Part 82: Part Eighty-Two: Science GulagPart Eighty-Two: Science Gulag
For a second time, the party for a Laguna sequence is chosen by the player. I was going to say that it doesn't really matter who you choose, since their junctions are dropped anyway. But, there's one important thing that doesn't cover: magic stocks are matched to specific characters. Relatedly, you might notice a portrait missing from that menu - you don't have access to Edea's spells for this sequence. Thankfully, the dice I rolled to choose my party gave me Selphie, but Kiros is gonna have some life problems pretty soon.
Game mechanics aside, let's get into it.
Security Guard: You're gonna stay here and work! The rest of you, get back to work!
Today, Laguna is finding himself in some kind of Esthar labour camp.
Or, apparently, the Lunatic Pandora Laboratory.
I guess his entry into Esthar didn't go super well.
The others in the Esthar science gulag won't talk to us.
Well, I suppose that explains why.
Security Guard: You!!! I said no talking!!! It's only been 3 days, you wimp!!!
Not much to do around the place other than get yelled at. Ain't that always the way.
After the fade, not much's changed.
We have to go talk to the guard to progress again.
Security Guard: No talking! How many times do I have to...
And, of course, get in trouble again.
But, before the guy can finish telling Laguna off, the meal bell rings.
Apparently, breaking the labour camp rules is not rewarded.
Security Guard: That beast over there, you, too! No meal until your work is done!!!
: Hey... You can't be serious! I'll be done in 2 to 3 hours, but... His job won't get done for days!
Security Guard: He just won't get fed for a few days. If he wants to eat...he should work faster...
Knowing that this is during Adel's rule, this scene is just an indicator of what Esthar was like back in the day.
Not too bad for that guy, though. He gets to go grab a bite.
There's another little skip and we come back in here. Sounds like Ward's making trouble in the basement.
Sure, dude, no problem.
The guy still won't talk to Laguna.
Again, nothing particular to do other than make progress. We have to talk to the moomba this time.
: Do they feed you all right? Got a fever or something? Or you just scared of heights?
Moomba: Grrr... Grrr...
I would assume that he's so sympathetic to the moomba because he recognises them from Shumi Village.
: Your stomach's goin' grrr?
Prisoner #2: Ha ha ha... That's funny. I think that thing's 'Grrr...Grrr...' means 'thank you'.
Wow, sure would've been useful if someone had taught the moomba English. Then we wouldn't have had this misunderstanding.
Prisoner #2: Know what? You're the first one to care about his well-being. These Moombas get worked to death for no reason. They only get half the food and sleep compared to us humans.
Bad situation for the moombas. Someone should do something.
Having learned about moomba working conditions, we can talk to the guy for some incidental dialogue.
This is not the prisoner talking, and I don't know if the previous line is, either. I don't even know how we're hearing this line - it must be coming through a speaker or something, because the person saying it is upstairs at the moment.
Prisoner #2: Sounds like Dr. Odine's up to something again upstairs.
Dr. Odine, eh? Is this his lab?
I talked about Odine a little before, but here's his Information page. Odine's really done some interesting stuff, such as using slave labour and inventing a way to put a monster in your brain so it makes you lose your memory.
The guy also has a line responding to that little exchange.
Prisoner #2: Those scientists are all the same. All they think about is their research.
This is the first description we get of Odine as a person, and it's not a flattering one. Makes sense, considering the source.
Conveniently, there's one right in front of you.
: I'll go get it. Wait right here.
Ah, the guard's back. Good to have some company.
Security Guard: Yeah, standing next to the elevator. Go get the guards upstairs! Tell them there's an emergency.
They went downstairs because they were having issues with Ward. Wonder if those two are gettin' out of hand.
: Roger that...
You know, I don't get the feeling that Laguna is particularly eager to help the guard.
: Alright, I'm goin'.
Still gotta give the moomba that tool before we go.
Jesus Christ, dude.
: I feel...so...horrible... I'm sorry!!!
Man, can't you see he's tryin' to grieve?
I'm not gonna lie, this section has some weird pacing. First, it comes in during your entry to Esthar (it works here fairly well) and then it also has a lot of this, where we're just chatting and seeing some physical comedy.
Prisoner #2: They might be treated badly, but they still put safety cables around them for a job like this.
Guess you don't get much labour outta the slaves if they're dead.
: Why...didn't you just tell me that first!?
The guards upstairs can wait while we do this.
Prisoner #2: You seem like you'd be a good candidate to be our leader.
Have you ever seen someone make a huge mistake?
: A leader?
Prisoner #2: That's right. A lot of us are dissatisfied with the way Adel's been running Esthar. We may be disorganized now... But someday we'll gather our forces to remove Adel from power.
Well, I guess we know what landed this guy in the 'lag.
Prisoner #2: We're overthrowing the ruler of a country. A sorceress, far beyond our powers. A half-baked plan would never work. We're waiting for the right time, now...
Speaking of the right time, I feel like this conversation might be better held later.
Oh, cool, the Adel resistance comprises 100% ideas guys.
Prisoner #2: There's no one to lead the movement. That's our situation right now.
I'll make the website.
Prisoner #2: We've been looking for someone like you...Someone who's strong and righteous...
I'll give the guy credit, Laguna can counter-balance any two ideas guys. Maybe three.
This guy's back again...
Security Guard: What are you doing!?
Well, he was having a conversation.
The guard is not happy.
And so, we're thrown into a fight...with one Esthar Soldier. Of course, Laguna doesn't have his...
...oh. Would ya look at that?
See ya in hell, buddy.
Once that guy's dead, the elevator starts coming down. Something to note is that you can see the sky in the middle there, so I guess this little work area is outdoors.
The elevator coming down is kind of cool.
What comes out of it is not as cool.
: Darn it...I did it again...Well, too bad!
Instead of killing the guard outright, Laguna just bumrushes him into the wall.
Thankfully, we've got some backup in case a second Esthar guy starts shit.
Hell, even if both of 'em do.
Security Guard: Stop talking and just keep walking!
Ward's more annoyed at having to do more crazy shit than anything else.
: It's not so bad...2 is better than 1, 4 is better than 2, right?
: So, who's the 4th one? Geez... Are you...starting to hallucinate?
At this point, Laguna starts doing something weird.
: (Hey... Now's our chance! You know what to do? Let's just finish 'em off and get out of here!)
It's a ruse!
Always magnanimous, the game gives you a chance to make sure your junctions are in order before the fight.
As I mentioned, Kiros and Ward have lost their junctions in the party shuffle. You can also see here how far behind Zell is, level-wise. I don't think he or Irvine have spent any time in the party since I stopped using Enc-Half.
...And it was here I realised why it actually mattered who was in your party. Of course, my previous party included Edea, who isn't available to junction into this sequence. If you have Edea in your party when you get on the elevator, it means one of your characters isn't gonna have any junctions here. This problem crops up a few times in the jumps between Laguna and Squall, and I don't really know what they could have done to solve it. Warned you, I guess? It's definitely an oversight, and it's clearly something they wanted to avoid otherwise, since the SeeD party are all always available in the menu to shuffle junctions around.
I eventually just kitted out Kiros with abilities. He's not particularly useful, but Laguna and Ward can carry him.
: Alright... Let's go!
Oh hey, they brought a monster this time.
Desperado really clinched this one for us.
It was when this popped up that I remembered the ability to refine spells.
Not the best setup, but it's better than nothing.