Chapter 5

The next morning, Sam stood outside of the Washington Monument, hopelessly confused as to how he would ascend to the top of the mass of marble. He had already circled it several times and had found no visible seam to a door or secret entrance. And the use of his hook dart was out of the question. Defiling a national monument was tantamount to treason. Just as he was preparing to give up, Machiavelli approached him from behind.

"Having trouble Samuel?" the Italian asked.

"Yeah, I don't know how the hell I'm supposed to climb this thing." Sam replied.

"Ah, yes. I remember that Ezio often had problems similar to this when I was still in Italia. Think of it objectively. Don't think how do I climb it. Think how this is climbed. How would another, more experienced person climb it?"

"Well," Sam said after a moment, I remember how, growing up in Dublin, I would go out to the forest and climb trees. I would take a dagger and dig it into the tree as a hand- and foothold. But I don't see how that could apply here."

"Look at the stones more closely. See the gaps where there is not mortar. There is a pattern. Use it." And with that, Machiavelli disappeared. Shrugging his shoulders, Sam set to work. Plunging his hidden blades into the cracks between the blocks, Sam clambered up the monument quickly. He reached the summit pyramid in a matter of minutes. Finally, he swung into the topmost window, hitting the floor and rolling.

"Nice entrance." Kurt Evans said, applauding slowly. "Pretty sweet."

Sam surveyed the room. It was small and was pyramidal in shape. A large square hole was cut in the center, with ladders leading down to the next level. The entire inside of the monument was hollow, and filled with dozens of catwalks that circled each area. Then he looked to the catwalk he was standing on. Erika sat opposite him while Kurt hung upside from a chain that dangled from the ceiling. And standing next to him, undetected until this point, stood Marilyn Kaczminski, a known high-ranking Templar agent. Immediately, he swung his legs around, sweeping her own out from under her. He grabbed her by the collar and yanked her face closer to his own, his hidden blade inches from her throat.

"Tell me why I shouldn't end your life right here, Templar." he growled.

"I'll tell you why." Connor said, stepping from the shadows. He rested his hand on Sam's shoulder. "Come, rise. She is not our enemy."

Sam hesitated, and then retracted his blade. As he stood, he helped Marilyn to her feet. "My apologies Master; I let my instincts take hold of me."

"This isn't a bad thing. Thousands of times in history, instincts, and instincts alone, have saved an Assassin's life. But we have higher knowledge for a reason. And despite its lack of apparent deadliness, it can serve you well in a fight."

"Of course. I shall remember that next time. Now, can you explain to me why this… woman is here?" Sam replied, glancing back to Marilyn.

"Miss Kaczminski is an agent Assassin working for us. She works, indirectly, for the Templars, gathering intelligence on their strength, numbers, influence, and current locations. She's our eyes and ears inside their organization. She's also been subject to the First Civilization Process."

"So she's an Assassin?"

"Oh, yes. Very much so." Marilyn replied.

"Well, Mentor, if you trust her, then as do I." Sam said. "However, there is one thing I've been wondering about."

"What is it Sam?"

"Well, sir, you fought against the Templars during the Revolution. That was well over a hundred years ago. How is it that you're still alive?"

"Ah, yes. I was just about to get to that. You see, the Process has two parts. When you undergo the initial bit of it, any Pieces of Eden you possess will react and transform, becoming something different. Then, if you decide to undergo the second part of the process, one of those Pieces, if you have multiple, will fuse with your body, making you harder to kill, impervious to disease, and, if you don't get killed, immortal. That is how Machiavelli and I are still alive."

"So then why hasn't my sword been affected?"

"Well, pull it out." Kurt said.

Sam reached back and pulled his sword from its sheath. It was medium-length, double-edged, and narrow, tapering off at the tip. The entire surface gleamed gold in the light of the rising sun, save for the hilt. It was wrapped in strips of brown leather. As Sam gripped the hilt, he ran his hands along the swords length. Then, it began to glow.

The bright glow was accompanied by a searing heat which burned the leather off of the hilt. However, it did not affect Sam. A seam appeared along the sword's length, splitting it in two. Then, it literally fell apart. It split completely in half, creating two swords. They began to slither and move, becoming liquid, yet retaining their shape. And after the process was done, Sam held two golden-bladed Chinese swallow swords in his hands. The crossbars of the newly formed blades were silver in color, but were dulled and no longer shined. However, the most striking difference was the hilts. They were now matte black, with etchings and lines that glowed with an electric blue light. The ends curved in the last one and a half inches or so, making a distinctive beak-like pattern.

"Wow, those are actually REALLY awesome!" Kurt said.

"Well Sam, now that that has happened, why don't you sit, and we will begin." Connor said. He sat on the catwalk, crossing his legs and resting his hands on his knees. He breathed in slowly, then, his eyes lit up a dark purple-red. Immediately, a purplish mist began to swirl around them and the temperature in the room dropped drastically. Images began flickering in and out in the mist, scenes of war and destruction and death. And at the center of them all were Assassins from every age and time era through history. All were performing acts that Sam could not explain away, causing explosions, turning adversaries on their own men, seemingly teleporting from place to place.

"Sam, these things bestow on us amazing power. We become like gods when we use it. But, it comes at a price. It often leaves us physically fatigued, sometimes to the point of possible death. But even if you can survive the draining effects, others dangers lie in your path. Sometimes, the power can overwhelm us, and kill us instantly. And for others, the power can take over. It purges their mind of its memories, its thoughts and dreams. You lose your hopes and fears, the ability to love. Then, you become an animal. Your instincts become heightened, and your fight or flight instinct takes over. A word to describe it could be 'feral.' At that point, you're no longer human."

"But we're going to help you prevent that." Marilyn said. She pulled back the sleeve of her coat to reveal her own Process markings, which were a cool mint green. "The colors of your markings help denote how powerful you are. It acts in a sort of rainbow effect. Reds are more powerful than blues, yellows are more powerful than greens, and blacks are more powerful than whites. You have a very bright red. You've got a lot of power in you. Just try and copy what I do." Marilyn snapped her fingers, and a tiny green flame alit there. Sam did the same, and to his astonishment, a similar flame appeared on his finger, though his was red.

"Alright, nice pick up. But let's see if you can do this." And with that, Marilyn flung a throwing knife at Erika. She then threw out her hand, and the patterns on her arm lit up. A moment later, the knife hung suspended in air, slowly rotating inches from Erika's face.

Carefully, Sam stretched out his own hand. Wisps of fire curled around his arm, and his arm began glowing, pulsing shades of red. The knife flew away from Erika and hovered in front of Sam. It turned and rotated slowly. As it sat there, one of Sam's own knives joined it. Then, drops of silvery metal began dripping off the tips of the blades, forming a puddle on the floor. It began to bubble and move, forming a sphere. As it solidified, etchings began to appear on its curved surface, forming coastlines and shores. As Sam stooped to pick it up, he held in his hand a tiny silver globe, about a half-inch in diameter. It glinted in the sunlight.

"This," Sam said, "is wicked cool."