Assassin's Creed: U-Turns

NaNoWriMo 2014. Hopefully I aim to finish this. It is a sequel to At Cross Roads though, so


39. 2nd November 2013, 8:07 am ~ Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), USA

Amanda got into the training area a few minutes late on purpose. It was a large gymnasium with dark wooden floorboards and a high ceiling, so that every sound made echoed around the room. You couldn't whisper without being heard. There was gym equipment stacked neatly to a side, while a portion of the gym had been sectioned off - presumably to be the place were everyone was to trained and be observed.  She saw everyone standing in columns, and joined the line that was marked 'Quitters'. That was the nickname for people who had come in for the pay or the office work, and not for the hands-on operative work. They still needed to go in for the progress check, but they didn't attend the training sessions - so it was assumed before-hand that they would forfeit.
Hence, the nickname.
Amanda knew she was being noticed. She scratched her head and yawned, having spent the night thinking of all the witty things she would say to Berg when she passed and all the even more witty things she would say if she failed. The line thinned-out quickly, and in around fifteen minutes, she was standing at the front.
The different obstacles looked simple enough: Shooting, then climbing, then a fist-fight. She smiled. Daniel had prepared her for the first two, but the last one she'd just have to stick through it. Without the Animus, she wouldn't have dared to even look at this training course, but she felt like a different person now. Someone who would eat this course up for breakfast.

Which reminded her - she was hungry.

Berg looked down at her column and he raised his brows, “Ah, Amanda, I see you've made it,” he said.
She gave him a look, took the bottle from his hand and drank from it. She wiped her mouth with her sleeve and walked through the doors to the obstacle course.
“Yes, uh... It is your turn,” Berg called after her.
She looked back and shook her head, “That's just sad.”
She went through and faced the first obstacle. She picked up a pistol, loaded the bullets and stood with her legs apart, her arms straight in front of her - focused. She took a deep breath. Holding your breath in will help keep the gun steady, Daniel had taught her. She waited, her breaths shallow. When the first target jumped up and she shot it in the shoulder. It dropped down with an echoing slap.
She needed to keep her calm.
Shoot for the head this time.
The second target popped up in a different place and Amanda fired twice, once just below the collar-bone and then the head. Her arms took the recoil and was prepared for the next shot. She didn't care if she didn't get clean headshots all the time, she was owning this obstacle - for someone who had next to no experience with guns (as far as Berg and Abstergo were concerned, anyway). She got three more targets - one chest-shot and two head-shots, before she dropped the gun and made her way to the climbing wall.

Amanda ignored the safety belt and just grabbed the first handhold she could reach. She hauled herself up, letting her anger and determination fuel her. Her foot slipped a few times, but it didn't matter. She found something else to latch onto - imagining each foothold as a likeness of Berg's face - and climbed higher and higher until she reached the top. She looked down. She could take the set of stairs down.
Amanda jumped. She dropped down and grasped the smooth surface of the back of the climbing wall to slow her descent slightly before landing in a crouch and absorbing the impact of the fall.
That one she partially owed to Jack Molay.

Berg clapped slowly and made his way towards the boxing ring.
“Well done,” he said, “Well done, indeed.”
Amanda glared at him as she put the heavy boxing-gloves on.
“You're doing miraculously for a Quitter,” he commented, “What's your secret?”
“No secret,” Amanda replied, entering the ring, “Just paying full attention to a lot of violent movies and all the dreams I have of tearing your face in two. I always wake up wet from those.”
She watched Berg put on his gloves, “So I suppose your old friend Daniel didn't like stationary targets,” he got into the ring, “but ones that could take a beating and put up a fight?”
Amanda growled and swung a punch at Berg's head. He ducked and delivered one to her stomach. Amanda folded and grunted, but got up holding her stomach.
“What's the matter?” he asked, throwing a punch to her side.
Amanda jumped out of the way, but didn't see his other fist coming straight towards her head. It smacked into her face and she fell spread-eagled on the ground, the side of her face throbbing. She tasted blood, her teeth having cut her tongue.
“You were going to ace everything, you said,” Berg squatted next to her. He grabbed her hair in a bunch and yanked head back so that she was forced to sit up. He threw an arm around her throat and squeezed. Amanda felt her air slowly begin to cut off, her lungs labouring to pull oxygen into her system. She struggled, raising her hands to claw at his arm, but nothing worked. She felt a greater need to breathe, and on a whim - she reached behind her and decided to dig her nails into his thighs. Berg jerked from his position and Amanda used his lost rigidity to bite his arm and escape. Berg gasped and flung her away, and she panted heavily, filling her lungs to their capacity - feeling the pain in her throat.

Amanda spat to her side, her saliva coming away a furious red. Shit. She raised her head and glared at Berg. She remembered what she had said. She didn't regret any of it. And she wasn't about to be made a liar because of it.
“And when I do,” she said, getting up and head-butting Berg. He fell back howling, holding his nose as gore gushed from it. Amanda threw a punch to his stomach, making him throw his limbs outwards and grunt, “Everyone is going to see,” another punch to the stomach and Berg was on his knees, “what a fool,” she spat in his face, “you really are.”
Amanda stood up, waiting for Berg to rise. He got up slowly, holding his side.
“How...?” he groaned.
“My ancestor, Jack Molay - nephew of Jacques de Molay - lived through the bloodiest battle I've ever heard of. Historians call it a ruthless killing match,” she got closer to him and feinted to the right and then knocked him back down with her left - catching him in the jaw, “He lived through it and so the fuck did I!” Amanda spat at him again and wiped away the blood from her mouth with the back of her hand.

She tore off her gloves and threw them down before exiting the ring. Her head started to pound, the beginnings of a headache reaching her.
“Ah, fuck...” she murmured, steadying herself against the door of the training room.
She left without saying anything more and went to her room. She found her pills and swallowed one with water, then lay down on the bed and shut her eyes. She reached for the drawer on her bedside cabinet and found a canister of hooch inside it. She took it and drank some, gasping as it burned the cut on her tongue and lip.

Amanda smiled to herself. She couldn't wait to tell Daniel about this tomorrow.

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