This is part one to the Capax Infiniti story. I wrote it after I beat FFXIII in 2011 which was obviously prior to the release of XIII-2 and LR mostly by speculating the significance about certain subplots. To my surprise, many of my speculations came to be canon, which meant that I did not have to make many major alterations in order to produce something close-enough to canon in order to make a good story. Having said that, I laid out the plot to Part 2 and I am in the beginning stages of writing it.
Since that fateful day three months ago with Orphan and Barthandelus, the survivors had begun reconstructing Oerba but rescue missions for anyone left on Cocoon was their main priority. Lightning had assumed command of what was left of the military and there were more dead than injured; it was becoming apparent that lifeless corpses were all that remained on the sphere they once called home, saving as many as possible to ensure humanity stood a chance at survival on the untamed Pulsian world. Fang had given them that, and Lightning would oversee it personally so that her sacrifice wasn't in vain.
Life would be difficult without the guiding hand of the Sanctum, and the challenges they faced seemed insurmountable but this time around the people have someone can put their faith in...
Hope had just told me of his hate for Snow and what happened to his mother; certainly, I can relate in regard to hatred of Snow. I blamed him for everything that had happened with Serah, just as Hope blames him for his mother's death. I was livid and just wanted my sister back.
When we finally reached the top and were getting off of the elevator, we found ourselves in Palumpolum. Everything was silent; the only sound besides our quickened breathing was the crisp, digital voice of the News announcer declaring the location of the infamous Pulse l'Cie: us.
PSICOM soldiers were surrounding Hope and me. I was ready to accept my fate –then there was an explosion; sparks of light blinded me, ice crystals flashed in the air, completely coating the ground. Ice was everywhere, and I knew it was the Nix Eidolon, 'Oh great, Snow, well at least he distracted the PSICOM.'
"Let's go, Hope." I looked up and saw a woman on the back of his Eidolon with machine guns blazing. 'Looks like Snow made a friend'
We ran down behind the soldiers and flanked them, providing support in taking out the PSICOM, then—'What the hell?'—Snow flew right over our heads on the Nix.
When he landed and the pair got off of the Eidolon, I was almost speechless at what I saw. The woman riding with him was gorgeous, 'why in the world is a beautiful woman like that riding around with someone like Snow'. Even in her presence I still couldn't stand the sight of him; I figured now would be a good opportunity for Hope to get release of some of that revenge he was telling me about only a few minutes ago. "Take care of him," I said and turned around, but was stopped short when I heard Snow's idiotic declarations of faith: "She's all right. She will turn back."
My patience with Snow was far too thin to hear anything he had to say, so I headed off; to my surprise though, that beautiful mystery who had just arrived followed me. I prefer to work alone, don't even know if she can fight-well, okay, at least she was good-looking so I guess it doesn't really matter if she can fight or not. I'm more than proficient enough to take care of a few PSICOM, so as long as she doesn't get in my way she can do whatever she wants.
We headed through town avoiding any soldiers until we came to an alley, where she pulled out a Calvary communication device and tried to contact Snow. At no surprise to me he didn't answer, but she kept retrying him anyway.
"So, you and Snow know each other?" I puffed.
She replied, "You could say that," gripping the device and becoming obviously frustrated "Why won't he answer? That idiot better not have gotten picked up by PSICOM!"
That's something we can both agree on: Snow is an idiot. Her seductive body and exotic way of speaking tempted me ever-so-slightly. Still, all I could think about was saving my sister and I sneered, knowing it was useless trying to get a hold of him –Snow was useless.
After several attempts she finally reached him. I couldn't help but grin when I heard her shouting into the mouthpiece; after scolding him, she passed the communicator to me "Hey, Sis!" his voice sent shivers down my spine. Without giving him an opportunity to continue, I instructed him to rendezvous at Hope's house. He kept speaking, even after I indicated the conversation was over, babbling about a way to change Serah back—consequently I disconnected.
As we fought through the streets of Palumpolum, the vixen who tagged along with me proved to be more than just eye-candy; she was skilled with her weapon, almost surgical precision, and combatives that were on par with my own. 'Who is this woman?' The question began to perplex me.
We came to another alley, and paused for a moment; then, I noticed something I hadn't before—a l'Cie brand—except different, it appeared icy almost like a strange scar.
"Who are you?" I demanded.
The question seemed to make her uneasy "Name's Fang. Sure, I've got a few screws loose, but I'm a l'Cie, just like you. Only difference is I was born on Gran Pulse." She explained.
My stomach tightened and my face grew hot. 'A Pulsian…Here, on Cocoon?' She went on, but I didn't hear any of it.
What is a Pulsian doing here? Whatever, it doesn't matter; at least we are on the same Sanctum-killing team—for now.
The PSICOM airships swarmed in overhead—we needed to get to Hope's house, quick.
"Lightning... Light…," she felt the roughness of a warm hand upon her shoulder, "wake up Light." She opened her eyes; the room was bright and the air smelled of Behemoth urine—it was Snow, "Hey, Sis," his voice resounded in her ears.
"What?" Lighting said, opening her eyes, slowly observing her surroundings and securing her hand upon her gunblade for reassurance of its presence.
"It's all right; you still have plenty of time." He said, reaching down to assist Lightning up off the floor. "I figured you must have taken a nap."
Brushing his hand away she sat there for a few moments, hands cradling her forehead. Sleep was an unkind stranger to her since Day 0 when it all started in Bodhum, only when she was too tired to hold her eyes open did the dreams and memories from the past take over. They were so real it burned all of her senses as though she were really there.
It was exactly like the first time she met Fang—just as she remembered it, and in her mind she could still smell her sweet scent under the gunpowder-filled-air. 'No time for nostalgia' she thought, pushing herself off the ground.
Her long figure reached upward with arms overhead, and stretching her neck she looked out the window from warehouse loft.
Below she saw hundreds of people gathered, "Is everyone assembled?" she asked, assuming her serious posture thru the grogginess from her nap.
Most of the survivors respected and admired Lightning despite the once held fear of l'Cie from the propaganda spread by Dysley and the Sanctum. The people of Cocoon looked to her for answers in the aftermath of the fall of Orphan. Lightning's infamous face and power witnessed by all thanks to the televised l'Cie chase was where they looked for guidance, direction, but most importantly answers, and it was her heroic acts of bravery and leadership in the events immediately after the fall of Cocoon that won their loyalty.
That is why the other leaders decided it should be her to deliver the speech about the truth of what happened on Cocoon. The truth and facts surrounding Dysley's lies to the people of Cocoon became apparent to most citizens in the series of events surrounding Eden, but it was too late and they had nowhere to go with martial law enforced upon all.
People being skeptical by nature, not everyone was accepting of this new hero. Many had their own ideas of what really happened but mostly that l'Cie infiltrated Eden and accomplished their mission by destroying Cocoon, despite the fact it sits upon the great Ragnarok pillar. Some pray for the fal'Cie to come and save them from this land of hell, destroying all and starting anew—as Barthandelus wished.
It would be difficult for them to accept the truth and many will refuse it, but they must know.
Footsteps from the creaking staircase preceeded the emergence of Serah, and a smile took over her face upon seeing her older sister, "are you nervous, Light?"
Lightning sighed, "I'm ready," while adjusting her belt.
Serah gave Lightning a hug around the neck, "they deserve the truth, and they look up to you…we all do. You can do this." She said, pulling back and wiping a tuft of hair from Lightning's face.
Lightning knew it must be done and gave a half smile at her sister—Serah always had a way of making her feel confident that she was doing the right thing.
"Let's get this over with." she said, walking toward the exit and pushing Snow aside with her shoulder.
Outside the warehouse, she walked toward the stage at the lakefront in Oerba, the platform was positioned high enough that she could see all of the people gathered.
All of her command subordinates were waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs along side her friends and the former l'Cie. When she gave them the nod to go ahead and proceed, the assembly applauded them like they were super stars.
Snow walked to the podium while the others took their seats, and he introduced Commander Farron. Lightning walked gallantly and proud onto the platform, pausing momentarily she looked at all of the citizens, bowed and stepped behind the podium; she took a deep breath, closed her eyes and remembered the climatically fateful events that brought them here.
"This is truly a time that will be forever written in the history books, as all of us born on Cocoon are now living on the place we were taught to hate our whole lives. Gran Pulse. This is our home now, and most importantly we have been given a new life, with new challenges and perilous as it seems, we will survive and future generations will never forget our strength." The crowd cheers and she continues, "We've all lost, and suffered and felt unimaginable sorrow these last few months, but we will move on. Oerba and Gran Pulse are ours now let's make our mark on the land and prove to the Gods that we don't need the fal'Cie to survive!" The audience roared.
"It is time for all of you to know the truth; what really happened on Cocoon three months ago." She paused for a moment. "When the Pulse fal'Cie Anima came to Bodhum and created the l'Cie panic—" the crowd starts to boo "— . six people were marked. We all stand before you now." The crowd gasps. "We felt exactly the same as you about l'Cie and Gran Pulse. We would never harm our home, or hurt our people. But there was no escaping our fate, we would either die at the hand of the Sanctum, or worse, turn into Cie'th for all eternity."
She continued, "it wasn't until later that we discovered the purpose behind the vestige in Bodhum."
"Voice of the Sanctum, Galenth Dysley—as you known him—or his true name: Barthandelus, had implemented himself into the Cocoon government."
The crowd had grown silent.
"Barthandelus, Lord-Sanctum to Cocoon fal'Cie, was given unrestricted power over Cocoon due to his position with the Sanctum. He brought the Gran Pulse fal'Cie Anima to Cocoon in a vestige for the purpose of creating Pulse l'Cie." Lightning drew a deep breath, "and it worked. Seven people were drawn to Anima and given brands with a focus to destroy Cocoon." The audience mumbles incoherently.
"The vestige also brought with it the last two Gran Pulsians, which had been crystallized for five-hundred years." Lightning paused. "Together, we decided to put an end to Barthandelus' reign, where he meant to sacrifice the rest of humanity in order to restore the Maker. All of the chosen l'Cie vowed to end it or die trying, and would have periled if not for the infamous Ragnarok, which created the crystal pillar where Cocoon rests. We have destroyed the fal'Cie who desired each and every single person dead in order to return the Maker. We don't need to return the Maker, this is our world and we have freedom that the fal'Cie will never know. Yes, there were many lives lost, but we are still here, alive, and have triumphed against the fal'Cie!"
"We will build a world better than the last, greater than imaginable. Without the Sanctum or Barthandelus, we are free to do whatever we choose without the fear of what is waiting for the right moment to take away everything that we love." She looked around her and all the way towards the people in the back she took a deep breath, "Follow me and put all of your hope into an unforeseen future. Take hold of this new life that you've been given and we will overcome everything that's happened. Let the towering sphere we once called home be the reminder that we are the makers of our own fate, and that can never be taken away. We are the gods now, not the fal'Cie."
The rumbling ground underneath her feet and echoes of cheers caused Lightning to feel her chest tighten. She returned the microphone to its stand, she bowed then walked off the stage—thoughts of how she could have said something different flooded her mind, but she quickly dismissed them as it was now over and it would be up to the people to fill in the blanks.
After taking a few sips of water, she heard Snow's voice over the speakers. Deciding it's probably best to listen since he is talking to everyone left in the world and if he screws up someone will need to do damage control.
Lightning felt like this would be a good opportunity to walk around the area and make sure that everything was okay. No sooner than turning the corner, a familiar face appeared. "Not bad…for a hot-headed soldier."
Lightning cracked a smile, "Thanks, Lebreau," and she gazed up at the lifeless orb she had once called home.
"We're all behind you, don't forget that." Lebreau said, hesitating a moment, "Still haven't given up searching for them have you?"
"No" she replied stoically.
Lightning hadn't given up hope on finding Fang and Vanille, she seen them fall into the infernal darkness at Orphan's Cradle but for some reason she couldn't accept that they were gone forever.
The two Oerban saviors of humanity weren't there when she awoke on the Archylte Steppe, yet everyone else was. For that reason, she knew they were somewhere in this realm of unknown, she didn't know how or why nor did she care how crazy it made her seem; Lightning was going to find them—more importantly, Fang.
"Well, duty calls. See you around, Light" Lebreau said in response to the resonance of her communication device, she swiftly threw her leg over her velocycle, the engine revved and departed.
The people lucky enough to still have their lives were in a state of perpetual shock and seeking anything that resembled civilization, comfort, home. A number of the survivors were succumbing to despair, suffering, and distrust of the new government only added to it and some would eventually disband in small groups out away from the Oerba settlement and into the unknown.
Efforts made by Lightning to keep a system of command-and-regulation in place came natural to her since due to the structure of military and it was intrinsic to her personality at this point in her life.
It was getting late and after the assembly she still had to assume responsibilities of Command, Logistics and Oerba. She realized that there just wasn't enough daylight left for her to attempt her daily Cocoon search so she headed to the Oerban military headquarters where her office was located.
Lightning took a seat behind her familiar worn wooden desk when a young soldier delivered the final Cocoon Report for the day, with a salute he handed her the folder of documents and exited as quickly as he entered.
The reports were usually just a summary of items recovered, survivors located, and incidents with monsters. 'Hm, another child was recovered from Eden. I knew they would suffer the most casualties... I wonder what will become of all these orphaned children—she was an orphan.' Lightning sighed "I have to find you."
Efforts to keep a casualty count were difficult. It was impossible to be accurate as the creatures from Pulse are scavengers which devoured the bodies before they could be accounted for and the few remaining survivors were facing their terrifying demise through natural selection instead of deranged tyrannical fal'Cie.
When she finished reviewing reports the sky had grown completely dark and it was well past the Oerban curfew yet people were still meandering about. Lightning leaned back in the uncomfortable commander's chair, kicking her feet upon her desk, rest was a distant memory to Lightning—she hadn't had a restful moment that her memory could recall. Looking through the window she could see the faint outline of Cocoon resting in the sky, 'tomorrow' she thought, feeling regret for having not searched for her lost companion today.
After securing her gunblade and adjusting her uniform she exited the building, saluting the guard at the gate she walked beside the road back to Oerba.
Thoughts flooded her mind 'What am I doing? Does any of this even matter? I don't know why but I keep searching—it seems like the moment I think I'm close, I realize you couldn't be farther away.' Beasts tripped detonation sensors placed around the perimeter of the settlements, 'I need to assign a research team to look into domesticating the beasts,' she considered at the rumble of a distant blast.
Upon arriving in Oerba she recalled speaking with Lebreau and decided to go see her. The pub was dimly lit and hidden between a factory and an apartment building. When she walked in there were so many steamy bodies polluted with alcohol that her presence did not draw attention and she sighed realizing that there was only standing room for Lightning. She walked toward the bar located in the center of the decrepit building and Lebreau smiled when she caught a glimpse of Lightning walking through. "Hey Light, I'm glad to see you here! What would you like to drink?" she shouted over the roar of intoxicated conversation.
"Whiskey, thanks" she said, leaning on the rusted metallic bar.
Lebreau reached behind her and grabbed a rather large bottle of the amber colored liquid, and she poured a half-glass for Lightning." So, you really got the people motivated with what you told them at the assembly. It's all I have heard about tonight."
Lightning looked up, "is that so?"
Lebreau continued, "It's going to take some sinking in, but they needed to know the truth about the Sanctum, and they trust you. Look around, nobody was prepared for what happened, but we survived—thanks to you."
She reached out and placed her hand on Lightning's arm, "They look up to you—we all do."
Lightning jerked back, "if you say so."
She didn't really know what to say, Lightning wasn't looking for praise nor did she want the people to look up to her the way they did—she reacted with what came natural to her, just doing her job. Assuming responsibility of situations came as a second nature to her, and it needed to be done. Someone had to step forward amidst the confusion and disorientation to ensure the sacrifice made to save Cocoon wasn't all in vain.
Lebreau turned back to tend her customers and Lightning rested her shoulder on a beam with her back to the obnoxious crowd.
"Hey! I wasn't expecting to see you here," said a familiar voice.
Lightning turned to confront this intrusion, "Hope—aren't you a little young to be drinking?" Lightning asked mockingly.
His facial expression changed, "yeah, well I helped save the world and I survived an apocalypse! I'd like to see someone tell me they have a problem with it." He said while opening his pocket knife.
Lightning was not threatened by his intimidating stance but was prepared to get serious until started laughing, "Heh, you know I'm only joking, Light! There isn't a drinking age here—besides, I'm sixteen years old and my Dad used to let me drink with dinner."
'He's right after all, we did survive the fall of Cocoon…our world, our apocalypse'. Lightning did not care one way or the other honestly—Hope could take care of himself.
"How were your missions today?" She asked, in attempt to make small talk.
He poured the last of his cocktail down his throat, and sat down beside her. "Recovered three, and almost breached the Carbuncle chamber. As soon as we are in, we can begin to retrieve the stockpiles of food, but I am sure you already read that in my report"
Lightning didn't care for his sarcasm much; she shot him a glare letting him know he'd better watch his next words. "Do you have an estimate on when the facility will be open?" She asked.
He looked down to his glass emptied of its contents "Probably tomorrow, day after at the latest—hey, Lebreau, can I get another drink?" he said, rudely banging his glass on the bar.
Lightning was glad that for the most part they had been able to retrieve so many of the most useful items from Cocoon, but she was concerned about breaching the fal'Cie chamber, because the fal'Cie are still very much alive and functional on Gran Pulse 'may need extra security when they breech, there's high probability that some fal'Cie will be alive on Cocoon'. If they were to come across any other fal'Cie with intentions like that of Barthandelus, it could most certainly spell the end of humanity.
While the fal'Cie couldn't hurt people directly, there's nothing to prevent them from creating more l'Cie. She dismissed the thoughts, knowing she would find her answer soon enough.
Hope and the other drunken fools were beginning to irritate her and she needed to get out of this place before she lost her temper.
Startled slightly, she felt the glass taken from her hand, "I noticed yours was empty too," Lebreau beamed, half-full bottle in hand.
"Thanks." Lightning poured the warm drink down her throat, enjoying the stinging sensation as it burned her throat and then her stomach.
Lightning began walking toward the door to leave and Lebreau noticed and reached out for Lightning's shoulder, "Light, if you find the time, would you come to see me tomorrow, there's something I've been meaning to discuss with you—in private—maybe you can help me out?"
Lightning's brow furrowed, she didn't like taking time away from her obligations, but Lebreau had always been helpful, so she nodded her head and proceeded through the door.
"See ya tomorrow, Light!" Hope managed to shout to her just before the door closed.
Walking the empty streets, Lightning noticed the alcohol had already moved into her blood stream and taken a slight effect. She felt the dampness of the air creating a layer of moisture atop her skin—moisture mixed with sweat and dirt 'a shower would be nice', she decided.
Lightning walked over to the communal shower house, a danky building located adjacent to the Oerba Lake, from which their water supply came from.
Standing in front of a bench beside her locker she began to undress when she heard thud from around a corner. In an instant she placed her hand upon her gunblade, she prepared to take the head off of any beast would be so unfortunate to have crept in on her in her naked vulnerability.
Another loud thud followed by "Ow! Dammit!" a voice echoed through the ceramic walls.
'At least it's human,' Lightning confirmed and continued to get undressed, keeping her gunblade within arm's reach. As she was pulling her undershirt overhead she saw the source of the swearing walk in front of her with a limp.
"Did I ever mention how surprised I am to see you living and breathing, Nabaat?" Lightning snarled.
Jihl chuckled "I'm sure you aren't entirely surprised." She stopped at a bench across from Lightning and proceeded to disrobe as well. "You do understand that we were all fooled by Dysley, don't you?"
Completely naked, Lightning stepped in front of Jihl's face, close enough that a trickle from her breath landed on Jihl's lips, "Frankly, I don't care, Jihl. I saw him kill you…yet, here you are miraculously alive—even after millions of others died. If anyone deserved to die, it's you." She pulled away leaving Jihl speechless and continued toward the showers.
Lightning turned the handle engaging the shower, 'so much for relaxing.' The icy-cold-water cascaded down her body but she found solace in the steady sting of it. Lightning stood there with her hands placed upon the wall, eyes closed and she let the sound of the rhythm of the water retain her complete attention in effort to distract from her unwelcome shower guest.
"Maybe one day I'll tell you about what really happened." Jihl said as she walked passed Lightning and into the next stall. Lightning's rage was building due to Jihl's proximity. She rubbed the grime from her body with haste, and feeling Jihl's eyes bearing on her she took a deep breath, gritted teeth and exited the showers to redress.