Several hours later, Robert, Edgar, Leto, and Crash regain control of their senses, and they take a moment to compare notes about what they just experienced. While most of it seemed a nonsensical jumble, a handful of images stand out – a monochromatic tower, a vast dark expanse, a vibrant lagoon, all on a heretofore unknown miasma-free continent to the North. As Crash rubs his sore shoulder, he feels something that wasn’t there before: a crystal brand. They thus realize they’ve become Shards, and in typical Shard fashion have no idea what exactly they’re expected to do; however, it clearly has something to do with the northern continent, so northward it is.
First, however, they must make it to Edgar’s docks in the Working Center. The party weaves in and out of corporate districts, attempting to avoid drawing attention as while the skies ominously darken. They make it about two-thirds of the way to the docks before being halted by White Shroud security. Apparently there is now an open bounty on all three of them (they lost Leto at some point), and they are ordered to submit or be subdued. Naturally, they fight, but the Shrouds are more competent than the Briars the party previously fought, and the battle gradually goes south. That is, until Scorpion mercenaries show up on nearby rooftops, armed with crossbows and portable ballistas. Harsh words are exchanged, and the dwarves begin taking potshots at both the party and the Shrouds, with the party slipping away in the confusion.
Leto had broken off when she felt her handler from the Crystal Seekers following her. She discovered he was quite unhappy that she had violated her original contract to bring in Robert, damaging the Seeker’s reputation, and that she had turned her back on him and her employers. Though there is a brief and disjointed verbal confrontation, the merc refuses to raise a sword to her, instead advising Leto to skip town before he’s hired to take her out.
The party, minus Leto, makes it to the docks without any further incident, only to find a Mountie contingent laying in wait between them and Edgar’s ships. The storm chooses this moment to break, and lightning strikes the ground in between the two sides, leaving behind a certain individual. The Mounties order him to stand down, but he only shrugs and lights a cigarette; as he does so, the Axis River briefly overflows its banks and the entire contingent is swept into the water. He reveals himself to be Ioren, an emissary of Gaia tasked to follow them and see what happens. The party starts to question him, but when they receive rambles instead of answers they wisely stop, and board the Hades Executioner, one of Edgar’s fishing vessels.
As they do so, they hear several distressed "kweh"’s in a nearby alley, followed by silence, followed by Leto dragging a dead Mounty chocobo behind her, which she affixes like a figurehead on the Executioner despite Edgar’s protests.
The group sets sail up the Axis River, with Mounty patrols following them along the banks but taking no action. They make it to the ocean before they are ambushed by a Deepwater Horizon boarding team, rising from the ocean like water spirits. They manage to dispatch the lieutenant and fend of the rest with the help of their mysterious new companion, but with the fighting over they discover a pair of Scorpion vessels have closed in on them, almost within ballista range. Ioren swims over and gives them a gentle push; both vessels are rushed well back into the River.
With their pursuit forestalled, and the storm finally dissipating, the party sets sail for a place which, until recently, they didn’t even know exist, and that they have no idea how to reach. Rest assured, Ioren tells them, they’ll end up wherever Gaia may take them.