- 1 Introduction
- 2 Recollection 01 - Rescuing Bahadur Shah II
- 3 Recollection 02 - Merciless Saviour
- 4 Recollection 03 - Guru
- 4.1 Prologue
- 4.2 Chapter 1: Extracts from the Logbook of an Abstergo Employee
- 4.3 Chapter 2: Memories
- 4.4 Chapter 3: Thrown Back in Time
- 4.5 Chapter 4: Another Interruption by Abstergo Employees
- 4.6 Chapter 5: Practical Experience
- 4.7 Chapter 6: Second Chance
- 4.8 Chapter 7: Abstergo's CEO Arrives
- 4.9 Chapter 8: The Reward
- 4.10 Chapter 9: The Busy Boss
- 4.11 Chapter 10: The Defence of the Company Fortress
- 4.12 Chapter 11: Hacked by Erudito
- 4.13 Chapter 12: A Traitor, A Saviour
- 4.14 Epilogue
Assassin's Creed: Independence - Memoirs of the Revolt is a series of short stories written by Shubham Puri ( http://www.wattpad.com/ShubhamPuri ) and Nathan Algren ( http://www.wattpad.com/srshercule ) and first released on Wattpad itself. It is set during the Revolt of 1857 in India, often called 'India's first war of independence', and the first few stories follow an Indian Assassin Ishita.
Here is provided the full text of the releases so far. They are under share-alike license, under which the original authors must be mentioned while sharing.
Recollection 01 - Rescuing Bahadur Shah II
Chapter 1: Storming the Fortress
Abstergo Helix Server: DNA SEQUENCE #IN734 (Assassin Ishita of the Indian Brotherhood) – Night of May 10-11, 1857. LOADING SUCCESSFUL.
I knew that the day would be historical. And it was, for most people. Yet when I recollect that day, the memories that come to my mind take me back many days.
Now, late that night, we were outside the Lal Qila, observing the fortifications and planning our course of action. We had expected fortifications, but not like the ones we saw. Which is why we only had some thirty to forty men backing us up.
Fateh Singh quickly drew my attention to this fact - stating that it would be better to shoot ourselves in the head than go for a head-on confrontation - when a Sepoy rubbed salt in our wounds. We were low on bullets since most had been used up in our previous confrontations. I suggested taking the help of our "wild friends", that referring to the elephants, which had been caged by the British.
Which was a bit of a risky strategy, since the British had trained these elephants for their cavalry. We would need some really strong stimulus to get the desired effect. The only thing in our favour was that the elephants were quite cramped.
My thoughts of this elephant stampede were interrupted by a much more practical and urgent consideration - how to get past the entrance. There were at least eight guards, and there might have been more behind the walls. With fifty bullets, and slightly less men, our best bet was to give one to each, and give the remnant ammunition to the more skilled marksmen among the Sepoys, which is exactly what Fateh Singh ordered.
Maybe I should have explained my plan then and there itself instead of keeping the suspense, but down the vantage point I went, and experimented with a new sort of dart that I had developed - a chemical weapon with high amount of liquor in it. And it worked. A nice show began, as one of the guards shouted to another in a seemingly drunk fashion, "Oy! You luck...lucky bloke! You... you may have won... your bet but... but... remember - when my... my day comes... you'll be... literally...paup...pauperized!"
This only enraged the other guard, who called him a pauper, causing widespread laughter in the nearby guards.
But then the argument grew more intense, with the first guard, whom I hit with a dart, saying, "You just see, you just see - the natives here have a saying - "Har kutte ka din ata hai" (Literally, 'Every dog's day comes', reflecting that everyone gets lucky someday) - it is only a matter of hours, I say - until mine comes!"
The other made more derogatory remarks that how the first guard had been reduced to the level of the natives, and how he must commit suicide if he loses a few more bets. However, more ridiculing led to enraging the guard more than ever, and he quickly threw a dagger towards the other guard's face. Well, he was lucky enough to dodge it for a moment, but got wounded for the knife hit his shoulder. A third guard, who came in-between to stop the two, accidentally got shot by him, instead of the drunken guard. And instead of realizing his mistake, the drunken guard instead charged and brutally stabbed the guard who had shot him. Two other guards arrived, but by now the show had become too violent for anyone to enjoy, and I returned to Fateh Singh.
"Who is it," asked he. I must have been in the shadows, so I walked into the moonlight, joking with him, "You forgot so quickly? Never mind, you can thank me later."
I told him about my little experiment, how I accomplished the task of "forcing them to turn on each other."
Meanwhile, another poison-affected guard came. I had lost interest in the fight, and Fateh Singh drew my attention to the fact that only three guards were left. The poisoned guards had killed each other in the end.
Fateh Singh quickly dispatched the three guards with throwing knives. I tried asking him who taught him, and he promised to tell me later.
With this, Fateh Singh, who was ably commanding the Sepoys, ordered them to hold the line at the gate, while we moved inside, quietly, under cover of the night. The first cage was not too far off, and we reached there quickly, avoiding contact with anyone. All we had to do was not to leave the dark areas, which were plenty, thanks to whoever designed the area with walls in all orientations; and to the many plants and trees who covered our moves.
Fateh Singh remarked, "Alright... here it is, the grand moment. Hindustan Zindabad!"
And he kicked open the cage, firing a shot in the air simultaneously. This did two things. Well actually three things, now that I think of it - first, it was a signal to our Sepoys to move in towards the cage; second, it scared the elephants, who ran in all directions, crushing anything in their way; and third, it served as a warning to the firangis - that they are not the ones to rule us, that this nation and its people do not need a foreign power to take care of us, for us.
The elephant stampede worked well. A few of them died, a few wounded, and the remaining ones terrified and shaken by this sudden turn of events. By this the Sepoys gathered near the first cage, and the two of us started our move towards the second cage. Again, the path was practically empty. It seemed as if nothing had happened, and the night was quiet for now, just as any night would be.
The second cage, however, was a shocking sight that horrified both of us alike.
I told Fateh Singh to open the cage.
As it opened, many soldiers - Sepoys - escaped. Apparently, the elephants had been moved out long ago, and the cage had been filled with prisoners. Many of these were civilians, and not a single one of them that I saw did not have one or few fingers cut off. One even had both his arms cut off.
As Fateh Singh blankly gazed at the escaping prisoners, I thought for a while - if we don't continue with the task at hand, many more will end like this.
With that, seeing that the path was clear, we called our band of Sepoys to follow us, and on we went to the Emperor's residence within the fortress. There was no resistance at all.
A few Sepoys and the two of us called out to the Emperor from below his window only - that we wanted his blessings for this revolution of ours, we wanted to be under his able leadership, and that we had risen up against the British. Without a doubt, age might have weakened him physically, but it had not in the slightest way withered his authority, his power and his image is the 'Jahanpanah'.
The Emperor gazed for a few minutes from the window, and in his gaze I could see clearly a sense of dilemma. Finally, he came down to talk to us. He was concerned about how he would escape, with him being practically a captive of the British. We did not need to assure him, the Sepoys did that in unison. Fateh Singh made a signal, and within seconds, the Sepoys formed a neat turtle formation for assuring safe passage to the Emperor. We walked a few metres ahead of the group, since we did not want them to encounter any unwelcome guests that the British might send to have a nice little chat with us, or worse - to kill us.
And there had been reinforcements from their side. But by the time we saw this, it was a little too late. The walls of the Qila blocked every other passage, and anyways - the English Musketeers - at least fifteen of them - had seen us. Their commander stepped forward, his authoritative gaze not faltering for a moment.
"If you two just make it quiet and easy for us, I can tell my men to have mercy on you and let you live..."
A nice offer, but Fateh Singh challenged him, "What do you want, you evil firangi?"
The Commander added, coming close to Fateh Singh, "Oh, didn't I make myself clear," and loudly shouted, "Hands up where I can see them, and no funny tricks!"
We did so, and that must have made him happy. I could almost see him smiling. He didn't know that soon he'd be crying and we'd be the ones smiling.
"Now, that's good... now, if you'd both just kneel down so that we can arrest you... But once again, I don't like any funny trick you Indians might play!"
We had no choice but to do so, but just as a distraction, I said, "It's not funny..." This enraged him, and even Fateh Singh warned me to stop or he might just shoot. Hearing this, the Commander held him by the chin, almost as if strangling him. "What did you say? Do you think that we are cruel? It is you who are cruel, you insolent savages!"
I just flicked my hand a little, taunting the commander, "Oh, you'll like it a lot..."
A volley of fifteen shots, and an infinite amount of smoke engulfed us all. No one could see anything. The Commander was scolding his Musketeers loudly that he had told those "untrained blokes" to not fire, when suddenly I heard a painful groan. Fateh Singh had twisted his arm. "If we're savages," he began, when I came in front of the commander, and completed the line - "It's only because you firangis have made us that way." And that was the last thing the Commander ever heard. He might have gotten away in the smoke, but his scolding the Musketeers gave him away and got him killed. Not that I feel bad for him, but it really was confusing to figure out in that smoke who had shot whom.
Once again, we continued, and were almost at the gate, when a guard beckoned my companion - "Wait a minute... I know you... Fateh Singh! This time I'll not spare you!"
His leaping onto my companion even scared me a little. Though Fateh Singh was pinned to the ground, he refused to take our help. "Go! I handled him back at Barrackpore; I'll handle this angrez now!" He didn't let me speak much, just saying, "He's much more important! Go!"
That one guard was no big deal for Fateh Singh, and he quickly wrestled with the guard, stabbing his arm in the process. I turned back repeatedly. He didn't need my help. In the end, Fateh Singh shot the incapacitated guard.
We were out of the fortress gates now. He ran up to us, when suddenly he turned and ran back. I followed him for some distance, seeing him take on a group of five English swordsmen that had followed him. He disarmed one, and killed three more with the sword, as if it were nothing. The last guard disarmed him. But that guard had forgotten about Fateh Singh being an Assassin, like me - he too had a hidden blade - and this blade wounded the guard. Unfortunately, he was able to hit it with an axe and break it. That was my moment to save my friend - a throwing knife in the right spot. It worked, and I asked him to come with us, as we were nearly out of the area.
He pointed to his knee, saying, "Just go... I'm a bit slowed down by this wound here... I'll catch up... Maybe we'll meet later..."
I should have understood what he meant then and there itself. Maybe I could have done something about it. Or perhaps his decision was right, and letting the Jahanpanah escape was far more important.
"No, I'll never leave you here! It was you who taught me, 'no man left behind', and now..."
But he didn't let me speak, instead interrupting and ordering, this time loudly, to go. He then added, "It's for your own sake!"
I couldn't take it anymore - he was almost begging me to follow his orders. "If that's the case... I accept. But within a few days, do try to rendezvous with me and the others."
I kept looking at him for some time, hoping to get a response, but his gaze just pleaded with me to go, and after a few seconds, I slowly turned and went.
Chapter 2: Down the Memory Lane
Winter has set in, and we can all feel the cold in the surroundings. Suddenly, almost as if a shadow, I see someone coming.
It feels as if the month of Kvār has arrived. Everywhere around one can see puddles. Here grow many types of wild grass, and the many green trees that decorate the landscape. One can almost smell the rotting seeds in the water. I see many children playing, jumping in the puddles, and I remember how with just a little outing in this weather I caught a dreadful fever. It was when home-remedies did not work that a local medicine-man was called in to heal me, and that medicine man was none but Fateh Singh. He regularly checked temperature, administered herbal medicines and so on, until one day it was gone.
He knew the cure for many diseases, and he would carry out diagnosis and treatment whenever anyone was ill in the locality.
The second time we met was three years back, in 1854. We were both recruits in the Brotherhood, and we trained together. From our earliest days together as recruits, we were the best of friends. I am reminded of the many days that we spent together. I vividly remember our little games of chess, which every time, I used to win, as he often confused the moves of a Bishop and a Castle. For this he was ridiculed by everyone. But who knew, that that person who always lost chess, would be such a good player, a hero, I should say, at strategy and its execution in real life!
For all his achievements and defending the Assassin Den twice against Company attacks, he was made an Apprentice in 1855. He successfully managed the local den, and it was only after having an administrator like him that he earned the respect of people.
One day when the two of us were tasked with taking down a rogue Brother, he got badly wounded. No one else came to his aid, but me, and this made our friendship stronger than ever. He quickly recovered and was hale and hearty once again.
Then there was this strange case involving my own brother - we used to call him Johnnie - who was declared a traitor to the nation. This was in 1856. I was kept in the dark about the whole matter until one day, Fateh Singh came to me with news that the target - Johnnie - had been hunted down. He said that the Assassins had tried their best to save him, but the Company - which more or less had become one with the Templar Order - arrived with superior weapons and had routed all our forces. "The Kompanee arrested him. And in a political move, they put him on trial, with the pretence of giving him a fair chance to respond to the charges." From what I know, the trial was rigged, and he was declared guilty in the first hearing itself, and sentenced to death.
What I didn't know was that the British, who are absolutist tyrants, had also burnt down our house, and looted all our assets.
Sitting in one corner of the bureau, I remember myself discussing the matter with my parents, and how to raise funds to sustain ourselves, when Fateh Singh showed me a large diamond he had in his possession. Initially, I declined to take it, but he replied calmly, "This once belonged to my grandmother. She used to tell me, 'Please put it to good use.' And is helping a friend in need not good use? Please accept this. I owe you at least this much." Slowly he convinced me and thus changed our life altogether.
Then came the year 1857, when the Revolt began. Together, we stood in support of Mangal Pandey, the great revolutionary who led us on this path. Together we faced punishment for our role, and together we escaped that punishment. I remember how, he used to say, "This rebellion is a bit too brutal. It appears that what we're doing is facilitating the removal of one tyrant only to be replaced by another. So many lives lost... so many families... destroyed. Utterly. It appears as if we've lost all our humanity, and have started killing the guilty and innocent alike. I just want it to end... to end... to end... and peace restored...."
From what I overheard his friends say, he himself had lost his family to the Company. Yet he never let grief and bad memories get the better of him, and always displayed great mercy to those who surrendered.
The recollection disappears slowly. The sun has risen up, and the day has now started. I can see out of the window, a crow flying, coming near the window, perhaps seeking shelter. In my trembling hands, I still have the letter from his brother, and its ant-like lines start fading away as by each passing moment, I find it more and more difficult to believe, and keep asking myself - "Is he really no more?"
Recollection 02 - Merciless Saviour
Abstergo Helix Server: DNA SEQUENCE #EN779: John Rogers, a Templar and British Officer
24th September, 1857:
It's been said by everyone that tomorrow we'll do some great deed. God only knows what that is, but everyone knows it's something to do with this sudden uprising. Officers Outram and Havelock had concluded the meeting when the point of this 'great deed' was raised, and I wonder whether they did not want to talk about it or they themselves did not know.
I tried asking other soldiers if they knew anything, but nobody dared to press Outram and Havelock - that was how much authority they held. The whole day was spent in suspense, and at the end of the day, all I know is that I am supposed to meet the two Officers early tomorrow morning, armed to the teeth with four flintlocks, two swords and at least one short blade.
Chapter 1: Relief of Lucknow
25th September, 1857:
I've taken everything I need – supplies, weapons, ammunition, and my command sword, otherwise who would know that I am a commanding officer!
Precisely as I thought – our objective for today was to quell the rebels from the land of Lucknow, and secure our garrisons in the region. I was tasked with securing the garrisons. For this task, I was given two regiments, of hundred men each – one on foot, and one cavalry regiment. Our first advance went on well enough. First the Musketeers would weaken the enemy, and in the shadow of the smoke, the cavalry would charge and finish off any remnant forces.
The garrison, which was under their control until an hour ago, had been heavily defended with captured artillery. That did slow us down, but was not enough to break our resolve. What do these people think? A few cannons will send us running back out of the area?
Anyways – the cavalry drew their fire, which was simple enough, considering our mobility and theirs, while the Musketeers shot the cannon operators.
Effortlessly, we stormed in and secured the first garrison.
But now was the big part – an emergency meeting has been called in by Officer Havelock.
"This was a preview. The real thing is yet to come," is how he began.
Well everyone knows what the real thing looks like, but he meant it a bit differently than we all thought. "The next garrison will not be easy to secure. First, they have better and more artillery..."
At this point, one of my Lieutenants interrupted, "Sir, can we not use the artillery installed here? I mean it would just..."
Officer Outram said casually, but behind his voice, I could sense deep anger, "Of course we could, Lieutenant, but we don't want to lose something of the order of a hundred men for just one shell on their cannons. Besides, they might have already destroyed the cannons here while we were storming this place."
They might have...? How ignorant! They had – at least when it came to the cannons at the front. But who could dare say that?
"Gentlemen," continued Havelock, "besides everything, they are under the command of that merciless Assassin Ishita. She'd lose a thousand men just to see one of us dead. You know what I told you all about her. Now get to work. Time is short..."
A long, protracted meeting with the Officers, and the end result? Well, practically nothing. Those blokes sure know how to waste precious time.
I've resupplied my men and prepared them to face the challenges well. We'll be sending in twenty-five men to draw their fire, while the rest of us will flank their garrison from both directions. Sounds good? Time to execute the plan.
Date unknown, 1857:
Apparently it's been a few days since the "relief of Lucknow", and we've won, but I am here, at an unknown place.
I've been bandaged at multiple places, and it hurts a lot to write this small note.
Ahhh.... I cannot write anymore...
A few days after last entry, 1857:
I feel much better now. Wounds are healing, and I am under the care of an able 'doctor', if you can use that word to describe her.
Apparently, I had been hit by a cannonball during our flanking charge, and someone had taken me here. The only thing is that I do not see any familiar face here.
One day, I asked this doctor, "Where am I? What will become of me in this terrible revolt?"
For the first time in my life, I thought of this revolt as futile, wasteful and a punishment upon us English and the Rebels alike.
She just replied, "Somewhere safe. No one will dare touch you in here."
There was someone at the door. I was immediately told to hide under the bed. I could have a look just clear enough to see that the person at the door was some Redcoat. I could not hear the conversation between the Doctor and this Redcoat, but it was clear that after some time, the Redcoat was convinced and went out peacefully.
This remained the routine for the next few days, and after the first time, instead of one, at least four Redcoats came. I wonder what it was that they wanted...
I gathered my courage and asked her one day, "How did I end up here?"
"You were wounded by the artillery during your charge towards the fortress. My men brought you here."
"So you're the leader of... a rescue team?"
"You might want to call it that, but I consider it more of a warrior's duty towards another. You don't just abandon your wounded comrades in arms. You know what, my friend and mentor once taught me, that the most important thing a soldier should remember is to leave no man behind."
She turned to go, when I asked her one last question – "What do they want, those English?"
"Those Redcoats? They come every day without wanting anything specific. Sometimes it's just a nice distraction from the dark events of these days for me, hearing their funny demands."
It's been around a month since I ended up here, and I've pretty much healed entirely.
I asked the Doctor when I can leave.
"By tomorrow, I'd say, judging by your condition."
[ABSTERGO HELIX SERVER: ERROR 789 – UNEXPECTED DESYNCHRONIZATION]
Chapter 2: Citizen E's Revelation
The day after last entry, 1857:
I am surprised at the kindness shown by these people – not only did they save me and take care of me for so long, but they also ensured me safe passage. Meanwhile I've heard that Sir Henry Havelock is now no more.
This horse-cart is headed towards Madras, where I've heard that the revolt is much less intense. Hopefully I'll get some peace there at last. I just want to escape this entire atmosphere of war, bloodshed and death that plagues this place like a dark cloud.
I hope to get in touch as soon as possible with my friends in the Madras Army.
5th November, 1859:
It's been a long time since I've written these accounts. Over this time, a lot has changed. The Revolt has been subdued, repressed, and the revolutionaries brutally punished. However, for its incompetence to handle the circumstances leading up to the revolt, the British East India Company is now no longer the ruler of these lands. The Government of India Act, which got Royal Assent on 2nd August, 1858, called for a liquidation of the Company and made India a Crown Colony, due to "grave defects" in the current system of Government in India.
This year, we had been tasked with putting down a few minor pockets of resistance in South India. Unlike most Commanders, I never let a single 'rebel' face torture. And only my friends know how I even began to question the very use of the term "rebel" for these people. However, some backstabbing bloke reported me, and I was thrown out of the Military. They said it was 'quite lenient' on their part to do just that.
But I am happy. Besides, after my last mission, I was no longer in a condition to fight. And even if I were, the memories of the love, care and kindness of those people back in Lucknow would never have let me raise my sword again.
Today I am leaving for London on a Steamer. I've packed everything, and I am being accompanied by a friend – Jack Hodson of the Madras Army.
Moments before departure, I was handed over a letter by a local resident. It went like this:
Mr. John Rogers,
Aboard the RMS Calpurnia
I believe it is time to clear a few things up. You might be wondering who I am or with what purpose did I save you. Here's something you don't know. You might have come to know about Sir Henry Havelock's 'untimely, tragic death'. But you will not know how much important it was to you.
The very day the so-called "relief of Lucknow" began, my men brought me information on a conspiracy on a grand scale within the Templar Order. Now, that might ring a bell, if you happen to know – you would know, I say, since I know of your connection to the Templar Order - that Sir Henry Havelock was to become the Grand Master after the present leader's death, were it not for your excellence as a Commanding Officer.
I could not gather the courage to say this to your face then, but the truth is that it was not our artillery that hit you – it was your own. Yes, sir – a grand conspiracy, concocted by the great hero of Lucknow, to establish himself as the Grand Master.
How merciless a person can get, when it comes to securing power and position for oneself!
For a few days, everyone stayed quiet, and then, as word spread to everyone, Redcoats were sent to hunt you down at all costs. By this time, the then-Grand Master had died of disease, and Havelock had proclaimed you dead, and himself the new leader. However, a small 'inner-circle' knew the truth and wanted you dead.
The best course of action for me at that moment was to heal you and send you away – which is what I did.
It is no use replying to this letter, for by the time you would be reading this, I would have moved to some other hideout for protection.
A little word of warning to you – do not trust any person, however good friends you may be, as long as he's British or a Templar. This I am saying not as an Indian Assassin, but as your well-wisher.
These are dark times, my friend, and together we must fight oppression.
Bon voyage, and good luck in this new war to you.
The "merciless" Assassin Ishita.
Recollection 03 - Guru
Abstergo Helix Server: DNA SEQUENCE #IN789: Acharyanandana Dhyaneshwar Purushottam Lal, a Master Assassin
1st May, 1854:
These are the last few days of training these recruits. And also my last few days doing this work. This group will be the last one I ever trained, and I've been so fortunate to have this group as my mentees, that I can never be thankful enough to God.
I have always challenged each group of mentees but have never found my equal in them. Yet with these people, my hopes are much higher.
Recruits include Assassins Arjun, who, true to his name, is a great archer; Jack the great gunman; Razia, who I am sure would make a great sawar (cavalry soldier).
Although I am not one to differentiate between my mentees, my two favourites – the best recruits I've ever trained – are Fateh Singh and Ishita. You just have to speak of the job to them, and with their teamwork, they ensure that it is done.
It's been only a week since their training started and I know now the skills and weaknesses of each of these recruits. I want them to perfect their skills, and eradicate the weaknesses, for there always remains a fear in my mind that a storm is brewing up...
Chapter 1: Extracts from the Logbook of an Abstergo Employee
4th October, 2015:
All of a sudden, I was taken out of the machine. Inside the office there were Mr. Osto Berg and Ms. Melanie Lemay, waiting for an explanation for this sudden breakdown.
"I... I didn't..."
"Of course you didn't," remarked Ms. Lemay.
A technician came. Apparently, one of them had called him in. While Miss Lemay observed the repair work, Mr. Berg took me aside for a little talk.
"I'm not blaming you for this, but may I know what triggered this breakdown?"
"I was watching the genetic memories in Helix Server DNA Sequence #IN789, those of Master Assassin Lal, when suddenly there is this..."
Mr. Berg interrupted – "I know all about the desynchronization. I want to know what it was you saw just before the desynchronization. If this Master Assassin really is the person the Helix Database shows him to be, his memories are of immense use to us."
I hesitated at first, then I began a little, "There was this recollection of training the recruit Assassins, the mention that he wanted to train them well, as there was 'a storm brewing'... that's when it blacked out, then desynchronized."
"It's fixed!" I heard the technician.
Miss Lemay remarked - "Alright, Mr. Berg, let's allow him to resume his work on this one."
With that, the two of them left, and the technician headed to another system which needed repairs, and I resumed my routine job. But as I loaded the Helix Server, an unexpected surprise awaited me – Master Assassin Lal's memories didn't load, and instead loaded database entry #IN734.
Chapter 2: Memories
Abstergo Helix Server: DNA SEQUENCE #IN734: Recruit Assassin Ishita
18th October, 1856:
"A storm is brewing up," that's what he used to say.
And now, as I see the truth of his words, I feel sorry at how we used to ridicule the "prophecy of Master Lal", his grim expressions and tone, and call him names like 'the prophet' or 'the great prophet'.
British annexations of native kingdoms and the imposition of harsh policies like the Subsidiary Alliance and the Doctrine of Lapse has created, to use a very mild word, unrest in the country.
"Noble and peasant all wept together and all the world wept and wailed -
Alas! The chief has bidden adieu to his country and gone abroad."
In Awadh, where we are right now, everywhere you can hear songs like this. Well, why not – to quote another one, "The honourable English came, and took the country" – they had annexed Awadh, and the cherry had dropped into their mouth.
We, the Assassins were worst hit by this, for as the great Assassin who inspired us Indians to fight almost two hundred and fifty years ago – Charles Parker – put it, the lines between the Templars and the British blurred to the point of complete removal, and now, for all practical purpose, there is no distinction between the two.
[HELIX SERVER ERROR – FURTHER LOADING OF DNA SEQUENCE FAILED]
[REVERTING TO A STABLE RECOLLECTION]
Chapter 3: Thrown Back in Time
Abstergo Helix Server: DNA SEQUENCE #734: Recruit Assassin Ishita
2nd May, 1854:
There's only five more days before we're officially no longer trainees.
Today happens to be one of the best parts of training - cavalry vs. cavalry. Those Englishmen might call it polo, but it's much more serious than that little game. I've been called to get ready for a duel!
No day could possibly be worse! The training went nothing like we had ever thought - moments after we assembled, the old prophet who's training us called us to a meeting suddenly, suspending the training indefinitely.
"Here in front of me I have a map. This is a layout of the nearby Templar camp. Imagine you're raiding it all alone. Which of these paths would you prefer for..."
He droned on and on and on for hours, discussing tactical questions instead of actual training. The meeting was briefly stopped for lunch, but then it resumed again and went on till the evening. Must be something important, thought I. At least to him.
What way to enter from, what place to use as hideout, where to observe your foe from, what prior preparations to make - everything was discussed. Perhaps we'd be having a little practical experience tomorrow or some other day?
Chapter 4: Another Interruption by Abstergo Employees
4th October, 2015:
I am interrupted suddenly by Ms. Lemay.
"What happened here, numbskull?"
"I don't know... it just jumped back to an earlier date."
Mr. Osto Berg intervened. He must have come during our conversation. "It's a double-genetic memory – a memory inside a memory. This often happens when the subject under study recollects an old experience. Call in the boss to talk to him in detail about this, Ms. Lemay."
"As you say, sir," Ms. Lemay said, almost as if scared by the very sight of his face. Then, after Mr. Berg left, she added to me, "A mere formality, numbskull. Rest assured. The boss will be here at least an hour later. Continue for the time being."
Chapter 5: Practical Experience
Abstergo Helix Server: DNA SEQUENCE #734: Recruit Assassin Ishita
3rd May, 1854:
"No," said Master Lal. "Practical experience? There is nothing but practical experience for you once this training is over. For now, focus on practice."
So that's how the conversation went when I asked about yesterday's meeting. As for what it was about, he simply turned without replying and left.
Sometimes, I hate him for it, but at others I wonder whether it really is his nature, and if it is not, then what is the reason for this.
And while I think about it, I hear a loud voice, "All recruits, gather for a sword duel in the backyard. स्पष्टम् (Is it clear)?"
The sword fight went well, and I lost only to Fateh Singh, but I was never concerned about it all that much. Because just after a brief series of duels, another meeting was called, this time with a map of a fortress.
I wonder what the prophet is up to.
Chapter 6: Second Chance
4th May, 1854:
Today, it came upon us. Or at least so it appeared. Early in the morning, a band of Redcoats stormed our training grounds. Almost all of us were taken prisoner – Fateh Singh, Arjun, Jack, Maan Singh and many others, not excluding Master Lal himself.
I was out, away from the training grounds for a stroll when Razia came running to me – "Our barracks has been attacked! Come!"
I followed at top pace, until I saw the hedge surrounding the place. The two of us climbed over a hedge into the backyard, which the British were foolish enough to leave unguarded.
As a side note, I should say Templars, because it seems too much of a coincidence that the British would attack a random place which is practically nowhere on the map, the sole importance of which is the fact that Assassins – the best of the best in the Order – are trained here. But then again, the two are practically the same.
We climbed onto the only tall building there – the top of a mandir (temple) – and observed.
Musketeers, in five groups, with at least twenty in each group; thirteen swordsmen; five horseback javelin soldiers; and supervising them all, their field commander, resplendent in uniform, with his ruthless gaze and waving his sword, symbolizing his power.
"It'd be impossible to save everyone. But if we don't, these Englishmen will just kill them all," whispered Razia.
"But we must do something," said I. Though deep within I myself was puzzled and confused about how to tackle this situation.
"Gunpowder... Do we have any of that?"
"I suppose so, Razia... But it'll be there behind the Commander, and I would not risk going there if I were you..."
She explained her plan – "First off we'll create a distraction. That unattended wagon in which this Commander must have come seems like a good place to start."
I interrupted – "But they've got hostages, whom they'll just execute at the slightest sign of danger."
"Yes, they've got hostages and they're all lined up in one corner of the front yard with only three guards supervising them. Maybe we could use the new thing Master Lal had given us?"
I understood what she meant – turn their own men against them. A few poison bolts would do the trick.
"But the problem with this, Ishita, is that we need to get closer to them. I'd say we leap down from here, then hide in the grass for taking aim. That way, we can..."
Meanwhile, I just took two or three random shots. Razia remarked, "Or we could do that – Nice."
The nice part was when I noticed that all the shots had hit. There was chaos among their ranks, as they fought amongst themselves. And I am not talking of a war of words – they resorted to shooting each other even.
During this chaos, Razia thought of creating a distraction by utterly, completely wrecking the carriage; while I jumped down and hid behind the prisoners. The moment I got the signal – the sound of breaking glass – I cut free the prisoners – first Fateh Singh, then the two of us freed the rest.
However, Master Lal was not freed when a group of British Musketeers turned on us.
"Take aim!" I heard their commander yell.
We could all perceive that their aim was towards Master Lal only.
Twenty to twenty-five of those Musketeers with only one target. It seemed like a fight we'd all lose for sure. Even if their shots, all of them, failed, they would charge with bayonets as sharp as a blade can be, piercing through each and every one of us till we were dead.
In a moment, almost as if a natural response, I leaped in front of Master Lal, hands outstretched.
Chapter 7: Abstergo's CEO Arrives
4th October, 2015:
The boss, Dr. John Wilkins has arrived. As we all stood up to salute him, my mind was busy thinking about the turn of events I had just witnessed.
"Sir, here's the employee working on Master Lal's memories." Ms. Lemay guided him towards me.
"Yes, tell him to meet me in," Dr. John opened his Communicator. "I'd say, half an hour later. Tell him to explore the memories further." That's what Ms. Lemay told me.
Funny how these 'bigwigs' cannot even talk directly to a person a few feet from them. I did as told.
Chapter 8: The Reward
Abstergo Helix Server: DNA SEQUENCE #734: Recruit Assassin Ishita
Later that day (4th May, 1854):
Master Lal called me to his room. I went in nervously, thinking that he meant to scold me for inappropriate strategy in the above-described "mock-drill".
"Do you remember the day you came to me?"
I found that question a bit awkward. "Y..yes, of course, Master."
"Then you'd remember that I gave you people a challenge. A challenge to prove yourselves to be not just equal to, but better than myself."
"You might also recollect yourself eagerly asking me whether I found anyone who had accomplished this challenge."
"Yes, Master, and you replied..."
He interrupted. "Today. Today, I found a student better than myself. You. To be very honest, in no situation could I ever imagine doing what you did in a last, desperate attempt to save me. I honour you with these. Don't hesitate – you've earned them."
He presented a set of robes to me, and bowed.
With a light smile, he added, "These robes, you know, were once mine. But I think they won't fit me anymore."
Despite everything, I never thought that a seemingly real British invasion would be just a mock-drill. Always replying in the negative about "practical experience", never replying to further questions regarding the same... was this all a part of our special training? As for my poison dart shots, they were not all that accurate. The guards pretended to be fighting, on instructions of the Master.
Perhaps this preparedness is what makes the recruits from this camp the best of the best.
Chapter 9: The Busy Boss
4th October, 2015:
Half an hour had passed since the Boss' arrival. I asked if I could come via the Communicator.
I got the reply almost instantaneously - "Busy in meeting. Come later."
When is the boss ever free? First he calls me to meet him, then he delays the meeting himself. A funny bunch of people, some of these Abstergo Entertainment staff seems to be, though I will not say too much - they're my colleagues after all!
I continued exploring the memories, and this time, those of Master Lal loaded.
Chapter 10: The Defence of the Company Fortress
Abstergo Helix Server: DNA SEQUENCE #IN789: Acharyanandana Dhyaneshwar Purushottam Lal, a Master Assassin
12th July, 1855:
I don't... I don't want to talk about it in much detail, but I've been asked to defend this small Company fortress. They expect Indian rebels to raid the place soon. There is increasing resistance all over the country and it is only a matter of time before it spreads here as well.
I've only been commissioned fifty Musketeers and a spotter for this defence. I wonder how the Grand Master expects this job to be done.
Anyhow, now begins the waiting.
13th July, 1855:
Today, the rebels attacked. There were only four of the elite 'Assassins' sent to capture the entire settlement. Hah – no match for my group of men. The moment they appeared and came within range, two were shot dead by the Musketeers. The other two were suppressed with equal ease.
What can be easier than such an unbalanced fight?
Chapter 11: Hacked by Erudito
[INITIATING RECOVERY PROCESS]
[LOADING FILE: truth_master_lal.erudito]
[Message: This time, the truth is far simpler to arrive at. Just look elsewhere...]
Abstergo Helix Server: DNA SEQUENCE #734: Recruit Assassin Ishita
12th July, 1855:
It's been a long time since the last few events. We've never heard of Master Lal ever since he left training us recruits on 10th May, 1854, after finishing the last practice rounds of our group. There were rumours that he had joined hands with the Templars, but only rumours.
Today we realize the importance of those meetings about tactics – today, when we ourselves have to plan a raid on a Templar base. We go through the same discussions – how to enter, where to hide, where to spot from, how to proceed and so on.
Our raid begins tomorrow, and we fear the worst – what if Master Lal really has defected? Will we, his former students, be able to raise our blade against him?
13th July, 1855:
We positioned ourselves behind the fortress wall. I was leading the operation. I ordered Arjun to be the spotter for the rest of us, Fateh Singh to go and secure the hideout, while Razia surveyed the guards. My job was to wreak havoc by using poison darts. This time, I was much more careful with my aim, and they really hit two targets, who, after a short quarrel, ran away, with four other guards chasing them.
I climbed up the fortress wall to rejoin Razia, when Arjun signalled that he had seen an important target. He drew our attention to an old man, in traditional kurta-pyjama, head nearly bald except for a narrow strip of hair along the side, and wearing the Templar Cross. When I saw his face, I couldn't believe my eyes. The rumour was true.
I climbed down to proceed with the plan, when suddenly, something covered my face.
When I came to, I was tied to a pole with a firing squad in front of me. The other Assassins were nowhere to be seen, nor were they tied like me nearby. Master Lal was nowhere to be seen.
One of the guards was a familiar face – one of my childhood friends – whose name I don't remember at the moment. He came closer to me.
"Well, well, well... look who we have here. What did you say back then? That someday, if I continue with my ways, I would meet my end? I can see only one person about to meet the Lord."
"I didn't expect you to resort to such heinous offences as leading these tyrannical firangis against your own countrymen, however criminal-minded you might have been!"
"It'll all be decided in a matter of two minutes," replied he.
Meanwhile, Master Lal had come in from one side.
He took my old friend to a corner to talk to him in a low voice, then said something to the guards in a low voice. I wondered what it might be.
At that moment, I saw a bunch of arrows coming down from above, but before I could see, one Musketeer fired, and I heard a loud shriek. One of us was down. Arjun leaped from the building to my right onto Master Lal, and just when I thought it was all over with the defector dying, another Musketeer came forward and stabbed Arjun to death with his bayonet.
I heard their commander yell – "We've captured another bloke surveying us!"
Meanwhile, the leader of the Musketeers commanded – "Squad, ready."
All the Musketeers, almost in unison, loaded their muskets. Those who did not need to reload stood without moving an inch.
"Take aim!" All the guns were raised, and pointed towards me. In fear, I cried out, eyes closed – "Die, you Kompaneewallah tyrants!"
Chapter 12: A Traitor, A Saviour
Twenty shots were fired. I heard them all, then, gradually, opened my eyes. A large figure, a man of about eighty years, in his traditional clothes and nearly bald head, stood in front of me. He had taken all the shots trying to defend me.
Before falling and dying, he just uttered one line – "You gave me... a second chance... Here's yours..."
Whether it was out of shock, or out of grief for their deceased leader, not a single English soldier dared raise his sword or musket as Fateh Singh cut me free and the two of us escaped.
18th October, 1856:
As I look back, I am forced to come back to the question – did he really defect to the Templars? Or was it just a plan to know their inner workings? No one ever knew then, no one knows now, and perhaps no one will ever know the truth. However, whatever others may say, he lives on in my memories as the great leader who sacrificed himself to give us, his students, a second chance.
4th October, 2015:
"Cone up now." A pop up on my Communicator says.
It's time for my meeting with the boss. I wonder what he wants with me. One journey has ended. Now begins another...