Friday, September 21, 2012

Subject 23, lone wolf

It's September, and summer is beginning to give way to fall.  The leaves will soon be changing colors in that romantic, brisk way they do, and while we're busy admiring them, Old Man Winter will plot his latest snow-filled attack on the midwest.  And, another great thing about the fall: it's the precursor to the period of time between Black Friday and Christmas Day, also known as "The Mad Dash to Christmas".  And what's the best part about this time of year?  The crop of new releases from our friends at Activision, Ubisoft, the guys doing Halo this year (I'd say Bungie, but they opted out), as well as many others that are either on the way or, in the case of Borderlands 2, already out for our gaming pleasure.  Yes, ain't no time of the season for gamers than Christmas.  Yes, we have to deal with the snow and the traffic and the beyond cold weather, but for most of us, it's worth it.  So why, then, is this newest tome entitled "Subject 23, lone wolf"?

Well, kids, I'm thinking of continuing on the short story of our anonymous modern Assassin friend from the last blog post in honor of the imminent release of Assassin's Creed 3, and believe you me, I'm uber excited about how the story will finally come to its conclusion (and shanking/chopping/hanging Tories in the process, all while moving at the speed of "by Jove, we're buggered!").  My one complaint that I forsee coming from this game, and it may be different for some of you, but I really, REALLY hope that the story focuses more on the Assassins and their struggle against the Templars rather than it being one big tribute to 'MURICA!  FUCK YEAH! and all that shit.  I'd have to imagine that even some of our ancestors that settled in Virginia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were indeed working for the Templars, though historically they were based off of empires from the past, and the British Empire was one such empire.  Still, the graphics are simply amazing, and I really see myself just hanging out in the woods hunting deer, bears, and the occassional redcoat foolish enough to want to write his name in the snow all by his lonesome.

Anyway, I digress.  Subject 23 has assassinated his latest target, but it looks to have been a setup, as he was caught on candid camera (though he wasn't asked to smile first), and now he's on the run under the paranoid assumption that his former bosses are now out to get him, as well as his Templar enemies.  Of course, the whole thing could just be one big misunderstanding because some jamoke didn't do a thorough enough job of scoping out the place...or is it?

The blood's still fresh on my blade.  Most of it washed off in the pouring rain, though all Abstergo really needs at this point is one drop so they can put it under a microscope.  They'll be able to get everything: DNA, metal particles...they'll even be able to whittle it down to which blade pulled off the attack.  Science can tell these people so many things, but what about the knowledge that could potentially end disease, stop hunger, and even curb poverty?  Nope, that kind of stuff doesn't fly with them.  They're about domination, about control, about herding dissention and living in a perfect world where there are no problems.  What no one bothers to clue everyone in on is that it's a perfect world with no problems because nobody's complaining about anything.  Not if they don't want to catch a baton to the head, or worse, a bullet to the heart.

That's what we're here for.  Or, at least, that's what I thought we were here for.  The Assassins were supposed to wipe out the scumbags and give the world back to the little guy, all while being completely anonymous and working in the shadows, just like the Templars do.  The worst thing about it is that the people, as an entire entity, are one big group of sheep, literal sheep, and the only thing that determines the fate of the world is who gets to herd them.  That's why I, from time to time, have come to question our movement.  Is it even really worth it in the end?  Do the people honestly know what's good for them other than not starving and not getting their heads beaten in for something they believe in?  Is it even such a thing as "belief"?  For the longest time, I've suppressed these questions in the wake of my undying loyalty to the cause, and to the Assassins.  Now I'm starting to think I've been set up, and now everything is coming back to me in one horrible flood.

I've ditched my clothes and my equipment, leaving them with some homeless guy in the sewer.  He kind of looks like me, and he's too sleepy to really understand why he has the stuff on, but the idea I want to give to my captors is that I've been killed.  Of course, they figure out he's just a smelly drunk with atrocious breath, Abstergo's gonna know they've been had.  I don't have that much time, just enough time to fall off the grid and watch the shitstorm brew from afar.

I've also dressed myself to look like one of the commoners.  No hooded sweatshirt for me, no distinctive traits to speak of.  Desmond Miles may be able to get away with that ensemble, but then again, he's under high protection alert, as well he should.  Word around the grapevine has told of a scenario that he was under a coma for the longest time after somehow finding Ezio Auditore's apple, but now he's awake, and apparently, he knows what needs to be done.  All well and good, but is it really going to stop the apocalypse?  Surely Abstergo will find more ways to undermine the public?

Whatever, that's his problem, I have mine.  Right now I just need to get the hell out of here.  Chicago is crawling with cops and double-agents.  It's a pretty crazy time to be an Assassin way out here.  I've reached in my pocket to grab the only things I really can use to purchase transportation: fake credit cards.  This might have worked if it was 1996, but this is 2012, and things are a little more advanced now.  Abstergo in particular can spot a fake before it's even used.  Thankfully, the guy working the booth is just too drained to follow protocol.  I grab my tickets and hop on the train.

For the moment, I'm safe.  For the moment, all I am is just some traveler trying to get out to the countryside for some fresh air.  At least, until the compartment door opens and someone decides to join me.  He locks the door behind him before I've even turned my head.  And now I'm looking at someone very familiar.  Someone who's had my back in the past, but I'm not sure if he's working for the Assassins or just trying to reach out.

"Hugh Jackman?  Really?" he says indignantly, referring to the fake name on the credit card used to purchase my tickets.  "Dude, anyone could see that was a fake card, let alone Abstergo."

"I left my good cards in my other pants, OK?  What am I supposed to do?" I fire back with a bit of a smile on my face.  Well, at least he's busting my chops.  Derek Finnigan.  That's his name.  Works primarily out of the field, but he's been with the St. Louis and Dallas compounds.  He's a freelancer like me, except I'm the one that decided to adopt a number instead of a name.  He's the only guy that knows my real name.

"Spence," he says, "They're looking for you.  Everyone, not just Abstergo.  I mean, I personally think it's fishy, otherwise I'd cuff you right now."  So he thinks it's bullshit, too.  Can't be too sure, though, not in this scenario.

"What's to say you don't have cuffs on you right now, Derek?  For all I know, you could be wired."

His hard, accusatory stare tells me otherwise.  It's easy to tell what he's thinking, but only if you're in my shoes.  I relax a little bit, but he lets me have it anyway.  "And here I thought Nevada meant something to you."  It stings, but I've gotten over it.  He saved my life in Nevada.  A hit went horribly wrong, and he saved my skin, both on the field and back at HQ when the provider of the contract proceeded to tear me a new asshole.  So yeah, in the present moment, I felt like an ass.  Water under the bridge, now.

"It still does.  Sorry, just can't trust anyone these days.  Why me, though?"

Derek shook his head, indicating he really had no answer to that question.  He pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to me.  A manilla envelope.  "You've been reassigned.  Came direct from Miles."

I look at it, intrigued already.  "Damn, so Subject 17's got a hand in this?" I ask jokingly.

Derek's stare goes even harder.  "Not Desmond.  William.  Doesn't get higher than that."

I stare at Derek, dumbfounded.  What in the blue hell does William Miles want with me?  How does he even know I'm still on the grid?  Did I even fall off?  Before I have time to ask questions, Derek answers some of it for me.  "You might want to charter a flight at the next stop.  It's urgent.  And Spence?" he says.  "Use a different name.  Seriously.  You cannot be followed.  Even by our own men."  And then he slips out of the compartment as if he never stopped in.

William Miles, of all people, is assigning me for a job.  I read the dossier, and although I pick up all the important details, I ignore the rest of it.  It's about the job, nothing more and nothing less.  That's what I keep trying to tell myself.  Old feelings start to rise to the surface, and I shove them down, but they're still there, even after everything I've been through.  It's just the way the bastard worded things in that damn letter.

"Be careful out there."

He's always said that.  Somehow I don't listen, either out of rebellion or just because I didn't give a damn.  He hasn't contacted me in over 5 years, and now I'm one of his go-to guys all of a sudden.  Well,  I'll do it.  It's my duty, and I'm not going to shy away from it.  I'm pretty sure you out there can figure out where this is going.

My name is Spencer Miles, and this is my story.

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