Storyline - FF9

Five Thousand Years Ago:
-The great civilization of Terra begins to decline. Scientists forecast the inevitable destruction of Terra. They decide to seal themselves in a deep sleep and appoint a single Terran named Garland to watch over their souls. Garland also watches over the Genomes, soulless bodies meant to inhabit the Terran souls when they finally awake. (The Genomes have tails, for some reason.) Terra is destroyed, but Garland goes in search of a new world which can support the citizens of Terra.
-He finds such a world called Gaia. His plan is to destroy the life energy of Gaia and let Terra take it over. He first tries to do so forcefully, but fails. He decides to take control of the life cycle of souls of Gaia, slowly replacing it with Terra's. To do so, the people of Gaia themselves must destroy one another through war.
-He installs a magical tree called the Iifa Tree which divides the life cycle of Gaia; it blocks Gaia's souls and replaces them with Terra's souls. The stagnant souls of Gaia are ejected in a form called Mist, which eventually covers an entire continent. Eventually the summoners from the village of Madain Sari erect a seal preventing the Iifa Tree from being tampered with (for reasons unknown; possibly they considered it a holy place, like the dwarfs of Conde Petie did). They try to seal it with the powerful eidolon Leviathan, but fail; they leave it there in a stone statue and use Carbuncle instead.

Five Hundred Years Ago:
-A large tribe of hunters finally settles down, establishing a city called Lindblum. A man named Cid Fabool creates the annual Festival of the Hunt, to commemmorate their origins. He and his sons become the leaders of Lindblum in their future generations.

One Generation Ago:
-Cid VIII, an engineer, learns to harness the Mist to power airships. Soon Lindblum is the center of a vast airship commerce network. No one realizes the Mist's true origins.

24 Years Ago:
-A genome created by Garland proves to be too volatile for his use as a true Genome. Instead, Garland gives him a soul and sends him to Gaia to induce chaos and havoc. However, he is built faulty and mad with power, and is intended to run down as soon as his job is done.

24-18 Years Ago:
-Kuja rebels against Garland and his origins. He hides his tail, and, angered by Garland's intent to control him, plots to return to Terra and overthrow him (while still achieving his goal of chaos in Gaia). He searches for the mystic eidolons, magic creatures which can only be called into existence by summoners. He discovers the existence of Alexander, a huge eidolon guarding Alexandria Castle, and learns that it is sealed by four crystal shards scattered among nobles of the Mist Continent. Garland learns of Kuja's quest and vows to destroy the eidolons he seeks.

18 Years Ago:
-Garland uses the Invincible against the summoner village of Madain Sari, to prevent them falling into Kuja's hands. The village is destroyed, with very few survivors. One is Sara, who is cast adrift in a boat with her parents, both of whom perish. A family of three (a husband and wife, and a father) also survive and live in Madain Sari, which soon has a small population of moogles.

18 to 6 Years Ago:
-Sara is washed up on the shore near Alexandria Castle. Queen Brahne notices that she is identical to her daughter Garnet, who had just passed away, except for the horn on her forehead. She and her husband decide to adopt Sara as Princess Garnet. Brahne's husband notices the tiny horn on the girl's forehead and orders it removed.
-Kuja begins experimenting with his own ironic weapons: special Black Mages. These are automatons similar to Genomes, capable of performing magical acts of extreme destruction. They are created by using the properties of Mist. Kuja builds the factory underground in the town of Dali, paying the villagers handsomely to quit their farming and work there instead. Nearly all the villagers jump at the opportunity.

12 Years Ago:
-Another Genome is created by Garland, one whose power surpasses even Kuja; his given name is Zidane. Garland intends for him to be the avenging angel to finish the job Kuja started. Kuja, upon arriving back to Bran Bal and seeing Zidane's power, grows jealous and casts him into Gaia, the very world he wishes to destroy. He knows that if he can finish the job before Zidane grows up, he will have proved his purpose of existence. He lets Zidane live to be able to gloat to him when it is finished.
-Zidane is picked up in Lindblum by the members of Tantalus. Tantalus is a traveling bandit group masquerading as playwrights and stage actors. Baku, the bearded head of Tantalus, brings up Zidane as a father. Other members eventually include Ruby, the Southern belle; Marcus, a pointy-eared vigilante; Cinna, a hammer-loving gastronome; Blank, a visored tough guy; and hog-faced twins, Benero and Zenero.

6 Years Ago:
-While a cargo of Black Mages are being transported via airship in the Treno area, a small prototype falls off and is snagged by Quan, a master of the Qu tribe. (Qu are a strange-looking tribe dedicated to gastronomic enlightenment.) Quan names the child Vivi and takes it to live with him (eschewing his office in the nearby Qu Marsh, and leaving his student Quale in charge). He finds that Vivi teaches him much about life he never knew due to his insights. Eventually the old man dies and Vivi is left alone.
-The husband and wife survivors of Madain Sari beget a daughter named Eiko, who becomes close friends with the moogles. Soon afterwards, they and Eiko's grandfather pass away. An eidolon named Madeen, present at Eiko's birth, vows to watch over her, and takes over the body of a moogle named Mog to be her guardian.

In The Last Few Years:
-Several other Black Mages eventually become sentient and decide to break away from Kuja's grasp. They build a small village in the forest on the Outer Continent, deep inside, and hide away from Kuja.
-On an excursion to the city of Treno, Zidane executes a heist in the opera house. The bouncer, a surly redhead named Amarant, tries to pick a fight, but Zidane tricks him and runs away. Amarant is intrigued by Zidane's attitude in the short conversation he has with him, and resolves to find him again.
-Freya, a Burmecian (a rat-like race) is saddened when her lover Sir Fratley leaves to see the world. Eventually she leaves as well, and takes up residence in Lindblum near the Tantalus headquarters. She keeps searching for Fratley in the years she lives away from her home.
-Kuja, satisfied with his latest batch of Black Mages, strikes up a deal with Queen Brahne of Alexandria. He corrupts her mind with ideas of greed, and tells her that the four crystal shards (which he intends to collect to release Alexander and capture it) are the key to incredible power. She falls under his spell and begins to take every possible step to get the four shards (and any eidolons along the way, as well). One of the shards is held by her daughter Garnet, one by her brother-in-law, Regent Cid IX of Lindblum; one is in Burmecia, and one is held by Eiko in Madain Sari.
-Doctor Tot, the tutor of Princess Garnet, fearing the queen, leaves Alexandria. He pursues his research in Treno, and eventually is financed by the Bishop family.

One Year Ago:
-Garland creates a third Genome named Mikoto, a far more cold-hearted design than either Kuja or Zidane. She is intended to take over the job of creating chaos when Zidane also finally runs down.

Six Months Ago:
-Cid's long-suffering wife, Hilda (who's also a magician) finally gets fed up with Cid's womanizing and turns him into an oglop (a small bouncy squishy bug thingie) with a big moustache. She then leaves in a huff, taking with her the Hilda Garde, an experimental airship that works on steam power. She is later captured by Kuja, who steals the airship.

-Cid begins to notice Brahne's mood, and is frightened for Garnet's sake. He hires Tantalus to put on a show of Lord Avon's play "I Want To Be Your Canary", and under that guise, to kidnap Garnet during her 16th birthday party, and take her back to Lindblum. (Note that the "real" Garnet would be 16, while Sara is actually older than that.) Only Baku knows of the real reason behind the kidnapping; the rest of the troupe assumes it's a routine ransom situation. Marcus is to play the lead, Blank is to distract the audience using a swarm of oglops, and he and Zidane are to capture the princess. The other Tantalus members also act in the play. Here's a rundown of how it plays this time through:

-King Leo (Baku) promises his daughter, Princess Cornelia (Ruby), to Prince Schneider (no one?). However, Cordelia has fallen in love with Marcus, a commoner. Marcus's three friends aid him in an assault on King Leo, which proves a failure. The friend played by Blank begins to think that perhaps having Cornelia marry Schneider would be best for the country, but the one played by Zidane argues and a fight ensues. Zidane chases Blank offstage.
-Dejected, Marcus visits Cornelia later that in her chambers. However, Leo's two guards (played by Benero and Zenero) catch him and bring him to the king. Leo declares the death penalty on Marcus.
-Unbeknownst to Tantalus and Cid, Garnet has decided to run away to Lindblum herself. Vivi is also in town to see the play, having been sold a ticket by a shady character. Unfortunately, the ticket is a fake.
-Vivi meets a rat-boy named Puck in an alley. Puck is the prince of Burmecia, but is traveling around by himself as a commoner. He tells Vivi that he'll take him on as a slave, and Vivi agrees confusedly. Puck grabs a ladder used by a carpenter and hauls it to a nearby cathedral, where he climbs up to the roofs of Alexandria. They pop down and sneak into the show.
-After the fight scene where Zidane chases Blank offscreen, they run right into the palace! They put the guards to sleep and steal their uniforms. They meet a hooded Princess Garnet, whose identity they realize belatedly and chase after her.
-Queen Brahne wonders where Garnet is and sends Steiner and his Knights of Pluto to search for her. He eventually finds her being chased by Zidane on one of the towers. Garnet jumps off the tower and grabs a nearby streamer, riding it to the Tantalus backstage; Zidane follows. Steiner tries to go after them, but his heavy armor causes him to crash into a wall on the way.
-Zidane finally catches up with Garnet and finds out that Garnet actually wants him to kidnap her! Of course, he complies. However, they're visited by Steiner and his knights (one of which is Blank, disguised). Cinna helps the two escape through a hatch. Blank volunteers to go first, but claims to be stuck, allowing them to escape.
-Steiner takes a side door and catches them yet again, confronting Blank as well. However, when he gets angry and starts using an Armor Break technique, Blank's armor is destroyed, releasing a swarm of oglops. Steiner has oglopophobia, and goes nuts, allowing the Tantalus members and Garnet to escape.
-The only place out is back on stage, and Zidane and co. wing it, making Garnet play Cornelia and changing the ending just a tad. Here's what happens:
-When Marcus is caught by Leo's guards, Zidane, Garnet, and Steiner arrive. Zidane resumes his role of Marcus's friend, Garnet plays Cornelia, and Steiner unwittingly plays Schneider. Marcus and Zidane overpower the guards. Cornelia embraces Marcus, but even this show of love does not move the king. Marcus attacks the king, but Cornelia places herself in front of his sword, claiming she still loves her father. Marcus stabs himself, and the king and Schneider weep over the lost princess.
-However, despite the crowd's (and Brahne's) cheering, the play ends in disaster when Vivi and Puck are found and are chased onstage. Vivi lets loose with a Fire spell and accidentally burns Garnet's hood off, exposing her! Steiner attacks Zidane and Vivi, but the Tantalus troupe escapes on their Prima Vista airship, with Vivi, Garnet, and Steiner onboard!
-Queen Brahne lets loose with a giant Bomb which explodes, heavily damaging the Theatre Ship. The Prima Vista crash-lands in the nearby Evil Forest. Queen Brahne sets Kuja's three Black Waltzes (three super-smart and super-powerful Black Mages with wings) to search for Garnet and destroy anything in their paths to get her.
-Everyone survives, but Garnet and Vivi land far from the others. Steiner goes out looking for them, and Zidane quickly follows him. They come up against a monster which attacks Garnet and Vivi, and Garnet is captured inside the cage-like body. They fight it, but too late; it runs off with Garnet. Another cage monster then arrives and swallows Vivi! They defeat it, but before it dies it sprays Vivi and Steiner with a sporous substance which is designed to grow within the body, eventually killing it. Zidane takes the two unconscious people and returns to the Prima Vista.
-Steiner is taken to the storage room in the Prima Vista, and Vivi to a nearby bedroom. Blank makes up the potion which destroys the virus they were given, and they both take it (Steiner quite reluctantly). Zidane decides to search for Garnet in the forest, but Baku refuses to let him. Zidane finally tells him he'd rather quit Tantalus and go search for Garnet. Baku attacks him, but Zidane defends himself and wins the fight (well... Baku lets him win). Baku finally agrees to let him look for her. Zidane enlists the help of Steiner and Vivi to search for her. Before he leaves, Blank gives him a vial of his medicine to cure Garnet with.
-After Zidane leaves, Baku tells Blank to follow him and make sure he makes it out okay. He complies.
-Zidane and group reach the center of the Evil Forest and discover Garnet in the clutches of the Plant Brain. They destroy the creature and revive Garnet with Blank's medicine, but the rest of the plants begin to come after them. A high-speed chase ensues, with Blank arriving in time to help them escape. However, Blank is too slow, and is captured by the forest. He throws a map at Zidane a split second before being grabbed by creepers. The entire forest then petrifies itself, taking Blank with it.
-Zidane, Vivi, Steiner, and Garnet rest up during the night and decide to head towards Lindblum again. The only way there is through the nearby Ice Cavern. Inside, Vivi helps them get through by using his Fire magic to melt ice walls. Near the end of the cavern, though, they are met by the first of the three Black Waltzes, who puts the party to sleep. Zidane wakes up, confronts the Black Waltz and his cohort (an ice creature), and defeats them. The other party members wake up as well. They leave the cavern. Garnet decides to choose a new name for herself, and ends up taking Dagger (inspired by Zidane's weapon).
-They head through South Gate to the village of Dali. They rest at the inn, but in the middle of the night Zidane awakes to hear Dagger singing to herself. The next day, the party splits up. Dagger tries to mingle with the populace and to start sounding more "commoner-like". Vivi begins exploring, and is confused when he hears a Chocobo call from underground. He is captured by Kuja's workers (who think he escaped the current batch of Black Mages being made underground) and is taken back to the underground workshop.
-Steiner tries to gather information. First he helps out the girl in the pub, who tells him that old man Morrid in the nearby observation tower would know how to get to Alexandria. He heads there and questions Morrid, who lets out that a cargo ship goes back and forth between Dali and Alexandria. Now all Steiner has to do is get Dagger on the ship.
-Dagger and Zidane search for Vivi, and finally hear him crying through a hole in the ground. They head through the hatch in the mayor's house to the underground workshop. They rescue Vivi, but discover the Black Mages (not yet activated) being created; Vivi begins to have existential doubts. They also find the Chocobos used to power the machines.
-They hear someone coming, so Zidane shoves them into the nearby machine and follows after them; they are ensconced in a barrel and carried to the cargo ship, where Steiner already waits. He is suspicious of the barrels and investigates them, when Zidane breaks out and helps the others to do so as well. Steiner lies to Zidane and tells him the ship is headed for Lindblum. Before they can board, though, they are attacked by Black Waltz #2, whom they dispatch.
-Steiner goes off to secure their passage on the cargo ship, but the ship is manned by Black Mages, who ignore him. The other three manage to snag the ship just as it takes off, though. Vivi tries to talk to the Black Mages, but they cannot respond.
-Black Waltz #3 makes a surprise attack by flying onto the cargo ship and threatening the party. The Black Waltz threatens Vivi, but surprisingly the Black Mages onboard try to protect him. They are summarily destroyed and thrown overboard by the Black Waltz. Vivi goes nuts and attacks the Waltz. Zidane and Steiner head out to help him, leaving Dagger to pilot the ship to Lindblum. They defeat the Waltz and throw him off the side of the ship.
-Zorn and Thorn, Queen Brahne's very strange jester sidekicks, are following behind in a Mist-powered motorcycle-like airship. They become alarmed and jump off when Black Waltz #3 (enraged and insane by the damage done to him) lands on it and takes it over, chasing after the Cargo Ship. After a suspenseful chase, the Cargo Ship makes it through Lindblum's South Gate, but the Waltz crashes into it, heavily damaging both the Waltz's ship and South Gate.
-Upon entering Lindblum Grand Castle, Dagger shows her pendant to the guards, and Minister Artania, Cid's chancellor, is summoned. He takes them to Cid (everyone's surprised to learn that he's an oglop), who explains the situation with Brahne and Kuja. He tells everyone to rest up for the moment. Dagger is taken to the guest room in the castle and told not to leave the castle for her own sake.
-Zidane takes in the bar scene (unable to stomach the rich food at the castle) and meets Freya, an old friend. She's in town for the Festival of the Hunt, wherein monsters are released into the Lindblum city and hunted down for a prize. After some reminiscence, Zidane leaves to explore the rest of Lindblum. Not much has changed. Steiner and Vivi also explore, with Steiner getting lost and Vivi going shopping; he gets a free Kupo Nut along the way.
-Zidane heads back to the castle to talk to Dagger. He hears her singing in the top floor of the castle, but isn't allowed up there. He knocks out a guard, steals his uniform, and makes his way upstairs. He speaks with Dagger for a bit, looking through the nearby telescope. He mentions the sleeping herb Tantalus was planning on using to knock her out. Dagger claims she's had some problems sleeping lately and asks for some; Zidane gives her.
-Zidane makes a blunder and mistakes Dagger for another girl he was speaking to at the bar; she gets fairly miffed. To make up for it, he says he'll make a deal with her: if he wins the Festival of the Hunt, she'll go on a date with him. She agrees. Zidane, Freya, and Vivi as well are enrolled in the Hunt. (Any of the three can win, but other than the prize no story difference is apparent; Dagger never dates any of them. 8-))
-After the Festival, a soldier arrives with news: Burmecia is being attacked by Brahne, who wants the crystal shard they own. Freya instantly volunteers to head there; Zidane and the rest decide to come with her to find out more about Brahne's intentions. Dagger also wishes to join, but Zidane refuses to let her.
-At the goodbye feast, Dagger slips some sleeping herb into everyone's food besides Steiner's. She feels bad, but her mind's made up: she heads off with Steiner to Alexandria to try to talk some sense into Brahne.
-Freya tells Zidane that they must head through Gizamaluke's Grotto to reach Burmecia. Inside, though, they are met by Black Mages, as well as Zorn and Thorn again. They rescue Moguta, a moogle, from a giant bell, at the behest of his wife Mogmi (using Vivi's Kupo Nut to lure him out). They eventually encounter Gizamaluke himself (a water creature), has been brainwashed by Brahne and has become violent. They are forced to kill him to proceed.
-In the meantime, Steiner smuggles Dagger through South Gate by stuffing her in a jar full of Gysahl Pickles (the guards don't want to go near it). They head for Summit Station, a ski-lodge-type of place which has electronic cars; one goes to Alexandria and one to Treno.
-Zidane and co. make it to Burmecia, where they find the buildings in ruins. Only a few survivors are around, and Zidane and Freya help them escape. They eventually come across Brahne and Kuja, who are debating about where all the Burmecians have escaped to, and decide that they must have entered the secret Cleyra colony. Zidane and Freya try to stop them, but are attacked by Beatrix, who leaves them knocked out on the floor and leaves with Brahne and Kuja.
-At Summit Station, Dagger finds Marcus and Cinna. They're looking for the legendary Supersoft, which can supposedly un-petrify anything. They intend to use it on Blank. Marcus is headed to Treno to look for it, while Cinna is going back to Linblum to tell the other Tantalus members about it. Cinna keeps missing his car back to Lindblum, though, being infatuated with South Gate Bundt Cake. (Eventually Baku tracks him down and punishes him for his laziness.) Dagger offers to help him. Before they reach Treno, however, the car is stopped by Black Waltz #3! It's gone insane, but Dagger, Steiner, and Marcus dispatch it, then keep going towards Treno.
-Marcus and Baku have discovered that Supersoft is in the keeping of a baron who lives in Treno. Steiner is dead set against stealing it, but is overruled by the other two. While exploring the city, Dagger meets Kuja once more in the auction house, which is owned by him. Kuja notices her as well, and realizes he has a crush on her.
-Marcus, Baku, Dagger, and Steiner break into the baron's house only to find Doctor Tot, Dagger's old tutor, inside! Tot tells them to meet him at his tower residence nearby. They do so; Tot gives them the Supersoft and tells them about a secret way into Alexandria, the Gargan Roo. Using a huge insect-like creature called a gargant, they can ride it all the way into Alexandria via an underground tunnel. On the way, they stop to destroy an Aztec-looking snake that blocks the way.
-They reach Alexandria, but are caught in a trap by Zorn and Thorn. Dagger is taken to Queen Brahne, and Steiner and Marcus are captured and put in a metal cage.
-Meanwhile: Zidane and co. travel to Cleyra; it's on top of a huge, gnarled tree, surrounded by a perpetual sandstorm. They make their way up the trunk and into Cleyra. Freya is taken to meet the king of Burmecia, who escaped here, while Zidane explores. He's called in to an emergency, though: Puck, who found his way here when he heard of Burmecia's attack, is caught by a giant antlion. Zidane rescues him.
-Freya partakes in a magical dance used to strengthen the perpetual sandstorm... but the harp (powered by one of the four crystal shards) breaks, and the sandstorm disappears.
-Brahne takes Dagger to a special underground room where Zorn and Thorn extract the eidolons locked inside her for the use of Brahne and Kuja. Dagger falls into a semi-coma.
-Brahne and Beatrix take the Red Rose airship and attack Burmecia from the air, luring Zidane and his party into the gnarled trunk to give them and their Black Mages free reign up top. The tide of the battle is turned by Sir Fratley, who shows up unexpectedly. Freya discovers he has acute amnesia and can't remember her or anything else.
-Beatrix takes the jewel from the harp and runs. Zidane and friends attack Beatrix but are defeated again. They see Beatrix and the Black Mages teleporting back to the Red Rose, and, acting quickly, they snag a ride in one of the teleportation bubbles, finding their way back in the Red Rose. They arrive just in time to see Brahne use Odin, one of her new eidolons, to destroy Cleyra. They also overhear Brahne ordering Dagger's execution. Beatrix begins to have strong doubts about Brahne's convictions. Zidane and company use the teleporters to travel to Alexandria to try to rescue Dagger.
-Steiner and Marcus break out of their cage by swinging it from side to side. Marcus leaves to try to rescue Blank, and Steiner is surprised when he sees Zidane, Vivi, and Freya arrive! They quickly head to Dagger's underground chamber, defeat Zorn and Thorn, and take Dagger with them. Back in the castle, they are accosted by Beatrix one more time. They defeat her and have a heart-to-heart talk with her; Beatrix finally agrees that Brahne is wrong. Brahne appears and orders Beatrix to kill Dagger, but she refuses. Zorn and Thorn appear and summon a monster to attack Beatrix; she is aided by Freya.
-While the two soldiers ward off Brahne, Zidane, Steiner, Vivi, and Dagger head back down towards the Gargan Roo. Halfway down, Steiner stops and requests permission to help Beatrix and Freya; he heads back up while the other three continue down. The three soldiers are stuck in the castle, but manage to ward off attacks long enough to allow Marcus and Blank to rescue them.
-Zidane, Vivi, and Dagger ride the gargant, but they are attacked by another huge snake, who starts chasing after the gargant. It misses Treno completely, and emerges near Pinnacle Rocks. Dagger is visited by Ramuh, an eidolon. After piecing together a story of his, Ramuh agrees to unlock Dagger's latent summoning ability, and allows her to summon him.
-Brahne is visited by Lani, a bounty hunter, whom she tells to search for Dagger and to destroy Vivi. Lani is aided by Amarant, who hooked up with her, having nothing better to do. He is intrigued after hearing that Zidane travels with Dagger.
-Zidane, Dagger, and Vivi head towards nearby Lindblum, but are shocked to see the Red Rose attacking it! Brahne wants Cid's crystal shard as well. She summons Atomos, who does major damage to Lindblum, completely destroying the Industrial Area. Alexandrian soldiers take over Linblum completely.
-Zidane and Garnet leave Vivi at the entrance, where he is soon captured by soldiers. Minister Artania takes Zidane and Garnet to the castle. Vivi is taken to the castle, but Cid recognizes him and rescues him, telling him to stay put. He tells the three travelers his discovery that Kuja is behind the Black Mages. Zidane decides to head to the Outer Continent to try to cut off Kuja at the source. However, airships cannot run without Mist, which doesn't exist in the Outer Continent, and the new prototype steamship Hilda Garde 2 is under Brahne's control. He tells them of the nearby Qu Marsh, which has a secret passage to the Outer Continent.
-In the Marsh they meet a strange Qu named Quina, who enjoys eating frogs. His/her master Quale tells Quina to join Zidane and search for culinary enlightenment. Quina also manages to uncover the hidden passage to Fossil Roo. Before they can proceed, they are chased by a huge metal monster, then met by Lani, whom they defeat. A complicated arrangement allows them to take a gargant to the Outer Continent. (You can also meet Quina before entering Gizamaluke's Grotto; s/he then stays behind at Cleyra and you meet him/her again in the marsh.)
-The first place they see is Conde Petie, a village of dwarfs. They spot a Black Mage from the nearby Black Mage Village there. They follow him to their well-hidden village, and Vivi discovers the others of his kind. He is appalled to find out that after a certain time, the Black Mages just "stop". The leader of the village, No. 288, befriends Vivi. Vivi and Zidane find out that Kuja has been flying around on a silver dragon to the northwest, and they resolve to head that way.
-Returning to Conde Petie, they find that the only way north is through a place called the Sanctuary (actually the Iifa Tree), but the dwarfs will only allow married couples to go there! At Dagger's behest, Zidane agrees to "marry" her so they can get through. (Quina and Vivi either go through during the hubbub caused later, or end up getting "married" themselves. 8p) Said hubbub is caused by Eiko, the survivor from Madain Sari, stealing food from the dwarves and running away. She's aided by her close moogle friend, Mog.
-They catch up with Eiko in the Mountain Path, where she gets stuck on a branch; Zidane and co. rescue her. Being smitten with Zidane, she agrees to take them north, but asks them to stop by Madain Sari first. They agree to accompany her. Zidane notices the Iifa Tree on the way there, and resolves to head there in hopes of finding useful information.
-Eiko (with the help of Quina and more moogles) cooks some fish and stew for them for supper. While she cooks, one of her moogle friends takes Zidane and Dagger to the nearby Eidolon Wall (a mural painted with pictures of eidolons). Dagger finds them familiar and oddly comforting. After the meal, Eiko tells them that the Iifa Tree has been sealed by a powerful eidolon, and needs another eidolon to unseal it. She agrees to go with them to unseal the tree and allow them to enter.
-They head for the Iifa Tree, and Eiko lets them in. They travel all the way down to its root, and defeat the demon at its soul, causing the Mist to stop being created in the Mist Continent. (This paralyzes the airships that used to travel there.)
-While at the Tree, Lani and Amarant enter Madain Sari and steal Eiko's crystal shard. When Eiko comes to get it, Lani puts her to sleep and grabs her too. Lani uses Eiko as bait, telling Zidane that if he gives her Dagger's pendant, she'll give back Eiko. However, Amarant will step in and release Eiko (causing Lani to run away in fear), then challenge Zidane to a duel, which Zidane wins.
-Amarant, being a samurai-style warrior, tells Zidane that it's proper for Zidane to take his life, but Zidane refuses. Puzzled, Amarant decides to travel with Zidane to try to learn more about the way he lives his life. In the meantime, a boat ride by Dagger and Zidane restores most of Dagger's memories about her birthplace (but not her parents). Eiko, pleased that another Summoner survived, goes with them to the Iifa Tree to confront Kuja.
-They meet Kuja at the Iifa Tree; after a short monologue, Kuja sics monsters born from the Mist on them. They beat them, but before they can do anything Brahne arrives in Lindblum's water fleet and attacks Kuja. She tries to use her Black Mages against him, but the attack fails after a first strike by Kuja's monsters. She then summons Bahamut to destroy him. Dagger, insisting on helping her mother, finds the statue of Leviathan nearby; she then realizes that since Leviathan attacks using a tidal wave, and Brahne's forces are on water, it can't be used to help her.
-Garland intercepts Bahamut's attack using the Invincible and orders it to fire on the ships. (Apparently he doesn't wish Kuja's mission to fail, and is confident enough in Zidane's abilities to eventually defeat Kuja.) The ships are wrecked, and Brahne only survives long enough to apologize to her adopted daughter. Zidane and party take Brahne's escape pod back to Alexandria, where Brahne is buried.
-Dagger is designated to be the next queen. Vivi pops in to see Ruby's new mini-theater. Zidane, Freya, Amarant, and Eiko visit Dagger, but Zidane finds himself unable to talk to her. Before she leaves, Dagger gives Eiko one of her crystal shards, leaving each with two of them. Sensing her chance, Eiko tries to soften up Zidane, and a much-misplaced love letter from Eiko to Zidane (written by Doctor Tot) falls into several pairs of hands, ending up being seen by Steiner and Beatrix, each of whom assumes it's from the other, and they get mushy. 8-) After the weirdness, Doctor Tot invites Eiko to his home in Treno.
-Zorn and Thorn, having lost their former master, hook up with Kuja. Kuja takes the Hilda Garde 1 to the Black Mage Village. He enlists the sentient Black Mages there by telling them he knows the secret to extending their lifespan. Nearly all the Black Mages follow him.
-In Treno, Zidane decides to enter the nearby Card Tournament. His final opponent is none other than Cid, operating under his helper Erin. He's in Treno testing out the Hilda Garde 2 steamship, as well as defending his title of champion. (Quina has somehow made it to Treno as well. He hallucinates about food and falls in the river, though. 8-)) Regardless of the outcome of the tournament, Kuja chooses this moment to force the hands of Dagger and Eiko, who hold the crystal shards. He calls Bahamut to attack Alexandria, trying to get them back there and release the eidolon Alexander.
-Cid takes the party on the Hilda Garde 2 back to Alexandria. Steiner and Beatrix fight the Mist monsters released by Kuja in the city. Dagger's shard reacts to Bahamut's threat and creates the stairway to the altar of Alexander. Eiko, above on the airship, falls down to Dagger. The four shards interact and Alexander awakens, shielding Alexandria with his wings. Alexander destroys (or de-summons) the incoming Bahamut. However, before Kuja can grab Alexander, Garland takes over the Invincible and foils Kuja's plans by destroying Alexander completely, and most of the city, and the Hilda Garde 2, with it. Beatrix cannot be found after the attack. Kuja escapes on the Hilda Garde 1. The Tantalus members again come to the rescue, stealing a boat from the Alexandria harbor and taking it (and Zidane, Dagger, and the rest) to Lindblum.
-With Alexandria destroyed and Dagger's eidolons escaped, Kuja decides to take another tack and head to Mount Gulug with Eiko to extract her eidolons. (I think it's because the extraction must take place in a certain location, and that part of Alexandria is ruined. The Gulug Stone is identical to stones in the lab in Bran Bal, but I'm not sure of its significance.) However, to get there he needs the Gulug Stone, kept in Oeilvert. However, there's a barrier against magic there, meaning Kuja's mostly useless in it. So he lets Zidane come to him, intending to send him to get it.
-In Lindblum (where Freya and Steiner have regrouped with the rest), Dagger has completely lost her voice and her hope during the past events. Quina is washed up by the Serpent's Gate in Lindblum (Zidane eventually finds him gorging out on gysahl pickles, and s/he rejoins the party). Cid is trying to recreate another steamship, but as an oglop his thinking skills are diminished. He asks Zidane to help him find a way to turn him back into a human. Doctor Tot has an idea about a potion, which Zidane scurries around Lindblum finding the ingredients to, but all the potion does is turn Cid into a frog! That being the last straw, he decides that only by finding his wife Hilda could he return to his former self. Zidane takes Cid to the Black Mage Village using the Blue Narciss water vessel (the one stolen from Alexandria), hoping to find some clue (since the sentient Black Mages were seen on the Hilda Garde 1).
-Only No. 288 and two more remain in the Black Mage Village (the other two are taking care of a newborn chocobo). No. 288 tells Vivi of the location of Kuja's secret desert castle, and Vivi and Zidane resolve to head there to cut off Kuja at the source.
-Kuja captures the entire party before they can do anything, and tells Zidane that he must travel to Oeilvert using the Hilda Garde 1 (watched over by Zorn and Thorn) and get the Gulug Stone for him. Otherwise, his friends go down the tube. Zidane reluctantly agrees.
-Zidane retrieves the Stone from Oeilvert, and discovers more about Terra when he does. In the meanwhile, Cid the frog manages to escape his cell and rescue the others. They head through Kuja's maze-like desert palace, finally arriving at his inner sanctum.
-Zidane has arrived by now and has been bidden to enter the inner sanctum alone. Kuja grabs the Stone using magic before Zidane can do anything. The others rush in to save him, but Eiko is stopped and captured by Zorn and Thorn. Kuja disappears before anyone can do anything.
-Zidane resolves to head to Mount Gulug to rescue Eiko. To reach it, they go through the village of Esto Gaza. Inside the extinct volcano, they see Zorn and Thorn trying to extract Eiko's eidolons. However, since she's under 16 (plus she's protected by Mog), the process doesn't work, just causing her pain. Her moogle friend, Mog, goes into a Trance condition and reveals herself to be an eidolon. Mog (aka Madeen) knocks out Zorn and Thorn. Kuja is surprised at seeing Madeen's Trance, recognizing a new weapon possibility. Kuja leaves on the Hilda Garde 1, heading back for Terra. He wants to use the Invincible's gathered souls to create an artificial Trance state which he can use to destroy Garland.
-Zorn and Thorn merge into a single monster, but is/are defeated by Zidane. They discover Hilda being held in a nearby room. She thanks them for rescuing her, and they head back to Lindblum, where she finally restores Cid to his real form. She tells them about a place called Ipsen's Castle, an upside-down castle on the Forgotten Continent, which Kuja has hinted holds the key to entering Terra via the Shimmering Isle. With Cid's mind restored, he quickly finishes the Hilda Garde 3, allowing them to travel there.
-Before they can leave, though, Dagger disappears. Steiner and the Tantalus members search all over for her. Zidane joins the search, heading to Alexandria, and is surprised to meet Beatrix, who has apparently survived Kuja's attack on Alexandria. Beatrix tells him that Dagger is probably at Brahne's grave. He finds her there, with her voice intact! Dagger cuts her hair short to symbolize her separation from her past, and rejoins Zidane.
-The group travels to Ipsen's messed-up castle. Amarant leaves the party, betting Zidane that he can reach the end first. The party makes their way through the weird castle to find Amarant and four Elemental mirrors. Amarant taunts them, then leaves. The four mirrors are designed to be placed at four shrines throughout the world, and activated simultaneously. However, before they use them, Zidane realizes that Amarant hasn't made it out. He goes back in to find Amarant wounded, and rescues him. Again, Amarant is puzzled at Zidane's behavior.
-The eight party members decide to split up, two for each shrine. Eiko and Dagger head to the Water Shrine, Freya and Amarant to the Fire Shrine, Steiner and Vivi to the Wind Shrine, and Zidane and Quina to the Earth Shrine. They defeat the four guardians of the shrines and place the mirrors there. The Shimmering Isle near Esto Gaza begins to light up and becomes the entrance into Terra.
-The Hilda Garde 3 is sucked into the Shimmering Island. Zidane is met by Garland, who invites him to visit Terra again. Mikoto guides them to Bran Bal, the city of Genomes. At the entrance, they catch a glimpse of the Invincible, Garland's soul-sucking ship. Dagger faints at the memory of what it did to Madain Sari, and the rest of the party bring her to the village. Zidane is confounded by the sight of everyone who looks like him, but lack any personality at all.
-Mikoto confronts Zidane and tells him that he's a special Genome and that Garland wishes to speak with him. Confused, Zidane agrees to follow her to Pandemonium, Garland's castle. In the meanwhile, Eiko, Vivi, Quina, and Amarant begin searching for Zidane. Mikoto tells them that Zidane went himself to meet Garland.
-Garland tells Zidane of his true identity and his destiny. Zidane refuses to accept his "angel of death" destiny, and attacks Garland. Garland drains Zidane's soul, and leaves him, assuming he's now just an empty shell like the other Genomes.
-While Garland thinks that Zidane is just an empty vessel, his memories do not desert him. Words of his friends come back, trying to revive him. At first they just make him confused and angry. Zidane's friends arrive to rescue him, but he is lost in his thoughts. Angry, hurt, and bewildered, he decides that his friends don't deserve to be caught up in his struggle. He tries to shake them off, but they cling to him and protect him from the monsters who attack him. Eventually they convince him of his foolishness, and he accepts their friendship once more.
-The party members make their way through Pandemonium to find Garland. He summons a dragon, whom they defeat, then go after Garland himself. They wound him, but Kuja decides to show up then in the Invincible. He attacks Zidane and party, then, after being severely hurt, finally uses the Invincible's souls to go into a Trance.
-Kuja drops Garland off a nearby cliff. However, Garland's voice reaches him and tells him that he is designed to die soon after Zidane matures. Overcome with ironic despair, Kuja decides to take everything in the world with him. He destroys Terra in a rage of magical power. Eiko discovers the Invincible waiting for them, and tells Zidane that they can escape on it. Zidane goes back to Bran Bal to rescue the Genomes first, though, and Dagger comes with him. The party members and the Genomes barely make it out of Terra before it collapses.
-They discover the entire world covered in Mist! Kuja has traveled to the Iifa Tree and somehow opened the way to Memoria. Memoria is a strange world embedded with the memories of everyone in existence (particularly those of Zidane's party). It also acts as the entrance to the Crystal World. The Crystal inside there is the start and end to all reality, and Kuja intends to destroy it. (I believe the Mist has been caused by the death of all of Terra's souls; remember that Mist is just stagnated souls thrown out of the soul cycle; since Terra's soul cycle no longer exists, they end up as Mist.)
-Zidane drops off the Genomes in Black Mage Village, where they seem to get on fine with the Black Mages, both of them being automata. Zidane visits Cid in Lindblum, who wishes him luck. He heads towards the Iifa Tree.
-Zidane is attacked by dozens of silver dragons. He makes his way past them, aided by the Alexandrian and Lindblum air fleets (working again due to the Mist), and enters Memoria. Garland guides him through Memoria, giving him snippets of hints about all memory and the universe being from one source, the Crystal. They finally find their way into the Crystal World and confront Kuja in his Trance. Kuja tells them his desire of destroying the Crystal and everything with it.
-They manage to defeat Kuja, but are visited by Necron. Necron is the embodiment of annihilation, a being who believes that the desire of all is to return to nothingness, a belief reinforced by Kuja's desire to destroy the Crystal. Zidane and party attack Necron and manage to destroy it.
-Before the Iifa Tree destroys itself, Kuja teleports the party out of there, deciding that he has finally found a reason to live. Mikoto (aboard the Red Rose with General Beatrix) senses Zidane and communicates to Cid on the Hilda Garde 3. The party escapes on the waiting airship, but Zidane decides to go back to rescue Kuja. He finds him just before the Iifa Tree explodes...

Some Time Later:
-Vivi ends up having several children, all of which resemble him. Whether or not Vivi actually dies is a matter of some dispute, but general consensus is that he does.
-Freya and Fratley get back together. Although Fratley still remembers nothing of Freya from before, Freya is still happy to be with him.
-Amarant pairs up with Lani again, but only as a frienship of convenience.
-Beatrix decides to leave Alexandria for good. Steiner discovers her intentions and convinces her not to, finally confessing his love for her.
-Cid and Hilda end up adopting Eiko, mostly out of Eiko's desire for it.
-Tantalus put on another show of "I Want To Be Your Canary". All of the party members, and Vivi's children, return to Alexandria to see it. Here's how it runs this time:

-Marcus visits Cornelia at night on the parapet, declaring his love for her. She is captured by Blank after he leaves. Blank brings her to Leo, but Leo slays him, fearing that he might betray Leo as he betrayed Marcus. Marcus waits the next morning for Cornelia, but she never comes...
-This time, Cordelia's lover Marcus is covered in a robe. At the appropriately dramatic moment, Zidane reveals himself. Overcome with emotion, Dagger rushes to him, but her crystal shard breaks off as she runs through the crowd. She leaves it where it lies, and embraces Zidane one last time.

Side Quests:
-The Chocobo Forest has a baby Chocobo named Choco, who allows Zidane to ride him if he feeds it Gysahl Greens. Using Chocographs (map hints) hidden in the Forest, Choco can search for treasure, including upgrades to his abilities that allows him to run over rivers, mountains, oceans, and even to fly. Eventually he uncovers the location of a Chocobo Lagoon and the Chocobo Air Garden (which flies in the air), both of which have more Chocographs. Finally he uncovers the Chocobo's Paradise, where he is surrounded by Chocobo friends. However, Zidane is stuck there... Choco finally returns to his friends and tells the Fat Chocobo (leader of the Chocobos in Paradise) that he will return later.
-As you travel around, the Moogles will give you letters to deliver via Mognet. You'll also get Kupo Nuts from grateful moogles. Eventually you discover that Mognet Central has stopped working. Finally taking Choco to visit it, Zidane finds that Artemicion, the head of Mognet, has used the Superslick item (needed to keep the Mognet machine greased) for his own coat, and is in desperate need of more. Ruby from Tantalus has some for her hair, and borrowing it and giving it to Artemicion restarts the system and gets you a Protect Ring. The Kupo Nuts can be given to Moguta in Gizamaluke's Grotto for items.
-Jumping rope and racing the Hippaul in Alexandria can get you special cards and rare items.
-Old man Morrid in the Observation Tower near Dali is a coffee connoisseur. Finding three coffees from around the world (South Gate, Madain Sari, and the Mayor's house in Dali) will net you the Mini-Prima Vista model.
-The Nero brothers from Tantalus set up a gambling house in Alexandria after the attack by Kuja. You can win mucho gil from them.
-A weird creature called the Ragtime Mouse lives in the forests of the world and has a quiz game for you. Winning consistenly gets you some nice gil.
-Queen Stella, a duck living in Treno, is searching for artwork by Stellazio. There are 13 in all. She rewards you if you find them. After finding the first twelve, she returns them to you and demands that you decipher the story on the backs of them. The story involves the 12 Zodiac signs, and asks who kissed Virgo; the answer is Scorpius. Returning to Quan's Dwelling will unearth the 13th Stellazio, Ophiuchus. Stella will reward you with Cinna's hammer when you give it to her; the hammer opens two small extra scenes during the ending of the game.
-You can fight various monsters in a house in Treno; only one per time region. You get various rewards for beating them.
-Quina can catch frogs in the Qu's Marshes around the world. As s/he catches more, the power of his/her Frog Drop attack will rise. Also, his/her master Quale will give him/her special items. If s/he catches 99 frogs, Quale will attack. Beating him gets you Quina's best weapon.
-A monster named Tantarian dwells in a book in the Alexandria Library. He's quite tough, but you don't get anything for beating him.
-Return to Quan's Dwelling after the attack on Alexandria with Quina. He has a dream sequence about food, then is visited by Quale and a vision of Quan. Quan is disappointed in Quale because of his lack of vision. He says that Vivi has opened his eyes to enlightenment besides for food. Quale leaves, upset, and the nearby clock now has a pair of Running Shoes.
-A hidden town named Daguerreo is home to many of the best shops and synth shops in the world.
-A four-armed man in Daguerreo (also seen in some Active Time Action events in Treno) is here as well. Other than winning airship cards from him, raise your Treasure Hunter rank by finding treasure and completing the Chocobo Hot and Cold quest. He'll eventually reveal his true identity: Gilgamesh, from FF5!
-A man in Daguerreo asks to see the Namingway Card if you have it. He becomes inspired and offers to change your name if you so desire.
-Many items can be bought at the Treno Auction. Two of them are Une's Mirror and Dorga's Artifact. Taking these to the phonograph in Black Mage Village will play a tune from FF3.
-Another item is the Magical Fingertip. Taking it to a man in Daguerreo will get Steiner's Excalibur sword from him.
-There are several "friendly" creatures throughout the game. They ask for a certain mineral to satiate their hunger. Giving it to them yields a lot of AP and another mineral, used in the next fight. Meeting all nine creatures allows you to attack Ozma directly with physical attacks.
-In the Chocobo's Air Garden is a hidden eidolon wall where a monster called Ozma (resembles a small planet) lurks. This is the toughest fight in the game.
-Getting to Memoria in under 12 hours allows you to receive the Excalibur II, the most powerful sword in the game.
-Hades, the world's best synthesist, lurks in Memoria. Beating him allows you to synthesize some of the best weapons and armor in the game.

Questions and Notes:
-I believe the letter during the ending is written by Vivi; it's in his style, and mentions things like loneliness that I don't think Garnet would have written. He also says "farewell, to everyone" at the end, which indicates that he isn't coming back. Evidence to Vivi's death, methinks.
-I'm not entirely clear on why Garland kept destroying the eidolons. Mikoto mentioned something about the Gaians not being able to go to war properly until the eidolons were harnessed, but in Memoria Garland mentions being afraid of the eidolons. My thoughts were that Kuja intended on using the eidolons against Garland which is why they were destroyed.