Part 12Update 12: Following the Blue Light Road (Polsy)
Tension in the Air
The Gapra Whitewood
A Strategy for Change
Rejecting the fate chosen for her by the fal'Cie and set on exacting revenge on her cold-blooded government, Lightning enters the Gapra Whitewood along with Hope.
It seems they've managed to lose their PSICOM trackers, but the Whitewood is a Sanctum military zone, and their chances of encountering hostile units are high. Yet what choice do they have? It's the only road that leads to the Sanctum capital.
Lightning now intends to fight on Hope's behalf after Odin's appearance forces her to rethink her decision to leave the boy behind.
But she isn't the only one to have had a change of heart.
Having relied on Lightning for protection from the beginning, Hope resolves not to flinch from danger, choosing instead to put himself squarely in the line of fire.
Sensing the shift in his attitude, Lightning entrusts the lead to her young companion.
Weapon of Choice?
Taking the lead of his own free will, Hope precedes Lightning into the depths of the Gapra Whitewood.
He needs to be stronger.
Hope joins Lightning in her fight against the Sanctum because he thinks the experience of battle will toughen him up.
He cannot show fear. He cannot show weakness.
If he does, he's afraid Lightning will decide to go on without him again. So, even if it is a lie, he puts on a brave face, and pushes his terror aside.
Seeing that he is struggling to control his fear, Lightning gives Hope a knife in an attempt to boost his confidence.
The Price of Vanity
A Woodlands Observation Battalion patrol passes by. Strangely enough, the soldiers don't appear to be looking for intruders.
From her own experience as a soldier, Lightning realizes why: these troops still don't know about the l'Cie fugitives.
PSICOM, wishing to cover their failure to exterminate them in the Vile Peaks, is suppressing information. As an elite unit under the direct command of the Sanctum, PSICOM has its reputation to consider.
That pride has left a hole in the security net for Lightning and Hope to sneak through.
It seems their journey through the Gapra Whitewood will be easier than expected. After all the ill fortune that has befallen them so far, they're certainly due some luck...
Thanks to PSICOM's reluctance to share intelligence, the security level of the Gapra Whitewood is comparatively low.
Now that they have a little space to breathe, Lightning and Hope ponder the fates of their fellow l'Cie. Sazh and Vanille must still be on the run. And who knows how Snow must be faring?
Out of the blue, Hope asks Lightning why Snow's gang calls itself NORA.
Though puzzled by his sudden interest, Lightning supplies him with the answer: it's an acronym that stands for 'No Obligations, Rules, or Authority.' They wish to live without restrictions, she explains, though some might argue that what they really wish is to live without responsibility.
Hope's face darkens at this explanation. Spurred on by his agitation, he hurries onwards through the waiting gate. Where's an enemy when you need one? He needs an outlet for the anger that suddenly threatens to consume him.
The Thirteen Days: Day 2 - Opposition
Snow was overjoyed to meet the older sister of his beloved Serah, but Lightning was far from impressed. She had never approved of him or his group's unsanctioned activities. As far as Lightning was concerned, NORA's actions of hunting down weak monsters and acting like heroes were reckless and irresponsible.
She wanted Snow to forget about dating her sister, but the young man just laughed away at her demands. His flippant attitude did nothing but reinforce her original impression.
Locales: The Gapra Whitewood
The Gapra Whitewood is the border zone that separates the wilderness of the Vile Peaks from the civilization of Palumpolum. Under the jurisdiction of the Sanctum military, the Whitewood serves as an experimental facility for conducting research into bioweapons.
The security of this classified area is built in the design - the paths winding through the trees are deliberately confusing, causing intruders to become hopelessly lost.
Cocoon Society: Woodlands Observation Battalion
This unit is part of the Guardian Corps, but unlike the Bodhum Security Regiment, the Woodlands Observation Battalion patrols non-residential areas. Its main duty is to prevent wild creatures from encroaching on suburban districts.
The battalion also provides the bulk of security personnel for the Gapra Whitewood bioweapon research facility, despite the facility's status as a PSICOM-run initiative.