Prologue and Battle
Now that you have completed all of the starting items the game begins with a very impressive CS of Lightning in her tower in Valhalla and as she tells you about the events that put her where she is, you are introduced to one the antagonist, and one of the protagonists of the game. Caius is seen placing Yeul's body into the water for her funeral, and then turning his attention to Lightning -- whose butt he plans on kicking!
A war now breaks out between the forces of Lightning and the forces of Caius -- and you eventually gain control of Lightning for a brief battle that is more tutorial than it is a challenge, because as long as you hit the prompted actions you should win it...
Your part in this begins with the Active Time Battle Tutorial - you may as well go through that now to refresh yourself if you played the previous game and to learn the system if you did not. Using the auto battle option gives you a preview of the different types of attacks so go ahead and do that, and when you are prompted to complete the cinematic action sequences that progress your encounter. Try to nail these perfectly if you can since there is an Achievement / Trophy for getting a certain number perfectly.
Cinematic Action Sequences
-- Cinematic Action Sequences --
Basically this is what Timed Button Sequences are called in XIII-2 -- short segments of battle in which you must wait to be prompted on screen to perform a specific action, like push up on the left joystick, hit a designated button, or rapidly hit a designated button. If you complete these without missing any in the sequence it is added to your stats and, when you reach the required number (I believe that is 50) you unlock an Achievement/Trophy for your troubles!
The thing about the CAS is that in addition to counting towards that stat it also causes decent amounts of damage to the enemy, and in places even allows you to choose the type of damage that you will deliver, which makes the battle a little shorter when you succeed in getting off the attack, and keeps you a bit healthier when you succeed in getting off the defensive move. That being the case, you have very good motivation to try to always succeed at this!
-- Introducing Noel Kreiss --
At the mid-point in the battle it will appear as if it is over, and as that happens Lightning notices the gate opening and a human form being ejected from it high in the sky and summons Odin to fly up and rescue the endangered fellow -- who as it turns out is one of the game protagonists, Noel Kreiss. After Lightning rescues him the battle resumes and, assuming you are diligent in using the auto attack option or you experiment with choosing the attacks yourself and are successful, the battle will carry out to its conclusion.
Bear in mind that even if you use the auto attack option, as long as you are diligent about doing so on time you should finish this battle with 5-stars -- with an average battle time of around 1 to 2 minutes for a battle with a target time of 15 minutes... An easy 5-star battle to be sure, but then it is also a battle for which you receive no rewards -- no Gil (the money in the game is called Gil) and no drops. But that is OK, this was really a tutorial after all, and you should not expect to be paid for learning, right?
Now about Noel Kreiss -- he is one of the primary protagonists in the game as mentioned above, and happens to be the last remaining human from 700 years in the future. He has traveled into the past hoping to change the fate that befell his world/time, and this quest began with a wish that took him through space and time to Valhalla where he meets Lightning, who will set him on the path towards his goal but also for her own selfish reasons, towards a goal of her own.
Noel Kreiss gets his Mission
Noel is something of an enigma -- and not just because the journey through time and a few paradoxes have given him memory issues -- but mostly because he is not really used to dealing with other humans... Because of that unfamiliarity he does not react the way that most of the people he meets expect him to, which while useful in battle (he tends to remain calmer than those around him) is a decided disability when it comes to issues that he himself finds emotional. He feels overly protective towards the people he has decided that he likes, and very protective over the humans he decides he loves, which leads to some confrontations later.
Just 18-years-old, Noel is skilled in dual-hand swords, and sports a Flame Fossil (dual swords/lance) and a plain gladius-style blade in his off-hand, though technically since he is ambidextrous, he does not have an off-hand, so you will have to work that out for yourself... His own time has instilled in him a marked reluctance to hurt or kill people, though when forced to he will, and it has given him a deep-seated dislike for people who he considered to be too violent. Still, Lightning could not have chosen a better protector for her little sister, and that is sort of the point to all of this.
After the battle ends and the two are safely on the ground Lightning tells Noel what she wants him to do -- find her sister Serah and bring her to Lightning. She confirms for him that with her sister he can change the future -- and as that is what he wants, it is welcome news. Lightning summons a Moogle that turns into a weapon as a gift for her sister, and then they are once again visited by Caius, and as Lightning and he do battle, Noel leaps for the gate and is gone.
A note about Moogles: in the worlds of Final Fantasy there are certain iconic creatures who factor into the stories and about whom a great deal of fan/gamer appreciation and like is involved. The Moogles factor in as a sort of companion and servant to to different races of characters in the FF worlds -- perhaps more prominently in games like Final Fantasy XI (which was an MMO in which every player had a Moogle Servant in their home), so the inclusion of the Moogles here really sort of carries on a well established tradition. Like the Moogles, another being that appears in many of the FF games are Chocobo, a bird-like mount that the characters train, ride, and race.