So...these monsters are the fal'Cie's tools for wiping out the humans――the ones they’ve allowed to multiply――in one fell swoop――?René
René is one of the main characters in the short story in the Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania Omega titled Final Fantasy XIII Gaiden Shōsetsu: Yumemiru Mayu, Akatsuki ni Otsu. She is a prodigy university student who unwittingly attracts unwanted attention, becomes a fugitive, and gets herself entangled in the fight to save Cocoon.
René is described as a 17-year-old girl with shoulder-length pale blonde hair and adult-like facial features.
I already decided I wouldn’t give up a long time ago.René to Raines
René is a child prodigy bright enough to skip grades, an accomplishment rarely allowed in Cocoon. From her mature appearance, René is seen as having a composed demeanor. She is arrogant, seeing herself as superior to others as—in her opinion—everyone around her seems dense and no one can match her intelligence. René deems herself a realist and considers dreaming of fantasies and believing in miracles to be "the height of stupidity." René has little to no friends as she would rather focus on gaining knowledge and increasing her potential instead of participating in games she labels childish.
While on the run after bringing unwanted attention to herself and becoming a fugitive, René's arrogance wanes as she's overwhelmed by fear and stress after her sense of security is taken from her by the fal'Cie. Her hypotheses often turn out correct. René goes from thinking only of her own survival to considering the lives of everyone in Cocoon. Driven by the will to survive, she is pushed to her limits and risks her life trying to save as many people as possible.
René lost her parents at a young age and grew up in a Sanctum-run orphanage in her hometown of Bodhum, where she befriended the fellow orphans Snow Villiers, Gadot, Maqui, Yuj, and Lebreau, whom René saw as an older sister figure. Seeking to escape Bodhum, René skipped several grades, finished middle school in a year and a half, and high school in just over a year. At 16-years-old, René passed the entrance exam for Eden's most prestigious institution and was offered numerous Sanctum scholarships. At age 17, René is approaching her second year at the university. She aspires to join the Sanctum and rise to a position that would allow her to participate in government operations and apply her vast knowledge of Antimatter Manipulation Principle technology.
Inside the library reading room, René taps away at the keyboard as closing time approaches. While she applies for clearance to view documents on AMP models and is granted permission to enter the upper level where they're stored, she becomes nostalgic about Bodhum. The announcement for the town's Purge has been made, and René worries about her childhood friends but tries to distract herself by working. She continues developing theories and unconsciously types them in an open text file on the terminal, theorizing the fal'Cie don't care for human lives and allowed the population to grow to fulfill a goal that requires the loss of lives on a grand scale, and soon, humanity would be betrayed by their fal'Cie protectors. When she comes to her senses and stops typing, a message flashes on the console, directing her to the upper levels. She descends the hallway and calls for the elevator when she realizes she forgot her ID card on the console panel.
When René returns to the reading room, she is the only one there. A metallic statue appears before her and declares its purpose to eliminate her. René realizes that since Cocoon's network terminals are under fal'Cie control, they had read her theories and sent a report to a high-ranking fal'Cie that someone there possessed dangerous thoughts. René's theories are too close to the truth so the steel statue fal'Cie was sent to exterminate everyone believed to have read them. The fal'Cie opens its chest cavity, revealing the gears it 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 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 the people to go about their business so he can talk with René. She is about to tell the soldier everything when she hears a familiar sound of scratching gears coming from the soldier: another exterminator fal'Cie in disguise. René trembles with fear, too shocked to call anyone to her aid as the fal'Cie approaches her. Unbeknownst to René, at the same time, the Pulse fal'Cie Anima is defeated by a group of people within the Pulse Vestige in the Hanging Edge. The great energy wave released by Anima's demise sweeps throughout Cocoon and disables the fal'Cie, including the exterminator, enabling 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.
Around the time 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 network of maintenance tunnels beneath Eden. The maze has no surveillance cameras, therefore leaving the fal'Cie unable to pinpoint her location. René discovers she has the gift for playing cat and mouse, not having realized her potential until now because, 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 been after her ever since the events at the library. She runs while observing its actions and gains an understanding of its abilities. Noticing the fal'Cie's underdeveloped independent thinking ability, simple pursuit routine, and limited ambush patterns, René uses these periods to rest and eat some food that she swiped from a store before entering the tunnels. However, unlike her fal'Cie pursuer, René begins to tire.
There's the possibility of the purger fal'Cie calling for reinforcements if it fails to eliminate René within a certain timeframe. If multiple fal'Cie begin chasing René, she will be quickly hunted down. With no way to destroy the fal'Cie or trick it into thinking she's dead, René continues the game of cat and mouse. Having experienced moments of extreme drowsiness and fading in and out of consciousness, René digs her nails into her upper arms to keep herself awake as she watches 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 vibrations from the transference shake the city but are too faint for humans to detect. 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 that is pressing the device at the end of its arm against the wall and making a string of electronic sounds that René guesses to be a deactivation code. The wall parts, revealing a hidden corridor the fal'Cie charges down. Not believing it to be a trap, René, now more curious than anxious, follows the fal'Cie. Upon reaching the faintly glowing exit, René is rendered briefly speechless by the view: a vestige full of fearsome beasts, including Berserkers, Behemoths, and Adamantoises, frozen in time waiting to awaken. She recognizes the vestige as an Ark, but a different one from the Fifth Ark the l'Cie were transported to earlier. The purger fal'Cie mistook the earlier vibrations as René making noise 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 to be the fal'Cie's doing, as nobody in the Sanctum could want to hide such a place beneath Cocoon's capital city. She theorizes the Ark will play a role in the fal'Cie's grand scheme as they will unleash the monsters contained within upon the populace. René screams for someone to help her and a man in Eden-style work clothes comes into view at the other end of the gigantic hallway, smiling at René to calm her down. He is 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 zooms towards René.
The purger fal'Cie is destroyed by Centaurion Blades summoned by a Berserker when it came within its detection range. Now back in its mechanical form, the fal'Cie's body is nearly split in two with blood-like oil pouring from it. Its arm rolls, the unlocking device detaches from its tip, and within lies a flickering crystal. René waits for the Berserker controlling the Centaurion Blades to move away and confirms the fal'Cie's "death".
Despite no longer being pursued, René can't feel relieved now knowing that Cocoon's citizens are at the fal'Cie's mercy to be sacrificed. Humans live as the fal'Cie's pets being raised like livestock to be used as offerings in a scenario centuries in the making. The Purge marked the beginning of the genocide, and if left alone, everyone will be wiped out. René, the selfish genius who formerly cared about only her own survival now has the survival of tens of millions resting on her shoulders. She stares at the purger fal'Cie's unlocking device and vows to find a way to stop the fal'Cie from sacrificing Cocoon's people, wishing for a miracle for the first time in her life.
Ever since the purger fal'Cie was destroyed, René, now sporting slightly longer hair, has been doing everything she can to help prevent mankind's extinction. She knew it was pointless to announce the existence of the Ark and its monsters 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 public. René theorizes the fal'Cie seek to crash the city of Eden, make Cocoon's environment uninhabitable, and massacre everyone in one fell swoop. It's believed that Eden is kept aloft by its namesake fal'Cie. René plans using the gravity control devices made with AMP technology to soften the impact of Eden's fall. It would be impossible to completely absorb the mass but, by balancing the weight, the number of casualties could be reduced. Using an unlocking device, she spent weeks sneaking into vital parts of Eden to tamper with the systems while continuing to avoid the fal'Cie. She put in place a program to automatically activate the ideal gravitational settings, but to gain full control René needs a passcode kept by the Primarch. After making her preparations, she waited for the chance to infiltrate the office during the moment where chaos would send Cocoon into high alert.
Her chance comes during the Siege of Eden when the Cavalry's coup d'état and their retreat leaves the Primarch's office loosely guarded. René sneaks in and hacks the Primarch's terminal. Primarch Cid Raines has already been killed, unwilling to continue living as the fal'Cie's puppet, but continues to exist as an artificial brain within the system. Raines observes René and understands through her actions that she is trying to do what he had failed to accomplish. Since hacking isn't her strong suit, the high level of security on the terminal nearly sends René into a panic when the passcode she needs suddenly appears on the screen. René backs away from the terminal and a synthesized voice tells her to use the final code for access to all of the city's functions. Thinking a fal'Cie has discovered her, René asks for the voice's identity, and it reveals itself to be the remaining echoes of a man who shared her ambitions but failed. Realizing a fal'Cie wouldn't do something like this, 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 that she is half wrong and reveals to her Barthandelus's plan to send all of Cocoon plummeting to Gran Pulse upon the death of the fal'Cie Orphan, hidden in its cradle within the Edenhall Reliquary. He explains there is no way to prevent it. The revelation shocks René as a city's worth of AMPs would be pointless. Additionally, as soon as Cocoon begins descending, the disturbance in its gravitational field would scramble the world's inner surface and many people would die in the process.
Sleep-deprived and struggling to stay on her feet, René begs Raines to tell her a way to save Cocoon. Her sincere pleas compel Raines to tell her that she will need to rely on other people to make a miracle to save Cocoon possible and leave the world's fate in the hands of the Pulse l'Cie. René remembers the earlier news footage of the l'Cie and their Eidolons. The fal'Cie Eden currently controls the gravity for all areas of Cocoon, so when the l'Cie infiltrate the Reliquary, the fal'Cie will have to expend a lot of energy to build out 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 from severe shaking once Cocoon begins falling.
Raines alerts René about Purge footage being broadcast throughout Cocoon. A portion of the terminal display shows René a documentary with shocking images and details depicting the Hanging Edge massacre. The reporter, whom René recognizes as Aoede, addresses the public, revealing the truth about the Purge, how the fal'Cie ordered it as they seek to eradicate everyone, and that the Pulse l'Cie are trying to save them. Noting the impressive hacking skills being used to bypass the fal'Cie that controls the airwaves, René has Raines monitor its progress and as the control code numbers on-screen rapidly change. She unconsciously enters the next code in the pattern and contacts the hacker, whose face appears on the monitor through a cross-connected feed, revealed to be Maqui, whom René recognizes from junior school. She gives Maqui a rundown of the current situation and sends him a text file containing instructions for her control program along with the passcode from Raines.
She tells Maqui to inform everyone to find shelter at the nearest gravity control facility. NORA's illegal broadcast garners unchallenged support from the public and the army for the group as well as the l'Cie. PSICOM director, Lieutenant Yaag Rosch, suspends all l'Cie hunting operations and orders everyone to focus on evacuating civilians. Rosch's final order is incorporated into NORA's illegal broadcast, and everyone, ranging from the 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 all its power to manifest Orphan's Cradle. With network security at its weakest, Maqui hacks into the gravity control system and begins installing René's program. Bodhum has been removed from the network by the fal'Cie since the town was emptied by the Purge, and nearly a thousand people—including NORA's allies and the Purge survivors—are now hiding out 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 to wait for Snow (now part of the Pulse l'Cie party) to pull off his miracle.
René hears another familiar voice come through, Lebreau, who invites René to hang out with NORA and see how her cooking skills have improved when everything is over, since Gadot, Yuj, and Snow have worried about her ever since she left the orphanage. 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 that he can count on her and asks him to watch over her and the others like the Cavalry does. Raines says he is the one who should thank René and tells her to go 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, an airship pilot called Cielo calls out to her while piloting a small military airship. He 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 and René feels as though their meeting is a form of a miracle. She apologizes for getting him involved with her dangerous mission, but Cielo has been waiting for the chance to do something. He flies into Bodhum airspace and lands at the gravity control facility, which already has evacuees nearby, having been led there by NORA's members. Cielo asks René if they can have another "date in the skies" if they survive, but she probably could not hear him as she jumps out of the cockpit without hesitation. She races to the facility, opening it with her unlocking device, and dashes for the control room.
René begins to install her program when a powerful tremor is felt throughout Cocoon with the fal'Cie Eden's death and the world begins falling. The cities' evacuation areas escape the adverse effects of the acceleration with the AMP tech at its maximum output. However, in parts of the cities not subjected to gravitational control, buildings crumble and roads ripple, seas gush, and mountains come apart and fall towards the sky. Then a torrid wind blows throughout Cocoon. René closes her eyes and she and the rest of Cocoon pray to be saved by a miracle. Her vision turns white, she falls unconscious, and the world goes dark.
Feeling a gentle breeze on her face, she is woken up by a voice and finds herself laying on thick grass. She is awestruck by the sight of Cocoon suspended by a giant crystal pillar, realizing that it stopped Cocoon from crashing onto Gran Pulse, a world that she sees is not the hellscape it was believed to be. Meanwhile, the military helps people descend and settle. Wearing camera goggles and holding a microphone, Aoede calls out to René. Planning to make a documentary, the journalist asks how René is feeling after saving the people of Cocoon. René demands her to stop filming since she hasn't been able to shower for weeks.
Now realizing she survived her ordeal and is 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 made by René and the l'Cie. 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 easy lives they had under the fal'Cie, but René says that's fine since it's how mankind should be living. To René's annoyance, Aoede has been recording the whole time.
Cielo calls her from overhead as he pilots his airship and dodges any Pulsian creatures that get close. Aoede reveals Cielo was the one who flew René out of Cocoon and waited for her to wake up but got restless and left before Aoede arrived. Aoede informs René that Cielo will re-extend his invitation before bidding farewell and running over to where NORA and others are setting up camp to get more footage. Realizing that Aoede stayed with her and waited for her to process her whole ordeal, René understands she can no longer go on alone and mankind 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 that she did hear him earlier, René accepts his offer for a date and tells him to pick her up. While he lowers his airship towards her, René feels free from her sorrows as this day marks the rebirth of humanity as people begin new lives on their own terms on Gran Pulse.
René means "born again" in French. It is a common first name in French-, Spanish-, and German-speaking countries, deriving from the Latin name Renatus. It alludes to René becoming a new person after enduring hardships.