Third post for the week 11-12 saga.
The behemoth is bumbling its way toward the balcony, seeking out what Laguna has thrown. Ultimecia glares, and the behemoth disappears, possibly to lumber through a crowd of penguins or sixteenth century peasants. She doesn't care.
Rinoa is clawing at her temples, trying desperately to break through.
Ultimecia rearranges her robes idly, and nods in Quistis' direction. "Bring Quistis and Ellone here," she orders. Xu nods, and sends two of the biggest guards down into the arena, the ones most likely to come back out alive.
"As for the rest of them..." She pauses, narrowing her eyes; Rinoa's memories are partially secondhand, drawn from Squall, from other sources. She sees a scarred face, a fight in a grey stone quarry. The emperor has arranged this for her amusement. He would like to keep his city intact for a few more hours.
She has always enjoyed watching mankind destroy their own. "The gladiators," she decides, smiling, Rinoa's full lips twisting into a sneer. "Let's give the riff-raff a show."
It is the year 33. The fall of the Republic has paved the way for the rise of the Dollet Empire. Far from the crumbling dukedom of your era, this is a nation at the height of its power. After almost a century of civil wars, slave rebellions, and conspiracies, the Empire emerged, the first truly global superpower. For much of the Republic, the army was the sole domain of wealthy landowners, a mostly volunteer force led by inept consuls. As the civil wars dragged into their fourth decade, a general initiated sweeping reforms.
Under his leadership, the disenfranchised commoners could earn a living as professional soldiers. The state bought their weapons and arms, provided them a salary, offered them retirement benefits. This standing army became one of the most powerful forces the world has ever known, able to reach any point on the continent by a network of well-maintained roads. Beyond that, galleys set sail every day, and even the governors of far-flung provinces (modern Trabia in the north all the way to the Centran continent in the south) live in opulent splendor.
As you come to, you find yourselves surrounded. Swords on all sides, gleaming metal, ready to strike. There's at least a full century (eighty soldiers) at the ready, and it looks like more are close at hand.
"Surrender" commands a voice. Even as he speaks, his ancient dialect translates in your head; a gift, perhaps, from Ultimecia.
"As I promised, centurion," comes another, this one unmistakably Xu's. "Chains for them all, and be cautious -- the town they destroyed bore unmistakable signs of witchcraft."
Her face is hidden behind a hood, but there's no mistaking the pleasure in her voice as she looks at your group. "The first time you see them using magic, put them to death. It is the Emperor's will."
The world folds in on itself, an origami universe.
When you open your eyes, you're in a dark place, and you're sitting on a stone floor. Your comrades mutter and swear and question where they are as they wake, and you have no answers. No one has any answers, not when Ultimecia pulls stunts like this.
In the distance, there is an unearthly screech, followed by what sounds like the roar of a T-Rexaur, only louder, primitive.
Where on earth are you? When are you?
Welcome to the beginning of time, Players. Ultimecia has hidden a doorway on the other side of this prehistoric jungle, which, if you open it, will deliver you back to your present time, with a city of your choice restored as if she had never touched it. You get to pick: Esthar, Timber, Galbadia, Balamb. A portion of civilization is at stake. Be quick, but don't be careless.