The Gestahlian Empire (ガストラ帝国, Gasutora Teikoku?) is a governmental organization in the game Final Fantasy VI. In the original Super NES release it is simply called The Empire, but is named the Gestahlian Empire in the Game Boy Advance release. The Empire and its officers serve as the primary antagonists for the first part of the game.
The Empire was formed 685 years before the events of Final Fantasy VI, where it had declared its independence from the world as a military state and intended to create a global police force. Several decades before Final Fantasy VI, Gestahl was born as heir to a military family. The empire also experienced a military coup 13 years later. Little is known about the coup other than Gestahl's father being heavily involved. The imperial palace was later constructed 21 years afterward as the Emperor is facing increasing pressure to expanding its armaments. Gestahl becomes Emperor 18 years later, and mutual peace was later agreed upon, although Narshe refused to sell coal to the invading Gestahlian Empire with armed resistance. Two years later, the Gestahlian Empire started its first military campaign, resulting in its conquering the entire south continent. It is during this time that Emperor Gestahl first captures the Espers that fuel Magitek, with the Magitek Research Facility being developed shortly thereafter. This technology was developed by Cid Del Norte Marquez, the chief engineer of the Empire, after Gestahl led a band of troops into the Land of Espers and brought back numerous Espers to Vector, where Cid developed a technique for extracting the magic out of them. He tested this technology on Kefka Palazzo, but the process was still in development and was very rudimentary - it shattered Kefka's mind and left him an insane psychopath. Six years afterwards, a major restructuring of the military's command structure commenced, and the initial results of the research facility were published by the Gestahlian Empire.
The Magitek process was later refined and the Empire began to mass-produce Magitek weapons. Magic was granted to the Empire's elite soldiers, resulting in Magitek Knights, including General Celes Chere. Four years after the initial results, the Empire commenced its second military campaign, resulting in the conquest of the Western continent due largely to the deployment of the experimental Magitek Armors. The main Magitek weapon in use was Magitek Armor, large armored machines piloted by an Imperial soldier that could channel and fire beams of magical energy. Various other Magitek machines were created at this time, including the Imperial Air Force, and the Empire's strongest weapon, the Guardian. Seven years afterwards, the Gestahlian Empire got into some skirmishes with Doma, with the former pursuing a third military campaign a year later. With Magitek's unequaled power, the Gestahlian Empire began to conquer the world. The other nations on the southern continent where Vector is located - Tzen, Albrook and Maranda - were conquered one by one, and by the time Final Fantasy VI begins the Empire is beginning its push into the north.
Approximately twenty years after their initial invasion of the Esper land, the Empire dispatched Terra Branford with Biggs and Wedge to invade Narshe and capture frozen Esper the town had dug up in the mines. The raid failed, and would later have critical consequences for the Empire: the Slave Crown controlling Terra was damaged, and she regained her free will and eventually sided with the rebel faction, the Returners. This act would ultimately mark the turning of the tide against the Empire.
Meanwhile, the Empire continued to push into the north. Doma sided with the Returners and was besieged by the Empire. The entire nation was wiped out when Kefka poisoned the water supply of the castle, leaving Cyan Garamonde and a Doma sentry as the only survivors. The Empire also invades South Figaro to use as a staging ground for a full-scale attack on Narshe, but the Returners defend the town a second time. The Returners later destroyed the Magitek Research Facility, cutting off the Empire's supply of weaponry, but the attack taught the Empire about Magicite, which can transfer magical energy to the holder at a much higher rate than the Empire's extractions from Espers.
The Returners opened the gate to the Esper World to try and negotiate a coordinated attack on Vector, between the Espers and the Returners, but the Espers went berserk and proved stronger than either side expected, decimating Vector. The Empire called a ceasefire and asked for the Returners to cooperate in extended the ceasefire to the rogue Espers, but this was a ruse to draw the Espers out of hiding. Kefka reduced the Espers to Magicite, and with their newfound powers Gestahl and Kefka raised the Floating Continent and found the Warring Triad, the petrified statues of the three gods of magic.
At this point, the Empire as it was known was mostly gone - the Empire's forces in the conquered nations were all withdrawn, and even Vector and the Imperial palace were completely abandoned. The only sizable force left was the Imperial Air Force, which was destroyed when the Returners attacked the Floating Continent. Following Gestahl's death and the end of the world, the Empire is entirely destroyed, and Vector is destroyed to make way for Kefka's Tower. Only a single Imperial soldier remains, wandering the lobby of Dragon's Neck Colosseum, and a lone suit of Magitek armor remains in South Figaro's streets as a "souvenir of the Empire." Any other Imperial soldiers may have been press-ganged into Kefka's service, as modified Magitek machines can be found in Kefka's Tower.
At the height of their rule, the Empire commanded the entire southern continent along with Doma and South Figaro. For the most part their rule is unopposed since 18 years prior to Final Fantasy VI, although a few people secretly support the Returners. The Imperial capital is Vector, located at the heart of the southern continent. Vector consists of the city dominated by the Imperial Palace and the Magitek Research Facility looming over it. Tzen and Maranda are occupied by Imperial Troops, and Albrook is heavily patrolled and used as a port city for the Empire's ships. South Figaro was occupied for a springboard attack on Narshe, and Doma was destroyed due to them being Returner sympathizers. In addition to their control over various towns, the Empire maintained a base near the Cave to the Sealed Gate.
A few places succeeded in remaining outside Imperial influence - Thamasa and Mobliz were neutral and were likely avoided by the Empire as they were small villages isolated from the rest of civilization. Zozo was probably considered too uncivilized to target, and Jidoor was avoided for unknown reasons, though it is possible the town used its wealth to avoid attack. It is mentioned that the Empire invaded Kohlingen in the past, but their attack was repelled.
The Empire is ruled over by Emperor Gestahl and his two highest-ranking generals, Celes Chere and Leo Cristophe. Leo led the attack on Doma, and Celes may have led the attack on South Figaro, as this is where she is held prisoner when she rebels. It is also mentioned that Celes is the one who attacked Maranda. Along with the two generals is Kefka Palazzo, Gestahl's ambassador and court mage who acts as a sort of free-lance agent, pursuing interests the Empire has that for whatever reason Leo is not dispatched on. In addition to these four, various lesser-ranked officers often lead the Empire's field skirmishes. Terra Branford, due to her unique abilities, was apparently commanded directly by the Emperor himself, and was only sent out on the most important missions.
Various armored soldiers make up the largest wing of the Empire's army. There are four known ranks of soldier - Green-armored troops are cadets, brown-armored troops comprise most of the Empire's forces, and come in several individual ranks of power, including Commander, Imperial Soldier, Corporal, Sergeant and Soldier. Black-armored troops act as field commanders, and the fourth rank is Gestahl's personal bodyguards, the Imperial Elite, only ever seen in the Imperial Castle wearing customized armor. Although they are highly weak in comparison to the Empire's mechanical forces, they are much more numerous and often comprise the first wave of attacks in the Empire's sieges. Slightly stronger soldiers, the Templar, Officer, Captain, and General also appear.
The most powerful wing of the Empire's army is the Magitek Armor division. Consisting of various armored machines, three variations of Armor are shown; Magitek Armor, Heavy Armor, and Mega Armor. Proto Armor also appears in the Magitek Research Facility, but is never sent out to the field and is likely, as its name implies, just a Magitek prototype kept in the factory. After the apocalypse, Duel Armor and Fortis appear in Kefka's Tower and appear to be modified Magitek Armor.
Imperial Air ForceEdit
The Empire's relatively small and weak air power, the Air Force consists of Sky Armor and Spitfire. Although the Anthologies release shows the Air Force patrolling Vector, they are only ever fought in the Battle over the Floating Continent. Like the Duel Armor, enhanced flying machines called Death Machines are found in Kefka's Tower.
In addition to the above forces, several unique machines and soldiers are used by the Empire, as follows:
- Tunnel Armor: a burrowing machine, it was part of the South Figaro forces and was tunneling in the cave to Figaro Castle, possibly to find out where the castle had burrowed and gone to.
- Hell's Rider: a soldier riding an unknown beast, it was Kefka's bodyguard during his attack on Narshe.
- Number 024: a humanoid Magitek machine, it guarded the Magitek Research Facility's deepest chamber where most of the active Espers were kept and studied.
- Number 128: another Magitek facility guard, it guarded the railroad tracks leading out of the Facility.
- Cranes: two cranes atop the Imperial Castle, Kefka used them to attack the Blackjack as it escaped.
- Air Force: the commander of the Imperial Air Force, it battled the Returners as they attempted to land on the Floating Continent. It has two attachments, Missile Bay and Laser Gun, and it can launch Bits to absorb magic.
- Guardian: the Empire's ultimate weapon, used to protect the Imperial Palace and later Vector itself. The Guardian eventually guards the tower summit in Kefka's Tower as the final Magitek enemy in the game. It is able to mimic the battle styles of other bosses like Ultros and Dadaluma by running different battle programs.
As with the above mentioned Duel Armor and Death Machines, modified versions of the Magitek specialty forces are seen in Kefka's Tower - Inferno resembles Number 128, and Prometheus resembles Tunnel Armor. As well, Number 024 resembles the Magic Master that guards the Cultists' Tower's highest chamber, but is is unknown if there is a connection as the Magic Master appears to be human, while Number 024 is a machine.
Allusions to the Galactic EmpireEdit
The Empire contains many allusions to the Galactic Empire from the Star Wars universe.
- In A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin uses the phrase "Rebel Scum." A common phrase that Imperial soldiers use to refer to the Returners is "Returner Scum," or "Scum! You're Returners!".
- The Imperial soldiers also tend to act like the Imperial Stormtroopers due to their perceived incompetence. When Locke rescues Celes, if he is dressed in an Imperial soldier's uniform, Celes asks him, "Aren't you a little short for an Imperial soldier?" an allusion to the same line given by Leia Organa to Luke Skywalker.
- Magitek Armor units are similar to All Terrain Personnel Transports.
- Setzer says that "The Empire has made me a rich man" before joining the Returners. This is an allusion to The Empire Strikes Back, in which Lando Calrissian makes a deal with the Galactic Empire, though not for money but to save his city. Lando later joined the Rebel Alliance.
- Biggs and Wedge are named after two Star Wars characters. However, the two original characters are members of the rebel alliance, not the Galactic Empire.