And so, the Snowman left without a word, Vanille and Hope continued on their quest to create an abomination of nature.

"In short, the fal'Cie Gilgamesh creates a small space where we battle. There isn't any obstacles or anything so it all comes down to whoever is the better fighter. He even grades them and leaves behind special aerosols for those who do win but fight really badly." Vanille explained to a Hope who was confused about the battle moments ago.

He was extra thankful that the fal'Cie also healed his wounds, as he had been bitten, slashed, and disemboweled more times than he could count and the scars would be ugly. Unless it was a perfect cut across his face or a small X on his cheek, that would make him edgy and dangerous. Not dying was a plus too.

"So this happens all the time? On Pulse and Cocoon?" he asked. Having never been in a fight before, Hope was suprised that it was so formal. It was like something out of Finest Fantasy X, the game based off of Yuna and her Guardians' quest to defeat Sin and save Spira, where they would take turns attacking. Even the heroes themselves said that it was highly accurate to the real thing.

"Yep, except when it doesn't or someone's going to die." she replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

"When it doesn't?"

"Umhmm. Sometimes Gilgamesh doesn't do anything, like when someone gets into a fight or when its their time to die. He doesn't get involved in things like that. In fact, no one ever dies in a fal'Cie battle!" She crossed her arms. "They just respawn somewhere else."

Sure enough, in the distance a pack of Gorgonopsi were being pursued by a Behemoth.

Hope had an aerosol marked "Aegisol" and a chipped fang in his pocket that he pulled from a Gorgonopsid. He figured he could sell it on the Internet. Or he could tape it to his boomerang and make it stronger or something. It made him wonder if there was a Gorgonopsid out there missing a tooth.

They continued on their merry way and it was particularly quiet, except for the crunching of grass and a mellow instrumental in the background.

"I hear, that if you collect a bunch of stuff from Pulse and Cocoon, like your tooth, you get a gold trophy! Its quite an acheivement, don't you think?" Vanille attempted to make conversation.

"Who would be stupid enough to collect random things from Cocoon and Pulse for a trophy? It would take forever."

Hope looked over his shoulder at Cocoon. The massive gap in the outer shell drew his attention. He'd never seen it from outside before. It was like some celestial being took a bite out of it. He'd heard of what happened to Midgar during the Jenova War, the ruiniation of the World of Balance, Sin's attacks on Spira, but knowing that something like that happened on his own world sent a chill up his spine.

For some reason, he had a feeling that he would have to save Pulse from falling, and that he would only have a few days to do so.

Trying to shake the thought from his mind, he decided to ask Vanille what the Pulsian view of the War of Transgression was. He knew Cocoon's view on the subject was, but he figured knowing Pulse's side would ease his mind.

"Well the people of Cocoon say it was an unprovoked attack that started it all, but what really happened was the Palumporom Sparklers beat the Haerii Dashers in a Blitzball match before the finals in Besaid against the Goers. The fans were a little drunk and crazy and before you know it, a quarter of Cocoon's been blasted to Anima knows where. Cocoon still makes a big deal of it, but down here we just point to Cocoon and remind them that the Goers won the game."

As Hope took another look at Cocoon, he realized that he had been going south all this time when he was supposed to be headed north. This would mean about two minutes of backtracking!

Suddenly, there was fog from nowhere! Thick, white, sheets of fog! There was so much fog all they could see was more fog! There was truly no other way to describe this fog other than there was a lot of it, like if the fog fal'Cie, Fogga, sprung a leak or something.

"Vanille? Where did this fog come from?" Hope asked, as fog appearing from the void was beyond the grasp of his knowledge.

She stopped and put her hands on her hips, as if dissatisfied. "Oh that pesky ol' fog! Its always here. Never goes away. The sun doesn't set here either."

"Really!" The concept of a never ending day was as alien to Hope as it would be to anyone who experienced day/night cycles.

"Yep. The closest thing to night here is an eclipse from the fal'Cie Fenir. And that only happens about every thousand years. It'll be a couple more years before there's night here, according to the prophecy. Some researchers are building weather controling machines on the other side of the steppe."

"How's that going?"

"The fal'Cie Typhon keeps sneezing and blowing them away, the different weather attracts dangerous creatures, and its really not a very good system."

There was the sound of bubbling coming from around them. As bubbling is not a natural sound on grasslands, or at least not any that Hope was familliar with, it was his instinct to take the fastest path away from whatever was hidden in the fog.

Tripping over what must have been a cruel joke from the rock fal'Cie, Hope looked up from his grassy loft to see a yellow blob slithering by, bubbling all the while. More blobs, several of them merging to be come larger slimes. As he pulled himself up the amorphous forms had completely surrounded the two of them.

"Don't worry Hope, they won't attack unless we're too close!" Came the nearby voice of Vanille

In another twist of fate, likely from the fal'Cie Trollestia, little triangles with "!" in them appeared over each and every last one of the yellow creatures.

"Nevermind." she squeaked.


New trophies:

Instrument of Fate: Took the first steps toward challenging an unjust fate. Awarded for accepting the Farron Challenge.

Instrument of Dissent: Survived the Purge to confront a greater peril. Awarded for completing the first of Lightning's challenges.