Fei Chok, lover of Finn has arrived on the planet Vasudha with Saskia Drakul, where they are captured by the human inhabitants of the Aayus canyon. They are about to be killed for body parts when Fei is saved by villager Seth, who has seen her tears. She is taken to the caves at the foot of the cliffs where Seth’s tribe lives, where she meets the Jananii, witch-queen of the canyon people. Within the cave network of the Aayus lives a strange society, evolved to survive the dangers of the canyon and the toxic Maru desert. The Jananii tests Fei by poisoning her with the blood of a giant scorpion. Fei is close to death when she sees the scorpion attacking children in one of the caves and gives up her life for them. It is a hallucination, but she passes the first test.
Saskia Drakul is tortured for information by her nephew Angelov. After, she is dropped into a scorpion pit where she is taken for food. As dusk approaches, Fei faces her third challenge and instinctively chooses the same burrow. She is the hook bearer but she has refused to wear the armour of the giant scorpion and after a long battle is stung, but does not die. The scorpion is captured and Fei is revered as Saskia is taken to the caves. The witch-queen sees Fei’s wound and tells her she is the new Jananii. As she dies, she reveals that she too has vampire blood.
At the back of Angelov Drakul’s mind is a constant fear of Finn Angmon, although Earth is over sixty light years away. Angelov selects the best of his fighters, Aruna and sends her on a mission to destroy Finn and bring back his mother. With Aruna’s help, Angelica is freed and regains her strength, massacring anyone in her way. Finn overcomes Aruna and makes her take him to where the portal is hidden and together they escape to Vasudha. Angelica joins her son in an uneasy truce. They force the vampire priests to grow a new pyramidal star ship, larger and more terrible than any other and designed to attack Earth.
Finn finds his way to the caves where the followers of the Jananii live, where he finds Saskia Drakul. She is no longer vampire asks his forgiveness before taking him to see Fei Chok and finally they are together. Finn teaches craftsmen from the villages and caves how to build kilns and make swords, then takes Fei into the desert and summons the giant scorpions to carry them to war. The army marches upon the pyramids with thousands of men and women armed with longbow and katana and at their front are the mighty scorpions. Riding on the largest is Finn, transformed into the Vorkha werewolf. After a titanic battle, Angelica must face Finn in the blue pyramid as it races Earthwards, arriving over London. She flees from him and he chases her through the labyrinth of the pyramid until she falls to Earth and Finn follows, but Angelov is killed by Saskia Drakul and the ship returns to Vasudha.
In London, Finn defeats Angelica but is too weak from his injuries to escape. Harry Penn has them both imprisoned and experimented on for many years. Finn remains trapped in the Vorkha body whilst Angelica’s living remains are used for a new form of genetics that will ultimately destroy human society…
Seth Bowmaker lay on the edge of a dune high above the surrounding desert, almost invisible in his sand-spun cloak. His lips moved as he prayed.
“Jananii, mother of Vasudha, creator of white magic, bless your children and keep them safe. Protect us from the tantuna that crushes, the living sand that devours and the obyri that steal our children in the night. Protect my Sorna and our baby, I beg you. Jananii, hear my prayer.”
The wind blew his words away, drowning them in the hiss of sand. He clutched his tantuna-sting knife and wished he could plunge it into Angelov Drakul’s black heart. The treasured weapon was deep red and curved like a tusk, the inside edge sharp enough to shear through bone. On the side was carved the image of the warrior-god Yamala riding upon his scorpion, a mighty bow raised to fire. The green paint representing Yamala’s wolf eyes had chipped off and Yamala was long gone, only existing in the imagination of the storytellers. If such a God had really existed, why would he allow his followers to be tortured and slaughtered? Why would he have allowed gentle, beautiful Sorna to be taken, and her unborn child? One of the planet’s two suns was already halfway over the horizon. Gura Tapana was a bloated red ball, impossibly big and its surface was mottled with sickness. Alpa Tapana was little more than a pinprick of the fiercest white and too bright to look at, following its cousin into darkness. Eeka, Yamala and Trih gradually appeared in the sky but this was no time for wonder or worshipping the three moons. Now was a time of horror and darkness, a time when life lost all meaning and death was welcome, and death was everywhere in the Maru.
Seth had known it since he was old enough to remember, and the one lesson dinned into his head over and over, was survival. Almost every lesson he had attended at school, which consisted of a ring of children seated in a cave, had been about hunting, hiding and killing. Hiding had been necessary when dealing with the giant desert tantuna that could drive its sting right through the body so it came out the back, or crush a man in half with one of its pincers. The mantis preferred to crush the skull in order to eat the brains, whereas the vampires that lived in the huge pyramid preferred children to any other prey. They stole the unwary and would eat them alive or worse still, keep them as slaves. As he grew older, Seth learned about legends and the gods of the three moons that looked over them. Yamala was the greatest of all and rode a legendary tantuna, but no longer looked upon his children because of some great wrong they had committed, and he had taken his protection away from them. Life was not all about hiding, hunting and killing. It was also about retribution, paying for the unknown sin so that their protector would return.
According to their witch-queen the Jananii, the unknown sin was being human, born with compassion and all else that made them different from their persecutors. Being human was the absence of vampire poison but why that was a sin remained beyond Seth. He was a lawbreaker and should the Jananii find out what he had done, he would surely be fed to the sands. When Sorna was captured, he knew it was punishment just as every death was deserved. It should have been him, but they took Sorna so he would suffer.
Seth shielded his eyes and scanned the horizon anxiously, looking for a miracle but the Jananii would do nothing to save the ones who had been taken. It was part of the unspoken deal in which the Aayus providing a supply of victims in return for survival. Several miles away a tornado weaved drunkenly, surrounded by a thick haze of brown as it sucked up tons of jiivaa-infected sand and spat them out. The distant roaring grew louder but Seth took no notice and the cone died abruptly, collapsing in a dark column. Veils of yellow washed towards him, raining sand. The pyramid floated above the silver heat haze and within were thousands of the hated grey creatures. People used to say the giant pyramid could travel to the moons and even beyond to the furthest worlds and now he could believe it. The thing looked like it had been made from solid water, reflecting the fast moving ceiling of cloud that streamed either side. People also said it was dying. Fragments of its strange crystal skin had broken away and the scars had been unable to heal. The other two pyramids were in a worse state and the top of one had been sheared away during the first Zilon war, but the pyramids were bound with a dark magic beyond the imagination of humankind. Every few seconds, bursts of light exploded from the peak of the giant pyramid, bleaching the sky. The thunder was a deep thud-thud, shaking the ground like a pile driver. Seth’s heart already ached with the pain of loss to come. The hand that gripped the knife was white to the knuckles. He knew what the lightning meant – the vampire goddess was hungry. He closed his eyes in prayer. “Let it be soon, Yamala”, he prayed. “Let it be quick. Let not the innocent baby suffer, hear my prayer.” In his heart he knew that Yamala was far away. Why should he care about Seth and his pitiful family?
As if in answer, a shockwave of fear radiated outwards from the pyramid and raced across the dunes and the pit traps of the tantuna, onwards into the vastness of the Maru. Seth clapped his hands to his ears to ease the pain. Even the tantuna would be cowering deep in their tunnels when they felt the intensity of that shrieking cry and their glistening, dark brown carapaces would turn the colour of sand. A solitary bird fell to the sand nearby, the stick-thin legs kicking their last. It was a flycatcher from the Aayus that had wandered too far from home, the long yellow bill spoiled with crimson. The sound rose ever higher until it passed out of range and died away, followed by an unnatural silence. Seth wiped the sweat from his skin and took a shuddering breath, waiting for his wife and unborn son to be butchered.
The slope in front was steep and smooth, plunging hundreds of metres onto the foot of the next dune and the valley he had chosen was pitted by conical sand traps. At the centre of each one lay a black hole, ridged around the edge where the grains had been cemented by vamati, saliva of the desert tigers. The holes looked like gaping mouths to Seth as he strained to breathe. To venture beyond the edge of any of the craters would result in a sand-slide ending in a lingering death, but to set foot on the sand without wearing vamati on the skin would kill just as surely. The gentle breeze carried the stench of rotting flesh and he wondered which friends had been trussed up in the dark, cool tunnels. Sometimes the prey of the tantuna could be heard screaming for days. Even the vampyra could not kill as slowly or painfully.
Seth watched and waited. Ribbons of sand writhed across the surface of the dunes. Somehow, the sand was inextricably linked to the vampires and also infested by jiivaa, the living magic of their blood. How easy it would be to roll down the slope until he was within one of the tantuna craters, but the shocking pain of their sting would be the coward’s way out. He had no right to let Sorna suffer by herself and so he would be with her until the end, sharing the pain as he shared her thoughts. He pulled up the scarf and narrowed his eyes against the sand and in desperation, prayed to Yamala whilst clutching the knife in his shaking hands. Death had been a member of his family as long as he could remember and his constant companion on each outing to the desert, whilst Yamala slept the endless sleep. The vampyra had stolen his sister and her husband, his father and his mother and soon enough he would plunge the knife into his own heart and the sand would bury him. Not long after, the jiivaa that bred below the surface would turn him into leather and bone. The hated shrieks rose up again as Seth pressed his hands over his ears and screamed for mercy.