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"Now that the game opening cinema is over, we now get to hear the oh-so-fake sound of wind whistling through the trees, as well as some sporadic lightning strikes. Get a six-year-old to reenact the tornado scene from 'The Wizard of OZ' and you've pretty much got the sound now offending my ears."
     -Kelly, Legend of Dragoon Part 1

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Final Fantasy VIII : Part 4
By Jeanne
Posted 01.09.03
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
When last we left off, Squally was just summoned to the front gate by an overly perky Selphie for their first mission. Dressed in his favorite gay leather outfit once again, he heads out front. Um, so to speak.

As soon as Squally gets to the front gate, the mission music starts playing. Selphie, Headmaster Cid, and a creepy-ass Garden faculty dude are already there. Selphie does the trademark checking-shoes-for-dog-shit move again. Suddenly, Zell arrives on a hoverboard from Back to the Future. No, not the pink one, surprisingly. He's all proud of himself for making it just in the nick of time, but then the creepy-ass Garden faculty dude bursts Zell's bubble by confiscating the "T-board". Apparently, they are forbidden in Garden, as forbidden as the love between Squally and Seifer. Another random creepy-ass Garden faculty dude happens to arrive just in time to take the hoverboard away. Then Zell gets a boring lecture about setting an example for other students because he is a SeeD. Blah, blah, blah.

Cid happened to put on his Exposition Sweater Vest that day, and so he provides the details of Squally, Selphie, and Zell's first mission. They are going to Timber, where a member of a resistance faction that they are supposed to help will contact them. The person will say a phrase, and Squally or whoever is supposed to respond with a certain password. I don't understand why Cid can't just tell the dude to look out for a skater, a girl in a short dress, and a gay, leather-wearing young man. Of course, this is a Square game, so I guess everyone would fit at least one of those descriptions.

Now that makes me feel reassured.

Headmaster Cid goes on to say that all they need to do is follow the orders of the resistance group, and that they're not getting much money for the mission. Well, that's just great. He starts to explain why he agreed to it, but since we're not supposed to know that yet (or something), he randomly decides not to say anything. In a plot twist that could have been predicted by no one, Squally is named the squad leader. I randomly talk to Cid after his explanation is finished, and he gives Squally a magic lamp. The lamp is supposed to be helpful. That's good. Unfortunately, the lamp is cursed. That's bad. Squally sticks the lamp in his magical disappearing sack, and the trio heads to Balamb.

The town is hopping, as usual. Squally, Zell, and Selphie walk to the train station, where they drop a whopping 3000 gil for tickets. Garden didn't even bother to cover that. Bunch of wankers. In an especially exciting scene, the train heads out of the station and into an underwater tunnel. You're at the edge of your seats, I just know it.

Squally likes that imagery.

After the train enters the tunnel, we cut back to our heroes. Squally looks bored, but Selphie is practically creaming herself with the excitement of being on a train. Zell explains to everyone that they are in an underwater tunnel, as if they somehow missed that fact. "Pretty cool, huh?" he finishes. "Sure is..." Squally replies with an amount of sarcasm I could only dream of having at my disposal. Zell almost cries, but then he recovers and randomly explains to Squally that he needs to swipe his ticket in order to enter the main part of the car. I'm sure that was totally directed to Squally and not to me, the player, at all. Squally looks at the door opener thingy with his hand on his hip, and then lets Zell and Selphie into the main chamber. I don't know why they only have one ticket for the three of them. Maybe Zell and Selphie are just too helpless to use their own tickets. I'm confused.

This isn't the best thing to say around Squally.

Thank goodness Zell is in this scene to provide all the exposition. In the corridor, he explains that the one door leads to SeeD's private cabin. Squally inwardly curses the fact that Seifer didn't become a SeeD and therefore isn't able to spend some personal time in the private cabin with him. Zell is just a little too excited about the room, and after Squally leaves Selphie to her song about trains, he follows Zell inside. The interior consists of a large, L-shaped couch, and a bunk bed. Apparently, this is super thrilling, causing Zell to bounce up and down on the couch like he's ten years old. "...I'm glad you're so excited," Squally says, forgetting for a moment that it's Zell on the couch and not Seifer. In another riveting turn of events, Zell informs Squally that there are magazines in the cabin, and Squally receives his first "Pet Pals" volume. I can't see Squally being interested in anything involving pets, unless the word "petting" refers to him and Seifer.

Um...what's he doing in there?

Squally joins Zell on the couch, looking at the floor all poutingly. "This is pretty damn amazing. It pays to be a member of SeeD!" Zell gushes. Dude, it's just a frickin' train car. Then, Zell suddenly pulls out his Exposition Hair Gel and asks if Squally knows about Timber. Since Squally must be the most idiotic SeeD ever to grace Garden with his presence, I choose the option to have Zell explain all about their destination. Long story short -- Timber used to be surrounded by forests (hence the name "Timber" -- go fig), but Galbadia invaded 18 years ago and occupied the country. Keep that timeframe in mind -- everything happened 18 years ago. Apparently there are an assload of resistance groups, but they all must suck considering that Timber is still occupied by Galbadia. At the end of Zell's explanation, Squally says, "...Thank you, Mr. Know-It-All-Zell," which isn't really fair, since technically he asked Zell to explain all that shit. Zell looks like he's about to cry again.

At that moment, Selphie randomly enters and says she doesn't feel well. She looks like she's about to pass out. Squally helpfully explains that Selphie should rest if she's tired. Thank you, Mr. Know-It-All-Squally. Suddenly, Zell starts to feel tired, too. He and Selphie collapse on the couch as we hear this really annoying high-pitched sound. Squally clutches at his head as he, too, falls victim to the Mysterious Plot Point Furthering Sleepiness. He collapses on the floor, wishing that Seifer's naked body were there to cushion his fall. Fade out.

Hurry or Some Bad Shit's Gonna Happen music plays in the background as we fade in on some guys in a forest. They are wearing the blue and silver Galbadia army uniforms that we saw earlier. As the three guys converse with each other, what presumably are the confused reactions of Squally, Zell, and Selphie appear onscreen in text boxes. I have no damn idea what's going on.

"Uhh, Laguna, are you sure this is the right way?" one of the guys asks. I take this to mean that one of the guys is named Laguna. Bow down to my deductive reasoning skillz. Then I get control of the trio. The first random battle has a distinct difference in music from the other random battles in the game. This one involves a rather disco-y sound, something that always makes me think "random battle". The three guys are named Laguna, Ward, and Kiros (thanks, battle screen). Both Laguna and Kiros are rather girly, but Ward is a big hulk with quite a harpoon. After the battle, the three go running along the path some more, through a burning field, and over a creek. In the meantime, random thoughts from Squally, Zell, and Selphie display on the screen. One of them wonders if this is a dream. I wonder why this dream has Laguna, Kiros, and Ward junctioned with the exact same GFs and magic as my original three characters. The Galbadian army uses GFs? I am still very confused.

The three men pause, and suddenly Ward expositionally wonders, "Hey, aren't we here to fight a war? You know, against the almighty Timber army?" I bet the other two are really glad he reminded them that they were fighting a war. That's the sort of thing that one tends to forget. It turns out that Laguna is lost, but he also says that they're going home to Deling City. I love how none of this dialogue makes sense. Laguna runs on ahead and the other two guys follow him. There happens to be a vehicle on the next screen, and they all pile in. Is it their vehicle? A random one that just happened to be on the opposite side of the forest from where they were? They never explain it, so let's just move on.

There is an inordinate amount of time spent on showing the vehicle starting up and suddenly we see it drive into a city. I'm guessing that this is Deling City. Laguna parks in the middle of the street, and when Ward tells him he can't do that, Laguna just says, "Chill man, it's cool." I think what we're supposed to get out of this is that Laguna is fucking insane. The three get out of the car, and Laguna is all raring to get a drink. So much so, in fact, that he uses some extra punctuation. Dude, it's just a drink. This time Kiros wonders about the war they're supposed to be fighting. We get it -- they're supposed to be fighting a war. Ward, who must have lived in my dorm in college, says, "So we'll get smashed and then we'll CHAAARGE!" Whoever is these guys' commanding officer is going to be really pissed off. Laguna says that they're misunderstanding him. "I just want to have a friendly drink with you two." Isn't that what they thought? It's not like they said, "Damn it, Laguna, I don't want to get drunk and have another orgy."

A bunch of cars screech to a halt behind Laguna's parked car, but Laguna doesn't care. He just runs down the middle of the street, past the glorious fountain, and into the creatively-named Galbadia Hotel. The inside is your typical marble-floored "fancy" hotel lobby, but that's not where Laguna and company are headed. Nope, they run down the staircase and into the rather nice cocktail lounge in the basement. There's even a piano on a small stage. I wouldn't mention it, but it becomes important in a minute or so. The waitress or whoever tells them that their "usual" table is ready, so from this we're supposed to gather that Laguna is a big boozehound. It would explain a lot. Interestingly, "boozehound" is an actual word because MSWord doesn't underline it the same way it does "Seifer" or "Tidus McWankerson". Just thought you'd like to know.

I know I sure wouldn't want to be anywhere near him.

Anyway, we get to see the lovely table, surrounded by a cushy blue booth. Again, random thoughts from the original three characters flash onscreen. One of them wonders if it's a dream, not that the writers are repetitive or anything. Another, probably Squally, thinks that Laguna is cute. Later on in the game, you'll figure out why this is sick, not that that stops many doujinshi writers. Zell (most likely) is freaking out, wondering what's going on. If not for these random thoughts, I might think that it was not weird that everyone randomly fell asleep and I started a completely different storyline.

The three men sit down, and Laguna jumps up a second later as if someone just grabbed his ass. The only possible perpetrator is Kiros. "We're goin' all out tonight, right boys!?" Laguna gushes, sounding like FFVIII is about to turn into a gay porno. Like that's new. Then he sits back down. The waitress stops to take their order, and they all order the usual, whatever that is. I can't describe how exciting this scene is so far. The camera shows the entire bar again, and we see a woman in a red dress make her way to the piano, just as Ward tells Laguna that someone named Julia will be appearing soon. Well, what do you know -- it looks like the woman in the red dress is Julia and Laguna wants to get in her, dress. Kiros and Ward both tell Laguna to "go for it" with Julia, but Laguna's a big damn chicken. Julia starts playing a song that we'll hear about fifty gazillion times in as many different forms before the game is over. It turns out that all Kiros and Ward want Laguna to do is wave at Julia -- apparently they haven't learned about the birds and the bees yet. Laguna finally gets up the courage to walk up to the stage in front of everyone in the bar, and wave at his object of affection. First, he talks to everyone else in the bar. They all want Julia, too. Julia just got a new name -- MarySulia.

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