Crossover fanfiction is usually not for me, and neither are time travel stories, for that matter. But every once in a while, I come across one that, against all odds, works really nicely. Visitorverse is one of those stories. Written by three different authors, Visitorverse is, at the time this article is being published, a series of nineteen fics taking place in the world of Assassin’s Creed, only the rules of the universe are the same as those in Sense8. Six Assassins—Desmond, Ezio, Altaïr, Edward, Avaline, and Connor—as well as two Templars—Haytham and Shay—find themselves connected across time and end up visiting each other at seemingly random moments in their lives.
Altaïr has paused to watch the novices training, newly a novice again himself. He’s debating whether to join them – humiliating, but in working on the basics he can show Al Mualim that he’s taking his demotion seriously – when he notices that someone is watching him. A young man. A stranger. He wears a hooded cloak of some sort, but not in the Assassin style.
“Who are you?” Altaïr asks.
The stranger starts and looks down at himself, as if surprised to find his own body there. “Uh,” he says, after a moment. “You’re talking to me?”
“I know the others,” Altaïr says. “Tell me who you are.”
“Desm— uh, Desmond… wait, no, this can’t be happening,” the man – Desmond – says. “You’re not really here. I’m just living through your memories. And you definitely can’t remember having a conversation with me.”
Altaïr has met Assassins so practised at moving unnoticed that they slip through one’s memory like water. He himself, as certain brothers are fond of reminding him, is too arrogant to hope to achieve such invisibility. Still, the idea that history might remember him is not one he finds particularly troubling.
It’s hard to decipher Desmond’s words, but he seems to believe himself one of the invisible ones. Desmond is far from invisible. Desmond, in fact, with his strange accent and stranger clothing, would have trouble being more noticeable if he opted to walk on his hands.
Which is why…
“Nobody else is looking at you,” Altaïr says. The Assassins around them have cast looks at Altaïr himself, something he’s more than used to, but nobody has spared a glance for the curious intruder before him. “Why? Are you known here?”
“No, this is what I’m saying. This isn’t real. This conversation never happened.”
“Speak sense,” Altaïr advises him. “I am not known for my patience.”
“I don’t think they can see me,” Desmond says. “Or hear me. You shouldn’t be able to either. I think maybe I’m having a dream.”
The man is unwell, Altaïr concludes. Or feigning illness to infiltrate Masyaf.
Probably the most confusing part about Visitorverse is the time jumping. Due to living in different eras, the characters see each other all out of order—Altaïr witnesses Ezio’s death, only to then meet a younger version of Ezio just a few weeks later. As a result, most of the characters know each other’s futures, and they inevitably learn of their own upcoming fates because of it. Edward finds out that he’s going to be stabbed in front of his son Haytham when Haytham is only ten, and Haytham learns that his own son Connor is going to kill him some day. Even more unfortunate, they are powerless to change these outcomes.
By doing this and showing how all the different characters interact through random moments and deal with what they learn, Visitorverse has a lot of opportunities to explore the characters of Assassin’s Creed and expand on them. Thankfully, while Visitorverse does deal with a lot of dark subject matter, it has its fair share of lighthearted scenes to counteract the more depressing moments, since the characters repeatedly find themselves in bizarre situations.
I’m still working my way through Assassin’s Creed III right now, so I cannot speak to how accurate some of the characterizations are. It’s a little upsetting that for a good long while Aveline is our only main female character, but all the same, Visitorverse made me fall in love with her. Over the course of the fics, she and Shay fall in love, and then they start a polyamorous relationship with Haytham, which I was not expecting to happen, and it was totally awesome to read a story that normalized that kind of thing. I have not gotten to Shay’s or Aveline’s game yet, and I don’t see Aveline shipped with either Haytham or Shay very often—or ever, for that matter—so while part of me is concerned that there’s nothing about this pairing in canon waiting for me, it was definitely a relationship that Visitorverse did a really good job with.
While each chapter tends to only showcase one short random visit in no particular order, making the continuity a little difficult to follow at times, the writing itself is impressive. Altogether, Visitorverse is currently over 890,000 words long, and looking back and piecing together the timeline, I can’t think of any real incident where the authors made a glaring continuity error. Visitorverse is definitely a time-consuming read, but it’s something that the authors put a lot of dedication into, and as a result, it’s easily one of the more enjoyable stories I’ve encountered.
What’s also nice about it is that it’s written in such a way that it will keep a reader entertained for days, but not at the expense of doing other things. Because the story is mostly just a series of moments, with only a few exceptions, it doesn’t have the same sense of urgency as another fic might. There was never a point where I refused to go to bed because I needed to stay up reading all night to find out what happens, or where I ended up being late for work, or didn’t eat, or didn’t do my house chores in order to read some more. The timeline is more or less canon compliant, so we all know what happens, and chapters don’t end on cliffhangers.
The fic kept me engaged and gave me something to look forward to, and it was nice to fall in love with a story that didn’t override all my other current obsessions. All in all, it took me nearly two months to get through Visitorverse, and I must have been reading at least ten other stories simultaneously. If you want to check it out—and you should—be sure to find it here on AO3.