Things are not going according to Kallen’s plans. After rescuing the symbiont hatching ground from the dead planet of Nigul, Kallen and his Royal Consort, Lando Garr, thought they would finally gain the answers to unlock the mystery of their symbionts, Bobik and Dobik. Instead, they are faced with more questions and not a single answer.
Plans for their coming nuptials and coronation are pushed to the side when two technomage families disappear. What should have been a simple search and rescue mission reveals a betrayal so deep it threatens not only Kallen’s kingdom, but their entire galaxy. With a technomage war looming, it is incumbent upon Kallen, Lando, and their symbionts to defend the people of Oryon and ensure the survival of their kind.
“Sentinel, I am ready to give you my final report.” The disembodied voice reverberated through the long, empty tunnels.
“Speak, Rani.” A deep, rumbling voice echoed within a cavern deep in the ground.
“The hatching ground is secure, and the remaining eggs have been delivered safely into the hands of the Oryon King, as had been predicted. Their soldiers and technicians are finishing their sweep on Nigul’s surface. I am now fully secured and ready to be transported to their starship. Your duties are fulfilled.”
“Tell me, Rani. How is my offspring? Did it survive?”
“Yes, Sentinel. Yours and all the eggs of the five are doing very well in the hatching ground and with their partners. We thank the Champion for his sacrifice.”
A deep sighing sound filled with grief and satisfaction resounded in the darkness. “Finally, my task is complete. At last, I can join Martin in the glowing lands. I feel him calling to me.”
A deep gong echoed in the distance. “Sentinel, they are taking me away now. I will miss you as I have missed Martin, Theo and Vebik. I will ensure the Champions’ sacrifices will never be forgotten. Once the Lore Keeper joins its partner, it will sing the Hobik songs to all of the surviving offspring and their symbionts.”
“Thank you, Rani, for keeping me company. I know Martin gave the orders, but you went over and beyond and became a dear friend in my final hours. Take care of our offspring. I know mine will serve his chosen and Oryon well.”
“Sentinel…Lovik, it is I who has been honored by your company. This I swear to you—until the end of my days, as I once promised my first Lord, Tarrragon and his Symbiont Onik—I will stand guard and protect the Hobiks. Once I have transferred all of my data to my successor, then I, too, will have reached my final hour and have fulfilled my duty.”
“Tell me, Rani. Have you found your successor? Is it up to the task at hand?”
“Yes, I have, Sentinel. I connected with it briefly and have deemed it a beautiful mind.”
The Sentinel released another deep sigh, but it sounded weak. Rani’s monitors sensed something shifting in the air, and it zoomed in on Lovik. The red dragon had risen on its forelegs and tilted its head to the ceiling above.
“I give you leave, Rani. Go and protect my offspring and their partners. As the last Sentinel of Nigul, my task is complete and my time is at hand. Soon my offspring will rise and take up the role of Guardian. I find myself anxious to join Martin once more. He’s calling me. I bid you goodbye, my friend.”
“May you find joy in the glowing lands, Lovik. Give my respect to our people for me.”
“I will. Farewell, my friend.”
Up in the Oryon starship hovering over Nigul, Rani continued to monitor the cavern created by the Sentinel after the asteroid had slammed on Nigul. The Sentinel had used up most of his magic in order to guarantee the protection of the last of the Hobik eggs. Although technically a machine, Rani had been around for thousands of years and had developed an appreciation for the symbiont dragons and their partners. First brought into being by Tarragon the Great with help from Onik The Black, Rani knew its own purpose was nearing its end. It couldn’t wait to meet the other being it had detected when the Lord and his King had come. With its controller, it was a worthy candidate and would take to its new tasks with an open mind and unquestionable loyalty to the house. Rani would know, in a roundabout way, as it had taken part in its construction. After all, the modern IABs were its descendant products.
Rani’s cameras detected another shift inside the cavern and closed in on the source. On a stone platform in the center of the room lay what once had been a magnificent and powerful red dragon, pale from age and stress. If Rani had a heart, it would grieve for the loss of the Sentinel. As it monitored Lovik’s breathing slowing down, Lovik’s immense body began to glow. A piercing ray of white light broke through his scales, gradually spreading until it encompassed the whole. A final soft sigh, and the dragon stilled. Rani continued its vigil.
When at long last it could no longer detect any life signs, Rani sounded the death gong. It would be the last to be rung on the planet. As the final echoes quieted, Rani dimmed the remaining monitors until it could no longer detect any light or movement. It made one final sweep over what was left of the planet’s surface before it turned off all the still-functioning machines that had managed to remain active and undetected by the Oryon team. Done with its task, it turned its attention to the starship computers and in increments began to download all the necessary data it would need for its predetermined task on Oryon.