The Apples were tired of sitting uselessly on the shelf, locked away in their little prison of a box. Nor did they like the orb that sat separate from them, on the desk.
The pieces of Eden were machines yes, but they were ancient and powerful, and had grown beyond what had probably never been intended for them. Over the course of centuries they had begun to pick things up from those that used them, thought, emotion, feeling, they had developed their own minds in a way. A partial autonomy of sorts.
The Apples had never seen a reason to change more than they had before though. They had enjoyed twisting and manipulating the minds of the weak. Enjoyed the power they held over those in their thrall. They saw no reason that they should stop being the tools of enslavement their creators had made them to be.
Then the eldest Apple, the one from Desmond's time, encountered the runaway assassin.
It had been different, to see the thoughts of one such as he. With all the boy's suffering, all his pain, and crippling loneliness and anxiety, the Apple had been sure he would be easy to bend to its amusement.
That had not been the case. Instead, he had asked it to stop. Asked it. No one had ever acted as if the Apples, or any other piece of Eden, could possibly be more than a highly sophisticated tool. None before had considered they could hold any autonomy, that any of the pieces even had a choice at all in what they did. That they might very well have minds, have wills, of their own.
Over the time the Apple had been in possession of the assassins of Desmond's time it had begun reaching out to Desmond's mind on its own. Curious about this human that could be simultaneously so broken and so strong, and he had reached back.
He had been so open about everything to. Showing it what it wished to know in his memories. Talking to it, sometimes for hours, after a time he had taken to polishing it in secret. Using a soft cloth and the weapon polish usually reserved for his hidden blade.
At one point he had somehow acquired a small pillow usually used for jewelry display, and when it found itself hidden away in its box it found that it was comfortable.
The Apples had never before cared for comfort, none of the pieces had, they may have developed minds of their own but they had not grown past what they had been intended to be. They never saw a reason to further evolve, and besides most of the traits and personality they gained came from those that used them. Often and consistently enough for things to bleed through their natural barriers. With Desmond however, the Apple found itself lowering those natural defenses to prevent tampering.
It didn't like anything in the way of what Desmond shared, of the emotions the boy showed, revealed, the truths that Desmond allowed only the Apple to see and know.
None before had ever interacted with a piece of Eden so easily however, or so kindly. So trusting.
The pieces did not communicate as most would. They used sights and images, vague feelings and impressions to get their point across. Before Desmond the eldest of the Apples in the current mentors possession had not understood the point behind other things. The point behind sound, and in using words, and noises to get across a point. However Desmond had been quick and easy to reply, had always understood exactly what the Apple was asking, or what it meant
Desmond had taught the Apple hope such things could be wonderful though, had taught it how to find the emotions in things like sound and music, the hidden truths and meanings.
Of course it had also never felt a need to feel any emotion beyond satisfaction, and curiosity before, and Maybe the occasional bout of annoyance. Desmond showed the Apple, with his truths, and his memories, and his stalwart sacredness in this one thing, that all emotion was truly wonderful. Even when the boy had felt so little of the more positive ones. To him, emotion was life, and life was emotion. The Apple found itself makeing interest in that.
When Juno had used its thrall on Desmond it had fought her. It had never fought against a wielder before, and certainly never against one of those that had created it. But for Desmond, for Desmond it had fought. It had failed, and it had been forced to spread though him in its entirety, and just as it knew everything of any who came under its thrall, it knew everything of Desmond.
All his thoughts, and feelings, and memories from the time of his birth. All the things that had hurt him to much to share, even with the Apple. And the Apple understood why, because they HURT SO MUCH. Yet it's boy still could not imagine a life without them. No matter how much they HURT, because they were a PART of him, and the Apple found that it understood.
Impossibly, somehow it understood. Because Desmond also knew what it was like to be numb, to feel empty and hollow, and dead. The Apple found it preferred the pain more in comparison somehow, because at least that way it knew it was alive. Because that was how Desmond knew he was still alive, because he hadn't wanted to die back then.
The Apple had never known pain or grief or regret for anything it had done, or been used to do, before that. Had never known exactly what it felt like to fight and struggle with all your might, only to fall to the inevitable. It heard Desmond screaming, had felt everything he did when Juno forced him to murder the only human in their hideout who had attempted to care for his broken mind.
The Apple decided it would not let that happen again. It decided it wanted to be more than a mere tool. And just like centuries ago when it first gained the beginnings of its own self awareness, it changed. It grew. It felt in ways it had never cared to before. It became more than a machine, more than a tool. And it forced out Juno and her control.
Desmond had never been the same around it after that though. It had been sad over that fact. Sad and hurt and angry, not at him, but at it's situation. At those that had driven away it's kind boy. For the first time the Apple cared. And yet it found that it was more useless than ever.
It had tried to make things right. When Desmond had sacrificed himself on Juno's alter. It had used the boost in power to send him back, him and his Italian ancestor, to the time of Masyaf and Altair. It had known of the feelings Desmond had grown for the two, had known that he held what he thought to be a shameful sort of love for two men he would never see in life.
The Apple had tried to help, to make its friend happy. Yet again it had failed. The Italian got there first, time was such a fickle thing and the Italian was so much closer. Desmond had arrived a year later.
Which brought it back to the orb. The other two Apples, the one from Ezio's time, and Altair's, both had grown as well thanks to Desmond's Apple. Had grown, and learned, and evolved, and they had come to care for the boy as well.
The boy who had forgiven them for Juno's machinations without a second thought.
The boy who saw them as more than tools, who acknowledged that they were there, that they felt, and thought, and lived, and WERE. They boy that shared his thoughts, and feelings, and mind with them so easily still. Even after they had been used as weapons against him and his.
The rare times he was close enough to their limited range that was. They could only extend their power so far when not being wielded.
The orb however was different. The crystal ball brought by Abbas, the cruel selfish man, had already had time to ensnare many. The Apples could sense Juno in the orb, could sense her malevolence. She had tried to take them to but they had fought her off.
It had been hard, but she no longer held power over them. However that did not mean she could not hobble them. And she did, ensuring they remained weak and unable to protect their kind boy from her cruelty. They tried to drive her from the orb, but the orb did not care to help. In fact it aided her, vindictively, in driving them off.
Now the Apples watched, as this man, that they saw so little, fought in defence of their boy. Saw how he resisted against Juno's creeping influence, even if he was unaware of it. They reached out and aided him in protecting his mind, and they :got an idea.
"/Beware/" Malik paused briefly at the voice? Looking around the room discreetly as he glared down the other two present.
"/Beware!/" he nearly jumped at it, now their were three of them, a feeling of danger and unease not his own crept up his spine and he tensed. "/Beware the orb. Beware the orb! It is a creeping danger! Temptation! Juno hides within! Twisting those that come near!/"
"Malik?" The Dai jumped at Altair's voice, he hadn't even noticed that his gaze had strayed to the crystal ball sitting unobtrusively on Altair's desk.
"Altair where did you come across that crystal orb on your desk?" Ezio and Altair began to look even more confused, but also slightly weary.
"Abbas brought it to me. He thought it to be a piece of Eden, but from what I have observed it has no discernable function. Desmond has said it is a communication device of sorts when questioned." Malik looked at it suspiciously. He reached out to it, almost automatically, only for a steel like grip to encircle this wrist. Ezio had grabbed him.
What happened next was almost to fast to comprehend. Malik looked up, saw the slightly glazed look to Ezio's glare, and reacted. Jerking away with a twist to break the hold, dodging Altair's lunge, sweeping out Ezio's feet from under him, he grabbed the orb as fast as he could. That is when he felt it.
The presence. Clawing at his mind, trying to tear through him, attempting to bend him to his will. He couldn't tell if the screaming was coming from him or whatever demon was within the orb. He felt himself being overwhelmed.
Malik barely managed to dodge Altair and Ezio's attacks, found himself being herded into a corner, when he glimpsed a faint glow to his left. A box. The box containing the Apples to be more precise.
He felt the pain abate for the briefest second, felt enough fleeting clarity to lunge for the shelf. Something telling him that the Apples would help. That as long as he freed than they could help.
The wood box was knocked off, breaking open on impact with the floor. Their glow suddenly became blinding as they tumbled from the wood wreckage. Malik felt as the entity in the orb was forced back, felt the strain of it as whatever was helping him struggled against the malevolence, and turned to the nearest wall. Pitching the Crystal ball against it with all his might.
It shattered, and a feeling like the snapping of a bow string rippled through the air. Malik found himself being talked to the ground, only for the person atop him to freeze.
Altair looked down on him in confusion, before quickly looking up, finding Ezio's eyes as the two looked around the ruined office in mild confusion.
"Malik?" Altair questioned. "The orb," Malik replied, "there was some sort of being within, manipulating you." The Dai said in desperate gasping breaths. That had been an intense fight.
The mentor was quick to step off of Malik helping his friend up. "I remember that we were arguing about something." Ezio muttered, "Something to do with the traitor, Desmond." Malik felt indignation rise in him, but before he could lay into either man the Apple flashed with blinding gold light, and the whole world seemed to explode around them.