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Episode 5: Deadly Circuit

 

Review by Dustin Corallo

May 10, 2005

 

Summary

As the Future continues on its journey to Central Station, a squadron of WIRED Phantomas move into intercept them. The Future’s radar detects them and Noel informs James about the enemy presence. James then tells Noel he and Dolores will chase them off so the Future can arrive safely. Noel objects to this, and James tells her if anything happens, there’s a shop on the fifth floor of Central Station called Mary, and that she and Leon can hide there. At the same time, Dolores’ Metatron lines pulsate, and she wonders what she’s feeling. James asks if Dolores is ready to fight, but she doesn’t respond at first, worrying him a little. The Future’s cargo bay opens and James and Dolores prepare to fly off. Dolores wonders if she’s resonating to the Orbital Elevator, but then she decides it’s something different. She blasts of toward the WIRED squadron, ready to fight despite the strange feelings. Meanwhile, the Phantomas form up and prepare to attack Dolores, just as an energy bolt destroys one of them. Flying through the explosion, a black orbital frame Raptor begins its attack run. James sees the explosion from his cockpit monitor and wonders what’s going on. As the Phantomas demand their attacker to identify himself, the Yans just taunts them from the Raptor’s cockpit and activates its twin beam swords. He makes a dash slash and destroys one of the Phantomas, then twists around and dives, striking the third one. James is taken back at the sight of the Phantomas being destroyed, and Yans takes the opportunity to attack. He fires energy shots from twin double-barreled cannons on the Raptor’s torso at Dolores, but James evades them. James has Dolores move around the Raptor so a stray burst doesn’t strike the Future, but then Yans maneuvers the Raptor above Dolores and continues to attack her with energy shots. As the Future approaches the Orbital Elevator, Leon and Noel see Dolores’ signature begin to fade on sensors as James continues to act as a decoy. Dolores transforms her right arm into her shot cannon and counterattacks the Raptor with her own shot attacks. Yans, however, evades her shots and fires back, but Dolores activates her energy shield just in time. As the shots continue to hammer at Dolores’ shield, she feels the resonation grow stronger. That’s when the Raptor disappears into space, and James sees that the Raptor has stealth capabilities of its own. He asks Dolores to switch over to anti-stealth, but Dolores doesn’t want to fight. Still undetected, the Raptor continues its barrage on Dolores, and James gripes at her for not wanting to fight back. Dolores explains she has a bad feeling, but James can’t respond as he’s too busy trying to shrug off the beam shots. Seeing Dolores’ unwillingness to attack, Yans thinks it’s due to James amateur skills and moves in to strike with the Raptor’s beam swords. Dolores transforms both her arms into swords and counters each blow from the Raptor, as the resonance continues to grow in strength. Yans demands James hand over Dolores, and James recognizes the voice as the same guy that killed the UN inspectors and framed him. As the fight continues, the resonance grows more and more, and Dolores’ cockpit starts to short out. James asks what’s going on, but Dolores doesn’t hear him. She sees a blurry image of the orbital frame Idolo and wonders what it is. James asks what Dolores is talking about, but the cockpit controls freeze and Yans maneuvers the Raptor behind Dolores. Using the Raptor’s whip like arms, he puts Dolores in a choke hold with the right arm around her neck and the left arm under her left shoulder. James orders Dolores to break off, but she’s still in a trance, and the image of Idolo begins to clear a little. Yans gloats at his success and whips the left arm around Dolores’ torso, bringing it down to impale the cockpit. Dolores again wonders what the image she’s seeing is, when everything goes all white. She grabs the Raptor’s arm just before it strikes the cockpit, just as the cockpit shuts down entirely. James yells at Dolores to get ahold of herself, but she doesn’t respond. Dolores’ systems reactivate, and status display windows activate all over the cockpit. A robotic voice that sounds similar to Dolores’ asks for James to input an interaction command, but James exclaims Dolores’ name. The voice cannot identify James, and thus switches to full automatic control. A strange energy overtakes Dolores and her armor transforms into a more battle-oriented design. Her arms, shoulders and legs broaden, a whip-like tail releases from her back, a black crown-like assembly forms on the back of her head and her visor extends into a wedge, revealing the orbital frame Isis. Yans is confused at Isis’ appearance, and tries to break off, but Isis reaches up to the arm wrapped around her neck and pulls it off, ripping it from the main body. She then cuts off the other arm as well, then twisting around and kicking the Raptor away. Isis reports that the Raptor’s combat capability has dropped below 30 percent, and she will proceed to eliminate the target, much to James’ shock. It activates both arm swords and dashes at the Raptor, cutting off its left leg, and then swinging around for another pass. Yans realizes that this is the true orbital frame Isis and uses the Raptor’s torso beam cannons as boosters to fly back from her assault. Isis increases her speed and pursues the Raptor, catching up to it. In the cockpit, James is hammered by the G-forces caused by Isis’ increased dash, and he wonders what caused Dolores to turn like this. Meanwhile, a pair of UNSF Phantomas detect Isis and the Raptor while on patrol, and they move into intercept. One of the Phantoma pilots sees that both frames are heading to the abandoned satellite TH9. As the Raptor approaches TH9, Yans hacks into the satellite’s computer and gains control of its defense systems. Isis continues its run at the Raptor, increasing power to its arm swords in case the Raptor activates its energy shield. Before Isis can strike, Yans de-activates the Raptor’s wing binders and lets Isis pass over, making her fly next to the satellite. The satellite’s proximity defense system goes off and it launches wires at Isis, eventually binding her. Yans then has the satellite self-destruct, activating his Raptor’s blast chute to deflect the coming shockwave. The explosion overtakes Isis and the pursuing Phantomas, and the shockwaves hit the Future. Noel tries to contact James, but Leon stops her, since they’re closing in on Central Station. He sees more Phantomas coming out to intercept them, so Noel decides it’s time to abandon the Future and float the rest of the way. The three (including Pete, who’s tucked in Noel’s space suit) make their way to the Future’s escape hatch. Leon is adamant about jumping out into space, claiming he can’t swim, to which Noel says he doesn’t have to worry about drowning. Leon once again gripes that because of James things had to be like this, and Noel pushes off with Leon in tow on an air tube between the two. As they drift out into space, they watch as the Phantomas firing laser cannons and destroy the Future. Fortunately, a UNSF patrol cruiser flies just under them en route to Central Station and they grab onto the ship’s hull. Meanwhile, with the explosion subsided, Yans breaks the blast chute off the Raptor. He estimates that the damage is over 65 percent, and he reports to an unknown source that he’ll have to store the Raptor and track down Isis himself. He then takes off his glasses and looks out in space, thinking that Isis’ runner couldn’t have survived, as the Raptor floats toward a BAHRAM stealth cruiser.

 

In Central Station, at a local phone booth, Leon attempts to connect his computer to the UNSF’s network to find out what happened to James and Dolores, but he’s unable to from his location. He gripes at how James got mixed up in the explosion, and Noel tells him not to say such unlucky things. She suggests that they go to Mary’s, and Leon agrees, saying he’ll have an easier time hacking into the UNSF’s network if he can relax a little. A police car drives by with its siren on, and they run as it passes, going down an alleyway. They find Mary’s, but it’s closed. They enter anyway, and they meet up with Mary: a portly woman who seems to have had better days. She tells them to leave, but a breaking news report flashes on her TV, which displays the mug shots of the James, Leon and Noel while reporting that they were shot down on the Future. Mary easily recognizes James Links’ children from the mug shots. Meanwhile, on an elevator train, Baan listens to Sameggi’s report on “John Carter’s” death while he files his nails. He asks Sameggi if “John’s” body had been recovered, and Sameggi tells him it hasn’t. However, he explains that since “John” was in an explosion that was over one kilometer in diameter, they estimate that his body vaporized along with his machine. Baan smiles and says it’s a fitting end for a criminal, and Sameggi continues his report, that the UNSF had recovered the Future’s flight recorder, but they lost five LEVs (three to the Raptor and two in the explosion). Baan then asks about “John’s” children, and Sameggi tells him they suspect they entered Central Station. Baan’s smirk increases as he thinks “John” is bragging in Hell that he saved his children, and then orders an investigation in Central Station, claiming that it’s disgusting to let Martians wander about. At Mary’s, Leon, Noel and Mary watch one of the Phantoma’s flight recorders over Leon’s computer, which shows Isis bound around TH9 when the satellite self-destructed. Leon sees that Dolores’ flight path, as well as distance and flight time all coincided with the explosion, but Noel still doesn’t believe him. Mary fakes crying at James’ quick end, claiming that he had more courage than most people in the current era, and Noel tries to explain that her father wouldn’t die like that. As she continues to weep, she pulls out James’ bar tab from her pocket, and explains to the shocked siblings that he wouldn’t be able to rest in Heaven without that being paid off. Later on, she counts the money that Noel and Leon paid which rounds out to five hundred dollars between them, when she sees their wanted poster in her desk. Pete glares at her and wanders back over to Noel, and Leon asks what they’re going to do now. Once again, he curses James for getting a warrant stuck on him and how to the end he screwed up his life, and Noel tells him they’re going to look for James. He groans and again tells her he died, then starts to break down at how he ended up in cruddy bar, cops looking all over for them, and that he’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison. Pete then hears something moving, and jumps out of Noel’s arms, walking to the main area of the bar. Noel and Leon then realize what Pete heard, and Noel grabs the cat while Leon opens a window. At the entrance to Mary’s, two SWAT troopers launch a tear gas grenade into the bar and enter it, but they see that the Links siblings both escaped through a window out the back and into a canal. Both Leon and Noel are caught in the current and continue to drift down into the depths of Central Station. In another area, James once again has a dream of his younger days, where he’s playing with Leon and Noel in a field outside their house when Rachel comes out and waves at them. He awakens to Dolores’ voice, and sees that they made it. Dolores agrees, but she still took severe damage from the explosion, and the two are now drifting toward Central Station. James asks if she’s alright, and Dolores laughs and explains that this is the first time she got to talk to him without any hold backs. She asks that James talk to her otherwise she may disappear, and James tells her to get ahold of herself. Dolores asks about Rachel, the person that created her, and the important person in James’ life. James sighs and says he hasn’t forgotten her, but to this day those memories torment him. He remembers their wedding and explains to Dolores that they met more than twenty years ago, and that he fell in love with her at first sight, which was his walking past her at a UNSF base on Mars. At that time, James was in the UNSF and Rachel was a researcher working for BAHRAM, and because of that Rachel didn’t really notice him at first. He explains that Rachel was afraid of the difference between Earthlings and Martians, but James says he doesn’t really care about that. He then tells that after Leon and Noel were born, Rachel had quit her job so they could have a family together on Earth. However, as the relationship between Earth and Mars got more conflicted, Rachel started to break away from their family. He continues that Rachel was an elite researcher in BAHRAM, and she wanted to benefit her home planet with that research. Because of the schism between Earth and Mars though, she left James their children because she thought they’d be better off as Earthlings. Because of that, Leon and Noel hated him for letting her go. Then in 2167, after the Deimos Incident, James got a death notice on Rachel just as he was about to leave the military to bring her back home. At first he didn’t believe it, and he remembers breaking through a crowd of people to get the notice confirmed. Because of that, Leon and Noel left their home to pursue their own lives, and James became a cargo hauler that flew around the Sol System. At first he thought he’d run into Rachel somewhere or find his children the way they used to be, but as time past, that dream began to fade. Back to the present, Dolores enters a docking area and crash lands. James wants to know if she’s alright, and Dolores explains she’s sleepy, before fading out. James tries to get her to wake up, but to no avail, so he floats out of the cockpit and is shocked at the damage Dolores had taken. He promises Dolores that he’ll do something, and then floats to an access hatch to Central Station. In the sewers of Central Station, Leon and Noel have become separated and both now wander around to find each other. Leon is pursued by the police in a waste dump, and surrenders himself when they start shooting at him. Just as he’s about to be arrested, Yans appears and kills the policeman with a sword, claiming that he’s come to save Leon while smiling sadistically. As well, James makes his way to Mary’s, thinking that he’ll see Leon and Noel there, but before he can enter, he’s knocked out by Bashiriko Basilisk. In the docking bay, as her armor fragments begin to break apart from her body, Dolores sings Rachel’s song to herself as she fades out. With the light reflecting off her optic visor, it looks as though a tear has come out of her eye.

 

Commentary

 

After just getting back into space, the Links family make their way into Central Station, thus taking another major step in their journey. The first thing we see in this episode is the source of many a major headache to ZOE gamers: the Raptor. Mobile Suit Gundam’s Principality of Zeon has the Zaku II, Star Wars’ Galactic Empire has the TIE Fighter, and ZOE’s BAHRAM has the Raptor. That being said, it’s somewhat strange to see just one Raptor instead of an entire swarm like I’m used to, but the desired effect is accomplished. Compared to the normal drone Raptor, this one is manned and it comes equipped with quad beam cannons on its spinal cord. In the hands of the Yans, it’s quite a venerable machine. Yans takes down three Phantomas single-handedly and then fights Dolores, keeping the upper hand for a while. Speaking of, Dolores doesn’t do well in this episode, but it’s understandable. Unlike Idolo or Jehuty, Dolores isn’t exactly a combat machine, and since this is the first time she’s come across another orbital frame, she wasn’t exactly prepared to fight. Meanwhile, the mystery behind Isis is revealed and with explosive results. It seems Isis is Dolores’ true form as an orbital frame, the weapon she was designed to be compared to the being she has become. And I must say, Isis is quite impressive, and it’s a shame Dolores can’t control that half of herself. If Yans hadn’t been so clever, there’d be no doubt that Isis would have killed him and perhaps the pursuing Phantomas, thus adding more names to James’ apparent death list. It’ll be interesting to see how Dolores will play out when dealing with her darker side. But there’s still question left unanswered: why did Dolores see an image of Idolo before she turned into Isis? Besides the fact they were both made by the same designer (Rachel Links), there’s a four-five year gap between the two frames, so there isn’t any obvious connection. We’ll just have to wait and hope further down that this is explained. Besides that, we get to see what really happened to James and Rachel. Up till now, we’ve only seen brief flashbacks from James, Leon and Noel’s points of view, but here we get a full explanation. Whereas earlier accounts we see Rachel leave to pursue her career as a scientist, it’s explained in this episode that she just wanted to help Mars stand up for itself against the big bully Earth, and she was willing to leave her family for it. Of course, we know how that played out (see Idolo OVA), and in the end she did more harm than good. Because of her, the Links family broke up, even though the blame was placed on James, and soon weapons like Anubis will rain destruction on mankind. The Links family has made quite a feat getting into Central Station, but for now, their progress ends with a cliffhanger. Noel and Petronius are still lost in the sewers of Central Station, Leon’s life is in the hands of the Yans that tried to kill James (again), Dolores is damaged beyond human capable repair and James himself has been taken in by Bashiriko Basilisk, the leader of the mafia’s branch on Mars. Of course, being only episode five in a twenty six episode series, it’s quite obvious that they’ll get out of this. We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

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Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

4 out of 5 stars
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ZOE Dolores, i Episode 5 ZOE Dolores, i Episode 5

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