Now, before we get started, we have to read up on the information about the main characters that will be involved in this cocktail of events, as they will be the ones that play the most important role in the entire plot of all three games.
Name: Claire "Lightning" Farron
Height: 5'7" (171 cm)
Location: Bodhum, Cocoon
Education: Graduated High School
Occupation: Sergeant, Guardian Corps., Bodhum Security Regiment
Relatives: Serah Farron (sister), orphan (father perished at young age, mother died of unknown illness at 15)
Known Affiliations/acquaintances: Snow Villiers, Lebreau, Yuj, Lt. Amodar, Guardian Corps., Captain Rygdea
Personality: Determined, concentrated, independent, cold, unfriendly, stoic
History: Joined Guardian Corps. at an early age after she graduated from High School to support her sister, Serah, and to keep a ready stream of income available when needed. Changed her original name to Lightning after the death of her mother. Climbed the ranks to eventually become Sergeant in the Bodhum Security Regiment.
Miscellaneous: Experienced in home renovation.
Name: Serah Farron
Height: 5'5" (164 cm)
Location: Bodhum, Cocoon
Education: High School
Relatives: Lightning Farron (sister), orphan (See "Lightning Farron")
Known Affiliations/acquaintances: Snow Villiers (boyfriend), Gadot, NORA, Oerba Dia Vanille
Personality: Mature, wise, caring, remains positive even in the most grave of times
History: Born three (3) years after her elder sister. She grew a great distance from Lightning after she joined Guardian Corps., as she rarely spent any time with her.
Miscellaneous: Straight-A student, planned to attend university in Eden, but abandoned idea after meeting Snow, cooks the food for her and Lightning, interested in history.
Name: Sazh Katzroy
Height: 6'2" (189 cm (including afro))
Location: Unknown, presumably resides in Bodhum
Education: Graduated College
Occupation: Former train conductor, now serves as an airship pilot
Relatives: Dajh (son), wife (Deceased)
Known Affiliations/acquaintances: PSICOM Lieutenant Colonel Jihl Nabaat, PSICOM, Hope, pet Chocobo
Personality: Carefree, goodhearted, selfish, silly, strong will of justice, helpful, levelheaded, mature
History: After Sazh's wife died three years ago, he took up responsibility to care for his son.
Miscellaneous: Hates Cactuars.
Name: Snow Villiers
Height: 6'7" (200 cm)
Location: Bodhum, Cocoon
Occupation: Leader and founder of NORA, a neighborhood overwatch group tasked to protect Bodhum from surrounding wildlife
Relatives: Orphan (cause of parent's deaths are unknown)
Known Affiliations/acquaintances: Serah (girlfriend), Lightning, Gadot, Lebreau, Maqui, Yuj, Lt. Amodar
Personality: Pompous, reckless, naïve, optimistic, arrogant, stubborn, easygoing, passionate, unreliable, hot-headed, fearless
History: Having lived with no parents, he was raised in a Sanctum facility for his whole life. Grew up to form NORA.
Miscellaneous: Lightning compares Snow to her father, which may explain her ruthless behavior around him.
Name: Hope Estheim
Height: 5'0" (153 cm)
Location: Palumpolum, Cocoon
Education: Middle School
Relatives: Nora Estheim (mother), Bartholomew Estheim (father)
Known Affiliations/acquaintances: Kai, Elida, Hal, Sazh Katzroy (known back when Hope was eight (8) years old)
Personality: Naïve, insecure, sensitive
History: Hope is known to have a distant relationship with his father, Bartholomew, even going as far as to say he hates him.
Miscellaneous: Always wanted to visit Gran Pulse.
Name: Oerba Dia Vanille
Age: 619 (physical age is 19 years old)
Height: 5'3" (161 cm)
Location: Oerba, Gran Pulse
Occupation: Pulse l'Cie
Relatives: Orphan (parents were killed by Cocoon's fal'Cie before the War of Transgression)
Known Affiliations/acquaintances: Oerba Yun Fang, Serah Farron
Personality: Childish, innocent, considerate, understanding, headstrong, stubborn, empathetic, caring, positive
History: Involved in the War of Transgressions, her and Fang's Focus was to transform into Ragnarok and destroy Cocoon. She fled from her Focus after realizing the true strength of Ragnarok. Before Fang's incomplete form of Ragnarok dealt the final blow to Cocoon, Etro intervened and crystallized her and Fang.
Miscellaneous: Loves to cook.
Name: Oerba Yun Fang
Age: 621 (physical age is 21)
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
Location: Oerba, Gran Pulse
Occupation: Pulse l'Cie
Relatives: See "Oerba Dia Vanille"
Known Affiliations/acquaintances: Oerba Dia Vanille, Serah Farron, Cid Raines, Captain Rygdea
Personality: Cocky, confident, stubborn, sarcastic, determined, independent, strict, caring, compassionate
History: See "Oerba Dia Vanille"
Miscellaneous: Loves salty foods, rides a Chocobo sidesaddle
Six hundred years after the War of Transgression, Fang and Vanille awaken from their crystal stasis and are given a new Focus, only for the former to lose their memory of what happened. Not wanting to harm anyone again, Vanille played along with Fang’s loss of memory and pretends to have lost hers as well. Fang looks down at her brand to notice that it had turned white. They make their way outside and are shocked to learn that they’re inside Cocoon. They also quickly realize that they weren’t crystallized for ten years, as evidenced by the decayed food inside Anima’s chambers.
The duo goes out to hunt for food, when an elderly couple out on a walk quickly catches them. Completely oblivious to the presence of Pulse citizens, they leave them alone and continue walking. Suspicious that the couple never attacked them (they are the enemy, after all), they tail them from behind to see what they were up to. They don’t see anything fishy about the couple, but were still paranoid that they could be attacked at any moment. They hear a small fluttering noise and notice a white owl flying off. They gather their food from the Bodhum wildlife and proceed to chow down. They decide to check out the city next, see what exactly happened during their crystallization.
Nine days before her birthday, Lightning was patrolling the shores of Bodhum, when she is attacked by an aquatic monster, but is swiftly rescued by Lebreau and Yuj—members of NORA (No Obligation, Rules, or Authority). Lightning sees them as reckless amateurs and unprofessional at what they do. She meets Serah’s boyfriend, Snow, as he is conversing with her superior, Lieutenant Amodar. She is not pleased by his reckless behavior and vigilantism. She threatens Snow to stop seeing her sister, but he doesn’t budge and takes off.
Members of NORA. From left to right: Yuj, Maqui, Lebreau, and Gadot.
After she returned home late at night, she shut herself inside her room, ignoring Serah’s presence. She remembered the day that Serah and herself visited the hospital when they were twelve and fifteen, respectively, and she had told the latter that she had to be strong for her sister. She had told her that they called her their “cute little spoiled girl”, but after Serah was born, they no longer called her that. Her mother gently brushed Lightning’s hair and said, “My little spoiled girl”, then dreamt an endless dream. Poor Lightning…
Fang and Vanille explore a shopping mall and notice the myriad of shops throughout. Fang quickly catches on that the items people were purchasing were stolen from Gran Pulse, and is furious about it. But, knowing that they would draw attention, she doesn’t lash out. Two young men approach the two and offer them lunch. Initially dubious of them, they gladly accept their offer. They arrive at the restaurant and are horrified that they do not know Cocoon’s written text. The two men offer the special, and they make do with that.
After asking them what a “You-knee-verse City” is, they pray—it’s proper etiquette on Gran Pulse—and chow down. They ask the two men how long the Pulse Vestige has stood there, and they get an estimated time of 666 years, according to historical texts. When Fang asked them if the Cocoon fal’Cie’s act of taking the Vestige out of Pulse had any repercussions, the two men thought she was stupid and proceeded to laugh at them, telling her that the people of Gran Pulse were “barbarians”, and that the citizens of Pulse should be thanking Cocoon for putting the items from Pulse to good use. If only you could see the look on Fang’s face.
Furious, she asks the two men to speak with her… in private. They walk to an area outside of anyone’s view and she proceeds to knock the two of them out cold. While the two men are unconscious, Fang and Vanille steal their credit cards. They spot the white owl and flee from the area to return to Anima. When they arrive, they notice that someone had entered the Vestige. They head inside and find a young girl lying near Anima’s chamber. They notice that the girl was branded a l’Cie by Anima. They take the girl outside and rest her near the fal'Cie. The girl begins to wake up and the two hide to observe what she does. She notices the brand and walks off in tears.
Earlier in the day, Serah speaks to one of the members of NORA, Gadot, about where Snow was. He tells her that he’ll be late. She thanks him, as he takes off in his airbike. Serah goes near the promenade and watches the birds on the shore. Snow arrives and tells her about Lightning. They talk about her and what they plan on doing for Light’s birthday. Maqui, a member of NORA, approaches Snow and informs him that there are monsters in the forest near Bodhum. Snow says goodbye to Serah and heads out, before Serah tells him that they will have to shop for a present for Lightning’s birthday. She tells him that she’ll explore the Strange Ruins of Bodhum.
Interested in uncovering the secrets and history of the ruins, she attempts to explore the ruin, only to find that there is no visible entrance. She touches the surface of the structure to feel what it felt like. The structure shifted and opened up, revealing a way in. She eventually discovers a large crystal moving, as if it were alive. Suddenly, she sees a bright, burning white light and sees a vision of Ragnarok in her head. She immediately loses consciousness and passes out. She awakens outside the ruins to discover that she was branded a Pulse l’Cie.
Lightning wakes up early in the morning and gets dressed for work. She begins to question the rigidity of Serah’s relationship with Snow, thinking he couldn’t keep her safe. She wonders that if their mother were still alive, the two of them could tell her that he’s too much of a liability to her. She realizes that her mother would have probably been soft on Snow, because her husband was very similar to Snow: easy-going and good-natured, but unreliable. She knows that she has to keep her sister safe from him. No one else will. She leaves for work earlier than usual.
She visits the shopping mall on her way to work. She knows that the Bodhum fireworks will be crowded with people attending the display, and accidents are prone to happen, so she heads there to see where each store is and where to assign her soldiers. Exploring the mall made her feel guilty, realizing how little she spends with Serah. She begins to wonder if she began to find someone to talk to, and eventually found Snow.
She hears Hope conversing with his mother and checking out the pet Chocobo chicklet there. When asked if they would like to buy one, they tell the clerk that they’re on vacation, and that the trip back to Palumpolum would be too long. Then, an idea popped in Light’s head: a vacation. She would make up the lost time with her on a vacation. Maybe not a long vacation, but a short one would suffice. She then catches sight of Fang and Vanille and questions their clothing. Amodar approaches Lightning from behind and asks her why she thought their clothing was weird. She begins telling him of the two women she noticed, but sees that they’ve disappeared.
Fang and Vanille continue exploring Cocoon, when they overhear two elderly women talking about a fal’Cie tour at the Euride Gorge plant. Curious, they tail behind them, remaining undetected by the two as they eavesdrop on their conversation. They learn that it will take a good while to get there, as it requires a train to get to the plant. They break off and make their way into a store, where Fang tells Vanille that doing this might make her remember what their Focus was. Fang heads out, with Vanille opting not to go, but she is obligated to follow her. They find the train station and enter the first train to the Euride plant. On board the train are Sazh and his son, Dajh. Dajh wanted to see a fal’Cie up close and personal, so Sazh took him to the Euride Gorge plant to see the fal’Cie Kujata. Fang and Vanille leave the train and make their way inside the Euride Gorge plant.
PSICOM Lieutenant Colonel Jihl Nabaat
Dajh wanted a pet Chocobo chicklet from the tour, so Sazh obliges. While he was busy making the transaction, Dajh wondered off and explored the facility. As he explores the plant, he comes upon Fang and Vanille, attempting to destroy the fal’Cie. Believing he was playing hide-n-seek, he plays along with Dajh, when the facility suddenly begins to violently shake. Panic ensued as he searches for his son in the flood of tourists. Fang and Vanille make a break for it, and run into a dead end. Sazh eventually finds Dajh near the glass window overlooking Kujata. As he checks to make sure he was all right, he discovers a strange mark on Dajh’s hand. Paramedics arrive and take Dajh to a first-aid room on the site. There, he meets Public Security and Intelligence Command (PSICOM) Lieutenant Colonel Jihl Nabaat. She instructs him to speak with her in private about his son. Dajh is taken under supervision by PSICOM to determine what his Focus is.
Meanwhile, Fang shoves Vanille into an elevator and seals it shut to keep her safe. By the time she dealt with the soldiers pouring in from the facility, Vanille was long gone. After escaping from the elevator, Vanille made her way back to Bodhum and learns that Fang is nowhere to be seen. As Fang begins her escape, she spots the same white owl from earlier. She escapes the facility by taking an airbike from Euride to Bodhum and lays low until the next day.
The following day, Fang begins searching for Vanille, but only finds that white owl once more. She is quickly apprehended by Captain Rygdea, and is taken to the Lindblum, a massive airship, to see Brigadier General Cid Raines (pictured right) and the Cavalry. Once Raines introduces himself to Fang, he tells her that they are not enemies, and seek a similar goal. Fang thinks he’s full of shit—you should expect that from someone who witnessed her home being ravaged by a Sanctum fal’Cie—and calls him out, but Raines cooperates with her and tells her the truth. There, she learns that Vanille has not been captured. Rygdea makes a deal with Fang: he searches for Vanille, and in exchange, she avoids being captured by PSICOM.
Rygdea (pictured left) began his search around Bodhum, when he catches up with Lightning and asks her where young girls would hang out, as he suspects that Vanille might be blending in with the locals in Bodhum. She understands the situation at Euride and cooperates with him, suggesting the café down by the beach. He enters the café and speaks with Lebreau about Vanille, but she doesn’t know of anyone that he described. He searches the shopping mall, but to no avail. He returns to the Lindblum empty handed.
Serah dumps all over Snow, and dumps him in general. She takes off the piece of cloth over her left arm and reveals to Snow that she was branded a Pulse l’Cie. Snow is completely befuddled and horrified by the news. She runs off towards the beach in tears. Determined to get her back in his arms, Snow converses with her to try and see what her Focus was; she unfortunately doesn’t know what it is. He tells her that he is willing to help her complete her Focus, no matter what the circumstances. How noble of you, but it ain’t happening.
Serah: Dis shit's gettin' real, dawg.
Fang attempts to escape the Lindblum, but is caught by Raines. He asks her to follow him, but she doesn’t buy it, suspecting that someone of his stature wasn’t alone. He takes out his sword and gives it to Fang, telling her that if one of his men arrives, she can do whatever she pleases with it; kill him, hold him hostage—anything she wants. They arrive in a room and listen to audio from an inside man with a hidden microphone. They hear Nabaat and Lieutenant Colonel Yaag Rosch speaking with the Sanctum Primarch (the Sanctum being the quintessential version of the government), Galenth Dysley, about Eden’s decision to lift the barricade around Euride. He begins to speculate about Fang’s Focus, stating that a Pulse l’Cie’s Focus is more than likely to destroy Cocoon. He then tells her that he plans on using Fang’s power to topple the Sanctum government. Fang tells him that she won’t do it until she finds Vanille, but Raines retorts by displaying three fingers, telling her to wait three days until the festival starts so that she can find her there.
Sazh speaks with Nabaat in a medical observation room on Eden, where medical personnel are monitoring Dajh. He learns that the fal’Cie Kujata branded his son a Sanctum l’Cie; he is the first person to be branded a Sanctum l’Cie since the War of Transgression. When he asks her what will happen to his son, she tells him that they expect a massive invasion from Pulse, that Dajh was the key to saving Cocoon, but told him to keep it a secret. She then reassures Sazh that he will be able to see his son again the next day.
I'll give you a hint: The Lindblum is not the one in the front...
Hope and his mother, Nora Estheim, are on a ten-day vacation to see the Bodhum fireworks display. They had planned on having Hope’s father, Bartholomew, attend the fireworks display with them, but he was on a business trip. They plan on visiting the Euride Gorge plant after the barricades were lifted. He remembers back when he was only eight when he and his friends, Kai and Elida, attended a school field trip of the Sunleth Waterscape facility, and how he nearly died when they ventured off exploring the facility on their own.
Sazh visits the observation room once more and sees Rosch playing with Dajh in the room. Nabaat informs Sazh that his son has the powers to sense anything Pulse related, be it fal’Cie, l’Cie, or artifacts from Pulse. He asks if he could see Dajh, and Nabaat grants him permission. Dajh begs Sazh to see the fireworks festival in Bodhum, but Sazh is skeptical that PSICOM would let that happen. Nabaat takes interest in his desire to see the fireworks and approves the visit, knowing that they might find clues pertaining to the accident at Euride.
Serah and Vanille visit the shores of Bodhum and talk about stuff—it’s a girl thing. Vanille asks her if they’ll meet again, while Serah responds by telling her that it’s a possibility. Vanille then tells her that she’s looking for someone and wants to apologize to the aforementioned someone, but she doesn’t know what to say. Serah answers by telling her that if it’s too hard to do, then it’s better to leave it behind until the right moment comes. Serah then tells her of a bad dream she had that involved her destroying the world. Unable to hide her guilt, she collapses onto her knees and tells Serah that she’s sorry.
Serah conversing with Vanille
Snow and Serah are out shopping for a present for Lightning’s birthday. Even though she’s at risk of turning into a Cie’th in broad daylight, she still has time to shop. They browse through store after store and can’t find anything, when they stumble across a jewelry store and think of something. While they were still looking around, Snow tells Serah to go on ahead, as he was going to the bathroom. But, unbeknownst to her, he is actually shopping for an engagement ring for Serah. He ends up buying two of the same pendants with the engagement ring laced around the necklace. While he was doing his thing, Serah found a store that sold bladed weapons. They go into the store and buy a small knife for Lightning.
Fang is given leave to search for Vanille, and started her search at the fal’Cie Anima; she finds Vanille’s weapon inside, but doesn’t find her there. She continues searching, when Rygdea informs her via her wireless communication device that PSICOM was investigating the fal’Cie. She heads back, knowing that she didn’t see anyone there, but is quickly proven wrong. She flees from the area while it’s still dark out and continues her search in the shopping mall.
On their way to the fireworks display, Dajh takes an interest in the Bodhum ruins. Jihl, suspecting that there was something inside the Pulsean structure, sends a team to investigate the structure. Meanwhile, during the fireworks display, Fang is about to ask Lebreau where Vanille is, when Snow barges in and asks her where Serah is, telling him that she’s at “the usual place”. He takes off and she proceeds to describe Vanille. Lebreau is unable to remember anyone like that, and Fang leaves. She is contacted by Rygdea via the wireless device and is ordered to return to the Lindblum immediately.
Snow pulls out the two engagement pendants he bought and proposes to Serah; she says yes. Yay! Vanille is at the fireworks show, making a wish. Lieutenant Amodar informs her that PSICOM discovered something in the Vestige, and that she should keep her nose out of their business for her own safety. Hope and his mother attend the fireworks display. He asks her what she wished for, and her response was to have her husband attend the fireworks display. Hope does not like the wish, telling her that they don’t need him here.
Lieutenant Colonel Yaag Rosch
During the fireworks display, Sazh and Dajh enjoy the fireworks while under the protection of PSICOM soldiers. Dajh wishes that Sazh would be happier. Jihl Nabaat approaches the two and informs them that the team she sent in found a Pulse fal’Cie inside the structure, but the team never returned from the fal’Cie. Dajh then asks Sazh to visit Nautilus, a theme park run by the Sanctum. Don’t worry; he only said that because he remembered the attraction—he didn’t sense anything there. Rosch approaches Nabaat from behind and informs her that the decision to commence the Purge would begin, a total lock down of Bodhum and its residents. They enter a garrison and make their way back to Eden’s observation room, when they change plans. They believed that he was still sensing things from Pulse, so they kept Dajh with Sazh, under the condition that the medical personnel continue to observe them.
After hearing the news that they were to leave Bodhum by order of PSICOM, Fang snaps and attempts to kill Raines, but Rygdea restrains the crazy bitch. They attempt to reason with her, but she won’t listen. Raines assures her that they will do everything in their power to find Vanille. That cooled her down a bit.
Sazh and Dajh wake up and begin their day the same way they have for the longest time: he got dressed, ate breakfast while his son watched TV, then left with Dajh to take him to the daycare center, where he would then leave and head to work. But all that would change that day. An emergency news broadcast came up on all channels, declaring a state of emergency. Sazh hears a knock on the door and opens it to find Nabaat on the other side. She informs him that they will depart as soon as possible, and that the Sanctum decided to force all citizens of Bodhum to leave the city and be sent to Pulse.
They enter the garrison and head out, when Dajh notices a young girl on an airbike descending onto a platform on the fal’Cie. She reaches out and attempts to grab the other person on the airbike, when she is dragged inside the fal’Cie. The airbike disappears entirely. Realizing that the young girl was in trouble, Sazh begs Nabaat to save her, but she replies by telling him that the fal’Cie will be deported to Pulse. Knowing that Dajh hasn’t turned to crystal from finding both the fal’Cie and the girl trapped inside the fal’Cie, while realizing that PSICOM was only using Dajh as a tool, he planned on destroying the fal’Cie with his bare hands. But he was skeptical that he could single-handedly take down a fal’Cie as a regular being.
They arrive at the observation room, where Dajh departs from Sazh. Thinking of a way to shake the military off his back while he makes his move on the fal’Cie, he asks Nabaat if he could buy something for his son in Palumpolum. She gladly accepts, under the condition that soldiers escort him, since he would be treated as an enemy if he went alone. His plan was to arrive in Palumpolum and escape from the soldier’s field of view in the sprawling crowd and fly back to Bodhum—and it works.
Today is Lightning’s 21st birthday. Happy Birthday, Lightning!! Serah drops the bomb and informs Lightning of her status as a Pulse l’Cie, while Snow tells her that Serah will be his wife. The shit has just hit the fan, folks! Lightning was furious that her own sister was made a l’Cie, and that she would marry someone like Snow. She even threatens Serah, letting her know that if she really is a l’Cie, she will kill her. Serah runs away and leaves Snow to her sister. Snow is enraged that Lightning would treat her sister like that, but Lightning forces Snow out of her house. After that heated moment, she opens one of her presents to marvel at the military-grade knife Serah had bought for her. How relaxing.
You can at least crack a joke, Light.
Snow and Serah are leaving Lightning’s house to speak to Anima (Re: will never happen in a million years), when Protera detects them, and lets out a loud alarm. They run into resistance from the military and flee, taking one of the airbikes with them. The bike takes a hit and the duo are forced to land near a platform on Anima, knowing that PSICOM cannot approach the fal’Cie. That was not the best of ideas, as Serah is ensnared in a strange, silver liquid oozing out of Anima. She is sealed inside the Vestige, and the seal emits a pulse that sends Snow’s airbike in a downward spiral to the ground. He survives the crash and attempts to flee from the military, but is apprehended by PSICOM and is sent to the Purge. Anima’s vestige is lifted and sent to the Hanging Edge by Protera.
I think she's kinda f***ed
Vanille is gathering food in the shopping mall, when a soldier approaches her. The soldier informs her that they are doing check-ins at the Bodhum station. She hastily makes her way there without hesitation. As she made her way to the station, the streets of Cocoon were in pandemonium. She also heard via the news program that the Pulse fal’Cie, along with the Purge train, would be sent to Gran Pulse. She is conflicted with two ultimatums: she either stays on Cocoon to try and complete her Focus, and possibly find Fang in the process, or she leaves Fang behind and departs to Gran Pulse, ultimately abandoning her Focus. In the end, she decides to take the train to Pulse, knowing that she wasn’t going to find her anywhere, especially given the barricades preventing her from leaving the area. In addition, she was most likely going to be forcefully sent to the Purge.
Sazh arrives back in Bodhum and is able to make it inside without being attacked. He told the military that his wife and son were in the city, and wanted to be with them when they were purged. He arrives at the Bodhum Station, where the citizens were being departed to the Hanging Edge. He lines up like the rest of the lot. Vanille arrives at the station and waits in line. From behind, Nora accidentally knocks her down to the floor. She politely apologizes and lifts her back on her feet. Hope accompanies Nora as they are being sent to the Purge as well. Lightning attempts to board the train to the Purge to rescue Serah, but is told that Sanctum staff and soldiers are exempt from being purged. So what does she do? She quits her job. Sazh meets her and boards the same train she goes into. Meanwhile, Fang and the rest of the Cavalry are waiting below the Hanging Edge and wait for the Purge train to arrive, when Fang sees that white owl again.
Smokin’ Jesus Titty Cinnamon! It’s Game Time!
A train is leaving to send a group of people to the Purge, a mass genocide meant to remove any potential threat of Pulse l’Cie. Think of it like a combination of the Holocaust and Witch Hunts: it was an all out manhunt to find and dispose of anyone who might be a Pulse l’Cie—a massacre in disguise. On board the train is everyone’s favorite ass kicking, gangbusting, destiny-defying femme fatale: Lightning Farron! Oh, and Sazh was in there as well. As a guard approaches the duo, the train passes through a barrier, causing the train to shake violently, allowing Lightning to quickly run in and attack the guard. After she frees everyone from their shackles, she proceeds to mow through every guard inside the train like a boss.
The train is abruptly stopped by a Warmech, forcing Lightning and Sazh to exit the train to take it down. After dealing with the Warmech, they proceed down the Hanging Edge and witness an airship crashing into the bridge, splitting it in two. She attempts to dive down below using a Gravity Field to safely descend to the bottom, but Sazh grabs hold of her and drags her back, thinking she was insane, temporarily damaging her equipment. Rule #1: Never touch her. Ever. Thankfully, Sazh is a lucky son of a gun and spots a crane that can take them to an operating airship. They then proceed to activate the ship.
Meanwhile, Snow and his band of misfits make a push against the PSICOM army to rescue a group of deportees. When they arrive, the beleaguered civilians become inspired from their fighting and beg them to join the resistance and take the fight to PSICOM. Seeing as they could use the extra firepower, he obliges. Among those that take up arms is Hope’s mother. Vanille also decides to take up arms against PSICOM. You’ll learn to hate Vanille. You’ll know why…
Growing tired of the resistance, PSICOM sends out a Beta Behemoth to stop the push entirely. After Snow and company defeats the Behemoth, PSICOM sends out an airship to deal with the resistance for good. Snow attempts to grab a rocket launcher from the middle of the battlefield, but is heavily suppressed, missing the rocket launcher entirely. Snow is about to be killed by the airship’s main cannon, when Nora steps in and takes out the airship with a well-placed rocket. Sadly, it was not enough to stop the airship’s cannon from firing, as it completely levels the bridge, sending everyone falling to their death. Snow tries to save Nora from falling, but she relinquishes her grip, telling him to “get him home.” Snow eventually loses his grip of the rebar he was clinging onto and lands on a pile of debris. Watching from above is a mortified Hope, along with Vanille as well. Vanille proceeds to bitch slap him out of his horrified state and instructs him to head out with her.
Back in Lightning’s front, the Pulse fal’Cie Anima descends into the Hanging Edge, making its presence known. Lightning, knowing Serah is inside the Vestige, leaps off the airship and activates her Gravity Field, landing safely on the platform below while leaving a small, spherical field on the ground. Sazh slowly shimmies his way down, only to slip and land in Lightning’s gravitational field, cushioning his fall.
Sazh: You happen to have a camera on you, right?
Snow and Gadot wake up from the fall and regroup with NORA. Hope is harboring a deep, burning hatred of Snow for failing to save his mother, while Snow represses his depression and guilt of Nora’s death. Snow makes his way to Anima with one of the PSICOM airbikes that got them there. Hope and Vanille hijack the other airbike and follow suit.
Hope is unable to control the airbike and crash lands inside the Vestige. Snow found his way somewhere above Vanille and Hope, as he activates several power nodes that change the area inside the Vestige. Meanwhile, Lightning attempts to break through a metal door with a Pulse l’Cie brand covering it. Feeling apologetic for her sister and what’s become of her, she presses her hand against the brand and it opens on its own, allowing them to proceed.
Hope and Vanille move on ahead, when they encounter a horde of Cie’th encroaching on them. They’re about to be Cie’th dinner, when Snow jumps in and saves the day—sort of. After the fight, Hope attempts to speak his mind, but he’s unable to draw enough courage to speak up. Eventually, everyone meets up to one another in a room where Serah is. Lightning picks her up and attempts to take her away, but Sazh stops her, warning her that she’s a Pulse l’Cie. He draws his pistol and tells Lightning that she could turn into a Cie’th. Serah wakes up and tells Lightning and company to protect Cocoon, and then turns to crystal, fulfilling her Focus in the process. A crystal teardrop from Serah begins to fall and Snow is quick to grab it. Lightning then Falcon Punched Snow in the jaw after he wouldn’t shut up about Serah being alive.
Anima's real body inside its vestige.
The army then proceeds to attack Anima head on in an attempt to destroy it. Knowing that they have no time, Snow and company make their way to the heart of Anima in hopes that they can reason with it. Pfft. Yeah right—and I can transform into a Koala Bear. Oh wait… Snow begs the fal’Cie to make Serah human again, in exchange for him to be a l’Cie instead, while Lightning goes for more barbaric methods of conversation: with her sword, thus prompting Anima to attack.
When they dealt the final blow, they are metaphysically transported to an alternate dimension called the Realm of the Gods. There before them is Hallowed Pulse, ready to brand them. Because Anima’s heart was destroyed, he is now dead. He went out with a bang. No really, he did. The Vestige turned to crystal, and then created a shockwave large enough to destroy everything around the now deceased fal’Cie. The fal’Cie plummets to the very bottom of the precipice, where it crashes into Lake Bresha and crystallizes everything around it.
The gang awakens in a crystallized Lake Bresha to discover that they have become l’Cie. They battle a small squad of Cie’th using their newfound powers. As they discuss what their Focus is, they all come to the conclusion that they all have the same Focus, as each one saw visions of Ragnarok appearing to destroy Cocoon; none of them, however, believe that their Focus is to actually destroy Cocoon. Snow insists that their Focus is to protect Cocoon, with the “fact” that Serah said, “Save Cocoon.” Lightning doesn’t buy it, and squads of PSICOM soldiers ambush the group, but they are no match for Lightning’s swag.
I could watch this all day.
They quickly find Serah’s crystal form and attempt to dig her out, but are interrupted by Lightning as she walks away, believing that this will be the last time they’ll see each other. Snow is livid that she would walk away from her sister, and vows that he will protect Serah and Cocoon. Lightning has a fever; and the only prescription is more Falcon Punches. She lashes out and strikes Snow twice, enraged that he will protect her, even though he failed in his task. Who said lightning couldn't strike twice in the same place? So, remember that Warmech from the beginning? Well apparently it’s still kickin’, as it ambushes the group.
They deal with the threat, but Snow stays behind to dig Serah’s crystal form out of the crystal lake; the rest of the group heads out. As they’re trotting along, they discover that the army is planning to seal all possible exits from Lake Bresha, and are rushed for time. They explore a temple and find a white owl, along with a functioning airship that can get them out of the area. Luckily for the group, Sazh is a seasoned pilot and can operate the ship with little trouble.
They take notice of my carriage in motion; they disapprove.
Meanwhile, Snow is in a bit of a pickle, as PSICOM soldiers attack him. Outnumbered and exhausted from all the digging and fighting, he admits defeat, when his brand glows a bright blue. The Eidolons Stiria and Nix appear and wipe out all the soldiers around him. Fang and her men appear and observe the battle that ensues. Snow succeeds in defeating the Eidolons and the two transform into the Shiva Sisters. Fang steps in and knocks him out cold. Serah’s crystal is dug up by PSICOM and is transported away from Lake Bresha, along with Snow.
Lightning and company makes their escape on the airship they discovered. They elude the tailing ships, but only for a moment. As they safely fly off, they watch a live program on the status of the Purge. Speaking live is Galenth Dysley. Vanille, completely oblivious to his presence, asks Sazh who he is. You can tell how that went. They are suddenly met with a wonderful company in the form of enemy bogies. They fly straight inside fal’Cie Phoenix’s arcs of light to get the pursuers off their tail. They unfortunately take a hit from the bolts and crash land in The Vile Peaks.
The group awakens, dazed from the crash and is forced to deal with enemy cyber dogs. After dispatching the dogs, Lightning moves out, as she knows that they are being tracked and must travel as far from the crash site as possible. Hope pursues Lightning, as he acknowledges her experience and finesse, while Sazh and Vanille stay behind to catch their breath for a moment. A cylindrical cog that crashed into the bridge Hope and Lightning traveled towards splits the path, forcing Sazh and Vanille to take a different route.
Seeing as Hope is dead weight to her, Lightning abandons him and presses onward. Damn—rejected. Sazh and Vanille eventually find Hope and search for Lightning. They eventually find Lightning being unfriendly as usual. They stop to take a break, when Sazh asks Lightning where they might go. Lightning chooses her destination by looking into the stars: Eden, Sanctum’s seat of power. At first, he thought she was joking, but he quickly realizes she isn’t. Rule #2: Lightning never jokes about anything. When she says she’ll destroy Eden, Sazh cries blasphemy, realizing that she wants that to happen—because they’re Pulse l’Cie, enemies of Cocoon. She wonders if Snow “the hero” would try to stop her, then proceeds to walk off into the night, leaving Vanille and Sazh behind yet again.
That's not a star...
Knowing that he could be one step closer to Snow, Hope follows Lightning once more. But this time, Hope needs to step up his game if he wants to keep following her into battle. They settle on an agreement that they will head to Palumpolum to get to an airship that would take them to Eden. Sazh thinks that they should follow her, but Vanille says that they would simply be a burden to her. Sazh agrees with that and move out.
Hope is still unable to grow a pair and man up, as evidenced by Lightning’s change of attitude. Suddenly, Lightning’s brand begins to glow a bright red. A wild Odin appears! After defeating the Eidolon, Lightning sees Hope's potential and tells him that she’ll make him tougher. They find a place where no one would find them and call it for the day. Back in Snowville, Snow is taken to the Lindblum to speak with Cid Raines about their “execution”.
Hope and Lightning arrive at the Gapra Whitewood, a biological weapons facility, as they discuss how to approach the area. Hope mans up and takes point, with Lightning watching the rear. Lightning hands Hope the knife Serah gifted her on her 21st birthday to keep him safe, but tells him that she wants it back. Lightning notices that Hope’s been getting more and more aggressive and fidgety—something’s eating at him, besides all the animals they’ve run into. She asks what’s making him feel this way. She quickly devolves it to Snow, as that grabs his attention. He tells her what happened during the Purge that got his mother killed. He blames Snow for Nora’s death, and wants him to pay. She later learns that Hope wants Snow to suffer for what he’s done—he wants revenge. He names this little slice of revenge: Operation NORA. How cute… They escape the Gapra Whitewood facility and see Palumpolum in the distance. Lightning suggests they visit his father to let him know what happened, before they head to Eden.
While Lightning and Hope make their way to Palumpolum, Vanille and Sazh find themselves in The Sunleth Waterscape. Neither one knows where they will hide, so Sazh makes the suggestion of Nautilus. They proceed on ahead, combating against the local wildlife there. Sazh tells Vanille the story of how Dajh became a l’Cie. He then tells her that his reasoning for going on the Purge train was to destroy Anima, for he believed that Dajh’s Focus was to destroy the Pulse fal’Cie—but you already know that. They arrive at the docking station that will take them to Nautilus.
Palumpolum is infested with Guardian Corps. soldiers, as they begin quarantining the city. Lightning and Hope arrive just as the operation commences. Hope informs Lightning that there are underground tunnels that will lead them into the heart of Palumpolum, while avoiding the rest of the soldiers that are moving towards the city. They make it into the underground portion of the city, the Nutriculture Complex, where they discover the fal’Cie Carbuncle. Lightning questions whether Cocoon was made for humans, and, instead, was built for the fal’Cie (which is not true). Hope says that the fal’Cie treats humans like pets, and Lightning has a sudden epiphany: she lived in a fal’Cie world, on a fal’Cie leash. She cancels Operation NORA and Hope goes mental that she would abandon him like this. She assures him that she won’t.
Lightning tells Hope that he was just like her when she was little, and then proceeds to tell him what happened to her parents. After fighting their way through the complex, they reach an elevator that takes them to the surface. They are caught by the military—no surprise—and they are about to be executed by a battalion of soldiers, when Snow and Fang arrive and put a stop to the execution. Snow summons his Eidolon and goes to town on the soldiers—but that doesn’t mean Lightning will miss out on the fun.
Sweet mother of Jesus!
Knowing his plans, Lightning puts Hope under the care of Snow (thank god for that. I was getting really tired of all the Lightning-Hope fanfictions where they apparently support pedophilia), while Fang pairs up with her. Knowing that Snow is the only one keeping him alive, he waits for the right moment to strike. After much fighting, Snow gets a call from Fang on his pimpin’ cellular phone. She is angry at him for not calling her after the big fight. Fang then passes the phone to Lightning and informs Snow that they will rendezvous at Hope’s house. Snow then tells Lightning that there’s still hope for Serah to turn back. Desperate for answers, Lightning attempts to tell him that Hope is plotting to stab him in the back, but interference blocks off her communication with them. Lieutenant Colonel Yaag Rosch issues out an order to ignore any and all fire zone restrictions, giving the soldiers permission to open fire on anyone they suspect is a Pulse l’Cie.
Snow and Hope run into a group of civilians being guarded by GC soldiers. Snow beats the tar out of the soldier, picks up his gun and fires it into the air, dispersing the crowd so that the remaining soldiers in the area don’t kill the civilians. They are quickly met with resistance from the civilians, but escape the area without harming anyone. A lot of dead soldiers later, Hope confronts Snow, but is quickly interrupted by an Ushumgal Subjugator—it’s a flying tank with six legs, ok? They defeat it and take a break. With no one but them around, Hope finally confronts him. Hope blasts Snow off a balcony, but he manages to cling onto the railing. He goes on his knees and begins plunging the knife down on Snow’s hands, when a PSICOM airship fires at them, sending Hope flying. Snow, now realizing who Nora was referring to when she told him to get him home, dives down and grabs Hope before they crash into the ground.
"Nora Estheim. She was my mother. And she died because of you!"
Fang tells Lightning that her sister will eventually be freed from her crystal stasis, and that it was her own fault for making Serah a l’Cie. Lightning steps in front of her and gives her the pimp hand. As they traverse the town, they spot ships flying above them towards the explosion caused by the airship earlier; they make their way to the explosions. Speaking of, Snow and Hope are alive, albeit in pain and unconscious, respectively. Hope awakens on Snow’s back and the latter makes a lengthy apology to Hope. So, apparently that Ushumgal Subjugator is still alive, and knocks Snow unconscious, leaving the fight to Hope. Luckily, Lightning and Fang arrive just in the nick of time to save Hope. They deal with the threat, and Hope returns Lightning’s knife to her. Lightning gives him a great, big hug. D’aw! They all make their way to Hope’s home, where his father is surprised to see him.
Hope tells him everything that happened; he’s not a big fan of it. Snow wakes up from his coma and converses with Lightning. They talk about Serah, and how she couldn’t face dealing with her; she apologies for everything that has happened. Snow accepts, under the condition that she tells him what her real name is. Lightning declines, telling him that only Serah will tell him; just so you remember, Serah is still in crystal stasis.
They speak with Bartholomew about what they plan on doing next, when PSICOM raids the house. Snow takes Bartholomew to the back, while the rest deal with the uninvited guests. After it’s finished, they come back out and discover that an entire battalion of PSICOM soldiers are outside, waiting for them to make their move. Snow takes off his jacket and dangles it out to bait them to shoot. They take it, and he yells at them to stop if they want to see a l’Cie in person. He steps out, drawing their field of vision towards him. He is enraged that they believe Pulse l’Cie are considered monsters, and that they want to protect Cocoon just as much as they want to. Yaag Rosch appears before Snow, telling him that the Pulse threat is not something that can easily be dismssed—one that demands sacrifices for the better good.
So... wanna hear a knock-knock joke?
Suddenly, the Cavalry make their move and ambush the battalion. They gravely wound Rosch, as he barely escapes the battlefield with his life. After the fight is over, Lightning forces Hope to tie his father down, as the soldiers who pass by will realize that he was “ambushed” by the l’Cie. Then, a massive airship appears and attacks the group. They take care of it with style, but another one appears. As if the fight wasn’t hard enough as it was. Thankfully, Rygdea’s freighter takes care of it, and offers Lightning and company a ride. The Cavalry take Bartholomew to safety shortly after touching down.
Sazh and Vanille arrive in Nautilus, an amusement park—otherwise known as The City of Dreams. They make their way to the Pompa Sancta, a show displaying various Eidolons in a pageantry fashion, while telling the story of the War of Transgression. Vanille bares witness to Ragnarok’s true form and is startled by it, as usual. They leave the parade and make their way to Nautilus Park to take a break from the l’Cie business. After playing hide-n-seek with Sazh’s Chocobo chicklet, he tells Vanille that he plans on turning himself in to PSICOM, so that he can talk to Dajh one last time. Feeling guilty for Sazh, she begins to tell him who were responsible for the Euride Gorge incident, when they are ambushed by Guardian Corps. snipers. They retreat, but into another trap set up by GC soldiers.
After fighting through waves of soldiers, they discover Dajh. He runs up to Sazh and shouts, “I got you!” Ecstatic to see him, he goes to hug him, but Dajh turns to crystal before he is able to do so. Waiting for them is Jihl Nabaat with a small fireteam escorting her. She tells him that his son’s Focus was to find the l’Cie responsible for the Euride Gorge invasion; and he did—sort of. She then tells him that the two responsible for the invasion were Fang and Vanille. The soldiers take aim as Vanille runs off into a nearby building, but Jihl orders them to stand down. She then gives Sazh two options: Let them deal with Vanille, or he can, knowing she is responsible for turning Dajh into a Sanctum l’Cie. Enraged, he runs in after her. One of the soldiers asks Nabaat what to do next. Her response? “Follow them, and observe. How often do l’Cie kill their own?”
He catches up to Vanille and attempts to shoot her, but does not have the strength to do it. Suddenly, his brand begins to glow and Brynhildr appears before him, ready to execute the troubled, old man. But Sazh ain’t gonna go quietly into the night, because he takes care of it. He tries one more time to kill Vanille, but is unable to do so. Instead, he points the gun to his head and pulls the trigger. Vanille is taken in, while Sazh is put in a coffin.
This stereotype is getting old.
Vanille and Sazh are taken to the Palamecia to await their execution. The Primarch himself visits the Palamecia to see the l’Cie executed. On the Lindblum, Lightning and company become acquainted with Cid, Rygdea and everyone on board as they learn what happened to Sazh and Vanille. They then discuss what course of action they take. Snow, being the hotheaded idiot, wants to board the fal’Cie and rescue their compatriots, while toppling the Sanctum and giving the power to the people. Viva la Revolution! Everyone agrees and they move out, ready to rescue their friends.
They arrive on the Palamecia and trigger an alarm. Vanille and Sazh take notice of the alarm. Gotcha! He only fired past his head and was knocked out by Nabaat. Anyway, two PSICOM soldiers grab them to be sent to their execution, but Sazh and Vanille take care of them with little trouble and make their escape. Lightning and company make their way outside of the vessel and work their way around the ship to find Vanille and Sazh, when they just… show up. It’s one big, happy reunion. But it’s short lived, as a Wyvern appears and ruins the fun. But that doesn’t mean Fang and Vanille can’t have fun—and that’s exactly what they do. They stop it dead in its tracks and use it to fly straight to where Dysley is.
After slaughtering an entire station of soldiers, they reach Dysley’s chamber, where Jihl defends Dysley, but is immediately killed by the latter. He proceeds to kill everyone using magic, and leaves the l’Cie present in one piece. Snow, furious that he willingly killed everyone in the room, charges him and tries to land a blow, but Dysley is faster than he appears and puts up a barrier, knocking Snow back towards the group. So, I think everyone has become familiar with that white owl by now, right? Well, let me be the first to introduce a new fal’Cie for this occasion: Menrva, Dysley’s power stowed away when needed. Lightning accuses Dysley of being a l’Cie, while he retorts by absorbing Menrva into his staff, transforming himself into Barthandelus. Alakazam!
They do battle with him and show him whose boss. Dysley transforms back into his human form and informs them of their true Focus. He tells them that their Focus is to destroy Orphan and send Cocoon falling to the ground. Snow tells Dysley that Serah told them to save Cocoon, but Dysley knows the “truth”: she merely brought forth the tools needed to destroy Cocoon. Menrva then transforms into an airship so that they can escape. Did I mention that Menrva can transform into an airship and back? Yeeeah…
A still wounded Rosch attacks the group in his own airship to stop them from escaping. They take a hit, but Menrva deploys a shield that protected it from the blasts from Rosch. They make it through Eden’s shield, and look back to make sure they aren’t being followed. They look back around to see that they’re about to hit the side of a building, but Menrva teleports them to a different location just in the nick of time.
They arrive at an unknown location, where Vanille says it’s a piece of Pulse, but it’s still on Cocoon. Snow is torn up from what Dysley said, while the rest of the gang tries to make sense of why a Cocoon fal’Cie would want to destroy Cocoon. Hope comes up with the hypothesis that it could be some sort of grand scheme of the fal’Cie that no one understands. How right you are, Hope—but that’s for much later.
They make their way to a small platform that glows bright red, and begins affecting their brands. They are then attacked by a group of Pulsean robots. They deal with the threat and learn that they now have the potential to assume all combat roles. Let the grinding begin… The group discovers that they are inside an Ark—The Fifth Ark, to be precise. Fang then tells the group that Arks were made to hone and improve a l’Cie’s power. They come to the conclusion that Dysley sent them there to make all of them powerful enough to take on Orphan. As they move deeper and deeper into the Ark, they encounter the Immortals, those war machines the humans built before the War of Transgression.
The whole gang eventually finds Cid and learns that he was made a Sanctum l’Cie before they even met. His Focus: To put them on the path to their Focus. He tells the group that their Focus is, in fact, to destroy Cocoon. When Sazh asks why a Cocoon fal’Cie would want that, Raines responds by telling them that they plan on bringing back the Maker, the entity responsible for the creation of both humans and the fal’Cie—aka, Lindzei and Pulse.
He explains that humans have waged war with one another for centuries, and the fal’Cie wants to restore order to the world. In order for this to happen, they plan on bringing them back by opening Etro’s Gate in hopes that their creators will return. In English, they plan on killing everyone on Cocoon in order for the giant mass of souls to clog the gate, resulting in the return of their respective gods. Spoiler alert: They are bat-shit insane and stupid. Hope asks why the Cocoon fal’Cie couldn’t just destroy it themselves, and Raines answers by informing them that they are unable to, because they are incapable of going against their mandate of preserving Cocoon. He was made a l’Cie by Barthandelus after a failed coup against the fal’Cie rule.
With a snap of his fingers, he imprisons the group and transforms into a Cie’th hybrid, defying his Focus in the process, knowing that if he can stop them from reaching Orphan, Cocoon will be safe. Raines is defeated and turns to crystal, for he was blocking their progress to fulfill their Focus. His crystal form begins to disappear, and the group moves on ahead.
They eventually reach the outside of the Ark. Snow is invigorated with confidence, saying that he plans to protect Cocoon, even though it’s not their Focus. Everyone but Fang agrees to this. Bitch. Fang’s brand begins glowing and brings forth Bahamut, marking her execution. But she won’t be executed, because she kicks its pompey ass.
Conqueror of the Skies
They find a functioning Pulsean airship, and a gate to Gran Pulse. Add them together and you have a group of l’Cie on their way to their destiny. They are attacked by Pulsean wildlife, causing the airship to burst open and stop functioning, resulting in Hope and Vanille to be sucked out of the ship. Lightning and Fang drop down after them and summons Bahamut. The whole gang jumps on Bahamut and ride off into the sunset.
Welcome to Gran Pulse!
We’re almost to the good part of the game!! The whole group sets up camp in the Terra Incognita region of Gran Pulse. Lightning, Snow, and Sazh explore the area to see what there was, and explore the ruined civilization of Paddra. They make their way back to the camp and ask where Hope is. Fang tells them that he went to grab food and supplies. Sazh’s Chocobo chicklet comes flying in and chirps on and on, leading them to realize that something happened to Hope. They find him unconscious and bring him back to camp.
Snow is upset that they’ve made it to Gran Pulse with no way of getting back to Cocoon, but Sazh counters his point by telling him that they did good getting this far. Vanille tells everyone that they could go further, with Fang asking if she’s sure about her decision, since she knows where she’s thinking of going to. Then, Hope says what Vanille was going to say: Oerba. Apparently he knows of a village that he has never been to or even heard of, but ok… He then tells the group that he would rather stay behind, that he’d be a burden to the party and didn’t want to see them suffer because of him. Then, his brand begins to glow. Again?! Hope brings forth Alexander to mark him for death. Big things come from small packages, eh?
They take care of it and Hope, after defeating the Eidolon, is rejuvenated and rejoins the group, whereupon they all agree that they will head to Oerba to find answers. They rest up for the night, ready to tackle Gran Pulse in all its fury. Now, after about twenty or so hours of play, you’ve finally reached the greatest part of the game: The Archylte Steppe! Have at ‘em!
The pair steps into the plains and discover a Cie’th Stone, l’Cie that failed their Focus and offers anyone strong enough to tackle their Focus with rewards. After much farming, the gang proceeds to make their way inside the Mah’Habara Subterra. As they explore the tunnels, they discover Atomos digging deeper into the Mah’Habara, as it usually does.
Fang and Vanille step out of the tunnels and into a small, grassy plain and have a small chat. Fang tells Vanille that she remembers everything that happened before she awoke from crystal stasis; her becoming Ragnarok, her scaring Cocoon—everything. Vanille tells her that she’s lying. And cue the glowing brand… Fang tells her that she was merely lying about remembering everything to trick Vanille into fessing up that she did remember their Focus. The Eidolon Hecatoncheir appears and they do battle.
He's got a lot of arms.
They deal with the last Eidolon—finally—and continue on with their squabble, but they eventually kiss and make up. The group continues to descend deeper into the Mah’Habara and attempt to stop Atomos so that they can board it. Hope enters a Pulse Armament and drops it down in the path where Atomos moves through, but falls out of the Armament. Hope is about to become a pancake from Atomos, but the Armament that Hope was in attempts to stop it dead in its tracks. Other Armaments jump in and cease the fal’Cie’s momentum. They board Atomos and arrive at the Sulyya Springs.
Vanille converses with Snow and tells him that her and Serah had met before the Purge. She then tells him that her Focus was to transform into Ragnarok and destroy Cocoon, meaning that Dysley was lying about Serah’s Focus; she simply handed Cocoon to them and gave them her Focus. They then find Bismark swimming in the lake. Sensing threats, the fal’Cie manipulates the area to bring forth powerful enemies and retreats to its watery home.
They take a break outside of the Springs, while Lightning and Snow make their way to a grassy field. He tells her that Serah “wants to talk”, handing the crystal tear to Lightning. She draws her sword and asks him if he’ll still marry her sister, knowing that if they complete their Focus, they will most likely marry for real—which she doesn’t approve of. She then tells him that Serah better be happy when he gets married, while he responds, saying that the crystal tear is the last tear she’ll ever weep. He is worried that they’ll never see her again. Lightning goes around him and presses her fist against his back, assuring him that they’ll see her again.
They eventually reach Taejin’s Tower, where they spot the fal’Cie Dahaka flying to its lair. The Menhirrm, guardians of Taejin’s Tower, greet them as they enter. They are told to leave (how nice of them!), but Vanille begs them safe passage to Oerba. The Menhirrm comply and open the path for them. They reach the second floor of the tower when they are attacked by Dahaka, forcing them to take an alternate path to the apex. There, they learn that in order for them to reach the top of the tower, they must complete various trials from the Menhirrm. After clearing the trials, the path is cleared, and they proceed onward. Dahaka attacks the group once again, but is rightfully punished, as the Menhirrm attack the fal’Cie and sever a small portion of its body.
There are more trials along the road, but they clear them. Dahaka once again attempts to kill Lightning and company, but, just like last time, the Menhirrm are able to sever another part of its body. They finally reach the apex and are attacked by Dahaka, yet again. This time, however, the Menhirrm aren’t around to help out. They proceed to kick its ass and a rolling elevator comes in to take them to Oerba. Before they head out, they get a good view of Oerba’s lush and green village—but it’s not what they expect.
They arrive in Oerba to discover that a blanket of snow covers the entire village, and the village is both decimated and devoid of any humanity. That’s what happens when the fal’Cie responsible for protecting the village goes away. Speaking of fal’Cie, Serah makes an appearance in Oerba, and the group is shocked to see this; Snow is overwhelmed with emotions. They hug, and Serah tells him that she was thinking of a way to save Cocoon. Snow realizes that she’s not real and shoves her. She then tells the group that they have to destroy Cocoon to save the world. Lightning is perturbed and begins drawing her blade, when Serah retorts by calling her out, saying that because she loves her so much, she would never lay a finger on her. She addresses Lightning by her real name: Claire.
It turns out that Serah was Dysley in disguise as her. He's a big fan of cross-dressing. Snow charges once again to hit him, but Dysley puts up his barrier. He informs the group that he resigned from his position, and appointed Raines as Primarch. That would explain why Raines' crystal form disappeared. The Cavalry will see him as a traitor to their cause and will attempt to stage a coup against him, sparking civil war inside Cocoon’s shell. They’ll then believe that the fal’Cie were pulling the strings on Raines, and that will shift their attention to Orphan. Basically, all sides—the Cavalry and the Pulse l’Cie—will go after Orphan in an attempt to kill it. He transforms into Barthandelus and battles the group to keep them busy while his plans are set in motion.
After a long and arduous battle, Barthandelus is defeated once more, and transforms back into his human form. He brings forth Menrva, transforming into its airship form to take the l’Cie to Cocoon. Dysley disappears entirely and the group is once again alone. A Cie’th Stone appears before them, detailing their Focus in full. They realize that they cannot stop what’s already set in motion, but they do realize that they don’t have much time left, so they make their way to Menrva and take off to Cocoon to slay Orphan.
During a race on Eden, Lightning and company drop in on the party and make a big scene. Snow, being as boastful as ever, cheers to the crowd, raising his arm up and revealing his brand to the crowd. He lost a good chunk of karma from that action. The military take action against the threat, but are completely annihilated. Unbeknownst to them, the armies of Pulse, aka the wildlife, have made their way inside Cocoon through Transgates, basically a fancy way of saying portal.
Rygdea and the Cavalry show up and assassinate Raines, freeing him of his enslavement to the fal’Cie. The gang makes their way across the now-destroyed racetrack and reaches a point where they have to drop off. Apparently, Lightning handed out Gravity Bombs to everyone prior to the onslaught and they make it down in one piece. Eden is in complete pandemonium and chaos. After much fighting, they find Rosch waiting for them near the end of the road, along with his airship, the Proudclad. He enters his airship and combats the l’Cie. Rosch retreats after a heavy beating and the group continue onward.
That's one scary looking tank-airship hybrid.
The group eventually runs into Gadot and the rest of NORA. They know that Snow and the rest of his companions are Pulse l’Cie, and tell them that he and the rest of NORA will take care of the survivors, while they finish their Focus. As they close in on Edenhall, Etro’s Gate is visible in the sky, ready for the mass genocide to occur. Dysley appears and informs them that the Cavalry will reach Orphan and slay it before they can. He disappears once more and the group press onward to Edenhall.
They reach Edenhall and witness the entire military guarding the entrance transform into Cie’th. They fight through them and find Rosch’s ship crashed right where they need to go. It starts up and attacks the group once more. He fails to stop them and is gravely wounded from the assault. He asks the group of the status of his men. He does not like the response. Rosch knew from the beginning that the fal’Cie were taking advantage of humans, and admits that he believed that it was for the sake of Cocoon’s protection—he misjudged their benevolence. He pulls out his communicator and orders every PSICOM and Guardian Corps. agent to cease all l’Cie operations, and instead focus their efforts on the evacuation of every citizen on Cocoon. He lets them pass into Eden. As the group enters, two Behemoths appear and attack Rosch. Knowing that he will die, he pulls out a grenade and detonates it, taking the beasts with him.
The group enters Edenhall Reliquary and learns the fate of the Cavalry who entered to destroy Orphan. Suddenly, the area begins to change around them, and they learn that they are actually inside Orphan’s Cradle. As they move on ahead, they are approached by three unnamed fal’Cie, two of which put up portals to Gran Pulse and Edenhall. The entire area around them changes once more, this time forming platforms leading to other parts of the area. After many fights, they are teleported to an arena where they battle Jabberwocky and Bandersnatch. It’s off with their heads and they are teleported back inside Orphan’s Cradle.
The second fal’Cie appears and creates a floating platform that houses some pretty mean baddies. But they don’t stand a chance against Lightning! Anyway, they’re teleported once again to an arena, where they battle Wladislaus. He is expelled and they return to Orphan’s Cradle. The third and final fal’Cie appears and forms a tower that the group must climb in order to reach the fal’Cie. After assassinating three Sanctum Templars (it’s infuriating enough to deal with one, but three?!), they reach the third fal’Cie, are teleported to another arena, and battle a Tiamat Eliminator (Do I really have to do the whole explaining thing again? It’s a small airship). They eliminate the threat and are teleported back to Orphan’s Cradle. The third fal’Cie brings forth a portal taking them to Orphan’s chamber. They go through it and proceed down the hall.
They reach the end of the hallway and drop down to the chamber. Dysley, along with Serah and Dajh’s crystal forms, appears before the group. He proceeds to destroy the two crystals, making Snow extremely red with anger. He attempts to Falcon Punch Dysley, but he puts up his barrier once more. If at first you don’t succeed, stop doing it. Lightning and Sazh tell Snow that the crystals were nothing more than illusions; fal’Cie smoke and mirrors. They ready their arms and prepare to battle Dysley. He absorbs Menrva and transforms into Barthandelus and attacks the group.
Barthandelus is defeated and slowly sinks into a large pool of water. They celebrate over the victory against Barthandelus, but the celebration is cut short when Menrva dives into the pool and fuses Barthandelus with Orphan and transforms into one fal’Cie. They battle Orphan and are unable to defeat the fal’Cie hybrid. Orphan uses magic to paralyze the group, leaving only Fang and Vanille up and moving. He suspends Vanille up in the air and attempts to transform her into Ragnarok, but Fang interjects and forces them to turn her into the beast that will slay him. Vanille attempts to reason with Fang, saying that she cannot forget their Focus, but she answers back by telling her that she has to protect her family—her family being Vanille, Lightning, Snow, etc. Lightning and the others break free from the paralysis and witness Fang attempting to strike Vanille. Snow and Sazh jump in and grab hold of Fang’s staff and legs, respectively, while the others move Vanille away from Fang. Fang breaks free from their hold and launches into the air, sending herself and her spear crashing into the ground. The impact is strong enough for everyone to be affected by her strike.
Everyone but Fang and Vanille have turned into Cie’th. The two are demoralized by the fact that their comrades have all died and turned to Cie’th. The Cie’th go to town on the speechless and fear-stricken Fang and collapse on top of her. Fang’s brand begins to glow and breaks free from the Cie’th. Her brand jumps back into the blackened state and steps forward to fulfill her Focus, knowing that her time has come. She transforms into Ragnarok’s incomplete form and attacks Orphan, but she immediately transforms back into her human form—her brand turns white once again. They raise her up and try to forcefully turn her into Ragnarok, but to no avail. Suddenly, Lightning and company appears and greatly damages Orphan, while getting Fang safely down. It turned out that it was once again an illusion. Everyone’s brands have turned white as Orphan sinks into the water. Their new goal: To destroy and save Cocoon at the same time.
Ragnarok's incomplete form
The real Orphan emerges from the water and tells the group that the fal’Cie are far superior to them. Lightning steps forward and rips the fal’Cie a new one, sending Orphan into a frenzy. They slay Orphan for good, and the group escape from its chamber. All of Cocoon’s power is destroyed, and it begins its descent towards Gran Pulse. Everyone but Fang and Vanille make their escape out of Cocoon. Fang and Vanille transform into Ragnarok’s complete form and escape Cocoon. They dive into a pool of lava and shoot it up towards Cocoon, ensuring that it will stay aloft in the sky. They travel through the lava and embrace their arms around the bottom of Cocoon’s shell and turn to crystal, transforming Cocoon and the pillar of lava into crystal in the process. The two are now one with Cocoon, their human forms trapped inside its crystal shell. The rest of the group turns to crystal outside on the plains of Gran Pulse.
So that's what the logo symbolizes.
Everyone but Fang and Vanille emerge from their crystal stasis to discover that they are no longer l’Cie. Big props to Etro for doing both of those things! The army is in the process of evacuating the citizens out of Cocoon. From the distance, Serah and Dajh make their way to the group and reunite.