Tainted fal'Cie – Extended Author's Notes
A shoutout goes to Raziel12, a fellow fanfiction author who started the trend of Extended Author's Notes (at least from what I've seen and read). Like him, I wanted to provide a bit of insight into how the story itself was written, how certain things came about and why. With this story being my longest running and my most successful story up to date, to leave things hanging as they were, would not do it justice. These are my final notes on the "Tainted fal'Cie" story, from questions asked by readers to ideas I touched upon in the story itself but wasn't able to fully explain.
Before I get to that, I just want to quickly reply back to some unsigned reviews.
Sparkxxx7 - Thanks for the review! :) I'm glad you enjoyed the whole story, and despite not having an account, left me a comment. That means a lot. ^^ It is rather sad for Bhakti, and it was a bit upset upon seeing him again in FFXIII-2. It was a shame you really couldn't interact with him during the game, aside from seeing him. I too hope to make a great published writer. :) As for Rygdea, it was assumed he was turned into a cie'th in Eden, though it was never explicitly stated. I believe you may be mixing him up with Amodar, whose image was used in the guessing game in the second game. Whether or not he survived as well is unknown. Thanks for the review!
black. dot - Thanks for the review! It is a pretty sad ending, I have to admit. When I first started this story, I wasn't sure how it was going to end. But when FFXIII-2 came closer and closer to release, I knew it wouldn't necessarily have a happy one. It's funny you mention TF should be the FFXIII-2 sequel. Having written this for so long and whatnot, whenever I think of the events between the games, all I can think of is this. Lol. XD I have the FFXIII Episode 1 book on order and eagerly await for it to arrive so I can find out what really happens in between. :P Thanks for sticking with the story this long. :)
tlrc - I'm not sure if you're checking your pms as the last few times you've reviewed unsigned, but in case you haven't been, I'm replying back to you here. First off, thanks for the review. ^^ I already knew not everyone would like the ending, myself included (believe it or not) but as this was the link between games, it was going to happen. I'm a more happy ending type person, but even so, sometimes an ending is more powerful when it's not happy, right? Lol. Thanks for keeping with the story as long as you have. :) You're very sweet. I too consider you a friend. ^^ I have played FFXIII-2, and like yourself, I was sad that Lightning was once again given the short end of the stick. Here's to hoping the last game will give her what she so rightly deserves. ^^
Chocobo ProdoCo - Thanks for the review! :) And thanks for voting in the poll too. To answer your questions, read below. As for the treasure hunter achievement, I finally got wednesday past midnight. Lol. Since then, I've been playing FFXIII-2. Thanks for the comment. ;)
Blacksteel - Thanks for the review. ^^ Fear not, I have an inner bookworm too, and just like yourself, I wanted this story to go on forever. But as we all know, all good things come to an end, and to drag it out for eternity would make it lose what we love about it. I'll be a bit slow on starting up new stories as I'm adjusting to my busier now than before schedule, but rest assured, you will see more from me. ;) Thanks for the comment. ^^
smilebear27 - Thanks for the review. ^^ As mentioned above, I kind of see my story as the fill in episode between the two games. It's rather amusing. Lol. And I did finally get the treasure hunter achievement. Took me months to get, but I got it earlier this week. Phew! Thanks for the support and kind words. :)
Riku91 - Thanks for the review! I agree with you on the end. It was very sad. As mentioned above, I'm more of a happy ending type person, but with the way FFXIII ended and how FFXIII-2 started, that was just not possible. Despite the ups and downs of the tale, I really appreciate you sticking with the story as long as you have. I think you've been there from the beginning if I remember correctly. :) As for your question, that will be answered in this author's note, among other ones I'm sure. ^^ Thanks for the support! :)
RoxyRoxas1313 – Thanks for the review! The story did turn out to be very sad, but unfortunately how game two started. Lol. And don't even get me started on how it ended. Sheesh. In my profile you'll notice I made mention for a sequel to this piece. It's a long ways away, but it will happen. :)
On another note, thanks to all who voted in the poll. I think it's pretty clear what everyone wants. Hehe. I will focus on a few stories, posting updates for them on a semi-regular basis. Just a heads up, with me adjusting to my busier than before schedule, the start up of new stories may take a bit longer. Hence, there may be a momentarily lull between now and my new stories. Fear not though, I have a few ideas for fanfictions in mind and you will see them coming to light soon enough. ;)
And now, back to the other stuff! XD Below you'll find the answers to many of your questions Q & A style.
To use a beta, or not to use a beta? That is the question.
I chose to start off with a beta for one simple reason: I was a newbie writer to FFnet. While I had been a stalker to the site for many years, having stumbled across it eons ago, I didn't officially take the plunge as a fanfiction author until October 30, 2010. Despite being confident in my ability to write, I was worried I would mess up the story by not keeping the characters in character or by doing something much worse. So I got a beta, my first one being my best friend Lily.
Why I had a beta in the first place was not to make sure that my grammar and spelling were up to par, those things were easy for me. The real reason I needed a beta, a second pair of eyes, was to make sure I kept characters in character and kept the story as true to the game world as I possibly could. As a first time fanfiction writer, I didn't want to let my readers down by writing something so outrageous that it turned people away. The FFXIII community had been well established before I started writing, proof of that being the many awesome stories I eventually sat down and read. Admittedly, I was rather intimidated with the idea of trying to write as well as those amazing stories, because honestly speaking, some of them were way above my level of writing.
Needless to say, my fears were unwarranted and my story turned out great in the end. After going through three betas (EliteSky and Scraggles, you ladies are teh awesomeness! :3), I decided that I no longer needed a beta at that point. I had become confident enough in my skill and it was only a matter of carrying on.
How did the story come about? (why I wanted to write this story)
After finally playing the game and beating it, I was left with a sense of both achievement and yearning. While I realize the developers couldn't fit in every little thing, I felt there was more that could have been explored in the game, from certain relationships with the characters to explaining certain quirks about things. It was around that time there was talk of a possible sequel to the game, though nothing had been confirmed yet.
For months after playing the game, I was plagued with the ideas of what if? What if Fang and Vanille came back? What if they didn't? What happened to the survivors after the game? How did they adjust to life on Gran Pulse? And the questions just kept coming. Finally, I decided it was time to write my first FFXIII fanfiction which ended up becoming the story "Finding Home." The idea behind that story was to explore how the surviving former l'Cies adjusted to their new home on Gran Pulse, specifically Lightning, as she was my favorite character out of them all. It was only meant to be a five chapter story, with each chapter focusing on a conversation between Lightning and each of the remaining former l'Cies.
However, as I was writing it, a reader introduced me to the Fabula Nova Crystallis Mythology, as well as Episode 0 and Episode 1 for FFXIII, and things started to take a different turn. The talk of Chaos and the implication of corruption and darkness in the Fabula Nova Crystallis Mythology really intrigued me. I had ideas of having Fang and Vanille coming back from crystal sleep, but I felt that based on how the game ended, they wouldn't come back just for a visit. Something had to be wrong for them to come back. They had to come back to help the others deal with some new enemy, and that's how "Tainted Fal'Cie" was essentially born.
Where did the ideas for the story come from?
I get my inspiration from the things around me. From nature. From family and friends. From the animes or movies I watch, to the games that I play. One of the key ideas I wanted to explore was the idea of fate and destiny. That is a pretty common theme, found in many movies, and books among other things. I wasn't convinced that Lightning, Serah, Fang, Vanille, Hope, Snow and Sazh just so happened to end up the few unlucky people caught up the fal'Cie mess, becoming branded and so forth. I felt there was a deeper reason than that. It was almost like they were destined to have that happen to them.
Personally, I believe that I make my own destiny. I believe that fate is something people put too much faith into, blaming bad fortune on it when really, it's something they have more control over than they want to believe. At the same time, I'm intrigued with the idea of a controlled (or guided) path one has to follow no matter what happens. The idea of being selected for something special, in the case of the former l'Cies, for something so amazing and life changing, that was something I wanted to really carry on from the game and into my story.
If you look at humanity's own history, of all the great leaders which emerged over the years, while it's true they worked hard to get where they were, sometimes I can't but wonder if maybe they were destined for greatness. William Shakespeare once said: "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." That, to me, was the perfect embodiment of what I was trying to explore in my story. Fate and destiny versus choice and circumstance.
Using other fanfiction stories as background for the characters.
Before I wrote any fanfictions, I decided to read a whole bunch of them first. Why? I wanted to see what ideas had already been covered by others, how the characters were portrayed by other people and such. I spent a good two months reading through every single FFXIII story I could get my hands on. Yes, you read correctly. I read every single one of the thousands of FFXIII stories on before I put my pen to paper to write out my first fanfiction. I was doing research of sorts, and if there's anything you must know about me, I like to be as thorough as possible. Call me a nerd. :P
Anyhow, in my binge of fanfiction reading, I came across many awesome stories. Some of them I chose to use as reference material for my own story, when it came to the characters' backgrounds and history. While it could have made up something on my own, after having read those fanfictions, I couldn't think of anything better to use. So I sought out those fanfiction writers and sent them a PM, asking for permission to use their ideas as part of my story. Thankfully all of them said I could, of which I will always be thankful for. I'm not sure what I would have done if they had said no. Lol.
Keep in mind, all of the fanfiction authors have been credited in my story. For any readers out there who are considering borrowing ideas from other fanfictions, I highly encourage you to ask the author's permission to use it first. It's just a common courtesy. Most important of all though, give them credit for their works. I can't stress that enough. Stealing is not very nice and I'm sure you wouldn't like that done to you. So please, ask for permission. And if you're turned down, respect the author's choice to do that.
Dividing "Finding Home" and "Tainted Fal'Cie" into two stories.
As mentioned before, my first fanfiction "Finding Home" was only meant to be a short story. It was my first attempt at a fanfiction, so I wanted to start off with something slow and small to see what kind of reaction I'd get from the community. Not only that, it was meant to explore how Lightning specifically was reacting to the events which followed the end of the first game. I suspected that Lightning wouldn't be too happy, despite getting her sister back, because in her journey as a l'Cie, she formed a new family of sorts and two of those family members were now missing. That's why I couldn't resist putting in that one chapter where Fang and Vanille also had a chat with Lightning. But soon, a multitude of ideas flooded my mind and I couldn't but think about continuing the story further.
At that point, I chose to finish "Finding Home." It had done what I wanted it to do, that is to explore how Lightning was coping with Fang and Vanille's sacrifice and how the others were trying to help her through it. It also served its purpose in giving me great feedback from readers. If I were to drag it out any further than that, it wouldn't have done the story justice. And so "Tainted Fal'Cie" became its own story with its own direction and ideas.
Similarities between FFXIII-2 and Tainted Fal'Cie.
I always laugh when I think about this particular point. Some of you have been wondering if I'm actually a Square Enix writer in disguise as many of my ideas overlapped with the FFXIII-2 game. But as much as I would like to say yes to that, the answer is actually no, I'm not. (Though if any of you were to hear about openings at SE, let me know. :P) It was rather surprising how much in common my story had with the FFXIII-2 game storyline, but believe it or not, a lot of that was coincidence. Unless I said it specifically in the chapter's author's notes, that I took the idea from FFXIII-2, the ideas are all mine, may it be of my own imagination or a combination of that with the Final Fantasy mythology. Here's a bit of a time line for you:
"Tainted Fal'Cie" started back in November 2010, months before FFXIII-2 was confirmed to be in the works. Originally, when I first started this story, I wrote it on the fly. I didn't have much of a plot line established, just ideas of what I wanted to explore. But as time went on, I found it more and more difficult to keep it focused, especially when real life issues and such started demanding my attention. And that is why I announced I'd be drawing out the posting schedule from every week to every two weeks near the beginning of the story. I knew I had a good thing going on and didn't want to lose it completely. So I gave myself the time I needed to hopefully figure things out.
In the first week of January (2011), I said enough was enough and sat down to summarize out the remaining chapters of "Tainted Fal'Cie." Being the type of person who works better with a schedule and some sort of structure rather than doing things on the fly, I spent four hours one night, summarizing chapter by chapter of what I would write for the rest of the story. In the end, I finished the summary with 33 chapters, including this Extended Author's Notes. Keep in mind, this was the week before FFXIII-2 was confirmed to be in the works, and before the first teaser video came out.
From there, I worked off of the outline I had done up, not paying much attention to the announcements about FFXIII-2 aside from the fact that it was happening. While it is true this story ended up with a lot more than thirty-three chapters, that was simply due to some of the chapters I outlined taking up two to three chapters instead of the one chapter I had allotted for it at the time. So the ideas such as Cocoon falling and the chaos (which mirrored the Tainted and its corruption), I came up with all of that before hand, some of it based on the Fabula Nova Crystallis Mythology.
It wasn't until chapter 48 and later did I decide to start incorporating some of the FFXIII-2 ideas into my story. At that point, I was nearing the end of writing the story itself, and during that time (October 2011), things like Valhalla and such were revealed. I decided at that point to link Valhalla with the Unseen World, having the Place between Waking and Sleeping acting as a link to that world.
Kind of funny how that worked out, huh?
Researching Tainted Fal'Cie.
One of the things I was very particular on with my story was getting the game world and characters right. This was set to take place after the events of the first game, and I wanted to make sure I described the world as it was in game properly, very much so for the characters.
After researching everything I could get my hands on related to the game, I decided to incorporate game lines and references directly into the story. It got to the point where I decided to play FFXIII all over again (to get all of the achievements in preparation for FFXIII-2) and as I was fighting through the various levels, anytime the characters did a battle cry of some sort, I paused the game and wrote it down. I'm happy I did that, for a lot of the times I needed such battle cries especially in the action based chapters.
The Voice of the Tainted and the Shadowed Four.
Admittedly, the voice of the Tainted and its Shadowed Four was inspired by the bad guy Harbinger from the game Mass Effect 2. Anytime I was writing dialogue for them, all I heard was Harbinger's voice, intonation and all. Lol. Though, I did borrow some of Caius' lines from the FFXIII-2 trailers as well towards the end...
Lightning's Tainted Brand.
Quite a few of you have asked what Lightning's tainted brand looks like. My answer to that is, I don't know. Hehe. In all honesty, I never had a particular image in mind about what the actual brand looked like. All I knew was that it was much bigger than both the Pulse brand and Cocoon brand, the Tainted brand being as large as Lightning's stomach. Beyond that, I didn't feel it necessary to describe what the brand looked like as we all knew what brands were and what they did. Not to mention, the effects of the branding was revealed in other ways throughout the story as well, such as the blackened and twisted flesh taking over Lightning's body.
Fang & Vanille's Brands.
I know a few of you were wondering about Fang and Vanille's brands. Why did they have them? Why did they hurt? Their brands were a timer of sorts, reminding them of how much borrowed time they had left. It was also their connection to Crystal Cocoon, as they were supposed to be holding it up. If anything happened to it, they would feel it. That's why in chapter 31 for example, their brands were burning. Crystal Cocoon was in pretty poor shape at the time with things only seeming to get worse. Etro could only help them so much with her limited powers, and hence the reason why they also retained their magic wielding abilities and the others did not.
Texts, Scrolls, Tablets and Hymns.
The Forgotten Text, the Lost Text, the Last Scroll of Etro, the Tablet of the Eidolons, the Stolen Sermons of the seeress Paddra Nsu-Yeul, and finally Serah, Vanille and Etro's hymns, those were just added touches to the story. I needed a way to integrate the history and lore that I made up for the story without having to write boring chapters filled of history lessons and boring dialogue. That in itself proved quite challenging, especially because I couldn't not put them in there. They were all important parts of the story that needed to be revealed one way another, just not in the way that is would detract from the story.
In the end, it worked out best to show one verse at a time for the ancient texts at the beginning of each chapter and have Vanille, Serah and Etro's hymns revealed as part of the story itself. Admittedly, one of the big reasons I did that was because I wanted to dabble a bit in poetry while writing for the FFXIII. Though, knowing what I know now, if given the choice, I may have found another way to do it or maybe not have put it in at all. While I can write poetry, for me, I only write poetry when in the throes of a very strong emotion. To write out verse after verse for all of those chapters was really a tolling thing on me. In the end though, I think it worked out for the best and everyone seemed to appreciate it. For future however, don't expect me to be doing that again. Lol.
In "Tainted Fal'Cie," the theme of sisters was a big part of the story. The bond between Serah and Light as well as the bonds between Light, Fang, Serah and Vanille. While playing the game itself, I realized that we didn't really know much about Fang and Vanille's past, so much of it was never revealed. I truly wanted to examine that bond between our lead soldier and huntress, as I felt they really had a sisterly relationship of sorts coming towards the end of the game. Not only that, I wanted to add more depth to Fang, her reasons for being so protective of Light when it came to the Tainted, why she was so adamant about the things she did and such. And I couldn't think of a better way than having her have a sister from before who was lost to the taint as well.
Ask me anytime and I'll tell you I think that Serah was hugely underdeveloped as a character in the game. Now before you dispute it, don't get me wrong, I don't think it was an intentional thing. It was simply that Serah's role in the game was to start them all off on their l'Cie journey. Sadly, this did not allow for her character to be developed into what I felt she should have developed into. So I wanted to fix that with my story.
I really believe Serah to be much stronger than how she was portrayed in the first game. I'm waiting to see what happens in the second game before I decide if her character was done justly. For now though, I wanted to explore the stronger side of Serah's character, her bond with Lightning (which we only got a glimpse of at the end of the game), and everything else that is Serah Farron. Not only did that help add depth to Lightning's character, it also strengthened the other characters as well in my opinion. It gave the characters that sense of family and wholeness. In my eyes, without Serah, none of them would be who they are now.
I think this has to be one of the biggest questions of the game. Why does Lightning have a cape? Who gave it to her? And so forth. If you asked me, I have no answer for that. I honestly have no idea why Light has a cape or who gave it to her. Other fanfictions I've read have sought to answer that question. Me, on the other hand, I simply wanted to acknowledge that question, but as I didn't have an answer for it, I left it unsolved.
Death of Mrs. Farron.
As canon goes, Lightning's and Serah's mother died from a mysterious illness. And it was that event which led to how the sisters eventually ended up where they were at the beginning of the game. This provided a great opportunity for me to not only add depth and history to the Farron sisters, but to also intertwine the corruption of the Tainted and the key question of fate and destiny into the mix as well. I was very pleased how it turned out.
Eidolons and the former l'Cies.
In my mind, the relationship between the former l'Cies and their Eidolons is both symbiotic and something much more. As mentioned by Fang in the story, they're both part of the same coin, just different sides. Following that idea, it seemed only natural that when something happened to their Eidolons, the former l'Cies could feel it too and vice versa. Which is why you see Odin getting tainted along with Lightning as the story progresses.
On top of that, I also felt the Eidolons were guardians of the former l'Cies. I brought this point across with Odin protecting Lightning from the taint at times, all the way to how the Eidolons sometimes did things against the orders of the former l'Cies to protect them. While according to canon, Etro sent the former l'Cies Eidolons to either help them or put them out of their misery if they couldn't make up their mind about their focus, I also believe that Lightning and the gang were specifically chosen by their Eidolons, making their bonds more than just a random chance of fate.
Like our heroes, their Eidolons had special attributes about them. While they were originally Etro's messengers and children, I went a step further saying that they were a piece of Etro, embodying an attribute of her in some way. Keep in mind their elements are pulled from the game, though I tweaked some of them to fit the story. And so their qualities and attributes were as follows:
Odin - White Knight of Etro, Nobility, Guardian, Protector, lightning element
Bahamut - Black Knight of Etro, Defender, Shield, non elemental/wind element
Shiva - Will of Etro, Unity, Companionship, Teamwork, ice element
Alexander - Strength of Etro, Courage, Innocence, Desire, non elemental/physical attack
Brynhildr - Kindness of Etro, Supporter, Aid, Help, fire element
Hecatoncheir - Courage of Etro, Resilience, Persistence, earth element
Siren - Heart of Etro, Purity, Hope, Love, light/water element
Alright, who besides me wanted Serah to have an Eidolon? Lol. I thought it was only fair that since Serah played a key part in this story, that she also have an Eidolon as well. Originally, I was thinking of having a winged summon for the youngest pinkette, like Ultima for example. However, another fanfiction writer beat me to that idea. Not only that, in the end, I felt it would have been a bit overkill as well as cliché to use a summon like that. I wanted Serah to have an Eidolon who was a strong supporting character, yet at the same time graceful to match Serah's character. And that's when I remembered Siren making an appearance in the Eidolon parade back in Nautilus. She was perfect for what I was looking for, and her stats were exactly what I wanted in a supporting character.
The Tainted and the Shadowed Four.
For those of you curious about how I thought up the Shadowed Four, I based them off of Chinese mythology where there are four spiritual creatures - four celestial emblems – which guard a direction on the compass. Each creature has a corresponding season, color, element, virtue, among other traits.
Tortoise (Black Warrior) = North, Winter, Black, Water
White Tiger (Kirin) = West, Fall, White, Metal
Red Bird (Phoenix) = South, Summer, Red, Fire
Dragon = East, Spring, Blue/Green, Wood
Keeping the whole world of FFXIII in mind, I chose to base the Shadowed Four's actual forms on already existing Gran Pulse monsters. I tweaked them a bit to fit my purposes, as at times the Gran Pulse monsters were a bit limited. But here's how they turned out:
Red Bird = Yaksha (fire element) - weak against water [red skin][ground movement][one eye]
White Tiger = Megistotherian (metal/earth element) - weak against fire [white skin][ground movement][two eyes]
Dragon = Kalavinka Striker (lightning/wind element) [yellow skin][flying movement][three eyes]
Tortoise/Turtle = Adamantortoise (water element) - weak against lightning [blue skin][ground movement][four eyes]
The order in which they appeared in the story was based on the number of corrupted eyes they had. With Kokko starting things off, it got only one corrupted eye. With Proganochelys being the last of the Shadowed Four and most difficult, it got four red eyes.
How the Shadowed Four got their names, I referred to mythology again for that.
Kokko, which I based my search off of the 'phoenix,' got its name from the a mythical bird of iron and fire in Finnish folklore.
The name Kerberos was based off of Cerberus, which is the three headed dog often depicted in Greek and Roman mythology guarding the gates of The Underworld. While Kerberos' element was metal, I chose to go with the four main elements (fire, earth, air/wind, water) as the powers of the Shadowed Four, effectively turning metal into earth instead. Even then, I chose to keep its metal attribute for its armor rather than giving it up completely. As for why I chose to base it off of Cerberus, it was rather simple. Cerberus was underground guarding the gates of the underworld. And where Kerberos was found, it was similar. Underground yet guarding information of the past. Of note, there wasn't really a cat-like Gran Pulse monster which is why I used a dog-like monster instead. On a random note, the colouring of the Shadowed Fours were based on their elements (e.g. Water = Blue, Fire = Red, Earth = Brown/Black/Grey, Air/Wind/Lightning = Yellow).
The third of the Shadowed Four was Bakunawa, a dragon whose name was based off of a Philippine mythological creature often represented as a gigantic sea serpent. Quite frequently, sea dragons and sea serpents are often associated with each other, which is why I chose its name based on that. Being that it was a dragon, rather than keep its element of wood, I chose to substitute the element of air/wind instead. Most dragons are associated with flight, and I wanted to add that extra level of difficulty with this particular Shadowed Four, to show the ever increasing threat and danger they posed. Not to mention they were like bosses of sorts, and we all know that over time the bosses get harder. Lol. The reasoning behind Bakunawa using dark Thundagas and such, I just associated the air elements intertwined with thunder and lightning also.
The last of the Shadowed Four, the turtle with the element of water, got its name from a different source other than mythology. After searching extensively for a turtle-like creatures in any mythology, despite finding a few, none of the names seemed to fit what I was looking for. So instead, I started to looked up ancient species of turtles and chose their scientific label for the name. The name Proganochelys comes from Proganochelys quenstedti, the second oldest turtle species discovered to date. Known fossils have been found in Germany and Thailand from the late Triassic, dating to approximately 210 million years ago. I couldn't think of anything more fitting than that.
As for the Tainted's name, rather than use mythology to name it, I kept things simple. The Tainted. Because that's what it was. It wasn't just a tainted but rather the Tainted. That was eerie enough just like that. As mentioned earlier, the idea for it came about from the mention of corruption and darkness etc in the Fabula Nova Crystallis Mythology. Originally the Tainted was supposed to be something different than a corrupted Muin wanting vengeance for her banishment to the Unseen World. It wasn't until I reread the Fabula Nova Crystallis Mythology for the umpteenth time did I realize how perfectly that would have worked out.
Using Original Characters (OCs) and Non-Playable Characters (NPCs).
If there's anything you should know about me, I don't like Original Characters (OC) too much. In my opinion, OCs should not be taking up relationships with main characters, especially if it never happened in game. Some of you will disagree with me, which is perfectly fine. We all have our own opinions about things. Mine is that main characters should stay with main characters, and OCs can keep to themselves.
Despite my aversion to OCs, there were times in the story where I needed other characters outside of the main characters to deliver key information or to carry on the plot. When that happened, my first choice was to pull NPCs from the game to fill in those spots. That's why we have Amodar, Rydgea, Team Nora, Bartholomew, and Bhatki making appearances in the story. Not only were they in game and interacted with the characters in some way, I also felt they too could use some more screen time. So I added a bit of depth to them and threw them into the fray.
For Mathias Trenton, the Sanctum soldier who saved the former l'Cies in New Bresha before the confrontation with Kokko, he was a mix of both NPC and OC. If you all remember from the game, there was a Sanctum soldier the gang saved on their way to Eden from being stomped on by a Adamanchelid. I chose to make that NPC into Mathias, who turned into an OC as a result of that. He was very important in moving the story along and one of the few exceptions I made with regards to OCs.
At the same time, he died. Lol. Typically, any OCs I had, they often died after my use for them was over. I did have half a mind of pulling in other Final Fantasy characters from the other games into the story, as I had seen other people do for their fanfictions, but my problem was I never played any of the other games to know enough about the characters to properly capture the essence of their characters. So I stuck with either the FFXIII NPCs or I created expendable OCs.
When it came to naming the OCs, I referred to online baby naming websites to help me with that. For example, Corporal Kayson Jase, Amodar's medic which helped the group in chapter 38, was based on the idea of her being a healer. In that case, I sought out names with that meaning and it ended up with Kayson and Jase being both American meaning Healer.
When I first started writing this story, I had completely forgotten about Bhakti. Thankfully, while writing this piece, I still kept up with my fanfiction reading and came across a sparse few stories which had Bhakti as the main character. Those stories got me thinking about the little guy, and with Fang and Vanille returning to the group soon, I thought it only made sense for Bhakti to be around as well. Further to that, despite being a minor character, I felt he deserved some sort of personality, seeing as how we got glimpses of it in the game. I really didn't have anything specific in mind for him, but over time, he just kind of developed one on his own. I'm very pleased with how Bhakti turned out. :)
On one final note about our favorite robot, who here felt there should have been a mini Bhakti figure made and included in the Vanille action figure set? XD
New technology developed in Tainted Fal'Cie.
By the time the LCDs aka the l'Cie Drivers came into play and any other technology in the story came about, FFXIII-2 had already been confirmed and was in production. Because of that fact, I was hesitant about introducing any new technology into the story after the life of Cocoon as I wasn't sure what kind of technology the second game would have. After reading FFXIII Episode 1, my original intention was to have "Tainted Fal'Cie" bridge the gap between the game and Episode 1. But with confirmation of FFXIII-2 in the works, I changed that to be "Tainted Fal'Cie" bridging the gap between game 1 and game 2 instead. And again, wanting to keep as true to the game worlds as possible, I was reluctant to introduce any new devices into the story that probably wouldn't end up in the second game.
Sadly, as the story progressed, that just wouldn't work. Our heroes could not venture out and beat the Shadowed Four remaining as regular humans. It just wasn't possible. So I started to create technology which was based off of their l'Cie powers and later, technology which could possibly end up being the predecessors to the technology used in FFXIII-2. As this story would be completed (writing-wise) before the actual game came out, that's all I could do to get around that issue.
Pairings in the story.
It seemed there was some confusion over the pairings at the beginning of the story despite my many disclaimers about it. I wasn't sure if it was because people didn't read the Author's Notes in general or if it was just because of the most common pairings at the time the story was started was Light x Fang aka Flight. Regardless, I chose to stick to the pairings which came out of the game, that being Serah x Snow (very obvious) and Fang x Vanille (not so obvious). For you Flight fans, I eventually caved and wrote up "Some Things You Just Do". Hehe.
The relationship between Fang and Vanille was a bit ambiguous once the game finished. There was certainly the sisterly type of relationship there, but for some people including myself, I picked up on something more between them. Whether or not that is actually true or just our wild imaginations, maybe FFXIII-2 will reveal a bit of that to us. I don't know yet as I haven't finished playing the game yet. XD
When did "Tainted Fal'Cie" end time-wise in comparison to FFXIII-2?
While I don't have an exact date, I'm guessing it ended approximately a year to a year and a half before the events of FFXIII-2. "Finding Home" started roughly a year after Cocoons fall, with everything in "Tainted Fal'Cie" taking place in the months after that. So it fits roughly within that time line.
Will there be a sequel to "Tainted Fal'Cie" or a FFXIII-2 story?
At this moment in time, my answer to that will be no. There will be no sequel and currently I have no immediate plans for a FFXIII-2 based story either. That of course may change once I finally beat FFXIII-2, but for the moment it's not happening.
As much as I enjoyed writing in the FFXIII world, at times I did find it a bit constraining and limiting to keep everything in order and in line with the world and the characters. Coming towards the end of the story, I know a few of you noticed a shift in my writing. A good part was due to burnout on the story again. Never did I expect the story to carry on so long, and the longer it continued, the harder it became for me to keep things how you all knew they should be within its limitations. That was also a bit of why I decided to speed up the update schedule as well. To avoid burning out completely before the end, leaving you with an uncompleted story.
Many of the ideas I'm thinking of entertaining now are alternate realities with our favorite heroes and heroines in it. That way our favorite characters are still in it and my ideas and imagination aren't so restricted. For those of you curious of potential new stories I have in the works, feel free to check out my profile for more information.
General last minute things.
Once again I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who have read this story. Whether or not you've added it to your favorites, story alerts or even reviewed it, I am truly thankful for you taking the time to read it. It couldn't have been as successful without you, the readers.
For those of you who will leave unsigned reviews after this point, thank you. I wish I could reply back to those, but as I won't be updating this story anymore, that won't be possible. For everyone else who leaves signed reviews, expect to get a reply back from me via PM. ;)
As a bonus for those of you who have graciously taken the time to read all of these notes, below I have included one last mini chapter of "Tainted fal'Cie." This was not long enough to be a chapter of its own, nor did it fit in anywhere with the original story. Yet, I could not not include it as it ends the Epilogue in a way. And so, with one final ado to this story, I give you the final chapter of "Tainted fal'Cie."
"Hey! You're working again!"
"Maqui, what are you doing?" Yuj peered over the blonde's shoulder, his hands on his hips.
"He works!" Maqui exclaimed again. "Bhakti's working again!"
"Good job squirt." Lebreau ruffled Maqui's hair as she passed him by.
Just hours ago, the last of the Shadowed Four was defeated and the threat of the darkness was destroyed. While the former l'Cies had taken off towards Crystal Cocoon in search of their wayward leader, Team NORA remained behind to help in the clean up effort from the aftermath of the battle. Injured soldiers needed tending to. Houses needed to be rebuilt. People needed to be relocated. Despite the furious sounds of battles near their former, broken home, Team NORA remained in New Oerba until the former l'Cies would return, managing everything in their absence. Everything would work out in the end. The former l'Cies would make sure of it.
"How are you feeling buddy?"
Bhakti stared at the goggle-headed boy before taking a quick scan the area. He currently sat on a crude table of sorts, outside. The sun was just starting its descent in the horizon, the sky slowly shifting from orange to purple. People ran back and forth around him, some attending to the wounded, yet others scavenging what they could from ruined houses. Bartholomew was nearby, along with Gadot, the two men directing people on various duties.
"Can you tell me if everything is working?"
Bhakti's focus went back Maqui, Yuj having wandered off with Lebreau a few moments ago, to help with whatever he could. A green holographic screen materialized in the air above the small robot, Cocoon text scrolling across it.
All systems nominal.
"Yeah!" Maqui whooped, pumping a triumphant fist into the air. "I fixed Bhakti! Vanille will be so-"
People jumped, some running for cover, some crying out in surprise at the sudden noise. All eyes turned to Crystal Cocoon, the pillar of blue ringing like a bell. Two star-like shapes swirled around the structure, tailed by fallen chunks of blue crystal and fine white dust. Maqui gaped at the scene as the pillar started to reassemble itself like some sort of magical jigsaw puzzle. The two spiraling lights hovered next to Cocoon's shell until the last piece was in place before diving towards the section just under Cocoon's base. A split second later, a brilliant light blinded everyone, Crystal Cocoon chiming louder than before.
Then all was silent.
By the time Bhakti reset his sensors, people were crying and hugging each other in the streets.
"They did it!" Gadot's voice boomed somewhere in the background.
Crystal Cocoon was restored, looking the same as it first did when they all abandoned the satellite almost two years ago. There was not a single crack, or broken shard it sight. It was as if Kokko had never attacked it in the first place.
A muffled bleep.
A feather head rubbed against Bhakti's side. The small robot turned to the chocobo standing next to the table.
Another quiet beep.
Bhakti turned back to look at Crystal Cocoon. Fang and Vanille would not be returning with the others later tonight. How Bhakti knew that, not even Bartholomew would be able to explain that. The robot's sensors could only scan so far, and the two Oerbas were definitely out of range. Despite that fact, Bhakti knew.
Searching his memory banks, Bhakti rifled through his files for one specific recording. Though half of his recordings were corrupted, a result of his less than gentle way of shutting down prior, the file he sought was untouched. Bhakti played it internally, so that only he could see it.
The recording had been taken just hours after the entire former l'Cies family returned from their battle with Kokko. Despite their soon to be eviction from the settlement, there was still a moment of happiness. One of which Bhakti caught on datalog. In the recording, Fang and Vanille made breakfast for the others, on the morning they were to be evicted from the settlement. One by one, the former l'Cies piled into the Dia and Yun residence, gratefully gobbling up the eggs, toast and meat Fang had cooked for them under Vanille's ever watchful eye. There was a variety of fruit there too, Vanille having ventured out to get some in the early rays of morning. Somewhere in between eating and getting the sleep out of their eyes, a mini food fight broke out amongst the former l'Cies, involving fruit peelings and egg shells. By the end of it, everyone was laughing until they cried, their troubles momentarily forgotten.
Bhakti would wait.
When Fang and Vanille were branded over five hundred years ago, promising to return when their focus was completed, Bhakti, as the every dutiful robot, waited. Five hundred years later, Fang and Vanille did return like they promised, bringing with them the others who would shortly become part of his extended charges. Soon after, they were off again, promising to return once their new focus was done. And a year later, they did, only for fate to whisk them off yet again. At least that time, he got to come along and stayed with them for as long as he could. And now they were gone again.
The recording promptly ended, Bhakti once again filing it away for safe keeping. Turning back to look at Crystal Cocoon again, the small robot made a new datalog entry. For however long it was this time, he would wait for them. He would remain the ever loyal and diligent robot who watched over their stuff, keeping the place clean, for when they would next return. Not only that, he would remind the others when needed, of Fang and Vanille, of what they looked like, of what they sounded like, anytime they wanted. Bhakti knew it would eventually come to that. It always did with humans. He had watched them long enough to know that.
Yet despite their shortcomings, hot tempers and at times irrational thinking, Bhakti held no ill against them. Humans made him. They gave him life. And if it meant that for the entirety of his robot life he would have to do this, over and over again, he would. Bhakti would wait. He would wait for the day when all of them finally returned home, with smiles on their faces, laughing their hearts out in happiness. Because that was all he could do for them.
And so, Bhakti would wait.