About as tall as Laetitia England.
They got her exactly. They caught the false description. They had captured an innocent civilian.
Because of Amanda's description.
Amanda tried to stop staring at the girl and cleared her throat, “What exactly do you want me to do?” she asked, dreading the answer.
Her instincts were correct. She was right to dread the answer.
Laetitia threw her a gun and Amanda caught it. The girl whimpered.
Amanda stared at the weapon, “You want me to kill her?” she asked.
“I want you to make her talk,” Laetitia said, “Interrogate her. Use whatever means you can. And then dispose of her,” she got up, as if to leave the room.
“Isn't this line of work more suited to Mr Berg?” Amanda asked her.
“I'm afraid, Amanda, that I seek to judge your skills in this matter,” Laetitia explained, raising her brows as if surprised by Amanda's question. Amanda didn't buy it. She knew this was a test - that Laetitia had seen through her lies, “I lack the constitution to bear witness to such barbarism, however, so come find me when you're done.”
Amanda looked at the girl, who started to weep and whimper - saying she didn't know anything, saying she wanted to go home, and begging Amanda not to kill her.
The temptation, the desire to save her own skin was overwhelming.
Amanda wasn't a hero. She was a coward. She could only think of the consequences to objecting a direct order from - from what she could tell - Laetitia England, the person with the most authority around here. But she looked at the girl...
This innocent girl, who couldn't be more than 25 years old, who had been dragged into this muck because of a misunderstanding, an illusion, a lie that Amanda had told.
But Amanda didn't know this girl, she's never met her, never cared for her. For all Amanda knew, she could be a mass-murderer, an exploiter of poor unsuspecting idiot men or a drug-user.
Why should she save Pauline's life, when her own might be at stake if she did?
Amanda raised the gun, cocked it back, her finger on the trigger.
It would only take a bullet. It would be painless, she wouldn't torture the girl. A bullet in the head, that's all. She wouldn't even feel it. One bullet and then it would be over. Problem solved, crisis averted. One bullet.
Pauline stared at Amanda, her mouth pressed into a thin line, tears running freely from her eyes. She pleaded and pleaded, telling Amanda she would do anything, anything that Amanda wanted her to do - if only she let her live. She offered money, service of a most vulgar nature, bodily slavery. Anything. Everything - just to live.
One bullet in the head. That's all. And Amanda could walk away from this, claiming that Pauline would say nothing.
Amanda looked away.
“Laetitia, wait,” Amanda said, lowering the gun.
Laetitia turned back and folded her arms, “Yes?”
“Pauline isn't the Assassin you want,” Amanda said.
Why was she sticking to her story? Amanda didn't know.
“So why are you sparing her if she is of no use to us?”
Better to get the truth out now, Amanda decided, “Because Pauline isn't an Assassin.”
Laetitia made a face, as if this revelation was shocking and grave. She was a terrible actress. Amanda knew she knew, “I'm disappointed in you, Amanda. Not angry, disappointed.”
Amanda didn't say anything as Laetitia made her way back up to her desk. Amanda held the gun pointed towards the floor - and waited for an order, any indication that she would die in this place.
“What are you then? An Assassin spy sent to infiltrate our base?” Laetitia asked, interlinking her fingers on her desk.
Amanda took a deep breath, “I'm not an Assassin,” she said, “I came here to become a Templar.”
“Then why are you protecting Assassins?”
“Because I feel like I should,” Amanda admitted, “They looked after me, these passed few months. Helped me make sense of this world, these secrets. Maybe I wouldn't even be here with my current opinions, if it wasn't for them.”
“That doesn't change the fact that they stand against us!” Laetitia said, raising her voice and standing up, “I demand that you tell me about these Assassins this instant! It could aid us substantially in locating them and foiling whatever plan they might have ready to spring on us!”
Amanda looked at the gun in her hand. One bullet. She felt her heart slamming against her ribcage, her face becoming hot with shame and fear. She could clearly hear the blood circulating in her head.
She dropped the weapon on the ground and said, “I'm sorry, I can't do that,” she said, shaking her head.
“Excuse me?” Laetitia returned, clearly aghast by Amanda's defiance.
“I owe those Assassins my life and my dignity. While your superior fuck-up tried to kidnap me, the Assassins tried to connect with me and help me,” Amanda said, her voice came out firm and strong - but her face impassive, removed of emotion and, perhaps, hope. Where was she going with this? And what would be her chastisement? “I am not going to hand out their names and faces and living spaces. I'm not going to make them regret the fact that they actually tried to help someone. Yes, they back unfavourable, illogical ideas and their general intent for the world is dangerous - especially with Juno running loose - but I owe them.”
“None of this matters, Amanda.”
“Maybe not to you, but it does to me.”
“Amanda, if you do not concede this information, I am afraid I may have to take some drastic action against you,” Laetitia threatened.
Amanda picked up the gun, “I have experienced the death of Jacques de Molay burning at the pyre, I have fallen from heaven and felt no fear, I used to be afraid of this, of dying - but I've realised something,” Amanda moved forward, “Some things you do in life, some things you think about doing, some things that enter your mind and haunt you forever - are far scarier than never having to ever deal with them again in that dark abyss of death,” she put the gun in Laetitia's hands, and pressed the barrel to her own forehead. She felt the cold circle of metal against her skull, “You're holding a gun to hundreds, maybe thousands of years of Templar history and achievement; to the mind of a predecessor of your most iconic Templar figure; to the head of a woman who will strive to be your best operative. If you're prepared to lose all of that because I won't tell you the names and locations of two Assassins - pull that trigger and be done with me.”
Amanda closed her eyes and waited for the gunshot to come; to be granted the painless, single-bullet death she had thought about bestowing on Pauline.
But it didn't come.
The cold metal pulled away from her head and Amanda opened her eyes. She regarded Laetitia.
“Get out of my office!” the shrewd woman barked, pointing to the exit, “Get out, I don't want to look at you!” she gestured to Pauline, “And get rid of this...! This...!”
“I'll take care of her,” Amanda said, untying the girl from her chair and leading her out.
When the left the capsule entrance of Laetitia's entrance, Pauline stopped walking and looked at Amanda, “I want to go home,” the girl told her in a small voice, “Can I go home?”
Amanda paused to look at her, her heart aching with regret, “I'm afraid that your home is no longer safe foe you to return to.”
Pauline's eyes widened, “Why not? What have they done?”
“Hopefully, nothing,” Amanda said, holding the Pauline's shoulder, “But you know too much. You can't leave, at least, not yet. I'm sorry. I promise, I'll explain what I can to you, but first... First, I really, really need to see someone.”