Part 6: In which we torment an old man for personal gainChapter 6: In which we torment an old man for personal gain
Exiting to the other side of the mountain brings us into this grassy area surrounded by mountains on all sides. There is, quite literally, nothing else to do in this area other than proceeding directly to the Returners' base. Makes you wonder how it is that they keep themselves so well-hidden.
Since I only kinda skimmed over Sabin's special skill last time, now's a good time to explain it in further detail. As you can see here, Sabin's special techniques are executed by use of special key combinations.
When the Blitz command is selected, the cursor will be hovering over Sabin. That's the time when the key combination needs to be entered. Or, to put it another way, select Blitz with the A button, do the motions, then press A again. There isn't any timing for the keys, just make sure to do them in the right order.
This is Pummel, the move that was used to finish off Vargas. Its attack power is quite decent, and it ignores the opponent's defense, so it's extremely useful against enemies we'll see later on that only take damage in the single digits. Before doing this LP, I didn't know that Sabin always did Pummel with his right hand, but it's a nice touch.
Aurabolt is a bit special, in that it's actually magical in nature, not physical. It's also the only Holy-element ability we'll have for a long time, making it extremely useful on undead things.
A quick note about Blitz techniques involving diagonal directions: while it's possible to do the maneuvers by kind of "rolling" your hand along the D-pad, Blitzes of this variety all have substitute commands if you're bad at hitting those diagonals. In the case of Aurabolt, the alternative is Down-Down-Left, rather than Down-Down Left-Left.
Suplex is, frankly, just awful. On paper, it has a higher power than Pummel, but it doesn't ignore defense, and it won't work on any enemy that's immune to it, and that includes most bosses. Moreover, if there's more than one enemy, the ability's power is cut in half.
Well, what do you know? Here we are already!
Music: The Returners
Once inside, we're faced with no choice but to talk with this fellow. Whose great idea was it to make aviator goggles an official part of the Returners uniform? That's even sillier than the Empire's Nazi helmets.
The game's forcing us along a strict path at this point, so all we can do is glance around and take a look at the HQ. Apparently they've got a bar, which I guess counts for something.
: Is this the girl who can speak to espers?
: It seemed that the Empire had complete control over here.
: That's a lie!
: Banon, she doesn't remember ANYTHING!
Once again we hear stories of Terra killing Imperial soldiers while a member of the Empire, and I really have to wonder why. I mean, we're going to find out later that the Empire has robots and monsters at their command. Killing off their own men for no reason isn't evil, it's moronic.
: Perhaps you've heard this story? Once, when people were pure and innocent, there was a box they were told to never open, but someone went and opened it anyway.
: All that was left in the box was a single ray of light: hope.
: We now confront these evils...and you are that last ray of light, our only hope.
I'm really not sure where Banon was going with that, other than to say that the Empire sure is evil, a fact that we've come to realize already.
However, the old guy needs his nap, so everyone takes five.
I don't believe I even need to tell you what music is playing right now. Here's a hint: it's not the Returners theme anymore.
I'm amazed they didn't just name this track "Terra's Theme," given how often it plays. Anyway, since Terra's obviously got a big decision to make about whether or not to fight against the forces of oppression and injustice, she can wander around the base and chat it up with everyone.
: I joined the Returners when I realized the Empire was rotten to the core. I wanted to make a difference.
: But I have no "significant other" in my life.
: That's not entirely true. Besides, I'm sure there are people who feel YOU'RE important to them! They are counting on you...
I suspect that someone like that is standing right here in this room, but Terra's too dense to get the hint.
: He's always been fair to me. You can trust him, but don't you DARE tell him I said that!
: If we push you too hard, we're no different from the Empire... So we want you to make up your own mind.
While we think about the important decision we have to make, we also engage in a spot of treasure hunting, "discovering" an Air Lancet in a treasure box. This is a fairly good knife for Locke that we'll give him at our next opportunity.
Don't talk to the guard in this room yet. You'll regret it!
Par for the course, the storeroom has a secret passageway with a treasure box in it. This one has a White Cape which...well, let me show you.
Needless to say, it is very very VERY good.
While we're moping about, we can search this part of this table to find a scrap of paper. We can choose to be good employees and create a positive working environment by throwing it out, but we're not even officially part of the Returners yet, so someone else can throw it away.
Once we've made up our minds, we can talk to Banon just outside of the HQ. By now, it's been established that the Empire is comically evil and the Returners are completely awesome. Anyone in their right mind would say "Yes" in a heartbeat, right?
Sure, if you want Banon to give you a measly Gauntlet, go ahead and say "Yes" right away. But if you want to get a much better relic, you have to deny this old man either twice or three times, depending on what you do next.
Gauntlet: Hold a weapon in two hands in order to do double damage, which means that you can't equip a shield. Screw that!
It makes me feel like the biggest scum to see Banon look so dejected, but you've got to be cruel to get awesome loot.
When we tell Banon "No," for the second time, we can go back to the storeroom and, assuming the guard hasn't been talked to already, he'll attempt to bribe us with a Genji Glove. You know what...for a price like that, I can be bought.
Genji Glove: Equip two weapons at the same time, but if you only equip one weapon while wearing this, you only have 3/4 of your attack power. Of course, if you're wearing this, why would you not be wielding two weapons at once? I'm going to be saving this for Locke.
Alternatively, if we deny Banon thrice (roosters not included), he gives us the Genji Glove and Terra goes back inside to mope some more. Some other plot stuff happens shortly thereafter but...
Let's assume for the sake of the narrative that Terra didn't completely wuss out on joining Team Awesome, just mostly.
: You will? Really?
: But...I'm scared.
: If everyone works together we'll be successful. Never give up hope! I have a plan. Let's get everyone together.
That's your entire reward for discovering that piece of paper, having Banon find it and throw it out for you. Makes it seem all worthwhile, doesn't it?
: I had Locke look into the rumour that the Empire is forcing the world's finest scholars to study Espers.
: All the trouble in Narshe is over an Esper, too...
: You mean there's some connection between Espers and Magitek?
: I can only recall one thing linking Espers with Magitek power.
: You don't mean...
This sends everyone at the table into a buzz of conversation.
: My Grandma used to tell me stories about magical machines... Could they have been true?
: It's just speculation... But historical studies have provided a number of conflicting and frightening theories... According to one theory, humans and machines were imbued with powers drained from Espers...
: That could explain Magitek power...
: It's risky, but if we have Terra... speak with that Esper, it might just wake up...
: I wonder if that's wise.
: What nonsense. You sound like you're enjoying this.
We don't hear anything ourselves, but everyone suddenly reacts to an offscreen noise.
After taking a few steps into the hideout, this poor fellow falls over.
: They've found us...We haven't a moment to lose!
: I know... "Someone" has to sneak into South Figaro and slow the Empire down, right?
: Precisely. This is right up your alley. Good luck!
: Terra, please wait for me, and...
: Big Brother, are you EVER going to grow up?
You know guys, you could probably wait until after you've cleaned up the body in your front hall before having this comic relief moment. Just saying.
: What are we going to do?
: Right, there's a raft by the back entrance. It's a gamble, but we're fresh out of options.
Sounds like a serviceable plan to me.
I mean, what's the worst that could happen?
Next Time: We all go our separate ways.