A little hope can go a very long way when it comes to keeping a population motivated. It’s been said that great change doesn’t begin when things are at their worst—people have to see the possibility of life improving before they will take up arms to make it happen. There have been several communities that have sprung up in the metro area, and it’s a good feeling when we can help them get the resources they need to provide support for those who rely on the security and bounty they provide. Call me a sucker but it’s also nice to have a place where we can return and have people recognize us.

Regular people, no matter how zealous, aren’t trained to go into hostile territory to scrounge supplies, which is where Israel and I come in. In addition to the caches of packaged food, bottles of clean water, and general repair parts we’re able to come across which help keep key control points populated, and thus secured, there are also larger-scheme discoveries we try to bring back that can have a greater impact at central bases. Just the other day we heard that that a complex near the Theater District was reaching capacity—though they had plenty of supplies coming in, they didn’t have space to adequately organize and defend their resources, which put everyone at risk. Poorly-secured piles of goods made for a very attractive target for the more organized and vicious street gangs out there.

On an excursion to tear down an anti-society loudspeaker broadcast north of the settlement, Izzy and I passed several abandoned construction sites, ones that weren’t wholly picked-clean by scavengers. Ordinary riff-raff may not have seen much value in steel girders or buckets of rivets, but we sure did. After taking brief stock of the situation, and clearing out as many gassers from the area as possible, we returned to the settlement to report. Odessa, the de facto project manager for the site, was interested to hear our plans, and we soon had a plan in place to reinforce the temporary-turned-permanent home for so many.

Though a night venture was highly suggested, we ultimately decided a day run would be safer—though at night we could easily disguise our numbers to appear bigger than we actually were, lone snipers or other gunmen could take shots at our group with impunity, if they had an itch to. We’ve been deployed to DC in order to help save lives and (re-)establish society, so ultimately the safety of the everyday resident was our top priority. I provided scouting overwatch as Izzy lead a group of twenty roughly-combat-capable men and women to the first construction yard. Fear is a powerful motivator and under the watchful eyes of some former construction foremen in their midst, they were able to strip siding, rebar, supports, and all manner of other structural goods from the site in record time. Having lead them in, Israel and I followed them out, making sure they weren’t harassed as they made their way back to the theater settlement.

There’s a fair amount of pride in what we do, serving the American people. These people who have lost so much see us as a beacon of hope, and rally around us. I’m sure they would have been able to take the necessary construction materials on their own, in time, but the question of how safely and effectively they could have done it is a large one. It’s far for me to say that New York was a rousing success for our operations team, but we made a difference to the people living there, and word spreads. Now that anarchy has hit DC, people look to the SHD for guidance and leadership. Ultimately, that’s where we come in. All of our tactical gruntwork—clearing buildings, evicting gangs, rescuing VIPs—is actually a secondary goal. First and foremost we’re here to be a symbol that the rule of law still exists, and that hope continues.

We walked into the theater settlement this morning to find that the construction materials had been put to good use—they had nearly doubled the usable rooftop area by linking nearby buildings with crude-yet-sturdy catwalks, created additional storage rooms for goods and materials, and had done wonders to secure the base’s two entrances. Our arrival was met with rousing applause, which felt pretty damn good. There was always more work to be done but it truly felt like we had helped establish a concrete foothold against anarchy, one that could grow and continue even as our mission took us to other regions of the metro.

Header image taken from The Division 2, released by Ubisoft.