Headless Chicken

It’s been almost 15 years, but the trailer for the first Assassin’s Creed is still stuck in my head: Altair is standing on top of a church tower, with the target to be assassinated on a raised platform on the ground in his sights. The bell swings from left to right and fills the entire screen – when it swings back, the view of the church tower is clear again – but now there is no trace of Altair. CUT! Altair has meanwhile mingled with the people on the ground. Apparently invisible, he approaches the target. He picks up speed and before any of the guards can react, he strikes a death blow with a courageous leap onto the platform. BANG! A chase ensues between Altair and the guards. Altair skillfully escapes over the roofs, but in the end it almost seems as if he has landed in a dead end: He is surrounded by the guards in front of a locked church door. But Altair knows that this church door will open in a few seconds and the priests of the church will go on their daily routine walk through the city. He just stands there. The door opens. The priests walk past him and as if by magic he disappears behind them. Altair had planned every step. Studied the environment, the routines, the daily rituals – it was the only way he could always blend in with the surroundings and become invisible to his pursuers. The perfect assassination finds its perfect completion.

I am standing on top of a church tower, the target to be murdered on a raised platform on the ground is in my sight. No bell is ringing. I am still standing there. I want to leave the church tower by jumping into the haystack on the ground, but instead of jumping, Altair is now hanging from the wooden ledge of the tower. He doesn’t jump, but shimmies on the wooden ledge. So up again. Now the jump works. On the ground I want to disappear into the crowd. The crowd is rather a small scattered heap and so I run crouched behind the only person who moves in the direction of the target. When I think I’m close enough to the target’s pedestal, I take a courageous leap. I am not close enough to the pedestal and instead of jumping the pedestal, I merely make an awkward leap forward. The guards standing around have enough time to react and charge at me. The target runs away. A chase ensues between the guards, Altair and the target. My attempt to get to the roofs quickly fails. I don’t catch the edge of the roof and land on the ground. The guards stab me. I run after the target. It takes me almost a minute to catch up with the target and stab him from behind with little elegance. The guards thankfully wait during the following cutscene. After the target has closed his eyes, the escape continues. When I think I have put distance between me and the guards, I throw myself into a haystack. The guards stab the haystack. I escape with difficulty onto a roof. The guards follow me. I jump back to the ground and sit down on a bench. The guards run to the bench and stab me. By now there are over a dozen guards after me. I run through the city like a headless chicken. At some point I jump into a haystack again. This time the guards run past me. The perfect assassination finds its perfect completion.

The first Assassin’s Creed was released back in 2007 and made the author realize that aspirations and reality can sometimes be miles apart. Instead of perfect assassination, he experienced uncoordinated and wild running around much more often.

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