Cleyra was virtually next-door to Burmecia (Kyle had a laugh at how the party kept talking like they weren’t 100% sure where Clerya could be when the towering sand-vortex must have been visible for miles, and what else could it be hiding?), and the vortex slowed to allow us access. It’s here where Brahne’s actual plan came into focus for me: by cutting off escape to Lindblum, she had essentially forced the people of Burmecia to flee to Cleyra, and thus forced the Cleyrans to lower their defences somewhat. The real target… whatever it was… was here.
Not that this plan makes perfect sense. Brahne seemed too upset at the king getting away for someone whose key plan never involved the king to begin with, and Cleyra lowering its defences temporarily ultimately never plays into Brahne’s final move. On the other hand, both of these questions can be answered to satisfaction if you just remove Brahne as the head of the snake and put Kuja in her place. But if that’s the case, why does she so poorly understand the plan in the first place? Surely he needs her army pointed in the right direction?
At this point, we abruptly cut away to Steiner, only to discover that neither he nor Dagger had actually gone to Burmecia after all! I was quite confused about this, but I admit it had been several months and I probably didn’t remember the specifics of Dagger’s half-explained plan. Long story told later short and now, it seems Dagger was going back to Alexandria in a misplaced and naïve effort to negotiate with her mother.
The first step of the process was to cross the Linblum-Alexandrian mountain border on the only remaining route possible: a clever but probably physically impossible tram car system, which worked on a counterweight where one car would go down on one side of the border and pull the other car up the opposite side! But first things first: they had to get through customs while Garnet was busy being, you know, a princess. Their plan was to carry Garnet through in a bag full of particularly strong-smelling pickles, which ironically led to a number of dramatic fake-outs with a guard who was so offended by the smell that he treated Steiner with misleading hostility. Honestly, while I enjoy me a good heist movie, be it drama or comedy, this exact joke structure isn’t my kind of gag, and the repetition made it worse.
As I’ve mentioned in the past (during Persona 2: Innocent Sin), Session 1 actually took place months ago, as a way of putting off Persona. After that, we stuck to our guns for both Persona 2 games and only came back after the fact for Session 2. Unfortunately, Session 2 would be abbreviated thanks to car troubles, but we did a fairly solid run at it all the same. The session carries us from Qu’s Marsh through to the return to Linblum in Disc 2. As you can see from the screenshots, we switched to recording in widescreen for the session.
The session opened by promptly mauling Vivi to death with a Hedgehog Pie, an overworld monster. We then had to return to Linblum to find the inn, despite it being one of the largest towns in the entire series to date, us having not played the game since before P2IS two games ago, and oh yeah: some intermediary rooms we had never seen pasted in just for extra bullshit. It took seven minutes, which is more than you’d expect from an inn, to say the least!
With Black Waltz 2 dead, Zidane told the others about the original Black Waltz and how it had openly tried to murder them. Steiner took advantage of this to claim Zidane was being dishonest, but the party comes to a surprising agreement when Zidane proposes they board the Cargo Ship anyways. Dagger asks Zidane why he changed his mind, but he doesn’t get to say why as the ship tries to take off without them, despite Steiner’s efforts. They rush to a rope ladder hanging from the ship, a scene which involves an infamous moment where Zidane cops a feel on Dagger’s ass in the middle of this emergency. Oh this guy is delightful.
Zidane explains his reasons for getting on the airship once he, Dagger and Vivi are alone. He’s not stupid (so long as you set that ass-grab he just did, which, among other problems, could have gotten him kicked off the ladder from a moderate height, out of reflex alone). He recognizes that Steiner is trying to con them, and so does Dagger. Zidane just figures they can commandeer the ship and take it to Lindblum anyways. But it turns out there’s a small problem: the ship isn’t being piloted by humans, but by a crew of seemingly-robotic Black Mage dolls. Since Steiner is even more surprised than Zidane, Zidane is able to get past him to capture the helm. Too bad it’s too late: the dolls all turn on Zidane like they’re about to attack him.
The survivors set up a camp so that Garnet can recover from the spores, and spend most of their time arguing about whether to bring her back to Alexandria (Steiner’s idea – he hadn’t been listening to Garnet’s strong hints that she wanted nothing to do with her hometown and had run away deliberately, and is completely ignoring Brahne’s attack on her own daughter, perhaps because he wasn’t paying attention at the time) or to take her to Zidane’s home base in the neighbouring kingdom of Lindblum. While this is going on, we get some of our first solid details about a major plot element that the game has been hinting at for a while: it seems the lowlands of the FFIX world (Ed. pardon, just the current continent) are infested by a magical Mist that creates this world’s monsters and causes “abnormalities […] in the mind and body.” Mist has also been used to create this world’s airships, but by and large it’s a global threat that everyone would rather be rid of. It also seems to be a relatively recent threat, and it may very well have begun within living memory!
Garnet is all right in the morning, and the party is visited by a Moogle who offers you a tutorial on a few game systems (this tutorial comes in the form of an ATE, for some reason, as though the developers couldn’t think of any other way to make it optional?). He also offers a whistle you can use to call him to save and camp on the world map. At this point, since neither Zidane nor Steiner have won the argument about where to go, the party agrees their best course of action would be to get above the Mist via a nearby cave system, which will simultaneously allow them to get their bearings. First things first!