Amanda was feeling much better and Shaun - for his part - remained relatively silent while they waited for Rebecca to return. He made Amanda some tea and they sat at the desk. Amanda was flipping through some of her work.
“Here,” Shaun said, passing her a mug.
“Thanks,” she said, sipping at it.
“Fact: Rebecca's out. Fact: John's doing whatever it is John does. Fact: you and I are alone. Thoughts?”
“No offence, Shaun, but - Fact: never again,” Amanda said, “Our fling was a one-time thing. I'd rather we didn't make it a habit.”
Amanda shook her head, “Because you're annoying and I resent you.”
“Those aren't the words you used when we were-”
“Oh, shut up,” Amanda snapped, picking up a sheet of paper and skimming through it.
“Come on. At least admit I was good.”
“Fine. You were... cute.”
“I beg your pardon!”
“What?” Amanda laughed, “What did you want me to say? The last man I slept with - sober - was Daniel. And - in comparison - he was taller than you, beefier than you, and he had a head of blonde hair and bright blue eyes. I'm sorry, Shaun, but that's kind of my type.”
“Oh? And who are you meant to be? Adolf Hitler?”
“I didn't say you were bad.”
“Of course not. I was brilliant.”
“Except, you weren't on the receiving end. You don't get to evaluate.”
“You asked for it and I think I've admitted.”
“Yes, well, you're partially delirious. I doubt your opinion is valid anyway.”
“Yep. Keep telling yourself that.”
“There is something I wanted to ask you though.”
“It's about Assassins and Templars - the different... doctrines-”
“They aren't doctrines.”
“Even more wrong.”
“Using bigger words, Amanda, doesn't make them right.”
Amanda reached over the desk, snatched Shaun's glasses off his nose and dropped them in his tea.
“That was extremely rude and immature,” Shaun commented, taking his glasses out by one of the arms and getting up to clean them.
“Once you've finished focussing on trivial points,” Amanda said, “I was going to ask you why you chose Assassin over Templar.”
“Because I like the idea of a free world, where one lunatic isn't mind-controlling us all.”
“Come on, it can't possibly be as simple as that.”
“But it is,” Shaun said, “Why are you asking?”
Amanda sighed. This was it, “Because I'm not entirely sure I want to be an Assassin,” Amanda said, “What if it isn't about making people slaves, mind-control per sé? What if it's about controlling certain aspects of human nature, about taking away the certain traits in humanity that prevents peace and causes violence?”
“It isn't and most Assassins didn't get a choice anyway.”
“So you're not going to give me one?”
“Let's look at it this way - how many options do you really think you have?”
“I could let them find me. I could become a Templar.”
“You want to be part of the problem?”
“They seem a problem to you, because you don't agree with them!”
“Pray tell me in what way aren't they a problem, then? In your wider, unbiased view of things - how could they possibly be good news?”
“Well, for one, Daniel didn't force me into an ideology. He quite comfortably asked me to choose,” Amanda retorted.
“Cross didn't tell you anything in specifics. He gave you brief descriptions of both ideologies - the Templar one of which he probably sugar-coated.”
“Why did he turn away from the Assassins then?”
“Money, power, a sense of belonging - why does anyone abandon their moral codes?”
“And your friend, Lucy? Is that why she left the Assassins?”
Shaun's face darkened.
“Lucy was different,” he said.
“Of course she was,” Amanda said, “The way I see it, the Templars have a plan, an actual vision for the future - Assassins don't,” Amanda explained, “The Assassins are just an opposite reaction to the Templar scheme. The question comes to this: after they defeat the Templars - hypothetically speaking - what then? The Templars would have humanity to shepherd if they obliterated the Assassins, but what would the Assassins be doing? Nothing. At least the Templars are trying to change things, make things better - instead of standing back and watching the world burn itself to cinders. I mean, look at it this way - if Templars had managed to control whatever it is that makes us want to kill each other before the World Wars, maybe Hitler would have turned out to be an acclaimed German painter or architect, rather than the man who's killed the most people on recent history!” Amanda stood up, aware that she was shouting. Blood rushed to her face and her heart hammered in her chest, “And maybe if you weren't so busy undoing all of it, you would be able to see that!”
“You honestly believe that?” Shaun said, his voice becoming dangerously quiet, “The world is as it is because diversity and individuality has been allowed to flourish. You honestly believe that a controlled world would be a better one?”
“We aren't talking about that. But to answer your question: yes. The world is a bloody mess. You're a bit of a historian, you of all people should know what free people have done over the centuries, the atrocities they've committed - all because they haven't got anything to stop them when they do!”
“They have us!”
“If they have you, why aren't you focusing your energies on stopping poverty in Africa or the Palestinian crisis, rather than chasing conspiracies that are clearly dormant right now because of the death of not one but two high-ranking Templar officials!”
“Because they aren't dormant, Amanda. They're hard at work. We have to be too.”
“This,” Amanda gestured around her, “is your version of being hard at work?”
“The Templars are the reason that your dead boyfriend never had any memories,” Shaun barked, “There? Are you happy now? They cocked up his brain by making him a bloody test subject. Don't you feel the least bit of anger at that?”
“See, that there is your problem! It's not about individual injustices. If it was, nobody would ever believe anything. Why hang Guy Fawkes? He only did what he believed was right. His friends would say so. His wife or girlfriend would say so. The idiot who gave him away to parliament would say so. But he committed treason - a crime which still carries the death penalty in several states of the country we are currently in. He was wrong. End of story. His hanging - a small injustice - prevented the destruction of the Houses of Parliament - a big injustice. If the experiments done on Daniel worked towards a larger, more promising goal - then wouldn't it be worth it? And it's not like they didn't try to cure him. They did. He'd come to me with psychological analyses carried out by his work-place, with medication and would inform me of retreats that they scheduled. Yes, what they did was wrong, but can you testify that everything you and those following your Creed have done is right? You do kill people after all.”
Shaun narrowed his eyes at Amanda, but couldn't find a response. There was a cold silence for a long moment, before Amanda restarted her argument.
“And then there's Juno,” Amanda said.
“What about her?” Shaun snapped, the frustration getting to him.
“She's been playing you! All of you, for generations! Haytham Kenway wanted to open the Vault. Maybe if it had been opened at that time, the Templars would have been able to find other methods of saving the world, they would have been able to complete the other projects Those Who Came Before couldn't. That way Juno wouldn't have had to be released and Desmond wouldn't have had to die! But instead, she found Connor or Ratonhnké:ton and gave him all these fantasies about his village being destroyed, and thus she used him to stop Haytham from finding the Vault, piece by piece. You might fight for freedom, but you've been Juno's pawns for centuries and now she's loose!” Amanda said, “And the way you talk about the Templars... it's almost as though you see them as a bigger threat than a prehistoric goddess that actually aided in creating all these Pieces of Eden that you're fighting over and - additionally - wants us all as her literal, unequivocal slaves!”
Shaun didn't say anything for a while, “For the record, Amanda, Cross asked us to find you and protect you from the Templars,” he said at last, “Why do you suppose that was, hmm?”
“It didn't make sense to me either, but I think I've figured it out. He knew that I would side with them, the Templars, and not with you - and so you'd have little or no use for me. In this way, I would be safe from your secret war,” Amanda said, “He never intended for me to fight, but he knew the Templars would come looking for me. So what better way to protect me, than to hire you?”