Amanda touched her head against the cold wall, gun in hand, as they listened to the confrontation within the room. She felt sick all over again, but didn't let it bother her. She could hear John's voice.
“Guide me into the Grey, beloved, I am your instrument!”
Amanda could see the look on the faces of the other guards. What a delusional idiot. But Amanda knew better. Even so, she groaned as her stomach churned. Her vision became a mess of mixing colours and objects, any action being followed by a stream of watery hue - as if reality was all a sickening oil-painting in motion. Berg put a hand on her back, but she shook him off. The happenings in the Animus Room were an exception, he couldn't do that all the time. Sounds burst like gunshots in her ears. Only, Amanda realised, they were gunshots.
“Clear?” said one of the guards within, “Clear! Check his vitals.”
“He's bleeding fast,” replied a second.
“Check the victim.”
Melanie Lemay rushed into the room to check on the poor data analyst who had been dragged into all of this. Amanda heard Melanie's chirpy voice, “Oh my gosh, are you okay? Talk to me! Are you alright?”
More gunfire. The smash of glass.
“He's taken the window,” Amanda murmured, moving forward.
“What? He's not dead?” Berg frowned.
Amanda didn't respond, she just staggered into the room and saw two guards lying dead on the ground, the analyst knocked unconscious and Melanie sitting huddled in a corner - holding her communication tablet over her head.
“I'll deal with this,” Berg said, “You should stay here.”
“But you don't know where he's gone,” Amanda replied.
“You've done enough, Amanda,” Berg insisted.
“But it isn't enough,” Amanda said, “I'll conduct my own investigation. You take the rest of the building guards and the guys who came with us to watch the roof, the elevators and the exits in the lobby. Get the victim some aid.”
“I'll be fine,” Amanda said, with more conviction than she actually felt, “Just let me do my thing.”
Berg regarded her, “Don't get yourself killed.”
“You let me worry about that,” Amanda chuckled with a sardonic air, “You get going.”
Berg left her in the room and Amanda shut her eyes. She could feel all the senses combine as she focused. She opened her eyes and the world blurred at the edges of her vision. A white ghost smashed into the broken window and grabbed the ledge. Amanda mirrored the action, holding on and following the ghost as it leapt from windowsill to windowsill, right before it caught onto the bannister of a balcony and hauled its transparent body onto the platform. Amanda was amazed at how easily she could do all of this. She was less amazed by the amount of vomit contained in her stomach as she threw up over the railing. She spat and tried to regain her focus. The ghost reappeared and went through a door. Shit. She needed a key-card for that door. Amanda looked above and climbed up the side of the building. She held her gun by its barrel and smashed through a window with its butt. She slid in and crouched on the ground, listening for any signs of movement. Amanda rose slowly and left the office, peering around every corner and taking cover when she could.
Why was she doing this?
Why was she hiding?
She knew John was here, and John knew Amanda was coming after him.
“John!” Amanda called, “John, I know you're here somewhere. Just come out.”
She heard laughter and edged closer towards it.
“You honestly believe that's going to make me move?” he replied.
Amanda held her head, a screaming ring piercing her mind. It cleared and there - she could see him, a white ghost through a wall - sitting in a crouch, prepared to shoot her. It wouldn't have been a problem - if only there was an angle from which she could attack him, without him being able to inflict the same amount of damage.
She needed to lure him out.
Amanda regarded all the electrical equipment around her. A grin grew on her face.
Since when was smashing things difficult?
She picked up a monitor and threw it in the direction of the room he was hiding in. She saw the white ghost shift back a little. She continued, chucking in flat-screens and desktops and table-fans - until the smashed heap of machinery sparked and caught fire.
The smoke filled the room and rose. It was a good thing that the sprinkler system on this floor seemed to have been tampered with. Amanda kept low and moved forward, using the thick smoke to mask her approach. She pulled the collar of her shirt over her nose and mouth.
Amanda could hear John choke and splutter. Amanda could feel dizziness reach her also, but she powered through it and saw John retching at the smoke. He took off his jacket and tried to suffocate the flames, but the material just caught. Amanda pointed her gun at him, took a breath in and fired at his shoulder. John shouted on surprise and pain, whipped his head around and bolted for the door. He scanned his key-card and was about to lock Amanda in, when she managed to stick her foot between the door and the frame. The door closed on her foot and she swore in frustration, but pushed it open and gave chase.
“You're not going to kill me, Amanda!” John called, taking a sharp right-turn.
Amanda said nothing and just chased after him, limping and hoping that the pain in her door would subside the more she moved. She turned the corner and stopped immediately.
John had his gun trained on her, holding his injured shoulder.
“You're not going to be able to kill me,” he said, trying to staunch the flow of his blood.
“Surrender, and I might not have to,” Amanda said, holding up her own gun.
John laughed, “Oh, listen to that! You're already dead, Amanda. You wanna know why? You have a good heart, Amanda, goodness is your disease,” John said, “That's why I'll leave here unscathed and you... Well-”
Amanda shot his hand, making the gun drop to the floor and then busted his knee with another shot. John fell to the ground, shouting in agony, grasping at his multiple wounds. His blood pooled on the carpeted floor, abd soaked in, in an instant. He reached for his gun, but Amanda kicked it away.
John laughed, in that maniacal way that he did and said, “The Templars have taught you well.”
“You meant to use me. For Juno,” Amanda said.
“You could have been beautiful, Amanda,” John said, “You could have been the queen, the goddess of these machines that she created!”
Amanda kept her face straight, “So that's what it was? That's why you preferred my company to anyone elses'.”
“I liked you, Amanda. There was something special about you. Like we'd met before,” he chuckled, “Does that sound familiar?”
Amanda pressed the barrel of the gun to his forehead, “I liked you too, John.”
“You really think you can shoot me? Kill me?” John scoffed, pushing his head forward, “Do it.”
Amanda's finger stiffened on the trigger and she regulated her breathing. She shut her eyes and faced away.
“Go on then. Pull the trigger,” John goaded.
Her finger pulled the trigger and the roar of the bullet filled her ears. She turned her head back and saw John's body lying there - in a lifeless heap, gore splattered all over the floor, all over her. Her hands shook and she dropped the gun. She couldn't look away from his body, the spots of blood that covered her, that seemed to be everywhere she looked.
“What have I done?” Amanda whispered, shaking her hands, “Oh God. Oh God... What have I done!”
A vibration from her pocket woke her and she answered her cell-phone. She said nothing.
“Amanda?” Berg said, noticing her long pause.
“It's done,” Amanda said in a quiet voice, “I have John's body...” a sob left her throat, “I killed him... I killed him.”
“Amanda, calm down.”
Amanda shook her head and sniffed, “Half this floor is on fire, so... just come quickly? Please?”
She dropped the cell-phone and put her head in her hands.