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Chapter 4

Sam woke up feeling like a horse had kicked him in the face. He was on his bed at the top of the Assassin HQ. He went over to the wall, feeling the coolness of the marble blocks that composed the Hideout. It was cool to the touch. Drunkenly, he walked over and pulled his robes from his hook on the wall and donned them, leaving his goggles, mask, and weapons where they lie. He could here several of the others moving and shuffling downstairs. He then walked over to the mirror hanging on his wall and began to comb his ginger hair. But as he dragged the iron teeth through his wavy locks, he noticed something strange. His eyes, instead of being green, as they had before, were now an unnatural crimson that darkened to violet around the pupils. Then, the pain started.

A blinding agony shot through Sam, one which brought him to his knees and left his throat dry and cracked. His forearms started burning, and were glowing white hot. Red lines began etching themselves all over his arms, forming flowing designs and swirls. It flowed up his arms and down his back in a wave, stopping just above the small of his back. At the same time, a separate pain began in his chins and calves, burning just as hotly as his arms and back. Then, just as suddenly as the pain began, it vanished, fading into a dull throbbing.

Speechless, he ran over to his mirror. His arms, and legs, were covered in swirling red patterns that almost looked like ornate bracers and greaves. The patterns spilled over onto the palms of his hands and tops of his feet. They swirled over his fingers. He quickly took off his shirt to examine the rest of his body. On his upper arms, shoulders, and chest were more swirling patterns, only these didn't form anything recognizable, and they were black. However, on his back, there were two grey eagle's wings, tattooed as if they were at rest. They completely covered his back.

"Are you surprised?"

The suddenness of the voice made Sam flinch. Slowly, he turned around, and there, in his doorway, stood the Mentor, leader of the American Assassins. No one knew his real name, so everyone just called him Mentor. He was tall and dark skinned, indicating that he was Native American. His face was gaunt and haggard from years of service to the Creed and the Order. He had a neatly trimmed grey beard and greasy, shoulder-length white hair. He wore his hood down. It was sewn into an old blue-and-white officers' jacket and a shirt that looked like it had been made during the Revolution. He wore no hidden blade, but had a tomahawk in the shape of an Assassin Emblem clipped to his belt.

"What the hell is this stuff?" Sam asked, holding up his hands for the Mentor to see.

"Ah," said Mentor, "so that's how it will be. Well Sam, I need you to meet me on the National Mall this evening. You and I have some… things to discuss." And with that, the Mentor walked out, leaving Sam alone.

Seriously freaked out, Sam went over to the cupboard in his room and wrapped his arms in white linen gauze and pulled his gloves on, flexing his fingers so that the iron studs settled on his knuckles. He only put on one hidden blade, opting to leave his sword, but refilled his throwing knifes, putting them in specialized holsters on his boots, bands on his upper arms, and on his belt, next to the Assassin Emblem that he wore there. He also stuck his revolvers in their holsters on his belt. Then, he slid down the ladder that connected his loft with the ground below. As he hit the ground, several of the others looked up. Kurt Evans, an Assassin First Level, gave him an appraising nod while Erika Wilde, who was a Master Assassin like Sam, flashed him a grin and a handful of bills, her winnings from yesterday's fight, which Sam had won.

He sat down and pulled out a leather-bound tome: "On the Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin. He cracked it open and began reading. Suddenly, as he turned to the third page, Kurt approached him.

"So, Sam… What happened to your arm?" he said, indicating Sam's right arm.

"Nothing… Just…burned it."

"Oh, okay. It's just, thought it might be weird 'cause I'm not seeing any blood stains."

"Okay… I'm going on patrol." Sam retorted, slamming his book closed. He got up and walked toward the hatch, leaving his sword and second hidden blade upstairs.

"See you tonight…" Kurt said, which caused Sam to hesitate, but he continued, even more persistently, reaching the hatch a few seconds later. But as he turned after exiting, he saw Erika reprimanding Kurt. As the door closed, Sam gave a small smile, hidden behind his mask.

While Sam patrolled the area, all he could think of was what had happened this morning, and how Kurt had confronted him. Ironically for a country at war with itself, Washington went about its business. Street vendors called out to passerby. Passerby went about their business, enjoying the sunlight. Hatters screamed crazily. Sitting atop the Capitol Building, he unwound the gauze around his arm. It had gotten worse. Red light pulsed down his arms in time with his heart and sparks danced around his fingers. Quickly, he rewound the gauze. Then, he sat. And waited. And thought.

When dusk began to settle, and Washington was plunged into twilight, Sam leapt down from atop the Capitol Building and strode across the Mall to wait beside the Washington Monument. He figured the Mentor would want to meet here, as the monument sat directly above the Assassin HQ.

Sam waited for twenty minutes. Sighing, he pulled out his timepiece, flipping the spring-loaded lid. Inside the bronze casing was an embossed Assassin Emblem with a small flame hovering at the center. Finally, he heard footsteps coming towards him. He turned to see the Mentor walking towards him.

"Ah, Sam. You made it."

"Alright Mentor. Enough of this shit. Tell me what's going on."

"Okay, well it starts with a bit of a story." the Mentor replied.

"I don't care what it st…" Sam paused. He heard rustling behind him. He pulled out one of the revolvers and pointed it up at the tree. "Get down, or get a face full of lead."

Looking away from the Mentor, Sam turned to see Kurt flip out of the tree. Still with the revolver trained on him, Kurt moved over to stand next to the Mentor.

"Well, isn't this nice. Everyone's here." said a disembodied voice. It was deep and had a distinct Italian accent. Then, a man bathed in shadow walked over and stood behind Sam. Instinctively, Sam took a defensive position, bending his knees and flexing his wrist, prepared to extend his hidden blade.

"Not everyone…" Erika Wilde said, walking in to lean on Sam's shoulders. "Aww, you guys started without me? I don't think that's very ni…"

"Enough!" Sam yelled out, his eyes flaring crimson. The gauze on his arm caught fire, falling to shreds. Wisps of fire curled around his fingers and his hair was blown back as if by a strong gust. "I've had…enough. Tell me what is happening to me."

"Well," the Mentor said, "I'll start with a bit of history. As you know, we, humanity, were created by the First Civilization as a workforce. A docile workforce. Yet we rose against them, our gods. Ultimately, they dropped from this world yet lived in our myths and legends. But not before giving us a bit of defense. Without them, we had nothing to protect us from the dangers of the outside world. Sure, we had our intelligence. And for those of us who were hybrids, the Sight. But now, through a specific process, we can do so much more. And you, Sam, as well as everyone here, has been subjected to this process. And that is what has happened to you."

"Samuel," said the shadowed man, "you've been selected to be a part of an elite group of Assassins. You and your compatriots are our last line of defense against the Templars. The ancients called it magic. Those of a later generation called it acts of God. And in modern times, some call it the result of science, the newest face of the phenomena that we have yet to explain. In my time, it was either God, or Satan."

"Okay, but what exact time period are you from?" Sam asked, lowering his revolver away from Kurt.

"Niccoló Machiavelli, at your service." The man emerged from the shadows, which slithered off of him as if of their own accord. He was tall and deeply tanned, obviously from years under the Mediterranean sun. His eyes were dark, with a pronounced Roman nose, and close-cropped black hair that was graying at the temples. "Samuel, you are exceptionally powerful. Your skills are of a caliber unmatched by your contemporaries, and rivaled only by history's greatest Assassins."

"So who are you, truly?" Sam asked the Mentor.

"I am a legend of this nation, a man without a face. I am Ratohnhaké;ton. But most know me as Connor Kenway."

"Okay. So say this is all true. Say I'm not dreaming a horrible dream. What do I have to do?"

"Easy, you'll train with us." Kurt said.

"You'll refine your gift, learn to control it. You can use it to turn the tide of any battle, any war. And in times like these, that shouldn't be too hard." Erika continued.

"Alright then, I'll do it."

"Excellent," Connor said. "Meet us at the top of the Washington Monument tomorrow at noon. There is where we'll begin, and where I'll give you a bit more information." Machiavelli said.

And with that, all departed, Sam, Kurt, and Erika going to the nearest sewer cover to get back to the hideout.