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Witches Reign Moderators ([personal profile] wrmods) wrote in [community profile] witchesreign2014-05-12 11:12 pm

A Curtain Rises

In the middle of the plains of Esthar, a crooked, damaged Balamb Garden sat motionless on the ground, in the center of the crater it had plowed into the ground when its engines had finally failed under strain and damage. Next to it, the crippled Ragnarok and immobile Chaotix lay where they'd been dropped, each of them laboriously hauled back to their home base rather than being left to rot where they'd been cut down by Esthar's weaponry. It might be months before any of them moved again.

Despite this, it was a very good day.

On its northern side, the scarred but functional Galbadia Garden sat, the temporary home of SeeD and its mobile base of operations until their true home could be repaired. On its southern flank, the great machines ripped from Esthar's laboratories slowly trundled their way through the gate, supported by levitation devices and hauled by chocobos. The great red chocobo took the lead on the line, its muscles straining beneath its feathers and its massive feet seeming to put more power into each step than every other one of its yokemates combined.

As Trabia Garden drifted by to the south, it twisted its head and called out a brilliant "Kweh!" that carried over the plains, though not so far that anyone on Trabia could hear it over the slow rumble of their engines, or the swiveling of the great cannons as the gears strained and the pistons churned to lift them.

The machinery vanished through the entrance gates of Balamb Garden, and the first of many salvos thundered into the air from Trabia's main guns. The shells and their special loads flew skywards, then burst into a brilliant rainbow of fireworks.

Today was a day for celebration, and sadness.

Esthar had achieved their goals. Years of research by Dr. Odine and his associates had given them what they had sought from the moment the first offworlders appeared. They had mastered Time Compression -- in fact, they had contained it, in gradually growing pieces. Odine, of course, treated anyone who would listen to a long lecture on how Time Compression was not truly contained, and in fact could not be, but in fact what they had done was completely collapse all possibilities on a fifth-dimensional level and consequently all space and time in a localized area into one singularity which could be manipulated through advanced semiparamagical gravitolectromagnetic influences, thereby controlling probability in a manifold way -- no one got through more than two sentences of this explanation. The powers-that-be in Esthar had chosen to use this containment for weapons and armor, in a bid to at last bring stability to the world under Esthar's yoke. But Odine had continued to develop, this entire time, a machine powerful enough to contain all of Time Compression, to render Ultimecia's influence on all space and time into one fixed location rather than allowing it to run rampant any longer. After all, what would Esthar gain if it ruled a world of uncontrolled chaos?

Their mistake was, as so many before them, underestimating SeeD. In the end, all their greatest weapons and mightiest defenses could not keep a few plucky teenagers, supported by the awesome might of Garden, from breaching their most well-defended sanctum and activating the controlling mechanisms prematurely. Without Time Compression, Esthar's army stumbled, and thanks to Garden, fell.

For two months, SeeD and those of Dr. Odine's team who supported control instead of conquest tinkered and tested the control they had over the contained Time Compression, and for one of those months the world shuddered under their efforts, each seeming more dangerous than the last. Then, one day, a breakthrough: GFs could affect the semiparamagical gravitolectromagnetics. Ultimecia, at the end and in the heart of Time Compression, had Junctioned herself to a GF, and in doing so, had bound all that she wrought to that particular wavelength of energy being.

Within a week, Deling Lake became Deling City again. A few days after that, Trabia Garden and Fishermans Horizon emerged from the unification of space and time to become discrete once again. SeeDs swept the world by train and boat, sending back coordinates and information on Time Compressed sites to be returned to their proper homes.

And so it went until today, when at last so many would be granted what they sought and others what they dreaded or would never accept.

The last of the mechanisms hissed into place in the subbasement. The new generators, humming with suppressed power, poured energy into the great metal arch that stood at the back of the assembly hall, the only place large and unused enough they could put them. On the stage, Commander Zabala faced the arch, one hand lifted, waiting.

"When you're ready?" Headmaster Cid said, stepping up next to her. Zabala flashed him a brief look, but saw nothing she didn't expect; nervousness, a tinge of perspiration, and general concern all around. After everything he'd been through, in some ways he hadn't changed at all.

She found that faintly comforting, as she dropped her hand and summoned Diablos. The GF burst upward in a crash of bats and energy, its great gravity magic gathering in its hand. At the perfect moment, according to timing only it knew, it hurled the sphere into the midst of the arc, the area around it deforming as it distorted everything around it from sheer gravity. The magic froze in the center of the arch, electricity crackling around its exterior, for one moment -- then the very cosmos itself ripped open with a horrible screeching tearing feeling right behind the stomach, and the black ball blew outwards into a rainbow sheen of Time Compression that sheeted the interior of an arch like a film of soapy water.

The Commander lifted her voice to address the crowds that stood behind her. "It is open. Any of you who wish to stay may do so. Any of you who wish to return will always have a place here. The rest of you..."

She turned, snapped her heels together, and lifted her hand in a salute. "Dismissed."

You can go home now, if you want.
You can go anywhere, if you want, and you know how to get there or just get lucky.
So long as you have your Junction Device, you can come back.
Or you can stay. There's a lot of Time Compression left in the world to be sent back to its proper place. There are monsters to fight, cities to rebuild, and for some, classes to finish and exams to take. There are Gardens and vehicles to fix, and a world to set off on a new course. Hopefully a better one.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, Balamb Garden will have a place for you still. And maybe, a decade or two down the line, your sons and daughters will step through the archway, clutching an admission letter, a shiny new Junction Device, and the knowledge that they can train to be the elite mercenaries respected not just here, but in all the worlds Time Compression has ever touched.

The future is bright and brilliant. And today is a very good day.