In 2014, aliens known as the Peddlers arrive on Earth and announce that for each 1,000 kg of limestone provided, they will hand over an Exoframe. The Peddlers have no interest in human politics and will provide Exoframes to anyone who can pay the price, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, ideology, or any other discriminator. TV news interviews a construction manager who receives a delivery of an Exoframe after handing over the limestone. In 2015, Bowman mans an APC in Angola and watches as other soldiers set up a portable bridge across a river. He comments to another soldier that even after making first contact with aliens, humanity is still consumed by its own problems. On the opposite bank of the river, farmers use Exoframes to plow fields. They discuss different theories about how the Exoframes work, and Bowman mentions a rumor that piloting one leads to alien brainwashing. Bowman is worried about Exoframes being converted for military use, but the other soldier laughs the idea off as something from Japanese anime. The soldier thinks that an armed Exoframe would be similar to a technical and be useful for local militias, but not a threat to the Marines. Bowman thinks that as military expenses pile up, eventually they’ll have to start using Exoframes. The other soldier dismisses the notion and comments that war is all about money, not fighting for world peace. He asks what profit there is in buying from Peddlers, and thinks war would be pointless if everyone was scrounging for limestone. Bowman scans the river with binoculars and spots an explosion on the portable bridge. The bridge is rocked by the explosion, causing M1 Abrams tanks to fall into the river. Guerrillas in Exoframes climb onto the bridge and chase after the retreating Abrams tanks. Bowman opens fire on the guerrillas as his APC drives through the river. Several Exoframes emerge from under the water and tip the APC over, but Bowman and the other soldier escape before it explodes. The other guerrillas destroy an Abrams with an RPG and get close enough to mount the Abrams and drop explosives onto them. The skirmish ends with the bridge and multiple tanks and Exoframes destroyed. Bowman crawls out of the river and sees his comrade’s lifeless body floating by. He notices that the Exoframes bear an emblem of a skull with red marks.
This episode provides much needed background information and explains that in 2014, aliens known as the Peddlers came to Earth and offered up Exoframes to anyone willing to give them a ton of limestone. Why limestone, and what do they want it for? These questions aren’t answered, but it is clear that the Peddlers see themselves as mere merchants and have no interest in Earth’s politics or the effects their merchandise could have. We see a younger version of Bowman here, and he’s correct to be worried about military applications for Exoframes, as he discovers firsthand. Although the U.S. military spends a lot of money on its weapons systems, the Peddlers have upset the status quo by offering Exoframes to anyone who can pay. These guerillas show how easy it is now to combat American military power. It’s an interesting dynamic for a mecha series to show.