The Let's Play Archive

Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars

by Scintilla

Part 18: Episode 18 - Dark Half

Chapter Eighteen: Dark Half

Music: Intermission

Hello again. This time our pit-stop at the Garage is going to be focused on weapon upgrades.

Yukito is the recipient this time, receiving upgrades to all his weapons including the handgun, which has proven more useful than I anticipated in finishing off wounded foes. With that done, let’s see how our heroes are getting along.

Music: Strategy Explanation

:...It looks as though the camouflage is effective against the surveillance satellite...But to be on the safe side, I would suggest laying low for another five hours or so.

: I never thought there were ways to get around surveillance units...

: *Giggle* Don't tell anyone. It's an insider secret.

: Of course not! Besides, I don't think that anybody else could do this if they tried. (But... What do we do if Myona is looking for us...I hope she can find us...Where is she...?)

Just then Semyl comes in.

: What, Semyl? Why are you so flustered...You looked like Phil just now.

Music: Tension

: WHAT?!

: What did you just say?! Is it him?

: O-Okay! I'll be right there! (Ares... Ares is alive!!)

Cage runs over to the Strategy Room…

Music: Tragedy

:…our blood, sweat, and tears...and they have the nerve to snatch away our rights and violate us! We cannot let this go any further! Pick up your guns! Fight with us! Freedom to Mars!!

: Freedom to Mars!

: Freedom to Mars!

Looks like those of you who predicted Ares wasn’t dead and would eventually come back were right on the money. Though to be honest it was kind of obvious.

: Right? I just don't get it!

:...He calls himself Vale Shatner. He's the leader of the armed civilian group fighting for Mars' independence.

: Vale Shatner? I don't know, man, he looks just like Ares to me!

: There's no mistake...That's Ares! But...Ares being behind the riots...? Why...?

:…make sense that they would know about the placement of the radar.

: Stop! We can't be sure just yet...

The discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Phil.

Music: Danger

:…patrol the area!

: They're still not back?! They left a while ago, didn't they?

: That idiot...Why now?


: It's routine for Razma to meander, but if Warren was with him...

: So Phil, Warren went with him because he was worried...Right?

: Yes, that is the case.

: Phil, Razma went to check out the 'abnormal radar reaction' that you detected, right?

: Yes, since there is a possibility that it was coming from the stealth frames...

: Okay, something may have happened. Let's go and find them.

: But...No, you're right. I may do more harm than good...Fine. OK. I will stay here, and find out as much as I can about Ares.

: Sounds like a plan. (If something happens to him again, who'll listen to all my complaining?)

: I'll take the Edge.

: What are you saying! That is too dangerous...!

: Oh? I never took you to be a chauvinist. If you tie her down too much, she'll dump you, you know.

: *Giggle* It'll be fine. I'm hardly the type to act impulsively, unlike someone else I know. I'm worried about those two, so let's go!


This should read ‘Dark Half’.

Music: Counterattack

: Nobody’s here…let’s search the entire area!


: Cage, I have no idea what Ares is trying to do. But if, hypothetically, you’re placed in a situation where you need to fight him…could you do it?

: I don’t know…for now I’m just happy he’s still alive.

: Yes. Thank you!

: Now, we have to find those two…

: Razmaaaa!! How about responding, idiottttt!!

: Wait, Phil!

Phil’s unit vanishes from the field. Boy, I sure do hope I don’t have to pull his butt out of the fire later.

: There he goes…I hope he’ll be okay…

Two enemy frames spawn in.

: Those are…stealth frames!

: Tsk! Caught by the sonar…Guess we got too close.

: You…you must be one of the ones who took our hideout from us!

: ‘The other two’? So you have Mr. Warren and Razma? Where did you put them?

: (And who is ‘Him’? Could it be…)

Three odd-looking frames appear behind the two LEV’s.

: What are those frames? They’re floating…

: If you want to know about your friends you’ll have to destroy us first. Go! Raptors!

: Oh yeah? Well I guess I’ll just have to take you up on that suggestion!

: Cage, please be careful! I detect that unseen enemies are lurking nearby!

: No worries, we have the Anti-Stealth Sonar. Do the same thing as last time. Are you ready?

And thus we gain control of the battlefield.

Player Phase Music: Counterattack
Enemy Phase Music: Impact

Mission Map:

This mission takes place on a pretty small map, but don’t let that fool you; things are going to heat up very quickly. First of all let’s check out the new enemies.

These unmanned Orbital Frames are the Raptors, and should be familiar to veterans of the Zone of the Enders series. They showed up in the first game as fairly basic enemies and could be crushed fairly easily by Jehuty, but they’re a bit tougher in Fist of Mars. For one thing they have more health and energy than standard enemy LEV’s, they can fly over rough terrain and their attacks are far more damaging than the Beam Guns and other small arms we’re used to. Their basic attack uses only 2 energy, and their ranged attack can be used 20 times before its supply of ammunition runs out.

Also we have Robin as the pilot of the Edge now. She’s about 6 or 7 levels lower than our other pilots, which is a shame. Anyhow, some of our units are in range of the enemy, so let’s get started…

I figure I may as well put Semyl’s other Booster to good use at this point.

We can actually take out both of these guys without them being able to fire a shot, but it does leave us open to the Raptors.

Cage scores a lucky critical and dispatches the enemy in one hit, but even if he hadn’t the Vjaya would have finished him off anyway.

I move everyone else up into a rough line, making sure that the Edge is shielded from direct harm.

The Caliburnus is a very slow LEV, but that hit rating is what I’d expect from a Boss unit.

Raptors do not screw around, and I wind up taking a hit.

So yeah, these new enemies are pretty dangerous, particularly if you’re not using IAS.

A second Raptor also tries his luck, but I get lucky and manage to evade him.

Even our nimblest mech has only a 35% chance to dodge. Thankfully we aren’t facing Raptors in large numbers…yet.

Owww. Anyway, the next turn begins with a scene.

An odd keening sound rings out, the same one that Myona kept hearing back when she was still with us. This scene is pretty important so I won’t be saying anything until it’s finished.

: (What’s that sound?)

Music: Uncontrollable Fear


: Wh-who’s there?!

: (That’s…I’ve seen it before! No, please…don’t let it be…the Black Frame!)

: *Cackle* Long time no see!

: Oh no…that voice…!

:…this, didn’t you?

: Ar…es…! Is it really you?!

: Testament…you have no use for that Frame. Hand it over.

:…mistake, isn’t it?

: ‘Believe in me’? *Cackle* You say some funny things sometimes. All of you did exactly as I wanted…I should probably thank you before I crush all of you.

: S-so the Ares on TV…That’s the real Ares?!

: It’s so typical of you to only realise now, when it no longer makes any difference.

:…Ares is my friend. You said that you were my friend! So that was all a lie?! All of it…it was all an act?!

: Yeah. Haven’t you figured it out yet? I was the one who directed Iblis and sank the Bonaparte!

: No...!

:…and Mars. When I found out, I changed my name to Ares and jumped at the chance to expose Zephyrs’ crimes…and to exact my revenge upon him!

: Revenge…?

:…Yeah. It would be too merciful to simply kill Zephyrs. He needed to suffer…

:…regrets being born! If he hadn’t initiated those demented experiments neither father nor mother would have had to die!

: Neither Pharsti or I would be trapped in these bodies either.

: These bodies? Pharsti? Ares…what are you saying?

: My name is Vale Shatner…well, that’s one of them anyway.

: Subject?! So Zephyrs used you as a subject in his experiments too?!

: Heh. Exactly.

: Ares…your revenge cost the lives of the Bonaparte’s innocent passengers…How many hundreds of lives are you responsible for?! I don’t know what kind of hardships you’ve been through…but that’s the wrong thing to do!

:…it. Besides, the one who added the final touches to the Bonaparte deal was Zephyrs, wasn’t it?

: Anyway, it makes no difference to me how many people died on that ship. Heh heh! You should have died along with the rest of them. It’s too bad…a real shame.

: How can you say that…

:…hurt anyone’ and ‘I want everyone to like me’. Meanwhile you can’t do anything on your own. You make others take responsibility for you!

: You’re buried so deep in your own hypocrisy that you can’t even muster the courage to do anything independently…It’s pure cowardice. Don’t you agree…Philbright?

: Phil! What are you doing? And that frame…what?!

: I’ve quit BIS…From today, I’m working with Ares!

: Why? How come you…why?!

: Why? Because I got sick and tired of being with you! Always making others take responsibility for you, but still getting all the attention and praise. You ate it all right up!

: Ares listened to me. He was interested in what I had to say. He understood me!

: Cage…that’s all there is to it. Give the Animus to Phil.

: Ares, wait! I can’t believe it…I still can’t believe you’re my enemy!

: Heh heh…I guess I’ll just have to make it painfully obvious then! How’s this?


: Go ahead, Phil.

:…As you wish.

: Phil! Don’t do it! You’re not actually going to…Stop!!

: Ugggghhhhhhhh!!!

: Eghghg! Aaaarrrgghhhh!!

: Why don’t you make me?! Prove that you are stronger than me!


: I like that expression. Wish Myona were here to see it.

: Myona? You know where she is? Is Myona okay?!

Ares quits the field.

: Ares!!


: I know…we can’t go after Ares now…we have to rescue those two first…(Phil…I guess there’s no choice.)

: Let’s go, Pharsti.

: The unseen enemies have been very quiet. It seems they are planning on waiting in ambush until somebody arrives.

: Even so, we have to save those two. Proceed cautiously, Pharsti!


That certainly was a showstopper. I’m sure most of you were expecting Ares to come back as an antagonist after how suspiciously he behaved when he was with BIS and the ambiguous nature of his death scene, but Phil? That’s unexpected, right? Well, not really.

The thing is, Phil is that guy. Everybody knows that guy – perhaps you even were that guy. You know, the quiet one in the corner who desperately wants to hang out with the cool kids but is too passive and too unambitious to really keep up with them. The guy nobody really takes seriously, the one who is an easy target for mockery whenever he isn’t being overlooked. Whilst everyone else is out kicking ass in LEV’s and Orbital Frames, Phil is stuck driving a glorified repair truck. His contributions are rarely acknowledged by the others despite the fact that he plays a vital role. In fact literally the first reaction someone has when he appears in the second mission is to berate him for taking so long.

The fact that he looks weak and effeminate doesn’t help. The interesting thing is that if you go back you can actually see Phil’s resentment building up as the story progresses. You can see Ares buttering him up and espousing his talents during the infiltration mission. He gets irritated at Cage when the latter gets torn up over apparently killing Ned and angrily asks why everyone’s being so nice to him. There are a few moments where he frowns silently after Cage leaves the room. It’s one of the things I really love about this game – it’s all foreshadowed rather beautifully.

Ironically enough Phil’s betrayal also means Cage was also right on the money when he accused Phil of being behind Myona’s abduction.

With all that said and done, let’s take a look at Phil’s shiny new Orbital Frame.

Phil’s new ride is the Grafficane, a very nimble frame that comes with all the bells and whistles Orbital Frames usually have. It should be noted that although he has a ranged attack, he will almost never use it, since his movement range is larger than that of said attack and the AI tends to prioritise melee attacks whenever it can. This is actually a bad thing since Gillius is far more deadly than Flame Gale. Even so, Phil isn’t all that threatening since…well…he’s Phil. His piloting skills have barely improved despite him magically gaining six levels.

No, the only hazard to be had from Phil himself is if you don’t make it to him within eleven turns, whereupon he will finish off Razma and Warren and run away, causing a Game Over. Attacking him or baiting him into attacking you will nullify this condition and after that you can take as long as you want whittling him down.

The good thing about Raptors is that they give great experience. Mebius gets a cool 64 for simply damaging one.

Robin meanwhile gets 155, giving her an unconditional level and boosting her halfway to the next one.

The first one falls to Nadia, giving out 800 cash.

OF or not, a huge grenade to the face will wreck your shit.

Semyl also chips in.

If you attack a Raptor with Cage you’ll get a scene.

: An OF?! This?! There are OF’s shaped like this?

: Yes. Please be careful…Even though it is unmanned, an OF is still much more capable than an LEV. Especially this model – it looks to be very agile.

: Okay, but as long as it’s unmanned I can go full force. There’s nothing to hold me back.

: Good point, Cage.

And that’s all for our turn.

Unfortunately my attacks left a gap in my defences that the remaining Raptor used to get to Robin.

Fortunately she just about manages to evade. I’ll get rid of it first thing next turn.

Robin gets 560 experience for that kill.

Moving Mebius west reveals three more Raptors.

Normally I wouldn’t move forwards so recklessly, but I always get paranoid about time limits in video games.

All of the Raptors decide to gang up on Nadia, but it does them little good.

Let’s try out Cage’s upgraded Soulsection attack…

Yep, it’s pretty deadly.

Nadia scores an unnecessary critical and reduces the Raptor to junk metal.

Mebius and Yukito severely damage another Raptor.

Sadly the Edge and Caliburnus are out of range, so the damaged Raptor is free to attack again next turn.

The AI behaves predictably.

Nadia’s response is equally predictable.

The last Raptor goes down, but there are surely more still waiting to jump out at us.

We’re currently on turn five, which gives us six turns to attack Phil.

Three more Raptors appear on the ridge once you move down to where Phil is.

Only one of them is in range of us, though.

Yukito takes a hit but he’ll survive.

Nadia and Mebius make short work of one.

Cage and Robin take down another.

Lastly Yukito does his usual thing of damaging an enemy so they can be finished off next turn.

Ugh, the lack of a repair function is really starting to hurt.

We’re almost there, the Vjaya can be in range of Phil by next turn. First though we need to take care of that Raptor.

Semyl gets lucky and scores a critical hit, taking the Raptor out in one hit.

Next turn will be a reckoning for Phil.

Phil uses his ranged attack since he’s rooted in place for this mission. Not that it does him much good since he’s, y’know, Phil, so his accuracy is atrocious. Once he engages BIS a scene plays.

: A team? That’s funny. You want to know why? Ares isn’t the only one who was using you. Robin was also using BIS for her own purposes.

: What are you talking about?!

: Robin is actually from NUT. In other words, she is an industry spy. We were fighting for Mars, but that was not the case for her! She was only using us so that the rich could collect more money!

: That’s…

: Is it true? Ms. Robin!


: Ms. Robin? Why aren’t you saying anything?

: No…

: *Giggle* A team? There’s no such thing!

Phil wrecks the Durandal II and the Dreizehn, but don’t worry – it doesn’t fail the mission. You only get a Game Over if Phil runs away, which he now won’t do.

: Phil!!

: I no longer want any superficial trust or friendships…All I want to see is skill…Show me…show me what you can do!

You say that, Phil…but you’re making it pretty hard for me to take you seriously…

That attack would have killed Nadia in one hit at her current HP, but Phil’s terrible accuracy spares her.

In addition, when it comes time to attack him most of our units have 100% accuracy against him.

This is what 100% accuracy looks like. It’s literally impossible to miss as long as the target is on the screen.

Phil will run when his HP dips below 20%, so we’ll want to take him out before he reaches that point to grab the delicious 2,000 cash for destroying him outright.

After all of Phil’s raging against Cage it’s only fair that Cage should deliver the final blow.

: Rrgh…this is nothing!

: Phil, haven’t we done enough? Why do we have to fight?

: Quiet! At first I thought I could be friends with you! But I was wrong!

: Why? You didn’t do anything! The only thing you had was a good frame…that’s all! But everyone liked you and praised you…why?!

See what I mean when I say Phil is that guy? He says he wanted to be friends with Cage, but he never made any real effort to talk to him or get to know him better.

: Phil…

: So I’m going to prove it once and for all! I am going to prove my worth, in an OF, just like you!

: I know I’m stronger! Because I’m capable of taking a life!

: Phil! What are you doing?! Stop that at once!

: The radio? Mr. Deckson!

: Mr…Deckson…

:…on too! Stop this stupidity! Now…get out of that frame!

: Deckson…I…I can’t. It’s too late.

: It’s never too late! Once you’ve decided to do something, that’s when it starts. Come on! Come over here!

Said by literally every recurring villain ever.

: Phil!

: Goodbye, Deckson.

Phil moves off the edge of the map and vanishes.

: Ares…Myona…Phil. What is going to become of us?

: Cage, I detect vital signs at the site where Razma and Warren’s frames were located! They should be injured…we must hurry!

: Really?! Okay!

With that, the screen fades out and the mission ends.

Music: Sadness


The Medbay door opens and Semyl rushes in.

: Razma! Razma?! Hey, Ms. Mebius! Is Razma OK?

: He just came in now...I don't know.



:…important to me...)

: Semyl...

: (...?! Er!)

The music fades out…

:...He is.

: Hunh?

: This hand that's on my butt...That's Razma, isn't it?

Music: Conversation with Friends

:...Ms. Mebius, would you be so kind as to hand me that hammer?

: Of course...Do it for me too.

: One...Two...

Semyl hits Razma with Chekov’s Hammer! It’s super effective!

:...It never ends.

: Pops! What, you were playing dead too?

: I just wasn't talking.

Real men don’t die to something as trivial as a point-blank cockpit shot.

:...It's not funny...

:…fell for it.

: You idiot! I was all worried...

: Come on, calm down. Everyone's fine, and...

Semyl hits Razma with Chekov’s Hammer again! It’s still super effective!


:…else was placed in danger! And then you...You idiot!


: You got nothin' to say?!


: Why you all quiet?!

: Huh? What you talkin' 'bout?

: Don't pretend you don't know...What, you think I don't know that you have a crush on him?

: Wh, Huh?!?

:...I guess it's because he's the atypically sensitive male that he has all these misunderstandings, and that he's prone to run after anything in a skirt.

: You thought I had a thing for Ares?!

: W-well, didn't you...?

: Well, he's good lookin', good eye candy, but I never wanted him as a boyfriend or nothin'....

:...Oh. Well then.

:...Just 'cause.

: Hey, why? Hey. HEY!

:...You know why I'm asking.

: Nope. I don't get it. Tell meeee.

: He's talking to Ms. Robin and the others right now...

:...That's right. We need an explanation as to what Phil was talking about earlier...But...I never thought that he felt that way about you...I'm partly responsible for that.

: Ares...and Phil...I never expected it to be like this.


: Cage, don't sweat it too much. You left once too, but ya came back, you know what I'm sayin'? Maybe Phil and Ares'll change their minds too. You never know 'bout these things.

: (Man... I hope that happens...)

Just then Deckson enters.

Music: Every Day

:...Wait. I'd rather explain myself.

: Ms. O'Connell. I though you were the sole investor of the Robin Foundation. As it turns out, NUT was behind this...were you really trying to trick us?

: Were we your guinea pigs, so you could collect data? Or were you planning on owning us like pets, and manipulating us for the company's profit?


:...Why aren't you saying anything? So it's true...You ARE....

: Aaaaaargh! Quiettttt!

: R-Robin?

: What do you expect from me! Jeez! I do all this for you...The higher-ups caution me, and Mr. Black Frame here gives me attitude...But even then, I did my best! You don't know what I went through! Manipulate you?! How have you been manipulated? You won't listen to a word I have to say anyway! The NUT?? I left them!


: *Sigh*...Yes, it's true...I was an NUT agent...until a few days ago.

:...Tell us everything from the beginning.

: It's not too far from what Mebius said. NUT, or 'Neredium Universal Technology,' as you all probably already know, is the largest manufacturer of LEVs on Mars - a huge conglomerate. You would not believe the number of different sections they have there. I was in the 'Information Department, Section 8.'

: Hey, cool.

:…organization. I was sent there initially because I caused some trouble within the company.

: For the shabbiest part of the organization, they sure gave us a lot of money.

: Expenses for information research don't need to be documented. Besides…

: Besides?

: So, what made you want to help us out?

: Danger Aversion/Prevention Program J-38.

: What is THAT?

: If NUT were a person, it would be a giant. When a body gets that big, its defences against accidents are compromised. Once the brain receives the warning message, you have to wait for the command to act to be given...and in that span of time, a mere scratch could deteriorate so badly as to become a life-threatening wound.

:…kind of like white blood cells.

:...Exactly. J-38 was to NUT what leukocytes or platelets are to the human body...Whenever there was an episode, they would clean things up immediately, and cover the wound if necessary. The Robin Foundation, as well as many other similar groups that have been set up all over Mars, acted as an 'immune system' for the company.

: Ah...So people like you would extend their influence like so, and direct the masses to act in a way profitable to NUT. Even if one of the units made an error, the responsibility would not even reach NUT, and there would be no risk of corporate secrets leaking out into the open. If something happened, they could easily cut that unit off. But until then, anything goes.

: That's not all. We had another role on top of that.

: Precisely. You see the full picture now, don't you? I did collect some data on Testament...but in the end, I didn't get very much. I couldn't get to the point where you would do what I told you to do, and in the end, they ended up spending money on you and didn't get much in return.

: So at that riot the other day...That was why you were acting strange...

: As a Martian company, it is favourable for NUT when anti-terrestrial sentiments are high...That, and also...

: I was curious to see if all of you, who I had already begun to take a personal interest in, would listen to me in that kind of situation...And the result was dismal...

:…as J-38, but as one unit of the Resistance, so she could help our cause.

: But of course, there is no way that these actions would be taken positively. She had failed her duty as an agent, and was being watched. I was enlisted as her chaperone, and I was to look over her actions... but I failed also.

: You too?

:...Yes. The contract that once existed between myself and NUT has been terminated.

:…do want you to believe this: I thoroughly enjoyed being with you... One day, I realized that I felt as if I were one of you. It felt more natural to be 'Robin' than 'Dana,' which is my real name...*Giggle*... It's silly, I know. So I left NUT. I was able somehow to get this ship to move, but the Robin Foundation has been erased, and I can no longer sponsor you or help in any way. But it's not luck for a woman to make it in the world on her own...I can at least guarantee your safety. So please let me work with all of you...Please.

: We understand your position, and that you are not a liar. It costs us nothing to believe in you for a little longer. All here feel that way.

:...Although we'd rather not have any more surprises like this in the future.

:…in reality, these two helped us out on a number of occasions.

: True dat. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't be standin' here now!

: We owe them before too...

:...Thank you, Razma. Thank you everyone...

: *Giggle*

:...So now that that's settled...Razma, you gonna answer my question, or what? Hey! Come on, spill it!!

: You STILL remembered that? S-stop it! Cut it out!!

: Aah...youth!

: BAHRAM? You mean that Vacilia County is behind this whole Martian movement?

: Yes. Even NUT didn't know about BAHRAM's involvement until just recently. BAHRAM is denying any that's been causing some tension within NUT too. I'll look into it...The Foundation is gone, but I still have my connections. I think I can make it work out!

: OK, things are getting complicated...But we'll disband for now...Get some rest.

: (Ares...Phil...Until just a little while ago, everyone was here together...How did this happen...And Myona...I have to thank you, but...Where are you right now?)

And with that, the episode ends.

A lot happened in this mission despite its small scope. Ares reappears as an antagonist, Phil betrays BIS and joins up with him and we finally learn the truth behind Robin and her mysterious activities earlier on in the story. Anime humour aside, this has been another dark and plot-heavy chapter, but trust me when I say things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. We’ll be seeing why next mission…