The rise and fall of the surrogate initiative - Part 1
Markuz, September 7, 2014
Translated by: Stefania

The modern day portion of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag did not move the general plot forward as its predecessors may have done (and that would still be a debatable argument), but it surely delivered on what was promised during the marketing campaign in terms of side contents. Among the most plot-centered ones we can surely number the Abstergo Entertainment and Abstergo Industries documents, the emotional Desmond files, the Sticky Notes and the Subject Zero files and we wanted to dedicate this piece exactly to the analysis of the latter.

Ready to go?
The Subject Zero files are not important for the progression of the modern-day plot either, but they surely provide us with insight about the "historical bases" that led to the development of the Sample 17 Project that we saw in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, which allowed anybody to experience the genetic memories of another individual (Desmond specifically). As we saw in the past iterations of our beloved franchise, this possibility had not been available until late 2012 (with the AC3 multiplayer portion and AC3: Liberation), except for the Data Dump Scanner from Project Legacy. This happened because up until then the original Animus and its evolutions had been more advantageous for both Abstergo and the Assassins, even considering the "limitation" of being able to explore only the lives of the subject's ancestors. As we will see, the technical reason behind this, when the idea of reliving the life of other people's ancestors was tested for the first time, was the lack of processing power, but that does not explain why the technology (which back then was already available) hasn't almost been mentioned up until 2014. The Subject Zero files not only give an answer to that, but also provide us with new and recurring modern-day characters, a storyline in the past with mentions of real historical characters and also the presence of an artifact. In other words, it's a small scale standalone Assassin's Creed chapter.
Without further ado, then, let's dig into the files.

"Subject Zero" — audio file 1

Unknown Abstergo Employee: Timestamp, August 16, 2013. The following audio clips were selected from over one hundred and sixty hours of reel-to-reel tape, found in the residence of the late Doctor Warren Vidic, following his murder in December, 2012. According to labels on the tapes‘ canisters, these recordings were made over a 14 month period between 1980 and 1981 without the consent of their primary subject, Mrs. Aileen Bock, a colleague of Dr. Vidic's and the originator of Abstergo's Surrogate Initiative. Mrs. Bock is now deceased. It should be stated unequivocally that Dr. Vidic made these recordings illegally and of his own volition, using wire-taps and hidden microphones. Abstergo Industries had no knowledge of his actions, and disavows any responsibility for them.

This introduction, as brief as it may appear, is what binds the five files that we are going to analyze. This unknown employee is probably creating a report for his superiors after finding the reel-to-reel tapes that Vidic recorded in 1980-1981 and stored in his residence. We also get to know that this report (and the selection of our five audio files) took place after Vidic's Death and that the audio clips were secretly recorded so this means that these tapes were part of one of Vidic's plans at the beginning of the '80s, which also means that already back then he was the calculating individual that we have known in the first chapters of the AC franchise. So why did Vidic record all these audio tapes through wire-taps and hidden microphones? The answer lies in the project called "Surrogate Initiatative" and in its creator, Dr. Aileen Bock.

(Machine noise, this scene probably takes place in an Abstergo laboratory)

Satish: And we're live. Capacitors at full. Ease the signal in. A little more. You feel anything?

Aileen Bock: Don’t be timid. Double it.

Satish: No, we’re taking it easy. Twenty percent.

Aileen Bock: Thirty.

Satish: Aileen, go easy. We’re 6 past yesterday.

Aileen Bock: And boost the inputs.

Satish: Too risky.

Aileen Bock: Not if we split the I/O signals.

Satish: Twenty-five percent. Ease up.

Aileen Bock: Ah, Okay! There! I see something... I...

Satish: What is it?

Aileen Bock: (German: My God.) I hear talking.

Satish: You're.. You're okay?

Aileen Bock: (German: Yes, I hear taIking!)... It's... it's German... (German: My name is Miriam Kurtz...) I see a light. It’s cold.

Aileen Bock: (German: I'll say nothing!)... there's a man with me ...( German: I have told you all I will!) (sigh)

Satish: Keep an eye on her vitals.

Aileen Bock: (German: My name is Miriam Kurtz, and I am a Navajo!) (pause) Des Hitlers Zwang / der macht uns klein / noch liegen wir in Ketten. / Doch einmal werden wir wieder frei, / wir werden die Ketten schon brechen.

Satish: Aileen?

Aileen Bock : Denn unsere Fäuste, die sind hart,ja / und die Messer sitzen lose / für die Freiheit der Jugend / kämpfe Navajos! (sigh)

Satish: Switch off!

Unknown Abstergo Employee : Powering down!

Aileen Bock: Kämpft Navajos!

Satish: Get her out of there!

Aileen Bock: (sigh) (panting)

Satish: Oxygen. Open the valve!

Aileen Bock: No. (cough) No, Satish, I’m... I’m fine. Really.

Satish: Quit the heroics. Just breathe.

Aileen Bock: (breathing)

Satish: Better?

Aileen Bock: Yes... Yes, thank you. Did we get something?

Satish: It'll take a while to parse. What did you see?

Aileen Bock: It wasn't just seeing... it was feeling. Being. I was... I was scared.

Satish: You were shouting in German.

Aileen Bock: I think I was IN Germany. I was in Germany, Satish. (smile) (breathing)

We are immediately introduced to our protagonist, Dr. Aileen Bock, and his closest colleague (and probably an Animus Technician) Satish. The audio file starts in the middle of the action with Aileen giving orders about the parameter settings of a machine which is very likely to be an Animus or some sort of derivation from it. Satish appears to have a "conservative" approach while Aileen asks for the opposite. Immediately after this we can understand why Satish tells Aileen to "go easy": Aileen begins to say that she is seeing a cold light and is hearing people speaking in German. This means that Aileen herself is acting as a test subject (we still do not know for
No, not them...
what) and that is why Satish appears to be worried.

While describing what she sees (she is in a room with a man, with a cold light pointed at her, while she firmly states that she will not say anything more) , Aileen starts speaking German and says that her name is Miriam Kurtz and that she is a Navajo. So Miriam appears to be Aileen's ancestor and she also adds that she belongs to the Navajos, which, as we’ll see, is not a reference to the Navajo People. Miriam sees a cold light pointed at her and she is in a room with a man to whom she screams that she is not going to say more than she already did. It seems like Miriam is in a difficult predicament and this is where she starts screaming:

Des Hitlers Zwang, der macht uns klein,
noch liegen wir in Ketten.
Doch einmal werden wir wieder frei,
wir werden die Ketten schon brechen.
Denn unsere Fäuste, die sind hart,
ja--und die Messer sitzen lose,
für die Freiheit der Jugend,
kämpfen Navajos.

Which translates to:

Hitler's dictates make us small,
we're yet bound in chains.
But one day we'll again walk tall,
no chain can us restrain.
For hard are our fists,
Yes! And knives at our wrists,
for youth to be free,
Navajos lay siege.

Memorial plate which can be found in Cologne
where on October 25, 1944 among others, some
young Edelweiss Pirates were publicly hanged
This is not a “poem” which was created directly for the game. These are the actual lyrics that were sung by the Navajos, a subgroup of the so-called Edelweiss Pirates, which was a group of very young people who emerged in western Germany in the late 1930s in response to the strict regimentation of the Hitler Youth, the youth organization of the Nazi Party. So after this brief research we already know a lot of information: Miriam’s memories seem to concern a period of time that goes from the late 1930s until the first half of the 1940s, Miriam belongs to the Navajos, so she should be one of the many rebels to Hitler’s government, and we also can hypothesize, as indicated by our Hephaestus, that the Navajos (or the Edelweiss Pirates) may have connections to the Assassins (or at the very least that the quote “And knives at our wrists” was a fine reference chosen by Darby McDevitt, the lead script writer for AC4).

So, as we saw, Aileen keeps speaking German and that is why Satish orders to switch off the Animus-like machine that she is using. Only after a few moments Aileen comes round, even if she is worn out by what she just experienced. This does not affects her one bit though, as she is too happy that her experiment gave a positive result, bringing her “IN Germany”.

(Next day, background sounds of a cafeteria / restaurant) Satish: Good morning. Well rested?

Aileen Bock: Exhausted. Yesterday was... an incredible find.

Satish: Seems so. What did it feel like?

Aileen Bock: (moving from the cafeteria to the lab) It's foggy but I... I relived the memories of a young German woman. Early twenties, I think. A man was interrogating me. Looming over me and asking questions. He was shouting but I was shouting back. And then this... this poem just came out. Like a chant.

Satish: Fascinating. I'm eager for you to hear the tape.

Aileen Bock: Is it ready?

Satish: Yeah. We transliterated the data onto an audio file. Took all night to process the language.

Aileen Bock: Spool it up.

Satish: Of course. Have a seat. Judging by the subject matter, and the setting, I'd say you landed somewhere in Germany the 1940s. One or two generations back. During the War, I'd imagine.

Aileen Bock: 1940s Germany? That would be Miriam Kurtz. My ex-husband’s mother.

Satish: So... she's not related to you in any way?

Aileen Bock: God, I hope not. I’d hate to find out my ex- husband is also my brother.

Satish: (laugh) Well, if it was Miriam Kurtz, then we hit a home run. You tapped into someone else's bloodline entirely.

Aileen Bock: Should we celebrate?

Satish: We'll listen first...

Abstergo unknown employee: Surrogate Initiative, Test Session 23. July 29th, 1980. Host, Aileen Bock. DNA Sample, SB1970.

Satish: lt’s a little garbled at first. This is you settling into the memory.


Interrogation host: Your name, say it!

Miriam Kurtz: My name is Miriam Kurtz.

Interrogation host: Louder!

Miriam Kurtz: My name is Miriam Kurtz, and I am a Navajo!

Interrogation host: Where did you last see the Artifact? Who holds it now?

Miriam Kurtz: I'll say nothing. I have told you all I will.

Interrogation host: I don't believe that is true. Who has the artifact!

Miriam Kurtz: Hitler's dictates make us small, and we are bound in chains. But one day again we shall walk tall, no binds will us, restrain.

Interrogation host: Enough!

Miriam Kurtz: For hard are our fists, Yes! And knives at our wrists, for youth to be free, Navajos lay siege!

Interrogation host: Lock her away!

Miriam Kurtz: Navajos lay siege!

Satish: And that’s where we pulled you out.

Aileen Bock: Wow. What would it take to get a visual render of all that?

Satish: Months, unfortunately. It took thirteen hours just to process the audio. Visual takes much longer.

Aileen Bock: But Vidic is able to record audio and visual in real-time. How does he do it?

Satish: His subjects are exploring their own genetic memories. That requires much less processing power on-

(buzzer sound)

Aileen Bock: Hold on, sorry. Aileen here.

Female Secretary: Hello. You have a 10 o'clock in Lillian's office. lt's 10:13 now.

Aileen Bock: Shit! I'm sorry. Tell her l’ll be right there. And... tell her we have some good news.

Female Secretary: No problem.

Satish: You in trouble?

Aileen Bock: The monthly progress report. I'm trying to be honest about our progress, but no matter how much I polish our facts, Warren Vidic swoops in, promising the moon for pennies, and gets ten-times the funding for his Animus Project.

Satish: Well, we are using his Animus technology... he's the foundation, we're the skyscraper.

Aileen Bock: Which is why he should be a tech lead, not a Project Director. Good work, Satish.

(laboratory background noises)

As mentioned before, even the next day Aileen states that she is exhausted but very happy about her "incredible find". She tells Satish what she remembers about the life that she experienced the day before describing the scene of an interrogation (the cold light pointed at her from the previous segment could be an important hint) and the fact that she (or should we say Miriam), was not cooperating to the point where the poem (the Navajos motto) came out "like a chant".

Considering the setting, the language and the poem Satish and Aileen can position the memories experienced by her during the 1940s. As noticed by our Hephaestus, this is maybe what the AC Initiates timeline was referring to when it indicated 1715, 1849 and 1942 as important dates. So can we hypothesize then that Miriam's memories take place in 1942? The idea of the 1940's immediately reminds Aileen of Miriam Kurtz, her ex-husband's mother. This is the key element of this segment and probably of all of the files because it shows what Aileen is doing and what her Surrogate Initiative project is all about: already in the 1980s Abstergo was experimenting reliving the lives of people who were not direct ancestors of the subject. This is also probably one of the reasons why Vidic recorded these files (even if it's not the only one, as we'll see).

Maybe the Surrogate Initiate experiments were
run on a machine which was similar to this one?

Aileen and Satish then sit down to listen to the audio file of Miriam's memory that had been processed during the night.

The audio file (as all the audio files of Aileen's test sessions) is preceded by a brief description that helps us understanding a few things: what we saw in the first segment (Aileen experiencing Miriam's memories) took place on July 29th, 1980 and already was the 23rd test session of Aileen's Surrogate Initiative project. Also, the fact that the description of the file mentions directly the name "Surrogate Initiative" means that it was an official project, even if it probably was in the experimental phase, considering the little amount of test sessions up until then.

The audio file starts exactly with what we saw from the previous segment, with Miriam saying her name. This time, though, we hear Miriam's own voice and the voice of the man interrogating her, and this acts as a proof that Miriam's memories were decoded and converted to the audio format after Aileen experienced them.

Miriam says her name and is forced to repeat it. The interrogation host is aggressive from the start of the memory and we immediately know why. He makes a reference to an "artifact", which in the AC language is of course a Piece of Eden. This is why the man is interrogating Aileen and because of that we can safely assume that he is a Templar or a Templar emissary. It's not possible to understand if the man's hypothesis about her knowing the location of the artifact is correct because Miriam does fall to his aggressiveness. On the contrary, this is where she starts "chanting" the poem of the Navajos, not even stopping when the interrogation host orders to lock her away, which also means that now she is a prisoner.

The audio file is already ended, but Aileen quickly asks Satish about a visual render of this brief memory. Satish explains that it took thirteen hours to process the audio and it would take months to create a visual render, and this is because Aileen is not exploring her own genetic memories (like young Dr. Vidic is doing with his first experiments with the Animus Project). This is the other key element of the Surrogate Initiative project, namely the technical limitations. Aileen's project was a breakthrough per se because it allowed to experience other people's memories, but it required a lot more processing power than the Animus Project which, in turn, could provide audio and visual output in real time because it explored the genetic memories of the subjects themselves. This is what I meant at the beginning of the article when I mentioned the Animus being more "advantageous" for both Abstergo and the Assassins up until late 2012.

Satish's explanation gets interrupted by Aileen receiving a call from a secretary who reminds her of a meeting with "Lillian" for the monthly progress reports. We also get to know that Aileen is expecting Vidic to be part of the meeting too and we also see how she already has a negative opinion of him ("promising the moon for pennies") and is frustrated because his Animus Project is getting more funding than the Surrogate Initiative. The last important information of this segment is the fact that Satish confirms that the machine which he and Aileen are using for the Surrogate Initiative is a derivation of Vidic's Animus.

(inside of Lillian's office)

Warren Vidic: It's incredible footage, really. Clear and vivid. And the Subject was synched for a full sixty-two minutes. Came out speaking French after his last session. Passably fluent. And with full recall of everything he'd gone through-

(door opens and closes)

Aileen Bock: Sorry. Sorry, I'm late. I was reviewing some data.

Lillian: It's fine. Warren was just telling me about his first Subject. Mister...?

Warren Vidic: No names. Call him Subject One. Confidentiality.

Lillian: And how about you, Aileen? What's your good news?

Aileen Bock: Well... We did it. We synched with an unembedded memory. Outside the bloodline. That's a first.

Warren Vidic: Really?

Aileen Bock: Satish was able to process the audio today. A short clip. You can hear it for yourself.

Lillian: Only audio? No real-time memory feeds like Vidic has?

Aileen Bock: Well, that’s the difficulty with Surrogate Genetic Memory data. Because I'm viewing memories NOT embedded in my own DNA, we can't rely on my cognitive faculties to help me process the signal. All we can do is record the raw data and transliterate it later.

Lillian: Hold on... you're running this experiment on yourself?

Aileen Bock: I am. It's going well.

Lillian: I don't like the sound of that.

Aileen Bock: Look, the sample I'm using... the DNA comes from my own son. It's safer this way.

Warren Vidic: Ah, good thinking.

Aileen Bock: Fifty percent of my Son's DNA is also mine, which reduces the danger by a huge margin. Meaning I can now explore the memories of people who aren't directly related to me, on his Father's side.

Warren Vidic: But for brief periods of time, l imagine.

Aileen Bock: Right. Just a minute or two, so far. But we're getting there. Come by the lab and listen for yourself.

Warren Vidic: I will, when I have a moment. Unfortunately, work beckons. Ladies...

Aileen Bock: That man is colder than a San Francisco summer.

Lillian: Stay focused, Aileen. You both have important work to do.

Aileen Bock: Obviously. But my work requires HIS Animus technology. I feel a little caged in.

Lillian: That's collaboration, Aileen. It's how science works. I shouldn't have to remind you.

Aileen Bock: I know. l'm just... tired. Stop by and see us today. We have a lot to share.

Lillian: If not today, then this week sometime.

Aileen Bock: Thank you.

(door opens and closes)

Warren Vidic in the 80s
As mentioned in the previous segment, Aileen goes to Lillian's office to take part in the meeting dedicated to the monthly progress reports. As expected by Aileen, Vidic is part of the meeting too and is telling Lillian (who by now appears to be an Abstergo executive) about the first test subject for his Animus project. Vidic does not disclose the subject's name (introducing for the first time the subject classification by calling him Subject One), he only says that he spoke French during his 62 minutes long session recalling everything he experience. This is not the only moment in which we meet Subject One though, as AC4 also features an "interview" between him and Vidic taking place in February 12, 1981 (so half a year later). From this interview, then, among other things, we got to know that Subject One was male, caucasian, quite young (from the voice) and, more importantly,
Aveline De Grandprè
a descendant of Aveline de Grandpré. Also, looking at the dates, it seems that Subject One acted as a test subject for at least six months.
So, during the meeting Vidic is describing probably one of Subject One' s first sessions in the Animus and its success while Aileen enters the room. Lillian asks her about her progress and she answers by saying that she and Satish were able to experience from the first time a memory outside the test subject's, which surprises Vidic too.

As we mentioned more than once before, the issue of Aileen’s project is the format (audio) of the results and the duration of the sessions (few minutes at best). This puts the Surrogate Initiative at a disadvantage position compared to Vidic’s audio-visual real-time memory feeds and hour-long sessions for the Animus Project and Lillian quickly notices that. Another thing that puts Aileen at a “disadvantage” compared to Vidic is that she is experimenting on herself, though she is doing it “safely”, by using a DNA sample coming from her son.

Aileen tries to show the pros of her project, but Vidic exposes the session duration flaw. As always, Vidic shows to be a manipulating mind, because he shows the issue in a kind way, not criticizing Aileen but still casting her project in a bad light. Aileen “defends” herself by saying that the project is getting better and also invites him to her lab to see it directly.

Vidic accepts and then gets out of Lillian’s office to get back to work and this gives Aileen the occasion to give vent to what she feels about Vidic. She feels caged in because the Surrogate Initiative needs the Animus technology (so this is a confirmation of what kind of machine Aileen and Satish use) but Lillian tells her to calm down and to be cooperative. The segment ends with Aileen inviting Lillian to her lab too, an invitation that the latter accepts, but does not seem to feel it as one of her priorities.

"Subject Zero" — audio file 2

(laboratory background noises)

Abstergo unknown employee: Surrogate Initiative, Test Session 27. October 21st, 1980. Host, Aileen Bock. DNA Sample, SB1970.

(throat-clearing sound)

Interrogation host: Miriam. My dear girl, there is no good reason for you to be here. But your intransigence requires that I detain you until you give me information I can act upon. The location of the artifact perhaps. Or the whereabouts of your leader, Barthel Schink. Just a little something to give Minister Goebbels some... encouragement that we are on the right track.

Miriam Kurtz: How about a nice hug? He looks so sad in all his photographs.

Interrogation host: (laughs) Yes, he does, doesn't he? Perhaps you could pay him a visit yourself? He likes beautiful women. Actresses. Musicians.

Miriam Kurtz: Pirates?

Interrogation host: That's right, pirates. Pirates of the Edelweiss? Isn't that what you kids call yourselves? It's very amusing... and illegal, of course.

Miriam Kurtz: Breaking Hitler's laws IS half the fun.

Interrogation host: Oh, I imagine so. I imagine you were having a wonderful time just before we captured you and your insurgent friends...

(static noise)

Satish: And that's the end of it.

Aileen Bock: Dammit. Why can't we sustain the signal for more than a few minutes? I need to relax.

Satish: That's not the issue. This is dangerous work. These memories aren't in your bloodline. That's why it's not holding.

Aileen Bock: There's got to be a solution.

Satish: Any idea what they mean by "The Artifact?" I've heard that a few times now.

Aileen Bock: Not sure. I don't think Miriam knew either. Not much comes into her mind when he asks about it.

Satish: But she's protecting the other members of her group. The Edelweiss Pirates or something?

Aileen Bock: Yeah, Barthel Schink. Have we looked him up?

Satish: No. We can.

Aileen Bock: We should. Put your intern on it.

Satish: Right. High priority.

Aileen Bock: Yeah. This isn't getting easier, Jesus.

(laboratory background noises)

We have moved to October, but we are still in the 27th session of the Surrogate Initiative. It seems like Aileen only had three sessions between the end of July and the end of October. At first sight, this does not look good for Aileen’s project.

Barthel Schink
This time the segment opens directly with one of Miriam’s memories. This may be a different interrogation from the one Aileen experienced before, but the setting and the interrogation host are the same. What changes is the interrogation host’s approach, which now appears to be kinder, but that is only another way to get to what he wants, which is the location of the aforementioned artifact or the whereabouts of her leader, Barthel Schink, who is a real historical character, as you can see from the Wikipedia link (Schink was hanged on November 10, 1944 by the Gestapo, which means that these memories obviously predate that event, and this supports the idea of 1942 that we mentioned above). The most important thing in this dialogue, though, is that this kind of information would act as an “encouragement” for Minister Goebbels. This is reference is to Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitler’s closest associates and most devoted followers, who was Reich Minister of the Propaganda from 1933 to 1945. The fact that Goebbels may be interested in these pieces of information
Joseph Goebbels
(particularly the one related to the artifact) and the loyalty that the interrogation host may have towards him, coupled with Hitler being a Templar puppet as shown in glyph #12 from AC 2, leads to the hypothesis that Goebbels was part of the Templars too or was influenced by them, and at the same time that he was behind Miriam’s detainment.

Miriam and the man exchange “blows” in a battle of wits before the recording of the memory ends with a static noise. What we see – or should I say hear – after this, is again a frustrated Aileen because the sessions are still lasting no more than few minutes.
Satish tries to divert her attention towards the mention of "The Artifact" to try and see if maybe she felt that Miriam actually knew what it was, but she answers negatively, adding that even Miriam didn't have a clear idea about it.

This reaction by both Satish and Aileen surely shows that while they are working at Abstergo, they are not part of the Templars (they surely would have reacted very differently to the mention of the artifact). The segment ends with Aileen and Satish trying to figure out who the Edelweiss Pirates were and to find information about Barthel Schink.

(phone call sound)

Seamus: Hello?

Aileen Bock: Hi Seamus. It's mom.

Seamus: Hey.

(barking sounds in the background)

Aileen Bock: How are you-

Seamus: DAD! IT'S MOM!

(whisper by Aileen)

Karl: Hello? Aileen?

Aileen Bock: Hi, Karl. How's Seamus?

Karl: Great. We were out shopping for school clothes.

Aileen Bock: Yeah. The Summer just sped by.

Karl: They all do.

Aileen Bock: I never seem to notice. No windows in the office.

Karl: Right. Trapped in the lab. So did you need to talk?

Aileen Bock: Yes, sorry. I was curious about your mother, actually.

Karl: Oh... Ok.

Aileen Bock: How much did she talk about the war when you were growing up?

Karl: Not often. Bits and pieces. Why?

Aileen Bock: I was doing some research last week... about the World War Two... and something came up about the Edelweiss Pirates? Or the Navajos. And your Mother's name popped up.

Karl: Really? That's an odd coincidence.

Aileen Bock: Does that... Does any of that ring a bell?

Karl: Yeah. Mom ran with that group while the war was on. They were a group of kids who wanted to avoid the Hitler Youth programs. But in later years they escalated their activities to, uh... bigger ideas. Like vandalism and sabotage.

Aileen Bock: But why Navajos... and pirates?

Karl: Just some of the names they used. Navajos. Edelweiss pirates. You know kids. They wore little pins, little white flowers. I may still have hers.

Aileen Bock: That's interesting.

Karl: And this is for work? Researching my mother?

Aileen Bock: Not exactly. But... sorry, I can't talk about it.

Karl: Right. You never could.

Aileen Bock: Hey. Don't. I didn't mean to be flippant.

Karl: No, don't mind me. All for the greater good.

Aileen Bock: I like to think so.

This segment has a completely different setting and exposes a bit of Aileen's difficult personal life. Aileen calls her ex-husband Karl
Emmett Leary (from ACInitiates)
to get more information about her mother, Miriam Kurtz, but her son Seamus answers first. Aileen tries and talk to him but he immediately calls his father, which may mean he does not have a good relationship with her.
Aileen tries and make some small talk, but Karl asks her to get to the point. Aileen then asks him about Miriam and the Edelweiss Pirates, but hiding the real reasons behind the question.
Karl describes in general who the Navajos / Edelweiss Pirates were but then directly asks Aileen if researching his mother is part of Aileen's job and sadly she self forces not to talk about it (we have already seen what happens to Abstergo employees when they talk about company policy or projects or even just risk doing that, like what happened with Emmett Leary, an Assassin from Gavin Banks' team who, in turn, in the past had been a software engineer for the Surrogate Initiative ).
Karl reacts dejected by Aileen's comment and by saying "You never could [talk about it]" maybe he is also mentioning one of the reasons behind their divorce.

(Machine noise)

Aileen Bock: (voice in pain) Ah!

Satish: Power down!

Satish: You all right?

(laboratory background noises)

Aileen Bock: Dammit! Five months of this bullshit! We're floundering.

Satish: Take it easy, Aileen. You're just stressed.

Aileen Bock: l am not stressed, l am frustrated! I'd like to go again this afternoon.

Satish: No. There is no reason to rush this.

Aileen Bock: We're hardly rushing! We're running into the same wall, over and over again! Why can't we push through? Why can't you keep me in the Animus longer than two minutes?

Satish: Because Surrogate Genetic Memory data is fragile! The EEG is exploding and your brain is doing too much work! The longer you stay in, the more damage it does. It's even possible that...

Aileen Bock: Possible that...?

Satish: It's possible the memories we're digging into could eventually overwrite your own. Like information on a tape drive. There's just not enough space in your head to do both-

(door opens and closes)

Warren Vidic: (singing) Here I come to save the day! (laughs) Good afternoon all.

Aileen Bock: Did you invite him?

Satish: No.

Warren Vidic: But you DID! Remember?

Aileen Bock: That was months ago, Warren. What do you need?

Warren Vidic: I wanted to stop by. Check on your progress.

Aileen Bock: Well, apparently it's still too dangerous to keep me under for more than a few minutes.

Warren Vidic: Hm. I always suspected that would be your biggest hurdle. The genetic memory sequencing is the easy part, if time consuming. But the replay... that's something else.

Aileen Bock: Yes.

Warren Vidic: Let's think this through. My Subjects are diving into their OWN genetic memories, so the information is already encoded in their heads.

Aileen Bock: Which means the Animus has less work to do. Less computing, less parsing...

Satish: Right. So to get your Surrogate data working - to let people experience foreign memories - it'll take a hell of a lot more processing power than anyone has. Even Abstergo Industries.

Aileen Bock: Ideally we'd like to build an external processor that mirrors as many brain functions as possible. Something to handle the calculations.

Satish: But the cost and upkeep of that would be...

Warren Vidic: Astronomical. Let me see what I can do. I have some sway with Lillian. We won't build Rome in a day, but if we focus on the pretty buildings first, maybe we'll achieve something.

Aileen Bock: Thank you, Warren.

Warren Vidic: ‘Til next, folks!

(door opens and clothes)

(laboratory background noises)

The final segment of the second file shows an even more frustrated Aileen because after five months she and Satish are in front of the same technical limitations (very short sessions because of how fragile the surrogate genetic memories are).
The heir of the Surrogate Initiative
(art by Eddie Bennun)
Beside this, Satish mentions other issues connected to Aileen, because her brain always works too much when she is experiencing Miriam's memories and it suffers a damage proportional to how much Aileen's sessions last to the point that these memories can overwrite Aileen's ones.
This is where Vidic gets inside the lab, even if Aileen is not very pleased for it. He's apparently there because Aileen invited him months before, in Lillian's office during the monthly progress report meeting but he also wants to check on Aileen's progress and from this they start discussing the technical limitations that she is facing. As explained, the issue for the Surrogate Initiative lies in the processing power that in the '80s is not sufficient even for Abstergo Industries. Alieen's idea would be the creation of an external processor that reproduces the highest possible number of brain functions. A bold idea which would have been impossible to bear financially back at the time, but which maybe is behind the creation of the Animus Console and of the Animus Omega.

And that's it for the first two files, Aileen is getting more and more frustrated for not getting results, but things are about to change. How? Find out in the second part of this article which is going to be released soon!

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So brash, so young

Six we tried in succession