Lion in the Wind

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Lion in the wind.jpg
Title: Lion in the Wind
Cover Artist: Don Semora
Genre: Scifi/Fantasy
Series: Land of the Lions
Publication Date: August 2012
Media Types: Ebook
ISBN: 978-1476429960 (ebook)
Followed By: Lion of the Earth

Lion in the Wind is the first book in the Land of the Lions novel series and introduces the character of Tgegani and his family of sentient, cybernetic lions who play a key and pivotal roll in the history of their world, and the survival of their people amidst a war of good and evil of incredible proportions.

Summary

The book begins with a scientist named Edias Burgon, a student at a regional science and technology college with an incredible aptitude for robotics and cybernetics, who is sought by Ferrel Black, the owner of Cybergenics Incorporated, a powerful and highly successful robotics company located and doing business primarily within the prairie nation of Yigzan. At first Black tries to bribe Burgon with an easy doctorate degree in exchange for his agreement to work for Black. But, being a moral and principled man, he refuses, instead choosing to complete his doctorate the proper way. Later on, after graduating with high honors, and the highest in the college even, he instead chooses to work for the college's own commercial cybernetics lab under the watchful eye and expert leadership of Dr. Visnel. Even so, Black keeps a close eye on him. Ten years pass and Burgon is still working at his same job at the college. It is during this time that, through a fellow coworker, a biologist by the name of Rose Sehgtra, that he is introduced to a lovable and unique little tigress he later names Persia. He is at first surprised when she talks, but it's soon revealed to him that she's part of a now completed genetic modification experiment, which is what has given her both speech, and full sentience. He happily accepts her into his life as something equivalent to a daughter of sorts.

Not long after this, Burgon, who'd been working on a proposal for a life long project of his, the giving of full sentience to a cybernetic lifeform, goes before the college's appropriations board, but is shot down hard as his project is flat out rejected by the board with no option for appeal. The next day, when he enters is office, he finds a letter on his desk with a business card in it from Ferrel Black, and a small note that reads, "In case you lost your other one." Burgon is surprised that Black would still be interested in him and his project and he contacts Cybergentics Inc and is invited to meet in person with Black who reveals that he's still interested in having Burgon work for him, and especially in his robotic sentience project. So Burgon quits his job at the college and goes to work for Black. Elsewhere, Captain Delgra, and his NCO Sergeant Odevion, both of whom are seasoned military recon solders, are deep in Gorg territory getting intel on recent Gorg military movements and come across some disturbing details about a possible planned future invasion of the Yigzan nation. He takes this back to his commanders. However, they take issue with this and, instead of acting on this intelligence, they instead reassign him and Odevion to jobs elsewhere where they can't rock the boat.

Meanwhile, Black, who was partially responsible for the Gorg's increasingly militaristic stance, calls the Gorg general whom he put in place for just this exact purpose and tells him to halt what he's doing as he's moving too soon. However, the general reveals that, while he appreciates Black putting him in power, he's now betraying him in favor of better opportunities. Angry at this, he calls in a hit against the general to delay the planned Gorg invasion by getting rid of the traitorous general, while at the same time creating plans to strengthen the Yigzan military to withstand the inevitable Gorg invasion when it does come. His plans for the Gorg are to create an incident that encourages the Yigzan to fund his research into sentient, cybernetic fighting machines that he plans to use to later on exterminate both the Gorg, and the Sattazin, and enslave the Yigzan people under his tyrannical thumb. But, to do that, he needs time to develop a weapons system that can make that possible, and with the Gorg attempting to move so early, well ahead of schedule, he's ill prepared. So he needs to find ways to buy him some time.

Back in his laboratory, Burgon is busy building the prototype body for Tegani while the young Persia sits on the floor nearby doing her classroom studies as she learns to read and write Yigzan, despite being a snow tiger. She does this on Burgon's insistence, and even surprises him with how well she does at it. She then begins asking her "dad" about his project, to which she explains what he's doing, and that he's even picked a name for the robot. Namely, "Tgegani", which means ‘One with great courage and honor' in ancient Yigzan. While he's explaining this, Dr. Slao, one of his assistants enters and mentions some problems they're having producing some of his parts, especially Dr. Trask, because Burgon's designs are so advanced that even their minds are blown. So he grabs his empty cup of katar and follows Slao over to help them overcome the problems they're having. Meanwhile, Delgra, upon learning of his promotion and subsequent reassignment, meets Odevion while heading to meet up with the general who had him reassigned to give him a piece of his mind. However, Odevion talks him out of it, hinting that this could be to their advantage. So Delgra reluctantly goes along with the reassignment. He then goes back to his barracks, packs his things, and then grabs a train to Echo Military Labs where he's been reassigned to. However, as he's minding his own business on the train, he is cornered on the train by Ferrel Black and his men, and is presented with a proposal that he finds interesting, and thus follows Black to a private location to discuss it.

Later on, after arriving at his destination, a small civilian village outside of the laboratory where all the scientists live, he's greeted by Dr. Olivan, head of the laboratory who drives him over to the main laboratory where he is very disappointed at what he sees, including the lackluster security and poor condition of the facility. After meeting his secretary, as well as his new first officer, Captain Silvers, he settles down in his new office and writes a quick letter to Black to notify him that he's arrived and will immediately begin the plan the two of them discussed. The story then jumps forward two years to find Burgon having completed Tgegani's body, but is struggling with the robot's sentience software, and is unable to create a properly working AI sentience, no matter how much he works on it. Growing too tired to continue working, he goes into his office and lays down on the couch for a nap. While he's sleeping, a divine being named Meshua appears and grants Tgegani a soul, and full sentience, despite Burgon's work still being far from complete, and then charges the newly sentient lion with protecting his people, the Yigzan. The next morning Persia awakens to find, much to her surprise, that Tgegani is alive and sentient.

She wakes up Burgon who's also surprised at this, as he was nowhere near this far on his work. Even Black is surprised at this, and yet pleased, as the prospects of them winning a war against the Gorg in their present state looks less and less likely by the day. But Black isn't the only other one who takes note of Tgegani's awakening. Negago, the arch rival and bitter enemy of Meshua appears in the prairies of the Yigzan nation for the first time in many, many years, and meets with a pack of vandros, who receive orders from him to find and destroy Tgegani. Back at the lab, Burgon and Slao discuss Tgegani's new found sentience, and quietly observe from a distance as the newly sentient lion begins to learn and explore his world with the help of Persia. Later on, Black meets with a Yigzan senator and bribes him, both with money, and the threat of the coming war, into taking his proposal before the General Secretary. The senator is suspicious at first, but eventually agrees. Back at his labs, Burgon is outside in the grass with both Persia and Tgegani, who has just been fitted with his first artificial skin, and is continuing to explore his environment and learn all he can. However, while this is happening, a pack of vandros attack him out of the shadows. Meshua warns him, at which point he tells Burgon and Persia to run, of which the latter is reluctant to do, for their safety.

He then faces the attacking Vandros and decimates them one by one, eventually drawing the attention of lab security who helps him in that effort. After the battle is over, Tgegani goes inside with Burgon, who helps wash him up, at which time Tgegani reveals to both Persia and Burgon that he considers them his unofficial parents, and has made this decision through an act of pure logic. However, the two of them gladly accept their new titles. The next day, Senator Joslin (the one Black had bribed) brings black's proposal before the General Secretary, who is shocked at what he reads, and grows irate, calling in his secretary of defense and generals to have them explain why he'd never been told about this before. Meanwhile, back at the labs, Meshua appears to Tgegani and explains to him his purpose for being there, and why he was given life. And, while the lion doesn't understand all of it, he willingly accepts his mission. After this, Tgegani studies war, death and other subjects, even discussing some of it with Persia, as he prepares for what's coming next. Over at Echo Military Labs, Delgra receives a surprise inspect by the General Secretary.

Delgra reports this to Black who reveals that the revelation was intentional, as time was getting short. Black also, via the General Secretary, delivers a folder to Delgra with information he'll need, including data about Tgegani, Black's preferred weapons project. As a result, Burgon, Persia and Tgegani are conscripted by Delgra and ordered to report to Echo Military Labs where he can oversee the further development and eventual mass production of Tgegani and other robotic lions like him. Major Delgra drives out to meet Tgegani, who arrives on Ferrel Black's personal train, and gives them a ride back to the labs through the now greatly expanded city outside of the laboratory. The little dusty desert town has now become a thriving miniplex easily three times its former size, if not more. At the lab they meet Visnel, who has also been conscripted to work with them, and they quickly catch up as they walk inside to see his new lab. Elsewhere it's revealed that the Midazin, the ages old mortal enemy of the Yigzan, are the true puppet masters of the Gorg, and intend to use them to exterminate the Yigzan.

Over the next year much work is done, and Tgegani is introduced to a specially formed military unit, led by Staff Sergeant Welk that will oversee and train with him. Negago then tricks Delgra into sending Tgegani and his new unit to the front lines in hopes that he will be destroyed as soon as the Gorg invade. As expected, the fighting goes poorly and the Yigzan lines collapse very quickly, forcing them to fall back. Over the next few weeks Tgegani and his unit are transferred up and down the line where they're most needed as the war continues to go in favor of the Gorg, although not as well as it did the first day. During one of the battles, an attempt to break an attack by the Gorg on a Yigzan stronghold, Tgegani's team is joined by another unit, led by Lieutenant Pentell. The attack doesn't go quite to plan, but it does succeed in breaking the Gorg momentum, eventually forcing them to fall back. However, Tgegani is severely damaged during the battle and has to return to Echo Military Labs for repairs. Upon arriving, they stumble onto an attempted takeover of the labs by Gorg special forces. Tgegani, Welk and the others manage to stop this and free everyone trapped inside. After this Tgegani gets a new body (the old one is too damaged to salvage), and is introduced to five other lions who are built around a more advanced prototype body than Tgegani's. It's one of their new bodies that Tgegani receives as replacement for his current one.

As the war continues, Welk's old unit is restructured, with the addition of Pentell as their leader, and numerous more soldiers creating a full sized platoon rather than just one squad. The newly upgraded unit is then redeployed to the frontlines while the staff of Echo Military Labs is relocated to Black's fortified labs in the northwest corner of Yigzan territory near the Northern Mountains for their protection. Over the next several weeks the Yigzan continue to be pushed further and further back until they reach the Central Ridge Line where they are finally able to dig in and stop the Gorg advance. It's along this new front line that the Yigzan are able to finally stop the advance of the Gorg and hold them in a stalemate of sorts for several weeks. Back at Black's Lab, Burgon gives a specially made robot, which she names Breakman, to her as a companion in Tgegani's absence. However, Meshua has other plans for him and gives him a soul and intelligence too, which he quickly puts to work to both protect his new family, and derail the plans of those who seek their destruction. Black then begins production on an order for six hundred and fifty more of the lions, which goes quickly. However, loading them with an OS will slow things down. It's at this time that Meshua appears again and grants each of them a soul and life as well, just like the others, including Tgegani's five new siblings. Persia then names their two leader, Pen and Tiel, and helps them escape the facility in order to meet up with their brother, Tgegani, and help him in the war.

And this is none too soon as the Gorg attempt a surprise attack along Tgegani's sector of the front, and nearly overrun the Yigzan positions. But in a miraculous bit of timing, Pen and the other lions arrive to break up the attack, which causes the Gorg to fall back as their lines collapse in sheer terror at the new wave of lions. With the war finally going in their favor, Odevion works elsewhere with a team of friendly Gorg and Sattazin to attack and hinder the Gorg from behind enemy lines, and eventually draw the Sattazin into the war, bringing it to a quick and decisive ending shortly after. In the post war reconstruction and cleanup period, Black restarts his plans to enslave the entire world, but most especially the Yigzan, with a powerful robotic army. However, while he expects Tgegani to side with him, he hedges his bets by having a different scientist who begins building him another robotic weapons system that will replace him if all else fails. However, when Breakman realizes Black's plans, he tricks his parents into leaving the lab, after which he sneaks them off to a secret hiding place for their protection. Meanwhile Black tries to turn Tgegani to his side. But Tgegani rejects his offer, instead informing Delgra of Black's plans, after which he sets up a counter strategy to stop him.

Realizing that Tgegani has chosen to stand against him, Black turns the nation against the lions, and uses Senator Joslin to apply pressure for the military to hunt them down and destroy them. A secret war then begins between Black and Delgra, with the lions working secretly to dismantle Black's network, expose his servants, and prepare for his takedown. However, as they do, the lions begin losing many of their own until only Tgegani, Pen and Yteca remain. Realizing they're running out of time, Delgra decides to attack Black's labs and capture him. However, things don't go according to plan and their attack stalls. Even so, the lions push deep into the labs and eventually find Black. However, at the same time they are introduced to Black's new robotic weapons system, named Garmec. Garmec then drags the lions into a fight for their lives as O'ik, Fer'gant, and Breakman chase down and eventually capture Black. This causes Black's men to surrender. However, the battle between the lions and Garmec continues. The lions discover that Garmec, despite being only a prototype, is incredibly strong and their only advantage against him is their skill, experience and intelligence as he's much stronger than they are. Slowly they are able to damage him enough that they start gaining the advantage. However, in the midst of this Yteca falls, followed by Pen, leaving just Tgegani to battle the now wounded robot.

Then, in one final act of desperation, Tgegani is able to defeat Garmec. However, in doing so he is mortally wounded and dies, the last of his family to die. Upon discovering this his friends are devastated. Not long after this, Black is tried and executed for treason, his robotics empire dismantled and all of his plans, as well as his servants, such as Senator Joslin, are brought to justice. It's during this time of recovery, when the nation is both celebrating Black's punishment, and simultaneously grieving the loss of the lions that O'ik reveals to breakman that Burgon had left behind with him a set of plans for an even more upgraded version of the body that Tgegani and the others had used. Originally, due to the loss of Burgon's records and blueprints detailing how he'd created the lion bodies, as well as Burgon himself during the assault on Black's lab, it was believed that there was no hope of the lions ever being resurrected again. However, the package that O'ik had been given by Burgon contained everything they needed to bring Tgegani and the others back to life, of which brings great joy to Breakman.

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