Too Many Long Boxes!

End of Summer

The Barren Earth: An Appraisal

by D.J. LoTempio

For five thousand years, mankind has been at war with the Qlov - the bitterest rival and most implacable adversary humanity has ever faced! They are fated to face off over the planet Earth, abandoned ancestral home of the humans and the Qlov, and a gritty, viscous, and ungrateful ball you wouldn't really want to call home. Mother Earth is gone and has been replaced by a voracious Kali Mother that prefers to eat its children rather than nurture them. Let's face it; the future is nothing to look forward to.

Enter the heroine, Jinal Ne' Comarr, a middle management translator whom is the only survivor from an attempt to awaken the lost military garrisons on Earth. You'll be a little confused when you first see her because you'll think she's one of the people about to be eaten by a 20 foot carnivorous Jack Rabbit or a 50 foot land-adapted crustacean. Fair haired and slight limbed, she has the look of spoiled society about her. You expect her to die. You might even want her to die. Fortunately, your expectations of her are about to be turned on their heads.

The Barren Earth ran from 1982 to 1984 during a period when DC Comics was adding short back-up strips to their titles. Stylistically, the series is a successful revamp of the failed Starfire series, which billed itself as a Sword and Science genre and whose writers didn't seem to understand the concept. I urge readers to check out David R. Black's overview of the Starfire series for details. Gary Cohn and Ron Randall quite clearly have a handle on the concept in The Barren Earth though, taking their inspiration from the Dune series by Frank Herbert, a modern classic.

In fact, one could say that Cohn and Randall take a little too much inspiration from the Dune series since several similarities are apparent in The Barren Earth : the setting is a world of sand, filled with deadly desert nomads adapted to the climate; the theme of human evolution is one of the main story concepts; politics play as much significance as battles; there is a psycho-active substance that has a prominent role in the story; and Jinal seems too civilized for hardship, much like Paul Atreides.

Now, you might be thinking that you are better off reading Dune , which I certainly wouldn't stop from you doing since it is a fabulous piece of work, but if you dismiss The Barren Earth as derivative then you will be forced to dismiss Dune and countless other fine fantasy works as derivative of Gilgamesh or The Arthurian Cycle or, dare I say it, the Old Testament. The Barren Earth is a work that follows in colossal footprints yet stakes a claim as an innovative comic series.

One of its virtues is its progressive treatment of women. Jinal Ne' Comarr is one of the finest heroines in the history of DC comics. She is a deadly swordswoman, a brilliant politician, and extremely resilient. She doesn't fall prey to the stereotypical image of a comic heroine; the big-breasts, negligee costume, and naughty virgin attitude are all absent. Such things would have ruined the character because her mission was to bring civilization back to an uncivilized world. As such, she needed to look like a woman who stood astride both barbarism and culture; an image typified by her energy blade, an instrument of savagery modified by technology. The closest comparable female character is Hannah Dundee from the acclaimed Xenozoic Tales by Mark Schultz.

Sadly, The Barren Earth never succeeded in earning long-term status in the DC firmament and the only way to obtain the series is by diving into back-issue bins. You may be lucky enough to find a complete set in the cheap bins, or so I've been told; I was lucky enough to pick them up as they were coming out. You'll also be reading some fine Warlord stories in the bargain. I've created a checklist, which can be found following this introduction, to help you pin down these precious stories. It even summarizes the main story points for those of you who like to cheat. So without further ado, I present the complete Barren Earth checklist!

[ ] THE WARLORD #63 - Episode One

Cover date: November 1982

Title: "Stranded!"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Far in the distant future, the sun in its old age has swollen into a red giant! Mankind has long since migrated to the stars - - and lush, green terra is now.The Barren Earth. Jinal returns to Earth, searching for military garrisons left behind on the planet after humanity left for the stars. They plan on brining them up to combat readiness and then use them in their war against an alien race. A Qlov battle globe appears in orbit and attacks the small human ship. Out manned and outgunned, Jinal and her crewmates fight a hopeless battle for survival. Jinal and friends narrowly escape the destruction of both the Qlov and Human spacecraft, and crash land on the harsh, unforgiving surface of the Barren Earth.

[ ] THE WARLORD #64 - Episode Two

Cover date: December 1982

Title: "The Long Trek"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal and her friends embark from their broken spacecraft and enter the desert, looking for one of the Garrison Bases. Unfortunately, they head into the wrong direction. Raiders quickly come and scavenge the vessel. The desert begins a hard and terrible lesson on the rules of the Barren Earth. A burrowing sand lizard devours two survivors, Narra and Uzzak, while a giant hermit crab eats another crewman. Jinal and Advar barely escape to flee deeper into the desert. They find only death when a carnivorous plant tortures Advar. Jinal is orphaned to face the remaining terrors in this brutal world.

[ ] THE WARLORD #65 - Episode Three

Cover date: January 1983

Title: "Marauders of the Desert"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: A band of Harahashan, part human/part lizard Bedouins, comes across Jinal and the barely alive Advar. They quickly kill Advar - a mercy killing - and leave Jinal to her fate in the desert. Either she will die or become a great warrior. Human marauders find Jinal and they attempt to ravage her. They scoff at her energy blade and Jinal uses the opportunity to duel with the evil leader. She makes short work of him and many of his men. She receives unexpected aide from a man called Skinner, whom was tracking the marauders. Jinal collapses from exhaustion into his arms and hopes that, unlike the rest of this world, he appears to be exactly what he claims to be - a honourable warrior.

[ ] THE WARLORD #67 - Episode Four

Cover date: March 1983

Title: "The City in the Sands"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal and Skinner are ambushed by a giant badger and find sanctuary in a cave that holds an awesome secret. Eventually, they make it to Arq, one of the remaining garrisons. Jinal is horrified to discover that it has fallen to ruin and that the human residents are little more than common thugs. It becomes obvious to Jinal that the remaining humans have no grasp of their heritage. Skinner introduces her to the Council and she meets Reena. Unfortunately, a welcome is interrupted by a Harahashan attack.

[ ] THE WARLORD #68 - Episode Five

Cover date: April 1983

Title: "Siege"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal becomes embroiled in a siege of the Garrison. She learns that despite their difference humans and Harahashan have one thing in common - a need for water. The Harahashan will destroy the Garrison for its water reserves. Jinal pleads to the Council that diplomacy is the best recourse but they refuse to listen. She and Skinner realize the secret of the desert cave could quell the fighting. They decide to kidnap the Chairman Mangle and the Harahashan Leader and show them their secret.

[ ] THE WARLORD #69 - Episode Six

Cover date: May 1983

Title: "Into The Lizard Camp"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal and Skinner sneak into the Harahashan camp. Jinal explains to Skinner that the Harahashan are not true lizards, but humans who have adapted to the harsh conditions of the world. The knowledge does them little good when they are ambushed and captured by the Lizard Men. Jinal convinces the Harahashan Leader to see the secret in the cave. Hostilities arise after the Chairman Mangle and the Harahashan Leader meet but Jinal astonishes them with a startling revelation - the Earth's water has formed a titanic underground ocean. The desert cavern is an opening to the shores of this vast water resource.

[ ] THE WARLORD #70 - Episode Seven

Cover date: June 1983

Title: "The Mulge!"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal has succeeded in creating a truce between the Arqians and the Harahashan. The two races are now collaborating on a vast pipeline that will ship the hidden water to the surface. It is up to Skinner, Renna and Jinal to quell the racial bigotry between the two races. Jinal becomes increasingly friendly with Lord Barasha, leader of the Harahashan. Work on the pipeline is severely threatened by the sudden attack of the Mulge, another offshoot of humanity - part human, part fungus. The combined might of the Humans and the Harahashan are able to drive the Mulge back but Skinner is captured.

[ ] THE WARLORD #72 - Episode Eight

Cover date: August 1983

Title: "The Garden of the Mulge!"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Reena and Jinal lead a small team of rescuers into a Mulge Garden to save Skinner. Jinal quickly discovers that the underside of the Earth is as deadly as the surface; the Mulge Garden is a semi-sentient omnivorous beast that devours several of the rescuers. They find Skinner and another captive, unwilling participants in a Mulge Spore ritual. Reena kills the Mulge shaman but not before he pours deadly spores on Skinner.

[ ] THE WARLORD #73 - Episode Nine

Cover date: September 1983

Title: "Rescue!"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: The Mulge attack the rescuers, but Reena and Jinal are able to repel them. Skinner and his friend may be beyond rescue though. The spores have begun to grow inside the men. Reena is forced to kill the one man outright, and must torch Skinner's chest clean of the spores. Although a painful process, Reena's torch buys Skinner valuable time. Jinal exhausts her energy rifle clearing a path through the Mulge Garden, and the women are able to safely return to the camp. The Harahashan are able to cure Skinner of the dreadful spores and the adventure ends on a happy note.

[ ] THE WARLORD #74 - Episode Ten

Cover date: October 1983

Title: "A Quiet Night

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal enjoys a quiet night, a rare moment of solitude and security on the Barren Earth. Lord Barasha joins Jinal and they discuss her past and her mission. Jinal is depressed. She realizes that her mission is a failure because humanity has degenerated into barbarism or evolved along different lines. Barasha comforts her and reminds her that the world has a way of finding new destinies.

[ ] THE WARLORD #76 - Episode Eleven

Cover date: December 1983

Title: "Sea Change"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: The water pipeline has stopped pumping water so Jinal ventures beneath the waves to find the cause. She discovers a lost ruin at the bottom of the underground ocean. A robot has crawled out from the ruin and crushed the pipe. It attacks Jinal but she uses her energy blade to destroy it. Jinal realizes that the ruins are actually an old Federation Star Cruiser. With luck and ingenuity, she succeeds in raising it from the ocean bed.

[ ] THE WARLORD #77 - Episode Twelve

Cover date: January 1984

Title: "Surface Tension"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal is jubilant; the Star Cruiser is old but in perfect condition; a good, solid vessel to fight the Qlov. She decides to give a tour of the vessel and brings Skinner, Reena, Mangle, Barasha and his wife. Unfortunately, mysterious stewards are closely watching their actions. These stewards remotely control the ship and dump farther and deeper into the ocean. It causes a massive tidal wave, which destroys the pipeline. Jinal now knows that the Barren Earth contains someone or thing wielding awesome power, power that may interfere with her mission.

[ ] THE WARLORD #78 - Episode Thirteen

Cover date: February 1984

Title: "The Quest Begins"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Lord Barasha leads, Jinal, Skinner, Renna, and his wife, Lur, into the desert on a quest for those beings responsible for destroying the Federation Star Cruiser. Jinal questions Barasha and Skinner on their destination but explanations are interrupted by an encounter with one of the desert's beasts. Barasha and Lur show how Harahashan catch these burrowing lizards. Human slavers ambush the group that night and capture Reena, Jinal and Skinner.

[ ] THE WARLORD #79 - Episode Fourteen

Cover date: March 1984

Title: "Slave Market"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal encounters Yisrah, the Travelling Shaman, in the slaver's vehicle. He informs the captured trio that they are bound for the markets at M'Breem. Jinal tells Yisrah about their quest and, much to her surprise, he tells her about D'Roz, the Floating City. Jinal is excited about the clue but frustrated by their fettered situation. In M'Breem, Barasha and Lur buy them. Fighting breaks out after Barasha "forgets" to pay the slave bill. The group escape accompanied by Yisrah, with the help of a band of Harahashan.

[ ] THE WARLORD #80 - Episode 15

Cover date: April 1984

Title: "Pursuit!"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: The slavers purse the group into the desert. Luckily, Barasha has enlisted the aid of the Markaaz, another tribe of Harahashan. The slavers are led into an ambush and are routed by the combined might of the Harahashan and our heroes. Yisrah wins the loyalty of Jinal by finding her lost weapons, the energy blade and rifle.

[ ] THE WARLORD #81 - Episode 16

Cover date: May 1984

Title: "Other Survivors"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal and company continues to ride with the Markeez Harahashan. She uses the opportunity to learn more their cultural and language from Lord Barasha. Yisrah tells legends of D'Roz: it is said they saved the world, sometimes people are admitted. Lur reveals that Barasha spent a year of his youth as a student in D'Roz. Meanwhile, a small squad of Qlov, who survived the battle in Episode 1, has made a home for themselves on the Barren Earth. The episode ends with them receiving a response from their distress signal.

[ ] THE WARLORD #82 - Episode 17

Cover date: June 1984

Title: "Open City"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Our heroes reach Skeen, an embassy city of D'Roz. The city provides an opportunity for the heroes to relax and replenish their supplies. In particular, Yisrah is eager to acquire "his stuff." Reena takes Jinal to a spa dedicated to females and the pair starts a barroom brawl. They lose their equipment but the now fully equipped Yisrah ends the battle with his "magic."

[ ] THE WARLORD #83 - Episode 18

Cover date: July 1984

Title: "Barasha's Tale"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal and her friends reunite after a night on the town, and Barasha tells of his experience with D'Roz and its masters. Barasha explains that D'Roz is not a Garrison city that didn't decline. Rather, he suspects that D'Roz perhaps shaped the Barren Earth. When Barasha was but a lad, his tribe encountered the Floating City. Its rulers were intrigued by Barasha's wisdom and allowed him to spend a year in the city. Jinal is eager to learn what Barasha knows about the city. His reluctant or unable to explain everything but he pledges his knowledge to her cause. Meanwhile, a group of Old Ones, the masters of D'Roz, convenes on the Embassy. They are concerned that Jinal may be either their key to controlling the world or the element which wrests control from their grasp. If the latter is the case, then she will be neutralized.

[ ] THE WARLORD #84 - Episode 19

Cover date: August 1984

Title: "The Floating Palace"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal and the gang are transported up to the Embassy of D'Roz by a tractor beam. She notices that everyone else is amazed by the spectacle except for Yisrah. Onboard the Embassy, Jinal discovers that the technology is far more than lost Federation science. The Old Ones seem to have a separate, perhaps more advanced, power unknown to her. She is separated from the others and greeted by Milo, First Communicator between the city of D'Roz and the Barren Earth. He reveals that the Old Ones made the Harahashan and the Mulge as experiments in surviving the harsh environment. Jinal petitions Milo for aid in uniting the planet in defense against the imminent Qlov invasion.

Milo shows Jinal that the Qlov are already on the planet and have contacted their brethren. He asks Jinal why the Old Ones should side with her against them. She claims that they are a threat to all humanity, but Milo points out that Jinal is woefully ill informed about the Qlov society. He tells her to capture a Qlov and bring it before him for interrogation. The Old Ones will then decide if they will side with Jinal or the Qlov.

[ ] THE WARLORD #85 - Episode 20

Cover date: September 1984

Title: "Confrontation!"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal and the gang find the Qlov under attack by Sand Pirates. The Qlov quickly dispatch the pirates using advanced technology. A Qlov scout attacks our heroes while they spy on its fellows. The skills of the Harahashan and Skinner's weapons prove ineffective against the Qlov and Jinal is forced to face the deadly alien in a sword duel.

[ ] THE WARLORD #86 - Episode 21

Cover date: October 1984

Title: "Capture the Qlov!"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal proves that she is a skilled swordswoman by defending herself against the Qlov. The creature succeeds in knocking Jinal to the ground but Lur is able to disarm the Qlov. Skinner, Reena, and Skinner wrestle with the Qlov and discover its other deadly attributes: incredible strength, tough armor, and extra arms. Yisrah finally incapacitates the Qlov with a potion. Skinner notices that one of the potion's ingredients should only affect humans.

[ ] THE WARLORD #87- Episode 22

Cover date: November 1984

Title: "The City in the Sky!"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: The other Qlov pursues our heroes as they try to bring their captive Qlov to the Old Ones. They make it to the rendezvous spot and are forced to engage their pursuers. Luckily, the city of D'Roz arrives and captures both the heroes and the Qlov.

[ ] THE WARLORD #88 - Episode 23

Cover date: December 1984

Title: "The Judgment of D'Roz!"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Jinal and the captive Qlov are transported up to the Floating City of D'Roz. The duo is grabbed by a tractor beam and then analyzed by an array of scanners. The Old Ones probe their very souls, "seeking to understand the hearts of their warring races." Finally, the pair is sent back to Earth and the Qlov are sent away. D'Roz turns to Jinal and she states her case once more. The Old Ones refuse to help Jinal prepare the Earth for the coming Qlov invasion. Frustration, dejection, and depression well up from within Jinal and she stumbles to the ground. When she rises, she is gripped with a ferocity that gives her friends pause.

"They think they can dismiss me -- they're wrong! They think I'm harmless -- they're wrong! They think they can refuse me, deny me - wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Their ships will be mine! Their power will be mine! Their city, their secrets, their might -- mine! Even if I have to conquer this whole godforsaken world - I will not be denied!"


Cover date: February 1985

Title: "The Ravager"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: The story opens with Admiral Rizek giving a report to the Senators of the Human race on the failure of "The Renewal" to fortify Earth against the Qlov. She recommends that she lead a front-line warship to the planet and recover Jinal. The senators debate while Rizek wonders about the fate of Jinal.

After their disappointing meeting with the Old Ones, Jinal and crew have sought sanctuary from a sandstorm in a desert cave. Jinal and Reena have a long talk and Reena reveals she has come to respect Jinal. She cautions that Jinal should not let her heart rule her mind. She also tells Jinal that she will be a sister to her if need be.

Once the storm ends, the crew starts the return trip to Arq. Jinal plans to build a power base with the Humans and Harahashan. Unknown raiders on the way to Arq attack them but they easily dispatch them. Unfortunately, the raiders have already destroyed Arq. They find the name "Zhengla" written on the walls of the city in blood.

The heroes discover that Zhengla's army has surrounded the Waterworks station. They are barely able to fight their way through to join Chairman Mangle. The situation is desperate. Barasha leads 100 of his men against the raiders, hoping to break through their ranks and find his full army. Barasha will be too late, though. Zhengla immediately leads his army against the Waterworks. Mangle has booby-trapped the entrance to the Waterworks and dies when the raiders ignite the explosives.

Yisrah points out that Zhengla is obviously after the water. "His army is too large for anything but conquest! And such a great force must have unlimited water! With this resource he could range across the desert, building conduits as he went! He could conquer the world!" Jinal laments the fact that this was her original plan. A united Mulge and raider attack shock the heroes. Reena and Skinner are separated from Jinal and Yisrah. In the end, Zhengla, an enormous human/Mulge hybrid, captures Jinal.


Cover date: March 1985

Title: "The Captive"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Zhengla intends to make Jinal his consort. He intends to give her the world as a gift. Yisrah counsels that she should accept her fate, which Jinal steadfastly refuses. Zhengla and Jinal engage in physical and mental combat that lasts weeks. Jinal attempts to kill Zhengla but she fails. Her great internal strength is nothing against the vast reserves contained within Zhengla.

While Zhengla and Jinal wage their personal and global battles, other individuals are weaving their own plots. Admiral Rizek is on her way to Earth and wonders what she will find once she gets there after her eight-month transit. Reena and Skinner track Zhengla from afar, and notice that the Old Ones of D'Roz are equally interested in Zhengla. They watch as a D'Roz ship mysteriously visits the final battle of Chairman Mangle.

Meanwhile, Zhengla attacks the town of Ganesh and easily overcomes the poor defenses. Jinal quickly learns that Zhengla is not truly a savage ruler. He is versed in diplomacy and rulership. He understands honor, loyalty and respect. His judgment is harsh but fair. He truly means to better this fierce world - "to create a new civilization from the shards of an earlier order." With this new understanding, she softens her attitude towards Zhengla; she even becomes his servant.

In the end, Zhengla reveals that he is following a vision quest, and that he saw Jinal as his queen. He offers Jinal a pistol and exposes his breast to her. Her choices - kill him or join him. Jinal chooses to join Zhengla's quest and accepts her role as his consort. Zhengla tells her the origin of his vision.

Once, Zhengla was just a brigand whom had stumbled into a Mulge Pit. Therein, he found The Garden and at its heart was a giant mushroom. He found a woman inside the mushroom and she was afflicted with the Mulge spores. She knew who Zhengla was and promised to give him the most beautiful and terrible thing a man could have if he killed her. He accepted the agreement. He told the mushroom spores from her body, after killing her, and ingested them with the fresh blood of wild lizard, the Slizek. The mushrooms gave Zhengla a dream of blood and fire. He led an army that fell cities like chafe before the scythe. The city of D'Roz was beneath his feet and by his side was a woman with golden hair and flaming sword. Now that dream has come true.

Unfortunately, Lord Barasha chooses this moment to show up with legions of Harahashan.


Cover date: April 1985

Title: "The Warrior"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: Barasha, Skinner and Renna ride out and meet Zhengla and Jinal. Barasha tells Zhengla that the Harahashan will go to war with him since he has stolen their water and Jinal. Zhengla tells the Barasha that Jinal is his consort and queen, not his slave. Yisrah supervises a duel between Zhengla and Barasha to decide the fate of the gathered armies. The battle is fierce by Zhengla's strength wears down Barasha. Jinal tells Zhengla to spare Barasha, because the Lord of Harahashan can still serve Zhengla's quest. Barasha is initially against the allegiance, but Jinal convinces him to swear fidelity to Zhengla. She then convinces the entire Harahashan host to join Zhengla's banner.

The Old Ones recognize that the unity between Harahashan and Zhengla's army could forge the first true empire on Earth in thousands of years. If Jinal bends the Koraz to her will, the empire may threaten them. They decide to assert their influence on the gathering events. Meanwhile, the stranded Qlov receive a call from their race. They are surprised to find it coming from within the desert!

Zhengla's army bides it time making plans. Jinal meets with Reena, Skinner and Barasha. They all want to know what her plan is for Zhengla. She tells them that she is Zhengla's body and soul, and that she has finally learned that this world only listens to strength. It is clear to all that she shares Zhengla's desire to conquer the Barren Earth.

Zhengla and Jinal decide to attack S'Keen, the Open City, despite its protection by the Old Ones. A ship is sent to meet Zhengla and tells him that the Old Ones will aid him on his march to S'Keen. The ship leads the army into a trap - a colony of Qlov! The Qlov ship aids the colony and things look bleak for the army. Jinal is able to disable the ship, and she, Zhengla and Yisrah defeat the four pilots. With the ship under their control, Jinal signals the attacking Qlov to return to their burrows.

Zhengla turns his army against S'Keen. Jinal uses the Qlov ship to destroy the Embassy of the Old Ones. The city falls before Zhengla after he is able to repel an attack by D'Roz airships. Zhengla and Jinal know that only a final threat stands between them and the Barren Earth - D'Roz.


Cover date: May 1985

Title: "The Conqueror"

Writer: Gary Cohn Artist: Ron Randall

Summary: In the Mulge Garden, Zhengla shares his vision with Jinal and her two retainers, Barasha and Yisrah. The vision reveals the innermost beauty and truth of each individual. When all eyes turn to Yisrah, they discover that he is really an Old One of D'Roz. Zhengla attacks the traitor but Yisrah manages to teleport back to D'Roz.

Zhengla's Army locates D'Roz and watches its habits for weaknesses. Jinal conceives a plan to lull the guardians of D'Roz into a false sense of security. Her cunning is deadly. Jinal and Zhengla lead a small raiding party into D'Roz where they combat various defenses. They discover Chairman Mangle has been turned into a mechanical zombie. Reena is forced to murder the man she loves to save the heroes. Finally, they breach the Council of the Old Ones. Zhengla claims the Old Ones as his slaves and their work as his booty. The Old Ones relinquish their claim on D'Roz and disappear. Zhengla proclaims his victory; his is now the Conqueror of the Barren Earth. He turns to embrace Jinal. She empties her rifle into his chest.

Jinal has borne months of suffering and humiliation so that she could shepherd Zhengla into the Conqueror of the world. Zhengla knows that his vision showed he would conquer but did not claim he would rule. He asks Jinal to take his dream - a new civilization for the Barren Earth - and he passes away. Jinal takes his Mulge mushrooms and eats them. They grant a new dream. Jinal is the new Conqueror of the Barren Earth, and under her rule the three great races unite to bring new life into the desert. She will raise the Star Cruisers and teach her subjects how to fly them. She leads them into space but she sees no further. Yisrah appears in her vision and explains that the Old Ones only sought balance between the Qlov and Humans since they consider them their children. The Old Ones stayed on Earth when Humanity fled to the stars. They molded new life forms; the Mulge, the Harahashan and the Qlov. When Jinal wakes, D'Roz will hold no secrets from her, and its wonders will be hers to command. "But your destiny is not to destroy the Qlov," he claims. "It is to see the truth, then set things right!"

Jinal awakes and she feels moved by her new, profound mission. The feeling is short-lived. Skinner reveals that a Human Star Cruiser has appeared in the skies over the Barren Earth. Jinal's friends have returned to rescue her.

Series Ends.

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