Easy Exodus fight:
For an easy Exodus fight, equip Marche with a Blaze robe or a flame shield. Both of these will Nullify Babus' "Explode" and attacks from his fire-enhanced Lotus Mace. Therefore this leaves him only able to hurt you by using "Demi" which halves your Hp, so it can't kill you!
The first 8 main missions are:
The 5th and 8th missions are crystal battles and you equip a Moogle with the "Twisted Flow" crystal and Nu Mou with the "Hot Awakining" crystal. Both give you the "Totema" ability on the "ACTION" screen of an engagement.
In the mission "The Cheetahs" you meet Ritz your friend who is not happy about something (but im not going to tell you unless you really want me to.) You will also see Mewt in the crystal battles who is with Ritz about that "something."
After the mission "Thesis Hunt" you will start in "clan wars" which means you can fight other clans on the world map.
After the mission "The Cheetahs" you can listen to a rumor about linking which will bring up the "Link" selection on the start menu on the world map.
No "Hot Awakening" is not the last mission because the mission "Magic Wood" in the place called "Koringwood." And don't stop there some sub quests will also help you along your journey.
(supplied by: GoldenSunLOVER3)
5 secret characters:
To get all 5 secret characters you first have to beat the game. You can only get one of the characters before you beat the game and that's ezel, but it's almost impossible so you might as well wait.
Shara - Clear a maidens cry mission, then enter a town.
Ritz - Clear the mortal snow mission.
Ezel - Choose gossip in the card shop, then clear the reconcilliation mission.
Babus - Clear the left behind mission, then enter a town and clear the with babus mission.
Cid - Clear all 300 numbered missions.
(supplied by: Imbambam12)