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I'm a little confused about some details of the premise of Aldnoah.Zero, particularly why the Orbital Knights waited 15 years without attacking, why they needed an excuse, and who is on Mars vs. the Moon. I'm about halfway through season 2, I was patient waiting for clues to be revealed but the series changed focus to Inaho vs. Slaine and the save-the-princess quest.

First of all, my understanding is: In 1999 Mars attacked Earth by sending the Orbital Knights and a bunch of other soldiers through the Hypergate on the moon. Yadda yadda, the Hypergate exploded, taking most of the moon with it. Now the folks who were sent from Mars are stuck here with no way back, presumably because Mars is out of range for normal travel. They can still, however, communicate with home, so they at least maintain contact.

That means:

  • The war stopped because the resulting devastation from the moon's explosion caused a huge number of losses on both sides (Saazbaum, for example, lost his significant other).
  • The Orbital Knights and the remaining original Mars army are stuck here, so they dug in on the remains of the moon and built bases there and throughout the debris belt.
  • The emperor is on Mars (we know this for certain because Slaine comments about being on VERS during his unauthorized use of the audience chamber to warn the emperor).

So my first question is, is my understanding above correct? My remaining confusion is based on that understanding.

The things that I don't understand, then, are:

  1. Why were the Orbital Knights waiting for an excuse to attack Earth? Why assassinate Asseylum in the first place? The knights have both motivation and superior fire power, what stopped them from just... invading with no excuse?
    • The only possible theory I have is the emperor didn't endorse it. But why would these guys care? They're trapped without the Hypergate. They have no hope of returning home nor do they seem to ever attempt to find a way home or even care. The emperor can't touch them from Mars (and the threat of taking their Aldnoah drives isn't valid, we've already seen that once they are activated they don't need any more interaction from people with the Aldnoah factor unless they need to be re-activated, and we know there's at least 2 princesses and 1 terran that can do this, and the princesses can pass on the factor through kisses and blood or something, even unwillingly). It just seems reasonable to me that people in this situation, especially people desiring the Earth's resources so badly and trapped on the Earth/Moon, would go for it out of desperation if nothing else. It doesn't seem feasible for an entire army + 37 orbital knights to sit by and twiddle their thumbs in this situation waiting for some excuse (which they orchestrated themselves with the assassination plot conspiracy).
    • If you have the moral deficit necessary to conspire to assassinate your own princess as an excuse to attack, it doesn't seem so far-fetched to just skip the conspiracy effort and go for the attack.
  2. How did the princess even get to Earth? The OK are isolated due to lack of Hypergate. So she couldn't have been sent to Earth after the fact. She must have at least been there since 1999. She's obviously pretty young, she couldn't have been more than a newborn or toddler in '99. This means the emperor sent his newborn grand-daughter to Earth during the first war? That doesn't make any sense. What was she doing there and how did she get there?
  3. Why were the Orbital Knights hanging out on the moon in the first place?
    • It seems as if it would have been a much more reasonable strategy for the knights and the Mars army to just go down to Earth and live there, or at least build a base on the surface (shouldn't be a problem with their vastly superior strength). We know their primary drive is lust for the Earth's resources (secondary drive is that they're just grossed out by terrans). The more power-hungry ones could just as easily dominate after going down to Earth.
    • "Because Martians would never be accepted" isn't a great excuse for this. Inaho or Rayet or somebody early on even remarked on the fact that nobody can tell them apart unless they reveal themselves, since they're all human. There's no test for it. There's no way to tell. There were even Martian spies on Earth, a key point in the assassination plot. The Mars army and the knights could have blended in seamlessly.
  4. Where are the Mars army soldiers coming from? I assume that the only soldiers available are the ones originally sent 15 years ago, as Mars can't send more soldiers in without a Hypergate. So either they're making babies (but all would be 15 years or younger at this point) or the Mars soldiers are a finite resource and nobody seems to be concerned about this. They must have just sent a lot of soldiers the first time through? None of the Orbital Knights seem to be concerned at all about the survival of their bloodlines, so either the situation is already resolved (their families are with them and they're having kids) or they just... forgot?
    • For that matter, how are they getting ammunition, supplies, and the materials needed to construct a moon base? Well, that's not a real question, I'm willing to let that one slide...

Anyways, it's very likely that I missed something in one of the episodes, and that's actually primarily what I'm looking for here. I am enjoying this series but in order to do so I have to set aside my questions about the fundamental premise, because otherwise nothing that's happening here seems to have any justification.

So the main thing I'm looking for is clarity on how the knights go to where they are and why they behaved the way they did in that 15 year gap, as well as what the princess is doing there. That is, some clarity on what remains of the link between Mars and the trapped Orbital Knights and army.

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    One critical error : Travel between Mars and Earth is possible. Sometime between destruction of Gate and start of the series, Mars developed a way of travel using spaceships. This is shown in 2nd season. Its just that scale of that travel is more limited than what was possible with Gate. Details : anime.stackexchange.com/questions/19815/… – Euphoric Jul 28 '16 at 6:15
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    re: #1 - not all of the knights are bloodthirsty maniacs. Cruhteo, for example, attacked Earth only because he genuinely believed Asseylum had been assassinated by Terrans; and Mazuurek in particular was a very reasonable person who almost certainly wouldn't have attacked if not for the assassination. Saazbaum probably needed to stage the assassination himself to unite the other knights against Earth. Saazbaum's castle alone, while formidable, very likely wouldn't be able to single-handedly win a war against the UE. – senshin Jul 28 '16 at 15:59
  • @Euphoric Ah! Thanks. I missed that in the opening few seconds, and actually just got to the point in season 2 where Klancain traveled from Mars. This undercuts a lot of my other confusion and answers a ton of questions. – Jason C Jul 28 '16 at 16:06
  • @senshin That makes sense; so it was more about getting all the knights on board (which getting the emperor's support just happened to help with). I wonder why the non-aggressive knights were still hanging out on the moon though after 15 years, instead of returning home permanently. Even if they didn't have the ship capacity to get everybody back to Mars at once, I'd imagine they'd start trickling them back instead of leaving them on the field. Unless they stayed as some sort of occupation force, but that'd be conjecture, I don't recall that ever being mentioned. – Jason C Jul 28 '16 at 16:07
  • @JasonC I'm going to have to do some research to answer this question correctly, but I seem to remember there being some side material that explains that the reason the knights didn't return to Mars was that the emperor didn't let them return because Mars couldn't support that many additional people? I might be making that up, though; don't take me at my word. – senshin Jul 28 '16 at 16:39
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First of all, to clear up some misunderstandings

  1. The martians were able to travel from mars to earth. It just takes a long time. That is how the Princess Asseyleum and Count Klancain were able to come to earth. (Thanks to Euphoric for the source)

  2. The end of the war was due to the destruction of the hypergate. The war was intended to be waged with constant support from mars. The destruction of the hypergate means the termination of the supply line. The lack of supplies probably lead to the end of the war.

    Viscountess Orlane and Count Saazbaum was sent as the advance scout to test the Terran's resistance to an invasion. At Tanegashima, during the advance scout, the hypergate was destroyed leading to the death of Orlane when the moon's fragments fall onto earth.


Why were the Orbital Knights waiting for an excuse to attack Earth?

First of all, not all of the orbital knights want to attack earth just to kill. Count Mazuurek for example is merely curious about earth as his name resembles some folk song. He attacks earth because everyone else is attacking and even when he did, he didnt use destructive means.

Count Cruhteo is another example. He only attacked because Asseyleum was killed by terrans, being loyal to the royal family.

Second of all, in episode 10 of the first season, Saazbaum explained to Slane that martians were running out of resources as the population grew. Its second leader Emperor Gillzeria created a industrial revolution and ignored the suffering of the people. He then directed the people's rage at the Terrans with their bountiful resources. This is the reason why the Orbital Knights were there in the first place.

From these evidence, we can come to the following conjecture: There are two important factions within the Orbital Knights (This speaks only of the knights and not their followers):

  • Those who had losses and wanted revenge (Count Saazbaum)
  • Those who were loyal to the royal family (Count Cruhteo)

Here are a list of some summarized motivations that the Orbital Knights would want to invade earth

  • Curiosity (Mazuurek)
  • Revenge for losses in the war (Saazbaum)
  • Superiority of martians (Cruhteo N1 , Keteratesse N2 and Femieanne and many others)

Conclusion:

The story did not mention any other Orbital Knights on the side of Saazbaum. Thus, the majority of the knights are either loyal to the royal family or just following the actions of others. They did not attack earth until the death of Asseyleum because the royal family did not endorse it. Saazbaum plotted Asseyleum's death to create a reason for loyalist to attack "Revenge for the royal family". The rest of the Orbital Knights just followed suit.

The reason for not attacking on your own would be obvious. If Asseyleum wasnt killed, she would be the rallying the Orbital Knights to stop the one loner that attacked on his own. It could turn out to be a civil war.

Notes:

N1 - Cruhteo and many others didnt attack because he was loyal to the royal family and the royal family didnt endorse it.

N2 - Keteratesse was seen in S01E02 saying "Swear Allegiance of be annihilated" which is indication of his superiority.


How did the princess even get to Earth?

Travel was possible between mars and earth and thus the princess was able to come to earth.


Why were the Orbital Knights hanging out on the moon in the first place?

The orbital knights didnt build a base on earth because they were loyal to the royal family and the royal family didnt want to invade earth. This is probably also because of some treaty between the Martians and the Terrans (You would sign one of these after a war wont you?) If any of the power hungry ones were to do it out of line, the other loyal Orbital Knights would be there to stop him.

As for why they didnt blend in, they did infact blend in. The key to Asseylum's assassination was the presence of martians on earth. The fact that Rayet lived her life on earth indicates that they were there for quite some time living the life of Terrans, blending in, given the promise that they will be accepted back as Martians once they killed Asseyleum.


Where are the Mars army soldiers coming from? (Also resources)

Most of the battles were fought by Kataphrakts piloted by Knights and Counts. The presence of advanced technologies mean that not many lives were lost in battles. Not many scenes of the anime show actual martian infantry marching down the streets of earth.

As for the resources they use to build the moon base and wage the second war, it probably came from the moon. The moon's surface composition by weight is 20 percent silicon, 19 percent magnesium, 10 percent iron, 3 percent aluminum and the rest is other resources. Considering that they had landing castles which should have basic technology to construct and repair itself, they could have used that technology to construct a moon base using the raw materials on the moon.


Addressing the question of how the knights got to the where they are...

The war started because the second leader Emperor Gillzeria brainwashed the martian population that Earth was their enemy. The first war plotted under Gillzeria's rule and after the destruction of the hypergate, they stayed around instead of going back to the barren wastelands of mars.

The princess's presence on earth was as a symbol of peace, a first step in the negotiation for trade and cooperation.

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