Before destiny was decided...
In the futuristic society of Cocoon, all the needs of the people are taken care of by the godlike fal'Cie. The only threat to their comfortable lives is the world of Pulse below, ruled by its own fal'Cie with their own intentions. And should trouble ever arise, the fal'Cie sometimes choose humans to do their bidding-and life will never be the same for these people marked by fate.
Before the unlikely heroes of FINAL FANTASY XIII banded together, each had their own story to tell. This series of short stories chronicles the last few days before their encounter with a fal'Cie, providing a deeper look at the characters of the hit game!Official description
Final Fantasy XIII: Episode Zero: Promise is a series of web novellas depicting the thirteen days leading up to the events of Final Fantasy XIII. New chapters involving Snow, Fang, and Vanille were released in a published light novel in Japan on December 24, 2009.
The book was published in English by Yen Press on April 30, 2019. The book was also published in German (as Episode Null - Versprechen) by Panini on February 15, 2011, and in French by Lumen on August 28, 2014.
The first part of the series, titled "Encounter", is told from Serah and Lightning's point of view. It is about Lightning's first meeting with Snow, her relationship with Serah, and trying to plan a vacation for her birthday. It's also about Serah becoming a l'Cie and her relationship with Snow and Lightning.
Part three, titled "Treasure -Family-", is about Sazh and his son Dajh as the boy becomes a l'Cie, Dajh being placed in PSICOM's custody as they try to determine his Focus, and Sazh trying to save Dajh from his fate.
Part four, titled "Search", is about Fang and Vanille after their separation in Euride, told from Fang's perspective. It is about Fang worrying about Vanille, meeting Cid Raines and Rygdea, and joining them to find Vanille.
Part five, titled "Friends", is about Hope and his mother Nora on vacation in Bodhum preparing for the upcoming fireworks display, taking a trip to Euride, and Hope's relationship with his friends and family.
Part six, titled "Present -Gift-", is about Snow and Serah looking for Lightning's birthday present, and Snow sneaking away to buy engagement necklaces.
The seventh and final part, titled "Tomorrow -Future-", is about Vanille and Fang becoming l'Cie on Gran Pulse during the War of Transgression, what happens to Vanille after the events at Euride Gorge, and on the two days leading to the Purge.
Weren't we chosen as l'Cie to fight Cocoon?Fang to Vanille
Vanille and Fang awaken from crystal stasis, but Fang has no memory of their Focus. Not wanting more people to get hurt, Vanille pretends that she also lost her memory. Although Fang's l'Cie brand is scorched and unchanging, Vanille's brand is still active. When they go outside, it's nighttime with buildings lit all around them. When they look at the sky, they see the lights of a distant city instead of stars and realize they are in Cocoon, the home of their sworn enemies.
Fang and Vanille return to the temple in disbelief. The Oblatorium is the chamber they awoke in, where people left customary food offerings for the l'Cie enshrined in there along with their weapons and equipment. The food is long spoiled, and the festival garments and Fang's spear show signs of decay. Fang theorizes that she and Vanille might have slept as crystals for centuries and says they should find food outside.
Fang and Vanille go to the ocean at dawn, and Fang spears a large fish, attracting the attention of a passing elderly couple who admire their fishing skills. Questioning the couple's friendliness and whether they'd return with others, Vanille and Fang return to the temple on high alert. They are confused about why the people they pass by are so unwary. Fang kills a white bird, and they steal vegetables from a nearby field. Outside the temple, Vanille and Fang use a priest's ceremonial garb and staff to start a fire and cook the fish and the bird, but the food is tasteless. They put out the fire and return to the temple. Fang proposes they go into the city the next day to find answers and a way to help restore her memory by exploring the enemy territory. Vanille reluctantly agrees.
The next day, Fang and Vanille head into Bodhum, now more at ease with being surrounded by people. They blend into a crowd and find a shopping district. Vanille starts thinking that despite Cocoon stealing many resources from Gran Pulse in the past, and its people, houses, and food being very different from those on Pulse, the people from both worlds are alike on the inside. Two young men invite the pair to have lunch with them, so Fang and Vanille cautiously join them at a restaurant. The men are from Eden, where they attend university.
As they eat and chat, Fang and Vanille baffle the men with their lack of basic knowledge of Cocoon life and their foreign habits but manage to get by. When Fang brings up the temple, the men call it the "Pulse Vestige" and say that the fal'Cie brought it up from Pulse over six centuries ago. Fang and Vanille ask if the Vestige getting taken caused trouble for the Pulsians. The men laugh, calling the Pulsians useless barbarians no better than animals who should be grateful Cocoon is putting their resources to good use. Fang asks the men to step outside with her and knocks them out.
Fang and Vanille search the men's pockets and find their ID cards. As they try to figure out how they work, a large human-like white bird startles them and promptly takes off. Fang and Vanille overwrite the original owners' information and get the ID cards to work. They run at the sound of approaching voices, with Vanille concluding the young men were enemies after all.
Back at the Vestige, Fang and Vanille find signs that someone is inside; at the deepest part of the temple, they find Serah Farron unconscious on the floor of the fal'Cie Anima's throne. While Fang debates whether to kill her, Vanille finds a Pulse l'Cie brand on Serah's arm. They take her outside, and Fang says that Anima chose the girl as their replacement since they don't remember their Focus. Vanille believes Anima saw through her lies and blames herself for Serah's misfortune.
When Serah starts waking up, Vanille and Fang retreat to the shadows. When Serah spots the mark on her arm, she falls apart, and the l'Cie brand evolves, affected by her fear. When Serah walks off crying, Fang says they can only complete their Focus in time and return to Gran Pulse, but Vanille thinks they should forget their Focus. Fang isn't willing to let Vanille turn into a Cie'th because they had promised always to be together.
The following morning, Fang and Vanille explore another part of town where vendors sell beverages and produce in colorful stalls, but they can't stop thinking about Serah. They notice more things Cocoon and Pulse people have in common, and everything is so peaceful there's no reason to fight anyone. Fang starts contemplating their Focus again when they overhear a passing group of older women talking about a fal'Cie tour in a place called Euride that visitors can reach by train. Fang thinks seeing a Cocoon fal'Cie will bring back their memory, so they get a map, ask for directions to Bodhum Station, and find the right platform.
Vanille and Fang board the train for Euride the following day and sit behind Sazh and Dajh. They take in the sights of airbikes flying by the railroad, Bodhum's floating islands, and the distant floating city of Eden. Vanille wishes Cocoon and Gran Pulse didn't have such animosity towards one another so people could travel between the two worlds freely. She curses her weakness for feeling lost and not wanting to fight, fearing her past choices, and believes whatever she does here on out will only lead to sorrow for everyone, mostly Fang. The train arrives at Euride, and Vanille and Fang approach the energy plant where the fal'Cie Kujata lies.
What did you find? Can you heal him of this... l'Cie thing?Sazh to Nabaat, about Dajh
As part of their tour package, Sazh brings Dajh to Euride Gorge to see Kujata. At a pet shop, Dajh wants "the yellow one"; a panicked Sazh thinks his son wants the big yellow Ectopudding, but to his relief, Dajh wants the yellow chocobo chick. Dajh promises to wait outside the shop, and Sazh tells him to stay put, knowing Dajh is planning to play hide-and-seek.
At the store, the baby chocobo makes a bee-line for Sazh when the shopkeeper opens the cage. After paying for it, Sazh leaves with the chick riding on his head but can't find Dajh. Thinking Dajh is playing, Sazh pretends to look around and give up, but Dajh still doesn't respond. Sazh runs to the energy plant's entrance, and the ground trembles. An emergency siren sounds off, and tourists rush toward the doorway.
Sazh tries to push through the crowd, and a white mist begins to fill the area. When Sazh reaches Kujata, he hears the sound of air escaping and spots Dajh laid out along a resting bench with a strange mark on his right hand. Sazh thinks it's either a sticker or kids' body paint and begins to carry Dajh out. Soldiers on the security force intercept him and place Dajh on a stretcher to bring him to the first-aid room.
Tourists either injured or made unwell in the commotion crowd around the first-aid room. Now laid on a bed, Dajh wakes up, and several PSICOM soldiers march in and declare a state of emergency, with the plant and area surrounding Euride now under their supervision. A young woman with glasses leading the soldiers declares the place off-limits, but they set up a tent in the plaza as a waiting area for anyone who has already seen a doctor while everyone still waiting for one goes to the first-aid tent. She orders soldiers to separate everyone into groups and have them form a line leading outside.
Sazh and Dajh join the line for the first-aid tent. The woman asks if Dajh collapsed in front of the fal'Cie and introduces herself as Jihl Nabaat. She urges Sazh to come with her. As she is someone of high position in PSICOM, all Sazh can do is comply. PSICOM pretends Sazh and Dajh are emergency patients and loads them onto an airship. Nabaat keeps saying it was a "lucky accident" that PSICOM was at Euride. Nabaat flies Sazh and Dajh to Eden's military medical facility and has them placed in separate rooms. The following day, Sazh remains unaware of what's going on but learns some of Nabaat's history. He figures that what happened at Euride wasn't a mere accident for someone like her to be involved.
Sazh uses a terminal to access the library and find information about the "mark of the l'Cie" Nabaat had mentioned. With the chocobo chick's help, he finds an image of old text with symbols and writing carved into a rock. Recognizing it as the mark on Dajh's hand, Sazh reads the accompanying text and pales.
Two days later, Sazh meets with Nabaat in a medical observation room and watches Dajh play with a puzzle through a monitor. Nabaat apologizes for keeping Sazh waiting for three days and explains Kujata chose Dajh as a l'Cie. Sazh accuses her of joking and says l'Cie are but a fable. She tells him they were also surprised since no one has become a l'Cie since the War of Transgression. She claims that a Pulse invasion is underway and explains that what happened at Euride wasn't an accident but the work of Pulsian enemies. Only minor damage resulted from it, thanks to Kujata choosing Dajh. Sazh asks what a six-year-old child can do against Pulsian forces. Nabaat says the enemies escaped and are still at large, and there can be another attack, so she asks Sazh to cooperate. She says Dajh is the key to saving Cocoon and will have the Sanctum back him; all they want Sazh to do is watch over his son. PSICOM investigates what Dajh's Focus might be and what sort of powers Kujata gave him.
In the evening the next day, Sazh is called into a new room with a large two-way mirror, where Dajh can't see him on the other side. Yaag Rosch is playing with Dajh, who seems to like him; Sazh believes Rosch either enjoys kids or takes his duties seriously. Nabaat comments on how Dajh isn't shy and listens to others. Sazh explains Dajh is used to playing with adults after going through childcare since his mother died three years ago.
Sazh asks Nabaat if Dajh can be cured, perhaps with a skin-grafting procedure, but she says it's impossible to remove the brand with human technology. She says Dajh seems able to sense Pulse entities and can find the fugitive l'Cie and their fal'Cie master. Sazh realizes both PSICOM and the fal'Cie only want to use Dajh and that he is the only one who can help his son. As the door to the other room opens, Dajh leaps into Sazh's arms. He wants to see fireworks, with Sazh noticing Dajh is more persistent than usual. Nabaat guesses Dajh is talking about the fireworks festival taking place in Bodhum in two days. Dajh whispers to Sazh that something is there but doesn't say what. Nabaat tells the boy they will see the fireworks, believing it's worth checking out if Dajh can sense anything Pulse-related at the festival.
Sitting on an airship heading for Bodhum, Sazh watches Dajh run up and down the length of the passageways playing with the chocobo chick. When Dajh tires himself out, father and son try to think of names for the baby chocobo, but Sazh sinks into depression, knowing Dajh is on borrowed time. Dajh points out the window at Bodhum's famous ruins and says he wants to go inside, making Sazh believe Dajh is sensing something of Pulse origin. Nabaat appears beside them as though she had been listening and asks Dajh if something is inside the ruins. When he answers yes, Nabaat pats Dajh on the head and says she will have a team investigate the ruins for the chance of finding a Pulse entity. Sazh yells out in denial at the possibility but calms himself after startling Dajh.
Near the festival's end, Nabaat approaches Sazh and Dajh after waiting on the airship for the investigation team to report. She says the team found a Pulse fal'Cie inside the Bodhum ruins. Dajh pulls on Sazh's arm and says he wants to go to Nautilus Park. Fearful that Dajh may sense Pulse l'Cie at Nautilus and that he will turn to crystal, Sazh asks if something is there; much to his relief, Dajh only wants to see the sheep and chocobos at the petting zoo. Rosch appears and tells Nabaat they've made a decision, and Sazh listens to them as he takes Dajh away. After the festival's end, they stay in a security force garrison. They were initially meant to return to the medical center in Eden but plans changed under the belief that Dajh sensed something else from Pulse in the town.
The following day Bodhum and its residents are placed under lockdown. The investigation team Nabaat sent into the ruins last night never returned, and PSICOM lost their position after sending a wireless transmission alerting Nabaat about the Pulse fal'Cie. After ordering the blockade, the ruins were sealed off instead of sending in a rescue team. After breakfast, Dajh wants to watch the TV program he always watches before going to daycare. However, all the channels show PSICOM soldiers at a blocked-off Bodhum Station since the Sanctum has quarantined the town over the fal'Cie discovery and blamed the Euride incident on Pulse l'Cie.
Looking out a window, Sazh sees military ships above the station, possible tourists rushing toward it, and soldiers pushing them back. As Sazh turns the TV off, Nabaat tells him they will be leaving since the Sanctum is deporting everyone in Bodhum to Pulse. She says they must find the Pulse l'Cie, but Dajh's safety is still a top priority and that they will leave as soon as the airship is ready.
Sazh and Dajh leave the garrison on the airship. Dajh spots a strange flying object out a window, and Sazh sees the military pursue a high-speed airbike to the ruins. The airbike gets hit, and Serah jumps from it near the ruins' top. As she holds her hand out to it, she gets sucked into the ruins, and the airbike she rode on disappears. Sazh tells Nabaat to rescue Serah, but she says they don't have to do anything since PSICOM will take the ruins to Pulse, and Serah was probably a Pulse l'Cie. She believes that since Dajh was interested in the airbike that carried Serah to the ruins, maybe it's best PSICOM sends them to Pulse.
Sazh comes to believe that Dajh can't complete his Focus if PSICOM sends the ruins to Pulse. Nabaat states that Cocoon will be free from the Pulse menace, asking if anything can be more crucial. Sazh sinks into despair, thinking there's nothing he can do. He knew from the start that PSICOM and the Sanctum saw Dajh as a tool for them to use and that to them, one child's life doesn't matter as long as Cocoon is safe. Feeling that Cocoon could go to hell as long as Dajh is safe, Sazh deems it's up to him to fulfill his son's Focus for him.
Back at the Eden medical center, Nabaat places Sazh and Dajh in separate rooms. Dajh holds onto Sazh, not wanting to be separated even though Nabaat tells the boy there are more tests to do and that he can play with his father tomorrow. Planning to have Dajh ask him for something so he'll have an excuse to leave and return to the ruins, Sazh says he will buy something for Dajh once he finishes the tests. Dajh still insists on going to Nautilus Park, so Sazh promises they will go there after completing the tests. Dajh runs back into his room, and Nabaat thanks Sazh for his cooperation. He tells her he wants to go to Palumpolum to buy a toy or picture book for Dajh and be back by tomorrow afternoon at the latest. Nabaat agrees to the idea and suggests using a military airship for transport, confirming Sazh's belief that they will keep monitoring him. Still, he knows he can shake them in a crowded city like Palumpolum, so he accepts the offer.
In Palumpolum, Sazh evades the PSICOM watchdogs, jumping from trains to rental airbikes. Making it back to Bodhum the next day, Sazh says his wife and child are in town and that he wants to be with them to go to Pulse as a family. PSICOM doesn't bother to check Sazh as they have orders not to let anyone out, and therefore wouldn't suspect anyone trying to get in. Sazh tries parting ways with the chocobo chick, grateful for how much it helped him and Dajh, but it attacks him, not wanting to leave. The only moving train at the station is bound for the Hanging Edge at Cocoon's farthest end. Unlike what he saw on the news yesterday, the people in Bodhum aren't opposing the soldiers; they've fallen in despair, resigned to their fate. Looking at his feet like the rest of them, Sazh lines up and approaches the station, determined to reach the Pulse fal'Cie with the chocobo chick beside him, despite knowing it may be a one-way trip.
This is what you are thinking right now. You are a l'Cie of Pulse, and all of Cocoon is your enemy. But there are exceptions to anything, you know.Cid Raines to Fang
After splitting from Vanille, Fang eludes pursuit from Euride soldiers and returns to the Pulse Vestige the following morning. She doesn't find Vanille, and the food they brought back is untouched; Fang thinks either Vanille hasn't returned to Bodhum or is still hiding, assuming Vanille is lonely and crying in her sleep as usual. Fang goes to the shopping mall to get a drink from a vending machine and glimpses the human-looking white bird. Believing the bird to have brought luck whenever she and Vanille saw it, Fang thinks she can now find her wayward friend but is quickly discouraged.
Someone tells Fang to pick up the can she placed on the ground, but she ignores the voice. Stalked by a soldier in an unfamiliar blue uniform, Fang leaves the mall and keeps running until she gets lost. The soldier jumps her but claims not to be an enemy. He introduces himself as Rygdea, a member of the Cavalry, and asks Fang to come with him. Now surrounded by soldiers holding her at gunpoint, Fang is handcuffed and blindfolded, although Rygdea promises she won't be bound for long.
Forced onto an airship, Fang meets Cid Raines and has her handcuffs removed. Raines identifies Fang as a Pulse l'Cie, an enemy of Cocoon, and introduces himself as the Cavalry leader. He claims not to be Fang's enemy, even if it's his job to help protect Cocoon. He takes out a wireless communicator to ask Lieutenant Jihl Nabaat about her status, who says a perpetrator is still on the run. Raines tells Nabaat things are also coming up empty on his end. Nabaat says they will deliver the fugitive to PSICOM headquarters after capturing her. Raines asks for the Euride incident details, but Nabaat says it's classified under PSICOM's jurisdiction.
Raines turns off the communicator and tells her the Cavalry disagrees with PSICOM's actions, nor does the Cavalry align with them. Fang remains unconvinced, believing the Cavalry captured her to get intel on Pulse. Fang tells Raines she has no information he could want because she's a broken l'Cie and doesn't have time to help him since she's looking for a friend. Raines says it's up to Fang to choose if she wants to help but says she will be staying with them and asks Rygdea to take Fang to the residential area, after which Fang realizes they're on an airship. Despite most of the creatures and people in Cocoon being weak except for a few like Rygdea, it has a vast assortment of technology, potentially making them a worse enemy than Fang and Vanille imagined. Rygdea tells Fang not to try anything since PSICOM has barricaded Bodhum. Cavalry overwrote PSICOM's surveillance system and sent them false info to capture her without PSICOM's knowledge.
Fang is given a room with only a bed and a table. Rygdea says the Cavalry looked at the security footage from Euride, and they could tell Vanille is strong like Fang. Fang is relieved Vanille hasn't been captured and thinks about how she always cries, wakes from a bad dream, and holds onto Fang, begging not to leave her alone, and how Vanille would sometimes laugh at the strangest things, ever since they were children. Rygdea offers to look for Vanille if, in return, she and Fang don't let themselves get captured by PSICOM. Now believing she can trust Rygdea, Fang agrees to the deal.
Rygdea believes Vanille is somewhere in Bodhum. He meets Lightning again and asks where teenagers like to hang out, giving Lightning a vague description of Vanille as an outgoing pigtailed girl who ran away from home. Lightning tells him there is a café by the beach where many young people hang out. At the café, Rygdea sees many tourists and locals but no sign of Vanille. Remembering him from the other day when PSICOM searched him, Yuj offers Rygdea a seat at the counter as Lebreau is making drinks. As she fixes Rygdea something to eat, Maqui appears and asks Lebreau about Snow's whereabouts, to which Lebreau says that Snow just left to meet with Serah. Seeing how everyone around him is acting without a care in the world, Rygdea notes how PSICOM has covered up news of the Euride incident and how only perceptive people like Lightning know something big must have happened if PSICOM is moving in. Rygdea describes Vanille to Lebreau, who promises to inform him if she sees a girl matching his description.
Rygdea later returns to the Lindblum, and Fang isn't surprised he returns empty-handed. She says Vanille might be near a forest or ocean for food, as she likes cooking even though some of her meals turn out terrible. Fang asks why Rygdea is with Raines. Rygdea says he relies not on his feelings but on whether something makes sense and that he doesn't fight unless he is sure to win. He says Fang misread him, but Fang disagrees, thinking Rygdea lets his emotions dictate his actions more than he wants to admit. Rygdea rushes to the airship's bridge as PSICOM announces they're lifting the blockade around Euride.
Fang worries how much time Vanille has left as her l'Cie brand is still evolving and decides to look for Vanille herself. She sneaks out of her room and plans to find the ship used to bring her aboard the Lindblum and escape but runs into multiple dead ends. Raines appears and says he put up barriers to restrict Fang's movement. He offers Fang his sword, meaning she can take it and do whatever she wants to him when his men arrive. Fang takes it and follows him to a room.
Raines shows Fang an audio recording of a conversation between Yaag Rosch, Galenth Dysley, and Nabaat concerning Euride and the fugitive Pulse l'Cie. Rosch and Dysley ponder whether it was too soon to remove the barricade and about the rumors spreading that what happened wasn't an accident. Nabaat says they can use that information to their advantage, but Dysley claims the fal'Cie Eden admonished him for hiding the truth from the public. He wants to end the investigation after lifting the barricade so everyone's lives would return to normal. Rosch disagrees since the l'Cie remain on the loose, but as the fal'Cie spokesperson, Dysley can't defy their commands.
An inside man recorded the conversation, which Raines calls "the real Cocoon", where Dysley sees the citizens as sheep. As long as Cocoon remains under Sanctum rule, the people remain tools of the fal'Cie. Raines believes Fang's Focus is to defeat the Cocoon fal'Cie and possibly destroy Cocoon by extension, making Fang think destroying Cocoon's core rather than its structure might be her and Vanille's Focus. Raines claims Fang can destroy fal'Cie and asks her to lend the Cavalry her power as he wants to destroy the fal'Cie Eden and the Sanctum. Raines vows to do anything to achieve his goal, but Fang wants to postpone her decision to help him until after she finds Vanille. Raines tells Fang about Bodhum's fireworks festival, where PSICOM won't be able to make a move against her if she blends in with the tourists. Fang agrees to stay on the Lindblum until then, though she still hasn't decided whether she will help Raines.
For the next two days, Rygdea continues unsuccessfully looking for Vanille, and Fang has no luck trying to recall the missing pieces of her memory. Raines lets Fang attend the fireworks festival the next day as promised, giving her a wireless communicator and a device to access her weapon quickly. Fang returns to the Pulse Vestige and sees the priests' robes thrown on the floor and Vanille's weapon, meaning Vanille was there. Fang folds up the priests' clothing to let Vanille know she's looking for her. She spends the rest of the day looking for Vanille in the areas around Bodhum they previously visited. PSICOM enters the Vestige to conduct an investigation and surrounds it with army vehicles. Believing that Vanille would avoid the Vestige from now on, Fang walks to the shopping mall as it gets dark.
As fireworks light up the shopping mall and beach full of people, Fang looks everywhere for Vanille. Exhausted, she stops at the café for a drink and tells Lebreau, who serves her, about looking for her friend. Lebreau tells Snow that Serah is waiting at the usual place; as he leaves, Fang doesn't get a good look at Snow but remembers his clothing. She describes Vanille to Lebreau, who tells Fang about the wish-making tradition. When Fang leaves, she looks at the sky and prays she will find Vanille. Rygdea tells Fang through the communicator to return to the meeting point as something terrible has happened.
During the fireworks festival, one of the low-ranked Cavalry members intercepts information from PSICOM about finding a Pulse fal'Cie in the Vestige. PSICOM seals off the Vestige, and most of its forces are heading for Bodhum. The Cavalry and Bodhum's security force pull out as ordered. Raines thinks PSICOM is stalling for time before the info gets leaked and will reveal the discovery after barricading the city to contain the panic. Raines receives a call from his inside man and asks Rygdea to step outside, making the latter suspicious of how Raines's demeanor suddenly changes.
After the Cavalry picks her up, Fang unleashes her fury upon learning they will leave Bodhum. Rygdea assures her they will continue searching for Vanille in the regions outside of town. Raines tells her the Sanctum will purge everyone in Bodhum and bring them to the Hanging Edge by train before sending them to Pulse with the Vestige. Raines reaffirms his desire to destroy the fal'Cie and Sanctum, but Fang doesn't care about his power struggles and asks what he wants. He explains he wants Cocoon's people to have rule over their hearts and live as humans, neither as sheep nor tools of the fal'Cie.
Fang recognizes the look in Raines's eyes as the same saw in the eyes of those on Pulse, whose homes the Cocoon fal'Cie destroyed. Raines promises the Cavalry will use all of its power to find Vanille, but they can't ignore the lives of the people in Bodhum being ruined simply for having the slightest brush with Pulse. Knowing the Cavalry would have to make sacrifices to save Vanille from a heavily guarded Purge train, Fang says she owes Raines. She prays that her and Vanille's Focus is to destroy the Cocoon fal'Cie and that she isn't making a mistake with her decision. Fang tells Raines once they find Vanille, they will help him crush the fal'Cie.
When the Purge train leaves Bodhum two days later, the Lindblum lands on Lake Bresha's surface. As Fang rides in a smaller vehicle toward the Hanging Edge, Rygdea says the Purge train will arrive in an hour. Fang spots the strange white bird disappear into clouds. Now seeing the bird as a sign of luck, Fang smiles at the knowledge that the Hanging Edge is close and she would find Vanille.
Whatever, let's not talk about him. I mean, whether he's here or at home, he'd just say the same things anyway. How's school? Are you studying? Nothing else. He's like a.....Hope to Nora about his father
Hope and his mother, Nora, are on a ten-day vacation in a beach resort condo in the seaside town of Bodhum for the annual fireworks festival. Having planned it half a year in advance, Nora hopes to use the vacation to heal the rift between Hope and his father, Bartholomew; however, Bartholomew has to go on a sudden business trip, promising to join with her and Hope for the festival. Hope is unsurprised and doesn't believe it since his father often neglects him and Nora for his job. Hope resents how Nora never blames his father for breaking his promises and makes excuses for him. As the clean-up operation after the accident three days ago is over, Nora wants to visit Euride. When Hope says his father isn't coming just as he thought, Nora says there's nothing Bartholomew can do about it since the Euride incident affected his job. To change the subject, Hope helps Nora wash the vegetables she got from Yuj, Maqui, and Lebreau.
At Euride Gorge the next day, the plaza is closed off, and the place is full of PSICOM soldiers on guard. Some kids run past Hope, and hearing them mention the Sunleth Waterscape makes him think about his school trip there six years ago and the misadventure he had there with his two classmates, Kai and Elida Karmic. Hope reflects on what his father said about keeping promises no matter how small and believes Bartholomew no longer does that with him and Nora. All Hope can remember about the last time he began a conversation with his dad was how Bartholomew brushed him aside.
Having seen the fal'Cie Kujata, Hope and Nora return to the entrance. Hope wanted to emulate his father when he was younger but now doesn't wish to become the kind of person who prioritizes work over family. Passerbys mentioned a boy hurt in the accident and how the local security force could barely look at his father. Nora hopes the boy doesn't die since there's nothing worse than a child dying before their parents; Hope ponders that it's still sad for those left behind regardless when a family member dies. Nora asks if Hope hates his father and says Bartholomew isn't good at these kinds of things, but many people in the Sanctum depend on him, and he wants to do a good job. Hope says he's not mad since his father will join them for the fireworks. Hope thinks about talking to his dad on the night of the festival; Bartholomew may not say much, but Hope strives to make his mother happy.
As they approach the plaza, the numerous PSICOM soldiers make Hope nervous. Seeing his mother looking worried, he says they should return to Bodhum, and Nora suggests they revisit the shopping mall. Hope thinks about talking to Kai and Elida when he returns to Palumpolum and telling them about his vacation, making it the first time they've been together in three years.
Yeah, that's why I never know what to get her. I always think there must be something better out there. But you know? When you see how happy they are with what you've given them, all those worries go away!Serah to Snow
Lightning's birthday is in two days, so Serah is looking for a present with Snow in the shopping mall. Despite Lightning being like a mother to her, Serah still hasn't told her about being made a Pulse l'Cie. She disclosed it to Snow three days ago and tried breaking up with him, but he promised to help her determine and complete her Focus. Snow tried asking people what they knew about Pulse or l'Cie but had no luck; he even considered confronting the Pulse fal'Cie about Serah's Focus, but she objected since that could make Snow a l'Cie too and endanger everyone in Bodhum. Serah and Snow decided to tell Lightning everything on her birthday, but Serah doubts she has the courage.
Due to Lightning's job as the Bodhum Security Regiment's raid leader, Serah considers getting her a good luck charm. They enter the accessory store where Serah bought her cat earrings and Snow's NORA necklace. Planning to propose to Serah at the fireworks festival, Snow looks at rings but dismisses the idea and moves on to the next display showing bracelets, considering the ones with birthstones, but relents after seeing a middle-aged woman use a bracelet as a collar for her tiny dog.
Snow and Serah move on to the table displaying earrings. Snow sees other couples wear two halves of the same set of earrings and forgets about buying earrings for his proposal since they're so popular. Serah agrees with Snow's suggestion to go to a different store. He says he's trying to find something to show someone how he feels, but nothing seems like enough. Snow sees a pair of necklaces in the shop's display window, having missed them when they entered. He makes up the excuse of going to the bathroom and tells Serah to go ahead.
He calls out to a shop attendant to inspect the necklaces and recognizes the person as Sonia, a childhood friend three years older than him, who was like a "scary sister" to him as they grew up in the same town. When Sonia has another attendant fetch the necklaces, Snow realizes Sonia has been managing the store for less than a month, and it's become busy thanks to her work. Since the Sanctum pays tuition, Sonia worked at Palumpolum's main store after graduating from the boarding school. This way of life troubles Snow because it means he could take anything he wants from the Sanctum; instead, he and his friends choose to take as little as possible by farming, hunting monsters, and doing things their way. Sonia accuses Snow of being unemployed and says he can't go on like this forever. Guessing Serah to be his girlfriend, Sonia tells Snow to get a job or do something with himself for Serah's sake, but Snow declares to make Serah the "happiest woman on Cocoon". Sonia hands Snow the necklaces: small metal sculptures of Cocoon. Sonia offers to gift-wrap them, but Snow declines, pays for them, and leaves. He thinks about proposing to Serah tomorrow night before wishing for their happiness on the fireworks. Despite knowing that Serah's time is short, Snow decides to believe in a bright future.
Meanwhile, Serah has found a present for Lightning, a survival knife whose blade is supposedly capable of severing evil. Catching up with Snow, Serah says that since Lightning visits many places due to her job, she wants Lightning to survive whatever happens and return home safely. Snow assures Serah a survival knife isn't a strange gift.
We'll be together forever... no matter what happens, we'll never be apart.Vanille's promise to Fang
- During the War of Transgression...
Three priests clothed in red, black, and purple lead Fang into the temple housing the fal'Cie Anima, with Vanille in tow. Fang and Vanille leave their weapons and climb the stairs, stopping to pray a total of 13 times before continuing. Reaching a door the black priest says will only open for the pure of heart, Fang and Vanille pray, the symbol on the door glows red, and the door opens. Fang says she is the one who will become a l'Cie, not Vanille, so she has nothing to fear.
Everyone climbs another flight of stairs and repeats the praying ritual. They come to another door of trials, which the purple priest says will open to those who hold strength instead of weakness; Fang and Vanille pray and open the door. Everyone passes the gate of the center and leaves the hallway of ten and three. They stop and pray 13 times as they climb the next flight of stairs. When Fang starts complaining, Vanille scolds her, saying the priests called the process a test, but Fang calls the priests weak and harmless. Fang, Vanille, and the three priests climb stairs and pray 13 times until they come to another door. The red priest says the gate of endings will open for those full of honor. Fang and Vanille again pray together, the door opens, and everyone continues onward.
At the top of the final set of stairs, ten priests stand with spears guarding Anima's Throne entrance. They lead Fang up the stairs, but Vanille can't proceed. The 13 priests surround Fang and lift their arms in prayer, chanting that she is the chosen one who will stand against Cocoon. As the door to the fal'Cie opens, Fang shakes off the priests holding onto her and yells at Anima for turning countless people into l'Cie when only a fal'Cie like itself could destroy Cocoon and Lindzei. The priests try holding Fang down with their spears, but she shakes them off, takes one of their spears, storms Anima's chamber, and continues yelling at it.
The priests chase her, but Fang defeats them with her spear before continuing towards Anima. Fang says she will become Anima's l'Cie and destroy demons but hates that the fal'Cie sits around doing nothing. The red, black, and purple-clad priests shield Anima from Fang, who says human lives are nothing to the fal'Cie. The priests claim the human beings Fang speaks of are merely orphans they're rearing to become l'Cie, their only use. The red priest calls Fang a fool who can't see the real intention of those who cared for her, and the enraged Fang stabs him. She beats the other two priests and faces Anima, announcing her plan to destroy the fal'Cie for it causing her friends to become Cie'th and the Cocoon fal'Cie doing as they please.
Fang charges at Anima, but its hands throw her to the floor. The ten priests rush into the chamber, surround Fang, and point their spears at her, prepared to kill her for her seditious actions. Vanille runs in and covers Fang with her body, begging the priests to forgive Fang. They claim her sins are too severe, so Vanille asks them to let her atone for Fang's crimes and requests they both become l'Cie to fight Cocoon. The priests gather to talk while Fang begs Vanille not to go through with it. Being next in line anyway, Vanille decided ever since entering the temple that she wants them to be together; they might be orphans, but they were raised together like family and will protect everyone together. Surrounding Fang and Vanille, the ten priests raise their arms in prayer that the two become l'Cie. Vanille says they will be together no matter what happens.
In the present day...
After Vanille and Fang separated following the Euride incident, the station has been closed off. People demand that the soldiers free them and get told they will be put on the next train to Bodhum after going through an ID check. People complain but follow the soldiers' directions and wait in the tents set up in the plaza. Vanille nervously hands a soldier her stolen ID card, and it's accepted. After taking the next train back to Bodhum, she waits for Fang on the platform, but there's no sign of her.
Vanille returns to the Pulse Vestige but can't sleep and visits the mall to look for food. After seeing the strange white bird again, the nervous Vanille gets the courage to enter a store and make purchases with her stolen card. Over the next four days, she begins feeling more at ease and seeing Cocoon as a peaceful paradise, but still feels haunted by the guilt towards Serah and Dajh, the innocent girl and boy dragged into her and Fang's problems. Vanille's regret is like a thorn in her chest, close to overwhelming her until she meets Serah on the beach.
When Vanille is at a rest area in the shopping mall three days later in the afternoon, the news announces PSICOM has discovered a Pulse fal'Cie in the Vestige. People panic as the Sanctum will barricade Bodhum for Cocoon's protection; worry becomes anger as some confront the PSICOM soldiers, who begin threatening them. A frightened Vanille flees but finds all roads leading to the Vestige blocked and the structure surrounded by military vehicles.
Regretting leaving her weapon behind, the sight of approaching soldiers makes Vanille return to the mall. Thinking about Fang, she walks around aimlessly and finds herself at Bodhum Station. Vanille guesses she might find Fang back at Euride and runs toward the station only to find the walkway blocked off. In front of the station, she sees tourists arguing with soldiers; among them is Nora begging for them to let Hope return home. Vanille returns to the shopping mall and tries to stay in populated places away from soldiers.
When the Sanctum announces the Purge to Pulse, everyone goes quiet. Vanille watches in amazement as the fear of Pulse makes everyone around her run around, screaming and crying, with fights breaking out. The Sanctum announces the Pulse fal'Cie will accompany the Purge train for its return to Pulse. Vanille realizes she will get Purged if she stays in Bodhum and so will be unable to complete her Focus if she returns home to Gran Pulse. She slumps to the ground and stays this way until night falls. She slips past the soldiers in a now-empty mall and walks down the beach that held the fireworks festival the previous night. Vanille whispers goodbye to the floating world she had come to like, and turning back the way she came, comes across the field where she and Fang stole vegetables from the day they awoke. Thinking she will never see Fang again, Vanille cries herself to sleep.
While walking along the promenade the next day, Vanille looks out into the ocean and sees the Pulse Vestige in the distance, surrounded by army vehicles and soldiers. Remembering the promise between her and Fang that they will always be together, Vanille apologizes and reminisces about what happened after Euride eight days ago up to her encounter with Serah. While lost in thoughts, Vanille feels a PSICOM soldier's gun at her back, and she nervously apologizes. He lowers it and softly tells her to hurry since everyone is checking in at the station. Vanille runs to the shopping mall and doesn't look back.
Unlike yesterday, the mall is devoid of commotion, and Vanille sees a line of impassive people heading for the station to board the Purge train. Realizing everyone considers exile to Gran Pulse a death sentence, Vanille wishes she could show them what Pulse has to offer and that they could live there if everyone worked together. She feels responsible for the Purgees' suffering and apologizes. Upon entering the station building, she hears soldiers order everyone to stay in line and state that PSICOM will return the Purgees' baggage once they reach Pulse. The sight of the soldiers' weapons makes Vanille uneasy, giving her the impression they're forcing everyone out of the city. Someone yells, and the line of people shifts as though someone tried to run away. Gunshots ring out, and the people panic but quickly revert to their quiet state when soldiers point their guns at them. The queue continues moving.
Vanille sees Lightning talk with a soldier. Despite noticing Lightning's resemblance to Serah, Vanille thinks her guilt is causing her to see things. Lightning gives the soldier her weapon and lines up with Sazh standing behind her, a baby chocobo popping out of his hair. As Vanille begins to laugh, she doesn't look where she's going and bumps into Nora. After making sure Vanille isn't hurt, Nora and Vanille talk briefly about where they're from until Nora stops asking questions. Vanille thinks it's because Nora has other things to worry about and sees Hope silently looking down at his feet and shaking. After debating whether to stand behind Nora and Hope or Lightning, Vanille settles on the former, wanting to be with kind people if anyone will treat her like a prisoner.
Soldiers explain that everyone would arrive on Pulse either later today or tomorrow. Vanille thinks of helping everyone adjust to Pulse and apologizes to Fang for breaking their promise to stay together. Reflecting on Serah's advice from four days ago to face reality later if it's too much to handle, Vanille reflects on how Serah's words saved her. Thanks to Serah telling her to look at her problems from a distance to find a way to overcome them, Vanille has resolved to escape her Focus to avoid hurting more people even though she'll become a Cie'th. Vanille knows Fang isn't in danger of becoming a Cie'th and can look after herself, although she will be upset. As soldiers begin directing people onto the train, Vanille feels worried but tells herself she will soon be back on Gran Pulse with people waiting for her who will be happy to see her.
A special edition drama CD was released on January 27, 2010; a CD-only available through buying/ordering the limited edition version of the Final Fantasy XIII: Original Soundtrack. It features Part 1 of the web novellas.
The CD consists of seven chapters with Serah, Lightning, Snow, Hope, Nora Estheim, the NORA members, Lightning's former superior in command, Amodar, as well as Lightning and Serah's mother.
Each chapter lasts approximately 1–6 minutes.
- Chapter 1:' Lightning meets the NORA members, including Snow, Serah's fiancee. (5:50)
- Chapter 2: Serah and Snow briefly talk about Lightning and her birthday. (5:25)
- Chapter 3: Lightning recalls conversations with her late mother and Serah. (1:47)
- Chapter 4: Serah enters the Pulse Vestige ruins to explore and is made a l'Cie. (4:05)
- Chapter 5: Lightning walks around town with Serah in mind. She encounters Hope and Nora at a store, looking at chocobos. (1:43)
- Chapter 6: Serah wakes up finding a strange mark on her upper left arm, recalling the legends about l'Cie and fal'Cie, and realizes what she has become. (2:29)
- Chapter 7: Lieutenant Amodar and Lightning talk about two strangely dressed women (Fang and Vanille) and the fireworks festival. Lightning also thinks about Serah. (2:26)
The Drama CD is under the name Final Fantasy XIII Episode Zero -Promise- Fabula Nova Dramatica Alpha. The first pressing includes a script booklet and a limited edition sleeve case. The CD was released on September 15 and had a bonus story titled "Real -Reality-". Another Drama CD under the name Final Fantasy XIII Episode Zero -Promise- Fabula Nova Dramatica Omega was released November 17 in Japan, also priced at ¥3,000, including a bonus story titled "Departure -Starting-".
- Final Fantasy XIII Episode Zero -Promise-
- Language: Japanese
- Published by Square Enix
- Published on December 24, 2009
- Pages: 320
- ISBN 978-4-7575-2770-6
- Final Fantasy XIII Episode Null - Versprechen
- Language: German
- Published by Panini
- Published on February 15, 2011
- Pages: 320
- ISBN 978-3-8332-2240-5
- Final Fantasy XIII Episode Zero -Promise-
- Language: French
- Published by Lumen
- Published on August 28, 2014
- Translated by Cécile Sénaux
- Pages: 356
- ISBN 978-2-3710-2012-2
- Final Fantasy XIII: Episode Zero: Promise
- Language: English
- Published by Yen Press
- Published on April 30, 2019
- Pages: 208
- ISBN 978-1-9753-8240-7
- Drama CD Official Site
- Episode Zero -Promise- (Japanese) (Accessed: December 05, 2018) at Square Enix Gamebooks Online
- Episode Zero -Promise- (English) (Accessed: December 05, 2018) at Yen Press
- Episode Null -Versprechen- (Accessed: December 05, 2018) at PaniniShop.de
- Episode Zero -Promise- (French) (Accessed: December 05, 2018) at Babelio
- Episode Zero -Promise- (French) (Accessed: December 05, 2018) at Amazon.fr