I don’t know where or when Dissidia takes place, but it seems to be in a universe beyond their spacetime. This means the normal logic of their world doesn’t apply. The cycle repeats endlessly, in the same place, for all eternity. How did they get there? Cosmos and Chaos had to summon them, but how? At any time, but one theory is during sleep or death.
The whole “it was all a dream” trope comes to play here, but it works. Most of our characters slept at inns. Whenever they fall asleep, the flagship character would travel to Cosmos… Cosmos wouldn’t interrupt them from their travels, and they’d still retain their memory of their journey. Same for death; right before throwing a phoenix down on them, they’d arrive in Dissidia’s setting. And every characters’ arc mirrors what they will learn in their respective games, right? It’s like their subconscious telling them to
Every Final Fantasy game except for the first has phoenix downs. Conveniently, Warrior of Light arrives at Cornelia with the rest
Wouldn’t their endless battles take a while? Think about the Freymarch. Time flows differently there. A few seconds is like a couple of hours. Since Dissidia resides outside of normal spacetime, a battle in Dissidia might last a second. And the characters would return with only a faint hint of what happened to them.
So then, in a sense, this was like a dream for them or a near-death experience. But they remember nothing of it when they awake, ensuring they still have a lot to learn on their journey:
- Warrior of Light: ?
- Firion: Unknown.
- Onion Knight: Unknown.
- Cecil Harvey: During The After Years **when he went unconscious.
- Kain Highwind: At Mount Ordeals.
- Bartz Klauser: Sometime after the first fight with Exdeath.
- Terra Branford: Probably during the one year time lapse of the World of Ruin.
- Cloud Strife: He fell into the Lifestream when he suffered a mental breakdown.
- Tifa Lockhart: She followed him into the Lifestream.
- Squall Leonhart: When Squall was unconscious due to Edea throwing a ice javelin at his shoulder.
- Laguna Loire: A bed-ridden Laguna while Raine nursed him back to health, having a fever dream.
- Zidane Tribal: Spending time with Kuja at the Iifa tree.
- Tidus: Faded to the Farplane.
- Yuna: We’ll find out in Final Fantasy X-3.
- Shantotto: While attempting to perfect a spell of inter-dimensional travel.
- Prishe: ?
- Vaan: Probably got into an airship crash; saved at the last minute.
- Lightning: Trapped in another dimension after the ending of Final Fantasy XIII.
What were the rest of the team doing at the time?
- Final Fantasy I: They were around, perhaps?
- Final Fantasy II: On the “real” adventure.
- Final Fantasy III: Luneth and company had to go on their adventure without him.
- Final Fantasy IV: Going to the moon for a second time.
- Final Fantasy V: Living life and sneaking out to meet up.
- Final Fantasy VI: Still adjusting to life with Kefka.
- Final Fantasy VII: Cid took over the party.
- Final Fantasy VIII: Locked away in cell block D-District Prison.
- Final Fantasy IX: Worrying about his fate; accepted his demise.
- Final Fantasy X: Living a Sin-free life.
- Final Fantasy XI: ?
- Final Fantasy XII: No one noticed. He’s usually goes out into towns to collect weapons and items for everyone.
- Final Fantasy XIII: Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief and quickly forgot about her.
As a bonus, none of this happened, and it was all apart of someone else’s dream:
- Final Fantasy I: The WoLs died during their first encounter with Garland.
- Final Fantasy II: Firion died from Emperor’s monsters before Hilda came along.
- Final Fantasy III: The orphans all died during the earthquake.
- Final Fantasy IV: Cecil died during the mission to Myst.
- Final Fantasy V: Goblins killed Bartz.
- Final Fantasy VI: Terra actually died with Biggs and Wedge.
- Final Fantasy VII: Cloud didn’t land safely on the flowers in Sector 5.
- Final Fantasy VIII: Seifer killed Squall in the opening FMV.
- Final Fantasy IX: When the Prima Vista was shot down, Zidane died in the crash.
- Final Fantasy X: When Sin attacked during the blitzball game, Tidus died.
- Final Fantasy XI: The Warrior of Light wasn’t around.
- Final Fantasy XII: Reks died. The whole thing is Reks’ dream.
- Final Fantasy XIII: The group became ceith.
But this a theory for another time…