I shall post now, in it’s entirety, the writing sample I finished up this morning. Notice how things changed from one day to the next due to editing. I say this all the time. Professional writers are actually just professional editors of their own material.
EVE Writing Sample
I dropped back into consciousness to the sound of temple bells, and children running through the streets on a Holy Day. I had to think hard about where I was. I had to remember why my head ached like it had been turned inside out, and why I wasn’t in the sky where I belonged.
I was planet-side on Amarr’s Imperial homeworld. I knew that because of the bells and the sounds that came through the walls from the city outside. I knew that because besides my own native planet among the Caldari, Amarr’s Imperial homeworld was the only other planet I had ever known.
In another room, I heard the sound of the bonesaw grinding into something wet.
I remembered where I was. I was at Kevir’s underworld boneshop. I had replaced the old Caldari pilot implants with new Amarrian ones. Ekatir had shown me the bug in my system, and told me how to get rid of it.
Ekatir had introduced me to Jax. Jax had brought me here.
Ekatir was just like me. She was another escaped spy for the Caldari Navy, looking for freedom instead of a greater Caldari good. She didn’t want to sell her mind to the slave market any more than I did.
Kevir’s front door opened. Light poured in from the hall. It hurt my eyes. I held my hand up to block the light. For a moment, I thought it might be Ekatir, come to nurse me back to health and flight.
“Nasty headache, Orin?” said a familiar voice. I wasn’t surprised to see Jax, here. I wasn’t happy about it, but I wasn’t surprised.
Jax was a Minmatr scrub from a nomad world, but he wasn’t bad for a Minmatr scrub. He kept his face clean. He didn’t fidget if he sat still for long periods of time. He worked with respectable underworld establishments, like Kevir’s body shop, without bribing anyone. He and I sat across from each other, each of us waiting for the other to speak. He was supposed to be a slave. He was dressed like one, in the low uniform of a household. He seemed to have no master that I could tell.
Jax even managed to speak Caldari without much of an accent. “I see you have chosen a new neural implant? The Caldari Navy would be displeased to see their equipment deposited like waste.”
I snorted. I scratched at the numb spot where the anesthetic tingled beside the metal implant. “Can’t say I share your concern, Jax. The Caldari Navy has a way of keeping track of their equipment, if you know what I mean. They’ll find their equipment when they want to.”
Kevir emerged from the bathroom where I had just had my operation. He was covered in blood. For only a moment, I thought it was my blood all over his gloves and apron. Then I remembered what he was doing with my old pilot implant.
Kevir peeled off his glove. He wore a sleeve of blood above clean, white hands. “Hey, Jax, you come for Orin’s dead body?”
“If you are selling it, then I am buying it.”
“Good.” Kevir looked down at me. He smiled at me with clean, white teeth and blood all over around where the facemask would have kept him clean. He looked like a nightmare. “We can’t call you Orin anymore, can we?”
I shrugged. “I don’t think it matters if I’m still Orin or not, as long as the Caldari equipment thinks Orin is dead and burned planetside, where no wet tomb can bring him back.”
Jax stood up. “What did you do to get such a nasty bug in there, Orin?” He leaned over to inspect the handiwork in the back of my head.
I knew exactly what I had done, because I was volunteered for the job. I had been sent here to be a rogue cell against the Amarr. I was supposed to sell myself into slavery, and the bug was supposed to let the Caldari Navy take control of me when the time came. They wanted me to hand my brain over to the war, and to accept my own lost soul for the greater Caldari good. I didn’t tell Kevir or Jax that. Only Ekatir knew about that, and she had done the same thing I had. She had cleared the bugged equipment and gone mercenary instead of giving her soul to the war.
I told Jax this: “I don’t know, and I don’t care. I’m not a company puppet anymore.”
Jax nodded at Kevir’s handiwork. He was the best brain surgeon in the criminal underworld, if Jax was to be believed. He turned as if to congratulate Kevir on a job well done. Jax shook Kevir’s hand as if in appreciation of the handiwork. Something small passed between their palms. I couldn’t see what it was. Kevir shoved it into his apron pocket.
Kevir put his gloves back on. He went back into the bathroom, to his task. The bonesaw warmed up again. I heard the electric crackle of a lather. The two sounds together of a grinding bone saw and a sparkling lathe reminded me of big beam weapons bays opening just before they fire. It ran a chill up my spine.
Jax smiled at me as if he was going to bite me in the neck. “You look like a new man, Orin. I never thought such a wonder was possible.”
My head swam. The living room was in a respectable, middle-class living quarter in the heart of Galatee. It spun like a portal. I sat back down.
“I wish to propose to you, Orin, a very important and profitable thing to do with your other self. You will be a decoy for a larger operation, and you will be well-paid for your trouble. All you will do is drive your body in a Minmatr frigate I will send you to a particular location. You will deliver your bugged gear to my contact, there.”
“I want half in advance, and I want to inspect your ship before I agree to anything.”
Jax told me nothing else. I had to assume something larger was going on around me. Bad implants were worthless, unless you knew whose head had them. I was more valuable bugged than clean.
I took a deep breath. “Help me stand up,” I said. I held out my hand.
Jax wrapped his little fingers over my big, muscular palm. He helped me to my feet.
“Do we have a deal?”
I nodded. “For now.”
I walked around the room. Then, I walked into the kitchen and made tea for three. I looked out the window at the Amarrian children running around the streets. It was a Holy Day, and schools were closed.
When Kavir was done with the body, Jax and I hid it inside Kavir’s couch. We carried it out into the hall, past all the children running and playing on their day off school. I had a nightmare that one of them would trip us, and send the couch careening to the ground, rolling around and exposing the body. We dodged them as best we could. We ducked their toy guns and nanny drones. We managed to get past them all fine, and none was the wiser.
If any of Kavith’s neighbors looked on, they’d see something perfectly normal. A big, burly Caldari laborer and a scrawny Minmatr slave got rid of a respectable, middle-class Amarr’s old, smelly furniture. We must have been invisible to the Amarrians of this neighborhood.
Jax and I put the couch in the back of Jax’ little cart.
I picked up one of the handles of the cart, and Jax got the other. We walked nice and slow down the side roads and alleys to the spaceport, and the ship he wanted me to use.
It was a Minmatr Breacher that looked like it was held together with twine. Breacher’s had a reputation for being fragile, and this one looked weak. I shook my head. “You need to pay me more, Jax.”
“Of course,” he said. “Upon delivery, I will pay you twenty percent more.”
I should have known he was going to betray me when he didn’t bother to negotiate.
I transferred a few good luck charms into my frigate after Jax was gone. I didn’t think he’d mind. I didn’t have room for much on a Breacher. This wasn’t a battleship. I picked up some drones. I loaded a few missiles. I even installed a warp stabilizer. Pirates liked to camp out at gate points, and disrupt the warp fields that helped their quarry escape.
Then, I took to the sky. It felt good to fly again, even in Jax’ Minmatr heap.
I bobbed and weaved in the crowded air space in front of the gate. Things were more crowded than usual. I pinged the ships, looking for a familiar call sign.
I found Ekatir, in a little scout ship she used for who knew what. She pinged me back. “Orin, you’re back from your operation. Do you know what I love about space, Orin? In space, no one can hear you dream. It is just you and the sky. How did your operation go?” Her honey voice was absurd. She hunted Galatean pirates for the Amarr Emperor. I had hired her for protection on a couple mining runs. I had watched her shoot down escape pods, cackling. She was a stone cold killer.
We had both come out of the Caldari Navy, so we knew the same maneuvers. We got together to keep up with the Caldari Zero-G Wallball League, too. We both followed the Horis Town Spiders. We had first run into each other at a bar that played the games. We got to talking about who we were, and where we came from.
She had told me how I could dump the bugged gear. She had introduced me to Jax and Kevir.
“No one can hear me dreaming anymore, Ekatir. You looking for work? I could use some muscle on my current job.”
“I’m waiting for my team on a job. Why are you in a Minmatr frigate? It’s hideous. How do you plan on mining in that thing?”
“It’s new. I got a great deal on it. I traded in my bugged implant to get his ship.” I spun my probe around. I tried to count the number of ships I saw, clumped around the gate. There were far more ships than usual, even for a core Amarrian planet. “It’s faster than my mining ships. I wanted something with a little more speed.”
“Be careful not to bump anyone. Breacher’s hulls are built with wax.”
“I hope to outrun anyone coming after me. What’s with the crowded sky? I’m actually worried about bumping into another ship out here?”
“The Amarrian Emperor, may he reign a thousand years, celebrates a new implant, to extend his life. Many have purchased passage here to join his Holiness on this auspicious day. Oh, I’ve got to go, now. Safe travels, Orin,” she said. “My wingmates are catching up with me. We have quite a catch to make today.”
Her ship slipped towards the gate before I could say good-bye. She flew much faster than I could in her juiced-up Amarrian scout than I could in my borrowed frigate. Three scouts and a battleship chased Ekatir into the gate.
If I was religious, I’d have prayed for her safe return. Instead, I crawled to the gate, bobbing past transport ships and military ships and everything in between.
I jumped through the gate towards a gas giant hanging off a blue dwarf star alone, with no other planets around it. The noxious golden methane world was my rendezvous. I slipped into sub-light, just beyond the gravity well of the planet. I searched the sky for my contact. I saw no signals on the wires.
Then, I saw the wreckage of a Minmatr Breacher just like mine. It had big chunks of hull bit open, like a big beam weapon had cut through it like a spear. The remains of a life pod spun away from the mess, with a half-burned body dangling from the breech.
I kicked my engines to get back into warp. Nothing happened. I had fallen into a disruption field. I powered up my stabilizer, but it did nothing in this field. This wasn’t some pirate field. This was an elaborate trap, with quality gear, and Jax had pushed me directly into it.
I was his decoy.
I spun around, and made a break for the open sky beyond the planet. I dumped all the power into my engines. I dumped a defensive drone into my wake.
Three blips on my sensors told me about the trouble coming my way. Three scouts and an Amarrian Basilisk ripped around the planet at me. They had been waiting for me.
Long-range missiles shot out from the scouts, towards me. The Basilisk opened the gates to the beam core. For three long seconds, I watched my destruction.
Then, I recognized one of the scout ships.
“Ekater! Ekater, I surrender! Listen! I surrender! Let’s talk about this!”
I kicked my shields on, and killed my engines. The first drone lit up behind me in the missile blasts. I dumped another defense droid into the sky. That one was too late to stop the missiles. My shields took some of the hit. Then, I took one hard blast across my starboard. I felt my teeth shaking inside my wet coffin. I felt the seams in the hull bending in the force.
The first scout blew past me. It took out my second defense drone with short range weapons.
The second scout strafed my shields with beam weapons, but they were just enough to drain the shields. The pinpricks deflated what was left of my defenses completely.
I hadn’t even gotten a single missile off. I didn’t stand a chance.
My ship was naked and defenseless and floating in space.
Ekater pulled into my shadow.
“That you, Orin?”
“Jax turned you in.”
“For what? I surrender.”
“The boss says we’ll pluck what we need from your debris. Consider yourself under arrest.”
The Basilisk slowed to a stop beside my engines. I heard the crackling of the beam weapon, and the grind of the metal gates opening, aiming. Then, the heat came. I felt it tear into my ship, eradicating my hull in blistering white light. I felt the burning all through my body.
My lifepod kicked me out into space. I knew the sides were badly burned from the beam weapon.
I didn’t get far before the Basilisk plucked from the sky. I was swallowed into cold storage. I was brainlocked.
I was brainlocked a long, long time. I couldn’t move my body. All I could do was think about my fate.
The Captain of the Basilisk had bothered to tell me that I had been arrested for being a spy for the Caldari Navy. I was being taken to the homeworld for my sentencing.
I pieced it all together in my head.
I had met Ekatir first. She found out about my past. She sent me to Jax who sent me to Kevir. Then, Jax sent me out on his deal. Then, Ekatir plucked me from the middle of the deal like a fruit, with my Caldari implant removed for an Amarrian implant. Amarrian implants were easier to warp with a slave circuit. The Emperor was safe from my Caldari bug.
Ekatir, the stone-cold killer, had turned me in to the Amarrians. Ekatir, whom I thought was my friend, had betrayed me.
I tried to push it all out of my head. I didn’t have long to think for myself. As soon as I was sentenced, I’d be sent into slavery. My mind would be slaved. I would no longer be myself. And, I wouldn’t even get the satisfaction of the Caldari override circuit. Until then, I tried to remember the good times. I thought about watching the Horis Town Spiders winning Zero-G Wallball matches, while I was drunk with Ekatir, when I thought we were friends. I thought about the freedom I felt when I was flying and I wasn’t working for anyone but myself.
Then the sentencing came. I wasn’t even told. I felt the worm in my implant, tearing into my mind. I felt my body moving by itself. I felt so much love for Amarr, and the emperor and the empire. I felt so much love, I thought I was going to be sick.
Time to write another sample story… Switch gears from gritty space opera to gritty DnD-iana…