And I'll be the first person to admit that this particular theory probably runs the biggest risk of suffering such an invalidation. But like all other PSO theories, this one is being based solely on the information currently available, and all of that information points me to one conclusion:
The planet Ragol is most certainly not the planet Earth.
And while I'm at it, I should also mention that the Ruins are not the Alisa III.
As previously established in Phantasy Star Online's Date, the most probable date for Phantasy Star Online is AUW 3084, exactly 800 years after Phantasy Star IV, and by my calculations, 1798 years after Phantasy Star II. So let us examine what the Earthmen had to say about their home world, 1798 years before Phantasy Star Online.
Earthmen: Our planet has been destroyed.
And thus we are presented with the first problem I have with Ragol being Earth: at this time in the Phantasy Star universe, Earth isn't supposed to exist! How can Ragol be a planet that is supposed to be destroyed?
Yes -- in Aron's ending of Phantasy Star III, the Alisa III winds up at the planet Earth, but it only arrives there after time travelling through a black hole. Wren says it himself: "We were transported across space and time when we went through the black hole's surface."
Time travel, in this case, is not possible. The next logical conclusion, then, of those who believe Ragol is Earth, is to take a less literal interpretation of the Earthmen's comments in Phantasy Star II. They interpret the words to mean that Earth was not completely destroyed (ala The Death Star blowing up Alderaan) but rather rendered uninhabitable, and thus, the possibility that Ragol is Earth is reborn because 1800 years is a long time for a planet to heal. Earth could have repaired the wounds inflicted by the Earthmen during this time and with the planet restored to some semblance of its former state, it appeared suitable to the scientists of the Pioneer Project.
But I don't buy that, either.
Why? This time I'll quote Red Ring Rico herself.
Rico: My first question about Ragol was, "Why didn't any sentient life exist here?"
Remember, Rico is not just a hunter, she's also a scientist. If this was Rico's first question regarding Ragol, then clearly, when Pioneer 1 arrived, there was absolutely no trace of a prior civilization on the planet.
But if Ragol is Earth, how can that possibly be? Even today, there are people and cities all over the face of the planet. In the fictional future Earth that the Earthmen's space ship Noah launched from, the cities must have been even more expansive. Further, the Earthmen indicate that Earth was destroyed because of their own technology. "We took joy in controlling nature," their leader says, "we didn't realize we were destroying ourselves until it was too late." To me, this indicates technology much like PSII's Climatrol, controlling all aspects of Earth's weather and environment. Shouldn't Pioneer 1 have found some trace of this "highly advanced civilization" (as the Earthmen leader calls it), if Ragol is indeed Earth?
Instead, the only trace of a prior civilization Rico finds on Ragol are the three pillars that seal the Ruins, and the Ruins themselves. The conventional wisdom amongst most phanatics seems to be that the Ruins are the Alisa III, after it crashed on Earth. But again, if Ragol is Earth, then Rico should find plenty of evidence of the Earthmen civilization that lived there for millennia, not just evidence of the Algoian culture that crashed there.
But speaking of the Ruins, there's one other seed I want to toss out there, having to do with my final reason for believing that Ragol is not Earth and the Ruins are not the Alisa III, before I discuss what I do think Ragol and the Ruins are. As mentioned in my Phantasy Star Online's Date theory, the Ruins had to be sealed away (via the three monuments) sometime after Phantasy Star IV, because they are obvious references to the planets of the Algo system -- one green, one red, and one blue, bearing the inscription "MUTT DITTS POUMN" -- and no one knew the Algo system was a seal itself until Phantasy Star IV.
But the Alisa III arrived at Earth in Aron's ending prior to the planet's destruction/evacuation, because the planet communicates with them. ("Greetings, alien craft! Identify yourselves. This is the London Communications Center on Earth of the Sol system. Over and out.") If the Alisa III arrives at Earth while it is still occupied, then they have arrived there well before AW 2284, which is when even Lutz first learned that the Algo system was a seal. And as mentioned before, there's no way anyone could have sealed the Ruins away in the manner they are sealed prior to Phantasy Star IV.
If we've ruled out the idea that Ragol is Earth, then let's look at what we do know of Ragol. We know that it is a green world rich with natural resources that the scientists of the Pioneer Project deemed suitable for colonization. But we also know that the Pioneer Project was much more than that.
In the quest "The Grave's Butler," Matha Grave's butler Blant reveals that while Matha's parents were brilliant scientists who were to be aboard Pioneer 1, they specifically forbid Blant from allowing Matha to follow them. Mr. Grave even shows Blant why. "Mr. Grave said nothing, but he showed me his computer monitor. I can't describe it, but I saw some results from genetic engineering. Mr. Grave kept silent. A chill ran down my spine. Is the 'Pioneer Project' really just an immigration plan?!"
When I read "genetic engineering," the first thing I think of is Beta772 -- De Rol Le -- but that kind of genetic engineering project could have been done on Motavia, in secret. (After all, Neifirst, Nei, and Rika were all created in secret labs -- why should De Rol Le be any different?) No, the above line indicates that there was something on Ragol that interested the scientists.
As Rico's investigations reveal, the goal of all of the government's work in the Mines is to dig up the Ruins. Add it all up and it becomes clear: somehow, the government and/or the scientists of the Pioneer Project knew there was a Dark Falz buried on Ragol. Why else would Ragol be chosen not as a planet for colonization, but as the target for this secret genetic engineering project Mr. Grave was working on?
This leads me to the conclusion that the Ruins have their origin not with the Alisa III, but in Algo.
Remember that, because I'm going to toss out one more tidbit before I take the curtain off my theory. There's one other small detail that leads me to believe the Ruins come from Algo. I didn't even notice this myself until I saw it on Skeearmon's site Pioneer Alley, but after I saw it there, I kicked myself for not seeing it sooner.
The symbol on the monuments is the same as the symbol worn by Rune (and Kyra) in Phantasy Star IV. The obvious inference? The Ruins were sealed by one or more Espers.
Which leads me to my theory.
In Phantasy Star IV, the rapid deterioration of the seal holding The Profound Darkness at bay allowed not one but three Dark Forces entry into Algo. By the end of the game, the seal lost so much integrity that a giant abyss had opened in the ground, and everyone in the nearby town of Mile has been killed by the Black Energy Wave.
What Phantasy Star Online seems to be saying is that while that abyss was open, one more Dark Force escaped from The Edge and entered Algo. Sometime after Phantasy Star IV, with Elsydeon shattered, the heroes must have been unable to kill this Dark Falz, instead sealing it aboard a ship.
The Wreckage that crashes just outside of Nalya three months before Phantasy Star IV.
It is one of the Palman world ships that flee the planet in secret during Phantasy Star II, just like the Alisa III -- and certainly massive enough to qualify as the "gigantic spaceship" that Rico calls the Ruins. Sealing the final remaining Dark Falz aboard it, Rune -- most certainly with the help of Wren -- must have had it towed off of Motavia and back into space, where it was taken to the closest inhabitable planet to Motavia.
The planet Ragol.
Why an inhabitable planet? Why not dump the Wreckage -- now the casket of the final Dark Falz -- on an asteroid, or leave it floating in space?
Because with The Profound Darkness destroyed, Rune knew it was time for Algo to have a future free of terror, free of the evils of the past. It would not be enough for him to just leave the ship somewhere supposedly "safe." No, the ship was to be buried somewhere deep, on a planet Rune could step foot on, so as to build three special, magical monuments. These monuments, bearing an Esper symbol, were to serve as a seal in the same way Algo sealed The Profound Darkness: one green, one red, one blue. MUTT, DITTS, POUMN; Mota, Dezo, Palm.
And since Wren undoubtedly flew The Landale as it towed the Wreckage to its final resting place, Zelan would certainly contain he and Demi's log files about what they had done, and where they had buried this straggler Dark Falz. If that information ever got into the wrong hands, someone -- perhaps a group of scientists wishing to study this demon that plagued Algo for centuries -- would have a virtual roadmap as to where they could find themselves one.
I prefaced this theory by stating that I felt that if any Phantasy Star Online theory is to be invalidated by future games, this one, I believe, has the highest potential for that. I believe that because without question, some of PSO's visuals -- such as the title screen image -- are undoubtedly Earth. Even my brother, who hasn't played a Phantasy Star game in years, took one look at the PSO title screen and said, "Africa."
But aside from the visuals, examining only the facts and dialogueue from the games, I firmly believe that as it stands now, the best explanation for the truth of what is going on in Phantasy Star Online is that Ragol is not Earth, and the Ruins are not the Alisa III.
Could ya spare me a cup of cola? Tightwand!
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