A Seronan task force, summoned by the Wardens, lays an ambush for the Mandate fleet. While the battle rages, a Warden strike team, consisting of Orin, Kumis, Callus, and Kade, board the Mandate flagship – a cruiser class vessel – with the intention of sabotaging its ward core.
The assault is bloody and the strike team, with Corde’s help, manages to breach the Mandate defenses and plant explosives on the ship’s ward core. Then, they battle waves of Mandate forces, trying to give Orin time to prepare a transport ward to evacuate the team. As the team is about to be overrun, Callus hurls one of the explosives – modified mortar shells – at the Mandate squad, triggering a chain reaction that vaporizes the stern half of the cruiser.
Callus and Kade find themselves sitting in a grassy field on a distant planet. Kumis, meanwhile, has an encounter with an entity who introduces herself as the goddess Aztar. She reveals that Orin had actually died during the escape from the Mandate Titan in orbit of Never-Look-Back but had been brought back by Aztar because his work was not yet done. Now, he had been allowed to return to the realm of death.
Aztar warns Kumis of Oblivion, a dark force that is the antithesis of Casting, and informs him that one of its agents is Marisei Za’Nell, whom he encountered during the Qzin assault on Wayfarer’s Rest.
Aztar tells Kumis to head to the Antian Empire to recover the “Keeper of the Spark,” a large, glossy black orb -currently sitting in a dusty shelf in the Antian Museum of Xenobiology – that is a major fount of power – power that Oblivion seeks to find.