Amanda made her way to the Animus Room, whistling the tune of 'Scots, Wha Hae'. She had left Pauline in her room, telling her that she didn't know when she'd back. The girl seemed content to fiddle with her phone and the building's free wi-fi, sitting surrounded by bags full of clothes. It was alright, Amanda thought. The people at the front desk monitored everything - Pauline's harmless gossip online would be monitored and censured. Hopefully, it would be no major problem. Amanda yawned. She felt so tired that she stretched her arms out. She couldn't believe that it was only six in the afternoon - it felt so much later. She shook her head and turned the knob of the Animus Room door. She found Berg and Dr Sung waiting for her.
“You're late,” Berg commented.
“And you're to be sadly disappointed if you're expecting an apology,” Amanda replied, shutting the door behind her and finding her seat on top of the Animus, “What did you want me for?”
Berg leaned against Dr Sung's desk, “Since you monitored the doings of the Sage, he seems to have disappeared. He's completely off the radar. We need to relocate him, it's essential. There have been several security breaches and hackings since the one you performed to recover Desmond Miles's post-mortem file. It seems the Assassins have found a replacement.”
“John was working with them...” Amanda said, “It could easily be him hacking into those files.”
“I doubt it. From what you've told us, John Standish - as he's called - seems to be the Head of IT, an immediate suspect. Yet, nothing traces back to him. The prime suspect is a data analyst.”
“But they didn't send anyone else in with me...” Amanda shrugged, “I don't understand what exactly it is you want me to do about all of this, though.”
“You have ancestral memory on your side,” Dr Sung explained, “And it's clear your ancestor, Jack Molay, isn't quite finished in his adventures with the Sage in his time. If you can follow and find him in Jack's recollections, the Bleeding Effect should be able to guide you to the modern Sage. The one you call John.”
“But the last time I experienced that memory, it caused me to eject prematurely, remember? I'm not sure I want to do that again.”
“You ejected because of the shock. This time shouldn't be as overwhelming,” Dr Sung reassured, “I will put you through the Black Room first, in case you need some time for... settling in. Jump into the memories whenever you're ready. We'll be able to monitor your progress from here when you enter your ancestor's memory.”
“Once we're done here, we'll be jumping on a plane to Montreal,” Berg continued, “The flight's booked, so don't take too long, maybe?”
Amanda paused and then took off her jacket, showing her figure in a tight vest, the cold making goose-pimples rise on her arms, “Does Berg have to be standing in this room?” she asked.
Berg smirked, “Not embarrassed, are you?”
“I'm not comfortable around you, fully-clothed,” Amanda said, “Then again I'll be in a semi-comatose state. Let me hope that that's enough to stop me from shivering in revulsion at the close proximity between us.”
“Yes. Let's hope.”
Amanda took off her shoes and made to lie down in the machine, “Did you speak to Laetitia, by the way?”
Berg looked up, “You aren't going to die.”
“Well, a statement like that doesn't worry me at all,” Amanda shook her head, “I meant about Pauline. Have you spoken to Laetitia about getting her permanent accommodations here?”
“The subject hasn't come up,” Berg said, “I wouldn't bring it up for a while, if I were you. Laetitia isn't exactly thrilled about your confrontation regarding Pauline.”
“Are all of you such sore losers? Am I going to make everyone grumble and sulk like school-children every time I win something or beat someone? It really sucks the pleasure out of the victory.”
“The Animus will be ready to receive you shortly, Amanda,” Dr Sung said, tapping the keys on her computer.
“One other thing,” Amanda said, “Who keyed my name into the database?”
“What do you mean?” Berg replied.
“Amanda Hartz Cross? Was that your doing?”
“Oh please, I would never do something so juvenile.”
“Says the man who coronated me once as a princess and the second time as an inter-galactic overlord.”
“Those were exceptions. I'm not a particular fan of your romance. The gesture, while extremely immature, seems to be in favour of whatever it is you and Agent Cross shared.”
“It's this little thing called 'love'. I'm sure you've heard about it in books, movies maybe?”
“Are you sure? He wasn't just a fuck-buddy?”
Amanda scooped up her shoe and threw it at Berg. She rested her head on the Animus and felt the machine begin to pulsate, “Spoke to you for more than five minutes, paid the fucking price,” she muttered, shutting her eyes.
Reality began to slip away, the sounds in the room, the throbbing of the machine began to fade and the darkness behind Amanda's eyelids began to brighten. She moved in her mind's eye, in this fantastically real world and got closer and closer to the light. Shapes began to form in front of her, the ground become more recognisable, and Amanda could see the towering black columns of the Black Room...