The darkness remained for a moment, before Amanda opened her eyes. The images shifted, doubling and then blending into each other, then came into focus. It wasn't as disconcerting as usual, but Amanda didn't know if this was because she was getting used to using the Animus or because this was a completely different operating system. Possibly both.
“Alright, easy,” said a soft voice, as Amanda's headgear was removed. She looked into a cute face that smiled down at her, complemented by short red hair, “Welcome back,” said the woman, standing straight and setting the head-piece that had been on Amanda's head on the desk behind her. A giant flat-screen monitor covered a full wall and displayed all of Amanda's stats and numbers, images of her progress popping up and fading. It was more fun than she expected, this data analysis job.
“Your numbers look good,” said the woman, “Now let's get you up,” she put out her hand and Amanda took it, standing up. She wobbled a little, but the calibre of the Animus she had used was fairly light compared to the one in the back of Rebecca's caravan. Still, Amanda had an impression to fake, and so she smiled at the woman as she pretended to recover.
“Before we move on, you're going to need this,” the woman scooped an ear-piece off of the desk and fixed it to Amanda's ear. Amanda quickly read the name (she had already forgotten) pinned to the woman's lapel - Melanie Lemay. Melanie tapped her own ear-piece and said, “Hello, bonjour, testing... It works?”
Amanda received the message through the ear-piece and nodded, “Like a charm,” she said.
“Great,” Melanie replied, the door to Amanda's left sliding open, “Let's take a walk outside.”
Amanda followed her, observing her surroundings with a mixture of genuine awe and wonder. This place was so... pretty, “So, I did well?” she asked, as she passed by a large virtual poster of Abstergo Entertainment's up-coming program 'Devils of the Caribbean'. It had bright images of ships, and men in frock-coats and feathered hats wielding shining cutlasses and gleaming hooks. The edges of the poster were darkened to make the image pop out.
Melanie nodded, “Your file says you've done some memory research before, but not to this extent - which is surprising,” she smiled, “You're very good.”
“I aim to please,” Amanda chuckled, mentally thanking Rebecca for all the lessons, “This place is amazing,” she looked through the clear glass ceiling above her, supported by large uniform pillars that slanted inwards as they got higher. The pillars caught the light of the sun that funnelled through the ceiling, giving them the impression that they were shimmering, “I feel like I've been living under a rock.”
“Right? This building is only about six months old, but Abstergo Entertainment has been in business for a few years. Since 2010,” Melanie explained. Amanda wondered if all of this was scripted talk. It sounded very mechanical, like the woman was being paid to say these words exactly.
Many people were milling around and talking about the various projects. Melanie and Amanda made their way past different virtual displays of Abstergo Entertainment's previous release, Liberation. Melanie went on to explain that Liberation was just the 'tip of the iceberg' and that Abstergo Entertainment would be releasing personal Animus servers for the whole world to enjoy - but only to grant passive experiences, though, of edited versions of every exciting event that history could offer.
Amanda passed by Shaun's coffee stall and he caught her eye for just a second, before completely ignoring her. He was wearing a brown waistcoat over a purple shirt and he had dyed his hair black. Amanda didn't know if it was as a cover-up or because she had said she preferred blonde men. The thought made her frown.
Amanda climbed up a set of steps, and followed Melanie towards an elevator. She stepped in and they rode the elevator up one floor. The doors were transparent, so Amanda could see the people below her shrink as they ascended.
When the doors opened, Melanie gestured and said, “Ah, there's the boss, Olivier Garneau, our CEO. I'll introduce you,” she led the way and greeted the tall man in a blue sweatshirt and brown slacks.
“Salut, Melanie,” he said. Olivier spoke with a French accent, “How are you?”
“Tres bien,” she replied and then gestured towards Amanda, “Have you met our new hire, Anna Bruce? She just started today.”
“I have not,” he said, regarding Amanda and inclining his head in greeting, “Bonjour. What project?”
Before Amanda could respond, Melanie said, “Sample 17, the Kenway line.”
“Ah!” smiled Olivier, “Haytham? Connor?”
“Edward, sir,” Amanda replied, “the pirate.”
“Ah,” he laughed, “Argh, yaaar, matey! Very exciting,” he put out his hand and Amanda shook it, “Welcome aboard,” he said, and then turned away when someone else called on him, “Nice to meet you, Anna.”
Melanie took Amanda's arm and gave her a brief tour of the floor, “Let's get you settled in. This is the Sample 17 Floor. We're looking through the ancestral memories of one very generous donor - Desmond Miles. We're pulling all the best stuff from his DNA, and hopefully we can create some amazing experiences from what we find in there,” she said and then gestured to an office - circular and low-walled, “Here is your own Animus workstation. This is all yours, so sit back, relax and find us some good footage.”
Amanda hopped from one foot to the other, “This is so awesome,” she said, sitting down in her swivel chair and picking up her head-piece, "I'll get on it right away."
“If you need any hints or tips, the Animus is loaded with tutorial programmes, so you should have no problems,” Melanie grinned, “and I'll check in on you later. Happy pirating!” and she walked away.
Amanda turned to the monitor and put on the head-piece - but didn't turn any of the equipment on. She wanted to look like she was working, when really she was waiting for--
“Hello? Helloooooo? Is this thing on?”
Amanda tapped her headset, “Hey, John. Sounds like you're having fun.”
“I am!” he laughed, “But we should probably get to work.”
“Do we have to? I just love the sound of your voice in my ear.”
“Is that flirting I hear?”
“Try sarcasm,” Amanda laughed, “Okay, so walk me through this.”
“Log on and hack into the hard drive - like Rebecca showed you.”
Amanda punched keys, blundering a while as she tried to work out the processing system that the Animus computers worked on. Once she'd figured it out, she managed to find the hard drive but was having trouble entering it.
“John,” she said, “there's some weird ball-thingy that won't let me through. What am I supposed to do?”
“Weird ball-thingy?” John said, in a sour tone, “Really? You couldn't say 'sphere'.”
“Weird ball-thingy seems more apt,” Amanda retorted, “Now how do it get past it?”
“You have to move the data around the sphere, to reach the core. Advance security system.”
“Looks like an old arcade game to me,” Amanda said, spinning the sphere on-screen around and finding the core. She moved the data towards it, “It's spinning around, like a basketball on a player's finger. It really is an old arcade game..." she paused, waiting for the program to load, "Er, John...”
“I think I did it. I'm in the C:// drive. Where do I go now?”
“Search a for all documents containing the number '17'. Anything we need on Desmond should to be labelled either Subject 17 or Sample 17.”
Amanda did as she was told, when John cried, “Shit, Amanda. Someone's detected you. You need to get out if that drive. Now.”
“I think I've got it...” Amanda said, ignoring John, “'Post-Mortem Report: Subject 17' - is that it?”
“Amanda,” John said, a sense of urgency in his voice, “force shut down your PC. Right now.”
“I'm nearly done downloading the file,” Amanda said.
The file completed downloading and Amanda forced her PC to shut down. She was about to sigh in relief, when a hand grasped her shoulder.
Amanda turned to see an Abstergo security guard standing behind her, “Ma'am, come with me please.”