The Valkyr Case (1995-2001) was a DEA case that was opened in response to the sudden rise in the usage of, and crimes associated with, an illicit substance known as "Valkyr." The major objectives for this case were identifying and apprehending Valkyr traffickers and manufacturers.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Background
- 3 The Case
- 4 Aftermath
- 5 Police Response
- 6 People of Interest
- 7 Behind the Scenes
- 8 Appearances
- 9 References
The case was either a joint investigation between the New York City Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, or began as an NYPD investigation that was taken over by the DEA. Regardless, the case began as an investigation into a new drug that was being distributed in New York City, and it grew into a conspiracy involving the United States government, a major international corporation and a secret society that had ties to the highest levels of authority.
Project Valhalla, the government program that created Valkyr, was established covertly by the United States Army in 1991 during the Gulf War. The project's objective was to create a drug that could enhance infantry troops' stamina and morale, but results were unsuccessful and the project was canceled four years late in 1995. Though the project was officially ended by the Army, a key figure in the project, (who was also a member of a secret society known as the Inner Circle), used her influence and position to take over as project leader in an unofficial capacity.
Nicole Horne, the aforementioned Project Valhalla key figure and Inner Circle member, continued to produce and refine Valkyr while conducting human experimentations in the Project Valhalla bunker underneath the Cold Steel refinery. In addition to producing the drug and conducting secret experiments on people, the drug was also distributed and sold all over New York City as a new "designer drug," which caught the attention of law enforcement agencies.
NYPD detectives Max Payne and Alex Balder were breaking up Valkyr deals since the mid-1990s, busting Punchinello Crime Family foot soldiers during drug deals. Balder and Payne remained partners until the former transferred to the DEA, continuing the case as a federal agent. Despite Alex's attempts to persuade Max to also transfer, Max chose to remain at the NYPD due to his recent marriage and newborn baby.
In August of 1998, Max's wife, Michelle Payne, received a dossier that revealed the existence of Project Valhalla, the military program that originally created Valkyr, that had been delivered anonymously to the District Attorney's office where she worked part-time. The project leader of the unofficial continuation of Project Valhalla quickly found out about the leak and ordered three Valkyr test subjects to be set loose at the Payne Residence after being armed and injected with twice the amount of Valkyr that they were accustomed to. The crazed test subjects ransacked Michelle and Max's home, killing both Michelle and her baby daughter. Max, unable to take out the test subjects before they killed his family, became determined to find those responsible for producing and distributing Valkyr.
After his wife and daughter's funeral, Max transferred to the DEA and became Alex Balder's partner once again to work on the Valkyr Case. It took the two of them three years to get a break in the case, finally getting a low-level dealer to confess that Jack Lupino, an underboss of the Punchinello Crime Family, had been trafficking Valkyr. Max then went undercover to infiltrate the crime family, attempting to get evidence on Jack Lupino and continue to trace the source of the city's Valkyr supply.
After two months of undercover work, his DEA contact, B.B., instructed Max to meet Alex Balder at the Roscoe Street Station for a meet-up regarding Lupino. When Max arrived at the subway station, he realized that he was in the middle of a complex bank robbery being carried out by Punchinello crime family mobsters. After stopping the bank robbery Max met up with Alex, but before they could do more than exchange a few words an unseen gunman snuck up behind Max's partner and shot him to death. Max could do nothing but flee as the police were arriving at the station, and with no other leads to follow Max went to Lupino's Hotel to track down the underboss.
At the hotel, Max was cornered by the Finito Brothers, who revealed that Max's undercover status was compromised and that the Punchinellos had been tipped off that Max was a "cop." Max then shot his way through numerous mobsters, passed several junkies in the hotel high on Valkyr, broke up a Valkyr deal, and found evidence of Vinnie Gognitti instructing the Finito brothers to carry out the aforementioned Valkyr deal on Lupino and Gognitti's behalf, as well as another letter in Rico Muerte's hotel room written by Angelo Punchinello, the Punchinello family Don, which hinted that he knew Valkyr was being distributed by the Punchinellos. On his way out of the hotel, Max overheard a news broadcast that reported on Alex Balder's death and claimed that Max Payne was the main suspect in his murder.
Max found Vinnie Gognitti in Jack Lupino's tenement building but he had to chase the gangster on top of a moving subway train and then across several rooftops until Max could get Gognitti to confess that Lupino was at his nightclub, Ragna Rock. Once Max got to the nightclub, he defended himself against Punchinello mobsters and Lupino's bodyguards that were high on Valkyr, broke up another Valkyr deal, and navigated the mazelike back rooms of Ragna Rock until he finally reached Lupino's private chambers. In the chambers, Max found Lupino - crazed and very high on Valkyr - as he attempted to summon dark deities and demons. Lupino and several of his bodyguards then engaged Max in a gunfight, but were all taken down with only Max surviving.
Max met Mona Sax in the bar of Ragna Rock, who told him that it was Don Punchinello who had Max's partner killed and Max framed for it. Max is drugged by Mona, and he is captured by Frankie Niagara. Niagara was instructed by Don Punchinello to take Max out, but the rogue DEA agent was able to take Niagara and his men out. After doing a favor for Russian Mob leader Vladimir Lem, Max called Punchinello to arrange a meet, but he was set up at Punchinello's restaurant and Max was forced to escape the burning building.
Motivated by Don Punchinello's attempt to kill him, Max stormed Punchinello Manor, took out the Don's men and found him in his upstairs office. Punchinello confessed to only doing what he was told to do, and that he couldn't refuse. Before he could say anything more, armed men rushed into the room and assassinated the Punchinello Don. Max took them out but was soon outnumbered and surrendered to several armed hitmen and Nicole Horne. Horne injected Max with an overdose of Valkyr, which she referred to as "her brew."
The drug's effects incapacitated Max for many hours, but eventually he regained consciousness and followed Horne to Cold Steel, a place he had heard her mention before the Valkyr took effect. Max infiltrated the foundry and made his way past the facility's armed guards and explosive traps until he found an elevator that took him to the Project Valhalla underground bunker.
In the bunker, Max discovered the production facility for Valkyr as well as Valkyr test subjects, dead chemists, and a lab. The lab contained a computer which detailed the history of Valkyr as a military project, the leak of a Project Valhalla dossier that was delivered to the District Attorney's office that Michelle Payne worked at, and Nicole Horne's order to suppress the leak by any means necessary - which resulted in the deaths of Michelle and Rose Payne. The bunker then began a self-destruction sequence, which prompted Max to escape the complex; once the bunker and foundry were destroyed, the production of Valkyr ceased.
As he hid out at an all-night diner, Max got a message from B.B. to meet him at the Choir Communications Garage, and once he arrived at the garage, Max quickly deduced that B.B. had set up Max and killed his partner. B.B. hinted to Max that he had taken on a very formidable opponent and that "he couldn't win this one." B.B. fled from the meeting and left his men to take Max out, but both the assassins and B.B. couldn't take out Max and were killed instead. After he took down his corrupt partner, Max answered a nearby payphone and was instructed to meet Alfred Woden at the Asgard Building.
Max met Woden and other Inner Circle members at the Asgard Building, where Woden explained that several Inner Circle members, including one of their former members, Nicole Horne, had been involved with Project Valhalla during the Gulf War. Woden then explained that Horne, now the president of the Aesir Corporation, had continued the project unofficially and that she had so much influence that even their powerful group couldn't expose and stop Project Valhalla. Since both Max and the Inner Circle shared the same target, Woden proposed that if Max could take Horne out, Max would be absolved of all charges against him. Armed assassins disrupted the meeting at that moment, killing everyone save Max and Woden, and during Max's escape he came across Aesir Headquarters blueprints that assisted Max in reaching Nicole Horne.
The Aesir Headquarters building was secured by sophisticated security systems and heavily armed guards, but Max got around them. He met up with Mona Sax once again and learned that she had been hired by Horne to kill both Max and Don Punchinello. She refused Horne's order to kill Max and was shot as the elevator she was in closed its doors, and when the elevator came back to Max, it was empty. When Max reached the penthouse floor of the headquarters Horne was there waiting for him, telling Max that his quest for revenge and the dismantling of her Valkyr empire was because Max's wife "stuck her nose into things that were none of her business." Max chased Horne up to the roof, where she attempted to escape on her private helicopter, but Max shot the guy-wires that held the building's antenna mast in place, which caused it to fall on top of the helicopter before it could take off. The antenna mast and the helicopter crashed to the streets below, killing Horne, and Max surrendered to the police who had responded to the conflict at Aesir Headquarters.
Max was arrested but since he had fulfilled his end of the deal with Alfred Woden, he was cleared of all charges against him and praised as a hero for exposing the truth about Horne, the Aesir Corporation, and Valkyr. After the destruction of the Project Valhalla bunker and the means to produce Valkyr, usage of the drug fell as supplies slowly ran out. The Punchinello Crime Family, without the support of Nicole Horne and her influence, began to wane in power until the mid-2000s, when arrests and convictions of prominent members of the crime family caused them to lose their status and the remaining members became leaderless street level criminals that attempted to carry on the Punchinello name.
The NYPD initially were a part of the Valkyr Case until it was transferred over to the DEA. In 2001, the police responded to a robbery in progress at the Roscoe Bank, and discovered that DEA Special Agent Alex Balder had been shot and killed. Balder's partner, Max Payne, was blamed for his murder and the police spent the next three nights chasing Payne across the city. During the NYPD's pursuit of Max, the rogue DEA agent killed countless criminals, and the media reported on the deaths followed by statements made by NYPD Deputy Chief Jim Bravura, who said that Max's "crusade nonsense [had] gone too far" and that he was "out of control" and must be stopped.
After Max escaped from Lupino's Hotel, the police responded to the disturbance, closed off the building, and removed the dead mobsters. But Frankie Niagara and his men killed the police unit that were instructed to guard the building sometime before Max woke up in the basement of the hotel. In between Max's escape from the hotel and when he was taken to the hotel's basement, Max was cornered by the police twice. The first time was in a pawn shop, where an NYPD SWAT unit attempted to arrest him, but Max escaped and the SWAT team shot at him as he got out. The second time was during Max's chase of Vinnie Gognitti, and the police, along with Bravura, tailed Max in a helicopter across rooftops, but they eventually lost sight of Max when he ran after Gognitti through apartment buildings and alleyways. For the rest of Max's vengeful crusade through New York's underworld, the police were unable to keep up with Max until he reached the roof of the Aesir Headquarters and killed Nicole Horne. After Horne's death, Max was surrounded by the NYPD SWAT unit, arrested, and escorted to the front entrance of the building. Bravura, satisfied that he had finally brought Max in, instructed the officers to take Max to New York Central Booking.
People of Interest
Max Payne worked on the early stages of the case with his partner Alex Balder in the mid-1990s, until both the case and Balder were transferred to the DEA. After the death of Max's wife and daughter, Max transferred to the DEA as well to continue working with Alex on the case from 1998 until 2001. In early 2001, Max became an undercover agent and worked for the Punchinello Crime Family for three months until his partner was murdered in front of him. Max then went on a vengeful rampage and took out or incapacitated several high-ranking Punchinello mobsters; he also discovered the facilities where Valkyr was produced, the secret U.S government plans that authorized the creation of the drug, and took out the mastermind behind the Valkyr operation.
Michelle Payne worked part-time at the New York District Attorney's office, and in late August, 1998 she anonymously received a dossier about Project Valhalla, a defunct U.S. Army program that was being continued by Aesir Corporation President Nicole Horne. Additionally, the project was also the source of Valkyr. Horne quickly found out about the leak and sent three Valkyr test subjects to the Payne residence to "neutralize" the leak, which resulted in Michelle's death as well as her daughter's death as well; it was also the beginning of Max Payne's quest for revenge against those responsible for Valkyr's existence.
Alex Balder, along with Max Payne, figured out that the Punchinello crime family were the ones that distributed Valkyr and had followed up on leads related to the Punchinello-Valkyr connection. Before and after Max had transferred to the DEA to work the Valkyr Case with him, Balder also worked with B.B. Balder and his partners made little progress in figuring out where the Valkyr was coming from until they had gotten a confession from a criminal that Jack Lupino was trafficking the drug.
Max Payne went undercover to learn more and after three months he had gotten a call from B.B. telling him to meet Balder at Roscoe Street Station because he had news about Lupino for Max. When Max arrived at the station he came across a bank robbery in progress, and after he stopped the robbers he met up with Balder. While they were discussing the robbery Balder was shot by an assassin and the murder was blamed on Max. The next time that he met up with B.B., Max learned that B.B. was the one who had set up and killed Balder while exposing Max as an undercover agent to the criminal underworld.
B.B. was Max Payne and Alex Balder's partner on the Valkyr Case when the three of them worked for the DEA. Sometime before the winter of 2001, B.B. began to take bribes from the Punchinello Crime Family and, possibly, Nicole Horne. Max went undercover to find out more about Jack Lupino when he, Alex, and B.B. got a tip that Lupino was trafficking Valkyr, and after he had been undercover for three months, Max got a message from B.B. telling him to meet Alex at the Roscoe Street Station.
B.B. had set up his partners, with Max stumbling upon a bank robbery in progress carried out by numerous mobsters, and Alex being killed in the subway during the robbery. While Max was able to take down the robbers, Alex was killed by B.B. in the subway and Max was framed for the murder. B.B. also spread the word that Max was an undercover agent, which all resulted in Max being chased by the police and hunted by the Punchinello crime family. After Max had taken down several important Punchinello mobsters within a few days after Alex's death, B.B. called Max to meet up with him at the Choir Communications Garage. Max suspected him of what B.B. had done to both him and Alex, and when B.B. confirmed Max's suspicions he fled their meet and left his men to take Max out. Max took the assassins out as well as B.B. before he could escape the parking garage.
The Finito brothers and Rico Muerte
The Finito Brothers oversaw the illegal operations that were ran out of Jack Lupino's hotel, which included prostitution, phone sex operations, and drug-dealing. During the Valkyr Case a deal was conducted with Valkyr being traded for cash. The deal was to be conducted by Vinnie Gognitti, but he left his supervisory role to Rico Muerte and the brothers. The Finito brothers had since learned that Max Payne was an undercover agent and when Max came to the hotel looking for Lupino, the brothers cornered him in their upstairs office and attempted to kill him. Max shot his way through the Finito brothers as well as their underlings, and during his escape from the hotel Max discovered that an assassin the Punchinellos occasionally hired, Rico Muerte, was being paid to oversee a Valkyr deal in the hotel. Before Max had left the hotel, he ran into Muerte together with Candy Dawn, and the three of them engaged in a gunfight in the hotel's bar. After he took down Muerte, Dawn, and the remaining Punchinellos, Max escaped from the hotel.
Later in the case, Max discovered Muerte's cache of weapons hidden at the Brooklyn docks. There was also a note that instructed Muerte to assassinate the Mayor of New York City written by Nicole Horne. Horne most likely targeted the mayor due to his aggressive stance against Valkyr.
Vinnie Gognitti was Jack Lupino's second-in-command and often followed orders passed on to him by Lupino. During the Valkyr Case Gognitti was put in charge of at least one major Valkyr deal, and gave the responsibility of directly overseeing the deal to the Finito brothers. After Max Payne disrupted the Valkyr deal at Lupino's hotel, Max went to Lupino's suite where he found Gognitti. Max chased Gognitti across the New York City rooftops and through alleyways until Max cornered Gognitti, wounded him, and got the mobster to tell Max where Lupino was; Gognitti's role in the Valkyr Case ended when Max left him wounded in the alleyway.
Jack Lupino was the underboss for the Punchinellos, and conducted a lot Valkyr-related business for the crime family. Despite having been an influential figure within the Punchinellos due to his high-ranking status, Lupino became addicted to Valkyr; his addiction caused both his subordinates and Don Punchinello to question his leadership and state of mind. By the time that Max had tracked Lupino down to his nightclub, Ragna Rock, the Punchinello underboss was under the full effects of the Valkyr drug, having manic hallucinations and possessing near-superhuman stamina; during Max's shootout with Lupino and his men, it took numerous bullets to finally bring Lupino down. The death of Lupino left Don Punchinello without an underboss and many Punchinello mobsters without a leader, which affected the viability of the Punchinello crime family after the Valkyr Case was closed.
Mona Sax was hired as an assassin by Nicole Horne to take out two people: Angelo Punchinello and Max Payne. Mona agreed to take Don Punchinello out because he repeatedly abused his wife, Lisa Punchinello, who was also Mona's twin sister. Mona got inside Punchinello Manor, but was captured and held in the basement. Before the Don's men could torture or kill her, Mona killed several guards, escaped from the manor, and left a back door open, which made it easier for Max Payne to sneak into the manor undetected later that night. Though Mona was also hired to kill Max and was at Aesir Headquarters when Max got there to kill Nicole Horne, she refused to kill him, "Relax, Max. You're a nice guy. I don't kill nice guys." Mona was shot by a Killer Suit, and she disappeared behind closing elevator doors.
Vladimir Lem was the Russian Mob leader in New York City during the Valkyr Case, and was in a mob war with the Punchinellos at the time. Lem and the Russian Mob specialized in illegal weapons dealing, and when Boris Dime, the Russian mobster Lem put in charge of protecting a substantial cache of weapons, turned against Lem and sided with the Punchinellos, Lem made a deal with Max Payne to take back the weapons and kill Dime and his men in exchange for weakening the Punchinellos and getting enough weapons to stand a chance against Punchinello. Max boarded the cargo ship that contained the weapons cache, killed Dime and his men, then took as much guns and ammunition as he could carry. Lem re-claimed the ship and weapons, then later gave Max a ride to Punchinello's manor after Don Punchinello attempted to have Max killed at the Don's restaurant. 
Angelo Punchinello was the Don of the Punchinello crime family during the Valkyr Case, and was in a partnership with Nicole Horne to have the Punchinellos distribute Valkyr in exchange for protection and influence. Punchinello, due to his uneasy partnership with Horne, knew about his men selling Valkyr for awhile and personally assisted in setting up extra protection for at least one important Valkyr deal. Punchinello also got involved in attempting to kill Max Payne, who was taking down prominent Punchinello mobsters; Punchinello sent Max to his restaurant, Casa di Angelo, and tried to blow him up along with the building, but Max was able to escape and subsequently infiltrated Punchinello's manor.
After Max got into the manor and killed the gangsters protecting Punchinello, including "The Trio," Don Punchinello pleaded with Max and told him that he had been coerced into having the Punchinellos distribute Valkyr. Before Punchinello could further beg or explain anything else, Killer Suits rushed into the room and assassinated the Don.
Alfred Woden and the Inner Circle
Alfred Woden and several other members of the influential secret society known as the Inner Circle, were involved in the early stages of Project Valhalla and continued to be until the project's dissolution in 1995. Nicole Horne, a member of the Inner Circle, decided to unofficially continue the project and eventually began distributing Valkyr, the drug that the project created and attempted to perfect. The other Inner Circle members, including Woden, attempted to stop Horne from continuing the project but with Horne's wealth and influence, they were blackmailed into silence. In August 1998, Woden anonymously sent a Project Valhalla dossier to the District Attorney's office that detailed its existence and incriminated Horne.
In the winter of 2001, during Max Payne's rampage through the New York criminal underworld, Woden intermittently assisted Max through a series of phone calls. After he killed his and Alex Balder's corrupt partner, Max got another call from Woden, who instructed Max to meet him at the Asgard Building. Once Max got to the building, Woden introduced him to several other members of the Inner Circle and then began to explain more of the background on Project Valhalla. Woden then told Max about Nicole Horne, and how they would assist him in taking her down by providing information on her location and protection from the law for Max. Before Max or the Inner Circle could do anything else, Killer Suits infiltrated the building and took out practically every member of the secret society while Max escaped out of a nearby window.
Woden survived the Killer Suits' assault, and Max saw him on the building's security monitors as he rose amongst his dead companions and escaped. Max saw Woden again later that night in the crowd that had gathered outside the Aesir Headquarters after Max had killed Nicole Horne. Woden, with his influence, would get Max's charges dropped and commended as a hero after the Valkyr Case was closed.
Nicole Horne had an unknown but prominent and influential role in Project Valhalla in the early 1990s. When the project was terminated by the U.S. Army, Horne unofficially continued it as project leader. Valkyr, the drug that was created for the project, began to be distributed to citizens in the mid-1990s and caught the attention of detectives Alex Balder and Max Payne, who busted several Valkyr deals conducted by members of the Punchinello Crime Family.
In 1998, documents that confirmed the existence of Project Valhalla and incriminated Horne were sent to the District attorney's office and ended up in possessions of Max Payne's wife, Michelle Payne. Horne quickly discovered the leak and dispatched armed and heavily dosed Valkyr test subjects to the Payne Residence. The test subjects killed Michelle and her newborn daughter, and prompted Max Payne to join the DEA and take down those responsible for Valkyr's production and distribution.
In 2001, Horne was the President of the Aesir Corporation, and she used her wealth and influence to have those that threatened Valkyr's continued distribution either killed or compromised. DEA Special Agent Alex Balder was killed and his partner, Max Payne, was set up as his murderer while having his undercover status compromised. The Don of the Punchinello crime family, who facilitated the Punchinellos distributing Valkyr, was assassinated by Horne's personal hired killers when Horne wanted to cut her ties with the mobster family. Horne also hired Rico Muerte to kill the Mayor of New York City after he made a proposal to prioritize law enforcement's efforts to stop Valkyr's distribution. Horne also hired Mona Sax to kill Max Payne once she realized that he was responsible for destroying the Valkyr production facility and was after Horne due to her involvement in his wife and daughter's deaths. Mona couldn't bring herself to kill Max and she was shot by a Killer Suit, and Max then chased Horne up to the roof of Aesir Headquarters, where he killed her before she had a chance to escape in her private helicopter.
Behind the Scenes
- The name of the case is first mentioned by Max during the graphic novel sequence at the end of the first prologue of Max Payne: "It took us three long years to get a break in the Valkyr Case."
- In one of her news reports that can be viewed on a television in the last chapter of Max Payne 2, Kyra Silver refers to the case as "the Valkyr scandal of 2001."
- Max Payne
- Max Payne 2
- Max Payne 3 comics
- Computer files Max read in the bunker underneath Cold Steel. The Deep Six, Max Payne
- Prologue (The American Dream), Max Payne
- Prologue (A Cold Day in Hell), Max Payne
- Live from the Crime Scene, Max Payne
- Vinnie Gognitti: "The V-deal goes down at yer hotel. Jack's exact words, quote: 'Vinnie, you're in charge of this one' unquote." Playing It Bogart, Max Payne
- Angelo Punchinello: "We need [Rico Muerte's] special skills for backup on a major deal." Playing It Bogart, Max Payne
- Police Brutality, Max Payne
- An Empire of Evil, Max Payne
- The Baseball Bat, Max Payne
- Put Out My Flames With Gasoline, Max Payne
- Angel of Death, Max Payne
- Prologue (A Bit Closer to Heaven), Max Payne
- Hidden Truths, Max Payne
- Backstabbing Bastard, Max Payne
- In the Land of the Blind, Max Payne
- Nothing to Lose, Max Payne
- Pain and Suffering, Max Payne
- Elevator Doors, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
- The only mention of Valkyr use in Max Payne 2 is a darkly comedic statement recited by a cop that described a man caught burying the remains of his wife while high on the drug. Other brief mentions of the drug throughout the game relate more to the events of the first game, describing events that had happened in the past. The "husband burying his dead wife" statement can be overheard in the Part II prologue in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
- Page 11, Max Payne 3 comic Hoboken Blues
- Fear That Gives Men Wings, Max Payne
- B.B.: "Maxey, you have no idea how big this is. It's huge. You have no idea." Backstabbing Bastard, Max Payne
- Playing It Bogart, Max Payne
- The Blood Veins of New York, Max Payne
- The cache and note, read in Nicole Horne's voice, can be found in the chapter An Offer You Can't Refuse.
- Kyra Silver: "...In his press conference today, the Mayor stated that Valkyr represents a clear danger to New York, and called for drastic actions to eliminate the problem." Playing It Bogart, Max Payne
- Let the Gun Do the Talking, Max Payne
- Angelo Punchinello: "...Don't want to think that one of my boys is not playing with a full deck. Shape up, Jack. We are running a business here. I'd hate to have to send The Trio to strong-arm you..." An Empire of Evil, Max Payne
- An Offer You Can't Refuse, Max Payne
- There Are No Happy Endings, Max Payne 2
- "Previously on Max Payne" cutscene, Max Payne 2