This is the second half of the article, to be read after the first half.
History (part 3)
SHD sleeper operatives were to activate in case of major civil unrest, or catastrophe-induced chaos. They’d grab their guns, and receive instructions via ISAC. Starting with where to assemble and under who.
A key point was that the SHD elite agents would pop out from seemingly nowhere, stepping out of the general population.
But the SHD’s instructions were big on its operatives not being accountable, or beholden by law. They kept gleefully repeating that there were “no rules, no limits”.
Though Yetayesh hadn’t personally been deployed in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, she knew more than enough to see where this was going.
Furthermore, as she learned about American cultures, she came to understand how the SHD’s language about “thugs”, “extremists”, “rioters”, “looters” and the like was mired in race war and other eliminationist rhetorics.
Outside of the box
Her knowledge of the US had been mostly based on watching Shaft, Black Belt Jones and Foxy Brown 15 times each. But as she learned from neighbours, students, congregants, etc. she came to suspect that the SHD hadn’t quite realised that she was Black.
It seemed possible that they had reflexively rubberstamped the recruitment of an experienced Israeli commando and ISAC expert. And since there was no contact among sleeper agents…
Standard SHD rules were also to regularly have agents move. The goal was to prevent forming ties with the locals. But there was no such procedure for immigrants.
Wheels within wheels…
However, there also were clear indications that the SHD was meant to oppose other sleeper networks. Most tactical instructions were about fighting disciplined, trained, well-armed groups with a proper chain of command.
These were expected to emerge within two days of a major disruption. Clearly, these couldn’t be citizens organising themselves during unrest.
Over time, Ms. Elbaz developed the impression that there was some sort of arms race between clandestine American factions. About training and placing sleeper agents trained in urban combat, and chiefly in the Boston-New York City-Washington D.C. corridor.
(I’m injecting the “sleeper agents everywhere” aspect to make the story-as-it-exists-in-the-game less daft. It’s not quite in the in-game material I reviewed.)
The green smallpox
During the 2016 Black Friday, tonnes of dollar bills in this area were infected with a deadly virus.
This engineered super-flu was optimised to remain asymptomatic but transmissible for several days. Then strike with a high morbidity percentage.
Multiple strains had been sprayed on the bills, and these would have a rapid mutation rate. This ensured that hospitals would be overwhelmed, killing tens of thousands. The pandemic spread nationally and internationally from there.
A first wave of SHD agents was activated to strengthen the response.
There was a series of promotional live action shorts done for the release of the game. Here’s one.
History (part 4)
Sahara Jackson was part of the second wave of SHD agents. She was to help secure her area of Brooklyn, as NYPD and National Guard manpower was being shifted to Manhattan.
There were some firefights. Mostly with enterprising individuals stealing supplies for resale. But the situation remained reasonable.
The main exception was the takeover of a mostly deserted NYPD precinct house by some sort of mob or gang. Ms. Jackson stormed the facility along with a few lightly armed cops, retaking it after a pitched battle.
I’m sorry Ms. Jackson (woo) I am for real
Meanwhile, the situation in Manhattan was in free fall. As one of the worst pandemic clusters in the world, Manhattan had been entirely quarantined to protect the rest.
Furthermore, it was a war zone. Heavily armed paramilitaries were out to cause extensive chaos while the borough was reeling from the pandemic.
Such groups took a heavy toll on responders. Survivors therefore reorganised as the Joint Task Force. The JTF was a coalition of NYPD and FDNY survivors, plus National Guard troops, plus volunteers.
Meanwhile, the entire first wave of SHD agents in Manhattan was either dead or missing. While bad casualties were to be expected, losing almost every agent seemed inexplicable.
We got a special kind of thing going on
Sahara Jackson now reported to local SHD coordinator Faye Lau. Ms. Lau had Ms. Jackson accompany her to a rendez-vous with a SHD commander to organise reinforcements from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
Diving for cover saved her life. But the Osprey was lost with all hands aboard. Lau was badly wounded, losing an eye.
At Lau’s urging, Jackson boarded an arriving JTF helicopter. SHD agents would follow as feasible to bolster the beleaguered JTF in Manhattan.
Across the East River
By this point, the JTF was chiefly holding Hudson Yards . They still were taking in refugees, but things were looking bleak.
Second wave Division agents trickled in until they could back a push to establish a forward base. The objective was the James Farley Post Office on Penn Plaza, which had been converted into an emergency management centre when the pandemic hit.
Once the Post Office was secure, Sahara Jackson and other Division agents launched small raids to procure resources, escort refugees, etc.. The JTF could thus focus on lower-risk missions, making it much easier to hold the fort.
History (part 5)
Ms. Jackson was also key in defending Lincoln Tunnel against a determined raid from an unclear faction. This secured the sole verified access to leave or enter Manhattan.
After this battle, veteran NYPD Captain Roy Benitez moved to James Farley. Benitez being very popular within the JTF, this considerably bolstered morale in the FOB .
Jackson then launched a solo, stealthy raid into the Madison Square Garden Field Hospital. Genius virologist Dr. Jessica Kandel had been captured by a gang there to heal their woundeds. Sahara Jackson kidnapped her back.
As hoped, Dr. Kandel proved invaluable in resuming the research for a cure.
New York, New York
In Manhattan, Sahara conducted solo missions, seeking to avoid her colleagues. Her focus was on rescuing civilians. Assignments included :
- Foraging for parts and supplies.
- Investigating the fate of first wave SHD agents.
- Assisting JTF outposts, usually placed in easily-defended locations (such as underground facilities).
- Reinforcing JTF patrols under fire.
- Freeing citizens captured by the paramilitaries.
- Recovering high-altitude supply drops.
- Locating and rescuing Faye Lau’s kid sister, and Dr. Kandel’s ex-wife.
- Retrieving medical data and samples for antiviral research.
- Securing infrastructure facilities (power, water, heat…) in hostile territory.
- Assassinating enemy paramilitary leaders.
Ms. Jackson also repeatedly clashed with a large, murderous gang called the Cleaners. Primarily made up of former infrastructure workers, they sought to eradicate contaminated sites and persons – often through incineration.
Like many armed forces in Manhattan, the Cleaners were improbably well-equipped, well-armed, and trained. For instance many packed flamethrowers.
Sahara developed the impression that it was some sort of sleeper network like the Division. But it had been taken over by a charismatic (if demented) sanitation guy named Joe Ferro.
Jackson eventually infiltrated the construction site controlled by Ferro. She blew up the tanks used to brew napalm, then killed Ferro.
… within wheels
SHD missions were invaluable in allowing JTF patrols to slowly secure the streets, block by block.
However, as she ran search-and-destroy forays into Hell’s Kitchen, Jackson started running into the Rikers Gang. Made up of prisoners who had escaped during a massive break, the “gang” was actually a paramilitary force.
Its members all sported assault weaponry, high-end masks to protect against the virus, makeshift uniforms, robust body armour and working paramilitary tactics. Clearly, there had been years of work to create sleeper agents. Perhaps under the cover of a prison gang.
- Somewhere out there, there were still-unknown troops who used ground-to-air missiles.
- Ms. Jackson found multiple comm logs indicating that a Division agent named Aaron Kenner had gone thoroughly rogue. She gradually determined why and how.
- Investigating Kenner’s betrayal, Sahara ran into a private military contractor (PMC) squad with full uniforms and gear. These men also had some ISAC equipment.
- There were rumours that the Murray Hill neighbourhood had been fortified by the military, “with helicopters an’ tanks”. This was impossible. It instead was likely that the PMC’s troops were occupying this area. The JTF thought these were also holding Grand Central Station.
A tough-looking, weathered, athletic Ethiopian lady in her early 30s. She has a lot of “mess with me and I’ll end your arse” energy.
Her closely-cropped natural hair is coloured a orange-ish yellow using shea butter colour cream. Those suggesting an alternative to shea butter might get shot.
Yetayesh has been careful to keep her Israeli accent. It is even more noticeable since her adoptive family still speaks Hebrew with zee nohteeçahble French ahxehnt. So Yetayesh’s vowels are flat and her “the” are well into “ze” territory.
(This video would be a good example. As a mostly-Israeli-accent-in English-but-with-other-foreign-influences-that-sound-French.)
There’s no uniform for SHD agents. However, those familiar with them can easily spot the orange glow from ISAC interfaces (notably the smartwatch, and the sensors clipped onto the backpack straps).
Ms. Jackson considers this to be stupid when it comes to being identified as an ally by civilians.
She therefore had her new friends Rhonda-and-Michelle-from-the-FDNY give her a stash of firefighter and paramedic uniforms. To New Yorkers, that means that Sahara is readily identifiable as rescue personnel.
A short in-game video for visuals. This shows a few standard Manhattan streets, then the JTF FOB in the Penn Plaza Post Office.
It was shot during the in-game night, so there are fewer NPCs about the base of operations. It’s also available in 2160p ultrawide, in case you have the display for it.
If you want more visuals from the game, check Dead End Thrill’s The Division gallery . It’s high-end in-game photography and much better than mine.
Ms. Jackson is mostly an introvert. She finds most people to be a pain in the tush. Unless they’re working with her on a shared goal, in which case it’s a-OK.
She spends a lot of time training, maintaining fitness and honing readiness. Professionalism > all.
She has enough of a “serve & protect” ethos to propel a medium-sized city PD. This is actually her view of tikkun olam , though it’s more based on her view of military service than any serious Talmudic reading.
When not training, working out or working, she’s usually reading fantasy or sci-fi. Her favourite authors are JRR Tolkien, NK Jemisin and Phenderson Djèlí Clark. She also loves blaxploitation movies, though she only brought her Black Dynamite DVD to the US.
Yetayesh has been subsisting on a series of one-night stands since coming to the US. That’s not her preference when it comes to men, but she feels too uncomfortable about the fact that she’s lying about her name, her past, her job, her employer, etc..
The lone wolf, the misfit
Ms. Elbaz gives the rest of the Division agents a wide berth. The levels of racism, misogyny, nativism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. are just insufferable. Though Elbaz is on the conservative side, that’s obviously not going to fly with her.
She only works with Lau and some senior officers, physicians and engineers at the Penn Place Post Office. Her priority is to protect Manhattanites, and support the JTF’s relief efforts. After that, who knows.
Agent Jackson is a good friend of Dr. Kandel. Which is odd, since Jackson is uncomfortable around queer women and Kandel is notoriously high-strung and less than socially gifted. But they share many strong interests including medicine, Judaica and basketball.
Operating solo, Jackson has to be much more careful and methodical. During gunfights, she thus spends a fair bit of time crouch-running and crawling behind cover. Her goal is to constantly deny knowledge of her position to the enemy.
She’ll also often fall back to another defensible position, or break contact and circle around to renew her attacks.
“Ma’am, I got supplies. If you haven’t found anything to eat I got soda and energy bars. And some canned food I found.”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
The Division is one of those AAA games with but perfunctory storytelling. So the setting is largely irrelevant to the character.
The setting has a slight proto-cyberpunk quality. So Sahara Jackson could come from further up in the timeline, with cybernetic and/or genetic enhancements and more future infantry tech.
DC Heroes RPG
Sahara Jackson, agent of S.H.D.
|Dex: 05||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 05||Wil: 04||Min: 05|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 05|
|Init: 016||HP: 040|
Bonuses and Limitations:
Regeneration is Form Function.
Acrobatics (Climbing, Dodging): 04, Martial artist: 04, Medicine (First aid): 03, Military science: 05, Thief (Stealth, Locks & Safes): 03, Vehicles (Sea, land): 04, Weaponry (Infantry weapons): 05
Area Knowledge (Israeli ports and coasts), Credentials (SHD, Low ; JTF, Medium), Expertise (Israeli military equipment and protocols), Familiarity (SCUBA and boarding operations), Languages (Hebrew), Pet (Elioud turret).
Street (Low), Brooklyn Reform Judaism community (Low).
- Assault carbine [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 06, Ammo: 08, R#02, Advantage: Autofire].
- Semi-auto marksman’s rifle [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 06, Telescopic vision: 03, Ultra-vision: 04, Thief (Stealth): 01, Ammo: 20, R#02, Limitation: Thief only to muffle the shots].
- CLIMBING EQUIPMENT. Stock military rappelling gear, plus a power-assisted ascender.
- ISAC unit [BODY 02 INT 02 WIL 01, Data storage: 15, Detect (NBC hazard): 03, Enhance (Military Science (Danger Recognition): 04 (cap is 09), Full vision: 00, Radio communications (Encrypted): 10, Area Knowledge (New York City’s Manhattan and Brooklyn), Credentials (US emergency radio channels, Medium), Sharp Eye, Scientist (Computers): 04, B&L : Full Vision represents the fibre optic gun cameras. Which themselves represent the FoV of the game being a 3rd person shooter with a movable camera.]
- TAC VEST [BODY 05, Skin armour: 02, Invulnerability: 05, Limitations: Skin armour and Invulnerability only vs. ballistics, slashing and piercing, Partial coverage (vest), Invulnerability can only make one roll a minute].
- NBC mask [BODY 01, Sealed systems: 03, Limitations: Sealed systems only to increase RV vs airborne and aerosol pathogens].
- Elioud turret [BODY (Hardened) 04, Evasion (Ranged): 04, Projectile weapons: 05, Weaponry (self): 05, Ammo: 12].
- Sawed-off [BODY 03, Shotgun Blast (Range 02): 07, Ammo: 02, R#04, Recommended STR: 03, Drawback: Long Reload].
- Offensive Grenade (x2) [BODY 01, EV 07 (Area of Effect 1 AP), R#03, Grenade drawback].
- Flash-Bang Grenade (x3) [BODY 01, EV 02 (Area of effect 1 AP), Flash: 05 (Area of effect 2 APs), Sensory block (Audial): 07, Note : all Powers are Combined, Grenade drawback, R#03].
The Division has a gameplay balanced around Player Characters having semi-realistic durability. Whereas any bama on the street takes an entire bloody magazine to take down.
Our DCH stats do not attempt to model this, and use the normal numbers. Though I guess you could give all NPCs invisible armour with /BODY/ and Damage Capacity.
The Division has refilling health/armour bars, and in-game Ms. Jackson uses a healing ability for sustainability. This is not factored much into the stats, being whole-ass video game logic.
The tac vest’s stats are still semi-old-school, since revising modern body armour would be a huge project. Not as mountainous as the low-tech body armour one, but still big.
I didn’t go with Postcognition for the ISAC, under the assumption that what’s in-game is an audiovisual representation of the in-universe data-harvesting process.
Source of Character: Base on Tom Clancy’s The Division (video game).
Writeup completed on the 18 Tishrei, 5781.