Chapter 5: Requiescat In Pace
Piero's pulse quickened dramatically as he checked his phone, having set the sniper rifle down on the catwalk. Someone was attempting to contact him, but neither name nor contact number appeared on screen, which had to mean something. Whoever it was clearly didn't want to identify himself, which gave the Assassin cause for concern.
It was either a comrade, or an enemy.
And there was only one way to find out.
"Good evening, Mr. Auditore. I must commend you for coming to a wise decision in laying down that rifle of yours," said the mysterious caller as Piero brought the handset to his ear. "You really are a reasonable man, then?"
The blood froze solid in Piero's veins at those words. "Who is this?" he demanded. "Figlio di puttana! Who are you?"
"You of all people should know, Mr. Auditore," the voice at the other end replied conversationally, as though he and Piero were old friends. "After all, just a moment ago you were about to put a bullet in my brain, weren't you?"
"Why don't you check that Future Diary you stole? It'll tell you everything you need to know about me."
Not that he had any need to, thought Piero. It was just his adversary's way of rubbing it in.
Even as a sense of panic took hold of the veteran Assassin, Piero knew perfectly well what he meant. Despite his horror at the downright disastrous turn this mission had taken, he retained enough of his wits to realize just who he was talking to – and to allow the implications of those words to sink in.
"Now, then, I believe I've taken quite enough of your already limited time, so I'll hang up now," his hated enemy continued on in a faux affable tone. "A pleasant evening to you, Mr. Auditore."
"Oh, and don't be so surprised that I know. I'm The Watcher, after all. I know everything."
"Oh, is that so? For your information, Mayor John Bacchus, I was able to get into your office and nick the Eden's Diary under your nose!" Piero retorted. "I wouldn't be so smug if I were you!"
The person on the other end was silent at that. His silence was momentary, though, as he laughed aloud, mockingly, before mounting a comeback of his own.
"Ah, but there's the thing, Mr. Auditore," he sneered, his voice positively dripping with a sense of superiority. "It's true you were able to steal a Future Diary for yourself. But hasn't it occurred to you that I let you do it?"
And with that, John Bacchus, Mayor of Sakurami City, hung up the phone.
Piero simply stood in horrified silence for a moment as the call was ended, before replacing his cellphone in the inside pocket of his jacket. He had to get out of here, now, while he still could; he'd have another chance to eliminate his target as long as he survived, but otherwise-
"Requiescat in pace, bastardo."
Piero Auditore never heard the gunshots that came after those words had been whispered in his ear. And even had the noise not been reduced to a murmur by the silencer, the subsequent explosions and conflagrations that rocked the place would have drowned it out anyway.
Yukiteru, Athena and Minerva leapt to their feet as the explosion sent pieces of flaming debris raining down on them, staying closely knit together even as pandemonium erupted all around them. Most of the people around them were currently under a state of mass hysteria as they desperately attempted to get out of the inferno Sakurami Stadium was rapidly becoming; indeed, as it was, they appeared one sudden upheaval short of stampeding all over each other in their mad rush to get out.
Grave though their present predicament admittedly was, though, Yukiteru's attention was focused elsewhere.
Indeed, even the tidal wave of humanity that was now attempting to force its way out the exits was of little consequence to Yukiteru Amano, who now observed the chaos before him using the second sight of sorts that he'd inherited from his ancestor. The panicked, hysterical and terrified masses before him were unmarked in any way, suggesting that they were of little concern to him. This was in contrast to his sisters – and that girl from earlier – all of whom shimmered blue before his eyes, as well as the man in the far back whose silhouette was tinged with an ominous red as he took aim with what appeared to be-
Show him what it means to cross the Assassins.
A second voice had awakened at the back of Yukiteru's mind at the sight. The voice itself seemed to be Yukiteru's own, but the manner in which it spoke was that of a much older and wiser man.
A man who had died more than 500 years ago, to be exact.
The voice – the second consciousness – that now inhabited Yukiteru's mind became more insistent as the conflagration around them continued to rage and the fires continued to intensify. One look around at the injured and the dying was enough to tell him that there was little he could do for them. But at the same time, a single glare at the man about to open fire on the girl from earlier – as well as her parents, who were trying to shelter their daughter out of there – told him that there was one thing he could do.
And at that moment, too, Yukiteru saw a flash of light, followed by a vision of sorts.
He was back in Renaissance-era Florence, just as the Bonfire of the Vanities had hit its fever pitch. He held a woman in his arms, and in spite of his inability to recall her name, Yukiteru sensed had been important to him nonetheless. He was taking her to a doctor, but…
"Ezio... Don't you know...? I've always been with you."
"I wish we... could have had... a second chance."
And as she passed away in his arms, Yukiteru felt himself – felt Ezio – set her gently on the ground as he gave her her last rites.
"Requiescat in pace… my love."
And as another flash of brilliant white light took him back to the present, Yukiteru understood what Ezio was trying to tell him through that vision.
He understood what he now had to do.
No matter what happened, he would not allow that scene to play out in front of him all over again. He would succeed where Ezio had failed. And so it was this determination that guided him as to his next course of action.
"Athena… Minerva… My dearest sisters…"
"I love you both, very much."
And with that, he pulled up his hood, before raising his left arm in view of his sisters and then extending his hidden blade.
"Father… This was your plan, wasn't it?" whispered Athena as she watched Yukiteru – her beloved little brother – run like a man possessed through the chaos and deftly navigate a path through the flames and the debris.
"Huh? What was that, sister?" asked Minerva in response to her twin's words, just as she picked up a crying toddler from the ground and cradled him in her arms.
"The bleeding effect, Minerva," Athena said simply, her eyes never leaving her little brother as he rapidly closed the distance between him and his quarry. "By reliving Ezio's memories and synchronizing with him, Yuki-kun was supposed to pick up his skills and knowledge as an Assassin."
"Our training regimen was to speed up the process, too. In Father's words, the idea was for Yuki-kun to acquire a level of skill befitting a Master Assassin, even well before he lost his virginity," she finished, blushing despite herself.
"And from what we're seeing here tonight, it must have been successful. But…"
"The bleeding effect isn't without its risks, dear sister. In the worst case scenario, Yuki-kun could lose his mind. And even if he doesn't-" she cut herself off as she saw a shadow sneaking up behind her little brother.
"Yuki-kun!" Athena cried out suddenly, in unison with a warning shouted out by the rose-haired girl her little brother appeared to fancy, just as someone made to whip him from behind with the butt of his pistol.
Even as his sisters were talking, Yukiteru managed to get within striking range of his target. Eventually he managed to climb up a basketball ring post a few feet from the sniper. And from there, he leapt onto his target and plunged his left hidden blade cleanly through the man's neck, before quietly giving the victim his last rites – exactly as Ezio had always done.
"Requiescat in pace."
He then stood up to face the girl and her parents; now that the immediate threat on their lives had been dealt with, the next thing to worry about was-
He heard the warning that both the girl, and his beloved Athena, had yelled out to him. Even then, though, it was too late for Yukiteru to react in time to dodge the large, heavy blow that struck him hard in the back of the head. He tried to look around the person who had struck him as he fell, but all he saw was the flames that seemed to dance even as they continued to consume his surroundings.
And then his eyes met hers.
It was all Yukiteru Amano could do to whisper this one word as he felt himself slipping away.
And sure enough, darkness claimed him.
Yuno Gasai just stood there, staring at the man who had ambushed the boy that was her savior, even as he raised the pistol he had smacked her hero upside the head with. Even as her parents fell dead to the ground as the man shot them one after the other, Yuno herself remained rooted to the spot by a mixture of awe, fear, grief and rage.
"It's just you left now, little girl," said the gunman, his crazed tone of voice matched only but the feral grin on his face. "You'll all be in the next world, soon enough-!"
His threat would turn out to be futile, however.
The very next moment, Yuno was watching someone drop down on his back. And as he did so, the new arrival stabbed the would-be child killer in the neck using the exact same weapon, and in the exact same manner, as her hero who currently lay unconscious right in front of her.
"Mess with my family, and I will hurt you."
The deed done, the man got to his feet, eyes fixed on Yuno all the while. And as if on cue, the two women who had accompanied her hero rushed over to his side.
"Hey, little girl. Are you alright?"
All Yuno could manage was a small nod.
"Go, get out of here. Don't let their sacrifice be in vain."
At the sound, Piero looked up at his twin daughters, giving them a pained grimace as he clutched his left shoulder. He'd barely managed to patch up those gunshot wounds mere minutes ago, and if the agony gripping him was any indication, that aerial assassination just now must have reopened them.
"Hi, girls. Sorry I'm late, I've had some business to attend to."
"Business? What-?" Athena trailed off, confused; at the sight of the gunshot wounds on Piero's left shoulder, however, the look on her face shifted from confusion to horror. "Father, you've been wounded!"
Piero's only response was a weak laugh, before reaching into his jacket with his left hand to pull out two objects: an object that appeared to be a touchscreen mobile phone, and a sealed envelope. And as he did so, his wounds bled anew; it was clear that even so small and insignificant an action on his part was enough to put him in so much pain.
"Forget me, girls," he told them, faintly but clearly. "Just… go, get Yukiteru out of here."
And as he said this, he showed them what was likely to be the last entry the Eden's Diary would ever record under his ownership.
October 31 / 00:25 [Sakurami Stadium]
I die, together with my family.
"As you can see, girls, I won't last much longer," Piero said matter-of-factly, much to his daughters' distress.
When I was a young man, I had liberty, but I did not see it.
As the last words their ancestor had ever written came back to him, even Piero himself couldn't help but feel surprised at his acceptance of his own demise. Like their ancestor, he had never been one to yield to fate, nor had he ever been a believer in destiny. Like Ezio, he too believed that an Assassin took orders from no one.
On the other hand, Piero was also a realist. His death was more or less inevitable now, he thought, even as he clamped down tighter on his wounds in an attempt to stop the bleeding. And besides, even if he did manage to make it out of here, it was still likely that he'd bleed out in the process.
I had time, but I did not know it.
"Father, come on!" Athena pleaded, tears flowing steadily down her cheeks even as she cradled Yukiteru in her arms like an oversized baby. "We still need you! Please, don't leave us alone!"
And I had love, but I did not feel it.
"Give these to Yukiteru, mia Athena," Piero said, ignoring his daughter's desperate insistence as he gave her both the Eden's Diary and the envelope with a serene smile on his face. "And don't be sad. Even when I'm gone, you won't be alone. You'll have each other."
Many decades would pass before I understood the meaning of all three.
"Now, go!" Piero commanded his twin daughters for the final time, just as even more debris crashed around them.
Finally his daughters obeyed, wasting no time making their way to the nearest safe exit. Even then, though, their grief and pain at having to leave their father behind was all too clear.
Athena looked back at Piero for a moment, tears in her eyes, before carrying Yukiteru out to safety with her.
And now, at the twilight of my life, this understanding has passed into contentment.
And no sooner than she exited, than another explosion sent tremors through the area. Piero no longer bothered to move even as a large section of the railing came down, crushing him where he stood.
Athena. Minerva. Yukiteru.
You have to live.
With that final thought, Piero Auditore died with a smile on his face.
And though he would never know about it, he was wrong about at least one thing, as the Eden's Diary registered one final entry under his ownership.
October 31 / 00:27 [Sakurami Stadium]
I die alone, but without regrets.
A/N: And with this, the main plot begins.
Kindly leave a review if y'all can, guys. Feel free to nitpick on my grammar and on the plot, too, I'd like that. I'm sure we want this story to be the best it possibly can, but I'll need assistance in the form of feedback for that to happen.
Again, those unfamiliar and/or confused from the Assassin's Creed elements can go to assassinscreed . wikia . com (no spaces). I'd like to think I made this accessible even to non-AC fans, but if some of you feel otherwise, again, your feedback is welcome. :)