Lion and the Fire
|Title:||Lion and the Fire|
|Cover Artist:||Don Semora|
|Series:||Land of the Lions|
|Publication Date:||May 2013|
|Preceded By:||Lion on the Water|
Lion and the Fire is the fourth and final book in the Land of the Lions novel series and explores the lives of the Burgon Lions in the aftermath of book 3, as well as the final days of the planet of Braisail, and life as it has been for the indomitable lions.
The story begins with Breakman, having recently returned from the past, working in his laboratory on the scout spider that his brother Ibara had recovered from a recently discovered crypt under the ancient city of Parlahbradel. He's after the location information on an Ahbranai starship that Psial was supposed to leave him. But, try as he might, the scout spider is so far gone that nothing is retrievable from it anymore, no matter what he tries. Meanwhile elsewhere, Segarg, after the crushing defeat of the Margog, is standing in the mountains north of the Yigzan nation and having second thoughts about his place and roll in things, and even his place as commander of Negago's army. He eventually decides to break with Negago and seek penance for what he's done, even if it doesn't change his ultimate fate. Regnig tells Negago about this, but he assumes that it's just one of Segarg's master strategies, and just lets it slide, expecting that it will render some kind of beneficial outcome. Back at the labs, Breakman checks with his brother Ibara to see if the crypt offers any clues of its own. However, it does not, much to Breakman's dismay.
Out in the prairie, while resting with his family, Tgegani sees a vision that terrifies him. This is a new thing for him as he's never experienced anything like this before, so he leaves to discuss this with the family leaders. Back at his lab, Breakman is surprised when his scout spiders present him with a gift of an Ahbranai data disk and the required holographic emitter which reveals that the data contained on the disk is the complete end to end plans for building a House Monty battle frigate; a ship very similar to what Breakman had asked Psial for. So, even though the dead scout spider rendered him nothing useful, he still got what he'd asked for. Over on the eastern shore of the Sattazin nation, sensing that something is not right, Sine, Ver-mach and Ick-pok gain passage aboard a Sattazin pirate hunter and strike out onto the sea in search of the Midazin. Back with the lions, Tgegani meets with Pen, Tiel and The Original Five and discusses his vision that he had with them. However, as they're discussing this, Segarg appears and states that he's come to offer them his assistance. However, the lions don't trust him, for good reasons. Even so he insists that he's changed sides and wants to fight with them against Negago.
He then warns them about the rise and return of the Midazin. The lions agree to take his words under consideration. Back at the labs, Breakman begins experimenting with some of the new information trying to replicate the highly, highly advanced Ahbranai technology that he recently gained plans for. However, his first attempt ends in disaster, but thankfully nobody's hurt. Out on the ocean, Jisal, commander of the Ja'Gath, the ship hired by Sine and company, encounters their first batch of Midazi pirates and, after a brief but intense battle, destroys several of the attacking pirate submarines, and captures one of them. They soon discover clues that points to the possibility that the Yigzan have been infiltrated by their mortal enemy. In the meantime, Tgegani meets with his brother and reveals to him their meeting with Segarg. Breakman, in return, reveals that Segarg also contacted him as well, much to Tgegani's surprise. However, during the meeting, a terrorist attack happens nearby, at which point Tgegani and Breakman spring into action to quell the attack. The battle gets a bit dicey until three mysterious strangers arrive and save the day, only to disappear before their identities can be revealed. Afterwards, while looking for answers, it's discovered that the attackers are all Midazin.
In the meantime, Sine informs Breakman of what they've found, at which time he comes down to see for himself. They then discuss what's been found and what the Midazin might be planning next. Elsewhere Broma, a code and cipher expert, calls on his brother Ibara to help him decipher a message given to him by Tgegani. Mostly because Ibara understands ancient Yigzan culture, and Broma does not. However, while Ibara can translate the language, he doesn't understand the phraseology. So he refers him to Breakman who explains the Ahbranai meaning to Broma, helping him to understand the meaning of the original message. In another part of the world Meshua appears to Segarg, while he is sitting next to a brook thinking about his long history of evil deeds, and talks with the repentant demon, and then forgives him. But warns him that he still has a tough road ahead. Shortly after, Tgegani and team appear and agree to work with him in exchange for information, of which Segarg agrees. Using Segarg's info, Sine and his team is able to determine the next target of the Midazin. Working together they stop yet another terrorist attack, while wiping out those who were trying to slaughter Yigzan at a rock concert in Central City.
Seeking answers as to the growing list of mysteries surrounding recent events, Breakman heads up to the northern mountains to meet with Meshua. Once there the two talk and Meshua points him back to Tgegani's vision. Over on the western shore, Sine and team catch passage on a Yigzan submarine with the intention of hunting Midazin. They then head west in search of their prey, only to discover that the Midazin are secretly planning an invasion from within the Yigzan nation, and are bringing over supplies and equipment in preparation for this. So they have themselves included with the latest shipment to see where they are going. Back at the labs, Breakman and Ibara work together to unravel still more mysteries appearing around them, including some fabric strands that were recovered from a crime scene. Segarg and Tgegani continue to work together to stop the Midazin terrorist attacks, but fail as more people die. However, it cements Segarg's resolve to undo all the evil he did. Elsewhere, they discover the destination, a secret supply depot on the main continent, Sine and team attack and destroy it to prevent its use, then move on to seek out the others in the Midazin supply network.
Seeking to root out the Midazin spies, Breakman greatly upgrades Pen's nose, allowing him to literally sniff out the Midazin hiding in their midst. The two then head into the city and it's not long before they find a disguised Midazin. After this a firefight breaks out and things devolve very quickly. Hearing the call to arms, Tgegani and Segarg rush to their aid and find Breakman pinned down in a hail of fire as secret Midazin shock troops try to kill him. Segarg leaps into the battle and dispatches them before pulling Breakman to safety outside the city. He then returns to the fight to help the lions as the battle grows more intense. As the battle progresses, Regnig appears, and the two duel briefly. However, Segarg proves the better, more skilled fighter and forces Regnig to withdraw. Segarg then returns to the battle to save the city. Regnig then reports this to Negago who is enraged that Segarg betrayed them. Sine and team, while out destroying more Midazin depots, inadvertently trap themselves, and are later rescued by Meshua who tells them that they're needed on the sea again, after which the three droids rejoin the Yigzan navy in tracking and stalking the approaching Midazin invasion force.
The battle in the city continues as Segarg displays his incredible, overwhelming strength and power as he defeats one powerful enemy after another. The lions also help with the fight, doing what they can wherever they can to stop the attacking Midazin units. Eventually a team of Ahbranai fighters appears and joins with the lions as they seek to take back the city. Sine's team, in turn, tracks down the approaching invasion force and, through some creative tactics, succeeds in sinking all of the ships, stopping the invasion in its tracks, leaving just the advanced units on the main continent to deal with. Eventually the battle is won, and with the help of the Gorg and Sattazin, the last of the covert Midazin units are cleaned up and the country is finally secured, even though many lives have been lost and much damage has occurred because of it. With Segarg having proven himself, and shown that he has truly changed his heart, Meshua takes him to Tersar to begin his new, redeemed life. Breakman, in turn, meets the leader of the Ahbranai that helped them, only to discover that it's his old scout spider, but in a new body.
The spider, now called Naru, fills Breakman (who he calls "father") in on everything that's happened in the past 1300 years, including the outcome of the war, the death of Psial, and the current state of the universe, which is now at peace, and has been for some time. Ten years then passes and Breakman, over this span of years, has taken the Ahbranai technology and starship plans, technical drawings, and scientific information, and reverse engineered it, creating a new prototype shuttle that can carry people and cargo into space without the use of rockets. It's also revealed that, during this time, he and his spiders have been working to build the Ahbranai frigate that his spiders stole the plans for. However, while he's showing this off to his family, units of the last remaining pockets of Midazin terrorists steal Breakman's prototype shuttle, and use it to redirect an asteroid towards the planet with the intention of killing everyone on Braisail with it, even if it kills them in the process. Breakman brings this up to the government, but being business as usual, nothing comes of it.
Tgegani, not able to help his brother in this dilemma, merely sits in the prairie, a place he loves, and waits for Breakman to solve the issue. As he does, Naru pays him a visit, and the two talk. However, as they do, Tgegani expresses his weariness with this world and wishes to return to Tersar where he spent twenty years at the end of his battle with Garmec. Elsewhere, word leaks out about the astroid plummeting towards Braisail, causing widespread panic and chaos. Seeking to save the world again, Breakman has his design teams build another, better shuttle which they send up to redirect the asteroid away from the planet. However, people are still panicking as they fear the worst. But, when all hope seems lost, word arrives that Breakman is creating a ship for them to escape the planet. This, oddly enough, has the effect of calming the global panic. Breakman is mad about this info being leaked, but is pleased with its positive effects.
Out in the prairie, as Breakman is trying to keep the peace at home, Sine, Tgegani, and the two shapeshifters are sitting in the grass talking and Tgegani expresses his emotional fatigue with them as well, including his desire to go home to Tersar. However, as they're talking, strange herds of animals begin appearing, all headed south, and for no apparent reason that they can surmise. So they follow them to the shoreline where they all gather, and then mysteriously disappear after dark. There are other reports of this happening elsewhere, which are investigated, but no clues can be found, further deepening the mystery of what's really happening. Even people begin coming up missing with no explanation as to why they vanished, or where they went. Breakman, meanwhile, has begun an "Ark" project to rescue his people from the inevitable destruction of the planet. Because, even if the asteroid is redirected, and the planet saved, it will eventually crash into the suns, causing them to become unbalanced and destroy themselves, and the solar system, including Braisail.
Once the shuttle is ready, he sends it up and orders them to move the asteroid. However, they're attacked by the stolen shuttle, full of Midazin, and forced to retreat. However, one of Naru's android birds flies to the rescue and destroys the Midazin shuttle. They call the shuttle back, patch it up, and use it to successfully redirect the asteroid. Later on Naru appears to Breakman and explains that the missing people and animals were rescued per Meshua's orders as they are among those Meshua wants to save. The rest are destined to die. Breakman doesn't take this well. He swears he will save everyone he can (via the Ark project) even if it kills him. However, Meshua has other plans, and destroys the Arks that were being built to save the people of the planet. Breakman is furious with this, but Meshua takes him aside and explains why it needs to be this way. He also reveals that a majority of his family will die in the fall of Braisail as well. This break's Breakman's heart. But Meshua reveals that their time is over, and their work is done, so he's bringing them home as a reward, not a punishment, as is the case with many of the others who will die.
Down in Verok, Negago watches gleefully as souls are tortured before him. However, after his experiences with Segarg, and seeing the path of repentance he went down, Regnig begins to have second thoughts about his choice to follow Negago, and soon chooses to forsake Negago and the ways of evil and for he as well to seek the path of repentance just as Segarg did. Back on Braisail, news of the shipyard disaster has spread, leading to a whole new wave of riots, panic and civil disorder. Having enough of this, Breakman (with Meshua's help) gathers everyone at his laboratory where they make their way to the nearly finished Ahbranai frigate, which Breakman names the Persia after his mother. They lift off and head south, passing over the huge flotillas of ships rescuing people from the main continent, and taking them south to the uninhabited southern continent where all of them are going. They soon discover that an advanced force of people has already setup home here and are preparing for something, but nobody really knows what. Only that they are to gather there and wait for further orders. Eventually the ships stop coming as the last of those to be rescued has been snatched from both the main continent, as well as the eastern one.
Knowing that the majority of his family are still back on the continent, and are not among those whom Meshua has chosen to save, his heart is broken and his sadness deepens. Several months later their two parent stars, having begun their dance of death months earlier, finally descend into their final moments before going nova as one rips apart and consumes the other, thus destabalized itself in the process. Yet no word comes yet on what the rescued people are to do. Then, when the days begin growing darker and things become desperate, Naru appears with his fleet and rescues those on the southern continent, carrying them away to the stars. But, before they go, Pen and the lions head out to find Tgegani. But when they arrive, they find him talking with Meshua, expression his grief and sadness, as well as his desire to return to Tersar. The lions try to talk him out of it, but he will have nothing of it. Soon Sine and his friends show up and ask, along with Yteca, if they can come along as well, which Tgegani agrees. However, when Pen and the others ask to join him, he refuses, saying they're still needed here. After a sad goodbye, the lions leave. Moments later Tgegani finds himself in Tersar, and is joyfully reunited with his family, friends he'd known and lost, and many others. Including, to his surprise, Segarg, who now goes by the name Rahaiel.
Back on Braisail, as time is running out, Breakman orders the Persia to take off and join the rest of the rescue fleet. But as they are, he realizes a few family members are missing. But when he decides to go back for them, Meshua tells him everything is fine, and they're with him. Breakman knows what this means and is sad, but understands. The Persia then joins the rescue fleet, after which they jump out of the system on their way to their new home.
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