|"The year is 2029, and the shining promise of a new age of human augmentation is in ruins in the wake of the devastating ‘Aug Incident’ – a horrific catastrophe triggered by a cabal of shadowy power brokers, where millions of cybernetically-enhanced people suffered a forced psychotic break.
Awakening in the aftermath of a changed world, with gaps in his memories and suspicion on all sides, augmented ex-cop and former security operative Adam Jensen struggles to piece his life back together, in a new reality where ‘Augs’ have become the targets of hatred, fear and violent discrimination.
Now the dark forces behind the Incident are gathering once again, reaching out to manipulate the course of global events through terror and intimidation. To find the answers that he seeks and the people who destroyed everything he knew, Jensen must return to the ashes of the past, reconnect with old allies, and risk all to expose a deadly conspiracy – but in a world shattered by secrets, can the truth be brought into the light?"
Adam Jensen wakes up in Facility 451, run by World Health Organization in Alaska, Kenai Peninsula. Doctors Rafiq and McFadden tell Jensen that he had been in a coma for months. Agent Jenna Thorne from Homeland Security interrogates Adam about his part of the Aug Incident when Panchaea collapsed. He admits vaguely that he was in Panchaea and tried to stop Hugh Darrow, but refuses to answer concretely because he doesn't trust Thorne. At the facility, Jensen befriends Harrison "Stacks" Stacker, an ex-steeplejack from Seattle.
Meanwhile, in a hotel in Sorrento, Italy, Elizabeth DuClare and Lucius DeBeers discuss Janus, their latest adversary. DuClare tells DeBeers that she has formulated a plan of action to uncover Janus. She states that she and DeBeers "will need to play a subtle and lengthy game" in order get close to Janus.
In Alaska, Thorne discloses Adam's presence in Panchaea at the time of Incident to other augmented residents of facility which goads them to start fight with Adam (and break Stacks's nose). With help of Stacks they manage to fend off others before the facility guards intervene the fight. Realizing things will get only worse for him and Stacks in the facility, Adam spontaneously escapes with Stacks and steal a truck.
Adam and Stacks drive to an abandoned gas station in Soldotna, Alaska. Adam contacts Francis Pritchard there, now that he is outside of Facility 451's signal jamming range. Because Adam was listed dead as presumably missing after the destruction of Panchaea, Pritchard is hesitant to trust the caller. After Adam exchanges some snide comments and facts of Pritchard to show his identity, Pritchard agrees to help them steal another truck at the station. Adam then orders it to be driven to Detroit.
After they arrive in Detroit, Pritchard meets with them. He takes a DNA sample of Adam, which confirms his identity. On a monorail, Pritchard tells that David Sarif got away from Panchaea but his submersible was damaged, causing him a severe nitrogen narcosis. He was put in a coma "sleeping through most of everything that came after." Sarif Industries declared bankruptcy and was bought up by Tai Yong Medical while Sarif was still in his coma. Pritchard does not know Sarif's current whereabouts but knows that Sarif did not take the news well when he woke. Pritchard also tells that he has had to accept hacking gigs to earn his living since SI bankrupted.
After the monorail ride, Pritchard leads Adam and Stacks into the Rialto movie theatre which now functions as Pritchard's living quarters. It also becomes apparent that Motor City Bangers now dominate those turfs. A banger called Cali tells Pritchard that his hacking skills have been noted and MCB leader Magnet craves more favors. Adam and Stacks intervene, making Cali retreat. Inside the theatre, Stacks suffers symptoms from Darrow Deficiency Syndrome. Adam decides they three will break into former Sarif Industries Headquarters towers in hope of finding Neuropozyne for Stacks, who previously gave his last cup of it to an augmented person in the Detroit aug-ghetto camp. For Adam, it's also about catching up with the recent past.
Meanwhile, at the California headquarters of the Alpha team of the North American Division of Task Force 29, Christian Jarreau and Raye Vande are informed by Jim Miller about military-grade augmentations that are about to leave US soil from Detroit. He suspects they will end up in hands of John "Sheppard" Trent.
Adam, Pritchard, and Stacks break in through the underground car park connecting to the Sarif Towers. Adam destroys a Boxguard. While being destroyed, the Boxguard had sent a distress signal and a recording of Adam that is picked up by TF29 field technician Seth Chen. At the Sarif headquarters, Pritchard explains that Tai Yong left only robots to guard the building. After they get into the Testing and Quality control department, Stacks gets a post-traumatic stress reaction after seeing loose leg and arm augments. Adam calms him down and they get Stacks some Neuropozyne. Adam then scans himself and finds a foreign chip in his augmented right arm, plucks it out and crushes it. Scavengers and homeless people then enter into their position. Adam orders Pritchard to open rest of the storages to let the scavengers take the rest relenting them. A homeless person then informs Adam about armed thugs at Milwaukee Junction, ex-manufacturing plant of Sarif Industries. They turn out later to be Motor City Bangers.
Meanwhile, at a virtual meeting of the Juggernaut Collective, Janus informs other members of the Collective that Adam has resurfaced. Janus and another Juggernaut member makes the case for utilizing Jensen for benefit of the Collective. Janus confirms that he will set things in motion toward this goal.
Back at the Rialto theatre, Pritchard discloses to Adam that he has noticed an organized pattern raiding and looting Sarif facilities implicating something else is going on. Adam realizes military-grade not-for-sale augmentations may end up in wrong hands and determines to make it stop. Despite Pritchard's warnings he takes Stacks with him to Milwaukee Junction.
Stacks and Adam plan to destroy the Junction with a gas leak and remote-detonating explosives. At their way of getting out, Stacks gets another stress reaction when entering a room full of augmented limbs, which alerts nearby MCB members. Bangers then wound Stacks lethally, who confesses at his last moments he killed his family at the time of Incident leaving only their limbs left when Darrow's signal stopped broadcasting explaining the stress reaction at Sarif HQ. Adam then runs when he smells stench of the gas and Stacks detonates the explosives before he dies. Angered at Stacks's death, Jensen chases down Magnet on the roof, who refuses to give tangible answers about who he is working for (Pritchard noticed Magnet used Infolink to get orders from somewhere else). Magnet escapes as Jensen is distracted by the sounds of TF29 closing in. At the spotlight of a TF29 VTOL, Pritchard then creates another distraction allowing Adam to escape through sewers.
Back at the Rialto theater, Adam meets with Alejandra Vega and Garvin Quinn, the former having held Pritchard at gunpoint before Adam arrived. They offer Jensen information in exchange for Juggernaut Collective co-operation. Pritchard is suspicious but Adam is listening. At this time TF29 has been able to identify the person they chased on the roof and the destroyer of the Boxguard at the Sarif HQ as Adam Jensen. They are unsure what to think about Jensen but they intend to interrogate him when given the chance.
Meanwhile, in-flight above Switzerland, DuClare receives an incoming transmission from DeBeers. DeBeers tells her that a source embedded in Interpol has informed him that TF29 is currently investigating Adam Jensen in Detroit. DuClare had lost face to DeBeers due to Adam's escape from the Alaska facility, which was nominally under her control. DeBeers tells DuClare that they must take a firm hand to bring the situation under control. After the conversation, DuClare commands her data tablet to conduct a search on White Helix Lab, subset project name ‘Black Light.’
Back in Detroit, Adam then heads to Spector's Tavern after learning from Pritchard his pass card has been used in raiding Sarif facilities. He confronts an ex-Sarif Security guard Henry Kellman about this. Kellman reveals Donald Wilder as his boss. Wilder is another ex-Sarif Security employee. Soon, Cali and two other Bangers storm the Tavern, killing Kelllman, the bartender Jake, and other customers. Adam kills the other bangers and uses his nanoblades to tears away Cali's all four augmented limbs before Pritchard locates Wilder. Adam leaves before the police arrives.
Adam breaks in Wilder's apartment without setting off alarms. At gunpoint, Wilder admits he helped Bangers to steal the mil-spec augments but he then turns the tables by shooting a P.E.P.S. pulse from his augmented arm towards Adam triggering the EMP mine immobilizing him. As he is about to kill Adam, Wilder gets a call ordering him not to kill Adam. He then calls the police impersonating Adam before knocking him unconscious. TF29 captures Adam before Detroit Police is able to do the same. Agent Vande tells that their technicians noticed the caller used a voice-changer device so they know it was not Adam. At the interrogation he agrees to co-operate with TF29.
Jenna Thorne meets with Don Wilder in Yukon Hotel. Thorne is displeased the way Wilder handled with Kellman, stating that the mission might be compromised. She then shoots Wilder with a silenced pistol before he even gets a grip of his revolver. Thorne then warns Magnet and DuClare about the changed situation.
Adam comes to the airport initially as an observer with rest of the TF29. He is able to recognize Magnet from the crowd. John Trent is recognized as the primary target. As Vande's team reaches the jet and kills a Banger, Sheppard activates an autocannon, which shoots agent Lund who was dragging an EMP to disable the jet and any other person near the aircraft. Adam then takes a jeep and starts driving it towards the jet. Magnet attacks Adam and grips from the hood. Adam dispatches him quickly and then reaches jet's rear part and releases the cargo hold while the jet is on air and falls to the ground, going unconscious on hit.
Adam eventually recovers and Jarreau tells Adam that he has potential to be employed by Task Force 29. Jarreau also reveals that the augments that Sheppard failed to extract are planned to be moved by a train to a military base where they will be destroyed.
Agent Thorne is contacted by an Illuminati superior (unnamed but hinted to be DeBeers). Her superior informs her that her assignment of ensuring extraction of the augmentations from Detroit remains incomplete. Thorne points out that Adam has complicated her task, only to be told by her superior that Adam's involvement is not her concern and that she is "not the only asset in play." Her superior then states that a team of operatives will be deployed to retrieve the augments, which are needed for operations in Europe. Thorne is given the assignment to take command of the operatives to retrieve the augmentations.
Pritchard contacts Adam about Wilder's corpse which is to be taken to a furnace as “infectious material” according to Detroit Police department. Adam suspects something valuable is on the corpse. Pritchard hacks into traffic grid which allows Adam carjack the vehicle carrying the corpse. On a safe position assisted by Pritchard he accesses Wilder's eye augment and its last recording learning in horror that Illuminati is about to hit the train carrying the augments.
Adam hides himself into a Lucky Dot convenience store. Soon, Quinn hacks into a service robot, which Quinn uses to inform Adam that he can help Adam from his dead end. Janus has found out the course of the train carrying the augments, and Alex can fly Adam to the train. Adam gets to Alex's VTOL. Quinn also informs Adam that the Juggernaut Collective believes that TF29 has been compromised by the Illuminati, and that the Illuminati manufactured the reason for bringing about the Task Force so they could sow the seeds of a military organization to serve their needs. Vega states that Adam would make a good agent to infiltrate and investigate TF29.
Before Adam gets to the train, Thorne's team is already inside and has killed several TF29 members. Adam clears his way toward Vande and Chen. After Chen is killed by a blast, Adam and Vande are confronted by Thorne. Thorne indicates her desire to kill Adam, but an extensively augmented German trooper, unnamed but clearly indicated to be Gunther Hermann, tells her that killing Adam is not the orders. Vande assists Adam in temporarily escaping to another part of the train. Thorne orders Gunther to kill Adam and Vande. Gunther reluctantly complies, but tells Thorne that she will be held responsible for acting outside of orders. Gunther attacks Adam and gains the upper hand, but Adam is able to destroy the train's controls, pushing the train into overdrive, which will cause the train to derail and explode when it crosses the state border. Gunther weighs his options and opts to flee instead of continuing to fight Jensen and get caught in the explosion. Already injured by an earlier gunshot from Thorne, Raye Vande is executed by Thorne, who slices Vande's throat. Adam in turn kills Thorne with his Typhoon augmentation and jumps off the derailing train before it crashes and explodes.
Jarreau arrives with additional members of his Task Force and finds Adam at the south of Granger, Indiana, as the only survivor of the ambush by Thorne's team. Jarreau tells Adam that it was Vande who sold them out, based on newly uncovered evidence. Adam already knows that this is not true, because he had just witnessed Vande saving his life and attacking Thorne and also not showing any marks of lying on his Social Enhancer augmentation. However, Adam also knows that there is nothing he can do to repeal the set-up of Vande. Distraught at the loss of lives caused by the Illuminati's schemes, Adam follows Jarreau back to a TF29 base with a sense of determination. It is implied that Adam would go on to accept an offer to work for TF29.
Later, Adam informs Alex Vega and Quinn that he has decided to join the Juggernaut Collective, stating that he's had enough of innocent lives cut short by the Illuminati.
In Geneva, Switzerland, DuClare is contacted by DeBeers. DeBeers states that the operation in Detroit has been an utter mess, and that valuable assets have been lost. DeBeers says that due to the loss of the augmentations shipment, they will need to find an alternate supplier. In response, DuClare states that she will accelerate their other plans. Filled with anger, DuClare ends the conference call, and opens her files on the "Black Light" project. On the screen, a dead man's face looks back at her.
At a Juggernaut Collective meeting, a member reports that Adam has agreed to join them. Janus informs the Collective members that the heart of the Illuminati's infiltration of TF29 is in Eastern Europe, specifically Prague, and that Adam is the best option for investing TF29's unit in Prague and its local commander, Jim Miller. Janus also states that he understands Adam, and that Adam will help the Collective bring down the Illuminati, or perish in the attempt.
Adam meets one last time with Pritchard in the Rialto. Pritchard gives him a pocket secretary where he has gathered all the data for two years what he and Adam have experienced and gone through. The book closes with Pritchard responding to Adam's mission statement of stopping Illuminati as “You make it sound like the end of the world,” to which Adam replies: "Not yet, but you can see it from here."
- Other important characters
- Minor characters
- Jensen's final line in the novel paraphrases a quote from Eliza Cassan at Panchaea: "It is not the end of the world, but you can see it from here."
- While discussing Jensen's past, Chen describes Jensen as "...just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit," clearly referencing the Journey song "Don't Stop Believin.'"
- The verbal password to Pritchard's security system at the Rialto is "Aerith Lives," a reference to Final Fantasy VII.