“I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon,” Atlas said to Amadhay, smiling up at her from his low couch.
Without looking from her, he gestured for Scarlet and Mitch to go. Both paused, but seeing that Stefan stood directly behind Amadhay, they nodded to Atlas and left the room.
Amadhay didn’t smile back at him, which he had expected. “Who is your informant?” she demanded.
“What?” he asked, genuinely surprised at the road this conversation was taking. He had been ready for most options such as ‘Where am I?’, ‘Why am I here?’, ‘I remember you,’ or even ‘You kidnapped me before,’ but not this one. He glanced to Stefan for illumination, but the snake-like man merely shrugged. He didn’t seem nearly as surprised as Atlas was, though to be fair, Stefan had implied that sending him in was a bad plan to begin with.
“Your informant, Atlas,” she reiterated. “What you know is informant information. You wouldn’t be able to know as much as you do without an informant that is close to me. You know things only my friends would be able to know, only my best of friends. So I want to know who is giving you information.”
Atlas gave a soft laugh and shook his head at Amadhay. “Of course I have an informant. But why on Resor would you think I would tell you his name?”
“So it’s a male?” Amadhay raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms over her chest. “Of course it’s a male. Rea is the only female and she wouldn’t sell information on me for anything.”
Atlas narrowed his eyes, not liking the look in hers. “Have you figured out your little puzzle?” he asked, trying to distract her.
She gave him a vague questioning sound. “Which one?”
“All those questions you were asking me yesterday. Why you, why I have you here, why now?”
Amadhay shrugged as if she honestly didn’t care, which threw Atlas for a moment until he realized what she was doing. She was feigning disinterest so that he would feel the need to give her information. He opened his mouth to do just that, but she beat him to it.
“Tairyn. Tairyn is your informant, isn’t he?” she nodded to herself. “He’s been away for a while, so getting me to bring your assets in was necessary to learn the grounds. You didn’t just wander to my room, you wandered to figure out where everything was. You knew that I would hurt the cyborg, or maybe you made sure that I would, so that she would go to the hospital wing, which is close to the Procedures, which is where we keep all of our files.
“Tairyn would know that, because he worked there before he was sent on an Over the Water mission. Tairyn was my best friend and the only one besides Christein, Indigo and pre-amnesia Amaya who I told about the dragon and canopy dream. Amaya has lost her memory and even before didn’t know me nearly well enough to tell you everything. Monkey and Indy would die before either set me up. It’s Tairyn.”
Atlas honestly couldn’t help but to stare at her in surprise. He was amazed by the tracks her mind went to figure out a question she should not have been able to guess the answer to, not that quickly. She couldn’t have been thinking about this for longer than she had been awake. He wondered what gave it away first, them putting her back in the remade bedroom from her childhood, or Stefan coming to her. He had wanted to refresh her memory, not out his informant.
He smiled at her either way. “That would be a great deduction, Amadhay, if your dream were only a dream. I thought you would have realized that by now. You’ve been here before. You know us.”
She frowned. “I think I would remember being somewhere this cold,” she stated.
Atlas raised his eyebrow. “Don’t you? What are those dreams then?”
“Nothing but dreams,” she replied firmly, looking away from him. She glanced back at Stefan, who had his arms crossed over his chest in a warning to her that she was being watched.
Atlas leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. “Were they? Then how do we know about all your games pretending to save the princess and defeat the dragon? Hm? What about your food patterns or the juice? I doubt any of your current friends could tell us that.”
“Then you have Indigo too. I was wondering who made the golems,” she said.
Atlas didn’t change his expression, though he did mentally pause and eye her more closely. He had known she was intelligent, probably the second most intelligent of the Hakinato first family, and a quick thinker, but hadn’t expected this kind of quick thinking. She was right, though not for the reasons she thought, since he had made sure Ribbon made the golems to keep Amadhay from recognizing her former servant’s magic. Regardless, she was very right on all accounts except one. He needed to press that one to make her doubt her other ideas.
“Amadhay, you know you were here before. You remember it.” She shook her head, but there was a hesitance to it that he jumped on. “On your fourth birthday, the day of your party, Mitch and Stefan took you and your sister and brought you here. We entertained you for two months before we gave you back.”
Alright, he was lying a little. They hadn’t brought her here specifically, because this place hadn't existed eleven years ago. It would have been insane to take her back to the other place, because that was the first place Riffle would look. And no, they hadn't given them back, but had been outmatched by the Phoegani, though things had certainly changed since then. If the ease with which they had infiltrated the Phoegani and taken what they wanted was any indication, either they were much stronger than they had been (which was a given), or the Phoegani was greatly lacking (which he was thinking might also be the case).
She frowned, staring at him. He could see her going over the memories she had thought to only be dreams. She looked around the room, which was a perfect duplicate to the planning room in the other safe base that she would have recognized. She quickly took in every detail, moving faster than he could see so that she was almost a blur of motion. Honestly, he was a little surprised that she didn't attempt to attack him. Maybe Stefan was a good enough incentive, if she remembered enough about him to know how easily he would take her down.
“Why?” she finally asked, now standing directly in front of him. Stefan didn't move forward, though he did uncross his arms.
Atlas raised both eyebrows. “Why what?”
“Why did you kidnap us?” she asked. He couldn't begin to pretend that he knew what was going through her mind, but he assumed that she was thinking the same reason then was the same reason he did it now. It wasn't.
“To give your parents a message.”
She frowned. “What kind of message could you want to give the second brother of a clan and the somewhat powerless sister of the Lady of the Lake that wouldn't be better suited for their siblings?”
Atlas almost laughed. She didn't know. “Or should I say it was for Arne Riffle. He, after all, claimed you, which made you a prize. Both of you.”
“What about Hlala? She was claimed too. Why didn't you take all three of us? I'm sure you could have gotten whatever you wanted better that way.”
“We didn't need her. We only needed the two of you. The point was made perfectly then, just like a new point is being made now.”
She gave him a sharp smile. “So you kidnapped me to give Arne Riff a new message? What happened to trying to give me a new life?”
“Oh, I'm going to give you a better life. The message to Riffle has nothing to do with you. You weren't the point of this, but taking you does make everything much easier to manage. Now they'll be so focused on saving you that no one will notice anything else that may be missing.” He gave her a haughty grin. “Not that it really matters either way.”
She narrowed her eyes, taking a few steps back until she was back against Stefan. “I agree,” she said sweetly.
She looked up at Stefan with an innocent twinkle in her eye that he fell for. Atlas knew what she was about to do the moment he saw the relaxing in Stefan's posture. He had to smile when she took Stefan's moment of softness toward her to steal his gun from his belt. She shot Stefan twice, once in the throat and the second time directly between his eyes, before spinning and shooting Atlas in the chest. He felt the pain, there was no denying it, but he couldn't stop smiling at her. That was the Amadhay he expected.
“It doesn't matter because I don't need to be saved. I'm going to get out of here with whatever you took from us. It may not be today, but it will happen. And when it does, you won't be smiling,” she promised even as she watched the powder in the bullet sizzle and bubble out of the bullet hole before the hole closed around the bullet. He hissed as the bullet disintegrated inside of his body, but held his hand out to Stefan, who was reaching for Amadhay.
Amadhay didn't move, studying the hole in his shirt as if she could still see the bullet wound. “What good was that, Amadhay?” he asked her, straightening up and touching the hole, before giving a sigh. “Now you've upset Stefan, ruined my favorite shirt, and wasted three good bullets.”
“Go drown in the Water,” she cursed him, but still didn't move.
He sighed. “Stefan, take her back to her room until she can be trusted to play with others.”