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Deborah Hawkins, penned Debra Renée Byrd, began writing after a blank book project in elementary school and never stopped, fashioning stories based on her favorite TV shows and movies before creating more original works. She studied at the University of the Arts and Florida State University before settling down and graduating from Temple University. She now resides in her hometown of Dover, DE, where she spends most of her time at work or at church. She loves fantasies, superheroes, is a trekkie and a brown coat. She loves television and lives for Final Fantasy video games, having collected most of them. She has read a myriad of authors, and her favorite authors change whenever she finds a new book that changes her life... "When you can't run, you crawl. When you can't crawl...well, you know the rest." -Tracey, Firefly, "The Message"

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A to Z Challenge: Zidane from Final Fantasy IX and Zack from Final Fantasy VII

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much, all of you who suffered through this 26-day geek-out for Final Fantasy characters! I'm so glad I got to do this, so I really hope you all enjoyed this and may have possibly found a game you want to play. There are way more FF games than the ones I have mentioned in this franchise, so feel free to explore! There are simpler RPG games, spin-offs, MMORPGs, whatever you may fancy!

So we come to two of my favorite gents in the entire franchise. They are by far the two most lively characters for Final Fantasy, and its their spirits that make me love them so much. Let's start with Final Fantasy IX's Zidane Tribal.

We meet this little guy (his face makes my sister laugh, first off lol) as he is staging a kidnapping of the Princess Garnet (see Dagger). Little does he know, she wants to be kidnapped. We go on a long journey, and honestly I don't think there's a purpose for it for a long time, but we learn a lot. For instance, Zidane is from another planet of Terrans (see K for Kuja, the failed prototype) who were supposed to be taking over the main planet Gaia, but things went south.

Through it all, Zidane has a huge heart, which is ultimately stolen by Dagger, and their love is just so adorable (probably also because of how they were drawn).

As FFIX was the last game on the original Playstation, I would like to think that Zidane embodied the spirit of our final character for this countdown: Final Fantasy VII and FFVII: Crisis Core's Zack Fair.

This tall, dark and handsome was anything but dark. Zack was a bright eyed, bushy tailed SOLDIER, First Class, that we only hear tell of in the original FFVII via Cloud's messed up memory. It's revealed through the game that Cloud wasn't who he thought he was, and that someone else was doing about 90% of what he said. In his defense, Zack told him to live for him, and live he did!

Zack broke himself and Cloud out of a research facility where they were trapped after Cloud wounded Sephiroth, who burned down his hometown. After tracking down a rogue Sephiroth protoype named Genesis and cutting him down, Zack gets Cloud out to a desert mountain range where he is gunned down mercilessly by SOLDIER operatives, leaving behind Cloud and his girlfriend Aeris.

Yep, Aeris all the way back in A. (This is the moment she realized something was wrong.)

Zack's death is extremely tragic because, even though as an FFVII fan you know about it, in FFVII: Crisis Core, you are forced to not only watch it happen but play it as it happens. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to sit through, and I sat through it on a van with a bunch of choir members, so I had to hold myself together. Of all the characters in Final Fantasy, Zack did not deserve to die. He was a hero's hero, and Square Enix might have to work really hard to make a better character than him.

And there you have it! My Final Fantasy Edition of the A to Z Challenge! I can't thank you guys enough for stopping by. Unless I have a psychotic break, I will probably take a break next year (haha). I leave you all with the only consolation I have for both Aeris AND Zack dying: they are reunited. The perfect bookends to this challenge.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A to Z Challenge: Yuna (with Yunalesca and Yu Yevon) from FFX and FFX-2

One more day. Awww. We are on day 25 of the A to Z Challenge, and I once again thank you for obliging my Final Fantasy habit!

Today is the letter Y, and Y is for Final Fantasy X/X-2's great summoner Yuna!

The daughter of the summoner who last brought The Calm (a time of peace) by defeating Sin and named after the first summoner of Sin's time, Yuna has some huge shoes to fill. Her spirit keeps you going when you learn that Tidus's father is the thing that's been killing everyone for the past few years, and her resolve to continue her pilgrimage even after Tidus gives her a way out (because she must pay with her life to enact The Calm) gives the franchise its best moment of blossomed romance in the history of moments of blossomed romance. Spare 2 minutes if you can.

I mentioned the first summoner of Sin's time. Yunalesca is actually the daughter of the greatest summoner, Yu Yevon.

Should've known this naked b**** was up to no good.

Yu Yevon is the summoner who devised the endless cycle of pilgrimages to defeat Sin. He killed an entire city and made the others think it was because of their use of machina that they died, and then he created the religion of Yevon where the people pray to him for guidance to defeat Sin for small periods of peace (The Calm) until they've completely atoned for their wrongdoings (which will be never).

Yunalesca is the final stop on a summoner's pilgrimage, and when Yuna and team get to her, they learn Yuna has to choose one of her guardians to become the final aeon (summon) to defeat Sin. After a hearty Hell No from the team, Yunalesca is brought down, and then we go on to defeat Sin. BUT, because the bastard above possesses the final aeons to create the next Sin, Yuna has to not only defeat Sin but all of her aeons (Bahamut, Shiva, Ifrit, Ixion, etc.) once Yu Yevon possesses them, leaving him with nothing left so we can kill him.

And then, we lose Tidus (mentioned a few days ago).

God, this moment. T____T

And then, Yuna is the ultimate hero and has to move on with her life. So, she joins up with Rikku and Paine to become the sphere hunters YRP to headline FFX-2. She also gets a new, badass gunslinger look!

Yaaaas, slaaay.

Trivia: the design holding her shirt together was the tattoo on Jecht's chest and a symbol Tidus wore on his pants and as a necklace. *sniff*

FFX-2 is pretty bad, but in the end, if you do most of the main things right, you get Tidus back, so I'll take it.

Tomorrow, after one last honorable mention, we come to the perfect bookend for the A's: the Z's (not just because of the obvious, lol. Stick around!).

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A to Z Challenge: Xu from Final Fantasy VIII

April is almost over! Can you believe it? That means the A to Z Challenge is coming to a close! What a month it has been sharing Final Fantasy characters and stories with you all!

X is inevitably hard for everyone, and you would THINK that with all of the games Final Fantasy has, they would have more than one character whose name starts with the letter, but I only found the one, and she's a non-playable side character. So, this is the shortest post!

Xu is a squad leader and instructor in Balamb Garden for SEED. She is a staple throughout the game, helping Squall and team, especially once we realize our school can float around! She is great at shutting up our characters when they bicker, too.

Tomorrow, I finally get to tell you about Yuna from FFX!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A to Z Challenge: Wakka from Final Fantasy X

We are coming doWn to the Wire. (See What I did there? lol)

Today's letter for the A to Z Challenge is W. As I am forcing a number of you to sit here and take my obsession With Final Fantasy, We have officially come to Wone (lol) of my favorite characters of all time:


Wakka is captain of the Besaid Aurochs and one of Yuna's guardians on her pilgrimage to defeat Sin. He is full of energy and spunk, even though his blitzball team has never won a game*.  (Also, Googling images of Wakka, there were a few, um...softcore porn-ish images...not even of random people! They were of Wakka! lol) In the American version of the game, he has an awesome Hawaii-surfer voice that you immediately fall in love with. Speaking of which, this cosplay below, is the BEST cosplay ever!! No other person need cosplay Wakka, thanks.

Wakka takes Tidus under his wing because he reminds him of his late brother, Chappu, who died in battle against Sin sometime before the game starts. He later goes on to marry Lulu (honorable mention for L) and have a chubby red-headed baby with her. *giggle*

*If you manage to win the first blitzball tournament in the game (I did once!), it's the best feeling in the world, but you also then have to play one of the hardest teams when you try to play again. I was addicted to blitzball, so I definitely tried and tried until I beat them.

Tomorrow, we visit Xu from Final Fantasy VIII!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A to Z Challenge: Vivi from Final Fantasy IX

Getting closer to the end...*sniffle*

I have been geeking out Final Fantasy characters all month long, hopefully to someone's enjoyment. We are at V today, so I'm stopping back by Final Fantasy IX, the last FF game on the original Playstation, to talk about:

Vivi Ornitier

We have zero idea what Vivi is when we meet him, but he's very child-like and all-around adorable. A little later down the game road, we learn he was created, probably in a factory, and he's one of many black mages. He's actually a prototype who fell off of a cargo ship. He was found by a cook who actually planned to eat him once he fattened Vivi up, but Vivi stayed small (haha). He told Vivi all about the outside world, and when he dies, Vivi goes exploring.

Here is a group of full-sized black mages protecting Vivi from another group of scarier black mages called Waltzes.

No, Princess, do not stay there while he kills the others!

When Vivi learns what he is, he spirals into an existential crisis for much of the game, but he grows out of it and becomes a confident, capable fighter. Yay!

Honorable Mention for V:

FFVII's Vincent Valentine was an optional character. And he was so awesome he got his own spin-off, third-person shooter style. Shooter games give me angina, but I could play Dirge of Cerberus because I knew the world of FFVII and was comfortable with it. An interesting backstory and brooding persona to match, for me, picking up Vincent is never an option--it's a necessity!

Tomorrow, we visit Wakka back in Final Fantasy X.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A to Z Challenge: Ultimecia from Final Fantasy VIII

We are at the last week of the A to Z Challenge! Can you believe it?? I can't.

I have been talking about Final Fantasy for 20 days now. I'm not tired yet. lol And today, I'm talking about something important to me that I can never tire of defending:

The Ultimecia is Rinoa Theory!

First off, as we are on U today, here is Final Fantasy VIII's Ultimecia, an evil sorceress from the future.

As seen in Final Fantasy Dissidia

A cosplayer's dream. Anyway, Ultimecia is killed by SEED in her time, and in order to stop that from happening, she creates a machine based on the powers of a little girl (well, I guess she would be a woman by Ultimecia's time) named Elle, who has the power to see the past through people she knows. She tries to kill the SEED in the past, aka the present time where the MC (Squall from a few days ago) resides, by possessing the sorceresses there. In typical "If I can't live, no one can" style, Ultimecia compresses time so that only she can live in the world.

Ultimately, Squall and his fellow SEED defeat her, and all is well. However, there is that theory I mentioned.

This illustration sums it all up in a nutshell, but let me clear some other things up. As I mentioned in the R's, Ultimecia possessed Rinoa in the game. This automatically made Rinoa a new sorceress. The theory is, simply put, that Rinoa IS Ultimecia, gone crazy somehow and trying to kill everyone, SEED being at the top of her list.

Visually, their faces are shaped the same. The black hair to white hair is a great juxtaposition, not so much to represent aging (something a naysayer pointed out: the sorceresses don't age), but most likely from stress or psychosis. Rinoa wears a long sleeveless blue trench with white angel wings on the back, and one of her limit breaks is Angel Wings, so she sprouts them for a second before using magic at random. Ultimecia has a long red trench and has black angel wings. More juxtaposition: Rinoa has a pet dog who helps her fight, and Ultimecia summons a lion-type beast. This beast is also first seen on SQUALL'S RING and is named the same! How would Ultimecia have gotten that?! Because Rinoa had his ring and was going to duplicate it for herself!

So, why would she be trying to kill SEED? Well, as you see above, Rinoa says in the game that she is okay with Squall killing her, no one else. Squall also has an internal monologue (one of many) towards Rinoa where he says that even if she goes full-on sorceress, he will be her champion and fight whoever comes against her.

SO, what seems to have happened in the future is there is a witch hunt, and other SEED kill Squall when he tries to protect Rinoa. She goes mad, becomes Ultimecia, and goes back in time to try to destroy SEED altogether. It makes sense to me and many others!

Alright, nerdgasm over. Tomorrow, I will talk about Vivi from FFIX.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A to Z Challenge: Tidus from Final Fantasy X

We're at the end of the penultimate week of the A to Z Challenge! This went by way too quickly!

We're finally at T, and for my Final Fantasy geek out session of the day, I will be talking about my favorite Final Fantasy game's main character:

Tidus from Final Fantasy X!

Look at that fresh face. Tidus is the star blitzball player (an underwater football/soccer-like sport) of the Zanarkand Abes. One day in the middle of a game, he gets whisked away by something called Sin and washes up in Al-Bhed (see Rikku in the R's) territory 1000 years in the future! (No, this isn't Futurama.)

When Sin sucks him away again, he's on the mainland and home of a local summoner (Yuna, coming soon) who is about to embark on a pilgrimage to defeat Sin. They are linked by the fact that Yuna's father was the last summoner to defeat Sin, and Tidus's father (honorable mention for J) was one of his guardians!

So how did they get 1000 years in the future?

Well, unfortunately, (and long story very short), their Zanarkand wasn't real, but dreamed up by the Fayth (head on over to F to refresh your memory, if you want) so that (IMO) one day, one of their dream people could defeat Sin and its creator Yu Yevon for good!

(I'll just leave this link here for anyone who wants the long story, but to sum it up: Yu Yevon, evil summoner, possesses people, turns them into monsters, kills people for 1000 years straight, makes them all think they have to worship him to atone for using machina.)

Tidus figures out they have to stop Sin at the source because the current Sin is his FATHER (!!!), and he brought him to the real world in order to get it done.

Unfortunately, once everything is safe for good, all the Fayth finally get to rest, and so their dream Zanarkand, and everyone in it, disappears.

So, we lose Tidus.

Fortunately, if you play FFX-2 and suffer through it, the Fayth mercifully bring him back to Yuna. So, slight silver lining.

Honorable Mention for T:

FFVI's Terra

Final Fantasy VI starts with Terra. We know she's very powerful and wields the ancient ability of magic. The Gestahlian Empire has her under mind control until an esper (summon) comes in contact with her, and she is freed. Terra is half esper herself, and we get to visit the esper world and learn of her true origins there. She's a very well-thought out character, and it's a great game all around.

2nd Honorable Mention:

I can't not mention Tifa Lockheart from FFVII! Though Terra started the FF trend of badass females, Tifa is the face of them hands down. This sweetheart has fists of fury and has been the love interest of Cloud since they were little tykes growing up in Nibelheim. Cloud joins the military to impress her, and that's kind of when things went awry, but through it all, she holds him down. Talk about ride or die chicks!

When we get back, I will tell you about the sorceress Ultimecia from FFVIII.