Why not a Doom mod?
Marty Kirra has been nice enough to let me mod a few of his assets here and there, since his Space Pirate and my novel's protagonist aren't too different (physically anyway). Of course, I'll have to invent a new story for the mod, since it's intended as a spinoff.
I'll post updates periodically, if I make any noteworthy progress.
About the Book
Juno Radcliffe is a former army commando and former POW camp warden who lives an empty, solitary life during nuclear winter in the fascist state of Midgard. She becomes a pawn in a power play when the new dictator-to-be orders her to deliver a eugenically perfect boy to her sister dictator on the other side of the wasteland. With a treacherous despot awaiting her, a team of assassins on her tail, and irradiated tundra in-between, the delivery is anything but a simple errand.
Project Einherjar: The Story So Far...
Dr. Gaul reminded Juno of her homeroom teacher in junior high: a broad, round-faced woman in a neatly pressed suit and schoolmistress glasses. She had welcomed Juno to Gaulheim with a warm smile, an infectious, musical laugh, and a glass of very good mead.
This was the woman known as "the Butcher of Bifrost" to the general public.
Gaulheim was the good doctor's home town, renamed ever since she was given complete control over it as a reward for her services as Matron's personal physician. Her quest to surgically remove homosexuality from the male population was a secret to no one, least of all to Juno Radcliffe, warden of the Valhalla where Bifrost's men were stored like cattle. In her first letter, the doctor had praised Juno's service to the state, and humbly requested permission to collect all homosexual males from her Valhalla's stock for a new string of eugenics tests.
Knowing the doctor's reputation for using human guinea pigs, Juno had flatly refused. Only a few months before, doing so would have ended her career. However, since the previous Matron's death -- and the resulting political chaos -- Dr. Gaul quickly found herself with few friends in Bifrost. So Juno could turn her away -- and did, multiple times -- without fear of reprisal.
Until two weeks ago, when Dr. Gaul saved the life of the new Matron's daughter...from an illness Juno found too conveniently timed. The next letter came from Matron herself, politely explaining why Juno had no choice but to cut the doctor a break and give her what she wanted, lest she would be transferred to the unforgiving glaciers of Helheim.
Any non-military human interaction tied Juno's stomach into knots, especially when she recognized the gloating mirth in the other person's smile. Hospitality oozed from Dr. Gaul's every pore, rubbing salt into the warden's wounds and reminding her of every man's face as he was offloaded from the trucks, each angry, fearful gaze stabbing into her heart and twisting savagely. She knew she would never see any of them again.
"Surely you understand the threat homosexual males pose to the matriarchy," the doctor said very casually. "The previous Matron, god rest her soul, understood better than anyone. There is nothing more dangerous to a matriarch than a man whom women cannot attract."
Juno grunted, grimly reflecting on the late dictator's many rousing democidal speeches, and the cheers of her rabid supporters. "You don't have to remind me of her daily mantra."
"It could well have been what ultimately killed her, the worry of leaving her legacy behind unguarded from that cancer. Like being locked out of her kitchen, leaving her perfect pie at the mercy of the dog. All she can do is hope for the best."
The doctor caught Juno glancing at the clock again. She chuckled. "Ah, how selfish of me to keep you to myself for so long. You must be getting back to Valhalla." She turned toward the nearby table, where several rough-looking members of her police force were in the middle of a card game. "Rourke!"
Four women responded to the name, simultaneously standing at attention and saying, "Yes, Ma'am!"
Dr. Gaul rolled her eyes. "Nessie," she clarified.
Only the keenest eye could have told the Rourke Sisters apart. Juno could recognize Nessie easily: she was the only one who giggled like an idiot at everything, like when she had welcomed Juno to Gaulheim by letting her Fenris attack dogs dogpile her. Juno had served with her in the army, and remembered the disarming effect the giggle had on one particular squad-mate, who had spent the rest of the war in intensive care after rubbing Nessie the wrong way. And according to rumor, Nessie was the nice one.
"Please show the warden to the gate," said the doctor. She smiled another grotesque smile. "Do visit our humble town again, Miss Radcliffe. I look forward to more tales of your exploits overseas."
Juno simply nodded and gave a half-assed salute. She could feel the doctor's bitter eyes on her back as she walked to the doors, not hiding her eagerness to get the hell out of there.
"You're in an awful hurry," giggled Nessie as Juno practically tore past her. "Figured you'da learned how to socialize after all these years."
"It's nothing personal."
Another giggle. "I hope not. Lemme walk ya out."
"I'll do the honors," said a deep, menacing voice from behind them.
The woman was in her early fifties and roughly the size of a dump truck -- a small glimpse of what the thuggish Rourke Sisters would be in twenty years' time. They gave their amazonian mother plenty of room as she strolled past to join Juno, "sheriff" badge glistening on her chest, eyes burning like tiny volcanoes. Juno kept on her guard as if she were walking out into the snowfall with a wild tiger at her side.
"Nessie says you were some badass commando in the war," said Althea Rourke as she lit a cigarette. "Amazon Force, right?"
"Something like that."
"The way Nessie tells it, you're like a one-woman army."
Juno glanced briefly at Althea. "She tells me you beat a woman to death trying to get a confession out of her."
The sheriff shrugged. "She made it tough on herself."
"Got you suspended, didn't it?"
"Coupla days. Doc was plenty mad, but she's scatterbrained and forgets easily. She can't run this city without me anyway." Althea smirked at Juno's eyepatch. "It true that a dog ate your eye?"
"Mostly ate it, or mostly true?"
Althea shook her head and laughed out a plume of smoke. "No wonder you almost shot Nessie's puppies. Woulda served her right, not keepin' em leashed. She's like a little kid, never fuckin' listens or learns."
"How'd she get such a high position in the police force?"
"Aw, she's not in charge o' nothin', really. I do all the heavy liftin'. The rest o' my clan couldn't find their tits with both hands."
When they came to the gate, both women stopped and waited for the guard to open it for them. Juno's two trucks were just on the other side, with three of her shivering valkyries warming themselves with a community mead horn.
Althea took one last drag and chucked her cigarette into the snow. "Stick around a few hours. Have a drink with me. We got the best mead hall in the valley just up the road from here."
Juno had a brief flashback of "Nice Girl" Nessie disemboweling a Jotun soldier on a frozen battlefield. Her skin crawled at Althea's suggestion. "I have work to do back home."
"Shit, I ain't askin' you on a date. All o' Gaulheim is blue collar hicks. There's nobody in this burg for a soldier to talk to, 'cept my idiot daughters. You and I both seen some crazy shit in our time."
"You see a lot more working for Dr. Gaul, I bet."
Althea's grin was hideous. "It has its perks. Think it over. You change your mind, gimme a call."
They exchanged salutes, and Juno went through the gate.
Dainty Sgt. Kenna offered her the little mead horn while watching the snowy wall of a storm approaching on the horizon. "Started thinkin' they were holdin' you for ransom," she said.
Juno gladly took the horn and drank from it. The taste and warmth of Bifrost honey mead improved greatly in good company. Gaul's mead was very bitter.
The three valkyries all looked solemnly at her, thinking, as she was, of the fate of the men they had just delivered to the Butcher's labs. Juno capped the horn and gave it back to Kenna, noting her eyes were red and wet.
"Nothing more we can do about it," said Juno. "So let's move out."
She was climbing into the passenger seat when she heard the shuffling in the snow under the truck. She gestured for her girls to hold, drew her ballistic knife.
She dropped to the ground and aimed its blade at the dark form clinging to the underside of the truck.
A terrified Othello stared back at her. He raised his hands in surrender and dropped onto the ground, hitting his head.
"What the hell are you doing here?" hissed Juno.
The dark-skinned teenage boy scrambled out from under the truck and practically threw himself into Juno's arms. "Don't leave me here, Miss Radcliffe!" he wheezed, as though he'd been running for miles.
"Gaul has the names and photos of the entire delivery!" said Juno. "She'll know you're missing!"
He pleaded with the big, wet eyes of a little boy. "She's turnin' us into monsters!" he whispered harshly. "I've seen them! Please don't let her take me!"
"What're you talking about? 'Monsters'?"
"She's plannin' a coup to take back the country, and usin' us as the soldiers! Called it 'Eyenore' or somethin'! The Butcher's takin' all the queer boys she can and turnin' 'em into--"
The shouting of the Gaulheim police cut him off: a dozen troops poured out of the gate and surrounded the trucks, all of them armed with auto-shotguns and ordering Juno to step away from the runaway. Othello responded by throwing himself at Juno's feet, begging her not to let them take him.
The Rourke Sisters came a few moments later, Althea in the lead, shaking her head as she towered over the groveling boy.
"Get up, faggot," she said.
Othello didn't respond.
Althea grabbed him by the collar, hoisted him to his feet and slammed him face-first against the side of the truck.
"Maybe fags do as they please in Bifrost, but here in Gaulheim they do as they're fuckin' told."
"There's no need for that," said Juno.
The entire Rourke clan turned and glared at Juno. She didn't flinch.
Althea nodded to Nessie, who drew her baton and struck Othello across the testicles. He fell to the ground, yowling in pain.
Juno moved in to stop the second blow, grabbing and twisting Nessie's wrist into a painful aikido lock; as she screamed, Juno pivoted and threw her head-over-heels to the ground.
Tessie was the next to move, drawing her pistol in the blink of an eye. Juno closed the distance between them just as quickly, twisted the weapon out of her hands and elbowed her in the nose. She had the gun pointed in Althea's surprised face before Tessie fell. The whole incident had passed in two seconds.
The other twelve MP's had their shotguns pointed at Juno's head. Everyone remained perfectly still, except for Althea, who kept her hands up as she began to laugh.
"Man, you just gave me a lady-boner," said Althea. "You are hardcore. Don't think you can take us all, though."
Althea laughed again. "Well, I'd hate for my girls to shoot yours next, over somethin' wasn't their fault. But that's sorta how we roll around here."
Juno scowled at her, but didn't move. She surrendered the pistol.
Althea gestured for her troops to back off. They did, lowering their guns.
"Pick his ass up," said Althea, gesturing to the groaning Othello. "Put 'im in solitary for awhile."
Nessie and Tessie picked themselves up, glaring at Juno. Althea stopped them from rushing their visitor and ordered them back inside, slapping them in the heads when they didn't obey right away.
Then she grinned at Juno. "Let's have that drink another time," she said. She saluted the three valkyries, then headed back into the complex.
Juno was back in Bifrost two hours later, steaming with fury the entire trip.
The meeting with Heimdall, Deputy Freya of the Valkyrie Guard, was not held at her office, but at a quaint cafe in Folkmeadow where Heimdall preferred to meet with her peers. Juno was still a subordinate to her, but was always treated like an equal out of respect, from one soldier to another.
"Fags will say or do anything to get out of a jam," said Heimdall dismissively. "They'll even sleep with women to convince people they're straight."
Juno clenched her teeth and glared into her coffee. She had nearly slapped a woman at Valhalla for saying the same thing.
"Still," said Heimdall, trailing off. She reflected on Juno's career as an MP at Fort Nastrond while she watched the approaching blizzard on the horizon, two days away from the city-state's walls. "Still, odd that he would mention Project Einherjar. Nobody's talked about Gaul's super soldier program in ten years. Not since we had it shitcanned in the conceptual stage. We had more pressing things to spend the state's rations on.
"And it was awful sudden, Matron's daughter falling ill. Your...suggestion that Gaul was responsible seems plausible." She held up one hand. "Hypothetically."
"Othello trusted me, Ma'am," said Juno. "Ever since he was a boy, he's trusted me like a big sister. He could've run off, but he came to me for help. He trusted me and I let him down."
He'd trusted her even after she'd given him up to that detestable bitch. Juno clenched her jaws again and wished for Dr. Gaul's throat in her hands. Othello was still a boy, barely seventeen. Barely seventeen and sitting in a cage in some frigid lab, probably suffering drug-induced madness for the sake of the state's twisted, archaic sense of morality. A boy who had been bounced from one Valhalla to the next, abused and belittled for being just a little effeminate, put through grueling medical trials and hormone experiments in an attempt to "cure" him...until he came to Juno. A boy who always smiled when he saw her, hugged her hello and goodbye, asked her to stay and read with him during lessons.
Heimdall was watching her, reading her thoughts as she sipped her coffee. She set her cup on the table.
"Blizzard will be here in the next forty-eight hours," she said. "It'll hit Gaulheim in about twenty-four. Reports show it's a big one. The sort that knocks out the radio towers and shit like that. Basically Gaulheim will be a snowglobe for at least a few days, totally cut off from the outside world. Happens every time the wind blows in that town. The people are used to it."
She glanced up at Juno and found her listening intently. Her face was as stoic as ever, but Heimdall had learned to watch the eye and read whatever emotion swam inside it.
"Were the wrong person to be in Gaulheim when that storm hits," said Heimdall, "she would basically have free reign of the place. She could find out what's going on in Gaul's backyard, maybe do a little cleanup while she's there. Hell, a small war could break out there, and by the time I hear anything about it, they'd already have a new governor in place. Be too late to do anything but shrug and move on."
Juno watched her silently for a moment. "Hypothetically," she finally said.
Heimdall nodded with a small smile. She sipped her coffee. "Hypothetically."
The book and the mod both have a lot of Norse mythological influences. Mythological valkyries would choose which fallen warriors got to go to Valhalla; in the book, the Valkyrie Guard polices all of Midgard's male population. The einherjar was what those fallen soldiers became when they reached Valhalla; here, its the name of the super soldier project where hapless male subjects are converted into giant murderous fuck-apes. Etc, etc.