ZAFT cargo planes land in the desert and unload several heavy artillery mobile suits. Andrew Waltfeld complains about the ZAFT forces at their Gibraltar base sending them these ZuOOTs instead of the BuCUEs he requested. DaCosta says that he was told that Gibraltar couldn't provide any additional BuCUEs, but suggests that Gibraltar might think they're doing them a favor by sending Yzak and Dearka in the Duel and Buster instead. Waltfeld replies that they'll probably only get in the way because they have no combat experience on Earth, and that he could never stand Rau le Creuset, so he dislikes having members of his team hanging around. None the less, he greets them politely when they arrive and welcomes them to the Lesseps, despite Dearka complaining about the desert conditions. He also notes Yzak's scar and points out that it could be seen as a symbol of his commitment. Yzak turns away, prompting Waltfeld to suggest that it's a symbol of his humiliation, instead. Yzak deflects the question by asking for a status report; Waltfeld says that a recon drone has located the Archangel at a resistance base 180 km to the southeast. Dearka asks for information on the engagements they've had with the Strike. Waltfeld recalls his several defeats and tells Dearka that they've done about as well against it as the Le Creuset team did.
At the Desert Dawn base, they're preparing to move out. Rebels load weapons and supplies into jeeps and head out, followed by the Archangel, leaving the women, children, and elderly behind at the base. Kisaka sees Cagalli receiving something from a local woman before they leave, and asks her about it after they're underway. She shows him a rough blue-green stone and tells him that it was something Ahmed had planned to carve into a gift and give to her; Ahmed's mother gave it to her. Kisaka identifies it as a huge chunk of malachite. Cagalli recalls Ahmed's death and her and Kira's conversation with Waltfeld. Fighting back tears, she shouts angrily, calling Waltfeld a piece of trash.
Back on the Lesseps, Waltfeld asks for an update on the Archangel. He's told that they're heading north-northwest, and he identifies their destination as the remains of the Talbadiya factory district, noting that he would do the same thing in their position. He orders the Lesseps to move into position to attack, along with the Petrie and the Henry Carter. Aboard the Archangel, Mu and Kira are eating. Kira just stares at his food, but Mu encourages him to eat, piling more food on his tray, explaining that they both need make sure they have enough energy during battle. Mu says that there's nothing better than fresh local food, and says that the doner kebabs are good with yoghurt sauce. Kira replies that the Tiger told him the same thing. Mu admits that the man must have good taste, but tells Kira to forget about Waltfeld, saying that it's easier to fight if you don't know your enemy personally. That just makes Kira think about Athrun, but before he can reply, the Archangel is rocked by an explosion.
This turns out to be ZAFT forces clearing the landmines that Desert Dawn had placed, marking the start of ZAFT's attack. The Lesseps and the Petrie attack with ZuOOTs and helicopter gunships, while the Henry Carter remains out of sight, hidden from the Archangel. Mu orders both Skygraspers prepared, one with the Launcher striker pack equipped, the other with the Sword striker, because it'll be faster for him to change machines than to reequip the one he's using. He remarks to Kira that they won't be able to rely on the guerillas for help because they're not strong enough. Kira asks him if he knows what a "berserker" is, referring to Waltfeld's term for him when they spoke. Mu explains that a berserkers were mythological warriors who were normal people most of the time, but became crazed rage-fueled warriors in battle. Kira is disturbed by this answer, but before Mu can get to the bottom of what's bothering him, Miri announces over loudspeaker that Mu and Kira are needed at their respective vehicles immediately.
On the bridge, Kuzzey identifies incoming enemy helicopters, as well as an enemy carrier and escort ship farther back. Murrue orders the Archangel to prepare to counterattack, and Natarle has the Strike and Skygrasper launch. Sahib orders the Desert Dawn fighters forward as well, saying that they must get the Tiger this time. The Skygrasper launches with the Launcher striker, while Kira takes the Strike out with the Aile, saying that mobility is more important than firepower against BuCUEs. Kira encounters the enemy attack helicopters as soon as he leaves the Archangel, defending against their guns and rockets with his shield and counterattacking with his head-mounted vulcans. Mu and the Archangel's point defense guns focus on the ZAFT helicopters, while Kira and the rebels move forward to counter the incoming BuCUEs.
In the Lesseps' hanger, Waltfeld and his girlfriend are preparing to sortie in their own custom mobile suit (another BuCUE-style quadruped unit) when Yzak and Dearka approach them. Yzak demands to know why they're being held back with the Lesseps, and Waltfeld calls him out for questioning orders. Yzak says they have more experience against the Strike and the Archangel than Andy does, but his girlfriend counters that losing experience doesn't count. Waltfeld chastises her, calling her Aisha, and explains to Yzak and Dearka that their machines can't keep up with the high-speed BuCUEs, so they'll act as long-range support. Yzak continues to protest, but Dearka stops him, saying they need to follow orders. As they walk away, he tells Yzak that they'll have their chance to fight once the battle begins and the situation gets confused. Andy complains about Yzak's attitude to Aisha as they board their mobile suit, then radios DaCosta to tell him to take command of the Lesseps. With Aisha taking the second seat in the cockpit, Waltfeld launches, identifying his MS as the LaGOWE.
The Archangel continues its attack and a rebel jeep engages a BuCUE, but their weapons have no effect and they're saved by Kira taking out the BuCUE just before it destroys them. The Archangel bridge crew note that the Valiants are overheating, and Natarle requests permission to fire the Lohengrin. Murrue refuses, saying it would do too much damage to the environment and orders they to adjust their weapons' output to manage the heat level instead. A rebel jeep takes out a ZAFT gunship, but is destroyed in turn. Cagalli calls out for several of the dead rebels by name, then turns her attention to attacking a BuCUE. Mu attacks the Petrie, destroying a ZuOOT standing on top of it and damaging its engines with a single shot from the Launcher striker, forcing it to break off its attack. DaCosta notes that the Skygrasper is equipped with a very powerful cannon, but says that the Henry Carter should be in position by now. Kira destroys a trio of BuCUEs in short order, but finds himself recalling Waltfeld's musings on whether you have to destroy your enemies to the last man to win a war.
The Archangel is suddenly attacked from behind by the Henry Carter. Kira attempts to help, but is attacked by Waltfeld in his LaGOWE before he can. The Archangel is forced aground by the Henry Carter's fire. Cagalli sees that it's in trouble and jumps out of her jeep to run toward it, while Kisaka calls after her. The LaGOWE attacks the Strike with beam fire, and Kira notices that it's not a BuCUE, realizing that it must be Waltfeld's personal machine. Waltfeld and Aisha discuss the battle while they fight, Andy piloting and Aisha acting as gunner. Aisha is impressed with Kira's skill, and Andy says that he was even better the other day. Aisha notes that Andy seems happy, but says she can tell it's tough for him because he's fond of Kira. He asks her if she thinks Kira will surrender, but she says there's no chance before resuming the attack. Kira is forced to fight defensively, and is soon running low on power.
The Archangel fires a missile salvo at the Lesseps, but they're intercepted by point defenses, though the Archangel manages to identify the Duel and the Buster on the Lesseps during the attack. Murrue orders the ship to raise altitude and demands to know why the Gottfrieds aren't firing. The pilot says that he's trying, but the ship is caught on something. In the hanger, Murdoch notices Cagalli running for the Skygrasper and yells at her, but she tells him that they can't afford to leave it sitting around unused and launches without permission. She teams up with Mu and attacks the escort ships. Aboard the Lesseps, Dearka complains that his beam cannons don't work as well in atmosphere, and Yzak finally gets fed up and charges forward. Waltfeld keeps Kira on defense while Yzak struggles with the desert sand. Cagalli uses the Sword striker's rocket anchor and anti-ship sword to make a tight turn around one of the escort ships' bridge, destroying several of its gun turrets in the process, but she's hit as she's flying away is forced to do an emergency landing. Dearka fires at the Archangel, but misses and destroys the debris that was holding them down instead. Now free to maneuver, it attacks the Lesseps, destroying a ZuOOT and a gun turret. Dearka is forced to jump off its deck to avoid being hit as well.
Seeing the tide of the battle begin to turn, Andy and Aisha begin to attack Kira more aggressively. He manages to take out one of the LaGOWE's legs, but its return shot destroys his beam rifle. In a melee exchange, Kira destroys the LaGOWE's cannon, but loses one of Aile's wings in the process. The Archangel's continued attacks cause serious damage to the Lesseps, while Desert Dawn keeps Yzak busy and Dearka struggles through the sand to reposition himself. Waltfeld orders DaCosta to cut their losses and retreat back to Banadiya, then inform Gibraltar what happened. He also orders Aisha to abandon the LaGOWE and retreat as well, but she refuses, and the two of them move in to attack Kira again. Kira begs them to surrender, saying that they've already lost the battle, but they press the attack and destroy the Aile's other wing. The Strike reaches critical power and its beam saber and phase shift armor shut down, but damage to the LaGOWE's cannon from earlier in the battle causes Aisha's cockpit console to explode. Waltfeld yells that he's not giving up until one of them is destroyed, and goes in for the kill. Kira's SEED mode activates; he jettisons the damaged Aile, drops his shield, and pulls out the Strike's combat knife. Meeting Andy's charge head on, he stabs the LaGOWE just behind the cockpit right before it hits him and sends the Strike flying. In the LaGOWE's cockpit, Andy and Aisha embrace just before the LaGOWE explodes. Seeing the explosion from inside the Strike, a tearful Kira screams that he didn't want it to end like this.
Tropes used in this episode:
- Ace Custom: Andy's LaGOWE is essentially an upgraded BuCUE, with extra thrusters and a back-mounted beam cannon instead of the BuCUE's interchangeable missile pod or twin rail guns.
- Guy in Back: Aisha to Andy in the LaGOWE. As gunner to Andy's pilot, she actually takes the front seat, similar to how attack helicopters are set up.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Andy could have retreated or surrendered instead of trying to finish off the Strike, but he refuses to. He even seems to know that he's throwing his life away, given his orders to DaCosta and his (briefly) trying to get Aisha to leave as well.
- Tender Tears: Kira at the end of the episode, after being forced to kill people again.
- Theme Naming: ZAFT ships appear to be named for scientists. The Petrie is likely named for Flinders Petrie, a pioneer of modern archeology, while the Henry Carter probably refers to Henry Vandyke Carter, and anatomist and artist most notable for doing the illustrations in Gray's Anatomy, a famous anatomy textbook. The Lesseps itself is the namesake of Ferdinand de Lesseps, the man who developed the Suez Canal.
- Tragic Keepsake: The chunk of raw malachite that Ahmed's mother gives to Cagalli acts as one.