The first sign of the end is a golden-yellow light. Flaring brightly from the roof of Galbadia Garden, it soars, cutting a graceful arc against the washed-out winter sky -- and then, at its apex, tears downward. The roof of Balamb Garden stands no chance; the ceiling of the ballroom below barely has time to buckle. In an eruption of metal shrapnel that clatters all the way down the outside like hail -- not to mention under the feet of any combatants still up top -- it gives way.
To the people still fighting, it's a cue. Maybe a Sol Invictus member takes it as a signal to charge; maybe a SeeD on what remains of the barricade senses the urgency and motions her allies to follow: Within minutes, both sides of the battle flood inside Balamb Garden and pour into the ballroom.
But there, the brawls, shouts, and wildly flung spells trickle to a standstill. The crowd stops, packed in too closely to fight, and blinks at the display.
At the far edge of the ballroom stands a haggard but familiar figure in a tattered sweater-vest: the missing Headmaster Cid -- and his three Sol Invictus captors. On his left, a graying leather-jacketed man holds a knife to the Headmaster's throat and another between his shoulder blades, less than an inch away from thrusting home. On his right, a burly young woman points a gun to his head, a clearly pinless grenade held with calm professionalism in her other hand. The third of the trio, a woman covered from her neck down in tarnished chain mail, hasn't laid a hand on the Headmaster yet, but only because both of hers are clasped together and crackling furiously with power; anybody who steps inside the translucent but hotly glowing sphere around her, her compatriots and their hostage will find themselves suddenly seized with electrical current and violently flung aside. The message is unambiguous: try anything and the Headmaster will die.
And in the middle
of the ballroom is the main spectacle, from which few onlookers from either SeeD or Sol Invictus can seem to tear their eyes away: the scrape and clash of sword against giant sword, the same blaze of gold suffusing the air -- Ien, the leader of Sol Invictus himself, bearing down on Commander Erlea Zabala with his daiklave flashing through her defensive stance like a sunbeam.(ooc: With this final showdown, the Battle of 3 Gardens comes to a close. Subthreads have been provided below for reactions to B3G's denouement; you are free to make your own.
For information on the next stage of endgame, look here!)