Deus Ex: Hard Line is a science fiction novella set in the Deus Ex universe and written by James Swallow. The storyline follows Alex Vega between the events of Deus Ex: The Fall and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, as she begins working for the Juggernaut Collective.
The novella was originally available as part of the Collector's Edition and Day One Edition of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. On January 6, 2017, Square Enix made the novella available for free download here, along with the mini comic Deus Ex Universe: The Dawning Darkness and the mini art book.
|"In the dark backstreets of Prague, activist Alex Vega falls foul of a group of corrupt cops preying on the city's oppressed population of augmented humans; and her past and future collide when she is forced to weigh the choices she has made in opposing the plans of the Illuminati."|
Alex Vega finds herself captured by several Prague police officers in the middle of the day with no one bothering to help her due to being an Aug. As she periodically regains consciousness from the stun attacks, she realizes they have driven past the nearest precinct and they are therefore taking her somewhere where she will most likely be killed, and with her infolink malfunctioning she can not send for help before blacking out once more.
She wakes up again to find herself in a jail cell and an inhibitor unit on her, preventing her from accessing her Glass-Shield Cloaking System and other augments. As she takes in her surroundings, she realizes she is not alone. Across from her is another Aug, and she can make out more in cells further down the corridor. Before she can ask what is going on, two of the cops walk in, their badges and faces hidden. They demand to know why she is in Prague and Alex explains she is a cargo pilot for Lebedev Global, which is part of the truth. The cops do not care about this though, and when Alex tries to offer them money to let her go, they scoff and say that no one is going to miss her before walking off. The man across from her explains they want their augments, not money, and that they are being held in an abandoned police station that was once the location of Prague's augmented cops, now burned out from what happened during the Aug Incident. This causes Alex to reminisce about an event that happened in New York City after helping Ben Saxon in Australia. Saxon had pointed out that Alex was not the type to hide, and decided to introduce her to Janus.
Back to the present, Alex learns the Aug across from her is Ivan and that he had been caught two nights earlier as he was out after dark without special documents. There used to be an augmented doctor in Alex's cell, but he was taken to the back and killed for his augments because they sell very well on the black market now that regulations are in place. Alex and Ivan have a heated discussion on whether peaceful or violent approaches are better for the Augmented people, reminding Alex of a conversation she had with Janus. Janus, being cautious, had dug up all the information he could on Alex, like past social media feeds, employment files, and photos of her when she was a child. Janus further explains they have to pick their battles and not act on impulse before agreeing she is ready for bigger assignments and introduces her to Garvin Quinn.
Three of the corrupt cops return and take Alex to the remains of a medical room. She notices through a hole in the wall more of them, some with their faces uncovered. However, when they see her watching, they quickly put their masks on and one comes over to talk through an encrypted radio channel to the ones holding her. With no other option, Alex reboots her infolink implant in hopes of getting it up and running. As another cop scans her to get a better idea of her implants, her infolink comes back online and she is able to access the radio channel, revealing their connection to the Dvali, who fence the augments they harvest. As they discuss needing to harvest the rest that night, Alex attacks and is able to escape up to the top of the building where she makes a desperate bid to contact Janus for help, but gets no response before being knocked out by the cops who have caught up to her.
In another flashback, Alex recalls how, shortly after she was paired with Quinn, she flew him to Detroit to get a potential recruit - Adam Jensen. Quinn explained that they had some history and that Jensen was a lot like her: driven, committed, and sarcastic. He further explained it was important to get Jensen on their side because he could otherwise cause problems as a rogue element. Alex points out that if Jensen is like her, Quinn will need to convince him that working with the Juggernaut Collective will allow him to make a difference in the world.
Back to the present, Alex finds she was dragged back to her cell and with Ivan yelling at one of the cops, she attacks the one holding her, knocking him out while Ivan restrains the other through his bars. Alex knocks the second cop out as well before using the beam key to take off the inhibitor and releasing Ivan from his cell. Ivan says they have to run, as no doubt the other cops would have heard the cries for help, but Alex refuses to run until they release the others. Despite his protest that they cannot save everyone, Alex unlocks their doors and they take off downstairs into the parking garage with the cops on their heels. However, before they can make it to the only open gate, a group of the corrupt cops appear in front of their path and close the gate and start shooting. Janus contacts Alex and tells her that help is on the way, but she needs to open the gate as it is off the grid so they can not hack it. Alex uses her glass cloak to get closer but runs out of power, exposing her to the cops. With no other choice, she lunges at the panel and the gate opens, letting in several drones that release taser darts on the corrupt cops, knocking them all out. The other Augs are able to escape but Ivan picks up one of the guns, ready to kill one of the cops. Alex is able to talk him out of doing so, revealing she used herself as bait to find out the cause of the missing Augs in the area. Despite not killing the cop, Ivan expresses the peaceful approach is wrong before running off.
The next day, Alex goes to a meeting spot to talk with Janus, who expresses their concern for her when she went missing. Janus further explains the reason they did not want Alex looking into the disappearances: they felt a small number of people was not worth the risk when they are trying to take down a global threat. Just as they say something this small would not have involved the Illuminati and the Juggernaut Collective needs to focus on maximum impact, Alex states that kind of thinking is like the Illuminati and to remember what is important. Janus agrees, and says they recovered enough video footage off the corrupt cops' bodycams to bury everyone involved. With that, Alex asks what her next assignment is and Jensen walks in to greet her, having not seen each other since Detroit.