In the middle of a sandstorm, Dolores treks through the desert while carrying the Links’ re-entry pod. She asks James how long they have to move through the storm, to which James explains it’s the best way to move forward without being detected. He states it’s only ninety kilometers from the town of Exsaton, and that when night falls the air temperature will drop below freezing, so it’s best that they hurry. Then Dolores detects an installation surrounded by windmills, which James explains was made for wind power generation. Dolores reflects that it’s like a grave. Just then the wind blows over a sand dune and uncovers a jeep with a skeleton in the driver’s seat. As a result, Dolores sees an image of the Links as skeletons and freaks out. Meanwhile in Vascilia, BAHRAM holds a military parade to an enthusiastic crowd, which includes Raptors performing acrobatic maneuvers. General Rutger Tyushiaa gives a speech about the recent Antilia Raid, claiming that the colony has been liberated from the UNSF. Away from the crowds, Sir Yan and a man named Napth Pleminger listen to Rutger’s speech with interest. Later, a banquet is held for BAHRAM and Vascilia leaders, to which Rutger talks with several politicians about Antilia and other matters. One Vascilia parliament member protests the General’s actions, claiming he’s only pitting Vascilia against the Earth. At that point, Napth makes his entrance and counters the politician’s statement that BAHRAM is the hope for all of Mars. The politician denounces Napth’s statement, wondering how a mere arms dealer from Nereidum United Technologies (NUT) Ltd. could think Mars is a match for Earth. Napth then points out Mars has the “power of magic,” and then reveals his prosthetic Metatron right arm. He uses the Metatron to cause the politician’s wine glass to bubble, as well as the lights in the room to flicker to prove his point. Napth claims that with Metatron in the hands of BAHRAM, Earth is insignificant. In another room, Napth shows Rutger a vase containing butterfly orchids, which Napth claims to have acquired from Earth. Napth then asks the General if acquiring support for BAHRAM was difficult, since the Rutger has many conflicts with the moderate factions of parliament. Rutger states it’s always the same, and that they might as well have BAHRAM destroy Antilia since they failed to acquire the orbital frame Jehuty. Rutger then changes the subject and informs Napth that Isis had been detected over the sea of Kimeria, and that he’s surprised James Links managed to get it all the way to Mars. Napth reflects that James is looking to rescue his wife, which he understands his feelings for. Rutger wonders about the frame they are going to replace Isis with, which Napth explains it’s taking longer than expected but should be completed on schedule. Napth also explains to Rutger that in the interest of saving time that he would like to recover Isis. Rutger reminds him the longer he takes, there more chances that the UNSF would uncover their operation, and that although BAHRAM can’t officially back Napth, they will support him as much as possible. Later, Napth and Sir Yan are walking down a hall, and Yan informs Napth that his unit has been reformed. Napth says that he’s changing the plan and that he would like the Yans to divert attention from the Vascilian parliament’s moderate faction. He also explains that the hunt for Isis will be turned over to Sorbek, which Napth commands personally. Napth then enters an elevator which is guarded by the Yan that tracked James to Kudoshu, and Sir Yan informs him that he is no longer to pursue Isis. The Yan complains and demands to continue, but Sir Yan denies it. As Sir Yan starts to turn away, the Yan pulls a gun out and points it at him. Yan states that ever since childhood his brother was too soft, to which Sir Yan retorts ever since they shared the same face he thought the Yan would have been prepared. Remembering the moment he cut down his brother’s frame, the Yan points the gun at his own head and fires, but his skin deflects the bullet. Sir Yan berates him for his incompetence and aims a wrist gun at the Yan. However, the Yan manages to produce a smokescreen and escapes. Elsewhere in the Martian sky, a zeppelin flies over the area where Dolores had been detected. In the cockpit of her AlterNeith, Rebecca Hunter goes through the launching procedures for her frame, then taking off a moment later with two other AlterNeiths. Sometime later, the Links family has finally made it to Exsaton, which now appears abandoned. James states that the last time he was here it wasn’t like this. They enter the sphere and wander into a massive cornfield. James explains to Noel and Leon that since the gravity is weaker on Mars, corn grows much bigger than on Earth. A dragonfly flies past Noel and Pete jumps out of her arms to chase it, so Noel goes after him. James then orders Leon to look for a car, and Dolores to help Noel look for Pete. James and Leon eventually find a large cargo truck in another part of the sphere, but they end up running into one of Exsaton’s resident farmers before they can take it.
After explaining things, James, Leon, the farmer and his grandson sit down for drinks. James asks the farmer what had happened to Exsaton, to which the farmer states nothing had happened, the people just deserted it as farm life was too hard for them. Leon wonders why since everyone else had left why the two were living in the sphere alone, and the farmer says Leon wouldn’t understand. It’s then James notices two pictures on the wall depicting the farmer’s family, and the farmer gripes that they didn’t leave because they wanted to. When Leon wonders why the parents had left their child behind, the farmer slams his fist and goes on a rant, explaining that many lives had been lost while plowing Mars’ soil, including the grandchild’s parents and that there’s no where else to go. He states that he will give James and co. the truck if they leave immediately. Later, Noel starts the truck’s engine to check if it’s working. James asks where Leon had gone, but Noel doesn’t know. James leaves the truck and finds Leon kneeling in front of the parents’ graves, offering a prayer. Leon wonders how an old man and a child will be able to live alone in such a place. James says he doesn’t know, but towns like this aren’t rare on Mars, as the Earth is constantly sending people to Mars to develop colonization, but when accidents like this happen the UN simply ignores them. Leon thinks that’s horrible, but James says it’s always been like that. A sudden flash of a camera catches their attention, and James and Leon look up to see a reporter named Cindy Fiorentino snapping pictures of them. Leon demands to know what that’s about, and Cindy states that she already has permission from the Kimerian government and promptly shows her ID. Leon notices that she’s with the Gaea Times, an Earth newspaper. Cindy asks Leon to kneel in front of the graves like earlier for another shot, which confuses James and Leon. Annoyed, Cindy offers them money for the shot, but they both turn away and leave. Leon asks what was that about, and James says pitiful Martian stories sell back on Earth. They exit the tunnel to see Dolores playing with the farmer’s now smiling grandchild, as well as using her wires to pick corn. Impressed by Dolores, James and Leon decide to help them for the moment. While working though, Dolores’ Metatron begins to resonate. No more than moments later, the three AlterNeiths shoot a hole into the sphere and fly through it, landing just in front of Dolores. They immediately begin firing beam shots, which Dolores deflects, but the grandchild ends up falling off her shoulder. James tells Leon to run to the other side of the sphere with the farmer and his grandchild and then climbs into Dolores as the AlterNeiths continue their attack. The deflected beam shots end up setting the cornfields on fire, much to the farmer’s anguish. As Leon tries to get the two to safety, he sees Cindy taking more pictures of the battle, so he hands the two off to Noel and runs to get the reporter. Dolores continues to deflect the beam shots with her shield, but James sees they’re at a disadvantage so he orders Dolores to fly outside. Dolores takes off, chased by the three frames. Leon and Cindy manage to get to the truck, but before they get in Leon sees the farmer and kid walking away. He argues with them to get into the truck and escape, but the farmer retorts him all the while Cindy shoots photos. Seeing it’s useless, Leon takes some bread from the kid and runs back to the truck with Cindy in tow. Outside, Dolores dodges fire from the AlterNeiths, while in the truck Leon thinks of the farmer’s words while eating the bread loaf. Evading the enemy frames, Dolores flies into a nearby forest, but they still keep up. One of the AlterNeiths corners Dolores and extends its arm blade, but Dolores throws a piece of wood into the frame’s head and takes off while firing her own beam shots. The resulting shockwaves end up knocking down trees, two of which land on top of the other AlterNeiths. In the open sky, the remaining AlterNeith flies after Dolores, charging energy for a burst attack. James is amazed at the enemy’s power, but Dolores says she can do it too and begins charging energy for her own burst. They both throw their bursts into the other, causing a great a explosion that knocks each orbital frame out of the sky. Dolores lands nearby, the shock doing no damage but taking the fight out of her. After seeing she’s okay, James climbs out of the cockpit and goes over to the damaged AlterNeith, which had fell nearby. James opens the AlterNeith’s cockpit, and is shocked to see that the enemy runner is a young girl.
This episode marks the halfway point of the series, and as such a lot of things happen, namely the shift toward the main plot. This episode takes place right after the Antilia Raid, which was depicted in the first Zone of the Enders game, with both Antilia and Jehuty being mentioned. As such, BAHRAM is now a full army rather than the small resistance movement it was depicted as in Idolo, or at least enough that they can hold a military parade over. New characters are introduced as well, the main one being Napth Pleminger, a representative of NUT Ltd. (which fans will recognize as the “giant corporation” of the ZOE universe) and the primary force of everything that’s been conspired around Dolores. Before he was simply a silhouette that spoke to the Yans indirectly from a black sedan, but now we see his real face, and obviously there’s going to be more to him as the series continues. Besides Napth, we’re also introduced to Rutger Tyushiaa, the commander-in-chief of BAHRAM complete with rousing charisma and a love for speeches, and Cindy Fiorentino, an Earth reporter who will be traveling with the Links’ from this point on while serving as a love interest for Leon. And once more, new orbital frames make an appearance, this time the AlterNeith, which appears to be a production version of the first ZOE’s Neith. They’re certainly powerful, or at least well above the average Raptor, but even they don’t seem to be a match for James and Dolores. I guess it’s to be expected, since their runners are inexperienced children (another mecha series staple) and both James and Dolores have gotten more adjusted to fighting orbital frames. And speaking of mecha staples, the BAHRAM logo looks suspiciously like the Principality of Zeon’s trademark cross from Mobile Suit Gundam. Those seem to be common among bad guy groups these days.