The President of Esthar and Future Plans
Board the Ragnarok again, fly to Esthar and enter the city (follow the roads until one terminates at the central, U-shaped building) and when you appear inside via the left, exit the screen to reach the hub near the city entrance. Sadly, the lifter doesn't seem to be working, so you'll have to make your way to the Presidential Palace on foot. Exit by heading up (use the ramp near the tube), the continue up, up and finally left to find yourself outside the palace. Enter the building by heading up, then use the lift (the one operational lift in the city, it seems) before heading left until you reach a door guarded by two Esthar Soldiers. Enter and beyond you'll meet the president, who is, as ever, joined by his trusty associates - Ward and Kiros.
Ask Laguna whatever questions you with to learn about his plan to find out that... you've got a lot of work ahead of you. The first thing you'll have to do is rescue Ellone and deal with Adel, both of which are in Lunatic Pandora, and the rest just gets weirder from there. Sounds far-fetched, but it might finally give you a way to strike at Ultimecia herself, and a longshot is better than nothing.
When Odine leaves and Laguna takes a break, challenge him to a game of cards. When he asks to mix rules, decline until he drops the issue - you don't want to mix the rules of the Lunar Base with Esthar. Play him until he puts up his Squall Card and win it from him to finally complete your collection of Level 10 Player cards. Not just that, Squall is a pretty potent playing card, too, rivaling Seifer's card in stats, but differing in orientation. The Squall card can also be refined into three Three Stars items, which in turn can each be refined into 100x Triple spells, should you have a need for more. You can also use Three Stars to each a GF the Expendx3-1 ability, which will cause Triple to only expend one spell per cast instead of three. Probably best to keep this as a card, however, seeing as how you'll be able to gain access to as many Triple spells as you could possibly ever need.
After you secure the Squall Card, talk to Laguna and learn what you can - if you ask What are you doing here? you can learn about Adel's fall, how Laguna became president, and see some movies that you otherwise wouldn't be privy to. At the very least it explains how the Ragnarok came to be adrift in space.
Finally talk to Laguna and agree to carry out his mission, after which you'll return to the Ragnarok to get another briefing from Laguna, who babbles incessantly about love, friendship, and other vapid platitudes. When he finally shuts up you'll be able to depart and will be in control of Ragnarok again - no more distractions this time, ignore Lunatic Pandora for now and consider taking on some optional content.
First, there are two islands - the Island Closest to Heaven and the Island Closest to Hell - that can only be accessed with the Ragnarok where high-tier spells live. If you still needed any spells, these are the places to get them, and you might as well stock up while you've got the chance, and before you attempt any optional, late-game content. This is covered in the Islands Closest to Heaven and Hell section of the guide.
After that it'll be time to head to Cactuar Island (near the Kashkabald Desert and tame another GF. This is pretty straight-forward, and is covered in the Jumbo Cactuar section of the guide.
The final two GFs can both be found in the Deep Sea Research Center, which is split into two sections for reasons that'll become obvious as you explore that area. Basically, Part 1 will cover you getting the first GF, and Part 2 will cover the second... and a fight with a superboss. No big deal.
After you acquire the final GF from aforementioned superboss it'll be time to gather some rare items, which you can use to teach your GFs some choice abliities. If you don't have Chocobo World and you feel like wasting a whole bunch of time to scrounge for goodies, you'll be able to do so with the Angelo Search ability. It, too, will be covered in its own section.
After that it'll be time to wrap up the game's final side quests, which will also give you some rare items you can use to teach GFs some new tricks. These quests include the Obel Lake Quest, the UFO Quest and the Queen of Cards Quest. Yes, finally time to finish that last one up.
Finally, after you have all the game's GFs and know how to acquire top-tier abilities for them, it'll be time to work on your characters. There are multiple ways to min-max your stats, and they'll be discussed in the Max Stat Boosting section of the guide.
If you don't want to do any or some of that, you can of course continue with the main story by skipping ahead to Lunatic Pandora - Part 2. Be warned, however, as there's a point of no return that'll lock you out of some content - basically anything that takes place in a city/civilized area. While you can still do most of the aforementioned content, you should be sure to have completed the CC Group quest in Balamb Garden if you haven't done so already, and finish up the Queen of Cards questline, as you won't be able to do them later if you skip them now.