The Zeal Archives
The Zeal Archives
Dec 14, 2021
Dalton: The Seat of Power [Book 3, Chapter 9]
Play • 40 min

After restoring most of the Chrono Trigger timeline, our intrepid heroes unfortunately stumble into the path of … Dalton? And Azala?? Thrown into a prison cell on the Blackbird with neither tools nor weapons, how will the party escape and stop whatever nefarious scheme is afoot? Will T and G ever get to go home? There’s only one way out of this sticky situation: a stealth mission.

In our world, T and G dig into the enigma that is the “seat” of power himself (in that he’s a big ass), Dalton!

  • What is the deal with Dalton? How is it that a man with such distaste for authority have managed to rise so high in society, especially with such an eclectic fashion sense?
  • Villains in Chrono Trigger! All are time-locked, and arguably there’s no main big bad (Lavos doesn’t count, really)
  • Again, Chrono Trigger as a game of great moments and set pieces, and how it tried to do different things (like the Blackbird) to different effects

Editing, scripting, and podcast visual design by Nick Terwoord. Special thanks to Square Enix for making that game that we love, Chrono Trigger ...and for not suing us.

Episode Cast

Alphabetically, by actor:

  • Artimage in the role of Announcing Soldier
  • Dan Murray in the role of King Dalton
  • Manda Whitney in the role of Empress Azala
  • Nick H in the role of Basher
  • Nick G in the role of his fictional self, and discussion host
  • Nick T in the role of his fictional self, Robo, and discussion host
  • Patrick "TrickyLove" Moylan in the role of Nizbel III
  • SMZeldaRules in the role of Lucca Ashtear

Musical Credits

Additional Notes

Background: What’s the deal with Dalton?

  • As previously mentioned, 12 000 BC is one of the coolest (if not the coolest) time period
  • He is first encountered if you visit the Blackbird; later in more detail in the throne room when he warns queen Zeal; introduces party as ‘the evildoers the prophet warned of’
    • If you ask around, will also reveal that Dalton is overseeing the construction of the Ocean Palace… until the Prophet showed up
  • ...Generally, he’s an egotistical power hungry maniac!
  • But also, he fills a weird role in the court of Zeal!
    • Oversees the Blackbird … but didn’t create it (Guru of Reason, Belthasar)
    • Continued supervision of the Ocean Palace after Guru of Reason “disappeared”...
    • ...but when the prophet shows up, he overtakes supervision!
  • Commander of Zeal’s security force, the Dalton Corps! (Missing from translation)
  • Blond? Eye-patch? Golems?? Can use magic, but never does???
  • Has a beef with Guardia for some reason
    • This is an addition implied from the PS version to tie together with Chrono Cross as “a long-haired assailant is depicted killing the Kingdom of Guardia's last defender in a cutscene”
    • Also, confirmed in the DS version’s “Dimensional Vortex”: “He drew up plans for revenge against Crono's group, who he felt denied him his kingdom and status as ruler over the age of antiquity. He then left the Dimensional Vortex, probably to a year predating 1000 A.D., and raised an army to overthrow the Kingdom of Guardia in 1005 A.D”

 

Storytelling: Villains in Chrono Trigger

  • Chrono Trigger doesn’t have a big-bad antagonist, or even many long-term recurring villains…
    • Magus is close, but many villains (even interesting ones, like Flea) are one-note
    • The main antagonist, Lavos, isn’t so much an antagonist as the solution to a puzzle; plus, not so much malevolent as an unknowable alien entity
    • Many of the villains could be interesting, if given a space to grow, or time, but each is more-or-less locked into their time period, so not a lot of opportunity
    • Interesting missed opportunity with Yakra
  • ...Dalton gets a bit of an opportunity to fill this void as he desires power, immortality, and when the queen is “gone”, there is a power vacuum
    • Queen Zeal sort of fills this role too, but shows up really late in the game, and the Black Omen is optional.
  • Could Dalton have had more airtime? Could his story have been replaced entirely by rolling more of it into Magus / the Prophet’s story?

 

Storytelling: Chrono Trigger as Set Pieces

  • Originally we wanted to talk about the Blackbird exclusively, but there isn’t much to say about it on its own…
  • ...But talking about it as a “scene”, novel at the time to have this “stealth” section, and highlights Chrono Triggers strength in having strong moments
    • Also, an opportunity to catch up on technical points, via the turrets, if you fall behind
    • …You can swap Ayla into your party, in which case, not so much a stealth section
    • Really can lose all your stuff, but game will warn if you try to leave without it
  • Often scenes raise more questions than answers
    • Why was the Blackbird even necessary? In case of a magical uprising? Definitely not the earthbound ones
  • Allows new and interesting forms of play
    • Even if you don’t like the Jet Bike race… it’s unique
    • Similarly, the puzzles in the Geno dome
  • This all works somehow because the time between scenes is short; you’re there for the journey as you’re whisked from set piece to set piece
  • Realistically, hard to have five different time periods work together
    • Other games might have had multiple kingdoms or empires, and this is sort of managed by time periods instead, but also allows for a lot more variation
    • Secret of Evermore did something similar, but we haven’t played it all the way through so hard to compare

What is the Zeal Archives?

The Zeal Archives is a monthly podcast exploring the A-Z of the world of Chrono Trigger one bit at a time—two parts audio drama, one part discussion podcast, one hundred percent love letter to one of the best JRPGs of all time!

 

The Zeal Archives is published at zealarchives.com and thenickscast.com and can be found on most podcatching services. Please leave us comments, questions, criticism, or any other feedback at TheNickscast on Facebook or Twitter.

Links

Transcript

Part 1 

 

INT. A FUTURISTIC PRISON CELL

 

Straight from the previous episode, a portal opens up facing a futuristic prison cell. Nizbell throws the party into the cell through it’s unusually wide door.

 

ROBO

(deadpan)

Ow

 

LUCCA

[thrown to the ground, pained]

 

NICK T

[thrown to the ground, pained]

 

NICK G

[thrown to the ground, pained]

 

DALTON

Fools... You're lucky to be alive!

 

LUCCA

(contempt)

Dalton!

 

Dalton grabs the cuff of his glove and pulls it taught against his hand.

 

DALTON

(haughty)

You may address me as King Dalton…

 

It takes a moment, but Dalton begins to take note of who he is addressing.

 

DALTON

(surprise, then condescension)

You? You're alive!? I suppose not for very long…

 

Dalton quickly pulls his cape up with a flourish, unleashing a series of energy balls towards Lucca, knocking her to the back of the cell.



LUCCA

[pained shriek]

 

NICK G

(concerned)

Lucca!

 

NICK T

(concerned)

Lucca!

 

ROBO

(concerned)

Lucca!

 

Dalton throws his cape behind him and turns away dramatically.

 

DALTON

(boasting)

The world now belongs to me! Mwa ha ha!

 

Azala’s voice crackles to life over the radio.

 

AZALA

(annoyed)

Dalton! Are you almost done with those other apes?!

 

DALTON

(annoyed)

Grrr… Yes ma'am! By your leave…

 

AZALA

Excellent! Join me here. We must continue our preparations for this Black-bird.

 

DALTON

(annoyed)

Grrr…

 

DALTON

(commanding)

You! Numbskull!

 

NIZBEL III

(meekly)

It’s Nizbel…

 

DALTON

Whatever! Have you taken their equipment?

 

NIZBEL III

Yes, sir! I’ve ensured that they won’t…

 

Nizbel is abruptly cut off.

 

DALTON

Then why are we still here, you idiot? Seal the door and let’s go.

 

Dalton stomps off as Nizbel pushes the huge door shut. Through the tiny window he speaks.

 

NIZBEL III

Don’t think you’ll be getting away this time! [giggle]

 

The party rushes to Lucca’s aid.

 

NICK T

(worried)

Lucca, are you alright?!

 

LUCCA

(wincing)

I guess a helmet comes in handy for situations like this. Heh heh heh… owww.

 

NICK G

(relieved)

[sigh] Well, that’s one less thing to worry about…

 

NICK T

(encouraging)

Come on G! We’ve been in situations like this before. We’ll find a way out.

 

NICK G

You have become uncomfortably familiar with this kind of situation.



NICK T

Yeah… this cannot be good for my mental health.

 

Lucca slowly stands up, and braces herself against the wall.

 

ROBO

Lucca!

 

LUCCA

(pained, reassuring)

I’ll be ok. We need to find a way out of here, right?

 

NICK T

For sure, but this place seems to be locked up pretty tightly. Solid metal as far as the eye can see.

 

Nick T knocks on the wall, but instead of solid metal, the response is hollow.

 

NICK T

(surprised)

...Or not?

 

NICK G

Hel-lo… I think I hear opportunity knocking. Maybe we can access some sort of door control from this side?

 

Lucca starts patting herself down, looking for tools, but has none.

 

LUCCA

I’m sorry… it looks like they took all of my equipment… including the key!

 

NICK T

Damnit!

 

NICK G

Wait a second… we may not have something to open this panel, but we do have someone: Robo.



ROBO

I am uncertain if this will work, but I will try, friends.

 

Robo’s brings his digits close together, and his hand begins to spin like a drill. Slowly, his fist grinds up against the metal shearing open a small space. The drill spins down and Robo carefully bends the metal out of place revealing a number of different blinking lights and wires.

 

LUCCA

Fascinating…

 

NICK T

(hurried)

Lucca, I think we’re on a bit of a timeline here.

 

LUCCA

Robo, I’ll need your help. These look like data wires, but I don’t have any of my tools. I’ll need to use some of your ports.

 

ROBO

How may I be of help?

 

LUCCA

Grab that blue wire, and try inserting it into your serial port.

 

Robo pops open his main hatch, and tears the wire out of the wall. The lights briefly flicker then return until he inserts the wires into the port. Robo briefly vibrates and sparks fly at the point of contact.

 

LUCCA

(concerned)

Robo, are you ok?!

 

ROBO

(speaking quickly)

Voltage levels within acceptable parameters. I will be ok!

 

LUCCA

(relieved)

Thank goodness… alright, let’s see here…

 

Lucca accesses the small control panel within Robo, until eventually, something is revealed.

 

LUCCA

(proudly)

It looks like… yes! I can access the security system! Oh...

 

NICK G

Oh? What is it?

 

LUCCA

I can access the camera and some other internal systems, but not the doors… but it looks like they left our equipment in a room not far from here!

 

NICK G

Ok… that’s something.

 

LUCCA

There’s a series of ventilation shafts connecting the different room… including one that connects this cell and that room.

 

Nick T is tapping his foot anxiously until suddenly he bursts out.

 

NICK T

Of course, that’s it! Robo, give me a boost.

 

NICK G

What?

 

Nick T struggles to reach the vent, then just barely manages to pull it free.

 

NICK T

[struggling]

 

The metal grate falls to the ground, rattling and clanging.

 

NICK T

Success!



NICK G

What are you doing?! We’re going to get caught.

 

LUCCA

Oh! I get it! You’ll need a way to keep in touch… little did they know that I, genius inventor Lucca, have a working radio in my helmet!

 

Lucca hands the helmet over to Nick T.

 

LUCCA

It’s already connected to Robo, so we should be able to talk both ways.

 

NICK G

(frustrated)

Could someone please explain what is going on?!

 

NICK T

Oh… yeah. Well, one of us needs to crawl through the vents to the other room and get our stuff back. That’s it, that’s the plan.

 

NICK G

We’re not going to vote on it or anything?

 

NICK T

[struggling to climb into vent]

 

NICK T

Well, last time, you saved me, so it’s my turn to return the favour.

 

NICK G

I almost died, and I’m pretty sure you did. You think this is going to settle the score?!

 

Nick T starts army crawling down the vent, and we can hear his voice echo back down the vent.

 

NICK T

Baby steps, G!

 

The radio crackles to life as T begins down the small shaft.

 

LUCCA

I have a visual on your location.

 

LUCCA

The route is only about fifty meters, but there are guards below and a few fans I’ll need to disable along the way, so you’ll need to be stealthy. I’ll warn you as you get closer to obstacles.

 

NICK T

(gravely)

Got it.

 

A beat passes

 

NICK T

(gravely)

Lucca… do you ever wonder what it would be like if things were different?

 

LUCCA

(confused)

What? I don’t understand.

 

NICK T

(gravely)

If we didn’t have to worry… about getting home, or Lavos, or whatever it is Azala is planning.

 

LUCCA

No, I mean, I can’t understand what you’re saying. Your voice got so low and gravely.

 

NICK T

(gravely)

Oh. I’m trying to avoid alerting the guards. I don’t want to speak too loudly.



LUCCA

It’s... a little bit strange.

 

NICK T

(gravely)

Well, what do you suggest?

 

LUCCA

There are guards below you right now, so for now, try not talking.

 

NICK T

(gravely)

Understood.

 

Nick T continues army crawling.

 

LUCCA

You’re clear! In a few meters, you should hear a ventilation fan. I’m going to disable it, but you’ll need to hurry though.

 

NICK T

(gravely)

I can hear it… it’s disabled! I’m going through. Thanks Lucca.

 

LUCCA

(lying)

You know what? I’m seeing a lot of guards here... I’m going to disable the electronic lock on the vent into that room, but after that we should maintain radio silence.

 

ROBO

I am not detecting any guards near T’s location.

 

Lucca covers the microphone.

 

LUCCA

Shhhhh! I just want him to stop with that creepy voice.

 

Down below, a large stack of crates is piled up to the ceiling vent, and a lone Basher guards a chest. T slowly lowers himself down from the vent, climbs down the crates and tip-toes to the chest.

 

NICK G

(mildly impressed)

Wow, do you think that he’ll actually pull it off?

 

BASHER

[sleeping sounds]

 

LUCCA

I haven’t known the two of you long, but you’ve been friends for a long time, right? What do you think?

 

Nick G pauses for a second to think. T opens the chest.

 

NICK G

(hesitantly)

Ehhhhhhhhhh?

 

We can hear T over the radio

 

NICK T

(triumphant)

Yes! Got it!

 

BASHER

Who said that?! Guards!

 

The Basher pounds a large red button on the wall that triggers a ship-wide alarm. Red lights descend from the ceilings and klaxons go off everywhere.

 

Dalton’s voice booms over the ship’s loudspeakers.

 

DALTON

(annoyed)

I want a full report on the situation now!

 

NICK G

Uh… now what?

 

Over Robo’s radio, we can hear laser blasts, explosions, and… maniacal laughter.

 

NICK T

[maniacal laughter]



NICK T

(gravely)

This is a stealth mission; no survivors.

 

NICK G

What?!

 

Outside the cell, various footsteps and screams can be heard along the metallic pathways.

 

LUCCA

(chipper)

It sounds like T found our equipment!

 

Lucca reactivates the radio.

 

LUCCA

If you can bring back the equipment here, I can talk you through some of my tools and we should be able to break out of here.

 

Something attaches itself to the outside of the door, and we can hear a rapidly increasing digital ticking before there’s a small explosion on the door. The door slides open.

 

NICK T

(terrible Arnold impression)

Come with me if you want to live.

 

NICK G

(unimpressed)

The worst. Terrible.

 

LUCCA

There’s an energy signature a few floors below that matches the Epoch. I think if we had this way, I can get us down there and we should be able to escape through the main hangar!

 

Before anyone can respond, we hear a familiar voice.



DALTON

You made it this far. Maybe I underestimated you...

 

Dalton unleashes a flurry of blasts, knocking everyone down… except for G. He holds G by the neck.

 

NICK G

[struggling, half-choked]

 

DALTON

I didn't think they'd make it so easy on me! [maniacal laughter]

 

EPISODE DISCUSSION

(To be transcribed)

 

Part 2 

 

The party is now squeezed into a freight elevator. Nizbel III holds Lucca, Robo, and Nick T, while Nick G is held captive by Dalton. Delightful elevator music plays in the background.

 

DALTON

I don’t know why we couldn’t have just taken the stairs…

 

NIZBEL III

(embarrassed)

You know that my massive muscles don’t fit down those tiny corridors…

 

DALTON

Of course… you idiot!

 

NIZBEL III

[whimpers]

 

Nick T struggles for a moment to break free, kicking at the air towards Dalton.

 

NICK T

[struggling to kick]

 

DALTON

(threatening)

Stay back. The life of this man means nothing to me!

 

The elevator slowly lowers in relative silence, and as it reaches its lowest floor, we can hear an echoing of many voices cheering in the main hangar. A voice booms over a speaker as the lift finally eases to its bottom.

 

SOLDIER

...Now, bow, and pay homage to our new lieges: King Dalton, and Empress Azala!

 

CHORUS

All hail our King and Empress!

 

LUCCA

What is this? What is going on?!



DALTON

(boasting)

With the old crone and the pesky Gurus gone… I’ve declared Zeal the new Kingdom of Dalton!

 

AZALA

(scolding)

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