[*]Dongs Macabre: I came away with the distinct impression that the doppler fully intended to *find* the Duchess, which seems wildly at odds from the established knowledge that everyone in the story's universe is well aware of the limitations of radio signals and the effects of time dilation. Also found it strikingly odd that her super-advanced power armor would have gauntlets made of iron of all materials when iron is pretty much only useful as a precursor to steel.
So what I was trying to do was try and trick the reader into thinking that maybe there was a chance she was still alive just like the Doppler did, despite having already established in the beginning that she had been missing for years. The part where I mention that the planet was less than a lightyear away was my way of trying to subvert expectations since one would think that the distance in lightyears would correspond to the amount of time that had passed when it's really just because the beacon is still transmitting (but even if that was the case it would contradict what was said previously). That could have definitely been done a lot better.
And I kinda just picked iron because I already used titanium and it was the second coolest sounding metal I could think of lol. I should have put a bit of effort into that detail.
2. Dongs The Duchess reminded me of an over-the-top Warhammer 40k character, which I liked (especially when you dropped that holy in there). The Doppler trading the helmet for the action figure was a nice touch, which elevated this for me. I like how you never explicitly state that he did, but at the same time I think it mightve been a stronger ending to just have it play out versus the to be continued thing we got. Also, seems like everyone has a screw loose, quite literally haha. Her ship crashed because of a screw, the Dopplers got a screw in his pocket, and then his speedometer fails because of a screw. Not sure if that was intentional or some weird connection there.
The Duchess was based on Spartans from Halo, actually, but way more over-the-top. I wanted to pick a kind of character that resonates with me personally given what the story is about, so I picked Halo because it's one of those fictional properties I still have a lot of love for (I had a different idea involving a Transformers pastiche and another involving Bionicle pastiches but this was more fleshed out). The bit with the screw was intentional. Basically that was one of the parallels I tried to draw between the Duchess and the Doppler, since the Doppler's whole thing is that he worships her and tries to emulate her. When he finds that screw in his pocket, I wanted that to be one of those throwaway gags that ends up being important. The Doppler ends up mimicking the Duchess unintentionally, but he isn't on the same scale as the Duchess, so instead of his ship's power failing completely, it just breaks a speedometer, although it ends up having pretty big consequences anyway.
Hopefully my ramblings about my thought process make sense lol.