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Buried In Code

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It started with Edward Kenway. Months after the coronal ejection that almost ended the world, Abstergo Entertainment made an excited announcement to their staff about the start of a new studio and the excellent project they had lined up for those lucky individuals specially chosen for this assignment. Studio 17 would be exploring the lineage of a wonderful donor who had recently passed; he had wished his identity remain private and so would be referred to only as Sample 17.

When Shaun Hastings had read the email – pilfered off of a legit Abstergo employee who had been a part of Sample 1 project Liberation – he had choked on his tea. For the past 6 months, he and Rebecca had been trying to figure out the fate of the body of Desmond Miles; they had returned to the temple in New York, only to find it sealed and crumbling, they had searched every Abstergo server they could get their hands on. No matter where they dug or for what, it was as if their friend’s body had disintegrated. There had actually been hope at one point that whatever Desmond had triggered in the temple had destroyed his body; turned him to ash and blown that to the wind.

Now, there was their worst fear come to life sitting on Shaun’s computer screen at two-in-the-morning as he sat in a dingy safehouse outside of Beijing. Abstergo had gotten to Desmond’s body and worse, their animus program had advanced enough that they had the ability to access his genetic memories without Desmond being alive to comb through everything. The Templars were using their friend’s corpse to profit from entertainment consumption. If that wasn’t corporate America, Shaun didn’t know what was.

Further digging provided that Studio 17 would be located in the same facility as Studio 1 – the newest location of Abstergo in Montreal. It had held its grand opening at the beginning of the year and had released their first work – Liberation – shortly after, but the hacking of the program by Erudito had delayed any other releases up to this point.

Now, the industry had their hands on one of the greatest wealths of historic data possible, dozens of Assassin lineages all packed into a single person. And he wasn’t even able to put up a fight anymore.

If Vidic had still been alive, he’d have jizzed himself, Shaun growled as he continued to search for an in to the building.

For being so new, the company was horrifically lacking in job opportunities. They had your basics – janitorial, door greeting, two lower tier customer support positions, but nothing that allowed for surveillance or information gathering, so Shaun started expanding the search to out-businesses. Abstergo utilized the abilities of a small, non-descript, local chain of cafes to provide their workers with a caffeine fix. They also out-sourced to a local courier team for mail, packages, and data transfers.

The café wasn’t ideal, but it would put him in a position to listen to people’s gossip. God knew he wouldn’t be the one to take on being a courier. That had Bec’s name written all over it. All they had to do was to somehow manage getting enough security clearance to get access to the building’s servers, hack the system, and figure out what exactly those Templar bastards had done with Desmond’s body and where they’d put it on ice.

Easy, right?


 

Integrating with staff was simple enough. Rebecca had always been easy to get along with and the extreme sports aspect of her life made her quickly popular among her fellow couriers. Despite his complete inability to make coffee – that may or may not have been completely intentional and part of a petty plot for vengeance – Shaun’s café kiosk seemed to receive decent, if not above average, attention.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before something went weird. It had only been a week into working their new covers before Shaun was approached by a man with the absolute worst facial hair to ever grace the face of the planet. Sadly, Mr. Creeper-Stache was exactly the in they were looking for.

John Standish was head of the IT department and had the ability to get into just about any system they needed. Clearances levels were easily changed, accesses granted, but it wasn’t enough. With John, Becca was able to access the Abstergo server network, but not actually view any of the files without setting off a series of alarms that would definitely lead back to them. It was like being able to view the menu options of a video but not actually watch it – absolutely frustrating. Thankfully for everyone involved, John apparently had no moral compass and recruited the newest employee of the Sample 17 Project to do all their dirty work; Becca just needed to give John directions to what they needed and then he could relay said directions to the poor semi-enslaved scapegoat.

It was one late night while Rebecca was up searching her way through the massive amount of ‘menu options’ that they first encountered it.

She had been backing her way out of a dead-end search through a folder containing random extras about features on the Sample 17 floor – a few documents about the collectable figurines and correlating pictures – when suddenly a file appeared; it was unnamed, unmarked, and seemed to have only just been added. Safe to say, Becca’s interest had been piqued. While she couldn’t access the thing, she could get the most basic of details – file size, creation date, how many sub-files were in it – but right after she clicked on it, the folder disappeared.

Aft first, Rebecca thought someone must have realized that she was poking around on the servers and responded to her perusal. She naturally responded by throwing up all the code she could to cover whatever digital trail might have been left but after a few minutes of alarm bells not going off, she figured it might simply have been a glitch or someone dropped a folder in the wrong place. Going back in her code, she pulled up the information she’d been able to glean off the file.

It wasn’t anything shockingly amazing but it did make her tilt her head in slight intrigue.  Nested in the unnamed file were dozens of sub-folders with a possibly startling amount of data – storage was ranging into the terabytes.

But while the file provided a brief distraction, it didn’t have to do with the current mission.

It was probably just a back storage of security footage anyway.

So Becs continued to back her way out to a broader area of the menu web and continue to search for what Abstergo had done with Desmond, putting the file out of her mind.

Years later, she’d wish that she had let that brief bout of curiosity roam a bit more. She’d wish that she had said ‘fuck it’ and broken her way through every security measure surrounding the servers, their data, and that file, detection be damned.

But she hadn’t. And for that, she might never forgive herself.