Final Fantasy XIII Gaiden Shōsetsu: Yumemiru Mayu, Akatsuki ni Otsu, commonly known to fans as Final Fantasy XIII Side Story: A Dreaming Cocoon Falls into the Dawn, is a six-chaptered novella in the Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania Omega written by Benny Matsuyama.
While the Pulse l'Cie fight to defy their fate and save Cocoon, three Cocoon citizens have parallel journeys in secret. Featuring Final Fantasy XIII supporting characters, the story follows an undercover reporter, a university student, and a pilot set on different paths to save the floating world from an ancient plot to destroy it from within.
- Aoede - an aspiring journalist with some experience as a regional video news reporter who wants to make a compelling report of her own and boost her career.
- NORA - a neighborhood watch group from Bodhum turned vigilantes against the Sanctum.
- René - a 17-year-old girl prodigy from Bodhum attending the university in Eden forced to go on the run after unwittingly drawing the fal'Cie's attention.
- Cielo - a young air freight pilot who admires his coworker, Sazh Katzroy.
- Cid Raines - the leader of "the Cavalry", an elite group of soldiers trying to free Cocoon's people from fal'Cie rule.
The Price for Pursuing the Truth
How... How could this be―Aoede, realizing the truth behind the Purge
Aoede feels the news in Cocoon always goes unquestioned; she is waiting for the chance to capture footage for a personal report that would invite criticism and let people make judgments. Opportunity knocks when the Sanctum announces finding a Pulse fal'Cie within a Vestige located in Bodhum and initiates the Purge to remove anyone potentially "tainted".
Unlike the rest of Cocoon, Aoede questions everything about the Purge and doesn't believe it to be forced relocation to Pulse, as the Sanctum declares. Journeying to the outer perimeter of blockades placed around Bodhum, Aoede gathers information that supports her skepticism. She learns Sanctum and military officials and their families are exempt from the Purge, and tens of thousands of traceable restraint garments were made for the Purgees to wear seemingly before the Sanctum's announcement. Aoede speculates the Purge is an elaborate ploy to instill more Gran Pulse-phobia into the populace and keep control over Cocoon. Believing the Sanctum won't banish anyone, she fits herself with hidden cameras, sneaks into Bodhum, and boards a Purge train, hoping to create a documentary to boost her reputation as a reporter and make her Cocoon's first real journalist.
On the train, Aoede secretly records the Purgees' anger, fear, and despair, thinking to herself that they're stupid to believe in and fear the Purge. When the train stops in the Hanging Edge, Aoede not only discovers her hunch about the Purge was right but also the gruesome truth as chaos unfolds around her. An explosion sounds in the distance as the Purgees revolt against the PSICOM soldiers, taking their weapons and escaping. Aoede removes her Purge clothing, leaves the train, and steps onto a skybridge, seeing the Hanging Edge turned into a warzone as Sanctum airships direct their gunfire at the rebelling Purgees. Aoede realizes the Sanctum never planned to exile anyone; the Purge was a way to hide their plot to take the supposedly tainted people to the restricted area and perform a concealed genocide. Realizing her folly for rushing into the situation, overwhelmed with shame for getting immersed in the pursuit of authentic journalism, and haunted by her contempt toward the Purgees on the train, Aoede can only stand dazed and watch the carnage unfold.
A PSICOM attack vessel locks onto her, but Yuj moves Aoede out of the way before the pilot fires, and she flees with her saviors: NORA. During their flight, Aoede sees the Pulse Vestige suspended beneath the Sanctum Skyfleet airship, the Palamecia. Aoede focuses her camera on the Vestige and records that NORA's leader, Snow Villiers, is heading towards it. Her will to live restored by Lebreau's confidence, Aoede asks NORA to let her join them and vows to record everything that happens; even if she sacrifices herself for journalism's sake, perhaps someone will circulate her footage and help shatter the public's blind faith in the Sanctum.
Aoede realizes the Sanctum knows they can't hide the truth about the Purge, and Galenth Dysley and the other leaders accept taking a blow strong enough to overturn their authority whether or not they succeed in strengthening the public's fear of Pulse. Aoede believes the Purge is the beginning of a vast conspiracy, something that would make the Purge pale in comparison and kill more people. Led by NORA, Aoede and other surviving Purgees escape the battlefield and take refuge in a crevice in the ground.
Messengers of the Purge
To the fal'Cie―To the fal'Cie, human lives meant little. They had allowed humans to propagate over several hundreds of years―because they had some purpose for their increased numbers…?René develops theories on the fal'Cie
Since René lost her parents at a young age and grew up in a Sanctum-run orphanage, everyone regards her as a genius; she skipped several grades, finished middle school in a year and a half, and high school in just over a year. At age 16, she passed the entrance exam for Eden's most prestigious institution and received many Sanctum scholarship offers. René is a realist, considering dreaming of fantasies and believing in miracles to be "the height of stupidity." Since childhood, she has seen herself as superior to others as no one could match her intelligence; thus, she sought to escape the orphanage in her hometown of Bodhum. René aspires to join the Sanctum and rise to a position that would allow her to participate in government operations and apply her vast AMP technology knowledge.
René taps away at the keyboard on a terminal's glass screen inside the library reading room as closing time and evening approach. While applying for clearance to view AMP model documents and getting permission to enter the upper level storing them, she strangely becomes nostalgic about Bodhum. Then the Sanctum announces the town's Purge; René worries about her childhood friends and a junior school classmate from the orphanage but tries to distract herself by working. She continues developing theories and unconsciously types them in an open text file on the terminal. She theorizes the fal'Cie don't care for human lives and let the population grow to fulfill a goal that requires the loss of lives on a grand scale, concluding that humanity's fal'Cie protectors will soon betray them. When René comes to her senses and stops typing, a message directing her to the upper levels flashes on the console, so René descends the hallway and calls for the elevator but realizes she forgot her ID card on the console panel.
René sees she's the only one in the reading room upon returning there. A metallic statue appears before her and declares its purpose to eliminate her; Cocoon's network terminals are under fal'Cie control, so René realizes they read her theories and reported to a high-ranking fal'Cie that someone there possessed dangerous thoughts. René's ideas are too accurate, so the steel statue fal'Cie was sent to kill everyone who likely read them. The fal'Cie opens its chest cavity, revealing the gears used to kill the people in the room, and advances towards René. The elevator arrives, providing René with a distraction. She shoves a stool into the fal'Cie's gears to stall it and bolts out the entrance doors.
The evening is about to turn to dusk, and René calls out for help to the few pedestrians still roaming the streets. A soldier belonging to the Homeguard, tasked with keeping order in Eden, tells them to resume their business so he can talk with René. She's about to explain everything to the soldier when René hears a familiar scratching gears sound exuding from him—another disguised exterminator fal'Cie. René trembles with fear, too shocked to call for help as the fal'Cie approaches her. Unbeknown to René, a group of people defeats the Pulse fal'Cie Anima within the Pulse Vestige in the Hanging Edge at the same time. The colossal energy wave the Vestige releases sweeps throughout Cocoon and disables the fal'Cie, including the exterminator fal'Cie, allowing René to escape through the streets into the night. Unable to return home, René resolves to survive and find somewhere to hide under the fal'Cie's radar.
You've got to be kidding me. I won't make it on time. How are you gonna make up for that!?Cielo
An air traffic controller has grounded Cielo right before takeoff, so he rests up in his airship's cockpit. Cielo has been working overtime to pick up the slack since Sazh, a fellow pilot, went on leave over a week ago. The flights he pilots are being regulated and delayed since the Purge occurred the other day. Worried that Sazh might have gotten swept up in it, Cielo dismisses the notion as Sazh mentioned going to Euride Gorge with his son Dajh, believing he would've heard of something happening to Sazh due to the news of an accident there.
A call from the control tower awakes Cielo from his daydream, permitting him to take off. Now airborne, Cielo flies towards the packages' destination, the city of Eden. He spots a speeding military aircraft that apparently leaves the remote area around Lake Bresha and receives an order to make an emergency stop. Crewless PSICOM attack ships pursue an unknown airship piloted by a person, which Cielo surmises as he watches it outmaneuver the PSICOM ships by guiding them into the fal'Cie Phoenix's molten plasma. Watching the spectacle excitedly and admiring the mystery pilot's skills, Cielo secretly cheers for those PSICOM is chasing. Approaching reinforcements strike the airship and it falls towards the Vile Peaks, so Cielo prays for the passengers' safety.
Undercover Stray Cats
That guy really is awesome! Who would have thought that he would not only make it out of the Vestige alive but also become able to use magic!!Aoede, about Snow
After breaking through PSICOM's defenses, Aoede, NORA, and a portion of the surviving Purgees escape the Hanging Edge and hide inside a space in the "partitioning wall" that separated the Hanging Edge from its neighboring region. As one of many, the hiding space contains an ancient Pulsian building inserted between Cocoon's outer shell layers as padding during its construction. It's a large area that "shouldn't" exist and an "irregularity" outside of fal'Cie surveillance; therefore, making it perfect for the Purge survivors to lay low in and wait out PSICOM's search efforts.
Gadot, a NORA member, leads a combat team to ensure everyone's safety. They receive food and supplies through Lenora's Garage, a shop Maqui, another NORA member, maintains. Aoede continues recording everything as the footage could persuade Cocoon's people to renounce the Sanctum and fal'Cie. She believes NORA's lifestyle of refusing the fal'Cie's charity and being self-sufficient would be the key to guide humanity into a new era. Suspicions of a Sanctum conspiracy grow as everyone realizes the Pulse Vestige went uninvestigated for centuries, concluding the Sanctum knew about Anima and waited for the right time to fake its discovery and enact the Purge.
By hacking the Sanctum's information channels through his network, Maqui taps into a live feed and projects a hologram of a broadcast from Palumpolum captured by a military surveillance camera. The footage shows a plaza turned into a warzone as a crystal pillar conjured by magic freezes everything, the sounds of gunfire and screams from confused soldiers, and a Pulse l'Cie that NORA recognizes as Snow. Aoede, now a friend by association, considers NORA's feelings seeing their leader as a l'Cie, and thinks to stop recording. Yuj's unexpected response causes Aoede's finger to slip from the stop button on her camera goggles. Having worried about Snow ever since the Pulse Vestige fell into Lake Bresha, the news of his survival brings NORA relief; Aoede sees they only care that Snow is alive, not that he's now a l'Cie.
The footage from Palumpolum cuts off, and NORA begins planning their next step as Snow's appearance was the sign they needed. Aoede knows from the footage that Snow will take the fight straight to the Sanctum; NORA most likely wants to build a resistance movement to help him. As the Sanctum's troops are probably concentrated around Palumpolum, leaving holes in security around the Hanging Edge, NORA and the refugees would be able to escape. Aoede decides to accompany NORA and capture more footage of their quest. After leaving some instructions with the remaining NORA members, they leave their shelter and go for Eden.
Trap in the Tabernacle
I've gotta do this. Even if it seems impossible, I've gotta find a way――René vows to try and save Cocoon
Around when the remaining fugitive l'Cie storm their way into the Palamecia to rescue Sazh and Vanille, René has continued evading the fal'Cie by escaping through the maintenance tunnel network under Eden. The maze has no surveillance cameras; therefore, the fal'Cie can't pinpoint her location.
René discovers she has a gift for playing cat and mouse, not realizing her talent until now; as a child at the orphanage, she would rather spend her time broadening her mind than partaking in childish games. The fal'Cie tasked with killing René has followed her since the library, but now she can evade it while taking the time to observe its actions and understand its abilities. From watching how the fal'Cie destroyed the stool she shoved in its gears, René knows she can escape while keeping a distance from it. Noticing the fal'Cie's simple pursuit routine, limited ambush patterns, and how it lacks independent thinking ability, René uses these periods to rest and eat some food she swiped from a store before entering the tunnels but begins tiring, unlike her fal'Cie pursuer.
René knows the purger fal'Cie might call reinforcements if it fails to kill her within a specific time frame; if multiple fal'Cie begin chasing René, they'll hunt her down quickly. Unable to destroy the fal'Cie or trick it into thinking she's dead, René continues the cat and mouse game. Having experienced extreme moments of drowsiness and fading in and out of consciousness, René digs her nails into her upper arms to keep herself awake while watching the fal'Cie float around from her hiding place. At that moment, the l'Cie escape the Palamecia and enter the Fifth Ark via an airship controlled by the fal'Cie Barthandelus. The transference vibrations shake the city but are too small for humans to notice; however, the purger fal'Cie deviates from its established pattern and speeds down a dead-end hallway.
René springs from her hiding spot and follows the fal'Cie pressing the device at the end of its arm against the wall, making a string of electronic sounds René guesses to be a deactivation code. The wall parts, revealing a hidden corridor the fal'Cie charges down. Not believing it's a trap, René, now more curious than anxious, follows the fal'Cie. Upon reaching the faintly glowing exit, the view renders René briefly speechless: a vestige full of fearsome beasts, including Berserkers, Behemoths, and Adamantoises, frozen in time waiting to awaken. She recognizes the relic as an Ark but a different one from the Fifth Ark the l'Cie were taken to earlier. The purger fal'Cie mistook the vibrations from before as René making noises and inadvertently led her to the Ark. The sight of the secret Pulsian armory hidden in Eden's underbelly makes René break into a cold sweat as the chilling reality and her previous hypothesis overlap. She believes the hidden Ark is the fal'Cie's doing as nobody in the Sanctum could want to hide such a place beneath Cocoon's capital, theorizing the Ark will play a role in the fal'Cie's grand scheme as they'll unleash the monsters within upon the populace.
René screams for help, and a man in Eden-style work clothes comes into view at the large hallway's other end, smiling at René to calm her; he's a purger fal'Cie drawn to René by her screaming, disguised to catch her off guard. With its smile frozen like a death mask, the fal'Cie speeds towards René. Upon entering the Berserker's detection range, the Berserker summons Centaurion Blades that destroy the purger fal'Cie, back in its mechanical form, nearly splitting its body in two with blood-like oil pouring from it. Its arm rolls, the unlocking device detaches from its tip, and a flickering crystal lies inside. René waits for the Berserker controlling the Centaurion Blades to move away and confirms the fal'Cie's "death".
Despite no longer being stalked, René can't feel relieved knowing Cocoon's citizens are at the mercy of the fal'Cie wanting to sacrifice them. Humans live as the fal'Cie's pets, raised like livestock for the fal'Cie to use as offerings in a scenario centuries in the making; the Purge marked the beginning of the massacre, and the fal'Cie will destroy everyone if left alone. René, the selfish genius who previously cared only about her survival, now had tens of millions of lives resting on her shoulders. She stares at the purger fal'Cie's unlocking device and vows to stop the fal'Cie from sacrificing Cocoon's people, wishing for a miracle for the first time in her life.
Those Who Support the Falling Cocoon
Please let there be a miracle. Please let us stay alive. Please let as many of us survive this as possible.René
If the people were to see Cocoon like the gods who left the world, the fal'Cie's plot to kill everyone and resummon the Maker would've played out with everyone unaware. The cursed l'Cie that left for Pulse to find a way to change their fate would've played their role per Barthandelus's plan, as even the miracle they envisioned was a part of it.
During the festival celebrating Cid Raines's appointment as the Sanctum's new Primarch in Eden, the l'Cie return from Gran Pulse and Eden falls into chaos. The Cavalry sees their leader, Raines, now acting as the fal'Cie's voice, as a traitor, and raises an army in response, unknowingly playing into the fal'Cie's hands. Monsters from the Arks hidden in the city are released while the rebellion ensues. The Guardian Corps's Homeguard and PSICOM troops stationed in the town as a precaution against the l'Cie are useless against the mechanical soldiers made to combat the bioweapons that survived the natural selection process that governs Gran Pulse. With the military divided, Eden descends into anarchy.
After Barthandelus forced him to become a Sanctum l'Cie and aid him, Raines defied his Focus and turned to crystal. Barthandelus revived Raines as his puppet, unable to exercise the free will he still holds. Raines used his remaining l'Cie powers to copy his former crystallized self's cerebral structure into cyberspace to remain witness to Cocoon's final moments. Now existing as a metaphysical entity, an illusion, and a living shell maintaining a consciousness based on his memories, Raines no longer desires saving Cocoon.
Since the purger fal'Cie's destruction, René, now sporting slightly longer hair, has been doing all she can to help prevent humanity's extinction. She knew it was pointless to announce the Ark and its monsters' existence to the public, and any noticeable act on her part would cause more purger fal'Cie to be sent after her before the information could reach the masses. René guessed the fal'Cie seek to crash the city of Eden, make Cocoon's environment unlivable, and slaughter everyone in one fell swoop, so she had to form a plan to prevent that alone. It's believed Eden's namesake fal'Cie keeps the city aloft, so René thought of using the gravity control devices made with AMP technology to soften the impact of Eden's fall. It would be impossible to absorb the mass completely, but René could reduce casualties by balancing the weight. Using an unlocking device, she spent weeks sneaking into Eden's vital parts to tamper with the systems while avoiding the fal'Cie; she built a program to activate the ideal gravitational settings automatically, but René needs a passcode the Primarch kept to gain complete control. After making her preparations, she waited for the chance to infiltrate the office when chaos would send Cocoon into high alert.
Her chance comes when the Cavalry's "coup d 'état" and their retreat, as well as PSICOM's, leave the Primarch's office guarded loosely. René sneaks in and hacks the Primarch's terminal. Raines observes René from within the artificial brain and understands that she's trying to accomplish what he failed to do through her actions. Since hacking isn't her strong suit, the terminal's high security level nearly sends René into a panic when the passcode she needs suddenly appears on-screen. René backs away, and a synthesized voice tells her to access all of the city's functions with the final code. Thinking a fal'Cie has found her, René asks for the voice's identity; it reveals itself as the remaining echoes of a man who shared her goals but failed. Realizing a fal'Cie wouldn't do such a thing, René returns to the terminal.
Raines asks if she knows the fal'Cie's plan, and René responds with humanity's genocide by dropping the city. Raines tells her she is half wrong, revealing Barthandelus's plan to send all of Cocoon plummeting to Pulse upon the death of the fal'Cie Orphan, hidden in its cradle within the Edenhall Reliquary, and claims there is no way to prevent it. The revelation shocks René as a city's worth of AMPs would be useless; additionally, as soon as Cocoon starts falling, the disturbance in its gravitational field would scramble the world's inner surface, killing many in the process.
René begs Raines to tell her how to save Cocoon, sleep-deprived and struggling to stay on her feet. Her sincere pleas compel Raines to respond that she'll need to rely on other people to make a miracle possible and leave the world's fate in the Pulse l'Cie's hands, making René recall the earlier news footage of the l'Cie and their Eidolons. The fal'Cie Eden currently controls the gravity for all of Cocoon's areas; when the l'Cie infiltrate the Reliquary, the fal'Cie will have to spend lots of energy building the virtual space of Orphan's Cradle, presenting the perfect chance to take control of the entire gravity system. Then René can implement the automatic control system she designed to stabilize all areas, and the evacuation points near the control facilities won't suffer severe shaking when Cocoon starts falling.
Raines alerts René about the footage now broadcasting throughout Cocoon: a portion of the terminal display shows her a documentary with shocking images and details depicting the Hanging Edge massacre. The reporter René recognizes addresses the public, revealing the Purge's truth, how the fal'Cie ordered it as they seek everyone's destruction, and that the Pulse l'Cie are trying to save them. Noting the impressive hacking skills managing to bypass the fal'Cie controlling the airwaves, René has Raines monitor its progress. As the control code numbers on-screen change rapidly, the pattern feels familiar to René, so she unconsciously enters the following code in the sequence. René contacts the hacker, whose face appears on the monitor through a cross-connected feed; it's Maqui, whom René recognizes from junior school and who also remembers René. She gives Maqui a rundown of the current situation and sends him a text file with instructions for her control program and Raines's passcode. Then she tells Maqui to tell everyone to find shelter at the nearest gravity control facility.
NORA's illegal broadcast garners unchallenged support from the public and army for the group and the l'Cie. PSICOM director, Lieutenant Yaag Rosch, suspends all l'Cie hunting operations and orders everyone to focus on evacuating civilians; Maqui incorporates Rosch's final command into NORA's illegal broadcast. Everyone, ranging from stubborn skeptics to the Sanctum's forces, begins taking steps to ensure their survival and trusting the Pulse l'Cie to make a miracle happen.
The l'Cie reach the Edenhall Reliquary, and the fal'Cie Eden uses its full power to manifest Orphan's Cradle. With network security at its weakest, Maqui disables all safeguards, hacks into the gravity control system, and begins installing René's program, giving them complete control. However, the fal'Cie removed Bodhum from the network since the Purge emptied the town, and nearly a thousand people, including NORA's allies and the Purge survivors, are now hiding there. Maqui can't get Bodhum back on the network, so René resolves to go there, use the universal unlocking device to open the facility, and install her program directly. René leaves the rest to Maqui, tells him to continue preparations, and wait for Snow to pull off his miracle. René hears another familiar voice come through a voice-only transmission—Lebreau, who's been like a big sister to René since early childhood. Lebreau invites René to hang out with NORA and see her improved cooking skills when everything is over since Gadot, Yuj, and Snow have worried about her ever since she left the orphanage. Hearing Lebreau and talking to her old friends, a teary-eyed René promises to be there. Raines says it's all he can do, and the rest is up to René; she assures him that he can count on her and asks him to watch over her and the others like the Cavalry does. Raines says it's he who should thank René and tells her to save Cocoon. René speeds out of the office and doesn't look back. With his will now passed on to a new torchbearer, Raines smiles from within the artificial world.
As soon as René exits the Sanctum building, Cielo calls her while piloting a small abandoned military airship and tells her to get in since they're the only ones left in the area. René boards and yells at him to go to Bodhum so she can activate the gravity controls and save the people there. Cielo takes off with such concise technique that René feels their meeting is another miracle. She apologizes for involving him in her dangerous mission, but Cielo says he's been waiting for the chance to do something like this. He flies into Bodhum airspace and lands at the gravity control facility, which already has evacuees nearby, led by NORA's members. Cielo asks René if they can have another "date in the skies" if they survive but then says she probably didn't hear him as she jumps out the cockpit without hesitation.
She races to the facility, opens it with her unlocking device, and dashes for the control room. René begins installing her program when the fal'Cie Eden's death releases a powerful tremor felt throughout Cocoon, and the world starts falling. The cities' evacuation areas escape the acceleration's adverse effects with the AMP tech at its maximum output. However, in parts of towns not subjected to gravitational control, buildings crumble as if bombed, roads ripple like waves, seas gush, and mountains come apart and fall toward the sky. Then a torrid wind blows throughout Cocoon. René closes her eyes, and she and the rest of Cocoon pray for a miracle to save them. Her vision turns white, she falls unconscious, and the world goes dark.
René, feeling a gentle breeze on her face, is awoken by a voice, and she finds herself lying on thick grass. Awestruck by the sight of a giant crystal pillar supporting Cocoon, René realizes it stopped Cocoon from crashing onto Gran Pulse, a world she sees is not a hellscape as everyone thought. Meanwhile, the military helps people descend and settle. Wearing her camera goggles and holding a microphone, Aoede calls out to René and, planning to make a documentary, asks how she feels after saving Cocoon's people. René demands Aoede to stop filming since she couldn't shower for weeks.
Realizing she survived her ordeal and embarrassed for throwing a fit over her appearance, René sits down and starts laughing, satisfying Aoede with her 'answer' to her question. Aoede calls the crystal pillar a miracle that René and the l'Cie made. René asks what will happen now, to which Aoede says the essentials inside Cocoon should last a while. She says everyone won't be living the comfortable lives they had under the fal'Cie, but René says that's fine since it's how humankind should be living. To René's annoyance, Aoede has been recording the whole time.
Cielo calls René from overhead while piloting his airship and dodges any Pulsian creatures that get close. Aoede reveals that Cielo flew René out of Cocoon and waited for her to awaken but got restless and left before Aoede arrived. Aoede informs René that Cielo will later re-extend his invitation before bidding farewell and running over to where NORA and others are setting camp to get more footage. Realizing that Aoede stayed with her and waited for her to process her whole ordeal, René understands she can't go on alone anymore, and people will now have to form stronger bonds with each other to survive. Looking at the crystallized Cocoon, René wonders if Raines saw everything before passing on but likes to believe he got a happy ending. Telling Cielo she did hear him earlier, René accepts his offer for a date and tells him to pick her up. While he lowers his airship toward her, René feels free from her sorrows as this day marks humanity's rebirth as people begin new lives on their terms on Gran Pulse.
Behind the scenes
The novella features the possible appearance of the Seventh Ark, a location cut from the game but accessible through hacks.