Story and Continuity Notes
These notes are here to answer some of the questions you, the readers may (or may not) have about Freedom's Price, its place in the Phantasy Star continuity, and to give me a chance to ramble on about what I'm doing "behind the scenes." Some of these questions I've been asked over e-mail, while some I'm only guessing that anyone cares about.
These notes do contain SPOILERS, so if you haven't finished the story, go slog through the other thirty-seven parts, and if you still care, then you can come back and read this.
First, I'd like to give credit where credit is due. While most of this is basically original, it obviously draws heavily on the Phantasy Star games, especially PS2 and PS4, so thanks to Sega and its staff for making, producing, translating, and releasing them. Mike Ripplinger gave me permission to use "Jorran" as Tyler's last name; since one of my hopes is to someday have all the major PS fanfic writers come together to create a single shared fanfic continuity (um...using all of my own interpretations and theories whenever possible, of course ^_^), I'd like to think of this as one small step in the right direction. Very small. But still a step. I'd also like to thank Mike here for letting me use some of his Dezorian language in some of my other fics. Joel Fagin, meanwhile, gets the blame for what you're reading now. I liked how he did it for The Other Side, so I'm providing my own chapter of notes. And, of course, there's also Maxx to thank for (a) maintaining the archive and (b) bending the rules on finished fics so I could see it go up part by part. Actually, the full first draft was finished way back in November of 1999, ten months before any of this appeared on the archive, but I've been typing it up as I go since September 2000.
Yeah, I write with pencil and paper, then convert to computer. It's one reason I can write so darn much stuff--I write pretty much everywhere I go. When my wife lets me. ^_^
SO WHAT'S UP WITH THIS CYBERPUNK STUFF, ANYWAY?
As has been pointed out to me, introducing cyberpunk into Phantasy Star isn't the most obvious connection, and the first thing people tend to ask on reading any of my "PSCyber" fics is, well, you read the title of this section.
The fact is, back in April 1999 I was in something of a writing quandary. I wanted to write a Phantasy Star story, and I wanted to write a cyberpunk story. Rather than write two stories, I decided to combine the two ideas in the hope that by satisfying both writing urges, I might actually be able to complete the story.
Strangely enough, it was relatively easy. We are told nothing about Palm during the PS2 era, and conveniently enough it gets blown up during the game so there's no way to prove me wrong. I decided that any society ruled by Mother Brain could be pretty dystopian, and there was a start. The only problem is that the gritty feel of cyberpunk doesn't match well with bright and sunny PS2 Mota, or with Palma in the original Phantasy Star. My rationale for letting society take the shape it did was that, while Mother Brain wanted Mota for the new home of the Earthmen, she didn't care about Palm. After all, look what happened to it!
Essentially, Mother Brain's attitude towards Palm is one of "stay out of my way." She doesn't have full control over Palm because it doesn't have the need for an environmental control system the way Mota does, do the people are not dependent on her. Therefore, she's taken steps to keep them busy with each other. Reducing the power of government and allowing worldwide corporations to flourish has helped, for the simple reason that while governments, especially when driven by public mandates, can stand up and begin crusades (say, against a tyrannical computer), corporations don't. They're too busy worrying about the bottom line. Plus, they're a very effective symbol of oppression, so that the street-level rebellious urge is directed at them, not at the government. After all, it's the cutthroat business practices of Luveno, Scion-Colesburg, and IMVE that keep the people of Ossale Court in poverty and misery, while it's the work of Mother Brain that at least lets them have access to clean water and (usually) working power.
TYLER, CORP AGENT?
Since the "PSCyber" setting is so far outside the games of Phantasy Star to nearly be an original creation, I wanted to give the plot as close a tie to the games as I could, basically to justify the fic's existence. Then, later, I could spin off new stories which had less of a tie to Phantasy Star, and no one would complain because they would link back to the source material through Freedom's Price. Of course, I shot that plan in the foot by cranking out ten or so PSCyber stories before Freedom's Price ever appeared, so I'm glad no one's pointed out yet how much of a gaiden-type story they are.
In any event, I settled on Tyler. Here's a guy who saves Rolf & Co. from disaster and eventually becomes important enough in post-PS2 Dezolis to have a town named after him, but we know almost nothing about him. Better yet, from a fanfic point of view, what we are told about him doesn't make sense.
Specifically, I'm referring to the fact that in PS2, Tyler is a space pirate, but he exists in a star system where space travel has been banned for ten years! Not a lot of piracy going on, there. Some other fanfic writers (Mike Ripplinger and Neilast, to name two) have speculated that Algo had contact with other star systems in this era, which is a valid explanation but not one I really like, because it postulates other alien races but ones which we've never met.
Instead, I decided that my Tyler would be more of a Robin Hood type, fighting the tyranny of Mother Brain. This interpretation allows me to keep out additional foreign elements and also justifies why Tyler came to Rolf's rescue in PS2, making that scene more than a lucky coincidence. So, Freedom's Price became the story of how Tyler went from being a disillusioned, directionless person to a courageous hero. If Tyler in PS2 seems more upbeat to you than he is here, well, then, it's not just a random quirk. The Tyler in the game has been acting in accordance with his inner self for six years, and while it was no easy fight, having purpose in his life has made him much more at ease with himself.
Having decided to put a cyberpunk setting into Phantasy Star, I soon realized that something was missing. Namely, while Phantasy Star has androids and clones, it does not have cyborgs or cybernetic implants as far as I could tell, other than the misnamed androids and robots of PS3. They ought to have them, given their technology level, and it didn't seem right to have a whole raft of cyberware show up in my stories but not in the games. So, I decided that I needed to explain that in establishing my setting, and what better way then to make it a plot point? Of course, I copped out and blamed magic, but, hey, you've got to take SOME shortcuts, right?
The name for Dr. Hurlston's cyborg project is drawn from Celtic mythology. Nuada was the king of the Tuatha De Danaan, but lost his hand in battle. The god Dianchect was able to replace the lost hand with one made of silver, making Nuada a magical cyborg. Since laconia, the metal that Melora's artificial parts are made from, is linked to silver in Phantasy Star (in fact, in PS4 "silver" is the name for low-grade laconia), I thought that Nuada would be an appropriate name for the cyborg project. Since Hurlston is an Earthman, it's entirely possible that he'd heard of the story and would make the same connection.
OTHER CONTINUITY NOTES
The Earthmen and Dark Force: My fundamental assumption here is that the Dark Force who manifested in 1284 boarded a worldship (or even appeared on one initially), was sealed on the Alisa III, got carried back in time to Earth by way of either Sean or Adan's ending, and then was brought back to Algo by the Earthmen in a partly-sealed state. Dark Force has been subtly corrupting the Earthmen for centuries, perhaps even millennia, and has been infiltrating Mother Brain since the beginning. Thus, the Earthmen of my timeline are not wholly sane; many are driven by Dark Force-instilled urges towards violence, hatred, and destruction. Only when the seal's weakest point came in PS2 did Dark Force emerge from its seal openly and was able to fill the Noah with its monsters. Any Earthmen left on the Noah at that point were either killed or overcome by its evil to become the raving destroyers of worlds that Rolf meets up with.
It is Dark Force's influence that kept the Earthmen from trying to make a peaceful first contact with the Algo natives, which gave them the plan to create Mother Brain, and which drove them to destroy Palm. Not that we might not have done all those things anyway without it. History is filled with examples of human monsters who needed no evil god to shape their monstrosity. Hitler is only the most obvious example.
Motavians: The Motavians we see in PS2, despite their technological skills, come off as simple, none too bright, and have an unusual attraction to garbage. I blame Mother Brain for systematically destroying their culture even as she changed the environment of the planet to suit herself. Motavian culture was only restored when Motavians who had emigrated to Palm returned to Motavia on the escape fleet.
Is it any wonder PS4 Motavians aren't particularly fond of "Parmanians"?
Weapons and Armor: Converting a videogame's weapons and armor system to the variety of circumstances in which combat happens in a story is enough to give any fanfic writer fits. Slashers, for example. There's no way in the world to justify what these things can do. Guns, though, make an even more annoying example, because in PS2, the guns are all armor-piercing despite the fact that they fire such a wide variety of projectiles (arrows, sonic pulses, acid blobs, vulcan rounds, laser beams, etc.) which should have their own characteristics. So, with the example of PS4 before me, I decided that this feature was merely a game mechanic from PS1, 2, and 3 rather than a feature of firearm physics in Phantasy Star. I've treated the fact that some guns have a rate of fire which is determined not by the shooter but by how many enemies are present in the same way.
I'd like to say that the one-handed laser shot Conn uses is also a product of careful analysis, but in fact, it was just a mistake; I didn't realize that the PS2 laser shot is a two-handed gun. So, thence was created the "small-frame" laser shot which, similarly to Odin's laser gun from PS1, needs only one hand. Unlike Odin's gun, it's not capable of burst fire. I finally figured out what was going on in November of 2000, which is why Cash in "He Who Laughs Last" has a two-handed laser shot.
I've decided to treat "suits" as a type of armored clothing, the kind of thing that shows up in lots of cyberpunk game systems. The standard jumpsuit worn by Rolf, Rudo, and the like is the basic military model, but carbonsuits also come in a variety of fashions for daily life. Fibercoats, also, were interpreted this way, so they come in a variety of styles from Tyler's duster to jackets bearing the logo of your favorite metroball team (and no, I have no idea what the rules of that game are, other than that I'm rooting for the Scion Seatigers to take this year's championship).
Certain items were imported from PS4. The pulse-laser Tyler uses was easy, as anything technological like that would have had to be developed prior to the Great Collapse. The graphitesuit was more difficult to justify, since it is sold in PS4 stores, but I decided that it was just going into experimental production on Palm by the time PS2 happened and was only available there, similarly to how you can only buy Laconia weapons on Dezo.
Lastly, I've given Risa's claws their more obvious name, though I do call them "bars" now and again just to show that I am aware that's what they're called in PS2. I've decided that, contrary to what the PS2 instruction book says, the "Pls" for Anje's cannon stands for "plasma" instead of "pulse." The pulse guns in PS4 are all burst-fire weapons, which the cannon definitely isn't, and the green explosion is similar enough to those caused by Wren's plasma rifle and plasma launcher from PS4 to make the assumption at least partially justified.
Techniques: I've assumed, just because it's more complete, that PS4's system of skills, techniques, magic, and android weapons existed in this time period. We just never got to see android weapons and magic in PS2 because there were no androids or Espers in the party, and the Mother Brain-reliant, technology-heavy society of Mota in that period did not encourage the individualism required to teach skills.
By the way, my theory on the three types of "magic" is that true magic (spells) is drawn from within by an Esper--that there's something genetic that produces the magical energy used in Esper spells within the Esper (Blame the Great Light for that little tweak.). Skills use the will of the individual to absorb and focus the energy in the background environment, and are developed through intense personal training. Techniques are a regimented system developed by Noah/Lutz by which anyone can use the background magic and are similar therefore to skills but are easier to use and fall into a set of predictable effects which are shared among thousands of people. Most people can use techs, but which ones are available is largely a function of personal psychology.
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All in all, I'd like to thank everyone who managed to read this far, and I hope you enjoyed the story. Feel free to drop me a line as firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, questions, or flames!
Well, actually, I wouldn't mind too much if you kept the flames... ^_^