Final Fantasy XIII Side Story: A Dreaming Cocoon Falls into the Dawn is a multi-chaptered novella in the Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania Omega written by Benny Matsuyama. It features stories of the experiences of a number of individuals in Cocoon beginning with the announcement of the Purge and happening concurrently with the subsequent journey of the Pulse l'Cie.
- Aoede - an aspiring journalist with some experience as a regional video news reporter who wants the chance to make a compelling report of her own and boost her career.
- René - a somewhat arrogant 17-year-old girl prodigy attending the university in Eden who is forced to go on the run after unwittingly attracting the ire of the fal'Cie.
- Cielo - a young air freight pilot who admires Sazh Katzroy.
- NORA - a neighborhood watch group from Bodhum turned vigilantes against the Sanctum.
The Price for Pursuing the TruthEdit
Aoede feels the news in Cocoon is never questioned, so she is waiting for the chance to capture footage for a report of her own that would invite criticism and allow people to make their own judgments. Her chance comes when the Sanctum announces the discovery of a Pulse fal'Cie within a vestige located in Bodhum, and initiates the Purge to remove anyone who may have been "tainted."
Contrary to the rest of Cocoon, Aoede questions everything about the Purge, and doesn't believe it to be a forced migration to Pulse as the Sanctum proclaims. Making her way to the outer perimeter of the blockades placed around Bodhum, Aoede gathers bits of information that support her skepticism, such as members of the Sanctum, military, and their families being exempt from the Purge, and that tens of thousands of traceable restraint garments were made for the Purgees to wear, as though the Purge clothing was made in advance before the Sanctum's announcement. Aoede theorizes that the Purge was an elaborate ploy by the Sanctum to instill more fear of Gran Pulse into the populace and maintain control over Cocoon. Believing that no one would be Purged, she fits herself with hidden cameras, sneaks into Bodhum, and boards a Purge train, hoping to make a documentary that would boost her reputation as a reporter.
Onboard the Purge train, Aoede secretly records the anger, fear, and despair of the Purgees. When the train comes to a halt at the Hanging Edge, Aoede discovers her hunch about the Purge was right, but also finds out the gruesome truth as chaos unfolds around her; an explosion sounds in the distance, the Purgees revolt against the PSICOM soldiers, taking their weapons and escaping. After removing her Purge clothing, Aoede leaves the train car and steps onto a skybridge, seeing the Hanging Edge turned into a warzone. She witnesses Sanctum attack ships directing their gunfire at the rebelling Purgees and realizes the Sanctum never intended to exile them from Cocoon, and that the Purge was a way to cover up their plot to take the supposedly tainted civilians to the restricted area and enact a concealed genocide.
Realizing her foolishness for plunging herself into her situation, Aoede can only stand in a daze and watch the carnage unfold around her. An attack vessel locks on to her but she is moved out of the way before the pilot fires and she escapes with her saviors, the members of NORA. In the midst of 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. With her will to live restored by Lebreau's confidence, Aoede asks NORA to let her go with them and they accept her into their group. From this point on, Aoede promises herself that she will record everything that happens. Even if she sacrifices herself in the name of journalism, there is the chance her footage will get circulated and serve to shatter the public's blind faith in the Sanctum.
As Aoede runs through the battlefield, a single thought comes to mind: the Sanctum must have known they wouldn't be able to hide the truth about the Purge, and Galenth Dysley and the other Sanctum leaders had already decided they didn't care about suffering 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 to be nothing more but the beginning of a huge conspiracy, one in which even more people will die, something that would make the Purge pale in comparison. Guided by NORA, Aoede and other surviving Purgees escape the battlefield and take refuge in a crevice in the ground.
Messengers of the PurgeEdit
Ever since losing her parents at a young age and growing up in a Sanctum-run orphanage, René has been considered a genius by all who know her, skipping several grades and finishing high school in just over a year. She is a realist who considers dreaming of fantasies and believing in miracles to be "the height of stupidity." Since childhood, she has always seen herself as superior to others as no one has been able to match her intelligence, and thus she sought to escape the orphanage in her hometown of Bodhum. René aspires to become a member of the Sanctum and rise to a position that would allow her to participate in government operations and apply her knowledge of Antimatter Manipulation Principle technology.
As she enters the library to view documents on AMP models, the announcement for the Purge of Bodhum has been made. Worrying about a junior school classmate she knew from the orphanage, René tries to distract herself by working. She begins developing theories and unconsciously types them in a open text file on a terminal, theories stating that the fal'Cie don't care for human lives and allowed the population to grow to large numbers to fulfill a goal that required the loss of lives on a grand scale, and in the near future, 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 to get her ID card, she notices she is the only one there. A metallic statue appears before her and proclaims 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 entrance doors. 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 tells them 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. The revelation causes René to tremble with fear and leaves her too shocked to call out to anyone to her aid again as the fal'Cie reaches towards her.
Unbeknownst to René, at the same time, the Pulse fal'Cie Anima had been defeated by a group of people within the Pulse Vestige in the Hanging Edge. The great energy wave it released sweeps throughout Cocoon and the fal'Cie feel its effects and cease to function, including the exterminator fal'Cie. René escapes through the streets of Eden into the night. Unable to return home, René resolves to survive and find somewhere to hide under the fal'Cie's radar.
Cielo has been grounded by an air-traffic controller right before takeoff, so he decides to rest up in his airship's cockpit. Ever since Sazh, a fellow pilot, had gone on leave over a week ago, Cielo has been working overtime to pick up the slack. The flights Cielo pilots are being regulated and delayed ever since the Purge took place the other day. Worried that Sazh might have been swept up in the Purge, Cielo dismisses the notion as Sazh previously mentioned going to Euride Gorge with his son Dajh, and believes that he would have heard of something happening to Sazh due to the news of an accident at Euride.
Cielo is awakened from his daydream by a call from the control tower giving him permission to take off. Now airborne, Cielo flies towards the destination of the packages, the city of Eden. He spots a speeding military aircraft that appears to leave from the remote area around Lake Bresha, and receives an order to make an emergency stop. He sees unmanned PSICOM attack ships in pursuit of the unknown airship. Cielo figures the airship is being piloted by a person as he watches it outmaneuver the PSICOM ships by guiding them into the molten plasma of the fal'Cie Phoenix. He watches the spectacle from the edge of his seat, admiring the skills of the mystery pilot and secretly cheers for those being chased by PSICOM. The airship is struck by approaching reinforcements and falls towards the Vile Peaks, prompting Cielo to pray for the safety of those on board.
Undercover Stray CatsEdit
After breaking through PSICOM's defenses, Aoede, NORA, and a portion of the surviving Purgees escape the Hanging Edge and hide inside an ancient Pulsian building that was inserted between the layers of Cocoon's outer shell during its construction, a large vestige that "shouldn't" exist and the perfect place for the Purge survivors to lay low and wait out the army's search efforts. Gadot, a member of NORA, leads a combat team to ensure everyone's safety and food and supplies are sent through Lenora's Garage, a shop maintained by fellow NORA member, Maqui. Aoede continues to record everything as the footage could persuade the people of Cocoon to turn against the Sanctum and the fal'Cie. She believes NORA's way of life of refusing the charity of the fal’Cie and looking after themselves would be the key to guide the people into a new era. Suspicions of a Sanctum conspiracy grow stronger as everyone realizes the Pulse Vestige went uninvestigated for centuries, and that a dormant fal'Cie residing within seems like a coincidence, concluding that the Sanctum knew of its existence and waited for the right moment to fake its discovery and set the Purge into motion.
By hacking the Sanctum's information channels through his own network, Maqui taps into a live feed and projects a hologram of a broadcast from Palumpolum being captured by a military surveillance camera. The footage depicts a plaza turned into a warzone as a pillar of ice conjured by magic freezes everything, the sounds of gunfire and screams from confused soldiers, and a Pulse l'Cie. NORA recognizes the l'Cie as Snow. Now being a friend by association, Aoede considers the feelings of NORA seeing their leader as a l'Cie and thinks to stop recording. Just as she is about to stop filming, 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 plummeted into Lake Bresha, the news of his survival brings relief to NORA. Aoede sees all that matters to them is that Snow is alive, not that he was made 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. From the footage, Aoede knows that Snow is going to take the fight directly to the Sanctum and NORA most likely wants to build a resistance movement to help him. As the Sanctum's troops are likely concentrated around Palumpolum, leaving holes in the 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 set out for Eden.
The Trapped TabernacleEdit
Around the time the remaining Pulse l'Cie begin storming their way into the Palamecia to rescue Sazh and Vanille, René has continued evading the fal'Cie for several days by escaping through the network of maintenance tunnels located beneath Eden. The maze of underground passages have no surveillance cameras, therefore leaving the fal'Cie unable to pinpoint her location.
Hiding from her fal'Cie pursuers, René discovers she has the gift for playing cat and mouse, and had not realized her own potential until now was because, as a child at the orphanage, she would rather spend her time broadening her mind instead of partaking in childish games. The fal'Cie tasked with killing René has been after her ever since the events at the library. Now she can run from them while taking the time to observe its actions and gain an understanding of its abilities. From watching how the fal'Cie destroyed the stool she shoved in its gears before going after her, René knows she can escape while keeping a fair amount of distance from it.