DXMD trophy Fresh out of the Package.png "I once thought I could save the world... now look at it"
— Spoilers for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided follow!
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Shadow Operatives are a secret military organization that works for the Illuminati around 2029. They are also referred to as "Gold Masks", "Gold-Masked Mercenaries",[1] and by other similar terms in various in-game dialogue, mission briefings, and concept art descriptions, in reference to the distinctive headgear adorned by their troops.

Background[edit | edit source]

Not much is known about how the organization was founded, but it appears that some time after the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the Illuminati looked for a new group to carry out their military operations after the Tyrants were all but wiped out and Belltower Associates went bankrupt (though later re-branding itself as Tarvos Security Services).

When Belltower re-branded itself as Tarvos, they released their augmented personnel. Some of these augmented personnel later joined the ranks of the Shadow Operatives. The Shadow Operatives may have specific roots in Belltower's Spec Ops division, which was sold to an undisclosed buyer when Belltower went bankrupt.[2] A correspondence found in a Shadow Operative facility confirms that some of the augmented personnel formerly employed by Belltower later joined the ranks of the Shadow Operatives.[3] As a further indication of their roots in Belltower, the Shadow Operatives' G.A.R.M. facility was previously owned by Belltower prior to its bankruptcy. When Belltower went bankrupt, G.A.R.M. was, for some unknown reason, left off the balance sheet.

By 2029, the Shadow Operatives had grown into a small army of well-armed augmented soldiers willing to perform clandestine activities without hesitation. Although the Illuminati were working to control or get rid of augmented people, they did prefer using augmented personnel for operations, possibly because of their advantages in combat. 

Bases of Operation[edit | edit source]

The Shadow Operatives operate from black site facilities under Illuminati control. One of their bases is G.A.R.M., a facility located in the Swiss Alps. Originally a scientific research center, the facility later became owned by Belltower. After Belltower went bankrupt, the facility then fell under the control of Illuminati member Bob Page, possibly purchased by Page or one of his companies.[4] G.A.R.M. houses troops commanded by Viktor Marchenko.

The Shadow Operatives also operate from a facility in the Baltic region. This facility is known only as "BH" (or "BH facility") in various e-mail correspondences.[5] One correspondence indicates that the facility is off the mainland around Tallinn, Estonia, and is being used for nanotechnology research[6] in addition to housing combatants. In preparing for an attack on London, Marchenko requested troops from the Baltic facility to bolster his forces based in G.A.R.M.[7]

Organizational Structure[edit | edit source]

The organizational and command structure of the Shadow Operatives is largely unknown. It does appear, however, that the Shadow Operatives are under the direct command of the Illuminati leadership.

An encrypted communication found in G.A.R.M. indicates that the operatives at G.A.R.M. are receiving direct orders from Bob Page, referred to in the communication as "Mister Majestic."[8] Elizabeth DuClare also refers to the Shadow Operatives as "our assets,"[9] further suggesting that the Shadow Operatives are directly controlled by the Illuminati leadership.

Viktor Marchenko is deployed by Bob Page and the Illuminati to command the Stormsurge operation and the Shadow Operatives based in G.A.R.M. Marchenko is of value not only for his combat prowess, but also for his ties to Augmented Rights Coalition, which permits ARC to be framed for activities of the Shadow Operatives conducted under Marchenko. Marchenko's formal rank within the overall organization, if any, is not stated. It is certain, however, that Marchenko is fully dispensable, as indicated by orders from Bob Page to immediately terminate Marchenko in the event that he deviates from mission plans in London.[10] During Stormsurge, Bob Page reminded the Shadow Operatives that Marchenko is in charge of the operation, but also wanted confirmation that the operatives have the means to terminate Marchenko if necessary.[11]

Personnel[edit | edit source]

The Shadow Operatives field veteran and elite augmented soldiers equipped with advanced experimental augmentations developed by Vadim Orlov, such as the Icarus Dash and TITAN augmentations. Other augmentations used by Shadow Operatives include the Icarus Landing and Glass-Shield Cloaking. This assortment of augmentations make Shadow Operatives particularly formidable foes.

Identification records of Shadow Operative troops have been erased, making their personal identities untraceable.[12]

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided[edit | edit source]

Dubai[edit | edit source]

In 2029, the Shadow Operatives ambush a black-market arms deal between the Jinn and the arms dealer Sheppard at the Desert Jewel Resort Hotel in Dubai. The Shadow Operatives kill Sheppard and his crew and attempt to use Sheppard's helicopter to escape with the black-market arms shipment. Adam Jensen and other members of Task Force 29's Central European Division, which had been tasked with capturing Sheppard, are also present at the ambush. TF29 promptly engages in a firefight with the Shadow Operatives, and orders Jensen to prevent the helicopter from taking off.

The Shadow Operatives took heavy causalities during the mission. If Jensen and TF29 were able to prevent the helicopter from taking off, one Illuminati council member confirms afterwards that "all assets" deployed in Dubai were lost. Otherwise, if the Shadow operatives escaped with the helicopter, the council member will instead note that "all but three" of the Shadow Operatives were lost, but extraction of the majority of the shipments was successful. In either case, Bob Page insists that the mission was a success.[13] Due to the unusual chain of events leading up to the ambush, Alex Vega later tells Jensen that the Illuminati purposely wanted TF29's Central European Division to witness the attack by the Shadow Operatives.

Adam Jensen's arrival at G.A.R.M[edit | edit source]

Later, Jensen discovers and infiltrates the Shadow Operatives' G.A.R.M. base in Switzerland. Unaware that Marchenko had advance knowledge of Jensen's arrival, Marchenko ambushes Jensen and temporarily incapacitates him using the Orchid. When Jensen wakes up, the Shadow Operatives are already in the process of evacuating the facility. By the time TF29's Lyon headquarters gets a team to G.A.R.M., the Shadow Operatives had already vacated the base and were in the process of carrying out "Stormsurge."

Stormsurge[edit | edit source]

"Stormsurge" is the code name for an attack on Nathaniel Brown's Safe Harbour Convention in London's Apex Centre in order to thwart Nathaniel Brown's attempt to block passage of the Human Restoration Act. For this attack, Marchenko uses the Dvali to smuggle the Orchid to the Apex Centre so that the Orchid can be used to poison the United Nations delegates hosted by Brown. The Shadow Operatives then take control of the security system run by Tarvos at the Apex Centre, by using an undercover agent who had been transferred into the ranks of the local Tarvos unit.[14]

Meanwhile, TF29 arrives at London after Jensen had discovered that this attack would be imminent. When Jensen arrives, he discovers that the Shadow Operatives have killed the Tarvos personnel stationed at the Apex Centre and have donned Tarvos uniforms as disguises. The exact outcome of the mission depends on the player's actions. However, under all outcomes, ARC is labeled as a terrorist organization by the United Nations after the event in London, indicating that the Illuminati were successful in framing ARC.

Troops[edit | edit source]

Four categories of Shadow Operative troops are seen in Mankind Divided: terrorists, shifters, troopers, and vanguards.[15] For purposes of Praxis gain, Shadow Operative troops are either veteran tier (awarding 20 XP for defeating them) or elite tier (awarding 30 XP).

Terrorists[edit | edit source]

Terrorists are equipped with the Klipspringer Jump Mod, Icarus Dash, and Icarus Landing augmentations. Three variants are encountered:

  • A first variant wears a dark, hooded outfit with dark shoulder pads, along with a gold mask. These troops are veteran-tier and are equipped with a Hurricane TMP-18 machine pistol or a SB-762 Battle Rifle as their primary weapon, along with a Zenith CA-40 pistol as a secondary weapon. All shadow operatives in the opening mission of Mankind Divided in Dubai belong to this classification. Although they are depicted as using Glass-Shield Cloaking in a cutscene, they do not have this ability in actual gameplay. They are not encountered at G.A.R.M. An email correspondence found in G.A.R.M. suggests that these troops deployed in Dubai are based in the Baltic Sea facility.[7]
  • A second variant wears a gray outfit without hoods, and gold masks. They are veteran tier and are equipped with a shotgun arm[16] gun augmentation. For this reason, they sometimes do not carry weapons; other times, they are armed with a machine pistol.
  • An elite-tier variant wears a hooded outfit similar to that of the variant encountered in Dubai, but with gray shoulder pads, along with a gray mask instead of a gold mask.

Shifters[edit | edit source]

Shifters are armed with a battle rifle, a machine pistol, or a sniper rifle, and are equipped with the Klipspringer Jump Mod, Icarus Landing, and Glass Shield Cloaking augmentations. When entering combat, Shifters will turn on their Glass Shield Cloaking.

Shifters sometimes use frag and smoke grenades if pushed on the defense, and their sniper rifles usually come equipped with laser sights. Troops of this type wear gold uniforms and masks that are half-gold, half-gray. They are elite tier.

Troopers[edit | edit source]

Troopers are armed with a combat rifle and equipped with the Icarus Landing augmentation. They also wear armored combat vests, making them tougher than their lighter cohorts. Troopers can occasionally be seen throwing gas and EMP grenades to soften Adam up before an assault. Troopers wear gray uniforms with gold shoulder pads and gray gas-mask helmets with gold face plates. They are veteran tier.

Vanguards[edit | edit source]

Vanguards are armed with a shotgun and are equipped with the TITAN, Implanted Rebreather, and Icarus Landing augmentations. They use frag grenades, but some also have the ability to throw gas grenades. Like the troopers, vanguards also armored. Vanguards wear gray uniforms, cybernetic arms with gold-colored triangular patterns, and helmets also with gold-colored triangular patterns. They are elite tier.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The Shadow Operatives were possibly originally intended to be part of ARC. Concept art of Shadow Operatives augmented arms are labeled as "Arc Augs."[17] Additionally, a graffiti painting resembling a Shadow Operative also appears during the Růžička Station cutscene sequence.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Troops[edit | edit source]

Screenshots[edit | edit source]

Concept art[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. For example, Jensen uses the term "Gold Masks" in his dialogue with Miller in M14: Hunting Down the Final Clues. The mission briefing for this mission uses the term "Gold-Masked Mercenaries."
  2. Official timeline for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (entry 2 for year 2029)
  3. RE: RE: Box guard unit 3 coding (email in G.A.R.M. Computers mentioning "old Belltower days")
  4. Page says that G.A.R.M. is a "recent acquisition" during a conversation with Megan Reed (cutscene at the VersaLife Vault).
  5. See G.A.R.M. computers and Vadim Orlov's computer.
  6. RE: Orchid potency exceeds expectations
  7. 7.0 7.1 RE: Reserves (email in a G.A.R.M. computer)
  8. RE: Strange error message.
  9. Asset stability (e-mail in Orlov's computer).
  10. RE: RE: Update from MrM
  11. "Orion Insta-Messaging Autosave" (pocket secretary)
  12. Dialogue with Singh in TF29 HQ ("Heavily augmented, as you know. Under those gold masks, they were I-D scrubbed. No prints, no dentals, no DNA match").
  13. Illuminati meeting cutscene after the Dubai mission.
  14. Pocket secretaries found in London.
  15. The Art of Deus Ex Universe, p. 80 ("Mercenaries have four different categories throughout the game: terrorists, shifters, troopers, and vanguards. We progressively improved their augmentations to offer a greater challenge to the player")
  16. As labeled in concept art (Artstation)
  17. Description of concept art (Artstation)
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