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The time has come for us to claim our rightful dominion over the world! Nothing shall stand in our way!
The Gestahlian Empire (ガストラ帝国, Gasutora Teikoku?) is a governmental organization in Final Fantasy VI. In the original Super Nintendo release, it was simply called The Empire, but it is named the Gestahlian Empire in the Game Boy Advance and following releases. The Empire and its officers serve as the primary antagonists for the first part of the game. It has been suggested that the symbol depicted on the Imperial banner is the mouth of a Magitek Armor.
The Empire was formed 685 years ago where it had declared its independence from the world as a military state and intended to create a global police force. Several decades ago Gestahl was born as heir to a military family. The empire 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 constructed 21 years afterward, as the Emperor was facing increasing pressure to expand its armaments. Gestahl became Emperor 18 years later, and world peace was 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, conquering the south continent. During this time Emperor Gestahl discovered the Esper World where he captured the espers that fuel Magitek with the Magitek Research Facility being developed shortly thereafter. The technology was developed by Cid Del Norte Marquez, the Empire's chief engineer, after Gestahl led a band of soldiers into the Esper World and brought back numerous espers to Vector, where Cid developed a technique for extracting the magic from them. He tested this technology on Kefka Palazzo, but the process was still in development and was rudimentary—it shattered Kefka's mind and left him a psychopath. Six years afterwards the military's command structure was restructured and the initial results of the research facility were published by the Empire.
The Magitek process was refined and the Empire began to mass-produce Magitek weapons. Magic was granted to the Empire's elite soldiers, who became known as Magitek Knights, including General Celes Chere. Four years after the initial results, the Empire commenced its second military campaign, conquering the Western continent due largely to the deployment of the experimental Magitek Armors, the main Magitek weapon in use. Magitek Armor is a large armored machine piloted by an Imperial soldier who can channel beams of magical energy. Various other Magitek machines were created, including the Imperial Air Force, and the Empire's strongest weapon, the Guardian. Seven years on the Gestahlian Empire got into 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 entire world. The other nations on the southern continent where Vector is located—Tzen, Albrook and Maranda—were conquered one by one, and the Empire begins pushing into the north.
Approximately twenty years after their initial invasion of the Esper World, the Empire dispatches Terra Branford with Biggs and Wedge to raid Narshe and capture the frozen esper the town had dug up in a new mine shaft. The raid fails, and the slave crown controlling Terra is damaged, allowing her to regains her free will and side with a rebel faction, the Returners. This marks the turning of the tide against the Empire.
Doma sides with the Returners and is besieged by the Empire. The nation is wiped out when Kefka poisons Doma Castle's water supply leaving Cyan Garamonde and a Doma sentry as the only survivors. The Empire occupies South Figaro to use as a staging ground for a full-scale attack on Narshe, but the Returners repel the Empire's attack on the mining town in the Battle for the Frozen Esper. The Returners destroy the Magitek Research Facility, cutting off the Empire's supply of weaponry, but the attack teaches the Empire about magicite, which can transfer magical energy to the holder at a much higher rate than the Empire's extraction from espers.
The Returners open the Sealed Gate to the Esper World to negotiate a coordinated attack on Vector between the espers and the Returners, but the espers go berserk and decimate Vector. The Empire calls a ceasefire and asks for the Returners to cooperate in extending the ceasefire to the rogue espers, but this is a ruse to draw the espers out of hiding. Kefka reduces the espers to magicite, and with their newfound powers Gestahl and Kefka raise the Floating Continent and find the Warring Triad, the petrified statues of the three gods of magic.
At this point, the Empire as it was known is mostly gone. The Empire's forces in the conquered nations are withdrawn, and even Vector and the Imperial Palace are abandoned. The only sizeable force left is the Imperial Air Force, which is destroyed when the Returners attack the Floating Continent. Following Gestahl's death and the end of the world, the Empire falls apart, 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 are 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 some people secretly support the Returners. The Imperial capital is Vector, located at the heart of the southern continent. Vector is a city dominated by the Imperial Palace and the Magitek Research Facility looming over it. Tzen and Maranda are occupied by Imperial soldiers, and Albrook is used as a port city for the Empire's ships. South Figaro is occupied for a springboard attack on Narshe, and Doma is destroyed for being Returner sympathizers. In addition to their control over various towns, the Empire maintains an Imperial Observation Post near the Cave to the Sealed Gate.
A few places have succeeded in remaining outside Imperial influence—Thamasa and Mobliz are neutral and likely avoided by the Empire as they are small villages isolated from the rest of civilization. Zozo may have been considered too uncivilized to target, and Jidoor was avoided for unknown reasons, though it is possible the town used its wealth to avoid attacks. It is mentioned that the Empire also attacked Kohlingen in the past, though neither the scope nor the motivation of the attack are specified. Finally, Narshe resists attacks from the Empire, including a full-scale invasion, being the only city to do so; this is achieved partly with the help of the Returners.
The Empire is ruled 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 mentioned Celes is the one who attacked Maranda. Kefka Palazzo is Gestahl's ambassador and court mage who acts as a free-lance agent, pursuing the Empire's interests that for whatever reason Leo is not dispatched on. Terra Branford was an elite Magitek Knight due to her part-esper heritage, but lower in rank than Celes, Leo, and Kefka. Due to her unique abilities, Terra was commanded directly by the Emperor himself, and was only sent out on the most important missions. Various lesser-ranked officers lead the Empire's field skirmishes.
Various armored soldiers make up the largest wing of the Empire's army. There are five known ranks of soldiers. Green-armored soldiers are the lowest rank in the Imperial army, they are cadets. Brown-armored soldiers comprise most of the Empire's forces, and come in several individual ranks of power, including Soldier, Imperial Soldier, Commander, Corporal, and Sergeant. Black-armored soldiers act as field commanders. Orange-armored (Crimson-armored in the iOS version) soldiers are under the command of Kefka and they accompanies him in both the Magitek Research Facility and Thamasa while piloting Magitek Armor. When spoken to in Thamasa, they are labeled as Magitek soldier.
The fifth rank is Gestahl's personal guards, the Imperial Elite, only seen in the Imperial Palace wearing customized armor. Variation of them are the Templar, Officer, Captain, and General. These variants have the imperial symbol seen on the Imperial banner on their shields. Although they are weak in comparison to the Empire's mechanical forces, they are more numerous and often comprise the first wave of attacks in the Empire's sieges.
Imperial Guard DogsEdit
Vector Hound, Doberman, Hunting Hound, Belzecue and the heavy armored dog Fidor all serve as guard dogs for the Imperial army. These dogs often accompany the empire's ground force and fight alongside the soldiers. Don is a hound that was created as a test of Magitek power.
The most powerful wing of the Empire's army is the Magitek Armor division. Consisting of various armored machines, three variations of Armor are known; Magitek Armor, Heavy Armor, and Mega Armor. Proto Armor appears in the Magitek Research Facility, but is never sent out to the field and is likely, as its name implies, a Magitek prototype kept in the factory. After the end of the world, Duel Armor and Fortis appear in Kefka's Tower and appear to be modified Magitek Armor.
These machines are used as scout droids for the Empire. The bestiary entry for Dropper claims this on the PlayStation One Bestiary entry. Trappers are found in the Magitek Factory and later Junk inside Kefka's Tower.
Satellites will sound an alarm to summon allies during battle, they also have the ability to inflict various status ailments on their opponents. The Satellite is unique and can only be encountered once while Chaser appears outside the Magitek Research Facility after the Returners escape from it and InnoSent dwells inside Kefka's Tower.
Imperial Air ForceEdit
The Empire's relatively small and weak air power, the Air Force, consists of Sky Armor and Spitfire. Although the Final Fantasy Anthology 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.
Other Military AssetsEdit
In addition to the above forces, several unique machines and soldiers are used by the Empire, as follows:
- Tunnel Armor: A burrowing machine part of the South Figaro forces that was tunneling in the cave to Figaro Castle, possibly to find out where the castle has burrowed.
- Hell's Rider: A soldier riding an unknown beast. It was Kefka's bodyguard during the battle for the Frozen Esper.
- Number 024: A humanoid Magitek machine, it guards the Magitek Research Facility's deepest chamber where most of the active espers are kept and studied.
- Number 128: Another Magitek facility guard. It guards the railroad tracks leading out of the facility.
- Cranes: Two cranes atop the Imperial Palace. Kefka uses them to attack the Blackjack as it escapes.
- Air Force: The commander of the Imperial Air Force. It battles the Returners as they attempt to land on the Floating Continent. It has two attachments, Missile Bay and Laser Gun, and can launch Bits to absorb magic.
- Guardian: The Empire's ultimate weapon used to protect the Imperial Palace and later Vector itself. The Guardian guards the tower summit in Kefka's Tower as the final Magitek enemy in the game. It mimics the battle styles of other bosses like Ultros and Dadaluma by running different battle programs.
- Magitek Armor Transport Ship: As the name suggest, this ship transports Magitek armor. One was supplied to the Returners, along with General Leo, to go on a goodwill mission to Crescent Island in search for the espers. According to dummied texts bringing Gau onboard would have him ditch by the time the ship sets sail, with Locke speculating Gau dislikes being on ships.
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. 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.
- In A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin uses the phrase "Rebel Scum." A common phrase Imperial soldiers use to refer to the Returners is "Returner Scum," or "Scum! You're Returners!".
- The Imperial soldiers 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.
- In the English localization of the Super Nintendo version, 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. Setzer also ended up piloting the airship called the Falcon, the fastest airship in the world; this is likely a reference to the Millennium Falcon, an exceptionally fast space ship piloted at one point by Lando, and later by Han Solo.
- Biggs and Wedge are named after Star Wars characters, although the original characters are members of the rebel alliance, not the Galactic Empire.
- Kefka's betrayal and murder of Gestahl mirrored that of Darth Vader turning against Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi. Unlike Vader, however, Kefka's betrayal was out of his own evil desire for power.
- The design of the Gestahl's personal guard resembles that of the Emperor's Royal Guard from Return of the Jedi.
The theme music for the Empire is "Troops March On" for the scenes with the soldiers, or "Empire Gestahl" for imperial territory.
The name Gestahl may derive from Gestalt psychology. Gestalt psychology or gestaltism (German: Gestalt "shape, form") is a theory of mind whose central principle is that the mind forms a global whole with self-organizing tendencies. This principle maintains that the human mind considers objects in their entirety before, or in parallel with, perception of their individual parts; suggesting the whole is other than the sum of its parts. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. In psychology, gestaltism is often opposed to structuralism.