Within the franchise, Abstergo Industries is a mega-corporation conglomerate with multiple branches, secretly run by modern Knights Templar. The company is the present-day main antagonist of the franchise. Abstergo secretly created the "Animus", a device that allows its users to "re-live" and experience the memories of their genetic ancestors within their bloodline through a virtual simulation. Overexposure to the animus causes the "bleeding effect", which results in giving the user skills and abilities of his ancestors, but is also dangerous for the user as it can damage their mind, causing symptoms such as dementia, insanity, dissociative identity disorder or brain damage. Abstergo is seeking to discover the location of several historical artifacts, known as the "Pieces of Eden". Such artifacts hold great power, and are capable of controlling free will. Abstergo seeks to use them to remove free will and bring humanity into one single unified group, while the Assassins oppose them. In order to find the Pieces of Eden, Abstergo is abducting people whose ancestors are suspected to have had historically confirmed or suspected interactions with such devices, forcing the kidnapped person into the Animus and searching for clues on their ancestors' memories within the Animus.