EVE: The Burning Life (EVE Series)

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9780765325297: EVE: The Burning Life (EVE Series)

A new novel set in the world of the popular science fiction online role playing game, EVE.


We all crave a purpose.

A fire to spark our lives into action.

It's this burning life within that drives us to our destinies.

But when it burns too deep, or goes unchecked, it can shatter innocent lives in its wake.



A vicious attack on a deep-space mining colony rains death and destruction on nearly all its inhabitants. Only a handful survive. Among the shattered survivors is a young man, hell-bent on an impossible revenge.

In another part of the universe, a wealthy agent of death finds her tenuous grip on sanity slipping, and is forced to leave everything she's come to know and love. But her last chance at redemption lies in the last place she ever thought to look.

Their respective paths take them through the vast universe of EVE, to galactic empires built on faith, hedonism, discipline, and rebellion. Their fates plunge them into the darkest parts of this galaxy, to encounters with denizens of the chaotic and dangerous pirate kingdoms. And all the while, as each draws closer to what they seek, they begin to realize that the only stakes worth playing for are the ones from which they've run so far away. . . .

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About the Author:

Hjalti Daníelsson is CCP's lead narrative creator for the harsh universe of New Eden, the setting for CCP's flagship game, EVE Online. After years working as a Game Master, possibly the only job in the world where the clientele routinely demands the return of their spaceships, he transitioned to CCP's creative writing team. Hjalti is the author of more than eighty short stories set in the EVE Online universe, along with various other works including plays and storytelling game fiction. In his spare time, he reads as many books as he can and indulges in sports where he tends to get punched in the head.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1“WE WILL EAT THE BODY

and sanctify its blood, to let it be born again.�

The apartment felt sucked dry of air, replaced with a gaseous formaldehyde that put everything and everyone in stasis. The attendants had formed small clusters, the men standing and facing the floor in grim silence, the women sitting, crying, and comforting each other. It was a young man’s apartment, little more than a studio with a small bedroom off to the side. The door to that room was ajar.

Drem Valate, so numb of emotion he felt like a sleepwalker, went and hugged his grandmothers. Each of them had a necklace with a tiny golden vial, and each fingered hers incessantly. “We will consume him, dear,� they were saying in a shivering stammer. “We shall take him into our fold and make his blood our own.�

It was an old prayer of the Sani Sabik, spoken in hard times, and they murmured it like an endless litany: “We will eat the body and sanctify its blood, and we will consume him until he is gone, to let his soul rise again.� They did not cry, for they were too old and weary, but the words fell from their mouths in droplets.

Drem let them go and looked around the room, still avoiding the sight of that half-open door. It was dawn on the colony. People stayed away from the windows, as if the Red God might come and take them away, and through the glass Drem saw the first rays of the nearest sun glide their cold way over the colony dome.

He wondered momentarily if he should walk about and talk to everyone, but he knew it would merely delay the inevitable. He went over to the bedroom door, opened it, took a deep breath, and stepped through.

It was dark inside, and the air was even heavier. The curtains were closed. There was little decoration: some plants in sealed minidomes, and a couple of holoposters on the walls, cycling through images of space. In the corner stood an inconspicuous machine, dark and quiet, laced with all sorts of wires and tubes that had now been wound up in a loop and left to hang off one side. The sight of that machine felt even more like a death sentence, Drem thought, than the body lying on the bed. You died not when you expired but when your life was neatly packed away.

His brother had needed that machine. He hadn’t been tied to it; he merely plugged in twice a day for a few minutes and otherwise lived a relatively normal life. Drem had been helping him save up for a more mobile unit. It was just the two of them now; their parents had died years ago on a blood-harvesting excursion.

Drem, on reflection, supposed it was only him now.

He sat down on the edge of the bed and remained quite still for a long time, looking intently at the machine. His fingers, meanwhile, blindly found their way to the body of his brother. They held his heavy hands, stroked his cold, inert cheeks, and ran slowly through his lifeless hair.

Drem wanted to cry but couldn’t. He wanted to scream but couldn’t. He wanted to think of Leip alive, to imagine some course of events by which none of this was even a reality, but those thoughts were opaque and he was too numb to grasp them. Some part of him, he knew, had realized that everything had changed and had put up a rock-solid dam to stem the flood. There would be no proper grief until everything was over, until Leip had been bled and the rituals completed.

Drem sat there until he began to hear whispering at the door. He got up, kissed his brother’s forehead, and left the room, letting one of his grandmothers take his place. The light outside the windows felt preferable to the bleakness in the house—the presence of a dead body, in and of itself, did not bother Drem, but the immense and silent anguish he saw on everyone’s faces, and probably reflected in his own, was becoming unbearable. He headed out into the yard and took a long, cold breath of morning.

It was early enough that he could still see trails in the sky from the night’s shipping traffic. The entire colony was attached to a moon in wide orbit around the sparsely colonized planet below, and functioned both as a delivery port for arriving interstellar shipments and, to a lesser degree, an assembling plant for various pieces of technology sent up from the planet and bound for somewhere else in dark space. Drem had been raised in another section of the colony, one located nearer to the outlying landing base, and had grown used to the silent tremors of starships taking off in the dark. In wintertime, he and Leip had sometimes sat by the window long after they should’ve been in bed, watching the bulging columns of smoke as the daily shipments of raw materials were readied to be flown back planetside. Drem and Leip would look at each other, grinning, then in unison place their hands on the windowsill, palms flattened. A few seconds later the soundless vibration from the launch would hit, traveling from the airless landing strip, through the metal of the colony and the stone of its mother asteroid, through the atmospheric shield and the ground beyond, up the walls of the nearest houses and into the bones of their hands, the boys giggling like mad.

Drem rubbed his eyes and realized he was crying.

Someone approached and softly cleared his throat. Drem looked up and saw a middle-aged man, gray of beard and hair, dressed in the familiar red-and-black garb of the Bleeders. They were the combination law-enforcement and religious sectarians of the Sani Sabik. If you ever needed either a priest or a policeman, you’d find a Bleeder. They acted over any religious gathering, from midwives to funeral directors, and it was an old joke that you literally had a Bleeder watching over you from the moment you were born until the last breath of your life.

“Hi, Father,� Drem said, not bothering to wipe the tears from his face.

The Bleeder sat beside him on the grass. “Hello, son. I’m Brother Theus. I understand there’s been a loss in this house.� His lips were fixed in a tempered smile held in place by the many wrinkles on his face—a deep concern woven with experience. Drem didn’t dare assume how much of it was genuine and not merely the result of years of practice with the grieving, but he found it calming nonetheless and felt thankful toward the man.

“My brother,� Drem said. “Died in his sleep last night, apparently. He was... well, I don’t know.� He sighed and looked at the sky. “He’d been having some trouble, what with the sickness and all. But nothing that should’ve caused something like this.�

“Sickness?� Theus asked.

“Sabik’s Sepsis. It wasn’t severe, but it caused a whole damn headache of problems. Leip had a hemopurifier that he used twice a day, and it helped, but you can’t be sick the way he was and get out of it unscathed.� Drem’s ears caught up with his mouth. “Or get out at all, apparently,� he added with a sigh.

“It is always hard when a child leaves the family,� Theus said.

“Oh no, he was an adult. Not old, but in his twenties,� Drem told him.

“Your brother had permanent blood poisoning?� the priest said to him. It was barely a question and verged on judgment. The worry wrinkles on the old man’s face increased, but Drem now found them less comforting.

“Is there a problem?� he asked the priest.

“I must go inside, my son, and see the family. Are you the closest living relative to the deceased?�

“Yes, Father. I am.�

“Then we will need to talk.�

THE NEXT DAY,

Drem, with head full of thunder, went to his grandmother’s house to meet the family for the wake. People would be coming and going all day. They had a young man to bury, and, Drem had discovered, a terrible problem to solve.

The house smelled sweetly of spices and of flowers left to dry in the air. Derutala, known to the family as Granny Deru, had been baking and cooking all day, mostly, Drem suspected, out of a need for something to do. When he came in she was in the kitchen, busying herself with an oven that only she could use without burning its contents. Everything was made of steel and patience here, including Granny Deru.

Drem made his way into the living room. His cousin Vonus was there, standing by a shelf and inspecting the metal picture frames. Vonus’s wife sat in a chair beside him, cradling their infant child. They were only a few years older than Drem and still building a life. At the other end of the room stood another man whom Drem had seldom seen and had not been expecting: Dakren, his father’s brother, a much older man with gray hair and gray eyes.

The infant gurgled happily, and Drem smiled at it. Its mother smiled back at him but with deep furrows of worry in her brows.

Vonus said, “How are you doing, Drem?� in that low voice people reserve for the traumatized, as if sound waves might break them apart.

“I’ve had better days, thanks,� Drem said. “How are you?�

Vonus took his time to phrase the reply. “I’m doing all right, though I have no idea what’s been happening over the past few hours.�

“The priest spoke to you too, did he?� Drem asked.

Vonus hesitated and looked to his wife. She nodded. “Yes. I think he spoke to most of us there.�

Drem looked at the picture frames Vonus had been inspecting. Theirs was a large family, which was common on a workers’ colony. Their little community was sitting on a rock floating in the deeps of outer space. There had been nothing natural here: no atmosphere, no running water, no geothermal heat, and no life. It had taken a long time to give this place anything resembling habitability, and it took no more than a look through its dome to remind the viewer just...

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