and a large ration of water at day break. Desmond kept staring up into the little slit of the window to look at the sunlight.

“Do you see something?” Ezio asked.

“I told you the solar flare was coming before I left,” he said then looked away from the window. “I had expected to never see another morning.”

“That is something worth looking at,” Eio mused. Desmond, of course, knew that he had spent a few mornings in his lifetime looking at dawning light he’d never expected to land upon his living flesh. Such was the life of an Assassin.

Within a few minutes, however, Desmond grew bored and restless. That was also the life of an Assassin. You want peace in times of trouble and action in times of stillness. “Hey, Connor,” Desmond said.

“Yes?” Connor asked, sounding weary even though there was nothing to be weary about.

“Did you know your grandfather was a pirate Assassin?”

“What?”

“Yeah, Edward Kenway. I knew of him because he was friends with Blackbeard, but Shaun told me he was an Assassin, too. Kept the Templars from getting some sort of precursor technology in the Caribbean then retired to England.”

“I didn’t know,” Connor said quietly. “If he was an Assassin how did my father come to be a Templar?”

“Edward Kenway died by the time Haytham was ten. So officially, he got adopted in before he could be trained too much as an Assassin. Unofficially, we’re pretty sure Edward was killed and Haytham essentially kidnapped,” he said, trying to keep it soft. He had left out that he had been in Haytham’s memories before Connor’s. More to keep the conflict it had caused between himself and his father private than to keep it a secret from Connor. Desmond didn’t like that he knew the man and would prefer to keep his memories as far from his mind as possible.

Connor nodded, deciding to mull over the information rather than discuss it further. It wasn’t what Desmond wanted at all. He sighed and pulled out his phone. He was surprised to find that it still had a charge. It wouldn’t be of much use to him in this time period, so why not use up the last of the battery for some fun?

“What is that?” Ezio asked, gesturing to his phone.

“It is a cellphone,” he said then had no idea how to explain it further without making it sound like magic. “It lets you talk to people over long distances if they have one, too. Nobody else has one so it’s kind of useless, but I can use it to entertain myself so I don’t die of boredom.”

“How does it work? Is it like the Apple?” he asked.  

“It’s complicated. I only have a vague idea of how the phone all works, and that comes from being born in the century I was,” Desmond confessed. “There’s literally not words that you know that could explain it. This thing can’t control people though if that’s what you’re worried about. Humans made it, not precursors.”

“I cannot imagine humanity coming so close to the technology of the precursors as you call them.”

“We’re not that close. We can’t even figure out what humans used to make before. Like, we have no idea how to make Roman concrete, Greek fire, or Damascus steel. We forget shit just as quickly as we learn it. If Shaun’s right, which he usually is when it comes to history, the fabric of this time period is better than the fabric of the future when I’m from.”

“Perhaps your animus would help recover some of that information. It has served you well so far.”

“Yeah, but it has a pretty high cost,” Desmond said, feeling as if he hadn’t fully impressed upon his ancestor how taxing learning from within the animus was. Would ruining a man’s mind be worth learning to construct new material resources? Desmond would say no.

Connor broke into the silence. “What are you discussing?”

“Cellphone,” Desmond answered, holding it up for Connor to see. “Do you want me to start teaching you Arabic? That way we’ll all have at least one language in common.”

Connor nodded. “I would appreciate that.”

“Okay, so, fair warning, I’ve never tried to teach anyone a language before so this might be a little weird,” he explained, and Connor nodded again like he had expected it.

It was messy even without any writing implements. Connor had a bit of a knack for languages, as Desmond had discovered in most of his ancestors, and Ezio quickly picked up on what they were doing and tried to help. At least Connor and Ezio seemed to find some amusement in his struggles. He didn’t mind them laughing at him with all the troubles invading all of their lives. Needless to say, they did not get very far by the time the door to the cell opened again.

Malik stood beyond the door, and he did not carry food with him. “The Dai would like to speak with you and discuss your fate.”

Connor might not have understood the words, but even he understood the gravity laden in Malik’s tone.

“We’re ready,” Desmond answered for them.

Chapter Text

Desmond resisted the urge to fidget as he stood before the Dai. He had expected to meet them in something like a court room, but Malik had instead brought them to another section of the library. He felt like he recognized most of the men, but he couldn’t put any names to any faces. He didn’t know if that was his fault or Altaïr’s. No one spoke for some time as both sides sized each other up, and that made everything worse.

“Let’s start with something simple then,” one of the men said. Desmond could suddenly recall his name; Baqir. “What are your names?”

“I am Ezio Auditore da Firenze.”

“I’m Desmond Miles.”

He looked over to Connor to see if he needed a translation. He clearly didn’t need it because he said, “Connor.”

“Malik has informed us that you claim to be Assassins from other times and places. I do not know how one would prove that you are from another time, but you are clearly not from here. What would be easier to prove is if you know our Brotherhood. I hope you will not mind if we question you.”

“Go ahead,” Ezio told him.

“I’ll vouch for Connor since he does not share a language with you, and you cannot test him for yourselves,” Desmond said, and he could tell that made a few among the Dai uncomfortable. He had nothing better that he could offer them.

The questioning went on for a long time. Desmond would feel that he was being put through the wringer were Altaïr’s memories not providing him the answer to every question. His answers didn’t seem to settle the Dai. He could feel their eyes crawling over his skin. His uncanny similarity in appearance to Altaïr would perhaps be detrimental to proving himself trustworthy.  

One of the Dai Desmond couldn’t name shot him a dour look and said, “You dress like you’re from another land, but you know the Brotherhood as if you were one of our own. Even your companion does not know it as well as you do.”

“Well, he’s not from the same time as me, and in my time, I had more access to information about your time,” he explained.

The Dai made a displeased noise, but didn’t ask any further questions.

“I am convinced,” a different Dai said. “After willingly being held and answering our questions, they are either part of our Order or are allies.”

A few disagreements arose, mostly concerning that they hadn’t had enough time to judge them.

Desmond looked to Ezio and then Connor. They didn’t seem to know what he wanted, but he took the lack of obvious disapproval as a go ahead. “We don’t need your help to continue our mission, but we would like it. If we are forced to act on our own, you won’t receive the benefits of our collected information on the Templar Treasure as well as other related matters.”

Desmond caught the small smile forming on Ezio’s face, the kind of smile he gave his recruits when they had done well. Of course Ezio would try and make a Master Assassin out of him while they’re together.

The ultimatum brought out a new tone to the room.

“I think it would serve us both best if we agreed to work together,” Baqir said, and Desmond’s sense of recognition grew stronger. “Are we in agreement?”

The majority of the Dai nodded or otherwise agreed, some more reluctantly than others. Desmond finally remembered Baqir as the man who would become the leader of the Assassins before Altaïr could take on the mantel. Desmond looked to Ezio and Connor again. Connor gave him a nod though Desmond doubted he knew exactly what was going on without a translation. Ezio told him in Italian, “Go ahead.”

“We are agreed as well,” Desmond told him.

“What can you tell us of the Templar Treasure?” Baqir asked, looking between the three of them.

“There is a lot to be discussed about the Templar Treasure,” he answered. “Where would you like me to begin?”

“How is it possible that such an object could control so many men so completely?” a Dai asked.

“It was designed to control humans and humans to respond to it.”

“Did you just say that humans were designed?”

“The Templar Treasure, we call it an Apple of Eden or a Piece of Eden, was created by a race of beings that lived on Earth eons ago, the Precursors. They also designed humanity we believe by enhancing one of the existing primate species. They placed a mechanism in humans’ minds to maintain control over us to use us as slaves.”

The room exploded into outrage, and Desmond began to wish that Charles Darwin had been born a few centuries earlier so he wouldn’t have to explain evolution or genetics. At least then the moneky to man part wouldn’t be so weird.

“Quiet!” Baqir commanded, and the Dai slowly settled down.

“The Apple was meant to be able to harness mental energy to create things in physical reality. It was meant to protect the world from the sun.”

“Why would the world need protection from the sun?”

“Because the sun is like an oven that sometimes spits out flames. It reaches out, and sometimes far enough and strongly enough to burn the world. We call them solar winds. The last time the sun did that, it destroyed the Precursors,” he said. “The Apple was created to protect the Precursors by using humanity, but it didn’t work. Since then, the Apples have been used by a Precursor named Juno who has been using them to control humans to create wars and prevent us from protecting ourselves from the next solar wind.”

Malik looked unimpressed. “You think a Roman goddess is using the Templar Treasure to ensnare men and keep us from protecting ourselves from the sun?”

“She’s not a Roman goddess. The Precursors were only named gods after the first destruction of the world.”

“What are you plans for the Templar Treasure or the Apple of Eden as you call it?” Baqir asks.

“Keep Juno’s influence from spreading, and also keep them from Templar hands.”

“How do you intend to do that?”

“I have no idea. We only recently discovered that Juno could exert influence through them,” Desmond said, taking half of step back. “We haven’t had time to plan, and hadn’t planned to be sent to this time.” 

“We should be cautious then. Protect and isolate the one we have and make certain no one uses it. That’s the least we can do given how dangerous it is,” Malik said.  

“We should keep most of this knowledge here,” a Dai with a long beard said. “We have to declare a crisis state and send word of Al Mualim’s betrayal to our brothers beyond the walls of Masyaf. We should tell them what the Treasure is capable of and no more.”

“We should tell only the highest ranking the whole truth,” another Dai added. “They’ll likely have to face any Templars seeking the Treasure. It would be beneficial for them to have all of the information concerning it.”

Murmurs of agreement spread around the room. Desmond relaxed only slightly. He would prefer the knowledge to be spread more widely, but letting the general populace know might spread panic or disbelief. It ultimately wouldn’t help.

“What has happened?” Connor asked quietly. “Have they decided something?”

“They’re going to protect the Piece of Eden,” Desmond responded.

Connor nodded. “Good.”

Desmond turned back to the group of Dai to find Baqir looking at them. “Now, what is it you three intended to do here?”

“A priority would have to be the collection of the other Pieces of Eden, but that can’t be done without knowing how best to safeguard them.”

Ezio cleared his throat. “Before our plans are finalized, I believe we will all be happy to help you in whatever way we can. We may not be from the same place or time, but this is still our Order.”

“I agree,” Desmond said then added. “Connor likely feels the same.”

“You said you were Master Assassins, did you not?” a Dai asked. “We’re not exactly in a position to refuse help from Master Assassins given our current condition.”

A different Dai shook his head. “I am still not certain that they have proven themselves. It is too risky to take them on in such a manner.”

“The Treasure proves their honesty. We shouldn’t turn away their help.”

The conversation spread around the room for a few minutes before petering out. Baqir said to them, “I believe that we have decided the best option is to let them stay and prove themselves. We will gain nothing if we turn them away.”

“In what manner?” a Dai to his right asked.

Baqir shrugged. “They offered to help. Let them do so. They can assist Malik against the Templars and with protecting the Treasure.”

“I agree that Malik should be charged with overseeing issues relating to the Templars, but what of Altaïr?”

“I don’t think we should be putting so much emphasis on the Templars as to assign a Master Assassin solely to them.”

“Considering the trouble they’ve caused in the past few months, to do less would be unwise.”

“Do you find this agreeable, Malik?” Baqir asked.

Malik glanced at Desmond. “It is fine. I can handle the Templars and work with these three and Altaïr.”

“It’s decided then, at least when it comes to the Treasure,” the Dai with the long beard said. “We’ll have more to discuss when everyone returns.”

The conversation turned away from the Treasure into talks of the logistics of most of the Order returning to Masyaf in the wake of the crisis. Desmond began translating the gist of the conversation to Connor. Malik then moved forward and gestured for the three time travelers to follow him out of the room.

“May I ask what you’ve done with the Apple?” Ezio asked as soon as the door had closed behind them.

“We have put it in a lock box and stored it in what were Al Mualim’s chambers,” Malik told them. “If you have a better option I’ll gladly hear it.”

“I would recommend a vault, but I do not know if one is near here.”

“There isn’t one near us,” Desmond said. “Even if there were, we wouldn’t know how to get into it.”

“So it stays in the lock box.”

“Where is Altaïr?” Desmond asked. He had been under the impression that he had gained the rank of Dai prior to killing Al Mualim. He should have been part of the conversation.

“The infirmary,” Malik said. “His wounds are superficial, but he overworked himself. The doctors refuse to let him leave, and he has no tricks left against them. How is it that you know of Altaïr? You speak just like him.”

“In Arabic,” Desmond muttered under his breath. He didn’t sound anything like Altaïr in English.

Ezio clapped Desmond on the shoulder. “I think he would like to hear your story.”

“I’d rather tell Malik and Altaïr together at once,” Desmond said.  

“Then we go to the infirmary,” Malik said, grinning in a way that would have looked mischievous on someone else.

Ezio followed Malik eagerly.

“What are we doing?” Connor asked.

Desmond took advantage of the momentary delay. “We’re keeping the Apple locked away for now so we’re going to go visit Altaïr in the infirmary. I get to do my whole spiel again.”

“Okay,” Connor said. “Maybe if I just keep listening I can pick up more of this language.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Desmond said, not wanting to discourage him or give him false hope. Connor was better at picking up languages than he was anyways.

Desmond couldn’t help tensing as they made their way to the infirmary. Ezio’s questions about the history and architecture of the building and Malik’s answer to him weren’t enough to distract Desmond from his worries. Despite how crazy it already was to be in the presence of Ezio and Connor, meeting Altaïr seemed completely different. Altaïr had been the first. Altaïr’s mind was the only one he’d been forced into rather than choosing to enter to help their cause. He also can’t help but feel that Altaïr would take the intrusion worst even if it had been out of Desmond’s control.

“I see you’re feeling better,” Malik said as if Altaïr would not already be annoyed enough without his armor and weapons.

“Please tell me you have not come to prolong my torture,” he responded, and it doubtlessly would have been more acerbic if he didn’t have the people Malik had brought with him to divide his attention.

“I’d hardly call being told to rest torture,” Malik said, rolling his eyes. “And besides, I’ve brought you guests.”

“Is that what they are?” he asked, scowling at them.

Desmond chanced a glance over at Connor and Ezio and winced. They both stared at Altaïr like they could hardly believe he was actually in front of them. He should have stressed more that Altaïr was not the man they knew him to be, not yet.

Though, to be fair, maybe Desmond did not know everything about Altaïr anyways. He looked better than Desmond had expected him to after being put through such an extreme emotional wringer. He was certainly grumpy and looked like he could use some more sleep, but he wore a clean tunic and pants as well as dressings for his wounds. He’d even kicked off the covers on his infirmary bed in a small show defiance though he’d agreed to stay in the bed.

“They’re time travelers. Apparently, the Templar Treasure can send our future brothers back to aid us and themselves,” Malik added.

Altaïr gave Malik a look like he wanted to call him a liar but couldn’t. He’d seen plenty of unbelievable things already, what was one more? He sighed and looked at the three of them. “Who are you then, future brothers?”

It almost sounded sarcastic to Desmond, but Ezio either didn’t hear it or didn’t care. He bowed politely to Altaïr. “I’m Ezio Auditore da Firenze. I’m honored to meet you.”

Altaïr looked a little weirded out, which Desmond figured after how many months of being the disgrace of the Order. Master Assassins typically weren’t treated with much honor, not Ezio’s nobility type anyways, just respect.

Connor straightened himself, standing upright like a soldier, and got out a heavily accented, “I am Connor.”

Desmond gave him a nod for getting it right. He took a deep breath to brace himself then said, “I’m Desmond Miles. The Dai have asked us to work together against the Templars, and I have a lot of information to give you.”

“Then you might try looking for seats,” Altaïr said, and Desmond was grateful for the delay.  

“With our luck we won’t find any,” Malik said.

For once, he was wrong. They managed to find enough stools to seat them all around Altaïr’s bed. Desmond clears his throat then begins. “Ezio and Connor have already heard all of this, and ask any questions as they come up.”

Malik had many, many questions about everything, and nearly none of Desmond’s answers satisfied him.

“How do you not know how anything works?” he asked irritably.

“Because I’m not a scientist! Neither are you for that matter. Why do you need to know the details about how we siphon power off the grid?”

“I only want to understand what you’re talking about. How can I verify the information if you cannot explain how you came to your conclusions and found your answers?”

“I don’t know how it works, only how I used it! I used the animus, the animus needs electricity to run, so we stole it from the grid, and we had to steal it because we couldn’t hide in a proper safe house that already had electricity because Templars could find us. This is literally useless information. There’s not even a grid for another thousand years,” Desmond said exasperated.

“Malik,” Altaïr said, finally interrupting. “If we can bear not to understand the inner workings of the Templar Treasure, we can allow the details of the animus to rest so that Desmond may finish his story.”

“I would not ask so many questions if he spoke more plainly,” Malik argued.

“Apparently, this is not a story that becomes easier to tell with practice,” Ezio said, clearly amused at the difficulty Desmond faced in getting his story out.

“This isn’t my language,” Desmond tells Malik, ignoring Ezio for the moment. “It’s not even a version of the language from my own time. I cannot translate everything. I’m doing the best I can.”

“Very well,” Malik said, settling back from his forward leaning, aggressive posture. “I won’t ask for anymore unnecessary details.”

“Great,” Desmond said before taking a breath and launching back into his tale. He finishes with saying, “And that’s how we ended up here. Also, this morning the Dai assigned us and Malik to the Templars and recovering the Pieces of Eden once you’re healthy.”

“We can plan while he finishes healing,” Ezio said.

“We don’t need to do much planning. The closest Piece of Eden is on Cyprus, your Piece of Eden actually,” Desmond says. “I remember some of what all goes on for the Templars after de Sable’s death, but I don’t know exactly where the Piece of Eden is because none of you were the ones that found it there.”

“Sounds like there’s still planning to be done then,” Malik said. “We should also get you different clothes. You’re too ostentatious as you are. It will take time to make three more Master Assassin uniforms.”

“Two,” Desmond corrected.

“Excuse me?” he asked.

“I don’t need a Master Assassin uniform. I never achieved that rank.”

Malik sighed like Desmond personally saw to doubling all of his problems. “What rank did you achieve then?”

“We didn’t really have ranks, not the way you do. You either were a Master Assassin or you weren’t,” he said and shrugged. “I don’t have any comparable to give you either. I never trained with a sword, hidden blades are nearly obsolete. You could say I’ve trained under Altaïr, Ezio, and Connor with the animus, but it’s only in my head. I’m as likely to get myself stabbed as be of any use.”

“Then you have training to do,” Altaïr said.

Desmond wanted to die just a little bit.

Chapter Text

“Does everyone really need to be here for this?” Desmond asked

“We will be working as a group. It’s best we get to know each other sooner rather than later,” Malik answered.

“What about him?” Desmond asked, pointing to Altaïr. “Isn’t he supposed to be on bed rest?”

“I’m sitting down,” Altaïr said, and he was. Desmond was pretty sure that the medical staff from the infirmary would not consider the fence that marked Rauf’s training ground a suitable chair, though.

“Worried you’ll be embarrassed?” Ezio asked, sticking to the common Arabic. He’d volunteered to train Desmond so he stood on the other side of the ring doing what passed for Renaissance era stretches.

“Yes,” Desmond said. “Did you miss the part where I said the majority of my work in the past four months has been entirely in my head? I’ve been laying in a bed.”

“It’s training. I will be teaching you, not embarrassing you.”

“Relax,” Connor added in English.

Desmond glared at him. “I feel like I’ve just had three different ancestors called down upon me to tell me exactly how I’ve fucked up all my training. Relaxing will not happen.”

“You have memories of ours we’d rather have not shared. Consider this repayment then.”

Desmond rolled his eyes. Rebecca always said Connor was the nice one out of his ancestors, but that was not true at all. None of them are nice. “Have you considered that I’d rather not have seen them either?”

“Ready?” Ezio asked, moving into a ready stance with the wooden sword Malik had retrieved for them to practice with.

“Yes,” Desmond said reluctantly as he grabbed the wooden sword he was somehow supposed to use to fend off a Master Assassin. Their bout only lasted a few minutes, and it went every bit as poorly as Desmond had expected it to.

“What are you doing?” Ezio asked. “It is a sword, not a blunt weapon.”

“Yes, but I have experience with blunt weapons.”

“If you do not use a sword, why would you use a blunt weapon?”

“People don’t regularly wear swords. It’s frowned upon. Blunt weapons, however, can be made out of anything on hand.”

“So you go in weaponless?”

“No, but there are more blunt weapons in this world than swords.”

 Ezio sighed, aggravated. “What are they teaching you in the future?”

“That swords are very dumb,” Desmond muttered under his breath in English. His ancestors were a lot less easy to deal with when he wasn’t being them.

“Arguing will get us nowhere,” Malik said. “Desmond, you need to stop running away from his attacks and only defending. When you counter, attack again. Your footwork is strange, but it’s certainly there. Trust it. You do not carry some blunt weapon picked up at random. It is carved and weighted to mimic a sword. Use it like one.” 

Desmond nodded but ground his teeth. He had not trained in years. It grated against him the same as it had when he had been a teenager. He had thought he had outgrown the reaction. He adjusted his grip on the wooden sword, trying to remind himself that it is a sword and not a baton.

“Ready?” Ezio asked again.

“Yes,” Desmond said, feeling slightly more assured of himself. He found Altaïr’s memories of training more easily, remember the weight and the feel of the training swords from long, hot days under Rauf’s tutelage. Altaïr never hesitated, sure in himself and what his body was capable of. Desmond hesitates before every swing, doubt in every cell of his body.

“Better,” Ezio said as he ended the bout.

Desmond nodded. He stood close enough to the fence to hear Malik tell Altaïr, “He moves almost like you.”

“I had noticed,” Altaïr responded.

Desmond couldn’t tell if he thought it was a bad thing or not. It was a lot easier to figure that all out when he was in his head. Altaïr sounded way more neutral from the outside.

Desmond only made it another hour before giving up. “Uncle,” he said in English before lying down in the dirt which he knew for a fact many, many people had spit on.

“Are you alright?” Ezio asked.

“No, do I look okay to you?” Desmond asked before having to suck in air again. He was completely winded, sweaty absolutely everywhere, and his arms burned. He had known he was out of shape, but damn.

“Honestly?” Ezio asked. “No. Malik, would you be able to fetch Desmond some water?”

“With pleasure,” Malik said in a tone that suggested that it would be done without any pleasure.

Desmond caught Altaïr smirking as Malik left to fetch some water. At least Desmond knew from Altaïr that the water from Masyaf wouldn’t kill him.

“You seem to be having quite a bit of trouble,” Ezio said, taking a position so that the sun wouldn’t shine right on Desmond’s face.

“I told you I’d been in basically a bed for four months. Of course, I’m out of shape,” Desmond told him. “I’m not used to this damn heat either. It’s late summer here, but I just came from the start of winter.”

“Was it that much of a problem in the animus?” Altaïr asked.

“No, you didn’t mind the heat because you were used to it, and outside of your memories, there wasn’t really a temperature.”

“I thought you said the animus was a bed,” Ezio said, and Altaïr nodded in agreement.

“It is in the physical realm, but to learn your memories, it put my consciousness in a,” Desmond paused trying to find a good way of explaining it in old words. “A fake space, like a training room. So it would look like Masyaf, but it didn’t have any heat, or smell, or any people.”

“It sounds unpleasant,” Altaïr said.

“Yeah, if you’re not used to it.”

Malik returned with a jug of water as well as cups for them all. “Here you are.”

Desmond groaned as he forced himself back to his feet. He poured himself a cup and started drinking.

“Ah, hot dirt water,” Desmond said in English. He had noticed immediately the day before that the water had tasted very different from the water he was used to in the future. It’s not like Masyaf had metal city plumbing or fluoride or whatever else the US treated its water with.

“Could you please stop calling it that?” Connor asked.

“It’s what it tastes like,” Desmond said.

“I know, but you don’t need to say it.”

“I don’t know that I agree with that.”

Connor gave him a flat look.

“So, Desmond,” Ezio said in Arabic as he dropped his hand onto Desmond’s shoulder, making him jump, “How’s your hand to hand combat?”

“It could almost qualify as good if I weren’t out of shape,” he answered, returning to Arabic.

“So hand to hand combat is still used in the future,” Malik said. “That’s good to know.”

“People still have hands in the future,” Desmond said, and Altaïr smirks. “Actually, I probably know more types of hand to hand combat than any one of you do.”

“How so?” Ezio asked.

“You were all taught a sort of basic style passed down through the Order. By my time, however, we’d decided to incorporate other fighting styles and then I picked up a few more on my own. I wouldn’t say I’m a master at any one of the styles, but it gives me options.”

“What types?” Malik asked.

“Karate, various kung fu styles, jeet kun do which is kind of kung fu anyways, taekwando, judo, krav maga, boxing,” he listed then shrugged. “You could say I’m a mixed martial artist, except I didn’t actually do that.”

“I’m not familiar with any of those,” Malik said, looking to Altaïr, but Altaïr only shrugged.

“I’ve not heard of them either,” Ezio said.

“A lot of them don’t originate from this area, and some of them won’t exist for another few centuries,” Desmond explained. Desmond wouldn’t call his collected knowledge of martial arts a style. It was more a hodge podge of bits and pieces he could pull from as it suited him. “I’m only telling you so that you know I’ll fight differently.”

“Let’s see it then,” Ezio said, excited. Desmond’s not surprised to see him excited at the prospect of learning some new forms. Ezio was perhaps the most interested in learning new styles out of all of the ancestors he’d visited in the animus.

“Alright,” Desmond said, shifting in a deceptive defensive stance. He looked relaxed, but he was prepared to react to whatever strike came for him.

Their bout started, and Desmond’s hypothesis that leg strikes and other kicking attacks would be effective proved accurate. It wasn’t as if his ancestors didn’t use their legs in combat, but they certainly never utilized high strikes to the chest or targeted ones at the knees or other vulnerable areas. Ezio struggled to block them, but he moved far quicker than Desmond could, easily dodging his attacks. Desmond was reluctant to use any grappling strikes as he knew Ezio wore armor and with his superior strength could easily break his hold even if he didn’t know the counter techniques. He could tell the moment Ezio’s calculations of his ability measured above his actual skill when Ezio landed a devastating punch to his sternum that left him totally winded.

Desmond gasped like a fish, hugging his hands to his chest, and Ezio immediately dropped out of his fighting stance.

“Forgive me, Desmond,” Ezio said. “I thought you would be able to dodge it.”

“I’m good,” Desmond rasped out when he finally got in enough air to. “I’m just winded.”

“It’s certainly an interesting form of fighting,” Malik added. “I think we’ve punished Desmond enough for one day, don’t you agree?”

“Yes, I think that’s enough combat assessment,” Ezio agreed.

“Great,” Desmond said, his breath almost back to normal. He massaged his chest as he made his way over to the fence to lean against. “Does that make it lunch time?”

Ezio laughed. “I agree with Desmond. We should eat.”

Desmond had always been a fan of middle eastern food after leaving the farm, but modern American versions of the food were definitely very different than what was served to the Masyaf Assassins. Ezio didn’t seem to mind the food, but Connor certainly struggled to eat it. Desmond could hardly blame him. It was completely different from the food he was used to eating in North America. He checked everything over before attempting to eat it, and even then, he seemed like he was never quite sure of the taste.

“How are you finding the food?” he asked.

“It’s…strange,” he said.

“We live in a world before Columbus sailed and discovered the ‘New World’, your world. There’s a lot of plants you’re familiar with that no one here has ever seen and vice versa,” Desmond explained. “And all the new food I’ve seen you eat is European, not this kind of stuff.”

Connor sighed. “Ezio doesn’t seem to mind.”

“Yeah, Ezio comes to this area later in his life, and he was pretty into the food. Personally, I think all this food’s a little weird because we don’t do food like this in the future anymore.”

“What does that mean?”

“We use a lot of preservatives. Not a whole lot is really fresh like this,” he said and shrugged.

“Salty then,” Connor said, nodding like he understood.

Desmond gave out a short laugh. “Not really. More like freezing and canning and sealing.”

“I suppose a lot more would be possible with your technology.”

“Yeah. Don’t worry about the food too much, and you’ll need the energy. The worst thing that can happen is we both get the shits, but it’ll pass,” Desmond said then added. “I mean, I’m just banking on us not carrying any dangerous diseases that just wipes out everyone before we even get a chance to do any good.”

“Diseases?” Connor asked, suddenly looking very concerned.

“Yeah, like you know what happened after all the Europeans showed up. Well, we know a lot more medically speaking about how that all happened. See, diseases are organisms like animals and plants. They grow and adapt same as we do. Europe and the Americas had different diseases due to geographical isolation, and so the European diseases wiped out a lot of people because you didn’t know how to treat them and your immune systems had never experienced them. Now, we’re dealing with not only with geographical isolation, but, like, time isolation. I could be unknowingly caring diseases that are hundreds of generations more evolved than what people’s immune systems now and here can take. I mean, in my time, we have super bugs. Diseases that are resistant to all of our medicines. It’s not like I went and got disinfected before I came here.”

“So what do we do if we have brought something back?” Connor asked, setting aside his food.

“There’s not much we can do. It’s not like any of us are doctors. We basically just have to see what happens.”

“This is more complicated than I ever imagined it could be.”

“You said it.”

“What’s the plan for this afternoon?” Ezio asked in Arabic after sensing that Connor and Desmond had finished their conversation.

“We have to get you measured for your robes then I would like to discuss our plan of action,” Malik answered.

Altaïr sighed. Desmond was with him. Altaïr, from what Desmond knew of his memories, had never been one for team missions precisely because of the planning sessions before hand. He found it much easier to plan on his own, and to his credit, he was usually faster at it than an entire team. Desmond just wasn’t looking forward to the coming one because it will likely be him and Malik butting heads, and Desmond will lose.

They finish their meals and head over to Masyaf’s tailor; an older man who knew the Order’s secrets and was plenty skilled with needle and thread. He worked with several women in the surrounding town to outfit the Order’s men. Desmond taught Connor more Arabic while Ezio had an argument with the tailor. Afterward, Malik guided them back into the library to a secluded table where they could plan.

“You miss the craziest things when you time travel,” Desmond said as he sat down, wishing they could use a projector and powerpoints. Or at least a white board and some dry erase markers. He wasn’t even sure blackboards and chalk were a thing. He can’t remember Altaïr ever using them.

Malik scowled at him. “We need to focus on now. You have told us some of the details regarding the Templars and the Order in this time, but there are still gaps. We need to decide which ones need to be filled.”

“Our priority should be getting the Piece of Eden on Cyprus,” Desmond said. “But I don’t know exactly where it is, and the Templars have a head start on us even if they are currently regrouping.”

“Do the Templars know where it is at this time?” Ezio asked.

“No, that is the only reason they don’t find it for a few hundred years,” Desmond said. “But they have abandoned Acre for the moment to regroup on Cyprus. While they are there, they will search for the Piece of Eden. I think it would be best if we avoid attacking them and steal the Piece of Eden out from under them.”

“Why?” Altaïr asked. “From your story, they will be a formidable force against us in the future. They are weakened now. Why not continue to strike at them? We can destroy them and take the Piece of Eden.”

“That is what you did the first time. You did not succeed in finding the Piece of Eden in Cyprus, instead you used Al Mualim’s Apple as a weapon while there. Quite frankly, it was a mess. It took two years for the Assassins to liberate the island from Templar control. I do not know how much time we have. Even if liberating Cyprus was a priority, we do not have the man power and I would rather Ezio plan the mission as he has a decade of experience over you in these matters.”

“So we do nothing?” Altaïr asked, tone sharp.

Malik added, “It may have been a mess when Altaïr worked on his own before, but I doubt it will be so with more people. Especially if Ezio has the experience you claim he does.”

Ezio huffed, offended his experience was being put into question.

“May I remind you,” Malik said sternly. “That our assignment was not only the Piece of Eden. It was the Templars as well.”

“Very well,” Desmond said, holding up his hands in a placating manner. “Forgive me. In my time, to strike at the leaders in such a manner would be suicide. We are like rats in a maze trying to scramble over the walls, too desperate to even think of who put us in such a dire place. Sneaking in and stealing resources from beneath their noses was the most we could do. I only have an idea of the men Altaïr targeted when he originally went to Cyprus as I did not see it in the animus. If you wish to have better information, we’ll need a turncoat.”

Altaïr scoffed. “What Templar would work with us?”

Desmond could see Ezio smirking out of the corner of his eye. He already knew exactly who Desmond was thinking of. Still, Desmond shrugged like it was totally casual. “I don’t see why it would be such a problem. You had one the first time.”

Malik leaned in, looking interested.

“You know who?” Altaïr asked, sounding suspicious.

“Yes, you’ve met them already.”

“Just tell the man’s name, Desmond,” he asked, scowling.

“Ah,” Desmond said, holding in the moment to prepare himself for Altaïr’s reaction. “It’s a woman.”

Altaïr made the most offended face in existence, and Ezio cracked up upon seeing it which only worsened his mood. Connor seemed startled by the sudden laughter, but Malik ran a hand over his face. Desmond had to work very hard not to laugh as well.

“The sorceress?” Altaïr asked.

Desmond thought that was an interesting way of saying that Altaïr had been so focused on his mission he’d completely missed that she had boobs. “Wearing a man’s clothes does not make one a sorceress.”

Ezio finally calmed down and stopped laughing. “I believe she will be an excellent addition to the group.”

“You’d have worked with her on your own remember,” Desmond pointed out. “Perhaps this way you can make it a less contentious second meeting.”

“Why would I ever want to be amenable to a Templar?” Altaïr asked, grouchy. “Even if she will apparently join us.”

Ezio laughed again, drawing a glare from Altaïr. He switched to Italian to tell Desmond, “He has no idea at all!”

“Please don’t aggravate him,” Desmond said. “I need him to marry her and have children if I want to be born in the future.”

“I don’t think I can do much at all to sway him. He obviously loved her deeply. That is entirely between her and him,” Ezio said, and while Desmond agreed with him the way he put it was definitely Italian romantics at work.

“If you’re all finished with our favorite pastime of mocking Altaïr,” Malik said. “I suppose this turncoat Altaïr knows will be our first priority if we wish to succeed in Cyprus.”

“I don’t know her,” Altaïr argued.

“She’ll be in Acre,” Desmond said. “For at least the next month.”

“Good, that means we will still have time for your training and getting you clothes,” Malik said, and Desmond winced. “And we’ll have to see if we can help Connor with his Arabic. Does he know much of the region?”

Connor looked back and forth between Malik and Desmond at the sound of his name.

“No, but I can take time to start teaching him that in addition to the Arabic.”

“Good, then that will be the plan for the time being. Meeting adjourned.”

Altaïr stood first, leaving immediately without another word. Malik rolled his eyes and followed after him, and Desmond was sure he wanted the full story.

“What is he so upset about?” Connor asked. “And why was Ezio laughing?”

“We have to get a Templar to change sides and join us so we can have more information on Cyprus. He’s unhappy because the Templar we’ve picked is a woman who has tricked him already,” Desmond said. “Ezio found it funny because we’ve ready his codex. The Templar that we’ll be working with is going to become Altaïr’s wife.”

Connor nodded. “I can see the humor in that. I wish I’d known that it would be possible to change sides earlier in my life.”

Desmond sighed. “The Templars and Assassins of this time are not the Templars and Assassins of your time. Also, Maria Thorpe is not well liked among the Templars. She never truly agreed with them. She only joined to leave England.”

“I see,” Connor said. “You and Malik also said something about me.”

“Yes, we wanted to work on your Arabic some more.”

“I’m ready,” Connor said.

“Alright, then let’s go find a map and we can start doing geography in Arabic,” Desmond said then switched to Italian. “Ezio, would you like to help me teach Connor?”

“Certainly,” Ezio said with a nod.

“Okay,” Desmond said, getting up from the table. “Let’s go get that map then.”