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Episode 9: Downburst

 

Review by Chris Guanche

September 24, 2008

 

Summary

 

A large Balarant AT force assembles as the Berkoff squad speeds back to the frontline base. Godan asks Berkoff if they can trust Kochak, and Berkoff points out that Kochak used to be involved with AT research. The Balarant forces begin their bombardment, and the base's automated gun turrets return fire. Godan mocks Kochak's ability to calculate the proper mixture for the PRL, and Berkoff tells Kochak to calm down because they're entrusting their lives to him. Berkoff concludes that the current weather is the result of them blowing up the PRL tanks at the M7 base. Berkoff says they'll risk everything on Kochak's delicate nerves, and when Zaki asks what that means, Berkoff explains that Kochak has survived because of his personality. Godan thinks it's cowardice more than personality, and Berkoff points out that it's dangerous to experiment with PRL in the minus 250 degree range. If the mixture reacts too slowly, the AT will freeze due to the cold, causing them to freeze to death. The Balarant forces continue their attack while Wapp mans the automated defense systems. Wapp asks Berkoff what he learned from fighting the Balarant recon squad, and Berkoff says they've stopped doing everything to prepare for the super cold air mass. Wapp yells at him, but Berkoff argues that preparing for the cold air mass and Balarant attack is more important than searching for the murder suspect. Wapp criticizes Berkoff for not following his orders, and Berkoff tells him he doesn't know the destructive power of what they're facing. Wapp calls Berkoff a complainer and says cold air masses are common in the extreme north, so they can't abandon their mission just because of that. Berkoff simply walks off, and Wapp threatens to reveal his demotion to the others. Zaki and Godan are amazed as they watch Kochak calculate the formula, and Chirico tells him to hurry up because the Balarant are closing in. Kochak begins to panic and asks everyone to help him by gathering several ingredients. He gives Zaki, Godan and Chirico samples of PRL and adds a mixture to it. He tastes the mixtures and applies electric shock to Godan's sample, causing it to dissolve in a puff of smoke. He almost gets a stable reaction with Zaki's sample, but he finally succeeds with Chirico's sample. Kochak declares that this is the correct mixture that will save their lives. He's not completely sure, but Berkoff says they'll have to trust him because the Balarant have already broken through. Wapp walks in and asks them why they're listening to a man who was demoted from first lieutenant to petty officer, saying they can't trust him. He calls Berkoff a disgrace to the Gilgamesh, but everyone ignores him. Wapp accuses Berkoff of abandoning his men during battle, and Berkoff pulls his gun on Wapp. Chirico tells them to calm down, and Wapp boasts that no one can handle PRL as well as he can. Wapp tells them to do what they want because he won't care when they die since one of them is a murderer. As the base rocks from Balarant attack, Berkoff orders them to prepare the PRL.

 

One by one, they load the new PRL mixture into their Scopedogs. Balarant attacks take down the remaining automated turrets, allowing them to get closer to the base. As the Scopedogs speed through a tunnel, Berkoff tells Chirico that he'll be the distraction so they can attack from behind. Chirico jumps out of the tunnel and draws the attention of the Balarant while the others move to get behind. The Chabbys open fire on Chirico and kick up a snow cloud. Chirico draws a large force of Chabbys away, and the others begin their attack from behind. The weather begins to worsen, and Wapp suits up and gets into his Standing Tortoise. Berkoff tells everyone not to freeze to death, and the downburst begins. Surrounded by Chabbys, the Scopedogs drop their weapons and huddle in close together. A massive cold burst hits the ground, freezing the Chabbys and their pilots. Chabbys all around begin to explode. Later, Wapp emerges from the base in his Standing Tortoise and heads to the battlefield. Surveying the frozen Chabbys, he eventually finds the frozen Scopedogs and laughs at them. He knocks the Scopedogs over and says they got what they deserved for listening to Kochak. Spotting only four units, he rushes to find Chirico so he can confirm his death and get another promotion. Finding Chirico's frozen Scopedog, Wapp comments that it's a stupid way for a Red Shoulder to die after having survived for so long. He debates whether he should shoot Chirico, but he decides against it because he'll need Chirico's corpse. Wapp slides around and happily declares that he'll get a promotion, but suddenly the PRL ignites inside his cockpit. The cockpit hatch doesn't open, and Wapp is killed when the cockpit explodes. On Kuzsuk, Wockam looks at the satellite data and says the storm was more powerful than he imagined. Pailsen points out that there doesn't seem to be any survivors, so Wockam asks Ruske to confirm it. Ruske reports that there's no response, and Wockam concludes that in the end they were just regular soldiers. Pailsen says it's too early to give up because miracles happen during these times. The PRL reactivates inside Chirico's cockpit, slowly unfreezing him. The other four wake up and greet Chirico when he returns. Wockam thinks all five are abnormal survivors because this snow test definitely confirmed it.

 

Commentary

 

These last two episodes have provided an interesting environmental change, as up to now we've never seen snow combat in any VOTOMS series. You can almost feel the cold as the approaching storm gets worse and worse in the midst of an enemy attack. As the stereotypical idiot commander, Wapp gets exactly the kind of death he deserves. He also revealed that Berkoff was demoted for abandoning his men, and that certainly pushes Berkoff's buttons. Whether there's any truth to the accusations remains to be seen. If the Balarant had access to accurate weather data, it makes me wonder why they would choose to attack a Gilgamesh base in the middle of a powerful storm. It certainly doesn't get them anything, because they wasted forces attacking a nearly abandoned base and lost everything. Although Wockam is now convinced that all five men are abnormal survivors, I doubt this is the last thing he's going to throw at them as part of his experiments.

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Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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VOTOMS Pailsen Files Episode 9 VOTOMS Pailsen Files Episode 9

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