On the planet Regula 4, a mine worker runs into the office and tells his fellow worker that "it" is back. The building shakes and they call for military reinforcements, and then peer out the window... where a giant red eye peers back in at them.
Morning on Excalibur and Matheson tracks down Gideon, who is shooting hoops in the gym. The first officer informs Gideon that an Earthforce ship, Medusa, has requested their help. They are mining a planet, Regular 4, that has minerals that Earthforce scientists believe can cure the Drakh plague. The planet is low-tech and Gideon wonders how the natives could be giving Earthforce any problems.
On Regular 4, a contingent of soldiers from Medusa stare in shock as an enormous golden dragon rears up at them from the forest.
After setting course for Regula 4, Gideon goes to the bridge and checks out the report from Medusa's commander, Captain Daniels. Galen is there and takes an interest when Gideon reads about dragon sighting. The technomage asks what color it was and seems to find it significant that it's gold, and tales Gideon that he'll be going with him to meet with Daniels.
When Excalibur arrives at Regula 4, Gideon and Galen take a shuttle over to Medusa. Lt. Meyers takes them to Daniels while explaining that a separatist movement colonized the planet 90 years ago and rejected technology in favor of an agrarian society. When Medusa arrived to take what they needed, the natives somehow fought back. Both Gideon and Galen notice Meyers' emphasis on "take." In the conference room, Daniels explains that three years ago a survey discovered a mineral on the planet that adds 15 years to average life expectancy. The mineral is a naturally-occurring anti-viral agent, and Earthforce scientists believe that it can help cure or delay the Drakh plague. Earthforce brought mining operations up to top speed after the attack on Earth, and Galen points out that they're effectively strip-mining the planet. Daniels concedes the point but notes that the situation on Earth is too desperate to slow down.
Meyers lists the problems that have occurred since Medusa arrived to guard the mining facility. Among them is the replacement of a transport's engine with peanut butter. Galen chuckles but Daniels warns that they're terrorist actions, even though no one has been hurt... yet. Gideon says that he and Galen will go down to check out the situation first-hand and Galen agrees, saying that it's best that they don't take any soldiers with them. Gideon questions his confidence that they won't be harmed and Galen simply says that he's not sure enough to give an answer.
Gideon and Galen land on the planet away from the main settlement near the mining facility. They go to an inn and Gideon buys some drinks using Earth coins. The barkeep ignores him but his daughter, Claire, starts to talk to the captain. Her father tells her to stay away from strangers and takes Gideon's money. He notices the coin and is clearly unconvinced when Gideon claims that he's a herder bringing cattle to market.
Galen and Gideon wait, the technomage figuring that something will happen eventually. A group of locals come in and their leader tells them to get out. Before Gideon can respond, the lights grow dim and an older man, wearing simple black robes, appears in the doorway. He says that Gideon and Galen belong to him and that the coin Gideon used was a signal that was supposed to be given to him, not the barkeep. The villagers call the man Alwyn and defer to him immediately. Once the locals leave, Galen greets Alwyn, pointing out that a golden dragon is his trademark and he suspected his old friend was there. Alwyn wonders who Gideon is and Galen introduces his friend, insisting that he can be trusted. The older technomage finally agrees to take them to his cabin.
At the cabin, Alwyn provides a simple meal and explains that he is a technomage like Galen. He asks if they have emerged from hiding, but Galen claims that he came back early. Alwyn, clearly knowing Galen well, figures that they kicked him out and tells Gideon that the technomages went to a secret hiding place when the Shadow War broke out. He admits that he was disappointed that Galen went with him, and Galen explains that he followed his teacher out of obligation.
Gideon gets down to business and asks Alwyn why he's interfering with the mining of the potential Drakh cure. The technomage takes them to the mining facility and shows them how the miners are strip-mining the planet. The anti-viral agent is found in the most fertile lands, the same lands that the Regulans settled to farm. When Earthforce set up the mining facility, they displaced hundreds of farmers that have nowhere else to go and no high-tech means to move. When Alwyn made the locals' case to Daniels, the Earthforce captain refused to listen so the technomage tried to make it more trouble for them to stay than go. Alwyn admits that his plan isn't working and that he's an annoyance at best, and worries that the situation will soon turn violent. He vows to help defend the people that gave him a home on Regular 4, and tells Gideon that if Earthforce comes with guns then he'll send them away in boxes.
At the mining facility, the villagers capture the workers, round them up, and promise that they won't hurt anyone unless they have to. The leader from the inn pins a note to the wall, saying that they'll kill the hostages if Daniels and his men continue mining.
While Gideon checks in with Matheson, Alwyn asks about Galen's teacher. Galen admits that Elric died shortly after they reached the technomages' refuge, and that he always feared losing his mentor. Alwyn assures his friend that he is his own man and able to make his own decisions, and suggests that he settle down on Regula and embrace it as a home. The older man suggests that Galen could even replace him when he eventually dies, taking over as guardian of the people. Galen refuses, saying that he won't be responsible for others. Gideon comes in and tells them about the raid at the mining facility.
On Medusa, Daniels mobilizes his men and puts a reluctant Meyers in charge. Meyers suggests that Daniels might want to lead, but the captain assures him that the best chance for a promotion is through combat experience. As they troops descend in a shuttle, a golden dragon flies up before them. Sure that it's an illusion, Meyers tells them to keep going and they fly through the hologram.
On the planet, Gideon warns Alwyn that the struggle is going to escalate just as they feared, and asks the technomage if he wants to see things go out of control.
Meyers and his men go into the inn and capture the owner, his daughter, and the customers. As he prepares to interrogate them, the lights go out and a mist filters into the room. Alwyn steps into sight and orders them to leave the villagers alone. Galen steps up next to his friend as demons fly out of the fireplace and hover around the soldiers. Meyers dismisses them as more holograms... until they start attacking the soldiers, proving undoubtedly solid. Galen and Alwyn discuss Alwyn's design techniques for the demons while the demons send the soldiers running.
A short time later, Daniels calls Meyers. The embarrassed lieutenant tells his superior that they've been captured along with the hostages.
Alwyn and Galen return to Alwyn's cabin with Claire and her father. The old technomage tells Gideon that no one was killed, but then orders the barkeep to release the hostages as a sign of good faith. Galen points out that they can't hope to win against Earthforce, but the barkeep refuses and prepares to take Gideon hostage. Claire passes out before he can and Alwyn scans her. He informs them that she's dying from an overdose of the anti-viral compound. The mining has released vast quantities of into the atmosphere, and the inn is the closest location to the mining facility. Gideon figures that Daniels will stop when he hears the news, but Alwyn warns that the Earthforce captain will dismiss it as another trip. The Excalibur captain still wants to try and prepares to take Claire up to his ship so that Chambers can confirm the diagnosis. The barkeep, furious, vows that if his daughter dies then the hostages will die as well. Once he leaves, Gideon asks Alwyn to influence the locals to stand down. Galen agrees, but suggests that they formulate a backup plan in case Daniels isn't convinced. Once Gideon leaves, Galen offers to go with Alwyn to speak with the locals, but the older technomage says that they're his responsibility.
Later, Alwyn bursts into the tavern and tells them that he's ashamed them for taking hostages. They complain that they were foolish to toss away their technology, but Alwyn tells them that they made the right decision then, and they're throwing away their way of life now. The barkeep refuses to give up the hostages and challenges Alwyn, who angrily tells them that he would never use force against them as a matter of honor. The technomage tells them that they will bear the consequences because they've left him without options.
On Excalibur, Gideon gets Chambers' report and he tells Daniels that she's confirmed that the settlers will die if they continue mining. Daniels dismisses the report as hysterics and insists on sending Claire to one of their own clinics to get a second opinion. Gideon points out that it will take weeks but Daniels refuses to reconsider. Galen calls Gideon to tell him something new is happening, and Gideon then informs Daniels that Alwyn plans to use the mining facility to amplify his powers a hundredfold, blasting Medusa out of the sky.
Daniels and Gideon focus on the planet and see Alwyn summoning his power at the center of the mining facility. Medusa's captain asks Gideon to open fire, pointing out that his ship doesn't have the ability to conduct a planet bombardment. Gideon hesitates and then gives Matheson the order to fire. The blast wipes out the mining facility and Alwyn with it, and Galen watches from the nearby forest.
Later, Gideon goes back to the inn and tells the barkeep that Claire will recover, and that Daniels will move the mining operation to an uninhabited area. He points out that a lot of people on Earth will die if the villagers don't help them, and the barkeep informs Gideon that they've released the hostages. The barkeep assures Gideon that they will cooperate with Earthforce, and Gideon assures him that now that Daniels needs their help, he's willing to negotiate. As Gideon brings in Claire, the barkeep says that they will help to honor Alwyn's memory and then goes to embrace his daughter.
Galen stands in the woods alone and waits... until Alwyn steps out of the shadows. The younger technomage says that he cut it close, and Alwyn says that he will have to move on. He's accepted that the locals came to depend on him too much, so it's time he goes back on the long road and see where it takes him. Galen says that he'll miss having someone from home to talk to, and Alwyn tells Galen that he is home, even if he hasn't realized it. Once Alwyn leaves, Gideon comes over and suggests that the locals could use Galen once their mission is over, and he could find a home there. Galen echoes Alwyn's words, saying that he already has a home, and walks away.