The party gets off the train and arrives in Timber, and immediately meet up with their contact, who led them away from the platform. Before we went, however, I became morbidly fascinated by a blocked-off building marked “Pet Shop.” “Who… builds a pet shop next to a railroad station?” I asked, aghast. “A bad person,” Kyle said. When we talked to the person blocking the entrance, we learned that his dog had been left inside without anyone to tend to it and presumably without food or water. “A very bad person.”
Our contact led us to the resistance base, which was closer than I expected, in a manner of speaking. Specifically, it was on board a train, a mobile base! Interesting approach! There, we met the nominal leader of the resistance, Zone, who introduced our contact as Watts, and the resistance as “the Forest Owls.” I was going to complain to Kyle about the fact that our code phrase to Watts had been about forests and owls and how foolish that is, but I swallowed the complaint, and would later learn that this flaw was definitely intended by the developers. Let’s just say… this may not be a professional terrorist organization.
After the screen blacked out, we found ourselves in control of three different characters in Galbadian soldier’s uniforms. As this went on, spoken dialogue was presented as normal, but additional translucent boxes appeared alongside the regular boxes. It didn’t take long to realize that these translucent boxes conveyed the familiar voices of our original party members, apparently aware of the scene but unable to interact with it (again: credit to the localization for making each voice so distinctive!). Our strange new party was made up of a man named Laguna, who was in charge but had gotten the party lost, and his buddies Kiros and Ward. Laguna fought with a submachine gun, Kiros with a giant harpoon the size of a ship’s anchor, and Kiros with two arm blades. Kiros is also a black man, and he’s about as far away from Barret’s “angry black man” stereotypes as you could be, being something of a ultra-calm monk instead.
Laguna is the only one of these three to get a mocap credit (Ward and Kiros do show up in a later CG, but aren’t moving). He’s played by Akihiko Kikuma, who would stick with Final Fantasy mocap as Wakka in FFX, Baralai in X-2, Sazh in the original FFXIII (and presumably the sequels, though as I understand it from my spoiler-minimizing perspective, the sequels don’t credit anyone in the role). He also did mocap in an unspecified role in Advent Children.
The woman disappears after the dance, after she spots whoever it was she was looking for (we don’t get to see). Squall goes to brood on a balcony. At this point, Quisis shows up… in her casual clothes? She… she has a uniform, devs, we’ve seen it. And her casual clothes are sure as hell no dancing gettup. She looks like she’s raided Indiana Jones’ lost wardrobe.
Quistis tries to chat with Squall, only for Squall to point out what I was thinking at the time: she’s his teacher and god this is really awkward. I think we’re supposed to have seen this scene as more evidence of Squall’s standoffishness, because she laughs and it certainly continues in that direction, but… no, honestly it was just creepy on Quistis’ part! You’re his teacher.
Stopping off in our classroom (including some card battles with the Trepies), we learned that Selphie had become the head of the School Festival Committee by default, as there were no other members. She also started up a blog, which had only a few entries but was already promising to be comedy gold. She’s such a naïve sweetheart.
After that, I ended up losing some card games, so we decided to move on with the plot. We tracked down Seifer in the hall, who complained that if they hadn’t been forced to withdraw, they could have held the tower and upset the entire Galbadian effort. He’s not wrong, and I find myself once again wondering why we were given the order to prematurely withdraw, which has yet to be explained even as I write this at the end of our session, and frankly seems to have been forgotten by the developers. What gives? Quistis and Xu show up at this point to tell Seifer off for disobeying orders by leaving the square, and Seifer pointed out that he had just done what he thought was best in the heat of things. Once again… not wrong. In fact, in just a few lines, Cid will arrive and say how much he doesn’t want his students to be “robots” and to be able to think on their own. Whether or not Seifer should get in trouble would probably comes down to SeeD’s official procedure and rules but this seems like a lot more of a gray area than Quistis and Xu treat it at the outset. Of course, the bigger problem is Seifer’s attitude, and even though the results of the exam haven’t been officially revealed, Xu lets slip that Seifer will never be a SeeD. He seems to realize the implications of her words and takes it very poorly.