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Lightning and Sazh's successful derailment of the Purge train from Bodhum at the Hanging Edge sets off a massive response from local PSICOM troops. Meanwhile, the underground resistance group known as NORA attempts to hold PSICOM at bay as the survivors evacuate. By chance, the pair meets NORA frontman Snow Villiers, along with Bodhum tourist Hope Estheim, whose mother was killed in the conflict; and Oerba Dia Vanille, whose circumstances are yet a mystery. In their flight from authorities, the five crash into a Pulse Vestige outside the city. There, Snow finds his fiancée and Lightning's sister, Serah Farron, who turns to crystal almost on sight, for she has led them to the fal'Cie Anima. Lightning, Sazh, Snow, and Hope battle the fal'Cie, only to be marked as l'Cie and given a Focus to complete.
The aftermath of the battle with Anima sends the team and the Vestige plummeting to Lake Bresha, which crystalizes the area on impact. Snow, meanwhile, runs off to figure out what the visions of the Focus mean and how to free Serah. PSICOM is not far behind, though, and the party is ambushed by a Garuda Interceptor, which they quickly dispatch.
As Snow struggles with the gravity of his new existence as a l'Cie, the brand on his wrist burns brightly, calling the twin eidolons Shiva into being. The sisters test him, and he succeeds, gaining their aid.
Some time later, Lightning and Hope are separated from the group at the Vile Peaks, mountains of long-dead machinery once used in an ancient war. Hope decides to follow her as a means of furthering his plan for revenge on Snow, whom he implicates in his mother's death. PSICOM forces pursue them, but Hope inadvertently activates an intact mech, which they fight and defeat. Hope uses the husk to scatter the pursuit force, albeit by sheer luck.
Frustrated by Hope's persistent questioning and his refusal to leave her alone, Lightning lashes out at him. This causes her to double over in pain as the brand on her heart begins to glow. Odin appears to test her willingness to protect Hope. The pair succeeds, and Lightning gains Odin's trust and becomes his master.
- If the player brought Lightning to the battle against fal'Cie Anima, she would incorrectly refer to Serah as "Sarah". This localization error is possibly due to "Serah" and "Sarah" having a single character difference. Near the event's end, this error was corrected and Lightning properly called her sister by name.