The Dark Dragon's Rider
The Dark Dragon’s rider, who goes unnamed in Panzer Dragoon, was a humanoid drone who rode the black dragon that sought to return to the Tower near the Imperial Capital. The Dark Dragon’s rider’s identity, including gender and species, is not revealed to players in the games, although the Azel Panzer Dragoon RPG guide book confirms that the rider was a drone.1 Like Azel, the Dark Dragon’s rider appeared to be what Panzer Dragoon Orta’s encyclopaedia refers to as a higher end drone, created by the Ancients to interface with biological weapons, possibility to perform tasks too dangerous for the Ancients themselves.
The Dark Dragon’s rider is first seen by players in the introduction to Panzer Dragoon. Kyle Fluge, about to meet his fate at the mercy of a pure-type, was saved as a rock fell from the ceiling and crushed the pure-type. However, Kyle’s safety was short lived as the Dark Dragon and its rider flew into the tunnel, turning the whole area into flame.
The Dark Dragon's rider prepares to kill the Sky Rider.
When Kyle emerged from the cave he saw two dragons in combat, one of which was the Dark Dragon, the other dragon he would soon ride. The Blue Dragon’s rider, known as the Sky Rider by fans and in the Panzer Dragoon manual, shared many similarities with the Dark Dragon’s rider. Both wore similar armour and rode different classes of the Solo Wing dragon (the Sky Rider rode the normal class, the Dark Dragon’s rider rode the spiritual class) as if Team Andromeda had designed them to be twins belonging to opposing sides. One feature that the Dark Dragon’s rider had which the Sky Rider did not share was a pair of orange eyes that glowed like those of a biomonster.
The Dark Dragon let loose a fireball which the Sky Rider dodged, however the Dark Dragon and his rider managed to take the Sky Rider out with a laser blast. They then disappeared into the distance, while the dying Sky Rider landed his dragon so that he could pass his mission over to Kyle.
An in-game shot of the Dark Dragon's rider.
When Kyle next encountered the Dark Dragon and its rider, it was in the desert. The Dark Dragon’s rider attacked Kyle, but was defeated and so hurried away from Kyle and towards the Tower. Kyle encountered them again near some Ancient ruins and finally outside the Tower near the Imperial Capital. Using the Tower, the Dark Dragon turned into a larger version of itself, and when Kyle and his dragon defeated this form, the Dark Dragon reverted back to its original form. Upon defeat, the Dark Dragon appeared to have been killed, and fell into the sea. It is unknown what happened to the Dark Dragon’s rider, but it is quite possible that he or she drowned in the nearby ocean. Azel became unconscious when Atolm died; it is possible that the same happened to the Dark Dragon’s rider.
The Dark Dragon’s rider never spoke in Panzer Dragoon and his or her personality remains largely a mystery to players. Panzer Dragon Orta’s encyclopaedia states that, “there have only been a few documented cases in which a drone actually shows human-like emotions or will”. It is quite possible that Dark Dragon’s rider was one of the many drones who had no human-like emotions or personality, however this is never confirmed in the series.