Part 19: Devil's Lab
As previously discussed, we can't ride the flyboat all the way into the empire because the odds of getting an imperial AA shell in the face is almost a million to one and Gambit doesn't take sucker bets. Instead, he sets us down near the town of Albrook, almost directly south of the capital, Vector.
Need a little refreshment?
Before heading out, though, we explore the flyboat a bit. The place is well stocked with a guy who offers free healing and...
...one who runs an item store. No royal discount for us here, though, so fuck him.
There's also this guy who, who will become increasingly awesome as we amass more and more crazy people. Right now, all he does is leave MrThou and Bruce suddenly naked in the freezing cold back in Narshe.
Gambit is kind of a dick, but given that he'd be perfectly justified just dumping the lot of us in the ocean on the way here, we probably shouldn't complain. Out loud. Where he can hear us.
Albrook is occupied and the residents...
...are none too happy about it.
Not happy at all.
The imperials seem to be enjoying it, though.
We won't be using much magic. Here's how every battle on this continent will play out: Matt uses Rising Phoenix. Tim uses Flash. Indy steals if he ever gets a turn. Meryl stands around looking pretty. Everything dies a horrible flaming death. Literally.
The Imperials built an observation post there and won't let anyone beyond it.
Clearly our next destination!
...after some more shopping.
Two weapons known as Ultima Weapons were used during the War of the Magi a thousand years ago.
One was a sword whose blade sprang from its wielder's strength. The other was a monster born for destruction.
Utter non-spoiler: we will encounter both before this game is over and neither of them will live up to their name.
Also, free stuff.
In the realm of non-free stuff, here's a new weapon that will let Meryl use Runic again and I shouldn't have bought it but I'm dumb so I did it anyway.
Also, this is the first time we can actually get something that's stronger than the spear Tim has been using since the moment he joined.
This would be more relevant if we ever used regular physical attacks.
I think something like this might go over well
but don't blame me if he has you launched into the sun.
There's also a pub in town and I'm pretty sure this line wasn't there in the SNES translation.
The hookers tell Tim to take a hike.
Doesn't mean he can't watch, though.
Not pictured: Meryl and Matt bashing Tim over the head and dragging him out of here.
Tim lays claim to this, saying he needs to reduce the swelling. Matt, feeling vaguely guilty, lets him have it because it's not as anyone else is going to use it.
He gets another bruise trying to slip past this guy into the port, though. It's not a good day to be Tim.
Now here's where we're supposed to go. Note the red dot: middle of the southern continent.
Here's where we're going to head instead.
The town is called Tzen and it, too, is full of imperial dickbags.
And history lessons.
It also has vaguely superior weapons for Indy for that once-in-a-blue-moon occasion where I'll actually have him hit something.
There's not much of interest there, but there is a chocobo stable hidden in the forest just outside town.
That's a good thing, because this is where we're going next. This is Maranda, a name you may have heard before.
Again, the imperials are pretty much running wild around here.
The armoury is doing well, however - but it's a bit late for green berets; I have Indy and Matt wearing Twist Headbands instead, which increase strength and speed. Matt already has more than enough HP without the beret, and I don't give a shit if Indy kicks the bucket and loses out on some XP.
Sorry lady, I've probably killed him in a random encounter by now.
The soldiers amuse themselves with dogfights.
With actual dogs. That fight. Not the other kind.
Even the kids are in on it. What a world, etcetera, etcetera.
Be happy he's at least asking.
The most interesting part of this place is the house on the east side (represent!) with this lady in it. Somehow, it feels like I should know something about this...
Well, that and the fact that they sell a weird water-elemental weapon for Tim. I guess if you're really desperate for reliable water damage...?
...I still buy one because as we have established I am dumb.
This town also has a hidden chocobo stable in the woods outside, but it took a while to find. While I'm looking, Meryl decides to learn some more magic. This will be useful... maybe.
The last place we need to visit before the capital.
There are soldiers wandering around all over the place and talking to them gets you into a fight...
...and thrown out even if you win.
The most interesting about this is that the guards carry tents as common steals and always appear in groups of four, so you could very easily farm them. They'll also drop tents somewhat regularly. You probably won't use a lot of tents, but they sell for a decent amount and this is probably the quickest way to make money right now.
Solid Snaking it into the building on the right...
...is not very rewarding. I see you, treasure chests! Don't think you've managed to escape - you WILL be mine.
All right, Vector, then.
Vector is full of douchebags.
I hope your city gets burned to the ground in an attack by godbeasts from the land beyond.
There's also this.
Saying yes, all you get is a "Fine."
Say, no, however...
...and you're ambushed by guards!
Unfortunately, they are susceptible to being dropped on their heads and so are not a threat.
Beating the faceless mooks convinces her that we can topple the entire empire!
From now on, she offers free healing.
Which is good because if you talk to one of the soldiers, they'll attack.
Every time it happens, you get sent back to the entrance. Time for more Solid Snaking...
Making it all the way up to the palace gets you spotted, but just like any good infiltrator, we hide behind a wall until they lose interest.
...or seem to lose interest, because then this happens.
OH SHIT PANIC
Everything you do to the Guardian will result in this message.
And this counterattack.
Time to run.
Leave the fallen where they lie.
No, really. Leave him.
Well, it's nothing a trip to the old lady's place can't fix.
Here's where we need to go.
I'll distract the soldiers. Use this box to climb up onto these steel beams and sneak into the research facility.
Are you ready?
Hell yes we're ready!
...that's a distraction, all right.
it's quite effective!
(Unless you're a dumbass and go up and talk to them or something.)
AUDIO: Devil's Lab
Straight up lies the Magitek Factory.
This is not a good place. Good places don't get theme songs called "Devil's Lab".
This is a place what are bad.
It is, however, also full of stuff.
This is why I should not have bought those weapons for Tim and Meryl before.
Hey, that name sounds familiar...
Conveyor belt ride! (Also pictured: empty chest that used to contain an Ether.)
Another elemental sword. That Magic boost is really nice. Total bonus from equipment: now +14!
Even skipping the really boring chests, this place is full of treasure. I already have one of these from Zozo, and two is as much as I'm ever going to need.
More treasure, and this one's useful right now!
I love this encounter. They all go down to one Rising Phoenix and give out 3 AP.
Tim also picks up a new suit...
...but the hat that goes with it isn't really that great; he'd also be sacrificing that 12.5% bonus to HP for +3 def and +2 mdef; don't care for it.
Did I mention how much I loved those onion knights? I can't remember ever learning second-level magic this quickly before! And second-level magic is kind of overpowered.
I guess. The other chest had an Icebrand, the cold-type version of the fire and lightning elemental swords we just found. I gave this to Tim and the Flametongue to Meryl so she has access to all three elements because I don't want to stop pretending she might be useful at some point.
Down the pipes...
...and down a conveyor belt. What awaits us ahead?
...why, Kefka, fancy meeting you here.
(shoot him while he's not looking)
(come on Tim)
I'll collect more espers... I'll extract their magic...
I'll revive the Warring Triad!
A little more specific than is used to be! ...not that you'd understand a word of it if you don't already know what's going to happen, though.
One stupid horse laugh later:
So he throws them in the trash.
We chase after Kefka to give him a short lesson in the value of proper recycling, but he's gone... somehow.
So Tim decides it's time for some dumpster diving.
Blue Chick won't even talk to us and Weird Thing knocks Tim on his ass and...
Ifrit likes to use fire spells. Pictured: Meryl neutering him. This battle isn't tough.
After a bit, Shiva jumps in and Ifrit takes a break. It changes nothing.
After some more beating, the two of them cone to their senses.
Now, we can actually talk to them.
I, too, suffered my turn in one of the capsules...
We and Ramuh were siblings, each of us born with a different elemental power.
If Ramuh was willing to give you his strength, then we shall do the same.
I'm sure they will lend you their strength as well...
Now, it's actually possible to ignore Ifrit and continue on, but you must pick up Shiva to continue since you have to get to the passage behind the right door. (The left just has a save spot.)
Shiva and Ifrit are similar to Ramuh, but teach their -ara level spell at 5x instead of 2x. More importantly, however, Shiva teaches Rasp - MP damage - and Osmose - MP absorb, both of which will be useful later on. A 4x rate isn't good, but it is... respectable.
Behind the door, there's a lot of stairs.
And then there is this place.
It has a secret path here, with a Stoneblade at the end. It's a sword that sometimes petrifies enemies. Nice! ...but in order to make use of it, you'd have to use a regular attack.
We're not in the business of using regular attacks.
(Also pictured: Silence status is not match for Matt's kung fu.)
This clown blocks the way.
But as long as it can be dropped on its head, Matt can kill it.
(Also pictured: Number 024 opened the battle by confusing Indy. It doesn't really make a difference.)
Meryl shows why second-level spells are not to be taken lightly.
That's without earrings.
Once Matt has slapped some sense back into Indy, he nabs the common steal item. The rare one is a Blood Sword, which absorbs HP when it's used. Also nice, but, physical attacks, horrible waste of time, much better things to do, etc.
He drops a second Icebrand upon death. It's either that or a Flametongue (rare drop); either one is fine, neither one a must-have, especially since we already have all three different versions of this from the dungeon.
This place is making me... want to unequip all Meryl's stuff for some reason.
There's a big red switch at the top. Nice of them to make it nice and visible, I guess.
And so they all die.
But! There is something good about this trip after all!
Hundreds of times greater... Interesting...
He catches on fast. There's a reason he's Professor Condoman!
(...does this mean they used hundreds of espers to give Meryl magic? Because she had like one esper's worth of spells before she started equipping magicite.)
The containers all break and the magicite flies up...
General Meryl! Who are these shady characters? Your underlings?
Who's whose underling here?
No... You see, I...
Is it true that you worked your way in amongst those rebels as a spy?
Like the COLOSSAL MORON that he is, Indy totally buys it!
Before there's any more drama, Kefka shows up.
General Meryl! We needn't keep up this charade any longer. Bring me those magicite crystals!
Some of you may wonder why I'm not a huge fan of Indy.
What, "dead girlfriend preserved in basement" wasn't enough for you? How about this:
HE IS A COLOSSAL MORON
Of course not! Please, trust me!
...acting suspicious about it isn't making it better, but...
...how about stop listening to what the psychotic mass-murdering clown is telling you argh.
did I miss a quicktime event