As we read through the submissions to our first-ever EVE Online flash fiction competition, one thing became all too clear: we have a new frontrunner for the hardest JA bounty to award. We’ve been blown away by the quality of these submissions; it’s reaffirmed our conviction to run more fan-fiction bounties moving forward. We’ll likely theme them, so if you have any ideas, let us know in the comments.
We’ve given pride of place to the winner, but be sure to read on to the second- and third-place stories, as well as extracts from those tales we just had to recognise with honourable mentions.
1st place: MacGybo
Congratulations to @macgybo for their excellently written, philosophical tale of collective memory and shared identity. We particularly love how they creatively reimagined core pieces of EVE lore. CCP, if you’re reading this, please make it canon.
Here’s a scene-setting note from MacGybo:
“Prior to their market launch in Y118, Skill Injectors did not undergo the memory filtration process. This meant that it was not unusual for recipients of stolen prototype injectors to find memories injected from other pilots. Many capsuleers went mad, not realising that the memories inhabiting their heads were not their own.”
Fractured Echoes: A Tale of a Stolen Prototype Skill Injector
In the sprawling expanse of New Eden, where stars glimmer like dreams across the fabric of space, the life of a capsuleer is a tapestry woven with the threads of ambition and skill. Among them was Captain Target Caderu, a seasoned pilot who soared through the abyss with an insatiable hunger for power. Her Astrahus was her sanctuary, a place where she felt invincible. And yet, it was a single encounter with a stolen prototype Skill Injector that unravelled the boundaries of her reality.
With fingers trembling in anticipation, Target activated the Skill Injector’s interface. It was a conduit to unparalleled growth, a window to potentiality. The injection was swift. As the liquid entered her neural pathways, she felt a surge of energy and a newfound proficiency course through her veins. She grinned, a rush of empowerment enveloping her senses. Little did she know, she had initiated a sequence of events that would transcend the realms of her understanding. What should have been a moment of expanded knowledge became an elongated trip.
Days passed, and Target found herself immersed in battles of cosmic grandeur. Yet, amidst the frenetic dance of lasers and explosions, whispers of fragmented memories crept into her consciousness. In the midst of a dogfight, she saw for a fleeting moment the silhouette of another ship — a ship she had never flown. Her heart raced, for the image was accompanied by inexplicable familiarity, as though the ship held a piece of her past.
As days turned to nights, the boundaries between Target’s memories and the echoes of others began to blur. False recollections intermingled with her own experiences — faces she had never encountered, battles she had never fought. It was as if the Skill Injector had unlocked not just skills, but a hidden vault of stories, a collective memory of other pilots, each with their own ambitions, triumphs, and tragedies.
Target’s logs were peppered with entries she couldn’t recall making. Tales of daring rescues, covert negotiations, and personal vendettas that she had never been part of. The confusion gnawed at her, like an enigma demanding unravelling. She combed through the data streams, seeking solace in her ship’s AI, her only constant companion in this tumultuous journey.
Aura offered an explanation rooted in quantum entanglement — a theory that the infusion of skill data had temporarily linked her consciousness with the collective memories of other pilots who had used similar Skill Injectors. The explanation was as mind-bending as the universe itself, a hypothesis that blurred the lines between individuality and shared experiences.
But amidst the chaos of her shifting memories, a pattern began to emerge. Target recognised recurring themes — forgotten friendships, epic battles, and heartrending losses. These collective memories painted a portrait of the capsuleer existence, a spectrum of emotions and endeavours that transcended the confines of time and space. As she delved deeper, the lines between her identity and those of the other pilots began to blur.
In one memory, she stood on the precipice of a decisive confrontation, her heart a symphony of uncertainty and valour. Yet, it wasn’t her battle to fight — it was another pilot’s. A fellow capsuleer named Kael, who had stared into the abyss of an impending defeat with unwavering resolve. Target could feel Kael’s heartbeat, his pulse of determination that echoed in her own veins.
With Aura as her guide, Target embarked on a journey to retrace Kael’s steps. She navigated the starlit pathways of forgotten battles deciphering encrypted logs and decrypted transmissions. Along the way, she encountered other capsuleers who, like her, had experienced the echoes of their comrades’ memories. Together, they pieced together a tapestry of shared experiences, creating a new kind of camaraderie that transcended their individual narratives.
As the threads of her journey converged, Target found herself face-to-face with Kael — or rather, his memory. In a timeless realm of shifting data streams, their essences intertwined and the boundary between them dissolved. She felt his determination, his unwavering belief in the potential of capsuleers to shape the universe. It was a transcendental connection that defied the limitations of her physical form.
With newfound clarity, Target returned to her ship, the vessel that had become a canvas for her expanding consciousness. As she navigated the stars, she carried not just her own memories, but the echoes of those who had come before. Each battle, each victory, each defeat — interwoven fragments of countless lives, a testament to the indomitable spirit of capsuleers.
And so, Captain Target Caderu continued to traverse the galaxies, her identity an amalgamation of her own experiences and the memories of others. The Skill Injector, intended to be a catalyst for personal enhancement, had become a portal to a collective consciousness, a symphony of aspirations that harmonised across the cosmic expanse. In the ever-evolving saga of New Eden, she had become a harbinger of unity, a beacon of shared stories that transcended time and space.
2nd place: Brother Grimoire
Greed for power, wealth, and glory has long driven humankind to do terrible things. Yet, as @BrotherGrimoire explores in his high-adrenaline piratical adventure, there is another motivation that can send even good folk down the darkest of paths - hunger. Brother Grimoire’s tale excellently captures the despair of being alone in space with time and options running dry. We’ll leave you to judge whether the actions taken by the crew of the Locust were justified by desperation or motivated by other ideals.
Hunger. That was Richard’s alarm clock now. It has been three days since he last ate. The last of his ISK has gone to the station manager to save his ship, the Locust, from being impounded for unpaid docking fees. That, and keeping the loan sharks off his back. Times are hard everywhere and resupply is as far from the crew as heaven from Earth.
“Today we eat,” he mumbles to himself, the phrase now a mantra after months of empty wallets and stomachs.
With the ship floating in a remote corner of the system, Richard takes his post and begins to watch the scanning equipment intently, waiting for the answer to his prayers. Hours pass, but time is only measured in waves of hunger. A panel chirps and new readings appear on the panel.
“A Tayra!” he gasps as a fresh wave of hunger washes over him. “Think of all the food it could hold!”
At that moment, the fate of Richard Swallows and his crew is sealed. Like the sailors of ancient Terra, they will ‘raise the black’, take what they can, and give none back.
Reinvigorated by the prospect of fortune and a good meal, Rich stands tall at the helm and begins to give orders.
“Set a course to drop us right in its projected path! By the time it arrives, I want us to look dead in the water! Broadcast a garbled distress call on the local frequencies detailing a core breach, tell them radiation is spreading and we need immediate rescue! We want them nice and close, so they don’t know what hit them. We also don’t want anyone else to know who hit them. Gunnery, stand by to online the blasters and take out their command centre. Overheat the guns if you have to!”
With his orders being carried out around him, Richard takes his seat and adjusts a setting on the helm’s panel.
The hours pass slowly, but eventually the Tayra is visible through the porthole. She’s a large hauling ship with pockmarks and grime telling of her age and experiences.
“Caldari Hauler Corona responding to your distress call. If anyone can hear us, please make way to the port airlock for evacuation!” The message is relayed across internal comms, informing the crew that awaits in the shadows, blasters at the ready.
With a groan, the airlock door opens slightly and the crew of the Corona enter. Disturbed by the lack of survivors, they cautiously push forward. As they enter the ship, the ‘endangered’ crew make their appearance, falling upon their would-be saviours with fire and fury. The Locust’s Blaster Cannons shake the deck as it targets the command bridge of the Corona.
“Command is down. Board them and take it all!”
Rich’s crew storm the Corona, killing all in their way. They haven’t eaten in days and their families have gone without their support for too long. They don’t have the luxury of a conscience anymore.
First comes the galley. The Caldari sure know their food, with plenty of dairy, imported Amarrian wheat, and various protein delicacies. The crew scramble to the freezers and refrigerators and squabble amongst themselves until the more sensible members take charge and begin distributing food. Next comes the cargo. This particular hauler was carrying robotics components for advanced weaponry.
“We’re rich, boys! Once we offload this cargo, we’ll never want for anything again!” Captain Rich exclaimed. There was simply too much to take it all, but every hold, cabin, gangway, and common area was filled with loot.
With the goods secured, Rich gives one final order. “Trigger the core breach and activate warp drive”.
The ship slips into warp as explosions begin to bloom along the hull of the Corona, destroying all evidence of their foul deed. As the immediate danger subsides, the thoughts of the crew collectively linger on what they have done. They never intended to live a life of piracy, but full bellies and the prospect of wealth contrasting against their recent struggles leaves them conflicted.
With a crackle, the ship’s intercom activates. “Attention to all crewmembers of the Locust: There is nothing wrong with survival. The wild ecosystems of the planets we pass and the bloody history of our people are proof of this fact. This was an act of desperation. Those that would like to leave with their share and forget about it all are free to do so, whereas those that decide to stay will be free.”
With those words in mind, the crew members made their decisions. Outfitted with upgraded weapons systems and sporting new drones, the Locust began to ply one of humanity’s oldest professions.
“The stars are freedom, and the pirate is their master. We fly where we want, take what we want, and answer to none. We are the freest men in the universe.”
3rd place: Kane Carnifex
Our next story is told via the internal monologue of a capsuleer. The enigmatic, somewhat menacing, and seemingly unhinged protagonist seems cold and removed, both to their own fortunes and that of their crew. That is, until danger arises.
@Kanecarnifex has provided two different mediums for their story. We strongly recommend listening to the dramatic recording complete with extra sound effects.
An Immortal’s Risk
Good old Jita. Finally, we’ve got all the goods. We’re ready to undock. Trigger the autopilot and in a matter of time, we’ll be at the Lowsec border.
These numbers represent my path - chosen by those who couldn´t possess it -
and an enormous amount of ISK.
The dream is big. And in the beginning, we were many. We all knew it was a lottery, that only 14% would make it. The education, or better yet let’s call it ‘the transformation’, is but a small path between insanity and the loss of any pure will to live.
Well, I can tell you from here that death is a price you would need to pay, but first the choice would need to be yours to make. For everybody here, it is a dream. To be chosen is the greatest honour you can receive in New Eden. As a Deteis from the Caldari State, your life is built around it. You look up to the stars and either you become an immortal capsuleer or you have the chance to become a crewmate on a battleship or perhaps, if destiny is with you, on a capital ship. They will funnel your mind beginning with the first breath of synthetic air.
Was it different for me? No, not at all. I am like all the others before me and all who will come after me. We are immortal. Life has no meaning to us. The universe is our playground. All of us thought that we would never become cold hearted, but instead we have together become the god of death.
You board your ship. For you, it is not a trip of life and death. But for your crew it will be. Which crew do you ask? The crew that mans every one of our ships.
My friend, do you know how much a singular ISK is worth in planetary currency? It’s money for more than a lifetime. This is what crews are there for. This is why we always have crew. It doesn’t matter. What is one ISK to you? Just another penny; nothing.
Here I am. Nine years after becoming a capsuleer. Do I ever stop to think how many I’ve lost on the way? No, I don’t. I don’t care. Not anymore.
Autopilot has automatically shut off and the voice from Aura echoes through my head.
“Autopilot disengaged; waypoint reached.”
But it is not the sound of Aura which pulls me back from my thoughts. It’s the Shield Alert that thrusts me back into the hardships of real life. What the hell is this? We’re in Highsec. Who could be so dumb to attack an Occator?
The voice in my head shouts out: ‘It’s a gank! It’s a damn gank!’
There is no adrenaline, just the strong exhale flooding from the body and infusing the internal ship systems. The crew is on high alert and heating the modules as requested. The hits are hammering into our armour. With every cycle of the Reactive Hardener, the ship’s tanking systems are getting stronger.
From here on, it’s in the hands of the crew and the ship.
Everything now is determined by the events of the next nineteen seconds. I’ve never felt seconds so long in my life. In my head, I call them Mississipis. And damn, that’s a lot of Mississipis.
Our armour is jumping up and down like a bouncy castle at a metal festival. The overview shows a bunch of catalysts.
The voices in my head speak to me once more, reminding me to return my focus to the heat damage.
Another Mississippi slips through my head. I’m losing count already.
Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi.
I believe I can summon CONCORD.
As fast as it began, it ends. CONCORD just kicked their *sses, and my Occator continues to align to the Lowsec gate. I happily change it to the nearest station. The small red bar showing the tank strength of my hull shows that they did have a small chance of breaking me.
Surrounding me are wrecks and more CONCORD ships which prevent my attempts to use my favourite MWD cloaking trick.
This was a very difficult bounty to award, and if you’ve still got an appetite for original EVE fan fiction, there’s (literally) more where these came from; you can check out all the other entries on the original bounty thread. Here are a few extracts from other stories we loved.
“‘Yes, master.’ She bowed lightly and darted forward, eyes low, to pick up the gold-lined dark grey box sitting on the table in front of them. She felt the eyes on the box from the two people either side of her. They weren’t Amarrians, they were different. She could see it with the corner of her eye, but she could perceive it more than anything.” @miyoshiakachi - full story
“The anomaly ahead pulsed with an enchanting, ethereal glow. Its tendrils of energy reached out like the gentle caress of a ghostly hand, inviting them to explore its enigmatic depths. Rumours of a forgotten legend had lured them here — a gateway said to conceal ancient, untapped power.” @AlexGra - full story
“It is hard to believe that the great commercial city of Jita, protected by overwhelming wealth and assets, will fall. What is flying around is not the bullets and missiles of space’s battlefields but wads of money in economic competition.” @kait39 - full story
“The news of her discovery spread like wildfire across the criminal underworld. Pirate crews from every faction began to rally to Kaela’s cause, drawn by the promise of unprecedented riches and a chance to defy CONCORD’s stranglehold. They saw her as a charismatic leader who could lead them to a new era of anarchy.” @MrUnluckie - full story: Shadows of Havoc: A Pirate’s Odyssey
Some text has been edited for grammar and brevity. You can find the submissions in full at the original bounty post.
Other images provided by authors.