FINAL FANTASY VIII ANALYSIS ON ULTIMECIA AND TIME
Version 12.0
By: Sir Bahamut ------- Real name: Kristian J. Strømmen
                                 
      TheOnionKnight -- Real name: B. Burke
                                 
      Squall_of_SeeD -- Real name: Glenn Morrow



                               ---------

            ~HOW TO NAVIGATE QUICKLY~
                               
To skip straight to specific sections of the FAQ just do a 
text search for the code in the square brackets to the right of
the section title below.
                                
Example: searching NT1 will take you to the "Introduction"
of section 2.              
                                --------




Sections:
I.    General FAQ Information
             ~ Purpose of the FAQ
             ~ Brief Summary of the Various Sections 
             ~ About the Authors and Contact Information
             ~ Version History
             ~ Copyright Info
      
II.   The Nature of Time and Time Compression in FF8 [NT0]
             ~ Introduction [NT1]
             ~ The Static Time Model 
                      - The axioms [NT2]
                      - General discussion [NT3]
                      - Defending the axioms [NT4]
             ~ The flow of time [NT5]
             ~ A Brief History of Time (in FF8) [NT6]
             ~ The time-loop [NT7]
             ~ Sorceress powers in the time-loop [NT8]
             ~ Ellone's powers and the Junction Machine Ellone [NT9]
             ~ Time compression [NT10]
                      - General discussion [NT11]
                      - The "Hippie weirdness" problem [NT12]
             ~ The final battle and ending FMV [NT13]
             ~ The time compression sorceresses [NT14]
             ~ The Ragnarok and the blocked off cities [NT15]
             ~ Discussion on fate [NT16]
             ~ What about the real world? [NT17]
                      - Static vs dynamic [NT18]
                      - The flow of time in the real world [NT19]
             ~ How about alternate universes? [NT20]
             ~ Dynamic Time - The alternative [NT21]
                         
III.  Ultimecia.
             ~ Preface [U1]
             ~ The Rinoa = Ultimecia theory [UR1]
                      - The basis [UR2]
                      - The hints (with responses): [UR3]
                             * Witches and immortality [UR4]
                             * Witches and dying in peace [UR5]
                             * Witches and Hyne [UR6]
                             * Witches and appearances [UR7]
                             * Witches and Wings [UR8]	
                             * Ultimecia and Rinoa's faces [UR9]
                             * Griever [UR10]
                             * The possible origin of Ultimecia's name [UR11]
                             * "Becoming warped" [UR12]
                             * Rinoa allowing Squall to kill her [UR13]
                             * Time compression [UR14]
                             * The location of Ultimecia's castle [UR15]			
                             * Ultimecia's words during the final battle [UR16]
                             * Dissidia [UR17]
                      - Various flaws [UR18]
                      - A Fair Shake [UR19]
                      - Conclusion [UR20]
                      - Afterword [UR21]
                              * The issue of 'valid interpretations' [UR22]
                              * Concerning the role of official sources [UR23]
                      
             ~ An Ultimecian Analysis - The Unjust Persecution [UP0]
                      - How History is Written [UP1]
                      - Anticipating Ultimecia [UP2]
                      - "Destined to Face Me" [UP3]
                      - A Rose By Any Other Name [UP4]
                      - To Compress, or Not to Compress -To Compress, Of 
                        Course! [UP5]
                      - A Few Final Remarks [UP6]
                      - Summary for the "Lazy Reader" [UP7]

IV.   Additional Information [AD1]
             ~ Ultimania Information [AD2]
             ~ Miscellaneous In-Game Information [AD3]
             ~ Tutorial Information [AD4]
             ~ Squall's Terminal Information [AD5]
             ~ Adel's motives [AD6]
             ~ The End of the Succession of Witches [AD7]
             ~ Laguna and Squall? [AD8]
             ~ "The Plot Twist" [AD9]
             ~ Connection between Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy
               VIII? [AD10]
             ~ Enigma of the Deep Sea Research Center [AD11]
             ~ Another (literary) Ultimecian Analysis [AD12]
  
V.   Credits.

 =======================================
 -Section I: General FAQ Information-
 =======================================


~Purpose of the FAQ~

 This FAQ will provide in-depth and varied explanations and insights into 
 two of the most frequently debated bits of the game: the nature of time 
 in FF8, and the mystery of Ultimecia.

 These two topics, especially the latter, pop up so frequently on the forums 
 here (and everywhere else for that matter) that I and some others decided to 
 compile what we knew after having participated in discussions on both 
 subjects for several years. We do not claim to have all the answers or the
 best theories or anything. We have merely been in discussions on these
 matters for many years, and feel that we collectively have got a pretty good
 idea on what's going on with certain aspects of the plot.  We hope you
 will agree that there's something worthwhile to be found within this FAQ!

 You might have noticed that this site already has an FF8 Plot FAQ, addressing
 some of the same issues as this FAQ does. However, these authors felt it
 was quite lacking in the issues of time and Ultimecia, so we sought to try
 and get the content of this FAQ put into the other Plot FAQ. Unfortunately,
 this never worked out, so in the end, we were able to get our own FAQ posted.
 
 We hope you enjoy it! 

 PS: For those of you who didn't take the hint from the title of the FAQ,
        there WILL of course be massive SPOILERS on a regular basis! 
        The FAQ assumes you've completed the game and are familiar
        with the plot, so don't read it if that's not the case with you.


~Brief Summary of the Various Sections~

In the section "The Nature of Time and Time Compression in FF8" we will
explore theories about the nature of time in FF8, using various information
provided in the game, and ultimately use these theories to explain things
like the time-loop and time compression.

In the section "Ultimecia" we will discuss the background and motivations
for Ultimecia. This part will be split in two. The first part, "The Rinoa=Ulti-
mecia theory", will discuss the titular theory ultimately explaining why it
doesn't hold up under scrutiny. The next part, "An Ultimecian Analysis",
will describe the true background and motivations of Ultimecia as are told
to us in the game, and subsequently supported by the Ultimania.
 
 ------
 About the Authors:

 Unless explicitly specified otherwise, everything in this FAQ was written by
 Sir Bahamut. The FAQ is registered under my (Sir Bahamut's) name but
 only due to the fact that GameFAQ's couldn't put us all down as authors.
 In reality, this FAQ is very much the product of the collective efforts of all
 three people listed at the beginning of the FAQ. We have probably all
 written similar amounts in this FAQ too, so you really should view all three
 as being the rightful authors of this document.


 Contacting Sir Bahamut: kristian.strommen@ntebb.no
                          
 Contacting TheOnionKnight: nonarticulate@hotmail.com

 Contacting SquallOfSeeD: glenn.morrow@gmail.com
 

 Please contact Sir Bahamut for questions on the FAQ as a whole.
 For questions/comments on the various theories inside, contact whoever 
 wrote the bit in question. If unsure who to send to, send it to Sir Bahamut. 


 E-MAIL POLICY:
  Make subject "FF8 Plot FAQ" or something similar which makes it clear
  that the mail has got something to do with FF8 and the topics in the FAQ.
  No unnecessary attachments.
  If you do give me information, include the name you wish to
  be referred by in the credits section (or remain anonymous if you wish).
  No non-constructive criticism please ("your theories suck", "you're smelly"
  etc.).
  Don't send the same message many times; we will read all mails, but may
  take some time responding if we are busy/away.

  Remember, we may not be able to reply immediately, so have patience!
  If however, it's been several weeks, make a topic on the FF8 Message
  board at GameFAQs asking for whoever it is you can't reach (for instance,
  you might make a topic titled "Attn: Sir Bahamut"). Or try to resend the
  mail.

 ------
 Version History:

    1.0: First complete version (some time in 2004). 
  
    1.5: Updated the R=U section quite a bit, as well as
         adding some stuff to the Time/Timeloops section.

    3.0: Completely rewrote the entire section on Time after
         new breakthroughs in practically all fields. 

    4.0: Big update in the R=U section, due to new info from
         the Ultimania guide. Also added the "Additional
         Information" section, for various bits and pieces
         not necessarily related to Time or Ultimecia. 
         Unless something new and big pops up(unlikely) this
         will probably be the last major update.

    5.0: 1. October 2005 

         Went through and corrected mistakes coming from the rushed 4.0 
         update. Added The Dark Legend's bit on "The Plot Twist".
         Generally cleaned up the FAQ, adding a sentence here and there,
         removing a line now and then. The FAQ seems to be as good as it
         can get at this point. This will be the last 'cleaning up' I do of
         this FAQ. Future updates will only come from new theories/info. 

    6.0: 27. June 2006

         In light of the discovery that there existed some unfortunate flaws
         in the explanation of time compression, I took the opportunity to
         do a bit of cleaning up, clarifying some things and generally trying
         to make the FAQ more accessible. Unfortunately, the mentioned flaws
         have not been solved, and will not be solved by these authors. We are
         all tired of the issue, and all have more important things to deal 
         with in the real world. Perhaps someone will solve the TC problem in
         the future (if you have done so and are reading this, send us a
         mail!), but it will not be one of us. The problem is explained in
         the 'UPDATE (2006)' note under "The PLOT thickens".  

    7.0: 6. July 2006

         Typically enough, as soon as I think I've made the last update, I 
         instantly get several mails with new and interesting contributions,
         this time primarily from one "Yuthura Ban". So had to add some stuff
         to the "Additional Information" in the Time part, as well as a few
         bits to the R=U part and the Unjust Persecution section. 

    8.0: 7. August 2008

         Almost exactly two years after the last update, this new, substantial
         update is finally here, having been in the working for more than a
         year. The new version includes a huge overhaul of the entire section
         on time/time compression, including explanations for more events,
         more detailed and thorough presentations, a better model for time
         compression and most excitingly perhaps, a new explanation for
         one of the big unsolved problems on time compression ("hippie
         weirdness"). There have been slight additions and edits on the
         Rinoa=Ultimecia theory section, including what is hopefully some 
         more enlightening closing words on what exactly its current status is. 

         Finally, the entire FAQ was very kindly and generously given a
         thorough (and much needed) spell-check by one Douglas "Fox-Raweln"
         Meneghetti! So the new version's got quite a lot to it which I hope the
         reader will enjoy. It must be said though (although I may yet live to 
         retract this) that this is almost certainly the last major update this 
         FAQ will see. Considering that the time taken to complete these 
         updates has increased so dramatically lately and that myself (Sir 
         Bahamut) and TheOnionKnight, the only remaining authors now, are 
         likely to only get busier as time goes by, it just seems a bit 
         hopeless to think of another major update. In addition, the topics 
         discussed definitely are feeling quite exhausted to these authors. 

         That being said, we hope this new big update will be a nice way to
         leave this FAQ for future readers, and that not too many flaws will
         be discovered as time passes. If you find any, please do send a 
         mail to me (Sir Bahamut) at kristian.strommen@ntebb.no

   8.1: 5th September 2009
   
         Originally intended to be an unmarked update to change an e-mail
         address, I decided to write a quick and concise summary of the main
         ideas of static time. The full description there is quite lengthy and I
         thought some might be more interested in how static time explains
         various ingame events more than how static time itself works, so I 
         spent 10 minutes writing up something which will hopefully be
         helpful!
    
   9.0: 23rd November 2009

         How many times will I proclaim to have made the last update only to 
         make a major update later? Probably several more times by the looks
         of it.
         
         This update came about primarily because TheOnionKnight
         decided to completely rewrite his "Unjust Persecution" piece
         on Ultimecia's background and motives. Squall_Of_SeeD then
         came out of 'retirement' and wrote a short section about Dissidia's
         impact (or lack thereof) on the R=U theory. New information then
         came to light concerning the TC witches, which is discussed in the
         relevant section. Finally I ended up adding a few notes in various
         places, making changes here and there, wrote a brief summary of
         the Unjust Persecution theory and also added a discussion on the
         role of the Ultimania and other official sources when analysing the 
         game. Squall_Of_SeeD also updated his exposition on "Dynamic Time".
         
         Hopefully the changes will all seem satisfactory. All three authors
         are certainly very pleased with the result!
          
  10.0: 12th August 2010

         The main motivation for this new update started with the
         realization that the 'feedback' problem (discussed in [NT8]) is in
         essence mathematical in nature and could thus possibly be tackled
         head on as a mathetical problem. This led to the proposition of two
         new possible resolutions on 'feedback', leading to a long debate on
         all the various considerations and implications, and possible other
         explanations.

         In addition, several other things to update were brought to light.
         Ryan Goss's idea of why Ultimecia needed to be in the past to
         cast time compression, and a new section by TheOnionKnight on 
         phiefer's idea about Adel's motivations. Squall_Of_SeeD also updated
         his text on Dynamic Time and the R=U section. Many small changes 
         were made reflecting new Ultimania translations, including e.g. AD7.
         The 'Unjust Persecution' section was in this vein also updated to 
         include information proving conclusively that Ultimecia was a name
         known to people, thus making it overwhelmingly likely that she would
         be remembered in the future. We hope you like it!

  11.0: 7th March 2011 

         The original prompt for this update was the surprising discovery,
         thanks to Gwendal and others, that there is a hidden tutorial entry
         buried in the games code which cannot be unlocked by legitimate
         means. The tutorial entry is titled "Succession of Witch Powers", and
         provided us with extremely useful and enlightening new information
         relevant to the whole 'feedback problem' in [NT8]. 

         Then, on an entirely unrelated tangent arising at the same time, 
         TheOnionKnight and Squall_Of_SeeD began participating in a discussion
         on the possible connections between FF8 and FF3, as well as the nature
         of the Deep Sea Research Center This resulted in two new sections 
         you can find in the "Additional Information" part of the FAQ. 

         As usual, some other minor changes were made, but the above covers
         the critical updates. We hope you enjoy the additions.

  12.0: (Current Version) 28th March 2011

         TheOnionKnight's new text "Another (literary) Ultimecian Analysis"
         was added to the FAQ, and some further comments about the meaning
         of Ultimecia's name and its connection to 'paramecia'.

         All authors feel this update is fairly final in nature, but given
         previous history, you never know. We have no unfinished business 
         left in any case. We'll see!

  

 ------
 Copyright information.

 This game is a copyright Square, but this FAQ is a copyright 
 Sir Bahamut/TheOnionKnight/Squall_Of_SeeD 2011

 This is what you may do with this FAQ:
  1. You may read it.
  2. You may download it to your computer.
  3. Send it to others as long as you don't charge them or change the FAQ's 
     content, and don't present the authors as anyone else but Sir Bahamut, 
     TheOnionKnight and Squall_Of_SeeD. 

 This is what you may not do:
  1. Sell this guide for profit (unless consented by the authors).
  2. Steal information without giving the authors all the credit and asking 
     the authors beforehand.


 Websites may post this guide if they follow these conditions:
  1. The FAQ is not altered in any way. 
  2. The authors get full credit.
  3. You send the author a mail before posting it, telling me you wish
      to post it, and include the Web sites address.
  4. Do not post it without permission, and don't harass if denied.



 =====================================
 -Section II: The Nature of Time- [NT0]
 =====================================


 NOTE: Before reading, please understand that all this is based ONLY on 
       what the game tells us, common sense and logic. Considering the 
       magic, monsters, frequent time travel, etc., it would be a mistake to 
       automatically assume that FF8 physics are identical to real world 
       physics. The authors can after all take some artistic liberations in 
       their own game! Since we furthermore cannot study the FF8 world as
       real world physicists study our world, we are forced to make this a
       purely theoretical debate based solely on what the game tells us. 

       Essentially, this means that you'll hear no mention of the theory of
       general relativity, or quantum mechanics, or any such complex real-life 
       scientific theory when we try to explain things. Instead, we will be
       starting from scratch, adopting the simplest views and explanations
       possible, with the only requirement being that they are logically 
       coherent and explain what we see in the game. 


----------------------------------
 INTRODUCTION [NT1]
----------------------------------

Several vital elements of FF8 involve time in a very explicit manner. Ellone 
sends Squall  and Co. back in time repeatedly to try and change the past; 
Squall does the same after Rinoa is lost in space. Ultimecia is trying to 
literally compress all of time and then absorb it to become a god (see the 
Ultimecia section for more). More subtly, one of the major themes of the 
game is that of fate, a concept closely interwoven with the nature of time. 
These aspects of the game often inspire a significant amount of debate 
among gamers, as the game itself doesn't make too much explicitly clear 
about a lot of it. However, most disagreements boil down to different 
fundamental assumptions about time. Rather, people will be operating with 
slightly different models of time (e.g. models lifted directly from films like 
"Back to the Future," which seems one quite popular model, or the model 
we will present in this FAQ). 

Most such models are purely intuitive: the assumptions underpinning them 
are not made explicit or justified, and unsurprisingly so! Time is something 
so intrinsically part of our lives that most people will feel that they 
understand it even if modern science is more or less clueless, and so do 
not properly establish a consistent, logical framework to use when 
analysing FF8. This section of the FAQ aims to alleviate this situation by 
constructing a model of time with all assumptions made explicit and 
backed up by logic and in-game evidence. We will then use this model to 
develop a theory of time compression, and thus try to explain everything in 
the game which in some way is linked to the finer workings of time.

In the first section we will present the assumptions of the model, discuss 
their general implications and explain where they come from. Then we will 
discuss time compression and the rest of the time-related aspects of the 
game. Finally, we will explain where the assumptions of our model came 
from and why we use them.

It should be noted that there are essentially two basic different models 
possible. The assumption that you can't change the past leads to one, and 
the assumption that you can change it leads to the other. In this FAQ, for 
reasons that will become clear, we have heavily favoured the former idea, 
and it is this model which we will employ in this section and make a case 
for. Squall_Of_SeeD, however, advocates a model in which the past can be 
changed, and so his own outline of what such a model might look like and 
its capacity to explain in-game events can be found near the end of this 
section.


NOTE: If you find the following description of static time too inaccessible
          and long, then please skip to the section called "A Brief History of
          Time (In FF8)" (search code: NT7). A shorter, more compressed 
          account can be found there.


----------------------------------------------------
THE "STATIC TIME" MODEL
----------------------------------------------------

~The Axioms~  [NT2]

At the heart of the "static time" model we use in this section lie three main 
statements, assumptions, or "axioms," if you will. These are as follows:


1) A "moment" is defined as a single point in time. Then time can be 
thought of as an ordered, possibly continuous (i.e. infinitely divisible) 
sequence of moments. Such a sequence defines a "line of time."
(i.e. a line of time is a sequence of events coming in a specific order)

2) We define the "Universal Line of Time," abbreviated to ULOT, as being 
the line of time containing every moment in the history of the FF8 universe. 
Furthermore, the ULOT is of finite length (i.e. the FF8 universe doesn't last 
forever). Hence the ULOT, in other words, is a line of all events from the 
beginning of the FF8 universe to its end, viz


Beginning|----------------------------------------------------|End


3) The events (or moments) prior to any given reference point on any line of 
time cannot be altered by any means. Put more simply, no one can 
change the past.



~General discussion~ [NT3]

The first statement contains a lot that can be discussed. Note the intended 
generality of the definition of "A line of time" as opposed to "THE line of 
time." This is necessary because time-travel complicates things. If you 
follow Squall in-game, his progress through time is continous in nature 
(there are no weird jumps, as if you appear to have progressed from one 
point in time to another, missing out on a lot in between, like a film missing 
a section); from Squall's perspective it always looks like he's simply moving
forward in time. But when viewed on the ULOT, the thing most people 
would think of as "THE line of time," he's actually jumping around all over 
the place quite a bit, i.e. whenever he travels in time. This observation leads 
to the necessity of defining the "Personal Line of Time," abbreviated to 
PLOT. A PLOT is merely a line of time following the "life" of a single object, 
be it a person or a particle. To be pedantic, one could say that every 
fundamental particle has its own PLOT, and the PLOT of something like a 
human being would simply be the sum of the PLOTs of all particles making 
up that being. But the important idea is basically that we can and will talk 
about time as seen from different perspectives than the ULOT.

The idea of PLOTs implies that the ULOT is a somewhat inadequate way of 
viewing things, and that instead we should consider what has been dubbed 
the PLOT-sheet: that is, the ULOT is really a sheet made up of all the 
PLOTs of all particles in existence. Although the PLOT-sheet is in theory a 
better model than the simple ULOT, it turns out that in almost all cases it 
is just as easy to think only in terms of the ULOT, which is what we shall 
do throughout. However, it is helpful to keep in mind the idea of the 
PLOT-sheet, because it will occasionally be quite useful.

The fact that we call time "possibly continuous" is due to the fact we don't 
know whether or not there's a fundamental unit of time or not. To draw 
an analogy between the line of time and a number line, we don't know 
whether timelines are equivalent to a line of integers or a line of real 
numbers. If it's the former, then the single integer would correspond to the 
smallest unit of time: it simply wouldn't be possible to experience time on a
shorter scale. If it is the latter, however, just as in the reals we can 
always find a new number between two given ones, we could always divide a 
time interval into smaller sections; there'd simply be no lower limit as to 
how short a time interval one could experience. Time would be infinitely 
divisible. However, we have no way of  answering this question based on 
information from FF8, and in the end, it has no real impact on the questions 
tackled in this section, so we'll leave it at that.

Now, the astute reader will have noticed something more relevant, namely 
the circular nature of the 'definition' of time given. We define a moment as a 
point in time, and then define time as a sequence of moments - very 
circular indeed!  This circularity is an inevitable result of the fact that we 
don't really know what time is in a truly fundamental way. It may therefore 
be more sensible to consider time as the very ordering of moments, rather 
than the moments themselves, or perhaps somewhat equivalently, as a 
measurement of the distance between two moments. Launching into a full- 
scale investigation of the true nature of time would however not be prudent 
in such a limited FAQ. The bottom line is that most people will have an 
intuitive feel for the concept of the line of time outlined above despite its 
circularity, and for the purpose of the FAQ, that will be sufficient. 

Practically speaking the circularity was made in the direction of defining 
time as a sequence of moments because it more clearly leads to one of the
perhaps most useful analogies of time: the film analogy. In it, one imagines 
a moment in time as corresponding with a slide in a film. Any given line of 
time could thus be considered as being a film consisting of (possibly 
infinitely many) slides. The idea of time being ordered and continous would 
then analogously be that there are no film slides missing which cause 
the film to "jump," and that the events viewed in the film follow a linear 
progression. Assumption 2, that the ULOT is finite, then means that the 
total film of the FF8 universe has a beginning and an end. 

This analogy is helpful when making precise the idea of stuff actually 
happening in FF8. So consider, say, the event in which Squall dances with 
Rinoa. This event would be a sequence of moments, and would thus be 
represented as some small interval on the ULOT (of length 5 minutes, or 
however long they danced for). The sequence of moments making up this 
interval would then show the dance progressing moment by moment. In 
one moment you'd have Squall and Rinoa frozen in one particular position, 
and then in another position in a later moment. The film analogy quite 
literally describes what's going on. All these moments seen together then 
make up the event "Squall and Rinoa dance." In practice it is usually 
uneccessary to revert to this level of detail when describing events, and 
more straightforward language will be accurate enough. It is, however, 
helpful now and then to keep in mind that this film analogy describes what's
really going on.

Ok, so now that we have a basic idea of a line of time and a useful analogy 
with which to compare it, we can discuss the meaning of the third 
assumption. The statement of the past not being alterable from "any 
reference point" is a result of the fact that we see in the game that not just 
the past, but crucially also the future exists on the same line as the 
"present." We tend to consider the events we see in the game with Squall 
as being the "present," but as is revealed, the future already exists 
because Ultimecia is influencing Squall's era from it using the Junction 
Machine Ellone. But if the past cannot be changed from Squall's point of 
view, the same must certainly apply for Ultimecia; from her point of view, 
changing the past would be impossible. But her past includes Squall's 
future, hence Squall's future is in fact set in stone. The same argument can 
easily be extended to demonstrate that in the world of FF8, if you "can't 
change the past," time is set in stone in because all of time exists (not 
just "present"). So in FF8, time is set in stone.  

This is easier to understand from the fact that if the future and past exist on 
the same line as the present, those very terms become meaningful only 
relative to some given moment. There is no set, universal "present," 
"future" or "past." Rather, we have to talk about the future as seen from 
Squall's perspective at some given time, or the past as seen from 
Ultimecia's perspective at some given time. From the perspective of the 
ULOT, no moment is more special than any other, and the only difference 
between two moments is their temporal separation. So saying that the 
"past" cannot be changed is in fact equivalent to saying that time itself 
cannot be changed, i.e. the ULOT is set in stone. More formally, this 
corollary to assumption 3 could be stated as follows:

"The FF8 universe is uniquely described by one single, unalterable ULOT".

What is critical to note here is that this applies even to time-travelling 
events. Even if Ultimecia travels to her past to try and change things, every 
influence she has was already set in stone. Consider, say, the event in 
which Ultimecia gives her powers to Edea as seen in the ending. In no 
sense is Ultimecia changing anything when she does this, because there 
was never a time when Edea didn't receive powers from Ultimecia in this 
way. The event is set in stone. The slide is fixed, and so when Ultimecia 
went back into the past she was merely fulfilling her fate, so to speak. 
Similarly, no other time-travelling ended up changing anything, because if 
someone travels to the past, they always appeared in the past at that time, 
there was never a time when they didn't appear in the past and there will 
never be a time when they aren't in the past. Time is set in stone. This 
explains the name of this model of time. Time is "static" because it literally 
doesn't change.

In fact, although we deduced that the future exists by in-game observation, 
we could also deduce this directly from the assumption that you can't 
change the past. We start by making an initial assumption: the future does 
not exist. Beyond the "present," nothing is certain, but a choice, once 
made, cannot ever be unmade. But then we know that time-travelling is 
quite possible. So let's assume that we decide to travel back in time. Let's 
say we go back to the location of John Lennon's murder and disable the 
murderer, effectively preventing John Lennon from dying (note that I have for 
the sake of convenience used real world examples, while I should in fact be 
using examples from the FF8 plot). As you can see, we have arrived at a 
logical contradiction: we have changed the past even though changing the 
past is not possible. Hence we can conclude that the initial assumption
must necessarily have been false. But do things really improve if we start 
by assuming that the future exists? Well, if we look at things from John 
Lennon's perspective, the event in which you decide to travel back and save
him already exists just like his own present state. This effectively means 
that your travelling to the past isn't in any way changing anything. Things 
always happened like that; you would have attempted to stop the murderer, 
but would not have succeeded, and Lennon would have been subsequently 
shot. When you get the idea, many years later, that you will try and 
change things, you would naturally be unaware of this, leading you to travel 
to the past despite the fact that this would merely be fulfilling your 
"destiny." Your presence in the past is immutable. You were always there 
and were never not there. All the events on the ULOT are set in stone.

To make explicit one major difference between static time and its 
counterpart, dynamic time, we may note that in static time, the entire 
ULOT must have come into existence at once (in order for the future to 
exist), while in dynamic time, the ULOT would be continously growing from 
a single starting event, the future being created continously. This is 
apparent because in dynamic time the future cannot exist, for the same 
reason that it must exist for the past to be unalterable. In dynamic time you
can change the past, so the future doesn't exist. Time evolves dynamically, 
hence the name.



~Defending the axioms~ [NT4]

1) As discussed before, this assumption is more just a way to allow us to 
visualise things in a clear way. The definition has, as stated, heavy 
elements of circularity in it, and so is hardly ideal. But it seems to be the 
best we can do with our current understanding of time, while capturing the 
intuitive ideas we already have.

So there's not much that can be done to defend this one in other words. If 
you feel you can offer a significantly clearer definition please don't hesitate 
to send us a mail.

2) The only actual assumption here is that the ULOT is of finite length. Its 
basis lies in time compression, and results from the basic observation that 
the compression is not an instantaneous process, but rather runs at some 
finite "speed." But if the ULOT were infinite in length, it is reasonable that
it would take an infinite amount of time before the spell were completed. 
Since this seems a rather daft situation for Ultimecia to put herself in, and 
because the spell does appear to be nearly completed by the end of the 
final battle, we may conclude that the ULOT is finite in length.

One might argue that the speed at which time is compressed accelerates, 
the speed diverging to infinity. In such a scenario it may be possible that 
even with an infinite ULOT, time compression may be completed in a finite 
time interval. However, as this quickly becomes highly speculative and 
complex, we have chosen to make the simplifying assumption that the 
ULOT is simply finite in length, thus eliminating all such problems.

3) The third assumption is the real meat of static time, and what truly 
defines it. It is also the assumption which is the most debatable, and as 
such will be discussed in greater length.

The first argument for the assumption that you can't change the past is 
simple enough: Ellone states it outright on the space station.

Ellone: "You can't change the past. I just realized that."

She says this after she has painfully tried through the whole game to 
change it using Squall and Co., repeatedly sending them back into the 
bodies of Laguna and Co. As if that wasn't a strong enough message from 
Square, they even make Squall doubt it, and have him try and save Rinoa 
by changing the past himself. Yet despite Squall's efforts, he is not able to
change the fact that Rinoa gets lost in space, and a big point is made 
about the fact that Squall only saves her by risking his own life by going 
out after her in present time, so to speak. A fair point can be made that in 
these events where Squall is in the past through Ellone's powers he 
couldn't change the past because of the limitations imposed by her powers.
It is certainly possible to influence the past using her powers, as Ultimecia 
shows by using Edea so effectively. But Ultimecia's use of Edea may have 
crucially relied on Ultimecia's abilities as a sorceress, and while Laguna's 
stories of being influenced by "fairies" causing him to be more powerful in 
battle indicate some effect by Squall, he was perhaps not in a position to 
change anything. However, this is speculative, and from a story-line 
perspective it is clear what is being shown. They all show, culminating 
poignantly in Squall's desperate attempts in the escape pod, that you can't
change the past.

This message is equally noticeable in Ultimecia's character and story, 
although I will have to refer to the section called "An Unjust Persecution" 
for a proper discussion of her story. But in essence, one can see her entire 
mission to cast time compression and destroy SeeD as a result of her 
desire to change the past, but as it turns out, her attempt to change her 
past is what sets in motion the events of her tragic past anyway. There are,
furthermore, some quite specific elements of the ending which indicate that 
the past cannot be changed. Edea refers to having received her powers 
from Ultimecia, and indeed that is what we see happen. So it is clear from 
that, at least, that some things do not change, and so it is not unreasonable
that Square wished to imply that nothing changed.

The inability to control one's life by altering time underpins the game also 
in a more subtle way, in the guise of "fate." The concept of fate revolves 
around the idea that you are not in control of your own life, that you are 
destined to do certain things and so will do them whether you want to or 
not. In static time, fate can thus be seen as a way of rephrasing that time 
is set in stone, and so fate has a highly natural place in static time. This is 
relevant because one of the main themes of the game is fate. Cid talks a lot
to Squall of his fate, while Squall tries to deny it, as does Ultimecia, yet 
neither succeed, and so on. Indeed, the main musical theme of the game, 
"Liberi Fatali" (which plays e.g. in the opening FMV) literally means 
"Children of Fate" in reference to the main party.

Now, as fate is such a central concept in FF8, and such a point is made 
about several people's inability to change the past using time-travelling and 
such, we simply find it unlikely that Square actually intended the exact 
opposite: that actually you can change the past, it's just that Ellone and 
everyone else didn't manage. Of course this is quite possible (e.g. a 
legitimate case can be made about Ellone's failure being a result of Squall 
and Co's lack of attempts to deliberately alter Laguna and Co.'s natural 
paths). It is even possible to explain why some things clearly don't change 
(e.g. Edea getting Ultimecia's powers) while still allowing the past to be 
alterable, as Squall_Of_SeeD demonstrates. However, these ideas tend to 
result in a ULOT which actually asymptotically approaches a static ULOT 
anyway (that is, time evolves in such a way that the time-loop in the game 
discussed later gradually settles down to an unalterable loop, at which point 
the model becomes indistinguishable from a static ULOT), and so dynamic 
time becomes more a theory based on intuition. As we will see, there are 
some highly unintuitive aspects of static time which lend credence to this 
approach,  but in the end, we (Sir Bahamut and TheOnionKnight) figured 
that, after all, when the game goes to all that trouble of implying that you 
can't change the past and that time is set in stone (i.e. fate), it just seems 
more reasonable to follow that prompt rather than attempt to work around it.

Static time also appeals more than its counterpart, "dynamic time," where 
the past can be changed, for aestethic reasons. Static time simply yields 
a clearer, simpler and more elegant picture of time, and its explanations 
are equally simple and elegant, as we shall soon see. If we assume the 
past can be changed, a whole lot of trouble arises simply because it's 
awfully hard to define a sensible manner in which events could be altered 
anyway (something we discuss more in the next section). Static time 
avoids all such problems and, as such, is seen by both myself (Sir 
Bahamut) and TheOnionKnight as being the superior model. All further 
discussion in this section will thus be assuming static time as the 
foundation.


------------------------------------------
THE FLOW OF TIME [NT5]
------------------------------------------

There is one aspect of time which is so entrenched in our lives, so 
intuitively true that we rarely if ever question it or even think about it, 
even in discussions on time-travel and the like. That aspect is what is 
commonly dubbed the "flow" of time, and is the observation that we seem to be 
inexorably and unceasingly moving from the past to the future. The very 
fact that we observe motion indicates a passage of time, and that we are 
flowing down the river of time, carried along by its steady flow, from the 
past to the future, our own position at all points representing the "present." 
Few if any would deny that this is what we feel to be true, and an essential 
part of life. However, could our intuition be fooling us? Does the concept of 
a flow of time make sense?

The answer, in fact, seems to be a resounding no! The reason for this can 
be found by simply considering what time "flowing" could mean in a 
physical sense. "Flow" implies that some sort of change is occurring, that 
there is a change in time which results in "now" becoming "then," the 
present becoming the past and the future becoming the present. There is a 
direct implication of some form of motion, or at least change, in the very 
concept of time flowing. Yet this is in reference to time itself. Time itself 
would be undergoing change. But time by its very nature measures change; 
change is actually nothing but a recognition of the passing of time. Nothing 
changes without time having passed. So what possible sense could one 
make of time itself changing? Time itself would have to experience a 
passage through time, which appears patently absurd! One would seem to 
have to appeal to the notion of a higher-dimensional time, one which 
records the passing of time of the ULOT. But then this higher-dimensional 
time would also require its own higher-dimensional time, creating a chain of 
higher-dimensional time-dimensions seemingly extending to infinity.

The absurdity of this should readily be apparent. You might now suggest 
that although time itself is not moving, we are moving through time, thus 
accounting for the apparent flow. However, although more subtle, this does 
not avoid the problem described above. If we are ourselves tracing through 
prescribed events in time, then our presence at some event and 
subsequent departure from it represents a change in time itself too. To 
make an analogy, one could think of our motion through time as illuminating
the slides of a film, one by one, and the slide currently illuminated 
represents "present." However, the act of a slide being illuminated to then 
become dark again represents change of time itself, and thus becomes 
absurd again.

It appears that in static time (and any model of time really), time is indeed 
entirely static, like a frozen block of ice rather than a flowing river, and 
flow of time is an illusion. Such an illusion would not be too hard to 
explain. At any moment in time, our minds are in a state which have recorded 
events prior to it, strongly suggesting that we have flown from the past in 
order to arrive at that particular moment. So to our minds it would always 
seem as if we have flown through time, even if that were not the case at all, 
thus creating the apparent illusion.

Although this works quite nicely and makes static time look very nice 
indeed, we can all recognise that this explanation is not satisfying. Our 
intuitive feeling of "flow" is far too strong. Absurd or not, we all feel 
ourselves moving through time in some sense, and any model which does 
not incorporate this aspect will undoubtedly feel artificial. This fact, that 
the flow of time is entirely illogical yet so powerfully intuitive, is perhaps
one of the biggest problems about time there is, also in the real world, where
there is no solution as of today. So what do we do about it? For the purposes
of this FAQ, we have decided that the problem is unsolvable. We will not try 
to artificially impose a mechanism for the flow of time to work, as a 
sensible mechanism is not known, but will not reject the flow of time either. 
Basically, some effort has been made to make the theories contained in 
the FAQ not depend on notions implying any changes in time itself, except 
in the most intuitively obvious ways. After all, it is probably impossible to 
purge all references to the flow of time from this document, and attempting 
to do so would just make things confusing.

One thing should be said though, and that is that in static time, if one is to 
think of time flowing at all, one has to think of it as flowing forward from 
every event at once, since the past and future all exist. This is why when 
Squall travels to the past in the ending, time is still "flowing" forward for 
his younger self.


----------------------------------------------------------------
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME (IN FF8) [NT6]
----------------------------------------------------------------

If you have already read all the above and feel confident in your understanding
of the main ideas of static time then you can safely skip this section. 
If, on the other hand, you thought the above was far too lengthy (it really is 
quite lengthy I have to admit) or convoluted then this section will attempt to 
give a brief, hopefully more accessible summary of what the static time model 
is all about. This should allow you to read the rest of the FAQ without too 
much confusion.


In FF8 we essentially distinguish between two possible models for time,
depending on whether or not you allow the past to be changeable. If you say
"the past can be changed" then the result is what we call a dynamic theory 
of time. If you say "the past cannot be changed" then the result is what we 
call the static theory of time (note that there might be many slightly differing
versions of dynamic time but there is in essence only one theory of static 
time). In this FAQ we have determined that static time works best.

There are several reasons for this. For one it is a whole lot simpler to grasp 
and also to use. Dynamic time has a huge problem in simply specifying HOW 
the past changes (does the one single timeline change? Are there multiple 
timelines?) and no convincing model has so far been proposed. Static time 
requires no added complications.

Most importantly, though, the idea that the past cannot be changed is implied
by the game itself. Ellone states outright that "you can't change the past", and
Squall himself experiences this when he is unable to prevent Rinoa from falling
into her coma. Ultimecia herself is unable to change her destiny of being 
killed by Squall (see the section "An Ultimecian Analysis"). In addition "fate"
is a big theme in the game, and fate goes hand in hand with the idea that you 
can't change time.

So accepting that you cannot change the past it is not hard to see that all of
time must be immutable. Since Ultimecia's past is Squall's future, Squall's 
future cannot be changed. This generalises immediately and we see that in FF8 
all of time is set in stone. All events already exist and none of the events
can be changed. Any attempt using time-travelling will simply be another set of
events in the FF8 timeline set in stone. If you try to change the past then it 
was always the case that you tried to change the past. As an example, consider
the ending where Ultimecia goes to the orphanage and gives Edea her powers. It
might seem as if Ultimecia is changing the past. Yet if you talk to Edea 
earlier in the game she will say that "her story" began when a dying sorceress 
arrived and passed her powers to Edea: it is clear that she's referring to 
Ultimecia. So you see that Ultimecia wasn't actually changing anything by 
going to the past. In the FF8 timeline she always went to the past and there 
was never a time when she didn't go to the past. Time is set in stone.

And that is, in essence, what static time says: in FF8 there exists one timeline
where all events, past, present or future, are set in stone.

Obviously, as this was a brief exposure, there may be some missing details
you find unfulfilling. In that case, please take the time to read the full 
description above!


-----------------------------------
THE TIME-LOOP [NT7]
-----------------------------------

The idea of a time-loop arises naturally from the ending of the game. In it, 
Squall and Ultimecia are transported back in time to the orphanage. There, 
Squall tells Edea about Garden and SeeD before Ultimecia gives Edea her 
powers. The sorceress Edea told us gave her powers in the orphanage, thus 
starting the whole game, we discover is Ultimecia herself. So Ultimecia's act 
of travelling to the past is the very thing which starts the sequence of 
events which results in Ultimecia rising to power and going to the past after 
her defeat by Squall, and we have what can easily be dubbed a "loop" in 
time.

Using the picture of the ULOT, we might think of it looking something along 
these lines: 


                       |-------------------|
                       |                   |                              
Past<------------------A-------------------B----------------->Future


Event A here is the event we see in the ending; where Squall and Ultimecia 
arrive from the future and meet Edea. 
Event B here is the event in which Ultimecia and Squall travel back through 
time. 


---
NOTE: This image of the loop is inherently flawed, because while the time 
passed between A and B on the principal line (i.e. the bottom part) amounts to
several hundred years, the amount of time that Ultimecia and Squall use 
getting to event A from event B (i.e. the top bit) is clearly NOT hundreds of 
years, despite this image implying just that.
---


As any loop on the ULOT would have to have always been a part of it, we 
might say that the ULOT contains bumps. 


---
NOTE: Of course, if you think of things in terms of the PLOT-sheet, there 
would be no such bumps, so again the "bumps" on the ULOT are just a 
result of its slightly inaccurate representation of time.
---


Now, the presence of such loops is interesting because of the highly 
curious internal logic of such a loop. To demonstrate the dazzling 
conclusions we are forced to draw, we will refer to the following example:

Take the term "SeeD," the official name for the military force educated in 
the Gardens. Garden and SeeD were founded by Edea and Cid. Now take 
Squall. Squall knows of the term "SeeD" because he IS one; he was put 
into the organization created by Edea and Cid, and knows about its 
terminology, including the term "SeeD" because of them. Now consider the 
ending section where Squall arrives at the orphanage and meets a young 
Squall and younger Edea. Before Ultimecia arrives, Squall talks to her 
about "SeeD" and "Garden." Edea seems puzzled at this, as if she has 
never heard of those things before in her life. Let's assume she hasn't (this 
assumption is up for debate, but is a good example of the point being 
made; the actual validity of the assumption is irrelevant). The big question --
and the big point -- is this: 

Where did the idea of the term "SeeD" actually come from? 

To fully demonstrate why this question is important, we'll label the event in 
which Squall learns of "SeeD" through Edea founding it as event A. Then 
we'll label the event in which Edea learns of "SeeD" through Squall telling 
her as event B. That being done, let's make a cause-effect diagram showing
whose idea it really was: 

A--->B--->A--->B--->A--->B--->A--->B--->A------>repeat ad infinitum. 

The implications are thus that within a timeloop, the notion of cause and 
effect as we know them are effectively destroyed, as evident in A leading to 
B, leading to A again, as pictured above. Both event A and event B are the 
causes of the term "SeeD," and both event A and event B are the effects of 
the causes! If you really took in the idea of the loop on the ULOT 
completely, this is an obvious conclusion: events A and B would be on the 
loop in such a way that asking which came first, A or B, is as meaningless 
as asking which point is the "starting point" of a circle. A more well known 
analogy would be the question of the chicken or the egg.

This idea that the term "SeeD" doesn't have an origin is one common thing 
that makes people lean to the "dynamic time theory." This is because in 
the "dynamic time theory," it WOULD have an origin. To understand this, 
remember what we concluded about the two theories previously. In the 
"static time theory," the entire ULOT would have to have been "created" all 
at once, while in the "dynamic time theory," time would have evolved from a 
given starting point. Then bring in the idea of the loop we have just 
introduced. We know that since Ultimecia travelled back in time, she must 
have caused some sort of change. Now, in the "dynamic time theory" the 
loop would keep happening over and over again (since time is always 
evolving, even within the loop, so each time Ultimecia goes back to the 
past she initiates a new round of the loop), but according to this, there must
have been a first loop, a first time in which Ultimecia travels back in time. 
This first time, she must have been changing something. But what was she 
changing?  

All we know for certain is that this "original time," this "pre-loop" time would
have contained Squall, Rinoa, Cid, Edea, etc., even Ultimecia. This 
"original time" must have contained events completely unlike the ones we 
see in the game; in short, no events that are a result of Ultimecia using 
Junction Machine Ellone to try and find Ellone, because in the original time,
Ultimecia would not yet be alive to do all this (this will be expanded upon 
in the section on dynamic time later). 

This "original time" would however contain cause-effect diagrams completely
unspoilt by any timeloops, so the term "SeeD" would have had a 
meaningful origin somewhere within the "original time." Of course, since it's 
anyone’s guess what actually happened in the "original time," it is still 
impossible to answer where "SeeD" really came from. The dynamic time 
theory does, however, allow one to say that the question does in fact have 
an answer -- it's just that we can't ever know that answer!  

In static time, however, there is no original timeline and thus no correct 
answer, and yet the theory remains internally consistent. The logic of 
time-loops is strange for sure, but there's not actually any logical paradox 
arising from them within static time. They are as fixed and immutable as 
anything else.

Now, a common misconception of the time-loop is that it somehow "occurs" 
indefinitely and as such the people in the loop are "stuck" in it. This is 
however an absurd notion. In the ending we are led to a point in time 
where it is indicated that things will "start over" again, and so we start 
thinking about the loop as starting all over again. But if we look at the 
graphic visualisation of the loop above, we notice that all that is really 
happening here is that we are literally letting our eyes trace out the loop 
over and over, creating a essentially visual illusion that the loop occurs 
more than once. If we return to the film-analogy, what we are doing is 
equivalent to watching a section of the video, then rewinding and watching 
the same section again. It is not that the events on the video are somehow 
happening again, it is that we are watching them again. So from the 
perspective of someone in the loop, the events happen once and only once,
and as such no one is "trapped" in the loop. The events of the loop happen 
once, just like any other event on the ULOT. After Squall goes to the 
orphanage and sees his younger self, he returns to his own time and lives 
on happily ever after, and in Ultimecia's era time keeps on ticking onwards.
The younger Squall we see will grow up to experience the events we play in the 
game, and is in fact simply the same Squall. If we follow his life, however, 
we are merely replaying the game, rewatching the video. The loop occurs only 
once.

This visual illusion is actually closely connected with the notion of the flow 
of time, as discussed before. We're imagining the flow as moving around in 
a circle on the loop, so it appears as if it should be happening over and 
over. Since this naive conception of flowing time doesn't work, however, the
imagery is flawed, explaining why the loop actually only happens once. In
fact, it would be better still to either say "the loop is always 'happening'"
or even "the loop never 'happens', it just 'is'" (arguably these two statements
amount to the same thing). The point is that there's no sense in which the
people in the timeloop have any experiences of repeating events over and over.



----------------------------------------------------------------------------
SORCERESS POWERS IN THE TIME-LOOP AND THE FEEDBACK PROBLEM [NT8]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

While the internal logic of the time-loop is mostly perfectly consistent and
no cause for worries, there is one particular aspect of the loop which poses
a very serious problem, namely the way in which the passing on of sorceress
powers occurs.

Recall that Rinoa is, after Adel is killed, the only sorceress left of her era.
Odine says this outright in his mission briefing in disc 3:

Odine: "First, go to Lunatic Pandora. Ellone's probably
being held captive inside, so rescue her first. Then kill 
Sorceress Adel before ze awakening process is completed. 
Now, we're left with Rinoa as ze only sorceress of
this era."

Now, the Tutorial has the following to say, which raises some questions as to
how Odine could know for sure:

"Sorceress
[...] It's hard to determine how many sorceresses exist today, for many keep
their powers concealed. However, it is believed that they avoid spreading
their power too thin."

However, Squall_Of_SeeD found that Odine's claim was supported by the FF
20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario guide. In its summary of
FFVIII's story, on pg. 268, we find the following line:

"Rinoa wo toru rikon da Adel wo taosu to, kono jidai no saigo no majyo to natta
Rinoa ni Ultimecia ga hyouisuru."

In English, this means, "Rinoa is separated from Adel when she is toppled, and
Ultimecia then possesses Rinoa, who has become the last witch of this era."
So while it may have been difficult for Odine to determine the number of
sorceresses in their era, it's fairly safe to assume that he did in fact
succeed.

The link to the issue at hand comes from the realization that this implies that
Ultimecia has Rinoa's powers. If Rinoa is the only sorceress of her era, then 
any sorceress after Rinoa would necessarily have to have become a sorceress
by receiving powers from Rinoa, and similarly any sorceress after Rinoa would
have those same powers that Rinoa had, including Ultimecia. Now, Rinoa first
became a sorceress by inheriting Edea's powers, so in fact Ultimecia has Edea's
powers. But now recall that in the ending, we see that Ultimecia gives all her
powers to Edea.

Why is this potentially a problem?  Well, If Edea, Ultimecia and Rinoa all 
simply were passing on the exact same powers to eachother there wouldn't be a 
problem, but this is not the case. Firstly, Edea was already a sorceress before
she inherited Ultimecia's powers:

Edea: "It's ok. There's no more need to fight. That sorceress is just
      looking for someone to pass her powers on to. In order to die in
      peace, a sorceress must be free of all her powers. I know...for
      I am one, too.

In fact she first became a sorceress as a child; "I first became a sorceress 
when I was a child. And once again...13 years ago."

Secondly, Rinoa received powers from Adel, which Edea did not have originally.
Let's focus on this contribution by Adel for a moment. Rinoa first got Edeas
powers, and then also Adel's powers. Hence Ultimecia has both Edea's original
powers as well as Adel's powers. But Ultimecia gives her powers to Edea, so
that Edea then gets back what she had originally as well as Adel's powers.
By simply tracing the succession of sorceress powers around the timeloop it 
seems as if Edea has somehow ended up with more powers than she started with!

In static time, this is a direct violation of the principle forbidding changes
to the past, so there's an obvious problem there. However, even in dynamic time
this seeming build-up of Edeas powers is problematic. After all, intuitively
we would probably expect that if a sorceress gets more sorceress powers, she
becomes more powerful. The above argument seems to indicate that for each new
'revolution' of the timeloop, Edea inherits a new set of Adel's powers. In 
fact, it's worse still: because Edea was already a sorceress before inheriting
Ultimecia's powers, Edea would additionally get a new copy of those original
powers each successive loop. Intuitively then it would seem that Edea ought to
get increasingly more powerful each loop, and since Ultimecia has Edea's
powers, Ultimecia would also get more and more powerful each loop. But then
surely, after enough repeated loops Ultimecia would be so powerful that she'd
easily crush Squall and Co, hence successfully compressing all of time, 
including the succession of the loop we play in the game, a blatant 
contradiction. 

It seems as if when Ultimecia gave her powers to Edea, she set in motion a
catastrophic feedback-loop, which directly contradicts static time, but also
makes dynamic time entirely unstable and rather suspect. What, then, are we to
do? It turns out there are several ways of resolving this. We'll discuss some
in detail and briefly indicate other options. 

[Warning: the following discussion is rather technical and lengthy, so feel
free to just skip it. The bottomline is that it's possible to resolve the 
issue in several ways depending on what you assume about both the nature
of sorceress powers and time compression. However, there is, unfortunately,
no one theory which stands out as being distinctly more plausible than the
others.]

Since the problem can clearly be seen to arise from our, perhaps naive,
assumption that sorceress powers 'stack' in a very direct sense ("more
sorceress powers makes you more powerful, end of story"), it's of course very
natural to consider whether this assumption is really necessary. One very
natural idea pops up first. This idea suggests that while getting powers you
didn't already have will make you stronger, getting a second copy of powers you
already had will not have any impact. We often say that in this theory, 'powers
act like sets' (because in this case the combination of sorceress powers 
behaves like taking the union of sets; if you take the union of two sets, you 
only get something bigger if the sets are distinct). With this idea, Edea would
not keep getting new copies of Adel's powers, since they'd only make a
contribution once. It is thus not too hard to believe that this idea might
prevent any feedback-loop, but just in case let's make the argument rigorous.
We make the following definitions:

P(E) = Edea's powers right before she passes them on to Rinoa.
P(X) = Edea's original powers that she received as a child from some unknown
          sorceress.
P(A) = Adel's powers
P(R) = Rinoa's powers as they stand at the end of the game.
P(U) = Ultimecia's powers right before she passes them on to Edea.

For any two sets of sorceress powers A, B, let A*B denote the combined powers
of A and B (i.e. A*B represents the amount of power of a sorceress who has
inherited both powers A and B). So within this idea of 'powers as sets', we
have that A*A = A for any sorceress powers A (ie. getting the same powers twice
is no better than getting them just once).

[Note: please observe that * is not regular multiplication of numbers in any
sense, it's purely a shorthand notation for 'the combined powers of A and B']

Rinoa gets first Edea's powers, then Adel's, so that

P(R) = P(E)*P(R)

Ultimecia has Rinoa's powers, so also

P(U) = P(E)*P(R)

Finally, Edea first get's powers from sorceress X, then from Ultimecia, so 

P(E) = P(X)*P(U)

So upon substituting the expression for P(U), we get

P(E) = P(X)*P(U)*P(E)

If, in fact, P(E) = P(X)*P(A), then this equation is trivially satisfied, for
then it would read P(E) = P(E)*P(E), which is true by our assumption of how
sorceress powers work. But we will argue that this must in fact be the case.
For consider where the powers circling around the timeloop are drawn from. 
They are drawn exclusively from Sorceress X and Adel. Within the timeloop
itself, there's no contribution of new powers, only a circulation of the same
constant set of powers. Ultimecia gives them to Edea who gives them to Rinoa
who gives them to Ultimecia. So Edea's powers could not possibly consist of
more powers other than P(X) and P(A). Since P(E) certainly must contain both
P(X) and P(A), it follows that P(E) actually equals P(X)*P(A). Hence we find
that

P(E) = P(R) = P(U) = P(X)*P(A)

So when Rinoa gets powers from Adel, her new powers are

P(R) = P(E)*P(A) = P(X)*P(A)*P(A) = P(X)*P(A)

(i.e. Rinoa's powers are the combined powers of Sorceress X, Adel, and Adel
again, which is the same as just Sorceress X and Adel by assumption). 

It is clear now that we get no buildup of powers. Edea's powers are always just
P(X)*P(A), and the feedback issue is prevented.

Okay, so this idea allows us to resolve feedback. But is the defining
assumption actually reasonable? Would you really not get more powerful if you
received the same powers twice? Is that really how sorceress powers work?
As it turns out, the game has some interesting things to say which are relevant
here. First, recall the following tutorial entry:

"Sorceress
[...] It's hard to determine how many sorceresses exist today, for many keep
their powers concealed. However, it is believed that they avoid spreading
their power too thin."

The idea of powers being spread 'too thin' implies that powers can be watered
down by being spread between too many different women. Conversely then it must
be that if a sorceress receives many sets of powers, she gets stronger. This
doesn't contradict the 'powers as sets' assumption, since under normal 
circumstances the only way to get more powers would be if you got them from
different people, but the timeloop shenanigans means we're not in normal
circumstances! Next recall Ultimecia's scan info:

"A sorceress trying to change the world by compressing 
time and taking power from all sorceresses."

So as a result of time compression, Ultimecia is, in one sense or another, able
to take control of more sorceress powers in order to become stronger. Of 
course, the intuitive idea is that as time is compressed, multiple (infinite
even) copies of sorceress powers from the past and future are also brought 
together (compressed together), and Ultimecia exploits the magic of time
compression then to inherit all these multiple copies and add them to the
powers she already has. But recall that we know Ultimecia has all the 
sorceress powers available in the world already (since Rinoa was the last 
sorceress of her era, meaning all strands of sorceress powers had come together
in her). So if our intuitive interpretation of the Scan information above is 
assumed, any sorceress powers Ultimecia inherits as a result of TC would be
powers she already had, and so according to the 'powers as sets' theory would
not make her stronger at all. 

Is there a way to get out of this contradiction? The answer is yes, as long as
you're willing to make a stronger appeal to the role played by TC. For user 
JD IXI pointed out that there's a natural way to think of TC making Ultimecia
stronger through 'taking power from all sorceresses'. We know that Ultimecia,
in her final form, starts absorbing all of time and space. Clearly then she'd
also absorb multiple copies of sorceress powers throughout time. But this way
of absorbing powers is not, a priori, compatible with the normal form of 
absorbing of powers that takes place during a succession of witches. She no
more inherits these powers in the regular sense than she inherits the
properties of anything else of space-time she absorbs. JD's idea is then that
you could think of it as if when Ulty absorbs space-time, sorceress powers
included, she is able to wield what she absorbs in a more disembodies sort of
sense. She essentially wields space-time as a weapon. So she can also wield
multiple copies of the sorceress powers as a weapon. As JD put it, it's the
difference between a magician casting a more powerful spell and 10 magicians
casting the same spell. You could imagine it as if Ultimecia is able to not 
just dual-wield her own powers, but multi-wield them, even infinite-wield them.
Ultimecia doesn't in and of herself become a more powerful sorceress though.

Thus we have our first example of a complete resolution: assume that powers
'act like sets', and that Ultimecia uses TC to take sorceress powers in the 
more indirect way explained above. The strength of this way of resolving it is
that it makes a very minimalistic assumption about how sorceress powers stack
(namely that they basically don't), and makes a fairly intuitive appeal to the
effects of TC. On the other hand, there are very definite weaknesses as well.
Arguably the idea that sorceress powers don't stack is unintuitive, although
given that sorceress powers are left mostly unexplained this is not a major
flaw. More serious is the fact that Ultimecia's scan info clearly seems to
emphasize the role of sorceress powers in Ultimecia's plan to get power. If
sorceress powers were only involved in the sense that they are also part of the
space-time that Ultimecia absorbs and wields, then why even make a point about
it? If Ultimecia could wield all of space-time itself then surely the role of
sorceress powers in particular wouldn't be that critical in comparison. The
emphasis placed on the role played by sorceress powers is even more apparent
in the Japanese version:

(Japanese line in romaji; you can read the line here: 
http://urawa.cool.ne.jp/fanaticcloud/ff8/13.html)

"Jikan wo asshyukusuru koto ni yori, subete no jidai ikiru majyo no chikara wo
tori kamunde, sekai wo unu no omou ga mama ni tsukuri jiki souto****eiru."

(Direct English translation)
"From the act of compressing time, she is taking in the power of the witches to
have lived in every era, and is attempting to forever remake the world in her 
own image."

Here the act of taking sorceress powers is more clearly implied to come before
any other wielding of the entirety of space-time. The main problem here is 
that we don't know exactly how the TC spell works. The emphasis on sorceress
powers perhaps suggests that unless Ultimecia drastically enhances her own
powers she won't be able to absorb all of space-time. On the other hand, some
have suggested that the act of casting TC would surely allow her to absorb all
of space-time just by itself, since that's the purpose of the spell. In retort
one could of course say that the purpose of TC is, a priori, only to bring all
of time to a single point, and although that point might be amenable to being
absorbed, it's not at all clear that it would be possible to do so without
possessing vast amounts of power, thus explaining the emphasis on gathering
sorceress powers first. Opponents suggest that the sorceress powers are 
emphasized because they are needed simply to wield space-time -efficiently-, 
but if Ultimecia were able to efficiently wield all the sorceress-powers she 
absorbed, why would she not be able to efficiently wield everything else too? 
Maybe the sorceress powers she wields simply allow her to do much more than 
normal, but this still doesn't explain why the taking of sorceress powers seems
to be a prerequisite for anything else. 

In any case, it's clear that it would be ideal if we could come up with an
alternative explanation which allows powers to stack in a more naive sense,
so that Ultimecia can use TC to become stronger in a much more obvious sort
of way which places the inheriting of more sorceress powers first. It turns out
there's a rather nice way of doing this. To motivate this solution, let's first
rephrase the feedback problem in a more mathematical manner.

Using the notiation P(X), P(E) etc. above, we suppose that the powers are
represented by some fixed, positive real number. So the higher the number the 
stronger the powers. Naively we would think then that if a sorceress starts
off with P(A) and then inherits P(B), her total powers would be simply
P(A)+P(B), even if P(A)=P(B). Now let's write down expressions for Edea and
Ultimecia's powers analogously to the 'powers as sets' theory:

P(E) = P(X) + P(U)

P(U) = P(E) + P(A)

(Edea starts off a sorceress with powers P(X), then gets Ultimecia's powers: 
similarly for Ultimecia). What we'd like to say is that P(E) and P(U) are fixed
and finite quantities. The feedback problem is simply the fact that these
equations do not permit any such solutions for P(E) and P(U). Mathematically
this can be seen by looking at the coefficient matrix, but more simply you can
just substitute the first equation into the second to get that

P(U) = P(X) + P(A) + P(U)

and since P(X) and P(A) are definitely non-zero (as they represent definite
sorceress powers) we see that the right hand side is strictly bigger than P(U),
while simultaneously equalling it, a contradiction. It can also be seen that
in a dynamic time picture the powers would increase by P(X) and P(A) for every
revolution of the loop, as expected. 

So our goal is to somehow fiddle with these equations in a way which forces
a solution, but in such a way that this tampering has an intuitive in-game
explanation. To get an idea of how we might justifiably alter our equations,
we need to introduce another concept, namely the natural affinity of a woman to
use magic. From the Ultimania section on sorceresses:

"The potential to become a sorceress is determined by one's capacity to wield
such power -- their natural affinity for magic. This factor helps to determine
Sorceress candidates for when a Sorceress passes on all of her power into the
next Sorceress."

In fact, the observant reader might already have noticed something odd about
previous remarks made. For instance, in the 'powers as sets' explanation we 
ended up concluding that Edea, Rinoa and Ultimecia would all have the same
powers, yet it's perfectly clear that Ultimecia is much more powerful than both
Edea and Rinoa. The presence of a natural affinity presents an obvious way to
solve this: Ultimecia simply has a higher natural affinity, and so can wield 
her powers much more effectively than Rinoa and Edea. For the 'sets as powers'
theory then it's natural to think of two types of powers. There's the absolute
power, represented by P(A), P(E) etc. above, and then there's the effective
power which is determined by scaling the absolute power by a number 
representing the natural affinity. A higher natural affinity gives you a 
higher effective power (think about the interplay between the Attack stat and
the Strength stat in games like FF7 or FF9).

This idea of powers being scaled by a natural affinity stat leads to the next
solution. Formally, we will say that every woman has an associated natural
affinity stat associated to her (given by a positive, real number, possibly
greater than 1). We assume that power transfer works in the following way: if 
a woman (who may or may not already be a sorceress) with natural affinity stat
k inherits powers P(X), then the increase in her power is given simply by 
k*P(X) (where * is just regular multiplication now). The equations for power
transfer in the timeloop now become

P(E) = m*P(X) + m*P(U)

P(U) = n*P(E) + n*P(A)

where m is Edea's natural affinity stat, and n is the product of the affinities
of all sorceresses between Rinoa and Ultimecia inclusive (note we need this
product since we have a succession of witches going from Rinoa to Ultimecia,
and at each step in the chain the powers get multiplied by the affinity of the
sorceress receiving them). It turns out that provided m*n<1, these equations 
yield definite, positive solutions for P(E) and P(U). If, in addition, n is 
assumed to be sufficiently larger than m we can also arrange for P(U) to be
strictly greater than P(E) (actually we also would need to assume that Adel
is at least as strong as Edea, but this seems patently obvious anyway).
It also turns out that the expressions for P(U) and P(E) found this way depend
only on P(E), P(X) and the natural affinities, in accordance with the earlier
argument that P(E) and P(X) must be the only powers actually making a
contribution here.


---
NOTE: Although the above calculations alluded to are very simple, they have
been omitted for the sake of brevity and not getting bogged down in maths.
The skeptical reader is invited to verify it for him or herself.
---


Two obvious questions arise. Firstly, are these conditions on m and n plausible
to assume, and secondly, how are we to interpret the physical meaning of our
new equations? These are, not surprisingly, intimately linked questions. One
way of thinking about it is just the same way we thought about affinity in the
context of 'powers as sets', namely that affinity determines the extent to 
which you are able to wield your powers. So the affinity would be a percentage
determining how much of the full potential of powers you could utilize. In our
case then we'd say the affinity was a number between 0 and 1 inclusive. If 
this were the case then it'd follow automatically that m*n<1, and that n is
greater than m can be assumed by simply saying that Ultimecia is sufficiently
stronger than Edea (since Ultimecia's affinity makes a contribution to n). This
would, in other words, be perfect. However, the assumption that affinities
are always in the range [0,1] has certain other less pleasant implications. 
In particular, since multiplying by numbers less than 1 decreases a number, in
any chain of succession of witches the powers will tend to decrease the further
along the chain you get. In particular, since Ultimecia is at the end of a 
chain starting with Rinoa, it would follow that Ultimecia is almost certainly
weaker than Rinoa! Even worse, if you assume that the witches encountered 
on your way to Ultimecia's era are, in fact, the witches between Rinoa and
Ultimecia, it'd follow that Ultimecia would be significantly weaker than Rinoa
(since all but one of those witches are visibly pathetically weak). There are
similar other weird consequences, but from this alone it's clear that this
interpretation leaves something to be desired.

However, if we allow affinities to be any positive real number, then there's 
still a very nice way of thinking about it. When a set of sorceress powers
enters a woman with a very low affinity for magic, the powers will diminish.
Conversely, while entering a woman with a high affinity for magic the powers
will flourish and grow. You can think of sorceress powers as being a highly
organic sort of thing, which is highly sensitive to its current host. But now
the conditions on n and m are no longer trivial. If m and n are a priori rather
small, then we could arrange for the conditions to be plausibly met by 
adjusting the relative sizes of m and Ultimecia's natural affinity. If you
assume that the TC witches are the witches between Rinoa and Ultimecia, then
it is plausible to assume that the product of affinities of sorceresses from
Rinoa up to Ultimecia is small, in which case the indicated adjustment would
make it work. Unfortunately, otherwise you kinda have to just appeal to fate.
It's of course possible to try to tamper with the equations some more: note
that the critical condition m*n<1 is required in order to make the powers
positive, for the equations to have solutions it's enough to have m*n not
equal to 1, which is, in a sense which can be made mathematically precise,
infinitely unlikely (i.e. m*n =/= 1 with probability 1). So if we tampered with
the equations to guarantee that all expressions end up positive (e.g. simply
by taking absolute values) then the conditions being met would be entirely 
trivial. However, this kind of tampering would make the physical interpretation
seem pretty unnatural, and so this attempt at a better solution is generally 
seen as deficient.

So while this second explanation fits much more comfortably with Ultimecia's
scan info (and arguably also general intuition), its weakness is that its
complexity forces some non-trivial conditions on various natural affinities.

There are still other possible resolutions available, although most of them
are just variations of the above, with the main differences coming from the 
assumed role of time compression and the interpretation of 'natural affinity'.
For example, you might interpret natural affinity as rather being a measure of
how much power you can possess at any one time, so that one of the roles of
TC was to unnaturally increase Ultimecia's affinity, hence allowing her to 
absorb more powers than otherwise possible, which in turn would allow her to
absorb space-time itself. Then you could adopt an idea similar to 'powers as
sets' to resolve feedback and all would be fine. Thanks to the ambiguous nature
of TC and sorceress powers there are surely more ways still to resolve it all,
but we hope the reader is convinced by now that the feedback issue is not 
fatal. Just pick whatever idea you found more convincing and roll with that.

Update: (7th March 2011)

In a surprising turn of events, we found out thanks to Gwendal that there is 
a tutorial entry in the game which is for some reason only possible to read 
off by hacking into the game files (it is simply impossible to unlock it 
properly in the game itself). Squall_Of_SeeD's translation of the Japanese 
entry is as follows:

"Succession of Witch Powers
When a witch is prepared for death,
she passes her powers to the person who will become their 'vessel.'
According to Dr. Odine, witch powers gradually become weaker
due to power lost during each succession, affinity, and other
uncertain factors."

The significance of this piece of information is that it justifies the
equations used in the second solution. There we assumed that affinity was the
only scale factor, and that affinity organically altered the sorceress powers
in such a way that they might increase or decrease. This allowed us to control
the flow of powers through the timeloop and solve feedback. Based on this new
tutorial entry, we can say that it's actually a little more complex than that.

There are several unknown factors coming into play which cause a variation of
sorceress powers between immediate successors. Affinity is only one of these.
Now, while powers do always decrease during the actual transmission itself,
this may not always be due to the successor having a low affinity. So, while
a certain amount of absolute power is lost during transmission, it is still
entirely possible that a sorceress with a particularly high affinity can make
up for this loss and boost her powers to be stronger than her predecessor
anyway.

This means that our second set of equations are perfectly valid as long as
we understand the scale factor to be an overall measurement of affinity and
all the other uncertain factors involved in power transfer. The assumptions
on affinities that we required to make everything work become even more 
plausible now too.

There, we really wanted the sorceresses between Ultimecia and Edea to have
low affinities (because we wanted to ensure a sufficient amount of power loss
before the powers reached Ultimecia). This is now entirely supported by the
fact that powers in general tend to decrease. All that is needed to make the
equations work now is to just assume that Ultimecia has a bigger affinity
than Edea and Rinoa, which is, of course, entirely reasonable.

In conclusion, the tutorial entry justifies the second set of equations used;
we just have to interpret the scale factor as more than just the affinity.


----
NOTE: For completeness, here is the hidden tutorial entry as it appears in the
English translation, followed by Gwendal's original translation of the Japanese
entry, and Squall_Of_SeeD's explanation of his own translation.

Official translation
--------------------------
"When a sorceress is about to die, she gives her power to the next
person who 'inherits' her sorceress powers.
According to Odine's research, the power tends to weaken with each 
succession."
--------------------------

Gwendal's translation
--------------------------
"The succession/inheritance of Sorceress power

When a Sorceress has resigned herself to death, she passes her power
on to the person who will become its 'Vessel'. According to Dr. Odine,
due to uncertain factors/circumstances such as loss of power at the
time of transmission and compatibility/affinity, there seems to be a
trend/tendency towards Sorceress power growing weaker."
--------------------------

Squall's original explanation:

"If you're wondering why and how I determined that, I'll explain.

For you and others reading, I'll first post a fresh link to the Japanese text:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/
SuccessionofWitchPowers.jpg

Now, the 'tsugi' (meaning 'each') after 'chikara no uke' ('receiving of power')
and before 'toki no rosu/loss' says to me that powers are unavoidably lost each
time during the succession itself (at least in normal circumstances; obviously,
Ultimecia's absorption of them during Time Compression may be an exception).
This 'tsugi,' by the way, is likely the source of the 'each' in the official 
translation's line, 'the power tends to weaken with each succession.'

Also, to me 'yuruyaka' indicates more than a propensity (which is short of a
guarantee) for the powers to be lost at each succession, because when used as 
a '-na' adjective the word is used to refer to things that slope, are loose, or 
are otherwise infirm. I feel that if the meaning intended was that the power 
could go up or down with each succession, this would have been emphasized 
rather than just the idea of the powers getting weaker.

I think that notion also fits the established context of the setting better, 
where we have previously been given the information that witches attempt to 
'avoid spreading their power too thin.'

At any rate, as it's written, it seems definite to me that powers are lost 
each time during succession, even if there isn't always further loss due to 
affinity or the other 'uncertain factors.'"







---------------------------------------------------------------------------
ELLONE'S POWERS AND JUNCTION MACHINE ELLONE [NT9]
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ellone's powers are a bit of a mystery in the game. Where did they come 
from? Unfortunately there's no answer for that to be found either in the game
or this FAQ. She appears to simply have been born with them. 

Her powers are such that she can send the consciousnesses of people 
into the mind of someone in the past, creating a link between present and 
past. Ellone indicates that she cannot make the link unless she knows the 
subjects, but since she is capable of sending Squall into Rinoa anyway after
simply having been in the same room as Rinoa, the indication is that she does
not need to know the subject very well, but that this would just make it
easier for her.  The Junction Machine Ellone presumably works in the exact 
same way and was created based on Doc Odine's studies conducted
on Ellone under Adel's reign. It is unclear what sort of limitations the JME
has in terms of who it enables you to be sent into. It's hard to imagine
a machine 'knowing' someone, but perhaps it is enough for the person using
JME to know the relevant person. Ultimecia is only ever seen to posses other
sorceresses, so it is possible that she 'knew' these people by virtue of
having inherited their powers. It is however also possible that the JME does
not have such limitations, and that Ultimecia simply chooses to possess
sorceresses because their power makes her a more potent force in the past.
Both Ellone and the JME do, however, have a limitation on how far back people
can be sent (although as Squall_Of_SeeD speculates, in Ellone's case the
limitation may simply be due to the fact that she can't possibly know people
who died before she was born).

Although not a regular type of time-travelling machine, it is made clear by 
Ultimecia's possession of Edea, etc., that it can still be used to influence 
the past by influencing the "host" bodies you enter into via the connection 
of Ellone (be it through Ellone herself or the machine). Squall and Co. 
make little impact on Laguna, the most noticeable influence being the 
strength offered in battle, which Laguna and Co. attribute to "fairies."

One interesting aspect to contemplate in regards to the process of 
possesion using Ellone's powers is the idea of overlapping possessions. If 
Ultimecia's plans failed at some point, could she not have sent herself 
further back in the past again and tried to reposses Edea and try again? 
As this never happens, it would seem this is an impossibility. It seems 
perhaps likely that the host's mind would be too crowded to allow this. 
Perhaps Ellone's powers wouldn't allow it directly? Or perhaps Ultimecia 
never attempted this because it might mean she would have to try and rid 
the host's mind of her own previous influence; she'd have to mentally 
overcome herself, which sounds like it might be an obvious stalemate, 
impossibility, or too complex to even attempt.

Finally, it must be noted, since this is often brought up, that destroying 
Ellone, the blueprints of the machine or anything else like that would NOT 
have prevented Ultimecia from getting her hands on the Junction Machine 
Ellone. Since time is set in stone in FF8, and Ultimecia already had the 
machine in the future, Squall and Co. destroying the blueprints would not 
have magically negated that undeniable truth, and would simply have been 
part of the sequence of events which lead to the machine being created. It 
is likely that Odine would know this, and in any case Squall and Co. were 
determined to deal with Ultimecia head-on like they should, and never 
contemplated such defensive, risky and ultimately meaningless ideas.

There is another aspect of Ellone's powers which is important, but that will
be discussed in the section on "Hippie Weirdness" in the following section on
time compression.


---------------------------------------------
TIME COMPRESSION [NT10]  
---------------------------------------------

~General Discussion~ [NT11]


"A complete mystery. Various states of past, present and future mixed 
together".

That is the gist of what we are told directly in the game (this line coming 
from the Tutorial->Information section). However, since merely calling it a 
"mystery" is quite unacceptable to these authors, we will attempt to 
explain what time compression (TC) really is all about, what a time 
compressed world would look like, and how it is established and works.
 
A quick look in the dictionary reveals that "compression" essentially means
the act of pressing something to a more compact state. For instance, were 
you to take a sheet of paper and crumple it together into a little ball, you 
might say that you have compressed the sheet of paper. But what does it 
mean to compress time itself? Well, using the handy picture of the ULOT, 
we could say that TC would effectively push at it from both sides, thus 
effectively crumpling it into a small ball. For the sake of simplicity and 
elegance, these authors assume that TC would effectively compress the 
entire ULOT into one single moment in time. To fully grasp this picture, we 
turn to the very elegant analogy formulated by TheOnionKnight: 

Imagine time as literally being a film made up of many slides (remember 
that we had to ignore the question of whether time is infinitely divisible or 
not) where each slide shows one moment in time. A "now" slide would then 
contain a record of everything that happened in the FF8 universe at exactly 
that moment in time. Watching this film would then be the same as 
watching everything that happens from the beginning of the universe till its 
end. Now imagine that you separate each individual slide from the film, and 
stack them all on top of each other. Shining a light through this stack of 
slides would be the same as creating an image of all the slides as one. Can 
you imagine what such an image would look like? Every single event in the 
entire ULOT all "happening" at the same time? It certainly makes us realise
why it is that no one (except Ultimecia) can exist in a time compressed 
world!

---
NOTE: We know only Ultimecia can live in TC because both Rinoa and 
Edea tell us. For instance, here is Rinoa's statement: 

"There was a sorceress inside me. Ultimecia, a sorceress from the future. 
She's trying to achieve time compression. She's the only one who would be 
able to exist in such a world. She, and no other."
---

Anyone else would exist only in the sense that each event of their life 
continues to exist as fragments, but there would be no "flow" in time: you 
wouldn't move towards the future from the past. Instead, you'd be in a sense
frozen in time, without actually realising it. This is the most commonly 
accepted view of a fully compressed ULOT, and is the idea we will be 
utilising in this FAQ.  

Now that we've established what TC does, we can move on to another fact
we are told, namely that Ultimecia has to go to the past in order to cast the
spell. This piece of information raises some important questions: is the 
spell limited in some way (and in that case, how?) or is it rather that 
Ultimecia WANTS to cast it where she does for some reason? Assuming 
the former as being correct, we are left with some strange facts. Firstly, the
issue of why she needs to be in one particular place in time to cast the 
spell. It might make sense that she'd need to be in the direct center of the 
ULOT, but since Ultimecia is always moving through time, how is she able 
to coordinate things so that she casts it at the exact center? Does she 
perhaps only need an approximate center? She goes into a young Adel 
when she casts the spell, meaning she was about 50-60 years into the 
past (from where you defeat Adel), which raises the question of why TC has
such a strict conception of what is close enough to the center. Clearly, the 
idea that she needs to be in the center of time is too full of holes and 
problems that cannot be answered to be considered viable. Perhaps she 
needed to be in more than one place on the ULOT in order to activate the 
spell. Again, though, this assumption raises the same amount of questions 
as the previous suggestion. A final idea many use is that she needs to be 
in both the past, present and the future in order to cast it. However, this 
idea singles out Squall's "present" as THE present from which past and 
future is measured from. But since Ultimecia's present would by all 
reasoning be her own era, and not Squall's, this idea is flawed. 
 
So if the spell is limited in some way it seems hopeless to discover exactly
why and how. But what if it isn't that the spell is limited in any way? Some
suggested that it was a limitation on Ultimecia's powers rather than the 
spell itself, but these ideas never crystallized into something particularly
plausible until Ryan Goss (aka FFVII Tatoo) made a critical observation: when
Squall and Co. enter Laguna and Co. via the Ellone-connection, Laguna and Co's
powers are boosted! In fact, they even talk explicitly about it, referring to
it as 'the faeries' helping them. Naturally then we would have to assume that
something similar happens when Ultimecia possesses a sorceress like Edea: 
Edea's powers are boosted by Ultimecia's, so when Ultimecia possesses Edea
she has access to, in some sense, the combined powers of both of them. Or,
if Ultimecia possessed Rinoa, she'd have access to -their- combined powers. 
And pushing it further, if Ultimecia possessed Rinoa, only to have both of 
them possess Adel, Ultimecia would have access to the combined powers of all 
three. Ryan's idea then is as simple as it is elegant: the reason Ultimecia
needed to go further into the past wasn't due to some inherent need to go far
enough back in time, it was because she needed the combined powers of three
different sorceresses to in order to be powerful enough to cast the TC spell!

You see, as established in the section on Sorceress Powers, Ultimecia is the
only sorceress of her era, which means there's no more power to be gained
there. The only way then to increase her powers is to use sorceresses from
another era. The only way to do that is via the Junction Machine Ellone. Using
that machine Ultimecia is able to possess Edea, and get their combined powers.
But this is not enough: Ultimecia needs more power still. So she seeks to use
the same method to possess yet another sorceress, and since the JME doesn't
exist in Edea's era, Ultimecia has no choice but to seek out Ellone. Right at
the start of disc 4, Ultimecia possesses Rinoa using the JME, before Ellone
sends both of them back into a young Adel, and now Ultimecia is finally able
to cast time compression. Recall that Odine suggests that it's uncertain if
Ultimecia would be able to fully possess Adel in the normal way required for
this, but the Ultimania actually confirms that she was able to do so. Indeed,
the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 1: Character says in Ultimecia's profile
on pg. 259 that Ultimecia had possessed Adel when Squall and co. fought her:


"Initially, she 'connected' to Edea, and via her memories, pursued
Ellone’s trail; during this time, Edea was aware of all that was
taking place, but had no control until she was defeated by Squall’s
team of SeeD, at which point her witch powers transferred to Rinoa; at
that point, Ultimecia used Rinoa as her puppet to free the evil witch,
Adel, who had been sealed in space. Controlling the revived Adel, she
again sought to bring Ellone into her hands."


So indeed, Ultimecia would be able to utilize the power of all three
sorceresses.

You might wonder, if all it takes is for Ultimecia to get more power, surely 
there are cruder ways she could do it? Like, say, forcefully fusing two
different sorceresses and then possessing the result? Of course, Ultimecia
tries to do just this at the beginning of disc 4, where she tries to have Rinoa
and Adel fused!

Seifer: "Can't go back now! I can't go anywhere! The sorceresses as
          one! That is Ultimecia's WISH!"

Ryan's theory is particularly appealing because it naturally explains this as
well. Ultimecia, perhaps losing patience at the prospect of capturing Ellone,
simply saw the opportunity to do something much more crude in order to get 
enough power. 

So far this is the only plausible theory as to the seeming limitations of TC.
But what actually happens when Ultimecia casts the spell? What happens 
that lets Squall and Co. move to the future? Why do they get exactly where 
they want to? How do they avoid being compressed? Why does the 
Ragnarok along with the entire CC Club end up in Ultimecia's time as well? 
All these questions, and other ones not mentioned, are basically different 
ways of angling the big question:

How does TC work? 

We have established what a fully compressed time would "look like," but 
we haven't actually discussed the process of compression itself. Producing 
a simple theory that can answer all the questions and avoid introducing 
unanswerable questions will be the goal of this next part of the FAQ, and 
as we shall see, it is trickier than it sounds. To establish what we are told, 
here is what Odine tells us when explaining the plan to defeat Ultimecia, 
followed by Laguna's speech: 

Dr. Odine: "You vant to go outside!? You vant to fisticuffs!? Ok, we continue
ze story! Let's see... There is only one way to defeat Ultimecia. You must 
kill her in ze future. There iz nothing we can do unless we go to ze future. 
There is no way to jump to ze future under normal circumstances. But there 
iz still a way! It iz because Sorceress Ultimecia plans to compress time. 
Compressing time with magic... Vat good will it do for ze sorceress to 
compress time? There may be many reasons, but it doesn't matter. Let's 
just figure out vat Ultimecia iz up to. 

In order for Ultimecia to exist in this time, she must take over ze body of 
a sorceress from ze present. But ze machine must have a limit. Ultimecia 
probably needs to go back further in time to achieve time compression. Only 
Ellone can take her back further into ze past. Zat iz why she iz desperately 
seeking her. We must take advantage of Ellone's power. There are 2 
sorceresses in our time. Sorceress Rinoa and Sorceress Adel. Of ze two, 
Adel has not awakened yet. Once regeneration is completed, neither 
Laguna not I will be safe. Sorceress Adel is probably in ze process of 
awakening inside of Lunatic Pandora. Ultimecia will want to possess Adel, 
if Adel wakes up. Zat vill be a horrible event. Adel iz a horrible sorceress. 
If Adel's consciousness wins over Ultimecia, Adel will first destroy this era.
So we must use Sorceress Rinoa to inherit Ultimecia's powers. Zat's all for 
ze mission briefing. First, go to Lunatic Pandora. Ellone's probably being 
held captive inside, so rescue her first. Then kill Sorceress Adel before 
ze awakening process is completed. Now, we're left with Rinoa as ze only
sorceress of this era. Then wait for Ultimecia to possess Rinoa. When
Ultimecia arrives, it's Ellone's turn. Ellone will send Rinoa back to
ze past with Ultimecia. Ellone will have to send Rinoa and Ultimecia
inside another sorceress she knows in the past. Edea or Adel... Zat's up to 
Ellone. Once Ultimecia iz in ze past, she'll use ze time compression
magic. We will see some influence here. I don't know vat kind of
influence, but once Ellone feels it, she'll cut Rinoa and Ultimecia off
from ze past. Rinoa will come back to this world. Ultimecia also goes
back to her own world. Vat would be left is ze time compressed world.
Past, present future will all get mixed together. You will keep moving
through ze time compression toward ze future. Once you're out of ze
time compression, zat will be Ultimecia's world. It's all up to you
after zat."


Later, Laguna says: "That's the spirit! Then, Ellone sends Rinoa and 
[Ultimecia to the past]! Ellone [brings back Rinoa]! Then [head to the 
future through compressed time]! Ultimecia lives far in the future where none
of us can technically exist. There's only one way to make yourself exist in 
a world like that! As friends, don't forget one another! As friends,
believe in one another! Believe in your friends' existence! And they'll
also believe in yours. To be friends, to like one another, and to love
one another... You can't do these things alone. You need somebody. Right,
guys? What place reminds you of your friends? Imagine being in that
place with all your friends. Once time compression begins, think of
that place and try to get there! That's all! That place will welcome
you. You'll be able to get there no matter what period you're in! You
need love and friendship for this mission! And the courage to believe
it. It's all about love, friendship, and courage! I'm counting on you
guys!"


To sum up the most important points learned from these quotes:

1) Ultimecia casts TC in the past (as seen from the game's perspective).  
2) We will see effects of TC as soon as she casts the spell.
3) The fact that time starts being compressed is what allows Squall and 
    Co. to get to the future. 
4) TC is responsive to emotion, thoughts and willpower. Squall and Co. get 
    to the future by willing themselves there and concentrating their thoughts
    on where they want to go, and avoid being compressed themselves 
    through love and friendship.

And then there is a fifth basic point:

5) TC is never fully completed. 

This fifth point is never directly stated, but we know it to be true because as
mentioned, both Rinoa and Edea make it quite clear that ONLY Ultimecia 
can exist in TC. Combining this with the fact that TC compresses all of time,
we can conclude that if TC was ever fully completed, we couldn't be playing
the game because Squall, or anyone/thing else for that matter, would not 
be able to exist already from the beginning of disc 1. Since this is clearly 
not the case, we can quite confidently say that TC was never fully 
completed. From this simple fact, we can furthermore establish that TC is 
a process which takes time. To be specific, we say that TC works at a 
finite speed (saying it works infinitely fast means that the entire ULOT 
should be compressed as soon as the spell is cast, which violates the fact 
that TC was never completed). It is this fact which implies that the ULOT is 
finite, as mentioned near the beginning. The reasoning is that if the ULOT 
were infinitely long, Ultimecia would never be able to fully compress time 
(because TC works at a finite speed), and this implication is enough to 
convince these authors that the line of time is finite. If you are now 
wondering exactly how fast TC evolves, it is unfortunately a question that is 
impossible to answer. All we can say is that it must be pretty damn fast!
 
Now let's return to the point in time where Ultimecia casts the spell. If we 
were to look at the ULOT from the outside, what would we see happen once
she casts the spell? Well, we previously thought that TC could be seen as 
pressing the ULOT into a single point, so we might imagine that if we looked
at time from the outside, that's what we'd see happen: the ULOT literally 
being squashed into a single point. Some further deliberation will reveal that
this won't work, however, at least not in static time.

You see, since this literal change on the ULOT would have lasted for a finite 
amount of time before reverting back to its normal state, once it was over, 
there would be no indication that it had ever happened to begin with! This is
acceptable in the dynamic time theory because time is always changing 
anyway, but in the static time theory, this is unacceptable, because the 
effects of TC are supposed to ALWAYS be a part of time. If this were not the 
case, the events where Squall travels to the future, kills Ultimecia and 
travels back (as well as the events where Ultimecia passes her powers to Edea)
would only exist for a finite amount of time, which makes absolutely no sense 
at all if we are to think of all events as being set in stone. The only way to 
have a theory of TC which makes sense within static time is to think of it as 
being an event in time just like any other, rather than a process which acts 
upon time in a more literal fashion. We owe our current such model of TC to
TheOnionKnight, who proposed that TC is a single moment in time which 
gradually comes to contain more and more of the ULOT, thus compressing 
more and more of time. 

Using the film analogy, TC can be thought of as a single slide which 
gradually contains more and more of the ULOT. If TC were ever completed, 
the TC slide would contain the entire ULOT within itself. But it is not that the
TC event creates a separate ULOT; it doesn't form duplicates of all the 
events on the ULOT. 

To understand what Onion has proposed, think of one of those odd "picture 
in a picture" pictures. For example, imagine you have a picture of a man 
watching television, from such an angle that you can see what he is 
watching. Then imagine that the image you see on the television screen is 
the exact same picture as the "original" picture. In theory, this picture would
extend forever inside the picture, because each "layer" would have another 
television in it. Onion's idea is that TC acts in the same way: the TC event 
would be like the television of the above example. But remember, as I said 
before, TC creates no duplicates! Instead, the ULOT we see inside the TC 
event IS the ULOT which the TC event is situated on. What this means, is 
that once the TC event contains more and more events, those same events 
on the ULOT will essentially be compressed. In a fully compressed time, the
TC event would thus be seen to contain the entire ULOT, so the entire ULOT
would be compressed. The idea is then that Ultimecia could shape the
events within the TC event as she finds fitting, and in doing so shape the 
ULOT which the TC event is on. To make a diagram of the TC event on the 
ULOT: 


<---------------A--TC-B-----C


 A is the event in which Squall defeats Adel.
 TC is, you guessed it, the TC event. 
 B is Squall's return from the future.
 C is the Garden party in the ending. 

Since TC is a process taking time, we can further, recalling the ideas of the
first part of this section on time, make a diagram describing the evolution 
of TC as a line of time of its own:

A---B---C-----D

Note that each moment in this line of time is a 'picture-within-picture' 
moment.

A is the TC moment when it's first cast. It would contain at most a single 
moment of the ULOT (presumably itself).
B would be a TC moment containing more of the ULOT.
C would be a TC moment containing more of the ULOT than it did at B.
D is the TC moment when the spell is broken.

In other words, TC as an event is like any other event - a sequence of 
moments - but in this case it is specifically a sequence of "picture-within-
picture" moments, each successive moment containing more of the ULOT. 
If allowed to run to completion, it would culminate in a moment containing 
the entire ULOT. Now, it is noteworthy that if TC were completed, the 
ULOT would actually be a single point rather than a line, which brings us 
back to the point that TC could never have been completed. If it were, the 
ULOT would always have been in a state of full compression (since time is 
static) and thus would always have been a single point. Instead, the 
incompleted TC appears on the ULOT as just another event in time.

This model is rather paradoxical in nature, but it is the best model we have 
been able to come up with. Since we view it as essential that TC be an 
event in time, and also that it must still describe the compression of time, 
a 'picture-within-picture' idea is almost implied directly, and so that is what 
we stick with. It is complex and hard to get your head around for sure, but 
we hope we have made it possible to understand (if anything after a couple 
of rereads and some time to reflect).


There turns out to be one more problem however...


~The "Hippie Weirdness" problem~ [NT12]


[NOTE: This next section was written by TheOnionKnight]


This little section of the FAQ is dedicated to discussing a particular, 
specific phenomenon of TC. This phenomenon, dubbed "Hippie Weirdness,"
or HW for short, went untreated by analytical FFVIII debaters for years. The 
more people continued to delve into the nature of static time as FFVIII's 
time/space theories evolved, however, the more apparent it became that 
HW was, in fact, an important issue in need of attention.

By merely existing in FFVIII, HW presents a particular problem for the 
static time model outlined thus far throughout the FAQ. But before getting 
to that, let's simply define what HW is:

HW is experienced twice in the course of FFVIII, and might best be 
summed up as "temporal chaos." While HW occurs, the physical world 
distorts, eras seem to merge into one another, colors fluctuate, etc. HW 
first occurs directly after Adel is killed in the Lunatic Pandora: Squall and 
Co. sink through the floor, which melts from beneath their feet, and are 
propelled through a sky filled with molten bubbles of "memory" and flocks of 
wayward geese. The second time HW occurs is directly after Ultimecia's 
defeat: Squall and Co. are thrust into a white void replete with, as Quistis 
mentions, "time warps." Squall afterwards continues to wander the corridors
of HW, finding himself on a desolate rock in outer space, and etc.

The hallucinogenic elements of these HW events are actually what led to the 
coinage of the term "Hippie Weirdness" many years ago, a term that, 
although comedic in its origin, has nevertheless stuck.

Now, to begin with, it bears mentioning that HW serves a primary, narrative 
purpose in FFVIII. The first time it occurs might be considered the game's 
penultimate climax; what better way, after all, to send Squall and Co. to the
future than by shooting them through a psychedelic barrage of chronological
madness? The second time HW occurs literally is the game's climax; and, 
again, what better way to end the game than with a graphically-intense 
bang? The game's designers, no doubt, had the spectacle of HW foremost 
in mind, which is why it happens when it does - to give the story visual 
"oomph."

When you aren't looking at the "oomph," though, HW becomes a rather 
tangly problem for the static time model. As elementary as it may be, the 
problem presented by HW can be condensed into a single question: why?

Why does HW occur where and, more importantly, when it does?

As has already been outlined, all events in a static timeline are predestined.
They already exist on the timeline, and no occurrence within the timeline 
can change the timeline itself.

Taking this as a given, it makes sense to say that any effects of TC would 
already be written into the timeline. Floors may melt, and memories may 
bubble through the air. The static time model accommodates all of this, 
however surreal it may be, as long as "all of this" operates in accordance 
with predestination. When Squall and Co. defeat Ultimecia, therefore, and 
her control over TC is lost, it follows that HW would naturally transpire. One 
event, HW, is simply following another event, Ultimecia's defeat, in a logical 
cause-and-effect relationship. When HW happens here, no problem arises.

When HW happens after Adel's defeat, however, a problem, "the" problem, 
does indeed arise. Why? Because when HW happens in the Lunatic 
Pandora, it does NOT immediately follow its own cause: Ultimecia's casting
of TC. She is not, after all, casting TC in the Lunatic Pandora. Ellone has 
sent her consciousness back in time, to an unstated year in the past, and 
it is there, in the past, that Ultimecia does cast TC. Why, as a result of this,
would HW occur decades later in the Lunatic Pandora? The chain of 
cause-and-effect has been broken.

The only apparent way that such a thing could happen is if the dynamic 
time theory is true, because dynamic time accommodates a malleable 
timeline. With it, one can simply say that when Ultimecia casts TC in the 
past, she effects and changes the entire timeline. In dynamic time, after all,
the moment during which Ultimecia cast TC did not necessarily always 
exist on the line of time. It might have only come into existence when she 
finally "did it," and HW afterwards would have impacted and altered the 
entire timeline, Lunatic Pandora and Squall's present included.

In the static time model, however, the moment at which Ultimecia casts TC 
would always exist. Therefore, the HW event caused by TC would also 
always have to exist. Because the cause-and-effect chain is broken, 
however, the single moment during which TC is experienced in the Lunatic 
Pandora isn't actually any more connected to the triggering TC event than 
any other random moment in time.

Have you figured out the implication of this yet?

The implication is that, in a static timeline, because the moment at Lunatic 
Pandora is no more relevant than any other point in time, in order for HW to 
occur at Lunatic Pandora, it would seemingly also have had to occur at 
every other moment in time. In short, because cause-and-effect are 
nonexistent in this scenario, no two points are bound by them, and for TC to
effect the timeline all the way up to Squall's present in Lunatic Pandora, it 
would ALSO have had to affect every other moment in time in-between. 
Every moment in the game should be a hallucinatory wonderland. But this 
is obviously not the case. HW only happens in the Lunatic Pandora, and 
when it happens there it is specifically caused by an "unrelated" event 
decades prior to when it happens.

Static time does not allow for this - or does it?

In dynamic time, Ultimecia can influence the "future" by acting in the "past"
because nothing is set in stone. In static time, however, for Ultimecia's TC 
spell to cause HW in the Lunatic Pandora, those two eras of time must be 
somehow "joined together" in order to create a rational chain of 
cause-and-effect.

Those two eras of time, however, cannot be joined together in static time. 
How, then, can one be paired up with the other? Why should, how can, HW 
happen years after TC is cast, as it does in the game?

The solution actually doesn't lie in the static time model at all, which does, 
in fact, operate perfectly even under these apparently perplexing conditions.
Rather, understanding the problem of HW depends, not upon reexamining 
the timelines or their models, but upon reexamining the mechanics of time 
travel itself.

Many people probably have the same basic conception of what time travel 
would be like. It would likely involve going bodily backwards or forwards in 
time. That would mean leaving one era and entering another. Following that,
once out of one era, the time traveler would not be bound to it anymore - 
naturally, you might even say. To use an example of Sir Bahamut's from a 
previous version of this very FAQ, imagine that Squall and Rinoa have gone 
on a picnic, but that Squall, halfway through his meal, decides to jump into 
a time machine. He might go back into the past, stays there for twenty 
years, and then jump back into the machine and reappear at the picnic. On 
his PLOT, twenty years would have passed. For Rinoa, however, it would 
seem like only seconds had gone by.

This conception of time travel might seem well and good, but in FFVIII, 
people rarely hop back and forth between eras like that. That's because no 
ordinary time machine is used by the characters in FFVIII: excluding TC, 
they depend entirely upon either Ellone or the Junction Machine Ellone for 
their time-traveling needs (and the JME, for  all intents and purposes, 
functions exactly like Ellone herself). Ellone cannot simply send people 
back and forth willy-nilly across eras. She must maintain a direct, 
"real-time" connection with them for the duration of their stay in another era.

No better example of this facet of her powers might be found than in the very 
first instance Ellone sends Squall and Co. to Laguna's era. After just 
boarding the train to Timber, Squall and Co. "fall asleep" and are transported
back in time, where they spend a few hours with/as Laguna. When they 
"wake up" again in their own era,  their train has already reached Timber 
after having completed its international journey via the underwater tunnel. In 
other words, just as many hours have passed in Squall's era as in Laguna's:
the two eras were "synchronized" by Ellone. 

This synchronization can be witnessed at many other points in the game - 
whenever, in fact, Ellone uses her powers. When transported mere minutes into
the past while aboard the space  station's escape pod, Squall still falls 
asleep for the same amount of minutes in his present era as he spends in the 
past. This unique method of time travel might be imagined to be like a sort of 
telephone line, with Ellone acting as the "operator." Squall is at one end, his
present era, and has been connected to another end, the past, with Ellone 
mediating the connection, but a connection must always be maintained. 
Otherwise, the phone call would simply be cut off.

While this observation might seem tangential to the HW problem, the 
nature of Ellone's power is in fact pivotal to understanding how Ultimecia 
can cast TC in the "past" while HW alters the "present." Ultimecia herself is
using the JME, and, as such, is subjected to the same limitations that 
Squall and Co. are when Ellone uses her powers on them.  Instead of Ellone
acting as the "operator" for Ultimecia, the JME fills that role, but Ultimecia 
still requires an "operator," and when she travels into a "past" era, that 
means that the JME has synchronized her own "present" era with the "past"
one of her choosing. Although it is never observed in the game, what this 
inherently must mean is that, in her own era, Ultimecia's body has "fallen 
asleep" just like Squall's does. Somewhere in her castle, she is sitting 
partially-unconscious throughout most of the game!


---
NOTE: In fact, this is perhaps why she's simply sitting around on her throne
when the party finds her for the final battle. Having killed the SeeD's on
the beach, she had only to go back in time to cast TC, and since she had to
go unconscious to do so, what better place to do it than sitting on her throne?
---


When two hours, therefore, pass for Ultimecia while she is possessing 
someone in the "past," two hours also must pass for her physical body in 
her own "present." This, of course, means that if Ultimecia "snaps out" of 
possession after the two hour elapse, two hours of her own "present" time 
would have elapsed in the same interval. So while Ultimecia (or Squall, or 
anyone else) is not conscious in her own "present" while she is in the 
"past," she is still connected to, and her physical body is still alive in, her 
own "present," meaning that she functionally exists in two eras at once! Her
mind is merely paying more attention to one of the eras than the other.

If this isn't confusing enough already, Ultimecia kicks things up a notch in 
the Lunatic Pandora when she coerces Ellone into sending her back into 
another, THIRD era. For a few, brief moments, her body is sitting in her 
castle in the "future," Rinoa's body, which she is possessing, is sitting in 
the Lunatic Pandora in the "present," and Ultimecia's conscious mind is 
located in Adel's body in the "past." It's like a three-way phone call: all of 
the eras are synchronized, if only for a moment, and, if only for a moment, 
Ultimecia exists across all three of them (that is, her PLOT is overlapping 
all three eras in the manner described above). And this is the moment, of 
course, when she casts TC

http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h59/TJF588/FF/08/tc-hw.jpg

(very helpful illustrative diagram due to TJF588!)

The causes-and-effects, as you can tell, are back together, and the chain is
no longer broken. Although none of the separate eras have been literally 
brought together on the timeline, they have all been "lined up," each sharing a
specified duration of minutes with one another. Normally this synchronization
wouldn't be noticeable at all, and would simply operate on a technical level, 
producing no physical effects in any of the connected eras: when Squall knocks
over a vase in Winhill in the "past" as Laguna, for example, there is no 
crashing sound in his "present." But Ultimecia does more than knock over a 
vase: her TC spell, once cast, actually alters time itself. It therefore 
follows that the TC spell would indeed effect the eras which Ultimecia is 
synchronized with when she casts it, and HW is consequently seen at the Lunatic
Pandora because that is one of the select, synchronized eras. Or thinking 
about it slightly differently, you can picture it as if the JME and Ellone
connections create a temporal 'bridge' of sorts linking all three eras in time,
so when Ultimecia casts TC in the past, the effect travels across this bridge
and ends up getting cast in the other two eras as well.

It would also stand to reason that HW occurs in Adel's "past" for a brief 
moment, as well as in Ultimecia's "future," but what happens in these eras 
is, alas, off-camera in the game.

Nevertheless, with each era bridged by Ellone and the JME's 
direct-connection, events can be put down intact and predestined on a 
static timeline, and the problem with HW is resolved. 

Although the above explanation is a nice, intuitive explanation, it's also
somewhat informal. For the interested reader, here's a slightly more technical
way of thinking about it. If it just confuses you then there's absolutely no 
harm just sticking to the above.

The underlying idea which makes the above argument tick is that the Ellone
connection in some sense messes with the temporal simultaneity. When Ultimecia
uses the JME to possess Edea say, we say that the two eras are 'synchronized',
meaning that the eras are lined up in a one-to-one correspondence (see the
illustrative diagram linked above). Two events 'synchronized' by this 
correspondence, although temporally disconnected on the ULOT, have been put 
into simultaneity with eachother. In ery informal terms, they are 'happening at
the same time'. When TC is cast, because it's a spell acting on time itself, it
manifests itself first at all simultaneous points to the one in which it is 
actually cast, explaining HW. In technical terms the best way of thinking about
it is probably in terms of the PLOT sheet.

Normally Ulty's PLOT has a well-defined position in relation to the PLOT-sheet
as a whole (as in, it's lined up along with other events that happen 
simultaneously in her own era). If she were to cast TC without the Ellone 
connection then, TC would spread out from some point in her own era and that 
would be it, presumably no sideeffects anywhere else. But with the Ellone 
connection, her PLOT essentially goes all skewed in relation to the rest of the
PLOT-sheet, so that events simultaneous to events on her PLOT are now both 
stuff in Squall's present, Adel's past and Ultimecia's own era. Her PLOT is 
somehow superimposed across all three eras in time, bringing them all into
simultaneity.



---
NOTE (by Sir B): It is my current opinion that while the model described
in the above is certainly the best model that has been proposed so far, 
that there are still several issues that are not dealt with quite as 
satisfactorily as I would want. 

All the problems with describing TC stem from the fact that TC is a process 
which acts -on- time, yet we cannot sensibly talk about time as changing.
But of course it turns out to be awfully difficult to talk about time
compression without resorting to handy visual analogies which directly imply
a changing time. The TC event model is our best attempt at getting around
that, but I have come to believe that it would take an actual mathematical
description to really avoid any pitfalls and give a satisfactory explanation.

Maybe one day I'll pursue such a description, but as things stand, I think
the model described in this FAQ will give a pretty good idea of what must
really be going on.
---


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE FINAL BATTLE AND THE ENDING FMV [NT13]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Both the final battle and the ending FMV may appear to be very confusing 
upon a first viewing but, in fact, can be explained quite nicely with an 
understanding of one fundamental property of time compression: the fact 
that it responds to thoughts and emotions. Thus, all the weirdness we see 
in the final FMV with Squall can literally be seen as a window into Squall's 
feelings and thoughts. Here is what I find to be the most straightforward 
description and interpretation.

In the final battle, Ultimecia is in the process of compressing time, and in 
her final stage, scanning her will reveal that she has transformed into a form
which will allow her to absorb time and space itself. Note that Squall and 
Co. were avoiding being compressed and absorbed themselves through 
willpower and their belief in eachother; they were all willing eachother to 
stay around, and their friendships were strong enough for it to work. When 
a party member is knocked out in battle then, and not revived for some time, 
their mental bonds have been broken for too long and they get compressed 
and absorbed. This explains what happens when party members are "lost in 
time."

When Ultimecia is defeated, time compression (TC) stops, and the party is 
left in the partially-compressed time-warp where you fight Ultimecia's final 
form. Everyone but Squall, following Laguna's encouragement to stay 
focused on each other, ends up together, and are able to focus their minds 
together and get back to their own time again. Squall, however, is still 
unable to let go of his "lone wolf" attitude and so ends up alone. When he 
tries to get back to his own time, since he is not able to trust his friends, 
he thinks of himself primarily and thus ends up with a younger version of 
himself in the orphanage. There he meets Edea, and Ultimecia shows up 
and gives Edea her powers.

Ultimecia appeared there for two reasons probably. Firstly, she was still 
focusing intensely on Squall, evident by her statement "I can't dissapear 
yet!", indicating that she still wants to fight. Secondly, she probably wanted 
desperately to pass on her powers, at least on a subconscious level (see 
the Rinoa=Ultimecia section for more discussion on this aspect of 
sorceress powers). These two factors would easily have led her to Squall 
via the properties of TC.

Moving on, Squall attempts to go back again, but fails once more and this 
time ends up all alone. As he walks, he starts feeling more and more 
helpless, lost and distressed, losing all hope of escaping. TC responds to 
this and shifts so that Squall is on a tiny island from which there is literally
no escape. His thoughts then turn to Rinoa, but because he's so worn out 
and distressed, the visions produced by TC are tainted, which is why Rinoa 
appears all blurred. These visions begin to escalate as Squall starts 
panicking, until he collapses from the strain. 

Now Rinoa, using the power of love (corny but true) finds him, and although 
she first thinks he is dead, she hugs him, causing him to wake up. Note it's
hard to say whether or not Squall died or not, but whatever the case, he 
was brought back to a waking state by Rinoa, and together they get back 
to their own time, Squall finally being able to trust in Rinoa.

Some people speculate that Squall died for good, but this is patently absurd
when taking into account the rest of the ending FMV. Firstly, there is the 
fact that everyone in Garden is celebrating and are as happy as we've ever 
seen them. If Squall had died, one would certainly expect there to be some 
more grief shown at some point. He was, after all, the leader of SeeD at 
that point! Secondly, this implies that Rinoa goes mad and starts having 
illusions of Squall, which is pretty absurd considering what a happy 
atmosphere Square decide to put in the ending. Furthermore, Selphie 
points towards Rinoa and smiles, which she'd hardly be doing if Rinoa was 
in fact completely insane. Of course, the fact that we don't see Squall in the
camera is because the battery went out before he came into view. It is 
possible that Squall did die when he collapsed in the final FMV, but it is 
overwhelmingly clear that then Rinoa brought him back to life anyway. So 
although one can speculate freely on his exact condition after collapsing, 
he certainly is alive after the flower field bursts open in all its splendour.

Other theories suggest that the final bit of the ending is all in Rinoa's head, 
but this has, of course, not a shred of evidence to support it, so cannot be 
treated seriously. Squall survives, and they all live happily ever after; at 
least, this is what the game implies.



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE TIME COMPRESSION SORCERESSES [NT14]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

One aspect of "Hippie Weirdness" (see the section on time compression) is 
the fact that when you travel to the future, you encounter several 
strange-looking sorceresses, most of which look identical to each other. So 
the question is, who/what are these sorceresses?

It was long assumed that they were in fact all the sorceresses who lived in 
the era between Rinoa and Ultimecia. Some have speculated that killing them
enabled Ultimecia to absorb their powers via time compression (i.e. their
powers were absorbed into TC and subsequently siphoned into Ultimecia).
This is based on Ultimecia's scan info, which says of Ultimecia:

"A sorceress trying to change the world by compressing time and taking 
power from all sorceresses."

It is unclear whether or not she would gain powers from other sorceresses
by virtue of them all being compressed together into one neat little package
for Ultimecia to absorb, or if TC simply made it possible for powers from
past sorceresses to travel to Ultimecia's time. In any case, these details
are not terribly important. The significant question is whether or not the
TC sorceresses are real women who live between Rinoa and Ultimecia's era.

Well, it might be the case that Squall and Co. focusing intensely on reaching 
a sorceress in the future actually systematically stopped by every single 
sorceress before Ultimecia and killed her before moving on. This theory is
particularly attractive for some as it presents a conclusive proof against the 
R=U theory (see later sections for more). The fact that the sorceresses look
mostly identical to each other is then suggested to be due to practical 
reasons: Square simply didn't have the time/resources/interest to make 
them all look like individuals. However, the scan info of the sorceresses 
seems to suggest something rather different:

"Sorceress from beyond time who appeared due to time
compression. Uses magic, but it is not very powerful."

The phrase "beyond time" suggests that the sorceresses do not in fact 
come from some specific time period, but that they only came into 
existence through time compression and don't belong to any given time. 
This leads naturally to the explanation we deem to be the most likely, 
namely that the sorceresses were created by time compression as a 
manifestation of the wills of Ultimecia and/or Squall and Co. Ultimecia would
be intensely focusing on maintaining time compression, protecting it from 
outside influence, and her powerful will may easily have caused the 
sorceresses to manifest as guardians of TC. On the other hand, Squall and 
Co. were focusing on finding some sorceress they basically knew only by 
name in an unknown time, so it is not surprising at all that they would 
encounter these guardians. This explanation also means that the identical 
appearances of the sorceresses isn't a problem at all, as they weren't 
actually real people. The fact that the sorceresses all cackle maniacally, 
fade in and out of battle, and that the final sorceress is a giant worm is also 
explained by this, and in addition, the fact that you fight them in locations 
important to Squall and Co. makes sense: these would be places central in 
the memories of Squall and Co. and thus these places might be made 
manifest by TC. The fact that the sorceresses are introduced to you first
as someone appearing to be Edea, and all the other surreal aspects of the
event all make sense with this idea.

However, recent information obtained by Squall_Of_SeeD may indicate that
despite all of the above, the TC sorceresses might actually be real women
from the future after all. He was able to locate the Scan info of the TC
sorceresses in the Japanese version of the game. The Japanese
text can be seen here:

http://tinyurl.com/yabpmu9

The most important part is the following line in the above link:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/tcwitches.jpg

In Japanese, this says "Jikan asshuku no kouka de, jikuu no kanata kara 
arawareta daidai no majo." which roughly translates as ""Generation after 
generation of witches who appeared from beyond(/the other side of) space and 
time as a result of time compression." The person who wrote the commentary
in the above link expresses a very transparent view of this:

"After leaving the Commencement Room of Save Points, it's been arranged to 
fight successive generations of witches."

(Note that "daidai," meaning "generation after generation," is a different 
word from "rekidai," the word used in the line right above, meaning 
"successive generations.")


This person then goes on to make the following comment:

"Witches are an important element within FF8, but the attention given the 
successive generations of witches is slovenly. As 11 of them appear in only 3 
varieties, and all are simply named 'Witch,' this is undeniable. Added to that,
their strength doesn't help, and overall their looks are below expectations. 
Their bad luck may exceed the precedent set by Seifer."

In addition, Squall_Of_SeeD located the bestiary information of the TC witches
in the Ultimania, which when translated say:

(Witch (1) bestiary entry; pg. 243)
"Successive generations of witches from beyond space and time."

(Witch (2) bestiary entry; pg. 244)
"One form of the successive generations of witches who appear in the
Time Compressed World."

(Note that the word "rekidai" is again used for "successive generations")


It seems clear from the above that the words "daidai", 'generation after
generation', and "rekidai", 'successive generations', is pretty unambiguously 
suggesting that the TC sorceresses are in fact real women from the era between
Rinoa and Ultimecia. Yet even while two words suggest that, the part stating 
they are from "beyond/the other side of" space and time seems to suggest again
that they aren't real. After all, if they were real women then they would 
certainly not be from "beyond" space and time, and they would hardly be far 
enough removed from Rinoa's era to warrant the statement "the other side of 
space and time". Now, it is possible to read the line as simply saying they 
simply came from 'far away' in space and time, which is just about ambiguous 
enough to not clash with the idea that they are real women, but this still
does not seem very satisfactory.

So we have arrived at the unfortunate situation where the Japanese Scan info
and Ultimania appear to be suggesting one thing (albeit with rather odd 
wording), while the game itself appears to be suggesting the opposite. What 
are we then to make of it all? In fact the opinions of the authors are split. 
Myself (Sir B) and TheOnionKnight both firmly feel that the suggestion from 
the game itself is simply too strong to be counteracted by the works "daidai"
and "rekidai". Squall_Of_SeeD on the other hand feels that the lack of 
ambiguity in these words is convincing enough and that the Ultimania should 
be given the final say in the matter. Thus we leave it up to you, the reader, 
to decide what you feel carries more weight in this specific case.

It is a great pity that we are forced to leave this question open, because if
the TC sorceresses -are- real women, then the storyline implications would
be huge. As the matter stands though, we don't really have any other choice.


NOTE: See the section "Concerning the role of official sources" for 
further discussion on how we should treat things like the Ultimania and direct
translations from the Japanese version of the game.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE RAGNAROK AND THE BLOCKED OFF CITIES ON DISC 4 [NT15]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The fact that the Ragnarok ends up in the future is something which seems
quite random, but has in fact a quite nice explanation using our favourite 
property of time compression. Xu states when you enter the Ragnarok on
disc 4 that she and the CC Group really wanted to play cards with Squall, 
so their desire to play cards meant that they followed Squall through time 
compression, along with the Ragnarok they were on when time 
compression was initiated.

Unfortunately, the reason why all the cities are blocked off does not have a 
similarly nice explanation. It is certainly not an effect of time compression, 
because then there would be no meaningful distinction between a town and 
the rest of the world map, so if the compression blocks off towns it should 
block off everything. The only reasonable explanation seems to be that 
Ultimecia sealed them off herself to prevent disturbances while 
compressing time.

Of course, the real reason is that Square needed to make space for the big 
ending FMV, and since time compression was going on they figured they 
could get away with randomly sealing off the cities without any form of 
explanation, but from a storyline perspective, Ultimecia sealing them 
appears to be our best bet.



-----------------------------------------------
DISCUSSION ON FATE [NT16]
-----------------------------------------------

Fate is a central theme in FF8. The fate of characters is several times 
referred to and discussed, as people like Squall first resist and then 
embrace their apparent "fate," while people like Ultimecia appear to be 
trying their utmost to change it. Indeed, the main characters are even 
referred to indirectly as the "Liberi Fatali," meaning the children of fate! 
But what is fate really? Here we discuss a couple of different interpretations
of the concept.

The most classical interpretation is that fate is the idea that events are 
being manipulated and controlled by some higher force(s). As vague an idea
as this is, it is actually quite a tempting one considering certain events. For
instance, the fact that Squall and Rinoa happen to stumble upon the 
Ragnarok in outer space right before their oxygen runs out is so extremely 
improbable that it almost seems necessary to appeal to some higher force 
to explain it. Similarly, the fact that a bunch of teenagers can defeat 
probably the strongest sorceress since Hyne all by themselves, even after 
she transforms and absorbs large amounts of time and space itself, seems 
almost a bit too ludicrous and unlikely.

However, to the more scientific minded, this supernatural conception of fate 
will sound a bit unsatisfactory. It is indeed possible to think of fate not as 
something supernatural, but rather as merely a reflection of the fact that 
time is set in stone in FF8. In static time all events are fixed, all paths 
already laid out, and so everyone already has their fate written out in 
advance. But this fate would not necessarily be supernatural, rather an 
inevitable result of the laws of physics governing the FF8 universe. Still, 
though, this leaves unanswered the question of the aforementioned 
extremely unlikely events.

Of course, extremely unlikely events will, in a sufficiently old universe, have 
occurred several times anyway simply by recourse to statistics, so it is not 
too bad to just brush them off as statistical odditities. However, it is worth
noticing that the unlikely events in the game occur in such a way so as to 
ensure the defeat of Ultimecia and the prevention of time compression. 
Since time compression, if completed, would contradict the existence of a 
static ULOT, this indicates another way of looking at things.

The anthropic principle states (in one form) that we observe what we do 
because we exist. It arises as a consequence of the fact that our own 
universe appears incredibly finely tuned for us to live in; if any fundamental 
constant were altered just a little, life could never have arisen or maybe the 
universe itself would have collapsed shortly after being created. The 
anthropic principle then basically states that the universe appears to be so 
finely tuned to life of our kind because we exist to observe its finely tuned 
nature. Although this may sound like a meaningless tautology, it becomes 
quite meaningful if you make the assumption that ours is not the only 
universe. If you consider the idea that many universes come into existence 
all the time, then the anthropic principle becomes more relevant. Its 
interpretation would now be that the universe is so finely tuned to life 
because of all the universes that have arisen, ours is the only one finely 
tuned enough for life to arise and ponder why things are so finely tuned.

This principle can be applied in FF8 too when considering time 
compression. In essence, the incredibly unlikely events occur as they do 
because of all the FF8 universes that have arisen, it was only the one in 
which those events occurred which prevented TC from being completed. Any 
universe which had similar events but not those unlikely ones would (probably)
have resulted in TC being completed, and so these universes would have started 
off fully compressed, thus making them impossible to experience anything 
in. This basically means that we can easily and with good conscience brush 
off the unlikeliness of certain events as just statistical oddities which were 
bound to occur eventually anyway.

As you can hopefully appreciate from all this, fate in FF8 is a subtle thing 
which we can't hope to be able to explain fully. Perhaps this brief discussion
will have given some food for thought at least.



-----------------------------------------------------------------
WHAT ABOUT THE REAL WORLD? [NT17]
-----------------------------------------------------------------

~Static vs Dynamic~ [NT18]

Surprisingly (or not), real world physics indicates that time may be static. 
You can use special relativity to show that the future and past exist as 
much as the present, so the notions of past, present and future are made 
redundant. For an observer, all of space-time would appear equal. So unless
some new theory were to overthrow Einstein's, it seems that time in the real
world is static as well. 

Introducing time-travelling to the real world yields the same conclusions we 
reach in the FF8 world: all time-travelling would have to be set in stone as 
well. It should, however, be noted that time-travelling in the real world seems
rather unlikely, and, is at best, way, way beyond our current technology.

If you're sceptical to my claims here, I'd recommend you read the book 
"The Fabric of The Cosmos" by Brian Greene, which explains what I 
summarised here. It's a very good read, and actually discusses a concept 
of time identical to static time. Here are some relevant quotes, though, which
show clearly the connection: 

"So if you buy the notion that reality consists of things in your
freeze-frame mental image right now [...], then reality encompasses all of
the events in spacetime." (page 138)

"If you time-travelled back to December 31, 1965, then you were there, you
were always there, you will always be there, you were never not there. 
[The hypothetical event considered] did not happen twice, [...] your 
presence [there] will be an eternal and immutable feature of spacetime." 
(page 453)

 "If you time travel to the past, you can't change it any more than you can
 change the value of pi." (page 454)

Interestingly enough, I read this book after the static time framework had
been completely deduced independently on the FF8 board here at 
GameFAQs. As you can imagine, it was a very pleasant surprise to have 
our ideas confirmed by such a top-notch scientist as Brian Greene, and it 
made us confident that we weren't merely babbling nonsense in the Time 
section of the FAQ! The book was also very helpful in inspiring the structure
of the last draft of the Time section, as well as giving some good hints at 
how to easily explain certain concepts (indeed, I confess I almost straight out
stole a couple of phrases from him). I definitely recommend it to anyone 
interested in time and space!


~The flow of time in the real world~ [NT19]

It turns out that the question of the flow of time is a big unanswered question
in physics today. Brian Greene in "The Fabric of the Cosmos," mentioned 
above, dedicates an entire sub-section of the book to the question: "Does 
time flow?" As mentioned above, the conclusions he reaches seem to be 
nothing else but static time. 

After deducing that all of (space)time exists all at once, like in static time, 
he concludes that:

"Every moment 'is.' Under close scrutiny, the flowing river of time more 
closely resembles a giant block of ice with every moment forever frozen in 
place." (page 141)

However, he acknowledges the fact that this is extremely counterintuitive 
and hard to grasp, and adds that "Time is a subtle subject and we are far 
from understanding it fully. It is possible that some insightful person will one
day devise a new way of looking at time and reveal a bona fide physical 
foundation for a time that flows" (page 141).

That's pretty much all I have to offer, though. The flow of time is basically a 
big unanswered question, and these authors have unsurprisingly not been 
able to penetrate deeper into the mystery than anyone else, so we'll have 
to leave it as an unanswered question.

If you want to read a very interesting book on time and how our
intuitive view of it may be completely wrong and not even necessary
for physics to work, check out Julian Barbour's book, "The End of Time".


-------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOW ABOUT ALTERNATE UNIVERSES? [NT20]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

It seems a popular approach based on modern real life ideas that alternate 
universes may form an important part of time-travelling and, thus, FF8. The 
visions Squall has in the ending are often cited as evidence of the existence
of alternate universes (i.e. one where Rinoa's helmet bursts in space). 

However, it is the opinion of these authors that Squall's visions are too 
vague and trippy to really be used to constitute evidence, and further, that 
the idea of alternate universes simply makes things unnecessarily complex.
This FAQ has described a way to explain everything without the necessity
of appealing to more than one universe, and as alternate universes don't
bring anything particularly desirable to the table, it seems redundant to 
consider it.



-------------------------------------------------------------------
DYNAMIC TIME - THE ALTERNATIVE [NT21]
-------------------------------------------------------------------

-Explanation of the Dynamic Time Theory-
Written by: Squall of SeeD/Glenn Morrow

The purpose of this article is to explain the Dynamic Time Theory. Whereas this
FAQ's authors agree on most issues concerning time in Final Fantasy VIII, on
this particular matter, I disagree with Sir Bahamut and TheOnionKnight.

While they hold to the Static Time Theory -- which states that time is what it
is, has always existed as it is, and always will exist as it is, with changes
to the past being an impossibility -- I hold to this view. As such, we felt it
would be best if I were to offer my own explanation of this theory.

The principle assumption one should have in mind concerning the Dynamic Time
Theory is that, like the Static Time Theory, it would also involve a static
timeline in a sense. This is to say that it also "is what it is," and exists
as it's "supposed to."

However, as in Buddhist views of the self -- or, as some would put it, the
non-self -- this theory calls for carrying the assumption that time is
something that is always evolving. When it moves forward -- from one day to the
next, one hour to the next, or even one second to the next -- it is evolving.

The same is true of what is wrought by changes in the past. Time is not so much
"overwritten" -- a common misconception of this view of time -- as it is that
it evolves into something else. What happened before isn't erased from
existence. It still happened. Time has just picked up and moved on.

For an example, I am now referencing Marvel Comics' storylines concerning
Cable, the son of the popular co-founding X-Man called "Cyclops."


-- "Your future is my past..." --

When Cable was an infant, the ages-old villain known as "Apocalypse" infected
him with a "Techno Organic Virus" that turned living tissue into living metal.
As this virus ravaged baby Cable's nervous system, it seemed assured that the
infant would die.

However, a representative of the Askani Sisterhood that existed thousands of
years in the future -- a future ruled by Apocalypse, and in which he was
opposed by the Askani -- appeared to take Cable to the future, where he could
be saved. Cyclops was forced to let his child go to the future in order to save
his life.

There, the infant was raised to become the savior of the people, destined to
someday confront Apocalypse and topple the tyrant forever.

While that day *did* come and Apocalypse *was* killed, the New Canaanite Order
that ruled in his absence was also evil and things were not much better than
they were before. The Clan Chosen -- Cable's people -- lost their war to the
New Canaanites, and all that had been accomplished seemed to be for nothing.

It was then decided that Cable should go back in time and attempt to prevent
Apocalypse from ever ascending to his nigh-omnipotent power at the end of the
second millennium A.D. After several years in the past, Cable -- with the help
of his father and the other X-Men -- was successful in preventing Apocalypse's
ascension.

With Apocalypse's rise to power undone, the future that Cable had been raised
in simply ceased to be. But not entirely.

It still happened. He and others that had been there still remembered it, and
those who had merely heard about it still knew that it had existed. Nothing
changed in the present era as a result of preventing the future from coming to
pass, despite the fact that the present was a product of that future.

Time simply moved on. It evolved.

Even with the future undone, Cable's Personal Line of Time (PLOT) would still
look like this:

A-----B-----C-----D----->Future

A = his birth
B = him going to the future
C = him returning to the past several years after he had left, but as a grown
    man
D = Apocalypse's ascension being prevented


With that in mind, before we examine the Universal Line of Time (ULOT), it
should be considered that the ULOT is a product of all the PLOTs within. The
ULOT is like a giant tapestry composed of all the PLOTs that constitute it,
each PLOT being akin to a thread in the tapestry.

So long as a single PLOT existed in a certain era or timeline, undone or not,
that era or timeline is part of the universe's own PLOT (the ULOT). Thus, in
the situation being discussed, the PLOT of the Marvel Universe would look like
this:

(Note: For the sake of simplicity, this illustration *does not* take into
account any other alternate timelines, circumvented future eras, or anything
similar as regarding the Marvel Universe; there are simply far too many of them
to take into account without deviating from the purpose of this article. They
are not being disregarded, but are simply beyond the scope of this article to
detail here.)

A-----B-----C-----D----->Future

A = the birth of the universe
B = Apocalypse's ascension
C = Cable's return to the past
D = Apocalypse's failure to achieve his god-like powers


While the Static Timeline Theory as proposed by TheOnionKnight and Sir
Bahamut would call for the concept of a timeline being a misnomer, as can be
seen here, it's still fully possible for time to be looked at as a line and as
something in which PLOTs apply -- even despite changes in the past.


-- "If it leaks, we can kill it..." --

For a similar example, let us look to the "Terminator" film series. The
premise of these stories is that a computer system called "Skynet" --
possessing highly advanced artificial intelligence, to the extent that it has
gained sentience -- decides to annihilate homo sapiens and allow machines to
rule the Earth.

The war between blood and metal begins on a day remembered to history as
"Judgment Day." On August 29th of 1997, Skynet asserted its individuality and
commandeered the computer systems of American nuclear missile silos. Targeting
their contents at Russia, knowing the other country would counterattack with
its own nuclear arsenal, Skynet effectively orchestrated a rain of nuclear
destruction upon much of the world -- eliminating the majority of the human
population and effectively crippling all nations that might have opposed
Skynet.

Naturally, in the war that followed, a legendary leader would rise among the
ranks of the humans to guide his people during the conflict.

In the first two "Terminator" films, Skynet sent mechanized assassins back in
time, first in an attempt to kill Sarah Connor -- mother of the legendary
Resistance commander, John Connor -- before she could give birth to her child,
and, later, to target John after his birth. In both cases, the plots are foiled
by agents of John's future self, who he also sent back through time.

The second attempt actually results in Judgment Day being averted and the
future seemingly undone. "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," however,
established that Judgment Day was only postponed and that the future where a
war with machines ensued would still come to pass -- but when these events were
set in motion had now changed.

August 29, 1997 was the date given for Judgment Day in "Terminator 2: Judgment
Day." This date was given first by Sarah Connor and later by the T-800 sent to
protect John. Sarah should know because Kyle Reese -- John's father, and the
agent he had sent back in time to protect his mother in the first "Terminator"
film -- would have told her back in 1984. The T-800 should know for obvious
reasons to those familiar with the film series.

"Terminator 3," however, takes place approximately 10 years after "Terminator
2," by which time 1997 has obviously come and gone. In fact, "Terminator 2"
would have taken place around 1995, seeing as how John Connor was 10 years old
at the time, and was conceived in 1984.

In other words, Judgment Day fell approximately seven years later than it was
supposed to (John is 19 during the third film).

Later still, yet another change to the timeline occurs during the events of
"Terminator 3." Another Skynet assassin is sent back in time, its purpose to
eliminate John's lieutenants from the future that emerged out of a Judgment Day
that fell in 2004.

Successful in eliminating several before Judgment Day falls once again, the
previous course of events that followed from the changes wrought in "Terminator
2" is also undone, resulting in yet another new timeline.

Thus far, we have three changes to the "Terminator" timeline -- four versions
of how time had flowed.

There's, of course, the original timeline, in which Sarah Connor conceived
John at some point prior to Skynet raining destruction across the Earth in
1997. In that timeline, John emerged as a leader of mankind's Resistance, and
later sent his agent, Kyle Reese, back in time to protect his mother in 1984.

Following that, there's the timeline in which Kyle becomes John's father,
conceiving him with Sarah Connor in 1984. Skynet still causes its global
conflagration in 1997 and rises to power, and John still emerges as a leader
of the people to combat the cybernetic threat.

Next, we have a timeline in which John's life was threatened by the T-1000 in
1995 and he was saved by a T-800 his future self sent to protect him. In this
timeline, the Judgment Day of 1997 is averted, and instead follows some 10
years later. John then still emerges to lead humanity in its Resistance against
the machines.

Finally, we have a timeline in which events follow more or less the same as
the previous up until the year 2004 -- at which point the T-X arrives from the
future and eliminates several of John's lieutenants from the previous future.
As always, John emerges as the leader of mankind, and the events of
"Terminator: Salvation" follow from here without any new changes to the
timeline as yet.

In each case, time changed, but it was never replaced. The events of the
original timeline are still known -- they still happened. Time was not erased.
It simply evolved.

At this point, you may wonder what relevance this has to Final Fantasy VIII
and its timeline. The relevance comes in via establishing an example of what I
believe the true nature of time to be in Final Fantasy VIII -- the idea being
that time as depicted in the game is not what it always was.

The point is to suggest that -- once upon a time, if you'll excuse the obvious
expression -- an "original" timeline existed in which none -- or at least very
few -- of the things that we see happen in the story of Final Fantasy VIII
occurred. Under this theory, it was only through tampering with time that those
events we see in Final Fantasy VIII came to pass in the first place.

I will here offer a summary of what I'm proposing:

(Note: Any number of "re-writes" or evolutions may have played into the
evolution of Final Fantasy VIII's ULOT before the time loop came to be
established. For the purpose of simplicity, the minimal number required for
the time loop to come into play will be represented here.)

-- The Evolution of Final Fantasy VIII's Universal Line of Time --

-Original timeline-
Squall is born. Squall dies without ever taking part in any of the key events
of Final Fantasy VIII because none of it has happened yet. Someone -- possibly
Ultimecia, or possibly Ellone herself -- screws with time in the future.


-Second timeline-
Time has been screwed up, but evolves, and events happen to follow in such a
way that Squall is in the party which defeats Ultimecia -- whoever she
happened to be originally (see the "Rinoa=Ultimecia theory" and "Unjust
Persecution" articles below for more on this). Ultimecia -- and possibly
Squall as well -- arrive in the past, where she gives Edea her powers, and
where Squall may have inspired Edea to create SeeD and Garden.


-Third timeline-
Either the events of Final Fantasy VIII itself now occur, or events very much
like them. In any case, a woman calling herself Ultimecia emerges out of the
previous future to tamper with the past. Her actions then either concretely
establish the time loop, or set in motion a fourth timeline -- this time, the
exact events of Final Fantasy VIII -- which does.

-All future loops of time and the "normal time" that follows them-
The events of Final Fantasy VIII and its subsequent timeline. Time evolved
until this time loop was established, and now time will continue to evolve
naturally beyond the point of Adel's death.


-- "You say you want an evolution..." --

For a real-world example of what I'm suggesting, let's examine the PLOT of
John Lennon and assume that someone were to go back in time to prevent his
death. First, we'll look at how the common misinterpretation of the Dynamic
Time Theory would look at his PLOT, and then we'll examine just what Lennon's
PLOT *would* look like according to the Dynamic Time Theory in such a
situation:

-Analyzing John Lennon's PLOT according to the common misinterpretation of the-
                             Dynamic Time Theory


     ^--------------->|
     |                |
     |                |
     |    A---------B(C)[------->]Future
     |                |
     |                |
     |    A-----------C
     |                |
     |<---------------|


A = John Lennon's birth
B = Lennon being shot five times by Mark Chapman and then dying
C = Lennon being shot in the shoulder, but being otherwise fine
(C) = The moment of C being imposed over B
[------->] = The rest of Lennon's life after time "starts up again"


As can be seen in this illustration, the misinterpretation of the Dynamic Time
Theory would call for the timeline in which Lennon died being negated and with
it having never happened. However, this is not the case at all.

As with the illustration regarding Cable's PLOT, or as explained in the
illustration utilizing the "Terminator" film series, the Dynamic Time Theory
would actually call for taking the "negated" timeline into account.

Thus, the real diagram for saving John Lennon would look like this:

A-------B-C------->Future

A = Lennon's birth
B = Lennon's death
C = Lennon being shot in the shoulder, but being otherwise fine


Under the Dynamic Time Theory, from the perspective of Lennon's PLOT, he would
be getting shot in the shoulder immediately after he died.

All the time that had passed after the moment of his death until someone set
out to change it would go unrecognized by his own PLOT, but would still be
relevant to that of anyone else who was aware of the timeline in which he had
died.

Compare Lennon's PLOT, then, to that of the Marvel Universe from our earlier
illustration:

-Lennon's PLOT-

A-------B-C------->Future

A = Lennon's birth
B = Lennon's death
C = Lennon being shot in the shoulder, but being otherwise fine


A-----B-----C-----D----->Future

A = the birth of the universe
B = Apocalypse's ascension
C = Cable's return to the past
D = Apocalypse's failure to achieve his god-like powers


In both cases, the events of the previous timeline have remained in the
memory -- and, consequently, part of the PLOT -- of those who had known of the
prior timeline. As the ULOT is a tapestry composed of all PLOTs, the previous
timeline still exists as part of the current one. The current ULOT, however,
has evolved out of the developments of the previous.

Naturally, some PLOTs will be affected by such events, but any cloth will get
some frayed edges after prolonged rough treatment.

Now, at this point, you may say that this is all speculative. The game itself
tells us through Ellone that "You can't change the past," and what may have
applied to the Marvel Universe or to "Terminator" has jack to do with what's
going on in Final Fantasy VIII.

A fair enough concern, and I'll be addressing it momentarily. I ask that you
bear with me down this road just a little further.

I hope that so far I have successfully demonstrated the mechanics of the
Dynamic Time Theory in a manner that is easy to understand. I will now touch
upon those concepts within Final Fantasy VIII that could be construed as
contradicting the concept, and point out why they do not -- as well as point
out, in fact, where we see changes made to the past in Final Fantasy VIII!


-- "Silence! I can change my own destiny!" --

-Fate-

The universe of Final Fantasy VIII -- and, consequently, its timeline(s) --
seems to be governed by the concept known as "fate" or "destiny" -- that idea
cwhich suggests all things to be pre-ordained. This concept most certainly fits
with the Static Time Theory, and is often thought to be at odds with the
Dynamic Time Theory.

However, this is not the case.

What is meant to be still is. What should happen happens. Changes to the past 
that cause time to evolve should merely be looked upon as fate. There is not 
really any contradiction present.

This is simply a case where fate is far more obvious to recognize for what it
is in the case of a time loop in which events will always play out the same due
to the same people occupying that time loop and making the same decisions
every time.


-"You can't change the past": Discrediting Ellone-

Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence supporting the view of a Static Time
Theory's validity is that Ellone tells Squall that "You can't change the
past," her own efforts to do so having failed. While this might seem to be
true, Ellone's unique situation has to be taken into account.

It is her very attempts to change the past as seen in the game that play small
parts in helping the future -- and, consequently, the past -- come to pass.
She's really only reinforcing it all, even as she makes attempts to change it.

Ellone lives within a time loop and is not aware of it, and -- being every
time the same person in the same circumstances, with the same history -- she
will always make the same decisions. This too could be looked upon as fate.

She came to believe that she couldn't change time, but as an individual within
a time loop that she is unaware of, she's hardly credible -- especially when
one considers what her powers allow her to do!

Those she was sending into the past throughout the game -- Squall and his
friends -- had no intention to exert their wills over Laguna, Kiros or Ward,
and would likely not have done so even had they known that they could, unlike
Ultimecia who freely and joyfully exerted her will onto others.

The situation being what it is, I personally don't feel that Ellone is a 
reliable source of information. While true that she could not change the past,
she was unable to do so in any of the ways she *tried* it -- even while someone
like Ultimecia demonstrated that it is more than possible to make someone in
the past do what you want them to do if you have the desire and they don't
have a great enough will to resist.

Having the same objectives and the same history throughout every turn of the
loop, Ellone would try the same things every time.

In addition to Ultimecia demonstrating that the past can be affected via time
travel, it's established in-game that the powers of Squall and the others
provided Laguna and his comrades with additional strength. Furthermore, when
Ellone sent Squall to the "nearest past," he was able to actually speak with
Rinoa -- she genuinely heard him!

Ellone's powers -- and those of Junction Machine Ellone -- provide more than a
means to simply observe the past, unable to influence it. It's simply come to
be that the chain of events that established the time loop are ones in which
Ellone will never be able to alter Laguna's past.

Once again: We plainly see the affects in-game of various individuals
influencing the past -- sometimes in subtle ways, others dramatic. But in
either case, their intentions are felt and their actions produce results.

It just happens to be that the results of those actions over time became a
self-perpetuating time loop.


-"I will cease to exist as I am now. Only to be reborn as a 'God' to rule over
every soul": Ultimecia's powers-

In the event of the Dynamic Time Theory being valid, many would argue that we
should be seeing an increase in Edea, Rinoa and Ultimecia's powers with each
turn of the time loop -- whereas they would argue that the Static Time Theory
would simply call for Edea receiving the powers she receives from Ultimecia
when she receives them, and in the quantity that she is destined to receive
them.

Despite this, as noted by Sir Bahamut above, this issue applies for the Static
Time Theory as well. However, in neither case does the power of witches "add
up" over time.

If this claim held true, Edea would, of course, increase in power until
Ultimecia was easily capable of defeating Squall and the others -- thus,
resulting in the time loop breaking. For the Static Time Theory in particular
this is problematic, as -- if power were to "add up" in the past at all, to say
nothing of Ultimecia being someday capable of defeating Squall and co. -- that
would count as a change to time and there would be no static timeline.

In fact, according to the Static Time Theory's very foundations, if Ultimecia
could *ever* be capable of defeating Squall and co., then the defeat should
surely have already happened.

Fear not.

Both theories still work fine, and without either involving the witch
embodiment increasing in potency with each turn of the time loop. As Sir B
masterfully explained above with what I like to call his "Theory of Everything"
(look this concept up on a search engine if you've never heard of it before),
witch powers can accumulate within the same body without necessarily giving
the witch in possession the ability to wield greater power.

Their own natural affinity for magic seems to determine their capacity for
wielding the witch embodiment.

This is illustrated in the game by the fact that Rinoa grows no more
obviously powerful after absorbing Adel's powers than she had been
before, with only Edea's.

As Sir B also noted, the possibility that a line of weaker witches existed
between Rinoa and Ultimecia could go great lengths toward resolving matters.
The presence of such a weaker line is something I would certainly argue to be
the case anyway given that I believe the series of witches encountered in Time
Compression to be Rinoa's successors (for more on that, see the "Time
Compression" entry -- entry UR14 of this document -- under the "Rinoa =
Ultimecia" section's analysis).

Alternately, we could also explain the lack of powers building up to break
the time loop the way I used to in earlier versions of this FAQ:

Assuming that Ultimecia's power decreases in potency each time she is
defeated by SeeD -- and being mortally wounded should certainly count
as a decrease in energy -- much of her supreme power from the final battle
is lost to her.

This idea is supported by the fact that she is back in her old body following
the battle -- despite having transcended it previously -- and barely able to
so much as stand, much less even attempt to exact revenge on Squall before she
dies. She was obviously weakened.

Perhaps even losing some of the power she'd had before she started.

Assuming all this to be true, a numerical diagram of the transfer of power
would look something like this:

(Note: For the sake of simplicity, and unless otherwise prompted, assume a
Witch's full strength counts as 10, while that of Ultimecia at the time of
her death counts as a mere 4.)

-Ultimecia's power added to Edea's-

10 + 4 = 14


-Adel's power added to Rinoa's-

14 + 10 = 24 (Rinoa's power, as well as Ultimecia's power before we fight her)


-The power of the 11 Witches encountered in Time Compression added to Rinoa's-

24 + 110 = 134


-Ultimecia's power after getting the shit kicked out of her, immediately prior
to her death-

4

-Ultimecia's power added to Edea's-

10 + 4 = 14


Wash. Rinse. Repeat. The same quantity of power would be in play each time.

I hope that this article serves to positively compliment Sir Bahamut's
compilation of our thoughts on time in Final Fantasy VIII, and that it may
serve the Final Fantasy VIII fan community well in their exploration of the 
game's story.

At the very least, I hope it allows fans to experience a new appreciation for
the game's engrossing storyline.




 =====================================
 -Section III: -Ultimecia-
 =====================================

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 PREFACE [U1]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Ultimecia, the main villain, is a woman shrouded in mystery. Her motives 
 are never revealed, her background never brought up, and all in all, we 
 don't know anything about her except that she appears to be pissed off at 
 SeeD and that she wants to compress time for power, demonstrated by her 
 scan info:

 "A sorceress trying to change the world by compressing time and taking power 
 from all sorceresses."

 Compressing time would, by uniting all of time into a single event, put all
 of the sorceress powers from all of time into one point, which Ultimecia 
 would then absorb, demonstrated by the final Ultimecia's scan info:

 "Ultimecia, transformed to absorb all time and space. Absorbing 
 all existence as we speak."

 Absorbing all of time and space, as well as receiving all of the sorceress
 powers throughout time, would essentially make Ultimecia God.

 This quest for supreme power is generally accepted as at least one big 
 motivation behind her actions, but we are still left to wonder if Ultimecia
 really has any other reasons for wanting to do what she does. And how did
 she become evil in the first place? It seems unlikely that she was simply
 born purely evil, intent to become God from day 1. 

 It is possible that Ultimecia's only real motive was power, but this next
 part of the FAQ will present two theories which expand on Ultimecia's origins
 and motivations. In the end, we hope that you will at least understand that
 there may be more to Ultimecia than meets the eye. 

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 1) THE RINOA = ULTIMECIA THEORY [UR1]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 This highly controversial theory has become immensely (in)famous ever since 
 it was first conceived of. Whoever it was who first came up with the idea, we
 don't know, because so many people ripped him/her off that it's become 
 impossible to tell by now.

 The theory basically states that Ultimecia is in fact an older Rinoa. 
 In other words, after the game ended, a string of events was set into motion,
 ultimately leading to Rinoa ending up "becoming" Ultimecia.
 This simple idea has been the starting point of countless lengthy debates and 
 flamewars on many different forums, but is it really true?

 Ultimately, we will show that the theory is highly implausible, and simply 
 not valid, or even practically possible as a theory. We will show that there 
 is absolutely no basis in assuming Square intended for Rinoa to be Ultimecia,
 ultimately nailing the coffin by referring to the Ultimania guide itself, 
 Square's official guidebook. 


--------------------
THE BASIS [UR2]
---------------------

 The R=U theory is a proposition of what might happen to Rinoa after
 a set of assumptions are made. To be precise, these assumptions are:

 1) A sorceress has an extended lifespan, and will live much longer than a 
     normal human.

 2) Rinoa wouldn't give away her powers to some other innocent girl, and would
    instead want to keep them herself.

 3) Rinoa's mental strength isn't all that good if she's all alone (i.e. without
    Squall and co.).

 You may notice that assumptions 2 and 3 are really subsets of a greater
 assumption, or rather interpretation of the plot: Rinoa's psyche.
 Obviously everyone will form an opinion of the main characters' psyches during
 the game, and this theory is based on an interpretation of Rinoa which makes
 assumptions 2 and 3 perfectly logical and plausible. Assumption 1 is brought
 up later, but just accept it now for the sake of understanding the theory. 

 It is quite trivial to see that once the three -- or, as explained, two --
 assumptions are drawn, we can deduce that Rinoa will outlive Squall and all 
 her friends. They will all die eventually, whether it be of age, illness or
 in combat. Rinoa will witness her true love and knight (Squall) die, as well 
 as her father and all her other friends. They will die and she will not.

 Of course you might argue that she could die in a car accident, say, but it 
 requires less assumptions to say she lived than died so it is ultimately a 
 more reasonable statement.

 I mentioned that Squall is Rinoa's knight. Just to remind you of what we know
 about a sorceress's knight:

 Edea tells us that a sorceress's knight is supposed to help maintain the 
 sorceress's mental stability and keep her from buckling under the pressure of
 the people. Remember that sorceresses are generally hated and there is even an
 organization made solely for killing them!.

 Adel, for instance, had no knight, and I don't think I have to remind you what
 kind of a sorceress Adel was! An example of a sorceress who is good and has a
 knight would be Edea, who has her knight, Cid. 

 So we have a Rinoa, all alone in a world filled with people who generally 
 want her dead, fear her and hate her -- and knowing that SeeD still exists to 
 kill people like her. We have a Rinoa in this scenario without a knight.

 Based on the aforementioned assumptions, we can now see that Rinoa could 
 very easily be Ultimecia, driven insane by the grief and pressure, probably
 driven to severe paranoia. Eventually, she is so warped that there's hardly
 any trace of the old Rinoa in her. Instead, she is now the evil Ultimecia, 
 trying to compress time and absorb all sorceress powers and eventually all
 time and space itself. 

 NOTE: Some people think Ultimecia could be a sane Rinoa trying to get back to
       Squall, but this makes absolutely no sense at all seeing as Ultimecia
       tries to kill Squall several times. If Rinoa really is Ultimecia, the
       only reasonable option is that she is so twisted that she retains no
       aspects of her old self (i.e. Rinoa and Ultimecia have to essentially be
       different minds in the same body). 

 I should add that if Rinoa continued to use GFs after the game ended, her
 insanity would doubtlessly be "amplified." GFs are very effective at removing
 memories after all. Remember Squall.

 He had forgotten almost all his childhood except the strongest memories of 
 Ellone, and he'd only used GFs for 4-5 years. Of course, this added assumption
 cannot realistically be backed up by anything over than personal opinions on
 what happens after the game, so it it is not a strong point in itself, and we
 are really left with insanity as the primary thing. The theory requires such a
 strong insanity over such a long time that Rinoa could literally become a
 completely different person.

 If you then wonder what the point of the theory is, since R and U are
 basically different people anyway even according to the R=U theory, you are
 not alone. 

 Now, you may ask yourself what "hints" supposedly back up this claim? And
 are there not certain things in the game which seem to contradict this
 theory? In this next section, all arguments used in favour of the theory 
 are discussed, and, as we shall see, it does not contain much backing from
 the game. 


---------------------
THE HINTS [UR3]
---------------------


 NOTE: This next bit was written (almost) entirely by Squall_Of_SeeD, based
       primarily on the framework created mainly by myself (Sir B), with hints 
       and such having been compiled from a multitude of sources over time. 

       Also note that sorceresses will be referred to as "witches" in this next
       bit, seeing as that is that they were called in the Japanese version.


----------------------------
 Witches and Immortality [UR4]
----------------------------

At its core, the theory works off the assumption that witches have immortality.
Often-cited evidence of this is that Edea's facial features are far more
youthful than should typically be expected for a woman married to a man
confirmed to be in his forties by the Final Fanasy VIII Ultimania guide (pg.
32).

Another bit of evidence offered in this regard is that Ultimecia needed to go
further into the past to cast Time Compression than the generation the game
takes place in. When she finally is sent far enough back, it is into Adel's
younger self that her consciousness arrives.

The assumption here is that Ultimecia must have needed to go much further back
in time, and that Adel, consequently, has lived longer than a  normal lifespan.

*Response*: 

To begin with, Edea's face certainly looks more developed and mature than those
of Ellone, Selphie, Quistis or Rinoa. She has the appearance of a woman in her
thirties, at least to this author.

For that matter, even if she didn't, there's little reason to assume she
couldn't have married an older man.

As for Adel, considering how little we know of the mechanics of Time
Compression, it's hardly a safe forest to venture into when looking for
support for this idea. We don't know the limits of Junction Machine Ellone's
power to send Ultimecia into the past. It may have been one year shorter than
where she needed to be or 100 years too short.
----


-------------------------------
 Witches and Dying in Peace [UR5]
-------------------------------

Near the ending of the game, just before Ultimecia's death, Edea makes this
very important statement: "In order to die in peace, a sorceress must be free
of all her powers." What, then, does she mean? Does she mean that dying
without first giving up one's powers would mean a bad afterlife existence for
a witch? Or does she mean that a witch must simply be free of her powers to
die?

This could, perhaps, be taken to mean "Remaining alive, but not properly,
forever caught in the dying moment until the witch is free of her powers." If
this is so, then it may well be that witches are immortal after all if they
can't even die until they are free of their powers.

In fact, the Japanese line that Edea speaks here says simply, "A witch cannot
die while still holding onto the witches' power." It may be that in the case of
witches who do die, they're either giving up their powers so as to be free of
the pain of death, or their body is simply forcing them to surrender their
powers.

*Response*: 

A strong point that may support the theory, but on its own doesn't do so, if
only because SeeD fights and defeats 13 witches during the game -- all of whom
die either immediately after being dealt a fatal blow or shortly thereafter. If
such a concept of remaining alive as long as was desired were present, it seems
more reasonable to assume that the story would have made a point of
demonstrating it.

In fact, the story does the opposite, as the whole idea of a "succession of
witches," so important in the game, directly implies that sorceresses cannot
stick around for as long as they want.

----
NOTE (by SoS): The three authors of this FAQ don't have a consensus on the
nature of the witches fought by SeeD during Time Compression. This author
believes them to have been real women who inherited the witch embodiment,
whereas TheOnionKnight and Sir Bahamut feel that they're manifestations of
various properties of the Time Compression phenomena.

More on their take on these witches can be read in the "The Nature of Time"
article above, in a section entitled "The Time Compression Sorceresses."

In either case, Adel seems to die instantly when fatally injured during the
battle with her -- though this is arguably influenced by Ultimecia -- and
Ultimecia dies not long after she's defeated by SeeD, even while her final
words appear to be defiance of her fate. As well, in Dissidia Final Fantasy,
Squall slices his gunblade through Ultimecia's head, killing her instantly.
----
----


----------------------
Witches and Hyne [UR6]
----------------------

Hyne is said to have been the progenitor of the witch embodiment power. The
story of Hyne also goes that he created homo sapiens, then took a nap while
they worked. When he awoke, he found that they had multiplied beyond his
capacity to control them.

In order for them to have multiplied so, it must be that his nap lasted a few
hundred to several thousand years. This must mean that Hyne is immortal.
Considering that the witch embodiment originates from him, it may well be that
the witches inherited increased longevity, or full immortality.

*Response*: 

As will be seen at the end of this section, witches don't have extended
lifespans. They live lifetimes comparable to that of ordinary people.
----


----------------------------
Witches and Appearances [UR7]
----------------------------

While it may be argued that Ultimecia's grey hair -- something that normally
wouldn't happen except in the case of aging -- is indicative of her lacking
immortality, it should be kept in mind that, when possessing Edea, Ultimecia
changed the length of her host body's hair from several feet to a few inches
in seconds. For that matter, many witches display physical abnormalities,
whether they be the veins on Edea's face and her elongated fingers, Adel's
size, muscular appearance and discoloured skin, or the larger-than-normal
bodies of the eleven witches encountered by SeeD as they made their way to the
future.

Another point often brought up to contest this aspect of the theory is that
Adel seeking a successor suggests that witches do have a limited lifespan, but
it should be remembered that Adel was at war with the world. Even her own
subjects hated her.

It may simply be that she feared being assassinated without having a chosen
successor already selected. She wouldn't want to endure the pain of her death
constantly until she could find one.

*Response*:

These were once strong points, difficult to find fault with. On their own, they
don't prove the immortality of witches, but coupled with another strong
suggestion that the concept is plausible, they would certainly support the
notion.

That said, it should be kept in mind that witches have a natural instinct to
want to choose a successor that they feel is fitting for their power. As the
game's tutorial says, they avoid spreading their powers too thin:

"Sorceress

The legend goes that the Great Hyne created people. The sorceresses were 
given a fragment of Hyne's own power. It's hard to determine how many 
sorceresses exist today, for many keep their powers concealed. However, it is 
believed that they avoid spreading their power too thin."

Plus, as mentioned above, witches have the lifespans of ordinary humans. This
will be confirmed at the end of this section.
----


-----------------------
Witches and Wings [UR8]
-----------------------

In the opening FMV, Rinoa is shown at one point emerging from a group of white
feathers, the same colour as the feathers on her wings. She's later shown
emerging from a group of black feathers, the same colour as the feathers of
Ultimecia's wings.

Ultimecia is the only witch aside from Rinoa to have wings. This may be an
indication of who Rinoa will become, her soul tainted and dark after the loss
of her knight. She is then no longer an "angel," but a "fallen angel" instead,
this represented through her black wings.

*Response*: 

Wings and feathers are a motif of all the main witches in the game. Edea's
dress has black feathers around the collar, Adel has two spiky wing-like
protrusions extending from her back, Rinoa has her white feathery wings, and
Ultimecia has her own black feathered wings.

With this in mind, all that's represented here definitively is a connection
between witches, not a connection between Rinoa and Ultimecia alone. Certainly
there is a symbolic connection between the two women, though, in that they
alone have feathery wings -- one pair black and one pair white.

Rather than necessarily representing a transition of good to evil, however,
it's as likely to be representing opposed good and evil -- opposed uses of the
witch embodiment's power.
----


-----------------------------------
Ultimecia and Rinoa's Faces [UR9]
-----------------------------------

During the game's ending FMV, Ultimecia's face flashes over Rinoa's three
times in a very striking manner -- and she also bears quite a resemblance to
Rinoa:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Rinoa2.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Ultimecia_FMV.jpg

While Edea, Zell and Seifer's faces also flash over Rinoa's during that
cutscene (Edea's doing so first and a total of five times even, whereas
Ultimecia's does so only three times), there's a somewhat greater emphasis on
those moments when Ultimecia's face does so. The images of Ultimecia's face are
solid and the only images on-screen at the time, whereas Edea, Zell and
Seifer's faces appear in something of a "hole" in the screen and share 
screentime with other imagery.

The faces of these other characters flash by in a rather insignificant manner,
whereas Ultimecia's three appearances in that FMV are of her face being ever
closer to the camera with each shot, until she is staring toward the camera
intensely in the midst of Rinoa's image also looking toward the camera -- the
sequence culminating in Rinoa's helmet in space bursting open.

While it may be viewed as an insignificant string of imagery, it may well have
represented Rinoa's "death" and "rebirth" as Ultimecia, the shattering of the
helment symbolizing that she would cease to be who she was and become the witch
that SeeD must fight.

Though differences in Rinoa and Ultimecia's bodies may be cited as evidence
that they don't look alike (their shoulder width and breast sizes, for
example), again, Ultimecia was able to change the length of Edea's hair within
seconds. As well, Adel and the witches encountered in Time Compression all
bear physical appearances that are quite different from the bodies of normal
women.

The power granted by the witch embodiment can apparently deform a witch's 
body over time, and may even allow a witch to simply alter her appearance at
will.

*Response*: 

An intriguing interpretation of the ending FMV's imagery, and one that could
serve as compelling evidence if coupled with other strong support for the
theory. On its own, however, it's not enough to form a case.

As things stand, it seems to require already assuming that Rinoa is Ultimecia
in order to conclude that the scene was intended to infer something of that
nature.

As for a resemblance between Ultimecia and Rinoa, one can compare the faces of
Selphie, Ellone and Edea with Rinoa's, and all will bear strong resemblances to
her as well:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Rinoa2.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/SorceressEdea2.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Selphie.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Ellone.jpg

All had the same character designer, Tetsuya Nomura -- to whom the charge has
often been leveled that he designs similar looking female characters -- and --
by today's standards -- Final Fantasy VIII had comparatively primitive FMV
graphics. Under these conditions, there are almost certainly going to be
resemblances in all these women's facial features in the FMVs:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Rinoa2.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/SorceressEdea2.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Selphie.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Ellone.jpg

For that matter, Dissidia Final Fantasy has a moment where noting a similarity
in appearance between the two women -- if, indeed, they were the same woman --
would be not only appropriate, but altogether logical. Yet it doesn't happen.
For more on that, read the part of this section addressing Dissidia below.
----


---------------
Griever [UR10]
---------------

Squall carries a ring with a lion engraved upon it, the ring's name being
"Griever." This is also the name of the GF that Ultimecia summons during the
final battle of the game, and which she junctions herself to for much of the
battle.

Earlier in the story, Squall gives this ring to Rinoa. Perhaps Griever was
contained within the ring the same as Doomtrain was contained within the
Solomon Ring, or perhaps it was even a creature that Rinoa herself created in
honour of Squall.

*Response*: 

There may have been a "real" Griever that existed in stories that Squall had
known of -- just as he had known of Bahamut as a legendary "great GF" prior
to the battle with the dragon, in which Squall refers to him as such -- but
the only suggestion offered in-game as to Griver's origin is that Ultimecia
created him from images in Squall's mind to fight him.

When using the Scan spell on Griever, we're told that, in Squall's mind, he's
the strongest GF:

"Griever
In Squall's mind, the strongest GF. Through Ultimecia's power, continues
fighting without vanishing."

Ultimecia's powers apparently allowed her to reach into other's minds, pull
out certain images, and then give them physical form. This ability to reach
into another's mind may also be displayed whenever she removes a character's
complete stock of a particular spell during the battle with her.

In the case of Griever, she simply manifested the thoughts she pulled from
Squall's mind regarding what he believed to be the most powerful being in
existence. The more extensive text from the Japanese version of the game
featured Ultimecia saying this as she summoned the creature:

(Translation by me)
"Your thoughts, I shall summon the most powerful of things [from them]. The
more strongly you feel these thoughts, [the greater] shall be that which
torments you. Fufu."

[Translation note: "Fu" is often used as a sound for villainous laughter
in Japanese fiction. We're keeping "Fufu" in for nostalgia's sake. It's
sort of an in-joke for the three of us. Just pretend it's "Haha" if it
bothers you.]

This would obviously be a very cunning move on Ultimecia's part for a
number of reasons. Not only because she's summoning a powerful opponent for
her enemies to fight, but also one which Squall may not have initially believed
it was possible to defeat.

This idea that Griever was created from Squall's thoughts is also confirmed by
the Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario guide (pg. 247):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Griever-1.jpg

"Legendary lion praised as the king of beasts

The animal called a lion doesn't exist in this world beyond the imagination.
This aloof figure is attractive to Squall, featured on his Gunblade and
accessories, and firmly locked in the foundation of his mind.

[Caption of a screenshot featuring Griever being summoned]
The witch Ultimecia materializes Griever as a GF, pulled from an image in
Squall's mind, and utilizes him in battle."

Given all this, Griever is certainly not a link between Rinoa and Ultimecia.
----


---------------------------------------------
The Possible Origin Of Ultimecia's Name [UR11]
---------------------------------------------

There was an ancient Grecian King by the name of "Mausolus," whose queen --
also his sister -- was named "Artemisia." When he died, his grieving sister
is believed to have went somewhat insane and decided to erect the greatest tomb
in history to honour him. She would even mix some of his ashes in her drink
every day.

Among the most devoted wives history has known, Artemisia spent the last two
years of her life overseeing the construction of the monument to her beloved.
Seeing to it that the most skilled artisans that she could find took part in
its construction, she had it adorned with statues of men and horses carved
from marble. From Mausolus' name and this magnificent tomb, the latin word
"mausoleum" (original Greek: mausoleion) was coined. Initially meaning
"[building] dedicated to Mausolus," it's now applied to any grand burial place.

Also notable is that at some point after Mausolus' death, invaders attempted to
take his kingdom, but his queen used her cunning to organize the means by
which to defeat all her kingdom's foes, despite being greatly outnumbered.

The relevance of all this to the R=U theory is that "Ultimecia" is a valid
English transliteration of the katakana used when writing "Artemisia" in
Japanese. "A" and "u" are used interchangeably in Japanese, as are "l" and "r."
The Ultima spell and name have even been mistranslated as "Atma" and "Altima"
in the past as aresult.

Further, "e" and "i" are sometimes substituted for one another when
transliterating names from Japanese to English. Finally, the "c" in "Ultimecia"
may have arisen from the "s" sound in "Artemisia." At any rate, the "shi"
katakana was used there in the Japanese katakana composing Ultimecia's name:
A-ru-ti-mi-shi-a.

As with the Maosoleum of Mausolus, many statues adorn Ultimecia's castle. Also,
though the original tomb was destroyed long ago, the path leading down to the
doors of Ultimecia's Master Room is strikingly similar to some artists'
recreation of the path leading to the doors of the Mausoleum of Mausolus,
being narrow and flanked with statues on either side as it is.

As well, the pyramid-like roof of Ultimecia's Master Room is also a similarity
to the tomb Artemisia built, as its roof has always been believed to have been
of similar shape.

Also relevant is that Ultimecia fought and killed many attacking SeeDs, the
bodies of whom lay strewn across the beach behind Edea's house. This may 
well parallel the historical Artemisia's defeat of the forces that outnumbered
her kingdom.

Rinoa may well have become Artemisia, the grieving but devoted wife that sought
to build a magnificent monument to her fallen beloved while she went insane.
The castle, after all, is beautiful on its own, but is also filled with
beautiful things.

Also recall that Mausolus and Artemisia were brother and sister. Rinoa and
Squall were as close to being brother and sister as would be possible without
that actually being the case. Squall's father, Laguna, and Rinoa's mother,
Julia, once had a romantic interest in one another, but various circumstances
prevented a relationship from ever developing.

Finally, note that Ultimecia's name has been translated as "Artimesia" for some
translations of Final Fantasy VIII, including the German and Italian releases.

*Response*: 

Perhaps the strongest piece of support for an R=U theory, it's certainly easy
to see why and how a connection could be drawn here. The parallels *are*
rather striking.

That said, just as likely an origin for the name is that of Artimesia
Gentileschi, a 17th-century Italian painter who underwent a number of
difficulties in her lifetime. A mainstream film about her was released in 1997,
around the same time that Final Fantasy VIII was in early production.

It was also only about 16 years earlier that transcripts of testimony given in
a rape case involving Artemisia were fully published -- at first in Italian,
later in other languages. Though I'm uncertain of when they may have become
available in Japanese, the English publication came in 1989.

In any case, given the extreme prevalance of European art, architecture and
scenery in Final Fantasy VIII, it's not at all surprising that the name of a
female European painter who was receiving quite a bit of attention at the
time -- herself a victim of unjust cruelties, and in whose artwork feminine
strength and defiance against stronger oppressors is apparent -- could be given
to a female character who has also been the victim of unjust cruelties, and in
whose actions feminine strength and defiance against oppression is apparent.

With this woman as a possible source for the name, the gallery of paintings in
Ultimecia's castle could certainly take on new significance.

Sticking with possible European origins for the name, alternately, it's
possible that Ultimecia was named for the Greek goddess Artemis, goddess of the
moon -- the moon being a significant motif for Final Fantasy VIII. 

Whatever the case, however, the intended romanization of the name was
certainly always "Ultimecia," as it appears in the English version. The
official Japanese Dissidia Final Fantasy website labels her with this
spelling.

As such, the name may well be a play on the word "ultimate," as with the spell
Ultima. Ultimecia had set out to absorb the powers of all other sorceresses,
after all, and use this power along with Time Compression to become a God-like
being. She was certainly -- even if only for a short period of time -- the
"ultimate witch."

In that regard, her name may allude to a concept of "all in one" or
"altogether comprehensive" where the powers of the witches throughout time are
concerned. This sort of naming is reminiscent of the Ultimania guides published
by Square Enix -- of which the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania was the first.
These guidebooks -- named with a portmanteau of "ultimate" and "mania" -- tend
to be more or less comprehensive tomes on their respective games.  In addition,
the name Ultimecia bears a certain resemblance to the word "paramecia." A 
paramecia is a unicellular protozoa, and this idea of "unicellularity" would
strengthen the "all in one" concept, especially in light of Time Compression, 
where Ultimecia is intended to become the singular focal point of compressed 
space/time.

The latter possibility seems most likely to this author, though it's also
possible, of course, that Ultimecia's name, characterization and castle are
inspired by more than one of these ideas.

With all that said, were other information available to support the notion of
Rinoa being Ultimecia, the name "Artemisia" and the story of the Greek queen it
belonged to would be an invaluable piece of symbolism to use as evidence in
favor of the R=U theory.

However, as things stand, it falls far short.
----


-------------------------
 "Becoming Warped" [UR12]
-------------------------

The Japanese instruction booklet for Final Fantasy VIII actually states that
Rinoa will end up becoming warped:

(Translation by Elizabeth M. Hollinger; source:
http://74.52.10.22/psx_guides/ff8manl.html)

"A beautiful and enigmatic woman, kind-hearted and driven to succeed.

A cheerful girl whose 'mood maker' liveliness and gentleness touches people
without discrimination. She's honest about her feelings and readily speaks
what she thinks. However, in time she ends up becoming warped..."

With this in mind, it's most certainly making reference to Rinoa becoming
Ultimecia.

*Response*: 

Not necessarily. Japanese is a language built more off of context
than off of the direct meaning of words. As a result, English translations of
Japanese -- especially when they are direct translations -- often fail to
convey context.

The term used in the instruction booklet at that point was "amanojaku," the
original, literal meaning of which is "devil beneath temple guardian deities."
It's also used to refer to a perverse or wicked person, though sometimes in
the context that someone's acting against their true nature.

It may well be in this context that it's referring to Rinoa becoming something
she wouldn't want to be and which she views as negative. So, another way of
looking at that line would be, "However, in time she ends up changing in a way
that she would view as negative."

While becoming Ultimecia would, no doubt, fit this description, as it's
not something explicitly shown within the game -- and as this is the
instruction manual *introducing* people to the game -- it makes more sense in
context that it's referring to something players will see when they play.

Is there anything in the game which fits this description then? Well, of
course: Rinoa becomes a sorceress! Quite against her will at that, and she is
then used by Ultimecia to do things that are against her nature.

Afterward, she fears her own powers and fears a future in which she will turn
evil, like Adel or Ultimecia.

This is a far more simple reading of these lines, one more comprehensive in
light of all other details, and one which fits the context of an instruction
manual introducing the game to players.


---
NOTE: Rudy Jacinto pointed out that you can also read it in the 'acting against
her true nature' way by observing Rinoa's lack of resolve once the part decide
to defeat Edea knowing it's their Matron. Her ultimately accepting the use of
violence as an ends to a mean could be seen as acting against her more innocent
nature.
----


------------------------------------------------------------------
Rinoa allowing Squall to kill her (this point added by Sir B) [UR13]
------------------------------------------------------------------

At one point in the game, Rinoa says the following:

Rinoa: "If I fall under Ultimecia's control again... SeeD will come kill
me, right? And the leader of SeeD is you, Squall... Squall's sword will
pierce my heart...... I guess it's ok if it's you, Squall. Nobody else.
Squall, if that ever happens..."

Ultimecia is killed by Squall, so if Rinoa were Ultimecia, this would be a
clear foreshadowing.

*Response*:

Exactly: IF Rinoa were Ultimecia, this would be foreshadowing. But this is
circular logic. If reading the line by itself without any notions of R=U 
already in your head, it would be a very bold leap indeed to draw from it that
Rinoa must become Ultimecia. It is only when already assuming R=U that this
line stands out, but this sort of backwards reasoning is completely
unacceptable. Furthermore, note what Squall says directly afterwards:

Squall: "That's enough! I'll never do anything like that. The sorceress
I'm after is not you, Rinoa. My enemy is the sorceress from the future...
Ultimecia."

"I'll never do anything like that."

The game is all about Squall and Rinoa's love growing to the point where it 
conquers everything, so it would be quite strange indeed if Squall ends up
killing her after all. Perhaps dramatic irony from Square, but this line
doesn't constitute a strong enough statement to be foreshadowing R=U. You
might try to argue that this line implies that it is thematically necessary
for Squall to end up killing Rinoa, but that would be to artificially insert
an extremely dark interpretation of the game which isn't actually there
to begin with. The game ends as happily as could possibly be, and nothing
suggests that we should assume the most tragic outcome is thematically
necessary.
----


----
NOTE (by SoS): The following final three "hints" are all related to versions
of the R=U theory in which Ultimecia was initially motivated by a desire to
see Squall again, but lost her memory of this fact due to insanity or GF
usage.
----


-----------------------
Time Compression [UR14]
-----------------------

Recall that onboard the Ragnarok, Rinoa expressed a desire for time to stand
still so that she could remain with Squall:

Rinoa
"I don't want the future. I want the present to stand still. I just want to 
stay here with you..."

Now, recall that Ultimecia intended to use Time Compression, a spell that
would cause all time to exist in a single instance. While this is not
necessarily the same thing as "making time stand still," Rinoa's words on the
Ragnarok *do* express a desire to control time.

It may well be that Rinoa wanted to meet Squall again and be with him in a
moment of peace forever. Having gone insane, though, she may well have
forgotten her desire to use Time Compression to meet Squall, and then decided
to use the spell for other purposes. Insane people do insane things.

*Response*: 

As with so much of this theory, this requires starting out with a conclusion
and working our way backward. Aside from the obvious fact that Ultimecia could
have met Squall again -- if that's what she so desired -- by simply using
Junction Machine Ellone and going to the past, there's also the even more
obvious fact that Ultimecia's goals as expressed by the game and hinted toward
by the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania had nothing to do with Squall.

For that matter, it's never implied that Ultimecia was insane. She always knew
full well what she was doing and to what end -- as do we. Her goal was to avoid
her fated death at Squall's hands, and to then become one with all that existed
in the universe -- a singular existence in which she would essentially become
God.

For more on this matter, read this FAQ's "The Unjust Persecution" article by
TheOnionKnight. There, Ultimecia's true motives -- or, at least those heavily
supported by the game and its Ultimania -- are discussed at length.

While on the subject of Time Compression, while traveling through it to the
future, SeeD battles and kills several witches -- presumably the ones who
inherited Rinoa's powers down the line, and ultimately passed it to
Ultimecia. After all, Odine says that she and Adel were the only two witches
still alive in the present era -- so once Rinoa became the only one, the
powers that Ultimecia eventually received would need to have been passed down
from Rinoa.

Furthermore, when using Scan on the witches, this information is given in the
English version: "Sorceress from beyond time who appeared due to Time
Compression."

The Japanese version of this line offers even more information: "Generation
after generation of witches who appeared from beyond space and time as a result
of Time Compression."

As well, the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania (pg. 243) has this to say about the
first group of witches who appear in Time Compression: "Successive generations
of witches from beyond space and time." It also says this concerning the
second group (pg. 244): "One form of the successive generations of witches who
appear in the Time Compressed World."

Finally, on pg. 269 of the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario 
guide, not only are the witches again referred to as "rekidai no 
majo"/"successive generations of witches" in a line that reads "After the
successive generations of witches, the final battle with Ultimecia awaits"
-- but, then, in a caption of a screenshot of Squall's party battling the
witches, it says this:

"Soko ha arayuru kuukan wo kaneru basho tonari, arayuru jidai no majo tachi ga
osoi kakatte kuru."

That translates to: "In the place where all space combines, the witches of all
eras attack."

arayuru = "all" or "every"
jidai = "era" or "epoch"
no = "of"
majo = "witches"

Here is a scan of the page, with the relevant lines underlined in red:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/tcwitches-1.jpg

The use of the terms "generation after generation" ("daidai" in Japanese) --
again, in the Scan info of the original -- and "successive generations"
("rekidai") -- twice in the FFVIII Ultimania and again in the FF 20th
Anniversary Ultimania -- would suggest that these witches are people who
inherit the powers of the witch embodiment at some point in the future. 
"Daidai" in particular was used to refer to the generations of genuine
witches pre-dating the events of FFVIII by the Japanese version's in-game
Tutorial under the heading that appeared as "Sorceress Power & Embodiment"
for the official English version.

The line, as it was written there, said, "Since distant, ancient times,
the witch powers have been succeeded through generation after generation
by those who become their vessels."

[Note on translations: the Kanji for "vessel" or "container" (utsuwa) is
what became "embodiment" for the official English translation of the
game.]

While it isn't explicitly stated within the game or Ultimania that the
TC witches are Rinoa's successors rather than her predecessors from some
point in the past, as one might argue is implied to be a possibility by
"arayuru jidai no majo"/ "the witches of all eras," Odine does tell the
party in the briefing before they go to Lunatic Pandora that they will be
traveling *toward* the future to reach Ultimecia's time.

It's most simple to just take him at his word -- as well as the Ultimanias at
theirs; they refer to the TC witches as the *successive* generations, after
all -- and assume that these are other witches from all eras *of the future*
and in poession of the witch embodiment after Rinoa and before Ultimecia.

At any rate, I believe the authorial intent regarding these witches is quite
clear between the original game's Scan info, the FFVIII Ultimania's
descriptions of the witches, and the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania's
descriptions.

----
NOTE (by SoS): As noted under "Witches and Dying in Peace" above, the three
authors of this FAQ aren't in agreement on the nature of the witches fought by
Squall and company as they traveled to the future. While I believe them to have
been real women who inherited Rinoa's powers down the line, TheOnionKnight and
Sir Bahamut feel that they're manifestations of various properties of the
Time Compression phenomena.

More on their take on these witches can be read in the "The Nature of Time"
article above, in a section entitled "The Time Compression Sorceresses."

Even if not real women, however, it's not the most critical point in my
response to this part of the R=U theory -- Ultimecia still wasn't using Time
Compression to see Squall again in either FFVIII or Dissidia Final Fantasy,
and she certainly didn't present herself as insane either time.
----
----


----------------------------------------
The Location of Ultimecia's Castle [UR15]
----------------------------------------

Ultimecia's castle was anchored above the sea at Edea's orphanage -- not far
from the flower where Rinoa and Squall had promised to meet. Consequently, the
castle would have actually been facing the flower field.

Of all the places in the world where Ultimecia could have placed her castle,
why here?

*Response*: 

The game implies a very simple explanation for Ultimecia's castle being where
it is without any reason to believe that she was waiting for Squall. Ultimecia
hated SeeDs, and she had slaughtered the remaining SeeDs of her era shortly
before casting the Time Compression spell.

Their bodies lay scattered across the beach behind Edea's house:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/DeadSeeDs.jpg

They don't appear to have been dead for long, so it's not as though Ultimecia
built the castle, killed the SeeDs and then parked it there many years before
with the intention of it remaining there forever. Also, the castle *floats*.

Why build a floating castle to begin with if you're going to park it in one
spot?

The dead bodies of those SeeDs are a testament to Ultimecia's reason for
anchoring the castle there. It makes much more sense -- especially in light
of Ultimecia's hatred of the SeeDs and the obvious short amount of time that
those SeeDs had been dead -- to conclude that Ultimecia anchored the castle
there and slaughtered the remaining SeeDs to settle a grudge before casting
Time Compression.

Granted, it's possible that she placed her castle there from the start and that
the SeeDs launched an assault against her shortly before she cast Time
Compression, but this doesn't seem as likely as the notion that SeeDs were
still using Edea's orphanage as a base years into the future. As well, we'd
still be left with the question of why a floating castle is kept in one spot.

Thematically speaking, the castle being located above where the SeeDs had been
brought together and raised for a time also allows for another point of
emphasis on FFVIII's theme of fate.

The song from the game's opening is "Liberi Fatali," meaning "fated children."
As with the orphanage being Squall and the others' point of focus when passing
through the Time Compression wave to arrive in Ultimecia's era, this is
likely another piece of the mosasic that emphasized how everything had been
ordained from the start. All significant events occurred at or near the
orphanage.

As was the case with the overall concept of Ultimecia seeking to use Time
Compression to meet Squall, this is only support for R=U if one had already
accepted the concept and was using backward reasoning.
----


-----------------------------------------------
Ultimecia's Words During The Final Battle [UR16]
-----------------------------------------------

During the final battle with Ultimecia, her words may illustrate that she
believes that the things one cares about will slip away from them inevitably,
as Squall and Rinoa's other friends would have were she immortal:

"Reflect on your..."
"Childhood..."
"Your sensation..."
"Your words..."
"Your emotions..."
"Time..."
"It will not wait..."
"No matter..."
"...how hard you hold on."
"It escapes you..."

This may have been an attempt on Rinoa's part to reach out to Squall. She had
wanted to meet him again, but her insanity

*Response*: 

Considering that Ultimecia makes no *other* attempt to "reach out to Squall"
during the game -- merely trying to kill him each time she encounters him
instead -- it's hardly plausible that she's suddenly doing that at this point.
For that matter, she's speaking to the inevitability of time -- that
eventually, all that's important to you will fade away.

While this nihilistic viewpoint certainly indicates some past trauma and loss,
it doesn't necessarily indicate an older Rinoa lamenting the loss of the
people she loved in younger life. For an alternate view of Ultimecia's past
that would lead to her holding this perspective -- one that takes thorough
stock of all in-game evidence and Ultimecia's own words -- see TheOnionKnight's
"The Unjust Persecution" article in this FAQ.

For that matter, the idea that Ultimecia was ever trying to reach out to Squall
emotionally or ever wanted to be with him in a romantic fashion is well
contradicted by Dissidia Final Fantasy. Even when given another opportunity
to be around him post-FFVIII, she exhibits nothing of affection for him.

For more on that, read the part of this section addressing Dissidia below.
----


-------------------------------
DISSIDIA [UR17]
-------------------------------

----
NOTE (by SoS): This new entry in this section of the FAQ was added in response
to the publication of Dissidia Final Fantasy. As such, it was written years
after all the other parts were initially written -- though all have now
received revision with this most recent update to this section.
----

It's been more than four years since I last made a contribution to this FAQ.
Having returned to the e-company of my co-authors, I was inspired to write
this new section to address what bearing, if any, Dissidia Final Fantasy has
on the possibility of R=U.

Not surprisingly -- to this author anyway -- Dissidia offers little that
could be construed as an endorsement of the idea. Truth be told, if
anything, it just pushes the idea further from the realm of plausible, and may
have even begun to set it outside what's possible.

Most striking and most obvious, Ultimecia as presented in Dissidia is not
insane. If anything, she's too sane. She's calculating, reasoned and completely
aware of the consequences of all that she's doing.

While the R=U theory never *really* required Ultimecia be insane in order to
work, it was a tenet of the theory for most of its incarnations. Dissidia
soundly puts such an idea to rest.

As well, the notion that Ultimecia bears a great resemblance to Rinoa is
swatted aside, albeity indirectly. Near the end of the story, during the
Shade Impulse segment, a conversation between Squall and Onion Knight reveals
that Squall has recovered his memory of his promise to meet Rinoa in the
flower field by Edea's house when they're separated.

Shortly thereafter, Squall references this promise as he begins his final
battle with Ultimecia. If he had just recovered his memory of Rinoa waiting
for him not long before this, then it's especially hard to swallow that he
wouldn't at least mention that his enemy looks like her.

If this woman looked similar to the one he's in love with, and he has to fight
and kill this one to get back to the other, then it's *very* odd that he
goes through no cognizant or emotional reaction to this.

Furthermore, when Squall asks Ultimecia of her goal in this same scene, she
simply references the goal she'd had in Final Fantasy VIII -- the desire to
compress time and rule the universe as a god:

Squall: "What exactly is it that you want?"
Ultimecia: [Hm.] "A world of compressed time-- where you shall worship me, the
eternal and solitary being!"
Squall: "Get over yourself."

[Squall's gunblade appears in his hand]
Ultimecia: "Why do you interfere? You are the same as I, trying to create an
ideal world."
Squall: "Maybe so. But I also have a promise to keep."
Ultimecia: "Even that will dissolve when I compress the world and make it
mine. Poor child. It is such a misfortune that you had to be born in my world."
Squall: "Then I suppose your misfortune was in being my enemy."

Even in Dissidia, there is no indication of Ultimecia ever having intended to
compress time in order to be with Squall again. She simply wants to use Time
Compression as a tool to gain the power she desires over all life.

It's also quite telling that -- even resurrected from death and allowed the
opportunity to spend more time around him -- Ultimecia never seems to
experience the slightest memory return to her related to being Squall's
girlfriend or wife in the past. This, despite Squall bringing up his promise to
reunite with Rinoa while talking to Ultimecia. She, in fact, makes light of the
promise and declares that it too will be erased.

There's simply nothing in Ultimecia's characterization in Dissidia to suggest
the R=U theory.

Now, all that said, there may arguably be allusions to the fandom's
Rinoa=Ultimecia theory within the game -- most notably, that three weapons
exclusive to Ultimecia in Dissidia are named after weapons that belonged to
Rinoa in FFVIII: Valkyrie, Cardinal and Shooting Star.

Despite this potential tongue-in-cheek reference, it's not a significant
matter when one considers that there really wasn't another similar
character whose weaponry the developers could have drawn on for this game.
Rinoa was the only other sorceress around with a variety of weapon names.

For that matter, it's not as though this situation creates a unique connection.
Tidus uses *four* weapons named after weapons that Wakka used in FFX; Kuja can
use the Whale Whisker, which was Dagger's most powerful weapon; several
characters can use weapons that had belonged to other characters in previous
games.

Just as Rinoa was the only other sorceress for weapon names to be drawn from
for Ultimecia, Wakka was the only other blitzball player who had weapon names
to be drawn from for Tidus. Connection enough exists right there.

The only other potential nod to the R=U theory comes at the beginning of
Squall's battle with Ultimecia during Destiny Odyssey VIII. There, Ultimecia
says "Shall we dance?" before they fight. Whether the character herself
intended this as a reference to Rinoa asking Squall to dance in the original
game ("Dance with me?") is impossible to determine, but given that there are no
other possible allusions in Dissidia to Ultimecia or Squall believing the two
women to be the same, it's really a dead end.

She's most likely just using "dance" as a synonym for "fight," as is often the
case in various media.

In summary, we're left with much the same situation as several years ago when
assessing the status of the theory: possible, but even less plausible than
before -- if not moving into the realm of being beyond possible. Several common
pillars of the theory are contradicted by Dissidia, and we're left to look
elsewhere for Ultimecia's origin and motivations.

And for that, as always, I recommend reading TheOnionKnight's excellent "The
Unjust Persecution" article in this very FAQ.
----


-------------------------------
VARIOUS FLAWS [UR18]
-------------------------------

Having addressed all the "hints" that are cited as evidence for the theory, I
would now like to address a few flaws in the concept itself, though Sir B had
done so prior.

First and foremost, Ultimecia attempted to kill Rinoa several times. The first
time was when she sent the Iguions to kill her. She later tries again in
Galbadia Garden if Rinoa is in the party. Later still, she uses Rinoa to
disable the locks on Adel's tomb, so as to free the elder witch.

Immediately after, she ditches Rinoa in space, leaving her to die.

If Rinoa were her past self, we can reasonably assume she would be aware of it
to some extent, even if insane, as she would be witnessing her own past and
the events that led up to driving her into insanity. Granted, if one is
operating with the assumption that Rinoa would have forgotten her past
completely due to the use of GFs across several centuries, that would present
more reasonable grounds for her not being aware of it -- though that in
itself is backwards reasoning, and we see during the game that being reminded
of one's forgotten past can bring those memories back to the surface. Squall
and the other main characters recover their childhood memories when Irvine
reminds them.

Also, as noted in a response to one of the hints above, SeeD is said to be
traveling toward the future to confront Ultimecia in her time. Along the way,
they fight and kill several witches.

If -- as appears to be the case to me based on the witches' Scan data and
Ultimania comments -- there are witches who exist along the timeline between
Rinoa and Ultimecia, this would hardly be an indication that they're supposed
to be the same woman. It would be, in fact, a massive blow to the idea.

With Odine identifying Rinoa and Adel as the only witches of the present era
prior to Adel's death, other witches in the future could only receive their
powers from Rinoa.

I would also now like to stress the point that if losing Squall was the main
reason for Rinoa going insane and becoming Ultimecia, it stands to reason that
we would have seen some measure of recognition toward him on Ultimecia's part.
Instead, she displays no recognition or affection toward him, merely tries to
kill him, and tends to address SeeD as a whole.

In fact, Ultimecia does not do or say anything which indicates that she has any
sort of relationship with the main characters at all. She behaves completely
differently than Rinoa, to the point where they might as well be considered
different people anyway even if one assumes R=U.

Furthermore, even when given another opportunity to be around Squall
post-FFVIII during the events of Dissidia Final Fantasy, she still merely
tries to kill him.

NOTE (by Sir Bahamut): Furthermore, it must be noted that while the ending of 
the game is full of joy and happiness and hope, R=U would entirely negate 
this. Now, there is of course nothing wrong with such "poetic irony," but 
Square doesn't have a reputation of making happy endings like the FF8 one 
whilst really intending for everything to go to hell afterwards. The R=U 
conclusion goes against everything that game has built up to; the climactic 
kiss between Squall and Rinoa would be bitterly tragic instead of joyous. This
is not something Square are known for doing, and so one would expect a lot 
more foreshadowing and hinting towards this in the ending. As it is, there's 
nothing in the ending hinting at a dark future.
----


-------------------------------
A FAIR SHAKE [UR19]
-------------------------------

Having now addressed all those matters, I would like to offer the theory its
fair due and point out those often-cited points that are used to argue against
the theory, but which fail to actually contradict it. Afterward, I will offer
conclusive evidence on this matter that seals the case that Rinoa *cannot*
have been intended to be Ultimecia.

-------------------------------------
1) Rinoa Dying In The Final Battle
-------------------------------------

*Possible contradiction*: 

Since Rinoa can die and be absorbed into time in the final battle with 
Ultimecia, if she were Ultimecia's past self, that should erase Rinoa's 
future. In other words, it should erase Ultimecia's own state of being in the 
present.

*Why it isn't a contradiction*: 

While Rinoa can die in the final battle with Ultimecia and be absorbed into
time and Ultimecia not vanish, with the normal flow of time already skewed by 
Time Compression, Ultimecia was possibly outside the normal flow of time, and,
thus, protected. For that matter, she was likely already in possession of the 
witch embodiment of all those witches killed by Squall and the others when 
they entered Time Compression.

Perhaps by virtue of this and being the one who cast Time Compression in the
first place, she was granted immunity.

For that matter, to question this would require questioning why Squall,
Irvine, Zell, Selphie, Quistis and Rinoa hadn't already faded out of
existence due to their own pasts being swallowed up by Time Compression.

Basically, with the condition time and space were in during the final battle,
it is impossible to say anything conclusive about what should and should not
happen under those circumstances. 

---------------------------------------------------------
2) Rinoa leaving her proper place in the time stream
---------------------------------------------------------

*Possible contradiction*: 

Rinoa left the time stream at the moment that Adel died. She and SeeD 
traveled to the future. Ultimecia would have no longer had a past beyond 
the point of Adel's death if she were Rinoa. When SeeD got to the future, 
they would not have found Ultimecia there, for Rinoa would not have been able 
to become her, being that she left the time stream before she ever could
become the older witch.

Even with Rinoa returning to the exact second that she left the timeline, 
until she returned to the past again, there shouldn't be an Ultimecia for her 
to encounter in the future.
 
*Why it isn't a contradiction*: 

As with the previous point, there was no longer a normal flow of time due to
Time Compression. To argue that Ultimecia should have vanished because her
past self no longer remained along a timeline that itself no longer existed
even while the past self continued to exist would be completely illogical.

Especially in light of Squall and the others not vanishing, despite their own
pasts having been absorbed into time.
----


------------------------
CONCLUSION [UR20]
------------------------

Many points used to argue in favor of the theory either already require having
accepted it as fact -- in which case the conclusion would be used as support
for the evidence that's supposed to support the conclusion, a logical fallacy
known as "circular reasoning" that absolutely is never valid in a debate -- or
require making some leaps in assumption that have shaky support at best, are
defeated by Occam's Razor at times ("all things being equal, the most simple
explanation is the best"), or are outright contradicted by information in the
original story or other official materials.

In fact, the matter of witch immortality is altogether *impossible*, as it
is outright contradicted by the "WITCHES" entry in the Final Fantasy VIII
Ultimania guide, which states that witches have a normal lifespan:

(Translated by DarkAngel)
"SORCERESSES

Said to have existed from time immemorial to the present day, the sorceresses
are women who are said to have received their powers from the old god, Hyne.
There is, however, no hard evidence to support this claim. Extraordinarily
powerful, many sorceresses have harboured ambitions to rule over the world --
as a result, many people have come to equate the Sorceress with fear. However,
there are also many Sorceresses who have chosen to live a quiet life sheltered
away from civilized society; as such, the actual number of Sorceresses and the
amount of power shared between them remains unknown.

The potential to become a sorceress is determined by one's capacity to wield
such power -- their natural affinity for magic. This factor helps to determine
Sorceress candidates for when a Sorceress passes on all of her power into the
next Sorceress. The giving and receiving of power can be made between any two
individuals -- it not necessary for them to be related by blood. A Sorceress's
lifespan is the same as a normal human's, however they cannot die until they
have passed on their power to the next Sorceress."

---
NOTE: The Ultimania guides for Final Fantasy games are guidebooks published by 
Square Enix itself, with a ton of information directly from the creators. So
this translation tells us what the creators of the game have to say on the 
matter, and is obviously intended to reflect the intent with which the story
was written.

While one could certainly refuse to accept extra textual materials into their
own "personal canon" and appreciation of a story, if one is discussing the
actual canon -- the official story -- and authorial intent, they'll have to
accept this detail. Furthermore, as has been shown in the various addresses to
the "hints" above, the concept of R=U has little ground to stand on even
without this Ultimania information.
---

Since it is quite obvious that Ultimecia lives too far into the future for
any of the in-game characters to live to see her rise to power within a normal
human lifespan, it is clear that Rinoa cannot become Ultimecia even if she is
a witch. The game states that Ultimecia lives "many generations" ahead of the
present era, and even the most feeble interpretation of "many" would
not allow Rinoa to become Ultimecia.

While the Ultimania states that witches cannot die until they have passed on 
their powers, in all cases where we see witches fatally wounded, they either 
die immediately or shortly thereafter, suggesting that they either choose to 
die then and there so as to end their suffering, or that their bodies force 
them to give up their powers. The latter notion is supported by the fact that 
Ultimecia is still trying to defy her fate during the ending, even while her 
body is forcing her to give up her powers.

We know this because she states "I...can't...disappear yet," which is
certainly not a statement of defiance regarding dying *with* her powers, as
she couldn't anyway according to the Ultimania. This was a statement made in
defiance of dying at all, which she would if she gave up her powers.

Seeing as how she didn't want to die yet does, we can only conclude that
witches' bodies force them to give up their powers when the time of their
natural death has arrived -- in which case Rinoa couldn't have remained alive
by simply choosing to hold onto her powers despite having reached the end of
her natural lifespan. Rinoa *will* die before Ultimecia is born. Rinoa is
*not* immortal.

Rinoa is *not* Ultimecia.

While one might still yet argue that Rinoa could have been placed in the same
kind of seal that Adel was, and that this cryogenically preserved her far
into the future until she was released, such a notion is never suggested to
have occurred by any of the information we do have -- nor do we even know that
this process prevents aging.

In any case, trying to find a means around the declared authorial intent that
witches aren't immortal that would still allow for one to live for centuries
into the future despite no other indication that this does -- or even *can* --
take place seems to be somewhat defeating the point of arguing for authorial
intent.

Besides, there's already a perfectly valid and well-supported explanation of
Ultimecia's origin anyway, with said origin not being dependent on Rinoa in
any form whatsoever -- and based solely on in-game details. Refer to
TheOnionKnight's "The Unjust Persecution" article below.

The final word: The conclusion that is drawn by this document, its authors, and
which we believe to be supported by the in-game evidence, extra textual
materials, and principle of Occam's Razor is thus: Rinoa *is not* and
*cannot* be Ultimecia. The theory is altogether not plausible nor reasonably
possible.

------------------------
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
------------------------

I wish to acknowledge and offer my gratitude to Sir Bahamut, the original
author of the Time/Ultimecia FAQ on GameFAQs, and one of the most 
knowledgeable people on the subject of Final Fantasy VIII and time in the 
world. I've learned a great deal from you, sir, during our many debates and 
brainstorms, and firmly believe that our friendship has been invaluable to both
your analyses of Final Fantasy VIII and mine, as well as to both yours and my
ability as a writer. Thanks for everything, bro.

I also wish to thank TheOnionKnight and Leuchest/The Dark Legend of 
GameFAQs for their tons of input and theorizing that have in no small part 
contributed to my musings and formation of this article. A special mention also 
goes out to Katicflis of GameFAQs for her input and brainstorming which 
undeniably contributed to the theorizing amongst myself, Sir Bahamut, 
TheOnionKnight and Leuchest/The Dark Legend in various ways. Another 
special mention goes to pmog, also of GameFAQs, for pointing out certain 
points in the Ultimania to look into having translated.

Finally, a special thanks goes to DarkAngel, staff member at the now defunct
AdventChildren.net forum, and owner of the Gunshot Romance website, for
translating articles from the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania. 

-Glenn Morrow



---------------------------------------------------------------------
AFTERWORD (added by Sir Bahamut) [UR21]
---------------------------------------------------------------------


~The issue of 'valid interpretations'~ [UR22]


So where does all this leave the R=U theory really? Although the Ultimania
information puts an end to the debate for all intents and purposes, some will
be quick to point out that it doesn't constitute conclusive proof against the
possibility that Rinoa is Ultimecia. The reason is that one could imagine ways
for Rinoa to reach Ultimecia's era which don't require her to have an increased
lifespan. One suggestion is that she could be sealed in the Sorceress Memorial
or in a machine similar to the one Adel was held in. However, as Skyblade from
eyesonff.com noted, the game never actually states that these devices will keep 
people alive indefinitely, or even prolong life at all. Another suggestion is 
that with all the time-travelling and such, it's possible she jumped forward 
in time at some point (although the only known method in the game for 
travelling to the future is through time compression, which is not around 
after the end of the game), and one could ostensibly dream up other ways for 
Rinoa to reach the far future of Ultimecia.

Indeed, R=U is not disproven from a mathematical point of view. However, that
has never been, and can't ever be, the aim of such a debate. R=U is a debate
on literary interpretation, not a mathematical conjecture (despite the fact that
its popular title, "R=U," makes it sound like just that), and as such any 
talk about proving or disproving it is meaningless because it's simply not 
possible to prove or disprove a literary interpretation! Instead, the focus 
lies on what is plausible and not. As an example, one could speculate that 
Irvine is in fact Ultimecia. This would be impossible to disprove entirely, 
but anyone will recognise that this theory is too implausible to consider. It 
is not what we'd classify as a 'valid interpretation' of the game. A valid 
interpretation arises naturally from information in the game itself, 
extrapolated using a bare minimum of assumptions. Irvine=Ultimecia is not a 
valid interpretation of the game because it in no way arises naturally from 
the information in the game, and further requires wildly imaginative 
extrapolation.

Now you may say that "but in the end it's all just opinion", and of course in
essence that is true. But the reason anyone discusses works of art to begin
with is because we believe that not all intepretations are equally plausible.
We are willing to discuss what Ultimecia's true motives may be because we
feel that some ideas (e.g. Ultimecia wanted to take control over space and time
in order to defeat her own fate: see the Unjust Persecution section for more)
are better than others (e.g. Ultimecia wanted to compress time so she could
make sure she never missed another dentist appointment). Determining whether
or not a given intepretation is plausible can be a subtle affair, but it is
still one we think is worth doing. If you disagree, and think that all ideas
are equally plausible, then this FAQ probably isn't for you, but maybe you'll
change your mind as you read on.

Now, is the R=U theory a valid interpretation of the game? Does it arise 
naturally from the game, is it supported by in-game evidence and is it 
extrapolated from these using a bare minimum of assumptions? The short answer
is: no, no and no.

Although the tragic spin of the R=U theory might make the plot a lot more
interesting for several gamers, the theory simply is not plausible. It's not 
quite as bad as the suggestion that Irvine = Ultimecia mind you, but the 
hints are simply not strong enough, as Squall_Of_SeeD has effectively shown.
The claim that Rinoa is Ultimecia is extremely bold, not the least because the
game doesn't even provide a natural method for Rinoa to reach Ultimecia's era, 
and, if true, would be an incredibly important plot-point, perhaps even the 
most important one. As such, it is necessary for the hints to be very strong 
indeed, but as has been shown in the previous part, none of the hints are 
particularly convincing; even presented all together they simply don't add up 
to give much weight, and frankly seem redundant due to the Ultimania 
information, which does three damning things against R=U. Firstly, it wrecks 
the main argument as to how R=U is even possible to begin with. Secondly, it 
implies a different background to Ultimecia all together. Thirdly, it never 
mentions anything indicating R=U. The arguments just end up looking far too 
weak.

So the situation is that the theory does not arise naturally from the game
(indeed, the physical possibility of the theory doesn't even arise from the
game), it's not supported by any compelling in-game evidence and it requires
a significant amount of assumptions and imagination to work. The theory 
just does not stand up to scrutiny.

It is worth also considering what we actually end up with if we assume R=U.
Since Ultimecia clearly has no memory of being Rinoa (she does not recognize
Rinoa or Squall in the game) the theory would require Rinoa to have become so
utterly deranged that she effectively become a completely different person. Due
to the possibility of prolonged GF exposure this is perhaps not a terrible
requirement, but in actuality it means that R=U cannot really hope to explain
why Ultimecia does any of the things she does in the game. Her motivations
cannot be assumed to have originated with her former self as Rinoa, since
they may just as easily have come about after the shift to her new self was
complete. R=U may add a bitter twist of irony to the game and explain to
some extent Ultimecia's background, but it does nothing to explain her
motives for wanting to compress time or for any other of her actions or
statements during the game. In the end we'd still need to treat Ultimecia as
a separate woman from Rinoa. What then is the point of R=U really?

In light of all this, the final verdict of the theory is that despite not being
100% impossible, it simply is not plausible enough to be considered a valid
theory. As far as literary criticism goes, the theory simply is not true.



~Concerning the role of official sources~ [UR23]


So far in this FAQ we have twice referred to what we might dub 'official
sources'. First, when discussing the Time Compression witches, where we quoted
both the Ultimania and the Scan info in the Japanese version of the game. The 
second time in the R=U theory above, where we quoted the Ultimania. In fact we
will refer to the Ultimania later on in this FAQ as well. The reader may 
however have noticed that in the first two cases the information was treated
differently. In the case of the TC witches we ultimately concluded that the
official sources used could not be accepted as an unchallengable statement
from the creators of the game themselves, while we placed a lot more weight 
on the sorceress lifespan quote from the Ultimania and argued that it more or 
less has to be accepted as canon. It is easy to draw the conclusion that we 
are being hypocritical in how we treat official sources such as the Ultimania.
If we felt the Ultimania wasn't good enough in the case of the TC witches, 
could it not possibly be considered not good enough for the sorceress
lifespan issue? I will now try to justify why this is not the case, and why we
felt justified in our apparent hypocrisy.

Ideally, when the creator of a work of art comes out and makes a statement
regarding his or her work, we would like to take that statement at face value
and incorporate it into our understanding and assessment of said work. But
what if the creator makes statements which appear to bluntly contradict the
work itself, or makes several statements which all contradict one another?

One good example of the latter is Bergman's statements on his so-called
"Silence" trilogy, consisting of the films "Through a Glass Darkly", "Winter
Lights" and "The Silence". Shortly after the last one was released, Bergman
said that they fit together as a trilogy. But then, later on in his life, he
stated that they never really were a true trilogy. So -are- they a trilogy
or not? We cannot appeal to Bergman's statements, so what are we to do?
It's simple: we watch the films themselves and then make our judgement based
purely on what is actually there.

Let's consider another example, this time from the world of Final Fantasy,
courtesy of Squall_Of_SeeD, who summarises it as follows:

"The FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania said on pg. 80 (pg. 82 of the Revised
Edition) that the continuity disaster Last Order (which SE has officially
stated is no longer canon) was just from Tseng's perspective -- his
recollection and interpretation of how things went down. Yet a file sitting
on his desk that he's reading during the story -- and which he would have
been the one to write -- has text on it in English that clearly contradicts
everything he's supposedly 'recalling.'"

Here we have an example where the creators make a statement which directly
contradicts what's in the game itself. What are we to do? It's simple: we look
at what's in the actual work and then assess Square's statement accordingly
(in this case it's fairly easy to see that Square's statement was a blunder).

The point is this: when assessing a work of art, official statements from the
creator are an authority, but they are not the only authority. The work of
art itself is also an authority! So when we have information both from the 
work of art itself and the creator, we must not be too hasty and simply 
blindly accept the latter information. If the information matches up then we 
have little reason for doubt and can safely accept both as canon. But if the 
two contradict eachother we must be a lot more careful, and ultimately we 
must look to the work itself to determine which fits more.

This is of course exactly the situation we have in this FAQ. In the case of
the TC witches, the Ultimania and the game seem to contradict eachother, so
we are forced to leave the question unresolved. Each reader must look at the
game and judge for themselves. With the sorceress lifespan issue, there was
no such contradiction. The game itself indicates that sorceresses can die just
like regular human beings, and the Ultimania simply confirms it, hence we may
feel justified in accepting this as canon.

'Official sources' of any kind are often very convenient to quote in order to
put an end to certain ideas, but we should keep in mind that the content of
these sources should not be immediately accepted. We should always make sure
that the sources generally with with the actual work in question. If the
information matches up, we are good to go. If it does not, then our final
conclusions should be drawn from the work itself. After all, we are discussing
the work, not the official sources!

 


 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 2) AN ULTIMECIAN ANALYSIS - THE UNJUST PERSECUTION (by TheOnionKnight) [UP0]
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now that R=U has been thoroughly discussed and, we hope, thoroughly gutted,
we will place it aside totally.  This section of the FAQ is dedicated to 
exploring an alternative motivation for Ultimecia.  Pooh pooh, you may say; 
what alternatives exist?  The whole problem with Ultimecia is that the game 
does not supply her with a motive.  That was the appeal of R=U, was it not?  
That concept filled in a hole in the story, and without it, what are we left 
with, but that selfsame hole again? We’re reduced once more to a one-
dimensional villainess.  If Ultimecia is not Rinoa, she is just an evil 
stereotype, and her singular motive is world domination for world
domination’s sake.  And that isn’t very appealing at all.  However, we get 
what we get, and the game simply gives us this cookie-cutter antagonist, so
we must brace ourselves and take it without flinching.

Actually, we must do no such thing.  We must simply look back and pay a little
more attention to the story.  I will be the first to admit that the game does
not spell anything out when it comes to Ultimecia.  However, a number of hints
and suggestions about the Sorceress are dropped in very curious and also
extremely telling locations throughout the plot, and these hints and
suggestions, when added up together, amount to much more than an “evil
stereotype.”  They are, nevertheless, only hints and suggestions, so if you 
are reading this section of the FAQ with an appetite for proofs you will not 
get them and will leave dissatisfied.  What you will get is another literary
interpretation of Ultimecia’s actions – an interpretation entirely divorced
from anything related to R=U.  This interpretation, unlike that one, is based
on nothing which the game itself does not supply for our consideration.
Furthermore, it is an interpretation that tries as best as it might to stick 
to what the game supplies, and to make as few extrapolations as possible. For 
that reason, I might pompously declare that the thing is not an “alternative” 
motivation whatsoever, but merely the actual motivation for Ultimecia as given 
by the story; but I will not go that far.  When discussing Ultimecia in any 
way, allowances must be given, and assumptions inevitably made, so no one 
“theory” about her will ever be “the” theory.  Some will just be more 
impervious than others.  This one is not only quite impervious, but also, I 
think, thematically satisfying.  However, if you don’t agree with it (which you
are not at all obliged to do), perhaps, and hopefully, you will still find it 
interesting enough reading material.

 ---------------
 SUBSECTIONS
 ---------------

 1. How History is Written [UP1]
 2. Anticipating Ultimecia [UP2]
 3. “Destined to Face Me” [UP3]
 4. A Rose By Any Other Name [UP4]
 5. To Compress, or Not to Compress – To Compress, Of Course! [UP5]
 6. A Few Final Remarks [UP6]
 7. Summary for the "Lazy Reader" [UP7]

 ---------------------------------------------------------
 1. HOW HISTORY IS WRITTEN [UP1]
 ---------------------------------------------------------

The very first topic that needs touching upon is the general topic of history –
or, more dramatically, History. This topic needs touching upon because it is
the foundation for the theory to follow, in both a broad and in a specific 
sense.  I therefore touch upon it now to get it over with, and will try to get
it over with as quickly as I can.  Namely, I touch upon it to make this 
singular point: history is remembered.

How obvious!  How simplistic!  How petty an observation!  These are undoubtedly
some of your reactions to the statement up above.  Nevertheless, I must harp
for a while on this elementary point in order to establish it as truly
elementary.  The simplicity, the obviousness of it is essential.  History is 
remembered.  That, in fact, is nearly the definition of the word itself – the
word “history,” I mean.  It does not exist, as a point of reference for us, if
it is not remembered.  It floats away and slowly subsides into the oblivion of
forgetfulness.  And some history does do this, and ceases to be history.  The
small events of the world are too small to be worth recording.  They drift out
of remembrance and in a few generations they turn into bits of nothing.  They
pass on.  The big events, meanwhile, are remembered and recorded and
established, even, in our own world, inside of schoolbooks.  Now it bears 
mentioning that the world of FFVIII is not our own world.  This point is also 
obvious.  However, the game’s fictional world is based enough upon our own as
to make it relatable to us.  It is relatable in many ways.  We may therefore 
assume that, in it, things worth noting are recorded, just as they are in our
own reality.

This is one of the only great assumptions that the theory presented here will
make, and you can see how great of an assumption it is.

What, now, in the world of FFVIII, we must ask ourselves, would make it into 
the history books?  What events experienced during the game are noteworthy 
enough to be remembered?  I’ll summarize them shortly.

An influential nation, Galbadia, begins to wage an outright war on neighboring
countries.  A resistance group, the Timber Owls, attempts to assassinate this
nation’s president, and also attempts to assassination this nation’s political
ambassador.  That political ambassador, in turn, attempts to assassinate the
president – succeeds, in highly public fashion – and proceeds to usurp control
of the country and later of the entire continent.  That this political 
ambassador and subsequent de facto dictator also happens to be an evil 
Sorceress only serves to make the entire coup more memorable.

The Galbadian war machine now turns its focus, not merely upon neighboring 
countries, but upon the entire globe.  In reaction to this a mercenary force 
known as “Garden” engages the Galbadian army in an effort to – once more – 
assassinate that troublesome Sorceress at the helm.  They succeed in subduing
the woman but not in preventing the Galbadians from resurrecting a titanic 
alien artifact with cataclysmic powers from the seabed.  This artifact 
consequently draws with magnetic force innumerable space-monsters from the 
surface of the moon, and deposits them in pell-mell style all over one half of 
the planet.  A space-station is destroyed as collateral damage in the process.
Another egomaniacal Sorceress, banished to an orbiting cold-sleep “tomb” for
having previously committed genocidal war crimes, is also unhappily set free.

In response to this unsightly dilemma, the technologically-advanced and 
culturally-isolated nation of Esthar (which happened to get the brunt of all 
those magnetized space-monsters), conducts research to determine that the 
“prime mover” behind the global predicament is actually a Sorceress from the 
future.  This unpleasant lady has been using a time machine, already under 
development in Esthar, to travel backwards into the past and stir up trouble.
Furthermore, she intends on destroying the space-time continuum.  It was she,
in fact, who had assassinated the Galbadian president and assumed control of 
that country.  She was possessing someone else to do it.  To be stopped, she 
must be confronted and killed in her own era; the military force “Garden” 
agrees to undertake the task, travels through time, and gets the dirty work 
accomplished.

This all, you must admit, sounds highly remarkable.  If you think that it
sounds unremarkable, you must live a very enviable life.  In terms of global 
impact on the world of FFVIII, the war above-described is of a literal 
significance.  Its entire series of events makes our actual World Wars look 
like mere schoolyard skirmishes.  We remember Franz Ferdinand now, but imagine
with how much more interest we would remember him if he had been a Sorcerer!
Imagine if the atomic bombs were not just bombs, but clumps of writhing lunar
creatures dumped from outer space!  Hopefully that is enough of an illustration
to, if not prove, then to powerfully suggest that the historical events 
witnessed in FFVIII would be remembered by later generations of that game’s 
fictional population.  Perhaps details would fade; battles be remembered, but
the names of generals forgotten; speeches still recalled with vividness, but 
their precise contexts unknown.  That is not too much of a logical leap to 
make, so let us make it.  And let us make one further one, a little more 
specific, but no less improbable: that the name “Ultimecia” might resonate with
meanings in FFVIII like the name “Hitler” does in our own world.

That last leap, let me say now, though, is not really required.  It is just too
tantalizing to pass up when making an example.  Other names, indeed, could make
the very same example: do we not recall Caesar, Nero, Attila, and so on and so
forth, also with clarity?  Important people, if they are important enough, live
on in the general memory as well as important events do.  And so would the name
“Ultimecia.”

Objection!  I hear the word already on your lips.  You say that all of this is
well and good, but also that the whole thing is outrageously far-fetched. 
Sorceresses, and time traveling, and magical possession, written into history
as facts?  Perhaps all of these did occur in the game, but they are all just 
too outlandish for the “common men and women” of FFVIII to believe, and 
certainly far too outlandish for inclusion in anything like a schoolbook.  
Well, perhaps in our own world this might be the case; if Cleopatra, to name 
someone, anyone from history, for the sake of example, was actually a 
Sorceress, we certainly don’t know about it right now.  If that “fact” was a 
“fact” it was not recorded – no doubt because it seems too improbable, and no
one would (indeed, nobody does) believe it.  Therefore the question must be 
posed: would anyone in FFVIII believe that Ultimecia existed?  Would her story 
be too improbable for History to stomach?  Perhaps, as I have said, in our 
world, yes; but in the world of FFVIII many odd things are taken for granted.
Monsters, for one, fall from the moon; Sorceresses are well-documented by 
renowned scientists; zombified blobs can impersonate political figures; 
schoolteachers in high-heels can summon demons from magical lanterns to fight
for them in battle.  I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.  The point, I
think, is made.  Therefore let us presume that Ultimecia was, indeed, 
remembered by the world.  That is not a very bold presumption after all, is it?

But time-traveling! – you continue to protest.  Isn’t that still too 
outlandish, even next to monsters from the moon?  Why, not at all.  It’s really
the least outlandish item on the menu.  The JME is a physical, extant object in
the world of FFVIII.  Dr. Odine himself, the game’s Stephen Hawking, has all of
the calculations worked out.  He has studied Ellone’s temporal powers 
intimately.  So you see, even that part of the story would slide very neatly
into a historical account.

------------------------------------------------------
2. ANTICIPATING ULTIMECIA [UP2]
------------------------------------------------------


Now, with the foundation of our theory established, we may move on to the more
substantial meat of the matter at hand.  However, let’s not eat the whole cow
all at once.  We’ll start out slowly, and go through the topside, the flank and
the sirloin in their proper order.  What this means, in non-metaphorical terms,
is that we still have a few stages of “scene-setting” to chew on before we
start discussing Ultimecia’s psychology.  The first part of the scene that we
set I’ll spell out once again:

	- History is remembered.

That was the pivotal point of “Part 1,” which you just read.  The pivotal point
of “Part 2,” which is sitting at this very moment on your dinner plate, is as
follows:

	- History, once remembered, is learned from and acted upon.

This is the second great assumption which the present theory makes, and, once
more, perhaps you can see how great of an assumption it is.  (Nothing so 
extreme as Rinoa being cryogenically frozen, anyway!  Excuse me, let me show
R=U to the doorway again.)

What I mean by saying that history, once remembered, is “learned from” is just
that.  This observation applies in a general sense to the world as we know it
today.  History is recorded for a reason.  Humans don’t record it just because
they like documentation.  Of course, documentation and preservation are a part
of the whole process, but they aren’t the end result of it.  The end result is
education, in both scholarly and in practical terms.  One learns by studying
the past.  Sometimes one learns about things that are long-gone and beyond
social resurrection – about cultural practices that have vanished, governments
that have dissolved, the boundaries of ancient nations, and etcetera.  And then
sometimes one learns about things that are not only capable of being
resurrected, but may very well be revived in the present – about modes of 
philosophic thought, religious beliefs, fashion trends, and once again 
etcetera.  These things, once understood and learned about, may then be “acted
upon,” which is the second clause in the statement I made up above.  Fashion 
trends, for instance, may be brought back from the grave.  Old literature may 
give birth to new ideas, not to mention to new literature.  Dusty sciences may
have the dust blown off of them, and thereby illuminate a path to fresh 
discoveries.  Did not all of this occur (excepting the resuscitated fashion 
trends) when the Middle Ages turned into the Renaissance?  Does not this still
occur today, whenever someone turns back to Homer for entertainment, to Lao-Tzu
for inspiration, to Thomas Paine for guidance?

Apply the same concept to the world of FFVIII.  The same exact thing happens
there: its fictional populace also returns to and continues to build on the 
foundations of the past.  To cut directly to the chase, I’ll mention the 
primary and most pertinent example of this outright – the Lunar Cry, the 
Crystal Pillar and the Lunatic Pandora.

A meteorological phenomenon to say the least, the Lunar Cry is documented in 
the world of FFVIII as having destroyed the Centra continent and the  
civilization that once resided there.  The tutorial observes that the Cry has
“occurred many times in history and will reoccur in the future.”  It is 
mentioned by various NPCs during the game, as well.  The Crystal Pillar, 
meanwhile, is a probably-alien artifact that “causes the Lunar Cry by producing
a strong energy field between the planet and the moon.”  And the Lunatic
Pandora is an “enclosure for the Crystal Pillar made by Esthar” which, the 
tutorial handily hypothesizes, “was probably built to cause the Lunar Cry 
through artificial means.”

The implication of this is clear enough, though not directly stated: Esthar has
developed a weapon of mass destruction by harnessing the natural power of the
Lunar Cry.  The regulatory guarantee of this phenomenon is what drives the
Esthar scientists, led by Dr. Odine, to manufacture the Lunatic Pandora.  
History has obviously taught them something very practical, indeed!  They have
turned the past into a military trump card.

That is an example of history being applied in a very “hands on” manner, but 
now we must take this concept of “applied history” and project it beyond the 
game’s temporal boundaries – into that unobserved chronological space between
Squall’s “present” and Ultimecia’s “future” era.  This, of course, is the 
segment of the FFVIII timeline that most greatly concerns us.  It is the 
segment that R=U purports to cover (excuse me once again as I show this 
intruding equation to the door).  In order to examine Ultimecia in any sizeable
way, we must attempt dipping into this quadrant of the timeline.  We may not,
however, and I will not, attempt to specify what occurs there.  We do not have
enough information to attempt stating specifics.  We may only, and I will only,
generalize about what might have occurred there.  And when I say generalize, I
do mean generalize in that term’s broadest sense.  It is my intention in this
section of the FAQ to suggest, in great, sweeping strokes, a vague and yet an
encompassing outline of that blank narrative terrain.  Allow me to make my
first stroke.

It stands to reason, if we take both of the above-related “points” into
consideration, that both of those points would converge and subsequently flow
in one predictable direction.  The population of FFVIII is historically-aware.
Let us say, as a minimum, that they will remember the grandest moments of
Galbadia’s attempted global conquest.  They will remember the activation of the
Lunatic Pandora, and they will remember the Lunar Cry that devastated Esthar.
In the streets of Deling City, the public is already talking about Ultimecia
during the third disc of the game; two soldiers near the entrance of the city 
make these remarks:

"I heard Seifer Almasy is now in league with this sorceress named Ultimecia."

"With Sorceress Ultimecia behind us, Esthar and its technology are nothing."

Meanwhile, other random townspeople are saying things like:

"I heard that new guy in charge, Seifer, is up to something big. Now
he's teamed up with some evil force greater than Edea, and he's trying
to do something to this entire planet."

"I heard there's a new sorceress now called Ultimecia. I hope we can trust her."

The public at large is aware of Ultimecia's role in the global turmoil, and 
with Selphie's online diary publicizing this Sorceress's name in an ongoing 
eyewitness account, the appellation "Ultimecia" will undoubtedly be remembered
by the people of the world.

Now, remembering all of these things - the Galbadian War, the Lunar Cry, the 
Sorceress "Ultimecia" -  they will also act upon them.  They will act upon them
as anyone would act upon the great facts of world history.  But they will also 
act upon them in an unusual and in a unique way, because the events of world
history, in FFVIII, are not relegated solely to the past as they are in our 
world. History, in FFVIII, also encompasses the future.

Time-travel, of course!  You smack your forehead as you remember it.  For you
do remember it, don’t you?  You have figured out the whole thing already. 
During the course of the game, and the course, of course, of the Galbadian war,
time-travel is utilized as a “vehicle of attack” against Ultimecia.  Garden’s
forces arrive in her era to confront her; in her era she is, indeed, 
confronted; and then Garden’s forces return to their own era, having conquered
her in hers.  When Squall kisses Rinoa on the balcony during the Garden Party,
Ultimecia’s defeat is literally a thing of their past.  That Sorceress has 
already been killed.  And yet – she has also not even been born!  She will not
be born for “generations” still to come.  In spite of this, however, she has 
already earned her place in the annals of history, and will be remembered as a
villain and as a tyrant.

That last statement, I admit immediately, was also another assumption. It is
an assumption, though, that follows effortlessly from the two points up above.
It is, indeed, almost the only assumption that may follow from those points. 
It is the natural assumption to make.  One may make it smoothly, logically, and
easily. One almost does not even have to make it; the assumption makes itself.
It comes about on its own terms.  It is an extension of the circumstances
present in the game. Ultimecia’s defeat does occur before her birth, and her
name, therefore, will enter into history before she is alive. Generations of 
people preceding her birth will know her name, and will be able to remember, 
via history, the misdeeds and the atrocities of the Sorceress who reigned over
Galbadia.  They will know, furthermore, also that she has not yet been born. 
They will know, though she has already been vanquished, that Ultimecia must 
still, in the future, rise to power.  Her rise has been written as a fiery and
a fated declaration into the very fabric of the past, and so into that of the
future.  It must happen because it has already happened.  It is a thing that
will transpire absolutely, as a fact.

Picture it, then, if you will, as a guillotine’s blade.  It has fallen before –
it has fallen in Squall’s “present” era – but it must be lifted, will be
lifted, gleaming to its height sometime in generations succeeding Squall’s own.
The residents of those succeeding generations will observe the thing as it 
ascends.  They will see the blade climb higher, see it hang, prepared to fall,
and see, perhaps, even droplets of blood drip down from it before it finally 
and fatally descends.  History has told them they will see such a blade rise,
and so they shall.  But will they simply watch the blade ascend?  Will they 
resign themselves to a spectator’s role in the affair, and passively observe 
Ultimecia’s rise because they know that, in the “past,” although in their 
“future,” via the machinations of time-travel, the Sorceress must be defeated? 
Will they give themselves up to the omnipotence of Fate, and decline to 
participate in events?  Or will they, conversely, react?  Will they, in spite 
of their own actual and historically-proven inability to successfully fight 
Ultimecia, anticipate her birth and her ascension to power?  Will they “keep an
eye open,” prepared to, all the time, stage an attack?  Will they wage a war 
with her, in their own era, even though they know that their efforts should be
futile – that she can only be beaten as she has already been beaten in history?

If you take human willpower into account, and also human stubbornness, and also
human desperation and determination, the answer to that string of largely-
rhetorical questions will be apparent.  Humanity will fight back against 
Ultimecia.  Humanity must fight back.  Humanity will anticipate, and will watch
for, her ascension.  It will do this even though History has declared all such
efforts to be impotent.  This is a conclusion that, once more, follows
logically all preceding points made.  It is a conclusion that requires no very
taxing suspension of disbelief.  It may, even, almost be said to require none
at all.  And it may said to require so little because we are shown, in the 
game, that the residents of Ultimecia’s “future” era did, indeed, attempt to
fight back against her.  

Just outside of her castle, you may recall seeing a few discarded carcasses on
the beach.  These are the unceremoniously-slain bodies of White SeeD members,
and Squall remarks, when he stumbles upon them, “…Future SeeDs… We’re fighting
across generations.”  SeeD and Garden, organizations founded specifically to 
combat Ultimecia, are still in operation, in the “future,” even though the 
Sorceress has already been vanquished in the “past.”  They are still in 
operation even though it has been written into history that they cannot 
accomplish their singular goal in their own era.  They must wait for “the past”
to come around again, and intersect with their “future,” but they will not –
and they do not – wait that long.  They resist Ultimecia, and are slaughtered
in the process.

Well, then, so much for their valiant exertions.  The principle lesson, not for
any of them (bless their poor murdered souls), but for the rest of us, has been
learned.  And just what is that principle lesson?  Simply that Ultimecia was
pursued by the population of her own era.  And so, as you see, all the points
we’ve been making connect rather nicely as dots on the same diagram.  History
is remembered, and Ultimecia is remembered along with it; history is then acted
upon, and Ultimecia is pursued, although in vain, by a population aware of her
immanent emergence.  Only a few very basic assumptions have been used to weave
these elements together into a cohesive web.  However, I can see your finger
even now attempting to come over and poke at what you think might be a hole in
the needlework.  Fine, fine, you say – she was pursued in her own era.  That’s
evident enough.  But what if, just what if – never mind all the hassle I went
through in “Part 1” of this thing – history wasn’t remembered so well?  What if
the world really had forgotten about Ultimecia?  What if they actually didn’t
know that she would rise to power in the future?

Bah, humbug, I say!  I don’t want to be a Scrooge, but you are –quite– trying
my patience with this topic!  Won’t you just accept the overwhelming
probability that Ultimecia’s name would be remembered?  No?  You want a line or
something from the game?  Fine, then, we’ll see what the lady herself has to
say about it.

 ------------------------------------------------------
 3. "DESTINED TO FACE ME" [UP3]
 ------------------------------------------------------


Ultimecia is not a great speaker.  By that I mean, the woman tends to hold her
tongue.  She makes brief and terse statements when she makes statements at all.
She is constantly dismissive, and does not, for that reason, ever bother 
explaining herself to anybody in the game.  Why should she, after all, explain
herself to all the wretched peons that surround her?  What business do they
have addressing the likes of her?  They have no business doing that, and
therefore she doesn’t allow them to do it.  She makes no villainous monologue,
and never divulges even a single part of her plan.  No, not the tiniest bit!
Dr. Odine and Edea are the two persons responsible for piecing the Time
Compression puzzle together; Seifer later reaffirms their speculation.

In spite of this, Ultimecia does talk, and when she talks she generally makes
obscure and reflective comments.  These comments often soar over the heads of
whatever listeners are attending to her speech at the time.  They soar over
those listeners’ heads because Ultimecia is often, when she does speak,
speaking to herself.  Her words are meant for her own ears.  They touch upon
thoughts that she already has in her head.  They are little quips and
utterances.  Frequently they are derogatory (oh, how she loves denouncing SeeD
members as fools!).  But they are not without their import.  Although they are
brief, they are still open windows into Ultimecia’s intellect; and although
they remain only briefly opened, they still allow us to glimpse for a moment
what is inside of her mind.

During a confrontation with Squall inside of Galbadia Garden, Ultimecia makes
these remarks:


 Ultimecia (as Edea): “So the time has come. You're the legendary SeeD
	destined to face me?”

 Squall: “(What is she talking about?)”

 Ultimecia: “I must say that I am impressed. ...An impressive nuisance. Your
	life ends here, SeeD. Worthless fools.”

After that, they battle; Ultimecia is also a woman who likes to get right to
the point.  But what about that tantalizing comment regarding the “legendary
SeeD” who is “destined to face” her?  (We know that the term “SeeD” is singular
because the line, in Japanese, reads, “Omae ga densetsu no SeeD datta no ka,” 
where “omae” is the singular form of “you.”)  Squall wonders what this means, 
and through his inner dialogue the script has posed the question that he poses
to himself also to the player.  A topic has been highlighted for our 
consideration.  We are asked to ask, along with Squall, exactly what the 
Sorceress might have been saying.  Squall never does ponder out a proper 
answer, and the game never supplies one.  This, however, is no problem for us,
because the very question is an answer to itself – or, rather, Ultimecia’s
initial statement is an answer to the question that it prompts Squall to
consider.

She is talking, of course, about history.  Through her remark we learn that
history has been inflated into something greater than itself, into “legend,”
but it is nevertheless history, the very thing that we have been discussing all
along.  The past has been remembered well enough by the residents of
Ultimecia’s era.  She is a voice from that era, and a voice educated enough, as
is apparent, about the past to make the remark that she does make about it.
She is aware, in a dim fabulous prophetic way, about what has already occurred,
and therefore about what must subsequently still occur.  Her impact on the
world, in both the future and the past, has been substantial enough for its
power to ripple across the necessary generations into her very ears before she
has yet made the impact.  Her comment, in other words, is merely a 
substantiation of the first assumption that I made in “Part 1” of this FAQ.
History not only might be remembered – it has been remembered.  Ultimecia
herself remembers it.

With that observation we have come full-circle, and arrived back at the
beginning of our chain of logical conclusions.  Each conclusion, as has
hopefully been illustrated, feeds into and creates the others; and each
conclusion is nothing more than an extension of facts and lines of script
presented to us by the game.  We have made the most basic assumptions to arrive
at this place in our theory.  Our assumptions might not, right now, even be
called assumptions: they are so strongly implied by the game that the game may
be said to have indirectly stated them.  More than that, they are so strongly
backed by reality, and by simple common sense, that they are really less
assumptions than they are the first thoughts that would occur to any thinking
person.  The rationale is so obvious that it is elementary.  

So we have finished butchering the cow.  Now we have all of the cuts spread out
before us on the counter.  Some of them are more substantial than the others;
some are smaller but more tender and therefore more implicating; some are
simply pretty and convenient scraps, which perhaps we will throw to the dog
under the table, or maybe to Ammut if we feel so inclined to feed that chimera.
In any event, we are ready to prepare or to dispose of these numerous pieces of
beef as we see fit.  They have all been finely boned and presented to us in
nice paper wrapping, tied with string.  In plain language, the scene is set; we
have finished building the foundation for our theory; now we forge on to the
more gourmet endeavor of cooking the stuff into a satisfying meal.  And if you
are a vegetarian, so sorry.

 ---------------------------------------------------------------
 4. A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME [UP4]
 ---------------------------------------------------------------

From this point forward, we leave the safe harbor of very practical assumption
and set sail upon more open and hazardous waters.  Our most practical
assumptions, indeed, are now behind us.  We must still make a few more
assumptions, but they require more imagination than the previous ones have, and
are therefore less easily branded as obvious or elementary.  I would
nevertheless still maintain that what assumptions remain to be made are
relatively simple, but now we are entering that blank area of the timeline
heretofore-mentioned, and when we are so far off of the map, we must beware of
monsters.  There is a fine line to be walked.  One step too far in too
extravagant a direction will have us inventing things out of our heads –
scenarios too detailed to be backed-up by the game, and too intimate and
specific to be of any use to us.  Therefore let me state plainly now what my
intentions are for the rest of this FAQ.

I cannot pretend to fill in empty spaces on the canvas.  The canvas, in those
spaces, is empty; the developers of the game did not illuminate them; and if I
were to attempt painting them, I would be the one doing the painting, and not
the developers.  That isn’t my goal in presenting this theory.  My goal is
rather to look, not at the empty parts of the canvas, but at the colored ones,
and to look, more precisely, at the edges of the colored patches.  We all
presume, whenever we do attempt discussing Ultimecia, that a “hidden picture”
exists somewhere.  It must exist for us to theorize about it.  Any theory is an
attempt to expose that hidden picture.  What I personally presume is that this
“hidden picture” exists largely within the game, and that, though parts of it
are blank, those parts are not blank because they are devoid of substance; they
are blank because something has covered them up, or in other ways obscured them
from our viewing.  What has covered them up?  The very fact of Ultimecia’s own
dismissive and condescending personality.  She has a motivation, but she is no
blabbermouth, and therefore we never hear what her motivation is.  This is the
blank spot on the canvas.  Around that blank spot, though, are the traces of
the image that would have filled in the center.  We have a jigsaw puzzle, the
exterior sides of which have been completed, but the middle is a hole, and the
rest of the pieces to fill it that hole are nowhere to be seen.  Ultimecia has
withheld them.  What I propose to do, then, is look at the parts of the picture
that have been made available to us – at all of the edges of the picture – and
to guess, using those edges as guidelines, at what might exist “behind” their
empty center.

The edges have already been established.  Those edges are, I repeat, these:

	- History is remembered and acted upon.  SeeDs in Ultimecia’s own era
	  attacked her.  We may suppose that the remainder of the population,
	  aware of her impending threat, also supported this resistant behavior.

	- Ultimecia was aware of her own historically-recorded actions in the
	  past.  

From there we begin to fill in the empty middle of the canvas, and the
timeline, as best we can.  We ask ourselves how, under circumstances such as
these, Ultimecia might have “come to be.”  How, even, would any child come to
be named Ultimecia in the first place?  If that name has been permanently
associated, via historical records, with tyranny and madness, what parents
would ever christen their daughter with it?  This question may seem fairly
trivial, and perhaps even beside the point, but it is a branch of a larger and
more fundamental issue.  How, if Ultimecia’s destructive reign were written
into history, would she be allowed to rise to power whatsoever?  We have
already supposed that the population of her era would combat her, and we have
witnessed the outcome of their efforts strewn across a certain forlorn stretch
of shore.  But why did they not suppress her before then?  They knew, well in
advance, that she would make her appearance on the world stage.  They might
have even been (as Yuthura Ban has suggested) “keeping tabs” on each new
Sorceress.  A limited number of these women exist at any given time, and one of
their “magical inheritors” is destined to be Ultimecia.  Future generations
have only, therefore, to watch each future generation of Sorceresses.  One of
these women is fated to be their long-awaited enemy.  That is a historical
fact.

And yet only –one– of these women is fated to be Ultimecia.  Therein lies the
crux of the thing, and also the seed of the explanation for our initial query:
how could Ultimecia “come to be”?  To flesh that explanation out, let me turn
to a real-world illustration of my ultimate argument.

The witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, during the late 1600’s, were in all
likelihood not at the forefront of the developers’ thoughts as they plotted
this game (to say the very least).  Nevertheless these famous court proceedings
provide an illuminating and easy example for the sake of comparison.  What they
are an example of is “herd mentality,” and much has been made of their
psychological implications in regards to human behavior.  Much has also been
made of their political dimension.  But let me sketch them out a little, for
those of you who may be unfamiliar with them.

The issue, of course, was witchcraft, and this issue, at the time, was an issue
that could be dealt with before a judge and jury, in a courtroom.  The penalty
for practicing witchcraft, by default, was death.  Remember that I sketch a
generality with these statements.  Because that is the case, I may also make
some generalizations about court protocol, and throw off a few innocent remarks
regarding parasitical lawyers, silver tongues, and “deal cutting.”  A potential
witch, once brought into the court, was of course faced with the impossible
judicial system of the time.  Once charged with the crime of witchcraft, in
other words, he or she was as good as a witch and already in possession of a 
death sentence.  Pleading innocence was futile, and proving it out of the
question.  All that remained for the convicted witch was the hangman’s noose –
unless, one of those silver-tongued and quite persuasive lawyers may have said,
the convicted, perhaps, had some information he or she would like to share? 
Information, for example, about the whereabouts of other “witches”?  The court
might afford, after all, to pardon and spare an informant, and so one by one
each convicted “witch” reported more potential “witches” to the judge and jury.
In this fashion over one-hundred and fifty people were eventually brought to
trial, each having been dragged into the courtroom via fabricated accusations,
and each afterwards inventing their own fabricated accusations in order to be
spared an execution.

The point, as far as we’re concerned, is paranoia as it is registered on a
scale pertaining to the masses.  A mere hint may be dropped, and as long as it
is suggestive, as long as it is insinuating enough, and regardless of its
truth, if it is potent, it may well swell into something like a pandemic.
Perhaps Sterbini, of all people, explained this psychological phenomenon best 
in his libretto for Rossini's “The Barber of Seville,” where Don Basilio makes
these lyrical observations about slander and calumny: “Slander is a little 
breeze...a mild wind... quite gentle.  It's imperceptible and subtle... light 
and sweet. It begins as a murmur... softly... here and there... it's a 
whisper... a hiss.  It idles along.  It rambles around.  It manages to slide 
into people's ears.  It slips inside their brains.  Then it swells and it 
stuns. It comes out of the mouth with an ever louder noise, and gathering force
it flies from place to place. Like thunder echoing through the forest, it 
makes your blood run cold!  Finally it spreads and produces an explosion like 
the roar of a cannon!  An earthquake!  A tempest!  Shaking the heavens and the 
seas!”  Sterbini’s point comes across even better when accompanied by an 
orchestra and sung by a bass in Italian, but for now it suits our purposes to 
see it in English in print.  It certainly sums up what occurred in the Salem 
witch trials with more elegance than I could – although, of course, slander 
was not as maliciously and purposefully at hand in those trials as it was in 
Rossini’s opera.  Yet the feeling and the spirit still pertains, and Don 
Basilio’s philosophy may be applied to any situation in which something small
snowballs into something gargantuan, public and out-of-control.

It should be easy to see into what “slot” of FFVIII I intend to fit the above
examples.   The “slot” is made even more visible, and even more suitable for
the example to be stuck into, because witches are actually, literally involved
in both scenarios.  In Salem, however, the witches were merely poor unfortunate
souls, and it was slander indeed that whipped that colonial population into its
convicting frenzy.  In FFVIII, meanwhile, the witches are real, and it is not
slander or imagination at all that colors them in a bad light; historical
records and facts do this to them.  Adel was an actual tyrant.  The Odine
Bangle has been designed to suppress Sorceress power.  Technology has been
developed to imprison them in a deep-freeze “Memorial” located in Esthar.  “We
must seal your power,” one official remarks to Rinoa, “for the sake of the
world.”  These women, empowered by magic, are not to be trusted, and not, if it
can be helped, to be given the freedom to act of their own volition.  It is
therefore no wonder that, as the tutorial informs us, many Sorceresses “keep
their powers concealed.”  We will leave all the feminist arguments out of the
picture for now, and merely observe that a certain level of discrimination is
more than evident.

Now conceive of how, in future generations, this discriminating attitude, like
Don Basilio’s slander, would idle and ramble along through the popular
conscious, growing “ever louder” until it had succeeded in producing a cultural
tempest.  It would continue to increase because, rather than learning to
“sympathize” with Sorceresses, the population would grow gradually more
agitated and terrified of them in anticipation of Ultimecia’s emergence.  Hear,
in your head, the clocks’ hands ticking down to the unspecified but guaranteed
arrival of a tyrant; listen to the murmur of the crowds as their anxieties 
continue slowly mounting; hear the protestations and laments of the women whose
fate is not, indeed, to become Ultimecia, but whose magical abilities
nevertheless charge them with the potentiality of a transformation into that
historical villain; picture the throngs rallying together against them.  It is
like the French Revolution all over again, is it not?  But instead of a
guillotine in the town square, we have a Sorceress Memorial!  Forgive me for
this frightfully cartoonish description.  I do not mean it in a literal
fashion.  I merely mean to evoke the hot-headed and impetuous viciousness of
the mob, whose momentum, once built, cannot be slowed or stopped by anything
less than copious bloodshed.  In other words, I mean to evoke the simple and
primitive foundation of human nature: that instinctual fear of “the other,” and
that primeval drive for survival.

This drive would no doubt, as I have already explained, persist through the
future generations of FFVIII’s world, and as a consequence Sorceresses living
in those future generations would in all probability meet with hostile
resistance and fear.  I could do any amount of imagining about what their
experiences and lives would all be like, but I’ll refrain from that, and allow
you to do your own imagining.  Simply reference once more, to trigger your
thoughts, the circumstances in Salem, and consider in what ways minorities have
actually been discriminated against in reality.  You can conjure up some rather
hurtful images, can’t you?  People do barbaric things to one another, and the
barbarism increases in an atmosphere of fear.  Sorceresses are not treated well
in FFVIII to begin with, and after Ultimecia’s influence, the civilities
extended towards them would certainly decrease more than a little.

Yet this discrimination, however unjust it may be, is not without reason or
rational cause – for a future Sorceress –is– destined to be Ultimecia.  The
woman must be born.  She must be born because her existence is carved in the
unalterable stone of the past.  Therefore she will be born.  She will be one of
the numbers of women placed into the spotlight of the cultural consciousness by
Fate, and will be placed into this spotlight before she has done anything
whatsoever to deserve the condemnation of the public.  At least, from her own
point of view, she will not have done anything worth condemning – but the
public will point at her even still, with confidence, knowing exactly what she
might turn into, what she has done “already.”  Her genocidal reign is 
legendary.  It is destined to occur, for it has already occurred.  And because
it has already occurred, Ultimecia has already incurred the wrath of the world,
and incurred that world’s wrath without lifting a finger.  She is still,
perhaps, a young girl, or a young woman, but because she is a Sorceress the
public persecutes her.  It presses in upon her; it smothers her with unwanted
surveillance; it scorns and stares at her, and threatens her, perhaps, even,
with imprisonment.  It does this without knowing that she is, at last, “the
one,” that she is truly Ultimecia; it does this merely thinking that she could
be Ultimecia; and by doing it – by pressing her and persecuting her, by loading
her down with the weight of a crime compounded by centuries of terror and
anxiety – it forces her, finally, to truly turn against the world around her. 
Being hated by society, why shouldn’t she, in her own right, in her turn hate
society?  Why shouldn’t she strike back and silence those who would oppress
her?  She is an individual, a revolutionary!  She will not stand for what her
magical ancestors weakly accepted – their base, their menial mistreatment.  She
has done nothing to warrant this cruel harassment.  She will strike back!  If
they will harass her, she will harass them!  And so the snowball begins to roll
again, gathering more force, more weight, more meaning, as the one Sorceress
fated to be Ultimecia resists her persecution – as the public observes how she
resists it – as that public pushes in upon her even harder than before – as she
pushes angrily back against them – as stakes raise on both sides – as violence
breaks out between them – as blows are killingly exchanged – as she cannot now
turn back from her bloody path – as she ascends into her role as a historical
tyrant.

That is as far as my sketch of her rise will extend.  To say anything else
would be to invent details out of thin air, and however appealing certain
details may seem, floating up there on their own little pink clouds, it would
be a disservice to pull them down now.  This isn’t the place for fan-fiction.
I have stopped where I have because I have finished with my outline.  That
outline is as general a thing as I could manage.  It is the suggestion, if you
recall the metaphor from earlier, of the picture in the middle of the 
unfinished puzzle.  It is what, in the roughest sense, that missing section of
the puzzle is likely to represent, based on what we see of the puzzle’s
completed edges.  But a suggestion is all that we require.  That suggestion is
something for us to swallow, and we have only wanted, this whole time, a little
bite to eat – so there it is.  You may chew on that bite for as long as you
like.  Chewing on it, you may also ruminate and wonder and compose your own,
more detailed, situations – envision for yourself a more colorful and more
peopled history for Ultimecia.  You may fill, in other words, the outline in
with your own shades and hues.  Coloring it in that manner is not my business.
My business is only to illuminate the initial outline itself, and to brush away
the potential obscurity of it.  But perhaps it is not even truly as obscure as
all of that.

Ultimecia, as I have said before, is not a blabbermouth.  However, she does
make one substantial speech during the game.  It is an address to a Galbadian
crowd, and the main part of it reads as follows:


Ultimecia (as Edea): "...Lowlifes. ...Shameless filthy wretches. How you 
	celebrate my ascension with such joy. Hailing the very one whom you have
	condemned for generations. Have you no shame? What happened to the evil,
	ruthless sorceress from your fantasies? The cold-blooded tyrant that
	slaughtered countless men and destroyed many nations? Where is she now?
	She stands before your very eyes to become your new ruler.
	HAHAHAHAHA."

President Deling: (...?)

Ultimecia (as Edea): "A new era has just begun."

President Deling: "E-Edea... Are you alright...? Ede...!"

(She telekinetically lifts Deling into the air and begins killing him with her
magic.)

Ultimecia (as Edea): "This is reality.  No one can help you.  Sit back and 
              enjoy the show."

(She telekinetically throws Deling's lifeless body.)

Ultimecia (as Edea): "Rest assured, you fools.  Your time will come.  This is 
              only the beginning.  Let us start a new reign of terror.  I will 
              let you live a fantasy beyond your imagination."

This speech may be taken, as I see it, in two ways, but whichever way you
choose to take it, the thing is still worth taking.  The first way to take it
is as a generalization.  Ultimecia may be speaking of “the Sorceress” as an
idealized and conceptual composite, baring the public perception to its bone,
and describing how Sorceresses as a collective have been criminalized to a
degree verging on the fantastic.  If that is the case, her speech may be read
as an encapsulated summary of every point I’ve related up above.  It is a
statement made, in-game, by the woman herself, about how people have
“condemned” her kind “for generations.”  It describes how the public perceives
“the Sorceress” – as evil, ruthless and cold-blooded; as a slaughterer and a
destroyer.  This is a testament to discriminatory “herd mentality,” indeed, and
if it is nothing else but that, it still serves as an enlightening glimpse into
the mentality of the global masses.

There is another, though, and more interesting way to interpret this speech,
and that is as a speech about Ultimecia herself.  The way that you choose to
interpret the speech depends upon the way that you choose to interpret its
syntactical structure.  The pronoun “my,” of course, can be no one except for
Ultimecia; meanwhile, “the very one,” “the evil, ruthless sorceress,” and “the
cold-blooded tyrant” may, as previously noted, apply, arguably, to a composite
anonymous rhetorical “individual.”  But these phrases may still also apply to
Ultimecia.  If they do apply to Ultimecia, and she is actually talking about
her own personal experiences, then what we have is a direct statement from the
horse’s mouth pertaining to her own history.  There is no need, in short, for
any conjecture at all.  She has made a blatant remark about her persecution.
Moreover, she has made this remark in an insinuating and ironical way.  Notice
precisely how she words her sentences.  She does not portray herself as truly
cold and ruthless and etc.  She portrays, rather, the public perception of
herself as consisting of those attributes.  There is a disconnect between the
woman on the platform – the “my” in the second sentence – and the Sorceress
from the public’s “fantasies.”  This disconnect is suggested by the very
questions that Ultimecia poses to the crowd: “What happened to…?” and “Where is
she now?”  Ultimecia is talking, here, about the Sorceress from the public’s
“fantasies.”  She is asking where this other, potentially imaginary woman has
gone.  This other woman is responsible for the very crimes that history would
record Ultimecia as having committed: “slaughtering countless men and
destroying many nations.”  Ultimecia is treating the woman, syntactically, as
if she is another person.  She even seems to suggest that there is an
exaggeration involved in the other woman’s attributes.  She poses her questions
in such a way as to mock her auditors for having believed in the exaggeration
of those attributes.  And then she comes full-circle in her final sentence,
revealing that “she” – the “sorceress from your fantasies” – “stands before you
now.”  By referring to herself as “she,” Ultimecia is transposing the identity
of the “cold-blooded tyrant” onto her own personality.  A disconnect still
remains between these two individuals even after Ultimecia has conflated them
into one being: herself.  She is revealing herself to be another woman besides
herself, and yet, at the same time, revealing that that other woman is no one
but herself.  They are one and the same person.  This is what enables her to
mock the crowd; that crowd has not yet made the connection between the identity
of the “historical” Ultimecia and the “actual” Ultimecia – because the
“historical” Ultimecia does not exist yet in the era when the “actual”
Ultimecia is making her speech!

This may all sound terribly confusing and convoluted.  That is simply because
it is.  Two identities, a false one and a real one, are in play at the same
time.  Ultimecia has segregated the two of them.  At the beginning of her
speech, she is the woman on the platform, and she is describing the “cold-
blooded tyrant.”  At the end of her speech, she steps consciously into the role
of that tyrant, and fuses her own identity with the one derived from the
“fantasies” of the crowd.  She has become the destroyer, and yet she remains
aloof and aware that “the destroyer” is still merely a role.  Finally, she
laughs aloud, and this laugh, like the rest of the speech, may be interpreted
in a number of ways.  It may, of course, be a stereotypical cackle – a staple
villains’ trait.  But it may be another cynical reaction to the entire scene.
She is laughing, not because she is “evil,” but because the public is unaware
of what it is witnessing – it is unaware of who she is in spite of the fact
that this selfsame public body will be responsible for “fantasizing” her into
existence in the future.  As the only person aware of this irony, Ultimecia is
in a unique position to laugh about it.  It is my own preference to imagine her
laugh as a bitter and sarcastic one, but then, I personally read a great deal
into grammar – far too greatly, you may say, into grammar, when I mention to
you that Ultimecia’s laughter does not end with an exclamation point, but with
a period.  This implies something to me, but the idea is too ephemeral to
substantiate with anything more than a personal preference, so I only mention
it once in passing.  The real thing is the speech itself, for this speech, once
properly analyzed, does far more than fit into the edges of the puzzle – it
fits into the very center of that puzzle’s missing middle.  It contains,
although only in summary, a capsule of Ultimecia’s life story, and it contains
this capsule regardless of how you choose to interpret it.  One interpretation
fills the middle of the puzzle slightly more, but any interpretation still
belongs in that puzzle’s middle; and so you see that the middle of the puzzle
was never wholly empty to begin with.  It only needed, so to speak, some
emphasis.

To go one step further in our analysis, however, it would be prudent at this
point to also examine a more direct translation of Ultimecia's speech, as it is
phrased in Japanese. Interestingly, although the spirit and purport of the 
speech is maintained in the English translation, certain aspects of it have 
been neutered.  Squall_of_SeeD has done his best to translate the Japanese 
lines word-for-word, and this is his translation:

Ultimecia (as Edea): "......It reeks.  Filthy fools.  Since time immemorial, 
              we witches have lived within illusion.  The foolish fantasy you 
              produced.  Adorning their bodies in dreadful costumes, the 
              witches who curse virtuous humans by means of cruel rituals. 
              The terrible witch who burns your green fields and freezes your
              warm home with ruthless magic.  ......Worthless.  Now that the 
	witch from the illusion  is come to be seen as a friend of Galbadia, you sigh 
              in relief?  Who is dreaming fantasy after fantasy?"

President Deling: "E...Edea... Just what...? Ede......!"

(She telekinetically lifts Deling into the air and begins killing him with her
magic.)

Ultimecia (as Edea): "Reality is not at all gentle.  That being the case, you 
              fools! There is nothing for you but this!"

(She telekinetically throws Deling's lifeless body.)

Ultimecia (as Edea): "Escape into your own fantasies! I shall continue to dance
	for your world of illusions!  I shall dance for eternity as the witch who
	brings you dread!  You and I.  Together, we shall create the final fantasy.
	Within are life and death and sweet dreams.  The witch travels towards
	the eternal illusions!  The witch of the future and Galbadia on to eternity!"

The most striking difference between the Japanese and English versions of the
speech is the overt theatricality of the Japanese. Although Ultimecia speaks of
a conceptual composite "Sorceress" in English, in Japanese she piles sarcastic
attributes onto this rhetorical individual until she has fashioned an 
imaginable character. We can actually picture "Sorceresses" dressed in 
"dreadful costumes" and conducting "cruel rituals." These intentionally stagey 
and stereotyped descriptors illustrate forcefully just how campy and ridiculous
the mass perception of "the Sorceress" truly is. That perception is a 
"fantasy," and made out of "illusions,"and in Japanese Ultimecia blatantly 
talks about the fabricated nature of the role that she is playing. The duality
of the "public perception"of Ultimecia and the "real woman" behind, so to 
speak, the mask is stated literally when Ultimecia proclaims that she will
"dance for [the public's] world of illusion." There is no subtly involved in
this statement. Ultimecia is not what the public brands her, but because she 
has been branded, she will put on the "dreadful costume" and perform the part
that she has been assigned.

This notion of Ultimecia as a theatrical performer gives additional meaning to
her bizarre wardrobe and melodramatic gestures, which she has acknowledged,
in her speech, as things like props which she is using to embody the 
"final fantasy," the "foolish fantasy you [the masses] have produced." She is 
a self-aware actress, surrendering herself to her public image, and she is 
doing this with a malicious irony. Her repeated emphasis on illusion, fantasy 
and dancing, as well as her mention of costuming, summons the artificial world 
of the theatre with a boldness not found in the English translation. "Sit back 
and enjoy the show" is Ultimecia's only comparable English line, because it 
also places the public in the position of an audience watching Ultimecia, who
must therefore occupy the role of a performer.  However, in English, this 
comment slips through the literary cracks, because there is no other theatrical
language in the speech which the comment would serve to cap.  Instead, the
English translation employs military and political language with the words 
"ascension," "tyrant," "nations," "ruler" and "reign," effectively replacing 
Ultimecia's conceptual theme about the theatre with more concrete remarks
regarding government. I cannot pretend to guess the translators' reasoning 
behind these word choices, and can only remark that they serve to render 
Ultimecia as a more militaristic threat in English, as opposed to a 
metaphysical threat with "illusion" as her weapon, which is how the Japanese 
text represents her. Of course, she is a militaristic and a metaphysical 
threat in -both- languages; each language merely underlines these two elements
of her character with differing intensity. In my opinion, however, there is no
reason not to embrace both translations, and to consider each one in its turn.
The core message of the speech does not alter from Japanese to English, but 
certain thematic flourishes have undoubtedly been lost in the translating 
process, and these add yet another layer to Ultimecia's personality.

But a question (although it is a silly, silly question) still remains! Who
would name their daughter Ultimecia? Unfortunately, I have no answer to this
simple question. I may only hypothesize and guess about it. Luckily it is not
an essential question, but rather more like a little piece of amusement to
consider. I have, of course, considered it, and here is my own spin on the
issue, although my spin may be no better than yours.

I don’t personally believe that any parents –would– name their daughter
Ultimecia.  What I prefer to think happened, instead, is something along these
lines:

 “You say I’m Ultimecia?  Then so be it, kurse all of you, I am Ultimecia!”

As an individual cognizant of the historical role being forced upon her, it
seems fitting, to me, for Ultimecia to climactically adopt the role for herself
after she has been pushed at last over the brink.  Such a transformation of
identity would certainly be a dramatic finale to cap the process of her 
“creation.”  But of course any number of theories like this might be dreamed up
and hold equal amounts of water.  We have entered the realm of fan-fiction
which we already skirted before, so let’s pull away again before we plunge into
the last large section of our analysis.  Naturally we do have one more great
topic to touch upon, for what is any discussion about Ultimecia... without
consideration of that ever-elusive Time Compression?


---
NOTE (by Sir B): If you recall the section about the time compression witches,
it was left open as to whether or not they were real women. However, assuming
they were the implications are huge in light of this theory.

In short, future sorceresses would all appear to mysteriously end up getting
slaughtered by Squall and Co as they move towards Ultimecia's era. Ultimecia's
paranoia and anger would be multiplied tenfold as she learned that every
sorceress prior to her (after Rinoa) was brutally killed, many perhaps being
perfectly innocent.

Now, it is the TheOnionKnight's opinion that this is NOT the case, and that
the TC sorceresses are not actually real women, and his theory certainly
does not in any way rely on it. But it is certainly something to consider
if you do think the TC witches were real.
---


 -------------------------------------------------------------------------
 5. TO COMPRESS, OR NOT TO COMPRESS - TO COMPRESS, OF COURSE! [UP5]
 -------------------------------------------------------------------------


By now we have already done most of our cooking, and by that I mean,
established the meat of our theory.  We have taken what the butcher gave us,
allowed it to marinate in the juices of applied logic, and finally thrown it
out onto the grill.  Now it is sitting there, sizzling merrily away, and the
scent of it is wafting pleasantly beneath our noses.  Ah, my, what an aromatic
breeze, indeed!  In just another moment the thing will be ready to eat.  In
fact, if we wanted to do so, we could leave it entirely alone right now, and
consume our meal as-is once it has gotten – how do you take yours? – rare,
medium-rare, or perhaps well-done? – once it has gotten, in any event, heated
through enough for each of our own tastes.  We needn’t touch the theory
anymore, for it is already complete: Ultimecia has a back-story.  The back-
story was, as you saw, right there all along in the game.  You already knew all
the key components of it.  I merely tried, as best as I could, to highlight
them a little bit more brightly for you.  And therefore you may take what I
have highlighted thus far, remove it from the grill, and “chow,” as they say,
“down” if you wish to.

Either that, or you may wait a minute longer before eating, and scrutinize, as
I will subsequently, some more potential toppings to flavor the basic “meat”
with extra zest – and extra theorizing!  For although Ultimecia does have a
back-story, she still lacks a –specific– motive for casting Time Compression
(TC).  Let’s delve a little more into her mind, then, and see if we can orient
ourselves in a position akin to that of one “inside her shoes” to get a better
idea of why she decided to cast this particular spell.

Of course, one extrapolation may be made immediately.  It is not specific,
though, and it might even be said to belong in the section up above this one,
because it is so general.  That extrapolation is simply: that she wanted to
cast TC in order to take revenge upon the world.  Having been persecuted, and
having been the woman singled out by Fate to at last “snap,” and become
Ultimecia, her plan of action would as a matter of course involve vengeance.
That is the next logical step, going on in the same vein that we have been
going on in, and it provides us neatly enough with the nugget of a motive.  The
world has launched an attack against her, so Ultimecia will launch an attack
against the world.  That attack is TC, and there you have it.

The question, however, still remains: why TC in particular?  We may grant
Ultimecia her need for revenge.  That need, in and of itself, is evident enough
and basic enough as a motivation.  By saying that again, I harp upon the point,
but I harp upon the point to get around to this observation: that one may take
revenge upon the world without taking revenge upon the whole of existence.
After all, is not the scope of TC tantamount to that of a nuclear warhead
deployed against an offending insect?  Ultimecia may have been persecuted in 
her own time, and the SeeDs of her own era may have fought against her, but
does this warrant the destruction of the known universe, and the obliteration
of the space/time continuum?  Revenge is one thing, but revenge on such a level
as this certainly indicates an unstable and egomaniacal mind!

We are back, as you can see, to considering Ultimecia as an “evil for evil’s
sake” villain, and we are back at that stage, not in spite of, but because of
our analysis of her history.  Her history does not seem to give enough weight
or meaning to her actions.  It does not explain why she would choose such an
extraordinary and cataclysmic method in order to exact her vengeance.  She has
been pushed around, certainly, been accused unjustly and perhaps been derided
and shunned by society – but to take these affronts, bundle and twist them
inside of oneself, and transmogrify them into a rationale supporting the
annihilation of existence would require a mind not only abused, but deranged,
vicious and arrogant.  It would require, in other words, precisely the sort of
stereotypical villain which I have been trying this whole time to say that
Ultimecia is more than.

You can see already that I am going somewhere else, and that I have brought up
the stereotypes again merely so that I may once more undo them.  There is more
of the picture to consider, so let us turn back, and look at the visible edges
of the puzzle again, and examine what the game provides for our examination.

We have a woman, Ultimecia, who knows about her own historical villainy.
Because her name has been written into history with tyrannical connotations,
she is persecuted by the global population before she has, in fact, done any
evil act with her own hand.  This persecution drives her to commit an evil act
– first, against the people of her own era; then, against the remainder of
humanity, across a span of eons and uncountable generations.  She casts TC as
the ultimate retribution against mankind itself.

In these facts, there is something fishy.  Perhaps you can already sense the
strange disconnect inherent in them.  Somewhere deep and intrinsic is an
apparent paradox, a type of contradiction, a little, irritating thorn of
illogic that has burrowed into and is throbbing mildly in the middle of the
thing.  You may only perceive the throb dimly, but you nevertheless still
perceive it.  With enough concentration you might make out what the thorn is,
and where it is, on your own time, but to save you that effort I’ll spell it
out presently.  Ultimecia is aware of history.  She is aware of what crimes
history has charged her with.  It is this awareness, on her part, that makes
her feel the pang of her persecution with such vehemence.  She knows that SeeD
members from a past era are “destined to face” her; it therefore follows that
she knows about her own attempt to cast TC in “the past”; and it therefore
follows that she should know the circumstances of her own defeat.  Because she
is aware of history, she is also aware that the TC spell is what enables her
own fated execution.  She knows that by casting it, she has set her own death
into motion.

That is the little bit of illogic I was referring to.  It is the element of
disconnect, of paradox, in the middle of the thing.  It makes us ask why
Ultimecia –would– cast TC as a method of revenge, if she must already know that
the effort will fail.  Of course we may solve the entire dilemma outright and
immediately by saying that Ultimecia did not know the circumstances of her
death.  That would, would it not, eradicate the motivational paradox?  It
certainly would.  We may say that Ultimecia was ignorant of global history, and
that, if the world at large knew about her “predestined emergence,” she herself
was somehow left in the dark.  This would give us a neat and tidy explanation
as to why she chose to cast TC.  She selected that particular means of attack
because she was unaware that it historically resulted in her death.  She simply 
did not have all of the information at her disposal.

You can perhaps tell how little this “explanation” suits my personal fancy.  In
my mind it is no explanation at all, but merely a distortion of the game’s
plotline to unspectacular effect.  We are given a line of dialogue which
indicates, point-blank, that Ultimecia is conscious, not only of her historical
reputation, but of her historical confrontation with SeeD.  To be aware of the
confrontation is to be aware of how it came about, via TC, and to claim that
Ultimecia was “ignorant of history” is to ignore what the game has told us.  It
has told us that she is no such thing at all.  She is keenly aware of the 
historical representation of Sorceresses, and of the global attitude towards
them; she is also absolutely cognizant that SeeD has been fated to confront her
“in the past.”  To be cognizant of that, she must be cognizant of the necessity
of time-travel, and, indeed, there is no reason to believe that she would be
anything otherwise.

This leaves us once more with our little paradox.  Ultimecia knows that her
attempt to cast TC will result in her defeat.  History has recorded this
outcome as a fact.  And yet she still attempts to cast TC regardless of that
fact.  These contradictory plot elements seem to indicate a motivation that is
not only egomaniacal, but also suicidal.  I do not, however, think that a
suicidal mindset is the answer to our question.  Nor, for that matter, do I
think that there is even a paradox involved.  

But how can there not be a paradox?  How can there not be a contradiction?  I
hear you asking these questions and, of course, berating me silently in your
own mind for talking about paradoxes and contradictions this whole time, only
to turn around and say they aren’t there.  Fear not!  This is the last time
I’ll establish such a point merely to break it down, and, indeed, I do not even
intend to break the “paradox” completely down in order to rationalize it.  In
fact, I cannot break it down – or, at least, I cannot break down its central
tenants.  Its two central tenants, to repeat myself just one more time, are
these:

	- Ultimecia knows that TC historically causes her death.

	- Ultimecia still casts TC.


This still looks, of course, like a contradiction.  However, it only looks that
way because we have not actively engaged it.  Most people don’t seem to
actively engage it, and therefore come up empty-handed when talking about
Ultimecia’s mindset.  Her mindset just doesn’t make sense to them, and it
doesn’t make sense because they do not see why the woman would knowingly enact
her own destruction.  Of course there is something wrong with this very limited
analysis, and the wrong thing about it is: that people assume Ultimecia –would–
be enacting her own destruction consciously.  We, however, will assume
something different, and what we will assume is this: that, in spite of
history, Ultimecia must nevertheless still think that she can succeed in
carrying out her vendetta.

But before we probe that concept any further, let’s step back one pace and look
at another handy example for comparison.  This other example is Ellone, and at
the very mention of her name perhaps you know already in which direction I am
headed.  Throughout the course of the game, Ellone moves cautiously along on
her own little quest, which largely takes place in the “background” of main
plot events.  Her quest is a sentimental one, quite appropriate for a mild-
mannered lady like herself: she has put it into her head that she wants to
reunite Laguna with his newborn son.  The problem with this, of course, is the
word “newborn.”  A mere reunion between the two men, in the present, will not
satisfy her.  She wants to alter the past, and change events in such a way as
to make Laguna’s divided family recombine into a happy domestic whole.  To
accomplish this feat, she does what only she can do, and invasively possesses
Laguna’s “past self” via mental time-traveling in an attempt to force him to
return to Winhill.  I need not delve into the specifics of her various temporal
trials and failures to arrive at my point, however, which is simply this: that
Ellone does, indeed, fail.  That statement carries more weight than it seems
to.  Consider what she tells Squall at one point in the game.

 Ellone: "People say you can't change the past. But even still, if
	 there's a possibility, it's worth a try, right?"

Squall responds to this notion with typical cynicism: “Change the past? Is she
serious? Give me a break...”  Of course he doesn’t make this remark to Ellone. 
He says it to himself in his own head.  But it, too, carries more weight than
appearances would indicate.  It carries the weight of common sense.  The past
is the past, and that very fact is an indicator that it cannot be altered, for
if it could be altered, then it would be something different than what it is
already.  Squall, a common man, with no desire to change the past and no power
to attempt the effort, quickly and easily subscribes to this idea.  But Ellone
is different.  Not only does she have an interest in rewriting history – she
also has the power to dabble in time-travel.  Therefore she says what she does:
“but even still.”  Perhaps the past cannot be changed, “but even still…”  She
must try the thing, hands-on, in order to convince herself.  She cannot trust
logic, or history, or common sense.  She has the opportunity, the tantalizing
opportunity, to poke her head into the time-stream and feel it run through her
fingers firsthand.  So perhaps the past is immutable, and perhaps all her
efforts to change it will be wasted, “but even still...”

Later on, after Ellone has done quite enough temporal spelunking, she comes
back into the daylight of the present with a different philosophy. "You can't
change the past,” she observes. “I just found that out.”  This observation is
the same one that Squall made earlier.  However, whereas Squall’s observation
was derived from pure rationality and (perhaps even cold) logic, Ellone’s was
derived from her own personal experimentation.   She “found [it] out,” in
contrast to Squall having reasoned it out.  They both arrived at the same
conclusion, but because Ellone was presented with the unique opportunity to
“test” the thing herself, she had to take that opportunity before her mind was
satisfied.  Only afterwards was she willing to come to terms with the notion of
immutability.

To further strengthen this concept – the concept, I mean, of a person needing
hands-on experience to believe something – shortly after Ellone relates her
“proven” observation to Squall, the game presents us with a philosophical
about-face on –his– side.  Rinoa has fallen into a coma, and this conversation
transpires:


 Squall: "You said you can't change the past, right?"


 Ellone: "You can find out things about the past that you never knew.
         And from what you've learned, you may see some things
         differently in the present. You're the one that changes. Not
         the past."


 Squall: "Really? There's no way to change the past? No, I want to
         find out myself. Take me to Rinoa's past.”

Even when faced with Ellone’s observational proof that he cannot alter history,
Squall still must “find out [himself].”  He refuses even, at this moment, to
believe in his own prior common-sensical conviction. And why this sudden
pigheadedness on his part?  The answer to that is easy.  It is because
something dear to him has now been placed onto the line.  Before, from his
removed vantage-point as a secondhand commentator, he could go so far as to
deride the idea of changing the past, but now that changing the past might
benefit him, he is willing to fly in the face of all logic and try the thing
regardless of the fact that he cannot succeed.  He comes, as Ellone does,
eventually to recognize his error, but this is only after he, too, has
personally failed in his attempt.

Now we return, at last, to Ultimecia.  As Squall and Ellone both did, she also
has something personal “at stake” when it comes to time-travel, and that
personal thing is her own reputation, persecution, and even the course, it
might be said, of her entire life.  All that she knows, and all that she has
been compelled, by history, to exist for, depends upon the events of a
historical time period located generations prior to her own era.  The past has
veritably molded her into existence.  It has molded her, furthermore, into the
role of a tyrant and a murderer.  About this it would only be natural to
imagine that she must harbor a deep and a bitter resentment.  Her malice is not
limited in application to humanity; it extends to encompass the natural laws of
the universe itself, for those natural laws are equally to blame when it comes
to pinpointing which forces were responsible for shaping her pathetic 
“destiny.”  If she will strike back against mankind, why should she not also
strike back against History?  It is in her power to strike back that way.  The
JME is at her disposal.  And perhaps the past cannot be changed; perhaps
history cannot be rewritten; but the opportunity is there, and vengeance is
fueling her desire to take it, so, like Ellone, she takes it.  She must “find
out for herself.”

It is therefore, in some part, the principle of “pigheadedness” that drives
Ultimecia to cast TC.  History has said that this spell will not work.  History
has said more than that: it has said that this spell will kill her.  But
Ultimecia cannot trust History.  She cannot trust it because the situation is
too personal, and she must stick her hands into the dissected intestines of
time, and feel them beat and pulse with her own fingers, before she is
satisfied with the knowledge of how they operate.  Then, and only then, when
she has gazed into the bisected bowels of the universe, will she allow her own
viewpoint to stabilize.  To carry the medical analogy further, she has studied
all of the available books on anatomy already; she has seen diagrams of organs,
and pictures of systems, and even strung-together skeleton models; but she
still wants to open a corpse with her own scalpel. 

With that, we have reconciled the two tenants of the situation’s “paradox.”  No
one in FFVIII is willing to believe that the past cannot be changed until they
have tried it themselves, so if the history books have told Ultimecia that she
will die, she still refuses to believe that such a prophecy is guaranteed.
However, this is only one part of the full motivation I intend to map out for
her.  The other part has less to do with stubbornness, and more to do with
arrogance.  It has also a little bit to do with the idea of dramatic justice.

You must try to stand, for a little while, in Ultimecia’s position.  Think back
upon the relatively genocidal-free, younger years of your life, when you were
nevertheless still perceived as genocidal.  Think back to your unstable
maturation, when you began to have a firmer grasp on history; when you were
still disparaged and abused for committing war-crimes that you hadn’t yet
committed; and feel, if you can, the sensation of fiery injustice flowing
through your enraged veins.  You have grown bitter – bitter enough to adopt the
mantle of the tyrant “Ultimecia” out of spite, to adopt it because it has been
given to you so ungraciously by the public – bitter enough to finally organize
your own retaliation.  Now the time has come to administer your vengeance.  But
no matter how many SeeD members you slay, no matter how much more powerful you
become, and no matter how many accusatory fingers you “chop off,” whether
figuratively or literally, of accusatory hands, one finger is still pointing at
you.  It will always be pointing at you.  It was the finger that initially
accused you, the long-reaching talon of history, and it is still jabbing itself
with unyielding conviction in your direction.  You cannot get rid of it.  It
will always convict you.  And yet, you say this to yourself, all of history is
wrong – it must be wrong – for you aren’t a tyrant, or you weren’t a tyrant,
until history transformed you into one.  But history cannot be accurate.  It
cannot be unalterable.  Because, if it is accurate, and if unalterable, this
means that it has always accused you justifiably – even when you were an
innocent, and history singled you viciously out, no matter how vicious it was,
it was true, and correct in having made the accusation.  You deserved your
persecution, you deserved to be attacked and discriminated against, if history
was actually accurate – but it cannot be accurate.  You say this again and
again to yourself.  It cannot be accurate because you are not really guilty,
and to prove that you were never guilty you will go back in time, you will
seize the past by the throat, and you will twist it, fittingly, to your own
ends.  If you can twist it that way, if you succeed, then this will prove
beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were never Ultimecia – even if you are now
Ultimecia.  You didn’t begin that way, and you didn’t deserve to develop into
that personality, because history’s testimony was never a reliable thing.
History was capable of fabrications.  History –is– capable of them.  And you
have had enough of “history.”

Your vendetta is subsequently rerouted into a specific channel.  You will not
simply combat SeeD, and you will not simply make the world tremble for having
abused you – you will cast TC, in spite of and because of history, and thereby
gain absolute power over history itself.  You will cast TC because no mode of
vengeance would be more delicious.  History has charged you with having
attempted this spell, and so be it, you will attempt the spell.  But history 
has also said that the spell will remain incomplete, and that you will die in
the effort, and about that, you are perfectly convinced, you will prove history
wrong.  You will not die at all.  Your willpower is too strong, and besides,
the past, you think – or, no, you know – can be altered.  You will alter it.
You must alter it.  You will cast TC successfully, and slaughter the
“legendary” SeeDs in the process, and in that way you will not only rebuke, not
only overcome, but you will also actually rewrite the very passages in the
narrative of the past that have condemned you.  Having completed TC, the
timeline itself will be yours to warp and edit – space will mold and remold
itself according to your whims – you will become one with existence, and the
cosmos will swirl, reduced, like a ball of malleable putty in your palm!  How
superb, and how ironic, and how satisfactory it will be, to walk down the road
to the gallows, and then kill the hangman, History, himself!  You will break
him on the wheel of Time Compression.  How much more satisfying that would be
than to simply avoid the gallows.  Indeed, if you avoided those gallows, then
the hangman would persist in living, and this you can’t allow.  That hangman
must suffer.  That hangman must die.  And if, to carry out his execution, you
must approach within a few yards of your own, then that is a risk you are
willing to take.  You are certain, anyway, that it is not a risk at all.  You
are too self-assured, and too vengeful, to consider even the possibility of
your own defeat.

And there you have it: my preferred motivation for Ultimecia.  It is, I think,
a really rather simple thing, psychologically-speaking.  By that I mean, that
it does not require any psychological abnormalities.  It flows easily in the
current of common emotions and reactions.  It is how a normal man or woman
might react in a similar situation.  Furthermore, it is not an “evil'
stereotype.”  It is a motive bound up, somewhat tragically, in revenge but also
in impotence – for if Ultimecia did want to change the past, she was
nevertheless destined, literally, like Ellone, to fail.  This she could not
have known, and yet this she must have known, which casts a somber hue across
our finally filled-in canvas.  The picture that our puzzle has added up to
produce is a miserable one.  It depicts the life of a creature selected,
arbitrarily, by the unfeeling natural forces of the universe, to undergo an
existence of oppression and misunderstanding.  This existence drove her to
extremes, no doubt, and did transform her into a vindictive and a violent
person, but is it not nevertheless pitiable, for being so far removed from
Ultimecia’s own influence?  Her existence, I mean, being removed from the
influence of her own actions.  She had no influence.  She was, in the end, a 
powerless thing, swallowed up and ground painfully into pieces by the
uncompromising and uncaring gears of Fate.  If she had any control over
anything at all, that control was an illusion, for in FFVIII there is no true
freewill.  

Ultimecia’s last words – or her penultimate words, rather – seem to confirm
this.  They are certainly an ambiguous speech, but they strike me as possessing
something “nameable,” anyway, and that nameable thing is nostalgia.  Ultimecia
is not a sentimental person, and yet here, at this stage of her life, so very
near the end of it, a tenderness or a longing – a contemplative retrospective
quality – has seeped almost gently into her language:

 Ultimecia: “Reflect on your... Childhood... Your sensation... Your words... 
	Your emotions... Time... It will not wait... No matter how hard you hold 
	on.  It escapes you... And...”

She cannot conclude her last sentence.  Time has escaped her again.  But her
meaning has somewhat come through, and that meaning, to me, seems to be a
rephrasing of something we’ve already heard.  Ellone understood it; Squall
understood it, as well; and now, although too late, Ultimecia has come to the
same, to the only, conclusion – the past cannot be changed.

 -----------------------------------------------------
 6. A FEW FINAL REMARKS [UP6]
 -----------------------------------------------------

Now that I have finished the main body of my theorizing, you have all of the
elements at your disposal – to make, of course, a sandwich.  That is what we
have been aiming at all along, you do realize.  The meat, of course, you
remember.  That is the substance of the thing.  It is all you really need.
Well, that, and the bread to put it on (the bread is the same thing as the
“edges of the puzzle,” naturally).  But now you have some extra toppings and
some condiments, as well.  These you may pick and choose from.  Of course I
choose them all, since I put them all out in the first place, but they are not,
as I have said, quite necessary.  They are the above-related hypotheses
regarding that question – Why TC? – but you do not need an answer to it, per
say, to have a suitable grasp on Ultimecia.  I personally find it an intriguing
question to answer, and an important one, but it is, in the end, very up in the
air for interpretation.  I have just tried to “stick to the basics” with my own
interpretation.  And what I have come up with, doing that, is a very
mouthwatering sandwich, indeed, with lettuce and tomato and onion and cheese,
not to mention a crisp, crunchy pickle, and ketchup and mustard, of course, fit
to rival, in combination, Jimmy Buffet’s own “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” 

You smile, I see, or else you groan at that, but you must excuse me for the
joke.  It was really inevitable. 

I have only now to tie up some final loose ends.  They have nothing to do with
the theory, really.  They are just responses to a few little potential
inquiries (two inquiries, in fact).  The first is this: why didn’t Ultimecia
kill Squall during the parade?  Why did she keep him alive to interrogate him?
This question may be basically reworded as: why didn’t she snip the bud when
she had the chance?  And you can already see how practically sundry this inquiry
is.  The best answer to it, I believe, is tied up with the concept of “where
the name SeeD came from.”  The foundation and purpose of Garden and SeeD is
ambiguous, to say the least, and Ultimecia (actually, Seifer) interrogates
Squall about this precise thing.  That is, to put it bluntly, why she kept him
alive to interrogate him.  To interrogate him.  Too obvious, perhaps? 
Ultimecia would as a matter of course have an intense interest in learning why
an organization historically pursued her.  History would have recorded the
pursuit, but not necessarily the intention behind it, because that intention is
so amorphous.  Squall only learns about the true purpose of SeeD at the end of
the game, and that purpose is inextricably linked to Ultimecia’s own self-
fulfilling prophecy.  There is no “answer” to why SeeD exists to combat
Ultimecia, except that it does exist to do that.  Ultimecia evidently suspected
a deeper, or at least another, “real” agenda, hence the interrogation.  And
what better way to find it out, than to ask one of the SeeDs from Garden’s
original, founding generation?  This “real” agenda, if it had existed, would
have been the “prime mover” behind her entire persecution, and therefore a
vital piece of information to discover.  She must have wanted to know it
tremendously, but, unfortunately for her, “it” never existed.

The other potential inquiry that I want to address is really very much like the
first one: why didn’t Ultimecia take advantage of her own “invulnerability”
while possessing Rinoa in the space station, and kill Squall at that time?  In
other words, again, why didn’t she snip the bud when she had the chance?
Because she had a deadline to meet.  TC was her greatest concern, and releasing
Adel from the Tomb was a step towards completing TC.  Accomplishing this was
much more important than engaging Squall in combat, especially since the Lunar
Cry was practically in progress already, the space station in turmoil, and the
Tomb had to be unsealed immediately.  She didn’t have the luxury to dawdle, and
besides, imagine her mentality: she was too overconfident to think that SeeD
was “actually” a threat.  In point of fact, she calls them an “impressive
nuisance.”  It is easy to see why she prioritized Adel.

I touched on those potential inquiries merely because those inquiries touch in
turn, although tangentially, upon the topic of Ultimecia’s own historical
awareness.  Why not snip the bud, why not snip the bud, if she knows ahead of
time that the bud will blossom into a lethal flower?  You have the answer in
both her mentality and in her priorities.  She is too arrogant, and too
curious, for her own good.  Also, she has a schedule to go by.

Now I have finally said all that I wish to say – nearly.  The only other remark
that I want to make is this one: that hopefully you have gained a fresh
perspective on the game.  If so, you will probably see new things come out of
it, and new themes highlighted, that you missed seeing before.  They are there,
and with another pass over the story, they might shine out for you.  Consider,
as a parting example, Ultimecia’s first conversation with Seifer.  But try to
consider what she says as being dually-applied, not only to Seifer, but also to
a young woman faced with a terrible dilemma, and finally forced into making a
choice that, once it has been made, cannot ever be unmade again.

 Ultimecia (as Edea): "Such a confused little boy. Are you going to step 
	 forward? Retreat? You have to decide."

 Seifer: "Stay back!"

 Ultimecia: "The boy in you is telling you to come. The adult in you is telling
	 you to back off. You can't make up your mind. You don't know the right
	 answer. You want help, don't you? You want to be saved from this 
	 predicament."

 Seifer: "Shut up!"

 Ultimecia: "Don't be ashamed to ask for help. Besides, you're only a little 
	boy."

 Seifer: "I'm not... Stop calling me a boy."

 Ultimecia: "You don't want to be a boy anymore?"

 Seifer: "I am not a BOY!"

 Ultimecia: "Come with me to a place of no return. Bid farewell to your 
	 childhood."

 ----------------------------

As a very final note, Squall_Of_SeeD has this to add:

"This theory is supported by Selphie's epilogue to the story of Final Fantasy
VIII, as seen in her diary entry published as the last page of the Scenario
section of the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania guide:

(Translated by DarkAngel)
"Finally, we arrived at Ultimecia's castle. Inside, there were a lot of traps
waiting for us! Our futures were hinged in the balance -- could we do this?

...you know, I just thought of something right now. What was Ultimecia
thinking? She was trying to survive in the only way she knew how, I think. Was
she trying to reach all the way out to the past to compress time, so that she
could try to erase the fate she knew was in store for her...? Thinking about
it that way, maybe what I'm writing is one-sided."

Here, Selphie realizes that Ultimecia was merely trying to avoid the fate that
was sealed for her by herself and SeeD long before she was even born. While
one might argue that these are simply Selphie's musings and not something to
be taken as canon, considering that the author of the Scenario section of the
Ultimania guide (Benny Matsuyama) obviously wrote this in for a purpose, it
being the epilogue after all, and that Ultimania Guides are published by
Square Enix themselves, they are official documents and such things as this
written into the narrative of a character's thoughts should be analyzed with
the consideration that it was put there because it is the truth (as nothing is
ever offered to contradict it).

In conclusion, Ultimecia's ultimate goal was to avoid her fate, but in the
process, to also become one with the universe through Time Compression and the
witch embodiment, and to then guide all things as she felt they should be."


 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 7. SUMMARY FOR THE "LAZY READER" (by Sir Bahamut) [UP7]
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sometimes we all need our Sparknotes, so here’s a brief summary of the theory
presented above.

The "Unjust Persecution" theory about Ultimecia is based on two basic 
assumptions. These are:

* History is remembered
* Knowledge is acted upon


These may seem like trivial assumptions, and certainly we can feel fairly
justified in assuming them. How then, are these seemingly trivial assumptions
important? Simply put, because the 'history of FF8' (i.e. the events that
happen during the course of the game) include information about the future,
due to the fact that Ultimecia is a sorceress from the future influencing the
past. In other words, due to the time-travelling in the game, information about
future events is available to the people of Squall's era. What information
might be significant to note?

Well, the fact that a sorceress named Ultimecia will one day arise, wage
war against the people in her own era before reaching back into the past,
starting another war there between Galbadia and the world, triggering the
Lunar Cry, releasing Adel, all in an attempt to try and compress all of time
and end existence as we know it.

The people of Squall's era already harbour suspicion and fear towards
sorceresses, and it is clear that the events of the game will only strengthen
these feelings. The knowledge, which we are assuming would be extensively
documented in history books (just as we are taught about WW2 and Hitler 
today, future citizens in FF8 would be taught about the Galbadian War and
Ultimecia), would clearly lead to increased fear and paranoia. If Ultimecia is
definitely going to be born at some time, why not try to stop her before she's
able to start two global wars and cause the death of countless innocent
people? But which sorceress will become Ultimecia? It is likely that all 
sorceresses would end up being persecuted, and indeed Ultimecia confirms 
(as Edea in the speech at Galbadia) that sorceresses were persecuted in
her own recent history, probably herself included.

So the "unjust persecution" theory is that Ultimecia was initially just an
innocent sorceress who was persecuted without having necessarily done
anything wrong. Driven into a corner Ultimecia would rise up and strike back.
But that is not all. In the game Ultimecia explicitly recognises Squall as
the "legendary SeeD" destined to kill her. The fact that Ultimecia would be
killed by Squall would also have been written down in history! So Ultimecia
devises a plan to rewrite her own fate and simultaneously take revenge on
those who persecuted her unjustly: by compressing time she would take
control of space-time itself and become god of the FF8 universe.

And that, in a nutshell, is the "Unjust Persecution" theory. My description
does not even begin to do justice to it, nor does it attempt to offer any
details. If, however, your interest has been piqued, then I very strongly
recommend you go right ahead and read TheOnionKnight's full description.
It will make everything a lot more clear and convincing.




 =======================================
  -Section IV: Additional Information- [AD1]
 =======================================


 This next section is just a collection of various other useful and 
 interesting information. 


---------------------------------------------
~Ultimania Information~ [AD2]
---------------------------------------------
 
Here follows all the translated Ultimania information related to the game
that we have from the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania, the FF 20th
Anniversary Ultimania File 1: Character, and the FF 20th Anniversary File
2: Scenario, official guides published by Square.

~FFVIII ULTIMANIA~
Area Guide
From the "World & Character" chapter, these are all the entries for
the towns and countries of the game (pp. 34-40), translated primarily
by Squall_of_SeeD. The entry on Balamb was translated by hitoshura of
TheLifestream.net, though Squall changed his use of “force field” to
“energy field," and his use of “the world’s three greatest delicacies” to
“3 Great Delicacies of the World."

----
Balamb

History
An island nation with abundant natural environments and surrounded by a
beautiful ocean. During a time of war it became independent from the Holy
Dollet Empire, and has since remained calm, without any unnecessary
interventions into other nations’ affairs. Even after the Balamb Garden
was set up 12 years ago, there was no change to the national peace, and
it has managed to maintain a moderate financial wealth as well. One of
the nation’s characteristics is the design of many of its buildings,
which is mainly based on curved lines with streamline patterning. In the
interests of conserving the natural scenery, the houses in the town are
kept to a uniform height.

Geography and Foreign Relations
Its warm and gentle climate makes it a pleasant environment to live all
year round. From the edge of the island one can see the western continent
dimly in the distance. The western continent, where the Galbadian
territory expands out, and Balamb are connected by an undersea tunnel,
and by using the transcontinental railroad running through it, travel
between the two countries is simple. The harbour in the town not only
serves as port for general ships, but also functions as a departure and
arrival area for SeeD vessels. The Fire Cave located on the east side of
the island is known as a dangerous area seething with molten lava, but as
there is a GF energy field inside the cave, it is used by Garden students
hoping to improve their combat abilities as a location for field training.

Lifestyle and Industry
With its refreshing atmosphere, the city in Balamb is a popular tourist
destination, and the souvenirs sold at the shop in front of the train
station is one of the providers of valuable tourism revenue for the city.
The Balamb Fish caught in the coastal waters is a massive fish with
bright turquoise scales, and thanks to its good taste is considered one of
the 3 Great Delicacies of the World. However, because there is a similar
breed of fish which can be poisonous, amateurs need to take care when
cooking with it. The sea breeze common to all coastal towns means that the
corrosion of metal is sped up, so at the garage of the rental car shop,
painstaking maintenance is preformed on its vehicles.

Military
They have lived peacefully for a long time, and there does not appear to
have been many situations demanding the use of an army. The existence of
Balamb Garden and its SeeDs seems to give the citizens a sense of relief.
----

Dollet

History
Once a large country called the Holy Dollet Empire, all that remains is
a small dukedom. As its government, it has a parliament in place.
Considered a trademark of its scenery is the radio tower on the
mountain summit above, as few such tranceivers exist in the world;
however, it has been derelict since the large-scale radio interference
began 17 years ago. Because it has been abandoned for a long time, it
would require extensive repair to use again. As well, there are many
Anacondaurs and other monsters living in the area, making approach
unwise.

Geography and Foreign Relations
Lying in the northeast region of the Galbadian continent, it is a very
small territory. The residential areas and commercial district reside on
a small peninsula, while the mountain is on the continent proper,
accessed by a bridge. With the town accessible by both land and sea, it
is quite convenient for incoming and outgoing traffic. Because the
mountain range in the surrounding territory serves as a natural bulwark,
foreign invasion is difficult. Due to Dollet’s warm climate and
beautiful scenery, it enjoys healthy tourism from young men and women.

Lifestyle and Industry
The wealthy from various nations have high-class resorts set up here.
For many shipowners, the enrichment of the harbor is a daily concern.
Due to the decay of the town, restaurants and the like have seen sales
fall.

Military
Though it holds a small-scale troop of infantry, they lack combat
experience and could not cope with a sudden offensive surge. Due to a
small military budget, the necessary funds to comission SeeD were
raised by an extra tax on residents.
----

Timber

History
A city located in the southeast region of the continent. The name
“Timber” was derived from the surrounding woods. Due to its abundance
of natural resources, invading the area became a goal for Galbadia, and
Timber became a territory of Galbadia through military subjugation.
Prior to its occupation, those in the resistance were hunted down, and
many citizens were slaughtered; consequently, there is a deep-seated
hostility toward Galbadia rooted in the local consciousness. Many of
its citizens have or presently belong to the resistance, but the
thorough management of antigovernment entities has put the majority
of that mechanism into dormancy.

Geography and Foreign Relations
With the control of Galbadia established, the development of the city
has been able to progress, but the presence of woodland has decreased 
dramatically. Still, there are parts of the surrounding nature that
remain enriched, such as Obel Lake to the north, with its praised
mysterious waters. At its edges, the town possesses four stations used
for the railroad; however, because the violent Galbadian soldiers have
so disturbed the peace of the town, travellers generally don’t stay
long. If an obedient attitude was taken with Galbadia, much more
prosperity could be expected, but the citizens steadfastly continue to
seek independence from the government order. For example, despite their
declining activity and financial resources, the resistance has sought
external aid in their quest for independence.

Lifestyle and Industry
For a long time, Timber’s mass media institution reflected local
politcal ideology. The Timber Maniacs company located there is famous
worldwide, and has formed the core of the publishing industry. With the
gimmick of elegance found in its older buildings, an atmosphere of new
and old blends in the city, with houses and stores having a look as
though made of stone, while the TV station has a futuristic look. The
mixture of Timber and Galbadia’s crests within the city allude to the
complicated history of the town.

Military
During the time of its independence, Timber retained its own troops;
following Galbadia’s occupation, however, that body was dissolved and
Galbadia’s own soldiers presently serve as the peace-keeping force.
In order to give its government a firmer presence, the Galbadia army
has some of its own troops stationed in Timber.
----

Galbadia

History
When the technologically superior nation of Esthar invaded the rest of
the world during the Witch War, Galbadia was motivated to expand its
territory and reinforce its armaments. Vinzer Deling was inaugurated
as president at a relatively young age, and in less than 20 years
expanded Galbadia into the large western force it is today. This
remarkable development is the product of politics of fear, and the
tragedies of Timber’s occupation, the imprison of political
dissidents, and the loss of many lives -- all under the pretense
of progress. In addition to the possession of long-range
missiles, Galbadia’s attempts to make contact with a witch have
led to a feeling of unease spreading throughout each nation of
the world.

Geography and Foreign Relations
The areas suitable for residence is little that of the range of
Galbadia’s territory, as desert spreads out from the country’s
center. Due to the constant clouds surrounding Deling City, there
are only about 10 clear days out of a year. The president is the
supreme power in the land, and demands much of his country while
his approach to diplomacy is simply oppression; Galbadia Garden
maintains a position of neutrality, but receives a lot of pressure
as well.

Lifestyle and Industry
Many people pursue their lives in the capital, Deling City, which
bears the presiden’ts name. In the center of the city and serving
as its nexus is the Arc de Triomphe; from there, roads expand out
into a ring around the city, and free passenger buses are
constantly running as the primary means of transportation about
town. Although it is a modern city, classical architecture is
preferred, and there are a great many stone statues throughout.
Although the development of industry and commerce has been
remarkable, as evident by the crowds in the shopping district,
everything ultimately belongs to the state.

Military
Reflecting the policies and power of the president, there is
extreme cooperation amongst the military, and it conducts itself
aggressively on both foreign and domestic soil. To that end,
even regular troops in the military are highly trained for combat
and able to use para-magic. Different uniforms are wore amongst
soldiers according to rank and ability.

Winhill
Located in the hillsides of the southern part of the continent is
this quiet village. It has few people due to its distance from
Deling City. Pursuing the cultivation of flowers and quality
manufacturing, the inhabitants lead peaceful lives. As some
villagers have lost their lives after nursing dying soldiers back
to health, the town’s elderly look at outsiders with great wariness.

Missile Base
A military facility south of Deling City. Despite radio waves
currently being unavailable for use, launched missiles can still
be guided with great accuracy. Recognition of the facility’s
importance is weak among soldiers; inspections at the gate and
inside are conducted out of obligatory habit.

D-District Prison
Constructed by imposing an abundance of taxes, it was built for
the imprisonment of political dissidents. Endowed with the
capacity to dive underground, it’s difficult to escape from; for
those sent there, imprisonment and death are said to have the same
meaning.
----

Fisherman's Horizon (F.H.)

History
This town originated with mechanics active during the time of
Esthar’s development who were dissatisfied with developments
taking place in that country and only had a desire to “make.” The
name was coined by one of the men who played an essential role in
establishing independence from Esthar, deriving it from the town’s
ideal atmosphere; it’s typicallyed shortened to “F.H.” Many of
those involved in the town’s construction have begun to reach older
age, and, in recent times, it has seen the births of its first
genuine native residents. Vestiges of the railroad station used to
cross the sea to the east and west remain; station master was once
considered the highest responsibility in the town.

Geography and Foreign Relations
Surrounded by the immense ocean, Galbadia is visible to the west
and Esthar to the east. Due to the town’s small size, its
population is also small, though those coming from the Galbadian
continent wishing to enter Esthar have occasionally remained
permanently. Some F.H. residents contributed to the completion of
Balamb Garden and the others, providing their skills as a service
far and wide.

Lifestyle and Industry
There is little fluctuation in the town’s warm climate, which
reflects the town’s gentle, open atmosphere. The buildings were
made from recycled material, and stores and homes have a simple
look and lack finishing touches; energy needed for the town is
provided by its windmills and mirror panels. Many residents pursue
construction and repair as occupations, and have room to carry on
peaceful lives.

Military
As the station master strongly loathes resolving problems through
battle, the town has no army or weapons. Conclusions to disputes
are reached almost exclusively by discussion.

[Translator's note: "Station master" was translated as "mayor" in
the English version of the game.]
----

Esthar

History
Known as “Silent Esthar” for the past 17 years due to the country’s
utter lack of communication with foreign nations. Possessing the
world’s greatest technology, it became a large nation, but become
gradually more focused on military affairs, and eventually launched
the Witch War, becoming the enemy of the world’s other nations.
Following an internal movement to throw down its dictatorship, the
former ruler was banished and a transition was made to the current
republic system. With a president at the top of its political
system, his many aides see to most administrative affairs, and the
title has carries no significant meaning. Administrative officials
within the country have sought to mitigate an extreme danger by
sending it far away and constructing a highly expensive facility.
Full-time crews take turns spending half a year at the facility,
maintaining constant vigilance over the threat.

Geography and Foreign Relations
Current state of affairs within the country are unknown -- even the
exact range of its territory, and whether anyone has verifiably
entered or left. As there is no regular means of traffic into Esthar
in place, and entry by air isn’t possible, crossing the Horizon
Bridge is considered the most realistic method of entering the
country. The prevailing opinion is that the information blackout
was performed to prevent the leak of advanced technology that may
again cause mayhem on the world stage. However, the president’s
current workload and the complex process of presenting certain
information to the public is said to be the real cause.

Lifestyle and Industry
The curved, translucent parts in the tall, orderly lined
buildings gives Esthar City the appearance of a futuristic city.
The streets and floors of buildings are kept so meticulously clean
that the long robes serving as the national dress are guaranteed
not to become dirty; also, travel around the city is facilitated
by floating on plate lifters in the pipes throughout the city --
and due to such high technology being utilized for traveling about
the city, it is apparent that it has permeated to the daily level.
In addition to those involved in the military and administrative
affairs, there are those dedicated to the advancement of
technologoy, as well as the research of magic and mechanical
engineering. Due partly to the introduction of computers in the
buying and selling of commodities, the shopping mall area in the
eastern part of the city doesn’t contain the crowds seen in foreign
countries.

Military
Possessing a powerful army utilizing high-tech technology, Esthar’s
military power exceeds that of the large country, Galbadia, in the
west. Soldiers combat proficiency is enhanced by the suits they
wear, and they wield tuning swords that have built-in shotguns. By
means of advancement in the development of mechanized soldiers, it
is anticipated that they will rise to the level of serving as the
standard units, allowing citizens to be released from military
service. The country once possessed the enormous device that can
induce the Lunar Cry, but during the transition from dictatorship
to republic, it was cast to the bottom of the sea. The former state
of affairs in Esthar is largely unknown to its younger generation,
who serve as much of the current army; there’s a common concern that
they rely too much on the enhancement suits and that refinement of
their natural strength is neglected.
----

Centra

History
Approximately 400 years ago, the nation that would leave behind the
name of the Centra civilization came to be. Due to destruction
caused by the Lunar Cry more than 100 years ago, it fell into ruin.
People immigrating east and west from the Centra continent founded
the nations called Esthar and the Holy Dollet Empire.

Geography and Foreign Relations
Possessing territory in every continent of the world, most was 
ocated in the south, with the center of Centra civilization and
culture believed to have been toward the middle, where ancient ruins
are. Their name is the Centra Ruins. Northwest of the ruins is an
area of ocean where there was great damage caused by the Lunar Cry,
having extreme effects on the surrounding coastline. In order to
excavate a strange crystalline object believed to have fallen from
the moon at the time of the Lunar Cry, Esthar troops were stationed
here some ten-odd years ago. This would lead to Lunatic Pandora. In
the present, almost no one visits Centra.

Lifestyle and Industry
As most of the land has been ruined, permanent settlers are few.
Following the direct hit of the Lunar Cry, all survivors evacuated
to the mobile shelters. It would appear that there was high
industrial productivity prior to the downfall.

[Translator's notes:
-This section has two blunders related to the timeline.
"Approximately 400 years ago" should be "Approximately 4000 years
ago," as in the in-game Tutorial's "Centra Civilization" entry.
Also, the same entry from the game identifies Centra being destroyed
by the Lunar Cry only 80 years ago, as opposed to "more than 100
years ago"
-The "mobile shelters" the surviving people of Centra used to
evacuate the continent were obviously the Gardens
-When this section says that the Esthar troops were stationed
"here," it literally means "here." While it wasn't entirely clear
in-game, the Lunatic Pandora Excavation Site is located at the
northern end of that gulf northwest of the Centra Ruins. A map on
pg. 387 of the book identifies it as the area Laguna, Kiros and Ward
infiltrated during the game's second dream/flashback sequence
-This confirms for us that the Crystal Pillar fell from the moon to
the planet at the time of the Lunar Cry which destroyed the Centra
Civilization. Though that was always assumed by many players, I
believe, this spells it outright]
----

Trabia

History
The country on the northern continent. It has little land suited for
residence, and many peaceful years have gone by without it being the
target of foreign invasion. Trabia Crater, near the border of Esthar,
is a site where the Lunar Cry once fell.

Geography and Foreign Relations
Due to the majority of the territory being covered in snow and much
of it inaccessible because of many connected mountains, few people
visit from overseas. Many of those who graduate from Trabia Garden
become soldiers in the domestic army and officers who train soldiers.

Lifestyle and Industry
The pupils and personnel of Trabia Garden comprise most of the
citizenry. Due to the few residences, the population is small. Due to
the low temperatures and equally low yields of crops that result
from them, there is much research into advanced agricultural methods.
Reflecting their unique culture, inhabitants have a distinct Trabia
dialect. On the northern island, the Shumi Tribe have their village,
where they pursue a quiet lifestyle.

Military
In the event that war begins, all citizens are to be conscripted into
a national army; Trabia Garden undergoes drills for such an
occurrence. However, as the country is located in such a remote
region, there has never been a need yet for a national army to be
gathered for war.

Village of the Shumi Tribe
The Shumi Tribe and Moombas live in this village in northern Trabia.
Due to the harsh climate, the ground surrounding the village at the
surface level is covered with a dome. Via mining, the living space
was created 323 meters below ground. Merchants dealing in certain
stones sometimes visit.

[Translator's note: This entry confirms what I think many of us had
long suspected -- that the Trabia Crater was caused by the Lunar
Cry.]
---------------------------------------

Keyword Guide

From the "World & Character" chapter, these are all of the book's
term entries (pp. 41-45), translated primarily by Squall_of_SeeD.
The "Sorceresses" entry and all of the "Magic" entry but its final
paragraph were translated several years ago by DarkAngel, then a
staff member of Adventchildren.net, and still owner of the Gunshot
Romance website, using the FFVIII Ultimania guide purchased by
Squall_Of_Seed.

----
Garden

On the basis of a growing concern, the Kramers established a private
soldier training academy. Those trained here are known as
professionals for their elite combat ability. 12 years ago, at the
beginning, Balamb Garden was established; Galbadia Garden and Trabia
Garden were opened together next. Each Garden has a Garden master of
administrative matters, as well as a headmaster of academic affairs.
Balamb Garden functions as the main campus and sets the example;
entry into Garden is available to males and females between 5 and 15
years of age; the drive to improve one’s abilities is also an
essential condition. After demonstrating sufficient ability under
Garden’s instruction and receiving a campus’s approval, students
15-19 years old are eligible for graduation (graduation must be
achieved by one’s 20th birthday, or they are dismissed from the
school; remaining in the school after turning 20 is possible for
graduated SeeDs). Many graduates are enlisted in armies around the
world and actively involved in the war industry.
----

Balamb Garden

The central figure of the three schools. Wrapped in an atmosphere
of freedom, conduct and attire are left to the discretion of the
pupils. Counting the headmaster’s office and the Master Room, four
floors comprise the school building, with the dormitories and
cafeteria on the first floor, where pupils spend most of their
time.

On the second floor are the classrooms and their tutorial panels,
from which the campus network can be accessed. Because 24-hour
training facilities are available, pupils’ interest in battle is
high, and many take part in official grapple athletic festivals.
Many students are also active in sports clubs they’ve formed.
----

Galbadia Garden

This Garden is the largest of the three schools. With the
headmaster and Garden master roles both filled by Martine,
relations with the Galbadian government are very strong.
Possessing a tradition of strict discipline, silence is
maintained around the campus, such that even whispering is
prohibited.

Uniforms are standard attire, and jerseys and headgear are wore
during exercises. There is a skating rink within the school, and
ice hockey and figure skating are common club activities. Because
many graduates are placed in fortunate positions, large amounts
of money and weaponry are donated to the school from the country,
and there is aggressive investment in the facility.
----

Trabia Garden

The Garden in Trabia. Having the greatest school spirit, pupils
have a strong sense of independence. During times of problematic
behavior, instructors make pupils stand in a row and recite the
motto, “Take Care of Oneself.”

Due to student council officials having difficulty drawing up a
rule manual, the appearance of things is often that the younger
generation is in charge. On the sports front, basketball is
popular, and rallies are held regularly. The colors of their
uniforms are unlike the other Gardens, having a light grey
foundation.
----

SeeD

Codename of the mercenaries employed by Balamb Garden. Consists
of those pupils within Garden who possess the greatest ability,
and handle duties such as combat support. In order to become a
SeeD, one must pass the two-stage written and field exams
(candidates qualify for examination at 15 years of age). Those
recognized as SeeDs perform their duties in accordance with
dispatch requests, while salaries -- stipulated by SeeD rank --
are payed in fixed periods. The SeeD name is derived from being
brought up by Cid like seeds in gardens; they have a “fate” they
shoulder, though not necessarily just as conducting themselves as
mercenaries.
----

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Scan.jpg
--

Sorceresses

Said to have existed from time immemorial to the present day, the sorceresses
are women who are said to have received their powers from the old god, Hyne.
There is, however, no hard evidence to support this claim. Extraordinarily
powerful, many sorceresses have harboured ambitions to rule over the world --
as a result, many people have come to equate the Sorceress with fear. However,
there are also many Sorceresses who have chosen to live a quiet life sheltered
away from civilized society; as such, the actual number of Sorceresses and the
amount of power shared between them remains unknown.

The potential to become a sorceress is determined by one's capacity to wield
such power -- their natural affinity for magic. This factor helps to determine
Sorceress candidates for when a Sorceress passes on all of her power into the
next Sorceress. The giving and receiving of power can be made between any two
individuals -- it is not necessary for them to be related by blood. A
Sorceress' lifespan is the same as a normal human's, however they cannot die
until they have passed on their power to the next Sorceress.
----

Magic

A special power that can only be used by Sorceresses. The magic that is used
by human beings is referred to as para-magic. Discovered by Doctor Odine
during the course of his Sorceress research, para-magic via junctioning GF
is used by Balamb Garden.

While it is possible to use para-magic without prior training, without
equipping a GF one’s power is limited physically, and cannot develop beyond
normal parameters. However, in order to create forces capable of fighting
without having to rely on the power of the GFs during combat, Galbadia
Garden has instituted areas with special anti-magic force fields similar
to those used in the D-District Prison.

Related to magic is an invention of Dr. Odine -- the famous Odine
Goods, which have a function that suppresses magical power.
----

Junctioning

Uniting an organism with a non-corporeal entity and magic. The magic of
junctioning is practiced by those who equip GFs; the consciousness of
one human can’t be connected to another without an intermediary with a
special ability. If the Junction Machine developed by Dr. Odine is used to
perform such a function, the same effect is achieved, though the device is
currently still in the trial stages.

Someone whose mind is being junctioned to by another -- in other words,
the person on the receiving end of the junction -- may experience a
sensation like the sound of people chattering entering their head.
However, the junctioned consciousness will likely be unable to put what
has happened into words. In addition, the body of the person on the
broadcast end of the junctioning will fall into a comatose state, with
their consciousness gaining a clear view of circumstances on the end of
the person they’re being junctioned to.

An effective method exists for the deliberate interference with a
consciousness and junction magic, performed by means of accumulating
specific materials that interfere in the transfer of powerful waves.
----

Jamming

The worldwide jamming that spread 17 years ago. As all frequencies
became filled with noise, and the radio waves that had been the routine
means of communication became impossible to use. Presently, HD (Hyper
Data) cables stretched along the underground are the primary means of
communication, though areas are often cut off from the cable network
due to battles and the behavior of monsters; not all areas above
ground are connected. If the restoration of a radio wave-related
facility is conducted, a brief radio broadcast is possible, but as it
has no practical use, it is rarely performed.
----

Guardian Forces (GF)

Each possessing special characteristics and appearing in the forms of
beasts and fairies, mighty autonomous energy bodies. Existing in
specific places (energy fields), they can reside within objects and
living organisms, and furthermore, may be junctioned, bringing 2 kinds
of beings together. If the other organism possesses a comparable
consciousness, most lose their solid forms and can only manifest for
limited periods of time.

Equipping GFs is possible through the magic of junctioning,
substantially enhancing the body’s functions. However, the GF takes
up residence in the mind of the person to whom it’s equipped; this
person should be prepared for the loss of some memories. For that
reason, the use of GFs has many voices of criticism, and within
Garden, which trains battle professionals, Balamb Garden is the only
school where the use of GFs has been approved.
----

Tears of the Moon [(Lunar Cry)]

A cycle said to have begun tens of thousands of years ago, a
phenomenon in which monsters fall from the moon to the planet. The
moon is the den of monsters, while humans inhabit the planet; a
product of gravity, in a phenomena similar to the pull on the tides,
when the moon’s surface reaches its saturation point with monsters,
the group spills and falls to the surface of the planet below. The
monsters fall like the tears of the moon, and are not incapable of
causing enormous damage to the surface sufficient to destroy an
entire nation, depending on the scale of the event. As well, the
natural terrestrial flora and fauna in an ecosystem may change
drastically; many are the creatures that have been changed by the
touch of the monsters of the moon.

In modern times, high-tech science is able to predict where the
Lunar Cry will fall, but a perfect method of controlling it has not
been established. For that reason, the existence of the crystalline
object known as the “Crystal Pillar,” which is capable of inducing
the Lunar Cry, is extremely dangerous.
----

Shumi Tribe

A race with white-skinned bodies and large hands. Their village is
located on Winter Island in northern Trabia, where they carry out
a rather isolated lifestyle. A distinction of their race is that
their exterior appearance is dependent on their inner nature, and
they will metamorphose come a certain time. Each pursues their
personal interest in a particular art, and is given the name of
whatever hobby they have.
----

Moombas

A race possessing pointy, fiery hair across their bodies, as well
as pretty eyes. They have a fondness for cleaning, and have a
habit of sweeping spots where dust accumulates with their tails.
They are extremely cautious and a bit cowardly, but have a strong
sense of justice, and, once given a favor, won’t forget it for
the rest of their lives. They remember the taste of someone’s
blood, and can recognize them even after the passage of time and
change of appearance. The race’s enthusiasm for the production of
their characteristic orange forms is reflected in their
appearances.
----

Timber Maniacs, Ltd.

A major publisher established in Timber. 20 years ago, Timber
Maniacs Magazine went into print; afterward, a variety of
publications have come along, increasing on into the present.

Timber Maniacs is both the name of the company and its first
magazine; product of the ambition of a young journalist, as its
popularity became high, its circulation expanded. However, as
the Galbadia government feared the distribution of
countergovernment sentiments, it imposed a temporary ban on the
sell of the magazine at its peak, forcing it to change its
coverage in current times. Presently, the Battle Series is a
more practical imprint, and constitutes the majority of the
company’s sales.
----

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Scan2.jpg
--

Gunblade

Combining the sword with a standard shotgun's mechanisms, the Gunblade is a
unique weapon. If you pull the trigger while the bullet is "set," a strong
wave of power will travel down to the edge of the blade, raising the attack
power of the Gunblade. By pulling the trigger at the right time, one can
release a powerful attack; however, achieving competency in usage of the
Gunblade is very difficult and therefore requires a high degree of aptitude.
----

Cards

Cards used in a competitive game in which they are arranged on a 3×3
surface. They originated from the magician Orlan modifying cards used in
fortune-telling for use in a game, coining the official name “Triple
Triad.” Initially played among soldiers, they spread to the common people
and today are widely used for entertainment among men and women of all
ages.
----

Balamb Fish

Found around the coast of Balamb, a large fish with turqoise scales. Due
to its amazing flavor, it’s known as one of the 3 Great Delicacies of the
World. Among the other 3 Great Delicacies of the World are the wind cacti
that dwell in Galbadia’s arid regions, the famous West Cactus. The sweet
pulp of its flesh is highly valued in the desert region.


[Translator's note: Yes, it only tells us two of the 3 Great Delicacies.]
----

Trepe Fan Club

A fan club for Quistis formed within Balamb Garden. They record her
battle activity in great detail. Membership numbers are growing, and
currently stand at 28 members.
----

Goodbye, Pupurun

Depiction of the story of the small sprite Pupurun rendered into the
language of humans. It's part of the Balamb Garden library's collection
of books, but Raijin borrowed it and never returned it. Its sequel, "We
Meet Again, Pupurun," was not as successful as the first work, being an
obligatory production with poor content.
----

T-Board

A skateboard capable of traveling through the air at low altitudes, the
“T” comes from the first letter of the word “Turbine.” Its use is banned
within Garden.
----

OCS

An optical camoflage system developed by Esthar. By projecting its
hexagonal plates around an area, objects even the size of a city can be
hidden.
----

Spaceship Ragnarok

Built based on the ancient Centra legend of the “Dragon Ship,” it is
the world’s greatest airship. With its distinct multiple fuselage, it
was the flagship of the country that owned it while still active.

In order to be able to perform its agile maneuvers, its fuselage is
equipped with an array of jet propulsion nozzles. Sudden acceleration
and turns are facilitated by eruptions in the large output mechanism
of the rear fuselage, while the finer adjustments of direction and
altitude control are moderated via the upper fuselage. A full crew
includes the four positions of ship master, pilot, co-pilot (doubles
as radio operator), and gunner, though it’s possible to transport up
to 10 additional personnel. Via coordination of data input with the
airstation, excellent fully automated navigation is possible, and it’s
also capable of breaking through the atmosphere.

Data
Maximum displacement: 3,450t
Length: 108m
Width: 77m
Height: 54m (at rest)
65m (when flying)
Main armament: 609mm charged particle beam x1
Secondary armament: 152mm multi-barreled lazers x2
Main system: Reaction-model 12-step compression turbines (22,500kg
propulsion) x2
Auxillary engines: Reaction-model 6-step compression turbines (2,480kg
propulsion) x4
Top speed: 11.8km/s
----

Other Vehicles

Intercontinental Railroad

Trains powered by a turbine mechanism, their railroad cars’ coloring
differs depending on the travel region. Comprised of four cars, they
are used for many purposes. There’s also passenger cars with
interiors customized for special customers, such as the president’s
private car and the cabin provided for SeeD’s personal use, which had
an extravagent design.
--

Garden Vehicles

Classic-style cars with unique coloring. On the side of its frame are
characters identifying the timing of each vehicle’s making for
Garden. Because of their long length, there’s space to seat six
occupants in the back of the vehicles. Passengers won’t experience
much jostling during transit.
--

Galbadian Troop Vehicles

Armored vehicles used by Galbadian troops. The power behind the
motion drive is the same for all of them,  but different kinds have
different numbers of turbine engines and have them installed in
different places (the grey cars have one installed in the front,
while the khaki cars have two installed in the back). Primarily khaki
cars are deployed to the missile base.
--

Timber Rollcars & Timber Monorails

Trains and monorails that travel through Timber. Composed of 3 cars
each, there are many of them. The roll cars were given a flush and
crisp design, while the monorails have more curved appearances.
Local residents coming and going from the TV station make use of
the roll car lines.

--

High-Speed Landing Boats

High-mobility landing boats owned by Balamb Garden. They have
electronic boards used for preparations in their war rooms, which
can seat six people during meetings. Able to break through water at
a rapid pace, the ships have a strong exterior, and the machine guns
on top of the hull have sufficient power to penetrate the armor of
the Galbadian army’s mobile weapons.
---------------------------------------

[From the bestiary information about the first group of witches fought in
Time Compression; pg. 243]
Successive generations of witches from beyond space and time.
----

[From the bestiary information about the second group of witches fought in
Time Compression; pg. 244]
One form of the successive generations of witches who appear in the Time
Compressed World.
---------------------------------------

Throughout the FFVIII Ultimania's "Scenario" chapter are diary-like
entries reflecting the thoughts of the game's characters at that
point in the story. The following is a translation by DarkAngel of
the final entry (pg. 303) -- which is, ironically, a posting to Selphie's
online diary at Balamb Garden:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Scan3.jpg
--

Latest Diary Entry (Public)

Finally, we arrived at Ultimecia's castle. Inside, there were a lot of traps
waiting for us! Our futures were hinged in the balance -- could we do this?

...you know, I just thought of something right now. What was Ultimecia
thinking? She was trying to survive in the only way she knew how, I think. Was
she trying to reach all the way out to the past to compress time, so that she
could try to erase the fate she knew was in store for her...? Thinking about
it that way, maybe what I'm writing is one-sided.

Okay, moving on! If any of you want to ask me in person, I'll always be
around! Think of it as a treat from your local, friendly Garden Festival
Committee Director!

Oh, and I wanted to talk about Seifer too. I know a lot of people might still
be harbouring a grudge against him, but he's got nowhere to go, so I feel
sorry for him. He lost his sanity back then (Hmm...), so let's just leave him
alone, okay? Fujin and Raijin, too. Okay?

Aaah! I can't believe it's this time already! The party's going to start soon!
The video camera's not even done charging yet! I've got to change, too! Hurry!
Until next time!
---------------------------------------

Additionally, Squall_Of_SeeD has translated the following interesting section
found at the very back of the Ultimania (pp. 478-479): 

----
EPILOGUE
A Day of Instruction at Garden
text by Kazushige Nojima

Good morning.
Well, today is the tale of witches, eh?
To be clear, this won’t be on the test.
So, those of you who want to ignore the teacher will be alright.
If you study something else, that’s fine.
I think knowledge of this witch stuff will be interesting to all of you,
though, as it involves real magic.
Also, this witch story is one your teacher personally likes very much, so
please try to maintain your attention and lend me your ear for a little while.

Well, let’s begin.
First, when talking about witches, there’s a text that can’t be left out; I’ll
read it, ok?

Starting.

"At this time, daylight had not yet come, and everything was covered in night.

There was a being called ‘Hyne.’
‘Hyne’ created the world, and battled many beasts all the while.
‘Because of the magic ‘Hyne’ used, he was able to win the battles with this
power eventually.
Thus, ‘Hyne’ was the governor of this world.

‘Hyne’ seated himself upon his throne, from where he thought he could see all
around.
However, from the location of his throne, ‘Hyne’ was unable to view the
eastern sea because of a mountain.
Because of his long battles, ‘Hyne’ had become too tired to destroy the
mountain and needed a tool to carve it up; he had an idea of what to apply to
this task.
This tool would be able to function of its own accord, and be able to increase
its own numbers.
‘Hyne’ named these tools human beings.
Their males and females are the origin of human beings, and we descended from
them.

The human beings increased their numbers while carving up the mountain.
When their work was finished, they decided to ask ‘Hyne’ what they should do
next.
However, ‘Hyne’ was sound asleep due to his fatigue.
There being nothing they could do about it, the human beings made changes to
the land at their own discretion.

When ‘Hyne’ awoke, the appearance of the area had completely changed.
He was most startled, though, by the number of human beings there were now.
‘Hyne’ decided to reduce the number of human beings, and used his magic to
burn up smaller humans.
The small human beings were called ‘children,’ and were very important to the
humans.
They wept intensely and protested to ‘Hyne.’
However, he told him they were his tools, and his words angered them.
They cursed his words when they heard them.

The humans began a rebellion against ‘Hyne.’
He retaliated with his magic, but the humans were able to increase their
numbers in abundance.

Besieged, ‘Hyne’ bargained with the humans.
He offered them half of his own body and power. At the idea of having half of
this power, the humans decided they should agree to the deal.

‘Hyne’ split his body in half and gave half to the humans.
With this, a peace was drawn between ‘Hyne’ and the humans.
However, humans began to quarrel with one another for the first time, coming
together in groups that wanted the power of ‘half of Hyne’s body.’

A long, long battle began.
Many countries were established at this time.

The battle was eventually won by the clan of the dark king, Zebalga. Within a
forest, they convened to command the power of ‘half of Hyne’s body.’
However, the ‘half of Hyne’s body’ was unresponsive to their commands.

Sage Vascaroon came to consult with Zebalga.
He was wise, and knew the answer to the problem with ‘half of Hyne’s body.’
‘Hyne’ had given them a corrupted part of his body.
What the humans had thought was ‘half of Hyne’s body’ was really just the
‘cast off skin of Hyne.’
When they heard this explanation, the Zebalga clan was furious.
They vowed to destroy ‘Hyne.’

However, the other half of Hyne’s body was nowhere to be found.
The humans began referring to the missing ‘Hyne’ as ‘Hyne the Magician,’ and
sought him for generations."

This text comes from those claimed to have descended from Sage Vascaroon, and
is part of the compilation "The Legend of Vascaroon."
After this part, it talks about Vascaroon’s many inventions and great
achievements, but Hyne doesn’t appear again.
Must be due to the author forgetting midway, huh?

Ah, what a shame.
This is, of course, folklore and hasn’t been verified by science.
Even now, the author can only be speculated.
It probably arose from various stories of the time being combined.
If you believe this book, Sage Vascaroon lived 980 years!
Hm? That’s strange, right?

Eh? Was Sage Vascaroon telling the truth about Hyne’s magic?
Ahahahaha.
Well, it’s impossible to prove, so even if you advocate this theory, you
shouldn’t teach high school students to believe in it, huh?

Well, there are people who believe the magic of Hyne is the origin of witches.
Witches actually exist.
There are various studies into their origin, but your teacher likes the "magic
of hyne=witches" theory. Yes, that’s so, isn’t it?
It’s impossible to demand the origin of folklore, but it didn’t come from
zero, just as life didn’t come from nothing.
Therefore, I think there’s a bit of truth, even in legend.
No, I guess you could say I hope so?

Ah, let’s change the subject, shall we?
Let me introduce you to the "magic of Hyne=witches" theory.

Well, the word "witch" as it’s commonly used was designated by the scholar
Temu about 500 years ago.
Temu combined folklore, legend and known facts, and is referred to as a
historical scholar by story writers.
Because of that, I like this Temu out of respect for his resolve as such a
strange, daring scholar.

Temu recorded this in his own work, "The Whereabouts of Hyne."

"It’s to be expected that the ‘magic of Hyne’ could not be found.
Because of people’s feelings at that time, it concealed itself in bodies, in
the form of women, people who it was thought should be protected.
Occasionally, women played important roles in history, but I think this was
the ‘magic of Hyne.’
Whether it is the descendant individuals who are in control, or the ‘magic of
Hyne’ itself will be made clear with future research.
The ‘magic of Hyne’ in the form of women.
I name these ‘witches.’"

What does this explanation entail, huh?
You might say it has a negative connotation, which certainly has a simple
persuasive power, right?
There is no evidence of what Temu asserted.
I still include it, though.

Eh? What became of the ‘cast off skin of Hyne’?
You can discuss that for classwork.
This is very, very interesting!
You can inquire about that name for geology classwork, right?

Ahahahaha.
We’re getting off the lesson plan, aren’t we, so let’s return to the tale of
witches.

Lately, witches have been involved more and more in historical developments.
Yes?
Current witches?
Historically, there have been many witches, so it’s not clear how many exist.
This is part of why they’re considered a problem.
Basically, witches hide themselves from society, it is said.
For example, hm?
Even though Dr. Kadowaki understands witches, does everyone?
Hm? Generally, has that been a greeting up ’til now?
Yes, yes, it has been, hasn’t it?
However, such people don’t exist.
Yep, even on the part of the witches, that one’s a problem.
There have been many witches who abused the power of their magic.
Oh, oh, this brings up another opportunity for us.
Why is it that everyone has such an interest in the witches?
If there are enough of you, I could make a witch research club.

Okay, let’s return to the main subject.

Historically, there have been 3 important witches.
Ah, some time ago, I mentioned them.
Their names will be on the test.

Ahahaha, though there may not be many that easy.

Well.

One witch is said to have, in ancient times, stood up for the sake of the
people in a country at the time of its collapse.
A movie was made about this witch and her knight, Zefer, which I think a lot
of people have probably seen, huh?

Next was the witch who divided the world at the time of the Sorceress War.
She was a terrible witch.

And then, who’s the one most familiar to us?

Yes, yes, it is.
This witch cooperated in research on the mechanics of magic, thanks to which
everyone can use magic, huh?

That?
Thaaat?
That time already?
Your teacher talks herself into a daze.
Squandered our available time.

It can’t be helped, so have a good day.
Prepare your memory for the names of the three witches.
Well, see you tomorrow."
----

[Translator's notes:
-The part where the teacher is asked about a "greeting" probably refers to
"Hyne's descendant," which Rinoa was addressed with by the Esthari officials
who took her into custody during the game.
-The three witches said to be of historical significance are most likely, in
this order:
1) The unnamed witch who was the focus of the film Laguna starred in -- the
same film that ironically inspired Seifer's "romantic dream" of becoming a
witch's knight (this inspiration was confirmed on pg. 29 of the FFVIII
Ultimania)
2) Adel, of course; she's the one who started the Sorceress War
3) The last is likely to be Edea. She and Odine obviously already know one
another during the stage of the game where you travel to Esthar -- the Esthari
officials who greet her do so by name, and she tells Squall to trust Odine
when he says he wants to observe Rinoa -- so it’s safe to assume that it was
she who cooperated with him in the development of para-magic
-If this story reads kind of strangely, it’s in part because I didn’t go to
any great, painful lengths to smooth out the language, and probably also
because we’re only privy to the teacher’s words. The students’ input isn’t
in the text, and can only be guessed based on what the teacher says in
response]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------


The following are Squall_of_SeeD's translations from some of the character
profiles for FFVIII characters from this Ultimania.

~FF20th Anniversary Ultimania File 1: Character~
Edea [pg. 253]
The witch who is controlled by a will of hatred

Shattering a long silence, a beautiful witch who appeared on the
world’s stage. She approached President Vinzer Deling of Galbadia, who
was scheming world domination, and -- as the trump card of that ambition
-- was appointed the position of ambassador; she murdered Deling during
her inaugural address and immediately settled into her new seat of
leadership, seizing full authority.

Burning with intense hatred toward SeeD, she ordered an attack by
missiles against Balamb and Trabia Gardens. Converting Galbadia Garden
into a mobile stronghold and mobilizing it into direct combact with
Balamb Garden, which escaped the missiles, she tried to erase
everything to do with SeeD.

She was thought to be a wicked being, but after Squall’s team defeats
her in battle, her witch powers are separated from her and she regains
her sanity. Originally, she was a kind-hearted woman who raised
orphans, until she became a slave to the witch of the future,
Ultimecia.

[Caption next to a screenshot of Edea giving her speech]
After murdering Deling, she used her magical powers -- specifically,
a fascination technique -- to drive the assembled populace into a
frenzy.

[Translator's note: This confirms what many fans have long believed:
that the crowd at the speech were so excited in part because Ultimecia
was using her magic on them.]

[Caption next to a screenshot of Squall and his team talking with
Edea at the ruins of her orphanage]
Having become a completely different person, Edea reveals the truth.
At one time, she was the foster mother to the orphans, and was called
Matron.

Impressive Words
“You don’t want to be a boy anymore?
“Come with me to a place of no return. Bid farewell to your childhood.”
-Timber: When recruiting Seifer

“I shall dance for eternity as the witch who brings you dread!
You and I.
Together, we shall create the final fantasy.
Within are life and death and sweet dreams.”
-Deling City: After murdering President Deling

[Translator's note: This is from Edea's speech in Deling City,
obviously, and just as obviously, it's significantly different from
the speech found in the English version. In fact, this speech may be
the biggest change in the script I've run across. I'll include the
entirety of the Japanese version of Edea's speech in this entry:

Ultimecia (as Edea): "......It reeks.  Filthy fools.  Since time immemorial, 
              we witches have lived within illusion.  The foolish fantasy you 
              produced.  Adorning their bodies in dreadful costumes, the 
              witches who curse virtuous humans by means of cruel rituals. 
              The terrible witch who burns your green fields and freezes your
              warm home with ruthless magic.  ......Worthless.  Now that the 
	witch from the illusion  is come to be seen as a friend of Galbadia, you sigh 
              in relief?  Who is dreaming fantasy after fantasy?"

President Deling: "E...Edea... Just what...? Ede......!"

(She telekinetically lifts Deling into the air and begins killing him with her
magic.)

Ultimecia (as Edea): "Reality is not at all gentle.  That being the case, you 
              fools! There is nothing for you but this!"

(She telekinetically throws Deling's lifeless body.)

Ultimecia (as Edea): "Escape into your own fantasies! I shall continue to dance
	for your world of illusions!  I shall dance for eternity as the witch who
	brings you dread!  You and I.  Together, we shall create the final fantasy.
	Within are life and death and sweet dreams.  The witch travels towards
	the eternal illusions!  The witch of the future and Galbadia on to eternity!"
----

The relevant line for this next translation is underlined in red in this scan:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/squallsmom.jpg
--

[From Raine's profile on pg. 254]
Afterward, she becomes involved with Laguna and Squall is born, though she dies
immediately after in childbirth.
----

Ellone [pg. 254]
A mysterious person who conceals a wondrous power

A little girl whose parents were killed during Esthar’s war, leading Raine to
serve as her parent. She was also close to Laguna, until taken away by Esthar as
a candidate to be Witch Adel’s successor; she would be pursued by witches for a
long time after that, and have to live a life in exile. “Connect” is what she
calls her ability to send a person’s consciousness into another person.

[Caption next to a screenshot of Squall and Ellone reuniting on the lunar base]
There was also a time she lived in Edea’s orphanage. Her departure was the
underlying cause of Squall’s difficult personality.

Impressive Words
“(I got in twouble.)”
-Winhill: While talking to Laguna

“I remember those eyes. You just looked at me with the same eyes you had when
you were little. Those curious, innocent, puppy dog eyes. I loved those eyes.”
-Lunarside Base: Said to Squall when “connecting” him to Rinoa
----

Adel [pg. 259]
Former ruler of Esthar, who turned it into the world’s enemy

Once the ruler of Esthar, she is the witch whose desire to hold ever more
power led to the great war. Due to Laguna, she was sealed in a tomb with
packing crystal technology, and banished to the void of space, where she
was kept under surveilance; however, she would eventually return to the
planet below as part of Ultimecia’s scheme.

[Caption next to a screenshot of Squall's team fighting Adel]
The awakened Adel united with Rinoa, and though her power was diminished
at the time, she still commenced battle.

Impressive Words
“You thought I would fall for that trick?”
-Esthar: When Laguna lures her in front of the hologram of Ellone
----

Ultimecia [pg. 259]
The witch of the future, who desires Time Compression

Filled with endless anger, a dreadful witch from the far future. In her
time, she used the apparatus known as “Junction Machine Ellone” -- which
allows one person’s consciousness to connect to that of another person
-- to possess witches of the world’s past as she sought to capture
Ellone, who possesses a special power.

Her ultimate goal involves using Ellone to send her consciousness to
the past so that she may begin Time Compression and institute a “singular
time.” She sought this goal in the past, in the present day of Squall and
his team; the whole of time would be compressed, giving birth to a world
where only Ultimecia could exist.

Initially, she “connected” to Edea, and via her memories, pursued
Ellone’s trail; during this time, Edea was aware of all that was taking
place, but had no control until she was defeated by Squall’s team of
SeeDs, at which point her witch powers transferred to Rinoa; at that
point, Ultimecia used Rinoa as her puppet to free the evil witch, Adel,
who had been sealed in space. Controlling the revived Adel, she again
sought to bring Ellone into her hands.

[Translator's note: It would appear that the long-held belief of many
fans that Ultimecia had taken control of Adel was on the money all
along.]

[Caption next to a screenshot of Ultimecia in her final form]
To prevent Time Compression, Squall and his team traveled to the future
and attacked Ultimecia in her previous forms. Finally, she took on this
strange appearance with no face.

[Caption next to a screenshot of Ultimecia passing her powers to Edea]
For witches, it is not possible to die while they have their powers.
Defeated, Ultimecia appeared at the orphanage of the past, and
succeeded her powers to Edea, who was already a witch.

Impressive Words
“SeeD……SeeD……SeeD, SeeD, SeeD!! I loathe you…… Why do you disturb a
witch so! Why can’t I be free?! Your existences shall be added to the
algorithm of Time Compression!!”
-Ultimecia’s Castle: At the beginning of the final battle

[Translator's note: This opening to Ultimecia's address was translated
in a significantly different manner for the English version of the
game. Personally, I much prefer the English rendition, what with the
"Kurse all SeeDs" line, and "Swarming like lokusts across generations."
Beyond the line about the "algorithm of Time Compression," everything
is pretty much communicating the same idea as in the English version --
that she'll send the SeeDs to an unpleasant realm where they will have
to worship her. Though she's a lot more vicious in her wording in the
Japanese at this point: "In intense pain, your minds shall shred and
your memories fade. There will be nothing, and no thoughts of so much
as nothing! To such a world I shall send you! You will be able to do
nothing...... Well, nothing but revere me, the eternal existence!!
Come now, who will be first? Ha, no matter who it is, it will all end
the same...... I choose you bastards."]

“I am Ultimecia. Time shall compress. All existence denied.”
-During the final battle
-------------------------------------------------------------------------


The following are Squall_of_SeeD's translations of a few excerpts from
this Ultimania.

~FF20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario~
Manmade Oceanic Research Island [(Deep Sea Research Center); pg. 245]

A solitary island located in the distant southwest ocean. A mobile
research facility dubbed with the nickname 'Battleship Island,' it was
built to navigate the seas throughout the world; though it continued
investigating a powerful energy, its whereabouts went unknown for a long
time. In a room at the bottommost level of the excavation area of the
'Ocean Stagnation' [('Deep Sea Deposit')] lurks the mighty monster
Ultima Weapon.
----

Witches [pg. 247]
Beings who inherited the undying power

Those people who have carried the "Witch Power" inside them since
ancient times. This immortal power is passed from person to person,
though witches are unable to die when on the verge of death unless they
succeed the power to another. Those who become witches inherit powerful
magic, and in cases where the successor has a wicked heart, they may
attempt to become a mighty dictator whom none can contend with. This has
happened twice in history, and, thus, witches are feared and have become
detested.

[Caption next to an FMV render of Edea]
There is not one incarnation of the Witch Power only, for several have
been carried throughout the world. However, due to the fear and
persecution they face, many witches do not show themselves, and
establishing their total number is difficult. It is a rare case to
inherit another witch's power after one has already become a witch, as
Edea did.
----

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/Griever-1.jpg
--

Griever [pg. 247]
Legendary lion praised as the king of beasts

The animal called a lion doesn't exist in this world beyond the imagination.
This aloof figure is attractive to Squall, featured on his Gunblade and
accessories, and firmly locked in the foundation of his mind.

[Caption of a screenshot featuring Griever being summoned]
The witch Ultimecia materializes Griever as a GF, pulled from an image in
Squall's mind, and utilizes him in battle.
----

The relevant line in question for this next translation is underlined in
red on the left side of this page's scan:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/
lastwitchandsquall.jpg
--

[pg. 268]
Rinoa is separated from Adel when she is toppled, and Ultimecia then
possesses Rinoa, who has become the last witch of this era.
----

The relevant line in question for this next translation is underlined in
red on the right side of this page's scan:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/
lastwitchandsquall.jpg
--

[pg. 268]
Around that time, Raine gives birth to the child she conceived with
Laguna, and he is named Squall.
----

The relevant lines in question for these next two translated lines are
underlined in red:

[pg. 269]
After the successive generations of witches, the final battle with Ultimecia 
awaits.

...

In the place where all space combines, the witches of all eras attack.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------


----------------------------------------------------
~Miscellaneous Information~ [AD3]
----------------------------------------------------

Here follows a compilation of various pieces of information found in the game
you might not have noticed. This list is courtesy of Leuchest/The Dark Legend.

-------------------------
* Sorceress Knight Movie
-------------------------

Balamb Garden Students: 
"By the way...About the movie we want to go see..."
"Oh, I'll watch anything."
"I wanna see an action movie!"
"No way! We just saw one last week."
"I'm up for a comedy today."
"Or how 'bout that movie about the sorceress and the knight!?"
"Oh, you mean that remake?"
"I've never actually sat through the whole movie."

This is a reference to Laguna's movie. Whether his was the original or the 
remake is unknown.

------------------------------------
* History Classes in Balamb Garden
------------------------------------

Balamb Garden Student:
"I have a question for ya! Esthar was the country that was governed by this 
evil sorceress way back when, right?"
"So what happened to this sorceress? Did someone overthrow the sorceress? Did 
we learn about this in class?"
"I think I cut class that day, so, like, I have no idea what this sorceress is
about."

No, the outcome of the Sorceress War is not known to the public. If you ask 
General Caraway in the second disc, or read Selphie's diary, they too, have 
no clue what happened after the war, as Esthar closed its borders.

----------------------------------------
* Communication throughout the World
----------------------------------------

Balamb Garden Student:
"Worldwide signal interference. It started without warning 17 years ago."
"That's why we communicate online, and use chocobos as messengers now."
"That's why there's no reason to get the tower up and running."

Communication online is done through HD cables, often destroyed by monsters. 

---------------------
* Anarchist Monthly
---------------------

[Anarchist Monthly] First Issue!!!
"Galbadia's dictator, President Vinzer Deling Special! How does he stay on 
power?"
"We reveal his darkest secrets!!!"

[Anarchist Monthly] 2nd Issue!
"President Deling became the president after the 2nd Sorceress War ended."
"To gain support quickly, he carried out the invasion of Timber."
"It was only a ploy to decorate an already corrupted man's immoral career..."
"Our land Timber was brutally destroyed."
"Here began Vinzer Deling's road to dictatorship..."

[Anarchist Monthly] 3rd Issue!
"To imprison anti-government sympathizers, the D-District Prison was built in 
the desert south of Deling City."
"Millions were spent to built the facility. The threat of being sent to the 
prison intensified Deling's unpopularity."
"The prison began imprisoning Galbadian anti-government sympathizers just as 
they did in Timber."
"Moreover, the leaders of the resistance movements faced the threat of having 
family members imprisoned as well."
"Around this time, Deling began surrounding himself only with loyalists, which 
turned him into an even more fierce dictator."

[Anarchist Monthly] Final Issue!!!
"With the exception of Esthar, the Galbadian Military possesses the world's 
only long range missiles."
"Although never used in combat, their existence has become a worldwide threat."
"It is said that the missiles have the ability to hit any target with 
astounding accuracy even without using radio signals."
"Will the time come for the president to push the button!? When the time comes,
Ti..."

The articles tell us more about the D-District Prison and the Long Range 
Missiles (naturally, even before you're aware of it). It's now confirmed that 
the war fought between Esthar (under Adel's rule) and the world was known as 
the second Sorceress War. It's unknown which was the first (it may have been
a reference to the legend of the battle against Hyne himself, but there's no
way to be sure).  

--------------------------------
* Vinzer Deling's Dictatorship
--------------------------------

Member of Forest Owls:
"Did you see the clipping on the board in the conference room?"
"[Anarchist Monthly] used to write special reports about the president."
"I saw the guy who wrote for that magazine being taken away to prison."
"Being imprisoned for telling the truth...That's downright wrong!!!"
"It's not just the men who are sent to the prison."
"Deling sends women, children, the elderly...Anyone who stands against him."
"What was once a thriving resistance movement died down because of this."

This reveals us more about the D-District Prison. Contrary to what Rinoa says,
it's not just political activists that are imprisoned...

--------------------------
* Laguna Loire in Timber
--------------------------

Woman:
"Just don't scare me from behind."
"Once, I almost got hit by a train when someone tried to surprise me."
"But a very handsome young man quickly grabbed my hand and saved me..."
"If I remember correctly...his name was......Loire...I think..."

Yes, Laguna is, indeed, a very present man. 

---------------------------------
* Adel's Messages in TV Station
---------------------------------

"I'm alive"
"Bring me back there"
"I'll never let you forget me"

If you examine the static on the big TV screen in Timber, before Seifer
attacks the President, you will see these sentences repeating constantly.
They are from Adel, and result from Adel's Seal causing interference in
radio waves on earth. 

------------------------
* Laguna's Inventions...
------------------------

Soldier:
"The president asks for the weirdest things."
"This time, he wants a device that allows you to scratch anywhere on your 
body."
"You know, so that you don't have to reach with your hands."

Just some minor details. Not relevant at all, but somehow interesting, 
nevertheless. 

----------------------------
* Adel's Sealing Mechanism
----------------------------

Crew Member:
"17 years ago, Esthar was a country ruled by the evil Adel and feared by 
many."
"The perfect gravitational balance between the moon and the stars makes this 
an ideal place to seal Adel and her powers."

Researcher:
"The sealing mechanism is made of a special material."
"It seals Adel's powers, and at the same time prevents any means of outside 
contact."
"Radio waves, sound waves, telepathic waves, junctions, you name it."
"The signals from our wave jamming system are so powerful that it affects 
radio waves down on the planet."

Explanation on Adel's Tomb: how it works and why it affects the radio waves 
in the planet.

---------------------------
* Space Suit Information
---------------------------

Piet:
"The life-support system in that suit lasts 20 minutes."
"The reserve tank will give her an extra 5 at the most."
"It's unfortunate, but it can't be helped."

If you decide to clock the time, as soon as Rinoa uses her reserve tank, until
she enters the Ragnarok, the time should round between 5:30 and 6:00. 
Nice detail :)

------------------------------------
* Radio Waves Functioning Properly
------------------------------------

Squall:
(...a radio signal.)

Zell:
"Whoa!"
"Sorry to interrupt, but it's an emergency."
"We got radio contact from Esthar's Presidential Palace."
"They have a plan to defeat Ultimecia. They want to hire SeeD to execute it."

The radio signals start working after the Lunar Gate incident (after Adel 
being released). 

 
------------------------------------------
~Tutorial Information~ [AD4]
------------------------------------------

Here follows a compilation of everything found under Tutorial-->Information,
in the game. This list is courtesy of Leuchest/The Dark Legend.

Location Name:

Balamb
A country on the world's smallest continent. Known for its temperate climate 
and warm people. Balamb Garden adds a school-town feel to this country.

Fire Cavern
A cavern near Balamb Garden where a Fire element GF lives.

Dollet
A small country on the eastern coast of Galbadia continent (formerly Dollet). 
Remnant of an ancient empire.

Timber
A city located south of Dollet in the forest area. It was an independent 
country before neighbouring country Galbadia invaded 18 years ago. There are 
numerous resistance groups fighting for independence to this day.

Timber TV Station
All forms of communication now use HD cables. No radio transmissions are 
used. Timber TV Station keeps its radio systems, waiting for the day radio 
transmission is restored.

Galbadia
Ruled under the military dictatorship of President Vinzer Deling, this country
continues to expand its territory. Countless invasions of other countries are 
attempted, but most are deterred by SeeD. Deling City is its capital.

Tomb of the Unknown King
Located north of Deling City; the burial place of Dollet's last emperor. The 
tomb remains nameless due to an ancient belief that calling a dead king by his
name brings bad luck. There are unconfirmed reports that a GF resides inside, 
as well as other monsters.

Winhill
A small town outside of Galbadia. It is actually a small village. Sorceress 
Adel of Esthar ordered attacks on this village several times.

D-District Prison
Located in the desert south of Deling City, all people deemed dangerous by the
government are sent to this facility. It has become a symbol of President 
Deling's fascist policies.

Missile Base
Galbadia's long-range missile base. As the only country to own long range 
missiles with the exception of Esthar, they pose a major security threat to 
the world. It is believed that the missiles are armed with a target-lock 
mechanism. The details are unknown.

Horizon Bridge
A railroad that connected the East and West continents. Completed about the 
time the war broke out, it was only used a short time. Since then it has been 
derelict.

Fisherman's Horizon
A station located in the center of Horizon Bridge. It's now a haven for 
expatriates who refused to have their skills exploited by the government.

Trabia
A country on the northern continent. Due to the harsh climate, Moombas and the
Shumi tribe are the only occupants. Trabia Garden students and faculty also 
reside here.

Esthar (1)
Founded by people who immigrated to a continent east of Centra around the same 
time Dollet Empire was founded. The mild climate and temperament of the people 
soon gave way to scientific advancement.

Esthar (2)
Started the Sorceress War and fought against the world under Adel's rule. 
Their sorceress and their scientific powers posed a worldwide treat. After 
abruptly declaring an end to the war, Esthar closed its borders and has kept 
silent ever since. No details are known.

Esthar (3)
Governed by President Laguna and his aides. Due to their concern over Dr. 
Odine's inventions having a negative effect on the state of world security, 
they closed off their country for 17 years. It is very likely that President 
Laguna will be criticized for keeping silent for so long.

Seaside Station
A station on the Esthar side of Horizon Bridge. It is currently abandoned.

Great Salt Lake
A lake on the Esthar continent. What used to be a beautiful lake is now a 
barren field. It's speculated that Esthar's experiments led to the lake's 
destruction.

Moon
A world of monsters. Many works of art and epics about the moon throughout 
history are evidence of its mystical powers.

Deep Sea Research Center
A man-made mobile island for marine life research. Disappeared mysteriously 
after much wandering. Since the facility members are still alive, it is 
assumed to be concealed intentionally.

3015 Found a strong energy field
4141 Call this place Deep Sea Deposit
4242 Seal off Deep Sea Deposit

Deep Sea Deposit
Marine Research Island's last excavation site. Believed to be an ocean floor 
ruin. There is a note saying: 4127 Travel by Underwater Tower.


Term:

Draw Points
By examining the Draw Points in the field and on the world map, you can draw 
magic. The Draw Points on the World Map are completely hidden. Examine 
odd-looking areas carefully.

Time Compression
A complete mystery. Various states of "present" are believed to become 
compressed. Sorceress' power from many generations may cross over to give one 
sorceress great strength. No one knows what effect this may have on regular 
human beings.

Garden
Balamb Garden was founded 12 years ago, followed by Galbadia and Trabia 
Gardens. Each Garden has an administrator, called Master, and a headmaster. 
Balamb Garden's Headmaster Cid was founder of the Garden.

SeeD (1)
Balamb Garden's mercenary force. Students 15 and older can participate in the 
written and field exams. They must pass both exams to become SeeD. SeeD 
members are paid by the Garden according to their rank. In the Garden, their 
status is no different from that of the other students.

SeeD (2)
SeeD conducts missions around the world. Most missions involve battle support 
and undercover work. SeeD is in high demand by groups requiring a small force 
of undercover specialists. Commissions made through such dispatches are an 
important part of Balamb Garden's income.

SeeD (3)
SeeD battle operations are noted for their skillful use of para-magic. Balamb 
Garden researches the use of GF in conjunction with para-magic. For this, 
Balamb Garden SeeD members master the most powerful forms of para-magic.

SeeD Rank
Shows your skill level as a SeeD. Higher ranks command a higher salary.

SeeD Written Test
Exam to test your SeeD knowledge. After becoming a SeeD, you can take the 
tests in the Tutorial. There are up to 30 levels, with 10 questions each. All 
answers must be correct to go up a rank. However, you can only take tests up 
to Squall's level.

The truth about the Garden
A haven for orphans founded by Sorceress Edea and Headmaster Cid. Named for 
their wish to raise the seeds of the future in their garden.

Radio Interference (1)
A phenomenon beginning with Esthar's silence 17 years ago. Almost all radio 
communication facilities were shut down because of noise across all 
frequencies. However, short transmissions are still possible. Believed to have
some relation to the moon, but details are unknown.

Radio Interference (2)
Most countries now communicate through the use of HD cables running 
underground. However, many of these cables are cut off by monsters or in 
battle. Many countries are left without any means of communicating with each 
other.

Lunar Cry
Refers to monsters falling from the moon. Completely destroyed the cities of 
Centra. Occurs when monsters reach a saturation point on the moon. It's 
believed that there are factors on the planet that cause this phenomenon. 
This phenomenon has occurred many times in history and will reoccur in the 
future.

Monsters
Creatures on the moon. Monsters fall to earth at regular intervals. This 
phenomenon is called the Lunar Cry. The monsters bred on the planet since the 
last Lunar Cry to make up those roaming the planet at this time. The Lunar Cry
phenomenon also transformed some animals into monsters.

Centra Civilization
A civilization in Centra 4000 years ago. These Centra people immigrated to 
other continents and founded the Dollet Empire to the west and Esthar to the 
east. Centra was destroyed 80 years ago by the Lunar Cry.

Odine Items
A device to restrain sorceresses' power. Dr. Odine, afraid of Sorceress Adel's
power, created it. It looks like beautiful jewelry.

Sorceress
The legend goes that the Great Hyne created people. The sorceresses were given
a fragment of Hyne's own power. It's hard to determine how many sorceresses 
exist today, for many keep their powers concealed. However, it is believed 
that they avoid spreading their power too thin.

Sorceress Power & Embodiment
Sorceress power has been passed throughout history by the process of 
embodiment. Any person who has the capacity to embody the great sorceress 
power is a candidate.

Crystal Pillar
A crystal that causes the Lunar Cry by producing a strong energy field between 
the planet and the moon. It's believed to have originated in the moon. The 
Crystal Pillar responds to a specific location on the planet, and sends a 
strong directional signal. More research is required to analyse this process 
in detail.

Lunatic Pandora
An enclosure for Crystal Pillar made by Esthar. 3 miles tall and 1.5 miles 
wide, the enormous enclosure boasts a high-tech facility. It floats by causing 
a reaction with the Crystal Pillar. A stone from the moon is sealed inside. It 
was probably built to cause the Lunar Cry through artificial means.

Tears' Point
Lunar Cry's point of origin determined by Esthar scientists. A security box 
restraining the power of the Crystal Pillar and ground energy field is set up.
It is sealed to prevent the Crystal Pillar from entering the area.

Adel's Tomb
A high-tech device intended for weakening and confining a sorceress' power. 
Shot into the moon's orbit after going through a special sealing process. Used 
to confine Sorceress Adel. It is the main cause of radio interference on the 
planet.

Spaceship Ragnarok
Esthar's space shuttle. Based on an ancient Centra legend of the Dragon Ship. 
Esthar's finest scientific technology was used to build it. Esthar's flagship,
until it was used to send Adel's Tomb into space.

MD Level
Balamb Garden's foundation. The original structure of Centra Shelter remains 
almost entirely intact. Entry is strictly forbidden.

Centra Shelter
(Later became the Garden building.) Ancient Centra people spread around the 
world after Centra was destroyed by the Lunar Cry. People used mobile Centra 
Shelters to move around the world. Many ruined shelters are found around the 
world.

Timber Maniacs
A magazine representing the people's voice. It was popular among aspiring 
young journalists. Shut down after Galbadia deemed the publication dangerous.

Eyes On Me
Julia Heartilly's song. Julia married the Galbadian General Caraway after 
releasing "Eyes On Me". Gave birth to a girl one year later. Julia died in a 
car crash at age 28, right before her daughter turned 5.


Person:

Dr. Odine
Started as a monster researcher. Discovered Guardian Forces (GF). With the 
cooperation of a sorceress, became the first sorceress researcher. Analysed 
the sorceress' magic, and created a method enabling a regular human being to 
use para-magic. Balamb Garden uses the principle of para-magic, combining it 
with GF's power.

The Great Hyne
Creator of mankind, and believed to be the first sorceress. Calling a 
sorceress the Great Hyne's descendant shows great respect.

White SeeD
Orphans formerly in the care of Sorceress Edea. They often travel on their 
ship, and are veiled in secrecy.

Moomba
A mutation of some unknown animal. Details are unclear. Remembers people by 
licking their blood.

Shumi Tribe
A small tribe living in the northern region. Basically gentle in temperament, 
they maintain a relaxed lifestyle. Shumis have big, long arms that change as 
they grow. The results vary depending on their environment.

Chocobo
They live in the 7 Chocobo forests around the World. Adults and children are 
called Chocobos and Chicobos respectively. Chicobos are spotted often, whereas 
Chocobos are rarely seen. Loved for their gentle nature, Chocobos respond 
quickly to Chicobos in danger.

Mayor Dobe
The leader of Fisherman's Horizon. A strict pacifist. Before coming to FH, 
used to be a scientist conducting energy research in Esthar.


-------------------------------------------------------
~Squalls Terminal Information~ [AD5]
-------------------------------------------------------

Here follows a compilation of what we learn from using Squalls Terminal
(computer) in the beginning of the game. This compilation is yet again
courtesy of Leuchest/The Dark Legend.

The Basics

[About Magic] 
'Magic' used by ordinary people is actually 'para-magic'. In essence, it is a 
technique which involves controlling energy. 'Para-magic' was developed by Dr. 
Odine. He was the first scientist to research the nature of magic by studying 
a sorceress. The skill can be gained through proper training. However, with 
magic, it is difficult to achieve power levels that are comparable to 
conventional weapons.

[GF (Guardian Force)]
A GF is an independent energy force. By combining it with para-magic, it is 
possible to control tremendous energy. Memory loss is a possible side effect, 
but this has not been proven as of yet.

[About Sorceresses and Magic]
A woman who has inherited the power of a sorceress. The origins of the 
sorceress go back to ancient times during Hyne's reign. However, there is no 
factual evidence.


About Garden

Facility Rules

[Classroom]
-Students should be in their seats and waiting for the instructors 5 minutes 
before class.
-When class is over, proceed quietly to your next class.
-Food, weapons and magic are prohibited.
-Study panels are shared. Handle with care.

[Training Centre]
-Proceed with caution. There are real monsters in the training centre.
-It is open 24 hours. Entering the grounds for reasons other than training is 
prohibited.
-Do not engage in battles beyond your abilities.

[Infirmary]
-Visit the infirmary if you have and health concerns or problems.
-No items may be taken from the infirmary without permission.
-Follow the doctor's instructions.
-Resident Physician: Doctor Kadowaki.

[Library]
-Open Hours 
9:00 a.m.-lights out.
-Library Usage
All materials are open to the public. You may check out materials at the desk.
-Remain quiet at all times.

[Dormitory]
-Everybody is welcome to apply.
-SeeDs have priority for single rooms.
-Going out after-hours for reasons other than training is prohibited.
-Do not leave personal possessions in common areas.

[Cafeteria]
-Open Hours
9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
-Keep the area clean.
-If late-night meals are required, order them beforehand.

Student Rules

[Garden Precepts]
-Work hard
-Study hard
-Play hard

[Attire]
-In general, there is no dress code in Balamb Garden. However, dress 
accordingly if instructed to do so by your superiors.

[Reward and Punishments]
-The headmaster presents official commendations to outstanding students.
-Students who engage in violent acts, sexual promiscuity, or who fall behind 
in their curriculum, etc. may be expelled from Garden.

[Conduct]
-The skills acquired in the Garden must never be used for personal gain.
-Refrain from committing any acts that may damage the Garden's reputation.
-Take time to think things through before starting a relationship.

[Emergencies]
-Procedures in case of an emergency: If you are on 2F, use the emergency exit 
next to the classroom. If you are on 1F, exit through the front gate. All 
students must take care of junior classmen during emergencies.
-Do not use the lift during an emergency.

[Evening Outings]
-All students should be in their dorm rooms after-hours unless at the training
centre.

Admission & Graduation Info

[Admission]
-Applicants between ages 5-15 are admitted.
-All hard-working and confident youths are welcome.
-Ambitious overachievers are also welcome.
-Applicants are admitted only after passing a final interview.

[Graduation]
-Must be between 15-19 years of age.
-One must have all the required skills and knowledge taught through the Garden 
courses.
-One must have the headmaster's approval to graduate.
-At age 20, regardless of graduation all students are released from the Garden.

[Opportunities for Alumni]
-The Garden supports a program that helps graduates enlist in armies all over 
the world.
-Instructors and SeeDs are permitted to remain at the Garden. However, 
SeeDship must be attained before the age of 20.

Garden Info

[About Balamb Garden]
-Balamb Garden Headmaster
Cid Kramer
-Balamb Garden Proprietor
Master NORG
-Balamb Garden was the first Garden built in accordance with Headmaster Cid's 
ideals and dreams.

[About Trabia Garden]
-A Garden in the Trabia region. There is an exchange program between Trabia 
and Balamb Garden.

[About Galbadia Garden]
-A Garden in the Galbadia Republic. It is the largest Garden of the three. 
Galbadia Garden's master, Martine, who is also the headmaster, has setup a 
program to recruit Balamb graduates into the Galbadian Army.

SeeD Info

[What is a SeeD?]
-Balamb Garden's mercenaries. Commanding GF, they have special fighting 
abilities. They work hard in small teams and operate all over the world.

[Dispatching SeeDs]
-SeeDs are deployed all over the world. Their services are requested by 
governments and even civilians. Their tasks range from providing military 
support to protecting civilians.

[Qualifications for SeeD]
-Students can apply after the age of 15. Passing the written test and 
completing an official mission are required to become a SeeD. SeeDs are paid 
according to rank.


A Message from Garden

Garden Events
Spring   Memorial Service
		Entrance Ceremony
		SeeD Exam (Written/Field)
Summer   Garden Festival
		Summer Vacation
Autumn   Student-Sponsored Event
Winter   Winter Vacations

Cafeteria Announcements
*The competition for the hot dogs and meals is really getting out of hand. We 
are doing our best to provide everyone with enough food, so please be patient 
and conduct yourselves in an orderly fashion. Thank you. As you well know, 
magic and weapons are prohibited inside the cafeteria.

Disciplinary Committee Announcements
*Follow all disciplinary committee rules. This applies to junior classmen, too.
*Do not bring animals inside the Garden.
*Report seeing any unusual bugs in the Garden.
*Do not litter.

Library Committee Announcements
*The following materials are overdue. Please return them to the library 
immediately.
**************
"Insect Guidebook (Colour Edition)"
		Raijin
"Goodbye Pupurun"
		Raijin
*The following requested materials have arrived.
**************
"Edible Flowers"
"Turbine Engines (Revised Edition)"
"We Meet Again, Pupurun"
"The Sorceress' Knight (Scenario Edition)"




----------------------------------------------------------
~Adel's Motives~ (by TheOnionKnight) [AD6]
----------------------------------------------------------

A very interesting observation was made by phiefer3 regarding the motivations
of Sorceress Adel.

When Ellone was still a little girl, Esthar troops were sent to Winhill to 
abduct her. Laguna describes the event in this way:

“When Ellone was about 2, there was a 
massive hunt for girls in Esthar. Esthar soldiers
came to Winhill and Elle's parents resisted. They
were killed on the spot. The massive hunt was to
find the successor for Esthar's ruler, Sorceress
Adel. Ellone was raised by Raine who lived next
door. And I came to know her. Then there was 
another massive hunt for a successor in Esthar
again. Elle was taken away, even though I was
there… it’s the most painful episode of my life.”

After she is abducted, Laguna travels to Esthar and breaks into Odine’s 
laboratory in order to rescue Ellone. He finds her imprisoned in a cell, where
she is obviously being contained as a research specimen. Nothing more is 
really said on this matter in the game, but when you think about the sequence 
of events, certain things fail to really add up.

Although Laguna says that a “massive hunt” was being conducted for Adel’s 
successor in Esthar, Esthar soldiers nevertheless come all the way to Winhill 
– a rural town on another continent – and kill Ellone’s parents when her 
parents “resist.”  The soldiers evidently abduct some girl (or girls) at that 
time, though they do not take Ellone, and then they return to Esthar.  
Evidently, again, whichever girls had been gathered up as potential 
“successors” proved unsuitable, because “another massive hunt” is launched 
later. Esthar soldiers return to Winhill again, and this time they –do– secure
Ellone. The girl is subsequently given to Odine and experiments are conducted
on her.

A few things are peculiar about this. It seems strange, first of all, to 
imagine that Sorceress Adel would even be interested in securing a “successor”
in the first place. The woman is an egomaniacal tyrant bent on ruling the
globe, and yet she is also apparently abducting very young girls in order to 
groom them as suitable heirs to her throne. The emphasis of the “massive hunt”
conducted is on finding young girls specifically, and not on finding women 
with powerful magical affinities, which does seem to imply an intention 
towards “grooming” these young ladies.  

However, Ellone is not “groomed” at all. She is utilized as a lab rat. That’s
another peculiar thing about the entire situation. If Ellone was really 
supposed to be brought up as Adel’s heir, she was certainly not pampered in the
process.  

The third peculiar thing is how Esthar soldiers come specifically to Winhill, 
not once, but –twice–, in their search for Adel’s “successor.” They only leave
satisfied when they finally have Ellone.  

What all of these “peculiarities” seem to add up to is this: that Adel was not,
in fact, truly looking for a “successor.” She seems to have been looking 
deliberately for Ellone, and when she does secure Ellone, she hands the girl 
over to Odine. The “successor” business has every appearance of being a 
“cover” for Adel’s search for this specific young girl – a young girl who 
“just happens” to have time-traveling powers. Odine studies Ellone when she 
is in his possession. In all probability he was studying her unique powers.  
The implication, therefore, of the entire scenario is that Sorceress Adel 
somehow knew Ellone was an asset worth collecting, and intentionally collected
her.

But how did Adel know that Ellone was “an asset” to begin with?

Here is where phiefer3’s eye-opening observation comes in. He has proposed 
that, when Ultimecia briefly possessed a “young Adel” in order to cast Time 
Compression, Adel gained access to some of Ultimecia’s knowledge. Both Edea and
Rinoa were possessed by Ultimecia, and both gained knowledge of that 
Sorceress’s plans during the possession. –How– this knowledge was gained, the
game never explicitly states. Perhaps Ultimecia’s thoughts “jumble together” 
with those of the people whom she is possessing, but, as Odine would say, “it 
doesn’t matter.” What matters is that Edea and Rinoa both unambiguously gain 
information from Ultimecia.

It logically follows that Adel should have also gained information during her 
short period of possession. What would she have learned?  Edea and Rinoa both
learn parts of Ultimecia’s plan, perhaps because Ultimecia is always 
concentrating intensely on her goals. When Ultimecia possesses Adel, she 
actually –casts– Time Compression in Adel’s body, meaning that Adel should 
experience the full force of this spell’s initial incantation. She would taste
the power of Time Compression through the unique manner that only its caster 
normally would, because she –is– casting the spell under Ultimecia’s control. 
She would also undoubtedly gain some of the information that Rinoa and Edea 
did, and learn the name “Ellone” as well as that girl’s role in the process of
initiating the TC spell.

Imagine how Adel would feel after the ordeal of her possession ends. Another 
Sorceress’s mind, out of nowhere, spontaneously took control of her own after 
leaping through the timestream. This other Sorceress cast a potent 
time-altering spell, and then vanished, surrendering her possession, which 
would in all likelihood have left Adel more than a little mystified and 
absolutely floored. The ordeal would have certainly been a life-changing 
experience.

This is phiefer3’s explanation for why Adel specifically sought Ellone during 
her “massive hunt” for a “successor.” By showing us that Ellone was being 
tested in a laboratory, the game forces us to question what Adel was doing with
the girl. By stating that the “massive hunt” was conducted not once, but twice,
and that Winhill was probed both times, the game hints that Adel had a very 
specific “successor” in mind when she conducted her search. Furthermore, the 
game goes out of its way to state that Ultimecia was sent into the body of a 
young Adel in order to cast TC. Ellone is explicitly given the choice to send 
Ultimecia into Adel’s body or into Edea’s, and she chooses Adel. Every single 
time that Ultimecia possesses someone, she stirs the pot, so to speak, and that
person’s life is influenced. What changed about Adel’s life during and after 
her possession? All of these questions seem to be pieces of the same puzzle, 
and when you put them together they suggest the idea that Adel learned about 
Ellone through Ultimecia, and afterwards hunted for the girl, in her own era, 
in order to gain control over Ellone’s power. This is why she had Odine conduct
his experiments: to attempt harnessing that power.

We might, after having established this much of the concept, also ask another 
question. Because Ultimecia was possessing a “young” Adel, what position was 
Adel in during the possession?  Was she a child? Was she already a figure in
the government?  Was she already corrupt and power-hungry? Perhaps she was
already corrupt, in which case the opportunity of capturing Ellone might have 
simply seemed like “another angle to pursue.” However, if she wasn’t corrupt, 
perhaps experiencing TC firsthand gave her the taste of power that would 
ultimately –lead– to her corruption. Perhaps it was by trying to regain what 
power she had seen Ultimecia wield that she went down the path to become a 
tyrannical dictator. Of course, we can’t say this for sure, because we know 
absolutely nothing about Adel’s early life or childhood, but it is still an 
interesting prospect to consider.

Another interesting prospect to consider (and one that we can say something 
sure about) is Odine’s involvement in this entire affair. He was employed by 
Adel and acted as her top scientist, developing technology under her orders. He
constructed the Lunatic Pandora because Adel wanted to turn the Crystal Pillar
into a weapon. He was also studying Ellone after Adel captured the girl, 
undoubtedly because Adel instructed him to do this. If she had not instructed 
it, there is no conceivable way that Odine would have been able to experiment 
on the “successor” to the Esthar throne so openly. We can therefore fairly 
easily assume that Odine was experimenting on Ellone to discover the source of
her power, or else to find a means to harness it. We also know that Odine –did–
successfully find a means to harness, or at least to duplicate, that power 
through a mechanical process. He created the Junction Machine Ellone, and 
Ultimecia uses the future, fully-operational version of this device to travel 
through time.  

Now follow this chain of cause-and-effect backwards. Odine developed the JME 
because he studied Ellone. He pursued this course of study on his own, but he 
was initially instructed to study the girl by Adel. Adel wanted the girl to be 
studied because she knew about Ellone’s power, which is why she conducted her 
“massive hunt.” Adel knew about Ellone’s power because Ultimecia had possessed
her. And, finally, Ultimecia was capable of possessing Adel (as well as Edea 
and Rinoa) because she had the JME in the future!

In other words, the JME was only developed in the first place because Adel and
Odine were acting with knowledge imparted to them inadvertently by Ultimecia, 
who used the JME to do that. If Ultimecia had never possessed Adel with the 
JME, Adel would have never known about Ellone and made Odine conduct the 
experiments that led to the JME’s creation. This is another causality loop, 
embedded in the subtle history of how the JME was built. It is just like how 
Garden was founded. If Ultimecia had not tampered with the past, Edea would 
never have created Garden, which would never have pursued Ultimecia, which 
would never have motivated her to tamper with the past. In precisely the same 
way, if Ultimecia had not tampered with the past, Adel would have never hunted 
for Ellone, the JME would not have been constructed, and Ultimecia would not 
have been able to tamper with the past because she wouldn’t have the JME.

The moral of this story is: there are more time-loop hijinks in FFVIII than you
might at first realize!

Thanks again to phiefer3, of the GameFAQs FFVIII message board, for coming
up with this ingenious theory!


----------------------------------------------------------
~The End of the Succession of Witches~ [AD7]
----------------------------------------------------------

In the game we are given certain conflicting statements about how many
sorceresses exist in Squall's era. The Tutorial and the Ultimania indicate that
there are no exact figures available. 

From the Tutorial:

"Sorceress
[...] It's hard to determine how many sorceresses 
exist today, for many keep their powers concealed. [...]"

From the FFVIII Ultimania (pg. 41):

"[...] However, there are also many Sorceresses who have chosen to live a quiet
life sheltered away from civilized society; as such, the actual number of 
Sorceresses and the amount of power shared between them remains unknown."

However, Odine boldly asserts when Laguna explains the plan to beat Ultimecia
that "there are 2 sorceresses in our time. Sorceress Rinoa and Sorceress 
Adel" and subsequently that if Adel were to give her powers to Rinoa that 
"we're left with Rinoa as ze only sorceress of [Squall's] era". Now, given that
Odine's role in the game is to be the resident scientific genius who simply
'knows stuff', it is perfectly legitimate to assume that he is actually
correct despite the Tutorial and Ultimania quotes above. The idea that Rinoa
is the last sorceress of her era is thematically satisfying as well, since it
means Ultimecia definitely inherited Rinoa's powers and not some random other
powers. In fact, Squall_Of_SeeD found that the Ultimania confirmed this. In its
summary of FFVIII's story, on pg. 268, we find the following line:

"Rinoa wo toru rikon da Adel wo taosu to, kono jidai no saigo no majyo to natta
Rinoa ni Ultimecia ga hyouisuru."

Here also is a scan of that page, with the relevant line underlined in red on
the left side of the page:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/
lastwitchandsquall.jpg

In English, this means, "Rinoa is separated from Adel when she is toppled, and
Ultimecia then possesses Rinoa, who has become the last witch of this era."
So while it may have been difficult for Odine to determine the number of
sorceresses in their era, it's fairly safe to assume that he did in fact
succeed.

Now, if Rinoa is the only sorceress of her era then Ultimecia is also the only
sorceress of her era. But since Ultimecia passes on her powers to someone in 
her past, it follows that Ulty's powers are essentially 'stuck' within the 
games time-loop. What this means is that Ultimecia would literally have been 
the last sorceress ever. By defeating her Squall and Co. don't just stop one 
evil sorceress they actually put an end to the entire succession of witches.



-------------------------------------------
~Laguna and Squall?~ [AD8]
-------------------------------------------

Although this is fairly unrelated, here follows a list of the hints used to
deduce that Laguna is Squall's father. This list is courtesy of myself (Sir B)
although I can in no way take credit for these hints, seeing as they are as 
old as the game itself. 

1) Laguna = Lagoon. Raine = Rain. Squall = Brief windstorm, usually with snow 
or rain.

All these names are connected: they all have to do with water. Although not a
strong point in itself, it fits nicely in with the rest of them.

2) Raine and Laguna had a child together. That child was sent to the orphanage.

The children in the orphanage at that time were, as we all know, Squall, 
Seifer, Ellone, Quistis, Zell, Irvine and Selphie (there may have been others
we never see, but typical plot conventions surely imply that it must be one
of the children we know of).

Ellone is the adoptive sister to that newborn child, and spends a significant 
part of her life trying to get Laguna back to Raine and this child.
Coincidentally, who is the one person in the orphanage who Ellone is closely 
attached to? Squall.

Also notice how none of the other children are paid attention to at all when 
it comes to this plot question, and seeing as how it is a very relevant part 
of the game, you'd think Square wouldn't just decide to drop it completely.

3) In the Ragnarok, Laguna tells Squall that "Ellone has told me everything" 
and "We'll talk when this is all over."

Since Ellone had just stopped her quest to get Laguna to see his newborn 
child, one would expect her to tell all about the child to Laguna, and it 
seems rather farfetched that she refused to give him the true identity.

This would also have been basically the most important thing Ellone would tell 
Laguna, so it seems plausible that he is going to talk to Squall about the same 
issue.

4) Talk to Kiros and Ward in the Ragnarok, and Ward will say "Good thing you 
don't look like your father" in a joking manner. Kiros says "You look more 
like your mother."

Kiros and Ward know the parents, and know the father well enough to make fun
of him jokingly. Who fits into this description?

5) The tutorial tells us that Moombas recognize people by licking their blood.

In jail, a Moomba calls Squall "Laguna" many times. This means Squall's blood 
was so similar to Laguna's that it fooled the Moomba.

That kind of scene isn't just put in there for randomness, nor to prove that 
Moombas are mentally unstable.

6) Laguna has Squall's card.


All these combined show us that Laguna is, in fact, Squall's father.

----
[Addendum by Squall_of_SeeD: Squall's parents are confirmed to be Raine
and Laguna in the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 1: Character and File 2:
Scenario guides.

On pg. 254 of the former, we find this line in Raine's profile: "Afterward,
she becomes involved with Laguna and Squall is born, though she dies
immediately after in childbirth." Meanwhile, on pg. 268 of the latter, we
have this line: "Around that time, Raine gives birth to the child she
conceived with Laguna, and he is named Squall."

Here also are the scans that go along with those translations, ordered
with respect to the order of the translations above, and with the
pertinent lines underlined in red (in the second scan, the relevant
underlined segment is the one on the right side of the page):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/squallsmom.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/
lastwitchandsquall.jpg

Though the reality of the matter was long ago clear, it is entirely
beyond question at this juncture.]



---------------------------------------------------------------------
~The Plot Twist - or - They all grew up at the Orphanage!?~ [AD9]
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Here, Leuchest/The Dark Legend discusses what he calls "The Plot Twist." 
As the title suggests, this is the twist where we learn that everyone, save
Rinoa, grew up in the same Orphanage: Edea's.


The Plot Twist

The plot twist in FF8 is frequently regarded as a bad plot twist. The real 
problem of the plot twist, which involves Squall, Seifer, Zell, Quistis, 
Selphie and Irvine, is the way it was presented. It was very sudden and 
delivered in a crappy way, as the story started to progress quickly, and the 
player was left speechless. When you analyse the plot twist, though, it's not 
as bad and unbelievable as it might seem at first.

Opinions aside, the plot twist is very believable, although it was poorly 
executed (by the elements of the plot, not the plot twist itself). If you're 
willing to spend some time thinking, you'll realise that the plot twist makes 
very much sense. 

The creators of the concept and ideals of SeeDs and Garden were Edea and Cid.
They raised these 6 children and, later, each was adopted. Squall and Seifer 
weren't so lucky. They joined Balamb just as it was constructed and founded,
at the tender age of 5. Selphie and Irvine, although little is known about 
them, could have been raised in Trabia and Galbadia, respectively. It's 
arguable whether they were or were not adopted, but IIRC, they never mention 
their family. The only members left are Quistis and Zell. Quistis was adopted,
but left her home when she was 10. Joining Garden must have been her decision,
as she knew Squall and Seifer. Zell, on the other hand, was the only character
who was coincidentally put in the middle of the whole mess.

Furthermore, the team who was scheduled to be part of the Timber mission 
consisted on Zell, Squall and Selphie. They were picked and put together by 
Cid. Was it purely coincidental? I don't think so. Quistis and Seifer joined 
them soon. Quistis, after the mission was over, told Squall they should head 
to the nearest Garden. As they get to the Garden, they are informed their 
mission is now to assassinate the sorceress. It's arguable whether Quistis was 
or was not under the orders from Cid when she informed Squall of heading to the 
nearest Garden, but somehow, it's too much coincidental to be so, because 
remember, the only ones aware of the Squall's mission were Cid and the Garden 
Faculty. The mission to assassinate the Sorceress was put together with 
Martine and Cid. Guess who they picked as the sniper ... Irvine, also a child 
of Cid's and Edea's orphanage. 

When you think about it, although luck did play some role in putting the 5 
together, Cid was the one who wanted these 5 characters to defeat Edea, as he 
probably knew they would eventually find the truth. He is the one who puts 
together the team who heads for Timber and he is the one who assembles the 
team to assassinate the Sorceress, alongside Martine.

Why would Cid want that? It's easy. Edea knew that, in the future, Squall 
would defeat Ultimecia and save the world. It's not unlikely she wanted Squall
and his friends, those who were in the orphanage with him, to face the 
sorceress(es), and therefore, she asked Cid, for when they would graduate as 
SeeDs, to fight them. Cid had all the resources to do so, as seen above by 
the evidence and explanation shown. 

Also, something many people fail to understand many times, is that Squall and 
Co. weren't the only children at the orphanage, as later on, you'll learn the
White SeeD, too, had no home and were adopted by Edea. These 6 were chosen 
because they were a group, a group that Edea, mostly likely realised would 
defeat Ultimecia, as seen in the ending of the game. Hence, the main theme 
surrounding them being "Children of Fate."



----------------------------------------------------------------------------
~Connection between Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy VIII?~ [AD10]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

by Squall_of_SeeD

Other than the Rinoa=Ultimecia theory, the only contentious fan theory
about Final Fantasy VIII's plot to have had any degree of staying power
in the online community has been the theory that Final Fantasy III and
Final Fantasy VIII share the same world, their respective stories
separated by the passage of a great many years. At the very least, the
two do indeed share a number of intriguing parallels that demand the
attention of any document seeking to thoroughly examine this game.

This theory was originally posited in the early 2000s by a fan with
the username "Desh." It would gain more attention between 2003 and
2005, due in large part to message board ruminations and other
postings about it by the author of this current article, Glenn
Morrow/Squall_of_SeeD -- in particular, an RPGamer editorial
published on May 2, 2005:

http://www.rpgamer.com/editor/archive/date/archq205.html
http://www.rpgamer.com/editor/2005/q2/050205gm.html

Though the poor writing and research quality of this now
six-year old article is an embarassment, it is nonetheless
necessary to include mention of it for the sake of this current
article's account being thoroughly conducted. While not this
author's proudest composition, it nonetheless stands as a
significant factor in the ongoing consideration given to this theory
when it appears on discussion boards.

Prior to the writing of this current article -- and prompting it --
a discussion on the matter again emerged on GameFAQs, where we
co-authors of the Time/Ultimecia Plot FAQ have always conducted our
debates and analyses. Though Sir Bahamut commented that he finds
the debate "entirely uninteresting" and "can't see any connection
between the two other than simply loose references," TheOnionKnight
and myself were far more intrigued by this most recent discussion,
though for somewhat differing reasons.

The analysis that follows is the result of the discussion in that
thread between us and another GameFAQs user, Vir27. Where
pertinent, direct quotes from the discussion will be included in
this article.

The background for the theory's origin and propagation now
established, along with the cause for the inception of this article,
let's begin to look at exactly what shared elements between the two
games have planted such controversial notions in the imaginations of
fans.

First, and perhaps most notably, both games share the name "Hyne"
("Hein" in the official English translation of Final Fantasy III for
the Nintendo DS; both two names, however, use the same katakana:
ha-i-n). While it isn't uncommon for Final Fantasy titles to reuse
names, its appearance in FFVIII was only the second time it had
appeared -- a reasonable implication then being that some deliberate
commentary or thematic tie was being made.

Cause for this belief is reinforced by other details of the two
characters, as the thematic elements shared by the two Hynes don't
end with name alone. Both demonstrate or are credited with
possessing powerful magic, and both have in some way "cast off"
their skin.

As mentioned in the story from the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania
translated above under the section "Ultimania Information" (ctrl+f
shortcut: [AD2]), the legendary Great Hyne of FFVIII is said to have
cast off his skin as part of his ploy to trick the Zebalga tribe and
escape with the greater part of his magical powers.

Shorter tellings of this story also appear twice during FFVIII
itself, once recounted by an elderly man to his grandchild in the
house next to Ma Dincht's home in Balamb, and again on the White
SeeD ship, told to some other children by a woman named Lina. Here
are those two tellings of the myth:

Balamb version
---------------
"Long, long ago...When this world was just made, there was a strong
god called 'Hyne'. This god was very, very strong, but after fighting
a lot of monsters, he became very tired. So he made 'people' like you
and me to do all the work, and the god went to sleep. [...] However,
the god was very surprised when he awoke. Surprised that there were
so many people. Hyne decided to reduce the number of people by taking
away the children. [...] Of course, everyone was scared then, too. And
so, the battle against Hyne began. Even though the people were small,
they all got together, and finally cornered him. Hyne didn't know what
to do. Out of desperation, he gave half of his body to the people and
ran off with the remaining other half. Well, he was a god. Anyway, it
turns out Hyne tricked the people. The half that Hyne ran away with
was the half that had the stronger magic. Hmmm...It might be close by,
actually. It might even be watching you."
---------------

White SeeD ship version
------------------------
"Once upon a time, there was a person named Hyne. Hyne was the ruler of
the world. He became lazy and decided to make a tool to make his life
easier. Hyne made a neat tool. His tool could make more tools by itself.
Soon there were a lot of tools in the world. These tools were actually
people. 

When Hyne woke up, he was surprised because there were a lot of people.
Hyne wanted to reduce the number of people, and used magic to burn up a
lot of small people. The small people were children. The people
cherished the children very much. So the people rebelled against Hyne.
Hyne used powerful magic to fight them. The people couldn't use magic,
but they had wisdom. 

Eventually, Hyne began to lose the war, because there were too many
people to fight, and they were getting smarter. Therefore, he decided
to make peace with people by offering them half of his body along with
his powers. Hyne cut his body in half and gave the people half as he
promised. 

Then, another war started. People began to fight over the power Hyne
offered them through his body. This war lasted decades. Finally, King
Zebalga and the Zebalga tribe emerged victorious and demanded Hyne's
body-half to get its powers. But the body ignored their commands. 

Then, Vascaroon came to the rescue. He appeared before the confused
Zebalgas and revealed to them that Hyne's body-half was corrupt and
possessed no real power. The body-half was actually Hyne's cast-off
skin. The Zebalgas were angered by this truth, and decided to destroy
Hyne. The Zebalgas never found Hyne. People began to call him 'Hyne
the Magician' and continued to hunt him for centuries to come."
------------------------

As detailed in the epilogue story in the "Ultimania Information"
section above, the myth then goes that Hyne decided to divide his
power up into human women for safekeeping -- beginning the lines of
witches.

For his part, the Hyne of Final Fantasy III is portrayed as a
skeletal figure -- thus, skinless -- in exotic clothing. Certainly,
a parallel is at work here on some level.

But does it run deep enough to establish a plot-related connection,
especially in light of the Legend of Vascaroon differing so
significantly from the portion of FFIII in which Hyne appears?

To elaborate on that point, the Hyne of FFIII had been the advisor
to King Argus until the earthquake from the beginning of the game
released darkness that possessed and corrupted him. Afterward, he
cast spells on the king's soldiers to control them, and enslaved the
king along with the rest of the kingdom. He then cast a spell of
control over the Elder Tree, mother of all trees, as well, and
uprooted it before transforming it into a floating castle.

He continued spreading chaos for a short time before being killed 
in battle by FFIII's Warriors of Light. With that, the spells he had
cast were undone.

So, again, given these striking differences in the accounts of the
Great Hyne and FFVIII's Hyne the Magician, can we reasonably
determine a connection within the games' stories?

Before we can answer that, let's look at what other parallels exist
between the two games.

Next, a look at the world maps of FFIII and FFVIII reveals that the
two are the most similar of any world maps to be found between two
entries in the numbered, primary Final Fantasy series -- FFX and
X-2 being the obvious exceptions, and for equally obvious reasons.

FFIII's world map: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/
Squall_of_Seed/FinalFantasyIIIWorldMap.gif

FFVIII's world map: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/
Squall_of_Seed/FinalFantasyVIIIWorldMap.jpg

While not exact, they are undeniably similar. Both worlds feature
the same number of continents, arranged in the same layout, and of
approximately the same size, even if not quite the same shapes.
There is even a smaller landmass in the middle of III's map that
could one day be the Balamb continent on VIII's map.

During our recent discussion on GameFAQs, TheOnionKnight made the
following, similar observations: "Look at the other FF world maps.
There's no similarity between them. With III and VIII, though,
the continents are roughly the same shape and size, and occupy
roughly the same position on the globe. I cannot believe that
this was a mistake. The developers know what the world maps for
each game look like, and if they designed two maps this close,
they did it consciously."

Looking at the western continent, there is a lake near the middle
that could well be Obel Lake. Given the knowledge of the creature
residing there in FFVIII, as seen in VIII's Obel Lake sidequest,
the entity is implied to be ancient -- suggesting that the lake
itself is as well.

On the higher portion of III's eastern continent, there are also
a couple of lakes in good position to one day become the Great
Salt Lake near the city of Esthar.

The differences that do exist between the world maps could be
explained by the passage of tens of thousands of years and the
ongoing cataclysms that have occurred throughout history because
of the Lunar Cry. Pg. 42 of the FFVIII Ultimania tells us that
the lunar cycle rain of monsters is said to have been going on for
that long, after all, while pg. 40 confirms that both the giant
Trabia Crater and catastrophic destruction of the Centra continent
were caused by the Lunar Cry, emphasizing its capacity to pulverize
even a continent.

More than the arguably vague positioning of lakes, though, there
is a much greater link between the two maps to be found in their
uttermost southwestern point. On III's map, this is the location
of the Floating Continent. On VIII's, it is the location of the
Deep Sea Research Center and the Deep Sea Deposit excavation
site under the facility -- where the ruins of a lost civilization
lay.

Said civilization has no known connection to any on the
mainland continents, and what we see of its architecture in the
Deposit differs from any known style seen elsewhere in the world.
That being said, the closest match to this ruined structure -- a
series of suspended platforms connected by stairs -- to be found
in FFIII as well is the chamber of the Wind Crystal in the
Floating Continent's Altar Cave, and it isn't nearly an exact
match.

This is the chamber, as depicted in the Nintendo DS remake of
FFIII:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/
ffiiiplatforms.jpg

Though it does contain a series of suspended platforms connected
by stairs, certainly the chamber is too small to actually be the
totality of the vertical structure that Squall and co. pass
through in FFVIII. Still, it is a similarity, as is the presence
of numerous luminant crystals littered throughout the Altar Cave
and the Deposit.

These are the crystals in the Altar Cave, as depicted in the
Nintendo DS remake of III:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/
ffiiicavecrystals.jpg

Also, while this is largely based in interpretation, it is the
opinion of myself and TheOnionKnight that the unrevealed
treasure sought by the DSRC's researchers at the bottom of the
Deep Sea Deposit was a large crystal, given the resonance of the
crystals in the area when Squall and co. activate the hoist at
the bottom of the excavation site. For more on that matter, see
the next article in this section of the FAQ, "Enigma of the
Deep Sea Research Center."

In any case, given the assumed passage of time required for
consideration of such a theory in the first place, finding a
building vaguely similar to a thoroughly ruined structure may
not be the best basis for analysis to begin with.

Far more notable of the DSRC, though, and more relevant to this
article, is that Bahamut resides there, as he did on FFIII's
Floating Continent.

While our collaborator in discussing this matter, Vir27, felt
that there was nothing more at work here than a parallel
between "something that can be ruined and ruins, something that
can fall down and something that is down," TheOnionKnight and I
firmly believe there is a series of significant similarities
between the DSRC area and the Floating Continent.

All these parallels in mind, let's return to Hyne, where our
analysis began.

In addition to their names and the notion of removed skin, both
Hynes are attributed with magical powers. In the case of
FFVIII's Hyne, his powers gave rise to the powerful witches
around whom so much of the game focuses. While the Hyne of FFIII
doesn't come across as openly intimidating as the witches of
FFVIII, their powers nonetheless have a lot in common.

First, both III's Hyne and VIII's witches demonstrate the power
of transmutation on a significant level. Hyne transformed the
Elder Tree into a floating castle, while Ultimecia used Edea to
bring the Iguion statues to life. According to their Scan info,
several of the boss enemies in Ultimecia's castle were also
inanimate objects brought to life through her magic -- Krysta,
Trauma, and the Red Giant. Of the remainder, at least Tri-Point
and Tiamat were magically altered from their previous forms.

While transmutation may be seen as a fairly standard ability
to be expected of characters of Hyne and Edea's sort, he also
possesses the power to take control of others' minds, as
evidenced by his brainwashing of King Argus's soldiers.
Likewise, the witches of FFVIII have this ability.

The player is first introduced to the concept at Galbadia
Garden, where a female student in one of the hallways will
comment, "I heard the sorceress has the ability to
brainwash others. I wonder if it's true?" This is soon
after demonstrated in Deling City, when Ultimecia whips up
the assembled citizens into a fervor after murdering
Vinzer Deling in front of them.

Her control over the crowd there was confirmed on pg. 253
of the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 1: Character
guidebook, which states, "After murdering Deling, she used her
magical powers -- specifically, a fascination technique -- to
drive the assembled populace into a frenzy."

In addition, there's a similarity between the source of Hyne's
powers and witches' ability to stop time, as demonstrated in
Timber during FFVIII when Ultimecia uses Edea to freeze
everything. The origin of Hyne's power is the ethereal darkness
that was consuming FFIII's world during that game -- the
accumulation of which in the world had stopped time.

This corruptive darkness, which turned Hyne into the evil being
he became, could have another parallel in that the powers of
FFVIII's witches corrupt them in the absence of a knight who
helps them maintain sanity.

Given this plethora of parallels, do we have enough to establish
a definite shared timeline between FFIII and FFVIII? In honesty,
no, not in the opinion of these authors.

Due to the significant differences in the narratives surrounding
the Hynes of the two games, it's impossible to conclude authorial
intent that necessitates elements not present in the official
materials. However, we do nonetheless feel -- as TheOnionKnight
so eloquently put it during our recent debate -- "the two worlds
share intriguing and intentional parallels."

Elaborating on that point, he made these comments concerning
Hyne: "Hyne from III shouldn't be imagined to literally be Hyne
from VIII, but instead, the two should be understood to echo each
other. Once again, the developers didn't reuse the name Hyne by
mistake. They know their own FF enemy lore. The fact that Hyne
from VIII gave up his skin and Hyne from III is a skeleton cannot
be accidental. I believe that's as far as that parallel goes, but
the parallel is there to make you wonder, so you should wonder."

As noted earlier in this article, while Final Fantasy references
itself all the time, there are different levels of reference.
There are motifs (e.g. "Cid," chocobos, etc.), homages (e.g. FFIX
and FFXII's Garland, FFIX's Princess Sarah), allegories (e.g.
Squall of FFVIII and Leon/Leonhart of FFII), and actual
plot-related connections (e.g. Shin-Ra of FFVII and Shinra of
FFX-2).

Gilgamesh is a unique kind of reference all his own in the
series, having been an homage (FFIX and FFXI's versions), while
also becoming something of a motif and simultaneously serving as
another example of a plot-related connection. Thanks to the
Interdimensional Rift, he has appeared in many titles in the
series as the same individual each time -- FFI's Dawn of Souls
and 20th Anniversary rereleases, FFIV: The After Years, FFV, FFVI
Advance, FFVIII, FFXII and Dissidia 012.

The point here being that Gilgamesh made his first appearance
outside FFV in FFVIII, which tells us right there that this
game wasn't afraid of connections with other FFs. What kind of
reference was VIII's Hyne, though?

This question may be impossible to answer without explanation
from the developers themselves, but we can safely conclude
that something more subtle and clever was at work than
accidental coincedence or a simple fondness for the name.

In that spirit, TheOnionKnight and I feel that FFVIII even
asks us to doubt the veracity of the Legend of Vascaroon. It's
always been a tad perplexing that a being who would have been
humanity's greatest enemy in all of history should continue to
be held in the mythological position of creating humanity, as
is the fact that FFVIII's in-game Tutorial tells us that
addressing a witch as "Hyne's descendant" is a sign of great
respect.

Why would that be the case when humanity has only reason to
despise this entity?

Furthermore, why are witches outcasts of society and seen as
a symbol of fear if being Hyne's descendant is an honor? The
ideas at work are bafflingingly inconsistent, and seem like
holdovers from a more fearful time when the people were
likely afraid that Hyne was still at large. The final lines
from the old man's story about Hyne in Balamb indicates
something along those lines: "It might be close by, actually.
It might even be watching you."

TheOnionKnight made the same observations:

"I think the connection is intentionally off-base. The VIII
writers knew what happened to the III Hyne, and could've written
the Legend of Vascaroon to more closely resemble the boss Hyne.
Even having the humans track down and kill Hyne in the legend
after he tricks them with his skin would've created a greater
unison. Instead, one Hyne is a god whose actions indicate that
he's above human morality, and who escapes human judgement. The
other Hyne is a power-hungry magician who controls his 'subjects'
with magic, but is punished and executed by the protagonists,
whereupon his magic comes undone and the chaos returns to normal.
He receives comeuppance and the damage is repaired. VIII Hyne
gets away with everything, and human civilization is born as a
result of his trickery and scheming.

What I get out of this isn't 'the two Hynes are the same,' but
rather the question -- "What if they were?" The reference seems
to exist to bring their differences to light along with their
similarities. Importantly, we never see VIII Hyne, and we only
know about him in a vague and mythical capacity. This parallel
with III gives us pause and makes us doubt the myth. What if it
*has* been distorted? What if Hyne *wasn't* omnipotent? Are we
dealing with something strictly factual, or something perhaps
more religious? The humans in VIII revere Hyne although, when
you think about it, he was no better than the magician Hyne in
III whose actions were intended to terrorize people. The Legend
of Vascaroon becomes untrustworthy. We don't know where reality
and fiction converge, or if they do at all, which, now that I
think about it, plays directly into Ultimecia's speech about
the plebeian masses creating their own 'final fantasy' about
malevolent Sorceresses. Haven't they done the opposite with Hyne
-- convinced themselves to worship a tyrant? Whereas, with
Sorceresses, they turn innocent women into tyrants?"

For myself, this line is the pivotal understanding to take from
all of this: "The Legend of Vascaroon becomes untrustworthy." With
the Hyne inconsistencies being all that could prevent the worlds
of the two games from being compatible, and the belief that we
almost have to doubt the Legend of Vascaroon as a valid tale, it
then seems the most simple synthesis of the available elements
to arrive at a conclusion that FFIII and FFVIII share a timeline.

I would also venture to say that in trying to explain the enigma
of the Deep Sea Research Center (see the following article by
that very name), we have to consider the possibility that the
worlds are the same.

Even the world-sustaining crystals of FFIII not being on the
global stage in FFVIII isn't a significant matter given the
thematic differences between the two titles and the metaphysical
similarities that can otherwise be drawn. FFVIII is one of
several FF titles published in succession that featured overt,
shared metaphysical properties.

FFVII, VIII, IX and X/X-2 all involve the application of
memories as magical power (GFs siphon the memories of the humans
they junction to), and properties like that of FFVII's
Lifestream (in FFVIII, raw magical energy rises from inside the
planet to its surface as draw points). Incidentally, pg. 8 of the
FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario guide tells us that
FFIII's world does have a Lifestream, and has a graph demonstrating
that worlds with Lifestreams have crystals at their core:

http://thelifestream.net/final-fantasy-vii/6151/translations-from
-the-ff-20th-anniversary-ultimania-sources-of-power-in-ff/

We can also establish an association between crystals and draw
points given that Squall will mention that the Deep Sea Research
Center was in search of a massive draw point if the player doesn't
have Zell in their party when they first arrive there.

Though true that even with the Legend of Vascaroon discredited,
one would still need to account for how Hyne in FFIII -- who was
killed by that game's Warriors of Light -- could have lived to
pass on any powers to human women, that's beyond the scope of
this article. For what it's worth, I personally see it as a
simple enough hole to fill, though it would be working
entirely off assumption, and, thus, is better left out here.

For his part, TheOnionKnight still sees the III-VIII parallels as
less literal a connection, and as more valuable without that literal
tie. His interest in the possibility stems from seeking to solve
the Deep Sea Research Center's mystery, or, as he put it, at least
achieve a "more cohesive understanding."

Explaining that he is in pursuit of a more literary interpretation,
he adds, "If more evidence came out that definitively proved III and
VIII share the same world, I would actually be disappointed because
this is such a literal solution."

For this author personally, a more meaningful relation arises
from a timeline in which the world inhabited by the Warriors
of Light, Princess Sara, Desh and the Elder Tree one day becomes
the world we experience in FFVIII, its history obscured by myth.
But, as nothing can be stated definitively, it's ultimately up to
each player to decide what provides the most meaning for them.



------------------------------------------------------------
~Enigma of the Deep Sea Research Center~ [AD11]
------------------------------------------------------------

by Squall_of_SeeD

Before reading this article, it's recommended that you first read
the article that precedes it, "Connection between Final Fantasy
III and Final Fantasy VIII?" Both emerged from the same discussion
at GameFAQs, and there is a significant degree of overlap in not
only their material, but the analysis and rumination that gave
birth to both articles.

Now, before we get any further into the meat of this article, take
a moment to read the following nuggets of information, starting
with this entry from pg. 245 of the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania
File 2: Scenario guide:

"Manmade Oceanic Research Island [(Deep Sea Research Center)]
A solitary island located in the distant southwest ocean. A mobile
research facility dubbed with the nickname 'Battleship Island,' it was
built to navigate the seas throughout the world; though it continued
investigating a powerful energy, its whereabouts went unknown for a
long time. In a room at the bottommost level of the excavation area of
the 'Ocean Stagnation' [('Deep Sea Deposit')] lurks the mighty monster
Ultima Weapon."

Next, read the in-game Tutorial's entries on the DSRC and the Deep
Sea Deposit beneath it:

"Deep Sea Research Center
A man-made mobile island for marine life research. Disappeared mysteriously 
after much wandering. Since the facility members are still alive, it is 
assumed to be concealed intentionally.

3015 Found a strong energy field
4141 Call this place Deep Sea Deposit
4242 Seal off Deep Sea Deposit"

"Deep Sea Deposit
Marine Research Island's last excavation site. Believed to be an ocean floor 
ruin. There is a note saying: 4127 Travel by Underwater Tower."

Finally, read Zell's explanation of the island if he is in the party
upon arrival, and Squall's explanation if Zell isn't with the party:

-With Zell-
Zell: "This island's most likely that mobile research facility."

Squall: "(Huh?)"

Zell: "A.k.a 'Battleship Island'."

Squall: "...So what did they research?"

Zell: "Basically, they were tryin' to develop a draw system like ours.
They probably traveled all over the world to gather different energy
and materials for their research."

Squall: "......"

Zell: "I dunno how the heck it ended up here. I heard they did some
hardcore research here. They even used GF for experiments. To science
geeks, it was treasure island."

-Without Zell-
Squall: "I've also heard that this thing was in search of a large draw
point somewhere."

I've asked you to read these entries because this is as definitive as
any official information ever provided about the facility. As one
of my co-authors, TheOnionKnight, put it, the DSRC is "the great
unsolved mystery of the game ... which seems to tease you and force
you to ask questions whose answers are just out of reach."

From the moment we arrive at the Deep Sea Research Center, questions
are being asked by the characters and presented to us to also consider
(e.g. Quistis: "Where in the world is this?"). First, the party
wonders what the facility is, and though Zell (or Squall if Zell isn't
in the party) has some knowledge of what it is, the specifics of what
was going on there are a complete mystery -- a question they continue
to give voice to once they step inside.

Quistis will ask, "What on earth were they researching?" Squall will
wonder, "(...What is that big blue thing?)" Though they get
answers about the large, blue tube in the center of the room when
they are confronted by "The Great GF ...Bahamut" as Squall refers to
him, ever more elusive questions present themselves the further the
party delves into the depths of the facility.

After defeating Bahamut and going a floor below his location,
Quistis will now ask, "I wonder why they abandoned this place...?"

Another mystery -- and though the monsters we face further down
would be sufficient explanation, the mystery deepens when we
consider that the in-game Tutorial's entry on the Deep Sea
Research Center tells us, "Since the facility members are still
alive, it is assumed to be concealed intentionally." So, not
only was the place never abandoned, but we're told that the
researchers are, in fact, still alive.

But how can this be? We meet no one but monsters in our
exploration of the Deep Sea Deposit under the DSRC. So,
where then, are our researchers?

Perhaps we already have our answer. 

Take note of the crystals scattered throughout the Deposit area.
Rather strikingly, the composition and coloring of the crystals in
the Deposit bear a resemblance to the composition of the Crystal
Pillar, as can be seen in this comparison image of cropped
screenshots put together by Drawpoint, owner and author of the
FFVIII Analysis website (ff8a.com):

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v132/Squall_of_Seed/
ffviiicrystals.jpg

Referring to a man in Esthar who will -- after the Lunar Cry has
come down -- transform into an Elnoyle and attack the party, as
well as the in-game Tutorial's "Monsters" entry, which states that
"the Lunar Cry phenomenon also transformed some animals into
monsters," Drawpoint theorizes that the crystals in the Deep Sea
Deposit are in some way related to energy from the moon and caused
the researchers to become the monsters in the Deposit.

For further evidence, he refers to the message that is broadcast
in the Deposit when Squall and co. reactivate the excavation site.
The message announces that "all except the leader must take shelter."
Drawpoing then points to the fact that there are no more random
encounters after Ultima Weapon is beaten as an indication that Ultima
Weapon was, in fact, the leader that was spoken of, and all the other
monsters/former researchers responded to the instruction as they
would have when they were still human and took shelter.

Even if this provides us with an answer to the riddle of what
became of the researchers, the most interesting questions about
the Deposit remains unsolved: What exactly had the researchers
found? What was that cable at the bottom of the excavation site
being used to hoist?

And perhaps just as importantly, why are we never shown what it is?

We're still being asked to consider this at the bottom of the
Deposit, right before the battle with Ultima Weapon. Quistis will
comment that "They invested so much in this facility... There must
be something here," while Squall will ask aloud, "What was going on
down here...?"

At this juncture, the player needs no enticing to go in and seek
treasure. They've gone as far as they can go, flipped the final
switch, and are sitting back to see the results of their own
investment -- and they get nothing. Subtle as it may seem, they
are being overtly asked to consider what the facility had
discovered, and possibly even its narrative purpose.

While the possible timeline connection between FFIII and FFVIII (see
the previous article in this FAQ) may provide an answer, one of my
co-authors, Sir Bahamut, feels that these questions are rather
unimportant -- and, in fact, that the puzzle the developers were
presenting us with from the moment we arrived at the Deep Sea
Research Center never had an intended answer, the facility intended
to be simply a spooky, mysterious place in which the player could
fight a couple of powerful, optional bosses and acquire a couple
of GFs. Our collaborator in this discussion, Vir27, concurred.

TheOnionKnight and I -- giving the developers more credit than
that they would have accidentally presented us with such a puzzle
to consider, or done so deliberately with the intention of there
never being more to it -- are of a different mind on the matter,
however.

Here follows his insightful speculation about the DSRC:

"Obviously, the Deposit is some sort of Atlantis situation, even
without the III connection, but the III connection strengthens this
notion, which is why I'm still considering it this many years down
the line. I keep saying to myself, 'There *must* be an answer...
even a vague answer... what's the answer?" But there is no answer
-- that I've found, in any case. Is there any other location, in
any other FF, as shrouded in enigma as the Deposit? I can't think
of one. All the other 'mysterious places' have an explanation
behind them, even if it's a hazy explanation. The fact that the
Deposit itself is so tantalizing and atmospheric is why I'm
intrigued by it. It's like the Centra Ruins, but even those make
more sense than the Deposit."

Expanding on his point about the Centra Ruins being less of an
enigma, he later added:

"The Centra Ruins are actually even more peculiar on the surface.
There are levitating stones and strange runes, translucent
stairways that melt out of the air, puzzles, lots of weird
architecture. Odin resides in the inner chamber. But even though
this is all bizarre, and unlike any other place in the game, the
mere fact that the ruins are located on a destroyed continent
provide them with background. The vague history of the lost
Centra civilization actually fits hand-in-glove with the vague
nature of the ruins. We know the people were
technologically-advanced. The ritualistic atmosphere in the ruins
seems to correspond to the metaphysical nature of the GFs, which
have been sterilized and converted into weapons technology in the
modern era, but nevertheless possess a certain occult aura, which
the Centra apparently respected more, or were more in-tune with.
Thematically, the Centra Ruins 'work' on all these levels, so even
though we don't know what the ruins are, we still 'get' them.

The Deposit, meanwhile, has no history. Is it related to the Centra,
too? Its remote location suggests that it's something different.
There are crystals all over it, which don't correspond to anything
Centran, but do correspond to the Crystal Pillar. Esthar was
experimenting with the Pillar, and Esthar was excavating the ruins.
We know all this, which is why the Research Facility itself isn't
mysterious. But the Deposit has no thematic companion in the game
(like the Centra ruins and the Centra culture are thematic
companions). In spite of that, the game teases us with more
specific details related to the Deposit than it does the Centra
Ruins. We have so many specifics, from the excavation, that yield
nothing. They don't cohere with anything, or even themselves. This,
I think, is the perplexing issue. The game is presenting us with
clues that seemingly lead nowhere. Why was the place sealed, and
allowed to be overgrown? Wouldn't it have been better to move
Battleship Island, and allow the ocean to reclaim the Deposit, if
what was down there was so dangerous? What is the cable pulling up,
since it makes the crystals react? Did Adel command the excavation,
and then, after she was usurped, the new government didn't know
about it? That may explain why the place is overgrown, if, after
some disaster, no one on the mainland was 'in the know,' and
therefore no one came to help.

And by the way, what is that statue in the Deposit depicting?"

Further rumination:

"The game directly poses the question to the player, through Squall,
'What was going on down here...?' The game provides us with
selected log entries from the research journals. We are supposed
to wonder why the crystals react, because the characters wonder
this. The game is providing us with a puzzle.

Contrast this to the Centra Ruins. No character ever wonders what
the place is. The game does not dangle anything in front of us,
like those research logs. The Centra Ruins is obviously intended to
be a 'spooky, mysterious place,' and its titular link to the extinct
Centra culture provides us with enough information to be able to
understand that the ruins are a partly-metaphysical relic from a
technologically-advanced civilization. 

So, in this case, it's not that difficult to know which
interpretation we should take. If the Deposit puzzle proves to be
ultimately unsolvable, the game is still giving us a puzzle and
pointedly asking us to consider it. We aren't supposed to go
'oh, spooky,' and then just forget it."

Recognizing that an inarguable, definitive answer based on
in-game clues and official statements will likely never emerge,
TheOnionKnight concluded his meditations with this:

"Maybe we need to approach the Deposit from another angle. I'm so
used to thinking about variables and proof and evidence and
theories, that I haven't even attempted literary interpretation yet.

In other words, a literary interpretation is what we need here. I
don't think this is like Ultimecia or the time-loop or Time
Compression. It's not a matter of finding a 'proper explanation,'
but of getting a handle on the place. I don't believe any solution
that we piece together will be specific. I expect the 'answer' to
the 'puzzle' to be general and vague, like the Deposit itself, but
I do think there's an answer to be found. If the word 'answer'
isn't going down easily, try 'more cohesive understanding.'

The III parallels appeal to me for this exact reason. If more
evidence came out that definitively proved III and VIII share the
same world, I would actually be disappointed because this is such a
literal solution. I enjoy contemplating the amorphous idea that the
games are overlapping in a conceptual way, and it's in this
amorphous conceptual direction that I'm looking for more clarity
(perhaps ironically)."

In that spirit, we set out to determine what literary readings we
can take from the Deep Sea Research Center -- and I now share
them with you.

First, and more simply, perhaps the meaning we are to take is that
"you can't always explain everything." Look at the nature of the
rest of the plot: It demands we analyze it through multiple
exposures to the material just to understand things like the
villain's motivation and goals. And that puzzle -- the solution to
which still eludes most casual players of FF -- was the easiest to
piece together.

This FAQ that the three of us have updated for years is a testament
to not just the degree of geekiness we share, both individually and
collectively, but the enigmatic, puzzle-riddled nature of the game.

Yet all those things we've looked at were still things that had
answers that we could determine from the available official
materials. So, all that being the case, it's to be expected that
when we come across such a mysterious place as the DSRC and the
writer asks us -- through the characters themselves no less -- to
consider what the meaning is, we will in fact begin to do just that.

We might notice that it's in an identical location to a civilization
that was nearly lost once before in another title. We might also
notice that a certain dragon inhabits both of these locations.
When considering other parallels to this second title, we might then
begin to ask ourselves, "Could it be ...?"

After all, this game does have another outright connection to
another FF in the form of Gilgamesh, who mentions Bartz of FFV
(Japanese version only) and speaks of the Interdimensional Rift as
well. FFVIII doesn't shy away from connecting itself to other FF
games.

But, per the difficulties in reconciling the two owners of the name
"Hyne," perhaps the solution remains just out of reach -- and
deliberately so. We've been given so many other puzzles in the main
plot, all of which could be solved with enough analysis. Yet here,
in this side quest that gives us so much to consider while also
giving us so little that is concrete to consider it with, we are
defeated.

This is a meaning we could take -- and a valuable one in its own
way.

Or perhaps another message is trying to emerge here. TheOnionKnight
made the following observations: 

"I think that, based on the clues, the cable must be pulling up a
crystal. Our strongest hint to go on is the smaller crystals
reacting to it, and when you boil the question down, what more
natural thing is there for them to react to than a larger crystal?

But what is this larger crystal, if it is indeed a larger crystal?
It can't be as big as the Crystal Pillar, can it? How would a
simple cable be able to hoist something that huge?

If the crystal in the Deposit (if it's a crystal) is an elemental
crystal, I don't think it matters which element it is. The idea,
in this case, would be, to me, that the researchers are indeed
excavating artifacts and ruins from a lost culture, and if the
crystal is an elemental crystal, that underlines the fact that
VIII has a world in which these elemental crystals play no role in
society. The civilization in the game was the most
technologically-advanced in an FF title to that point ... It has
advanced beyond the magic-based medieval FFs of the past -- even
beyond the materia-based FFVII -- and now, what magic does exist
is literally digitized: two GFs are stored in a computer. Magic
isn't mystical anymore. It's scientific. Odine developed the
junction system, right? Ellone's powers can be harnessed by a
machine. Everything is testable and mathematic, and 'magic' has
lost what makes it 'magical.' Except in the Deposit, where there
is a force too strong for the researchers to harness, where the
floating laboratory of Battleship Island has been reclaimed by
nature, where there are ancient ruins with no connection to
anything in FFVIII -- but perhaps with a connection to an older
FF title where magic was still a mysterious force in the world --
where the elemental crystals were enshrined, not turned into
weapons of war like the Crystal Pillar. 

This cloudy overlap between III and VIII also plays into the
time/space issues in VIII, although not, once again, directly, but
thematically. The franchise is spatially overlapping itself, and
if one were to drill through the time/space continuum in VIII,
perhaps one would emerge in another game (this is a cute comment
more than a potential claim). III does come before VIII, and
VIII's futuristic world is built on the medieval worlds of the
previous games. There also seems to be an actual link, in VIII,
to the other games, via Gilgamesh. When he appears in VIII, he
actually is stepping into this game from another game, and the
implication is that he can step into all of the games, and is
doing this sequentially, to collect weapons from the various
worlds. He's using the Interdimensional Rift -- so there's
another connection, to FFV. A curious connection, too, since it is
a literal connection, and VIII is the only FF game to make it so
explicit. We're back at how VIII loves its time/space issues."

TheOnionKnight began to touch on the matter of science vs. magic
in FFVIII's setting -- a battle in which magic apparently loses
-- and from that, I believe I have seen a literary interpretation
of the Deep Sea Research Center emerge.

Starting with Final Fantasy VI, each title in the numbered, main
series shifted progressively further from the traditional fantasy
settings that had adorned the classic installments. Indeed, as
TheOnionKnight observed, Final Fantasy VIII featured the most
technologically advanced setting of any Final Fantasy at that point
in time -- a trend not universally well received by longtime fans
of the series, even among those who liked VI, VII and VIII.

FFVIII was the greatest departure from tradition yet seen. Despite
FFVI's steampunk setting, that title still offered a number of
elements that planted it squarely amongst its predecessors. Airships
still looked like flying versions of ancient marine vessels, crystals
still figued in prominently, and -- perhaps most importantly -- magic
was still abundant, even if it had begun to lose its typically
primordial place in the setting.

With FFVI, in fact, the supernatural had begun to find itself not so much
supplanted by technology, but coopted by it. While those with the innate
ability to use magic were relatively few, technology allowed the
possibility for anyone to possess it. Not only Magitek Knights such as
Kefka and Celes, but ordinary citizens of Vector -- children even, such
as the one who will use Cure on the player's party -- had been infused
with magical power from magicite crystals.

Even in the cyberpunk setting of FFVII with its mako reactors, mega
corporation Shin-Ra, and technology that made launching a manned
rocket into space a possibility, magic was part of people's daily
lives. Anyone could buy and sell materia crystals, and -- like the
Magitek Knights of FFVI -- Shin-Ra's elite SOLDIER unit was comprised
of individuals infused with the same raw power found in crystals.

The magical energy coursing through the planet even powered everything
in FFVII's world, from cars to televisions and lightbulbs. The worldwide
infrastructure was entirely dependent on magic, even in smaller towns.

And yet, the eldritch was even further subsumed by the technological
here.

That brings us then to FFVIII. Technology is advanced and plentiful.
It also, by and large, runs in much the way one would expect to find it
in the real world. No mako-powered cars here -- they burn gasoline.
Trains travel across an entire continent, while chocobos live in the
wilderness and would hardly be considered practical for travel. And more
than something long aspired to and just within reach, breaching the
atmosphere with a manmade vessel before returning safely to the earth
is easily performed.

It should come as little surprise, then, that in this Final Fantasy
world closest to our own, magic is widely shunned, and those who
possess it inherently are feared and outcast.

Though it still maintains a presence amongst military units, this magic
("para-magic" as it's known) was produced by Dr. Odine studying the
witch embodiment and developing a mechanism to simulate the real thing.
It's not nearly so potent, however. Squall's in-game study panel even
says "it is difficult to achieve power levels that are comparable to
conventional weapons" with it unless it's used in conjunction with
Guardian Forces.

And that's just the beginning of how magic has been relegated to the
bench in the society. As TheOnionKnight noted in the discussion that
led to this article, Guardian Forces can be housed in computers,
the powers of those with inherent magical abilities can be simulated
by machines, and magic in general is approached scientifically -- and
in that context, it's not even considered real magic within the
setting itself.

All that in mind, let's look at the following numbered entry in the
Final Fantasy series. With FFIX, we saw a return to the classic
style of world establishment, as well as its standardized themes. This
is readily apparent even in the marketing tagline attached to the game
in North America: "The Crystal Comes Back."

Indeed, this underscores the minimal role crystals have in FFVIII's
world. Other than the Crystal Pillar, they barely figure in at all.
The crystals that appear in the Deep Sea Deposit and resonate when the
hoist on the final level of the area is activated are the only others of
any significance to be found in the game's world.

Though their resonance before Ultima Weapon appears led these authors
to the conclusion that the hoist was trying to pull a larger crystal out
of the water, even were its presence confirmed, magic is still relegated
not to the backseat, but to the trunk. And all while, the treasure that
lay so near at the bottom of the Deposit remains out of reach. Neither
Squall and co. nor the player is ever rewarded for their efforts with
knowledge of what the lost facility researchers had found.

But suppose for a moment it is a crystal -- one that remains lost amid
all this other loss of the truly mystical in FFVIII's world, the title
before FFIX, where "The Crystal [Came] Back."

Has a discernable message of some sort begun to emerge from the
seemingly aimless elements that were thrown at us with the Deep Sea
Research Center? Was this area the developers' way of acknowledging and
commenting upon the shift Final Fantasy had taken from its roots? As
they would know what we would see with the next entry in the series,
were they saying something about where Final Fantasy had come from,
where it had gone, and where it was going?

Examining the story's ironies, it seems quite possible.

Despite the loss of the Ragnarok 17 years earlier, Esthar had since
established a comfortable presence in space, and humanity's greatest
living enemy -- a witch, of course -- had been set there like a trophy
on a wall. On Battleship Island, even the majestic Bahamut -- a classic
staple of the series, routinely among its most powerful presences, and
an ever-applicable example of its more fantastical side -- had been
subdued, stuck in a test tube like a science experiment, and placed at
the gate as though he were the facility's leashed guard dog.

After being referred to as a GF at the beginning of the battle with him,
Bahamut even expresses fear of Squall and his companions: "...GF? I...?
Using my powers... It is you humans... I fear..."

From this, TheOnionKnight made the following observations:

"Bahamut expresses disdain at being called a 'GF.' That's another
scientific term. He considers himself to be something greater than the
term denotes. And yet he also fears the term 'GF' being applied to him.
His Yoda-speak can be reconfigured to say 'I fear you humans using my
powers.' Take note of the word 'fear.' Humans don't anger him. They
actually make him fearful. Science has already conquered and contained
him in his cylinder. He's also saying that he's afraid of humans when
they use his powers (or powers like his, from other GFs). Humans have
become stronger by harnessing Bahamut's magical kin. There is a
paradigm shift going on that makes Bahamut nervous. But his opinions
are perhaps outdated. GFs are already harnessed. He simply hasn't
seen how widespread this practice has become, because he's been trapped
in a tube for unknown years."

Yet here in the ocean's depths, something more primal still reigns, and
it bears little concern for the technological advancements men bring
with them.

Whatever the researchers found, their undersea towers, test tubes,
steam pressure-controlled locks, and other sophisticated equipment
hadn't mattered. They had entered a realm only a sorceress would have
been at home in. Unable to control this newest discovery, they faded
into history as soundly as the fantastical had everywhere else in the
world.

After traversing the ancient ruins concealed in the Deposit in search of
its secrets, Squall and co. expect to discover a treasure of some sort --
but neither they nor the player is granted any such thing. While true that
the game's most powerful Guardian Force, Eden, can be drawn from Ultima
Weapon, the same GF can be acquired from Tiamat in Ultimecia's Castle.
Once Bahamut has been acquired, there is very little rewarding a player
who decides to fully complete the sidequest.

Perhaps the GF -- who is itself quite the perplexing figure -- is even a
hint to the theme we've begun to explore. Though often assumed to be of
some relation to the Garden and SeeD taxonomy, as a reference to the
mythical Garden of Eden, there's nothing else associating the naming
scheme with Eden. But there may be a little more tying it to this theme
in light of what we've uncovered in our analysis.

For all their trouble in getting to the bottom floor of this lost
realm (another tie to the Garden of Eden?) in which men have no place
trespassing, Squall and co. are greeted as one could expect to be if
approaching the mythical Eden: with the point of a sword and a mighty
foe.


Though Squall and co. do manage to conquer the powerful beast Ultima
Weapon, firmly positioning them as the most powerful living creatures
in the Deposit, they move no closer to unearthing the facility's lost
secrets. The question, posed to us, is left for us to answer.

Have we found the answer in a theme of calling our attention to magic's
triumph over technology before Final Fantasy turned its attention back
to magic? While we cannot say for sure, this author feels confident that
we have at least found one answer.






----------------------------------------------
Another (literary) Ultimecian Analysis [AD12]
----------------------------------------------

(written by TheOnionKnight)


I want to muse a little about Ultimecia.  I won’t be talking about anything 
provable or concrete here.  These are simply impressions that have gone through
my head during the long years I’ve spent playing, replaying and discussing the 
game.  As a forewarning, I’m going to quote three “extra-textual” sources at 
great length, where I believe they speak about themes present in the game 
better than I ever could, so please excuse me if you find these quotations 
overbearing.


(1)

I have always liked Ultimecia.  She is a theatrical villain.  But when I began 
theorizing about Time Compression with Sir Bahamut and Squall_of_SeeD, and 
piecing together Ultimecia’s motivations, I grew to like Ultimecia more and 
more.  This is because her story involves themes and ideas that strike me in 
both a personal and in a larger, universal manner.  There is something 
strangely resonant about her desire to compress time.  There is also something
bold, even heroic, about how she desires to dismantle fate.  The predicament 
she faces is a classical one, and one which every thinking person must also 
face: it is the question of predestination versus free will.

On one hand, Ultimecia’s goal is undoubtedly evil.  She wants to enslave 
existence, and is willing to murder and manipulate people to achieve this end.
But on the other hand, her goal is also very common.  She wants to assert her 
individuality, and prove that she is in control of her own life.  Is this 
really such an ignoble mission?  

Perhaps she goes about it incorrectly.  But however malignant her scheme may 
have been, she uncovers physical, mathematical truths about her universe in the
process, and these truths sit uneasily with me.  I subscribe to the static time
interpretation of the game, and in this model, predestination exists because 
the timeline cannot be altered; in the dynamic model, the time-loop is also 
inevitable.  What this means is that, had Ultimecia’s scheme been more 
humanitarian, she would still have met with failure in her attempt to assert 
her free will.  Fate is a force which crushes her under its wheel.  Her 
personality, her agenda, these things are constructions which reality’s 
physical nature manufacture and compel her to wear.  Any control she wields is 
an illusion.  Her actions, her thoughts, are prescribed by physics.

This same principle holds true for every other character in the game.  Everyone
in FFVIII is an automaton moving on a preset course.  But these other 
characters do not attempt to vie with fate.  In fact, some of the most 
outlandish pieces of dialogue in the story coincide with the cast’s 
almost-lackadaisical attitude towards events transpiring around them.  For 
example, when Squall and Co. wake up after falling unconscious on the train 
ride to Timber, how do they initially react?  

Selphie: “There’s no way we can understand this… Let’s just concentrate on our
first mission!”

Squall: (I guess you’re right…) “We’ll put this incident on hold.  I’ll report 
it to the headmaster once we get back to Garden.”

Zell: “We should be there soon, eh?  Here we go… Psyche yourself up, baby!”

The incident is swept under the rug and forgotten with such instantaneousness 
that it seems absurd.  The characters do not even bother to talk about it 
together in private.  

Later on, Dr. Odine makes this insightful remark:

Dr. Odine: “Compressing time with magic... Vat good will it do for ze sorceress
to compress time?  There may be many reasons, but it doesn't matter.”

The characters float along on the current of the plot, oblivious of the forces 
that direct them, and unconcerned about their own obliviousness.  In part, this
is just lazy writing, but it also reflects how the cast really does deal with 
their problems.  Squall buries himself in introversion and avoids social 
contact.  Esthar isolates itself with super-technology.  Mayor Dobe lives in 
an ideological bubble, and when dealing with someone who holds opposing 
political views, his first response is, “When are you leaving?” (This is the 
point where we would insert a cartoon picture of an ostrich sticking its head
into the sand.)  Only the villains seem interested in changing the status quo,
and when predestination is at stake, only Ultimecia decides to fight against 
it.  Cid and Edea, in direct contrast, actually work to -accommodate- fate by 
forming Garden and training SeeDs.

I cannot bring myself to condemn Ultimecia for fighting fate.  There is 
something in me that can sympathize with her motive.  For this reason, I find
myself cheering for her in certain respects, despite her villainy, and also 
becoming irritated at the other characters for taking such a passive approach
to their own lives.  The developers undoubtedly intended this to a degree.  
When Squall has his breakthrough in the escape pod, and asks Ellone to help him
change time, albeit futilely, this action stands out against his past history 
of passivity.  So does his decision to invade the Sorceress Memorial and free 
Rinoa.  These moments mean something precisely because Squall has finally 
chosen to act.  But they ring hollow to me.  Fate is still involved.  If Squall
and Rinoa get a happy ending, this is not because they chose action over 
passivity; Ultimecia also chose action.  The choice of action itself is not 
what “saves” Squall and Rinoa.  Their happy ending is as random and mechanical
a production of time/space as Ultimecia’s unhappy ending.  And although the 
heroes win and the villains lose, this outcome has nothing to do with morality,
justice or willpower.  It is pure coincidence (dramatic coincidence, to be 
sure).  The time/space continuum does not have a moral conscience.

I am talking as if the events of the story are real, and have no author.  Of 
course the story’s outcome is not coincidental in our reality: the developers 
wrote it that way.  But in the game’s reality, fate is coincidental for the 
characters.  This gives Ultimecia’s death a double-edge.  From outside the 
game, as we play it, we can see that fate crushed her because she was a 
villain, but from inside the game, as I have explained, fate has no rhyme or 
reason to crush her.  Free will simply does not exist, and Ultimecia’s quest 
for it is a pathetic delusional enterprise.  It is this underlying physical law
of the game’s universe that makes Ultimecia’s defeat seem almost bitter to me.
The bitter thing is not that she failed to conquer the globe.  The bitter thing
is that she managed to look overhead and see the puppet strings that were 
animating the cast all along.

What type of message, exactly, is being projected?  I admit that I have no 
clear answer.  The game seems like a strange muddle to me, with weird ideas 
that resonate with disquieting philosophical implications.  


(2)

I cannot claim to know much about Buddhism, but an essay about the religion 
written by Lafcadio Hearn caught my attention.  The essay is entitled “Nirvana:
A Study in Synthetic Buddhism,” and it appears in Hearn’s book “Gleanings in 
Buddha-Fields.”  At one point in the essay, while discussing preexistence and
the transmigration of souls (and how these things both do and do not exist in 
Buddhism), Hearn makes these observations:

“Certainly while we still try to cling to the old theories of permanent 
personality, and of a single incarnation only for each individual, we can find 
no moral meaning in the universe as it exists.  Modern knowledge can discover 
no justice in the cosmic process; – the very most it can offer us by way of 
ethical encouragement is that the unknowable forces are not forces of pure 
malevolence.  ‘Neither moral nor immoral,’ to quote Huxley, ‘but simply 
unmoral.’  Evolutional science cannot be made to accord with this notion of 
indissoluble personality; and if we accept its teaching of mental growth and 
inheritance, we must also accept its teaching of individual dissolution and of 
the cosmos as inexplicable.  It assures us, indeed, that the higher faculties
of man have been developed through struggle and pain, and will long continue 
to be so developed; but it also assures us that evolution is inevitably 
followed by dissolution – that the highest point of development is the point 
likewise from which retrogression begins.  And if we are each and all mere 
perishable forms of being, – doomed to pass away like plants and trees, – what 
consolation can we find in the assurance that we are suffering for the benefit
of the future?  How can it concern us whether humanity becomes more or less 
happy in another myriad ages, if there remains nothing for us but to live and 
die in comparative misery?  Or, to repeat the irony of Huxley, ‘what 
compensation does the Eophippus [a prehistoric horse ancestor] get for his 
sorrows in the fact that, some millions of years afterwards, one of his 
descendants wins the Derby?’

“But the cosmic process may assume quite another aspect if we can persuade 
ourselves, like the Buddhist, that all being is Unity, – that personality is 
but a delusion hiding reality, – that all distinctions of ‘I’ and ‘thou’ are 
ghostly films spun out of perishable sensation, – that even Time and Place as 
revealed to our petty senses are phantasms, – that the past and the present 
and the future are veritably One.  Suppose the winner of the Derby quite well 
able to remember having been the Eophippus?  Suppose the being, once man, able
to look back through all veils of death and birth, through all evolutions of 
evolution, even to the moment of the first faint growth of sentiency out of 
nonsentiency; – able to remember, like the Buddha of the Jatakas, all the 
experiences of his myriad incarnations, and to relate them like fairy-tales for
the sake of another Ananda?

“We have seen that it is not the Self but the Non-Self – the one reality 
underlying all phenomena – which passes from form to form.  The striving for 
Nirvana is a struggle perpetual between false and true, light and darkness, the
sensual and the supersensual; and the ultimate victory can be gained only by 
the total decomposition of the mental and the physical individuality.  Not one 
conquest of self can suffice: millions of selves must be overcome.  For the 
false Ego is a compound of countless ages, and possesses a vitality enduring
beyond universes.”

Here, Hearn’s description of the Buddhist notion that “all being is Unity” 
sounds like Time Compression to me.  When I first read this passage, the exact
parallel between Nirvana and TC made me wonder, in the sense that “wonder” 
means “start to think,” and also in the sense of how a child can “wonder” at a 
marvel.  I reconsidered Ultimecia’s goal.  Would Time Compression be Nirvana
to her, and what would this mean?  It might be like some ultimate sacrilege, to
forcibly seize Nirvana for oneself, but if Time Compression did result in 
Enlightenment, how would Ultimecia change in the process?  Would she remain 
evil, or, having attained unity with past, present and future, would her mind 
clear and her soul blend benignly into the infinite singularity that is 
existence?

Perhaps she would remain evil, and become a tyrannical divinity, as the game 
suggests.  If this is the case, it does not make me wonder any less about Time
Compression defined as Nirvana.  Not only is Ultimecia seeking free will, but 
she is also seeking the simulacrum of a Buddhist holy state, and there is no 
indication that this simulacrum, once obtained, would not –be– that actual holy
state itself.  Her goal becomes extremely universal when Time Compression is 
viewed in this light, and her fated defeat even more troublesome, in my mind.
Is she not on the verge of shedding her “false Ego” during the final battle, 
when her human shell dangles below her true form, a form made from the cosmos
itself, which blends literally into her new incarnation?  In another minute, 
she might very well have achieved “the total decomposition of mental and 
physical individuality” as she achieved Time Compression.

When Rinoa describes what TC would entail, she remarks that “[Ultimecia’s] the
only one who would be able to exist in such a world.  She, and no other.”  This
sounds terrible and menacing and, once again, if Ultimecia was a tyrannical 
divinity, it no doubt would be that.  But consider the statement, and the 
concept, from another angle.  If Ultimecia merged into and became One with the
universe, which is already truly One, she, and no other, would indeed exist, 
because existence is Unity, and behind the façade of reality, Unity, or 
Oneness, is the only thing that ever has existed.  Nothing would alter.  With 
this interpretation, Ultimecia’s victory would not have destroyed the universe,
but rather, it would have affirmed both free will and Nirvana.  Her defeat, 
subsequently, – that coincidental, “unmoral,” to quote Hearn quoting Huxley, 
defeat – crushes both philosophical and religious hope at once.  This 
interpretation seems very dour to me for this reason, and yet Time Compression
does sound so much like Nirvana that I cannot shake the comparison from my 
mind.  

Here’s another thing I wonder: what a Buddhist monk would have to say about 
FFVIII.

In the same book, but in another essay entitled “Within the Circle,” Hearn 
makes additional ruminations about time, space and the nature of existence, but
without any direct connection to Buddhism or Nirvana.  The essay is actually 
more like a “prose poem” than an essay, in which Hearn first describes the 
(imagined? personally experienced?) painful hyper-sensation involved in “seeing
[his] former births.”  Afterwards, a disembodied voice begins a conversation 
with him.  What this voice discusses sounds, once more, uncannily like Time 
Compression to me.  I transcribe the relevant quotation here so that you can 
consider Hearn’s philosophy in tandem with FFVIII’s physical universe.

“‘All that exists in Time must perish,’ [said the voice].  ‘To the Awakened 
there is no Time or Space or Change, –no night or day, –no heat or cold, –no 
moon or season, –no present, past or future.  Form and the names of form are 
alike nothingness: –Knowledge only is real; and unto whomsoever gains it, the 
universe becomes a ghost.  But it is written: –“He who hath overcome Time in 
the past and the future must be of exceedingly pure understanding.”

“‘Such understanding is not yours.  Still to your eyes the shadow seems the 
substance, –and darkness, light, –and voidness, beauty.  And therefore to see 
your former births could give you only pain.’

“I asked: –

“‘Had I found strength to look back to the beginning, –back to the verge of 
Time, –could I have read the Secret of the universe?’

“‘Nay,’ was answer made.  ‘Only by Infinite Vision can the Secret be read.  
Could you have looked back incomparably further than your power permitted, then
the Past would have become for you the Future.  And could you have endured even
yet more, the Future would have orbed back for you into the Present.’

“‘Yet why?’ I murmured, marveling… ‘What is the Circle?’

“‘Circle there is none,” was the response; –“Circle there is none but the great
phantom-whirl of birth and death to which, by their own thoughts and deeds, 
the ignorant remain condemned.  But this has being only in Time; and Time 
itself is an illusion.’”

Whatever these comments were derived from, I find them extremely illuminating
when applied to Time Compression.  Hearn suggests that not only Time and Space,
but also Change, would be revealed as nonexistent to an Awakened person; and 
an Awakened person, in turn, is a person who can perceive that the circular and
finite nature of time is in fact not circular at all, and not finite, because
time is an illusion and finity is not a real aspect.  Infinity, which 
paradoxically –is– singularity, is the only truth.  We cannot understand this 
when we are “within the circle” of time’s illusion, but if we broke from that 
circle and annihilated past, present and future, we would gain comprehension.

Time Compression would annihilate these things for Ultimecia by rendering them
into oneness, ready for absorption into her own mind and body.  I said before
that, had Ultimecia achieved TC, she would have affirmed free will in the 
FFVIII universe.  But, actually, she would have affirmed fate, because Change,
too, would dissolve for her like Time and Space; in a Time Compressed world, 
there is no time and therefore no change.  To take one step backward, if we 
imagine that she –had– achieved TC, this would have meant that she was always
fated to achieve TC, and its attainment would, in fact, have revealed this fact
to her.  This was not the case, however, in the game.  Her fate was to fail, 
but this –also– revealed the truth to her, that truth being: change is 
impossible; fate does exist; time is static, and therefore time is an illusion.

Forgive me if this sounds confusing.  If you have followed me, then you’ll see
that I am not arbitrarily applying Hearn to FFVIII.  His philosophy fits 
hand-in-glove with the physical universe established in the game.  His 
philosophy fits so well that it –is– the physical universe established in the 
game.  I can only imagine that this is because both Hearn and FFVIII deal with
very real philosophical concerns, and those concerns (time, space, being) are 
the same.

Now, the more I understand how time functions in the game, the more I also 
understand how very doomed Ultimecia was from the beginning.  I’m not talking
about childhood persecution.  I’m talking about her desire to usurp fate.  
Fate, to repeat myself again, does indeed crush her in the story.  But even if
she had succeeded in casting TC, and managed to become one with the universe, 
this would’ve simply been another way for fate to have crushed her.  Her 
victory, if she had attained it, would have been fated, and therefore her 
arrival at this victory would have revealed to her, just like her defeat did, 
that free will is nonexistent.  In simpler terms, she is facing a lose-lose 
situation.  Her aspiration towards free will is doubly-pathetic, because 
winning and losing would –both– lead her to the conclusion that there is no 
such thing as free will.  This exposes the aspiration itself as absurd, and 
extends beyond Ultimecia.  Anyone in FFVIII’s world who also believes in free
will believes in a delusion.  Truth in FFVIII, therefore, can only be obtained
by subscribing to the oneness of existence, by surrendering the reins of your
own life, and by recognizing that action and change are worthless phantasms.

This does not strike me as horribly inspirational.  It actually re-colors the 
entire story for me, and makes the Garden’s victorious ascent into the sky 
during the finale seem almost disenchanting.  This is because free will and 
individuality are conjoined concepts in my mind, and the destruction of free 
will involves the obliteration of individuality.  You may ask: but what is 
individuality worth, anyway?  Maybe nothing, and maybe we lose nothing when we
lose it.  This is a possibility.  Our personalities may be entirely composite, 
from inheritances, from copied behaviors, etc., and we may have no true 
individual thoughts in our heads whatsoever.  If this is the case, it’s 
something I’m still learning to accept. 

It is also, if it is the case, quite a heartless concept.  Returning to the 
game, and assuming that free will does not exist, if anyone in the game’s world
ever were to attain Enlightenment (or some other success), this would mean that
time/space had “umorally” determined that outcome.  Conversely, if somebody 
else were to fail at attaining Enlightenment, time/space also “unmorally” 
determined this outcome.  Senseless physical law, therefore, is responsible for
dictating who will be “saved” and who “condemned,” and a person’s fate has 
nothing to do with their spiritual devotion, moral fiber, or what-have-you.  
This is no new idea.  It is the old “cruel world” notion, responsible for 
countless “Why me? Why me?” exclamations in reality and fiction.  In our modern
age, of course, we do not attribute our misery to the Moirae; we attribute it 
to scientific principles, cold-blooded, mathematic.  But we still exclaim “Why 
me?” a lot.  FFVIII seems to present this outlook as the factual basis inside 
its fictionalized universe.  The question now becomes: what do we make of it?

I have already said what I make of it.  These ramblings are my thoughts.  You 
might have another interpretation.  Other interpretations are certainly 
available.

For example, it is possible to argue that free will and predestination are able
to coexist.  If you were to accept this argument, then perhaps Ultimecia’s 
defeat does not put the last nail in free will’s coffin after all.  I realize
that I am opening something like a can of worms, and that I cannot even begin
to brush the surface of the concepts I’m addressing, but I would like to 
present a quotation from Boethius’s “Consolation of Philosophy” that argues in
favor of free will coexisting with predestination.

“The Consolation of Philosophy” was written around 524 AD, and is an extended
philosophical treatise concerning fate, free will, good and evil, and the 
potential moral underpinnings of the universe.  It is actually couched in a 
fictional story where Philosophy, embodied as a woman, comes to sooth Boethius 
in his prison cell (he really was imprisoned for treason when he wrote the 
book) and presents a chain of logical arguments to him.  Near the end of the 
work, when Philosophy makes the claim that “a good power rules the world and
everything happens aright,” Boethius asks her to “unravel the causes of matters
that lie hidden and to unfold reasons veiled in darkness.”  In other words, he 
says, “Explain yourself.”

She replies:

“You are urging me to the greatest of all questions, a question that can never 
be exhausted.  The subject is of such a kind that when one doubt has been 
removed, countless others spring up in its place, like the Hydra’s heads.  The
only way to check them is with a really lively intellectual fire.  The usual 
subjects of inquiry concern the oneness of providence, the course of fate, the
haphazard nature of the random events of chance, divine knowledge and 
predestination, and the freedom of the will; you can see for yourself how 
difficult they are.”

But she agrees, despite the difficulty, to explain them to Boethius, and the 
entire concluding section of the book is devoted to a long logical argument 
where Philosophy establishes one point for the sake of balancing another atop 
it.  I cannot quote the entire section here, but if you’re interested, you 
should read the book yourself to see the full argument.  Suffice it to say that
Philosophy is not blowing hot air, and when she reaches the conclusion I will 
quote, she has a solid logical ground for having reached it.  Her conclusion is
as follows:

“If you say at this point that what God sees as a future event cannot but 
happen, and what cannot but happen, happens of necessity, and if you bind me 
to this word necessity, I shall have to admit that it is a matter of the 
firmest truth, but one which scarcely anyone except a student of divinity has 
been able to fathom.  I shall answer that the same future event is necessary 
when considered with reference to divine foreknowledge, and yet seems to be 
completely free and unrestricted when considered in itself.  For there are two
kinds of necessity; one simple, as for example the fact that it is necessary 
that all men are mortal; and one conditional, as for example, if you know 
someone is walking, it is necessary that he is walking.  For that which a man
knows cannot be other than as it is known; but this conditional necessity does 
not imply simple necessity, because it does not exist in virtue of its own 
nature, but in virtue of a condition which is added.  No necessity forces the
man to walk who is making his way of his own free will, although it is 
necessary that he walks when he takes a step.

“In the same way, if Providence sees something as present, it is necessary for
it to happen, even though it has no necessity in its own nature.  God sees 
those future events which happen of free will as present events; so that these
things when considered with reference to God’s sight of them do happen 
necessarily as a result of the condition of divine knowledge; but when 
considered in themselves, they do not lose the absolute freedom of their 
nature. All things, therefore, whose future occurrence is known to God do 
without doubt happen, but some of them are the result of free will.  In spite 
of the fact that they do happen, their existence does not deprive them of their
true nature, in virtue of which the possibility of their non-occurrence 
existed before they happened.

“What does it matter, then, if they are not necessary, when because of the 
condition of divine foreknowledge it will turn out exactly as if they were 
necessary?  The answer is this.  It is impossible for the two events I 
mentioned just now – the rising of the sun and the man walking – not to be 
happening when they do happen; and yet it was necessary for one of them to 
happen before it did happen, but not so for the other.  And so, those things 
which are present to God will without doubt happen; but some of them result 
from the necessity of things, and some of them from the power of those who do 
them. […]

“But, you will reply, if it lies in my power to change a proposed course of 
action, I will be able to evade Providence, for I will perhaps have altered 
things which Providence foreknows.  My answer will be that you can alter your 
plan, but that since this is possible, and since whether you do so or in what 
way you change it is visible to Providence the ever present and true, you 
cannot escape divine foreknowledge, just as you cannot escape the sight of an
eye that is present to watch, though of your own free will you may turn to a 
variety of actions.

“Well, you will ask, isn’t divine knowledge changed as a result of my 
rearrangement, so that as I change my wishes it, too, seems to change its 
knowledge?  The answer is no.  Each future thing is anticipated by the gaze of
God which bends it back and recalls it to the presence of its own manner of 
knowledge; it does not change, as you think, with alternate knowledge of now 
this and now that, but with one glance anticipates and embraces your changes 
in its constancy.  God receives this present mode of knowledge and vision of 
all things not from the issue of future things but from His own immediacy.  
So that the difficulty you put forward a short time ago, that it was unfitting 
if our future is said to provide a cause for God’s knowledge, is solved.  The 
power of this knowledge which embraces all things in present understanding has 
itself established the mode of being for all things and owes nothing secondary
to itself.  And since this is so, man’s freedom of will remains inviolate and 
the law does not impose reward and punishment unfairly, because the will is 
free from all necessity.”

It should be noted that although Boethius believes in the Christian God, there
is no trace of theological dogma in his arguments, which are purely logical,
and earlier in the book, Philosophy in fact defines God as follows: “Nature’s 
fixed order could not proceed on its path and the various kinds of change could
not exhibit motions so orderly in place, time, effect, distance from one 
another, and nature, unless there was one unmoving and stable power to 
regulate them.  For this power, whatever it is, through which creation remains
in existence and in motion, I use the word which all people use, namely God.”  
If we were to define God as the mathematical truths of physics, we would be 
using roughly the same definition that Philosophy employs.  This is essential
 to understand when considering her speech about God’s knowledge and divine 
Providence, and we may effectively substitute “Fate” for “God” in her argument,
if we also understand “Fate” to be nothing more than the static timeline, which
“observes” everything because everything already “is.”

In other words, just because time is static, and change is nonexistent, this 
does not mean that people lack free will.  Free will and fate only appear to 
clash because of their technical definitions and our own limited perspective 
from “within the circle,” so to speak.  God, or fate, knows what actions we 
will make, and these are transcribed on the timeline “in advance,” but God and
fate are not responsible for compelling us to make these actions.  –We– are 
responsible for our own choices, and it is –our– decisions which inscribe 
events onto the timeline.  Time/space is now the passive entity, and we are the
active agents whose willpowers authored the course of existence from the 
beginning of the universe.  Nothing will ever change for God, and events are 
predestined, because, once more, time is an illusion, and God exists as an 
eternal singularity which encompasses past, present and future, allowing Him 
to view our “future” actions before we make them, but we are still motivating 
those actions from our flawed sense of the “present.”  

Reconsider Time Compression, wherein time and space cease to be, and yet 
wherein Ultimecia is said to still possess intent.  This is truly a status 
which fuses mortal and divine perspectives, and in it, Ultimecia would be able
to witness her own future actions while also perceiving her power of choice to
influence them.

It is really like the “chicken or egg” question.  Which comes first: free will 
or fate?  If one comes first, it precludes the other from existing, but in the 
Boethian cosmos, both come “first” because both always were, are and will be.
Ultimecia would be able to grasp this paradox in a Time Compressed world in 
ways which we are incapable of grasping in the normal world.

But I am not personally convinced that the Boethian cosmos does apply to the 
FFVIII universe.  It flirts with applicability, but unlike Hearn’s Buddhist 
gleanings, it doesn’t achieve the necessary hand-in-glove fit.  This is because
of the time-loop, and also because of Ellone’s failed ventures.  Boethius’s 
philosophies do seem to allow the potential for time-travel, in the sense that
if such a thing were possible, free will would shape the “past” and the 
“future” just as free will already shapes the “future.”  The game, however, 
apparently rejects this idea in the Ellone subplot: when Ellone attempts to 
apply her will to the timeline, she finds that she can change nothing, and this
is because, unlike Ultimecia at the orphanage, she had not “already” changed 
it.  Had she possessed true free will, the timeline would’ve already 
accommodated her decision, and she would have succeeded to a greater degree in
her mission.  Instead, she appears to possess consciousness but not legitimate
freedom, and when she consciously chooses to look into the past, it is only to 
discover that her actions can leave no imprint.

Now, Sir Bahamut has posited that this is simply because Ellone is not as 
powerful as Ultimecia, and therefore cannot influence events as drastically.
While I acknowledge the possibility and even probability of that explanation, 
the thematic purpose behind Ellone’s failure seems to imply something greater
to me.  If Ellone is weaker, magically, than Ultimecia, this does not strike me
as the primary message to take from her subplot; rather, I read the subplot as
an example of a character butting heads with fate directly, and coming away 
empty-handed.  Time/space appears to be molding Ellone, rather than the 
opposite, which would have occurred in a Boethian cosmos.

Squall_of_SeeD, meanwhile, believes that Boethius may still apply to the game,
and has stated this about the subject:

“From a perspective outside a timeline -- God's point of view, if you will -- 
changes to that timeline would not necessarily be any less fated to occur. 
They're a natural, physical consequence of objects already in motion -- even
if some of those objects hail from the
future.  To put it another way, I'm reminded of a discussion that took place 
some years ago on GameFAQs.  One of the countless ‘vs.’ topics that we've all
seen a thousand times, it was nothing particularly special until someone made 
the assertion that putting Squall up against anyone prior to FFVIII's ending 
isn't a fair fight because he's fated to be there to kill Ulty, so he would 
have to come through any obstacle that met him before then. Compelled to 
respond, suddenly drawing on a fresh understanding of Dynamic Time that I'd 
never been able to illustrate before, I said, ‘Squall didn't win because it was
fate; it was fate because he won.’”

As you can see, there are many outlooks available, and if you reach an 
interpretation that differs from mine, I would not be surprised (after all, my
 two co-authors have).  And although I don’t think that Boethius’s philosophy
is perfectly compatible with FFVIII, it has certainly informed my opinion.  In
any case, I do believe that is very necessary to weigh the possibility of free 
will’s potential existence against its potential nonexistence to reach a 
conclusion about Ultimecia’s story.


(3)

But now I want to put aside logic and physics, and approach Time Compression 
from a more personal – perhaps even artistic – direction.  The TC concept, the 
more I consider it, continues to open more fantastically for me, like those tea
leaves that bloom during infusion in hot water, and I find that it operates not
only on an intellectual, but also on an emotional level.  To explain what I 
mean, I am going to bring in my last “extra-textual” source: Marcel Proust.

When I first read “In Search of Lost Time,” I did not instantly think about 
Ultimecia.  But when I next thought about Ultimecia, I found myself returning 
to “Lost Time,” and revisiting passages in it.  This monumental book is like no
other ever written, and it opens doors to so many things.  One that I never 
anticipated was a door into FFVIII.  The novel lent me yet another, and a 
deeper, understanding of TC.

In the book, Proust explores (among many, many other ideas) the personal 
relationship which all humans experience with time.  There is a famous episode
in the first volume in which the narrator tastes a madeleine cookie dipped in 
tea; this taste sensation triggers an involuntary memory, the most powerful 
form of nostalgia, uniting past with present, and reviving a moment from the 
narrator’s childhood when his grandmother gave him a madeleine dipped into tea
as a treat.  The narrator experiences other flashes of involuntary memory 
throughout the book, and finally reaches this understanding about the strength
of memory in the novel’s last volume:

“The truth surely was that the being within me which had enjoyed these 
impressions had enjoyed them because they had in them something that was common
to a day long past and to the present, because in some way they were 
extra-temporal, and this being made its appearance only when, through one of 
these identifications of the present with the past, it was likely to find 
itself in the one and only medium in which it could exist and enjoy the essence
of things, that is to say: outside time.  This explained why it was that my 
anxiety on the subject of my death had ceased at the moment when I had 
unconsciously recognized the taste of the little madeleine, since the being 
which at that moment I had been was an extra-temporal being and therefore 
unalarmed by the vicissitudes of the future.  This being had only come to me, 
only manifested itself outside of activity and immediate enjoyment, on those 
rare occasions when the miracle of an analogy had made me escape from the 
present. […]

“[...] A moment of the past, did I say?  Was it not perhaps very much more: 
something that, common both to the past and to the present, is much more 
essential than either of them? […]

“[…] In the observation of the present, where the senses cannot feed it [a 
person's inner being] with this food [a sustenance made from the essence of 
things], it languishes, as it does in the consideration of a past made arid by
the intellect or in the anticipation of a future which the will constructs 
with fragments of the present and the past, fragments whose reality it still
further reduces by preserving of them only what is suitable for the 
utilitarian, narrowly human purpose for which it intends them.  But let a noise
or a scent, once heard or once smelt, be heard or smelt again in the present 
and at the same time in the past, real without being actual, ideal without 
being abstract, and immediately the permanent and habitually concealed essence
of things is liberated and our true self, which seemed - had perhaps for long 
years seemed - to be dead but was not altogether dead, is awakened and 
reanimated as it receives the celestial nourishment that is brought to it.  A 
minute freed from the order of time has re-created, in us, the man freed from 
the order of time.  And one can understand that this man should have confidence
in his joy, even if the simple taste of a madeleine does not seem logically to
contain within it the reasons for this joy, one can understand that the word
‘death’ should have no meaning for him; situated outside time, why should he 
fear the future?”

Proust explains, in the book, that he is seeking to capture a universal truth, 
and that his success can be measured by how his readers respond to the novel.
If he has succeeded, then his readers will recognize the feelings that he is 
describing, in the novel, in themselves; more, his readers will actually feel 
those feelings manifest in themselves as they read.  The novel is not a classic
without reason.  Many people do feel the emotions that Proust is evoking, 
because involuntary memory and nostalgia are universal human sensations.  They
may perhaps be the most important sensations that a person can ever feel.  
What interests me is Proust’s notion that they are so powerful because they 
exist “outside time.”  When we experience an emotion in the present that we 
knew exactly in the past, past and present dissolve as we become aware of that
emotion’s purest form.  The calendar crumbles; our place in space expands 
infinitely, until there is no more space and no more time: we exist in a 
dimension of only, of total sensation.

Within Time Compression, past, present and future would dissolve for Ultimecia,
and she would exist permanently “outside time” in a state where every emotion 
is purest and every sensation heightened.  She would live forever in that 
moment at which Proust’s narrator tastes his madeleine.  If you have ever 
experienced a feeling like what Proust describes, then you can appreciate the 
potency and the pleasure of such a feeling.  It is the epitome of euphoria 
wrapped in an epiphany.  It is enlightenment.  Time Compression, for Ultimecia,
would be mental, emotional, spiritual enlightenment on every single level, but
also on the most basic human level, because every single person with emotions
can and must feel it at least once in a lifetime.  Ultimecia would feel it for 
all time, because she would feel it without time.

In this sense, Ultimecia’s egomaniacal mission can be understood to be the same
mission that every person faces and yearns to accomplish.  She wants, like 
Proust did, to regain lost time.  This is not the evil goal of a villain.  It
is the commonest goal in the world, and also perhaps the most profound.  We all
desire to “compress time,” but hopefully by now I have established that a Time 
Compressed world is merely a world in which time does not even exist – and such
a world, or at least the perception of such a world, is indeed attainable in 
life.  It is embodied in Proust’s extra-temporal moments, where the joy that we
feel has nothing to do with our physical reality (Proust did not go into 
raptures because the madeleine just tasted that spectacular), but has 
everything to do with the process of remembrance itself, and the fact that this
process shatters Time on an ideological plane that we nevertheless experience
as intensely as happiness or sorrow.  This elevated emotion is the purpose of 
Art in Proust’s novel, and therefore the purpose of Art in real life; it is 
also, perhaps, –the– purpose of sentient existence, if you are willing to humor
such a grandiose statement.

An additional comparison may be drawn here between Proust’s extra-temporal 
moment and Hearn’s notion of Nirvana.  They seem quite similar, and both seem 
similar to Time Compression.  Are all three, perhaps, the same thing?  Proust’s
approach to “Nirvana” is certainly not the ascetic approach of any Buddhist!  
But do they not arrive at an oddly identical goal?  Does not Ultimecia also 
arrive at this goal – or almost arrive there, before her defeat?

I have quoted this speech in this FAQ before, but I am going to quote it again,
because when it is juxtaposed with Proust, it gains unsuspected depths:

Ultimecia: “Reflect on your… Childhood… Your sensation… Your words… 
	Your emotions… Time… It will not wait… No matter how hard you hold 
	on.  It escapes you… And…”

Apart from suggesting a new awareness of static time, and the futility of 
attempting change, Ultimecia’s words also probe into the very same 
extra-temporal sensations that Proust describes in his “Lost Time.” 

Others have noted that Ultimecia seems rather pacifistic at this stage of the 
battle.  Why has her mood softened so much, when she was spitting venom at her
opponents just a few minutes earlier?  I believe that this is because she was 
not half-merged with the Oneness of the universe a few minutes earlier.  She 
only begins to philosophize when her defeat is immanent, and it is at precisely
this moment that she forms the opinion she states.  She has achieved the brink
of enlightenment, and then feels enlightenment slipping away forever, informing
her remark that time “will not wait… no matter how hard you hold on.”  This 
opinion directly opposes Proust’s novel, while nevertheless acknowledging the 
sensations that his novel attempts to capture.  It also opposes an opinion that
Ultimecia herself stated earlier in the game.

Ultimecia: "Come with me to a place of no return. Bid farewell to your 
	 childhood."

“Bid farewell to your childhood” and “Reflect on your… childhood” are two 
bookend remarks.  Ultimecia makes the first remark in her first appearance, and
the last in the final battle.  These two conflicting pieces of advice indicate 
an ideological shift in Ultimecia’s worldview.  Although Ultimecia is 
declaring, in both instances, that childhood, and therefore the past, is 
impossible to recapture, she no longer shuns the contemplation of that lost era
when she speaks during the final battle.  Even if time “escapes you,” she still
says that you should “reflect.”  This is a radical departure from when she told
Seifer to “bid farewell” to his lost innocence.  

Her worldview has shifted, of course, because she has come so close to 
achieving Time Compression.  But fate strips away her epiphany, revealing in 
that single gesture both the glorious possibility of Nirvana and the “unmoral”
impossibility of attaining it in the FFVIII universe – or, at least, the 
impossibility of attaining it via free will.  And her speech reads like a 
bittersweet dirge or a eulogy as a result – a dirge or a eulogy for the death 
of enlightenment itself.  At the same instant, the speech is a rebuke against 
space/time: even if the past is destined to escape, Ultimecia has advised 
Squall and Co. to reflect on it, regardless.  Is this not one final, 
revolutionary declamation against fate, uttered in fate’s very jaws?  Ultimecia
refuses to surrender, which makes her impending destruction seem tragic to me;
tragic, because it represents the destruction of the philosophies she embodied,
whether her surface motives were moral or amoral in the end.

I am not quite prepared to sail away on the Garden with Squall and Rinoa, and I
admit that I might be in the minority.  The game’s developers seem to have 
intended the ending to be happy, for love to conquer all, etc.  Does it?  Maybe
not so neatly.  Laguna is still left standing at Raine’s grave.  Acceptance, I 
suppose, is meant to really be the key.  Ultimecia was unwilling to accept her
destiny.  Squall finally did accept his.  The authorial hand punished and 
rewarded them in accordance with this precept.

There are truly so many components.

I will end my musings here, having come to no firm conclusion.  It may be years
before I come to one of those, if ever.  In the meantime, I hope I haven’t 
rambled too incoherently, and beg pardon for my amateur handling of the 
philosophy involved.

As one last note, I highly recommend both Lafcadio Hearn and Marcel Proust to
anyone interested, not only in time, space and memory, but also in good 
literature!  Which, by the way, this game is: literature.  And I would 
challenge anyone to play through it, and then to read this FAQ, if they doubt 
that a video-game can be art.




 ===================================
 -Section V: Credits-
 ===================================

 * SideswipeZulu, admo, bleedingdigits, Druff, JD IXI, Big D, Xshu, lindblum
 resident, Yuthura Ban, Skyblade, Douglas "Fox-Raweln" Meneghetti, Riku
 Heartless, Katicflis, PMog, flametongue, TJF588, Ryan Goss, Vir27 and
 countless others from GameFAQs and elsewhere who participated in all the
 arguments we had on these issues, giving invaluable insight and arguments.
 This FAQ wouldn't be here without all of you!

 * Leuchest/The Dark Legend, for his compilations of in-game information, as
 well as generally contributing greatly and consistently in discussions.

 * A very special thanks goes to DarkAngel, staff member at 
 AdventChildren.net, and owner of the Gunshot Romance website, for translating
 articles from the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania guide. 

 * CJayC for creating such a great forum and FAQ site. 

 * Square, for making a game filled with such a lot of interesting material to
 debate and discuss (even if you did cop out on a few issues). 

 * Finally, although perhaps unnecessary as I have already credited them as
 co-authors, I have to give a great thank you to Squall_Of_SeeD and 
 TheOnionKnight. My discussions with you two in particular have been very 
 rewarding, not only when it comes to FF8, but even in maturing me as a 
 person and debater. Again, thank you!

 
 Thank you for reading, we hope you enjoyed it.
 
 Yours sincerely,
 Kristian J. Strømmen, aka Sir Bahamut,
 B. Burke, aka TheOnionKnight,
 Glenn Morrow, aka Squall_Of_SeeD