Saturday, December 14, 2019

Edj of the Empire: Revenant's Omen by Timothy Burns - Book Tour + Giveaway

Empire of Ninety-Nine Stars book 2
Science Fiction/Adventure/Space Travel
Date Published: 11/21/2019
Publisher: Chandra Press

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The riveting second installment in the Edj series.

How do you stop an enemy that can see the future?

After the harrowing events of Herrig’s World, Edj is hot on the trail of D’Orneo. His pursuit leads him to Villalba, a world of tropical island paradises where over a hundred thousand luxurious resorts cater to every whim or flight of fancy. Fortunes are won and lost on Villalba twenty-nine hours a day in the casinos that never close. Gambling on anything for anything from cards to shark fights, dice to gladiators; if it can be wagered on, it can be found on Villalba.

Edj arrives to find that the once powerful economy of Villalba has ground to a halt. A new drug, Peek, grants users the ability to see the future. The casino industry is in tatters and the new governor is at wit’s end. Suspecting that D’Orneo is somehow involved, Edj plunges into an investigation. Going undercover as a member of the galaxy’s premier drug cartel, The Revenants, a group of beings who prolong their lives by harvesting body parts, Edj begins to unravel the truth.

What he uncovers has larger implications than anyone could imagine. With his cover blown, his guardian, Sam, neutralized, and his enemies able to see his every move before he makes them, can Edj find a way to stop Peek from becoming a weapon capable of bringing down the Empire?

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What I needed was a straight line right to the top. One way to gain almost instant access to the highest levels of Peek production came to me right away, but it was one that I was loathe to employ, for it would involve aligning myself - and thus the Crystal Throne - with some of the most reviled beings in the galaxy. I spent the rest of that evening trying to come up with any other way to break into the racket. I even considered taking a stealthed flyer and buzzing every island while Sam sniffed for a big stash, but eventually decided that would probably be a waste of time.
By morning I had come to the conclusion that, as much as I didn't want to, I was going to have to pose as a Revenant.
There are probably people on the far side of the galaxy who have never heard of our Ghouls. To them I say ignorance truly is bliss. The rest of us hold them both in morbid revulsion and mortal fear. This is because they are that quasi-religious cult that believes in gaining immortality through replacing worn-out or inferior body parts with ones taken from living people. Rumored to be spread throughout our own Perseus galactic arm, they're most active in and around the metals-rich Birmingham globular cluster that is home to my Empire and our nearest neighbors. Culture-grown organs are anathema to them, as are synthetics of any sort. They hold that a person's life force only grows in natural bodies, and by transplanting organs and body parts they can harvest that mysterious energy and make use of it themselves.
This would be bad enough even if it were all there was to them, but in reality they are much worse, for they claim that this vitae weakens over time, so they are always searching for new ‘donors’. And they are very lax in seeking consent from their suppliers, if you know what I mean.
Anyone who has any dealings with them - and there are a surprising number - can become indebted to them very easily. Merely telling one ‘thank you’ implies that you acknowledge their claim upon you, in their minds. Likewise, they're quick to latch onto any other minor social convention and twist it into presumed indebtedness. And once they consider someone in their debt, that person has only to wait until the time comes that their payment is due. On that day, only flesh will suffice.
So why, you may ask, do so many people choose to deal with them instead of doing the sensible thing and running away as fast and as far as possible? Well, not everyone in this galaxy is as sensible as that. Some are able to convince themselves that they can partake of the riches that associating with the Revenants can bring them without eventually falling prey to those same masters. For the Ghouls, you see, are the cluster’s acknowledged masters of the interstellar drug trade. They are the ones who can move vast quantities of illegal substances from star to star with impunity, for there are very few who would risk angering them by searching their ships.
Anywhere a Revenant goes he is treated with the utmost courtesy and respect, for again, no one wants to curry their disfavor. And woe upon anyone who tries to overpower one, because that is a sure way to volunteer to donate all of one's flesh to the Order of the Eternals. They are neither forgiving or easy to defeat. A lot of people swear there's something truly magical about them, for each individual is protected by a mystical, supposedly vitae-derived shield that, while undetectable by any sensor, protects them from any attack, whether physical or energy based. How this is accomplished is a secret closely guarded by them, of course.
It is by this that they are known, for a Revenant may have any physical appearance. Some are indistinguishable from ordinary humans, while others revel in the grotesqueness of their patchwork nature, but all project an aura of supreme confidence and invulnerability.
Of course, there are some few people in the galaxy who may think to impersonate one for some reason or another; perhaps to intimidate others or to gain the advantage in business dealings. These imposters, however, are few and far between, for two reasons. One is that true Revenants do not hesitate to demonstrate their immunity to weapons of any sort, and the other is that, if a fake lives long enough, the real Revenants will find him and claim his body parts for themselves.
So now you can hopefully understand why I tried to come up with any other way to reach the peak of the Peek pyramid without having to go through the Revenants. I, alone among the trillions of people in the galaxy, can successfully impersonate one without risk of either death or dismemberment, for they are aware of Sam's existence. Not only that, they know that they can do nothing to me without bringing the wrath of the Emperor himself down upon their whole Order.
To do so, however, I would have to offer the true Revenants a concession for not disowning me, and it is that which I was so hesitant to do. With my flesh denied to them, what else might they claim in payment?

About the Author

Mr. Burns is a factory worker who sidelines as a carpenter, computer technician and jack of many trades handyman whose primary interest is hard science-fiction. He has read and loved that genre all his life and has always dreamed of writing books that others would enjoy reading as much as he himself enjoyed those of the great S/F masters. He is very interested in high technology and tries to impart accuracy and plausibility into his work. Other reading and writing interests include fantasy, magic, the paranormal, the Norse runes and nature-centered religions. He lives in northern Mississippi.

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