At first Scott and his resistance unit are pleased to find a populated town, but when they are commandeered to join a posse in order to track down a human outlaw, the lieutenant has second thoughts. The outlaw's name is Dusty Ayres. The man has murdered his fellow townsfolk in cold blood. His movements and motives are unpredictable, and Scott has no desire to risk his carefully nurtured army capturing such a dangerous man. Still, it would seem that they have no choice but to help. The group splits up into teams to cover the surrounding territory.
Rook and Rand run into an Invid patrol and are helped by a mysterious man. After the fight, Rook bandages their deliverer's wounds and notices an unusual prosthesis on his right arm. The stranger offers a bitter explanation of his metal arm: "This is a perfect example of the Invid's evil – of how men can be evil to one another. The Invid used the right side of my body to experiment on, but what was worse was that my friends stood by and did nothing to stop them. They made no attempt to save me from the horrible pain. They could have rescued me. It would have been easy – but they didn't."
The two rebels begin to understand why the newcomer seems so unfriendly, why he places so little trust in his fellow man. They take their leave and head back to town. Rook is sympathetic toward the stranger, but Rand feels suspicious. The Invid ran as soon as they saw him. It's the first time the aliens have shown that kind of fear toward any human being.
Rand and Rook meet the rest of their friends. A member of the posse has found a picture of Dusty Ayres. Somehow the two are not surprised to see a photograph of the man they just met. Rook Bartley is more disturbed by this news than she thought possible and sets off on her own to find the killer. There are answers she must have.
Rook finds Dusty. A soon as he sees her face, he guesses that she knows who he is. He promises to tell her the truth behind the killings as long as she swears to keep the story to herself.
"Look closely," Dusty begins. "I'm only half human – my whole right side has been replaced. Remember when you saw my arm? That was only where the Invid began their experiments. Apparently, the aliens were studying the functions of my body... trying to get data on the process of human evolution. Piece by piece they replaced my entire right side with protoculture-generated prostheses and organs. The experiment was done without anesthesia.... It was more painful than you could ever imagine."
Rook is shaken. "What about your friends?"
"Ahhh...now you bring me to the part about my friends," Dusty continues. "They stood there and watched when I was captured and never made an attempt to rescue me. They left me to die! But now, they're the ones who are dying. Each mark on this metal arm is a name I'd just as soon forget, but I can't until I've finished every one of them."
Rook understands his need for revenge. She knows what it is like to feel betrayed by friends. Dusty's experiences are more terrible than any she has known. As Dusty begins to leave, they receive a frantic call from Rand. The unit is surrounded by Invid. They need help. Rook and Dusty hurry to their rescue.
During the ensuing battle with the aliens, Dusty Ayres sees his two remaining targets, the men who left him with the Invid, and fires on them. The freedom fighters mistake his intentions and fire back. In return, Ayres lines them up in his sights with practical ease. Killing has become easy for him. But this time rook intervenes.
"Dusty – they're my friends! They didn't know you didn't mean them any harm," she explains. "They mean more to me than life itself. I you have to kill someone else, take me. But spare them."
Ayres is amazed. "I couldn't do that to you, Rook. I just couldn't. But...if I'd had friends like you when I was captured, my life would have been completely different."
As Dusty achieves this final realization, a battered Invid trooper makes a desperate effort to destroy them. Ayres fires on the alien, throwing himself in the way of the trooper's final blast when he does. Both alien and human are destroyed.
Later, as the morning sun stretches across the valley floor, the Robotech rebels gather around the ashes and rubble which serve as a monument to an unlikely hero.
"I don't know if I coulda done what he did, Rook," Lancer says.
Rand shakes his head. "He saved all our lives. No matter what he did in the past, he redeemed himself in the end."
"Rand is right," Lancer agrees. "Besides – Dusty Ayres is lucky. He died with great courage...and he died for friends."
Experience this episode at home! Now available through the Robotech.com Store:
- DVD Video: Robotech DVD Vol.14: Hollow Victory (also part of DVD Box Set 7 and The Protoculture Collection)
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