Scott Bernard and his rebel group are on the run, hiding in the desert during a sandstorm while Invid shock troops hunt for them, determined to exterminate the people who recently destroyed their mountain fortress. Their problem is compounded by Marlene's rising fever which, unknown to them, is the result of the increased Invid activity in the area. When Rand defends Lunk's reasons for not getting enough water earlier, the resulting argument puts them at each other's throats. The fight eventually pushes Rand into venturing into the sandstorm in search of water. In short order, he becomes lost and falls into a ravine. There, the unconscious Rand inhales spores from the Invid Flower of Life, driven there by the harsh winds. Rand begins to experience hallucinatory dreams, where he rescues Marlene from a ravenous dragon -- and ultimately learns things about himself, and about the Invid's plans for human extinction.
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