In 2016, child soldiers pilot armed Exoframes in a war-torn city in Sub-Saharan Africa surveilled overhead by drones. The children are spotted by a drone and come under fire, with several units destroyed. A boy named Jamal abandons his damaged Exoframe and gets into another one in better condition. As more children are killed in blasts, he tells another pilot named Kayira to join him as they attempt to escape. Several other children run into an open space and trigger several mines, setting off an explosion. Jamal wonders what this war is even about and why he’s being forced to fight in it. After the smoke clears, Jamal is surprised to notice that the fighting has stopped. Kayira hears several tanks approaching, and one of them opens fire and hits two Exoframes. Jamal and Kayira want to escape, but one of the wounded children grabs onto her Exoframe and tells her to keep fighting. She then abandons her Exoframe and jumps onto Jamal’s. Jamal spots a tank and several soldiers nearby, and it turns its turret to face him. However, it is then hit by an incoming missile and explodes, allowing Jamal and Kayira to escape. A pilot named Zahir watches from atop a building and snipes one of the drones. Later, a commanding officer yells at the children for retreating, and Jamal flippantly asks what they can do against a tank. The commander then hits Jamal and calls the children parasites while waving a gun in their faces. The commander demands to know what’s with the angry look on Jamal’s face and points the gun at his head. Zahir strolls into the camp and notes its lack of security, telling the commander that if it had been an enemy, he’d already be dead. Zahir identifies himself as a military advisor sent by the Central Committee to take command of this unit. The commander refuses to accept this, and Zahir tells him that he’s incompetent and not fit to command. Additionally, he’s suspected of killing civilians and engaging in looting and embezzlement. The commander counters that everyone does it, so Zahir takes that as a confession and executes him with a gun. Zahir addresses the children and says he only wants soldiers with the will to fight, so those who don’t can leave. Jamal asks where worthless parasites like them can go, and Zahir answers that they all have power, but don’t know how to use it. He explains that with Exoframes there are no adults or children, and he can train them into being real soldiers who change the world rather than submitting to it. Jamal and the other children step forward and salute Zahir. Jamal realizes he’d never been taught to salute, but somehow knew how to do it instinctively.
This episode, set in Africa in 2016, tackles another real world issue: child soldiers. It’s a long running and detestable practice, and in this world it hasn’t changed at all with the introduction of Exoframes. Jamal and his comrades are all being forced to fight in a war using Exoframes equipped only with a basic cockpit frame and camouflaged canvas. Their lives mean nothing, and their corrupt commander doesn’t care at all if they die. He gets exactly what he deserves from Zahir, because anyone who would force children to fight in war is evil – no exceptions. Zahir’s comments about power demonstrate again how Exoframes have completely upended the status quo and given people in the Global South the power to fight against imperialist nations. At this point, just two years after the appearance of the Peddlers, it’s clear there’s no turning back to how the world was before.