This part can be a little tricky, but it's where we get somewhere in the area of half the Espers we can summon in this part of the game.
Vector, as I mentioned last time, is the capitol of the Empire, but it's also very well guarded because this is where the MagiTek Research Facility is located. There's eight Espers whose Magicite we'll be getting here, but first, we've gotta get into the factory. It's worth it to look around town a bit in the process, even if it is a little dangerous. Most of the random citizens in town don't like the party members because they're Returners, but that's to be expected. The common thing for them to do is tell you to beat it. There are shops there, and they're open for business. The weapons and armor shops are alright, if there's anything the party needs there. The guy running the Inn says it's free to stay, but he takes 1000 gold from the party as they sleep.
There's also a very small, narrow house where a little old lady lives who'll ask you if you'll swear loyalty to the Empire. Say no and she calls in two guards, apparently from the Narshe Militia, who go down easily. After that, the old lady will give the party free health and MP refills when they talk to her.
It's also worth it to venture into the northern part of town, too. The soldiers will all fight you if you get close enough to talk to them, but there's a cafe, too, where there's a guy who says he's OK with Returners and then tells you that all the soldiers you meet in the factory. He also says that Kefka was the very first attempt that a guy called Professor Cid made at creating MagiTek Knights, and the process broke Kefka's mind because it wasn't perfected yet. That explains a lot, I guess.
It's possible to approach the castle from there, too, but it's not really worth it. People in the other towns around the Empire mentioned something about a device called the Guardian, and the troops at the castle will use it on you if you go to the castle. Fortunately, it's easy to run away from, which is probably a good idea.
Back in the south part of town, there's a guy who's a Returner who's going to help the party get into the factory. He tells the party to hide by some boxes and use them to get up on some girders to climb past the guards while he distracts them. Gotta love the classic “I'm gonna blow chunks!” routine.
Finding your way around in the MagiTek Research Facility isn't difficult, really. It's pretty much a matter of finding and following the conveyor belts, but it's worth exploring, too, because there are some elemental weapons, gold equipment, a few good items, and a relic or two to be had as well.
You'll know you're about two-thirds or so through this one when you see Kefka come along and abuse two very nearly dead Espers. These are Ifrit and Shiva, the fire and ice Espers respectively. Once Kefka leaves, follow them down the same chute he throws them down. There's going to be a boss fight with Ifrit and Shiva, who will pick up on Ramuh's essence from the Magicite you've already got and decide to give you their powers as well.
Once Ifrit and Shiva have given you their Magicite, it's time to move on. There are two doors. The one on the left leads to a save point, which is a good one to use. The one on the right leads to a stairwell that goes up into the area where Espers are drained of their powers by way of a device that requires them to be put into glass tubes and zapped somehow. Before we get to the first of the two chambers, though, there's a boss fight against a robot called Number 24. This is probably the hardest boss so far, simply because if you mess up during this fight, and it starts killing party members before you kill it, it starts healing itself, and you'll really be screwed. Needless to say, I messed up the first time I tried this fight and wound up dead.
Once past Number 24, the first of the two chambers is empty, but the second has a half-dozen Espers being drained of their life forces. At the far end of the room from where the party enters, there's a switch. Pushing it won't open the tubes, but it does prompt one of the Espers to tell the party that it knows they're trying to help them, and they will do as Ramuh, Ifrit, Shiva and the others who came before have done and give the party their powers.
Of course, Cid and Kefka are also aware of what's going on and come rushing in to see for themselves what's going on. They both realize that their methods have been wrong, though they have different takes on what they learn. Kefka wants to start actively killing Espers so he can take their powers. Cid, we'll come to find out, will realize that what he's doing has been wrong altogether and will want to stop the war.
In the process, Kefka makes the party question Celes's loyalty to them and has a pair of soldiers in armor attack the party. Celes and Cid dodge the attack, and Celes somehow warps herself out with Kefka and the soldiers in tow. Between Kefka's attack and the Espers' ending their lives and going to the heroes, the devices that Cid was using to drain the Espers were badly damaged and wind up set to explode.
Seeing what's about to happen, Cid takes the remaining party members to a mine cart so they can escape through a tunnel beneath the facility, telling them that he's going to go try to convince Emperor Gestal, the leader of the Empire, that they need to stop the war because it's wrong to kill the Espers for their power.
Fortunately, there's a save point right before we get on the mine cart to escape, because I'd been playing for like an hour and a half and really needed to take a break before continuing on. We'll pick up the escape attempt, not only from the factory, but the Empire as a whole, next time, in part three of this little tour. Things will be getting interesting, trust me.