A Sci-Fi Fantasy Heretic/GZDoom mod. Thought I'd post a WIP video and story here as a preview. This is my attempt to reinvent another old property into something considerably less boring.
TL;DR Version: A hillbilly space elf is arrested for collaborating with a galactic Shogun who is conquering system after system. The elf is given the choice between a firing squad, and a chance at redemption...which involves braving a treacherous planet in search of a powerful artifact.
Christine’s head was pounding when the hulking Shang woman shook her awake and dragged her out of her cell. It felt like termites were tunnelling a city inside her skull. Every slight movement made her nauseous.
She cursed Mickey Finn. He’d fed her a line about a profitable score, gave the time and place of the meet. She was black bagged the moment she had stepped inside, transported to a black market surgeon with a lazy eye and a nasty grin.
No sooner had she come out of her coma, she began several weeks of space travel from one station to the next. She only had vague memories of the journey. The doc had done something to her.
The big Shang shoved her into the office and pushed her down into a small, uncomfortable chair. Christine’s groggy brain followed a few moments later, and left the room spinning for a minute.
The Terran man standing at the huge oak desk was holding Christine’s bolter in his arms: a long, elegant weapon like a hybrid crossbow and laser gun, the receiver branded with the Silvercross crest. Christine bore the same crest behind her pointy left ear, rendered in blue ink, right beside the sigil of the Geldan Legion, 75th division. The window behind the desk looked out from the stern of the ship and gave a stunning panoramic view of the Oranos Nebula.
“Christine Silvercross,” said the man as he set the bolter back onto his desk, beside a pair of silver-plated kukri daggers. “Your grandfather’s company produced this weapon. A fine piece of work that’s served a number of planets in countless conflicts, including the current one against the Kilee Shogun. The Silvercross clan is highly regarded in seven systems, for a bunch of pointy-ear-having space bumpkins. But I guess even space bumpkins have their black sheep and good-for-nothings.”
Christine crossed her legs. Her ears twitched. “Iffen I’m good fer nothin’, why’d you fly me two star systems away from home just ta see me?”
The Shang woman bowled Christine out of the chair with a punch to the back of the skull. She awoke one minute and one bottle of smelling salts later.
The Terran man sat on the edge of the desk. “I’m Dil Durrante, CEO of Optimum. We’re a security organization that helps systems in peril.”
“I heard o’ ya. Mercenaries. Hired thugs.”
Durrante smiled and nodded. “And you’re a thief, a smuggler, and a collaborator. A disgrace to the Geldan Legion.”
“Collaborator is an ugly word for it,” said Christine, bracing herself for another punch to her throbbing head. “Look, it’s like this: I keep movin’ ta new systems when the Kilee Shogun’s troops start stranglin’ trade in the current one. He knows I’m good at what I do, so he throws jobs my way when he needs hoodoo arty-facts or the name of some spy what’s causin’ him headaches.”
“The Kilee Shogun is fattening hundreds of rats just like you. Sooner or later he tosses the fattest ones to his cat. You get me?”
“Well, whadda I say to the Shogun when he gives me a job? I’m s’posed ta tell him ‘no thanks’ and see what space gulag he throws me in? I mean, yeah, he always pays me real well, and I live easy thanks to him. But when things start blowin’ up, I skip town, take a shuttle to the next system. When his empire reaches my new home, it’s wash, rinse, repeat.”
“That why they call you the Silver Ferret? You’re a dirty opportunist?”
“I’m smart. When yer smart, ya serve the winnin’ side.”
“You sold out Harley Apogee, the ship trader, to the winning side. He was spying on the Kilee magistrate for the Allies.”
Christine spat. “Harley Apogee wuzza two-bit smuggler, and a cheat and a con man on top ‘o that. He screwed me so hard I was stuck doin’ shit jobs on Terra for six months just to get back on my feet. He got what was comin’ to ‘im.”
Durrante pulled a stack of photographs from his pocket and dropped them into Christine’s lap one at a time. She knew the first one: Harley Apogee’s fat, battered face, photographed by the coroner.
She didn’t know the other faces: a middle-aged woman, an old man, and three children. All battered just like Harley. All dead.
Durrante folded his arms. “Wife. Grandpa. Children. Beaten to death by Kilee shock troops.”
Christine’s head pounded like a war drum. She choked back her bile and brushed the pictures aside. “I didn’t know, arrite? He never said nothin’ ‘bout bein’ no family man. Look, I’m a lotta thangs, but a collaborator ain’t one of ‘em!”
“Too little, too late.” Durrante pointed to the pictures scattered on the floor. “There’s millions more photos like that. Every innocent life who meets the Kilee Regime ends up in one. I’m tired of looking at them. That’s why the governors hired me: to weed out the collaborators and stop the Shogun from expanding any further.”
Christine felt like throwing up. She held her head and swallowed. “Whatsa girl gotta do ta get a drank in this hole?”
Durrante went around behind his desk and pulled out a tall bottle of amber fluid and two glasses. He filled both, offered one to Christine with an odd half-smile. “Tingly headache? Feels like termites?”
“Good. Then it’s working.”
Christine drained half the glass. “What’s workin’? What in the nine hells did you do ta me?”
“The surgeon installed a nanobot in the base of your skull before you got on the shuttle. You have about a week left.”
Christine stared at him. Her ears drooped. “A week left ‘til what?”
“The ‘bot self-destructs. Takes your brain stem with it. You’ll either be dead instantly, or paralyzed and left at the mercy of the elements.”
Christine’s ears drooped until they brushed her shoulders. “That’s a joke, right?”
Durrante watched her as he sipped his glass. He picked up his digital assistant and brought up a tactical display. “I’ve personally executed over a dozen collaborators after they confessed. For you I’m making a special exception. You said you serve the winning side. Right now that’s Yours Truly.”
The digital assistant displayed a chart of a mountainous region of the planet Shay--and old planet where the elves were born, according to legend.
“The Kilee Shogun fancies himself a mystic. He collects supernatural artifacts from every system he conquers. Whether they actually have supernatural benefits is up for debate, but one thing is certain: they empower the morale of his troops, and enable him to blitzkrieg system after system. It’s high time he suffered a loss.
“My intel shows he’s got a fetish for elven artifacts. He considers them the richest in ethereal power. The ultimate elven artifact is a fabled ring from the ancient city of Arkista on planet Shay. The Shogun sent a small team to Arkista to authenticate the ring, but they were apparently set upon by the natives, and the ring was lost. This is the first opportunity the Allies have had to penetrate the Shogun’s proverbial armor. He’s become increasingly paranoid without that ring, and he’s desperate to get it back.”
He dropped the digital assistant into Christine’s lap, the map centered on the city of Arkista.
“To call Shay’s ecosystem hostile is putting it lightly,” Durrante continued. “It lashes out at anything that attempts to explore it. There’s a file on my digital assistant listing everyone who ever explored Shay and survived, but I’ll give you the abridged version: they all had elf in their genes.”
Christine’s left ear twitched. “Yer sayin’ the planet picks favorites?”
“It reacts to non-elves the same way our immune systems react to foreign invaders. The environment just annihilates anything that breathes unless it’s got pointy ears and can’t hold its liquor; in that case, it only slightly kills them. That’s why it hasn’t been colonized in modern times. I’ve got no elves on my staff, but I do got one in my holding cells, staring my firing squad in the face. You get me?”
Christine nodded. She polished off her glass and handed it back to Durrante.
“Arkista is smack in the middle of a volcanic forest,” said Durrante. “I’m air-dropping you at the mouth of the forest with an automap, your weapons, and a basic survival kit. Anything else you want, you’ll have to scavenge from the failed expeditions that came before you. As I understand it, there’s plenty of loot to be had down there. Once you reach Arkista, track the Shogun’s expedition until you find the ring. Contact me once you have it, and I’ll extract you within the hour.”
“And then remove the explodin’ tech-bug from my brain, right?” Christine added.
“If the planet doesn’t kill you first,” said Durrante.
Christine’s stomach did backflips while she waited for her mother to answer the call. She stared at the Shang woman leaning against the wall beside her, watching her like a hawk. Two doors up the hall was the transporter room, warming up for her deployment.
“You got a name or what?” said Christine.
The Shang woman grunted.
“You speak humanoid or do the Shang conversate in grunts and growls?”
“Figgered as much.”
After two more rings, Mother finally answered.
“Mama?” said Christine. “It’s Chrissy. Didja get my email--?”
“No, it ain’t jail exactly. Look, jes’ calm down, arrite? If ya stop cussin’ for two minutes--!”
“Mama, before ya throw any more colorful metaphors my way, it ain’t entirely my fault how my life turned out. I’m your daughter, and don’t you forget it.”
“No, a lawyer won’t help me none. Not this time. I jes’ wanted ta make sure ya knew my package was on the way. Ya gotta sign for it or they’ll hold it at the post office. It’s jes’ some sentimental thangs I been holdin’ onto.”
“I screwed up. I done screwed up a lotta thangs in this life, I know that, but I really blew it this time. I know I never keep my promise ta visit you. This may be the best I can do fer awhile.”
“Yeah, well, they given me a chance ta make up for ev’rythang. It’s dangerous, but that ain’t nothin’ new to yer Chrissy.”
“Love you too, Mama. I’ll call soon as it’s over.”
Christine hung up and took a deep breath. She glanced at the Shang woman.
She may as well have been a statue. She still stared, still leaned against the wall. But she surprised Christine when she actually spoke: “You tell her you might be dead by the end of the week?”
Christine shook her head. “Ain’t told her shit, ‘cept that I’m doin’ govermint work, and how I got into this mess in the first place. I stress her out enough as it is.”
The Shang woman snorted. “I don’t exactly make my Mama proud, either.”
Something dinged in the transporter room like a microwave.
“Daisy!” hollered Durrante. “Bring our convict in here! She’s all fired up!”
Christine watched the Shang woman flush bright red.
“Well, let’s get ‘er done, Daisy,” said Christine, strangling her laughter as she marched up the hall to the transporter room.