I think this part of the game may have been inspired by Star Trek VI.
And it's not just because they're both the sixth sequel in their franchise. Star Trek VI had Kirk and crew sitting down to dine with Chancellor Gorkon, the leader of the Federation's mortal enemies the Klingons as the two sides prepare to declare peace. This part of Final Fantasy VI has Terra, Locke, and a few of the other heroes sitting down to a dinner with Emperor Gestal for exactly the same reasons.
The trip from where the airship crashed near Miranda to Vector isn't nearly as hard as it was when I was going around the continent before, and I even managed to beat a pair of the Fossil Fangs in the patch of desert on the way there.
Vector itself has been beat all to hell by the Espers, much as had been hinted at before. Instead of the random citizens that had been there before, the town is now full of Returners and Narshe Guards, who all can't believe what they're seeing. All the people of Vector who could ran the hell away when the Espers attacked the place. As the party heads north to the palace, they even run into Arvis and Banon, the Returners from Narshe. Arvis says that Vector was in the state we see it in when they got there, deserted and in flames. Banon seems just as confused as the unnamed non-playable characters.
In the actual palace, one of the guards approaches the party as soon as they arrive, saying that Emperor Gestal has changed his mind on the whole idea of war and conquest and wants to discuss peace with the Returners over dinner. The palace guard leads the party to the throne room, where the Emperor tells the party all that again himself, with the help of Professor Cid. He then tells the party that the dinner is still being set up, and we've got four minutes to talk to as many people around the palace as we can before time runs out. There's a counter, because the actual number will be important after the meal. For the record, I talked to 22 people, which is impressive, as there are some who want to fight the party for various reasons.
During the banquet, we're given choices of things to say at various points. We're told that Kefka's been put in prison and brought up on charges of war crimes because of the poison he used on Doma, and Gestal wants to know what we think should do with him. I usually say either pardon him or let him rot, though we're also given the choice of saying execute him. Regardless, Gestal says they'll let him stew for awhile before making up their minds.
There's a series of three questions we get to ask, and I think if we ask all three there's a reward for it, because later on in the conversation, Gestal asks us which of the three we asked first, which reminded me too late that we get something for asking all three and reminding him of which one was first.
There are also a couple other things we get to say or do in the process, but I didn't pay quite enough attention to them. At the end of the meal, Gestal brings in General Leo and says we're supposed to go with him to a place called Crescent Island to make peace with the Espers. We're to leave on the ship that docks at the port in Albrook as soon as possible.
With that taken care of, the banquet ends and most of the party decides to stay in Vector to help the Returners investigate the legitimacy of the Empire's claims while Locke and Terra head to Albrook to go with General Leo. We'll be meeting some familiar characters in the process, and gaining some new party members as well.
On our way out, one of the palace guards stops Terra and Locke to tell them that because we talked to so many people in the palace before the dinner, Gestal has ordered the troops out of Doma and South Figaro. I'm fairly certain there would have been more had I done the questions part right, but that's my mistake.
We can talk to the other party members on the way out of town. Gau is in the cafe, and he says the place smells like his parents' house. That may mean he's from Vector. I'm learning a few things this playthrough.
But since the others don't really say much that's interesting or important, as I remember, I'll just go on to Albrook and pick up there next time. See you then, folks, and DFTBA!