Title: THE BADGER PROJECT
Category/Genre: YA Speculative
Word Count: 98,000
Is your main character hot or cold?
Well, although I’m a kid from Wisconsin (a place where the air hurts your face thirteen months outta the year), I’m also a vehement vigilante. My super-suit, though armed with animal-inspired abilities, doesn’t regulate my body heat. On the coldest night I work up a sweat, prowling for the poacher who killed my dad. So when things heat up, and they do (not until like August, but they do), emotions run a little hot—like a first-time camper attempting to set up a tent on a humid summer night (complete with swarm of mosquitoes and distant, but approaching, banjo music).
Brock’s environmentalist father died protecting the Wisconsin woods he loved. Now, to save those woods, Brock must join the very poaching gang that destroyed his family.
Sixteen-year old, Brock Forrester, is not like most Wisconsin cheeseheads. He doesn’t just hear animals, he can translate their barks, caws, and howls into human words. Neat trick, except that in a time when hunting has been outlawed and poaching reigns as the crime of choice, all Brock hears from the forest are cries for help. Driven by the memory of his late father, Brock dons the brown mane and black, solar-powered tactical suit his dad created, and becomes the vigilante known as The Badger. Though the suit is a bit clingy, and makes Brock look like Batman’s redneck cousin, it’s also equipped with an arsenal of animal abilities, like reptilian camouflage and raptor-vision that will help Brock bring the son-of-a-birch who killed his father to justice.
When Brock finds a link between the murder and an extinction-level plot devised by Wisconsin’s most malicious poaching gang, the Bear-Trapperz, it becomes clear that his problem is bigger than his family’s tragedy. The Bear-Trapperz, are removing their rivals by giving them deadly abilities if they join. As a super-powered force with numbers rising into the thousands, they will desecrate both human and animal populations as they lay irreparable waste to the ecosystem.
Knowing he can’t stop a super-enhanced legion as a lone kid on the outside, Brock joins the gang as a double-agent. His Mission: To gain the gang leader’s trust and ascend to a position where he’ll be able to sabotage the poacher’s plans for good. As casualties rise in the wake of Brock’s necessity to ignore tactics that would only stall the gang, Brock fears he’s done more harm than good. Distracted by his conflict of conscience, Brock realizes all too late that he’s been played from the start. Now, with his mother’s life hanging in the balance, and the Bear-Trapperz’s army preparing to march, Brock has no choice but to finish what his father started.
First 250 words:
The air was crisp, the moon, hidden behind a canopy of trees, and somewhere among their branches, a squirrel chittered something beastly in a language I understood.
I think it was a yo-mamma joke. There’re about as many rodent dialects as there’re species of rodents, so sometimes it’s difficult to interpret (either way, the little guy was miffed for sure). I couldn’t blame him. Seven humans in furry, blood-stained jumpsuits, boots and spiked gauntlets had invaded his territory. Their masks cloaked them in the visage of a zombified bear.
In just ten years, poaching gangs like theirs had pushed hundreds of species to the brink of extinction in Wisconsin, and across the country.
Behind the poachers’ ATVs was a brush pile, that’s where I was, waiting for their deal to go down. The sound of approaching engines told me it was time to get ready. I scrolled through my phone for the video recording app (Exhibit A: Video Evidence, Your Honor). But my stupid, fat thumb hit the wrong pixel, or whatever, and brought up my photos instead.
Easy enough fix, all I had to do was swipe back, but I’d already seen that picture of Dad—the one I’d kifed off his Facebook memorial page before Mom took it all down.
You’d think it would’ve reinforced my resolve, after all, Dad was the reason I was out here, doing what I do.
But all the photo did was remind me that Dad was out here, too, doing what he did, when he disappeared.