20. December 2nd 2012 ~ San Paolo, Brazil
It was the last place Daniel had expected a precursor artefact to be.
Maybe buried in the ground somewhere, or in the depths of the blue sea, or hidden in an underground military compound would have been more to Daniel's expectations.
But on the wrist of a rich businessman's trophy wife? It was neither to his expectations nor his liking.
But he'd pinpointed it's location and kept his head down as he walked passed civilians in the corridors of a Brazilian stadium. There was a wrestling match today, and the both aforementioned businessman and his wife were attending the spectacle. Daniel made his way towards one of the VIP booths on the upper level. He had bought a last-minute ticket himself, so as to avoid anything unnecessary on his way up. He looked around him and glanced at a large poster on the white-tiled wall next to him.
Wanted: Desmond Miles.
Daniel observed the man's black-and-white photograph idly, wondering briefly if he'd see Desmond today. Daniel hoped not. Laetitia had given him explicit instructions to retrieve the artefact only, and Desmond was to be subdued if he was encountered and captured if it was possible, but possession of the artefact was the priority. Now he could see why. The Templars weren't taking any chances, it seemed, if they were putting up wanted posters for the capture of Desmond Miles and planning to hand out a hefty reward to the person who found him.
But Daniel didn't like the idea of seeing Desmond and leaving him alive. Especially not after what happened in New York.
Daniel shrugged and continued on his way. He sighed to himself as his general cell-phone vibrated. After his discussion with Laetitia about Amanda, there wasn't a hope in Hell that Daniel would leave it in the compound where she or one of her useless operatives could get their hands on it. He looked at the screen. One new message. Gnawing the inside of his cheek, he held the off-button until the phone shut down.
Amanda knew he was on a job. She'd understand.
Daniel climbed up a set of stairs, the humidity of the Brazilian weather making him scowl, the stink in the air rife with stale sweat. He brushed a hand through his hair, wiping the damp off on his clothes, and stood by the entrance of the VIP booth. His targets were already there, the elderly businessman sitting comfortably with his mouth glued to the lips of his far younger wife, who was seated on his lap. A bodyguard stood either side of them, apparently unperturbed by what was going on. The booth had a great view of the wrestling ring, the vague cheering of the crowd below was audible, and it was supplied with its own bar. A smartly-dressed bartender was standing behind the counter drying a glass mug (looking slightly more disturbed by his guests). Daniel stepped in and sat on a red-cushioned stool at the bar, his back to the guards.
The bartender gave him a look.
“Can I help you?” he asked in Portuguese.
Daniel replied just as fluent, “Get me a scotch and soda.”
The bartender hesitated, “Sir, I... is this your booth?”
“Just get me the drink.”
A hand grasped Daniel's shoulder, and he turned his head to look at it.
Bodyguard No. 1 - right-handed. Daniel observed the guard's face. Blonde, abnormally large hands, square-faced.
“Excuse me, sir,” said the guard, “But this is not your booth.”
Daniel turned around on his stool, sitting bent over with his elbows on his thighs, “I think it is,” he looked at the second bodyguard, whose left hand was already twitching over the gun in his holster.
Bodyguard No. 2 - left-handed, bit of a loose cannon, quiet. Round-faced, bald.
The businessman and his wife were staring at Daniel, unappreciative at having been disturbed.
“I'm going to have to ask you to leave, sir,” said the first bodyguard.
Daniel took out his ticket, folded it twice and passed it to the guard, “See for yourself,” he said.
The guard took it in his hands, his large fingers finding it difficult to pull the pages apart.
Daniel took the chance.
He pulled out his own gun (silencer attached, this time) and took no time in shooting the second bodyguard between the eyes, before rising to crack an elbow into the first bodyguard's nose - hearing the sickening crunch as it broke - then thrusting up a palm so that the broken shards of bone entered into the man's brain and killed him. The woman screamed, as did the bartender. The businessman just sat in wide-eyed, open-mouthed shock.
Daniel pointed his gun at the woman, “Shut up,” he said. The woman clamped her mouth shut. “Nobody move,” Daniel looked at the businessman, “I don't need you,” a single, silenced gunshot. The woman let out a sob as her husband's body lost its strength. She looked at Daniel, imploring him with her eyes to let her go. He gestured to the glowing object strapped to her wrist, “Give me that.”
The young woman trembled, whimpering in fear, but slipped off her bracket and threw it to Daniel. He caught it and looked at the artefact, the rough shape of a cube but chiselled like a key, just like the one he'd seen in New York.
Daniel sensed movement behind him, he raised his head and moved in time for the full glass bottle to smash against his shoulder rather than the side of his head. He barked in pain, but shook his arm to check nothing was broken.
“Wrong time to play the hero,” he muttered, grabbing the bartender by the collar, headbutting him in the nose and then throwing him over the counter. The woman screamed again and, seeing her chance to flee, ran out of the booth. Daniel shot at her twice, opening two bloody holes in her back and killing her instantly.
And - lo and behold - who should be standing by the entrance at that moment?
Desmond Miles ran for cover as Daniel shot at him. The gun clicked as he pulled the trigger again, so he muttered a curse under his breath and threw the weapon in Desmond's general direction.
Now was his chance.
Now he could beat the living shit out of Subject 17.
But then the world blurred and rough white silhouettes began dancing before his vision.
“Oh, for fuck's sake...” he grumbled, before holding his head and running out of the booth. He crashed into Desmond on the way, but kept going. He needed to get out. Now.
As he ran for an exit, Daniel saw the white figures running alongside him, in front of him, behind him. They were everywhere. Hundreds of them. He jumped over a railing and pushed passed someone he hadn't seen.
“Run!” cried a horrible, echoing voice, “Run! They're coming!”
Daniel held his head, the screams of women and the cries of children filling his senses, slowing him. He gasped, tears gathering in his eyes. Gunfire roared in his ears, the noise making him shout in a panic. He couldn't tell if the shooting was real or not. Something hard rocked his head and he stumbled back. When he opened his eyes, the figures were gone - which was more than a relief - but Desmond Miles was standing over him.
They were in a garden area, a cobbled pathway surrounded by flowers and trees.
Daniel grunted and jumped to his feet to punch Desmond. Desmond staggered back, but became alert as Daniel came at him again, blocking a second blow. Desmond threw up a fist, but Daniel caught it and pulled the Assassin close before giving him a sharp headbutt followed by a slap. Desmond fell onto the trunk of a tree and shook the pain from his head.
“Jesus...” Daniel heard him mutter.
Daniel stood to his full height, waiting for Desmond to recover. It surprised him, how small Desmond was compared to himself, “Come with me and I'll consider leaving some of you intact,” he said gruffly.
Desmond spat blood and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He faced Daniel and said, “Come back with you to Abstergo so they can make me like you? Or 16?” he put up his fists.
Daniel shrugged, and said nothing more, circling as Desmond approached.
“We can fix it, you know,” Desmond said, “we'll actually try, Cross.”
Daniel, becoming irritated by Desmond's sudden desire to convert him, punched at him again. Desmond moved his head in time, so that Daniel hit the tree. He shouted in pain and Desmond backed up out of Daniel's reach.
“The Templars couldn't give two shits about you, Cross, and you know it!”
“Oh, will you please shut the fuck up!” Daniel barked.
“You betrayed us!” Desmond said, “Why?”
Daniel stared murderously at the other man.
Who was Desmond to say anything?
He ran away from his home with the Assassins in the hope of living a normal life only to be found out and captured by the Templars. At least Daniel was (still) unaware of the fact that the Templars had intended for him to betray the Assassins. In a way, it hadn't been entirely his fault. And now he had no hope of returning to the Assassins - not after everything he had done.
All of this made Daniel's head pound, the tattered memories unable to form and stick together - the things he had seen, the things he thought he had seen and the things he had never seen but could vividly remember: blended together and then fell apart. His eyes widened and he blinked heavily - no longer in the garden. Transported in a flash to some other place - a place he couldn't understand, but a place he thought he knew.
“You betrayed us...” a voice echoed.
Hannah Mueller. Paul Bellamy. He could see them. His Assassin friends.
The people he had betrayed.
“You betrayed us...” they kept saying. Over and over and over again. He held his head and screamed, unable to comprehend and unable to endure. He lashed out at them, blindly, but he hit nothing and they wouldn't fall.
Something hit him, however, and the last thing he felt was the artefact being pulled from his grasp...