Lion of the Earth
|Title:||Lion of the Earth|
|Cover Artist:||Don Semora|
|Series:||Land of the Lions|
|Publication Date:||August 2012|
|Preceded By:||Lion in the Wind|
|Followed By:||Lion on the Water|
Lion of the Earth is the second book in the Land of the Lions novel series and sees the character of Tgegani and his family sent to the eastern continent in search of answers. However, while there they will come face to face with four children, a mystery and an evil unlike anything they've ever encountered before.
The story begins in a graveyard as Tgegani mourns over the loss of his parents, as well as many, many old friends, including some who passed away during the 20 years he and his siblings were offline. During this time of memories, he begins to realize how little he really knows about his parents, and gains a strong desire to know as much as he can. So he tracks down one of his father's close work associates, Rose Sehgtra, now an elderly woman, and is welcomed into her home with joy. Tgegani then questions her and learns many surprising things about both his father, Edias Burgon, and his mother Persia. While this is happening, it's discovered that Pen, fearing for Tgegani's safety, even though he's not at risk or in danger, is constantly shadowing him, ensuring that he doesn't ever become such.
Meanwhile, Breakman, who was instrumental in reviving the lions and giving them brand new bodies, using his father's research and design plans, is busy elsewhere dealing with government bureaucracy, malevolent grant officers, family drama in the form of emergencies, injuries and regular maintenance, as well as many other things. Working alongside his long time lab partner, Dr. Jarg, ensuring the well being of his extended, and rather large family, is a full time job. After learning all he can, Tgegani comes to visit Breakman, but more specifically to speak with Dr. Jarg about Dr. Slao, because, in his research, Tgegani discovers that all of Slao's records are sealed, and not even he has the clearance to view them. Jarg explains that this is due to a top secret project to create a shape shifting super material went south, causing the death of several of the researchers, after which the government classified the project and sealed away all of its records from public view to keep it a secret. Deciding he still wanted to know more, Tgegani leaves and heads over to Slao's old, and now abandoned home.
However, before he can enter, he's greeted by Meshua, who invites him to sit down with him for a talk. After a brief discussion, Meshua sends him to the east to the town of Able North where he will find the next piece of the puzzle he's seeking to solve. While he's doing that, Breakman takes one of his experimental robots out for a test drive. While there he encounters a Garac rampaging through a farm, who had just recently killed a farmer in cold blood. Breakman then strategically, with the help of his robot, engages the Garac. However, despite his best efforts, he is unable to defeat the Garac, and is nearly destroyed himself when he is rescued by Sinc and Neomara, two of his Burgon siblings. They then report this incident to the authorities. Over in Able North, Tgegani enters town to find it seemingly abandoned. In reality, everyone is gathered in one of the buildings watching an early season game of Gobat on a small TV. Tgegani comes in and sits down briefly to watch, as Gobat is one of his favorite sports, but soon rushes outside when he hears a blood curdling scream. Upon arriving he finds one of the villagers have been murdered by a Garac that is perched defiantly on the roof.
Soon two more join him and Tgegani has to use all of his wits and skill to outsmart them. But the battle of three on one proves to be too much for him, and he is unable to gain the advantage. That is, until Pen, Tiel show up and help him exterminate the three Garacs. Fearing that this might cause a panic, Tgegani tells him to keep this quiet. Just then he's pulled away in the spirit to meet with Meshua who tells him to go east. Tgegani then sends Pen to warn the others, and in turn Pen sends The Original Five with him as both his companions, and his body guards. Back at the lab, Jarg is shown the ashes that Breakman collected, and is shocked to see that they're nearly identical to those of the creature that Slao originally created. He warns Breakman to be careful because, if the government finds out, there'll be Verok to pay. Later on, while doing more research on the ash sample, Jarg discovers that this actually isn't the work of Slao, and that it must have been made by someone else, which further complicates the situation and makes things all the more dangerous.
To the west, Meshua intercepts Pen, who was about to gather his entire family, and advises him to only take a small band with him, and leave the rest behind. At first Pen protests, worried for Tgegani's safety. But eventually he complies. Meanwhile, Tgegani and team are racing through Gorg territory at top speed, and in doing so catch the attention of the local authorities. Eventually Taybar, grandson of O'ik, gets them to stop and explain themselves, then offers them a ride by plane to speed things up. Meshua encourages Tgegani to agree, which he does. Pen in turn, while gathering up his small army of lions, also recruits Breakman at Meshua's request. In the midst of all this, the Sattazin learn of the lions and one of them, Commander Ter'ik, takes a special interest in them, gathering up his old friend No'van and his mountain regiment, and heading east in pursuit of the lions. Elsewhere, as Tgegani's flight is making their way east, they're attacked by flocks of Garac, but are saved by a pair of Sattazin fighters that engage the Garac, allowing Tgegani's flight to escape. They are then advised to put down in Astrad as things beyond that are too dangerous for them to continue flying. So they follow the advise given to them and proceed on foot again from there.
On the same note, Breakman is able to arrange a charger flight for himself, Pen and the other lions to take them east in search of Tgegani. And, while Pen is happy to be able to catch up to Tgegani faster, his fear of flying is made quite clear to Breakman who chides him on it. Once at their destination, they disembark the plane and then set out on foot as Breakman hauls out his VTOL scout craft he brought with them. As they're preparing to leave, Jarg contacts Breakman and warns him that the NLEA is aware of what he's doing and has sent people after him. He also mentions that the entire Yigzan First Naval Fleet is being mobilized, but doesn't give any reasons why. This worries Breakman. Meanwhile, Tgegani and the original five reach a Sattazin seaside port and succeed in acquiring passage above a ship owned by Zorig, who takes them across the sea to the eastern continent. Back on the main continent, Breakman and Pen are constantly running into Garac along the way as they are attacked regularly, and the attacks get worse as they go east. Ter'ik and his team though do not have this problem, and they make good time going east. Eventually they arrive in Mar'ik'tan and soon locate Zorig, who has just recently returned. Ter'ik barters with him for passage across the sea to the Eastern Continent, and is granted passage.
As they make their way across the sea, the ship is attacked by a large flock of Garac, which Ter'ik and his warriors defeat, in a very pitched battle. Elsewhere Tgegani and team make their way across the uninhabited Eastern Continent as Pen and team also hire a ship across the sea and land on the Eastern Continent not far behind Ter'ik's men. A Garac soon spots Tgegani's team and reports this to its master, the Margog, who then summons Segarg to investigate this report. As Ter'ik and Pen's teams each pursue Tgegani, he and his team soon stumble onto a village filled with living machines much like himself, only more advanced. The lions soon learn that they are unique machines capable of aging, growth, and many other human like traits, and treat their creator, Dr. Slao, like a God, which bothers the lions. They also learn that the city contains the children of Slao, which is blurted out by a young boy, much to the dismay of the elders. This, however, draws out the horde forces hiding nearby. They descend into the city and are forced to fight the lions, who take a beating, but are able to hold them off, decimating their numbers with surprising efficiency. Having won the battle, the city celebrates by cleaning the lions and then offering them a feast, even though they don't eat.
Seeing the defeat of his minions, and knowing that the children, whom he seeks, are both found, and within easy reach, the Margog decides that, instead of attacking again and risking harm to the children, he will wait and merely observes what the lions do from a distance. However, Negago, who made his existence possible, threatens him if he doesn't complete the mission he was created for. The Margog insists he will, after which Negago leaves. The Margog then shows Tgegani and the others to a creature called Ver-mach, his chief scientist, who is intrigued by them, but knows nothing about the new arrivals. He then goes and informs his partner, Ick-pok, at which time he reveals that he's actually loyal to Slao, and NOT the Margog, and is an inside agent. Back on the main continent, with the government and the NLEA hot on his heals, Jarg sneaks out of his house and drives over to an airport where Breakman meets him. He has a friend with a large VTOL aircraft who then helps out Breakman by flying Jarg over to the Eastern Continent where he will be safe, and can continue his research in an effort to try and unravel the mystery of these new creatures.
Elsewhere, Pen and Tiel are moving ever forward, as is Ter'ik and his men, as they try to catch up to Tgegani. But, while Ter'ik and his men are patient, Pen is not, and this causes no small degree of strife in their team. Especially between him and Breakman, as well as Tiel. Eventually they stumble across the town where Tgegani's team found the four children. However, it's been sacked and it's residents are dead. Even so, Pen quickly realizes what the citizens of the city are, and calls in his brother who is amazed at what he sees. They also learn some important details about Tgegani, what he's doing, and where he's gone. Tgegani and team, still carrying the children, stumble onto Dr. Slao in the mountains, at which time he invites them into his hidden laboratory where he reveals to the lions who he really is, and also that his children aren't real flesh and blood children, but instead are an even more advanced version of the same robots that were in the town where the lions found them. Then, while talking he reveals the true origins of the Garacs, the horde, and how his pride and arrogance led to their creation, and how truly dangerous they are.
In another part of the continent, working behind the scenes to frustrate the Margog's work, Ver-mach makes his way to one of the horde's research facilities and inspects its work. Upon finding out that they're very close to solving the mystery of their creation, and potentially giving full shape shifting ability to the entire horde, rather than just the Margog, he sabotages it, blowing up the facility and setting back their work considerably. Back at Slao's lab, after learning of its location, the Margog arrives with a massive assault force and lays siege to it, with Segarg and Regnig leading the charge. Eventually the lab falls, forcing Slao and the lions to flee. While Slao heads west to warn the Yigzan, Tgegani takes his team, and the four children, east in hopes of finding the guardians, who will help protect the children. As Slao flies west, his aircraft breaks down and begins to crash. However, Ver-mach and Ick-pok, along with Breakman, catch up to him and save him from the crashing plane. Breakman then agrees to take Slao under his protection while Ver-mach and Ick-pok return to their duties with the horde.
The Margog in turn soon learns that both Slao, and the children, have escaped. He grows furious and is confronted by Negago, who threatens his life if he doesn't start getting results. The Margog explains that, without the children, he'll never come into his full power, and Negago's plans and work will be for nothing. So Negago agrees to let the Margog continue, but does so begrudgingly. Over in the mountains, Tgegani's team continues to evade the horde, but eventually is forced to split up, with the girls going one way, and the boys another. They then do good for a while keeping the children safe. But eventually fate turns against them and all of the children are captured, and the lions taken offline. When Tgegani wakes up, he's introduced to Sine and Rom, leaders of the guardians. They then explain that they're aware of what has happened and begin to lay out a plan on how to rescue the children, and stop the Margog once and for all. It's at this time that Tgegani first learns of the two groups that have been shadowing them so far. So Rom takes Tgegani and team to meet with them, of which Pen is ecstatic, now knowing that his brother is finally safe. Tgegani then lays out the situation to the others and, with the help of Rom, formulates a plan of attack.
Despite knowing that the lions and the guardians are plotting against him, he goes ahead anyways with plans to use the four children to draw out his full power and make himself invincible. Or so he believes. To ensure that his plans aren't foiled, he calls in nearly every horde creature on the content to protect the bowl shaped valley where the ceremony will occur. Once everyone is assembled in the valley, Rom executes his plan, sending Pen's team forward to draw out some of the horde and create an opening for him and his men. The plan works and part of the horde break off to attack Pen's team. He and his men then rush in and insert themselves into the center of the valley while Ver-mach withdraws the platform on which he and the children are standing under the ground where they will be safe. The lions and the guardians then engage the horde in an effort to destroy the Margog, but are soon overpowered, and driven back. However, just when things look impossible, Ter'ik's forces appear over the rim and dive into the fray, giving home to Tgegani and the Guardians as they once again press the attack against the horde.
However, the Margog's men, Segarg and Regnig, prove to be formidable foes, and give the lions, the guardians and the Sattazins a very difficult time. Eventually though, some of them break through and are able to outflank the horde commanders and directly engage the Margog. Even so, things don't go well, and the Margog proves just how formidable of a warrior he is. Outside, Pen's forces are still battling the horde, but are slowly losing the fight. However, when all seems lost, a Yigzan expeditionary force, led by Pentell and Marshall General Preden appear across the grasslands and rescue Pen's lions from the horde as fighters from Admiral Brodren's first fleet attack them from the air. Inside the bowl shaped valley, this brief distraction gives the struggling fighters a brief window of opportunity in which they begin to wound the Margog to the point that he becomes little more than a pain wracked, writhing mess. It is then Rom who strikes the killing blow. However, this causes the Margog to explode, killing Rom in the process and causing every last horde creature on the planet to self destruct, just as they were designed to do.
Confident of their victory, the lions, guardians and Sattazins begin to take tally of their casualties, only to discover in dismay that Segarg and Regnig are still alive, against all odds. Not long after, Negago appears and reveals that they were never horde in the first place, but were placed there by him to watch over and keep tabs on the Margog. However, now that the three groups of heroes had defeated him, all of Negago's plans are ruined, and as such he will kill each of them in revenge. However, before he can, Meshua appears and stops him, forcing Negago and his two servants to retreat. Meshua then goes about the valley healing all the wounded, but he passes over those who are dead, including Rom, and does not either heal, nor resurrect them, despite the pleadings of Sine. Meshua then tells Tgegani to return to the others. Then, in a final gesture of honor, seeing Sine's crushing grief, Ter'ik offers to help Sine carry out their dead in honor right beside his own.
Several days later, on the flagship of the first fleet, the aircraft carrier YFS Arch Lightning, Slao is brought before the General Secretary and tried for his crimes, of which he pleads guilty. However, when the sentence is pronounced, Ter'ik, who is one of the individuals in attendance, protests its harshness. When asked why, Ter'ik recites a parable from his culture where a warrior of ancient times, who committed murder out of jealousy, despite being deserving of death, is given the duty of tending the king's garden, of which he does the most amazing job of anyone in history. He then suggests a similar sentence for Slao, as he's more valuable to everyone alive than dead, especially given his vast knowledge of the Eastern Continent. Others in attendance, all agree that it is a fitting punishment, and in the best interests of everyone. So the General Secretary agrees to this punishment for Slao, which he also accepts.
After this life returns to normal again, as Breakman begins to study Slao's incredibly advanced android technology while Tgegani assigns Pen to a new task on the recently opened Eastern Continent, both for Pen's sanity, and his own, and to give Pen something else to do than hovering over him like a worried parent all the time. And, as all of this is unfolding around the world, Meshua, who is standing nearby watching all of this, reveals to one of his servants that the work of the lions isn't done yet, as he still has much ahead for them to do.
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