Amanda awoke and touched her forehead. She felt the dried tears on her face and wiped it down with her hand. She sat up slowly and grunted.
“Fish and chips?” Dr Sung said.
Amanda looked up and took the food offered to her and said, “Thanks, Dr Sung.”
“No problem at all, Amanda,” she said, trotting around the Animus and sitting in her swivel chair, “How are you feeling?”
“Great, just... great.”
“I'm...” Amanda ate her food quietly for a moment before she said, “I'm worried.”
“About your confrontation with Laetitia? Mr Berg told me about it, in case you were wondering. I think you should be fine, Amanda. From what I've heard, you put up quite the argument.”
It was nice that everyone knew everything. A little unnerving, but nice. It spared Amanda the trouble of actually explaining things, “I thought... maybe...”
Dr Sung waited for her to find the words.
Amanda shook her head, “I thought I'd be in deeper shit. Protecting Assassins and all.”
“You needn't worry. You've already given us very valuable information about the Sage. Not wanting to have a hand in murdering your former friends is... understandable,” Dr Sung said, “Actually, you've caught the attention of some of our higher members. I assure you, Laetitia might not show you kindness, but the rest of us aren't about to throw away your fairly varied talents.”
Amanda furrowed her brows, “Is that all I am here? A set of skills?”
“Do I need to answer that? Of course you aren't.”
Amanda put a hand through her hair and ate her food.
“You seem to be getting more and more stable inside the Animus, Amanda,” Dr Sung said, referring to her clipboard, “Aside from yesterday's episode, have you experienced anything unsettling?”
Amanda shook her head, “No. Though... I could hear her voice when... things were dark.”
“Juno... She said something about being free, that Desmond freed her last year in order to save the world from a... cataclysm,” Amanda rubbed her head, “She's looking for a vessel... I think she was meant to take me.”
Dr Sung didn't say anything, she just put her head down and nodded to herself. Amanda wondered just how crazy Dr Sung thought she was. Amanda wolfed down her food and got off the Animus. She took her coat from the back of a chair and put it on.
“Where's Pauline?” she asked.
It took a moment for Dr Sung to hear the question, but she looked up and said, “I gave her your keys and sent her to your room.”
Amanda nodded and headed for the office door, “I'm glad you're around, doctor.”
“It's no trouble,” Dr Sung smiled, “Oh, I almost forgot - Mr Berg said that you ought to meet with him later. It has something to do with the Sage you're looking for.”
Amanda's face soured, “I'll keep that in mind. Did he leave a time and place?”
“He actually said he wanted to meet you here, and said maybe later this afternoon.”
“Alright. Will you be here?”
“Will I be needed?”
Amanda sighed, “In case I hit him. On purpose.”
Dr Sung laughed and then stopped immediately, “That's horrible. I shouldn't have laughed at that.”
“See you later, Dr Sung,” Amanda scoffed and left the room.
She walked up to her room and opened the door. The young woman within threw away the magazine in her hands and stared at Amanda.
Amanda laughed and picked up the magazine between forefinger and thumb. She had forgotten to throw them out, “Really, Pauline?”
“You're the one who owns them!” Pauline protested hotly, her face reddening with shame.
“They aren't mine. They belonged to... the last occupant of this room.”
“And you decided to keep them?”
Amanda shook her head, “Do you want to go out?”
Pauline's eyes widened, “You're throwing me out?”
“Oh, no,” Amanda shook her hands, “No. I meant - go out for lunch or something. Maybe we could sit down for a bit and... I could help you make sense of all this.”
Pauline thought for a moment and said, “Lunch... I like the sound of that,” she dug into her pockets and pulled out Amanda's keys, “I think these are yours?” she tossed them in the air.
Amanda caught them, “And... I don't know. I don't suppose you had time to pack? We can go shopping for some clothes later.”
“Thank you... I would really appreciate all of that.”
“Great,” Amanda looked through her wardrobe and pulled out a jacket, “It's a little chilly outside, so,” she handed the jacket to Pauline, “Head down to the lobby. I'll join you in a bit.”
Pauline nodded and left the room. Amanda looked at the contents of the wardrobe and took down the Hidden Blade. She weighed it in the palm of her hands before she slipped it on and fixed the straps. She wasn't going to carry around a gun, even though she considered it for a moment, but she reckoned getting a holster made might be useful.
If the world really was as dangerous as everyone kept saying, Amanda reckoned she ought to be prepared.
She stepped out of her room and locked the door, yawning and rubbing her eyes. She made her way down to the lobby and bumped into Berg. She didn't say anything and he just stared at her.
“You wanted to see me later?” Amanda said.
“Yes, uh...” Berg said, rubbing the back of his neck.
“I asked Dr Sung to join us, if that's alright?” Amanda made to pass him by, “I have some errands to run now, but once they're all squared away, I'll meet you in the Animus Room, say six o'clock?”
“Six sounds great.”
“Good,” Amanda put her hands in her pockets and walked away.
She stopped but didn't turn, “What?”
There was a pause, but Berg just said, “Nothing. Never mind.”
Amanda went down a flight of steps and found Pauline at the bottom, talking to the man working the front desk.
“What's happened?” Amanda asked.
The man looked at her and said, “I'm afraid this young woman isn't registered here.”
“It's alright. She's with me.”
“Company policy doesn't allow guests, Miss Cross.”
“This- Wait, what did you call me?”
“Cross? Is that not your surname? It's what the database states,” he turned his computer around and showed her. 'Amanda Hartz Cross'.
“That butthole...” Amanda muttered.
“This is a... special case,” gesturing back to Pauline, “Speak with either Mr Berg or Ms England. It's... complicated,” Amanda said, “But I assure you, she'll cause no problems here.”
“Very well, Miss...?” the man waited for a correction.
Amanda guided Pauline out of the lobby, “Just... leave it,” she said.
“You can try to look less terrified now, Pauline,” Amanda suggested with a light scoff.
Pauline grimaced, “What is this place?”
“Let's find a place to eat and I'll try to explain everything to you, okay?” Amanda looked around the busy streets and picked a fast-food restaurant out of the row of buildings, “There's nothing food can't heal.”
When they'd sat down and ordered their meals, Amanda tried to explain the confusing predicament to Pauline, “This isn't going to be easy to explain, but... there are these two secret societies that operate around the world, and I converted from one to the other. However, they asked me to... name the people I was with before. But I didn't want to,” Amanda took a breath, “So, I decided to hand out false identities and descriptions. Regrettably... one of the descriptions I gave out fit perfectly with you - completely by chance,” Amanda paused, “I'm not entirely sure what to say to you at this point, except: sorry. But it probably doesn't mean much.”
Pauline stared at her, “Secret societies?” she said.
Amanda gave her a look, “You're still-?”
“What kind of secret societies?”
“Uh...” Amanda blinked, unable to answer for a moment, “Aren't you the least bit fazed that you'll never be able to return to your normal life?”
“I've had some time to think about it...” Pauline replied, “While you were in that machine.”
“Do you... want to talk about it?”
“Tell me about the secret societies.”
Amanda sighed, “Of course,” and then went on to explain everything about the Templars and Assassins and their struggles throughout history. Their food arrived, and even then Amanda continued to go on and on about the different ideological concepts - of order and purpose or free-thought and diversity. The Animus and that our DNA archives the memories of our ancestors. She didn't know if she was reaching out to Pauline or not, but the young woman seemed to have lost interest.
“So you're a Templar, then?” she asked.
“Yes,” Amanda said, “Yes, I am.”
Pauline took a bite, “And can you just switch from one to the other?”
“Is anything ever that simple?”
“But you said you switched over.”
“I allowed myself to get kidnapped by pretending to do something incredibly stupid. That's how I got here.”
“You don't honestly believe I could have been so stupid?”
“Of all the things you've said, I think that's the one that's easiest to believed.”
Amanda blinked, “I'm not sure I like you.”