The Backplot of Xenogears
In 1998 the Squaresoft title, Xenogears, made its way to the United States from Japan, only slightly mangled in the translation. This game was an instant success on the Playstation console, but the game had one major, major problem. No one understood the plot. This document is to, once and for all, spell out the Backplot of Xenogears in simple language, so people can better appreciate the game. If you hadn’t guessed…
THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
That said the sources for this document include the game itself, the Xenogears: Perfect Works art book released by Digicom, and the backplot released for the Xenogears prequel, Xenosaga. Now…
In the beginning, there was Earth. On this planet a 2001-esque monolith was discovered, and subsequently named Zohar. This is the golden-eye thing that Id migrates to near the end of the second disc.
After much experimentation people learn how to draw immense amounts of power from Zohar, and so their civilization flourished. They moved out into space and populated the stars. However, things were not peaceful for long as they encountered another spacefaring race – totally inscrutable and very aggressive. War ensued, and went badly for the human race.
Eventually, scientists devised a new sort of weapon based on the power of Zohar and the newly discovered art of nanobiology – where the line between microscopic machine and living organism blurred. This intelligent weapon was a planetary invasion device, designed to automatically take over and obliterate a planet and its population. The device used so much energy that it required Zohar’s physical presence to operate, but this was no longer a barrier as humans had learned enough about Zohar’s power to do without it on their own.
The weapon was successful. Too successful. It utterly destroyed the first alien planet on which it was unleashed, scaring the bajeezus out of its creators. They decided that this weapon was truly too dangerous to ever consider using again, and so it was slated to be destroyed via insertion into a black hole, Zohar and all.
The ship designated to transport the weapon was the Eldridge, a passenger ship headed presumably to someplace more pleasant than where it ended up. This is the ship seen in the opening cut-scene of Xenogears, and its long, central pillar eventually becomes Babel Tower. Other parts of the ship, specifically where the weapon was stored, became Merkava.
To sterilize the weapon for safe transport the actual body and brain of the machine was separated from the Zohar Modifier, its power source. This was supposed to render the machine inoperable until such a time when it could be destroyed. What its makers failed to account for was the sheer perfection with which they made their creation, and that it would not willingly let itself be prevented from fulfilling its function. From the second it was disconnected from Zohar, the machine began searching for a new power source.
Midway to the black hole, still stored in the Eldridge’s belly, the machine found what it was looking for. Twisting its component parts into shapes undreamed of by its creators, the machine formed a dimensional gate and dragged forth a being from some higher plane to be its new power source. This had many, many, many unexpected effects.
Firstly, the machine was successful. It had its power, and commenced its attack on the Eldridge, priming up for its next planetary assault. This attack is portrayed in the opening cut-scene. The machine, using the incredible adaptability bestowed by its nano-based technology completely subverted and absorbed the ship, turning its own defense systems against the fleeing passengers, shooting escape pods as they jettisoned. It’s important to note the individual defense pods in this sequence – they appear in mini-version in Babel Tower and later Roni Fatima would restore a full-sized one to function to serve as his base (and house the Fatima family treasure, later renamed Ft. Jasper by Bart).
Secondly, the extra-dimensional being was not happy. Being trapped in this limited dimension was like being stuffed in a box, but faced with the power of the machine, the Waveform Being (as it came to be known) could do little but negotiate. It managed to take control of a signifigent portion of the machine, but not enough to gain its freedom.
Thirdly, this event had a profound effect on the one person present at the time (unknown as to why). A young boy named Abel, perhaps three or four years old, was present when the machine made contact with the Waveform Being and bound it to his will. There is a scene in the movie, ‘Ghostbusters’, where Gozer orders the ghostbusting team to choose the form of their destruction, because it could not choose on its own. This is what I compare what happened to – the Waveform Being entered this dimension, but had no perceptible form. Its form was imposed upon it by the first person to choose what he wanted to see – in this case, young Abel, terrified by the machine, wished fervently only for his mother. From this moment, there was a bond between Abel and the Waveform Being, and while Abel would take some of the Being’s powers, the Being would forever be marked by Abel’s desire for his mother.
This all happens in an instant, and then the machine begins its attack on the Eldridge. The captain orders everyone to evacuate, and then when it becomes apparent that the ship is doomed, activates the self-destruct mechanism and blows the ship to pieces. At the time, they were in orbit around a planet inhabited only by the primitive race of Chu-chus, and the debris of the explosion rained down upon its surface.
There is one survivor: Abel, aided by the power of the Waveform Being, awakes alone in a strange new world.
The machine, on the other hand, was blown into three distinct parts in the destruction of the Eldridge. The first, the Zohar Modifier, slammed into the icy cap of the planet, and was buried for thousands of years. Second, the Kadomony Reactor, which produced the machine’s biological elements, landed in some unknown region. Lastly, the Merkava, which housed its main weapons systems, crashed into the central sea.
The machine, even in its splintered state, still tried to put itself back together again and to fulfill its intended function: to destroy planets. To this end, the Kadomony Reactor produced an avatar to bring about the machine’s repair. This is the woman seen at the end of the opening cut scene. She is later referred to as ‘The Mother’, but it is important to note she is NEITHER Elly nor Miang. Because…
The Waveform Being chose this moment to assert itself. Using what little control it gained, it split The Mother in two, both physically and in personality. One of the resulting women is Miang, who possess a great deal of the machine’s remaining power and exists only to repair it. The other is Elly: the personal avatar of the Waveform Being, who is imbued with what power the Being could bestow, as well as everything that Abel gave it upon its arrivall. The result was that Elly possessed, throughout her many lives, a kind, caring, motherly demeanor that again and again Abel found irresistible.
Having played the game, you might have noticed that both Elly and Fei had lived many lives. Their names change from era to era, but their personalities remain the same. In Fei’s case, he is reborn into every generation because, long ago, he stood before the Waveform Being as Abel, and received from it power. In Elly’s case, she is reborn again and again because Miang keeps recurring; they are two sides of the same coin. They sprang from the same source, and share the same design. Their goals are only different because their patrons are different. It’s important to note that while Miang’s memories are completely transferred when she takes a new form, Elly and Fei’s memories are only dimly recalled when they are born into the next generation. No reason is known for this.
Now begins the long march of history on the world of Xenogears. Miang goes about her duty to repair the machine, then called Deus, by first creating a man to serve as caretaker of all the people who would follow: Emperor Cain. Together they produce the twelve members of the Gazel Ministry, and from there begin to populate the world. Cain and the Gazel are immortal in the classic sense – they do not die, though the Gazel (not Cain) may be killed. This is different from Miang’s immortality, where she (the Will of Deus) has the ability to inhabit the body of any woman. This possibility is hard-coded into their DNA and is not debatable.
Meanwhile, Elly and Abel find each other. Not much is known about their relationship at this time, but they are eventually hunted down and killed by Cain and the Gazel. They are later born into successive generations and join the march of the human race, the majority of which lived totally ignorant of Deus, Miang, or their origins as a species.
Deus needs spare parts. People contain the correct biological elements to provide these spare parts. So Miang went about filling the world with people. This heralds the beginning of the Zeboim Age, where giant cities were constructed and high technology was restored. Fei and Elly were both born into this age: Elly as Elly (she’s always Elly), and Fei as a man named Kim, who was a brilliant scientist in the field of nanotechnology.
Miang was also there, of course, manipulating the world toward her own hidden agenda. These people – the first race of humans, was far too warlike for her uses. They kept threatening to stomp each other out. So Miang, faced with a decision, decided to scrap it all and start over again. Using the powers given to her by Deus, she flipped a switch in the next generation of women (of which Elly was one) being born into the world, such that they were born sterile. This would wipe the world clean in a mere matter of decades, and she would be free to start again.
Fei, then Kim, reacted with frustration to the state of the world, and the eminent demise of his civilization. Totally oblivious to Miang and her machinations, he vows to solve some of the hurting in the world with his invention of Emerelda – a ‘living’ nanorobot colony in the shape of a young girl. However, the government of the time, seeing only military application in his creation, kill Kim as he tries to protect her. Emerelda spends much of the next ten thousand years in stasis in the heart of a Zeboim power plant.
Miang achieves her goal, and the human race is started up once again, this time on a much smaller scale. Instead of quantity, with continent-crossing cities, Miang goes for quality, with small, concentrated pools of essential biological material. This continues for some time, with Miang gradually refining humanity. It is in this generation that the Limiter gene is introduced – a cap on the potential each human being was allowed to realize. This was placed directly into the DNA of the new human generation, so to keep their concentrated powers from ever becoming a threat to Miang, Cain, or the Gazel.
This is the age of Gears. Given to humanity as a way to evaluate their potential, Gears are giant machines intended to eventually become the metallic parts of Deus. Their power sources, provided by the Gazel Ministry, drew energy directly from the Zohar Modifier, located by Miang but still sealed in ice.
This time, trouble comes in the form of rebellion. Roughly 500 years before present-game, the populace comes to realize the exact extent to which Miang is manipulating them all, and there is war between them and the Gazel Ministry. This is the age of Roni Fatima and Lacan – who is yet another Fei. Elly in this age is represented by Sophia (Lacan still calls her Elly), who eventually becomes Mother Sophia, founder of the Nisan Sect. Throughout this war Sophia displays her trademark motherly demeanor, playing the figurehead of a much larger conflict. She hates the war, but can do nothing about it.
This is the first appearance of the Omnigears and the Anima Relics. These relics were major components of Deus’ adaptive offensive system, and were lost with the destruction of the Eldridge. Several of these were found during this war, and it was discovered they could be bound with normal Gears to create Omnigears – machines of tremendous power. Against this, Cain and his Gazel Ministry could not stand. They drew back and built the city of Etrenank in the middle of the ocean. This city was a marvel – suspended in the sky on a giant pillar of steel, with inverted gravity so that to look up was to see the world, and down was to see the sky. Here the Gazel ministry set up a permanent home, and then cloaked their city so none could find it against their will. From the Etrenank, they could wage war as they pleased, but they still preferred to negotiate.
The resistance had gathered around the island of Nisan, with a splinter group building a great capital at the peak of Babel Tower to combat the power of Etrenank. This capital would come to be known as Shevat, and they were the ones who negotiated the end of the war. The deal was this: They wanted Miang, who they believed was behind the manipulation of the human race. Cain and the Ministry agreed, knowing that Miang could switch bodies at any time, but demanded that the figurehead of the resistance – Mother Sophia – be turned over to them in return. In a moment of terrible betrayal, the Shevat elders agreed. This is when Taura and Belsathzar left Shevat and went their own ways.
The deal struck, the Ministry turned over Miang and launched a surprise attack against Nisan, with Shevat staying out of the way. The battle was hopeless, lead by the majority of the Ministry in a giant airship. Sophia, knowing the betrayal, sacrificed herself to destroy this ship, killing nine out of the twelve Gazel Ministers. Thus ended the war on a bitter, bitter note, with Shevat eventually launching itself into the sky and separating itself from the world, Cain and the remaining Ministry still plotting from their hidden Etrenank, and the remaining peoples of Nisan, Kislev, Aveh, and Elru going on with the shocked lives much as they had before the war.
Two men were changed forever by Shevat’s Betrayal. The first, a man named Krelian, had been the captain of Sophia’s personal guard and was very much in love with her, though he recognized that she did not return the feelings. In this, he was content to be her protector and fought valiantly during the war. Sophia changed his life, introducing him to science and literature and eventually Taura, from who he learned the rudiments of nanotechnology. Krelian became a very dedicated, very scientific individual, whose one reservation was at Sophia’s belief in God.. a hallmark of the times and the eventual centerpiece of the modern Nisan Sect. He balked at the concept, and when Sophia’s God failed to save her from Shevat’s betrayal, he couldn’t accept it. Screaming to the sky he swore "I’ll make God with my own two hands!", and vanished, missing for generations.
The second man sent spinning by this event was Lacan, the current incarnation of Fei. In this life, Lacan was an artist, and had no great part in the war, save to paint the famous picture of Mother Sophia and prop his Elly up in her time of trial. Even though Krelian knew Lacan was the reason Sophia would never love him, he bore him no enmity, and the two were friends – both dedicated to the same goal of keeping Sophia safe.
Lacan bore the betrayal differently from Krelian. He drew inwards, brooding, depressed. Eventually, he went to see Miang in her cell – the person that was deemed more valuable than his precious Elly. Here Miang saw a tremendous opportunity. She recognized Lacan for being the current incarnation of Abel, the little boy of so-long ago, and knew that he possessed a great deal of the Waveform Being’s power within him – power needed to fully revive Deus, so she decided to take a risk and greatly accelerate her plans. She told him where to find the Zohar Modifier, deep in the ice to the north, and she told him all the answers he ever needed lay there. She knew that if he would ever come in contact with the Modifier, it would try to absorb the power conveyed upon him by the Waveform Being, completing a necessary step in the repair of Deus.
So Lacan, driven by despair, traveled north into the icy wastes, and eventually found the Modifier, right were Miang said it would be. There he and the Zohar had a contest of wills for the possession of Lacan’s being (or Abel’s being, to be precise), but contrary to Miang’s prediction Lacan won. Lacan won huge, and as a result could command the massive power of the Zohar Modifier at will. This marks the beginning of the Diabolos invasion.
Lacan then broke the barriers surrounding the Merkava and traveled to the heart of Deus, where no man had gone since Abel’s unfortunate incursion thousands of years previous. He brought up Deus’ memory and looked at the answers Miang promised him. He saw the Zohar Modifier, and its purpose. He saw the creation of Deus, and the Eldridge. He saw Miang’s true purpose, but not his own. Due to the fogged nature of his memories, Lacan still remembered nothing of his previous lives. He saw only Miang behind everything, and saw how hopeless it was to kill her any single time; how she’d be born again and again so long as the human race lasted.
So he reached a decision. His precious Elly had been sacrificed for nothing. The human race existed only to repair a monstrous weapon of destruction. In that moment he named himself Grahf, the Seeker of Power, and vowed to destroy the world to spite Deus and deny him his resurrection. He is the One Who Bared His Teeth at God.
Raising the four pillars of Deus (its main weapons system, seen in the final confrontation as the four glowing orbs) and unleashed demons to eradicate humanity. Solaris at Etrenank, Shevat, and the assorted grounded nations all bore the brunt of this assault. His main purpose being the prevention of Deus’ resurrection, Grahf hit Etrenank hard, wiping out the Solaris forces and killing the remaining Gazel Ministers. He could not, however, kill Cain, as he was made to be truly immortal.
It was neither Solaris, nor Shevat that beat back the Diabolos invasion: it was the land dwellers of Nisan, Aveh, and Kislev, riding their omingears and eventually overcoming Grahf and killing him… but this was not the end.
While Grahf’s first death marked the end of the Diabolos confrontation and the beginning of the age that Xenogears is set in, Grahf himself had grown far too powerful to truly die. By his connection to the Zohar Modifier he was able to transcend death and gained the ability to possess other bodies, much in the same way Miang possessed women. However, the Waveform Being’s gift to Abel, passed on to Lacan, was lost at this death. The result was a devastating blow to Grahf’s power, and as he now drew only from the Zohar Modifier to keep himself alive, Miang had influence over him. Never complete control, but the two begin working together at this point. Grahf’s main goal from then on is to regain the power of the Waveform Being by merging with someone who possessed it – namely the game’s protagonist and the next incarnation of Abel, Fei Fong Wong.
Here Krelian resurfaces, as a student of Emperor Cain. Krelian bought his place in the Solaris infrastructure through his extensive scientific knowledge, and specifically by reviving the Gazel Ministry in the form of computer data in a massive system dubbed the SOL-9000. From this moment Krelian is working from inside Etrenank towards his own goals, using both the Ministry and Cain as he would.
500 years pass. Some of those who fought against Solaris and the Diabolos live on, thanks to the incredible technology garnered during the era. Some of these are Zephyr, Queen of Shevat, Taura, and Krelian. Grahf hops from body to body, searching for Abel’s next incarnation, and Miang continues to work towards the resurrection of Deus. Both Shevat and Solaris, still bitter enemies, withdraw from the world and the four major countries left (Aveh, Kislev, Nisan, and Elru) go about trying to rebuild their lives.
Much technology had been lost during the series of wars, and both Shevat and Solaris went about building this back up. Solaris established the Ethos organization to distribute technology and control the populace. Shevat donated technology in more covert manners, by sponsoring specific individuals and trying to undermine Solaris’ control.
Around this time Krelian, who has survived all this time by replacing most of his body with an Emerelda-esque nanocolony, realizes that one day he will need Cain out of his way, so he begins the construction of Ramsus, a direct clone of Cain. To give this project an acceptable purpose, on the surface, he tells Cain and the Ministry that he is trying to make an artificial Contact – which is the way they refer to Abel and his possession of the Waveform’s powers.
This project is cut short by the earliest event in the Xenogears: Miang switches bodies and by random chance ends up in the body of Fei’s mother. She immediately recognizes him for Abel’s descendant, and as such there was no need for an artificial contact (Fei was the one). Ramsus was discarded: thrown into the lowest levels of Etrenank society. This memory haunts him for the rest of his life and his fear of rejection (and hatred of Fei, for whom he was abandoned) becomes the defining moment in the development of his personality.
Meanwhile, Miang makes contact with Solaris to run tests on Fei, and to try to find some way of extracting the Waveform’s essence. She dares not risk the creation of another Grahf by exposing young Fei to the Zohar Modifier directly. Fei’s father, Khan, worked as a spy for Shevat, and as such was gone for extended periods of time. His main duty was to hunt down and destroy the latest incarnation of Grahf, who Shevat still held in mortal fear. Miang did not tell Grahf about the discovery of Abel’s next incarnation.
Fei, perhaps three years old, is subjected to excruciating experiments while in Miang’s possession. When his father was around, Miang pretended to still be his mother, so he never suspected, and never believed what little Fei tried to tell him. So the experiments continued, and Fei eventually had the first of the personality splits that marks his character. All his pain, all his frustration, all his anger he delegated onto a shell personality, Id, while the original Fei personality focused on the happy memories before Miang possessed his mother. Fei One withdrew into himself, while Fei Two, Id, suffered, eventually twisting the personality into the destructive force that it seen in the game.
Eventually, Khan grows suspicious about his son’s stories and learns the truth about what is going on and who his wife really is. This leads to the dramatic confrontation in front of Fei’s house that is replayed many times in cut-scene form. As Fei’s father confronts Miang, Grahf appears to possess little Fei. Both Khan and Miang oppose this, but in the end it’s little Fei who decides the battle. Id surfaces for the first time in this meeting, for a short, subdued burst, killing both Grahf’s body.. and his mother. Id retreats, and little Fei withdraws into himself for good.
Grahf, with his body destroyed, possess Khan and whisks young Fei away, but Grahf was far from happy. Khan proved an extremely difficult possession, and Grahf was already in very weak from Fei’s assault. The result was that Grahf was never able to fully control Khan, and as a further result could never focus enough to possess Fei. So Grahf did the next best thing.. he nurtured Fei’s Id personality and used it to destroy the world for him.
For many years both Khan and Grahf warred back and forth on Fei’s behalf. Grahf always encouraging Id, and Khan working as he could to repress Id’s destructive nature. Things come to a head some years later when rebellion breaks out in the country of Elru, separated from the other three countries by the ocean. To put down this rebellion, Solaris, through Miang, sends Grahf. Grahf, however, sends Id, in Lacan’s old Omnigear "Weltall".
Id levels Elru. There is nothing left. There’s a large black hole on the overworld map in the Xenogears world… that’s where Elru was. Id totally destroyed the country. There was only one survivor: a girl named Dominia, who later joins Ramsus’ revival of the Elements in Jugend.
After this great, violent exertion, even Id is given a moment of pause. Khan, in control at the time, sizes the moment to erect a third personality – Fei Three, the Fei in the game world – over Id. He then takes Fei to Lahan village, in Kislev, where he entrusts him to the village elder. Fei is raised from this point, hidden from both Miang and Grahf, with both his original personality and Id dormant within him, until the formal start of Xenogears, when the current incarnation of Elly (really named Elyham this time) ‘accidentally’ crash lands a stolen Weltall (the same Weltall) into Lahan, where Fei foolishly boards it to try to save his village. Grahf appears – he had set up this whole encounter – in an attempt to taunt Id out of hiding. It works. Id wakes up and levels Lahan, and in the aftermath Fei is banished from the village.
At this time, the game formally begins. A continued essay, complete with the cast of characters, their motivations, and their actions would be impossibly huge.. and they should be rather easy to understand, in light of this document. Feel free to /msg me with questions.