Two weeks. I wonder what he’s doing. All this time in the Animus is killing me. I’d give anything for a pause, a time when I don’t have to give a damn. The end of the world draws near, the sun grows violent. This immense door at the other end of the cave stresses me. Sometimes, I wonder if I will manage to make it open in time, and if there is truly a solution awaiting us on the other side.
Headaches again. I hate it. Why do they have to all shout, howl and whisper in my head? If only I could make them all shut up… But I guess I can’t by myself. Well, at least I have the Templars to help me calm down… in a way. Never thought I would say that, but I miss Dana… and Desmond… I almost miss Shaun, it’s to say.
“No, you can’t. He is in the Animus.”
“Well take him out of it!”
“Urgh… Fine. I’ll come back later then. Great gods…”
I wake up, my eyes all fuzzy. I can’t see a crap for a minute, with a headache eating my worn-out patience. I sit and try rubbing it away but after a few seconds I understand it’s not going to happen. I swing my legs to the side and stand, stretching. Darn that machine is killing my muscles. I can feel my patience is short. It only takes a second before I write an e-mail to tell everyone I’ll go take a long walk.
I send it, then I make my way to the short ledge I found near the first of the little stories Juno showed me. I climb up to the top, and sit down on the pretty large platform overlooking the room I was in moments ago. I tilt my head backwards and start thinking. I let out a happy sigh and close my eyes, finally feeling calm for the first time in days. Or at least, better than usual.
“What do you mean you ‘don’t know’?”
“Don’t shout at the emissary Mercer.”
“Well may the emissary tell me exactly what he means by ‘I don’t know where he is’?”
“It means exactly what I said.”
“How the hell can that even happen?!”
Rebecca steps in, pushing me away from Shaun.
“He wrote an e-mail, which he sent to everyone here. It said he would be gone for an hour, maybe two.”
“It has already been six hours and we haven’t found him yet.”
I look at her intensely, and suddenly I have a bad feeling about all this.
“And you haven’t looked around for him…?”
“We did. We called him all from everywhere underground, and scouted every meter outside the cavern.”
I cannot help but frown as she says that.
“You ‘called him’?”
“Yeah... No one here is much of an acrobat, except for Des.”
In a second, I decide:
“I’ll go have a look around.”
Then, before anyone can protest or comment, I start running towards the staircase on the left.
It takes me some time, but after a bit of effort, I finally find Desmond. There was no way anyone else would have managed to find him, considering where he is. He is sitting on the floor, his back to a wall, his head tilted to look up. I am about to call him out, but then I hear a soft sound coming from him. I stop myself right away, and after a second, I understand he is sleeping. The sound I hear is a light snore. I can’t believe my ears. Erica and Shaun have been looking for him for the last six hours, and he’s sleeping?!
“Desmond!” I call out, feeling myself quite literally bristle.
The man jumps and opens his eyes, ready to jump on his feet, looking to find the origin of the shout. When he sees me, he seems to calm down and starts rubbing his eyes, which makes him look like a child.
“What?” He whines, unrepentant. “I was just taking a nap away from everyone.”
I can’t help the doleful smile that spread on my lips.
“Well you have an interesting idea of naps, don’t you? I mean, I’m fairly sure that when it’s been SIX HOURS it’s not much of a nap anymore, is it?”
As I talk I can see his expression pass from mildly irritated to wanting to call me out on the shit he assumes I’m saying. He gets up and crosses his arms, visibly still slightly put back by the spikes lining my own back, no matter how ‘reassured’ he looks.
“Six hours? I can’t have been out here more than an hour or two, Shaun or ‘Becca would’ve called out or come to get me if it had been more than that.”
“They did.” I answer plainly. “Now if you could go back to saving the whole world, instead of taking naps in the middle of lost First Civ. temples, I’m sure we’d all appreciate it.”
At those words, I see red.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll get back to being someone else, in a machine where I spend ninety percent of awake time, won’t I?”
I point to Alexander, walking closer with each word.
“Do you have any idea of what it feels like to spend all your time being someone else, only to get invaded by even more of other people’s memories as soon as you get back in your own body? Do you even know how it feels to share your mind with two, three, four people, talking to you, telling you that you are them, ordering you to do one thing or the other?”
I turn around as I feel my eyes well up, unwilling to let Mercer see me weak. I roll my fists into balls, feeling my nails dig into my palm. I can sense blood starting to roll down my hands where the skin broke. From behind me, I hear nothing for a few seconds, nothing else than Alex’s breathing. Then, a faint mumble:
“Of course I do… where do you think they go…?”
Surprised, I turn around, wondering who ‘they’ are. But all I see is a faint trace of black where Mercer is turning around the farthest corner.
I see Alex coming down from the right, stomping his way to us. I can see shivers under his skin, like he’d be about to transform. But by the time he arrives to our level, he seems to have gained back some control over himself.
“So, did you find him?” I ask. Although unsure of whether I should ask him yet, I need to know; he is the world’s only hope of salvation, after all.
He sighs. I can feel Rebecca’s attention turn to our exchange, as the shape shifter sighs.
“He was up there,” he explains, his finger pointing to where he just came from. “He was sleeping.”
“Sleeping?” I ask, incredulous. “It’s been six hours!”
Mercer shakes his head.
“I guess he really needed it. He hadn’t noticed the time passing.” He looks at me. “Does he sleep enough?”
“Hardly,” I admit, scratching the back of my head. I continue, “He always has nightmares and keeps waking up every hour or so. Not exactly the best to get energy back.”
Alex looks at me incredulously, a question obviously on his tongue. Before he can ask it though, I hear Rebecca get up from where she had been working on her Baby. She comes closer, commenting:
“We thought of giving him sleeping pills, but we’re scared that it would make the Bleeding Effect worse.”
“’Bleeding Effect’?” I ask. Somehow, I feel like I should know what this is.
“Mhm. Did you not know about it?”
“No,” I admit reluctantly.
Shaun looks at me tiredly. Rebecca, incredulously. However, she still answers:
“When in the Animus,” she starts, while Shaun seems to see something behind me and go to it. I assume it is Desmond finally arriving. “you live other people’s lives.” I turn around and looks at Desmond and Shaun conversing, and I can see the Bleeding Assassin’s dark circles plain as day, even from where I’m standing. “It can cause… a transfer. It reactivates memories that should have only been instinctual memories, or plain latent. It can be quite useful for History, or, as we use it most, to help the world or the Assassins’ cause. The only problem is…” she seems to hesitate there, as if she felt reluctant to tell an important secret. “The only problem is that, this can cause the Subject to see, hear or feel things that are not theirs to experience.”
“Like me, then,” I comment, turning back to Rebecca.
She looks at me, curious.
“What do you mean?”
“Well… When I was starting to discover my… um… state, I was quite angry. Whenever I needed to feed the Virus, I would either go after the army, Gentek employees or even plain civilians. Each and every one of them…” I paused. I looked Rebecca in the eye. “I still hear them. Crying. Ordering. Remembering.”
“Hm.” She laughs. “Too bad I’m not a psychologist or a bioscience researcher. You and Desmond would be quite interesting to look into.” She takes a quick look at her Animus 2.0, as if to corroborate what she is saying. Then she looks back at me and smiles. “But I think I have way enough to do with my Baby here.”
I chance a look at Shaun and Desmond, intensely arguing about something, further away. I can’t help but smile, too.