After the War is an Assassin's Creed fanon novel written by HiddenSpoon. As a fanfic, it centres on the life of Desmond Miles after the conclusion of the age-old war between the Templars and the Assassins.
Chapter One: Rat Piss
Desmond couldn't sleep.
He had tried, of course. The war between the Templars and the Assassins had been brought to an end. He told Lucy he'd rest once he had the Apple, but then Juno had...intervened. That was how desmond prefered to think of whatever happened in the Temple of Juno, beneath the Colloseum. Right now, he just needed rest...
Then again, he'd done enough resting inside the Animus, even if it had put him through the most emotionally testing position he had ever been in. Sixteen had been killed - no, not killed. Deleted. Like a virus. Like he meant nothing more than pixels on a screen. That, and the Animus 2.0 had forced him to stay in. It made him feel so helpless. Like a rat inside a cage.
Like a prisoner. An unwanted outcast, languishing alone in the darkest pits of the Animus. Or was it hell itself? A modern-day hell of pixels and light and technology? Desmond found it easy to get the two mixed up.
He decided that maybe he should try to take his mind off such things. He reached over to the left of his sleeping bag and grabbed those cheap pain-suppressant pills Rebecca had got him. 'Low budget', she had said. Like fuck, Desmond had thought, but he hadn't said it out loud.
Focus, he told himself. Think of the good stuff.
You know some Italian from reliving Ezio's memories so damn much. Maybe you could get an Italian girlfriend? You practically know your way around Florence as well. That might help. Might.
The hideous, ungodly taste of the pain-suppressants interrupted Desmond's train of thought as he dropped one into his mouth. He clenched his teeth and squinted. Not only did the pills taste horrible, they left a lingering taste of rotten meat. Desmond thought it was rotten meat, at least.
It was one theory he didn't want to test.
He also didn't even want to look at whatever was in the see-through plastic bottle next to where he'd put the pills previously. Then again, foul as it tasted, Desmond was thirsty. Very thirsty.
Having removed the lid, Desmond sniffed the contents within, wondering if this was the best idea he'd ever had. It smelt more than slightly of diesel oil. Desmond wouldn't exactly be surprised if that was one of the ingrediants. Shaun said he had made it himself - what had he called it? A 'family recipe', was it? This had only led Desmond into thinking that Shaun's mother was a pig and his father was a zombified skunk.
The French taunter would be proud, he thought to himself smugly.
He looked at the digital clock next to his head. The time said 00:02. For a minute, Desmond could have sworn he saw '72' instead of '02'. After contemplating for a few seconds, he narrowed it down to paranoia and thought, Fuck this.
The wind whistled outside as if some ancient, forgotten wind god had put his fingers to his mouth and began whistling silently. The rain hammered down on the roof continuosly, making a barely audible and somewhat calming sound. Occasionally, an animal would make a noise, breaking the somewhat unenthusiastic orgy of noises that served as a relaxing silence. A bat using echo-location, an owl hooting, amongst others. For just a few short minutes, the whole world seemed in harmony with itself.
A few minutes later, Desmond spat out the waste he'd forced down his throat.
Shaun should really be shot for brewing this rat piss.
Chapter Two: Lowlife
Desmond woke to the sound of Shaun's voice.
"Ah. How nice of you to join us in the land of the living."
Desmond sat up moved his head from left to right, hearing the satisfying sounds of bones crack. "You deserve to be shot," Desmond replied flatly, "for giving me that waste you call a drink. What time is it?"
"Seven thirty," Rebecca said. She was sitting at a camping seat, holding what apeared to be a burger over a hastily-assembled fireplace, coposed of little more than paper, dry leaves and twigs. "I got us some food. It's not exactly fit for a king, but it'll have to do. Sorry, guys."
Shaun walked over to another seat and picked up a packet of marshmellows. "I'm not exactly used to luxury myself," he said, trying to ignore the strange green fluid that was hugged to one side of the packet. "Sanctury under the Villa Auditore was cosy, in a way, I suppose, but I agree with Desmond - our ancestors had it better than us."
"When..." Desmond muttered, trying to get up. "When did I say that?"
"Well," Shaun said, in a very technical-sounding voice, "I suppose you didn't exactly say it, but you did put it across as some form of...what's the word I'm looking for? Subliminal? I suppose. You put it across as a subliminal message during your Animus sessions with Ezio. He got a bath with Caterina Sforza, you had to hide from the Templars for, what, seven years? The good old days, eh? When we didn't have to worry about the disaster that would one day befall Earth, when-"
"Shaun." Rebecca said shaprly.
"Please. Shut. The fuck. Up."
Shaun's only response was to rise from his seat and to stuff another marshmellow in his mouth. He trotted away to eat in peace while Desmond finally managed to rise from what passed as his bed. He managed to make his way over to the seat Shaun had sat in previously before he asked "Do we have anything to drink?"
Midway through her burger, Rebecca pointed to some Coca-Cola six-packs sitting on a box. She didn't exactly point with confidence - more like she was inn the middle of a battle, and she could only be half-assed to send her troops into the fight. Desmond reached over to one of the packs and tore free a can. It felt as cold as a burning penguin. Not one to complain, he popped it open and drank. The sizzling fluid flowed down his throat offered little relief from his growing thirst, but it was something, at least. Desmond thanked any god that was out there for small victories. Then again, Altair and Ezio had been aetheists, so he probably was, naturally, as well.
Thank fuck, he thought. That'll do.
That'll do fine.
Almost out of sheer randomness, Desmond found himself asking, "So, do we need to reclaim any more Pieces of Eden?"
Rebecca turned to him, the remians of her burger in one hand, the other casually lying on her leg. "I guess. I mean, now that the Templars are done for, the other Assassins can claim the other pieces even easier now. I got a message a few days ago, saying none of the other teams are equipped well enough to make the journey to Masyaf, so..."
"We're going there?" Desmond asked, his eyes widening slighty.
"I guess so," Rebecca said, nodding. She took another bite out of her burger and turned to where Shaun was sitting.
"You hear that, Shaun?" she asked, almost mockingly. "A perfect oppourtunity for you to bore us to death with stuff about the Third Crusade."
"See, Rebecca," Shaun replied casually, "if you were civilised in even the loosest sense of the word, you'd notice that Syrian history is very interesting. In fact, Desmond probably knows more than me, seeing as he's lived Altair's memories and seen things we'd never have found out from a history book. I wonder if you could put that stuff down in an exam?" Shaun let his chin rest in his hand, and began pacing around the room.
"Doubt it," he said eventually. "You'd probably just fail the test."
Desmond nodded. "My history teacher was a dick, anyway."
Chapter Three: On the Road
All their stuff had to be loaded onto the van. The Animus, the food and drink, the Animus' computer, the power converters, everything. There was barely enough room.
Desmond swore as he lifted the front end of the Animus up and realised how heavy it really was. He promptly dropped it and shook his aching hands.
"Hey!" Rebecca called. "Careful with the Animus! Do you know how long it took to make that thing?"
Desmond frowned. "A few hours?" he called back half-heartedly.
"Two and a half years!" Rebecca shouted back furiously. "If anyone broke that damn thing, I'd tear off their head, burn it and throw it in a cesspit!"
Desmond gave Rebecca a look. The look on Desmond's face said a lot of things, but it said 'I don't give a fuck' more than anything else. It had been hours since he's eaten proper food and days since he'd even seen the smallest ray of sunlight. As far as he could tell, he had an excuse.
Sighing, Desmond walked over to on of the power generators, unplugged it and lifted it up. He forced himself to think of the Apple in the Masyaf Library, how he'd be able to claim it, use its powers even...
Yet, somehow, it just wasn't as uplifting as it should have been. Once again, he forced himself to concentrate on the more positive side, and remembered his idea of maybe getting an Italian girlfriend.
If they're all as good-looking as Cristina, it's worth a go, he thought.
By this time, Desmond had made his way to the top of the stairs, out of the underground bunker that he'd been holed up in for so damn long. His dad had said it was 'for his own protection'. As if it made any kind of difference. The remenants of the Templars were scattered and disorganised, but brutal nonetheless. Desmond had heard multiple reports of innocent people slaughtered for little to no reason whatsoever, the Templar cross carved crudely into their back.
He was still surprised no-one had guessed what was going on. That no-one could have figured out that they were more than just dangerously insane scavengers.
Emphasis on 'were', Desmond thought. Abstergo had been reduced to mere rubble after the Final Hours of the war, its employees and resources scattered like dice from an unsteady hand. Desmond had seen the explosion tear apart the tower.
It was incredible...
Shaking his head, Desmond recovered from his trance carefuly placed the power generator in the back of the van. He saw Shaun and Rebecca come up from the bunker's entrance with the Animus, Shaun himself sweating like mad.
"The foodstuffs are still down there, Desmond," Rebecca said with no trouble whatsoever. "Could you get them?"
"Yeah, sure. Un momento."
Desmond walked down into the bunker with a smug grin on his face.
It's started, he told himself. Ezio gave me a lot more than just free-running skills.
As he made his way into the bunker, Desmond noticed how run-down and filthy it really was. The hastily-placed paint on the wall was peeling off in chunks, and even though the walls were made of solid brick, multiple mouse holes had sprung up since Desmond had last checked. There were patches of dirt and grime here and there, with varying sizes, and the stench smelt like a child's stink bomb experiment gone horribly wrong.
Ignoring the smells, Desmond hastily stacked multiple food containers on top of each other and, still holding them, ran outside to see Shaun drinking from the same bottle he had drunk from two nights ago - the one with Shaun's 'family recipe' in it.
"That's my bottle," Desmond said.
Shaun turned to Desmond. "I think you'll find it's mine."
Desmond frowned. "That's my bottle."
"It's my bottle."
"That's my fucking bottle, you weight-hogging asshole."
"Guys," Rebecca said, "we're gonna need to get going soon. And yes, Desmond, it is yours. I recognise it from the torn wrapping."
Shaun looked at the bottle curiously, as if checking for some sign of a sample of anonymous alien DNA. "Oh." He said, turning his head to Desmond. "You don't have herpes or anything, I assume?"
"No," said Desmond, adopting a disgruntled look, "just a really bad cough."
Shaun spat out his drink, and Desmond smirked.
It's not so bad, I guess.